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.
The events playing out in game right now have long-lasting repercussions on future lore, but there are also events playing out that aren't present in game. The Shattering by Christie Golden details some of these events, but there's another book out there that also has an effect in upcoming events. I'm talking about Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak, which was released earlier this year and covered information regarding the Emerald Nightmare.
Even though the book was released some time ago, the effects of the book haven't been felt. This is because as far as timelines go, Stormrage hadn't really happened yet -- or has it? The book takes place somewhere between Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, and though we don't see any of the events in the book played out in game, we see players from the book and the repercussions of the book's events. Today, we're going to give an overview of what's in the book and how it affects what's going to play out in Cataclysm.
Please note: The following post is all about Stormrage and contains spoilers for the majority of the novel as well as the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you're planning on picking up the book, turn away now, lest ye be spoiled for eternity!
While the timeline for Stormrage isn't exactly defined, what we do know about events leading up to the book can all be found in game. The dark manifestation of the Emerald Nightmare has been plaguing the Emerald Dream since vanilla WoW. Horde players first see evidence of this in the Wailing Caverns instance, where the druid Naralex and his followers have been corrupted, which is why the Druids of the Fang and their home are hostile to all players. Alliance players may enter the Wailing Caverns as well; however, most Alliance avoided the instance, as it was in the heart of Horde leveling territory and thus way, way out of the way to get to.
Later, players entering the Sunken Temple were exposed to Eranikus. The Sunken Temple, originally called the Temple of Atal'Hakkar, was the home of the Atal'ai trolls who had fled Stranglethorn Vale. They built the temple in order to summon Hakkar the Soulflayer; when Ysera caught wind of their plan, she smashed the temple into the marshes. After doing so, she sent Eranikus and four other drakes -- Dreamscythe, Weaver, Hazzas, and Morphaz -- into the temple to take care of any remaining Atal'ai. Unfortunately, Eranikus fell to the corruption of the Emerald Nightmare while in the Sunken Temple, and his shade resides in the temple proper.
Players noted a distinct lack of Malfurion Stormrage in World of Warcraft -- and the addition of a new faction leader of sorts, Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm. Fandral was caustic and rude to any players leveling through the zone, and when players questioned where exactly Malfurion had disappeared to, it was revealed that he was deep in slumber in the Emerald Dream, fighting the Emerald Nightmare.
The Nightmare's effect reached Ysera's four most trusted advisors -- Lethon, Emeriss, Taerar, and Ysondre -- corrupting the four dragons and unleashing them on Azeroth in Patch 1.8.0. Players who defeated the dragons and retrieved the Nightmare-Engulfed Object were treated to a rare glimpse of Malfurion Stormrage:
In the events leading up to Patch 1.9.0: The Gates of Ahn'Quiraj, players attempted to retrieve three shards, red, blue, and green, to form the Scepter of the Shifting Sands. The green shard was in the hands of Eranikus -- and Eranikus had to be redeemed and freed of the Emerald Nightmare's corruption before the shard could be turned over. After his redemption, courtesy of Tyrande Whisperwind, Eranikus vanished, presumably to return to the Dream.Malfurion Stormrage: Remulos, old friend. It is good to see you once more. I knew this message would find its way to you -- one way or another.
Keeper Remulos: It was shrouded in nightmares, Malfurion. What is happening in the Dream? What could cause such atrocities?
Malfurion Stormrage: I fear for the worst, old friend. Within the Dream we fight a new foe, born of an ancient evil. Ysera's ancient brood has fallen victim to the old whisperings. It seems as though the Nightmare has broken through the realm and seeks a new host on Azeroth.
All of these events lead us to Stormrage. In Stormrage, the Emerald Nightmare is beginning to break free of the Emerald Dream and into Azeroth itself, and characters from around the world experience nightmarish visions that only fuel the Nightmare. The first of these is Thura, niece of the fallen orc warrior Broxigar. Thura was given Broxigar's wooden axe, crafted by Cenarius, from the War of the Ancients Trilogy, and she had a horrific vision of her uncle being murdered by Malfurion Stormrage. Upon awakening, Thura swore to hunt down this night elf and have her revenge.
Meanwhile in Darnassus, Tyrande Whisperwind had her own nightmare. See, during all these years in World of Warcraft, Malfurion had been sleeping in the Emerald Dream, his body safely hidden away. But that body of Malfurion's had been slowly deteriorating, and Tyrande's priestesses were the only things that were keeping that body alive. In Tyrande's vision, Malfurion's body continued to decay and warp, turning into a ghastly tree, leaves fluttering in the wind. When Tyrande awoke from her vision, she knew what was going on -- Malfurion was dying, and even her best priestesses couldn't stop it from happening.
In between this were the druids of the Cenarion Circle and Fandral Staghelm. Two of these druids, Broll Bearmantle and Hammul Runetotem, played heavy parts in the events to come. Essentially, what happened is that Fandral called together a convocation of the druids because Teldrassil was failing. This, too, we've seen in game; anyone who has leveled a night elf can see evidence of Teldrassil's corruption all throughout the starting zones. Fandral decided to do something about this by having the strongest druids of the order come together and feed their powers into strengthening the failing World Tree.
In order to accomplish this, Fandral sought to use the Idol of Remulos, a dangerous artifact that was retrieved by Broll Bearmantle during the Warcraft Comics series. Broll returned the corrupted artifact to Fandral, who presumably cleansed it. With the Idol, the druids could begin to help Teldrassil recover. But Tyrande interrupted the event, informing Fandral of Malfurion's waning health and demanding that everyone travel to Moonglade to figure out a way to fix her ailing lover.
Broll, meanwhile, had his own disturbing visions -- visions of Azeroth, trying to warn him of some impending doom, and of the evil that still lurked in the Idol of Remulos. When Hamuul suggested that Broll pass on this information to the Cenarion Circle, Broll politely declined, suggesting Fandral might think him completely mad.
All over the rest of Azeroth, more people experienced visions. The entire city of Goldshire fell, its citizens refusing to wake up from their nightmares. The same went for Auberdine in Darkshore. More and more were falling to the Nightmare, including faction leaders. Thrall was engulfed in it, Sylvanas was captured in it -- and while Varian Wrynn managed to avoid it, his son Anduin fell prey to it.
Tyrande's plan was simple: She needed to get to Malfurion, and in order to do so, she needed to get into the Emerald Dream. Fandral wasn't really willing to help her, so that night in secret, she asked for Broll's help instead. Broll managed to steal the Idol of Remulos out from under Staghelm in order to use its powers to find Malfurion. With the help of Broll Bearmantle and the mysterious Idol of Remulos, she found her way to one of the portals. But Tyrande wasn't the only one seeking entrance into the Dream; Thura, niece of Broxigar, was still hunting Malfurion.
In their attempts to gain access to the Emerald Dream, Tyrande and Broll stumbled across Eranikus, former consort of Ysera -- no longer corrupt, but still drawn inexplicably to the Nightmare. Eranikus was entirely unwilling to enter the Dream, because he knew he'd be a target for the Nightmare as soon as he entered -- and he knew he might not have the strength to resist it. The two managed to convince him to find a way, and Tyrande, Broll, and Eranikus sought their way into the Emerald Dream -- right along with Thura, who was still strangely drawn to Malfurion's location.
Meanwhile in Azeroth, more cities were falling into cursed slumber, and a strange mist loomed threateningly over the world. Varian Wrynn noticed that the mist seemed to contain figures -- figures that appeared as loved ones and friends to those viewing them. To Varian, the landscape was cluttered with clones of his son Anduin and his beloved wife Tiffin, who'd died many years before. There was no fighting the mist. It advanced over the Eastern Kingdoms, it crawled over Kalimdor, and as the few that were still awake watched in horror, it seemed as though nothing would stop it. Oddly, there was one place unaffected by it at all.
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the Nightmare war, it's implications, and why exactly you are responsible for the mysterious absence of Malfurion Stormrage.
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.