Questions About Sylvanas' Involvement in the Wrathgate Finally Answered
Ever since it happened, the Wrathgate has been a source of great controversy. One question has always been about Sylvanas' involvement - how much did she know, and was she behind it all along?
World of Warcraft: Sylvanas
, the new novel by Christie Golden, finally answers this question.
In a 2018 interview, Alex Afrasiabi (of
Cosby Suite infamy
) made the claim that
the Wrathgate was under Sylvanas' orders
. While he said this merely in passing - as an example that Sylvanas' character development wasn't going "off the rails" - it caused a great deal of controversy at the time, as this had never been officially stated before. The
novel does not technically contradict this claim. However, by showing exactly what happened, it does portray it in a slightly different light.
During the novel, Grand Apothecary Putress approaches Sylvanas with an experimental weapon that he has been working on - something that can be used against both the living and the undead: Blight. Sylvanas agrees to allow him the space and resources he needs, including both human and Forsaken test subjects - though of the Forsaken, she orders only "criminals and the disloyal who deserved such a fate" be used.
Once the war in Northrend begins, Sylvanas gives Putress an order to use Blight specifically if he has a chance of destroying the Lich King, emphasizing that he must not hesitate should this opportunity present itself. As she gives this order, she notices a flicker in Putress' eyes - hinting at the way he would choose to go on to interpret this order.
"We do not know when fortune might smile upon us. We must be ready as soon as possible. And remember--you must not, under any circumstances, hesitate to deploy the blight if you have a chance at destroying the Lich King."
She rarely glimpsed his eyes, hidden as they were behind the long mask he wore, but she saw a sudden flicker, as if he had heard something of particular interest.
Of course, we saw for ourselves what happened next in-game.
During the war against the Lich King, the Alliance and Horde, having put aside their differences for the sake of the war effort, planned a combined assault on the Wrathgate which, if successful, would provide direct entry into Icecrown.
The assault, lead by Bolvar Fordragon of the Alliance and Dranosh Saurfang of the Horde, seemed to go well at first. Having cleared a way to the fortress' mighty gates, Bolvar issued a challenge, calling on Arthas to come out and face the armies of the living. The gates open and the Lich King emerged, deflecting an attack from Dranosh and killing him easily, before absorbing his soul into Frostmourne. Bolvar promised that the Lich King would be made to pay, but while Arthas was still responding, he was interrupted by an explosion, as Blight erupted nearby.
On the cliffs above, Grand Apothecary Putress revealed himself, laughing and delivering a now-infamous speech about the Forsaken getting revenge before unleashing Blight on the battlefield.
Grand Apothecary Putress: Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? Behold now, the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken.
The Lich King says: Sylvanas...
Grand Apothecary Putress: Death to the Scourge, and death to the living!
Many died, though the Lich King, who believed the attack was organized by Sylvanas, managed to escape. Only the arrival of the Red Dragonflight, whose flames burned away the Blight, prevented the area from becoming permanently infected. Their flames also saved Bolvar's life, though they also left him permanently scarred.
Grand Apothecary Putress: Now all can see this is the hour of the Forsaken.
Since it's true Sylvanas did order Putress to take any opportunity to use Blight on the Lich King, it can be said he acted on her orders - however, it's worth noting her orders never included the phrase "vengeance of the Forsaken", and that, by delivering his speech first, Putress did in fact hesitate - against Sylvanas' orders - which may have contributed to the fact that the Lich King escaped the assault.
After this incident, it was quickly revealed Putress had conspired with the Dreadlord Varimathras to betray Sylvanas and take control of the Undercity, and Sylvanas barely escaped with her life. The novel shows us Sylvanas learning about the Wrathgate for the first time. She's horrified.
Hollow laughter, far too familiar, echoed in the stone room. "Ah, Dark Lady," Putress said in a gleeful voice, "my blight was quite succesful--and you did insist that I use it when I had the chance."
There it was. "Then you have done well. Why all the theatrics, though? If Arthas is slain by your blight, then we should celebrate. You will be a hero of the Horde."
"I fear that will be... problematic," Putress continued. "You see... I'm afraid there was some... spillage. Dranosh had a nasty accident with a runeblade, Bolvar developed a bit of a cough--as did a few hundred others. And Arthas left the party early."
Cold horror seeped through her, despite the danger of her present situation. "Putress... what have you--"
Later, Sylvanas makes it clear that, had Arthas died to the Blight, she would have considered the Wrathgate to be worth it.
Putress and Varimathras had execcuted a coup and started a war with a single, horrifying, grand gesture. Sylvanas was reeling. In the span of a few moments, it seemed that everything she had accomplished or had hope to accomplish had been snatched away, like a toy from an unsuspecting child.
Arthas had escaped.
What should have been her greatest, most satisfying moment was instead stolen--twisted and used against her, against the Horde, and against the Alliance. In this one act, Putress had, instead of destroying Arthas--with quite possibly the only thing that could have killed him--slain those of the Horde and the Alliance who had chosen to fight together.
Sylvanas knew that, had Putress indeed been successful in killing Arthas, she would ahve counted the lives lost at the Wrathgate worth it. Sacrifices must be made if Arthas was to be stopped. She allowed herself to believe that those who died this day would have deemed it worthy, too. Every single soldier in both armies were ready to die to stop the Lich King.
So there you have it. Sylvanas did technically give the order that lead to the Wrathgate - though never as part of some vengeance of the Forsaken, and the incident as it played out was in part due to Putress' own agenda. Sylvanas also did regret the Wrathgate itself, including the fact that it led to further conflict between the Alliance and Horde - but she would also have considered it a worthwhile sacrifice if Arthas had died.
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