Episode 9: Parting Ways
The days following the success at the Nexus were a blur.
The magi at Amber Ledge forced me to stay bedridden while Lady Evanor tended to what turned out to be several broken bones and torn muscles. Health potions and mana draughts were daily items for me to drink. Thomas and Kekel left for fizzcrank airstrip without another word to me. They got handsome rewards, but I imagine they wouldn’t want to deal with the Kirin Tor again any time soon. Sure, the rift had been sealed, but another crazy magic wielding sorcerer would eventually reopen it. I doubt they felt like they had really achieved any kind of victory and nearly dying always came with reflective thoughts on how one had lived their lives.
I couldn’t blame them for wanting to get away.
Still, four days into my recovery and I decided I had enough.
When Lady Evanor tried to stop me at the entrance to the tower, I was certain that it was to congratulate me for my efforts.
“Hello there,” I said casually as she stopped him in his path. “What can I do to help you?”
“Sionis, I talked to Appoleon,” she said angrily. “You told him he didn’t have to do any fighting.”
“I didn’t think he would have to,” I admitted.
“You are horrible person, Sionis,” she growled. “Appoleon quit fighting as a paladin because he felt he was using the holy power in the wrong fashion. How dare you pull him back into a conflict! Do you understand that he is completely devastated by what he did in the Nexus?”
“You mean when he saved my life so that I could seal that rift that you sent me to close?” I snapped back my voice reflecting my own annoyance. “Are you really going to push this whole thing off on me?”
“I didn’t recruit a retired paladin to do something he didn’t want to do,” she snapped back.
“You’re right,” I grumbled. “You recruited a mage that you and every other Kirin Tor could use for your purpose and then throw away.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Sionis, I didn’t realize you wanted payment! Name your price and I’ll see to it that the Dalaran Council pays you.”
It was as easy as that. I could ask for it here and now and she’d probably teleport me there in her fit of rage.
I had it. I was so close.
But no, I was angry.
“Pay me?” I shouted. “I don’t want your money! I want you and your fellow magi to understand that you can’t just stand on a ledge and make someone else do your dirty work. If you want to close the nexus again I suspect you should muster up the courage to do it yourself.”
With that, I used my magic to vanish and reappear outside the tower.
As I went to work preparing Surfal for our departure, Evanor rushed out after me and she looked furious. Before she could speak though, I held up a hand toward her and shook my head. Surprisingly, the gesture stopped her where she stood for a moment.
“So you’re just going to run away?” she asked.
“Evanor, I closed your stupid rift. I almost died for you. I wake up to a lecture on how I’m a horrible person. If Appoleon hadn’t used his power to kill that dragon, I would be dead. I do feel guilty for that, but I was there, doing what your precious order wouldn’t do. I made the tough decisions that you and Donathan wouldn’t make. So before you judge me for what I did, maybe you could try to understand what it’s like to do the hard work.”
She opened her mouth, ready to deliver a barrage of comebacks, but I snapped at Surfal’s reins and quickly rode off toward Valiance Keep.
The bustling human stronghold of Valiance Keep was just as chaotic as it was the last time I had been here. I sorted through the crowds of new arrivals who were getting their rusted sets of armor and thick wool uniforms to wear for warmth.
The Morning Star, one of Stormwind’s biggest warships, was currently docked with busy deckhands rushing back and forth from the harbor. I followed a hunch and headed down to the dock so that I could ask some people if they’d seen a man built like Appoleon. Sure enough, a few minutes of good questioning put him in the belly of the warship, helping to load food and supplies for the trip back to Stormwind.
I headed down into the vessel and when I arrived at the storage area, I saw Appoleon stand up in surprise.
“Sionis,” he said as he nervously approached. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to apologize.”
“Apologize?” the paladin asked. “For what?”
“For making you kill that dragon, for taking you to the Nexus at all… I truly wanted you to come for your healing power, not to fight, but I should have known that the possibility was there.”
“Sionis, save your breath.”
“Look, no regrets. I could have turned you down, but I didn’t. I can’t blame you for what happened in that place unless I’m willing to blame myself too. Besides, killing that beast was confirmation that I made the right call by leaving the service. I don’t belong here in Northrend anyway.”
“Where are you going?”
“Southshore,” he replied without hesitation. “I always liked it there.”
“You’re going back for that woman… what was her name?”
Appoleon laughed. “Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that I need to focus on other parts of my life. Fighting the enemy isn’t for me Sionis, I’ve got other desires.”
“No,” said Appoleon with a smirk. “I don’t think you do.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I thought you had it figured out, when you decided to stay in Stormwind and help the young mages of the future with their skills. Then, one day, you show up here. I’m not a fool, Sionis, it was almost a year to the date that you and Keaira went your separate ways. You have a broken heart, and it’s aching in that chest of yours.”
I thought about denying it, but he was right.
“I just need to fetch and item.”
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Appoleon said frowning at me now. “You always told me Keaira was the the thing that kept you from giving up on love and peace. Well, I just hope that’s not the truth. You need love to keep you in check and right now, your heart hurts because you’ve lost that love, but that doesn’t mean you won’t recover.”
I wanted to offer some kind of rebuttal, to try and explain that this wouldn’t wouldn’t heal and that giving up on love might be my only real solution. I was a battle hardened mage and a cold-blooded killer. Could I even try finding love again?
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “Maybe I will.”
“You will,” Appoleon said firmly. “I know it.”
Part of me wanted to believe it. The other part of me knew it didn’t matter. Dalaran was my goal, and the magic that waited there would resolve all of my problems. Still, there would come a time when this was all over and I would need a place to turn.
“Hey, Appoleon,” I said. “Do you think you could use an extra hand in Southshore?”
The paladin stopped and looked at him for a moment. “You know I could.”
“I’m going to see this through,” I added sternly. “Once I’m done. I’ll need a place to stay.”
“Please do,” Appoleon replied. “Maybe when you get there I’ll be married and have a few of the village girls lined up for you too.”
“Right,” I said with an added chuckle.
“Seriously though,” Appoleon added. “When all this is over… come and visit.”