Know Your Lore: Baine Bloodhoof
Baine Bloodhoof certainly wasn’t a high-profile leader in Warlords of Draenor, nor was he more than a minor character in the events presented in Mists. But in the novels and behind the scenes, Baine has far more influence than you’d expect, both from a Tauren leader, and from a leader so new to his position. His father Cairne was killed in a mak’gora that took place just before the events of Cataclysm, so even by Warcraft’s timeline, Baine’s only been a leader for a few years by now.
Yet in those few short years he’s proven that not only is he the kind of leader that can follow in his father’s tremendous footsteps, he’s the kind of leader that others instinctively look to for advice, wisdom, and counsel. Is this a result of simply carrying the family name? I don’t think so.
Sure, there’s something about carrying the name Bloodhoof that immediately draws everyone’s attention. After all, Cairne was the Tauren who brought together the nomadic tribes, hoping to unite against the threat of centaur. He led the Tauren to Mulgore, and established Thunder Bluff. This was pretty revolutionary — the unification of the Tauren and the construction of Thunder Bluff all took place sometime between the end of the Third War and the beginning of World of Warcraft. It’s recent history for the Tauren.
Prior to that, the Tauren tribes were scattered, nomadic, and constantly dealing with the threat of the centaur. It was how life had always been, and it was Cairne who managed to successfully get across that this way of life wasn’t helping the Tauren at all: it was slowly killing them. Sure, Cairne joined the Horde and helped out Thrall and the Orcs, but Cairne’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t the alliance with the Horde, it was what he did for his people.
Cairne was made leader of the united tribes, both for what he’d done for the Tauren and because everyone agreed that he was pretty much the wisest among them. This meant that Cairne’s son, Baine, was also in that same spotlight, whether he wanted to be or not — and that he would be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps one day. It was pretty much why Baine was placed in charge of Bloodhoof Village — so that he could learn to lead as his father before him, and be prepared to take his place should his father fall.
But it’s doubtful that Baine thought it would be so soon. Not more than perhaps five or six years after Thunder Bluff was established, Cairne met his end in a mak’gora with Garrosh Hellscream.
It’s also doubtful that Baine thought taking his place as chieftain would be so complicated. Baine wasn’t entirely inexperienced — after all he’d been leading Bloodhoof Village and also filling in for his father while he was away during the Northrend campaign — but he wasn’t expecting the Grimtotem to immediately attempt a coup. He was warned of his impending assassination attempt and managed to escape…but he had precious few options to choose from for help.
His father had been killed by Garrosh Hellscream, and it was unknown if Garrosh was actually working with the Grimtotem or not. The Forsaken weren’t able to offer any kind of help, because they were already under the watchful eyes of Hellscream, and had been ever since the events after the Wrathgate. The Blood Elves were all on another continent, and there weren’t enough Darkspear to make any kind of significant difference, so Baine turned to the only person he could think of — Jaina Proudmoore.
While it was true that Jaina was part of the Alliance, she was also known for her attempts to come to some kind of diplomatic peace with Thrall. And although Jaina couldn’t give Baine military help, she could give him gold, which allowed him to hire Gazlowe and his Goblin engineers to put together a force of zeppelins that could attack Thunder Bluff by air, and explosives that would give Baine’s forces added firepower. And because of that help, Baine was able to re-take Thunder Bluff, kick the Grimtotem out, and take his rightful place as chieftain.
That left one person who hadn’t yet been dealt with — Garrosh Hellscream. And Baine didn’t bother beating around the bush: he confronted Garrosh directly over the matter, and accused him of working with Magatha. But when Garrosh revealed Magatha’s trickery, and that he didn’t know of the poison until it was too late to do anything, Baine realized Hellscream had no place in the plot. Rather than challenging Garrosh to mak’gora — which was his right, after what Garrosh had done — Baine chose instead to leave Hellscream be. The Tauren had already suffered enough, and the Horde needed to be united, not divided…united under one Warchief.
And while it seemed that all was well, Garrosh’s rule as Warchief of the Horde soon had Baine…not necessarily regretting his choice, but questioning it. He also questioned his own ability to lead, as rising demands from Garrosh put undue strain on all Tauren in Mulgore. It was enough of a strain that some Tauren were actually planning on leaving — leaving Mulgore, leaving the united Tauren tribes, and leaving the Horde. Baine managed to put a halt to that by successfully solving an issue between the Tauren and the Quillboar, but it didn’t solve the underlying issue: Garrosh Hellscream.
Sure, Garrosh respected the Tauren. They were huge, they had strong warriors. But that was all Garrosh really seemed to care about — resolving situations with brute force. And perhaps Hellscream expected the Tauren to fulfill that role because they were giants and warriors, but what he didn’t realize was that the Tauren, despite their size and battle prowess, weren’t fighters at heart. They were more than capable of defending themselves, but they weren’t about to upset the balance of nature to establish some kind of dominance over the land. They didn’t want to dominate the land at all — they simply wanted to take their place in it and live in peace.
And that was why Baine was a respected leader almost before he even took his rightful place as chieftain. Baine understood that Jaina Proudmoore was essentially an enemy, but she was also an honorable one. Her diplomatic leanings were something that Baine also understood, because he shared them. The Alliance weren’t an immediate threat as far as Baine was concerned — even Anduin Wrynn, the son of King Varian, had treated Baine with respect, sympathy and kindness while in Theramore, gifting the Tauren with the weapon Fearbreaker as a sign of friendship. Which is why, when Garrosh Hellscream proposed a direct attack on Theramore, Baine opposed it.
Did he remain in the Horde? Yes. Largely because it would have been far worse for the Tauren if he’d withdrawn, and also because his father pledged the Tauren to the Horde, and Baine didn’t want to dishonor his father’s wishes. But Baine was also slowly beginning to understand that the Horde was no longer what Cairne, what Thrall had envisioned — that the faction as a whole was being twisted into nothing more than Garrosh Hellscream’s war machine. So when it became clear that Hellscream was willing to do anything to conquer Kalimdor, Baine took matters into his own hands, and sent a messenger to Jaina Proudmoore with a warning — and with Fearbreaker as well, for Baine no longer felt he deserved to wield the weapon.
Baine was playing a dangerous game, and he knew it. But he also knew that Garrosh and his new allies, the Blackrock he’d invited into the Horde, were too strong a force for an already beleaguered Tauren nation to counter in the event that he fell out of Hellscream’s favor. So he walked the line of perfect obedience, giving Garrosh exactly what he asked for, but nothing more. Throughout Pandaria, Baine continued to offer peaceful alternatives to Garrosh’s more violent methods of resolving situations. And when Baine learned of the Darkspear Rebellion, he told Vol’jin it would be wise if the Troll looked for additional help from outside the Horde. After all, he’d seen the benefits of working with the Alliance first hand.
It’s interesting, given Baine’s short stint as a leader and his youth that the rest of the Horde would view him so highly. But that’s just the kind of leader Baine is — he’s even-tempered, capable of fighting back if necessary, but far more willing to look for the smart solution that doesn’t result in a needless loss of lives. It’s part of why he’s so beloved, and while Baine still might not fully comprehend just how much respect he carries within the Horde, he’s glad to lend advice or counsel when asked. It’s the right thing to do.
For those reasons, among many others, Baine was asked to defend Garrosh Hellscream during his trial at the Temple of the White Tiger. Baine didn’t want to do it. Why would he? He joined a rebellion against the former Warchief, and Garrosh was the Orc who killed his father, after all. Conflicted, he returned to Mulgore and consulted with the spirit of Cairne, listening closely to his father’s words.
“Answer this, and you will know what to do. If it grieves you that I was slain by treachery, can you then do anything but strive for perfect truth and integrity, even — perhaps especially — when it does not come easily? Can you not do your utmost to honor this role that has been given you?”
Those were words he immediately understood and agreed with, and he went on to defend Garrosh to the best of his ability without protest, despite his personal reservations. And that’s why Baine Bloodhoof leads and is viewed with the same respect, admiration and devotion his father held. He’s seen what the path of violence, of betrayal, of treachery brings, he’s seen what kind of heartbreak and sorrow it leads to, and it’s a path down which he is unwilling to let himself or his people tread. When asked for his advice, he will give the best he can give. When asked for his opinion, he will give it directly, and honestly.
And when anyone asks where the Tauren people will go from here, Baine might not have an immediate answer. But the Tauren rest easy in the knowledge that their leader will guide that journey with a gentle, wise hand at once familiar, and far younger than they remember, for Baine is every inch his father’s son.
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