I spent the better part of the week thinking over what Angus had said about the expedition and about what Sonea had told me when she said that the plague wasn’t over. I had initially brought up the expedition to Sonea, but she had been tight lipped on any advice of what I should do, or where I should go.
So, instead, I had written to Uncle Maron about the whole thing. His letter was due to arrive any way, but then the messenger arrived from the Capital City, and everything was thrown into chaos.
Arthas had returned as expected. The parades had been prepared, the celebrations ready to commence. Instead, from what the messenger had gathered, the Prince had killed his own father, right there in the throne room.
Then, Arthas revealed his forces, a new army of undead that seemed to work under his will. They slaughtered hundreds, and as those citizens fell, Arthas made them rise again as new soldiers in his growing army.
By sundown, the city had been completely sacked.
The Violet Citadel had thought about restricting this news, but they soon realized it would do them little good. Instead, they announced it to us all publicly. The Kingdom had been betrayed by its own. The nobility was lost. Any sign of order that had been established after the plague would evaporate in the coming days.
I tried to take in the news. There was just too much for me to comprehend. Arthas had been a hero of the Alliance. He had stopped the plague. Appoleon had been at the capital when Arthas returned.
That night, I wept.
Like the guardian angel I had once known, Sonea seemingly appeared from nowhere and covered me in her arms. Holding me as I cried for the loss of my friend, for so many innocents, and for the end of the world that I knew.
“Is this what you meant?” I asked. “When you said it would all change?”
“Yes,” Sonea said, a tear running down her own face. “And it will only get worse.”
I didn’t sleep that night.
The morning came, and like any other morning, the world continued to spin on. It’s funny, in the novels and stories, the world always just sort of ends, suddenly and with a loud band. Here in Dalaran, things seemed the same as ever. The cows were brought in for the slaughter, students went to school, and businesses were open and operating. It didn’t make sense to me. The kingdom had fallen. Weren’t we all supposed to be running for our lives?
In class, my fellow students had lost their resolve. For me, the passion for the loss of my friend made my fire magic glow stronger than ever. Angus, truly impressed by my skill, once again called out to me when he dismissed the others.
“Have you made a decision?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I thought hearing about the capital’s destruction may have swayed you,” he replied.
“It only makes me more concerned,” I said. “If I leave, and this plague gets worse, what will happen? Will New Stormwind fall? Will Uncle Maron be okay? Shouldn’t we be staying here to defend our homes?”
“All good thoughts,” Angus said.
“Any input?” I pressed.
“If you stay, and this plague gets worse, what will you do? Our capital city was full of the strongest warriors, the most powerful paladins, and even some pretty tough mages. They fell in a single day.”
“So this expedition is a retreat?” I posed.
Angus chuckled. “I believe many will say so, yes.”
I thanked him and left the room.
Back at home, Lady Sonea was busy again, scribbling away as she often did. When she heard me close the door she twisted around and gave me a comforting smile. Despite her seemingly quick decent into madness, she always dressed well and spoke calmly. She was not the typical stereotype of what one expected when they mentioned a crazy person.
But crazy she seemed to be, none the less.
“How was class?” she asked.
“Interesting,” I replied. “No one seems to be enjoying themselves anymore.”
“Many people are thinking of the capital.”
She nodded. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“How are you?”
“Confused,” I said honestly. “Angus wants me to get on a ship and sail away.”
“With Proudmoore’s expedition?”
“Is that really what it is?” I asked.
“In a way, yes,” she responded.
“That’s it,” I said angrily. “I want the truth.”
Sonea grimaced and then her face relaxed slightly and she took a deep breath. “Fine.”
“You’ll tell me?” I asked.
“Not all,” she said. “Some.”
I couldn’t believe it. I threw down my things and came to sit next to her.
She looked me over for a second and then took another deep breath. “Jaina sails toward destiny with her fleet of survivors, Sionis. You will find land, and in this land you will find allies. Together, and only together, will you be strong enough to stop that which Arthas has brought to our lands.”
“What land?” I asked. “What allies?”
“This I cannot say,” she replied. “I can only tell you that you do not flee from battle, my wise and powerful Sionis. You sail toward it; toward a battle that will save our world.”
“Okay,” I said bluntly. “Let’s say this is all true. How do you know this?”
Sonea closed her eyes. “I saw it. I have seen this future.”
“With a vision?” I asked, trying to understand. “Like tapping into the arcane energies? I thought that was forbidden, and highly unreliable?”
Sonea, eyes still closed, only shook her head. “How I saw this future is of little concern. What matters is that I have seen it. I know what will happen.”
“So, we’ll all go,” I said. “We can all sail across the sea and fight this battle.”
A tear slid down Sonea’s face. “That’s not how it works.”
“You cannot change history, lest you risk losing the future you know.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that you must not speak of what I told you. You must sail with Jaina across the sea and you must win this victory, for us all.”
“Where will you go?” I asked.
“I will stand here with Antonidas and the others.”
“Will Dalaran fall?” I asked.
Sonea chuckled slightly. “In a way, Dalaran will emerge stronger than ever.”
“But you,” I said, pushing the topic. “You will die?”
Sonea frowned. “The remains to be seen.”
“This is madness,” I said. “You can’t do this.”
“I can, and so can you. Sionis, you are a wise young man, and I am so very proud of you. I know that you will stop this evil from spreading. I know this, because I have seen it, but even if I were blind to the future, I would be confident in trusting you with this.”
My gut was twisted in knots. Nothing made sense anymore. I stayed here in the quiet room with Sonea for a few minutes and then stood and went to my room. Behind me, Sonea continued to scribble feverishly against the parchment on the table.
The next day, the ground shook beneath our feet.
A quel’dorei mage appeared in Dalaran a few hours later. The sunwell had been corrupted. The elven kingdom of Quel’Thalas had been destroyed. Silvermoon city was sacked, and Prince Arthas would now set his sights on Dalaran itself.
Classes were cancelled.
Many of the older mages were put on high alert and called to the attention of the Kirin Tor. Others, like Angus, began packing their belongings. I went to my teacher’s dwelling in the citadel and he opened the door to let me in before rushing back to his wardrobe.
“I leave for Southshore this very evening,” he said firmly. “Will you be coming with me?”
I nodded. “I will.”
“Good,” he replied. “These are dark times, Sionis Sepher. I dare say you will be one of the most experienced fire mages left in the Kirin Tor if we survive this.”
It was a retreat then, not an expedition, not a mission to save the future. This was the Kirin Tor admitting defeat and preparing to flee to safety.
“Should we sail to Gilneas first?” I asked.
“Gilneas has already sealed their gates against the scourge that marches in Silverpine forest. No, Gilneas will have nothing to do with us. We must sail west.”
“What about New Stormwind? Surely there are plenty of mages there that—”
“Sionis,” Angus said, reaching over and grabbing me by the shoulders. “We sail to the west. Jaina Proudmoore has spoken of something to the Council of Six, something bigger than just running away. She says we will find a new land in the west.”
“And allies?” I asked.
“Did she say how she knew this?”
“A prophet spoke to her,” Angus mumbled as he released me and went back to packing. “Antonidas said the same prophet had spoken to him before, but at the time he did not believe his words.”
“His?” I asked. “The prophet was a man?”
Angus nodded. “Yes, why?”
I shook my head. “No reason.”
“Good. Now get home and get packing Sionis. We leave for Southshore tonight.”
“Right,” I replied, my energy suddenly spiking. “I have to pack.”