While Lordaeron’s Capital City was the largest and most populous in the kingdom, Stratholme was the second. Its growth and prosperity were a shining example of human potential in the northern lands.
In the Second War, Archbishop Alonsus Faol founded the Knights of the Silver Hand in Stratholme as an act of desperation. The first paladins were mere clerics forced to pick up arms and armor, or knights ordered to read holy scripts.
They were made to combat the dark magic that the Old Horde used to great effect. The creation of paladins ended up being a turning point, being a pivotal force that ultimately led to the Alliance to victory in the Second War.
However, Stratholme was not safe in the interim. Being a port town, it served as the main source of oil for the Alliance in the northern lands. The Horde maneuvered to sabotage the city’s oil platforms and refineries.
With that operation successful, the Horde then destroyed the entire city of Stratholme. This attack crippled Lordaeron’s navy, as well as cut them off from their elven allies in Quel’Thalas.
In the years following the Second War, Stratholme was rebuilt to even greater glory, but as you may well know, a far darker fate lay ahead. Just before the Third War broke out, infected shipments of grain from Andorhal were delivered to the city.
This grain was infected with a special strain of plague from the Scourge. Any who would consume it would quickly fall ill, die, and rise as an undead. Prince Arthas was investigating the grain and came to Stratholme.
He was shocked to find the entire city’s inhabitants had already consumed the infected grain. They were doomed. The prince made the hard decision to kill the inhabitants of the city, his own people, as a mercy killing.
Uther the Lightbringer and Jaina Proudmoore, who were with him at the time, refused to participate in the slaughter and departed. Arthas was left to do this dark deed with only his most loyal men with the most hardened hearts.
The Nathrezim dreadlord, Mal’ganis, appeared before him and took credit for this horrifying situation. Driven to outage at the dreadlord’s taunts, Arthas lashed out for forcing him to do this, vowing revenge. His path to darkness had only begun.
Mal’ganis made a game of it; he and Prince Arthas competed to kill as many Stratholme citizens as possible. Arthas was determined to keep as many souls away from the demon as possible. The innocents cried out even as they turned into undead against him.
After the purge was complete, Mal’ganis fled to the frozen continent of Northrend, with Arthas chasing after him to find vengeance and, ultimately, his true destiny. Stratholme was left a dead, scorched husk of a city that burns to this day.
After the Culling of Stratholme, Renault stabbed his father Alexandros Mograine, resulting in the corruption of the holy Ashbringer. Stratholme, despite its power and prosperity in the past, has seen among the worst tragedies to ever occur on Azeroth.
Now, Stratholme is home to the Scourge, as well as a contingent of fanatical Scarlet Crusaders dedicated to the eradication of the undead. The two sides are locked in constant, violent combat inside these ravaged ruins of a once-great city.
Bosses and Encounters
If you look up as we first enter Stratholme, you’ll see banners with the blue “L” on it: the few remaining crests of the Kingdom of Lordaeron, torn and tattered. The Scarlet Crusade’s blood-red “L” seems to say a lot more with that context.
As we enter the city proper, funnily enough, if you look at the signposts, the one pointing south towards the outside says, “To Stranglethorn”. Well… that’s technically true, but… it’s a really unhelpful sign. Was it put there as a joke?
We should take advantage of the fact that the lich Balzaphon is here! He is only present during the Scourge invasion, and won’t remain for long.
Fras Siabi was one of the most famous merchants in Stratholme; his tobacco was considered legendary. It is said that King Terenas, and even paladins such as Uther the Lightbringer and Tirion Fordring enjoyed his product.
Postmaster Malown is dedicated to his work – not hail, sleet, snow, or nosy adventurer will stop the delivery of the mail, not even after his death.
Skul has no special lore to offer. He was likely just a mage in life who was caught in the Culling.
It’s rare to see the spirit of Hearthsinger Forresten around. He was a travelling singer and piccolo player, and just happened to be unlucky enough to be within the city when the Culling of Stratholme occurred. An unfortunate victim of circumstance.
The Unforgiven was one of Arthas’ soldiers that participated in the culling. Lylia was considered a “blade of righteousness” among her people, but she slowly lost her sanity after seeing so many innocents die by her hand.
In a desperate bid to escape from the madness, she killed herself on her sword. However, she was instead ripped from her body in the form of a wraith. She was denied absolution for her heinous acts, and forever roams the streets of Stratholme in regret.
Timmison was a former champion of the light that was infamous for savagery during combat. Some thought that his sadism stemmed from bullying he endured as a child. When he was reborn in undeath, his once-loathed nickname, Timmy the Cruel, returned.
Some speculate that Timmy the Cruel is the same Timmy that Arthas rescued during his days as prince that he later might have seen as a ghoul. However, this theory was debunked by the powers that be. There are many Timmys in this world, apparently.
Archivist Galford takes great pride in taking care of the Scarlet Crusade’s most valued documents. He will defend these secrets to the death.
Malor the Zealous, true to his name, takes the Scarlet Crusade’s preaching to heart, and will staunchly defend the Scarlet Bastion from the likes of the undead. He keeps a medallion of faith nearby as a sign of his dedication to the cause.
Cannon Master Willey is the heavy arms expert of the Scarlet Bastion. In a long drawn-out battle against the Scourge, conservation of ammunition is always important. Willey also seems to have a festive spirit, as he wears a winter hat during the holidays.
Saidan Dathrohan was one of the first five paladins of the Knights of the Silver Hand. While he played a minor role in his fellow paladin Tirion Fordring’s tale, the most important event of his “life” was his death.
After the Culling of Stratholme, Saidan led an assault on the Scourge there. During the attack, he was separated by the others and killed by the dreadlord Balnazzar. Balnazzar then possessed his body, using magic to prevent its decay.
Balnazzar has had quite the history on Azeroth: he had a hand in creating the original Lich King, staged an unsuccessful ambush to kill Arthas, and was killed by fellow dreadlord Varimathras at Sylvanas’ command to prove his loyalty.
Sylvanas gained the ruins of Lordaeron as a result. True demons are hard to kill, however, as they can only permanently die if killed while within the Twisting Nether. Balnazzar found Saidan while within this state between life and death.
The dreadlord, in the guise of Saidan, whispered in the ears of Renault Mograine that he would gain prestige and honor if he would get out of his father’s shadow… forcefully. Thus, Renault killed his father, Alexandros Mograine, with the Ashbringer.
Balnazzar orchestrated the events that corrupted the Ashbringer and destroyed its wielder, Alexandros. With the Ashbringer’s death, the Scarlet Crusade was born, with High General Abbendis and “Commander Saidan” as their core leaders.
Balnazzar continues to use the Scarlet Commander’s corpse as a puppet for his own ends: increasing his power and destroying threats to his existence.
Hidden in the Scarlet Throne is not just Balnazzar, but the fallen Scarlet Crusader siblings Sothos and Jarien as well. They were former members of the Veiled Blade mercenary company, and became corrupted by the amulet of black dragonkin Lord Valthalak.
After abandoning the Veiled Blade, they tried to become members of the Scarlet Crusade, but Balnazzar slew them and raised them as undead minions for failing their initiation rites. They could be considered prototypes for Balnazzar’s undead Risen.
They only appear when someone provides a Brazier of Beckoning to summon them out of the shadows.
Atiesh, the Hand of Sargeras. This demon is all that stands between us and reforging the Greatstaff of the Guardian. We summon him on consecrated earth, where the greatest of Lordaeronian knights fell, to exorcise the demonic influence from the relic.
He wields a legendary weapon, [Andonisus, Reaper of Souls] in each hand, and this is the only place where mortals can wield this lesser-known artifact, too. Andonisus is intrinsically tied to the Twisting Nether, and will return to it in a short time.
Magistrate Barthilas was ordained as a paladin in the service of Tirion Fordring just as the Second War ended. As his parents were killed by orcs, he fostered a deep hatred for them.
One day, he found Tirion injured. Barthilas tried to capture Eitrigg the orc, but he was shocked when Tirion defended him. For this, Tirion was arrested for treason, with Barthilas serving as a witness for the trial.
Barthilas planned to torture and execute Eitrigg, but was angry to find that Eitrig and Tirion escaped during an orc raid on the city. During the raid, Barthilas was stabbed in the chest by an orc. He survived, but his rage lived on.
With his injuries he had to retire as a paladin, and instead took up the Magistracy of Stratholme. He never bothered to learn the truth that Eitrigg saved Tirion’s life that day, and now Tirion lives in exile because of Barthilas’ bigotry.
As magistrate, he tried to calm the masses as the plague swept throughout the city, but of course it took his life as it did all the others. The Lich King eventually raised him specifically as a monstrosity to guard his ruined home.
Aurius Rivendare is a paladin of the Silver Hand. He takes refuge here in the Alonsus Chapel, as the consecrated ground staves off the corruption of the Scourge.
He seeks a Medallion of Faith to give him strength enough to leave the chapel without succumbing to the Scourge, allowing him to face his father, Baron Rivendare.
The influence of the Scourge is strong. He will become the new undead Lord of Stratholme in due time.
Baroness Anastari was infamous in life for her love of material wealth. She always took what she wanted, no matter the cost. This outlook didn’t change after the Scourge murdered her and she returned as a banshee.
Now, instead of taking gold and jewelry, she has the power to take the minds and bodies of mortals. Her possessiveness knows no bounds. If she cannot have you, she will take your life instead.
The Black Guard are Baron Rivendare’s elite skeletal unit. They stole the blacksmithing plans for the greatsword called Corruption, and the Black Guard Swordsmith stands watch over the blueprints. Perhaps they planned to use Corruption for themselves.
Maleki the Pallid was among the first to join the Cult of the Damned. This mage hones his dark magic in hopes of one day being remade as a lich to slake his thirst for power. However, his progress remains infuriatingly slow.
Despite his prowess, there are many in the cult who joined after him yet became liches before he could. That may have affected his ego.
Nerub’enkan fought in the War of the Spider against the first Lich King. She fell in battle just as many of her brethren did, and was raised as a crypt fiend. She defends this ziggurat just as fiercely as she defended her home in life.
There is nothing particularly notable about the gargoyle, Stonespine, other than the fact that it is a rare sight to behold.
Ramstein the Gorger is an infamous abomination in the Scourge’s ranks, as he is stitched together from more corpses than usual and holds a ceaseless hunger for the living. He was a vicious force when the Scourge originally overran Stratholme.
Baron Rivendare was a rich landowner before the Third War, and a good friend to the human archmage, Kel’Thuzad. When the first Lich King called out to Kel’Thuzad, he formed the Cult of the Damned, and soon, Baron Rivendare was convinced to join.
As lord of his lands, he ordered the shipment of plagued grain to villages to expedite the spread of infection. When his misdeeds were exposed, he killed his favorite horse, raised it in undeath, renamed it Deathcharger, and became a Death Knight.
He then fled to the burning ruins of Stratholme to serve as a champion of the Scourge. He spends most of his time coordinating attacks against the Scarlet Crusaders stationed on the other side of the city.
His service to the Scourge was recognized and rewarded, as he eventually became a member of the Four Horsemen stationed in Naxxramas. However, he was eventually defeated and his horse’s reins returned to Stratholme to Aurius Rivendare, his son.