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Cataclysm will be a major step forward in the ongoing story of the Warcraft universe. The return of Deathwing has changed the world forever, and the major movers and shakers are forced to make decisions that will profoundly affect the future of their peoples. Below is a list of some of the most important non-player characters in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
Thrall, the Horde's warchief, is a living symbol of nobility, strength, and unwavering courage. He led the orcs from the internment camps of Lordaeron into a new era of freedom and prosperity, and under his leadership the Horde has established itself as a major force on Azeroth. As a shaman, Thrall has a deep connection with the elements, and their wisdom has proven to be a great boon to the warchief. But although the Horde's faith in its warchief remains strong, some orcs who relish the tales of orcish ferocity and martial prowess are frustrated with Thrall's decisions. It remains to be seen whether his recent differences with Garrosh Hellscream are a one-time event or a hint at the shape of things to come.
Growing up, Garrosh only knew his father, Grom Hellscream, by the stories that cast him as the one who had doomed his people. But after learning of Grom's redemption and heroic sacrifice to free the orcs from demonic corruption once and for all, Garrosh embraced his father's legacy as a fearless warrior and natural leader. At times, Garrosh's renewed zeal has put him at odds with the Horde's warchief. Frustrated by Thrall's decision to scout Northrend instead of mobilizing the Horde right away, Garrosh challenged the warchief to a duel in the Ring of Valor, but an assault by the Lich King's minions cut their bout short. Garrosh and the warchief still have some unfinished business... and Garrosh's hot-headed recklessness is fast becoming a concern to those who know the inherent danger in a Hellscream's fury.
King Varian Wrynn
The king of Stormwind, recently returned to claim his rightful place, has little love for the Horde. His reasons are many: when Varian was a young boy, he saw his father murdered by the half-orc Garona; the orcs' warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer, slew the valorous Anduin Lothar, who had delivered Varian safely to Lordaeron after the fall of Stormwind; Varian was later enslaved by the orcish gladiator trainer Rehgar Earthfury; and at the Wrath Gate, many brave Alliance soldiers died at the hands of the Forsaken's Royal Apothecary Society. Varian, who had always been wary of the orcs, discovered that the Royal Apothecary Society had been developing the new plague for years. The events that transpired during the battle for the Undercity convinced the human king that the Horde has been left unchecked for too long: the time has come to make things right.
King Genn Greymane
The people of the Alliance remember the king of Gilneas as a proud, strong-willed, cunning, and arrogant man. He and his armies stood by the Alliance during the Second War, but in the aftermath it became clear to Genn Greymane that the Alliance needed Gilneas more than Gilneas needed the Alliance. He ordered that the Greymane Wall be closed to all outsiders, effectively sealing off his kingdom from the outside world and its conflicts. But fate, it seems, was intent on teaching the king a lesson in humility: although the wall succeeded in isolating Gilneas from the rest of the world, it also served to damn the kingdom's people forever. As the worgen curse swept the nation and early attempts at containment failed, Greymane found himself fighting a battle for his people's very humanity.
Strong-willed, manipulative, and incomparably beautiful, Azshara possessed far more magical talent than almost any other night elf in her time. Ten thousand years ago, she and the other Highborne brought Azeroth dangerously close to complete destruction when their meddling with arcane magic caught the attention of the Great Enemy, Sargeras. Corrupted by the influence of the fallen titan, Azshara set in motion a plan to bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth, a plan that caused the War of the Ancients and the Great Sundering of Azeroth. Beautiful, cruel Azshara was swallowed by the seas, never to be seen again… or so it was believed. The naga revere Azshara as a demigod, one who is still very much alive. How she could have survived the Sundering, and at what cost, remain mysteries that not many would dare to probe.
Few have fallen as far from grace as ancient Neltharion has. As one of the five Dragon Aspects chosen by the titans, he was given dominion over the earth and the deep places of the world. He embodied the strength of Azeroth and served as the greatest supporter of the Dragonqueen, Alexstrasza. But mighty, kind-hearted, and wise as he was, even Neltharion was not beyond the reach of dark forces sleeping beneath the surface of Azeroth. Over time, sinister whispers sank their claws into the dragon's thoughts, seeding Neltharion's mind with madness. He betrayed the other Aspects, and when he turned against his brethren and let corruption take complete control, he ceased being Neltharion the Earth-Warder and became Deathwing the Destroyer. Eventually, he was defeated by the combined might of the other Aspects—defeated, but not destroyed. Hidden from the world, he has been licking his wounds and nourishing his burning hatred. His return will change the face of Azeroth… forever.
Cho'gall's sordid history is a testament to his unflinching desire to sow chaos wherever his dark influence extends. The first of the ogre magi, Cho'gall rose to prominence in the old Horde as chieftain of the orcish Twilight's Hammer clan. His dubious loyalties became apparent when he abandoned the Horde during a pivotal moment in the Second War. In retaliation, forces dispatched by Orgrim Doomhammer slaughtered most of Cho'gall's traitorous clan, forcing him and his surviving cohorts into hiding. Over the following years, the ogre mage molded the Twilight's Hammer into a fanatical cult devoted to worshipping the Old Gods -- ancient harbingers of the apocalypse. Cho'gall's obsession with these malefic deities led him to the ruined city of Ahn'Qiraj, where he began efforts to awaken an Old God by harnessing the immense powers of Med'an, the new Guardian of Tirisfal. Ultimately, Med'an thwarted Cho'gall's plans, and the scheming ogre mage was thought slain. The Twilight's Hammer, however, has remained organized, leading to fears that Cho'gall is still alive... and merely biding his time, waiting for the right moment to make his presence known once again.