Lunarfall Garrison was a hustling and bustling hive of activity in the few days following our arrival. The local draenai were quite excited to see actual soldiers showing up to help them fight, even if they were mysterious time-traveling aliens from another world. They knew we utilized the Light, and that was enough to keep them happy.
I was put on patrol duty a few days after we arrived, and I was partnered with a Draenai huntress, someone I had worked with years past in the Outland campaign.
Her name was Valiera. Long ago, she had lived Draenor, and after the events that ripped her world apart, she lived a hard life in the Outlands. She had eventually come to Azeroth and joined the Alliance, and now she was here from Stormwind, ready to prevent her storied past from happening again…
“I think we’re supposed to be going the other way,” I mumbled to the woman as we crossed through a large bog that had a sickly sweet smell to it. I wanted to gag every time I took in a deep breath, so I had settled on inhaling through my robe sleeve.
The draenai stopped, looking back at me, then frowned. “I’m sorry.”
“You were always kind to me Sionis. I can’t lie to you now.”
“I’m not going to our patrol point. I’m going to save my family.”
“Your family is in this bog?”
“No,” she said. “Technically, I am.”
“You’re going to have to explain that one.”
“I don’t have time,” she snapped at me, pushing ahead through some underbrush. “I have to be around here somewhere. If I can just warn this reality about the attack then I can make sure… aAAH!”
Valiera froze and the utter disgust in her voice was laced with a kind of visceral terror that I had not expected to hear from such a seasoned fighter.
I rushed forward, pushing through the underbrush until I laid my eyes upon the thing that had just caused such a reaction from her.
It was a draenai, lifeless, seemingly mutilated. I had become dull to the horrors of war, but I could understand why Valiera was so impacted. The victim that was on the ground before us… was Valiera.
“I don’t understand,” she finally said. “They missed me… they didn’t know I was here.”
“Alternate reality,” I said, gently pulling her away from the corpse. “Different rules.”
“No, that poor soul is dead. You’re right here. You’re with me. Now.”
“Sionis. We have to get to Embaari Village. Now.”
“Can you give me a direction?” I asked.
She pointed, and I turned to face it. “Alright. Hold on.”
It took me a moment, trying to reach into the nether was difficult here, since this place… this reality… it seemed to almost exist outside of space and time. It was like we were hiding away in a not really real pocket of existence.
Still, I felt the living energy in the distance, the village, and I anchored us to it.
With a pop and fizzle we appeared in the village, and then I gasped.
Embaari Village was on fire.
We went to work on fighting the orcish invaders. Obviously it was the Iron Horde, a group known as the Shadowmoon Clan, who had joined with the Iron Horde after being given an ultimatum by Grommash Hellscream.
I sent a magical missive to Lunarfall to warn them of the danger, and they responded with Kirin Tor mages that could help the villagers fight. Valiera fought with a singular purpose, cutting a line straight through the enemy until she reached one particular home. She rushed to the front door, calling out names I had never heard, and when a male and female emerged from the home with weapons in hand, Valiera burst into tears and fell into their arms.
“Where’s Iliera?” she asked.
“Fighting,” the male replied. “She fights for the Light!”
“Where? I must save her.”
“She protects the shrine!”
Valiera looked at the two for a moment, then ushered them back inside the home. She ordered them to stay put, then turned to me with pleading eyes. “Can you protect them?”
“I can try,” I replied, quickly working to create an invisibility cloak on the home. It wasn’t invisible, per say, but the cloak would help the house… blend in to someone’s view. They wouldn’t know it was there unless they specifically went looking for it. The spell was easy enough and held fast.
“Thank you,” Valiera replied. “Now come, there is one left to save.”
We charged through the burning village, striking down any foe that dared to cross out path, until we reached a large glowing structure that looked similar to a Naaru. We saw a female draenai there, a purple mace in hand, the Light at her back, holding off at least ten attackers.
Valiera roared, pulling her bow and firing a volley of arrow at the attackers. They didn’t see the attack coming until it was too late. I finished off the last one with a fire blast, and we stepped up to the female, who looked at us with shock.
“Valiera?!” she cried. “I was so worried about you!”
“Hello, Iliera,” Valiera said, wrapping the woman in a tight embrace. “Come. We must get you to safety.”
“Absolutely not,” Iliera said, standing firm. “I will not yield this shrine.”
“She sounds serious,” I said. “I can tell you’re related.”
Valiera frowned. “Very well. We remain here. We fight. We survive.”
I liked the sound of that, so I snapped up some fire and stood with the two, ready to take down our foes. Fortunately, the orcs had enough fighting for one night. By the time we readied ourselves for another attack, the Kirin Tor reinforcements were already driving back the enemies.
“We made it,” I said, finally relaxing. “We won.”
“Thank the Light,” Iliera said, looking over at me. “Now, who might you be?”
“Sionis,” I said. “Sionis Sepher.”
“I am Iliera Starfall of Embaari, paladin of the Light.”
I had to admit, hearing that name again, after all those years… my curiosity and my confusion must have bleed through the moment, because Iliera made a strange face. “Did I offend?” she asked. “I apologize. I do not know of your people.”
“No, it’s not that,” I replied. “I just… actually…”
“Come,” Valiera said, interrupting our conversation. “We must return home and make sure our parents we safe.”
Iliera nodded, turning away from me, and I was thankful for it. My mind swirled with the mystery of the woman I had just met, but there were so many other things to do… so many other things to worry about. I was in the past, in an alternate reality… how could any of that come into play with Lady Sonea or my old wand?
I swallowed those questions for now, and followed the sisters.
We returned home with Iliera, and I removed the spell that camouflaged the place. Once she had everyone together and gave them all a series of hugs, she took a moment to pull me to the side and fill me in on the details.
“In my time, things were different,” she explained.
“I was scouting, as I did each night, and the attackers passed me by. I did not know they had gotten through our defenses. I returned home the next morning, and our village was burned to the ground. My sister, my parents, they were all dead.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that.”
“I’ve come to terms with the loss,” she said. “At least, I had. Seeing them here… now…”
“Are you okay with everything you saw tonight?” I asked. “I’m sure if you need to talk to someone about this, we can find someone.”
“My own corpse, you mean?”
“I would not have taken it as smoothly as you did.”
“I am saddened by the death, but I must admit that the joy of seeing my family again overwhelms any sorrow… is that selfish of me?”
“I don’t think there’s a precedent set for this kind of situation,” I said, scratching my head. “You’re paving some new paths here.”
“I want to stay here with them,” she said. “Tell the garrison I died in the forest. Send them to collect my body.”
“Yes. I need to keep them safe, Sionis. I cannot leave them now.”
I was shocked by this revelation, but at the same time, I understood the raw emotional connection. I had experienced loss, I knew what it was like, and I had even considered attempting to retrieve the things I had lost. Valiera was in the unique position to actually reclaim a life that she had lost. I couldn’t be the one to stand in the way of that.
So, I agreed.
Later that day, I left the village with the rest of the Kirin Tor, and Valiera stayed.