Episode 7: The Nexus (Part One)
The frozen morning air always seeped into the poorly-insulated inns built across Northrend. Each and every morning as the fires from the night before finally faded into a thin smoke, I would feel the biting cold take hold of my feet, pulling me from my dreams and reminding me that I was not in the safe and secure city of Stormwind.
Lately, my dreams had been rooted in the human capital where I relived countless memories of my brief but powerful life with Keaira. The Night Elf had called him partner for six years on the day she came to him with the news of her departure. It had been a brisk winter day in the city when she’d said her peace on the matter. This was probably why the dreams had returned now, the cold being a reminder of that painful moment in time.
Still, I hadn’t expected the pain to cut so deep. Nearly a year had now gone, but whenever that dream retreated and I woke from my slumber, the pain felt fresh and new.
I think I’d stayed in this wonderful little outpost for about three weeks by now. One rescue mission had turned into another, and then I was asked to lead up an assault team and that got everyone’s attention. I didn’t give out my name, so everyone just referred to me as the fire mage, which seemed good enough to me.
Of course, all of that was about to change.
It was quiet during this particular day, something I preferred over the usual chaos that existed here. Here in Northrend, when the sun went down everything stopped. No one was outside fixing gates, no one was fighting, no one was gathering supplies. You hid inside to escape the dark freezing airs that blew through once the sun had gone. No matter what side you were on, or how much you hated your foes, when the light vanished over the horizon you ran for cover. The ice and wind that came with nightfall was enough to kill even the bravest adventurer.
I actually quite liked that.
So, finding a calm day was like finding a rare pearl in an oyster. I was hoping to sit back and enjoy it. I conjured up a loaf of bread and started snacking while giving a little umph to the dying fire in the hearth.
Then, I heard my name.
I lifted my head and saw an Alliance soldier standing in the wooden doorway of the hut.
When he saw my face he nodded. “Yeah, that’s the guy alright.”
I was about to ask what was going on, but the soldiers simply stepped back outside and was replaced by a woman, a woman in a Kirin Tor robe.
“Hello Sionis,” Lady Evanor said before I could speak. “Good to see you.”
“Ah, hello there.”
“You know I’ve been looking for you for days,” she said. “Surfal was mad as hell by the time he got back to Amber Ledge.”
“Surfal walked all the way back?” I asked.
“You’ve got a brave horse,” she replied.
“So why are you here?”
“I wish I could say it was just to chat, but I’m afraid something terrible has happened.”
“The blue dragons. They were seeking a way to destroy magic...”
I waited, but she couldn’t seem to pull her words together.
“Evanor?” I asked. “Please, tell me what has happened.”
“They opened a rift. It’s a raw portal of energy and magic. It is growing in size every minute and it is only a matter of time before the dragons lose their ability to contain it. When that happens, this entire world may be ripped to shreds.”
“If it is so dangerous why is Dalaran not acting?”
Evanor sighed. “Malygos is the leader of the blue dragons and a master of the magical arts. The Kirin Tor cannot risk diverting their energy to closing the rift or else Malygos will use their weakness to destroy our capital city. We’re crippled Sionis. We need you.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“You have to close the rift.”
“How would I even do that?”
“Brute force, I’m afraid,” she answered.
“Well we’ve got plenty of that,” another voice chimed in. I looked and saw the human warrior that had arrived by boat just a few days before. He was young and eager; two things I liked a lot in an ally.
“You volunteering?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Absolutely.”
“I’m in too,” another spoke up. It was Kekel, a gnome rogue that had come this way long before me. “I could use the exercise.”
“I’m thankful,” I said to him. “Now, we’re going to need someone else. Someone I know that’s perfect for the job.”
We travelled to the back of the inn where the large oven and kitchen were lit with a warm glow. There, standing in nothing but a thin pair of shorts and a light shirt, stood a very large man with a very large butcher’s knife.
“Morning Sionis,” he said as he pulled back his blade for another swing. “Did you have a good sleep?”
“Not as well as you’d think,” I said with a laugh. “I woke up to some troubling news.”
“Uh oh, those Vrykuls are up to no good again?”
“They’re never up to any good, but this is a different matter entirely. In fact, it’s something that would be well fit for a paladin.”
“I’m a cook,” Appoleon replied without looking to me. “I don’t fight anymore.”
“Then it’s good to know you will not be fighting anyone on this mission.”
Appoleon stopped cutting his meat and looked over at the group in his kitchen. His aging face was calm, but stern, and his blond hair was thinning to baldness. Still, right then, I could see a fire in the paladin’s eyes that I couldn’t let die out.
“I told you once, Sionis, the day you showed up here; I’m not that holy warrior from Lordaeron anymore. I admire your will to press on, but I know when I’m beat. I’m here until Arthas is overthrown and then I’m moving right back to Southshore.”
“Appoleon, I’m not asking you to fight Arthas with me. This is a personal request from Lady Evanor. You remember her, don’t you?”
The paladin almost immediately blushed and set down his blade. “Evanor asked for my help?”
“She did. She’s asked for us all to go to the Tundra on a very important mission.”
“The tundra? What’s over there?”
“That part I’m not too sure about.”
Appoleon rolled his eyes and picked up his knife again. “I’m not going.”
“Please, she said it could destroy our world.”
The paladin tried to ignore my presence, but quickly set down his blade. “Fine, if it is going to destroy the world, I don’t see much point in resisting.”
“Excellent,” I replied with a grin. “I’ll give you time to get ready while I lock onto the mages at Amber Ledge. I should be able to make us a portal.”
“You and your portals,” Appoleon said with a shake of his head. “I’ll be ready in twenty minutes.”
Under normal circumstances I would have felt more comfortable with hand-picking my team for a mission. Still, time was short and the two that had joined up with me were people I knew I could trust. I closed my eyes and focused as clearly as I could on the far side of Northrend. It was a weak signal, but suddenly, I felt Evanor’s presence and the power grew substantially. She was a well-trained mage and I was a rusty soldier. Nothing reminded me of that better than feeling her powerful magic as it overwhelmed mind and generated the portal that we needed.
As the portal opened, I pressed my energy even harder on the other end and the sparks of magic bloomed into a swirling light that created an oval window. Through it we could see the tower of Amber Ledge.
“Well done,” Evanor commented. “You still got it.”
“You helped substantially.”
“I just sped up the process,” she said with a grin.
“Good thing too,” Appoleon said from behind the group. “It took him about a half hour before you jumped in.”
“A half hour?” I asked. Had it really been that long?
“You didn’t realize that?” Appoleon asked.
“Space and time gets complicated,” Evanor answered for me.
“Okay then,” Appoleon said. “Let’s get this show on the road. Oh, and hi Lady Evanor. It’s good to see you again.”
“And you, Appoleon,” she replied politely. “Are you still serving the Light these days?”
“Mostly just serving the bellies of starving guests these days,” he replied.
“Okay okay, we can play catchup later,” I said, nudging Appoleon toward the portal. “Off and way and all that.”
With a grunt, Appoleon stepped through the window while Kekel and Thomas followed as well. I took one last look around the Howling Fjord and then stepped through the portal and out onto Amber Ledge. I immediately saw Librarian Donathan coming out of the nearby mage tower. He looked exhausted and his robes were dirty and almost completely worn. There really was something happening here if Donathan hadn’t been taking his daily baths.
“Sionis,” he said with a slight frown. “It’s good to see you again. Where is Evanor?”
“I’m right here,” she replied as she stepped through the portal. “Safe and sound.”
“Who are these others?” Donathan asked.
“This is our team,” I replied.
“Your team? So she convinced you to go to the Nexus?”
“She did,” I replied. “I just need a map.”
“Nonsense,” Donathan said firmly. “You’ll be transported there right away.”
“Oh boy,” I said sarcastically. “Well, let’s get it over with.”