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Know Your Lore: Nobundo

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.

One of the fantastic things about Warlords of Draenor is getting to see the way history provides context for a life. By seeing how people have changed, and how they could have been we get a sense of how they are, as we know them - and for me one of the most fantastic changes to contemplate and understand is that of Vindicator Nobundo, a stalwart draenei paladin, who in a different life became Farseer Nobundo, first draenei shaman. Nobundo's story is one of overcoming horrific loss, enduring not just the destruction of his way of life but a corrosion of the body that threatened his very soul, and his ability to overcome and become someone who could inspire his people to a new path displays his strength of spirit.

The Vindicator Nobundo we meet on Draenor - the one who helps fight the Burning Legion forces in Talador, who comes to Nagrand to help calm the elements - has not endured the same trials as Farseer Nobundo. He has not come out the other side of seeing his people nearly destroyed, his body warped by fel energies, his connection to the Holy Light severed. And yet, he is Nobundo - he embodies everything the Farseer was, everything he lost to become who he is today.

So who is Farseer Nobundo? And who is Vindicator Nobundo?

To understand Farseer Nobundo, we must understand what he sacrificed for his people. During the rise of the Old Horde, when Gul'dan convinced Grom Hellscream to drink the blood of Mannoroth, the draenei found themselves under siege by a warhost of demon-addled berserkers, orcs infused with the mindless ferocity of the Legion, wielding warlock magics that sickened and corrupted. Unaware of the true nature of the threat at first, the draenei attempted negotiation - the orcs had never been an enemy before, and it wasn't typical for the draenei to engage in total war without an attempt at negotiation.

Sadly, by the time they realized the Legion was involved, it was too late - the blood of Mannoroth had transformed the orcs. And so the draenei holding Shattrath City realized it was doomed to fall. Velen wished to evacuate the entire city, but Exarch Larohir (Restalaan's replacement as Velen's lieutenant) saw the truth. The orcs only wanted to destroy the draenei - there could be no retreat, no escape, if the orcs believed the draenei still lived they would hunt them down and destroy them. And so, Larohir asked for volunteers for the most difficult last stand imaginable. A force would stay in Shattrath, fight the orcs, and hold the city as long as possible knowing that it was hopeless. Knowing that they were not going to win, not even going to survive. They would stand, fight, and die in order to preserve the illusion that the draenei were no more, to keep the Horde from looking for the survivors led into hiding by Velen.

Nobundo was one of those draenei. While others like Maraad were ordered to retreat and lead civilians out of the city, Nobundo had no such orders. He stayed in Shattrath and prepared to die, along with many of his brothers and sisters. He expected death. What he got was worse. The orcish army unleashed a new weapon on Shattrath, a red mist that burned and sickened, and worse, as Nobundo engaged Grom Hellscream himself in combat he learned that the mist had cut off his connection to the Light - he found himself nearly dead, thrown from the walls of Shattrath by Hellscream to land on a pile of corpses, his fall broken by the body of an ogre.

And from here his struggle was only beginning. First, he had to fight to survive his injuries. Then he had to fight to retain some semblance of his sanity and intelligence as his body and mind were twisted further by the red mist. And then he had to survive as his people, already traumatized by having seen nine out of every ten draenei murdered, rejected him and those others like him who were changing thanks to their exposure to the warlock magics. One of these was Akama, who would in time become a leader among the Ashtongue Deathsworn. As Nobundo and others changed, their people forced a name upon them - Krokul, or 'broken', to describe the condition of their bodies. Nobundo had to endure a former friend, Rolc, taking his Hammer of the Naaru from him, saying he was no longer worthy of it.

Nobundo refused to succumb to the horror and despair of his new life, nor to the feeling of cowardice and shame he felt - having prepared to die, finding himself a disfigured survivor of the battle filled him with guilt. It would have been easy to simply lie down and die, let his mind fade as had been the fate of other broken, but he did not. He attempted to reconnect to the Light via prayer. But it wasn't the Light that responded. but rather the Wind.

The elements of Outland (the shattered remains of Draenor) were in upheaval, terrified and enraged by what had happened, by the betrayal of the orcs (as manifested by Gul'dan when he used the Cipher of Damnation to create the Hand of Gul'dan, a fel volcano in Shadowmoon Valley) and the severing of the connection between the orcish people and the elements. In a way, they were as lost and in need of aid as Nobundo himself, and they taught him the path of the shaman. Nobundo learned the most important lesson they had to teach, that everything that is, is alive - everything that exists has a spirit, an essence, is a manifested part of life.

In time he left the mountains to share this realization with his people, but found them as unwilling to listen to a broken as ever. But one of them wasn't so blinded by prejudice - Velen. The Prophet saw that Nobundo had been spared from Shattrath in order that his people might learn to take up the shamanic arts that the orcs had abandoned in their lust for demon worship and destruction, and Nobundo was the means to that path. Soon, the Farseer found himself at Velen's right hand, and today he serves as an important member of the Earthen Ring (since he's the Alliance's most prominent shaman) and has even filled in for Velen in Pandaria when the Prophet was otherwise occupied.

This is the Nobundo we know. The one we encounter on Draenor has not had these experiences - he has not suffered the indignities of the red mist, has not lost his connection to the light. The draenei of his Draenor have not been slaughtered to the point where he has felt obliged to volunteer to die to save some small remnant of them. He is a different draenei, on a different path. But our Farseer Nobundo was once very much like him, and that same indomitable spirit remains. It will be fascinating to see how it diverges.

Also I kind of hope he punches Rolc in the face. Just because.

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.