Chapter 14: Across the Sea
Author's Note: There are... conflicting reports on how long it takes to sail to Kalimdor from the Eastern Kingdom. Some say weeks, some say months, googling says that Tides of War says its a week. One of the WC3 Loading Screens says it took the Orcs weeks to get from EK to Kalimdor. Another, for comparison, says it took Arthas a month to get to Northrend after culling Strath, while the expansion says it took DK Arthas 3 weeks... I'm going to make a fanfic executive decision and say a month, give or take weather.
The shores of Lordaeran had never looked more quiet and solemn as they did, fading away into the distance as the Kul'Tiras, Quel'Thalas, and Lordaeran fleet embarked on their voyage across the sea to Kalimdor. It was the second time Jaina had seen this sight. Unlike before though, the fleet, and the number of survivors, was so much grander. So many civilians had managed to evacuate and avoid their prior fates as Scourge fodder. So many champions who died or were enslaved to the Scourge had lived on. Even those who would have started up the Scarlet Crusade sailed with them, General Abbendis and the would-be Grand Inquisitor Isillen (Only a priest for now) among that number.
There would be no resistance left in Lordaeran this time, crazed or otherwise. Fordring was here as well, on one of the various ships with his son. The Ashbringer would unfourtunatly be stuck in Ironforge, hopefully with him at their side the Dwarven kingdom could survive...
It hadn't been a complete evacuation, they hadn't had the time to wait for every single civilian to be warned, packed, and come to the ships from all corners of Lordaeron. As it was, the ratio of supplies per person was... extreme. They were not going to have enough to cover the entire journey. Fishermen were already given instruction that their profession was now one of the few things that would stand in the way of starvation while they crossed the sea. Fresh water was also a problem. The Magi could conjure in food, but that had its on dangers. Feeding the populous arcane created sustenance for an extended period of time risked magic addiction. If they could stretch their supplies long enough, there shouldn't be a risk of addiction to magically created food.
There was also the fact that Kul'Tiras was evacuating as well. The first time around Kul'Tiras hadn't been heavily involved in the Third War, and had been left alone. The Legion probably hadn't cared, it would have just been clean up if they had succeeded at Hyjal. Now though... shes happy to have her father coming with them, but also dreading it. Her father, and so many others in leadership positions, were incredibly biased against the Horde. Not that she wasn't herself, but Thrall's Horde could see reason, and old hatreds could so easily ruin it.
She might have Arthas on her side for that, but he was still only a Prince, he might not hold enough influence, especially if he was considered biased in her favor. Still... she doesn't have any census numbers, but they surely had to have saved at least seventy percent of both Lordaeran and Quel'Thalas's population, hopefully. It was an extreme difference. It was going to also be an extreme problem when claiming territory came into play after Hyjal. If things worked out well between the High Elves and the Night Elves then maybe their people's would merge. Lordaeran and Kul'Tiras... she doesn't think Dustwallow Marsh has enough dry land to fit even one nation in it...
She hears a rumble from her stomach, and conjures a biscuit to nibble on, determined to tap into their supplies as little as possible.
"Is conjured food actually healthy?" asked Arthas skeptically as he leaned on the ship's railing, eying his lands fading away with loss and regret.
Jaina hummed briefly, not doing the stupid thing and asking how he is obviously feeling. "It's magically created food, its more arcane than it is physical. Eating nothing but it is a terrible idea."
"I'll be sure to remind you of that then," he mused.
Jaina smiled a little. "Pest."
He sighed and rubbed his face tiredly. "How long did the journey take the first time around?"
"A month," she said after making sure no one else was close enough to listen, "But that was with decent weather. We're leaving months earlier than before, I can't predict what the weather will be like."
"A month," he echoed, sighing, "We're all going to be strangling eachother by the half-way mark crammed together as we are."
Jaina snorted. "Probably."
He continued to stare out at Lordaeran in silence until it was to far away to see. "You know they're not going to leave it at what you said in Dalaran. They'll want to know more. Hells, I want to know more as much as I dread any answers."
Jaina licked her lips. "I know. I'll... deal with it as it comes up. Light knows my parents are going to have a screaming fit with me as it is."
He nods. "I recall your father mentioning wanting to talk to you. Perhaps sooner rather than later then."
"Getting rid of me already?" she teased.
Arthas didn't rise to the bait, just continued to look back towards his homeland. "Not in those words. But I do... I do wish to be alone for the time being."
Jaina's smile left her lips and she nodded solemnly. "Alright, just know that you're not alone Arthas."
He nods, but doesn't answer otherwise. She leaves him to his grief, making her way around the deck until she's at the opposite end, watching soft waves come come and nudge the ship as they part through the seas. It had been a long while since she had a journey like this. Once she had gotten into the habit of teleporting everywhere, or there had simply not been enough time to wait crossing the sea. She had spent a vast majority of her life on land, but she was born of Kul'Tiras, the sea was in her bones, the sound of the waves a comforting noise...
Counter to what Arthas said, her parents downright avoided her, looking uncertain whenever they were in the same room. King Teranas gave her an unreadable expression whenever they crossed paths, saying nothing. Uther spent most of his time in quiet contemplation and meditation, and Antonidas was busy teleporting to various ships and holding meetings with the mages and leadership, probably still trying to re-create the Council of Six. Jaina ended up, more often than not, dining with Arthas or alone. Considering space on the ship, it was a given she and Arthas shared a sleeping space, and they did their best to help eachother forget their woes each night with their passion.
She knew it wasn't going to last forever, and about a week into their journey, her father finally came and found her. "Jaina."
"Father," she answered, tipping her head and looking away from the sea.
"There is a meeting scheduled for an hour, we wish for you to attend," he said.
"What about?" she asked.
"We need to know everything you know about the Burning Legion and the Scourge, anything you may have held back or not considered important the first disclosure," he said, taking care to keep a neutral voice.
She nodded. "I've spilled most of what I know about the Scourge, as for the Legion..."
She sighed. "I know of a few of their more powerful members, some of their leadership, what they ultimately want with our world."
"Aside from killing everyone on it?" he asked dryly.
"That's secondary to Archimonde's primary goal," she answered softly.
His eyebrows furrowed. "I'm not sure, my daughter, I truly wish to know how exactly you know these things."
She smiled a little, sadly. "I'm not a Scourge cultist and I'm not an agent of the Burning Legion, I stand against everything they wish to do."
"I know, child," he answered firmly, "But..."
He shook his head. "A parent will always worry, especially when you refuse to confide in either me or your mother."
She returned to looking out at the sea. "I do what I must, father, with little regret. I have to consider all possibilities and outcomes, something I've been careless with since this began. I... I can't afford to make any more mistakes."
"And you don't think having someone's opinion on the matter would help with that?" he asked.
"Considering your and other's bias, no, it wont," she rebutted, steel entering her voice.
She didn't want to have this conversation with her father, not so damn soon.
"Biased?" he demanded, "You considered me... about what?"
"If the fate of the world depended on a temporary alliance with the Horde to fight the demons, would you do it?" she asked, eying him.
The flash of pure and utter hate in his eyes answers her question. "How could you even think of such a thing, Jaina! They killed your brother! Caused unbelievable damage and suffering, for all we know they are in cahoots with the Burning Legion!"
"I have my answer then," was all she said, disinterest in her voice, going silent.
He stands there for a moment, fuming, before abruptly turning and stalking away.
"Well, that's not a question I expected," came Kael'Thas's voice.
She turns her head to see the Elven Prince approach and stand next to her, eyes out to the sea. "What would your answer be?"
He frowned for a long moment. "It shouldn't be my answer to give, but my father is slow to heal from the necromantic magic Kel'Thuzad inflicted on him, especially without the Sunwell."
"That doesn't answer the question."
He sighed. "You seem certain of this needing to happen, why?"
"The Horde sailed across the sea already, fleeing from the whispers of doom the Prophet spoke of," she answered, "There is no chance we wont encounter them. We cannot afford to enter into a war with the Horde when the Legion is coming at our backs. Getting into a war on the footsteps of the Night Elves lands wont exactly endear us to them either."
Especially if spilled into Ashenvale Forest.
Kael nods thoughtfully. "You've put thought into this."
"A lot more than I did at the beginning," she answers softly, "Allying with both the Horde and the Night Elves might be our only chance to stop Archimonde."
"Might?" he asked, "You believe there might be another?"
She hesitated. "I've considered going for the Dragonflights and trying to draw them into the conflict, a few of the Dragon Aspects together might be able to face Archimonde, but..."
She shook her head. "They should already BE aware."
That was something she never got an answer for the first time around. Why had none of the Dragonflights helped at Hyjal? At any point of the Third War? She knew the Red and Blue flights weren't exactly in the best of shapes, and the Emerald had the nightmare to deal with, but if Archimonde had won at Hyjal, none of that would have mattered, they'd all have died. The Black Dragonflight was corrupted by the Old Gods, yes, but self-preservation was a powerful thing, and the Bronze... she didn't think the Infinite Dragonflight had started up until after the Dark Portal had become active again...
Not that she wanted the Bronze to come anywhere near her, but if it was a matter of her life or the world's she'd get the Bronze Dragonflight involved even if they ended up killing her as punishment for meddling with time.
"The Draonglfights rarely involve themselves in the plight of mortals," agreed Kael, "But you are correct, the circumstances are... extreme."
Jaina rubbed her face tiredly for a long moment, thinking and weighing possibilities and dangers. "The least I could do is send a familiar to request their aid. Its a lot more difficult to deny knowledge or responsibility if you are directly asked."
Kael huffed. "While I agree with you, don't expect a quick response if you do, Dragons tend to matters at their own speed."
That thought is as humorous as it is sad, perhaps the Dragonflights spent the Third War arguing in meetings among themselves if they should get involved. She dearly hopes not, or she'd have lost what little faith she had in them. Still... she conjures a parchment of paper and places it against the ships railing before making a quill-pen as well. She takes her time to give word of the Undead, of the struggles of Lordaeron and the High Elves, and the arrival of the Burning Legion. She makes to sign it before Kael stays her hand.
"Such a thing should wait until the meeting," he offers, "I will sign it on behalf of my father, and perhaps both your own and King Terenas will sign it as well as an official request for aid."
She nods, rolling it up and slipping the letter into her robes. She stands there for a while, eyebrows furrowed in thought, weighing what to say at the upcoming meeting, before Kael finally nudges her and motions below deck. She resists the urge to sigh, when she is lead into the ships mess deck, filled to the brim with people. Terenas, her father, her mother, Arthas, Antonidas, Abbendis Senior, Uther, Sylvannas, and more, the area was loaded with those of various ranks, even the hallway outside of the room is littered with human and elves. This meeting was far more open than most of the prior ones.
Terenas motions to the other end of the table he sits at, and Jaina sits down; the King clears his throat and calls the room to order. "This will be the first such meeting to organize and prepare our people for the survival of our races, and to face the Undead and the Burning Legion. I am aware that many of those gathered lack information on the events leading up the the Demonic Invasion that destroyed Dalaran, I ask for patience in these proceedings, information can be distributed and explained afterwards, I ask that this not detract into a disorganized riot. Tensions are rightfully high, but we must stand strong, and united, if we are to survive this."
His eyes gaze around the room, looking for any disagreement, but finds none that are obvious, perhaps a few that look offput or ancy or tense, but not enough to comment on. "As such, myself, Prince Sunstrider, Archmage Antonidas, and Lord Admiral Proudmoore will be the primary speakers, along with Jaina Proudmoore as our primary source of information. If you develop questions you wish to be asked, either approach your superior officer, or someone who can pass your question along or answer it for you, after the meeting to be discussed next time. Unless it is critically important, I do not want these proceedings interrupted."
He waits for a moment before turning his gaze to Jaina, and she focuses on him, if she's honest, he looks like he's aged a decade since Dalaran fell. "Jaina Proudmoore, what can you tell us, in detail, about the Burning Legion?"
"The Burning Legion is a vast host of Demonic Entities led primarily by the will of the Dark Titan Sargeras, with the commanding of the Legion dived up between Archimonde the Defiler, and Kil'Jaeden the Deceiver," she began, "They have existed since well before our time, before the first of the elves were born, far beyond into history. Their purpose is to unmake and remake creation in their image, putting all worlds to the flame and corrupting any race they desire with fel energy. They will use any means necessary to do so, brute force enslavement, or deception and treachery as with the Orcish Horde."
Terenas shifted in his seat. "As I understand, you have spoken briefly of this before. Considering that you mentioned to your father that an alliance with the Horde may be necessary..."
There was a murmuring and angry scoffs around the room that made the King glare pointedly around for silence before he turned to Jaina, "Regardless of my own extreme distrust and disgust with the Horde, how can we possibly entertain such a notion? Even if the Horde had not laid waste and slaughtered so many, if they are demonically influenced... What exactly do you know of the Horde's... 'demonic conversion'?"
"I don't know all of the details, but I have a general understanding of it," she said, "The Demon Kil'Jaeden approached the Orc Gul'dan as his agent to corrupt the Orcs, who had been a shamanistic race at the time separated into clans. Through fel magic, Gul'dan deceived and manipulated each clan's shamans into a war on their homeworld against another race, near wiping them out, believing in their 'spirit's warning'. As a 'reward'," Jaina spat out, "The Demon Mannaroth gave his blood for the Orc's to drink, inflicting a blood curse upon them and filling them with incredible bloodlust, increased physical and fel power, and turning their skin green, from brown, as a sign of the fel influence. Gul'Dan helped to open the Dark Portal, and the rest is history."
Terenas frowned intently. "The Orcs are still tainted green, and are still bloodthristy last I knew."
"It's a taint that they are forever going to have to bear," admitted Jaina, "But, for those who have been to their internment camps before, once the bloodlust ran its course, without further demonic influence the Orcs reverted to their shamanistic ways. The current Horde is led by their warcheif and shaman, Thrall...
"Blackmoore's pet orc?" asked Terenas in disdain.
"I highly advise you never refer to him that way to his face," she warned, "But yes, he used to be Blackmoore's slave and gladiator."
Teranas rubbed his chin. "I had ordered Blackmoore to find his loose Orc, he instead became their warcheif. What was he thinking training and educating an orc..."
Terenas shook his head and waved a hand. "Continue."
Jaina eyed him, just a tad worried that if they entered negotiations with the Horde that Terenas would doom them with such an attitude. "Your Majesty... what exactly do you know of that whole event? With Blackmoore's death?"
"Little aside from the Horde ended up destroying Durnholde," admitted the King.
Jaina closed her eyes, bitterness crossing her face. She still could remember the grief on Thrall's face the first time he had spoken of Taretha. "From what I know, Thrall is not entirely opposed to the alliance because of his fair treatment by a woman who went by the name of Taretha Foxton. From what I heard, he razed Durnholde to the ground because Blackmoore murdered her and threw her severed head at Thrall. He would have spared the base and its men, aside from the survivors he let go, if Blackmoore hadn't done that."
Teranas scrunched his nose. "Blackmoore was long a fool and a traitor, that he invited his own destruction doesn't surprise me, the details that you know over what little was reported by the survivors does however. You know things that I imagine were rather personal to this 'Thrall', how? Have you talked to this orc?"
She's aware of there being a lack of a truth spell active this time, she can freely lie if she so wish, but simply goes for a half truth. "'This' Thrall? No."
Judging by the raised eyebrow Arthas gives her from his spot in the room, he caught what she said.
"Then how do you know this?" asked Terenas.
She smiled. "I have my ways."
Teranas sighed loudly.
Antonidas chose to speak, "Jaina, your penchant for secrets is becoming a vexing thing. How can we trust..."
"We've been over this before, Antonidas," interrupted Jaina sharply, "It's your choice if you wish to trust my words or not. I will say my peace, and answer most of your questions, but not on the source of my information."
Antonidas grumbled under his breath.
Jaina cleared her throat. "As for the Orc's bloodthirstiness... I won't make excuses for them, they doomed themselves on Dreanor, deception or not, and much of that still lingers. Whether they can overcome that or not largely rests on their leadership's guidance."
On that note...
"Is... the Elder Fordring present?" asked Jaina, glancing around.
Teranas narrowed his eyes. "He was not invited to this gathering."
Jaina pursed her lips, irritated. "Considering what he was banished over, he would serve as one of the few the Horde would most likely be willing to treat with."
Terenas scoffs under his breath.
Kael leans forward in his seat. "You were planning that from the beginning, weren't you, when you asked for Uther to seek Fordring out."
Jaina has a moment of ungraded surprise at being predicted before nodding. "If we failed to stop the Legion from being summoned, I knew we'd most likely need to deal with the Horde in a civil manner."
"I remain unconvinced," came the voice of her farther, harsh and judgemental.
Jaina turned her gaze to him, also noting the tensing of her mother. "Would you doom us all over past sins? I won't call the Horde innocent of their crimes, you lost a son, my brother, to them, they killed so many innocents during the war, so many lives were lost..."
And she had lost so much more in her time.
"...but the literal end of the world matters more than old hatreds, we cannot win a war where we're fighting the Horde and then the Legion comes at us from behind," said Jaina, "Especially if we're winning against the Horde, as I doubt that can take almost three nations worth of opposition, and we drive them into the Legion's arms for survival."
Oh, that would be absolutely catastrophic. Grom Hellscream empowered by Mannaroth's fresh blood had been able to kill Cenarius, a demigod. If the entire Horde went Legion, and Thrall was somehow drawn into that mess rather than standing against it... she didn't think the world would survive it.
Her father's jaw is strong set however.
Jaina sets her own. "I love you father, but I won't doom the world over your hatred. If I have to call in question your leadership over the people of Kul'Tiras, I will, there is procedure and precedent for it."
His anger turns into a shocked and gutted expression. "Jaina!"
She doesn't back down, narrowing her eyes at him, standing up, her voice turning harsh and commanding, demanding attention, "Getting into a war at the doorstep of the Night Elves' lands will not endear us to them. We cannot defeat the Legion without the Night Elves, and I have doubts that we could do it without the Horde as well. What you need to get through your head, through ALL of your thick heads, is that we are facing the END of the world, the Burning Legion will kill us all. Nothing else but stopping them matters. I will do whatever it takes, sully and bloody my hands and my reputation as much as I have to, in order to defeat them. Anyone not capable of understanding this, and working to do what must be done, has no place in a leadership position against the Legion."
There is a heavy and stunned silence across the room.
"Can you accept that, father?" she demanded.
Daelin Proudmoore closed his eyes for a long minute, what felt like one of the longest in Jaina's life. She might have permanently ruined her relationship with her father, but so long as he lives, so long as they all live, she'll suffer it. He opens his eyes and gives a crisp, sharp nod, his lips pursed. Jaina doesn't show any emotional reaction despite her relief. She merely turns to glance at Kael, Terenas, and then Antonidas, waiting for their nods as well.
"Good, now, someone go teleport to the ship Fordring is on and get him in here," she ordered.
She sits back down, watching Antonidas as he goes. The room is heavily silent, regarding her with various intensity and emotion, for a few minutes before Antonidas returns with Tirion, speaking to him quietly, most likely updating him on whats been said. Tirion looks briefly uncomfortable with the focus on him, but schools his face and glances at Jaina with a puzzled look.
"You asked for me Lady Proudmoore?"
"The Orc you were banished for helping, do you recall his name?" asked Jaina.
Tirion is wary, but nods. "He goes by the name of Eitrigg."
She already knew the answer, but asked, "Do you know if he joined the Orcish Horde?"
"Yes," said Tirion, a single word, nothing else given.
Jaina frowned. "At ease Tirion, you are not under trial or scrutiny. We may need to approach the Horde to ally with and fight against the Demons. You, and the Orc you fought for, may be a key way to broach the subject with them."
Tirion gave her a thoughtful look, eyes flickering around the room to judge how people seem to look at Jaina. "It's possible, Eitrigg told me he considered me what he called an 'Honor Brother'. If we encounter him, he may be willing to speak on my behalf, but I know nothing else of his fellow orcs."
"That's fine, please, find a spot to join the gathering, you should be included in this," she says.
She will not let her old irritation and anger with Tirion blind her to how much he will be needed, she can't afford it. He gives her another appraising look before he does so.
"We will shelve the mater of the Horde until we make landfall on Kalimdor," said Terenas, "Continue where you left off of the Legion. You mentioned their leadership, Archimonde was summoned at Dalaran, what do you know of him?"
"That he's the single most powerful being on Azeroth as of the moment," said Jaina.
She's not sure if an Old God could beat Archimonde or not, weakened and barely free of their imprisonment, probably not, but at their full power? Her knowledge of primordial times is limited. She knows that the dead old god Y'Shaarj required direct Titan intervention to kill, but the others? It was probably a moot point to think about, even considering of the Old Gods as a potential ally is insane and suicidal at best. She's not going to trade one enemy for another just as much, if not more insidious, than Archimonde himself.
"His power is unmatched, I warned you once that we could assemble the entirety of the Silver Hand and Dalaran and not come close to defeating him, and I meant it," she said, "He is incredibly intelligent and cunning, but, his weakness is his arrogance, his impatience, and his vanity."
"And you believe we can use this to our advantage?" asked Terenas.
"Not on our own, no, and especially not with all of his primary lieutenants alive," said Jaina, "But the Night Elves are watched over by their demigod Cenarius, and yes, demigods are real. Cenarius cannot defeat Archimonde on his own, but with all of our aid, and perhaps from the strength of the World Tree itself, he can be beaten."
"What is this 'World Tree'?" asked Terenas.
"It's the Legion's main objective," said Jaina, "It is a tree empowered by the Dragonflights to block access to, and contain, the Well of Eternity, the most powerful font of Arcane Power on Azeroth. The original Well of Eternity is what drew the Burning Legion here to begin with. That, is Archimonde's intended target, he wants to completely drain it's arcane power, and through it, all the leylines of Azeroth. If he succeeds..."
She shakes her head. "We'll, we'd all be dead by then."
Kael huffed. "Demons, he already has that much power and yet he craves more. I do so hope we can make his greed be the death of him."
Well, here's hoping Kael keeps that attitude should he ever run into Kil'Jaeden.
Jaina nods and shifts to the next topic. "Mannaroth is Archimonde's chief lieutenant. I... had originally thought him nothing but a brute to be bested," how could she not? He'd died so easily to Grom Hellscream, twice in two separate timelines, "His spellcraft took me completely by surprise. What I sensed from him..."
She shook her head and glanced at Antonidas. "I'm not sure that even together we could overcome his spellcraft, break even if we're lucky, but he'd overwhelm either of us alone."
Antonidas nodded his troubled head. "A behemoth of a warrior yet wielding arcane powers above most, he is going to be incredibly difficult to deal with."
"He IS a priority target though, regardless of that difficulty," said Jaina, "Its his blood that curses the Orcs, if he dies, we prevent him from dominating them."
Kael rubbed his chin in thought before speaking. "So, he can what, control them by proximity then? Is that what you're implying?"
She hesitated. "I think he would either need to infuse them with fel magic, or trick them into drinking his blood again in order to control them. His presence is likely to increase their bloodlust though."
"Best to have it aimed at the demons then should that be the path we take, but enough of the Horde, does this Mannaroth have any weaknesses?" asked Kael.
"Aside from suicidaly diving through enemy lines?" she asked dryly, "None that I'm aware of. He is extremely overconfident in his abilities, with reason of course, but, if he isolates himself, perhaps he can be overcome, or if enough of our champions can deal with him..."
"I'd say its an Orc problem," came her Father's voice.
She turned her gaze on him, lips pursed. Both of them ignore the sigh Terenas gave over not dropping the subject of the Orcs.
Father held up a hand to forestall Jaina's words. "If everything you say about the corruption of the Orcs is true, then should it not be their responsibility to deal with Mannaroth? To prove themselves above their brutish savagery and pay penance?"
Oh Father... why hadn't he listened to such an argument the first time around? Yet here he was giving it himself...
"It would be an act of atonement," she agreed quietly, "But the option may not be feasible if Mannaroth attacks us again. I'm all for the Horde cleaning up their mess, but if we have the chance to kill him, especially if we can do it without heavy losses, not taking it would be foolish."
Father nods and goes silence, satisfied, but that flame of hate still flickers in his eyes. Perhaps this wasn't him believing it, but taking the only road he could that wouldn't have her call his leadership into question. This wasn't him isolated with his navy. The entirety of Kul'Tiras sailed with them, and Jaina had yet to lose her people's faith and trust, even if she potentially had lost her parent's.
Her lips purse as she thinks of a certain dreadlord. "Tichondrious is another incredibly dangerous demon, he is the leader of the Dreadlords, and the one who stole the Book of Medivh. He is incredibly cunning, but from what I'm aware of, he prefers to manipulate and control things from the sidelines unless its required he personally get involved. That said, even if we could corner him alone somehow, do not expect an easy fight. I believe he is the one who conjured the storm of infernals at Dalaran."
"He is adept at summoning more demons then?" inquired Kael.
Jaina nodded, "Yes."
Kael inquired, "Could he have summoned Archimonde himself then with the Book? If so, why would they have needed Kel'Thuzad?"
That question catches her offguard. "I... don't know."
She frowns thoughtfully. "Tichondrious is one of the more powerful demons within the Burning Legion, capable of powerful spellcraft. But, he's also one of the few demons that could slip into our world without needing to be summoned. Perhaps it was beyond his power, or perhaps we're simply underestimating the kind and amount of actual power necessary to call forth a demon like Archimonde. Kel'Thuzad was only recently reborn from the Sunwell, perhaps its lingering energy within him was necessary. Even more than that, they preformed the summoning at Dalaran, with the Laylines below them to draw from."
"Perhaps," said Kael, noncommittal, "What other demons need we be wary of?"
"Hakkar the Houndmaster," said Jaina, "He is especially dangerous towards mages. He is the Houndmaster of the Burning Legion, breeding various types of felhounds for different purposes. We can likely blame that kind of demon's ability to disrupt and combust magic energy on him. He will never be caught alone, and is capable of summoning hordes of felhounds at will. Beyond that, he is a Fel Lord, most of his form burned away from his molten fel energy, bound together by a burning skeleton and his demonic armor. He wields an enchanted whip and is incredibly fast and aggressive in combat, though he is not close to the kind of behemoth a Pit Lord is. Any attempt to flee from him will end up in you being run down and torn apart."
"Best fought by our Paladins then," suggested King Terenas.
Jaina hesitated. "Hakkar himself, yes. But the Paladins would want footmen and knight support, the felhound's ability to burn through mana would cripple paladins in a drawn out fight."
Teranas nods in contemplation before motioning for her to continue.
"Commander wise, the only other one worth mentioning would be the doomlord Kazzak," said Jaina, "He is a legion field commander a bit under Mannaroth in strength and influence, but he is said to be one of Kil'Jaeden's more favored underlings. He is a tricky opponent to face, and incredibly inadvisable to fight in a congested battlefield. He, from what I know, prefers many abilities that cover a wide area, and can drain the life off of multiple opponents at once..."
She had heard of many failed attempts to kill Kazzak in Outland because of that.
"...as such, he is best fought by a small group of powerful individuals," she advised.
She waited for them to absorb the information before continuing, "Underneath these ones are several powerful lieutenants that we should be aware of. Next in line after Mannaroth is a Pit Lord known as Azgalor. He runs in the same vein as his commander, but is much weaker. Under Tichondrious is Anetheron, lesser in power and more frontline than his commander, a high priority target to overwhelm and kill. I'm not aware if there is a successor to Hakkar, but I imagine there is. Finally, Kazzak has two lieutenants, Razelikh, a dreadlord, and another doomlord called Kaz'Rogal."
She takes in a deep breath and slowly lets it out. "Now, there are various demonic races in the Burning Legion. I am going to detail them, and tactics best used against them in open combat, that I would like passed down the chain of command..."
Its roughly an hour later of speaking and questions before the meeting is drawn to a close. She briefly meets with the leadership about sending a familiar to the Dragonflights, and does so, but before she can leave afterwards...
Her mother cautiously approached as it was wrapping up. "Jaina, your father and I... would like to talk, in private."
Jaina closes her eyes for a long moment, stress lining her face. She knew this was coming... but oh did she not want to do this. "Alright."
She catches Arthas's eye as she leaves with her parents, a questioning look in his gaze, but she shakes her, she can do this on her own, as much as she would like his support. She follows them quietly into their room. Father leans heavily against the wall, Mother sits on the bed, hands clasped together, and Jaina stands by the door, eyes not quit on her parents, but the space between them. None of them speak at first, collecting themselves; Jaina listens to the waves outside the ship in an attempt to calm herself before the confrontation.
"That meeting was well handled," starts of her Father in a calm tone, "Almost like you've spoken in front of masses of subordinates in a commanding and perhaps military fashion, before many a high ranking person with very little hesitation. Yet, to my knowledge, you have little such experience in doing so."
Well, let it not be said Father did not pay attention to detail.
"You certainly did not hesitate to call me out in such a manner as to question my leadership before a large gathering," he snapped at her when her only response was silence.
"Nor would I have hesitated if you forced me to carry through with it," said Jaina, turning her gaze to meet her father.
"The Horde ravaged their way across the world," snarled Daelin, "They killed your brother!"
"Do you think I don't know this?" she snarled back, "You think I am unaware of everything the Horde took from me?"
They took so much more from her than they ever did him.
"Do you think I do not understand the dangers of allying with the Horde? Of letting them grow into their own nation of people?" said Jaina in an icy tone, "I understand it completely. Another war between whats left of the Alliance and the Horde would be disastrous, but you know what?"
She walks up to him, and speaks with venom. "The Burning Legion is worse. So I will put aside all of my hatred for the Horde, and believe me, while I respect some of them, I hate the majority, in order to safeguard our world from the flame."
And oh did her hate run deep after Theramore, after everything Garrash had done.
There is a flicker of surprise in her Fathers eyes, calculating and curious. "You do hate them."
"Yes, I do, but you know what? I understand how to let it go," she said in frustration, "We wont survive otherwise, but believe me, if after the Burning Legion is defeated, the Horde starts to revert to its old ways, I will take action."
If Thrall EVER makes Garrosh Warchief of the Horde again, she would kill Garrosh without hesitation and without question, damn the consequences afterwards. Though, if she can keep the Dark Portal from being activated, Hellscream's spawn can rot in Outland for the rest of his life. They'd all be better for it.
She turns and steps away from him, sighing, "I am sorry that I had to do that father, but I can't risk us getting into a confrontation with the Horde while the Legion snaps at our heels. Even if you and others loathe me for it, I will do what I must to save our people."
Katherine spoke quietly, but firmly, "When Jaina, did you learn to make such harsh choices? Choices that would be expected of an experience leader, not a young woman. Where did your youth go? Was it truly robbed of you so soon?"
"A lot sooner than I would have liked," answered Jaina bitterly, "But life, and demons, rarely cares for such things."
"How soon we're you fighting demons under Aegwynn?" asked Katherine, "You know far to much about facing demons, and their ranks and individuals, for the Loss of Dalaran to have been your first time facing them."
She gives a distant, "Years ago."
Truth from a certain point of view anyway. Hells, she is pretty sure she was fighting demons and undead longer in the original timeline than this body had been alive. There is the urge for hysterical tears at that notion, but she crushes the impulse.
Katherine shakes her head in grief and disappointment. "I'll be having words with Aegwynn should we cross paths."
Hmm... well, if she did manage to recruit Aegwynn, she'd need to tell her the truth and get her to agree to her cover story.
Her father sighs. "Jaina... I am displeased over what you just did, furious if I'm honest, but I do not loathe you for it. You are my daughter, and as much as I feel that I do not know you anymore, I will always love you."
Jaina's throat constricts as her eyes burn with tears. "I... I love you too papa."
She can still remember his death so clearly, how she had stood aside and let it happen, how her mother had hated her for it...
Daelin exhales. "I will warn you, if the Horde takes offense against us..."
"I'll deal with it personally and involve Thrall," cut in Jaina, "Thrall is perhaps the only Orc I will ever truly trust, Father, I want you to understand that. He is young, was born after the wars, he had no involvement with it. For all the problems his race has, Thrall rises above much of them."
Even before they had fought against the end of the world together at Hyjal, Thrall had been willing to listen. With Tirion there to help as well, things could go so much smoother. The only issue was of course...
"However, one of his chief commanders is the Orc known as Hellscream," she warned.
Daelin bares his teeth at that.
"I understand your hatred father, but please, please, let me and Tirion handle initial negotiations with the Horde," she begged, "The literal end of the world is riding on this."
Her father scoffs. "I'm not ignorant of that Jaina."
No, but after Hyjal, if her father had even known of that, he had been willing to attack the Orcs. "Even IF we defeat Archimonde, there is still Kil'Jaeden, and..."
Her breathing hitched. "And Sargares."
"Yes, you mentioned him briefly," said Katherine, "I take it he's even more dangerous than his lackeys?"
A brief hysterical laugh escapes Jaina's lips. "You have no idea. Even when he was possessing Medivh..."
"When he was WHAT?!" exclaimed Daelin.
Jaina freezes, a whisper escaping her lips. "You... you didn't know?"
"I thought that was common knowledge!" exclaimed Jaina.
"Common... JAINA!" roared Daelin, "Most people in the world don't even know he existed! I barely knew a damn thing about the Guardian aside that he was corrupted and opened the Dark Portal. How could you think that is common knowledge?"
Jaina closed her eyes, a hiss escaping her lips. Was this a secret Khadgar, Lothar, and King Llane had kept? Or... or had that information been lost? Llane had been assassinated, Lothar died to Doomhammer, Khadgar had been lost to Outland. Aegwynn had retreated into her exile. Perhaps there had been no one left alive who had known. The war had been happening, there might not have been time to spread the word. To prove Medivh innocent of the sins he was accused of. He had been possessed, light above she hadn't known until Khadgar had told her.
"Does Antonidas even know?" she whispered to herself, stunned.
Or did he just think the man had gone mad after dabbling with fel power?
"I don't know," said Katherine, "But you are going to march out there and tell him, now. That is information far to important to let slide in the chance he doesn't know, because anything known to Medivh would therefor be known to the Legion, and that is important to know."
Jaina nods shakily and leaves. She finds Antonidas and Kael speaking to one another in the corner of the meeting room and approaches.
"Master," she says, drawing his attention and interrupting the conversation.
He frowns briefly, an awkwardness to his stance in speaking to her. "Yes Jaina?"
"I'm going to ask you a question," she says warily, "Did you know that Medivh had been possessed by Sargeras?"
Antonidas's eyes bulge. "He was WHAT?!"
Kael looks at her, stunned. "How? When?"
She swallows and tells them Aegwynn's story, about fighting the Avatar of Sargeras, about how he hid his essence within the Guardian of Trisfal and bid his time, about possessing Medivh before he was even born, manipulating his thoughts and influencing his actions until he awakened during the battle with Khadgar and Lothar. By the time she finishes, far more than just the Magi are listening. King Teranas listens in grim silence, his children at his side. Uther and Fordring stand side by side, if but for conserving space with the ring of people around them. Many generals and leaders are listening in.
"Is there a way to check for this?" asks Abbendis, "If the demons can secret in a possession like that under the nose of a former Guardian..."
"Sargeras is a Fallen Titan," she explained, "He is far above any demon. Checking for a normal possession I think would work for regular instances, but not for him."
"Jaina," says Arthas slowly, "Perhaps your time with Aegwynn has biased your experiences, but possession is NOT normal. I've never had experience facing demons until Dalaran. Checking for and exercising one is well beyond my knowledge and experience."
Jaina opened and closed her mouth in the span of a few seconds, hesitating. "Ah..."
Perhaps she was biased, in experience and knowledge if this was any indication. Perhaps that was why Dathrohan had never been outed as a Dreadlord until it was far to late for the Scarlet Crusade in the original timeline. The problem is... she's not sure how to teach this, to sense for subtle corruption. Its not easy...
"Something to consider for later," suggested Kael, a frown on his face, "If Sargeras was truly possessing Medivh... does that mean it was the Book of Sargeras more than it was the Book of Medivh?"
That question caught her offguard, and then chills her to her core. That connection had NEVER occurred to her, and it should have. That the spells in that book might be more than Medivh and his arcane but demonic influenced knowledge. That Sargeras might have put spells in that book...
She swallows thickly as a thought hits her. Was the spell to rip apart a timeline to create another something from Sargeras? She could hardly fathom a mortal man, even a Guardian, knowing how to do that... oh blessed light... was that really how Tichondrious knew about the spell? Had he been commanded by the Fallen Titan to seek it out incase of his defeat? Had she truely played into the Dark Titan's hands by doing so?
Antonidas takes a look at her shaken face and comes to his own conclusion. "The cunning of a demon, a Fallen Titan as you say, to place that book with its spells to summon a demon lord years later in-case the orcs failed..."
He shakes his head. "And we fell for it. We should have destroyed the book when we had the chance."
"Well, I hadn't personally known Medivh," admitted Kael, "But... its truly unfortunate, that he never had a chance to be himself."
"Demons are insidious vile things," says Uther, "Corrupting anything and everything."
Antonidas pulls on his beard. "I need to think on this."
He turns to Jaina and motions to Kael. "When you have a moment, Prince Sunstrider would like to pick your brain on... something that is begining to bother him and his people."
Jaina put away her thoughts and nodded, turning to Kael. "Yes?"
He walks forward and puts a hand on her shoulder. "If you would come with me to my father's ship? It is a... delicate matter."
She nods. "Of course."
And Jaina's breathing hitches when they arrive in a makeshift infirmary. There are dozens of pale and sickly elves laying on beds. She had seen Wretched before, this was only a step or two above that state. "Oh light..."
"You understand what you are seeing then?" asked Kael.
She nods sharply. "Withdrawal from losing access to the Sunwell."
Kael lets out a heavy breath. "As I feared."
"It's worse than you fear," she warned, "So much worse, this is only going to get more dangerous."
"It will kill them?" he asked.
"Worse, it will warp them," she stressed, "If they cannot sate their addiction and succumb to it, they... they'll degrade, their bodies withering. They'll hunger to consume any form of magic they can. From others even, willingly or not, it... it could make them vulnerable to demons who would offer fel energy to sate them."
Kael closes his eyes, lips pursed, a pinched look on his face. "This is something we don't need right now."
He opened his eyes and looked to her. "Do you have any idea how to deal with this?"
"The Kirin Tor can be used as a stopgap," she answered, "We can steadily feed small bits of arcane energy to stave off the worst of it, but that's only a temporary fix, and cannot continue once we make landfall. We will need our full power to handle the Scourge and the Legion."
"Then what is to be done?" he whispered.
She hesitated. "The Night Elves might be able to do something for your people. Your father is going to need to make a decision along with their leadership..."
"No, he wont," said Kael softly, tiredly, "I will."
She blinked at him.
Kael sighed. "My father... has not recovered from his wounds. Even with the help of priests and paladins... the severe injuries and necromantic affliction, coupled with the loss of the Sunwell... he ruled for almost three thousand years. He was far more entwined and addicted to the energies of the Sunwell than most of our people. He is not believed to live through the next few days."
Jaina stared at him, stunned. "Kael... I'm so sorry."
Kael nodded grimly, pained. "I'm going to have to take my father's place as the king..."
He huffed bitterly. "King of a land no longer ours, of a people without a home."
"Seek out the Night Elves, Kael," she begged, "Don't make the same mistake others have, pride and past angers and hatreds arn't worth it."
"I never said I wouldn't," he says softly, "But first we have to survive the journey."
Jaina nods. "I'll help where I can, and I can start immediately. You need to go get Antonidas and have him address the Kirin Tor and have him distribute the Archmagi. This has to be managed quickly before it can become worse."
"I will," he answers before waving a hand through the infirmary, "They need your immediate aid, afterwords... I ask that you help with the children. We keep our children, who are our treasure, protected in the middle of the fleet along with the elderly. Many would rather suffer this addiction than let the children experience it even for a moment."
She nods and moves, walking to each bed, placing a hand on each elf, and pulsing a bit of arcane magic into their bodies. They gasp in surprise, some instinctively clasping her hand and trying to take more. She doesn't blame them for it, but she has enough firm control to stop the attempts before they regain control of themselves, offering her ashamed apologies. When she's finished, Kael teleports her to another ship, filled with High Elven children, some playing cheerfully, some pale and lethargic...
Jaina is ashen at the sight of children suffering from magic addiction and withdrawal. So, she, with the help of their caretakers, gathers the worst to her. She sits in their midst, surrounding by the needy and suffering, carefully feeding enough arcane energy to stave off the worst of it from affecting the children, but not too much. She has to consider managing her reserves. If she gives to much to a few, there wont be enough for all of them. She probably has the most reserves out of the entire Kirin Tor of this time, aside from maybe Antonidas and Kael, so hopefully she can cover this ship herself...
Its hours later that she finishes, feeling exhausted and deeply spent, an ache deep in her bones, resting alone in a cabin. She is surprised to find Sylvanas watching her from the doorway, a soft look on the woman's face. The woman's pale face, her complexity already starting to lose color. Not like the undead Banshee Queen, but not its normal elven radiance. Jaina sighs softly and offers a hand to her.
Sylvanas shakes her head. "That is not what I came here for, I can suffer another few days at least before needing energy wasted on me."
"It's not a waste Sylvanas," said Jaina softly.
She is... surprised, to see the woman smile at her. "I do not say this lightly, Jaina Proudmoore. There are few that have truly earned my trust. Despite your own desires, some that would be considered selfish, you have stood by my people again and again. You warned us of the traitor Magistrate. You risked your reputation and trust with your own people to come to our aid when we were under assault by the Scourge. I was there when you faced Kel'Thuzad empowered by the corrupted Sunwell. You did so without hesitation, and here you are again, helping our most vulnerable without second thought. For all the secrets you keep, I do not doubt your intentions."
Sylvanas takes in a breath and lets it out. "If ever you have a need of me, Jaina, just ask, and I will do what I can to help you."
Jaina is struck speechless, staring at the would-be Banshee Queen. "I..."
Sylvanas merely shakes her head and leaves the tired archmage to rest, not allowing her to argue with her...
"Good evening Jaina."
Jaina startles from her sudden nap, the High Elven children around her giggling at her for it. Little brats, its not like she was here every day giving them energy or anything, that couldn't 'possibly' be why she was tired or anything.
She tiredly rubs her eyes and glances up to see Master Antonidas and Fearlina watching her. "Master, Botanist Fearlina."
"Apprentice Fearlina actually," said the young redhead with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.
Jaina gives her a tired smile. "Congratulations, whose your Master?"
"You are Jaina," answered Antonidas with amusement.
That startles her. "I'm what?"
"Told you she wouldn't find it funny," poked Fearlina.
"With your knowledge and experience, you are certainly not an apprentice yourself anymore," mused Antonidas, shushing Fearlina, "It would be such a waste to not to pass on your... techniques and spellcraft. I'm rather curious to see how you handle teaching."
"B-but Master!" she exclaimed.
"But what Jaina?" he answers mischievously, "Incase you forgot, not only were you the one who scouted her, you already started teaching her back in Brill."
Jaina sputters for a moment. Is this his revenge?
"She did also ask if you would be willing to teach her," said Antonidas.
Jaina flushes at the prospect of anyone wanting to actually be her apprentice. She... might not be in her own timeline with her own failed standing, but still... she hasn't exactly been making many friends since she came back. Well, aside from the elves anyway. "Why would you want me as your master?"
"The hell not?" said Fearlina, incredulous, "I was tagging along as a would-be rifleman and herbalist for the Royal Army when we marched on Scholomance, I saw you slinging spells like there was no tomorrow. I'd love to be able to do even half that. Especially since I was hearing the rank-n-file mages and sorceresses reacting to you. Let me tell you, they were flabbergasted with how you were gunning spells out like you were."
Jaina's blush deepens. "Ah... well..."
Fearlina frowns unhappily. "I mean, if you don't want me as an apprentice..."
Jaina waves her hands. "No no no, that's... that's not it..."
Its just... she'd never actually taken an apprentice before. Given lessons sure, but a full on apprentice? There had been Kinndy Sparkshine at Rhonin's request... but that hadn't lasted more than a few brief period of time before Theramore was bombed and the young gnome died. Jaina had barely even started teaching her, and Kinndy had already gone through basic training. Hells, that gnome had her own drive to teach herself, Jaina had been more of a guide than anything else. In this, she would be teaching Fearlina basically from scratch... not to mention...
"Your specialty is fire magic, I felt that," explained Jaina, not counting the poison spels the woman had learned under the Cult of the Damned's tutelage in the original timeline, "And we're on wooden ships in the middle of the ocean."
Fearlina blinked. "Oh. Well when you put it like THAT."
Jaina smiled a little. "If you really want me as your teacher, I will help you all that I can. But it will be more on the theoretical side of things until we make landfall."
If Fearlina could reach a good level of understanding and power, she'd be a solid addition to the Kirin Tor, and a strong ally against the Legion and the Scourge. Still... she's kind of surprised that Antonidas would consider allowing her an apprentice with everything that had happened. There is a brief flicker of suspicion, of doubt, that perhaps Fearlina had been instructed to spy and keep an eye on her...
She banishes the paranoia as Fearlina gives her a wide, genuine smile. "I appreciate it, Master."
Jaina preens a bit at that, making the elven children giggle again. "Well, alright then. Have a seat and I'll start instructing you on meditation and focus..."
The weeks pass in a slow drain for Jaina.
The meetings, the private talks, teaching Fearlina, coupled with the daily feeding for the elves to sate their magical withdrawal, leaves her so damn tired. Arthas is thankfully understanding, when they retire for the night he never presses her exhausted body for intimacy. Though she does initiate to enjoy the stress relief of their love from time to time. She is more than aware that she's potentially been left out of many leadership meetings while she tends to the elves, partially because of the lack of trust in her. But she lets it slide, so long as they do what needs to be done when the time comes, she doesn't care for petty politics. She's actually kind of relieved to NOT be involved.
She hadn't seen much of Kael since his father's sea burial, the elven king now too busy managing his people. She's heard faint talk around the High Elven caretakers, aparently knowledge of the Night Elves wasn't that common in the regular citizanry, but its being spread, as is the knowledge that they must seek out their brethren for a cure for this addiction. Its not exactly a lie, but... there will be a price if they can get the Night Elves to offer their aid. Any that might join the Priests of Ellune would find it easier, as Jaina was kind of suspicious that the so called 'moon magic' of theirs was Arcane neutralized with a bit of druidism and faith in Ellune. As a whole though, the High Elves will most likely have to give up arcane magic and switch to more natural means.
But that's on them to argue out with the Night Elves.
Jaina has been using her downtime among the High Elven children to think. About the Legion invasion of Kalimdor. The first time around, it hadn't happened until Cenarius had died to Hellscream. But if that doesn't happen, if they all unite under one banner with the Demigod alive... how will the Legion respond? They wouldn't not invade, they had to in order to get to the World Tree. What would happen however would be a far more contested invasion. The armies of Lordaeran, Kul Tiras, and Quel'Thalas would stand alongside the Night Elves and Horde.
They would not be driven back as easily as they had been before. It would be far more bloody and fought out than it had been.
It makes her a little squeamish. Their weakness before the Burning Legion had seen the Night Elves and the Human/Orc forces fall back again and again before they came together at Hyjal for the final battle. This would be a full fledged war, rather than skirmishes and running and praying to lure Archimonde into a trap. As such, Jaina couldn't rely on things going exactly as they did before. She needed to consider... other options...
She already planned to approach Aegwynn after the Horde and the Night Elves were dealt with and hopefully allied, or maybe before, she wasn't sure. The Dark Trolls of the Shadowtooth clan and the Barksin Furblogs had allied with them at Hyjal the first time, so hopefully that would happen again. In fact, she hoped they could keep more of the Furblog clans sane and untainted for more allies. If Cenarius didn't die, then perhaps the rest of the Wild Gods would actually be there to fight the demons. But beyond that...
Jaina was of the mindset that ANY mortal grudges had no place in facing off against the End of the World. The first that came to mind in Kalimdor was the Tauren and the Centaur. If she could draw in the Centaurs to the Allied Forces, she would. Though she imagined Cenarius, the Night Elves, and the Tauren wouldn't exactly be thrilled with that. To that end... perhaps Princess Theradras of the Earth Elementals could be incited to help them and broker an alliance? Her mother, Therazane the Stonemother had been... not exactly helpful, but grudgingly willing to ally with the forces of Azeroth against Deathwing in Deepholme. Theradras had only become a problem in Marudon after her fear for the Centaurs extinction via the Horde, and had incited them to attack. Though... Jaina did faintly recall whispers of corruption from Theradras dead mate's soul being bound to the place... hrm... it was a complicated thing, she might have to discuss it with Cenarius. She hoped she could though, if she could get Theradras on their side, perhaps through her they could also invoke Therazane to help them. Having an actual Elemental Lord on their side could do wonders for their chances, not to mention if she could pass word to the Water Elementals...
The next potential ally was one that made her grimace. She had thought about it earlier when discussing the Dragonflights with Kael. As selfish as the Black Dragons were, they wanted to live. It filled her with a sense of loathing... but Onyxia was alive at this point in time, and if she had to guess, if the Scourge were winning in their attack on the lands of Stormwind as Tichondrius implied, the dragon would high tail it out of there. If she could convince Onyxia's brood to help them... well... it would be a boon, but a stressful one. Cenarius and the Night Elves would not like the alliance, at all. Not to mention if the other Dragonflights actually answered the request for aid, it could become... complicated.
But on that end, of the Black Dragonflight... there was one who had existed in the future. Wrathion. The Black Prince. A black dragon purified as an egg. It WAS possible to cleanse the Black Dragonflight of the Old God's corruption. She is vaguely aware of the Eye of the Watchers, a titan artifact kept in Uldaman in the Trove of the Watchers, that it had been used to cleanse the Old God's taint. She's not sure if that artifact can cleanse a fully grown dragon, but perhaps its method of doing so could be replicated and improved upon. Though getting the Black Dragonflight to willingly subjugate themselves to that, especially while Deathwing was alive, was a struggle for another day.
She considers the other races and factions on Kalimdor. The Sand and Jungle trolls. The Tol'vir. The Quilboars. The Harpies. The Gnolls. The ogres of Dire Maul... she's not even going to consider the Qiraji. The trolls and the Tol'vir might be approachable... wait...
The Tol'vir would still be hidden in Uldum, masked by powerful magic and a Titan device that had been damaged in Deathwing's Cataclysm. The Tol'vir were out as a possible ally then. And perhaps for the best, invoking the power of the Forge of Origination in Uldum was to risky, she'd rather no one but her knew about that device and fight for it when it could be used to wipe clean all life on Azeroth...
Regardless, she considers the other races and frowns. She's really not sure if she can get them to ally, especially in a short timeframe. Hells, she's not certain she can even work over the Centaurs or the Black Dragonflight. She's not sure she'll have the ability to do so, especially without heavy political influence. No one is going to appreciate her trying to smother past grievances, not until the Legion has begun its invasion, and then she's not going to have the time. She plans to be on the front lines after all. She knows Thrall would ally with the Darkspear trolls, so perhaps they could be used to approach the other tribes...
She will try though.
She thinks of other races and factions scattered across Azeroth. The Nerubians. The Goblins. The Pandarians. The Vrykul. The Naga...
She shakes her head. She doubts she can claim any faction not directly imposed upon by the Legion to their aid. Not to mention she wasn't certain if the Vrykul were allied with the Scourge yet or not. She doesn't know how to find the Pandarians either, the one race she thinks might willingly give aid, the mists surrounding Pandaria had only faded after the Cataclysm. The goblins might be compelled if she uses the 'End of the World is bad for business route', but she's not sure she has the time to waste arguing with all the separate Cartels and Trade Princes, nor does she have any real money to entice them to do so, as she doubts her father nor King Teranas would even consider it. She thinks trying to involve the Naga might be a bad idea as well, servants of the Old Gods and all.
She decides she doesn't think she can afford to waste time chasing slim possibilities, not to mention the time it would take some of these scattered or distant races to gather and get to Kalimdor. She's going to have to try and manage things between the Alliance, the Horde, and the Night Elves all the while training an apprentice as it was...
"Jaina," whispers her Prince in her ear as they lay together in bed.
"Mmm?" she mumbles.
"Before we reach Kalimdor... is there anything I should know? To support you with?" he asked.
She rolls over, her eyes inches from his own. She was kind of surprised he had waited weeks to press about the future. Then again... he's not even asking that, he's asking what he needs to know to support her... oh how she had missed him... the caring side of him, and treasured the patience and restraint he'd started to develop.
"The Night Elves are probably not going to be very welcoming of three nations of foreigners and refuges," admits Jaina, "Especially the High Elves. Tensions are going to be very high. Not to mention, they are even more protective of their lands than the High Elves are. We have to make sure no one screws that up by damaging or defiling their lands or its going to make things much more difficult. No chopping trees down."
Arthas hums. "Will make shelter difficult."
"Its going to be a harsh time for our people," agrees Jaina.
"I'll make sure to 'suggest' that we respect their lands to father and have word passed around," offered Arthas.
"Don't want me to?"
"Jaina... you make them nervous," admits Arthas, "The more they learn about your knowledge and understanding, the more they talk about it privately in ways that worry me of them ever fully trusting you. They don't believe you are a threat, but you do concern them, deeply."
Jaina sighed, but didn't argue with him. "At some point after things get settled, if we are successful with the Orcs and Night Elves, I'm going to disappear and seek out... potentially questionable allies."
Arthas raises an eyebrow.
"Its better left unsaid, but, if I succeed with any of them, it will cause tension, but be beneficial in the long run against the Legion," says Jaina.
Jaina huffs. "In pride and logic maybe. Some people are going to think I'm insane for sure."
He lets out a soft laugh. "No, not insane, just willing to do what must be done. Its something I admire about you for all it frustrates me."
She reached forward and laid a hand gently on his cheek. "I love you Arthas."
He brings his hand up to grasp hers. "I love you too Jaina."
She pulls herself over ontop of him, her hips straddling his, her air streaming down to lay on his chest. He runs his hands down her side and murmurs teasingly, "I hope you're not trying to distract me."
She laughs gently, pulling her shirt off and leaning down to kiss him, parting to whisper, "No, but, once we make landfall we're not going to often have the privacy nor the time and energy for this."
"Well then," he answers, making her yelp as he rolls and pulls her under him, that smirk of his on his face as he slowly strips her of the rest of her cloths and pins her down, "I suppose we should use this time to our advantage, shouldn't we?"
They are quiet and slow, their soft gasps not escaping the walls of their room before he spills within her and they lay together, his arms pulling her to his chest, breathing into his neck, a tickle of the air running down her chest.
"You need to be careful out there, when the Legion Invasion truly begins," she murmurs, "Demons have a tendancy for traps and assassinating important figures only to puppet and wear their corpses."
Arthas coughs. "What?"
"Dreadlords," she mutters, "Can kill you and impersonate you, working to corrupt and destroy everything from within."
Arthas groans. "That is a concern I wish I didn't have to have."
He shakes his head. "So long as you are careful of it yourself."
Jaina laughs lightly. "Arthas, you have no idea how dangerous I actually am. My mana reserves and power might not match up to my knowledge and experience, but there are very few demons aside from their obvious upper leadership that can actually endanger me if I pull out all the stops."
"If you say so, but what happened at Scholomance wasn't honestly that long ago, that Lich took on one of the most powerful spells I'd ever seen from you head on and survived, not to mention how you almost died to the Death Knight," he murmurs, tightening his grip on her, "Don't risk overconfidence Jaina, I couldn't bear to lose you."
She goes silent for a few moments. "I'll try not to Arthas, I'll try not to."
She has more to say to him, more to warn him of, but perhaps it can wait for the morning, because shes out like a light within minutes...
Its one of her few breaks from feeding energy to the elfs that she wonders across Uther kneeling alone in a small cabin, head bowed in prayer. She turns to leave him to his faith, but his voice calls her back, "Proudmoore."
"Lord Uther," she answers simply.
She doesn't put any warmth, or cold in her voice, just neutrality. Her memory of what happened before she escaped to Quel'Thalas is still fresh in her ear, his accusations. She knows why he said what he did, but it still hurt. She's not going to refuse to work with him or anything ridiculous like that... but she doesn't believe they'll end up friends by the end of this if they both survive.
He rises to his feet and turns-and oh does he look tired. His eyes search her's for a moment before he sighs. "Here, alone, I have an honest question for you. With your knowledge and experience with the Burning Legion, what do you believe our actual chances are?"
That makes her eyebrows climb. When had she ever seen or heard Uther voicing doubts like this? Because that tone is clear in his voice. "If we can unite under one banner alongside the Night Elves and the Horde, we can survive. I'm not going to say win, because even if we do defeat this invasion and kill Archimonde it won't be over, and it wont be clean by any means, thousands upon thousands are going to die, and if even a quarter of our combined population survive what is to come, then I'll consider that a positive outcome. It is going to be bloody and brutal. The chances of any single one of us surviving aren't going to be high, and none of us can afford to sit back. There will be loss, will be sacrifice, and many who survive will be permanently maimed if not physically then spiritually and mentally."
The tiredness on Uther's face grows. "I see."
"Are you... alright Uther?"
He gives a small smile. "I'm getting old, Proudmoore. If not for you, for Arthas, and for my fallen brothers and sisters at Dalaran, I would not have survived Mannoroth."
A weary breath escapes him. "Its been weeks, but I still feel the ache and tiredness in my bones, even with the Light's grace. I am a paladin, I belong on the front lines. I'm not expecting myself to survive this, and I fear for Arthas. There is so much I have left to teach him, he's still so damn young for this trial. Just..."
He moves past her, pausing to lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Look after him Jaina, if I'm not around to."
Jaina swallows thickly. "I... I will Uther, I promise."
She doesn't offer any false platitudes of his own safety, because he is right. He is a paladin, the paladin, meant to face evil head on without fear and without faltering. Among them all, he is an absolute beacon of light that Jaina has never seen rivaled outside of a Naaru or someone with the Ashbringer. The Legion is going to have it out for Uther for that alone. Not to mention the blow to morale it would be if he died. Uther might have survived the original Hyjal if Arthas hadn't killed him and he had left with Jaina, but the war Jaina is expecting to happen? It makes her ache, they're not on the best footing, but she doesn't want him to die.
He squeezes her shoulder before his hand drops, and he walks out...
Jaina stares at the ship being forcefully held together by exhausted Kirin Tor mages as its steadily evacuated. The storm that had hit had damaged the fleet, fortunately only one ship had suffered catastrophic damage. There had been other significant damage that they were going to need to repair however. It was going to make space and supplies a worse issue than it had been before. Already the Archmagi had started supplementing some meals for arcane crafting food. This was mostly directed at the elves, since it hit two birds with one stone, but it wouldn't last.
She hoped it wouldn't be more than a few days of slow speed, a week at most.
They hadn't been caught out at sea by the Scourge or the Legion last time, but she was cautious. Tichondrious might try something, but then again he wanted Archimonde dead as well. Perhaps it was for the best either way, because she had remembered that despite the Orcs having a massive head start, when Jaina had originally arrived in Kalimdor, it hadn't been long after Thrall did. They were probably going to beat Thrall to Kalimdor at least by a month, whether because of weather or Orc inexperience at Azeroth seas and the vessels they built and or stole, she didn't know.
That would give her time to argue with Cenarius and the Night Elves before she had to deal with the Horde, perhaps even time to seek out some of her more questionable would-be allies. Now that she thought about it, they might end up meeting the Tauren before Thrall did. That might be awkward. It would be nice though to see Cairne again, she had liked the old Tauren. In fact... she wondered...
Prior to the Tauren joining the Horde, how were relations between them and the Kaldorei at the moment? It was improbable that they had never encountered one another, in fact, she's fairly certain she'd heard some lore on their history, that Cenarius had taught some early Tauren druidism. She doesn't believe that was fully maintained over the years though, as the Tauren had been more shamanistic than druidic up until they got involved in the Cenarian Circle. She was however hopeful that through them she could approach the Night Elves, as just randomly showing up at the edge of Ashenvale yelling into the woods for an audience with Cenarius or Tyrande would end with... questionable results. Considering the Night Elves early reactions to outside races until Hyjal, probably an arrow through her forehead at the supposed arrogance of demanding an audience with their demigod.
And speaking of the Night Elves, something she hadn't considered yet was Illidan. And oh boy was that a mess of a subject to even think about poking the Night Elves with. They could use his help, but Illidan Stormrage had the tendency to be... unpredictable and incredibly dangerous and flip-flop sides. While he could be a great ally, he could also be a terrible enemy. Though his final act that she knew of, as ridiculous as it was, to stay as one of Sargeras's jailers was... touching she supposed. Ignoring that the Dark Titan could flick most beings in the universe with his little finger and kill them...
Jaina is honest in that she has no idea what the hell happened and occurred with Illidan and his resurrection, aside from it being an unbelievable and ridiculous mess. Everything involving him was a mess if she's honest. Illidan was reckless, irresponsible, and cause so much unbelievable harm even if he was trying to help, she didn't ignore that some of his actions directly or indirectly helped them. But, him getting off free as a 'jailer' to Sargeras when he had literally enslaved half of damn Outland, regardless of his ends justify the means outlook towards the Legion, though he had died for it... either way she's more inclined to leave him where he is, but she might not have the choice if it comes down to it. She has however absolutely no intention, if the Legion uses the Skull of Guldan again, to allow him to absorb it though. She was sure he'd be a bit more reasonable and less insane without absorbing a demonic artifact or Kil'Jaeden empowering him with more fel energy on top of whatever the hell Sargeras did to him originally.
Regardless of that, she is conscious of the fact that her thoughts about Illidan are a bit hypocritical when she was complicit in helping Tichondrious murder an entire timeline to create this one, she has far more blood on her hands than Illidan ever did. She sighs, turns away from watching the shipwreck be evacuated, and retreats to her room, guilt howling at her. She'll try to do something to get Illidan freed if she can. She'll have to think on how to even do that, as randomly saying 'Hey go free Illidan' would cause... problems. Then again, Tyrande had freed the demon hunter without outside input originally. Though, Cenarius had been dead at the time and the woman had kind of been backed into a corner and desperate...
She sighs; she'll think of something. For now, she merely lays on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, brooding over her own sin that was so much worse than almost anyone in creation had ever done...
Jaina sits on the floor of the lavatory she's locked herself in, her puke all over the hole, staring at it aimlessly.
She is a child of the sea, born of Kul'Tiras. She doesn't get sea sick. At first, she thought perhaps it was because of her constantly being drained to sustain the High Elves alongside the rest of the Kirin Tor, that it was taking a tole on her body. But she had been noticing things that might have alerted her to her potential problem earlier if she hasn't been caught up with countering arcane addiction on a mass scale. The over tiredness, the desire to throw up at certain foods she had sworn she'd liked in her youth. The abnormal increase in needing to go to the bathroom a lot. Some cramping and constipation...
The more important thing had been when her mother had warned/reminded her to conjure cotton or woolen cloths for her 'feminine needs' while on the march or in battle, as if she were the young woman she looked to be setting out into her first war campaign. She was pretty sure she hadn't bled since she came back in time, and it had been close to four weeks now since she had first laid with Arthas in Dalaran...
She closed her eyes, took in a deep breath, regretting it after the smell hit her nostrils and made her heave again, then reached her senses inward...
How could she have been so careless? It had been years since she had anything close to an active relationship, let alone did the deed. It had never occurred to her to start using protection spells again. While Arthas had certainly never withdrawn himself, it was her body, and she was the archmage who should know better. She'd had plenty of talks and warnings, especially when she and Arthas had first started their young courtship that ended at the Winter Veil. She feels the tiny life forming within her; its everything she ever wanted with Arthas. But not when they are going to be in a literal apocalyptic war with the Burning Legion. She sobs a little, anxious and so damn frustrated.
She cant afford this right now. She's likely going to get heavily injured and lose it anyway. It would be so easy to snuff it out and have another later after everything is said and done...
But she can't.
Its her and Arthas's child.
But she knows she can't sit back from any of the upcoming battles. They can't afford the extra guards that Arthas and others would surely force her to have if they entertained the idea of allowing a pregnant woman to fight at all. Not to mention the huge political issue it was going to cause by her just having the child at all prior to wedlock, and with the other's lack of trust in her there were so many ways her carelessness could be interpreted as intentional. If the Legion or the Cult learned of it, and they captured her to use against her Prince...
She'd have at most another two or so months before the child started showing, and she doesn't know how long this version of the Third War is going to last. Keeping it a secret is not likely to work in the long run, and likely to cause even more trouble if she does hide it and the existence of pregnancy comes out at the wrong time...
But its their child and she can't just kill it.
She licks her lips nervously before she scowls, shuts down her anxiety, and actually thinks rather than panicking, reaching a sleeve up to wipe at her mouth. She turns her thoughts to her spellcraft, she is most likely the most experienced mortal archmage alive on Azeroth aside from Medivh and Aegwynn at this point. There's got to be a solution. She considers it, then her mind connects the dots with several Kirin Tor containment spells. She could put it in suspended animation. The only problem was, it was a tiny, small, fragile life. Would it survive that? Her own body was likely to return to normal, but once the child was active again, it might be... weird. She might need the help of a druid or shaman to make sure the transition goes correctly at the end.
She nods to herself, relived, and carefully weaves her spell, sealing the tiny speck away within her, adding several layers (and more and more) of protection on top of it just to be safe...
"Land! Land ho!"
Jaina blinks, startled as elven children around her gasped and exclaimed excitedly. She takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. It was time...
She staggers her to her feet, carefully pushing through the crowd of children sitting in the room with her. She takes to the deck of the ship and gazes across the sea. She doesn't quite see anything, she doesn't have the elf's enhanced vision. She teleports back to her own ship, sighting her father on the deck with an eyeglass, the leadership at his side. She finds her prince and stands by him silently, tensing with anticipation as Kalimdor slowly comes into view...