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Know Your Lore: Fandral, Feralas, and the struggle of the Green Dragonflight

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.
In the sunken city, he lays dreaming ...
The drowned god's heart is black ice ...
At the bottom of the ocean even light must die ...
Do you dream while you sleep or is it an escape from the horrors of reality?

-- The Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron
We've discussed the Green Dragonflight before, from the history and background of the flight itself to the events that occurred during the Nightmare War. But the activities of the green flight continue in Cataclysm, both in the northern reaches of Hyjal and elsewhere around the world. Despite the victory at the end of Stormrage, the troubles of the Green Dragonflight are far from over, and the threat of the Emerald Nightmare still looms.

In Stormrage, it was revealed that Fandral Staghelm was responsible for the continued imprisonment of Malfurion Stormrage in the Emerald Dream. Not only that, but he was attempting to slowly kill Malfurion using a mysterious herb called Morrowgrain, gathered from Un'Goro Crater by unwitting adventurers. At the end of Stormrage, Fandral -- living under the delusion that the Emerald Nightmare had returned his son Valstann from the dead -- fell into madness when Malfurion arrived and destroyed the fake Valstann right in front of Staghelm. Staghelm broke, whatever glimpse of sanity he may have had disappeared, and he was led away to be imprisoned, as it was obvious his actions were those of a madman.

In Cataclysm, the location of Fandral's prison is finally revealed: Mount Hyjal, once home to the night elves prior to Nordrassil's destruction. The barrow dens beneath Hyjal -- once prison to another night elf of note -- are where Fandral is now being held. But not for long. During the course of questing through Hyjal, it's revealed that the Twilight's Hammer seeks to free Fandral Staghelm, and players must escort the former arch druid from the Barrow Dens so that he may be moved to Moonglade.

While it's never directly stated why the Twilight's Hammer wants Fandral, it can be assumed that it's because as an arch druid, he possesses a great deal of power. On top of that, it's already been proven that he's easily corruptible. With that in mind, he'd make a perfect pawn for the Twilight's Hammer. Oddly, though his move to Moonglade is successful, Ysera questions whether or not his relocation was a wise move.

This is partially due to placing him in an area like Moonglade, which still teems with power, and partially due to the fact that the Nightmare corruption that afflicted Fandral is far from taken care of. At the end of Stormrage, Malfurion and the combined forces at his command managed to remove most of the corruption that plagued the Emerald Dream -- but there was one section called the Rift of Aln that even he was unable to touch. Within the Rift, an ancient evil sought to keep its grip there from somewhere in the depths of Azeroth's seas.

The Rift of Aln may very well be the Emerald Dream's version of the Rift in the Maelstrom -- the rift created when the Well of Eternity was destroyed and collapsed upon itself during the Sundering, 10,000 years before. If this is the case, the Maelstrom, which Thrall holds in check, may be sitting on top of an Old God -- the Old God responsible for the Emerald Nightmare. In the Quests and Lore panel at BlizzCon 2010, the Old God was given a name: N'Zoth.

While we haven't really heard any information regarding N'Zoth other than his name, the Green Dragonflight still struggles with the remainder of the Emerald Nightmare that was the Old God's doing. Feralas holds the distinction of being one of four areas that contain portals leading into the Emerald Dream. Though players cannot pass through the portals in game, they were used by Tyrande Whisperwind in Stormrage. In classic WoW, these four portals seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever until the emergence of four dragons of Nightmare -- Emeriss, Lethon, Taerar, and Ysondre.

Formerly trusted lieutenants of Ysera, these four dragons had been thoroughly corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare. In Stormrage, the Nightmare War resulted in the death of Emeriss and Lethon, but Ysondre and Taerar managed to escape death. In Cataclysm, players who venture into Feralas discover Ysondre's fate. Saved from the Emerald Nightmare yet unable to return to the Green Dragonflight, Ysondre seeks to atone for her actions before and during the Nightmare War.

Feralas itself managed to escape the majority of the damage caused by the Sundering. Though the island fortress of Feathermoon Stronghold has sunk into the sea, its night elf inhabitants have built a new stronghold along the shore. The western edge of Feralas is in danger of flooding from the Thousand Needles, but otherwise, the majority of the zone remains unaffected. The wildlife, however ...

Players questing through Feralas are told to take note of the wildlife that is slowly giving in to corruption. And it's not just the deer and other small animals -- even the emerald whelps that protected the Dream Bough in northern Feralas have given in to this corruption. Its cause is unknown, until players meet a familiar green dragon, now in the form of a night elf.
Konu Runetotem says: I am at a loss. Perhaps only the Earth Mother herself knows the cause of this. But we must do something before this continues...
Ysondre says: Your sincerity is moving, druid.
Konu Runetotem says: You are no night elf...this is the guise of a green dragon! By the Earth mother, I...
<Konu Runetotem kneels before Ysondre>
Ysondre says: I deserve no such respect or reverence, druid. I have betrayed my own kind. The illness of this land is my fault.
Ysondre says: The sickness is born of the Nightmare within the Emerald Dream, and the dragon Taerar spreads it. He is but a crazed shade of his former self, but will see this land devoured.
Ysondre says: I cannot face him myself. To even approach him would risk letting the same corruption overtake me once more.
Konu Runetotem says: What must we do?
Ysondre says: The earth itself weeps in its suffering. Gather its tears, and use them to seal the portal at the Great Tree. The connection to the Dream must be cut.
Ysondre says: Be brave, heroes.
It is then up to the players to seal the portal. Taerar, however, is nowhere to be seen -- in his place is the green dragon Lethlas, who is a shade of his former self and apparently working for Taerar now. After players defeat Lethlas, the quest chain ends. Later, players are asked to meet with Ysondre atop the Emerald Summit to put a stop to Taerar once and for all. With Taerar destroyed, the Dragons of Nightmare are gone, and Feralas is free to flourish without the corrosive corruption of the Emerald Nightmare. Ysondre is also free, though she is unable to rejoin the green flight. All seems to be well -- but what about the other portals to the Emerald Dream, scattered across the world?

In the Hinterlands, Seradane lies deserted. All dragonkin that formerly watched the portal have disappeared, and the drake guardians of the portal, Rothos and Dreamtracker, have vanished. In Ashenvale, Bough Shadow still holds remnants of its guardians as well as the drake pair Phantim and Dreamstalker, but there appears to be no mysterious activity or corruption rampant in the area. In Duskwood, the Twilight Grove remains empty -- no guardian drakes, no dragonkin, nothing but a portal and the sounds of archaeologists digging up the night elf site.

Ysera, leader of the Green Dragonflight, has now assisted the night elves in taking back Mount Hyjal and pushing back the minions of Ragnaros and the Twilight Cult. But though the Nightmare War took care of the majority of the corruption in the Emerald Dream, pieces of it still lurk within the Rift of Aln. Fandral Staghelm has supposedly been relocated to Moonglade, but both his and the green dragon Alysra's whereabouts are currently unknown. Did they arrive in Moonglade as planned, or were they intercepted somewhere along the way?

As for the Emerald Nightmare -- as long as N'Zoth exists, it is unlikely that the Nightmare will be wiped out entirely. Though the portal in Dream Bough was sealed, the other portals scattered around Azeroth have not. Will we see more corrupted areas as time goes on? Was Ysera's departure from the Emerald Dream a well-intentioned mistake? Should she have remained behind to address the last points of corruption within the Emerald Dream? Most importantly, will we confront N'Zoth in this expansion, or will we have to wait to put him to an end?

The answers are all incredibly unclear at this point, but rest assured, once the immediate horrors of Deathwing's emergence have been dealt with, it is highly likely we'll turn our attentions to those areas that were left unattended in favor of the more pressing matter of the Shattering and its impact on Azeroth. With the addition of new daily quests in Hyjal and the upcoming raid on the Firelands in 4.1, it's clear that the story in Hyjal will continue to develop. Perhaps once Ragnaros has been laid to his final rest, the druids of Azeroth and the Green Dragonflight will once more turn their attentions to the Emerald Dream, the Rift of Aln, and ultimately, N'Zoth.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
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.

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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