The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
I love reading the comments on KYL. Sometimes you guys have some really great ideas, and sometimes you guys know just where to poke a hole in whatever fanciful theory I've got out for discussion -- but by and large, it's just nice to see people asking questions and thinking. The bonus to having comments, however, is that I can see where people are confused and put together something to straighten it all out. The subject today is elven evolution -- the difference between the night elves, blood elves, high elves, Highborne, Shen'dralar, quel'dorei, sin'dorei and all those other terms thrown out there that make the simple process of figuring out where all those elves originated incredibly confusing. Elven evolution is fairly straightforward; it's just the extra terminology that throws people.
All elven ancestry starts with the kaldorei, which means "children of the stars" in their native tongue. These guys are night elves, and they are the first elves that ever existed and the elves from which all elven ancestry on Azeroth originates. Don't think of them exactly the same as the night elves we can play in Warcraft today, but as a slightly older version, though they looked virtually the same. Malfurion, Illidan, Tyrande, Azshara ... All of these elves were descendants of the original kaldorei.
Where the kaldorei came from is up in the air, though there are multiple theories. The night elves believe that the kaldorei were originally their own race, a primitive group of nomadic, nocturnal creatures who settled by the Well of Eternity and were blessed by Elune, transformed and subsequently adopting the name kaldorei. Ancient troll legends suggest that those nomads who settled by the Well of Eternity were actually trolls that were turned into the first kaldorei. This is where the crux of that argument about the elves' origins stems from. The elves believe that the primitive group of nomads were simply early elves who hadn't evolved into "proper" elves yet, and the trolls believe that the primitive group of nomads were actually primitive trolls who split off from the Amani Empire.