I spent a lot of time reading about magic after our trip in Nagrand.
Iliera spent a lot of time fighting.
She created a stable at the garrison, teaching the Alliance forces how to find and trap animals. She directed troops through the valley, and led them on glorious campaigns against the holdouts of the Iron Horde.
I tried to learn how to freeze water with my mind.
I became frustrated with my lack of skill in any of the other magical schools, and I definitely let it get to my head. I definitely burned down a few trees just to release the stress I was feeling.
Then, one day, I felt a strange energy arrive at Lunarfall. I heard a few soldiers talking about a horse, a special horse, that had been brought into the garrison by a visiting soldier. I decided I should check it out, as most of the others were already on their way there.
When I saw the beast, I was blown away. It resembled a horse, certainly, but it was a mechanical monstrosity if ever there was one. The body was made of a golden steel, and liquid magical fire made up the creature’s physical form. It was practically molten metal, contained by magical spells that were incredibly powerful. This animal had been forged by some very talented, and heinous, individuals.
A night elf druid that approached the creature began to cry.
“What is it?” I asked her.
“His poor soul. He’s lost and tortured.”
“Wait, that thing is alive?”
“It is named Surfal,” she replied.
My eyes went wide. I moved in immediately, extending my hand to gently touch the animal’s snout. I leaned in closer, and soothed the beast with comforting words. It lowered its head in response, turning so that it could rest on my shoulder.
“By the Light,” I said, shocked. “It really is Surfal.”
I hadn’t seen my horse since the Cataclysm. I had kept him safe and sound in Stormwind when I signed on to join the Briny Cutter, but when I finally returned to retrieve him, he was gone. The stable master said he had just broken out and flown off. In his defense, he was never really properly trained on how to handle flying spirit horses.
“How did he get like this?” I asked.
“The Blackrock clan got their hands on him,” a soldier said, approaching me with a hand extended in greeting. “My name is Sargent Wilhelm. I’m the owner of this fine specimen.”
“This is the work of the Blackrock clan?”
“Forged a new body right around the soul of the animal. They do this because machines can’t be broken in the way an animal’s spirit can. They wanted the best of both worlds. Indestructible machinery and an animal’s intuition.”
I was completely overwhelmed. I turned to the druid. “Why were you crying?”
“His soul is in agony. The poor creature lives within a sea of fire and darkness.”
“Can I set him free?” I asked. “Break the spell somehow?”
The druid shrugged. “I don’t know. The power bonding the soul is strong.”
A few soldiers scattered now, and I saw Iliera approaching. She looked sad, like she already knew all of the things that had unfolded her, but she also looked determined. I had brushed her off for several missions now, and I felt as guilty as ever.
“This is why I wanted Blackhand taken down,” Iliera said, gesturing to the creature. “This warforged animal is not the first to come from his evil forges.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t listn,” I said, my voice quiet.
“You are sad,” she mused. “Why? This animal is special to you?”
“This is Surfal,” I replied. “Blackhand has done this to him.”
Iliera frowned. She looked at the mechanical beast and then placed her hand on the animal’s head. She spoke, and her hand began to glow with the power of the Light. She closed her eyes and focused on her words, and I felt Surfal’s spirit shifting, becoming more comfortable, as if Iliera was reliving him of his pain.
She stopped speaking a few moments later, then looked to me.
“He is indeed tortured. They have contained his soul within the living metal, and it will take someone of great skill to free him. If we were to capture one of the forgemasters in Blackhand’s keep…”
“I’m ready,” I said. “Sign me up. This has to be stopped.”
Iliera nodded. “I will speak with the others. I believe we are capable of striking the foundry and marking a decisive victory against the Iron Horde’s remaining forces, but we must be sure. I’ll give Lunarfall’s status, and report back as soon as possible.”
With that, Iliera marched back to the command room.
I remained in the stables, looking after Surfal. I felt like an awful person for numerous reasons, one of them being that I had let this strange and magical friend wonder alone for years on end, while I was busy preparing for a future I wanted to prevent. I had to help him find peace, no matter what.