"I am Vindicator Maraad, formerly of the Alliance command in Northrend," Maraad ritually uttered. "I seek audience with the Prophet."
"The Prophet is seeing no one, Vindicator Maraad. I am sorry I must deny you after your long journey."
Now this was unexpected.
"It is still early in the eve. You are saying the Prophet refuses to see me? I have come all the way from Northrend, and you have not even asked him."
The Shield was clearly uncomfortable. "Again, my apologies, Vindicator. He is seeing no one at the moment."
"Should I return in the morning?"
"I advise against it, Vindicator. The Prophet has granted audience to no one but the human prince for many weeks. I will take note of your visit and summon you when his mandate changes."
Maraad regarded the Shield for several moments, the vindicator's thoughts inscrutable, before returning the way he'd come.
Anduin stood before his mentor in contemplative silence. It was impossible to truly understand the age and wisdom of Velen, so in the manner of the young, the prince simply accepted him as a given force of nature—like the sun or moons. The Prophet's back was turned to him, and Velen levitated in a meditative pose the boy had seen many times in the previous weeks.
"Why didn't you warn the world about the Cataclysm?" Anduin blurted out.
The turned back didn't shift position. There was neither a twitch nor a slouch to betray the thoughts of Velen, but something hung in the quiet following the question, something heavy.
"I watch for the path, for the Light to illumine our way past the Legion and its destructive mission. I alone can see the path. I alone can reveal it to the forces of the Light."
Anduin reflected on what he'd just heard. "It seems a terrible burden."
The Prophet spun slowly in the air to face the prince. "That is why I travel the paths of tomorrow. The Legion and the Old Gods burn holes in the fabric of the future, and if I can see them, can prepare the mortal races, we may yet avert disaster."
"What if you fail?"
Velen's ageless serenity cracked for a moment, replaced for a fleeting instant with pain and sorrow in overwhelming measure, made all the more frightening by the calm before and after.
"Let me show you something," the ancient draenei whispered. He unfolded himself and drifted closer to the ground. Still floating a few inches above the metal flooring of the Exodar, the Prophet closed the distance and placed his hand on the prince's brow.
"I am sorry. But it is necessary," the Prophet said.
The Exodar fell away, and there were only vast stretches of darkness punctuated by lights and mystic energies. Then, a sudden rush, and Anduin stood on strange ground under an unfamiliar sky. There were four prominent moons competing for his attention, an amber atmosphere, and rock formations made from the blue-tinted ground twisting in a thousand different ways. Anduin couldn't see any water, but the colored rock gave the impression of warring waves suddenly frozen at the whim of some godlike artist. There were creatures scattered over the terrain and swirling through the sky, so varied and other that they defied description. Colors and different means of locomotion and patterns formed from dance or play or war... little of it made any sense, and Anduin was simply left struggling to grasp the wonderful abstract chaos of it all.