Know Your Lore: The tumultuous return of Varian Wrynn
The events we described last week would be more than enough chaos for any five lives, but Varian Wrynn was not destined to escape strife and bloodshed. Indeed, as eventful as his life had been up to that point — the destruction of Stormwind and assassination of his father, the restoration to his throne only to watch as his wife died and his allies were destroyed, the depression that followed — it was only the beginning for Varian. He would rule with a sword in his hand all his days, it seemed.
Still, let no one say that he did not attempt diplomacy and peace. For while Varian was skilled in combat, trained since childhood by Anduin Lothar and many others, war was not his ambition. Following his return to himself, Katrana Prestor soon found herself forced into a far less powerful role than the one she’d held during Varian’s ensorceled stupor. And for her, this would not do.
This would not do at all.
The King Betrayed
Despite his better judgement, King Varian allowed himself to be swayed by his son Anduin (the last remaining part of his deceased wife Tiffin) and agreed to attend talks in Theramore with Lady Jaina Proudmoore, who was attempting to broker peace between the Alliance and the Orcs of Durotar and their Horde. Varian hadn’t forgotten the assassin Garona, the half-orc who’d killed his father Llane, but he also felt that it was at least worth a conversation.
What he didn’t know at that time was that Prestor had achieved a degree of control over the Defias Brotherhood. The ship to Theramore was waylaid, and Varian brought to Alcaz Island, off the coast from Theramore itself. There, he would experience a dark ritual led by none other than Lady Prestor in her true identity as Onyxia, the Broodmother of the black dragonflight. The pain of the excruciating magics would divide Varian into two beings, one the repository of his rage and will to fight. It was this Varian that Onyxia intended to slay, and once those qualities were gone, she would rule Stormwind with the remainder of Varian as her puppet. And it might have worked, too, if not for those pesky Naga.
The Sea Witch and Siren Morgala Darksquall sensed the dark magics being invoked by Onyxia and her servants and attacked Alcaz Island to discover their source and potentially claim it for her own. In the fracas that followed, one of the Varians created by the spell was captured by the Naga, and the other managed to convince Onyxia that he’d been slain before escaping into the ocean to try and evade the return of the Naga. This proved to be a mistake, as the sea was filled with rocky shoals and dangerous currents, and Varian was caught up in these strange tides and eventually washed ashore in Durotar itself.
In the absence of the King, Bolvar Fordragon was appointed Regent-Lord of Stormwind. Thanks to a magical amulet she gave him, it was easy for Lady Prestor to manipulate Bolvar into having Anduin crowned in his father’s absence. With Lady Prestor in secret control of Bolvar, Anduin was effectively a puppet monarch, exactly as Lady Prestor had wished his father to be.
Lo’Gosh, the Wolf
Stripped of his identity, Varian woke to find a crocolisk attempting to eat him. He slew it with a spar of wood, but in his distracted state he was unable to evade the Orc Shaman Rehgar Earthfury who struck him unconscious with lightning. Rehgar was working for the Crimson Ring as the master of a team of gladiators, and having just lost his best warrior in the arena, saw something special in this nameless human who could kill a massive reptile with a pointed stick. Thus the King of Stormwind, devoid of his name or any idea of who he was, found himself called ‘Croc-Bait’ and fought in the ring as a gladiator.
In training, Varian refused to fight for the amusement of his captors. Surprisingly, Rehgar allowed this, but it soon became clear Varian would not allow an uneven fight to harm those who were to be his future teammates, Broll Bearmantle and Valeera Sanguinar. Rehgar exploited this to lure Varian into combat, where he showed his deadly nature by helping save his teammates before killing Hyku Steeledge, an orc gladiator, in single combat. Further combat at Dire Maul led to Varian being acclaimed as Lo’Gosh, the Ghost Wolf (also known by the Night Elves as Goldrinn, the Wolf Ancient).
A visit to Thunder Bluff and a meeting with Hamuul Runetotem, the Tauren Archdruid, led to the escape of Broll and Lo’Gosh from captivity. They flew from Thunder Bluff to Darnassus, where they met with Tyrande Whisperwind, who in turn sent them to Theramore and Jaina Proudmoore. There, the truth of Varian’s origin was revealed to him and the King resolved to return home. A battle with the Naga who’d attempted to capture him once before ended in the death of Morgala Darksquall, followed by Varian and his allies Broll and Valeera assisting Thargas Anvilmar in the defense of the Thandol Span. Here, Varian learned that an imposter had somehow returned to Stormwind and was even at that moment seated upon his throne.
The Two Kings
A trip to Blackrock Depths to free Marshall Reginald Windsor revealed the truth about Lady Prestor, and while Marshall Windsor paid with his life the black dragon was exposed. But not all was as it seemed — the imposter Varian was no mere pretender, fighting with poise and confidence where Lo’Gosh embodied rage. Onyxia fled Stormwind with Varian’s son Anduin in her claws, and the two Varians put aside their animosity to seek out a way to free him.
Returning to Theramore, Jaina managed to pierce the veil of dark magic that held both of them, and revealed the truth of Onyxia’s ritual to separate out those traits that she deemed undesirable in Varian’s being so she could kill them. Now that both of the halves of Varian were free of her magic, Jaina granted them a pair of elven blades, Shalla’tor and Ellenayne. Thus outfitted, they made their way with their allies to the swamp and the hidden lair of Onyxia. After an epic battle, the black dragon sought to finish the spell she’d intended to use to kill the half of Varian that had become Lo’Gosh, but the other Varian would not permit the repository of his courage to be so destroyed, and leapt into the spell attempting to take the brunt of it. Lo’Gosh followed suit, and while the spell was designed to destroy one Varian, it failed against two of them. Instead, it undid the original spell and both halves of the king were reunited.
It was as one man that Varian Wrynn struck down Onyxia with the combined blade Shalamayne, and then decapitated her to be displayed over the gates of Stormwind as a warning. Thus ended the Broodmother, and with her the decades of despondency and doubt that held Varian in check. Rejuvenated, newly restored to himself, and more skilled than ever he would turn his energies to the defense of Stormwind.
And just in time, for the Scourge was stirring in Northrend, led by a man who was once almost a brother to Varian — Arthas Menethil, the Lich King.
Next week we return to Lordaeron, and the story of Sylvanas Windrunner.
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