The priest is the master of healing and preservation, restoring wounded allies, shielding them in battle and even resurrecting fallen comrades from death. While they hold a variety of protective and enhancement spells to bolster allies, the priest can also wreak terrible vengeance on enemies, using the grand powers of the Holy Light to smite and purge them or the devastating powers of the Void to decimate their minds. In faith in a greater existence and the wonders of the divine, many find a greater purpose. Called to serve powers beyond most mortal understanding, priests preach wonders and provide for the spiritual needs of the people. More than mere functionaries, these elders are the emissaries from the divine to the mortal, and from the mortal to the divine. They enforce the will of their deities with Divine Magic.
Priests are the bridge-keepers between the holy powers. Devoted to the tenets of the religions and philosophies that inspire them, these ecclesiastics quest to spread the knowledge and influence of their faith. They have the full authority of their religious bodies to administer the mysteries of their religion, usually through some sort of sacrificial character.
The history of the priesthood is as old as the history of paladins and even the Light itself. While the draenei were the first known physical race to be associated with the forces of "The Light", humans were the first to discover the Holy Light on Azeroth and were responsible for passing on the religion to other races, most notably the high elves and dwarves. Humans built mighty churches and cathedrals as places of worship and teaching of the Light. The religion teaches its followers to be virtuous in life, and while the religion is more philosophical than theistic, its practitioners do believe their devotion connects them to a greater and mysterious force in the universe. There is mention in older lore that divine beings known as "hope" guide The Light's worshipers with an unseen hand. Humans have produced great priests who have healed their allies or have used the powers of the Light to purge their enemies.
The kaldorei are especially devout in their practice of the Light, believing it to be the light of Elune. A large order known as the Sisterhood of Elune is dedicated to preserving her balance and spreading her warmth to those in need. Many of these priests would go on to become wardens after the War of the Ancients. Strongly associated with healing, tranquility and harmony, Elune is a goddess of peace, but she is not always a pacifist, as she does not advocate peace at all costs. One of her aspects is the Night Warrior, who takes the valiant among the dead and sets them riding across the sky as stars. The Night Warrior is the incarnation of Elune's wrath. The ritual to become the avatar of the Night Warrior is extremely dangerous, and even witnessing it puts you in danger. Legend says that long ago, the Night Warrior was used by the night elves to carve out their empire. None who have attempted the ritual since then have survived, for Elune's raw power tears them apart.
The Clerics of Northshire were human priests who served the Kingdom of Stormwind during the First War. The clerics served as healers on the battlefield, but were ill-prepared for the hazards of combat, and thus suffered heavy casualties. This order was largely destroyed, and the Second War saw fragile priests replaced on the battlefield by armored paladins, the Knights of the Silver Hand — established by the clerics' leader Archbishop Alonsus Faol and his apprentice Uther the Lightbringer.
Despite the departure of the high elves from the Alliance, some elves still remained true to their former human and dwarven allies. The altruistic priests of Quel'Thalas refused to abandon their roles as healers and agreed to remain in Lordaeron despite the edicts from their reclusive masters in Silvermoon City. The high elven priests used their Light-given powers to heal the wounded and bolster the spirits of Lordaeron's fighting elite. Fallen priests are wretched priests who were once counted as the most devout amongst the clergy of Lordaeron. But - after years of constant war and suffering - they have lost their sense of the Holy Light. Now, they exist only to spread their frustration and negativity to their fellow men and women. Some Forsaken priests still adhere to their old faiths, such as the Holy Light. Others have turned away from them and formed the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow based on the teachings of bishop Natalie Seline. Though they turn to dark energies to accomplish their goals, they believe there must be balance between Light and darkness and members of the cult must know the Light as well.
The troll priesthoods are - much like the shaman and the witch doctors - of the various troll tribes, spiritual advisers and caretakers. With trolls being naturally superstitious and spiritual, it allows the various troll priests to manipulate the spiritual energy of the world in order to either heal or harm their targets. The various energies that the troll priests draw can come from various sources, be it loa spirits, voodoo magic, or the target itself. Drawing upon these energies, the troll priests either mend or harm, depending on which blessing the spiritual entity bestows. Arguably, troll priests can be considered witch doctors in a cultural perspective, in equal terms with the shaman.
With the second Sundering, priesthood became a more common practice among the tauren. These priests are known as "seers" and use the power of An'she - the sun - in their spells just as tauren paladins, named the Sunwalkers, do. There have been tauren seers before the arrival of the Cataclysm, but their path has now either been enhanced with new magic or revitalized by new blood. Tahu Sagewind has become the leading tauren priest.
The gnomes have had an interest in the Light since they joined the Alliance, but they were so focused on technology and later the retaking of Gnomeregan that studying the Light didn't feel necessary to them. The dwarven priests and paladins of Ironforge served as the only connection to the Light they had. Now that the gnomes have reclaimed a foothold in Gnomeregan and begun rebuilding their culture outside of Ironforge however, they have recognized the importance of having followers of the Light in their own ranks. In addition, researching new methods of purifying irradiated gnomes has led to radical advances in Light-based technology. Gnome priests usually refer to themselves as doctors, medics, and surgeons.
During the Fourth War, Tyrande Whisperwind survived the ascension to become the Night Warrior. Not only was she empowered, but many other night elves were as well, forming the Army of the Black Moon. Elune's power shrouded Darkshore in an unnatural, seemingly eternal, night. The description of the Night Warrior taking spirits of the departed into the sky as stars resembles what happened to Ysera upon her death.
While they might share similar abilities, priests are as different from one another as the divinities they serve, with some offering healing and redemption, others judging law and truth, and still others spreading conflict and corruption.
After spending much of their lives in temples studying ancient doctrine, preaching the tenets of their faith, and pledging their full devotion to the divine powers they follow, the most adept priests leave their houses of worship to serve on the battlefield, as shepherd to flock. There, they use their holy powers to bless allies and mend wounds. And while most stay behind the front lines to aid their comrades, these holy champions are also capable of smiting foes and carrying out sacred justice. They’re also morally opposed to the use of Shadow and Void magic—rather, they are exemplars of the incredible grace and power of the divine and the Light, and even death cannot fully stop their healing capabilities.
The Light in which many priests bathe is brilliant and effervescent, granting them immense divine power. But the brightest light casts the darkest shadow—and from within this blackness, a rival power dwells. Shadow priests fully embrace this opposing polarity, their faith equally resolute as their holy counterparts—but focused on shadowy magics and mental manipulation. Like all priests, they dedicate much of their lives to worship—but they derive their power from the Void, straying dangerously close to the domain of the Old Gods. To truly understand such ancient, corruptive influence is to be driven mad. This is the state in which these dark priests thrive, embracing insanity and feeding off of the minds of their opponents to reach terrifying new limits.
Some priests pride themselves on pragmatism. They understand that light casts a shadow, that darkness is defined by light, and that true discipline stems from one’s ability to balance these opposing powers in services of a greater cause. While these priests possess many holy virtues to aid their allies, they also dabble in the dark arts to debilitate their enemies—always exercising immense discipline to keep themselves away from the brink of insanity. Many would say the ends justify the means; scriptures both virtuous and vile should be studied and understood to protect the congregation.
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