It’s hard to describe how truly cold it gets at night across Northrend. I don’t think there’s a lot of places around Azeroth that get anywhere close to those frigid temperatures. The poorly-insulated designs of any wooden structures up there meant icy air was always seeping inside through the nooks and crannies. Most people combatted this with fire. The stone hearths were always hot, fed with freshly cut timber from the ample woods of the untamed forests.
The mage tower here at Amber Ledge was another story.
The Kirin Tor had sealed the place tight with a magical bubble that allowed the heat to dissipate, but did not allow the cold to come inside. It was a comfortable temperature in the stone tower, no matter what, and I grew comfortable with this over the few days that I had stayed with them.
Lady Evanor had recovered rather quickly, but many of the prisoners had not. We had asked Valiance Keep for assistance, and they sent us a handful of soldiers to help the prisoners recover enough to be transported back to the keep.
I had spent most of my time watching over Evanor, but she had stirred this particular morning looking lively, even asking me to get her something for breakfast. I heartily agreed, hungry myself, and I headed outside of the tower to visit the food tent that had been setup.
The cold hit me like a ton of bricks, but I took a deep breath and picked up my speed until I reached the tent’s interior, which was not much warmer, but still better.
There, standing at the back of the tent in nothing but a thin pair of shorts and light shirt, stood a very large man with an even larger butcher’s knife. He looked over at me, standing in the tent flap, and then smiled widely. “Sionis!”
My jaw nearly dropped. “Appoleon?!”
“What in the heck are you doing here?” Appoleon asked loudly. “My goodness! I haven’t seen you in ages!”
“I know,” I replied. “I… this is impossible.”
“What are the odds?”
“No, I mean… Lady Evanor is here too.”
Appoleon offered a hearty chuckle. “You’re kidding me?!”
“I wish,” I said, completely overwhelmed. The truth was, it was very concerning. I had come here to commit crimes and alter my past. When Lady Evanor crossed my path, I thought it had been fortune, or luck, but for Appoleon to show up too? Now? No, there had to be something more than coincidence at play.
Appoleon saw my concern and set down his massive blade. His aging face was calm, but stern, and his blond hair was thinning to baldness, but it wasn’t quite there yet. He looked healthy, and particularly happy, and I felt awkward being in his presence.
“So, uh, you’re a cook now?” I asked, trying to steer the conversation.
“Yup,” Appoleon said, looking at his shabby kitchen. “I had to throw this together on short notice, but I’ve got a nicer one back at the keep. I cook for people when they’re hungry, and I use the Light to heal them if they’re ill.”
“A strange combo,” I said.
“Well, it beats the alternative,” Appoleon said. “My days of crackin’ skulls is long over.”
“Why?” I asked.
He chuckled. “If you have to ask, you won’t understand. In time, you’ll get it.”
I wanted to stay and talk more, but I thought of Evanor and her request and I realized I’d already been gone a long time. I put in my order, and Appoleon had it cooked up in a jiffy. He bid me a fond farewell and I rushed off, not sure if I was eager to come back and talk more, or if I wanted to avoid him entirely.
I would have to decide on a full stomach.
In Evanor’s room, the two of us had a great time eating the eggs and bacon that Appoleon had prepared. I hadn’t had fresh food in some time, living off conjured bread and water to lighten my pack, so it tasted like heaven.
I had just buried any fears I had about all of my old friends coming together in this strange mix of coincidence and fate, when I looked up and saw an Alliance soldier, dressed in full armor, standing at the wooden doorway of Evanor’s room. My panic skyrocketed at the sight, as I instantly convinced myself they were there to take me away for a crime I had yet to commit.
The guard stepped inside, and the next man to enter was a Kirin Tor mage. He looked happy to see us, which was odd for me, and he walked over to take Lady Evanor’s hand.
“I’m so glad you’re well,” he said to her. “I was so worried when I heard the news.”
He looked to me now and nodded. “Are you the one that rescued all these people?”
“In a way,” I said, trying to stay humble.
“Sionis Sepher, right?” he asked. “Glad to have you here.”
“What are you doing at Amber Ledge, Donathan?” Evanor asked, sitting up. “Your group has been posted at Colderra.”
“That’s precisely why I’m here,” he answered. “Evanor, something terrible has happened. The blue dragons have been seeking a way to stop our abundant use of magic, just as we feared. They opened a rift yesterday. It’s a raw portal of arcane. From what we can tell, they’ve lost control of it, or at least, are losing control. If the do…”
“Then we all suffer,” Evanor said, her voice sounding tired.
“If it’s that bad, surely the Kirin Tor have people that can aid you?” I asked.
“Unfortunately not,” Evanor explained. “The dragon Malygos, leader of the blue dragons, is just waiting for an opportunity to assault our forces in Dalaran. Right now, there’s no more than a few of us. I’ll have to close the rift, but getting inside has been the problem.”
“Why is that?”
“No magic can breach their lair. It will have to be brute force. We’ll need soldiers, not mages.”
“I think… I think I have a plan,” I said. “It’ll be dangerous, but it could work.”
Of all the prisoners that had come, only a few were well enough to even attempt what I was planning. The others would have to stay here at the tower. Those soldiers sent from the Keep to help us transport the sick and wounded, however, were more than capable.
That included Appoleon.
“I’m a cook,” Appoleon said without looking to me. “I don’t fight anymore. Didn’t we already have this discussion earlier today?”
“No fighting,” I said. “We have fighters. I need a healer.”
“I’m not your man,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“Lady Evanor says if we do nothing, this thing could destroy our world.”
Appoleon laughed, then turned to fully face me. “That’s the real trick, ain’t it? Whatever adventure it is, no matter how big or small, the world is always in mortal danger. Tell me, what is it that threatens our existence this time?”
“A magical rift capable of collapsing space and time.”
“Is this the Kirin Tor’s fault?” Appoleon asked. “This sounds like them.”
“No, apparently it’s a dragon this time.”
The large man scoffed, then shook his head and waved a dismissive arm. “Let me get my stuff ready. Tell someone out there I’m going to need a mace. I want a proper one, Sepher, none of those little hammers you call weapons.”
“Fair enough,” I said, thankful to have him with us. “You won’t regret this.”
“We’ll see,” he said, his own voice weary. “We will see.”