Sylvanas Windrunner became an enemy to all she once fought for.
The fall of the Lich King was, in many ways, only the beginning for Sylvanas Windrunner. As the ranger-general of Silvermoon, her heart and soul were dedicated entirely to protecting those that could not protect themselves. When Sylvanas’s soul was splintered, she lost much of the goodness that guided her. Arthas did much worse than kill this brave elf; he split her apart, and set her against everything she stood for. And her bloody story had only just begun.
The Ruin of Gilneas
The aftermath of Wrathgate left the Horde dappled with tension where the Forsaken were concerned. Despite this, Sylvanas received orders to lead her forces into Gilneas to obtain a port in Lordaeron for the Horde. The Wolf Cult -Gilneans that saw the Worgen curse as a blessing- was a large part of Sylvanas’ initial success in conquering the city. The Gilneans, however, unexpectedly managed to bring the Worgen curse under their control. They united to drive the undead forces from their founding city.
Sylvanas found herself cornered by Darius Crowley, Genn and Liam Greymane, and the Gilnean resistance force under the royals’ command. Her solution was to point an arrow toward Genn Greymane with the intent to kill. However, it was not the king that took the hit. Prince Liam threw himself between his father and Sylvanas’s fatal shot, thus ending his life as he saved his father’s.
The entirety of the Gilnean ordeal left Sylvanas aggravated and restless. Her next step was to render the city ruined; the citizens scarcely had time to evacuate the great stronghold of Gilneas before the Forsaken drenched it in blight. Sylvanas had taken Gilneas, but the battle between Horde and Alliance had just started.
Betrayal & Sacrifice
Within Silverpine Forest, Sylvanas and her forces -now a combination of forsaken, orcish reinforcements, and Val’kyr- faced an Alliance counterattack. The Banshee Queen’s efforts had been successful thus far, but she wanted a true victory now; to obtain this, Sylvanas decided to resurrect Lord Vincent Godfrey. Lord Godfrey committed suicide to keep from bowing to a Worgen king, so opposing his brethren would not be a foreign concept. Sylvanas sent her new minion to capture Lorna Crowley and bring the girl to his new queen.
Once captured, Lorna Crowley was presented at the fractured Greymane Wall before Lord Darius Crowley, her father. Sylvanas offered Lord Crowley a choice: give up the Gilnean Liberation Front or watch his daughter become a Forsaken. Darius surrendered for the sake of his daughter, and together the Crowleys walked away with their men in tow. The reanimated Godfrey took his chance then to kill Sylvanas and then flee. High Warlord Cromush, an orc charged with guarding Sylvanas, demanded the Val’kyr among their forces to do something. Once again, the Val’kyr chose to give Sylvanas life.
In Plain Sight
While Prince Galen Trollbane and Dark Ranger Alina handled conflict in Arathi Highlands, Sylvanas joined the battle for Andorhal in the Western Plaguelands. However, the dark lady did so disguised as a Forsaken named Lindsay Ravensun. A blood elf death knight named Koltira Deathweaver headed the battle until Sylvanas shed her disguise and took command.
A human death knight named Thassarian stood in charge of the Alliance forces in Andorhal; he and Koltira were close when they served the Lich King, and they had formed a truce that irritated Sylvanas. The banshee queen thought Koltira weak and foolish for indulging such an ill-fated armistice with an enemy. After securing a Horde victory in Andorhal, Sylvanas took Koltira to the Undercity. She planned to oversee a torture routine meant to improve the death knight’s loyalty to the Horde. Or, rather, Sylvanas and her Forsaken.
Sylvanas’s increasing number of victories did little to endear her to the other racial leaders in the Horde. Much of the Horde felt she too closely resembled the late Lich King; every step she took seemed only to bring the forsaken under further scrutiny. The Argent Crusade -a neutral collection of holy warriors once part of The Order of the Silver Hand and the Argent Dawn- was also monitoring the Forsaken. Sylvanas’ treatment of Koltira and her refusal to release the death knight also brought The Knights of the Ebon Blade’s attention.
When Warchief Garrosh Hellscream declared his plans to decimate Theramore, one of the strongest Alliance nations on Kalimdor, Sylvanas stood against the plan. The blood elves and the Forsaken shared the Eastern Kingdoms with the Alliance, and she feared for them should their enemies seek revenge for the lost city. Sylvanas looked to Lor’themar Theron, the blood elf’s racial leader, for his support, but he made it clear she would receive no such thing from him.
Despite their previous cold encounter, Sylvanas worked with Lor’themar to take Bladefist Bay when the factions moved to strike against Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. Before the Siege of Orgrimmar began, Lor’themar told Sylvanas that he did not want the banshee queen to raise fallen blood elves into undeath.
They joined Archmage Aethas Sunreaver in the Horde’s battle against Galakras, a vicious proto-drake mounted by one of Hellscream’s allies. Sylvanas was also present when Thrall declared the Darkspear troll Vol’jin as the Horde’s new Warchief; her only response at the moment was a simple nod.
Crimes & Punishment
Garrosh Hellscream’s trial for his war crimes brought about a new kind of conflict for Sylvanas. While the tauren chieftain Baine Bloodhoof thought the fallen warchief deserved a trial, the banshee queen vehemently disagreed; she wanted to see the orc executed. Sylvanas declared Baine an Alliance sympathizer, hoping to discredit his stance among the other Horde leaders.
Vereesa Windrunner, Sylvanas’s younger sister, hated Garrosh Hellscream for her own reasons. The younger elf saw an ally in her sister, and together they devised a plan to assassinate their common enemy. They decided it would be best to infuse Hellscream’s last meal with poison the Forsaken had recently developed; it was untraceable, so there would be no proof that Sylvanas was the mastermind behind the toxin.
For the first time in a long time, Sylvanas remembered what it was both to be and have a sister. Vereesa was even contemplating what it would be like to join Sylvanas and the Forsaken, though she would be leaving her children behind if she chose to do this. Sylvanas struggled with a different conflict, for she knew the Forsaken would not welcome one of the living as a leader. Her solution was to murder Vereesa so that no one could argue when her younger sister joined the Forsaken.
All of Sylvanas’s careful planning turned to ash when, at the eleventh hour, Vereesa chose to relent. The Silver Covenant ranger confessed to lacing Hellscream’s food with poison to Anduin Wrynn, and the young prince saved the fallen orc’s life. Vereesa’s change of heart left Sylvanas furious and broken; the banshee queen vowed never to entertain something so foolish as love again. During the off-world campaign in Draenor, Sylvanas sent Dark Ranger Velonara, the mage Vivianne, and Benjamin Gibb to aid the Horde forces.
A Champion Reborn
Around the time the Legion began its invasion of Azeroth, Sylvanas called once more for her longtime champion Nathanos. After freeing herself from Arthas, Sylvanas had tracked down her former pupil and dragged him out of the Lich King’s control. Though Nathanos regained his mind, he was a mere shell of himself; however, Sylvanas had a remedy for her champion’s pitiful state.
Stephon Marris, who Sylvanas gave gold to when he was a boy to purchase his first sword, had grown into the very image of Nathanos -his cousin- in life. For Nathanos to become stronger, Stephon had to be sacrificed. A Val’kyr placed herself between the Marris men, one alive and one undead, and began to chant in a language Nathanos did not recognize. The end of the ritual left stains of oil and ash where Nathanos had once been, while the undead himself felt almost rejuvenated.
The face in the mirror was similar to Nathanos in life; the differences between Stephon and his cousin were present but minute. Throughout his experience, Nathanos realized his heart held only rage, contempt, and -above all else- loyalty to his banshee queen.
A Broken Assault
World of Warcraft: Legion brought about a new era of power for Sylvanas Windrunner. The Horde and Alliance came together in a combined strike against the Burning Legion. Their initial position in the air was thwarted by an abyssal that damaged the Alliance’s gunship and sent it flying into the Horde’s. The Horde and Alliance pursued Gul’dan until the warlock halted them in their tracks -first by sacrificing Tirion Fordring and then by summoning the demon Krosus.
Upon Krosus’ defeat, the Alliance and Horde chose to divide and conquer. Sylvanas told King Varian Wrynn that the Horde would hold the high ride and guard the Alliance’s flank while they confronted Gul’dan head-on.
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After the Horde moved into position, a portal opened behind their forces. An overwhelming number of enemies poured onto the battlefield, and -among the chaos- Warchief Vol’jin was wounded by a poisoned spear. Sylvanas cut through the mass of demons to reach her leader; the Darkspear troll, weakened and dying, asked the banshee queen to see that the Horde did not die that day. Sylvanas blew her war horn, which called the Val’kyr to collect the injured and ordered the Horde forces to retreat.
The Horde’s exit from the field left King Varian Wrynn and his Alliance troops vulnerable. Varian ordered his people to retreat as well, for they had lost the strategy’s advantage. Gul’dan refused to accept such a lackluster victory -he wanted his foes to ache in their defeat. The orc warlock summoned a colossal fel reaver that grasped the Alliance’s gunship, soldiers falling to their deaths as the airborne ship tilted downward.
Varian sacrificed himself to secure his people’s escape; the king let go of the ship, falling directly into the heart of the Legion’s forces. Sylvanas watched from the Forsaken battleship as Varian fought until he was eventually subdued and executed by Gul’dan.
Under New Management
Upon the Horde’s return to Orgrimmar, Sylvanas was summoned to Grommash Hold by Warchief Vol’jin. Mueh’zala, posing as another loa, had whispered to the dying troll and granted him visions. In light of this, Vol’jin declared Sylvanas his succeeding Warchief. At Vol’jin’s funeral, Sylvanas called for vengeance for their fallen leader. As battle cries rang through the air, the Horde’s racial leaders pledged fealty to their new Warchief.
The Burning Legion launched an attack on Orgrimmar, but the Horde successfully defeated the assaulting demons. Allari the Souleater was among the victors, and Sylvanas realized that the Illidari would be essential to defeating the Burning Legion. She chose a Horde champion to act as an envoy for the Illidari and a spy for the banshee queen, for she did not fully trust the demon hunters.
A Stolen Future
On the Broken Isles, Sylvanas took a Forsaken battleship into Stormheim. A single Alliance gunship, commanded by Genn Greymane, attacked the Forsaken’s. While Nathanos and a Horde champion fought back against the Alliance, Sylvanas vanished to pursue a hidden agenda of her own. The banshee queen was seen later in Helheim, negotiating with Helya. There was a vault within the vrykul city of Skold-Ashii, so she selected a Horde champion to ascend. Sylvanas wanted access to the vault so that she could subjugate Eyir and force the titanic watcher to create more Val’kyr for the Forsaken.
Sylvanas managed to bind Eyir using a magical lantern known as the Soulcage, but the appearance of Genn Greymane halted her plans. The Worgen king declared that Sylvanas had loosened her defenses as she quested for immortality and expressed that he would claim his vengeance. Genn promised to avenge Gilneas, Varian, and his son as he attacked. Sylvanas halted her foe’s assault with a poisoned arrow to the shoulder, mocking the aging king as he reverted to his human visage. He was an old wolf, Sylvanas teased, that she had foolishly overestimated.
Nevertheless, it was a short-lived victory for the dark lady, as Genn had managed to destroy the Soulcage. Eyir, free from her bonds, disappeared. Genn snapped the arrow in his shoulder with a final message for Sylvanas as he made his exit: she had stolen his sons future, and now he had stolen hers.
Three is a Crowd
After years of separation, a common goal reconnected the Windrunner sisters. Alleria, Sylvanas, and Vereesa wanted to reclaim their ancestral home. The elven trio set off on a journey into the Ghostlands. On their way to Windrunner Spire, the sisters decided to play a game called one is a lie. The object was to make three statements where two were true, and one was false. Sylvanas stated that she missed being alive, she was proud to be the Horde’s warchief, and she would never betray Alleria or Vereesa.
The girls’ time together soured when Alleria and Sylvanas began to argue about Vereesa’s involvement in the plot to murder Hellscream. Alleria believed Sylvanas manipulated their sister into agreeing, but Sylvanas argued that the plan had been Vereesa’s all along. As the argument escalated, the banshee queen’s powers heightened. Alleria transformed into her void form and told Sylvanas she was not the sister Alleria had once loved.
A Lie Unspoken
Vereesa managed to redirect her sisters’ anger to their original goal, but the tension was still present. With the Windrunner Spire reclaimed, it came time for Alleria and Vereesa to take their leave. Though both of the rangers had spoken their truths, Sylvanas never did.
Alleria and Vereesa were unaware of a small group of dark rangers that had followed Sylvanas. Should the banshee queen signal her people, they were to assassinate her sisters. Just as Sylvanas prepared to give that very signal, Vereesa apologized for backing out of their plans to kill Hellscream. She hoped, one day, Sylvanas could find a way to forgive her.
Though Sylvanas let Alleria and Vereesa leave, she stated the day would come when they both served her.
Not all that served Sylvanas were pleased with their leader’s decisions. Nathanos brought news from the Undercity that many Forsaken felt their queen had abandoned them upon her ascent. Varok Saurfang and Baine Bloodhoof felt otherwise, saying that the dark lady cared too little about the other races of the Horde. While such accusations annoyed Sylvanas, she spent little time dwelling on them. The banshee queen had plans in mind, and they occupied much of her attention.
When the Horde lost Vol’jin, the Alliance lost Varian Wrynn. His son Anduin succeeded him, and Sylvanas thought the new king soft-hearted and weak. She wanted to conquer the great city of Stormwind and use its people to rebuild the Horde’s army. A future in servitude to the Forsaken was merciful, Sylvanas believed, for the citizens of Stormwind could be reunited with their loved ones in undeath.
Gatherings Gone Wrong
While Sylvanas contemplated her plans, including creating weapons with a new substance called Azerite, King Anduin Wrynn sent a message. The young king wanted to arrange a gathering with the banshee queen for the Forsaken to meet with their living relatives and perhaps even reconcile. Sylvanas hesitated at first, but Nathanos convinced her by suggesting that the Gathering could benefit them whatever its outcome. She agreed with her champion’s judgment and arranged to meet between the Arathi Highlands and Hillsbrad Foothills border.
The Gathering began peacefully, but then Sylvanas discovered some of her Forsaken wished to follow Calia Menethil -the erstwhile princess of Lordaeron- back to their loved ones. Sylvanas ordered her people to return; when they ignored the call for retreat, she unleashed her dark rangers with the command to murder all Forsaken on the field. As punishment for sowing strife amongst her people, Sylvanas killed Calia in front of Anduin and promised him a similar fate.
Anduin was unphased, however, and told the Forsaken queen so. The Horde did not fully support Sylvanas, but the Alliance would rally upon the loss of their king. Anduin risked leaving himself open to an attack so that he could carry Calia’s corpse back to Stromgarde Keep. The Gathering debacle increased Stormwind’s spy presence within Orgrimmar, forcing Sylvanas to press forward with a new plan she was forming.
An Echoed Scream
The banshee queen of the Forsaken was a phoenix that rose from the ashes of Silvermoon’s shining Ranger-General. Her wings were wide, and the fire around her burned anyone foolish enough to tread too closely. Sylvanas rose from ice with the threat of a frozen Scourge all around her. There was no place in the world for the kind of creature she had become, so she carved it out for herself. Perhaps if she had simply stopped there, she could have held on to the last shards of her mortality.
To find out more about the fate of Sylvanas Windrunner, please follow the link provided to read part three. If you’ve missed part one, please follow the link provided to read what you missed.
Next: Part III coming soon.
Author’s Note: Sylvanas by Christie Golden
Due to personal circumstances, I have yet to read Christie Golden’s Sylvanas. Therefore, any changes, clarifications, or alterations mentioned in the book will not (yet) be featured in my article. Please enjoy nonetheless. This novel can be purchased at your nearest bookstore or through various sites online. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sylvanas-christie-golden/1139339292
I’m a Wonder Woman fanatic, married to my Superman, with a mild addiction to tea and World of Warcraft. One day I hope to write a book that history recognizes as a classic; it will most likely involve dragons.