Days of future past
The trip from Kalimdor to Northrend isn’t exactly a short one, but normally it’s never really felt long to me. This time, though, it felt like it took forever. A short way into the flight, I took Edwin down below deck to talk to him alone and laid out the story for him – how his other self had managed to mess up the timelines, and how that’s led to everything being a disaster in this world. The worst part is that he barely responded to any of it. Just sat there, listening, staring at the floor most of the way though.
I was expecting him to get angry or argue with me or something when I told him what we needed to do, but he didn’t say a word. Just sat there, almost-but-not-quite nodded…I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. It’s an awful lot to get dropped on you all at once, and then that’s without it even being YOU that’s responsible, in a way at least. And without it being your BROTHER whose meant-to-happen death is the lynchpin to the whole damn thing.
Liadrin was there to greet us at the Argent Vanguard. The place was much more heavily fortified than the last time I’d been there. Over the last several months, Horde and Alliance forces had been pushed back from the Borean Tundra and Dragonblight, and so now most of the combined troops have been consolidated here. The base was expanded and reinforced, with more buildings, ramparts, a keep for the command base, a docking tower for airships…really impressive, actually, until you stop to think what made it necessary.
When we arrived, the base was in the middle of fending off an attack by Nerubian tunnelers. Nothing to worry too much about, according to Liadrin – these Nerubians crop up every so often and are more of a nuisance than anything. Fitting enough for a big ol’ batch of cockroaches.
From the docking tower, we could see Saurfang and Bolvar leading some of the troops around and beating the bugs back. While Drok and his crew tended to the Windrunner, a couple of Liadrin’s aides took Jaina, Faranell, Dontrag, and Utvoch down to their temporary quarters to get settled. The rest of us stood on the docking platform, watching the skirmish below.
DRANOSH: Definitely not enough of them to really get anywhere. Why even bother?
LIADRIN: To be a disturbance, most likely.
GARROSH: Why waste soldiers – or, well, bugs – just to annoy your enemy?
LIADRIN: Think of it from the Lich King’s perspective. You have an effectively unlimited supply of minions. They don’t need to eat or sleep or rest. You enemy does. Why wouldn’t you use some of those minions to disrupt your enemies’ sleep and stop them ever settling in for a meal in comfort?
GARROSH: You know, when you put it like that, it’s actually kind of creepy smart.
DRANOSH: I think I’m going to go down and give the good guys a hand. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the winning side of a fight. <smirks at Garrosh and gestures toward Saurfang below> Besides, can’t let the old man get too big a lead on me. You want in?
GARROSH: Go ahead. I’m going to stay up here and get caught up with Liadrin.
DRANOSH: Up to you.
Dranosh leaps down from the docking tower. Liadrin and Mokvar move to either side of Garrosh. They continue to watch Dranosh while they talk.
LIADRIN: Have you told him?
MOKVAR: Are you going to?
GARROSH: <pauses for a long moment> If I did, do you think there’s any chance at all that he would turn back?
MOKVAR: <shakes head> No.
GARROSH: Then let him go to the end not having to know who killed him.
We watched the battle for a while – Mokvar and I filling in some of the extra details on the Great Time FUBAR for Liadrin – until it finally wound down and the Argent troops returned to their stations. Liadrin and the others went into the keep to see about squeezing in a meal uninterrupted, but I wasn’t feeling very hungry, so I stayed outside and figured I’d take Mortimer out to stretch his wings some.
There was an orc soldier at the stables tending to another wyvern when I went to get Mortimer. We got to talking while I saddled Mortimer up. Guy name of Gar’lok. Turns out he was one of the soldiers at the Wrathgate. He asked a million questions about the demon attack on Orgrimmar, but above all he was worried about whether his kid had gotten out in time. Something told me not to ask, but I couldn’t help it. His kid was a boy. Named Gurtash. Of course. I wrapped the conversation up quickly and took Mortimer out.
We circled around the base a few times, then as we were flying over the keep, I spotted Mokvar and Edwin standing outside, looking over the base. I brought Mortimer down and joined them.
GARROSH: Everyone still inside?
MOKVAR: Back in their quarters now, mostly. Liadrin was going to meet with Bolvar. I think she’s going to have him take charge of the base while she’s away, once we’re ready to go.
GARROSH: What about Saurfang?
MOKVAR: I think he’s assuming he’s coming with us. Can’t blame him, really – how often does he get to go on a mission with his son?
GARROSH: This will be his last one, if we manage to pull this off.
MOKVAR: You know we will. Especially now. I mean, come on, bringing two Saurfangs? That’s not even fair.
GARROSH: Heh. Let’s hope. <looks to Faranell> You hanging in there okay, Doc? You’ve been pretty quiet.
Edwin stares silently into the mountains.
Edwin continues staring wordlessly.
Edwin turns to face Garrosh, still not speaking.
Look, I know you’ve had an awful lot dropped on you today, so I can see why you might be having trouble wrapping your head around it all.
FARANELL: <looking down at the ground> I’m not doing it.
MOKVAR: Oh boy…
GARROSH: You WHAT?
FARANELL: I said I’m not doing it.
GARROSH: You understand this whole thing kind of HINGES on you, right?
FARANELL: Yes, I do. I also understand that if we do what you were talking about doing, it means Patrick is going to die. Hell, not even just die – what did you say? – he gets turned into some undead mastermind working for the Scourge? He doesn’t even get to rest in peace!
GARROSH: I know, I know, it’s wrong and it’s awful and it’s not fair, but it’s the only way to set things right in this world.
FARANELL: And who decides what’s “right,” Garrosh? You? I’ve heard people talking – here and in the future – and I don’t exactly get the sense that you have this great track record for deciding what’s “right.”
GARROSH: Edwin, this isn’t what was supposed to happen. Hell, you were in Orgrimmar – did you not see those demons overrunning the place?
FARANELL: You also said back in my time – where I came from – the Scourge was going to overrun Lordaeron. So if you’re so fired up to go change the past, why don’t we just go stop that from happening, too?
GARROSH: Because like it or not, the Scourge invasion was what was supposed to happen, it’s what ALWAYS happened—
FARANELL: It always happened to you, Garrosh! Why is it okay to fix your present and not mine?
GARROSH: Things only ever happened like this because the past got MESSED with, Edwin!
FARANELL: Your past! Not mine – these events you’re talking about that “had to happen” – they haven’t happened yet for me! They’re my future! Who the hell says Patrick wasn’t “supposed” to be alive?
GARROSH: He’s only alive because you – he – the OTHER you went back and mucked things up so he WOULD!
FARANELL: So what? Good! I’m glad he did!
GARROSH: Edwin, that’s exactly the kind of shit that an ENTIRE DRAGONFLIGHT devoted their lives to preventing!
GARROSH: You can’t go back and change the past just because you don’t like how it turned out!
GARROSH: You see how things play out in the future so you decide you’re going to go back and prevent it? Nothing good can come out of that, Edwin, it—
FARANELL: Don’t go to Pandaria!
GARROSH: Did…you not hear ANYTHING I was just saying?!
FARANELL: What, you don’t like a little tinkering with your future? I thought that’s what we did around here.
GARROSH: What happened with Patrick HAPPENED. And if we don’t set it right… Look, I get that you care about him, but look around. You’ve got to realize people are DYING because of this!
FARANELL: You’re asking me to kill my brother!
Garrosh punches Faranell, knocking him down. While Faranell gathers himself, Garrosh stands over him.
GARROSH: Listen to me carefully because I’m only going to say this once. I get that you’re scared. I get that you’re upset. You have a right to be. I am too. And if you want to be angry at me for laying all this on you, you want to hate me, you go ahead. <glares at Faranell a moment, collecting himself> But don’t you DARE stand there and talk to me like you’re the only one losing a brother.
FARANELL: <head hanging> It’s…it’s not right…
GARROSH: You’re right. It’s not. <looks around> There are a lot of things that aren’t right. <looks back to Faranell> I think you need to see some more of them.
I pulled him back up, brought him to the stables, and had the flight master set him up with a gryphon. Then we took off and flew a path around Icecrown – taking care more than once to steer clear of the frost wyrms that seemed to be in flight nearly everywhere.
We flew over Ymirheim, where legions of vrykul were marching, training, lining up in squads. We flew over the Shadow Vault, back in Scourge hands, where saronite from the Weeping Quarry was being used to build massive siege engines. We flew over the front gates of Icecrown Citadel, surrounded by thousands of flesh giants and colossal skeletons. One battalion after another of zombies and ghouls. Gargoyles enough to blacken the sky, until I got the bright idea that we maybe didn’t want to be flying around out there. On the way back to the Argent Vanguard, we flew over the Broken Front, where an army of Scourge was gathering and marching east, while frost wyrms circled over Scourgeholm.
We landed back at the base, on a hill where the Argent people had put up a large tent that served as a makeshift chapel. From where we stood, we could see the mountains beyond the Breach, and part of the field swarming with gathering undead.
GARROSH: This is what we’re facing. You know those Scourge I told you about, the ones that wiped out Lordaeron? They weren’t even a fraction of this. And they’re coming.
FARANELL: Patrick… Right now, Patrick is safe in Thunder Bluff.
GARROSH: Right. He’s safe in Thunder Bluff NOW. Before that he was safe in Hearthglen. And safe in Andorhal. How long before he runs out of places to be safe?
Faranell lowers his head quietly.
Liadrin’s people will fight to the last person to hold them back. I’ve got no doubt of that. But sooner or later, it WILL be the last person. And then all of this gets unleashed on the rest of the world.
FARANELL: I just don’t want him to die.
GARROSH: Doc, it doesn’t make me any happier to tell you this than it makes you to hear it. But Patrick is going to die. The only question is, how many others are you going to let die with him? How many would he LET you?
Faranell paces around for a moment, occasionally looking back toward the marching Scourge, then walks up to the entrance to the chapel tent. From inside, Argent Confessor Paletress steps to the opening to meet him.
FARANELL: You’re the confessor?
PALETRESS: <nods> I’m Argent Confessor Paletress. Do you need to unburden your spirit?
FARANELL: Yes, Confessor.
PALETRESS: Tell me what it is you’ve done, friend.
Faranell looks past the Breach as waves of Scourge gather, frost wyrms circling in the sky above them.
FARANELL: I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I’ve done, Confessor.
PALETRESS: I’m sure it’s not as bad as you believe. Guilt often weighs on us far more heavily than the true weight of our sins.
FARANELL: It doesn’t matter. What I’ve done isn’t what I’ve come to confess.
PALETRESS: What do you wish to tell me, then, my friend?
Faranell watches a frost wyrm tearing down the tower at Crusader’s Pinnacle in the distance. He looks down and rubs his hands over his face, then finally lifts his head, not quite returning his eyes to Paletress.
FARANELL: I’m going to kill my brother.