The Alliance and the Horde united by Khadgar, led their mighty forces to the battlefield on the Broken Shore in an effort to stop the Burning Legion invasion and to kill Gul’dan. A second wave of heroes arrived to reinforce Varian and Vol’jin’s forces, but as their armies approached the Tomb of Sargeras — Vol’jin fell to a Felguard.
Sylvanas retrieved the wounded Warchief, and called a retreat. As warhorns blared, the Horde stepped away from the battlefield — leaving the threat from the sky open to attack the Alliance’s forces.
Varian ordered Genn Greymane and Mekkatorque to retreat their forces back to the gunship. Gul’dan summoned a hellish machine of war to fall from the sky with the intention to dunk down the gunship, but Genn Greymane quickly commanded the gunship to move away. Unfortunately, the machine of war reached out into the sky to hold the gunship down.
Varian knew that for as long as the machine held the gunship in place, it could topple it to the ground any second — killing all remaining Alliance forces. Closing his eyes, looking within for an answer, he decided to hand Genn a letter for Anduin; and without second-guessing himself, Varian let go of the ladder and plunged down on the machine of war — destroying it by sinking his sword on the head.
Varian was quickly surrounded and overwhelmed by demons, and bravely fought and slay a few — but eventually two felguard stabbed him through the back.
Gul’dan mocked Varian as he laid on his knees, impaled by two weapons: “You will be known as the King who gave his life for NOTHING!”
Varian responded: “For the Alliance!” His last words were basically that he didn’t die for nothing. He saved the Alliance troops onboard the gunship.
Gul’dan pushed a Fel Orb into Varian’s guts, and the last we saw was a Varian getting bloated up with fel energy and exploding.
That’s the end of Varian. The death of King Varian Wrynn. Or is it?
This Gul’dan from a Draenor where Garrosh was never born (an alternate universe) had his timeline tampered with by Garrosh Hellscream (when Kairoz brought him there).
Gromm Hellscream did not drink the blood of Mannoroth from the cup that Gul’dan gave him — because Garrosh warned him of the consequences of doing so.
From that moment forward, the Iron Horde was created, and the natural path of events that might have happened as we know from Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal — did not happen.
However, the previous Gul’dan and the current Gul’dan have one thing in common: Sargeras-Medivh contacted both Gul’dan(s); and both came to the Tomb of Sargeras. Except the new one had a change of heart (Legion Audio Drama: The Tomb of Sargeras by Robert Brooks), and decided to obey Kil’jaeden and destroyed the five seals that prevented the opening of the Fel Portal that could let the Burning Legion come into Azeroth.
Both Gul’dan(s) were different to a degree, but share many things too. The Events of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal did never happen for this AU-Gul’dan (AU stands for Alternate-Universe). That doesn’t mean he is not capable of tinkering the same machinations his alternate-original Gul’dan did.
What was the first thing that OU-Gul’dan (original Universe Gul’dan) do when Orgrimm Doomhammer threatened to slay him?
“I will create for you a host of creatures such as you have never seen before, mighty Doomhammer— warriors who will serve you alone.”
I bet you see where I’m headed to. There’s not much of a difference between raising a death knight and what Arthas did with the soul of Saurfang Jr. World of Warcraft: Legion will have at least two-years of growth.
So far Patch 7.1 will bring Karazhan, and some time along the way Blizzard will introduce two raids: The Nighthold (Suramar) and the Emerald Nightmare. It’s possible that Gul’dan might die in The Nighthold, or escape back to the Tomb of Sargeras. That’s unknown.
Gul’dan is a powerful warlock, and it is a given that after killing Varian, he captured his soul. I am not sure there’s much of Varian’s corpse with the kind of explosion we saw, but his enslaved soul is nigh guaranteed to be held in Gul’dan’s clutches to later raise as he sees fit to guard the Tomb of Sargeras — as a Death Knight.
Same as with Saurfang Jr. — our job is to free Varian’s soul from Gul’dan’s grasp. However, we not always get to kill a boss (I.E. Ulduar watchers). What if Gul’dan’s hold on Varian is severed at the brink of death, and he’s spared? Would he join the Alliance again? Or would he find a place alongside Sylvanas as a Undead; or find a place at the side of Darion Mograine as a Death Knight?
It would be difficult not to think that Gul’dan enslaved Varian’s soul, but if he was not creative to do that, maybe some other powerful beings may have claimed Varian’s soul. The Blizzard Creative team has not been too descriptive on how deep the Ancient Goldrinn and Varian’s soul are intertwined. Maybe Varian’s soul was protected from Gul’dan’s fel magics. We do know that Goldrinn was able to come back to life in the events during World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, along with the other Ancients: Aviana, Cenarius, etc. Can Varian actually be reborn by the power of Goldrinn?
Of course, if Blizzard went that route, he wouldn’t be back in Legion but few expansions from now. It took Magni 3 expansions to come back from his apparent demise in diamond form, and it took Illidan 5 expansions to come back.
Varian the Lich King
It would be a twist if Kil’jaeden sent Varian’s tortured soul back to Azeroth as the new Lich King to prey on the Alliance he once proudly led to war against the Burning Legion.
After all, we have to one day expect the return of Bolvar the Lich King … vs Kil’jaeden’s new Lich King maybe?
The past is repeating itself with the arrival of this new Gul’dan, so all bets are off. Anything is viable.