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The Banshee Queen
The Dark Lady
Lireesa Windrunner† Mother
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, also referred to as "the Dark Lady" and "the Banshee Queen", is the Warchief of the Horde and supreme ruler of the Forsaken, one of the most powerful factions of undead on Azeroth. In life, Sylvanas was the Ranger-General of Silvermoon, whose leadership acumen and martial prowess were without equal. During the Third War, she bravely defended Quel'Thalas from a Scourge invasion led by the death knight Arthas Menethil. Ultimately, however, Sylvanas fell in battle. Rather than honor the ranger-general with a quick death, Arthas ripped out her soul and transformed it into a banshee: a cunning and vengeful agent of the Lich King empowered by hate.
When the Lich King's control over his minions weakened, Sylvanas broke away from her tyrannical master's control and reclaimed her body. Vowing to avenge her death, Sylvanas gathered other renegade undead and set out to wage war against the Scourge. Thus it was that the Forsaken came to be, with Sylvanas as their queen. Under Sylvanas' command, the Forsaken joined the Horde and later helped bring about the Lich King's fall in the frozen wastes of Northrend. She seeks a higher purpose for a people who have already died once.
Yet many challenges still lay ahead for Sylvanas. After an uprising within her ranks that killed other members of the Horde, the banshee queen is now mistrusted by many of her allies. Most recently, Sylvanas began fortifying her territory within the Tirisfal Glades in order to establish a proper kingdom for her followers. While Sylvanas maintains that her loyalty to the Horde is undiminished, some of the faction's members are uncertain about her true intentions.
After the fall of the Lich King, Sylvanas came to the shocking realization that she, like Arthas before her, was damned to an eternity of darkness and torture in the afterlife. After entering into a pact with the Val'kyr, Sylvanas was able to regain her place in the realm of the living for as long as her Val'kyr survive. Knowing the dark fate that will inevitably befall her, Sylvanas considers her people a bulwark against the horrifying darkness that awaits her in the end. Following this, Sylvanas has launched an aggressive attack into the regions of Lordaeron and the greater Eastern Kingdoms not directly under her control, in an attempt to conquer the continent and secure it for the Forsaken.
After being mortally wounded during the battle for the Broken Shore, Warchief Vol'jin declared Sylvanas as his successor with his dying breath, leaving her to lead the Horde against the invading forces of the Burning Legion. Following the Legion's defeat, Sylvanas now leads the Horde against the Alliance in a war that spans all of Azeroth.
Ranger-General of Silvermoon
Sylvanas was a member of the prominent Windrunner family of the high elves. Sylvanas was the middle sister between the oldest sister Alleria, and the youngest sister Vereesa. She also had a brother named Lirath. Her family lived at Windrunner Spire in the tranquil forests of Quel'Thalas. Sylvanas joined the rangers and eventually became their leader, rising to the rank of Ranger-General of Silvermoon, the military leader of all high elven forces.
Prior to the Second War, Sylvanas earned a reputation as a fearless and cunning ranger while battling the forest trolls of the Amani Empire. Sometime before the Second War, Sylvanas admitted the highly talented human ranger Nathanos Marris into the ranks of the Farstriders. This decision surprised many of her compatriots, such as Halduron Brightwing, Lor'themar Theron and Renthar Hawkspear. Some of Sylvanas' comrades took note of the inordinate amount of pride Sylvanas took in her human disciple, and opposed the notion of allowing a human to train with the elven rangers. Sylvanas frequently visited Nathanos at his home at the Marris Stead, officially to hear reports, but rumor spread throughout the Farstriders that she was involved in a romantic relationship with her human pupil. Sylvanas visited Nathanos at the Marris Stead shortly before the onset of the Second War. She spoke to him of a potential invasion of Quel'Thalas from the Horde, and met Nathanos' young cousin, Stephon Marris. Sylvanas asked the boy if he wanted to be a ranger when he grew up, but he replied that he wanted to be a knight. Sylvanas gave him a gold coin and told him to keep it until he was old enough to buy his first sword. Before leaving, Sylvanas spent the night at the stead.
Even the Quel'dorei prince Kael'thas Sunstrider took an issue with Nathanos and sent a letter to Quel'Thalas demanding Sylvanas dismiss the human from the ranger corps. Despite this opposition, however, Sylvanas persisted, and her response was simply that Nathanos would be a loyal ally. This would prove correct, as Nathanos' talent allowed him to become the first and last of the human ranger lords, and was responsible for victories spanning a decade of conflict.
The Second War
During the Second War, the high elves initially sent only token support to the Alliance, though Sylvanas' older sister Alleria took her squad of rangers and joined the fight against the Horde as well.
After the forests of Quel'Thalas mysteriously began to burn, Sylvanas and her rangers set out to discover the cause. She came across both her sisters being chased by a band of forest trolls, whom they dispatched quickly. Alleria alerted Sylvanas of the coming orcish Horde, and that it was they who were burning Quel'Thalas with dragon fire. Sylvanas and her rangers moved quickly to meet the Horde and trap them between themselves and the Alliance forces under the command of the paladin Turalyon. The battle took many turns but ultimately the Horde abandoned Quel'Thalas. Sylvanas stayed behind to hunt down any remaining orcs. Shortly after, the Horde was defeated, the Dark Portal destroyed, and the Second War ended.
Invasion of the Undead Scourge
After the high elves withdrew from the Alliance, Sylvanas and her rangers were the primary guards against any would-be attackers on Silvermoon. Several years later, Arthas Menethil, the betrayer of Lordaeron, arrived unexpectedly on the doorstep of Quel'Thalas with a horde of undead at his back. Kelmarin, one of Sylvanas' scouts, quickly informed her of the swarm of undeath fast approaching the first elfgate. Sylvanas organized her Farstriders and went to observe the despoiler of Lordaeron herself.
She came face-to-face with Arthas and suggested that the death knight turn back. However, Arthas retorted that death itself had come to Quel'Thalas, and began his assault on the first elfgate. Despite the Farstriders' best efforts, Arthas was able to successfully crash through it with his necromantic allies, and hulking Nerubians acting as sentient siege engines. Sylvanas and her surviving rangers fled back to the second gate, and Sylvanas came to the grim realization that she could not win this battle. However, she held out hope that the magisters at the Sunwell - if they knew what was approaching - could still turn the battle around. She had another ranger rush to inform them that Quel'Thalas may have been betrayed, and observed as the undead Scourge wrought a trail of dark, unholy destruction upon the land.
Arthas continued relentlessly towards the second gate, killing every elf who got in his way. The fallen prince soon learned that the second elfgate was only passable with the use of the Key of the Three Moons, assembled from the mooncrystals hidden within the forest. Sylvanas destroyed the bridge leading to the second gate in an attempt to halt the undead advance, though all her effort proved in vain as Arthas successfully collected all the mooncrystals for the gate and ordered his mind-devoid minions to create a huge bridge of bodies to supplement the destroyed passage.
Once Arthas had bested the gate, Sylvanas retreated to Fairbreeze Village and had its citizens evacuated. With little more than her most stalwart rangers left by her side, Sylvanas resolved to make a final stand before Arthas could push his way into Silvermoon. Every runner she sent to Silvermoon was murdered, and Sylvanas coordinated an aerial dragonhawk attack to counter the invaders. However, this too proved mostly futile. Knowing that her own death approached, Sylvanas could think only of her sister, Alleria, and gazed upon a necklace gifted to her by her elder sibling. Sylvanas mused that they would likely be reunited soon.
Sylvanas' final stand was against Arthas himself just east of Fairbreeze Village, fast closing in on Silvermoon, who at this point was frustrated at the harsh resistance Sylvanas had given him. The two engaged in combat, though the exhausted ranger-general was unable to match the power of Frostmourne, which shattered her weapons and pierced through her abdomen.
According to Arthas, it was Sylvanas who brought doom on the high elven people; initially, his only goal was reaching the Sunwell.
Sylvanas the Banshee
The official story given by the high elves of Silvermoon had the Ranger-General having perished valiantly in battle against the undead Scourge in the defense of Quel'Thalas, and her body being burned to ashes in the fire that had devastated half the capital. Rhonin had been told a different story: that Sylvanas was instead captured, horribly mutilated, then finally slain for Arthas' pleasure. In this version of events, her body was taken into a dark temple, where Arthas corrupted her soul, transforming her into a haunting, mournful phantom called a banshee that was left to roam the ruins of Quel'Thalas.
In truth, as Sylvanas lay dying after being impaled by Frostmourne, she told Arthas to finish her, saying she deserved a clean death. Having had to fight her every step of the way, Arthas responded by telling her the last thing he would give her was the peace of death. Moments after Sylvanas passed away into a comforting darkness, she felt agony unlike any she had ever known. Arthas ripped her soul back into the world and Sylvanas Windrunner became the first of the high elven banshees. She was able to give voice to her pain, and in so doing she would cause pain to others. Her body was flung onto a meat wagon, lost among the thousands more the Scourge had claimed, and would later be locked in an iron coffin as a further act of vengeance upon the ranger-general.
Sylvanas, now an undead banshee, was granted a number of unconventional abilities by Arthas. Though bound to his will completely, in a process she likened to a puppet master pulling strings, Arthas allowed her to retain her self-awareness - so that she might witness the destruction she would bring to her people firsthand. Sylvanas the banshee was paraded in front of Silvermoon as something of a trophy, and though the high elves were shocked to the core, Sylvanas could not help but feel pride as they continued their futile, brutal struggle against Arthas. Though Arthas had been able to fill the first crossing with bodies to form a passage, Sylvanas gloated to him that he would never be able to do so to reach Quel'Danas and the Sunwell. Arthas plunged Frostmourne into the ocean and created a path of frost for his army to use instead.
Arthas began his brutal assault on the Sunwell, and Sylvanas watched helplessly as he engaged in single combat with the high elven ruler, High King Anasterian Sunstrider. She hoped dearly that the aged king could put an end to him, though knew that it was not possible. Her hopes were raised when Anasterian managed to dismount Arthas by grievously wounding his skeletal steed, Invincible, though the act only served to enrage Arthas further, and King Anasterian fell, both body and soul, before Frostmourne. Sylvanas witnessed the rebirth of Kel'Thuzad via the destruction of the Sunwell and overtaken with grief, let out a banshee's screech that almost deafened the army but only amused Arthas. However, Sylvanas could not help but feel elated to see the traitor, Dar'Khan Drathir, cut down by Arthas as well.
With that, the mighty elven homeland of Quel'Thalas suffered its darkest hour. The former ranger-general accompanied Arthas to a demon gate, where Kel'Thuzad communed with Archimonde. The demon instructed them to attack Dalaran next, and Sylvanas mocked Arthas for a hint of regret she could sense within him - pertaining to someone he perhaps had "fond memories" regarding - Jaina Proudmoore. Arthas quickly silenced her, exerting his dominion over her spirit, though Sylvanas could not suppress a smirk of satisfaction. Sylvanas was present after the fall of Dalaran for the summoning of Archimonde.
Return to Lordaeron
Sylvanas became one of Arthas' primary generals, and she remained behind in Lordaeron with Kel'Thuzad under the watchful eye of the dreadlords, who had been left stationed in Lordaeron to protect it in the name of the Legion. When Archimonde was defeated at the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Sylvanas would quickly learn of this news from Kel'Thuzad. As the months passed, the dreadlords were still ignorant of their master's defeat. Varimathras, Detheroc and Balnazzar, the three prime dreadlords overseeing Lordaeron, were convening under Sylvanas' undead, watchful eyes when Arthas stormed into the stronghold, fresh from his journey to Kalimdor. He informed them of the Legion's failure and his intentions to take control of the Scourge. The dreadlords fled, outraged but unwilling to risk their lives by battling Arthas' army.
Arthas approached his servants and ordered that Lordaeron is purged of all life as a tribute to Ner'zhul. Kel'Thuzad, however, informed him that human refugees had begun to flee from the outer villages, and that, should they escape into the mountain passes, they would be impossible to track. Arthas stationed himself and his two generals on the three possible escape routes and they each led detachments of undead troops against the fleeing humans while taking great pains to ensure that few, if any, made it past their blockade to safety. Despite the efforts of the paladin Dagren the Orcslayer and his companions, Sylvanas led her banshees into battle against the human refugees, aided in the destruction of all the remaining villages in her area, and slaughtered any human trying to escape. Finally, Sylvanas, Arthas, and Kel'Thuzad arrived at the central headquarters of the paladins and killed them all in a vicious battle, annihilating the last of the civilian presence in Lordaeron.
The Dark Ranger
Around this point, the weakened Ner'zhul began to lose control of the minds of Sylvanas and a number of banshees. She kept this discovery from Arthas and Kel'Thuzad while continuing to serve. The dreadlords contacted Sylvanas and explained that they knew the cause, and arranged a secret meeting with her. They told her that Ner'zhul's — and by extension Arthas' — powers were beginning to diminish. The nathrezim intended to use this opportunity to seize control of Lordaeron. Sylvanas tentatively agreed to assist, but under the condition that her aid would be provided on her own terms.
The dreadlords planned on killing Arthas within the capital, but Sylvanas created a contingency plan in the case of Arthas' escape. She arranged for her banshees to feign allegiance and escort him to a place in the woods where she would be waiting for him. In the meantime, Sylvanas found her body locked into a coffin as requested by Arthas to further torment her. After Arthas survived the dreadlords' ambush and escaped the capital, Sylvanas' loyal sisters saw him to the arranged place and then killed his bodyguards.
Hiding in the shadows, she struck him with an arrow she had crafted — a venomous sting that would paralyze him. Arthas was furious at her betrayal and demanded that she finish him. But Sylvanas refused to show him the mercy of a quick death and intended to make him suffer — as he had made her suffer in undeath. She was about to begin her grisly work when Kel'Thuzad arrived and intervened, killing her banshees and chasing her off.
At some point, Sylvanas raised Velonara as a dark ranger. She did so probably with the others as well.
Queen of the Forsaken
Arthas left for Northrend, having been summoned by the Lich King, and Kel'Thuzad went into hiding. Sylvanas and her sisters were freed, but Sylvanas was still troubled. Though free from Ner'zhul, she and the other free-willed loyalists remained monstrous abominations in appearance.
Her thoughts were interrupted as Varimathras arrived on the scene. The dreadlord invited the banshee to join him and his brothers in their new order. But Sylvanas was not so quick to relinquish what freedom she had just gained. She told him that her assistance was enough, and demanded to be left alone. Varimathras ominously warned that those who were not part of this new land would be cast aside and that she had best not vex the new rulers of the Plaguelands. Sylvanas was adamant. As Varimathras departed, Sylvanas knew that an attack was imminent. But with only her banshees and some lesser undead to serve for her, Sylvanas was certain that she would soon fall. She needed to acquire an army.
Scouting the outer wilderness, Sylvanas found a plethora of creatures who would serve her well, and with her banshees at her disposal, they would have little choice in the matter. She sent out her banshees to possess Mug'thol the leader of the local ogres, the Bandit Lord Blackthorn, the gnoll ruler Snarlmane, and the Murloc Puddle Lord. Those she did not possess were killed. With so many new allies, Varimathras was quick to fall before her. But after she defeated him, Varimathras begged for his life, saying that he could serve her well. He knew his brothers' tactics, and where their bases were located. Sylvanas knew to trust such an insidious creature was a risk but felt that she could control him enough for her purposes. With Varimathras' assistance, they moved against Detheroc's forces.
Detheroc had acquired a human puppet, Garithos, and his men, and was using them to protect himself. Sylvanas had his scouts possessed and then infiltrated his base while their guard was down. As they slept, Sylvanas swept through the twin bases and slaughtered any before her. Though they eventually awoke and raised the alarm, it was too late. Sylvanas disabled the humans and ravaged Detheroc's forces, eventually coming to the dreadlord himself, and killing him swiftly. With the dreadlord dead, Garithos was freed from his mental control. Sylvanas saw him as arrogant and foolish but felt that she could use him. She lied and promised to relinquish control of the Capital to him if he helped her kill Balnazzar.
She also encountered and freed Reigol Valdread who initially assisted her but later asked her to release him from her service which she eventually agreed to do.
The night before attacking the Capital City, Sylvanas met with the freed undead. She spoke about their purpose in the world and if they help her retake the Capital. An undead alchemist called Lydon asked her what would become of Garithos' humans. She responded that they will just serve for the battle.
Garithos attacked from the rear entrance to the city as Sylvanas and Varimathras came from the front. As they moved into the city, Sylvanas found caches of items left by the Lordaeron royals, and used them to further the assault. Despite the dreadlord's demonic allies, his forces were destroyed, and, as a final test of loyalty, Sylvanas demanded that Varimathras kill Balnazzar. Varimathras froze, saying that it was forbidden for one Nathrezim to kill another. But she required Varimathras to prove his loyalty to her. Varimathras obeyed and struck down Balnazzar. However, whether by accident or design, Balnazzar later re-emerged as a leader of the Scarlet Crusade. Varimathras was not so reluctant when Sylvanas ordered him to do the same to Garithos.
With all their enemies dead, Sylvanas made a proclamation to Varimathras. They would rule the Plaguelands as the Forsaken and would stake out their own destiny, where none would get in their way.
Sylvanas quickly went about founding her new empire of undeath. Freeing as much undead from the Lich King's dominion, and organizing them into a new nation of their own, Sylvanas attacked the royal catacombs beneath the ruins of Capital City - the Undercity - and took it over for the Forsaken. The Forsaken have since worked to complete Arthas' plans in the Undercity; extending its dungeons and tombs considerably to forge a functional capital for their own use.
Sylvanas, the Banshee Queen, and leader of the Forsaken traveled to Quel'Thalas for her own reasons but soon encountered the traitor Dar'Khan, confronting him in the ruins of Silvermoon. She aided Kalecgos in attempting to stop the traitor from claiming the Sunwell's energies; though she was initially unsuccessful, she distracted Dar'Khan long enough for Anveena to regain her power and vaporize him. Sylvanas agreed to keep Anveena's identity a secret in the interests of preventing Arthas from gaining the Sunwell's power.
Joining the Horde
The Forsaken, having carved a functional empire of their own and with growing numbers by the day, knew that the next step to realizing their vengeance upon Arthas was to secure their place in the world. Though Sylvanas had presided over the civil war in the Plaguelands and successfully conquered the ruins of Lordaeron, how long the relatively small faction of the Forsaken could keep their holdings was unclear.
As such, Sylvanas looked to finding allies. She sent numerous ambassadors to the Horde under Warchief Thrall, though the Forsaken's admittance as an official member state was contested by a number of the faction's existing members. 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. This alliance of convenience has granted the Horde a better footing in the mostly Alliance controlled Eastern Kingdoms, and in turn, with the Horde's protection, and even the assistance of the Argent Dawn, the Forsaken was able to keep their holdings in Lordaeron.
The Forsaken's dominion
Having carved out an alliance with the Horde, the Forsaken looked to expanding their ever-growing empire of undeath. By freeing the minds of the undead under the sway of the Lich King, Sylvanas came to preside over an impressive faction of her own. At some point, Sylvanas also freed her former disciple, Ranger Lord Nathanos Marris, from the Scourge's cold grip. Nathanos was named the champion of the Banshee Queen and took up residence on the Marris Stead to train and direct his Queen's new champions.
Sylvanas sent adventurers to train under Nathanos, and later to help remove the zealous Scarlet Crusade presence constantly harassing Forsaken lands. Sylvanas sanctioned the creation of the Deathstalkers, which has quickly become one of the most powerful spy organizations on Azeroth, and also oversaw the early production of a master plague capable of bringing the Scourge to its knees - the Royal Apothecary Society rising to meet this goal.
Sylvanas tasked Varimathras with the conquering of the human and dwarven lands in southern Lordaeron.
The Forsaken have incorporated the notion of Hallow's End into a core part of their culture. Sylvanas hails it as the night where the Forsaken is strongest - the night where their enemies fear them the most. She appears in a ghostly form outside of the Undercity to burn the large Wickerman; much to the crowd's delight. The Wickerman Festival celebrates the anniversary of the Forsaken's campaign against the Scourge and Burning Legion and the birth of the Forsaken as a people.
The Burning Crusade
In undeath, Sylvanas still considers herself one of the foremost protectors of Quel'Thalas, and repeatedly offered assistance in the form of supplies and troops to the blood elves. This is due to the fact that the Dark Lady still had a lot of love for Quel'Thalas, its people, and identified with them on many fronts. Though the Sin'dorei initially declined most of Sylvanas' offers, fearing a trick, the beleaguered elves eventually allowed Sylvanas to station Forsaken soldiers in their lands, most prominently in the village of Tranquillien. Sylvanas played a large part in convincing Thrall to accept the blood elves into the Horde.
During the battles in the Ghostlands, blood elven adventurers would travel to Windrunner Spire - Sylvanas' former residence - and acquire The Lady's Necklace, what was once a gift to Sylvanas from her elder sister, Alleria. It is delivered to the Banshee Queen herself, and Sylvanas is briefly taken aback by the sight of it. However, she quickly composes herself and lashes out at the adventurer - ensuring them that it means nothing to her and that Alleria Windrunner is a long dead memory; dropping the necklace. She dismisses the adventurer from her chambers, though in a rare moment of emotion, summons a choir of high elven banshees and begins to sing a melancholic song for her bereaved homeland. She then kneels down to pick up the necklace.
On behalf of Mehlar Dawnblade, Sylvanas would later assist Sin'dorei Blood Knights in the creation of a powerful scourgestone; Sylvanas' intimate knowledge of the Scourge's workings proved essential in its creation.
Legends: Crusader's Blood
Sylvanas alongside Varimathras attacked a camp of the Scarlet Crusade in Tirisfal Glades and defeated its leader, Renee Lauer who was responsible for the deaths of some Horde members. After this, Renee was resurrected as a Forsaken.
Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
Sylvanas once went to see Faranell who showed her the effects of the New Plague. She was satisfied with the result but warned Faranell that the Plague should never fall to wrong hands. Arthas killed and consumed the dream form of Ner'zhul thus he became the only person known as the Lich King. At that moment he opened his eyes and Sylvanas felt that something terrible was happening.
A Council for War
The time had finally come to deal with the Scourge. Sylvanas and her chief apothecary, Putress, met with Warchief Thrall, High Overlord Saurfang, and Garrosh Hellscream to plan their next move. After the duel between Garrosh and Thrall (fueled by Garrosh's belief that immediate action needed to be taken) was interrupted by a Scourge assault, Sylvanas helped to defend Orgrimmar. After the Horde victory, Thrall declared war upon the Lich King. Pleased, Sylvanas dispensed Putress to assist the Horde in Northrend - his vast knowledge of the plague surely being a beneficial addition to its arsenal.
In the Shadow of the Sun
With the Horde now dedicated to a Northrend campaign, Lady Sylvanas and a group of Royal Dreadguards traveled to Sunfury Spire to gain the support of the Sin'dorei towards the war effort. She was met by her old comrade, Lor'themar Theron, Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas, along with Grand Magister Rommath and the current Ranger-General of Silvermoon, Halduron Brightwing. Sylvanas instructed Lor'themar to send a force of blood elves -- Magisters, Farstriders, and Blood Knights—to Northrend, though Lor'themar was apprehensive, reasoning that he had only just overcome the war on Quel'Danas. Sylvanas noted that the blood elves are a part of the Horde only by her hand and that if they do not mobilize they would surely lose its support - and Forsaken support in their lands.
With his arm twisted, Lor'themar relented and agreed to send a contingent of blood elves to the Undercity. Sylvanas prepared to leave, though Rommath was outraged at this turn of events. He threw Sylvanas' offers of aid back at her, stating that the situation was blackmail. Sylvanas informed him that all she desired was the strength to defeat their greatest foe - and that moreover, her offers were just that - offers. Lor'themar quickly ended their conversation, and Sylvanas' eyes flashed for the briefest of moments at his Thalassian farewell. She silently left.
Wrath of the Lich King
The Horde thus began their assault on the frozen region of Northrend. While the main Horde advance, led by Garrosh Hellscream, attacked from Borean Tundra; the Forsaken - coming under the banner of the aptly named Hand of Vengeance - assaulted the region from Howling Fjord with their considerable navy. Under Sylvanas' direct leadership, the Hand of Vengeance brought with it everything in the Forsaken's arsenal - including the penultimate phases of their enigmatic plague, which would be perfected during their time in Northrend.
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 on the Scourge.
However, Grand Apothecary Putress, whom Sylvanas had deployed in Northrend, would soon come to undertake this honor - by hurling the perfected, ravenous plague at the Scourge, the Alliance, and even the Horde during the Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate.
Battle for the Undercity
Main article: Battle for the Undercity
As the combined Horde and Alliance forces began their assault upon Angrathar the Wrathgate, an uprising broke out within the Undercity. Varimathras and hordes of his demonic brethren, in league with Putress, overran the city, slaying all those who would not submit to their dark rule. Sylvanas herself nearly died in the coup, but managed to escape with a number of loyalists and fled to Orgrimmar. Determined not to allow the dreadlords a foothold in Horde territory, Thrall and Sylvanas planned an immediate counter-attack. In the midst of their planning, however, Jaina Proudmoore arrived with terrible news: in the wake of Bolvar Fordragon's death, King Varian was preparing for a possible war with the Horde. Jaina had been sent to elicit an explanation for the betrayal at the Wrathgate. Though Thrall and Sylvanas explained that the Horde was not responsible for Putress, Jaina had warned them that King Varian would most likely pursue retribution.
Sylvanas returned to the Undercity at the head of a Horde army, determined to retake her city. Along with Thrall and Vol'jin, she led the assault into Undercity itself, a cry for her people upon her lips. In the Throne Room, Sylvanas fought and finally slew Varimathras, retaking her throne. As this was occurring, King Varian launched his own assault on the Undercity from the sewers, eventually finding and killing Putress. Upon discovery of various Forsaken experiments on their human captives, King Varian was set on declaring war on the Horde. King Varian entered the Royal Quarter shortly after Varimathras' defeat, branding them monsters and charged at the Warchief and the Dark Lady. However, he was quickly teleported out of the battle by Jaina, who took the Alliance forces back to Stormwind.
With the battle over, Sylvanas was thus able to reclaim her throne, with the treacherous rebels put to death. However, the entire Wrathgate fiasco did not sit well with Thrall, who dispensed a contingent of Kor'kron to keep watch over the Forsaken. With that, Sylvanas herself made the journey to Northrend - to finally deliver her vengeance upon Arthas.
The Frozen Halls
Sylvanas led the Horde forces to the Frozen Halls inside Icecrown Citadel, to confront the Lich King and gain her vengeance against Arthas for destroying Quel'Thalas and damning her to undeath. Accompanied by Dark Ranger Kalira and Dark Ranger Loralen, she instructed Horde heroes in their battles through the accursed halls and joined with several Horde champions of the Argent Tournament. Following the defeat of Ick and Krick, Krick begged for mercy before Sylvanas and attempted to sate her with the knowledge that Frostmourne itself is within the halls - unguarded. Krick is ultimately disposed of by Scourgelord Tyrannus, and Sylvanas made the journey to the Halls of Reflection. Before entering the halls, they had to battle with Tyrannus. Right after his death, Sindragosa appeared and killed almost all the combatants except Sylvanas, her two rangers, and the adventurers, who she pulled out of Sindragosa's range. She sent Kalira to get reinforcements and with Loralen and the adventurers entered the Halls of Reflection.
Upon reaching Arthas' private chambers in the Halls of Reflection and standing so close to Frostmourne, Sylvanas felt the pain of her death to this blade renewed. Nonetheless, she attempted to commune with the spirits within the sword, hoping that "salvation lies within". At that point, the spirit of Uther the Lightbringer appeared, warning her that the Lich King was on his way, and of the foolishness of attempting to defeat him there. He revealed that even if Arthas were to be destroyed, there must be someone to take his place as master of the Scourge, lest they wash across the world like locusts, consuming everything in their path. To defeat the Lich King, Uther said, he must be destroyed at the place he was created: The Frozen Throne.
Just then, the Lich King arrived and reclaimed his blade, consuming the soul of Uther within it. He summoned Falric and Marwyn, his two top lieutenants, to kill the intruders. While the adventurers battled the pair and the ghosts they summon, Sylvanas and Dark Ranger Loralen gave chase as the Lich King fled to his inner sanctum. Upon defeating the death knights and their ghostly allies, the party found Loralen dead in the hallway and sounds of battle coming from the chamber before them - Sylvanas and the Lich King in single combat. Realizing he was too powerful to confront there, as Uther had warned, Sylvanas and her escorts fled, breaking through the ice walls and packs of undead minions the Lich King summoned to slow their progress. As they reached the outside, they realized that it is a dead end, and resolved themselves to die in battle against the Dark Lord. Just then, the gunship Orgrim's Hammer arrived on scene to rescue them. As they fled the Halls of Reflection, Sylvanas realized that the Lich King's powers have increased tenfold and that to defeat him, a mighty army was needed, one greater than even the Horde could muster.
Fall of the Lich King
Eventually, Arthas fell in combat with Tirion Fordring and his champions, ending his reign of terror. With the death of the Lich King, an adventurer bearing Shadowmourne finds a Sealed Chest, containing various items, among them a vial of blood. The adventurer brings the vial to Sylvanas, waiting in Light's Hammer.
As the whole of Azeroth was enveloped within the effects of the Emerald Nightmare, so was the Undercity and the Banshee Queen herself. Sylvanas dreamt about being a Quel'dorei once again after the actually dead Varimathras had turned her back into one. However, her fears gripped her once more like the actually dead Lich King reappeared and tortured her while Varimathras betrayed her once again in her dream. Sharlindra and the other denizens of the Undercity could not bring her out of the spell's grip.
Edge of Night
After the death of the Lich King Arthas Menethil, Sylvanas ventured alone to the Frozen Throne. While irritated that she was not there to see him fall, Sylvanas took solace in knowing that the work she had begun in the lush forests of Quel'Thalas was at last complete: Arthas was dead. With her life's - and unlife's - goal sated, Sylvanas could think only of the bright fate that had awaited her before Arthas tore out her soul and prepared to hurl herself from the citadel onto the saronite spikes below, the only thing capable of destroying her completely. As she contemplated the end of her long journey, nine Val'kyr encircled her, granting her visions of her past. Sylvanas ignored them and hurled herself off the Frozen Throne.
Sylvanas saw a vision of her peoples' future. Without her leadership, the bulk of the Forsaken was sacrificed by Garrosh Hellscream in a failed assault on Gilneas. At the Bulwark, Apothecary Lydon organizes a last, desperate counterattack against the invading Alliance forces. As the tide turned against them, the Forsaken threw themselves into raging fires rather than face the onslaught to come. As the vision ended, Sylvanas found herself floating in a dark void, where she knew only terror, cold, hopelessness, fear, and regret. She also ran into the ghost of Arthas and was surprised to find that all he was at this point was a frightened and lonely little boy. Looking at the man who had inflicted such torment, Sylvanas admitted that had her soul not been broken she may have actually felt pity for him despite what he had done to her. As she realized that this realm of anguish was to be her eternity, the Val'kyr appeared to her again. Led by Annhylde the Caller, they offered the Dark Lady a pact: instead of allowing Sylvanas to reside eternally in this terrifying realm, Annhylde offered to take her place if she binds herself to the remaining Val'kyr; a powerful vessel through which they can continue to exist as more than slaves, their fates intertwined. Sylvanas accepted the pact and was returned to the realm of the living surrounded by the eight remaining Val'kyr.
Sylvanas returned to Silverpine Forest, where Garrosh was leading the assault on Gilneas and stated that the invasion would be carried out her way; Garrosh begrudgingly accepted, and Sylvanas ordered her fleet around to the southern coast to harass the villages and split the defenders. Reflecting on what she had been through, Sylvanas realized that her people were no longer simply arrows in her quiver, but an important resource that would not be squandered.
Following the Wrathgate fiasco, the Forsaken as a whole came under scrutiny from the wider Horde. Use of the Forsaken Blight was explicitly banned, though the apothecaries were permitted to work on a considerably weaker strain. Sylvanas was then ordered to move south into Gilneas because the Horde wanted a port in northern Lordaeron. She spearheaded the attack on Gilneas and was initially successful in conquering the city thanks to the efforts of her Wolf Cult allies. Through her ally, Ralaar Fangfire, she had learned that the legendary Scythe of Elune was in Gilneas and sought custody of it.
However, the Forsaken had not counted on the Gilneans controlling the Worgen Curse that had spread among them, and the Gilneans uniting their forces after internal struggling to push the Forsaken out of Gilneas City. Backed into a corner, Sylvanas faces off against King Genn Greymane, Darius Crowley, Prince Liam Greymane and a Gilnean resistance force. She quickly turns the tables despite her disadvantage, and aims a poisoned arrow at Genn - though Liam hurls himself in its way; dying in the process. Frustrated, and with the new Warchief's presence breathing down her neck, Sylvanas orders the city to be drenched in blight to secure a certain victory. The Gilneans learn of this and begin to evacuate their citizens. With the battle over and Gilneas once again in Forsaken hands, Sylvanas retreats.
However, the Forsaken lose their holdings in Gilneas after a night-time raid by the 7th Legion. In a meeting with Garrosh Hellscream (whom Sylvanas does not appear to think particularly highly of), Sylvanas reveals the newest allies of the Forsaken - the Val'kyr, the ascended Vrykul women who once served the Lich King, and uses them to raise dead enemies as Forsaken as a solution to the undead not being able to procreate. After an insulting exchange with the highly revolted Garrosh, High Warlord Cromush is dispensed to "guard" the Dark Lady and keep tabs on the Forsaken.
Sylvanas personally takes to the battlefield in Silverpine Forest, leading her army against the Alliance counterattack from Gilneas. The Forsaken come under heavy fire from the Gilneas Liberation Front, backed by the Bloodfang pack and the 7th Legion troops. While the Forsaken forces begin to push forward with the help of their allies, old and new (Orcish reinforcements and the Val'kyr, respectively), the latter efficiently bringing in the fallen to bolster their ranks, Sylvanas devises a plan to end the battle in victory- beginning with the resurrection of Lord Godfrey.
After Godfrey captures Lorna Crowley and delivers her to Sylvanas, Sylvanas heads towards the shattered Greymane Wall and gives Darius Crowley a choice: the surrender of the Gilneas Liberation Front or Lorna becomes one of the Forsaken. Darius decides to surrender and Sylvanas allows him to leave with his daughter and his men. Shortly afterward she is killed by Godfrey, who quickly flees to Shadowfang Keep. High Warlord [[Cromush[[ orders the Val'kyr Agatha, Arthura, and Daschla to fix her. After a moment of thought, the three Val'kyr sacrifice themselves and give Sylvanas life once more. This convinces Sylvanas beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Val'kyr are the future of her people.
The Dark Lady and her forces are eager to conquer the Arathi Highlands, and the fallen (and resurrected) Prince Galen Trollbane, now a member of the Forsaken, along with Dark Ranger Alina is presiding over the possible conflict. Sylvanas herself mused to Alina that the Forsaken's complete conquest of Lordaeron may be the only way they can find satisfaction, and perhaps, relief.
During the Battle for Andorhal, Sylvanas disguises herself as Lindsay Ravensun. She expresses dissatisfaction with how Koltira Deathweaver deals with the Alliance - especially after the Alliance forces assault the Forsaken's side of Andorhal, despite Koltira's apparent truce with the enemy commander, Thassarian. Sylvanas steps in to turn the battle around, unleashing the Val'kyr to secure a safe victory.
After the Alliance is defeated, Sylvanas confronts Koltira about his ill-fated truce with Thassarian and scolds him for being weak. A portal to the Undercity is opened and Koltira is pulled through by a hooked chain, where Sylvanas will attempt to purge him of his compassion for Thassarian and make him more of a servant of the Horde - more specifically, a servant of Sylvanas and the Forsaken.
Lady Sylvanas later sends Lady Cozwynn to the Twilight Highlands, to serve as the Horde liaison to the new Dragonmaw Chieftain, Warlord Zaela, in order to improve her relations with the Warchief and "mend broken fences."
Lady Sylvanas and the Forsaken as a whole have come under the observation of the neighboring Argent Crusade forces and certain members of the Ebon Blade. As the similarities between her and the Lich King increase, the Forsaken are now being watched very closely.
Tides of War
Sylvanas was present at the Horde leader meeting called by Warchief Garrosh Hellscream, in which the Warchief made clear his plans to attack and crush the nation of Theramore. Sylvanas was opposed to this notion, wary that the Alliance may take their anger out on the Forsaken and Sin'dorei if their main base of power on Kalimdor is compromised. Sylvanas repeatedly looked to Lor'themar Theron for support, playing upon his sympathy, though Lor'themar gave her none.
Garrosh assured Sylvanas that any counterattacks would be dealt with, and the Dark Lady dispensed Captain Frandis Farley to represent her during the siege of Theramore. After the war, Malkorok had Farley killed in the inn in Razor Hill for questioning his actions in the meeting with Baine and Vol'jin.
Mists of Pandaria: Escalation
Vol'jin vaguely referenced her as an ally against Garrosh Hellscream in the burgeoning Horde Rebellion (noting that she needs "no excuse" to strike against Garrosh).
Siege of Orgrimmar
Sylvanas accompanied Lor'themar Theron to seize Bladefist Bay from Garrosh's forces. While nearing to make a landfall, she and Theron discussed raising the dead. While the blood elven regent forbade her to use her resurrection skills on the elves, he did not care about the human ones. She planned to use her angels to fill the streets of Orgrimmar and raise the dead but it is currently unknown if she succeeded or not. She takes part in the Galakras encounter along with Lor'themar and Archmage Aethas Sunreaver.
Sylvanas is present along with the rest of the Horde's leadership (barring Ji Firepaw, who was injured earlier in the siege) at the defeat and arrest of Garrosh. When Thrall names Vol'jin the new Warchief, Sylvanas nods in acknowledgment. However as the quote below indicates, she's not quite as accepting as she appeared, hinting that she's going to give him a hard time to 'test' him.
After the Siege of Orgrimmar, Sylvanas and other Horde leaders are summoned to the Temple of the White Tiger to witness the judgment of Garrosh Hellscream. Sylvanas is initially displeased at the idea of a trial rather than an execution and opposes the appointment of Baine Bloodhoof as Hellscream's defender. When Baine's defense of Hellscream proves better than the Banshee Queen would like she accuses him of being an "Alliance sympathizer", prompting the Tauren chieftain to somewhat aggressively, albeit calmly, deny her claim while grabbing her upper arms.
Vereesa Windrunner, noticing her sister's mutual hatred for Garrosh, anonymously summoned her to Windrunner Spire to plot the assassination of the tyrannical former Warchief. Concocting a new, untraceable poison with her Forsaken subjects, she and Vereesa planned to lace Hellscream's last meal with it. In the meantime, Vereesa entertained the idea of joining her sister in a leadership position of the Forsaken despite the fact that it would require her to abandon her children. Sylvanas realized that the Forsaken would not accept a living creature into their leadership and decided she would murder Vereesa so that her "Little Moon" could be reborn at her side as an undead.
At the last moment, Vereesa relented and informed Anduin Wrynn of the poison in Hellscream's food. Despite Hellscream's hateful words and remorseless attitude, the prince saved the imprisoned orc's life, foiling the Banshee Queen's plan. After learning of the plan's failure, the Banshee Queen rampaged through the wilderness, angrily killing any wildlife unfortunate enough to get in her way and proclaiming that she would never attempt to love again.
Warlords of Draenor
When the Dark Lady asked for volunteers to make the trek into Draenor, Dark Ranger Velonara answered without hesitation. Any opportunity to please the Dark Lady is worth the risk.
Sylvanas also sent the mage Vivianne to assist the commander on Draenor and to retrieve samples of the Infested for study. Benjamin Gibb was also doing reconnaissance for the Dark Lady in Admiral Taylor's Garrison.
As the Legion began invading Azeroth, Sylvanas called Nathanos to partake in a ritual meant to make him stronger. He agreed to take part, though not before attempting to provoke her. When he discovered that the ritual would involve the Val'kyr sacrificing his cousin Stephon Marris, he felt no regret, only the duty-bound oath he had made towards Sylvanas. The Val'kyr proceeded to place herself between the human and the undead and began chanting guttural words in an ancient tongue, flashes of blue and gold pulsing from her hands. Nathanos lost his senses for a time, his world exploding in fire and pain. When the Blightcaller's wits returned, he found that he had been transformed to become stronger than before and not be as decayed and withered as he had been. However, upon looking into a mirror, he noticed that his new face was not entirely his own. He then noticed that the second ritual table was empty save for a bit of ash and oily residue stains. Sylvanas directed Dark Ranger Anya to escort her champion to the armory to see him outfitted in a manner that befits his station. Along the way, Anya implied to Nathanos that Sylvanas had feelings for champion, a notion that the Blightcaller disagreed with, as he personally felt that whatever emotion his mortal heart might have held, now it had room only for rage and contempt.
The Forsaken's ruthless leader is a formidable champion of her people. But with the Burning Legion's invasion, the stakes for the Dark Lady have never been higher. Should Sylvanas perish, her demise will be the beginning of her eternal damnation. All that stands between her and this doom are her val'kyr, yet few of these spirit guardians remain. As her fate edges closer to the abyss, Sylvanas must decide how far she'll go to protect her people... and whether they're more precious to her than her soul.
Sylvanas took part in the Horde's attack force heading for the Broken Isles in a joint assault with the Alliance. When a demonic attack critically damaged the Alliance's gunship, she vaulted onto it before it crashed into her own. She fought alongside Varian Wrynn against a rampaging abyssal and survived the gunship's fall to continue the battle on land. During the Battle for the Broken Shore, Sylvanas and Baine Bloodhoof's forces regrouped with Vol'jin, Thrall, and the Horde reinforcements and fight their way to defeat the demons of the Black City. They then pursue Gul'dan and witness the sacrifice of Tirion Fordring after the warlock summoned Krosus. After the Horde forces defeat the demon with the Alliance's help, Sylvanas tells King Varian Wrynn that the Horde will hold the high ridge and cover the Alliance's flank while the Alliance confronts Gul'dan. The Horde forces hold the high ridge until they discover that another portal opened up behind them and its vast reinforcements threaten to overwhelm the Horde defenders. The Horde is overwhelmed from an attack from behind and Vol'jin was mortally wounded by a poisoned spear. Sylvanas rides to secure her Warchief who urged her not to let the Horde die this day. Seeing the Horde forces crumbling and incoming Burning Legion reinforcements, Sylvanas blew her war horn signaling her Val'kyr to secure injured Horde soldiers and ordered a retreat. The Horde abandoning their strategic position left the Alliance vulnerable however and Varian watched in shock and disappointment as he witnesses the Horde forces quit the field. Varian is forced to order a retreat via gunship. As it takes off, however, Gul'dan summons an immense fel reaver through the portal, which grabs onto the airship, causing it to tip and send many Alliance soldiers plummeting to their deaths. King Varian sacrificed himself to distract the Burning Legion so that the remaining Alliance forces can secure their escape. Sylvanas grimly gazed at the massive fel explosion that resulted from Gul'dan executing the subdued Varian Wrynn with fel magic as she steered her Forsaken battleship back to Orgrimmar.
Following the battle at the Broken Shore, Sylvanas is summoned by the dying Vol'jin to Grommash Hold. After the loa spirits grant Vol'jin a vision, Vol'jin decides to make Sylvanas warchief of the Horde in his final moments. Vol'jin is burned on a funeral pyre, and during the ceremony, Sylvanas asks the masses of the Horde who will aid her in avenging him. The members of the Horde reply with thunderous battle cries and roars and the other Horde leaders pledge their loyalty to the new Warchief. When demon infiltrators assault Orgrimmar, Sylvanas' forces and the Illidari envoy, Allari the Souleater, are able to repel the attack. Seeing that demon hunter will play a crucial part in the war, but mistrustful of their motives, Lady Windrunner sends a Horde champion to act as the Horde's envoy to the Illidari and, unofficially, as her spy.
Sylvanas later takes the Forsaken fleet to Stormheim. While her Horde forces pursue the Aegis of Aggramar, Sylvanas intends to search for another treasure that she will be pursuing through her own means. Suddenly, the fleet is attacked by a single Alliance gunship, the Skyfire. The attack was at the command of a vengeful Genn Greymane and Sky Admiral Rogers, who has been pursuing Sylvanas. Sylvanas tasks her champion, Nathanos Blightcaller, and a Horde adventurer to defend the fleet. Before her royal flagship --The Windrunner-- could be boarded by the Alliance, Sylvanas escapes to Stormheim to fulfill her mysterious agenda alone.
Sylvanas can later be found in Helheim making a deal with Helya. She leaves Helheim and takes a contingent of dark rangers on The Oblivion to the outskirts of Skold-Ashil. There they attempt to overtake the vrykul city by force but are repelled. Sylvanas chooses a different approach and sends a Horde adventurer to undergo a rite of ascension to gain access to the vault that Sylvanas desires entrance to. Once the vault is opened, Sylvanas reveals she intends to subjugate Eyir and force her to make more Val'kyr for the Forsaken.
At the vault, Sylvanas uses a magical lantern called the Soulcage to bind Eyir and tortures the Val'kyr to obey her commands. Genn Greymane lets out a beastly howl and speaks to Sylvanas in a menacing tone from the shadows. Genn tells Sylvanas her quest for immortality has left her vulnerable and cries out that he will have his vengeance on her as he pounces at her from the ceiling. He declares he will avenge Varian, Gilneas, and his son as he strikes at her; eventually knocking her down. Genn then charges at her but Sylvanas evades him and shoots a poisoned arrow at his shoulder, thus turning Genn human. Sylvanas taunts Genn by saying she overestimated him and calling him an "old wolf". Genn then reveals that he stole Sylvanas' magical lantern during his last charge and smashes it on the ground, thus freeing Eyir. Sylvanas watched in shock and anger as Eyir is released from her binds and disappears. Genn walks out of the vault, snapping the shaft of Sylvanas' poisoned arrow lodged in his shoulder, and tells Sylvanas that since she stole his son's future, he now took hers. Though Eyir has escaped her grasp, Sylvanas intends to pursue the Val'kyr even if she has to hunt her through the Halls of Valhalas.
She later sent Crysa to study the birds of the Northern Barrens to see if they could be used to carry messages across long distances.
Windrunner: Three Sisters
Sylvanas and her sisters finally met and were reunited after years of separation, with the goal of reclaiming their ancestral home and see if they could still be family. After reuniting with her sisters, the Windrunner sisters set off to purging Windrunner Spire of the undead. During their journey, the sisters played the game "One is a lie" in which they each made three statements with one being a lie. Sylvanas' statements were: there were times she wished she was still alive, she was proud to be warchief of the Horde, and lastly she would never betray her sisters. As the Windrunner sisters were fighting shades of people they once knew in Goldenmist Village, the reunion took a certain turn when Alleria and Sylvanas entered an argument about whether Sylvanas manipulated Vereesa into murdering Garrosh Hellscream, to which Sylvanas defended her character and revealed it was Vereesa's plan from the beginning. Sylvanas held Vereesa's lack of nerve responsible for the fallout of Garrosh's actions thereafter, including the third invasion of the Burning Legion. Sylvanas' rage culminated in her unleashing her banshee powers on one shade and brutally eviscerated it. Disgusted by Sylvanas' savage brutality, Alleria transformed into her Void form to declare that the sister she once knew was gone. Sylvanas retorted she had no choice in becoming undead while Alleria abandoned them and chose to become a Void abomination. With both sisters seeing a monster in the other, Vereesa tried to stop the quarrel and dissipate the hostilities by refocusing their efforts in clearing their home of the undead and revealing the verdicts of their game. Though Sylvanas' sisters revealed their truths and lies, when it was Sylvanas' turn to reveal her truths and lie, she refused to continue the game. It was later revealed that Sylvanas had brought a squad of dark rangers with her, who stood ready to assassinate her sisters if the signal was given. The Spire retaken, Alleria and Vereesa parted ways with Sylvanas. She had almost given the signal, until Vereesa apologized to Sylvanas for backing out of her agreement to stay with her after their attempt on Garrosh's life, and told her she hoped she will forgive her one day. Letting her sisters leave to indulge in their sorrow-filled lives a bit longer, she still claimed that, in the end, they would serve her.
Before the Storm
While Sylvanas attended to her duties as warchief in Orgrimmar, she met with her champion Nathanos Blightcaller who reported to her the ongoings of the Undercity. Nathanos reported that while many are proud that a Forsaken has been crowned warchief, others resent that she had forgotten those who were loyal to her. Sylvanas laughed at the irony of the zero sum situation: Baine Bloodhoof and Varok Saurfang claimed she doesn't give the other Horde races enough attention while the Forsaken claim she gives them too much. She cursed Vol'jin for thrusting the public position of warchief onto her. As Sylvanas paraded with a diverse contingent of Horde races on their way to the celebration feast, Nathanos elaborated that she left a power vacuum behind in the undeads' capital, and the Desolate Council was created as an interim government to attend to the Undercity's needs. Word has also reached the Undercity of Sylvanas' efforts to create more val'kyr in Stormheim and how her plans were foiled by Genn Greymane. The Desolate Council has reservations about her actions and has requested an audience with her to speak of disagreements about their future. Sylvanas confided to Nathanos that she would rebuild the Horde military in order to conquer Stormwind. With Varian Wrynn dead and his soft son— Anduin Wrynn— ruling in his stead, Sylvanas believed it an opportune time to turn the bloodlust of the Horde on their perennial enemies, the humans of Stormwind. From the slaughter of the Stormwindians, she planned to bolster the ranks of the Forsaken, a fate she considered a mercy as they would be united with their Forsaken loved ones in death and freed from the harshness of life's passions and loss.
After the Legion's defeat and Sargeras impaling Silithus, the Bilgewater Cartel discovered a mysterious new substance. During the celebration feast, Jastor Gallywix showed Azerite to Sylvanas, who declared that it would change everything. While Sylvanas sent Bilgewater goblins to mine Azerite and research the mineral, Baine set up a meeting between Sylvanas and Magni Bronzebeard in Thunderbluff. Magni had asked Sylvanas to remove the goblins from Silithus and attempted to recruit the Horde healers in the mission to restore Azeroth from Sargeras' destruction. Sylvanas tasked Baine to organize the Horde's response in the healing efforts, but she prohibited cooperation with the Alliance and ordered Baine to cease all contact with King Anduin Wrynn. Much to the objections of the other Horde races, Sylvanas chose to maintain Gallywix's Azerite mining operations and investigations, citing its research to be invaluable to the Horde's efforts and that she will divulge the research when the moment was right.
Sylvanas traveled to the Gallywix Pleasure Palace to check on Gallywix's progress in researching Azerite and to spur his focus on creating Azerite weapons. Nathanos Blightcaller however, interrupted their meeting to relay Anduin Wrynn's missive concerning the proposal of the Gathering. Sylvanas' own family reunion had embittered her to reconciliation with the living, and Sylvanas herself didn't want her own people to lose their pride as Forsaken should they too be disappointed by rejection. Nathanos however, proposed she could use the Gathering to her advantage by publicly supporting it and either using the reconnection with their loved ones to motivate them to continue existing as undead and prolong the Forsaken's will to propagate, or use the hurt feelings from the reunion's failure to sway the Forsaken masses to be amenable to bloodlust and vengeance on the living. Sylvanas herself considered it an opportunity to gain Stormwind's trust and exploit it with betrayal. Seeing the benefits and after hearing Nathanos' opinion of the Desolate Council not being a threat, Sylvanas consented to the Gathering, but only with the Desolate Council members' sole participation and a small group of humans. Sylvanas and Nathanos returned to the Undercity, where she clarified her concerns and stipulated the conditions for the Gathering. She also did her best to sow doubt in the Forsaken and encouraged thoughts of their rejection. Sylvanas was certain the natural prejudices will dash any hopes of reconciliation with the living and discredit those sympathetic to the notion in the Desolate Council.
During the Gathering, King Anduin met with Sylvanas face to face to set the terms of the event, and he bluntly asked her if she intentionally betrayed his father during the Battle for the Broken Shore. Though shocked by Anduin's straightforwardness, she gave an honest answer, that the Burning Legion's numbers sealed Varian's fate regardless of the decision she made. Though the Gathering started off peaceful, Sylvanas caught wind of the defection of some of the Forsaken as it unfolded before her as she stood, watching, on Thoradin's Wall. In order to clarify if the Forsaken were indeed defecting, she signaled the recall of the Forsaken participants. However, some refused to heed the retreat. Shortly thereafter, one of her priests came to her stating Calia Menethil, heir to the throne of Lordaeron, was the reason for the defection. She then let loose her dark rangers on bats. Sylvanas ordered her dark rangers to kill all Forsaken present in the field, including those running back towards Thoradin's Wall. Sylvanas reasoned that the only Forsaken she trusted were those who were already broken and bitter by their experiences, while those that still had sympathies could not be permitted to fester their hope. Sylvanas herself personally murdered Calia Menethil right in front of Anduin and threatened to kill Anduin as well. She reasoned it would be her right, considering Anduin brought a usurper to cause sedition. Anduin however, called Sylvanas' bluff since she was not prepared to face the unrestrained ire of the Alliance, nor did she have the full support of the Horde. Leaving himself vulnerable, Anduin carried Calia's corpse back to Stromgarde Keep.
Sylvanas gathered the Horde leaders in the newly opened Orgrimmar Embassy in order to discuss new allies. Upon helping or securing the Highmountain Tauren and the Nightborne of Suramar, she accepted the pledges of loyalty from High Chieftain Mayla Highmountain and First Arcanist Thalyssra.
Sometime during the Blood War, Eitrigg traveled to the alternate Draenor to recruit the Mag'har orc clans that the Horde saved from Garrosh Hellscream's meddling and the Burning Legion's corruption. After Eitrigg and a Horde champion helped the Mag'har escape from the Lightbound, the Mag'har decides to make Azeroth their new home. Their leader, Overlord Geya'rah, speaks with Sylvanas and pledges the Mag'har's loyalty to the Horde.
Battle for Azeroth
War of the Thorns
Main article: War of the Thorns
Following the Gathering, Orgrimmar had been saturated with Alliance spies. Since it would be too costly for the Horde to uproot them all, Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner had chosen to tolerate their presence. One day, Sylvanas had summoned Varok Saurfang to a secret meeting in Grommash Hold. After Sylvanas assured Varok that her champion Nathanos was keeping this meeting private from Alliance spying, Sylvanas asked Varok to make a hypothetical battle plan on how to sack Stormwind City.
After evaluating all the scenarios he could think of, Varok concluded that the Horde would be unable to sack Stormwind City and any progress at doing so would be tentative at best. Sylvanas suggested Varok think of a more elaborate strategy with Stormwind's conquering as the final phase rather than the sole objective. Enraged by Sylvanas' warmongering, Varok finally questioned his warchief why she was eager to start a bloody war with the Alliance. Sylvanas rationalized that she believed that the Alliance and Horde will never forgive the transgressions they had committed against one another and that war was inevitable. Thus, the only way to ensure peace for the Horde was to dominate the Alliance in war and win it on their terms. When Varok suggested that the Horde should then be prepared to defend themselves for the next war instead of instigating it, Sylvanas countered by explaining that while Varok himself had shown that Stormwind City was seemingly impenetrable to conquering, the Siege of Orgrimmar showed that Orgrimmar was not; thus the Horde was more vulnerable to losing in a war than the Alliance. With Azerite undoubtedly changing warcraft, Sylvanas proposed that they take every opportunity to achieve victory and ensure lasting peace for future generations of the Horde. Varok came to agree with Sylvanas' sound reasoning but still could not fathom what strategy would be effective enough to sack Stormwind when they lack the logistics to maintain an invasion.
Sylvanas led Varok to the realization that the war with the Burning Legion had weakened both factions' navies and the deterrence of swift reprisal that enforced the stalemate between the Horde and Alliance was no longer feasible. With both the Alliance and Horde's navies diminished, they would be unable to transport troops and thus would be slow to project military power to reinforce distant war fronts. With such a weakness, the Horde could secure Kalimdor. Darnassus, the center of Alliance military power in Kalimdor, would be a feasible target to conquer; especially if the Horde took the Alliance by surprise. The cost, however, would be that their holdings in the Eastern Kingdoms would likely be susceptible to reprisal, especially Sylvanas' own capital, the Undercity.
Sylvanas, however, proposed to politically divide the Alliance by baiting the Kaldorei into demanding the Alliance prioritize the retaking of their homeland and thus dividing the Alliance's forces. The Alliance would lack the fleet nor the strength to retake Kalimdor and thus weaken or become politically fractured. Furthermore, holding Darnassus hostage would paralyze the Alliance from counterattacking as the night elves would not stand for their city being annihilated and thus create a divide between them and the Gilneans, who had lost their nation years ago and were not prioritized for military aid on that waterfront either. With such a political crisis, Anduin Wrynn would not be able to act and each Alliance nation will act in its own interest to defend themselves from a unified Horde. Varok came to the realization that was how they intended to defeat Stormwind, by politically carving each individual nation away from the Alliance and then dominating them into a surrender. However, Sylvanas was well aware that they can only divide the Alliance if the war to conquer Darnassus does not unite the Alliance against the Horde. That can only happen if the Horde wins in an honorable victory, which Sylvanas knows the Horde doesn't trust her to do. Thus, Sylvanas has authorized Saurfang to create the battle plans and execute their strategy.
To lure out the Alliance from Ashenvale, Sylvanas suggested duping the Alliance spies into believing a false narrative. Thus, Varok began planting misinformation and acting out an adversarial relationship with Sylvanas and Nathanos to make it seem as if he was priming the Horde to monopolize the Azerite in Silithus and was also bullying Sylvanas into endorsing his campaign. The Alliance took the bait; fearing the Horde was proliferating Azerite weapons, they sent a sizable night elf fleet to Silithus as deterrence. Tyrande Whisperwind traveled to Stormwind City to help the Alliance leadership plan the war, leaving only Malfurion Stormrage and his skeleton crew of night elf defenders for the Horde to contend with. Although Sylvanas' advisers saw this as a boon, Sylvanas seemed quite annoyed that only one Kaldorei leader would fall in the invasion. To scare the night elves into surrendering without creating a unifying atrocity for the Alliance to rally to, Varok suggested they bring many siege weapons with them. That way, the threat of raining death on Darnassus with impunity would deter the night elves in the city from resisting.
Sylvanas sought to capture the world tree Teldrassil because the Alliance would use it as a safe harbor to transport Azerite from Kalimdor to the Eastern Kingdoms, and she expected that Azerite to be used for weapons to attack Silvermoon and Undercity, and then turn to Kalimdor. By occupying Darnassus the Horde could control the flow of Azerite and the Alliance would not attack the city for fear of hurting the civilians. Knowing the night elves would resist them every step of the way, she also sought to kill Malfurion Stormrage and break their spirits.
While High Overlord Saurfang led the charge to secure Ashenvale, Sylvanas focused on hunting Malfurion Stormrage. Sylvanas clashed with Malfurion twice — once, when she interrupted a fight between Malfurion and Lorash Sunbeam and another when Sylvanas attacked Malfurion when he had trapped Varok Saurfang in Astranaar. Despite her efforts, Malfurion had managed to elude her. As Sylvanas hunted Malfurion, she could not help but muse that the war was turning the night elves cruel against the Horde but used their hatred in such pitiful ways. Sylvanas contemplated that war was meant to transform civilizations into doing the unthinkable, and since Malfurion refused to change accordingly, she believed it will inevitably lead to his downfall. Sylvanas also pondered how Saurfang had been wounded by war but she believed he had fooled himself into believing his sense of honor would help him cope with it. Saurfang would be a dangerous enemy to Sylvanas if his honor or the Horde would ever be taken from him, although she would prefer it if he'd just rid himself of such foolish notions such as honor and stand by her side regardless of the morality of her actions. Sylvanas knew if Saurfang refused to side with her, she'd have to kill him.
After securing Ashenvale, the Horde turned its attention to Darkshore. When the Horde invaded Darkshore however, many of their men were incinerated by the wall of wisps Malfurion had erected. To compound to their troubles, the night elven fleet had returned and were aiding in the Kaldorei defense. The night elves' defenses were enough to halt the Horde's advance, and Sylvanas and Saurfang knew they needed to act quickly before Stormwind's reinforcements arrive to stop the invasion. Thus Sylvanas and Saurfang came up with a plan to divide the wisps' attention on multiple fronts, thus diminishing their effectiveness. Saurfang and Nathanos Blightcaller took a group to scale the mountains in Felwood and distract the wisps to the north. Once the wisp wall dispersed, Sylvanas led the main Horde army to breach the wisp barrier. In Darkshore, Sylvanas tasked Morka Bruggu to lead a group of Horde infiltrators to commandeer some night elven ships from the night elven fleet. Meanwhile, Sylvanas faced off against Malfurion Stormrage, who told her she will not be forgiven for her atrocities; Sylvanas responded she was well aware.
Sylvanas and Malfurion dueled each other on the shores of Darkshore. Before their fight could be concluded, Saurfang interrupted and had thrown his axe at Malfurion, wounding him with a dishonorable blow. Although Saurfang was upset that he had done something ignoble, Sylvanas commended Saurfang for his sneak attack and gave him the honor of finishing Malfurion off. When Saurfang returned to her, however, she was displeased to learn that Varok did not kill Malfurion and that Tyrande had intervened to save him. Sylvanas was so enraged that she was considering killing Saurfang, but she stopped herself when she thought it would be an inopportune time. She walked away from Saurfang and Nathanos' bickering so she could cool off her rage and contemplate about this turn of events. Sylvanas spotted a Sentinel leader off in the distance that was still fighting hard — even with other arrow shafts buried in her body — and felled her. Sylvanas pondered how Malfurion's survival would give hope to the Alliance and that would eventually heal the wounds they inflicted on them. Sylvanas even considered that Elune herself may have played a part in ruining her plans. The Banshee Queen seethed at the thought that forces beyond the Alliance would rise up to oppose Sylvanas’ true objective.
After securing Darkshore, Sylvanas gave Nathanos Blightcaller and Varok Saurfang orders to secure the beach and prepare to invade Teldrassil. Sylvanas noticed a gravely wounded Delaryn Summermoon, who then explained that only innocents remained in Teldrassil and that Sylvanas's war was one of hatred and rage. She attempted to remind Sylvanas of her former life as a defender of her people but Sylvanas whispered to the ranger that she remembered herself to be a fool. Sylvanas experienced a flashback of her inability to stop the Scourge's invasion of Quel'thalas and stated that now Delaryn will understand her beliefs through her own failure. Sylvanas explained that life was pain and that hope fails, telling Delaryn not to grieve, for she would soon join her loved ones. Delaryn explained that she grieved for Sylvanas, for she had made life her enemy, and that was a war she could never win; that she could kill her people, but she could never kill hope. In response to Delaryn's defiance, Sylvanas turned Delaryn's head to gaze at Teldrassil in her final moments, then gave Nathanos the order to burn Teldrassil, to which he and the rest of the Horde present complied. As the Horde catapults besieged Teldrassil, Sylvanas watched the World Tree burn.
Saurfang roared at Sylvanas and scolded her for her lack of honor and the danger she put the Horde in. Sylvanas however, was calm and was already proceeding with planning the defense of Undercity. When Varok accused Sylvanas of damning the Horde for a thousand generations, Sylvanas retorted that this was a war and a failure of his own making. Darnassus was never the objective; the goal was to create a wedge that would split the Alliance apart. Sylvanas needed a weapon that would destroy hope and Varok gave that up to spare Malfurion. The genocide in Teldrassil is Sylvanas' way of remedying Saurfang's blunder. Sylvanas believes that the Alliance will now fight in pain and that will give them a chance at victory.
Battle for Lordaeron
During the Alliance's siege on Capital City, Warchief Sylvanas contemplated the cycles of hatred and ever changing alliances the Horde has to live by. She believes that sharing the world has made the Horde weak and that they have forgotten what has made them strong. The Horde forces are weakening from the constant siege barrages whittling away their fortifications and Alliance range assaults. As the Alliance closes in, Sylvanas makes a daring maneuver to infiltrate one of the mobile siege towers and single-handedly destroys it. After which, she turns into her banshee form, killing several Alliance soldiers by phasing through them, and ending her rampage with a "For the Horde" battle cry. This display of strength inspires the Horde's forces to push back the Alliance. The Alliance's forces began wavering until King Anduin Wrynn conjured a dome of light to reinvigorate his forces, while Sylvanas and her forces could only watch on. With the Alliance forces regrouped, both the Alliance and Horde charged at each other to resume the battle.
As the Alliance soldiers began to gain ground on Lordaeron, Sylvanas ordered her Azerite War Machine to destroy the Alliance's siege towers. When the war machine was destroyed by Anduin, Sylvanas ordered her troops to deploy the Blight on the field, much to High Overlord Saurfang's protest, as there were both Alliance and Horde troops who would be caught in the blast. Nevertheless, the Blight was deployed, and Sylvanas raised those who died on either faction as skeletal minions to push the Alliance back.
However, the timely arrival of Jaina Proudmoore turns the tide of battle back in the Alliance's favor and Sylvanas is forced to pull back the Horde's forces. She is then confronted by Saurfang who criticizes her for her ultimate endgame calling it an 'honourless travesty'. Sylvanas responds that honor means nothing to a corpse and that she believes this Horde is worth saving while telling him to go die his 'warrior's death' and that she may end up raising him to serve her in undeath.
Sylvanas along with Baine and Nathanos then enter Lordaeron's throne room where Baine then confronts Sylvanas over abandoning Saurfang with Sylvanas simply replying that it was the death he wanted and that he could either go join him or tend to the living instead. Sylvanas then turns to Nathanos and hands him her bow; telling him to do what must be done, she then comforts him and tells her champion to go. Alone, Sylvanas then sits on the throne, lounging while waiting for the Alliance to come. Anduin Wrynn, accompanied by Genn Greymane, Alleria Windrunner and Jaina Proudmoore then enter the throne room with Anduin declaring that she has led the Horde without honor and that the battle is over; all while Sylvanas defiantly mocks Anduin and his allies. When she is given the ultimatum of surrendering or dying, Sylvanas confidently rose from the throne and strides towards Anduin; all while his followers watch her ready to strike should she try anything. Sylvanas then simply tells Anduin that he's won nothing and then suddenly shifts to her banshee form; letting off a scream that temporarily incapacitates the Alliance leaders. Multiple explosions of blight set off as she flys out through the ceiling. She then lands on the Horde airship where Nathanos returns her bow to her. Sylvanas then watches Lordaeron as it is completely covered in blight. The Alliance leaders have escaped, however. Sylvanas simply smirks at them as she and the other Horde leaders fly away.
|Ranger-General of Silvermoon|
|Sylvanas Windrunner||Succeeded by|
|Ruler of the Forsaken|
|Sylvanas Windrunner||Succeeded by|
|Warchief of the Horde|
|Sylvanas Windrunner||Succeeded by|