If spoilers are to be believed, patch 5.1 is going to have some mind-blowing content. Bearing in mind that the following is entirely based on sound files data-mined on the PTR, MAJOR spoilers are ahead; so stop now if you don’t want the patch ruined for you.
Garrosh is going to attempt to use a weapon to strengthen his forces. The Divine Bell is a mogu-created instrument he claims will “burn away any remnants of weakness.” When rung, the bell can stir warriors hearts, and fuel “their hatred and anger, lending them strength on the field of battle.” Garrosh plans to use this bell to control these emotions for himself and his forces, and strike “fear and doubt into the hearts of [his] enemies.” Either sensing that this would be bad for the Alliance, or sensing that the Bell does not work as Garrosh believes, Anduin and an Alliance Champion intervene to stop him. Anduin claims that the Bell was used by the Mogu to create chaos, but the Pandaren invented a special mallet that can “turn the echoes of the chaos into perfect harmony.” Anduin and the hero use the mallet to foil Garrosh, and in his ensuing rage, Garrosh kills Anduin.
This development is utterly amazing. Anduin has been one of the more moderate power-brokers in the Alliance. Even after being taken captive by Kiryn and Shokia in the Jade Forest, Anduin works directly with a Horde champion in Krasarang Wilds, claiming that intervening at the Temple of the Red Crane is a greater purpose than continuing the Horde-Alliance feud. Later, Anduin lobbies for everyone, including the Horde (which he overtly states), to be allowed entry to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Even Sunwalker Dezco is surprised by Anduin’s goodwill towards the Horde, as after Anduin passionately speaks to the good hearted nature of the Horde, he asks the young prince if he’s ever met the Warchief. This line that previously warranted a chuckle now carries a far more ominous tone.
Anduin’s positive notions about the members of the Horde were influenced by his friendship with Baine Bloodhoof, the Tauren Chieftan. After Baine’s father was killed, the Grimtotem Tribe seized control of Thunder Bluff. A refugee, Baine fled to nearby Theramore where he and Anduin met and bonded. Both are children of powerful leaders, and both chafe against the violent tendencies of their faction leaders, Varian and Garrosh. Anduin respected Baine enough that he gifted the Tauren with Fearbreaker, the great Bronzebeard mace, to help reclaim his home. Knowing that there are honorable, peace-seeking members of the Horde may have blinded Anduin to just how ferocious Garrosh can be. Perhaps this blindness may contribute to his demise.
Killing Anduin is an especially surprising decision for Blizzard because Anduin seemed destined for greatness. He’s recently discovered his affinity for the Light, and after spending so much time training with Velen it appeared as though he’d have the opportunity to grow into a role as a powerful priest. He had revived his father from a fatal wound after a Twilight’s Hammer attack, showing great healing proficiency. Blizzard seemed to be grooming Anduin for a role as a world leader, and instead he has been groomed to be a sacrificial lamb.
We just saw Jaina lose Theramore in Tides of War, and although the culmination was to see her assume control of the neutral Kirin Tor, Anduin’s death looks to finally be the event that will push her to the Alliance. Contrastingly, Varian’s reaction seems to be surprisingly measured. His lack of grief has some suggesting that Anduin may survive the encounter, although a strict reading of Varian’s comments is ambiguous in that regard. It would be disappointing to see Blizzard play the ‘let Garrosh think I’m dead’ card twice in one patch, even if that allowed them to keep all the plot hooks regarding Anduin’s future in play.
Garrosh’s assault on Anduin is yet another step on the journey to the Mists finale in which we raid Orgrimmar and depose the Warchief. The most surprising aspect to this event is that Blizzard is taking a character so long developing, and offering him for the greater purpose of establishing Garrosh as a monster. If Blizzard’s intentions have been all along to use Anduin in this fashion, then we are in for some masterful storytelling in the next few patches. Given their work thus far in Mists of Pandaria, I’d expect nothing less.
Here are links to all the sound files referenced above. As mentioned, Varian’s quotes are the most interesting, as he’s way calmer than anyone would expect. There are a few disparate events here, and since its organized by character, the order is a bit jumbled, but there does seem to be a clear sequence of events with some surprising twists involved.