King Varian Wrynn has had a tough life. The previous may just be the understatement of the year award – but in regards to World of Warcraft, when Wrynn first appeared on the scene to take back Stormwind’s throne, reactions were…mixed to say the least. Most viewed him as a pompous xenophobic jackass; most were largely unimpressed by both him and his friends. Mind you, most hadn’t read the Warcraft comics series either, so they weren’t sure what exactly was going on or why Wrynn came back the way he did – or why he looked like the swarthy reject anime hero he is today. But Varian Wrynn’s history stretches back farther than just his sudden reemergence in Stormwind, and it explains a lot about his current motives and feelings regarding the Horde. Is Wrynn as complex a hero as Blizzard would make him out to be? Or is he just a jerk with no justification?
WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING: Wrath of the Lich King, and possibly Cataclysm. Also included HEAVILY are the Warcraft comics and novels. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!
The Kingdom of Stormwind and the Invasion of the Orcs
Varian Wrynn was born to King Llane Wrynn and, of course, an unmentioned female that he was supposedly married to. I’m not certain why exactly Azeroth’s most well known characters don’t seem to have mothers, or why their mothers are never mentioned by name, but…there you go. Varian’s childhood was a happy one for the most part – but the happiness was punctuated by attacks from the orcs that had mysteriously appeared through a Dark Portal in the Swamp of Sorrows.
Years before Varian’s birth, when King Llane Wrynn reached the age in which he was crowned Prince of Azeroth, a great feast was arranged in his honor. During the feast the great wizard Medivh appeared, interrupting the festivities and gifting Llane with an obsidian hourglass that symbolized Azeroth’s prosperity. The sands in the glass ran, but the top half never emptied into the bottom half. Llane was pleased – until six years later; he woke to find that the hourglass had almost completely emptied. As the last grain of sand fell from the top to the bottom of the glass, an attack on Stormwind Keep began – the first attack by the invading orcs of Draenor, and the first attack in what was to become the First War between the orcs and the humans. Llane’s father fell in battle, and Llane was crowned King.
The timeline here is confusing, due to the events presented in the books, novels and comics – when exactly Varian was born in all of this, specifically, and how King Llane had time to raise him. But the orc attacks were largely kept at bay due to the strength of Stormwind’s army, and the curious wizard who had given Llane the hourglass so many years ago.
Medivh lent his aid where and when he could, when he was not busy with other errands either in his home of Karazhan to the south, or other parts of the world unknown. Medivh had an apprentice, a young man named Khadgar, and another, quieter friend – the half-orc assassin Garona, sent as an ambassador of sorts between Medivh and the orc clans that poured through the Dark Portal. Garona was shrewd, wicked and wise, but carried her own set of morals and feelings. Over time, her respect for Medivh grew a great deal, and her fascination with the humans grew even more. A supposed half-human herself, she didn’t know her true heritage – so the actions and motives of the humans were of great interest to her.
Garona was introduced to King Llane, who treated the half-orc with kindness and respect, something that was new to her. An outcast among her people for being ‘too human’, and an outcast among humans for being…well, green skinned and quite obviously an orc, she wasn’t used to being treated with kindness. Thus it was with shock and horror that she she came across an errant pocket of magic in Karazhan’s towers that showed her a scene from the future timeline – Garona of the future, standing over the body of the man who had treated her with such kindness, none other than King Llane Wrynn himself.
Horrified, Garona continued on, hoping against hope that the vision she had been privy to was just a vision, nothing more. But it was not to be. The orc’s attacks among the humans intensified, and Garona became a trusted confidant to King Llane – but could never quite bring herself to give her allegiance to the King entirely, due to the events she had seen that were sure to come to pass. The day came – she was ordered to kill King Llane by the Shadow Council, and knowing that the timeline must play out as shown in Karazhan, she did so in the chamber of Stormwind’s throne, tears streaming down her face.
King Llane was dead. And in the corner of the room, young Varian Wrynn witnessed it all.