"Chromie… I can't remember my name."
Chromie had become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Stratholme in the few days she had been here. Although Chromie liked the town, she knew that she couldn't make any real friends with any of the townspeople. That was the hardest part of this assignment, Chromie wasn't anything like those high and mighty dragons that looked down on mortals; she genuinely enjoyed living with them.
The problem was that she didn't want to let herself get too attached to any of them. After all, they would all be dead in a year, a short length of time, even for mortals.
"So you're the other dragon they sent to help me stop the Infinite Dragonflight?" Chromie asked. The question had been directed to a fellow bronze dragon, disguised as a human so as not to cause an uproar in the city
"Yes, although I don't really don't know much about the city, or the Event that we're trying to protect," he said. He grinned sheepishly, and Chromie could tell he was a little embarrassed at not being familiar with such an important point in history.
Chromie shrugged. That didn't really matter anyway. Whoever had sent this specific dragon almost certainly knew the outcome of their current project, so he had probably done a good job. She could only hope that was what it meant, because if they here failed the time line could suffer irreparable damage.
"I guess I'll have to fill you in then," said Chromie, smiling a little to try and put him at ease.
"Before the Third War," she began, "this city was infected with the Plague of Undeath. It was spread through several crates of grain which had been contaminated and distributed throughout the city.
"Prince Arthas realized that the majority of the town had already become infected by the Plague, even if they didn't yet show it. To prevent the townspeople from joining the ranks of the Scourge, Arthas and his forces killed every person in Stratholme, and burned it to the ground.
"The Infinite Dragonflight are here to stop the culling, at least that's what I've been told. We're actually a little early from the actual Event, we have about a year relative to now before Arthas arrives. During that time we'll be looking out for Infinite activity, making sure that they don't try to change something small and create a chain of events."
The dragon took all this in, and Chromie studied to his reaction to what he had learned. Even though all members of the Bronze Dragonflight knew the dangers of changing set events in time, some dragons who were new to these type of missions had serious problems with seemingly causing the deaths of so many.
Among the higher ranking dragons, Chromie was a loner in a majority that preferred to have no feelings whatsoever about the mortals affected by both changes and the prevention of changes to the time stream. They feared that if a dragon cared at all, it might affect their judgment and cause them to make the wrong choices. Although it might not feel like it at the time, letting a village be razed was sometimes the right thing to do.
Chromie, however, felt the weight of every man, woman, and child that she would be ensuring the death of. She still had to do her job, she knew that, but was horrified of what she would have become when she didn't care about what she did or who her actions directly or indirectly hurt.
But this dragon wasn't enough of a rookie to have seriously rebelled at the thought of making sure thousands of people were murdered. Thankfully though, at least to Chromie, he looked a bit sullen at the job he would have to do. "Would it kill the infinite Dragonflight to try and change something positive in history for once?" he muttered.
Despite herself, Chromie laughed. "It's all relative, you know that," Chromie replied, smiling once again.
"Well, sure but… I'm sorry," he said, changing tact. Once again, he wore that embarrassed look on his face. "I've never met you before, what's your name?"
"Chronormu, but I go by Chromie in this form."
"Chromie then," he said, smiling.
There was a silence for a few seconds, and then Chromie asked, "Aren't you curious about why I have a male name?"
"Absolutely," he replied. "But I'm sure you get that question every time you tell someone your name. I thought that you'd be tired of answering it by now."
Chromie laughed again, something she found easy to do around him. "Actually, yes, telling that story every time I meet a dragon for the first time is a little annoying, but I'm used to it. Speaking of which… I believe this is the first time I've met you as well."
"Really?" he asked, surprised.
"Yeah," said Chromie. "So, what's your name?"
The Infinite Dragonflight had finally acted to prevent the culling of Stratholme from occuring. To counter this, the Keepers of Time had sent a group of adventures, as was typical. Chromie was to act as their guide, she could tell them what to do but couldn't give them any real help aside from that.
Five humans walked into the cellar of the inn, where Chromie was waiting for them. 'Well,' thought Chromie, correcting herself. 'They aren't really humans. But the illusion I placed on them makes it close enough. At least Arthas won't run them through before they can help him.'
The adventurer in front waved, "Hello Chromie!" he said. "Nice to see you again."
Chromie shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, I've never met you before." Chromie took a second glance at the real mortal behind the illusion of the leader, and the other four for good measure. She'd never met any of them.
The one who had spoken looked confused. "But Chromie, it's me, Mokomar. We met in Western Plaguelands, and I just saw you a few days ago at-"
Chromie raised a hand to silence him; she hated hearing about things she would do in the future. "I'm a time traveler, remember? All members of the Bronze Dragonflight are. You may have met me for the first time somewhere, but that was a future me. This is the first time I've ever met you."
He looked confused for a few moments, then comprehension showed on his face. "Oh, I get it," he said. "How do you dragons keep track of it all?"
Chromie smiled. "Years of practice."
He was late.
He was never late.
Bronze dragons are never late.
Something horribly wrong had happened.
Judging by the damage done to his time line, its destruction had began around ten minutes ago. Just to be safe, she traveled back to right after she had left the adventurers their instructions to aid Arthas. She had traveled to meet him right after that, so meeting herself shouldn't be a problem. Not that meeting herself was a problem normally, but she hadn't met herself, so she wouldn't meet herself now and… she was rambling.
Chromie calmed herself down. Even though she could travel through time, she would only get one chance to save her follow dragon. Trying again after this would lead to all sort of complications, and possibly create a paradox. If she messed up now, with her one chance, he was worse than dead. She had sensed his time line a few minutes from fading into nothingness about 20 minutes ago, so she knew that he would be in serious danger for at least that long. Even if she could kill the member of the Infinite Dragonflight right now, she would have to wait until after 20 minutes had passed, or else she never would have known the problem in the first place.
But even after the 20 minutes were up, Chromie still couldn't do anything herself. She longed to simply descend on the bastard that was erasing his time line and destroy him, but she couldn't. In the process of time line erasure, if the dragon doing the erasing had access to someone close to the victim, the process went exponentially faster. To keep his time line intact for as long as possible, she had to stay far away.
Chromie initiated mind contact with the adventurer she had spoken to before. 'Something awful has happened!'
The adventurer responded almost immediately. 'What is it Chromie?' He sounded strained, he was most likely in the middle of combat.
'The Infinite Dragonflight has kidnapped one of my colleagues!' she sent frantically. 'They're doing something horrible to him!'
'We'll go save him right now! Just-"
"No!' Chromie replied. It killed her, but she had to complete her mission, their mission, for the sake of the time stream. 'Arthas… keeping him alive is still your highest priority.'
The words felt like a knife through her heart.
'Try your best to hurry though! If you go fast enough, you may be able to save him!'
'We'll try our best Chromie.'
The two dragons sat at a human restaurant in Stratholme. They had ordered their food, and were just talking while waiting for it to be served.
"You know, I love eating as a gnome," commented Chromie. "I mean, I enjoy eating as a mortal much more than a dragon in general, but I've found that you can really get the full experience of food as a gnome."
"I had no idea you were such a lover of food," he said. His eyes lit up, "You know, if you say so, I'll try eating as a gnome."
"If you want to… it might be different for someone else."
"No, I'll try it."
He got up from the table and walked into the bathroom to change his illusion. While the illusions dragons employed did tend to make mortals much less observant than normal, but a human seemingly to turn into a gnome would raise a few eyebrows at least. It was better to just use a private place so as not to arouse suspicion.
He came back as a gnome just as their food arrived, and so they began to eat together. As they ate and talked (he agreed that eating as a gnome was better than eating as a human), she thought about their relationship.
They had been together for quite a few months, relative time. Her relative time, but it actually applied to both of them. After they had met in Stratholme, they had decided to spend more time together while they kept an eye out for Infinite activity. Even then, the fact that they had both stayed in the same time together for so long seemed to suggest that they were more than just good friends…
Chromie had never really considered what a relationship with him would be like. Then she realized that it wouldn't be much different from what they had now, except they would be… mates?
As Chromie contemplated the possibilities, she watched him tell a story using ridiculously unnecessary hand motions, knocking over a glass of wine in the process. As he hurried to find something to clean it up with (completely missing the cloth to his right), she could easily see spending the rest of her life with him.
Chromie traveled to right after she had sensed his timeline fading for the first time. Now that her prior self had sensed it, she could finally stop it without creating a paradox.
She sensed that the adventurers had already entered the town hall. If they hurried, they had the time they needed to stop the Infinite agent.
'Please hurry! You're running out of time!' she sent to them.
'We have a problem!' one of them thought back. "The Infinite Dragonflight is sending forces to stop us. We can beat them, but it's going to take time! How much longer does your friend have?'
Chromie's heart sank. If there were Infinite grunts there to slow the adventurers down, than that almost certainly meant there was a more powerful Infinite member there to back them up. Even if the adventurers could kill it, it would still be much more wasted time that they could afford.
'Only a few minutes left…' Chromie finally replied.
'Oh…' sent the adventurer. 'Well, we'll go as fast as we can, but…' He left it unsaid, there was no need to finish the thought.
'Thank you, just try your best.'
'He's almost gone! Please save him!'
There was at most a minute left, his timeline had almost completely faded. In a few more seconds, it would be beyond the point of no return. He would be less than dead, he would be completely gone.
He would never have existed.
They would never have-
'Chromie, we've found him! There's an Infinite Corrupter doing… something to him.'
'Kill him! Even if you start to attack him, the bronze dragon won't be safe until he's dead!'
'Okay, we're going!'
Chromie couldn't handle simply sensing the battle from afar, so she expended a significant portion of her power to watch it directly. She tried not to look at the black energy that was destroying his time line, and instead focused on the battle. It looked like the adventures had the Infinite dragon almost dead, but she didn't know how much longer he could keep his time line in existence….
No one heard the scream. It wasn't audible. The adventurers didn't even know it had occurred.
But Chromie felt it. He was gone. The only reason she hadn't already forgotten about him was because of how close they had been, but even that would fade soon.
Some part of her noticed that the adventurers had struck down the Infinite Corrupter. Or, she supposed, they really hadn't.
After all, with his time line erased, the Corrupter had never been there to erase it.
Chromie threw herself back in time once again. She knew that it was impossible to save him now, but she didn't care. She had to try, if not for practical reasons than at least for her own sanity.
Once the transit was complete, she opened her eyes, expecting to find herself outside of Stratholme. Instead, she was in the Bronze Dragonshrine. Chromie gasped. Someone had changed her destination in mid-transit, and the only bronze dragon powerful enough to do that was-
Chromie gasped, then turned around and saw Nozdormu the Timeless One, leader of the Bronze Dragonflight. He sat majestically on a large rock, peering down at her from above.
Chromie was too anxious to bow. "Nozdormu! My mate is in serious danger, we need to-"
"I know, Chronormu."
'Of course he did…' she chided herself. 'Nozdormu is the Master of Time, of course he knows!'
"So… there is nothing you can do to save him?" she asked, pleading.
"No," he said simply.
That one syllable, a death sentence. No, worse than a death sentence. If he had died, it would be terrible. But at least he would still have existed. At least she could mourn.
Chromie collapsed on the sand of the Bronze Dominion and began to weep. She lay there for a long time, she wasn't sure how long, but knew that Nozdormu would be there for as long as she needed him. When she felt that she could, she sat up on her haunches and looked back as Nozdormu, stalwart as ever.
"I'm sorry for your loss," said Nozdormu passively. As stoic as Nozdormu was, even the small condolence was meaningful to Chromie.
"Erasure of one's time line is a horrible fate… to know throughout your entire life that at some point in your future, someone is trying to snuff you out, destroy every thing you are and ever will be and ever were. I speak from experience, although my fate is as nothing when compared to his."
"Nozdormu… why… why does the Infinite Dragonblight persist with these attacks on history? Why did he have to be erased…"
"The Infinite Dragonflight have their role to play, as do we all. Your role required this to happen... and my role was to make sure it could happen."
"But, how could you-" Chromie stopped in mid sentence. It was impossible…
"I am sorry, Chronormu. Truly I am."
Another apology? That didn't make sense, unless… Chromie put the pieces together. "The leader of the Infinite Dragonflight… it's you!"
"Yes, I am," Nozdormu replied simply.
"But… but… that's impossible," Chromie sputtered, her grief momentarily overridden by her confusion.
"As I said, we all have our roles to play in time. And as much as I regret it, leading the Infinite Dragonflight against my own flight is mine."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"The events that lead to this conversation were a direct result of a being whose timeline has been erased. This conversation will have never happened it a few moments."
Nozdormu looked away from Chromie, unable to continue to make eye contact. Chromie realized that although it was impossible for Nozdormu to cry because of his gemstone eyes, the almost tangible aura of regret and sadness he projected was beyond tears.
"Chronormu, I am so, so sorry."
Chromie placed herself along with the five adventures in a small pocket of time. It would be bad if Arthas noticed her, now she could talk with the five face to face without worrying about him.
"Arthas is safely on his way to Northrend; this part of the time stream has been protected. You've done your jobs well."
Although weary after a hard fought battle, the adventurers let out a large cheer. One of them, however, seemed a little subdued.
"Chromie… wasn't there something else you wanted us to do?"
"What are you talking about?" asked Chromie. "All you guys had to do was protect Arthas, and you did that. Everything's fine."
The adventurer shook his head slowly, more to clear it than to indicate negation. "But I thought you had told us to… never mind, I must have imagined it."
"I didn't tell you to do anything," Chromie insisted. "No one else really needed your help."
"Chromie… I can't remember my name."
"What are you talking about…" the name wouldn't come, and suddenly Chromie realized with a start that she couldn't remember it either. They had known for a while that his time line was being erased at some point in his future, but they could do nothing to stop it from their perspective. Chromie had hoped her future self could do it, but it looked like she had failed.
With his name, the primary way anyone identifies themselves with, lost to time, the dragon would be soon to follow.
"Hey," he said, smiling. "Cheer up. I don't like seeing you like that."
At that, she couldn't stop the tears. "How can I cheer up? How can you smile? In a few minutes you're going to be gone forever!"
He didn't stop smiling. "Well, there's nothing I can do about that, right? If I've only got a few minutes left, I'd better not waste these last few minutes on being sad. I understand if it's selfish of me, but I'd really like you to not waste these last few minutes, even if you won't remember them."
"Selfish of you?"
"Well, yeah, expecting you to act happy when all you want to do is be sad right now... I understand if you can't."
Chromie tried her best to smile for him through the tears. She was sure that she looked pathetic right now, but somehow his smile grew even larger.
"There we go," he said, moving to embrace her. "Thanks Chromie."
They huddled together, and waited for the end.
For the sake of Chromie, don't fail your mount runs.
Anyway, the idea for this came to me after a non mount-run of Culling of Stratholme. After we downed Mor'ganis and Chromie came down to say hi, I realized that she said absolutely nothing about the fact that we let one of her friends get his time line erased. I thought Blizzard had kind of dropped the ball there, then realized that technically, she wouldn't be saying anything because he had never existed, so she never asked us. Trippy. That's how time travel rolls.
Speaking of time travel, it's really annoying to write. Paraphrasing from Hitchhikers, "The biggest problem with time travel isn't paradox, it's grammar." A statement I agree wholeheartedly with.
While it isn't official that Nozdormu is the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight, it's pretty much spelled out in the quest Mystery of the Infinite (which has to be the coolest quest in WoW by far). Can't wait for that story to be expanded on.
I kind of feel like there's a lot of awkward phrasing in here, simply because I knew when I started writing this that I did not want to name the male dragon. I don't think there's anything actually confusing in there, but that's the reason the male dragon is continously refered to as "him". Didn't want to italicize it because it loses impact if you have to do it over and over.
Chromie, male or female? It really is up for debate, I looked everywhere for anything I could find on Chromie, but nothing. Male name, but the main disguise is a female gnome. So Chromie either is a female with a male name or a male who likes looking like a female. Either way, Chromie is awesome incarnate and is easily my favorite dragon.
Never played Warcraft 3 (I prefer Starcraft, but I really want to play it just for the lore), so I really don't know how to write Nozdormu. If my version if completely OOC, that's why.
The adventurer Mokomar is actually my character name. If you happen to play on Gurubashi and see me on, feel free to send a tell.
And if anyone is wondering why I haven't updated my other stories, I blame WoW. Wrath of the Lich King came out and did it's best to ruin my college GPA. I'd like to say that college is a factor, but all of my classes were easy and I ended up having more free time than in high school. It's going to suck when college starts kicking my butt... but anyway, I'm not dead, and I never will be. Expect long waits, but also expect updates... eventually.
Thanks for reading,