Know Your Lore: The Arcan’dor
Hidden away in the depths of Shal’Aran is the salvation of the Shal’dorei. The arcan’dor isn’t just a tree – it’s the cure for the addiction to the Nightwell the Shal’dorei have been bound to for centuries. But what exactly is the arcan’dor? What is its purpose, and why is it able to do what some view as nearly impossible?
Creation of the arcan’dor
The arcan’dor in Shal’Aran isn’t unique, nor is it anything that could be called natural. Thousands of years ago, in the early days of the kal’dorei, the Highborne were only just beginning to explore the mysteries of arcane magic. One day, the first of the elven magi met with a small group of “keepers.” These keepers were not Druids – this was before Druidism had been fully established. But they did have a vested interest in the natural balance of the world.
Although the arcane arts are commonplace on Azeroth today, they are far from natural or balanced. Wild and often unpredictable, arcane magic on Azeroth originally began emanating from the Well of Eternity. The Well wasn’t just a simple pool of water. It was the remnants of a wound the world-soul of Azeroth suffered when Aman’Thul attempted to rip Y’Shaarj out of Azeroth. It took a lot to staunch that wound, and even more to settle the tumultuous arcane energies that bled from it. After magical wards were established, those energies calmed and settled into place.
But those arcane energies weren’t going to remain stable forever. Recognizing this, the keepers and the elven magi met to form an order that would attempt to keep the arcane balanced, by using nature itself as a vessel. To that end, they created the arcan’dor – trees that act almost as filters to balance arcane and nature energies.
Falanaar and the Fal’dorei
Unfortunately, these trees tended to be just as unstable as the magics they purportedly attempted to tame. If they grew too unstable, the energy from the tree twisted and warped the creatures around it, or simply killed them outright. It was a noble attempt to try to bring balance to the world, but it wasn’t always successful. Nowhere was this more evident than Falanaar.
Located in Suramar, the city of Falanaar was heavily damaged in the Sundering. It wasn’t part of Suramar City, so it didn’t escape damage under Suramar City’s protective barrier. At some point after the Sundering, exiles from Suramar City came to Falanaar and settled there. As Nightborne, they couldn’t remain far from the Nightwell and its sustaining energies for long. One lone Valewalker – Farodin, the last of the keepers – took pity on these exiles and their fate, and gifted them with an arcan’dor, thinking it would help.
It did…for a little while. The energies sustained them even without the Nightwell. But over time, the arcan’dor grew unstable and died. The resultant flood of wild magic twisted and warped the exiles into horrific spider-like creatures — the Fal’dorei. Oddly enough, this transformation appears to have kept them from withering entirely…but at a terrible cost. As for Valewalker Farodin, he moved on to watch over a dormant arcan’dor seed at Moonshade Sanctum for the next ten thousand years, protecting it from the Fal’dorei.
Thousands of years later, Suramar City was still exiling those citizens who had somehow erred or committed crimes against the city. Left with nothing to sustain them, these Nightborne began deteriorating. First to the Nightfallen, then, if no other means of sustenance were found, into a feral, withered state. Consumed by their thirst for the Nightwell, these creatures still retain all memories of their former lives.
Arcanist Kel’danath of the Nightborne was fascinated by the Withered, and wanted to find a way to either calm them — or potentially cure them. He even brought them into Suramar City for study. But when one of his subjects escaped and wreaked havoc in the royal gardens, Kel’danath was ordered to stop all research and kill the Withered in his possession. He refused, and was exiled for his impertinence. This didn’t stop his research – to the contrary, it only made finding a solution more urgent. Because if a cure couldn’t be found, Kel’danath himself would join the fate of the subjects he’d spent so much time studying.
Among the Withered he studied was a specimen he called Theryn. Theryn was special – for some reason, he exhibited a peaceful nature, touched by some unknown, mysterious power. Through Theryn, Kel’danath hoped to find the cure he was so desperately seeking. In a way, he was semi-successful, managing to craft a spell that seemed to calm the feral Withered. But before he could finish his research, Kel’danath himself withered away, leaving only his spellstone and his research behind as evidence of his former life.
Cure for the Nightfallen
The power Theyrn encountered wasn’t mysterious at all – it was the seed of the arcan’dor, still under Farodin’s watchful care. Although dormant, the seed still possessed enough magical properties to change Theyrn and calm him. Later on, these effects pointed First Arcanist Thalyssra at the seed as a possible solution to the insatiable hunger of the Nightfallen. Eventually the seed was recovered and planted in Shal’Aran with Farodin’s supervision – but the danger that destroyed Falanaar was still a possibility in Shal’Aran as well.
It took an incredible amount of power to keep the arcan’dor stable enough to grow to its full potential. Not only did it require wild magic straight from the Emerald Dream, but it also required a jolt of arcane power so strong that it needed to be generated in Suramar City itself. But once it was fully grown, the arcan’dor began creating fruit – fruit that cured both the Nightfallen and the Nightborne of their addiction to the Nightwell.
Unfortunately, the effect doesn’t appear to extend to the Withered. Once you’ve gone that far, it appears there is no coming back from it. At the same time, it means that an entire society of elves once beholden to a magical font of energy are no longer leashed to Suramar City. That’s no small feat for a magic tree.
The arcan’dor, World Trees, and the Sunwell
Azeroth is no stranger to powerful trees. The World Trees that dot Azeroth have been around nearly as long as the arcan’dor. Are the two related? Not exactly – Nordrassil, the original World Tree, was created not to filter arcane magics, but to contain them. Nordrassil was placed atop the second Well of Eternity in order to protect the Well, and to help spread life-giving energy across the world. It wasn’t created to bring balance between arcane and nature. It was designed to protect and nurture the natural world – even going so far as to be bound to the Emerald Dream by Ysera.
Azeroth is also no stranger to sources of immeasurable power. Are there any connections between the arcan’dor and magical fonts like the Well of Eternity, the Nightwell, or the Sunwell? Again, not exactly. All three wells generate arcane energy – but that energy is raw, unfiltered power. The wells do nothing to balance that power. All they are is a source for it.
In the case of the Sunwell, that mystical font has now been sanctified by the power of the Light. Prophet Velen used the heart of the naaru M’uru to reignite the Sunwell and restore it. By doing so, the Sunwell now radiates energies derived from both arcane and Light. But while the contents may have changed, the Sunwell remains much the same – simply a source of power.
Withered vs. Wretched
At the same time, the arcan’dor is acting as an effective substitute for the energies of the Nightwell. The Nightborne had to feed on the energies of the Nightwell to survive. It wasn’t just a source of power, it was a source of sustenance. For some reason, the arcan’dor appears to be an effective substitute for the Nightwell, despite apparently holding a completely different purpose.
Does this mean the arcan’dor could be utilized to cure the Wretched elves that haunt Silvermoon City and surrounding areas? I don’t think so. There are distinct differences between the Wretched and the Nightfallen or Withered. The Nightfall and Withered are literally starving to death – they’ve been cut off from the only source that sustains them. The Wretched, on the other hand, are elves that have failed to control their magical addiction. They aren’t starving – they’ve overindulged to the point of insanity. Feeding them more power seems like it’d be a terrible idea.
But the arcan’dor is a fascinating thing – a tree whose fruit acts as an acceptable substitute for the Nightwell, one that seems to reverse any ill effects the Nightfallen may have sustained. Now that the Nightwell is slowly dying out, the arcan’dor is needed more than ever. And now that the tree is bearing fruit, one wonders if we’ll see new arcan’dor trees pop up in other areas of the world. If one little tree could change the fate of an entire civilization, what could a forest of arcan’dor do? Whether or not we’ll see it utilized in the future remains to be seen – but for now, the Nightborne are free.
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