The Illidari are the devoted followers of the night elf Illidan Stormrage and are dedicated to waging war on the demonic Burning Legion by using their own fel powers against them. Based in the Black Temple of Outland’s Shadowmoon Valley, and later the Fel Hammer, they walk a fine line as they attempt to use the evil magic of demons without being fully consumed by it.
Illidan Stormrage was born in the land of Val'sharah during the reign of the ancient Night Elf Empire around ten-thousand years before the invasion of the orcs through The Dark Portal. In those days, the lands of Azeroth were all part of one continent called Kalimdor, and the Night Elf Empire ruled the majority of it under the rule of the magically and politically power-hungry Queen Azshara.
The Night Elf Empire
Illidan had amber eyes that indicated a great destiny and was raised and trained with his twin brother Malfurion as a druid by the demigod Cenarius. However, Illidan found that he was a lot better at sorcery and arcane magic than druidism, so he abandoned his studies and went to become the chief spellcaster for the night elf general Kur'talos Ravencrest.
Illidan, Malfurion, and Tyrande under the tutelage of Cenarius
When Queen Azshara made a bargain with the Burning Legion and invited them to invade Azeroth in exchange for more power for herself, the War of the Ancients began. Illidan, Malfurion, and the young moon priestess Tyrande were among the leaders of the resistance against the demons, although Illidan’s methods were considered overly-aggressive and costly when he sacrificed his entire army to empower himself against a Legion army. Eventually, he left the resistance after losing his crush, Tyrande, to his brother, and chose to follow his own path to growing in power and defeating the Legion. After finding and defeating a Legion commander named Azzinoth, Illidan took the demon’s weapons, the Warglaives of Azzinoth, and breastplate, the Bulwark of Azzinoth, as his own.
As part of his plan, Illidan pretended to defect to the side of the Burning Legion in order to gain access to a powerful artifact called the Dragon Soul (later known as the Demon Soul) which had been created by Deathwing and infused by the powers of all five dragon flights. With this artifact, Illidan would have the power he needed to close the portal the demons were using to enter Azeroth. Illidan was brought before Sargeras and given a “gift” for his allegiance by having his eyes burned out and replaced with orbs of green fire that allowed him to see all forms of magic and showed him a vision of the Legion’s full strength as it conquered all known worlds. In that moment, Illidan knew that driving the Legion from his own world wouldn’t be enough. He would have to destroy the Legion itself or they would always return.
After helping the Legion obtain the Dragon Soul, Illidan rejoined with the resistance, but was faced with great mistrust thanks to his seeming betrayal and new fire-eyes and demon tattoos. Working with his brother Malfurion once more, the two managed to used the Dragon Soul’s power to close the demon’s portal, but at the price of destabilizing the enormous magical lake called the Well of Eternity. As the night elves sensed the danger and prepared to flee from the unstable magics coming from the lake, Illidan stopped to fill several vials with the magic water. The Well of Eternity exploded and caused the Great Sundering, splitting the single continent into several smaller ones.
Located in the heart of the continent, the explosion of the Well of Eternity caused The Great Sundering, fracturing Kalimdor.
After making a new home on Mount Hyjal, the night elves discovered that Illidan had used his vials to create a new Well of Eternity, believing that it’s power would be needed should the Legion ever return. Malfurion and Tyrande, however, believed that all magic should be banned since it was what attracted the Legion in the first place. Branding him the Betrayer, they imprisoned Illidan under Mount Hyjal for ten-thousand years and assigned the warden Maiev Shadowsong to guard him.
During the Third War, in which the undead Scourge terrorized the Eastern Kingdoms and the Burning Legion plotted a second invasion of Azeroth, Illidan was unexpectedly released by Tyrande in the hopes that he could aid in fighting their old enemies. His love for Tyrande still strong, Illidan agreed to drive back the Legion and then leave the night elves forever. While leading a campaign against the demons in the newly-corrupted Felwood, Illidan met the death knight and fallen paladin Arthas Menethil who told him of the powerful Skull of Gul'dan, an artifact in the possession of a dreadlord named Tichondrius that was the source of the corruption and filled with power. Gul'dan had been the first and most powerful orcish warlock, and even his dead remains held unimaginable power in them.
Distrustful of this stranger, Illidan nonetheless decided that taking his advice was the only way to drive the Legion from night elf lands and redeem himself in the eyes of his people. However, during his battle for the skull, he absorbed its full fel power. Wings grew from his back, horns from his head, and the rest of his body likewise was transformed into a demon, granting him an immortal demon soul as well that could only be truly killed in the Twisting Nether. With this newfound power, he easily defeated Tichondrius and his forces, but returned to find only disgust and rejection from his people who thought he had thrown his lot in with the Legion for more power. Feeling rejected and unappreciated for the great sacrifice he’d just undergone for the sake of his people, Illidan left night elf lands.
Embracing and absorbing the fel demonic power transformed Illidan and made him stronger that he had ever been before. In the future, his demon hunter followers would go through similar transformations.
Now on his own, Illidan was recruited by the demon lord Kil'jaeden to destroy the Legion’s now openly-rebellious puppet, The Lich King. Once again playing the part of a defector to the Legion, Illidan accepted the offer in order to learn more about the Legion so he could destroy them. Collecting allies in the form of naga led by Lady Vashj, Illidan set out on a quest to retrieve a magical artifact called the Eye of Sargeras from the Tomb of Sargeras on the Broken Isles. All this time, his former jailer Maiev Shadowsong chased him with the intent of killing or imprisoning him again. Evading capture, Illidan and his naga brought the Eye of Sargeras to the ruins of Dalaran in order to attack The Lich King magically from afar.
One of Illidan's naga servants
The spellwork from Eye of Sargeras’ magical blast was so powerful that it attracted both the attention of the undead — sent by the Lich King to protect himself — and a united force of night and blood elves — who were seeking to stop Illidan before he destroyed the land as a side-effect of the spell. Although he managed to crack the Lich King’s icy prison enough to leave him vulnerable and let his power leak out, Illidan was overwhelmed by the assaulting armies before he could strike the final blow. With the Eye of Sargeras destroyed, he was furious at what he viewed as the shortsightedness of the elves, for in their efforts to protect the land, they had saved one of the greatest evils in the world. If he were to succeed in his quest to destroy the Legion and its pawns, he would need more allies who were willing to sacrifice everything in the name of their cause.
Having failed in the task given to him by Kil’jaeden, Illidan sought refugee far away on Outland, the destroyed former home of the orcs. Using memories gained from his absorption of the Skull of Gul’dan, he opened a portal near Dalaran and landed on the shattered world. Due to the fact that Outland’s destruction had exposed it to the Twisting Nether, the world was filled with portals leading to unknown locations in the cosmos. Though these portals, a pit lord named Magtheridon and his demon armies had taken over the world. Seeing no option but to take the land for himself and use it as a staging ground for his war, Illidan decided to drive out the demons and establish himself as the ruler of Outland. This plan was interrupted when he was briefly captured by Maiev and her wardens who had tracked him to Outland, but was freed by Lady Vashj and her new allies, Kael'thas Sunstrider and his blood elves. In return for his aid, Illidan promised Kael’thas to find a new source of magic that could sedate his people’s incurable addiction that they had suffered since the destruction of the Sunwell by the Scourge. He also found allies in the form of Akama and the Broken, draenei who had been twisted by the chaotic fel energies of orc warlocks and wished to be liberated from the invading demons. Even some demons were impressed by Illidan’s power and vowed to turn on the Legion and serve him.
Demons respect strength and some were impressed with Illidan enough to loyally work for him.
After closing many of the portals on Outland, the newly united forces laid siege to Magtheridon’s base, the Black Temple. The combined power of Illidan, Akama, Lady Vashj, and Kael’thas was so great that the powerful pit lord fell to them easily. However, in spite of his victories, Illidan had failed to outrun Kil’jaeden’s wrath. The demon lord appeared to him and demanded that Illidan strike against the Lich King again if he wanted to keep his new personal prize of Outland. Eagerly agreeing for the sake of buying time, and once again feigning loyalty to the Legion, Illidan took Lady Vashj, Kael’thas, and their armies with him back to Azeroth, leaving Akama and his forces in charge of securing Outland in his absence.
Much like his first attack on the Lich King, Illidan’s second attack met with defeat when his forces were overwhelmed by the Scourge and Illidan himself lost a duel with the Lich King’s greatest champion, Arthas. Seeing that they could not win this fight, Kael’thas and Lady Vashj retreated, taking the wounded Illidan with them.
Illidan and Arthas fighting at the foot of the Frozen Throne
After recovering from the fight, Illidan fully proclaimed himself the Lord of Outland and began to take drastic steps to prepare for Kil’jaeden’s retaliation and the inevitable attempt of the Legion at another invasion of Azeroth. Within the Black Temple, he used the blood of the defeated pit lord Magtheridon to create new allies in the form of fel orcs based in Hellfire Citadel and ensured all portals to Outland were sealed in order to buy him more time. To ensure his army had resources, he sent Lady Vashj to secure water reserves in Zangarmarsh at the expense of the local inhabitants and ecosystem.
It was at this point that the Illidari—or demon hunters—were born. Warriors made in Illidan’s own images, they were blood elves and night elves from all walks of life who had lost everything to the Legion and were willing to sacrifice anything to stop them. Illidan trained them secretly in the Black Temple, hidden even from his allies. Each one was forced to eat the flesh of a demon and bind their spirit to it, granting them great power and infusing them with fel energies that gave them horns and wings like Illidan’s. Very few demon hunters survived the training, with most dying or being driven mad, and others giving in to the whispers of their demon to join the Legion.
Elven demon hunter members of the Illidari
Using the portals on Outland, the Illidari launched assaults on multiple demon worlds, slaughtering demons and doing what they could to disrupt their plans. The attack on one powerful world, Nathreza, ended with Illidan obtaining the location of the Legion’s seat of power, Argus, and using the energies of his exit portal to destroy the entire world. This was the Legion’s single greatest defeat in millennia. Assaulting Argus soon became Illidan’s main focus. There, in the Twisting Nether itself, any demons killed would be killed for good instead of reincarnating like they normally did. Now fully aware of the threat Illidan posed to the Legion, Kil’jaeden prepared an assault on Outland led by Highlord Kruul. His assault would take too long to reach Outland though, since the Illidari had closed all the portals, so Kil’jaeden also decided to manipulate the people of Azeroth into attacking Illidan and invading Outland. This would not only pit the Legion’s enemies against each other, but open up a defenseless front on Azeroth.
Single-mindedly focused on preparing his demon hunters for the assault on Argus, Illidan failed to pay attention to the fact that many of his allies were losing faith in him thanks to his refusal to share his secrets or plan with them. Meanwhile, the Legion’s forces on both Outland and Azeroth were working to reopen the Dark Portal and lure the Alliance and Horde through it. Led by Highlord Kruul and the doom lord Kazzak, a great battle ensured that made sure the people of Azeroth saw Outland as a threat that needed to be permanently dealt with. Seeing what Illidan had done in Outland, and the people who had suffered because of his extreme methods, the Alliance and Horde slowly but surely conquered the regions of Outland and eliminated those lieutenants still loyal to Illidan.
The Invasion of Outland by the Alliance and Horde
Desperate and running out of time, the Illidari were sent by their master to the world of Mardum in order to retrieve a Legion artifact called the Sargerite Keystone that could open portals to Legion worlds, including Argus. At the same time, the forces of the Alliance and Horde united with Illidan’s old enemy Maiev and Akama, who had suffered much under Illidan’s rule and now turned on him. Assaulting the Black Temple, they carved through its defenders and confronted Illidan himself. Fighting for his own life, as well as to keep the fight against the Legion alive, Illidan never faltered in his conviction, but was struck down nonetheless. When the demon hunters returned from their mission shortly afterwards, they were quickly subdued by Maiev and frozen in enchanted crystals. They, along with Illidan’s body, were taken back to Azeroth and locked in the Vault of the Wardens, a heavily guarded prison on the Broken Isles that held some of the most dangerous beings on Azeroth.
The Black Temple
Many years later, the Burning Legion launched their third invasion on Azeroth thanks to a “new” Gul’dan from an alternate universe. Let to the Vault of the Wardens by the fallen warden Cordana Felsong, Gul’dan sought Illidan’s body to use as a host for the spirit of Sargeras. In desperation, Maiev freed many of the demon hunters she had imprisoned so long ago in the hopes they could stop the invasion, including two powerful Illidari lieutenants: Kayn Sunfury and Altruis the Outcast. While Gul’dan escaped with his prize, the Illidari managed to hijack a Legion ship called The Fel Hammer and turn it into their mobile headquarters. Uniting with the forces of Azeroth in warring with the Legion, they continued their search for the Sargerite Keystone and made contact with Illidan’s soul floating in the Twisting Nether. Illidan named one of their own—known to history as The Slayer—as the new leader of the Illidari and gave instructions on how to find the Keystone.
The interior of the Legion ship and headquarters of the Illidari, The Fel Hammer
Expanding their numbers with the inclusion of naga, demons, and welcoming Akama and his broken back into the fold, the Illidari succeeded not only in finding the Keystone, but in collecting two powerful weapons of the Legion: the Twin Blades of the Deceiver and the Aldrachi Warblades. They also managed to free Illidan’s soul from imprisonment in Helheim. Entrusting this soul to Archmage Khadgar, they joined the assault on The Nighthold, a vast palace complex in the elven city of Suramar. It was here that Gul’dan was conducting the ritual to infuse Sargeras into Illidan’s body, a feat that he almost succeeded in, as the body was already animated with the demon-lord’s power and had to be defeated before Khadgar could reunite Illidan’s body and soul together. Alive again, the demon hunter killed Gul’dan, ripping him apart with an overload of fel energy and crushing his skull.
Umberrwing is actually a possible upgraded variant of the Aldrachi Warblades which was obtained by defeating the returned Highlord Kruul.
Likewise, Flamereaper is an upgraded variant of the Twin Blades of the Deceiver which were obtained by dealing with the temporarily-insane Archmage Xylem.
After stopping the chief herald of the Legion in Gul’dan, the united forces of Azeroth launched a campaign to close the portal the demons were coming from in the Tomb of Sargeras by using artifacts known as the Pillars of Creation. However, after facing Kil’jaeden himself in the tomb, Prophet Velen, Khadgar, and Illidan changed plans and pursued him though a portal into the Twisting Nether. After killing Kil’jaeden for good, Illidan used the Sargerite Keystone to open a portal between Azeroth and Argus so that the rest of the world could understand what he had known all along: driving the Legion from Azeroth by closing the portal wasn’t enough. If they wanted to stay safe from Legion attacks, they would have to destroy the Legion for good on their homeworld.
Traveling on a new draenei ship, The Vindicaar, the armies of Azeroth united on Argus with the Army of the Light. This army had been fighting the Legion in the Twisting Nether for over a thousand years and was led by the paladin Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, and the naaru Xe’ra. Xe’ra believed Illidan to be the fulfillment of a prophecy about the Legion’s destruction and attempted to heal his scars with the Light. However, Illidan refused the gift, wary from his experience of accepting power from cosmic beings. Insistent, Xe’ra tried to force herself on Illidan in her desperation to ensure the prophecy was fulfilled and the Legion destroyed, but Illidan struck back and killed her with his fel eye beams. Undeterred by the loss of such a powerful ally, Illidan proclaimed that the forces of Azeroth and Army of the Light shouldn’t rely on a prophecy or a chosen one and that only they could save themselves.
Illidan resisting Xe'ra's gift
After much preparation and rallying of their forces, the two armies attacked the heart of the Legion’s operations, Antorus, the Burning Throne. There, they destroyed key elements of the Legion’s war machine and freed the captured Titan Pantheon from being tortured and corrupted by Sargeras. When the Pantheon was restored, they aided the armies in at last capturing Sargeras himself. While the rest of the armies of Azeroth returned home, Illidan remained behind to serve as Sargeras’ jailer, just as Maiev had been his.
Illidan preparing to face his new charge of watching over the Imprisoned Sargeras
While the Burning Legion had been destroyed as an organization, and its leaders defeated, the Illidari knew that there would always be demons who posed a threat on their own. Now welcomed back into the Alliance and Horde — albeit with much fear, suspicion, and prejudice from many — the Illidari still stand ready to defend their world from any threats.