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Know Your Lore: Current Alliance politics -- the Draenei

Anne Stickney
Anne Stickney|June 5, 2010 6:00 PM
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Well, after last weeks extensive look into dwarven politics we're closing in on finishing off the Alliance. So far we've seen the night elves, the gnomes, and the dwarves – today we'll take a brief look at the Alliance race that hasn't had much to say since Burning Crusade: the Draenei.

Luckily Matthew Rossi has already written up an excellent post on the history of the draenei and their otherworldly origins. This post explains the corruption of the eredar at the hands of Sargeras, and the lone faction of eredar that escaped to become what we know as the draenei today. It's only been a couple of years at best from a timeline standpoint since the blue-skinned aliens made a smashing debut on Azeroth, yet they've been largely absent from the war efforts in Northrend -- what's left for the draenei, and what does their future with the Alliance hold?

The draenei race is quite possibly the most peaceful race the Alliance has on their side. While the other races of the Alliance are prone to conflicts and struggles over petty disagreements, the draenei only seem to strike out in defense. Their arrival on Azeroth wasn't pretty -- they ended up tearing up the landscape over on Azuremyst and Bloodmyst isles. While they were of course concerned about their fellow survivors, they were just as concerned with what they'd done to the land and the creatures on it -- as a society concerned with not only the Light of the naaru, but the elements of shamanism, the last thing they wanted to do was wreak havoc on a new world, especially since they'd just left a dying world behind.

It's not the concern for the earth that makes the draenei unique however -- it's their willingness to simply forgive and their tendency towards rational thought. The blood elves that hijacked their ship and sent them careening into Azeroth were dealt with by force, but the draenei were smart enough to realize these blood elves didn't represent all blood elves, just a particular faction led by Kael'thas Sunstrider. And when events in Burning Crusade came to a head with the introduction of Sunwell Plateau, the draenei were the first to step up and help.
The crux of draenei politics in Burning Crusade lay not with the Alliance, but with the city of Shattrath in Outland. Shattrath City was the draenei capital on Draenor, but when the Burning Legion turned the orcs on the draenei, the city fell to ruin. The city was reborn under the watchful eye of the Sha'tar, a faction of naaru led by A'dal. These naaru were contacted by the mage Khadgar, who was also notable as being the apprentice of the last Guardian of Azeroth, Medivh. As Khadgar tells new players upon first reaching Shattrath:

I am Khadgar, former apprentice to the fallen Guardian, Medivh. I'm sure you've heard his name before. It was I who discovered that Medivh had been possessed by the Evil One, Sargeras - and that he had opened the Dark Portal between this world and Azeroth. Though I honored my Master, I was forced to slay him and put his tortured soul to rest.

I fought alongside Lord Anduin Lothar as we drove the Horde from our lands in Azeroth. As the heir of Medivh's legacy, I could do no less. When the call finally came to invade this grim world - and put an end to the orcs' evil forever - I stepped forward along with my friends Turalyon, Alleria, Danath and Kurdran.

My comrades and I called ourselves the Sons of Lothar - in honor of the greatest, most selfless man we ever knew. We gave our all to defeat Ner'zhul and end his madness. As this doomed world fell apart around us, we shattered the Dark Portal to prevent any further harm from befalling our beloved Azeroth.

Trapped in this broken wasteland, we did our best to survive. Over time we sensed that a new evil was closing in around us from the Twisting Nether. More foul than the dark orcs - it was the Burning Legion itself that sought to take hold of this... Outland.
While my comrades held the line against the encroaching darkness, I used my magic to reach out into the Great Dark Beyond. There, I sensed beings of immense Light - of unfathomable purity.

It was A'dal and his naaru I had found. It was nothing short of... a miracle.

I convinced A'dal and his brethren to return here with me. I believe that only their power can drive the Legion from this universe. But as you will no doubt find - their power must first live in our hearts. To combat the darkness, we must become beacons of their eternal Light.
Meanwhile in Shattrath City, a small remnant of the draenei priesthood still conducted its rites in a ruined temple. This remnant, known as the Aldor, were more than happy to see the naaru A'dal, and with their combined efforts, Shattrath began to truly flourish for the first time in years. Unfortunately, the tentative peace was not to last -- Illidan's armies began to attack, including a large regiment of blood elves. These blood elves, led by Voren'thal, were sent to lay waste to the city when something unexpected happened: The blood elves lay down their weapons, and Voren'thal stormed into the Terrace of Light, demanding to speak to A'dal. Kneeling before the naaru, Voren'thal simply said: "I've seen you in a vision, naaru. My race's only hope for survival lies with you. My followers and I are here to serve you."
Voren'thal (now known as Voren'thal the Seer) took up residence along with his followers, forming the Scryer faction. The Aldor weren't terribly happy about this development, as many of the blood elves now serving the naaru had formerly slain the Aldor and their allies. While other attacks were led against Shattrath City, none were successful -- and a naaru named Xi'ri even managed to lead a successful incursion into Shadowmoon Valley, the doorstep of Illidan's Black Temple. Even though both factions fought the same enemy, they still bickered with each other, competing for the honor of being sent to fight at Xi'ri's side. Each day, A'dal decided which to send -- Scryer or Aldor -- and gave the armies his blessing before they left to serve in Shadowmoon.

It wasn't a bad setup exactly, although the Scryer and the Aldor liked to play tricks on each other. However, it wasn't long before more newcomers found their way to Shattrath City -- the Horde and Alliance of Azeroth, who had managed to get through the Dark Portal in order to bring Illidan to justice. Players questing through Shattrath City were given a choice: Aldor, or Scryer. Each side had its own unique rewards -- and oddly, though the Aldor were draenei and the Scryer were blood elves, they would take allies of either faction into their respective folds. Burning Crusade was unique in this aspect -- there was a show of neutrality unseen in vanilla World of Warcraft, and both Horde and Alliance were welcomed in Shattrath with open arms.

But with these newcomers also came revelations and possibly secrets -- the blood elves had been siphoning the Light from a naaru named M'uru that had been given to them by Prince Kael'thas, using its energies to form an order of Blood Knights that bore the same powers as paladins. This, strangely, was never really mentioned by A'dal or the naaru of the Sha'tar, but as more revelations were made regarding the nature of Kael'thas and his allegiances, things began to gain a little clarity.
Kael'thas Sunstrider, unhappy with Illidan's lack of progress, decided to move a step up on the food chain and ally himself with the Burning Legion -- specifically Kil'jaeden. This wasn't revealed until players "defeated" Kael'thas in Tempest Keep -- turns out Tempest Keep was ... merely a setback. When your lord and master is an eredar lord and one of the highest-ranking members of the Burning Legion, death isn't quite as permanent as you'd think -- especially if you've got access to a font of power that could potentially be used to bring your lord and master into Azeroth.

By now I'm sure you're wondering -- isn't this a post about Draenei politics? Well it is, but the interesting thing about the politics of the draenei is that everything we've seen recently has been very, very closely tied to the blood elves. And well it should be -- the crash landing on Azeroth was the catalyst of the current focus of the draenei forces, and the sad story of the elves and their as-yet untreated magic addiction, as well as the betrayal of their leader struck a chord with the draenei. Given that their own fate originated at the hands of Kil'jaeden, the news of a race betrayed by a similar alliance doubtless caused at least some sympathy. So here we have a race that is not only offering a welcoming hand, but offering that hand to a race on the other side of the faction barrier.