Episode 10: Fjord on Fire
The trip back to the Howling Fjord had been a little easier this time. The Kirin Tor representative in Valiance Keep had transported me there without question, further proof that I was gaining some admiration amongst the magi.
One step closer to my ultimate goal.
The local inn was still blistering cold when I arrived here again and I couldn’t help but smile to feel a sense of returning home. I took my place at the bar and ordered a fresh glass of spring water. The bartendered responded by throwing down a bottle of mostly ice.
“Sorry about that,” he said looking it over. “I can’t keep it warm enough to stay liquid.”
“Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “This works just fine.”
“Good on you,” the bartender said. “I wish my other customers were so kind.”
I leaned back and started to sip at my nearly frozen water when I heard the door to the inn swing open and the thud of a heavy boot stepped inside. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Admiral Keller entering.
Where Amber Ledge had been facing off against the mighty blue dragons, so was Valgarde facing off against these Viking-like giants. Howling Fjord was a battle zone, one that was not nearly as established as the Alliance would have young adventures think. Valgarde was a legacy of a forgotten time, homes adorned with the emblem of the fallen Lordaeron Kingdom and guards still wearing the armor from the lost realm.
“Sepher,” Keller boomed from the wooden threshold. “You’re back in the Fjord?”
“Glad to hear it. I never got to congratulate you for that crazy stunt you pulled before you left. You know when you went up and took down that vrykul village. My men are still talking about you riding that harpoon in like it was some kind of magical carpet! You truly showed us all what it means to be a hero.”
“You’re quite welcome,” I said as I used a quick flash of fire to head up my glass of water so that the ice would crack and let me drink some of the fluid. Keller came over and took a seat at the bar next to me. With the Vrykul licking their wounds I wasn’t sure what the Admiral wanted, but I was fairly certain it would involve killing his enemies.
“I’ve got something to ask you Sepher,” the Admiral said as he removed his hat and set it down in a vacant chair. “It’s something that I’ve been wanted to know for a while now.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Is it true that you’re one of the people that fled with Jaina Proudmoore after the scourge began in Lordaeron?”
I looked at the Admiral for a moment, trying to read if he’d hate me for knowing the truth.
“I am,” I said honestly.
“What fueled your decision?” he asked, leaning closer to me. “Why did you abandon your home so easily?”
“Easily?” I asked. “Did you assume it was easy? I watched Arthas fall. I watched demons invade our realm. I watched Dalaran fall. I watched the most powerful and magical city crumble before my eyes. What would you have done? Thrown yourself on the spire knowing you’d come back as an undead just to fight your loved ones?”
“Look, I’m not saying I know the right answer. I’m just asking why you left? You’re the Sepher family, you could have fled to Stormwind?”
“Jaina said we should sail. She was powerful and one of the best students Dalaran had to offer. I wasn’t sure what the future held, but Lordaeron was in flames. The world was ending Keller. I was a kid and the world was over. So I went with the most powerful person I could follow. I worried Stormwind wasn’t far behind whatever devastation took out Lordaeron.”
“Fair enough,” Keller said as he leaned back against his chair and put his hands on the table. “What happened once you arrived at Kalimdor? Did you follow Jaina through it all?”
“I did,” I replied without hesitation. “I helped end the third war.”
“Yet in doing so, you appear to have become a powerful fire mage,” Keller said as he lifted one finger to point at my glass. “I’m pretty sure fire mages use a form of magic that is usually frowned upon by the Kirin Tor.”
“Are you going somewhere with this?” I asked.
“You want into Dalaran, but you’re not a Kirin Tor, so you can’t just waltz up there.”
I raised a brow. “That’s true.”
“So why did you come back here?” Keller asked.
“I don’t know where Dalaran is,” I said.
“Zul’drak,” Keller said flatly. “You’ll want to go to Zul’drak.”
“To the North?” I asked.
“Way to the North, past Grizzly Hills.”
“That’s where I’ll find the city?”
“Not exactly,” Keller said with a chuckle. “You’ll find Magister Teronus. He and I go way back. He’ll get you into the city.”
“Teronus..” I said, tasting the name on my tongue. “Why are you helping me?”
“You’re not good at hiding your wounds, mage.”
I frowned. “What?”
“You and your broken heart. Pining here in the bar. I’ve seen it before. You want some kind of magic to suppress your emotions. Am I right?”
I couldn’t believe it. How did so many people see right through me? Was I that obvious?
“I just need a simple potion,” I said. “Then I’ll be right as rain.”
The Admiral sat there for a moment and then picked up his hat and stood from the bar.
“You know,” he said slowly. “When I left Lordareon, I told my wife and kids to head to Stormwind. I told them they’d be safe there and to stay until I got back from this mess. It’s been seven years since I’ve seen or heard from them. By now, if they’re still alive, they’ve moved on.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, surprised by this news.
“The thing is I knew that when I left, even if I was successful in capturing a land up here, I couldn’t risk their safety by letting them come with me. I was also smart enough to know our homelands were in danger until we took on Arthas. Even though I’ll never see them again I don’t think I made a bad decision, and I doubt they think so either.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because seven years ago I thought I was going to die of a broken heart. Your wound is fresh, Sepher, but that wound will scar up real nice over time and you’ll be stronger for it. I never let the magical healers tend to my cuts and bruises if I can avoid it. It make a mark and reminds me of what I did and where I come from.”
“So you wouldn’t choose to forget them, to be rid of that pain so that you could live happily without thinking about that family you’ll never see again?”
Keller mulled this over and then shook his head. “I don’t think I would.”
I was surprised to hear that, especially because the wound in my heart came from the loss of one, while he had lost a whole family. Perhaps he had grown numb to the pain, perhaps I could too, in time, but even thinking about it refreshed the pain in my heart and reminded me that I need to press onward.
I would have said farewell to Keller, but he had already vanished through the exit.
I paid my coin to the bartender and stood up.
“Where are you off to?” the man asked as I moved toward the door.
“Zul’drak,” I said firmly. “I’ve got a wound to heal.”