The Mad King of Tirisfal is an element of human history that few remember. Perhaps some forget him out of ignorance, and some prefer not to know him, for he was one of the darkest moments in that race’s history. The Mad King, whose real names was intentionally erased from memories, was born in the last years of Thoradin IV’s reign and grew up in the waning years of the tumultuous period following his death. When he was merely sixteen, his father, a lord of now destroyed city of Tirisfal, died of an “encoraching necrotic corruption”, which might have been a magical curse, or merely a disease medicine of their time did not know. The youth inherited vast libraries of forbidden knowledge his young mind was not able to handle – and indeed, even adults would not handle some of the tomes the old lord gathered.
The city of Tirisfal is speculated to have been located somewhere in the area commonly referred to as “Whispering Forest”. That name is not merely poetic, as most humanoids report strange whispers in their heads while in the forest. Many tried to attribute these whispers to pre-existing mental illnesses or to tricks of wind, but most magical scholars agree that the whispers are real. After the high elves warned the humans to never build anything in the area due to their own experiences with it, for a long time the area remained unpopulated. However, in the later years of the Arathi Empire, the city of Tirisfal was built around a great cathedral, meant to ward off the “evil spirits”. The source of these whispers or evil spirits remains unknown to this day, but is commonly speculated to be an Old God or one of their minions.
The Mad King’s family, hereditary lords of Tirisfal, has always been exposed to these whispers. Although most citizens were safe by occupying their minds with frequent prayers to the Light, one of the Mad King’s ancestors stopped praying and one day started listening to the whispers. What resulted generations later was a library of dark texts, allegedly praising the Old Gods and detailing dark magic meant to sacrifice innocents to attain more power. Whether that was true remains among the legends, but the Mad King’s discovery of his true heritage led him to experiment – and soon, he started listening to the whispers as well.
Over the years, he became increasingly dark. When the Sons of Thoradin appeared on his doorstep and issued a call to follow them in looking for the lost heir to the Empire, they did not expect to be listened, but they did not expect the man’s reaction either. He ordered the messengers flogged and then flayed, and the remains displayed in the courtyard. The next evening, he announced himself a King of Tirisfal and gathered the armies of the lords once sworn to his father in order to form his new kingdom.
In the following decade, the armies he gathered swooped across the countryside of what we know as Western Lordaeron. The armies bearing the banner of a kraken on a twilight-colored background attacked anything in their path, be it Lordaeroni, Dalarani, Stromics, Gilneans or Tuathars. The great cathedral that once guarded the sanity of humans in his kingdom was defiled and converted into a temple to his “slumbering master”. As he implemented new laws, each more insane than the previous one, a steady stream of human sacrifices began, in an effort to wake the Old God. At the same time, his paranoia and cruelty was only deepening, but all revolts were crushed by the mind-controlled soldiers, empowered by creatures of the Void.
Finally, the kingdoms surrounding his decided to band together for the first time since the splintering of the Arathi Empire. Queen of Tuathar, King of Gilneas, Supreme Magus of Dalaran and King of Lordaeron all signed a treaty that any infighting between them must cease until the Mad King is put down. The united forces were finally able to fight back against the mad armies of Tirisfal and began conquering its territories. Most villages welcomed the conquerors with open arms, and many of them stopped considering themselves Tirisfalen almost immediately.
When siege came to the city of Tirisfal itself, the Mad King remained on his throne, madly thrashing around in search of answers. According to an old tale, he finally heard a whisper that promised him a way out of this situation – that he’d have to burn everything down. He began yelling at his servants to burn the whole city, with all the citizens still inside, but was then struck down by his own most trusted bodyguard who believed he finally went too far. The city gates were opened and almost all of the citizens escaped it immediately, trying to forget the horrors they lived through. Ironically, the city was then burned down, along with the Mad King’s corpse.
Now, not a single stone remains of the old capital of the short-lived kingdom and the very name of the Mad King was struck from record to prevent a horror like him from reoccurring. Some say his spirit lives on in the Whispering Forest and sometimes burns those who’d dare to disturb his rest, but the true problem is the Mad King’s dark master – still unknown and unaccounted for, probably still scheming with his servants, now within the Twilight’s Hammer.