The serene landscape of ancient Kaldorai architecture was inviting.
Fighting the Legion was not.
As two massive rocks slammed into the ground from overhead, crumbling against the cracked floors of the room, Fynn was starting to wonder if this was worth it. Iliera rushed past him and straight at the demon that loomed no more than a dozen feet ahead.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” she said as the last of the debris slid off her shield. “I came prepared to—”
“You will never defeat me, little paladin,” the demon’s voice thundered. “I am—”
A flash of Light hammered the demon across the face, followed by the blunt end of Fynn’s mighty hammer. He was holding the handle with both hands and Iliera was surprised he had managed to jump that far into the air.
“Shut your dirty little demon mouth!” Fynn shouted as he landed in a roll. “She wasn’t finished yet.”
The demon responded with a firm kick, one that sent poor Fynn sailing across the room and into the stone wall of the structure. Iliera was worried, for a moment, but the human had enough sense to throw a protective bubble around himself, and the wall did little more than stop his momentum.
“Enough of your foolish behavior!” the demon shouted again. “What is it you want?”
Iliera stood her ground, looking over the demon and wrestling with her own internal drive to simply smite the creature where he stood. It was the right thing to do. The Light within her ached to end this being’s existence, but she thought of the soul shard in her bag and she quelled the feeling for now.
“I want information,” she said.
“Information?” the demon asked. “You seek knowledge from me?”
“I am looking for Sionis Sepher. What have you done with him?”
The demon’s eyes widened. “The mage?”
“Then, you are not alone.”
“What do you mean?”
“We seek the mage as well,” the demon replied. “His body escaped us in Azsuna, but my master is not deterred.”
“Xer’Thraxis the mighty,” the demon said. “He seeks revenge against Sionis Sepher.”
Iliera saw Fynn appear in the corner of her eye. The young paladin was up and already charging the demon again. He was a champion, but he was not the greatest at strategizing his attacks.
“You’re going down, clown!” Fynn shouted, cracking his hammer against the demon’s knee. The creature growled in rage and swept his massive hand toward the young human. Fynn responded by practically flattening himself on the ground. The demon’s swipe missed, and Fynn was on his feet and scrambling up the demon’s leg before the beast could counter.
Iliera was impressed with the human’s mobility. He practically shimmied up the demon’s torso and was standing atop his shoulder in mere seconds. She realized too late, however, that Fynn’s heroic antics had actually worked, and her conversation was about to be cut short.
“Wait,” she shouted. “I need information!”
Fynn either didn’t hear her, or he didn’t care. His hammer came down against the back of the demon’s head with a crunch that echoed in the cave and sounded like a rock landing in a shallow puddle.
The demon’s eyes went blank, and he crumpled to the ground with Fynn riding along. Just before crashing into the dirt, he leapt forward, rolled with the momentum, and slid to a stop mere inches from Iliera. He smiled up at her with a boyish grin.
“Woo! One more demon bites it,” he said proudly. “Nice work!”
“Fynn,” Iliera started, still looking at the demon’s corpse. “Did you not hear me?”
“Oh I heard you alright,” he replied. “Great tactic. He was all like confused and junk, which gave me the perfect opportunity to just roll up in there and crack his head. We’re a great team!”
“I was serious.”
Fynn froze. “Say what?”
“I was trying to find out what he knew about Sionis Sepher!”
“Ohhhh, whoops. I didn’t realize—”
Green swirling portals snapped into existence in at least three places within the cave before Iliera could finish her statement. From each one, three demons emerged, each one holding a massive weapon.
“What do we do?” Fÿnn asked. “There’s a lot of them.”
Iliera didn’t speak for a moment, and then she reached out and grabbed him by the arm. “You stick close and follow me. Do you understand?”
Without hesitation, he nodded.
“We’re going on an adventure.”
She twisted sharply and slashed through the closest demon. Fynn was right behind with a mighty swing of his hammer, downing another foe. That left one demon standing between Iliera and the portal that had opened. Iliera lifted her shield, closed her eyes, and charged forward full speed.
“Right behind!” Fynn shouted, following her lead.
She slammed into the demon so hard that it stumbled backward, and the three of them tumbled through the portal together.
On the other side, the demon landed on his back, with Iliera sandwiching him to the ground with her shield. Fynn came out of the portal and planted his feet right on her back, making all of the air in her lungs rush out of her mouth with an almost comical wheeze.
“Don’t worry, Iliera,” he said proudly. “I’ll keep us…” he paused. “Oh, no one is here.”
He stepped off her back and she quickly scrambled to her feet. The demon beneath her was still, probably killed by the force of the impact. She spun around, confirming what Fynn had pointed out; there was no one to be found.
With a sudden fizzle, the portal behind them snapped shut, and Iliera realized there was nothing but wasteland as far as she could see. The sky shone with millions of stars, and swirling energy twisted through the heavens above.
“Oh man,” Fynn said. “I don’t think we’re on Azeroth anymore.”
“It was a trap!” she growled.
“Too bad we don’t have a mage,” he replied, still looking around.
Iliera fished through her bag and retrieved a hearthstone, a magical rock that was bound to an anchor point on Azeroth. She gripped it tightly, but the magic didn’t ignite.
“We’re too far for it to work,” she said slowly. “I just led us straight into a trap and now we’re stranded out here.”
“I wouldn’t beat myself up,” Fynn replied. “We’re not even sure where we are. There might be another way to get home.”
Iliera, feeling defeated, started to put her hearthstone back in her pack, when she caught sight of the soul shard. They were stranded out here, with no food, no magic, and only the Light to sustain them in the darkness of space.
“We’ll die out here,” she said.
“Nah,” Fynn said, strangely calm about all this. “Someone will show up. The demons won’t just leave us here. They’ll turn up, and when they do, we’ll just steal their portal.”
Iliera was surprised she hadn’t thought of that. The demons wouldn’t just assume that she had been defeated. They would come here to verify, and when they did, she would be ready.
While they waited for their escape, Iliera discussed the human paladin’s past a bit. Fynn had been born in Lordaeron, or so he believed, but his parents had been lost during the Third War. He had ended up with a kind woman that took him in, and a paladin named Appoleon that trained him in his childhood.
She asked Fynn if he knew anything about why the demons would want to find Sionis Sepher, but the paladin only shrugged in response. So why was a demonic dreadlord chasing a simple fire mage across Azeroth? To have created such a powerful enemy… there was a story there she hoped to hear someday. She contemplated this for a while, but her mind soon began to wander toward the hopelessness of their situation.
Until, once again, Fynn was proven absolutely correct.
Less than five hours after they’d been abandoned here, a portal opened near the very spot where they had arrived.
The pair were at the ready in a flash, weapons drawn, and ready to jump through the portal before their enemies could close it.
Except, no demons emerged from the portal.
Instead, a mage, wearing the robes of the Kirin Tor, emerged.
“Syanna?” Iliera asked.
“The one and only,” she replied. “But… how?”
“Fel magic,” the mage said. “Our resident demon hunter helped.”
As if summoned, a new figured appeared from the portal. Kelynve was her name, and she was a demon hunter… a night elf transformed by the dark magics of the Legion. She was the antithesis to everything that Iliera embodied, and she was not someone that Iliera wanted to owe any favors.
“We were sent to find you when you didn’t report back. Kelynve felt your spectral presence and the remnants of a portal. I traced the magical energy through the nether, found the anchor here, and voila.”
“In other words,” Kelynve simplified. “I found you. I saved you.”
Iliera’s blood nearly boiled.
Fynn, on the other hand, seemed pleased. “That’s good work!” he said cheerily. “I’m glad you showed up too. I am hungry.”
“Did you find any information on Sionis’ location?” Kelynve asked.
“No,” Iliera replied sharply. “The only thing we know now is that the demons don’t have Sionis. They talked like he had escaped.”
“An interesting development,” Kelynve replied. “A demon hunter at Ilidari Perch has contacted me. She said that she knows more about Sionis’ location. She has requested that we come to her.”
“She couldn’t share the information?” Fynn asked. “Sounds like a trap.”
“Or she knows something that she needs to keep hidden from prying eyes and ears,” Iliera suggested. “If this demon hunter knows more about Sionis then I have to speak with them. The demons are still hunting for Sionis, so we have to find him first.”
“His body,” Fynn corrected.
“They said his body escaped.”
“Well, we have this soul shard.”
“Which is just a shard,” Kelynve said. “His soul may already be in the hands of the demons.”
Iliera felt a hole opening inside of her. An urgency building deep within her. She had to find him, she had to protect him, she had to bring him home to Dalaran.
“There’s no time to waste,” she said firmly. “We will report back to the Academy and then travel to Illidari Perch.”