“Talar… I must go with you,” he pleaded.
“King Greymane, my duty is to get you and your people to Darnassus safely.” He was shouting over the crackling thunder and whipping winds. “I cannot in good conscience risk your life as well. This is a dangerous task, which is why, as the leader of this expedition, I must be the one to embark on it. I refuse to risk any but a handful of my own people…. I promise you I will do all within my power to bring your wife and child back.”
“They are all I have, Talar. I must—”
“You must stay!” Talar made his way down the rope ladder and dropped into the boat. Quickly the lifeboats pushed off, heading toward the Elune’s Radiance and the tiny purple and pink specks that floated in the sea, their arms waving.
Genn watched the skiffs bouncing in the choppy waves. No. He could not stay. He could not. This was his family. He owed them much. Even now, with their world shattered to pieces, even accounting for every foolish choice he had made, Mia and Tess still believed in him and supported him. He took a deep breath and let out a roar. He could feel the change, his body expanding, his hair rapidly growing, his face extending into a grizzled muzzle.
With a loud howl, arching his back and reaching his arms out to the sky, he completed his transformation. He was a worgen, one of the wolf-men whom he had asked Arugal to summon all those years ago—one of the wolf-men who, with the Forsaken, had inevitably destroyed his nation. But in this form, he was faster and stronger. The curse that he had become afflicted with had its advantages.
He ran toward the starboard side of the ship, full speed. The wet deck didn’t affect his balance: he was singularly focused. The animal instinct inside him coursed through his veins. His mind was hell-bent on the act alone, nothing else, just the doing. And then, as he reached the railing, he jumped!
Talar turned sharply as he heard the howl. Above him, dropping down into his lifeboat, a hulk against the rain, was Greymane.
Greymane had landed perfectly on his feet, standing eye to eye with the druid. The Sentinels to his right and left instinctively pulled out their glaives to strike.
“In matters of my own family, I must act.” Genn’s voice was feral now, frightening.
Talar waved the Sentinels back. “Such a stubborn man.” But after a moment, Talar nodded.
The lifeboats bore toward the sinking ship. The Elune’s Radiance groaned, its wood slivering, its hull shattering, its bow now pointing into the sky.
“Ho there! Help!”
“By the Light, please, please save me!”
“Brother druid, help!”
Arms flailing, legs frantically paddling, Gilnean and kaldorei figures were trying with all of their might to keep their heads above the churning water.
The Sentinels on the boats grabbed clinging arms and yanked survivors out of the water. Talar and Genn’s lifeboat charged toward the broken transport ship. There were survivors high above on the upturned bow. Their screams faded into the whirling sounds all around them—rain, whipping winds, the teetering vessel. There weren’t many of them, or as many as there should have been… and Genn recognized that fact right away. The others must have been taken by the Great Sea or the beasts that lingered in her eternal belly.
“Mia! Tess!” Genn called out. His eyesight was better in his worgen form, and through the rain he could not see his family on the bow. “They must be inside still! They must.”
“Advance onto the ship. Get the lines up there. Now!”
The Sentinels aboard the skiff flung their glaives high, now with sturdy rope attached. The ancient weapons embedded themselves into the bow, and the ropes uncoiled, dangling down into the strong hands of the female warriors.
“They are not up there. If they live, they must be inside.” Without waiting for a response, Genn leaped from the lifeboat and clung to the rivets jutting out of the ship’s hull. He climbed up to one of the portholes whose glass had been broken.
“Greymane! Stop. Survivors are always ordered to the bow or stern! If they live, they will be?” But it was too late. Genn had already ripped out the wooden frame around the porthole and disappeared inside the sinking ship.
“Fool… he’ll drown. If he wishes to be on his own, then so be it,” Talar whispered. With that, he shifted forms into that of a massive storm crow and soared high into the gray sky toward the bow and the survivors atop it.
Inside the ship a fire roared. Clouds of deep-gray smoke billowed. Genn could barely see. The heat was sweltering, and breathing was a labored affair. Everything was at an angle, tipped on its ear. The halls were crooked and riddled with fractured boards and charred furnishings. Above Genn, outside of the cabin, he could hear the desperate shouts of survivors.
With a committed breath, he let the rage that was natural to this feral form consume him, and he was off, rushing out of the cabin into the sideways hall, through the flames and crumbling ship frame.