Illidan sadly told Kael'thas that there was no cure for his people -- but if Kael'thas and the blood elves swore to follow him, he'd provide the blood elves with enough magic energy to keep their hunger sated for good. It wasn't the best of solutions, but it was what Kael'thas had to work with, and it was the only solution offered that would keep his people from dying out completely. So he agreed. He sent one of the elves who had traveled to Outland with him back to Azeroth to deliver the news -- Grand Magister Rommath. Rommath returned to Silvermoon with tales of Outland, the promise of their people's salvation at the hands of their Prince, and to teach the elves new ways to siphon magic from fel energy (a trick that Illidan had taught to Kael'thas). The elves were overjoyed to hear of their Prince and their eventual freedom from the addiction that plagued them.
The blood elves of Silvermoon gladly embraced both the news and the new techniques, all the while still working on their own version of a cure for their condition. After all, the promised land was one thing, but complete victory over the addiction was preferred. Silvermoon slowly began to regain its former luster and its residents continued to rebuild, hopeful that they would one day soon see their prince again.
Meanwhile beyond the Dark Portal, Kael'thas, Vashj and a new ally, Akama, helped Illidan regain control of Outland by defeating the pit lord Magtheridon. They were successful, and Illidan stood triumphant as Lord of Outland -- a triumph that was to be short-lived. Kil'jaeden, one of the leaders of the Burning Legion, descended upon Illidan and rebuked him for his insolence in trying to hide away from the Legion's eyes. Kil'jaeden gave Illidan once last chance to save himself from the Legion's wrath: to go back to Azeroth and destroy the Frozen Throne. Make a note of this; I'll be addressing it again later.
Kael'thas and his new allies traveled back to Azeroth, this time to Northrend, where they faced off against Anub'arak and slowly advanced upon Icecrown. It was here that Kael'thas and the blood elves found themselves pitted once more against Arthas, who was attempting to reach the Frozen Throne and save his master the Lich King at the same time that Illidan and his forces were trying to destroy it. The two raced against each other to reach the Throne, and Arthas and Illidan faced off at the base of the glacier in single combat. Much to Kael'thas' dismay, Illidan was defeated. Arthas made his way up the glacier to his destiny, leaving Vashj and Kael to drag Illidan's unconscious body back with them to Outland.
Kael'thas, once full of hope for his people and eager for the promised magic power that would free his people from their enslavement, was left with the shattered leader of Outland, who had failed the Legion, presumably for the last time. Illidan's response to his failure was to prepare for an offense from the Legion, creating fel orcs from Magtheridon's blood to fight as his army. He then inexplicably ordered Kael'thas' forces to attack the city of Shattrath -- despite the fact that the draenei within Shattrath's walls were just as opposed to the Burning Legion as Illidan himself supposedly was. Kael'thas ordered his troops into the first assault, but the seemingly unprovoked attack had the opposite effect intended. A large group of blood elves approached the city, led by Voren'thal, and laid down their weapons. Instead of attacking, they demanded to speak to the naaru A'dal that lived in the center of Shattrath.
Once inside, Voren'thal knelt and uttered the following words: "I've seen you in a vision, naaru. My race's only hope for survival lies with you. My followers and I are here to serve you." The defection of Voren'thal and his followers was a staggering loss to Kael'thas' forces. Yet Illidan seemed either unaware or unconcerned about this and continued building his fel orc army. Kael'thas, it seemed, had been largely forgotten and his people destined to extinction.
Remember Kil'jaeden's appearance a few paragraphs ago? It's my theory that this was the point that Kael'thas began to crumble. He never intended to lead his people. He never trained for it. He was more than happy with his position within the Kirin Tor. And then suddenly one day, he abruptly lost his father, 90% of his people and the Sunwell -- more than enough to break anyone -- and his people desperately sought someone to guide them. All he wanted, what he really wanted, was for his people to be whole and happy again and free of the addiction that would presumably one day cause their eventual extinction. He became a rallying voice to bring the remains of his race together again. He was a leader of desperation, not of choice. And as the situation with Illidan proved less and less likely to offer any kind of feasible solution, Kael'thas' desperation grew.
Illidan was a powerful creature, that was certain, but he wasn't powerful enough to keep the promises he'd made to Kael'thas. It's at this point that I theorize Kael'thas looked back to that moment of Kil'jaeden's first appearance and realized Illidan had someone far more powerful that he was reporting to. That someone was powerful enough to cow Illidan into submission, someone who could quite possibly give the blood elves what they needed instead of languishing in the Black Temple. There were other logical reasons why this would've been considered as well. After all, the Burning Legion seemed intent on destroying the Scourge, and as the Scourge were the beings responsible for his people's slaughter, it only stands to reason he would seek to ally with them. But mostly, it was that desperation for his dying race that drove him to eventually seek the Legion out.
Regardless, what was done was done. Kael'thas and his people quietly traveled to Netherstorm and far from Illidan's gaze, where they took over the stronghold Tempest Keep in order to use its powers to harness the latent magic of the Netherstorm itself. Tempest Keep was guarded by a single naaru named M'uru, who was quickly captured and sent to Silvermoon City as a "gift" of sorts. The naaru are beings of pure energy, and it was Kael's intent that his people could siphon the energy of the captured naaru as a source of magic. This led to the founding of the Blood Knights of Silvermoon, led by Lady Liadrin. The Blood Knights used the naaru's power to harness the powers of paladins, Liadrin being the first to do so. Meanwhile, Kael'thas began rallying his forces to create giant manaforges across Netherstorm that would be used to gather and collect vast amounts of energy directly from the Nether.
This is where Burning Crusade starts -- Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider, left with the shattered leader of Outland, the blood elves of Silvermoon patiently awaiting word from their Prince and desperately fighting to reclaim Quel'thalas from the remnants of the Scourge that remained. All the blood elves of Silvermoon knew was that their salvation lay in Outland, but they had no way to get there -- until they were approached by a surprising new ally, the former Ranger-General of Silvermoon, Sylvanas Windrunner. Sylvanas had fallen to Arthas during the attacks on Silvermoon at the beginning of the Third War, and he raised her as a mindless banshee. When the Lich King's hold over the Scourge began to suffer due to Illidan's meddling, Sylvanas was no longer under his thrall and gathered like-minded undead to her side, forming the Forsaken.
But Sylvanas was always at heart a high elf and the protector of Quel'thalas, and she wished to help her former people regain some semblance of their former glory. She offered an alliance to the blood elves, who initially turned her down fearing a trick but slowly began to realize that Sylvanas and the Horde she was allied with were the only hope they had of reaching Outland. Due to Kael'thas' actions in allying with the naga and their experiments with draining magic from fel energy, the sin'dorei were no longer welcome among the Alliance and had no one else to turn to. In addition, the Forsaken apothecaries could very well help them find a cure for their addiction. And so they allowed the Forsaken into Quel'thalas, establishing a base in Tranquillen to fight off the remaining Scourge forces lurking in the decimated forests.
The blood elves, still led by Lor'themar, were desperate to reach Outland, reunite with their prince and achieve the destiny he'd promised them. In order to do this, they required more help than just Sylvanas could give them. She told them to join the Horde, offering to speak their case to Thrall himself. Thrall agreed to the alliance, and the blood elves became full members of the Horde. It's hard to say what Thrall was thinking when he decided to ally with the blood elves, though their situation, the near decimation of their people and the addiction to magic that plagued them bore some small similarities to the situation of the orcs. Then too was the fact that they sought out Outland, formerly known as Draenor and the ancestral home of his people. Thrall wanted to see the remains of Draenor just as much as they did, and he couldn't deny a suffering race the opportunity to redeem themselves.
The blood elves traveled through the Dark Portal to Outland, where they were met by Martik Tor'seldorei, who spoke to them of the promised land in which they'd arrived. Over the course of traveling through Outland, however, it became more and more apparent that something was wrong. With each new zone, more and more it looked as though Kael'thas was no longer working with the best interests of his people at heart. The Scryers of Shattrath suspected it, but it was not confirmed until more research was completed in Netherstorm: Prince Kael'thas had done the unthinkable and allied with the Burning Legion.
The course of action that needed to be taken was clear. Kael'thas had to be destroyed before he led the blood elves into certain doom. And so he was slain, or supposedly so, by players in Tempest Keep. However, upon returning to Shattrath and presenting A'dal with one of three verdant spheres in Kael'thas' possession, his voice is heard:
Silence descends upon Shattrath
A'dal's thoughts invade your mind
Kael'thas Sunstrider has been defeated by (name)and (his/her) allies
The time to strike at the remaining blood elves of Tempest Keep is now. Take arms and let A'dal's song of battle empower you!
Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: Your monkeys failed to finish the job, naaru! Beaten but alive... The same mistake was not made when we took command of your vessel.
Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: All for what? Trinkets? You are too late. The preparations have already begun. Soon the master will make his return.
Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: And there is nothing you or that fool, Illidan, can do to stop me! You have both served me in your own right - unwittingly.
Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: Lay down your arms and succumb to the might of Kil'jaeden!
Despite his supposed "defeat," Kael'thas survived the ordeal with the help of Priestess Delrissa, a shivarra from the Burning Legion. Having collected enough energy from the mana forges of the Netherstorm, Kael'thas returned to Quel'thalas -- not to give his people the source of magic they needed, but to reactivate the Sunwell and summon Kil'jaeden to Azeroth. He assaulted the Blood Knight headquarters in Silvermoon, took back M'uru and kidnapped the girl Anveena Teague, who was really the remains of the Sunwell's energies in human form. He whisked them both along with his felblood followers to Sunwell Plateau and took up residence in Magister's Terrace. Once again, the blood elves found themselves having to put their former leader to death -- this time, for good -- to stop Kil'jaeden from emerging through the Sunwell. Anveena sacrificed herself to weaken Kil'jaeden enough that he could be banished back to the Twisting Nether. All was quiet.
But this was not the end for the blood elves. Prophet Velen arrived at the Sunwell along with Lady Liadrin, who was horrified when she discovered Kael'thas' allegiance with the Burning Legion and finally realized the darkness of the path down which he'd led his people. Velen summoned a crystal from the sky (the heart of the naaru M'uru) and used it to re-ignite the Sunwell's energies. Once arcane, now suffused with the power of the Light, the Sunwell returned as a font of power from which the blood elves would find their salvation, just as Voren'thal had seen in the vision he described to A'dal.
Thus ended the Burning Crusade, and thus began Wrath of the Lich King. Let's go over the facts:
- The blood elves allied with the Horde to get their help in traveling to Outland. This was accomplished in Burning Crusade.
- The blood elves sought a cure for their addiction to magic. This was resolved at the end of Burning Crusade.
- Lor'themar Theron doesn't seem to have a lot of presence as a leader, but he has the best interests of his people at heart, telling them that despite the betrayal of Kael'thas, they would endure as always. Not only has he stepped up to replace Kael'thas as leader, he seems to have a much better grasp on what a leader should be (i.e., he isn't completely insane).
- The restoration of the Sunwell, the font of the blood elves magic itself, was not accomplished by any member of the Horde but by the leader of the Draenei people that had allied with the Alliance.
The larger question that begs to be asked is this: Why, exactly, are the Blood Elves still allied with the Horde? It can't be out of gratitude, because the Horde leaders in all truth had nothing to do with the ultimate redemption of the elves. Beyond that, the Horde also allies with trolls -- albeit the Darkspear tribe that had nothing to do with the Amani -- but elves and trolls have very little love for each other. The elves barely manage to conceal their disdain for their "savage" allies and still barely trust the Forsaken, although Sylvanas' ties to their people cannot be ignored. Is it merely Sylvanas' crusade to rid the world of the Scourge and the Lich King for good that holds them in place? The thought of revenge against the creatures that decimated their kind and nearly forced them into extinction?
During the course of Wrath of the Lich King, the blood elves provide little presence in Northrend, aside from the Sunreavers of Dalaran. This faction, named after Archmage Aethas Sunreaver, seeks to have the blood elves admitted as members of the Kirin Tor -- a neutral faction that chooses neither side and instead tries to promote peace between the Alliance and the Horde. Aethas is one of the members of the Council of Six, the ruling council of the Kirin Tor, a position that Kael'thas once held. The Sunreavers are in direct opposition to the Silver Covenant, a militant group of high elves who are opposed to the Sunreaver's admission to the Kirin Tor.
The Sunreavers guard the Horde portion of the city, and the Silver Covenant guard the Alliance side. Players of opposing factions are not allowed to enter the inns and portal areas of the opposite side, instead being abruptly ported out and stunned. It was the Sunreavers that managed to convince the Kirin Tor to allow the Horde inside the city. But there are other points in the expansion that the blood elves can be found, particularly in later portions of the game. The Sunreavers have a strong presence at the Argent Tournament, once again showing their willingness to ally with a neutral party -- this time, the Argent Crusade.
But it's even further into the expansion that the blood elves begin to show their faces again. Players can loot an item called the Battered Hilt in any of the three heroic instances in Icecrown Citadel. The item starts a quest that leads players on a chain to reforge the ancient blade Quel'Delar. Quel'Delar's history is a long one, and this absolutely stunning machinima by Melvenor does an amazing job of explaining the blade's origins.
The battered hilt is part of the shattered remains of Quel'Delar. Through a series of quests, players restore the blade, ending with a trip to the Sunwell for both Alliance and Horde players to purify the blade. What's that? Horde and Alliance, in the Sunwell, the blood elves' new font of restored unending magic power? Yes. Not only are the blood elves present at the Sunwell, but the high elves as well -- side by side, to worship their newfound source of power. While the two factions don't seem to be overly friendly to one other, the blood elves have still allowed the high elves inside.
This is again odd for a race that supposedly hates and distrusts everyone. Did Velen's gift to the blood elves start some sort of change within the people of Silvermoon? Is the newly reignited Sunwell spreading the peace and tranquility of the Light so far that the elves are ... mellowing out? Every move the blood elves have made thus far suggests their interest is now leaning towards some sort of neutral alliance with both sides, rather than strengthening their ties with the Horde. And now it turns out the blood elves are actually letting the high elves that deserted them, the high elves who condemned them once they began using fel energies to stay their addiction, into the one place that the blood elves hold most sacred?
Now why would the blood elves take in the high elves that allied with the Alliance and turned their back on their own kind? That seems more than a little bizzare. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Thrall's views on peace and diplomacy, this could look downright treasonous to the Horde.
The blood elves have changes coming in Cataclysm, though the rumors surrounding them are iffy at best (and for now, unconfirmed). But the question as to their true allegiances has yet to be answered -- and if the rumors are true, we'll see less grateful blood elves, and more very, very angry ones. As their only apparent ties to the Horde remain through the Forsaken, it'll be interesting to see what happens to the former magic addicts that have oh-so-subtly begun inching away from the Horde. What does Lor'themar have planned for his people? Will they remain in the Horde's hands? Will they turn back to the Alliance? Will they simply throw up their hands and join the Kirin Tor? The future is unknown, but these issues will hopefully be addressed in the next expansion.