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Illidan Stormrage

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Betrayer... in truth, it was I who was betrayed. Still, I am hunted. Still, I am hated. Now, my blind eyes see what others cannot. That sometimes the hand of fate must be forced!
~ Illidan, in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.

Illidan Stormrage is a former Demon Hunter, transformed by incredible demonic power, and a villain from the Warcraft franchise. He is the supporting character in Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos, a leading anti-hero and villain in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, one of the two main antagonists of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

He will reappear in World of Warcraft: Legion.

History

Past

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Illidan as he would've originally looked

Illidan was born the identical twin brother of Malfurion Stormrage, though with amber eyes, which the night elves considered to be a mark of a great destiny, though it actually indicated great potential as a druid. As a youngster, Illidan attempted to master druidic energies like his brother, but sorcery appealed to him more. He eventually came to serve Kur’talos Ravencrest, a Highborne military leader.

When Sargeras launched his invasion of Azeroth, Malfurion convinced Illidan to abandon his service to Queen Azshara and the Highborne. As the war progressed, Malfurion planned to destroy the Well of Eternity, much to Illidan’s anger as it was the source of his power and likely the source of the elves’ immortality. In addition to this, Illidan began to become enamored by the powers of the Burning Legion, seeing a magical purity beneath their destructive actions. Xavius, a satyr, exploited this to turn him against the night elves and seek the power of the Burning Legion. Xavius was aided by the fact that Illidan had romantic feelings for Tyrande Whisperwind, but she already chose Malfurion as her mate. Convinced that if Malfurion would be slain, he could finally win Tyrande’s heart, Illidan planned to defeat the demons with their own power and went to Zin-Azshari, where he pretendsedto swear himself to Azshara and Mannoroth, so he could obtain the Demon Soul, a powerful artifact that could close the demons’ portal.

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Illidan with his new "eyes"

Illidan was brought before Sargeras, who saw through his ruse, but found him to be interesting. Sargeras gave him a "gift," burning out his eyes and replacing them with orbs of fire that could visualize all forms of magic. Azshara beaome interested by Illidan, though she still sent captain Varo’then with him as he searched for the Demon Soul.

After the lands of Azeroth were torn asunder by the Great Sundering from the Well of Eternity’s destruction, Illidan took seven vials of water from the Well of Eternity to the top of Mount Hyjal. Discovering a peaceful lake, he poured three of the vials into it, creating a new Well of Eternity. Illidan was soon discovered by Malfurion, Tyrande, and the rest of the night elf leaders. Malfurion attempted to convince Illidan of his folly, saying that the magic was chaotic and could bring destruction. But Illidan could not be reached, with his mind twisted by the magic’s power. Enraged by Illidan's obsession and misplaced belief that magic could defeat the Burning Legion, Malfurion had his brother imprisoned beneath Mount Hyjal, under the care of the Wardens, until the end of time.

Release and Transformation

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Illidan being freed by Tyrande

However when the Burning Legion invaded again, Illidan was unexpectedly released by Tyrande, who wanted his help in fighting them. She slew his guards and Illidan agreed to help, his love for Tyrande having remained with him. Malfurion opposed this, much to Illidan’s anger and he became determined to prove that the demons did not control him.
Illidan vs Arthas

Illidan fighting Arthas

He led a night elf force into Felwood, where he come across Arthas, servant of the the Lich King. The two fought each other, but proved equally matched and Illidan demanded to know what Arthas wanted. The death knight told the night elf about the Skull of Gul’dan, a demonic artifact responsible for corrupting the forests. Arthas said that if it were to be destroyed, the forests’ corruption would cease and told Illidan that it possessed incredible power, his master knowing of the night elf’s hunger for power. Illidan didn’t trust Arthas, but still went after the Skull, fighting past a powerful Demon Gate to reach it. 

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Illidan in his demonic form

He decided that he could redeem himself if he had more power and shattered the Skull’s seal, taking its power for himself. However there was a heavy price as Illidan was transformed into a demonic form. He led his forces against the dread lord, Tichondrius, and completely destroyed him. Afterwards, Illidan was confronted by Tyrande and Malfurion, who angrily reprimanded him, convinced he’d given up his soul for more power, and banished him from the Night Elf lands. Angry at his unappreciated efforts, Illidan left.

Making New Allies

Kil'jaeden and Illidan

Illidan meeting with Kil'Jaeden

Following the Legion's defeat, Illidan was discovered by Kil'jaeden, who offered him one more chance to serve his cause. He tasked him with destroying the Frozen Throne, as the Lich King had grown too powerful and rebellious for the demons to control. In exchange for his service, Illidan would be granted more power and magic than he could ever imagine. To aid him, Kil’jaeden gives Illidan the Orb of Kil'jaeden.

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Illidan summoning the Naga

Utilizing Gul'dan's memories, which he gained from the skull, Illidan formulated a plan. He summoned the Naga, the mutated former servants of Azshara, who were eager for revenge against the night elves and the others who had survived the Great Sundering. He soon, however, discovered that Warden, Maiev Shadowsong, was in hot pursuit of him. Illidan recruited a group of satyrs to help is Naga delay Maiev, while he retreated to a nearby port and traveled to the Broken Isles, the remains of Suramar that were raised by Gul'dan twenty years earlier, where he grew up and where the Tomb of Sargeras was located. Maiev managed to pursue Illidan, fighting his naga forces across the island and he eventually entered the tomb with Maiev hot on his heels. With Gul'dan's memories, he quickly found the Eye of Sargeras and the warden caught up with him as he was tapping into its power. Illidan used it to bring the tomb down on top of her, considering it fitting payback for all the years she'd kept him imprisoned. He and his naga escaped through the underwater passages, but Maiev escaped using her magical abilities though she had to leave her comrades behind to die. Illidan's forces attacked her base, but she sent a runner back to Ashenvale to get reinforcements. Malfurion and Tyrande arrived to reinforce Maiev and drove Illidan's forces back. Tyrande and Illidan faced each other and she revealed the reason she chose Malfurion over him as that he forgot his inner strength due to his lust for magical power. The fallen Night Elf finally came to terms with his feelings for Tyrande, ensnaring her when she tried to pursue him and warning her not to interfere.

Illidan traveled to Dalaran, where he planned to use the Eye of Sargeras to destroy Icecrown Glacier and the Lich King in the process. However, Malfurion, Maiev and Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider of the blood elves interrupted the spell's ritual, causing the Eye of Sargeras to explode. Trapped by his brother's magic Illidan called him a fool, saying he'd been trying to destroy the Lich King, their common enemy. Malfurion angrily replied that his actions had killed Tyrande, as Maiev told him she'd been torn apart by the undead. Illidan was shocked and broken upon hearing this, but Kael said it was premature to assume that Tyrande was dead, as she'd merely been swept downstream, as opposed to Maiev’s lie. Enraged at Maiev's duplicity, Malfurion ensnared the warden instead and Illidan begged to be allowed to help him save Tyrande. The druid agreed and the two set off to look for her with the naga managing to find her under attack by a huge undead force.

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Illidan leaving for Outland

Illidan fought his way through the undead to reach her and Tyrande was astonished to see him, even more so when the fallen Night Elf brought her back to Malfurion. The druid allowed Illidan to leave as long as he promised to never again threaten their people and he agreed, opening a portal to Outland that he retreated through.

Lord of Outland

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Illidan having been rescued by Vashj and Kael'thalas

Knowing that Kil’Jaeden would be after him, Illidan decided to flee to Outland, where he could cut off access from the Burning Legion. However he was soon captured by Maiev, who'd pursued him to Outland and intended to return him to the Barrow Deeps beneath Mount Hyjal. But Illidan was soon rescued by Kael and Lady Vashj's blood elves and naga and the blood elves swore their loyalty to him. He revealed his plans to Kael to rid Outland of demonic influence so Kil’jaeden could not find him, which would require usurping the current Lord of Outland, the Pit Lord Magtheridon. First, Illidan closed the dimensional gates Magtheridon used to summon demons to reinforce his army, while also aiding Akama of the Broken Draenei in fighting off fel orcs attacking his village, thus winning his loyalty as well.

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Illidan taking command of Outland

With all of his allies, Illidan laid siege to Magtheridon's Black Temple, managing to fight their way through all of his forces, before taking on and defeating the pit lord himself. Magtheridon asked Illidan if he was an agent of the Burning Legion, sent to test him, and the fallen Night Elf replied that he was a replacement, not a test. Illidan imprisoned Magtheridon then took command of the forces of Outland.

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Illidan being confronted by Kil'jaeden

However, Kil’jaeden immediately appeared and chastised Illidan for trying to escape from him. Thinking quickly, the fallen Night Elf claimed to merely have been trying to gather his forces for a direct attack on the Frozen Throne. Though skeptical, Kil’Jaeden acknowledged that his new allies showed promise and gave Illidan one final opportunity to serve him with a warning that he will face Kil’Jaeden's wrath if he fails.

Attack on the Lich King

Illidan led his forces to Northrend, making their way to the Icecrown Glacier to attack the Frozen Throne. However, the Lich King knew of the threat approaching him and called to Arthas, who returned to Northrend to save his master, as well as complete the plan he set in motion from the beginning. Illidan arrived at Icecrown just as Arthas and Anub'Arak did and their forces battled for control of four mystical obelisks needed to open the way to the Frozen Throne.

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Illidan dueling with Arthas

Arthas ultimately succeeded, but Illidan refused to surrender and the two engaged in a one on one duel at the base of the Icecrown Glacier. Illidan was ultimately cut down by Arthas, barely surviving and Kael and Vashj took their wounded and defeated master back to Outland.

The Burning Crusade

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Illidan in World of Warcraft

Illidan knew Kil’Jaeden would not ignore his failure and as such, spent years preparing for an attack by the Burning Legion. He fashioned himself into an oppressive dictator and became extremely unpopular to peaceful inhabitants of Outland. He created new fel orcs using blood from Magtheridon and worked to ensure all the portals in Outland remain sealed. Recognizing Shattrath City as a bastion of opposition, Illidan launches an attack against them. However, the unprovoked attack causes numerous blood elves to leave the Illidari and join the Naaru. In the Battle of Crimson Watch, Illidan launched an attack on the heroes sent to find Marcus Auralion, but his forces were defeated. He called out a challenge to the heroes from the Black Temple, stating not even Arthas could defeat him.

Eventually, heroes of both the Alliance and the Horde were ordered to enter the Black Temple to kill Illidan. Akama aided them, having set out to end the fallen night elf’s tyranny to the point that he even joined forces with Maiev Shadowsong. The heroes, Akama, and Maiev engaged Illidan in battle and managed to finally slay him. Maiev said he was finished, but Illidan replieed that the huntress is nothing without her prey.

Following Illidan's death, Maiev returned to Azeroth with the corpses of Illidan and his Illidari commanders. Maiev sealed the bodies and souls away in the Vault of the Wardens, so that her prey would suffer eternal torment as mean spirits.

 Legion

Following the events of an alternate Draenor timeline being merged with current Azeroth, Gul'dan, now an
Illidan

Illidan with his warglaives.

active agent of the Burning Legion, infiltrates the Vault of the Wardens and finds Illidan's soul imprisoned by Maiev. He is seen releasing Illidan from his imprisonment in the cinematic teaser.

Abilities

Illidan is extremely powerful, thanks to his study of magic and absorption of demonic energies. He wields a set of demonically charged warblades, the Twin Blades of Azzinoth, and uses demonic power to augment his combat skill. Illidan can use arcane, fire, shadow, and demonic magic, which allows him to drain life from enemies, send out bursts of fire, and summon parasitic shadow fiends. Illidan can also transform into a more powerful shadow demon form, where he can attack with demonic meteor like projectiles.

Trivia

  • Illidan’s blades originally had panda like faces on them in Warcraft III, which became more ferocious and evil after his transformation due to the Skull of Gul’Dan.
  • Since Illidan is seen in a normal night elf form when first speaking with Kil’Jaeden, it is most likely possible that his new demonic base form is the result of further empowerment from Kil’Jaeden.
  • At one point, Illidan wrote a book called “The Emerald Dream: Fact or Carefully Planned Out Farce Perpetrated By My Brother.” This book is part of quest in World of Warcraft for druids.
  • At the time of release for World of Warcraft, Illidan was declared the most powerful NPC and when Blizzard was asked where he was, they replied, “He was shy.”
  • Illidan and Malfurion were originally identical in appearance, except for their hair and eye color. However their transformations have made them much easier to tell them apart.
  • In the original Warcraft RPG, Illidan was listed in the sorcerer and fighter class, but this was changed to mage and warrior in the World of Warcraft RPG. In the novels, he is called a sorcerer.

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