“How ’bout it, elf?”
“I already told you, it was simple. I wanted to join the war effort, my king said no. Stormwind was obliterated, my king still said no. Then Quel’Thalas burned, and my king said yes. That’s all there is to it.”
“That’s not very fair, Thal. The rest of us have bared our hearts and souls; claiming ‘I’m boring’ just isn’t fair.”
“Fine. But I warn you. I’m not the best at telling stories, and I may get sidetracked and talk about my food or my daughters too much. Just speak up if I’ve been rambling about cake.”
“No. Absolutely not.”
Thalorien Dawnseeker frowned. “Lord Bloodwrath, these creatures represent a threat to all life on this world. We cannot stand by-”
“And why not?” Bit out Solanar Bloodwrath. “Why should we commit any of our numbers to a war that will not affect us? Why should we devote our soldiers to defend any human kingdom, let alone one so far to the south, it’s considered isolated even from other human realms? You would have us send our sons and daughters half a world away, to bleed and die on a battlefield not our own.”
Thalorien shook his head. “Lord Bloodwrath, you put far too much faith in our defences and the incompetence of these invaders. Our runestones and Gates are powerful, yes, but they will not stand against an enemy of this magnitude. If the human kingdoms fall-”
Solanar sneered. “Listen to yourself. ‘This magnitude.’ Please. What magnitude? They threaten only one kingdom, and are barely capable of doing that. They attack caravans and prospectors deep in the swamps of the far south. They are aimless raiders, bandits. They are disorganized trolls. Nothing more.”
“I have reason to believe this threat is far greater than you imagine, Lord Bloodwrath. My sources-”
“Your sources. Oh I see. Now we have to believe you. You have sources. Pray tell, what are these mysterious sources? Have-”
“If I may.” Interrupted Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider. “The Blade of Silvermoon is referring to me, Lord Bloodwrath.”
At that, Solanar arched an eyebrow. “Really, my prince? I thought you better than fool notions such as this.”
Kael’thas ignored the slight and continued speaking. “We in Dalaran detected a… an anomaly, very near the southern tip of the continent. An enormous amount of energy being created then used. We’re fairly confident that it was exceptionally powerful portal magic, though there were traces of summoning magic as well.”
“Meaning…?” prompted King Anasterian Sunstrider.
“Meaning, father, that I and my fellow mages have reason to believe these are invaders. As in, invaders from somewhere else entirely. Another planet, another dimension perhaps. These small raiding parties are likely scouts, testing the waters, so to speak, before they arrive here in greater numbers.”
“As you can see, Lord Bloodwrath, we-” Thalorien tried speaking again.
“I have been convinced of nothing, Lord Dawnseeker.” Solanar had used Thalorien’s proper title for once. At least he was finally taking this seriously. Seriously-ish. “The core of the matter has not changed. Before this questionable revelation, these marauders were a far away threat that had nothing to do with us. Now, these marauders are a far away threat that has nothing to do with us.”
Thalorien blinked. “Are you mad? These things could very well threaten the entire world! We cannot simply stand by. We should mobilize our armies, send our fleets to reinforce them, we should-”
“Even if we accept that these pointless raids could pose a threat to the humans, even if we accept a worst case scenario, and every human kingdom burns, it is still no concern of ours.”
“Outrageous!” shouted Kael’thas. “How can you possibly feel so little about their lives?!”
Solanar eyed the prince coldly. “My mandate is to protect my people. My people, the elves of Silvermoon and Quel’Thalas. My duty is to them. Not a collection of flailing hairless monkeys. If we enter this war, elves will die. You may have betrayed our people with your… dalliances in Dalaran, but I-”
“YOU DARE!” Kael’thas was livid.
Solanar’s smile was as cold as his eyes. “So it is true then. I had thought it blatant rumour mongering, but if you and that woman-”
“Silence.” The king spoke, and his word was law. Silence descended. “My son, is this true? Have you had… relations with a human female?”
“I… father, I-”
“Enough. I can see it in your eyes. You… disappoint me, Prince Kael’thas. Leave.”
“LEAVE!” Anasterian thundered, all signs of old age vanishing as he pushed himself out of his throne. “You have SHAMED me! You have shamed your people and this crown! You… you…!”
He sat again, the echoes of his anger fading. “Leave. We will discuss this… failure, later.”
Prince Kael’thas stood, his face unreadable
“She has a name, father. She is not-”
“GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!”
His back stiff, he left without another word.
The silence continued for some time.
“Lord Dawnseeker has a point, however.” Interjected Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, Ranger-General of the Farstriders. “Some of my rangers have fought these creatures, and they are exceptionally fierce. Not the brightest opponents, but the destruction even one of them is capable of surpasses that of any other race we have heretofore encountered.”
“Even so,” said Solanar, “We have our own defences. The runestones have stood for eight thousand years, the Gates for nine. There is nothing that can threaten us here.”
“Why are we even discussing defence?” asked Auronor Iramhir, Admiral of the Navies of Silvermoon. “We are literally on the opposite end of the continent from this threat. No matter how little faith we have in the humans, they are more than capable of defending themselves.”
“Wait, how many people were at this meeting?” asked Tirion.
“Well, there’s me, the Blade of Silvermoon. Sylvanas, the Ranger-General was there, the prince was for a while, the king, that lunkhead Bloodwrath, the admiral, and the grand magister was there. Just essential military leaders. There’s usually much more, but this meeting was specifically for military intervention, so-”
“Alright, I get it. What does that Blade title you have mean, anyway?”
“Right, er. In essence, I am the left hand of the throne, if you consider the prince the right hand. I am the highest authority of the judiciary, and am in charge of the Church in regards to military matters. I am on equal footing with the other military leaders, I carry-”
“Forget I asked. Does anything exciting happen? Maybe something involving griffons? Stump’s story had griffons.”
“You don’t think this is exciting? This entire war could have been completely different if my peers weren’t such stubborn, ignorant fuckwits that can’t find their own asses despite having their heads shoved in them so deep… what?”
“Nothing, just never heard an elf swear before. What was that you said? Fuck wit?”
“What? It’s a good curse. Fuck wit. Fuck. Wit. Fuckwit. I love it. Rolls of the tongue rather nicely.”
“Right. Have fun with that. Maybe I should just summarize?”
“How long did thae meetin’ go on fer?”
“Uh… several hours. I have a very good memory, I can recite most of it word for-”
“Spare us lad! Jus’ give us the summary!”
“Our primary concern, our only concern,” Bloodwrath was saying, “is the continued preservation and defence of the Quel’Thalas and the high elf people. Nothing else is of any importance.”
“And what of our treaty with the bloodline of Arathi?” Grand Magister Rommath Selendi said.
Bloodwrath snorted in contempt. “The kingdom of Arathi fell over three thousand years ago. Yes, technically the Arathi line still exists, a general in Stormwind still bears the name of Lothar. How long are we to honour such a treaty? Indefinitely? Do the humans even remember that such a treaty even existed?”
“We do remember.” said Uther quietly. “We pinned most of our hopes on that treaty. This… Bloodwrath fellow, he seems, quite…”
“You can say it Uther!” goaded Tirion. “I know you want to! I can feel the hate in you. Give in to it! Say a naughty word!”
“You are no fun at all, Uther.”
“The technicalities should be irrelevant.” said Rommath. “The human kingdoms, all of them, are our allies. We have stood by them for millenia. Are we to simply discard that proud tradition every time a threat appears that does not immediately endanger us?”
“In short, yes.” said Bloodwrath. “The Aegis is willing to make any sacrifice necessary to protect Quel’Thalas. Last I perused a map, Stormwind was not Quel’Thalas.”
“Well, what of our priests? Does the Church stand with our allies? The Farstriders?” Rommath asked.. “Their mandates extend beyond our borders, do they not?”
Sylvanas nodded. “The Farstriders have ever been involved in human military campaigns. In fact, several contingents of my… our rangers have already participated in combat against them, in case you’ve forgotten. I agree with Thalorien. They are every ounce the threat he claims them to be. We should respond accordingly.”
“Thank you, Lady.” Thalorien responded. She inclined her head.
“We have everything we need. What the humans need is none of our concern.” Bloodwrath waved a hand dismissively. “We are talking in circles. Let us cast and be done with it. The Aegis does not stand with Stormwind.”
“The Magi of Silvermoon do not stand with Stormwind.” Grand Magister Rommath said.
“The Farstriders stand as tactical and strategical support, we do not fully commit.” said Sylvanas.
“The Church and Blade of the Throne both commit to the full extent that we can.” said Thalorien.
“The Navy of Silvermoon does not stand with Stormwind.” added the admiral.
The votes cast, the Council of Silvermoon waited expectantly for the king’s decision. King Anasterian rarely participated much in these discussions. He would occasionally prompt for more detail on a point here or there, but that was all.
“I respect the decisions of my military commanders. Lady Windrunner, Blade Dawnseeker, you will provide tactical and strategic support only. Admiral Iramhir, you will provide logistics support for what forces we do commit to this southern war. Blade Dawnseeker, you are denied permission to fully commit the Church to this cause.”
The king paused, closing his eyes briefly. “We simply cannot afford to entrust so many elven lives to some war the humans have embroiled themselves in. All intelligence points to another resurgence in Amani activity. We need to prepare for possible war on our home front.”
“My king, at least allow me to go along as a guardian escort to what priests are sent.” Thalorien pleaded. “They will need prot-”
“Denied. The Blade will not leave this nation except under the direst of circumstances. What Farstriders are sent will be support enough.”
Thalorien struggled to keep his face neutral. “Of course, my king.”
“This meeting is adjourned. Lady Windrunner, please meet me in my map room.”
And with that, likely the entire outcome of this war with the orcs had been decided.
Thalorien left the room with a bitter taste in his mouth. He wasn’t sure why, intuition, perhaps the intervention of the Light. He knew, knew, these weren’t simple raiders. Something was horribly wrong.