Time passed after Admiral Daelin Proudmoore had been put down by the Horde. Theramore Isle had not returned to normal, but anyone could tell that most citizens were eager to put the whole mess behind them. Most of them had not learned what I had learned before the whole thing went down. To almost everyone in the budding settlement, we were still some of the last humans on the planet, but now with a potentially hostile nation of Kul Tiras out there too.
There was a little bit of fear that Jaina’s decision to let the survivors leave might come back to haunt us someday, but I was with her viewpoint that even if the Kul Tiran navy decided to attack, they would first need to build a fleet, assemble a new army, and then sail all the way back to Kalimdor to assault our stronghold. Meanwhile, they would be painfully aware that we might call upon our Horde allies to help defend our home if needed, which would definitely turn the tide of any engagement.
No. For now, Theramore Isle was safe.
My thoughts, however, had not been focused on the soldiers of Kul Tiras. Instead, I had been trying to figure out how I could get back to Stormwind. At first I had thought of stealing one of the boats, but the last thing I wanted to do was draw the ire of Lady Proudmoore.
So instead, I decided my best mode of attack was a direct approach.
I asked Appoleon what he thought about my scheme, but he only shook his head.
That would be the most support I could get.
So, I took a deep breath, and did the unthinkable.
I asked for an audience with Jaina Proudmoore.
Much to my surprise… she accepted.
I was a bundle of nerves on the day I finally got to speak with our leader. I knew Jaina had things going on and she was no doubt wrapped up in a million plans and meetings and who knows what else, but I had to add one more thing for her to think about.
I stepped inside the tower and saw her sitting at a wooden desk, not far from the entrance. Her hand rested on her forehead and she looked like she might set the whole desk ablaze. Then, when the door squeaked, she looked up at me and her face instantly melted into a compassionate look.
“Greetings,” she said, looking over some notes. “Are you… Sionis Sepher?”
“What can I do for you, Sionis?”
I had considered how I was going to address the topic once I finally got into the room, but suddenly I felt at a loss for words. My hands were sweaty. I felt like a school child that had been asked to speak to the whole class. I thought I might not make it, but then I thought of Stormwind, of Uncle Maron, and my strength was resolved.
“It’s about the Eastern Kingdoms,” I started. “Lady Proudmoore, when I was scouting the beaches before Admiral Proudmoore’s attack, I met and interacted with the crew of a Kul Tiran vessel. When they spoke of survivors, I was shocked to hear that the Southern Kingdoms also survived the plague of Lordaeron.”
Jaina’s brow furrowed in contemplation.
“I have family in Stormwind, my Lady. I would very much like to see them again.”
“Tell me,” she said. “You are of the Kirin Tor?”
“You were in Dalaran, then? When the plague came?”
“I’m sorry you had to witness that violent end. I lost my teacher the day Dalaran fell.”
I felt my heart start to ache. I had lost Lady Sonea that day too.
“My Uncle in Stormwind,” I said. “He found me when I was already a teenager. We were the only family that the other had. He was kind to me and loved me like a father. If he lives, then he has lived with the thought that I perished in Dalaran. I… I want him to know I am here.”
Lady Proudmoore stepped out from behind her desk and paced the floor. I knew I was being selfish. I knew that Jaina had watched her father die mere weeks ago. She, no doubt, wished that her father had not come looking for her. He would still be alive and none of this awful destruction would have come about.
She paced for a long time. Back and forth.
Finally, she spun around and looked me square in the eyes. “I will allow you to take a handful of volunteers,” she announced. “You can have one vessel. We have a sloop that will cover great distance in short time.”
I couldn’t believe it. She was going to let me go?
“My Lady, I can’t thank you enough.”
“Your expedition will scout the Eastern Kingdoms for any survivors. You heard a rumor, Sionis Sepher. We do not know that Stormwind stands.”
“If you find Stormwind… if the kingdom yet remains… it will change things.”
“I will find Stormwind. I will tell them of the survivors. I will tell them about the Horde and the alliance we have forged. I will warn them, too, so that they don’t try to come and fight like your father did.”
Jaina drew a deep breath and closed her eyes for a long moment. “Very well, Sionis Sepher. You have my blessing and one of our ships. Prepare your crew. I will organize the proper supplies for your trip based on what we needed to come here.”
“Yes, my Lady.”
She gave me a slight grin. “You’re dismissed.”
I burst out of the mage tower and rushed down to the blacksmith where I knew Appoleon was crafting armor sets. Ever since the Horde invasion he had been working on ways to strengthen Theramore’s defenses.
As far as he was concerned, there wouldn’t be any more invasions. Not on his watch.
“She’s letting me go,” I said proudly.
“What?” he asked, pulling a helm from the flames. “She said yes?”
“That’s right,” I proudly replied. “I got a ship. I got supplies. We’re sailing away!”
“Oh, uh, Sionis. Listen, I’m not going with you.”
“What?” I asked loudly. “You have to go with me!”
“I wish I could, but you and I both know Theramore Isle needs to be prepared. If not for the Horde, then for the Kul Tiran navy, or maybe the goblins. There are too many threats out there and these people need all the help they can get, which includes mine.”
“You always were a softie,” I said.
He shrugged. “Guilty as charged.”
“Well, I guess I’ll need to find other crew members.”
“Hey,” Appoleon added. “You will find my dad though, right? Let him know I’m alive?”
“Yeah, I can do that.”
With that, Appoleon threw down a face cover and went to hammering away on the metal helm, slowly shaping it into another perfect piece of armor.
From the blacksmith I made my way to the stables, where I knew I would find Keaira and Surfal. The two of them had become close friends and often rode together during the daylight hours. I knew Keaira would want to go with me across the sea, but I needed to hear someone be excited about securing the passage, so I defaulted to her.
“We get to travel across the sea?” she asked, her voice rising. “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard in my life.”
“I know, right?”
“Will we see new plants and trees and animals?” she asked.
“I’m sure we will.”
“This is great! What an adventure!”
Her excitement did exactly as I had hoped, stoking the fires of excitement within my own heart. I was going to get to go home! I was going to see my Uncle again and tell him that I was okay, that I didn’t die, and that I could work on the farm with him until our dying days.
We talked about our homes for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening hours.
A fair amount of time passed before the boat was finally ready, the crew assembled, and our mission in place, but when that day finally arrived, I stepped aboard the vessel with thousands of butterflies swarming in my stomach. Appoleon and dozens of others had gathered together to bid farewell to the first exploratory vessel that would scout the Eastern Kingdoms for survivors.
We had been warned to steer clear of Kul Tiras and Lordaeron, so the plan was to come in from the south and ride up the infamous coastline of Stranglethorn Jungle. Our biggest fear there would be the goblin pirates that patrolled the seas, but we hoped that with all the turmoil the world had seen, they might not be as plentiful.
Before we departed, I had one more visitor stop by.
Sellia, the woman I had met so long ago on that uncomfortable night in Lordaeron. She approached me with the young boy holding tightly to one of her legs, clearly terrified of me.
“So you’re going back to the old world,” she said flatly. “A shame. Theramore needs people like you.”
“I’m sure I’ll be back,” I replied.
“I’m confident you won’t,” she said. “Which is why I brought this…”
She pulled a small box up and opened it, revealing my wand, the wand she had stolen from me and kept ever since.
The moment she opened the lid, I heard the quiet whispers of the arcane power contained within. They were so distant, so hard to focus on, but for the first time ever I was able to make out a single word.
I looked at it for a long moment, making sure I had heard correctly, and then I glanced up at Sellia and gave her a big smile.
“The name of the wand,” I stated. “It’s Iliera.”
Sellia smiled too. “So you can hear it, when you stop talking long enough to listen.”
“I suppose so,” I admitted.
“Well, now I suppose I have to give it you. After all, I said if you knew the wand’s name, I’d let you have it back.”
That wand held deep sentimental value to me. It had been given to me by Lady Sonea when I was just a young child. At that time, she had told me to take care of it, but like a foolish young person tends to do, I did not listen and ultimately lost the weapon within a few short years.
Sellia, on the other hand, had kept it close and protected it ever since she stole it from me. Since then, it had protected her and, if it stayed with her, could continue to protect her and the child she now cared for.
“You keep it,” I said as casually as I could, stifling the emotions that begged me to take the wand for my own nostalgia. “You may need to keep your family safe someday.”
“That’s very kind of you,” she said, holding it out a bit longer to be sure I wasn’t joking.
“The original owner would be proud to know it’s used for noble goals,” I added. “I’m sorry you and I had a rough start and I do thank you for offering to give it back. It means a great deal. Perhaps, if I do come back to Theramore, we can get together and have a drink. Talk things over and start fresh.”
Sellia nodded. “A fair offer. I won’t hold my breath, though, you’re too full of adventure to come back this small island.”
I started to interject, but she placed a finger on my mouth to silence me. “If, however,” she added. “You do decide to stop by. I would be happy to call you friend.”
A moment later, she placed her hand atop the small boy’s head and the two of them wandered away from the docks, back into the growing town.
I untied the rope that morning with great uncertainty.
I was leaving a lot of friends behind for this quest to return to Stormwind. For a brief moment, I even thought about cancelling the whole thing. I didn’t have to go back. It didn’t have to happen. I could just write Maron a letter or something…
The sails came down and the ship lurched forward from the strong easterly winds. I watched as the docks grew smaller in the distance. I saw Appoleon waving energetically at me until I couldn’t even make out his shape anymore.
Before long, Theramore Isle was gone. It was blue seas everywhere around us.
“Okay,” the ship’s captain, Keit O’Brien, said proudly. “We’re heading right into it, ladies and gents. So get yourselves ready for the maelstrom. It’s going to be a heck of a ride!”
I looked around. There were a dozen of us, total. The sloop couldn’t handle more than that. We had loaded up with plenty of supplies, both to consume on the voyage and to trade with anyone if we found survivors in the east.
As the winds started to swirl and turn, the sky grew dark, and I got into my position as directed by the sole Kul Tiran tidesage that could control the waters with powerful magic. I would be one of his “tools” on this trip. I would fight the currents of the maelstrom and use my arcane energy to steer us right at our intended target.
Captain O’Brien had done similar the last time he had piloted a ship through the storm, and he was confident he had a good grip on the methods this time.
“Alright everyone,” he with with a cheer. “Ever forward!”