Lazheward had spent far more time in Stormwind than he had originally intended, but still with no luck finding Effraeti again. Their chance meeting had resparked the fervent desire in him to reunite with his love he thought lost.
He had been certain she perished in Northrend. In fact, he had been told as much by a vision of A’dal when the Na’aru had appeared to him and convinced him nothing could be done for Effy. I did not find her body, though! he chided himself. I should never have stopped looking! Damn that Na’aru! Lazheward flinched at the sudden and venomous thought.
Finding Effy was the reason for his delay now.
At first, he exulted at her apparent return from the dead. He had followed her into the street, calling to her, his haggling with the uncooperative merchant forgotten, but she had disappeared like fog in the morning sun. The resulting confusion pained him. As a few days turned into a few weeks and now more than a month, Lazheward still fought down the idea that she did not want to be found.
His frustration and pain were coming out plainly to the dwarven innkeeper, he knew, but Thaegra gave a sympathetic smile and did her best to be pleasant. Light bless her.
“I will be checking out tomorrow,” he informed her finally, the flicker of underlying disappointment lining his chiseled azure features.
“Aye, sir,” was her only reply, though Laz read the unspoken questions on her concerned face.
There was nothing more he could do here, and the longer he stayed the more that realization made him ache.
Perhaps Effy did not want to be found. Perhaps she could not forgive him for leaving her for dead.
For the first time in his long centuries of faithful servitude to the Na’aru and their cause, Lazheward wondered if theirs was a more malevolent purpose than he had ever previously contemplated.
For why else would they claim Effy dead just for him to discover otherwise? Why torment him so? Why leave Effy to feel he had abandoned her? What purpose could there be for tearing them apart?
They were disturbing thoughts that his troubled mind could not shake.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After securing his last night’s stay at the Golden Keg and checking that all of his supplies were packed and ready, Lazheward decided to take a walk to clear his head.
He meandered without direction. When he looked up, he saw his hooves had led him to the edge of Stormwind Lake. The vast lake was shimmering with crimson and gold flecks of light cast by the setting sun, making the entire lake ablaze. Each ripple across its surface looked like a tendril of fire reaching toward the shore.
So it was, as Lazheward lowered himself to the soft grass to watch the sun continue to dip below the horizon, that he did not at first notice the tiny black speck racing towards Stormwind from the sea. It was a black silhouette ringed by fire that nearly blended into the conflagrate colors preceding dusk. But quickly, too quickly, the dot grew as the figure soared closer.
It was only when a sudden gale arose, tossing the fiery waves of Stormwind Lake in a mad dance like a fire given sudden fuel, that Lazheward looked away from the sunset. A gasp escaped him, as there was a burning dragon streaking through the sky at a furious rate and aimed straight at Stormwind – seemingly aimed straight at where he sat beside the lake.
It was not until later, when the surprise and terror were behind him and he was able to confer with residents who had lived on Azeroth longer, that Laz would realize the figure to be none other than Deathwing.
Without even thinking about it, Lazheward shielded himself in Light. He did not know the dragon’s destination, but the ablaze serpent looked to be a creature of malevolence with destruction on its mind. His shield was well-timed, as seconds later, impossibly fast, Deathwing swept directly overhead. The wake of his passing sent great ripples of burning air through the center of the city, igniting trees and grass and rooftops.
The hot breeze was still enough to be uncomfortable, but the Paladin was mostly untouched, protected by the Light.
Lazheward glanced around desperately and was relieved to see he was the only one in sight, most of Stormwind was likely settling into dinner at this hour. At least none were down by the lake, which was ablaze in truth now more than just poetry.
A crash brought his attention back to the sky, and Lazheward looked up just in time to see the top of the clock tower explode into singed dust and debris. Screams echoed from within the heart of the city as the pieces rained down and people fled being crushed.
Hovering over the center of Stormwind, perhaps above Cathedral Square which made Lazheward hold his breath unconsciously, Deathwing made a great inhalation and a moment later loosed a torrent of fiery lava to the south. His breath seemed endless, surging forth upon the target of his wrath for many moments.
Lazheward could do naught but watch in horror, thinking that it was the Park the leviathan focused on.
Deathwing seemed to smirk in some bit of gloating, and snapped his wings in a great boom and rush of air, knocking even Lazheward down at his distance. The dragon turned toward the city gates and Lazheward heard a crash that was too far to see. The beast was bringing down the gates!
The rumblings lasted only a moment more, and then a strained silence fell.
Lazheward began to pick himself up, but dropped back onto his tail when a mighty roar boomed through the heavens. Covering his ears, Laz tried to shut out the deafening noise, but even then it rattled him from the very inside of his head.
Another snap of giant wings and Deathwing’s sound began to fade.
Cautiously, Lazheward uncovered his ears. Even after trying to protect them, they still rang uncomfortably for several minutes. By the time the ringing faded, Laz was fairly certain the great dragon was gone.
The city of Stormwind had fallen into a dead quiet.
Stormwind Fixed! (Mostly)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/