Gilneas (pronounced Gil-NEIGH-uhs, [gɪlˈniːəs]) is one of the seven human kingdoms located in the peninsula south-west of Silverpine Forest on the continent of Lordaeron. It is ruled by Genn Greymane of the House of Greymane. With the events of the Cataclysm, Gilneas has rejoined the Alliance. Gilneas is the starting zone for worgen, and is revisited by forsaken during the Silverpine Forest storyline.
The human kingdom had supported the Alliance during the Second War, but King Greymane had no qualms about severing all ties to the outside world when it became clear that the Alliance needed Gilneas more than Gilneas needed the Alliance. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, darkness fell on Gilneas after the Greymane Wall's gates had been closed, and the worgen curse ravaged the nation. Before long, Gilneans were fighting against Gilneans in a bloody civil war that left the kingdom in tatters. Remarkably, the people of Gilneas have somehow managed to hold on to the last vestiges of their humanity... for now.
Gilneas is a large peninsula that juts into the sea south of western Lordaeron. Silverpine Forest lies to the north-east and Kul Tiras awaits across the sea to the south. The kingdom was founded following the splitting of Arathor and besides the peninsula, the kingdom also included the island of Zul'Dare, and formerly held lands in southern Silverpine Forest including Pyrewood Village and Ambermill. The southwestern reaches of Hillsbrad Foothills in the area around Azurelode Mine were also part of Gilneas.
Its king Genn Greymane never ardently supported the Alliance of Lordaeron in the Second War. Thus, after the war, he constructed the Greymane Wall: a massive barrier spanning the entire northern border. The enormous wall barricaded Gilneas from the rest of Lordaeron for around two decades.
It was later discovered that the 'worgen curse' has swept mercilessly across the nation, eventually turning nearly all of its inhabitants into savage beasts. Escalating tensions among the survivors escalated into bloody civil war that all but wrecked the nation. Following the Cataclysm and an invasion by the Forsaken, some of these Gilnean worgen have regained their free will. After Gilneas fell to enemy hands, Gilneas rejoined the Alliance.
Following their victory in their war against the trolls, the empire of Arathor entered into a period of prosperity and growth. After the death of King Thoradin the empire began to expand, founding new city states in the wilderness - including Gilneas. Each city grew and prospered, Gilneas and Alterac developed strong armies which explored the world. Over time the power of Gilneas and the other city states grew as that of Strom waned, eventually they developed their own customs and beliefs and the empire splintered into independent kingdoms. Under the rule of King Archibald, the nation thrived, evolving into a formidable middle-power capable of rivaling even Kul Tiras or Stromgarde.
By the start of the Second War Gilneas had become recognized as a significant entity in the political landscape of Lordaeron. Emboldened by this fact, the kingdom's ruler, Genn Greymane, was not a strong supporter of the Alliance, believing that his own armies would be more than enough to deal with any threat. However, wanting to ensure trade relations with the other kingdoms, Genn sent a token force to assist the Alliance.
Shortly after the Horde was defeated, Greymane pulled his nation's support from the Alliance, refusing to spend his nation's resources on keeping the orcs alive in internment camps or in rebuilding other nations devastated by the war. Gilneas, along with Stromgarde, in fact led the outcry over the decision to not execute their defeated enemies.
The Greymane Wall and the Third War
Some time after the Second War, Greymane constructed the Greymane Wall — an enormous stone barrier that now separates Gilneas from Lordaeron. Attempting to forever remove his nation from what he considered "other people's troubles", he barricaded the majority of Gilneas behind the Wall. No one, not even other humans were allowed to enter Gilneas. The lands of Lord Darius Crowley including Pyrewood and Ambermill were notably separated from their liege and nation by the Wall, effectively ceded to Lordaeron. The Greymane Wall even remained closed to human refugees begging to be allowed in during and after the Scourge's invasion of Lordaeron. The status of Gilneas became unclear to the outside world, and rumours of what was transpiring there became the subject of rumours throughout the Alliance - the renowned explorer Brann Bronzebeard theorised that it had fallen to the naga as one such example.
At the peak of their strength, the Scourge relentlessly assaulted the Greymane Wall and threatened to devour all Gilneas. King Greymane's armies held the wall for days against a massive sea of undead hordes, but for every undead that fell, another took its place.
In a desperate attempt to hold the seemingly-unstoppable Scourge at bay, Greymane ordered his court archmage, Arugal, to unleash a 'secret weapon' against the Scourge — the worgen, who had been contained for millennia in the Emerald Dream. Unfortunately, after attacking the Scourge, the worgen turned on the Gilnean soldiers, infecting them with their Curse, and began attacking other humans living in Silverpine Forest. Before long the affliction had advanced through the legendary barrier and was gradually eating away at Gilneas' humanity. As reports of strange attacks and disappearances rose, fear took root in the hearts of Genn's people.
Gilneas was shielded from the rest of the world, by the Greymane Wall by land and by its high cliffs and treacherous reefs by sea. Refugees and other nations long entreated Gilneas for aid, but these unfortunates never so much as saw a Gilnean. Many became easy prey for the worgen that occasionally strayed south from Shadowfang Keep. For many years King Greymane forbade any attempt to leave the self-isolated, and all ports were closed, leaving sailors and people of other nations stranded in Gilneas (such as Tobias Mistmantle, and the pirates of the Brashtide Crew). Gilneans that were themselves locked out of their homeland were a rare sight, but not unknown (such as Baron Longshore, captain of the pirate ship "Heedless").
While Greymane's efforts to stem the tide of the Scourge kept Gilneas from the grasp of the undead, the Greymane Wall inadvertently subjected the Gilneans to a dark fate all the same. Many fell under the worgen curse, as it did with their neighbors to the north in Silverpine before them.
A small group of soldiers known as the Gilneas Brigade joined the Human Expedition led by Jaina Proudmoore during the Third War, but these were actually sent by Lord Crowley as an act of defiance against Genn.
Although once a close friend of Genn Greymane, his staunch isolationism led Lord Darius Crowley to eventually take up arms against his king. Leading his armed supporters into Gilneas City in an attempt to depose King Genn, a bloody civil war erupted between the two factions, pitting Gilnean against Gilnean, brother against sister. The so-called 'Northgate rebellion' officially ended when Crowley and his leading allies were captured by Greymane's forces, although rebels and their sympathisers continued to hoard weapons and supplies around Gilneas. Political divisions had led to a deep and bitter hatred between 'rebels' and 'royals', something that has only just begun to heal with the Gilneans' focus shifting to their common enemies.
Unbeknownst to many of the kingdom's citizens, a war between beast and man raged within the worgen themselves. To compound the worgen threat, the Forsaken started battering at the nation's gates in a bid to conquer Gilneas. Under orders from Garrosh Hellscream, now Warchief of the Horde, Sylvanas Windrunner was commanded to conquer the lands of Gilneas to secure resources and its safe ports. Sylvanas had her own objective – the retrieval of the [Scythe of Elune], an artifact capable of summoning complacent worgen that could spread their curse to all humanity.
Due to the efforts of the ancient 'Alpha Prime' of the worgen, Ralaar Fangfire, the worgen epidemic grew with fervor. Ultimately his Bloodfang pack of wild worgen launched a massive attack on Gilneas City, overrunning the kingdom's capital. Crowley and his Northgate Rebels were released from Stoneward Prison by Greymane's edict and quickly agreed to give aid to King Genn, who had ordered the evacuation of Gilneas City to Duskhaven. In order to divert the worgen's attention from the fleeing citizens, Crowley led a group of Gilneans to stand against them at Light's Dawn Cathedral. Crowley and his followers were overwhelmed, and became worgen themselves.
Only with the aid of a night elf priestess Belysra, a secret counsellor of Greymane, were the cursed Gilneans shown a way to retain control of their human minds once transformed into worgen. Many, however, remained feral and under the sway of Alpha Prime, an ally of Sylvanas, until his death at Tal'doren.
Finding a short-lived refuge in Duskhaven, Krennan Aranas, Greymane's court alchemist, managed to restore temporary sanity to a number of captured feral worgen. The Gilneans' respite was to be short-lived, as the Cataclysm destroyed some of the jagged reefs that protected Gilneas from sea and breached the famed Greymane Wall itself, allowing the Forsaken to pour into Gilneas by land from Silverpine as well as land at Duskmist Shore. As the Forsaken invasion progressed, the whole south-west of Gilneas began collapsing into the sea, destroying Duskhaven. Gilnean survivors fled to abandoned Stormglen Village as Greymane and Lord Godfrey traveled to Tal'doren to ask Darius Crowley and other worgen healed by the Night Elves to help unite Gilneas against the Forsaken. Due to Lord Godfrey's tyrannical command, Crowley was hesitant to accept. Greymane told Crowley that he is asking him as a friend and not as a king, and after revealing that he too had succumbed to the worgen curse, they agreed to join forces. Though the Gilneans, worgen and human alike, led a valiant attempt at driving off the Forsaken by reclaiming occupied Gilneas City, Horde reinforcements and the use of the Forsaken's Blight would soon overwhelm them. With his son Liam killed by Sylvanas herself, Genn decided to seek sanctuary in Darnassus and one day return to reclaim Gilneas.
Driven by their curse and the threat of the Forsaken, Gilneas was finally driven back into the Alliance's fold, owing a great debt to the Night Elves who helped heal the minds of many who fell victim to the worgen curse. Lord Crowley and his loyal worgen; the Gilneas Liberation Front, have renewed the war against the Forsaken, advancing as far as northern Silverpine Forest. With the aid of a gnomish submarine used to break the Horde's blockade of Gilneas, the elite 7th Legion spearheaded a vast Alliance offensive to reclaim all of Lordaeron from the Forsaken, starting with Gilneas. The combined forces of the Alliance (including Gilnean and now-allied Bloodfang worgen) quickly bested the Forsaken occupiers of Gilneas City, eventually pushing them past the Greymane Wall.
However, the Horde managed to rally in Silverpine, holding back the 7th Legion and enabling the Forsaken to resurrect Lord Godfrey as one of their own, a fact that none of the Gilneans were aware of. Sylvanas Windrunner's use of the val'kyr to resurrect fallen humans as allies forced the Alliance to rely on soldiers of other races. Crowley later surrendered to Sylvanas after she took his daughter hostage, threatening her with undeath. This signaled an end to the Alliance offensive in Silverpine, although the Bloodfang Pack expanded their activities into the Hillsbrad Foothills.
Meanwhile Lord Godfrey rebelled against Sylvanas and killed her (although she was quickly resurrected) and took over Shadowfang Keep as an independent power. Sylvanas returned to Undercity to recover.
At some point, a black drakonid named Creed disguised as Lord Hiram Creed and his Blackhowl forces took control of Gilneas.
Then the Alliance was constantly under assault by the Horde as the Battle for Gilneas raged on.
After the defeat of Garrosh Hellscream, Varian Wrynn said that they would cleanse Gilneas and keep Sylvanas Windrunner at bay.
The worgen curse that started from Shadowfang Keep and swept across Gilneas left its people irrevocably transformed. Almost the entire human population has been turned to the beastly worgen, a humbling failure for Genn Greymane in his efforts to keep his people safe. The reaction of the people to this change will likely be greatly varied, and has yet to be revealed. Preliminary dialogue from Cataclysm has revealed that Gilnean mages and healers went to great strides to fight the affliction.
Gilneas has undergone deep changes in the wake of its cursing, and while the people maintain their free will, the impact of the curse remains to be seen.
The forsaken, led by Dark Ranger Thyala, have begun the Invasion of Gilneas.
People and culture
A person from Gilneas is referred to as Gilnean. Like most humans, they typically revere the Holy Light, though some formerly reclusive ruralists practice a form of druidism. Such people were known as harvest-witches by the majority of the population. It is referred to as the Old Ways.
It is tradition that a small memento be buried on top of a Gilnean's graveyard, beneath the shallow earth.
Their clothing, weapons, architecture and accents have great Regency connotations, which along with the cold and rainy weather of the peninsula, give the feeling of being in nineteenth century London.
The wolf appears to be a common symbol of Gilneas, and a wolf skull adorns its coat-of-arms. However, unlike Silverpine Forest to their north, there are no wolves in Gilneas proper. Having been walled off from the rest of Lordaeron it is possible that wolves have been hunted to extinction (as happened in 17th century Britain), as Gilneas seems to be currently home to both sheep husbandry and a hunting culture.
In the RPG
Lord Genn Greymane, a brawny warrior who is in his seventies, has ruled Gilneas for decades. Gilneas had not allowed anyone in or out, and no one knew what has been transpiring there since the end of the Second War.
Like their leader, Gilneas' people are burly and gruff. Extremely isolationist, they supported the Greymane Wall's construction. They speak common, and have their faith in the Holy Light. Their resources are unknown.
Gilneas is a cold, rainy place, mainly because The Great Sea surrounds the peninsula on three sides, making sea storms common. High cliffs on the shores protect Gilneas from sailors' curious eyes. The Greymane Wall is the only evident site in Gilneas.
In Lands of Conflict it is stated that Genn Greymane never actually supported the Lordaeron Alliance in the Second War. This was later retconned in the story Lord of His Pack, where Greymane agrees to allow soldiers under Lord Godfrey to aid the Alliance, along with mentioning the economic strains imposed on Gilneas by the other nations.
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