Chapter 2: Rapture
Cimmeria looked out over the forest. Thanks to the efforts of the Evergrove druids, it had steadily expanded in recent years – which meant more hunting grounds for her brood. She was thankful. The brood had suffered hard times since the War in Outland had concluded, but things were beginning to pick up. It was a welcome boon, especially with Sabellian’s malaise.
A bright flash of light caught her eye from the canyon below, distracting her from a rather tasty basilisk. Opting to swallow it whole, she licked her lips and sauntered over to the edge, peering into the depths of the Bladespire territory.
An unusually large group of smaller humanoids gave her pause for thought. Figures in dusty twilight robes circled around a large procession of ogres, surrounded by tendrils of shadow magic.
They’re heading the same way as the gronn Sabellian noticed. And those are Twilight robes. Cultists. This is too coincidental to just leave uninvestigated.
“Nighteye, lead the others back to Sabellian when you are finished eating. I need to see what’s going on in the canyon.” Cimmeria barked her orders at the nearest drake, who nodded before turning back to a stag corpse. Cimmeria charged off the edge, gliding into a shaded gulch, where she landed and assumed her mortal form, a thin draenei with pupil-less eyes. She moved closer to the group, keeping to the shadows afforded by the large spires above.
Maybe Sabellian was right. I wonder if vindication might get him to stop his sleeping all day.
Although she did not let on, Cimmeria was concerned for Sabellian. They had been clutch-brother and clutch-sister, but since the freeing of Outland and the death of Gruul, Sabellian had… lacked purpose. Few required black dragons on the shattered world, and fewer wanted them.
Now, more often than not, Cimmeria had to direct and care for her brothers and sisters. Cimmeria suited leadership, but she would have preferred to have not taken over alone. On a good day, he had been the most energetic and logical of all the dragons on Outland, though his aggressive leadership style had left a lot to be desired.
This isn’t the future I had in mind either, brother. But if we don’t seize opportunity, what else is there?
The nonsensical proselytisation of the cultists was a dim murmur as Cimmeria followed, while all eyes were rapt upon the ogres. One, in particular, a two-headed mage wielding an elementium staff, held the group’s attention. The twisted and sickly metal hurt to look at, and Cimmeria glanced down, noticing a tome by the ogre’s feet. It was positively ancient, and the power it radiated made the young dragon feel sickly.
She was quickly getting a bad feeling about this situation.
Then the earth cracked.
Uninterested in the hunt, Sabellian remained atop the bluff, occasionally turning his head to shield his eyes against the dusty wind. His scales baked in the unending heat. A considerable number of his scales were cracked or scuffed, and his whole manner showed signs of a lack of personal attendance. There was no trace of a proud black dragon where he lay.
Once, Sabellian had aimed to free his brethren from the gronn and their overlord, Gruul. Thousands had died at their hands, and their corpses littered the mountains for years. But after the final victory, Sabellian felt empty. He had no more goals. No more aims. The only point of the black dragonflight now was to exist. Tales from Azeroth spoke of the evil of his flight, of how it served to destroy everything. That had only made him feel worse.
But one tale caught his ear. That of the noble dragons of old, who protected the earth and served the mortals. It was a distant hope. But it was hope.
The powers of the earth. The powers of Neltharion. The Earth-Warder of old. Sabellian scratched at the dirt with a claw, wondering. How does one claim such a power? Can it be claimed at all?
Sabellian had no idea. But he knew he had to try and understand the earth, to try and reclaim what the dragons had once been. The only problem was how to go about it, and so he remained where he lay, unsure of what path to take.
Several hours after they had left to hunt, with the evening sky now cool, the brood began to return, landing in small groups with their various meals. Sabellian counted them, as usual. He could name each as they flew overhead just from their scales. He had seen most of them hatch, and raised far more. He knew something was amiss from the anxious fluttering of the wingtips. Around ten minutes after the last batch flew in, he grew concerned.
Cimmeria’s not here.
Sabellian glanced around several more times, as half an hour passed without her return. The other drakes continued to eat, but glanced around warily. She had not said specifically what she was doing, and had given no indication of when she might return. Sabellian pushed himself to his feet, intending to go search for her.
Then the earth cracked.
They took refuge in the mountains north of the Dark Portal. A majority of them had survived, but at a steep cost: They had lost two of their wisest and strongest fighters, and many more were injured.
Outland. This should be different. This should be what saves us.
The harsh red soil of Hellfire Peninsula was unlike anything Obessia had encountered in her short years. The earth did not cower or bend before her kind; if anything, she could feel its strength, constantly pushing back against the forces that could never quite tear it apart. It was as though her spirit was butting heads with the earth itself, an earth that was so strong it would not let a single speck of dust go.
It felt… liberating. The earth here was not her enemy – every day in Azeroth it had felt like she were destined to fight the earth. Within Draenor lay a new being, a foreign being – and it was a worthy opponent. She had never encountered the feelings of mingling with the earth spirits this way – though she doubted that any of her contemporaries saw the spirits in such a way. She was unsure if any of them could feel the spirits at all. It certainly didn’t seem like they cared for them.
Then the earth cracked. She could feel it gasp in pain, seeing the paper-thin rivulets opening between her feet as her vision expanded in a way she’d never known was possible. Her head felt like it was under extreme pressure.
The earth is crying out… in pain.