Shattered Heart: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Unity

Sabellian

“Other dragons.” Sabellian murmured. They were here, beyond the Dark Portal. No dragons had ever crossed it before, not since Deathwing. Emotion flooded his senses and he could feel the beat of the earth beneath him. “Real dragons. They’re real. They’re real!”

Instinctively, he roared in greeting, the powerful boom of his deep voice amplified by the magic of the Nether. Cimmeria joined in, her own roar an octave higher, then another, and another and another until all the assembled dragons joined in, a chorus of yells of excitement and disbelief. Sabellian watched as the dragons from beyond leapt, one after the other, into the darkness of space, the magic of the Nether bringing them closer and closer.

“I can’t believe it. Azerothian dragons. Here.” Cimmeria laughed again, tears flitting down her blue skin. “This is all so much to take in.”

Sabellian thought back over the tumultuous day, from the uninspiring dawn to the tremendous change of the last hour. The earth continued to beat beneath him, the spirits more apparent than ever. “Something has changed within us. I can feel it. Maybe they feel it too.”

Cimmeria nodded, then paused. “Keep your guard up, still. They might be with the Twilight.”

“If they are, then they’ve gone through what we have too. Look.” Sabellian pointed through the portal, where the other dragons drifted through on half-mortal forms. “This… hybrid form isn’t natural. They must have felt the pain too. Heard the earth.”

“Then.. Maybe they’re on our side for once.”

~~~

Obessia

The vastness of space beckoned them all, and before she knew it the earth had pushed her out. Go. Seek your brethren. Your friends. This is why you came here.

This is why we came here. “Other dragons! Real black dragons! Quickly!”

“Obessia, wait!” Serinar’s voice clung to her through the Great Dark. “What if they’re hostile?”

“What if they’re friendly? We have no choice now, Serinar! There is no going back! They’re what we came here hoping to find. New brothers and sisters. New friends.” Obessia pushed forth, her wings guiding her through towards the other end of the portal. She had no idea why it was there in the first place. But she knew it was right.

She wasn’t the only one. Either side of her came the wingbeats of many, her flock joining her, the hope in their eyes beaming like it shone out of hers. Hope for peace. Recovery. Redemption. Here. This was where they belonged. She knew it in her heart.

The stars glittered around her, planets beyond measure, untouched by the Legion, by the Old Ones. The hope of the universe. The hope for a new dawn and a new day. Maybe they could no longer live in Azeroth, but in Outland… hope remained.

The portal beckoned, ever closer.

~~~

Cimmeria

All eyes were transfixed upon the portal. Adrenaline rushed through Cimmeria. She had scarcely believed this would, could ever happen. In the time after the world had been destroyed, the clutches of the Black Flight had been lost to the Beyond. The majority of the drakes had been hunted down by the gronn, and the eggs that remained were… different. They pulsated with energy and glowed bright blue. The new hatchlings were independent of thought, bound by no rules. They were the Netherwing, and like Cimmeria, the children of Deathwing…

But they were different to us.

These dragons… they were hope. Hope that Cimmeria wouldn’t see her brothers and sisters hunted down to extinction. Hope that the Black dragons would become stronger than ever. Her own words of caution floated away as she saw each dragon, pushing harder and harder to reach the end of the portal, their eyes beaming, power streaming from the leader, a small drake with the human form of a pallid human girl. Even separated by the Great Dark Beyond, Cimmeria felt the potential. The earth seemed to beat stronger and stronger as they approached.

They are the answer. They are like us. Outcasts, exiles. But together we can become all we need.

~~~

Serinar

Serinar left last, his caution overwhelmed by the happiness that he felt upon seeing other dragons. The rumours had all been true. Black dragons survived in Outland even as they fell in Azeroth.

Azeroth. The word was tainted in his head now. All it had ever been was death and destruction and fire. But everything had changed now. Outland was a home he had never known, but here was a whole family of dragons waiting, cheering as they approached. Outland was his home.

It’s all our homes. It is everything Azeroth never was, that our flight never had.

“Last one there’s a green dragon!” Serinar yelled, his wings pushing him past the rest of the flock. Obessia laughed and gave chase, snapping at his heels.

Bolstered by his support of the endeavour, the flock tightened, each dragon striving to reach the end of the portal. They raced together, becoming one.

One family. One flock. One hope.

Shattered Heart: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Rage

Cimmeria

Her whole body was flooded with pain on a level she had scarcely thought to be real. It stabbed at every joint, feeling like a thousand claws prying off her scales. A sickly screech followed the pain, and in the blistering heat Cimmeria realised it was her own mangled cry as she was shunted midway between her mortal and draconic forms. Scales erupted across her smooth skin and mortal-sized wings burst from her sides. She felt fangs push into a mortal mouth, making her neither dragon nor draenei.

What is happening?

Through blurred vision she saw the twilight cultists scattering, some cackling, dancing around the ogres.

They did this to me. They’re making this happen.

Cimmeria became aware of the earth’s surface cracking under her feet, her consciousness expanding with each crack. She could feel the tremors of a far-off earthquake beginning.

I have to stop them.

Blinded by pain, she leapt, snarling, at the sound of the laughter.

~~~

Serinar

A low rumble signified a sudden earthquake, and Serinar’s surroundings were filled with yelps and screeching as the flock was struck down by some terror.

“What’s going on?” He yelled, frantic, glancing around for the source. A second rumble hit, closer this time, and pain flooded his skull, forcing tears out of his green eyes. He stumbled and collapsed upon the floor as the pain shoved him roughly into a mangled half-dragon form, torn wings fluttering helplessly.

You are ours now. No one runs from the Hammer.

From out of the earth rose a twisted creature, elemental material bound to humanoid form, slightly reptilian in stature. He’d seen them before. The Ascended, the upper echelons of the Hammer’s shaman, bound with an elemental in a terrifyingly powerful combination. Serinar clutched at the ground but the earth continued to reverberate, screaming pain at him louder than anything he had ever encountered. He could feel the earth pulsating, energy flowing like blood out of the cracks the Ascendant had caused.

Eventually, it became too much, and he gave in, head laid upon the ground, waiting for oblivion.

“No. You’re hurting the spirits. You must stop.”

Serinar saw the young drake push herself from the floor. Like the rest, she was caught in a half-dragon form, her violet eyes burning against her onyx scales and porcelain human skin. Somehow, she remained standing, pushing back against the power of the Ascendant. Serinar could feel energy racing out of the earth to meet her in a way he had only ever seen shamans master. It was as though they were acting in harmony.

The Ascendant let out a croaky snarl. Strong one. I shall enjoy breaking you.

~~~

Sabellian

Time seemed to slow as the flock fell to their knees, pulled into mismatched shapes of humanoids and draconids. Power rained upon his skull, making him suffer similarly. His claws shrank back into soft human hands, his heavy wings pulling his mortal form down.

What is happening? Why is the earth screaming?

You belong to us now, son of Deathwing.

In the middle of the ridge, Sabellian could see them. Twilight cultists, flanked by enslaved elementals. He had no idea how they had accessed the ridge. On hands and knees, he growled a warning, but the other dragons laid immobile, paralysed by pain.

“No.. We are free..” Sabellian drew upon every ounce of will he could, the same will he had once used to combat the voices, and pushed upwards, shakily coming to his feet. Unused to the half-mortal form, he swayed slightly, unbalanced.

They told us you would be strong of will. Those born of the Destroyer’s blood are the strongest. You shall serve us well.

“I serve.. no one.. but my flock.” Sabellian focused his gaze on the closest shaman, a tall elven figure. The shaman met his gaze head on, and more pain flooded his senses. The earth expanded around him. He could feel every inch, every speck of dust, every crack in the dry ground, and it screamed at him.

Sabellian took a step forward as his lucid blue eyes began to glow bright orange with fire, the scales on his face flickering.

“You will… stop. I will protect them.” Glaring at the shaman, Sabellian launched off the ground, propelling himself with his rough wings towards the shaman, claws outstretched.

~~~

Obessia

The earth raced up to meet her, intertwining with her fingers. I’ll protect you. I’ll stop them. They’re hurting both of us.

Obessia lifted up off the floor with a few wingbeats, swinging the earth at the Ascendant like a whip. It bounced off, shattering into pieces.

You’ll have to try harder, little drake. Elementium spikes ripped through the ground and the screams intensified. Obessia weaved, the wings barely working with her mortal form.

“Then I will.”

Obessia mirrored the spikes, curving a trap around the Ascendant’s leg. It snapped the earth off and fired it at her. She blocked with a shield of earth.

Voices flooded her consciousness as she became one with the earth. Save us. Free us. Protect us. You were guardians once. Be a guardian.

Obessia hovered in mid-air, letting the voices wash over her. She weaved through the sky, dodging the elementium attacks of the Ascendant. She dropped onto the Ascendant and the earth rippled following her attack. The Ascendant hissed as she leapt back, the earth moving and obeying her thoughts. The Ascendant fired a beam of dark energy at her and she deflected it. At her request, the earth beneath the Ascendant became like quicksand, dragging it in.

I am their guardian. They are mine. You will not harm the earth any longer.

Obessia landed on the ground, approaching the trapped Ascendant, and snapped its head off with a claw.

~~~

Cimmeria

It took four decapitated cultists before Cimmeria regained her sight. By then the cultists had reformed in a defensive position, protecting the ogres.

Her senses continued to expand. The rage of the earth flooded her mind. They hurt us. Destroy them. Free us.

She snarled, leaping from a rock and impaling two cultists on her claws, tossing them to their deaths on the bladed canyon edge. Her red eyes burned with fury.

“How dare you.” Cimmeria leapt once more, slamming down upon the ground. Spikes of earth came up, erupting through the bodies of three more cultists. Cimmeria took a step back in shock, staring at her claws, scales mixing with dark blue skin.

“Did I-” Cimmeria’s ponderance was interrupted by a stream of pain, as more of the earth cracked around her.

Never mind. I have to stop them. The cultists scattered, fleeing the spikes, and Cimmeria saw her opening. The ogres were focused on the grimoire between them, casting more spells to harm the earth. She braced for launch, leaning back on one leg, and springing up into the air.

She knocked one ogre clean over with a kick to the head, incinerating the other with her fire breath as she flew over. Landing on bent knee before them, she turned.

Both ogres smiled at her like possessed corpses as they toppled over, completely intact yet totally dead. Cimmeria turned to the book. Dark, sickly runes swirled over the tome, amplifying the pain she felt yet she crawled closer. As she was about to end the book, however, it blinked out of existence.

The pain disappeared. Cimmeria struggled to her feet, her sight sharpening. The cultists were nowhere to be seen.

I have to let Sabellian know.

Sabellian. She cursed. It could have been an hour. She raced up the canyon wall, springing from spire to spire, her form refusing to return to normal.

~~~

Sabellian

The dead cultist fell to the floor behind him as Sabellian turned, strong, to face the remainder. Elementium sprung out of nowhere, and though he had never seen it before he could feel its taint, taste the corruption it spread through the earth. Gritting his teeth, he clamped on to the metal with one claw, willing it to return to the underbelly of the shattered earth.

It complied, slithering back as the earth swallowed it. The cultists advanced.

You’ll regret that. The shaman muttered to themselves and the earth cracked more, the pain intensifying. Save us, son of Neltharion. Protect your domain. Your duty. Sabellian felt his knuckles crack as the pain continued to shove him into a half-mortal, half-dragon form. His wings beat stronger, lifting him up into the air with ease.

“You underestimate us. We are black dragons. We are free from you and your masters, and we will always be free. This is our home. We know the earth better than you ever will.”

The words sprang out of nowhere, but Sabellian knew them to be true. The earth rippled below his feet, working with him against the Hammer. He pulled the earth around him into a shield, barrelling into a second cultist.

You have made a grave mistake-

“No, you have! You and your masters will burn in the Nether!” Cimmeria leapt over the edge of the ridge, blocking out the sun as she flew overhead. Sabellian felt pride well up as he saw her glow with power, slamming into another cultist and kicking over a fourth.

“I was wondering when you’d turn up.” Sabellian smirked at her. Cimmeria bowed mockingly. “It’s good to see you, too.”

Between them, they quickly dispatched the cultists. Cimmeria began tending to the other members of the flock as the pain receded, the earth repairing itself. Sabellian glanced out into the Beyond – and found himself staring into the eyes of a dragon.

~~~

Serinar

Struggling to his feet, Serinar felt relief as the earth’s pain washed away. Obessia glowed with power.

“I- I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Obessia remained in her half-dragon form, as did the rest. Something remained amiss, but she smiled. “I understand them. I can feel them in the earth. The spirits.”

Serinar was at a loss for words.

“It’s our old powers, isn’t it? I can control them.”

“Well, yes, but… Deathwing gave those up long ago.”

Obessia shrugged it off. “This isn’t the world Deathwing swore to protect. This is our world now.”

Serinar paused to dwell on her words. He, like the others, had felt the earth in a way he never had before in that fight. It was as though the Ascendant had unlocked something inside them – a hidden capability to understand the earth, long since hidden by older members of the flight. Even now he could feel the spirits of the earth as they moved, pulsating like heartbeats.

“Even so, we still have a lot to learn-” Serinar went quiet as he looked up, following Obessia’s gaze into the Beyond – right into the eyes of a dragon.

Shattered Heart: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Rapture

Cimmeria

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.

Sabellian

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.

Obessia

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.

Shattered Heart: Chapter 1

Prologue

As the Hammer sought to strike Azeroth into pieces, Azeroth fought back. With Cho’Gall dead, Deathwing’s forces on the back foot, and the balance of the Aspects shifting to adapt to a changing world, the only thing certain was more change.

The Black Flight had been pushed back – decimated in Hyjal, shot down in Uldum, forced out of Deepholm, obliterated in the Highlands, and with their end, the Hour of Twilight was falling, dragon by dragon by dragon. The last broodmother lay dead, all their eggs destroyed. There was no hope for their survival. Few realised that then, especially with Ragnaros still ascendant, reaping the benefit of thousands of defections to his cause.

Those that realised that the end was fast approaching fled.

First they flew by day, and then by night, as the forces working against them became stronger. The forces of the world were more resilient, forged by the fires of destruction into untouchable iron. The civilians who would have cowered in their houses were now heroes who struck back by arrow, sword, dagger and spell. Flight became dangerous quickly, and cloaking became a necessity. Their millennia-long knowledge of hiding spots faded as the shaman gained the trust of the elements, turning every cave and cavern against them through the world-altering powers of Nordrassil. Even their powers of magma and fire waned as the Gods they once served abandoned them for other pawns.

Dreams of offensives and vengeance slipped away. Defense became barely possible, as suddenly every flight was a desperate struggle for survival. They relied only on fleeing. The proud Black Dragonflight was shattered, the remnants forgetting who they were, the power they once held, as the odds became insurmountable. They ran. From their allies, their enemies, their wounds, their heritage, their power, their control, their being.

There was only one place where they could hide. The one place where they had hidden before, sheltered by Deathwing, once a powerful manipulator, now a husk of chaos and destruction, more a force than a being.

Outland. Rumours persisted of dragons hidden away there, removed from time and concerns with mortals. As they passed over the Morass, only one problem spot persisted. The most militarised area in the Eastern Kingdoms, and for good reason. The Dark Portal.

~~~

Chapter 1: Escape

Serinar

“The Dark Portal! It’s there!”

Hush, young one. Stick to our telepathy. The mortals here are vigilant and will be alerted if they hear you.

Serinar was slightly impatient, but he could understand the fleeting joy of the young drake. Obessia was the youngest of their dwindling number. Their motley brood had experienced nothing but death and retreat since its formation following Obsidia’s death, and Obessia knew no true parenthood, having been stolen away before the clutch was obliterated by the Reds.

He shared internally in her blissful hysteria, angling down to signal the rest of the dragons to descend. The growing figure of the Dark Portal, illuminated by dim felfire and the occasional lightning storm, was an indication the brood had longed for weeks to see. It represented the hope that their lives wouldn’t be spent running away like rats – or end in soon, unavoidable death.

They had departed the Obsidian Dragonshrine with more than ten thousand in their number, but were now down to merely thirty. One would find fewer dragons in a brood lair. The falling numbers had been disconcerting even when they believed in the Hour of Twilight. When reality came, and the Hammer expected them all to die for a prophecy none believed would come to pass, they had abandoned the field. Now, the starkness of their situation was terrifying. An ironic fate for the bastard dragons who have wrought fear for ten thousand years.

Serinar was angled head-on with the Dark Portal, intending to head right through, when he noticed he could make out the shifting shadows on the Portal itself. The guards, crates and tents were illuminated by more than the occasional lightning bolt. And the illumination in the area was getting brighter.

The sun was coming up.

Serinar turned sharply in panic, heading instead for the abandoned depths of the Twisted Scar. Breaking the brood’s glide-only rule of the last twenty miles, he began to flap in a desperate attempt to pick up speed.

“We’re about to be seen!”

And you shall die, slaves to your worst imaginings.

The voice came from nowhere, echoing all around each of them, bouncing in their ears and roiling in their skulls. The prophetic ramblings of their scorned masters only served to push them on, but as they dove sharply over the portal and into the canyons below, they heard the bleary yells of orcs and humans, woken by their movements. A volley of arrows flew at them, felling a drake who had fallen behind.

“NO!”

Sabellian

Sabellian lay prone on the ground, as he did every day. With each circuit of the stars (the only way to tell time in Outland) he hoped and willed for some response. Some guidance as to what to do with his meagre flock. But there was nothing. No signal from the earth, the sky, from the voices in his head that had died away years ago.

Cimmeria, his junior by three years, nudged him with her claw. She was unamused. “You’re boring me with this, Sabellian. We need to go and hunt.”

Sabellian huffed at her, tendrils of annoyed smoke rising from his nostrils. “This is more important. These powers are ours by right. The lore of the mortals said so. We should use them.”

“We had those powers, Sabellian. Had. They were stripped from our kind before you or I were eggs in Sintharia’s brood. The longer you spend on this wild goose chase, the longer we go in these cursed mountains without food.”

“Anything we need, we hunt from the forests. Anything we cannot get, we steal from ogres. Are you happy with that existence? Because if we follow your suggestions, it’s all we’re ever going to be. ”

Sabellian’s gaze shifted from Cimmeria, looking out over the Blade’s Edge Mountains from the top of their plateau. No one had reached it except migrating birds. A pack of dark spots on the scorched earth caught his attention. “The Gronn are on the move.”

Cimmeria cocked her snout derisively. “We are wild animals, Sabellian. We were born this way in a world that does not care, and we shall die so. And why should we care? This plateau is inaccessible for any others. We are safe here.”

Sabellian narrowed his eyes at her disinterest. “The Gronn never migrate. They always have enough food, and there’s less food in the north.”

“Perhaps they’ve come to join the Hammer. More food for us.”

Sabellian pushed himself into a sitting position, exposing his dusty and scarred forelegs. He shook his head. “No, the orcs and draenei hunted the Hammer out of Outland months ago.”

Cimmeria scratched the ground, sharpening her claws. “They’re probably just following migration patterns-”

Sabellian snapped at her, baring teeth. “The Gronn don’t migrate, Cimmeria.”

“Oh? What are you, a library?!” Turning her back on him, Cimmeria stalked off, flicking her tail in anger. “You may be old by our standards, Sabellian, but you haven’t been here long enough to see a gronn’s lifecycle!”

Sabellian grunted, returning to his position on the ground, gazing at the earth. He remained, starting at it, long after the sun had set and the others had gone to sleep. He barely felt the hunger.

Serinar

The midmorning sun glared down at Serinar and his tattered brood, licking their wounds in the salt canyons of the Tainted Scar.

One of the drakes closest to him grunted in pain. “What are we to do now?”

Serinar stared at the ground, leeting out a resigned sigh.

“We have no choice but to wait until nightfall. We can cloak ourselves and go through the portal.” The assembled dragons began searching for food and shade.

Obessia, however, walked over to Serinar, sitting beside him. It was a few minutes before either said anything, him staring at the ground and her gently picking at several loose scales. She focused her violet eyes upon his own until he met her gaze.

“Is there nothing we can do to heal the injured?” She inquired.

Serinar glanced at her, sighing again. He had had this conversation a thousand times over with broodlings in the Shrine, forced to drain the hope out of each one’s eyes individually. He shook his head at the young drake.

“We have no healing powers, Obessia. We are defenseless against war, because we are war. Our nature is to strike back, to hit first, to ensure that the enemy cannot get up and hit us back. And now we cannot do even that.”

The drake glanced down at the floor, narrowing her violet eyes before looking back up. Obessia’s appearance made him nearly jump. The hope he’d seen drift out of the drakes he’d sent to his death was still there, even as death lingered perhaps only hours away. A steely determination had wrapped itself around the glint of hope in her eyes.

“It is your fate, perhaps. But we are not consigned fates at hatching. We create them, Serinar, and I am not just a machine built to destroy. I breathe. I live.”

Serinar looked up into the sky, the bright sun blinding his vision. “It is too late for most of us to think about fates other than death now. Perhaps, if we make-”

A wild draconic roar sounded from the north, so unnaturally loud and omnipresent that it made the drakes screech and scatter in terror. It was the roar of an angry dragon, hungering for vengeance. Then another sounded, closer and louder. And another. And another.

Obessia’s mouth opened wide, but no words came out, her eyes flashing wildly in confusion. The dragons around had been shocked into silence by the number of the roars, which continued to grow.

Serinar was panicking as well. Years upon years of training and brainwashing to prepare the Black Dragonflight to destroy the world had never accounted for this situation. Never had any assumed that they could lose until it was too late. And now it seemed too late. “THE REDS ARE HERE!”

Sabellian

Sabellian clenched and unclenched his claws, staring over the horizon. He had tried for months to pull himself together, ever since the flock had come together in an attempt at self-preservation. Here, the dragons were wild beasts without powers, and they desperately needed each other to survive. Outland had become more aware. With the looming presence of Illidan and the Legion defeated, there was more confidence among the mortals. They were more easily able to defend themselves.

The black dragons were weak here, weaker than they had ever been, certainly weaker than the whelphood tales of black dragons that sowed terror on an alien world. A world that none of them would ever be able to visit, because the survivors spoke of the fury and the power that the mortals brought through the portal. The fear that gave way to anger in seconds when they sighted black dragons. The steel and magic that scales were powerless against.

Nesting in a mountain range with countless siblings impaled on spikes was not good for morale, but none of them dared leave him, dared challenge his word. For all his uselessness, Sabellian was the eldest among them – the only survivor to have hatched while Deathwing still dwelt on Draenor, the only survivor who was dragon rather than drake.

His survival gave him no hope. Sabellian felt like he was without purpose, without hope, without the power to affect his own destiny. Death would come soon enough. Cimmeria was strong enough to lead the others. She knew how to hunt and avoid detection. She could teach the others how to survive.

For now, the only thing keeping Sabellian going were the tales he had heard that the Black Dragonflight had once been protectors, masters of the earth. He had tried to protect people, tried to work for the earth, but there was nothing. But it was all he had – the glimmer of a hope of a possibility that he could recapture that destiny.

Serinar

“What do we do?”

“Where can we hide?”

“Do we fight?” “Do we run?”

“How many are there?” “How close are they?” How strong are they?”

The hysteric screeching of Serinar’s group rose above the approaching roars until Serinar regained his own voice..

“QUIET!”

The dragons stopped, each face a portrait of terror. Serinar looked around.

“There is nowhere that we can hide. There is nowhere left to run. If we stay here, we are all doomed. If we fight, we are all doomed. The only hope is the portal. But I cannot say whether any will make it through.”

The dragons went quiet, each immortal beast suddenly forced to consider a mortality that was minutes from ending. The silence was heavy.

The eldest dragons present, two wyrms named Nihalion and Pyrionis, stepped forward. Until its destruction by the Old Gods, they had guarded the Obsidian Dragonshrine.

Nihalion was the first to speak. His brow furrowed. “If some must die so that others may live, then I volunteer.”

Pyrionis nodded in agreement, his charcoal eyes wide with adrenaline. “We will distract the reds and the mortals. You will be able to sweep round and get through the portal before they notice.”

Serinar looked from one to the other, opening and closing his mouth in shock several times. “I will be sentencing more of my kind to death.” His desperation was read easily by the surrounding dragons.

“There is nothing left for us with you, Serinar. We are the remnants of a lost race. You may start anew. But we are old. ” Pyrionis intoned, his head bowed. “Let us go out in a blaze of glory. One last fight to show the mortals not to follow us.”

Serinar said nothing, almost catatonic. Obessia spoke up.

“Serinar, we do not have time to think or debate this. The reds are coming for us, and they will not wait for us to be ready. We go now, or we die.”

Serinar stared at the ground reluctantly for a few more seconds. Another volley of roars sounded, nearly overhead by now. He looked up and nodded grimly.

“Thank you, Pyrionis, Nihalion. We will remember you. Your sacrifice is not in vain.”

The two dragons nodded and roared as they rose into the air, barely drowning out the noise of the approaching red dragons. The remaining brood took flight and separated from the two wyrms.

As one, the brood flew out over the mountain range, the brood underneath the two wyrms. While the rest dove towards the portal, the two elder dragons circled upwards with a speed beyond their years, meeting the red attackers.

“You have each other. Do not give that up for any power. Goodbye, Serinar!” Nihalion yelled, on-course towards the red flight.

As the flock angled towards the Dark Portal, they saw the amassed Horde and Alliance troops awaiting them.

“Evasive manoeuvres!” Serinar called, twisting sharply. Magefire and arrows filled the air around them, and the roar of dragons and dragonfire echoed as the mortals scattered, their camps ablaze. Serinar shot head-on into the portal, ignoring the missiles flying at him.

This is our last hope. We can’t fail now.