In Our Fathers' Footsteps [NaNoWriMo]

(This letter contains numerous plot spoilers of the Shattering game patch and novel.)

To Baine, son of High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof,
and Moira, daughter of King Magni Bronzebeard,

You have my deepest condolences.

I know that as King of Stormwind and leader of the human nations, we have not always seen eye-to-eye. But I do not write you this letter as a political leader or enemy, but simply as someone who has been in your shoes and knows the turmoil you must be feeling.

Baine, I know that our people are technically enemies, but my enmity is directed not at your kind, but your allies. It is the barbaric orcs and treacherous undead that I despise, not the gentle, nature-loving Tauren. I have always respected the power and might of your people, and the compassion and serenity of your race is truly admirable. And I will never forget the kindness of Hamuul Runetotem, who helped me rediscover my forgotten identity, and aided me in returning to my people. Perhaps in a different life, our people could have been allies. Maybe even friends.

Though your father and I were never close, I regarded him very highly. I appreciated his prowess as a warrior, but more than that, Cairne was a great leader. The strength in his arms was surpassed only by the wisdom and kindness in his eyes. I know that he fought not for conquest or glory, but for peace.

In many ways, your father reminded me of one of the most decent people I have ever known, Sir Anduin Lothar. Heroic, inspiring, and always willing to put aside his own doubts or concerns for the sake of his people. I can think of no better man to compare your father to.

From what I have heard of your father's death, he died in a valiant, honorable attempt to seize command, so that the foolish actions of Hellscream would not destroy the Horde. I commend him for his beliefs and intentions, for I can think of no braver act. I do not think for a second that his challenge was inspired by personal ambitions - like Lothar, I know your father was only trying to do what was right and just. He died a hero's death.

I am very familiar with the stupidity of the new Warchief, and I deeply regret that your father was unsuccessful. Were Cairne Bloodhoof leading the Horde, I would almost dare to imagine days of peace and cooperation in our future. I grieve for not only the loss of a great leader, but also what might have been, had he been victorious.

I know the death of your father in such a way is difficult, almost impossible to bear. My father, too, was stolen from me by one who we had trusted as an ally. I now pass on to you the wisdom Lothar gave me: do not let rage and hatred consume you, become your life. It is not what your father would have wanted.

I know this may sound strange coming from me, considering how much I loathe Thrall's people. But this is my point, Baine - do not become like me. I struggle with my hatred towards the orcs every day of my life, and I know it hinders my judgment and causes me to make rash decisions. I know this, and I regret it. I try to counter these feelings by surrounding myself with peaceful people like my son Anduin and Jaina Proudmoore, but it is an ongoing battle that tears at me constantly. It is no way to live.

Baine, the events of my life have soured me, but I take satisfaction in knowing my son remains unprejudiced and earnest. I think Cairne would want the same of you.

Moira, this goes for you as well. We're quite alike, you and I. But while I dislike my temperamental, volatile side, you seem inclined to embrace it. As someone who considered your father a close friend, I think it's my duty to try to keep you from straying down the path you're currently on.

You may find this hard to believe after the...incident in Ironforge, but I do not consider you my enemy, Moira. I was not striking out against you or your people because of your lineage or your claim to the throne, but because you had kidnapped my son. As a mother yourself, you should understand my feelings.

I do not apologize for my actions, for I would willingly repeat them in a heartbeat. However, Anduin has asked that I not hold it against you, so for his sake, I am willing to let bygones be bygones.

Anduin has explained the complicated relationship you had with your father, and while I do not agree with your actions thus far, I cannot deny that you have a right to be angry and upset at him. However, though you are free to live your life as you please, allow me to remind you of what a noble soul King Magni was, what great things he accomplished, and maybe share with you some things about him that you never knew.

Since I was a boy, my people have been proud to name the dwarves as our friends and brothers. The bonds between our nations are strong, and it would be a terrible waste if our allegiance would to ever falter. The Deeprun Tram is a unifying symbol of our strength, and should the dwarven people ever fall under duress, know that reinforcements and support will be fast arriving.

Separate, we are isolated and stranded. But together, we are mighty. I believe our people have much to offer each other, and I hope that you can come to view us not as rivals or spies, but as friends.

As for your father, I counted him among my closest friends and companions. It saddens me deeply that I will no longer have his strong arm, his fiery passion to rely upon. As a King, I could not have asked for a better friend and peer. When I was trying to re-learn how to be a ruler after months of knowing nothing but gladiator arenas and savage fighting, Magni was there to help me. Without his experience and patience, I would have been lost under the sea of tiresome political machinations and endless bureaucracy. His years of knowledge and kind, amicable tutelage were invaluable, and I will be forever grateful to him for this.

Moira, I know you are angry at your father for his behavior towards you when you were young, but your father also hated himself for his cruel words. You may not know this, but pushing you away was Magni's biggest regret. Every time he came to Stormwind, I could see the pain in his eyes when he looked at Anduin and I. He was happy for us, but at the same time, he lamented that the two of you would never enjoy such a relationship.

I know that Magni deeply regretted his rash words, and would have done anything to take them back. Even after he learned that you would be remaining with the Dark Irons, he did not disown you or react in anger. No, as you know, he declared that always would you be his daughter, and that you would always be welcome in Ironforge's halls. He truly loved you with all his heart.

He never forgave himself for wronging you. I hope that eventually, you can find it in your heart to forgive him.

Do you know how Magni ended up in his crystalline form? You must have noticed the rumblings coming from deep within the earth, the storms blowing across even the blasted, molten lands of the Dark Irons. Powerful elemental forces are stirring, and Magni saw this and recognized the danger. He sought to find a solution that would save us all, even at the risk of his own life.

When Anduin told me of the mysterious, unknown concoction your father imbibed in his attempt to commune with the elemental forces within the mountain, I was shocked. Your father was not a stupid dwarf. He did not do this out of recklessness or because he thought himself invincible. No, he drank the mixture because he saw it as the only way to save his people, and he would never ask another to do something that he was not willing to do himself.

Do you understand now what kind of dwarf your father was, Moira? Magni was not perfect. He made mistakes, as we all do. But he was also a caring soul, one greatly concerned about the welfare of his allies and his kingdom. He tried his best to ensure the safety of his people, and he tried to make amends with you, though you would not accept it. But still he refused to give up on you.

Magni's greatest strength was not his axe arm, his battle experience, or his indomitable will. It was his heart.

And so, I ask that you not focus on the heated insults of the past and instead look at what magnificence you can bring to your people. For the first time in years, the Ironforge and the Dark Iron dwarves have a common bond, a united cause that they can unite under.

You have a special, never-before seen chance, Moira; to erase the anger and vitriol that has divided the dwarves for so many years, and finally reunite the estranged clans.

Will you rise to this challenge and become known as a savior? Or will you be obsessed with petty vendettas and throw away this grand opportunity? Only you can decide.

Finally, Baine Bloodhoof, Moira Bronzebeard, I offer you this advice:

Be kind. Be wise. But most importantly, remember who you are. Your predecessors were two of the most noble, benevolent people I have ever known, but I have faith that their children can live up to their legacies.

Son of Cairne. Daughter of Magni.

Make your fathers proud.

Son of Llane,

Show/Hide Letter Notes

Pertinent Lore:

Varian Wrynn

Magni Bronzebeard
Moira Thaurissan

Cairne Bloodhoof
Baine Bloodhoof

As the warning says, this letter is largely based off the events of the Shattering novel, though it also alludes to various ingame quests, such as when Magni sends adventurers to save Moira from the Dark Irons, only to be coldly rebuffed and rejected by her.

I hadn't planned on doing any Shattering/Cataclysm-related letters, but after a surprisingly sad farewell visit to Cairne (see my post here) I decided I HAD to do something to honor him. And, I figured, I should keep it faction-neutral and include Magni as well.

The difficult part was coming up with a common bond between the two. Maybe Tirion? He's never really associated with either. Perhaps Tyrande, because of the Alliance tie with Magni, and the nelf/tauren druid association? It was a possibility, but the relevance seemed too weak. Jaina was another option, and while she had a nice strong tie with Tyrande (they fought together at Mount Hyjal) I couldn't think of a real, existing connection with Cairne.

I scrapped that idea and thought of having the letter be a joint letter from Cairne and Magni to their children. Not a joint letter like they were sitting there writing it together, but it would be two separate letters they had each written to their child, but it would read in alternative paragraphs, to emphasize the differences and contrasts between each family. It was an interesting idea, but ended up being too confusing and tough to follow, so I junked it as well.

However, one of the topics was going to be each leader discussing the hardships facing their people - Cairne was going to talk about the Horde's depleted resources, and Magni was going to discuss how difficult it was to prevent open war, since Varian was so pissed-off all the time. While I tossed the joint letter idea, it DID make me think of Varian.

Varian's a unique case. He's got quite a bit in common with either Baine and Moira, or both. His father was a king (both) who was killed through betrayal (Baine), and he's got some serious anger/grudge issues (Moira). Like Baine, Varian grew up with an outstanding moral and martial role model (Lothar), and like Moira, he has a young child who he loves deeply. He's the perfect person to write them.

I thought it would be a nice twist if Varian's message to each of the two new rulers was different in spirit and in tone. I felt it appropriate that with Baine, Varian would talk of Cairne's sense of honor, his desire for peace, and his skill as a warrior. With Moira, I could picture Varian speaking of the tactical reasons why the dwarves & humans should remain allies, and the side of Magni that she never saw (including Magni's guilt over driving her away).

It's ironic, actually, that of the two, Varian's past is most similar to Baine, his "enemy." We saw an interesting side of Varian in the Shattering novel, where he admits that he is aware of his volatile side, and isn't exactly fond of it. I thought it would be fun if he advised Baine not to be obsessed with revenge, not out of any moral or ethical logic, but because he knows from experience that it only leads to hardship.

I thought of mentioning Garona, the orcs, Garrosh, and the Grimtotems, but didn't want to get THAT involved into those various subplots. I did try to color Varian's words about orcs or Garrosh with underlying distaste, though.

With Magni, I wanted to point out how important the dwarf-human alliance has been over the years. Of course, proximity has a lot to do with it, but when Varian returned and took back the throne, I imagine he was quite lost and confused in the transition. I think Magni's fatherly instincts would have kicked in, especially since he'd had no one to be a father to, with Moira gone.

It's clear that Magni believes deeply in keeping ties strong with Stormwind - in the comics, Magni asks Stormwind for assistance on numerous occasions (though he is denied by Katrana Prestor) and he helps the rogue Varian back onto the throne. And in the Shattering novel, they have an almost familiar kinship, with Anduin going on vacation with Magni in Ironforge.

Varian's got a number of dominant personality traits - anger, loyalty, and prejudice (albeit justified) primarily amongst them. But the one quality that overrides everything else in his life is his dedication to family. His love for his father and for his son are unmatched, and I think THESE would be the traits he'd want to emphasize and value in such a letter.

3 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    I love the part where Varian says his farewell and mentions each of them by their fathers. Then signs his name the same way. Your NaNo storiest had inspired me to be a better fanfic writer in anyway possible. Any pointers you have for me would be great!


    November 24, 2010 at 1:43 PM

  2. gravatar

    I just finished reading /The Shattering/, and this felt like I was reading an appendix to that book, rather than something external (and one of the better-writ parts, at that).

    Well done, well done.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:51 PM

  3. gravatar

    Thanks for the comments guys! I was pretty happy with how this one turned out, considering I hadn't planned for it in advance.

    Anslym, I'm a BIG FAN of parallelism in writing, especially with emotional messages. It makes it feel almost poetic. In this case, I felt signing it the same way he had just addressed them really drove home his "Despite our differences, I'm just like you" message. :D

    Grimm, I'm glad it made sense in a post-Shattering (novel) world! I felt the book characterized these three people very well, and really wanted to share those feelings with others through this letter.

    November 26, 2010 at 11:24 AM