I awoke, and promptly fell from my suspended location into a lake.
The last night (nights?) stayed hazy in my mind, like the remnant of a dream, until I clambered out of the lake, where the memories disappeared along with any semblance of my dignity.
I was not so far from the West Sanctum, so I walked the short distance, dripping all the while. When I entered the main grounds I heard a voice from my side.
‘Good afternoon, Miss Dawndancer.’ I turned to see Khairan sat upon the grass, studying a text intensively. He did not seem to have noticed my rather bedraggled state, but upon seeing him I recollected with clarity his own behaviour at 7/7/0 – the choking, the rather desperate pleading, followed by a total refusal to enter. His loss.
Still, I quizzed him about it.
‘Ah… I do not like such an atmosphere. It makes me feel totally defenceless… and it reminds me of darker times.’ In that moment, I saw something I had not seen before in the Magister: Vulnerability. The lack of control over magic had made him truly fearful whereas it had been more familiar to Relcha, Edanna and I. Despite the drink wearing off, I felt my own tongue give way.
‘Khairan, I… I have been holding the events of Dalaran against you. But I am sorry. After what I’ve seen of the kingdom… I see now that there could not have been another outcome. You are not blameless, but you are not the culprit.’
‘Dalaran… Was different. Dalaran is a bad place for our people. I believe that there is a chance at peace, even after what happened there… But not in Dalaran. Somewhere that is neutral for elves. Not tied to us as that place is.’
‘Really? I had almost given up hope, myself…’
‘Hah. Never. You remind me of myself, when I was young…’
‘You are good, adventurous, free…’
I smiled at him, and he smiled back. Sorlain’s voice crackled over the communicators.
‘Convocation, please assemble at the Farstrider Retreat. We have been summoned by Houses Jarath and Eirvainess to aid against a troll incursion in southern Eversong.’
Our conversation silenced, I and Khairan quickly departed for the other side of the forest, arriving slightly late. Though the area was brimming with Blood Knights of House Jarath, the Farstriders of Eirvainess had already departed. A tall, vicious looking woman issued orders while the Convocation ambled about.
‘Oh no.’ Edanna burst into muttered worrying over the communicators. ‘That’s Lady Milva Jarath. I’d hoped we wouldn’t be encountering her.’
Khairan studied Milva from afar while she dealt in flirtatious platitudes with Kali’thran and Thelnarion. ‘Why?’
‘See that cloak? Her daddy had it crafted for her. It’s made from troll skin and fur.’ I craned my neck, and sure enough, the knee-length cloak was a mixture of matted furs and taut, reflective green hues.
‘Delightful.’ I muttered.
A short time later, we had been assigned to enter and scout the troll village of Zeb’watha for information on the Zandalari, who were aiding the Amani in some way; the main forces of Jarath and Eirvainess would meanwhile be drawing attention away with a large attack on the nearby Tor’watha.
There were, of course, concerns. Khairan refused to aid because the trolls were non-hostile and the Great Houses were already doing significant damage; he relented upon the logic that the Zandalari were only in the kingdom to arm the Amani to fight us. The trolls were ill-prepared and their information easily yielded. I think most of us felt glad to let them run – it was a better fate than those in the larger settlement would be getting.
Following our success that night, we moved into the Ghostlands, following a request from the Reliquary’s main benefactors, House Ledaal. The Reliquary was busy elsewhere and our presence was thus necessary to help at an excavation where a creature with considerable skills over mind magic was busy causing havoc. Fortunately, I was outside of the actual excavation helping to shield the others – though the thing they carried out afterwards seemed unexplainable.
The next night, we assembled at the Farstrider Enclave to receive new orders from Milva Jarath, whose cloak had gotten noticeably longer since the last time we had seen her.
‘This was the only one to survive. Thought you’d like to see what you can get out of him – he’s a halfbreed, so he’ll be easier to… access than any of the other trolls. The rest of us are headed west to investigate sightings of more Zandalari, but feel free to follow any leads he yields.’ With a smirk, she spun on her heel and vanished into the familiar dark lights of the Ghostlands.
Kali’thran took over, displaying masterful skills in extracting information from the terrified troll. I stayed back with Khairan, seeing no need to get involved. Soon, we learnt that the Zandalari were planning to reinforce the Amani by sea.
‘Well, Fiae have control over the navy. Even then we have a boat. I’m sure we can-‘
‘It’s a ship.’ An unrecognisable voice corrected me across the communicators.
‘Is that… Dawnlake?’ Khairan’s surprised voice rang out over the communicators.
‘Yes, it is. Stop touching my horns.’
‘But they’re so pretty!’ Aleck let out a girlish squeal.
This peculiar exchange crackled across through the communicator, curious enough to divert Sorlain’s attention from the prisoner.
‘What is going on?’
‘Forestfire keeps touching my horns.’
‘Horns?’ I inquired over the communicator. What cause would… horns? I did not understand.
‘Yes, horns. Come here, Dawnlake, let me take the rest of the bandages off.’
‘Stop touching my horns.’
‘Then let go of my hand.’
‘What is going on?’ Khairan barged into… whatever they were doing. I glanced at him. He seemed as confused as I.
‘Well, apparently Dawnlake found her fel-laced armour and put it on while I wasn’t looking. There’ve been some side-effects I didn’t see coming.’
‘… Side-effects to what, exactly?’ I looked at Khairan again, and he looked back and shook his head. No idea.
‘Dawnlake and I have been working on increasing her strength.’
‘How the fel does that involve giving her horns?’ I still didn’t understand.
‘The same way it made the orcs stronger.’
‘No, she’s a Sin’thaki.’
I felt sick.
‘Have you lost your minds? This is an abomination!’ Khairan began cursing at them.
‘Stop touching my horns.’
‘You still haven’t let go of my arm.’
‘You… This is disgusting! You’ve turned her into a felblood!’
‘Not at all, Dawndancer. There was no fel involved.’ Sorlain intervened before returning to the prisoner.
‘The process was completely safe.’
‘Stop. Touching. My. Horns.’
‘Oh yes, just one test subject, I’m sure that makes it completely safe!’ I was shaking. Khairan slid his hand into mine and squeezed it reassuringly.
‘I think I’m going to be sick.’ I muttered to him. ‘What are we going to do?’
‘Be ready. This won’t end well.’
‘Us versus demonic Dawnlake? We can’t defend against that, of course it won’t end well.’
We continued our quieted conversation as the group moved to follow the clues of the Amani prisoner.
‘She’s not invincible. Use the area to your advantage. She’s still vulnerable to regular fire, even if she can’t be harmed by magic.’
I shook my head.
‘I need to become more powerful.’