Then and Now:
Conflict and Triumph in the World of Warcraft
Two years have passed since the founding of Durotar...
Although the armistice between the mighty Horde and the noble Alliance has held, tensions between the two factions continue to mount as worldwide conflicts draw the two sides closer to all-out war. Fighting has erupted in the strategic battlegrounds of Alterac Valley, Warsong Gulch, and Arathi Basin, and more recently in Eastern Plaguelands and Silithus.
Even as these old enemies have renewed their quarrels, many ancient threats have resurfaced to menace the beleaguered races of Azeroth. As if spurred by unseen forces, dark agents have labored to push the world closer to the brink of oblivion.
Within Blackrock Spire, the legacy of the black dragon Deathwing continued to unfold as Nefarian followed in his father's contemptible footsteps. With the aid of his sister Onyxia and the orchestrations of their human personas, Nefarian worked toward replenishing the black dragonflight. To that end, he created chromatic dragons: unspeakable hybrids of both red and black dragons.
Meanwhile, the priests of Hakkar enacted primitive rituals on behalf of their fiendish blood god. First, priests at the Temple of Atal'Hakkar succeeded in calling forth the god's avatar. Then, within the crumbling ruins of Zul'Gurub, priests summoned the bloodthirsty, diabolical Soulflayer physically into Azeroth.
Nor was the spread of evil limited to the physical realm alone. Several green dragons, once Ysera's trusted lieutenants, have been corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare, emerging from dream portals across the world to threaten the very lives they once protected.
Throughout Silithus, insect swarms surged as if guided by some malignant, ancient intelligence. Behind the gates of the Scarab Wall the merciless qiraji stirred once again. Empowered by the Old God C'Thun, the qiraji prepared their legions for a worldwide assault to avenge their bitter defeat at the hands of the night elves a thousand years ago.
Worst of all, the Lich King's icy grip descended upon Azeroth once again as the Scourge renewed its assault against living and undead alike. Foreboding necropoli recently appeared over several major cities. Alliance and Horde forces mobilized and drove the Scourge back. Nevertheless, questions remain. Was this defeat truly a setback for the Lich King Or did this first attack further a different goal for the Scourge Whatever the case, Kel'Thuzad is clearly setting the stage for a full-scale, apocalyptic invasion from his seat of power in Naxxramas.
The heroes of the world have bravely faced these challenges and more, struggling to ensure the continued survival of their races. The greatest perils, however, remain unseen. Many of these new threats have the inhabitants of the world wondering if peace will ever find a home in Azeroth...
Deep within Deadwind Pass, restless ghosts roam the darkened halls of Karazhan, where the demon-possessed wizard Medivh spent his final days. Tempted by rumors of the time-lost secrets kept within, adventurers have begun infiltrating the haunted tower. Within the secret passages of the arcane stronghold, horrific nightmares have awakened.
Elsewhere, the brooding dragon Nozdormu stirs. The Timeless One has sensed a threat to his beloved timeways. Shadowy agents have infiltrated the Caverns of Time, attempting to sabotage three key historical events: Thrall's escape from Durnholde, the monumental Battle of Mount Hyjal, and Medivh's creation of the Dark Portal. In the face of this overwhelming threat, Nozdormu is enlisting heroes to help him prevent the fabric of time from unraveling forever.
With the future in peril, a relic of the past has also surfaced, radiating renewed energy. This relic has enabled Lord Kazzak to activate the current Dark Portal, thereby reopening the gateway to...
The Shattered Realm of Outland
Here, before Draenor was torn apart by Ner'zhul's portals, the orcs and draenei once lived in peace. Now this wasteland is ruled by the one-time defender of the night elves: the power-mad Betrayer, Illidan Stormrage.
Joined by Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider's blood elves and the insidious, serpentine naga, Illidan maintains a tight hold on Outland and its multiple portals. The Burning Legion has set its sights on Outland as well, hoping to utilize the portals to gain access to numerous unspoiled worlds. Should the demons prove successful, no refuge would remain against their nihilistic crusade.
Furthermore, the demon lord Kil'jaeden has not forgotten Illidan's failure to destroy the Lich King. Although Illidan still controls the mighty Black Temple, he anticipates the Burning Legion's return and is preparing accordingly. He and his allies fight to ensure that Outland's multiple portals remain tightly sealed while he strengthens his power base.
Even so, Illidan's forces are not the only presence on Outland. Several other factions roam the scattered wastes as well.
Bands of draenei remain, although many of them have devolved into Broken, warped shells of their former selves. Cut off from the Light, these Broken fight for their sanity and their lives.
In addition, much to Warchief Thrall's horror, refugee orcs in the desolate region have discovered and embraced a new source of demonic corruption. Recently a new breed of fel orcs began streaming out of Hellfire Citadel, the Horde base of operations during the First and Second Wars. Though these savage orcs have made no secret of their presence on Outland, the source of their newfound corruption remains a mystery.
Using their dimensional fortress, Tempest Keep, the naaru have recently arrived on Outland as well. These energy beings recognize the strategic importance of the broken wastes and have vowed to defeat their sworn enemies--the Legion--at all costs. When most of the naaru set out to explore the ravaged territories of Outland, however, Kael'thas seized the opportunity to strike.
The blood elves assaulted the fortress, overcoming its automated defenses and taking command of the keep's satellite structures. Kael'thas has now begun manipulating the fortress' otherworldly technologies, using them to harness the chaotic energies of the Netherstorm itself.
Despite Illidan's efforts to keep Outland's portals closed, the Horde and Alliance have anticipated Outland's role in renewed hostilities and ever more perilous threats. The denizens of Azeroth are thus preparing not only to battle each other, but also to face the inevitable onslaught of the Burning Legion. To that end, both Horde and Alliance have recruited new allies.
Two bold new races have stepped forward to answer the call. Devastated by the recent Scourge invasion of Quel'Thalas, the resourceful, magic-addicted blood elves have rallied to rebuild much of their kingdom and take up the cause of the Horde. Meanwhile, the draenei, who once peacefully coexisted with the shamanistic orcs, have joined the Alliance to fight the Burning Legion and avenge past atrocities committed by the orcs...
Flight of the Draenei
Long ago, on the world of Argus, the brilliant and magically gifted eredar race drew the attention of Sargeras, the Destroyer of Worlds. Sargeras offered untold power to the three leaders of the eredar--Kil'jaeden, Archimonde and Velen--in exchange for their unquestioning loyalty. A troubling vision soon came to Velen, who saw the eredar transformed into unspeakable demons--the first sentient members of the Legion, which would grow to immense size and decimate all life.
Despite Velen's warnings, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde decided to accept Sargeras' offer. Velen despaired at his former friends' decision and prayed for help. To his surprise and relief, he was answered by one of the benevolent naaru. These energy beings had, like Velen, foreseen the formation of the Burning Legion.
The naaru offered to shepherd Velen and other believers to refuge. Velen quietly gathered those of his fellow eredar who seemed trustworthy and dubbed them the draenei, or "exiled ones". As Sargeras returned to Argus and transformed many willing eredar into demons, the draenei narrowly escaped their homeworld. Furious, Kil'jaeden vowed to track Velen to the ends of creation.
Even as the Burning Legion chased the draenei across the cosmos, the naaru instructed the exiles in the way of the Light. Deeply affected, the draenei vowed to honor the Light and uphold the naaru's ideals.
In time the draenei settled on a remote world and met the shamanistic orcs who inhabited it. The draenei came to call their new home Draenor or "Exiles' Refuge". Kil'jaeden continued to hunt the exiles, however, and he eventually learned of the idyllic world and its unsuspecting inhabitants.
Working through the shaman Ner'zhul, the demon lord gradually began corrupting the orcs. When Ner'zhul refused to serve the Legion's agenda past a certain point, Kil'jaeden turned to Ner'zhul's apprentice. Gul'dan worked the orcs into a frenzy of bloodlust, and the newly formed Horde began slaughtering the peaceful draenei.
The orcish campaign against the draenei was brutally effective. Over eighty percent of the draenei race was destroyed, though a small group of survivors remained, including the noble Velen.
The orcs went on to invade Azeroth through Medivh's Dark Portal. Years later, after the Second War, Ner'zhul's additional portals would tear Draenor to pieces.
Recently Velen and the remaining draenei survivors gained control of one of Tempest Keep's satellite structures and used it to escape to Azeroth. Now they search for allies in their never-ending battle against the Burning Crusade.
Legacy of the Blood Elves
Long ago the exiled high elves landed on the shores of Lordaeron. They struck out to find a new home, and after many battles with the trolls, established the kingdom of Quel'Thalas.
Using a vial of sacred water stolen from the first Well of Eternity, the high elves created a fount of mystical power at a convergence of ley energies in Quel'Thalas. They named this fountain the Sunwell. Its potent arcane magic fed and strengthened the high elves, and soon the wondrous city of Silvermoon was established.
Protected by a magical barrier, the high elves enjoyed peace for roughly four thousand years, but that peace was not meant to last. The Amani trolls gathered an immense army and assaulted the elven kingdom. Vastly outnumbered, the high elves hastily struck an alliance with the human nation of Arathor. The elves taught a small number of humans how to wield magic. In exchange the humans aided the elves in destroying the trolls' power base forever.
Over the following years the high elves returned to their reclusive ways, but during the Third War, the diabolical Prince Arthas Menethil brought battle once again to their doorstep. Arthas craved the power of the Sunwell and would stop at nothing to harness it. He invaded Quel'Thalas and wiped out most of its population. In the end, even King Anasterian Sunstrider lay dead.
Additionally it became clear that the high elves had become addicted to the Sunwell's arcane energies. Now that the source of their magic was gone, the few remaining high elves quickly grew ill and apathetic.
Prince Kael'thas, last of the royal line, returned from his studies in Dalaran to find Quel'Thalas in ruins. Thirsting for vengeance, he gathered the survivors, renamed them blood elves, and took a group of the strongest fighters to join Lordaeron's campaign against the Scourge.
Due to human prejudice, Kael'thas was forced to accept the assistance of Lady Vashj and her reptilian naga. When the humans discovered that the blood elves had been working with the naga, Kael'thas and the others were imprisoned and condemned to death. Lady Vashj soon arrived to set them free, leading them through a portal and into the broken wastes of Outland.
There, the elves met the one being capable of putting an end to their hunger: the renegade demon, Illidan Stormrage. Certain that the blood elves would die without Illidan's assistance, Kael'thas agreed to serve the Betrayer. A lone representative, Rommath, was sent back to Azeroth with a message of hope for the blood elves remaining in Quel'Thalas: that one day Kael'thas would return to lead his people to paradise.
Rommath has made great progress in teaching the blood elves advanced techniques to manipulate arcane energies. With renewed purpose, the blood elves have now rebuilt the city of Silvermoon, though it is powered by volatile magics. Emboldened by the promise of Kael'thas' return, the weary citizens of Quel'Thalas now focus on regaining their strength, even as they forge a new path into an uncertain future.