A lot of news – and I do mean A LOT of news – just released regarding the Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft today. Among that news was the decision of the end boss for the expansion – one Garrosh Hellscream. Everyone loves to hate this guy, myself included. At the prompting of Rades, I’m posting about my opinion on the whole Garrosh/Cairne thing. I would like to note that I am not a huge lore buff, but it does interest me. And the ideas about Garrosh that are constantly flying around actually are a pet peeve to me. Mostly because there are people on the Internet that are WRONG. Also, many thanks to Rades for helping me out with some information that I was initially missing!

Garrosh Hellscream

Among players and NPCs both, there is a feeling of resentment toward Garrosh as the new Warchief that Thrall had chosen to take place in the interim while dealing with the World Pillar and Cho’gall, then Ragnaros, then Deathwing himself. As most people are aware, there’s been a lot of internal strife in the Horde – this is most notable when you visit the troll, forsaken or worgen starting zones, as Vol’jin and Sylvanas are the ones most unhappy about Garrosh. Although I don’t know his official stance, I imagine Baine is rather on the fence about what happened. In the same regard, the player base has splintered as well. Those that want Vol’jin as Warchief, those for Baine, those for Sylvanas, the Garrosh loyalists, the Thrall loyalists, and everyone else (the Basic Campfire crowd). So, let’s take a quick step back and look at the events leading up to this, and some speculation for what happens between now and the Siege of Orgrimmar.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO HAVE SPOILERS ABOUT THE NOVEL THE SHATTERING REVEALED TO YOU, READ NO FURTHER.

Okay, so, for those around during the 4.0 patch, most people are aware of most of what happened there – that Thrall left to Nagrand with Aggra in order to train to become the shaman that helped save the world with the Dragon Aspects and the Earthen Ring. Those that didn’t know that, now do. Because of this, he had to step down as Warchief – there was a snowball’s chance in hell that he was going to be able to not only save the world, but also manage the affairs of the Horde at the same time. So, we come to the events of the novel, The Shattering. I will admit, I have not read this book (unfortunately), so some of my information may be incorrect, and most of what I’m posting is going off of in-game knowledge, or proxy information from sources like Wowpedia. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me.

ANYWAY. On to the events of the novel. It’s largely known that Garrosh and Cairne had a falling out, and Cairne challenged the leadership of the Horde. The event to take place was called mak’gora, or what we would know as an honorable duel. Garrosh accepted the challenge, but under the caveat that they would not be using Thrall’s sanction, which was non-lethal combat. Instead, they’d be using older rules, a duel to the death. Cairne agreed to this. The premise is that it would allow both competitors one weapon, and no armor. Cairne would use his Bloodhoof Runespear, while Garrosh would take Gorehowl – the axe of one Grom Hellscream.

At this point, it should be noted that Magatha Grimtotem got her hands in this whole affair. For those unaware, the Grimtotem tribe of tauren were long at odds with most other tauren tribes, while Magatha would serve as an “ambassador” up through Wrath of the Lich King. Key quest lines at the time were centered in the Barrens and Thousand Needles (and to some degree, there still is a lot of lore left in Thousand Needles if you do happen to quest through there). Consistently, the Grimtotem would try to undermine the rest of the tauren and seize power. That said, Magatha, seemingly in favor of Garrosh, would “bless” Gorehowl. Instead, it turns out that she would actually poison the weapon.

So why the mak’gora? Well, there was a neutral meeting of druids (of both the night elf and tauren variety), that were murdered. At the time, the sole survivor of this was Hamuul Runetotem (poor guy just doesn’t get a break, does he?). Orcs led Hamuul believe that Garrosh had ordered this, but it was in fact Twilight cultists. Since no one was actually aware of this, Cairne was pissed, and thus challenged Garrosh to a duel of honor. The rules of the duel led to Cairne having his weapon blessed by a shaman with oils, while Magatha blessed Gorehowl with poison. Unwittingly, this was the cause of Cairne’s demise.

So, during this whole ordeal, Cairne more or less beats the shit out of Garrosh. Garrosh finally manages to land a hit on Cairne, barely nicking the skin, but given his weapon was poisoned (and not to his knowledge). Just the glancing blow was enough to do in Cairne. It is said on Wowpedia that Cairne realized that this was Magatha’s doing, not Garrosh’s, and that he lamented having died due to betrayal. He knew that he was betrayed not by Garrosh, but by Magatha. The duel did lead to Garrosh’s absolution of guilt toward events in Ashenvale, but it was tainted nonetheless, and this also has created tension, as it wasn’t necessarily a “true” duel of honor.

So while technically, yes, Cairne was murdered, it was not by Garrosh’s hand, but by Magatha’s. This is the main point of contention I have with much of the WoW playerbase. From here, the tension between Vol’jin and Sylvanas, and Garrosh, begins to really surface.

If you go through the troll starting area on the Echo Isles, at about level three, you are sent to Vol’jin in the quest line, and he shows you a bit of what happened between him and Garrosh, noting the dispute that they had initially, and with Vol’jin threatening Garrosh. In Silverpine Forest, you see the issues between Sylvanas and Garrosh. And in Gilneas, you see more between Garrosh and Sylvanas. Most will probably take Sylvanas as blatantly disobeying Garrosh, but you could look at that from multiple perspectives. That’s really for another post, however (and if people are interested in hearing my thoughts on that, I’ll be more than happy to make another post relating to it).

So, we come to “present day” in World of Warcraft, with Garrosh as Warchief, and splintered factions within the Horde. The trolls and goblins are subjugated to the slums, there are few (if any) Forsaken in all of Orgrimmar, and the Blood Elves present are relegated to Grommash Hold. Only the tauren have a larger presence in the city, mostly in the Valley of Wisdom. Vol’jin has taken up residence in the Echo Isles, and Gallywix in Azshara (I assume – he’s not actually present outside of the Lost Isles). So here we have all these major players in the Horde, and outside of the orcs themselves, a lot of bad mojo toward Garrosh.

If you’ve finished up Hyjal, and done the Elemental Bonds quest chain, then you see that even Thrall himself is very, very angry with Garrosh. My assumption here is that it is not because of the poisoned Gorehowl, but because he insisted on mak’gora to the death. I imagine that if that were not the case, Thrall would feel the Horde would be better off than it is now, rather than full of strife as it is currently. For the continuation of Horde/Alliance conflict, however, the death of Cairne was an unfortunate necessity (and if it wasn’t him, it would have been Vol’jin, but Vol’jin’s dealings with the Gurubashi and Amani decided that he would be too important for that to happen; if nothing else, this shows that Blizzard do think ahead).

From here, my guess is that since Deathwing has finally been dealt with, and Thrall’s coming back to take up the mantle of Warchief, there are more issues with Garrosh. It’s also important to note Thrall’s inner hatred toward Varian Wrynn, as outlined also in the Elemental Bonds quest. I’d speculate that there is a struggle between Garrosh and Thrall. Thrall’s generally been considered the “nice guy” and has consistently tried to make peace with the Alliance via Jaina Proudmoore, while Garrosh has generally been gung-ho about destroying them. A lot of orcs are still behind Garrosh’s way of thinking in this regard, while probably not so many with Thrall. Baine, Gallywix, Sylvanas and Lor’Themar have their reasons to be wanting to wipe out the humans, if not the entirety of the Alliance. The only leader I could conceivably see as remotely willing to go forward with peace with the Alliance is Vol’jin, and even that is a stretch, due to trolls and their general hatred toward most elves.

Because of the Elemental Bonds quest, however, and his relationship with the other Horde leaders, I imagine that Thrall becomes more inclined to pursue domination of Azeroth. However, Thrall is generally the more careful and pragmatic between the two. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out nonetheless. Still, because of Sylvanas and Vol’jin, and possibly Baine, it’s most likely that they will support taking down Garrosh. Even Sylvanas has been nothing but an ally (regardless of motivation) to the Horde as a general rule. The reasons Alliance want to take down Garrosh is pretty self-explanatory, but I feel that the Horde’s interaction will be a bit more complicated. Moreover, Thrall could still be angry with Garrosh over the Ashenvale events, even though Garrosh has tried to prove himself worthy by the quest chain in Stonetalon Mountains. Unfortunately, we all know Garrosh is not an equal opportunity justice-bringer, and is more rash than most would like.

That said, because we know that Thrall is not particularly fond of Varian, I have to wonder how his relationship with Jaina will change. We are aware that Theramore will be devastated by Horde forces, and this will further strain relations between the Alliance and Horde, too. We also know that Proudmoore’s forces and the orcs and trolls have long been at odds, and most likely many of them are still Alliance loyalists. The destruction of Theramore will only further that.

There are a lot of possibilities here, and with the introduction of Pandaren also being part of both factions, it will make for some interesting conflicts. Moreover, the Pandaren also choosing sides could lead to more of a wedge between the two factions due to simply the “anything you can do, I can do better” adage. I imagine that the Pandaren will play a big role in Mists and quickly to be forgotten in upcoming expansions like every other new race and continuing the faction versus faction warfare.

I would like to point out again that some of what I have said in here is mere speculation and that it may be well off the mark, but there’s a lot of implication there, as well. It could really go either way, especially with the Varian opinion (plus I have a slight bias against Varian because I think he’s a douchebag). But what about you? What do you think will happen between Thrall and Garrosh in Mists? Do you think there are going to be any huge plot twists that will cause Thrall to throw out Garrosh?