Nhani Moonfall: Origins

During my tenure in World of Warcraft, there’s been no single character I’ve embodied that has grown quite as far, accomplished quite as much, or had nearly as much an effect – both on me and other people – as Priestess Nhani Moonfall. She has gone far beyond her simple origins, and few characters have so exploded into being for me as she has. Since there seemed to be an expressed interest, I thought I’d run through her origins. If nothing else, some of it would make for interesting parallels and differences with Hani Foonmall who derived quite a few elements from her.

The origins of Nhani Moonfall begin in pre-sundering times where she was born the daughter of a priestess and brought up in a relatively small and simple community – a town I gave the name Minasaar – not too far from Zin-Azshari; Nhani herself tends to recount that she grew up seeing the light of “The City” shining in the horizon. Nhani’s mother, Lunia Moonfall, was a great influence on her, in spite of often being busy, and Nhani spent much of her childhood looking up to and attempting to follow in her footsteps.

She had a rather uneventful youth, growing up with her mother, her father and an older brother – Nhani occasionally remarks that her brother was only a decade older than her, expressing the (by her percieved, at any rate) rarity of Night elves having two children with so short time inbetween. In hindsight, she tends to note that at the time she never truly understood or perhaps even knew her mother; she simply followed because it never occured to her to do anything else.

Then, of course, came the Sundering.

Nhani was probably not all that far from an age where she’d be sent to Suramar to train as priestess acolyte, something which would likely put her on par with the age of Shandris Feathermoon, when the Legion came. Nhani doesn’t know what happened to her father – presumably he died very early on in the attack; her mother stayed behind to buy time for as many as possible to flee. Nhani describes that she was essentially dragged away forcibly, though she never knew (nor at that age, cared) who did. Unlike Shandris, Nhani had little to no combat training and never came across Tyrande Whisperwind; she spent most of the war against the Legion huddled in a corner among other refugees, trying to come to terms with her grief and loss.

With the Sundering past and the Night elves left to put a new society together, Nhani was left with having to find a new life since almost everyone and everything she’d grown up knowing and believing in was gone. She found her first new glimmers of hope in the image of Tyrande Whisperwind – the young new High Priestess who had not only survived the fall, but seemingly outright prospered. Though it would be a long time before Nhani ever truly come to know or even meet the High Priestess, Tyrande came to represent an – albeit ever distant – mother figure that, unlike Nhani’s own mother, wouldn’t just die on her.

Spurred on by both hatred for the Legion and outright hero worship for Tyrande, Nhani took on training to join the fledgling Sentinel forces as soon as she were permitted, finding a sort of peace in being able to direct her anger and grief into a purpose. Eventually she found balance in her newfound family of the Sisterhood, though by her own account it would take centuries. As a Sentinel, Nhani was considered capable, but unremarkable. She had great potential, but seemed perfectly content simply being a part of the small Sentinel detachment she ended up assigned to.

In the Shiverleaf Sentinel company, as they were called, Nhani served mostly as a combination of forward scout, mounted Huntress and front line warrior; though Nhani has expressed that any Sentinel is expected to be able to handle a bow even from the back of a Hippogryph, she has far more experience with thrown and melee weapons than she has as an archer. In stark contrast to her present, Nhani was known to be something of the jokester of the company, the one who’d play jokes and pranks (or simply talk) on her fellow sisters in arms to lighten the mood; she’s also known to have struck up a friendship with the company healer.

The Long Vigil passed oddly quietly for most part, and Nhani spent some ten thousand years patrolling the same forests, helping Furbolgs, hunting the odd Satyr and looking into the occasional intruder. It’s implied that she made several attempts at relationships during this period, few lasting more than a few years at most and all ending in failure, part due to the dangers being a Sentinel, part due to her being unwilling to sacrifice too much of her simple Sentinel life for any prospective partner.

It’s also somewhere during this period that the infamous Treefall incident took place – an occasion Nhani tends to describe as the time she “broke a tree with her back.”. In essence, her company was set to confront a particularely oversized corrupted Furbolg and Nhani ended up being thrown into a young tree with enough force that it broke. Nhani tends to remark that the company healer told her it’s something of a miracle she survived, and she describes having a notable mark somewhere across her back since. She tends to remark that she hasn’t been able to feel anything in that particular region since then.

Then came the second invasion, culminating in the battle at Mount Hyjal. Nhani wasn’t actually in that battle – her company was doing mundane things like evacuating civilians and guarding supply lines. What is noticeable is that after Hyjal, Nhani noted that in spite of being a Sentinel.. she hadn’t really been able to do anything about the Legion this time either. What’s more, with their mortality restored, Nhani suddenly found herself wondering what exactly she’d spent the last few millenia doing. Deciding she needed time to find herself and her calling, she left the Sentinels to simply spend time wandering – seeing the world as it had become, meeting their new allies, trying to see how and why the world had changed so radically over the millenia.

She spent a good year or two just drifting like that, taking everything in, before returning to her people, once more to serve – though this time as more than simply a Warrior.

It’s not entirely certain how exactly Nhani went from a former Sentinel with rudimentary, pre-sundering Priestess training to one of the more reknown Priestesses of the current age. One can surmise that perhaps Tyrande recognized potential in her and tasked her accordingly, giving her a comission that forced her to rise to the challenge, or that she was given a task no one else wanted. What matters is that she was given the Lights of Elune order, and from there she rose not only to the challenge, but to prominence. Acting with newfound responsibility and a previously largely unused wisdom tempered through thousands of years, Nhani all but came to inhabit the very image of Night elven priesthood, to the point where many would swear she has never done anything but.

Nhani’s more current history is complicated and really deserves its own post; much because it was something that developed through interactions with other people rather than simply being written down backstory. As a result, it’s also a little more convoluted in places and have marks of selective memory, fluid continuity and the odd retcon. It’s also the point where she through sheer effort and force of personality essentially went from an initial “upstart Priestess” to one of the more recognized Priestesses currently in service.

If there’s enough of an interest, I’ll see about putting one together. For now, this is more her broad strokes ancient past. Nhani was always about overcoming, in a sense – she lost her family, she got better. She lost her home, the entire society she grew up believing in, she got better. She’s a sort of a symbol of overcoming adversity and suffering, standing evidence that one can move on and get better, no matter what. She represents hope, in a sense.


16 Responses to “Nhani Moonfall: Origins”

  1. 1 Darix
    March 7, 2010 at 15:09

    I really like it ^^ A very nice yet sad story to, but she became something more after all those millenia!

  2. 2 Ewiryh
    March 7, 2010 at 16:17

    Really interesting reading this!

    I’m amazed of you capability to come up with such a long story-line for your rp-character 😮

    And that you’re so far into the wow-lore and manage to mix it together

    All in all, I’m just amazed : D

    LOVE your comics by the way ! =)

  3. March 7, 2010 at 18:02

    A interesting backstory, nothing flashy, nothing balls to wall epic…just people.
    This is the perfect background for a very plausible story. I think your idea of Nhani never truely being on the frontline shows, to me, a great show of strength of will.
    Think about it, most people would make it so that their characture’s would be on the frontline, kicking ass all over the place (I know i did with Gorvar…check the link if you lot want, still working on it…..-cough-).

    Nhani having had relationships/lovers before gives the added sense of maturity i think Tyrande lacks. Tyrande basicly clings on to one male, sacrificing a lot of her own freedom for him, Nhani on the other hand allways stayed true to herself. Hopefully her current relationship will be more open to her life style then her previous relationships.

    The Treefall incident is a sign of good thinking, a nice bit of trivia that adds a realism to a warrior, war wounds and injuries are allways cool.

    Good backstory.

    • 4 Nhani
      March 8, 2010 at 09:59

      A whole lot of it just came naturally really; it was all at the beginning of european retail, and I knew the game assumed your character was young and untaught. Since Nhani was an utterly ancient Sentinel veteran, I made her reasonably low key at first to essentially “play nice”. She wasn’t intended as an old war hero, really – I always figured she joined the Sentinels for part the wrong reasons (hatred, vengeance, etcetera) and that she left because she needed to find what she was meant to do.

      Her troubled love life just came of its own, too; I couldn’t imagine her having lived that long without in the least trying, and yet she’d obviously never met anyone she’d managed to stick with long enough for it to matter. The impression I had was that she’d essentially put the Sentinels – her family of sorts at the time – first, and never really got around to move any relationship further than a casual fling. I actually think old Nhani Moonfall is.. difficult.. to have a romance with, both because she needs plenty of personal space and freedom, as well as that it’s essentially the Huntress aspect of her that seeks out partners, rather than the much less fickle and much more stable Mother aspect – and she tends to keep the two separate.

      One of the reasons I felt she might actually be able to stick with her current Draenei friend is actually that he isn’t a night elf – he’s close enough to catch her interest, but different enough that there’s a sort of comfortable safe distance of sorts; she’s neither responsible for him nor have to be anything other than herself.

      • March 8, 2010 at 10:47

        It must also be frightning for her former partner’s to be with a priestess, after all priestesses are the closest thing to Elune, and therefore sacred.
        Calming down one’s…urges is one thing yes, but building up a relationship with someone with a big occupation, such as Nhani’s, is very difficult.

        However her Draenei friend (did we name that guy allready or…?) does not have that limitation, since to him Elune is just a diety while his true faith is with the Light and the Naaru.

        When i gazed at the title, of course i thought of Dragon Age:Orgins (Still need to play that game…) and i was actually daydreaming of actually playing Nhani as a refugee, running from the demons and eventually ending up to her current predicament pre-Cataclysm. That got me thinking of compagions…did she have any friends back then she still have now?

        Again I think you did a good job with your background here, Night Elves, if done right, are very fun to write stories for.

        • 6 Nhani
          March 8, 2010 at 16:12

          Oh it’s implied that it’s a certain NPC she has an interest in; I have a tendency towards using veiled references rather than saying it out loud because then people can’t take issue. It’s not a very major NPC, so I don’t expect them to, but it’s safer that way. Especially in case Blizzard decide to use him more in the near future or any of the like; so long as Nhani’s never mentioned him by name in character, I can conveniently retcon around as I please if it becomes necessary.

          But the current implication is that she’s sweet on none other than Colosos, Grand Champion of the Exodar. Though he was a bit more dashing as a Paladin *cough*

          As for old friends.. there are a few Sentinels she’s served with largely since she first joined the Sisterhood, but she pretty much lost/severed all ties with anyone else who survived the devastation of Minasaar. She just closed up for awhile, didn’t really talk to anyone until she got back on her feet again. It’s implied that her brother might’ve survived, but if so then they still haven’t spoken for some ten thousand years and I’m not sure if the reunion would be an entirely happy one.

          • March 9, 2010 at 00:34

            You have a knack for creating plotlines that develop over time.
            The Draenei, the relationship with the brother who may or may not be alive…and in the comic the reason why Hani left the Sentinels.

  4. 8 Illidan
    March 7, 2010 at 22:38

    Beautiful backstory and really nice flow of words! 🙂

  5. 9 Raz
    March 7, 2010 at 23:36

    I see a double ‘came’ in there. ;p

  6. 11 Jai
    March 8, 2010 at 21:11

    Very interesting story! And I know what you mean about charactrs just grabbing onto you and not letting go.

  7. 12 Xel
    March 12, 2010 at 04:51

    Fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this down; I knew I would enjoy reading it. I loved that you start Nhani’s background with the Sundering; it really does make Priestess Moonfall all the more an appropriate avatar of the Night Elven people. I encourage you to continue this sort of lore-crafting with your main character.

    Night Elves are the reason I picked up and played Warcraft 3, and the reason why I tried out World of Warcraft (I was then in a staunch position against pay-to-play games). Their lore, society and surely their looks have kept me fascinated with this race (and keeps me Alliance-side as well, much to the dismay of a couple of old friends). The side of my brain which is addicted to WoW will always hold a special place for my first (and still my favorite) character: my Night Elf warrior. Her history would not be nearly as ancient as Nhani’s, but I would like to create a fan fiction tale of her exploits; you have been a wonderful inspiration to me both in your comic and through these extra excerpts concerning lore and character histories.

  8. 13 Nirene Feathersong
    March 21, 2010 at 03:18

    Most interesting. Nhani’s character background is very similar to that I’ve made up to the character Nirene.

    Basically, it all has it origins from the Sundering. However, Nirene, and her mother Lyranne, does not have any direct impact on the Sundering. The whole event occured when Nirene were at a very young age (about 3-4 years old in human years, no idea how much that would be in elven years), and her mother hid her away in what is now Winterspring in Kalimdor. There, they got separated from the rest of the elven society along with a few other refugees when the great Sundering occured. Her father, who took part in the War of the Ancients, were killed during the Sundering. What happened to her other relatives, however, is unknown.

    Nirene, her mother and the rest of the refugees would have to survive for a few thousand years in the harsh climate, only to be discovered by the druids of Cenarius at some point. The druids brought the refugees back to their settlements, where they were greeted by many other night elves.

    At this time, Nirene would be found by the High Priestess Tyrande herself, who were admired by Nirene’s hunting abilities, but saw that she lacked discipline and respect for nature. Tyrande then took Nirene as her honored student, and trained her to become an excellent Huntress.

    Nirene, much like Nhani, didn’t play any particular role during the Third War and the battle at Mount Hyjal, but were instead one among the few entrusted with the safekeeping of the civilians, which were the first mission entrusted upon her. When the rest of the Sentinels returned from the great battle, Tyrande praised Nirene for her good effort.

    That leaves it all to where we are today. The night elves had made new allies, and new missions were entrusted upon Nirene, even diplomatic ones.

    Now, this may look very little, but it’s just something plain and simple I’ve been putting together as a start, seeing as I’m quite new in the role-playing world. It’s one of those things I have to work on as I move along. 😉

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