The Infinite Sadness (3 of 3)

We looked at what happened if the Infinite Dragonflight had successfully stopped Medivh from opening the Dark Portal, and what would have happened if they had prevented Taretha Foxton from implementing Thrall’s escape from Durnholde Keep. Only one Infinite moment remains: the Culling of Stratholme.

The last time Jaina Proudmoore and Uther the Lightbringer see Prince Arthas, he’s leading troops into the city of Stratholme, intent on killing the plagued inhabitants before they can be turned into the Scourge. He never returns. The Lightbringer has lost his greatest student, and Jaina has lost the man she loves. And now a horde of the undead swarms from the once-great city, desecrating everything in its path.

When the Prophet appears to them both, appealing to them to abandon Lordaeron and flee west, both rebuff him out of sheer grief and sadness… as well as a grim determination to not let Arthas’ death be meaningless. When Uther testifies to King Terenas Menethil and the other lords of the Alliance of the true threat of the Scourge, and of the death of Arthas, the Alliance is mobilized once more. Lordaeron becomes a battleground, awash in the dead, and as the battle rages on, Uther pulls every resource he can to aid in the battle… including a disgraced paladin named Tirion Fordring.

Uther gives Tirion a mission; rumors speak of a weapon of immense power hidden on the icy continent of Northrend, that may aid humanity in turning the tides against the Scourge. Tirion requests that his son Taelan accompany him, but Uther refuses, stating that Taelan’s talents as a paladin are needed in battle. The sooner Tirion returns with the weapon, Uther says, the sooner he can see his son.

By chance, Tirion meets with Muradin Bronzebeard in Northrend, following the same rumor of the weapon. As the quest continues, Tirion is haunted by dark dreams, where Taelan is beset by the undead, crying out for aid but receiving none. He grows more desperate and erratic, until at last he and Muradin locate the blade. Muradin balks after reading the inscription on Frostmourne, but Tirion ignores his warnings, intent on making any sacrifice in order to rescue his son. When he grips the blade, an explosion occurs, knocking Muradin back… but Tirion pays no attention, because through the sword, he hears whispers of an overwhelming will. Thus, when the dreadlord Mal’Ganis appears before Tirion, confident that he has given the Lich King the weapon he requires, Tirion decides to put the weapon to the test, and thrusts it through the dreadlord. Listening fully to the whispers of the Lich King, Tirion is confident that with the power of Frostmourne behind him, he can rescue his son.

Muradin emerges from the cave, knowing that Tirion is in the thrall of the Scourge, and makes his way back to Ironforge to tell Magni the bad news; if the might of the dwarves isn’t added to the forces of the Alliance in Lordaeron, no living thing is safe from the Scourge. When he arrives, however, he runs into Alexandros Mograine, who has come to request King Magni’s aid in crafting a weapon to fight against the undead menace. Hearing Muradin’s pleas to avenge Arthas, combined with the knowledge that the dread blade Frostmourne has been deployed against the living, Magni pours all of his own hunger for justice into the crafting of his masterwork: the Ashbringer. Mograine prepares to return to the front in Lordaeron with a pure weapon of immense power, with an army of dwarves at his back.

As Tirion marches in search of his son, the news spreads quickly that he’s returned as an enemy of the living. Uther mobilizes everything he can to try and stop Tirion, but with the runeblade and his own extensive battlefield experience, nothing can stop the death knight’s advance. Many heroes fall; Jaina works tirelessly to throw barriers in Tirion’s way, frustrating the Scourge advance, but ultimately fails, and Tirion raises her as a banshee for causing him so much trouble. Uther himself is unable to defeat Tirion, and dies cursing his own error in sending him north. All the while, Tirion resists the demands of the Lich King to assault the Lordaeron capital, intent on finding Taelan.

When father at last finds son, it is a bitter meeting: Taelan is appalled at what Tirion has done, swearing to defeat him and set right his father’s wrongs. Tirion struggles with containing the hunger of the runeblade and the whispered commandments of the Lich King, confronted with the disappointment of his own son. Despite having defeated far stronger enemies, Tirion withers under the assault of Taelan and his brethren, the Scarlet Crusade. Ultimately, Taelan impales himself upon Frostmourne, distracting Tirion long enough for the Mograine brothers, Renault and Darion, to finally defeat the death knight and wrest the runeblade from his grasp.

In death, Tirion finally experiences clarity, and is granted absolution when Taelan forgives him with his last breath. Father and son die together, united at last… but the runeblade remains, now without a wielder.

The Mograine brothers are torn over what to do with the weapon. Darion is convinced that it must be destroyed, but Renault looks upon the weapon and sees something that will allow him to elevate himself in the eyes of their father, Alexandros. Arriving with reinforcements, the Grand Crusader Saidan Dathrohan (secretly the Dreadlord Balnazzar, intent on salvaging the plans of the Legion in using the Scourge to destroy Azeroth) immediately takes Renault’s side, insisting that Frostmourne is their salvation.

When Renault takes up Frostmourne, Darion sees his brother’s inner darkness revealed, and learns the truth about Dathrohan’s deception. He barely escapes with his life, and flees to join his father, just now arriving with reinforcements and the ultimate weapon: the Ashbringer.

Will the Ashbringer be able to contend against Frostmourne? Can the Mograines and Muradin Bronzebeard contain Renault and his newly created Scourged Crusade, aided by the magical might of the Banshee Queen, Jaina Proudmoore?

Only time will tell.

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