Episode 40: Times Change...
A lot can happen in two years, but knowing a few big events in advance really means a lot of time spent in anticipation. When the mist-covered shores of Pandaria were discovered by the Alliance and Horde, I knew that time was running out. Meanwhile, the ever boisterous Garrosh Hellscream was leading the Horde down the most destructive path that I had ever witnessed.
Then, the destruction of Theramore.
It wasn’t that I had expected to know everything about the future, but after all that Nozdormu told me about building a strong future, I couldn’t believe that the destruction of Theramore happened at all. In the days after the deadly explosion, I half-expected that I would be contacted to travel back and stop the event. So many good heroes died in that fight. Unfortunately, as time pressed forward, I realized that the event was a branching point in the fight against the Horde. It was the moment when the whole world began to turn against Garrosh Hellscream. If the destruction of the city was halted, the result would likely be a totally divergent timeline where Hellscream committed some other horrific atrocity against the Alliance, or maybe one where things were even worse than what the dragon had warned me about in the caverns of time.
I distanced myself from the political dealings of the Alliance as Garrosh began to become public enemy number one. In fact, I made it a point to start researching Garrosh and his legacy. I was no fool in Orcish history lessons. I knew that Hellscream was a proud family name, one that had been important to Thrall before the formation of the Horde. Still, the more Garrosh talked, the worse things got in Azeroth and Pandaria.
Finally, the time came to remove Hellscream from his post.
The orc practically destroyed the Summer Fields in the lands of Pandaria in his search for endless power. The races of the world could no longer stand by and let Hellscream continue. They stood against his might and brought the fight against the gates of Orgrimmar.
Once Hellscream was arrested, I waited while the masses went to Pandaria to watch the criminal stand trial for his acts against the world. Resisting the urge to intervene on the trial and simply kill Garrosh, I instead decided to take one last trip to visit an old friend.
His name was Appoleon.
I had put the trip off for all this time, partly because of the difficulty in finding Appoleon. After the Cataclysm, the Forsaken had used their war machines against the citizens of Southshore. For a brief moment, I read through the report hoping that the old paladin hadn’t stayed behind to fight the attackers, but thankfully his name appeared under the known survivors list. Apparently, he had fled to another Alliance settlement called Hillsbrad Fields. There, they had tried to survive for a time before another onslaught of forsaken came to attack. Fortunately, the records showed that Appoleon had been smart enough to flee with the other Southshore survivors. This time, they retreated to Fenris Isle. The island had once been a prominent military facility that housed the great army of Lordaeron. After the fall of the great human kingdom, the island had been abandoned.
The records showed that Fenris Keep had been secured and then held by the survivors of Southshore and Hillsbrad Fields for a short time before the Forsaken caught their scent.
As the Forsaken prepared to launch an assault that would kill everyone on the island, the refugees were approached by Darius Crowley with a possible solution. If they drank Crowley’s blood they would become worgen, and the added military strength would make them a great ally for the Alliance. Help had been called from Stormwind, but the Forsaken were moving too fast. Realizing the only alternative was death, the refugees agreed to Darius’ plan.
They became the Hillsbrad Worgen. Fenris Keep was their home.
Fenris Keep: Silverpine Forest
When the gryphon carrying me finally touched down at Fenris Keep, I was happy to stretch my legs. I had been lacking a good set of wings since my magical horse had vanished years ago. I had grown accustomed to letting someone else do all the flying, though, and often slept on these long trips nowadays. I slid off the creature and stepped away, suddenly being overwhelmed by the darkness that loomed all around. Despite the fact that it was only midday, the thick clouds kept the Keep looking as gloomy as possible. I stepped outside the gryphon roost and discovered that the Keep was certainly in good shape. The walls had been reinforced since the refugees had reclaimed the area and fires burned in all the lookout towers while Alliance guards patrolled the towers. The populace was mostly worgen. That was policy in areas that dealt with the undead plague. I had learned that the magic surrounding the worgen curse could repel the plague, meaning that any worgen killed in battle could not be brought back to join the Forsaken.
Sionis had barely made it five steps when he heard a deep voice grumble.
“Sepher,” one of the nearby worgen growled. “Is that you, Sionis?”
I tilted my head and turned to face the creature. The worgen had golden blonde hair on his body and clutched in his hand I saw a lifeless deer. I couldn’t be certain, but I decided it was worth the risk. “Hello Appoleon,” I said adding a big smile to my face. “I told you that I’d come to see you eventually.”
The worgen dropped the deer and rushed to me, wrapping me up in a hug. As he held me there, his body began to change and the hair and fangs vanished as he transformed back into his human form. When he finally released me, he stepped back looking just like the old paladin that I had always known.
“I’m glad your alive,” I said, ignoring the transformation. “It took me a bit of time to track you down.”
“Me?” Appoleon asked. “You say that like you’re not the one that went missing before the Cataclysm.”
“You heard about that?” I asked.
“I’ve been keeping track of you for years, Sepher,” Appoleon said with a chuckle. “Besides, once ol’ Surfal showed up I knew something was wrong.”
“Surfal?” I asked, feeling shocked. “You mean my horse came to you after I disappeared?”
“Yeah,” Appoleon said as he returned to pick up the deer he had dropped earlier. “It took me a little time to figure out who or what he was when he showed up glowing and sporting a couple wings. The glowing eyes eventually made me remember.”
“Is he okay?”
“I dunno,” Appoleon admitted, looking sad for a moment. “I lost track of him when those blasted undead attacked Southshore.”
“That’s unfortunate,” I replied. “I haven’t seen him since I went missing.”
“Well, that blasted creature has had a lot of wild adventures,” Appoleon said. “I’m sure he’s out there somewhere making new ones right now.”
“I suspect you’re right,” I said with a firm nod. “So, aren’t you going to ask why I came to see you?”
“No,” Appoleon replied. “You either came because the world is about to end, or you’re about to retire. There’s nothing else that would have brought you all the way up here to nowhere land.”
I laughed. “You got it right.”
“So which is it?”
“End of the world.”
“It’s going to be something… unique.”
Appoleon led me across the Keep, not commenting on his words until they were inside where he could toss the dead deer on a table. He grabbed a skinning knife and then looked over to me with one raised brow. “I’ve got a wife and kids you know,” he finally said. “I can’t help you save the world any more. Besides, the worgen curse separated me from the power of the light. I’m no paladin now.”
“I didn’t come to take you from your family,” I replied. “I just wanted you to be prepared. What’s coming is going to change our world more than we could have imagined.”
“Is it another cataclysm?” Appoleon asked.
“No,” I assured him. “It won’t change our world in that way.”
“So, what’s coming?”
I couldn’t really think of a way to say what the bronze dragon had told me. In fact, there was an element of the story that even I still doubted. I wasn’t going to be able to make a clear warning, but more of a prophetic vision.
“I can’t say for sure,” I admitted. “It’s going to be big, and it’s going to have to do with Draenor.”
“The Orc homeworld?” Appoleon asked. “You mean Outland?”
“I, don’t know what I mean,” I grumbled. “I just know.”
“So what should I do? Retreat to higher ground?” Appoleon asked. I could see that he wasn’t busy working on the deer. The warning had made Appoleon give me his full attention. “I’m not a fan of running, Sepher, but when the undead came for Southshore I knew I had to get my wife out of there.”
“Truth be told, I don’t know if you should run or not,” I answered. “I just know you need to be prepared. The Keep is a strong place and you seem to have plenty of people here to defend it. Just try to stock those supplies and get this place ready. If there is another war on our hands, keeping the shelves stocked might be difficult.”
“You expecting another war? We’re already barely holding our peace treaty with the undead.”
“I wish I could say more,” I said, truthfully. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“So where are you off to now?” Appoleon asked.
“I’m not sure yet,” I replied.
“Oh, you’ll find an adventure, I bet.”
I chucked. “I suspect it will be quite the adventure.”
“Well you can worry about that later,” Appoleon replied. “Now come on. It’s time for dinner and I want you to meet my family.”
I suddenly smiled. “I would like that a lot.”
“Good, because I wasn’t giving you a choice, fire mage.”