Quel'Thalas (kingdom)

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This article is about the elven kingdom. For the region itself, see Quel'Thalas. For the in-game reputation faction, see Silvermoon City (faction).
HordeKingdom of Quel'Thalas
Blood Elf Crest.png
Icon of Blood
Main leader
  Formerly
Secondary leaders
  Formerly
Race(s)
  Formerly
Capital
Government

Interregnum (ostensibly)
Formerly:
Hereditary monarchy[2]
(Sunstrider dynasty)

Sub-group(s)
Affiliation
  Formerly
Status

Healthy

Quel'Thalas (or the (elven) kingdom of Quel'Thalas),[4][5][6] High Home in Thalassian,[7] is a kingdom nestled in the homonymous region in northern Lordaeron.[8] Its territories comprise the Eversong Forest (split between the Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands); the Isle of Quel'Danas, the site of the kingdom's holy Sunwell; and the kingdom's borders stretch from the northernmost tip of the Eastern Kingdoms to the Thalassian Pass.[9] Quel'Thalas is the realm of the blood elves, currently led by their regent lord, Lor'themar Theron, following the fall of the royal family. Its capital is Silvermoon City.

History

Map of Quel'Thalas.

New beginnings

Banished from Kalimdor by their night elf brethren, the Highborne led by Dath'Remar Sunstrider left their ancestral homeland behind them and struck out across the Great Sea in search of whatever lands might lie beyond the Maelstrom. Their determination was rewarded when they discovered the continent that would eventually become known as the Eastern Kingdoms, landing in a region filled with lush woodlands and wildlife. The Highborne traveled on foot for months until settling in a region known to its primitive human residents as Tirisfal. The Highborne initially had little interaction with the humans, but gleaned from them the legend of Tyr, a guardian who had sacrificed himself to slay a mighty foe in Tirisfal. Indeed, the Highborne had noticed powerful energies in the land—energies the primitive humans could not detect. It could not match their old Well of Eternity, but it intrigued the arcane-practitioning elves nonetheless. They believed they could regain their lost glory if they unlocked its secrets, but in time this proved unfeasible; the energy was dark and corrupted, and drove the elves who dabbled in it mad. Furthermore, cut off from the Well, the Highborne became susceptible to mortality, age and disease. Their skin had lost its violet hue, and they had shrunk in stature. The Highborne feared these effects would only worsen over time.

The Highborne grew increasingly expedient, convinced that the humans had built their settlements over the most potent ley lines. Some pushed for war, resolved to outright conquer the native humans or at least force them to relocate. Dath'Remar Sunstrider did not agree. The Highborne leader saw no wisdom in making enemies of beings that posed his people no threat. He had also noticed the dark energies radiating from the land, and theorized that it was responsible for the sudden rise of belligerence and madness afflicting his kind. Ultimately, he chose to lead them away from Tirisfal to avert violence and spare them from a potential calamity. He decided that they would make a new home in the north. There, Dath'Remar's scouts had discovered a region rife with lush forests and powerful ley energies. Intent on reaching this land, the beleaguered Highborne left Tirisfal and marched north into the unknown.

The founding of Quel'Thalas

The kingdom of Quel'Thalas after its founding.

Dath'Remar and the Highborne continued their quest to find a home on the Eastern Kingdoms. Following the trails of magical essence, they traveled north through perilous weather; a deadly blizzard trapped the elves for nearly a month as they pressed on. For the first time in living memory, the Highborne began to die of starvation; only the compassion of primitive humans living in the mountain kept the entire expedition from perishing. The lesson was a harsh reminder of all they had lost, cut off from the Well of Eternity. Once the storm lifted, they forged ahead, shaken but determined to find their new home. Hope warmed their weary hearts when they finally reached the land Dath'Remar's scouts had spoken of: verdant woodlands covered the terrain, and the very ground beneath the Highborne's feet crackled with potent lines of magic. But the elves soon discovered that another race also called this region home: the barbaric Amani forest trolls.

The arrival of the Highborne infuriated the Amani trolls, who harbored a bitter hatred of elves from the days of Queen Azshara. The Amani sent out raiding parties immediately to slaughter the unwanted trespassers, and the Highborne soon learned to fear troll ambushes in the dense forests. Yet the elves were stubborn, and pushed forward, using their great magical prowess to decimate any Amani who dared to cross their path. As the elves had feared the trolls, the trolls learned to fear the elves. The constant skirmishes fostered a mutual, bitter enmity between the Amani and the Highborne. Despite the trolls' ferocity, the elves finally reached the nexus of ley lines they had been seeking. Powerful torrents of arcane energy converged in the vibrant forests. Dath'Remar proclaimed that this was where his people would begin their civilization anew.

Dath'Remar Sunstrider, first king of Quel'Thalas, in Silvermoon City.

Dath'Remar shocked his followers by revealing a vial containing energy from the Well of Eternity, one of several created by Illidan Stormrage, that the Highborne leader had stolen from the night elves' custody shortly before their banishment from Hyjal. Dath'Remar poured the vial's enchanted water into a small lake at the center of the nexus, and a brilliant fount of energy tore through the skies of Azeroth. The Highborne dubbed this glorious cradle of power the "Sunwell," a name chosen in honor of Dath'Remar and his bold quest to reignite their culture.

Thereafter, the Highborne abandoned their worship of the moon, instead taking strength from the sun. In time, they took the name "high elves," and the arcane power available to them increased by an astonishing degree. Although the journey had been torturous, Dath'Remar had led them to salvation. They called their new land Quel'Thalas, ("High Home"), and declared that it would dwarf the night elves' civilization and stand as a monument to the ages.[10]

The Amani did not agree. The high elves had built their new kingdom—a kingdom centered on the Sunwell, the heart of their new culture—atop ancient Amani ruins, ruins still considered hallowed ground by the trolls. Outnumbering the elves nearly ten-to-one, the Amani struggled ferociously to drive the invaders from their sacred land. The high elves drew on the full might of the newfound power the Sunwell afforded them, but could barely hold off the trolls' assault. Dath'Remar himself led almost every battle against the fierce Amani. Bit by bit, the elves carved out the borders of their kingdom, securing a new home, paid for in the blood of their brothers and sisters.

Yet many of the high elves grew wary of their rampant use of arcane magic, fearing that it could once more draw the Burning Legion to Azeroth. Dath'Remar sent his most powerful arcanists to find a solution. Over several decades, they built a series of monolithic runestones around Quel'Thalas' borders. This barrier was called Ban'dinoriel, or "the Gatekeeper" in the high elven tongue. It would prevent others from detecting the high elves' use of magic, ward off the superstitious Amani, and weaken the magic of all non-elves within it.[11] The trolls eventually retreated into their temple city of Zul'Aman. They decided it was safer to ambush elven convoys that strayed beyond the magic barrier than to launch a full assault on Quel'Thalas. An elite group of rangers soon arose to combat this threat.

Within the borders of Quel'Thalas, civilization thrived. No longer fearful of using magic, the high elves created marvelous works that bathed their kingdom in eternal springtime. Never again would they experience another winter as brutal as the one they had suffered en route to this cherished land. Their capital, Silvermoon City, became a shining monument to the memory of the elves' ancient empire. Silvermoon was constructed out of radiant white stone and adorned in crimson tapestry.[12] With his new empire established, Dath'Remar stepped down as leader. His bloodline would go on to inherit a magical kingdom of peace and prosperity. Its beauteous palaces, crafted in the same architectural style as the ancient halls of Kalimdor, were interwoven with the natural topography of the land. Quel'Thalas had become the shining jewel that the elves had longed to create. The Convocation of Silvermoon was founded as the ruling power over Quel'Thalas, though the Sunstrider Dynasty maintained a modicum of political power. Comprised of seven of the greatest high elf lords, the Convocation worked to secure the safety of the elven lands and people, and Quel'Thalas prospered in peace. Yet this era would come to an end when Dath'Remar's great-grandson, Anasterian Sunstrider, donned the mantle of leadership. He came into power at a time when his people faced war with the trolls once again.

The Troll Wars

Quel'Thalas, Arathor, and the Amani Empire during the Troll Wars.

Millennia after their defeat at the elves' hands, the Amani trolls plotted revenge within Zul'Aman. Though they were fierce warriors and possessed savage voodoo magic, they lacked unity and a strong leader. Infighting had also spread throughout the tribe, threatening to destroy it from within. Their fortune changed when they received aid from the revered Zandalar tribe. The Zandalari saw themselves as the protectors and spiritual leaders of all trolls, and sought to strengthen troll societies all across Azeroth. The trolls had languished since the Great Sundering, the Zandalari included. In the Amani, the Zandalari saw an opportunity to revitalize one of their race's most powerful tribes and reassert dominance on the Eastern Kingdoms. Overwhelming the high elves would be no easy task, but despite its founder's claims, Quel'Thalas was not as powerful as the ancient night elf empire that had decimated the trolls so long ago.

The Zandalari formed an alliance with the Amani, and marshaled their forces for the impending conquest. The Zandalari would ensure that the mighty loa demigods would aid the trolls in battle. To settle the matter of leadership, the Zandalari made one of the Amani's fiercest warriors, Jintha, the ruler of his people. Small Amani warbands ventured from Zul'Aman to raid the high elves and test their strength.The cunning trolls hid their true numbers and capabilities; and after several successful attacks, decided that the time for all-out war had finally come. Without warning, tens of thousands of troll fighters exploded from the shadowy forests. Fearsome loa demigods marched alongside the Amani, infusing their adherents with supernatural power. The high elves struggled desperately to hold back the trolls, but were forced to give ground. With astonishing speed, the Amani laid waste to the outer reaches of Quel'Thalas. The Zandalari emissaries were pleased by what they saw: even the elves and their potent arcane powers could not withstand the might of the Amani—the might of the troll race. When the high elves went to war with the Amani trolls, the elves could not understand how the trolls' weapon enchantments were more powerful than their own. The elves then stole ancient knowledge from troll spellcasters, including the famous Zanza, and used stolen idols to craft their own versions of the troll enchantments.[13]

The expanding troll empire was not a threat only the elves were faced with. King Thoradin of Strom had also feared how far the Amani's ambitions would reach, and kept a careful eye on the intensifying war between the high elves and the Amani. Although he heard of much death and destruction in the elven homeland, he remained stubborn in his belief that intervening would put his own people at unnecessary risk. His opinion finally changed when high elf ambassadors sent by Anasterian told the king firsthand of the Amani's stark brutality and the demigods walking the land; surely, Strom would be next if Quel'Thalas were to fall. Convening with his advisors, the king agreed to form an alliance with the elves, but even so he doubted they had the power to destroy the Amani. They issued the elves an ultimatum: in return for Strom's military aid, the humans would be taught in the ways of magic. Elven magic was legendary among humans, but even Thoradin, deeply suspicious of sorcery, knew the humans needed it to win the battle.

Anasterian knew well the dangers of unchecked magic. He knew that teaching the arcane arts to humans could easily lead to disaster. Yet, as much as this troubled Anasterian, his own people were facing extinction. Knowing he had little choice, he agreed that one hundred—and only one hundred—humans would be tutored in the rudimentary ways of magic. Elven magi traveled to Strom and began their mentorship; over the course of many months, the elves were stunned at the natural affinity the humans had for magic, even if they lacked in grace and subtlety.

Human magi unleashing their powers on the Amani trolls.

Once the elves had finished tutoring the human magi, Arathor launched its offensive. Over twenty thousand human soldiers gathered at Alterac Mountains, and Thoradin himself led his armies to Quel'Thalas. The full might of Arathor's armies smashed into the Amani's rear flank, while the high elves began a heavy assault in the north and laid waste to the trolls' front lines. Though faced with enemies of both sides, Jintha remained confident in the Amani's victory, resolving to crush Arathor first and return to purge the elves from Quel'Thalas for good. Thoradin called for a retreat, and lured the voracious Amani into a deathtrap in the mountains of Alterac, whittling the trolls' numbers down on both fronts. The final battle took place outside of Quel'Thalas, and the Amani, stuck between the elves to the north and the humans to the south, took massive losses when the human magi (whose existence had been hidden), were revealed and unleashed. Alongside the elven sorcerers, the humans called upon their vast new powers. The humans pooled their energy together and wove a single terrible spell, engulfing the Amani ranks in a searing conflagration. Loa and troll alike fell and burned.

Jintha was among the first to fall. Leaderless, the Amani broke ranks and retreated north, but were hunted down and slaughtered at every turn. The disastrous battle shocked the Zandalari emissaries, who fled back to their island in shame and disbelief. For them, this defeat marked a dark turning point in history. Yet for Quel'Thalas, the war was the beginning of a glorious new era. For months after the conflict's end, celebrations graced the streets of Silvermoon. The grateful elves pledged their loyalty to Arathor and Thoradin's descendants.[14]

Beyond the borders

The territories of the Eastern Kingdoms prior to the First War.

Years passed, and Quel'Thalas continued its prosperous growth. When the kingdom of Dalaran was founded to the south, some of the elves traveled there to teach, study, and reside, including Quel'Thalas's own crown prince, Kael'thas Sunstrider, and future Grand Magister, Rommath. Silvermoon and Dalaran established an alliance that would continue for over 2,000 years to come.[15] Indeed, many of the Magisters of Quel'Thalas would study in Dalaran together with the Kirin Tor.[16]

At some point, the grandfather of King Terenas Menethil II successfully negotiated with Quel'Thalas to formally establish the border between the elven kingdom and Lordaeron.[17]

The Second War

Territories of the Horde and the Alliance during the Second War.

Nearly three thousand years later, shortly after the fall of the Kingdom of Azeroth, Anduin Lothar - the last blood descendant of King Thoradin - led his people across the Great Sea to Lordaeron, where he went before King Terenas and warned of the coming of the Orcish Horde. Terenas immediately called a council of the neighboring kings which led to the formation of the Alliance of Lordaeron. With Lothar named Supreme Commander, Terenas sent a missive to King Anasterian Sunstrider - himself a veteran of the Troll Wars millennia before - informing him of Lothar's lineage and the request for aid to the Alliance. At first, Anasterian reluctantly sent a token display of support in the form of a party led by Alleria Windrunner. The king himself was hesitant to fully involve Quel'Thalas in the war, and had hoped to remain impartial should the orcs not threaten his own kingdom.[11]

Not long afterwards, when Orgrim Doomhammer led the Horde's invasion of Quel'Thalas and began burning the edges of the Eversong Woods, it was discovered that the Horde was being aided by the elves' mortal enemies, the Amani, led by the cunning Zul'jin. The orcish necromancers had succeeding in subverting some of the runestones, allowing their magic free reign and their forces to approach the capital, though the invaders could not pierce Ban'dinoriel even with their red dragon servants. Alleria brought the head of a freshly slain troll warrior to the Convocation of Silvermoon, throwing it at Anasterian's feet. This provoked an intense rage within the King of Quel'Thalas, and he immediately called for the mobilization of his armies to battle the Horde. The elves provided many archers, rangers and destroyers to the conflict, and even craftsmen for the lumber mills of the Alliance. The effort was led by Sylvanas Windrunner, Ranger-General of Silvermoon. Making little progress, the orcs soon abandoned the battle in favour of besieging Lordaeron, and the Alliance forces pursued them. The Amani saw the orcs' withdrawal as a betrayal and chose instead to fight a hopeless, vicious battle in Quel'Thalas, only to be beaten back after considerable bloodshed.[18] Zul'jin himself was captured by the elven ranger Halduron Brightwing and his platoon, though narrowly escaped and went into hiding.

Return to seclusion

Quel'Thalas was, at best, a reluctant member of the Alliance.[19] In the wake of the Second War, humanity began to distance itself from Quel'Thalas,[20] and in turn the high elves came to view the deteriorating Alliance with increasing coldness.[20] King Anasterian himself felt betrayed by the Alliance's retreat to Lordaeron during the war, which left the elves to deal with the rampaging Amani trolls alone. Anasterian claimed that the Alliance had abandoned Quel'Thalas in its darkest hour, and while not all of the high elves agreed with him, enough did.[18] The tension eventually came to head when King Anasterian withdrew his support from the Alliance entirely. The official stance was that the humans' poor leadership resulted in the burning of Eversong Woods (even though Terenas reminded him of the many humans who gave their lives to protect Quel'Thalas); in addition, with Lothar dead and the Horde defeated, Anasterian believed that the debt to Thoradin and his descendants was repaid. With few exceptions - including some elven priests and sorceresses, as well as Anasterian's son and heir, Prince Kael'thas, a member of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran - the majority of the elven race shut themselves inside their enchanted kingdom.

Anasterian's decision to secede was the catalyst that led to both King Genn Greymane of Gilneas and Thoras Trollbane of Stromgarde to follow the high elven king's example, a domino effect that would soon have dire repercussions for the humans and elves alike.[21]

The fall of Quel'Thalas

Arthas Menethil leads the Scourge invasion of Quel'Thalas.
Main article: The Scourge invasion of Quel'Thalas

Several years later, the Plague of Undeath broke out in Lordaeron. Terenas' son Arthas, a paladin trained by Uther the Lightbringer himself, made efforts to stop the Plague from turning his beloved people into mindless undead raised to serve the Lich King, master of the Scourge. Instead, the whole chain of events appears to have been engineered by the Lich King himself to find a suitable host for his bodiless mind, and Arthas fell into despair and eventually madness. Traveling to Northrend, he forfeited his soul to the Lich King upon taking up the runeblade Frostmourne.

Now the greatest of the Lich King's death knights, Arthas traveled back to his homeland, murdered his father and all but obliterated the Kingdom of Lordaeron. With its fall, neighboring human nations converged on Lordaeron, hoping to vanquish the Scourge. Even Quel'Thalas, no longer a member of the Alliance, sent priests to combat the undead.[22]

Arthas was then tasked by Tichondrius, the leader of the Dreadlords and the Lich King's chief jailor, to resurrect the necromancer Kel'Thuzad - whom Arthas had killed not long before - so he could fulfill his appointed duty of summoning Archimonde into Azeroth. Tichondrius also told Arthas that there was only one suitable place to resurrect Kel'Thuzad - the mystic Sunwell, the source of the high elves' magic, deep inside Quel'Thalas.

The entrance to Quel'Thalas, named the Thalassian Pass, ravaged by the Scourge during their attack.

To reach the Sunwell, Arthas needed an insider, someone who could allow him to bypass the magical defenses of Quel'Thalas; he found one in Dar'Khan Drathir, a disillusioned magister. Dar'Khan, an egotistical and embittered man, believed he deserved more than he was receiving. Arthas preyed upon his ego, promising Dar'Khan untold power in exchange for his aid, and his loyalty. With the backing of his "Blessed Lord Arthas", Dar'Khan provided the Scourge with two powerful artifacts - the Stone of Light and the Stone of Flame - that had warding powers against the undead, allowing the Scourge armies to circumvent Quel'Thalas' formidable defenses. Thus, Arthas led the Scourge in a march of death up a path that today is known as the Dead Scar, across the Elrendar River into Eversong Woods, destroying one of the protective runestones on the edges of the forest.

The elves, in an attempt to stop the blight from spreading further into Eversong Woods, set the area around the destroyed runestone to the torch. But the armies of the Scourge pressed on, breaking through the Elfgates and through Silvermoon itself. Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner led the defense as best she could, but she fell to the power of Frostmourne. In a cruel gesture of dominance, Arthas took Sylvanas' lifeless body and ripped her spirit from it, creating the first banshee. Even the blade Quel'Delar, King Anasterian, Grand Magister Belo'vir, and the Convocation of Silvermoon were no match for Arthas and his legions, slaughtered with their people by the relentless tide of the mindless undead.

With Silvermoon in ruins and the elves broken and scattered, Arthas fulfilled his task and submerged the corpse of Kel'Thuzad within the waters of the Sunwell, fouling the potent waters of Eternity; the necromancer returned to the world of the living as a sorcerous lich.

When word of Quel'Thalas' fall reached Dalaran, Prince Kael'thas - now the last of his bloodline and de jure leader of the high elves - returned to his homeland and joined up with Lor'themar Theron and the survivors.

Rise of the blood elves

Kael'thas' return to his shattered kingdom was not a warm one. Rather than fighting to protect Quel'Thalas in its darkest hour, the prince had been absent in Dalaran. Many of the despondent survivors scorned him, claiming that Kael had always felt a greater kinship with that distant kingdom than Quel'Thalas itself. The prince could hardly fault them, for it was true, he had always felt distant from his insular, isolationist kingdom, and was far more open to the world beyond Quel'Thalas than many of his people. Still, Kael'thas loved his people more than they knew, and ruling the kingdom now fell to him. He swore to do all in his power to see it rebuilt and restored to its glory.

The prince attended the funeral of his father, surveyed the ruins of his kingdom, and finally examined the befouled Sunwell. The well, once the beating heart of high elf society, was now pulsating dark, necromantic energies that threatened to kill every elf bound to it. Kael'thas returned to Silvermoon and told his people a truth few were happy to hear: the Sunwell must be destroyed. Accompanied by a small raid, Kael'thas and his strongest magi teleported to Quel'Danas, where they bound and destroyed the Sunwell in an elaborate ritual. The ensuing detonation did huge damage to the undead and Amani warbands swarming the isle, and Kael'thas returned to Silvermoon triumphant. To the gathered high elves he spoke of the future, and renamed them the blood elves, sin'dorei in their native tongue, in honor of their perished king and kin. For all the hardships and sorrow in the blood elves' recent history, this new chapter would need to be one of healing and rebuilding if Quel'Thalas was to endure.

The loss of the Sunwell was immediately felt by the blood elves. Having spent every day of their lives bathed in its energies, they were left bereft, weakened by its absence, with an insatiable hunger to feed. A small portion of Silvermoon had been defensibly reclaimed, but most of Quel'Thalas remained in rubble and ruins, a wasteland haunted by phantoms and cadaverous undead. Kael'thas knew that true rebuilding would never be possible until the immediate threat of the Scourge running rampant through all of Lordaeron was dealt with. To this end, he named the seasoned ranger Lor'themar Theron his regent, gathered the healthiest of his warriors, and departed to do battle in the south.[23]

Reformations

The forests of Quel'Thalas as depicted on the official website. See Ghostlands for a depiction of the less fortunate south.

The Scourge invasion hugely changed the political scene of Quel'Thalas. With the deaths of roughly 90% of the kingdom's population (including its king, ranger-general, grand magister, and ruling council), many political decisions were made to fill the voids left.

New Allegiances

Although King Anasterian had seceded from the Alliance, Kael'thas joined up with the Alliance remnants battling in Lordaeron. But the Alliance's chain of command in the region had also changed significantly: the reigning grand marshal, Garithos, was a prejudiced man promoted by chance instead of merit. The grand marshal was bigoted towards non-human races and harbored a deep personal hatred of the elves in particular. He gave the blood elves tasks either far beneath their capabilities as warriors or - worse - suicidal. Kael'thas was forced to call upon the aid of the night elves (led by Malfurion Stormrage and Tyrande Whisperwind, hunting for Malfurion's brother Illidan) and, later, Lady Vashj and the naga. The naga presented themselves as misunderstood enemies of the Scourge -- their input had not only saved the lives of the blood elf soldiers, but also ensured the Alliance's flank remained protected during the battle for Dalaran -- but to Garithos, they were monsters no better than the undead.[24]

When Garithos discovered the naga had aided Kael and his brethren, he sentenced them to death for treason. Kael and his comrades were rescued by Vashj and her naga, who took them to Illidan in the wastes of Outland. Illidan won Kael'thas over with an understanding of his plight, and promised the prince a solution to the arcane hunger consuming his race; Kael'thas then pledged the loyalty of the blood elves to Illidan's cause. Settling in Outland with the rest of Illidan's forces, Kael'thas sent a magister named Rommath back to Quel'Thalas, with the promise that Kael'thas would one day return to lead the blood elves to paradise. Rommath rejoined Lor'themar, Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas, and informed him of Kael'thas' command to prepare the blood elves for their journey into the "promised land" beyond the Dark Portal.

Kael'thas's departure to Outland marked the beginning of a dark turn. He could not bear to return to his kingdom a failure and a fugitive with nothing to show for his people's hardships, and his hunger for magic grew ever worse. While sojourning on Outland he convinced a hesitant Illidan to share the secrets of fel magic with him; this damning switch soon became an addiction. His actions grew callous, he turned paranoid, and put himself in a position where Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, lord of the Burning Legion, could prey on his weaknesses and turn him into an ideal pawn to further the Deceiver's own plans, which Quel'Thalas was crucial to.

Meanwhile, in ruined Lordaeron, Sylvanas Windrunner and her free-willed Forsaken undead had killed Garithos and claimed Capital City as their own. The Forsaken holdings were tenuous, beset as they were by enemies on all sides. The banshee queen reached out to Quel'Thalas, seeking sanctuary; she had given her life to defend the kingdom and expected something in return for her sacrifice. Yet her request was refused. The blood elves feared the undead, suspecting a trick, and treated them as monsters.

Rebuilding

Little had changed in Quel'Thalas during the prince's absence. The Farstriders frequently struck out to battle the Scourge, but their enemy was inexorable, and the blood elves' debilitating hunger for magic was yet to be ameliorated. Meanwhile, Dar'Khan Drathir, risen from the grave to harry Quel'Thalas once more, haunted the kingdom he had betrayed. The Lich King, outwardly dormant atop his frozen throne, clashed with Malygos and his servant Kalecgos in a race to hoard the remnants of the Sunwell, which the red dragon Korialstrasz had hastily collected and transformed into a mortal guise, the human woman Anveena Teague. Drathir discovered her identity, and dragged her to Quel'Thalas for his own purposes. Sylvanas, Lor'themar, and the Farstriders allied with Kalec and his companions, and Anveena killed the great traitor once again. Anveena's true identity was to be kept a closely-guarded secret by Quel'Thalas' leadership, and she was put under protection at an undisclosed location within the kingdom. Kalecgos remained by her side.[25]

Silvermoon City, the capital of Quel'Thalas.

It was not until Rommath returned with Illidan's teachings - teachings smoothly attributed to Kael'thas - that the tides began to turn. Rommath taught his brethren the ability to siphon arcane magic from external sources, primarily mana-bearing creatures and objects. This proved invaluable to the beleaguered elves, most of whom were suffering from arcane withdrawal with the Sunwell's constant flow of energy gone, and lacking the strength to restore their beloved homeland. Rommath and the magi used their powerful magics to reclaim and rebuild the eastern half of Silvermoon City almost overnight, and the blood elves struck out to reclaim Eversong and push into the scoured south. Most of Eversong was restored, but the elves were more divided on how to approach the Ghostlands. Some were content to remain north, in the safety of Silvermoon; others would not rest until the Scourge was driven from Quel'Thalas entirely.[11]

Kael'thas also sent back M'uru to Quel'Thalas, a naaru guardian he had defeated in Tempest Keep. The blood elves learned to manipulate and harvest his holy energies, using them to empower a group of pseudo-paladins dubbed the Blood Knights. Under the leadership of the disillusioned former priestess Lady Liadrin, the knights rose to prominence in Quel'Thalas, their creed being to defend the kingdom from any and all threats.[26]

The New Horde

Although far more stable than it had been, Quel'Thalas was still in turmoil. Packs of undead roamed the land, and the Amani trolls began new attacks on the southern borders. Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron had few resources to defend his home: the kingdom's military was still in tatters, and the emergence of the Wretched, reckless magic addicts who had overused the technique of draining mana, had further weakened his people from within.

To make matters worse, Kael'thas had still not returned from Outland. The latest news Quel'Thalas had heard of its prince did not bode well: the Legion was amassing for reasons unknown, and Kael had suffered considerable defections from his own forces. Kael'thas was vulnerable, but Lor'themar could not leave Quel'Thalas undefended while he launched a campaign to assist the prince on Outland. Quel'Thalas needed allies, and it would no longer find them among the humans, dwarves, gnomes and night elves. Anasterian's secession from the Alliance still left bitter memories, and the Alliance had no interest in fighting for Quel'Thalas again.[27] Kael'thas' alliance with Illidan and Vashj had further soured relations between Quel'Thalas and the Alliance.

Assistance was offered from an unlikely source: again, Sylvanas Windrunner reached out to the blood elves. Their positions had been reversed: the Forsaken had firmly entrenched themselves in the ruins of Lordaeron, but Sylvanas presented herself as a sympathetic ally who had lost no love for her homeland and its people. The elves still feared deception, but relented at last, accepting her offers of aid. Forsaken troops traveled to the Ghostlands, where they reinforced the blood elf holdings and helped keep control of reclaimed outposts such as Tranquillien.

Some of the elves saw their former ranger-general as a hero who had given her life in Quel'Thalas' defense; others were suspicious of her motives and questioned whether the Dark Lady was truly still the Sylvanas they'd known. Still, the Forsaken's aid was indispensable in the years to come, and through this alliance Sylvanas introduced Lor'themar to the reformed Horde, which the Forsaken owed allegiance to. Sylvanas arranged Thrall and High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof to meet with the regent.

Despite the elves' history of warfare with the orcs, Lor'themar was receptive to the idea. He knew the modern Horde was different than the one which had ravaged Quel'Thalas in years past. He was also painfully aware that time was running out for both his people and his prince, and Quel'Thalas would not survive without allies. The regent accepted Sylvanas' overtures and met with the Horde's leaders.

Thrall and Cairne saw great promise in the blood elves. The people of Quel'Thalas had proved their courage and resolve while fighting to protect their kingdom from outside threats like the Scourge. Thrall and Cairne also believed that helping the blood elves would be an act of honor: like many races of the Horde, the sin'dorei were a people brought near to extinction, and were trapped in a struggle between restoring their once-glorious kingdom and their addiction to magic. They extended the hand of peace to Lor'themar, and the regent accepted. This alliance would prove beneficial for both the Horde and Quel'Thalas: the Horde gained much from another foothold on the Eastern Kingdoms, and the blood elves brought to the Horde's arsenal a mastery of the arcane it had previously been lacking. The Horde's support would allow the blood elves to reach their missing prince on Outland.[28]

Only one major obstacle preventing their becoming full members of the Horde remained: the Scourge that remained on the footsteps of Quel'Thalas, marching from their citadel of Deatholme at the southern terminus of the Dead Scar. There, the resurrected Dar'Khan Drathir directed the Scourge in Quel'Thalas; only his death allowed the blood elves to become equal members of the Horde.

Quel'Thalas after dark.

Attack on Zul'Aman

With most of the blood elves' soldiers occupied on Outland, Zul'jin of the Amani saw the opportunity to strike back at the elven kingdom at last. Zul'jin was a cunning leader, and his attacks were motivated by a deep hatred of Quel'Thalas as well as strategic reasons: Zul'jin was certain that Quel'Thalas would inevitably convince its new allies to deal with the Amani empire. Deep within their foreboding citadel of Zul'Aman, troll priests undertook rituals to harness the power of their loa, unleashing mighty creatures in the form of giant beasts. Their energies suffused the Amani soldiers. The Horde was desperate not to fight a two-pronged war – Outland and Quel'Thalas. The faction's mightiest champions volunteered to storm Zul'Aman. They did not have the strength to face the trolls' army directly, but they had no need to. The Horde's strike force slew Zul'jin himself, along with his priests, before their rampage in Quel'Thalas could even begin.[29]

The Prince and the Deceiver

Kil'jaeden, the lord of the Legion, had discovered a way to restore the Sunwell. He sensed the remnants of its power deep within Quel'Thalas, and dispatched his most cunning servants to assume blood elf forms and infiltrate the kingdom's inner circle. They learned the truth of Anveena, and Kil'jaeden knew that he could use her – the Sunwell's mortal avatar – as a gateway into Azeroth. The beleaguered prince, Kael'thas, was just as crucial to this plan as Anveena herself: the Legion's servants in the region were few, and could not hope to control the necessary areas of Quel'Thalas without the intimate knowledge Kael had of his kingdom, the resting place of the Sunwell, and its defenses. The Deceiver set in motion a plan to corrupt the prince to his side, and eventually succeeded. Between Illidan's ineffectual leadership, the many setbacks he'd suffered on Outland, his damning addiction to fel magic, and his feelings of personal failure, Kael'thas proved an amenable pawn. The wiser choice would have been to cut his losses and return to Quel'Thalas, but the prince would not do so without the salvation he had promised his people - which Kil'jaeden had promised to him.[30]

Lor'themar and his closest aides kept Anveena's true identity secret even from Kael'thas. He understood that Kael'thas was desperate to save their people, but that if he knew the truth he may act without considering the consequences: the Sunwell was now mortal, and none knew how, or whether, their well could be recreated. Quel'Thalas was already a wounded nation, and another disaster could destroy it forever.

Over time, Lor'themar's opinion changed. He worried constantly over Kael's fate on Outland, and rather than reaching the prince and his "promised land", the regent believed it was time for the prince to return home to his kingdom. He hoped to achieve this by telling Kael'thas about Anveena. However, Kil'jaeden, who knew that giving the prince hope of the Sunwell's restoration could ruin his carefully laid plans to turn Kael'thas into a pawn of the Legion, had his agents ensure Lor'themar's messages never reached Kael'thas. The demon lord needed Kael'thas to remain desperate, and to believe that only the Legion could offer him a future.[31]

Kael'thas could not hide his dark alliance forever. Kael'thas had left a bloody mark on Outland, and his most significant defectors -- the Scryers -- worked tirelessly to show their people that the sin'dorei would face destruction if they continue to follow Kael'thas. Many of the Horde's blood elves did not accept these stories at first. It was not until they arrived in Netherstorm and saw for themselves that the truth was laid bare. Kael'thas had embraced fel magic and become the Burning Legion's pawn; he was their prince no longer.[32]

Lady Liadrin before the restored Sunwell.

Word of this reached Lor'themar and the sin'dorei in Quel'Thalas. The news broke their hearts, but they came to a consensus: Kael'thas was lost, and it was their duty to vanquish him and end his treachery. The Horde made war on Kael'thas and his followers, assaulted his fortress of Tempest Keep, and defeated him in battle. Yet Kael'thas was not killed. Kil'jaeden had predicted his defeat, and prepared accordingly: the demons spirited him away and kept him alive with fel magic, ensuring his survival at the cost of his remaining sanity -- he was now Kil'jaeden's servant, and would do whatever was asked of him.

Fury of the Sunwell

North of Quel'Thalas, Kael'thas and his last loyal soldiers invaded the Isle of Quel'Danas, the Sunwell's resting place. Under Kil'jaeden's direction, Kael'thas captured both M'uru and Anveena, and took them to the Sunwell Plateau. The fallen prince leeched their powers, supplementing them with the arcane energy harvested on Outland, and rekindled the Sunwell's energies as a gateway through which his master could enter Azeroth. As he worked, some blood elves informed the Horde leadership of what was transpiring. One of these leaders was Liadrin, the Blood Knight matriarch, who had witnessed Kael seize M'uru from Silvermoon herself. She travelled to Shattrath to renounce her loyalty to Kael'thas and vow to destroy the Burning Legion. Her assistance was welcomed, and added the blades of her Blood Knights to the newly-formed Shattered Sun Offensive.[33]

The Shattered Sun Offensive marched on the Sunwell and began battle with Kael'thas' forces. Though constantly besieged by demons, Liadrin and her allies had an impact. They disrupted Kael'thas's spellwork long enough for more help to arrive.

Members of the Horde and Alliance soon converged on the Sunwell and stood alongside the Shattered Sun Offensive. Liadrin directed the Horde's champions to hunt down Kael'thas in the Magisters' Terrace. Though the twisted prince had grown more powerful since his defeat at Tempest Keep, the Horde slew him and ended his threat once and for all. Kael'thas, who had fallen with a cry for Quel'Thalas on his lips upon his defeat at Tempest Keep, met death a ranting madman. His death marked the downfall of the Sunstrider dynasty. Meanwhile, the Alliance assaulted the Sunwell Plateau, and began battle with Kil'jaeden himself once the demon lord had torn his way through the Sunwell. The Alliance's efforts had little effect until Anveena sacrificed her own existence, expending what was left of her energy to weaken the demon lord; it was just enough to banish him and close his gateway into Azeroth.

The Burning Crusade was halted, but there were consequences. Kael'thas' meddling had tainted the Sunwell. As before, corruptive energies coursed through the fount, and they would soon spread throughout Quel'Thalas and engulf the blood elves. Lor'themar Theron and his followers considered destroying the Sunwell again, but another solution presented itself.

Velen, prophet of the draenei, had come to the Sunwell to pay his respects to M'uru. Little was left of the naaru, save for its heart. Velen sensed a glimmer of power – of hope – in what remained of M'uru. He used the naaru's heart to cleanse the Sunwell and transform it into a fount of Holy Light and arcane magic. Its brilliant energy blazed across land and sky for all in Quel'Thalas to see, and Velen noted that this would be the first step to rebirth the soul of the nation.[34]

This turn of events had a profound effect on the blood elves and their kingdom. The Sunwell was reborn, and its return heralded a promising future for Quel'Thalas. With the fount to draw on, the elves no longer needed to scavenge elsewhere to satisfy their cravings for magic, and the blood elf paladins, who once wielded the Light through discordant and unsustainable means, could now access their powers through the Sunwell.[35]

Then and now

Modern Quel'Thalas, high home of the elves.
Lord Lor'themar Theron on his throne.

The past few years had seen unprecedented changes in the eternal realm of Quel'Thalas, from one near-calamity to another. With the restoration of the Sunwell, a bright future now lies ahead for Quel'Thalas.[36]

Reinvigorated, the blood elves fight to protect Quel'Thalas, conquer their magical addiction with the Sunwell's sustainment, and help redeem the soul of their ancient people.[37]

In the wake of Prince Kael'thas's betrayal, Lor'themar Theron has become the de facto leader of the country, continuing to style himself as its Regent Lord. With the Isle of Quel'Danas back under blood elf control, the Sunwell has been reinforced and open only to native visitations.[38] The remnants of the Sunfury forces have also returned home following the Invasion of Outland, put to the task of defending Quel'Thalas's borders with the Farstriders.[39] Quel'Thalas was likely the first target for the new troll empire brewing in Zul'Aman. Ranger-general Halduron Brightwing joined forces with Darkspear Chieftain Vol'jin and Vereesa Windrunner to counter this threat.

Following the Purge of Dalaran, Archmage Aethas Sunreaver (and the escaped Sunreavers themselves) returned home to Quel'Thalas. In response, the Thalassian leadership moved to assemble their forces, noting that the time had come for the blood elves to take matters into their own hands.

Lor'themar moves the Sunreaver Onslaught forces against the Kirin Tor Offensive to lay claim to Emperor Lei Shen's island stronghold and the treasures contained therein. Lor'themar's reasoning is twofold: for justice, and to claim the emperor's weaponry for himself, as leverage against Garrosh. Lor'themar suspects that a Horde uprising is on the cards, and believes it is best to be prepared for it. Ultimately, the Regent Lord acquires the leverage he had sought to find on the isle: heroes of the Horde deliver to the regent lord a crystal charged with the power of the Dark Animus, which Lor'themar uses to re-empower a dormant Animus Golem at the promontory. Lor'themar puts his top archmages to the task of extensively studying it to harnessing their power as leverage against Garrosh should the Horde fall to anarchy..[40]

Following the declaration of rebellion against Garrosh, the blood elves sent reinforcements across the sea from Lordaeron, planning to regroup them with the rest of the rebels to make the final push against the True Horde.

With the massive Iron Horde invasion, Liadrin commands a force named the Sunsworn, a military force of blood elves. Headed by the Blood Knights, they have combined forces with rangers and magi and based themselves in Talador. They have also deployed the blood elves' recently-acquired blood golem technology.

During preparations for the Battle for Broken Shore, a group of blood elf paladins use the power of the Sunwell to enchant their Horde allies' weapons with holy might. The priests of Netherlight Temple later retrieve a fragment of Light from the Sunwell, among other holy places on Azeroth.

Liadrin and Rommath in Suramar.

Later, during the Nightfallen rebellion, many portals were created between Silvermoon and Suramar. The blood elven forces arrived to Meredil from the city to support the nightfallen rebels in their attempt to seize the city from its Burning Legion-aligned masters.

Silvermoon and Suramar City maintained good relations following the nightborne rebellion and Thalyssra's rise to power. Lor'themar, seeing much in common between the sin'dorei and shal'dorei kingdoms, invited their new leader to Silvermoon for a visit; Thalyssra soon after pledged Suramar to the Horde. The regent also entertained Alleria Windrunner, who had come in an attempt to convince Silvermoon to leave the Horde and ally with the Alliance, but this offer was rejected. Alleria instead sought out exiles from Silvermoon who had been banished for dabbling in the void, which the blood elf leaders consider a threat to the Sunwell and all Quel'Thalas.[41][42]

Notable leaders

History Highborne exile Kingdom of Quel'Thalas Fall of Quel'Thalas Rise of the blood elves
Ruler Dath'Remar Sunstrider Unknown Anasterian Sunstrider Kael'thas Sunstrider
Lor'themar Theron
Lor'themar Theron

Geography

Main article: Quel'Thalas

Notes

  • There is some inconsistency with Quel'Thalas' pre-Third War color scheme. Several sources that detail pre-Third War Quel'Thalas (including official art, the manga, and the Trading Card Game) depict it with architecture identical to what's seen in-game, white buildings tinted red and gold. Among them is the ultimate edition of the Sunwell Trilogy; its prologue is a flashback to Dath'Remar's founding of Quel'Thalas, and shows him personally erecting the red-tinted architecture, including both Silvermoon and the Sunwell Plateau. Senior Blizzard historian Sean Copeland also confirmed that the buildings were always been tinted red, pointing to the above as the prime example.[43] However, The World of Warcraft: Chronicle's depiction of old Quel'Thalas shows its architecture tinted turquoise, and its brief appearance in Sylvanas' Heroes of the Storm trailer essentially gives it a palette swap from its modern red-and-whites to blue-and-whites. It was also teal-colored in Warcraft III. This is odd, as the ruined portions of the kingdom in World of Warcraft are red-and-white.
  • Quel'Thalas and Suramar are the only Horde-aligned member states specifically referred to as kingdoms. The many similarities between them have been acknowledged in-universe.[44]
  • In early builds of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Quel'Thalas was much more involved in the military of the Alliance of Lordaeron, deploying rangers as hero units, as well as dragonhawk riders and mage-priests.

Speculation

Questionmark-medium.png
This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Succession?

With the fall of the Sunstrider dynasty, Quel'Thalas no longer has a clear line of succession. Although power was transferred from Kael'thas to his regent, Lor'themar Theron, neither man has any surviving family members and Theron does not wish to start his own dynasty,[19] continuing to call himself regent lord. Furthermore, Kael'thas decreed that his father would be the last king of Quel'Thalas, and thus far this has been respected. If Lor'themar were to fall, it is possible that, in the absence of a designated successor, Grand Magister Rommath would come into power; his current station is arguably the highest in the kingdom below Lor'themar's. Alternatively, power might pass to Halduron Brightwing as Quel'Thalas' military leader.

References

  1. ^ Nathanos Blightcaller
  2. ^ In the Shadow of the Sun
  3. ^ In the Shadow of the Sun
  4. ^ Blood of the Highborne
  5. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
  6. ^ Traveler: The Spiral Path, chapter 17
  7. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 120
  8. ^ Traveler: The Spiral Path, chapter 17
  9. ^ Rosenberg, Aaron. Tides of Darkness, 207. ISBN 978-1-4165-3990-2. 
  10. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 120
  11. ^ a b c Blood of the Highborne
  12. ^  [Ilterendi, Crown Jewel of Silvermoon]
  13. ^  [Eerie Smolderthorn Idol]
  14. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 130-131
  15. ^ H [90] What's in the Box?
  16. ^ Esara Verrinde gossip text - Dalaran & the Magisters
  17. ^ Day of the Dragon
  18. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2
  19. ^ a b Ultimate Visual Guide
  20. ^ a b Beyond the Dark Portal, pg 60
  21. ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/High Elves
  22. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, page 54
  23. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 88
  24. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 93
  25. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 104
  26. ^ H Paladin [60] A Demonstration of Loyalty
  27. ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Blood Elves
  28. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 150
  29. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 158
  30. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 139
  31. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 145
  32. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 156
  33. ^ Lady Liadrin#Meeting with A'dal
  34. ^ Sunwell Plateau epilogue
  35. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 159
  36. ^ Races of Warcraft: Blood Elves
  37. ^ Blood Elf intro post-Cataclysm
  38. ^ B [80] Journey To The Sunwell
  39. ^ In the Shadow of the Sun
  40. ^ H [90R] Life Blood
  41. ^ H [110] Silvermoon City
  42. ^ H [110] Remember the Sunwell
  43. ^ Sean Copeland on Twitter (dead link) (10 Apr 2014)
  44. ^ H [110] The Call for Allies