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Know Your Lore > WoWAug 20, 2018 1:00 pm CT

Know Your Lore: Jaina Proudmoore’s journey

Jaina Proudmoore has always been her father’s daughter by blood, if not by beliefs. But the only Jaina we’ve known has been Lady Jaina – leader of Theramore, Archmage, former fiancée of the Prince of Lordaeron, diplomat. Her story has been told in between the stories of others, or in relation to others. Not quite a footnote, but not quite a main character, her history has been by and large ignored in favor of the future – of more important things.

And perhaps part of that is due to Jaina herself. Jaina’s actions have almost always been reflective of what she wishes for the future. She’s spent most of her life in service to the rest of the world, selfless to a fault. For when the past comes calling, it comes calling hard.

Daughter of the sea

The thing we tend to forget about Jaina Proudmoore is that she’s from Kul Tiras. It’s where she was born; it’s where she was raised until she was sent off to Dalaran to study. Yes, she was young at that point – only eleven or so when she first met Arthas on her way to Dalaran. But she’s just as much a Kul Tiran as any of the many strong (and sometimes stubborn) NPCs we find as we quest our way through the island nation.

More importantly, it’s something Jaina herself seems to have forgotten over the years. Once in Dalaran, she buried herself in her studies so thoroughly that there are no real records of her returning home at all, even for a visit. She had a good relationship with both of her parents, however, and neither objected to her engagement to Arthas. Why would they? He was the heir to Lordaeron’s throne, after all.

When that engagement abruptly ended, Jaina buried herself even further in her studies. Whatever she’d learned growing up in Kul Tiras no longer seemed to matter to her. Then eventually the Scourge came to Lordaeron, and Jaina dove headfirst into involvement in that matter, only to find herself one of the few witnesses to Arthas’ slow fall to corruption.

The last words Jaina said to Arthas at the gates of Stratholme were, “I’m sorry, Arthas. I can’t watch you do this.”

She didn’t. She returned later to survey the damage he’d wrought. And then she took what survivors she could muster and she left for Kalimdor, putting all thoughts of Arthas firmly behind her.

Blood-soaked shores of Kalimdor

On Kalimdor, Jaina set out to find the mysterious prophet who had urged her to take the journey. He revealed himself as Medivh, the last Guardian of Tirisfal – and he wanted Jaina and the survivors she’d brought across the sea to ally with both Orcs and Night Elves. The Burning Legion threatened the world, and it would take a united force to stop the invasion. Although initially wary, Jaina agreed…and found herself wrapped up in the middle of a war that was eventually won.

Along the way, she made a new friend in Thrall – no doubt in part because Jaina reminded Thrall of Taretha, the human who had been like a sister to him while he grew up in Aedelas Blackmoore’s clutches. In Thrall, Jaina saw something once thought impossible – the potential for peace and some kind of diplomatic resolution between the Alliance and the Horde.

Unfortunately, her father showed up at precisely the wrong moment. Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore was a man who’d fought through the old wars — specifically, a man who’d fought against the Old Horde. He’d lost a son – Jaina’s brother – to the Horde, and he wasn’t about to lose his daughter as well. Jaina was torn. Certainly she had loyalty to her father and her nation…but Thrall’s Horde was not the Horde of old. They’d just fought a war themselves, not against each other, but against a threat far more dire than any factional squabbling.

And in the event that said enemies came calling again, unity would once again be necessary. It was a certainty. Jaina saw it, but she couldn’t make her father see it. So she stood aside, letting the Horde take him down.

And then she put all thoughts of her father firmly behind her and led Theramore with all the grace she could muster.

Old ghosts

Jaina’s focus was fixed on the future, as always. It was fixed on her future as a mage in Dalaran when she left Kul Tiras to study there. It was fixed on a potentially bright future with Arthas, until that crashed around her and sent her back to Dalaran. It returned to that bright future as a mage, until the Scourge arrived and tore that path to pieces. It was fixed on a new beginning in Kalimdor, and then it leapt full on into a bright, peaceful future where two factions weren’t necessarily united, but at least on speaking terms.

And as the years passed, Jaina tried her hardest to draw others into that bright future with her. It almost seemed as if the past was something that Jaina lived through, and then left behind. Not out of cruelty, not out of coldness – Jaina was never cold or cruel. But it always seemed as though once something horrible happened to Jaina, she immediately shelved it away and found another focus to distract her. Better that she devote herself to a better world than wallow in her own sorrows.

Until, that is, Wrath of the Lich King. In Wrath, Jaina was suddenly confronted with world-threatening danger, a threat far more dire than any factional squabbling – and it wore the face of her dead lover. Yes, at the time, it seemed that Jaina spent a lot of time crying. But it wasn’t just mourning for Arthas. It was the sudden reappearance of a past she’d left long, long behind, and memories of a life she never got to experience. For the first time in…possibly ever, Jaina was forced to wrestle with her past and move beyond it. Not by shelving it and putting it aside, but by confronting it head-on.

Beware, beware

Jaina returned to Theramore, and once more resolutely fixed her gaze on that bright future she knew was just around the corner. Perhaps she should have been paying more attention in Northrend, where the squabbles between Alliance and Horde continued to slowly escalate. Yet her diplomatic outreach to the Horde continued – and it was the one thing that managed to save her when Garrosh and his armies came to Theramore. If she had not provided shelter and assistance to Baine Bloodhoof after his father’s passing, Baine might never have sent a messenger to Theramore warning of Garrosh’s intent.

That warning managed to save a lot of lives…but not all of them. And when Theramore was destroyed, that bright future Jaina had been so focused on went up right along with it. Jaina never left Theramore, but Thrall left the Horde…and left it in the hands of a brutish lunatic. Jaina never gave up her ideals of diplomacy, but all Garrosh wanted was conquest. And through it all, one thing came roaring back to her recollection – her father warned her about this. He warned her about the Horde.

And she ignored his warnings. She stood aside, and she let him die.

So Jaina returned to the one place she always returned to when times were terrible – Dalaran. And this time, she didn’t study…she led. Once more the Horde proved itself untrustworthy, when mages supposedly allied with the Kirin Tor went under her nose and allowed Garrosh to steal the Divine Bell right out from under the Alliance’s noses in Darnassus. It wasn’t just the betrayal that offended Jaina – it was the idea of Garrosh having another powerful weapon in his hands, something akin to the mana bomb that wiped out Theramore just a few months before.

When she did flee

When one looks at everything that’s happened to Jaina over the years, is it really any wonder she disappeared for a time? It wasn’t just Khadgar’s insistence of working with the Horde. It wasn’t just the Kirin Tor’s agreement with his assessment over her beliefs. It was that they were doing so and simply…leaving all thought of Theramore out of their minds. The rest of the world moved on when Theramore died. Jaina did not, and could not – because that loss was far too great.

Theramore was her future. Without a future, the only thing she had to look back upon was her past – an ugly past that wore her dead father’s face. He warned her about the Horde. She tried to convince him otherwise. She begged him to listen, and he didn’t.

But she realized, far too late to matter, that perhaps she should have been the one listening all along.

Jaina is learning a hard lesson in Battle for Azeroth. It’s not just that she should have listened to her father – it goes far beyond that. To build a strong house, one needs an unshakable foundation, not a basement full of ghosts and regrets. Where Jaina goes from here is anyone’s guess – but the days of a starry-eyed girl focused resolutely on a fixed point in the distant future are gone. Here and now is where her focus lies…renewing old ties and rebuilding bonds that should never have been left behind.

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