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The orcs of Draenor had lived in a noble shamanistic society, roaming in tribes the grasslands of Nagrand on their dusty world of Draenor, for over 5,000 years. They lived in peace with the draenei and were at war with the ogres. Eventually, the presence of the draenei drew the Burning Legion to Draenor. After investigating of the world, the powerful demon lord Kil'jaeden tricked the respected shaman Ner'zhul in to striking a bargain with him. He convinced Ner'zhul that the draenei were conspiring against the orcs, and were planning on attacking. In exchange for their service to the Burning Legion, Ner'zhul and all of the orcs would receive the power necessary to conquer vast new lands, and Kil'jaeden would have an army able to crush the draenei. To obtain this power, the orcs would need to first drink from the blood of Mannoroth the Destroyer, a mighty pit lord of the Burning Legion. Grom Hellscream was one of the first to drink, and easily convinced the other chieftains and their clans to follow suit. This put them under the Blood Curse. an orc overlooking DraenorWith mass murder of the Draenei, the elements refused to aid the orcs in their war. believing that the Elements had turned on them the orcs turned to Ner'zhul. Gul'dan was then introduced as the new leader of the horde. slowly the entire race was corrupted into rampaging clans that would later be forged into the Horde. Over the next few decades the draenei and many other indigenous races of Draenor were almost utterly destroyed. Completely devoured by their demonic bloodlust and without new enemies to fight, many orc clans began fighting amongst themselves. Petty rivalries would balloon into full scale bloodbaths, and total chaos descended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerrilla campaign that continues to this day.

During this time, Ner'zhul, no longer willing to watch his race destroy itself, betrayed Kil'jaeden and Gul'dan was put in his place as Spiritual Leader of the clans. Gul'dan cared little for the Horde and easily agreed to follow Kil'jaeden in exchange for even more power. Kil'jaeden taught Gul'dan how to project himself into the Twisting Nether and to commune with the dead. Gul'dan was changed by these encounters and realized how to attain even more power. Gul'dan also changed the way the orcs where ruled. He gave Blackhand the title of Warchief during the war.

Gul'dan gathered all warlocks who shared a desire for ultimate power and attempted to the share knowledge of communing with the dead. Those who failed did not survive. The few warlocks who survived formed the initial ranks of the Shadow Council. Through careful manipulation and intricate machinations, the Shadow Council became the real ruling body of the Horde, with the clan chiefs under their thumbs. The Shadow Council barely pacified the clans of the Horde with the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach for the Horde to conquer before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control. Gul'dan also founded the schools of Necromancy to expand the new demonic magics to even more orcs.

One night, an extremely powerful entity touched the thoughts of many orc warlocks. Gul'dan sought the advice of Kil'jaeden as to what this new presence might be, but his summons went unanswered. If Gul'dan's own tutor Kil'jaeden feared this entity, then it could prove to be a powerful tool if Gul'dan could re-establish contact with it. Weeks later, Gul'dan was finally successful and opened up communication with Medivh, a sorcerer on some distant world. Gul'dan attempted to probe the designs of this Medivh, but Medivh's mind moved far too quickly for Gul'dan to discern much of any value. Conversely Gul'dan knew with near-certainty that Medivh was attempting the same, and did not want Medivh to gain an advantage, and so quickly broke contact.

Orc from Chinese commercialWeeks later, Medivh returned to the dreams of the warlocks on Draenor, and presented them with images of the land of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to strike a bargain to do Medivh's bidding if he could furnish a way to bring the horde into Azeroth. Those warlocks who were not members of the Council, but had also partaken in the vision, were killed to allow the Horde to be properly prepared for a new invasion. Weeks passed with no further word from Medivh. Some members of the Council believed Medivh was playing tricks on them. But then, one day, the rift appeared.

Over time and much effort the orcish warlocks were able to expand the rift enough to allow orcs to squeeze through. Though their first scouts were driven mad, either by the rift itself or by what they had seen, the council was able to confirm that on the other side of the rift was the world Medivh had shown them. A small contingent of orcs was sent through the stabilized rift, now known as the Dark Portal, to scout and construct a base of operations. The caution urged by the Shadow Council fell on deaf ears when the clan chieftains learned of how seemingly weak the native humans of the area were. Bloodlust soon overcame the Horde, and they launched a preemptive strike against the most powerful establishment of humans in the area, the Kingdom of Stormwind. Lead by Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer Clan and Killrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow Clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Both chieftains blamed the debacle on the other, and the Horde polarized into two factions. The Shadow Council attempted to reunite the Horde, but could not act directly, and so they chose an avatar to act as their puppet ruler: Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of all the Horde once again.

Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was upon this event that Medivh once again made contact with Gul'dan. Medivh seemed even more powerful, but less sane. Medivh ordered Gul'dan to have the Horde destroy the Kingdom of Stormwind, and make Medivh the new ruler of the humans. Gul'dan initially refused to do Medivh's bidding; after all, the Horde had a new target - and Medivh's usefulness, in Gul'dan's eyes, had been spent. Desperate to see his plans succeed, Medivh tempted Gul'dan by promising to reveal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion and Kil'jaeden's master. And so the First War between the Horde and the humans of Azeroth occurred, ending with the destruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind. Near the beginning of that conflict the Frostwolf Clan, the only clan of orcs that rejected the demonic gifts of Kil'jaeden, was exiled to Azeroth and its leader Durotan was murdered by Gul'dan's forces as a warning. His infant son was left for dead and was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron escaping the carnage of Stormwind. The Frostwolves, leaderless, fled to the far northern mountains. Toward the end of the war, a surgical strike was launched by the humans to kill the treacherous Medivh. As Medivh was assaulted, Gul'dan felt the psychic trauma waves Medivh emanated, and realized his chance to obtain the power of Sargeras was about to slip out of his grasp. He entered Medivh's mind, and attempted to steal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras from Medivh in his weakened and distracted state. It was at this moment that Medivh died. Gul'dan, having been in his mind at the time of death, was thrown into a coma.

When he awoke, Gul'dan learned of a major power shift within the horde. Blackhand the Destroyer had been overthrown by Orgrim Doomhammer after he had learned of Blackhand's role in Durotan's death. Doomhammer was not as gullible or easily swayed as Blackhand had been, and quickly discovered the Shadow Council's presence in orcish affairs. He completely eradicated the Council through accusations of treason. Gul'dan survived only by 'swearing' allegiance to Doomhammer, and by promising to provide a vast undead army for the Horde's use. He formed the Stormreaver Clan and began the process of re-animating the corpses of fallen knights with the spirits of the fallen members of the Shadow Council.

These new Death Knights, along with other fel advances (such as the capture of the red dragon queen), gave the Horde enough strength to advance steadily north, despite facing the might of the unprecedented Alliance of all the human nations (Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Gilneas, Alterac and the magical forces of Dalaran). The elven nation of Quel'Thalas sent support to the Alliance, and after the taking of their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes threw themselves gladly into the ranks. The betrayal of Alterac to the Alliance seemed to be a deathblow - but before the orcs' victory was finalized, the Horde suffered a betrayal of its own.

Believing victory to be inevitable, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan that he knew the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. Together, along with the Stormreaver clan, they abandoned their posts and set out to claim the demonic power for their own. This loss of nearly a third of the Horde brought their campaign to a standstill at the doorstep of Lordaeron. Doomhammer, furious with the insubordination at such a critical time, pulled much of his Horde away to crush both the clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde. With the destruction of the Dark Portal the Second War ended. Although a number of powerful men in the kingdom of Lordaeron wanted the orcs rounded up and executed, King Terenas ignored them and had them placed in internment camps with hopes of the orcs one day losing their bloodlust and joining the Alliance. There, cut off from their demonic source and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.

Thirteen years after the Second War, the son of Durotan, named Thrall, escaped from his cruel human master Aedelas Blackmoore at the Durnholde internment camp and set out to find the rest of his people. In his travels he encountered Grom Hellscream, who along with his Warsong Clan had been hiding out in the wastelands of Azeroth hoping for another chance at conquest. Thrall became friends with Grom, and eventually met Orgrim Doomhammer, who had escaped from the humans' prison several years before. From Doomhammer he learned about his father and the Frostwolf clan, and the betrayal of his father by the Shadow Council. After learning this, Thrall made his way to the exiled Frostwolf clan stronghold, where he learned from their shaman about the orcs' noble heritage and how it had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from all the chains that bound them, and embarked upon the path of the shaman. Together with Grom and Doomhammer, Thrall successfully launched attack after attack against the internment camps to free the captive orcs. It was difficult to rouse the orcs from their lethargy, but Thrall was able to prove to them that their destiny was not yet at its end, and the clans rallied behind their new Warchief. Unfortunately and ironically, during the attack on Durnholde, the last internment camp, Doomhammer was struck down. In tribute to the fierce and proud orc, Thrall donned Doomhammer's black armor and the hammer which bore his name and led his people from their captivity.

Thrall knew the human nations would not stand idly by and let the Horde regroup or settle down. Fortunately for Thrall, a prophet appeared in the form of a raven and advised him to leave Azeroth for the distant land of Kalimdor. Thrall, having no better alternatives, captured some human ships and set sail for the new land, taking all of his orcs out of Lordaeron. During the journey, the orcs helped a tribe of trolls escape from their sinking island. The Darkspear trolls were immensely grateful for Thrall's assistance and swore allegiance to the new Horde.

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