A brief recap: The quel’dorei, or ‘high elves’ were banished from Kalimdor by the night elves after throwing a bit of a temper tantrum, and headed to the Eastern Kingdoms. Once there, they made some new friends in the humans of the Arathor Empire, and some new enemies in the trolls of the Amani Empire. They joined the first forming of the Alliance that came about as a result of Stormwind’s destruction, but a lot of their trees got burned down in the resulting war with the orcs and trolls. After the war, they threw another, smaller, more polite temper tantrum and withdrew from the Alliance; choosing to live solely in Quel’Thelas and ignore the Alliance goings on, save for a small minority of high elves that chose instead to work with the humans.
So by this point in high elf history, there are, once again, two factions starting to come into play. While most of the elves were content to once more retreat to the Sunwell and the spires of Quel’Thalas, there were others, priests and sorcerers, that wished to continue exploring the world and teaching the humans the arts of magic. Among the high elves that chose to live outside of Quel’Thalas was the son of Anasterian, Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider.
The Fall of Quel’Thelas and the destruction of the Sunwell
Kael’thas was a powerful mage – perhaps one of the most powerful mages in the world, and he studied and worked extensively with the Kirin Tor, a neutral collection of the greatest mages in Azeroth. Not only was Kael’thas a member, he was one of the Six – the high council of the Kirin Tor that together voted on and discussed the most important matters concerning the city. Kael’thas had been a member of the Kirin Tor for quite some time, and while his father withdrew from the Alliance, Kael’thas still stood by the Kirin Tor – not a member of the Alliance, the Kirin Tor was simply a neutral party.
Life continued on – although the quiet of Quel’Thalas was soon to be shattered in the most spectacular of fashions. Prince Arthas Menethil fell under the influence of the Lich King, had picked up the corrupted blade Frostmourne, and had killed his father King Terenas in cold blood. Arthas had a task set before him by the dreadlord Tichondruis – he was to resurrect the necromancer Kel’Thuzad. In order to do so, he had to take the remains of the necromancer to a place where such a powerful magic could be performed. The Sunwell, source of the high elves powers, was his next destination.
The forests of Quel’Thalas were still protected by the enchantment that had been laid in place years before, and so Arthas had to find a way into them, an insider that could get him in. He found one in Dar’Khan Drathir, a member of the Convocation of Silvermoon. Dar’Khan was bitter, egotistical, and believed he deserved far more power and prestige than he was getting – and Arthas promised him that power and prestige in return for his betrayal. Dar’Khan gave him two powerful artifacts, the Stone of Light and the Stone of Flame, which together had warding powers against the undead and would allow Arthas and his Scourge army to circumvent the defenses that had been placed over Quel’Thalas.
And so Arthas marched together with his army of undead Scourge, along a path that is now known as the Dead Scar – destroying one of the protective runestones, and leaving death and destruction in his wake. Arthas was not met without resistance however – the high elves, in a desperate attempt to slow the Scourge’s progress and stop the blight from spreading further, set the area around the destroyed runestone ablaze, burning their beloved forests that they’d sought so hard to protect. But the Scourge pressed on.
Leading the defense against the Scourge was the high elven Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner. While Windrunner put up quite the resistance, she too finally fell against Frostmourne’s blade. Arthas, in a deliberate gesture of dominance over the elf that had been such a thorn in his side, took Sylvanas’ lifeless body and ripped her spirit from it, creating the first banshee. Sylvanas now served the Lich King and his Scourge, who pressed on to their final destination – the Sunwell.
Silvermoon fell under direct attack, and while the high elves tried the best they could, they were no match for the Scourge forces – soon the city lay in ruins, and the beloved leader of the high elves, King Anasterian Sunstrider, lay dead at the Lich King’s feet. Finally, with grim determination, Arthas reached the Sunwell, throwing the remains of the necromancer into the pool and achieving his goal. Kel’Thuzad rose again, not as a human necromancer, but as an undead lich. The Sunwell had been corrupted irrevocably.
With Anasterian dead, leadership fell to his son, Prince Kael’thas. Kael’thas had returned, bringing the beaten and battered high elves a small spark of hope. While he knew the Scourge were an unrelenting army and still posed a great threat to his people, there was something that posed a far greater threat – the corrupted Sunwell. He had no choice, and together with the aid of the most powerful remaining magi, destroyed the Sunwell.
The Birth of The Sin’dorei
All was not lost – for while the Sunwell was destroyed, unbeknownst to everyone a wizard named Borel – who was secretly the red dragon Korialstrasz – gathered what remained of the Sunwell’s energies and hid them away in the guise of a young human girl, Anveena Teague. He fabricated a life for the human in an effort to make the guise a genuine one, giving her parents and a small farm on which she had been ‘raised’, and left her there until the time came that the Sunwell could be restored again.
Prince Kael’thas gathered what remained of his battered people, so few in number after the Scourge attacks, and declared that they would now and forever be known as the sin’dorei, ‘blood elves’, in remembrance of those that had fallen in defense of their once-beautiful homeland. But Kael’thas could not have predicted what happened next – the blood elves sank into withdrawal, the same withdrawal as the original quel’dorei had felt when the original Well of Eternity was destroyed. The elves of Quel’Thelas were once more deprived of that which imbued every essence of their bodies, and fell quickly into sickness and depression, the youngest and oldest of them dying off, one by one.
Kael’thas, thirsting for vengeance against the Scourge that had decimated his people and killed his father, took the healthiest of his warriors and immediately joined the campaign against the Scourge in Lordaeron. He left behind Lor’themar Theron, the second-in command of Sylvanas, and another ranger named Halduron Brightwing remained behind to safeguard the land and seek a cure for the weakened blood elves.
Kael’thas and his soldiers were sent to the Silverpine Forest when a disturbance began to rile up the undead in and around Dalaran. Kael’thas ordered a retreat, and as his soldiers were loading up the wagons, two entirely unexpected strangers, night elves named Maiev Shadowsong and Tyrande Whisperwind, who were in pursuit of a rogue night elf named Illidan Stormrage, met him. Kael’thas guessed that Illidan was behind the disturbances at Dalaran, and when he told them of this, Tyrande immediately offered her assistance, thinking that perhaps Kael’thas could help them track Illidan down. With the protection of the night elves, they traveled to Pyrewood Village to retrieve the rest of the buried supply caches, and Kael’thas told them of the destruction of Quel’thalas. Tyrande empathized with his plight, but warned him that the path of vengeance and rage was not the best path to follow.
The group was ambushed in Pyrewood by undead attackers, and Maiev and Kael’thas rushed the caravan across the bridge to safety while Tyrande stayed to fend off the undead. As she called upon Elune to protect her, the bridge fell away, sweeping Tyrande down the river. Kael’thas wanted to find and rescue Tyrande, but Maiev stopped him, telling him Tyrande was a warrior and knew the risks and demanding that Kael’thas honor their bargain and help her capture Illidan. The two tracked Illidan to Dalaran, where Kael’s scouts found him performing a strange ritual with a mysterious gem. They were met by Malfurion Stormrage, who told them that the gem was none other than the Eye of Sargeras, and that the ritual was intended to break Northrend apart. The three fought off the undead and interrupted the spell, and Malfurion immediately began blaming his brother for Tyrande’s death. Kael’thas, surprised and a little confused by this, suggested that it was a bit premature to assume the woman dead and was silenced abruptly by Maiev – but not quickly enough. Malfurion, realizing Maiev had duped him, entangled the woman in vines and took off with Illidan to save Tyrande. Maiev freed herself and set off in pursuit of the two, leaving Kael’thas in the ruins of Dalaran.
Bad Blood and Bigotry
Kael’thas was to say the least mildly confused by all of this but he and his soldiers soon met up with Grand Marshal Garithos – a human general and Kael’s commanding officer. Garithos also harbored a poorly hidden disdain for all non-human races, and treated both Kael’thas and his troops with barely disguised contempt. The Grand Marshal told Kael’thas that a strike force was encroaching on Dalaran, and that he was going to head them off at the mountains – and when Kael’thas offered the assistance of his forces, he was abruptly turned down and told that he needed to instead head to the east, as a second force was believed to be approaching from that direction. Garithos ordered Kael’thas and his troops to this location, across the water, to repair the arcane observatories so that the Alliance forces could spot the approaching forces before they appeared at their doorstep.
Kael’thas and his small band of troops did as asked, but when they came to Lordamere Lake, they found the shipyard in ruins, with no route across the water. It was then that unexpected help arrived – a troop of naga led by a witch named Lady Vashj. Vashj offered her assistance, citing the ancestry that the naga and the elves shared. An ancestry that ran back to a time long, long ago – for the naga were the remnants of the Highborne that served Queen Azshara so many thousands of years before, prior to the Sundering. The Old Gods, who had their own purposes for rescuing them, transformed these Highborne into the naga as they were swept under the sea when the Sundering occurred. Prince Kael’thas, left with no other options, agreed to accept her assistance, and the naga gave him boats with which to cross the ocean, leaving soon after.
When Garithos returned from the front, he was told of the naga’s assitance, and angrily informed Kael’thas that consorting with the naga was akin to treason. He warned Kael’thas that he would not tolerate this kind of betrayal, and when the Alliance forces were called once more into battle, left the blood elves behind in Dalaran. An emissary was sent the next day by Garithos with further orders – the observatories had detected an undead force in the west, and Kael was to defeat them. However, Garithos wasn’t finished – he ordered the emissary to pull all foot soldiers, cavalry, and support teams to the front lines. Prince Kael’thas was left with only the few fellow elves he’d brought with him to defend the outposts – and there were simply not enough of them to hold back the undead forces. Once again, Lady Vashj arrived with her naga. Prince Kael’thas was wary of accepting her offer of help, but she insisted that without it, he and what remained of his brethren would surely fall. Kael’thas realized that she was right – the human general, in his gleeful display of disdain for the blood elves, had removed anything that would certainly help in this situation, and Kael’thas had little other choice. He accepted the assistance, and together Kael’thas and the naga defeated the undead.
After the battle, Prince Kael’thas told Vashj about the destruction of Quel’Thalas and the Sunwell, and the weakening of his people. Vashj explained to Kael that they were more alike than he’d thought – both the naga and the elves were addicted to magic. Without the Sunwell to give them a constant supply of magical energy, the entirely of the blood elves would eventual suffer fatal withdrawal. Kael was shocked, but heard the approach of the Grand Marshal and bid Vashj to flee before they were discovered. Lady Vashj and her naga fled quickly, but Garithos’s men had seen them escaping and promptly arrested Kael’thas and his people for treason. The Grand Marshal smugly told Kael’thas that he now had all the proof he needed to give him and the other elves the treatment they deserved, and imprisoned them all in the dungeons beneath Dalaran.
Kael’thas, enraged at the behavior of the General, and of the Alliance itself, had no way to escape- until, once again, Lady Vashj and her naga crept forth to rescue him. She promised him a safe escape through an inter-dimensional portal. On the other side, they would meet with her master – Illidan Stormrage, the former night elf that Maiev had been so desperate to capture. Illidan was a powerful creature imbued with demonic essence, and perhaps one of the most powerful creatures in existence, she told the beleaguered prince, and perhaps he could help the blood elves with their plight. Kael’thas, bitter at the treatment of his people and done with the Alliance, agreed – and he and his blood elves along with the naga escaped and fled through the portal, soon finding themselves standing on another world.