The Warcraft Lore series is a collection of articles delving deep into the history of many important Warcraft figures and events. Since World of Warcraft’s story is ongoing in the famous MMORPG and in some new novel publications, I will try to constantly update these articles. My main sources are Warcraft books and comics, Warcraft 1 / 2 /3, World of Warcraft, WoWWiki, WoWpedia, YouTube and some theory-crafting sites. The following article will inform you about the Scarlet Crusade.
Because the story of the Scarlet Crusade is really big, I will separate it into two smaller parts. The first part contains the Prologue, the creation of the Knights of the Silver Hand, the Birth of the Scarlet Crusade, the Stratholme Incident and the Fall of the Highlord.
The second part will feature the Evolution of the Scarlet Crusade, the Scarlet Enclave, Decay of the Order, Sally Whitemane and the Four Horsemen.
Let me know in the comments about any errors or inconsistencies you may find. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!
Prologue (Pre Warcraft Era)
The Scarlet Crusade is a fanatical religious sect that evolved from the Knights of the Silver Hand. Their main goal is the extermination of Undead from the Eastern Kingdoms. The main Scarlet Crusade’s bases are the Scarlet Monastery in Tirisfal Glades, a part of Hearthglen and the Scarlet Bastion in Stratholme. There is also an expansion of the Scarlet Crusade in Northrend called the Scarlet Onslaught. Since the fall of the Lich King, the Scarlet Crusade has experienced a downfall, losing many of its holdings in the now-recovering Plaguelands to the Argent Crusade.
The banner of the Scarlet Crusade
Knights of the Silver Hand (Warcraft 2 Era)
When Stormwind fell to the Orcish Horde, the Archbishop Faol realized that faith alone is not enough to combat the Horde. He asked King Terenas, Arthas’ father, for permission to make a new elite squad of fighters, that were loyal to the Church. Terenas agreed and Faol proceeded to train four of his top clerics (Uther Lightbringer, Saidan Dathrohan, Tirion Fordring, Turalyon) in the art of war. Thus, he created four warriors with both the gift of Light and martial prowess. The first Paladins were born. Gavinrad the Dire was the fifth Paladin to the roster, and he was recommended from the leader of the allied forces, Anduin Lothar.
The first four Paladins, Uther Lightbringer, Tirion Fordring, Saidan Dathrohan, Turalyon
The Birth of the Scarlet Crusade (Pre Warcraft 3 Era)
During the Third War, some Paladins met at an inn in Southshore (can be seen in the Escape from Durnholde dungeon in World of Warcraft) to discuss about a new dark alien crystal that they found in the land. The Paladins decided to combine their holy powers in an attempt to cleanse the artifact. After many hours, the dark crystal was finally purified into what would later become the core of the legendary sword, Ashbringer. By that time, the Paladin Abbendis had already created a fanatical brotherhood inside the ranks of the Knights of the Silver Hand.
The legendary holy sword, Ashbringer
Originally, the Scarlet Crusade started as a group of survivors of the Silver Hand who regrouped in Hearthglen after an offer from Tirion’s Fordring son, Taelan Fordring to Abbendis. Highlord Alexandros Mograine was elected as the leader of this new crusade and he was given the holy sword Ashbringer. The Scarlet Crusade began by slaying and burning undead camps in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms. Alexandros was leading the attacks, killing several strong undead creatures in the process. Such were his acts that he and his weapon quickly became legends.
The Stratholme Incident (Post Warcraft 3 Era)
After Arthas took up the mantle of the Lich King and Sylvanas rebelled against him by creating the Forsaken, Abbendis decided to completely eradicate the undead threat from the Plaguelands. He gave Isillien the rank of the Grand Inquisitor while he led an attack in the undead city of Stratholme. During the attack on the city, one of the first Paladins, Saidan Dathrohan was seperated from his brethren. The dreadlord Balnazzar seized the opportunity and attacked Saidan.
Saidan was strong but he was no match for the dreadlord. Balnazzar killed the holy man and possessed his body, determined to destroy and corrupt the Scarlet Crusade from the inside. In addition, the attack on Stratholme failed, and the crusaders were forced to retreat back to Tyr’s Hand. In the same time, they built a huge monastery to serve as their base of operations in the Eastern Kingdoms, the Scarlet Monastery. Another paladin of the order, Lord Maxwell Tyrosus proposed that Night Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes should also be able to join the Scarlet Crusade. However, Abbendis refused stating that the “lesser” races have nothing to do with the fate of Lordaeron.
Balnazzar confronts Saidan Dathrohan
Soon, Balnazzar began manipulating the organization to serve the Burning Legion’s ends. However, there was a huge threat that he had to eliminate. Alexandros Mograine was killing countless of the Scourge’s soldiers and the dreadlord was afraid to face him in a one versus one duel. He started talking a lot with Alexandros’s son Renault, playing on his desire for approval and recognition. The cunning dreadlord managed to make Renault hate his father and envy his brother, Darion Morgraine. After many weeks of manipulation, Renault was ready to betray his father.
The Fall of the Highlord (Post Warcraft 3 Era)
One day, Renault led his father and High Inquisitor Fairbanks into a mission in Stratholme. There, they were ambushed by the Scourge’s forces. Alexandros and Fairbanks fought for hours, eventually eliminating the undead assassins. After the fight, Alexandros dropped the Ashbringer and sat on the ground to regain his strength. Renault seized the opportunity, grabbed the holy blade and stabbed his father in the back, before fleeing. Fairbanks saw everything and he immediately returned to the Scarlet Monastery to warn the others about Renault’s betrayal.
Alexandros Morgraine, Ashbringer in hand, on top of a pile of undead corpses in Stratholme
When Fairbanks arrived in the Scarlet Monastery, he was confronted by Saidan Dathrohan, who claimed that Fairbanks had lost his mind and that he had been tainted by the undead. Fairbanks tried to prove his innocence to the Scarlet Crusade but eventually he has executed, his body thrown in a secret room inside the Cathedral. This execution made many of the order to believe that their comrades had fallen from their once-noble purpose of eliminating the undead threat. Therefore, they created their own group, the Argent Dawn. Those that remained formally named themselves the Scarlet Crusade.
Darion Morgraine (World of Warcraft Vanilla Era)
On the day of Fairbank’s execution, Alexandros’ youngest son, Darion Morgraine, left the Scarlet Crusade and joined the Argent Dawn. After a huge adventure in Naxxramas (this will be a separate article in the future because it’s a pretty long story) he managed to reclaim his father’s sword, the Ashbringer. Darion returned to the Scarlet Monastery to meet his brother. When Renault noticed the holy blade on Darion’s back, he was terrified and attacked his little brother immediately. However, a shadow from the blade coalesced into the form of Alexandros’ spirit and stabbed Renault in the back, taking revenge for the betrayal that Renault had committed.
A young Darion Morgraine
Hated from the Scarlet Crusade, Darion picked his father’s sword and forever left the monastery. Some days later, High General Abbendis was mortally wounded by the undead while defending Hearthglen. Reinforcments from the Scarlet Monastery, led by High Inquisitor Whitemane, saved the city but it was already too late for Abbendis. Taelan Fordring was appointed as the next commander of the Scarlet Crusade.
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