A Letter to Overseer Eirvainess

“Overseer Eirvainess,

I trust that this letter will make its way to you swiftly. I have despatched it to Cymre Brightblade, as she is the last known contact we knew you would be meeting. I hope that your journey to her has been danger-free and that you are all well – Ms Brightblade has kept us in Talador thus far informed of the fact that you survive.

Archon Kal’es has done rigorous testing since the opening of a permanent portal in the eastern island of Ashran, and the Research Dept is now confident in the communicators’ ability to work in Draenor. We have relocated to Talador and have brought adequate supplies, though it is recommended that the Convocation move to Ashran to resupply when there is time.

Archon Shari’fal, in conjunction with Lady Liadrin, also requests the Convocation’s presence at the earliest convenience following the conclusion of your affairs within Gorgrond, as reports indicate that two attacks on Talador are imminent. Continued access for both ourselves and our allies to Talador is imperative, as it is a resource-rich forest that provides trading routes to the rest of the continent, and it is the major centre of draenei civilisation.

In the north, on the coast by Shattrath City, Blackrock orcs have encroached on the forest, and you should be wary during travel. A reported fleet of Iron Horde battleships are under construction in Gorgrond, and the last rangari report indicates that this fleet will leave to attack Shattrath directly in weeks, if not days. Shattrath City is almost twice the size of the one we are accustomed to in Outland, and it has no adequate defences prepared for an attack of this scale. Lady Liadrin has also requested aid from the Frostwolves.

In the south, demonic presence is building in the hills near Nagrand, and Auchindoun’s shielding crystals have disappeared. The rangari suspect that there are Legion agents hiding within the city, and draenei society is currently in turmoil following the death of Velen, and of his ruling council only three of five members remain. Archon Shari’fal has gained the trust of several high-ranking members of the Auchenai priesthood, and has informed us that the draenei response is not ready for an attack it fears at the hands of the Shadow Council: currently, the only defences Auchindoun possesses are the ata’mal cloaking crystals, and we have yet to confirm if they have been compromised. It is critical that the Shadow Council is not allowed to wrest control of Auchindoun in this timeline, as it contains millions of draenei souls which would give the Shadow Council warlocks enough power to trigger a full-scale Legion invasion.

In both cases, the Convocation’s usefulness as a reconnaissance and forward infantry division would prove invaluable to help build the defences of both cities, and provided we succeed, our aid would ensure continued positive relations between the Horde and the Draenei.

Hoping that all is well, Arcanist Dawndancer.”

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An Essay on Peace with Dalaran

In light of the Purge of Dalaran, what should Quel’thalas’ course be in regards to relations with the Kirin Tor?

“Given the de-escalation in Alliance-Horde relations since Garrosh Hellscream’s defeat, I think it is a natural course of relations that Quel’thalas must similarly lessen its personal hostilities with the City-state of Dalaran.

While I recognise that deep personal embitterment has occurred due to the brutal removal of Horde members from Dalaran and the deaths and imprisonment of Sunreaver members, as well as the alleged involvement of Sunreaver members in the Divine Bell Incident, the state of burgeoning peace between Alliance and Horde under the efforts of Warchief Vol’jin will be put at risk if significant military action occurs between Dalaran and Silvermoon.

Given Silvermoon’s recent re-establishment and the persistence of internal issues such as the Wretched, the barren status of the Dead Scar and Ghostlands and the management of the Sunwell, there is no way to say definitively that Quel’thalas would be victorious in a full-scale battle with Dalaran, particularly given the city’s mobility and the possession of centuries’ worth of Blue Dragon artefacts that it may now possess given Archmage Proudmoore’s ties with the Blue Aspect Kalecgos.

While I agree that our people have been mistreated and humiliated on repeated occasions by the Magus-Senate, and in particular by specific members of the Council of Six, any further retaliation on behalf of the Blood Elves poses a significant risk to the future of our nation, as well as relations with the Alliance and Horde. Additionally, it would be likely to create a vicious cycle which would ultimately not rectify any of our grievances with Dalaran, as we cannot count on the Horde or Alliance to fight a proxy war on our behalf due to the intentions of Warchief Vol’jin and King Wrynn to restore a state of ceasefire. In fact, such destabilising efforts would likely lead to estrangement from the Horde, creating a worse internal situation due to a decline in trade.

Instead, I propose that long-term negotiations between the leadership of both nations must be key to restoring peace. While it is clear that Archmage Proudmoore is a far more reactionary leader than her predecessors Rhonin and Antonidas, her interests in peace were notable prior to the appointment of Garrosh Hellscream, including two Horde-Alliance peace summits which significantly reduced hostilities prior to the outbreak of the Northrend War. Given such efforts, I am hopeful that with external pressure from Alliance and Horde leadership, we can accomplish initial negotiations.

In terms of issues to be addressed, there must be compensation, both for the violation of Dalaranese neutrality by alleged Sunreaver agents – to do so, the agents responsible must be located and trialled – and the violation of the rights of Sunreaver and non-aligned blood elf citizens who suffered during their expulsion from Dalaran, as well as their immediate release provided they are guilty of no crimes. In addition, the Kirin Tor must recognise the innocence of the majority of Horde forces within Dalaran of the events concerning the destruction of Theramore and the Divine Bell incident.

While I realise that there are considerable feelings on both sides of this conflict, I am confident that both sides can eventually find common ground, given the knowledge that destruction has not brought resolution to our past ails and thus cannot be expected to solve our current ones. With luck, we may find peace within a few years, and if there is a longer-lasting peace, perhaps we can begin to heal older divisions between the mages of Dalaran and those of Quel’thalas.”

Changing Perspectives

Change is death and death is change. Death of the old, and death of the new, and change is order and death is order and death is perpetuity.

I surface from the pool, gulping in the air.

So many dead, and I’m still here, and I almost forgot what to fight for, and so. Many. Dead.

Auchindoun is quiet in the cool morning air. The spirits are here, somewhere. I could go and apologise. Would they ever forgive me? Would I ever find them? So many dead.

The spirits would stand and watch; eternal, yet ephemeral. The Legion knows not their stories. The demons revel in their pain, rewatching their deaths over and over like in some shitty goblin play.

Above, the call of a bird breaks open. It swoops down, a Kaliri, long gold feathers and long brown tail, picks up a mouse, disappears.

Still it all goes on. Still I am alive. Still we fight.

Home has never felt more far away.

I failed. I failed the draenei and yet tens of thousands more live now than ever will on Azeroth and Outland. We won and we lost and I don’t know how to feel.

The trees stretch out overhead, the bright colours of eternal autumn. They are like those of Eversong, yet more. Every twisting olemba here is natural, a wonder; every tree in Eversong a magical creation, a throwback to a land lost ten-thousand years prior.

Do I miss home? Do I miss the safety? The people? Am I doing a good job here?

The legends say that Velen sees every world in the cosmos the Legion touches – that he considers it his mission to ensure every ruined planet is remembered.

And still we fight. Taleberaite kills a century of demons, Khairan another; there are more now than there were before.

I can see the faces of the draenei spirits in the water; briefly, they shimmer, and are gone, passing through to the inner ring. The spirits are constantly nearby, but never present.

And still we fight. Some fall, and some keep going. And the Pandaren said to remain balanced and taught me their lessons and still they died. Had the Horde been formed, they likely would have died anyway. Should we shed tears for lives that were lost long ago?

If Auchindoun falls, they say the Legion will win, though Auchindoun fell once and the Legion eventually lost, at the cost of a planet.

The forest shifts, quietly.

When we kill more than the orcs kill, who is to blame? Did we do the best we could? Will we be allowed a second chance?

Wasn’t this already our second chance?

I am on the shore, now; my legs cross and I look at the sky. The moons of Draenor show no change; the world may be destroyed but the sky is eternal.

The monks said to be a leaf in the wind; the leaf is blown far and wide, left and right; it is turned and thrown upside down; it may land in a place far different from where its home once was.

Cell

The wound went deep. To my pride, I suppose. Elves have a thing with pride. Even when you think you’ve gotten rid of it, it persists. I try my hardest. I’m certainly no Anrithen. But can I take pride in that?

The light coming in the cell isn’t natural. It’s too consistent to be sunlight, although I have no idea what direction my cell points in. A way of keeping you awake, perhaps. I’m coping well enough. The lack of mana’s starting to bite – indeed, it had been starting to bite when we reached Wor’var. Now it was more like having a foot gnawed off.

I stay in meditation most hours, trying to regulate my flow. The cell’s too suppressive to take anything from the lighting, or indeed to try chip away at the incantations keeping the cell suppressive. It’s like a miniaturised 7/7 party.

The blasted ring’s gone as well. If I’d had the forethought I would have hidden it somewhere decent – swallowed it, perhaps. Dragon technology will at least stump Highmaul for long enough to keep me alive.

The question is what happens when and if they figure out the ring. I’m no use as a gladiator, at any rate. I could end up in Maltinius’ posse – he’s certainly never had any elves before – but he seems to prefer the draenei.

I’m contemplating weaning myself off the magic at this rate. Goodness knows I’ve no idea when a rescue will come about, since Aleck stormed off. Khairan is… somewhere. That’s about it for potential rescuers.

Everyone is quiet. I don’t know if they’ve lost hope. I came to terms with death a fair while ago. I wouldn’t like to end up dead here, but I’m not going to be idealistic about it. Occasionally there’s screaming. I just try to meditate through it. The more mana I have… Well, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it.

Bloodied Heart: Epilogue

It’s over. We’re free.

Everything, in the end, came together. Everyone did become one.

We found Sorlain on the beach, the last of his power ebbing away alongside his fake arm, and quickly threw him in a cage.

Despite all our losses, a camaraderie blossomed between the differing forces as we brought together the survivors to be tried or freed from their condition. Sorlain would go on trial, as would Rith’len (who played the victim). Vyrael too, whereas Enala would be given a plea bargain.

With Denri Fiae likewise imprisoned for his last-moment change in allegiance, we set back off for Durotar, where Khairan’s trial would be held on neutral ground. The prosecution were to be the Silver Covenant, while Edanna and the slightly-recovered Thelnarion provided our defense.

The trial began rather predictably, yet grew more interesting – first by the arrival of Relcha Kim’belore from her self-imposed exile, then the return of Arlandria, which brought rather a lot of emotion to Khairan’s face.

The third arrival was that of Sorlain Amaran, called by the prosecution to explain exactly what had happened after it was established that the other Quel’dorei-summoned witnesses were hopeless. His wry contributions served to only incense both sides.

Following the prosecution, Edanna first called Coren Ledaal to explain the meteorite which formed the bulk of Khairan’s problems – having been responsible for the deaths he was on trial for. After that kerfuffle, we were further interrupted by the dramatic arrival of one Lady Belore’Shalarath, none other than Khairan’s mother, who promptly tore the Kirin Tor’s statements to pieces before settling down.

In the final coup of her closing statement, Edanna revealed the substantial changes to the Dalaran Penal Code, which would have facilitated a trial comprised of one-third Kirin Tor, one-third Silver Covenant and one-third Sunreaver jury along with a Kirin Tor judge, essentially damning Khairan had it not been for the intervention of the friends we had made among the Alliance in recent months. The judge offered Khairan his own punishment: shackles which would restrict his magic, along with a control device which Edanna would control.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the accused is not the same man who committed the crimes the prosecution accuses him off. The gross misconduct at play does not speak for their desire to do justice but for petty vengeance. And I urge you, if you were to learn one thing from the accused, is that you can pick yourselves back up. You can be the people who helped us slay the Lich King and accepted the Sunreavers regardless of their race or you can continue down the path you’ve taken right now and end up like your second witness. But I am not here to judge you, I am here to judge Khairan Sunshard and the most fitting sentence of all would be to allow him to carry on. To seek repentance on his own terms. Still, measures need to be taken. We… We initially created these bindings with the intent to hold powerful demons more likelu to assume humanoid shape. While they may not be quite appropriate they’ll at once be a reminder of your actions, an incentive to move forward and a method of preventing anything like what happened at Dalaran from recurring.”

With Khairan’s trial concluded, we moved on to that of Chernow Jarath, whom we’d apprehended months ago. Rather surprisingly, I was invited to speak, as was Maerithryn Shari’fal, Thelnarion’s grandfather.

A surprise. But I can give it my best shot and let him know that I will have my eye on him, even if he walks free.

“The forces of Chernow Jarath’s house have been pursuing genocide against the Amani for centuries. The cloak on show is a prized trophy, but by Chernow’s own admission, one of many. It is comprised of a handful of the most attractive troll corpses. It alone indicates the campaign that would have been similarly pursued against the Darkspear with as much hatred had Jarath been allowed to succeed at Razor Hill.

This elf’s daughter was taught to create these trophies for the sole purpose of mocking the dead, aggravating the spirits and the loa they served. That much is obvious from when we served under him, seeing how his forces showed no hint of mercy in decimating and burning whole villages, making a sport of killing the old, young and infirm as they tried to run or surrender. This goes beyond petty hatreds between troll and elf. This is a pure evil that shows how Jarath would not hesitate to slit each troll throat here if he could, and how he is a threat to all trolls.

In their captivity, neither he nor his forces showed the slightest hint of regret, remorse or doubt that they were on the right side. I contest that the elf should be found guilty of all his crimes against the Horde not just for the fact that he committed them, but because his power and influence over many elves makes him a considerable threat to the honourable peace between our peoples that we have worked to restore. He must be made to learn the extent and impact of his crimes on the world, and to regret and repent the shame he has cast upon troll and elf peoples.”

Despite our efforts, Chernow walked free. I was filled with fleeting rage, and as soon as it was there, it as gone.

Tomorrow is another day. Chernow is weak, and we are untouchable. He will not soon risk our ire, and he will find less support in future for his campaigns.

Our business in Durotar complete, there was nothing to stop us from returning home, for the Convocation of Elrendar had technically ceased to exist.

~~~

The sun grows bright overhead. The shore of Eversong has been visible for several hours, but now it is truly visible.

Each tree twists and stretches in the mid-morning sun, the vibrant leaves shimmering with colour. The air is sweet, like dew mixed with sugar, and a cool wind blows across the boat, the sails gently swaying.

Whatever comes tomorrow, I know that we all have today – and we have all learnt to be grateful for it.

Uprising: Finale

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.

For Azeroth!”

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.

Uprising: Tournament

From the ashes of destruction, the Phoenix rises, twice as hot and twice as colourful as the aged bird it leaves behind.

“Got the message from Zul’drak a couple of hours back. Good of you to warn us.”

We were meeting with the High Crusader in charge of the Tournament Grounds, a man known as Adelard. We had managed to enter the depopulated grounds without encountering opposition, and quickly learnt that a small cadre of Crimson Hand ‘envoy’s’ were stationed in the former Ebon Blade tents.

“Speaking of the Blade, do they still control the Shadow Vault? If we could contact them-”

“I’m afraid not. The Blade disbanded after the Lich King’s defeat. The ones that remain are wandering the earth.” Adelard sighed.

“The Hand have communicators and bloodgems.” Khairan intoned over the communicators.

As the others discussed tactics with the Crusaders, I checked the exterior edge of the camp. Given how Sorlain’s military commander, Rith’len, had become involved with the Argents already, it was likely that Sorlain would attack soon once they allied with us. There were possible fronts from the west, where an old necromancer camp was located; the south, which opened up into the entirety of Icecrown; and the north, given that we knew that the Hand had boats. The east was less likely, given the mountains in the way, but as the Peaks were where the Hand were supposed to be, it couldn’t be ruled out.

Things were looking great. Still, the odds would likely swing our way if Sorlain attacked. Argent aid, in addition to the bipartisan army we had forged in western Northrend, would definitely outnumber the Hand.

~~~

“Ah, Kal’es. I’d advise you that it’s in your best interests to surrender or I shall be forced to attack.”

A hologram of Sorlain, Sha-tentacles and all, greeted our entry into the command tent in the morning. Sathreyn sat down on the floor, tinkering with a device identical to the projector Sorlain was using. An amusingly accurate doppelgänger sprang up.

“Cut the crap, Sorlain. If you cared for these people, you wouldn’t attack. And he’s threatened your forces now, so I take it that that means you’re on our side.” Edanna nodded towards the High Crusader, who looked relieved to not have to suffer through Sorlain’s ramblings alone.

“Regretfully… I must declare war… on the Argent Tournament.” The doppelgänger helpfully croaked. Sorlain glared at it, one of the tentacles on his crown vanishing.

“Enough. If you’re not going to see sense-

“You’re looking a bit ill, Sorlain. I guess you know that we found the primed mana bombs and the trainees you had primed to explode. Thanks.” She nodded at Sathreyn. I had no idea what was going on, but it seemed to put Sorlain off further. He took a breath to say something, but was interrupted once more by Adelard’s hammer tearing the emitter to pieces with a satisfying crunch.

“Couldn’t sit through any more of that.” Adelard grinned at Edanna. “I guess this is it then.”

“So, who’s ready for last-minute training?” I perked up, leading the charge outside. “I have ice traps readied along the western ridge, I believe you have scouts along the north, although I have yet to cover the south.”

The Crusade leadership, ourselves and some random android sent from Elient, who regretfully could not attend (my posterior she couldn’t attend, we were all aware that she’d already buggered off to try and kill Sorlain on her own with her saronite magic) spread out, just as word came in that Scourge were approaching from the south.

A legion of zombies as well as several repurposed Scourge siege engines greeted us, and I quickly scaled the tower and joined in the cannon-led bombardment. From the ground, the Argent troops held the line, slicing through oddly-weak scourge. Between us, I and Edanna covered them with snow, hindering them further. The meat wagons struck the tower once, and I fell back while one of the cannons collapsed.

“There are reinforcements approaching!” The sound of combat from the northwest drifted over as a second legion, bearing three more meat wagons and two cho’thaki cages, came to aid them. Levitating one of the meat wagons, I tossed it at them, scattering them and mowing down several more zombies. The meat wagons fired again as battle began anew, collapsing the roof of the tower. I levitated half of it, tossing at a cho’thaki cage to halt the zombies from opening it. Lirial reinforced this with her druidic powers, wrapping constricting icethorns around one of the cages, causing a cho’thaki to screech in pain.

I lifted up the rest of the roof, as well as a broken cannon, as another shot hit the tower. I tossed them at a cho’thaki cage, and the cho’thaki were quickly silenced by the battering. Evacuating the tower, we headed into the rest of the camp, where forces were still attacking the north and west.

In the western flank, I busied myself with gargoyles that were dealing significant damage to the hippogryph riders, as sha and undead attacked the Argent line. Sathreyn took point, creating a shield to protect the recruits from the Sha, while Edanna began a reinvigorating song.

The gargoyles moved at once. Their flight, their casting, right down to the blinking of their eyes. All the action happened at once and then it was like they froze, flickering in and out like a torch. Sorlain’s puppet-masters were doing poorly, and the same thing was happening with the undead on the ground. I began to conjure several scores of weak lights, coloured orange to resemble fireballs, and launched them at the gargoyles, using telekinesis to speed them up and make it appear like each gargoyle was being attacked on all sides. Sure enough, it worked, and they frazzled, the movement too much for their controller to cope with. Several crashed into each other and the reinforced Hippogryph riders, along with the android, took them all down-

bududududududududududu

-as a shower of arrows cut through the wings of the hippogryphs, sending half of them down to the floor.

“We’re under attack! Rangers, from the east!” I called out over the communicators, as the android charged off in the direction of the arrows, closely followed by Sathreyn’s troops. The undead had all been taken down, and the Crusaders maintained the line against the Sha, who were falling back with no negative emotion to cling onto. Edanna moved towards the cliffs to reinforce the Argent ships.

Bududu Bududuu Whuzzz

The mysterious noise got louder. The clouds above our heads were moving faster than normal.

No. He couldn’t.

Another shower of arrows came towards us from the south, and I called upon the arcane, creating a force barrier which reflected the arrows with ease.

“Something’s coming.”

Edanna rounded back in from the north as I attempted to detect where the rangers would teleport to next. Counter-spelling their teleport just in time, I pulled back their cloaking to reveal a cadre of Crimson Hand rangers. Caught by surprise, they attempted to flee, and Edanna quickly polymorphed them into turtles. Lightning flashed across the sky, and Sathreyn dashed into the valley to try and collect the turtles (who had all begun rolling towards their deaths).

WHUZZZZ WHUZZZZ WHUZZZZ

The clouds dispersed entirely, revealing in the twilight sky the shadow of an immense aircraft, bigger than any zeppelin we’d ever seen. Two immense engines at the back followed an immense tubular hull, but everything else was obscured. The air seemed to still.

“GET DOW-

A massive boom ruptured the sky and our eardrums, as I saw out of the corner of my eye the central pavilion shrink into the ground under the weight of the impact before everything became smoke.

WHUZZZZ WHUZZZ WHUZZZ

A number of smaller cannon balls punctured the smoke, careering wildly and hitting anything in their path.

Noise broke through again after a few seconds, and I threw my hand back towards the icy canyon, calling upon the wind as I drank a mana potion. The wind broke through, pushing the hot smoke into the sky and blotting out the zeppelin. The android leapt after, propelled by Edanna’s own magic. I dashed through the grounds, extinguishing fires and extracting survivors from debris.

The central pavilion of the Tournament had been mostly flattened, only a few walls remaining standing. Every tent had been knocked over by the force of the cannon and was either ablaze or smouldering. Most of the paladins had been knocked over or unconscious, but only those close to the buildings had been wounded.

~~~~

The zeppelin moved away slowly afterwards, and the android impacted upon the ground forcefully, murmuring ‘mission accomplished’ as its life drained away.

Being built mostly of wood, the grounds looked reparable, and the tents were easily repaired and re-erected before the smoke had even passed. Around twenty or so paladins had not made it, taken by surprise and the force of the cannon blasts.

It was clear that Sorlain had more in his arsenal than he had anticipated. But it did not matter anymore. We had come through the storm intact. Later that night, as the airship disappeared from view around the Storm Peaks, I launched fireworks from the old necromancer camp, filling the sky with bright colour and a silent defiance towards Sorlain. Morale remained high. Edanna estimated that it would take at least a day to re-load the cannon, and that with the smoke cloud, Sorlain likely believed the Tournament wiped off the face of the map.

We have survived everything you have cared to throw at us, and we are more loyal, dedicated and competent than any among your army, Sorlain. We are Silvermoon. We are the phoenix that rises from the ashes of destruction, twice as hot and twice as colourful as the aged bird it leaves in the past.

You believe us defeated, but we bring a force of reckoning to make you answer for your crimes, as Vyrael and Garl have. You will be the one taken by surprise when we bring them to your doorstep. The Crusade, the Sunreavers, the Silver Covenant, the Alliance and the Horde, the forces that defeated the Lich King. They will not kowtow to you, they will not submit, they will never surrender.

Pride is your vice. Greed and vanity and lust and power. But we are untouchable. We work for a better world, a world of tomorrow. We do not seek to maintain our superiority, but to teach and to strengthen others and in doing so, to improve ourselves. We have learned humility, for we have lost everything and been forced to rebuild. And we shall never take for granted what we have retaken from you.