The Claiming of Frostmourne
The Claiming of Frostmourne
The archmage Antonidas suspected that the undead plague was magical in origin, and so he sent the sorceress Jaina Proudmoore to the northlands to investigate. With her went Prince Arthas Menethil, only son of King Terenas. Jaina and Arthas tracked down and killed the Lich King’s servant, Kel’Thuzad, but the necromancer’s death failed to halt the rise of the Scourge. As the battle against the undead wore on, the prince’s faith and patience began to wane.
Joined by the legendary paladin Uther the Lightbringer, Arthas and Jaina nevertheless arrived at the gates of Stratholme too late to stop the distribution of plague-ridden grain. Arthas realized that the innocent villagers would inevitably join the growing ranks of undead. He ordered Uther to purge the town and slaughter the civilians before they could become minions of the Scourge. When Uther refused, Arthas accused the veteran knight of treason and disbanded the Order of the Silver Hand. Uther and most of his remaining cavalry left the village in disgust, and Jaina, horrified by Arthas’ decision, abandoned the prince as well.
Despite the loss of his supporting forces, Arthas carried out his plan, putting the city’s innocents to the blade and burning every remaining structure to the ground. Something in Arthas snapped that day, and as he walked away from Stratholme, he left much of his humanity in the flaming ruins.
The prince then dedicated himself to stopping the Scourge at all costs. In time he traced the source of the plague to Northrend. With a heavy heart and steadfast determination, the prince set out for the snowy roof of the world. In Northrend Arthas was surprised to find an old friend, the dwarf Muradin Bronzebeard. Muradin had been searching for a blade renowned to have legendary powers: the blade called Frostmourne. Arthas resolved to seek out the enchanted blade and wield it against the Scourge. However, at Uther’s urging, King Terenas soon recalled Arthas and his troops. Before the expedition could set sail for home, Arthas secretly hired indigenous mercenaries to burn the ships. Leading his troops to the ships, Arthas feigned surprise and ordered his bitterly disappointed soldiers to hunt down and kill the mercenaries.
Arthas then scoured the desolate wastes for what he believed was the key to his people’s salvation. In time Muradin and Arthas discovered Frostmourne and read the foreboding inscription on its pedestal. The inscription warned that Frostmourne’s wielder would indeed gain power eternal, but at a cost: “Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit.” Despite the warning and Muradin’s protests, Arthas swore that he would pay any price to possess the blade.
At the prince’s reckless urging, Frostmourne freed itself from the ice in which it was encased, in the process taking Muradin’s life. Arthas seized the blade, which destroyed what little remained of his humanity. The prince could not have guessed that the Lich King was the blade’s true master, nor could he have known that in addition to Kil’jaeden’s enchantments, Frostmourne possessed an ability that had been bestowed by Ner’zhul: the ability to steal the souls of the living.
With Frostmourne in hand and a growing darkness in his heart, Arthas wandered into the frozen wastes to answer the call of his new master..