Lazarus

Hello.

I spun at the voice from behind me.

“Who’s there?” I cried into the jungle darkness.

I am here. You hold me in your satchel.

“Who- what-“ I scrambled through my satchel. Wands, mana gems, rations, bandages, Lakka’s ashes. Lakka’s ashes.

“You – it can’t be-“ I stared at the ashes, feeling sweat trickle along my neck in the jungle heat. I reached down gently, grasped the case, pulled it out of the bag. It thrummed with energy.

Oh, it can. The magic of Rukhmar transcends death, child. Especially when there is… Unfinished business.

The case thrummed harder, hotter. I set it down on the floor.

“I- I don’t understand…”

In time.

The case shone and light beamed out, bouncing off the trees, their tainted leaves being burnt away. The light cast shadows over me, until I could see the figure form within it – thin, tall, proud. As the light faded away, she was left there – Lakka.

I scrambled back, falling onto my hands and feet.

“You’re supposed to be dead! I saw you die!” I hissed.

And I am. I can no more effect this plane now than the High Sage could.

“Then why? Why are you here?”

That is for us to find out. You were at the council with the emissaries. The arakkoa have a new god. Asghar dares not speak its name. The Conclave have plans, child. Plans for the Legion, and this world. Plans neither you or I factor into.

“Plans? But we all have plans.”

Make no mistake. You are involved now, more involved than you know. The future of this world is far from decided. The future of my people even less so. I could not see how blind Sethe made me – how blind he has made my people, how blind the gods of Arak have made all arakkoa.

The future is coming. It is fast and bright and beautiful. It is dark and clutching and terrifying. It is everything and nothing. It must be shaped. And as I am beyond help, it must be you to do so.

The arakkoa sat down in front of me. Unlike before, the fel taint was gone from her wings, the maddened red eyes now clear and bronze, any sign of the curse absent.

Let me tell you of my people.

Light’s Blessing

Look at the sky above you, child. The stars are bright and eternal, but between them lies darkness. The stars burst, one by one, brilliant sclera of light and matter. Then they reverse, fall into each other, great hungering holes of darkness.

Each of these stars can, will, turn to darkness eventually.

This is the nature of the universe. The light fades into the dark.

“But can’t the dark fade back?” I intoned.

Well, that depends on your perspective. Which is the natural state? Light, or darkness? The arakkoa swept her wing up and drew it across the sky. There is no natural state in a cycle. There is only change. The balance lies in these. Will every star collapse and begin consuming all around it until only void remains? Yes. Will every void be overpowered by matter and eject it all in a bright burst? Yes.

Our magic – arakkoan magic, Rukhmari magic, Apexis magic, whatever you call it – it all comes from this cycle. The Adherents push forth the Light from the stars and sun; the Outcasts push the darkness forth from shadow and void.

“So – for every magical action, there is a reaction?”

Lakka smiled. Now you are beginning to understand. Arakkoan history is a cycle. Each arakkoa feeds off others – they become so bright they must collapse, or so dark that they must burst. Only together do we balance.

“But this magic goes beyond suns and moons. They are drawing on the deepest magic of darkness.” I leant over the tower, the moon shimmering over the surface of the Pure Intent, the steel barrier cold on my fingers.

That is true. The Elder Twilight is beyond any dark magic the Outcasts have yet used. So you can see how it will go. They will create the largest darkness, and in turn you must bring forth the largest light.

“But how? Rukhmar is dead – or at least, no longer on this plane. What other light is there?”

The Sun Goddess has left this world, yes, child. But her feathers and her children remain. The sun still rises and sets. It will not be easy. But this world thrums with Rukhmar’s warmth. It is protected in the right ways. You can find those ways – your friend already found her Lash, though my own mistakes tainted it. The blessings are there – you just have to unlock them.

Lakka swept me up and suddenly we were no longer on the ship, but soaring above the ocean, the arakkoa’s red and orange plumage fluttering, illuminated by the moonlight. I laughed with glee as she drew close to the ocean’s surface, fish bubbling away, before pulling up, racing beyond where the ship had been.

Soon, we were passing over the rich forests of Talador, red and orange as Lakka herself, deep green glades separated by acres of forest. The sun was rising now, and as we passed over Auchindoun, I could see what she meant.

The Light isn’t just an Arakkoan invention, child. Nor was it just draenic. But you will not find any blessings of Rukhmar in the Apexis now that the Legion have scoured this world for them. But there is one race that has defied the Darkness for as long as your people have existed.

As the sun rose, columns grew to full height surrounding Auchindoun. They drew the sunlight into themselves, the crystals activated, and soon a glorious hum burst out over the forest. From each crystal came the song-prayer of the Draenei; from each column a beam of Light to match the sun. All drew inwards, towards the largest crystal atop the great dome of the city, until the prayer was all I could hear, pushed out further and brighter by every singing crystal, the prayer powering the very shield keeping the city safe.

Now, child.

Now, you see.