Chapter 1: Nothing Left to Lose
Note: If some of the things said here conflict with Lore, sorry, I'm changing things to fit the story. Example: Jaina's banishment VS just leaving, Jaina still having her locket even though she gave it to the players, or the Warlocks not having the Book of Medivh. I also haven't played a lot of WoW since WoTLK, so, I'll be missing plenty of things most likely.
Jaina Proudmore, Arcmage of the Kirin Tor, and arguably the strongest human sorceress alive, stood, as she had finally begun to realize she had since the Fall of Lodaeron, since she had turned away from Arthas, alone. She was in the center of the Chamber of the Council of Six, it's members staring down upon her with extreme disapproval, resignation, and sorrow.
They called her warmonger: For wanting the Horde to pay for it's crimes, for encouraging the Alliance to war, trying to turn the neutral factions such as the Argent Crusade, the Earthen Ring, and the Cenarion Circle against the brutes.
They called her warped: For all the suffering she had gone through that they said turned her cold and cruel.
They called her damaged: For losing her Prince. For losing her Kingdom. For standing aside and losing her father. For her homeland, Kul Tiras, disowning and banishing her for that crime. For Theramore being destroyed. For all the constant struggles over the years against the Scourge, the Legion, the Old Gods, the Horde, and so much more...
It had finally come to a head, they had put her on a trial that she hardly paid attention to. The verdict was already a given, they wanted her gone. Nothing she said would have made a difference to their deaf ears. She hoped when the Horde betrayed them and slit their throats, her warning was the last thing they would remember.
"...and it is with great regret, that you leave me no choice but to strip you of your rank as Archmage, and banish you from the Kirin Tor," handed down archmage Khadgar.
"Banishment," echoed Jaina dully.
Another home that had been either destroyed or turned her out. She should have been effected, but strangely, she just felt... nothing.
"How quaint," she mused.
Khadgar slowly shook his head. "You will be allowed time to gather your personal effects, anything however that belongs to the Kirin Tor will be confiscated from your chambers."
Jaina pursed her lips. "That won't be necessary."
Honestly, what did they think she owned but the robes on her body and her staff Halion in her hand? She cared nothing for riches, and all her old mementos and heirlooms from both home and Lodaeron had been destroyed when Theramore had been wiped away. She had... nothing left.
She looked over the Council of Six one last time, feeling nothing for any of them, before turning and walking from the chamber. She had said all she had to say a long time ago. Once she left the Violet Citadel, she stood silently at it's steps, pondering where to teleport herself to. She had no place to call home anymore. Lodaeron was gone. Theramore was gone. Kul Tiras and Dalaran had both banished her. The Alliance had slowly all started to become wary of her. Of HER, who had fought at the Battle of Mount Hyjal while most of them save for the Night Elves hadn't even been aware the Burning Legion had invaded.
Tirion Fordring hadn't outright banished her from Hearthglen or the crusade's other bases of operation for trying to turn the Argent Crusade on the Horde, but she wouldn't be welcome, with that self-righteous bastard looking down on her disapprovingly. Honestly, where did he get the nerve? Where was HE when Lodaeron fell? Sitting in his hut in exile while everyone else fought and died. While her prince was slowly consumed by a trial he wasn't ready for...
The Cenarion Circle and the Earthen Ring weren't options either. She was no druid, not to mention druids frowned upon the arcane. She wasn't a shaman either, and she knew she couldn't tolerate being in organizations that allowed the Horde membership. Even Thrall, the only good leader the Horde had ever had, probably would look down on her the way Khadgar did. She contemplated Shattrath, but... she had no personal desire nor connection to the city of light.
The same was true for so many other neutral or minor factions.
She had nowhere to go, nowhere and no one to belong to.
She was alone.
She gripped Halion tightly, glancing down silently at her old staff. She had honestly forgotten about it back when she had first fled Dalaran when the Scourge came for the Book of Medeiv. It had been a weaker make, back when she had been an apprentice. But Arthas... when he had taken the city, had taken her old staff as a memento. And when she found it, in the troves of items the Lich King had horded of his past life, it had nearly broken her and sent her into tears. He had treasured it, empowered it, not even with the power of undeath, just arcane enchantments and strength, turned it into something he had probably thought she would have one day wielded as a powerful archmage. So she had taken both it and her old locket, as much as it had hurt her heart to have them, to remember her prince.
"You're all I have left of him Halion," murmured Jaina, "My staff of forgotten love."
She slowly walked away from the Violet Citadel, walking to the old wishing fountain, littered with coins in it's depths. She remembered the foolish wish she had made with that gold coin...
Arthas, my love, please come back to me...
She slowly raised a hand, glowing softly with arcane power, and felt for her signature amongst the coins. She found the old thing and lifted it out with her magic into her hand. She stared down at it silently, brushing a thumb over it. Wishes never accomplished anything. Only action did. She had never gone after Arthas after Strathlome, interacted with him, until it had been to late. Until he had already merged into the Lich King. If only she had tried to reach him...
She let out a shaky breath and pocketed the coin, ignoring the looks a few of the people fishing out of the fountain gave her (Seriously? Fishing in the wishing fountain?). She had found it absurd the first time she had seen it, she still did now. She still didn't have any clue where to go. She'd eventually be kicked out of Dalaran by force if she was still here by the end of the day. So she had to go somewhere.
She sighed, aimed her staff, and opened a portal to the place where she had made her greatest mistake...
...and came out at the gates of Strathlome. Where she had turned her back on her prince. She stared at it's gates, her eyes cloudy, memories of another time dancing across her vision. She slowly shook her head and walked away, down the bridge, and to the bank of the river. She sat down, staring at her reflection in the water.
Middle-aged, but with gray mana bombed hair and far to many stress wrinkles across her face. She hadn't care enough to flaunt it ever since Lodaeron fell, but she had been beautiful once. She smiled faintly, a slight blush on her face, when she recalled the rather revealing outfit female Archmages had worn back in the day. Her smile faded, because of course back then people didn't need some kind of armor or enchanted cloth covering nearly every inch of their body from protection from who knows what they needed nowadays.
"What I would do to go back to that time," she murmured, slowly shaking her head.
It was an actual possibility, but if she tried to access the Caverns of Time for the purpose of changing the past, Nozdormu would have her head. Not to mention, what good would it do her? The Jaina Proudmoore living in the past? It would help her, but the Jaina now? She'd be some old crone, Light, Arthas would probably find her repulsive, if not in body, then in mind and spirit for all she had changed from the young archmage he had known. She'd probably end up banished again...
"It's all pointless," she muttered.
"Is it, Lady Proudmoore?" came a cold, calculating, cruel voice.
Jaina froze for a moment before surging to her feet turning, and aiming her staff, already glowing with power, at the monstrous being standing before her. Towering over her in height was the demonic horned form of a dreadlord, it's pale bony glowing wings stretched to the sides. Fel armor lined it's torso, arms, and legs. It's claws sharp and curved, easily able to take skin from the bone. It's hoves ground into the dirt beneath it. It's glow green eyes stared down at her, calculating, a devious and cruel smirk across it's face.
"You're bold to approach me Dreadlord," said Jaina in a warning tone, "Especially with all your masters dead or imprisoned. The Legion is finished, whatever you hope to accomplish is pointless."
"Is it?" said the Dreadlord once more, "I think not, or rather, I think it does not need to be."
Jaina narrowed her eyes, waiting, but the Dreadlord took no offensive action, "What do you want Dreadlord? Who are you?"
It's smirk turned into a grin. "I am Tichondrius."
Jaina's eyes went wide. The leader of the Dreadlords? "I thought you were dead."
"It matters greatly where a demon dies," mused the demon, "And dying in a mortal world upon the Broken Isles, does not permanently kill one such as I. But I digress... you wish you could change the past?"
"What of it?" said Jaina warily, "It's a foolish desire, even if I could get around the Bronze Dragonflight, it wouldn't be me that I would be changing the past for, just my younger self."
The demon grinned. "Such a selfish desire. One would think you would be willing to give your younger self and your beloved prince a chance even at the expense of your own happiness."
Jaina scoffed. "I've been selfless enough my entire life, and look where it got me."
Tichondrius chuckled. "Indeed, but what if there was a way to circumvent that standard method of time travel? What if you could take the place of your younger self? To adopt your younger body again, and try to change what has been written?"
Jaina froze up for a moment, countless possibilities crossing her mind, before she shoved them aside. "It wouldn't matter. The Bronze Dragonflight would just undo it all."
"Would they? Do you so readily forget the Horde of the altered timestream?" questioned Tichondrious, "Where the Orc, Garrosh Hellscream, fled and changed the past quite successfully?"
Jaina's staff lowered, her voice hushed and trembling. "What of it? He was still himself."
"What if there was a way to create a new timestream, and fit yourself into your old body?" questioned Tichondrious, "Would you take the chance?"
Jaina's throat felt oh so dry. "I... how would it even be possible?"
A deadly grin crossed the demon's face. "Tell me Lady Proudmoore, do you know what happened to the Book of Medivh?"
Jaina was caught offguard by the question, blinking a few times. "I... no. Kel'Thuzzad used it to summon Archmonde and start the invasion, but after that, it was never found."
"Perhaps foolishly, I never took the book from the Lich," said Tichondrius, "The Lich kept the book upon his person at all times."
"But... Naxxramas was raided, twice!" said Jaina, "No one found the book!"
"Because he hid it before he fell, underneath the throne in his chambers of Naxxramas," said Tichondrius, a mocking tone escaping his lips, "Where no one foolishly bothered to check."
"What... what exactly are you proposing?" demanded Jaina.
"Kel'Thuzzad feared the Legion obtaining the book and using it to summon Kil'Jaeden," explained Tichondrius, "It's hiding place, while detectable, is shielded against demonic presence. I cannot retrieve it myself. In the depths of the book is a spell that we need. Obtain it, and we will create a new world. You will take the place of your younger self, as will I."
"A bargain, a challenge, a pact," offered the Dreadlord, "We both shall attempt to change the past for our betterment, but only one shall succeed in the end. Are you willing to take the risk?"
Jaina was tempted, oh so tempted, but... "I'm only one archmage, who everyone will think is insane if I start spouting 'nonsense' about the future. How could I possibly win against you and your influence within the Legion? All you have to do is tell Archimonde and Kil'Jaeden and..."
"And what?" asked Tichondrius, "Tell them that I have more knowledge that I had before? Let them know that I am more dangerous than I was? That perhaps I might actually succeed with supplanting one of them as the Right or Left hand of Sargaras?"
Jaina paused at that. "You'd betray them?"
"I AM a demon," mused the Dreadlord.
"That you are," muttered Jaina.
"Make no mistake Archmage," warned Tichondrius, "I will have the advantage over you, but not as insurmountable as you may think. If I reveal my hand at an ill opportune moment, neither Archimonde or Kil'Jaeden will hesitate to rip my mind asunder for the knowledge I have and permanently dispose of me."
"Then why would you even propose this?" demanded Jaina.
"Because having even the slightest chance of victory is worth the complete lack of it I have now," said Tichondrius, "Sargaras is imprisoned, Archimonde and Kil'Jaeden dead, so many of our most elite have permanently fallen, the armies of the Legion scattered, our prime world broken. Even if I tried to remake the Legion here, the champions of the Light have grown to powerful. The Legion has lost here, but in the past... there is still a chance."
Jaina licked her lips. The chance to change the past... to get the life she had always wanted... but at the risk of the Legion also having another chance of burning all of creation... was it worth the risk? Could she go through losing everything again?
"What have you left to lose in this life Lady Proudmoore?" asked the Dreadlord.
She thought about it for a moment, before answering quietly, "Aside for my life, nothing. I... I have nothing left."
"Then have we an accord?" inquired the Dreadlord.
"When," she asked, sidestepping an answer for the moment, "How far into the past would we go?"
"I think it fair to say just before the Scourging of Lodaeron," proposed the Dreadlord, holding out a hand, "A week before you and Arthas began the journey into the plagued north."
Arthas would still be alive.
Still be whole of mind, body, and spirit.
Still be her prince.
She'd have everything back... have a chance to influence things for the better.
A week before the End of the World began to try to set herself up for success...
Jaina looked the demon in the eye, stepped forward, and took his hand. "We have a deal."
They vanished in a burst of demonic fire, reappearing outside the crashed dread citadel Naxxramas in Northrend. Both her and the Dreadlord ducked behind a few pieces of debris, hiding from the view of the Argent Crusade and the Kirin Tor who were slowly working to dismantle the once great symbol of the Scourge's power.
"We must be silent and swift," warned the Dreadlord, "I have masked our presence, but it will not matter if we foolishly run into one of these fools here. If it comes down to it Archmage, are you willing to kill for this chance?"
"Is that even a question?" she shot back bitterly, "They killed him, they killed my prince without even trying to free him from the grip of the Lich King."
The Dreadlord bared his teeth in delight. "My how life has made you bitter. You would have made an excellent demoness."
Jaina scoffed. "Don't even try it. The Legion is what created the Scourge and stole everything from me. Don't think I don't know that."
The Dreadlord chuckled before turning. "Come."
Jaina began to trail behind him as they moved from one debris to another. "You couldn't have just teleported us inside?"
"There are still enchantments in place that prevent such action," whispered the Dreadlord back.
They moved quietly until they came closer to the entrance. It was guarded by several of the crusade, at least two paladins and an archmage.
"Hmm...," murmured the Dreadlord, "The time for concealment ended far sooner than I would have liked. Be ready, I will stun them, you will kill."
Jaina nodded and steeled herself for what she was about to do. To kill and betray the servants of the light. Regardless of her bitterness, this... this was a dark sin.
Tichondrius stood to his full height and raised a hand to the sky. Fel green clouds swirled in the air, cackling green lightning Down from the heavens, as if a dark harbinger, rained an infernal, the Legion construct smashed right into the group of guards, stunning them before slamming a demonic fist into the face of the archmage, crushing his skull into the walls of Naxxramas. Jaina acted instantly, aiming her staff and putting twin bolts of lightning straight through the hearts of the two Paladins. Best to put them down before they could do any of their healing or divine shield nonsense. They had to be quick about this.
"I will create a diversion, it will last us only so long," warned Tichondrius, before raising his hands to the sky again.
Infernals began raining down from the sky upon the area around the dread citadel. Dark portals began to split open and out poured demons, slaughtering the defenders of the Light. As the battle began, she and Tichondrius rushed into Naxxramas.
"Be mindful of the Plague of Undeath," warned Tichondrius, "Touch any of the green liquid scattered about, and your life is forfeit."
"I'm aware," said Jaina, taking a brief moment to shield herself with her strongest enchantment.
It was difficult to navigate the fallen necropolis, it's walls had become its floors, and it's floors and ceiling its walls. Corpses of the undead still littered the halls.
"Split up, each Quarter houses an activation switch at the end to allow access to the Frostwyrm Lair and the Throne of Naxxramas," said Tichondrius.
Jaina nodded and rushed down a webbed tunnel, the Arachnid Quarter if she remembered correctly. She passed by the broken husk of a Crypt Lord, the collapsed body of a fallen mage reeking of fire and necrotic magic, and into the nest of a rotting spider queen to find the first switch.
"Halt! Who goes there?!" came a voice.
Jaina turned, spotting a patrol of Argent Crusader's walking towards her. Without a word, she aimed her staff and froze them solid, hypothermia and asphyxiation would do the rest for her. She brushed past the blocks of ice and left the quarter, meeting up with Tichondrius and...
"Patchwerk play?" asked a gigantic stinking abomination glowing with green fel fire, looking down at her, it's massive cleaver gripped in it's hand, chains handing off its cut open body, innards disgustingly on display.
Jaina glanced over at the Dreadlord. "Friend of yours?"
"The Argent Crusade left the corpses of the Scourge's most elite scattered around rather than disposing of them," calmly stated Tichondrius, "I am rather adept at reanimation myself and thought to use one as a guardian if need be. I heard tales of the strength of this one especially."
Jaina merely nodded. "I'll take the Military Quarter, I'm leaving you to the Plague Quarter."
"A wise decision," mused the Dreadlord.
Jaina rushed through the Military Quarter, blasting away any Argent Crusader or agent of the Kirin Tor she came across, until she reached the room of the Four Horsemen. She paused to briefly look at the four corpses still there. Sir Zeliek, Lady Blaumeux. Thane Korth'azz, and Baron Rivendare. Though, once long ago, instead of Rivendare it had been Alexandrous Mograine, the original Ashbringer, dead and corrupted, before his son set him free. She briefly considered him and made a mental note to try and find a way to keep him alive. She'd only met him once in the capital city, back when his hand had been damaged, before the blade had been made, but she had heard of his feats in the Plaguelands. He would be an extremely valuable ally, not like that old pretender Tirion.
She activated the switch and went back to the central area, finding the giant abomination Patchwerk at the entrance, fighting to keep the Argent Crusade out.
Tichondrius arrived a moment latter and motioned to the now glowing platform above their heads, "Come, there is not much time. Surely by now word has been sent to both Dalaran and the Argent Crusade, reinforcements will be here soon, and if the Ashbringer or the Council of Six is amongst them, our efforts are for naught."
"Lets go then!" she exclaimed, rushing for the teleporter.
They went through and charged down the chilled lair of Sapphirion, whose bones still littered the giant room. Tichondrious muttered an incantation under his breath and aimed a burning green hand at the corpse. Fel energy rushed out and engulfed the dragon's bones, knitting together and reanimating the dread dragon, who let loose a massive roar that shook the foundations of the dread citadel.
"Let none pass!" ordered the Dreadlord as they ran.
Finally, they reached the Throne of Naxxramas, crossed the room, where Tichondrious pointed her to the hiding spot of the Book of Medivh. She briefly studied the enchantments, pressing their spellwork into memory in-case she needed them in the future, and shattered them. She opened a hidden compartment behind the throne, and there it was, the Book of Medivh. She grasped the book, feeling the raw power within it's pages, and hefted it out. Her arms trembled at the magical energy just begging her to use...
"Give it here," demanded the Dreadlord, "And begin summoning anything you can. It will take time to enact the spell.
Jaina nodded wordlessly, calling forth her favored Water Elementals. She could feel their irritation at the Dreadlord's presence, but forced them to move to the front of the room. The Dreadlord flipped quickly, but carefully through the book until he came across the page he desired. He held up his hands, and the book began to float above him. Demonic language burned from his tongue as he began to chant an incantation. The moment he began, Jaina could feel the change in the air, the heaviness, the way magic and time around them began to warp.
She could also feel the presence of many powerful beings suddenly turn in their direction. From the Dragon Aspects, to the champions of the Light, to the archmages in Dalaran, even the Naaru on the other worlds. The great druids of the Night Elves, their demigods. The few old gods that still lived. The creatures of the Void so far out in the dark places of existence. So many beings recoiled and grew alarmed at the ripples emanating from the incantation bleeding through the air. Even in the pit of her own stomach, a sense of dread, of fear, of absolute doom filled her.
"We are going to have an absurd amount of company if you don't hurry it up Dreadlord," hissed Jaina.
The Dreadlord didn't respond, still chanting in his burning tongue.
Jaina aimed her staff at the entrance of the chamber, releasing a burst of frost that froze the entryway and blockaded it with ice. She began to sweat, feeling so much power not only in the air from the spellwork, but coming towards her. Everything, everyone was coming. Why? Why was this spell giving off this sensation? Her eyes briefly flickered to the Dreadlord, before going back to the entrance as an ear splitting roar of a a fel frostwyrm engaging in battle echoed through the walls. They were running out of time...
Ten minutes ticked away before the hazy image of someone on the other side of the frost wall began pounding on it. Magic and light began to sear the spellwork, and Jaina thrust her staff forward, fueling her barrier with power...
She winced as light split down it. Oh she recognized that. Her spellwork wasn't going to hold back the Ashbringer for long, and elementals would do nothing, she dismissed them in favor of concentrating on the barrier. Damn, that old bastard had arrived fast. Who the hell had gone to him and teleported him here that quickly? She had her answer a moment later when the grim face of Khadgar became visible through the barrier. Damn him. Damn him! He wasn't going to rob her of this chance! The only chance she had left...
Khadgar and Tirion broke through the barrier a moment later.
"Jaina! Stop!" yelled Khadgar, "Can't you feel what this spell is going to do?"
"Whatever the demon has promised, it's not worth the price!" warned Tirion, stepping forward, "Disrupt this before it's to late!"
The Dreadlord finished his incantation seconds later a blood red portal ripping open the air behind him. "It's time Proudmoore!"
The dreadful feeling in her stomach skyrocketed the moment the portal opened, she hadn't bothered to analyze the energy, but she knew there was going to be a price to pay if they stepped through it. "What haven't you told me Dreadlord?"
A cruel grin split his lips and he extended a hand to her. "Nothing that should concern you. But if you must know, to create one timeline in this manner, another must die. Everyone and everything that exists in this world will die and disappear the moment we step through and rip time asunder."
Jaina froze completely for a moment, before a soft curse escaped her lips. "You bastard."
"Stop him!" roared Tirion, rushing forward.
Jaina glanced back at the Ashbringer and the Leader of the Kirin Tor before she made her decision and rushed forward. Not to stop the Dreadlord, but to take his hand, and then dive through the portal...
And in that moment...
It was as if trillions, as if countless voices, cried out in unison, before being silenced forevermore...
But she'd bare that wound in her soul...
The knowledge that she had just murdered so many countless beings...
All for the chance to have her Prince again...
To be happy again...
A story idea I had, because I love time travel, I lub Jaina, and I lub Arthas. So lets mix it all together in a cunning demon's bargain and send Jaina back to before the Scourge of Lodaeron and have her race against Tichondrius for the chance to win the future.
Only Jaina isn't the nice Archmage she once was. She's lost everything before. And she'd be damned before she lost it again. To beat a ruthless demon, she might have to become as ruthless as it is to win...
Can't promise when I'm going to work on this story more, but I wanted to get the intro out there to see if people are interested.