The Kaldorei and the Well of Eternity
- Author: Unknown
Ten thousand years before the Orcs and Humans clashed in their First War, the world of Azeroth cradled only one massive continent surrounded by the infinite, raging seas. That land mass, known as Kalimdor, was home to a number of disparate races and creatures, all vying for survival amongst the savage elements of the waking world. At the dark continent’s center was a mysterious lake of incandescent energies. The lake, which would later be called the Well of Eternity, was the true heart of the world’s magic and natural power. Drawing its energies from the infinite Great Dark beyond the world, the Well acted as a mystical fount, sending its potent energies out across the world to nourish life in all its wondrous forms.
In time, a primitive tribe of nocturnal humanoids cautiously made their way to the edges of the mesmerizing, enchanted lake. The feral, nomadic humanoids, drawn by the Well’s strange energies, built crude homes upon its tranquil shores. Over time, the Well’s cosmic power affected the strange tribe, making them strong, wise and virtually immortal. The tribe adopted the name Kaldorei, which meant "children of the stars" in their native tongue. To celebrate their budding society, they constructed great structures and temples around the lake’s periphery.
The Kaldorei, or Night Elves as they would later be known, worshipped the moon goddess, Elune, and believed that she slept within the Well’s shimmering depths during the daylight hours. The early Night Elf priests and seers studied the Well with an insatiable curiosity, driven to plumb its untold secrets and power. As their society grew, the Night Elves explored the breadth of Kalimdor and encountered its myriad denizens. The only creatures that gave them pause were the ancient and powerful Dragons. Though the great serpentine beasts were often reclusive, they did much to safeguard the known lands from potential threats. The Night Elves believed that the Dragons held themselves to be the protectors of the world, and that they and their secrets were best left alone.
In time, the Night Elves’ curiosity led them to meet and befriend a number of powerful entities, not the least of which was Cenarius, a mighty demi-god of the primordial forestlands. The great-hearted Cenarius grew fond of the inquisitive Night Elves and spent a great deal of time teaching them about the natural world. The tranquil Kaldorei developed a strong empathy for the living forests of Kalimdor and reveled in the harmonious balance of nature.
Yet, as the seemingly endless ages passed, the Night Elves’ civilization expanded both territorially and culturally. Their temples, roads, and dwelling places stretched across the breadth of the dark continent. Azshara, the Night Elves’ beautiful and gifted Queen, built an immense, wondrous palace on the Well’s shore that housed her favored servitors within its bejeweled halls. Her servitors, whom she called the Quel’dorei or "high-borne", doted on her every command and believed themselves to be greater than the rest of their lower-caste brethren. Though Queen Azshara was loved equally by all of her people, the high-borne were secretly hated by the jealous masses.
Sharing the priests’ curiosity towards the Well of Eternity, Azshara ordered the educated high-borne to plumb its secrets and reveal its true purpose in the world. The high-borne buried themselves in their work and studied the Well ceaselessly. In time they developed the ability to manipulate and control the Well’s cosmic energies. As their reckless experiments progressed, the high-borne found that they could use their newfound powers to either create or destroy at their leisure. The hapless high-borne had stumbled upon primitive magic and were now resolved to devote themselves to its mastery. Although they agreed that magic was inherently dangerous if handled irresponsibly, Azshara and her high-borne began to practice their spellcraft with reckless abandon. Cenarius and many of the wizened Night Elf scholars warned that only calamity would result from toying with the clearly volatile arts of magic. But, Azshara and her followers stubbornly continued to expand their burgeoning powers.
As their powers grew, a distinct change came over Azshara and the high-borne. The haughty, aloof upper class became increasingly callous and cruel towards their fellow Night Elves. A dark, brooding pall veiled Azshara’s once entrancing beauty. She began to withdraw from her loving subjects and refused to interact with any but her trusted high-borne priests.
A young, brazen scholar named Furion Stormrage, who had spent much of his time studying the Well’s effects, began to suspect that a terrible power was corrupting the high-borne and his beloved Queen. Though he could not conceive the evil that was to come, he knew that the Night Elves’ lives would soon be changed forever. . .
War of the Ancients
The high-borne’s reckless use of magic sent ripples of energy spiraling out from the Well of Eternity and into the Great Dark Beyond. The ripples of energy streamed out into the Twisting Nether and were felt by terrible alien minds. Sargeras, the Great Enemy of all life, the Ravager of Worlds, felt the potent ripples and was drawn to their distant point of origin. Spying the primordial world of Azeroth and sensing the limitless energies of the Well of Eternity, Sargeras was consumed by an insatiable hunger. The great, dark god of the Nameless Void resolved to destroy the fledgling world and claim its energies as his own. Sargeras gathered his vast, demonic army, known as the Burning Legion, and made his way towards the unsuspecting world of Azeroth. The Legion, comprised of a million screaming demons, all ripped from the far corners of the universe, roiled and burned at the thought of conquest. Sargeras’ lieutenants, Archimonde the Defiler and Mannoroth the Destructor, prepared their infernal minions to strike.
Queen Azshara, overwhelmed by the terrible ecstasy of her magic, fell victim to Sargeras’ undeniable power, and agreed to grant him entrance to her world. Even her high-borne servitors gave themselves over to magic’s inevitable corruption and began to worship Sargeras as their god. To show their allegiance to the Legion, the high-borne aided their Queen in opening a great, swirling portal within the depths of the Well of Eternity.
Once all his preparations had been made, Sargeras began his catastrophic invasion of Azeroth. The warrior-demons of the Burning Legion stormed into the world through the Well of Eternity and laid siege to the Night Elves’ sleeping cities. Led by Archimonde and Mannoroth, the Legion swarmed over the lands of Kalimdor leaving only ash and sorrow in its wake. The demon warlocks called down the searing Infernals that crashed, like hellish meteors, into the graceful spires of Kalimdor’s temples. The Doomguard, a band of burning, bloodletting killers, marched across Kalimdor’s fields slaughtering everyone in their path. Even packs of wild, demonic Felhounds ravaged the countryside, unopposed. Though the brave Kaldorei warriors rushed to defend their ancient homeland, they were forced to give ground, inch by inch, before the fury of the Legion’s onslaught.
The Sundering of the World
It fell to the young scholar, Malfurion Stormrage, to find help for his beleaguered people. Stormrage, whose own brother, Illidan, practiced the highborne’s magics, was incensed by the growing corruption amongst the upper class. Convincing Illidan to forsake his dangerous obsession, Malfurion set out to find Cenarius and muster a resistance force. The young, beautiful priestess, Tyrande, agreed to accompany the brothers in the name of Elune. Though both Malfurion and Illidan shared a secret love for the idealistic priestess, Tyrande’s heart belonged to Malfurion alone. Illidan resented his brother’s budding romance with Tyrande, but knew that his heartache was nothing compared to the pain of his magical addiction. . .
Illidan, who had grown dependent on magic’s empowering energies, struggled to keep control of himself and his overwhelming hunger to tap the Well’s energies once again. However, with Tyrande’s patient support, he was able to contain himself and help his brother find the reclusive demi-god, Cenarius. Cenarius, who dwelt within the sacred Moonglades of the distant Mount Hyjal, agreed to help the Night Elves by finding the ancient dragons and enlisting their aid. The Dragons, led by the great, red leviathan, Alexstrasza, agreed to send their mighty flights to engage the demons and their infernal masters.
Cenarius, calling on the spirits of the enchanted forests, rallied an army of ancient tree-men and led them against the Legion in a daring ground assault. As the Night Elves’ allies converged upon Azshara’s temple and the Well of Eternity, all-out warfare erupted. Despite the strength of their newfound allies, Furion and his colleagues realized that the Legion could not be defeated by martial strength alone.
As the titanic battle raged around Azshara’s capital city, the delusional Queen waited in anticipation for Sargeras’ arrival. The Lord of the Legion was preparing to pass through the Well of Eternity and enter the ravaged world. As his impossibly huge shadow drew ever closer to the Well’s raging surface, Azshara gathered the most powerful of her high-borne followers. Only by linking their magics together, in one focused spell, would they be able to create a gateway large enough for Sargeras to enter.
Furion, convinced that the Well of Eternity was the demons’ umbilical link to the physical world, insisted that it should be destroyed. His companions, knowing that the Well was the source of their immortality and powers, were shocked by the rash notion. Yet Tyrande, seeing the wisdom of Furion’s theory, convinced Cenarius and their Dragon comrades to storm Azshara’s temple and find a way to shut the Well down for good.
Knowing that the Well’s destruction would prevent him from ever wielding magic again, Illidan selfishly abandoned the group and set out to warn the high-borne of Furion’s plan. Due to the madness brought on by his addiction and the stinging resentment towards his brother’s affair with Tyrande, Illidan felt no remorse at betraying Furion and siding with Azshara and her ilk. Above all else, Illidan vowed to protect the Well’s power by any means necessary.
Heartbroken by his brother’s departure, Furion led his companions into the heart of Azshara’s temple. Yet, as they stormed into the main audience chamber, they found the high-borne in the midst of their final dark incantation. The raging communal spell created an unstable vortex of power within the Well’s raging depths. As Sargeras’ ominous shadow drew ever closer to the surface, Furion and his allies rushed to attack.
Azshara, having received Illidan’s warning, was more than prepared for them. Nearly all of Furion’s followers fell before the mad Queen’s raging powers. Tyrande, attempting to attack Azshara from behind, was caught off guard by the Queen’s high-borne guardsmen. Though she vanquished the guardsmen, Tyrande suffered grievous wounds at their hands. At seeing his love fall, Furion went into a murderous rage and resolved to end Azshara’s life.
As the battle raged inside and outside of the temple, Illidan appeared from the shadows near the shores of the great Well. Producing a set of specially crafted vials, Illidan knelt and filled each with the Well’s shimmering waters. Convinced that the demons would crush the Night Elves’ civilization, he planned to steal the sacred waters and keep their energies for himself.
The ensuing battle between Furion and Azshara threw the high-borne’s carefully crafted spellwork into chaos. The unstable vortex within the Well’s depths finally exploded and ignited a catastrophic chain of events that would sunder the world forever. The massive explosion rocked the temple to its foundations and sent massive quakes ripping through the tortured earth. As the horrific battle between the Legion and the Night Elves’ allies raged around and above the ruined capital city, the surging Well of Eternity buckled in upon itself and collapsed.
The resultant catastrophic explosion shattered the earth and blotted out the skies. . .
Mount Hyjal and Illidan's Gift
As the aftershocks from the Well’s implosion rattled the bones of the world, the seas rushed in to fill the gaping wound left in the earth. Nearly eighty percent of Kalimdor’s landmass had been blasted apart, leaving only a handful of separate continents surrounding the new, raging sea. At the center of the new sea, where the Well of Eternity once stood, was a tumultuous storm of tidal fury and chaotic energies. This terrible scar, known as the Maelstrom, would never cease its furious spinning. It would remain a constant reminder of the terrible catastrophe and the utopian era that had been lost forever. . .
The few Night Elves that survived the horrific explosion rallied together on crudely made rafts and slowly made their way to the only landmass in sight. Somehow, by the graces of Elune, Furion, Tyrande and Cenarius had survived the Great Sundering. The weary heroes agreed to lead their fellow survivors and establish a new home for their people. As they journeyed in silence, they surveyed the wreckage of their world and realized that their passions had wrought the destruction all around them. Though Sargeras and his Legion had been ripped from the world by the Well’s destruction, Furion and his companions were left to ponder the terrible cost of victory.
It was clear that Azshara and her elite high-borne followers had been smashed to the bottom of the raging sea. Still, there were many high-borne amongst the survivors who made their way to the shores of the new land. Though Furion mistrusted the high-bornes’ motivations, he was satisfied that they could cause no real mischief without the Well’s energies.
As the weary mass of Night Elves landed upon the shores of the new land, they found that the holy mountain, Hyjal, had survived the catastrophe. Seeking to establish a new home for themselves, Furion and the Night Elves climbed the slopes of Hyjal and reached its windswept summit. As they descended into the wooded bowl, nestled between the mountain’s enormous peaks, they found a small, tranquil lake. To their horror, they found that the lake’s waters had been fouled – by magic.
Illidan, having survived the Sundering as well, had reached Hyjal summit long before Furion and the Night Elves. In his mad bid to maintain the flows of magic in the world, Illidan had poured his vials, containing the precious waters from the Well of Eternity, into the mountain lake. The Well’s potent energies quickly ignited and coalesced into a new Well of Eternity. The exultant Illidan, believing that the new Well was a gift to future generations, was shocked when Furion hunted him down. Furion explained to his brother that magic was innately chaotic and that its use would inevitably lead to widespread corruption and strife. Still, Illidan refused to relinquish his magical powers.
Knowing full well where Illidan’s treacherous schemes would eventually lead, Furion decided to deal with his power-crazed brother once and for all. With Cenarius’ help, Furion sealed Illidan within a vast underground chamber – to remain chained and powerless until the end of time. Concerned that destroying the new Well might bring about an even greater catastrophe, the Night Elves resolved to leave it be. However, Furion declared that they would never practice the arts of magic again. Under Cenarius’ watchful eye, they began to study the ancient arts of druidism that would enable them to heal the ravaged earth and re-grow their beloved forests at the base of Mount Hyjal.
The World Tree and the Emerald Dream
For many years, the Night Elves worked tirelessly to rebuild what they could of their ancient homeland. Leaving their broken temples and roads to be overgrown, they constructed their new homes amidst the verdant trees and shadowed hills at Hyjal’s base. In time, the Dragons that had survived the great Sundering came forth from their secret abodes.
Alexstrasza the red, Ysera the green, and Nozdormu the bronze descended upon the druids’ tranquil glades and surveyed the fruits of the Night Elves’ labors. Furion, who had become an arch-druid of immense power, greeted the mighty Dragons and told them about the creation of the new Well of Eternity. The great Dragons were alarmed to hear the dark news and speculated that as long as the Well remained, the Legion might one day return and assault the world once again.
Furion and the three Dragons made a pact to keep the Well safe and ensure that the agents of the Burning Legion would never find their way back into the world.
Alexstrasza, the Life-Giver, placed a single, enchanted acorn within the heart of the Well of Eternity. The acorn, activated by the potent, magical waters, sprung to life as a colossal tree. The mighty tree’s roots grew from the Well’s waters and its verdant canopy seemed to scrape the roof of the sky. The immense tree would be an everlasting symbol of the Night Elves’ bond with nature, and its life-giving energies would extend out to heal the rest of the world over time. The Night Elves named their World Tree, Nordrassil, which meant “crown of the heavens” in their native tongue.
Nozdormu, the Timeless, placed an enchantment upon the World Tree that ensured that as long as the colossal tree stood, the Night Elves would never age or fall prey to sickness or disease.
Ysera, the Dreamer, also placed an enchantment upon the World Tree by linking it to her own realm, the ethereal dimension known as the Emerald Dream. The Emerald Dream, a vast, ever-changing spirit world, existed outside the boundaries of the physical world. From the Dream, Ysera regulated the ebb and flow of nature and the evolutionary path of the world itself. The Night Elf druids, including Furion himself, were bound to the Dream through the World Tree. As part of the mystical pact, the druids agreed to sleep for centuries at a time so that their spirits could roam the infinite paths of Ysera’s Dreamways. Though the druids were wary of losing so many years of their lives to hibernation, they selflessly agreed to uphold their bargain with Ysera.
Exile of the High Elves
As the centuries passed, the Night Elves’ new society grew strong and expanded throughout the budding forest that they came to call Ashenvale. Many of the creatures and species that were abundant before the Great Sundering, such as furbolgs and quillboars, reappeared and flourished in the land. Under the druids’ benevolent leadership, the Night Elves enjoyed an era of unprecedented peace and tranquility under the stars.
However, many of the original high-borne survivors grew restless. Like Illidan before them, they fell victim to the withdrawal that came from the loss of their coveted magics. They were tempted, once again, to tap the energies of the Well of Eternity and exult in their magical practices. Dath’Remar, the brash, outspoken leader of the high-borne, began to mock the druids publicly – calling them cowards for refusing to wield the magic that was theirs by right. Furion and the druids chafed of Dath’Remar’s arguments and warned the high-borne that any use of magic would be punishable by death. In their insolence, Dath’Remar and his followers unleashed a terrible magical storm upon Ashenvale in an ill-fated attempt to convince the druids to rescind their law.
The druids, unable to bring themselves to slaughter so many of their kin, decided to exile the reckless high-borne from their lands. Dath’Remar and his followers, glad to be rid of their conservative cousins at last, boarded a number of specially crafted ships and set sail upon the seas. Though none of them knew what awaited them beyond the waters of the raging Maelstrom, they were eager to establish their own homeland where they could practice their coveted magics with impunity. The high-borne, or ‘Quel’dorei’ as Azshara had named them in ages past, would eventually set shore upon the eastern land men would call Lordaeron. They planned to build their own magical kingdom - Quel’Thalas - and reject the Night Elves’ precepts of moon worship and nocturnal activity. Forever after, they would be known only as the "High Elves."
The Sentinels and the Long Vigil
With the departure of their wayward cousins, the Night Elves turned their attention back to the safekeeping of their enchanted homeland. The druids, sensing their time of hibernation nearing once again, prepared to sleep and leave their loved ones and families behind. Tyrande, who had become the First priestess of Elune, asked her love, Furion, not to leave her for Ysera’s Emerald Dream. But, Furion, honor bound to enter the changing Dreamways, bid the priestess good-bye and swore that they would never be apart so long as they held true to their love.
Tyrande, left alone to protect Kalimdor from the dangers of the new world, assembled a powerful fighting force from amongst her Night Elf sisters. The fearless, highly trained warrior women who pledged themselves to Kalimdor’s defense became known as the Sentinels. Though they preferred to patrol the shadowy forests of Ashenvale alone, they had many allies upon which they could call in times of urgency.
The demigod, Cenarius, remained nearby in the Moonglades of Mount Hyjal. His sons, known as the Keepers of the Grove, kept close watch on the Night Elves’ land and regularly helped the Sentinels maintain peace in the land. Even Cenarius’ shy daughters, the Dryads, appeared in the open with increasing frequency.
Though the task of policing Ashenvale kept her busy, Tyrande felt lost and alone without Furion at her side. As the long centuries passed while the druids slept, her fears of a second demonic invasion grew more palpable. She could not shake the unnerving feeling that perhaps the Burning Legion was still out there, beyond the Great Dark of the sky plotting its revenge upon the Night Elves and the world of Azeroth.