Tyrande and Malfurion were in the middle of waking the Druids of the Claw beneath Hyjal when they happened upon a dusty door that they'd all but forgotten about -- a door that opened to the prisons where Malfurion's misguided brother Illidan had been imprisoned. Tyrande, who was still annoyed at Malfurion, suggested they pop on over and let Illidan out to help them with the whole mess but Malfurion nixed that option pretty quickly. Tyrande decided to go do it anyway, and while Malfurion went back up to the surface, Tyrande and her Sentinels fought their way in and freed Illidan, filling him in on everything that had happened so far and asking for his help. Still googly-eyed over Tyrande, (Hey, let's face it, there's not much to do in a hole in the ground other than think about things you like -- arcane power, magic water, that chick that dumped you way back when for your brother) Illidan agreed to lend his aid. Malfurion was more than a little upset by Tyrande's actions and refused to trust his twin, afraid that his brother would go off the deep end and do something monumentally stupid in an effort to be the Big Damn Hero again.
It was at this point that Malfurion sat down and had a frank discussion with his brother about Where He Went Wrong, and told him in no uncertain terms to Get Off His Land and find somewhere else to loom in a demony fashion. Illidan, further ticked that his efforts to stomp a demon lord went unappreciated, gave Malfurion a "So be it...brother." and took off for parts unknown.
Later, Malfurion went to sleep -- normal sleep, not prance about in Emerald Dream sleep -- and was visited by a great raven in his dreams, which told him to come to the base of Mount Hyjal with Tyrande. He and Tyrande followed the bird's advice and were met by another unlikely duo at the base -- the human mage Jaina Proudmoore, and the orc Warchief Thrall. About to duke it out with the human and the greenskin, the two were interrupted by the raven from the dream, who revealed himself as Medivh and said they all had to band together, sing songs, play nice, and defeat the Burning Legion before Azeroth fell for good. The orcs, humans and night elves agreed to join forces, and Malfurion concocted a plan. Unsurprisingly, his plan involved blowing up the Well. Again. Malfurion apparently has a one track mind when it comes to defeating the Burning Legion. And so the good guys lured Archimonde to the World Tree, letting him destroy all their bases in the process, and while Archimonde was gleefully distracted by tree-hugging, Malfurion ordered in the Ancestral Guardians, (aka wisps) to blow up the whole thing. Sure, the night elves lost their immortality in the process, but Azeroth was safe once more, and heck, the continents didn't even explode this time! Chalk one more victory up to Malfurion Stormrage. Oh, and those other guys.
Malfurion had a couple of months to rest and rebuild before word came that his brother was up to his old tricks again and fighting night elves. With a heavy sigh, Malfurion and Tyrande headed out to the Broken Isles, where they helped Illidan's warden, Maiev Shadowsong, fight against Illidan's troops. In the chaos, Illidan managed to capture Tyrande, pretty much admitting that he was just trying to impress her and confessing his love, again. Tyrande was less than thrilled by this (maybe flowers would've been a better choice, Illidan), and Illidan took off when Maiev and Malfurion showed up. Tyrande, Malfurion and Maiev took off to Lordaeron to capture Illidan, as he seemed intent on performing a spell that was tearing apart the continent of Northrend. Apparently blowing up World Trees and Wells is okay, but tearing apart continents is bad news. Unbeknownst to Malfurion and Tyrande, Illidan was being blackmailed by the Burning Legion and trying to kill the Lich King, not randomly tearing apart continents for pleasure.
Meanwhile, Maiev and Tyrande were at each other's throats in the most passive-aggressive of fashions. When Tyrande was swept down a river in battle, Maiev took it upon herself to 'sadly' inform Malfurion of his beloved's demise. Malfurion went nuts and captured Illidan, breaking his continent shattering spell and accusing him of causing Tyrande's death. Kael'thas (who was fighting for Maiev at the time and not quite the magic-addled crazy we know, love, and kill repeatedly today) piped up and told Malfurion that Tyrande was only mostly dead, not dead-dead, and the two brothers took off to look for the woman they both had a thing for. Illidan rescued Tyrande while Malfurion held back the undead forces. Grateful for the rescue, Malfurion allowed his brother to go free on one condition – that he never, ever bother the night elves again. Illidan agreed and vanished through a portal, never to be seen again. Almost.
Malfurion and Tyrande went home, finally. Shortly after that, he learned that a number of night elves were planning to create a new World Tree in the hopes of regaining their lost immortality. Malfurion warned against it, as nature would never bless such a selfish act -- and he was right, to a degree. The dragonflights blessed the original World Tree in order for the elves to watch over the Well of Eternity and Azeroth, not because they thought the night elves were pretty cool -- there was no way they'd bless a second tree, and simply planting a tree wouldn't get the night elves the immortality they'd grown so attached to. Tired and exhausted, Malfurion bid Tyrande yet another tearful and heartfelt farewell, and went once more to take a nap down in the barrow dens and replenish his powers. Defeating the Burning Legion, after all, takes a lot out of a guy.
World of Warcraft, present-day: In vanilla WoW, Malfurion Stormrage was nowhere to be seen. The leader of the druids was now Archdruid Fandral Staghelm, a character players knew little about, and the night elves had made their home in the new World Tree of Teldrassil, which had apparently been planted despite Malfurion's warnings. Fandral is a player favorite -- players love to hate him, and hate to love him, but do both with alarming fervor. During the course of vanilla WoW it was revealed that Malfurion was lost somewhere within the Emerald Dream, fighting something called the Nightmare – a mobile area of corruption within the Emerald Dream. Players could find Malfurion by turning in the Nightmare Engulfed Object obtained by killing one of four corrupted green dragons at one of four emerald portals scattered across Azeroth to Keeper Remulos in Moonglade. Remulos goes to Lake Elune'ara to dissolve the nightmares engulfing the object, and Malfurion appears, warning Remulos that the Nightmare is present and that Ysera's old brood -- those four dragons that you can fight outside of the Emerald Portals – have been corrupted by it, hence their presence as bad guys.
The other place that players could find Malfurion in vanilla was through a portion of the Scepter of the Shifting Sands quest line. Players are sent to the Sunken Temple in an effort to find and redeem Eranikus, Tyrant of the Dream and obtain the green shard needed for the formation of the scepter. Players entering Eranikus's room are met by a vision of Malfurion, who states that Eranikus has been twisted by the none other than the Old Gods, and the corrupted green dragon is waging a war against the Emerald Dream and those trapped within it. It is heavily implied that the Nightmare was a result of the corruption of the Old Gods, which isn't entirely implausible to believe.
In Burning Crusade, players were far too busy mucking around with Illidan and the Black Temple, leaving the Nightmare of the Emerald Dream nothing more than a tantalizing piece of lore that was left largely untouched. Players had hoped for the announcement of the Emerald Dream as all or part of the next expansion, but that was not to be. Instead, we got Wrath of the Lich King.
In Wrath, players encounter more of the Nightmare -- a small portion of it, at any rate. Players entering the Emerald Dragonshrine in Dragonblight are set upon by defenders of the little glade. Nishera the Garden Keeper states that she had asked Ysera for help against the Scourge -- and Ysera, possibly addled by the Nightmare, instead commanded the defenders of the Dragonshrine to attack anyone not of the green flight. There is also a quest in Icecrown that sends players into the Emerald Dream itself to retrieve acorns in an attempt to aid a fallen crusader soldier. At last, players get to enter the Emerald Dream – but the area is a small, restricted place filled with Nightmare Figments, easily defeated, and Nightmare Aberrations. The Aberrations are level 80 elite mobs that do surprising little damage and offer no loot and no experience for killing them.
Malfurion Stormrage, on the other hand, is still nowhere to be seen -- he's off in the Emerald Dream fighting the Nightmare with Ysera, has been doing so for five years now, and players, not to mention Tyrande, are getting antsy for his return. In the novel Stormrage, we've been promised answers to all those questions lurking about the Emerald Dream, the Nightmare, and just what it is that Malfurion's been up to. Will we see the Emerald Dream expansion that so many people have been longing for since World of Warcraft's release, or will all chances of stepping into the Dream be destroyed by the upcoming Cataclysm? Only time -- and apparently a Knaak novel -- will tell.