(Part 2 of 4 of a series of lore-related posts inspired by the Cataclysm trailer)
I urge you to take a few minutes and rewatch the first video (the Wrath cinematic trailer) and play the second video (the "Invincible" Battlecry Mosaic song) when you get to it, for effect.
The day you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name...Arthas.
My child, I watched with pride as you grew into a weapon of righteousness.
Remember, our line has always ruled with wisdom, and strength.
And I know you will show restraint when exercising your great power.
But the truest victory, my son, is stirring the hearts of your people.
I tell you this, for when my days have come to an end...
You shall be King.
While writing the previous post about the Cataclysm trailer, I went back and watched the trailers for the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King for comparison. I have always loved the Wrath trailer, and while re-watching it I wondered just what about it so greatly appealed to me. Was it the lore? Terenas' hauntingly twisted words? The feeling of finality and closure? Or maybe it was simply the incredible, poignant music.
As I watched Arthas raise that incredible bitch Sindragosa from the ice, revelation suddenly struck like a thunderbolt. The reason the Wrath trailer had such a deep impact on me was because we are in it.
Set against the backdrop of his son's latest act of foul necromancy, Terenas' loving speech - full of warmth and love, and clearly spoken (or possibly written) in earlier, happier days - is heartbreaking and bitterly ironic. It's beautifully tragic, and one cannot help but feel sympathy for poor Terenas, a proud, caring father who had no idea his son would eventually commit such horrific crimes.
However, his role in the trailer takes on an entirely new meaning when you consider Terenas' perspective. As Arthas' father, Terenas watched Arthas grow, develop and mature from an inexperienced, brash youth to a heroic Champion of the Light. But he was not the only one. Someone else was there to witness Arthas' greatest moments, to revel in his joy, to share his pain.
That other person, is of course...us.
During the events of Warcraft III (and its expansion, The Frozen Throne) we as players guided Arthas like a son along his fated path, watching as his convictions were challenged and as countless foes fell before his might. But while Terenas was not there to actually witness his son slowly, gradually succumb to dark temptation and madness, and plummet farther and farther into the Lich King's clutches...we were.
In fact, we did not simply observe these events, we showed him the way. WE purged Strathholme, using Arthas as our implement. Arthas didn't burn his army's boats to maroon his sailors in Northrend - we did. And it was at our command that he drew Frostmourne from its icy tomb, forever dooming the young Prince of Lordaeron to his cruel fate.
Azeroth's historians may blame Arthas' fall from grace on Kel'Thuzad, Mal'Ganis, or the Burning Legion. But we know the truth. These forces may have laid the stones, but it wasn't any necromancer or demon who walked Arthas down that dark road. It was us. It was our hands that turned Arthas into the monster he is today.
And now, just as Terenas has waited long years trapped within Frostmourne for a chance to rescue his son, or failing that, to avenge his soul, so too have we waited. Through the emergence of Elemental Lords, the discovery of fearsome troll empires, and the exploration of other-worldly, alien lands, the specter of Arthas has always loomed in our memory, his story unfinished, uncertain...and unresolved.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Wrath of the Lich King trailer was received with excitement and anticipation by many players who had deep emotional motivations for finally putting an end to Arthas. This wasn't just a new raid boss or some evil Old God out to destroy the world - this was Arthas. OUR Arthas. After years of pondering the fate of the human boy we lifted to such heights, and then cast down to such depths, now we knew. Finally we would able to close the book on this tragic saga, redeem ourselves for our past mistakes, and lay Arthas' tortured soul to rest.
We caused his downfall...it's only right that we be the ones to end his torment.
We owe it to him.
Farewell, Prince Arthas Menethil, son of Lordaeron, our champion. You deserved better than what you received at our hands.