Know Your Lore: Alleria Windrunner
Most people who play World of Warcraft know who Sylvanas Windrunner is, and quite a few probably know who Vereesa Windrunner is, especially if they read War Crimes. But it’s been a while since we got to see Alleria Windrunner, unless you count a few jokes on loading screens. Now, however, she’s making an appearance in Hearthstone and so we get to talk about who she was, what she did, what her legacy was and is to this day.
Alleria fought in the Second War. Not much is known of her life before the war — it’s known she had two sisters, Sylvanas and Vereesa, and a brother named Lirath. As a Farstrider, Alleria was dedicated to the defense of Quel’thalas, and she defended it well — many Amani trolls died with her arrows in their hearts. As such, she found her skills in demand when her king was forced to honor his oaths.
When the orcs invaded Lordaeron, the high elves of Silvermoon wanted nothing to do with the fight, but they were bound to honor the request of the last descendant of the bloodline of the Arathi kings, Anduin Lothar. He held them to their ancient oaths, but their king, Anasterian Sunstrider, did not take the orcs seriously. He was less concerned with upholding his oath than he was with finally having it gone, and so sent only a token force to defend the humans. Alleria was one, a Farstrider who impressed Lothar and his second in command Turalyon with her skill as a tracker and a hunter. She and Turalyon grew closer, despite her people’s tendency to look down on humans as dangerous, short-lived savages. And she grew to realize that the orcs, far from a minor human problem, were a bloodthirsty Horde that could swallow the entire continent if left unchecked.
She warned her people, but they would not heed her — and her family paid the price.
When the orcs came for Silvermoon, their people suffered for trusting a Sunstrider. It wouldn’t be the last time, either. The Windrunner family, long established as a powerful force in high elven society, was nearly utterly destroyed. Alleria led her human allies under the command of Turalyon north, arriving in time to help save Quel’thalas itself, but too late for Alleria.
Orcs following Orgrim Doomhammer pushed deep into the forests of the high elven stronghold, threatening the very heart of their kingdom, Silvermoon itself. At the behest of Zul’jin and the Amani Trolls, his allies, Doomhammer and the orcs committed many atrocities upon the high elves, and the Windrunner family suffered more than most. Alleria’s brother Lirath and eighteen other members of her family died at their hands. Alleria quickly came to a simple decision — the orcs killed her family. Now she would kill orcs.
For the rest of the Second War, Alleria was a woman possessed. Even hardened soldiers like Turalyon (who had grown to love Alleria during their time fighting in Lordaeron) were shocked by her brutality and disregard for orc lives. To Alleria, orcs were less than vermin, to be slaughtered at her whim. She managed to shame Anasterian (who realized too late that his unwillingness to really contribute to the war had only brought disaster upon his own people) and finally got the high elves to commit fully to the destruction of the Horde. A high elven fleet arrived off the coast of Lordaeron and relieved the besieged city when Doomhammer was on the verge of capturing it, and helped harry the Horde south to Blackrock Mountain and its ultimate defeat.
But the end of the war brought no peace for Alleria. While her sisters both fought to defend Quel’thalas, she now fought purely for vengeance. She couldn’t put the deaths of her family behind her — Lirath, her aunts and uncles, dead and gone. She hunted the orcs in the woods and wild places they’d fled to, and any orcs she encountered were lucky to survive and flee deeper. Many did not. Her relationship with Turalyon seemed over, a brief moment in the heat of the war swallowed up by the person she was now. Her sisters and other friends from the Farstriders could see that she was greatly changed, but none could deny that whatever she’d lost, her ability to strike down orcs was second to none.
As a result, when the Alliance fostered an expedition beyond the Dark Portal, Alleria was selected to go. Horde forces were raiding Azeroth for mystical artifacts, and the Alliance (mired in disagreement as it was) still recognized that the Horde couldn’t be allowed to regroup and prove a threat.
Before she left, she had an old family heirloom left to her by her parents broken down into three pendants, one for her and one each for her two sisters, a last gift and legacy for them. It’s impossible to say that what this meant, aside from the fact that behind her grief and rage there was still a deep and abiding love for her two younger sisters. In time, Sylvanas would become Ranger General, a position Alleria never held, and in that role would find herself defending Silvermoon from a foe even more devastatingly powerful and evil than the Horde.
Alleria helped lead the Alliance Expedition during its quest to defeat the Horde of Draenor. She and Turalyon eventually rekindled their relationship when the Paladin shared with her his own pain and loss and grief over the death of Anduin Lothar, his failure to save the man who was his mentor and friend, and his ultimate realization that revenge could not bring the man back. Alleria confessed in turn that, having lost so many she loved, she couldn’t bear the idea of losing another — this had led her to push him away, and now it led them back together.
This may be when she concieved and bore Arator, her half-elven son with Turalyon. (We really have very little in the way of details about Arator’s life.) We know that Alleria sent her rangers off with Danath Trollbane to help rescue Kurdran Wildhammer, while she herself aided Khadgar and Turalyon as they confronted Deathwing himself in his lair to retrieve the Skull of Gul’dan. Ultimately, the Alliance Expedition defeated the Horde, but not before Ner’zhul dealt Draenor a death blow by using the magical artifacts he’d had stolen to open several portals to other realities. Khadgar used the Book of Medivh and the Skull of Gul’dan to seal off Draenor from Azeroth just in time to save the world they’d come from, but the entire Alliance Expedition, including Alleria, was trapped on the shattered world of Outland.
Since this time, no one truly knows what has happened to Alleria Windrunner. Her son hunts for his parents, her old friends say they do not know her fate. Does her appearance in Hearthstone presage the return of Alleria? If so, what would her reaction be — her sisters divided, her people gone over to the Horde that murdered her family?
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