Azsuna was such an unhappy place. The lost night elves of Narthalas, the demonic isle of faronaar, and the ancient blue dragons being assaulted by the nightfallen. It was all too much. Whenever Sionis was on patrol to this region, he felt like he was just looking at a lost cause. Until the Burning Legion was stopped, destruction and chaos like this would always linger.
“Hey Kaellax,” he said, taking a sip from his canteen as they moved along the west coast. “You see any of those naga around here?”
“No,” the woman replied. “Why?”
“Just seems odd. They’re always here when we patrol.”
“Well maybe they got tired of fighting us and—”
The sky darkened and Kaellax’s voice died off.
“What’s this?” Sionis asked.
From the sky, several infernals came crashing to the surface, rolling up into the monsters that Sionis had faced against so many times before. This time, however, he noticed that there were a lot of them. Far more than usual.
He saw Kaellax pull a small soul shard from her chest and look it over for a moment before turning back to him. “We fighting them?”
“This isn’t right,” he said. “We should get back to Dalaran and warn the others.”
“Right,” she said. “Let’s have it then.”
Sionis started to form a portal, but the energy crackled and fizzled. He tried again, but to no avail. He looked to Kaellax and she frowned. “What is is?”
“Some kind of magical suppression,” he answered. “I don’t understand how—”
“We meet again, at long last,” the dark voice boomed, cutting off Sionis’ thought. He’d heard that voice before. Once, long ago during the third war, and again during the Burning Crusade. Now, here on the broken isles, he should have known it was only a matter of time.”
“Hello Xer’Thraxis,” he said, lowering his arms.
“It took some time to plan this out,” the dreadlord growled, appearing from behind a nearby hill. “When you and I faced one another on Azeroth, all those years ago, you set a fire inside of me that I have long desired to snuff out.”
“Yet you keep failing,” Sionis replied.
“Today, you won’t have anyone coming to save you. Today it’s just you and me.”
“Fine,” Sionis replied. “Let Kaellax go and we can get this over with.”
“Don’t mock me,” Xer’Thraxis snapped. “My infernals will deal with her.”
“Well bring it on,” Kaellax shouted. “I haven’t got all day.”
The dreadlord smiled. “Your wish is my demand, warlock.”
The infernals started marching forward without hesitation. With magical suppression, there would be little that Kaellax could do to stop these monsters.
“This is how you’ll exact your revenge?” Sionis asked. “Tell me, Xer’Thraxis, what did I do to limit your powers when we last met? Did I not let you fight to your full potential?”
“You would have bound me if you could have,” the dreadlord replied.
“So that’s it. You’ll squash me like a bug, powerless, because you are scared I can defeat you? Or is it because you know I’ll defeat you?”
“Swear that you won’t use magic to slip away,” Xer’Thraxis replied. “If you do, then I will let you fight.”
Sionis couldn’t believe it, the dreadlord was more prideful than he could have hoped. “Sure.”
The dreadlord reached to his shoulder and squeezed the suppression stone that he had there. Immediately, Sionis felt magical energy flowing into his body once more. He responded with an immediate fire blast, which leveled at least six of the infernals that had nearly closed in on Kaellax.
“No,” Xer’Thraxis yelled. “You fight me, Sionis. The infernals are your warlock’s problem.”
Sionis turned to Kaellax and she nodded firmly. If a fight was what this dreadlord wanted, then a fight is what he’d get.
The two lunged into battle, Kaellax at the infernals and Sionis right at the dreadlord. Fire and shadow swirled through the air as both allies landed hit after hit against their foes. Sionis was impressed with how many blasts actually hit the dreadlord before the foe shielded himself with his mighty wings.
A few more blasts and Xer’Thraxis was forced to take a step back. Sionis couldn’t help but wonder if he was actually pushing back the demon on his own, or if there was something more going on here than he understood.
Meanwhile, Kaellax was busy fighting the infernals, but it was clear that she was becoming overwhelmed. Sionis knew his dragon was flying around nearby. He could call for the beast and it could fetch them both, but escaping would be difficult with this many foes.
Xer’Thraxis spread his wings now, revealing a slightly charred chest and face. “Is this the best you can muster against me, mage?”
“Not even getting started,” Sionis replied, starting to conjure a fire blast. “I think—”
The fire vanished from his hand. He looked up at Xer’Thraxis in just enough time to see the wing flap coming straight at him. He hurtled through the air and landed not far from where Kaellax was now struggling to dodge an infernal’s attack.
“He put the suppression back up,” she shouted.
“What are you doing?” Sionis yelled.
“You’re stronger than I considered,” Xer’Thraxis replied. “Truth be told, I do not want to go back to the twisting nether again. I am done with you and your foolish resistance to the truth. The Legion will destroy your world and you will be destroyed with it.”
Kaellax was at his side before he knew it. She pulled him up and leaned in close. “Portal to the twisting nether. How long?”
“If I can use magic, seconds,” he replied. “Why?”
“That’s where we’re going.”
Kaellax thrust her stave into the ground and an energy bubble popped up around them.
Sionis felt magical energy returning to his control.
“Portal now,” she shouted.
“Why not Dalaran?” he asked.
“It’ll take too long to stabilize. We only have seconds here.”
Sionis did as she said, snapping open an unstable portal that would fling them into the Twisting Nether. “What’s the endgame here? Without an anchor point, I won’t be able to get us back home.”
“I’ve got that handled,” she said. “Put your arm around my waist.”
“Because I’m about to die. Grab me, and fall back into the portal.”
Sionis frowned. “Okay?”
Sionis positioned himself between Kaellax and the portal that swirled behind him. He watched her funnel her life energy into her stave, and then her lifeless body fell backward into his arms. As she collapsed, so did the bubble of magical energy around them.
Despite his concerns, Sionis did as he was told and fell backward, slipping into the Twisting Nether. As the portal snapped shut, Sionis could see Xer’Thraxis screaming in rage, clearly aware that he had, once again, lost his chance to kill the mage.
The Twisting Nether is a realm between the physical worlds. Time doesn’t have meaning here, and as such, Sionis couldn’t gauge what time it was, or how long it had been since he fell through the portal. He had, of course, been stuck in the Twisting Nether once before. For a few fleeting moments he had lost himself in a teleportation and nearly lost five years because of it. In this situation, he had no way of anchoring himself back to the physical realm. It was clear that Kaellax had a plan for them, but she hadn’t explained it very well before she turned into a lifeless corpse.
So he waited.
He could conjure food and water and he soon learned how to sleep despite floating in nothingness. He talked with Kaellax some, knowing that she wasn’t going to answer. It was a nice distraction, but he soon missed her snarky comments.
Then, after what felt like a year, or ten thousand years, or a day, a new portal erupted into the Twisting Nether, not more than twenty feet from where they were floating. A moment later a demon hunter night elf came flying through the opening with a rope tied around his waist.
“Hello?” Sionis asked.
“My name is Aebaloth Wraithborn,” the demon hunter said. “I’m here to rescue you.”
“No kidding?” Sionis asked.
“Iliera sent me. I’m with the Academy of Hope.”
Sionis smiled. “Impressive. Alright, well come on over.”
With a pull at the arcane energy flowing through the portal, Sionis grabbed Aebaloth and pulled him toward them. The demon hunter quickly tied the rope around Kaellax’s body and then took hold of Sionis.
“You ready to get home?”
Sionis nodded. “Very much so.”
The demon hunter tugged on the rope. A moment later they were pulled ever closer to the portal until they finally tumbled through and back into the physical realm.
Sionis hit the cobblestone street and immediately felt winded. All that time floating had left his body feeling a little unprepared for all this gravity. He rolled over and struggled to his feet and that was when he saw Iliera crumple to the floor. He called upon his arcane energy to strengthen him and stepped over to where she was just as she got to her knees.
He reached down and lifted her chin. “Miss me?”
Her embrace reminded him why he was alive, why he fought against the Legion and all the evil that threatened his world.
He was back.
And he was ready to fight.