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Justice and Betrayal

January 23, 2013

‘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!”

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