It was late when we arrived in Dalaran. After the bunch of us got off the Windrunner, Dranosh ordered Drok to take his crew and report to Bolvar and the Argent Vanguard to help however much he could. As the ship made its departure, we got going to the Violet Citadel.
On the way, we passed through the center of the city. It was an eerie sight for me. In the middle of town, on the spot where there should have been the monument to the defeat of the Lich King, there’s a memorial honoring Tirion and the heroes who were lost with him in Icecrown Citadel. Liadrin stopped for a minute and offered a prayer for the fallen. Jaina. Dontrag and Utvoch. Saurfang.
A gnome was making his way around the city lighting all the lampposts when we arrived at the Violet Citadel. Rhonin was waiting for our arrival and was pacing around in the main hall like a restless animal. Liadrin started to break the news to him about Jaina, but Rhonin cut her off. I think he already knew, as soon as he saw us walk in without her.
He took us upstairs, where he summoned a portal for us to the Caverns of Time.
People get so used to taking mage portals that before long they forget how disorienting they are at first. You’re in one place, then there’s a flash of light, and for half a second you’re nowhere. You feel this dizzying whoosh run through your whole body and you feel like you’re falling, and then all of a sudden you’re somewhere different. New sights, new sounds, new everything. After you’ve done it a few times, you learn to roll with it and regain your sense of direction quickly, but every so often, when you first arrive in a new place, something happens to throw you out of your routine and reminds you just how unsettling it can be.
The ground shook violently under our feet as we arrived at the Caverns of Time. Not even just the ground – the walls, the ceiling, somehow even the air seemed to shudder around us. Bronze dragons were racing around, and bunches of drakonids ran up the ramp toward the surface. Anachronos was rumbling around, barking orders, rallying the cavern’s defenders. I don’t think I’d ever seen him so animated. After a minute, he spread his enormous wings and flew up the winding passageway with a handful of bronze drakes close behind.
In the middle of the chaos, Chromie teleported in right on top of us, talking a million miles an hour, and finally ushered us back to Soridormi, near the Hillsbrad portal, before teleporting away again.
SORIDORMI: Thank the Titans you’ve made it. We don’t have much time.
GARROSH: Do I even want to ask?
SORIDORMI: The Legion must have pieced together what we might try to do, as I’d feared. They started their attack some hours ago. We’ve been holding them back, but the battle has been a costly one.
The entire cavern quakes as shouts echo from the surface passageway.
DRANOSH: Well, we brought you a present.
Dranosh steps back and gestures to Faranell, who is holding the Focusing Iris.
FARANELL: <handing the Iris to Soridormi> Will you be able to do it?
SORIDORMI: <nods> It will take me a few minutes to open the portal and stabilize it, but I can get you back to Southshore, yes.
DRANOSH: Wait, Southshore? What’s in Southshore?
LIADRIN: A very long story…
GARROSH: Well now for the 50,000 gold question – what do we do when we’re back there?
MOKVAR: Please don’t tell me we have to go in and kidnap old-Edwin and switch him with young-Edwin but also do something with original-young-Edwin while we’re at it to make sure old-us don’t still grab original-young-Edwin by mistake, because, I mean, not enough aspirin in the world.
LIADRIN: Not to mention we would have to do something about the chameleon shard attunement in that case, if this Edwin doesn’t end up tending to it…
DRANOSH: Is there a reason why everyone but me seems to know what’s going on wherever it is we’re going?
LIADRIN: Honestly? Because everyone but you was there the first time.
GARROSH: We were all there before, Dranosh – the four of us, in old Southshore, about ten years ago. That’s how all of this started. That’s why the Legion and the Scourge are winning now.
LIADRIN: None of this was ever supposed to happen. It’s only happened this way because events in the past were altered, and have snowballed into what’s happening now.
DRANOSH: <blinking> Okay, I think I need a second here…
GARROSH: While you’re doing that… Sori? What’s the plan here?
SORIDORMI: I can get you to Hillsbrad the morning of the last day you were there. That’s when the disruption began. And ultimately, this rests on Edwin.
FARANELL: Oh great…
SORIDORMI: You’re right, Mokvar; trying to switch off versions of Edwin would be far too complicated and leave too much room for something else to go wrong…
The cavern shudders again, more violently.
GARROSH: Okay, this is sounding like we’re going for the simple approach. I’m a big fan of the simple approach.
SORIDORMI: Ordinarily, the one thing one must never do when traveling in time is to interact with oneself. In this case, though, that’s exactly what Edwin will need to do: force a crossing of timelines between both – or rather, all – versions of himself present in that time. If Edwin can make physical contact with both iterations of himself at once, it should short out the crossed lines and snap each version back to where he’s supposed to be.
LIADRIN: That last morning – that was when future-Edwin broke past-Edwin out of Mokvar’s hex.
MOKVAR: There’s our window. They’ll both be within a few feet of each other.
SORIDORMI: If he can do it, the shorting out should trigger both realities into resetting themselves and separating.
GARROSH: You get all that, Doc? Today’s your turn to save the world…
The ground shakes once again, and the cavern walls around the surface passage buckle. A handful of bronze dragons rush down into the cavern, with a swarm of demons close behind. Behind the initial wave of demon shock troops, Varimathras and Prince Malchezaar descend into the cavern.
CHROMIE: <calling out while circling around the cavern in dragon form> They’ve breached the cavern! Fall back and regroup! We have to hold them!
LIADRIN: Soridormi, do you need all of us to go back?
SORIDORMI: Edwin is the only one who has to go.
DRANOSH: <to Liadrin> I think that’s our cue for one last battle of the line.
Liadrin nods, draws the Ashbringer, and runs into a pack of terrorfiends, tearing through then with one spinning swipe of the blade.
<to Garrosh> This was your mission from the get-go, Overlord. Go see it through, and I’ll talk to you when it’s over.
Dranosh starts to turn to join the battle.
Dranosh looks back. Garrosh looks at him in silence for a moment.
…Give them hell.
DRANOSH: <smirks> I don’t really think they’re running short. <starts running toward the demons> Now go be a hero – that’s an order!
Dranosh leaps into a group of felguards and bursts into a Bladestorm.
GARROSH: You’re the boss. Lok’tar, Warchief…
FARANELL: Soridormi… I’ll try my best at this, but even if it works…
Soridormi nods to Faranell and starts to channel a spell through the Focusing Iris into the time portal.
Well…Garrosh said that…the other me may have thrown off the timeline without even meaning to, just because of what he knew. But now me…I’ve seen so much, how do we know I won’t disrupt history all over again?
Soridormi reaches into a belt pouch and tosses a small tuber to Faranell.
SORIDORMI: This is a Nepenthe Root. Is grows only here in the Caverns of Time. Eat it once you’re through the time portal; it will take an hour or two to take effect. The root is a powerful purifier on the mind – its effects will ripple through your entire timeline, purging any memories out of synch with their natural timeframe.
GARROSH: It’s not going to oops-mindwipe him completely, is it?
SORIDORMI: No…the worst side effect he might experience would manifest itself as sporadic and random lapses of memory.
The demons continued flooding into the cavern while Dranosh, Liadrin, and the dragons fought to hold them at bay. A group of doomguards managed to get all the way back to the Hillsbrad portal with us. Mokvar, Edwin, and I managed to fight them off while Soridormi continued channeling her spell. Once they were dead, Mokvar pushed his notes into my hands and said to take care of Edwin while he helped the rest with the demons, and ran off into the fight.
I looked past Mokvar as he ran into the fray and saw Dranosh going toe-to-toe with Varimathras, then leaping up and sending a Mortal Strike tearing straight into the dreadlord’s throat. One more swing and he had Varimathras’ head off altogether. He caught it, spun around, and sent it flying at Malchezaar — pointed so that the dreadlord’s horns pierced straight through Malchezaar’s eyes.
The portal glowed brighter as Soridormi poured more magic into it. Then the ground shuddered again, and large chunks of the stone around the surface passage broke away. With a demonic laugh announcing his arrival, Kil’jaeden, Lord of the Burning Legion, stepped down into the Caverns of Time and started walking directly toward us.
Liadrin tore through at least twenty demons with one of her Divine Storms, and ran between Kil’jaeden and us. The demon lord extended his hand toward her, palm extended, and released a torrent of shadow magic. Liadrin held the Ashbringer over her head and projected a shimmering shield of holy magic around herself. The two stood there, facing each other down – Kil’jaeden kept pouring more power into his shadow torrent, Liadrin kept drawing on the Light and the power of the Ashbringer to hold it back. As she exerted herself more and more, a gleaming white light shone out of the Ashbringer and around her whole body – and after a moment, just as Soridormi called out to us that the time portal was ready, the glowing, pulsing light surrounding Liadrin sharpened into the shape of a naaru.
Liadrin looked back at us. Her eyes were white and glowing. For all the fighting and screaming and magic eruptions, I should never have been able to make out an individual voice, but just for a moment I could hear hers – in my head. It was accompanied by a musical chiming, and echoed by a second voice, one I’d heard but not quite heard once before…the voice of A’dal.
We can’t hold him forever. GO!
I grabbed Edwin’s arm and pulled him through the portal as the ground shook and the walls quaked. The Caverns of Time disappeared in a dizzying rush of light, and the sounds of battle ringing in my ears faded into a memory of the future as I felt myself sliding back into the past.
I’ll see you on the other side.