Short story: The Return

Personal note: Please find accompanying blog here


The sea wind blew coldy through Talron’s hair. He halted for a moment to scan the terrain. Although quiet, the Tomb of Sargeras still loomed ominously before him. He turned his mount to rejoin his party.

Telrom, one of the Dwarves was pointing at the surface.

Look, down there. Is that a Sargerei summoner?”

Talron focused on the indicated area: “Seems that way. But he’s not alone. Let’s land on the other side of that ridge and check.”

No time Talron, they be gettin’ away!” Telrom led his mount into a freefall towards the surface.

Let’s go Talron! Let’s kill a demon” said Brungur and he followed his brother downwards.

No, it’s too dangerous! Damn Dwarfs.” Talron looked at the his remaining companions: “You, hunter. Get backup. Ellie, follow me. We need to get to those Dwarfs!”

He didn’t even look if the two obeyed his orders and quickly led his mount to the surface. The Dwarfs jumped of their mounts and immediately charged at the summoner. It’s heavy voice boomed across the terrain when he saw them coming: “Come, petty Dwarfs. Come and die!”

Talron quickly landed surveyed the area. The figure they spotted earlier with the Sargerei was gone. All he could see was the cave ornamented with strange runes. It looked like a portal, but it was not active. He had to investigate after the fight.

The healer caught up: “I’m ready Talron.”

Focus your healing on them Ellie, and watch your position. This one is dangerous!” He focused his energy into a pyroblast as she positioned to heal the Dwarfs.

The summoner smiled at the sight of the newcomers: “Ah, more toys to play with!”

He easily swiped the Dwarves to the side and raised one hand in the sky. The party displaced to dodge the meteors falling from the sky around them.

Talron looked at the Dwarfs, who charged in when the meteors stopped. “Idiots, they cannot sustain much longer. Can you reach them Ellie?”

Yes, but I cannot keep this pace up. They are taking to much damage!”

Telrom jumped over the Sargerei, but caught a huge demonbolt in his chest before he hit the ground. He screamed and collapsed facedown.

Brungur looked horrified: “Telrom, noo! You’ll pay for that’, monster!” He bashed the Sargerei back.

The summoner laughed “Let’s make it more exciting!” He activated the runes on the cave and several imps spawned through the opening portal.

Talron eyed the healer: “Situation is not improving Ellie, can you get Telrom on his feet?”

Yes, but I need time!”

You’ll have it. Brungur, focus them into one place!”

Talron fired up while using all possible means to quickly take the imps down. He positioned himself behind Brungur who had taken control of the situation. This allowed Ellie to move quickly towards their downed comrade.

Brungur was panting: “This is a big one Talron. We need backup, quickly.” He dodged a vicious strike by his opponent: “Quickly lass, I cannot keep this up!”

The Sargerei turned, alerted by Brungur’s shouting: “Silly mortals. You cannot win!” He blocked a heavy strike from Brungur’s axe and flung him backwards.

I have nothing left Talron, we need to pull back! Freeze him. ”

Just a little longer Brungur. We need to keep fighting!”

Just ice him lad! Then we can run!”

Enough!” The Sargerei send out dark waves of magic which send them all flying. Brungur and Talron crashed into the rocks not far from each other. Talron cought heavy. His head spinned. He tried to get up, but he was to weak to stand. Brungur laid limp on his back, unconscious or even dead.

No playing with ice here, mage. You will be my plaything when I’m done with the others.” The Sargerei muttered a spell. Talron felt his body freeze as shadowy tentacles appeared and caged him. He could only watch as the Sargerei walked toward Ellie and levitated her slightly off the ground. He grinned: “I will enjoy this.” Ellie eyed him in horror. Talron could only watch and listen to her helpless coughing and gagging as the Sargerei drained her until only a dry husk remained.

He picked up Telroms sword and cut the Dwarfs head off in one fell swing.

He turned, smiling at Talron: “just to be sure.”

He activated more runes around the portal. “You’re coming with me, mage. My apprentice can use some practice.”

He cast a spell which Talron didn’t recognize. He felt himself fainting, falling towards a dark void. Just before his senses went dark he heard shots firing and a savage war cry. Talron tried to fight the coming darkness but he could not stop falling and within seconds, everything went dark.

The broken stones of the streets cracked under Talron’s feet as he walked through what once was his home, Theramore.

He looked at the crater where the great mage tower once stood. The arcane power of the blast that lingered in the ground and air laid heavy on him. He casted a tracking spell which led him the center of the crater, where the energy was the strongest.

‘This should do. The energy seems to be the strongest here’, he thought to himself.

He pulled reagents from his pack. The eerie quietness of the decimated city made him second guess himself for a second. ‘No other option now, I must know’. He laid the gem on the ground and burned some incense behind it. He looked at the small herb pouch for a second before crushing it completely it in his hand. A sweet, soothing aroma rose from it and for a moment Talron felt his senses relaxing.

The sound of footsteps alerted him. He turned to see a hooded figure cast a large shadow into the crater upon him. “Finally you’ve arrived”.

The figure raises his hand and a stinging pain assaults Talron’s mind. He falls to his knees, the pain is unbearable! As the figure approaches slowly, Talron looks up, trying to see the face of his attacker. But his vision is blurred and he can only see a big shadowy blob approach him. The shadowbolt strikes him before he can react and Talron wakes up, screaming and bathing in sweat. He looks around, but finds no enemy. He only sees wounded people lying around the campfire.

Talron, are you ok?”

A priest enters the line of the campfire light: “I heard you scream.”

She hands him a waterskin which he gladly accepts. “You took a fierce blow, let me see.”

She examines his head while muttering a cleansing spell. “Well, all the lingering shadow magic is gone, so it seems to me you just had a nightmare.”

He nods while swallowing the water. “I have a lot of those, lately.”

Well, I’m not surprised since this place has a strange influence on people.”

Talron looks at her silently, not sure what to say.

She smiles and extends her hand: “Come, let’s watch the sunrise. It will do you good.”

She helpes him rise on his feet. A few minutes later they start their ascend of the watchtower.

How long have I been out?”

Only two or three days. Brungur took a more severe beating so we transported him of the island.

You were lucky we arrived when we did. You could all be killed if we were a few minutes later. Why didn’t you froze him Talron? You could have saved Ellie and possibly Telrom too.”

I, I can’t explain. I don’t use frost magic.”

She puts her hand on his back and simply replies: “Oh, I see.”

When they reach the top of the tower she pulls him to the north side: “Come here, at the edge. Not only is it the most quiet place in the camp, it allows us to see Suramar in the morning light.”

She was right. As the sun rose above the horizon, it provided a stunning view of the sunrise. Talron closed his eyes to enjoy the morning light and allow the light breeze blow through his hair.

He felt her hand on his shoulder: “Calm your mind. Let the light flow through you.”

A warm energy starts to flow through him and his mind relaxes from the stress of the last couple of weeks. And with that relaxation came relief. With that relief came a different feeling. A deep sorrow filled him and a tear rolls down his cheek.

After a while, her hand leaves his shoulder and she whispers in his ear: “take your time to relax, you will be needed soon enough.”

Talron opened his eyes and turned toward her. “Wait, please. I.. I don’t know how to thank you for that.”

She smiles: “It’s fine Talron, we all must play our parts in this life.”

Impulsively he bowed as a gesture of thanks.

He hears her giggle a bit: “Your a good man Talron, despite what people say about you.”

Talron feels his cheeks color a bit as she walks away, down the stairs. He turns around and leans against the edge of the tower, watching her disappear between the tents of Deliverance Point moments later.

After what must have been a half hour Talron felt hungry and went down the stairs to find breakfast. When he exits the tower a familiar voice greetes him: “Meeting the ladies on top of the tower now, eh?”

He looks at the Demon Hunter who casually leans against the base of the tower.“That’s none of your business.”

Just be careful with the new recruits Talron, they might end up injured if they stay around you too long. I on the other hand…”

He interrupts her: “Did you want something Calia?”

A messenger arrived who asked for you. He’s at the command center.”

He nods as a thanks and walks past her.

Just let me know when you want to meet on the tower eh!”

The watch commander and the messenger salute him when he enters: “Talron, your actions here have not gone unnoticed in the upper ranks. This man bears a message from Dalaran.”

Without waiting for Talron’s reply the messenger gives him a sealed scroll: “Please read out loud, so your orders are known to the watch commander.”

Talron nods and openes the scroll:


your actions in the war against the Legion have been decisive and true to our cause. You are hereby relieved from your duty at the Broken shore and ordered to leave as soon as possible. Report to the Violet Citadel.


He looks at the two men, still digesting the message. He was relieved from this dreadful place. The watch commander nods and salutes: “You are relieved of duty soldier. Pack your things and say your goodbyes to the men Talron. Your talents are needed elsewhere. Good luck.”

As his gryphon approaches Dalaran, Talron recounts the events of his strange morning. He had quickly packed his gear and took only little time to eat something whilst saying goodbye to the others. Some almost seemed too happy to watch him leave. It didn’t matter to him. Most of them were about to be replaced anyway, so he wouldn’t remember most of them in a couple of weeks. He didn’t know why Modera needed him, but he would be there as soon as he could get there. He urged his gryphon on. Noon was approaching fast and he felt he’d already lost too much time.

Krasus landing and the streets were mostly empty. With most adventurers currently on the Argus war front, the city had calmed down after the earlier frenzy it had been in. Talron had been given the choice to go to the front again, but the battle on the Broken Shore had drained him. Only with peace returning to the isles he felt a bit like his old self.

Ah Talron, you’re here.”

Archmage Modera. I came as fast as I could.”

That I see, Talron. Come, I have a guest waiting at the Purple Parlor. Would you join us?”

It would be my pleasure, Archmage.”

They quietly walked towards the Violet Citadel among the many merchants and mages who were doing their daily routines. “It’s so much more like the old days, after the Lich King campaign.”

Modera nodded in agreement: “Yes, while the city has been active player in the world’s politics ever since our victory in Northrend. Only now the people are able to relieve a little stress since the start of the Legion campaign. It seems that we’ve been on the forefront of the battle ever since the invasions started. I can only hope that the time for healing will be soon. It has been stressful on all of us.”

Yes, I’ve seen men do strange things for glory to slay just a couple demons. When I was only a novice during the Lich King campaign, I saw men be broken at the sight of the horrors. I didn’t understand it then. The demon invasion challenged and strained people in a similar way. Only I was more ready to face it now.”

He paused: “Nevertheless, it had its impact and we all bear scars.”

She looked at him: “And how are your scars healing, Talron?”

Talron stopped walking. He looked at Modera, not knowing how to respond. She eyed him cautiously before breaking the uneasy silence between them: “I’m sorry, Talron. I did not mean to..”

I assume you read the report archmage. You know what I’ve seen and you know about my past. Don’t you never, ever ask this again!”

I’m sorry Talron, I overstepped.” She bowed slightly in disgrace and quietly entered the Violet Citadel.

A few minutes later they entered the Purple Parlor via a portal. “Sorry about the security. We’ve locked this place down since the recent attacks. Please make yourself comfortable. My guest will arrive shortly. I believe he had errants in the city.”

She approached a table in the corner: “Wine?”

Talron grumbled at her, still a bit upset: “No thank you, I’m fine.”

A light appears in the corner and a man with blue hair enters the room. “Sorry I’m late. There were some… complications.”

That’s fine Kalecgos. This is Talron, our man for the job.”

Kalecgos approaches quickly and seemed to measure him when they shake hands. “Talron, I’ve heard good things about you. Something wrong?”

That would be my fault” Modera intervened. Kalecgos looks at Modera and nods understandingly. She offers him a glass.

O, thank you, it’s never to early for Dalaran Red.”

They sit down into large chairs and the dragon looked at both. Modera motioned him to start.

Let’s talk situation before assignment, yes?”

Talron nods in approval.

Kalecgos takes a sip and starts: “With the victory at the tomb and our forces at Argus we finally have the time on our hands to focus on loose ends. As you must know most of the Order Halls have a long history with guarding certain aspects of this world. The Council of Tirisgarde was reformed to provide a base for the government of mages and wizards. For example we recently caught a former tutor who was experimenting with Fel magic beyond his power. That is something we don’t need anymore. There are plenty of warlocks trainers with control, but this one lacked the very notion of it.”

Modera snorted, “there are not many warlocks with a good sense of control in this world.”

But they exist, and have proven themselves useful in our struggles,” countered Kalecgos. She shrugged at the notion and continued her drink quietly.

Kalecgos pauses briefly before continuing: “I want you to find Jaina Proudmoore.”

Talron looks up in great surprise at the dragon: “What, you don’t think she is experimenting with the Fel?”

Kalecgos smiles at Talron’s surprise: “No, it’s not that. But ever since her… falling out with the Kirin Tor we’ve spend only little time together. It thought I could help her see reason after all that happened. I think I eventually drove her away. Now I am not sure how she feels about our.. relationship.”

And why would you need me, exactly? I’m not sure what I can do that you, a former Aspect and her companion cannot. Or you, for that matter, archmage.”

Talron looked at Modera who still said nothing.

Kalecgos got up from his chair: “Good question. At first I wanted to leave the Kirin Tor out my business. But I cannot abandon my duties to the Tirisgarde and the Kirin Tor to search for her myself. And the world is a big place to hide in.”

Kalecgos looked out the window: “To be frank, I’m clueless where to find her.”

Modera continued: “A member of the council or our spy network actively searching for her is suspicious and would achieve the opposite. She is far to clever for that. So that leaves us with you.”

She empties her glass: “I don’t believe she sees you as a threat. You are not an official member of the Kirin Tor and you share a past with her: Kul Tiras and Theramore. These are powerful assets in this quest. Besides that, I have been following you ever since you were a novice. In you burns the passion of your people and a devotion to the art of magic. Combined with your sharp mind you are a dangerous warrior on the battlefield. I’ve also read the reports on your dangerous but successful tactics on the Broken Shore. I am not blaming you for the last mission, but we’ve felt now was the right time for you to move on.”

She pauses for a moment: “I always wondered how the apprentice boy that came with an invasion fleet got redemption and got to study in our city. Jaina saw something in you, allowed you to develop your skills. And now we need your skills to find her before she does anything to….”

The world will always be changing” interrupted Kalecgos: “But we need to know who we can call upon when the need is dire, and which side people will choose when another conflict rises. So we ask you to find out were Jaina is and what her motives are.”

Talron leaned back in his chair, pondering his options. He came to the conclusion they had given him no choice.

Allright. I will search for her, but I don’t know where to start.”

The dragon turns and smiles at him: “That we can help you with.” He grabs a small chest from a table in the corner and puts it before Talron on the table. “When we last spoke, she was talking about Theramore again. She wanted to perform a ritual to give the restless spirits peace. These are the reagents needed but we never got the chance to perform the ritual. Go to Theramore and perform the ritual on a full moon. The next full moon is coming up. Which is also why we are taking action now. If Jaina is there when you arrive, she can help you. If not, you’re on your own. The reagents are sealed in this chest. You should have enough time to get there.”

Talron shakes his head: “I’m sorry, but why aren’t you coming along for the ritual? You could portal us over, perform the ritual and return before dawn. Or you could fly faster then I ever could travel on my own.”

Kalecgos lets out a drawn-out sigh. “This ritual is not a thing to take lightly, Talron. The spirits can give important messages. Perhaps they can tell you about Jaina’s location. But you need the right magical and emotional investment to partake… One I’m not ready to take,” he adds quickly before he empties his glass with a big gulp.

To be fair,”Modera started. “I want nothing to do with this ritual. That cursed place has already cost us so much. If this were not necessary, I would not send you there.”

After a moment of silence, Talron stands up takes the chest: “Then I want a leave of absence for doing your dirty work.”

Kalecgos lookes at Modera and nods: “Fair enough. You served the Alliance cause well during the last campaigns. Once you’ve completed your mission you will have it, for as long as you need.”

Modera gives Talron a scroll. “For your mission you are allowed to enter my personal vault and take what you need for the journey. This will grant you access. Please write everything you take in the ledger on the table. Afterwards, take the portal to Darnassus and contact Elissa Dumas. She has a mount ready for you. Just show her this seal.”

Talron puts both items in his pack and turns to leave. “One more thing before you leave Talron.” He turns back to face Modera. “This conversation never took place. Just say you are on personal business with an approved leave of absence. A visit to your old home, if you will. You know the drill.”

He nods understandingly at them before taking the portal out. Kalecgos sighs and turns to Modera: “He a good man, but I fear for the outcome of this mission.”

She walks towards the table and fills her glass: “For us there is little risk in this mission. If he succeeds, we will gain valuable intelligence.” She faces him, bottle in hand: “And if he fails, we’d lose only a small asset. Refill?”

Talron’s preparations were few and fast. First the commerce exchange for repairs, followed by the bank. In Modera’s vault he found a number of items useful for the mission: A scrying orb, which he would need to find a suitable place for the ritual. He also took some vellum and ink to document his findings. When he listed his materials a glimmer in the corner of a shelf caught his eye: a soul crystal!

It would not be necessary for his mission, but it might be useful when dealing with of summoning spirits. Perhaps the the crystal could help as a conduit, if he somehow needed to recreate it or capture a spirit for further use. He weighed it in his hand, probing the item with his mind. The crystal was not empty. It had a hint of familiarity about it he could not place. Not wanting to waste more time he quickly packed everything and departed. After promising the manager everything was in order he went to the inn to take a short bath, ate something and collected his gear before taking the portal to Darnassus.

It was late in the afternoon when he found Elissa Dumas in the Temple of the Moon. When he showed her Modera’s seal she quickly invited him outside for a walk. “Just to be clear, I don’t want to know any details of your mission, mage. Those upstarts at Dalaran got me into enough trouble earlier.”

What?” Replied Talron. “I just came to you because I was told you would have transport to Theramore. That’s all.”

She looks surprised: “Really? Well if that’s the case follow me.” They walk towards the bank where she orders a particular box opened. Afterwards she escorts him through the portal towards the pier where she hands him a pouch with a portal stone and some gold. “Sorry about the comment earlier, I was expecting somebody else. Now listen, the easiest way to get to Theramore is to portal across the continent to Feathermoon and take a hippogryph there. Flying all the way is a silly way to spend time and resources. This portal stone will get you to Feathermoon. I cannot teleport you to Theramore because of safety concerns. When you arrive in Feralas, talk to Fyldren Moonfeather. He will see you off early tomorrow against extra payment. Remember that no one else on this continent knows about your mission so be careful. Fly all the way through the Needles to the sea. The Barrens and western Dustwallow are crawling with Horde soldiers eager to take any human down. Avoid those places if you can.”

Talron nodded. “Noted. Thank you for your help, and saving me some riding pains.”

She smiles: “we are mages, no need to make life hard on ourselves if it’s not necessary. Besides, I love to make the plans of the big shots look silly.”

Talron grinnes at her remark. “I like you way of thinking.”

She waves a goodbye and turns to walk back towards the portal, up into Teldrassil. Talron watches her leave before focusing his energy on the stone and muttering the incantation.

The portal stone turns to dust the moment he arrives outside of Feathermoon Stronghold in Feralas. The sun was already sinking below the horizon when he entered the tavern. It was slowly being filled with the townsfolk, but at the moment still relatively quiet. Determined to sleep and rise early, he booked a room and went up.

He wanted to sleep but his mind was busy processing the information of the day. The increasing noise coming from below did not help either. He sat upright for a moment thinking about his current situation. Though alone for the first time in many months, he missed having company around.

Talron let out a big sigh. He knew he was as much in need of his promised vacation as he was in need of a drink right now before sleep. He dressed and went down.

The tavern had filled with noisy merchants and guards. Some were boasting about some story or adventure they went on some time ago, while others were playing cards.

He found a quiet place in the corner with a glass of Pinot Noir, which seemed to be the only decent stuff that was sold here. Most of the townsfolk already had too much alcohol for the rest of the evening, but it didn’t seem to bother them. There was one that was particular loud. He approached different tables to see if he could make friends, in which he wasn’t that successful. He couldn’t see the man’s face but there was something familiar about the man. For a moment, Talron could feel the slight chill from the sea drifting into the room. He closed his eyes and shivered briefly. He was getting tired and his head heavy, which was exactly what he wanted. He was abruptly interrupted from his stupor when the man smacked his mug on the table and sat dow: “I thought I spied you coming down the stairs earlier Talron.”

Talron opened his eyes and looked at the man who gave him a big smile. “Jace?”

The man nodded. “In the flesh old friend. How have you been?”

I’m doing allright Jace. And you?”

Couldn’t be better.” Jace took a swig of his drink. “So, what brings a mage of the Kirin Tor to this corner of the world?”

Talron smiled: “I am no official member of the Kirin Tor. They want to, but I don’t care about the politics or the purple tabard.”

Yeah, I know the feeling. So I heard you went to Stormwind after your studies. But I also heard you were on the Broken Shore fighting with the Kirin Tor, so I thought..”

Talron quickly countered him: “You heard wrong. I was on the Broken Shore, because we needed to make a stand Jace. During the Pandaren campaign we saw that there is much to protect on this planet. But that does not necessarily mean that the Kirin Tor is the only available faction to do the heavy lifting for.”

Jace grumbled at the notion and took an even bigger gulp of his drink. Talron could smell the alcohol of which his old classmate clearly had to much already.

Silence fell between the men. After a while, Talron asked: “So what brings you to Kalimdor, Jace. Last I heard you were to report in after suspicious activities of your new teacher.”

Yeah, that wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I went for a teacher with a practical mindset. Don’t get me wrong, the time I spend with him was certainly worth it. But he was messing with power beyond his skill. So I had to stop him before things went horribly wrong.”

You did the right thing Jace.”

Yeah…. I know. But it felt wrong. I took a leave of absence to get away from the politics, help people and make new friends.”

Well, your not having much luck with that here.”

Not here, no. But I’ve met some interesting new people along the way.”

Jace finished his drink in a big gulp and stared at Talron for a while, as if he wanted to read his thoughts: “But you are on Kirin Tor business here?”

Talron, who had let his mind wander off again snapped back to reality: “Sorry, what’s that?”

You are on Kirin Tor business here, yes? Not a member of the Kirin Tor, but on personal business for the Kirin Tor. Why else would you be in a Horde corner of the continent.”

Talron smiled at Jace’s inquisitive posture: “Ah, you got me there. Almost correct. I’m on personal leave too. Just having a little vacation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am taking my leave. It has been a long day.” He got up, and retreated to his room where he fell into an uneasy sleep.

Talron left the tavern before dusk. It was as quiet as he intended with this early departure. The flight master looked a little grumpy at Talron for coming this early, but a little extra gold changed his mood. He quietly departed Feathermoon to the north side and arched back to the southeast just over the tree line when he was out of sight. He didn’t want to take the chance of being followed, but Talron was not in the mood to lose a lot of time with flying circles.

He urged his hippogryph as low over the trees as he dared and pushed it even more down towards the water when he entered the Needles. The salty air became stronger the closer he came to the sea. He thought back on his first arrival in Kalimdor. His marvel at the barren lands to the north and south, split by the swamp of Dustwallow and the forest of Feralas. The first landing, the battles and being left behind by his fleeing brethren when the situation got rough….

He quickly dismissed the memories. No time for the past: He had reached his destination: Theramore Isle!

His stomach turned at the sight of his former home. Talron heard of the devastation, but never had the guts to actually face it. A few buildings still hinted at its former glory, while the rest was a reminder of the destruction that took place here. After a moment, Talron pressed on. He was on a mission. He made flyby to see if there was activity in the vicinity of the former city. He could see no ships or movement. Still, he wanted to be careful. He cast a spell of sight and urged his mount higher in the air before making another scouting round. Satisfied at the result, he landed on the southern part of the island.

He unloaded his mount at the old stables and gave it some food. Because he didn’t need it later he would release it near the sea. From there it would find its way back home while he would teleport to Stormwind.

He went in the old stables and did a final check with his gear over breakfast. While everything seemed to be in order he still wasn’t sure about the ritual. His gut feeling told him it was more dangerous then both Modera and Kalecgos told him. He wanted a safe place to perform the ritual, which the scrying would help him find. It would reveal the spot were the arcane energy would be the strongest. At best this would take a couple of hours if he was not disturbed.

Talron pondered his safety. He rolled out an old map, reviewing his options. He could not ward the entire island. It was too big, and a flyer could pass by wards placed on the edges of the island itself.

Then there was the option of teleporting in. He thought of Jaina. So far there was no evidence of her being here, but far less skilled mages could also portal in and interrupt him. And he was technically still in Horde territory, which was also a concern. Besides that, the possibility of an attack by a force other then Horde members was also very much present.

He cursed softly. There were too many unknown factors. Still, that never stopped him before.

He marked four scrying spots outside of the crater. These would do, but there was one more thing he was curious about. The graveyard. He spotted it during his flyby earlier. From what he was told, the bodies were mostly devoid of any arcane energy at the time of their burial…

He quickly dismissed the thought. It would be disrespectful to the dead to do a scrying there. He was no shaman, so he could not predict how the spirits would react to the ritual if performed there.

The scrying around the city went relatively quickly. He found the readings that he needed and started making some notes: ‘As expected, the energy seems to be the strongest at the center of the crater. My scrying outside the crater revealed scattered arcane energy. Nothing to be worried about now, but good to monitor over a longer period of time. My reading indicate the crater to be a good place for the ritual. It is now nearing twilight and I will proceed with the ritual in the center.’

Talron studied his map before marking a couple of places around Theramore crater and drew a crude line around it. Placing simple wards around the crater would warn him of any unexpected visitors. He would be out of sight during the ritual, but he could never be too sure.

The sun started to slowly make its descend when he made his way into the crater. With the wards in place, he felt calm and ready. The ritual was easy enough for him to perform. The reagents chest came with written instructions which he only needed to follow.

He started by lighting the incense and creating a small fire below the ritual bowl. The air seemed to soften a bit and Talron felt the present energy grow stronger around him. He read aloud: “Come to me spirits, I know of your unrest. Come to me. I will perform your last deed. Come to me, I will be your messenger.

He took the potion from the chest and drank it. He felt his head growing weary. His sight blurred.

Before him, shapeless image appeared. Talron took a step back, regaining balance. He took the last of the reagents and crushed it into the ritual bow. The air grew heavy and seemed to push him down. He had to fight hard to keep to his feet: “Spirits, come to me. If no deed is needed, be at peace. Leave this place for your eternal rest. Come to me so I know your unrest. I will carry your message. Come to me and find your final rest.

Talron looked up, feeling dizzy. Clouds seemed to be swirling in the sky. He looked at the spirits before him. There number grew as more came from all sides and gathered around him. Before long, some floated upwards before disappearing mid-air.

He recognized some of the shapes as they disappeared. They were warriors from the lost battle. Those who answered Theramore’s call for help. But there were also familiar faces of people he once knew. Among them were Aden, Byron, Craig and Torq. Talron felt the gratefulness of the spirits wash over him. These people taught him, cared for him. A tear rolled down his face as more familiar shapes and faces gathered around the ritual site. Some smiled as they seemed to recognize Talron, before vanishing into thin air.

He felt blessed to see them pass on. His tears were flowing freely now. Talron realized that no matter how hard he tried to forget the horrible event that happened here, these people were his family. They deserved a proper farewell from him. He found happiness here after his former comrades abandoned him. There was one in particular that supported and cared for him when he was alone. One face he was looking for through the many shapes that were coming and passing to the next world.

After every other spirit had vanished, only two shapes remained. Talron recognized the one he was looking for: his former master. He was flanked by another who seemed to be out of place. Like he was searching for something. It wanted it’s message to be heard. Talron looked at the figure and recognized the spirit’s face. It was Rhonin!

Talron quickly read the last piece of the incantation: “Come to me spirit, let me know your grief. Come to me and let me carry your message. Come to me: Rhonin of the Kirin Tor.

For a moment the spirit shimmered in and out of existence, but then his form solidified. Rhonin’s spirit approached him and put his hands on Talron’s shoulders. Images and emotions flowed through Talron’s head. Images of Rhonin pushing Jaina through a portal to safety. A final view of her, knowing she would be safe. Then Talron saw her grieving near the crater and at the funeral ceremony, much later. He felt gratefulness, but also a powerless feeling of sorrow coming from Rhonin. He looked at spirit when it stepped back: “You saved her life, but you could not save her heart. ”

Talron looked around him. The last standing pieces of the once wonderful city, bathing in the last sun light, edged the crater. “I too, have suffered from this loss. And I too forget how easily we take our living friends for granted. She must have felt so lost, as if the whole world was against her.”

He looked to the ground, feeling deep regret: “I’m sorry Jaina, I wished I’ve had the courage to talk to you. To help you like you helped me when I was alone. I’m so sorry.”

He allowed himself to weep for a moment. He looked up at Rhonin’s spirit and felt its gratefulness. The spirit smiled, bowed slightly and then slowly vanished. “Thank you, master Rhonin.”

After he regained his composure he looked at the last spirit remaining. It’s attention seemed outside of the crater, to the northwest. “Master Alder?”

The spirit looked at him while shimmering in and out of existence. It seemed troubled. Then slowly, the spirit started to move away from him.

Please, master Alder. Don’t go.”

Talron started to walk towards the spirit, who had moved out of the crater. “Wait, please.” He started to run, but could not keep up. His legs started to give in. He tried to reach for the spirit of his former master, but he fell to the ground and his eyes went black.

When Talron woke it was the middle of the night. He could see the moon and the stars clearly in the heavens. He’d hit his head hard. He slowly rose to his feet and coughed hard. The ritual had taken more out of him then he expected. Though his experience on the war front had showed him many kinds of strain, he hadn’t experienced a backlash like this for a long time.

He slowly made his way to the stables to rest. He took out some food to regain strength while collecting his thoughts. He must have been out for at least a couple of hours.

The air was be filled with sounds of the marsh. At the same time, the energy in and around the crater seemed to have died down. He thought of master Alder, who’s spirit was not able to leave. It moved to the north west. To the graveyard!

He quickly packed his things and got up. His aching body urged him to slow down while he slowly made his way to the north west.

When he reached the graveyard all seemed in order. The crickets were tjirping and couple of owls were gazing at him from the trees. Talron looked for his former master’s grave but could not see it. There were so many nameless graves. It would be an impossible task to find him.

Talron took the soul crystal from his pack and held it in front of him. It could be used as conduit to summon a spirit, but this was no magic to take lightly. Though he felt weary, experience had taught him that sometimes sacrifices had to be made to reach a certain goal. He had to know what his former master wanted to tell him!

He focused him mind on the crystal to start the spell when he heard branches snapping behind him. He turned at the cracking of feet when he was struck down with a heavy magic attack. Talron looked up, still a bit hazy from the shadow magic. A familiar face kneeled beside the floored mage.

Hello Talron. A shame that I have to find you here.

He slapped Talron on his cheek, which cleared the haze from Talron’s eyes: “J-Jace?”

In the flesh, old friend.”

He took Talron’s hand and pulled him on his feet before taking a few steps back to observe him. “Hmm, that one hit quite hard. I thought you could take more then a simple shadow attack. O well, it doesn’t matter.”

Talron felt a shadowy grip around his neck. Life was slowly being drained from him. His legs already gave in and he fell to his knees: “w-why?”

Jace laughed, clearly reveling his current position: “Why? For the one thing that my former master taught me well: Power over others! Only he was meddling with power beyond his capability. That weakling had to be stopped before he killed us both. Only when he was removed other paths opened up to me.”

Talron eyed Jace, realizing his predicament. “Please, stop.”

Can’t do that Talron. My new masters gave this assignment to me. Because of your friends intervening on the Broken Shore my briefing wasn’t complete. But I know the golden rule: leave no witnesses.”

Talron was fanatically trying to break the spell, but it did not work. Jace smiled: “Give it up Talron. I locked your arcane and fire spells. You are powerless.”

Talron’s eyes grew wide of fear. Jace was a powerful mage in his studies. His power could only have grown under the tutelage of a powerful warlock.

Yes, that’s the spirit. Show me your fear. Your fear of losing everything. Your fine heritage could’ve given you so much. But you are too scared of your own power.”

Talron fought to keep awake. His eyes started to blur. He coughed roughly, feeling empty and dry.

It suddenly dawned upon him. There was still a way out. He reached out his hand to the nearby water, desperately trying to attune to the magic present in it.

Jace stepped towards him: “That won’t help you. Remember the last time you tried that? The whole class knew how you nearly killed your master and vouched to never use frost magic again. That’s why you ran after the incident. Scared of hurting those you care for, like Jaina, who was like a sister to you. If only you weren’t so scared Talron, then she would’ve known how you felt. O well, too late now.”

Talron moaned. He ready to give in. Already he saw the spirits around him, dancing above the graves. One came to him and reached out his hand. He closed his eyes in fear, ready to give in……

Talron, are you allright lad?” A familiar voice came to him. Talron opened his eyes and looked up: “Master Alder?”

Talron was in the middle of Theramore City. People stood around him, looking worried. Alder approached him slowly. “Are you okay Talron? Let me look at your fingers son.” His hands felt cold. He looked at them. They were covered in rime. The master mage kneeled beside him and took his hands inside his own: “It’s okay Talron. This is natural. He muttered a spell and removed his hands. The rime was gone. “Good lad, Talron. You’ll be fine. Can you get up?”

Talron shook his head.

Alder smiled. He coughed roughly. Lieutenant Aden put a blanket over the old mage: “Come, master Alder, you need rest.” The man nodded and got up on his feet: “Sometimes we need to accept a little help from others, Talron. Never forget that.” He turned and started to walk away. He looked at Jaina: “Lady Jaina, can you help young Talron?” She nodded and approached Talron, laying her hand on his back and kneeled beside him. He looked into her eyes. “I will never use frost again, Jaina.”

She smiled: “We are mages Talron. These things happen. Never fear it, because it is a part of you as much as it is a part of me. And even if you don’t use it, know it is always inside you. It’s your choice.”

She reached out her hand: “Now, show me your hands, Talron.”

Show me what is in your hand Talron,” Jace repeated. Talron blinked. He felt less cold. There was a new energy pulsing deep inside him. Something he had not felt in a long time. The familiar energy came from the crystal. He wanted to get up, but his strength was failing and he almost collapsed. The soul crystal rolled away. Jace smirked: “A crystal cannot save you Talron. This is your end!”

Talron coughed heavy: “No, it will not end.”

He reached deep inside him and released his newfound energy around him. Something flashed before his eyes. He fell on his hands and coughed hard when the shadowy grip vanished. He looked up. The ground around him was covered in ice. He felt his strength returning and his mind clearing. A water elemental floated patiently near him, keeping the spell active. He looked at the elemental and recognized its energy. It was one of the special elementals the Kul Tiras spellcasters kept with them for battle on land. That’s what he felt in the crystal when he found it earlier.

Talron rose slowly to his feet and picked up the soul crystal. It felt empty. It was probably the home of the elemental for many years. Now he had released it, and in return it had saved him from certain death. He looked at Jace, who was knocked back and frozen in place. He moaned, still dazed by the sudden attack.

Talron realized he had only one chance. He stumbled forward. His opponent slowly sat upright: “I don’t know were that thing came from, but I will kill it after I kill you.”

He raised his hand, preparing for a devastating spell. He then looked up only to find Talron right before him: “No Jace, I will end this now!”

Talron put the gem against Jace’s chest and murmured the incantation.

What? No, no you can’t….aaarrrggghhh”

Talron watched in disgust as the eyes of his adversary turned white and his body went limp and fell over. It was done.

Talron sunk to his knees, exhausted. He looked at the water elemental, which was idly waiting for him. He motioned it to go. He had no use for it. It slowly moved towards the water and sunk into the ocean beyond Talron’s sight, free at last.

After he regained some strength, Talron walked back to his pack to search for the reagent chest. He put the crystal next to his half-written notes and tucked it away. He searched for something he fetched from his own bank deposit before leaving Dalaran: A portal stone for Stormwind. Though he had not used one in a long time, it was still something he kept for emergency situations. It offered a direct teleport with only little input needed. He focused on the imprint he made in the stone long ago. A blinding flash followed and he sunk exhausted to the floor of the mage tower. His eyes turned black as he heard voices calling for a healer.

Talron woke slowly. He moaned at the light coming through the windows. A familiar figure slowly closed the curtains. She turned around and took a seat next to his bed.

J-Jaina?” He said with a hoarse voice.

Hello Talron, feeling better?”

He nodded. His throat was dry and he couldn’t sat more. “Good. We were a bit worried when you teleported in, in a near dead state. You did not use the portal stone correctly there. It could’ve killed you.”

Talron shifted uneasy in his bed, but every muscle in his body ached. “Just relax Talron. The healers say you’ll be up in a couple of days. Your pack is in the possession of Maginor Dumas since we were not sure what happened to you. There is nothing dangerous in it, right?”

Talron shook his head. Jaina smiled and got up: “Good, I’ll have it delivered to you tomorrow. Come and visit me when you’re up. I suppose you want to talk about what happened. Just rest for now. You’re safe here.”

When Jaina had left Talron shifted some more, trying to get a bearing of his room. “Please lie still, your body is still weak!” the nurse said as she approached him. She gave him a bit of water and casted a healing spell on him. He recognized the healing light from the priest on the Broken Shore and relaxed. Slowly his mind drifted off and for the first time in weeks, he slept well.

His strength returned as promised over the next couple of days. He used the time to finish his report on the ritual and his encounter with Jace. The first place he visited when released from the healers was the mage quarter and speak with Maginor Dumas. There he also met Jaina who was pleased to see him in good health. Over a small lunch Talron recalled the experience he had in Theramore: “I never knew the receiving end of that power. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened and how I defeated Jace, but he should never be released again.”

Dumas stopped eating for a moment: “I understand your sentiments Talron, but that is not your decision to make. The Kirin Tor will judge this warlock. You did well in handling him as with handling the ritual.”

He smiled: “Don’t look surprised, lad. Jaina told me of the ritual you performed. Modera shouldn’t have send you alone. I even consider it non ethical.”

I concur,” Jaina added. “It was designed with two in mind, to complement the magical and emotional investment. Modera was out of line to send you alone.”

Talron looked surprised at the master mages: “How do you know..?”

Dumas smiled: “When I found her seal in your possession I contacted her. She told me nothing of your mission, but made me promise you would sent a report before leaving Stormwind.”

Talron smiled: “Well, I survived, so I can write her one. It won’t take long.”

Dumas nodded: “If you want you can use my study here to finish your report. I have a meeting with the king. The war is ending Talron, The Legion stronghold is being breached as we speak. It will not be long before victory is ours!”

He finished his meal and got up. “If you want me to send anything to Modera, please let me know. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go.”

Dumas left the room in a hurry, leaving Talron alone with Jaina and his thoughts.

After a while, she broke the silence. “So, what was it like? The ritual I mean.”

I saw them Jaina. I saw our friends and family. Byron, Craig and even master Alder. People who cared for us who were slaughtered by an abomination.”

She stared at her empty plate: “Well, now you know why I left the Kirin Tor. They wanted to allow the people in who killed our family. I just couldn’t be there anymore.”

I know, Jaina. But the Kirin Tor wants to hold their neutral stance in the world. And the Horde is a part of this world.”

Do you approve of their methods, then?”

No, I’m just saying that there are good people in the Horde who can be a part of the Kirin Tor. Part of that family. Just as you allowed me into yours.”

She looked at him, surprised: “But you are from Kul Tiras, Talron. It was only normal for me to give you a fair chance at a new life.”

Well, it wasn’t normal for me Jaina.”

Silence fell for a moment. Talron got up from his chair and walked to the window, which looked out over the sea.

Why didn’t you tell me this earlier, Talron?”

I couldn’t. I was too scared of what happened to say anything to you. Besides, you were always preoccupied. So I thought, you know..”

But I would’ve made time for you, Talron.” She got up and approached him: “You are family to me, Talron. Never forget that.”

He turned and smiled: “And you are like a sister to me, Jaina. And I will never forget all that you did for me.”

He suddenly thrusts himself forward and hugs her. Everything around them seemed to quiet down for a moment while he hugs her deeply and she slowly strokes his hair. When they break, he looks her into the eyes and whispers: “Thank you.”

Anytime, Talron. That what’s family is for.”

A knock on the door turns their attention away from each other. A soldier in regal colors enters. “Pardon me, Lady Proudmoore. The King requests your presence.”

She nods at the man: “Please wait outside, I will come shortly.” The soldier salutes and leaves the room.

Sorry Talron, duty calls.” She walks to her staff and cloak in the corner.

So it seems. Before you go, do you want to know the other reason I was at Theramore?”

She looks at him for a second, their eyes locking onto each other. “Were you looking for me? Why did you think I was going to be there? O, now I understand: Kalecgos and Modera.”

He nodded. “The whole thing was their idea.”

She smiles briefly: “If Kalec also send you he must be worried about me.”

Please understand the position they’re in.”

Her expression hardens: “Oh I understand. But they took too much risk with this mission. You could have died twice there Talron!”

I know Jaina. But if you can let them know…..”

I will not do anything Talron. You can let them know my allegiance lies with the Alliance and King Anduin. I will have nothing to do with the Kirin Tor!”

Talron eyed her, startled by her fierce response. She quickly approached him and laid a hand on his cheek: “Please understand Talron, I..” A knock on the door interrupted her: “My Lady?”

He put his hand on hers: “I understand Jaina. I will tell them.”

Her expression softens: “Thank you.”

Talron smiles back and motions her to go. She turns and quickly leaves with the impatient soldier.

For the first ten minutes after that, Talron stares out of the window. He recalls the last couple of days before deciding how to finish his report. He walks to the writing table were he opens the small chest to read his report one last time.

A novice entering the room startles him from his thoughts. “O, excuse me sir. Can I clean the table?”

Yes, go ahead” said Talron whilst staring at the large map on the wall.

Boy, when does the next ship to Kul Tiras leave?”

I don’t know sir, I’d have to ask.”

Talron smiles at him: “Please do.”

The boy left in a hurry with the dishes, leaving Talron to finish his report. He then wax-sealed it and placed it in the chest, next to the soul crystal. He took it out and held it into the light. Nothing could be seen of its dangerous contents, but it felt much more cold then it did when he first found it in Modera’s vault. He tucked it into a small pouch and placed it back into the chest. Talron wanted to be sure only Modera could open the chest, so he used her seal to magically lock it. Where he was going, he wouldn’t need his ties with the Kirin Tor.

He heard to boy enter the room, still puffing after a long run. “Sir, the ship will leave in half an hour. Captain’s would wait 15 minutes extra for you.”

Good lad.” He shot him a coin which the boy expertly caught. He pointed at the chest: “Please ask Master Dumas to send this off, he knows where. Now, I where can I find that ship?”

As Stormwind grew smaller Talron looked at the stalward sailers of the Kul Tiras ship. Some things never seem to change in the world, he thought. The captain approached him with great interest, eager to learn something about his last-minute passenger. He was an old man, and had a hint of familiarity about him. He quickly dismissed the thought and smiled heartily at the man: “Should be smooth sailing.”

Aye. Weather’s good. Shouldn’t take long.”

The captain eyed him silently for a moment, as if he’d seen a ghost. “So, First time going to the islands lad?”

Talron smiled: “No, I’m going home.”