A Prophet's Visions
Some would gather that he had a sickness of the mind when he first fell into the darkness and succumbed to it. Because of this, many wanted him dead. A good portion of this population viewed it showing him mercy when he showed none to the others. The others believed that he must pay for his crimes.
After all he had been a very bad dragon indeed.
But the Prophet Velen tried hard not to look at it that way. At first, he only heard of this pathetic creature in old stories, text from libraries in Stormwind perhaps. However, they did not speak of much about him prior to the sickness. How could they even? These text were written after the Sundering of Old Kalimdor, after the Well of Eternity was destroyed by recklessness of the Highbourne Elves and their Queen Azshara. So, he did not have much to go on when the first days of the Cataclysm began.
Though Velen was no stranger to death and destruction. He had seen it happened to countless worlds in fact. Too numerous than he could count. Velen was the Prophet and leader of the Draenei, exiled Eredar from the planet Argus. He had seen his home fall to the Burning Legion. Those who did not join with those he once considered brothers, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde, were slaughter without quarter. When they came and the Naaru K'ure descended from the heavens in his dimensional ship, Velen and those who were loyal to them took to the stars.
They attempted to settle upon other worlds, but always the Burning Legion would find them. Kil'Jaeden wanted these "traitors" destroyed at all costs. It always pained Velen to recall the destruction of other worlds all because his people had traveled there to escape the wrath of Sargeras and his generals.
Here was Azeroth, the world he now called home. With terrifying realization, Velen discovered that in the past, the Burning Legion had come to Azeroth, drawn by the powerful magical energies inside the Well of Eternity. However, time and time again, the people of Azeroth stood against the legion and were able to drive them back each time. So, the questions of whether or not his people's presence would cause this world to be destroy were dismissed. Azeroth had troubles with the Burning Legion far longer than Velen sat foot upon it.
Still, he was curious about this strange world known as Azeroth to its natives. He came from the world where mostly one sentient species lived while others were nothing more than mere animals. Azeroth had many different sentient species. One particular that caught his attention sometimes were the dragons. These creatures were speculated to have been created by the Titans, gigantic beings of vast knowledge of the universe to protect this world from anything that might harm it. The leaders of these dragons were the Aspects, titans among giants, practically. Both is physical strength and supernatural abilities. Where even Velen had to chant or wave his hand in a ritualistic motion to conjure a simple healing spell, the dragons could will anything to happen as they saw fit, and their Aspects could do so much more.
They had the power over the arcane energies of the cosmos, the ecological forces of the planet itself, healing, life and death, time, nature, and dreams.
For a while, Velen did not give much thought to the dragons and their aspects; that is until the Cataclysm and the return of Deathwing the Destroyer.
The Prophet saw refugees flooding to the Exodar, begging him for answers, for hope, for guidance. Many of them were asking for a way off Azeroth, to flee the destruction for the end was drawing near. The end was not going to be caused by the Burning Legion. The people of Azeroth could handle the Burning Legion. The end was coming from a Dragon Aspect, the one who was responsible for the continual shaping of the planet itself; and from the horrors the Titans once had locked up in cages within the planet.
During the first blazing dawn that began the Cataclysm, Velen had meditated upon the visions that seemed to spring up around him, invading him like locusts upon a field. He saw so many visions of death and destruction, of a burnt world wreathed in flames and the cackle of a black behemoth…a dragon dressed in terrible dark armor taking delight in the deaths of millions.
Deathwing the Destroyer.
His evil was only matched by Sargeras himself. And when he spoke through the visions Velen saw, that voice was too eerily familiar to even forget. Because often more times than not, Velen would mistake Deathwing for Sargeras. They were very similar.
The voice of Sargeras, the Dark Lord, was not so easily forgotten. He remembered hearing it as it appeared to be fair and graceful, sultry and inviting, speaking of wonders beyond imagination to the Eredar of Argus. Both Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde fell for the deception, but not Velen. He saw the truth behind the voice.
Now that voice called again, but this time it took on another form. Instead of a humanoid form with a beard of sickly yellow flames, great batwings, and eyes that could burn even the most pure, the voice of Sargeras came from the mouth of Deathwing. Velen could not mistake it no matter how hard he tried. And so after meditating, even learning a lesson from his pupil Prince Anduin about going out into the world and helping those who needed it the most, Velen decided to become proactive as well.
He wanted to learn about this evil that returned after a little over twenty years. The last anyone saw of Deathwing was in the latter days of the Second War, when the Horde tried to claim Azeroth as their home again. This time, it was because their home, Draenor, was being ripped apart from the many, many portals Ner'zhul created in hubris.
Velen often left the Exodar to search for answers as to why Deathwing troubled him so much. Though, no one could ever give him a straight answer. It was then he decided to come to one being who could, Alexstrasza, the Life-Binder. She was the Aspect of Life and Healing, leader of the Red Dragonflight. Velen, during the days of the Cataclysm, traveled to Mt. Hyjal where she had started to take up residence, aiding her dear sister Ysera in healing the World Tree. When Velen asked about the history of this dark force destroying Azeroth, Alexstrasza became a little apprehensive, refusing to even give him a simple answer. She acted as if Velen had offended her.
But the answer finally came and it was Ysera, the Awakened Aspect of Dreams who decided to tell him. Ysera told him as best as she could about Deathwing, how he came to be, why he became evil, what is prompting him to do these horrible acts of malice. She spoke of Neltharion, the Earth-Warder, who was created by Khaz'Goroth to watch over the continents, and mind the grand design. She described Neltharion as wise, but very strong. He was the largest of all five Dragon Aspects. There was a purpose for that because Neltharion held upon his shoulders the mass of the world itself. Inside of him, Neltharion carried the very Heart of Azeroth. Th Black Aspect was connected to every physical thing on the planet. But this came with a price.
Neltharion was the only Aspect truly assigned the responsibility of maintaining the cages of the Old Gods themselves as well as keeping the Elemental Lords from fighting each other. This position of utmost importance was the very thing that turned him into the nightmarish monstrosity of Deathwing. And when the Burning Legion was knocking down the door, Neltharion had a device that could destroy them, something he created himself. The Dragon Soul. But this disk only furthered the corruption that twisted his physical body as well as ripping apart what goodness he had still left in him.
Still none of these insights could give him an answer as to why he could hear the voice of Sargeras coming from Deathwing.
Neltharion was a tragedy, Velen concluded. Driven mad from the very job he was assigned to. The only way to help Neltharion now was to put him out of his misery. That is at least what Alexstrasza had suggested. Deathwing hurt her time and time again. He killed her Prime Consort, it was his Dragon Soul that helped enslave her flight to the Dragonmaw Clan. And while Ysera thought only to end Neltharion's life so he may finally find rest, Alexstrasza just wanted him gone like she wanted Malygos gone. It was for the greater good after all. There was no other recourse.
Then, entered Thrall, the former Warchief of the Horde.
Upon the final fight in Wyrmrest that would end the Cataclysm and hopefully destroy Deathwing himself, Thrall was able to discover something no one ever knew about Deathwing. Deathwing was not who Neltharion was. Deathwing was a separate personality controlling Neltharion. Deathwing was created when Neltharion was tormented day after day by the whispers of the Old Gods. To even rational what the Old Gods wanted, Neltharion split his mind in two, one willing to do the bidding of the Old Gods, one not. And the one who did not was punished, tormented, defiled for ten thousand years.
Neltharion was trapped inside his own body and made to watch the horrors Deathwing unleashed without no way to stop him.
Thrall had touched that part, Neltharion, and drew him out. Neltharion and Deathwing battled until Neltharion found the courage and strength to win. Neltharion was back in control, Deathwing had been destroyed. However, the results of Deathwing's destruction did not automatically mean a completely cured Neltharion. The Black Aspect had undergone so much torment that he was still not right in the head.
He was sick in his mind. Broken. Perhaps it was better that everyone killed him to relieve him of this pain. But they didn't. Azeroth needed its Earth-Warder for without him, destruction far greater than what happened with the Sundering, what happened in the Cataclysm, would come. Neltharion had to remain alive no matter what, even if at times Neltharion himself did not want to.
His soul was crushed, tossed around and thrown away like garbage on the street. Despite his great size and power, Neltharion was a sad and pitiful creature. Deathwing left him barely a shell of an Aspect. Velen heard of the stories from Draenei of the Earthen-Ring. The times when Neltharion would at night, go off on his own to suddenly wallow in misery, or the times when a mere touch would cause a painful shriek. Neltharion was sometimes timid around other mortals. He heard of the powers of Neltharion, the fact the Aspect to feel and hear people's thoughts and feeling. Neltharion could hear anything and everything that went around on Azeroth. So, he could tell if someone was frightened of him. Depending on his mood, Neltharion would either become frustrated over it, to the point of deafening yells, or saunter away in shame. He also at times made very poor decisions when often pressured. When he was in a calm state of mind, he could give forth wisdom far beyond even Velen could ever hope to achieve. But to act right at an instant was now beyond Neltharion's mind.
Then, he would stare off into space, not even hearing anyone who called his name. Then came the lethargy and apathy that followed.
This was a soul that needed healing beyond just rekindling hope for a race of people who nearly lost themselves because the Sunwell was destroyed. This was a soul who needed help beyond just finding a new home in a land across the sea to help defeating the withdrawals of Mannoroth's blood.
This was different.
And Velen did not know where to even begin.
Neltharion was only a fractured soul. Whatever pieces that made him whole seemed to have been lost with Deathwing. He was, as the gnomes would say, not always firing on all cylinders; whatever that meant. But Neltharion was a kind soul, Velen had to admit. And he tried so very hard to make up for the horrible destruction Deathwing caused during the Cataclysm. Unfortunately, more often than not, he very clumsy at this. Sometimes things he would do to help ended up making situations worse and Neltharion even more distressed and depressed.
But Velen could not truly be certain that the redeemed Deathwing had truly been that. So, he meditated again.
His meditations came back to Kil'Jaeden. Did Kil'Jaeden suffer only to give into the darkness too? Could he be turned away? Could Archimonde? Could perhaps even Arthas? Would they too end up much like Neltharion, struggling to maintain some sense of order to deal with the endless torment and pain? Would they be healed completely? If Neltharion was saved, could others be too? Though what sort of life did this grant Neltharion now? He was traumatized, far beyond any being who had witnessed death over and over again. Neltharion was still losing his flight. There were so few of them left and this brought even more weight upon the Aspect.
Still, Velen needed to know.
He meditated, clearing his mind, reminding himself to be somewhat detached from the world and only contemplate, but never get involved. But he couldn't, not this time. He could not detach himself from Neltharion's sorrow nor from the stories his Draenei brought him of the Earth-Warder breaking down and crying in the middle of a meeting. Crying real tears. Velen never thought that such a creature whose insides were made from the fiery depths of the planet itself cry watery tears. But they were tears nonetheless. Tears of sweet, pure water. Next day, Neltharion would be fine, smiling and interacting very merrily with the other shamans.
As he meditated, he saw a vision coming on. They always hit him when he least expected it, or when he contemplated upon someone particular.
He stood upon a blackened landscape. All around him, death, destruction. Fires and billowing smoke rose up from ruined towns. Bodies were everywhere, dead, smoldering, their faces rend into featureless, skeletal expressions. He could not tell who they were. There were some orcs, humans, draenei, elves, both Night and Blood, and tauren and trolls. But they looked like they were not fighting each other, they were fighting something else. Scores of demonic armor littered the ground.
The Burning Legion!
Then, the scene changed and Velen beheld a great battle, like the one he had seen before. There was Prince Anduin leading the charge again and the Alliance and Horde joined together as one to fight the encroaching darkness. Demons were their enemies, countless of them. The might of the Burning Legion. He had seen this vision before.
He saw the dragon flights joining the fight. Dragons of all colors, bronze, red, green, blue, and black! And he saw the Dragon Aspects, well, four of them, this time, leading the charge of their flights as they attacked the Legion with breaths of rainbow colored death. And the Naaru were there, their brilliant light shining brightly like the light at the beginning of the cosmos itself.
Then, he saw a new form appear, cloaked in flames and smoke with great bat wings. He carried in his fiery hot hand a broken sword and his eyes burned with seething hatred. He called out to his Legion, gathering them up. Velen saw Kil'Jaeden, chief of his generals come to his side and kneel. And then Kil'Jaeden was ordered to strike. One by one, they all fell to his blows, scattering like leaves in the wind.
Then, Kil'Jaeden was struck by a force so powerful that it nearly knocked Velen off his feet. The ground seemed to tremble and quake. Liquid fire sprayed across Kil'Jaeden and he died in horrid agony. Another blow came to his master and knocked him right down to the ground. The sky turned dark, the light obscured by vast, black wings. The creature landed upon the ground, a dragon! It was a dragon! A dragon far larger than any who ever existed, a dragon who's size rivaled mountains. Even the Aspects looked like whelps against this great behemoth.
There was one dragon who held a size like that.
Neltharion, the Earth-Warder.
But wait, this Neltharion did not have any of the armor on his back. In place of the elementium plates that Deathwing forced him to wear, there were the glow of brilliant purple and blue crystals running from the top of his head to the tip of his tail. His tail was equipped even with a crystalline, thick barb, that reminded Velen of the elementium blade he once had.
The Dark One was not out of the fight just yet and he rose up from the ground to face the creature who dared strike him down. Neltharion prepared himself, bracing with muscled tensed. It seemed now the battleground was cleared for them. Just as the Earth-Warder was ready to strike again with his mighty paw, the Dark One lunged in, his broken sword about to pierce the dragon's belly…
All became dark…
Velen caught himself, clawing for breath, reaching for the Light to clime out of the dark. He raised a blueish, taloned finger to his mouth and swallowed hard, shaking off the impact of the vision. Velen's breath came to a slow.
Sargeras and Neltharion…
"I must see the Earth-Warder for myself," he finally admitted.