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A Long Time Later
There's so... little.
I can't stop the thought from appearing. It's not like I haven't thought the same thing thousands of times in the past, and this time it's no different.
But it's true. There is so very little left. The skies are gray with eternal clouds, the ground is dead, gray rocky plains as far as the eye can see through the fog. Wrathion and I have scouted the planet, and it's the same story everywhere. Mountains stripped of snow and lichen. Ocean beds with no coral. Plains stripped of their forests. All signs of civilization, all signs of life, are gone... save for one tiny spot, one little blip.
It's all I can do to keep Wyrmrest Temple shielded from the crushing pressures.
"Where is it?" I whisper. "I know I felt something. Where is it?"
Wrathion walks up beside me, joining me. His gate is slow and weary, but it's not like there's any rush. Not like we're going anywhere. He sits on his haunches and wraps his wing around my body, sitting beside me just outside Wyrmrest. "What brings you here?" he asks comfortingly. We both need a lot of comfort.
"I felt something."
"A spark of life. Just... just for a moment, there was more."
"So some bacteria stumbled on a mineral rich environment and bloomed."
I shake my head, jewelry swinging back and forth. "No, it wasn't that. There were... animals. Two mammals. Mortals, Wrathion. Honest to Titans mortals. Just for a few minutes."
He doesn't believe me. He suspects I'm going mad with grief. That would be expected, wouldn't it? It'd be hard not to. "Then where did they come from? And why can't you feel them now?"
My head droops. "I don't know. They were just... suddenly there, and just as suddenly gone. Not born, not killed. Just here, and then gone. It's almost like..."
"Time travel?" he asks.
"Possibly. Though we haven't had a visit from the Bronze in a couple millennia."
"Can you blame them for not wanting to come here?"
I sigh. "No. No, I can't. It's just, for a moment I hoped that those two meant something. That things would get better."
"I wish so much for that to be the case, Straszy."
I laugh at his affectionate nickname. Titans, when had Wrathion started calling me that? One hundred million years ago? Two hundred? Three?
"I know. It's the foolish hope of an old dragon." I shut my eyes, wincing as a tear forces its way out and splatters to the ground. "I'm going out," I say, standing up and towering over the black dragon.
"I just need to go."
Some small part of me expects him to say something snide. But Wrathion had changed so much, ever since Verthelion had fallen to a dragonslayer guild. Imagine, an Aspect, falling to mere mortals. Not like it would've been the first time. He'd comforted Selriona following the undeserved execution, but no amount of well wishing would've been enough to stop her from following her first mate. After that, whatever unpleasantness he'd had vanished.
I walk forward, off the small platform around the rebuild Temple. I take a deep breath, preparing for the barrier. I pass through it, the invisible barrier that divides that hospitable inside from the harsh environment outside. The pressure, unbearable to all but me, instantly flattens me to my stomach. I grimace and pull myself up, pushing past the headache it inflicts upon me and trodding forward. It's like walking through syrup. Hot, heavy syrup that fills your lungs and presses at your eyes, some two hundred and fifty kilograms per square centimeter.
What I wouldn't give for some syrup. Magically nourishing myself and Wrathion is so... so bland.
I keep walking. And walking. And walking, until I can not see Wyrmrest, and the land is nondescript around me. But I still know where this is. I've been here many times before, though the plates keep shifting I visit this place enough times to know it used to be the Ruby Dragonshrine.
It's flat rock and nothing more. I've tried several times to use my powers to conjure life - a rabbit, a flower, anything - but nothing ever survives long.
It was almost funny, how often I keep musing on the past. Nobody can blame me, though. It's not as if the present holds many things to talk about. It's not as if there are any alive who could blame me.
Even after all this, after all this time to ponder, I still don't know how this happened. I've always been old and wise, but not wise enough it seems. I thought myself old at sixty thousand years, and I kept doing so at eighty thousand, a hundred twenty thousand, five hundred thousand, and ten million years old, now a billion. I'd seen species rise and fall, the mortal races coming and going, each time being replaced and reshelved, all their history lost had we dragons, the one constant, not preserved it. It had gone on and on like that for a while. I'm not exactly sure how long. Two hundred million, perhaps. Who's counting?
Nozdormu was, after Neltharion, the next to go. One day he simply summoned the other Aspects to him. He expressed his last condolences, his last words, and then left to be transformed into the Infinite. Oh we still saw him after, saw his past selves in our future, but we always knew. Always knew what was waiting for him.
Speak of the devil...
A flash of golden light, and the bronze wyrm falls down. He gathers himself and fights the pressure. "Sister," he says in a strained voice. "Fancy seeing you this far out."
I narrow my eyes, and lash out with my claws. The movement is hard, but I've had a long time to get used to it, and I whack Nozdormu across the face. He didn't even bother forseeing it.
"How dare you," I hiss. "How dare you show your face to me after letting all of this happen!"
"All of this?" he asks.
"YES all of this! You could've helped me. When, when the carbon dioxide levels started to fall and plants shrunk, animals and mortal races shrinking with them... do you know how hard I tried to find a solution? How hard Freya and I worked to combat the rising temperatures and dying life? You could've told us something! Don't tell me you don't know how this happened, you know everything! You could've given us a hint! Told us how it was happening! We could've - "
"Done nothing," he says calmly, ever patient and that infuriates me. I open my jaws, summon my flames... and a tiny fireball pops out, falling harmlessly to the ground.
"There's nothing that could've been done," Nozdormu continues. "No force we could've mustered, no allies we could've gathered, that would have stopped Azeroth from falling apart like this."
"We could've tried," I whisper. "You could've, for once in your life, tried. Freya killed herself when we failed. The other Watchers followed. We could've tried, damn you!"
"And died tired," he says dejectedly.
I growl. "Why are you even here, Nozdormu? I've just had false hope dangled before my eyes and snatched away. Here to taunt me even more?"
"I'm here to say I'm sorry."
I sit down, an action that takes no effort under the pressure, and scoff. "Let's here it then. Bear your soul for the first time, why don't you. I'm sure it'll make everything better."
"I'm sorry for being aloof. I'm sorry for letting you suffer, for letting your Flight suffer and your charge suffer. I'm sorry for being a... a horrible brother." He locks his eyes with mine. "Alexstrasza... Straszy - "
"Only Wrathion's allowed to call me that," I hiss.
"Wrathion's alive too?" he asks in surprise. Could it be genuine?
... not a chance.
"He's inside Wyrmrest. We're keeping it shielded from the worst of the pressure, but we can't extend the bubble any further."
"I see. Sister, I am dearly sorry. But my work means that - "
"Your work means that you are to defend Azeroth," I say hoarsely. "Your work means that you are to keep the planet organized and alive in your own way. And guess what?"
I summon my arcane magic, and lash out at the immovable stone, scorching it. "We failed! We all failed! So unless you're here with some magical I.W.I.N. button that can reset everything and keep this, this, end time from falling, I don't want to hear it!"
He's silent for a short time. A few hours at most. "I'm sorry you feel that way."
And so, to end the last time I'd ever seen him, Nozdormu winks out in a flash of bronze.
I lower my head. "I'm sorry too."
A Very Long Time Later
It's getting harder to maintain the barrier.
It's not a surprise. Over the two and a half billion years since my creation, it's steadily been getting hotter. Much quicker as of late, and the fact that I need my barrier to also keep out sulfuric acid does no favors.
My magic's been getting weaker, too. The ley lines are dying. Slowly, gradually, linearly, but dying. I can't remember the last time Wrathion's used magic.
Wyrmrest's been falling apart for ages now. As our bubble of hospitality shrinks, worn down by the rising heat and our falling power, the Temple melted, piece by piece, under temperatures that can melt lead. The Chamber of the Aspects is all that remains, the roof gone to expose an acidic yellow sky of sulfur clouds. It's dark, too, the layers of atmosphere letting almost no light through. The Chamber is no longer underground as it once was. It's a coliseum of broken portals and shattered dreams on a dead world.
So very dead. So little life. There have only been single-celled bacteria for ages now, but with the hellish environments, only the extremophiles can eke out a living. They can only survive underground, in little pockets where maybe - just maybe - there's still liquid water. Still water period.
"So what does that make it?" Wrathion asks as he moves his claw, pushing the dragon-sized piece into place. "Me, one billion three hundred million eight hundred seventy two, you one billion three hundred million nine hundred eighty seven?"
"Eighty eight," I correct. "Seventy one for you." I move my large queen. "Checkmate."
This is what we've been up to. I wish we could say we've been productive, that we've been solving the great problems of the universe and figuring out how to save Azeroth from this scorching death and bring back the Age of Life. The truth is, there's no point in philosophy when there are only two of you to have opinions. There's no point in trying to save Azeroth when all your magic can barely preserve a Chamber. All Wrathion, my dear Consort for the past eternity and a half, have been doing is... existing. Indulging in whatever small pleasures we can find.
We deserve them, don't we?
Wrathion flicks his tail. "How did you do that?"
"You over-commit to performing checkmate. You stop looking at the rest of the board. It's the same mistake you made in your last personality change."
And so many personality changes indeed. Time is enough to do that; to go from spiteful to loving to hatred to begging for forgiveness to melancholy to outright depressed and back to spiteful.
I've been stuck on melancholy for a while now. Have been, really, ever since Ysera died shortly after Nozdormu's 'farewell'. My poor, poor sister, who'd thought her nightmare over...
Oh, how Kalecgos and Verthelion comforted me. They were true brothers, if not in blood then in spirit. I don't want to think about what I might've done without them; I've already thought about it a million times.
I spit out a tiny ember. I'm growing weaker, in terms of fire and life magic. After all, those powers were tied to life, and there's so little of it left, and even the extremophiles are slowly, one at a time, going extinct. At least it's not as bad as what happened to the Blue Flight. Watching as the ice caps shriveled up, their frost breaths drying out.
Malygos was lucky not to have to see that. Kalecgos too. Though, why didn't I comfort Verthelion with the death of his 'brother' as he had when I lost my sister? Why? So many regrets. And so little, so little I can do about it.
The sky rumbles, and I decide to humor the storm and look up, lightning arcing back and forth on the clouds' underbellies. I've seen enough storms to predict the lightning almost exactly. There, there, there. Got them all. There, there. So on. Ooh, seventeen correct streak. New record.
Maybe the goblins were right.
Now there's a new thought. I tune out Wrathion's complaining about chess to entertain this new train of thought.
Maybe the goblins were right. Their X-52 Nether Rocket only made a brief foray into the Great Dark Beyond, and even briefer into the Twisting Nether. The other mortal races at the time, even the gnomes, cared little for it, and so the goblins too gave up.
Maybe they shouldn't have. Maybe we could've taken that idea. Moved to new worlds, hospitable worlds. The problem is that the Burning Legion, before being eradicated, had driven so many worlds to being uninhabitable there would've been nowhere to go. But with the rocket, we could've looked for places. With advanced versions of it, we could've gone there and escaped this death trap of a planet while we had the chance!
But no. It wasn't to be.
Maybe if the mortal races - no, no fair pinning it on them - maybe if we all had cared more about technology, less about magic, maybe then? Maybe if we'd been more adventurous, maybe we could've made it.
... this train of thought is depressing. I'm not looking forward to repeating it in the future.
"It's dead! It's dead!" I hear Wrathion wail, and I snap my hearing back to reality.
"The planet," he whispers. "I've been feeling it cooling down. Volcanoes die down, earthquakes weaken. But now it's... it's stopped. The heart of the world has frozen over. I can't control them anymore." He opens his mouth, and hacks. His crop gurgles, but no lava comes out. "I can't even reshape this stupid chess board!" he shouts. He focuses his gaze on it, willing it to melt back into the rocks he'd summoned it from. I notice his glowing red eyes have stopped that, and they are simply pupils with a red iris now.
"Wrathion, I'm... I'm so sorry."
He crawls towards me, knocking over pieces, and buries his snout in my neck, sobbing quietly. "It's dead, it's dead. I can't do this anymore. I can't, I can't. There's nothing left, not a scrap. I can't do this. I can't, Straszy."
"Ion, what are you saying?" I ask, even though I've had the same thoughts enough times to know.
"I can't keep going. I can't. I've always had hope, you know." Hope? Oh poor dear. What a dreadful thing to have. "But it's... it's gone. The only thing keeping me going is gone!"
"What about me?" I ask. "Will you leave me here?"
Wrathion pulls away. "Alexstrasza... I - I don't... I can't... I don't know."
"Please, Wrathion. Please." I lower myself and put my head between my forelegs. "Don't..." I stifle a sob at the prospect of what he's dooming me to. "Don't leave me here all alone."
He keeps backing up, reaching a wall of the Chamber. "I'm sorry, Straszy." He turns around. "I'm not as strong as you. I can't handle it!" He runs, smashing through the brittle wall and beyond my barrier.
"Wrathion!" I shout, rising and reaching out with a foreleg, but it's far too late. The intense heat doesn't melt him. It vaporizes him, and Wrathion blows away in the slow wind, looking for all the world like a rusty smoke cloud, which disperses far too quickly.
He's... he's gone.
Wrathion is gone.
I'm all alone.
That thought crushes me. It strangles me. All alone, with nobody to talk to, with no one to comfort or to comfort me, to hold me in those long eternal days that are indistinguishable from the nights. All alone on a desolate world with barely enough bacteria to fit on a pinhead.
I choke down a sob, and then another. I won't be weak. It may be stiflingly hot and the universe may be conspiring against me, but I will not cry. I will not. That's not water slowly evaporating on the ground. No, that was a natural tremor that knocked over that chess piece. It doesn't matter that I'm the only dragon left, that I'm the endling for dragons. I'm fine damn it!
Thinking, I painstakingly take off my jewelry, and lay the purple and gold metal in a pile at my claws. With a barely concealed roar, I strike them, sending them flying out the same hole Wrathion had made, where they melt.
The dragons died slowly, near the end. We'd held on long, but as the rising heat slowly collapsed the food chain, the wyrms couldn't hunt enough to support themselves. Soon, neither could the drakes. Staying in mortal forms solved the issue of starvation for a while, but not procreation. And then... there wasn't enough even for whelps, and I was barely strong enough to keep my barrier up and me and my mate healthy. There'd been a dozen of us hiding under the shield at the start, but one by one...
Now we're all but gone. I am the endling for dragons. Not their Aspect. Not their queen. After all, a queen has subjects, has servants whom she serves, and I have nothing but ashes and dust.
And so melancholy turns to depression.
An Extremely Long Time Later
I know how it happened.
I still don't know why it had to happen, but I know how.
The sun is the sky.
It's an enormous ball of churning red and orange - mostly red - that completely engulfs the sky. There's hardly any horizon, either; the proximity of the sun has melted the planet, and the plasma of the sky and lava of the surface blend together in the distance. It's blown away the crushing atmosphere, and the only air left is what little I keep around myself with the last of my magic.
There is absolutely no life beyond me, if this can even be called life. The White Lady and the Blue Child are gone, absorbed by the behemoth. I'm always facing the sun; there is no night, just an endless day. It wasn't a sudden thing, either. The ballooning sun would rise and set slower and slower until, eon by eon, it stopped and one day would just not move from the noonday position it had crawled to. It's gravity is strange. It's almost overwhelmed Azeroth's and pulled me into the sun, so I feel fairly weightless.
The ley lines are almost completely gone, especially with the melting. After nourishing myself, I only have enough power to protect a small bubble around myself, freezing the lava beneath me into a black raft and mildly cooling it. It's still combustingly hot, hot enough to melt metal.
Why can I stand the heat? Is it because I am an Aspect, with all five Hearts within me? Or because I'm a red dragon? Just dragon? A life form? I wonder, for the thousandth time, how much labels mean when I'm the only one to label. I want to forget that there used to be others to label, that the world used to be full of life once, but no matter how hard I try I can't, even though Azeroth has been lifeless for far longer than it hasn't.
Five billion years old.
I don't even know my hatchday anymore; not like it makes a difference when there are no more days.
I wish I could've stopped this, but I know now. We could never have stopped the sun. Never have cooled it down, not even the Titans. The Titans shape planets. This is a star. I could never have prevented this, not with a billion trillion times the power I'd had in my prime.
Heh. Prime. Funny, I'd once considered myself unaging. It just turns out I age very slowly. Five billion and middle aged, can you imagine?
Something... flickers in me. Something hot that has nothing to do with the lava and the red giant. I open my mouth, and speak for the first time in an epoch.
"I hope you're happy," I whisper, my voice cracking with disuse.
I take a deep breath. "I hope you're happy!" I roar to the uncaring heavens. "Sargeras, the Old Gods, all of you! I hope you're happy, wherever you are, because YOU'VE WON!"
I sit down, the anger gone as quick as it'd come, replaced by cold, near-insane depression. That wasn't as cathartic as I'd hoped.
Something else flickers, but next to me instead of inside. I don't even both to look at him as Algalon teleports next to me. He's as red as I'd last seen him, with the Legion's fall. The stars rising around him tickle my scales he's so close, sitting down just as I am. He seems... taller. Or maybe I've shrunk. Either way, I haven't seen stars in a while. I wish I don't now, either. They remind me too much of hopes I'd once had, of dreams that never came true.
"Alexstrasza," he greets, his red blending in with the background. "The Dragonqueen."
"Don't call me that. I'm not a queen. I haven't been one for ages, Algalon."
"As you wish."
He sits with me there for a while.
"You realize there isn't much time left. Minutes, hours."
"Good. I can finally pass on, and then... and then... I don't know, but it can't be any worse than this mockery of life."
"So you say."
I sigh. "Why are you here, Algalon?"
"I want to know if you have anything you wish to finish, any last words to utter before the sun consumes this planet."
I ponder this. "No. I've said all there is to say and thought all there is to think, a hundred thousand times over. I've imagined this very conversation more times than I've cared to count." I look down at him. He hasn't aged a day. "Why did it go like this? Why does it have to end this way? I mean, we won, didn't we? The last faceless slain, the last undead laid to rest, and the last demon banished. So why, after all of that, did we still lose?"
He ponders this. "The cosmos does not owe anybody anything, least of all a happy ending. For all their madness, the Old Gods were right in saying that all falls to chaos, as the second law of thermodynamics demands."
I frown, looking straight up at the looming sun. I can see little flares and arcs of plasma. I've had a lot of time to get used to its light. "So it truly was all for nothing. All our effort, all our sorrow and joy, reduced to oblivion because of some physical law?"
"It hasn't been for nothing," he counters.
I turn on him, narrowing my eyes. My eyes that, without the power of life, have ceased to glow red and are, ironically, baby blue. "Oh really? Not for nothing? If it weren't all for nothing, then why have we still lost?! Look at all of this, and tell me it amounted to anything!"
"You haven't lost. You've won, you've conquered the evils of the Twisting Nether. This is simply... finishing up. Even without that, you're not the only planet in existence. There are many others. Many of them travel the stars as the Titans do. Some use magic, many use technology, which is oddly enough, more powerful than magic in shaping the heavens." He pauses. "Their technology could've saved this world. Still could now, should they arrive quick enough."
"You're avoiding the question." Was that a bubble popping in the lava? That's... actually new.
"Apologies. You see, the others, they know about this world. They know, through me, its histories and triumphs. The universe is a dark and lonely place. It is our job, as sentient beings, our duty if you wish, to light up that darkness with our lives for however brief a time, so that when you view history, you can see that all of us have lit up the heavens for an eternity."
"And when we all die? When eventually all life comes to an end, and all traces of it are ground to oblivion? What then?"
"Then it is for nothing, but we don't let it get that far. We stop it from happening, fight with all our fury to keep the flames burning. For even if one civilization falls, it can raise another from the embers and so, live on. That is the meaning of life; to glow bright and light up the cosmos, and stand tall upon the shoulders of giants, so that those who invariably come later can see the shine you've created."
I sigh. "Even if that's true, it does little to comfort me. The past doesn't mean anything to me. Not now. Maybe if Ion were still alive."
"You're wrong, though."
"Is that so? Wrong in what?"
"It does mean something to you. The history of this world is important to you, however much you deny it."
"And what makes you say that?" I ask. I try to summon anger, but nothing comes.
"If you truly didn't care, if you truly felt it was all for nothing, you'd have let these protective magics fall a long time ago." And with that last rebuttal, Algalon fades into stars, teleporting back to the heavens beyond.
I scoff, watching the lava around me boil, the sun slowly get just a tad brighter.
"Let the magic fall." I might've chuckled good-naturedly in the past. I just huff. "I suppose you have a point there, Algalon."
I look around. The entire ocean of lava around me is boiling, slowly steaming. The raft of stone beneath me is heating up, cracking. My magic isn't enough. Not any longer.
So, this is it then.
I cough, a tiny ember flying out. I actually smile. I haven't made an ember in billions of years. I feel warm, and it has nothing to do with the sun.
I look up at the sun as it continues to close the distance. The vaporized rock around me and the plasma above me blend together until I can no longer tell up from down. The raft beneath me vanishes into oblivion, and my magical barrier is finally overwhelmed.
I gasp as fire nips and rips mercilessly at my scales. Plasma flows into my lungs and spreads throughout my body like the tendrils of a fungus. I wonder if maybe it could've been better. It surely could've, right...?
I close my eyes and see... Eonar blessing me. Fun times with my siblings. Neltharion's fall, and his redemption. The Lich King's helm. Sargeras exploding. The Defias launching a vessel and the Blue Flight electing Kalecgos. I see my children enslaved and murdered, my tormentor cackling. I see Wrathion throwing himself to death, I see Verthelion and Kalecgos engulfing me in their wings as I mourn my sister, and the Alliance and the Horde clashing on the battlefield, all in the name of what they see to be right. I see two mortal children visiting me in Wyrmrest, asking to see my true form.
No. I wouldn't have changed a thing. I wouldn't have given up this world of warcraft for anything.
I open my mouth, floating in the belly of a star. "Goodbye, Azeroth."
It's been fun.
And indeed it has. What a long, strange trip it's been.
I - I just... there's so much I want to say. So many feels. And so few words to say it in. I just want to start off by saying, thank you. One and all, each of you who reviewed, or favorited, or followed, or just plain read. It was all of you who gave me the strength to see it through. It was you who kept Selriona and Amanthe alive as long as they were, and without you all this story would never have lasted until Selriona's first trip to the past. I may have typed up this story, I may have come up with the plot, but it was you all who, in spirit if nothing else, pushed the 'Publish Chapter' button each of the One Hundred times it's been pressed. No joke, one hundred. It would be one hundred and two, but you push a different button for the first chapters of a story. I'm truly blessed to have had you as my readers.
And what a story it's been. 646688 words, 78849 views, 370 reviews, 130 favorites, and 109 follows, at the time of my typing this. I never in a million years would have ever dreamed that my first major project would ever reach these heights. And there will always be those who climb higher than I, and I look to them with nothing short of pure admiration and, for what it may be worth, respect. I'm looking at you, Iceworth (Formerly Dusty the Umbravita).
I started playing World of Warcraft back in the Vanilla days. I have no delusions, no rose colored glasses, looking back; Vanilla was frustrating as hell with all the endless, monotonous grinding. Burning Legion was better, and Wrath was difficult - even moreso than the previous ones - until people started to outgear everything by a mile and a half. Same trend with Cata; harder, but seems easier because you quickly outgear everything.
I didn't understand much of WoWback then; it was just a game my dad played that suddenly intrigued me. I have faint memories of playing Dark Ages of Camelot as a warlock, but that's all it is now, faint memories. My first character was a human paladin male on the PvP server Vashj. I joined a hungarian-speaking guild (I'm fluent in the language, so I fit right in despite my age), I was holy spec even though I had no real idea what that meant - all I knew was that people in the raid took damage, and it'd be rude to let them die, and I had no idea why I had to run away from everyone else when Baron Geddon placed a living bomb on me when Divine Shield removed it with the touch of a button.
What can I say? I was barely eleven.
I quit playing WoW for a while then, with my pally at 60 and my warlock alt (Inspired by Dark Ages of Camelot) at twenty-something. I think. I don't remember. All I know was that I left while Naxxramas was the newest thing, and returned to WoW once Illidan's world first was a thing of the past.
I left my old guild, and went to the PvE server Kilrogg. I leveled up my Pally to 70, but the interest faded, so I quickly rammed up my warlock to 70 and made him my main. There, I joined the english guild (Only my first guild wasn't english) Angry Angels in Karahzan. And no, I won't bother to check the spelling on that. I loved that guild to death, and was quite hit when the guild leader all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, disbanded the guild.
My next guild was on the same server, a guild by the name of Ignotos. Ignotos was - and no offense to Angry Angels, you guys were awesome - leaps and bounds ahead of my old guild. I still remember raging over unlucky Malchezzar infernals, and casting Rain of Fire over Nightbane's skeletons. I remember going into Gruul's lair for the first time, the guild's first time. We wiped so much on the first boss we were joking about hiding in the skeletons, then jumping out and scaring them to death. Just before quitting time, the clouds cleared and we beat him, then got beaten up by Gruul once or twice.
We put him on farm status shortly after.
I remember going to Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep long before I felt we had the gear, yet still kicked ass. I remember the endless, endless wipes to Al'ar. I remember the amazement I felt as we downed Anetheron in Hyjal with people who still needed loot from Karazhan, and then running around as a zombie biting everyone, while my warlock got a shiny new toy called 'Chaos Bolt'.
Wrath was fun as well. I was the second lock in our guild to hit 80. I was there for our first Firefighter 10 kill, our first Yogg10 kill, and our first cracks at Algalon10. For our first pull I was on Collapsing Star duty with our hunter who doubled as our 10man raid leader. I even came up with the cooldown rotation for the Big Bangs then, even though we never lived past the first one back then. Though I was still very young back then - still am now.
I never got the title of Kingslayer, I never got to see phase 3, or even see the fight beyond the time the 15% buff came out. I'll admit I resented those who got it first, and those who got it after. I should've been there! I should've had the joy of downing him! I'd played the game for so long, I deserved to see The Lich King fall before the new guys in the guild! I'm ashamed at myself back then, even if I never showed anything was wrong. I actually cried over it. Over a video game. For shame. Which is why I took a break for the rest of Wrath - I'd gotten emotionally attached to pixels on a screen.
Then Cata came around.
I'll never forget watching in horror as our 25 man raids dwindled, as more and more people stopped raiding, and we were forced to go to 10 mans only. I never even got to see Cho'gall, let alone kill him. But it was then that I first performed the quest Coup de Grace first, and out of my pity for those poor, poor twilight drakes, laying there on the ground, this story was born.
It was nothing back then. I had a TI-84 calculator. I downloaded a notepad function and typed up the story in bits and pieces, as the memory was funny. I called them Twilit1, Twilit2, up to 4. It was nothing short of complete and utter crap. If I posted that here, you would turn around in a heartbeat and never look back at it. The plot was all different too. For one, Verthelion was the one who got shot down. Selriona was Selria. Amanthe didn't exist. The Kingslayers were Alliance-only, and didn't even have a guild name. I'd be amazed if the entire thing came up to 5,000 words. And now...
Jesus, this story's grown. I'm proud of myself. I never would have imagined my first major project would have received such a warm reception. I suffer from crippling Atelophobia, the fear of failure and not being good enough. As such, I don't often put myself out there. After all, if I don't try I can't feel the sting of failure, of rejection, of being looked down upon.
But this story, it's good. I can never say I regret publishing this, not in the decades that shall come when I look back on little old fanfiction dot net and see the story nobody has viewed in five years. It warms my heart to see people think that, and it's only through you all that I agree with the notion that my story is worth anything.
I'll be honest, I stopped playing in I believe June of 2011. In other words, I quit WoW before Firelands came out. I've never logged on since. Nobody else in my family plays anymore. After Blizzard fucked up Deathwing's story, and all the story after it, I can say I'm happy to have left WoW on a high note.
But I kept writing, because I loved Selriona, I loved Verthelion. I still do now, even if not playing for two years has taken the passion out of my love for them. I've poured my heart and soul into this story for well over two years now, and I'm happy with the result. I've given my characters their woes and joys, their happy endings and their grisly endings. I wouldn't change a word of it, even the early bits where I kept changing tense and had no real idea what I was doing - thanks again, Iceworth, for whipping me into shape. I owe you a debt I shall never be able to repay.
And now it's over.
To be honest, it could easily have been over a long time ago. I debated for a long time to just end it at Coup de What?. To scrap Full Circle, since sequels never live up to their precursors. And I can say confidently that's true. Full Circle has nowhere near the hits Coup de What has. That thought has torn at me many times over the months. And since I haven't been playing WoW, my motivation has dimmed - it took 8 months to write CdW, while this not-much-longer story took me a year and a half. But I regret nothing, even if my emotions don't always agree with me.
God, there's so much I want to say. I've daydreamed writing this author's note, this epilogue, for weeks. Months, even. There's so many things I'll have forgotten to type in here, which I'll remember later and kick myself over. Things I'll think up later, and then fight down the urge to nudge them in. But this is the end, this is the final appearance on Azeroth for me, my final WoW story.
Which is why I suppose I even wrote this chapter. I could easily have ended it with Amanthe's death and nobody would have blinken twice. But I needed to wrap it up, I needed to say goodbye to Azeroth in the only way I really know how; by ending it. No loose ends. I had to create just absurd, billion-year time jumps in order to give myself closure, in order to say that I have given my characters and the characters borrowed from Blizz, maybe not a happy end, but an end, and an end that I came up with myself. That I won't be tempted to pick up another story in this universe of even more waning quality, one which I am confident that, with my fading interest in WoW, would never be completed, and would haunt me for all time.
Not like I even have an idea for a third story.
Plot bunnies shall attack me upon this chapter's publication, I swear.
So many things I want to say, want to type, but shall forget to. So many special shout-outs I want to give, but I feel they aren't needed because you all know who you are. And if you don't, then assume YOU have my special shout out. You people have said that this is publishing quality. Just because you say that, I believe you. I can say that I am a good writer, and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for that ability.
It's time to take a bow.
I feel I've rambled on far too long. This author's note has grown large enough.
Thank you, one and all, for your attention these past 640k+ words, and for this 2k+ author's note. I wonder what note I shall go out on. What final words of wisdom. Perhaps a quote? Perhaps a traditional 'The End'. A fancy line-divider born of my own imagination? One final thank you? Just a goodbye? No. I don't think I'll do any of those. Maybe I'll come up with my own quote. Stretch my philosophical muscles a bit. Maybe something in tune with this final chapter, of a burning sun and withering planet, of the purpose of life as Algalon - and I - see it? Or in line with Selriona's struggle for life, or Amanthe's fight against fate. Or maybe not. After all, it's hardly my ending to type, not when I could never have gotten so far on my own.
This ending, is yours to imagine.