When Kael'thas took Mu'ru from the blood elves and fled to the Sunwell, intent on bringing Kil'jaeden to Azeroth, something had to be done. The Aldor and Scryers immediately dropped their petty bickering and differences and threw themselves into the creation of the Shattered Sun Offensive at the behest of the naaru. This is where the line blurs even further between the two races -- both worked together, as one, to take back the Isle of Quel'danas, and both encouraged Alliance and Horde to do something they hadn't even thought of since the Third War -- work together.
And it was by working together that the Shattered Sun Offensive succeeded in retaking the Isle and sending players in to prevent Kil'jaeden's return. But that wasn't the end of the story as far as the draenei and the blood elves were concerned. There was still the matter of the naaru Mu'ru, who had become a darkened naaru and perished, and the fate of the blood elf race. Remember how I mentioned the Blood Knights weren't really acknowledged, much less booted out by the Sha'tar upon their arrival in Shattrath City? There's a reason for that -- the current and only leader the draenei have ever known, Prophet Velen.
Velen had a vision, and with it, a prophecy:
Prophet Velen foresaw the events of Burning Crusade -- the betrayal of Kael'thas Sunstrider, the redemption of Lady Liadrin, leader of the Blood Knights of Silvermoon. And when Kil'jaeden is at last defeated, both Velen and Liadrin make an appearance:"Silvery moon, washed in blood, / Led astray into the night, armed with the sword of broken Light. / Broken, then betrayed by one, standing there bestride the sun. / At darkest hour, redemption comes, in knightly lady sworn to blood."
And that is the end of the Burning Crusade -- not with death, but with redemption at the hands of the draenei and the naaru. And that is also where things almost vanish into nothing for the draenei. Think about it: How many draenei quests have you done in Wrath of the Lich King? How many named draenei NPCs have done anything of more than minor importance? How many draenei have been along on the expeditions to uncover the world's secrets, the onslaught against Icecrown Citadel? How many major draenei NPCs have done anything in Wrath of the Lich King at all?Prophet Velen says: Mortal heroes, your victory here today was foretold long ago. My brother's anguished cry of defeat will echo across the universe, bringing renewed hope to all those who still stand against the Burning Crusade.
Prophet Velen says: As the Legion's final defeat draws ever-nearer, stand proud in the knowledge that you have saved worlds without number from the flame. Just as this day marks an ending, so too does it herald a new beginning...
Prophet Velen summons a large crystal from the sky. The crystal hovers above the Sunwell.
Prophet Velen says: The creature Entropius, whom you were forced to destroy, was once the noble naaru, M'uru. In life, M'uru channeled vast energies of LIGHT and HOPE. For a time, a misguided few sought to steal those energies...
Enter Lady Liadrin.
Lady Liadrin says: Our arrogance was unpardonable. We damned one of the most noble beings of all. We may never atone for this sin.
Prophet Velen says: Then fortunate it is, that I have reclaimed the noble naaru's spark from where it fell! Where faith dwells, hope is never lost, young blood elf.
Lady Liadrin says: Can it be?
Prophet Velen says: Gaze now, mortals - upon the HEART OF M'URU! Unblemished. Bathed by the light of Creation - just as it was at the Dawn.
The heart of M'uru disintegrates and flows into the Sunwell. The Sunwell reignites in a fount of blinding light.
Prophet Velen says: In time, the light and hope held within - will rebirth more than this mere fount of power... Mayhap, they will rebirth the soul of a nation.
Lady Liadrin says: Blessed ancestors! I feel it... so much love... so much grace... there are... no words... impossible to describe...
Prophet Velen says: Salvation, young one. It waits for us all.
Prophet Velen says: Farewell...
There's a few -- a pair in Borean Tundra investigate the mysterious Cult of the Damned, who have stowed away to Northrend on an Alliance ship. Another -- a shaman -- helps players with a vision quest in Howling Fjord. But other than a few questgivers and a lone named NPC traveling aboard The Skybreaker in Icecrown (Vindicator Maraad, who also happens to be Garona's uncle), there's very little to be seen of the draenei at all in Wrath of the Lich King. The sudden absence is explained by one paltry quest in Borean Tundra, where draenei that have traveled to Northrend are told that there's no need for them in the north, due to the meddling of the Cult of the Damned. Despite players efforts in uncovering Cult activity, there's still not really that many draenei to speak of later on, save for a few allied with the Argent Crusade in Icecrown -- they do make a presence at the Argent Tournament, however.
It can be argued that the focus of the expansion was simply placed on the other races, as the gnomes, dwarves and humans all have extensive stories that are expanded upon in Wrath, whereas the draenei simply had their moment in the sun with Burning Crusade. While that's fine -- the draenei and the blood elves both had heavy focus placed on them during Burning Crusade --I hate to think that things are that cut and dry. I have a few theories of my own surrounding the draenei and their curious absence from most activities going on in Northrend, and they all start with this guy:
King Varian Wrynn. Sure, it's easy to place the blame on him for everything. Go on, make a patsy out of Wrynn, poor guy's been largely absent from the scene for the entirety of World of Warcraft, comes back swinging in Wrath with little explanation and starts rocking the boat. How dare he. ...I'll be focusing a little bit more on Varian Wrynn next week, trust me -- but for now, let's take a look at the King, and how he fits in with the draenei and their political situation:
Oh wait. He doesn't. Because King Varian Wrynn, current "leader" of the Alliance was absent for the entirety of Burning Crusade, off gallivanting about with a night elf druid and a blood elf with an attitude. Speaking of attitudes, Varian's got one hell of a chip on his shoulder where the Horde are concerned -- and it's almost impossible to hold that against him, which I'll go into next week as well. It's made perfectly clear in an exchange in the Ulduar trailer that Varian couldn't care less for the Horde, and would rather they die to the hands of an Old God than take their assistance. Of course, a lot of that is because of this guy:
I had to pull out that screenshot again, mainly because the look on Thrall's face is so tremendously entertaining. Garrosh doesn't really have a peaceful bone in his body, and he's more than happy to egg Varian on at every opportunity, generally picking the worst possible moment he can to do so.
So here we have the draenei race, who have literally spent the entirety of an expansion gently urging the two factions to simply put their differences aside and work together for once in their lives. This tactic works, and manages to bring to a halt Kil'jaeden's entrance into Azeroth, something that could have potentially destroyed the world. Here we have the Sha'tar, the Scryers and the Aldor, now united as one under the banner of the Shattered Sun Offensive, triumphant in the face of one of the larger threats Azeroth has ever faced.
And here we have the return of the king -- King Varian Wrynn, now home and whole as one individual, the black dragon Onyxia defeated, and still angry about the events of a peace summit in which he was nearly assassinated by the same woman who murdered his father right in front of him when he was just a kid -- Garona, a half orc. Half orc, half draenei. Oh dear. It makes you wonder how much Varian actually knows about the situation, however -- did someone give him a debriefing of the events of Burning Crusade? Did anyone even have time to tell him how well the Alliance and Horde worked together against a common threat, seeing as how his return to Stormwind was met by a herald of the Lich King and an assault on Stormwind Harbor? Does he know that Vindicator Maarad, who's been placed on The Skybreaker in Icecrown Citadel, is the uncle of the woman that murdered his father?
And what of the draenei? Fresh from victory over Kil'jaeden, the draenei return to Azeroth to celebrate their success -- but suddenly there's somebody new in charge of their new allies, a man they've never met who has a very different view of the world, and of the Horde. Not only that, but there's a new threat to the north -- something called the Lich King, which the draenei have never heard of nor had any experience with. The draenei have no idea what the Scourge is, or what kind of devastation it can wreak -- so it stands to reason their presence in Northrend is a small one. A small force, a select few to check up on things and see what this Lich King is all about, and help their allies out with whatever this problem seems to be.
If, in the meantime, those select few are also taking a closer look at the Alliance, at the way they operate, at the way this supposed King that appeared out of nowhere handles his responsibilities ... well that's just an added bonus. What, exactly, do the draenei think of Varian Wrynn? I find it hard to believe they'd just welcome the man with open arms and accept what he tells them to do without question -- especially when he orders war with the Horde, their former allies in combat over on the Isle of Quel'danas. The draenei aren't always peace and harmony, they can and will raise arms to fight, but they won't do so blindly -- they need justification for doing so, and they have yet to be presented with any kind of meaningful justification.
This is where the draenei sit, come Cataclysm -- in an uncertain future, on a world that they thought they could safely call home, a world that was capable of shedding petty differences in light of the greater good. However, it's looking less and less like a good home every day, due in large part to Varian Wrynn's attitudes -- attitudes that a lot of the Alliance have begun to mirror. Will the draenei take up arms against their former brothers in combat, or will they refuse in the name of peace? And what will the rest of the Alliance do if the draenei simply steps out of conflicts they don't believe in? We've got no clue so far, but hopefully we'll receive some insight when Cataclysm is released.