This article or section contains lore taken from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, the manuals, and official bonus maps.

Gul'dan and the Betrayal

Author: Unknown

During the final days of the Second War, as the Horde's victory over the Alliance seemed almost assured, a terrible feud erupted between the two most powerful Orcs on Azeroth. The nefarious warlock Gul'dan, master of the clandestine Shadow Council, led a number of renegade clans against the might of Orgrim Doomhammer, the Warchief of the Horde. As Doomhammer prepared his final assault against the Capital City of Lordaeron, an assault that would have crushed the last remnants of the Alliance, Gul'dan and his renegade clans abandoned their posts and set out to sea. The bewildered Doomhammer, having lost nearly half of his standing forces to Gul'dan's treachery, was forced to pull back and forsake his greatest chance at victory over the Alliance.

The power-hungry Gul'dan, obsessed with obtaining godhood itself, set out on a desperate search for the undersea Tomb of Sargeras that he believed held the secrets of ultimate power. Having already doomed his fellow Orcs to become the slaves of the Burning Legion, Gul'dan thought nothing of his supposed duty to Doomhammer. Backed by the Stormreaver and Twilight's Hammer clans, Gul'dan succeeded in raising the Tomb of Sargeras from the sea floor. However, when he opened the ancient, flooded vault, he found only crazed demons awaiting him.

Seeking to punish the wayward Orcs for their costly betrayal, Doomhammer sent his forces to kill Gul'dan and bring the renegades back into the fold. For his recklessness, Gul'dan was torn apart by the maddened demons he had set loose. With their leader dead, the renegade clans quickly fell before Doomhammer's enraged legions. Though the rebellion had been quelled, the Horde was unable to recoup the terrible losses it had suffered. Gul'dan's betrayal had afforded the Alliance not only hope, but also time to regroup. . . and retaliate.

Lord Lothar, seeing that the Horde was fracturing from within, gathered the last of his forces and pushed the Horde south, back into the shattered heartland of his homeland, Azeroth. There, the Alliance forces trapped the retreating Horde within their volcanic fortress of Blackrock Spire.

Though Lord Lothar fell in battle at the Spire's base, his lieutenant, Turalyon, rallied the Alliance forces at the eleventh hour and pushed the Horde back into the abysmal Swamp of Sorrows. Turalyon's forces succeeded in destroying the Dark Portal, the mystical gateway that connected the Orcs to their dark, red homeworld of Draenor. Cut off from its reinforcements in Draenor and fractured by incessant infighting, the Horde finally buckled in upon itself and fell before the might of the Alliance forces.

The scattered Orc clans were quickly rounded up and placed within guarded internment camps. Though it seemed that the Horde had been defeated for good, some remained highly skeptical that peace would last. Khadgar, the former apprentice of Medivh, convinced the Alliance high command to build the fortress of Nethergarde that would watch over the ruins of the Dark Portal and ensure that there would be no further invasions from Draenor.

Ner'zhul and the Shadow Clans

As the fires of the Second War died down, the Alliance took aggressive steps to contain the Orcish threat. A number of large internment camps, meant to house the captive Orcs, were constructed in southern Lordaeron. Guarded by both the Paladins and the veteran soldiers of the Alliance, the camps proved to be a great success. Though the captive Orcs were tense and anxious to do battle once more, the various camp wardens, based at the old prison-fortress of Durnholde, kept the peace and maintained a strong semblance of order.

However, on the hellish world of Draenor, a new Orcish army prepared to strike at the unsuspecting Alliance. The elder shaman, Ner’zhul – the former mentor of Gul’dan – rallied the handful of clans still left on Draenor under his dark banner. Ner’zhul planned to open a number of portals on Draenor that would lead the Horde to new, unspoiled worlds. To power his new portals, Ner’zhul needed a number of enchanted artifacts from Azeroth. To procure them, Ner’zhul reopened the Dark Portal and sent his ravenous clans charging through it.

The new Horde, led by veteran chieftains such as Grom Hellscream of the Warsong Clan and Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow clan, surprised the Alliance defense forces and rampaged through the countryside. Under Ner’zhul’s surgical command, the Orcs quickly rounded up the artifacts that they needed and fled back to the safety of Draenor.

King Terenas of Lordaeron, convinced that the Orcs were preparing a new invasion of Azeroth, assembled his most trusted lieutenants. He ordered General Turalyon and the mage, Khadgar, to lead an expedition through the Dark Portal to put an end to the Orcish threat once and for all. Turalyon and Khadgar’s forces marched into Draenor and repeatedly clashed with Ner’zhul’s clans upon the ravaged Hellfire Peninsula. Though neither side gained ground, it was clear that Ner’zhul would not be stopped from completing his nefarious plans.

Ner’zhul succeeded in opening his portals to other worlds – but he did not foresee the terrible price he would pay. The portals’ tremendous energies began to tear the very fabric of Draenor apart. As Turalyon’s forces fought desperately to return home to Azeroth, the world of Draenor began to buckle in upon itself. Grom Hellscream and Kilrogg Deadeye, realizing that Ner’zhul’s mad plans would doom their entire race, rallied the remaining Orcs and escaped back to the relative safety of Azeroth. As Hellscream and Deadeye hacked their way through the Human ranks in a desperate bid for freedom, the Dark Portal suddenly exploded behind them. For them, and the remaining Orcs on Azeroth, there would be no going back. . .

Ner’zhul and his Shadowmoon clan passed through their newly created portals as massive volcanic eruptions began to break Draenor’s continents apart. The burning seas rose up and roiled the shattered landscape as the tortured world was finally consumed in an apocalyptic explosion.

Day of the Dragon

Though Grom Hellscream and his Warsong Clan managed to evade capture, Deadeye and his Bleeding Hollow Clan were rounded up and placed in the internment camps in Lordaeron. Yet, despite the costly uprising, the camps’ wardens soon re-established control over their brutish charges.

However, unknown to the Alliance’s agents, a large force of Orcs still roamed free in the northern wastes of Khaz Modan. The Dragonmaw Clan, led by the infamous Warlock, Nekros, had maintained its control over the Dragonqueen, Alexstrasza, and her Dragonflight by using an ancient artifact known as the Demon Soul. With the Dragonqueen as his hostage, Nekros built up a secret army within the abandoned dwarf stronghold of Grim Batol. Planning to unleash his forces and the mighty red dragons on the Alliance, Nekros hoped to reunite the Horde and continue its conquest of Azeroth. Yet, a small group of resistance fighters, led by the human mage, Rhonin, managed to destroy the Demon Soul and free the Dragonqueen from Nekros’ command.

In their fury, Alexstrasza’s dragons tore apart Grim Batol and incinerated the greater bulk of the Dragonmaw Clan. Nekros’ grand schemes of reunification came crashing down as the Alliance troops rounded up the remaining Orc survivors and threw them into the waiting internment camps. The Dragonmaw Clan’s defeat signaled the end of the Horde – and the end of the Orcs’ furious bloodlust.

Lethargy and Internment

As the months passed, more Orc prisoners were rounded up and placed within the internment camps. As the camps began to overflow, the Alliance was forced to construct new camps in the plains to the south of the Alterac Mountains. To properly maintain and supply the growing number of camps, King Terenas levied a new tax on the Alliance nations. This tax, as well as increased political tensions over border disputes, created widespread dissention amongst the leaders of the Alliance. It seemed that the fragile pact that had forged the Human nations together in their darkest hour would break at any given moment.

Amidst the political turmoil, many of the camp wardens began to notice an unsettling change come over their Orc captives. The Orcs’ efforts to escape from the camps or even fight amongst themselves had greatly decreased in frequency over time. The Orcs were becoming increasingly aloof and lethargic. Though it was difficult to believe, the Orcs – once held as the most aggressive race ever seen on Azeroth – had completely lost their will to fight. The strange lethargy confounded the Alliance leaders and continued to take its toll on the rapidly weakening Orcs.

Some speculated that some strange disease, contractible only by Orcs, brought about the baffling lethargy. But the Archmage, Antonidas of Dalaran, posed a different hypothesis. Researching what little he could find of Orcish history, Antonidas learned that the Orcs had been under the crippling influence of demonic power (or warlock magics) for generations. He speculated that the Orcs had been corrupted by demonic powers even before their first invasion of Azeroth. Clearly, demons had spiked the Orcs’ blood, which in turn granted the brutes unnaturally heightened strength, endurance and aggression.

Antonidas theorized that the Orcs’ communal lethargy was not actually a disease, but a long-term racial withdrawal from the volatile Warlock magics that had made them fearsome, bloodlusted warriors. Though the symptoms were clear, Antonidas was unable to find a cure for the Orcs’ present condition. Many of his fellow mages, as well as a few notable Alliance leaders, argued that finding a cure for the Orcs would be an imprudent venture. Left to ponder the Orcs’ mysterious condition, Antonidas’ conclusion was that the Orcs’ only cure would have to be a spiritual one. . .

Thrall's Tale

During the dark days of the First War, a cunning Human officer named Aedelas Blackmoore found an infant Orc abandoned in the wilds. The infant Orc, whom Blackmoore aptly named Thrall, was taken to the prison-fortress of Durnholde. There, Blackmoore raised the young Orc as a favored slave and gladiator. Intending to train the young Orc to be not only a peerless warrior, but also an educated leader, Blackmoore hoped to use Thrall to take over the Horde, and thereby achieve dominion over his fellow men.

Nineteen years passed and Thrall grew into a strong, quick-witted Orc. Yet his young heart knew that a slave’s life was not for him. Many things had transpired in the world outside the fortress as he grew to maturity. He learned that his people, the Orcs – whom he had never met – had been defeated and placed into internment camps in the Human lands. Doomhammer, the leader of his people, had escaped from Lordaeron and gone into hiding. He knew that only one rogue clan still operated in secret, trying to evade the watchful eyes of the Alliance.

The resourceful yet inexperienced Thrall decided to escape from Blackmoore’s fortress and set off to find others of his kind. During his journeys Thrall visited the internment camps and found his once mighty race to be strangely cowed and lethargic. Having not found the proud warriors he hoped to discover, Thrall set out to find the last undefeated Orc chieftain, Grom Hellscream.

Despite being constantly hunted by the Humans, Hellscream still held onto the Horde’s unquenchable will to fight. Aided only by his own devoted Warsong Clan, Hellscream continued to fight an underground war against the oppression of his beleaguered people. Unfortunately, Hellscream could never find a way to rouse the captured Orcs from their stupor. The impressionable Thrall, inspired by Hellscream’s idealism, developed a strong empathy for the horde and its warrior traditions.

Seeking the truth of his own origins, Thrall traveled north to find the legendary Frostwolf Clan. Thrall learned that Gul’dan had exiled the Frostwolves during the early days of the First War. He also discovered that he was the son and heir of the Orc hero, Durotan – the true chieftain of the Frostwolves who had been murdered in the wilds nearly twenty years before. . .

Under the tutelage of the venerable shaman, Drek’Thar, Thrall studied the ancient shamanistic culture of his people that had been forgotten under Gul’dan’s’ evil rule. Over time, Thrall became a powerful shaman and took his rightful place as chieftain of the exiled Frostwolves. Empowered by the elements themselves and driven to find his destiny, Thrall set off to free the captive clans and heal his race of demonic corruption.

During his travels, Thrall found the aged warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer, who had been living as a hermit for many years. Doomhammer, who had been a close friend of Thrall's father, decided to follow the young, visionary Orc and help free the captive clans. Supported by many of the veteran chieftains, Thrall ultimately succeeded in revitalizing the Horde and giving his people a new spiritual identity.

To symbolize his people's rebirth, Thrall returned to Blackmoore's fortress of Durnholde and put a decisive end to his former master's plans by laying siege to the internment camps. Yet, during the liberation of one camp, Doomhammer fell in battle. Thrall took up Doomhammer's legendary warhammer and donned his black plate-armor to become the new Warchief of the Horde. During the following months, Thrall's small but volatile Horde laid waste to the internment camps and stymied the Alliance's best efforts to counter its clever strategies. Encouraged by his best friend and mentor, Grom Hellscream, Thrall worked to ensure that no Orc would be cast into slavery - either by Humans or demons - ever again.

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