Lore Spotlight: A Brief History of Anduin Wryn, the Boy King
The first eight bosses of Normal and Heroic versions of the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid opened this week, culminating in the encounter against Anduin Wrynn. In this fight, our goal is not really to kill the boss, but to save him.
Controlled by Domination magic, Anduin is being forced to aid the Jailer's plan to remake reality. As time runs out to stop him, the champions of Azeroth must make a difficult choice: defeat the young king to save the cosmos, or risk everything to restore his soul.
But who is Anduin, and why is it so important to us that we save him?
The Boy King
Anduin is the son and only child of King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind. By the time he was 10 years old, he had already been named King - his mother, Tiffin, had died in a tragic accident amidst civil unrest, and his father, Varian, had gone missing.
The boy king ruled with the help of a Regent, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, who in turn was often advised by the noblewoman Lady Katrana Prestor. A dutiful child, Anduin took a keen interest in his responsibilities, and was much loved by the people of Stormwind, who widely agreed that he would grow to be a shrewd leader one day.
Return of the King
Unknown to Anduin, Varian's disappearance was tied to a plot hatched by the Black Dragon Onyxia. In fact, Lady Katrana Prestor was Onyxia in disguise. She organized the kidnapping of Varian, and then used magic to split him into two - a strong-willed version, who she attempted to have killed, and a weak-willed version, who she intended to control.
When the weak-willed Varian returned to Stormwind, Anduin was overjoyed, but he realized something was wrong almost straight away. Varian seemed vain and selfish, unconcerned with Stormwind's problems. Though still a child, Anduin played a vital role in uncovering Onyxia's plot - alerting King Magni Bronzebeard of the Dwarves to the change, insisting on Varian's disappearance be investigated further, and constantly pushing his father to take his duties seriously. Eventually, it was a hug from Anduin that helped the weak-willed Varian regain enough of his senses to realize Lady Prestor was involved, igniting the series of events that ended in defeating Onyxia and rejoining the two Varians so that they were once again made whole.
In a world torn apart by war, Anduin earned a reputation for his love of peace. He attended more than one peace summit, and came to spend a great deal of time in Theramore with Lady Jaina Proudmoore, who was like an aunt to him. He made many friends, not only among the Alliance but in the Horde as well, and developed a particularly close friendship with the Tauren Baine Bloodhoof.
Later, Anduin was tasked with the duty of acting as a Stormwind diplomat to Ironforge. It was while he was in this Dwarven city that Ironforge was taken by the Dark Iron Dwarves, lead in this invasion by Moira Thaurissan. Anduin was held as a hostage, but with the help of a hearthstone given to him by Jaina, he escaped. However, when he heard that his father was planning to kill Moria, he returned to stop him. Moira did have a rightful claim to the Ironforge throne, and Anduin argued that diplomacy and kindness was a far better way forward than revenge. As a result of Anduin's intervention, the Council of Three Hammers was formed, and futher bloodshed between feuding Dwarven clans avoided.
While Varian was a Warrior and often controlled by his temper, Anduin's love of peace drew him to the path of a Priest. For some time, the difference between father and son began to cause a certain amount of distance between them, and Anduin even left Stormwind to spend some time with the Draenei of the Exodar, to study the Light under the Prophet Velen.
Anduin's choices and continued love of peace may have caused many to underestimate him, but he proved himself during a visit to Stormwind, when a group of Twilight's Hammer assassins made it into the city and mortally wounded his father. Refusing to accept Varian's death. Anduin achieved one of the few canonical ressurections - an incredible feat for any adult Priest, nevermind a teenager.
Though Varian may not have always understood Anduin, he began to grow to respect his son, and then to learn from him. Ever struggling with the wolf within, Varian came to begin to see the wisdom of peace and patience rather than rash action.
A little before the events of Pandaria, Anduin had a compass made for his father as a birthday gift - his own portrait inside. Varian kept this compass with him for the rest of his life, as one of his dearest possessions.
Amidst growing tensions between the Alliance and Garrosh Hellscream's Horde, Anduin went missing in the newly discovered continent of Pandaria after his ship was attacked by Horde. Though a distraught Varian sent Alliance special agents to find and rescue his son, Anduin once again showed his own strength of will. He had learned about the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and wished to stay, so that he could further study the healing powers of the Vale's sacred pools. When SI:7 agents tried to take him home anyway, he used mind control on them to get away.
From the start, Anduin's time in Pandaria was eventful. He studied with the August Celestial Chi-Ji and proved his worthiness to the August Celestial Xuen. He was captured by Hozen and Horde, and each time escaped. He helped in battles against Sha and Mogu. When Varian arrived to continue the war effort against the Horde, Anduin worked alongside him as both an advisor and a diplomat.
Divine Bell & Near Death
When the Horde obtained a powerful artifact called the Divine Bell, Anduin took on the task of researching a way to counter its power, eventually learning about and assembling an artifact called the Harmonic Mallet. Later, a confrontation occurred between the Alliance Prince and the Horde Warchief when Anduin tried to convince Garrosh not to use the Bell. Garrosh, seeing the artifact as a way to erase weakness from the Horde, used it anyway - releasing chaotic powers that began to infect his own Orcs with Sha. Anduin used the Harmonic Mallet, stunning Garrosh and causing the Bell to crack. Infuriated, Garrosh shattered the Bell - which fell on Anduin, crushing him. Believing the Prince to be dead, Garrosh gloated about how weak the Alliance must be to send "children" against him before leaving.
Though Anduin survived, his bones were shattered, and they would never fully heal. Later, Anduin would come to realize the pain acts as a warning - flaring up when he is cruel or in danger - a fact that he attributed to the guidance of the Light.
Friendship with Wrathion
It was during his recovery when Anduin developed a relationship with the Black Dragon Wrathion. The two were often seen debating politics and morality in the Tavern of the Mist - with Anduin steadfastly taking the more ethical and peaceful stance, resolutely challenging Wrathion even when it seemed to anger him.
Though they fundamentally disagreed on many of their major points of discussion, and though Anduin clearly never trusted Wrathion (a stance that Wrathion agreed was wise), a certain amount of affection did seem to develop between them.
Garrosh was eventually overthrown as Horde leader and put on trial for his war crimes. Anduin was called as a witness, and in his statement, made it clear that he wanted revenge. Later, Garrosh asked to meet him. Despite the pain Garrosh had put him through, Anduin agreed, and he visited Garrosh several times throughout the trial, answering his questions about destiny and the Light and trying to understand Garrosh's perspective.
During this time, Sylvanas Windrunner and her still-living sister Vereesa reconciled for the first time since Sylvanas's undeath, bonding over their shared hatred for Garrosh - Vereesa's husband had died in his attack on Theramore. Not trusting in the trial, the two hatched a plot to poison Garrosh - and successfully poisoned his last meal. Anduin passed Vereesa on his way to visit Garrosh, and in a moment of impulse, she told him of the plan. Anduin found Garrosh even more confrontational than usual, and his ethics were tested by Garrosh's harsh words and threats to the people of Stormwind, but ultimately, his moral code won out and he stopped Garrosh from eating the poisoned meal, knocking it from his hands. Garrosh responded by breaking Anduin's arm, before it became clear that the meal would have killed him.
Afterwards, Anduin asked that Garrosh's legs be unchained so that he could have the dignity of standing as a warrior during the final verdict.
Ultimately, Garrosh escaped justice at the trial, Fearing the growing threat of the Legion, and seeing Garrosh's warmongering as needed strength, Wrathion had conspired with the Bronze Dragon Kairozdormu to send Garrosh back in time to an alternate universe version of Draenor. Wrathion's plans ultimately failed - Garrosh's Iron Horde was defeated, and Garrosh himself killed in a Mak'gora against Thrall. Ironically, it was the Gul'dan of alternative Draenor that unleashed the Legion invasion on Azeroth, something that wouldn't have happened if Wrathion hadn't intervened - in other words, Wrathion's attempts to stop the Legion inadvertently caused their invasion.
The Legion did invade, and Varian died in the Battle for Broken Shore, leaving Anduin both devastated and suddenly thrust into the responsibility of leading the Alliance in a war against one of the most dangerous opponents they had ever faced. The burden of leadership weighed heavily on Anduin - Varian had been an incredibly strong warrior to the very end, and Anduin struggled to believe he could ever measure up. When an Alliance adventurer found Varian's compass and returned it to Anduin, it seemed to break his heart. Between his grief and his own sense of inadequacy, Anduin grew more and more despondent until finally, he decided to travel to the Broken Shore himself.
Here, Anduin came across one of the split pieces of Shalamayne, Varian's sword, which had lain dormant since his death. Picking it up, Anduin saw a vision of his father, and asked him directly what he should do. Varian's reply was simple, "What a king must do". In that moment, Anduin finally accepted his role, and the sword began to glow. When this sword was wielded by Varian, it glowed red - as an indicator of his strength as a Warrior, but in Anduin's hands, it glowed the golden light of a Priest. Anduin would go on to find the other half of of the sword and weild Shalamayne as a whole.
Before the Storm
On a visit to the Priest order hall, Netherlight Temple, Anduin was struck by the way Priests of different allegiances seemed willing to put aside their differences and work together. In particular, the living and undead - Anduin was specifically affected by the now Forsaken Alonsus Faol, who had been an Alliance hero in life, and from whom Anduin could feel not threat of evil or danger. His experiences led Anduin to decide to try set up a Gathering between some living humans and their Forsaken relatives.
This was a groundbreaking idea - and one that many believed to be foolishly idealistic. Anduin pressed on with the project, reaching out to Sylvanas Windrunner - who agreed, but only based on some very severe conditions, which Anduin agreed to.
At first, the Gathering seemed to go well, but it ended tragically. When Sylvanas ordered the Forsaken to return, some hesitated. In an impulsive decision, Calia Menethil tried to offer Forsaken sanctuary with the Alliance. Sylvanas responded swiftly and mercilessly, ordering her dark rangers to kill all participants. The Forsaken participating in the Gathering were all slaugthered, along with Calia.
Back at Netherlight Temple, Anduin, along with Alonsus Faol and the Naaru Saa'ra, Anduin took part in a Light ritual never before seen on Azeroth and helped raise Calia Menethil - transforming her into the first, and currently only, Lightforged Undead.
During this time, tensions were once again growing between the Alliance and the Horde, supposedly over the discovery of Azerite. Anduin, convinced Sylvanas had purposefully manipulated events at the Gathering to her own advantage, came to believe she was truly irredeemable.
Loss of Idealism
The Gathering, and it's failure, was a significant moment for Anduin's character. From early on, Anduin has been steadfastly ethical to the point of idealistic. He has held onto this even when it meant speaking up for and protecting those who have harmed him - from intervening to save his kidnapper, Moira, to saving the life of Garrosh, the same Orc who had crushed his bones. This has always made him a good advisor and an excellent diplomat, but this particular incident seems to have made him question this approach as a king.
With the Gathering, Anduin had attempted something idealistic. It was a revolutionary idea that could have had an incredible, far-reaching positive impact if it had succeeded, but it was also a gamble - and when it went wrong, Anduin didn't just end up with a broken arm. The Forsaken who had put their trust in his plan had been slaughtered.
The Fourth War
In the war against Sylvanas, Anduin continued to develop and grow as a king, while also visibly struggling with the weight of his responsibilities. In particular, he was blindsided by Teldrassil, and blamed himself for not stopping Sylvanas sooner. On the Battlefield, he no longer limited himself to the role of healer, but would fight as well, wielding Shalymayne. He started to rely quite heavily on the advice of Genn Greymane, someone who he might have seen as too hot-headed and aggressive before. He even turned diplomacy to more aggressive tasks - making allies specifically to help with the war, and encouraging Horde efforts to rebel against their Warchief.
Sylvanas eventually abandoned the Horde, but a new enemy had appeared - the old God N'Zoth. When Wrathion arrived with advice to help the Alliance face this threat, Anduin punched his old friend - blaming him for Varian's death. Ultimately, however, Anduin listened, and through measures that included co-operation between the Alliance and Horde, N'Zoth was defeated.
With Sylvanas gone, and to prevent further bloodshed, Anduin made the decision to agree to an armistice between the Alliance and Horde. However, not everyone in the Alliance was on board. In particular, Tyrande Wisperwind and the Night Elves outright refused to accept any end to war. Genn Greymane also believed the peace would only prove to be temporary. Anduin continued to show strain under the burden of his responsibilities, in particular where he felt he had failed his people and the Alliance.
At this time, Anduin appointed Turalyon as Lord Commander of the Alliance forces, tasking him and Alleria with finding Sylvanas and bringing her to justice. When Jaina discovered Turalyon and Alleria were making the use of torture, she reported it to Anduin, expecting him to be as shocked as she was, and to put a stop to it. Instead, Anduin cited events like Teldrassil, and how he was willing to do whatever it took to bring the murderers to justice - even if it meant torture. Once again, this showed a significant change in Anduin's character. This would have been unthinkable to him before.
After receiving reports that Dark Rangers had been spotted in Zandalar, Anduin sent Mathias Shaw of the SI:7 to investigate. Shaw wound up being captured by the Zandalari, who sent him - along with Sira Moonwarden, a former Warden raised in service of Sylvanas Windrunner, to the Alliance as a gift. Anduin commanded for Sira to be sent to be dealt with by Tyrande, but not before interrogating her himself about Sylvanas. When she taunted him, Anduin became angry, and, for the first time, showed signs of Shadow magic. This seemed to shock him as much as those who witnessed it.
Torture and Sylvanas
In the opening for Shadowlands, Anduin was kidnapped by Mawsworn along with several other leaders. In his absence, Turalyon took up the position of Regent of Stormwind.
Most of the leaders were rescued fairly swiftly - though they still bore the marks of the torture they had suffered, and explained how time stretched out in the Maw so that even a short time felt like an eternity.
Anduin, however, received personal attention from Sylvanas herself. In between his torture, she visited him often, trying to debate him into joining the Jailer's cause. Once more, Anduin showed his strength of character, resolutely challenging Sylvanas even when under the most intense pressure and pain - and his words seemed to have an effect on her. Finally, the Jailer commanded that Anduin be Dominated, and had Sylvanas use Shalamayne, now turned into the mournblade Kingsmourne, to do it.
The Dominated Anduin was then used to attack the Archon and steal her sigil, though we caught a glimse of his horror at his own actions when he did it. We also started to see Sylvanas showing clear signs of discomfort and regret - specifically seeming to regret Anduin's treatment.
Later, we learned that Anduin sometimes went through periods of control and self-awareness. During one of these moments, he imbued Varian's compass with a memory of a conversation between Sylvanas and himself, and he dropped this compass just before following the Jailer through his portal into Zereth Mortis. The conversation showed Anduin speaking about the effects of Domination - how he felt hollow and empty, with everything he once was being consumed by darkness. When Sylvanas tries to insist the sacrifice will be worth it to break the cycle of life and death, Anduin challenges her once more, reminding her that it would still be too late for them, they're already lost.
We know that Anduin got through to Sylvanas. She finally turned on the Jailer, and has since helped us in the Sanctum of Domination raid - specifically with the intention of saving Anduin from Domination before it's too late.
know the outcome of the fight. We rescue Anduin, with a little help from the spirits of Varian and Saurfang.
Learn More About That in Our Cinematic Analysis for the Anduin Raid Finale
What we don't know yet is exactly how this entire experience will affect Anduin in the future.
Anduin was already struggling and changing long before he was captured by Sylvanas's Mawsworn. He went from a pure-hearted idealist to an over-burdened king willing to authorize torture. While Sylvanas was unable to convince him of the Jailer's plan, that doesn't mean we got that pure-hearted idealist back. Nor does it mean he's likely to show himself entirely unaffected by the time that he spent in the Maw.
At some point, Shadowlands is going to end, and Anduin is going to have to return to Azeroth, where he is expected to take the throne that Turalyon has been keeping warm for him. Even if that occurs without a hitch, his responsibilities as king was something Anduin was already struggling with before he went through the sort of torture usually reserved for only the most irredeemable souls in the afterlife.
One thing is for certain - Even though Anduin may be free, we're unlikely to find him completely unchanged.
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