Azeroth wasn't always Azeroth. Before the cataclysm (no, not that one), the entire world was all in one big supercontinent. A fantasy Pangea, if you will.
As is usually the case with world-breaking catastrophes, magic was to blame. More specifically, a magic lake full of ludicrously magic water. Known as the Well of Eternity, this lake was a font of seemingly-infinite arcane power -- and who better to control it than a bunch of elves? You know, besides anyone with a sense of responsibility.
These nocturnal elves (named "night elves" for reasons unclear) used the might of the Well to quickly establish an empire. None could challenge them while they controlled the waters that fueled their magic. They were almost as bad as those dudes who sit with their legs wide open on the subway.
The elves eventually had a schism over how to use this incredible power. One group wanted to keep its use to minimum and instead focus on communing with nature. The other group wanted to turn the Well of Eternity into a massive portal, summon Sargeras (Warcraft's version of Satan), and bring about the end of the world. Needless to say, this was not one of those situations with a compromise that would satisfy both parties.
This began the War of the Ancients, named for some of its star contenders. The Ancients were basically demi-gods of nature, and it took every last scrap of power they and the night elves had to push back an endless tide of demons. They eventually succeeded, but the only way to stop the Warcraft's version of "El Diablo" (no, not that one) from coming into the world was to destroy the Well of Eternity.
As it turned out, destroying a font of seemingly-infinite arcane power has some minor side effects. Namely, it resulted in an explosion that shook the world to its core, splitting Kalimdor into a number of pieces that spread across the oceans. In the place it once stood, there was instead a colossal, never-ending vortex of water called "the Maelstrom".
And that's what happens when you don't share.
A lot of people in World of Warcraft play as blood elves. About 1/3 of all Horde characters, as it turns out. And why not? They're nice to look at, especially compared to their toothy, comrades. Yet, these green-eyed glamour kings and queens came from much more "humble" beginnings. In fact, they're closely related to their allies, the trolls.
It's difficult to imagine the two having much in common besides exceptionally long ears. Trolls are hunched, tusked people with bumpy skin and are only just now getting over a nasty habit of cannibalism. The luxurious and beautiful blood elves are the polar opposite, with eyes that literally glow with magic and poop that always smells vaguely of lavender. To see how these two wildly varied factions are related, we need to take a couple steps back.
Thousands and thousands of years ago, like even before the Super Nintendo, trolls ruled the world. They'd beaten just about everything that they'd come into contact with, and were pretty high on their laurels after conquering most of the planet -- who wouldn't be? Eventually, a tribe of nocturnal "dark trolls" came upon the Well of Eternity. Over time, it transformed them into the night elves. Somewhere in there, everyone decided to start wearing iron-forged bathing suits.
The night elves, after enjoying the rise of a society based around a magical lake, split into two groups. One group began practising druidism while the other continued drinking the proverbial Blue Berry Blast-flavored Kool-Aid, courtesy of the Well of Eternity. After the near-world-ending shenanigans that followed, the troublemakers ended up exiled across the sea. There, the splinter group used some of the Well of Eternity water and made their own, much smaller version, dubbing it the Sunwell.
This group of night elves ditched their nocturnal habits, and somehow exposure to the Sunwell transformed them yet again into the decidedly less purple "high elves". They sat around being decadent for a few millenia, which they totally recommend, but it all went sour when endless droves of zombies and horrible undead abominations marched through their lands and befouled the Sunwell. Cut off from their source of magic, the high elves went into withdrawals and eventually gave into taking power from demons, turning their eyes from blue to green. To honor their dead (and possibly to sound extra cool), they renamed themselves blood elves. And then there was dancing.
To recap: Trolls hung out by a magic lake and became night elves; some of the night elves took some water for their own kiddie pool; theundead Scourge showed up, killed most of them, pissed in their kiddie pool, and the survivors became blood elves.
The Warcraft family tree is already more complicated than Game of Thrones, but it doesn't stop here.
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