I mentioned in a previous post that Sylvanas Windrunner is travelling a dangerous path in Cataclysm, one that may lead to her becoming the next racial leader to be a raid boss. She seems determined to be the new Lich Queen. Her use of the Apothecary-engineered Blight in the battle against Gilneas is causing concern from both the Horde and the Argent Crusade, concern which she and those under her command are trying to soothe away with bald-faced lies. The Frostwolves refuse to help the Forsaken in the Hillsbrad Foothills because of what she’s done. She’s raising her own new army of (ostensibly free-willed) undead humans to bolster the Forsaken’s army using creatures who were previously willingly loyal to the Scourge despite clear opposition from the new Warchief. The Dark Lady has gotten out of control.
I also posted about the Horde’s Gilnean Envoys and their Scourge tabards. Taken at face value, this is an even bigger statement than anything else she’s done, openly embracing the symbolism of the Scourge from whom the Forsaken spent so much time trying to distance themselves. It’s a step short of actually calling herself the Lich Queen.
But let’s think about it from a behind-the-scenes standpoint. Blizzard is clearly leading up to something with Sylvanas. There’s Garrosh’s anger at her use of the val’kyr, Drek’thar’s outright rejection of the Forsaken’s request for aid, the Argent Crusade’s murmured disapproval, and the big cliffhanger with Koltira. She isn’t just doing terrible things, she’s doing terrible things and other characters are noticing. There may be a few content patches between now and when this all plays out, but it can’t be left dangling forever. So maybe these Scourge tabards aren’t because of Sylvanas. Maybe they represent whoever will be replacing her.
The most obvious candidate would be Bolvar Fordragon, the new, benevolent Lich King. Rather than command the Scourge as his army, he merely seeks to keep them under control. With Sylvanas gone, would the Forsaken be willing to follow a Lich King who isn’t Arthas and join a Scourge that allows them free will? It’s entirely possible. The question is whether Bolvar would be willing to lead a nation so opposed to his beloved Stormwind. He might view the Forsaken claim to the Plaguelands as justified and be willing to continue fighting the Alliance for it if the Forsaken become his people, and if his identity became known he might more easily convince Varian Wrynn to leave Lordaeron to them, but he also might side with the humans. He showed a willingness to work alongside the Horde at the Wrathgate, but that wasn’t against the Alliance. He could be effective at forging a truce in Lordaeron but might be less convinced of the need for war between the factions. And there’s the little fact that the Forsaken killed him in the first place. The Forsaken could be absorbed back into his Scourge and start using that crest as their own, but would Bolvar care to lead them?
Another possible replacement is Koltira Deathweaver, but his soft stance on the Alliance is what got him in trouble in the first place. That softness, however, is really only tied to one person, a person who has his own strong ties to the kingdom of Lordaeron. With a vacuum of power in the Undercity, Thassarian might decide the Forsaken, as fellow undead “survivors” of Lordaeron, are his people more than the humans of Stormwind. It would make sense, but wouldn’t fit the idea of Koltira and Thassarian representing their respective factions. But with the war against the Scourge over and the Ebon Blade’s storyline finished, do they still need to serve that purpose? I can’t see either of them taking up the Scourge’s livery, though. There’s a lot of baggage there that I don’t see either of them wanting to carry.
It is also possible that Sylvanas has quite simply gone off the deep end, and these Scourge tabards are the latest symptom, but I stand by my belief that something dramatic is in the works for her. We just have to wait and see what Blizzard has planned.