The concept of the succession crisis in Ironforge is one of the Warcraft story elements that’s ignited my imagination in the past, just because of the sheer volume of drama it creates for all the key players. And it’s something that I feel has been largely danced around by Blizzard’s plot movements since the concept was introduced. I can understand that to a certain extent, because a succession crisis is an inherently political problem and people aren’t always interested in a political thriller, and in many cases it might not be a story that translates well.
All that being said, though, I felt now was a good time to expand on the concept. So this “Brothers Bronzebeard” set of scenes is intended to be a series of windows into (mostly) Magni’s perspective on the succession crisis, set against particular backdrops that have been established throughout the growing canon of the game setting.
Scene 1; Ironforge, the King’s study. During the Third War.
“… inform the Senate of a royal decree; that upon the death of Crown Prince Muradin of the Clan Bronzebeard, and upon the absence of his own issue, all of his titles and offices are hereby passed to his brother, Prince Brann of the Clan Bronzebeard, with all the honors and responsibilities due thereof.”
King Magni nodded only once. This was all of the confirmation needed for the scribe to roll up his scroll and bow his head before exiting the room silently. The king stood with his arms crossed over his chest, naked from the waist up, his skin blackened in places from his work at the forge.
Working steel had always been a way for Magni to clear his mind. Indeed, his work in reshaping the strange orb into a weapon for the human paladin1 had been exhausting, but the king still felt unfulfilled.
At the table in the study sat Moira, weaving steel rings together with a pair of pliers. “I suppose th’ next task is findin’ Uncle Brann tae tell ‘im the news, ill as it is.”
“Aye,” said the king, his voice raw.
“Light knows where he is… if there’s any mercy left in th’ world, he’s nowhere near Lordaeron right now.”
The king said nothing. His daughter closed another loop, but set the pliers and the incomplete coif on the table as the silence deepened. The fire in the hearth crackled, and one of the logs within broke, sending some coals tumbling out onto the stone.
“Father,” said Moira, “ye know I love both me uncles, as sure as I love ye. But surely ye know that Brann wouldnae make a proper king.”
Magni shrugged. “He’ll do what must be done, if’n it comes to that. Even Brann wouldnae flaunt th’ laws of our forefathers.”
“Can ye afford that risk, Father?” There was a certain amount of reproach in her voice that the king misliked. He tore his eyes away from the fire to regard his daughter, who stood now, her hand on the table, her jaw set. It was a familiar look.
“Ye know the traditions as well as I do, girl. Muradin was my heir.”
Her eyes tightened a bit. “Does yer child not take precedence over yer brothers?”
This again. “Moira…” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to placate her or warn her off this track.
“Father, now’s the time to approach the Senate. Now’s the time to break with tradition and — ”
“Enough!” She jumped at his shout and fell silent. And Magni knew that despite herself, there was still a part of Moira that feared him. Slowly, as she grew older and more willful, that part weakened, and a time would come, he knew, that she would not fall quiet at his word.
For now, however, there was silence, and he spoke to fill it. “I’ve lost me first brother, yer beloved uncle. I must order troops north to fight a war ‘gainst a monstrous force that makes th’ damned orcs look like bashful clerics. Now’s not th’ time for me to wrestle wi’ th’ Senate over traditions that have existed since th’ stone was first split!”
Moira turned and grabbed the pliers from the table, along with the incomplete bit of chain, and took a wary step towards him. “Ye’d better pray th’ mountaineers find Uncle Brann in good health, Father. I’ll be prayin’ it too, for I love me kin as I love life itself. But should summat happen to him, we’ll have this talk again.”
He turned away from her before the study door slammed at her passing.
He’d given up lamenting his want of a son years ago. It did no good, for he’d never marry again. And the volatility of the senators had forced him to stymie all attempts to marry Moira off. Favoring any one of the great families stood a strong chance of causing strife within the city in a time of war, and he couldn’t bear that. Even choosing a husband for her out of the clans within Ironforge would not please everyone, since there were parties interested in attempting to wed her to a Wildhammer and bring their wayward cousins back within the kingdom once more. And still others who’d rebel at the very suggestion.
Despite the legitimacy of Moira’s claim as his heir, Magni had always made it clear to the Senate that Muradin was his heir in the absence of a trueborn son. There’d never been a Bronzebeard queen. A number of senators found Moira too intractable to be a good ruler. She had taken up the priesthood, claiming that she was more adept at mending wounds than causing them, and that had only increased Magni’s bitterness. If’n she’d at least tried tae be a warrior…
Muradin had been the perfect heir. A talented warrior, both master and friend to he who would have been king of Lordaeron to the north, well-acquainted with the young king of Stormwind to the south… There were no ill omens about his journey to Northrend; it was mostly uncharted territory, true, but he was more than competent. His death was so senseless, and yet also, Magni had hardly any power to avenge his brother, save the weapon he had just handed to another warrior.
No use in this, he thought. Dead is dead. If the Light’s good, he gave Arthas a proper fight and now he rests in the stone. Time tae tend t’ the livin’.
He turned from the fire at last, headed for the washbasin. He’d find some fresh work to clear his mind, for the work never ended beneath the mountain. Not for the king.