The history of the Blood Elves in World of Warcraft is somewhat convoluted, as the little buggers originally started out as…well, as kaldorei. That’s right, night elves and blood elves were once the same thing. Physically, they look very different – and from a societal standpoint, they’re incredibly different as well. So why are the blood elves now a part of the Horde, while night elves are firmly on the Alliance’s side? What happened to make the Blood Elves a bunch of bad guys? And just how do they get such beautiful hair without a lot of product buildup? Some of these questions to be answered this week!
The Sin’dorei as they are currently called weren’t always the blonde, bright-eyed, egomaniacal self obsessed little buggers that you see in World of Warcraft today. Sin’dorei is a name they gave themselves after events in their history warranted the name change. Originally, they were called the Quel’dorei, or high elves – children of noble birth. In order to properly understand where these elves came from, one should probably take a look at the Night Elf History segments from a few weeks ago: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. I will be picking up with elf history shortly after the timeline presented in the night elf history segment – after the Sundering that split the world into the continents we know today.
Don’t Bleach, Use Chamomile Tea For Natural, Sun-Kissed Highlights
The kaldorei had been firmly split into two different factions – there were the night elves, and the quel’dorei. While the night elves worshipped Elune and followed a largely druidic, nature-based path, the Quel’dorei had become masters of managing the arcane energies and magic of the Well of Eternity – a mastery that had proven disastrous in the War of the Ancients. There was another difference between the two factions however. As the night elves never came out during the day, and usually did their work and worship by night, they had darkened skin and hair, brilliant hues of purple, blue and green, and their eyes retained a normal silver glow – gold in the cases of those that showed druidic potential. The quel’dorei however found it better to work under the light of the sun, and found their skin and their hair fading as well into a lighter version of the night elves dark colors.
Queen Azshara, oddly enough, was a night elf – while she used the Well’s energies quite possibly better than anyone else, she also slept during the day, emerging only during night, and thus retained her dark-skinned ‘night elf’ look. Her eyes also remained gold, the mark of a great destiny at that time. This indicates that it wasn’t just the Well usage that caused the physical changes; it was a combination of both the usage and living in the sun. Please note that the kaldorei by this time had been living by that well for several thousand years, so the physical change itself was more than likely a gradual process spanning a lot of time, rather than an immediate ‘wake up in the morning and you’re a blonde’ moment.
Keep in mind that all elves, night elves and quel’dorei both, were tied to the Well of Eternity. It was the thing that kept them immortal, and living and being in its presence for so long had imbued both factions with the energies of the Well. When the energies of the Well were cut off, everyone felt the effects, including the night elves – it’s just that the quel’dorei were more affected than their night elf cousins, because they had actually worked with the Well, rather than just living next to it. The largest conflict between the two factions was the Well itself – once destroyed, the night elves were convinced that it and the arcane magic it possessed were directly responsible for what had occurred, while the quel’dorei were of the opinion that it wasn’t the Well or the arcane, it was the usage of both that had been corrupted. The quel’dorei firmly believed that with the right balance in place, the arcane could be mastered, and the night elves simply didn’t want anything to do with the arcane at all. But there was another issue at hand for the quel’dorei, one that shaped the very core of who they were, and who they were to become.
Rehab Is For Quitters
The quel’dorei had been using the Well and the magic of the arcane for thousands of years – it was something that they simply depended on to survive. When that source was abruptly cut off, the quel’dorei felt it much more strongly than the night elves – to the quel’dorei, the Well wasn’t simply something that was there making them immortal, it was a way of life, and the thought of surviving without it was incomprehensible. Warcraft lore speaks often of the ‘addiction’ that the quel’dorei had to arcane magic – I sometimes wonder if it’s really an addiction so much as something that they need to continue existing.
Wild speculation time – the addiction to the Well that the quel’dorei possess isn’t entirely a mental thing, it’s physical. The city of Zin’Azshari that the quel’dorei called home was built right up on the edge of the Well of Eternity, bordered it pretty much on all sides. The quel’dorei were concentrated mostly in the center of this, while the night elves lived farther away from it. The Well itself teemed with pure energy pulled from the Great Dark Beyond, and the quel’dorei breathed the air that the Well evaporated into at its strongest point, day after day, for thousands of years. It’s not too far-fetched to assume that the power that existed in the Well almost became a physical part of those quel’dorei, forming an almost cellular bond with these creatures. Think of it as extra insulation for lungs – with the insulation, their breathing was easier, moving was easier, it was possible to physically and mentally do much more than they were previously capable of. When the Well exploded, all of a sudden that insulation was gone, and physically they were unable to do the majority of the things that they’d been doing day to day for the length of their impossibly long lives. So the quel’dorei went into a ‘withdrawal’ of sorts, leaving them weak, largely helpless, and mentally craving that which would make them strong again.
The leader of the quel’dorei who survived the Sundering was Dath’Remar, a quel’dorei who was originally part of the Highborne that stayed and served Queen Azshara prior to the Sundering. Dath’Remar was one of ‘those guys’, but he was smarter than the rest of them – the Highborne’s affiliation and allegiance with the Burning Legion and Sargeras bothered him greatly, and he sought out other like-minded Highborne, gaining their allegiance. These rogue Highborne worked in secret to slow the work of Azshara’s chosen ones in making the portal between Sargeras’s world and Azeroth a reality.
After the Sundering, Dath’Remar was present at the formation of the new Well of Eternity – the one Illidan made, that was expressly forbidden. He was also present for the forming of the new World Tree, Nordrassil – and he knew that his people, the quel’dorei, would have to make amends with the night elves if they ever hoped to revive their civilization as it existed pre-Sundering. Dath’Remar wasn’t a bad sort, he just wanted things back the way they were – and he wanted to resume using the arcane arts and magic that had imbued his people for so long.
The night elves on the other hand had a different plan altogether. As the night elves weren’t that closely tied to the Well of Eternity, they picked up the arts of druidism fully, and with these arts continued to delve into magic, natural magic. The night elves viewed the Sundering as the kaldorei’s greatest folly – and they placed the blame squarely on the arcane arts of the quel’dorei, as it was the quel’dorei that had been working on these portals to the Burning Legion and essentially, in the night elves opinion, mucking about with things that they had no business mucking about with. The night elves didn’t need the Well to survive – why should anyone need it? And why should they allow anyone to start practicing these arts again, and cause yet another Sundering to come to pass? And so the night elves forbid the use of arcane magic entirely, on penalty of death.
Needless to say, the quel’dorei weren’t very happy about this. The magic that had imbued them and made them what they were was simply gone now, and they needed it to survive in the manner that they were accustomed to surviving. Dath’Remar tried to persuade the night elves that their forbidding of the arcane arts was too severe of a punishment, but the night elves wouldn’t agree.
The quel’dorei were convinced that it wasn’t the arcane arts that was the issue – it was the matter of corruption, of letting the arcane get to them and twist them that was the problem. Simply forbidding the arcane wasn’t a solution; it was cowardice – what the quel’dorei felt they should be doing was learning to use the arcane properly. Years passed, around seven thousand of them, give or take a few, and the quel’dorei grew more and more desperate. Here they were, immortal, and doomed to a weak half-life, a life in which they were forbidden to do that which came naturally to them.
Dath’Remar had had enough. He took his followers, the quel’dorei, the leftover Highborne, and they banded together to unleash a magical storm across Ashenvale forest. Perhaps he wished to catch the night elves attention – perhaps he hoped that the night elves would put his people to death, as it seemed a better alternative than living the shell of the life they’d been forced to live for seven thousand years. Regardless, the night elves couldn’t bring themselves to kill so many of their kin, and so they chose a different path for the quel’dorei – they banished them from Kalimdor altogether.
The night elves, for whatever reason, seem to enjoy this ‘let’s just shove everything that’s unpleasant under the rug or across the ocean so we don’t have to look or think about it anymore’ tactic. First it’s arcane magic, then it’s the quel’dorei themselves. Interesting.
Settlements and the Founding of the High Kingdom
So Dath’Remar led his people over the oceans, on ships that were specially constructed for the long journey, glad to be rid of his night elf cousins once and for all. The ships landed in Tirisfal Glades, and Dath’Remar took the name Sunstrider for himself, meaning ‘he who walks in the day’, to suit the changes that were taking place among the quel’dorei. The quel’dorei abandoned the concepts of Elune and nocturnal living entirely, embracing the sun instead, and the quel’dorei formed a settlement in Tirisfal for a time, becoming ‘high elves’ in full.
They left Tirisfal after a time – there are references to some elves being driven insane, and the belief that something evil slept beneath the earth. This indicates Tirisfal as a possible location for one of the Old Gods that was locked beneath the earth by the Titans at the beginning of time. Around this time, the quel’dorei also became completely severed from the Well of Eternity, or what remained of it under Nordrassil, becoming vulnerable to the elements and losing their immortality entirely. They weakened further, gradually becoming the pink-skinned, fair-haired, shorter elves that we are familiar with today.
These high elves discovered the primitive humans, but ignored them, moving on and finding a much larger menace – the forest trolls of Zul’Aman, a branch of what was left of the great Amani Empire. The elves and trolls fought relentlessly, and the high elves finally discovered a land in the northern forests that suited them and built the kingdom of Quel’Thalas, ‘high kingdom’ or ‘high home’. They vowed that their beloved city would soon become an empire that would dwarf that of their weaker cousins. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that Quel’Thalas was built upon the ruins of an ancient troll city that the Amani still viewed as sacred – and the Amani, already angry with the elves encroachment upon their lands, promptly began attacking the elven settlements.
The high elves fought back and won; utilizing what little magic they had left over from the Well of Eternity. Some elves, still wary of possible infiltration by the Burning Legion that had twisted their brethren and caused the Sundering, decided to create a protective barrier around the city to allow them to continue using their magic without attracting the attention of the Burning Legion. They placed a series of runestones around the borders of their lands.
The Sunwell and the First Troll War
Quel’Thalas flourished, becoming a shining monument to the progress of the high elves – while the high elves no longer held the same reverence for nature as their cousins to the west, they still appreciated it, and went to great lengths to incorporate their surroundings into their architecture. They placed an enchantment on the surrounding forests, so that it would always appear to be springtime, bright gold, yellow and red. And the high elves created a new well for themselves, to once more imbue their people with the power that they’d lost so long ago: the Sunwell.
The Sunwell was created at a convergence of powerful ley energies in Quel’Thalas by high elves that used a vial of water stolen from the original Well of Eternity. A mini Well of Eternity, the Sunwell’s potent magic fed and strengthened all the high elves on Azeroth. While it was weaker than the original Well, it was strong enough for the high elves to practice the magic they’d missed for so long. For four thousand years, the high elves lived in Quel’Thalas, bathed by the light of the Sunwell, the runestones keeping the Burning Legion ignorant of their secret magic practices, and also serving to keep the superstitious troll war parties away as well. During this time Dath’Remar retired from leadership, passing the mantle on to another elf named Anasterian Sunstrider. It’s not really mentioned in lore if this is Dath’Remar’s son, or someone who simply took up the mantle of Sunstrider because it was an appropriate name for a leader.
The Amani, however, were far smarter than the high elves anticipated. They hid in the forests, biding their time and increasing their numbers until the moment was right. And when they had enough warriors to fight, they struck. A mighty troll army charged out from the shadowy forests, laying siege to Quel’Thalas with the intent of destroying it for good. The high elves fought back, but this time the trolls had the upper hand – their numbers were simply too great for the high elves to continue fighting. And so, in desperation, the high elves turned to the only neighbors they had – those primitive humans to the south that they’d encountered after leaving Tirisfal.
Those ‘primitive humans’ had banded together and formed the human empire of Arathor in the meantime, led by a man named Thoradin who was also dealing with the troll’s attacks upon his people. While Thoradin, being a sensible sort, was distrustful of magic in general, he agreed to send aid to the elves – because he realized that if Quel’Thalas fell, the trolls would turn their attentions fully on Arathor. In exchange for the alliance, the high elves offered to teach the humans magic, how to practice and control it for their own purposes. The alliance was struck, the tide soon turned in the favor of the two empires, and the troll’s empire was shattered – they pushed the Amani tribes away, forever breaking the legions of Zul’Aman. Anasterian, grateful for the assistance, pledged an oath of loyalty and friendship to Thoradin and his bloodline, and the high elves went back to quietly puttering away with the Sunwell.
The Second War and the Alliance
Nearly three thousand years after the defeat of the troll empire, the high elves found themselves with another problem. King Terenas, leader of the human kingdom of Lordaeron, sent a missive to Anasterian. It seemed that a human kingdom had fallen to a new threat, a orcish horde that the high elves had neither heard of nor concerned themselves with overly. But there was a catch – a man named Anduin Lothar, who was a direct descendant of Thoradin and the last of the Arathi bloodline, was currently leading the kingdom that had fallen. And so Anasterian reluctantly agreed to offer a token amount of assistance, as his oath required him to do so.
This reluctance soon changed when the high elves realized that these orcs that were battling the humans had forged an alliance with the Amani trolls. The two forces promptly began to encroach on Quel’Thalas. Enraged, Anasterian threw his full support behind the war, joining the Alliance and mobilizing his armies to battle the Horde. Unfortunately, a good majority of Eversong Woods, the outlying forests of Quel’Thalas, was burned during the war. While the Alliance was victorious over the Horde, Anasterian pulled his support and withdrew from the Alliance, citing the human’s poor leadership and blaming the burning of the forests on that.
The high elves withdrew once more into their kingdom, with few exceptions. Some elven priests and sorceresses that left to practice and teach their magics to others, and one other very, very important figure also left Quel’thalas at this time; Anasterian’s son and heir, a man who had a destiny spanning further than any other high elf in history and a member of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran, Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider.
There is a lot more to cover, including how the blood elves got their name, what happened to the Sunwell, and just what’s so important about that Prince. Stay tuned tomorrow for Blood Elf History Part Two: Say Illidan, You’re Looking Awfully…Uh…Horny?