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Prince Arthas Menethil
Prince Arthas was the crown prince to Lordaeron and heir to the throne of his father King Terenas Menethil II. Arthas was a Paladin under the tutelage of Uther the Lightbringer and member of the Knights of the Silver Hand. He had a romantic relationship with another famous name in Warcraft lore, Jaina Proudmoore. However, the two were kept separate by their duties to the kingdom, but they remained close friends.

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Kel'Thuzad was responsible for infecting villagers with the scourge plague.

Orcs and the Plague of the North

When the orcs broke free and began causing problems in the land at the same time a strange plague ravaged the north, Prince Arthas and Uther the Lightbringer were dispatched to investigate and deal with the problems. During this time, Arthas encountered the necromancer Kel'Thuzad and his plot to infect village grain supplies with a plague capable of turning humans into undead. He pursued the necromancer to the village of Andorhal. Arthas was able to defeat the necromancer, but not before he managed to infect the village's store of grain and have it shipped to the unsuspecting villagers. Kel'Thuzad would tell Arthas of a greater threat, the one he served known as the dreadlord Mal'Ganis, a demon leading the scourge armies.

After Kel'Thuzad's defeat, Arthas and Jaina tried to stop the infected grain from poisoning the villagers. As they arrived in the village of Hearthglen, Arthas discovered the grain had already arrived and been distributed. Arthas sent Jaina to find Uther the Lightbringer while he and his men defended the village from his former people now turned newly infected scourge. Arthas managed to hold off the attack just barely before Uther arrived with reinforcements. Unfortunately, many of the villagers had already been lost and the scourge was slowly infecting the land.

After nearly suffering defeat and being rescued by Uther, Arthas began to act less noble than would be expected of a paladin. When he learned another village had been infected, he ordered that the village be cleansed by killing its inhabitants. When Uther disobeyed the order, Arthas stripped him of his rank and expelled his paladins. Arthas then led the charge into the village of Stratholme himself and wiped out the infected. Arthas then came face to face with the demon Mal'Ganis. Determined to end things Arthas challenged him, but Mal'Ganis fled, telling Arthas to gather his armies and meet him in the icy lands of Northrend. There, Arthas' true destiny would unfold. Arthas vowed to seek the beast to the ends of the earth. Unfortunately for Arthas, this is exactly what Mal'Ganis wanted and one of the events that set Arthas on a much darker path.

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Arthas claimed Frostmourne at the cost of his own soul.

Frostmourne and the Corruption at Northrend
Arthas later took the king's fleet to the shores of Northrend in search of Mal'Ganis. When he arrived on the shores of Northrend he was met by an unexpected visitor, Muradin Bronzebeard, a dwarf who had trained Arthas in his youth. Muradin was aided by Arthas in battle with reinforcements and it was then that Arthas learned the dwarf was seeking a legendary sword known as Frostmourne. Arthas believed he could find Frostmourne and use it to aid his people. Unfortunately, this sword would ultimately prove to be his undoing.

As Arthas planned his advance into Northrend, he learned that his old mentor, Uther the Lightbringer, had convinced the king to recall his men. Arthas, infuriated by this action, ordered all the remaining ships burned to their frames to prevent anyone from leaving until their mission in Northrend was complete. In a further act of deception and betrayal, Arthas hired mercenaries to aid in destroying the ships. After the deed was done, Arthas informed his men that the mercenaries had done it and had them all killed. With no way home Arthas was able to convince his men to carry on with the campaign in Northrend.

Arthas pushed his army further into Northrend and eventually he found Mal'Ganis. The demon managed to surround Arthas' camp. With nowhere to run, Arthas convinced Muradin to help him claim Frostmourne to turn the tide of battle in their favor. Muradin reluctantly agreed, but he had an unsettling feeling.

In order to reach the chamber that was holding Frostmourne, Arthas had to defeat its guardian. Upon the guardian's death, he tried one last time to warn Arthas away stating that he was trying to protect Arthas from the sword. The young prince did not heed the warning and entered the chamber with Muradin. In the chamber, Frostmourne sat on an alter encased in ice, Muradin took notice of an inscription. It told of a curse that would scar the soul of its wielder. Muradin tried in vain to convince Arthas to abandon the sword. Arthas instead called out to the spirits of the sword stating, "I will give anything or pay any price, if only you will help me save my people." With that the ice encasing the sword exploded, presumably killing Muradin and allowing itself to be claimed by Arthas.

With the power of Frostmourne at his disposal, Arthas was able to cut down his enemies and reach Mal'Ganis, but a strange voice began to speak to the prince. When Arthas came face to face with the demon, Mal'Ganis, he explained that the voice Arthas was hearing was that of the Lich King. When Mal'Ganis asked what the voice was now saying to Arthas he realized only too late that he too had been betrayed. Arthas stated it was time for his revenge and cut down Mal'Ganis with relative ease. Once Mal'Ganis was dead, Arthas disappeared into Northrend as the maddening voice of Frostmourne destroyed what remained of his sanity.

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Prince Arthas on his way to murder King Terenas.

Corruption and Betrayal

When the voice of the Lich King had all but consumed Arthas, he returned home to Lordaeron and slew his father King Terenas Menethil II. He then disappeared and later returned as a Death Knight in the service of the Lich King. It was then that he met Tichondrius, a dreadlord. Arthas mistook him for Mal'Ganis and immediately began threatening him. Tichondrius introduced himself and explained he had come to help the Arthas. When Arthas mentioned he no longer felt guilt or remorse for his actions, Tichondrius explained that Frostmourne was forged by the Lich King with the purpose of stealing souls, and that Arthas was the first it had claimed. Tichondrius then sent Arthas back to Andorhal to recover the remains of the necromancer Kel'Thuzad. Once Arthas retrieved Kel'Thuzad's remains, the necromancer began speaking to him in a spiritual communion that only Arthas could see. Kel'Thuzad began to guide Arthas and informed him that he should not trust the dreadlords. Arthas continued to work for the dreadlords with Kel'Thuzad guiding him with ulterior motives.

The king wasn't the only one to fall to Arthas' betrayal. His old mentor Uther the Lightbringer and several of his fellow paladins were also slain by Arthas when Tichondrius ordered him to retrieve a sacred urn kept by the paladins to store Kel'Thuzad's decaying remains in for the journey to Quel'Thalas. Uther informed Arthas that the urn he had come to claim housed the ashes of his dead father. Arthas only laughed and without a second thought murdered his life-long friend and mentor Uther.

The Fall of Quel'Thalas

In order to resurrect the necromancer Kel'Thuzad, Arthas was sent to the elvish lands of Quel'Thalas.
It was at this time that Arthas laid siege to Silvermoon, the capital city of the elves in hopes of capturing their sunwell to resurrect Kel'Thuzad. Although the elves fought bravely, they were no match for the Scourge forces under Arthas' command. Silvermoon fell and its hero Sylvanas Windrunner was defeated. Arthas not content with simply defeating Sylvanas' forces raised the defeated hero as a banshee, enslaving her in death. He then used the elvish sunwell to resurrect Kel'Thuzad as an undead Lich.

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Archimonde's wrath leveled the city of Dalaran.

Medivh's Spellbook

As Arthas and Kel'Thuzad traveled to Alterac Valley, Kel'Thuzad explained the plans for the next wave of the invasion. Arthas learned of the Burning Legion, an army of demons that have overrun countless worlds and now has its eye set on Azeroth. The scourge is just setting things up for the invasion to begin. Arthas is instructed to destroy an encampment of Blackrock Orcs that guard a demon gate. Once the orcs were dead, Kel'Thuzad communicated with the demon Archimonde. The demon instructed Kel'Thuzad and Arthas to retrieve the Book of Medivh in the mage city of Dalaran.

The Scourge forces invaded the city of Dalaran and despite the valiant efforts of the Kirin Tor, they were defeated and their hero and guardian, Archmage Antonidas, was slain. Arthas then held back the mage attackers as Kel'Thuzad summoned the demon lord Archimonde into the world using the Book of Medivh.

When Archimonde appeared, he declared that the Lich King was of no further use and began taking his revenge on Dalaran by laying waste to the city using a foul ritual of power. A small dusty version of the city rose from the ground and as Archimonde crushed the small dust model, so fell the city of Dalaran. Arthas was left to wonder what would become of himself and Kel'Thuzad, but the necromancer informed him that all was proceeding as the Lich King had foreseen. The two then vanished for a time. Sometime later, Arthas returned briefly to inform the newly freed Illidan Stormrage of a way to claim the arcane power of the Skull of Gul'Dan which Tichondrius had been using. Arthas informed Illidan that he could claim this power and use it to destroy Tichondrius. After that, Arthas again faded away.

The Return to Lordaeron

Archimonde left a trio of deathlords in Lordaeron to keep the former kingdom under control. When Arthas returned to the kingdom to claim his throne, he confronted the three dreadlords. The three fled Arthas, leaving the death knight to call upon his ally Kel'Thuzad and his enslaved servant Sylvanas. The power of the three combined was enough to crush the remaining resistance of Lordaeron led by the paladins Magroth the Defender, Halahk the Lifebringer, and Dagren the Orcslayer. During the battle, Arthas felt the cries of the Lich King. The cries caused Arthas so much pain that it weakened his powers. While still managing to slay the paladins, Arthas did not notice his hold on Sylvanas had weakened. Allowing her to slip free of his control.

Sylvanas took advantage of this and began meeting in secret with the dreadlords and planning her revenge on Arthas. When the young prince was ambushed in the city, several banshees appeared. Claiming to be sent by Sylvanas, Arthas followed them right into her trap. Sylvanas incapacitated Arthas with a paralyzing arrow, leaving the death knight at her mercy. However, before Sylvanas could finish her prey the necromancer Kel'Thuzad appeared to aid Arthas.

The Frozen Throne

The cries of the Lich King continued to cause Arthas pain. The Lich King would tell Arthas to return to Northrend and protect the Frozen Throne. Lady Vashj the Sea Witch and Illidan Stormrage had set their sights on the Frozen Throne and they intended to destroy it. Arthas took his fleet back to Northrend, leaving Kel'Thuzad behind to watch over Lordaeron. Upon reaching the shores, Arthas found himself under attack by the blood elves (the remnants of Quel'thalas), but Arthas was again rescued, this time by named Anub'arak. The Crypt Lord would tell Arthas that the blood elves he encountered were scouts and the main force would be even more difficult to overcome. He then suggested that Arthas take his men through the ruins of the kingdom of Azjol-Nerub. This way he could reach the Frozen Throne before Illidan.

Along the way Arthas raided the lair of Sapphiron, a blue dragon and servant of Malygos. The dragon kept great treasures that aided Arthas in his campaign, but Arthas wanted more. With his remaining powers he raised the dragon as a powerful frost wurm to serve him.

Arthas was met with many challenges on his way to the Frozen Throne. He fought Baelgun Flamebeard and his men, the remaining forces belonging to Muradin Bronzebeard. He also encountered an ancient race known as the Faceless Ones. Arthas managed to survive all the conflicts and when he reached the Upper Kingdom, the Lich King once again contacted Arthas. The Frozen Throne had been cracked and the Lich King's power was seeping from it. Ner'zhul (the Lich king) then replenished Arthas' powers for the coming battle. Arthas, with the aid of Anub'arak, managed to fight past the naga and blood elf forces guarding the Frozen Throne, but when Arthas entered, he found Illidan waiting for him.

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Arthas and the Lich King Ner'zhul became one.

Now We Are One

Arthas and Illidan fought a short and vicious battle, but in the end, Illidan got careless and was slashed with Frostmourne. Leaving Illidan bleeding in the snow, Arthas entered the tomb. As he proceeded deeper, Arthas could hear the voices of those he had betrayed calling to him. Jaina Proudmoore, Muradin Bronzebeard, and Uther the Lightbringer all called out on deaf ears. Arthas ignored them and continued up the winding staircase until finally he reached his destination. Before Arthas sat a frozen tomb. Inside it only a thorned helmet could be seen. The voice of the Lich King called to Arthas saying, "Complete the circle. Release me." With a mighty swing of Frostmourne, the ice was shattered and the helmet fell at Arthas feet. Arthas picked up the helmet and placed it slowly onto his head bringing the Lich King's plan to completion as he uttered the words, "Now we are one.". Thus Arthas the Lich King was born.

Five years passed and Arthas had not been seen nor heard from since his unholy union with the Lich King Ner'zhul, but now he has returned with the Scourge and an unholy plan.

Additional Lore Information
Frostmourne - A runeblade of great power forged and cursed by the Lich King. its purpose was to steal the soul of its wielder. Prince Arthas was the first to be claimed.

Ner'zhul - The Lich King was imprisoned and forced to serve the Burning Legion until he was freed and formed an unholy union with Prince Arthas.


Arthas vs Illidan

The Lich king is Born - Warcraft 3: The Frozen throne

Wrath of the Lich King

Lore Resources:

Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos

Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

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Stacy "Martuk" Jones was a long-time news editor and community manager for many of our previous game sites, such as Age of Conan. Stacy has since moved on to become a masked super hero, battling demons in another dimension.