Malfurion found the druids of the Cenarion Circle at the base of the tree, still busily at work casting the spells that Fandral had assured them would cleanse all of Teldrassil. But what they didn't realize and what Malfurion discovered was that the cleansing wasn't a cleansing at all -- they were merely feeding their powers into the World Tree, causing it to warp and twist even further than before. As Malfurion flew into Darnassus, he noticed that the entire city was acting as if there were nothing wrong, as if they were completely unaware of what was going on in the world around them. And he realized there was only one answer: Someone wanted them to remain ignorant.
Malfurion arrived at last at the Cenarion Enclave -- and Fandral was there, waiting for him. The two exchanged words, Malfurion trying to convince Fandral of what he'd done with the creation of Teldrassil, that the World Tree was tainted and wrong, and Fandral insisting that Teldrassil's creation saved their people, reshaped the night elves into something better.
Malfurion attempted to stop Fandral, but Teldrassil's limbs shook in anger, its leaves changing into the shadow creatures that infested the rest of the world. Darnassus erupted with screams of horror. Meanwhile, Broll and Tyrande had found their way out of the Emerald Dream, and Broll found a way back to Darnassus, just in time for the tainted tree's rebellion. As he fought his way to Malfurion, Stormrage and Staghelm faced off.Fandral stared down his nose. "I know Teldrassil's heart better than you or anyone! I have given it my heart in turn and for that sacrifice, it gave him back to me..."
Only then did Malfurion note a shadow hovering behind the other night elf's left shoulder. It was one of the foul creatures that had attacked him on his way here.
But even though Fandral looked at the shadow, he did not seem bothered by its obviously sinister presence. Instead, Fandral smiled with familial affection at the fiend.
"Teldrassil has given me back my son, Malfurion. My son! Is not Valstann as proud and handsome as ever?"
In the end, Malfurion defeated Fandral in the only way he could: by destroying the shadow that lurked with Fandral. For the second time, Fandral Staghelm lost his son Valstann -- but this time, he was the only one who didn't see the shadow for what it truly was. He grasped frantically at the fiend that he thought was his lost child, and as it dissolved into nothingness, so did any remaining sanity Fandral Staghelm may have retained. He lay catatonic, staring into space as the others tried to figure out what to do with him.
Malfurion sought the source of Teldrassil's corruption, a branch that had been grafted to the tree. Upon removing the branch, he finally understood what was causing the Nightmare and who the Nightmare Lord really was: Xavius, former advisor to Queen Azshara. Xavius had been transformed into the first satyr, followed by many others, but at the end of the War of the Ancients, Malfurion had called upon Azeroth to transform the satyr into a harmless tree -- or what he'd thought ws a harmless tree. During the 10,000 years he was entrapped, Xavius' evil had only grown, and the harmless tree, now a horrific tree composed of shadow, fed on powers that were given to him from somewhere deep in Azeroth's core.
In Azeroth and the Emerald Dream, the Nightmare still raged. Malfurion called upon the few remaining leaders who had not fallen into slumber, Varian Wrynn, Baine Bloodhoof, and others, to deliberately fall asleep and become his army and to fight the Emerald Nightmare in the heart of the Emerald Dream itself. Meanwhile, Ysera still lay imprisoned by the Nightmare Lord and valiantly fought to free herself even as others fought to free her.
In the end, Malfurion, Tyrande, Thura, and Broll united the whole of Azeroth; Malfurion realized the sheer scope of his powers as a druid; and they defeated Xavius the Nightmare Lord once and for all. Eranikus managed to help free Ysera, though it cost him his life. The Nightmare receded to all but a small corner of the Emerald Dream, in a vast fissure known as the Rift of Aln. While they fought valiantly, none could remove the Nightmare from that place. Instead, Malfurion sealed off the area around the rift, aware that cleansing this corruption would have to wait for another time. The dreamers of Azeroth were restored to their bodies, and Malfurion at last collapsed, exhausted beyond all comprehension.
Thankfully, he awoke -- if not entirely well, at least recovering -- to a worried Tyrande. After the events of the war with the Nightmare, Malfurion realized how long his love had waited patiently for him and promised that once he was well, the two would finally be wed. Though Malfurion had returned, he insisted that Tyrande was still the best leader the night elves could have. Tyrande insisted right back that the two would rule side by side, equal in all things where the night elves were concerned. She would remain High Priestess, and he would remain Arch Druid, but the two branches of night elf government, which have been at odds since vanilla World of Warcraft, would now work closely together, rather than apart.
And they all lived happily ever after -- sort of. The Rift of Aln is still a threat that hasn't been addressed, so the events of the Emerald Nightmare are far from over. Fandral Staghelm is no longer himself; he stays imprisoned in the Barrow Dens, and in Cataclysm, it appears he has yet to regain his senses. But the terrible visions experienced by all of Azeroth during the events of the Nightmare war still linger, and the faction leaders of the world still remember what happened to them.
In game, we see none of this, really. Malfurion's return and his sudden change in appearance to "uber druid" isn't fully explained in Cataclysm, nor is Fandral's appearance in the Barrow Dens of Hyjal or the reason why Fandral doesn't seem to be his old, bitter, sniping, grumpy self. The various NPCs of Azeroth seem largely unaffected, and none really seem to remember or recall the events of the Nightmare war. Though this is the case upon Cataclysm's release, it's unclear whether or not we'll be hearing more of what happened in Stormrage as the expansion continues on. However, the appearance of Malfurion and the whereabouts of Fandral both indicate that more references to the novel will pop up eventually.
Keep in mind that what you've just read is a very, very paraphrased version of what actually occurred in the novel; there is a lot more to Stormrage than what's been covered here. I've just highlighted the moments that are referenced in Cataclysm. For those who have more questions or wish to know a bit more about what actually happened, I'd recommend picking up the book and giving it a read; if you don't want to purchase it, your local library ought to have a copy sitting around. It's a very, very complex book, but it definitely affects what's going on in Cataclysm Azeroth just as much as The Shattering -- in fact, The Shattering makes more than a few references to Stormrage.
From a timeline standpoint, the events of Stormrage occurred some time after the Lich King's defeat and just before The Shattering. So even though we still see Fandral in game right now, when the Shattering occurs in 4.0.3, he may no longer be a presence in Darnassus. While our characters in game may never experience what happened in the Nightmare war, the faction leaders in game certainly did.
Another source for information regarding the Emerald Nightmare and the dreams that occurred can be found in Warcraft Legends: Vol. 5, in the story Nightmares by Richard Knaak. I'd recommend picking up the manga as well; the Legends series is an anthology of several short stories, so it's well worth the read.
Speaking of Legends, the story in question highlights the nightmares of three prominent figures in Azeroth: Warchief Thrall, Magni Bronzebeard, and a woman named Jaina Proudmoore. Come back next week when we take a look at Lady Jaina, her life, and her role in World of Warcraft.
For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.