Tales, Comics, Videos

Velen:Prophet’s Lesson

by Marc Hutcheson

The draenei are leaving! enough of them thought for panic to infect the camp. They take the Prophet with them!

The unseen had become a savior to the refugees, the Prophet a talisman against the horrors of the Cataclysm. Like most mobs, this one had no single leader, and there was no moment that could be pointed to when fear and worry boiled over into action. And yet, almost the entire camp found itself surging recklessly toward the Exodar.

* * *

How did one answer the call of centuries, the challenge to see each day anew and not as a repetition of banality that could only end in sorrow? The heaviest burden for the being who had been only Velen and was now the Prophet—a force, a myth, an abstraction—was the loneliness of higher comprehension. He could not unsee the seen. And he knew this weariness, this lack of daily conviction, was his once brethren's greatest weapon against him.

Have you tired of the death you bring worlds? Velen wondered of his lost friend Kil'jaeden. Do you ever doubt, in the blackness of your soul, the choices you have made?

Yet these were old worries, ancient musings.

In one possible future, he'd seen a successive Lich King rise from the Frozen Throne, even more terrible than Arthas or Ner'zhul, and sweep across the land with thousands of skeletal warriors in his wake. When the Legion returned, it was to a world already dead, and the demons laughed and played with the unnaturally risen draenei—all to spite Velen for the chase he'd led across the universe.

He'd seen the maddened Earth-Warder, the Destroyer, burn the world and then begin to contemplate the deaths of his own children, the black dragonflight, to slake his psychopathic need to end things.

Please, he begged of the Light. Show me the path.

* * *

The mob had lost all intelligence because of its numbers, all reason in the crowd's passions. The draenei tried to parley, but to no avail, and when the alarm sounded and the paladins, vindicators, priests, and magi took the field against the rabble, the tragically predictable happened. The defenders were faced with an impossible choice: fight only to subdue and push back, risking death at the hands of a lesser foe; or slay allies they had no wish to kill. War was a thing to be engaged in completely or not at all, and the draenei were reminded of this when Vindicator Romnar fell beneath the surge as he made his way to the gates to investigate what disturbance his tests had caused. The vindicator was grievously wounded by the mob before the other draenei were able to pull him behind their lines to safety.

Seeing Romnar go down brought back memories to Maraad of battling the undead, and his crystalline hammer no longer merely parried but began to come down with crushing force on the invaders. Once he had cut loose the bonds of mercy, the rest of the draenei followed, and the beginnings of a slaughter were writ in the blood of the refugees.

* * *

"Prophet! You must come! You must!" Anduin cried out to Velen's levitating back. The panic in the boy's voice cut through the visions, and Velen wrenched his attention to the present, spun to face his charge.

"What has happened?" Velen asked in his ageless tone.

"The refugees are mobbing the Exodar. Your people are attacking them! Attacking innocents."

Velen felt it. The path. There were two forks, and he could see the child leading him down one. At the end of the other was shadow. Such a burden, that so much could turn on small choices. Was this, then, the meaning of his earlier vision? That the marker to lead Velen out from the wilderness, back to the Light's road, lay with the child?

"What does your war matter to those fighting outside?" the boy yelled. And then, recalling his dream, he said, "Every life is a universe!"