World Of Warcraft is the property of Blizzard Inc. The following is considered fan fiction.
Jaina gazed out the window at the sky, glowing a coral pink against the border of the nether shield. It was striking, an enormous sphere of arcane energy that encompassed the entirety of Azeroth.
“Well,” she thought. “At least what is left of it.” From her window midway up the Violet Citadel she could look north, the dome of the shield rising up and then down again towards its final northern wall at the Sunwell. True to its name, the magical font created a horizon much like a sunset, mixing its oranges and yellows against the shield and emitting many different hues. It would be quite beautiful if so much death and destruction had not come with it.
Staring hard at the shield at certain points in its edge just on the outskirts of the city, Jaina could make out the nether beyond. The chaotic strands of energy at times testing the shield to the limits of its defenses, turning it transparent and giving a window to the forbidding emptiness beyond. The shield always held, though occasionally an arcane torrent would seep in bending the limits of reality. It usually just meant that a villager would suddenly turn into a tree or vice-versa, but in almost every case the Kirin’tor had been there to reverse the effects even if the changes had been widely regarding an improvement.
So much that had once been there was gone. Alterac with its snowy peaks was just a memory, preserved in the minds of those that had some age and in the textbooks of those that did not. Nothing remained of the plains that stretched south to the impressive dwarf works of Loch Modan. Just a memory were the areas south of that. Even the orc ravaged territories of Stormwind stretching down to the Stranglethorn had been a sudden and bitter loss.
Jaina looked up at the tower, rising stoic into the sky until it disappeared into the nether shield itself. The citadel marked the one point of Azeroth that extended beyond the dome. There only the six were allowed to tread, testing the bounds of the wilderness beyond and searching for a way to cure their fractured world. Jaina, being the apprentice to Antonidas who himself was the head of The Six, had on occasion been allowed access to the pinnacle of the tower. Usually it was just to deliver a message to those who were literally beyond the boundaries of space and time and remind them that they too were mortal and susceptible to the nether. They must descend into the protection of the shield regularly or succumb to madness, if not to more mortal needs.
She preferred not to think of those times, nor linger long there. The nether was instantly an assault on ones mind, on ones sanity. It would bend to your will, form your desires, yet eventually you would surrender to it. Yet there The Six labored, in hopes that one day they might master its powers and permanently protect their realm. Either that, or find a more desirable world of refuge. The orcs arrival through the dark portal had proven that their were other worlds, even if they were barely an improvement over the nether itself.
Jaina had barely been a child when the cataclysm had occurred. No one truly knew what had happened. Only that it had started to the south, at the Dark Portal. The doorway that had heralded the orcs and the destruction of so much had finally ended Azeroth itself. Somehow the portal, which had bridged Azeroth and Draenor had itself torn a whole in the fabric of reality letting the twisted nether pour in. Not a trickle or strand of energy like the occasional leaks they now suffered, but a violent tsunami that literally fractured and erased everything it sundered. It had taken barely a day from start to finish. There had been many valiant attempts to escape the cascading doom. Word came of mages opening portals to points north with disastrous consequences. In the end the only ones that made it were the griffin riders. They had arrived on their winged mounts with the few they could save and news of the coming doom. Just enough time for warning to get to the very northern kingdoms of elf and men. Just long enough for their wizards to tap into the leylines that coursed through the planet and the Sunwell and create their only protection, the nether shield.
“In deep thought my dear?” She felt a light tap on her shoulder and instantly recognized the voice of her mentor, Arch Mage Antonidas.
“I’m sorry master, I lost track of time.” She was instantly drawn back into the present and came to the realization that it was evening and she had shirked her duties. Alongside all the benefits of being apprenticed to one of the greatest minds in recent history came the more menial tasks of home and hearth.
“Not to worry, its nice to focus on something simple from time to time.” He replied, taking a bit of powder from the pockets of his robe. “Keeps one focused on the things that are truly important.” The powder he flicked at the table had barely hit the wood before they began to transform into bread, cheese, goblets of wine; a simple but supple meal.
“We believe we are on the verge of a great discovery.” the old mage began as the two sat to partake in their dinner.
“As long as The Six spend these days in the nether, one could only hope so.” She replied, reaching for a loaf and cutting a piece free with a simple silver knife. “The nether isn’t good for your health master, I can see how its changed you even now.” The kind elderly man that sat before her had changed. He appeared more frail, even beyond the frailty of his years. The spark of life that had always glinted in his eyes seemed diminished, dulled by the weight and knowledge of the task placed upon them.
“My health is a small matter in the face of what we must achieve.” he replied gravely. “Our entire world has changed; is changing daily in ways that I fear will end badly. We have created a refuge here, frozen a moment in time to protect what little remained to us. But that moment, as all things too shall pass into the void. We must find a more permanent solution, a new home to preserve what little remains of our Azeroth.”
She knew he was right. Things were changing. It had only been ten short years since the combined efforts of Dalaran and Silvermoon had stolen a fragment of safety from the jaws of oblivion. Yet things changed, even in the womb like bubble of their nether shield. The arcane energy that held back death also seeped into everything living and elemental. Over time things changed, life changed. Some of the first changes had been seen in the evergreen forests of Lorderan and Silvermoon. The canopies of green had slowly changed color and composition. They now were eerily transparent and crystalline, softly luminescing a blue light against the pink horizon. They no longer bore seed or cone. They no longer aged, nor grew, nor died. They were petrified in crystal, leeched through by arcane magic and frozen in time.
“Then what is this great discovery you speak of?” She asked before taking a draught of wine, washing down the loaf that had been conjured yet tasted as if it had been grown and milled in the fields of Anderhal. “Have you found a way to create a portal to Draenor?”
“No.” he replied wearily. “We must assume with grim satisfaction that the phenomenon that destroyed took theirs as well. I think that should anything be left of Draenor it would be not much more then what we have saved here, and the inhabitants far less hospitable.”
“Then another world?” she thought of the thrill of stepping through a portal to an unknown land, completely alien except for the welcoming site of a sun, moon, and stars in the canopy of an azure sky. As it stood now, morning noon and night all played host to a dull pink twilight.
“No, you know as well as I do that we can only open portals to locations that we are sure of the other end. Portals are open doors that work both ways, we could let in our own doom as quickly as we might escape it. We had hoped that the libraries of Silvermoon might yield some answer to that. After much political wrangling and I dare say a few well placed charms the Sunstriders have given access to their inner sanctums to The Six. They do have knowledge passed down from lands and times far away about many things. There were even tales of our progenitors, a race of giants that long since left Azeroth for the stars. However, nothing to give away the location of a new home or even a way to call for help.”
“Then what hope have we?” Jaina asked, her voice betraying despair. It was a poorly kept secret that the arcane energy that both protected and saturated them was changing more than just the trees. Animals were changing. Birds no longer sang as emitted haunting magical tones. Squirrels that had once been carefree and curious were now dark and vicious. Perhaps the most telling change was in the young of the sentient races. More often than not now babies were born with eyes that glowed with a yellowish light not unlike that of a cat’s spied in darkness. However, this was not a mere reflection but a radiance of pure energy that had now ventured far enough to permeate the foundations of life itself.
“We have hope in the ancient legends we found within the elven annals, as well as in the properties of the nether itself,” he replied. “Even though we did not find what we were looking for in Silvermoon, we found works of immense age that we believe may be our salvation. The first deals with the dragons and their aspects. Specifically the green flight, those that followed the aspect Ysera. What do you know of Ysera my apprentice?”
Jaina thought for a moment and responded. “Only that she was the most powerful of her flight, and that her power stemmed deeply from nature and creation.”
“Yes, creation.” the mage replied thoughtfully. “Within Ysera was planted the moment of creation. Azeroth in its most verdant virgin state. Before war, famine, and destruction. Ysera, unlike her brothers and sisters, remained largely absent from the events of history do you know why?”
“Well, I know she was referred to as the sleeper.” Jaina answered.
“Not the sleeper, the dreamer Jaina.” His voice was not so much correcting as wanting to portray the difference between the two titles. “That moment of creation put her into a deep sleep. Her power was such that that very moment given to her took form in her dreams. Another Azeroth, pure and complete. The book told of elven ancestors, those that dwelled across the great sea who could commune with Ysera and enter that dream. In fact, some did remain there for thousands of years.”
“Are you saying that we too could enter this dream world?” she asked, suddenly hopeful. It would be an entirely different Azeroth than the one she knew but it would still be home.
“Sadly no, that dream like so many things has faded.” she could hear the disappointment in his voice and knew that he too would have thought it an ideal solution. “The dragons along with their aspects are no more. They passed when the world they so zealously guarded was destroyed. When Ysera ceased to be, so did her dream and that last record of creation itself.”
“Then why would mention of such things bring hope to our situation?” she asked.
“Well, I know you are aware that the twisted nether has certain properties. It is malleable, can be shaped and formed not by steel and anvil but by sheer willpower.”
“But its been tried.” she protested. “Kel’thuzad…”
“Was a skilled mage but also brash and full of the shortcomings that come with an undisciplined mind,” he interrupted her. He knew she had reason to question him. Kel’thuzad had been a very skilled mage, a member of The Six. He had also been the only one in the early days that dared venture beyond the safety of the shield and into the nether. There he used his willpower to create a chamber. A place where he could conduct his experiments into necromancy and other dark magics without fear of retribution from the The Six. However, over time the nether and the magics he practiced had driven him totally insane and his fabricated world had crashed down around him utterly destroying him. Through scrying The Six had kept careful watch on him as he attempted to push himself beyond the bounds of humanity into something demonic, powerful and capable of existing in the nether. His story was now a cautionary tell told to all young mages, of how power wielded without responsibility would lead to destruction.
“Kel’thuzad did teach us, however, that with the proper will a world can be created out of the nether, one that is quite habitable and preferable to our current domain.” he spoke thoughtfully, waiting for her reply.
“But would not such a world be short lived?” she asked. “Would it not fail over time as the mind that created it descended into madness under the weight of their creation and the nether itself?”
“Yes.” he had been waiting for that question as it now directed the conversation to its core. “That leads us to the second discovery. I know you are also aware of the guardians and the Council of Trisfal.”
“Of course.” she answered. “But didn’t such things lead us to the situation we are currently in? Without the power of Trisfal the last guardian could not have opened the Dark Portal in the first place. Also, is the council not all dead now? I had thought between Medivh’s murderous assault on the council and the destruction of the world that they too were lost to the ages.”
“The council is lost yes.” she could hear the excitement start to build in his voice and knew that she was about to learn of a revelation. “However, within Silvermoon we found much of the knowledge that that council used to bestow its power on the guardian. We know how to create a guardian Jaina.”
“But what good would a guardian be to a dead world?” she demanded. “What is there left to guard but our slow steady march towards oblivion?”
“Don’t you see, my apprentice?” his voice quivered with excitement. “The guardian has immense powers, powers such that even the six were not aware of. The protective magics placed on them preserve them for thousands of years, give their mind a strength and acuity not known to mortal beings.”
She started to comprehend where he was going with this line of thought, but dared not hope. “What good would such a long life be when the very ground beneath your feet gives way to the nether?”
“With the powers of a guardian, that would not be a fate we need worry about for a very long time, if ever. Think about it. Kel’thuzad showed us that a world can be created out of the nether with willpower alone. He only failed because he was weak and delved into dark corrupting forces. A guardian could mold the nether around us into a new world, a paradise. We could recreate Azeroth in happier times just as Ysera created it in her dream.”
“So this guardian would be asleep?” she asked.
“Yes.” he paused for a moment and she could see hesitation in his eyes. “The being that took on the power to become a guardian would have to make that sacrifice. Asleep all concentration can be on holding together the nether and making it into a livable dream. They would spend the rest of their days creating that dream for us.”
“But wouldn’t the nether corrupt them over time?” She was hoping they had come up with a solution to this glaring flaw in the plan.
“Yes, that part is unavoidable. But if our calculations are correct the protective spells we will cast on the guardian and their power in general will protect them for a very long time, several centuries we hope.”
“And when they finally do fall into madness? Would our brave new world not itself become a nightmare?”
“We can only hope that in that in the centuries before that happens the inhabitants of the dream can find a solution to this problem. I dare say we would have many generations to figure things out, much longer than we currently do. In our current predicament our races will be killed out either by the shield failing or by the shield itself within a generation. This solution will give us time, and time is hope.”
“Has the council chosen a guardian?” she asked, suddenly worried at what the answer would be.
“Yes, a member of the council volunteered and was unanimously chosen.” She could see both sadness and determination in his eyes and knew what he was about to say. “My dear Jaina, I have lived a long life and it has been a good one. I have seen the great joys and trepidations this world is capable of. I have fiercely defended the nation of Dalaran for many years now, and I can think of no greater honor then being given the opportunity to ensure its future.”
She felt a mixture of pride, hope, and despair. Antonidas was like a father to her. Had been a much more present father than her own, who had always been at the helm of one or another naval endeavors. In the cataclysm he had fittingly died at sea, before there was no sea. She did not think he would have wanted to live in such a world. Antonidas though, was her mentor, her teacher, her friend. To suddenly and intentionally lose him would be a raw blow, but she knew that she could do nothing to talk him out of his decision.
“Will you be aware at all,” she asked, holding out a small hope that this wouldn’t be farewell.
“I don’t know Jaina. There is no doubt that Ysera was aware and active in her dream, but I do not know if even a guardian would have that level of control and awareness once asleep.”
“We don’t know much at all do we?”
“No my dear, we don’t. All we know is that if we do nothing, then we bear witness to the end of all things.”
They finished their meal in silence.