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WoWJul 15, 2020 4:00 pm CT

What’s happening to Calia Menethil in Shadowlands, and how did she get there?

Spoilers for the Shadowlands expansion in this post.

The forgotten princess of Lordaeron has come home. It remains to be seen how she will be received by the Forsaken at large, but for now, what we know is that when the leaders of the Horde and Alliance assembled atop Icecrown Citadel in the aftermath of Sylvanas’ attack, Calia Menethil was among them as the representative for the Forsaken. If you’re wondering how that happened, well, Calia’s life and her unlife have both been challenging, and it’s not surprising that you might not be fully familiar with her story.

Let’s talk about who Calia is and how we got here.

Eldest child of the Menethil line

Calia was Arthas’ elder sister. Lordaeron had some less than progressive ideas about who inherits leadership, however, and so Calia was passed over for Arthas once he was born. Furthermore, while she was still in her teen years, her father — admittedly, under the influence of Deathwing’s magic — attempted to force her to marry an unknown nobleman named Lord Daval Prestor who was pressing a claim to the empty Alterac throne. While Calia luckily never found out who Daval Prestor really was or how close she came to be forcibly wed to the Black Dragon Aspect himself — at best, she would likely have died shortly thereafter once he tired of her — she never recovered from the feeling of betrayal and shock at her close call, and even expressed how hurt she was by it all to Arthas, asking him to never do the same when he was king.

According to both Legion and the novel Before the Storm, Calia would meet and fall in love with a simple footman in Lordaeron’s army. Perhaps they talked about her feelings of betrayal towards her father, or perhaps not — what we know is that Calia and her footman found a priest who was willing to marry the two despite the prospect of the King’s displeasure should he find out. Once married, Calia and her husband found ways to spend time together, and eventually, Calia found out she was pregnant. She turned to her mother Lianne, the Queen. Queen Lianne worked to cover everything up, with a plan to wait until Arthas had announced his betrothal to quietly elevate Calia’s husband and recognize her child as a legitimate member of the Menethil line.

Then Arthas came back from Northrend and all these plans fell apart.

Rising from the ashes — twice

When Arthas destroyed Lordaeron, Calia barely escaped with her life. Mindless ghouls chased her into a filthy ditch and kept her trapped for days. When she finally made her way south through the ruined Alterac, she barely managed to evade Arthas’ forces as they closed Lordaeron and trapped the many survivors within to be made into fodder for the Scourge. Calia arrived in Southshore, where in a miraculous turn she found her husband and daughter still alive.

For a time, they lived simple lives there. No longer a princess, no longer heir to the Menethil throne, Calia embraced her new life and did her best to put the shock and horror of what had happened behind them.

And then Sylvanas destroyed Southshore. Separated again from her family, Calia watched helplessly as the Forsaken used plague weapons to annihilate her second home. Lost, alone and afraid, she again fought to survive. This time, however, it was an Undead hand that helped her evade her death. Alonsus Faol, former Archbishop of the Light, had risen from his grave and now sought a new path for his fellow Forsaken — one that didn’t require the extremes of Sylvanas Windrunner. Faol held out his hand to Calia, and she accepted.

Under his tutelage she became a Priestess of the Holy Light, helping him as the Legion returned to Azeroth. Together, they aided the Conclave in the Netherlight Temple.

Her death and her return

The events of Before the Storm are tied up in Calia’s story — the loss of her homeland and her family to Arthas’ Scourge, then the loss of her new family to Sylvanas’ Forsaken. Her consuming wonder if her husband and child endured as part of the Forsaken, her empathy and identification with the victims of Lordaeron. The first family Arthas destroyed was hers, after all. Her younger brother took them from her, and so, while she feared the Forsaken she also felt for them. It was a Menethil who did this to them. Was it a Menethil who had to try and make it right?

Her identification with the Forsaken cost her the last remaining thing she had — her life. Sylvanas and Anduin’s meeting in the Arathi Highlands ended with Sylvanas attacking and killing her own people, while Anduin stood on helplessly, unable to intervene at the risk of starting a war over what Sylvanas could easily present as an internal matter. Worse, when Sylvanas found that Calia was there and had even taken part in inducing members of the Forsaken to defect, she was free to strike her down — the sister of her hated tormentor, the former Lich King.

But Sylvanas had no idea she was creating her successor in this act. Calia was taken to the Netherlight Temple by Anduin, and once there, the King of Stormwind joined with Alonsus Faol in a rite that saw Calia returned from death, if not actually returned to life — neither a Forsaken nor a living woman, a new kind of Undead given existence by the Light itself. A new thing under the sun.

Calia in Battle for Azeroth and beyond

This expansion, we saw Calia again after Jaina’s brother Derek Proudmoore was made a Forsaken by Sylvanas as part of a plan to assassinate the entire royal family of Kul Tiras. Jaina sent Derek to Calia, who helped him come to terms with his new existence, and we saw them both at a meeting with Jaina. Then we saw Calia being observed by agents of Lilian Voss, the Forsaken assassin and spymaster who’d once killed Forsaken for the Scarlet Crusade before being raised as one herself. Lilian had joined the Horde after a long period of coming to terms with what she’d become, only to see Sylvanas dragging the Forsaken down a path she wasn’t personally comfortable with. After Saurfang’s Mak’gora Lilian was one of the few Forsaken left standing with any shot at leading the faction.

Only Lilian didn’t see herself in that role. She contacted Calia and arranged for a meeting, where she presented the last Menethil with a simple idea — return to her people and lead the Forsaken, help them come to terms with their existence in a way Sylvanas had never sought to, and finally be the Menethil who tried to undo what a Menethil had caused. If there was a way forward for the Forsaken, perhaps Calia could find it.

This clearly leads to what we see atop Icecrown in the introduction to Shadowlands. Calia is there as the representative of the Forsaken — so while we don’t yet know how that happens, exactly, or what the status of the Forsaken is in Shadowlands, we do know that Calia is seemingly their leader for the moment. Calia Menethil leads the Forsaken, but where does she lead them? What future does she intend for the cursed dead left behind in the wake of her brother? What does the last Menethil intend for her fallen subjects?

Update: Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser tells us that Calia is not leader of the Forsaken and is in Icecrown for personal reasons. That means Calia’s future role in the game are both still up in the air — though we do have some other speculation on who might lead the Forsaken in the future.

Hopefully Shadowlands will reveal more as it progresses.

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