Ashenvale, also known as Ashenvale Forest, is a wilderness region south of Darkshore and Felwood, west of Azshara, and north of the Stonetalon Mountains and the Barrens.
It is the ancestral homeland of the night elves, who remain in control of several holdings through the zone, including Astranaar, Maestra's Post, Silverwing Grove, and the Shrine of Aessina. The Horde has more recently established a settlement in the eastern part of the woods — Splintertree Post — as well as a smaller camp on the western beach — Zoram'gar Outpost — along with several Warsong camps situated from Kargathia Keep all through the southeast to the Mor'shan Rampart in the far south, and also captured and deforested Silverwind Refuge. The zone is heavily populated with furbolgs, satyr, and wild creatures such as spiders, wolves, and bears. The region is quite large, and running from the Zoram Strand to the Warsong Lumber Camp is quite an undertaking.
Since the zone is contested there is often a lot of skirmishing going on throughout the woods, and attacks on the faction-based settlements are not uncommon. The zone is also a major travel hub for both Horde and Alliance, even at higher levels.
War of the Ancients and its aftermath
Not much is known about Ashenvale during the War of the Ancients, but it was said that Xavius had a tower within the forest.
After the Sundering of the ancient Kalimdor, the night elven civilization was built in and around the forests of Ashenvale. Some time later, Highborne, who defected from Queen Azshara, foolishly attempted to convince the kaldorei race of the power of magic by unleashing a magical storm upon Ashenvale, though it was forbidden. Thus, the Highborne were exiled.
Some years after the War of the Ancients, the satyrs gathered the few demons that remained and engaged in a war across Ashenvale in the War of the Satyr.
Afterwards Malfurion entered the Emerald Dream and Tyrande and her Sentinels continued to patrol Ashenvale.
The Third War
A group of goblins under Neeloc Greedyfingers had started deforesting the area before the Warsong clan arrived, but were prevented from doing much damage by the local furbolg tribe. The orcs acquired the goblins' aid after ending this threat. The elusive dark trolls had a settlement here. Powerful artifacts, enclosed in circles of mushrooms, were protected by forest guardians. Cenarius restored the cut trees but was killed by Grommash Hellscream tricked by the Burning Legion masters.
Ashenvale was later attacked by the demons. An unnamed village was destroyed, along with the family of Vandel, who survived as he was hunting out in the forests.
World of Warcraft
Ashenvale is an ancient forest, and has been in the caring hands of the night elves for thousands of years. It was not until more recent years that things changed, with the coming of the Horde's lumber harvesting camps, as well as other much more insidious groups. The demons of the Burning Legion have holdings in Fire Scar Shrine, Felfire Hill, Demon Fall Canyon and Demon Fall Ridge. The vile satyr inhabit ancient elven ruins at Xavian, Night Run, and Satyrnaar. Cursed green dragonkin have slipped out from the Emerald Dream portal at Bough Shadow, and corruption taints the Ruins of Stardust. The Horde have seized control of several holdings in the eastern parts of the forest, and beyond their base at Splintertree Post, they have harvested the trees for lumber at the Warsong Lumber Camp and the Warsong Labor Camp. The Horde clash with the night elves over control of Eastern Ashenvale, with the Warsong Outriders vowing to continue their lumber harvesting operations, and the Silverwing Sentinels vowing to drive the Outriders from their lands once and for all.
Ashenvale is a vast primordial wilderness long given over to beasts and nature’s savage ways. The night elves who settled on Kalimdor after the Sundering hunted in Ashenvale’s wilds but never settled within its borders. When the Burning Legion invaded in the Third War, the night elves ceased even hunting in order to battle the demons. The lack of hunting has allowed many creatures to live and thrive within the vast woodland, creating danger for all who venture into the forest. Ashenvale forest runs in a great arc south of Mount Hyjal, with Stonetalon Mountains to the southwest and the Barrens directly south. The ruined lands of Azshara lie across a river to the east. Ashenvale is an old forest, long untouched by any mortal race. The weather is fairly mild, though rain is almost constant. The woods are so old and thickly grown that only trickles of precipitation get through the thick canopy. The forest has become ever wilder since left to its own devices after the start of the Third War. Any roads through are overgrown, some even impassable. In contrast, the game trails see increased traffic as beasts living in the shelter of the massive trees grow in number and boldness. Those traveling through Ashenvale will wisely keep their guard up at all times. In recent years, the demons and satyr have corrupted parts of Ashenvale, and other parts of it are cut down by the Horde to fuel their expansion efforts. The Forsaken, too, have begun experimenting on sleeping druids within the Dor'Danil Barrow Den, unbeknownst to the Horde but not the Alliance.
Following the Cataclysm, Garrosh Hellscream took on the mantle of Warchief, and as one of his first campaigns, he led the Horde in taking Azshara completely for the Horde, with the help of his new goblin allies. After a successful attack on Talrendis Point in Azshara, the Horde was able to take control of all of Azshara. Next, the Horde military sent troops to reinforce Mor'shan Ramparts, which had fallen victim to a renewed effort by the Silverwing Sentinels to drive out the Horde from Ashenvale. The Silverwing sentinels weren't just laying siege to the Mor'shan Ramparts, however: they were also launching simultaneous attacks on Splintertree Post and the Warsong Lumber Camp. Eventually, the Horde adventurers and military were able to break the siege of the Ramparts. Pushing north from the Ramparts, the Horde took control of Silverwing Outpost, and using Kodo Caravans, they were soon able to break the siege of Splintertree Post. An orcish warlock poisoned the forest heart, which struck a huge blow to the Sentinels. Horde covert operatives killed the commanders leading the siege of Warsong Lumber Camp, thus bringing the alliance offensive to an end.
After the sieges of Splintertree and Warsong Lumber camp were broken, eastern Ashenvale was under complete horde control, save for Forest Song. The Horde armies pressed westward, taking control of Silverwind Refuge by using a corrupted form of a water elemental, and also began an attack on Raynewood Tower and Raynewood Retreat, killing many of the druids and sentinels stationed there. However, the Horde was not able to deliver the finishing blow at Raynewood, as the Druid leader continued to revive the Dryad defenders of the post. The Horde even started firebombing Astranaar, and with victory in sight, they moved in to take Maestra’s Post, one of the few remaining Alliance encampments. If Maestra's post fell, all of Darkshore and eventually Teldrassil would be vulnerable to continued Horde attacks. While the siege of Maestra’s post was beginning, the Horde engineers at the captured Alliance base of Silverwind Refuge were finishing up a giant bomb, designed to be used on the Night Elves in Stonetalon Mountains. Many of the Horde battalions started to move south to reinforce Krom’gar’s army in Stonetalon, bringing the bomb south with them.
This success was short lived, however, when the mobilized armies of Darnassus were able to break the siege of Maestra’s post, and pushed the Horde out of Astranaar. After pushing the Horde out of Astranaar, the Alliance armies reinforced Raynewood retreat, breaking the siege there by taking on the shade of the Ancient spirit of Shadumbra, and killing many horde soldiers and destroying their demolishers in the process. Alliance heroes rebuilt Dartol's Rod which allowed them control over the Furbolgs near Silverwind refuge, using them to weaken the Horde army there enough to allow the Sentinel's to retake the camp. The alliance military moved back eastward, cleansing the tainted forest heart and killing the Horde overseer at the Lumber Camp, along with a Sin'dorei Ambassador. At this point, only pockets of horde resistance remained, bringing the war full circle, in favor of the alliance.
Mists of Pandaria
During the Siege of Orgrimmar, the Night Elven sentinels were able to push through Eastern Ashenvale, and eventually reach the Capital City of Orgrimmar, bringing the gates of the city down with Glaive throwers. With the dismantlement of Warchief Garrosh Hellscream's war machine and the conclusion of the Alliance-Horde War, Tyrande Whisperwind allowed the Horde unimpeded access to Azshara's lumber in return for the complete withdrawal of Horde forces from Ashenvale. The results remain to be seen.
During the Burning Legion's third invasion of Azeroth, Ashenvale came under siege by satyr forces rallied under Rethazar the Fallen.
Garrosh Hellscream became the new Warchief of the Horde in the wake of the Cataclysm and unleashed great war in the forests of Ashenvale. He sent orcish warriors and goblins engineers into the heart of forests, where great battles where fought against Sentinels led by Haldrissa Woodshaper, commander of the night elf forces protecting Ashenvale. In an attempt to get help, she sent her best scout Aradria Cloudflyer to Darnassus, but she was struck down by orcish archers. Aradria was thought dead but fortunately, a druid Parsis rescued her and she was able to deliver her message to Darnassus. Moreover, eight Magnataurs and proto-drakes were brought from Northrend and released against defenseless Night elven Sentinels. Garrosh intended to build another city of the Horde in the center of Ashenvale, which would rival Orgrimmar. Many Night Elven outposts have fallen since the invasion. Tyrande Whisperwind, Shandris Feathermoon with Sentinels, and Alliance troops went to Ashenvale to help relieve Haldrissa's elves, but in the chaos of the battle, Haldrissa was slain and Tyrande was wounded. The battle became bleak. However, Varian Wrynn, Genn Greymane and the army of Worgens arrived to turn the tide. Varian himself stood against the new Warchief. It was a fierce battle but Goldrinn's blessing of unyielding energy gave Varian the advantage over his foe. Before anyone could strike a mortal blow, a dying magnataur divided the two combatants and Garrosh with the attacking Horde were forced to retreat. Su'ura Swiftarrow took Haldrissa's position and new better-situated outposts were quickly commissioned along the eastern edge of the territory. The Alliance reclaimed and rebuilt Silverwing Outpost which was made the staging ground for supplying the Alliance’s counterattack. Before leaving, Tyrande blessed Silverwing Outpost.
Ashenvale is a forest full of ancient trees, teeming with life. Though pockets of the forest have become tainted, overall the area is a place of deep magic and spiritual connection with nature. Several lakes are sheltered beneath the forest's boughs. A stretch of beach lines the west edge of the forest, known as the Zoram Strand, where hostile naga dwell. The forest is bordered by mountains to the south, and more forest to the north. The eastern border is the Southfury River.
Ashenvale contains Blackfathom Deeps, an instanced dungeon located in the northwestern corner of the zone (Ashenvale, The Zoram Strand: 14.0, 15.0). In addition, the micro dungeon Bough Shadow, the site of one of the Great Trees, can be found in this zone. The Alliance entrance to the battleground Warsong Gulch is located in the southern part of the forest. Travel hubs include Astranaar and Forest Song for Alliance, and Splintertree Post and Zoram'gar Outpost for the Horde.
Ashenvale is home to several characters of note. At Maestra's Post, Sentinel Onaeya fights tooth and nail against the Horde assault. In Astranaar, Raene Wolfrunner attempts to cleanse the taint that has affected the local furbolgs. At the Zoram'gar Outpost, Je'neu Sancrea sends bold adventurers into the dark Blackfathom Deeps in search of mystical items. At Forest Song, the draenei Vindicator Vedaar oversees the construction of a Draenei outpost.
Alongside Hillsbrad Foothills and Stranglethorn Vale, Ashenvale was one of the places for PvP combat. An Alliance attack on the Crossroads in the Barrens or a Horde attack on Astraanar would result in a back and forth match as players battled across the landscape. Ashenvale was also a prime location for high level players to gank low level players as for many (Orcs, Tauren, Trolls and Night Elves) this was their first contested zone.
Like Hillsbrad and Stranglethorn, Ashenvale has quieted down significantly with the advent of Battlegrounds and increased level caps, but Astranaar/Crossroad raids are not entirely atypical.
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