A cold wind blew across the waters of
Archmage Malin, the last of Stormwind’s secretive conjurors, took a deep breath, inhaling the cold mountain air. He adjusted a few cinches on his robes to better keep him warm, and upon feeling the wind pick up again, considered returning to Stormwind briefly to retrieve his hat. But as he looked up, the sight ahead reminded him of why he came all this way. He briskly began walking down the trail leading to Dalaran.
The slim white spires of the city of magic rose up underneath a shield of violet energy sustained by a dozen members of the Kirin Tor. Unlike the towers of Stormwind, which were constructed by the master masons of the southern regions, Dalaran was brought back from its devastation at the hands of the Eredar lord Archimonde through almost entirely magical means. The buildings were formed from seamless alabaster stone. They rose up in ways impossible to be replicated by scaffolding, brick, and mortar. Although it had taken several years, the renewed Dalaran was a perfect replica of the ideal city that existed in the mind of its architect. The constant glow of the arcane energy that lit the street, sheltered the city, and bent to the will of every mage within the city lent Dalaran an otherworldly glow unlike any other city on Azeroth, save the Draenei’s home in the wreckage of the Exodar.
As he neared the border of the protective dome, a pair of guards called him to a halt. As they approached him, their captain emerged from the guard post. She looked him over for a second, before an ear to ear grin appeared on her face.
“DADDY!” The guards looked quite surprised as their normally stern captain shrieked like a schoolgirl and hurled herself into the comforting embrace of her father, whom she hadn’t seen since she accepted her posting with the Kirin Tor Arcane Guard, over a year ago. Even through his thick robes, Emmy Malin could feel the scars that covered her father’s back, the legacy of an encounter with an orc warlock in the final, desperate hours of the fall of Stormwind in the First War. The fight that left her father wounded, and her mother dead; even now, years later, the memories of that day brought tears to Emmy’s eyes.
Dalaran was exactly as Archmage Malin remembered it, in a manner of speaking. It was nothing like the pile of rubble he had left behind during the third war, but every facet of the city had been restored to the glory of the height of the Kirin Tor’s power. Whereas the Archmage had returned to his homeland of Elwynn to aid in the reconstruction of Stormwind, Emmy, who by then had become a full fledged member of the Kirin Tor, had stayed behind with her order. For the past several years, the Malin family worked hard to rebuild and secure both of their cities. The only things that they couldn’t bring back were the people lost to the wars that had defined the past decades. Misery, however, has no place at the table for a reunion such as this.
The two talked well into the night, dining on fine wine, bread, and sharp Dalaran cheddar cheese. They regaled each other with tales of their divergent lives. Emmy told her father about the guard who served in the first shift after her promotion to captain that, on a dare, drank a potion he found in the sewers underneath the city, and found himself transformed into an insect. It took 4 hours, and the intervention of Archmage Modera herself to unravel the effects that the arcane concoction had wrought upon the guard’s body. Archmage Malin countered with a story about a hero in service of Stormwind who was assigned to deliver a message to Jaina Proudmoore in Theramore. The Archmage had been tasked with sending the hero to Theramore, which he did, repeatedly. Every time he did, the hero returned with a new excuse for why he hadn’t delivered the message yet. The Firelord had erupted in
But as the sun set, and the moon climbed across the sky, the time came for them to sleep. The quarters of a captain of the Arcane Guard are not cramped, but as Emmy had not had a guest stay in quite a while, the house wasn’t well appointed for overnight visitors. It took some doing, but Emmy managed to convince her father to take her room, while she would sleep in the second bedroom that she had converted into her office. After a cursory inspection to ensure that the room was presentable, she ushered her father in and began to show him where the lights and facilities were. She gave the dimmer switch a little flick to demonstrate how it worked, but nothing happened, the room remained brightly lit by the flares of arcane energy.
“Oh no, the conduit’s jammed again. It took almost three days to get the maintenance crew to fix it last time. I’m sorry; I’ll get my sleeping mask for you.” Emmy began to rummage through her drawers trying to find the black piece of cloth.
“Are they still using enchanted thorium to run power to the lights directly from the ley line?” The Archmage inquired, rubbing his grey beard as he considered the situation.
“I think so,”
“Then I think I can fix this little problem without having to bother the good folks at maintenance.” He began tapping at the walls as if he was looking for a stud. Once he had found the position he was looking for, he placed his hand on the wall and focused. The room got colder as he poured a small amount of frost energy into the wall, and as the frost grew, the lights dimmed. “This is an old trick I was taught by Nielas Aran. If you channel frost directly into an arcane flow, you can suppress the flow of energy.”
“How come you never taught me that?”
“I have to keep some tricks a secret, otherwise how could I impress you?”
“You always impress me, daddy.”
Emmy burst from slumber as the lights in her office came on. She sat up upon her cot, pushed her long brown hair out of her eyes, and looked for the source of the intrusion. An elf woman with blond hair cascading down her face, framing her blue eyes as she frantically searched Emmy’s office for something. “Telestra?” Emmy asked groggily. “What are you doing in my home?”
The head of the Sorcerer’s League looked up, startled. “Sleeping in your office? How very gauche of you, captain.” Telestra giggled, “Still, this isn’t an altogether unpleasant revelation. I have need of you. Malygos has awoken, and he is not pleased with the current state of affairs.”
“The Mad Aspect of Magic? Why do you need me for, I thought liaising with the blue dragonflight was strictly done at council level?”
The elf cocked her head, “Normally yes, but the Sorcerer’s League has found some disturbing information. Malygos has determined that the unchecked use of magic by the mortal races has endangered Azeroth to an unacceptable degree. Dalaran has been singled out as a particularly egregious offender, one that is to be made example of, immediately.” She sighed, and caught Emmy’s level gaze. “They seek to take advantage of a flaw in the protections of the Violet Hold, and turn the prisoners held there loose in the city. You of all people should know how devastating that will be; after all, you put most of those prisoners in there.”
Goosebumps ran up and down Emmy’s body. The Violet Hold was a magical prison designed to host the worst magical offenders that the Kirin Tor had arrested. Many of the most dangerous beings to come through the Dark Portal were secured there. Opportunists and scavengers that sought to use the chaos of the wars against the Horde to plunder the treasures and people of Azeroth for profit or pleasure. Any one of those prisoners could wreak havoc within the city; the thought of facing all of them terrified her. “Why not bring this to The Six? Surely they have the power to remedy this situation more effectively than I can.”
“Normally I would agree with you. But you surely remember Lord Krasus. His true name is Korialstraz. He is the prime consort of the Dragonqueen Alexstraza, and his influence upon the remaining members of The Six cannot be underestimated. Who knows how much of the information that goes to Rhonin and his lackeys winds up in Krasus’ hands, and through him, the aspects?” Telestra’s sapphire eyes narrowed. “We can not trust anyone with this information.”
“Breaking into my office helps this situation how?” Emmy asked, pointedly. “It’s not like I keep the security layouts on any old shelf in here.”
The briefest of frowns flickered across Telestra’s face. “You are correct of course. Perhaps I did not think this through, but as I said before, your unlikely choice of lodgings can work to our advantage.” She walked around the desk and kneeled down before Emmy’s cot. “We need to review the plans and find the flaw before the dragons decide to strike.”
Still somewhat resentful of being abruptly and rudely woken by the elf, Emmy stood up brushing Telestra aside and strode to her desk. The old oak desk was a gift given to her by the commander of the Arcane Guard when she was promoted to captain. Every captain had a similar desk in their office. Reaching under the first drawer, Emmy found a series of runes. Invoking a series of basic spells, she activated each rune in a specific order. Once she had completed the sequence, a compartment in the first drawer popped open, giving her access to all of the sensitive documents she had stored there. She reached in and withdrew the Violet Hold security plans, closing the compartment back up as soon as she could. She rolled the parchment out onto the desktop. It showed a layout of the Violet Hold, noting the location of the emergency containment crystals, which prisoners were the most dangerous, and what steps had been taken to secure them. It was a truly formidable prison, but like any other, it was not impregnable. Kael’thas had escaped from the Hold during the chaos after the third war, although the gaps in security that the naga had exploited had been closed and rigorously tested once the escape had ended.
Telestra slid in next to Emmy and began to review the document that lay before her. “You’ve caught an Ethereal? The Nexus Princes can’t be too happy about that.”
Emmy grimaced at the memory of the mission to capture the Ethereal, Xevozz. He had been attempting to harvest the ley lines around Dalaran in order to siphon the power back to the Ethereal’s projects in Outland. When they had confronted him, he tapped directly into that source of magical energy and used it to amplify his natural abilities for arcane manipulation. He attacked the mages with spells of such power and speed that no one in the Arcane Guard could match his ferocity. The power he had tapped coalesced into searing bright orbs that floated near him as he funneled their power into raw bolts of arcane force that tore through anything they impacted. It took the sacrifice of several courageous members of the Kirin Tor to lure him far enough away from the ley line that his access to its power was diminished enough to make a direct confrontation possible. The last man to give his life to make the capture possible was Emmy’s predecessor as captain. Even so, Xevozz’s last bolt had blistered Emmy’s skin, right through the frost energy that she had focused as a protective measure. Emmy used that same frost to entomb Zevozz in ice for long enough for him to be secured in the cells of the violet hold. As recognition for the bravery and aptitude for magical combat, she was promoted into the vacant captaincy.
Xevozz’s cell was designed specifically for his abilities; just as every other cell was tailored with its occupant in mind. It was double lined, course stone insulated him from a layer of arcanite laid down to divert any bursts of arcane energy, depriving him of any access to the confluence of ley lines that powered so much of the city, and the prison in which he was bound. As a further means of containment, Archmage Aethas Sunreaver carved confounding runes into the stones of the cell. Anyone who observed the dull glow of the seals would be unable to construct anything beyond the simplest thoughts. Spells of any sort were out of the picture, and the punishment held a special tone for an Ethereal, whose race always delighted in the intellectual aspects of their business. As long as he was within the cell, he wouldn’t even be able to understand that he was angry, much less give form to his rage. If he were to be broken out, however, he would have full command of his faculties, and unrestricted access to the ambient energy of the city of mages. The damage would be immense, and he was but one of the many beings of unfathomable power secured within the cells of the Violet Hold.
“I could care less what the Nexus Princes have to say about that. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them, the blue dragonflight, or anyone else break out my prisoners.” Emmy growled. She immediately went back to inspecting the layout, searching for any flaw that could be used to break into the prison. Every enchantment in every cell, every ward, rune, and sigil, every arcane field was inspected, checked, and rechecked. Emmy and Telestra were two of the rising stars of the Kirin Tor, both had seen the worst magic could bring out of people when the Archlich Kel’Thuzad made Dalaran a warzone during the Third War. He summoned Archimonde through the twisting nether and the Kirin Tor was still picking up the pieces from the sympathetic magic the warlock used to level the city. Telestra’s Sorcerer’s League had born the brunt of the invasion, and the elf had seen first hand how an attacker would seek to undermine the Kirin Tor’s strength. Between the two of them, no mage outside of the Council of the Six could hope to do a better job in isolating a potential weakness. The sun began to break over the mountains of the Hinterlands to the east when they found what they were looking for.
Emmy spotted the flaw first. A subtle error; which would normally have gone unnoticed during standard inspections, it was a position within the dome of the Hold where the conduits that carried the energy for the field which prevented teleportation and the emergency purge system came within an inch of each other. Under normal conditions, this would be a perfectly acceptable arrangement, however, if a strong enough mage were to attempt to open a portal to just outside the dome the resultant warp would push the conduits closer together, and the feedback in the purge system would detonate. This detonation would not only crack open the dome, but allow the blue dragonflight to send agents directly into the hold. While the anti teleportation field would still function well enough to prevent an invasion en masse, it would allow a few people at a time to infiltrate into the prison. There were only a handful of mages in the world who had the power to open a portal large enough to cause such a distortion. The majority of them, unfortunately, were members of the blue dragonflight.
“If they’re going to get in, that’s their only chance. If we can fix that hole, then there’s no way anyone can get into the Hold without walking in through the front door.” Emmy said. “We’d have to shut down the purge system until the threat has passed, but that system’s a bit of overkill anyways. It’s really only useful if that damn water elemental ever got lose. As long as we can keep the dragonflight from breaking the prisoners out, the odds of needing the purge system is slim.”
“Excellent, now we just need to bring this information to my compatriots, and we can begin planning.” Telestra looked exceedingly pleased with herself. She had as big a smile on her face as Emmy had ever seen, but as it always does, Telestra’s smile had a hint of arrogant bemusement; it was as if there was a joke that only she was privy to the punch line. It unsettled Emmy. “Well, Captain, shall we go?”
“I can just have the guards shut down the purge system.” Emmy suggested.
“They’ll want to know why you’re giving the order. They’ll be curious, and you know what they say about curiosity.” Telestra said trenchantly. “Regardless of weather or not you indulge them in their inquisitiveness, sending such an order through standard channels will attract the attention of people in whom we cannot afford to trust with this information. Which is where my compatriots come in, they will determine when the attack will come, and ensure that everything is prepared.”
“Let’s make this quick. I have company over.”
“Your father knows his way around the city. I’m sure he doesn’t need you to make sure that he gets a hearty breakfast.” Telestra said caustically.
“I’ll just leave him a note letting him know that I’m out,” Emmy grabbed a quill and a piece of stationary from her desk.
They stood in what appeared to be an ancient caldera. It was cold, a cold that cut right through the robes Emmy wore. The snow piled high upon the ground. They couldn’t still be in near Dalaran; the skies were still dark in this strange place. Telestra held her arm up and sent a flare up, signaling their location to her allies. In the flickering light cast by the flare, Emmy could see another elf approaching them from the darkness. The first thing Emmy could make out clearly was her eyes. Unlike Telestra, who came to the Kirin Tor before the fall of Quel’Thelas, the stranger had the unmistakable green eyes of a blood elf. Emmy’s mind reeled. Had Telestra sought aid from the Horde? Had she taken them to Kalimdor? The stranger walked further into the light of the flare.
“Do you have the information we need?” The stranger asked. Telestra nodded, and pulled the diagram of the Violet Hold out of her robes. She opened it and showed it to the blood elf.
“There’s a structural weakness in the dome’s security systems. They haven’t shut it down yet.” Telestra pointed out the flaws that Emmy had found.
“Telestra, who exactly are you working with?” Emmy demanded, unsure of where the elf’s allegiances lay.
“Who exactly is this little mortal? Why have you brought her here?” The blood elf inquired.
“This is Emmy Malin, a captain in the Arcane Guard. She’ll be a valuable asset to our cause.” Telestra declared. She turned to Emmy. “Emmy, this is your new employer.”
“Telestra, who are you working for?” Emmy said, gritting her teeth. She was now feeling very out of her depth.
Telestra began to speak up, but the blood elf cut her off. “I am Cyanigosa, daughter of Malygos, leader of the Mage Hunters.” She grinned, and her smile was colder than the icy winds that buffeted them.
“You’re what? Telestra, what have you done? How could you do this?” Emmy panicked. Telestra was in league with the blue dragonflight, and had tricked Emmy into helping her sell out the Kirin Tor. Telestra grabbed her by the shoulders.
“Be thankful I needed your help! The blue dragonflight is going to purge all magic users who don’t help them here. The only way you can stay alive is to help them here. Think about yourself. Think about your father! He’ll die if you don’t help us. I’m giving you a chance to save the only family you have left.” Emmy calmed down at the thought of her father. The Kirin Tor could defend themselves. Her father’s injuries would be the death of him if he were to ever attract the ire of the blues.
Emmy’s shoulders slumped. Her head hung low. “What do you need from me?” she asked the dragon.
Emmy stood in the Nexus, the base of operations for the blue dragonflight, located in the Borean Tundra of the frozen continent of Northrend. Like Dalaran, the Nexus sits on a confluence of ley lines. The Nexus is built from ornately carved blocks of ice, harvested from the glaciers of Northrend. Each segment is covered in runes and inscriptions, holding them aloft in defiance of gravity. Unlike Dalaran, which was clearly built as a human city, the Nexus is designed with dragons in mind. Many of the platforms have no connections to their fellows, despite being suspended hundreds of meters in the air. Those that lacked the ability to fly would find it very difficult to move freely through the complex. This was a place where the arcane forces that boiled underneath the skin of the world were not merely harnessed, but allowed to erupt freely. It streamed upwards in a font of power that the dragons drank from with regularity, but to Emmy found the harsh glare to be distracting, and in some parts of the Nexus, downright painful to look at.
Emmy wasn’t quite sure how long she had been here. A month at the minimum, but without contact from the outside world it was difficult to gauge the passage of time. She spent most of her time helping empower constructs on the exterior of the nexus. It was tedious work, but relatively simple. It did leave her with little time to herself; she was constantly monitored by dragonkin and other mage hunters. She spent what little time she had to herself planning, trying to figure out what she could do to stymie the dragons’ efforts without compromising herself or her family.
Her chance came when she was summoned to meet with Telestra within the walls of the Nexus proper. Both women had given up the purple robes of Kirin Tor magi for the azure robes of the Mage Hunters, but Telestra reveled in the change. Her self aggrandizement had reached a whole new level since her defection. Now she presented herself as “Grand Magus” Telestra, after her meteoric rise through the ranks of the Mage Hunters. Telestra beckoned Emmy to enter the room. As Emmy entered the room, she noticed the runes shimmering along the walls of the great space. This was one of the renowned libraries that the blue dragonflight compiled, archiving the vast majority of the magical knowledge on Azeroth. This library was only rivaled by the Central Repository in the Violet Citadel and the Guardian’s Archives in Karazhan. The information contained in this room could make any mortal mage much more powerful. As much as Emmy wanted to take the time to read the books here, to draw upon their knowledge, she feared how much knowledge Telestra had gained here, and how much it had empowered the treasonous elf.
“Emmy, we’ve been watching you. You’ve done well in preparing the centrifuge constructs for their deployment. Now we have a task that’s more suitable to your specific talents.”
“How may I be of service, Grand Magus?” Emmy almost choked on the words. Telestra, however, smiled that mocking smile of hers, and held out her hand. A ring sat upon her palm, it was made from thick silver construction, and blue inscriptions ran along the outside of the ring. It was the language of the dragons, one that Emmy couldn’t decipher, but a language of great age and great power.
“This is a ley line focus control. We’re using them to reroute the ley lines across Northrend to places of power for the Spellweaver. You’re to take it, and travel to the Dragonblight. Once in the Dragonblight, you’ll take command of our forces at the Glittering Strand. Use this ring to monitor and adjust the ley line. We need to route it directly to the Azure Dragonshrine, so that our forces attacking the
While the Nexus stood isolated from the horrors that had engulfed Northrend over the years, the Dragonblight had not. The freezing winds carried a cloying odor. The stench of decay was present throughout the continent. Even before the Scourge had taken over the continent, this was the place where every dragon came to die. Their bones still littered the snowy plains in unimaginable quantities. This continent was a place of death. No one would mistake it for anything else.
In the time that Emmy had been away from the mainland, war had come to Northrend, and the Dragonblight was at the heart of the conflicts. The
She stood upon the gritty sands of the beach, inspecting the route the ley line was traveling. The salty sea air kept the stench down, making it a little more bearable for Emmy to breathe. The ley line focus was a scaled up version of the ring that Emmy had received from Telestra. They were attuned with each other, allowing a mage who was skilled at focusing arcane energy through the ring on their finger to duplicate those manipulations on the ley line that seethed with power through the focus. The ruins of an ancient night elf city were built upon an intersection of ley lines. The blue dragonflight used a monolithic device known as a surge needle to split the intersection, and channel it through these foci to empower the Azure Dragonshrine, their base of operations in the area. Emmy’s post on the beach at the Glittering Strand was the first in a series of three foci that supercharged the power before it was harnessed at by the dragons themselves.
This was wreaking havoc on the land around the ley line. Arcane energy ripped through the ground, corrupting and mutating the flora and fauna in the area that wasn’t already infected by the plagues that the Scourge had unleashed upon the land. The second focus, which had been placed in the middle of a Tuskarr village, had disastrous consequences. Anyone not killed by the energies was rendered mad. The length to which Malygos was willing to go to erase the threat posed by mortal mages was staggering. Here was her opportunity to sabotage their plans. With control of this focus, she could deny the Azure Dragonshrine access to their power. By the time they could attune a new control to the focus, the combined forces of the dragonflights and the Kirin Tor would drive them out of the Dragonblight. All she needed was something to distract the other mages who were patrolling the area.
Emmy wish was granted as chaos erupted amongst the patrols. The shouted about an unseen enemy attacking them, and began working in tandem to neutralize the threat. As they scrambled to defend themselves and the focus, Emmy turned her attention to the focus.
“Keep them away from the focus!” She yelled to the intruder. She focused frost energy into the focus control ring, shunting that power directly into the flow of the ley line. Pouring more and more power into the spell, she felt the energy beginning to play out around her. The water vapor from the sea spray began to freeze, creating a veritable blizzard around her. The arcane power flowing through the ley line began to constrict, waning away as the icy infusion dragged the energy to a crawl. The familiar chill of frost magic played across her hands as beheld the effects of her meddling. A little more time and the damage would be catastrophic to the offensive on the
Archmage Malin stood his usual post in the Mage Quarter of Stormwind. Ever since his daughter had vanished two months ago, he had been distracted. Everyone who worked with him could sense it. He was often lost in his thoughts and concerns. This time was no different. He didn’t notice as the portal opened in front of him. It wasn’t until a cold blast of Northrend air poured through the portal as a mage, dressed in the resplendent violet of the Arcane Guard stepped through onto Stormwind soil. The Archmage recognized the visitor, he was one of the guards who served under his daughter when he last visited Dalaran. The guard, once stern and steadfast, seemed diminished. He offered the Archmage an envelope, stained with blood and warped by water damage.
“A hero fighting in the Nexus War found this. It’s addressed to you, sir. It’s the Captain’s… your daughter’s last letter.” The Archmage opened the letter with trembling hands, his breath caught in his throat as he read it.
I'm sorry for disappearing on you. If you're reading this letter, then I'm dead.
I've been forced to work for Malygos’ armies under threat that our family would be killed if I didn't. I feel so ashamed.
If there's anything that you can do to fight them, don't worry about me. I have them fooled and I'm sabotaging them from the inside.
I love you, Daddy!