I hadn’t expected our task to be easy, but for some reason the naga seemed to be holding back on their advance. Erunak felt discomforted by the inaction, but we swam on, not far from the other survivors, and closign in on our allies. Unfortunately, I soon felt a wave of fear and confusion. It wasn’t coming from Erunak. Instead, it was coming from the other shaman, Farseer Gadra.
Something had happened to Gadra, and he was in danger.
I felt like time was of the essence, and I knew we would take far too long if we tried to swim the entire way, so I reached out and grabbed Erunak’s arm. I felt the life of Farseer Gadra. I felt his fear and his essence in the arcane. With a quick zap of energy, I used my teleportation ability to close the distance.
We appeared in the damp and poorly-lit chamber that Gadra’s group had been using for refuge. It was, unfortunately, anything but calm. I heard metal clanking against metal and the grunts and cries of soldiers fighting echoed all around the cave.
They were under attack!
Gadra’s survivors were on one side, with the naga forcing their way inside. Meanwhile, beyond them, near the entrance of the cave system, the recently freed prisoners and our surviving soldiers had engaged the naga, splitting the fighting on two fronts.
It was then that I realized we were in a dry cave. I could use fire again.
I spun up a flaming tornado, igniting the air and sweeping the blaze over the naga as they struggled to fight out of the water. Erunak and Gadra mentally warned the others to stay back, and I became the sole fighter against this naga force.
Only for a moment.
My allies took up defensive position, lobbing anything they could from range. As the naga began to flee from the dry air, they found my group waiting for them in the water, spears in hand and ready to attack.
I continued to blast unrelenting magic at the attackers, even as they retreated, when suddenly I felt something push back against my energy.
I saw a sword in the flame, cleaving the magical fire so that it deflected harmlessly away from my targets. Holding the blade, was the largest naga I had ever laid eyes upon.
“Fathom-Lord Zin’Jatar!” Gadra shouted at me. “We’re in trouble!”
“No,” I replied, my voice gravely and calm. “We’re not.”
I wasn’t tired. I was tired of being tired. I would give no more ground.
The Fathom-Lord was a powerful person, to be sure, but in that moment, I had reached a level of fear and determination that I had only felt before on the slopes of Mount Hyjal. I was bent on my survival. I was going to win.
I lifted my arms high above my shoulders and pulled fire and ice together in a flaming spear of frozen water that defied everything about these two powers. It was a masterpiece, and something I couldn’t conjure at will if you gave me a day. No, only instinct could muster this kind of power.
That spear would not shatter. It would not melt. It could not be extinguished.
It hurled through the air with grace, and when the Fathom-Lord foolishly attempted to cleave the attack in two, the spear simply ignored his magical blade, slipping fluidly past the weapon and reforming on the other side.
It went through his neck with such speed that I wasn’t sure I had hit my target.
He recoiled, paused, and seemed almost as equally unsure about the blow as I was.
Then, he slumped to the ground. Dead.
The naga retreated with such vigor after that, none of our people could catch up.
After the chaos of the fight had died down, most of the survivors went to work on maintaining that survival. They set fires in the cave for warmth, and looted the bodies of the naga for food or supplies that might aid them.
I had sought out Erunak and Gadra, eventually locating the two near the back of the cave, speaking to one another in hushed tones that no doubt sent a message of uncertainty or fear to the others in the cave.
“There he is,” Erunak said, gesturing to me as I approached. “The hero of the day.”
“It’s nothing,” I replied.
“My people are grateful,” Gadra replied. “I am glad to meet you, Sionis Sepher. If you had not arrived when you did, we would not have survived against the Fathom-Lord.”
“We got lucky,” I replied. “I can’t say I knew it would work. Locking onto the heightened emotions of a single individual to use as an anchor point in a teleport spell is a stretch, even for a powerful mage like Khadgar. It was a gamble, to be sure.”
“Perhaps,” Erunak said. “Gadra has good news, Sionis. The refuge we seek is near.”
“Indeed,” Gadra spoke up. “Silver Tide Hollow. The Earthen Ring has a stronghold.”
I had heard of the Earthen Ring before. They were an organization, like the Kirin Tor, only they focused on the spiritually-focused art of shamanism. While a mage would tap into the raw power of the arcane energies, the shaman would leave on the aid of the planet… life and nature. To be frank, I didn’t understand a single bit of it, but I was thankful to hear that we had allies here, powerful ones too, and that they would let us unite with them.
“Okay. So, Silver Tide Hollow. That’s our new home. Does the Earthen Ring have contact with Alliance ships? Can we get out of this mess?”
“Were it so easy,” Gadra replied. “Go to Silver Tide Hollow. There, your journey will continue.”
I rolled my eyes. This was why I avoided spiritual guidance or voices in the rocks.
“How far is this stronghold?” I asked.
“Not far, one of my people can guide you.”
“What will you do?” Erunak asked.
“My team will continue to call out and gather others that are stranded out there. The naga have claimed many ships and many are lost in the sea, in need of our help.”
“Fair enough. Erunak, tell our people to rest here for a bit. We need to leave here and go straight to Silver Tide Hollow, but we need to make it there alive. Some of these people are so tired they’re not able to swim on their own.”
Erunak nodded, then left to tell the others.
“You lead well, mage,” Gadra said, looking to me. “Do you have experience in leadership, or does your spirit guide you?”
“I have been around the block a few times,” I answered. “Gadra, why is the Earthen Ring here? You said you have a stronghold.”
“We came here for different reasons than your Alliance,” Gadra explained. “We believe we have found something here, something of grave concern. In fact, we believe it is that discover that had drawn the Alliance and the Horde here, not just some feeble attempt to build bases for war.”
“What exactly did you find?”
“A doorway to another realm. Not unlike your arcane magics, but on a larger scale.”
“What caused this doorway?”
“The cataclysm, we believe,” Gadra surmised. “The problem is that the naga appear to be working with an organization known as the Twilight Cult. We can’t be sure, but their aim appears to be to widen this doorway. If they succeed…”
“Yeah, death and destruction. I get it.”
“We must stop them,” Gadra emphasized. “Our world needs to heal. Whatever damage they might do would be devastating for all of Azeroth.”
“Stop the naga and a terrifying death cult. It sounds like we have some work cut out for us, Gadra. First, these people have to sleep. We’ll go to Silver Tide Hollow. I’ll help if I can, but these soldiers didn’t sign up for a doomsday mission. My priority is rescue for these soldiers.”
“Of course,” Gadra said. “It is an honorable task. I wish you success.”
“Right,” I replied. “Me too.”