Torrent: Rising Thunder

We were not long in One Keg before more news came. The Zandalari had invaded Kun-Lai’s northern coast, pillaging villages and performing dark magic. Our pandaren guide was informed that they intended to resurrect an ancient king of old times – a mogu tyrant known as Lei Shen, or the Thunder King. The first mogu emperor, Lei Shen persisted in children’s tales, but was apparently a figure of great power and greater fear.

Messages were sent to those in Pandaria who held their own power, before we set off for the northern province of Zouchin. Apparently a pacifist area for the last century and a half, the villages were weak against any invasion and needed immediate reinforcement. We quickly made our way to the northern pass – another old mogu construction. Once upon a time, Zouchin had been the start of the pass between the two races of mogu and troll (according to our guide, their alliance had terrorised Pandaria before the pandaren rallied the other races in rebellion).

The pass was not as straightforward as it first looked. Just after halfway, there was an ancient cave in and a separate tunnel dug alongside it. The smaller tunnel pushed the Convocation, along with our various supplies and yaks, onto a small balcony where various balloons were used for transport all across the mountain range. Welcomed by an old pandaren couple, we went down in balloons, drifting over the green forests while our guide took the supplies by foot.

I felt the same exhilarating freedom, drifting over the light woodland, as I had on the treacherous snowy peaks. The feeling of not being there, the feeling of not having to care. I wondered why I had not felt it earlier in Pandaria. Pandaria was beautiful. Even in war, those feelings were there, a little blessing from the world.

My indifference to the fight continued for some time after we arrived, through several skirmishes with trolls and gnoll mercenaries that they had hired, carrying me right through a burning building. I didn’t realise the sheer gravity of our situation until the real battle began.

The Pandaren supplied great explosive kegs, ineffective against the legions of trolls. We gathered on a single hilltop overlooking the village, fighting them back narrowly, but the trolls managed to take out one of our cannons and their mind priests slowly began to affect us.

I was being healed for a shadow-inflicted shoulder injury between waves when the bats set upon us. A great swarm that darkened the skies, the trolls had the upper hand, and soon the entire village was burning. I felt it for the first time in days. Fear. A strange, dark feeling that bubbled up inside me and threatened to overtake my entire soul.

The last thing I saw before a dart from a bat-rider knocked me out was Amaran’s body darkening as the Sha overtook him.

Torrent: In the Mountains

The next morning, we set off west to One Keg, on the trail of Elient and Evy’lin. Grummle territory, there were apparently whole valleys of Mogu tombs hidden within the high peaks nearby.

No one seemed happy. They kept asking if I was alright. I felt fine. Something must have happened after I went to sleep – perhaps a Sha attack? Regardless, it was of no concern.

Soon, we were scrabbling along the mountaintop trails. It was cold, but I did not feel it. The rush of the wind against my face, the brightness of the snow… I felt alive in a way that the heat of the Jade Forest or the bright sun of the Valley could not beat. It was all I could do not to leap off and fly.

It was vaguely weird. Soon, we were at the mouth of a large cave, clambering up to the valleys above. Once within, the air changed. The snow falling overhead reduced, and the sound of the wind in my ears halted. The wind, prevented from entering the valleys by steep mountain walls, screeched overhead in anger, its voice reaching us as low wails. The whole place seemed haunted – the perfect place for Mogu to build tombs.

Days prior, scouts had found imitation Mogu script. Upon an abandoned altar, we found more – and evidence of our old friends. Soon, we followed their trail into one of the nearby tombs.

It was… an easier trip than expected. Most of the traps had already been set off, and it was easy to capture them when they were weakened from the traps.

I did not mind either way. I just kept thinking back to the feel of the wind on my face.

Torrent: Coldwinds

She sat, surrounded by snow on a small hill. Before her endless wastes of snow stretched, blinding her.

She did not care. She felt nothing and everything.

The others had tried to comfort her, reassure her…

But that did not stop her thoughts. She had lost a bid to gain shelter, but how could she feel cold? It was her fault Sithrial was gone. The least she could do was suffer for it.

Maybe things could change.

Maybe.

But not soon.

She laid back in the snow, alone save for the two moons above her, and dreamt for the first time in weeks. Of everything.

Of Sithrial, of Eversong, of her parents, her family, her friends in the Magisterium, the Convocation, her childhood, her love…

And by the time she woke up again, she felt no better.

So she kept dreaming.

Bloodied Heart: Fear

Darkness enveloped her afterwards, as though preparing her for some great battle. She felt as she had done back in the Jade Forest. A thousand whispers, each different from the last, but she found herself unable to remember the ones before.

Somehow, all she knew was that they were true. And if they were not true now… They would be.

The darkness haunted her dreams, yet she dreamt of nothing. Eventually, she stopped sleeping altogether, and then the darkness came in the day as well. She worked on auto-pilot.

‘Well, if all I have to do is hug a ghost…’

They were in the Temple of the White Tiger. She did not feel the cold, nor did she admire the beauty, the vistas, the mountains. Why should she? She was strong.

‘Fear.’

The great cat’s voice boomed in the temple’s great arena, and snow drifted harmlessly from the rooftops. Something lit up within her, like a spark in the darkness, and she could feel the pull of the Celestial’s power. The powers over her cracked.

The blue light swirled around her, though she would not know it was blue until later. It circled her, dissipating and becoming like a cloud before it moved away; soon it rose up, filling the room with a grand vista.

Silvermoon, as before the Scourge. A thousand marble spires, topped with blue and gold. Forever superior. Forever standing. Keliera gasped. Her heart tugged, as though fighting.

The view opened up, and fire spread out through the Eternal Forest as a wave of black came to the city. Fire burst from the city, and one by one, the spires fell.

Keliera’s bravado had vanished. Her mouth slowly opened, as though protesting. No words came out except another, smaller gasp.

The blue light flashed again, then the clouds turned black. Keliera tried to step back, but found herself locked in place.

The clouds enveloped the room until it looked as though they were stood in a forest. The sky overhead was filled with smoke. The view span rapidly, as though in first-person.

‘Kels!’ The view churned, taking in the sight of a burning village. A single young high elf ran up. ‘Kels, you have to run, come on. They’re coming. You can’t just stand here!’ His voice was desperate and choked with tears. ‘Come on!’

A guttural roar sounded from behind.

‘Run!’

‘No…’

Her voice was quiet, and she found herself choking. Her heart churned violently as though it was turning over, and she could feel the darkness struggling to overtake it. Xuen’s wise eyes looked through the vision’s into hers, burning bright blue until the picture dissipated and the clouds swirled around her, turning deep red.

A desperate run through the forest, the view churning again. The last word she had heard echoing boundlessly.

‘Run!’

‘Run!’

‘Run!’

She looked back towards her burning home, and the view streaked with tears. She moved to go back, but found the fire pressed her further on.

‘Sithy…’

‘Sithrial…’ She murmured weakly, paralysed by the view. Tears began to slip down her face.

The hulking cat shifted. Its fur bristled and the gaze remained on her.

‘Despair.’

More blue light swept from his mouth and enveloped her, and this time it was coloured, as though she was looking anew.

Theramore loomed before her, houses ablaze, surrounded by armies and fleets. The view dived into its streets, manic and throbbing with fights. It rested on a shadowed figure by the inn.

‘Sithrial…’

‘You can still go. You’ll be safe. Run, Kels. There’s no time. Garrosh won’t hesitate to burn you too if you’re still here. You have to go.’ The figure moved closer, the blazing fires illuminating his soft features, the thin scars across his blue eyes.

‘Stop this, Sorlain. This is cruel.’

Khairan’s words sounded out into the room, concerned and angry. No one responded. Keliera did not hear them. She sank onto her knees as the view zoomed back out, and the blue light of her teleporting away flashed before the bomb fell.

Theramore was incinerated.

Keliera cried in despair.

‘No!’

‘No!’

The view sank onto the floor, and rain and arcane flashes mixed with blood and mud. The view began to distort and there was the long sound of a broken howl.

‘SITHRIAL!’

Tears poured down her face, and the view flipped from grey to discoloured and back. She shook and gulped in air. Surely this was it, now. Surely it was over.

His figure loomed up out of the smoke, glaring at her.

‘Why did you run?’

She found her own voice echoing out of her mouth, answering his accusations.

‘I… you told me to…’

‘Why did you not save me?’

‘I… b-but… you told me to run…’

‘You left me. You left me in Eversong and you left me in Theramore!’

She winced. ‘No… I… please, Sithy, I…’

‘You let me die. You coward.’

She gasped and the tears became stronger. The darkness fighting against her bubbled and began to boil, and her heart began to sink.

‘No… Please… I l-love you…’

‘It’s your fault I died.’

‘But we… we could… I could… I’m s-sorry…’

‘Your fault.’

‘S-sithy… please..’ Her voice became weaker and the illusion wobbled with her.

‘Your fault.’

She found herself unable to respond, staring into his eyes, the blue eyes, the sky-blue eyes with a twinkle and a crease between the right and its eyebrow, the eyes she’d looked into so many times.

‘YOUR FAULT!’ The voice boomed and the room almost shook. Keliera shuddered again.

‘No, I… please..’

‘Stop this now, Sorlain! What good is this doing her?!’

‘YOUR FAULT! YOU KILLED ME! YOU!’

‘NO!’ Keliera shrieked, breaking, and found herself able to move, running running. Away from the room, away from him, away from everyone, everything.

Only nothing. The darkness greeted her and she greeted it like an old friend, thrusting herself into oblivion. Anything to not remember, anything to not be there. Anything to forget.