This week’s lore history focus is on one of the most complex races in Warcraft History – the Night Elves. The night elves are allied with the Alliance, all that is good and noble and pure in the land of Azeroth. But a deeper look into night elf history uncovers far less good intentions and noble behavior than one would be led to believe…
The history of the night elves is long, complicated, and spans over sixteen thousand years. That’s a whole lot of history to cover, so for today I’m going to focus on one of the more irritating points of contention in night elf history. Where exactly did the night elves come from in the first place?
To answer this we have to go back to the beginning of Azeroth, when the world contained only one continent – Kalimdor.
The Well of Eternity
Once Upon A Time, there was a planet called Azeroth. And on this planet was a continent – a single one, named Kalimdor. Kalimdor was home to several races of beings, but the one we’re going to focus on for the moment is the troll.
The troll? Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an article about the origins of night elves?
Well, yes and no. There are many, many theories on how the night elves, and the elves themselves began – none confirmed, although the one most strongly hinted at is the one we’re going to look at today. So, to continue:
On this continent of Kalimdor, there was a really, really interesting lake. Nobody honestly knew where the lake had come from – some sources imply that the Titans put it there to begin with to assist in the creation of life on Azeroth. This lake, the Well of Eternity, was fueled by energy from the Great Dark Beyond. The Great Dark Beyond is that space between worlds, the first of everything when there was nothing, and the source of creation for worlds. In layman’s terms, outer space, only magical outer space. The Well of Eternity acted as a mystical fount, spewing its energies across the world and generating and nourishing life in all its forms.
One of the more interesting forms of life that developed on Kalimdor were the trolls – a primitive, somewhat brutal race of beings that included several tribes. The first tribe from which all other tribes originated was the Zandalar, but over time, two distinct troll empires developed – the Amani Empire of the middle lands, and the Gurubashi Empire of the southern jungles. Ancient texts speak of a small faction of trolls that broke off from the Amani Empire, founding their own colony in the heart of Kalimdor.
There, these trolls discovered the Well of Eternity – and a transformation occurred, spurred by the magical energies and raw power of the Well itself. Legends suggest that these trolls were the first night elves, although these legends have never been proven in one way or another.
According to night elf history, a group of nocturnal, feral, nomadic humanoids lived in heart of Kalimdor, and were considered the greatest tribe in the land. At some point, they were drawn to the power of the Well, and gave it the name we call it by – the Well of Eternity. They settled near this well and adopted the name ‘kaldorei’, meaning “Children of the Stars” in their native tongue. After living peacefully near the well for ages, they grew in power and wisdom, soon outstripping the other races of Azeroth and creating an empire of their own. These kaldorei would later be known as the night elves.
The kaldorei worshipped the moon goddess, Elune – night elf history states that they worshipped her before they discovered the Well of Eternity, and the reason they settled there was because they had decided this was Elune’s home – that she lived in the waters during the day, and emerged at night. This is why the kaldorei settled there in the first place – why choose to be anywhere but the arms of your benevolent goddess? Elune is one of the few true ‘deities’ in the world of Azeroth, and one of the most powerful. She is credited for protecting all things living, and allowing them the chance to grown and thrive. Wherever she found violence, she would cast her calming influence, so that peace might be given another chance to thrive.
You’ll notice an awfully large discrepancy between troll and night elf history. While troll legend doesn’t out and out state that the night elves were troll in origin, night elf history neglects to mention the trolls at all – which is entirely expected of the night elf race, for reasons that will be looked at a bit later.
It has been argued back and forth as to which theory is correct, and die-hard night elf players will cling to the kaldorei theory, while die-hard troll players cling gleefully to the theory that night elves were trolls all along. I like to subscribe to a different theory altogether. I like to think that both sides were right, in their own way, and offer up a theory of my own. Please note, this theory is nothing more than speculation.
Here we have a group of trolls, a group of ‘feral, nomadic humanoids’ that split from the Amani Empire and founded their own colony in the heart of Kalimdor. But why did they split from the Amani Empire, when the Amani were one of the two major founding empires of troll society as we know it today? Perhaps because they’d heard the call of something higher than themselves – something that spoke to them of peace, of healing, of the joy to be found in shadows and whispers of the dark. These tentative whispers bade them leave the violent tenets of Amani society and seek something better for themselves, a life of peace and understanding, harmony with nature and the life contained within it. And so the trolls left, seeking the source of the voice, and settled in the heart of Azeroth.
Elune’s whole shtick as far as being a demigod was calming the violent and promoting peace and life. The Amani were a particularly brutal tribe of trolls – so it would stand to reason that all the battles, bloodshed, and infighting would capture the deity’s attentions. Elune herself has never been seen in physical form, although hallucinations and visions always show her appearing as a night elf – long, pale hair, eyes of pure moonlight, and bathed in a radiant luminescence reminiscent of the moon. In real world mythology and religion, gods are wont to shape their followers in their own image – it stands to reason that the trolls, finally making their way to the Well of Eternity, discovered Elune herself. Elune, being the benevolent deity that she is, shaped the trolls into creatures of her own image, in reward for leaving the ways of violence and seeking a higher, peaceful path – and also to differentiate her followers from the brutish trolls. This is how the night elves were born – not of evolution, but of sheer magic, which suits the night elf mythos nicely.
This fits neatly between both troll and night elf history – and as both races are prone to bouts of self-importance, it stands to reason neither would be willing to bend as far as creation theories go. The trolls would continue assuming the night elves were merely weaker cousins of the mighty troll empire, and the night elves…
Well, the night elves weren’t about to link themselves with savage brutes. They were far, far better than that.
The kaldorei went forth and multiplied and, save for a few uneasy skirmishes with the trolls, lived in relative peace alongside the Well of Eternity, expanding their small tribe into what would become the greatest city of them all – Zin’Azshari, the Glory of Azshara. The Well of Eternity continued to entrance and imbue them with its arcane energy and magics…but as with all creatures, whether they be from Draenor or Azeroth, it pulsed with the one thing that would eventually be the downfall of their great civilization: Power.
More to come in the next Lore History post: History of the Night Elves – Azshara’s Got Some Mighty Tracts of Land