10,000 years before the Orcs and Humans clashed in the First War, the world of Azeroth contained just one massive continent. That continent, known as Kalimdor, was home to many different races and creatures, all fighting for survival in this newly waking world. At the center of this continent lay a lake of eldritch power. This lake, which later came to be known as the Well of Eternity, was in fact the pure source of the world's magic. Drawing its energy from the infinite Great Dark, the Well acted as a mystical fount, sending its potent energies out across the world to nourish life in all its wondrous forms.
Over time, a tribe of nomadic, nocturnal humanoids found the enchanted lake. These humanoids, unknowingly drawn by the energy of the Well, built a small village on the shore of the lake. Over time, the power of the Well started to affect these humanoids, making them stronger, wiser and extremely long lived (virtually immortal). The tribe took on the new name of Kaldorei, which, in their tongue meant "children of the stars". To celebrate this new society, they began the construction of great structures and temples around the outskirts of the lake.
These Kaldorei, or night elves as they are now called, worshipped the Moon Goddess Elune, believing she slept within the shimmering waters of the lake during the waking hours. Early priests and seers studied the Well, driven by their insatiable curiosity about and desire for the power it contained. As this primitive culture grew, the Night Elves began to explore the length and breadth of Kalimdor, interacting with the myriad other denizens they encountered.
In time, this curiosity finally led them to a meeting with several powerful entities whom they befriended, such as the demigod of the forest, Cenarius. Cenarius grew very fond of the inquisitive elves and their tranquil nature and spent much of his time teaching them of the world. The Kaldorei, as a result of his teachings, developed an extremely strong empathy for the living forests of Kalimdor and reveled in the harmonious balance of nature.
As the ages raced by, the civilization of the Kaldorei expanded in both territory and culture. Their temples and dwellings were seen in all corners of the continent. Queen Azshara, the night elves' eternally beautiful leader, caused an immense palace to be built on the Well's shore for her favored servitors. These servitors, called the Quel'dorei (or Highborne), believed themselves greater than the rest of the Kaldorei due to the attention lavished on them by their queen. Although the Queen was loved by all of the Kaldorei, the Highborne were envied and disliked by the night elf population.
Queen Azshara, sharing her priests' curiosity, then ordered the Highborne to study the secrets of the Well and reveal its true purpose. With this command, the Highborne threw themselves into this work, studying the Well without cease. After years of research, they eventually learned to manipulate the Well's energy to their own desires and, as their experiments progressed, they found they were able to use these newfound powers to create or destroy at will. The Highborne had finally stumbled upon this raw, primal magic and were now determined to completely master it. While they know and agreed that use of magic was extremely dangerous when the user was not responsible with it, they nevertheless began to practice their spellcraft with total reckless abandon. Cenarius and many wizened night elf scholars warned that only calamity would result from toying with the clearly volatile arts of magic. Even so, Azshara and her followers stubbornly continued to expand their burgeoning powers.
As their powers grew, a distinct change slowly started to come over the Queen and her Highborne servitors. They became increasingly cruel and hateful towards their fellow night elves, treating them more and more as second class citizens as time went on. In addition, the Queen began to withdraw from her subjects and refused to interact with any but her trusted Highborne priests as the primal magic warped her further.
|Allakhazam credits an article at Blizzard for some of the info in this article.