Episode 01: Learning More

The Pandaren town of Halfhill.

      The summer sun beat down on the small Sepher farmstead with an unforgiving heat. The winds in the valley were cool and welcome, but slowly, the Loremaster had come to realize that there were certain days, far and few between, when the winds were absent and the sun’s rays were unrelenting.

      Today, he was busy digging rows for the crops that would be planted on the northern side of the Sepher farm, which was normally quite pleasant, when the weather was in their favor.

      Sionis had already stepped inside to start preparing lunch. It was to be a type of soup dumpling that he had made once before and they were so good that other folks from the halfhill market stopped by to get a few.

      It was comical to watch Sionis, a highly valued mage, handing out a free lunch to weary travelers, but this was the reality in which the Loremaster found himself. He was quite fond of the man he had discovered in these green flowing hills, that much was true.

      The conversation of Sionis’ past had stalled out after he reached the conclusion of the Third War and his organized trip back home. The Loremaster had done some research on that already, and he knew that Sionis successfully reached Stormwind, returned to the Sepher Manor, and even spent several years caring for an aging Uncle Maron, who thankfully lived long enough to see Sionis’ success.

      When the Alliance became embroiled in the Outland Campaign, Sionis’ story gets more murky. The details were sparse, but the Loremaster pieced together at least the start of it. The King called his men to arms, and Sionis answered the call. By now, he had developed a budding relationship with the night elf named Keaira. The pair traveled to Azuremyst Isle on a secret mission to aid the newly arrived Exodar.

      The Loremaster always paused at the thought. An alien spaceship crashing on your world was not a common thought. It had been such a simple time back then, in many ways, even with all the death and plagues.

      In many accounts from other witnesses around that time, Sionis began traveling with both Keaira, and a draenei female named Valiera. That seemed important to the Loremaster, but there was next to no information about this individual.

      By the time the trial went cold, the Loremaster knew that Sionis, Valiera, and Keaira all traveled together to the broken world now called the Outlands. He had no deatils on what happened from then until nearly a year later when Sionis returned from the Outlands… alone.

      That was going to change.

      The Loremaster waited until Sionis had finished his hearty lunch. He knew the mage always had a thirty minute window or so where he liked to sit back and do nothing after a big meal. It was perfect time to corner him for information.

      “Sionis,” he started. “It’s been weeks since we talked. You’re going to have to open up. I’m working for you now, right? It’s time we put the pen to the paper.”

      The mage scrunched his face, clearly not interested in having this conversation now, but he seemed to relent with little hesitation and finally offered a large sigh. “I suppose.”

      “Do you want to start with your trip to Northrend?” the Loremaster asked, trying to give Sionis an opportunity to skip over the Outland Campaign, at least for now.

      “To understand the trip to Northrend, you have to understand my time in the Outlands,” Sionis explained. “One was the result of another, and it inadvertently put me on a much larger path.”

      “Okay, so let’s start with Outland, then?”

      “No,” Sionis said, shaking his head slightly. “The story is lackluster. I met a draenei named Valiera. She had a troubled past, wanted me to help her reclaim her old homestead. We went to Outland and saw the destruction there…”

      “This has to do with Keaira?” the Loremaster asked.

      “The Night Elf population didn’t care for magic, you understand? They had the tales of Queen Azshara, the sundering of our world, and the Legion’s invasion. All of that was hinged on the blatant abuse of magic. Outlands was another example of what happened when magic was put in the wrong hands.”

      “Keaira began to lean toward her cultural roots then?”

      “She began to despise magic, and as a result, she started to despise me too.”

      “That must have been… difficult?”

      Sionis hesitated. “It was, but we were going to get through it. She had plans to go back to her family when we returned to Azeroth. Our campaign was nearly over. We had pushed to Shadowmoon Valley, after all. Valiera had found her old home, mourned for her lost family, and she’d decided to stay with Alliance forces there. All we had to do was come home.”

      “So… I know you came home… why didn’t Keaira?”

      “We were staying at the Allerian Stronghold in Terokkar Forest,” Sionis said, his voice heavy with memory. “Keaira and I had reached a point where we fought more than anything. It always started with good intention, a conversation about this or that, but it always devolved into a disagreement. Anyway, she liked to blow off steam after a fight, and often times she would skulk off for a while once we got done. I remember, I yelled that night, that if I never saw her again, I wouldn’t miss her. She said the same, then stormed out of the guard tower. I saw she was heading into the forest, and I told her to come back, but she wouldn’t hear it. She went outside the gates and… that was the last time I saw her alive.”

      The Loremaster wasn’t sure what he had expected, but this was impactful.

      “The guards found her the next day. She hadn’t gone far. They think a poisonous creature bit her, which weakened her, and she… well… she didn’t survive the night.”

      “I’m… so sorry. I didn’t realize…”

      “That was over ten years ago,” Sionis said, clearing his throat. “I’ve seen and experienced a great deal of things since Keaira’s death. I came to terms with it, over time, but in the moment, in that morning air at the stronghold, I felt like I had murdered her. She had gone without me, into the wood, because of the fight we’d had that night. I couldn’t even remember what we’d started arguing about, but there was nothing to be done.”

      “She was gone,” Sionis added. “It was my fault.”

      The Loremaster understood now the behavior Sionis exhibited upon his return from the Outlands. He had stopped teaching, became reclusive, and the only joyful thing that occurred at the Sepher manor were booked weddings that happened when he was nowhere to be seen.

      “I’m thankful for this information about the Outlands, obviously, but I’ll admit I’m a bit lost. What does this have to do with your trip to Northrend?”

      “Everything,” Sionis said. “Of course, I can’t tell you all of it now, but understanding the loss I had endured, and the pain I had placed upon myself, like a dark mark that I willed myself to wear, it is all critical to appreciating the efforts I went through in the frozen tundras of Northrend.”

      The Loremaster nodded, “Okay, sure. I get it.”

      Sionis was silent for a long moment, and then he leaned back in his chair. “Do you want to get started now? Or…”

      “Yes,” the Loremaster said hastily. “Please!”

      Sionis chuckled. “Alright then, we’ll skip the boring part, and go to the day the boat officially arrived at the Alliance base in the Borean Tundra. Suffice to say, it had been about a year since the events unfolded in the Outlands…”

      The Loremaster eagerly pulled his magical quill and a few spare scrolls and got everything in place. This was the moment he’d been waiting for for the last few weeks, and he wasn’t going to miss any of it.

      The tales of the frozen north.


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