Iliera stood at the edge of the violet forest, looking out over the lush green hills of Shadowmoon Valley. Behind her, the mage Syanna worked on sealing the portal that had brought them back to Draenor.
Embaari Village was a short distance away. Her father and mother would be there, working on jewelry and trying to understand ancient prophecies. By now they had likely heard the news about the Burning Legion’s defeat.
They had not probably realized that Iliera was the Commander of the Academy of Hope offensive under the Army of the Light. The same assault that was instrumental in bringing down the world soul of Argus and ending the demonic crusade once and for all.
She had left the village as a starstruck student with unending faith in the Light.
She returned now practically infused with is power.
Her armor pulsed with the energy of the holy relics in her weapon and her once brown hair now shimmered with silver strands.
“Will they recognize me?” she asked aloud.
“Your eyes are yellow now,” Syanna replied. “I mean… it’ll be pretty hard to recognize you.”
“Do you think so?”
The mage shook her head. “No, Iliera. They are going to know who you are. You are still the same. You just look… brighter.”
Iliera had recently undergone a powerful transformation, turning from her old form to one of the immortal Lightforged. Her skin had grown pale, but it too shimmered like her silver hair. Her eyes had changed from their familiar blue glow to a piercing glow of yellow Light, and a rune of power now appeared over her head whenever she faced danger.
But she was still draenei. Right?
“So are we going down there or what?” Syanna asked.
“I suppose it’s time.”
“Where’s Valiera?” Syanna asked now. “She came through first.”
“She went into the forest,” Iliera said with a small smile. “She said there was someone she needed to see.”
“Come on,” Iliera said now, taking a deep breath. “Let’s go say hi.”
The village had not changed much since Iliera had left. Three years ago they had been attacked by the Shadowmoon Clan Orcs in what had ultimately turned out to be part of an organized Iron Horde offensive. Before that day, she had never seen real combat. She had dreamed of it, trained for it, as most young draenei did, but the glory of combat was a storybook to her… the mythical Army of Light.
The Orcs had changed all of that. She fought that day to save her family, to save her friends and everything she knew. Her training had been instrumental in keeping her alive and in the aftermath of the fighting she knew she was made for this.
That was the day she had lost her sister Valiera, too.
Her sister had been hunting in the woods before the attack. She had stumbled across the Shadowmoon Clan and they had killed her to protect their cover.
Vengeance and skill fueled Iliera’s first steps, but with the help of the Alliance paladins she would soon forge her power into Holy Retribution.
She had been put under the command of a mage named Sionis Sepher, who soon revealed that he was from another timeline, one in which Draenor had met a terrible fate. A timeline where the Legion had destroyed everything Iliera cared about.
Most importantly, Iliera was soon reunited with her lost sister, who had survived the Shadowmoon Clan attack in the other timeline. For Valiera, the reunion was far more powerful, as in her time, the Legion had taken her entire family.
Even now, years later, Iliera couldn’t compare her brief moment of loss to that which her sister had lived through.
Spurned on by the pain of her sister, Iliera vowed not to let her Draenor be claimed by the same fate. She stood with the Alliance and fought the Iron Horde from coast to coast. By the time the Legion revealed itself in the Tanaan Jungle, she was an adept paladin and ready to use the Light to carve a path of Holy destruction.
She gave up an entire year of her life to see the Legion pushed back from Draenor, but in that final fight against Archimonde in Hellfire Citadel, she saw the true power of the Legion. She knew that they were not truly defeated.
If they waited, the Legion would return.
They would always return.
So when Sionis announced that the Legion had started invading Azeroth, Iliera knew that she had to leave her home, her family, her entire world. The Legion had to be stopped. It had to end once and for all, or else they would never be safe.
When she left for Azeroth she promised herself she wouldn’t step foot on Draenor again until she could return with the message that the Burning Crusade was over.
She had assumed that millenia would pass before that day came.
Instead, it had taken them only two years.
Her silent reverie as she walked through the village was broken as a few of the draenei paused to look at the pair moved through town. Most of them were looking at the night elf mage rather than her, but none of these draenei had yet seen a Lightforged. There was no doubt in her mind that they were uncertain about her appearance.
She came to her house near the edge of the farms and suddenly felt like she might be sick. Everything was so normal. It was like nothing had changed since she had left, but so much had changed. She didn’t belong here.
She started to turn away.
“This is the place, right?” Syanna asked. “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should…”
“Iliera?” a woman’s voice asked.
Iliera froze in place. She knew her mother’s voice anywhere.
“Iliera, is that you?”
Fighting back her panic she turned to face her mother, standing as though presenting herself for inspection and said, “Hello mother.”
There was a long moment of silence.
Her mother didn’t speak.
She was joined at the front door by Iliera’s father and his eyes grew wide when he saw his daughter.
For a moment Iliera sensed concern coming from Syanna. Were they going to say anything? Was she an abomination to them?
The two of them suddenly moved as one, rushing from the front door and wrapping their arms around their daughter, practically shoving Syanna out of the way as they rushed to secure their embrace.
“We have missed you so much,” her father said, tears streaming down his face. “It’s been so long since you left!”
“It’s been so hard,” her mother added. “Every night we think of you and wonder if you’re still out there fighting for our safety.”
Iliera couldn’t speak. Her mouth had gone dry.
Apparently all of the water had made its way to her eyes instead. She wept hard, wrapping her own arms around her parents and squeezing them with three years of pent up energy.
Syanna stood there, clearly uncomfortable with all the crying, but he smiled at her and gave her a thumb up when she glanced over her mother’s shoulder at him.
“The Legion is defeated,” she finally mustered. “It’s over.”
Her mother and father released her and took a moment to compose themselves.
Her father was first to regain his voice. “Defeated?”
“Sargeras has fallen,” she replied. “Kil’jaden was slain over Argus and the Burning Throne was claimed by the Army of the Light.”
“Light be praised,” her father said, clearly struggling to take it all in. “It is finally over… and my daughter was a champion of the Army?”
“I am,” she said proudly.
“Commander,” Syanna chimed in. “She led a team to Argus, sir. She is directly responsible for the victory that we achieved against the Legion.”
Her mother suddenly looked worried. “You went to Argus?”
“I can’t believe it!”
“Prophecy fulfilled by our own flesh and blood,” her father said, crossing his arms and smiling. “There’s only one thing that could make me happier.”
“What is that, father?”
“If you are here to stay,” he replied. “Please say you’re here to stay.”
She smiled at him and shook her head. “I can’t say that, father. I can’t stay.”
He tried not too, but she could see the frown tugging at his face.
“I can’t stay forever,” she added. “I do need to stay for a time.”
His smile erupted again. “You do?”
“Yes,” she said, looking to Syanna. “I have some… work… to do here on Draenor.”
“I am happy to hear it,” her mother said. “Come on, darling. We were just going to start dinner. I’m sure you’ve missed some home cooked meals.”
Her stomach immediately growled. “I have missed them immensely,” she admitted.
“I could use one of those too,” Syanna said. “Assuming I’m invited?”
The parents gave the mage a sidelong glance. “Where is the boy mage, the human?”
“Sionis,” Iliera said. “He is currently on another mission.”
“And this one, she is your friend?”
“She is,” Iliera confirmed.
“Then she is welcome here,” her mother said firmly. “Come along…”
“Ah, my name is Syanna,” the mage said, dipping a bow to the mother.
“Syanna. What a lovely name. Come on then.”
As her mother and father disappeared through the front door, Iliera took a deep breath and prepared to step inside. Before she did, however, she looked to Syanna and her eyes grew narrow. “It’s probably best,” she whispered to him, “that we not discuss my work here.”
“Really?” Syanna asked. “Why not?”
Iliera wasn’t sure how to answer. There was much her father and mother would want to know about the Army of the Light, about becoming Lightforged, and how it all played together in the prophecy that they had put their faith in since fleeing from Argus.
The problem was, Iliera had her own questions too.
She couldn’t give answers until she had answers.
So that left were with only one choice. She needed to speak to K’ara.