Anduin attempts to heal Wrathion’s mysterious illness in the confines of Lion’s Landing while Sabellian, alone, gathers materials and information to strike the Black Prince down.
“Thank you, Mishka!”
Anduin gave the draenei a quick wave before turning and heading back into the keep, his cane clacking against the rough stone floor. The warmth of the beach and the sharp salty air followed him as he made his way inside the courtyard then up into the interior of the fort; inside the stone walls the distant screams and hisses of the rockets and cannonballs being flung back and forth farther down along in the Wilds became a dull, quiet hum. Anduin was thankful for that.
The prince mulled over the information the draenei medic had given him as he walked up the first flight of stairs. He’d asked about setting bones – particularly about very displaced ones – as innocently as possible. Anduin needed to set Wrathion’s arm, and soon; he’d be pushing it off since arriving at Lion’s Landing two days ago, but he knew if he had waited any longer, the forearm would begin to heal in its awkward position.
Anduin made it to the top of the stairs and paused, cocking his head. It was a busy afternoon – the Horde had once again started off its goblins to shear down the ancient trees of Krasarang just this morning after three days of both sides taking a deep breath and licking their wounds, and the Alliance had responded instantly.
Most of the soldiers, then, were there in the forest -… and not inside. Anduin straightened his head; he’d heard no footsteps.
Quickly, just in case someone did end up passing by, he made his way down the hallway and ducked into one of the doorways. He paused a moment more, his head bowed, and once satisfied he wasn’t being followed by guards, Anduin turned his back to the door and looked around.
The thick smell of herbs and earth greeted him. Along the right side of the spacious room, shelves were stocked full of boxes of herbs, all a burst of color, from Lichbloom to Golden Lotus; on the left, stored more carefully, were jars and vials of liquids, some murky and others a-shine with a kind of magic glow.
The brief lull in warfare had allowed herbalists and alchemists to resupply the large medicine closet… and so no one had missed a bit of Silverleaf, a flask or two of Falling Leaves, and other assorted supplies going missing in the last two days.
Anduin sighed, and rubbed his eyes, which were bagged with grey circles. Not like anything that he’d taken had worked.
Shaking his head, he made a circuit around the closet, eyeing the herbs and flasks, weighing which ones would be the best to take and which ones would be the best to leave – he didn’t like taking these without permission, but he had no choice – and grabbing those that he ended up thinking might be the most beneficial. His satchel, which was slung over his shoulder, was heavy by the time he got back to the door, and tinkled lightly with each step from the hidden flasks inside.
Anduin lifted the flap and peered down: three vials, all different colors, a bushel of peacebloom, a handful of cinderbloom, and one Golden Lotus.
Maybe the cinderbloom would help. The prince frowned thoughtfully and smoothed back one of the fiery red petals; even through his cloth he could feel their gentle heat, a heat Wrathion desperately needed.
The dragon had not gotten any better since arriving at Lion’s Landing. His temperature had continued to drop, no matter how many blankets Anduin had piled on top of him or how close he’d been pressed to the open window with the warm sun. No flask, no herb, no tea, and no amount of Light had brought Wrathion’s heat back up, either.
Anduin, at least, had managed to heal the infected-looking cuts on the dragon’s arm, as well as the thicker claw-mark gashes across his chest, and some of the bruise along his eye… but despite that, Wrathion was hardly responsive, his skin ashy, his breath labored – ribs were a bone unable to be set –…
And he was always shivering.
Anduin was trying everything, and it was beginning to take a toll on the young prince – though he did not admit as much. Six hours of sleep in two days was not quite viable for good healing… but he was inherently nervous that if he fell asleep for too long, Wrathion would get worse.
Stifling a yawn, Anduin closed the leather flap back over the satchel. Left was keeping guard in his room; he had to hurry back with these supplies and the information Mishka had given him. First, he needed to set the dragon’s arm, and then, hope that one of these new ingredients would help bring his temperature back up.
He hoped it was enough. The prince began making his way to the stairs again, his satchel rattling. Anduin had strapped the dragon’s arm to a firm slot of wood, keeping it still by way of wrapped bandages. He’d been pushing off healing it, but the blond was aware if he didn’t snap it back into place soon that the bone and muscle there would begin to heal naturally on its own and would only make the arm worse, which had prodded today’s visit to Mishka. The draenei hardly seemed to have suspected anything – no one ever really did, besides Varian, when the prince gave his most innocent, curious smile – and Anduin was sure he could do what she had done himself…
Anduin made his way up the last flight of steps, limping heavily, then turned and started down the short hallway to his room.
He passed his father’s closed door; the prince hadn’t seen the King since he’d been home, but had been told by his bodyguards (who were relieved to see him safe after having disappeared for the third time Anduin had been at Lion’s Landing) that Varian was busy with some sort of internal trouble with the dwarves at Ironforge.
The blond wondered how that was going. Varian hadn’t been back to the dwarven capitol since he nearly slit Moira’s throat.
He shook his head. Anduin hoped it was going well. He wished he could be there, but at the same time, the prince had his own problems.
Anduin had reached his room, turned the golden handle – and found the door wouldn’t open.
“Left,” he said, his voice low. “It’s Anduin.”
There was a jingle, and the door jut open a sliver. Left peered down at him with one blue eye, saw it was him, then opened the door just enough so that he could slip inside. She cut it closed the moment he was in the room, so close she nearly caught the burned ends of his hair in the frame.
“No one was behind me,” Anduin pointed out, ruffling the back of his hair and giving the orc a vaguely amused look before heading over to the bed. Left grunted and went back to her position, her back leaned against the door and her hand held loosely over her golden crossbow.
Wrathion was propped up on the bed, which was pushed close to the sunny window. His broken arm was atop the huge mound of fluffed blankets that encased all but the top of his shoulders and his head, and his lips were parted just a sliver to reveal a fang biting down on his lower lip; a trail of gray smoke curled from the corner of his mouth. The dragon’s eyes were scrunched closed. Anduin had scrubbed the blood from Wrathion’s hair, face, and had tried to clean it from his tunic – but the Black Prince’s outfit was utterly ruined. Anduin had taken off the remaining scraps of the Wrathion’s chest-piece, leaving his pants, which were still somewhat decent, and had carefully slipped on one of his own gray tunics, which, thankfully, fit.
“You look better,” Anduin lied with a mumble, setting down the satchel on the side of the bed. Wrathion didn’t respond, though the prince hadn’t expected him to; the dragon hadn’t said much to Anduin since arriving, other than the occasional, incoherent mutter to himself, or a vague couple of words to the prince of Stormwind, before he fell back asleep.
Out of habit the blond leaned over and felt Wrathion’s forehead – it was as cold as it was when he left. Anduin frowned, then shifted through the satchel, taking out the clinking flasks and setting them aside.
“What did you get this time?” Left asked behind him.
Anduin closed his eyes. He took a deep breath. The prince just wanted to flop down in the bed and go to sleep. He was so tired. But he had to stay up – and Left, who had grown increasingly more volatile every time Anduin’s idea for healing her Prince had failed, berating him with passive aggressive comments, he didn’t need.
“Some flasks,” he said, trying to keep the temper born out of his exhaustion from his voice. Anduin knew it was because the bodyguard was worried for the dragon – it had to be – and so he shouldn’t be strife with her.
Left said nothing as Anduin pulled out the herbs he had gotten, as well. His eyes drifted to Wrathion’s skewered arm.
“I did ask one of the medics about setting bones, though,” Anduin said, his voice hesitant. “I can -”
“You asked someone for help?”
“No.” Anduin took another deep breath and forced his tensing shoulders to relax, and said in a more even voice: “I just asked basic information. She didn’t suspect anything.”
Left went quiet again, but the prince was aware she was unhappy, judging by how the sound of the metal trigger being tightened then loosened then tightened again as the orc’s fingers flexed atop it echoed behind him.
“Left, I had no choice. I didn’t know what to do. If I had held it back a day later his arm might have been permanently disfigured, and I don’t think he would have been very happy about that.” There was a snap to his words. The sound of the trigger stopped.
Anduin reached deep into the satchel then, thoroughly annoyed and wishing he wasn’t, and grabbed a heavy Elven liquor from the bottom that he’d taken from the storage in the kitchen before he had headed off to Mishka. It was a beautiful crystal bottle, in the shape of a bird with its wings outstretched, its open beak the neck of the flask where the cork was wedged inside its mouth.
The blond put his right leg on the bed to steady himself, then leaned over the Black Prince. Wrathion was sound asleep. Anduin studied him quietly. Maybe the dragon didn’t need the alcohol. His eyes drifted down to the crooked arm again. Perhaps he could just… twist it back in place quickly enough with Wrathion still -
The dragon opened his good left eye, a slim sliver. Anduin startled.
“You’re awake,” the blond said, dumbly. For a moment, he was happy - … before realizing that this was a very bad time for the dragon to have one of his brief bouts of wakefulness.
“Anduin Wrynn,” Wrathion mumbled. He shook hard, then stilled, his body going back to its regular quiver.
Anduin smiled at him. “Wrathion.” He repositioned his leg again to get a bit closer to the Black Prince. Wrathion’s eye began to flutter closed.
“I’m going to heal your arm, now,” the blond said, his voice calm, masking his exhaustion. “Then I’ll help your -” he struggled to find the right words - “… chill.”
Wrathion mumbled something incoherent. His head turned a bit more to Anduin, sinking deeper into the great cushion of pillows the prince had made for him.
“Just make -” a shudder - “it stop.”
His voice was slurred and thick, barely intelligible. His eye fixed on Anduin, and though the red gaze was gray-like and hazy, hardly focused, there was a vague sense of desperation there in the look.
Anduin stared at him; his throat tightened.
“I’m trying. You’ll be fine, I promise,” Anduin murmured, though Wrathion had already closed his eye and had seemed to lapse back into his troubled slumber.
Anduin took a deep, steadying breath – closed his eyes. Focused again. At least he’d fallen back asleep.
He grabbed the bottle and took the cork from the glass; the sharp, pungent smell of the liquor, a sort of sweet nectar scent, drifted from the crystal’s open mouth.
“This will numb the pain,” he said quietly, as he cupped the dragon’s chin in his free hand and unhinged Wrathion’s jaw to open his fanged mouth just a smidgen wider, unsure if Wrathion could hear him but saying it anyway. “It’s probably stronger than anything you’ve had, so I’m sorry if it makes you dizzy.”
Anduin lifted the crystal bottle and, as carefully as he could, poured the liquid in the dragon’s mouth. Wrathion coughed after a moment, but, as Anduin had done with the broth, he shifted the dragon’s face to force him to swallow the alcohol.
A third of the liquor was gone by the time Anduin let go of the dragon’s face and set the bottle down. Wrathion made a low grumbling noise, sighed, then seemed to go back to sleep for the second time.
Not for long, Anduin thought. He looked at the arm. Now came the hard part.
“Left, I need you to come over here,” Anduin said, as he pulled Wrathion’s broken arm away from the dragon’s torso; he needed good leverage. The orc came and stood by the side of the bed.
“Hold down his left shoulder.”
“When I pull this back into place, he’s going to jump up.” The blond glanced up at her, then back down at the break. His hands hovered over it, almost as if he was too nervous to touch it. The dark flesh that was not covered over by the thick gauze was swollen and red. “I’ll need twist it back first, then snap it back in place. If he moves when I’m moving it, it might just… hurt it more.”
Left nodded, rounded to the opposite side of the bed, and put her hands on the shoulder there.
“Whenever you’re ready, prince.” Her voice was emotionless.
Anduin swallowed. It wasn’t going to be too hard, he told himself. Just a quick twist then a snap. That was all.
He untied the thick gauze and unlatched the wood from Wrathion’s arm, sliding it out from underneath the break and setting it aside for later. Now that the bandages were off, Anduin could see the end of the broken bones, the very shattered, jagged edges, in the contours of the skin.
The prince placed one hand on Wrathion’s upper arm, and another on his wrist. His grip was tight.
“On the count of three, push down.”
Left nodded. Anduin steadied his breathing, and the gentle warmth of the Light bloomed in the center of his chest, calming him. The sounds of warfare from the open window, the seagulls, the far-away waves lapping up against the beach, fell away and Anduin focused.
“One… two… three!”
Anduin twisted hard. There was a wet, fleshy, snapping sound as the bottom of the forearm was twisted back upright.
Wrathion jerked forward with a choked, slurred gasp –
Or at least tried to. Left kept him pinned to the bed, and the dragon bore his teeth and yelled out in agony, a strangled sound mixed with both human and something vaguely draconic.
Someone would have heard that. Anduin’s mouth went dry.
But he had no time to think – Wrathion moved his arm, trying to pull it away from the other prince, but Anduin tightened his grip. His worry evaporated. He had to focus. His eyes flickered acutely over the break, and he saw that he’d managed to twist the end … only halfway. Wrathion’s palm was still skewered, just not as grotesquely upwards. He needed to twist again.
Anduin locked his jaw. No time to hesitate. He twisted the forearm for the second time. The dragon, smoke hissing from his teeth, writhed and yelled again, sounding on the verge of tears, but Left had him stable.
“Nearly there,” Anduin said. The palm was face-down, as it should have been. Now came snapping back the bones so that they could mend in their natural places.
The prince pulled down hard. There was a muffled clack. Wrathion lurched again, whimpered, then went still.
Anduin exhaled, relieved, his shoulders sinking down with a gentle shake as his nerves turned to jelly. He looked over the arm. Gently Anduin ran a finger over the skin, searching for a bump. But it was straight. The prince had done it.
Anduin smiled tiredly.
He looked up at the dragon despite Wrathion’s eyes being closed again. Wrathion’s mouth was twisted in a grimace.
Anduin leaned forward and squeezed the Black Prince’s shoulder. “That went… well!” He said, with a quiet laugh that was as shaky as his melted nerves felt.
Wrathion grumbled vaguely. Maybe the Black Prince would feel better from the tenuous praise.
Anduin dropped his hand then, and grabbed the wood and gauze he’d thrown to the side. The arm was set, but now it had to be stabilized. Diligently, the prince went to work casting the arm in a braced position, the wood on the bottom held tight by the thick bandages, until the entirety of Wrathion’s forearm was cast.
“There,” Anduin said with another smile. He would put it in a sling once the Black Prince had enough strength to stand again.
“Someone’s coming.” Anduin looked up and startled. Left had disappeared from the side of the bed – maybe when the prince was working on the cast. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the guard turned towards the door, crossbow at the ready.
Wrathion’s yelling – Anduin had nearly forgotten. He winced and stood, grabbing his cane. How could he explain?
A heavy, hurried knocking at the door. Left’s grip on the crossbow tightened. Anduin made a stop motion to her, putting his hand up quickly.
“Young prince! Is everything alright in there?” Came a worried voice from beyond the door. Anduin relaxed. It was only just a guard – not his father or anyone more worrisome.
“Yes, I’m fine!” He called back, sitting on the side of the bed, the danger passed. His leg was starting to throb. “I just -” His eyes flickered around the room, searching for a good lie “-hit my leg against my dresser.”
Anduin knew instantly it was a terrible lie. He rubbed his eyes - hit his leg against a dresser, really? – as Left glanced back at him with a critical look.
“… Well, alright, I guess,” the guard said, after a long moment’s silence. Anduin tried not to hear the tired disbelief in the guard’s voice. Surely the human on the other side didn’t believe him, but was forced to – because he was the prince.
It left a sour taste in his mouth – he didn’t like when the guards got in trouble with his father when he slipped passed them to visit Wrathion – but there was nothing he could do, at least in this case.
The bodyguard’s footsteps trailed away. Left visibly relaxed.
“’Hit your leg against a dresser?’ What, twice?”
Anduin huffed. “It was the first thing that came to mind!”
Left shook her head and resumed her position. Anduin ran a hand over his face and glanced back at the dragon. At least the guard hadn’t come inside, he thought.
Anduin glanced at the flasks and herbs he’d set off to the side.
Now that Wrathion’s arm was neatly cast, and the blond didn’t have to worry about it anymore, Anduin could focus on what was most worrisome about Wrathion’s condition: his chill.
Anduin grabbed one of the flasks – Warm Sun – and three of the cinderbloom, as well as an empty glass cup off of the bedside table, the bottom crusted over with the remainder of the Falling Leaves potion Anduin had tried on Wrathion last night with no effects.
He uncorked the flask and poured half inside the cup. His head swayed up and down, once; the adrenaline of healing Wrathion’s arm was wearing off, and the prince’s exhaustion was creeping back up his spine.
Would this even work? He glanced at the shivering dragon again. Anduin had healed the infected cuts. What if this was something else entirely?
Anduin eyed Left. He’d promised not to tell anyone the dragon was here, but that was before Wrathion had come down with his terrible chill. He knew he needed to ask for help.
But from whom?
Left hadn’t even responded well to Anduin asking Mishka information; the prince doubted she’d take to it again.
He shook his head. He’d ask soon – maybe when Left was in a better mood.
Anduin dropped the petals in the cup, and they sizzled hotly. He sighed, rubbed one of his eyes with the back of his hand, then turned back to the Black Prince.
“Alright, Wrathion,” he said, holding back a yawn. “Let’s try this.”
Baron Sablemane ripped the venomous, dripping fangs from the still-twitching yellow wasp the size of his torso and flung the bug off to the side, onto the deflated pile of corpses.
“Dirty work,” the dragon mumbled, twisting the two fangs in his hand as he inspected them, particularly the glands that bulged from their ends, swollen with poison. “Where is a ditzy mortal when you need one?”
Sablemane leaned against one of the larger trees of the Arbotoreum, the large orchard home to the Order of the Cloud Serpent in the lush Jade Forest. It was just nearing nightfall; the ink-makers across the small pond had retreated into their homes, the cloud serpents and their handlers had just settled away, and Sablemane was alone among the trees. His black cloak hid the glow of his shoulderpads and eyes, and his hood was heavy on his head.
No one saw him. He pocketed the fangs in a worn bag of daggerscale-raptor hide, positioning them so the poison sacs wouldn’t pop among the rest of the wasp-fangs he’d accumulated from the other bugs he’d shot down with his staff earlier.
The venom wasn’t a crust burster’s, but it would have to do. Sablemane glanced over his supplies with a vague sense of boredom and, partially satisfied with what he had, tied the bag closed tight and slipped it into the confines of his cloak.
Two days, nearing three, now that the sun was sinking, had passed since the human prince had snatched Wrathion from Kun-lai. Sablemane lifted from his lean on the tree and repositioned his hood down lower on his face. Nasandria was long gone, by now; once back at the Veiled Stair, the two dragons had found the robotic whelp the nether-drakes had been carrying in the ruins of the Tavern, badly burned but still working. The drake had taken off to the Badlands, as Sablemane had ordered, and the elder dragon had begun planning ideas of his own.
And the venom was the first thing he’d needed. He’d laid low for the first day, cautious of the Blacktalons giving away his position, but the rogues didn’t seem alerted – yet – to their Prince’s dilemma or Sablemane’s presence, and so the elder dragon had thought it best to collect the supplies he needed now before they did become aware.
He stepped passed the pile of wasp corpses and started down to the cobbled road. The sun had set quickly, and the orchard was dark. Gently-lit lanterns guided the way.
As he made his way out of the quiet place, Sablemane went over the ingredients he still needed. He’d made a sleeping potion strong enough to knock out a gronn the quarter of the size of Lion’s Landing before; the elder dragon was more than confident he could make the same, if not a more powerful, potion, to incapacitate the entire keep’s little mortals and snatch his prize back.
It was the only plan that had made sense to him. He’d mulled over simply crashing into the damn fort and grabbing Wrathion like he was some princess in a tower from one of those absurd human storybooks, but that was foolhardy, and Sablemane had dismissed the fleeting idea immediately.
No – subtlety was a game the dragon was well-versed in, and his skills in alchemy would be put to good use at last. He’d found no use for it in an initial attack on the Black Prince, thinking it a waste of time when he could simply crush the whelp underneath his talons…
But the game had changed, and so Sablemane would react accordingly. Good. He liked a nice scheme as much as any black dragon.
He squinted up at the shine of lights coming from the largest town in the Jade Forest higher up the road as he stepped from the last outskirts of the orchard. The dragon needed flasks – particularly ones that could break easily when thrown. The town would surely have some, if it was any good.
Sablemane made his way up, annoyed at having to walk. It was dark enough where he could shift into his dragon form and fly – but then again, the risk of someone looking up and seeing a dark blot against the black sky was too much of a risk.
It was still… inconvenient.
He pulled his hood down lower, cautious, when he finally entered the walls of the village. It was smaller than he had expected, the quaint pandaren houses built on a gentle slope as the land escalated against one of the tall hill-like mountains of the Jade Forest. The thick smells of meaty food and sweet brew, intermingled with the faint smell of cherry blossoms coming from the Arboretum, drifted around the crowd; Sablemane scowled. He hadn’t expected it to be so busy. And it was not just bustling with pandaren - races of the Horde and the Alliance walked by one another, but Sablemane could see under the hood of his cloak the wary, and sometimes outright hostile, looks they were giving their enemies.
He rolled his eyes. Things never changed.
The elder dragon looked around; he had not time to waste in thinking of the stupidity of mortals like the Horde and Alliance.
At least there was some good news – the place was littered with merchants carts. Surely the too-cheery pandaren people had simple flasks.
He snapped his fingers in the face of one pandaren merchant closest to him, whose head was bowed over a stir of noodles. “You. Where are alchemical ingredients?”
The pandaren looked up, startled, the large braid at the back of his head swinging. “Alchemy?”
Sablemane sighed loudly. “Yes. Alchemy.” What, was he deaf?
The pandaren looked around, squinting. Sablemane crossed his arms, his impatience rising.
Just when Sablemane was really about to get cross, the pandaren pointed off to the opposite side of the the large stoned lane. “Should be there, friend,” he said, a touch of wariness in his voice as he glanced sidelong at the dragon.
Sablemane rolled his eyes again and started towards where the pandaren had pointed without a thank-you; the merchant had been so slow in answering, gratitude wasn’t warranted.
There was a line. Of course there had to be a line. The dragon ran a hand over his face. How did mortals deal with such inconvenience? For the second time Sablemane found himself wishing he had his own little errand-runner, as he’d had in Blade’s Edge Mountains, to do such menial tasks for him.
No matter. Soon he would have the flasks, as well as the rest of the ingredients, and after mixing they would be ready for combustion. Sablemane crossed his arms. He’d have to locate Lion’s Landing in Krasarang – which would not be too hard – and calculate the best time to strike. The Alliance ants would never see what hit them.
“ - No, I think he’s an idiot. We helped the assault on General Bloodhilt, and he still thinks we need to do more for him?”
Sablemane glanced over. A night elf stood near the merchant cart next to the alchemical one, her hands full with dark leather. A draenei watched her, and shrugged.
“I am thinking he is just being interested in -”
“I don’t really care. I think the dragon’s just testing us for something.”
Dragon. Sablemane narrowed his eyes. He wasn’t aware of any other dragons on Pandaria but one.
The two women started walking passed him – Sablemane put up his arm to block their way. The elf shot him a vicious glare.
“Pardon me, ladies,” the elder dragon drawled. “Who were you were talking about just then?”
“The Black Prince,” the draenei piped. The elf continued to glare at him.
Ah – some of Wrathion’s “champions” -… pawns, more like. Sablemane almost smiled. His little brother had many, both Horde and Alliance at his disposal, and here were two.
The context of their snippet of conversation he’d heard intrigued him. An assault on a general? What could the little whelp want with the death of a general?
“Who is this ‘General Bloodhilt?’”
“He was the Horde commander in Krasarang.” The elf said. She glared at his arm, which was still blocking the duo’s way, and the dragon dropped it slowly, irritated at the attitude but not wanting to anger away his chance at such curious information.
“A Horde commander.” He repeated. His eyes flickered over to a group of Horde gathered, their backs hunched hungrily, near one of the food stalls.
Surely the little whelp wouldn’t have asked his Horde champions to kill their own leader.
He wondered if his Horde champions knew what he’d asked of his Alliance ones.
The dragon smiled slow. Oh, this was excellent.
Sablemane exited the line to the alchemy merchant. This was much more important. If he could start dismantling Wrathion’s own schemes -
He smiled again, trying his very best to not look so rude. Mortals were affected easily by charm, weren’t they?
“I’m curious – I would love hearing what else the little Black Prince has asked of you.”
Wrathion wasn’t eating.
Anduin sat hunched on the chair he’d pulled up to the bedside, his head in his hands.
The prince was exhausted; the grey circles underneath his eyes had become a chalky black, and his hair was un-brushed and wild. His shoulders drooped low.
He peered through the cracks of his fingers. Wrathion lay shaking in front of him – still shaking on the third, nearing fourth, day.
The dragon looked worse than he had before. Wrathion’s skin was ashen, his eyes sunken into his face, the delicate veins underneath the skin just visible. His face was twisted into a tired grimace; he appeared nearly half-dead.
And he wasn’t eating.
Anduin had tried to force him to eat something just a moment ago -… but the Black Prince had refused to hold it down, only choking it back out and baring his teeth, hardly conscious, when the blond had tried again.
The prince put the back of his hand against Wrathion’s face, then, and felt the cold skin there. The cinderbloom, Warm Sun concoction hadn’t worked. Nothing was, still.
And now that Wrathion wasn’t eating, the prince was well aware that it would not take long for the last vestiges of the dragon’s energy to drain-
And then Wrathion was going to die if Anduin didn’t get help.
He put his face in his hands again and took a deep, calming breath.
Anduin had had enough.
He was done trying to fool himself into thinking he could do this on his own – he’d healed the cuts and gashes, set the broken bones, scrubbed away the blood… but this disease, this infection – whatever it was – was beyond his control and skill.
And he wasn’t going to allow Wrathion to die because of hislack of experience.
Anduin dropped his hands from his face, swept back his ungroomed hair, then looked back at Left. She still stood, unmoving, against the door, as still as a Quilen guardian.
“I can’t do this.”
The prince sounded so defeated, but he didn’t care. He needed for Left to understand. She needed to know. She needed to realize that he needed to ask for help, that someone had to know Wrathion was here, in an Alliance fort, and was probably dying.
The orc glanced at him. Even she looked tired, her blue eyes grim.
She didn’t say anything for a moment. Her gaze flickered over to her shaking Prince, then to Anduin again, slowly, calculatingly.
“I can see,” Left grumbled, finally.
Anduin stood up, grabbing his cane and turning to face her, even though his body protested and quivered once, especially his right leg. Every bit of him was begging him to just lay down, to go to sleep for a very long time, to drop the heavy worry that slugged down at his tired shoulders… but he pushed this selfish weakness aside and straightened up his spine, and looked at Left hard with the stern expression that nearly resembled his father’s. “Good. Then you agree I need to find someone who knows what’s wrong with him.”
His voice was a strict snap. While diplomacy and peace were part of Anduin’s strengths, the prince knew when he was right, and when to argue. And if Left was going to keep being wary about finding outside help -… well, Anduin was going to convince her otherwise. Wrathion’s life was on the line, and he was in no mood to play himself down.
Besides – the tired frustration he’d had the day and a half before, only strengthened by his continued exhaustion, was fueling his attitude. It was a good thing, for once.
“I didn’t say-”
“Left. He’s dying. And I can’t help him. I don’t even know what’s… what’s wrong with him!”
“You’re risking giving His Majesty away if you go running off blabbing your mouth as you ask for help, and ruining all the trust he carefully built with the Horde -”
“What does that matter if he’s dead, Left?” Anduin’s voice rose. He looked back at Wrathion, and his frustration became a bitter sort of worry, before he looked back at the orc.
Left’s grip on the crossbow tightened. Anduin stared hard at her. Despite the open windows bringing in warm, briny air from the briskness outside, the atmosphere in the room grew heavy as the orc and human stared each other down for a long, tense moment.
Finally, Left broke eye contact. Again her gaze slid behind Anduin to the Prince.
She relaxed her grip. “Who did you have in mind to ask, then, prince?” Left said, her voice forced and terse.
Anduin fell back on the chair again, sideways in the seat. His tired body thanked him. The glowering defiance slid from his tense shoulders, and he slouched; he’d managed, at the very least, to convince her to open up to the idea of help.
He tapped the end of his cane idly on the floor. Anduin did not look at her.
“I’m not sure,” the prince said, being honest, the stern tone no longer evident in his words. He’d been mulling over who he might go to as he worked at trying to get Wrathion healthy again, but not many had come to mind. Anduin himself had learned nearly all of the diseases Azeroth had to offer, from the common flu to the plague, during his training, but he obviously knew nothing like what was happening to Wrathion.
And if Anduin didn’t know it – what other Alliance, or even Horde healer would?
He’d come to the conclusion it must have been something unheard of from Pandaria… or something draconic, neither of which Anduin had any knowledge on.
“That doesn’t help persuade me,” Left grumbled. Anduin turned his head back up to look at her. He stopped tapping his cane.
“It has to be someone that knows more than both the Alliance or the Horde. I don’t think anyone here would know what’s wrong with Wrathion.” Left squinted at him. He hesitated for a moment. He did have one vague idea of who to ask, but even then, he wasn’t sure if they would know.
But if they did…
“There’s Chi-ji, the Red Crane,” Anduin said. “I trained at his Temple, farther down along the coast – before the Sha attacked,” he added. Briefly the image of the Celestial’s limp body hanging above the ceiling as the Sha of Despair rose from the floor, its mouth and talons sharp and dripping, came to the prince’s mind; he shook it out with a shake of his head. “He’s the Spirit of -”
“Hope. I know,” Left interrupted. “What would this Celestial know about sickness?”
“If anyone would know, it’s Chi-ji. The Crane Wind Order studies healing and meditation… though I decided not to try their sparring exercises.” He looked away from her again. The orc laughed once, more of a bark than an actual chuckle. Anduin smiled tiredly.
He tapped his cane twice. “I know you’re worried about Wrathion’s… schemes,” Anduin said. “But Chi-ji’s neutral. He won’t care that the Black Prince is in an Alliance fort.” His eyes rose to Left. “And he’s only an hour’s ride away. If anyone knows what’s wrong, it would be Chi-ji.”
At least Anduin hoped.
“I don’t want Wrathion to die, Left. And I don’t think you do either.”
Left stared at him. She hesitated -… but after a slim moment, the orc nodded with a grumble. “Fine. Go.”
Anduin smiled brightly, his eyes still tired, as she moved out of the way of the door and gestured to it with her crossbow. “I’ll stay with His Majesty. Be quick about it. And don’t get kidnapped, or hurt. We don’t have time for that.”
The prince stood. “Don’t worry,” he said, then tapped at his belt, indicating where his throwing knives were. Out of habit, he grabbed his satchel, though it was empty. “I’ll be back soon,” Anduin assured. Left grunted.
Anduin glanced back at Wrathion before he left. The dragon was still comatose, smoke curling from the side of his mouth with each shuddering breath he took. If all went well, Anduin would return with some cure, and the Black Prince would be back on his feet again.
Anduin could not leave fast enough.
Anduin landed his gryphon just outside the Temple of the Red Crane in front of its center statue.
The day was late, and the air was hot, and so humid it seemed to be palpable; the prince’s bangs stuck wet to his forehead, and his neck was slick with droplets. Far above in the ancient canopy, thick enough it blocked the sinking sun, was the buzz of hidden insects and the screams and calls of the Wild’s great birds.
And, nestled in this forgotten wilderness, was the Temple. It loomed ahead of Anduin, an ancient building of grey and crimson stone, elegant in its chiseled, decorative architecture and flanked by two other smaller, round gazebos. Vines as thick as Anduin’s arm crawled along the temple’s pillars, and great patches of living leaves coiled down from the roof, the bannisters, the archways, as if the wild was not quite letting go of the sanctuary just yet.
Anduin smiled. It was just as he remembered. The mysterious beauty of the place, its quiet sense of calm in this rugged, ancient jungle… it was meditative already just being in its presence again, surrounded by nothing by the wilds.
Monks and other disciples looked up as Anduin slid from the gryphon. He smiled at them. They smiled back. Many of them seemed to recognize him, judging by their gentle bows and nods of respect, as he made his way to the steps of the Temple.
One of the pandaren disciples greeted him at the steps with a low bow. Anduin bowed back, equally as low. From farther away, intermingling with the calls of the birds above, were the sounds of sparring from Chi-ji’s other disciples.
“Prince Anduin. Welcome again to the Temple of the Red Crane. We are honored by your presence.”
Anduin smiled, awkward with the praise, but dipped his head in gratitude at the welcome. “Thank you.”
The pandaren smiled back warmly. “We have heard it was you we have to thank for helping save the Temple from the Horde.”
“Oh - not just me. My father, Tyrande, and her rangers were the ones who saved it… I simply warned him not to fight on the Temple’s soil. The sha-infestation did too much damage to this place already. I couldn’t allow it to get worse.”
The disciple laughed and clasped his great paw upon the prince’s shoulder. “Yes, we have much to thank you for, then.” The pandaren dropped his hand. “But enough talk; I see I am embarrassing you! What can we help you with, my friend? You look very tired.”
The prince brushed back his bangs, still stuck to his forehead from the humidity. He took a steadying breath. “I need to speak to Chi-ji,” Anduin said. “My friend is -… is very sick.”
The cheer from the pandaren’s face fell. The disciple grew worried. “I see. Grave news indeed. Come. I will lead you to the Red Crane.” He gestured to one of the monks to the side watching. “Li, care for his animal.”
Anduin handed over the reins as the female pandaren approached. He smiled at her appreciatively, then followed the male pandaren up the stairs.
The large vaulted archway hovered high above him; the columns flanked out spaciously to his sides. His cane tapping against the stone was loud among the peace. He saw, looking around, that the damage done from the Sha of Despair’s invasion had been mostly patched - the fissures, cracks, and ink-black scorch smoke that had bled against the stone had all be evaporated. They passed a handful of monks smoothing out a large crack still in one of the columns, though even then their work was nearly complete. Anduin admired their dutifulness. Soon, the Temple would look as if no invasion, Sha or Horde, had taken place there at all.
The pandaren led him inside the temple itself, then. White and red banners emblazoned with the calligraphic symbol of the Red Crane lined the walls in-between the smaller columns, whose tops curved out into elegant crane heads. Hanging stone lanterns as big as Anduin hung on the far sides of the room, casting a white, gentle glow among the gray- and red-stone.
It was so overwhelmingly peaceful Anduin, for a fleeting, instinctive moment, had the idea to simply kneel and meditate or pray right in the center of the room, as he had done before when he had trained here under Chi-ji, for however brief a time it had been.
He shook his head and followed the pandaren still. Maybe another time – when someone’s life wasn’t ebbing away with every minute Anduin was gone.
They went down the stairs, deep under the temple now, then another. More of the stone lanterns with their white fire lit the way.
The pandaren stopped at the top of the last flight of steps, going down deeper still into the temple, and turned to the prince.
“Chi-ji awaits, my friend. May you find the counsel you seek.” The disciple bowed.
Anduin bowed to him again. “Thank you.”
The prince turned, and made his way down. He took another meditative breath, as he had outside, as he descended. Why did his chest constrict?
But he knew why. He was not nervous to meet Chi-ji again – indeed he was very delighted to be visiting the Red Crane again, though wished it was under different circumstances – but nervous that Chi-ji would not know how to aid him.
Anduin blinked once, hard. No. Chi-ji must know something.
And if not, the prince would find someone who did. He would not be giving up on the Black Prince so easily.
He looked up. Ahead, at the bottom of the stairs, was a large, circular room, encircled by crane statues and teal-tinted columns.
In the center stood Chi-ji.
The great Crane shone with a fiery, ebbing glow; wisps of red and yellow and white twirled about his very form and twisted into the air, as graceful as a dancer’s ribbons. The white of his feathers was as shiny as a pearl’s, and his crest, the tips of his wings, and fanned tail was as red as a flame. Crimson, circular designs fleetingly appeared along his delicate wings and neck, only to disappear in a hearbeat’s rhythm. His very aura radiated a sense of calm.
Anduin made it to the bottom of the stairs. Chi-ji regarded him kindly.
The Red Crane bowed his crested head, then. “Greetings, young prince. We meet again at last.” His voice echoed pleasantly in on itself. “You honor me with your visit.”
Anduin bent his head down low. The calm Chi-ji radiated effected the prince instantly; like the Light itself, it billowed around him, warm and comforting, brushing away the heaviness from his shoulders and eyes, his frustration and worry.
“Thank you for seeing me, Chi-ji,” Anduin said, straightening up again.
“There is no reason for thanks, young prince,” the Red Crane said, his words warm. “You are always welcome in my Temple, and in my presence – your light is a beacon to us all, and it is you who has saved this sacred place not once, but twice.” Chi-ji smiled. “I was very pleased with your Father’s nature during the Horde takeover of the Temple.”
Anduin smiled. “I’m glad. He’s been doing much better with his temper.” Varian had spoken to Anduin about his brief talk with Chi-ji, but not in much detail.
“But I see you have not come to me to speak of your father, young prince. You are worried.” The Red Crane tilted his head. “There is doubt and despair in your heart. What troubles you, to have put such a burden upon yourself?”
Chi-ji was that quick to know? Anduin’s eyes flickered downward. Did he – really seem that troubled?
Anduin rose his eyes again. Chi-ji watched him, patient. His red glow flickered against Anduin’s pale face.
“The Black Prince Wrathion – the dragon from the Veiled Stair - was attacked,” Anduin started, his voice slow, but with a waver to his words. “He was hurt badly. I did everything I could, but he’s – there’s something wrong with him that I can’t heal.” He lowered his eyes again. The calm ebbed around him, comforting him, but even then he felt as if his words were shielding him, creating a barrier of worry, pushing the peace away like oil against water. “He’s so cold he shakes constantly. He’s hardly conscious. He won’t eat. I thought it was an infection, but -” he lifted his eyes to the crane again. “But I treated treated all of his wounds. I think he’s going to die if I don’t get him help.” For a mere moment, his voice broke – but Anduin was quick to compose himself. He swallowed hard, and tried to focus on the calm aura.
The Red Crane was silent for a moment. Anduin watched him. Surely Chi-ji must have… some idea… some vain hope for Wrathion’s health…
“I know of the Black Prince. He, too, honored my Temple with a visit of his own. I am troubled myself by news of his misfortune.”
Anduin furrowed his brows. He hadn’t known that.
“I do not know what ails the son of the Earthwarder,” Chi-ji said after another moment of silence.
Anduin’s heart sank.
That was it – there went the only idea Anduin had. He swallowed hard.
He began to bow his head again – he felt almost numb - but Chi-ji spoke once more.
“But I may know someone who does.”
Anduin looked back up sharply. His shield of worry began to give way to the aura of peace again.
Chi-ji nodded. “One of his own kind, not long ago, came to me seeking my guidance. I may not know what troubles the young Prince, but perhaps one of his own does.”
Anduin stared at him.
“One of his own kind?” He repeated. His mind drifted to Sabellian. “A dragon, you mean?”
“Yes. She is not of the Black, but she is very kind. I am sure she would offer aid when asked.”
Anduin considered, quiet. It wasn’t a black dragon - … which was good, he supposed. It was a red, a green, a bronze or blue. The prince frowned.
Anduin knew that Wrathion hated the Reds, and that the Reds hated him. He didn’t quite know what the Black Prince’s opinions were of the green, bronze, or blue Flights, nor what those Flights thought of him. Surely not all dragons had the same opinions as one another…
But if this dragon was a Red, or another Flight that cared ill for the Black Prince, would they even help? Would asking them for help only make it worse, as Anduin gave away Wrathion’s position to yet another enemy?
… Yet Anduin had little choice; he couldn’t allow the risk of the dragon Chi-ji spoke of being an enemy outweigh the enormous benefit of the dragon saving Wrathion. After all, Chi-ji had said that this dragon, whoever she was, was kind and gracious. Surely he would not recommend someone who would endanger the Black Prince.
“Do you know where she is, now?” Anduin asked.
“She left for the Jade Forest to seek Yu’lon’s wisdom,” Chi-ji answered. “I would search there, first, young prince.”
Anduin smiled wide. The heaviness shimmering around him vanished once again. “Thank you,” he said, the gratitude thick in his voice.
Chi-ji bowed his head. “I sense your great care and loyalty for the child of the Worldbreaker… but do not despair in his pain. There is always hope.”
Anduin nodded, then bowed low; he understood. “Thank you, again, Chi-ji. I’ll search for the dragon you spoke of.”
“Young prince.” Anduin had begun to turn to leave – he swiveled back around, leaning on his cane. The Red Crane’s voice was almost… hesitant.
“I find myself wishing to share what I saw in the heart of the Black Prince during his visit,” the celestial began. He paused thought fully, then continued. “I have never seen an individual so unsure of Hope, and so full of doubt and despair. My blessing was needed upon his shoulders.”
Anduin frowned. Wrathion? Doubting himself? Despairing? The overconfident, grinning face of the dragon across their pandaren chess game appeared in the prince’s mind eye; his grand talks of a united world; the coy side-glances.
Anduin had never thought that Wrathion, of all people, was one full of doubt in himself, or to despair.
“He was?” Anduin murmured, disbelieving, mostly to himself. He lowered his eyes, skimmed the crane-etched floor, and deepened his frown.
“I am glad you are by his side, then, young prince – you, whose hope is greatest.” Anduin looked back up. Chi-ji regarded him silently for a moment.
“Be mindful to remind the Black Prince of the nature of Hope, Anduin Wrynn. Show him it is actions that make the soul, and not the actions of its lineage that decides its fate.”
“I will.” Anduin paused. “… Why are you telling me this?”
“At our weakest, we may give in to our worst doubts and fears,” Chi-ji said. “Even I did, when the Sha of Despair attacked this Temple – and you were the one to help cleanse me.” The Crane looked at Anduin pointedly. “I wish not for the same to happen to the young prince.”
Anduin’s frown deepened. Was he… referencing the -?…
The prince nodded. Maybe Chi-ji was simply being cautious, and giving advice. “I’ll be sure to remind him, Master Crane,” Anduin said. This was all very … disconcerting. Chi-ji nodded.
“Thank you again for your advice. I need to hurry back,” Anduin said. “Wrathion’s only going to get worse while I’m away.” He bowed, then straightened.
“Peace be with you, Anduin Wrynn,” Chi-ji said behind him, as the prince left the Temple and took his gryphon at a hard flight back to the fort.
Sablemane sloshed around the remainder of his drink, idly watching the brew swirl in the wooden cup. Sitting across from him, their eyes watching the dragon with vague disbelief or interest, was a group of Horde heroes. It was the tauren, who was scrunched in between, awkward in his size, who had spoken. His ears were flat against his skull.
“I’m afraid it’s very true,” Sablemane said, lifting his eyes to focus back on the Sunwalker. Sitting beside the tauren was a troll druid who wore her hair in long braids against a headband and a blood elf mage with bright red hair, who leaned his head against his propped up hand. Sablemane had begun talking simply talking to the troll, first, but once the nature of his conversation was overheard, others had slunk in and gathered to hear.
Mortals so did love gossip.
The tauren sunwalker shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Wrathion was very supportive of the Horde when I spoke to him,” he mumbled. The other champions nodded their agreement, or else just continued to stare at the dragon with wary eyes.
Sablemane had to force back the twitch of a grin that threatened to rise up his face. Oh, this was too good. How had his little brother not seen the dangers of the game he was playing?
Or perhaps he had – perhaps he’d been cautious. Certainly the Horde heroes in front of him in this small pandaren inn in the Jade Forest didn’t believe Sablemane at first when he’d told them it was Wrathion’s idea to kill their general in Krasarang.
They had no idea Wrathion was fooling them all! The trusted him so blindly!
But they would not be trusting him very soon, Sablemane thought. Oh, no, Wrathion’s careful building-up of trust in his heroes – saying he supported one faction then turning his back to wish for the best for another – was soon to be broken by mere words from Sablemane’s mouth.
And then where would the little Black Prince be, without his strong champions, who would soon, no doubt, begin to lose their already-tenuous trust in him?
Never doubt the ties of loyalty to one’s faction, especially a faction such as the Horde and the Alliance – break that, and one would know anger.
And once Sablemane’s work of manipulation here was done, he would continue with his first course of action: the sleeping potions. He had found flasks after finishing his conversation with the night elf and draenei, as well as the rest of his ingredients, and even as he spoke the mixtures brewed and boiled and simmered, their properties transforming into a powerful elixir stronger than any other sleeping draught he’d ever made.
And once Lion’s Landing was asleep, Sablemane could simply walk in and grab the whelp… and maybe throw the little blond prince through a wall for good measure. His shoulder still hurt from the crossbow.
“Ya’ could be lyin’,” the troll pointed out, eyeing him. The blood elf raised his thin brows in agreement with the druid. Sablemane readjusted his hood, which cloaked the front half of his face.
“Mm. I am a human; I could be lying to you Horde, couldn’t I? You have me there.” He leaned forward a bit in his seat. “But I am… unaffiliated.” He sounded bored. “I’m merely interested in spreading the truth to such…” He struggled for the right words. Charm, he reminded himself. Mortals liked to be charmed. “Brave heroes like yourselves.”
The tauren put up a heavy hand. “So you are saying the Black Prince lies about his support of the Horde?”
Sablemane rolled his eyes. “Let’s think, tauren: do you think he would have asked General Bloodhilt to be killed if he did?” He scoffed. What about it didn’t these Horde understand? “He is playing both factions. He asked you to kill that dwarf Twinbraids while he asked the Alliance to kill the orc… to gain trust from you in him. Understand?”
He stuck his thumb over his shoulder, indicating a worgen hunter with a large turtle by his side talking to a human woman with black hair, whose paladin armor was blue and gold, at another table. “Ask them. See if I’m lying. See how trustworthy your Black Prince is, now.” He finished his drink and sat back in his seat again.
Almost as an afterthought, he added: “And, oh – do remember to ask yourselves that if he’s lied to you about something like this, if he’s lied about anything else, hm?”
Sablemane smiled, then. At his words the Horde looked annoyed, uncomfortable, or angry.
Here soon they would be talking to other friends, other acquaintances, complaining or gossiping about the Black Prince’s lies.
And by word of mouth Wrathion’s support would crumble.
This was too easy.
“You want us to track down a dragon.”
Amber Kearnen, professional sniper of the SI:7, stared Anduin down. Her right eye was covered with a bright green scope, but even still Anduin could see the disbelief in her look.
He nodded. “Yes. She should be in the Jade Forest.” The prince’s tone was even, but quiet. He had just come back from the Temple of the Red Crane, and after putting away his gryphon, had sought out the SI:7 team that had once sought out him.
“Why do you need to find a dragon?” Amber asked. She crossed her arms. Behind her Sully sat at a workbench, a large rocket launcher splayed out in front of him, its pieces bent and fried from some sort of malfunction. His thick but deft fingers played about with its gears.
Anduin had anticipated the question. He’d tried to find a good way to answer it on the way back from the Temple of the Red Crane, but no convincing lie had come to him.
So he decided to be honest – or at least, as honest as he could without breaking the first promise he’d made to Left in not letting anyone know Wrathion was here, in Lion’s Landing.
Besides – the SI:7 team deserved that much from him, he concluded. They’d dragged their knees through a wild, new continent looking for him, and he’d tricked them with a wave of shadow magic and disappeared into the mists once again to search for the Vale.
Amber was squinting at him, still. Anduin chanced a quick look around. They were outside on the rise near the fort, underneath a heavy cloth tent. It was quickly becoming dusk, but the skirmishes that had been at the mines today have moved closed and closer to Lion’s Landing; the air was loud with the sound of battle, and many soldiers or heroes had returned as of yet, save for a couple who were seeking medical aid. From the corner of his eye Anduin noted Mishka tending to a gnome warlock -… but around the tent, it was only the prince, Amber, and Sully, with no one to overhear.
He dropped his eyes, went over his words carefully, then lifted his head to stare at Amber right in the face, his expression earnest, but serious. “Someone’s sick with an illness I can’t cure. I think they’re… going to die if they don’t get help.” His eyes flickered to Sully before they rested on Amber again. “The dragon in the Jade Forest might know how to heal them.”
“Who’s sick?” Amber asked without hesitating, with a slight tone of suspicion.
Anduin bit the inside of his cheek.
“I can’t tell you.”
He almost winced. He sounded like a child who’d pinky-swore – especially with the admonished look Amber gave him.
“Listen, Prince Anduin, I -”
Sully looked up from his gun. “S’ the sickness contagious, lad?”
Anduin looked at him. He shrugged. “I’m not sure. It could be.” The prince paused, then; a convincing idea may have just presented itself. Anduin continued, more confidently, more convincingly.“But if it is, Lion’s Landing would be comatose within only a couple of days, starting with me… and I’m not sure if my father would be very happy about that,” he added, for effect.
“I’m not keen to bein’ sick,” the dwarf said warily. He let go of the gears, where they rattled against the small workbench. “Comatose, eh?” Anduin nodded.
Sully glanced back at Amber. “The lad seems honest ta’ me, Amber. Lookit ‘im! Looks ready to drop, himself.” He pointed at Anduin and gestured to the prince’s face. Anduin leaned back a bit, his cane sinking into the sand. “All those baggy wrinkles under ‘is eyes. Eugh.”
“Sully, he just looks tired.”
“Precisely! Ye did say ‘comatose,’ didn’t ye, lad? All tired an’ such?”
“… Yes.” The prince glanced between the two agents. He was honestly surprised Sully wasn’t outright hostile to him; it had been the dwarf who Anduin had mind controlled in order to get away.
But here Sully was, backing him up. Anduin was glad for it, but at the same time… confused.
Amber looked at Sully, then at Anduin. Anduin looked back at her and said nothing. She was inspecting him, her visible eye raking slowly across every inch of his face, taking in the deep circles Sully had pointed out, as well as his sagging shoulders, and his general unkempt appearance.
“Mhm. So. It could be contagious, huh?” Amber said. She still sounded unsure. Anduin nodded. The SI:7 agent tapped her fingers against her crossed forearms as she looked away from the prince and down below the rise, where the other tents were. Anduin followed her look. Marshal Troteman was leaned over a map in the gear supplier’s tent; his back was to them. It was the Marshal that Amber was eyeing.
“Listen, kid, I don’t really believe you.” Anduin went to open his mouth but Amber was quick to keep speaking. “But, I’m tired of Troteman making us hang out along this beach. The SI:7 aren’t soldiers, we’re scouts and spies. Except Sully. I’m not really sure what Sully is.”
Amber ignored the dwarf, then uncrossed her arms and looked at Anduin again. “You seem worried for -… whoever it is,” Amber said. “That I genuinely believe.”
Anduin smiled tentatively at her.
“I guess Troteman won’t miss us for a couple days.” She shifted the silver sniper rifle into a different position slung across her back. “And if the Prince himself wants us to find a dragon? Then fine. As long as it gets me off of this damn beach,” she hadded with a mumble.
“Thas’ the spirit, Amber!”
The SI:7 agent rolled her eyes at Sully. Anduin’s tentative smile had become full-fledged. They were going to go look!
“Alright, Prince Anduin. So we’ll go - on your royal mission. You are the Prince. But we need more information that just ‘a dragon in the Jade Forest.’”
Anduin paused. Oh – he was regretting not asking Chi-ji more about the dragon who’d spoken to him… but the talk about Wrathion with the Red Crane had flustered him. The prince shifted his weight once and cleared his throat.
“She might be at the Temple of the Jade Serpent. She was visiting Yu’lon.”
“Okay. What else?”
Amber ran a hand over her face.
“You did find me without much leads,” Anduin countered before the agent could say something. Amber scoffed.
“Then you ran away and got yourself captured by the Horde,” the sniper responded, gruff. Anduin had no argument for that.
Amber sighed loud through her nose. “No hard feelings, kid. But I guess you’re right. We did find you.” With a grumble, she added: “How hard could it be to find a huge lizard, anyway?”
“Thank you,” Anduin said, smiling wide again. “You don’t know how much this means.” He’d be worried they would turn him down – after all, Anduin had made their lives much more complicated during the first month on Pandaria – but here Amber was, accepting. Anduin tried not to think about how it seemed it was just because she wanted to get away from Krasarang.
“Well, we might end up saving Lion’s Landing from a terrible disease, huh?” Amber said with a sly smile, belying her sarcasm. “It’s only our duty to find something to help protect our Alliance, Prince.”
“I do love a good dragon hunt!” Sully piped. Anduin glanced over at him as the dwarf hopped off of the work bench. The prince blinked, surprised; the gun that had moments before been in disrepair was now finished in Sully’s hand. Had the dwarf fixed it that fast? “Granted I’ve never been on one meself, but I’m sure I’d like one, eh?”
“Oh – don’t hurt her,” Anduin said quickly, worried at the change of conversation. Sully laughed and hoisted the gun across his back.
“No worries, Prince Anduin. A play on words, s’ all. I won’t split even a wee scale. Ya’ have me promise.”
“Unless she fights back,” Amber noted. She was checking the ammunition in her rifle and, looking satisfied, she shut the barrel closed with a clack. “Let’s go, Sully, before Troteman comes sniffing for us. I’ll tell Mishka; you get supplies from the barracks.” She looked back at Anduin. “We’ll find your dragon. And Sully’s right – sick or not, you do look tired. Get some sleep.”
Before the prince had time to thank her again, she turned and jumped from the rise. Startled, he looked over, but the SI:7 agent had landed on her feet and was already starting off to where Anduin had seen Mishka only moments before.
“Good thing ya’ gave her somethin’ ta do. Poor Amber was ‘bought ready to tear every hair from her head if she kept still fer’ another moment.” Sully was putting some of the leftover gears from the workbench into his leather belt. “Same as me!” He laughed. “Stayin’ on a beach is no place fer’ the SI:7. An’ don’t let her fool ye’, I’m an agent – in me own way.” The dwarf winked. Anduin smiled at him.
The prince paused. He bit his lip, opened his mouth, then closed it again.
Finally, he forced himself to say the words that had failed him. “Sully – what happened in the Jade Forest – I’m sorry. What I did was wrong. I should have -”
“Oh, don’t worry yerself over that,” Sully interrupted with a dismissive wave of his hand. “It was kinda’ funny, lookin’ back on it.”
Anduin stared at him. His mouth was somewhat agape.
“But I – I controlled your mind! I forced -”
“An’ ye helped open the Vale rather than havin’ yer hide dragged back to Stormwind. I think of it as a win!”
Anduin shifted again, awkwardly. He was at a loss for words. This had went a lot differently than he’d thought it would.
“Well – uhm -”
Sully pat the prince’s arm. “Really, lad. S’ all right. Ye’ can let it go.” He smiled brightly.
Anduin smiled back, a bit more nervously than the dwarf, and nodded.
“Now! Amber will skin my hide if I don’t get those supplies. Wish us luck, lad!”
The dwarf started off at a gait that seemed too quick for his smaller legs. Anduin watched him go. The last remaining tension began to vanish from his aching body, and he allowed himself a full, but tired, smile.
Things were looking better. Chi-ji had pointed him in the direction of a cure, and the SI:7 was on their way to finding it.
Anduin closed his eyes, took a deep breath of the fresh air, and focused for a brief moment, centering himself, before turning on his good heel and making his way back int othe fort. The sun was setting, now. He may have found some help for Wrathion, but that didn’t mean the dragon still didn’t need care at the present time. The prince rolled his shoulders back. After checking up on Wrathion, maybe he’d take a quick nap; he hardly had enough energy to cast a healing spell right now. Then he would settle in for a long bought of Light healing, afterwards.
At least the situation was turning much more hopeful, he thought.
Anduin turned to his bedroom door after the long walk down the hallway.
“Left, I’m back! I have some good news.”
She didn’t answer. Anduin frowned. That was odd. She should have at least opened the door.
He reached out and tried to the knob – to his surprise, it turned with a squeak.
Maybe she’d just left it open, knowing he’d be back.
He opened the door -
Left was slammed back into wall to the side; impact marks cracked up along the stone. She sat hunched in on herself, her head hanging, her long ponytail draped limply across her shoulders, and from his angle Anduin spotted a dark green bruise along the side of her shaved head.
And right in front of Anduin, his back to the blond prince as he looked out of the window, was Wrathion.
“Wrathion?” Anduin started, confused. He glanced at the bodyguard, then at the Black Prince again. The dragon did not seem to hear him, not at first; he didn’t even move. His cast right arm hung loose at his side, while his left elbow leaned into the window sill. The open breeze ruffled his dark, wavy hair.
How was – how was he suddenly standing? Wrathion hadn’t eaten, had no energy – he could hardly move or speak when Anduin had left!
“Wrathion,” Anduin repeated, his heart slowly beginning to quicken. This had quickly become worrisome, and unnerving, reinforced by the fact that Left still hadn’t moved. Something was very, very wrong. For a brief moment Anduin wondered if Sabellian was here, hiding – but a quick look around said otherwise. The prince took a steadying breath and cast his eyes again on the Black Prince.
“… Are you alright?” Anduin asked, as he inched his way into the room and closed the door behind him with his heel.
The click of the door made Wrathion finally move - his shoulders tensed.
The dragon turned his head, and Anduin felt his heart rise above his skin.
Wrathion’s eyes weren’t red – they were white, aglow and giving off a sheen of icy, ethereal blue.
Anduin’s grasp on his cane tightened. Those were Sha eyes.
“Anduin Wrynn,” Wrathion drawled, and he stood straight from his hunch across the window sill to face the blond prince. Anduin found himself backing up once. “I was just talking about you.” His voice was a near-sigh, like he was too tired to speak, or too sad.
“To who?” Anduin asked, as an afterthought.
His mind was racing. How had – how had Wrathion come under the influence of the Sha? The prince looked the dragon over quickly. The Sha did affect quickly, but in the span of the two hours Anduin had been gone? It was -
Chi’ji’s voice came back to him.
At our weakest, we may give in to our worst doubts and fears.
He stared at Wrathion. His ashen skin, the smoke curling from his mouth – Anduin had assumed it’d just been from the sickness, that the smoke wasn’t Sha smoke, but his usual draconic one.
Just make it stop; Wrathion’s desperate look.
Had Wrathion been talking about his illness, his injuries - … or this? Had he realized what was feeding off of his misery, his despair, but been unable to stay awake, to say anything, or had been strong enough to brush it aside?
Anduin’s head was spinning. He’d made a very terrible mistake. He’d only seen the disease – not what had been simmering underneath it!
Wrathion didn’t answer his question. His white eyes were trained on Anduin, his gaze lidded. The dragon’s shoulders began to droop.
“What? Have you come back with more of those little potions to shove down my throat?” Wrathion asked. He lifted off fully from the wall, swayed once, and continued to stare. His arms still hung loose at his sides. “I guess those won’t work either, hm?” He added. “I’m just going to die.”
“You’re not going to die,” Anduin said, interrupting quickly. He walked a bit closer; Wrathion tilted his head, reminding Anduin of a raptor he’d seen by the side of a hunter champion before. “Someone’s going to come help -”
“I nearly died,” Wrathion said. He seemed to not have heard Anduin. “Sabellian could have easily killed me.” His hands flexed. Anduin glanced down at them – and his mouth went dry. Wrathion had lost his gauntlets in the cave, and so his hands were not gloved… and so Anduin could easily see the tips of the dragon’s fingers curling into white and black claws, sharp and demonic. “I was that weak. And now some sickness is killing me.” Smoke – not draconic, Anduin realized that now, but smoke encircled with the grey-blue of the Sha – drooled from the side of the dragon’s mouth.
“But he didn’t,” Anduin said. The sha that had overtaken Wrathion was easy to spot; it was not Anger, or Hate, or Fear. It was Despair.
I have never seen an individual so unsure of Hope, and so full of doubt and despair.
“Wrathion, you’re not weak,” Anduin continued. He walked a step closer. “You’re very strong. You were just caught off guard.” His voice was soothing, as if he was speaking to a cornered animal. If he could muster enough energy to charge up a cleansing spell like the ones he’d performed during the invasion at the Temple of the Red Crane, if he had the right aim -
“Caught off guard,” Wrathion repeated, murmuring to himself, with a bitterness. “Caught off guard. How absurd. How idiotic. Caught off guard.” His eyes began to unfocus, and the unnatural glow of the white strengthened. Anduin saw, from the corner of his eyes, the claws begin to lengthen at Wrathion’s hands.
This wasn’t going well.
“I have a brother. Did you know that, Anduin? A long lost brother. I did not even think to look in Outland. And now he almost killed me - and made me sick - and I’m dying. From a sickness. A sickness! Ridiculous! Where’s the heroism in that?” He swayed again. He sounded strangely hysterical but exhausted and depressed all at the same time. “I’m the Black Prince. I’m not supposed to get caught off guard. But I did. I didn’t see him coming, did I? I’m not a very good Prince, Anduin Wrynn.”
“Everyone makes mistakes,” Anduin interrupted, before Wrathion could start rambling again. “But you’ll be cured -”
“No. NO. I do not make mistakes! I am not supposed to make mistakes!” His left hand lifted and dug into his hair, his claws raking against his scalp and quickly drawing blood, where it dripped down across his white shirt. Anduin swallowed. His heart was hammering. Wrathion was going to hurt himself more if the prince didn’t drudge up enough energy soon.
He tried to focus on the Light, and it came to him quickly – but summoning the Light and controlling it were two very different things. It took energy and concentration to manipulate the Light into what the user wanted – in Anduin’s case, a purging spell – but the prince had neither energy nor concentration from his lack of sleep.
“But I did make a mistake. And my home -” Wrathion groaned. “-My Tavern is gone. And Right is dead. And I was beaten down like a – like a dog! And you! You nearly died. And I am dying. How am I to fight the Legion if I make mistakes?!” Wrathion snarled. His hands had become fully warped by the Sha now, his fingers full talons, and when he bore his teeth the prince noted his lengthened canines, dagger-sharp.
A small shine appeared in Anduin’s right hand. He hid it behind his back, just in case Wrathion grew volatile at seeing it. It was not a complete purging spell yet, but with enough focus…
“But you’re okay now, Wrathion. And so am I. I’m not dead, and I won’t let you die, either.” He chanced a smile.
Wrathion’s eyes focused with a snap back on Anduin. “But you will only die anyway, won’t you? Mortals live such little lives. And Left will die, too. And all my agents. And all of my heroes and champions. And then I’ll be alone again.” The snarl was gone. Wrathion sounded so sad, using a tone the prince had never heard him speak in, that Anduin had to force himself not to move towards him to try to comfort him in a closer range.
Anduin wasn’t sure how to respond to the comment, however, immediately. More smoke was drifting from Wrathion’s mouth.
“You’re right. I will die. But with how many people you have around you now, Wrathion, I don’t doubt you’ll ever be alone. Especially when you save Azeroth from the Legion,” he added, in an attempt to goad the dragon’s usual self confidence back into place.
“They won’t trust me if Sabellian’s alive,” Wrathion murmured. “They won’t follow me.”
Anduin frowned. “What?”
“Do you know how hard I have tried to make myself look trustworthy? How hard I have tried to show I am not like my father, like the rest of my Flight?” Wrathion hissed. “And now some – some dragon is going to ruin all of that by just being alive!”
Anduin deepened his frown. This wasn’t making sense. “Wrathion, just because you have a brother doesn’t mean no one will believe in you-”
“When they look at me, they see Deathwing the Destroyer first. My family. My blood,” Wrathion spat. The veins underneath his ashen skin seemed to be glowing bright with the white-blue sheen now, and dark shadows began to ink out and around Wrathion’s eyes, making the initial glow from his eyes more severe against the dark. “If they’re reminded of what my family was with Sabellian, with their corruption, they’ll remember. They’ll remember where I came from. Then that is all they will see again until that dragon is dead. Until they are all dead.”
Anduin nodded slowly; he understood.
At the same time, the spell behind Anduin’s back had managed to strength at least three times stronger, but it was still not good enough to purge Sha, especially a corruption as deep as Wrathion’s was quickly turning out to be.
Wrathion went quiet. He stared at Anduin.
Anduin didn’t like the look in his vacant eyes.
Before the prince had time to shield himself the dragon lurched forward with a speed even unnatural for him and grabbed the prince by the sash. He turned, and with an explosion of glass and blood Wrathion slammed Anduin back into the window where it shattered. Anduin bared his teeth and forced the cry of pain that threatened to escape from his throat down. His hands found Wrathion’s, which still gripped onto the blond’s sash, his claws digging against his tabard and poking through holes.
“I should just kill you,” Wrathion said. Again the fury had left his voice, replaced only by despair. “You will die, dear prince. I may as well just get it over with.” His hand let go of the sash, only to snatch back onto Anduin’s throat – his right hand, his bad arm, the arm that was not fully mended and should have been cracking again under the pressure of holding the blond prince up, unless it had already.
Wrathion’s grip was tight and already Anduin was seeing spots against his vision and felt his flesh begin to bruise. He gagged.
“Wrathion – you don’t – have to kill me -”
The dragon laughed without humor, a sad sort of choking sound. “I see why Sargeras went mad. There’s no use to it.” His grip tightened. The claws dug into the side of Anduin’s throat; beads of warm blood began to run down the sides of his skin. “No use to setting things right. To Order. To life. There’s no… purpose, is there? One mistake and everything is gone.” He pushed his arm out, and Anduin felt the yawning abyss behind him as half of his body went through the window with Wrathion’s hand.
Anduin wanted to say that Wrathion couldn’t let the despair overtake him – that that was just how life was, no matter how many schemes he made, or how much he calculated. That purpose was when you found people you cared about, when you found something you loved, when you had friends to protect and who protected you. Wrathion loved Azeroth, and he had friends who cared about him, like the one who was about to be thrown out of a window.
But Wrathion’s grip was too strong, and the words wouldn’t come. The spots in Anduin’s eyes were now bursting white stars, threatening to overtake him, and the Light glow in his hands was snuffed out.
So Anduin, desperate, did all he could think of to do – he kicked out.
His left foot hit square into Wrathion’s chest, and there was a snap as the already-broken bones there caved in again. The dragon snarled and, out of instinct, jerked his arm back inside.
But his grip didn’t loosen. Anduin kicked out again when his mind began to sink underneath a seeping darkness, his lungs burning, out of air, but Wrathion dodged -
And slammed Anduin hard into the wall next to the shattered window, so hard that it cracked, and Anduin thought no more.
The voice came from far away. It was a muffle, an echo, shooting vaguely across his mind.
Someone shook his shoulder.
The voice was sharper now. The muggy darkness Anduin’s head had been swimming in began to part; his thoughts began to make sense. The prince groaned low again as a sudden but continual beat of pain thrummed across his throat, head, and shoulders.
Confused, he opened his eyes. Left crouched in front of him, her hands against his shoulders. She was bleeding across her left cheek, and the bruise Anduin had spotted alongside her shaved head had worsened to a dark brownish green.
“Left?” He grumbled, his voice a slush in his mouth. He didn’t really remember quite what had happened for a moment -
Until he shot up from his slouch against the cracked wall amongst the broken glass, his eyes wide. He looked around quickly, ignoring the thrum of pain in his head.
Wrathion wasn’t in the room.
“He’s gone,” Anduin mumbled, disbelieving.
No. This couldn’t be happening.
Anduin’s chest constricted. His eyes shot back over to Left, who had taken her arms off of him.
“Where is he?” Anduin demanded. His voice was loud and harsh, but a waver of panic flickered beneath his words. Wrathion’s white eyes, his clawed, skewered hands, his desperate then monstrous look – the images began to flicker against his mind’s eye, too fast and too wild, for Anduin to even attempt to calm himself down.
“Gone,” Left said. She rose. Anduin scrambled to his feet, stumbled as his right leg shook, but caught his balance against the windowsill behind him. A prick of pain bloomed in his palm, and he shot his hand back; a small shard of glass had stuck in the skin. He leaned back against the window and plucked it out, without thought, mechanically, all while staring at Left.
“Obviously he’s gone!” He shouted at her. He didn’t care he was shouting. He didn’t even notice he didn’t care. The prince ran a hand through his hair and felt stickiness at the back; he pulled his hand away and on his gold glove was a smear of blood – from when Wrathion had crushed him back against the glass.
He ignored it, dropping his hand. Left was going through her belt. Her movements were deft.
“Where is he?” He asked again, more desperate this time.
“I don’t know. He’s gone. Like I just said!”
Why wasn’t she out looking for him? Why were they still in here? Why had she woken Anduin up first? Shouldn’t she have gone after Wrathion? What if he was getting worse? What if the Sha that gripped him was goading him onward, down to deeper despair and doubt?
“Shouldn’t – you should have looked for him instead of waking me up!”
Left turned to him, dropped her hands from her belt, and grabbed him by the sash. She jerked him close.
“I need you to stop screaming at me,” the orc hissed. “I only just woke up too. I know what I’m doing. Now shut up and calm down. Compose yourself. Meditate. Do whatever you do to keep that stupid grin that’s always on your face on. You panicking is not going to make this any better.”
She let go.
Anduin sagged back. He swallowed hard. Left went through the pockets in her belt again. He watched without seeing.
The prince’s head was blurring. Anduin held it in his unbloodied hand for a moment, scrunching his eyes closed. The glow of Wrathion’s Sha-infested eyes seemed burned against Anduin’s eyelids.
Wrathion was gone. He was possessed by the Sha, deep in despair, wholly full of doubt, and still sick with whatever illness.
And he was gone.
He looked back up, his clean hand shaking as it dropped from his face. Left was right. He had to calm down. He wasn’t making this any better.
But he was so tired, and so worried, and – and everything had been about to go so well, and then – then this had happened -
Left grabbed something from her belt. It flashed – it was a red gem, similar to what the other Agents wore across their foreheads.
“I need to you tell me what happened. Right now.”
Anduin stared at her. His head froze, when just a moment ago it’d be aflame with thoughts and images, as if it’d simply shut off because of the onslaught.
“’Right now’ means right now, prince!”
He jumped. His mind began to turn again. Anduin opened his mouth, though the words did not come immediately.
“He – I walked in and you were unconscious. He was standing by the window. I tried to help him, but -” Wrathion grabbing him with the long, curled, glowing claws flashed against his eyes - “he was too far gone. The Sha had completely taken him… and I didn’t have the energy to purge it from him.” His failure hit him hard as he spoke the events aloud; Anduin didn’t try to hide the tired defeat and pain from his voice, his panicked anger beginning to sludge away. Let Left think what Left thought – he didn’t care. “I thought he was going to kill me,” he added, mostly to himself, with a mumble.
Left grunted, turned away and rubbed the gem between her fingers. “Shouldn’t you have picked up on His Majesty being slowly possessed?”
“I know. I didn’t see it because of his illness. I just thought it must have been part of the disease, but -” he shrugged helplessly, and swept a hand over his face.
Left sighed. “Very well. There’s no time for me to be angry at you for it. I needed to know what the situation was before we looked.” She lifted her free hand and swept back her large ponytail, her gloved fingers trailing over the bruise. “I’m not sure what made him snap. One moment he was sleeping, and the next he’d shot up and pummeled me into the wall.” She scowled. “A lucky shot. Caught me by surprise.”
Left had just woken up, then, too. How long had both of them been out ? Anduin quickly looked behind his shoulder, and saw that it was still night.
“Here.” Anduin looked back at Left, numb. She’d crossed the room and had his cracked cane in her hand. She shifted the wood back in place with a creak of splinters and threw it to him.
“Are you okay?” Anduin asked. He’d already forgotten about her bruise.
“Fine. Are you?” She turned to give him a critical look, her eyes flicking up and around him, surveying his own bruises and blood. He nodded vacantly.
“I’m alright. Please, let’s just -” His eyes went to the door. The panic and gut-twisting found him again. “Let’s just go find him.”
The orc did not need to be told twice. She opened the door, and they went out to the hallway.
It was halfway destroyed. Anduin widened his eyes. Along one wall was a long, black scorch mark, where bits of paint and rubble still drifted from, as delicate as leaves. On the floor was a trail of oozing sha energy, and a hole was smashed through on the other wall. The whole hallway seemed to smoke. There was no sign of the Black Prince still being there.
Two of Anduin’s bodyguards were clumped together a bit farther down. The prince’s throat constricted. Left tried to grab him, but he managed to duck underneath her hand, and he started over as quickly as he could, kneeling down to the limp bodies to check for signs of life.
He was relieved to see them breathing. He let out a shaky sigh, closed his eyes for a moment to send a quick thank-you, then looked them over. Both had gashes along their Stormwind regalia – claw marks. The metal seemed to be like carved through like oil with Wrathion’s sha-talons.
“They need healing,” Anduin said. How had no one heard what had gone on up here?
The thunder of battle outside was the answer. No wonder the others in the courtyard hadn’t heard and come to aid!
Though, Anduin thought, he was glad they hadn’t, in a way. If they had seen Wrathion like Anduin had – they would have tried to kill him.
“No time. Leave them.”
Anduin looked up. Left had joined him.
“But they -”
“I see no mortal wounds. If you want to stay and heal them and abandon the Prince, fine.”
Anduin frowned, a slight glower in his eyes. Left was looking at the gem and not at him.
“What is that?”
Anduin made an exasperated sound. “What does it do?”
“Contacts His Majesty’s agents. Be quiet. I’m going to speak.”
The orc put both hands around the gem and closed her eyes. The ruby began to glow after a moment. Anduin watched, fascinated, his worry forgotten for a mere moment.
“Abandon the search for Sabellian. His Majesty has been possessed by the Sha. Turn your sights to finding him. Do not use hostilities against him - Seek and Capture. All information on His Majesty will be sent back to me. I repeat, if some of you weren’t listening: His Majesty has been possessed by the SHA. Do NOT harm him. Seek and Capture.”
The glow faded. The orc opened her eyes.
“All of the Agents heard that?” Anduin asked. Left nodded as she pocketed the gem. The prince furrowed his brows. “I didn’t know you were having them search for Sabellian.”
“Only recently. I told them the situation, but not where the Prince was.” She looked around at the ruined hallway. “He’s left a trail. We can track him that way -”
“I think I might know where he would go.”
Left looked at him sharply. “Well, don’t keep it to yourself!”
Anduin stood. The guards would be alright; he’d glanced over them again and had assured himself their wounds were not, as Left said, mortal. Someone would find them soon enough.
“Come on. My gryphon -”
“I didn’t say you were going.”
Anduin stared at her. “You can’t be serious.”
“You’re ready to collapse. You can hardly stand upright! You were lucky with Sabellian in the cave, but this time you will be getting in the way.”
“Left.” Anduin took a couple steps closer to her. “I know I’m weak now, and I know I couldn’t purge him of the Sha when I could – but I can purge Sha. I did it at the Temple of the Red Crane. I helped Master Crane from the Sha of Despair itself, the very thing that’s tormenting Wrathion at the very moment. If I can sleep on the gryphon, I’ll be fine. But you can’t deny that not having me to help Wrathion will be a very bad mistake.”
Left squinted at him. Anduin drew himself up and stared back.
“And if he’s too far gone? What then?” Left asked with a low voice. “You saw the black drake in Kun-lai. Nothing could have saved that thing.”
“You don’t know that. I could have -”
“Do you know what the Sha came from, Anduin?”
Anduin was caught off guard by the question. “Well, negative emotions -”
Left interrupted him with a wave of her hand. “Yes, alright, negative emotions. But the Sha’s origins are from an Old God. Yshaarj.” Understanding came to Anduin’s face; his confusion fell. “They’re the very whispers of an Old God. I wonder how much worse they affect black dragons?”
Anduin took a deep breath. Oh. This was – this was news. He paused before replying. “Old Gods or not, I can still cleanse him. It’s still just the Sha. The drake –… the drake was just corrupted by the Sha, too. You saw him.” He frowned. “And if the drake was corrupted by something more because of the Sha, it doesn’t matter. Wrathion’s free from the corruption – right?”
Left stared at him. “Yes. But so are all mortals and dragons – besides Sabellian’s brood. But what stops the Old Gods from corrupting them because they were born without it?”
She shook her head. “Well, let’s hope you’re right, prince,” the orc mumbled. She began to walk passed him, down to the stairs, gesturing for him to follow, which he did. “And that I won’t, or you won’t, have to put a bolt or spell into His Majesty’s heart.”