Two massive rocks slammed into the ground from overhead, crumbling against the cracked floors of the room. Fÿnn, the human paladin, had just finished a daring escape from the rubble and slid to a stop on his side, looking around for his hammer. Iliera, the Draenai paladin, lowered her shield, having not even moved from her position while the rubble had bounced harmlessly off her magical shield of protection. She gave a half-grin toward the massive demon that stood no more than twenty feet from her.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” she said as the last of the debris slid off her shield. “I came prepared to—”
“You will never defeat me, little girl,” the demon’s voice thundered. “I am—”
A flash of Light hammered the demon across the face, followed by the blunt end of Fÿnn’s mighty mace. He was holding the handle with both hands and Iliera was surprised he had managed to get that far into the air.
“Shut your dirty little mouth!” Fÿnn shouted as he slid down the demon’s chest and landed firmly on his feet. “She wasn’t finished yet.”
The demon responded with a firm kick, one that sent poor Fÿnn sailing across the room and into the stone wall of the structure. Iliera was worried, for a moment, but the human had enough sense to throw a protective bubble around himself, and the wall did little more than stop his momentum.
“Enough of your foolish behavior!” the demon shouted again. “What is it you want?”
Iliera stood her ground, looking over the demon and wrestling with her own internal drive to simply smite the creature where he stood. It was the right thing to do. The Light within her ached to end this being’s existence, but she thought of the soul shard in her bag and she quelled the feeling for now.
“I want information,” she said.
“Information?” the demon asked. “You seek knowledge from me?”
“I am looking for Sionis Sepher. What have you done with him?”
The demon’s eyes widened. “The mage?”
“Then, you are not alone.”
“What do you mean?”
“We seek the mage as well,” the demon replied. “His body escaped us in Azuna, but my master is not deterred.”
“Xer’Thraxis the mighty,” the demon said. “He seeks revenge against Sionis Sepher.”
Iliera saw Fÿnn appear in the corner of her eye. The young paladin was up and already charging the demon again. He was a champion, but he was not the greatest at strategizing his attacks.
“You’re going down, clown!” Fÿnn shouted, cracking his mace against the demon’s knee. The creature growled in rage and swept his massive hand toward the young human. Fÿnn responded by practically flattening himself on the ground. The demon’s swipe missed, and Fÿnn was on his feet and scrambling up the demon’s leg before the beast could counter.
Iliera was impressed with the human’s mobility. He practically shimmied up the demon’s torso and was standing atop his shoulder in mere seconds. She realized too late, however, that Fÿnn’s heroic antics had actually worked, and her conversation was about to be cut short.
“Wait,” she shouted. “I need information!”
Fÿnn either didn’t hear her, or he didn’t care. His hammer came down against the back of the demon’s head with a crunch that echoed in the cave and sounded like a rock landing in a shallow puddle.
The demon’s eyes went blank, and he crumpled to the ground with Fÿnn riding him the whole way down. Just before crashing into the dirt, he leapt forward, rolled with the momentum, and slid to a stop mere inches from Iliera. He smiled up at her with a boyish grin.
“Woo! One more demon bites it,” he said proudly. “Nice work!”
“Fÿnn,” Iliera started, still looking at the demon’s corpse. “Did you not hear me?”
“Oh I heard you alright,” he replied. “Great tactic. He was all like confused and junk, which gave me the perfect opportunity to just roll up in there and crack his head. We’re a great team!”
“I was serious.”
Fÿnn froze. “Say what?”
“I was trying to find out what he knew about Sionis Sepher!”
“Sionis Sepher? The famous mage? How do you know him?”
“We fought together on Draenor,” she snapped, then raised a brow. “He was going to be the headmaster of the Academy until he went missing. Wait. What, you knew him?”
“Yeah, well, sorta. He was friends with my dad in Theramore when I was just a kid.”
“Seriously?” she pressed. “Who is your father?”
Fÿnn smiled. “Well, I don’t know my biological dad. There was a human paladin that was always really nice to me, though. His name was Appoleon.”
“Impressive,” she said. “I didn’t realize—”
Green swirling portals snapped into existence in at least three places within the cave before Iliera could finish her statement. From each one, three demons emerged, each one holding a massive weapon.
“What do we do?” Fÿnn asked. “There’s a lot of them.”
Iliera didn’t speak for a moment, and then she reached out and grabbed him by the arm. “You stick close and follow me. Do you understand?”
Without hesitation, he nodded.
“We’re going on an adventure.”
She twisted sharply and slashed through the closest demon. Fÿnn was right behind with a mighty swing of his mace, sending another demon back to the nether. That left one demon standing between Iliera and the portal that it had used to arrive here. Iliera lifted her shield, closed her eyes, and charged forward full speed.
“Right behind!” Fÿnn shouted, following her lead.
She slammed into the demon so hard that it stumbled backward, and the three of them tumbled through the fel portal together.
On the other side, the demon landed on his back, with Iliera sandwiching him to the ground with her shield. Fÿnn came out of the portal and planted his feet right on her back, making all of the air in her lungs rush out of her mouth with an almost comical wheeze.
“Don’t worry, Iliera,” he said proudly. “I’ll keep us…” he paused. “Oh, no one is here.”
He stepped off her back and she quickly scrambled to her feet. The demon beneath her was still, probably killed by the force of the impact. She spun around, confirming what Fÿnn had pointed out; there was no one to be found.
With a sudden fizzle, the fel portal behind them snapped shut, and Iliera realized there was nothing but wasteland as far as she could see. The sky shone with millions of stars, and swirling energy twisted through the heavens above.
“Oh man,” Fÿnn said. “I don’t think we’re on Azeroth anymore.”
“It was a trap!” she growled.
“Too bad we don’t have a mage,” he replied, still looking around.
Iliera fished through her bag and retrieved her hearthstone, a magical rock that was bound to an anchor point on Azeroth. She gripped it tightly, but the magic didn’t ignite.
“We’re too far for it to work,” she said slowly. “I just led us straight into a trap and now we’re stranded out here.”
“I wouldn’t beat myself up,” Fÿnn replied. “We’re not even sure where we are. There might be another way to get home.”
Iliera, feeling defeated, started to put her hearthstone back in her pack, when she caught sight of the soul shard. They were stranded out here, with no food, no magic, and only the Light to sustain them in the darkness of space.
“We’ll die out here,” she said.
“Nah,” Fÿnn said, strangely calm about all this. “Someone will show up. The demons won’t just leave us here. They’ll turn up, and when they do, we’ll just steal their portal.”
Iliera was surprised she hadn’t thought of that. The demons wouldn’t just assume that she had been defeated. They would come here to verify, and when they did, she would be ready.
While they waited for what Fÿnn was certain was their escape plan, Iliera discussed the human paladin’s past a little more. Sionis had spoken of Appoleon before. The two had been childhood friends and fought together in the Third War. To meet a young human that knew Sionis as an “older person” was a new development for her.
The bigger question, which Iliera hoped she could research more, was why a demonic dreadlord would be after Sionis. What kind of adventure had the mage been on that had set such a powerful foe against him? She contemplated on this for a while, hoping that she would have the opportunity to ask him herself.
On the other hand, if Fÿnn was wrong, and this was how they would die, she hoped she would not have to dwell on the thoughts for long.
Fortunately, Fÿnn was, once again, right on the nose about his hunch. Not more than five hours passed, just long enough for the human to start complaining about being hungry, before a portal snapped open not far from where they were resting.
Fÿnn and Iliera were at the ready in a moment, weapons drawn and ready to jump through the portal before their enemies could close it. Then, the blue hue of the portal stabilized and a familiar mage stepped through.
“Saphira?” Iliera asked.
“The one and only,” she replied.
Behind the mage, the demon hunter Kelynve emerged. She smiled at Iliera for a moment, that annoying smirk that already answered Iliera’s question without further explanation.
Saphira offered it anyway. “We were sent to find you two when you didn’t report back. Kelynve here felt your spectral presence and the remnants of a fel portal. All I had to do was trace the magical energy through the nether and connect the dots.”
“In other words,” Kelynve simplified. “I found you. Thanks to me, you’re alive. I saved you.”
Iliera’s blood nearly boiled. To think that a fel being like this was responsible for her salvation?! It was enough to make her see red.
Fÿnn, on the other hand, seemed pleased. “That’s mighty fine detective work,” he said as he walked their way. “Just in time too. I am hungry.”
“Did you find any information on Sionis’ location?” Kelynve asked.
“No,” Iliera replied sharply. “The only thing we know now is that the demons don’t have Sionis. They talked like he had escaped.”
“An interesting development,” Kelynve replied. “A demon hunter at Ilidari Perch has contacted me. She said that she knows more about Sionis’ location. She has requested that we come to her.”
“She couldn’t share the information?” Fÿnn asked. “Sounds like a trap.”
“Or she knows something that she needs to keep hidden from prying eyes and ears,” Iliera suggested. “If this demon hunter knows more about Sionis’ location then I have to speak with her. The demons are still hunting for him, which means we have to find him first.”
“His body,” Fÿnn added.
“They said his body escaped.”
“Well we have this soul shard.”
“Which is just a shard,” Kelynve said. “His soul may already be in the hands of the demons.”
Iliera felt a hole opening inside of her. An urgency building within. She had to find him, she had to protect him and bring him home to Dalaran.
“There’s no time to waste,” she said firmly. “We will report back to the Academy and then travel to Illidari Perch.”