Know Your Lore: The return of the Silver Hand
In a hidden grove on the border of the Eastern Plaguelands, Tirion Fordring lived a quiet life of isolation. The world had changed since his days as a Paladin of the Silver Hand, and not for the better. Lordaeron was gone, essentially wiped from existence by the Scourge during the Third War, and little remained but ruins. Ruins of a lost kingdom, ruins of Tirion’s former life … and ruins of the Silver Hand.
While remnants of the Silver Hand remained in Ironforge and Stormwind, Lordaeron’s chapter — the first chapter — vanished. Between Arthas’ treachery, Uther’s death, and the rise of the Scourge, the Silver Hand reshaped itself into a new order. An order zealously dedicated to the purpose of eradicating the threat of the Scourge.
They called themselves the Scarlet Crusade.
Young Taelan Fordring didn’t know what happened to his father at first. He was simply told that Tirion had died. His mother Karandra went so far as to take him to visit a false grave, where he buried the toy warhammer his father had given him on his seventh birthday, along with the memory of his father. But Taelan still had his father’s letter — and Taelan went on to make his father proud, eventually becoming a Paladin in his own right.
When the Scourge began their attacks on Lordaeron, Taelan — now rightful Lord of Mardenholde — offered Hearthglen to the Silver Hand as a place to rest and take shelter. Yet as the battles against the Scourge continued, the Silver Hand continued to falter. It was the death of Uther that was the death knell for the Silver Hand. Although Taelan fought valiantly and held out for as long as he could, he was eventually pushed back to the war torn hamlet of Northdale.
And there, he wondered to himself — were any of the Silver Hand still alive? Did it even matter, in the face of the overwhelming strength and horror of the Scourge? Faced with a crisis of faith, Taelan threw down the standard of the Silver Hand and renounced the order, leaving his tattered honor behind on the blood-soaked ground.
Highlord of the Scarlet Crusade
From the outside, the Scarlet Crusade looked like an excellent idea — an organization wholly dedicated to the task of cleansing the undead from Azeroth. In reality, the inner workings of the Crusade were rife with corruption from a different source. Saidan Dathrohan, Grand Crusader and leader of the order, had managed to cleverly manipulate himself into the role by turning Renault Mograine against his own father, Alexandros, and convincing him to kill the Highlord.
But it wasn’t Saidan pulling the strings. While separated from his colleagues during an assault on Stratholme, Dathrohan was captured, killed, and possessed by the Dreadlord Balnazzar. It was Balnazzar who manipulated Renault, Balnazzar who arraigned Alexandros’ death, and Balnazaar at the helm of the Scarlet Crusade.
And when Taelan joined the order, unaware of the internal corruption, it was Balnazzar who took Taelan under his wing. Under “Saidan’s” tutelage, Taelan quickly rose through the ranks. When Renault was killed, Taelan stepped up to take his place as the Scarlet Highlord.
The Scarlet Crusade continued their fight against the Scourge, but Balnazzar’s clever manipulations began to twist the order from within. Paranoia ran rampant through the order, spurring members to kill not just the undead, but any suspected of carrying the plague. And anyone who dared question the motives of the Scarlet Crusade? Oh, they were definitely carrying the plague, or sympathizing with the undead. After all, why else would they protest or even question such a noble cause?
As for Taelan, he was oblivious to it all, content with leading from Mardenholde and blind to the corruption that riddled the order. And in the Eastern Kingdoms, Tirion Fordring realized what had happened to his son and despaired. His words were forgotten, his son thought him dead, and all was certainly lost. His bitterness grew, and he could only watch as his son drew further away from his honor, and the Light.
Until one day, a wandering adventurer stumbled into Fordring’s camp. Heedless of Fordring’s true identity, the adventurer helped the old man with his troubles, impressing Fordring to the point that he revealed himself. The adventurer was both courageous and kind, strong and honorable — and at last, Tirion felt a flutter of hope. Although Tirion himself couldn’t save Taelan, perhaps this stranger could.
Memories and honor lost
Tirion was convinced that if Taelan could somehow remember who he once was — a good, noble man, a man of honor — he would realize the error of his ways. And hopefully he would renounce the Scarlet Crusade, and be reunited with his father at last. In truth, Tirion certainly had his honor even after he’d been exiled … but he lost his family in the process, and wanted his son back at his side.
And so the adventurer set out to reclaim reminders of Taelan’s life before the Scarlet Crusade. The lost standard, carelessly tossed aside and forgotten in Northdale. The warhammer he buried in his father’s “grave.” And a family portrait, painted when Taelan was just a boy, hidden away on the isle of Caer Darrow.
Disguised as a member of the Scarlet Crusade, the adventurer traveled to Hearthglen and presented Taelan with his father’s gifts. And Taelan remembered. He confessed to the stranger that he had dreams — that he had always had dreams: Dreams of standing at his father’s side, battling the Scourge and bringing honor to the Alliance and Lordaeron. The gifts were all the proof he needed — the Scarlet Crusade was a sham, and he the puppet of the Grand Crusader.
But no more.
In ashes, a new order rises
Taelan cut a swath through the Scarlet Crusade on his way out of Hearthglen, determined to be reunited with a father he’d thought long dead. Long-forgotten hope rose in his chest the closer he and the adventurer got to the main road — but before they could reach it, they were stopped by Grand Inquisitor Isillien. Grand Crusader Dathrohan had gotten wind of Taelan’s redemption, and wouldn’t allow it to stand.
Highlord Taelan Fordring would never lay eyes on his father. Before Tirion could get there, Isillien killed Taelen. Tirion arrived just in time to witness his son’s murder, too late to save him. Consumed by anguish, Tirion called on the Light for strength, and took his vengeance on Isillien, easily defeating him.
But it was too late for Taelan. And as he cradled his son’s body in his arms, Tirion realized that for every man like Isillien cut down, there were countless more to replace him. He’d been living in a haze, consumed with lamenting what could have been…what should have been. Although Taelan was gone, Tirion would not let his death be in vain — and Fordring vowed to restore the Silver Hand, dedicated to extinguishing the evils that plagued the world.
Tirion Fordring had lost everything but his honor, including what remained of his family. But he had the world to fight for — and nothing to hold him back. As Highlord of the Silver Hand, he would see the world returned to that bright and peaceful future he envisioned for his son so long ago or die trying to make it happen, the Light ever bright in his heart.
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