He's just a bad apple. Everything is a weapon to him. Even the sha."
-WoW Developer Q&A
Vol'jin, Baine and Lor'themar exchanged grim looks across the table. Between them, the maps revealed an uncomfortable truth: Alliance troop markers littered Kalimdor, blanketing areas that had, until recently, been firmly under Horde control.
The night elves in Ashenvale and Azshara. Bael'dun Reclaimers in the Barrens, and the Avengers of Theramore in Dustwallow.
The Alliance had, to use a phrase coined by the former Warchief, painted the continent blue.
Lor'themar swore as he surveyed the tactical nightmare, and Baine winced. In a mere five years, the Horde coalition, their grand gesture of unity, had failed them completely. Without Garrosh's firm hand upon his neck, Gallywix had cheerfully crept to the Alliance and sold them every secret he knew. And without Garrosh's stern gaze upon her, spirits only know what Sylvanas was up to. She and her people had vanished from the Undercity without warning, and no one had heard from them for months…other than vague, unsettling reports trickling in that Gilneas City was now heavily fortified, choked with poisonous, deadly fumes, and completely overrun with mindless undead.
The young High Chieftain sighed. It wasn't supposed to be like this. This was supposed to be a new era of cooperation and prosperity for the Horde, with its people working together as peers, rather than following the orders of any one specific person. Where all races, be they orc, troll or undead, would be treated as equals and respected for who they were.
However, it had only taken a few routine skirmishes with the Alliance to reveal one significant, glaring flaw in their thinking. This new, friendly, cooperative Horde didn't know how to fight.
Oh, Baine and Vol'jin were capable warriors. No one doubted their ferocity or prowess in battle. But did they know how to rally a faltering offensive? To shatter an enemy line and demoralize their foes? Did they possess the wherewithal to recognize the ebb and flow of a battle while fighting for their lives, and issue the appropriate commands? Or the raw fearlessness and confidence to wade through a raging melee and challenge the enemy commander?
Of them, only Lor'themar possessed these traits. And to his credit, he tried. But the disparate Horde was a very different war machine than the disciplined Sin'dorei army he was accustomed to. The Regent Lord was used to leading well-trained soldiers, mounted cavalry and retinues of supporting archers and war magi, where strategy, scouting and tactical maneuvers were what triumphed over brute force.
Lor'themar was used to defeating disorganized, rumbling swarms of bloodlust and savagery...not leading them.
And the Alliance had taken notice. For the first time in years, the constant Horde presence in Ashenvale had stumbled as they tried to come to terms with their new methodologies. Tyrande, never one to sit on her hands when opportunity arose, had struck, seizing back control of her people's ancestral forests. After her decisive victory, it wasn't long before Jaina Proudmoore returned to Kalimdor, leading a combined force from Dalaran, Stormwind and Ironforge.
Neither Baine nor Vol'jin's hurried attempts at peace talks could slow the Alliance offensive. Perhaps their efforts would have worked in the past, but not now. The Alliance was too angry, had lost too much ground, too many loved ones.
The three leaders stared in silence at the encroaching tide of blue on the maps before them.
Baine coughed. "We are all thinking it, but no one wants to say it. What we really need right now...is Garrosh." He raised a hand, muting the angry protests from his peers. "Yes, he got the Horde into this mess. But what’s done is done. The Alliance is at our door, and we are going to lose."
He looked at Lor'themar, then at Vol'jin. "Do you intend to surrender, Regent Lord? Knowing the enmity Proudmoore feels toward your people?" Lor'themar grimaced and looked away. "Or you, Vol'jin? Considering the history between the high elves and the trolls, do you think Vereesa Windrunner will look upon the Darkspears with mercy, after Theramore?"
Baine snorted, frustrated and resigned. "I will not subject my people to Alliance judgment, to be tried for crimes they did not commit. I wish there were another way, but it appears we will have to fight if we want the Horde to survive. And that is the oath we took when we formed this coalition. Gallywix and Sylvanas may have betrayed their word, but we will not. We must not."
"But our forces hesitate. I am not...aggressive enough to satisfy our warriors. Vol'jin is out of his element on the open field. And Regent Lord, blood elf tactics simply do not translate well to orcs and tauren. We need someone our people can rally around, who will lead from the front, who will inspire victory by their very presence. Whose only concern...is winning."
"We need Garrosh."
Vol'jin scowled darkly, but after a few moments, grudgingly nodded. Lor'themar said nothing, instead leaning over the table, his brow furrowed, analyzing the troop movements of the Alliance, looking for another option.
"Damn Garrosh for putting us into this situation," he muttered,tracing red supply line after red supply line that abruptly halted at blue blockades.
"Damn him for doing this to us!" he shouted, overturning the massive table with a crash. Maps and scout reports fluttered through the air, and tiny wooden tanks and knights rattled off the stone floor. The elflord turned away, fists clenched, his entire frame shaking with anger.
"And damn him for making us need him."
Baine knelt and picked up one of the miniatures from where it had landed at his feet. A Horde crest, carved by a skilled Orgrimmar troll craftsman, painted with dyes imported from Silvermoon.
"I will send word to Dezco. Garrosh will be released, and brought here," he said, holding up the token for Vol'jin and Lor'themar to see, before tucking it away into a pouch at his waist. "Remember our vow. Everything we do, we do for the Horde."
"May the ancestors forgive us."