Fortified citadels lie in ruins. Once-verdant forests burn brightly in the twilight of the setting sun. And arid stretches of desert, known to have claimed even the hardiest of travelers, now house fertile oases.
The breaking of Azeroth changed a great many things. While the altered landscapes of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor may be the most noticeable evidence of Deathwing's violent return, many of Azeroth's heroes have also undergone drastic physical and mental transformations of their own.
Some have questioned Thrall's decision to set Garrosh Hellscream into the fiery crucible of Horde leadership, but none can doubt that this Mag'har orc from Outland has charted a course for his people that will change the very face of Azeroth.
As the son of the orc credited with his people's redemption, Garrosh Hellscream has always carried a bitter mantle of duty to his kind. Before learning of his father's ultimate actions against the Burning Legion, Garrosh had borne the shame of Grom Hellscream's corruption and feared that such weakness might be found within himself. When Thrall arrived in Nagrand and showed Garrosh the truth of his father's martyrdom, the Mag'har was transformed. Filled with a renewed sense of strength and confidence, he returned with the warchief to Azeroth to be his advisor. Soon named overlord of the Warsong offensive, Garrosh displayed a courage, tenacity, and hot-bloodedness that both impressed and worried other members of the Horde. These concerns were only heightened after his appointment as warchief, as Garrosh has paid little heed to opinions originating outside of his race.
Hellscream's ascension has been applauded by most orcs, who feel that his brash warrior instincts and unwillingness to negotiate for needed resources are more in tune with the true orc way. While Garrosh appreciates public recognition, even relishes the acceptance amongst these green-skinned orcs, he has little time or patience for ostentatious displays of leadership. His attention is now focused on strengthening the walls of Orgrimmar and providing supplies vital to his people: food, lumber, and the other essentials for living, which are growing scarcer in the recent drought. If these can only be gained through the blood of selfish Alliance dogs, so be it.
Already distrustful of the other branches of the Horde, Garrosh has learned that the various leaders of these factions are more powerful than he had originally estimated. The duel with (and eventual slaying of) High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof was costly, as it resulted in a civil war amongst the tauren. The exodus of the Darkspear trolls from Orgrimmar, led by a dissatisfied Vol'jin, has spread the Horde's once-concentrated military mighty thin. And Sylvanas Windrunner, the Dark Lady of the Forsaken, has not been reserved in sharing her low opinion of the new warchief. Garrosh is not one for diplomacy—with the Alliance or even among the members of the Horde—and he is only now realizing the price for this mindset. Whether he sets that at a higher value than his vision for an invigorated, purified Horde is yet to be seen. In the end, some feel that Garrosh Hellscream's ideals will bring about the salvation of the Horde, while others feel he will usher in its downfall.
We'll be examining other key characters' transformations—including those of Anduin Wrynn and Magni Bronzebeard—in the months ahead, so come back soon.