|Alliance :||Human||Night Elf||Dwarf||Gnome||Draenei|
|Horde :||Orc||Troll||Tauren||Forsaken||Blood Elf|
They look like Elves, but they're far too tall, and far more savage."
quote attributed to Grom Hellscream after his first contact (and battle) with the night elves.
The Kaldorei, meaning "children of the stars" in their native tongue Darnassian, have a long and fascinating history. The Night Elves, as they are now called in the Common language, come from across the great ocean from a land called Kalimdor. Once all three continents were one giant landmass -- it was the Night Elves who brought about their separation...
At the beginning of the world now known as Azeroth, the god-like Titans created a magical well, dubbed the Well of Eternity by the Kaldorei, or Night Elves. Over time, it had become the source of their power, wisdom, and immortality. This immense source of mystical energy shone like a beacon throughout the Twisting Nether, eventually claiming the attention of Sargeras, the Dark Titan, destroyer of worlds, and he sought to claim its power as his own.
Thus began the corruption of the Kaldorei. Posing as a venerable god, Sargeras managed to contact the most powerful of all the elves, Azshara. Sargeras convinced Azshara, and her most loyal assistant, Counselor Xavius, to open a gateway to Azeroth that this almighty "god" might come forth and bless their whole race (meanwhile eradicating all races deemed "unworthy"). In their insolence, those born to nobility, the Highborne, sought to use and control this source of unimaginable power and unspeakable evil; and for their pride, they were consumed by the magic they so eagerly wished to wield.
As the portal into the mortal world grew larger, Sargeras sent ever more numerous "emissaries" to aid with the portal and bring the word of their god from the beyond. These demons were members of Sargeras's immortal army, known as the Burning Legion, and they had put to the flame countless worlds throughout the void. As the portal grew close to its completion to allow the Dark Titan entry to Azeroth, a small band of Kaldorei led by a Druid named Malfurion Stormrage realized the threat posed to their entire world by this nameless evil and the now-crazed Azshara. Realizing his seemingly imminent victory could be threatened by these few elves, Sargeras commanded that his Legion make war upon Azeroth and destroy the unworthy, which included the entirety of the Kaldorei race.
As war raged across the young world, many protectors of the world emerged to aid the young Malfurion Stormrage in closing this portal to the Twisting Nether and the malovelence which now stood poised to destroy them all. The demi-god Cenarius, the ancients, and the powerful dragonflights clashed head on with the advancing legion. Having learned much about the power and beauty of Nature from his Shan'do Cenarius, Malfurion was able to disrupt the nearly completed portal spell and close his world off from the invincible Sargeras.
With so much power in flux, the Well of Eternity imploded in a magical cataclysm, sending untold numbers to their doom. Many Kaldorei were dragged to the bottom of the sea, only to be twisted and transformed into the sea serpents now known as the vile Naga. The catastrophe tore the continent apart into three sections, and left a permanent storm known as the Maelstrom where the well once stood.
With the majority of the Highborne dead, the Kaldorei turned away from their arcane legacy and began a new culture focusing on attunement with nature and their surroundings. The Night Elves, as they now called themselves, settled into their new culture, living as closely to the land and its inhabitants as possible. In time, they were granted a chance to continue as immortals when the World Tree, Nordrassil, was planted on Mount Hyjal to mask the second Well of Eternity, which was created by Malfurion's twin, Illidan Stormrage. Illidan had poured a vial of waters taken from the original well into a small lake atop the sacred mountain, and was subsequently imprisoned for his actions. Malfurion chose to seal his brother beneath the land for his crime of recreating the very thing that attracted the Burning Legion to the world in the first place.
The surviving Highborne tried to assimilate into the new druidic society, but over time they could not ignore the burning addiction to magic their whole race suffered from. In defiance of the law that put to death anyone who practiced the arcane, Dath'Remar Sunstrider and his followers unleased a terrible magical storm over Ashenvale. Malfurion Stormrage, unwilling to put so many of his brethren to death for the act, instead chose to exile the highborne from the Night Elf lands. The Highborne (now calling themselves High Elves), led by Dath'Remar, left Kalimdor, sailing across the sea to the other, newly-formed continent. Here, they established the nation of Quel'Thalas.
For untold ages after this, the Night Elf civilization flourished, forgotten by the millenia.
The Third War led to the rediscovery of the continent of Kalimdor and the Night Elf race. The Orcs, newly fled from Azeroth and seeking resources for their armies, began a lumber project against which the Night Elves took great offense. This led to many skirmishes between the Warsong Clan of the Orcs and the Night Elf Sentinel force and the slaying of Cenarius, an act that many Night Elves still have not forgiven. Eventually, the Orcs and the Night Elves suspended their enmity and fought alongside each other, along with the Humans and Dwarves of the Alliance, against the demonic forces of Archimonde, a colossal lieutenant of the Burning Legion.
The Night Elves are now trying to rebuild what was lost after the battle with Archimonde at Mount Hyjal. In destroying Nordrassil to prevent the return of the Burning Legion, the Night Elves made the ultimate sacrifice: that of their immortality. They have founded the city of Darnassus on the ill-planned and unblessed new World Tree of Teldrassil, and are trying to reclaim the forest’s inhabitants from the madness spread by demonic corruption of the Third War. In the absence of Shan'do Stormrage, the Night Elves are led by Tyrande Whisperwind and Arch-Druid Fandral Staghelm. Though they are now aware that there are allies outside the boundaries of their woods, one should not walk lightly in their lands. After all the sacrifices they have endured to keep their lands free of destruction or bondage, the Night Elves are not fond of strangers. Many have found arrows in their chest before they even knew danger lurked about them.
--WoWWiki (with modifications)
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