- This article is about the character biography. For information on how to defeat Kael'thas Sunstrider in World of Warcraft, see Kael'thas Sunstrider (tactics). For Magisters' Terrace, see Kael'thas Sunstrider (Magisters' Terrace tactics).
The last of the Sunstrider dynasty, Kael'thas Sunstrider (often shortened to Kael) was the Prince of Quel'Thalas and a senior member of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran. After the death of his father, King Anasterian Sunstrider, and the destruction of most of Quel'Thalas, Kael'thas has led what remains of his people — first in the increasingly hostile Alliance, and then in the service of Illidan Stormrage — acting only for the benefit of his shattered homeland and its aggrieved people.
But Kael'thas now acknowledges a more sinister being as his master. Subsequent events have led him to betray Illidan, his own people, and existence itself...giving himself willingly to the service of the Burning Legion and its lord, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver.
In World of Warcraft, Kael'thas is voiced by Quinton Flynn.
Prince Kael'thas was a powerful mage and member of the Six, the shadowy high council of the Kirin Tor. Prior to the Second War, he and the other members of the high council questioned Khadgar about the orcs and the events in Karazhan that led to the death of Medivh. ( )
Compassionate and caring, Kael'thas spent most of his time in Dalaran. During the Third War, with the Scourge invasion of Quel'Thalas, he evacuated as many survivors as he could and burned many of the enchanted forests to spite the Scourge. He assumed command over the bulk of the surviving high elves (see the fall of Quel'Thalas and Splintering) and renamed his followers blood elves in homage to their murdered brethren. All he feels now is hatred for the undead that ravaged his homeland, rage for the Alliance he feels failed his people, desperation over his people's collective addiction to magic, and grief for his ravaged kingdom.
As the last known surviving member of the Sunstrider dynasty, Kael'thas is the heir to the high elven crown but has yet to take it. Instead, he styles himself as the "Lord of the blood elves". He is proficient in siphoning magical energies from demons to feed his addiction and has taught his brethren to do the same. He salvaged the skull of his father, Anasterian, from the ruins of Quel'Thalas, enshrining it in Tempest Keep. The skull is among the artifacts that the red and green dragonflights would need to restore the Sunwell. ( )
In battle, Kael'thas naturally relies foremost on his magic. However, he is also a skilled swordsman and wields the Flamestrike sword, the ancient runeblade of the Sunstrider House that was first wielded by his ancestor, Dath'Remar. ( )
The Prince and the Sorceress
A wizard of great skill and power, [Kael] became a high-ranking member of the Kirin Tor. His continuing magical studies brought him to the Violet Citadel, where he met Lady Jaina Proudmoore while she was still an apprentice. He was immediately drawn to the brilliant and lovely teenager, though the difference between their ages filled him with guilt and self-doubt. Eventually he courted her; however, he had little success in winning her regard. She remained dedicated to her craft above all else.
When rumors began to circulate that Jaina had given her heart to Prince Arthas Menethil, Kael'thas was deeply grieved. In time Jaina and Arthas parted ways, but it was all too obvious to Kael'thas that they still cherished feelings for one another. Kael'thas and Jaina would never have more than an awkward friendship.
The love triangle of Arthas, Kael'thas, and Jaina is fleshed out in the novel Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.
Aftermath of the Third War
The Hunt for Illidan
Following the destruction of Silvermoon, Kael began to notice an emptiness within himself and his brethren, an insatiable hunger and disharmony. However, there was no time to deal with that, as Kael had other duties.
Kael and his soldiers were stationed in the Silverpine Forest when a disturbance began to rile up the undead in and around Dalaran. They had begun to raid the outposts Kael had established, so he gathered up his forces to seek refuge in the relative safety on the other side of the River Arevass.
As he was loading the supply wagons, he was met by two unexpected strangers, Maiev Shadowsong and Tyrande Whisperwind. These night elves had pursued Illidan Stormrage for three days across the sea. Kael guessed that perhaps Illidan was behind the disturbances at Dalaran, and when he told them his tale, Tyrande immediately offered her assistance, thinking that he could help them track down Illidan. Maiev believed it to be a waste of time, but reluctantly agreed. With the protection of the night elves and their Mountain Giant allies, Kael quickly made his way to Pyrewood Village to retrieve his buried supply caches. As they gathered more reinforcements, Maiev asked Kael where the rest of his brethren were, and he told them of the destruction of Quel'Thalas. Tyrande empathized, but warned that vengeance and rage was not a pleasant road to walk.
As they arrived in Pyrewood, the undead were lying in wait and ambushed the caravan. Kael, Maiev, Tyrande and their forces battled off the first attackers, but as the second wave advanced, they realized that the caravan would never survive another assault. Maiev and Kael rushed the caravan across the bridge, while Tyrande stayed to fend off the undead alone. As she called upon the powers of Elune to protect her, the bridge fell away, and Tyrande was swept down the river. Kael wanted to pursue her, but Maiev stopped him, saying that she was a warrior and knew the risks. Maiev then demanded that Kael honour their bargain, and help her capture Illidan.
Kael and Maiev tracked Illidan to Dalaran, where Kael's scouts found him performing a strange ritual with a mysterious gem. Malfurion came and told them that Illidan's spell was using the Eye of Sargeras to break Northrend apart. Immediately, they advanced upon his location, while Kael defended their bases from the voracious undead. When Illidan's spell was interrupted, Malfurion approached his brother and condemned him for his part in Tyrande's death. Kael, perplexed, suggested that it was premature to assume she was dead, and was vehemently silenced by Maiev.
Malfurion, realizing he had been duped, left Maiev entangled in vines while he and Illidan set off to save Tyrande. Maiev eventually freed herself and set off in pursuit, while Kael'thas was left in the ruins of Dalaran.
The Rise of the Blood Elves
Kael found the Grand Marshal Garithos at Dalaran, who dismissed his story of the night elves as a fanciful excuse. Garithos, Kael's commanding officer, harbored a poorly-hidden disdain for all non-human races. Garithos informed Kael that a strikeforce was encroaching on Dalaran, and that he was going to head them off at the mountains. Kael was quick to volunteer his assistance, but Garithos had other plans. He explained that a second force was believed to be approaching from the east, and that the arcane observatories needed repairs so that they could be used to spot them. Kael did as ordered, but when he came to Lordamere Lake, he found the shipyard ruined, and had no route across the water. Lady Vashj, a naga witch, soon arrived to offer her aid, citing their common ancestry. Vashj gave him boats, which Kael used to ferry his troops to the outlying observatories.
When Garithos returned from the front, he condemned Kael for consorting with the naga, despite the prince's assurances that they were not a threat to the Alliance. Garithos warned Kael that he would not tolerate treason before leaving Kael to keep things in line at Dalaran. Garithos' Emissary soon arrived with further orders, reporting that the observatories had detected an undead force in the west. Kael was to defeat them, though the emissary also recalled his foot soldiers, cavalry, and support teams to the front lines. Kael was left with only his fellow elves to aid him, and the undead were quick to overtake the outposts across the river. Once again, Lady Vashj arrived with her naga, and though Kael was wary of accepting her offer, she insisted that without her help, he and his brethren would surely fall. Realizing that it would be impossible to survive without these reinforcements, Kael accepted. Together they defeated the undead.
After the battle, Kael told Vashj about how his people felt an emptiness ever since Quel'thalas was destroyed. Vashj explained to Kael that just like the naga, his people were addicted to magic. Without the Sunwell to give them a constant supply of magical energies, they would surely suffer a fatal withdrawal. Kael heard Garithos approaching, and bid Vashj to flee, but Garithos' men saw the naga escaping and arrested Kael and his people for treason. Garithos smugly told Kael that he now had all the proof he needed to deal with him and the other elves as he felt they deserved, and he had them all imprisoned in the Dungeons of Dalaran.
Vashj crept in through the sewers of the dungeons and freed Kael, then helped him free his brethren. Vashj promised him escape from his human oppressors through Kel'Thuzad's interdimensional portal, where her master, Illidan, was waiting on the other side. As they neared the exit, Kael met his former comrade, Jailor Kassan, who he was forced to slay in order to escape. Upon leaving the dungeons, the blood elves and naga fled through the portal Archimonde used to enter the world of Azeroth, and into a new world.
Kael found himself on the barren lands of the Hellfire Peninsula, and Vashj revealed that this Outland was once the orcish homeland of Draenor. They searched for Illidan for days, until Vashj caught a familiar scent on the winds. Maiev had captured Illidan and was escorting him back to her base in a prison wagon. Kael and Vashj's forces quickly rushed into the fray and battled Maiev's army in order to retrieve the unconscious Illidan and return him to their base, where they could undo the magical lock that kept him caged.
Illidan was pleased with the tenacity of all his servants, new and old alike, and told them of the situation in Outland. To flee from his vexed master, Kil'jaeden, Illidan had fled to Outland only to find it overrun by Magtheridon and his fel orcs, reinforced by demons arriving through Ner'zhul's dimensional gates. Kael had hoped Illidan might be able to cure the blood elves of their addiction to magic, and asked if he could help them. Illidan sadly told him that there was no cure for their condition, but promised Kael that if he joined him, he would provide the blood elves with enough magical energies to keep their hunger sated forever. Upon hearing this, Kael pledged his loyalty to Illidan. The blood elf Rommath was sent to spread Illidan's message of a new homeland to Quel'Thalas.
Kael and Vashj protected Illidan as he went about closing the interdimensional gateways. Kael discovered a camp of draenei being assaulted by orcs, and lent them his aid. He was greeted by Akama, the Elder Sage, who offered his allegiance to Illidan. Finally, the time came to assault Magtheridon's Black Temple. Illidan, Kael, Vashj, and Akama all led their forces against Magtheridon's fortress, infiltrating it and finally defeating Magtheridon in his own throne room.
As Illidan stood triumphant, Kil'jaeden descended from the fiery sky and rebuked Illidan for his insolence in trying to hide. The demon gave him one last chance to save himself - destroy the Frozen Throne, or face his eternal wrath.
The attack against the Lich King
Kael and his new allies returned to Northrend, where they were immediately met by Anub'arak and his troublesome race. Though they kept them at bay, Illidan's forces slowly advanced on the Icecrown Glacier.
Arthas soon arrived with his detachment of undead. Kael, who had known the prince in the time before the war, warned him that Illidan's forces were vast, and that Arthas would never make it to Icecrown in time to save the Lich King.
When Arthas emerged from Azjol'Nerub, it was a race against time to reach the Frozen Throne before Illidan could. As Arthas and Illidan struggled to activate the obelisks surrounding the glacier, and open the gates into the Frozen Throne, Kael'thas and Lady Vashj did their best to interrupt Arthas in his struggle. Kael'thas and Arthas faced off against each other in combat several times, but Kael's forces were pushed back by the Scourge, and Arthas was able to activate all four obelisks. Arthas and Illidan met in single combat at the base of the glacier, just before the gates, now wide-open. After fierce combat, Arthas managed to get the best of Illidan, and Illidan's twitching body was tossed to the ground. Kael and Vashj were left leaderless on the snowy slopes of Icecrown as Arthas claimed his destiny. Together they took Illidan's unconscious body with them as they fled back to Outland.
The Burning Crusade
The remaining blood elves on Azeroth, now without support from the Alliance, are looking desperately to the Horde to help them reach Outland, where they can reunite with Kael'thas and achieve the golden destiny he promised them.
Kael'thas resides in the Eye of Tempest Keep, his citadel in Outland, floating among the ethereal islands of the Netherstorm. He leads the Sunfury, the legions of blood elves in Outland in the service of Illidan, Lord of Outland. However, Kael's loyalty to Illidan is beginning to crumble, and there are very few - even among his own people - who would wish to join with his new allies...
Attunement to Caverns of Time: Battle of Mount Hyjal
After the Sundering ten thousand years earlier, Illidan had taken seven vials containing the waters of the Well of Eternity in order to create a new one at the top of Mt. Hyjal. Illidan used three to create the new Well of Eternity, but it was not known what happened to the other four until recently. It was revealed that Kael'thas received one of the vials, as did Vashj. In order to access the Battle of Mount Hyjal in the Caverns of Time, one had to complete a lengthy quest chain in Heroic mode in the other dungeons of Outland before creating the Tempest Key - the key to Kael'thas' inner sanctum. The players then had to defeat Kael'thas and take his Vial of Eternity. The access to Tempest Keep is now free and do not require the long chain quest, although players can still do it if they want. Similarly, as of patch 2.4, the Vials of Eternity quest is no longer required to enter the Hyjal Summit.
An Unholy Alliance
The Scryers discovered that Kael'thas had turned his back on Illidan and with the Burning Legion.
Kael'thas, aware of Illidan's insanity (brought on by his defeat at the hands of Arthas Menethil at Icecrown, nearly four years earlier), "switched paymasters accordingly", according to Magister Theledorn. Kael's decision to ally himself with the Burning Legion not only led him to betray Illidan, but also the Horde and his own people - the many blood elf pilgrims and adventurers traveling from Azeroth. At Manaforge Ara, agents of the Burning Legion bearing orders from Kael mingle with his Sunfury servitors. This also justifies how blood elf players are able to battle against Kael'thas in Tempest Keep.
The Scryers, recognizing that Kael's mad bid for power will lead the blood elven race to doom, continue to fight against Kael'thas and his Sunfury fanatics in the hope of saving their people. This is the primary reason for the Scryers' defection. Kael'thas, though judged and seen as a madman, is merely a misguided leader, who will stop at nothing to save his people, even if that means the slaughter of his former followers, the (in his eyes) traitorous Scryers.
The Cipher of Damnation
Through spying on the Earthen Ring and their activities in Shadowmoon Valley, Kael'thas has gained the knowledge of the Cipher of Damnation. The Cipher of Damnation was used by Gul'dan to sunder the orcs' connection to the spirits of the land, and may have been the same (or similar) spell uttered by Thaurissan when he summoned the fiery destroyer Ragnaros to Azeroth.
Khadgar and A'dal request help from any able-bodied heroes to prevent Kael'thas from ever using the Cipher of Damnation, but anyone who answers the call must first go through the Trials of the Naaru...
When Kael'thas is defeated he falls to the floor and can be looted. However, it turns out that he is not truly dead — he returns to shout out a warning to everyone in Shattrath City, when the heroes turns in proof of his "demise":
- Silence descends upon Shattrath
- A'dal's thoughts invade your mind
- Kael'thas Sunstrider has been defeated by <name> and (his/her) allies
- The time to strike at the remaining blood elves of Tempest Keep is now. Take arms and let A'dal's song of battle empower you!
- Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: Your monkeys failed to finish the job, naaru! Beaten but alive... The same mistake was not made when we took command of your vessel.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: All for what? Trinkets? You are too late. The preparations have already begun. Soon the master will make his return.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: And there is nothing you or that fool, Illidan, can do to stop me! You have both served me in your own right - unwittingly.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider yells: Lay down your arms and succumb to the might of Kil'jaeden!
The Sun King Comes Home
Despite his defeat in Tempest Keep, Kael'thas has survived the ordeal with the aid of Priestess Delrissa, and his plans remain unchanged. His appearance has changed, his skin sickly pale, and a crystal lodged in his chest after falling into a pit after his defeat in Tempest Keep. Having collected the necessary energies from his manaforges in Netherstorm, Kael'thas is returning to Quel'Thalas to reinvigorate the Sunwell - not as the source of his people's magic, but rather as the mystic portal that will allow him to summon his new master, Kil'jaeden, much as the Well of Eternity was used to summon Sargeras ten millennia before.
Kael'thas made his return as the final boss of the 5-man Magisters' Terrace dungeon on the Isle of Quel'Danas. Before settling in, he and his "felblood" minions assaulted Blood Knight headquarters in Silvermoon and captured the naaru M'uru, the source of the Blood Knights' holy magic, taking the weakened naaru to the Sunwell Plateau. This has led the Blood Knight Order and its leader, Lady Liadrin, to break off ties with the House of Sunstrider and swear allegiance to the Sha'tar and the Shattered Sun Offensive, in an effort to take revenge on the treacherous Prince.
Inside the Terrace, the blue dragon Kalecgos - in his half-elf form - provides a quest, [70D] , that involves killing Kael'thas and taking his head, in order to attune to the heroic mode for Magisters' Terrace.
There has been speculation as to whether or not Kael'thas was ever officially crowned King of Quel'Thalas. The blood elves in Silvermoon still refer to him as "Prince Kael'thas", as do certain members of his own forces (Ambassador Solannas and Warden Mellichar, to name a few). However, the Burning Crusade brings the question to center stage, with two discoveries in the Draenei starting zones - one in Azuremyst Isle, and one in Bloodmyst Isle.
On Azuremyst Isle, a set of orders were sent to Engineer "Spark" Overgrind, a gnome working with the Venture Co. to steal the Exodar. In discussion with the goblin Geezle, Overgrind asked the Venture camp leader if he knew what Kael'thas did to people who failed him - implying that the gnome envoy was in fact a servitor of Kael'thas. After killing Overgrind, draenei players discover a set of orders given to Overgrind in regards to stealing the Exodar, a component of Tempest Keep, back from the draenei. It makes several mentions of a "Master" and it is signed "King Sunstrider". After Overgrind is confronted with the knowledge that he is a traitor to the Alliance, he cackles and confirms that he is a sleeper agent, asking the player "Does it frighten you to know that there are those that would serve the Legion with such devotion as to remain unwavering citizens of your pointless civilizations until called upon?"
Another indication that Kael'thas officially took the throne is from a Sunhawk missive, found by draenei players on the bodies of blood elf spies in Bloodmyst Isle — translated so that it can be read by the player — before bringing it to Velen in the Exodar. It also mentions a "Master" and is signed by Kael'thas himself. The missive details Kael'thas' plan to send reinforcements to the islands to retake the Exodar and bring it back to Tempest Keep. It begins with "Declaration from the Sun King" and reads in full:
- Sunhawks - my precious, loyal children - your king commends you. Your presence on Azeroth is of the utmost importance to both myself and the Master.
- Soon, the sun portal will be ready to transport reinforcements from Tempest Keep directly to Bloodmyst Isle.
- We will reclaim the Exodar. We will slay the blue skinned mongrels where they stand. Velen will pay for his crimes.
- -King Kael'thas Sunstrider
The "sun portal" in question is located near the crashed remnants of the Vector Coil in western Bloodmyst.
The possibility also exists that Kael'thas has been referring to himself as king without having ever been officially crowned. This is supported by the fact that the only references to Kael'thas as king are made by himself, while everyone else calls him prince.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
- The Scourge devoured our ancient homeland of Quel'Thalas. The once-proud bloodline of my people is nearly spent. The few of us that remain now call ourselves blood elves, in homage to our murdered people.
- This is preposterous! Am I to assault the undead with nothing but sticks and harsh language?
- Nothing of my homeland remains but ash and sorrow.
- My hunger for magic is clouding my judgement!
- All I feel is hate and rage.
- The Alliance has failed my people.
- Arthas: Are you still upset that I stole Jaina from you, Kael?
- Kael: You've taken everything I've ever cared for, Arthas. Vengeance is all I have left.
- When the Flames settle, we shall see who still stands
- Lord Illidan awaits!
Kael'thas narrates the trailer for "Fury of the Sunwell", which is patch 2.4.0.
It was called the Sunwell...
A sacred fount of untold power, it saturated every fiber of our being. In the warmth of its glow, we thrived...until the shadow of death fell upon us.
Only after the Sunwell's destruction did we realize how dependent we'd become upon its magic, how much we needed to feed! In the wake of our devastation, I named our people "sin'dorei" - blood elves. My people turned to me for answers. I promised them a cure. Strangely, we found deliverance in the demon Illidan. Illidan offered new sources of arcane power, and so I joined him in Outland - pledging to return one day to lead our people to glory!
But Illidan's agenda was short-sighted. I grew impatient. In secret, I began harvesting what energies I could. I had a brief taste of TRUE power...before it was taken from me!
But...all is not lost. The Sunwell's essence endured, kept hidden by those who sought to protect it. Now, I have returned with the knowledge that sacrifices must be made before we can reclaim our birthright. I have forged a new alliance. Soon, the blessed rays of the Sunwell will shine once again, and usher into this world the one...who will deliver us all.
Don't look so smug! I know what you're thinking, but Tempest Keep was merely a set back. Did you honestly believe I would trust the future to some blind, half-night elf mongrel? Hahahaha... Oh no, no, no, he was merely an instrument, a stepping stone to a much larger plan! It has all led to this...and this time, you will not interfere!
The phrase "merely a setback" has become a common utterance by players discussing potential future dungeons and raids, often with the joking implication that Kael'Thas will somehow return.
| Preceded by:|
Anasterian Sunstrider (as King of Quel'Thalas)
Lord of the Blood Elves
| Succeeded by:|
Lor'themar Theron (as Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas)