Know Your Lore: The children of Huln
The Tauren people of Azeroth descend from an ancient lineage that begat the Yaungol of Pandaria, the Taunka of Northrend and the Shu’halo of Kalimdor. These people were shaped by many factors. A nomadic people, they ranged down ancient Kalimdor into the lands held by the Mogu and were enslaved therein. They regained their freedom as part of the grand rebellion against the Mogu Empire. Then they fractured, some heading north to what is today Northrend, while others settled around the shores of the Well of Eternity.
It is these people who became the Tauren as we know them. Before the first coming of the Burning Legion to Azeroth, the Tauren lived an isolated life. They lived throughout the region surrounding the Well. One tribe settled on a vast mountain, as sacred to them as Hyjal or Zandalar were to others. Upon this mountain four tribes of Tauren came to reside, often struggling with one another for dominance over its crags and peaks.
The Rise of Huln
Huln of the Highmountain tribe was a typical Tauren of his time. He took part in the warfare between the tribes on the mountain. In those days the Skyhorn, Bloodtotem, Rivermane and Highmountain tribes contested for possession of the site. At times, this grew violent. When Huln was a young Tauren, he returned home to find his people slaughtered… but not by Tauren. Neither by Harpies, Furbolg or any of the other races the Tauren knew. There were strange traces about the bodies, a disquieting corruption unlike anything Huln had seen before.
Taking up Talonclaw, the Eagle Spear, Huln sought out the leaders of each of the other tribes. Through strength of arms and persuasion convinced them of the truth of his words — the Tauren were menaced by a new threat. Soon, confirmation came when the War of the Ancients began in earnest. Huln lead his people to ally with the Kaldorei despite the bigotry of some, finding a friend in Jarod Shadowsong. While working to defeat the Legion he saved the great white moose Eche’ro, and fought alongside the Wild God Omen. Huln also struck down the Doom Lord Xyburn as the Well of Eternity imploded, dragging the demons of the Legion back to the Twisting Nether.
Blessed by Cenarius for his role in saving Eche’ro, Huln returned to his native land a hero. But he did not simply retire. The fallen Aspect Neltharion had a lair on the slopes of the sacred mountain. Huln resolved to end the threat he posed to the region, making common cause with the native Drogbar who had endured generations of slavery and harsh punishments from the Aspect of Earth. Together, they braved the depths of Deathwing’s lair. There they found the Hammer of Khaz’goroth, which Huln used to banish Deathwing from Highmountain.
The naming of Highmountain
It should be said “From what would come to be known as Highmountain.” Because before Huln’s heroism, the mountain was not named Highmountain. It gained that name when the Tauren and Drogbar who lived on or beneath it chose to name it in Huln’s honor. No other had faced foes like he had — the demons of the Legion and the mad Aspect. The four tribes of the mountain who had followed Huln into the war carried the Blessing of Eche’ro as Huln himself did. It set them apart from their fellow Tauren as much as the Sundering had. Ancient Kalimdor was gone, and the Rivermane, Bloodtotem, and Skyhorn tribes accepted the Highmountain clan’s ascendancy. Huln was now indisputably leader of his people, at least so far as he knew.
Thousands of years passed before contact was re-established between the Tauren of Highmountain and those of Kalimdor. While the Shu’halo who endured on Kalimdor continued their nomadic ways, the ones on Highmountain did the opposite. The path of Huln and his people mirrored that which would be followed by Cairne Bloodhoof generations later. They settled into a life of hunting, fishing and farming, seeking no further expansion than the mountain.
Huln continued his adventures during this time. Advised by a Spiritwalker named Ebonhorn who was particularly loyal to him, Huln helped ward Highmountain against the influence of the Old Gods. He fought the corrupted Necrodark Drogbar who worshiped the Old Gods. And when Huln finally passed on, he left his spear Talonclaw to his successors as it had been left to him by his ancestors. His spirit was carried away by the Wild God Ohn’ahra the Eagle to its rest.
The return of the Legion
The Highmountain lived as Huln had taught them for thousands of years. They shared Highmountain and the Hammer of Khaz’goroth with the Drogbar who had assisted Huln in defeating Deathwing. The outside world continued on neither bothered by nor reaching them in their mountainous home. Highmountain stood, immovable and unaffected. They knew nothing of the coming of Gul’dan to the Broken Isles. Nor did they know of his raising of the Tomb of Sargeras from the bottom of the ocean.
But when the demons took possession of the destroyed land around the Temple and began invading the rest of the isles, the Highmountain were not wholly unaware. They realized the Hammer of Khaz’goroth could well be a target of the Legion. But even High Chieftain Ulan Highmountain didn’t foresee the treachery of the Drogbar under their Underking, Dargrul. The greedy Drogbar used the power of the Hammer to kill Ulan and many others of the Highmountain. It cost the tribes the chance to use the Hammer in the defense of Highmountain.
Ulan’s daughter Mayla took up the role of High Chieftain. With the help of Spiritwalker Ebonhorn and outsider heroes, she reunified the Highmountain tribes, and gained the allegiance of the Stonedark Drogbar. The treacherous Bloodtotem tribe were cast out for their decision to join the Legion and become the Feltotem. Ultimately, Highmountain was saved. The Hammer of Khaz’goroth was reclaimed. The Hammer was eventually used in the Tomb of Sargeras to seal the portals the Legion used to invade Azeroth.
To join the Horde
At the conclusion of the war against the Legion, Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner sought allies for the Horde. She ordered High Chieftain Baine Bloodhoof to reach out to his long-lost cousins. This he did, inviting Mayla and her people to a feast in their honor at Thunder Bluff. However, this soon proved complicated, as agents of the Old Gods attempted to corrupt Spiritwalker Ebonhorn and attacked the feast. Through the actions of the same hero who’d aided the Highmountain throughout the campaign to reclaim the Hammer of Khaz’goroth, the Old Gods were foiled and Ebonhorn saved from their influence.
As a result, the two High Chieftains reaffirmed their ancient bonds of kinship severed when the Sundering split Highmountain off from Kalimdor. Mayla brought the Highmountain into the Horde. Also, Baine discovered that Spiritwalker Ebonhorn was a Black Dragon. It was a secret now shared by himself, the Tauren who’d championed the Highmountain and Mayla herself. All swore to keep it between themselves. Mayla and the Highmountain were welcomed into the Horde, bringing the tenacity and tradition of battling foes like the Legion and the Old Gods into its ranks.
For the first time since the War of the Ancients, the children of Huln Highmountain walk with the Shu’halo again. With the Taunka already absorbed into the Horde’s folds during the War in Northrend, we may well be witnessing the reunification of a proud and powerful people as it grows towards a final destiny we can but barely see. In time, a Highmountain may even stand as Warchief of the Horde.
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