It turned out that the Kul Tiras navy had some magic users as well.
They must have put protective barriers on the the jail cell because when I tried to use my magic to break us out I rebounded the spell right back into my body.
It hurt a fair amount, but since I was floored so quickly I didn’t get a chance to build up any real power. So, in other words, I woke up with an intense headache and a fair amount of regret.
And I hurt.
I groaned as I tried to get up.
Sellia was sitting next to me, the small boy resting in her lap.
“Welcome back,” she said casually. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m alright. Just… tired, and confused.”
“You’re still a naive little boy at heart.”
“We’re all friends,” I said. “We should be helping each other.”
“No,” she countered. “They’re not friends with the Horde. They didn’t make the alliance we did. They hate the Horde and they just showed up to see us hanging out being friendly with the people that murdered them back home.”
I knew what she was saying. Before Hyjal, I only knew the orcs as the creatures of the old wars. If I had seen one back then I wouldn’t have asked to be friends. Then again, if I found others and they vouched for the orcs… would I have listened?
“What about Jaina?”
“We don’t know,” Appoleon answered. “The Horde sent some people to ask what was happening with the attacks in Durotan. Jaina met with them and explained it wasn’t us. After that she traveled off with a small expedition to investigate the camps. She returned just in time to warn us about who was coming. Next thing we knew the city was on lockdown. Anyone in the city guard was told to stand down. Those of us that didn’t were arrested on the spot.”
“Admiral Proudmoore served in the second war,” Sellia added. “He lost his son to the orcs. There will be no reasoning with him.”
I wish I could tell you that we came up with a plan that night that would set things straight and end this awkward turn of events, but that wasn’t the case.
We spent almost two full weeks locked up in the keep. For what it was worth, the Kul Tiras soldiers never beat us or treated us as anything less than human. We were fed and sometimes even got apologies from the soldiers keeping watch.
Appoleon never failed to remind them that he was happy to accept the food he grown in his town before these Invaders had come to Theramore. I know the officers didn’t like to hear it, but Appoleon spoke the truth. They tried to tell us the Horde was the enemy, but it wasn’t the Horde that had us all under lock and key.
Then, on our twelfth night in prison, there was a sudden clamor upstairs on the main level of the keep. We weren’t sure what to make of it, but we all hoped it might be the rest of Theramore rising up against our new oppressors. Unfortunately, after the commotion died down, there was only silence.
“What was that about?” Appoleon asked, looking up the stairwell.
I shrugged. “Maybe someone slipped?”
“Not likely. Something definitely—”
There was an audible click and we all turned to the jail cell door to see a Night Elf standing there with the door’s lock in her hand and a sinister smile on her face.
“Keaira!” I said aloud.
“The one and only,” she replied. “Come on, we need to move.”
We all shuffled out of our cells and followed Keiara up the stairs and into the main hallway of the keep. When we hit the top of the stairs I saw what looked like the largest orc I had ever seen in my life.
He was wearing a wolf skin that covered his face and he held two axes that were both soaked with blood. Dead Kul Tiras soldiers littered the floor.
I looked at this warrior and he looked at me.
“Get them away from Theramore,” he said to Keaira. “The Horde is coming soon.”
“What?” Appoleon asked, his fists clenched. “What is going on? You came in here and murdered these people?”
“The Horde is coming,” Keaira said. “There’s nothing more to explain right now. We have to get you to safety.”
“There is plenty to explain,” Appoleon countered. “Like that monstrosity for one.”
The orc warrior only smiled.
“Then explain I will,” Keaira added. “As soon as we’re out of here.”
Before anyone else could speak, a sound not unlike deafening thunder rippled through the air and the ground shook. The building rumbled and dust and dirt fell from the rafters of the keep.
“We need to run,” Keaira said. “How can we get out of Theramore?”
“The tunnel?” I asked.
Appoleon nodded. “The tunnel.”
It wasn’t well known that Theramore had a tunnel running beneath the island and into the swamp lands to the west. Appoleon and some engineers had constructed it in secret following the first orc attack after we arrived on the island in case of another invasion. I knew about it since I had helped haul out tons of dirt using portals.
Keaira helped organize the prisoners.
We armed ourselves with weapons and shields from the fallen Kirin Tor soldiers.
Two more thunderous impacts shook the keep as we prepared.
“What is happening out there?” Appoleon asked as he pulled a helm from one of the dead.
“They’re taking out the ships,” Keaira replied. “Without the blockade, the Horde can break through and attack Theramore.”
Her words broke my heart. “Why are they attacking?”
“Do you remember the camp we found?” she asked me. “That was just one of dozens. The Admiral’s fleet had dozens of scouting parties sent out and the Horde was caught entirely by surprise. They took loses and they started pushing back, so the Admiral retreated here. Now they’re coming to finish the job.”
“But Theramore isn’t responsible for all of this,” I said loudly. “The Horde doesn’t need to fight us.”
“The Admiral has taken control of the city,” Keaira replied. “Sionis, I’ll explain more when we’re safe, but we have to go. Now.”
I took a deep breath. I didn’t like this at all, but what choice did I have? We had dozen of innocents with us, and no matter what, the Horde was coming to Theramore. We would help these few escape, and then Appoleon and I could figure out what to do next.
We stepped outside of the keep expecting to be confronted by more soldiers, but we found no one waiting for us. In fact, there was no one nearby at all. Instead, the masses had started to gather near the docks. I stepped that way since my curiosity overwhelmed me.
There, just beyond the shallows, at least six ships burned.
The Kul Tiras fleet was nearly wiped out.
I rushed back to the group and urged them toward the tavern.
The Inn had a large basement that had been dug out for storing all kinds of food, and the operation had been the excellent cover for hauling out more and more dirt for the long tunnel that stretched under Theramore’s walls and the water barrier before rising back to the surface inside the swamp.
Appoleon and I went first at the exit, quickly using my fire to lit a small path and scare away any creatures that might be lurking nearby. Once the coast was clear, we pulled the others from the tunnel and then put out any lights, to cover ourselves from the approaching enemy forces. We slipped through the muggy swamp until we found a rock outcropping where I could build a fire that no one would be able to see unless they were close by.
We secured the placing and then waited for everyone to get settled in before we left Sellia in charge and headed up to the top of the rocks to get a better look at Theramore. When Keaira and I finally reached the top and looked out at the island, we saw the burning ships in the distance, and we saw new ships coming in from the north.
“That’s the Horde approaching from the water,” she said, pointing. “There will be more forces coming from the west,” she added, waving her hand toward the main city entrance.
“So why are you helping them?” Appoleon asked.
“If you had seen the destruction the Admiral had caused, you would help them too.”
“The Horde caused plenty of destruction too,” Appoleon replied. “The Admiral—”
“Around and around the circle of hatred goes,” Keaira said, waving her finger in a loop. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. What matters is these old hatreds have to die. In this case… it must be killed.”
“How will the Horde know who to kill?”
“They aren’t pursuing any civilians. They’re going straight for the Admiral’s command structure. Jaina Proudmoore supplied them with all the data they need. They will silence the Admiral and then demand the humans stand down. If they do, they will leave in peace.”
“Right,” Appoleon said. “Like that ever works.”
“In the meantime,” Keaira added, reaching into her robe and pulling a small purple crystal from within. “We have this.”
“What is that?” Appoleon asked.
“A mana beacon,” I answered.
“Refugees incoming,” she said with a wink.
I didn’t partake in the Siege of Theramore that unfolded through the night hours and into the morning. Instead, I was in charge of channeling power through a mana crystal that Jaina, and the other surviving Kirin Tor mages with her, used to teleport citizens and soldiers alike to the swamp. There Appoleon and others quickly disarmed and arrested any Kul Tiras soldiers while arming the Theramore citizens that had been targeted by the new arrivals.
There are many that say the Horde is bloodthirsty and without reason, even to this day, but that night I watched as the tribes and races of the Horde acted with precision and discretion. They pinpointed their enemy’s position, they carved a path to Admiral Proudmoore, and they allowed Jaina to teleport as many as she could to us in the swamp.
They killed only those that stood to fight them despite the circumstances.
I know that Theramore is gone now. I know that it was destroyed by the Horde.
If we tell the truth, however, we know that it could have been destroyed much earlier than it was, but it was by Thrall’s hand that, when the Admiral was slain, the Horde stood down and retreated from the island.
We suffered our losses, to be sure, but the vast majority of those slain had been from the Kul Tiras ships that Daelin Proudmoore had brought with him to Kalimdor.
After the Horde left, we rounded up the wounded and the defeated and tended to their wounds. A handful of ships remained in our control now that the Admiral’s forces had been dealt with, so Jaina had one of the vessels prepared for departure and loaded with all of those that had chosen to stand with her father during the battle.
Many of us in Kalimdor had come from Lordaeron as passengers, but many more had come from Kul Tiras to begin with. This confrontation had been particularly painful for them, and while the vast majority understood why this had happened, there were still several of those from Theramore that opted to return to Kul Tiras on the ship Jaina provided.
Meanwhile, I found myself standing on the dock as the ship was being loaded, with my eyes locked on one of the beaten and bruised of the Kul Tiras fleet.
I made my way over to him and he looked up at me with anger and hatred in his eyes.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” I said to him as I tried to hold back some anger of my own.
“You made your choice, mage,” Barion replied. “The Horde cannot be trusted. Admiral Proudmoore was trying to protect us, and you fools were played by the enemy. Mark my words, Sionis Sepher, the Horde will betray you someday. When it happens I will laugh from the deck of this very ship while I watch your home burn.”
“You’re wrong,” I said, so confident. “Your people tried to break a peace that changed our world for the better. We will overcome your hatred and find peace in our alliance.”
“The best of luck to you,” Barion said, turning to be escorted onto the ship. “If you ever find your way to Kul Tiras, I will kill you myself.”
As Barion walked away, I felt doubt creeping up within me.
Hatred is a hard thing to kill.
What if there were other Admiral Proudmoore’s out there?
What if the Horde grew tired of Theramore and invaded as they had last night?
Would we ever truly be safe?
When the ship set sail that night, I sat at the docks long after the others had left and watched the vessel shrink into a dot on the horizon. Nearby, the other ships had been brought into the natural harbor and were moored to our docks. It wasn’t a very large grouping of ships, but all things considered we had a stronger naval force than we had weeks before.
“It’s been a rough few weeks,” Appoleon said, nearly making me jump.
“The Southern Kingdom still stands,” I stated.
“Lieutenant Barion, before all this turned south, he told me that Stormwind had survived the plague and the destruction.”
“You don’t believe that do you?” Appoleon asked.
I shrugged, my eyes locked on one of the smaller ships tied to the docks. “I know how to find out.”
TO BE CONTINUED…