The wrathguard crumbled to his knees, his roar of agony drowning out the sizzling of his flesh where Fÿnn’s mighty sword had been planted in his chest. The experience was traumatic for everyone involved, and the sound might have ruptured the poor paladin’s ear drums had the demon not been silenced at last by an arrow through its eye.
The body went still on the ground.
Fÿnn, covered in dirt and sweat, went to work wrestling his blade from the creature’s body.
“They’re fighting harder now,” he said as he gave a firm tug on the weapon. “They know this is their last stand, I think.”
Over to his left, Iliera stood, her face stoic and unmoving.
“I mean, they’ve never bothered to resist death before.”
“This world is soaked in the nether,” the voice of Vaeliera chimed in from a short distance away. “They die here, or at least they might. The truth is they don’t seem to know for sure, and neither do we.”
Fÿnn nodded solemnly toward her. “Thanks for the arrow.”
“You didn’t need it,” she replied. “I just wanted it over.”
Vaeliera was Iliera’s sister. Despite this, the two of them had lived two very different lives. While Iliera had lived on Draenor in a different timeline, Vaeliera had come from Fÿnn’s universe. She had lived through the sacking of Shattrath and survived on Draenor as a hunter and provider to others until the day the Alliance had come. In many ways, Vaeliera had lived a lonely life, and while meeting her lost sister in another timeline had no doubt been a positive feeling for her, it did not tend to the wounds of thirty years of loss.
In other words, she did not always share Iliera’s optimism, and since coming to Argus that had been both a blessing and a curse for them all.
“We should have been back by now,” Iliera said aloud, lifting her gaze from the demon and pulling Fÿnn’s attention back from his thoughtful reverie. “It has been days since our last contact.”
“We’ve made progress,” Vaeliera said proudly. “Nearly one hundred dead in our wake.”
“How far out are we anyway?” Fÿnn asked.
Vaeliera paused. “So ready for rest, are you?”
“Yes,” Fÿnn replied bluntly. “Look, I love killing these guys as much as the next guy, but I don’t remember the last time I slept and harnessing the Light is already hard enough here. These demons are really digging in and I don’t want them getting an edge.”
“Not soon,” Iliera replied. “How long? This has gone on enough. Take us back.”
“You’re a tracker and a hunter,” Iliera said. “Take us home.”
Vaeliera frowned and her hesitation confirmed what Fÿnn had been fearing.
“You don’t know how to get us home?” he asked.
The hunter spun away from the two of them. “I do. I am! It’s just… difficult.”
“So we’ve been wandering around here for days for nothing?!”
“I have been tracking, but we’ve mostly been following a demon hunting party. I assumed they would circle around toward some kind of activity where we could pair up with our people. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.”
“So we’re lost.” Fÿnn’s voice was flat. “Lost. Hungry. Tired.”
As the human complained, Iliera glanced down at her armor. She saw a crack in her breastplate and thought about the fel-infused blade that has nearly sliced her in two just the day before.
She had been reckless bringing them here.
All of this was her fault.
“I’m sorry,” she said to the other two. “If I had known this would happen I would have never broken us away from the main group.”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Vaeliera said, stepping over to her sister. “I wanted to come with you. If there was even a chance that we might find something here, it would have been worth it.”
Fÿnn slumped down next to them both and flashed one of his famous smiles. “It’s true. The chance to see your home again? To see where you might have been raised if it had all been different. It’s too tempting to pass up.”
“Well now we know,” Iliera said firmly. “If my parents had stayed behind. Our stories would have never had a chance to be told.”
“I don’t know,” Vaeliera countered. “Maybe we’d have survived here in the caves and fought on until the heroes of Azeroth came to aid us.”
“Perhaps,” Iliera said.
The group was silent for a moment, for a long moment, and Iliera took the opportunity to look around the desolate wastes of the Antoran lands. Her family had lived here for millennia before the fall of Argus. In a perfect world with no evil and no darkness, perhaps she and Vaeliera could have grown up here together and experienced what life was meant to be like for an Eredar.
That life, however, would never come to pass.
She pooled her emotions and quickly boxed them away, deep inside, where she could contain them until the day that she was back in Sionis’s arms. She would tell him all of these things, of course, and he would help her and hold her when she could finally allow herself a moment to weep for her people.
As she drew a final deep breath, she saw the glow of Fÿnn’s armor intensify, and then the ground around them erupted into chaos. A fel-blast pushed her through the air, her skin burning from the stings of fel that landed on her following the blast.
When she hit the ground it was with more speed than she had realized, and she tumbled sideways, rolling several times before she came to rest.
She pushed herself up, quickly reaching for her mace, but before she could grab the handle she was tackled by a felhound. Its teeth snapped inches from her face and she locked her hands over its mouth before he could take another bite. As she held it by its head, the beast clawed at her body, but her armor protected her from its grotesque claws.
She closed her eyes, focused her energy, and called down the Light with all her power.
The Light radiated from her body and the felhound recoiled as the energy burned it.
It backed off her and she seized the opportunity, twisted around, grabbing her mace, and whirling it around in a perfect throw that collided with the felhound’s skull, crushing it instantly.
She struggled to stay standing at this point. The world was spinning around her. She was still dazed from the blast that had sent her rolling down the hill.
“Fÿnn!” she shouted. “Vaeliera!”
She heard another whimpering up the hill a short ways. She rushed toward it and found a felhound lying there, two arrows piercing its body.
There was silence.
Where could they be?
Iliera searched for them both, but her mind was fading. It was like watching time itself slow down. As darkness crept inward from the corners of her vision, she tried desperately to call upon the Light once more.
“Where are you?” she tried to call, but her voice caught and she stumbled, collapsing onto the dry and cracked ground.
As the last of her conscience faded, she heard a distant voice call. “Iliera!”
It was Fÿnn.
He was reaching out to her… through the darkness?
“Iliera,” his voice echoed, ever so quiet. “They’ve got me, Iliera, but they aren’t going to kill me. Find me. Save me.”
“I know you will,” his comforting voice echoed confidently. “Oh, and don’t forget my sword.”
Then there was silence.
Ileria tried to move, to stand, but her body wouldn’t respond.
With that, she passed out.