10,000 Years Ago…
The Academy of Nar’thalas. The gem of Suramar.
This place was home to some of the greatest treasures known to the entire world. It was a bastion of knowledge and a beacon of hope for those who were weary and seeking in the ways of higher learning.
Of course, now, it was burning.
With Suramar city surrounded by a powerful shield, the demonic forces of the Burning Legion had turned their attention toward the surrounding areas.
Nar’thalas was one of the first victims.
Instructor Delliana, a young and headstrong Kaldorei, one of the high elves that had built this mighty empire, rushed through the hallways of this fine school as panicked students fled all around her. The ground rumbled as the Legion assaulted, and horns blared as evacuations were ordered across campus.
The Academy would not survive the assault from these foul creatures, this much Delliana knew, but the knowledge in the great libraries of the school could live on.
She rounded a corner and saw a student pinned beneath a stone pillar. The poor student’s leg was crushed, but she seemed bent on finding escape. She called to Delliana, begging her to stop and assist her. The instructor was torn, but she knew the young girl was already lost. She could not save the students, but she could save the books.
She rushed ahead, ignoring the student’s final pleas for help.
In the great library of the Academy, no fire had yet touched the thousands of books that were proudly displayed on the shelves. Delliana went to work without hesitation, quickly swiping her wand through the air as magical energy swirled all around her. It swept up dozens of books, spinning them into orderly stacks that she could then manipulate with the arcane arts. She began shrinking them down, each book to a size so small they resembled nothing more than a grain of sand.
She cast a levitation spell and quickly swept the tiny pile of literature into a satchel that she could easily carry with her.
The evacuations continued while Delliana worked.
The library was large, but she moved fast. She finished the entire room after what felt like an eternity, then sealed the bag shut with a magical enchantment that make it impossible to enter the bag without the counter spell.
She looked around at the empty shelves and smiled.
She was a hero. Someday, they would remember her actions and praise her for it.
She stood up to leave and that was when she finally paused. She realized that she heard no more blaring horns or screaming students.
All she could hear was a growing sound… like a whistling… getting closer.
She realized what it was a moment too late. The world exploded in a blinding light, and Instructor Delliana was no more.
10,000 Years Later…
The ruins of Nar’thalas looked much the same as many of the other Kaldorei ruins that were scattered across all of Azeroth.
Fynn, a young paladin adventurer, had seen them numerous times during his travels with Sionis Sepher and Iliera Starfall.
The aged and cracked stones revealed beautiful craftsmanship and delicate design that had all been lost in the War of the Ancients. He hadn’t learned much about the old war, but the ongoing mission for the Alliance to retrieve the pillars of creation had led many an adventurer to this very place.
According to what little knowledge had been gleaned, the city had been utterly wiped out when one of the pillars was destroyed within Nar’thalas Academy. The explosion itself would have been enough to leave the city in ruins, but the energy released was tainted with the magical powers of the ley-line that ran beneath the city foundations. This magical power had captured the thousands of citizens who lived here, trapping their spirits and forcing them to wander their lost city for eternity.
Fynn had been working with Sionis’ ragtag group of heroes to help the Alliance in their latest endeavors, and in this case, that meant scouring an old abandoned ruin for clues about the pillars of creation.
“They’re all gone,” a Highbourne spirit said to him as he stepped through one of the massive archways. “All gone.”
He swept his hammer through the air, passing right through the specter, and then recovered himself in a flash of embarrassment. “Who has gone, spirit?”
The spirit paused, looking around for a moment. “All gone.”
He frowned. He’d run into this problem with many of the spirits that wandered the city. While some had retained their memories, their ability to interact and communicate, there were many others that had seemingly just… given up.
“All gone,” the spirit repeated.
“I get it,” Fynn grumbled. “Where did they go?”
The spirit didn’t respond, but moved forward, pushing right through his body and onward into the hallways beyond the library entrance.
Assuming it to be a lost cause, Fynn turned to leave. That was when he heard another voice, this one hidden among the bookshelves. “Come and see.”
He lifted his hammer once more, somewhat concerned at the voice’s calm tone. He had not yet been attacked by anyone within the Academy, but spirits were not always friendly beings. “You seek the knowledge,” the voice said from within the empty shelves. “Come and see.”
Reluctantly, he lowered his weapon and moved toward the shelves. Behind the first few rows of empty space, he found another spirit. She was not looking at him. She was knelt over a small bag, her ghostly hands pawing at it over and over again, unable to hold it in her hand.
Fynn stepped over and knelt beside her, quickly scooping up the satchel in his hands. The spirit followed his motion and stood as he did, looking only to the bag and barely acknowledging his existence.
“What is this?” he asked. “Is this what you wanted me to see?”
“A simple bag,” she replied calmly. “Within, you will discover the secrets of our civilization. A simple seed of knowledge that can grow into so much hope.”
“Knowledge that we can use against the Legion?”
The spirit looked to him, breaking eye contact with the satchel. It was like she only now saw that he was in the room, that he was here with her, but the contact lasted for only a moment before she seemed to fade once more and returned to pawing at the ground, despite the bag no longer resting there.
Fynn tried to open the bag, but it wouldn’t budge. Not surprised by the fact that the bag was held shut with a spell, he tied the satchel to his waist and started to leave the library. The Kaldorei spirit remained, eternally running her hands over the spot where the bag had been.
Back at Dalaran, in one of the large halls of the Violet Citadel, Fynn was forced to turn to the Kirin Tor for help with the bag he had found in the ruins. At first the mages struggled with the spell, but soon enough they weaved an incantation that stripped the satchel of its magical protection.
What they found inside was a coarse powder.
“What is it, exactly?” a young blood elf mage, named Syanna, asked as she stood there scratching her head.
Fynn shrugged. “A reagent of some kind?”
“Wrong!” a nearby gnome shouted, looking over the powder for a long moment before reaching into a nearby toolbox and pulling out what looked like an oversize magnifying glass. Fynn waited as the gnome leaned over the pile of powder, taking a much closer look before snapping a finger in satisfaction and handing the magnifying glass to the female mage. “It’s books.”
“An entire library worth, at least,” the gnome added. “I’d say they were shrunk down with some kind of arcane magic.”
“The entire Nar’thalas Academy library, right here in our hands,” Syanna said, sounding truly impressed.
“So what do we do with it?” Fynn asked. “Can we make them normal again?”
“Of course,” Syanna said with a smile. “I can do that, easy.”
She pulled a wand and made a quick circular motion, followed by a sharp jab at the pile. As she did that, Fynn saw the look on the gnome’s face turn from mild satisfaction to one of grave concern. “Did you just cast that on all of these books?” he asked.
Syanna smiled. “Yes. I figured that would be best.”
With a pop and sizzle, one of the grains of sand exploded in size, making a perfectly formed tome with a beautifully etched leather cover. Another pop followed, and the first book, as well as a pinch of the other shrunken books, were thrown off the table by the force of the next book’s growth. Three more pops and suddenly Fynn’s brain realized what had happened.
“We gotta get out of here!”
He scooped up the gnome and pulled hard on the mage’s arm as he rushed away from the expanding books that were swelling up all around them. An entire library’s worth of tomes, spell books, and other scrolls grew around them. Each new explosion scattered more dust, more collections of books that then also grew. As the space in the room quickly filled, Fynn cut for the nearest door only to have a wave of ancient books cut him off.
“What do we do now?” Syanna asked, clearly panicked by the thought of being smothered to death by books. “I don’t want to die like this!”
“New plan,” Fynn replied. He moved close to the far wall of the building, the one which he knew opened to the outside world, and quickly called upon the power of the Light. With his mighty hammer, Fynn had slain countless enemies all across the Broken Isles, but today he struck against the stone wall of the Violet Citadel. The wall exploded in a burst of energy and sunlight poured inside to greet them.
A moment later they were practically propelled through the opening by the massive number of swelling books that carried them into the streets of the magical city. Looking over his shoulder, Fynn watched as books continued to erupt from the opening as the library continued its expansion.
He glanced to Syanna, who was already starting to sort through the many books with a wicked grin. “This is amazing,” she said, clearly ignoring the mistake she had made inside the citadel. “These books cover everything. This one is a cookbook. Over here we’ve got a guide to herbalism. By the Light, think of all the things we could learn from this!”
“We’ll need to catalog it,” Fynn replied. “More importantly we’ll need to store it somewhere. Maybe there are others out there than can help us research all of this and figure out what we can and cannot be used to help us in our fight against the Legion.”
“You brought an entire Academy back,” the mage said cheerfully. “I guess we’re the Academy now.”
“An Academy of Hope,” Fynn said, bending down to pick up one of the books that lay all around them. “Knowledge is power, and we need all the power we can get if we’re going to win this fight. So… let’s get started.”