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Highborne

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Neutral 32 Highborne elves, children of noble birth
Highborne
Main leaderQueen Azshara (formerly), Dath'Remar Sunstrider, Prince Tortheldrin
Character classesAdept, Mage, Wizard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Arcanist (RPG); Aristocrat (presumed)
CapitalZin-Azshari, possibly moved to Eldre'Thalas[citation needed]
Main languageDarnassian, Thalassian,[citation needed] Common (presumed)[citation needed]
Theater of operationsKalimdor (pre-Sundering), Mount Hyjal (post-Sundering)
AffiliationKaldorei (pre- and post-Sundering), Burning Legion or Kaldorei Resistance (during War of the Ancients), The Alliance (after the Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm 18x18)
StatusObsolete

The Highborne, also known as Highborn[1] or High-borne,[2]quel'dorei meaning "children of noble birth" in Darnassian and "high elves"[3][4] in Thalassian) were the upper classes of the Kaldorei civilization and the favored servitors of Queen Azshara. Despite their near-identical physical appearance, the ancient Kaldorei were already split across racial lines as night elves and "Highborne" elves.[1] The Highborne were largely responsible for the War of the Ancients, and most of those Highborne who had allied with the demons and survived the war later became the naga. Those that allied with the Kaldorei Resistance before the last battle of the war evolved into the modern high elves.

Today, they are obsolete as an organization as most became high elves after they were exiled from Kalimdor. Even the high elves are few in number because most survivors declared themselves blood elves after the Scourge invasion. One notable exception is the Shen'dralar, a holdout group against the Legion during the War of the Ancients. They were able to defend Eldre'Thalas (Dire Maul) but became isolated from the rest of night elf society[5], although they have recently sought to rejoin their kaldorei brethren in Teldrassil.

Background and History

Before the Sundering

The Highborne were the upper classes of the ancient Kaldorei civilization, at first a nameless caste made up of night elves who had unusual intelligence, strength, skills, or wealth and thus found favor with the ruling monarch. Their vast arrogance and greed, garish and multicolored clothing, and decadent habits did not endear them to other night elves. In fact, these powerful families became convinced that they were superior to the rest of their race, and so they began to call themselves the Highborne. As a member of the same caste, the current queen — Azshara approved of the term and made it official. Plumbing the depths of the great Well of Eternity for knowledge they discovered primitive magic; and as time passed, they distanced themselves from the lower castes and began using their rank to selfishly guard their magical power, restricting access to the magical Well of Eternity to only themselves.

The access of arcane magic to the ruling caste began to split the Kaldorei nation across racial lines;[1] and despite their outwardly similar physical appearance, those "Highborne" were transformed by the magic flowing through their veins.[6] Families that belonged to the highest caste frequently arranged marriages so as to maximize the magical ability of their offspring. This selective breeding, combined with frequent access to the Well of Eternity, resulted in night elves with progressively stronger magical abilities and greater understanding of how to use those skills.

A Kaldorei without Highborne blood — such as Illidan Stormragecould master arcane power if he so wished (and had access to it). In fact, the mastering of the arcane arts was common among the populace, resulting in organisations as the Moon Guard, the official military sorcerers.

The War of the Ancients

Over time, the ever-more reckless use of magic by the Highborne and their queen led to their slow corruption and addiction to the power it granted, and the ripples sent into the Twisting Nether attracted the dread forces of the Burning Legion to Azeroth. The unlimited magical power offered by the demon lords seduced the queen and many of her servitors, and they agreed to grant the Legion entrance to Azeroth. Finally, giving themselves over to magic’s inevitable corruption, the Highborne fell to darkness and began to worship the Legionlord Sargeras as their god. Some, led by Xavius, gave themselves wholly over to the service of the Legion and were transformed by fel magic into the satyr.

To cement their dark pact, the ecstatic Highborne opened a great, swirling portal within the depths of the Well of Eternity which would allow the armies of the Legion access to the world, followed by Sargeras himself. In the cataclysmic war that followed millions died as the demons swarmed over the lands of Kalimdor and laid siege to the lesser night elves’ sleeping cities, leaving only ash and sorrow in their wake. Though the brave Kaldorei warriors rallied from the heinous betrayal of their rulers and rushed to defend their ancient homeland, they were forced to give ground, inch by inch, before the fury of the Legion’s onslaught. The Legion was finally foiled by the efforts of the night elf Malfurion Stormrage, who in his battle with Queen Azshara collapsed the Well of Eternity, killing many Highborne and condemning those who survived to the sea floor where they were transformed into the serpentine naga by the mysterious Old Gods.

After the Storm

Yet many highborne did not meet their fate at the bottom of the sea. Some had betrayed their queen at the last minute, having realized the horrors she would unleash upon the world. These defectors had fled the capital city of Zin-Azshari, site of the Well, and were thereby spared when the Great Sundering tore Kalimdor apart. Others remained hidden away in far-flung strongholds such as Eldre'Thalas.

Those who had joined with the rest of their shattered peoples fled the rising waters of the Great Sea, eventually arriving at the base of Mount Hyjal, where they helped to rebuild the night elven civilization in the newly reshaped world. They were not entirely welcome: the night elves, now led by Malfurion, reviled Queen Azshara's former servants and were doubtful of their loyalty. Still, without the Well to supply their magic, the Highborne were considered little threat, and were permitted to rejoin night elven society.

However, many felt the pangs of their magical addiction and were tempted to use the power of a new Well of Eternity created by Illidan Stormrage, who from then on would be termed "the Betrayer" for his terrible crime. Though the use of arcane magic was forbidden on pain of death, the Highborne foolishly attempted to convince the Kaldorei race of the power of magic by unleashing a magical storm upon Ashenvale. Their desperate gambit failed, and the Highborne were exiled; the night elves mercifully refusing to execute any more of their brethren.

The high elves of Quel'Thalas

High elves

The new forms of the high elves.

These exiled Highborne, now known as the high elves,[7] took their punishment in stride, and led by Dath'Remar Sunstrider ("He who walks the day") set sail across the ocean in hopes of finding a new land to call their own. After a long and perilous journey, the Highborne arrived in the land known today as Lordaeron, and there established their kingdom of Quel'Thalas ("high kingdom" or "high home") and crowned Dath'Remar their king. There, they slowly changed in form, diminishing in size and losing their original purple skin to a pinkish hue. They abandoned the worship of the moon, adopting instead the sun, and became the high elves. They remembered the mistakes of the past and used Runestones to shield their use of the arcane from the Burning Legion, taking care to practice the magic granted to them by their Sunwell with more care than their ancestors. Nevertheless, after their homeland of Quel'Thalas — and the source of their power — was destroyed by the undead Scourge, a radical group of high elves embraced their Highborne ancestry and resumed for the third time their reckless use of magic. Kael'thas Sunstrider renamed these people as the blood elves, and traveled to Outland with Illidan to find a way to fuel their magical addiction. Those who did not travel with him remained behind and began to rebuild their shattered capital city of Silvermoon.

Today

Some Highborne still exist in their original forms. One such group, known as the Shen'dralar, live in secrecy within their city of Eldre'Thalas — known as Dire Maul to outsiders. Those Highborne who live elsewhere in the world — such as Archmage Tarsis Kir-Moldir — are few in number; the majority having long since become high elves, blood elves, naga, or satyrs.

Recently, citing "change on the wind",[8] the remaining Highborne have been drawn out of hiding, sending representatives to the Kirin Tor[9] and to Tyrande Whisperwind, to rejoin Kaldorei society at large claiming that there will soon be a time when "the kal'dorei require the knowledge and skill" the highborne have to offer.[8]

Modern night elves can master the arcane, although doing so will change him forever. Once a night elf learned to use arcane spellcasting, he suffered a painful transformation that stripped away his native night elf adaptations and replaced them with those of the Highborne elves.[citation needed] The complete change occurred within the space of a week and could not be reversed once started.[10] However, though stripped of his racial heritage, in this early era his physical attributes would not change.[11]

Physical traits

Though they started out as regular night elves, they had been transformed by the magic flowing through their veins.[6] Night elves foreswore the use of arcane magic centuries before and even built up great resistance against it. They could master arcane power, although doing so would mark them forever. Once a night elf learned to use arcane spellcasting, he or she may suffer some change of skin coloration or possibly change in the color of the glow of their eyes. The complete change often occurred within the space of a week and could not be reversed once it began,[10] but physical attributes do not change.[11]

Trivia

List of current or former Highborne

Deceased & former Highborne

Surviving Highborne

Others

Undead Highborne mobs

References

External links

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