Episode 27: The Great Divide
“One more should do it.”
Amidone’s sunny disposition was anything but settling for me. A few hundred meters below us a stream of molten lava was coursing its way through a deep ravine. This fissure in the earth split right down the middle of the Barrens, a terrible rent in the ground that was left over from the cataclysm.
I had been uneasy since we arrived in the Barrens, especially now that I knew it was controlled by the Horde. After the mess we’d dealt with trying to help in Astranaar, I had no interest in hanging out with the Horde forces. Of course, like an hour after arriving here, we had stumbled across a small band of dwarfs, all of them mortally wounded, and they warned us of our impending doom.
They added there was an Alliance forward command post across the great divide, but that we would need flight to reach it. Amidone, having been certain the “divide” was easy to cross, pressed on. When we arrived at the very edge of the fissure, I heard the priest curse into the wind.
“Well,” she said as she looked back at me, “only one way to go then.”
“Back toward Ashenvale?”
“No,” she said with a laugh. “We’ll climb down and across.”
I hacked out a good laugh and then took a seat on the ground. “That’s it,” I said. “I’ve had enough of your nonsense. I’m sitting this one out.”
“I uh… I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
I looked at Amidone and saw that she was already sliding down the edge. I wanted to protest, but the look of panic on her face told me that there wasn’t time. I stood to help her and she just grinned wildly.
“Look behind you. Come on!”
I turned my head and saw wolves… with riders. It was the Orc Warriors that the dwarfs had warned us about. A moment later, I was on the cliff wall with Amidone at my side.
“Did they see us?” I asked.
“So what do we do now?”
“We climb down and out of sight. If we’re lucky they won’t come after us.”
We climbed… or slid… or fell… down to the bottom of the cliff where the heat of the lava was enough to make my fur feel like it was about to catch fire. Amidone didn’t speak; she just motioned for me to follow this way or that. We ran down and ducked under large burnt coves that had been carved out by the lava just days before. It felt like an oven as we hid in the tight area and listened for the sound of our pursuers.
They never came.
Half an hour of waiting and never as much as a whisper near us. The constant pop hiss of the nearby lava would have drowned out most of the quiet chatter, but there were never any orders shouted or war cries. I wanted to die from the heat when Amidone finally pulled on my shoulder and pointed toward the way out. I followed her over and we both glanced back up the way we had come.
“We probably shouldn’t try climbing up that way,” she said.
“No kidding,” I grumbled. “So where then?”
“The other side of the divide. We’ll get to that Alliance camp.”
“What do you plan to do to get across the lava?” I asked.
“Cross it,” she replied. “Do you have a different plan?”
I wanted to say something back, but honestly I didn’t have a different plan. There was nothing I could do about our situation aside from pressing on. We were cut off from the night elves now; we had gone too far South from Ashenvale. If we were lucky, the dwarfs were right and there was an Alliance camp near here.
“So… how are we going to cross it?”
“Simple,” she replied. “Like this.”
She waved her arm and then jumped into the air. Instead of falling down she stayed suspended there as though gravity had no meaning. With a big grin on her face she rushed across the lava, snapped her fingers, and fell to the ground safely on the other side.
“I can’t fly,” she said loudly. “I can however, levitate to my heart’s content.”
“Great,” I said. “What about me?”
“Not as simple,” she said. “I’m going to put a shield around you. It should protect you enough for you to walk across the lava.”
“Yes,” she said sternly. “I can’t make any promises.”
“Right,” I said with a laugh. “Look, I’ll take my chances with the Horde…”
A moment after I spoke an arrow whizzed by my face and landed in the lava nearby, causing it to burst into flame.
I twisted around to see the absolute worst thing I could. The Orc patrol that had spotted them was coming down into the fissure with ropes. One of them had stopped long enough to fire an arrow at him.
“Wish granted,” Amidone said. “You staying or coming?”
“Shouldn’t we test this?” I asked in a full panic.
“No time. You either die at the hands of those orcs or you cross the lava and… possibly survive.”
“I hate you Amidone,” I said as I walked toward the lava. “If I die here I will haunt you for eternity.”
“Right… okay! Shield is up! Run!”
I didn’t feel different, or safe, but I did as she said because I was feeling extra crazy. When I stepped into the lava it felt like nothing more than a thick warm mud. I took another step and sank a little deeper into the red hot liquid rock.
“Wow!” She shouted. “This is awesome!”
“Are you okay?”
“It’s a bit draining,” she mumbled. “You may want to walk faster.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice. I quickened my pace, trudging through the lava with all my might. As I moved, the heat from the lava started to seep through the shield Amidone was keeping around me. The warmth became hot and then it started to move into searing. I rushed the rest of the way across and then leapt out of the stuff at the last moment. Amidone nearly collapsed next to me when she knew I was safe.
Across the way, the Orcs had reached the bottom of the cliff and were moving to get a better shot at us. I held up my shield and deflected a few arrows that were shot at us, but I knew that we were outnumbered. They would eventually hit us and then leave us here to die. I saw the one that had shot at me earlier and he was pulling back his bow. I knew he was going to pull a trick shot. I had no way to really react.
Then, out of nowhere, a shot rang out that killed the Orc before he was able to fire. The other Orcs panicked and started shouting as they rushed back toward their ropes, but several more shots killed off the entire patrol group before they could even start their climb back up. When the violence had come to a halt, I dared to look up the cliff on our side of the lava. There were three soldiers, all in Alliance uniform and muskets in their hands.
“You two safe down there?” asked one of the soldiers. “We can’t see you.”
“Do they know about us?” I asked Amidone. “That we’re Worgen?”
“Yeah, they know.”
Feeling relieved, I stepped out from the cliff wall so that they would be able to see me. “We’re down here. We’re safe thanks to you.”
“Worgen folk, eh?” the soldier asked. “You two Gilneans then?”
I almost said no but then rethought it. “Yes. We were in the brigade that helped to retake the city before the Undead moved in on us.”
“Well, it looks like you all are good at backing yourselves into corners. I’ll have some rope lowered down for you and then we’ll get you back to our forward base. We could use your help with a few things.”
I waited anxiously for our rescue, uncertain of what few things the soldier might have wanted from us until I reached the top of the cliff and immediately realized we were on the edge of a jungle.
“Wow,” I said in total astonishment. “I didn’t know there was a jungle here.”
“There wasn’t,” the soldier replied. Apparently the cataclysm threw this place into overdrive. Thorns, jungles, wild animals; this place is anything but Barren. At least we put those Taurens in their place.”
“Taurens?” I asked. “You defeated them?”
“Defeated them?” repeated the soldier with a chuckle. “No. We just kicked them back to Mulgore and left them there to figure out their own problems.”
Strangely, I felt relieved. “That’s… good.”
“Now come on,” the soldier said. “I’ve got some crazy night elf druids back at the post and they’re going to go nuts when they see you.”
I grinned and Amidone did the same. I looked back over the Great Divide and then took a deep breath and let it out as slowly as I could. The soldier reached out his hand for a shake and said, “The name is Williamson. Who might you be?”
“Me?” I asked. “My name is… Salonis.”
“Salonis, eh?” the soldier pressed. “It doesn’t ring a bell, but then again I never met many Gilneans.”
I only smiled. The memories I had of Sionis were unraveling faster than I could have wanted.
That life, that previous life, was fading away and I was left in the wake… Salonis the Worgen warrior.
“Either way,” the soldier added, “It’ll be good to have someone like you on the team. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”With that, I gave a quick salute and then fell in line as we moved back toward the Alliance outpost. This was who I was now; and I wasn’t displeased with that knowledge. Whoever Sionis had been, that life was separate from my own. I got in line with Amidone and we began our march toward the next military destination. My old life forever behind me…
Or so I thought...