The next time Jeraint is in the Lazy Turnip, as well as serving him a mug of delightful beer and a really nice carrot-based dish, Lei Lan picks a quiet moment to pass on a request.
“The young one from before?” she says to him. “Asked if you would meet with him again.”
“I’ve made you honey cakes; you should eat more! People will think my food is poor if so regular a customer is thin as a rake!” she adds more loudly, and bustles off, leaving the cakes at his table.
Jeraint eats the cakes appreciatively. They are definitely a better flavour than his own conjured pastries. “Thank you.” He says as he leaves the innkeeper.
He returns to where he last met the young mage to see if he is there.
He is; probably has been since he left the message, Jeraint would guess. The young Mage is clearly afraid and unhappy, but seems much less troubled than the last time they spoke. He is staring out of a window, when Jeraint arrives, but turns and offers a graceful bow.
“Magister, thank you for coming,” he says simply.
“A pleasure,” Jeraint says simply.
After a brief pause in which he obviously seeks to organise his thoughts, Feanáro says:
“I have concluded that I cannot know what Garrosh has already done and seeks still to do and not oppose him.”
“Nor can I pretend to agree, pretend to serve, all the while working against him in secret. It is not in me to do so.”
“So I would choose to oppose him openly. And for that to mean more than my death, I must leave the Horde and seek to join those who are allied against him.”
“I cannot do so as I am. But I lack your skill, Magister. Even knowing what you have done, I cannot see how to do it. You offered to teach me the spell you used, before. I beg that you do so, if you are still willing.”
Jeraint looks at him and nods. “I can and will. For that matter, I can teach you the knowledge I lacked on how to draw power from the tiniest sources of the world rather than the biggest. Or I can introduce you to my own teacher, Morthil, if you prefer.”
The younger Mage for all he still looks afraid, seems, more than anything, relieved, as he replies: “Thank you. And if you are willing to teach me, also, I would count it a great honour.”
Jeraint simply nods. Then seats himself. “So, I will go and speak for you to the Silver Covenant. You will need their sponsorship if you wish to do this. They are listened to and especially after the Purge, you will need that. Many will not trust you, just as they do not trust me. While I do, you should study the ritual itself.”
Feanáro swallows, but nods. “I understand that no matter what, there will be many who will never trust me. I… that you will speak for me to the Silver Covenant,” he bites his lip and shrugs, unable to find any words at all. “I will study the ritual diligently,” he says in the end, hoping the other will understand.
Jeraint nods and with a gesture turns the top of the nearby pond into a sheet of ice. He starts melting hasty but elegant figures in the improvised chalkboard with the tip of his sword. “As you can see, it is difficult. You nee to isolate each connection to you, using this formula and then sever it like this. I also found it unbalanced my emotions for a long while, the Sunwell is tied to our souls and disrupting that is painful in ways I cannot explain. You must be careful not to act hastily as a result.” He pauses. “You won’t have access to any magic other than your own lifeforce can sustain once you have done this so make sure you are somewhere safe. If you wait, I will see if Dalaran is safe for you and then we can go to Darnassus if I can get agreement from Tyrande.”
Feanáro studies the diagrams and notes intently, his expression a blend of respect and fear, overlain with fierce determination.
“Part of me wants… to be done, and now. But I am not such a fool. This,” he gestures admiringly at Jeraint’s figures, “will take all the skill I have.” In the privacy of his own head, he adds to himself ‘If I can do it at all’. “I will wait,” he says, adding with sincerity, “I do not know how I will ever repay all your kindnesses.”
Jeraint shrugs. “Others were kind to me. One never pays such things back but forwards.”
With that, he casts a teleport spell and disappears, to Dalaran from the coordinates of the spell cast.
Feanáro studies the diagrams until the jungle heat starts to affect them. Then, with a whispered word, he heats the pond until no trace of the ice, let alone the sketched notes, remains. He then retires to the quietest depths of the Temple, to study the ritual further and begin preparing himself to undertake it.
It is several hours before Jeraint returns from Dalaran. He goes to have a good meal in the Inn and mentions that if anyone is looking for him, he will be in the public inn in Dalaran.
Lei Lan teases him about other inns not having food half so good, but he knows she will pass it on if it seems appropriate.
He agrees and notes that the climate is not as good either but that he hopes it is warming slightly.
After his meal, he returns to Dalaran, takes a room and waits.
It is not the shortest of waits, but eventually, a very nervous Sin’dorei Mage knocks on his door.
“Come in.” Jeraint welcomes him. “I have spoken with Vereesa and she is willing to accept you as a member of the Silver Covenant under my sponsorship. Which largely means she is likely to kill me if she decides you have betrayed the Kirin Tor. We are to report to the battle front as soon as possible.” He sighs. “I suspect it will be hard. They are likely to watch both of us closely and to purposefully give us tasks that bring our loyalties into conflict. I hope you can deal with it.” His voice hardens. “But realise this, I will completely understand feelings of emotional distress and anger, but as my master told me and I have slowly come to understand, they must be mastered. Especially if you serve in Pandaria, there is no room for anyone who cannot discipline himself. I will not teach you how to draw power unless you can accept that.”
The younger Mage looks back steadily. “I have spent enough time helping the Shado Pan to understand. And to accept it. I cannot expect to succeed at once, but I will strive to do so as fast as I can.” He looks away. “And I will do everything in my power to be worthy of your sponsorship.”
Jeraint nods. “That is all I ask. I have done my best to ward this room and Eleiana has spoken with the spirit of place to make it sympathetic to our needs.” He shrugs. “She says it will help. The ritual should be done alone but I will be next door in case of need.”
Feanáro nods gratitude, eyes gone distant as he fixes his mind on what he must do. Once he is alone, he kneels on the floor, forcing everything but this moment away. His eyes close, as he seeks to centre himself. When he is ready, he musters all of his skill, and attempts to carry out the ritual the older Mage has taught him.
It is not that any individual component spell is difficult. Indeed the spell to remove each tie bears a pronounced similarity to the remove curse spell he knows well, mixed perhaps with a peculiar twist on that for cautery and an inversion of evocation.
The real difficulty is twofold. Firstly, that no magery deals particularly well with the spirit and so finding the ties requires extreme self-knowledge. Secondly, that each spell is a wound to the spirit. Self-inflicted but none the less painful and debilitating. After the first, Feanaro has less power to cast the second and must do so with the nagging distraction of the wound’s spiritual pain. Not much less power, nor vast pain. But there are hundreds of such spells to be cast in the ritual and Jeraint’s figures had shown clearly that the ties would start to reflow so long as one existed. The roots of the Sin’dorei were tied to the Sunwell and like the roots of many plants, they would regenerate if they could. He had to complete this in a single sitting or fail, for he would not have the power to complete it a second time.
As he found and severed the first ties, Feanáro found himself grateful to Jeraint; the other had not tried to describe the pain and sense of loss. Setting himself to the task, he sought the next tie, and the next, working methodically. He would do this. He must.
Much, much later, he looked for the next tie, and found nothing. Guarding against hope, he searched himself for any last missed connection. He could find none, but he knew his concentration was fraying, and he found himself unable to trust his own judgement. He had so little left, but he drew on that little ruthlessly to search, determined that he would not fail for want of trying.
Finally, he knew he could do no more. If there were any tie left, it was beyond him to find. Either he had succeeded as he thought, or he would not. Empty and exhausted, Feanáro opened his eyes, but could not find the energy to rise.
“Magister?” he called, tentatively. He hardly recognised his own voice.
“Drink!” Commands a voice. The smell of his favourite tea from the Halfhill Inn wafts to his nose.
Slowly, he complies.
The tea is highly restorative and he soon feels able to think. But the sheer lack of power is disturbing. He is not sure he could light a candle let alone engage in battle.
“How do you feel?”
“Helpless,” he says, his discomfort plain in his voice. “But… I think that it is done.”
Jeraint nods. “That is probably a good sign. Do you have access to any external power at all at the moment, or are you limited to your life force?”
Feanáro frowns, and concentrates. After several long moments, he shakes his head. “Nothing outside myself,” he tells him.
“Good. You should rest now, we will start your training tomorrow.”
He nods acquiescence, letting the lightening of heart that that gives him bring a grateful smile to his face.
Tempting though the floor looks, he will, he decides, use the bed. He is asleep almost before he is on it.
His sleep is deep but disturbed. Although he is exhausted, nightmares chase him and he is too tired to wake. When he wakes, he feels refreshed but harrowed.
He does have enough energy to clean the filth of the previous days exertions from him. The mirror shows a scarily different being, taller and coarser featured. The same pains and travails as have graven themselves on Jeraint have marked him. He looks older.
His hair has gone pure white and lost its vitality. It looks not just as if it had never seen conditioner but as if such had never been invented.
Hardest is seeing his hair. The other changes, that shocked him when he first saw Jeraint, he was braced for. He had never thought of his hair as being important to him; the shock to his sense of identity is sharp and unexpected; the flash of anger it sparks is swift and hot.
“How,” he asks himself, not realising he’s speaking aloud, “can I be angry with Lor’themar because of my hair?” The mocking tone is intentional, as he adds “And with so many things to be legitimately angry about!”
The mirror, wisely perhaps, does not answer him.
He finishes his ablutions, doing his best not to dwell on the changes. He then looks for Jeraint. He might hesitate, but he did take note that they were to report as soon as possible, and he is also really quite eager to begin to learn for himself.
Jeraint is in the next room, meditating. He seems to have a new sword, one with a blade of pure fire that is resting besides him. He looks up and waves to Feanaro to sit on the other chair.
“Right,” he says. “The chief difference in the teaching I was given as a Magister of Silvermoon and a Highborne mage of Darnassus is this. Magic should never be used for a minor purpose.” He pauses and eyes the other mage. “Why do you think this is?”
Feanáro sits and looks thoughtful. It was not a question he had expected. “I suppose… if you have no power source, wasting magic would be unwise?” he half-asks, eventually.
Jeraint nods. “One reason that you will seldom see the same level of arcane usage even somewhere like Dalaran as you do in Silvermoon is that most mages are much more limited in power than the Sin’dorei are, that is after all what caused the problems when the Sunwell burnt out. The power there was corrupted beyond the majority of most to use so they took to drawing power from other, lesser but more personal sources: the Naaru in the case of the Blood knights and, in the case of weaker magisters, from demons.
“You now feel why. It is unsettling to be so powerless.
“All of us have to find power sources, but few are either as potent as the Sunwell or as linked to you.
“The mages of the Kirin Tor tend to draw power from ley lines, which is why Dalaran is still here when the Lich King is gone. Malygos draw many of the most potent leylines to Northrend and so their powers are greater here.
“Others store power in items or power pools that they can draw on later.
“I can teach you both techniques and they are useful.
“But what Morthil taught me that I have found most useful by far is this.
“There is no shame in tiny amounts of power.
“If you try, you can sense power in everything that lives.
Feanáro frowns with concentration. Used as he is to drawing on power outside himself, he finds himself struggling to function without it, even when it is possible. Still, he will persevere until he can see what the Mage asked him to
It is difficult, the trace is so faint by his standards that he keeps overlooking it. Then he feels it, a trace, a whisper of power that is not his.
He looks at Jeraint with a frown. “It’s so faint. But I feel it.”
“Now try to draw it in.”
That takes many more attempts, but eventually he nods.
Jeraint holds out a candle. “Light it. Use only that power, none of your own.”
A wry smile crosses his face. He had, after all, been thinking he was not sure he could even light a candle with his own power. This comes to him more easily than the other instructions; when he succeeds, he feels a warmth that has nothing to do with the tiny flame.
“Good,” says Jeraint, “now repeat that for the rest of the day.” He rises and leaves.
At some point, not a dramatic point but simply a moment in time when the slog is getting to him, Feanáro sees a Draenai fighting besides him. She wields lightning and lava as her weapon although on occasion she switches with barely a pause to heal badly wounded Pandaren. She nods to him cheerily as he catches her eye.
Feanáro looks away. The work needs doing, and every hand helps. And if the Draenai changes her mind and attacks him, it hardly matters.
The Draenai does not say anything but a couple of times distracts yaungol that are charging Fea with well timed lightning bolts. When the savages retreat, she nods to him and observes in orcish that is almost accentless but infused with a melody of tone that no Orc has ever had; “Sad work this.”
He starts at the Orcish, surprised enough to actually respond. “What do you mean?”
She raises a sculpted silver brow and slings a shield shaped like a dragon over her shoulder where it breathes a smoke ring. “Do you not think it so? These poor things, driven to their deaths by a greater foe. We cannot stop them by peaceful means and so we must slay them.”
He sighs. “I suppose so. But… if I were they, I had rather be dead than so driven.” He looks at her with a flicked of curiosity, then, saying “I’d not think to hear this tongue from one of your people.”
“A kind Orc let me shelter in his spirit once. I learnt much there.”
He nods thanks, the curiosity flickering out. “I should see what needs doing next,” he tells the Draenai, wearily.
“Stay awhile. I do not often get the chance to talk with one of the Sin’dorei.”
Feanáro looks at her wryly. “It’s not so surprising that you don’t; more surprising that you would want to.”
“Why not? The Prophet himself purified your Sunwell and,” she points at the hammer strapped to my side, “I have visited it myself. This was my reward for my part in the reforming of Quel’Delar.”
Feanáro looks at her evenly. “Because our peoples are at war. No matter what you feel, that is enough for almost anyone, is it not?”
“I am not at war with you. People tend to see the realm and miss the individual. I try to avoid that.”
The young Sin’dorei had begun to turn away, but the blend of weariness, loneliness, and something about the Draenai are too much to resist. He checks and turns back with a faint shrug. “What would you discuss, then, my Lady?”
“Why are you so sad?” She says bluntly but in a kind voice. He gets the impression that she cares.
“Because there is nothing left to me but this,” he says, gesturing gracefully at the piles of corpses, “and much though doing what little I can do to help is only meet, well,” he shrugs, “I confess I find no pleasure in it.”
She shakes her head. “Nothing? That cannot be true. You always have choices.” Her lips twitch in a smile. “Sometimes they are very limited but it seems to me that yours are less so than most.”
For a moment, anger trumps anguish in Feanáro’s eyes, but it dies before it’s more than a flicker. “Doubtless true, my Lady,” he replies courteously.
“But you don’t think so,” she observes, “Why? What would you do if you could?”
He looks at her with bitter humour. “I was about to say that as I was not able to do it, it were better left unsaid. But I suppose it does not matter.” He sighs. “If I could? Kill Garrosh. I can’t,” and there’s no humour allaying his bitterness at all as he adds, “I have not the skill.” He sighs. “Likewise anything I might do. I lack the skill, the wisdom, the age, the experience. And lest you chide me that I could gain them, there’s little point. I cannot bear what is now. I would sooner die. And I would. And since I can achieve nothing but more harm by dying in any other way, I choose to do so here, striving to mend at least some harm, not by bringing more harm pointlessly to my people. It is the only choice I see.”
She nods thoughtfully. “And it is a reasonable one, likely to do more good than harm. Although I note that your death might hurt those who love you more than you think. May I suggest some others?” She settles down into the crook of a nearby tree and looks at him expectantly.
He looks at her, sadly “I expect it will hurt my family. But it is not a choice of dying or living, as I see it, but of choosing how to die.” He sighs. “Meaning no offence, my Lady, for if there are other answers, I would be glad to find them. Why?”
“Why would I suggest them?”
“That, too, I suppose. I meant why do you care?”
She chuckles throatily. “Partly because a friend of mine asked me to see what was worrying Jeraint and while I was not able to get much from him, it was apparent it was you. But more because the darkness of any spirit saddens me. You should be light hearted and your spirit sing in my sight. Instead, you are sad. Why should I not try to help? Even were we enemies I would not want that for you. None should bear sorrow to my mind. Many do.” She notes wryly. “But none should.”
He looks away from her. “I should not have troubled the Magister,” he says. “But I did not know that before I spoke to him.”
“No, that is not correct. I think in the long run it will help him. But cautery may be a tool for healing but it is also painful.”
Feanáro offers her a small but sincere smile. “Thank you. That’s some comfort.”
“But tell me, why do you think it so impossible to deal with Garrosh?”
“I don’t think it is. What is impossible is for me to. What am I to do? Walk into Grommash Hold and start casting spells? My own people’s envoy would stop me before I could harm Garrosh, let alone his guards.”
“So why do it that way?”
“Because I can’t wait long enough to do it any other way. I’m going to do something or say something ‘disloyal’, and then, well. I’ll be dead. The question is how many others are.”
She nods. “Well, it is a wise man who knows his limits.”
He sighs. “I just get so angry. And I’ve never been very good at subtlety.”
Her lips twist wryly. “Mmm, but is that a reason to refuse to learn it? You are young yet. I doubt your mind is so inflexible as to be able to learn something if you decide to.”
“To wait means giving my support to all that is wrong now. And even if I could bring myself to, the consequences of a mistake are death, and not just for me.”
“There is such a thing as considering long term good. Not all of what the Horde does is evil just as here are things the Alliance does thy I do no support.
“But if that is not for you, then why to leave? You wold scarcely be the first to do so.”
“When I heard about what Magister Jeraint had done, I… wondered if it was the answer. But… He is a better Mage than I,” the elf admits with painful honesty, “and he, what he did was so brave. If even he wonders if death would have been the better option…”
The Draenai nods. “It was, in one sense. But you seem to have listened to his words and not his emotions. What do you think his real pain is about?”
He looks at her blankly for a moment before saying, “I… don’t know.”
“He feels he was a coward.” The shaman says quietly. “He will never admit it I suspect, nor is it entirely accurate. But a little part of him knows that he ran away from confronting the problem.”
Feanáro stares at her. “But…” He stops, and shrugs. “He would have died if he did. Is that cowardice?” He looks at her. “I think I am willing to die for my people. To die for nothing…” He sighs. Abruptly, he asks “My Lady? What is your name?”
“Eleiana,” he says, as if the name were a gift. “I don’t know what to do. I… I only just finished my studies. I just… I…” He swallows. “I want the world to be what all the Elders said it was. It isn’t fair!”
She manages not to laugh. “The Elders of the Horde?”
He nods. “Yes. They sent me to speak to them, after I completed my training.”
She nods. “Did your training contain the concept of perfect forms?”
He blinks. “Well, yes. But that’s different.”
“Not really. Why should the pure concept of fire be any different to the pure concept of honour. Both are to be strived for.”
“I can agree with that. But I would not call water fire, and that’s the difference. Not only is it wrong, to say so will get you killed, and perhaps your family and all your people with you.” He looks at her wistfully, “There is no one I could have had this conversation with, you know. I do not know how to thank you.”
“Is that my cue to go? Well, if so thank me by thinking things through. Virtues can be nurtured and the one thing you are wrong about is your comparison. The Horde has its own honour, strange to me but extant. It may have been tangled and overgrown but it can only be preserved through people trying day by day.”
“Please… don’t go. I will think, I promise. But will you not stay, for a while? And talk… Perhaps talk of other things?”
She nods. “Of course, but perhaps we should go somewhere slightly less filled with carrion.”
He nods. “Of course. But… where can we?”
“There is a pool nearby. Let us seek peace and calm there.”
The Mage nods, and mounts his fiery hippogryph. “Lead on,” he says, gratefully.
For Daiera, a brief conversation with Jeraint is a catalyst. The next time she sees Eleiana, once the task that has brought them there is done, she simply asks her: “Ele? Do you have awhile?”
The shaman smiles. “Of course, my crops are growing and while there are plenty of people who want things, none is vital.”
Dai returns the smile. “Thank you. As the weather is fine… perhaps a walk in the sun?”
“Certainly.” Eleiana puts the small gem she had been carving back into her belt pouch and stands unhurriedly.
Dai begins to talk as they walk; the first parts of what she wants to discuss, at least, will cause no stir if overheard. “I’ve been having nightmares,” she begins, “ever since the Black Prince spoke about Azeroth’s danger. They aren’t new; they began when I first saw Hellfire with the expedition. My sleep has been troubled with images of Azeroth, destroyed, as was… well, you know.”
Eleiana winces. “Yes, I remember. My spirit’s host saw the original shattering. It has worried me too although I have not spoken to the dragon much.”
Dai sighs. “I don’t trust him, mind you. Not at all. But he has some good points, whatever his motives. And this war… I worry, too, that even without any further interference, the world is none too safe. Consider Theramore, for example.”
She winces. “And have you heard about Dalaran?”
Eleiana nods. “Some. It sounds messy.” She pauses. “And stupid, but unfortunately that is existence in an imperfect world. And I am not sure a perfect one would be better looking at supposedly perfect beings like Algalon.”
“Jeraint was there. You know I’ve been working with him, don’t you? I’m worried about him. Dalaran hurt him, and I… I’m not the right person to help; I’m not even the person to know who might. It doesn’t help that part of me is furious with him.” Sadly “Nor that I’ve dreamed of it ever since, except it’s my hands, my axe, slaughtering those who…” her voice trails off and she swallows.
Eleiana winces slightly in sympathy. “Would you like me to help with that? Your spirit seems overburdened at the moment.”
Daiera looks at her friend. “Yes, please, if you can. If I keep waking from nightmares like those, I worry I’ll hurt someone.”
The shaman bows her head briefly and then raises her hand. A flash of silvery light twinkles in it and Daiera feels her soul lighten. Eleiana frowns slightly. “You should take better care of yourself. I am not convinced all your problems were self-made, there was a very subtle but profound job of darkening your joy in life there.”
Daiera shakes her head. “This is the place for it, is it not?” More firmly, “I thank you. I will do what I can, especially if you have an idea how it happened.”
She is silent for a moment, not long enough for Eleiania to reply. “Have you any advice for how I might help my friend? He was… if not well, at least better before Dalaran. And it did not help, I think, when he was contacted by one of the Sin’dorei recently.”
“No, I can see that from what you have said.” She pauses, “I would happily speak with him if you would like.”
“I don’t know. I would dearly like you to; you’re wiser than I, and he is a good person; he does not deserve to hurt so. But I don’t know how he would react.”
“Well, I know what he looks like.” Eleiana says with a mischievous smile.
Daiera grins at her. “Eleiana, you’re a marvel.” Her expression darkens a little. “His visitor… I would be inclined to suspect a trap, had Jeraint himself not seemed convinced of his sincerity.” Ruefully, she adds, “As it is, I worry about the visitor, also.”
The other Draenai nods. “Well, as the Prophet says, the future takes care of itself but we can help it be a Lighter one. I’ll speak with Jeraint.”
Daiera turns to her friend and grins, “That saying, I like. I shall remember it! And thank you.” She chuckles “and it really was a nice day for a walk. I should do it more often.”
It’s the end of a long day when innkeeper Lei Lan mentions very discretely to Jeraint that the blood elf Feanáro had asked her if she knew of him. “I told him, perhaps. I do not forget your kindness,” she says.
Jeraint blinks. “He was very young when I last heard of him. I wish him well, I suppose.”
She smiles “He seems young to me. But what would you have me tell him?”
Jeraint shrugs slightly. “What he would know and you can tell him. I made no secret of what I did. Once I had won free anyway.”
She nods, and moves away to serve another.
It’s some days later that she approaches again. “Would you consider meeting with him, he wanted me to ask you.”
Jeraint pauses. “Yes, but he should be wary of spies. His people do not love me. And I cannot blame them for that.” His tone is wry although there is pain beneath it.
With a little twinkle in her eye she replies “This one of them seems in awe of you.” She frowns. “I could arrange something here, but it’s terribly public. Is there somewhere else he should find you?”
Jeraint shrugs. “In the field is probably the best bet. I assist the August Celestials on occasion. Perhaps in the quiet of the Red Crane’s temple.”
She nods again, and gives him a little shy smile as she leaves a plate by him before moving away. “I cooked this for you. You should eat more!”
“Thank you.” He says sincerely and with a real smile. He eats it with relish and then leaves and whispers a spell. He felt the need to consult with Morthil. His ancient teacher was more adept with alliance politics than he and he needed that. Before Dalaran, he might have consulted Vereesa but he no longer trusted the Ranger-General.
It is a couple of weeks later when a clear voice, pitched quietly, sounds hesitantly as Jeraint walks by a pillar, “Magister Jeraint?”.
Jeraint pauses and looks round, a flicker of icy magic springing up around him in case of attack.
A young Mage steps forward just enough to be seen. “I…” he begins, then stops, dignity forgotten, words fled, and stares for a moment in frank shock as he sees Jeraint clearly for the first time.
The older mage remains expressionless to most although a more experienced observer might see him as torn between amusement and deep sorrow.
“I am sorry,” he says after a moment. “The last thing I intended was to be so rude.” He swallows. “I… Can we talk?”
“Of course,” the other says courteously and conjures some cake and ice cold water as he sits in a convenient alcove.
Feanáro sits, grace hiding nervousness. “I had heard your name, of course. But… I had not expected to hear it again from an Orc telling me that he had known a Mage before, and that that Mage had… left the Horde.” He looks away, adding very softly “We had been told you were dead, you see.”
He hesitates, then hurries on, the words almost tumbling over themselves “Since then, I have hoped to speak to you. I… Magister, I know I have no claim upon you, and I realise you must be very busy. More, I have bethought me that you might no longer want to think of the Sin’dorei. But I do not know what I can do, and I can think of no one else of whom I might seek counsel. Magister, I beg your aid.”
Jeraint’s face does not change nor does his hard won self control quiver. Barely. “Speak on, if I can give any counsel I shall.”
“I am a Mage. More than most, I know what we have done to save our people. We have always done whatever we had to, to preserve our people. No matter the cost.”
“And when I finished my training and started to learn of what was passing in the world? When I tried to ask why we had countenanced what Garrosh had done? ‘We are tied to the Horde’, I was told. ‘We must obey the Warchief for the good of the Sin’dorei’. ‘We need their protection’, they said. And I could think of nothing to do save to walk into Grommash Hold and denounce it all. But” he sounds ashamed “I knew it would do no good. And I was afraid to die like that.”
“Some of them looked at it all as one more vile necessity to keep our people alive. I couldn’t. I can’t. They have reached the point of preserving our bodies and destroying what we are. What point in preserving our people to be no more than, than another kind of Orc?”
“And now? Our people are dying. Garrosh spends our blood not like water, for water has some value. He spends it like shit,” the young mage hisses. “It was and is for nothing.”
The young Mage hangs his head. “I do not know what to do. I cannot keep on as I am.”
Jeraint sighs. “I am not sure I can give you good advice. I was in your position once and I left. It was painful and hard though. I had to sunder myself from the Sunwell and learn new ways to power. You can see some of the physical ravages it caused. But without that spell I would not have survived the assassins that were sent after me. I am not surprised most think me dead, in many ways I am.
“As for whether it was the right thing to do, I am not sure. Working to destroy Garrosh from within might be more effective. It was just not something I could bring myself to do.
“And the truth is, the alliance is not perfect nor well disposed to your people. The massacre in Dalaran being the best of a series of instances but there are plenty more.”
Feanáro sighs, a sound touched with despair. “I am sorry to make you think of it again.” He tries very hard to make his voice come out evenly, but succeeds at best in part. “And I must thank you, at the least, for the opportunity to put some of it into words.”
Jeraint shrugs. “I would love to be more positive. I can teach you the spell I used should you wish. But it is not something to undertake lightly. Occasionally I wonder if death would have been the better option.”
“Do you think so, Magister?” he asks. “Perhaps that is all the advice I need, then,” he adds sadly. “It was the only answer I could think of, after all.”
“Good luck then. Someday maybe we’ll speak again.” With that, the older mage, still young by sin’dorei standards although none would know it from his lined face, vanished.
“It does not seem likely” the younger says sadly to the empty air.
Zavier shook the blood off his axe and strolled back towards the inn. He had never expected farming to be so satisfying but he had to admit it was. Virmen had a surprisingly strong ability to feel pain.
‘They have betrayed me by siding with the Horde. Kill them.’
Jaina did not say that, not exactly. But it is what she meant. Jeraint knew that as he left her to get his orders from Vereesa.
He was right. Kill these hold-outs, cowering in the sewers; kill this elf who is trying to retrieve his property; kill these who have not fled their shops.
He did it. At times, he even felt a savage joy in it. He had left the Sunreavers after all. He had joined the Silver Covenant and left all that he held dear behind. He had done it because his wizardry was more important to him. His bonds, not with the Kirin Tor, a human institution but with the beauty and structure of the arcane, had been stronger that with his people, his city and even his family.
He had accepted that as one grief in a lifetime of them. Another step into the dark future that seers such as the Black Prince foretold.
He had embraced the Silver Covenant and fought with the alliance, joining their mages in battle to ensure the stability of the newly revealed continent of Pandaria. He had killed the Horde invaders, with vicious pleasure when it came to the orcish minions of Garrosh who he still blamed for betrayal and with guilt and grief when it came to the few Horde soldiers he recognised who he had known and respected.
Now, he slaughtered his former kin and fellow mages and he did not know what to think.
His powers had expanded beyond his previous imaginings. Tutelage from the shen’drelar combined with hard won experience in the land of Pandaria where even the plants were infused with mystical power, had expanded his knowledge and skill. The Sunreaver mages he faced had none of that. Still linked to the far away. Sunwell, they drew vast but limited power from it and wove it into clumsy spells that he countered easily and wards that his own efforts smashed through.
Time after time, a Sunreaver scholar, skilled but without the battle hardening that Jeraint had won in so many battles, fell before him.
He hated it. These were friends, fellow mages. People he had once numbered himself as one of. For most of them, their only crime was one of inaction; of allowing their leader to speak for them; of not betraying their people.
He loved it. These were traitors, weaklings, fools. He had has the moral fibre to leave the Horde when the so-called War-chief’s morals had plummeted so spectacularly into the abyss. Why should they not be punished for the crimes they had helped to commit.
Why should he suffer sorrow because they failed?
Leaving the sewers, the charnel smell of burned flesh in his nostrils and a tingling sensation in his right side where a flung icicle had caught him unawares without a barrier ward up, Jeraint saw Jaina and for a second stood in wonder.
He had seldom seen the full power of Lady Proudmoore unleashed. Indeed he had thought the stories of Antonidas’ young apprentice exaggerated. But the might and control she exhibited left him awestruck. A pair of vast elementals, more powerful than any mage he had heard of being able to control, marched besides her and, at her command, they slew. She herself walked with ice in her eyes to match the hair frosted in the attack on Theramore and directed them with a precision that ignored the feeble wards her victims tried to protect themselves with.
Jeraint grimaced. His own powers had outmatched the average wizard by far. Hers stood a league beyond him. He hoped that she would never have cause to turn on him for he would have stood barely longer than they. With a certain amount of shame, he knew that in that event all he could hope to do would be to flee and hope his powers could keep him alive long enough to evade her.
He shook himself free of awe and went to report back to Vereesa. He hoped he had done the right thing, at the least he supposed he would have shown his loyalty. After the Sunreaver betrayal, he was uneasily aware that his own loyalty might be questioned.
He was glad to be told to return to Lion’s Landing though. Dalaran’s magically warmed air held the stench of the grave and the enchanted harmony of the birdsong rang out too loudly against the silence of the streets. Pandaria, even in the midst of warfare, held a measure of real harmony. Every being in the alliance had learned the need for that by now, the Sha were an omnipresent threat and only self-control kept them at bay.
He returned to the throne room to report in and see if there was anything he was needed for and stopped when he saw that Lady Proudmoore had beaten him there. She must be able to teleport directly in, he thought in disbelief. Another legendary power such as he had thought no current mage had the skill to pull off.
Politely, he saluted and stood towards the back until the rulers were finished with each other.
“What were you doing, Jaina?! I was in negotiations to bring the sin’dorei into the alliance!”
Jeraint’s mind went blank. He barely heard the rest of the discussion, scarcely heard King Varian’s comments and dismissal.
All he could think was. ‘I might have been able to rejoin my people.’
The mage looked at his hands, still blackened from the fires he had called to kill those he had once seen as friends and dropped to his knees, heedless of the curious stares of soldier and servant. “You fool, Jaina.” He whispered. “You, utter, utter fool!”
The burning seas rose up and roiled the shattered landscape as the tortured world was finally consumed in a massive, apocalyptic explosion.
Daiera woke in a cold sweat, her eyes seeing again the shattered landscape of Hellfire and her heart aching as it had the first time she saw the shattered remains of the world. Fierce determination swept through her, and she rose and took up her sword, joining the assembled warriors on the Terrace to receive A’dal’s blessing before heading to Shadowmoon.
The burning seas rose up and roiled the shattered landscape as the tortured world was finally consumed in a massive, apocalyptic explosion.
Bolting awake, Daiera glanced over at the newly restored Quel’Delar. She had not needed that particular nightmare’s return to realise that to the Sin’do’rei, what had happened to the Sunwell was the destruction of their world. Nor had she needed any more reasons to oppose the Lich King; she had enough of her own. Grimly, she buckled on the sword and strode out into the cold.
The burning seas rose up and roiled the shattered landscape as the tortured world was finally consumed in a massive, apocalyptic explosion.
With a cry she bit back before any other might hear, Dairussë awoke. Shivering, she wrapped her arms around herself. No matter the cost, she swore; no matter who I have to beg, bully or inspire; Deathwing will be stopped. Azeroth will not be destroyed. If we can only defeat Deathwing, the damage done already might be healed. And perhaps, she thought, unshed tears stinging her eyes, there will then be peace at last. Slowly, she began to gird herself for war.
Daiera leapt to her feet, her axe in her hand before her eyes were even open. Mouth dry and heart racing, she stared blankly at the walls of the inn until the peaceful surroundings penetrated the fog of sleep. Sagging back onto the bed, she let out a deep sigh. It had been long enough since she’d visited that that she’d begun to hope that the peace she’d found of late in regained friendship had banished the old terrors once and for all.
It had been Wrathion’s hints and suggestions, she thought, that had stirred up the memories. She found herself resenting that almost as much as she distrusted the last black dragon.
Still, he had a point. While he appeared to work for the good of Azeroth, she would work with him.
And when he showed his true colours, she would be ready.
Calling for breakfast, she firmly shut the door of her room.
Late and only loosely based on the prompt, but still better than nothing!