Episode 1: A Change of Pace

The tranquil town of Halfhill.

         The chill in the air that spread over the valley of the four winds was carried in on the back of a seemingly endless stream of rain and wind. The Loremaster had lived in these parts long enough to know that this was an unusual weather pattern, and he saw concern from several of the younger pandaren citizens, yet, the older villagers seemed unimpressed with the dark clouds that loomed overhead.

         The Loremaster had poured over the records he had, including the paperwork on the now defunct “Academy of Hope” that had existed during Dalaran’s brief time floating above the Broken Isles. The files were all in order, and over and over again, the Headmaster Sionis Sepher’s name showed up.

         Another mystery that the Loremaster planned to finally put to rest.

         Assuming the storms ever let up long enough for him to reach Sepher’s farm.

         The days and nights kind of blended together in the monsoon that had come to the valley. The Loremaster had told himself the storm would eventually break, but now he was less certain of when that might happen.

         After giving it two full days, he decided he had to go out.

         The inn was full of travelers, as always, but most of them looked soaking wet and shivering cold. The hearth had a healthy crowd around the flames and there was a silence that dominated the room.

         “You going out?” someone asked the Loremaster as he approached the door.

         “I am.”

         “You’ll want to steer clear of the mud,” the traveler said. “It’s slick, and much deeper than you might assume. Stay on rocky terrain out there.”

         The Loremaster thanked the man for the unsolicited advice, then stepped out on the covered porch. He discovered, instantly, that the covering was of little use, as the water was swept up and under the roof thanks to the powerful winds.

         He looked out in the direction of Sionis’ farm, and he wondered if he could even make it that far. He’d made the trek dozens of times, many times in the dead of night, but it was different now. The trees swayed back and forth, the ground shifted as water swirled on the roads, and the sheets of raid made visibility a think of the past.

         Still, he had a job to do, and if that meant braving a storm, so be it.

         He checked his waterproof satchel and then put his head down and rushed out into the storm, hoping that he hadn’t made a terrible mistake.

         Sionis Sepher sat at his quaint dinner table, taking a sip from one of his last kettles of tea. He’d always kept a good surplus of dried leaves around, but the last of it had been used up days ago. He’d resorted to a few leftovers that had either been gifted to him, or purchased on a whim from a traveling salesman.

         None of them tasted any good.

         He took another terrible sip, then nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a thundering at his door.

         He rushed over and swung it open to see the Loremaster standing there, soaked to the bone, pale as a ghost where mud didn’t cover him. He managed a feeble smile at the mage and then asked, “Might I come in?”

         The mage pulled him inside and used a quick spell to strip the mud and dirt from the Loremaster’s clothing. He boiled some water using a quick fire spell, then doused a few towels with the warm water before wrapping the young man inside so that he could warm up for a few moments.

         “What in the world are you doing out here?” Sionis asked, setting the Loremaster at his table while the warm water did its work. “Surely you realize there’s a storm out there?”

         “Oh?” the Loremaster asked, his words dripping with sarcasm. “I didn’t realize…”

         Sionis chuckled at the response, then pulled up a chair next to him. “You’re a brave soul. Tell me you didn’t charge all the way here through a monsoon just to hear another story?”

         “Bingo,” the Loremaster replied. “Even brought my scrolls, assuming the waterproof bag held up in that mess.”

         “I’m impressed.”

         “Good. Then tell me what happened next. Tell me what happened after you returned from Draenor.”

         Sionis smiled, then nodded. “Alright. I can do that, but this next adventure gets a little more complicated than the last. There’s more characters, more scenes to describe… more pieces to the puzzle than simply one mage on an adventure.”

         “Does it have anything to do with a wand?” he asked.

         Sionis nodded. “Indeed. The wand is part of the tale, though not as early as you might hope. Before we can get there, we must first learn a little more about Iliera, Fynn, myself, and how we created the Academy of Hope.”

         The Loremaster pulled the warm towels off and looked at Sionis with eager eyes. “I need to change and get my scrolls, but I don’t want to hold you up. So, you go ahead and start at the beginning. Tell me everything about what came next.”

         Sionis contemplated this, looking outside his window to see the wind and rain. Then, he chuckled to himself and stood up. “Let me grab you a chance of clothes, and then I’ll get started.”

         The Loremaster waited while Sepher fished out an older robe and belt to fasten it. Once that was finished, the Loremaster quickly shed his wet outfit and changed into the robe. He was happy to be rid of the wet garments, but he hung them up as directed by Sionis so that he would be able to change back before he left.

         “Okay,” Sionis said, reclaiming his seat at the dining table. “So, to explain the Academy, we need to go back a little bit. I’d say… ten thousand years, give or take a few centuries. It all started in the high elf empire of old…”         

To be continued…

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