Ah, the Defias. There are few who can play this game without encountering them at least once in their leveling experience. So who is this elusive band and what are their goals? If you play an Alliance character, especially a human, most likely you will do a series of chain quests in Westfall that specifically deal with this group of cutthroats. Lets take this time to look at exactly who they are and what various sources from World of Warcraft have to say about them.
When the human kingdom of Stormwind was leveled by the Horde Invasion during the First War, Anduin Lothar lead its survivors to Loredaeron. There while acting as regent lord for the newly minted King Varian Wrynn, Lothar told the other Human kings and their allies what had befallen them following the murder of King Llane Wrynn, Varian's father. King Terenas pledged his aid to young Varian as well as assisted Lothar in bulling the other kings into do the same. Once the First War drew to a close King Terenas convinced the other kingdoms to finance a reconstruction of Stormwind City. Knowing that young Varian would be to busy attempting to reclaim his former kingdom to direct such a huge civic project Terenas set up a council of representatives from several Noble families to act as advisers to the king and over see the rebuilding project in his stead.
This council, called The House of Nobles, commissioned a talented young architect by the name of Edwin VanCleef, the current leader of the Stonemasons Guild to design and coordinate the reconstruction. Many of the laborers and craftsmen saw these actions as a renewal, as well as a chance to display their skills. At great personal expense many relocated to Stormwind, bringing their families with them. Others saw the project as a means to make a profit while participating in a lucrative government funded contract since not ALL were original refugees. When the building was completed these craftsman turned to the House of Nobles for payment. Unfortunately many of those council members had misappropriated the funds they were suppose to be distributing. They decided that the best course of action was to act surprised by the demands and inform the builders that they were SUPPOSE to be grateful for having been allowed to participate in such a legendary project, as well as offering government jobs to the leaders. When many of the craftsmen rejected this, demanding compensation for their work, the House of Nobles expelled them from the city.
Into this powder keg rides young King Varian who has spent the passing years clearing the surrounding areas of hostiles so that his people can begin to rebuild their farms. When the House of Nobles inform him that the artisans are causing an issue Varian is shocked, demanding to know why the craftsmen were not paid earlier as he had been lead to believe. He demands that the House of Nobles make good on their promises. At this point the Nobles confess that they HAVE no money, telling the young king that it was sent to HIM to fund his build up of the military. Guilt stricken the Royal family goes to meet with now roaring mob hoping to defuse the situation.
What happens next will greatly impact the Kingdom of Stormwind forever. Varian's queen Tiffin is killed during the ensuing riot. His infant son Anduin is narrowly rescued from being trampled. The council of Nobles declare the stonemasons responsible for the violence, forcing what few remain to flee. Varian then falls into a magically induced depression and becomes a silent figure head for the next 10 years. The council, now lead by Katrina Prestor take control of the kingdom in his name. To further protect their interests and cover their guilt the House of Nobles pull the vast majority of the military forces Varian had put in place to protect the country side back to the capital. This results in only token forces or in some instances where the outposts had yet to be constructed, nothing at all to guard the general population.
It is into this void that the Defias Brotherhood step in. VanCleef you see is not only a stonemason, but he specialized in creating secret rooms and safe houses. This activity brought him into close contact with the current leader of the Stormwind Assassins and SI:7 Mathias Shaw. The two developed a close friendship to the point that Shaw had taught VanCleef many of the tricks of the trade to being an assassin. Using his former position of leadership and personal charisma VanCleef gathers up the disillusioned and vengeful craftsmen, promising that together they will "retrieve their rightful pay" from the pockets of those who cross their path. Together they construct a hideout in their former haunt the Deadmines, source of the majority of the stone and ore that was used to construct Stormwind City.
One can not create such a large band with out catching the attention of the local bandits. In the end VanCleef is able to convince them of the benefits to be found joining forces with HIM over attempting to compete or take them out. By the time he is finished VanCleef has created an loosely connected force that controls much of the area from Duskwood to Elwynn Forest. By bolstering his forces with mercenaries VanCleef now commands a more well rounded and gifted army than many believe. By directing his followers to avoid direct conflict with the Stormwind guard and People's Militia as much as possible he is able to keep the exact size and scope of his organization hidden.
While VanCleef himself still spouts the founding ideals of the Defias Brotherhood as being the seeking of justice and bringing down corruption within the House of Nobles. The induction of bandits and mercenaries of other races such as Goblins, Tauren, Ogres and Kobolds has changed the rank and files focus to one of pure profit and power. Recruits need only to put on the signature red mask and seek out members of the Defias to join, however once indited absolute obedience is expected. The Warcraft RPG books also describe many members tattooing a cog on their hands to further indicate their allegiance as well as defacing Stormwind coin to show their disdain for its king.
Originally VanCleef's plan is to construct a "weapon of mass destruction" and use it to disrupt Stormwinds trade lines as well as perhaps destroy Stormwind itself. After all why should the villainous Nobles get to enjoy the fruits of all HIS hard work? Many believe the ship located within the Deadmines is this "weapon of mass destruction" but this has never been verified. When VanCleef is killed by "a group of adventurers" at the request of Gryan Stoutmantle of the People's Militia the Defias SHOULD have disbanded or at least fallen in prominence. Any of VanCleef's Lieutenants with the ability to assume command were sitting in the Stormwind Stockade. However someone else is able to quickly redirect the Defia's attention. So quickly in fact that some question if VanCleef was REALLY the one in charge of the Defias, or just playing the role of figure head like Varian Wrynn.
Currently in the game the quest chain dealing with the kidnapping of King Varian has been largely swept aside lore wise. To recap, Lady Prestor purchases the services of the Defias through a middle man, Lord Gregor Lescovar, promising them King Varian. The Defias jump at the opportunity, thinking to ransom the king for fees owed as well as damages. However as is revealed in the Warcraft Comic Prestor is only using the Defias to cover her OWN activities and plans for the king. Before Wrath this chain completed with Lady Prestor buying you off before sending your way. It is not until much later when completing the Jail Break chain (which was removed from the game at the beginning of Wrath) that her true nature and plans are revealed. Now, instead of presenting your findings to Prestor at the end of the Defias chain you report to the King directly who commends you for your work in uncovering the plot before offering the same rewards Prestor gave.
With Prestor out of way you would think that the Defias would begin to fade into the background, but not quite yet. The original craftsmen have STILL not been compensated and while King Varian was sympathetic to their plight 10+ years ago, a lot has happened since then. During that time the members of the Defias Brotherhood have preyed on the populace endlessly, furthermore they acted DIRECTLY against the King by participating in his kidnapping. If not for the unexpected attack of the scourge the Alliance military would have turned their attention to wiping the band out. Instead the countryside is STILL left relatively undefended while King Varian throws the majority of Stormwinds military resources toward stopping the Scourge and renewing the battle with the Horde. This gives the Defias an unexpected opportunity to reorganize.
There is some speculation that the "Heroic Deadmines" we have all been hearing about may be more than just a "Level Up" of the former instance. Instead it may deal with where the Defias is CURRENTLY after dealing with its recent disasters. Cataclysm will provide many opportunities to rework this organization and we already know that Westfall, its major base of operations, is getting a major overhaul. We can only wait and see.
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