The days following the success within the Nexus were a blur.
The Kirin Tor at Amber Ledge forced me to stay bedridden while Lady Evanor and I were treated for severe malnourishment. We funneled a fair bit of our energy into our work, and we were thankful for the posh treatment after all that work. I also, unfortunately, had to take a daily assortment of health and mana potions to get back on my feet.
I don’t recall what became of Kekel. The Kirin Tor rewarded him greatly, so I’m sure he never had to work a day in his life again. The worst part was our work seemed so hollow. The Kirin Tor, namely Donathan, was quick to point out that the dragonflight would no doubt attempt to create another rift to use. It’s hard to feel victorious when you’re told that your actions resulted in a delay more than a victory.
Still, I relished in the relaxation.
Of course, my heart still ached for Appoleon.
After four days of recovery, I decided I was ready to make my move. I had nearly died for this opportunity, and I couldn’t risk losing my window. I got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed down to talk to Evanor and Donathan.
“Good to see you awake,” Evanor said, smiling at me.
“You too,” I replied. “Have either of you seen Appoleon around?”
“He left,” Donathan said in a casual tone. “His group was able to move the prisoners back without his assistance, and he felt it was best he be back to his job at the keep. Obviously we didn’t want to keep him.”
“Of course not,” I said. “I suppose that’s fair.”
“We’ve given a fair amount of gold to the other members of the party,” Donathan added. “I can have the banks in Stormwind informed of your payment if you wish. I doubt you want to carry it around Northrend with you.”
“I’m not actually looking for money,” I said. “I already have a good amount of that.”
“Oh?” the mage asked. “What is it you ask?”
“Yes,” Evanor added. “What does Sionis Sepher want?”
“Transportation to Dalaran, and access to the Kirin Tor facilities in the city.”
Donathan chuckled, then paused, looking at Sionis with realization. “You’re serious?”
“Well, it’s a bit unorthodox, but I suppose it’s not an unreasonable request. May I dare ask why you’re seeking this access?”
“You know I grew up there,” I said, thinking of my youth. “I haven’t seen Dalaran since the Third War. I’d like a chance to see home again.”
“No,” Evanor said flatly. “I’m sorry, but that’s not possible right now.”
I was shocked. “Excuse me?”
The city keeps tight control over who enters and leaves. We can’t just grant you access because you helped us on a mission. Surely you understand that?”
“I’m not just some person,” I snapped. “I was in the Kirin Tor. You have no reason not to trust me, especially after what just happened in the Nexus.”
“What are you here for, Sionis?” she pressed. “Tell me the truth.”
“I’m here to help people like you,” I said. “Going to see Dalaran isn’t an insane request, Evanor, I don’t know why you’re acting like this.”
“Because I know you’re defending your mind from me right now. You’ve got a spell in place, something that’s hiding your true intentions. I’ve seen it before a hundred times. Your dishonesty shines like a candle in the night.”
“The dishonest you’re sensing has nothing to do with Amber Ledge,” I assured her. “I have secrets, yes, but maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to hide them behind a protective spell if I didn’t have you reading my thoughts!”
Lady Evanor scoffed. “Do you want the money or not?”
“So that’s it then?” I asked, feeling incredulous and forgetting all about my plot. “I just closed your stupid rift. I almost died for you. Now you’re just gonna cram some gold in my pocket and tell me to buzz off? You’re being ridiculous.”
“Take it or leave it,” she said.
“Fine,” I said, loudly. “Leave it.”
The bustling human stronghold of Valiance Keep was just as chaotic as it was the last time I had been here. I ignored most of the new arrivals that passed by, thinking instead on my last moments at Amber Ledge, riding off as Evanor called for me from the tower.
The anger had turned to frustration, and then it had given way to my realization that I had probably just slammed the door on a chance to get to Dalaran. I don’t know if I could have convinced Evanor to change her stance, but the exit I made meant there was no reason to ask her again.
The Morning Star, one of Stormwind’s biggest warships, was currently docked at the Keep, having arrived that very morning. It was filled with busy deckhands rushing back and forth from the harbor. I followed a hunch and headed down to the dock so that I could ask some people if they’d seen a man built like Appoleon. Sure enough, a few minutes of good questioning put him in the belly of the warship, helping to load food and supplies for the trip back to Stormwind.
I headed down into the vessel and when I arrived at the storage area, I saw Appoleon stand up in surprise.
“Sionis,” he said as he nervously approached. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to apologize.”
“Apologize?” the paladin asked. “For what?”
“For making you go to the Nexus… I truly wanted you to come for your healing power, not to fight, but I should have known that the possibility was there.”
“Sionis, save your breath.”
“Look, I have no regrets. I could have turned you down, but I didn’t. I can’t blame you for what happened in that place unless I’m willing to blame myself too. Besides, killing that beast was confirmation that I made the right call when I left the military. Now that I’ve learned that lesson, it’s time for me to head home. There’s plenty of work a skilled blacksmith and cook can do away from the frontlines.”
“Do you know where you’ll go?”
“Southshore,” he replied without hesitation. “I always liked it there.”
I laughed. “Ah, Southshore. You bought your first horse there. It’s close to our old homes, too. I assume you’re going back for that woman… what was her name again?”
Appoleon chuckled too. “It’s a great town. There’s room for a mage there too.”
“Maybe when the time is right,” I said.
His face changed, and he shifted his stance. “Listen, Sionis, I don’t know what’s brought you up here, but I have a pretty good feeling it has to do with the past. It might be time to bury the past, friend. You can’t lose yourself to this.”
“I won’t,” I assured him. “I’m not here to lose anything. I’m here to gain something. I won’t die here in Northrend. I just have to see this through. When I do, I’m going to get on my horse and come all the way to Southshore, okay? We’ll have a drink together and laugh about all this mess. I promise.”
Appoleon nodded, but he didn’t look convinced. “You do that, Sionis. I’ll be there.”
“I will,” I said, hoping I wasn’t giving him another lie. “When this is over, I will.”