Know Your Lore: The Nightborne and the Horde
The Night Elves have their own perfectly valid reasons for not trusting the Nightborne right off the bat — but that isn’t really helpful when trying to forge new alliances. As we mentioned last week, we never really saw what pushed the Nightborne away from the Alliance. The conversation we witnessed between Thalyssra and Tyrande took place before Suramar was reclaimed. All we have is Thalyssra’s mention that “Elune’s wisdom” must have guided Tyrande away from the Nightborne entirely.
That’s only one side of the story — so we can’t feasibly draw any solid conclusions as to the nature of Tyrande’s motivations here. Heck, she might not have even had any motivations. For all we know, she may have simply ignored the Nightborne altogether from that point onward. Thalyssra may have taken that inaction as an insult. Or she may have simply grown tired of Tyrande’s silence.
Regardless, the Nightborne may be tall and purple, but that’s where their similarities to the kaldorei end. 10,000 years in a bubble will change a person. 10,000 years drawing nutrients from something as powerful as the Nightwell changes them into something completely unrecognizable. Add to that the Nightborne’s unabashed and unfettered mastery of the arcane, and you have a group of people that represent everything the Night Elves have tried to quash since the days of the War of the Ancients. No wonder diplomacy was never really attained.
However, the Nightborne have smaller, pinkish cousins who are more than happy to step in and show them what Azeroth is all about.
The Nightborne were originally Highborne — same as the Blood Elves. The only difference between the two is that the Highborne citizens of Suramar locked their city away. The remaining Highborne loyalists that survived the Sundering outside of Suramar’s protective bubble followed the other survivors into the forests of Kalimdor. One of Malfurion and Tyrande’s first acts as leaders was to outlaw the practice of any kind of arcane magic. Druidism, on the other hand, was happily accepted.
But Dath’Remar Sunstrider wasn’t happy with this option, and neither were his followers. Dath’Remar was openly critical of Malfurion’s decree, declaring the Druids cowards for their reticence towards the arcane. Malfurion retaliated by warning the Highborne that any use of magic at all would be punishable by death. This escalated, until in protest Dath’Remar and his followers unleashed a magical storm on Ashenvale.
Malfurion, however, couldn’t really bring himself to execute so many of his kin. Instead, the Night Elves chose to exile Dath’Remar and his Highborne followers from Kalimdor for good. So they set sail, eventually landing on the Eastern Kingdoms. There, they eventually founded Quel’Thalas and created the Sunwell — but their connection to the World Tree had been severed. Over time, this resulted in a physical evolution — they became shorter, their skin fading to a peach hue.
In many ways, it was similar to the evolutionary shift experienced by the Nightborne. The High Elves embraced the sun, bathing the forests of Quel’Thalas in eternal springtime. Behind their shield, the residents of Suramar were shrouded from the sun, protected in a land of eternal night. Both happily embraced practice of the arcane arts, far from the homes and minds of the Night Elves.
A Well depleted
But that’s all ancient history. Currently, the High Elves — now Blood Elves — have an even more compelling point of diplomatic empathy. The Nightborne were as tied to the Nightwell as the Blood Elves were to the Sunwell. Both experienced withdrawal symptoms and suffered when their connections were severed. For the Blood Elves, it was an addiction to magic that drove their suffering. For the Nightfallen, it was the lack of the sustenance the Nightwell provided. Both sought and eventually found cures for their conditions through varying means.
However, the Nightborne are on the verge of losing the Nightwell entirely. And the Blood Elves have plenty of experience with that. After Elisande’s defeat in Nighthold, Thalyssra decides to let the Nightwell burn out. After all, the Nightborne don’t need it to survive anymore. At the same time, what will this do to Nightborne society? How will it affect their proficiency with the arcane? Yes, the Nightwell was food — but it was also a source of power. It was a remnant of the original Well of Eternity. How will the Nightborne cope when that source is gone?
In the Blood Elves, the Nightborne not only have kin, but someone they can turn to for guidance if needed. Liadrin in all her compassion has been happy to keep the lines of communication open. Where the kaldorei may have turned cold and impassive, Liadrin has been warm and sympathetic. She’s made it a point to answer the many questions the Nightborne have about the outside world. She did so even before Horde leadership broached the need for additional allies.
With all these common points of interest, is it any wonder the Nightborne were so agreeable to join their Blood Elf kin and ally with the Horde?
On the one hand, this is an excellent move on Lor’themar’s part. The one point made startlingly apparent during the Pandaria campaign was that the Blood Elves were on their own. Garrosh displayed an appalling lack of respect for the sin’dorei. He was content to use them as long as they remained useful. He had no regard for their personal welfare, going so far as to send a dangerous mogu artifact into the heart of Silvermoon for study.
And relations with the rest of the Horde are just as shaky. Garrosh made it clear where the Orcs stood. The Darkspear may not have been Amani, but they were Trolls all the same. The Tauren may have been decent people, but they were also a continent away. As for the Forsaken…the situation was delicate, at best. Yes, the Forsaken are led by the former Ranger-General of Silvermoon. But her actions, and the actions of her people, have done little to show any love towards her former home. She’s used the help of the Forsaken in the Ghostlands as a bargaining chip to force Lor’themar to do anything she wishes.
In the Nightborne, the Horde has a new, strong ally. More importantly, the Blood Elves have gained a group of friends they can actually relate to. The sin’dorei population was nearly decimated during the Third War. They’ve been struggling to rebuild their numbers and keep their kingdom safe ever since. With the Nightborne, they now have really strong allies they can call on for help if needed — all with no strings attached. They can teach the Nightborne the ins and outs of Azeroth. In return they have a group of extremely powerful casters that may be allied with the Horde, but are ultimately on the side of the sin’dorei.
On the other hand, one has to look again at Lor’themar, here. Because while that reasoning may all be sound, there’s still that nagging question of the Void Elves. Sure, Lor’themar may have gained a new, strong ally. But at the same time, he’s lost a powerful group of people that weren’t just distant relations; they were at one point proud sin’dorei.
And given that we’re looking at ancient history, you kind of have to marvel at the situation. Magister Umbric and his followers were delving into the secrets of a different kind of magic. Their efforts were frowned upon and deemed dangerous. For their continued persistent research, they found themselves banished. Once, long ago, Dath’Remar Sunstrider found himself the subject of the same kind of scrutiny. And his people — the ones that became Lor’themar’s people — were banished and forced to forge their own destiny.
Did Lor’themar consider this when he agreed with Rommath’s decree? Did Liadrin? We may never know. But for now, the winds of change are shifting. Powerful arcanists have been successfully obtained by both sides. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for both in battles yet to come.
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