The heat that washed over me made my skin hurt. For years, my warband fought the Flame Legion. We faced fire shamans, lava shamans and their fire elementals, and won. Once, we even battled a burning effigy and were victorious.
Compared to this, they were just amateurs; they were like cubs fighting imaginary wars with wooden sticks.
But this? This was living fire. No, this was much more. This was primordial fire, living manifestations of heat, rage and destruction. They were beings of lava and solidified rock. Although they didn’t have eyes that I could see, I sensed them looking at us. I could sense their desire to burn, to consume.
“Graymane!” I shouted, but my voice felt squeezed by the suffocating smoke.
Still, my voice was enough to shake him out of his state of shock. He stared at me with wide eyes.
“What is this?” I asked, moving towards the old charr.
“Nothing like you’ve ever faced before, cub.” His voice was ominously solemn. “These are Destroyers, minions of the Elder Dragon Primordus.”
Looking at the creatures, I was lost for words. Fighting living corpses was one thing, but how does one fight living fire and earth?
“The main reason the Priory positioned us here,” Graymane continued, “was because some were worried the Destroyers would find their way to the surface. I never thought their worries were justified.”
With a gulp, I readied my bow. “What can we do?”
Glancing at my bow, he said, “We must stop them, although I do not know how.”
I noticed Thornfang whimpering behind me. It was not like him to hide at all. Then I realized that he was, technically, a plant. Fire would be his downfall.
“Thornfang, run back to Silias and try to warn him of what’s going on.”
For a second, the wolf cocked his head and stared at me. Then he darted off back into the woods, I could do little more than hope that he understood what I asked of him. Turning my attention back to Graymane, I saw that he had drawn his scepter which he usually kept out of sight. It was little more than a stick with a gem on it.
“Got any plans, Graymane?”
“Not really,” he said with a sigh. “They don’t train us for this, you know?”
“They should have,” I muttered.
“You know what they say: there are old charr, and there are bold charr…”
I stared at him, fearing what he might do next. He would not be so stupid, would he?
He grinned with desperation. “I never wanted to die of old age anyway.”
“Wait a second!” I yelped. “Let’s not rush in just to die!”
As we were talking, one of the Destroyers moved towards us, leaving scorched earth and blackened grass in its wake. It looked like a mockery of a troll. I let loose an arrow which pierced the creature’s molten body. The arrow hit a stone plate on the minion’s back, briefly dislodging it. For a second, the Destroyer staggered, but the plate shifted back into place, and with a bright flash, the arrow burst into flames.
“It’s refreshing to hear that from you, cub,” Graymane said slowly, “but you should run.”
He waved his wand, producing trails of floating water. With intricate movements and with the muttering of words, he condensed the water into a projectile and shot it at the destroyer. The water slammed into the minion with an explosion of steam. The liquid fire solidified and the creature fell over, being no more than a statue stretching out in rage.
Water magic helped, but how could I help? I was anxious, trying to find a solution to the problem, but I could find none.
From the corner of my eye, I saw a bright light approaching. In an instant, I rolled aside and drew my sword. The Destroyer’s arm swung wide but missed me. Finding myself behind the creature, I stabbed the blade deep into the creature’s neck and instinctively twisted the sword. To my surprise, the plates that formed the minion’s head slumped to its torso, exposing the lava within to the cool morning air. As the liquid fire dripped over the creature’s body, it sizzled and sputtered, turning into hard stone.
With a loud crash, the minion fell to the earth, dead—if it was ever alive. I eyed my blade which was glowing red hot and I felt its heat reaching down into my paw. It was possible to kill these things, but doing so would be perilous.
Meanwhile, Graymane used his water magic to kill another three that were coming towards us. For a handful of heartbeats, hope flared within me, only to be crushed afterwards; the ranks of Destroyers seemed to thin out, until the ground erupted with a geyser of rock and lava. Rocks and boulders were thrown into the air with such ease, it was as if they were little more than leaves in an autumn storm. More and more minions of Primordus rose up from the depths of the world through the fresh breach.
The Destroyers walked this way and that, in a chaotic manner akin to the chaos of a wild fire. Suddenly, they all turned rigid and turned towards the breach. Climbing the fountain of lava, a harpy made of earth and lava flew up into the sky. When it spread its wing, a gust of singeing air blasted us, knocking us to the ground and robbing us of our breath.
Like cubs that fell in line as soon as their fahrar teacher entered, Primordus’ minions formed up and turned from a chaotic swarm into an army of all consuming flame.
When I looked over to Graymane for help, I saw that above all else, he had resigned.
“They have reconfigured their formation with on one of their lieutenants,” he said with a low growl. “We cannot win, not the two of us.”
“Then what do we do?”
“Come with me, before the lieutenant targets us.”
He dashed back into the forest and I followed closely. We dashed between the trees, a task made all the more difficult by the suffocating smoke and blistering heat. Within a minute, we made our way to a small creek.
“Block off the stream,” the old charr huffed. “We must create a reservoir of water!”
With a nod, I wove my way between the trees, picking up logs and branches. I ran back to place them in front of the water where Graymane had already gathered a couple of rocks. Using the rocks and the wood, we created a small dam and water quickly gathered up behind it.
Stick by stick, and stone by stone, we made the dam taller. More and more water was built up behind it. I was unsure as to what the old charr was planning to do with it, but I feared the worst.
We were working so hard on the dam that we failed to notice two of the minions rushing at us. As one of them was about the lunge at Graymane, I shouted in desperation. “Greymane!” He heard me just in time so that he could evade.
However, the old charr now lay sprawled on the ground, and the Destroyer was recovering quickly. With reckless abandon, I threw myself at the minion as I drew my blade. My left claw slammed into the creature, knocking him backwards. Ignoring the tormenting agony in my paw, I swiped my blade hard, severing off the top of the minion’s head. The thing shuddered as it collapsed to the ground.
I withdrew my claw and noticed that it was on fire. Even after putting it out, the horrendous pain lingered and my blacked fur could hardly cover the reddened skin beneath it. Biting through the pain, I drew my bow. With great effort, I managed to grip the bow tightly enough to let loose a quick, powerful shot at the oncoming destroyer. The arrow hit the minion with such force that it flew right through, taking a plate of stone with it.
As the minion fell to the ground, Graymane managed to scramble to his feet. He was staring at me, bewildered.
“Are you crazy, cub?” he gasped.
“Not more than usual,” I replied, biting through the pain.
The old charr turned his eyes towards the little pond we created. He looked sad.
“The lieutenant will know that we are here. It has seen us through its minions’ eyes.”
“Now what?” I asked with dread.
“Now? We move. Break the dam, it is time we dowse some Destroyers.”
I gave him an uneasy smile as I knocked out the dam. Graymane swung wildly with his scepter, muttering words faster that I thought was possible. The water rushed down the slope. However, it did not flow its natural path: it flowed towards the old charr.
“Come!” Graymane shouted as he started running, trailing the rush of water behind him.
I ran after him, holding my bow ready, and managed to catch up quickly enough. The old charr’s breathing was hard and labored. Every few steps, he nearly fell. Holding his shoulder with my right paw, I managed to keep him up, but I could see he was exhausted.
“What is the plan?” I demanded.
“We… will use this water… to close the breach… and kill the minions!” he said between raspy breaths.
“What about the harpy?” I asked.
He did not answer or look at me. Before I had time to press him for an answer, the rushing sound of the water was met by the raging sound of the fire. We were nearing the clearing, and the Destroyers turned towards us all at the same time.
“Don’t you dare follow me, Kumara!” the old charr shouted at me. “Or I will forever hunt you through the Mists!”
My mind had trouble discerning what he meant.
“What—“ I started, but Graymane shoved me hard, launching me against a tree and knocking me to the ground.
It took a while for me to regain my footing, and by the time I did, Graymane was nearly at the breach. I saw how several Destroyers rushed towards him, but he had placed himself in the middle of the water so his attackers were swept away, dead. From the sky, I saw the lieutenant plunge towards my mentor, but it was too late. With a violent explosion of steam and mist, the water rushed into the breach, solidifying it and forcing the lieutenant to break of its attack. The spray of water engulfed all the minions around the old charr on the ground, turning them into statues.
With one bold move, Graymane destroyed the Destroyers and blocked off their path to the surface. But, the water where my mentor stood only moments ago, was boiling. In my heart, I knew that there was no way the old charr had survived. My eyes blurred as I saw the Destroyer harpy fly down and incinerate the clearing below with vengeful fire, making sure that the kind charr was dead.
Lifting myself to my feet, I saw a deep hatred flare where the harpy’s eyes should have been. Eyes? It was looking at me!