Some history behind the incredible new World of Warcraft Warbringers short

Remember Warbringers, the three animated shorts Blizzard promised to release sometime before Battle for Azeroth? Well, the first one is here, and it’s glorious. Focussing on Jaina Proudmoore, it begins right where Reunion, the comic featuring Jaina and her arrival in her ancestral home Kul Tiras left off, and can I just say I love this cross-medium story-telling? The short features a song sung often in Kul Tiras (one of two new locations we’ll be visiting in Battle for Azeroth), a haunting sea shanty about a “daughter of the sea”, namely Jaina Proudmoore herself, and how she betrayed her father – and, by extension, her entire nation.

I really think even non-WoW players can appreciate the beauty of this short, but also that it’s best if you understand the history behind it. So here’s a brief history about Kul Tiras’s “daughter of the sea”.

Jaina was the daughter of Admiral Proudmoore, leader of the island nation of Kul Tiras. A gifted mage, she spent most of her youth in the mage city of Dalaran in the Eastern Kingdoms. When the rumours of a plague of undeath reached Dalaran, Jaina was chosen to investigate. She met up with Prince Arthas, to whom she had once been unofficially engaged, and, for a time, they rekindled their romance. But it wouldn’t last. When they discovered the entire village of Strathholme had been infected by the plague, Arthas made the terrible choice to scourge the city, killing men, women, and children before the plague could overtake them. Jaina couldn’t stand by and watch this, and she left.

When the prophet Medivh arrived in the Eastern Kingdoms to warn of a threat on the continent of Kalimdor across the sea, only two leaders would listen – Thrall, orc and Warchief of the new Horde, and Jaina. Arthas, now an undead champion of the Lich King, had invaded Dalaran, and, realising that the mysterious prophet she had met months ago was right, Jaina lead the survivors of Dalaran across the sea. Once they reached Kalimdor, Thrall’s and Jaina’s people ran into each other, and were just about to begin fighting when the prophet arrived again. Medivh told them about the threat that was the Burning Legion, and in the face of this new peril, Jaina and Thrall managed something that had been unheard of in Azeroth before this point – a peace between humans and orcs. Together, and with the assistance of other allies, Jaina and Thrall were able to defeat the demon lord Archimonde, push back the Burning Legion, and save Azeroth from total destruction. Then Jaina and Thrall’s people each founded a home. Thrall and his orcs settled in the city of Orgrimmar, and Jaina and her people settled in Theramore. There existed between these two nations, if not a total alliance, then at least a truce of sorts.

Until Admiral Proudmoore showed up.

Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore was, as I mentioned, the leader of the nation of Kul Tiras, a society of sea-faring folk, and one best known for its powerful navy. Daelin led the Alliance’s naval forces and fought the orcs during the Second War, and he had a definite advantage until the red dragons – captured by the Horde and forced into their servitude as their very own fire-breathing war mounts – arrived to incinerate Proudmoore’s ships. The losses Daelin’s fleet suffered were catastrophic, but perhaps the most devastating blow was the loss of his eldest son, Derek Proudmoore.

Needless to say, when Daelin came to visit Jaina and saw orcs hanging out with his beloved daughter, he lost every bit of his mind and attacked at once. Jaina tried to reason with him, telling him that Thrall’s Horde was different to the orcs he fought in the Second War, but for him, the only good orc was a dead one. Orcs had killed so may of his people, including his son, that he believed them to be irredeemable monsters. He took over Theramore and started his campaign against the Horde. Thrall also had a go at reasoning with him, but eventually both he and Jaina had to accept the fact that Admiral Daelin Proudmoore wasn’t going to stop trying to kill as many orcs as he could unless he was forced to. Jaina stood by and allowed Thrall’s Horde to defend itself against her father’s aggression, and Admiral Proudmoore, hero of the Alliance, proud leader of an ancient and noble nation, fell in battle.

And that’s why Jaina’s people hate her. Not the people of Theramore, but the people of her ancestral home, Kul Tiras. Those who returned after Daelin Proudmoore died told of his daughter’s betrayal, and now she’s almost a folktale boogeyman there. Needless to say, until the recent comic where she returns to Kul Tiras, Jaina hadn’t seen her own mother, Katherine Proudmoore and Lord Admiral after her husband’s death, in years.

Jaina’s been through a great deal. She saw Arthas turn into the Lich King, an evil, corrupted ruler of an undead army. She’s seen him taken out, and discovered he’d kept a locket with her picture in it, a revelation that broke her heart. She remained a strong advocate for peace, even intervening when the Alliance leader Varian Wrynn wanted to attack the Horde. She even fell in love again, this time with the blue dragon Kalecgos (I know, it gets weird, but he has a human form if that helps). She watched the world literally torn apart by the black dragon Deathwing and the Cataclysm. Throughout it all, she’s always believed in hope, love, and peace.

But all this changed with the bombing of Theramore.

Just before the events of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, Thrall’s successor Garrosh Hellscream broke the peace between Jaina and the Horde by dropping a mana bomb – the equivalent of a nuke – on Theramore. It broke Jaina. Her entire city, the nation she had lead out of the Eastern Kingdoms, helped establish a home for, had dedicated her life to protecting and serving, was gone in one moment. This was her home and her family, and it was gone, destroyed by the same faction she had let her father die in order to protect. Ever since the bombing of Theramore, Jaina has been quite understandably distraught. The whole thing left its mark on her, and not just by turning her blonde hair white with a single golden streak or vastly improving her sense of style. Even though the Horde, sickened by Garrosh’s tactics, had a revolution to remove him as Warchief, and even though he’s long since dead, Jaina still can’t quite get over her hatred and mistrust for the Horde. And to be fair, they’ve not exactly been shining examples of trustworthy angels lately. And with Sylvanas, my favourite character but also quite undeniably a ruthless, undead, aggressive, banshee queen leading the Horde now, Jaina has little cause to ever go back to being the peace-lover she once was. For the first time, she has more in common with her father than she has with Thrall.

Throughout Legion, Jaina has seemed a little aimless. She was leading the Kirin Tor, a powerful mage faction, but left it once she realised she couldn’t accept working with the Horde again. But she hasn’t been idle. Her whole identity has been thoroughly shaken to the core, and she’s been on a journey to find out who she is now.

Now, watch that video again.

It’s hard to imagine the grief and regret she must feel as she raises her father’s ship from the bottom of the ocean, and utters the words, “I’m listening now, Father.”

One word – chills.

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