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Homeward Bound
#1
She scowled. "And you're sure this portal will actually get me back home?"

The ethereal shrugged. "All of our research points to yes. Contact with our formerly-lost cousins on Outland is sporadic enough; we didn't even know your Azeroth existed until you landed on our doorstep. It's amazing enough that we managed to pinpoint your world's location in the void so soon, we thought it'd be months longer."

"If this thing drops me in the middle of the Great Dark Beyond I am coming back to haunt you."

"Oh, please don't," the ethereal said fervently. "We're so looking forward to the peace and quiet of getting you out of our metaphorical hair."

"You'll miss me," the blood elf said, grinning smugly.

"Whatever allows you to sleep at night. Although, if you would be so kind-"

"If I've told you before, I've told you a thousand times, the Consortium actually likes me. I am not going to allow the good will I spent months currying with your cousins to go up in smoke by negotiating an exclusive trade alliance with certain factions on Azeroth, I like that discount I get shopping in Stormspire. Discussion, end of."

The ethereal sighed. "Oh well, at least I can tell the Prince I tried," it said, then held out its gauntleted hand. "Fare thee well, Lailya Lunamortis. May the winds of good fortune travel ever at your back."

Lailya smiled and shook the ethereal's hand. "And may the winds of prosperity travel ever at your's. Thank you for all of your help, Faheem."

"It was our pleasure." The ethereal bowed low and walked away.

Letting out a deep breath, the warlock turned on her heel and strode over to where Zoranaku patiently waited. The cobalt netherdrake stood up and shook the saddle and harness into place (Pizpit, crouched on Zora's head, yelped in indignation, but the drake pointedly ignored the imp), then crouched down before her friend. "Done saying goodbye to your boyfriend?" the drake said cheerfully.

"Since I have long given up trying to convince you that Faheem is just my bloody friend-" here Zora laughed "-then yes," said Lailya as she hauled herself up into the saddle. As Pizpit scurried down Zora's neck to hop onto his usual spot on Lailya's right shoulder, the warlock double-checked that all of her packs were strapped down securely, then buckled herself into the saddle. She turned to stare at the swirling portal.

It had been nearly a year and a half by Azerothian reckoning since she and Zora had been caught in an electrical storm that had rolled in from the sea while scouting the skies near the Twilight Citadel in the Twilight Highlands. The sheer natural power the storm contained had disturbed something around the Citadel, already magically unstable due to so many rifts to various planes being ripped open by cultists in the area and to the presence of so much elementium, and the magic in the area had gone wild and tears in the fabric of reality had begun opening and closing at random in between lightning strikes in the skies above the Citadel. Zora and Lailya had desperately tried to weave and dodge their way to safety, but an unlucky hit had thrown them into a rift that had ended up sending them hurtling through the Twisting Nether.

They'd ended up on a dry world that had gone unnoticed by the Burning Legion. They'd been found, battered and severely injured by wild magic, by the planet's only sapient inhabitants: ethereals who had fled from K'aresh and lost all contact with their brethren on the opposite end of the Nether. They managed a lively trade empire in their corner of the Great Dark Beyond, with access to a few neighboring worlds, and they'd brought the warlock and her netherdrake companion to their main settlement on the dustball world they called Windholme. It had taken months to heal the damage caused by travelling through an unstable rift, and Lailya, while grateful for the help, had quite happily driven her hosts up the wall with her pestering questions about getting home and her entreaties to be let outside for "just ten minutes, I'm going stir-crazy!"

On the bright side, they had figured out a way to strengthen the muscles in her legs that had been ravaged by her uncontrolled use of magic during the Twilight's Hammer's assault on the tribe's hall. She only needed her cane on truly horrendous days, and those were few and far between, thankfully. She still kept it, though - it never hurt to have an opponent understatement you if he thought his target was weak.

And here she was, fingers crossed that she and the arcane scholars - Faheem chief among them - had gotten everything right, that the location was right, the portal was powerful enough...

Lailya shook herself out of her reverie and gripped the guide lines on the harness. Nothing left except to trust herself to fate. "All right," she breathed, Pizpit immediately gripping onto her shoulder for dear life, "let's do this.

"Zora? Go."

"You got it, boss!" the netherdrake said and with a powerful beat of her wings, launched herself airborne. She spiraled up and up into Windholme's pale sky, and then folded her wings to her sides and dived - straight down and into the swirling vortex of the portal.

Lailya gasped as the magic washed over her for one heartbeat, then two, then three - and suddenly they were plunging through a cloudbank as the portal closed behind them. They burst into open sky moments later and the netherdrake spread and beat her wings to slow down and hover as they orientated themselves, and then Zora was doing a victory twirl midair and Pizpit was yelling something about damn dragons in Eredun and Lailya was whooping and laughing and crying because she recognized the land below them, the hills and dales and clusters of trees. How could she not, she'd only flown the air currents above the Ironsong Tribe's hall a million and one times.

Home. Finally, blessedly, home.

----------------------------------

Hi, everyone! *waves* Guess who's back with a handy-dandy IC reason for going AWOL for so long?
[-] The following 1 user Likes Lailya's post:
  • rincewindy
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#2
Welcome Home!
Shantow the Bear
The Ironsong Tribe


"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." King
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#3
Zlinka was sitting outside the guild hall on a chilly evening in early spring. The wind rustled the grass on its way up from the rolling foothills of Mulgore, far below, and crested their hill full of the scents of early flowers.

This was a good time of day, early evening, when the many daily chores in the guild hall were done, but before the night's tactical and strategy meetings. The birds were quieting down for the night, and behind her, Zlinka heard the first cricket of the evening. And then...

The air ripped apart with a great, thundering crack! Zlinka leapt to her feet, hand on the hilt of her dagger, already crouching, already melting into the shadows, heart pounding in her ears.

What was that?

It had come from... above. She peered upwards. A purple swirl of was just disappearing in the darkening sky. But in front of it, movement. A rippling, a movement of the stars, a shadow darker than the evening sky. Something was there but also not quite there. Gliding on silent wings.

A netherdrake.

A great netherdrake, the first stars of night twinkling through its wings.

Zlinka's face relaxed into a smile. It had been years since she had seen a netherdrake in full flight. But it could mean only one thing.

Zlinka stood up straight, emerged from the shadows, and waved.

Landing softly in front of the guild hall, the netherdrake closed its wings with a comfortable little shake. On its back sat a blood elf, red-haired and green-eyed, dressed in the dark robes of a warlock. An imp hopped up and down on the saddle, barely containing its excitement.

Zlinka stepped toward the netherdrake and extended her hand in greeting.

"Lailya," she said, smiling, "Welcome home."
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