Restoring Honor within the Horde
The cinematic opens with Anduin watching bodies pour into the Stormwind Harbor. Despite his best efforts, Sylvanas remains a threat. Moreover, Anduin knows that those in body bags are a fraction of fallen Alliance soldiers. Many now fight for the Horde in undeath.
Genn approaches Anduin and says soon, the Alliance will be forced to send farmers into battle. Ever the arbiter of peace, Anduin laments that he started this war to end suffering. He fought for peace. Now, it seems to the young king, the Alliance and Horde merely fight.
Seeing his people, lined up in row after row of body bags, stirs something within Anduin. He departs the Harbor and goes to the Stockades. There, he finds a melancholy Saurfang. Anduin then asks him why the aged Orc spared his life. At first, the high overlord is not receptive. He has been withering under his own despair. Then, Anduin tells him he spared Saurfang because he believes the orc has honor. This causes him to boil with anger, and he exclaims that Sylvanas has ruined his Horde.
Finally, Saurfang answers by saying he thought Anduin would stop Sylvanas. The young king is forced to admit what has been gnawing at his mind. He simply states, “I can’t.” Then, he adds, “Not Alone.” Anduin leaves Saurfang’s cell door open as he departs, leaving the Horde exile to contemplate his newfound freedom.
Another Civil War
Like Garrosh before her, Sylvanas has splintered her Horde. She raised her own soldiers during the battle of Lordaeron, she burned innocents mercilessly during the War of Thorns.
Both of these actions forced Saurfang to confront his own morals. His own son was killed and raised into undeath. Under the influence of the Burning Legion, he and his people committed cruel acts of violence against Draenei and Human alike. After all Saurfang has gone through, he thought Thrall’s Horde was a refuge of honor.
For a time it was. The old Horde held Honor in high regard, and many within the current faction still do. Saurfang is not alone in his longing for the old ways. Baine Bloodhoof has been vocally decrying Sylvanas’ actions during the events of 8.1.
Moreover, the freeing of Saurfang leads to the player following his trail. Eventually, each Horde player makes a decision: Warn and defend Saurfang, or betray him to Sylvanas. Though the player choice was not planned, it marks a potential fork in the narrative. Unlike in Garrosh’s Horde, where players could not actively join the ranks, Sylvanas and Saurfang may drive a real wedge through the Horde playerbase.
The Dark Union
Sylvanas was recently portrayed alongside other faction leaders wielding Xal’atath. While all of the other characters were wielding their iconic weapons, Sylvanas held the Blade of the Black Empire.
Blizzard was not committed to giving Players a choice in the Horde story as evidenced by the initial lack of a choice in the Fate of Saurfang questline. Whatever their plans are for Sylvanas, they have been made for some time. We could be getting a Sylvanas/Siege of Orgrimmar styled ending to BFA, but it is more likely that she will separate herself from the Horde.
Sylvanas is fundamentally a character that sees ends and not means. She does not care about honor; she wants to be the master of death. If forsaking the Horde for a more powerful place within the Black Empire suits her interests, she will do so. Furthermore, Sylvanas’ lust for maintaining power mirrors Azshara’s own want to maintain power. N’zoth gave the Night Elf queen unparalleled power. Perhaps Xal’atath will do the same for Sylvanas.
In turn, the Horde will be in dire need of good leader. Saurfang may be the healing hand that restores lost honor to the Horde. Saurfang’s leadership would be a return to the old Horde. But first, he must return. As Sylvanas’ dark rangers continue to hunt for him, the Horde’s future is tenuous.