|“||Hope is a cruel joke, played upon us by a harsh and uncaring world. There is no Hope, there is only Vanessa.||„|
|~ Vanessa VanCleef|
Vanessa VanCleef is a recurring antagonist in the Warcraft series. The daughter of former mason-turned-criminal, Edwin VanCleef, she was only a child when she witnessed her father's death at the hands of adventurers, which traumatized her and set her on a pursuit of vengeance against the adventurers, as well as the Kingdom of Stormwind. Vanessa is introduced in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and returns in World of Warcraft: Legion.
Vanessa VanCleef is voiced by actress Karen Strassman.
As a child, Vanessa was down in the Deadmines with her father, Edwin VanCleef, when a group of adventurers dispatched by the Kingdom of Stormwind attach and kill every Defias member, including her father. Vanessa watched as the adventurers collected her father's corpse and departed, without realizing she was present. Mortified, Vanessa tread out into Westfall, where she stumbled upon a house in the country that was owned by a kind family of farmers, the Saldeans, who adopted her. They took care of her, and she grew to love them. Because they did not know her name, she went by the name of Hope Saldean.
Years later, after the defeat of the Lich King and the return of Deathwing, Vanessa planned to rebuild her father's Defias Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the neighboring farmers, the Furlbrows, recognized her. She had them murdered by four bandits, which she then blamed the Gnolls and Murlocs.
Vanessa recruited the Ogre Mage, Glubtok, and made him her foreman. She then sent the Gnolls, lead by Jango Spothide, to assault the gates of Sentinel Hill. During this time, she made her way to an old abandoned mage tower, where she met with the Goblin Rogue Helix. They spoke of their plan to rebuild the Defias Brotherhood and free their pirate admiral, Ripsnarl, from his prison in Sentinel Hill.
Later that day, she made her way to Moonbrook, where she rallied the homeless people and recruited them all into the Defias Brotherhood, promising them riches beyond their wildest dreams and the downfall of the king, Varian Wrynn.
Soon after, she disguised herself as Hope Saldean, and told Helix, Glubtok, and a group of bandits to assault Sentinel Hill. There, she freed Ripsnarl from his bonds, and burned Sentinel Hill to the ground. She told one of Marshal Gryan Stoutmantle's soldiers to return to Stormwind and inform the king about the rise of the Defias Brotherhood.
A group of soldiers assaulted the Defias lair, the Deadmines, and killed Vanessa's lieutenants - Glubtok, Helix, Ripsnarl, and "Captain" Cookie. In an epic battle between the soldiers and Vanessa, she used her potions to effect their mind and put them all in a dream. In a final battle, Vanessa had already anticipated they would return to fight her. She planted three packs of explosives on her pirate ship, and after she realizes she could not defeat the adventurers and after two packs were used, detonated a massive explosion that filled the Deadmines and seemingly claimed Vanessa's life.
Having weaponized neurotoxins against the adventurers, Vanessa had actually altered their memories, so they presumed she had been killed in the fiery inferno. Alone, Vanessa joined The Uncrowned and hoped to become of the organization's leaders. Her aspirations were dashed, however, by one of the adventurers who ruined her plans before, as they themselves became a leader of The Uncrowned. Vanessa utilized a poison brew to incapacitate The Uncrowned council while she attacked the adventurer, resulting in her defeat. Rather than facing execution, Vanessa chose to become the adventurer's servant.