A Grim History
The story of World of Warcraft is a sad one, but it is entertaining to the hardened arm chair warrior. Today we will take a look at lore, specifically the Death Knight. Who were they? Where did they come from?
Death Knights were the infused souls of fallen Knights of Stormwind and Orcish Shamans. During the Second War, the Shadow Council of the Old Horde decided to use the corpses of fallen knights and put the souls of their breathern; orchish shamans within them. Not only did this cause fear and panic amongst the human nations, but also caused a drop in morale amongst the footmen of the Human Kingdoms.
Despite this, the Old Horde was destroyed and the Human Kingdoms thought that the threat of the Death Knights had passed, but they were mistaken. It would be one of their own, Prince Arthas of Lordaeron who would unleash the fury of the dead amongst the living during the Third War or the Reign of Chaos.
Reign of Chaos
The Third War
Following the second war, Azeroth was in peace, but this was to be shattered as the Burning Legion, (demons responsible for the first two wars and the creators of the Old Horde) wanted to destroy Azeroth and claim its magical energies. To do so they created the Lich King and the Lich King in turn created a plague of the undead to taint the Human Kingdoms and turn them into his slaves.
In a vain attempt to save his kingdom from the plague, Arthas claimed the runeblade frostmourne. He believed that this sword would save his people and give him the power to stop the Dreadlord Mal'ganis. Arthas was wrong. Although, the sword allowed him to defeat the dreadlord and the scourge army in Northrend, he lost his soul in the process.
Following his return to the kingdom of Lordaeron, Arthas murdered his father, and followed the swords whisper. His undead armies scourged the human life from Lordaeron, corrupted the High Elf kingdom of Quel'thalas, and ruined the ancient mage city of Dalaran.
During the process, many new Deathknights were raised from the dead. Some were fallen Paladins, others warriors and mages. However, all were chained to the will of the Lich King. Under his command they pillaged, murdered, and corrupted their villages. Thousands were raised by them, to serve the Lich King in undeath.
The King Falls
The darkest hour of Azeroth began with the destruction of Lordaeron, and continued for many years, until Tiron Fordring cleansed Ashbringer. At the Battle of Light's Hope Chapel, many of Arthas's death knights were freed from his will. They formed the Ebon Blade Order, and returned to their prospective factions: the Horde and Alliance.
During the Battles that brought down the Lich King Arthas, the Death Knights found a renewed place at the heart of their factions. While they are still plagued by the evils they committed under the Lich King's dominance, at least now they can find peace. In the years to come it is unclear what will drive these fallen knights. Without the Lich King to fight or serve, no one really knows what their ultimate fate will be. One thing remains clear though, they will not return to the icy evils that were unleashed during the Third War. And unleash a new power chains them they will continue to fight for justice and peace where ever that may be.