Origin and Coming to Azeroth
Much like the Alliance, the Horde we know today was formed out of mutual necessity. These races are Orcs, Undead, Tauren, Trolls, Blood Elves, Goblins, and some Pandaren. Though there are consistent differences in each races reasons for being a part of the Horde, each race shares one core value; respect is won by blade and honor. The Horde, though led primarily by orcs until recent times, is currently led by the warchief, who’s the undisputed leader of all members (currently Sylvanas Windrunner). Before we move too far into current times, let’s take a step back and look at the story of the Old Horde (still referred to as simply ‘the Horde’).
To understand the Horde we must first understand its origin, and consequently, the founding race. The Horde began as scattered clans on the world of Draenor, under the leadership of the orc elder shaman Ner’zhul. Deceived by the demon lord Kil’Jaeden, he was tricked into believing the Draenei were plotting against the orcs and led a conquest to eradicate them from the world. Suspicious of his deceit, Ner’zhul approached Kil’Jaeden intending to withdraw from their conquest. He was usurped by his apprentice Gul’dan who intended to utilize the power of the Burning Legion for his own benefit. Gul’dan was given Ner’zhul’s position as leader of the Horde, while Ner’zhul was exiled for his intended ‘treachery’.
The draenei proved relatively easy for the Horde to attack. Under the banner of Gul’dan, the scattered orcish tribes were unified in their conquest of self preservation. Mighty and powerful, the Horde slew many draenei before coming to a great resistance while assaulting the city of Shattrath. To surpass this hiccup, Gul’dan offered the blood of Mannoroth (another demon lord) to the Horde which was refused by very few (most notable being the Frostwolf clan led by Durotan). Though this ‘gift’ granted them enough power and ferocity to destroy the draenei, the orcs were now bound to the will of Kil’Jaeden and the Burning Legion.
Seeing no more immediate use for the orcs after the apparent destruction of the draenei, Kil’Jaeden abandoned Draenor and the orcs, ushering forth the imminent destruction of the orcish world. Gul’dan stepped into an advisor position and appointed Blackhand to warchief of the Horde while maintaining control from the shadows. Without a common enemy, the Horde returned to fighting each other. Luckily for Gul’dan, he found a common enemy in the lands of Azeroth. Gul’dan constructed the Dark Portal and from this, came the Orcish Horde to Azeroth.
Wars and Structure
As we all know, Azeroth was occupied by other races that offered a staunch resistance to the Horde. Upon hearing about the invasion of the green monsters (originally orange-brown, now green from the fel blood of Mannoroth), the Alliance retaliated causing the First War. The Horde was ultimately successful in gaining a foothold in the world of Azeroth, as well as the first war. Before the end of the war however, there was a challenge issued for warchief by Blackhand’s lieutenant, Orgrim Doomhammer.
Not uncommon by any means, Orgrim called for a Mak’gora, which, by orcish customs a “duel of honor” is where someone may challenge a superior for leadership in a duel to the death or submission. In this case it was between Blackhand and Doomhammer for the purpose of Doomhammer knowing of the treachery and deception of Gul’dan with Blackhand’s inability to see it. From their duel, Orgrim emerged victorious and became the warchief of the Horde. Doomhammer set his sight on Gul’dan and Gul’dan’s loyalists. He proceeded to kill necromancers and sorcerers that utilized the power of the fel (the Burning Legion’s manifested power). Coming upon Gul’dan, Orgrim allowed him to live after Gul’dan begged for his life, offering servants and necromancers that would be loyal to the warchief. Orgrim remained skeptical of Gul’dan and knew he was plotting something; yet he needed the strength that the warlock offered.
With his new position as warchief, Doomhammer led the Horde into the Second War in an effort to destroy the already wounded humans. Through his diplomacy he befriended the tauren and trolls, bringing them to the comradery of the Horde. The forces pushed into the Alliance’s territory in an attempt to ensure they could live at peace on this new world. While pushing in on Capital City (aka Lordaeron City) Gul’dan played his hand and sailed with his loyalists south, abandoning the Horde during the final siege of the city. Doomhammer conceded from the siege, and pursued Gul’dan to the Broken Shore where the warlock was killed by demonic forces. The rest of the necromancers and sorcerers that followed Gul’dan were picked off by the Horde forces. Now weakened by their losses, Doomhammer made the difficult decision to fully retreat from their advantage in the war. By the end of the war, the Horde was defeated and, in the wake, Anduin Lothar, commander of the Alliance, was killed and Doomhammer was captured.
Transition of Power
Doomhammer was kept in an internment camp with other orcs. Appalled by the disheartened comrades, Doomhammer found himself falling into a depression. Not completely overcome by his bleakness, he managed to escape the internment camp and heard of the orc Thrall. Legend had it that Thrall was a slave for humans and looked to bring the Frostwolf clan of his origin back to its full power. Doomhammer sought him out and they liberated five internment camps together. However on the fifth assault, Doomhammer was struck by a lance straight through the middle of his torso. With his dying breath he named Thrall the new warchief of the Horde and beseeched him to claim his destiny as the son of the noble Durotan.
Under the governance of Thrall, the Horde carved a place for themselves in the continent of Kalimdor, seemingly content with simply living. It became a refuge for all races that looked to find solace from the scrutiny of the high nosed Alliance; a place for misfits and lost people. Things were not all okay though. The orcs remained subject to the will of demons through their ties to Mannoroth’s blood. Known as the blood curse, Thrall set out with Grommash Hellscream to free the orcs from the curse of the Burning Legion by killing the demon whose blood they drank.
Relinquishment and Sacrifice
As we should know by now, being a part of the Horde means maintaining strength and honor. Grommash Hellscream personally embodied everything the Horde stood for. When offered the drink of demon blood (obviously not knowing the side effects), Grommash was the first to drink. He knew that with this power from the fel blood, he’d become strong enough to get his people from their dying world and safe to another. He knew what he had to sacrifice once faced with the understanding of the side effects. Thrall and Grommash walked to battle with Mannoroth knowing the potential consequences. When Thrall lay battered by the demon’s onslaught, Grom channeled the fel power within him. The power that made him so susceptible to the demonic wills, yet so fearsome in battle. Utilizing that bloodlust one last time, Grommash struck a killing blow to Mannoroth, relinquishing the Horde from the will of the demons. From the gash in Mannoroth’s chest spewed deep energies that blew through
Weakened by the energies that came from Mannoroth, Grommash lay dying as Thrall limped to his old friend. “Thrall, the blood haze has lifted. The demon’s fire has burned out in my veins… I have freed myself.” Grommash said, dying.
“No, my friend. You have freed us all.”
With this act of heroism, Grommash had given the Horde opportunity for a life that they make for themselves as opposed to what has been assigned to them. Grommash literally saved each orc that had partaken in drinking of the blood. Free at last to become what they have always wanted.
The story of the Horde will continue from this point to the present day in the next installment of Warcraft lore.