It was that time of year again. The time of year where winter is about to plunge into even colder weather, fraught with ice and snow, rendering the land helpless, unable to do anything but wait for the first shoots of spring.
Yet even though nature had nothing to celebrate, the orcs and humans of Kalimdor did.
The time was swiftly approaching. The time to begin anew, the time to make resolutions, the time to throw aside war for the sake of having fun. Below Jaina Proudmoore's perch on the rocky cliff, a large beach teemed with humans and orcs mixing together, sharing food, drink, songs and tales. In the middle of the beach, a six-month-old clock stood proudly in its majesty, its foundations going deep into the sand, built especially for the yearly celebrations, built especially to withstand nature's forces. A year ago the first cross-species celebration had gone off with little problem, but this year they have a clock to help keep track of time.
The night, however, had been frustrating. Already Jaina and the orc Warchief Thrall had broken up several fights and brawls. Some orcs had set the trees of the mash alight, but the human mages, their faces dripping with sweat, had saved the night with the water they had conjured out of their fingertips. The orcs had attacked the humans, the humans had attacked the orcs, and even, at one point, a large group of a hundred or so murlocs had jumped into the fray with glee. Thankfully, they had been quickly dealt with.
Jaina Proudmoore stood on the rock, in line with the rest of the mages, exhaustion dripping off her, and watched the crowd. Though the majority of them were waiting for the mages to begin, Jaina could still see some of the dead murlocs being carried away.
Her nerves were almost overwhelming. She took a deep breath. She wanted nothing more but to have a share of the alcohol, but she had to stay sober, as did some of the complaining mages that were joining in the show. Most, however, hadn't given drink a glance, proud of what they were going to do. They had practiced for months, and everything was perfect in rehearsal. Soon it would come to life in the real thing.
Jaina continued scanning the crowd. As she had expected, the orcs clumped together, and so did the humans. Though they had thrown aside violence for one night, they still were unwilling to trust each other completely. Never fear, Jaina told herself. It would get better as the years went by.
If only it wouldn't take so long!
It had been Thrall's idea for the giant party, a year and a half ago. "Why not get together to celebrate?" he had said. After that, the large beach had been cleared of the spiders and murlocs it had been home to, and preparations had already been underway. The night had been successful, but they had watched proper fireworks. This year, the second that the orcs and the humans spent together, the mages were giving them a taste of something different.
Jaina slowly became aware of the audience once again – orcs and humans alike craning their necks to look at the clock. Any minute now, it would begin. Any minute now. Jaina swallowed nervously. She hoped it would go off as planned. It had to.
Jaina Proudmoore stood there, in the middle of the long line of mages, her shoulders back, her chin up and forward, only her eyes moving. Her hands were by her side, and it took all of Jaina's will not to clench her fists. She took deep and deliberate breaths, concentrating on staying awake. She could do this. She had faith in herself. She had faith in the other mages lining the rock. Thrall had faith in her. She couldn't see him, down in the darkness, but she knew that if she wanted him he would make himself seen.
Then her heart fluttered as she heard chanting. Twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen...
It would soon begin. No time for doubt. No time for nervousness. No time for anything but the present. It was time to live in the moment.
The mages could feel each other wishing themselves luck.
A burst of confidence bloomed in Jaina's heart.
She took a deep breath, and she felt her neighbors do the same.
The mages on the end started first, sending glowing frostbolts into the air that exploded after an interval – like real fireworks. They worked inwards until Jaina herself was sending one into the air. The mages worked precisely in their order, counting under their breath, working to a rhythm and keeping a close eye on their mana, using as little as possible for the best magic bursts they could manage. Frost bolts turned into fire balls, fire balls into arcane missiles, arcane missiles into arcane explosions, explosions back into rains of ice The sky above lit up with exploding magic, ice hurtling towards the ground like hail, then fire exploded in intervals along the rock face. The two mages on the end spread their palms skywards, water erupting like a fountain. The crowd watched in wonder – they had not expected a display like this! The magic built up, more water being shot into the air then turned into steam with well-aimed fire balls, ice bolts crashing into each other from opposite directions, showing the mages with icy shards that the heat would not allow to hurt them.
Then suddenly it climaxed in an mixed explosion of fire, ice, steam, arcane and water, and it was over. The soaking wet mages below, dripping with sweat, mana almost completely gone, grinned disbelievingly at the shocked crowd, who burst into applause for several, long minutes whilst the mages linked hands and bowed.
This night hadn't been so bad after all.