We hit the ground hard over the last hill between us and the outpost that was being assaulted. At the crest, we both saw the the main ship was staying off the coast, but several smaller boats had nearly made landfall.
Soldiers with guns in hand were ready to open fire on the Orcs, who were valiantly building protective barriers. That wasn’t normally something they would do, after all.
Then, I realized why.
Two small children were being rushed away from the onslaught.
I urged Surfal forward and we ran down, right between the to sides. Keaira, without a word spoken between us, knew what needed to happen. As we rode full speed along the beach, I threw my best attempts at an ice barrier, which grew from the water’s edge, blocking the attackers from their targets.
Keaira, with the clear skill of an experienced druid, waved a hand and vines erupted from the ground, growing and spreading, interweaving tightly together to form a living wall of protection for the orcs.
“We need to stop them,” I added. “The wall won’t hold.”
“I’ll stop the orcs. You stop the humans.”
“Good on you,” I replied.
She leapt from Surfal’s back and the flowering wall opened to let her pass through. I circled around my pitiful ice wall with Surfal and saw most of the humans in the small boats had already reached shore. They all whipped to face me and one of them might have even taken a shot.
“Stop!” I yelled.
They didn’t respond, but they did stop.
The noise and clamor coming from the orc encampment also started to die down and I knew that Keaira was getting them to stop too.
“Are you one of the demons?” a human asked.
“Of course not,” I replied.
“That’s what a demon would say.”
“Well it’s also what I would say,” I snapped, my voice more firm. “My name is Sionis Sepher. I’m a survivor of Dalaran. Who are you?”
“Lieutenant Genier Barion of the Kul Tiras navy,” the man replied.
“Kul Tiras?” I asked. “Of course!”
The island nation off the coast of Lordaeron. It was a protected place that would have likely not been involved in the plague that swept the Eastern Kingdoms. To think that others had survived suddenly filled my heart with an explosive emotion.
“Tell me,” I said, nervous to even ask. “Is your kingdom safe?”
“Aye,” Barion said confidently. “Lordaeron has fallen, but the Southern Kingdom and Kul Tiras escaped the tragedy.”
“The Southern Kingdoms?”
“Yeah, the plague reached the highlands, but didn’t stretch far beyond. The Stormwind militia was better prepared for the onslaught and when the demons stopped coming, well the undead stopped coming too. We have a long fight ahead of us, but the war is over.”
Barion had no idea of what had happened out here. How could he?
“How did you make your way to Kalimdor?” I asked.
“Came to find survivors like you,” Barion said proudly. “Admiral Proudmoore has sent a fleet of ships to get his daughter and other survivors out of harm’s way. We finally heard rumors that you had made your way across the ocean to a new land. The Admiral had to know.”
“Well we did,” I said with a slight grin. “We came here, we fought the demons, and we won the war.”
“The demons were here?”
“There’s so much you haven’t heard,” I continued. “For example, firing at these orcs.”
“These mongrels,” Barion corrected. “They stole ships that could have carried survivors of Lordaeron, and sailed off to save our own sorry lives.”
“They helped us,” I said, my voice cool, but revealing. “The orcs became an ally against the demons. Many of us stood beside them in a great battle. We made peace after that. The world has changed for the better.”
“No,” Barion countered. “The world hasn’t changed. It sounds like you survivors gave in to desperation and fought alongside our enemy to save yourselves. I can’t judge you for that. You’re standing here, alive and well. What I can say, is that no orc is ever going to be an ally of Kul Tiras.”
“Fine,” I said. “No need to change your mind now. Let’s head back to your ship and I’ll guide you to Theramore Isle. Lady Proudmoore is there.”
“Our mission is to—”
The world exploded.
I spiraled through the air before landing on my head in the beach sand. Had it been a harder surface I would have likely died on the spot. My ears were ringing when I finally pulled my head out of the sand. I could hear the dull yells of screaming and battle cries. Guns fired. A crackling of electrical energy whirled through the air. I started to stumble onto my feet and I saw a Kul Tiran officer running my way. I assumed they were going to help me up. Instead, they lifted their weapon into the air and slammed the butt of their gun into my face.
When I woke, I was inside a cage.
I looked around, but as the room seemed to shift left and right it didn’t take me long to realize what had happened.
“Oh, he’s awake,” I heard someone say.
I turned as Lieutenant Barion came into view. His face was bandaged and a line of blood had soaked into the bandage, which ran from his forehead, down his cheek, and finally ended near his ear. He looked me over with his one exposed eye and then grimaced, as though the very sight of me pained him.
“What’s going on?”I asked.
“My soldiers were caught off guard because of your tricks.”
“My tricks?” What?”
“That little stunt you pulled, telling us to lower our arms, letting the enemy get into position to hit us with everything they had. We barely escaped with our lives.”
“I didn’t pull any tricks,” I said, standing as best I could within the metal cage. “I was serious. The orcs weren’t our enemy.”
“Tell that to the corpses we left on that beach,” Barion said.
“Who shot first?” I countered, my blood starting to boil.
“Excuse me?” Barion asked, moving closer to the bars that separated us.
“I asked who shot first.”
“We saw an enemy encampment. We took action. We—”
“You killed children,” I spat, my mind filled with the shocked looks on the young faces. “You attacked civilians and forced that outpost to defend itself. Those soldiers died on your watch.”
Barion’s hand slipped through the bars faster than I expected. He had me by the throat and pulled my face forward so that it slammed against the bars. It hurt like the devil, but my adrenaline was already pumping.
I reached up and grabbed his wrist, letting my fire magic swirl through my arm so that it burned to the touch.
He recoiled and I saw his face twisted up in rage.
“I should have known you’d be a Kirin Tor bastard,” he said.
I shot a fireball that slipped right through the cage and slammed the Lieutenant against the wall. Normally I wasn’t one to see myself as loyal to any entity, but in this case, too many people from the Kirin Tor had given up their lives to save my own. I owed them that defense.
“The Legion would have destroyed us all if not for the Kirin Tor and Dalaran,” I said, resting my hands on the bars of my cage and making them red hot with my fire. “I can tolerate your filth for only so long, Lieutenant.”
The two guards that had been standing with Barion looked like they weren’t sure if they should try to contain me or run away. I liked that. A lot. I wasn’t going to hurt anyone, not when there were so few of us left, but knowing that Barion didn’t have full control of the situation pleased me.
“I didn’t work with the orcs to attack you,” I declared. “I saw the attack and I intervened to stop any more bloodshed. It’s regrettable that the orcs decided to press the assault. For that, I am sorry. Regardless, it does not change the fact that the old conflict is over. For you to come here and reignite it would spell only further death and destruction for us all.”
Barion stood silent, still leaning against the wall where my fireball had pushed him.
“If it were up to me, Sionis Sepher, I’d have you thrown into the ocean in that cage,” he said, his voice strangely calm. “As it stands, however, my mission isn’t to murder traitors. I am to bring any survivors back to the fleet. There, I’m confident you’ll receive the justice you deserve.”
“Where is the fleet?” I asked.
“In Theramore,” Barion said with a grin. “We just got word that we’re to head there.”
The news was exhilarating… and terrifying.
I was happy to be going home, but I was going home as a prisoner. I would no doubt be charged with assaulting an officer, colluding with the orcish horde, and who knew what else. All of my hopes would rest on Jaina Proudmoore.
I took a deep breath, and tried to calm down.
When I was finally taken above deck, I saw something far worse than I had hoped. Parts of Theramore looked like they were… burning! The Kul Tiras fleet was much larger than I had considered, with ships surrounding the harbor and coast in any direction.
We came to the dock and a gangplank was extended. Lieutenant Barion gripped my arm tightly as we walked to the edge of the ship, but instead of disembarking I saw three others coming on board.
“We received word you fell under attack,” one of the men said as they reached the top of the ramp. He was an older fellow, with a thick white beard and a rather over-the-top naval hat that matched the color and trip of his uniform. “How many did you lose, Lieutenant?”
“Six officers in all,” Barion replied.
“And the prisoner you captured?”
“Here,” Barion said, pushing me forward. “A mage survivor from Dalaran. He claims he was not working with the orcs, but I am not so sure.”
“A human?” the bearded man asked. “What’s your name?”
“Sionis Sepher,” I replied. “This is all a misunderstanding. I’m sure Jaina—”
“Alright,” the man said, cutting him off. “Put him with the others.”
“The others?” I asked.
“You’d have thought you would be more grateful to see us,” the man added.
“I am grateful,” I replied. “What is happening here? We’re all friends!”
The older man looked me over, as though trying to read my emotions. I was confused, genuinely confused, about all of this. Why did it look like Theramore had been attacked? Had the horde already come to seek blood after Barion’s assault?
“I’m afraid I couldn’t disagree more,” the man finally said. “Put him with the others.”
I was pulled across the dock, across our dock, like it was some kind of foreign land. The faces had changed, different soldiers were stationed where the Theramore Guard had been before. They all wore the anchor symbol of the Kul Tiran navy.
I didn’t fight the escort. They led me straight to the keep and down into the stockade.
When they finally shoved me into one of the cells, I found that it was already rather packed. As they locked the door and walked away, I turned to face the dozen or so other prisoners in my cell, and saw that the cells on either side were equally packed.
“Welcome home,” a familiar voice said.
I looked up and saw Sellia. She was holding onto a small boy with blonde hair and bright blue eyes that were wet with tears.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Daelin Proudmoore,” she said. “He came to find his daughter and now he’s taken over.”
From behind a few other prisoners, Appoleon stepped forward. I barely recognized him without the thick plate armor that he sported these days. He looked like he’d been run over by a dwarven steam tank.
“They are putting anyone they see as conspirators in prison,” he explained. “He’s been attacking the horde and they’re starting to rally against him. It’s chaos out there. Theramore is in danger.”
“Then we need to get out of here and help,” I said, twisting around to the metal bars. “I can melt right through these and we’re good to go.”
I heard Appoleon call for me to wait, but my hands grabbed the bars before I understood. It felt like a bolt of electricity slipped through my body. Uncomfortable for a split second and then I was out like a light.