(This post contains spoilers concerning the Cataclysm Horde quests in Arathi Highlands.)
As we all know, Patch 4.1 - Rise of the Zandalari will see us once again waging war against the Trolls, in redesigned 5-man versions of Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman. I'm very excited about the developing lore behind this new Troll empire, and am not entirely unsympathetic to their plight. But that's another story altogether. I'm not going to go into great detail about Troll lore here, but if you're interested Anne Stickney has a great (spoiler-riffic) writeup about the new dungeons over at WoW Insider.
No, for me the return of the Trolls as a major power immediately brought one individual to mind.
Alliance players should be very familiar with Danath, as he is the leader of the Alliance forces at Honor Hold in Hellfire Peninsula. On the other hand, I doubt most Horde players are even aware of his existence, let alone his significance in Azerothian history.
Danath is the nephew of Thoras Trollbane, the deceased ruler of the human nation of Stromgarde, situated in the Arathi Highlands. Many years ago, Danath was part of the Alliance Expedition, along with other renowned members such as Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Khadgar, and Kurdran Wildhammer. The Expedition was a military force that traveled to Draenor to recover the stolen Book of Medivh from the orc warlock Ner'zhul, and stop him from opening portals to other worlds for the Horde to invade.
Danath and the other members of the Expedition managed to recover the artifact, but were unable to stop Ner'zhul from opening more rifts. The Expedition knew that the energy from these portals would seep through the Dark Portal and wreak havoc on Azeroth, so they made the difficult decision to seal the Portal from their side on Draenor, trapping themselves on the doomed planet. For many years everyone assumed the Expedition members were all dead, and memorial statues of Danath and the others were erected in Stormwind's Valley of Heroes acknowledging their heroism.
From left to right: Kurdran Wildhammer, Khadgar, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Danath Trollbane.
Of course, we have since re-opened the Dark Portal and discovered that at least some of the Expedition survived Draenor's destruction and were still struggling to ward off assaults by the Burning Legion and Fel Orc marauders.
Danath is still commanding the remaining Expedition troops at Honor Hold, while Khadgar has relocated to Shattrath to liaise with the Naaru. Kurdran, meanwhile, could be found in Wildhammer Stronghold in Shadowmoon Valley, but can now be found back on Azeroth in the Twilight Highlands as leader of Highbank.
No one has seen Turalyon or Alleria (who have a child, Arator) in at least a decade.
So, back to Danath. Let's get one thing straight about this guy.
He hates Trolls.
Yeah, that name isn't just for show.
Furthermore, when you meet Danath in Honor Hold, he is deeply saddened to learn that his beloved Stromgarde has fallen under harsh times; at the time, Stromgarde was basically a huge mess, under constant attack by the Syndicate, Boulderfist Ogres and even occasional Horde adventurers. He vows that should he ever return to Azeroth, "Stromgarde will once more rise as a force of reckoning."
I'd say that things have improved at Stromgarde since then...but that would be a lie.
Anyway, there's been speculation for a while now wondering when Danath would make a return to Azeroth. After all, his buddy Kurdran already came home, so why hasn't Danath? Continuity-wise, there's really no reason for him to stay in Outlands anymore, and nothing preventing him from returning to Stromgarde to renew his fallen nation.
Also, remember the Cataclysm trailer? Well, one of those afore-mentioned Valley of Honor statues gets knocked down during Deathwing's rampage. Guess who? Yep, you got it. One certain hater-of-Trolls.
I never noticed this before, but Danath's statue is TOTALLY THROWING UP METAL HORNS. |..|
Of course, Blizzard can't just bring him back without a good reason. If only there was some looming, major threat on the horizon...something that would appeal to the heart and soul of this courageous warrior. Something that would bring the Bane of Trolls home to Azeroth.
With the Trolls returning as a major threat, I don't see how Danath could possibly stay away! And it's not just out of racial enmity, either - this has the potential to be very personal.
Something Danath may or may not know is that the Trolls of Zul'Aman possess Trollbane, which could very likely be the mighty axe Danath's uncle Thoras Trollbane was famous for wielding. I'm guessing Danath wouldn't be too happy to learn that a famous family artifact was in the three-fingered hands of his hated foes. When the Horde and Alliance first assaulted Zul'Aman, Danath was still busy with events in Outlands and was way too busy to participate. But there's nothing stopping him this time...
However, Trollbane wasn't the only weapon Thoras was famous for brandishing in battle. He also used the legendary sword Trol'kalar, which means troll slayer in the ancient tongue. But while Trollbane had been lost to the Trolls years ago, Trol'kalar was safe in the hands of Thoras' son Galen Trollbane, Danath's cousin.
The first of the Trollbanes, Lord Ignaeus Trollbane, originally wielded Trol'kalar during the Troll Wars many years ago. A priceless, powerful heirloom, the sword was passed down until it ended up in Thoras' hands (Bind-on-Account, obviously), and when Thoras died, Galen sealed the sword in Thoras' tomb, to await the day when a new champion emerged from the people of Arathi Highlands to bring honor and glory to their mighty kingdom. That's right, Trol'kalar is basically the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
So with Galen watching over and safeguarding Trol'kalar, at least that's not something Danath has to worry about, right?
Well, funny story about that.
As someone who has done Arathi many times in the past, I have to admit - I laughed when I saw this.
...yeah. Things haven't exactly gone very well for the poor Prince of Stromgarde since the last time we heard of him. Remember those Horde adventurers who were poking around in the shattered ruins of Stromgarde? Turns out they were after Trol'kalar, at the behest of a Troll named Zengu. Zengu sought the mighty sword to use against Hakkar the Soulflayer, the fearsome deity worshiped by the Trolls of Zul'Gurub.
Long story short, Horde players infiltrated Stormgarde, unsealed Thoras' tomb, killed Prince Galen and took Trol'kalar, and gave it to Zengu.
Danath is going to be PISSED.
I'm sure he won't be bitter at all about the fact that a Troll ordered his cousin's death, and stole the OTHER Trollbane family heirloom. Or that these Trolls are now aligned with the Horde, who he probably still views as a global threat. Or that some other Horde members, the Forsaken, have RISEN HIS DEAD COUSIN FROM THE GRAVE.
I think things are going to get ugly.
But hey, what ever happened to Trol'kalar? Well, that's an interesting story. Turns out Zengu never did manage to use Trol'kalar against Hakkar. Instead, he set off for Stranglethorn Vale alone and was killed by humans, who took back the sword.
In any case, Galen, now fully compliant with Sylvanas' wishes (which is...a bit odd, to say the least), now guides Horde players through a series of events which leads to the eventual reclamation of Trol'kalar from the remnants of the Stromgarde forces.
Probably the funniest "Quest Objective target" caption ever. Oh well!
Oddly enough, after Horde players recover the sword, they are not asked to bring it to Sylvanas, Garrosh or Vol'jin, nor do they give it to some other important warrior to use in battle. Instead, Galen keeps it to guard and watch over, something that seems...strangely parallel to before, when we left it in Zengu's hands. And look how that turned out.
Say what? You don't think that sword might be more useful, oh I don't know, being used against the huge massing Troll armies? Instead you're going to leave it in the hands of this dude who's got all the reason in the world to hate your guts and abscond with this deadly artifact?
This all seems like a seriously Bad Idea.
So what does it all mean? Well, I think everything is shaping up BIG for a Trollbane homecoming. The time is ripe - I mean really, it's either now or never. Huge Troll threat? Check. Horde and Alliance at each others' throats? Check. Stromgarde in ruins, his nation decimated and his cousin slain & resurrected as a Forsaken lackey? Check, check and OMGWTFCHECK.
And really, the resolution to Galen's new Trol'kalar storyline SCREAMS of foreshadowing. Throughout the entire questline, Galen is, at best, emotionally detached from his Banshee Queen-given objectives. At other times, he's downright melancholy and - to a Forsaken like myself - ALARMINGLY still in possession of his former allegiances and loyalties.
I don't think anyone reading Galen's thoughts really thinks Trol'kalar will remain in Horde hands for long...
As much as it pains me to write this, I think Danath - a true warrior, not a diplomat, mind you - is going to arrive home, be all "Sup guys? Oh man, it's so good to be home. What's the good news? Say, what the hell happened to the park? Trolls are doing WHAT? Stromgarde WHAT? And WHAT DID THEY DO TO GALEN?" and go on a fucking RAMPAGE. Trolls will die, undead bones will be shattered asunder, Danath and Graymane will share a pint about the good old days, and Varian will receive a vicious spanking. ("SON, I KNEW YER PA AND YOU ARE SHAMIN' HIS GOOD NAME. QUIT BEIN' SUCH A BABY. NOW COME 'ERE, UNCLE DANATH'S GOT SOME DISCIPLININ' TO DELIVER. AND BY DISCIPLINE I MEAN MY MASSIVE HAND AND YOUR ARSE.")
(Hey, he hung with Kurdran for ages. I'm sure some dwarvishness rubbed off.)
How badass is Danath? Mid-paperwork he decided to just punch me to death. (And he did. D:)
Eventually, Danath will end up in Arathi, facing off with his fallen cousin. Nothing much at stake here, just the survival of their nation, a powerful chip in the Horde/Alliance stakes, and the most powerful weapon ever used against the Trolls. But hey Horde players, at least we can relax because I mean, no matter how much someone hates Sylvanas and the Forsaken, no matter the grudges they may have held in life, there's no way anyone could ever break free of the -
Sylvanas, I sure hope you've got your ducks in order, because this doesn't bode well for us Hordies. Danath is a killing machine - he's killed dozens, maybe hundreds of Orcs, defeated infamous Horde chieftain Killrogg Deadeye in single combat, and has survived in the barren wasteland of Hellfire Peninsula for YEARS, all while lacking in supplies and being besieged by demons. This bear of a man simply DOES NOT LOSE - not a single foe of Danath's is still breathing today. I don't think there's a force on Azeroth that could keep Danath's blade from your throat. A blade that just may end up being Trol'kalar.
Probably no force, that is, except maybe his old friend and war buddy Alleria Windrunner. Your sister. Who's ALSO still missing and whose reappearance is long overdue.
But that's a story for another time.