Episode 34: Zin'Jatar
I hadn’t expected our task to be easy, but for some reason the naga seemed to be holding back on their advance. Erunak felt discomforted by the inaction, and soon I felt a wave of fear and confusion, but it wasn’t coming from Erunak, it was coming from the other shaman, that Erunak had called Gadra. Something had happened Gadra and he was in danger.
I felt like time was of the essence and I knew it was worth the risk. I reached out and grabbed Erunak’s arm and then focused my energy for a quick teleportation. I locked on Gadra’s fear, the energy that he was using to broadcast that fear, and when I felt a small flicker of it, I slammed us back down to the real world.
We snapped out of the teleportation in the damp and poorly lit chamber that Gadra had used for refuge. It was, unfortunately, anything but calm. Metal clanking against metal echoed all around the cave and I realized that we were under attack. The survivors, the ex-prisoners, and even Gadra were defending this small position from an onslaught of naga soldiers. It looked like we had little hope of survival, if not for one thing... I was out of the water. My fire would be our salvation.
A twister of fire whipped through the chamber, sweeping over the naga and burning them as they reacted with total shock and surprise. They had been fighting for a while now, and only now did a mage dare to show his power. The survivors jumped back from the flame and took up defensive positions, giving a loud shout of praise to me as I continued to whip unrelenting flame at the attacking naga. The main forces started to flee when suddenly I felt something pushing against my fire attack.
An enormous weapon with magical energies was cleaving through my attack. I withdrew and watched as the weapon lowered to reveal an even larger naga soldier behind it.
“Fathom-Lord Zin’jatar!” Gadra shouted. “We’re in trouble.”
“No,” I replied calmly. “We are not.”
I had enough fighting and I was tired of fleeing. I was tired of being tired. I wasn't doing this again.
The fathom-lord may well have been an intimidating fellow on a normal day, but his time in this watery world was nearly at an end. I wasn't just a mage of Stormwind. I was back to the way I had been in the third war. I was a warrior, a weapon of fire that could quell uprisings. I lifted my arms high above my shoulders and pulled the ice and fire together once more; a flaming spear of frozen water that seemed to defy everything that made each of the powers stand on their own. I merged them in that moment, making a deadly weapon that could not shatter, could not be put out, and could not be stopped. I gave the spear all my strength and the projectile hit the fathom-lord on the left side of his face, tearing open a huge gash and making the naga roar in agony and annoyance. Then, just like that, Zin’jatar, the terrifying leader of the naga attack, pulled back.
I remained where I was; another ice and fire spear hovered over my head ready to be thrust at any other attacks. The survivors suddenly burst into applause, dropping their weapons and coming out just to stand near the man who had saved them all from total defeat. I was a hero.
“Sionis,” Erunak said as he pushed through the crowd to be close to the mage. “Impressive work.”
“It’s nothing,” I replied. “Now, what are we planning from here?”
Gadra pushed up to the two of us and shook Erunak’s hand before taking me into a sudden embrace. It was clear from the emotions that he was displaying, that Gadra had expected to die in this small chamber and I was the only reason that hadn’t happened. "Thank you both so much."
“You’ve got the mage to thank for that,” Erunak said with a gesture. “That was an impressive teleportation.”
“It was a gamble,” I admitted. “We got lucky.”
“Luck doesn’t work that well,” Erunak replied calmly. “There was more to it.”
“You two will help lead the survivors on to Silver Tide Hollow, then?”
“Where?” I asked.
“It’s the stronghold for the Earthen Ring survivors.”
The Earthen Ring.
I had heard of them before. They were similar to the magi of Dalaran, only their area of expertise was the more spiritually-focused art of shamanism. The two branches accomplished much of the same in their disciplines, but the shamans were certain that it was the earth and nature that guided them. It was something that I normally tried to avoid, but based on our current situation I wasn’t going to be picky.
“Yeah,” I said with a grin. “I’ll help get them there.”
“Wonderful,” Gadra said with a clap of his hands. “Now, I noticed that you have no staff.”
I nodded. “It would seem I’ve lost mine.”
“Not to worry. I have… created another.”
The shaman held out the staff and I felt it pulsing with life. It was a creature, complete with tentacles writing at the top, and a pronounced beak for a mouth. It was a staff, somehow, a living staff. That may well have been the most interesting thing I had ever seen in my life.
“It helps to channel the energy you use in your attacks. You’ll find it to be a wonderful addition to your arsenal while you are in these waters.”
“Silver Tide Hollow,” I said. “Does it have contact with Alliance ships? Can we get out of this mess?”
“Mage, I wish it were that simple. Go to Silver Tide Hollow. They’ll fill you in on the rest.”
I wasn’t happy at what I had just heard, but there was little I could do about it. For now I was still just a person caught up in this mess, though my last little teleportation trick had taught me a valuable lesson. Something had changed in my abilities after the teleportation accident with Evanor. There was no mage out there that could have locked onto the energy output of a single individual and used it as an anchor. I knew that as well as anyone else.
Yet I had just done it.
Fifteen minutes ago if I had been asked about it I would have confidently boasted it was impossible. Now I was confident I could do it again if I wanted.
“Erunak,” I started. “We’ll rest here for a while. I want the survivors, prisoners, and anyone else that was in this chamber to eat up and try to get a few hours of sleep. We’ll be leaving here and heading straight to Silver Tide Hollow. It sounds like that place may offer up more security than we’ve had in the last week. If we’re lucky, it’ll even present us with a way to get these soldiers back to the surface and out of this mess.”
The shaman gave a firm nod and then left to tell the others what he had heard.
“You lead well, mage,” Gadra’s voice had slowed, but he still sounded as though his heart was in the process of slowing. “Do you have a lot of experience in this?”
“Too much,” I replied. “It never seems to end.”
Gadra nodded in agreement. “You are right about that.”
“Why is the Earthen Ring even here?” I asked. “You all had to have been divided and scattered across the ships. That means you suspected an attack. The fact that there are so many of you means that there is more to this than a simple attack on Horde forces.”
“Yes and no,” Gadra replied. “The ships were sent for the reason you were told. It was the Elders of our council that sensed more to the story. They sent some of their best and brightest on the ships to oversee the mission. There was some concern of a bigger plot so Erunak did have us split up. It would seem his suspicions were correct.”
“Why didn’t you warn us about this?”
“We didn’t know how severe things would be. We certainly didn’t expect that monster to attack our vessels. This has been a strange ride for all of those involved, mage, not just for you.”
“Right,” I replied. “Sorry.”
“The thing is, we have found something of grave concern.”
“Found what, exactly?”
“The shaman at the Silver Tide Hollow will be able to explain it better, but we’re thinking that the naga are actually working with these crazy people called the Twilight Cult…”
“I’ve heard of them,” I said with a sigh. “They’re a nut job organization that want to end the world.”
Gadra laughed. “That’s them.”
“So what are they doing down here in the water?”
“They’re trying to destroy the Abyssal Maw. The cataclysm has sundered our world and opened a doorway to another realm. I cannot describe it to you very well, but I believe your teleportation works in a similar manner; a realm that exists outside of our own but is somehow bound to our own.”
“Yeah,” I confirmed with a nod. “I know what you’re talking about.”
“I don’t know what they’re planning, but they seem highly interested in the breach that has opened the doorway to this other realm. The Earthen Ring survivors are focusing their efforts on stopping them before they cause more damage, or worse, create another cataclysm.”
I thought for a moment and then took a firm grip on my new staff. “Well, it sounds like we’ve got some work cut out for us. I’m going to let this group sleep for a bit and then we’ll head to the Silver Tide Hollow and I’ll see what I can do to help.”
“Thank you, Mage, your efforts may well-”
“Yeah, yeah, save the world,” I finished for him. “Believe me, I’ve saved this planet more times than I can count. I hope that Azeroth is raising some new blood to take my place when I die.”
Gadra grinned. “I only hope that you live a long and prosperous life.”
“Right,” I replied with a wave of his hand. “Me too.”