Birth of the Forsaken Theory: Could Sylvanas

…have found a way to secure her people’s safety and future without destroying any potential peaceful relations with the Alliance?

I believe there was.

For Sylvanas, I think she made two major mistakes right off the bat: 1) trying to kill ALL of the Alliance forces and 2) keeping Varimathras as her second in command. But what if she made different decisions in this regard?

Let’s say the scenario starts off as it canonically did right after Varimathras ‘killed’ Balnazzar and immediately turned on Grand Marshal Garithos afterwards.

As Varimathras finishes Garithos off and stands up with a smirk on his face, the air suddenly splits with an otherworldly scream and everyone, even Varimathras shouts in pain and clamp their hands over their ears in a futile attempt to stem the agony. Grimacing, Varimathras starts to turn but is suddenly transfixed in pain as three arrows strike him squarely in the back. Falling to his knees, he tastes blood in this mouth but, with a tremendous effort, he manages to turn his head to see Sylvanas Windrunner lowering her bow as the last of her banshee shriek dies upon her lips.

‘You…’ he breathes with a curse, ‘treacherous banshee, you dare…turn on me?’

Sylvanas’ eyes narrow and she takes a calculating step forward as Varimathras flinches. ‘Don’t act so surprised Varimathras, you’re an even bigger fool than I took you for if you honestly thought I was going to spare your life.’ Her lips quirk contemptuously. ‘What were you expecting, that I would make a Dreadlord my second in command? A demon of lies and manipulation at my back to turn my people against me and themselves for your amusement?’

Clever, Varimathras thought in spite of himself as he tried to ignore the burning pain in his back. It’s exactly what he intended to do of course, but he was sure he had been subtle and secure enough in his pledges of loyalty to ingratiate himself into the new order. No matter. The opportunity still existed, he’d just have to up the ante and offer more than he had originally planned to give. Inconvenient, but minor when the alternative was death. He forced what he hoped was a disarming smile and injected a subservient tone into his voice.

‘M-my offer was sincere and my loyalty still lies with you Dark Lady,’ he wheezed, ‘You seek power to overthrow King Arthas yes? I can give it to you and more…secrets from the Burning Legion that have been solely within our province for millenia, a gift without price that I will give freely. With what he has become, you will need what I can offer you if you ever wish to see him dead.’ Pathetic, he thought as he saw her eyes lose some of their hardness and evince uncertainty. Revenge was such an easy motivator for mortals and none were so motivated for it as Sylvanas Windrunner. Give them what they believe they want and they will be yours, their Sire would be pleased.

But then the silence was broken as Sylvanas suddenly began to laugh and Varimathras felt a chill run down his spine that had nothing to do with the arrows sticking there. ‘Your usefulness was at an end as soon as your brothers were dead Varimathras, you have no power that I want nor are you in any position to offer it.’ Her face twisted in utter contempt. ‘Did you think me so foolish as to fall for such a transparent ploy, that appealing to my desire for revenge was all it would take for you to worm your way back into my good graces?’

Cursing inwardly, Varimathras flinched as Sylvanas walked closer and made to raise his arms to defend himself only to find to his horror that he could no longer move his limbs. ‘P-poison…’ he breathed angrily. Smirking, Sylvanas leaned in close, utterly in control as Varimathras began to panic. How had he misread her so utterly?

‘You like it?’ she purred savagely. ‘It’s same one I tailored for that brat Arthas, I’m please to see it effects demons equally.’ She leaned closer to his ear, her next words whispered so that only he could hear them. ‘I will find that bastard one day and I will kill him, but it will be done by MY will and not as a hollowed puppet for your master’s bidding. Goodbye Dreadlord.’

Straightening up, she slowly turned and began to walk away as Forsaken began to edge closer and surround the stricken demon. Looking over her shoulder, she breathed two words. ‘Kill him.’

Cresting the rise, she looked upon the Alliance remnants who were staring at her as well as each other in confusion. Time to diffuse this situation before it exploded, she thought.

‘Soldiers of the Alliance!’ she cried. ‘I am Sylvanas Windrunner, once Ranger General of Quel’thalas until I was slain by the murderous Prince Arthas. Once I was a tool to monsters, but I broke free of the Lich King’s will and sought to free others as well to fight as free men and women, not slaves.’

‘Both Quel’thalas and Lordaeron have been ravaged by the Scourge and both our peoples have suffered for it. So I seek to end any further suffering between us while our true enemy, the Lich King, still draws breath. Therefore, I will give you leave to withdrawal and seek shelter to the south while my people hold the attention of the Scourge here.’

Murmurs began within the Alliance ranks until an officer stepped out, a captain from the look of his armor. ‘You lied to us and killed Lord Garithos!’ he shouted. ‘Why should we believe a word you say?’

Sylvanas closed her eyes in exasperation, I should have known it wouldn’t have been that simple she thought reproachfully. The damnable thing is he had a point and she had given it to him by killing that insufferable man, trying to ignore that wouldn’t help the tense situation and would very likely make it worse.

She never was the political one, that always tended to be the province of her outspoken subordinate Lor’themar Theron. Her heart ached at the thought of him, did he still live? Did Nathanos? Focus, she chided herself. There will be time for such things later, right now she needed to avert a catastrophe to ensure there WAS a later. And to do that, she’d have to start becoming what she had never been…political.

‘Because he left me with no other choice if there was to be peace,’ she said sadly. And before the captain could retort, she continued on. ‘Ask yourself, would Lord Garithos have truly have allowed us to leave after retaking the Capital?’ She spoke louder and more confidently so the Alliance soldiers could hear, inspiration filling her. ‘In your heart of hearts, would he have sought peace or would he have committed you to yet another pointless battle that would have seen both our peoples ravaged and the survivors left as easy pickings for the Undead?’

From the Captain’s silence and the increasingly uneasy murmuring from within the Alliance’s ranks, she knew she had guessed correctly. Well done Theron, she smiled inwardly. She forged on. ‘He did not seek peace and to rebuild, he was a man lost to vengeance who would have spent your lives carelessly for his own ego. For both our peoples to live, he had to die.’

‘Aye, he always was a right bastard!’ said a dwarf in the front ranks with an shrug who quickly feigned ignorance as the Captain rounded on him. Murmurs of agreement began to sweep the ranks and the Captain looked helplessly for support from his fellow officers only to find them stoically inspecting their boots with neutral expressions on their faces.

Defeated, the Captain turned back to Sylvanas. ‘This is still our home too, you’re asking us to abandon Lordaeron for the questionable safety down south. There’s no guarantee the Scourge will even let us leave.’

Sylvanas nodded slowly. ‘My people will guarantee it…by attacking Andorhal.’ ‘Andorhal???’ said the Captain incredulously. ‘But…that’s a Scourge bastion for this entire area! You’d never be able to overcome its defenses even if both our armies attacked it together!’

‘I have no intention of trying to take it,’ said Sylvanas sagely to the Captain’s confusion. ‘But it will have the effect of focusing the majority of the Scourge’s attention on my forces which will give you the opportunity you need to escape.’

Surprise crossed the Captain’s face. ‘You…you’re going to act as bait…for us? I-I don’t know what to say…except…well, thank you. But what about you, how do you intend to hold them off?’

Smiling, Sylvanas spread her arms to encompass the surrounding city. ‘With Lordaeron City under our control and the defenses still mostly intact, we will be able to withstand a siege even from the Scourge.’ Nodding in the direction of the Alliance soldiers, she turned back to the Captain. ‘I suggest you move quickly before you draw too much of their attention.’

‘I agree,’ said the Captain. Turning, he shouted for the officers to move out and the Alliance forces began to head in the opposite direction. As he moved to join them, he stopped and faced Sylvanas once more. ‘I’m still not sure what to make of you or your people my Lady, but I don’t think you are monsters. For what you’ve done and are about to do on behalf of the Alliance, you have my gratitude and if we live through this to see the spires of Stormwind I will ensure King Wrynn hears of your valor.’

As the Alliance army marches out of sight, Sylvanas turns as one of her banshee companions draws close. ‘My lady, you’re really going to let them go?’ she asked. ‘It’s the best option at this point,’ Sylvanas responded simply, still watching as the last of the Alliance soldiers crested the horizon before disappearing. ‘We had them at our mercy and could have killed them easily,’ stated the banshee matter of factly, ‘are you not concerned their leaders may treat us as Scourge and seek to see us eradicated regardless?’

Turning to the banshee, Sylvanas nodded with a weariness she finally let herself show. ‘Yes, it’s possible,’ she admitted. The banshee frowned. ‘Then why take such a risk?’ she asked quizzically. ‘Because we cannot survive much less destroy the Lich King on our own, it will take time,’ said Sylvanas as she closed her eyes tiredly. ‘Time…and allies.’

The banshee quirked an eyebrow. ‘You believe the Humans would ally with the likes of us? They seemed all too ready to destroy us if that human Garithos had given the word.’ Sylvanas’ eyes flashed. ‘I have no great love for Humans especially after what that bastard Arthas did to Quel’thalas,’ she gritted her teeth, ‘or to me.’

After a moment, she let out a deep breath and stared deep into the banshee’s ethereal eyes. ‘But a rather troublesome subordinate whose wisdom I’ve finally begun to recognize taught me that in order for our people to survive we can’t simply be guided by our hatreds, we have to be more than that.’ She turned to look out at the horizon. ‘I have to be more than that.’

‘We won’t forget what Arthas has done and one day our blades will taste his blood, but we will not do so alone. We will seek out those who would aid us, we will fight alongside those seeking the Scourge’s end and we will survive.’

‘Our destiny is now our own, let us seize it.’

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TFT straight up demonstrated that the Forsaken working with the Alliance was a possibility even with people like Garithos around. I think that the Forsaken could have easily been written to be part of the Alliance in WoW but that isn’t the game we got, for better or worse.

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ugh, please don’t quit your day job.

For real though, this whole story you have crafted is really campy and very cringe.

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I’m sorry if you didn’t like it, it wasn’t intended to be a novel just deeper clarification as to how this scenario could have worked.

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You’ve managed to suck the life out of Sylvanas and the Forsaken by making them Alliance bootlickers. I don’t think you really grasp the appeal of being Forsaken, or the empowerment.

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How so? She held all the cards and chose to let them live.

Not because she wanted to be all kissy kissy with them but simply out of simple pragmatism. She needed allies if the Forsaken were to survive and killing all the Alliance soldiers would have pretty much slammed that door shut and created another enemy with a powerful faction.

I made a point of showing she had not forgiven her anger at Humans, just that for her people’s sake she had to start putting it behind her for their future.

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The appeal of being the Forsaken is to do evil things that make everyone hate you and never face any consequences for it

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Because the Forsaken is about finding belonging, they would never again belong with the living. Fighting for a place in the world as they are, not as they were. It’s about the concept of ‘found belonging.’ as well as anarchy and the rejection of authority.

“Rightful heirs of Lordaeron!” Sylvanas called out, holding her bow aloft. Her forearm, still slender and muscular, was now a shade of blue-gray. Dead. The scene was very different now. This vision had the cold sheen of a memory lived after death. Before her waited a grotesque, quivering mass of corpses, their armor piecemeal, their bodies broken, the stench unimaginable. Their plaintive, desperate gazes reminded her suddenly of children. They disgusted her. But their need empowered her. “The Lich King falters. Your will is your own. Are you to be outcasts now in your own land? Or do we embrace the cruel cards fate has dealt us and retake our place in this world?”

Her questions were greeted with gurgles, then a rasping, almost desperate cheer. Bony fists lifted toward the sky. These poor people: peasants, farmers, priests, warriors, lords and nobles… they hadn’t yet come to grips with what had happened to them. But for somebody—anybody—to assure them that they belonged somewhere was electrifying. “We are abandoned. We are… forsaken. But when the sun rises tomorrow, the capital will be ours,” she pronounced. And now they roared.

This is what made the Forsaken awesome.

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That’s what the Forsaken became, this was just about showing an alternate future where she could have still gotten rid of Garithos without unnecessarily making an enemy with the Alliance.

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That’s what made the Forsaken FAIL. And as a direct result of that mindset, their home is gone, Sylvanas abandoned them and they’re a mere remnant still attached to the Horde out of pity.

It might have been a fun ride for some players while it lasted, but eventually all those bad decisions started catching up and it became unsustainable.

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You just keep telling yourself that.

Hey, thanks for sharing such a detailed and fascinating story on the forums here, OP! I love it when people get creative and share their stories, it’s awesome!
I think I prefer how it went in canon lore though, personally. For two key reasons:

  1. Being “Forsaken” from the humans added an element of tragedy to the Forsaken narrative, and that of the fall of Lordaeron. Them all immediately becoming friends would’ve been nice, but might have cheapened the narrative on some level. I think the tragedy of Lordaeron’s fall has been portrayed better by the tragedy of division – enmity and distrust between its living and dead remnants which has led to some fascinating storytelling already, and has the potential to add to yet more.
  2. The addition of the Forsaken (and later Blood Elves) to the Horde was possibly one of the best narrative decisions of WoW’s history. The Horde, up to that point, was comprised entirely of tribal societies. Blizzard, for better or worse, even used the word “savage” to describe them, fairly regularly. By making the Horde as a faction more diverse, it really nullified the whole “civilized vs savage” binary they’d previously set up between the two factions, which frankly was an excellent choice to make.
    I like the division, I like the conflict, and I like the fact that the Forsaken joined the Horde :smiley:

That said, do I think it’s possible the Alliance might’ve accepted the Forsaken, hypothetically?

Yeah, I do.

I personally have doubts it’d happen as quickly or as easily as it did in your story. I think you underestimate the visceral disgust people had for the shambling corpses that’d just eviscerated the heart of the Alliance. Those Alliance members were very receptive, which was cool. I wonder if they’d have even listened when Garithos was killed… even though Garithos was a jerk, he wasn’t a rotting corpse. He wasn’t a “monster.” That instinctive disgust wasn’t there for him. I guess what I’m saying is I have doubts that the Alliance members would even trust Sylvanas’ proclamation that they would attack Andorhal to help the Alliance escape, and even if they did, they might just as well wait until Sylvanas’ forces leave Capital City and then simply swoop back and take it for themselves. Trusting the monsters that wiped out Lordaeron, Quel’thalas and Dalaran doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, come easy.

But hey that’s the beauty of perception, isn’t it? We all see things a little differently. Again though, thanks for sharing! I appreciate the creativity and thought you’ve put into this, it was fun to read!

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:heart_eyes: It was such a good speech! I REALLY loved that.

The Forsaken didn’t fail, not as such. Sylvanas failed. Sylvanas turned on everything she once purported to believe.

The Forsaken have been laid low. But it’s not the end. I believe the Forsaken can come back from this and continue to be a fascinating part of the WoW universe. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what they do with Calia and Lillian going forward - it’s so good to have some human Lordaeronian representation! I will always miss Sylvanas for what she was, and I dislike what they did with her… but the Forsaken still have a future and I’m excited to see it unfold.

Why are you being so petty? I don’t have to tell myself anything, that was basically the story of BfA where the developers told it for us.

If you don’t like my story, that’s fine. But you don’t need to be rude about it.

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Didn’t they though? The fact that their adoration of her turned to such blind hero worship that they willingly followed her right up until she had to openly admit they were nothing to her before finally realizing they had been used would seem to suggest they were along for the ride for most of the way.

Sylvanas did use them for sure. But the signs had been there even before Edge of Night which is why I can’t bring myself to consider them victims when they chose to continue to willingly follow her without question even when she really started going off the rails. Initially they may have been legitimate victims, but at a certain point it would be more accurate to describe them as enablers.

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Nobody tell Renautus that that speech was written by recently fired sex pervert Dave Kosak

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She doesn’t need to be fixed.

The current Forsaken as well as the Horde leadership would probably disagree with you on that.

And I’m not trying to fix her, I simply wanted to investigate an scenario where she made different choices. What I created isn’t her, it’s just a possibility of what she might have been.

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If your scenario were real the Forsaken would have been instantly wiped out along with your passive Sylvanas. You put too much faith that humanity wouldn’t be absolute garbage. These people hate anyone who is different. There’s so many instances of humans being racist towards Forsaken, treating them as monsters, hunting them even,

Genn Greymane released the Worgen curse on his own people just to try and kill the Undead. Humans created a Light crusade hate group just to kill undead. There were no such thing as good undead and bad undead. Forsaken were seen as the Scourge.

She had to be that fierce and unapologetic for them to survive as a race in the face of extinction.

Well “fail” is a subjective term, or at least one that varies depending on context. If you mean they stuffed up, then sure. They made a judgement error in trusting Sylvanas. That could’ve happened on either faction though, to be fair.

But as a race I don’t believe they’ve failed. When you were replying to Renautus saying “this is what made the Forsaken great” (which unless I misread the post was referring to Forsaken identity?) I assumed you were talking about the state of the race as a whole. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for them, going forward.

Either way it’s certainly not exclusively their faction choice or desire to see themselves as “Forsaken” that led to this failure. It was their loyalty to Sylvanas, who in your scenario would’ve led the Forsaken either way. So from where I’m sitting it remains a failure of Sylvanas more than the Forsaken people. But hey maybe I’m wrong!