Though most Shen'dralar either perished or devoted themselves to Prince Tortheldrin and his mad schemes, some did escape, as mentioned earlier. These Shen'dralar had finally witnessed the full folly of their actions and traveled north, drawn to Dalaran -- the home of the Kirin Tor and a complete citadel devoted to the study of the arcane. Perfect for a Highborne, right? Not exactly. It wasn't just the madness of the Prince that drove these Shen'dralar away, it was something else as well -- as an NPC named Daros Moonlance, located in the Silver Enclave of Dalaran will tell you:
Taking Daros' journal to Mordent Evenshade in the Temple of the Moon reveals a little more regarding the highborne. Mordent is seeking an audience with Tyrande Whisperwind, and being held off by Sentinel Stillbough. The two have the following conversation:A moment of your time, <class>.
Change is coming. It has drawn us out of the ruins of Eldre'Thalas and into the wide world once more. I have come to research this city and cannot stray from it, but if you are inclined, I have an errand for you. My colleague set out for Darnassus to speak with the High Priestess there, that we might come to an understanding. Take this journal to Mordent Evenshade in the temple. It may help in his diplomacy mission.
If you speak to Mordent directly, he states the following:Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Sentinel, I would speak with your High Priestess.
Sentinel Stillbough says: You must wait for an audience.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Must I? I doubt Tyrande has more pressing business.
Sentinel Stillbough says: You show some nerve coming to Teldrassil, Highborne. Your kind are unwelcome here. We have not forgotten the War of the Ancients or the minds behind it.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: The lure of power is great. Mistakes were made.
Sentinel Stillbough says: And we would not see those mistakes repeated. Return to your exile.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: I will not return until I am heard. There is too much at stake. There is a change on the wind, and we cannot ignore it. I have traveled from the dust and ruin of the past to come to an accord. The time may soon come when the kal'dorei require the knowledge and skill we have to offer. I will wait, Sentinel... but I will have my audience.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade looks over at the moonwell with a sigh.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Take your gaze off the moonwell, exile. The power within is not yours to wield.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Calm yourself, Sentinel. I do not seek to use it. I am merely... remembering.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Recalling your treachery?
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Enough. I have been apart from this for centuries. The well within this temple may be a pale spectre of the Well of Eternity, but it still holds the same... beauty. Purity. I had forgotten. I do not believe admiration and wistful thoughts are against the societal norm.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Watch yourself, Highborne.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: You were the one who challenged me for merely looking. I still await my audience with Tyrande.
Sentinel Stillbough says: In good time.
Changes on the wind? What on earth is Mordent talking about? There's a couple of possibilities -- first, the Highborne are psychic and they know that Deathwing is coming back. This is highly unlikely to say the least -- while the Highborne are experts in the arcane, they have little to do with nature and wouldn't really sense anything in the same way a druid or a shaman would. Second, and far more likely ... Malygos.I suppose I should not be surprised at this cold reception. We have long been in our hiding, and the separation from our brethren was necessary. That time, however, is done. Whether the residents of this young tree come to accept us or not, the Highborne are returning to light, and we will not turn our backs on what we are.
Why Malygos? Simple -- when Malygos regained his sanity in between The Burning Crusade and Wrath, he saw with total clarity what was happening on Azeroth. Mages, mortal mages were running rampant and using the arcane with no respect or care for the power that they wielded -- much as the Highborne did centuries before, which ultimately attracted the attention of the Burning Legion and caused the War of the Ancients that wiped out a good chunk of the Blue Dragonflight.
This understandably annoyed him a great deal, and he promptly decided that the only wielders of magic should be those that truly understood it -- magic had no place at all in the hands of mere mortals as far as he was concerned. And so he declared war on the mortal races, including the Kirin Tor of Dalaran. He was essentially trying to connect all magic to the Nexus so that nobody else would have access to it -- by yanking the ley lines of Azeroth north where nobody could reach them. This affected mages all across Azeroth, as Jaina notes in the image above.
Since the Highborne are also mages and masters of the arcane, it stands to reason that they felt this weakening and noted the movement of ley lines to one central location. The last time something like this happened? When Queen Azshara was busting open a portal to let the Burning Legion into Azeroth. Obviously this is bad news -- and the Highborne are trying to reconcile with the night elves in order to prevent something like this from happening again.
The only drawback to the theory is that Malygos is dead, killed at the hands of players -- though the effects of his death haven't really been fully explained. Perhaps the death of Malygos somehow weakened the world as we know it? Again, it's never fully explained, but it is made clear by Mordent and Daros both -- the Highborne regret their actions, especially given the results of those actions. Obviously the careless pursuit of arcane magic is enough to drive anyone mad, as evidenced by Prince Tortheldrin, but at the same time those arcane powers, when mastered correctly, can be invaluable weapons. It's simply a matter of mastery.
Mordent may stare at the moonwell with quiet longing, but he doesn't leap into the thing and start draining magic from it willy-nilly -- he's learned the art of moderation. And that's the key to mastering the arcane -- the ability to practice it without letting it overwhelm you. The Highborne visiting Dalaran and Darnassus aren't seeking new forms of magic; they're offering help. Unfortunately it looks as though the night elves' prejudices runs high -- but then you have to look at what they were dealing with.
The Highborne that fled with the night elves during the Sundering were told they couldn't practice magic at all, and as a result they rebelled and nearly destroyed Ashenvale in a magical storm as a demonstration of their power. The Highborne of the Shen'dralar by and large went mad with power sucked from a demon, and started killing their own people in order to keep the magic flowing. Who's to say Mordent and his followers won't start doing the same?
This is, however, the origin of night elf mages -- somewhere along the line, Tyrande must have agreed to let the Highborne train fledgling night elves in the arcane arts -- an act that probably didn't make Malfurion very happy, seeing as how it was his idea to ban the practice of the arcane in the first place. Then again, Malfurion's time in the Emerald Dream may have mellowed him to the point where he is willing to consider alternatives, particularly alternatives that don't involve blowing up trees and wells.
There are very few Shen'dralar left in the world today -- most were slaughtered at the hands of Tortheldrin, some stayed behind to "follow" him, though their allegiance appears to be shaky at best, and those that fled are seeking new alliances. While the night elves that train in the arcane arts won't be "proper" Highborne, they'll still have some of the best -- and most mysterious -- teachers to learn from. The road to mastering the arcane may be easy enough, but the road to acceptance in night elf society will likely be much harder.
Come back next week when I'll be taking a look at hunters of the Forsaken and human variety, and the man that fills both those shoes -- Nathanos Blightcaller.