It suddenly dawned on Varian that he had never found time to prepare his Remembrance Day speech. The king paused for just a moment, trying to smile through the pain, and then realized with utmost clarity that he now knew exactly what to say. He pointed to the massive statues around them.
"Hear me, people of Stormwind! Your king stands before you with his heart still beating, a drum that grows stronger each day as he sees the determination you have shown to rebuild from tragedy. Just as these statues still stand watch, so shall Stormwind, now and forever!"
As if the first rays of morning had suddenly burst over the horizon, the crowd exploded with the brightest cheers ever heard before the gates of the great human city.
"We are gathered here on Remembrance Day to honor those heroes who have shown us the way, by the light of their lives and the glory of their deeds."
The crowd replied with enthusiastic applause.
The cheers grew into a wild roar.
The ovation drowned out everything for the longest time as Varian patiently waited for the acclaim to subside. He was awash with pride—for his people and for his city. But now his voice took on a more somber tone.
"Once again, we face a new and great threat." The king gestured to the damaged towers. "Even now, we bear the fresh scars of evil forces bent upon our destruction." Varian raised his voice for all to hear. "But humanity is not so easily cowed! We stand in the breach and we hold the line! We will never be slaves to fear!"
The gathered mass cheered with wild abandon! The delegation members on stage behind the king applauded as one, their differences and complaints lost to the moment. As the crowd continued to shout, Varian glanced over at Jaina and Anduin, fighting down his own wave of deep emotions. When he spoke again, his voice was softer and more paternal, something the people of Stormwind had never heard before.
"On this day we must remember not only the good but also the bad, for it is through adversity and failure that we become our best! I myself have been… an absent king, chasing our enemies to the very heart of the underworld. I hold your safety as my highest responsibility, your good livelihood my first and only calling. For the truth is it is not the people who serve their king; it is the king who serves his people!"
The audience cheered yet again. Roses flew onto the stage and well wishes came from every corner of the throng. It was clear that the people cared more than the king had known, and it moved him deeply.
"I have not always been the best leader… or father… or husband." Varian's eyes became glassy with memories. He turned and nodded to his son.
"A wise man once said, 'We each must grow in every direction, every day.' Well, I still have some growth left in my bones. And behind me, I see a city rising from disaster, with fresh hope and gleaming new spires!"
The cheers from the architects and masons were loudest of all. Varian raised his hand to continue.
"Yes, today we honor the past, but only with our eyes firmly fixed on a brighter future! One that we will forge together, for ourselves, for our children, and for our children's children!"
The ensuing roar mixed love and hope into a potent new brew. Varian looked across the crowd and saw so many young faces peering up at him—children who would soon lead their own quests, and who would, in their own special way, make the world a better place.
"Each generation is destined to achieve its great promise. To be sure, each will face a unique set of tests and adversities, and some will be certain that the end is near. But there is no truth to the tavern-told lie that the 'good old days' are forever behind us. No! Each day we are alive is a great day! And each generation finds its own way to become the greatest generation that has ever lived!"
As the crowd cheered, the king stole a glance back at the Honor Delegation. Jaina was smiling and Anduin was applauding louder than anyone, his mother's silver locket dancing on its chain. The young man's face was full of pride, and something else: love.
Varian no longer felt alone in his struggle to protect the world. He had the blood of his fathers in his veins, and in turn, Anduin had it in his. Varian felt the warmth and comfort of his ancestors across the great divide. It gave him the strength to be king, and someday it would give Anduin the power to fulfill his own destiny. Varian smiled at his son, then turned to the crowd with an assuredness that now filled the empty spaces that had long festered in his heart.
"In the past, we have relied on strength and steel to forge our way. We protect what we can, destroy what we must. But that is not the only way. If we are to ever restore this world, then there must come a time when the leaders of Azeroth are no longer the warriors, but instead the healers! Those who mend instead of those who break. Only then can we truly cure our deep ills and achieve lasting peace."
The crowd roared its approval from all directions. Even Baron Lescovar and his clump of nobles were standing and cheering now, swept up by the power and pride of their king's vision. Varian Wrynn raised both hands to quiet the audience one last time, then gestured once again to the grand statues in the valley.
"Look above you! The heroes of old stand tall, and we honor and remember them well this day. But now look next to you! By your side, in this crowd, stand all the heroes of tomorrow! You… and you… and you. Each of you will play a part; each will make a difference; and in time, some will be honored on this day for deeds far greater than any we could possibly imagine!"
The younger generations in the crowd added their own voices to the roar, innocent eyes alight with the promise and excitement of the grand adventures to come. Even gruff Field Marshal Afrasiabi pretended to have a gnat in his eye instead of a tear.
"So, people of Stormwind! Let us unite this day. Let us renew our promise to uphold and protect the Light, and together we will face down this dark new storm and stand firm against it—as humanity always has… and humanity always will!"
The crowd saved its greatest roars for the end. A chorus of "Long live King Varian! Long live King Varian!" rose into the sky with vigor and conviction. The cheers were unending, echoing deep into Elwynn Forest and faintly reaching even the distant peaks of the Redridge Mountains.
As Varian basked in the warmth of his people, he felt truly at home for the first time in years. He found himself relishing his great fortune to be a father, his incredible honor to be the king of Stormwind; and not for the first time, nor the last, King Varian Wrynn felt very proud to be human.