I rode for hours, but I saw no sign of them.
I finally made camp or the evening, and when the sun rose on the horizon, I was back at it. I knew I needed the sunlight to increase my visibility, especially if I was going to brave the marshes by myself.
Then, I had a stroke of luck.
I spotted two figures on the road ahead, and I was certain I had found them.
I raced toward them, but as I closed the final stretch, it became apparent that they knew I was coming, and they spun around with attacks at the ready.
“Whoa!” I shouted. “I’m friendly!”
One of the two was a human male, a paladin, and he had a glowing mace in hand that I thought he might be preparing to throw at my head. Next to him, I saw a female worgen, and she looked like she was ready to attack.
“I’m looking for Kaellax,” I said. “I don’t want trouble.
The worgen took a moment to look me over, then lowered her guard and laughed.
“I wondered where you had been all this time,” she said, her voice gravely and only vaguely familiar. “I sent you that missive nearly a week ago!”
“It made it through time and space to reach me,” I said. “Obviously it took a little bit. Are you hurt? You didn’t tell me you’d become a worgen. When did you get the curse?”
“A story for another time,” Kaellax said. “Right now we need to keep moving.”
“What are we moving from?” I asked. “Kaellax. What is this danger?”
She shook her head. “I can’t fully explain it, Sionis. We’re just calling it the darkness right now. It’s some kind of… force… working to keep our timeline from unraveling. Haven’t you spoken to Nozdormu about this?”
“He never mentioned anything like what you’re describing.”
“Has the Alliance secured a place on Draenor?” Kaellax asked.
“Good. We must get to Dustwallow. Lady Evanor will explain everything.”
“Lady Evanor?” I asked. “How in the world is she involved in all this?”
“I’ll let her explain,” Kaellax replied. “Can you get us to her?”
“No,” I replied. “The marsh is teeming with life and arcane radiation from the mana bomb that destroyed Theramore. I wouldn’t be able to anchor us to anything.”
“Okay, so we ride.”
“Okay. If we go now, we can make it to Shady Rest Inn before the sun sets.”
“Then let’s go,” Kaellax said firmly. “Time is short.”
We rode throughout the entire day, as fast as we could. Surfal carried me and the paladin named Fynn on his back, while Kaellax ran alongside us in worgen form. I was impressed with her speed to say the least.
When we finally reached the edge of the marsh, the only thing waiting for us was a burned pile of debris. The entire Inn had been burned to ash.
I kicked a piece of burnt wood, frustrated by the constant reminders of all the loss this area had endured, and then went to work grabbing some supplies from Surfal’s saddle.
“We camp here,” I said. “Tomorrow we can push into the marsh. I assume Evanor is staying at Lady Tabitha’s cabin. It’s an old haunt that mages like to visit from time to time. It was near a magical lay-line, which is one reason—”
I felt Lady Evanor’s presence before she started to speak, but I spun around to see she was already within a few feet of us. She wore a cloak, but her hood was back enough that I could see her face, aging with time, and she smiled at me.
“That won’t be necessary,” she said, referring to my rant. “I assumed you would arrive here first, so I’ve had this place under surveillance for some time. I’m glad you’ve finally made it. We have a lot to discuss.”
“I agree,” I replied, stopping to face her. “It’s good to see you, Evanor.”
“He doesn’t know about the darkness,” Kaellax said, her voice strangely excited. “That means it hasn’t pierced the veil, right?”
“None of you are making sense,” I said.
I know, and I’m sorry for that,” Evanor replied. “The truth of the matter is that you not understanding us is a sure sign that our salvation rests with you. Come. I will take you to Tabitha’s and we can explain everything.”
“You want to travel into the marsh at night?” I asked, looking shocked.
“No,” she said, laughing. “I have a hearthstone, Sepher. Now, take my hand.”
I reached out, holding her hand with a firm grip. I knew how these things worked, and I wasn’t planning on getting stranded out in the twisting nether.
I needed answers.