The orc at Ziya's feet stirred, his hideous wounds closing.
"Good intentions, huh?" Druz said.
"All of this is our fault," Ziya said quietly.
Druz chuckled. "At least we won't live to regret it."
Ziya charged into the battle, and Druz followed.
Stormwind fell. The orcs reigned supreme. For a time.
The Dark Portal, left unguarded, was reclaimed by the Burning Legion. Horrors rose from the sea and found no champions left to stop them.
Azeroth's mountains burned and melted. Its oceans boiled until nothing remained. And all was dark.
All was light.
Dimming now, the blank scroll still cast a long, standing shadow before Lorewalker Shuchun and turned the beaded tracks of water on the lorevault's walls into a net strung with shining pearls.
The bullet hung frozen just in front of Shuchun, the last link between the two goblins and their terrible future.
Lorewalker Shuchun reached out, plucked the bullet from the air, and laid it carefully on the ground.
"'Lorewalker Shuchun turned to the scroll,'" she said. "'In a way, Druz was correct. The scroll was as simple as a gun. But guns can be fired accidentally. Bullets can hit the wrong targets. So, Lorewalker Shuchun aimed carefully and said…
"'"The images the two goblins saw weren't true."'"
The room twisted, knocking the goblins to the ground. Shuchun didn't move an inch.
"'None of the horrors they witnessed had actually happened.'"
Ziya bent her head beneath the sickening, ebbing waves of memory, of the losses and old wounds she no longer had.
She heard, "'And everything was as it was.'"
Ziya looked up in the sudden calm. Shuchun tucked the tightly wrapped scroll behind her shoulder.
"Was that real?" Ziya said. "Any of it?"
Shuchun considered the question.
"You will sleep better," she said, "if I do not answer that."
She held out her paws to help them up. Ziya took one. Druz did not.
"You could have used the scroll like that whenever?" he said. It sounded like an accusation.
"Made me do the things I—"
"Made you?" Shuchun said, and there was no gentleness in her tone anymore. "You believe peace is impossible because you haven't tried it. You think war will continue because it has never ended, and you make hard decisions with no fear of the consequences.
"You chose your path," Lorewalker Shuchun said, and she took a breath. "I saved you from it."
Druz's jaw flexed. "Why did you take us through the lorevault at all, then? Why not make us forget we found anything?" Ziya realized he was pleading.
Shuchun's smile was both kind and unnervingly sharp.
"Maybe you needed to find out what simple answers cost," she said.
They said their farewells on the beach in the fresh, salty air.
"You have a safe place for that thing?" Druz said, nodding at the scroll. Something had broken in him; that much was clear. But it had been reforged into something different. Something stronger.
"Yes," Shuchun said.
"Good. Sergeant, take some time off. Paid, of course," he added when Ziya's mouth opened. "Make sure the Lorewalker gets where she needs to go."
And he climbed back up the rope to the uberzeppelin without another word, hand over hand.
Ziya and Shuchun walked away from the coast along a rising path. The uberzeppelin lurched into the distance as if the pilot were drunk. He probably was.
"Where to?" said Ziya.
"This way," Shuchun said, pointing. "We have a bit of a journey before us."
Ziya twisted the ring hanging from her neck. To her surprise, she was smiling. It would be nice, for a change, to protect rather than attack. To believe that war and all of the horrors it brought could end.
They traveled in silence.
"Want to hear a story?" Shuchun said.