Episode 1: A Little Reading Material

10,000 Years Ago…

The Academy of Nar’thalas. The gem of Suramar.

It was home to some of the greatest treasures known to the entire world. It was a bastion of knowledge and a beacon of hope for those who were weary and seeking in the ways of higher learning.

Of course, now, it was burning.

With Suramar city surrounded by a powerful shield, the demonic forces of the Burning Legion turned their attention toward the surrounding areas.

Nar’thalas was to be one of the first victims.

Instructor Delliana, a young and headstrong Kaldorei, rushed through the hallways as students criss-crossed her path this way and that. The ground rumbled and the horn blasts signaling the evacuation of the Academy rang in her ears, clearly amplified by magical influence. The Academy would not survive the assault from these foul creatures, this much she knew, but the knowledge in the great libraries of the school could live on.

She rounded a corner and saw a student pinned beneath a stone pillar. Her leg was crushed and she was weeping as hopelessness had claimed her. Delliana paused for a moment, wondering if she should help free the young girl.

No, she reasoned with herself. The books. The knowledge must be protected.

She rushed ahead, ignoring the student’s final pleas for help.

In the great library of the Academy, no fire had yet touched the thousands of books that were proudly displayed on the shelves. She went to work without hesitation, quickly swiping her wand through the air and sweeping up dozens of books at a time. She would shrink them down to no more than the size of a grain of sand. The entire library could be placed in a small satchel.

The call for evacuation must have sounded at least a dozen more times while she did her work, slowly pulling the books, shrinking them, and storing them away in a small bag. When they were all stored away, she quickly sealed the bag with a simple magical spell that would prevent anything that could destroy the books from getting inside.

Finally, she gave herself a mental pat on the back, stood to leave the emptied library, and the world exploded in a blinding light.

10,000 Years Later…

 

The ruins of Nar’thalas looked much the same as many of the Kaldorei ruins that Fÿnn had seen during his travels across Kalimdor as a teenager. The aged and cracked stones revealed beautiful craftsmanship and delicate design that had all been lost in the War of the Ancients. He hadn’t learned much about the ancient conflict, but the ongoing mission for the Alliance to retrieve the pillars of creation had led many an adventurer to this very place.

According to what little knowledge had been gleaned, the city had been utterly wiped out when one of the pillars was destroyed within Nar’thalas Academy. The explosion itself would have been enough to leave the city in ruins, but the energy released was tainted with the magical powers of the ley-line that ran beneath the city foundations. This magical power had captured the thousands of citizens who lived here, trapping their spirits and forcing them to wander their lost city for eternity.

Fÿnn served as an Ambassador for the Remnants of Hope, a guild of warriors, adventurers, and other members of the Alliance.  He had worked with many factions across Azeroth in the last few years, but befriending an entire city of ghostly spirits was new to him. Still, he took interest with these spectral figures because the knowledge that could be provided about the demonic forces was immeasurably valuable to the ongoing fight.

In fact, he had been directed by Prince Fardonis himself, to visit the derelict Academy, but all he had found there was an empty library.

“They’re all gone,” a Highbourne spirit said to him as he entered. “All gone.”

“What happened to them?” he inquired. “This room doesn’t look like it suffered much damage outside of the flooding.”

The spirit paused, looking around for a moment. “All gone.”

He frowned. He’d run into this problem with many of the spirits that wandered the city. While some had retained their memories, their ability to interact and communicate, there were many others that had seemingly just… given up.

“All gone,” the spirit repeated.

“I get it,” Fÿnn grumbled. “Where did they go?”

The spirit didn’t respond, but moved forward, pushing right through his body and onward into the hallways beyond the library entrance.

Assuming it to be a lost cause, Fÿnn turned to leave as well. That was when he heard another voice, this one hidden amongst the bookshelves. “Come and see.”

He lifted his mace, somewhat concerned at the voice’s calm tone. He had not yet been attacked by anyone within the Academy, but spirits were not always friendly beings. “You seek the knowledge,” the voice said from within the empty shelves. “Come and see.”

Reluctantly, he lowered his weapon and moved toward the shelves. Behind the first few rows of empty space, he found another spirit. She was not looking at him. She was knelt over a small bag, her ghostly hands pawing at it over and over again, unable to hold it in her hand.

Fÿnn stepped over and knelt beside her, quickly scooping up the small satchel in his hand. The spirit followed his motion and stood as he did, looking only to the bag and barely acknowledging his existence.

“What is this?” he asked. “Is this what you wanted me to see?”

“A simple bag,” she replied calmly. “Within, you will discover the secrets of our civilization. A simple seed of knowledge that can grow into so much hope.”

“Knowledge that we can use against the Legion?”

The spirit looked to him, breaking eye contact with the satchel in his hand. It was like she only now saw that he was in the room, that he was here with her, but the contact lasted for only a moment before she seemed to fade once more and returned to pawing at the ground, despite the bag no longer resting there.

Fÿnn tried to open the bag, but it wouldn’t budge. Not surprised by the fact that the bag was held shut with a spell, he pocketed the satchel and started to leave the library. The Kaldorei spirit remained, eternally running her hands over the spot where the bag had been.

Back at Dalaran, in one of the large halls of the Violet Citadel, Fÿnn was forced to turn to the Kirin Tor for help with the bag he had found in the ruins. At first the magi had struggled with the spell, but soon enough they weaved an incantation that stripped the satchel of its magical protection.

What they found inside was a coarse powder.

“What is it, exactly?” a mage by the name of Shantea asked.

Fÿnn shrugged. “A reagent of some kind?”

“Wrong!” a nearby gnome shouted, looking over the powder for a long moment before reaching into a nearby toolbox and pulling out what looked like an oversized magnifying glass. Fÿnn waited while the gnome leaned over the pile of powder, taking a much closer look before snapping a finger in satisfaction and handing the magnifying glass to the female mage. “It’s books.”

“Books?”

“An entire library worth, at least,” the gnome added. “I’d say they were shrunk down with some kind of arcane magic.”

“The entire Nar’thalas Academy library, right here in our hands.”

“So what do we do with it?” Fÿnn asked. “Can we make them normal sized again?”

“Of course,” Shantea replied. “I can do that, easy peasy.”

She pulled a wand and made a quick circular motion, followed by a sharp jab at the pile. As she did that, Fÿnn saw the look on the gnome’s face turn from mild satisfaction to one of grave concern. “Did you just cast that on all of these books?” he asked.

Shantea smiled. “Yes. I figured that would be best.”

With a pop and sizzle, one of the grains of sand exploded in size, making a perfectly formed tome with a beautifully etched leather cover. Another pop followed, and the first book, as well as a pinch of the other shrunken books, were thrown off the table by the force of the next book’s growth. Three more pops and suddenly Fÿnn’s brain realized what had happened.

“We gotta get out of here!”

He scooped up the gnome and pulled hard on the mage’s arm as he rushed away from the expanding books that were swelling up all around them. An entire library’s worth of tomes, spell books, and other scrolls grew around them. Each new explosion scattered more dust, more collections of books that then also grew. As the space in the room quickly filled, Fÿnn cut for the nearest door only to have a wave of ancient books cut him off.

“What do we do now?” Shantea asked, clearly panicked by the thought of being smothered to death by books. “I don’t want to die like this!”

“New plan,” Fÿnn replied. He moved close to the far wall of the building, the one which he knew opened to the outside world, and quickly called upon the power of the Light. With his mighty hammer, Fÿnn had slain countless enemies all across the Broken Isles, but today he struck against the stone wall of the Violet Citadel. The wall exploded in a burst of energy and sunlight poured inside to greet them.

A moment later they were practically propelled through the opening by the massive number of swelling books that carried them into the streets of the magical city. Looking over his shoulder, Fÿnn watched as books continued to be vomited from the opening as the library continued to grow.

He glanced to the mage, who was already starting to sort through the many books with a wicked grin. “This is amazing,” she said, clearly ignoring the mistake she had made inside the citadel.      “These books cover everything. This one is a cookbook. Over here we’ve got a guide to herbalism. By the Light, think of all the things we could learn from this!”

“We’ll need to catalog it,” Fÿnn replied. “More importantly we’ll need to store it somewhere. Maybe there are others out there than can help us research all of this and figure out what we can and cannot be used to help us in our fight against the Legion.”

“You brought an entire Academy back,” the mage said cheerfully. “I guess we’re the Academy now.”

“An Academy of Hope,” Fÿnn said, bending down to pick up one of the books that lay all around them. “Knowledge is power and we need all the power we can get if we’re going to win this fight. So… let’s get started.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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