Lore Sundays: Edwin VanCleef

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Edwin VanCleef is one of the most famous humans in Warcraft lore. VanCleef is the leader of the Defias Brotherhood and one of the most dangerous criminals that threaten Stormwind.

Edwin VanCleef
(artwork from Hearthstone collection)

Early Life

Edwin VanCleef was once so called a “roofwalker” of Stormwind. He is a mastermind when it comes to defeating mechanical defenses. Edwin is also a peerless fighter, as explained by Baros Alexston. Mathias Shaw, the leader of the SI:7 was a childhood friend of VanCleef and he personally trained him as a rogue. There are even some speculations that VanCleef was once a member of SI:7.

His father was a master stonemason and Edwin learned his skills as a child at the side of his father. When the reconstruction of Stormwind began, VanCleef was one of the first to offer his talents and help rebuilding it.

Reconstruction of Stormwind

After the end of the Second War, Stormwind was razed by the Horde and almost completely destroyed. VanCleef was originally one of the architects that worked on rebuilding it. With a mastermind such as him overseeing the operation, it was a huge success. The rebuilding went smoothly and Stormwind was completely rebuilt in less than 10 years. However, the House of Nobles refused to pay the Stonemasons Guild for their work on Stormwind.

Governmental jobs were offered to some of the seniors in the Stonemasons, including VanCleef himself. The terms of the jobs were to be set only if the workers were quiet about this and played along. VanCleef was not willing to betray his workmen about this matter. He refused the offer and said that Stormwind will pay double for this.

Stormwind City Valley of Heroes
(artwork by Blizzard Entertainment)

Shortly after, under the command of VanCleef, workers rioted in the streets of Stormwind. The riots were dangerous and several people died, including the King of Stormwind’s wife, Tiffin Wrynn. As a result, Varian vowed to punish those responsible for his wife’s death and the riots.

The Stonemasons, aware of the consequences, fled Stormwind and started to hide in the rural areas of Westfall. Knowing that the king’s anger would never go away, they were forced to remain in hiding.

The Brotherhood

After fleeing from Stormwind, VanCleef started to make plans of how can he make Stormwind pay for their actions. He taught the Stonemasons with various skills that he learned from the city’s thieves. This helped them to adapt to the wild until their ability was perfected and ready to ambush travelers. When the Stormwind Guard began to respond to their actions, VanCleef turned to another tactic. He and the tinkers that left Stormwind with him started implementing mechanical devices and terrorize Westfall. They unleashed the devices called Mechanical Harvesters and started to terrorize the farms and farmers in Westfall.

Harvest Watcher in Westfall
(artist unknown, image is taken from pinterest)

The Brotherhood started to rob merchants, occupy the gold mines in Westfall, destroy farmsteads that provided food for Stormwinds. Using the money he steals, VanCleef paid his followers and the different bands of mercenaries. Step by step, he started to damage Stormwind in a variety of different ways.

Some of his men were captured and put into the Stockades prison. Therefore, VanCleef used this to his advantage and started a prison rebellion. His men inside the Stockades gathered a mass of followers and started to attack Stormwind from within.

The Deadmines

VanCleef’s search for a secure location for his Brotherhood led him across Westfall to Deadmines. Once his laboratory was constructed there, he entered the mines. Mercenaries, brigands, criminals, soldiers, outlaws, and rebels also joined the brotherhood. In the name of his success, he named his gang The Defias Brotherhood and proclaimed himself as the leader.

The ship of VanCleef inside Deadmines
VanCleef’s ship in the Deadmines
(art by Jorge Jacinto on ArtStation)

From inside the Deadmines, VanCleef oversaw every operation that the Brotherhood made. Accompanied by his commanders, they started to plot a bigger attack for Stormwind. He rarely left the Deadmines in almost two decades. During this time he knew everything that was going on in Azeroth. As a result, for two decades, he grew more zealous and powerful with the means to attack Stormwind.

From aboard the ship located deep within the Deadmines, VanCleef awaited the moment at which he would strike at his hated foe, Stormwind.


Make sure to check my last Lore Sundays article if you didn’t already. It is about the ruler of Naxxramas, the lich Kel’thuzad. Click here to navigate to the article.

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