The Scourge is one of two major undead factions (the other being The Forsaken), and a major player for control of the world of Azeroth. Created initially as the precursor to an invasion by the Burning Legion, the Scourge broke from their demonic masters and - under the iron rule of the dread Lich King - have built up their power base on the arctic continent of Northrend. Their influence spreads throughout Northrend, as well as the Plaguelands in northern Lordaeron and southern Quel'Thalas, and even Kalimdor to a small degree.
Because the Scourge are universally hostile, there is no way to gain Reputation with them, and hence no faction listing for them in your Reputation window.
The Scourge was a vast army of the dead created by the Lich King - the being formerly known as the orc shaman Ner'zhul. Under the control of the Burning Legion, the Scourge's mission was to spread terror and destruction across the world in anticipation of the Legion's inevitable invasion. The Lich King, who ruled the icy realm of Northrend from his Frozen Throne, created the terrible Plague of Undeath, which he sent southward into human lands. As the plague encroached on the southlands, countless humans fell prey to Ner'zhul's mental control and life-draining sickness every day, swelling the ranks of the already-considerable Scourge.
Though Ner'zhul and his Undead Scourge were bound to the will of the Burning Legion, the Lich King constantly strove to free himself and gain vengeance upon the demons for dismembering his body and damning him so completely. At the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Ner'zhul was robbed of his chance for vengeance when Archimonde was slain and the Legion defeated; but it was at this point that Ner'zhul was finally capable of making his bid for freedom, effectively cutting all ties to the remaining demons as well as the remaining demon lord, Kil'jaeden. Such a move inspired Kil'jaeden to incredible heights of anger, and it was the demon's turn to lust after vengeance. But, thanks to the Legion's defeat, Kil'jaeden was stripped of his capacity to simply bring about swift destruction, and was forced to use more subtle methods to dispose of his rebellious creation.
Shortly after the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Kil'jaeden contacted Illidan Stormrage with an offer too tempting for the Demon Hunter to refuse - slay the Lich King and be granted the awesome power of the demon lord. Gathering his formerly-Highborne allies, the Naga, Illidan traveled to the Tomb of Sargeras and began weaving a massive spell targeting the Frozen Throne using the Eye of Sargeras. However, the spell was interrupted at the eleventh hour by Illidan's brother Malfurion Stormrage, Maiev Shadowsong and Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider. Though the spell was not completed, enough potent fel energy had been siphoned to cause a fracture in the Lich King's icy prison. This caused Ner'zhul to weaken, at a rapid pace, his power to control his undead. It was during this time that a large band of undead, led by Sylvanas Windrunner, regained their free will and left the Scourge, calling themselves the Forsaken. Desperate, Ner'zhul contacted Arthas, the greatest of his Death Knights, by telepathy and commanded him to return to Icecrown Citadel at once.
However, the matter was complicated by Kil'jaeden once again. Growing impatient with Illidan's failures, the demon lord instructed him, with his allies the Naga and the Blood Elves, to travel to Northrend and put an end to the Lich King personally. Arthas' undead forces battled Illidan's army at the base of the glacier, the aftermath of which left Illidan wounded and his troops broken. Arthas, victorious, proceeded into the Lich King's throne chamber, where he used the runeblade Frostmourne to shatter the Frozen Throne and free the essence of Ner'zhul. The spirit of the Orcish shaman then bonded with that of Arthas, and Arthas/Ner'zhul became one of the most powerful beings the world had ever known.
Four years after the transformation of The Lich King, Arthas still resides in Northrend, presumably rebuilding Icecrown Citadel. While the status of the Scourge in the northern continent is currently unknown, the undead in Lordaeron - under the command of Arthas' majordomo Kel'Thuzad - continue to hold the Plaguelands from the enemies of his lord Arthas. It is likely that Arthas plans to retake all of the former Lordaeron from the Forsaken, and from there possibly conquer the whole world.
At the top of the organization is The Lich King, Ner'zhul/Arthas, who sends orders from his ice fortress in Northrend. His direct underlings are liches, undead mages and necromancers with incredible power to spread plague and command undead armies. It is unknown how many liches there are, but Arthas's right-hand lich is Kel'Thuzad, who reigns in Lordaeron and has his hands full fighting the Scarlet Crusade and the Forsaken, the undead who broke free from the control of the Lich King. The banshees under his command often lead scouting troops to discover new areas to infiltrate, while other important Scourge members include necromancers, responsible for raising and commanding the dead, and the Cult of the Damned, a bizarre group of mortals so fascinated by the undead that they follow them, worship them, even emulate them, hoping to one day be damned as the undead are. They don't see the foulness and evil, but rather power and eternal life of undeath.
Most of the undead report to a region's necromancers or liches, who in turn report to Kel'Thuzad. He reports pertinent information to Arthas, but he doesn't inundate his lord with all of the details of the happenings on the continents. If they take over another city the size of Stratholme, or re-enslave the Forsaken, that would be news worthy of telling the Lich King. The rogue undead, the Forsaken, are wild cards. Arthas lost some power over the undead before becoming the Lich King, which allowed one of the more powerful banshees, Sylvanas Windrunner, to escape his hold. She freed many more undead creatures, and currently leads the Forsaken from her tunnel complex underneath the former court of Lordaeron. While they are not part of the Scourge and do not fall into the Scourge organization, they work along the same lines — kill the living and dominate the whole of Azeroth. Arthas sees the Forsaken as something akin to lost sheep, and wishes to bring them back into the Scourge. He has many plans for Azeroth, so he can't focus entirely on Sylvanas, so its unknown when he'll turn his full gaze to her and her followers. The interesting thing is that the farther from a lich or a necromancer the undead get, the more disoriented they are. They lose the command of the Lich King, but they don't necessarily become free. Once the will of the necromancer or other controlling force leaves their head, they have no memory of their former selves, and they shuffle around, mindless husks, searching for someone to lead them. Only necromancers can command the undead.
The members of the Scourge are easy to identify and there is no requirement from them to join, aside from either loving the Scourge, being undead or under the Lich King's spell. Some of the first members were mortals who had fallen in the undead plague, people sickened from the plague who died, only to rise again as zombies. However, this technique of razing cities with the plague to bolster the armies of the Lich King proved to be somewhat inefficient because necromancers soon began to desecrate every graveyard they could find in order to raise more members. Only two things appear to separate a Scourge servitor from the Lich King's will: whatever faltering in the Lich King's power allowed the Forsaken to free themselves from his grasp, and destruction of their bodies. Scourge creatures are bidden to do the Lich King's will and they do this with blind fervor. The Cult of the Damned is an enigma. No one knows why they do what they do. Perhaps their mothers didn't love them enough? They didn't get the right apprenticeships? The love of their lives spurned them (or got turned into undead)? Whatever the reason, they willfully follow the Scourge, dressing in dark robes, doing their bidding, while helping to spread the plague into more and more cities.
The Scourge is primarily concentrated in the Plaguelands. Their primary fortification and "capital" is the ruined city of Stratholme, currently split between Baron Rivendare's forces and the humans of the Scarlet Crusade. The Scourge has also been seen in Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest in Lordaeron, and all along The Dead Scar in Quel'Thalas, which runs from the Ghostlands all the way into Eversong Woods through Silvermoon City to the Sunwell Plateau itself. They also have been reported to have a presence as far away as The Barrens in Kalimdor; "ambassadors" from the Scourge, as well as powerful undead beings, have fortified themselves (along with the plagued Razorfen quilboars) in Razorfen Downs.
The necromancer-lich Kel'Thuzad, the majordomo of the Lich King, controls the Scourge in Lordaeron from his citadel of Naxxramas, floating over Stratholme and the Plaguewood in Eastern Plaguelands; the high elf traitor Dar'Khan Drathir, slain during the Third War, rules the Scourge in Quel'Thalas from the fortress of Deatholme in the southern Ghostlands, to the northeast of Naxxramas; Amnennar the Coldbringer, a lich like Kel'Thuzad, rules Razorfen Downs.
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