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The Undead Forsaken or simply the Forsaken and Undead are a race and a faction of intelligent undead who broke away from the Scourge and took control of much of the Kingdom of Lordaeron, destroyed during the Third War by the Death Knight Arthas. The Forsaken are led by their Banshee Queen, Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the former Ranger-General of Quel'Thalas. Their capital is the Undercity, in the royal catacombs beneath the ruins of the capital city of Lordaeron.
While comprised vastly of undead humans, the Forsaken are a diverse faction that includes several different races at their biological core. However, they have all assumed their racial identity as "Forsaken," due to their shared goals and loyalties.
When the Lich King’s grasp on his vast armies faltered after the Third War, a contingent of undead broke free of their master’s iron will. Although this freedom seemed to be a blessing at first, these former humans were soon tormented by memories of the unspeakable horrors that they had committed as mindless Scourge agents. Those who did not descend into madness were faced with a chilling realization: the entirety of Azeroth sought their destruction.
In their darkest hour, the renegade undead was rallied together by the former ranger-general of Quel'Thalas, Sylvanas Windrunner. Defeated during an attack on her kingdom and transformed into a powerful Scourge banshee, Sylvanas had also regained her freedom from the Lich King. Under their new queen's guidance, the independent undead – known as Forsaken – established the Undercity beneath the ruins of Lordaeron’s capital. While some Forsaken feared Sylvanas, others valued the security she provided. Many of the free-willed undead, however, found a purpose to their cursed existence through the banshee queen's burning desire to destroy the Lich King.
Despite not being affiliated with the Scourge, the Forsaken came under threat from humans who were dedicated to eradicating all undead. As a means to further her own goals and protect her budding nation, Sylvanas sent emissaries to various factions in search of allies. The kind-hearted Tauren of Thunder Bluff proved to be the most promising contact. Specifically, Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem saw the potential for redemption in Sylvanas' people, even though he was fully aware of the Forsaken's sinister nature. Thus, the Tauren convinced Warchief Thrall, despite his misgivings, to forge an alliance of convenience between the Forsaken and the Horde. In the end, the Forsaken's chances of victory against the Lich King were bolstered, while the Horde gained an invaluable foothold in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Third War and Aftermath
During the Third War, the once-glorious capital of Lordaeron, Capital City, was decimated by a Scourge army under the command of Prince Arthas Menethil. Death offered no escape for the scores of humans killed during the Lich King's campaign to scour the living from Lordaeron. Instead, the kingdom’s fallen were risen into undeath as Scourge minions and forced to wage an unholy war against everything and everyone that they once held dear.
In the wake of Illidan's failed attempt to melt the icy continent of Northrend, the powerful energies possessed by the Lich King inside his Frozen Throne slowly began to decay. Inexorably this resulted in a partial loss of control of the more distant Scourge forces. The result was that many undead under the Lich King's mental domination had their conscious will restored. Their spirits and memories were somehow returned to their undead bodies. Even the Lich King's champion, Arthas, began to weaken as the Lich King's power waned. Arthas the death knight and his lieutenant Kel'Thuzad the lich were suddenly thrust into an undead civil war. Still fanatically loyal to the Lich King, Arthas heeded the call of his master and returned to Northrend as Illidan launched his second attempt to destroy the Lich King directly. Arthas left Kel'Thuzad in command of his forces when he departed.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner rallied half of the standing undead forces in Lordaeron and staged a coup for control over the undead empire. With their leader's sharp cunning and the assistance of their banshees, the undead forcibly coerced a number of lingering forces in Lordaeron to fighting their battles with them; such as gnolls, bandits, and ogres. First, the dreadlord Varimathras fell to the Dark Lady and swiftly sold his loyalty to Lady Sylvanas in return for sparing him. With Varimathras' assistance, the undead forces successfully deposed the leadership of Detheroc and his army, allying with the considerable forces of the mind-controlled Grand Marshal Garithos in order to free Lordaeron from the control of the remaining dreadlord, Balnazzar. Garithos, though despising non-humans, joined forces with the undead and their inhuman allies to this end. Lady Sylvanas promised to leave Lordaeron to his jurisdiction after the battle was won, despite herself never having any intention to respect their pact, and together with their new allies, the undead marched to end Balnazzar.
With their combined forces, the undead and the Alliance resistance dismantled the final bastion of the dreadlords' power in Lordaeron, and Varimathras personally destroyed his nathrezim brother. No sooner had Garithos demanded that the Forsaken leave the land that Sylvanas promised him when she turned on him and executed the human leader; claiming the ruins of Lordaeron for the free-willed undead instead.
With her immediate enemies dealt with and the ruins of Lordaeron firmly in her hands, Lady Sylvanas proclaimed her faction of self-aware undead as the "Forsaken," and resolved to slaughter anyone would dare stand in the way of their dominion.
Following this, Queen Sylvanas and the Forsaken claimed the Undercity as their own and completed the winding network of catacombs and crypts that the Scourge had begun constructing. Today, rivers of poisonous sludge flow through all avenues of the vast Undercity. The toxic fumes and fetid odors permeating every corner of the stronghold have made it a place almost unbearable for the living members of the Horde. Yet for Sylvanas and her cursed followers, the Undercity has become a much-needed refuge in a world where her kind is still feared and hunted.
While the Forsaken had claimed a base of power, their hold on Lordaeron was tenuous at best. To this end, the Dark Lady looked to finding allies.
Alliance with the Horde
Sylvanas worked to ensure that the damned such as herself would have a home free from threats by the living. As a means to further her own goals and protect her budding nation, Sylvanas sent emissaries to various factions in search of allies. The kind-hearted Tauren of Thunder Bluff proved to be the most promising contact. Specifically, Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem saw the potential for redemption in Sylvanas’ people, even though he was fully aware of the Forsaken’s sinister nature. Thus, the tauren convinced Warchief Thrall, despite his misgivings, to forge an alliance of convenience between the Forsaken and the Horde. In the end, the Forsaken’s chances of victory against the Lich King were bolstered, while the Horde gained an invaluable foothold in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Magatha Grimtotem claimed she merely wanted to aid the Forsaken in their quest to find a path back to being human. The Darkspear Trolls are not particularly fond of the Forsaken because of their shaman beliefs, but tolerate them and have learned to trust them in times of war.
World of Warcraft
As the primary Horde force in the Eastern Kingdoms, the Forsaken went about dealing with a number of their surrounding enemies. New free-willed undead, freed by Lady Sylvanas, was inducted into the Forsaken's ranks and assisted their new (and old) people in the tasks set before them within Tirisfal Glades. For years this blighted area has been home to Queen Sylvanas and her Forsaken, as well as the remaining vestiges of the Scarlet Crusade. Their zealots bent on wiping out any and all undead from Azeroth regardless of affiliation, have long been a thorn in the Forsaken's side. Recently, the Argent Dawn has offered assistance to Sylvanas' people against the Crusaders' constant harassment in eastern Tirisfal Glades. In addition, the Forsaken have begun a fresh march on their enemy's stronghold – the Scarlet Monastery – in an effort to finally secure their homeland from external threats.
Concurrent with securing the immediate regions pertaining to Lordaeron, the Forsaken turned their attention to numerous conflicts neighboring their kingdom. The humans and dwarves of the Alliance, the perennial enemy of their Horde allies, remained at large on the continent. The Forsaken launched several offenses against their new enemies, resulting in the conflict for resources in Arathi (which the Defilers were tasked with securing) and a number of conflicts around Hillsbrad Foothills, Alterac Mountains and the Plaguelands arose. Furthermore, the Forsaken began research into a certain form of plague that could be used against the Scourge (and ostensibly, the living). The Royal Apothecary Society rose to meet this goal and has been conducting a number of low-key experiments ever since.
Nathanos Blightcaller, the Champion of the Forsaken, was raised by Lady Sylvanas herself after his death at the hands of the Scourge. After they had proved themselves to the queen, the Blightcaller tasked Forsaken members with killing the beast that had taken his life, retrieving a document pertaining to both his and the banshee queen's time as living comrades from a lodge of exiled elves, and assaulting the Scarlet Crusade's primary power-base in Lordaeron.
The Burning Crusade
The Blood Elves of Quel'Thalas, newly invigorated by the returned Magisters and the new powers at their disposal, went about reclaiming and rebuilding their ancient capital and expelling the Scourge from their lands. Lady Sylvanas, who had lost no love for her homeland even in death, offered numerous methods of support to her former people and was a strong supporter of their acceptance into the Horde. Together with the Sin'dorei, a regiment of Forsaken troops assisted their elven allies in reclaiming much of the Ghostlands, including the town of Tranquillien. The Forsaken also assisted the Blood Knights in forging a stone of great power to wield against the Scourge; their intimate knowledge of the Lich King's grasp proving an essential component in its creation.
The Forsaken continued their research into their progressing plague in Outland, where numerous apothecaries such as Apothecary Azethen took and experimented with a variety of new ingredients for Forsaken uses.
During the Scourge Invasion, the Forsaken dealt with curing the plague while the Church of the Holy Light pledged itself to destroy the Scourge's necropolises.
War against the Lich King
As the Lich King began to make his presence known to the inhabitants of Azeroth, the Forsaken came ever closer to achieving their vengeance upon the despoiler of Lordaeron. The Forsaken were one of the major powers in the war against the Lich King.
Antoine Brack, a member of the Argent Dawn and a champion of the Forsaken, was captured by the death knights of Acherus of the Scourge.
Lady Sylvanas moved to and from the frozen wastes of Northrend and oversaw the construction of a proper Forsaken town within the region of Howling Fjord. One of the new Forsaken camps in Northrend is New Agamand, where most of the Royal Apothecary Society's members took up residence to finish perfecting the plague to unleash upon the Lich King. Lady Sylvanas had been methodically and patiently overseeing the creation of this contagion for several years now, and it seemed the time, at last, had come to test it.
During the Lich King's initial attack on the cities of the Horde and Alliance, a renowned apothecary named Grand Apothecary Putress set up camp in Shattrath to counter the Lich King's own spreading plague. After numerous stages of experimentation, Putress succeeded in forming a counter-agent and curbing the spread of the plague of undeath. For his efforts, he gained favor within the Forsaken's ranks, and Sylvanas dispensed him to assist the Horde advance into Northrend. Both Sylvanas and Putress were present during the Scourge attack on Orgrimmar, and the Dark Lady assisted Thrall, Garrosh Hellscream, High Overlord Saurfang and several adventurers in fighting the invaders off. Nevertheless, the attack convinced Warchief Thrall to commit to a Northrend campaign, much to Sylvanas' approval.
The Forsaken were one of the major superpowers to advance on Northrend. While the main Horde force attacked and conquered regions of Borean Tundra, the Forsaken fleet (comprised of customized Lordaeron ships dredged up from the ocean) laid siege to Howling Fjord. Coming under the banner of the Hand of Vengeance, the Forsaken Army tasked with delivering apt revenge against Arthas, the queen's navy swiftly crushed the Alliance Northwatch fleet and cornered them on the shores of the Fjord. No sooner had the Forsaken began their assault, however, had the Lich King turned his gaze back to his former servants: Prince Valanar offered the Forsaken commander High Executor Anselm the chance to renounce his fealty to Queen Sylvanas and return to the Scourge's embrace. However, Anselm swiftly disposed of the San'layn prince and had adventurers slay him for his insolence in making mock of the queen and killing his men.
The Hand of Vengeance also waged a war against the Vrykul, and the Royal Apothecary Society's field-testing plaguebringers drenched a number with a potent strain of blight in order to test its final stages of production.
Their efforts would come to a head during the events of Dragonblight, where the Forsaken stationed at Venomspite and Agmar's Hammer perfected the final strains of the plague brought over from New Agamand. The Forsaken also came into conflict with their old enemy the Scarlet Crusade, now dissolved and reformed into the Scarlet Onslaught.
However, just as the hour of the Forsaken was to approach, tragedy struck. During the battle for Angrathar the Wrathgate, Grand Apothecary Putress and renegade plaguebringers made their appearance. After questioning the newly-arrived Lich King as to whether he thought the Forsaken had "forgotten" or "forgiven" him for what he had done, Putress drenched the battlefield in a massive strain of blight, causing huge losses to the collaboration of Horde and Alliance forces present. The blight was so powerful, in fact, that Arthas himself was brought to his knees. The Lich King fled back to Icecrown, and Putress was left to cackle triumphantly at the destruction wrought on by the plague.
Putress' actions were outside the orders of the Forsaken and, concurrently with the Wrathgate attack, Varimathras had usurped control of the Undercity. Sylvanas barely escaped with her life and her loyalists, and the Forsaken were taken in by Thrall while they planned their next move. In a conversation with Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall and Sylvanas reveal that Putress had allied with the treacherous dreadlord in order to depose the Dark Lady's rule. Despite this, Jaina warns them that King Varian Wrynn nonetheless holds them responsible, and is considering leading an army into the Undercity in order to reclaim Lordaeron for the Alliance. Unwilling to abandon the Undercity to the traitors, Sylvanas, Thrall, and Vol'jin lead a Horde counterattack in order to remove Varimathras from power and restore the Undercity to the Forsaken. After fighting their way through a Burning Legion-controlled Undercity, the Banshee Queen and the Warchief succeed in killing Varimathras and retaking the Royal Quarter. As they prepare to strike at Putress, however, King Varian enters and declares his intention to end it all there. Before the battle can increase in intensity, Jaina swiftly teleports the Alliance forces out of the Undercity, resulting in a successful Horde restoration.
Though the Undercity had been restored to its rightful masters, the repercussions of the Wrathgate have hounded the Forsaken relentlessly. Their abomination guardians were either removed or relegated to the sewers, and Kor'kron overseers were deployed to watch over the Forsaken from that point forward. Thrall's trust for the Forsaken seems to have become thinner than ever, and their credibility in the eyes of the wider Horde has also suffered.
With the Undercity securely back in Horde hands, Lady Sylvanas personally made her way into Northrend in order to claim vengeance upon Arthas. Together with her dark rangers, the Banshee Queen infiltrated Icecrown Citadel and fought her way through to the Halls of Reflection, where she came face-to-face with the blade that took her life. After Arthas successfully fought her off, however, Sylvanas was forced to face her inability to defeat her greatest foe alone.
With the combined efforts of the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade, the Lich King finally fell. However, with his death, a void was left - while Sylvanas and the Forsaken had existed solely to claim their vengeance, the Dark Lady could only ponder what was left for them.
As it happens, the Forsaken - having successfully partaken in the fall of the Lich King - have turned their attention to other pursuits. For one: the complete conquest of Lordaeron. Now, along with being mistrusted by her own allies, Sylvanas recognizes that many of Azeroth’s other inhabitants still see her people as a threat, even after the Lich King’s defeat. As their numbers dwindle by the day, the Forsaken have begun fortifying their holdings around the Undercity, working to prove their loyalty to the Horde’s cause even as they ready themselves for any future attacks.
After the Lich King's death, a number of the more intelligent former Scourge members were accepted into the Forsaken's ranks by Queen Sylvanas. Some of them, the Val'kyr, have brought with them a new age for the Forsaken: the ability to "procreate" via their necromantic abilities, bolstering their numbers. The second generation Forsaken are individuals who were raised into undeath by these Val'kyr.
The risen dead of the new Forsaken generation is given a choice of what to do after they are reborn. Some of them, such as Valdred Moray, accept their fate and seem keen to make themselves useful and serve the Forsaken in death. The resurrected Prince Galen Trollbane seemed resigned to the fate that befell him and while not particularly enthusiastic about killing his former allies, he personally gave the quests to slay them for the good of the Dark Lady.
On the other hand, others do not react so positively. Lilian Voss reacts in horror to what she had become, and Marshal Redpath, not happy with his fate, attacks Deathknell after the transition. Some of the new Forsaken simply kill themselves on the spot. Dumass is perhaps the most extreme case of how the process can strip away rational thought and intelligence.
After the Cataclysm, the Forsaken launched an offensive against Gilneas, after being ordered by Garrosh Hellscream to do so. The Forsaken appear to be taking on a more offensive stance regarding the war with the Alliance, and with their new ability to bolster their ranks, their stranglehold on Lordaeron has become tighter than ever. The Forsaken have also begun to fortify their own territories, stepping up from their previous preferences of run down human-esque buildings in favor of their own architecture, seen briefly in Northrend.
Warlords of Draenor
Forsaken activity on Draenor is in Warspear and Horde Garrison, alongside other members of the Horde. Forsaken "ambassador" is Captain Fennick, and he can change orcish garrison guards to Frostwall Deathguards.
Benjamin Gibb ventured into Spires of Arak as Sylvanas's agent. He explored Admiral Taylor's Garrison and later joined the Garrison Commander as a follower.
With the beginning of the Burning Legion's third invasion on Azeroth, the dying Warchief Vol'jin chose Sylvanas as the new Warchief of the Horde. During the invasion, various Forsaken joined the class orders.
Battle for Azeroth
During the Battle for Lordaeron, in order to keep Undercity out of Alliance hands, Sylvanas had it plagued and uninhabitable, stretching to the North Coast. The Forsaken surviving population is currently taking refuge in Orgrimmar.