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Velen:Prophet’s Lesson

by Marc Hutcheson

The refugees were all human. Undoubtedly, the dwarves were too proud to forsake their homelands; the night elves were undaunted even by Deathwing's rage; and the gnomes were... well, gnomes . What fear could they have of molten fire and earthquakes when an explosion was always just a malfunction away?

The refugees were afraid, hungry, and sick. Fevers raged among them with regularity, and the young prince would use his talents when epidemics swept the camp. Given his efforts, he found it impossible not to be stung by the comments he heard as he passed a group of refugees sitting in a circle, doing nothing useful beyond idle conversation. "Alien's pet," one said. "The Prophet sees the boy but refuses us?" was the reply. The rest of the exchange was lost as he walked past. Anduin spent a lot of time observing people, quietly watching the movements of their souls in their faces. And in many of the exiles' eyes, he saw the same accusation he'd heard aloud just moments before. The talk of the camp was against him, and it was difficult to suppress his resentment. I've done nothing but help, the prince thought.

But then, an unwelcome doubt came. Why doesn't Velen see them?

* * *

The memories of frosted air and the dead north gradually lost their grip on the gryphon rider as he flew through the warm climes of Kalimdor. The gryphon's burden was both heavier and quieter than what the beast was accustomed to. Usually, the earthbound were either awed by the new perspective of flight or frightened by the soaring and maneuvers that were commonplace among those who flew. Even if the typical traveler said little aloud, small noises and tension in the legs spoke volumes to the sensitive, observant gryphon. In contrast, serenity and stillness... these were the nature of his current rider.

Someone who had seen scores of worlds and warred against the Burning Legion in an endless conflict would find nothing noteworthy in flight across Azeroth. Vindicator Maraad had preoccupations that overshadowed the beauty of the view. The north was secure; the darkness of the Lich King, vanquished; and now it was time to turn his energy elsewhere. He'd heard of the return of the Destroyer, of the devastation Azeroth faced, but he was draenei; what did a threat to a single world mean to him? The Legion stalked the Twisting Nether, was still presumably destroying any life the demonic army encountered.

As he flew over Azuremyst by moonslight, he was shocked to see myriad tiny lights mirroring, poorly, the stars above. For just a moment, in a strange fancy of thought, Maraad saw the lights as their own little worlds before he corrected himself and glanced upward. The heavens were his concern. Always.

Was this an army camped near the Exodar ? Why hadn't he been told?

The gryphon flew through a metal portal in the Exodar's hull and was taken in hand by the hippogryph master Stephanos. Stephanos bowed slightly.

"Congratulations on the victory in the north, Vindicator. It is good to see you home."

"Home? There is no home for us, brother. Not truly. We are the wanderers of the universe, the exiles of lost Argus. We should never forget that. What are the campfires I witnessed on the way here? Has an army dared our isle?"

"No, Vindicator. They are refugees fleeing the horrors of the Cataclysm. They hope the Prophet will deliver them."

Maraad frowned, an expression that sat strangely on his features. "As do we all, brother."

The vindicator didn't wait for a response. He moved quickly and with purpose straight toward the Seat and then, without pausing, in the direction of Velen's chambers. His hooves echoed on the crystalline floor with each step, and as he passed the two Shields standing guard before the entranceway, Maraad looked for anything suggesting a lack of vigilance. Never again , he thought. Draenor was enough.

It wasn't until he reached the doorway to the Prophet's receiving room that one of the Shields broke his statuelike pose. The guard stepped forward, blocking the way. This was not unexpected.