Many months have passed since Archimonde and the Burning Legion were defeated at the Battle of Mount Hyjal…
The stalwart night elves, led by the Arch Druid, Furion Stormrage and the Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, have vanished back into the shadows of Ashenvale Forest - intent to heal the ancient lands that were scarred by the Legion’s vile corruption.
The battle-weary orcish Horde, led by the idealistic Warchief, Thrall, has settled in the harsh, eastern hills of the Kalimdor Barrens. Finally able to claim a homeland of their own, the orcs work tirelessly to found and protect their new nation of Durotar.
The human survivors of Lordaeron, under the command of the Sorceress, Jaina Proudmoore, have also settled along the eastern coast of the Barrens. The island citadel of Theramore was erected to safeguard the last, rag-tag remnants of the failing human Alliance.
…And Arthas, the newly crowned King of Lordaeron, has driven the undead Scourge to eradicate the last vestiges of resistance to his iron rule. His kingdom - the once proud bastion of human might and nobility - has become a plagued realm of death and sorrow. Now, driven by haunting visions of the Frozen Throne of Icecrown, Arthas plans to tighten his grip over the rest of the world.
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...Still, one dark soul still remains at large…
For in some shadowed corner of the world, the wayward creature known as Illidan Stormrage plots… and awaits…
Illidan stands on the rocks overlooking the great sea. His intention is to reawaken the ancient slithering naga from their slumber by causing a storm and stirring up the seas. His night elf warden, Maiev Shadowsong wants to imprison him again and she is hot on the heels of the night elf turned demon. Wherever she and her Watchers pass, they find that the land has been fouled by Illidan’s corruption, driving creatures mad and causing the destruction of several villages. In one of these villages, Maiev also notices that the moored ships have been burned. She starts suspecting that Illidan is attempting to flee by sea and is trying to stop them from following him. She rushes her party quickly to the northern port of Nendis, where they see their fugitive sailing away and the naga destroying the remaining ships. In the end, the elves manage to kill the naga and save a couple of ships that they can use to join the chase.
A day later, the hunted and the hunters happen upon a group of uncharted islands. Maiev suspects that this was once the lost city of Suramar, risen from the deeps from where it was sunk ten thousand years before. After establishing a base on one of the islands, the night elves resume their search for Illidan. In their path, they find an old orc named Drak’thul, who asks the elves to help him because he is being haunted by ghosts. In return he tells Maiev that Gul’dan raised these islands 20 years earlier in order to find the remains of the Dark Titan Sargeras. Illidan enters his tomb, and Maiev follows.
As Maiev and her Watchers follow Illidan’s trail, they find runes on the wall that describe Gul’dan’s entry into the tomb. They also find a statue of their ancient elf queen Azshara, and soon after the serpent-like Lady Vashj, who tells them that the naga are in truth descendants of the night elves. They were banished below the seas when Azshara caused the Well of Eternity to implode. When Maiev finally reaches Illidan, the demonic elf reveals that by taking the Skull of Gul’dan he inherited his memories and his mission to take the Eye of Sargeras in order to increase his power. Once Illidan touches the Eye, he causes the tomb to crumble down upon his hunter. However she is able to escape by teleporting herself safely towards the exit.
Back in her camp, Maiev tells her followers that they must fall back and warn Illidan’s brother, Shan’do Stormrage, about what just happened. Illidan’s creatures try to stop her, but the night elves manage to send a runner to call for reinforcements. Back at home, Stormrage and his loving companion Tyrande Whisperwind are glad to see the land recovering from the Legion’s past attack. Until the runner reaches them that is, whereupon they decide to go and help Maiev.
The very next day, Stormrage and Tyrande arrive on the islands to watch Maiev desperately defending her base against Illidan’s forces. They fight through the Naga and reach Maiev just in time. She is not very impressed to meet Tyrande, since the latter had freed Illidan from the former’s custody. Caught in the middle, Stormrage does not want the two women arguing, so he urges them to work together and set up a new base. Tyande is shocked to see what the fugitive has become and agrees to stop him. Aided by the strength of the mountain giants, they manage to defeat Illidan’s followers, but Illidan flees away on his boat.
It is three days later that the elves arrive upon the shores of Lordaeron. Whilst Stormrage goes to take a closer look at the forest, Tyrande and Maiev try to look for Illidan. However, they meet a strange elf who introduces himself as Prince Kael’thas, a High elf who is trying to take refuge with his men and their caravan beyond the river Arevass. Tyrande offers to help and in turn requests the help of Kael to help them hunt the demon once that his men are safe. The elf prince agrees, and later tells them that most of his people were killed by the undead. Because of this they are now called blood elves. Just as they are about to cross the bridge, an army of undead approaches them. Tyrande hurries everyone to cross the river, but she stays behind in order to stop the attackers.
Tyrande ends up in the river after that the bridge that she is standing on falls apart. Maiev and Kael’thas carry on. Stormrage finds out that his brother is using his new powers to tear the land of Northrend apart, and hurries back to warn the other elves. Maiev is so obsessed with seizing Illidan that she lies to Shan’do by telling him that she saw Tyrande getting torn apart by the undead, and hastens him to Dalaran to go after his brother. Partnering with Kael’thas, they arrive just in time to stop the demon’s spell from being completed.
Illidan tells his old companions that what he is really trying to achieve is to destroy the Lich King’s Icecrown stronghold in Northrend and so defeat the undead. At this point Stormrage finds out about Maiev’s deception as Kael tells him that Tyrande just fell in the river. Concerned for his old friend, Illidan offers to send his naga to look for her and Malfurion accepts. Although Tyrande is cornered by the endless undead army, Illidan manages to save her.
Malfurion pardons his brother, who decides that his time on this world is over. So Illidan opens a portal to the Outworld and jumps in. Cursing at her old companions for letting her captive run away, Maiev jumps into the portal before it is closed. In the meantime, Kael’thas arrives in Dalaran to support the human Grand Marshal Garithos who is trying to hold the undead from invading. However, they don’t seem to get on very well together. Garithos orders Kael to stay back and help repair the city, while he leads his own men against the attackers.
Whilst performing his duties, Prince Kael’thas is approached by Lady Vashj. The elf accepts her offer to help him cross the lake. When Garithos finds out about this, he is not too happy and the rift between them grows wider. The observatories that Kael helped to repair spot a massive force of undead. The elf prince is glad when he receives his orders from Lord Garithos telling him to stop the approaching undead force, but his enthusiasm changes when he is left to fight then with only a fistful of sand.
With Kael’thas staring at his own demise, the Naga queen comes to his aid again and helps him to turn his defeat into victory. After the battle is over, Garithos sees the way in which Kael won the battle as treacherous, and orders that the blood elves are to be executed. For the third time, Lady Vashj comes to the prince’s aid and frees him from prison. She proposes Kael that rather than stay here and be executed, he joins her in the service of her master on the other side of the portal. Left with no other choice, the blood elf agrees and starts his people’s exodus.
After surfacing out of the dungeon prisons, Kael and his men must make one last effort to prevent Garithos’ forces from attacking Vashj while she prepares the portal. All elves and naga manage to successfully make it through, and are soon marching on the barren paths of Outland. This land which was once Draenor, the marvellous home of the orcs and draenei, became shattered with the numerous portals that were opened upon it. They soon meet Akama, a draenei who has joined forces with Illidan in order to destroy Magtheridon and his orcish black citadel. Their first step though is to destroy the dimensional gates that Magtheridon is using to call for reinforcements.
The next day Illidan starts his assault on the black citadel. He is joined by Kael and his blood elves, Lady Vashj’s naga, as well as Akama’s draenei. Together, they break through Magtheridon’s forces until they defeat the orc leader himself. At this point, Illidan declares himself as the new leader of Outland. Just then, Kil’jaeden comes looking for Illidan. He wants to know why the frozen throne has not been destroyed, and Illidan promises that it will soon be done.
Meanwhile, Arthas returns to Lordaeron to dispose of the dreadlords Detheroc, Balnazzar, and Varimathras. He is then met by his loyal followers Kel’Thuzad and Sylvanas Windrunner. Their first plan is to obliterate the humans and their towns from the kingdom. As the scourge draws to a close, Arthas starts to feel bouts of sudden pain. It is caused by the Lich King from his frozen throne, who calls Arthas to return to Northrend immediately.
However, somewhere in the Tirisfal Glades on the next evening, Sylvanas secretly meets the dreadlords to plan Arthas’ downfall. She never forgot the day when Arthas turned her into a banshee. They decide to set a trap on the weakened Arthas before he flees to the Lich King, but Arthas gathers his undead subjects and fights back. The Lich King warns Arthas, but the elf is quick to fire a poisoned arrow that immobilises him.
Kel’Thuzad comes to his master’s rescue at once and disperses the banshee attackers with his skeleton crew. Arthas, although injured, sets off to Northrend, and leaves the black mage to defend the area. For now, Lady Sylvanas retreats to the Plaguelands to plan her next move. Yet at the same time she savours her newfound freedom from the Lich King’s grasp. The dreadlords spot an opportunity to strengthen themselves and send Varimathras to invite Sylvanas to join them. When she refuses, he tries to crush her new base.
The banshees bolster their ranks by going around the neighbouring countryside and possessing trolls, murlocs and ogres, together with the human lord Blackthorn and his gang of bandits. Their numbers are large enough that Varimathras is left pleading for his life, and offers to betray his brothers for the Dark Lady’s cause.
It is three weeks later when Arthas sets foot on Northrend, but it is not the same place that he had left. Besides the place falling apart with repeated tremors, a group of blood elves come to attack him. This time, a bunch of spider-people come to his aid, led by King Anub’arak of Azjol-Nerub. Prince Kael shows up too, warning Arthas that he now answers to Illidan, who is approaching Icecrown Citadel to defeat the Lich King.
Although weakened, Arthas hurries on by taking a shortcut through Anub’arak’s underground kingdom. The spider king suggests that they visit a nearby dragon’s lair, where they may find some legendary artifacts to aid them in their passage through the mountains. Arthas has a better idea: steal the dragon lord Sapphiron’s stash and turn him into an undead dragon to do his bidding. With the additional power, the Lich King’s army make it safely to the tunnels.
Meanwhile, Sylvanas is still scheming to overthrow her previous allies. Varimathras takes the Dark Lady’s army to Detheroc’s doorstep, but the dreadlord has dug himself up well and also used his powers to make humans fight for him. Windrunner’s will is stronger than that of her enemies, and she defeats Detheroc and dispels his control over the human leader Garithos. Then she asks him to join her to defeat Balnazzar, the last dreadlord. The human knight is suspicious, but agrees to help.
Soon they are upon a hill overlooking the capital city, where Balnazzar is hiding. Sylvanas says that she will lead the frontal attack, and orders Garithos to strike from the backside of the city. Garithos bolsters his forces with units that were previously separated from his command, whilst Sylvanas loots the city in order to get better artifacts. In the end they manage to find their hidden target and force him out in the city square. The banshee queen orders Varimathras to kill his brother, and when he disagrees she says that it is to prove his loyalty so he completes the deed. She then orders him to do the same with Lord Garithos, and with her enemies swept away she declares that the city is now in the hands of her undead force which from now on shall be known as the Forsaken.
Whilst Sylvanas is gloating on her success, Arthas and Anub’arak set their feet inside the halls of Azjol-Nerub. However, to their surprise they find that the ancient city is inhabited by dwarves. After that Arthas had killed his friend Muradin and left the dwarves wandering around this cold land, their new leader Baelgun has led them to their new lives inside the city and now oppose the death knight’s run. Arthas must hurry to dispose of this new threat, and open the old kingdom lock with the blood key in time to save the Lich King. Baelgun makes his life difficult by destroying the major paths, but in the end Arthas just gets what he came for.
It’s only moments later that Arthas and Aunb’arak walk into a trap set up by the Nerubians, but they keep going nonetheless. Then they meet the faceless ones, horrible creatures that have already scared the dwarves away. The Lich King’s servants kill a number of the creatures, not to mention the forgotten one, but then they run away off to the Upper Kingdom before they are overwhelmed by their numbers. As soon as they are inside, the entrance collapses, and Arthas and Anub’arak are separated.
The mission goes on and Arthas proceeds through the tunnels, avoiding traps but wasting no time to pick up gold coins that are found lying around. He eventually meets his arachnid friend again, but they must hurry up before the whole cave network comes down on them. Quite a big number of creatures prevent the duo from proceeding too quickly, and they are happy when they can see the sunlight again.
The pair of kings have enough time to tell some jokes and stories before they reach the base of the Icecrown Glacier. The Lich King tells Arthas that he is feeling weak because the frozen throne has a fracture that is letting out his energy from within. He reveals that he had let out Arthas’ sword Frostmourne from the throne in order to lead him back to himself. The Lich King asks Arthas to save him from Illidan and his forces, and bestows the rest of his power upon him. They are now prepared to save the King’s throne.
To get to the throne chamber, four obelisks have to be activated. Illidan, already holding two of the obelisks with the help of Lady Vashj and Kael, is preparing his forces to do likewise. The battle begins, with either side trying to activate the obelisks and then holding them long enough. The undead forces manage to take control of all the obelisks and the door to the throne chamber lies wide open. Illidan still steps forward to confront Arthas, and the final duel begins.
Arthas has the upper hand as Frostmourne claims another victim. The frozen ground is soaked with Illidan’s demon blood. Arthas starts making his way up the twisting path towards the frozen throne. When he reaches the peak, he finds the Lich King who implores him to break him free from his icy prison. Arthas complies and becomes the new Lich King after wearing his master’s helmet, thus completing the bonding of their minds. Now, sitting atop his new throne, he looks upon the world thinking of things to come.