It is a tragic story. A young man, full of promise – if perhaps burdened with expectation – rises to a position of authority amongst his people. He may be a warrior or a scholar, but he is blessed with cunning and charisma; he respected and admired by those he leads, and the people seek his guidance eagerly. His motivations – at least at first – are simple in concept, if more complex in execution: protect those who depend on him. See his lands flourish and prosper. Become a better man than his father.
But in pursuing these goals, the young man loses sight of the reason he chases them in the first place. He makes small sacrifices for the greater good – and then greater sacrifices, for the increasingly lesser good. Invariably this young man is too foolish – too inexperienced, perhaps, or too emotionally invested – to recognize when his sacrifices outweigh the benefits. He makes the best decisions he can in the moment he is confronted with a choice. He always acts with the best of intentions… and paves his own road with them, as well. Passionate leader that our young man is, those weak of will or personality of their own follow his banner into madness willingly – and powerful leader that he is, those who oppose him are swept away.
He is not irredeemable, not at first. But one day something happens. He destroys a town, or he bargains with a demon. He kills a man. One day he makes a choice. And in doing so, he destroys himself.
After that day he is no longer the man he was. He is barely a man, in many respects; he is more appropriately a monster. Death, destruction and despair fall in his wake. No longer a leader, he betrays and sacrifices his own people, those he once would have given anything to save – those he may have set on this very path to save. Terribly, some of them still go willingly. And still he tells himself: it was for the best.
It is a tragic story, and a disturbingly familiar one. Twice in a decade it has played out in ways that have irrevocably changed my own life, and this twisting feeling in my gut tells me that I am living through a third.
I encountered a young man very recently, who despite young age had garnered great respect amongst his allies and his opposition alike. He might have grown to be a great leader – one who would protect his people, and see his lands flourish – and he might have avoided the fates of Arthas Menethil and Kael’thas Sunstrider, as he had the ability to see beyond today’s crisis to tomorrow’s need; to believe that the greatest sacrifice if of oneself, not one’s people, and to understand that some means may never be justified, despite the ends.
In his death, that young man may have become a greater man than his father. And in murdering him, Garrosh Hellscream has made his choice.
I’ve been repeatedly advised to keep my head down, stay out of it, let other people handle it. I know for a fact Westel wants me to have nothing to do with this war; though he wears it well, he will not be content until I am safe at home with Laurelia and Anais. I don’t know how to explain to him that I do not feel safe at home. I’ve delicately acknowledged to the people who have asked about my surprising decision to join the Horde offensive in Pandaria that I was more or less drafted; I’ve not explained to anyone – not even Westel – that in my case the “draft” consisted of being dragged off an Orgrimmar street in broad daylight, interrogated and given two choices: prove my loyalty to Hellscream by joining his army, or face trial and likely summary execution as an agent of the Burning Legion and traitor to the Horde. That if they’d been able to prove I was consorting with the Alliance I probably wouldn’t have been given the option.
But even if I were safe – Westel is not safe. Nor is Kuvasei. Nor Stavier, nor Liealia; not Zul’rohk or Tywren – especially if the shadowhunter’s cover is blown – nor any elf or troll: it has been made blatantly clear that we are expendable. And certainly no one thinks that Hellscream will stop when he runs out of elven and trollish blood to spill – not when there are goblins and Forsaken to spare. And tauren and orcs when there is no one else left. It is not that we are soldiers and these are the risks of war; Hellscream has made it clear that no sacrifice, no matter how bloody and senseless, is too great to achieve his goal. Live by these words, he says. Lok’tar ogar. Victory or death. Sacrifices must be made. He does not care if the world is scorched and barren in the end, so long as he stands astride it and no other.
I do not know how to let other people handle it. If you want a job done right, as they say. I made some sacrifices of my own, once – and I did it precisely so I would have the power to handle things that need handling. Of course I will not rush in blindly, despite Westel’s worries; I’m not an idiot. But neither am I going to sit home knitting and wringing my hands.
I have the drive. I have the power. I can be quiet and subtle. I can keep the littlest ones safe, and keep Westel and Kuvasei from worry. The only thing I cannot do is nothing. I have too many promises to keep to do nothing.
I do not know how this will end. But I know I cannot just sit by and watch it happen, any more than I could sit back and let Deathwing destroy Azeroth. I do not know what will become of my people, of my friends. I do not know what will become of the Horde.
But I do know what will become of Hellscream. He set the terms himself.
Lok’tar ogar, indeed.