As they quickly embraced the ways of magic, human mages rose in power until they matched and even surpassed their elven tutors. In parts of the empire, human sorcerers cleared fields, hunted dragons and reshaped the earth itself at their whim. To many across Arathor and to some on its ruling council, this seemed at best a too-easy path and at worst an abuse of a sacred power. Confronting the wizards took the Empire of Arathor over the brink of civil war as the "magocrats" carved out their own territory where magic could be practiced without restriction. In some places those fearful or distrustful of magic banded close to one another to prevent the mages from taking power, while others compromised and allowed the free use of magic so long as it was policed by Guild overseers.
When all was said and done, the sprawling Empire of Arathor had fallen apart into seven separate nations: Lordaeron, Stormwind, Kul Tiras, Stromgarde, Alterac, Gilneas, and Dalaran.
It was soon discovered that the use of magic without constraint didn't mean that magic could be used without consequence. Relations between the newly independent human nations were strained as the rulers of the magocracies became increasingly withdrawn and obsessed with amassing magical power. This led them straight into darkness — where they found demons waiting.
What happened in the years following is a secret history that has only been uncovered in recent times. To most people of Quel'Thalas, the dwarven citadels and the seven kingdoms, these were centuries of peace and prosperity. Yet unbeknownst to all but a few, the powerful spells of elven and human mages had quietly called to the Burning Legion. The demons were happy to answer the summons and began to slip back into Azeroth. An elven society called the Council of Silvermoon had long ago sworn to forestall any full return by the Legion; this society met with the most powerful wizards of the human nations to form the Order of Tirisfal to hunt those demons who had already arrived. Eventually, the Order's members combined their magical energies to anoint a single special champion — the Guardian. Only one Guardian existed at any time, guided by the Order, and this person wielded divine-like powers to beat back the demons.
The Order and its agents were tireless in their efforts to track and destroy the demons, who grew increasingly reckless in their attempts to regain a foothold on the world they had lost so long ago. The demons finally overstepped their bounds when they began to drain dragons of their magic, at which time Aegwynn, the current Guardian, chose to aid the dragons against the Legion. With her assistance, the demons were driven back and utterly destroyed.
The world returned to a peace it never knew it had lost. Far, far away, though, the Burning Legion plotted its revenge and gathered its forces.
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