Last time we looked at what might have happened if the Infinite Dragonflight had succeeded in stopping Medivh from opening the Dark Portal. This time, we’ll look at what might have happened if the Infinites had succeeded in keeping Taretha Foxton from releasing Thrall from his enslavement under Aedalas Blackmoore.
Already stretched near to the breaking point by the abuses of Blackmoore, Thrall’s trust in humanity is shattered by the betrayal he feels when the long-awaited breakout he plotted with Taretha never comes. She never appears, not even to apologize or to offer any explanation for why she allowed the narrow window of opportunity for an escape to come and go. Instead, Thrall continues being used as a gladiator by his human jailors, and as a punching bag by whatever opposition he’s put up against.
He plots. He waits. His moment will come.
Eventually, he manipulates Blackmoore to let him interrogate some captive orcs to learn more of the orcish culture, and their language… and Blackmoore, both impressed at Thrall’s deduction of his plot and infuriated at the slave’s insolence, acquiesces: he is certain he holds total sway over Thrall, and that nothing can stop him from his goal of overthrowing Lordaeron.
Meanwhile, Orgrim Doomhammer has grown tired with waiting for a sign that the orcs are ready to guide their own destiny once more. Quietly he convinces the Frostwolf and Warsong clans to join him in assaulting the internment camps, and Grom Hellscream is the first to suggest an assault on the camps’ top commander at Durnholde Keep, in order to put the humans in a state of confusion. The Doomhammer agrees, but the orcs are faced with a confounding sight when they prepare to attack the keep; before the gates stands a lone orc with blue eyes, who approaches the invaders and demands a mak’gora.
Before accepting, Doomhammer asks the identity of the challenger. Thrall identifies himself, but says no more. Drek’thar warns him not to accept, but Grom urges him on, reminding him that the traditions of the orcs must be upheld if they have any chance of reclaiming their former glory. In the end, Doomhammer accepts… and after a grueling duel, Doomhammer falls.
The orcs, shocked that Thrall was capable of defeating the mighty Doomhammer, are then dumbfounded when Blackmoore, the commander of the internment camps and lord of Durnholde, laughs bitterly after observing the duel, ordering Thrall to lead the Horde on a march to besiege Stromgarde, the first step in his plot to overthrow House Menethil. Just as Grom prepares to shout his own mak’gora to retake control of the Horde from Thrall, Drek’thar stops him, and the two watch as Thrall turns away from Perenolde, picks up the Doomhammer, and orders the Horde to destroy Durnholde Keep and kill every human within. At first, the Horde is still, but then Grom raises Gorehowl into the air, bellows his warcry, and the orcs attack.
No human survives Durnholde. Blackmoore dies cursing the name of his monstrous creation.
Thrall and the Frostwolf and Warsong clans begin a campaign not unlike what Blackmoore had initially envisioned, only without Blackmoore there to reap all of the benefit; they assault the internment camps and liberate the orcs, reforming the Horde, but tempered now by Thrall’s human-taught pragmatism and the ruthlessness ingrained in him from the gladiator arena. As Drek’thar begrudgingly educates him on the orcish legacy of shamanism, and how trusting in Gul’dan’s demonic masters led them to ruin, Thrall declares that the Horde will return to shamanism, as that will aid them in recovering from the effects of the blood curse and give them true strength to defend themselves against the humans.
Thrall also makes it known that demon worship will not be tolerated, and any who resist are promptly killed, to demonstrate the Warchief’s resolve.
When the Alliance fields an army led by Prince Arthas of Lordaeron, Thrall rises to the challenge. The night before the battle, a cloaked human appears to Thrall in a dream, imploring him to abandon the battle with humans; to take his Horde and lead them west across the sea to a new land.
Thrall dismisses the dream as an attempt at trickery by the humans, and goes into the battle with zeal.
The Horde defeats the Alliance army in the field, but only barely; the enemy is better equipped and better trained, without the disadvantage of years of imprisonment in the troops. As Arthas draws his army further back into Lordaeron, Thrall is slow to pursue, wishing to give the Horde more time to recover their strength. He expects harassment from the Alliance, and while that does come, it is suddenly cut off, and the orcs are left to their own devices.
When the next assault comes, it is dead soldiers who come to do the fighting. Drek’thar warns Thrall of the necromancy that had been merely the first step on the orcs’ path to damnation, and Thrall rallies the Horde to destroy the undead, determined now to follow it to its source.
Before long, a mage named Jaina Proudmoore appears before Thrall under a white flag of surrender, telling Thrall what has happened; within Lordaeron, a group of necromancers called the Cult of the Damned began to spread grain tainted with a plague that would turn the living into mindless undead. Due to the Horde’s assault, Prince Arthas was unable to contain the plague, and before long the entire kingdom was infected. She appeals to Thrall for aid in destroying this Scourge, or barring that, freedom to seek safe passage to the south, where the other human kingdoms knew nothing of the coming threat.
Thrall did not believe that the woman’s story was a lie. He had seen the risen dead himself and knew them to be a true threat, one which his Horde would put down as penance for their past mistakes. But this woman, this Jaina, reminds him of Taretha. He had not been able to repay Taretha for her betrayal. And the irony of humans creating a terror that feeds upon humanity struck him as a fitting end.
Thrall spits upon Proudmoore’s request, and tells her that humanity is the enemy of the Horde, never its ally. However, he adds, the Horde would not stoop to killing cowards who run away from battle. Proudmoore leaves dejected, but Thrall promptly hears reports of lightly-guarded caravans of human civilians fleeing south. True to his word, he leaves them be.
And so the Horde remains in Lordaeron to fight against the inexorable waves of the undead. Thrall eventually realizes the battle would not go well unless they were able to find some manner of weapon that could aid them, and conveniently enough, rumors come to them of a legendary sword, a runeblade called Frostmourne, hidden in the frozen continent of Northrend, that might hold such power. He dispatches Grom Hellscream to retrieve it… but when Grom returns, he is not the same.
Faced now with his greatest warrior fighting for the Scourge, Thrall and the Horde are put on the defensive. He finds unlikely allies in the High Elves of Silvermoon, attempting to contain the Scourge before it can assault their homeland, and in the Amani trolls, who align with the orcs out of a simple desire for survival against the undead menace. And despite Thrall’s earlier bitterness to Jaina Proudmoore, a scattering of human paladins led by Prince Arthas appear, offering their assistance, and with them comes the very thing Thrall had wished for when he sent Grom north.
Arthas’ lieutenant, Alexandros Mograine, carries with him a legendary sword crafted by the dwarven king Magni Bronzebeard, that in Mograine’s hands empowers him to obliterate the undead. Mograine informs Thrall of the blade’s ultimate purpose: to slay Grom Hellscream, who had dueled and killed the dwarven prince Muradin for control of the dark runeblade. Thrall accepts Mograine’s aid, and together with Sylvanas Windrunner of Silvermoon, Zul’jin of the Amani tribe, Prince Arthas, Mograine the Ashbringer, and any hero left standing in Lordaeron, the hunt for Grom Hellscream, first of the Lich King’s Death Knights, begins.
Can this New Alliance stand against the the forces of the Scourged Horde?
Only time will tell.