Vestria had been scribbling along, waiting for Sionis to get back to his story, but it was clear that he was telling the tale of someone else’s adventures now. The young paladin, named Fynn, and Iliera. While it was good to finally hear the Flamecaller talking about Iliera, she had yet to hear anything about the wand, or why the narrative had shifted.
During one of Sionis’ longer breaks in the story, she decided to speak up.
“I’m here for your history,” she said, finishing her last set of notes. “You’re drifting.”
“No,” Sionis replied casually. “You’re here about the wand. You want to know how we got to that point in my story, and right now, these two are more important than me.”
“So is it your soul in the shard?” she asked.
Sionis grinned. “That’s a spoiler.”
The Flamecaller leaned back in his chair, looking out of his window at the pouring rain, and then he took a deep breath and leaned in close. “No.”
“So, where are you while this is going on?”
“It’s complicated. Which part of me are you referring to?”
Vestria felt her face getting warm from the frustration.
“Alright, alright,” Sionis said, waving his hand in defeat. “I’ll give you the details of the situation. It involves and old friend that you might recall from earlier adventures… someone that had been waiting to see me again for a long long time.”
“Well, it all started after the Yunai allowed us to come home. We did the whole rank and file, joining the King of Stonehaven in preparing to repel the army that Keaira commanded. By now Udiria had relocated to the marshes where the door to our Travelers was located. We assumed we could best defend our World Ship from there. I guess it all started about then…”
Azsuna was such an unhappy place.
The lost night elves of Narthalas, the demonic isle of Faronaar, and the ancient blue dragons being assaulted by the nightfallen. It was all too much.
Whenever I was on patrol to this region, I felt like I was just looking at a lost cause. Until the Burning Legion was stopped, destruction and chaos like this would always linger.
On this particular trip, I was paired with Kaellax. We were on an information gathering quest, not far from the western coast of the isle, and things had been eerily quiet since we’d left the Alliance camp a few hours before.
“Hey Kaellax,” I said, taking a sip from my canteen. “You see any naga around?”
“No,” she replied. “Why?”
“Just seems odd. They’re always here when we patrol.”
“Well maybe they got tired of fighting us and—”
The light suddenly darkened and Kaellax’s voice died off.
“What’s this?” I asked.
From the sky, several infernal creatures came crashing to the surface, rolling up into the monsters that I had faced against so many times before. This time, however, I noticed that there were a lot of them. Far more than usual.
This was a trap.
I turned to Kaellax as she finished arming herself. “We fighting?” she asked.
“Something’s wrong,” I answered. “We should fall back.”
I started to form a portal, but the energy was blocked somehow. I tried again, but there was nothing. I looked to Kaellax and she frowned. “What is it?”
“Magic suppression,” I said. “I don’t understand how—”
“At long last, Sionis Sepher, we meet again,” a dark voice boomed in the air. I had heard that voice before. Sometimes, in dark nightmares, I still heard it. It was the demon dreadlord that I had faced at the base of Mount Hyjal. I had killed him then, unaware of the true power that these demons possessed. I cursed for not thinking it through beforehand, for not realizing this day would eventually arrive. It was too late to do anything now, so I simply turned to the demon as he materialized before me.
“Hey,” I said, forcing myself to remain calm. “I… do I know you?”
The demon growled. “It is I, Xer’Thraxis.”
“Xer… Thraxis? No, do I know you?”
“I haunt your memories, mage,” the demon said proudly. “Do not deny me the honor.”
I nodded. “Sure. Yeah, we’ve met.”
“It took time to plan our reunion,” the dreadlord added. “When you and I faced one another last, you defeated me with vile tricks and youthful power. Now, time has worn at your being, and I remain as I was.”
“You speak a big game with all this backup around.”
“These infernals are meant to deal with her,” the dreadlord said, pointing at Kaellax.
She genuinely blushed. “Those are for me? I don’t know who you are, but I’m flattered. You could have brought half as many to get the job done.”
“Do not mock me.”
Kaellax laughed. “No no, I’m honored. Really.”
“Enough,” Xer’Thraxis growled, signaling for his minions to march. “This ends.”
“You’re cheating, though,” Kaellax added.
The demon paused. “What?”
“Magical suppression,” she said, gesturing to her stave. “If I’m going to be slain by a dreadlord and his army, I’d like to go down fighting. You won’t mind, after all, your minions will just come back to life long after I’m gone anyway.”
Xer’Thraxis smiled, then waved a hand and I felt the magical suppression field subside. I couldn’t believe it. The fool was more prideful than we could have hoped. If I could just get a portal to Dalaran, we could escape.
“Now, fight for your lives, mortals.”
I turned to Kaellax, and she nodded firmly. “You lead, Sepher.”
We lunged into battle, Kaellax at the infernal creatures, and me right at Xer’Thraxis. Shadow and fire swirled through the air and we both launched multiple attacks against our foes. I was pleased with my own power, as multiple hits landed on the dreadlord before he got his footing, while Kaellax pierced completely through the infernal assault.
Xer’Thraxis shielded himself from my attacks with his mighty wings. He took one step back as I approached, then spread his wings and revealed a slightly burned face and chest. He looked angry, but not all that concerned.
“Is this the best you can muster?” he asked aloud.
I shook my head. “Nope. In fact, I—
I looked up at Xer’Thraxis in time to see the enemy wing coming straight at me. It landed like a brick wall and I was thrown through the air, landing not far from where Kaellax was keeping the infernals at bay.
Now was as good a time as any to form the portal. I put my hands together, trying to craft the first step in the spell, and that was when I realized I couldn’t use magic.
“Oh no,” I said.
“Yeah, he put up his magic suppressor again,” she confirmed.
“You’re stronger than I considered,” Xer’Thraxis called to them. “Truth be told, I do not want my soul to end up in the twisting nether again. The Legion is here to destroy your world, and while I was glad to confront you, I won’t actually risk my life to give you a fair fight. You die today, Sionis Sepher.”
Kaellax stepped closer to me. “Can you make a portal to the twisting nether?”
“If I could use magic, sure,” I replied. “Why?”
Kaellax stabbed her weapon into the ground and an energy bubble popped up around them. I felt magical energy returning to my control. Kaellax was… suppressing the magical suppression!
“Portal now,” she shouted.
“Why not Dalaran?” he asked.
“It’ll take too long to stabilize. We only have seconds here.”
“Fair enough,” I said. I ripped through to the twisting nether without hesitation. There was no place to anchor, or any reason to try. It was nothing but an empty void… an abyss between space and time. “What’s the endgame here, Kaellax? Without an anchor point, I won’t be able to get us back home.”
“I’ve got that handled,” she said. “Put your arm around my waist.”
“Because I’m about to die. Grab me, and fall back into the portal.”
I frowned. “Okay?”
I positioned myself between Kaellax and the portal that swirled behind me. I watched her funnel her life energy into her stave, and then her lifeless body fell backward into my arms. As she collapsed, so did the bubble of magical energy around us.
Despite his concerns, I did as I was told and allowed myself to fall backward through the portal, slipping into the twisting nether with Kaellax dead in my arms. As the portal snapped shut, I could see Xer’Thraxis screaming in rage, clearly aware that he had, once again, lost his chance to kill me.
The problem was… I was trapped.
The Loremaster looked at Sionis for a long time. He wasn’t sure how long ago he had given up writing his notes, but the story was far too splendid to miss. He had learned about Xer’Thraxis during Sionis’ early years. The demon had nearly killed him at Mount Hyjal, but a last minute intervention had saved the mage’s life.
Now, the demon had returned.
“So, that’s where you went,” the Loremaster mused. “Iliera had no idea?”
Sionis shook his head. “No clue. The worst part is, the twisting nether is a realm between the physical worlds. Time has no meaning there, and as such, I had no way to gauge the passage of time while I was there. I was… lost. More importantly, I didn’t have an anchor, so I was also stuck.”
“What about Kaellax?”
“Dead,” Sionis said, chuckling. “She abandoned me in the nether with her lifeless corpse. No much in the way of an explanation. I trusted her without hesitation, and it got me stranded in the darkest depths of the nether.”
“So, then, what was the shard that Iliera found? How was it connected to you? How in the Light did you escape from this situation?”
“All good questions,” Sionis said. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”
The Loremaster grumbled. “Can we just skip to the end?”
“You know I don’t do that,” Sionis countered.
“Fine,” the Loremaster conceded. “Tell me how it all went down.”
“Good!” Sionis replied, smiling. “Let’s see… so, Xer’Thraxis is probably the part of the story we should focus on first…”