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Know Your Lore: Arch Druid Hamuul Runetotem

Matthew Rossi

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.

He befriends those who might be his enemies, yet he is unafraid to strike down those who harm his people, his students, even his allies. Elderly, he has but recently become a druid; his meteoric rise to the rank of Archdruid is a testament to his strength of character and his sincere desire to achieve balance in all things. A childhood friend of Cairne Bloodhoof, in that worthy's death, he has become the Old Bull of his people, even as Cairne's son Baine has taken the role of leader.

Today, while Baine rules, it is Hamuul Runetotem who is the heart of the shu'halo, the tauren people. And he does not like what he is seeing.

Stevie Nix - Baine Bloodhoof: As Our Fathers Before Us
Hamuul shook his head as if to clear it. "We existed in a time before the coming of the orcs, if you'll remember. Your father may have owed a debt to Thrall for all he did for our people, but this is a new Horde. I have heard whispers of other tauren. Some are wondering if this Horde is really something we should be a part of anymore." He snorted. "The Horde has done much and we owe much to it, but you must admit that their sentiments are not completely without merit."

Hammul does not pretend to perfection, and while he is wise, he admits to all the shocks that flesh is heir to and all the emotion a shu'halo can face dealing with the chaos of the world while attempting to honor the Earthmother.

The first shu'halo druid, the last shu'halo druid

Hamuul is old, with at least one living child (Bashana, his daughter) and many other relatives in the large and powerful Runetotem clan. As a tauren of his generation, he has witnessed the near-extinction of his people at the hands of the centaur, the coming of the Horde, and his people's decision to join their ranks. Hamuul fought alongside his chieftain Cairne and his people during the Battle for Mount Hyjal, and it was in the aftermath of that battle that Hamuul found his true calling long, long after most of his kind are waiting for their eventual end to come.

In his late years, Hamuul sought out Malfurion Stormrage on the very slopes of Mount Hyjal and demanded to be taught the druid arts his people believe they had once studied at the feet of Cenarius himself. To this, Malfurion surprisingly agreed. Considering that a few years later, Hamuul was skilled enough to be called an archdruid even by detractors in the Cenarion Circle such as Fandral Staghelm, perhaps Malfurion's actions were not so surprising at all.

Unlike most druids, Hamuul lived a full life leading his tribe, fighting for his people, and seeking balance in the world the Earthmother created for his people long before he became a druid. This perspective and his natural tauren inclination toward the land and its stewardship melded in him a harmonious path he taught not only to many of his own tribe (including his daughter) but more widely to other tauren as well. Despite his relative recent conversion to the ways of the druid, Hamuul welcomes other spiritual paths such as those of the shaman and the recent rise of the priest and paladin orders among the tauren who gain their abilities from the light of An'she, the sun. Indeed, Hamuul has actually advised Baine to seek out a shaman for guidance. It is unknown if Hamuul had any sort of spiritual training before becoming his people's archdruid, but it seems likely he was at least conversant in the higher points of tauren theology.

Healing the Earthmother

Before the Cataclysm, Hamuul had settled into his role as archdruid and rarely left Thunder Bluff. Despite being friends with Naralex, the night elf druid seeking to heal the Wailing Caverns, Hamuul did not travel there himself. However, it's fair to say that without Hamuul, Broll Bearmantle and Lo'Gosh (the amnesiac human gladiator who ended up being revealed as Varian Wrynn) might never have escaped slavery. Hamuul has displayed many times that he often knows when to erode a foe like water or roots rather than simply exerting direct force.

Don't be fooled into thinking he won't apply force when it seems necessary.

Likewise, when Fandral Staghelm began his plot to "rejuvenate" the great tree of Teldrassil, Hamuul was believed to be too old to effectively participate by many involved (although in fact, he feigned a great deal more frailty than he actually possessed to cover for another friend, Broll Bearmantle). In the end, Hamuul's suspicions about Fandral's use of Morrowgrain bore fruit and Hamuul helped defeat the Nightmare Lord Xavius and restore Malfurion to Azeroth.

On the eve of destruction

Furthermore, on the eve of the Cataclysm itself, it was Hamuul who helped cause the events that led to Cairne's mak'gora against Garrosh Hellscream. Responding to a summons from Elerethe Renferal, Hamuul attempted to set up talks between the Alliance and the Horde to diffuse tensions that were leading the factions to war, at a time when the war against the Lich King in Northrend had finally worn down. However, rather than succeeding, the conference was attacked by agents of the Twilight's Hammer and the night elves were slain, with Hamuul barely escaping with his own life after being buried in a pit of corpses.

This event led to further tensions between the Alliance and the Horde and also sowed suspicion between the Horde leadership, exactly as the Twilights had intended. Hamuul never forgot that Cairne's challenge to Garrosh was in part to force an answer to the deaths of Hamuul's young tauren students, which he so stated at Cairne's memorial. It was fitting that one of Hamuul's ancestors, Elder Runetotem, should convey Cairne's spirit to the tents of the ancestors, but Cairne's death left Hamuul without his oldest friend at a time when the Horde needed him most.

Still, even while assisting in the defense of Mount Hyjal, Hamuul has found time to assist and advise Baine, and Hamuul's support of the new high chieftain is as unwavering as that he provided the elder Bloodhoof.

Stevie Nix - Baine Bloodhoof: As Our Fathers Before Us
Hamuul responded with a slight rumble in his voice. "Now is not the time for self-doubt, young Baine. You are doing every bit as good a job as your father. I know beyond a doubt that he would approve of the wisdom you have shown and the passion you have to see this done right." He waved his hand. "Let those who cannot see that be off, and find their own way."

Baine smiled slightly. "I remember not too long ago you expressed much the same opinion as they."

Hamuul stiffened perceptibly. "I spoke hastily and out of frustration. I happily admit that I was wrong. We will get through this, and you will see that you are a leader, even if you do not believe it at present."

Hamuul's support of his teacher and friend Malfurion and the Guardians of Hyjal against Ragnaros the Firelord has been just as unwavering, and he has suffered greatly for it. Old as he is, he has left Thunder Bluff after having been shot in the back and crawling his way out of a mass grave at the hands of the Twilight's Hammer to defend the Earthmother's greatest natural site from the incursion of the elementals of fire. Hamuul joined forces with Malfurion, Cenarius, and a worgen fury warrior (although it might have been a tauren, now that I think about it) to push Ragnaros back into the Firelands. However, this was merely a respite.

The rise of these new druids of the flame cost Hamuul several more of his cherished students, and so he engaged the flame druid Leyara in a rage that left him unprepared for the fury of her power over flame.

Amazingly, Hamuul survived what would have slain almost anyone else and did not die from Leyara's attack, although it inflicted horrific wounds upon him. He did more than survive, however. (Spoilers for the Molten Front quests in the link at the end of this sentence, so don't click if you don't want to see it.) Hamuul's story is still unfolding in the Firelands, but one thing is clear: The archdruid of the shu'halo has tenacity and will unmatched by anyone. He will not die easily, and neither will his people while he lives.

Next week, we turn our gaze to the stars.

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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