Season 3 — Episode 6: The Beginning of the End

 

I spent the rest of the summer wallowing over my lost wand. It was stupid, of course, up until this point I had not once used it. Sonea had given it to me so long ago and I’d kept it boxed up and hidden away. I never took to wands in the first place, but even when it was required, I had purchased a simple wand in Dalaran to use in class because I didn’t want anything to happen to my gift.

Why I had chosen to bring it to the city with me was beyond me. In hindsight, I imagine all stupid decisions look far more stupid than they did in the moment.

It took me about a month to build up the courage to write to Sonea and tell her of the events that had taken place. When I got her response, I nearly laughed aloud. Like any good guardian, her first words were about how glad she was that I was okay.
Like Appoleon, she said she would speak to people she knew in the Capital and try to find the lost wand, but that she would give up every magical artifact she owned if it meant that I was kept safe.

Once I had her letter, things eased up a bit. I still held myself accountable for that strange night in the Capital, but classes were about to start and my studying once again took the highest priority.

It looked like it was going to be another easy year for me, with Angus still praising me for my efforts and encouraging me to tackle the higher difficulty spells that were only available to the more advanced.

The winter air came early that year, the twentieth winter since the first war.

There were set to be celebrations for the fall festivals, but they were cancelled due to the unexpected freezing air that descended on the city. By the time we closed out November you would have thought we were in the midst January’s harsh grips.

Then, on the second day of December, something awful happened.

Rumors of some sick farmers being brought to the city spread through the dorms like wildfire. The Violet Citadel finally admitted it was true, and that the sick had arrived and were being held at the infirmary. It seemed like nothing to fear, as many times sick individuals were brought to Dalaran for treatment, but these farmers had been close to Andorhal, which meant they had been brought rather far for treatment, which caused a level of concern among all the students.

In time, more rumors began to pour from the citadel.

The workers were violently ill, and getting worse by the minute.

They said the sickness might be magical, which explained why they’d been brought here in the first place. Several apprentices left the Citadel, speaking of the horrors, and stating they feared for their own health.

That same evening, we had one of the worst freezes Dalaran has ever experienced. An apprentice was found in a courtyard, dead. They said it was hypothermia that got him, the poor soul, but that didn’t stop rumors that the sickness was contagious.

The next word from the Citadel was that the farmers had died.

I thought this was good. That meant they’d bury the bodies and we’d move on with life.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Soldiers. Armed soldiers were suddenly surrounding the citadel. The whole facility went into a lockdown. Students in the dorms were ordered to remain in their rooms. I wasn’t allowed on campus. I have never seen a city in such a panic.

Suddenly, people needed to travel. They had family in New Stormwind, or they had always wanted to see the Capital.

36 hours after the lockdown began, it abruptly ended.

The soldiers stood down, the students were allowed to leave, and the leadership of the citadel prepared a public speech.

The farmers had been cursed and died very suddenly. With the death of a Dalaran citizen in the cold, they worried the sickness might be contagious, but had now confirmed that was not the case. Despite the unfortunate nature of the curse, and the deaths of the farmers, the city of Dalaran was safe.

That story would have been good enough for me, but the story was just too perfect for some of the others. Soon enough, whispers spread through the halls once again.

It was a magical plague, they said, unlike anything we’d seen before.

When the farmers had finally died, they had jumped up as reanimated corpses that attacked several individuals, who themselves became ill and died, only to become reanimated as well. It sounded like a story straight out of a horror novel.

Was such a plague even possible?

My attention to my studies was completely broken. I wrote a letter to Uncle Maron, explaining what I’d heard, but after I sent it I was contacted by the Dalaran authorities who said they had temporarily halted communication exiting Lordaeron, just until more light could be shed on the subject of the rumors.

Things only got worse after that, as the rumors turned into facts.

A terrible plague was spreading across Lordaeron.

When I read about the destruction of Hearthglen and the Order of the Silver Hand’s involvement, I wrote to Appoleon at the capital, just to know that he was well. He had quickly responded that all was well, that the nightmare was real, but it would be dealt with and the Light would persevere.

From the news, it sounded like the world might be ending, but every morning I still got up, had breakfast, and went to class. The city of Dalaran remained largely unaffected by the terror that spread in the North. Our grain and cattle came from the southern lands of Hillsbrad, so our supplies were not constrained as they were becoming in the capital city.

Angus, fueled by the news, began to teach with an increased fervor, showing me and the fellow fire mage students some of his most challenging spells. We utterly failed at producing the same results, but he encouraged us to practice, reminding us that fire would be an expert tool at combating something like a plague.

Magical or not. Fire was a cleansing power… a purging power.

I was still torn about whether I should be panicked or not when the biggest news reached our magical city.

Stratholme Sacked: Prince Arthas Purges the Plague

I looked at the headline and saw the burning wreckage in the image. The news was devastating. The entire city of Stratholme had been infected with the magical plague, but the Silver Hand had found and ended the source of the plague. Now, the Order would be responsible for helping to spread the power of the Light and reclaim the towns, villages, and cities that we had lost to the plague.

Prince Arthas had gathered a mighty force and sailed to the north, for the frozen continent of Northrend, where he promised his citizens he would end the party responsible for this mindless destruction.

We all waited for more devastating news, we waited to hear that the plague had survived, that we hadn’t thought of something, that we were still doomed, but the news ever came.

The horror stories had ended.

No more major cities fell to the plague. There were still losses, still concerns, but they dropped to the levels they had before this had started, when people worried about normal things, like what they would eat for dinner tomorrow.

I recall, I even went to one more party that school year.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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