Fÿnn, the human paladin, stood over a desolate landscape.
This place, however, was not the foreign world of Argus, or the corrupted lands of the Broken Shore. This had once been his home.
When the remaining Alliance forces had returned from Argus aboard the Vindicaar, they had quickly discovered that their world was not the same as it had been when they left. The demons, having suffered the ultimate defeat at the Burning Throne, were in full retreat. There was plenty of fighting left to be done all across Azeroth, but nothing had drawn the immediate attention of the races of this world more than the enormous blade that Sargeras that thrust into the planet’s crust before he was snatched away by the other titans.
The rumor was that Silithus had been completely destroyed by the weapon’s impact, so much so that it had revealed something beneath the surface. Iliera’s first job when she arrived on Azeroth was to call together all that remained of the Academy of Hope. When they had answered her call, she found less than forty members had survived the Burning Legion’s final assault on our world.
When Sionis never reported back, she started to get worried.
Finally, Macksyn a pandaren monk in the Academy reported that Sionis had gone to Silithus during the final hours of the conflict.
The monk explained that the mage had “felt something” out there.
Maybe it was a temporal flux, or just a buildup of arcane energy in the nether, but whatever it was, Sionis had gone to it. He had intended to help prevent it, but he couldn’t have known the power behind it or what was coming his way. In the aftermath, it was likely that he and any of the other Academy members that stayed with him were lost.
Iliera, however, was not one to surrender so easily.
She quickly gathered Academy volunteers and set them to sail across the sea. There, in Silithus, they could begin a search for any Academy survivors.
Fÿnn was one of the first to sign up.
That had been days ago.
Now, here he stood on the shores of Kalimdor… on the edge of despair.
On this shore, the ruins of Theramore were still used as an Alliance waypoint to stop and check supplies, or make any quick repairs, after weathering the ocean.
When they had stopped here, Fÿnn had promised himself he wouldn’t go near the ruins, opting to stay on shore, but eventually his curiosity got the best of him.
As he walked through the ashen soil, he made sure to avoid stepping on the seedlings of new life that were sprouting up from the fertile grounds. New life from the old.
So many people had died here.
So many innocent lives had been lost, and for what purpose?
Despite working alongside them to defeat the Legion, Fÿnn still felt uneasy about the Horde. No doubt because of this act of villainy, he would never fully trust them. Then again, he had met many blood elves and tauren paladins that had helped him across the Broken Isles and on Argus. They weren’t all bad. He knew that.
It didn’t help him feel better when he arrived at the empty spot where his home once stood. It had been an older wood house, so there was nothing left here to see. Just a pile of ash. His mother might have been here, huddled up, scared and uncertain. More likely, however, she was at the city gates, defending Theramore from attack.
He turned away and looked at the other ruins. There were still several large stone structures that had somewhat survived the blast. They hardly resembled their former shapes, but the heavy stones hadn’t been obliterated by the bomb.
He started to move around one of the structures, the blacksmith, maybe. It was hard to remember the layout without any other markers around.
Then, Fÿnn stopped short as he heard a gentle whisper in the air.
Inaudible words, but words.
He stood still, trying to focus on the sound.
Again, quiet whispers danced on the edge of his hearing.
He turned toward them, or at least where he thought he heard them, and moved back to where his house had been. Slowly, he took careful steps. The whispers grew louder, but no more audible. He couldn’t make out what he was hearing, but he was hearing it for sure.
As it grew louder, he stepped ever closer.
Then, he caught sight of a yellow glow coming from the soil ahead.
He moved over to it, the whispers building into a solid stream of words. None of them made sense, but he could hear them now. Actual words.
He reached down, brushing the ash away to uncover… a wand.
The moment his finger touched it, however, the whispers ended and the yellow light faded.
For a moment there was nothing, but then the wand ignited into a golden flame and from the tip spouted an image, almost like a floating projection.
The golden light took shape and Fÿnn recognized it to be his mother.
“Fÿnn, my son.” the magical image said with a smile. “If this message reaches you, then it means I was killed at the siege of Theramore. I am leaving this for you, stored within this powerful wand, so that I can give you a proper farewell. First and foremost, my son, I love you so very much. These are dark times in our lands. The Horde once fought alongside us to stop a terrible foe, but left to our own devices, I fear we are tearing ourselves apart. This is not the world that I want to live in. Like Jaina Proudmoore, I want peace to be our guiding force. Together we can be strong. I want you to remember that, my son. We must seek peace if we hope to survive. The Horde that assaults this city, that is not the Horde I knew, and it does not have to be the Horde that you know. There is more at play here. Do not allow my death to darken your heart. Use it to highlight the error of turning on one another when we could be working toward a greater goal…”
Fÿnn’s heart was breaking.
His mother had died years ago, long before now, but her words still carried a universal weight. The peace she sought had never come. The Horde had grown into a monstrosity and the Alliance had fought to put down the Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. Her death had been avenged, but peace had never come. Maybe it never would.
“This wand,” she continued. “It once belonged to a young mage named Sionis Sepher. Before him, it was held by the powerful mage known as Lady Sonea Everheart. She enchanted it, you see, to locate her young protege when he was a child. In my darkest days, when the undead came to Lordaeron, this wand led me to Sionis. In turn, he led me to Theramore. While he and I did not always see eye to eye, he has long held true to Jaina’s ideals. Peace is our only chance at survival. It makes us stronger. So, as my final request to you, dear Fÿnn, I ask that you find Sionis Sepher. Together, the two of you can fight for peace. Fight for what’s right. He will keep you safe.”
As tears streamed down Fÿnn’s face, he looked down at the wand. If there were such a thing as fate, it was revealing itself to him right now. His mother had wanted him to find Sionis Sepher, but he had never gotten this message. He had never known to seek out the mage, and yet he had found Sionis nonetheless. The mage had kept him safe, just as his mother had always wanted. Sionis had introduced him to Iliera, and shown him that there is more than one side to every story.
As always, his mother was right.
“Finally, my son,” his mother added. “Do not mourn for me. I am so thankful that you are not here in this battle. A mother never wants to see her son in danger. I know that such a goal is a lofty one, but I am confident that in time, you will be one of the greatest paladins of the new order. You will keep people safe, and maybe someday, new mothers will sleep in comfort, knowing that their children will not know danger.”
There was a brief pause. She was crying.
“When you’re ready to find Sionis,” she said. “Hold the wand in your hand and simply say his name aloud. It is already enchanted to do the rest. The light will grow stronger as you get closer to him. Never lose sight of the true goal, Fÿnn. Peace. Safety. I love you, my son.”
The wand’s glow faded, and the image of his mother disappeared.
He stood, alone now, and cried for what felt like an hour.
When his mother had passed, he had taken no time to mourn. He had bottled the pain and used it to focus on his training. He had worked and fought and ignored the rest. It had never been real until now. Deep down he had almost convinced himself that Theramore was still out there across the sea. That his mother wasn’t dead.
There was no avoiding that now.
So he just stood there and let the tears flow.