Episode 13: Taking a Breath (Intermission)

      Sionis stopped talking for a few minutes after recalling the fate of Xer’Thraxis.

     Vestria wasn’t sure if she should speak or not, so she opted to remain silent. Outside Sionis’ home, the rain and wind continued, and water was beginning to pile up in low-lying areas around the farm. It was only around midday, but the weather was so bad that you couldn’t tell the day from the night.

      “A soul bind,” Sionis said at last. “It was a long shot. I still can’t believe it worked. I don’t think I did it right, of course, I transferred some of his physical injuries over to my own body as well, for better or for worse.”

      “That attack is what put you on the map,” Vestria said. “The Academy of Hope got a lot of attention after the death of such a powerful Yunai target. The planet you mentioned in the story, was that Pulkaan?”

      Sionis nodded, only half listening from the looks of it.

      “What is it about that moment that’s hard to swallow?” Vestria asked, hoping to find the source of his hesitation.

      “Fynn almost died because of his ties to me,” Sionis explained. “I’ve come to terms with it, or at least I had, until I recalled the story. Xer’Thraxis was defeated, but he nearly took out all of the people I cared about in the process. I mean, Iliera would have been fine, but by now Fynn had kind of become our adopted child.”

      “He was okay though, right?”

      Sionis nodded. “He was fine. Better than fine. He felt like a true champion after that fight, and he was emboldened to continue out on new adventures with Iliera.”

      “Fynn went with Iliera on new adventures… not you?”

      Sionis shifted in his seat, uncomfortable for a moment. “After the fighting, I started to feel like I wasn’t pulling my weight. After all, I had nearly died, my old enemies were attacking Academy members, and all the while Fynn and Iliera were changing the world. I… kind of retreated into my work with the Academy…”


Academy of Hope Headquarters, Dalaran

      Stacks of scrolls towered atop my wooden desk. A single candle burned, barely illuminating the small office where I was working. I liked it that way, mostly because the rest of my office was as messy as the top of my desk. I’d holed away here since we’d defeated the Legion invasion force, scribbling away at official Udirian paperwork while Iliera, Fynn, and dozens of other brave Academy members joined the in an assault on an alien world. I heard a knock on my door and looked up for my scribbling. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but I was still the headmaster of a growing school. I shouted for them to enter and then picked up the next page in my latest permit application.

      The door cracked open and I looked up to see Kaellax standing there.

      “Oh, it’s you,” I said, relieved. “What are you doing here?”

      “Why is it so dark in here?” she asked, closing the door behind her.

      “So I can’t see the bugs,” I replied.

      “I have word from Pulkaan,” she said, referring to the Yunai planet where, right now, many of my students were bravely fighting. I paused my work and gave her my attention. “The Academy has helped secured footholds in three major regions of the planet. They are currently making motions to assault a facility that they believe houses thousands of Yunai bodies, without hosts. Destroying that could turn the tide of the war in a more permanent fashion.”

      “How are our people doing up there? Are we in good shape?”

      “Nothing yet on that,” the Shadowspeaker said, her eyes dropping for just a moment. “We’re still waiting for word from Fynn and Iliera. The others are doing as they were last time I updated you.”

      I felt my heart twisting. Iliera and Fynn had departed on a mission for the Udirian military days ago. Their radio silence was torture. “They say the Light is hard to commune with on that world,” Kaellax added. “We can’t assume their silence means they aren’t out there.”

      “Always the optimist, Kaellax.”

      She smiled. “I’ve also got a report here. The Zinji are being watched, as you asked, and they appear to be moving in strange military patterns.”

      “We’ll need to demonstrate that we can fight them again. Stop them from getting ideas.”

      “Aren’t they fighting for our World Ship too?” Kaellax asked, her voice growing determined.

      “You’re smart and open minded, Kaellax, but our organization follows the rules,” I explained. “The King of Stonehaven has made our official stance on Zinji relations clear. We work with them if we must, but we can’t go around letting them have military advantages.

      “You’re sounding just like all those others,” Kaellax mumbled.

      “Fynn would like that,” I said, chuckling for a moment.

      “Can I be real with you for a moment?” Kaellax asked now, suddenly changing her stance.

      “Uh, sure?”

      “Why are you not out there fighting?”

      I didn’t have a good answer. Something about the fight against Xer’Thraxis had made me feel like I was a target, and no matter where I went, enemies would come for me… and by extension the other Academy members. “Our organization has plenty of fighters,” I said defensively. “We need potions, bandages, coordination, and a plan of action. I’m keeping the Academy operating.”

      Kaellax didn’t seem impressed, picking up one of the sheets on my desk. “Permit for magical performance?”

      “It’s standard paperwork. I want to use magic within the city. Permits are required.”

      “Boring,” Kaellax said. “Grab your spell-blade and let’s go fight the Yunai.”

      All across the World Ship, the surviving Yunai forces still plundered and assaulted, but without the continual resupply from their leadership, and with the realization that no one would come to replenish their efforts, their numbers were dwindling.

      “Imprisonment is our best option,” I said, dodging her statement. “We don’t want to kill unless we must.”

      “So you say,” Kaellax grumbled. “Reluctantly, I agree.”

      “Good.”

      “You’re writing letters, Sionis. Letters! The soldiers, heroes, and champions are out there fighting to kee our World… no, our reality safe while you’re in here jotting down a permit request!”

      “More folks recruited to the Academy means more support for our allies on Pulkaan.”

      Kaellax rolled her eyes, then marched over and took a seat at my desk. “Fine. Let’s do this.”

      “What?”

      “Where do I start?” she asked.

      I smiled, ever so slightly. “What are you doing?”

      “Look, you can’t stay hidden in this place forever, headmaster. So, if you’re writing letters, then I’m writing letters too. Let’s get that permit and start doing something. I’m not going to let you hide away in here.”

      I was appreciative of her efforts, and I accepted the offer.

      My job, my way to help defeat the Legion… it was behind that desk.


      Vestria looked at Sionis, seemingly shocked. To think that this powerful mage had purposely not gone to Pulkaan seemed almost unfathomable. She scribbled the last few notes down, then leaned back in her chair and ran her hands through her still-damp hair.

      Sionis was finished cooking. There were steamed noodles and a delicious green sauce bubbling on the stove, ready for consumption. “I know it sounds insane, but it worked,” Sionis added. “We sent thousands of recruits through to Pulkaan to help Iliera and Fynn. Kaellax eventually made her way out there, and we were all on the alien world eventually.”

      “So you just worked in an office during the largest invasion of your time?”

      Sionis frowned, then shrugged. “When you say it like that…”

      “What about Iliera and Fynn?” the Loremastar asked. “What did they do?”

      Sionis grabbed his plate and filled it with hot noodles, then came over and took a seat at the table. “Iliera and Fynn… they fought on. On Pulkaan. Heroes and champions alike, those two couldn’t be stopped.


To be continued…

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