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The draenei (meaning Exiled Ones in their own tongue) are a faction of uncorrupted eredar who fled their homeworld of Argus and settled on the Azuremyst Isles, near the west coast of Kalimdor. They joined the Alliance during The Burning Crusade. Their capital city is the Exodar.
Long ago, on the planet of Argus, the eredar race arose. They were extremely intelligent and had a natural affinity for magic in all of its forms. Using their gifts, they developed a vast and wondrous society. They were aided in this development by an ancient artifact known as the Ata'mal crystal, a triangular crystal whose origin was a mystery to the eredar, though their legends suggested it had been a gift bestowed upon them in ancient times.
At the height of their society, the eredar's three most prominent leaders, Kil'jaeden, Archimonde, and Velen, were approached by Sargeras, the Fallen Titan. Sargeras claimed he was impressed by the work of the eredar and wanted to supply them with even more power and knowledge in exchange for their loyalty. But while Kil'jaeden and Archimonde readily accepted the deal, Velen had doubts. After touching the Ata'mal crystal in its temple, he had a vision of the future that filled him with dread. He saw the dark future his people were heading towards: siding with the dark titan Sargeras and transformed into demons. Velen saw the Legion in all its terrible might and witnessed the destruction it would wreak upon all of creation. He hastened to warn Kil'jaeden and Archimonde, but they dismissed his concerns and proceeded to profess loyalty to Sargeras. Together, the latter transformed a majority of their people into an insidious race of warlocks and later allied themselves with the Burning Legion.
Velen knew he and those who shared his concerns would have to flee Argus, but the impossibility of such a feat brought him to despair. At that time, the Ata'mal crystal started to glow and arose from its pedestal. A voice came to Velen and explained that it was one of the naaru, a race of sapient energy beings bent on stopping the Burning Legion. The naaru, K'ure, offered to take Velen and any other like-minded eredar to safety, and instructed Velen to bring the Ata'mal crystal, revealing that it had been a gift from the naaru in ancient times and a beacon by which the naaru would find Velen and his followers. Deeply relieved, Velen gathered the other eredar loyal to him on the appointed day; they numbered only in the hundreds. With Kil'jaeden and Archimonde hot on their heels, they barely escaped from Argus in the naaru ship Genedar. In their escape, the Ata'mal crystal was shattered into seven shards.
Kil'jaeden was furious with what he felt was Velen's betrayal, and the demon vowed to hunt Velen and the rest of his followers to the ends of the cosmos if need be.
Naming themselves the "draenei", or "exiled ones" in the Eredun language, they hid among many worlds and explored much of the cosmos in their quest to find safe harbor. Still, a hell-bent Kil'jaeden would not give up his pursuit, sending his agent Talgath to hunt them down. Meanwhile, the enigmatic naaru race blessed the draenei with Light-given knowledge and power. The naaru explained that there were other forces in the cosmos that would stand against the Burning Legion. One day the naaru would forge them into a single unstoppable Army of the Light. Deeply affected by the naaru's words, the draenei vowed to honor the Light and uphold the naaru's altruistic ideals.
Refuge on DraenorEdit
More than 200 years before the First War, Velen and his draenei settled upon a remote and peaceful world that seemed an ideal refuge. They named it Draenor, and there they quietly cultivated their society once again. Ever wary of being discovered again by Kil'jaeden's forces, Velen and his mystics kept their magic hidden.
In time the draenei met and befriended the shamanic orc clans that already lived in the tranquil southern grasslands of Nagrand. Aside from engaging in some limited trade, the draenei and orcs regarded one another with respect but kept mostly to themselves.
However, no amount of preparation could keep the draenei hidden forever. Eventually, Talgath—after some 25,000 years of pursuit—stumbled upon Draenor sensing the sweet minting essence of eredar magic, and reported back to Kil'jaeden.
Kil'jaeden, however, ordered him to investigate this world. After confirming the presence of the draenei, the Deceiver asked for information regarding the other inhabitants of that world, particularly the orcs. The man'ari lord decided to "punish" the exiles: he wanted them dead, but broken and humiliated. Through his orc protégé Gul'dan, he quickly succeeded in corrupting the shamanistic orcs. Smoothly manipulated from a state of wary acceptance into blind rage and blood lust, the orcs attacked the draenei. This bloody conflict lasted nearly eight years, but the orcs' triumph was unequivocal. The orcs killed over eighty percent of the draenei race: approximately nine of every ten individuals. and sent the rest fleeing for safety to the remote corners of the world.
Draenei who had fought the Horde and survived found that they had been affected by the fel energies wielded so freely by the orc warlocks, and both anchorites and vindicators alike, such as Akama and Nobundo, immediately found their link to the Light had been broken. These draenei have since mutated into lesser forms, resulting in a series of subspecies.
Kil'jaeden's revenge was complete, or so he thought — Velen and a handful of untransformed draenei have survived the destruction of their cities by the orcs and fled to one of the marshes on the coast of the Zangar Sea; presumably it was either the Zangar Shore or Zangarra, as they were the closest to Shattrath. There they have been hiding until recently.
Arrival of Illidan and the Blood ElvesEdit
One group of Lost Ones battling the Fel Orcs were lead by Akama, Elder Sage of the draenei, were slowly losing. Cursed orcs serve Magtheridon—a terrible lord whose Black Citadel lies to the west. Cursed orcs under the command of Magtheridon, hunted the draenei to the brink of extinction. With the help of Illidan and Kael'thas the draenei hoped to turn the balance in their favor and rid themselves of the fel orcs once and for all. With Illidan's help they fought back to retake their ancestral lands, and hoped that they would end their curse forever.
After coming to Draenor, the blood elves discovered the power of Tempest Keep and successfully seized it. To escape, the draenei came out of hiding and managed to wrestle control of a wing of the keep, The Exodar, and tried to use it to flee and find aid in retaking their home. Before they could, however, the blood elves managed to sabotage what is essentially the "engine" of the draenei's transdimensional travel. The remainder of the Keep lies in Outland in Netherstorm and is now the home of Prince Kael'thas.
Arrival on AzerothEdit
When the draenei tried to planeshift, their sabotaged engine went haywire, and The Exodar ended up hurtling out of control through the Twisting Nether until it crash-landed on a chain of islands, the Azuremyst Isles, off the western coast of Kalimdor. Their arrival on Azeroth wasn't pretty - they ended up tearing up the landscape over on Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isle. While they were of course concerned about their fellow survivors, they were just as concerned with what they'd done to the land and the creatures on it. As the surviving draenei salvaged what they could of their ship and tried to help what was left of their people, they began exploring this new world; contact with the night elves of Darkshore was imminent. Inspired by heroic tales of the Alliance and its victories against the Legion, the draenei sought out and pledged their loyalty to this courageous faction. Not long afterward, Velen and his noble refugees played a key role in urging the Alliance to invade Outland and disrupt the Legion’s nefarious activities. Armed with their unshakable faith in the Light, the draenei ventured to their embattled former home as steadfast members of the Alliance and defeated their ancient demonic rivals. The return to Outland offered many draenei a chance to reconnect with their brethren who had been left behind. While some of Velen’s race chose to rebuild their society in the shattered land, the majority of draenei remained on Azeroth, vowing to uphold their commitment to the Alliance.
Meanwhile in Shattrath City, a small remnant of the draenei priesthood still conducted its rites in a ruined temple. This remnant, known as the Aldor, were more than happy to see the naaru A'dal, and with their combined efforts, Shattrath began to truly flourish for the first time in years. Unfortunately, the tentative peace was not to last - Illidan's armies began to attack, including a large regiment of blood elves. These blood elves, led by Voren'thal, were sent to lay waste to the city when something unexpected happened: The blood elves lay down their weapons, and Voren'thal stormed into the Terrace of Light, demanding to speak to A'dal. Kneeling before the naaru, Voren'thal simply said: "I've seen you in a vision, naaru. My race's only hope for survival lies with you. My followers and I are here to serve you." Voren'thal took up residence along with his followers, forming the Scryer faction.
Meanwhile the blood elves of Silvermoon had been siphoning the Light from a naaru named M'uru that had been given to them by Prince Kael'thas, using its energies to form an order of Blood Knights that bore the same powers as paladins. Kael'thas Sunstrider, unhappy with Illidan's lack of progress, decided to move a step up on the food chain and ally himself with the Burning Legion - specifically Kil'jaeden. So Kael'thas took M'uru from the blood elves and fled to the Sunwell, intent on bringing Kil'jaeden to Azeroth. The Aldor and Scryers immediately dropped their petty bickering and differences and threw themselves into the creation of the Shattered Sun Offensive at the behest of the naaru. This is where the line blurs even further between the two races - both worked together, as one, to take back the Isle of Quel'danas, and both encouraged Alliance and Horde to work together.
And it was by working together that the Shattered Sun Offensive succeeded in retaking the Isle and to prevent Kil'jaeden's return. M'uru, who had become a darkened naaru and perished, however Velen appeared shortly thereafter and uses the naaru M'uru's "spark" to reignite the Sunwell, returning the blood elves' "fount of power."
Wrath of the Lich KingEdit
There are a few draenei in Northrend. Vindicator Yaala and Harbinger Vurenn investigate the mysterious Cult of the Damned in Borean Tundra, who have stowed away to Northrend on an Alliance ship. Thoralius the Wise helps adventurers with a vision in Howling Fjord. Vindicator Maraad is traveling aboard the Skybreaker in Icecrown. They also make a presence at the Argent Tournament later on. The sudden absence of the draenei is explained in Borean Tundra, where draenei that have traveled to Northrend are told that there's no need for them in the north, due to the meddling of the Cult of the Damned.
Anchorite Avuun travelled to The Harborage eager to learn all that he can from Magtoor and the Lost Ones of the Swamp of Sorrows. Avuun has faith that there is a way to bring the Lost Ones back from the brink and find a way to cure the fel energies that have consumed them. He worked for years to try to cure the affliction of the Broken. The foul energies that corrupted them did more than twist their bodies - it took the comfort of the Light from them so they cannot feel its warmth. Avuun was also eager to help Magtoor who grew weaker every second. As Magtoor passed away and Avuun thought that the Light forsake the innocent a portal from the Exodar opened and Prophet Velen stepped through. Velen explained that the Light wishes suffering on none, but it does not reign unopposed in our realm. As Magtoor had embraced his plight bravely he was ready to return to the embrace of the Light.
Warlords of DraenorEdit
The Draenei will be a major Alliance force during the events of Warlords of Draenor, which takes place in the alternate version of past Draenor, roughly 35 years in the past. The Iron Horde onslaught threatens Draenei cities such as Karabor and Shattrath, and the cornered draenei will align themselves with the Alliance expedition from current Azeroth in order to stop the advancing orcish armies.
Maraad also will make his return as one of the key figures of the Alliance forces in Old Draenor.
Draenei are 7-8 feet tall. They are physically different from the eredar of the Burning Legion. They do not, however, seem to exhibit the red skin of demonic eredar. Draenei also lack the horns that demonic eredar have on their faces. They do have fangs. Draenei are described as being all or overall blue (with the exception of Velen who is described as having white skin later in his life).
Draenei who use the Gift of the Naaru racial ability have a glowing sigil float above their head for the duration of the effect.
Draenei males have tendrils coming out of their chin and a fan-like forehead plate which rises and overlaps other forehead plates behind it. Male draenei have large tails which are held erect by developed muscle structure. The female of the species exhibits marked differences: rather than the forehead plates featured on the male, they have vaguely horn-shaped cranial extensions that extend over the upper cranium and end on either side of the crown. Female cranial tendrils sprout behind the ear and are typically long enough to reach the shoulders. Their tendrils are thinner than the male's. Female draenei tails are shorter and have a lower muscle density. In both genders, the hooves are relatively large, in contrast to the more compacted hooves of their demonic counterparts.
Draenei have a diverse amount of hair colors including gray, white, blue/black, brown, and purple. Similarly, the number of facial tentacles on male draenei can vary. They can feature zero, one, two, or four tentacles of different shape and size.
While most Draenei have a glowing blue eye color, there are some that have been seen with a glowing purple hue. Since these examples are either Paladins or Shaman, there doesn't seem to be anything that causes this color difference that's out of the ordinary (such as practicing Void magic or the like). We have also seen examples of glowing green eyes as well, which also don't seem to show any signs of being anything else other than a purely natural eye color.
When draenei die, the glow will fade away.
The draenei culture is centered around two things: the Holy Light of Creation and magic. The first is the result of their unique relationship with the naaru, while the second is the path that the eredar have always followed. As a result, draenei usually choose religious professions, such as priests or paladins, or magical ones, such as the mage. Some draenei such as the Auchenai have even mastered the art of talking to the dead. A few have started to follow the path of the shaman under the guidance of Farseer Nobundo.
As a people, the draenei have devoted themselves to preparing for the day when they will join the Army of the Light, when they will finally take the fight back to the Burning Legion and atone for the sins of their man'ari brethren. In spite of this overarching goal, the draenei still lead personal lives and pursue their own interests, just as other races do.
As far as interracial relations go, the draenei still distrust or in some cases hate the orcs after having lost so many of their kind when the orcs turned on them. Certain characteristics of modern orcs, such as their still-green skin and the fact that some still practice warlock magic (though their new allies, the humans and the gnomes, are also guilty of this), as well as personal grudges on both sides, make the road to forgiveness difficult, regardless of whatever peace initiatives Velen or Thrall are willing to launch. Nevertheless there are still cases of acceptance between the two; for instance, the Horde aligned Earthen Ring has accepted draenei and Broken shamans to heal Outland. The draenei are also coming to loathe the blood elves, due to the unprovoked assault on Tempest Keep by the blood elves under Kael'thas and their new methods of feeding their magical addiction. They do see that not all blood elves serve Kael'thas and even Velen himself has forebodingly told of the redemption of the elven race in the Sunwell Plateau epilogue. As with any other races though, there are people among them that have strong opinions and beliefs based on first impressions: Despite the help offered by the Scryers and Naaru's acceptance of them the Aldor are in strict competition with them, going so far as not to associate at all with those who have chosen to side with the Scryers.
Early overtures of friendship with the Alliance had been met with varying degrees of success. Many of the Alliance races have trouble distinguishing the draenei from the man'ari eredar who nearly brought about their destruction. The night elves in particular have twice suffered heavily at the hands of Archimonde. However, the draenei are quickly being accepted by most races, and ambassadors from the Exodar have been welcomed into the Alliance's halls of power — even those of the night elves, where a draenei emissary stands at the right of Tyrande herself.
Talbuks are their favored food.
The purple crystals often associated with draenei that decorate their buildings, weapons, and armor, are known as arkonite crystals and are used to power everyday draenei society. Arkonite is a powerful source of arcane energy. Before Draenor's destruction, it was mined across Talador with an additional mine in Shadowmoon Valley. Luminescent Heartglobes are installed atop poles by draenei civil engineers to provide well-lit paths and common areas.
The engineers of the draenei are known as the Artificers, and on Draenor were led by Exarch Hataaru. The Artificiers excelled in working with arkonite crystals. However, the technology available now is only a shadow of what the draenei had on Argus.
The greatest warriors of the draenei may be called upon for one final service as they stand on the precipice of the afterlife: inhabiting one of the armored constructs that serve as the eternal protectors of Auchindoun and the draenei civilization on Draenor.
Contrary to popular belief, the dimensional ships used by the draenei, such as Tempest Keep and its satellites, were not created by the draenei themselves. They are actually an example of naaru technology.
draenei were said to have only been said to speak Draenei, with no other primary or secondary languages listed. However, once joining the Alliance, they learned to speak Common. Many high-ranking draenei who have been in contact with orcs before their corruption also know Orcish.
Though the draenei rely on the Prophet Velen's leadership and guidance, the administration of the Exiled Ones' society in Draenor was run by a council of exarchs. This body, called "The Hands of the Prophet", was formed by the heads of various fields of draenei society and they voted on bureaucratic matters. The Exarch Council comprises of:
- Sha'tari Proconsul (Representing the Sha'tari).
- Rangari Prime (Representing the Rangari).
- Chief Artificer (Representing the Artificers: the draenei engineers).
- High Vindicator (Representing the Vindicators).
- Speaker for the Dead (Representing the Auchenai and deceased draenei).
Following the destruction of Draenor and collapse of draenei society, the Exarch Council appears to have become obsolete. The Triumvirate of the Hand may be some form of replacement for it to at least some extent.
Scattered tribes of broken draenei wander amongst the devastated fields of Outland. Akama's tribe is known as the Ashtongue, while the elite are known as Ashtongue Deathsworn. Some of these tribes are at odds with Akama's tribe.
Another of these tribes left Outland after the destruction of their world and call themselves the Lost Ones. There are also several Lost One villages in Outland.