I had expected us to travel with a convoy to Southshore, but Angus had no time for that, pointing out that there were practically dozens of convoys heading out of Dalaran now. Instead, we traveled by horseback. I took Surfal, and Angus had his white steed Snowflake.
Before we left, I sought out Lady Sonea one last time.
She embraced me for what felt like an eternity and then practically pushed me away.
“Goodbye, my little Sionis.”
I tried to respond, but she teleported away before I could get in a single word.
“Come along,” Angus said, his voice heavy with emotion. “Goodbyes only made the wounds hurt a little longer.”
We rode through the night, and only took a short break at sunrise before we rode on against the growing heat. Angus was set in getting us away from the magical city, no doubt because of the high elf’s warning that Dalaran was the next target.
When we arrived in Sourthshore, we were shocked by what we found. Dozens of small camps had popped up all over the harbor town. Refugees, likely many of which had come right from the capital, were sheltered here.
We used the main road, as crowded as it was, and found the fleet of ships that Jaina had secured for our expedition. There were dozens of them. Many of them bore the flag of Kul Tiras, and I couldn’t help but wonder if Jaina’s father had put his own kingdom at risk to help his daughter accomplish this mission.
“Will we be able to take all these people?” I asked.
“ As many as will come,” Angus replied confidently. “She has quite the fleet here.”
At the harbor the ship hand was busily trying to maintain a sense of order despite the circumstances.
“Names?” he asked when we approached.
“Angus,” the older mage said. “Kirin Tor.”
“Ah,” the man replied. “Got you here.”
“Sionis Sepher,” I said. “Kirin Tor.”
The man looked down the list and then nodded. “Right. Here you are. Okay, the two of you will be aboard the ship Silver Sword. It’s one of the larger vessels, down near the end of the harbor. Due to the circumstances, we’ll be setting sail within the next day, so please be ready to board.”
“Circumstances?” I asked.
“A few Kirin Tor teleported in just this morning to tell us Dalaran was under assault.”
“What?” Angus asked. “That’s impossible.”
“Lady Proudmoore has confirmed it,” the ship hand said. “Antonidas locked the place down with magical spells, but the undead army is less than a day away from here. The sooner we set sail the better.”
I couldn’t believe it. Dalaran was under attack. I had left just the night before. Had the undead been approaching from the north as I rode away?
“Come on, Sepher,” Angus said. “We need to buy some food for the trip.”
The old fire mage pulled me along until we reached the local inn. We went inside and once again found a cramped place, barely able to move freely in the structure.
Then I heard someone shout. “Three cheers for Appoleon!”
A crowd of people cheered and glasses clinked, followed by another cheer, and then a third.
“Enough of that,” Appoleon’s familiar voice shouted. “You haven’t stopped cheering since we got here!”
“Appoleon!” I shouted.
We moved toward one another, slowly, shoving people out of the way until we finally met. Appoleon wrapping me up in a bear hug as soon as he was close enough.
“You’re alive!” I said. “We heard about the capital and I thought the worst.”
“He saved us all,” another man chimed in. “We were done for, but then here comes Appoleon, swinging a mace like a true paladin of the Silver Hand. We’d all be dead if not for him.”
“That’s amazing,” I said, astonished. “I’m so happy you’re okay.”
“I can say the same to you,” Appoleon replied. “I assumed you were in Dalaran and I just heard they are under siege.”
“They are,” I confirmed. “We left just before the attack.”
“Well your Kirin Tor are strong. I’m sure they’ll hold off any attacks.”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Quel’Thalas fell to the scourge too. Dalaran is full of powerful magic, but what kind of magic must Arthas be using if he destroyed the elven kingdom?”
“Always the optimist,” Appoleon replied. “So you’ll be joining the expedition then?”
I looked up at him and nodded. “I will.”
“Good,” Appoleon replied. “I was worried I would have to make a new magical friend.”
I smiled slightly and Appoleon locked onto it. “There he is.”
“What now?” I asked.
“If only I knew,” Appleon replied.
The next morning, Angus and Appoleon gathered up our supplies while I lead Snowflake and Surfal onto our ship. There were dozens of others that came aboard, as well as tons of supplies that would go with us.
The sunlight was bright and the clear blue sky carried a cold breeze. If I had not known that the world was ending, I would have thought that this was a great day for a walk in the fields of the foothills.
Then, the smell came, burning my nostrils and making my heart stop.
We looked in the distance and saw smoke rising. I knew those were the cattle farms, many of which were nestled nearby to Southshore for ease of shipping meat to other cities. They were nearly here and time was running out.
We loaded as many as we could. Our ship became so burdened that most of the hull was underwater when we finally untied our ropes and sailed away from the shore. In the distance, we could see it; a black line, a wall of undead soldiers moving toward us.
The soldiers that had volunteered to stay behind moved to defend Southshore while we went to work on making the ships move faster, with the water mages altering the wind so that it would increase our speed.
We heard only the first of the desperate screams coming from the shore as the undead assaulted the small harbor. An hour later, it was water around us in every direction.
We had escaped the evil, for now, but what would come next I did not know. My thoughts lingered on the undead and how quickly they would spread to the southern kingdoms.
Such a plague would take time, and I could only hope…
I rushed across the ship and started digging through our supplies until I found my backpack, and the letter I had shoved in it days ago. It was from Uncle Maron, his response to my earlier inquiry about coming home or going on the expedition.
An expedition? Are you simply starving for adventure? Look, I know your Kirin Tor friends are powerful and wise, but I say, if you want to come back home to Stormwind, you come on back home. I’ll cook up a fat steak for you and we can go on a fishing trip down in Stranglethorn Vale, away from all this madness. What do you think about that? Anyway, you’re a young adult now, so just let me know what you decide and be sure to write back so I don’t get worried!Your favorite, Uncle Maron
I collapsed against my pack and tried to hold back the way of feelings. I could have gone home, I could have put all this behind me and right now I’d be back in New Stormwind, getting ready for a fishing trip. Now, on top of all that, with Dalaran under siege and me on a ship in the ocean, Uncle Maron would never know that I survived. He’d be left to wonder what happened to me and assume that I had been turned into an undead monster.
Unless… what Sonea said was true.
If this wasn’t retreating. If I was really marching toward a battle that would save our lands from the darkness, then this wasn’t forever.
We’d sail back home once we were victorious and reclaim what we had lost. Then I could go to New Stormwind and surprise Uncle Maron, and we could go on that fishing trip without fear of any evil coming to destroy us.
I gently folded his letter and put it back in my pack, knowing someday I would need to remember what it said so I could properly respond.
We weren’t giving up.
We were going to fight back.