Episode 19: A Change of Hands

Tanaris was a terrible place.

Gadgetzan was the heart of Tanaris. The corruption bled into the desert sands like a plague.

The Steamweedle cartel’s very own “city”. It had once been a secluded desert town, but the Cataclysm years ago had brought the shoreline much closer, allowing ships to dock, and trade had been booming in the area ever since.

As their Alliance vessel pulled into the harbor, however, Fÿnn saw that at least three other ships that were marked with Horde symbols. The Alliance had been eager for Iliera and her volunteers to get to Silithus. It now appeared the Horde was on the same page. His mother’s words played back in his mind and he stifled his concerned thoughts. Of course they would come to the sword. Everyone would.

He could see it now in the distance, the blade’s shadow was a monstrous monolith in the western sky.

He had heard about the blade, but seeing it was far more terrifying. To think that they had been fighting amongst such powerful beings just a few weeks ago. In the thick of it all, Fÿnn had never truly appreciated their situation. The titans had called upon them.

Titans. Creators of Life!

Forgers of exceptionally large weapons, too, it would seem.

“Fÿnn, come here,” Iliera called from the back of the ship. He turned and headed over to her, reaching for the wand in his satchel. After Theramore, he had revealed it to her and they had put it to use. It had guided them this far, slowly growing brighter each day. Now, it shown like a spotlight.

“He must be close,” Fÿnn said.

“We should scout Gadgetzan,” she replied, her voice slightly hesitant.

“I’ll go,” Fÿnn said, immediately.

“No, not into that place. It’s too dangerous for someone like you. A paladin of the Light is not welcome in these seedy locations. I’ll send Aebaloth and Ailyn.”

“I really think—”

“Fÿnn, sit this one out. You’ve done amazing work for us all, but we need to be low key here. This isn’t official Alliance business.”

The paladin held up his hands in mock surrender, then tucked the wand away in his satchel and took his leave. Iliera thanked him again as he left.

He looked down at his armor, its was over the top and glowing with holy power, as Iliera had pointed out. He would need to change if he was going to sneak off…

Ailyn and Aebaloth headed off the ship after sundown. Fÿnn waited a good half hour before he slipped over the side of the ship. He nearly missed the dock and went straight into the harbor, but he caught himself at the last second, recovering and stumbling onto the wooden planks with a thud. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice, so he slipped down the dock and started into the goblin city when he caught sight of Aebaloth coming back his way. He spun around, planning to go back to the ship, but then he saw that six people were gathering near the dock. Instincts kicked in and he hid among some barrels while Aebaloth passed by to intercept the people approaching the ship.

Fÿnn moved up a few barrels so that he could get a better look at the individuals, and as he got into a good position he heard Aebaloth talking.

“You should have contacted us,” the demon hunter said, talking to one of the individuals. “We have all been worried sick about you.”

“I know. I apologize for that. I’ve been organizing teams to get into Silithus and figure out what’s happening with that sword. I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s doing something to the planet.”

Fÿnn knew that voice all too well. It was Sionis!

“Not even a letter?”

“I said I was sorry, Aebaloth.”

“Iliera’s been worried sick. Fÿnn too. Where are the other survivors?”

There was a long pause. Fÿnn’s heart sank.

“Just you, then?”

“Just me,” Sionis replied.

Fÿnn edged himself around a large container, finally able to get a look out at the dock where Aebaloth was standing. He could see Sionis, now, and he saw that the mage was wounded. His arm was in a sling and his head was bandaged tightly.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Me too,” Sionis agreed.

“Well, let’s get back on the ship and on our way to Silithus. Then we—”

“I’m not going back to Silithus,” Sionis said, cutting the demon hunter off.

“What? You just said something dangerous is happening out there. We need you.”

“No, you don’t—”

“They need a leader.”

“They have a leader,” Sionis suggested. “Iliera has long championed that.”

“What about headmaster?”

“If the Academy lives on, it won’t be under my care.”

“Okay, fine. So you’re not leading the Academy anymore. Sure. What is your game plan, then?”

“Aebaloth, I…need to figure some things out.”

“And we’re all just on our own while you do that?”

Sionis smiled. “No. You’re never alone. Iliera and Fÿnn will be here if you decide to stand with them. Besides, I thought you liked being alone anyway.”

The demon hunter, for a brief moment, looked surprised. “I… suppose that’s true.”

Sionis’ smile faded. “I thought I felt something.” He spun around on the dock, facing directly toward Fÿnn’s location. “Alright Fÿnn, come on out,” he said casually. “I can feel you over there. We’re connected at the soul, remember?”

The paladin stood up, feeling rather ashamed, and came over to them.

“Iliera sent you out here too?” Sionis asked.

“I… not exactly.”

“Well come on,” he said, gesturing to the ship. “Let’s go see her.”

The mage turned to the others on the dock with Aebaloth. “We’ll sort out your passage on this vessel. You can go to Silithus with them.”

They nodded, silently.

Aboard the ship, Sionis and Fÿnn found Iliera hunched over at least a dozen scrolls wildly scribbling through one, pushing it aside, and then writing in another. When she looked up, she saw them standing there, and for a brief moment she went back to work before her body froze in place.

“Sionis?” she asked without looking up.

“Hello there,” he replied.

She stood straight, marched over to him, and slapped him across the face.

Then, she wrapped him tightly in a strong embrace and Fÿnn heard the air being pushed out of his lungs from her grip.

“Why didn’t you come home?” Iliera asked, pushing him away, but holding him at her arm’s length. “I was scared for your safety.”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Sionis said, running his hand over his bandaged head. “I can’t use my magic anymore.”

“What?”

“It’s just… poof… gone.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Me either,” he replied. “I assumed it was temporary, but it’s just not coming back. Once you lose the ability to teleport across the planet, you find yourself rather limited in your abilities. I stayed here and did what I could to recruit others to help in Silithus. I knew you’d show up sooner or later.”

A tear ran down Iliera’s face. “I’m so glad to have found you.”

Sionis reached up and wiped the tear away. “Good job on Argus, by the way.”

“We killed a world soul,” Fÿnn chimed in. “So, pretty epic.”

“Truly impressive.”

“The answer is no,” Iliera said now, her tone changing.

“Excuse me?” Sionis asked.

“You’re leaving again,” she said plainly, as though he had already stated it aloud.

Sionis gave a hesitant nod. “I have to, Iliera. I have to figure out what’s happened to me.”

The Draenai seemed less than convinced, but her face remained soft. “Where will you go?” she asked.

“Dalaran first, obviously. The Kirin Tor might know more. From there… I don’t know.”

“You will find your way back to me, Sionis Sepher?”

The mage’s face lit up a little bit at that question. “I always will.”

She placed her hands on his face, cradling his head. “Then travel safe, my Champion.”

“And you,” he replied. “That sword isn’t natural. Be careful in Silithus.”

“No, wait,” Fÿnn started. “We need you here. You can’t just run off!”

“You killed a world soul,” Sionis said offering Fÿnn a lopsided grin. “You don’t need anything I can offer.”

“This isn’t about fighting,” Fÿnn pressed. “It’s about the Horde and the Alliance.”

“What?”

“They’re out there in Silithus. The Horde.”

“Not surprising. There is a giant sword out there.”

Fÿnn shook his head. Sionis didn’t get it. He had convey the message his mother had given him in Theramore. He just needed to convince Sionis as she had convinced him. “Listen,” he said, his voice firm. You have to understand. The Horde is doing something. Who knows what? Maybe nothing. It doesn’t matter, though, does it? The Alliance is going to investigate too. Our two sides, out there alone, just asking to get in each other’s way. What do you think is going to end up happening?”

Sionis was quiet for a moment, then frowned. “A disagreement turns into a conflict…”

“Exactly. This is why we need you around. You’re a champion of peace.”

“Champion of peace?” Sionis asked. “Where did you get that?”

“I heard it somewhere.”

“I wouldn’t call myself a Champion of peace,” he replied. “I think Jaina was our best hope of that, and the door has closed there.”

“Then you’re our only hope.”

“Oh Fÿnn,” Sionis said, reaching out and taking the paladin by his shoulders. “You are a powerful paladin now. That young boy I met at Sentinel Hill has grown into one of the strongest wielders of the Holy Light that I’ve ever seen. You want a Champion of peace? Then be that champion. You aren’t a follower anymore. It’s time for you to find some followers of your own.”

Fÿnn’s eyes glistened as he absorbed the mage’s praise.

“Now, I have an important question.”

“What’s that?” Iliera asked.

“Is Syanna on board?”

“She is,” Iliera confirmed. “You need a portal? How does it feel to be like the rest of us?”

“Not great,” he admitted.

“Come on, then,” she said. “Let’s get you a ride out of town.”

The next morning, Sionis Sepher had gone.

Fÿnn sat on the bow of the ship, eating a piece of rubbery chicken and looking out at Gadgetzen with a mixture of awe and disappointment. The goblins had such potential at mechanical prowess, but their greed always seemed to get in the way.

“I still can’t believe you just let him go,” Aebaloth said, walking up behind the paladin with his arms crossed.

“Iliera thought it was the right thing to do,” Fÿnn said between bites. “Besides, he wouldn’t be much help to us if we dragged him around.”

“Perhaps not,” the demon hunter admitted.

“Not to mention, if we ever really need to find him, I’ve got that covered.”

“How so?”

Fÿnn smiled. “It just so happens that I have a wand that’s designed to find him.”

“I see…”

“He clearly blames himself for Silithus and the loss of so many Academy members. He just needs some time to figure things out. He’ll be back. I’m confident.”

“Is, uh, anyone else up yet?” Aebaloth asked.

“Not yet,” the paladin replied. “We’ll be pushing off—”

“I’m sorry about this, buddy.”

Before the paladin could react, Aebaloth dealt a blow to the back of his head.

Fÿnn went out like a light.

When he woke again, he was in a cot below deck and Barrus was standing over him.

“What… what happened!”

“Aebaloth, that’s what.”

“I don’t understand?”

“The best we can tell, he clobbered you over the head and bolted.”

“What? Why?”

“We were hoping you could tell us.”

Fÿnn shook his head, but then the blood drained from his face. “Oh no!”

The paladin scrambled out of the cot and rummaged through his belongings. He knew it was gone, but he still searched, hopelessly, until he had absolutely no reason to doubt it any longer.

The demon hunter, once a thief, had stolen his wand.

Fÿnn’s only way to track Sionis Sepher was gone.

“Fÿnn, what is going on?” Barrus asked. “Are you okay?”

“I’ve been better,” the paladin huffed. “Iliera’s gonna kill me.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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