As we grow closer to the Battle for Icecrown Citadel I find myself examining the lore more closely and with more enthusiasm than is probably good for me as a writer. It made it infinitely more difficult to decide on what it is I wanted to write about this morning (which is coming closer and closer to being this afternoon).
One of the most prominent characters of the invasions of Northrend and subsequently of Icecrown was reimagined and reintroduced with the development of Wrath of the Lich King. He was introduced originally in patch 1.11, Shadow of the Necropolis, as the Ashbringer, Alexandros Mograine; a fallen hero of the Human Alliance in the second and third wars, but his redevelopment and reintroduction are what make him a truly rich and unique character in the lore.
The embattled House of Mograine is steeped in tragedy, betrayal, and sacrifice moreso than any other family and generation of characters in this world, and because of their evolving stories I get asked about them a lot, so if you haven’t yet figured it out, today you get the first of hopefully many character highlights in Highlord Alexandros Mograine.
Alexandros is a truly unique character in that he has played a major role in shaping both sides of the conflict of the living versus the dead, the light versus the dark, and his family has completed the circle in two separate generations.
When the Highlord is first reintroduced to us, it is as a commander of the Knights of the Silver Hand, an order of Paladins under Alonsus Faol and Uther the Lightbringer, during the Second War, and he comes to possess an artifact that embodies darkness and the void, a living shadow that he seals away in fear of what it means to the Light.
During the Third War, with the kingdom of Lordaeron on the doorstep of oblivion, Alexandros reveals the artifact to his fellows and implores them to begin searching for its counterpart, an object of pure radiance and light that will surely turn the tide of battle against the undead Scourge; appalled by its existence, however, his peers attempt to destroy the artifact by the will of the Holy Light, and in absorbing their divinity, the orb becomes the very object of life and light that Alexandros had pleaded his brothers search for. Shortly thereafter the artifact is fashioned into a righteous weapon, and the Ashbringer is born.
What we learn from Alexandros’ fall from the Light and his tenure as one of the Lich King’s dreaded Death Knights is that the blade and the man are one in the same. The Ashbringer is not simply Alexandros Mograine or the righteous weapon that he carried on his back.
The Ashbringer is corrupted, both body and blade, when Alexandros is killed by his son, and in service to the Ligh King we see that the artifact has once again transformed into the embodiment of shadow, only this time it has taken its vessel, Mograine, with it; not just because it was Mograine that wielded the blade, but because the two are bound to one another in much the same way that Arthas is bound to Frostmourne.
Even when Alexandros is killed in Naxxramas by his son, Darion, his soul remains bound to the blade, pleading with Darion once he takes up the blade to flee the citadel and visit vengeance upon his brother in the Scarlet Monastery.
I find that the story becomes the most interesting when you realize that the artifact itself is neither an object of darkness or of light, it is simply a vessel bound to the actions impressed upon it. In the hands of an Orc Warlock, it embodies the void, but when wielded by Highlord Mograine, it is a weapon of righteousness. Heartbroken and destroyed by his betraying son, Renault, Alexandros impresses the void upon the blade once again, and though Darion means to trade his soul for his father’s by sacrificing himself in the name of the Light at Light’s Hope, he succeeds only in redeeming his father’s darkened soul.
Now, when I originally read the Ashbringer series, I too thought that Darion traded his soul to the blade in exchange for freeing his father’s. It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth time that I played through the Death Knight starting zone that I started to realize that there was more to it than that. The blade was never Darion’s at all. During the Battle for Light’s Hope Chapel you can hear Darion’s struggle with the Ashbringer.
If you are incredibly astute you will notice that Darion is incapable of killing anything at Light’s Hope Chapel, instead of delivering a death blow to anything, he commands the blade to obey him and then switches to a different target entirely. The Ashbringer is still bound to the soul of Alexandros Mograine, which Darion redeemed when he sacrificed himself to save the Chapel and its defenders the first time it was attacked by the Scourge. That it appears to be physically corrupted is only that it is in Darion’s possession as an agent of the shadow.
For that reason I think that we have not yet seen the last of Alexandros Mograine; I find it hard to believe that Tirion would simply take up the blade, the position, and the role of Alexandros regardless of his piety. Does the blade whisper to him with the voice of Alexandros like it did to Darion? Does it whisper to him like the voice of Ner’zhul whispers to Arthas through Frostmourne? And if so, does Tirion wield the Ashbringer, or does the Ashbringer wield Tirion?
The story of the Ashbringer, Alexandros Mograine, is one of my favorite in all of Warcraft’s expansive lore, and it’s a story that I love telling! To wrap up, though, I have a few questions for you: Who are your favorite characters in Warcraft lore and why, and which characters (or artifacts) would you like to see me highlight for you here?