- This article is about the armed conflict over Suramar City. For the race of diminished nightborne, see Nightfallen. For the reputation faction, see Nightfallen (faction). For The Nightfallen's emissary quest, see .
Coup in Suramar
Decisive Nightfallen victory
- “Behold, Suramar. Our haven. Our sanctuary. Our prison.
Elisande and the Legion seek to bring us to heel. Through fear. Through hunger.
The flame of the shal'dorei flickers. We must re-ignite it. We must stir the noble hearts of my people.
You must show them that Azeroth has not forsaken them.”
The Nightfallen rebellion was a civil conflict between forces of the Nightfallen resistance led by First Arcanist Thalyssra and those loyal to the regime of Grand Magistrix Elisande, in the region of Suramar on the Broken Isles. The rebellion was formed in opposition to the Grand Magistrix's decision to allow the demonic Burning Legion access to Suramar City and the sacred Nightwell in exchange for sparing the lives of the city's denizens.
Although small initially, the rebellion began to grow in numbers and power due to both outside assistance in the form of class orders, and the callous policies of Elisande. The movement was based from the underground complex of Shal'Aran in western Suramar, and was in open conflict with the Grand Magistrix's larger forces based out of Suramar City.
The insurgents' ultimate goal was the overthrow of Elisande's regime, and the expulsion of all demonic forces from the city. The rebels largely used covert tactics, working to weaken the regime in Suramar from within while gaining the support of the city's populace.
Having secured immense gains, and enlisting the aid of the Kirin Tor, night elves, high elves, and blood elves, the rebels eventually launched an assault on the city itself, and even succeeded in laying siege to the Nighthold, Elisande's seat of power and location of the Nightwell. With their allies in tow, the Nightfallen staged a final assault on the citadel, seeking to end the Burning Legion's grip on Suramar permanently. Within the Nighthold, they would defeat both Elisande and Gul'dan, gaining full control of Suramar and finally liberating the nightborne people.
Prelude: the failed coup
When the Burning Legion commenced its third invasion of Azeroth, it emerged on the Broken Isles and quickly made contact with the nearby nightborne civilization in Suramar City. Since the War of the Ancients, the nightborne, under the leadership of Grand Magistrix Elisande, had maintained an arcane shield around their city, cutting them off from the remainder of the world for over 10,000 years. The principle source of energy for this shield was the Nightwell, a font of immense power that soon drew the attention of the invading demons. The orc warlock Gul'dan, responsible for the Legion's arrival, approached the Grrand Magistrix and her closest advisors with an offer: if they would allow the Burning Legion access to the city and, more importantly, the Nightwell, then the nightborne people would be spared and welcomed as allies by the Legion.
The question of what to do remained controversial among Elisande's advisors, with First Arcanist Thalyssra the most outspoken opponent of agreeing to the demons' demands. Reluctantly, the Grand Magistrix finally decided to accept Gul'dan's proposal, believing it to be the only way to save Suramar. In response to this, Thalyssra and Advisor Melandrus, along with several other nightborne, organized a preemptive coup d'état with the aim of eliminating Elisande to prevent the city's surrender.
The plan began to fall apart when the group was ambushed; only Thalyssra and Melandrus succeeded in making it towards the Nighthold. Before the plan could progress any farther however, Melandrus betrayed Thalyssra, revealing himself as having been loyal to Elisande and stabbing the First Arcanist through the back before pushing her from a platform. With the plot botched, Suramar's shield was, soon afterwards, lowered without opposition, and the Burning Legion moved to occupy the city.
Despite sustaining critical injuries, First Arcanist Thalyssra managed to survive Melandrus's betrayal and escaped into the wilds of the surrounding region after witnessing the lowering of the shield. In a bad condition and lamenting her failure to save her people, Thalyssra nevertheless resolved to oppose Elisande and the Legion for as long as she could.
Soon after fleeing the city, Thalyssra created a spell that sent waves of magical energy out in all directions which contained an encrypted message, a cry for help. Archmage Khadgar, leader of the Kirin Tor (a group also opposing the Legion's invasion), successfully intercepted and deciphered the secret message in Dalaran. Wasting no time, he dispatched an agent to Suramar to investigate.
Khadgar's adventurer soon picked up Thalyssra's trail and located her near the ruins at Meredil. The two overcame waves of hostile withered (nightborne starved of the Nightwell's energies) in the area, eventually taking refuge in a large, ancient, underground ruin known as Shal'Aran that the withered avoided. From this base, Thalyssra informed her new ally of all that had transpired, and began taking steps to recruit others who were opposed to Elisande's regime, and thus form a resistance movement.
The fledgling resistance, calling themselves the Nightfallen, soon secured the support of Chief Telemancer Oculeth, a master of teleportation magic; Arcanist Valtrois, an expert on the leyline feeds around Suramar that could power Shal'Aran; and the noblewoman Ly'leth Lunastre, who possessed powerful connections among the nightborne aristocracy.
While beginning their efforts to oppose the Grand Magistrix, the Nightfallen uncovered the research of Arcanist Kel'danath who experimented with the withered. One of Kel'danath's subjects, known only as 'Subject 16', was also discovered and was notable to being unusually passive. By delving into his memories, Thalyssra was able to discover the cause of Subject 16's unusual demeanor—a mysterious arcan'dor seed located in Moonshade Sanctum. Thalyssra's agent returned from the Sanctum with the seed, as well as its ancient night elven keeper Valewalker Farodin. Farodin planted the seed in the central pedestal in Shal'Aran, where in time it would grow into a full arcan'dor tree of great power.
The Nightfallen were aided in their movement around the city region by the creation and expansion of a teleportation system, based from Shal'Aran, and overseen by Chief Telemancer Oculeth. Using this, the rebels were able to enter Suramar directly, without having to get through the perimeter.
At this time, the Nightfallen also began to carry out their first covert actions in Suramar City, primarily aimed at disrupting the work of Elisande's forces while loosening her grip on the city by gaining the support of the nightborne people. Many of Suramar's citizens were uneasy with their city's alliance with the Burning Legion, and were further outraged at the sight of demons patrolling their streets. This was mainly restricted to the lower classes in shal'dorei society however, as the vast majority of the nightborne nobility remained staunchly loyal to Elisande. To curb dissent, and in response to rebel operations throughout the city, Grand Magistrix Elisande instituted rationing on the general population, restricting he supply of the arcwine which provided the people with the energy from the Nightwell they required.
These harsh measures alienated many and gained sympathy for the Nightfallen, when they helped to distribute arcwine to the needy, often utilizing Suramar's numerous canal ways. The Waning Crescent in southern Suramar, operated by the rebel sympathizer Vanthir, became the centre of the arcwine distribution operation of the Nightfallen. As a result, this area also represented a large hot-spot for insurgent activity in the city. In this southern area of the city, guard patrols were frequently assaulted and citizens detained by the Duskwatch were forcibly released, although the authorities were unable to effectively catch the rebels.
The Nightfallen eventually sought to use the techniques of the Twilight Vineyards in the city to maintain the health and stability of the growing arcan'dor, and made contact with the vintner Margaux, who agreed to aid them. Due to the recent rationing, and the importance of the vineyards to the city, the compound had received additional security under the Grand Magistrix's orders. Thalyssra's agent was successful in securing the Shadescale Flyeaters needed for the arcan'dor, although Margaux herself was confronted by Elisande's representative Overseer Durant, who accused her of treason. Under the overseer's orders, Margaux was executed on the spot, which sparked outrage among the rebels when the news was delivered to them. They quickly set about avenging Margaux's death and assassinated Durant shortly afterwards.
In order to gain inside knowledge of Elisande's plans, the Nightfallen jumped at the opportunity when the position of a new advisor to the Grand Magistrix was announced. Ly'leth Lunastre, her involvement with the Nightfallen still a secret, hoped to win this position in order to further the rebels' cause. With the aid of Thalyssra's adventurer, Ly'leth was able to secure the support of the majority of Suramar's noble families, while eliminating any competition. With Elisande in attendance, Ly'leth prepared to accept the position during a ceremony in the Sanctum of Order. Before this could happen, however, Coryn of House Stelleris entered and challenged her to Tal'ashar — an honor duel, the winner claiming the title. Ly'leth chose to send a champion (a disguised member of the resistance) in her stead to duel Coryn atop the Sanctum of Order. Emerging victorious, the champion secured for Ly'leth the title, which she then claimed unopposed. Ly'leth's new position proved invaluable to the Nightfallen, who now possessed a spy on the inside.
Ly'leth's new position began to immediately pay off as she aided a small group of Thalyssra's agents in infiltrating the Court of Stars during a gala, with the objective of assassinating the Grand Magistrix, who would be in attendance. Making their way through the area, these champions successfully reached the Elisande, conversing with Advisor Melandrus (and in particular, berating him for his failure to kill Thalyssra). Elisande quickly teleported away, tasking Melandrus with slaying the insurgents. After a battle, however, Melandrus was slain and Thalyssra, though sorry to hear of Elisande's escape, was pleased to learn of the death of her betrayer.
Around the same time, Arcanist Valtrois also tasked a group of champions with assaulting the Arcway—a series of abandoned tunnels running underneath the city—and securing a map of Suramar's ley lines located there. Fighting through the tunnels, the party discovered and eliminated General Xakal, tasked by the Burning Legion with overseeing an invasion force prepared to seize the city should Elisande prove disloyal. Ultimately, the heroes were confronted by Advisor Vandros, one of Elisande's lieutenants. Despite a heated fight, Vandros was defeated and the ley line map returned to Valtrois in Shal'Aran.
During this time, Nightfallen operations continued within Suramar City. Thalyssra's rebels also began to prioritize attacks in the city's eastern districts, where many of the nightborne nobles loyal to Elisande, as well as many of the demonic occupying force, resided. One such attack occurred when the Nightfallen released the devilsaur Su'esh from the city's menagerie, leading to a rampage that killed many of Elisande's forces. The rebellion also targeted key individuals who represented obstacles to the city's liberation, assassinating them one by one to weaken the power of the Grand Magistrix within Suramar. The insurgents were aided in their efforts by a host of valuable contacts throughout the city, such as Arluin, an informant in the Evermoon Bazaar.
Through an agent, the Nightfallen managed to obtain a from the Emerald Dream itself in order to stabilize the failing arcan'dor, allowing it to continue to thrive. As the conflict progressed, the ley line feeds located around the Suramar region continued to be brought back online in order to divert more power to the base at Shal'Aran. The resistance also recruited and trained more withered in preparation for an assault on the city.
A Change of Seasons
Eventually, the arcan'dor within Shal'Aran neared maturity, but to transition it required a staggering amount of power. The Nightfallen leaders subsequently formulated a plan to create a manastorm using the Nightflow Conduit in the Arcway. The resulting energy would then be channeled towards Shal'Aran and into the arcan'dor, feeding it. Thalyssra, her champion, and Arluin then infiltrated the Arcway, fighting their way through increased security to reach the Nightflow Conduit, and activated the Ephemeral Manastorm Projector to create the manastorm. The device, however, malfunctioned and the trio were caught in the eye of the manastorm. Arluin, sacrificing himself, left Thalyssra's protective shield and deactivated the projector.
Oculeth then quickly teleported the group back to Shal'Aran, where Thalyssra comforted Arluin as he succumbed to his wounds. Despite the consequences of the mission, the arcan'dor received the energy it required to mature. Thalyssra, Valtrois, and Oculeth became the first of the nightborne to consume the arcan'dor's fruit, which would free them from their dependence on the Nightwell and restore them from their withered forms.
As the conflict in Suramar heightened many refugees began fleeing the city, often to the Nightfallen headquarters at Shal'Aran. After the successful raid on the Arcway and the maturing of the arcan'dor, the rebels began to distribute the tree's fruit to many of these refugees, curing them of their dependency on the Nightwell. As a result of the rebellion's recent successes, Grand Magistrix Elisande began to grow more erratic and ruthless in her efforts to quell the revolt.
For many, the breaking point came with the massacre at the Waning Crescent. Elisande, in an act that shocked many (even her supporters), ordered the slaughter of all civilians in the Waning Crescent area of the city, a known rebel support base. Deploying demons as well as nightborne, Elisande's forces massacred the majority of the district's citizens, with only a handful of civilians escaping with the aid of the Nightfallen. Following the attack, the rebels relocating their base of operations in the area to the nearby Evermoon Terrace, where they continued their work.
The massacre at the Waning Crescent, as it became known, proved to many that Elisande no longer had her people's best interests at heart. In its wake, even members of the Duskwatch, in the past the Grand Magistrix's loyal enforcers, began to desert from her side. Those who changed sides inevitably joined with the Nightfallen, chief among them Victoire.
News reached Thalyssra and the Nightfallen that Elisande's forces, along with demons, were rounding up citizens and keeping them in chains at Astravar Harbor. Those who were transported away did not return, which caused the Nightfallen to investigate. A group consisting of Thalyssra, her champion, Silgryn, and Victoire succeeded in discovering the nightborne prisoners' destination. They arrived at a Burning Legion camp known as Felsoul Advance, where the demons were harvesting the captive citizens' souls for their own use. Wasting no time, the party killed the demon in charge of the camp, the eredar Aargoss, while releasing many of the surviving prisoners. Despite the damage inflicted on the operation, Silgryn concluded that it was only temporary, buying time.
Soon after, Ly'leth contacted Thalyssra with information on the whereabouts of Vanthir, who disappeared during the massacre at the Waning Crescent. She had learned that Vanthir had been captured, and that Elisande was planning to make a public example of him as a message to the rebellion. Thalyssra was able to track Vanthir's arcane essence, and thus discern his location: at the Terrace of Order. Thalyssra's agent, as well as Silgryn and Arluelle, quickly confronted Vanthir's captor, Thoramir, the Second Blade of Elisande. After defeating him in battle, the group hastened to Vanthir's cage, where they discovered him in a nearly-withered state. Upon being fed a fruit from the arcan'dor, however, he began to return from the brink. Before fleeing the scene, the rebels made a demonstration of their own by placing the sign of the Dusk Lily above the empty cage. As a symbol of both First Arcanist Thalyssra and the resistance, this display left the Grand Magistrix and her closest supporters deeply shaken.
Open and armed insurrection in Suramar's streets also started to begin in earnest, heightening tensions between the two sides.
To aid the growing rebellion within Suramar, Archmage Khadgar issued a call to any who could spare forces to help. Two groups ultimately responded, the kaldorei and quel'dorei, and the sin'dorei, led by High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, Ranger-General Vereesa Windrunner, and Lady Liadrin respectively. Each faction sent an expeditionary force to siege the main entrance to Suramar City and although they now faced a common enemy, they remained bitterly divided over historical, racial, and cultural differences. Despite this disunity, these new reinforcements were effectively able to establish a base of operations on the outskirts of the city, and prepare for an impending invasion.
In response to this new threat, large amounts of the Duskwatch and other forces loyal to Elisande were dispatched to hold the Grand Promenade. The Burning Legion also began amassing troops nearby and attempted to open portals to summon further reinforcements, though this was largely foiled by rebel agents. These agents, with the aid of forces from the newly-arrived elven coalition, also carried out several other operations to disrupt the city's defenses and weaken the defenders.
In preparation for the impending assault on the city, the Nightfallen began to arm and train many of the refugees who had fled the city previously. Salvaging weapons from Black Rook Hold, they quickly amassed a sizeable force of militia, eager to take back Suramar. Though Duskwatch agents succeeded in infiltrating the elven camps, they were eventually rooted out and neutralized by the Nightfallen. Elisande's forces made numerous attempts to flank or rout the enemy forces, such as reactivating the powerful construct known as the Arm of the Magistrix. A force of demons led by the pitlord Rozzeleth also attempted to flank the elven army by marching on Meredil, though he was successfully intercepted and destroyed by the Nightfallen.
March on Suramar
In time, the elven army outside Suramar City readied itself for the final assault on Elisande's defences. Leading the first wave, Lady Liadrin and her sin'dorei Blood Knights, as well as a force of Nightfallen militia, engaged the Duskwatch vanguard defending the city's perimeter. The blood elves, aided by their pyrestar demolishers, gradually cut a path through the Duskwatch, pushing through the Grand Promenade towards the Concourse of Destiny and the city proper. After overcoming waves of nightborne, and several of their arcane constructs, Liadrin's forces halted to consolidate their position while Tyrande Whisperwind and her mounted sentinels rode on ahead towards Astravar Harbor.
The combined force of night elves and Nightfallen attacked the new lines of Duskwatch defenders, breaking through and pushing onward across the Concourse of Destiny. Along the way, Kirin Tor mages took up position along the route of advance to hold the ground gained. On approaching Astravar Harbor, Chief Telemancer Oculeth engineered a mass teleportation spell with the aid of Archmage Khadgar, transporting a large force of defenders over the edge of the bridge and clearing a path to the harbor.
Having secured a staging point in the upper sections of Astravar Harbor, Kirin Tor and Nightfallen forces began fortifying the position in preparation for an assault on the Nighthold. The combined blood elf, night elf, and high elf force took a brief period of time to gather their troops and siege equipment. When all was prepared, the elven army began marching on the gates of the Nighthold itself. On approaching the citadel's entrance, Grand Magistrix Elisande appeared as a large projection and addressed the gathered force with disdain. Citing their inferiority, Elisande systematically began pointing out the apparent flaws of each of the gathered elven races, treating them with a cold contempt. When finished, the Grand Magistrix immediately cast an immense spell which, within moments, trapped the entire army in a great time lock enchantment. With the entire army frozen in time Khadgar, having barely escaped the blast, hastily investigated the scene. Although he was able to free Tyrande and Liadrin, the spell's power was such that the Archmage was forced to retreat.
- “Behold this motley throng in which the rebels put their faith.
Kaldorei? You disgrace a glorious past, hiding in trees and cloaking yourselves in false piety. You have grown as savage as the trolls that skulk about your forests.
Quel'dorei? You are peasants playing at nobility, all too willing to mingle with lesser races that dilute your bloodline. You are unworthy of the name high elves.
Sin'dorei? Of all the elves, I thought you might understand the choice I made to save my people. Instead, you ally with misfits and monsters.
Each of you has debased your proud lineage. Each of you has forgotten the ancient power that is our birthright.
Let this failed rebellion be a lesson to any that would stand against the shal'dorei!”
- — Elisande's retort
Breaking the Nighthold
Thalyssra and the remaining rebels were shaken by the event, and resigned themselves to finding a way around the impasse. They attempted to uncover the recent messages sent by Ly'leth Lunastre from inside the Nighthold, whose communications had ceased as of late, indicating something was amiss. After a raid on a Duskwatch listening post on the Terrace of Enlightenment, the Nightfallen uncovered the intercepted messages from Ly'leth, who warned of Elisande's plans and revealed the existence of a breach in the Sanctum of Order that presented an alternate—and vulnerable—way into the Nighthold.
Using this information, Thalyssra sent a champion and Arcanist Valtrois to examine the supposed breach underneath the Sanctum of Order. Finding the location, heavily guarded, they fought their way to the breach itself, where it was discovered to be sealed by a powerful magical barrier. Valtrois examined the barrier, which was being powered not by the Nightwell, but by Suramar's tapped ley lines. Departing to investigate the ley lines, Valtrois quickly began working on a method to bring down the barrier guarding the breach.
Shortly thereafter, a message was delivered to Shal'Aran by courier, directed to Thalyssra. The message, from Elisande's newly-appointed First Arcanist Andaris Narassin, mocked the Thalyssra's efforts, and challenged her to meet them at the Lunastre Estate in the city. Wasting no time, Thalyssra and her champion traveled to the estate and confronted Andaris, who appeared only as a projection. Thalyssra deployed a group of trained withered, though they were easily killed by the nearby felborne, who also injured the Nightfallen leader. Before retreating, the rebels ensured to save as many of the estate's civilian attendants as possible, who were being terrorized by Andaris's felborne.
Shaken by the ease at which fel magic had defeated the withered, Thalyssra and the Nightfallen began to train them in and around nearby Felsoul Hold to allow them to build up a resistance to the demon magic. The operation proved a success, coupled with the development of new experimental telemancy orbs by Oculeth, allowing the withered to be summoned instantly. To test the effectiveness of this progress, the Nightfallen used the withered to attack and slaughter a large force of felborne at an outpost in the Crimson Thicket, including their leader Valthis Ama'ran.
The rebels soon put in place a plan to bring down the barrier under the Sanctum of Order. By placing energy disruptors at key locations around the Suramar region, the links that drew the power from the ley lines to power the barrier were simultaneously broken, causing the way to the Nighthold to become vulnerable. Immediately after bringing down the barrier, the Nightfallen moved to secure the breach and, after breaching the Sanctum of Order, were confronted by a zealous Andaris Narassin. Using the new fel-resistance withered to drain the her shield and defences, the rebels succeeded in slaying Elisande's new First Arcanist and thus clearing a path directly to the breach. Joined by Khadgar, Thalyssra and the rebels prepared to gather their forces for the final assault on the Nighthold, to end the threat of Elisande and the Burning Legion in Suramar permanently.
The invading force pushed its way through the Nighthold's subterranean underground, destroying the Chronomatic Anomaly and thus freeing their time-trapped forces outside the fortress. Soon, the assault began on the main courtyard itself; there, they defeated Spellblade Aluriel, the Captain of Elisande's Guard, and her forces before advancing into the other wings. The demonic garrison, including Tichondrius and Krosus, as well as the nightborne defenders were eventually overwhelmed by the attack. Many of Elisande's top lieutenants and supporters such as Star Augur Etraeus and High Botanist Tel'arn were slain, as the insurgents converged on the Nightspire.
Within the inner reaches of the palace, the Nightfallen champions finally came face-to-face with Elisande herself, who now marshaled all her powers to annihilate the invaders. Despite her efforts, she was subsequently killed. Following this, an echo of the Grand Magistrix spoke to the rebels, expressing disbelief at their continued success and resolving to aid them in the final battle against Gul'dan. With this, they confronted the warlock atop the Nightspire and ultimately thwarted his scheme after a significant battle, which resulted in Gul'dan's demise. In the wake of this fight, the infamous Illidan Stormrage was returned to his body, with the Legion's plans broken, and became active once more.
The deaths of Grand Magistrix Elisande and Gul'dan within the Nighthold would decisively bring an end to the civil war in Suramar. The Burning Legion, its plans dashed, was driven from the region and turned its attention to other areas of its unfolding invasion. With this, the nightborne would finally gain their independence and freedom from the demon occupation.
Shortly after the victory in the Nighthold, Thalyssra returned to the palace to deal with the urgent question of what to do with the Nightwell. Accompanied by Oculeth and Valtrois, the First Arcanist would discover that the font of power was unstable, and dying without the Eye of Aman'thul.
Valtrois would suggest stabilizing the Nightwell, allowing the nightborne to harness its powers once more though they were no longer addicted to them. Ultimately, however, Thalyssra decided to allow the font to die, arguing that the Nightwell belonged in Suramar's troubled past, and that the future and destiny of the nightborne now lay instead with Azeroth. Witnessing the decision, Lady Liadrin and Tyrande Whisperwind were satisfied by the outcome.
In the wake of the devastation wrought by the conflict, Thalyssra and the Nightfallen established a new government over Suramar City from the Nighthold. The Dusk Lily of the rebellion would become the insignia of the now-liberated nightborne race, marking a new chapter in Suramar's history.
- “Ultimately the Nightborne must shape their own destiny... It is no easy burden we bear,
but Elisande has shown us that we must stand alone, without the Nightwell, to properly rejoin the world.”
- — First Arcanist Thalyssra
- The events of the Nightfallen rebellion are somewhat reminiscent to those of the War of the Ancients over 10,000 years before. Then, it was the Kaldorei Resistance involved in a civil war against Queen Azshara, the Highborne night elves, and their Burning Legion allies.
- As ruler of the nightborne following the success of the rebellion, First Arcanist Thalyssra would eventually commit her people to the cause of the Horde, in the eventual lead-up to the Fourth War.