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Chapter Two: The Dark Portal

September 17, 2008

Long after Kess had gone, Teaka remained lost in memories.  Her thoughts returned, as they so often did, to the last time she had seen Aleathea.

After months of planning and training the raid team had assembled in Stranglethorn Vale and launched a daring assault on the Temple of Hakkar.  Against all odds they had succeeded.  Hakkar’s priests had been slain and Hakkar himself defeated in a battle that was their crowning achievement.  She had never seen Aleathea so elated.  As they said goodbye, she and Aleathea embraced and promised to meet back in Stormwind shortly.  The team was due for a couple days of rest before heading out for a recon mission in the Burning Steppes.

Teaka was not prepared for the scene that met her arrival in Stormwind.  Whole sections of the city lay in ruins.  Bodies of the fallen littered the streets where giant Core Hounds roamed unchecked.  The Dark Portal was open, the invasion had begun.

The team assembled hastily in the Dwarven District for an emergency meeting.  They were all accounted for – except one.

“Aleathea planned to stop by Morgan’s Vigil to deliver a message to Marshall Maxwell.”  A note of deep concern sounded in Romer’s voice.  “She should have been back by now.” 

Teaka felt a sense of dread as Ariahna entered a mind vision.  “She is at the camp.  They are under attack and taking heavy damage.”  Fearocidy was already preparing a summons.  “Hurry, Frosty, we may already be too late.”

Morgan’s Vigil, Burning Steppes

The sky was thick with smoke, flames erupted on every side and the roar of Core Hounds filled the air.  She arrived just as the attack began and joined the soldiers defending the camp.  Despite their valiant efforts, it was soon apparent there could be no victory.  The best they could hope to accomplish was to buy time for those evacuating the camp.  Their defenses weakened as wave after wave of the Hound’s fiery breath assaulted them.  Flames seared her skin and she staggered as soldiers on either side fell.  The long battle with Hakkar had left her weak.  She could feel the last reserves of her strength failing.  Another blast wave engulfed her and she fell to her knees.

Through the pain she felt the prickling sensation that indicated a priest’s mind vision and the next moment she felt the familiar pull of a summons.  A deep feeling of gratitude swept through her.  She was not alone.  As always, her friends had found her when she needed them most.  Gathering her strength, she struggled to her feet and surveyed the camp.  The last evacuees were making for the gryphons, but with the soldiers down there was nothing standing in the way of the Hounds.  One of them had spotted the fleeing figures and was closing in rapidly … they would not make it in time.

Aleathea closed her eyes as memories flooded back … evenings spent with Romer beside the waterfalls in Feralas, the night she met Mordinnas and became a part of the team, standing with her friends beside the fallen body of Hakkar.  She smiled through the pain.  To have known these heroes and called them friends was more than she could have asked from life.  She had treasured every moment and her only regret was to leave them so soon.

As the unanswered summons faded, she called on the Light she had served all her life to give her strength.  Drawing her weapon for the last time, an iridescent shield enveloped her in light as she charged, as she had countless times before, to defend those without hope.

As Ariahna’s mind vision faded a ray of light illuminated the sky, revealing the gryphons and riders as they soared to safety.

***Commentary on Chapter Two***

This was my favorite chapter to write. 

In the months leading up to the BC expansion our raid team had steadily worked its way through Zul’Gurub.  We had downed all the sub bosses but had not yet downed Hakkar.  Two weeks before BC was scheduled for release we held our last raid.   We all knew this was the last time we would see this instance and we didn’t really expect to down Hakkar.  We just wanted to enjoy one last hurrah together.

That night was the kind that comes only once in a WoW lifetime.  The kind you remember forever.  We one shotted every sub boss and then proceeded to down Hakkar himself.  We had worked for months toward that goal.  In that moment, standing over the body of Hakkar with my friends, knowing it was our last time there and knowing we would always share the bond of that experience, I felt a sense of exhilaration that I have never recaptured. 

As if that wasn’t enough, I got the final piece I needed to complete my gear set.  I finally matched!!  To this day that chest piece retains a place of honor in my bank, a memento of that magical night.

Since my husband and I had decided to turn our alts, Kneabiter and Kess, into our mains going into the expansion that night was the last time I played Aleathea for many months.  I did not know at the time if I would return to her, and so the events of my story paralleled that possibility.

Those who were around in the days preceding the BC release may remember when the major cities of Azeroth were invaded by Burning Legion forces.  It was as unforgettable experience  and provided the inspiration for the events in this chapter.

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