The quiet fate of Arthas' secret captain

We're all very familiar with two of Arthas' former captains-turned-lackeys, Falric and Marwyn. We fight them in the Halls of Reflection, and they can be seen for a few seconds in the Warcraft 3 cinematic where Arthas kills King Terenas. Falric also plays a major part in the novel Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, and in the manga Death Knight.

But what most people don't know is that there was another captain in Arthas' doomed regiment, a man named Luc Valonforth. His story is actually quite odd - he and Falric actually used to be a single, nameless character! "The Captain," a playable character in Warcraft 3, became two separate people after Wrath of the Lich King was released. However, this was not a result of an ancient curse or powerful Scourge magic, but simply a result of the immortal, all-seeing foe known as...continuity.

Besides, who would actually believe a silly story about someone being split into two separate people? I mean, what an absurd, ridiculous--

...well, never mind.

Shortly into Arthas' hunt for Mal'Ganis, King Terenas sent an emissary to Northrend to order the recall of Lordaeron's troops. Terenas had spoken with Uther after the horrible events at Stratholme, and the two were convinced that something was deeply wrong with Arthas.

When the emissary arrived, Arthas was away hunting for Frostmourne with Muradin. In a flashback scene during the quest The Truth Shall Set Us Free (sadly Alliance only), we see Captain Valonforth speak with the emissary, receive the edict, and then order the soldiers to start making their way through the woods to their awaiting ships.

What's interesting is that in the original version of the Arthas novel, the emissary conversed not with Valonforth, but with an unnamed captain. It turns out that when she was writing the book, Christie Golden (the author) hadn't known about the creation of Valonforth for the game, so she hadn't included him in the novel.

Luc Valonforth during
"The Truth Shall Set Us Free"
(image from Wowpedia)
Perceptive fans noticed the discrepancy and wondered if readers would assume the unnamed captain had been Falric, only to be confused when they later saw in-game that it had been Valonforth, someone they had never heard of. Blizzard solved the problem by changing the novel captain to Luc Valonforth, so that both accounts of the story matched up.

So what happened to Valonforth? The easy assumption is that he was simply killed by Arthas and the Scourge, but is that really what happened? At the conclusion of The Truth Will Set Us Free, the assorted Forgotten soldiers turn into ghosts, while Arthas and Muradin disappear. But Valonforth also vanishes, perhaps implying that like Arthas and Muradin, he survived?

There is also the conspicuously-named Valgarde, the Alliance port stronghold in Howling Fjord. Valgarde is in the same location as Arthas' WC3 base camp, and is fairly similar in name to Valonforth.

Perhaps Luc Valonforth survived Arthas' betrayal, and played a major part in leading the survivors to safety, and/or founding Valgarde? No one really knows.

However, I have a theory about his end. I found out about Valonforth while researching Falric for Letters from Northrend, and was taken aback as soon as I saw his image. (Since the quest is Alliance-only, I had never seen him in-game.) I INSTANTLY recognized him.

From where, you might ask? Simple:


I had always wondered who this mysterious second-in-command was! I am very familiar with his appearance, as I spent many minutes staring at his tiny, blurry image for Vidyala's Paladin Fashion contest (which I wrote about in a previous post.)

If you watch carefully, he strolls in with Bolvar like someone in a leadership role, and later when Bolvar & Saurfang face off against the Lich King, who's at the front of the soldiers behind them? You got it - mystery guy! He's also got the exact same weapons and armor as Valonforth.

Here's a side-by-side comparison:

We also get a nice (well, awful I guess) frontal closeup of this fellow succumbing to Putress' plague.

This always struck me as strange. This unidentified soldier gets a lot of screen-time for just a random, generic NPC. But if it's Captain Luc Valonforth, suddenly it all makes sense! Suddenly it's not just a random soldier, it's someone who is a seasoned war veteran, who proved his valor in escaping the Scourge and saving the other survivors, and he knows Arthas well, having served under him. Plus, I'm sure he'd have quite the score to settle with his former Prince. Yes, it would make perfect sense for Bolvar to ask Valonforth to accompany him as his second.

Unfortunately, it doesn't really work out well for poor Luc, who really couldn't catch a break, could he? Still, he lives on in my favorite WoW moment ever as a memory, which I guess is better than nothing!

2 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    It does make sense, but the note you made about Christie not knowing about the character while writing the novel does bring up a point: just how loyal is Blizz to the lore? After all, they do sanction the novels, and I've heard complaints in certain quarters about the Knaak novels.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:16 AM

  2. gravatar

    Hey Red, I'm not sure exactly what you mean? I think Golden can definitely be excused for not knowing about Valonforth - he's a very, very minor character that had never existed before the quest in Wrath. If Golden was basing her novel off previous lore (and that's what 90% of the book IS) she would have been 100% correct in making the captain anonymous, since that's what he was in Warcraft III.

    On Blizzard's part, I think they take lore pretty seriously. In this example, they thought about the possible vagueness of Valonforth and realized it might be confusing, so they actually went and inserted Valonforth into the book for clarity. And then there was the Falstad/Red Shirt incident.

    In my eyes, they try their best. It's not perfect, but look at how immense and complex this world is that they've crafted. There's bound to be some mixups.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:55 AM