Demon Hunters in the World of Warcraft

The Paths of the Demon Hunter


I. Path of the Netherbane

The Netherbane are followers of Tharion Greyseer, who was once a student of Eraelan Netherbane. It was, in fact, Eraelan who created the methods that the Greyseer follows, but the techniques have been refined since their inception immediately after the War of the Ancients. This path is no less harsh than that of the Illidari, but it is far more controlled. This is largely because the Illidari were created as an army against the Legion, and they were created quickly. They did not have the luxury of time, whereas the Netherbane has had millennia to perfect its techniques.

In order to calm the soul, a Netherbane initiate who has not yet started on the path is expected to spend many weeks in meditation. During this time they are trained in physical combat as well. When the student has displayed a certain level of skill, she is given a training blindfold. This is a piece of cloth specially enchanted with fel energies. The blindfold blinds the wearer when covering the eyes, forcing her to continue training without sight. Only after she has proven herself capable of functioning without any vision can she activate the spectral sight within the training blindfold itself. This gives her a chance to see the world as she would after a ritual blinding.

Once prepared, the demon hunter is set on the path of her first hunt. She must choose a demon of significant power and slay it, trapping its soul into a specialized crystal. It is this soul that will then be used later in a proper blinding ritual. The fel energies of the demon's soul fuel the magical blades that burn out the eyes of the student, and the residual energy infuses itself into the ruined sockets. After a few days of recovery, the acolyte has started to develop her spectral vision.

The energies from the first hunt are only temporary, however, and the hunter must quickly prepare for her binding ritual. She must choose another demon, this one of a greater power, and must hunt it. As with the first, this demon's soul is trapped within a specialized crystal, and it is that soul to which the hunter is bound during a Netherbane binding. The binding ritual is simple, but painful. The demon's soul is channeled into a special blade, which is then stabbed through the heart of the hunter. The transference keeps the acolyte alive, after which the body begins to adapt to the infusion of fel power.

The training of a full Netherbane demon hunter from this point takes far longer than that of an Illidari, but the control the hunter eventually achieves is second to none. This is not to say that members of the Netherbane have never fallen to darkness, for there are those who have, but the rigid adherence to meditation and control helps keep these to a minimum.

Netherbane demon hunters are rare, numbering no more than a few small handfuls. 

II. Path of the Illidari

The Illidari are followers of Illidan Stormrage. Founded on the shattered world of Outland sometime after the Third War between orcs and humans, they walk the path as taught by the Betrayer, feasting upon demon flesh in order to bind demonic power to themselves. The Illidari are perhaps the most numerous of the demon hunters seen today, thanks in part to the opening of the Vault of the Wardens in the wake of the Burning Legion's invasion.

Little is known of the rituals as experienced by an Illidari, but we do have some descriptions. It has been witnessed that, after weeks of training in combat and meditation, the Illidari initiates are bound into a circle and must combat a lesser demon. Upon the defeat of this demon, the hunter is expected to literally consume the heart of the creature, after which he will fall into a series of hallucinatory visions. Within these visions, the hunter must struggle with the demon's immortal soul over and over. In the end, the initiate must conquer the demon or risk falling to it completely. 

It is also during this ritual in which the prospective demon hunter mutilates his own eyes after witnessing visions of the Legion's might. Some scratch them out with their own claws, while others burn then out with flaming blades. Either way, the eyes are destroyed and the capacity for vision is lost. A new, heightened spectral sight eventually takes its place over the next few days using the bound demon's power.

Surviving hunters are tattooed in a ritual that helps bind the demon soul within, providing a measure of protection from madness. The demon's soul is far from passive, however, and is generally known to try and tempt the hunter into giving in to his potential Burning Legion masters. This struggle is constant, and is one of the greatest risks of following the Illidari path.

Illidari demon hunters consume further fel energies from defeated foes as they slay them in order to gain more power. There are plenty of Illidari who have fallen prey to their demonic nature due to these extreme practices, and their tales should never be forgotten. If one chooses to walk the path of the Illidari, one should be prepared for harsh lessons.

III. Path of the Void / The Dark Herald / The Dark Embrace

Little is known about this path, if it even truly is its own specific path, except that at least one of its followers, possibly one of its teachers, haunts the shattered landscape of Darkshore. Deep below the swirling churn of the Maw of the Void lies the spirit of Telarius Voidstrider. He was killed by Maiev Shadowsong at some unknown point in time, but his essence still lingers. It is unknown how many demon hunter potentials have found his spirit beneath the whirlpool and have chosen to walk the path spoken of in his writings.

The only evidence we have of his specific path is his title of Herald of the Dark Embrace.