Know Your Lore: The sacrifice of Darion Mograine
Darion Mograine willingly sacrificed his own life to save his father’s soul – and the Lich King had plans for the son of the Ashbringer. Brought back as a Death Knight, Darion wielded the corrupted weapon that at once struck down and cursed his father. Not long after, he was given the title of Highlord, and placed in charge of the Death Knight of Acherus. From the heights of the dread necropolis, Mograine set to work carrying out the Lich King’s task – eliminating the remaining living in the Eastern Plaguelands.
Maybe it was Darion’s origins that made him so expendable. Perhaps it was the acquaintances he’d made, relationships he’d fostered while he was still alive. Regardless, the Lich King had plans for Mograine – and they didn’t have a happy end in sight.
But then when one considers a Death Knight, one hardly thinks of any ending as particularly happy.
Highlord Darion Mograine set to work, training his troops and pitting them against the Scarlet Crusade in nearby Havenshire. Through it all, he demonstrated a zealous devotion to the Lich King. It was as if his living life simply ceased to be – scourged from his mind and memories. If he ever thought about the initial Battle for Light’s Hope, there was little evidence of it as he steadfastly worked towards the second assault.
But just as Darion’s existence had irrevocably changed following that initial battle, so too did the lives of others. Most notably, Tirion Fordring – no longer a hermit, now rejoined with the Silver Hand. Once, he had been visited by Darion Mograine. Once, Darion beseeched him to leave his solitude, to become a hero – and Tirion appeared to have taken the young man’s advice to heart. It was Tirion’s suggestion that had given Darion the key to freeing his father’s soul. In a way, Tirion Fordring was responsible for Darion’s death — and his current position.
Whether or not the Lich King was aware of this connection is unclear. But it would explain why Darion was put in charge of the forces intended to battle at Light’s Hope. They weren’t there to kill the living – oh, it was apt to be a side effect, but it wasn’t their main reason for attacking the chapel. The Lich King knew what lay beneath Light’s Hope…but he wanted Tirion Fordring.
What better way to lure him out, than with an army led by the man he held so many connections with?
Battle for Light’s Hope
In the end, the blade Darion carried ended up saving him, to a degree. As the Death Knights of Acherus tore through the Argent Dawn, the Ashbringer began to defy its wielder. Before he could think to react, the weapon began to fight back against Mograine. Soon, inexplicably, Darion was forced to stand down, and order his troops to do the same. And Tirion Fordring took the opportunity to point out what Darion simply couldn’t see – he was no leader. The Lich King sent him because he was unwilling to carry out the task on his own. The Lich King knew what lay beneath that little chapel – so did Darion.
But just to emphasize the point, the spirit of Alexandros Mograine arrived, to remind his son of who he’d been. Who he still was, in some aspects – who he had once aspired to be. And just as the memories threatened to overwhelm Darion, the Lich King arrived, claiming Alexadros’ spirit and confirming everything Tirion had to say. Darion and his knights were fodder. They were worthless, expendable. Their only purpose was to drag Fordring out of hiding – nothing more.
With astonishing clarity, Darion saw what had happened to him, and he made his choice. He threw the Ashbringer to Fordring, and once more Light’s Hope Chapel flared with holy Light. This time, channeled through Tirion and doing the seemingly impossible: purifying the Ashbringer. With weapon in hand, Tirion managed a single strike against the Lich King. It was enough to send him scurrying back to Northrend. And then, instead of striking Darion down where he stood, Tirion offered him mercy.
Darion had his wits, saw with clear eyes, and wanted revenge. Luckily, he had the Knights of the Ebon Blade to help accomplish it – and the assistance of the Argent Crusade.
Fall of the Lich King
It was a noble enough cause, although his motivations were anything but. In a way, Darion’s actions mirrored those of the Forsaken. When he came to his senses at Light’s Hope, he also remembered all that he’d lost. With that was the explicit knowledge that he could never have that life again. There was one being responsible for what he’d become – and he wanted that being exterminated.
Where Tirion was full of optimism and Light, Darion was almost the polar opposite. In a way, they complemented each other. When the Argent Crusade and the Ebon Blade came together to form the Ashen Verdict, it was a union of Light and darkness. Darion wasn’t there in the moment the Lich King fell. Doubtless he would have offered to take the helm himself, if he had. Still, he was made aware of Bolvar’s ascension to the Frozen Throne afterwards.
And he was also reunited with his father once more. Upon killing the Lich King, heroes discovered the soul shard that held his father’s spirit. When the shard was returned to Darion, Alexandros once more emerged.
Highlord Darion Mograine: Father…
Highlord Alexandros Mograine: Darion, my son. At last, I am able to lay my eyes upon you again.
Highlord Darion Mograine: Father. I feared for your… your sanity.
Highlord Alexandros Mograine: The Lich King tormented me without end, Darion. Endlessly, he sought to break my will, to force me to serve him, to bind me to his blade…Finally, when events demanded his full attention, he left me. The one memory, I clung to, Darion… The one thought that kept me from giving in… It was your sacrifice, my son, that again saved me from eternal peril.
Highlord Darion Mograine: Father… For you, I would give my life a thousand times.
Something in his father’s words resonated within Darion. In the years that followed, he quietly sought a way to free Bolvar of the task he’d undertaken. While unsuccessful, it was clear that Mograine’s priorities had shifted since the Lich King’s death. The Knights of the Ebon Blade no longer needed vengeance, nor did they have any particular task. It seemed almost as if Darion was seeking a new one for himself – finding another soul to save, now that his father’s had found its rest.
But the arrival of the Burning Legion was an immediate threat that needed to be addressed. To be clear – Darion Mograine didn’t trust the Lich King. There was a part of him that thought Bolvar could be somehow saved or redeemed, but he didn’t trust the Lich King at all. So when the Lich King reached out to the Ebon Blade and offered his assistance, he accepted – but it was with wary regard.
Luckily, Darion didn’t have to fulfill the role of the Lich King’s new champion. That was up to the Deathlord. Darion was content to serve under the Deathlord, although he became a source of constant questioning. Each time the Lich King offered up a new task, Darion showed some doubts…but he carried out his orders as asked.
The formation of a new group of Four Horsemen, however, brought about a new set of reservations. Still, Darion willingly served as each new member was added. It was the last member that brought him from quiet reservations to open protests. The Lich King didn’t want just anyone to lead – he wanted Tirion Fordring.
Tirion Fordring, who died in open defiance of the Burning Legion. Tirion Fordring, who once told a young lad the secret to saving his father’s soul. Highlord Tirion Fordring, one of the greatest champions the world had ever known – thanks to the gentle prodding of Darion Mograine, while he still lived. Once more, Darion returned to Light’s Hope Chapel…this time, to help claim the soul of a hero.
Darion had to know what would happen when they arrived. Not only did the Silver Hand present an immediate defense, the Chapel was also the final resting place of a thousand souls suffused with the Light. There was no conceivable way they’d come out of this alive, or undead. Yet he obediently followed the Deathlord into folly. The trap sprang shut, and it seemed all would perish – leaving Darion with another choice.
And much like he had with his father, Darion chose to sacrifice himself. He opened a Death Gate to let everyone flee, pushed the Deathlord through the Gate, and perished. His body was returned to Acherus. In a way, Darion ensured that Tirion Fordring would continue to rest in peace. As for Darion, once more he descended down the path of darkness. And this time, he well and truly took his father’s place.
The son of the Ashbringer rose once more from death, as leader of the Four Horsemen.
The future of Mograine
Darion Mograine entered the world a creature of impossible means. The first impossible breath he took as a child, the impossible task of saving his father’s soul. Even in undeath, he faced the utter impossibility of defying the Lich King, and helped bring him to an end.
Where does Darion go from here? Is there any Darion left to save? Or have we, in our foolishness and folly, damned him forever? Has our eagerness to defeat the Burning Legion resulted in delivering the Lich King a most faithful, resourceful servant? Has Darion sacrificed everything he is, everything he was meant to be, for nothing?
The world was never on Darion Mograine’s side, and he did his best to soldier on despite it all. Through the grief, the endless sorrow, the depths of darkness that doubtlessly plagued him both in his life, and after. Not quite a hero, not quite a villain, but somewhere in between – entangled in a destiny that perhaps he was never meant to discover. Perhaps he would have been better off if he’d never gasped that first breath, cradled in his father’s arms, drenched in an icy stream. Perhaps these questions still linger somewhere in Darion’s mind, ensconced as he is at the helm of the Lich King’s foremost champions. If they do, he never lets it show.
For if you are inexplicably born to a life of suffering, at least you can choose to suffer well.
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