Epilogue: Legends of Azeroth
The Twisting Nether
An everlasting darkness stretched before the pit lord Azgalor. This was the Void, the realm between worlds. Beyond it thousands of stars glittered like gems in the impossible distance.
A ribbon of ever changing, chaotic magic rippled through the space of the Void as well. The ribbon changed hues of color every few seconds, from green, to yellow, to pale white. This was the Twisting Nether. Upon one branch of the hellish band of magic, Azgalor stood in complete fear; an emotion he rarely experienced save for moments like these.
Before him was Kil'jaeden, the Deceiver, Right hand of Sargeras, First in Tier of the Legion. The figure of Kil'jaeden, a twisted, sickening version of what was once that of an eredar, stood hundreds of feet tall, black wings enveloping the space behind him.
Hellfire erupted from below the demon lord, a conflagration of molten sulfur and brimstone giving off such an intense heat that Azgalor felt as if his flesh would simply boil away. Red, yellow, orange, and blues seemed to erupt like steam at the crimson feet of the Deceiver. The space around Kil'jaeden was wavy with heat.
Like a flaming torch in the darkness, lost moaning souls were attracted to the heat and light of Kil'jaeden like bugs. When they got too close however, they would be incinerated like everything else around him.
"Why are you here, Azgalor?" Kil'jaeden's voice emanated from all sides like an omnipresent force. Its tone, pitch, and frequency all spoke of the incredible ancientness and darkness of the figure.
"The Legion has failed, my Lord." Azgalor spoke, hearing the quivering in his own voice. To an extent, he was held in awe of Kil'jaeden even more than Archimonde. The Deceiver was even more cunning, ruthless, and manipulative than the brutish Archimonde.
Azgalor's eyes turned to the side for a moment where he saw the Currents of Hell, great streams of the souls of those worlds conquered by the Legion who floated below the Nether's paths. These were the ones unfit for assimilation and those who had dared to defy the Legion. They would pass through the starfire and the absolute cold of the Void, and after thousands of years of helplessness in the streams, would pass into the unexplainable realm beyond even the Void; the Great Dark Beyond, where nothing existed. Truly that was hell, if not here.
Azgalor shuddered. His eyes turned back to Kil'jaeden's, meeting the probing face of the demon lord for only a moment. Simply facing Kil'jaeden made it hard for the pit lord to breathe. He imagined himself floating on the Currents, the endless agony and insanity…
"It is as I foresaw." Kil'jaeden responded.
"My Lord?" Azgalor questioned, taken completely aback. He immediately regretted the words leaving his mouth.
"It is no matter. We have waited for millennia. What is but a few more moments?" Kil'jaeden's thunderous voice rattled Azgalor's armor.
"But Lords Archimonde and Haures…we have been dealt a severe blow." Azgalor could not understand why the demon lord was acting so calmly in the face of the Legion's greatest disaster and shame.
"You are no longer required here." The Deceiver said. Quickly, Azgalor backed away. Kil'jaeden's arm outstretched. Fear coursed through the massive bulking creature.
The pit lord turned, feeling the coolness of the Void on his face. He wished to be far removed from this place. From deep in the Twisting Nether a ghostly soul was plucked by the demon lord's power. The long and sinuous essence glowed such a bright purple that Azgalor had to look away to avoid being blinded.
He slowly turned. Kil'jaeden was paying no attention to such a lowly thing as him for before the Deceiver stood the apparition of Haures. Azgalor's eight eyes opened widely.
"So you were hiding?" Kil'jaeden asked in a neutral tone.
"Hiding? No, merely recuperating." Haures answered. It was clear his spirit too had been damaged. It was without its former power and presence. What foul force had been responsible behind the demise of one of the Legion Lords themselves?
"I will not hear such prattle. You are weak now, and so you fear erasure."
Haures was silent.
"To be slain by a mortal. Your shame must be unbearable."
"The insect was armed with a weapon of the Titans. Even you would have been damaged by such a blade." The humiliated demon lord retorted.
"One should never underestimate an opponent. Azeroth has now defeated us twice."
"He is…out of the picture." Kil'jaeden said, letting the sentence hang. Azgalor gulped. He knew what was coming.
"Then the Legion looks to us for guidance. Even chaos must have some order." Haures said, hope in his voice.
"Incorrect." Kil'jaeden said. "It is I who will lead the Legion now; alone, atop the peak. The Burning Legion will never follow such a failure."
"What? You cannot do such a thing!" The fallen Lord screamed in rage.
"Long has this Triumvirate sought to break itself. Now…it has." Kil'jaeden's lips turned up in what Azgalor guessed what a smile. Rows of serrated black teeth gleamed with firelight and the twisting green of the nether.
Azgalor felt as if something hit him. Despite his proximity to Kil'jaeden, he felt coldness creep upon him.
"You planned this?" Haures said incredulously.
"Why do you think that sword was upon the soil of a backwater world like Azeroth?"
Haures' face contorted in anger. "And Archimonde?"
"I let his ambition consume him."
"While you watched and waited. Damn you Kil'jaeden! Xir xir isi sier aix izir zxxirl!" A gale of wind kicked up as Haures cursed. Azgalor had to place his feet firmly down as not to be blown away, off the edges of the Nether and into the abyss.
Kil'jaeden reached for a blade that hung at his side. It was Gorribal, former sword of Sargeras himself; the Broken Blade. Haures was held down by an invisible force, unable to move. Suddenly, he stopped struggling. It seemed as though he had realized something.
The flames around Kil'jaeden exploded upwards, engulfing almost the entire body of the Deceiver. He looked more like the living embodiment of flame now than anything else.
"He—he said he knew who would end me! End this…damn him, and you! DA—" The cries of the once powerful Legion Lord were silenced forever as the Broken Blade of Sargeras descended upon his feeble and crippled soul.
Azgalor turned and ran, knowing full well that the one and only Lord of the Legion would be much displeased if he remained any longer.
Ruins of Dalaran
Anduin Praeton sighed, breathing in the smoky, humid air. The stench of bodies surrounded him, and he could not seem to escape the grasp of the smell of decay. He looked out at the lands below his lookout point.
To the east and west, at the bases of the mountains, lay the remains of the Combined Armies. He'd split them into two camps along more defensible lines in case the Scourge forces north of Lake Lordamere and the river Averass attacked.
Campfires dotted the land as the purple sky brightened. Several watchtowers had been erected in the ruins of Dalaran. The battle had ended, but at such terrible cost. In the land between the two camps, the thousands of slain and wounded still remained. Hospitalars and nurses went through the sweeping landscape of the Casted Vale searching for any survivors.
Anduin sighed and took a swig of the stale water in his skin. He sat cross-legged, watching dawn. It had finally ended. It had been a year of madness, and with such loss. It was folly to think of this battle as 'victory', though the men had needed a victory. The world had needed a victory, and so they had given it a battle that would never be forgotten.
"Sire, Grand Marshal Garithos is approaching." A man with a bloodied bandage wrapped around his head announced.
Anduin stood, thanking the man. Of all the generals, of all the men to survive the battle, I had to be stuck with Gavinn Garithos.
Garithos had emerged from his hiding place in northern Lordaeron in the spring, descending upon the newly reformed Combined Armies with ambition. He claimed that he was one of the true Lordaerel, fit to command his country's forces. In his mind, Lordaeron had never fallen. It had merely succumbed to a series of foolish defeats at the hands of a few cowards and opportunists.
How he did not see his own reflection…the irony of it all.
He saw Garithos' massive black war charger clamber up the steep slope of the hill followed by twelve Knights of the Order of the Golden Chrysalis. Each one rode on a stallion of white and midnight black. Both the stallions and the knights atop them bore heavy plate armor of charcoal grey. In each of the knight's chest plates was an insignia of their own design, along with scrollwork wrought in amber. Beneath their plate, golden dipped chainmail was visible. Their lead held a triumph banner which bore a yellow sunburst across a scarlet backdrop. The Order of the Golden Chrysalis had been one of the few knightly orders not to be absorbed into the Alliance military in the Second War.
These thugs were Garithos' personal entourage. Though they hid before the façade of honor and justice, each one was but a brutal murderer…or so Anduin had heard. There had been rumors of their rapes and pillages as Lordaeron fell. Garithos had apparently used them as his shock troop, to quell any rebellion against his command.
However violent and evil the men behind the armor were, there was no doubting their strength. They had been at the van of the breakout that allowed Garithos to escape from one of the few islands of Alliance power left in northern Lordaeron.
"Greetings, Lord Praeton." Garithos spoke in his usual arrogant, posh tone.
"Hail, Gavinn Garithos." Anduin replied, readying himself for what was to come.
"I want you to consolidate your Stormwind troops to the north of Dalaran. From there you shall prepare a task force to probe the Scourge's defenses upon Fenris Isle." Garithos ordered.
Anduin's demeanor turned from preparatory to seething. "Last I checked I was a Lord General of the Combined Armies. I don't take orders from you." He had known such a power struggle would occur at any moment.
"Alas, you are but a Brigadier General, given a field command by the now wounded and recalled Marcus Jonathan, who was my own equal—I outrank you, and you ought best to realize that." Garithos replied, looking down his long nose from atop his horse.
Anduin felt red anger boiling within him. "You wish me to lead my bedraggled countrymen whom suffered the brunt of the frontal assault on Dalaran across the Averass, across Lake Lordamere, to merely test the strength of the undead on an island which means nothing to us strategically? We do not even have boats!" Praeton repeated exasperatedly.
"My men are needed elsewhere. 'Twas not I who decided the order of battle; that was decided by our war council. Your troop will gather what supplies you must and build your boats."
"We have no knowledge of naval enginee—" Anduin was cut off.
"The contingents under your command are to follow my order to the lickspittle; do I make myself clear, Brigadier General? I will not brook questions to my authority. We will re-conquer Lordaeron, but to do so, all available force must obey a single, executive voice. I am that voice."
Whatever Garithos had deluded himself of, he held great sway over the Lordaeron men who made up the bulk of the army. He was indeed a true Lordaerel, and was popular as such with the human troops of the northern continent. There was no way Anduin could dispose of Garithos and hope to command all of the forces here. They would simply splinter off, even if his reason was legitimate. That would leave the Alliance utterly destroyed on the continent; an unacceptable outcome.
Humiliated and mortified, Anduin Praeton accepted the order. He was now subordinate to the so-called Grand Marshal Gavinn Garithos. Unable to look at Garithos without the urge to draw his sword and slay the man, Praeton turned toward his troops.
Stormwind had suffered greatly in the battle, and it was clear that the new Grand Marshal attempting to wrap his tentacles of influence around them as well, being the most unreliable force in his new army. No doubt he meant to split up the troops from Stormwind, and spread them around the army as not to risk them plotting against him. Nearly half of their 50,000 had fallen in the fighting, but apparently it was not enough reassurance for Garithos.
Praeton returned to camp and relayed the order to his men. With groans, the battle weary soldiers of Stormwind took to gathering what supplies they could for the task ahead. For the remainder of the day they scavenged in Dalaran as man what abandoned hulks they could find in the river Averass, their strength so little that they could not even hope to chop down the trees from the forests to the west.
By the time the sun had begun to set, Praeton and the labor shift he'd ordered up collapsed amongst the ruins of the Theddian Library, which was once home to the world's greatest collection of books, poems, scrolls, and manuscripts. Most of those works had been burned as Dalaran was crushed by the Burning Legion.
Anduin peered around. Everywhere were ruins. Great spires, the greatest in fact, all lay amongst the rubble. What had once been streets teeming with wizards and children were now pathways of ash and broken brick.
Suddenly, Anduin was broken out of his exhaustion induced stupor. A band of figures approached from the setting sun. Their weapons and armor glittered like emeralds and veins of gold. They each wore long hair and walked with an unmistakable stride; they were elves. Anduin summoned the reserves of his energy and stood to meet the oncoming band.
As they neared, Anduin realized that their appearance was nowhere near as glorious as it had appeared from afar. They were covered in the soot and dried blood of recent battle, and seemed every bit as tired as his soldiers. Their weapons were chinked, and their armor was dented and scratched. Many of them bore heavy bandages.
"Hail, Anduin Praeton of Stormwind." The lead elf spoke, slightly bowing his head. A cascade of blonde hair poured down around his face as he did, nearly covering his extended eyebrows.
"Hail, Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider of Silvermoon." Anduin replied, bowing his head even deeper as was customary for elven nobility. He stood in awe for a moment, amazed by both the fact that he was in the presence of Quel'thalas royalty, as well as the aura that the elf exuded.
"What brings you here, sire?" Praeton asked.
"We are simply passing through. We have been ordered by Marshal Garithos to clear the mountain pathways of undead and demons." Kael'thas said, pointing toward the looming giants in the backdrop of the ruined city.
"With so few of you? There could still be thousands of stragglers in those passes! Or worse, they could be laying in wait." The general was horrified at such an order.
"Alas, there are few enough of us as it is, though it seems that Marshal Garithos would break us apart even further. It helps not that he sends my elves into certain doom with every new mission…" Kael's voice turned bitter.
"…though with every return we surprise him, even if more of our comrades have fallen. It is almost worth just to see the look on his face—I mean no disrespect of course." Kael suddenly gathered himself, realizing that he was talking to a subordinate of Garithos.
"Do not fear, master elf. We share the same dislike of that man." Anduin agreed.
Kael'thas nodded in seeming relief. He then sighed, as if he bore a weight on his chest far more than physically possible to bear. The inner light and beauty that Anduin had seen elves give off in the past seemed somewhat tarnished—blunted, in these ones.
"Sometimes think he means to kill us all off. As if we do not have enough enemies and problems. Very little do we meet sympathizing people such as yourself."
Anduin was taken aback somewhat. "Well, it is true that humanity has always seen the elves as isolated, and…somewhat snobbish. I think that when your father left the Alliance, many of us felt betrayed as well."
"Is that so? I suppose we did not think of the repercussions well enough. Nevertheless, I am here to offer the Alliance the blood of my people once again. But it seems that our sacrifices are never quite enough. We simply do not have any more to give. Quel'thalas is gone…the Eversong Woods are ash, and Silvermoon is a gutted memory."
Kael'thas seemed to sink into the depression he'd been hiding for a long time. "I should have remained to fight with my father, but instead I was here in Dalaran. Even this place, a second home to elves, is now gone. And without the Sunwell a weariness I have never felt sets in. We grow weaker every day."
The sun's last shining burnt over the horizon. Anduin tore his gaze away from the ruins of Dalaran and looked north.
"There was once a young man who lost everything to him. His family, his home, and everything he knew. That man became a refugee and ran away with those of his people that could escape the tide that had flooded his lands."
"They were led by a great man, whom became a father to all those whom had lost theirs to the green surges that frothed from the unknown. They fled a far away land, alien to the young man; the people in that new land were not kind at first. They were different, and their traditions were different. They ate different, spoke different, and some of them didn't even believe in the Holy Light!"
"But these people grew on the young man. When he came of age and the rising tide crashed upon the shores of this new land, he took up arms and served under the Father whom had led his people to the promised place to protect its people."
"He fought and fought, and in the end found a new home. Now, I have lost that home again. But I will not give up! I will fight and fight, as I have for most of my life, to defend it and recover it!" Anduin exclaimed, unsheathing and pointing his sword north as his speech passionately rushed out of him. The moment of emotion passed, and Anduin felt weary again, though with more hope than before.
Kael'thas stared at him, smiling slightly. "That was quite poetic and inspiring, General; would that all my elves could hear such a thing."
Anduin felt he was in a somewhat awkward position. He was a hundred years the junior of Prince Kael, though in many ways he was more mature than him. Perhaps it was because elves were truly different after all, or maybe it was just because he had simply seen more in his life, forcing him to adapt quicker.
"Nevertheless, it will be up to you to lead them, Prince. They look to their leader. You must repay the blood of your fallen with the blood of your followers. It is a tough choice, but such are all in times of war."
"Yes; our blood for theirs." Kael'thas seemed to taste the phrase for a moment, tucking something deep into his mind. "Indeed, blood it shall be. Thank you General. You have lifted my spirits." Praeton felt a sudden chill run down his spine as Kael's face contorted with a deep set torment. It was only a moment though. Just a moment!
Kael'thas roused his troop and headed off with a short bow in his elven gesture. Anduin watched as the elf disappeared into the dark mountains. As if an epiphany, the homeless General felt as if a deep, wide destiny lay before Kael'thas.
He turned back to his forces and shook his head. Gavinn Garithos would not exploit him like some used handkerchief. It may be later than sooner, but eventually he would force Garithos to recognize the equality and strength of his men. The aging man stretched his muscles and headed back towards camp, bringing his men with him.
A cool breeze bathed Anduin Praeton's face in a calming splash. Autumn was coming, and with it the cold. There was much work that needed to be done, but Anduin knew from what he'd seen here that there were secrets to the workings of the world he'd never understand. He would simply keep going in the flow, and do his best to make a difference.
A new day brought new life; Anduin smiled, and steeled himself for the work ahead.
Ashenvale, Astranaar, Twilight
"So the last of them have left our forests?" Furion Stormrage asked, looking around him at the destruction that had beset Ashenvale.
"No, not all; a faction of the orcs remain in the southern approaches. They refuse to leave." Tyrande spoke, sipping on the herbal tea that steamed from a wooden cup before her. The drink had long been a staple in night elf society.
"It would seem much is left to resolve." Furion sighed. "Felwood churns with evil, and strange news reaches my ears of strange cults upon the Darkshore."
Shandris Feathermoon directed a battalion of Sentinels from a cot outside the shade of the redwood the couple was standing under. She'd refused to leave her duty, even after being gravely wounded in the last battle.
Several figures led by the demi-god Remulos, Keeper of Moonglade, appeared before Shandris. She pointed them to the direction of the redwood. As the group neared, Furion recognized each and every one of their dozen numbers.
Remulos led; his familiar visage, so much like his father Cenarius', brought nostalgic memories of the long lost epochs. Behind him came Fandral Staghelm, physically the strongest and most hawkish of all the druids. Ysiel Windsinger, and Neldn Mar'alith bowed deeply as they saw Furion. The rest, save Remulos, followed suit.
"The Cenarion Circle has been gathered by your summons, Shan'do Stormrage." Staghelm spoke, his face an eternal scowl. "We have a great many issues to discuss."
Remulos stood up straight, and silence fell. All eyes turned to him. "Most important of which shall be the eminent return of the druids to the Emerald Dream. Furion Stormrage, what is your answer?"
"This world is so beautiful." Furion spoke after a momentary silence. "It is worth dying, and suffering for."
Tyrande stared at her mate, a smile on her face.
"I have seen beyond the waking eye, into what might have been. I know what has occurred, and seen the differences between the Emerald Dream and reality. Though the truth is sometimes harder to bear than a dream, it is its uniqueness…its fleetingness that gives it true beauty. It is never static."
"I have borne witness to the rising of mountains and the falling of civilizations. I have seen the stars align and change, the animals of the wild live on in their countless generations, and felt the land's suffering and replenishment."
"Much of this I have done whilst sleeping, the wool of the Emerald Dream pulled over my eyes. It is time for me and my brethren to tend to this wonderful place once again. We will rest no more. The world needs our stewarding and the forests our healing. I believe Ysera and the Dream may wait for a while. The druids will remain." Furion announced.
He had long pondered what he was to do after Achimonde was defeated. Seeing the destruction and chaos however, he could never leave his people and the world unattended.
"Very well. It is decided. The druids shall remain amongst us, if only for a while longer." Remulos said, a slight smile appearing at the corner of his purple lips. The gigantic half-stag half-night elf turned and disappeared into the forests with a quick gallop.
Tyrande stood and planted a passionate kiss upon the lips of Furion, his beard tickling her face. The two embraced under the silver moonlight. The Circle departed, leaving the two lovers to each other.
As the night passed, a moment of silence finally befell the lands. Above, the moon shone unimpeded, carrying Elune's love and grace to a world that had at last found its peace.
Banks of the River Averass, the Next Day
Osra and Cyrus stood on the muddied banks of the river Averass. Abandoned craft and flotsam choked up the upper river east of Dalaran where the Dogs of War had attacked from. A few whirlpools were kicked up behind the unmanned hulks, but otherwise, the water gently washed downstream
A heavy sun beat down on the land, plastering it in a summer heat. Wispy mare's tails clouds streaked through the blue sky. The land south of Averass was distinctly livelier than that of the glades and meadows north of it where the Scourge's plague had begun to even effect the land.
The two watched as a small canoe carried away the body Valdar Justax. His body, once so lively and energetic, lay still at last. He still bore his armor, though a velvet blanket covered his grievous wounds. His white face, square and long, topped by a mat of chestnut brown, seemed to reflect the peaceful heavens.
As the canoe passed them by, Osra tossed a flaming torch upon it. They had soaked the canoe with oil, so it instantly erupted into flames. A long gust of wind suddenly picked up, and the flaming canoe seemed to be carried away gently into the distance.
A tear rolled down Osra's eye. She wiped it with her sleeve, feeling utterly lonely. She felt as if she had been betrayed by the world, as if some sick God had personally taken to torturing her, though her story was not unlike others. She suffered as many others did.
Cyrus understood this, though he'd finally come to full fruition of the knowledge of one enlightened beyond the thinking of a mortal. Many things had become clear to him now, after everything that had happened.
"He will be carried to the sea. He will exist in the freedom which he sought to create." Cyrus spoke.
Osra looked at him with her blue eyes, water still gathered at the edges. "What did you do with his blade?"
"I sealed it away where no man may find it." Cyrus replied. He'd used a reversed polarity spell to open a pocket in the space-time to a realm which the Excubitores had used to place their items. It had been known to them as the Vault, which hid many more of their secrets than simply a Titan-forged blade. If any of them had survived Dragias' catastrophic attack on Haures, he would hunt them down and kill them before they had a chance to raid the Vault.
"Good. He knew it was not a weapon to be used by people." Osra turned back to the sight of the disappearing dot of fire.
"Indeed." Cyrus was silent for a moment. So much had happened, so much was yet to happen, and so much was changing as the two stood there on the banks of that river. "What shall you do now?"
Osra was quiet until she could no longer see the fiery pinprick. Then she turned to him, the tears in her eyes gone. She had buried it all deep inside. "I will not rest. I will not sit still. I bear no love for anything anymore, but I shan't remain and rot. No, Valdar would not like that. I will carry on his will."
"Oh? And what does it tell you to do?" Cyrus asked, his interest piqued, for he too had decided to follow the fallen man's word.
"I will free our lands, and our people. Fighting is what I do best, and I won't stop. I don't care if I am hurt, but I won't die. If I can't right the world's wrongs, I won't be able to see his smiling face anymore." Osra's voice trembled.
Cyrus grimaced. "That is a difficult burden to carry, Osra of Lordaeron. Your quest shall never end, and your prize will never come; doing such a thing will not return the man you loved, nor your family, or the world to the way it once was."
"Valdar carried that burden, so I will now." Osra replied, buckling her armor tighter. "I have heard there is a contingent of soldiers following Mograine of the Grand Cathedral to the north on a crusade. Perhaps I shall join them. Perhaps not. I will let the wind carry me."
"Very well. I do not believe our paths shall cross again, but it was an honor to meet you. You are a brave and intrepid soul, Osra. I hope with all my heart for you to find your answer, and for you to complete your journey. May the Traveler in you be fulfilled before the end, and may you accomplish all. Alah nu, dus eks nechinus." Cyrus spoke his elven goodbye and kissed his index and middle finger, planting them atop Osra's crown in a blessing.
"Thank you for everything." The young woman said. "For helping him carry the weight, for helping me give him a proper end."
Cyrus turned and did not look back. He knew that Osra had turned north, her mind unable to look to the future until it had found its past.
"Know that you are not alone…" Cyrus said. I too will carry his promises. He inspired me. I will work my own interpretation of his will, and deal with the darkness that lingers upon, and beneath, this world.
Those simple words alleviated the pressure that seemed to sit on Osra's chest. No, her journey was yet to begin, but at least she knew that somewhere in the world, one was with her. Someone was thinking of her. The female warrior smiled as she began wading across the river to the dream of audacious hope. She aimed for the beds of bright flowers on the opposite bank.
Cyrus prepared himself for his own, long journey. He wasn't sure if he would survive it, nor if he would be able to safeguard the world, but there were too many things to be done before a premature end. The trees whirled beside him, and the mountains sang with whistling wind. A place where he'd long given up on still remained, and a joy which he'd forgotten was replenished.
As the two parted, the wishes and memories, both spoken and unspoken, of Valdar Justax went with them. Though to be greatly forgotten, the man's actions, disciples, and dreams would continue to shape the history of Azeroth. Truly, this was a legend and myth to arise once again, and inspire the masses; a legend of bravery, of sacrifice, and of eternal endurance…a legend of Azeroth.
The Barrens, One Month Later
"Then we shall part here." Jaina Proudmoore spoke. Her lips were chapped from the dryness of the Barrens.
"And where do you intend to settle your people?" Thrall asked, sitting on a rock surveying his surroundings.
In the distance, safely away from the columns and caravans of the Alliance and orcs, a small herd of gazelle grazed peacefully. Even further away blue mountains shot up into the sky, behind which he had heard from Cairne was the land of the tauren; Mulgore.
Cairne had taken his Bloodhoof warriors back to that place. He promised to return once he set order to the Plains and rallied the tauren to push out the centaur once and for all. Of course, the Horde would lend its assistance when that time came.
In the air a vulture circled. On the ground, golden grass swayed alongside short, squat trees for what seemed an eternity. A rattler snaked its way through the tall grass, careful to avoid any bipedal hunters. This was a good land; a hardy, beautiful land. It was a place that his people deserved.
"We spotted some good land on a marshy coastline to the south where we first landed. It should be more than suitable for us." The sorceress replied, her shining blue eyes looking southbound.
"Are you sure that those marshlands are habitable enough for your people? Especially with so many?" Thrall asked.
Jaina turned to him and smiled. "Worried?"
Thrall was taken aback for moment. "Your people might be angered and other throw you. They might invade my new lands." He spoke tactfully, thinking quickly.
Jaina laughed. "Do not fear, Warchief. There are many great isles beyond the marshlands on which I intend to settle. We still have a great many warships tethered in coves there that we left behind on our march north. We can utilize that navy and control the channels between the islands and the mainland."
"Those islands are lush and promising. There we can make our new start."
"The same words are true for us as well." Thrall answered gruffly. "Still, there is a long road ahead of us."
"Indeed. My ambassador will stay with you to keep us in communication." She said, motioning to a mustachioed man that stood in the background yelling at cart drivers. "He used to be a merchant in Boralus, though he knows orcish quite proficiently. I think he's quite qualified."
Thrall let out a brief smile. The red faced man reminded him of his trainer when he was a slave in Durnholde Keep. He had been one of the few kind souls in a cruel place.
"Very well." Thrall stuck out his hand in the customary human manner.
Jaina surprised, smiled, and completed the handshake.
"Until next time, Proudmoore." Thrall said, turning back to his people.
As the two parted, the columns of the population of the refugees of Lordaeron and the orcs broke further apart and went their separate ways. They did so not under the force of a greater enemy, and not with weapons in hand.
The two sides, tired of war and hate, departed in peace, ready to help usher in a new generation and world.
Wind howled through the snowy passes of the Alterac Mountains. Jagged peaks jutted into the sky, spearing it without abandon. Atop a glacier the cloak of a lone high elf stood vertically straight as the wind snapped it backwards.
The figure made his way through the blizzard, barely able to see in front of himself in falling snows. His left knee gave out. The elf crumbled to the ground, the snow rising to his hips. Before he fell face first, his hands held him up.
"I am Alaric Faltron'Quel! Duke of Tranquillen, heir to the most ancient and wise people in the world! The blood of the Sunstriders flows through my veins! I will not fall to this folly." He wheezed, pushing himself back up.
There was a long road ahead. Many things had been made clear to him of late. He'd seen the fall of his homeland firsthand, how its forests had burned and its people were put to the sword. There had been that crushing moment when he'd been given a choice to save a life, or die along with his beloved city of Silvermoon.
Before his waking eyes he could still see the city burning on the horizon. He could smell the sea spray as the boat tumbled amongst the waves of that stormy northern ocean. He could still hear the stifled and muffled cries of pain, both physical and mental. The whiteness before him only made it easier as a canvas to paint such a picture.
Suddenly the ice below Alaric's feet cracked sickeningly. He looked down with sudden apprehension. The ground rumbled. Something below him was moving. He began to break into a full sprint, despite the snowy path ahead of him.
Behind, a massive wyrm exploded from the glacier's encasing ices. Its flesh hung in ragged scraps. The monster had been resurrected not long ago. The decomposition had been slowed by the temperature and climate. It was a frost wyrm. Magical flames colder than nether-ice erupted from below Alaric; the elf jumped backwards, flipping and landing amidst a patch of hardy lichen that survived clinging to the rocks.
Even here, hm? Alaric turned. The lumbering beasts spread its massive wings, the span reaching more than a hundred feet across. They leapt into the sky roaring with a shrieks that struck terror into any normal soul. These wyrms were even larger than normal.
Before such beasts, any normal man would flee. Any sane man…
Alaric laughed. He drew his sword, the heirloom of his family; Quel'Barrer. It glowed with a fantastic golden brilliance. He then ran towards the wyrms, who themselves were descending upon him. They both unleashed their frosty breath in a tidal wave of azure magic. Alaric ducked down into the snow, covering himself with his magic-resistant cape.
The avalanche of death passed him by as the wyrms pulled up from their nose dives just short of the ground. Alaric emerged from his cocoon of safety, ice breaking off the edges of his cape and armor. From his fingertips, flame emerged.
"Ashel thuradas!" A ball of fire appeared in his palm, melting the snow around him. The frost wyrms came around for another pass, almost entirely obscured by the blizzard. As the lead wyrm pulled in front of the other, charging its next attack, Alaric blew on the flame ball. The attack expanded, growing into a phoenix-like form. The creature he'd summoned howled as it crashed into the wyrm. The wyrm exploded into flame and smoke and steam, spiraling to the side and crashing into the face of the vertical sheer cliff face nearby.
Alaric grasped the sword with both hands, culling the remaining wyrm closer. The creature approached with terrifying speed, intent on crushing him. Just before the two collided, Alaric again ducked, and then with all his might, jumped upward directly into the wyrm's underbelly.
His sword struck true, ripping a gaping hole in the undead monster's belly. The wyrm crashed to the side, skidding down the glacier until a its tail caught on a hole. Alaric was thrown backwards by the speed of the collision, almost falling off the side of the glacier itself. He caught himself with the blade, digging it deeply into the ice like a climber's axe.
With a deep breath, he pulled himself back up and descended to the still thrashing wyrm. It was wounded and unable to get up, its legs broken by the fall. Alaric nonchalantly walked up to the wyrm's head. He looked into the beast's unnatural eye. Lifting the sword, he thrust it down into the dragon's skull. It was done.
Alaric threw back his head and let out a long yell which echoed off of the cliffs and mountain peaks. He would make it come full circle. He knew his destiny.
"ARTHAS! I AM COMING FOR YOU!" The elf screamed, raising his arms in the snowy desert. Soon, his time would indeed come. Soon, his war would begin. The lonely silhouette of Alaric Quel disappeared into the whiteness of a new era.
Marcus Jonathan stood atop the altar of the Cathedral of Light. Archbishop Benedictus in his flowing golden robes placed upon his cheeks the Salve of the Luminary. The prayer continued.
"May those who return not to us remain in our hearts; for the Light allows us to see them in ourselves; in our actions and our words. For those that return, we give thanks and rejoicing; we share our warmth, food, and water." The Archbishop's soothing voice filled the huge chambers of the church.
Light shone in from the massive windows, the largest ever created by men. It was reflected again and again, concentrated and brought to specific places of holiness in the church to create an ambience. Ever there was light in these places, either from the sun, stars, moon, or fire. To these places people would gather to give communion to the various Saints, the latest of which was Anduin Lothar. His statue loomed large near the fore of the building, dressed in the vestments of a holy man. The work had taken ten years to complete by the most skilled artisans and masons, so lifelike and grand had it been.
The mass took much longer than Jonathan remembered to release. He was tired from the long ride home, and his wounds drained him of much energy. As the procession of Stormwind's greatest noblemen filtered out of the Cathedral, Marcus sat upon one of the willow benches near the fountain of Archbishop Faol.
The city, so great and fantastic, had been spared the wars of the north. Refugees streamed in day after day, but other than the increased numbers in the taverns, inns, and streets, life seemed almost the same in Stormwind. It was strange; as if no one understood what had truly occurred. Of course they hadn't. They weren't there.
They hadn't seen the demons of the Nether rip apart columns of men like wet tissue. They were not there when the dead rose from the fresh battlefields, not had they seen the ghost towns of Lordaeron. Pain filled Marcus Jonathan's wounds. They were bad enough for the doctorate to send him homeward, but not bad enough for him to perform the traditional Ceremony of Homecoming. Bah!
Suddenly, a warm hand clasped on his shoulder. He looked up. It was Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind.
"Black thunder, you looked miserable up there old friend." Varian spoke wryly. Young, gray eyes shone forth with electric knowledge and ambition, and a mane of dark hair tumbled down the back of his cerulean king's robe. The two had gotten to know each other at the end of the Second War, when Marcus Jonathan had been assigned to the new king's honor guard.
"King Varian, we ought to return to the Keep. The nobles are continuing with their petitions to revoke your new agricultural policy." A black haired beauty spoke. Marcus had never seen her before. He dress was clearly that of a noblewoman's, but it was markedly different from the styles of the Stormwind aristocracy. It was black dragonscale, and low cut on her chest, revealing quite a voluptuous pair of breasts. The curves on her body were all accentuated as well, each one flowing brilliantly to the next.
Varian looked at her with deadly annoyance. "Not now Katrana Prestor. Bother Bolvar Fordragon if you have something new to ask for. I will attend to your, and the noble's desires to talk when I am done here!"
Marcus attempted to tone out the conversation. He had no love for the politicking of nobles and sycophants.
After a few more lines that seemed to calm the king and get him to listen, the woman called Katrana Prestor seemed to smile slyly for a moment, bow, and disappear in the direction of the Keep.
"Hail the victorious dead." Varian spoke softly, turning back to Jonathan.
"Aye. To the victorious dead."
The old friends stood amongst the hustle and bustle, the King's Guard keeping everyone at a safe distance. Varian helped Marcus to his feet.
"I can walk, your majesty." Marcus began to walk alongside the king. The two passed through the various districts of the city, passing through the trade and holy districts. Roofs thatched with multicolored woods and paints gave the city a vibrancy seen rarely in the world's metropolises. The wonderful and beautiful public architecture given by the masons who'd rebuilt it still shone like new, the public servants at work every day to keep them clean.
Bath houses, aqueducts, forums all adorned the city, though Stormwind had its darker sides as well. Not far from where the two walked, past the boroughs of the bourgeoisies and growing middle class were the shanties and dark alleyways where vagrants and thieves lived. All of it culminated into a flavor that was wholly different to anything in the world, past or present. Stormwind had become more than just a city since its rebuilding; it had become a symbol, a nationality, and a word of pride.
"I have heard a great deal about a certain Jaina Proudmoore and those she ran off with during the middle of the war." Varian said with loosely disguised disgust. "They may have been used to now re-conquer Lordaeron."
"Sire, they might also have been slaughtered by the demons or undead. We cannot change the past, nor can we hope to do the impossible. I tell you now, attempting to raise another army and invade Lordaeron would be a waste of a great many lives. For now, we have no hope of taking it back." Marcus replied as straightforwardly as he could.
Varian grunted in disapproval, but also nodded in understanding. "There will come a time when we do though. In the mean time however, I must find reestablish what I can of the Alliance and bring pride back to its nations once again. We were so close from losing it all."
"Stormwind itself would be a ruin were it not for the heroic defense at the Thandol Span." General Jonathan spoke.
"Aye." The king agreed. As they passed under the massive statues in the Valley of Heroes, the King changed the subject once more to Jaina Proudmoore.
"I will have to find this girl and establish communications with her people. We must reincorporate them into the Alliance one way or another. If it is true that there is a land beyond the Great Sea…" The king's voice trailed off as he watched in awe the statues of those heroes.
"I have a proposal for you, old friend." The King said. "Though it may look it, we are not as safe as many think. Orcs emerge from Blackrock Mountain alongside evil dwarves. The lands around Grand Hamlet seem to be stricken with a strange malaise, and even the seasons seem to be getting colder, harming our crop in Westfall. Dark times will soon be upon us, and Stormwind needs a defender."
Marcus Jonathan knew what the king was going to ask. His mouth went dry.
"You are to be Stormwind's first General-Commandant since Anduin Lothar. Congratulations." Varian smiled. For a brief moment, Marcus glimpsed tiredness and the pressure of the kingship behind the smile and the king's grey eyes.
"Thank you for the most gracious offer milord, but—"
"You are the most qualified man. We will need you in the days to come. "Yes, sire." Marcus replied, voice hoarse.
"You will watch over this city, and honor these statues." Varian spoke, waving at the heroes of the Alliance beset in stone.
Marcus nodded, beholding those whom had held up the Alliance and its people in their darkest hours. It seemed to him as though more statues would need to be added in the wake of this new war, but that was all to come in time.
For now it was time to rest and recuperate, to lick wounds, and prepare for an uncertain future.
The Great Sea
Great black waves frothed back and forth in the storm. The sails of the dark ship whipped around in the gale force winds. Like minaret's, skeletons and ghouls stood upright at the edges of the ship unaware of the imminent danger.
The vessel was a harbinger of doom, a container of death incarnate. Upon it, near the bow, Arthas , first death knight of the Lich King, betrayer of his father and people, rightful Crown Prince of Lordaeron planted his legs firmly. Frostmourne, the runeblade that had corrupted his spirit, was grasped tightly in his hands, pointing towards the horizon.
His cold eyes surveyed the tumultuous seas. Beyond the clouds lay a band of light. That was the end of the storm beyond which lay his destiny. The wrecked lands of Lordaeron poked up above the sea not too far past the Maelstrom.
Arthas Menethil was returning to claim his crown.
Timeline of the Third War
Spring, 614 (Years of the Light)
The Plague of Undeath begins to spread across northern Lordaeron. Kel'thuzad heads the Cult of the Damned in infiltrating echelons of the Alliance.
The orcish Horde under Thrall departs Lordaeron.
The Prophet, Medievh, interrupts the council of King Terenas. His warning is unheeded.
Uther the Lightbringer sets out with the 1st Alliance Army to defeat the Blackrock clan in the Hillsbrad provinces. Prince Arthas Menethil joins him. Valdar Justax is transferred to the 1st Army. The orcs are defeated.
The Prophet visits Dalaran
Mid Spring The first undead attacks begin at Castle Thoradin Pointe.
The Plague spreads southward into Alterac and eastern Lordaeron. Cyrus Faim'las travels to Lordaeron to research the Plague.
Jaina Proudmoore and Arthas Menethil begin to track the Plague to its sources. They first encounter Kel'thuzad. The necromancer is slain in a subsequent encounter.
Valdar Justax experiences his first true battle at Andorhol. King Terenas issues a quarantine of the Northern provinces far too late. Hearthglen is beset by an undead siege.
The Battle of Hearthglen is won by the arrival of Uther and the Knights of the Silver Hand. Arthas and Uther travel east to Stratholme.
En route to Stratholme, the Prophet attempts to influence Arthas. He fails.
Arthas orders the purging of Stratholme. Uther the Lightbringer and Jaina Proudmoore refuse. Arthas disbands the paladin orders. Valdar Justax meets Knecht Claudius of the Knights Luminary. Jaina Proudmoore is approached by the Prophet.
Arthas sails to Northrend.
The Syndicate infiltrates Stromgarde.
Jaeger Lorydist plots with the Cult of the Damned to overthrow the Menethil dynasty.
The 6th Army encounters the bulk of the Scourge and engages it in the Battle of Corrin's Crossing. It is a catastrophic loss for the Alliance.
Uther the Lightbringer is given command over all Alliance forces. Undead armies continue to rise with stunning frequency, throwing off the rigid and unprepared militaries of the living.
Arthas arrives in Northrend.
Gilneas closes its borders.
Jaina Proudmoore establishes of political stronghold in the city of Port Hope's Rise.
Jaina Proudmoore visits Stromgarde to gain followers for her expedition.
Arthas encounters Muradin Bronzebeard. The two follow the Scourge deep into Northrend before being surrounded. King Terenas sends word for the expedition to be recalled. Arthas orders the ships burned so that none of his men may comply.
The first battles of the Grace Fields are fought. Valdar Justax is given his first command.
Surrounded, Arthas is driven to desperation. He and Muradin seek out the runeblade Frostmourne. Upon taking it, Muradin is supposedly killed.
Arthas slays Mal'ganis in single combat and disappears into the snows of Northrend.
The war continues. The 15th Alliance Army is completely routed in the Battle of Trezibon
Uther the Lightbringer leads the Alliance to a smashing victory in the Battle of Allin Ford. The Alliance is lulled into a false sense of security.
Arthas Menethil returns to Lordaeron and slays his father, King Terenas Menethil II.
Jaeger Lorydist initiates the Lordaeron Civil War by arranging the death of the Chamber of Highlords.
The Scourge, which had lain dormant in the late summer months, attacks Lordaeron with full force. The Alliance military is scattered. A great panic sweeps the nation.
Cyrus Faim'las is swept up in columns of refugees moving southward.
The orcs land in Kalimdor. Scattered, they attempt to reunite themselves.
Arthas reappears, leading the Scourge in the decimation of Lordaerel villages.
Cyrus Faim'las reaches Port Hope's Rise and meets Jaina Proudmoore.
Jaeger Lorydist is betrayed and slain by the Cult of the Damned.
The Third Battle of the Grace Fields occurs (decisive Scourge victory). Valdar Justax is gravely wounded and meets Ellena.
Arthas is instructed to revive Kel'thuzad in the Sunwell. He leads a systematic hunt of all remaining paladins.
Uther the Lightbringer is slain in single combat by Arthas Menethil. Deprived of its hero and general as well as its king, Lordaeron's last organized resistance collapses.
Jaina Proudmoore departs Lordaeron with her followers.
Grom Hellscream and Thrall are reunited.
The solitary paladins of the Grand Cathedral enter the war under the command of the Ashbringer Mograine.
The Civil War begins to wind down.
Lordegarde falls. Andorhol falls for a final time. Corrin's Crossing is razed.
Tyr's Hand is besieged.
The Scourge's main body moves towards Quel'thalas, leaving only sporadic undead behind.
Many towns begin to fend for themselves. One of these is Darrowshire.
Quel'thalas is invaded.
Sylvanas Windrunner leads a desperate series of battles; Goldenmist Village, Greenwood, and the Three Gates.
The fourth and final battle of the Grace Fields concludes in the scattering of the 6th Army. General Volsung is slain. Knecht Claudius and the Knights Luminary are slain. Ellena and Valdar escape.
The Lar'ledun Fortresses (the Sun Forts) in Quel'thalas fall to the Scourge.
Katrana Prestor appears in the courts of Stormwind as a minor noble from a backwater province. Her personal charm enchants many.
After weeks of valiant defense, Silvermoon is sacked and razed to the ground. Sylvanas Windrunner is slain. King Anasterian Sunstrider is slain. An elf named Alaric'quel escapes the fall of the city. Kel'thuzad is revived as a lich. Sylvanas Windrunner is revived as a banshee.
Gavinn Garithos gathers his own personal army in the fortified city of Wallaceburg.
The orcs meet the tauren and learn of the Oracle.
The worst winter in memory besets Lordaeron.
Jaina Proudmoore and her people march north as the Prophet had told them to.
Ellena and Valdar fall in with a refugee group. Valdar is read his fortune.
What is left of the Alliance armies begins to retreat southward.
The Blackrock clan is defeated by the Scourge. Contact is made with Archimonde.
Valdar Justax rides north to gather those he can to resist the Scourge.
The first battle of Dalaran occurs. Archimonde is summoned, and the Burning Legion invades Azeroth for a second time. Dalaran is ruined. Antonidas is slain. Prince Sirael Trollbane is slain.
Jaina Proudmoore and her flotilla land in Kalimdor.
Valdar Justax forms the Dogs of War with the bandits, soldiers, and volunteers he finds.
Darrowshire defends itself from Horgus.
Haures appears in Lordaeron to lead the Scourge and Legion there as Archimonde and Mannaroth invade Kalimdor.
Cyrus Faim'las is inducted into the Excubitores by Dragias the Proprietor.
The expedition under Jaina is attacked by the Warsong clan.
The battle between orcs and the Alliance reaches an impasse.
The orcs first enter Ashenvale. The Warsong Clan encounters the night elves.
The Battle of Northdale (Lordaeron) occurs.
Women join the Dogs of War's ranks. Osra joins the Dogs of War.
The Dogs of War defend the Alteran Pass.
Haures lays waste to Castle Perres. Ellena is slain.
Thrall and Jaina both enter the Stonetalon Caverns and encounter the Prophet.
A tenuous pact is agreed upon by the Alliance and Horde. Both rest and gather their stragglers.
The Warsong Clan is corrupted once again by Mannaroth's blood.
Thrall learns of Hellscream's corruption.
The final Battle of Darrowshire occurs. All defenders are slain. Carlin Redpath spreads word of its heroic last stand.
The Horde and Alliance Expedition set north, encountering the corrupted Warsong.
The Burning Legion invades Kalimdor.
The Dogs of War link up with the Alliance forces at Thoradin's Wall. The Combined Armies are formed.
The Battle of Thoradin's Wall takes place (tactical Alliance loss). The Excubitores reveal themselves.
Stromgarde is invaded by the Burning Legion.
The Warsong clan is freed from demonic corruption. Thrall and Grom encounter Mannaroth in single combat. Grom Hellscream is slain. Mannaroth is slain.
Tyrande Whisperwind leads a successful counterattack on the orcs and Alliance pact forces.
Rogir Helmsworth of the Dogs of War dies from his wounds.
The Burning Legion invades Ashenvale.
Strom is besieged by the Burning Legion.
The Combined Armies are forced into a fighting retreat across Stromgarde.
The dwarven contingent from Ironforge reinforces the Combined Armies. The Alliance makes a stand at the Battle of the Thandol Span (Alliance strategic victory). The Alliance gains the initiative.
Astranaar is sacked by the Burning Legion.
Tyrande Whisperwind leads the Sentinels into battle against the Legion in eastern Ashenvale.
Tyrande Whisperwind awakens the druids. Furion Stormrage awakens from the Emerald Dream and defeats a Scourge army single-handedly.
The Battle of the Arathi Highlands takes place in Stromgarde. The Excubitores return. Dragias initiates single combat with the demon lord Haures. Cyrus Faim'las enters the battle. Dragias is slain. Haures is wounded and retreats. Cyrus Faim'las joins the Dogs of War.
Furion Stormrage awakens the druids of the Claw and Talon. Illidan Stormrage is freed by Tyrande Whisperwind.
Furion and his druids cleanse the Moonglade.
Stormwind's forces arrive under General Marcus Jonathan.
The Alliance goes on the offensive on all fronts from Stromgarde to Hillsbrad. Disorganized and without leadership, most elements of the Scourge retreat to Dalaran. Newt Tallheart is gravely wounded.
Strom is saved from siege.
Stromgarde is cleansed of Scourge and the Burning legion.
The paladins of the Grand Monastery join the Combined Armies.
Illidan Stormrage encounters Arthas Menethil and learns of the Skull of Gul'dan.
The Alliance reorganizes for its assault on Alterac and Dalaran. Kael'thas and his elves join the Combined Armies.
Illidan Stormrage acquires the Skull of Gul'dan. Tichondrious is slain. Illidan is exiled.
Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, Thrall, and Jaina Proudmoore are brought together by the Prophet to form a Grand Alliance against the Legion.
The Second Battle of Dalaran begins. Alexandros Mograine defeats Kazzak. Thorr Steelhewer is slain, Alain Serath is slain, Archmage Belinda is slain, the Combined Armies open up a second front. The Dogs of War attack the rear of Dalaran via the river behind it.
Haures is slain, Thorek Ghent is slain, Valdar Justax dies of wounds. Major combat in the eastern theater concludes.
The Grand Alliance of Orcs, Tauren, Night Elves, Humans, High Elves, Dwarves, Furbolgs, and more prepare for the final assault of the Legion on Mount Hyjal.
The Battle of Mount Hyjal begins.
The Alliance Expedition delays the Legion and Scourge long enough for the Horde to move into position. Thrall wounds Archimonde. The night elves engage the Legion.
Archimonde and Furion Stormrage duel.
Archimonde is slain as the World Tree implodes.
The Third War officially ends.
(Author's Note: And thus the Third War ends. This has by far been the longest story I have ever written, and the most effort I have ever put into a literary work. However much work it was though, and however long it seemed it would take in those early days, I am so glad that I completed it to its fullest.
This story has been a milestone in my life, and it wasn't possible to come this far without the support of the fanfiction community and my good friend High Elf Swordsman.
To everyone who has continued to read throughout the years, I thank you again. This story is now complete, but its spirit and morals will live on I hope, in the hearts of its fans. I will now be able to start writing other fictions which I have had planned, so stay in touch, and in the future I believe I will see many of you again. For now though, I will take a brief hiatus from writing to get my creative juices flowing again.
Farewell for the moment, friends. Stay awesome.