The absence of pain can be rewarding as any other feeling.
When the lightning zapped through my body, I was confident I would die. I felt it pulling my life, years of my life, draining me of my own core. Despite this, I found that my essence seemed to simply continue offering up energy. It was like watching someone speed up time, but then slowly wondering how long time could really last. It just kept going, and I just kept pouring myself into the demanding pull of the spell.
Then, it was gone.
The pain ceased. It didn’t fade, or begin to subside. It was just… gone.
I opened my eyes, confident I was dead.
Instead, I was shocked to see that I was standing on a small balcony in Dalaran.
Black clouds and green lightning loomed in the northern skies, and I knew the armies of the Legion were approaching. The spell had worked as intended, and I had been teleported back to the Third War.
I looked down, and I saw a crumpled mess on the floor… Lady Evanor.
I knelt down and picked her up. She felt frail and weak. She still looked the same as she had before passing through the portal, but holding her I knew that it had drained her of her life essence just as it had done to me. She had not been as lucky as me, however, as it had clearly taken more than she could give.
“You… what have you done?” she asked me, grasping my robe and pulling on it.
“I did what needed to be done,” I answered.
“You doomed us both!”
“You doomed us,” I clarified.
“Why would you do this?” she asked, looking truly desperate. “You will die now.”
“My friends will live.”
“You offer yourself for them… willingly?”
“Of course,” I said, feeling sad that she seemed so confused.
“You won’t live to see it. You won’t know if you did any good. My Queen will continue with her plan, and none of your efforts will matter!”
“Maybe,” I said. “Perhaps they’ll all die tomorrow, or maybe they won’t make it through the night, but the moments I gave them by defeating you… it was worth it.”
Evanor seemed to be having trouble breathing. He felt the energy seeping from her. She would soon die, and the panic of that realization was settling in on her face, twisted with the anger that I didn’t seem to be stricken by the same panic and fear.
“How can you not understand?” she asked angrily. “You are a dead man. It’s over. Do you not get it? Do you want to die?”
I sighed. “No one wants to die, Evanor” I explained. “But if the choice comes to me or my friends, I will choose myself every time. You did that once, you know? When you went back in time to help save me, despite knowing it meant a grizzly fate.”
Evanor started blankly at him and then grimaced once more. “It makes no difference. Your friends will die soon enough. You’ll die in the past with me. The Legion will have you.”
“So what was all of this for?” I asked. “What drove you to Queen Azshara?”
“I wanted to live forever,” she replied, her voice growing hoarse. “I resented you and Iliera, and all of you living your lives while I wallowed in the past. Come, and I will share my mind with you. I suppose you deserve that much.”
She placed her hand in mine and I felt her transfer her thoughts and memories, sending me her reasoning, her decisions, and the consequences that unfolded.
She looked at me, her eyes growing dim, and smiled. “Immortality. Life eternal. It would have been mine, Sionis… it could have been… mine.”
Lady Evanor went still, and I knew she was gone.
I set her down, as gently as I could manage, then turned to look out at the coming storm of death on the horizon.
Evanor’s pain and memories were fresh in my mind. I felt agonizing guilt for the anger that had gripped her and mutated her thoughts into the monstrosity that Queen Azshara had used.
Beyond this magical city, the scores of undead were preparing their assault.
Soon, Archimonde would unleash his terrible might here.
By now, the younger me was boarding a boat set for the shores of Kalimdor.
I wished there was a way I could stop this destruction, but the Legion had already constructed powerful magical-dappening fields that prevented the Kirin Tor from mounting a viable counter-attack. It was a full retreat now, and those that remained here would soon face utter defeat. It seemed I would face that fate as well…
Then, I got an idea.
The Legion spells had their weaknesses, and while they were nearly impossible to find, the Army of the Light had taught me a few tricks during my time on the Legion world of Argus.
I decided to give it a try.
I poured arcane energy into the shield, forcing my mind to peer into the dark magic, reading it like a book, and searching for mistakes, errors, slips of the tongue that would leave vulnerabilities in the spell.
I pushed through it, and I found my opening.
I could escape. One teleport, that was it. Once I made my move, the Legion would recognize my energy and seal the crack. I didn’t know how far the Legion reached by now, and even if my spell worked, how would I survive? I had no money, and I could not claim the Sepher vault without revealing myself to Uncle Maron. In fact, showing my face around the Eastern Kingdoms at all could accidentally crack the flow of time, and I had already seen how that could make things far worse than they had been at first.
I had one more trick up my sleeves.
I needed to find a place I could hide… somewhere out of the way, obscured…
The magical mists that protected the lands of Pandaria were still in place. The Cataclysm would not occur for many years, but in the twisting nether, I simply searched for an absence of life energy. The ocean was filled with sea creatures, and life surrounded Azeroth… except in this one place… a place of total silence.
I hesitated, curious if I might have found another dark secret, but I decided I would have to take my chances. I finished breaching the Legion shield, and I created one last portal that would take me to my destination. I waited, hesitantly, until the portal stabilized and I saw the rolling green hills of Pandaria.
With my exit secured, I scooped up Evanor’s body and stepped through.
There is no need to get excited. My time on Pandaria has not been spent with secret adventures or long-winded tales of fame or fortune. My goal when I stepped through that portal was to remain as hidden as I possibly could.
At first, the goal was difficult. As an outsider, most of the Pandaren didn’t interact with me at all, but they all cast weary looks of suspicion and talked among themselves of my mysterious nature. I began to worry that I would starve out in the wilderness before long, though I was still thankful I had escaped from the Legion.
Soon after, I was befriended by an older Pandaren farmer. He saw value in me as a helping hand around his land, and I willingly helped with everything. I ran his errands, planted his crops, harvested them later, and repeated the steps time and time again. He was in his final years of life, and I helped ease those days for him. In exchange, when Farmer Lin passed away, he left me his farm.
I have worked my hardest to keep this place operating smoothly ever since. This farm has protected me, so I now protect it.
Of course, at first, things were difficult. I would travel to Halfhill to do my chores, and I was not the favorite of many vendors. There were some who felt I had tricked the elderly Pandaren into offering me his farm, but others that knew Lin well agreed it was what he wanted. If he had not shown me kindness I would not have ever had a foothold here, but I did get that foothold, and I capitalized on it.
After a few seasons of tireless work, I was accepted as a member of society here.
The good times lasted for years. Then, about ten years after my arrival, the Alliance and Horde showed up, having discovered Pandaria when the magical mists were disrupted by the Cataclysm. They brought war with them, and it threatened the lands of Pandaria. I dared not reveal myself to the invaders, but I stood with my Pandaren brothers in the effort to quell the madness they brought to us.
Eventually, Grommash was captured, and things settled down.
I continued to farm, to live my life, at least for another four years.
It was then that rumors grew of a new threat darkening the skies of Pandaria. Heroes of the Alliance and Horde began swarming our lands once more, but this time not in conflict, instead as heroes attempting to help. I hadn’t heard of this event, I was at a loss, and that meant one simple thing…
The timeline had finally caught up.
No more than a few days later, as I walked into Halfhill, I bumped into a beautiful steed plated in purple and silver. As I looked up at the rider, I realized fate had at least one more twist for me.
“Sionis?” I heard her voice before I saw her face.
I couldn’t believe it. She sat atop the horse, looking just like I remembered. She must have thought the same thing, because she smiled widely. “You haven’t aged a day.”
I smiled. “I work out.”
She slid from her steed and wrapped me in a tight hug. It was surreal to see her, to be here in this moment. For me, my life as I knew it had changed over a decade ago, and now Iliera was reminding me of it all.
“Come with me,” I said, gesturing toward my farm. “I want to hear everything.”
As Iliera ate her third helping of noodles, she filled me in on everything I had missed. I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t that much. After defeating Queen Azshara, the forces in the Eternal Palace had accidentally released N’Zoth, an ancient dark enemy. The Alliance and the Horde were working to undo his evil plans now, and Iliera was confident they would succeed. She also told me of the Horde’s civil unrest, the end of the Fourth War, and dire warnings that the scourge in the north were acting up again.
All in all, from her point of view, only a month had passed since I vanished through the portal. I told her my tale, of how I had been transported, how I sought out Pandaria, and how I had remained hidden ever since.
She detected what was coming next before I managed to say it.
“You’re going to remain here,” she surmised.
“You’re a powerful ally,” she said. “We could use you against N’Zoth.”
“It’s been fourteen years since I’ve seen real combat,” I reminded her. “I use fire spells to heat my tea and cook a good stew. I am neither prepared or eager to face a new foe, at least not now. Perhaps… in time.”
“In time indeed,” she said. “Your life energy is as strong as it was when we last parted. How is that possible, if the time spell killed Evanor? Why did it not kill you as well?”
I laughed. “One last secret to share.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Not today,” I said, smiling slyly at her. “When you visit again, perhaps.”
She gave me a smirk. “I see.”
“I hope you will return, in time?” I asked.
“I doubt this is the last time our paths will cross,” Iliera admitted. “Very well then. You stay here, dear Sionis, and grow your crops. My call is out there, with the Army of the Light, fighting against the evils of this universe, be them demonic or twisted dark energy.”
“I know,” I told her. “Someday, though, we’ll stand together once more.”
She nodded slowly. “One day.”
As she rode off that evening, I watched her go and smiled warmly.
This was the end… at least for now.