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Sylvanas' Motivation and Parallels to Arthas in the BFA Pre-Patch
08.08.2018 в 00:05
Sylvanas' motivations and character development in the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch have been a source of controversy. While she's always been cold and calculating, faction conflict took a backseat in Legion but now she appears to be relishing cruelty more blatantly than before.
In this article, we're highlighting her motivation for the attack on Teldrassil, hints at another motive, and analyze all the strong parallels to Arthas.
Disclaimer: as there is speculation in the post, you may not agree with what we say! There are also spoilers for upcoming content.
Motivation for Teldrassil
A Good War
offered an in-depth explanation as to why Sylvanas wages war on Teldrassil. If you want the full plot of the novellas, you can
read them online
or check out our
detailed summary with Nobbel87
Here are some of the important moments below, and you can read the full novella
Anger flooded Saurfang’s mind. He knew he wasn’t hiding it well, but he didn’t care. “Are you so eager for another war? After all we’ve seen?” He slapped the stone figures off the table, and they clattered around the war room. His lips pulled back, baring tusks and teeth. It would take a thousand battles—no, a thousand victories—to even conceive of a total Horde triumph over the Alliance. The cost would be devastating. And what would the reward be? To spill some Alliance blood and burn some cities? Oh, how the Horde would celebrate as they picked through the ashes of the homes and loved ones they would lose in the fighting. “You are not Garrosh Hellscream. Why do you want to throw the Horde into the meat grinder again?”
Sylvanas’s eyes did not waver, even in the face of his rage. “If I dedicated myself to peace with the Alliance, would it last a year?”
“Yes,” Saurfang said curtly.
“How about two years? Five? Ten? Fifty?”
Saurfang felt the trap closing in on him, and he did not like it. “We fought side‐by‐side against the Burning Legion. That creates bonds that are not easily broken.”
“Time breaks every bond.” Sylvanas leaned across the table. Her words flew like arrows. “What do you believe? Will peace last five years or fifty?”
He leaned forward, too, his face inches away from hers. Neither blinked. “What I believe doesn’t matter, Warchief. What do you believe?”
“I believe the exiles of Gilneas will never forgive the Horde for driving them away. I believe the living humans of Lordaeron think it is blasphemy that my people still hold their city. I believe the ancient divide between our allies in Silvermoon and their kin in Darnassus is not easily mended.” There was a smile on Sylvanas’s face. It was not a pleasant one.
“I believe the Darkspear tribe hasn’t forgotten who drove them from their islands,” she continued. “I believe every orc your age remembers being imprisoned for years in filthy camps, wallowing in despair and surviving on human scraps. I believe every human remembers the tales of the terrible Horde that caused so much destruction in its first invasion, and I believe they blame every orc for that, no matter what your people have done to redeem yourselves. And I remember very well that I and my first Forsaken were once loyal Alliance citizens. We died for that banner, and our reward was to be hunted as vermin. I believe that there will be no permanent peace with the Alliance—not unless we win it on the battlefield on our terms. And believing that, answer this, Saurfang: what use is delaying the inevitable?”
“The boy in Stormwind will not start a war tomorrow,” Saurfang said.
Her eyebrows lowered. “With Genn Greymane in his ear? We will see.”
That was a concern, Saurfang had to concede. In the thick of the fighting against the Burning Legion, Greymane had launched a mission to kill Sylvanas. It had gotten some of Stormwind’s few remaining airships destroyed.
There were whispers that Greymane had ordered the attack without Anduin’s permission, but as far as Saurfang knew, Greymane had not been punished. The implications of that were troubling, and every possible explanation led to same conclusion: the old worgen would always drive the Alliance toward war against the Horde.
Sylvanas’s eyes glittered. “And the boy is becoming a man. What if that man decides that he has no choice but to launch a war on us?”
She pointed at the map. There was a large marking in Silithus, the place where the Dark Titan’s blade had pierced the world. “No matter what I do, that will change the balance of power. Azerite sightings are coming in from across the world, Saurfang. We still do not know its full potential, nor does the Alliance. We only know that it will create a new generation of warfare. What will war look like in twenty years? In a hundred?”
Saurfang’s voice had dropped to a low growl. “A hundred years of peace is a worthy goal.” But as soon as the words left his mouth, he wanted to take them back. He knew what Sylvanas would say.
And he would agree with it.
The warchief did not disappoint. “If a hundred years of peace ends with a war that annihilates both sides, it was not a worthy goal. It was a coward’s bargain, trading the future for temporary comfort. The Horde’s children, and their children’s children, will curse our memories as they burn.” Her voice softened, but only slightly. “If life had any mercy at all, you and I would exist in peace for the rest of our days. We both have seen enough of war, but neither of us has seen the last of it.”
On that, you and I agree. “Do you have your mind made up, Warchief? Are you driving us to war? Despite the cost?”
“I see an opportunity. I need a plan to achieve it,” Sylvanas said.
There are several hints at larger forces and stories at play in
A Good War
Nathanos finally spoke up. “And it will give you a chance to hunt Malfurion alone, Warchief.”
The look in Sylvanas’ eyes gave Saurfang pause. She was more annoyed than he would have expected. If the Horde managed to kill both Tyrande and Malfurion, yes, it would be a great victory that would weaken the Alliance, but the objective was supposed to be conquering the World Tree. That wedge would split the Alliance no matter who ruled the night elves.
Saurfang considered, not for the first time, that Sylvanas wasn’t telling him everything.
During the battle of Darkshore, Sylvanas again notes:
Perhaps he would find a glorious death on the battlefield before he ever had to face a choice that would destroy him.
Or maybe the old orc will surprise me, she thought. Maybe he will face the world as it is and choose to fight onwards at my side. If he doesn’t well…That can wait.
As Sylvanas plans to invade Teldrassil, annoyed by Saurfang’s decision to spare Malfurion, she hints at her true motives:
Elune had intervened. Perhaps she had even stayed Saurfang’s killing blow. And she wouldn’t be the only force beyond the Alliance to oppose Sylvanas’ true objective.
Sylvanas’s anger grew cold.
She had known this would happen. It had simply come sooner than expected. That was all.
Who could that force be? Perhaps the Void, who strongly urged Alleria to kill Sylvanas in "
This one is dangerous, she is a threat and must be ended. Beware this one, she seeks the death of all things...all possibilities. End her threat. Murder her. Murder her, save yourself, and murder her. Save the world and murder her.
She is a violation, she serves the true enemy. Kill her now, kill her, kill her now. Remove her from this world and take from her what you need. Now. Now. Now,
Parallels to Arthas
Sylvanas throughout the pre-patch has closely paralleled Arthas in her actions and visuals. Here are some of the similarities:
, Delaryn slows down the Horde invasion, similar to Ranger-General Sylvanas fighting Arthas. Sylvanas is the one to have the final shot on Delaryn, and similar to Arthas, is exceedingly cruel as she's dying. Denied a quick death, Delaryn is forced to watch Teldrassil burn, her head turned by Sylvanas. Delaryn's final words to Sylvanas also trigger a nerve, enraging Sylvanas, which is similar to Arthas being extremely angered by Sylvanas.
cinematic includes visual similarites to Ranger-General Sylvanas and Delaryn--they both wear hooded armor with breastplates of a similar style. (Edit - in-game, Delaryn's armor looks a bit different, and more clearly green.) In the novellas, Sylvanas also realizes their similarities:
She let them talk. Before her was an elf who was dying for her people. She rather reminded Sylvanas of herself.
The destruction of the lush Quel'Thalas is paralleled in the destruction of Teldrassil. The cineamtic takes pains to show how beautiful the elven lands are, with unnaturally-golden tulips. Sylvanas falls protecting her city, and the camera pans back to show Arthas advancing on it, and Delaryn helplessly watches Teldrassil burn. In both assaults, massive amounts of life were lost, and the novellas go so far as to call it genocide.
In the Battle for Lordaeron, Sylvanas throws blight onto the battlefield, killing Alliance and Horde soldiers alike, only to raise them as undead. This is a turning point for Saurfang, who is disgusted by her tactics and lack of honor. In the iconic Icecrown quest
, we witness Arthas' ability as the Lich King to raise fallen soldiers from the battlefield as the Scourge.
Saurfang: I had to see it for myself. Was this your plan all along? Is this how you meant to achieve victory? This...honorless travesty?
Sylvanas: Honor means nothing to a corpse, Saurfang. You have the luxury of underestimating death, but it is something with which I am intimately familiar. Maybe you don't care if your people die so long as it is honorable. But to me, this Horde is worth saving. Anyone who disagrees does not deserve to stand among us. So die your warrior's death, High Overlord Saurfang. It means little to me. Perhaps I will raise your broken body to serve me once more. Or perhaps you will have a chance to say hello to your son.
Anduin bursting into the Lordaeron Throne Room has visual parallels to Arthas entering the room to kill his father. He looks up at the gates of Lordaeron, and then the camera pans downwards as he passes through the heavy doors. Once he enters the Throne Room, the camera focuses on a close up of Anduin's feet, pulling back and then upwards to reveal Anduin trailed by his party. Sylvanas of course changes the narrative, lounging in the throne room chair and ruthlessly mocking Anduin, instead of King Terenas suspecting nothing.
pointed out that the destruction of Tirisfal Glades resembles the Dead Scar in Eversong Woods.
With these blatant parallels to Arthas, where could Sylvanas' story go next?
Ultimate Goal: Undeath for All
If Sylvanas has an ulterior motive behind attacking the Alliance, perhaps she's hoping to eventually raise everyone as a loyal undead subject. Use the Horde to subdue the Alliance, and then raise everyone as Undead. It's hard to imagine the Horde, especially with several leaders so upset at Sylvanas, remaining peacefully united with her even with the Alliance out of the way. She also doesn't seem particularly interested in Horde customs, appearing bored and frustrated at points during
Before the Storm
. As she's recreating several iconic Lich King moments so far, but giving them her personal twist, perhaps she could end up trying to claim the Lich King's throne for herself--after all, she's already taken control of his Val'kyr.
Sylvanas may have been hoping to end the Alliance battle right at the Siege of Lordaeron, killing most faction leaders at once. The Alliance seemed to be on the brink of defeat until Jaina showed up in her flying ship, and once inside the Throne Room, the Alliance would have died if Jaina had not ported them out. At the end of the cinematic, there's a moment of surprise where Sylvanas looks down at the blight, and then up at the flying ship as if she didn't expect them to survive.
Throughout the pre-patch, Sylvanas is irked by the living. She sarcastically refers to the living when threatening Baine in the Siege of Lordaeron, threatens to raise Saurfang as a corpse and is visibly upset when Delaryn calls her out as an enemy of the living. In the
short, we can see how she feels that being a hero as a Ranger-General did nothing--the people she tried to save died, the kingdom fell, and she was later rejected by most when reaching out for assistance as the newly-formed Forsaken. In "Three Sisters," we also learn that she originally planned to kill her sisters, and while she lets them go, she proclaims that they will eventually serve her, serve Undeath. Sylvanas seems to feel more passionately about Undeath than the Horde, and it could be that Undeath and snuffing out Live is her ultimate mission, not taking over Teldrassil and Stormwind
Saurfang as Enemy
A Good War
, Sylvanas worried that Saurfang could become a serious enemy of hers if he lost his sense of Honor or the Horde.
Honor was all Saurfang had left. Honor and the Horde. She did not know what he would do if either were taken from him.
He would become my enemy, a terrible one.
By the end of the Battle for Lordaeron, Saurfang is in custody of the Alliance and has rejected Sylvanas' sense of honor, sickened when he hears her praise and talk of honor. Later in the intro Horde questline, Saurfang refuses to leave his prison cell, instead remaining in the custody of the Alliance.
High Overlord Saurfang: You think you are here to take me back to Orgrimmar. Back to the Warchief. You are mistaken.
High Overlord Saurfang: I have stopped counting the days I have sat in this cell. But it matters not in the end.
High Overlord Saurfang: After all she has done, I will never return to the Horde.
High Overlord Saurfang: Make sure you know the difference between loyalty and honor.
High Overlord Saurfang: And pray you never have to choose.
High Overlord Saurfang: We both know you are not here for me. Those you seek are down the hall.
First Arcanist: I see... If you are certain, High Overlord.
High Overlord Saurfang: I am. Lok’tar.
Il'gynoth's quotes can be applied to many characters, which is part of the fun, so here's a possible reading for Sylvanas for "At the hour of her third death, she will usher in our coming." Sylvanas has had two deaths so far in her Undead form, brought back to life by the Val'kyr.
For her first death, described in
"Edge of Night,"
Sylvanas flings herself off Icecrown Citadel after the death of Arthas. She's not granted a quick death but instead finds herself in a realm of anguish. Approached by the val'kyr who want to avoid being bound to the new Lich King, she rejoins the living and makes a pact with the remaining val'kyr.
In Cataclysm, Sylvanas and the Forsaken clash with Gilneas, starting a long bitter rivalry with Genn Graymane. She is shot and killed by Lord Godfrey, only to be resurrected by three of her Val'kyr in
Стереть в порошок
. Through her pact with the Val'kyr, we also learn that she can raise humans as undead. She's now down to her last remaining Val'kyr and tries to bind more to her in
, ultimately unsuccessful.
Perhaps this quote means that if Sylvanas dies one more time, she cannot be resurrected again and will fail in her mission of Undeath, which is a threat to the Void.
Lich King Story
Many players are confused by the actions of Sylvanas, knowing her to be calculating, but not outwardly happy about tormenting others--plus she didn't meddle too much in faction conflict in Legion. Was that intended? Did she want the Burning Legion out of the way before enacting her master plan?
There are hints that the Lich King's story will continue in Battle for Azeroth.
, daughter of Bolvar Fordragon, is a major character in Kul Tiras questing.
has received visual updates. Calia Menethil, whose presence was so upsetting to Sylvanas in
Before the Storm
, is back as a Human/Forsaken hybrid imbued by the Light. If Sylvanas tries to make a move to increase her power and follow Arthas' path even further, we expect these details to play a role.
Burning Legion vs the Scourge
There are many sections of
Chronicle: Volume III
talking about the hatred between the Burning Legion and the Scourge--seems like a force Sylvanas would definitely want out of the way, and attacking the Alliance in full force would have hampered efforts.
En route to Dalaran, Kel'Thuzad confided in Arthas Menethil and revealed some of the Lich King's plan to rebel against the Legion. He told the death knight that the demons were not to be trusted. They viewed the Scourge as disposable weapons, something to cast away once Azeroth was in the Legion's hands. Kel'Thuzad did not tell Arthas when this rebellion against the demons might occur or how it would unfold, but he warned him to be ready for it.
And Arthas would be. Even before Kel'Thuzad's revelation, he had distrusted the dreadlords. The demons were always following him, always watching him. He found their presence insufferable, and he looked forward to striking them down as he had done to Mal'Ganis.
Arthas convinces Illidan to claim the Skull of Gul'dan to strike a blow against the Legion:
On the Lich King's orders, Arthas Menethil had joined the Legion's invasion of Kalimdor--not to help the demons but to secretly hamper their efforts. The death knight worked from the shadows, always careful not to alert the demons of his intent. He subtly influenced the Scourge, sometimes causing the undead to disobey their Legion masters and run amok.
If Arthas could strike down Tichondrius and destroy the Skull of Gul'dan, it would stop the spread of fel magic and deal a significant blow to the Legion's war effort. Yet slaying the dreadlod was easier said than done. Arthas himself could not destroy Tichondrius without alerting Archimonde to the Lich King's treachery. But what if someone else did the killing for him?
The Lich King them breaks free of the Burning Legion:
The Lich King had seen the defeat at Mount Hyjal as an opportunity to break free of the Legion, and he wasted no time. He rallied Arthas Menethil, Kel'Thuzad, and the rest of the Scourge in Lordaeron. With his forces amassed and completely under his control, he sent them against his remaining dreadlord handlers: Balnazzar, Varimathras, and Detheroc.
The dreadlords stood little chance against the seething mass of undead. The demons fled into the Plaguelands and used theri dark magics to shroud themselves from sight.
Now the Legion could not oppose the Lich King. The Scourge was his, and his alone.
As the Burning Legion and Scourge continue to battle, Illidan faces off against the Lich King, who is at the brink of defeat until interference from the Night Elf and Blood Elf armies. However, Illidan wounded the Lich King enough to let some undead slip from his grasp, regaining free will, like Sylvanas. With Illidan such a threat to the Scourge, it makes sense why Sylvanas would want him out of the way, serving as Sargeras' eternal jailer, if she's trying anything more drastic with Undeath.
Lich King vs Void
In the "Wrath of the Lich King" chapter in
, we learn that the Lich King views undeath as an ideal state:
A world ruled by the undead would have no more injustice, no more wars, no more mortal flaws. Perhaps most importantly to the Lich King, he believed his Scourge would be far more capable of defending Azeroth against the threats that would try to conquer it. He had observed the awakening of C'Thun and the Burning Legion's attempts to launch other attacks on Azeroth. Neither the demons nor the powers of the Void would rest until they controlled the world. A fractured world, constantly beset by skirmishes between the Alliance and the Horde, simply would not be prepared for another incursion.
The Lich King soon had his strategy in place. He had seen visions of destiny and had plotted all the possible outcomes of his plans. It would not be enough to conquer the world through sheer force. Many others had tried that and failed. To control Azeroth, the Lich King would enslave the strongest creatures within it, the great champions who had arisen within the Alliance and the Horde.
Once they were under his will, the rest of the world would fall int a war of attrition. But the Lich King first needed to lure these champions into his clutches.
There are definite parallels here to Sylvanas' philosophy. She doesn't want any more wars between the Alliance and the Horde and is fueled with rage at the injustice she faced at the hands of Arthas, tortured for eternity instead of being recognized as a hero. By starting a faction war, she's luring the Alliance leaders into her trap, and similar to Arthas, she hopes that after conquering a few key places, she'll win in a war of attrition. She even lures important Alliance leaders into the Throne Room, and one could argue that as she was setting up the blight before the battle, she didn't know Jaina would be present to save the day.
With the Burning Legion out of the way, it makes sense that the Void is a remaining force opposed to Undeath and the actions of Sylvanas. And with how much Sylvanas is following the footsteps of Arthas, remaining unsatisfied by his death in Wrath, one could imagine she wants to claim his legacy for his own, uniting the world in Undeath as he failed to do.
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