Commander in the Field!
As they rode through Tirisfal Glades and into the Eastweld, the notion that the fate of the world hung in the balance seemed laughable, given how peaceful and serene everything was around them.
"It feels like a life-time since the last time we came this way," Jaina said to Arthas as they rode side by side.
"Indeed. Though this time we know the nature of the danger we are facing, when we first encountered the plague, we had no concept of the evil that we were up against."
"You think you know what the Legion is capable of, but you have barely scratched the surface," Alleria sneered. "I've seen the true evils of the Legion firsthand."
"Then why not tell us?" Jaina asked gently, but Alleria brushed it off.
"What happened to you beyond the Dark Portal?" Uther asked, "Danath spoke of being held captive, but that you escaped…"
"We weren't just captured and held prisoner after the Dark Portal closed, we fought on even after the world became a blasted hellhole," her fists clenched on her reins. "The five of us fought until we were the only ones still standing, the Legion took pleasure in slaughtering those who had followed us, but they took far greater pains to capture us alive."
"So they could turn us against Azeroth, corrupt us to be as vile as them. That is how the Legion truly swells their ranks; not by conquest, but by corrupting those they face to fight for them."
"And if you turned against Azeroth…"
"Our knowledge could speed up their invasion and dishearten those who stood in the way of the Legion."
"How long were you tortured for?" Jaina could not stop herself from asking.
"Months, years, decades… Time matters little when all you know is pain. The Demonic Inqusition put us each through hell, torturing us both physically and mentally, ensuring that they'd stop just short of giving us the sweet release of death."
"But you were only gone for a few years, how could they torture you for 'decades'?"
"Time is different in the Twisting Nether, it moves slower than it does here, meaning I was gone far longer than 'a few years'." She explained quickly.
"It explains why the Legion are so keen to set this world to the flame," Arthas mused. "It's been a short five years to us, but to the Legion…"
"It's been far longer for them, and unlike Azeroth, they have been marshalling their strength, gathering new allies, and concocting strategies to overcome the mistakes of the past." Alleria finished. "When I learnt of what they were planning for Azeroth, I fought my way out of the hell they were holding us in and came home."
"How did you get back to Azeroth? Opening a portal to another world takes a great amount of power, it's not a simple task."
"The Legion were opening small portals to Azeroth to send scouts to lay the groundwork long before I returned home. When I escaped, I caught them opening one of these portals. So, I killed the ones opening the portal and the monster they were about to send through, before diving into the portal before it closed."
They were distracted from their discussion as they approached Andorhal, as the townspeople came rushing to greet them.
"Prince Arthas, thank the Light you've come." The Mayor said as they reigned up before the crowd.
"A meteorite crashed into the town hall this morning, and when we went to investigate…" the Mayor began, before his wife cut in.
"There's a demon in there now!"
"Demon!" Alleria growled, before spurring her horse to charge, and forcing the civilians to quickly get out of her way.
"We will investigate this at once, thank you for bringing it to our attention," the prince assured the confused people, as Uther and Jaina moved to follow Alleria into the town.
They caught up to Alleria outside the town hall, where she was tying her horse up outside the building. The meteorite had smashed through the clock tower and into the hall itself; the damage to the tower made it appear to be on the point of collapsing. The doors to the town hall were open, and inside they could hear someone, or something, moving around inside.
"What kind of demon could we be facing?" Jaina asked Alleria, as they too dismounted and tied their horses to the hitching post.
"The worst kind of demons are the ones that lie in wait," she said, nocking an arrow in her bow. "It means they're plotting something nefarious."
"I'll take the lead, be prepared for anything." Uther said calmly, wielding his mace with both hands.
As they stepped inside, the eery silence put them all on edge, and when a floorboard creaked under Arthas' boot, the echoing sound was met by frantic movements from the main hall.
"Is that a horse?" Jaina whispered.
They found the doors to the hall shut, and barricaded when they tried to open them. Uther took a step back and summoning the Light to give strength to his arms, swung his mace at the door and smashed it open. The dim hall beyond the smashed doors was illuminated by an eerie purple light, and as they stepped inside, they found a large amethyst at the centre of the room which was the source of the unusual glow.
"That's not a normal meteor," Jaina cautiously approached, but Alleria held her back.
"Something was in that meteor, look." She pointed to the hollow core of the crystal revealed by its shattered exterior. "Whatever it was, it's still in here."
Uther moved past the crystal towards the door that led into the clock-tower, but when his hand moved for the handle, the door burst open and he was forced to duck a crystalline hammer that swung for his head.
"Eredar!" Alleria snarled, aiming her arrow at the attacker's head.
The word caused the attacker to stop before attacking Uther again, and the four Azerothians got a better opportunity to inspect their attacker. The figure was a head taller than them and was glad in gilded white and gold armour with dark purple amethysts inlaid into it; combined with the crystalline mace the feminine figure wielded, Uther quickly entertained the idea that this was not a demon.
The alien woman challenged them in a language none of them could understand, and their confusion was evidently apparent to the stranger, who softened her tone and spoke in a language two of them could speak.
"She's speaking Orcish!" Jaina breathed, clarifying for the two paladins. "Though it's a different dialect to the language Thrall taught me."
"I understand it." Alleria said, before explaining; "she's an Eredar, they're a species I encountered on Draenor, but…"
The woman snapped at Alleria, clearly irritated by her use of the word 'Eredar'. Alleria quickly seemed to apologise, before listening as the armoured woman gave a lengthy speech in the Orcish tongue. When she finished, Alleria responded in the same language, before turning to her companions.
"Her name is Yrel, she's a Draenei, they're the same species as Eredar but chose not to side with the Legion."
"So, she's an ally?" Arthas asked.
Yrel spoke to Alleria in a hurried tone, and the former Ranger quickly responded to her.
"She asked if the Legion have found this world, I told her they were invading as we speak, but are holding our own despite the overwhelming odds."
Jaina sighed and began chanting in Elvish, Yrel tensed as the spell was cast in her direction, and they saw arcane letters appear over her throat.
"What was that?" Yrel exclaimed, and all eyes turned to Jaina.
"Simple translation spell, saves us having to translate for you."
"I can understand you?" Yrel breathed. "What are you?"
"We three are humans, and she is a Quel'dorei." Uther stepped forward. "I am Lord Uther, Paladin of the Silver Hand, and these are Prince Arthas Menethil of Lordaeron, Lady Jaina Proudmoore of Kul Tiras, and Ranger-General Alleria Windrunner of Silvermoon City."
"We are warriors of the Light, a bulwark against…"
"Then we are warriors-in-arms, Uther." Yrel smiled, shouldering her mace and raising her free hand to summon a glowing golden symbol over her forehead. "I too am a warrior of the Light, a Vindicaar of my people."
"You came here in that?" Arthas pointed at the large crystal in the middle of the room.
"An escape pod, I was sent to find allies on this world as our ship…" she smiled, but her joy died as she remembered the events leading up to her crash. "Where is the Exodar?"
"We saw a meteor falling across the sky toward the west, but your 'escape pod' landed here."
"What lies to the west of here?"
"A large expanse of ocean, and the distant land of Kalimdor."
"Are the people of Kalimdor friend or foe?"
"Friend. Every sentient race on Azeroth is allied together against the oncoming Legion, I have no doubt that your people will be welcomed with open arms."
Yrel smiled and approached Uther, holding out a hand to him. The two figures clasped each other by the forearm as a sign of brotherhood.
"Your arrival is rather fortuitous; we were on our way to deal with a potential traitor who has likely allied with the Legion and kidnapped a friend of ours."
"My people were betrayed from within too, it is a pain I am all too familiar with," Yrel stood up to her full height. "I will help you."
"I look forward to seeing how a Vindicaar fights," Uther smiled, before realising their predicament. "Apologies if I sound indelicate, but do you have a helmet you could wear, I fear your… Unique appearance has the local townspeople believing you to be a demon."
Yrel chuckled dryly at the notion, before slowly shaking her head.
"I do not, Lord Uther."
"Can you ride a horse?" Arthas asked as they moved to the exit.
"What is a horse?"
They stepped outside and the townspeople who had gathered around the entrance recoiled at seeing Yrel emerge into the sunlight.
"Relax citizens, she means you no harm." Arthas proclaimed aloud for all to hear. "This is Vindicaar Yrel of the Draenei, a Paladin to her people. The Draenei have travelled here from another planet, and Yrel has told us that they are no friend to the Legion."
The townspeople of Andorhal murmured amongst themselves at this, so Yrel stepped forward.
"My people lost our home to the Legion centuries ago, but our faith in the Light has guided us to safety countless times, and I believe it guided us here for a reason."
This seemed to satisfy the people's curiosity, and they slowly dispersed, though some lingered to watch the alien in their midst.
"This is a horse?" Yrel asked, as they approached the four horses tied to the post. "I am not sure one of these could support me."
"What do you ride on your homeworld?"
"We ride beasts called Elekks, they are much bigger and tougher than these creatures." Yrel said with some pride.
"Right," Uther stroked his chin, before hitting upon a solution.
"Jaina, would you ride with Arthas, and allow Yrel to mount your horse?"
"Of course." Jaina smiled, seating herself behind Arthas on his horse.
Uther and Alleria both helped Yrel to mount the horse, the beast making a distressed noise at first until Uther relieved the Draenei of her weapon.
"We won't ride at full canter for the sake of our mounts, but we must make haste." Uther said as he mounted up. "We ride for the Thalassian Pass."
"That's almost a two-day ride," Alleria noted.
"Plenty of time for us to share information with our honoured guest," he smiled at Yrel, who smiled back.
"I will answer any questions you have about my people, and I look forward to learning more about yours." She bowed her head slightly, adjusting her position on the horse's back. "This land is strange, yet beautiful, to me and I am very keen to see more of it."