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Sylvanas Windrunner

Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen of Lorderan, is one of the most interesting characters in the Warcraft universe. Though not technically considered a villain, she's certainly seen as one by the Alliance and even to a number of her Horde allies. Originally the Ranger-General of the High Elves, Sylvanas was killed and transformed into a banshee by the Lich King, Arthas. In a moment of defeat and weakness, Arthas lost partial control of his undead army, and Sylvanas took that opportunity to break free and found her own undead faction, the Forsaken.

Under Sylvanas, the Forsaken joined a reluctant Horde due to their usefulness on Azeroth's eastern continent. A fierce combatant and brilliant military strategist in life, Sylvanas became a powerful leader in undeath, expanding the territory and influence of the Forsaken at every opportunity. They never quite fit in with the orcs, trolls, and tauren, though they've formed bonds with the Blood Elves due to Sylvanas' heritage. Due to demon interference in Forsaken society that resulted in a coup attempt and a plague attack on Alliance and Horde alike, Sylvanas has been under deep suspicion by the Horde's orc leadership since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

Of course, the Wrath of the Lich King expansion ended with Sylvanas' final revenge against Arthas, as she had the opportunity to participate in his destruction. Having achieved that, Sylvanas began contemplating the future of her people, realizing that they would need a method of procreation in order to survive. She took in the val'kyr from Arthas' defeated army and has been using them to convert defeated enemies into Forsaken, something that horrifies many of her allies. She also attempted to prove herself to the Horde leadership by leading a campaign against the worgen homeland of Gilneas, during which she perpetrated a number of atrocities against her foes. Rumors both in-game and amongst WoW lore-hounds say that something has changed about Sylvanas since Arthas' death, and that she now seems willing to stoop quite low in order to ensure the survival and success of the Forsaken.

Sylvanas is an interesting character in several ways. She's one of the few powerful female leaders in the Warcraft universe who has been allowed to take center stage during recent World of Warcraft events. Her proud ability to raise up an entire nation of people from the ashes of undeath and her increasingly morally questionable actions make her a fascinating character to watch. There's going to be a big leadership shakeup coming to World of Warcraft soon, but Sylvanas remains a major wildcard in the balance of power. What we can (hopefully) count on is that she's a crafty survivor who will surrender neither her person nor her nation without an impressive fight. — Becky Cunningham

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