Know Your Lore: Draenei
They are the last uncorrupted remnant of the eredar people. They are refugees hunted across time and space by the Burning Legion, spearheaded by those who were once their brothers and sisters, the man’ari eredar. Led by Sargeras’s chosen disciples Kil’jaeden and Archimonde, the Legion will not rest until they are destroyed. Not merely dead — everything they hold dear, everything they have believed, everything they’ve struggled for and revered has to die as well. It’s a long, slow death the eredar would inflict upon them.
They are the exiles who exiled themselves. They are the draenei.
The Darkest Beginning
The draenei of today date back in time more than twenty five thousand years. To put that into perspective, the War of the Ancients (the first invasion of Azeroth by the Burning Legion) took place ten thousand years ago. So, when the Legion first invaded Azeroth via the Well of Eternity, the draenei had already been on their lonely exile for fifteen thousand years. When you play Warlords of Draenor, you will meet draenei such as Restalaan who date back to the time the draenei lived on Argus, which means they are more than twice as old as the oldest night elves in existence. And they have been on the run from the Burning Legion for all of this time.
In a time so long past that even the draenei today have little to say about it, the eredar on the world of Argus raised a civilization of wonders, of magic and science working so seamlessly that no one could say which was which. Using the ancient Ata’mal Crystal, itself a relic of an age long past, the eredar made of Argus a world of near-miracles. So skilled were they are the manipulation of the arcane that in time they drew the attention of a being who might well have appeared as a god – the Titan known as Sargeras. To the magically sophisticated wonder-workers of Argus, the Titan made an offer that sounded as if it was the ancient eredar dream. Sargeras had need of servants to aid him in his grand design for the cosmos. If the eredar joined him, and became the leaders and officers of this crusade he was raising, he would grant them power undreamt of and the knowledge they’d always sought, the answers to a million not yet conceived questions.
At that time the leaders of the eredar were Kil’jaeden, Archimonde and Velen. Archimonde was eager to accept Sargeras’s offer, and Kil’jaeden was more than willing to entertain it. They were being offered the power and knowledge their people had been struggling for over countless millennia — now, instead of having to work for it, it was simply theirs for the taking. And to have earned the attentions of a godlike entity like Sargeras spoke well for them, did it not? But Velen was suspicious. Why would the Titan come to them? Why offer them a position amongst his followers? What could such a powerful being need with the eredar?
Velen was suspicious, and so, Velen went to meditate at the Ata’mal Crystal. What he saw confirmed his suspicion. The eredar would become monsters, reveling in destruction and death, and wipe out entire worlds for the mad Titan. Yet he also saw the path to salvation for those of his people who would listen. Taking the Ata’mal Crystal, he traveled with his followers to the highest mountain on Argus, and upon discovering that Kil’jaeden and Archimonde had sent corrupted servants — their former people, now man’ari or corrupted by fel magics — Velen held aloft the Ata’mal Crystal and called down the dimensional ship Genedar.
The Genedar was a naaru vessel, piloted by K’ure, the naaru who spoke to Velen through the Ata’mal Crystal. The paltry few hundred eredar who were now aboard that vessel with Velen would become the forebears of a new people — no longer eredar, but rather exiles by their own choice. Thus they renamed themselves draenei, meaning ‘exiled ones.’ And for the next twenty five thousand years, they wandered the cosmos, learning from the naaru and traveling from world to world, seeking refuge from the Legion. And never finding it. Kil’jaeden was personally incensed by Velen’s departure, seeing it as a personal betrayal, and so the Deceiver hounded and harried the draenei from world to world.
The arrival on Draenor
Unlike other worlds the draenei have lived on, the Genedar did not arrive gently on Draenor. Instead, the vessel crash landed, with disastrous results for the naaru aboard. K’ara was badly injured and ejected from the craft as it crashed, drifting above Shadowmoon Valley in her void state, becoming known as the Dark Star. She would come to have a strong effect on the native Shadowmoon clan of orcs, as the void energies she released were so dangerous that the ancient Shadowmoon forbid their people to interact with them, strictures broken by Ner’zhul in the hope of saving his people from the Iron Horde. D’ore was so badly injured that his body was placed in Auchindoun. And K’ure was trapped within the enormous diamond mountain that became known as Oshu’gun by the native orcish people of Nagrand.
Trapped on this new world and without the counsel of the naaru for the first time in thousands of years, the draenei moved to secure an existence for themselves. They settled in various regions including Shadowmoon Valley (where they raised the Temple of Karabor, perhaps in K’ara’s honor), Talador where they built cities like Shattrath and Auchindoun as well as smaller settlements like Telmor, and to a lesser extent in Nagrand to keep some form of connection to Oshu’gun, the ruins of the Genedar. They also settled to the north, on the island of Farahlon. Their society managed to flourish on the world, which they called Draenor (exiles refuge in their language) and the name seems to have proliferated simply because neither the orcs nor ogres thought the world needed a name. For the first time, it seemed as if the draenei had finally found a place where they could hide from the Legion.
Here is where our histories divide. But for now, we can stop here — up until this point, the history of the draenei we’ve known since Burning Crusade and the ones we encounter in Warlords of Draenor are the same. How they diverge… well, that’s an interesting question.
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