Picking up where we last left off, Khraden completes his conversation with Afrasastrasz at Wyrmrest Temple.
((((( Continued… )))))
“I thank you deeply, master Afrasastrasz. I will no longer be a burden on your time,” I quickly replied, knowing that I could trust the dragon. I then made my way onto the platform in front of the dragon’s post, where a red drake slowly walked towards me. She had a slight pinkish hue amongst the crimson scales, and despite her likely age, seemed young for her species.
“Good evening, human, my name is Quecorastrasza, it’s been requested that I bring you before my queen’s prime consort. This… is a bit unusual at this time in the evening, is it not?” the dragon sweetly spoke, with a silky innocent tone.
“Yes, I would assume so. I still have some work ahead of me in convincing Master Krasus… or would it be more respectful to say Lord Korialistrasz…” I hesitated a moment, gathering what I should say. “Either way, I fear that I simply cannot accomplish what he can. And fear my life may be at risk.”
“That is a bit disheartening. You needn’t worry though. Lord Korialistrasz is wise beyond any mortal’s imagination, I am sure he could decipher what you are in need of,” she replied, reassuringly. “I have heard great things about some of your kind. Your determination in the face of certain defeat, knowing that most if not all of you may die in the battles laid out before you. I have respect for that. Please, climb atop my back, I will bring you to the top of the temple. Please remember to pay proper respect to those who may be still holding meetings there, even at this late hour.”
I nodded, thanking the young drake, and climbing atop her scaled back. I gripped the grooves behind her neck, hoping not to agitate her, but also not wanting to fall off. I had ridden drakes before, in the Oculus, and against Malygos, even upon wild Netherdrakes in Outland, but never seemed to get used to it. I think that I even picked up on a chuckle as the drake stretched her wings and strolled towards the edge of the terrace. With little warning, she leapt into the air, pulling her wings back again, with me grasping tightly to her back, holding on for dear life. Once we had cleared the terrace, she dove slightly, and opened her wings again, a snap of the leathery membrane between the structures of her wings filling my ears. She quickly leveled out, and turned back towards the temple. We began to gain altitude as we circled the tower, finally reaching the precipice of the mighty building.
Atop the temple was a flat terrace, ringed by sturdy columns and topped with an ornate dome. Beneath the dome hung a reflective, glowing orb, seeming to hover of its own will just below the pinnacle. I could not determine what it was made of, but the light that it emitted seemed to sooth those in its presence. It was here that I had first met the Lifebinder, the Queen of all Dragons, Alexstrasza. It was here that she charged the mortal races to assist her in the defeat of one of her close friends, and fellow Dragon Aspect Malygos. It was from here that she and her kin left and pushed Arthas back at the Wrathgate after Grand Apothecary Putress’s betrayal. It was here that I stood, once again before the Queen and her prime consort, though for a very much more humble request. She was not the queen of any human nations, she did deserve respect, and so, I included her in my request to Korialistrasz since she was present.
“Good evening Queen Alexstrasza, and Master Korialistrasz, I come to you this evening with a humble request. I hope that it is not beneath you to fulfill this, but I would not be disappointed if other matters were of more import,” I said, kneeling honorably to the couple, as they stood stoically before me.
Surprisingly, Queen Alexstrasza was first to respond with a bit of a chuckle, “dear child, I may not be your queen by right, but I know of you, I know of all those who live on Azeroth. I also know of your service to my kin, and your part, small as it may be, in the fall of the Lich King and my dear brother Malygos. Do not be hesitant to ask of us even the most humble request. For what your kind has done, it would be the least that we could do. Not but a week ago, we assisted a compatriot of yours in writing a letter home, so how much more humble could your request be?”
Korialistrasz, looking down slightly, his height nearly a third greater than mine then replied, “*humph* yes, how much more humble?”
Alexstrasza shot a stare at Korialistrasz, deep and powerful enough to burn a hole through any mortal’s will. “This is unbecoming of you, my dear, these mortal races, no matter their faults, have done more for our kind over the past decade, then some of our own brethren, and at the risk of death or worse. It is the least that we could do to accommodate even the humblest request.”
Korialistrasz, seemingly unphased by the retort replied, “I understand, my Queen, however there is still much to do to rebuild our flights. The Blue dragonflight continues to roam, leaderless, and lost.” He turned away slightly, lowering his voice, “I also have concerns of the recent tremors that have been reported. I fear the Lich King, let alone Malygos, may have been the least of our troubles.” He then returned his gaze to me, his voice still deep, but a bit more accepting of my presence, “Khraden, young paladin of the Argent Crusade, I apologize for my actions. The responsibilities of our flight are great, and tend to provide unwanted stress on most of us. What is it that we can help you with?”
I was taken aback by the recent conversation between the two great dragons. I did not fear them, but also did not want to waste their time on such a menial task as translating a letter. I did still feel the need to discover what I would be walking into upon reaching Stormwind, but torn on how to go about it. Taking a deep breath, and standing as firmly as possible, I finally spoke, “I do not wish to take your time. I believe that I should be apologizing for my intrusion at such an odd hour. I do however need assistance in translating letter, passed on to me from an unknown source… it seems foreboding, even malevolent, though I trust that the Light may be able to protect me in the end. Instead of requesting that either of you provide a translation, could you possibly point me in the direction of a cache of books or library where I may render its meaning myself?”
Korialistrasz let out a rumbling laugh turning his gaze towards his mate. “You see, my dear, we need not accommodate every request. As I have learned upon my centuries with these mortal races, they are willing to do more themselves, than we might expect. I sometimes envy your love for these younger races.” He then turned back to me, trying to avoid the crossed armed gaze that Alexstrasza was giving him, “yes, return to the lowest level, and speak with Demestrasza, she should be able to give you directions to our cache of ancient texts. Be wary, though, some of these documents have existed since before your race first took steps under the sun.”
“Of course, milord,” I replied appreciatively. “It will be of utmost importance to me that nothing is damaged.” Excitedly, I turned back towards Quecorastrasza who had been waiting for our meeting to convene. I climbed atop her back once again, and she leapt off of the terrace, and we began to descend towards the main entrance to the temple. As we landed, I noticed some of the dragonkin guards, normally standing stoically at both sides of the entryway, gripping their weapons tighter than usual. It was then, then I noticed a pile of snow and ice had fallen from one of the upper levels onto the ground just outside the entrance. Unbeknownst to Quecorastrasza or I at the time, another tremor had set in, this one slightly stronger than the last, though it had since subsided.
Thanking Quecorastrasza again for her assistance, I entered the lower levels of the Wyrmrest Temple and looked around to find Demestrasza. She sat quietly, at a small desk in one of the alcoves of the large domed room, reading over what appeared to be supply lists, troop manifests, and guest rosters. Hoping not to disturb her to suddenly, I walked quietly towards the small alcove, changing my path ever so slightly so that I would appear in her peripheral vision. Fortunate for me, it worked, and she lifted her head from the pile of parchment before her, and looked in my direction.
“It certainly is a late hour for someone to be wandering around the temple. Can I possibly be of assistance?” she said, laying down her quill.
“Yes, it is late indeed, I apologize for the interruption, however I was told that you may be able to direct me to a library of some sort within the temple,” I replied appreciatively. “I am in need of doing some research before the final leg of my journey home.”
“Of course, please, take those stairs there on the far end of the room, and continue down the hall on your left, once you have reached the top… I believe that there are a couple of visitors up there from Dalaran at the moment, so you may be able to find what you need with their help.” She turned back to the stack of papers she had been working on, “I am sure you have been told of the importance that some of those books have, so please, do be careful.”
“Of course, thank you so much,” I replied, pressing my hands together and bowing to her. I made my way up the long twisting stairway. Upon reaching the landing, I followed the hallway to a set of stone doors, one of them already having been propped open with a stone doorstop, shaped like a stylized dragon claw.
The flicker of candlelight could be seen reflecting of the marble surface of the stone door. As I entered the room, my nose was assaulted by the musty smells of antiquated books and ancient scrolls. Laid out before me was row upon row of bookshelves. Some held books that seemed far too large for mere human hands to carry, others glowing with runes and mystical auras. On each side of the fairly large room were long tables, stretching from one end to the other, a candelabrum placed every couple of yards. At one of these tables sat several individuals, they appeared to be members of the Kirin Tor, considering that they all wore the same tabard. They were a mix of several races, human, high elf, gnome, and even a blood elf, though tensions seemed to not exist between them. Trying not to disturb their work, I made my way to the other side of the room, in awe at the sheer number of books and texts that I was among.
Then it occurred to me… I did not have a clue as to where to begin my search. So, despite my conundrum, I simply began browsing the hundreds of shelves, hoping to run across something that may help me.
Engrossed in my search, which had been going on for nearly an hour, I did not notice one of the others in the room coming down the same aisle that I was. It was the gnome with the cadre, draped in a frosty blue robe. I nearly tripped over him before he looked up at me, being nearly half my height, and waved his arm. “Hi there stranger. I see that you seem to be having trouble finding something. Can I help ya?” he stated, nonchalantly, his voice much higher pitch than mine, but fairly common among his race.
A bit startled by the encounter, I quickly turned to him stuttering a bit, “Um, uh, well yes, actually. I am in need of a translation. I was given a missive from an unknown source a day ago. I had thought that I had never seen the language before, but just this evening, it dawned upon me that it was a very old and forgotten dialect, often used by death knights, and those who were once a part of the Cult of the Damned. Would you happen to know where I could look, here, in this library, to translate it? I have the note here, if it may help.” I pulled the note from my libram, being far more prepared this time around, showing it to the mage.
“Ooohhh…“ he paused, stroking his handlebar mustache with his right hand, “hmmm, actually…” he then walked further down the aisle, at a much faster speed than I had expected for someone of his stature. He reached up onto the second shelf, pulling out an old dusty, unremarkable book.
I followed him apprehensively, kneeling down beside him once I had reached his position. “Is this book what I need to translate this?” I said hoping against hope that it would be this simple.
“This? Oh no no no no, this is actually an story book like the one my mother used to read to my little brother and I some forty years ago. I was surprised that the dragons would have a copy,” he cackled a little, placing the book back on the shelf after skimming a few pages.
I was dumbfounded and confused. I looked over at the little gnome, my disappointment apparent on my features. “Oh, well… that is interesting,” I replied nodding my head out of habit. “Have you ever heard of the language that I was talking…”
He quickly interjected. “Yes, yes, I have heard of it, come, follow me.” He then darted back the direction we had come from, towards the table at the side of the room opposite his comrades. He looked back, motioning his hand towards me to invoke that I should hurry.
I quickly stood, and followed him towards one of the candle lit areas, pulling my libram from my side, and having it ready to present the letter to him. Oddly, where he had led us, there were no books stacked, only an open tablespace. Once I had reached the table, the gnome looked up at me and chuckled a bit. “Yes, stranger, I know the language. It is a very very old dialect. It has been theorized that it is an unused archaic form of Gutterspeak, you know, what the Forsaken use regularly.” He then looked down towards the floor, his demeanor changing ever so slightly, “I had a cousin who was lost nearly four years ago. I had feared him dead, but the truth was far worse. We discovered him here, in Northrend, hanging onto his ‘unlife’ by a thread. He had escaped the grip of the Lich King whilst serving with Thassarian, but was attacked while on his way to rendezvous with Valiance Keep. My collegues and I were on a mission to secure assistance from the nearby tuskarr when we found him. It took nearly a week for him to recover enough to even speak. It was then that a whole slew of memories struck him, and they struck him hard, nearly knocking him unconscious again.”
The gnome took a moment to shake off what almost seemed to be fear in his eyes. “He then began to talk, not in common, or even any language I had ever heard before, but this foreboding dark language. I had heard nothing like it before. He continued, off and on for several days…. I’m sorry, I’ve rambled on. Anyway, yes, I can help you, but it may take a little while.”
“I am very appreciative for your help…” I stopped, realizing that I did not even know his name.
“Midnight, Midnight Maxsprocket, but my friends just crunch it together and call me Midnight Max,” he replied seeming to realize my folly.
“Midnight, yes, again, I appreciate your help. Please take your time, I do not leave for a few days,” I continued, being sure that I did not impose too much on the unexpected helper.
Over the course of the next two days, Midnight would assist me in the translation of the missive. It took a little longer than expected, as references to the language were few and far between. Nearing sunset on the second evening, we had finally deciphered the elusive message.
“Stormwind, Blue Recluse. Do not look for me, I will find you. The end nears.
– Brothers till the end.”
I sat, quietly, pondering its meaning, unraveling its purpose. Then, as if I had been struck across the chest with a war hammer, a revelation suddenly occurred to me, and one name rang through my ears, though only I could hear it. Khrados.