Know Your Lore: The Arcan’dor, the Fal’dorei, and the Withered
History is a funny thing on Azeroth. There are certain broad tendencies that repeat themselves time and again — the Old Gods attempt to rise, the Legion attempts to invade, empires clash and fall. But one thing that can’t be said is that it repeats, exactly. Azeroth has seen quite a lot of history, tens of thousands of years of it rising and falling, and it’s less a repetition and more a series of waves breaking.
Suramar today is at the tail end of a wave that started before the Sundering, before the destruction of the Well of Eternity. Before the Kaldorei Empire had even reached its full extent, that wave started, and it was a group who called themselves Keepers who helped start it. And it was their creation, the Arcan’dor, that ultimately was the wave breaking on the shore of the unknown future, now our present.
Nature and Arcane in balance
Before Malfurion, other Night Elves had studied with Cenarius for a time. None of them ever proved worthy of the Demigod’s full confidence. None learned the true secrets of Druidic power. But the few teachings he imparted in hopes of returning the Kaldorei to balance were not entirely forgotten, either. Years before Malfurion Stormrage would heed those scraps and track down the reclusive Cenarius, others among the Night Elves would dub themselves Valewalkers, keepers of this natural lore. Theirs was a lonely path, for their people were ever more consumed with their obsessive quest to master the arcane emanations of the Well of Eternity. The vast lake, the font of power that had changed their ancestors and made Elves what they’d become, called to all of their kind and the Valewalkers were no exception.
The first full-fledged Mages of the Kaldorei sought a means to balance the Arcane that surged from the Well, for it was a very potent force and they often felt threatened by it. It was easy to be overwhelmed by such massive power. It was the Valewalkers who proposed a solution, a means to keep to their ancient roots, to acknowledge the ancient connection with the natural world they were in danger of forgetting. Hearing wisdom in this proposal, the Magi and the Valewalkers united to weave their disciplines together, and the Arcan’dor was the result. This tree existed to balance Arcane with Nature magics, to keep it safely contained and in check so it could be used without destroying the user. That was its goal and its purpose.
But the Arcan’dor was vulnerable to the world it took root in. It required a steady flow of power from the ley lines it drank the Arcane from, just as any tree needs to keep its roots fed. Failure to maintain the proper balance could prove disastrous. As the Night Elves became more obsessed with the Well, they abandoned their goal of balance, and the Valewalkers dwindled, the secrets of the Arcan’dor lost after thousands of years. Only a few remained, and when the Sundering happened, the world and its ley lines were utterly changed. Those that didn’t end up on the bottom of the ocean were cut off from their ley lines and died.
Farodin, Falanaar, and the fate of exiles
After the Sundering, the last of the Valewalkers, Farodin, took up a hermit’s existence. He had seen his people come to ruin, their inability to balance nature and arcane now obvious in the changed face of the world. The majority of his people now lived in distant Kalimdor, merely a sliver of its lost majesty. The remnant of Suramar and its environs was dominated by the bubble used by Elisande to preserve it, and within that bubble the people changed, twisted by their dependence on the Nightwell created by the Eye of Aman’thul. Everywhere, the world was out of balance, and Farodin saw nothing to be done for it.
But he was not without hope. When a band of exiles from Suramar came to the ruined temple of Fal’dora, once sacred to Elune, he watched them for a time. Their dependency on the power of the Nightwell was pitiable in his eyes, an example of just how far out of balance they’d sunk. And so, out of kindness, he revealed one of the last of the Arcan’dor to them, and explained its purpose. The tree could help them balance their natures, help them with their utter dependency on the Nightwell that was steadily withering them. That was his hope. And it worked, for a time.
Did the exiles sup too greedily on the tree? Or was it simply no longer able to access enough ley lines to sustain itself in the changed, post-Sundering world? It’s difficult to say. What isn’t as difficult to say is that the end result was a disaster. The exiles from Suramar were caught in a terrible cascade of raw arcane power that made monsters of them and shattered the Arcan’dor, leaving those few Dryads that had tended to the tree warped and crystalline. The Falanaar exiles weren’t so fortunate.
The Falanaar exiles became twisted creatures, fusions of Elf and Arachnid. Farodin, saddened, took the remaining Arcan’dor seed to the Moonshade Sanctum and warded it so that the Fal’dorei could not seize it and start their folly all over again. And so things remained for thousands of years, until Gul’dan brought the Legion back to Suramar.
A Withered, one of the Nightborne who’d fled Suramar after Elisande allied with the Legion (or perhaps one she’d exiled) ended up in the Moonshade Sanctum, where he made contact with the Arcan’dor seed and in so doing reached a level of peace that soothed the mindless frenzy and hunger that drives most Withered to madness. Seeking to understand how this occurred, an adventurer working with the Nightfallen traveled to Falanaar and witnessed the Fal’dorei’s theft of the Arcan’dor seed, working with Farodin to retrieve it. The seed was in danger from its captor’s unthinking use of it, and to preserve it, Farodin planted it in Shal’Aran, where it could draw on the ley lines that intersected the place.
Working with Thalyssra and the other Nightfallen, Farodin shepherded the tree to maturity. It nearly collapsed as did the original Arcan’dor from Falanaar, necessitating a trip into the Emerald Dream itself to help stabilize it, but once it was so stabilized and supplied with enough ley energies the tree bore fruit… and that fruit proved able to reverse the dependency on the Nightwell that dominated Nightborne culture, returning the Nightfallen to themselves. No longer degenerating due to their crazing for the raw arcane fury of the Nightwell, the resistance could at last oppose Elidande directly.
Thus, after more than 10,000 years, the wave finally reached shore, and the Arcan’dor managed to achieve the balance it had been created for.
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