We are one.
The sky was clear the first morning we camped in Crystalsong. The Crusade had left the Tournament grounds until they could move back in in force, when things were safe again. The whole forest remained oddly calm for the two-day conference, with the accounts of the Tournament’s destruction easing tensions between the various groups:
Firsandal Sehsel, in charge of the accumulated Sunreaver and Silvermoon forces, aiming to free the nobles (his uncle Verian included) from Sorlain’s captivity.
Eleane, the Kaldorei in charge of Stars’ Rest, who was seeking to reclaim her own captured rangers.
Fritz, the gnome commanding the Fizzcrank Airstrip, with no real aim, but a valid regional power.
Agmar and Bor’gorok, in charge of the orcish settlements that bore their names.
The triumvirate in command of Warsong Hold, which we later discovered had been reduced to just one, a Taunka named Tavir, after a Crimson Hand ambush en-route.
Josias, the commander of Valiance Keep, and by extent, all the Alliance forces in Northrend.
Feytan Snowpall, the elderly leader of the Kirin Tor forces in the region.
Evy’lin, the shadow knight whom we had grown to hate for her consistent interference under Elient Darkstrike. We were all quite aware that her aim was the cause of all our problems: the Korune gem which she had forged into a headpiece for Sorlain, and which provided most of his powers.
And of course, a council of our own leaders – Edanna Kal’es, Anrithen Eirvaness, and Sathreyn Duskwalker, who had held the Convocation together during the turbulent months of the last year.
A plan was settled upon rather quickly. Utilising Sehsel’s homing missiles, we would fire at and destroy the last few bloodcrystals that the Hand had split between their forces. Half the army would proceed west towards Sholazar (the last known location of the airship) and the remainder towards the Grizzly Hills, where two sections of the Crimson Hand fleet had been spotted.
Before our departure to the Grizzly Hills via Zul’drak, I, Khairan and Edanna set off for the closest of the giant trees within Crystalsong. Spanning hundreds of feet into the air with a majesty that rivalled that of Nordrassil, each was a stunning imitation of the world tree, preserved in a crystalline formation that undulated with a thousand glittering shades of arcane purple during the height of the day. Once a holding of the Green Dragonflight, the trees had been permanently altered into their mana-enriched state in an immense battle between the Black and Blue Dragonflights during the War of the Ancients. With the Black Flight slaughtering what remained of the Blues, legend holds that a spell cast by one of Malygos’ lieutenants ignited all of the essences of the fallen drakes, causing a permanent alteration to the landscape.
The trees incidentally formed a perfect staging ground for one of the plans we had for the ship. In anticipation of the wards that were necessary to keep a gunship of that size in the air, we had formulated a plan to use the draining and volatile nature of mana wyrms to rupture the wards. With a ship of the Cloudbreaker’s size, the wards would be huge – and consequently, we were going to need many many worms. The nearly limitless mana of the Crystalsong trees was the perfect place for controlled breeding of thousands of wyrms for the task.
With our forces having convened and with the tactics shared, we set off south. In the wilds of Grizzly Hills we faced several ambushes by the dwindling ranger forces of the Hand, culminating in a battle with the remaining Hand ships in the east at Venture Bay.
The artillery of ethereal golem and turrets fell incredibly easily, and the Hand force we fought was by this point half-composed of local fishermen that they had captured and controlled. Casualties, however, became certified when Evy’lin again got involved, exerting her own ‘influence’ over the forces of Gorgonna and Firsandal, causing them to charge head-first into a hidden Crimson Hand group. My own magics failed against the Eclipse Magi, forcing me into a comatose state, and with no one to avert the collision, considerable death was inflicted upon all (Verian included) before an arcane bomb detonated at their location.
Despite the ensuing surrender of Boughstrider, one of Sorlain’s commanders, and all the rangers under her command, a near-diplomatic crisis occurred, with both Conquest Hold and House Sehsel’s forces crippled.
Our aims technically accomplished in the east, we sailed to Valiance Keep, the main staging ground of the large army we had accumulated.
The Crimson Hand drifted off the coast of the Tundra, waiting for battle as we did. Having stationed the wyrms in Coldarra, Edanna had already called them. Bolstered by Valiance’s own naval forces, as well as the remaining Argent ships and a last-minute boost from Silvermoon under House Fiae, our forces could have almost looked like a match for the massive goblin gunboat shielded by a row of hybrid elven-orcish ships, all bearing the Crimson Hand sigil.
This is it. This is our culmination. The time we win, and the time we show that Azeroth is not to be wronged by those who desire power.
I took my place where we stood atop the Farshire Lighthouse, addressing the gathered forces as a conveniently-amplified bout of troll drumming blasted out of the radio.
“I stand before you, if not as an equal, at least as an elf. There are those among you who detest my people. You have fair reason to. But that is not why we are here. For now, let your hatreds drift away.
We are here, all of us, to defend something dear to us. Our freedom, our loved ones, our nations. Whether dead or alive, we are fighting for those at home. Sorlain seeks, like Garrosh did, to create a world of domination, with himself at the pinnacle of a million brainless soldiers, each identical in serving his whim.
That is not going to happen. The fact that Sorlain has pushed us – willing or otherwise – into this coalition shows that it will never happen. It shows that the people of Azeroth will rise up to protect their freedom, their choice to ally and act as they will. It shows that you are all willing to put this freedom – freedom for everyone – above petty hatreds.
So forget why you dislike me. Think about the world you want to inhabit. The world you may want your friends and children to inhabit. It is a world better off without hatred and war, one in which we can make each other stronger without losing any part of ourselves. Sorlain does not understand this world, but we will bring his ship down and make him.
On cue, brilliant fireworks burst overhead into the emblems of the gathered forces. The star of the Crusade, the Stormwind lion, the glaive of Darnassus and the eye of the Kirin Tor joined together with the wolf of Orgrimmar and the phoenix of Silvermoon. A massive roar echoed my own cry, as the forces took ship or flight. The first cannonballs roared out across the ocean, disrupting the calm. Above us, the clouds shifted and rippled, revealing themselves to in fact be our thousands upon thousands of wyrms, which quickly surrounded the now-visible gunship in a flashing blue cloud.
“That was inspiring, Keliera.”
“Thank you.” I paused. “In case any of us do not make it, I would like to state that I could not be more proud of the people I am going into battle with, and I would not do it with anyone else. Good luck to you all, and stay calm. There will be Korune on that ship.”
“I agree.” Khairan spoke first, and a happy bout of chatter about what we would do after this war over broke out as we ascended into the sky, cloaked by Edanna’s spells. Our ascent was joined by several illusions. Goblin rockets, gnome gyrocopters, orcish wyverns and Alliance gryphons were suddenly surrounding us in great numbers, adding to the magical confusion and the chaos afflicting the crews on top of the ship.
Sathreyn and Elient split off, aiming at the opening to the underbelly of the ship while the rest of us attempted to gain entry from above.
Fire shot through the sky as the aim of the turrets was completely distracted. The magi swept through the clouds of wyrms, each sapping the others’ strength. Taleberaite was shot down and I collided into him as the others landed, beginning to eliminate the remainder of the crew.
While we lay on the floor, Khairan and Edanna decimated the few turrets stationed atop the deck, tearing them to pieces and disrupting their firing, which caused the crew to scatter. Things began to calm down as we healed the wounded, the wyrms’ numbers decimated, with the remainder now proving pests only for the wards, while the other flying forces began to take over the cannons.
As we proceeded into the lift bound for the heart of the ship, Khairan leapt into the air. Flame wrapped around him and his entire skin began to glow. Everything became significantly brighter as he lifted up into the air before cannonballing into the deck, which melted and snapped before his power. As the lift headed down, we heard the distinct shriek of Ashel’ziar.
The air flickered as the wards surrounding the bottom entrance of the gunship faltered, parting briefly to let in the decelerating forces of Elient Darkstrike, her protégé Evy’lin and their accomplices, who numbered seven. All landing safely within the underbelly of the ship, they immediately drew the ire of two golems guarding the door into the rest of the ship.
Both sides opened fire upon each other as the golems charged, the sniper rifles of the group proving highly ineffective as the golems advanced. The group scattered, one of the members being crushed underfoot. His corpse snapped and rolled lifelessly back out into the open air. As the corpse dropped it was replaced by the airborne troupe of Sathreyn Duskwalker and his own forces, a motley yet well-trained crew of various races. The golems spun, their attention distracted from the elves they had on the run.
One of the golems hissed out a serious of indecipherable commands, the other charging for Sathreyn and immediately knocking him to his knees as the others dove for cover. Pinning him to the floor with its weight, the other golem advanced, pointing primed lasers towards his chest-
-and was immediately decapitated by the swing of Evy’lin’s sword, slicing through the mechanical limbs with ease and deflecting the blow of the lasers and throwing them across the room. The remaining golem, suddenly pinning nothing but air, attempted to regain its balance but the ensuing barrage from both sides pushed it out of the ship.
Recovering their positions, the two groups merged into one, each with the same intent: the recovery of the Korune gem from Sorlain. Proceeding through several rooms which comprised the outer edge of the large hold dedicated to the storage of the ship’s energy, they encountered little resistance from the weakened Crimson Hand forces. Reaching a centre point where the Hand were desperately trying to free two Cho’thaki. Sweeping them aside, Evy’lin effortlessly melded the locks back onto the cages, as Sathreyn’s own troops drenched them in oil before setting the orcish supersoldiers ablaze just as the main cannon fired, knocking them all to their knees.
Taking the lift up to the next deck, they found little in their way until encountering a large and trapped door. A fire mage within Elient’s ranks began melting the door into slag as sha tendrils whipped around the room, taking out more of the combined forces. Evy’lin stalked through the door, dissolving the tendrils into nothing, as they approached the elevator up to Sorlain’s command.
Taking the lift down to the other side of the hold, Edanna Kal’es, the Convocation’s remaining Archon, and Taleberaite Windblade, its military commander, proceeded likewise, to be met by the primary storage room of the remaining Cho’thaki forces. Miraculously left unattended due to the destruction being wrought on the other side of the ship by the covert forces, Edanna took the time to prime each cage to explode before teleporting herself and Taleberaite across the room and leaving the Cho’thaki to their fates.
Making their way through the wing, Taleberaite created a divine shield as they boarded the elevator up to the next wing – at which point they were fired upon by the surviving rangers of the Hand. As Taleberaite charged into the centre of the rangers, Edanna began to teleport around the room, wearing them down from afar. One by one, each ranger collapsed, exhausted or wounded, including Thialen herself, the former ally that had been captured and mind-controlled by Sorlain. As they completed their capture, the gun went off, throwing them to the floor.
With their passage complete, and the rangers secured as prisoners, both Edanna and Taleberaite proceeded towards the elevator that would take them up to the top of the ship, where Sorlain awaited.
From his hole atop the wing, Khairan oversaw both the engines in the back rooms of the ship, immense creations of ethereal technology that burned pure arcane dust to satisfy the wards and keep the ship afloat. As mana wyrms streamed in through his hole and began to cause havoc, he ducked down, avoiding the transport golems and workers as they abandoned their duties to try and fend off the wyrms. Priming his laser, he took aim at each cannon in turn, slicing them clean open and setting them ablaze.
As he pulled himself back through the whole, the engines swelled then ruptured, the whole ship shaking as the gun went off. The room filled with arcane flames in seconds, which quickly raced towards the fuel storage room. The ship shuddered as the power began to die and the ship slowly began to descend towards its ultimate end. Khairan surveyed the carnage once more before turning his attention to the throne room above, burning his way through the floor.
I proceeded alone into the final storage rooms of the hold. The sounds of battle and flame raged already, but this room was untouched.
Within, an eerie quiet pervaded, silencing the battle outside. There was no light.
‘Behold,’ A voice whispered out from the darkness.
The might of the Horde and Silvermoon is crippled. You are nothing in the world. What reason is there to continue?
The voice was unlike any I had ever heard. A deep, gong-like pitch matched by the force I could feel behind the words. I summoned all of the lessons to my mind I had learnt over the past year. I would not fall now.
‘The might of the Horde and of Silvermoon is gone, and good riddance. Power is not the equal of strength. It is what you do with your power that determines whether or not you are strong, and of that I say that the Sin’dorei have learnt. We are certain in our own position and strength.’
Your past is filled with ruin and anguish. Why go on when your loved ones are all gone?
‘We have all lost a great deal in this war, but we stand to lose even more. Now is the time to take action, to make sure that all of Azeroth needs not suffer a war like this again, to make sure that no one will need to go through what we did. Above all, to ensure that we must have hope for our future.’
Something snapped, but I could not tell from where. The shadows receded. I could see myself again.
You lie. Your feelings toward Garrosh are not that simple. You detest the Alliance for what it has done to your people.
‘No. You lie. I have never had time to hate the Alliance, for I have only had time for survival. Garrosh can be taught the error of his ways. I cannot hate, for that is what led to this war and all its atrocities. I will stay calm, focused on the bigger picture. The differences between the Alliance and the Horde can be mended if we all go forward together with peace and fellowship in our hearts.’
Another snap. The shadows drifted away, revealing Korune boxes crumpled on the floor, reduced to scraps.
The future is unknown. Terrible evil lurks ahead. Give in to your fear. Run away. The voice boomed from the far end of the room, still obscured in shadow.
‘And leave the fight to someone else? Not likely. The Sin’dorei have survived the Plague and the Scourge, and fought back the Lords of the Burning Legion alongside the rest of Azeroth. There is no need for fear. We have won time and time again. So long as we are the courageous ones, the Light standing before the dark. The beacon driving the fighters on.’
Another snap. ‘And what of your pride?’ The shadows receded, swirling into the huge figure as it stepped towards me. A mogu. ‘You are so confident in your victory, so assured of your success. Even now your world already grows fat and complacent.‘ It unleashed a barrage at me and I conjured my own, deflecting it into the wall.
‘Pride led to the fall of my race twice before. Never again. I live now knowing that I work for a better world, and that my being replaced is a sign of this world’s success. We shall never rest while there is hardship in this world. We must work constantly to ensure fairness. Anger, hatred, violence, despair, doubt and fear still rule in the world, but so long as we are humble and we serve a cause greater than ourselves we are duty-bound to scour those emotions from the world by helping the people within it before we help ourselves.’
The mogu unleashed a beam of pure sha at me, and emotions wracked my mind.
Silvermoon burns. So long as there is hope and courage in the world, we shall rise from the ashes of destruction. A better world will be built afterwards, a stronger world.
Theramore falls. I do not need to avenge or to fall to grief. I need to make this world a better place in the name of the fallen, a world fit for everyone to live in.
Lareen and Sorlain turn on us. Death and oppression are not the answers. Azeroth has changed. Peace can be achieved, and it is the answer.
The Convocation triumphs over Sorlain. This is our goal today, but it is not our true goal. We serve the world now. We all make it a better place. We never stop working or rest on our achievements. We take joy and certitude from them and use them as inspiration for even better achievements.
The mogu hissed as I redirected the beam back to him through force of will. ‘What of your people? Do you take pride in uniting the peoples of Pandaria against you? Anger at their betrayal? Despair at its inevitability? Hatred of the fact that they are better, or violence against their superior fighters? Do you fear them? Do you doubt yourself? Your people live in the past. It is time to rejoin the present!’
The mogu began to scream as the beam wracked it with its own failures, the Korune boxes lifting into the air and vaporising as the sha energy in the room dissipated. The whole place was beginning to shake. Suddenly my senses returned. I could hear battle again, smell smoke. The mogu fell to floor, defeated.
You cannot stop us, Sorlain. We have overcome these challenges. You have nothing left.
Down below, in the freezing waters of Northrend, battle raged on. Turbulence conjured by the Coalition shamans made things complex for both sides while they traded fire. Two Crimson Hand ships had sunk already. The others were scattered as the Coalition began ramming the goblin freighter while its troops leapt aboard. Despite their initial successes, Crimson Hand refugees streamed from all decks. The Hand commander, Rith’len, proved a decimating force, leaping from ship to ship. First she decapitated Tavir, the remaining commander of Warsong Hold. From there she leapt to Lirial Swiftmoon, Thialen’s second-in-command, who had called wild eagles to heckle the Crimson Hand – resulting in most of their sails being ripped to shreds. With Lirial unceremoniously strangled and thrown into the water, Rith’len turned her attention elsewhere.
Sorlain’s frequent commands boomed across the bay from Hand communicators, becoming increasingly frantic as Eleane directed the shamans to capsize two more Hand ships, leaving them outnumbered. Sharks swarmed the bay, called upon by the druids, making quick work of the Hand soldiers. In a bloody rage, Rith’len leapt straight to her, dragging Eleane by the hair and dropping her into the bay as she returned to her own ships – which she directed to fire, halving the Coalition ships immediately.
At this point, the sky lit up as Fritz’s gnomes upon the top deck of the ship gained control of the main guns. The water was suddenly ablaze, and the air stopped as the main gun swivelled to aim below. With the remaining Fiae ships being herded towards a rocky ending by the Crimson Hand, the gun fired, missing the Fiae by inches and pulverising all the Crimson Hand hybrid ships, leaving behind only the Morning Blade (Chernow Jarath’s vessel) and the goblin freighter from which a furious Rith’len was still firing.
Barely a second later, both of the hulking engines of the Cloudbreaker burst in bright plumes of fire, and the air rippled once more as the gunship’s wards began to fall one by one. The gunship shunted forward and the gnome gyrocopters began to quickly evacuate as the whole ship spun slowly in mid-air, beginning to steadily drift downwards towards the ocean.
At this point the remaining Fiae ships began to sail inexplicably towards Rith’len as their commander Denri Fiae switched sides. “Eh… Your majesty? My king? We… You proved your point, alright? We’re in position. Just give the order and we’ll fire on ol’ Sandal’s ship, okay? Please.”
Understandably horrified and confused, chaos erupted on the two Fiae ships as they drifted within the water, Rith’len pausing on her communicator while a mutiny broke out. Taking command, Firsandal Sehsel directed the remaining ships towards the Morning Blaze, quickly capturing it and surrounding Rith’len’s vessel.
Sorlain’s grand throne room was a miracle of engineering that managed to overlook the whole ship. Along the walls, countless captured nobles and other forces were chained to the walls, their free will totally removed. From his throne, Sorlain greeted the trio of Evy’lin, Elient and Sathreyn as they led the charge into the hall.
“So many of your forces are dead by my hands. You’ve chosen the wrong side.”
“You’re a hard man to pin down, dear. It’s over.” Evy’lin called out as Sorlain rose up to his full height, surrounded by the cloud of sha energy sustaining him. “Hand over the gem or draw your weapon.”
“You truly are hopeless. I don’t need the gem. I never needed the gem. Take it.” Sorlain removed the gem from his throne and tossed it towards the trio, where it shattered at their feet, totally drained of energy.
“He drained it all. Kill him.” Elient muttered, as the trio braced for battle, the brainwashed nobility and the golems already advancing. Their reinforcements quickly rushed in after.
“You think it’s going to be that easy? You’re all-
“fools, and you’re the biggest of the lot!” Edanna whooped as she and Taleberaite joined the fray. I followed shortly after to see her unleashing Jadefire which nibbled at Sorlain’s sha aura.
I began combat with a golem as Khairan burst through the floor and set fire to several nobles, before tossing fire at two golems approaching him.
Sorlain’s diatribe was continuously interrupted by Edanna as the two duelled with their words, at the same time as Evy’lin duelled Sorlain toe-to-toe and Elient and Sathreyn held the line. Across the room, Taleberaite began to blur, slicing through warrior after warrior. Meanwhile, I ducked around, blasting the sha tentacles I could see erupting from the floor. Khairan easily mopped up the corrupted nobility.
“If you can’t handle weak blasts like this, you’ll be really boned once the dice turn my way!” Edanna continued her mocking of Sorlain, and it looked to be having an effect. The sha cloud shrank before Sorlain slammed his sword into the floor, blasting us against the wall with a consecration of the entire room. By this point, most of his forces were dead.
The brief silence was marked by an incessant high-pitched noise much like a boiling kettle. The ship was beginning to feel the strain of its descent. We didn’t have long.
“How DARE you judge me?!” Sorlain glared at Edanna, who yawned, taking aim with her jadefire staff and firing.
The room shook as the disembodied head of Yu’lon erupted from the end of the staff, hurtling towards Sorlain with an immense roar as she bit down on him-
And Sorlain transformed her into a whirling cloud of sha which he sent throughout the room, ricocheting off the walls. The entire gunship was shaking and practically coming apart. Everything began to blur as Sorlain and Evy’lin charged through the room in their duel, the rest of us firing after them.
The sha were having too much of an effect, the metal of the ship twisting and warping (probably not helped by Elient’s saronite). The noise of its descend was becoming louder than the battle, and everything ceased to watch as the back of the room was wrenched off by the strain of the fall, fluttering into the sky like paper, while the sudden force of the wind threatened to drag us all out.
The flying agents began to shoot in and out, carrying us out one by one. The whole ship was coming apart by now, the metal making up the room wrenching and twisting off, flying into the air. Sorlain laughed as the wind swept him out entirely, the last of the sha dissipating as he was thrust out over the ocean. The throne room span and wrenched completely off, only Elient pausing to commemorate her dead before too leaping off onto the back of a wyvern.
From the air, we saw Sorlain as he dropped into the ocean with a muted splash, joined shortly after by the remnants of his throne room. Above, the main body of the ship broke up into three, the massive arcane fuel source igniting in a fierce explosion that tore the ship up further, the pieces falling across the Tundra and the bay.
It was over.