WARNING: The following post contains small spoilers for Wrath of the Lich King. Players who are still playing through the expansion and wish to avoid spoilers may want to avoid this post. In addition, theories behind the new Cataclysm race/class combinations will be discussed.
The dwarves of Azeroth have had a somewhat rocky start politically speaking -- the War of the Three Hammers caused a rift between the three major dwarf clans that looked as though it would never be repaired. However, current events as well as revelations regarding new class combinations suggest that the dwarves may not remain as fractured as they've been in World of Warcraft's history.
When we left off last time, it was to an introduction of the woman pictured above -- Princess Moira Bronzebeard, daughter of King Magni. Why is she so important, you may ask -- well Moira's been in the clutches of Emperor Dagran Thaurissan, leader of the Dark Iron clan since World of Warcraft's launch. How'd she get there? Why isn't she dead? What's Magni doing about all of this? Let's take a closer look at Moira and her role in what could possibly be upcoming conflicts.
Princess Moira was kidnapped by the Dark Irons, although the story surrounding her disappearance is ... odd. According to Magni, Moira was kidnapped and seduced through magical means, and currently remains in Dagran's stronghold because she's essentially been brainwashed. The only way to release her from the thrall that Dagran has cast over her is to kill him, naturally -- but when King Magni sends players to do this, he is very clear to mention that Moira must not be harmed. However Moira's guardian at the time of her kidnapping, a dwarf prisoner by the name of Kharan Mighthammer has a different version of the supposed "kidnapping" that he'll tell players about:
Interestingly, Horde players are also sent to free the princess. A quest leads Horde players to the imprisoned Commander Gor'shak, who has learned of the kidnapping through a dwarf in a neighboring cell. After reporting this to Warchief Thrall, he is oddly delighted by the news, as this presents an unforeseen opportunity to strengthen relations and possibly begin the first tentative steps towards an alliance between the two factions, something that he (and Jaina, of course) has been dreaming of for quite some time.Several months ago, the Magistrate of Lakeshire sent envoys to Ironforge, pleading with the King for assistance with the Blackrock incursions coming from Redridge and the Burning Steppes. Princess Moira volunteered to help, against my pleadings. I was assigned twenty elite guardsmen to protect the Princess through the perilous journey from the Loch to Lakeshire.
We made our way through the Searing Gorge tunnel and into the ravaged wasteland comprising the gorge. In retrospect, things were eerily quiet. The only dangers we ran across were the wildlife of the region: Creatures that my men easily dispatched. We reached Blackrock Mountain with relative ease and made our way through the stonewrought construction without so much as a hiccup.
As we were making our way across the Burning Steppes, we were ambushed. It must have been a hundred of them... Dark Iron Dwarves! They were shifting out of the walls, from the rocks in the Steppes; out of every crevice, nook, and cranny in sight. They swarmed us, overwhelming the guards and the few brave heroes that had agreed to assist us on this mission.
One thing was clear: This was a highly orchestrated ambush. It was as if they knew every move we would make before we made them... how else could this have happened? Someone must have tipped the Dark Irons off.
So help me, if I ever get out of here, I will spend the rest of my days finding the traitor. Where was I? Oh, yes, so we were captured. My elite guardsmen were captured on the spot. They spared me and took the princess away by way of ram. I was taken to the detention halls of the Slag Pit and then transferred to this prison.
I can only assume I am still alive because they wish to extract a ransom for my pitiful life. Or maybe out of cruelty, as a way to let me forever play back the events that transpired in my mind. Regret is the cruelest jailor of all, <race>. She now resides at the side of Emperor Thaurissan. He has her under some sort of powerful thought altering spell... and here I sit, completely helpless.
When Alliance players kill Dagran however, they are treated to ... not quite as welcome a reception as they'd hoped:
Upon returning to King Magni and delivering the news, he sadly says that even in death, it seems Thaurissan has won, and mulls over this change of events. Either the spell that Emperor Thaurissan has placed upon Moira is very, very powerful, or he simply cannot comprehend the simple, upsetting truth: his daughter, despite all warnings to the contrary, fell in love with a Dark Iron dwarf, and while it's all singing and dancing at first, eventually daddy discovers your little underground shrine to the forbidden fruit and things just go downhill from there. Not only that, but she's pregnant, and the kid stands a pretty high chance of being an heir to Ironforge's throne. The half Dark Iron kid -- and that's the absolute last thing Magni would like to think about. Fortunately there are plenty of other things to occupy his mind."Thaurissan was a great and honorable dwarf. You ruined my life and the life of my unborn child!"
<You think that Princess Bronzebeard may still be suffering from the residual effect of the Emperor's spell.>
"Return to Ironforge and tell my father that the heir to the Kingdom of Ironforge will be a Dark Iron dwarf. Whether he approves or not, it shall be."
Meanwhile, Horde players that manage to kill Thaurissan and "save" Moira are met with a much less polite reception from the "captured" princess:
Well actually, Thrall is pretty eager to hear about Thaurissan's defeat and the dawn of a new era of handholding with the Alliance, but when players fill him in on exactly what happened and what Moira said, he replies "A new threat now looms on the horizon. As Magni's years dwindle down, the way shall be opened for this unborn Dark Iron to become ruler of Ironforge.""You have slain my husband, <race>! My child will be born into this world without a father."
<Princess Moira points directly at you.>
"I assure you, this child will be the next ruler of the kingdom of Ironforge. You and your kind shall be hunted down until the end of days for this wrongful act."
<You think that Princess Moira may be suffering from the residual effect of Thaurissan's spell.>
"Leave me be, <race>. I am certain your warchief will be eager to hear the results of his meddling."
No kidding, Thrall. In the five years we've played through the game, Princess Moira hasn't made a peep. No return to Ironforge, no birth of her child, she simply waits in Blackrock Depths, alone and very, very pregnant. So why is this important now? With the introduction of the mage class to dwarves, that ability has to come from somewhere -- and the Ironforge dwarves have never been interested in arcane magic. The Dark Iron clan is the only dwarf clan currently in game that practices the arcane arts, which suggests that either the dwarves are going to get really, uncharacteristically chummy with the humans and start learning all this arcane stuff, or Moira and the Dark Iron are going to make a reappearance somehow.
Regardless, whether it is simply Moira regaining her senses and coming back to teach her people the arcane arts she learned while hanging out with the Dark Iron, the Dark Iron coming back to Ironforge to beg for forgiveness after somehow escaping the hold of Ragnaros, or something darker is unknown. However, Moira's as-yet unborn child is indeed the heir to Ironforge, and the kid is also half Dark Iron. Moira seems pretty dead set to have him take over when the time comes, brainwashed or no -- and King Magni hasn't really got any other heirs to take over, as one brother is currently off exploring in parts unknown, and the other is dead. Right, about that ...
Muradin Bronzebeard was supposedly slain by Arthas in Northrend, but a chain of quests available to Alliance players in Dragonblight tells a very different side to the story. In the flashback sequence, instead of falling over dead, Muradin gets up a short time after Arthas departs, shaking his head and with no memory of who he is, or how he got in the strange little cavern in the middle of nowhere. He stumbles off, never to be seen again. Supposedly.