Thrall, or Go’el by his parents, may be one of the most prominent and influential individuals in the modern world. He is known my many names: The Earth-Warder, Warchief of the Horde, Chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, Liberator of Orcs. But in order to understand exactly who Thrall is, where he came from, and how he came to be such a powerful icon in the modern world, we must first visit his tragic yet humble beginnings.
If you read through our brief history of Azeroth, you’ll recall the opening of the Dark Portal by the last Guardian, Medivh. Prior to the Horde’s invasion of Azeroth, Durotan and the Frost Wolf clan were exiled by Gul’dan for not cooperating with the Horde’s initiative. They fled through the portal ahead of the invading forces and tried to find their own home in a hidden valley in the Alterac Mountains. Two years after the opening of the portal, they had a child, and named him Go’el.
The story begins here, with sorrow and tragedy. Gul’dan, knowing Durotan’s influence over the Orcs, and how respected and revered he was, could not openly attack the Frost Wolves for fear of causing an uprising. Gul’dan needed to head off Durotan before he could join Orgrim Doomhammer to resist Gul’dan.
By now, Orgrim had usurped Blackhand, the puppet Warchief of the Horde under the thumb of Gul’dan, and had vowed to stand with Durotan against Gul’dan. Orgrim sent the Frostwolves to where he believed they would be safe until the time came to confront the warlock. Unfortunately, the a guard that accompanied Durotan and Draka was actually a spy for Gul’dan and summoned assassins to their hide away.
On a single fateful night, the assassins attacked. Durotan and Draka were utterly outnumbered, but fought bravely. Knowing they would not survive, the baby Go’el was safely aside on a carriage, more or less protected from the onslaught. The assassins soon overwhelmed the Frostwolf leaders. Draka was the first to fall, Durotan being forced to watch, helplessly as his life mate was dismembered and murdered. He fought with utter fury, but could not overcome the attackers. In a final moment, both of his arms were severed from his body and he was left lying next to the body of his mate, his last thoughts hoping that his son would not be torn apart by the creatures of the forest.
It’s here, at moment, that the story of Durotan and Draka ends, and that their legacy would be immortalized. Eventually, baby Thrall was discovered by Aedelas Blackmoore among the dead bodies of his parents. Blackmoore was a notable commander of the interment camps established to house the Orc survivors after the end of the Second War.
Blackmoore decided to take the Orc baby with him, hoping to manipulate the child to his own ends. It was here that he received the name Thrall, so he would always remember that he is a slave.
As Thrall grew, he was raised as a gladiator, honed in combat as much as any orc would have been, but also educated in tactical strategy as any human noble would have been. This manner of his instruction and exposure at all stages of his early life, combined with his natural affinity for intelligence blessed by his parents, saw that Thrall would prove to be a brilliant student and a fighter few could equal.
During his up-bringing, he was trained by many to be the best that he could be, fueled by Blackmoore’s desire to have the greatest gladiator. As he grew, he befriended his wet-nurse’s daughter, Taretha Foxton, as his only friend for all of his early life.
Thrall is described to have a towering stature, large even by comparison to other orcs, but also was clever, inventive, and intelligent. Still, Blackmoore was abusive and would regularly subject Thrall to punishment, both in the ring, and out. It was Taretha’s friendship that helped Thrall through this time, passing letters to and from her hidden in delivered books. Eventually, Thrall decided he needed to escape.
Taretha decided to help him. She created a diversion that allowed Thrall to escape from his cell. After he freed himself, Taretha and Thrall met in a cave where she delivered supplies to him for his departure. With his thanks, he departed, hoping to escape Durnholde forever.
Unfortunately, Thrall didn’t get too far. He was captured some time later and taken to an internment camp. Here he met Kelgar, a red eyed old orc that told him of the things Gul’dan had done, including the corruption of the Orcs with the blood of Mannoroth. Even as the Orcs were captives, he spoke of Grommash Hellscream, the undefeated Chieftain of the Warsong clan, who still considered embracing the gift of power for the glory of the Horde.
Blackmoore came looking for Thrall, hoping to find him among the captured interns, so Thrall escaped once again and set out to find Grom. A time later, he did find Grom and after he proved himself to the Warsong orc, he was taken under his wing and taught his heritage, including the Orcish tongue. It was revealed to Thrall that he was descended from the Frostwolf Clan on account of his waddling cloth found as a baby. Thrall remained with Hellscream for a period of time, before eventually setting out to find the Frostwolf clan and discover his heritage at last.
Thrall tirelessly trekked across the Alterac Mountains, to virtual exhaustion. At that last, single moment, Thrall was rescued by the a Frostwolf scouting party and taken to their the Frostwolf camp. It was here that Thrall met the now Chieftain of the Frostwolves, Drek’Thar. It was he who told Thrall of his parents, and of their fate. Additionally, Drek’Thar taught Thrall the ways of the Orcish people; their honor, their nobility, and the way they were before Gul’dan corrupted them. In time, Thrall was accepted as a member of the Frostwolves. A frost wolf named Snowsong chose Thrall as her companion, inducting him at last to the clan proper. Once this event occurred, Thrall was taken to a place of silence by Drek’Thar, insisting that it was necessary for his initiation into the Frostwolves.
Here, at this space he had never been to, in what is described as one of Thrall’s most spiritual experiences in all his life, he met and befriended the spirits of the elements; Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. This marked Thrall’s first day as a Shaman, and was the first inducted Shaman of the Frostwolves since Gul’dan’s corruption.
Thrall embraced his life, his people, and the ways of the Frostwolves fully. He was reborn, in a sense, finding pride and embracing his father’s legacy and memory, honoring him as the Son of Durotan. This moment in time was incredibly significant for the Orcish race. This was the moment when the elements accepted the Orcs as Shamans once more, after Drek’Thar’s fall (as well as the rest of the Orcish horde, sans-Frostwolves) into corruption and resorting to demonic power.
Many sources say that this is the moment that Thrall was prophesized to be the greatest Orc Shaman in Orcish history, but its inconclusive. Regardless if it was prophesized or not, the end result is that he did become the greatest Orc Shaman by any standard.
Eventually a wandering stranger came to the Frostwolf camp. Thrall was pleasant to the newcomer, welcoming him. But the stranger accused the Frostwolves of hiding away in the mountains, which angered Thrall. He was a proud Orc of the clan, and he became furious at the accusations. Imbued with pride, Thrall declared that he would join Hellscream and free the Orc prisoners. The wanderer wafted the notion away, contesting that Hellscream was a “demon-ridden dreamer” and that the humans were not worth fighting.
This enraged Thrall, and he challenged the wanderer in single combat for the sake of his honor. The stranger accepted, threw aside his cloak, and revealed worn plate armor and a massive war hammer.
Their duel was short, but filled with fury, rage, and brutal displays of power. In the contest, Thrall disarmed the stranger at the climax of the bout, but was held back by other members of the Frostwolves when he attempted to follow-through. It was here that the stranger revealed to Thrall that he was Orgrim Doomhammer, the Warchief of the Horde and dear friend of his father, Durotan.
Drek’Thar had contacted Orgrim with praise about Thrall and the return of shamanism to the Orcs, and Orgrim provoked Thrall to assess if the praise Drek’Thar gave him was true. Only Thrall’s father was able to best Orgrim in battle, and as such, he earned the respect of the Warchief of the Horde.