This is meant as an in-world conspiracy theory. However, if WoW can be imagined to have something like an unreliable narrator (what that means for a game that you *play* is interesting to speculate about), it could be considered as an out-of story theory (where I'm not saying it's a particularly good one).
With unrest and even murmurs of rebellion floating around the streets of the Horde capitals, there has been a lot of talk about the Warchief of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream.
The incredibly rapid rise to power by this son of Grom ‘Drinker of the Blood of Mannoroth’ Hellscream has turned many heads.
Many wonder: how did this Orc, who was only so recently rescued from Outland, become our Warchief? Why did Thrall put his trust in him, which is looking so increasingly misplaced? Why does his behaviour as gleaned from public records seem so erratic at times?
Our investigation turned up more questions than answers, but one thing is certain: not all within the Horde believe the story of the brave conqueror of Northrend and some of those who have been closest to him* allege that something far more sinister is afoot.
Is Garrosh Hellscream the legitimate Warchief of the Horde?
Let's look at the official story of Garrosh Hellscream as it is told by the current regime in Orgrimmar:
During the war of the Burning Crusade, Thrall finds Garrosh Hellscream in Nagrand.
He's not really running things well there at all and is despondent over the downfall of the horde, in his eyes caused by his father.
The next mention in the histories of this despondent lethargic Orc is right before the Horde's invasion of Northrend; here too, the story is all but positive: Garrosh challenges Warchief Thrall (after all he did for him!) to a duel for the mantle of Warchief.
The duel is cut short, but Garrosh' intentions are clear: he aims to rule the Horde.
The Northrend campaign goes well, though Garrosh is blamed for the large amount of Horde casualties and his unthinking savage tactics by other strategists, including the highly respected Overlord Saurfang.
In the most damning record of this time, Overlord Saurfang even threatens to kill the younger Hellscream if he leads the Horde astray.
Fast forward to the earliest beginnings of the Cataclysm. The Orcs and other members of the Horde awoke to the sudden revelation that Thrall had already left Orgrimmar and that there was a new Warchief. There is no verifiable record from this time where Garrosh was on the throne while Thrall was still present.
It was only afterwards declared that Thrall had appointed Garrosh some time previously.
According to the official story, as the elements awake, Thrall leaves for Nagrand and names Garrosh Warchief of the Horde. Remember, this was Garrosh' dream since he left Outland. At the same time Garrosh is suddenly almost solely credited with the victory in Northrend. Those generals who actually served with him are either still away in Northrend or remain silent.
As Thrall appoints him, he tells Garrosh that he is the only one who can keep the Horde together. We now know the Horde is ripping itself apart at the seams so soon afterwards. Thrall is widely seen as the wisest of all Orcs. Nothing Garrosh has done warrants Thrall's trust in him. How could he be so mistaken?
And what does Garrosh do, as his long-standing desire is about to be fulfilled?
Surely it would only be consistent with his character as we know him from both before and after this event, to jump at Thrall's offer? But no: the official record of the conversation has Garrosh humble himself before Thrall and say that he is not ready. In the end Thrall convinces him by saying the other leaders of the Horde will support him.
This is strange to say the least, as within days one of these leaders, Cairne Bloodhoof, is seen fighting the Warchief and ends up dead.
The Tauren chieftain was as wise, reasoned and thoughtful leader as the Horde has seen. Yet according to the official story this gentle being rashly challenged Garrosh for the position of Warchief.
What happens next is well-known: Cairne is poisoned by Garrosh' weapon. Garrosh claims innocence of the plot, which is apparently headed by Magatha Runetotem.
After Cairne's death, Garrosh sends the Horde to fight the Alliance on all fronts, and finally to conquer the newly discovered Pandaria.
Meanwhile, tensions only get bigger within the Horde itself. The murder of Vol'Jin and the Troll rebellion are only the first cracks in the government’s propaganda armour. Allegedly, Thrall has thrown his lot in with the rebels, against his former protegé.
So how did Garrosh gain the mantle of Warchief? Was it as the official story says, which would make it the son of Durotan’s greatest lapse of wisdom?
Or is something else going on?
Consider that as Warchief, Garrosh' will IS the Will of the Horde, as he does not shy away from telling everyone at every opportunity.
As Warchief, he has access to all the records of the Horde; if there was such a thing as independent media in Orgrimmar under Thrall, nothing of the sort exists now.
So how can we be sure the official story is what really happened? The answer is simple: we can't.
Let's consider the most puzzling aspect of the official story: Thrall's decision to make Garrosh the Warchief, rather than any of the many available and experienced leaders the Horde had at that point. Theories for Thrall’s reasoning behind this strange decision come up almost daily.
But what if the simple answer is that he *didn't* choose Garrosh. What if Thrall selected someone who almost everyone in the horde respected. Someone who shared Thrall's hatred of fel magic and who would work with him to keep the Horde loyal to its shamanistic roots? And someone who would very soon turn up dead.
What if Thrall choose his most trusted ally since the Horde arrived on Kalimdor: Cairne Bloodhoof?
The rest of the story becomes immediately apparent:
The duel between Garrosh and Cairne wasn't initiated by Cairne as is popularly supposed. That goes completely against what we know of the Bloodhoof leader.
Rather, it was Garrosh who challenged Cairne for the mantle of Warchief, just as he had done to Thrall not many years before.
As soon as Thrall left for Nagrand, Garrosh took his chance.
Blaming Cairne for his unwillingness to fully engage the Alliance, he challenged the Tauren to a duel... and kills him.
After having murdered the real Warchief who was chosen by Thrall, Garrosh claims the Horde and starts his reign of terror. Garrosh’s main problem now is that Thrall still commands enormous respect throughout the horde, with many worshipping him as nothing less than their Messiah. Publicly going against his choice of Warchief would undermine his position.
Garrosh decides to change history.
In the version of events told by the Hellscream regime, Garrosh would be the one chosen by Thrall, making him the only legitimate Warchief and the saviour of the Horde in its need.
Garrosh or his advisors concoct the poisoning scenario that is described in the official narrative of Cairne’s death. Magatha Grimtotem is scapegoated for Cairne’s death. Alternatively, there is a real plot, but it is co-opted by Garrosh and his advisors.
Instead of a failing commander who spent most of the Warsong Offensive hiding out in Borean Tundra, Garrosh is now declared the Hero of the Horde who took down the Lich King,
He blames the war that he started on the Alliance, and his dictatorial decrees and his clampdown on the free speech are accepted because of it.
This was all made possible because Thrall didn’t hold a public ceremony for the new Warchief. Those who knew the real story were silenced with threats, or with violence.
Finally, the Hellscream regime then set to work to buff up his reputation as an honorable Warchief by forging or influencing events in the Horde’s entire sphere of influence, from Silverpine to Stonetalon. What is true or false in these histories becomes ever harder to ascertain.
So the question remains: why didn’t Thrall speak out against Garrosh?
While he was battling the elements he could not have the Horde torn asunder by civil war. Afterwards, Garrosh had consolidated his grip on power and openly confronting him would be terribly dangerous. Thrall would be better off to play the fool and bide his time.
Only now, with the Trolls in full rebellion and the Forsaken about to break away, the full extent of ‘Warchief’ Garrosh Hellscream’s evil is starting to come to light.
So, what really happened? Did an inexperienced, rash and savage Orc who is prone to mood swings get elevated to the highest position in the Horde by the wise shaman Thrall, in what can only be described as the greatest lapse in judgement in the history of Azeroth?
Or did the scheming power-hungry son of Hellscream take the first chance he got as soon as Thrall was preoccupied by other matters and usurp and murder the rightful ruler of the Horde?
We’ll let you decide.
*We ask for your understanding that due to the precarious situation in Orgrimmar at this time, we cannot reveal the names of the people we spoke to as it would imperil their lives.