Counted among the 36 artifact weapons in World of Warcraft: Legion, Ashbringer is now a huge, ever present part of the game. Many of the Retribution paladins wielding the ancient sword, as well as many of the players who have just admired it on the backs of their friends, might not know the full story of the blade, or the great man that carried it into battle before them, Tirion Fordring.
Tirion was a complicated man that went through plenty of suffering in his life. A Paladin of the Light and a force against the scourge, players witness his final moments during the battle for the Broken Shore at the beginning of World of Warcraft: Legion. Many players forgot about this moment quickly due to some other very tragic deaths played out in cutscenes later in the battle. But for some Paladins and other lore nerds like myself, this moment meant much more.
The Second War
The Second Great War is the conflict between the newly created Alliance of Lordaeron and the Old Horde, its events detailed in WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness. Prior to the war, the warrior Tirion Fordring grew close to the Church of Light, where we studied and learned its practices. He worked under the current Archbishop of the Light, Alonsus Faol. Alonsus was aware that hard times were coming and the Light needed to be armed and be ready to assist in the coming war. He chose five candidates, including Uther, Turalyon, and Tirion, to create the Knights of the Silver Hand. This was the very first order of Paladins and would be reshaped in many different ways in the times that followed.
During the Second War, many consider the Knights of Silver Hand the main factor in the Alliance triumphing over the Old Horde. Uther and Turalyon gained fame as holy warriors that could smash orcs with massive warhammers while healing fallen allies at the same time. After the war concluded the Silver Hand began recruiting heavily and Tirion Fordring saw the Prince of Lordaeron, Arthas Menethil, sworn in at Stormwind. Tirion was given the title of governor of Hearthglen following the war, married to his love Karanda, and was granted a son Taelan. With nearly all his life knowing war, Tirion was proud to govern during peace and prayed nightly that no conflict would arise again.
This peace was to be short lived however, for one day Tirion Fordring encountered an old orc hermit living in an abandoned tower. Tirion and the orc immediately began fighting. The duel was cut short when a piece of the tower collapsed onto Tirion and knocked him out. He awoke days later in his bed, badly beaten, only to realize that a fellow Paladin had found him tied him to his saddle, and healed of his most gruesome wounds, days earlier. He was saved by that orc and Tirion knew he had to find him once again.
Tirion went back to the tower and found the orc who identified himself as Eitrigg. Eitrigg told Tirion how his people had forsaken the shamanistic ways of honor and so he left the Old Horde after the first war. While Tirion and the orc spoke, the Paladin who had found Tirion came to the tower with a group of hunters. Tirion, seeing bloodlust in their eyes, attempted to fight back the Paladins and was captured alongside Eitrigg. The Paladins accused Tirion of treason, brought him to trial, and found him guilty of assaulting Alliance soldiers. Tirion was exiled, and stripped of his holy power and titles.
After returning to his home and saying goodbye to his wife and son, Tirion Fordring raced to Stratholme where Eitrigg was being held. As he worked to rescue the imprisoned orc, another group of orcs attacked the city, for unrelated reasons. Tirion, with this distraction, was able to free Eitrigg and get to safety outside the city. Eitrigg was quite wounded however, and, to his surprise, Tirion was able to call upon the Light to heal the orc.
Soon after, the group of orcs that had attacked the city came upon Tirion, led by none other than Thrall, the new warchief of the Horde. Thrall invited Eitrigg to join his Horde and Eitrigg, seeing that shamanism and honor had returned, gladly agreed. Before he left however, Eitrigg proclaimed that Tirion Fordring was his brother, bound by blood and honor. Thrall accepted this, making Tirion one of the few humans he respected during his life.
Tirion Fordring decided to stay in his homelands and keep a distant eye on his family. He was able to see his son be inducted into the Knights of the Silver Hand just as he was, and eventually become the lord of Mardenholde. Throughout the Third Great War Tirion was a hermit simply fighting off the scourge, and didn’t resurface until the events of World of Warcraft.
During the Third Great War, the Knights of the Silver Hand were struck a fearsome blow when Arthas Menethil betrayed Lordaeron to the scourge. The fractured Silver Hand was led by Highlord Alexandros Mograine, who wielded the sword known as Ashbringer. A blade created from a crystal of the “living embodiment of Light,” it was extremely effective against the undead and left nothing but ash in its wake.
With the Silver Hand fractured, the dreadlord Balnazzar found it easy to possess the body of the Grand Crusader Saidan Dathrohan. He knew that the Ashbringer was the most powerful weapon against the undead and began manipulating events to remove it from the battlefield. Balnazzar saw his opportunity with the Highlord Mograine’s eldest son, Renault Mograine, and corrupted him to do his will.
Renault betrayed his father and killed him with the Ashbringer, which in turn corrupted it and made Renault unable to wield the blade. Alexandros was then resurrected as one of the death knights of Naxxramas and wielded the Corrupted Ashbringer. Renault became commander and changed the Silver Hand into the Scarlet Crusade. Meanwhile, those that did not agree with Renault left and created the Argent Dawn.
Mograine’s other son, Darion, wished to try and save Alexandros and led a group of the Argent Dawn into Naxxramas. Darion, however, was forced to slay Alexandros when he found he could not be saved. Darion took the Corrupted Ashbringer and was surprised to find that his father’s spirit was trapped inside the blade. Alexandros told Darion of Renault’s betrayal, leading Darion to confront his brother and attempt to kill him.
In the battle, Darion was struck down, but the spirit of Alexandros emerged from the blade and decapitated Renault before he could deal the killing blow. Darion took the blade and sometime later tried to free his father by impaling himself with the Corrupted Ashbringer. This did not work and Darion was resurrected as a death knight as well and became the Highlord of the Death Knights of Acherus. With Renault’s death, Tirion Fordring’s son, Taelan Fordring, became the new Highlord of the Scarlet Crusade.
Creating the Argent Crusade
During the events of World of Warcraft, Tirion Fordring came to the Eastern Plaguelands seeking assistance from both the Alliance and Horde. He needed help to save his son from the corruption of the Scarlet Crusade. Helping Tirion, adventurers collected reminders of Taelan’s past and convinced him to leave. This event, however, caused Grand Inquisitor Isillien to follow Taelan and slay him for betraying the Crusade. Discovering his son’s death, Tirion flew into a wild rage and killed Isillien in return.
Tirion Fordring soon learned the Scarlet Crusade was profoundly corrupt and decided that he needed to do something to save the order that he helped create. He vowed that he would recreate the Knights of the Silver Hand as it should be and put his will into achieving that end. It wasn’t until the events of The Wrath of the Lich King though, that Tirion would fulfill his goal.
When the Lich King arose again, his new Death Knights, alongside Highlord Darion Mograine, attacked the Light’s Hope Chapel, forcing Tirion Fordring to come to its defense. During the battle, the Lich King eventually appeared and incapacitated Tirion with a spell to put an end to the Light. Darion rebelled, however, and threw the Corrupted Ashbringer to Tirion. When Tirion took up the blade it became purified and broke the spell Arthas had cast, causing the Lich King to flee, knowing the Ashbringer would be powerful enough to cause damage even to him.
With the powerful Ashbringer now in the hands of Tirion Fordring, he united the Argent Dawn and the remaining loyal members of the Knights of the Silver Hand into the Argent Crusade. Tirion vowed to destroy Arthas and everything that he had done and set out for Northrend to take the fight to him. Freeing the Death Knights under his control, Darion Mograine then created the Knights of the Ebon Blade to assist Tirion in his venture to slay the Lich King.
Death to the Lich King
Tirion Fordring left for Northrend with the newly created Argent Crusade. Throughout this time he worked closely with Darion Mograine, planning how they were to defeat the Lich King. Darion believed that they could not win, since the Lich King is not shackled to any virtues of the Light. Meanwhile Tirion argued that if they stoop to his level, then they would not truly be victorious. He vowed to defeat the monster with honor and with the will of the Light.
In the end, Tirion decided a small, elite force of adventures would fare better against the Lich King, as a large army would just provide more bodies for him to raise. With this thought in mind, Tirion set up the Argent Tournament and Crusader’s Coliseum in Icecrown. He presided over the tournament, seeking the best that both the Alliance and the Horde had to offer, eventually finding a worthy group of adventurers that could survive the depths of Icecrown Citadel.
Tirion then led this group of adventurers, alongside the Argent Crusade and Knights of the Ebon Blade, into Icecrown Citadel and eventually to the Frozen Throne. Tirion Fordring challenged Arthas himself, but was easily frozen inside a block of ice while the Lich King proceeded to kill all of the adventurers, planning to raise them as agents of the scourge.
Tirion, however, managed to break free of the ice and shattered Frostmourne with the Ashbringer, releasing the souls off all the enemies that Arthas had trapped inside until that point. King Terenas emerged and resurrected the adventures, and together with Tirion they slew Arthas and ended his reign as the Lich King. King Terenas then informed Tirion that there must always be a Lich King. But as he prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice Tirion was stopped by Bolvar Fordragon. With a heavy heart, Tirion relented Bolvar’s insistence, and placed the crown of the Lich King over Bolvar’s head, creating the jailor of the scourge.
Passing the Torch
After eliminating the Lich King in Northrend, Tirion Fordring retired to reclaim his old home of Hearthglen from the remnants of the Scarlet Crusade. He resided as the Highlord of the Argent Crusade in Mardenholde Keep and personally trained new recruits. It isn’t until the threat of the Legion invasion that Tirion left and roused the Argent Crusade once again. He personally led a group of Paladins in the assault of the Broken Shore as the adventures of the Horde and Alliance made different paths to Gul’dan.
Tirion was eventually captured and help captive by Jailor Zerus, who tortured Tirion constantly and broke his will to go on. As a result, eventually the Ashbringer began to seek out a new wielder. Gul’dan brought Tirion before the Horde and the Alliance, appearing to kill him, but Tirion actually persevered and the Argent Crusade led another assault to save him and the Ashbringer.
During that second assault, a new champion of the Light, the player, destroyed Jailer Zerus and took up the Ashbringer. However, dreadlord Balnazzar appeared and attempted to corrupt the champion. Fighting and defeating the dreadlord, the champion returned to hear the last words of Tirion Fordring, “You must become… the Ashbringer…”
And with that, the events of Legion unfold. The new champion recreates the Knights of the Silver Hand and is proclaimed as the new Highlord, wielding Ashbringer in Tirion’s memory. Ask any questions in the comments below and and keep checking back for more on World of Warcraft and plenty of other games, right here on Gamespresso.