Last week, we covered a few of the major plot points currently surrounding the Forsaken and what they've been up to so far in Cataclysm. This week, we're going to head over to the Alliance side of things to take a look at the night elves and what they've been doing in the wake of all the cataclysmic chaos and destruction. With the launch of patch 4.2, the night elves have been launched back to the focus of the story as they deal with crippling losses in Hyjal and the final showdown between the mortal races of Azeroth and the elemental lord Ragnaros.
Of course, that's the obvious road to take when dealing with a character that has been active in Azeroth since World of Warcraft's launch. However, Ragnaros and his attacks, the fight for Nordrassil, and the reclamation of Hyjal shouldn't be the only focus for night elf players. Since Cataclysm, night elf society has taken several unexpected turns that are of interest to night elf roleplayers, new and experienced alike.
What happened Once upon a time, there was a little event called the War of the Ancients, which resulted in the Sundering, an event which tore the continent of Kalimdor apart and flung it across Azeroth into the continents we know and travel upon today. The cause of the War was the overuse of the arcane magics contained within the Well of Eternity, which caught the attention of the Burning Legion. It was elf against elf, Legion and arcane spellcasters, the highborne followers of Azshara against those who opposed the corruption the arcane stood for. Once the war was over, all arcane sorcery was expressly forbidden, punishable by execution.
But it didn't stop there. A rogue band of these former highborne sorcerers, angered and weakened, decided to unleash a magical storm across Ashenvale. The sheer amount of damage caused by these sorcerers was more than enough to warrant execution, but Malfurion Stormrage showed mercy and instead banished them from Kalimdor for good. These elves became the blood elves we play today. As for night elven society, all arcane magic continued to be forbidden. Nobody wished to see the War of the Ancients repeated; it was the most brutal War in the history of elven existence.
Enter Cataclysm and the Shen'dralar. The Shen'dralar were an offshoot of the original highborne from the War of the Ancients who never followed Malfurion and the others way back when. Instead, they had their own city far to the south where they continued to live and practice the arcane arts in secrecy. Sensing something off with the world, the Shen'dralar traveled to Darnassus to ask for forgiveness, acceptance, and the chance to teach young night elves the arcane arts.
How this affects your character Needless to say, this is a very touchy subject. If your night elf is old enough to have studied night elven history -- or heck, even old enough to remember the War of the Ancients -- he will remember the highborne, followers of Azshara. He will also remember the chaos of war, the death of the Ancients, the emergence of Deathwing, and the Sundering itself -- the horror and fear as the very earth beneath his feet ripped and tore apart.
All the bloodshed, the unspeakable amount of life lost during that war lies solely at the feet of Azshara and those who practiced the arcane. If they hadn't tampered with magic, the Burning Legion never would have come into play. Those too young to remember the War of the Ancients may still have lost family members or been raised on tales of the war and warnings of the arcane. It's a taboo, it's forbidden, and it's now being reintroduced into night elven society.
What to consider Think about your night elf, how he was raised, and what he does in his life. Is he devoted to Elune and her teachings? If so, how does the sudden appearance of elves that pretty much defy everything Elune teaches affect your character? A night elf who doesn't particularly care one way or another about the appearance of the Shen'dralar would be a rare night elf indeed -- rarer still, one who would approve of the reintroduction of magic into a society that has treated it as an unspeakable no-no for thousands upon thousands of years. What made your night elf not care about it?
For those playing night elf mages, your position in night elf society is precarious, and you are likely treated with distrust, if not open disgust, by a large percentage of the population. What led your night elf down that path? Why did he choose to pick up the arcane arts? Was it an attraction to the forbidden or a wish to master it and help improve night elf society for the better?
What happened The city of Gilneas has fallen, its human inhabitants stricken with a curse that transformed them into worgen. However, that worgen curse was originally the fault of the night elves -- and night elf ambassadors were sent to Gilneas to help the once great nation's beleaguered people deal with the curse. After the fall of Gilneas, the survivors fled to Darnassus, where they now make their home in a great tree called the Howling Oak. Suddenly, the night elven capital has guests the likes of which most night elves have never seen before.
How this affects your character If your night elf is a druid, he may be aware of the origins of the worgen curse. The forming of the Cenarion Circle was a direct response to the worgen situation, and it was created so that no further tampering with unstable forms like pack form would occur. If your night elf is simply a resident of Darnassus, well, he's got new neighbors right in his capital city -- and as the night elf race has been largely reclusive for thousands of years, it might not sit so well.
What to consider Is your night elf a druid? Is he aware of the origins of the worgen curse? How does he feel about the human worgen? Does he feel guilty, ashamed? Does he want to make up for what his people have done? Does he view the worgen as brothers-in-arms, wanting to help them, or does he fervently wish they'd all just go away? If your night elf is not a druid, how does he feel about the sudden appearance of the worgen in Darnassus? Is he happy to have an interesting new people to be friends and allies with, or does he cringe at the loss of Darnassus as a strictly night elven home?
What happened In the wake of the Shattering, perhaps the greatest devastation was Darkshore. The region was ripped into pieces, a swirling vortex churning at the center. The small coastal town of Auberdine was completely destroyed, with very few survivors. Further south, Ashenvale erupted, a latent volcano ripping through once tranquil forests. The town of Astranaar is under constant and heavy assault from Horde that have seized the moment to take the upper hand in the resultant chaos from the Shattering. All along Darkshore, all over Ashenvale, lives have been lost -- countless lives.
How this affects your character If your character was born, raised, or lived in Darkshore or Ashenvale, he is likely coming to terms with the sudden loss of his home -- and not only his home but his neighbors, his friends, possibly even his family and loved ones. In Darkshore, it seems as though nature itself wanted to wipe the region from the face of Azeroth. In Ashenvale, the Horde has surged forth with a vengeance. Even if your character didn't call Ashenvale or Darkshore home, the Horde attacks have reinforced most night elves' hatred for the Horde.
What to consider Did your character have roots in Darkshore or Ashenvale? Has he lost anything -- a home, a friend, a loved one? How did he react to the devastating loss of life in Darkshore, to the Ashenvale attacks? How does he feel about the Horde -- did the sudden uprising of Horde in Ashenvale fuel a preexisting hatred? Was he secretly hoping for peace, a hope that has now been firmly wiped away? How does he feel about the new orc Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream -- a Warchief who serves as an almost polar opposite to the peace that Thrall stood for?
What happened And then we have Hyjal. The world tree Nordrassil was established over 10,000 years ago after the War of the Ancients. Alexstrasza, Aspect of Life, grew the tree out of a single acorn from the Mother Tree G'Hanir. It was blessed by Ysera, Aspect of Nature, allowing druids entry into the Emerald Dream, and blessed by Nozdormu, Aspect of Time. Nozdormu's blessing was of special importance; as long as the tree existed, the night elves would be granted immortality. Nordrassil was the heart of night elven civilization ... that is, until the Third War.
At the end of the Third War, Archimonde's forces marched upon Hyjal, slaughtering their way up the mountain's peak. Archimonde sought the powers of Nordrassil and the reborn Well of Eternity at its roots for his own dark purposes. In the end, the only way to ensure Archimonde's defeat was a sacrifice -- and so Malfurion Stormrage sent in thousands upon thousands of wisps, who coalesced around Archimonde and detonated. Nordrassil was destroyed, the immortality of the night elves gone. Hyjal was in ruins.
The night elves removed themselves from Hyjal's battered peaks and, years later, established Teldrassil. But some of the night elf druids have been quietly tending the old World Tree, watching it grow and regain some of its strength. Today, it is a fraction of the size it once was -- but the elemental lord Ragnaros has set his sights on the peaks of Hyjal, with the intent of burning up what remainds of Nordrassil and any hope for the World Tree's regrowth.
How this affects your character Any night elf currently of age and running around Azeroth remembers Nordrassil. The events of the Third War and Nordrassil's destruction were only around 10, 15 years ago at best -- 20 if you really want to stretch the timelines. The Third War is a fairly recent memory; the hope of regaining their beloved home is pretty high on any night elves' wishlist, druid or no. There are hopes that the regrown tree will once more grant the immortality lost to the night elves upon its destruction, as well.
What to consider Has your night elf ever lived in Hyjal? Did he fight in the Third War? Hyjal has been a home to night elf civilization for 10,000 years -- how did its original loss at the end of the Third War affect your night elf? How does the potential loss of the new growth affect your night elf? Is he fighting in Hyjal? Or is he instead fighting elsewhere? If he suffered great personal loss in the Third War, the current state of Hyjal and its impending destruction may have a far more personal impact on him than those who weren't present during the War.
From sharing a capital city with strangers to fierce battle and devastation in the wake of the Shattering, the night elves are currently one of the most beleaguered and battle-worn races to come out of Cataclysm. Though night elf society has been around in Azeroth for far longer than almost any other race on the planet, the present -- and the future -- are looking decidedly grim. For night elf roleplayers, the plot points of present-day night elves offer a rich variety of emotional reactions and situations to play with.
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