The familiar smell of Orgrimmar – leather and sand and orc – brought her crashing out of the exhausted sleep she’d fallen into sometime during the trip back to land and Caren pushed herself up far quicker than she should have. Her wounded side protested, skin still tender from only dregs of magic being left amongst the few healers on board to craft it back together, and she flinched immediately. As she pressed a hand against her side and cast her own magic down into the wound, she heard movement from nearby wherever she was at in the city.
Around her was the familiar inside of a shu’halo hut, so she was in the Valley of Wisdom. Other impressions filtered in as her mind slowly caught up from her state on the ship to the now and as she registered the simple clothes – not her own – that she was garbed in and the comfortable pallet underneath her, Caren also realized she was not alone. Necronim sat cross-legged in the center of the hut, quietly sharpening one of his blades by the low-burning fire, and there was a sleeping form on another pallet across from her. Short, dark auburn hair and long tapered ears revealed it to be Hresden and the panic she’d woken up feeling slowly drained out of her.
“We made it?” she asked.
The rogue snorted in reply before saying without looking up, “If we didn’t, this is a good dream. Impressive too given that I stopped dreaming when I died.” He then paused and slowly lifted his head to look at her, the yellow light at the back of his eye sockets slightly guttered. “You’ve been in and out for days since we got back. Infection was what the priest who was treating you said.”
“And Hresden?” inquired Caren.
Necronim grimaced, the motion a slight downward tug at the stitches around his bare-boned mouth, before replying, “It was close. Infection in his leg where it got clawed to the bone, broken ribs, and a pierced lung. Though I think the most annoying for him was the effect of all that fel magic.” When she cocked her head slightly in confusion as she slowly eased her way up into a sitting position, he explained. “His eyes are more like the blood elves’ now. Not quite on par with some but…you can’t tell the difference anymore.”
Sighing, Caren shook her head at that news. Hresden had always been firm in that he didn’t accept the sin’dorei name that the majority of his kin had taken on. That he wasn’t going to change what he was simply because of what they’d lost and anyone that called him that name tended to get a simple, stern growl of quel’dorei in return.
“At least he’s alive,” she said firmly.
“ You tell him that then. He seemed pretty willing to die when I found him on the field.”
Necronim just shrugged before answering, “He’s been unconscious most of the time since then so I haven’t been able to drag that particular answer out of him.” The rogue then bowed his head and added, “The Warchief’s dead, Caren.”
She jerked in surprise, pain lancing through her side at the motion, and then breathed, “Vol’jin died on the field?
“After we returned. He named…” Necronim paused before finishing. “He named Sylvanas Warchief.”
Caren just blinked several times at that news. Of all the racial leaders of the Horde, the Banshee Queen was the one that was chosen to lead the Horde? Then again…she was the last of the originals from the beginning. Thrall had stepped away to deal with matters of elementals and the Earthen Ring, Cairne had died at the hands of Garrosh via the treachery of Magatha Grimtotem, and Vol’jin was now dead of the Legion. Who else amongst their current leaders had the experience to lead but Sylvanas Windrunner?
“Someone also let Illidan’s demon hunters out of wherever they’ve had them tucked away all these years. They’re working with us now.”
She blinked once at that before shrugging. “It makes sense in that their main goal is to hunt demons and we’re fighting against the Legion. What else did I miss?” When he didn’t immediately answer and just sat there, staring down at his unmoving hands around the knife he’d been sharpening, Caren asked, “Nec?”
The rogue’s shoulders slumped heavily before he breathed, “Varian Wrynn is dead. My King is dead.”
Despite being labelled a traitor to Stormwind before his death, Necronim had always been fiercely protective of his former home. He’d never killed a human unless he had to and hadn’t ever subscribed to the methods or views of the rest of the Forsaken. He barely even claimed the title, preferring the generic undead to being lumped in with those he often called lunatics for their continued work with the plague that had killed them. When she’d convinced him to join the Horde after its foundation, he’d only sworn his loyalty to Thrall as Warchief and refused to make any allegiance to Sylvanas because he’d sworn allegiance to only one King or Queen and he wasn’t going to swear to another.
And now both were dead.
Caren bowed her head at that and murmured, “May the Earth Mother guide his steps.” Necronim muttered something in return that sounded suspiciously like the end prayer for human worshippers of the Light – though she knew he hadn’t practiced his faith since he was young – but she said nothing of it. Instead she simply slowly shifted her way forward across the floor so she could reach out and rest a hand on his shoulder, feeling him tremble for a moment underneath her grip.
Then he looked up at her and said, “The Legion is still coming, Caren. We didn’t stop anything .”
She knew he feared for her, for what was left of his family, for the few friends that he had accepted into what he dubbed the ragged shreds of his heart. That they had merely lost and not gained anything except the Illidari was…terrifying.
Refusing to give into fear, Caren reached for the strength and steady surety of the earth and said firmly, “Do not give up now, my friend. This fight is only just starting.”