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Old 11-05-2017, 10:02 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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I had been thinking about Mutterscrawl's question, and while I still reject talking about this as being a valid story event, especially now that we know that Sylvannas does it before the events in Lordaeron, I guess I could discuss how this could have been a positive event that may have led into something, instead of a clear excuse to get rid of Night Elven theming.

So, we'll call this a hypothetical. An alternate scenario, if you will.

Anduin, as leader of the Alliance, has a problem. With the threat of the Legion winding down, various interests throughout the Alliance are threatening to tear it apart. Primary among them is Genn Greymane, who is rallying for a grand reconquest of Gilneas and a war to deal with the Forsaken "once and for all". Faced with this or a breakup of the Alliance's human kingdoms, Anduin allows the offensive to go ahead.

The Night Elves are reluctant to join at first. They have their own problems of course, but are reminded of repeated Forsaken incursions into their territory, such as the atrocities committed at the Dor'danil barrow dens. Sylvannas, facing a difficult battle against the forces already arrayed against her, with reversals now leaving the front midway through Silverpine forest - and the forsaken are gradually being pushed back. Sylvannas threatens to "unleash the full might of the Orcish horde" upon the Night Elves if they should join the war. Emboldened by this, pockets of Warsong already begin clashes with the Night Elven border guard, which had been cautiously bolstered since the last war. Seeing this as the start of a new Horde offensive, the Night Elves overreact, pressing into Azshara and the Northern Barrens - the sentinels guarding Greenwarden's Grove, are also immediately directed to join the Alliance up North. The arrival of new goblin artillery forces them back in each case and threatens to put the Night Elves into a full retreat.

Unfortunately for Sylvannas, it also takes away needed reinforcements for the Lordaeronian Front. Allied air power is tearing through formidable defenses, and taking out plague wagons before they can even be deployed. This is while prominent members of the Cenarion Circle, including Malfurion, are quietly indicating that they may step in to the Kalimdorian campaign after the before-mentioned reversals. Sylvannas needs a game changer, something to knock the Night Elves out of the war now, and get Horde reinforcements to beat back the human offensive.

The answer is the <Magical McGuffin>, which she had been retaining since she <went on a crazy spirit journey or something Legion related, honestly I don't care how she got the shards of Sargeras's letter opener or whathaveyou>. Devoting one of the horde's aerial fleets to its deliverance, she personally directs the airship carrying the bomb, ensuring that they come in as quietly as possible - avoiding the major shipping routes and taking long paths so as to prevent being spotted by Allied naval vessels.

It's a quiet night. The waves of the vieled sea are strangely becalmed, and the lights of every one of the airships, six in all, have been doused, letting the cold winter air pass over the ship. The crew shivers, save for Sylvannas, accompanied by a blood elven mage with orders to stay with her at all times. To the untrained eye on the ground, the ships might look like clouds.

An untrained eye may have missed it, but the former ranger general's eyesight is as good as it's ever been. They were disguised to meld with the windsway of Teldrassil's massive branches, but the beating of the wings is unmistakable, and directed towards them. "We've been spotted!" She cries to the crewmasters, as if by these words alone, activating the ship's searchlights. Orcish gunners, who had suffered through hours of biting cold, their hands gripped to their weapons, open up, but the hippogryphs are on them too fast, ducking below the gondolas or ripping their talons into the fabric of the balloons. Two ships begin an inevitable decline to the water, and the others are barely able to launch wyvern riders before the elven defenders launch fire arrows into the hydrogen reservoirs of several more of the escort ships. The lead vessel, that the others have sought to protect at all costs, is hurtling towards the canopy, seeking to wedge itself, with its <Magical Mcguffin> in tow as close to the heart of the canopy as possible. A balloon shears away - the Dark Ranger remains until the last possible second, cursing that they had been diverted from course - barking for the Blood Elven mage to shut up until the last possible second, at which time, she is magically teleported to the shores of Darkshore - watching the vessel finally collide into eastern side of the crown of the tree - ensuing in a massive fireball - augmented to be ten times the size of a usual zeppelin crash's fiery demise by the <Magical McGuffin> - still appearing to be a pinprick on the massive tree.

She watches, her eyes unmoving from the spot. The mage's concerns about patrols coming upon them do not matter to her as she watches the plume of flame billow up as those explosions do. Finally, she catches sight of it - a large, and sustained blaze, one that's spreading, one that nothing at this point could stop.

It worked.

Meanwhile, it doesn't take long for the Night Elves to realize what just happened, and the evacuation isn't exactly orderly. Every hippogryph available shuttles people out of the city. The portal to Rut'theran is packed with fearful evacuees. Fights are breaking out on the docks while cargo ships are overtaken by hordes of fleeing Night Elves. A little girl loses her stuffed bear.

In the middle of this chaos, the city's highborne vindicate Tyrande's decision to let them return, opening up large portals to Nighthaven - which allows the bulk of Darnassus's population to escape the destruction of Teldrassil. But the losses are still horrific. One tale tells of a ship packed to the brim leaving from Rut'theran, only to be destroyed by a massive, burning branch that fell right into its center, killing all but a few who managed to dive away in time.

Malfurion and Tyrande were among those who didn't make it out, though scores of those who did spoke glowingly in their remembrance, telling of how they selflessly did everything they could make sure that everyone got out before they did - Malfurion in particular, who cast a massive Thunderstorm in the vain hopes of dousing the fire, though he did slow its progress. One of the last who made it out - a sentinel general who had been deemed too important to lose. She reported, though this was likely embellished, seeing the two standing near the center of the city, side by side as good companions do to the end, before the towering flames as they inched ever nearer - a final beacon of silvery light - acting as a lighthouse for the last few who would make it through the highborne portals behind them.

That general was Varlissa Skyfall.

With the leadership dead, Skyfall was quick to organize the fleeing sentinel corps that had been evacuated to Nighthaven. The handover was that in name only. In reality it was a coup. While the members of the Cenarion Circle had focused their efforts on helping the survivors, Skyfall was busy arresting their leaders, occupying the city within two hours of the events she had just escaped from. Before the embers of Teldrassil were even cool, the Night Elven government was back up and running, albeit wrapped in Skyfall's fist.

Skyfall was never a priestess. She wasn't magically gifted or favored by Elune. She wasn't even that competent of a sentinel during the long vigil. At best she was an average shot. What she was, was cunning, pragmatic, ruthless, and more than a little paranoid - qualities that produced victories in ages past, and qualities that would serve her now.

Her message to the druids was simple: "You are either with us or you are against us", laced with harrowing tales of Teldrassil's final moments and more than a little guilt. She suppressed riots against Tauren and Trollish druids, allowing them to leave so that they would not complicate her efforts to assert control of Hyjal as well, and hoping that the gambit would make Thunder Bluff at least a little more sympathetic to the Night Elves' plight.

The Ashenvale front would meanwhile collapse as Horde artillery doctrine grows more refined - resulting in massive advances that are partially the result of a demolished sense of morale on the part of the Kaldorei - arrested only by a lack of manpower as Sylvannas seeks to bolster the Undercity for the Alliance's impending assault - the news having only enraged the forces arrayed against her. Meanwhile the Night Elves, assuming Nighthaven as their capitol, get to work in consolidating their position, overtaking Winterspring and subjugating the goblins at Everlook to produce weapons of war to counter those being employed by their Bilgewater comrades. She's not above opening the coin purse to do this, but she's putting far more pressure on the druids, hoping to press out through the vale of Felwood, and reassert control of Ashenvale.


Getting that long narrative out of the way, the Night Elven capitol would be a militarized Nighthaven, with the Night Elves controlling Hyjal, Winterspring, and Felwood. Darkshore would have been lost, along with Teldrassil of course and the western coastal region of Ashenvale. The battlefront fans out from Raynewood retreat, with the Night Elves having full access to their Warcraft 3 repertoire.

I imagine that Skyfall would act like a toned down version of King Radovid from the Witcher series, balancing a somewhat unpredictable nature with fierce nationalism. In her interactions with Anduin, she would always step right up to the line of outright blaming the Humans for what had happened to Teldrassil... though never crossing it. It would feel like the Night Elves could drop out of the Alliance at any moment or otherwise do something reckless and damaging to the human side of the Alliance, and this is usually done to extract some kind of concession or pledge for assistance.

The Night Elves writ large meanwhile would act as though the gloves had truly been taken off. They'd use unfair, brutal tactics, as well as every advantage they could get. A lot of anything that could be called optimism would be gone now. For the most part, Night Elves would be extremely bitter, rejecting of the paladin ethos coming out of the East, and retreating into interpretations of the Elunarian religion that emphasize their role as guardians of nature against marauders. This becomes a holy crusade, with all of the trappings that accompany it.


Anyway, that's how I'd do it. Doubtlessly we won't get anything like that, but that's how I'd do it.
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