The Cataclysm information has left a lot of us Warcraft lore junkies scrambling to get as much information as possible, and because of this current state of uncertainty and confusion, we can see misinformation start to rear its ugly head once again.
Most of this has to do with the addition of the worgen and the race / class combinations. This article will do its best to settle some of the ongoing disputes. Yes, I touched upon some of this stuff in recent pre-Cataclysm articles and even in a few podcasts, but now's my chance to focus in deeply on some of the biggest misunderstandings.
This article will come in two parts.
Part I: Ishnu'allakhazam! Night Elf Mages
Surprisingly, this race / class combination seems to be creating more of a stir amongst the lore community than the addition of the worgen. It seems people are more willing to accept something largely "new" over something that, on the surface, seems to contradict what's already in place.
Simply put: night elf mages are more justified by lore than the blood elf transition to the Horde that happened in Burning Crusade (which was a pretty big controversy itself).
"But, Thar! Night elves HATE the arcane! How can they allow mages?"
As far as we know, the night elves were some of the FIRST mages. In fact, it was their close proximity to the original Well of Eternity (and, thus, arcane magic) that became the foundation of their race and their civilization. Night elves were saturated with it, using it in everyday life.
That whole "druidic" thing? It didn't happen until after the War of the Ancients; until after the Sundering. It was a replacement to the arcane, in fact. So, yes, night elf mages go back at least 10,000 years in Warcraft history.
"Oh, right... But, Thar! The night elf highborne we all exiled! They all became high elves!"
No, they did not actually. Yes, most of the ones of which we were aware were exiled by Malfurion and left across the sea to settle in the Eastern Kingdoms and lay the foundations for Quel'thalas. Yes, all of these exiled highborne eventually changed, becoming smaller, lighter of skin, and less nocturnal. And, yes, these beings of the Sunwell became known as 'High Elves.' Oh, and, yeah, many high elves became 'blood elves,' too.
However, some highborne, like the Shen'dralar Ancients in Eldre'thalas (you'll know it better as Dire Maul) were far from the magical storm that their kin unleased upon Ashenvale. Thus, they never knew of the exile and exodus. These Eldre'thalassian highborne continued to live in their city, dealing with their issues entirely of their own (*cough*Immol'thar*cough*).
And let's not forget the version of Naxxramas that existed prior to Wrath of the Lich King, shall we? That version of Naxxramas has pieces of Atiesh within; a staff that was being hunted by many, including a highborne mage named Tarsis Kir-Moldir.
"Okay okay... But, Thar! The night elves hate the arcane NOW, don't they? Why would they accept mages BACK after all the world-exploding they caused?"
Maybe because the world's exploding again (or rather, will be)? And this time it's not the fault of the highborne? Also, if you've been privy to the conversation in the Temple of the Moon in Darnassus, you'll see that there's not a whole lot of acceptance happening:
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Sentinel, I would speak with your High Priestess.
Sentinel Stillbough says: You must wait for an audience.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Must I? I doubt Tyrande has more pressing business.
Sentinel Stillbough says: You show some nerve coming to Teldrassil, Highborne. Your kind are unwelcome here. We have not forgotten the War of the Ancients or the minds behind it.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: The lure of power is great. Mistakes were made.
Sentinel Stillbough says: And we would not see those mistakes repeated. Return to your exile.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: I will not return until I am heard. There is too much at stake. There is a change on the wind, and we cannot ignore it. I have traveled from the dust and ruin of the past to come to an accord. The time may soon come when the kal'dorei require the knowledge and skill we have to offer. I will wait, Sentinel... but I will have my audience.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade looks over at the moonwell with a sigh.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Take your gaze off the moonwell, exile. The power within is not yours to wield.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Calm yourself, Sentinel. I do not seek to use it. I am merely... remembering.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Recalling your treachery?
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: Enough. I have been apart from this for centuries. The well within this temple may be a pale spectre of the Well of Eternity, but it still holds the same... beauty. Purity.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: I had forgotten.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: I do not believe admiration and wistful thoughts are against the societal norm.
Sentinel Stillbough says: Watch yourself, Highborne.
Archmage Mordent Evenshade says: You were the one who challenged me for merely looking. I still await my audience with Tyrande.
Sentinel Stillbough says: In good time.
Indeed, very little acceptance at all...
I'll admit, if the highborne return to night elf culture ultimately "unfettered," then I'll be disappointed. The reintegration should be a painful one for both sides, as it's a part of their culture left abandoned for 10,000 years. That's a long time to generate misinformation and distrust, and such things rarely go away easily.
However, it should be important to note that, of all the night elves currently alive, it is Tyrande Whisperwind who stands as the highborne's best chance to be accepted again. Why is this?
During the Third War, it was Tyrande who believed that her mate's imprisoned brother, Illidan Stormrage, could help them fight back the encroaching invasion. It was Tyrande who also slaughtered the Watchers and Wardens who guarded Illidan in the prison. Many people forget this little fact.
Tyrande killed her own people to free someone whom she believed could help against the greater cause.
Who can say that she wouldn't do such a thing again? It shows that Tyrande Whisperwind is a leader willing to do what she believes is right and best for the situation at hand, and it's entirely possible that the highborne's return to night elf society is such a situation.
When you take in all the of the above—the history of the night elves, the fact that there are still original highborne still around, and Tyrande's past characteristic of going against the narrow views of those around her in order to do what was necessary—then night elf mages have a pretty solid footing in already existing lore.
Blizzard's not just pulling this out of thin air.