Fresh Growth – Chapter 3

Don’t think about worst-case scenarios. This could all be just fine.

I looked up and locked eyes with Beltheron. Warn Astranaar. Hurry.

He growled, concerned, but did not disobey, turning tail and dashing away along the main road. I shifted my focus to the explosion, or what had caused it. Silverwind Refuge – that was the site of development for the Stonetalon Bomb. There must be another one, or there had been. But why would it go off here? After a month of attempted sabotage the Horde had remained in control of it right until Thal’darah… This was more than suspicious. But I didn’t have time to come up with theories. I needed to see the effect of this explosion.

Nestling Kalandrios into a dip in a bough high enough to avoid any ground predators, I stepped back, facing a grand oak tree that stretched just above the canopy. Using my natural reflexes I coiled back onto the ground, using my years’ worth of training within the forest to jump, spring-heeled, up into a higher branch.

I hung on confidently, swinging back and forth until I reached a momentum high enough to throw myself straight up and grab another branch. I repeated the process as the branches got thinner and thinner. If the bomb had exploded at Silverwind Refuge, and fire had made it this far in the initial blast… Then the whole of the bowl-shaped valley around it could be at risk, although I had at least stopped it spreading near Astranaar.

I let out a hacking cough, by now thirty feet above-ground, and my train of thought was interrupted by my realisation that I was surrounded by a thin veil of smoke. Looking down, my view was met by a shimmering grey vapour. Looking up, it only darkened, to the point where the sky was barely visible.

Pulling my robe over my nose and mouth, I hastened my climb. At about 50 feet above ground I started to meet the Ashenvale canopy, and was covered in a sticky tar-like substance that the smoke was leaving everywhere. I couldn’t go further, and sat between my branch and the trunk of the ancient tree. I felt incredibly ill from the smoke, but I could see over most of the canopy and into the Silverwind Valley.

I gasped through the thin dyed leather covering my mouth. It was even worse than I’d thought.

A bright fireball gleamed up at me from the southern border, lighting up the mountains and the very air. Everything in the whole valley was alight, and looking west Stardust Spire was obscured by smoke. Flashing green lights from Raynewood Tower indicated the front in the northeast, and the fire stopped short of Falfarren River. A haze of smoke and steam was drifting up from the lake and the main body of Silverwind Refuge, which appeared to have already burnt completely out. Further north of it, a messy, dark green gas floated menacingly. Chemicals.

This was devastating. All life in the area was at risk. Kalimdor hadn’t faced such a big forest fire since the Highborne had called down an Arcane Storm across Ashenvale, over seven millennia ago.

Boom.

I cried out, shielding my eyes as another fireball burst out in the north of the grove. The green fog that I had been worried about had lit up, creating a terrifying emerald flame for a few seconds that pushed out into the forest.

Crack.

Barely able to see by now, I watched helplessly as the main road was pushed open by the emerald flame, the ground twisting and darkening at the intense heat. The bright light faded as gradually the water at the base of the volcano burst out, spreading over the grove and turning the forest fire into an ominous arc-shape.

And then, the lava followed the water, bubbling out of the newly-opened holes in the ground and rushing forth.

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