Featuring a Guest Appearance from Lissanna of Restokin!
In hindsight, walking through the Trade District mouth agape and eyes ever on the still molten-hot front gates of Stormwind was not the best of ideas. Even though Effraeti had her arm entwined with Lazheward’s, his gaze was drawn to the same sight, and Effy soon found herself colliding with the large shoulder of another gentleman in the square before the wide marble steps of the Auction House.
“Oh! Pardon me, sir!” Effy offered, blushing furiously.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” a gruff and strangely accented voice replied. The gentleman turned to her in mid-apology, probably to make sure she was not jarred or bruised from the encounter.
Effy was about to stammer an explanation when she realized what she was face to face with – feral but intelligent eyes, no mere nose but instead a furry grey muzzle filled with numerous jagged, overlapping teeth. The hand that reached for her was similarly furred, each finger tipped with a razor-sharp claw.
Before she could even stop herself, Effraeti loosed a terrified scream, catching the notice of several in the crowded square. “Worgen!” she managed.
This did not fail to draw her companion’s attention, and Lazheward quickly stepped before her, taking up a defensive stance and drawing his mace and shield.
Oddly enough, the wolf-creature did not attack, nor flee, he did however exhale a deep sigh. He raised his clawed hands before him and began to speak with his strange accent again.
“Surely, chap, I meant no harm to the lady. Merely ensuring she is alright after such a jounce.”
Effy stared at the Worgen incredulously, peering from behind Lazheward who bore a similar expression.
“It speaks?” the woman mumbled into her mate’s shoulder.
“I truly thought all this silliness behind us at this point,” the Worgen snapped, his tone now an irritated growl. “But I suppose a less imposing visage would do better for city commerce.” A pained expression flinched across the Worgen’s face and he shrunk before their very eyes and turned the pinkish color of human flesh. Dark hair, dark eyes and a neatly-trimmed goatee replaced the wolfish features, and the hand that smoothed his facial hair was now without claws or fur.
All that remained of the creature from a moment before was a dressrobe of black silk and the annoyed expression.
“By the Light!” Laz whispered. “What fel magic is this?”
The dark-haired man snorted his displeasure, a flicker of his former wolfish features alighting on his face. “I cannot imagine what King Greymane was thinking, forging this absurd alliance! If I wanted treatment like this, I would stroll through the depths of the Undercity! Good day!” And with that, the man-wolf spun on the heel of his boot and stalked off into the pressing crowd.
Both speechless and still seeking to grasp this most unusual of encounters, Laz and Effy looked at one another in stunned silence as the square resumed its previous activity.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Pardon us, Sister,” Lazheward began as he gently touched the shoulder of the Draenei woman. She looked up serenely from her parchment and gave them both a warm, inviting smile. “My partner and I have been abroad for sometime and were hoping to catch up on current events with someone more informed.”
The woman’s smile broadened. “Of course. Please share my table with me.” She gestured to the table’s empty seats.
Laz and Effy thanked her and, once settled, introduced themselves. Their new friend’s name was Kiirae and she was a student of the Arcane. This came as no surprise to them, having found her reading in the The Blue Recluse of the Mage Quarter.
Xarzith, Effraeti’s blue whelpling companion, immediately took interest in Kiirae. The tiny dragon had not afforded Laz so much attention in the several months since Effy had rescued her as she now fawned on Kiirae. Xarzith tweeted and chirped excitedly at the Mage in the most curious manner, as if she expected Kiirae to understand. Perhaps in her vast studies, the Mage really did understand, as she seemed to be listening and nodding in reply.
“Forgive me, the young one thought to have recognized me, and though I do understand Draconic, sadly I do not speak it,” was the Mage’s brief response to interaction.
Then, even more curious, Xarzith settled herself on Kiirae’s lap, curled into a ball like a scaly blue lap dog, and drifted off to sleep.
“Fascinating! In the months since I rescued her, Xarzith has only ever done that with me, not even Lazheward!” Effraeti explained, both awed and confused.
“Ice…” Kiirae murmured. “A very apt name for a Blue.”
Effraeti smiled at the compliment, unsure what else to say in response.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Kiirae seemed surprised at the extent of their disorientation, after being questioned about Worgen in Stormwind and the damage to the city’s structures.
“You must have been far from Azeroth indeed to have missed the emergence of the Destroyer. Stormwind is hardly the extent of his wrath. The very elements were in disarray for several moons, the Twilight’s Hammer was seeking to infiltrate the Alliance, and then it seemed the very world was crumbling and attacking us!” The quizzical look on her face deepened. “It all started merely weeks after the fall of the Lich King.”
Lazheward gasped. “He has been defeated?”
Nodding slowly, Kiirae looked at them both in turn. “After the Lich King’s fall, the first assault came on Wyrmrest Temple. The Twilight’s Hammer overpowered the Wardens of Alexstrasza’s Ruby Sanctum and tried to corrupt her eggs, and those of the other Dragon Aspects.” A look of angst crossed her face as she continued. “It was only through the utter destruction of the Sanctums – and all the future offspring of the dragon races – that the Twlight’s Hammer was thwarted.” Kiirae’s voice seemed to catch with emotion and she paused briefly before continuing.
“But it was not long before they were again found to be plotting.
“Doomsayers appeared all over Stormwind, speaking of the end of the world, and preaching that only by joining the ranks of the Twilight’s Hammer and ushering in this apocalypse would they survive and be rewarded. Many flocked to their insane cause.
“Those most in touch with the elements – the Shaman of the Earthen Ring” Kiirae offered a respectful nod towards Effraeti “began sensing the distress of the elements not long before they first began attacking. The Earthen Ring consulted with the Shaman Elders of Draenor, and it was agreed that the elements were in a disarray similar to those on the now-dead planet just before the Shattering there.”
So horrified was she, Effraeti did not notice the disconnected manner in which Kiirae spoke of the Draenei’s once home.
“It was soon after that the attacks began. All of the races’ capitals, towns and outposts were besieged by insane elementals. Elemental Lords emerged and were only just driven into retreat when the very earth beneath our feet began to shake itself apart. Earthquakes and tidal waves and eruptions of long-dead volcanoes wracked the entire surface of Azeroth.
“And then, Deathwing emerged.”
Laz and Effy looked at one another incredulously. “But Deathwing is dead!” Effraeti blurted.
Shaking her head slowly, Kiirae continued, “Not dead, merely dormant. And awoke into a fury by the Twilight’s Hammer.
“For nigh on a year now, Deathwing has terrorized Azeroth from the sky, appearing on a whim and raining down fiery death upon those below him.” The Mage glanced skyward, as if peering through the dim tavern’s ceiling and looking for the insane Aspect even now. “Lately, he seems to be moving his interest northward. He seems to be preparing for a full scale assault – gathering his crazed cultists, unnatural Twilight Dragons, dangerous elementals, and other, nameless creatures even more terrifying.” Kiirae shuddered.
“Has the whole world gone crazy?” Effraeti whispered, discouragement welling in her voice.
“Perhaps, but the Alliance has not been idle in these past months,” Kiirae quickly assured. “Several of Deathwing’s followers and generals have been brought down – the Ogre Mage Cho’gall, the risen abominations of Deathwing’s offspring Nefarion and Onyxia, the Air Lord Al’Akir, the Fire Lord Ragnaros, and great numbers of their lesser commanders.”
Lazheward nodded, silent but thoughtful. His face was a dark mask, hiding his innermost thoughts, but obviously related to the situation laid before them.
Effraeti glanced down at her fidgeting hands, twisting them nervously upon one another. Is this what Chromie and Nozdormu had sent them here for? To stop Deathwing and his cultists? It seemed too daunting a task, Effraeti thought with dismay. What a horrible, nightmarish reality Laz and she had awoke to…
Kiirae had gone silent, seemingly to let the two digest all the information.
“What of the Worgen we encountered in the Trade District?” Effraeti asked, suddenly.
Kiirae nodded. “With the devastation caused by the cataclysm, one result was the fall of the great Greymane Wall. Apparently, during the seclusion of Gilneas and its people, an awful Curse decimated their people – the Worgen Curse. The Night Elves helped to evacuate King Greymane’s people from their homeland when it was attacked by the Forsaken. The Banshee Queen unleashed her vile plague in their capital city, and it was barely with their lives the Gilneans escaped.
“Many of Greymane’s people are now affected by the Worgen Curse but the Night Elves, who seem to know a curious amount about the Curse, have taken the Gilneans in, helped them control their animalistic urges and even convinced King Varian to accept them into the Alliance.”
Effraeti blinked. “So the Worgen are our allies now?”
Kiirae nodded once more. “Similarly, a large portion of the Goblin community has thrown aside their neutrality and banded with the Horde.”
“The world sounds a much different place than the one Laz and I left a short time ago…” Effraeti whispered.
“Indeed,” was all Laz had to offer.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After a small meal shared with Kiirae, Laz and Effy bid her thanks for all her help and left the Mage Quarter.
Obtaining a room at the The Gilded Rose was surprisingly easy as it was a slow season for guests in the capital city.
Once alone, the two removed their travel clothes and dressed for bed. It was a silent action on the behalf of both Draenei, though the thoughts between the two of them surely would have made for quite a cacophony of noise.
They laid down and both stared at the ceiling for the passage of many breaths.
It was Effy who first broke the silence. “This must be where Chromie intended to send us, but what a nightmare it is,” Effraeti whispered into the darkness surrounding them both. The woman shuddered unconsciously and moved herself into Lazheward’s strong arms. He folded them around her, his embrace protective and warm but his demeanor certainly distracted.
“Indeed,” was once more all Laz offered, but he absently stroked Effy’s hair until eventually the breathing of both Draenei fell into sync as exhaustion overtook them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lazheward and Effraeti strolled down the main walk of the Alliance half of Dalaran, making their way past A Hero’s Welcome and in the direction of the coin fountain in Eventide.
It had been about a week since their disorienting last encounter with Chromie, more disorienting because the Bronze had mentioned an important task of which had not yet presented itself. Enigmatic was the way of dragons, and the couple tried to not trouble themselves too much with thoughts of what the Bronzes might have in mind.
Whenever the time was appropriate, they would be told.
So for now, things had gone back to what passed for normal with Laz and Effy – hunting the Scourge and seeking to find the most logical and successful means of getting to the Lich King to end his reign of terror. Other adventurers working alongside the Argent Crusade were beginning to gather en masse throughout Northrend and the preparations for an assault on Icecrown and eventually the Citadel itself were under way.
Just the day before, Laz and Effy had accepted an assignment to work against some of the Scourge forces attacking the Ruby Dragonshrine. It was that task they sought to gather some last minute supplies for. A quick purchase and the two Draenei were on their way to Krasus’ Landing to procure gryphons to Dragonblight.
Once in Dragonblight, the Alliance forces staged there brought Laz and Effy up to speed on the situation. Apparently Scourge forces were assaulting the Shrine and had already slain many of the red dragon protectors. The Alliance forces were seeking to both assist those still protecting the shrine and ensure the Scourge did not raise anymore of the fallen red dragons into undeath.
With a handful of magical seeds each, Lazheward and Effraeti made their way into the Ruby Dragonshrine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Laz dropped a magical seed onto the ground, and immediately green tendrils shot up and began to encase the corpse of the red dragon. Once completely bound by the leafy vines, the dragon’s body was literally swallowed by the ground beneath it, and within moments, there was no trace that it had ever been there.
The two quickly moved on through the Shrine, eager to be done with their grisly task before too much notice was brought to them.
Just as Effy was thinking along those very lines, glancing around anxiously in every direction, a shadowy figure appeared from behind a tree and began to cast a spell.
Effy shouted to Laz and tossed a totem at the same time.
The caster loosed a bolt of shadow that sped at the two Draenei. Mere feet from impact, the bolt veered and exploded against Effy’s airborne totem. The Shaman still flinched at the flash, but wasted no time in recalling the totem to her pouch.
Laz stood defensively before Effy, his mace and shield raised before him. He dared not run at the Necromancer, even though he was already preparing another spell, as more Cult of the Damned were moving into position to surround them. Instead, the Paladin let out a cry while loosing his shield from his hand. The shield spun and knocked down the Necromancer mid-cast upon impact and then glided effortlessly back to Lazheward who caught it and quickly repositioned it on his arm.
But more cultists were beginning to cast spells, and the undead began to scrabble from the rich soil of the Dragonshrine. Twenty or more cultists were chanting, each raising a half dozen undead it seemed.
Laz bit back his dismay and instead set himself for the attack. A few prayers to the Light and he and Effy were both surrounded by golden auras and he blessed the very ground beneath them in the hope of slowing the Scourge assault.
Likewise, Effy was preparing – readying more totems, summoning the element of earth to shield her love, and coaxing forth creatures of fire and stone to protect them.
They had barely begun when the horde of ghouls and skeletons and even a few stitched-together abominations charged the two Draenei.
Effy noticed from the corner of her eye some of their allies were congregating and seeking a path to Laz and herself through the undead, but the wall of decaying bodies was too thick. They would never reach them in time to help.
Lazheward and Effraeti were on their own.
So Effy began to call to the element of air, summoning great lightning bolts that crackled and streaked from the sky and singed the advancing Scourge. Some dropped into smoking piles, but many, many more continued on.
She knew the moment the undead crossed the consecrated ground Laz had blessed, as she heard the creatures groaning in agony, but they hardly slowed. Once the dead were before him, Laz smashed them aside with great sweeps of his Titan hammer, its head glowing with golden power granted by the Light, and blocked attacks as well as knocking the creatures aside with all his might.
Lightning and bolts of magma answered Effraeti and pummeled the Scourge. Energy crackled around her, shocking any undead who came with attack range. Totems of healing, of wind, of protection, of fiery attacks, all heeded her and added to their retaliation.
It seemed to continue for hours, the Cult of the Damned summoning more and more undead until they seemed to blot out every spec of life and color around them.
Suddenly, Effraeti realized there was a wall of attacking undead between Laz and herself. She cried out in dismay, knowing she could not hold them back long without room to summon the elements.
Laz met her gaze, his face grim, and renewed the golden auras that protected him. He slowly made his way toward her, burning dozens with holy Light and subduing more with his devastating hammer, but after closing only half the distance, the Scourge began to press harder, bolstered by spells of the cultists.
In a short time, they had Laz and Effy surrounded and completely cut off from one another.
An elemental of rocky earth still protected Effraeti, and she was able to launch more lightning, chaining it through the tightly packed undead and causing great havoc. But it took no time at all for more ghouls and skeletons to fill in the gaps left by the twice-dead.
Though it happened in the far left of her peripheral vision, Effy saw the second Lazheward’s holy aura winked out. Upon fully turning her gaze, only the tips of his golden helm rose above the scrabbling Scourge.
He let out one more battle cry and swept his hammer through the close ranks of the nearest undead – sending several flying through the air – and then he disappeared beneath the mass.
Effraeti gaped in horror, and felt her legs grow less sturdy under her.
In that same moment, the earth elemental shattered in a spray dust and pebbles. Effy did not even register the event. The clamor surrounding her had faded to a insect-like buzz and the world had gone fuzzy. The burning in her eyes told her that the fuzziness was her view drowned out by tears, but this was only knowledge she gathered subconsciously.
Her will – her very soul – shattered, she hardly noticed the bite of weapons and ravenous undead as she submitted.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Unsure what time it was but noticing the sun was already climbing high into the sky, Effy stretched and yawned and rubbed the sleep from her slowly adjusting eyes.
Usually Lazheward awoke her before now. Her living alarm clock, he was more apt to wake with the sun than she was.
Looking around, still trying to get her bearings as she shook off the sleepiness, Effy recalled the events of the day before – the longest day of her life it would seem. She recalled the inn and Stormwind and the Draenei Mage, Kiirae, who had described for them the dismal future she and Laz had found themselves in.
Her clearing eyes fell upon her travel pack and the empty space next to it. Similarly, there was an empty space beside her on the bed, the covers pulled back up over the spot.
There was no sign of Laz.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The innkeeper was of little help. She recalled Lazheward leaving the inn, but with no idea of what time or where he may have been headed to. No message with the innkeeper. No note explaining his absence.
It was very unlike Laz.
Every action of the Draenei was thoroughly thought through, quite unlike his more impetuous mate. He was always their logical half, Effraeti’s rock and source of solutions when her own mind was in disarray. She kept him from focusing too hard on those solutions without action, made sure his cold, calculating logic did not shut out the emotions they opposed, and together they complemented one another.
Where was his logic now to ease these sudden panicky thoughts?
Suddenly, Effraeti realized she was very alone in this strange future time.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Several days passed with no sign of Laz in Stormwind. Effraeti fought with herself the entire time – go look for him or wait for him to return? What if he came back while she was elsewhere, looking for him? Besides, she had no idea where to even begin.
Finally, Effy decided it was time for action – something, anything.
With no idea of even what direction to start, Effraeti set off on her proto-drake and picked no specific destination.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After days of travel without the slightest sign of her love – or any idea where she might find Nozdormu, who was lost in the timelines last she knew – Effraeti collapsed into sobs, once more back in Stormwind, and even more distraught and hopeless feeling than she had been when she first set out.
A tap came to her shoulder, and Effy jumped in fright, so caught up in her thoughts. She immediately thought it to be Laz, but turned to see the concerned face of a young female Night Elf.
“Are you okie, miss? It was hardly possible to sit and ignore your crying,” the Night Elf said.
Effraeti stumbled over her words in an attempt reply. All she could manage was a stammered “Sorry” amid the sobs.
Presumptuously, the Night Elf waved off the apology as she sat herself at the table and asked what was so obviously causing Effy such distress. Amongst the question, she introduced herself as Lissanna, and a Druid.
Quite taken aback by such forwardness, Effy found her eyes dry and her voice gaining in strength. “I would not know where to begin, miss Lissanna. These past days have been so confusing and disorienting,” she admitted with a sniffle.
“Try me,” Lissanna replied, her smile growing and oddly comforting.
Effraeti found herself relating the entirety of the tale, without fully knowing why – perhaps merely because she desperately needed someone to talk to. Centuries of Lazheward as her constant companion and lover, the silence of her own presence was profoundly jarring.
Lissanna listened with interest, nodding occasionally and even asking pertinent questions here and there.
Finally, Effraeti finished with the moment Lissanna had approached, and the Druid let out a thoughtful, “Hmm.”
Continuing with the forwardness that had begun the conversation in the first place, Lissanna looked directly at Effraeti and asked a most surprising question: “Well, I would hate to leave you sitting here to continue in your sorrow, especially when my friends and I find ourselves in need of a companion who is fluent in the languages of the elements. Since your path seems to be identical to our own – bringing an end to Deathwing – what would you say to helping us do just that?”
Effraeti caught herself nodding before a reply ever left her lips.
End Part 2
Final Note: The picture of Lissanna is courtesy of my first try at WoW Model Viewer! I will have to play with that more!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.