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Know Your Lore: Jaina Proudmoore, page 2

Anne Stickney

Jaina Proudmoore took the people she'd managed to gather and traveled to Kalimdor to a new destiny, leaving Arthas, the news of his betrayal, the plague, the Scourge, and the bitter memories of Lordaeron behind. But her struggles were far from over. Despite her efforts to keep her people safe, she discovered orcs along the Kalimdor coast, orcs who were quick to battle her people and just as savage as Arthas had warned her about years before. She ordered a retreat to Stonetalon Peak, where she sensed some sort of great power from within the mountain.

It was there in the mountain that she met Warchief Thrall, leader of the supposed "new" Horde. And it was also there that the prophet appeared and asked the two forces to work together. It was also there that Jaina discovered that her instincts from so many years ago weren't wrong, after all -- the leader of the orcs was an honorable and respectful creature. After the human and orc forces encountered the mysterious night elves, the prophet finally revealed himself as Medivh -- son of the woman that Jaina had idolized since she was a young girl. When Medivh implored the night elves, humans and orcs to stand side by side against the Burning Legion, how could she refuse? Doing so would be in direct opposition of everything Jaina stood for.

Perhaps the trip to Kalimdor signaled the beginning of Jaina's freedom; while she was free to study magic in Dalaran, she was still constricted by the formalities of her station and surrounded by people who seemed more inclined to follow popular opinion than make decisions of their own. In Kalimdor it was all up to her, and she blossomed under the harsh conditions of war with the Burning Legion. It was not enough that the strange alliance defeated the Burning Legion; she wanted more than that for her people and more than that for the world she lived in.

Because despite her errors and failings, Jaina believed above all else that the world was inherently a good place, and the humans and other races in it were also inherently good. The things that corrupted, the Burning Legion, the strange necromantic magic of Kel'Thuzad -- these were outside forces that were much larger than the little world Jaina lived on, and she knew it. And she also knew without a doubt that petty bickering and squabbling would only serve to distract people from the greater problems of the world -- problems that threatened not only her people, but also all of Azeroth.

Unfortunately, before Jaina could go about saving the world, she had problems from her past to deal with first. The tenuous peace pact she had with the orcs of Durotar threatened to crumble when the orcs suddenly came under attack by human forces. As tensions mounted, Jaina finally realized to her horror where the humans came from.

Daddy was paying her a visit. And he wasn't particularly happy with where his little girl had chosen to stay or her choice in companions. When he finally arrived in Theramore, it was to find Jaina accompanied by Rexxar the half-orc, Rokhan the troll, and a pandaren named Chen Stormsnout. He demanded that they be arrested, but Jaina tried to persuade him otherwise.

Much as with Arthas's mind years before, Jaina soon discovered that words were not enough to change her father's mind either, and she was left with a terrible decision to make: allow her father to continue killing her allies, or allow her allies to take care of her father. One choice would save her father but lead to years of bloody, brutal war; the other would lead to the loss of her father, but years of tentative peace and understanding. One way was good for her people; the other way was good for her.

Jaina chose her people. She allowed the Horde entrance into Theramore, and though Thrall himself tried to convince the Grand Admiral that the Horde of Kalimdor were not the same as the Horde he had fought years before, Daelin Proudmoore would not listen. In the ensuing battle, the Grand Admiral was slain by Rexxar. The greater good prevailed over whatever personal selfishness Jaina may have had.

The next few years were spent trying to keep the shaky peace between human and orc alive, though most of the time, it appeared that only Jaina and Thrall were interested in keeping peace alive. These tensions between the orcs and humans turned out to be the machinations of a demon that had rekindled the Burning Blade clan -- and in the midst of the conflict, Jaina discovered a very familiar woman in a small, unpopulated area on the far side of Mulgore.

It seemed that Magna Aegwynn -- Jaina's idol for all of her younger years -- was not dead as presumed. In fact, she was very much alive and not at all like the books that young Proudmoore had read as a little girl. Aegwynn was doing nothing more than wallowing in her solitude, bitter and angry at herself for every mistake she'd made over the eight centuries she'd been alive. Aegwynn was quick to fill Jaina in on her life's story -- how she had been so stubborn, so self-absorbed that she'd bore the son that brought the orcs to Azeroth simply to spite the Council of Tirisfal.
"What do you know of responsibility?" Aegwynn cried. "For eight-"

"Yes, I know what you did, Magna, you've told me quite a bit about your failures, your deceits, your lies, your arrogance -- but what you've also reminded me of is that you never once shirked your responsibility as Guardian. Everything you did -- from facing Zmodlor to defying the council to siring Medivh -- was done because you believed in what you did. Regardless of your mistakes, of your defeats, you never once shirked that responsibility. Until now." Proudmoore shook her head. "You asked me what I know of responsibility, and right now I'd say more than you, because you never had to be responsible to anyone save yourself. I have led people into battle, and I have ruled them when the battle was over -- and right now, the people who have trusted me need me, and it may well be because of a demon you were supposed to have killed. I will not see everything we have built here be brought down by your self-pity, Magna."
Duty first. Grief second. Self-pity? Never. Not for Jaina Proudmoore -- never for Jaina Proudmoore.

And though the world worked against her, she still sought for peace, arranging a meeting between Thrall and Varian Wrynn, leader of the Alliance born from the ashes of the old Alliance of Lordaeron. When the meeting fell awry and Varian disappeared, Jaina did her best to try and figure out what had happened. And when a mysterious stranger named Lo'Gosh appeared in Theramore, Jaina uncovered his true identity and sent him on his way. After Onyxia's defeat, she stubbornly arranged another peace conference, still determined to drag the rest of the world into an age of peace and understanding whether the world was willing or not.

Perhaps that is Jaina's greatest failing -- open-minded to a fault, she expects the rest of the world to see things her way and assumes that her way is the right way. Despite years of ignoring other's preconceived opinions of the world and forming her own opinions about things, she continually touts her own beliefs as "the right way." And who's to say a world of peace would actually work, in the long run?

But in Wrath of the Lich King, Jaina was suddenly confronted with the specter of her other greatest failing -- Arthas. What Arthas represents is the future Jaina could have had: security, a marriage, a kingdom, the conventional lifestyle of nobility that she had turned away from in favor of studies and adventures. She loved Arthas with all her heart, but in the end, her love wasn't enough. She wasn't good enough for that future: a happily ever after, the sort of happily ever after than any ordinary little girl would die for -- and despite her best efforts to cover it up, despite her bravado and her concern for the welfare of her people, there was a small, selfish corner of Jaina that wished she could have had that future.

And she hated herself for it. Because in Jaina's mind, it was selfish -- and the worst thing a person can be, according to Jaina, is selfish. Self-obsessed, self-pitying -- it was all the same to her. She could not stand the thought of thinking of herself -- so she dedicated her life to thinking for everyone else, instead.

She cried for Arthas; she mourned the loss of that perfect future. But even as she did so, she hated herself for not being good enough to keep him from turning down the path he unerringly followed. If she'd been a better woman, he would have listened to her. If she'd really loved him, he would have listened to her. It may very well be that in her pursuit of the Lich King, in her conviction to find that spark of Arthas left within him, she hoped to find that part of herself that she'd left behind. And even as she indulged in those moments of self-pity, she hated herself for having them.

When Horde and Alliance collided during the Battle for the Undercity, Jaina went so far as to teleport the Alliance forces out when it became clear that Varian Wrynn was far too angry to do anything but murder Thrall and the remainder of the Horde forces. She could have let the conflict play out, but she didn't, instead choosing to separate the forces for what she deemed in her mind to be "the greater good."

Was she correct to do this? Who knows? The point isn't that she made the choice; the point is that when she made that choice, she was convinced that it was the best for everyone around her.

That's why Varian and Jaina clash so badly -- she's driven by common sense and the need to be right, and he's driven by raw emotion, anger, and the pain of years upon years of grief that began the moment his father was murdered by Garona. In a strange way, though, the two are suited for each other; her sensibility and stubbornness has been shown to curb his temper. And if there's one thing Jaina needs, it's a man who can bring back the side of her that she shoved away when Arthas left her -- the mischievous, fun loving woman who isn't afraid to let her emotions get the better of her every now and again.

Will the two of them get together? It's doubtful, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. One thing is for certain, however -- despite her stubbornness and her desire to be right, Jaina does have the best interests of the world at hand, even if that world is an impossible-to-reach paradise. If she'd lighten up a little every now and again, maybe the world would be a little more likely to listen to her. We haven't seen the last of Jaina Proudmoore, though it's unclear exactly what her role in Cataclysm will be. But knowing Jaina, if she shows up again it will be, as always, with the best interests of Azeroth at heart.

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.

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