Isilyë is a night elf druid and former agent of Archdruid Fandral Staghelm’s covert campaign to undermine and eventually ouster high priestess Tyrande Whisperwind. She was presumed dead after her capture near Splintertree Post, then gained notoriety as one of “The Cannibals of Darkshore” when she was found years later in a gory, feral state. She is generally believed to have lost most of her memory and even her elfness during her ordeal in and after Horde captivity.
While Isilyë has since recovered from this setback and remade herself into a celebrated hero of the Alliance, she nevertheless remains a slightly savage recluse whose true loyalties lie more with the wild than with any civilized society.
Crime and Punishment
If Isilyë could remember far back enough, she might recall that, even in her early days of druidical shapeshifting, she would sometimes wake up in a state of panicked confusion, uncertain of whether she was an elf who had been dreaming she was a panther or a panther that was now dreaming it was an elf.
That she came to lead a double life professionally didn’t help: While she was openly doing Nature’s work and fighting the good fight on behalf of the Cenarion Circle, she was also an agent of a secret organization within the Cenarion Enclave called informally “The Fire Brigade”, which had the sinister purpose of monitoring and neutralizing threats to Archdruid Fandral Staghelm’s power in Darnassus.
Isilyë’s work with the Fire Brigade required her to be every bit as paranoid, cynical, scheming, and abrasive as its leader — and the longer she worked with it, the more her work persona became synonymous with her private one, until she finally alienated herself from everyone in her life but her younger brother Yarralomë, who was also a druid in the Fire Brigade.
Worse, after a team of Fire Brigade agents was caught scrying on the high priestess of Darnassus, Fandral decided to purge the organization of its lower-level, higher security risk members, including Isilyë and Yarralomë, so as to protect the Cenarion Enclave from incrimination.
He did this by sending the unwanted agents on what amounted to suicide missions. Isilyë and her brother, for their part, were tasked with assassinating Naurvellon, the Silvermoon advisor in Splintertree Post in Ashenvale, preferaby before his upcoming marriage into another powerful Silvermoon family.
Now while Isilyë continued to suffer from her identity crises, her brother suffered from something else entirely: while staking out Splintertree Post, he had become unnaturally obsessed with Naurvellon’s bride Ruinwen, and could neither eat nor sleep on account of his feverish pining for her.
Ruinwen’s family had come to Splintertree with a sizable force that would make assassination difficult at best, so Isilyë devised a plan that would capitalize on her brother’s affliction: she created a diversion that left Ruinwen unguarded so that Yarralomë could sneak in as a cat and finally have his way with her.
But Isilyë later joined her brother to do what he would not: she used Ruinwen’s hymenal blood to leave a message to Naurvellon on the wall — “As to Ashenvale, so to your daughters” — and when the blood proved too little to write the whole message, she used a dagger to extract more where that came from, an act that permanently damaged Ruinwen.
When Naurvellon returned to find that his bride was no longer a virgin and was possibly carrying the enemy’s child, the marriage was called off. Ruinwen, her family, and its troops went home, thereby creating the security reduction necessary for Isilyë and Yarralomë to kill Naurvellon at last.
Unfortunately, Yarralomë’s fixation with Ruinwen did not abate after the rape, and he continued to stalk her until he was caught by the Splintertree scouts, who later captured Isilyë as well once they learned that she was his accomplice.
As punishment for raping — and impregnating — Ruinwen, her sorcerer father Grawdagnir turned Isilyë and her brother into a breeding pair of panthers for a year, marking them with his sigil so as to be able to hunt them down later and take any offspring they produced. The next year he turned them into a breeding pair of bears (alternating which of them was the female and which the male), then sea lions, then cheetahs, and finally moonkins.
But when their final year of punishment was at an end and Grawdagnir came looking for them to take their offspring, he found that they had joined a tribe of other moonkins in Darkshore who had taken a fancy to his sigil and decorated themselves with it, making it impossible to distinguish Isilyë and Yarralomë from the real moonkins. (Indeed, sneetch-like tensions had developed between those moonkins in the tribe who bore the sigil and those who did not.) Grawdagnir studied the situation for a long time before ferreting out the night elf pair and restoring them to their former selves.
Alas, after five years spent in one animal form or another, Isilyë and Yarralomë had no memory of having ever been anything but moonkins, even though the moonkin tribe no longer recognized them as such and expelled them from their midst. So the amnesiac siblings continued to live a marginal moonkin existence until elves from nearby Auberdine discovered them starving and eating one of their young.
Isilyë and Yarralomë were brought back to Auberdine and eventually Darnassus, where, after years of unpleasant rehabilitation efforts (when they were both surnamed Sarquindë, or “Cannibal”), they were restored to something like their former selves (when they were both surnamed Verca, or “Wild”). Their one surviving offspring was taken to Forest Song in Ashenvale, where she was called Lómion and groomed to be a warrior.
After Fandral’s removal from Darnassus, it was rumored that he had planned to have Isilyë and Yarralomë killed outright after they survived the assassination attempt on Naurvellon at Splintertree Post, but that he changed his mind about finishing them off after he saw for himself how amnesiac the pair had become.
Not one to live with regret, Isilyë was able to put her ordeal behind her and go on to become an accomplished druid and an exalted hero at home and in far-flung lands. But she never could shake the haunting dreams of being fundamentally something other than an elf — indeed, her dreams had gotten even more confusing, for now she was starting to recall a savage life in Darkshore that preceded the time she was said to have gone there…
The Ghosts of Auberdine
Many years later, after Deathwing wreaked his fiery havoc in Darkshore and survivors began fishing bodies out of the water, Isilyë returned to its ravaged shores to help with the rescues and cleanup.
After the survivors from Auberdine had been recovered and the dead disposed of, Isilyë found herself inexplicably drawn to the old moonkin grounds, where she and her cleanup detail began piling up the feathery corpses they found strewn about for burning. It was there that Isilyë found a disturbingly familiar face — her own — staring back at her through the cloudy, lifeless eyes of a bloated cadaver. And close by was the body of her brother Yarralomë.
Isilyë’s dreams started to make more sense as she pieced together what had happened: Ruinwen’s father had guessed wrong when he changed Isilyë and her brother “back” into elves. She was not, in fact, the elf who had famously lost her elfness after living for so long as a beast, but a beast that had lost its bestiality after living for so long as an elf. Her tutors and handlers didn’t teach her to speak again — moonkins already have a language of their own and can understand elvish — but only taught her to speak as an elf using lips. And all the memories they helped her recover were never in fact her own, the ones they convinced her to dismiss as dreams or delusions now foggy and incomplete.
This presented a crisis for Isilyë, since, while she had no true memories of her earlier life as Isilyë, she had no concrete memory left of her life as a moonkin, either. For better or for worse, what life and sense of self she had were “Isilyë”, and even though she could turn into a moonkin at will, it wouldn’t be the same moonkin she was, but a sort-of elf in a moonkin’s body.
What to do? Could she go on living this Isilyë person’s life — now that she knew the truth — like some cuckoo hatchling that had been slipped into another bird’s nest?
One of the other elves in the cleanup party asked Isilyë if everything was alright. Isilyë covered the bodies of the elf corpses and piled them up with the moonkins. Everything was fine, she said.
Yes, she decided. She could do this.
There are, quite literally, two Isilyës.
The original, career-minded Isilyë was not the most well-liked elf; an abrasive and manipulative trickster par excellence, she was hated by many — even her associates — but her ill-gotten successes on behalf of Darnassus and the Cenarion Circle earned her the continual employment (and blind eye) of those that mattered. She was motivated primarily by ambition, and her crudeness, bravado and penchant for deception were more conscious counterbalances against being one of the few female druids in what was traditionally an all men’s club than reflections of her real personality — though her real and professional personalities became more undistinguishable as time went on.
The later, “restored” Isilyë is not an adventurer by nature. If she had things her way, she’d spend her days fishing, or soaking in the hot springs of Winterspring, or communing with Elune in meditation. Tranquility and freedom are what she prizes most. It’s the ripples in the otherwise tranquil, undisturbed pools of her world — from the destructive Horde and Burning Legion on the one extreme to local bullies or noisy neighbors on the other — that she cannot abide and that compel her to put aside the comforts of home for the rigors of adventuring and war.
It’s a never-ending struggle, she knows, but this doesn’t discourage her; rather, she likens it to the trimming of fingernails; one does not give up trimming them simply because they keep growing back.
The new Isilyë has another motivation, one that usually arises only in longer term quests — a sense of belonging. Because the new Isilyë has no memory or emotional connection to the old Isilyë’s friends and family, she has, consciously or unconsciously, sought new family in the various peoples she’s championed. But in the end, for all the exaltation she might earn, she finds she has greater affinity with the many animal companions she’s accumulated during her travels than with any “civilized” peoples.
As might be expected of someone who’s usually called upon only after the usual channels have failed, Isilyë is an anarchist at heart, believing in neither state nor law. She does, however, believe in justice, and will generally follow the most direct and expedient route to getting it.
She’s a social anarchist as well, refusing to be boxed into any sort of convention that would impinge on her freedom to do whatever she wants. She might walk away in the middle of a conversation, or address the king stark naked while absently eating a live rat. She speaks with a directness that, while refreshing and part of her charm, would probably make people uncomfortable were it not for her general amiability and innocence of manner. Her punitive transformations effectively put her off any sort of romantic life (see below), but in her younger days she was a sexual libertine. Still, for all her aversion to commitment and cages of any sort, she has a strong sense of integrity, and if she says she’ll do something, she will.