The Titans and the Shaping of the Universe
No one knows exactly how the universe began. Some theorize that a catastrophic cosmic explosion sent the infinite worlds spinning out into the vastness of the Great Dark - worlds that would one day bear life forms of wondrous and terrible diversity. Others believe that the universe was created as a whole by a single all-powerful entity. Though the exact origins of the chaotic universe remain uncertain, it is clear that a race of powerful beings arose to bring stability to the various worlds and ensure a safe future for the beings that would follow in their footsteps.
The Titans, colossal, metallic-skinned gods from the far reaches of the cosmos, explored the newborn universe and set to work on the worlds they encountered. They shaped the worlds by raising mighty mountains and dredging out vast seas. They breathed skies and raging atmospheres into being. It was all part of their unfathomable, far-sighted plan to create order out of chaos. They even empowered primitive races to tend to their works and maintain the integrity of their respective worlds.
Ruled by an elite sect known as the Pantheon, the Titans brought order to a hundred million worlds scattered throughout the Great Dark Beyond during the first ages of creation. The benevolent Pantheon, which sought to safeguard these structured worlds, was ever vigilant against the threat of attack from the vile extra-dimensional entities of the Twisting Nether. The Nether, an ethereal dimension of chaotic magics that connected the myriad worlds of the universe, was home to an infinite number of malefic, demonic beings who sought only to destroy life and devour the energies of the living universe. Unable to conceive of evil or wickedness in any form, the Titans struggled to find a way to end the demons' constant threat.
Sargeras and the Betrayal
Over time, demonic entities made their way into the Titans' worlds from the Twisting Nether, and the Pantheon elected its greatest warrior, Sargeras, to act as its first line of defense. A noble giant of molten bronze, Sargeras carried out his duties for countless millennia, seeking out and destroying these demons wherever he could find them. Over the eons, Sargeras encountered two powerful demonic races, both of which were bent on gaining power and dominance over the physical universe.
The eredar, an insidious race of devilish sorcerers, used their warlock magics to invade and enslave a number of worlds. The indigenous races of those worlds were mutated by the eredar's malevolent powers and turned into demons themselves. Though Sargeras' nearly limitless powers were more than enough to defeat the vile eredar, he was greatly troubled by the creatures' corruption and all-consuming evil. Incapable of fathoming such depravity, the great Titan began to slip into a brooding depression. Despite his growing unease, Sargeras rid the universe of the warlocks by trapping them within a corner of the Twisting Nether.
While his confusion and misery deepened, Sargeras was forced to contend with another group intent on disrupting the Titans' order: the Nathrezim. This dark race of vampiric demons (also known as dreadlords) conquered a number of populated worlds by possessing their inhabitants and turning them to the shadow. The nefarious, scheming dreadlords turned whole nations against one another by manipulating them into unthinking hatred and mistrust. Sargeras defeated the Nathrezim easily, but their corruption affected him deeply.
As doubt and despair overwhelmed Sargeras' senses, he lost all faith not only in his mission, but also in the Titans' vision of an ordered universe. Eventually he came to believe that the concept of order itself was folly, and that chaos and depravity were the only absolutes within the dark, lonely universe. His fellow Titans tried to persuade him of his error and calm his raging emotions, but he disregarded their more optimistic beliefs as self-serving delusions. Storming from their ranks forever, Sargeras set out to find his own place in the universe. Although the Pantheon was sorrowful at his departure, the Titans could never have predicted just how far their lost brother would go.
By the time Sargeras' madness had consumed the last vestiges of his valiant spirit, he believed that the Titans themselves were responsible for creation's failure. Deciding, at last, to undo their works throughout the universe, he resolved to form an unstoppable army that would set the physical universe aflame.
Even Sargeras' titanic form became distorted from the corruption that plagued his once-noble heart. His eyes, hair, and beard erupted in fire, and his metallic bronze skin split open to reveal an endless furnace of blistering hate.
In his fury, Sargeras shattered the prisons of the eredar and the Nathrezim and set the loathsome demons free. These cunning creatures bowed before the dark Titan's vast rage and offered to serve him in whatever malicious ways they could. From the ranks of the powerful Eredar, Sargeras picked two champions to command his demonic army of destruction. Kil'jaeden the Deceiver was chosen to seek out the darkest races in the universe and recruit them into Sargeras' ranks. The second champion, Archimonde the Defiler, was chosen to lead Sargeras' vast armies into battle against any who might resist the Titan's will.
Kil'jaeden's first move was to enslave the vampiric dreadlords under his terrible power. The dreadlords served as his personal agents throughout the universe, and they took pleasure in locating primitive races for their master to corrupt and bring into the fold. First amongst the dreadlords was Tichondrius the Darkener. Tichondrius served Kil'jaeden as the perfect soldier and agreed to bring Sargeras' burning will to all the dark corners of the universe.
The mighty Archimonde also empowered agents of his own. Calling upon the malefic pit lords and their barbarous leader, Mannoroth the Destructor, Archimonde hoped to establish a fighting elite that would scour creation of all life.
Once Sargeras saw that his armies were amassed and ready to follow his every command, he launched his raging forces into the vastness of the Great Dark. He referred to his growing army as the Burning Legion. To this date, it is still unclear how many worlds they consumed and burned on their unholy Burning Crusade across the universe.
The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth
Unaware of Sargeras' mission to undo their countless works, the Titans continued to move from world to world, shaping and ordering each planet as they saw fit. Along their journey they happened upon a small world that its inhabitants would later name Azeroth. As the Titans made their way across the primordial landscape, they encountered a number of hostile elemental beings. These elementals, who worshipped a race of unfathomably evil beings known only as the Old Gods, vowed to drive the Titans back and keep their world inviolate from the invaders' metallic touch.
The Pantheon, disturbed by the Old Gods' penchant for evil, waged war upon the elementals and their dark masters. The Old Gods' armies were led by the most powerful elemental lieutenants: Ragnaros the Firelord, Therazane the Stonemother, Al'Akir the Windlord, and Neptulon the Tidehunter. Their chaotic forces raged across the face of the world and clashed with the colossal Titans. Though the elementals were powerful beyond mortal comprehension, their combined forces could not stop the mighty Titans. One by one, the elemental lords fell, and their forces dispersed.
The Pantheon shattered the Old Gods' citadels and chained the five evil gods far beneath the surface of the world. Without the Old Gods' power to keep their raging spirits bound to the physical world, the elementals were banished to an abyssal plane, where they would contend with one another for all eternity. With the elementals' departure, nature calmed, and the world settled into a peaceful harmony. The Titans saw that the threat was contained and set to work.
The Titans empowered a number of races to help them fashion the world. To help them carve out the fathomless caverns beneath the earth, the Titans created the dwarf-like earthen from magical, living stone. To help them dredge out the seas and lift the land from the sea floor, the Titans created the immense but gentle sea giants. For many ages the Titans moved and shaped the earth, until at last there remained one perfect continent. At the continent's center, the Titans crafted a lake of scintillating energies. The lake, which they named the Well of Eternity, was to be the fount of life for the world. Its potent energies would nurture the bones of the world and empower life to take root in the land's rich soil. Over time, plants, trees, monsters, and creatures of every kind began to thrive on the primordial continent. As twilight fell on the final day of their labors, the Titans named the continent Kalimdor: "land of eternal starlight".
Charge of the Dragonflights
Satisfied that the small world had been ordered and that their work was done, the Titans prepared to leave Azeroth. However, before they departed, they charged the greatest species of the world with the task of watching over Kalimdor, lest any force should threaten its perfect tranquility. In that age, there were many dragonflights. Yet there were five flights that held dominion over their brethren. It was these five flights that the Titans chose to shepherd the budding world. The greatest members of the Pantheon imbued a portion of their power upon each of the flights' leaders. These majestic dragons (as listed below) became known as the Great Aspects, or the Dragon Aspects.
Aman'Thul, the Highfather of the Pantheon, bestowed a portion of his cosmic power upon the massive bronze dragon, Nozdormu. The Highfather empowered Nozdormu to guard time itself and police the ever-spinning pathways of fate and destiny. The stoic, honorable Nozdormu became known as the Timeless One.
Eonar, the Titan patron of all life, gave a portion of her power to the red leviathan, Alexstrasza. Ever after, Alexstrasza would be known as the Life-Binder, and she would work to safeguard all living creatures within the world. Due to her supreme wisdom and limitless compassion for all living things, Alexstrasza was crowned the Dragonqueen and given dominion over her kind.
Eonar also blessed Alexstrasza's younger sister, the lithe green dragon Ysera, with a portion of nature's influence. Ysera fell into an eternal trance, bound to the waking Dream of Creation. Known as the Dreamer, she would watch over the growing wilds of the world from her verdant realm, the Emerald Dream.
Norgannon, the Titan lore keeper and master-magician, granted the blue dragon, Malygos, a portion of his vast power. From then on, Malygos would be known as the Spell-Weaver, the guardian of magic and hidden arcanum.
Khaz'goroth, the Titan shaper and forger of the world, bestowed some of his vast power upon the mighty black wyrm, Neltharion. The great-hearted Neltharion, known afterwards as the Earth-Warder, was given dominion over the earth and the deep places of the world. He embodied the strength of the world and served as Alexstrasza's greatest supporter.
Thus empowered, the Five Aspects were charged with the world's defense in the Titans' absence. With the dragons prepared to safeguard their creation, the Titans left Azeroth behind forever. Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before Sargeras learned of the newborn world's existence....
The Waking World and the Well of Eternity
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 sea. That landmass, 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 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 other denizens. The only creatures that gave them pause were the ancient and powerful dragons. The great serpentine beasts were often reclusive, but they did much to safeguard the known lands from potential threats. The night elves discovered that the dragons held themselves to be the protectors of the world - and agreed 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 demigod of the primordial forestlands. The greathearted 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.
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 "Highborne", doted on her every command and believed themselves to be greater than the rest of their brethren. Though Queen Azshara was loved equally by all of her people, the Highborne were secretly envied and disliked by the rest of the night elves.
Sharing the priests' curiosity towards the Well of Eternity, Azshara ordered the Highborne to plumb its secrets and reveal its true purpose in the world. The Highborne 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 experiments progressed, the Highborne found that they could use their newfound powers to either create or destroy at their leisure. The heedless Highborne 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 Highborne began to practice their spellcraft with reckless abandon. Cenarius and many wizened night elf scholars warned that only calamity would result from toying with the clearly volatile arts of magic. Even so, Azshara and her followers stubbornly continued to expand their burgeoning powers.
As their powers grew, a distinct change came over Azshara and the Highborne. 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 Highborne priests.
A young scholar named Malfurion Stormrage, who had spent much of his time studying the primitive arts of druidism, began to suspect that a terrible power was corrupting the Highborne and his beloved queen. Though he could not conceive of the evil that was to come, he knew that the night elves' lives would soon be changed forever....
The War of the Ancients
10,000 years before Warcraft I
The Highborne's reckless use of magic sent ripples of energy spiraling out from the Well of Eternity and into the Great Dark Beyond. The streaming ripples of energy were felt by terrible alien minds. Sargeras - the Great Enemy of all life, the Destroyer 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 Burning Legion and made his way towards the unsuspecting world of Azeroth. The Legion was comprised of a million screaming demons, all ripped from the far corners of the universe, and the demons hungered for 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 Highborne 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 Highborne aided their queen in opening a vast, 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 searing infernals that crashed like hellish meteors into the graceful spires of Kalimdor's temples. A band of burning, bloodletting killers known as the Doomguard marched across Kalimdor's fields, slaughtering everyone in their path. 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.
It fell to 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 beautiful young priestess, Tyrande, agreed to accompany the brothers in the name of Elune. Though Malfurion and Illidan shared a 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 his nearly overwhelming hunger to tap the Well's energies once again. However, with Tyrande's patient support, he was able to restrain himself and help his brother find the reclusive demigod, 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, Malfurion 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 Highborne 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.
As the battle raged across the burning fields of Kalimdor, a terrible turn of events unfolded. The details of the event have been lost to time, but it is known that Neltharion, the Dragon Aspect of the Earth, went mad during a critical engagement against the Burning Legion. He began to split apart as flame and rage erupted from his dark hide. Renaming himself Deathwing, the burning dragon turned on his brethren and drove the five dragonflights from the field of battle.
Deathwing's sudden betrayal was so destructive that the five dragonflights never truly recovered. Wounded and shocked, Alexstrasza and the other noble dragons were forced to abandon their mortal allies. Malfurion and his companions, now hopelessly outnumbered, barely survived the ensuing onslaught.
Malfurion, 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 horrified by the rash notion. Yet Tyrande saw the wisdom of Malfurion's theory, so she convinced Cenarius and their comrades to storm Azshara's temple and find a way to shut the Well down for good.
The Sundering of the World
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 Highborne of Malfurion's plan. Due to the insanity brought on by his addiction and the stinging resentment towards his brother's affair with Tyrande, Illidan felt no remorse at betraying Malfurion 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, Malfurion led his companions into the heart of Azshara's temple. Yet as they stormed into the main audience chamber, they found the Highborne in the midst of their final dark incantation. The communal spell created an unstable vortex of power within the Well's turbulent depths. As Sargeras' ominous shadow drew ever closer to the surface, Malfurion and his allies rushed to attack.
Azshara, having received Illidan's warning, was more than prepared for them. Nearly all of Malfurion's followers fell before the mad queen's powers. Tyrande, attempting to attack Azshara from behind, was caught off-guard by the queen's Highborne guardsmen. Though she vanquished the guardsmen, Tyrande suffered grievous wounds at their hands. When Malfurion saw his love fall, he 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 Malfurion and Azshara threw the Highborne's carefully crafted spellwork into chaos. The unstable vortex within the Well's depths 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.
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.
Somehow, against all odds, Queen Azshara and her Highborne elite managed to survive the ordeal. Tortured and twisted by the powers they had released, Azshara and her followers were dragged down beneath the raging sea by the Well's implosion. Cursed - transformed - they took on new shapes and became the hateful serpentine naga. Azshara herself expanded with hate and rage, becoming a massive monstrosity, reflecting the wickedness and malice that had always hidden within her core.
There, at the bottom of the Maelstrom, the naga built for themselves a new city, Nazjatar, from which they would rebuild their power. It would take over ten thousand years before the naga would reveal their existence to the surface world.
Mount Hyjal and Illidan's Gift
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 grace of Elune, Malfurion, 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, Malfurion and his companions were left to ponder the terrible cost of victory.
There were many Highborne who did survive the cataclysm unscathed. They made their way to the shores of the new land along with the other night elves. Though Malfurion mistrusted the Highborne's 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, Malfurion 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 Malfurion and the night elves. In his mad bid to maintain the flows of magic in the world, Illidan had poured his vials, which contained 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 Malfurion hunted him down. Malfurion 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 ruthless schemes would eventually lead, Malfurion decided to deal with his power-crazed brother once and for all. With Cenarius' help, Malfurion sealed Illidan within a vast underground barrow prison, where he would remain chained and powerless until the end of time. To ensure his brother's containment, Malfurion empowered the young warden, Maiev Shadowsong, to be Illidan's personal jailor.
Concerned that destroying the new Well might bring about an even greater catastrophe, the night elves resolved to leave it be. However, Malfurion 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
9,000 years before Warcraft I
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. Malfurion, 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. Malfurion 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 Lifebinder, 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' gave their World Tree the new name Nordrassil, which meant "crown of the heavens" in their native tongue.
Nozdormu, the Timeless, placed an enchantment upon the World Tree to ensure 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 Malfurion 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 grieved at the prospect of losing so many years of their lives to hibernation, they selflessly agreed to uphold their bargain with Ysera.
Exile of the High Elves
7,300 years before Warcraft I
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 quilboars, 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 Highborne 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 to tap the energies of the Well of Eternity and exult in their magical practices. Dath'Remar, the brash, outspoken leader of the Highborne, began to mock the druids publicly, calling them cowards for refusing to wield the magic that he said was theirs by right. Malfurion and the druids dismissed Dath'Remar's arguments and warned the Highborne that any use of magic would be punishable by death. In an insolent and ill-fated attempt to convince the druids to rescind their law, Dath'Remar and his followers unleashed a terrible magical storm upon Ashenvale.
The druids could not bring themselves to put so many of their kin to death, so they decided to exile the reckless Highborne 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 Highborne, 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 embrace the sun and 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 that their time of hibernation was drawing near, prepared to sleep and leave their loved ones and families behind. Tyrande, who had become the High Priestess of Elune, asked her love, Malfurion, not to leave her for Ysera's Emerald Dream. But Malfurion, honor bound to enter the changing Dreamways, bid the priestess farewell and swore that they would never be apart so long as they held true to their love.
Left alone to protect Kalimdor from the dangers of the new world, Tyrande 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 on their own, 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 and regularly helped the Sentinels maintain peace in the land. Even Cenarius' shy daughters, the dryads, appeared in the open with increasing frequency.
The task of policing Ashenvale kept Tyrande busy, but without Malfurion at her side, she knew little joy. As the long centuries passed while the druids slept, her fears of a second demonic invasion grew. She could not shake the unnerving feeling that the Burning Legion might still be out there, beyond the Great Dark of the sky, plotting its revenge upon the night elves and the world of Azeroth.