Demon Hunters are warriors empowered by fel magics, dedicated to fighting demons. Following in the footsteps of Illidan Stormrage, they form a pact and undertake many rituals to fight against the forces of demonic chaos by using its own terrible powers against it. These mysterious warriors ritually blind themselves so that they develop 'spectral sight' that enables them to see demons and undead with greater clarity.
The demon hunter is recognized by their iconic blindfolds, warglaives and tattoos.They wield these demonically charged weapons in battle and even call upon demonic energies to augment their formidable combat skills. Although they are counted as some of the mightiest warriors within society, the demon hunters are often perceived with dread and wariness for their motivations.
The first demon hunter was the kaldorei sorcerer Illidan Stormrage, done out of a desperate gambit to save the Well of Eternity from being destroyed during the War of the Ancients. Illidan had pledged himself to Sargeras in an attempt to infiltrate their ranks and unravel them from within. After his imprisonment, a group of night elves were inspired by his example and made a pact to protect the people from the demons. Though many could not gain their abilities in the same manner as Illidan, they discovered other means.
During the Third War, Archimonde had returned to Azeroth to uproot Nordrassil and summon the rest of the Burning Legion through the second Well of Eternity Illidan had created in order to sate his addiction to magic. Tyrande Whisperwind believed Illidan was their chance at turning the tide of war and vowed to free him despite the protests of his brother, Malfurion Stormrage - who still believed his brother untrustworthy for his botched attempt to save the Well. The wardens in the barrow den guarding Illidan refused to comply with her orders, and Tyrande reluctantly had to cut them down to free him.
After helping save Tyrande's life alongside his brother, Illidan left for Outland to hide from Kil'jaedan after failing to destroy the Frozen Throne. Blood elf forces under the command of Kael'thas Sunstrider would join Illidan in Outland and pledge their services to him for the promise of curing their mana addiction, something that ultimately went unfulfilled. Anticipating a second attack on Azeroth and revenge for failing the Legion, Illidan began preparing his forces after failing to destroy the Frozen Throne a second time. To secure his foothold as Lord of Outland, his forces - dubbed the Illidari - took drastic steps to rule the land, such as closing the all the demon portals, enslaving Broken to work in the mines, draining the waters of Zangarmarsh to create a third Well of Eternity, siphoning the souls of dead draenei by the hundreds from Auchindoun to empower the Shrine of Lost Souls, and rounding up orcs into Hellfire Citadel to forecefully convert them into fel orcs using the blood of Magtheridon.
The Illidari began making more strikes at demon worlds using their own portals, such as one ruled by the pit lord Azgoth and the dreadlord homeworld of Nathreza. The missions were successful, but Outland began to fall more and more into disrepair and upheavel, especially when the Burning Legion arrived. Azeroth adventurers arrived through the Dark Portal to fight both forces while Kil'jaedan waited to dispose of them both. The Illidari were dealt a substantial blow when Kael'thas betrayed Illidan after growing unsatisfaction with his promise to deliver a cure, despite Illidan having devised one but kept it away. The blood mage felt his descent into madness accentuated by fel taint and despair, ultimately turning to the eredar lord. More blood elf forces left to join A'dal in Shattrath, now known as the Scryers. None of that seemed to matter to the demon hunter, who was so transfixed on his crusade that he allowed Outland to fall apart around his ears more and more until adventurers were marching on his doorstep at the Black Temple. The warden Maiev Shadowsong, the rebel sage Akama, and other adventurers defeated Illidan while his forces had left to attack the prison world of Mardum and secure the Sargerite Keystone, a magical artifact that could allow them to head to Argus itself. Their mission was successful, but the wardens apprehended them upon returning and sealed them within the Vault of the Wardens.
Years later, the Burning Legion would return after Gul'dan had been sent to Azeroth from an alternate timeline. In an act of desperation did Maiev free the remaining Illidari after the orc warlock and the indoctrinated traitor Cordana Felsong stole Illidan's corpse. The Illidari cooperated with the other orders in order to return Illidan's soul to his body and carry out his plan to head to Argus.
Development and Abilities
Demon hunters have a variety of abilities that assist them in destroying demons, though the power coursing through their bodies also allows them to prevail over lesser foes. They forego heavy armor, valuing mobility and speed. As a demon hunter grows in power, their appearance evoles as well, becoming more and more demonic. The changes are cosmetic and can take many different forms, from burning eyes to black blood. By the time the demon hunter reaches the pinnacle of his development, they are a twisted and dark version of theur former self. The exact changes vary but can include glowing red eyes, horns, clawed feet and hands, wings; cloven hooves, a spiked tail, dark skin, deeper voices, and similar cosmetic changes.
A demon hunter can drain a demon’s energy and even life force to fuel their own powers. They mainly make use of arcane and fire energy, with shadow being rare. This energy within them can be channeled into a melee weapon to increase its powers. In time, the Demon Hunter becomes more proficient in channeling demonic energy into their weapons, and highly skilled Demon Hunters are adept at this technique. They also possess the ability to cover their bodies in a shell of flame. At the pinnacle of evolution, Demon hunters can unleash the demon in them and temporarily metamorphosize into a demon.
Kaldorei society shuns demon hunters, and most do not understand the sacrifices involved. Other cultures share the night elves' distrust on account of Illidan's shaky rapport and the dangers of fel taint, and the shadowy individuals are not welcome in cities throughout the Alliance or Horde-controlled lands. Citizens and soldiers may allow a demon hunter to stay at an inn or take a brief rest at a tavern, but they watch them warily and breathe sighs of relief when they leave. These people do not see the demon hunters as heroes or martyrs they are but rather dangerous individuals who consort with dark powers, like warlocks. Such ignorance embitters many demon hunters who turn to solace for comfort. However, such stigmas are rooted in some degree of truth, as demonic taint is a constant struggle. Only one in five survive the ritual process, either committing suicide, going insane, and burning alive from the sheer intensity of the fel energy. Those who survive undergo strict discipline to temper the demon within, lest they become consumed by it and go mad. As a result, demon hunters can often become a liability and a danger to themselves as well as otherrs.
The stigma was weakened somewhat with their efforts during the third invasion of Azeroth.
Race and initiation
The tradition of the demon hunter arises from night elf history, and almost all demon hunters are night elves. A few blood elves make the pledge as well, seeking revenge for the destruction of their home. Other races can become demon hunters, but such individuals are rare.
To become a demon hunter, a hero must find one who is willing to lead them through a series of complex rituals. These rituals involve capturing a demon and sacrificing it in order to bind a portion of its spirit inside the hero. As part of the ceremony, the initiate burns out their eyes with a magic blade to entrap a demonic essence within their body. Most then bind their mutilated eyes with strips of cloth. In return for this sacrifice, they gain the ability to see the world without vision — creatures are visible as dimly glowing forms against a gray and murky background. Demonic energy blazes like burning pitch in the night.
The comprehensive list of demon hunter rituals can be found at Demon Hunter Rites and Rituals.
Equipment and weaponry
Though equipment obviously varies from hunter to hunter, one universal element of the order seems to be the blindfold. Used to conceal the remains of the demon hunters' mutilated eye sockets, the blindfold is usually some dark but mundane-looking fabric. Blindfolds are occasionally neglected, perhaps to make the demon hunter appear more intimidating. A second common occurrence among Demon Hunters is the tendency for the males among their numbers to be stripped to the waist, which is just one display of the demon hunters' emphasis on the importance of agility and general rejection of heavier armor. Female demon hunters have been similarly garbed, wearing only the bare minimum of clothing on their upper bodies, sometimes even nothing at all. Demon hunters further tend to wear what appears to be cloth or leather, rarely donning plate and mail, favoring greater speed and agility on the battlefield.
To contrast their stark lack of armor and clothing in general, demon hunters seem to typically carry large, curved warglaives in the style of Illidan's own twin Warglaives of Azzinoth. Though the exact reason for this tendency isn't well explained, there are several possible reasons. One is that this kind of weapon has simply become a tradition over the years, later demon hunters mimicking the first of their kind. Another is that this style of curved warglaives is common among the kind of demons that they have to kill as part of their basic initiation process. A third explanation is that the dual-bladed nature of their large, curved weapons allows them to deal the most damage with the least amount of effort, allowing them to focus on their agility and speed. A final explanation is that this kind of weapon is somehow easier to magically charge or channel through, though there is nothing that directly suggests this.
Demon hunters also possess a plethora of magical abilities, most notably the ability to metamorphose. Many abilities also tend to vary, possibly derived from the type of demon that they originally partially absorbed.
Warglaives mainly appear as a strange cross between a small buckler and a sharp-looking, curved, two-bladed short sword. While many of the demon hunters rely on non-magic weapons, eventually most have either one of these double blades or a matching pair.
The use of such weapons tells a lot about the individual wielding them. The inwardly-curving nature of the blades means that the demon hunter must get extremely close to their opponent, literally within what would normally be punching range, in order to get maximum use of the blades. The warglaives would be swung in wide arcs at extreme speed, viciously lacerating the foe. More often than not, the warglaives will have intricate serrations on the outer edge of the blade near the central buckle, adding yet another facet to the brutal nature of the weapons.
Notable Demon Hunters
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