The Scarlet Crusade is a major enemy faction in World of Warcraft, originally fanatical enemies of the Scourge and the Forsaken. They would ironically become Undead themselves in later expansions of the game, yet still believed they were chosen by the Light to exterminate all "evil" from Azeroth, either unaware or uncaring of the evils they inflicted upon the innocents in order to do so.
Original Scarlet Crusade
The Scarlet Crusade is a group of warriors dedicated to the destruction of all undead, and an example of what happens when mad zealots take over a good cause. The Crusade’s members are mostly soldiers — many are Knights of the Silver Hand — who saw such devastation wrought by the Scourge that they resort to extreme measures to destroy the undead. After the disbanding of their brotherhood and the culling of Stratholm, many Knights of the Silver Hand remained in Lordaeron for reasons ranging from missing the fleeing boats, to a sense of duty to clear their homeland of the undead.
In the Western Plaguelands, the Scarlet Crusade strikes against the Scourge from Hearthglen. They hunt the undead in Lordaeron with a frightening zeal. They commonly attack the living who wander too close to their holdings. These paladins have a frightening policy: When in doubt, assume the worst. Many innocent mortals have been killed through misunderstandings, or simply for good measure. Those who question their leaders or policies are assumed to be undead sympathizers and are slain. While the Alliance is in agreement that the Scourge needs to be eradicated from Lordaeron so they can return home, few Alliance members would agree with the methods used by the Scarlet Crusade. They are the natural enemies of the Scourge and the Forsaken, but they have made themselves the enemy of any who cannot quickly and definitively prove their mortality.
Despite its excesses, the Crusade is a powerful force in the eastern kingdoms, having already destroyed several undead encampments in Lordaeron and defeated a number of dangerous Liches as well as the Dreadlord Beltheris.
The Scarlet Crusade sees no difference between the Forsaken and the Scourge and battle the Forsaken zealously.They distrusts any non-Human races, although there once were other races, such as High Elves and Dwarves, in their ranks. They may end up alone on the continent — or more likely, die trying.
Corrupted Scarlet Crusade
After Lord Uther the Lightbringer was betrayed and killed by his former apprentice Arthas Menethil, the Knights of the Silver Hand were devastated by the Scourge's undead armies. Isillien was formerly a priest of the Holy Light in Lordaeron, assigned to be the liaison for the Knights of the Silver Hand. There he worked closely with the elder High General Abbendis (the father of the younger Abbendis) and his youthful charges, tutoring the young paladins in their quest for truth. Priests and paladins fought as the Scourge attacked the city, but they fled as Lordaeron fell around them. Some whisper it was the wounds both men received in battle, or perhaps just the shock of seeing their whole purpose destroyed, but since that day both Isillien and Abbendis had become quite insane. Isillien and Abbendis wandered the area as the Scourge defiled the land, destroying what undead they could, gathering what warriors would join them. They had but one concern: eradication of all that had destroyed Lordaeron.
Among the group were the high-ranking officers Inquisitor Isillien, the Abbendises (father and daughter), Renault Mograine, Taelan Fordring and Balnazzar (who had possessed the corpse of Saidan Dathrohan) have been said to have helped found the Scarlet Crusade, an order of knights focused on the singular goal of defeating the Scourge in all its forms.
Taelan Fordring, one of Isillien’s protégés, adored his tutor and his general. He offered his family’s keep and land, untouched by the undead, for their base of operations. The Crusade gained members whose lives had been ruined by the Scourge. Most members have seen a loved one die and, more often than not, be raised to fight alongside her murderer. Isillien became the spokesman for the group, his ravings gaining more followers than repelling them — and who could argue with the man that the undead were evil?
Some had reason to pause when Isillien’s young page was found with Isillien’s knife through his heart, and the priest calmly reported that the page had died that afternoon while hunting, and the undead had raised him and sent him back as an assassin. He was so convincing that the incident cemented the fear for most: if a freshly killed and raised undead can look just like a regular human, they had no idea who among them may or may not be with the Scourge. After a month of quarantine, all priests and warriors with the Crusade were declared clean. The elder Abbendis and Isillien felt that although they had a good base, they really needed to attack the Scourge where they were the thickest: in the Eastern Plaguelands. Isillien took on the title of Grand Inquisitor and control of the Western Crusade, while the elder Abbendis led the majority of the forces to Tyr’s Hand in the east to strike at Stratholme. As they established their bases and took in many more warriors, they destroyed any undead they found.
Frequently, groups of refugees fleeing the undead also fell beneath their furious swords. As the Grand Inquisitor claims, one cannot be too careful. All undead — good, evil or neutral, Scourge or Forsaken — are the rivals of the Scarlet Crusade. The undead are abominations and must be destroyed before the land and the people can heal. They count the Alliance and the Church of Holy Light as their allies, but these organizations quickly distance themselves from these fanatics, and instruct all travelers to give a wide berth to any Crusaders.
Not long after its formation, the Crusade attempted a strike against the Scourge base in Northrend, and built a fleet specifically for that purpose. The attempt failed, although the Crusaders reached as far as the mouth of Icecrown Glacier. There were many casualties among the high ranks of the Crusade, including its first and only Grand Admiral, first Captain General and first Chief Assassin.
There was, however, one region of the Eastern Plaguelands which had been remarkably untouched by the plague that had despoiled the remainder of northern Lordaeron. This region was appropriately known as the Scarlet Enclave, consisting of the Scarlet capital of Tyr's Hand and the towns of Havenshire and New Avalon. These towns came under the protection of the Crusade forces stationed in Tyr's Hand, led by High General Brigitte Abbendis - the last survivor of the Crusade's original founders.
All that changed with the arrival of Acherus in the skies above the Enclave. In short order, the Scourge had established a base camp in the Ebon Hold's shadow and began their campaign of destruction. As the death knights of Acherus began to march on Havenshire, Abbendis claimed to receive visions from the Light, instructing her to take the most faithful of her troops and journey to Northrend. This became known among the Scarlet troops as the "Crimson Dawn", a revival of the Crusade and its "holy mission".
With the exposure of Balnazzar and Mal'Ganis, much of the senior leadership supposedly eliminated, the Lich King's defeat and Tirion Fordring retaking his old town of Hearthglen for the Argent Crusade, the Scarlet Crusade has become a shadow of its former self.
What is known is that the Scarlet Crusade have expanded their fortifications to the west of the Solliden Farmstead, in a new, small area called the Scarlet Palisade.
It has been discovered that the Crusade has completely lost Stratholme with Balnazzar shedding his disguise and killing the remaining Scarlet Crusaders within the city. Balnazzar then used his necromantic powers to resurrect them, as the Risen. similar fate has befallen the Scarlet presence in Tyr's Hand. Hence, in an ironic twist of fate, many of the Scarlet holdouts have literally become what they sought to destroy.
The Crusade were still active in Lordaeron and tried to rebuild their group. The remaining Crusaders smuggled away after their leaders were killed.
- Brigitte Abbendis
- Grand Inquisitor Isillien
- Mataus the Wrathcaster
- Sally Whitemane
- Renault Mograine
- Archbishop Landgren