The Grand Magister was growing increasingly disturbed.
It was not like Kael’thas to be late. Once or twice, perhaps, because he was busy and because Outland held the potential for the unexpected.
But not again. Not this many times. Not this late.
Rommath stopped pacing for a few moments to peer at the scrying stone, wondering if he’d missed something, but it remained blank and lifeless. Why? Where was Kael? What was holding him up?
He thought about the last time the Prince had visited and they had been able to talk personally. It had, admittedly, been several months, but he hadn’t noticed anything particularly out of the ordinary then. Kael’thas had seemed somewhat stressed, yes, and even appeared almost haggard, but that was not particularly surprising. For years he had been carrying the burdens of an entire nation on his shoulders, and that would, of course, eventually show. And there was also the increasing intensity of his mission: traveling to another world and preparing it for his peoples’ arrival.
So maybe that was it, then. Maybe he had a good excuse. Maybe he was busy. Maybe it was all getting to him.
…but this late?
Rommath resumed his pacing. Something was not right.
A few uncomfortable minutes passed and Rommath was disturbed to feel himself slowly combusting inside. He didn’t like feeling anxious - it was unbecoming of a sin’dorei magister. He paused now and took a few deep breaths to reorient himself. It was then that he heard a tentative knock at the door. He glanced towards it without moving his head— he had a good idea as to who was knocking and why they were. “Yes,” he called at length.
The door opened to reveal Maltrake, Rommath’s servant. The elf genuflected deeply, as he always did in the Grand Magister’s presence. “Sir,” he said. “My apologies for the interruption. Your presence is requested by the Regent Lord and the Ranger-General.”
Rommath had known of this meeting ahead of time, although he had held out hope that it would be canceled or postponed lest the prince try to contact him in the middle of it. He actually felt mildly irritated that it had not been. No matter— he had survived more than mere inconveniences over the course of the last several years. “Very well. Thank you,” he said, before channeling a brief spell and teleporting himself out of his study.
He rematerialized in the Court of the Sun and walked the short distance to the meeting hall where he knew his two colleagues would be waiting. He was not particularly fond of these meetings; he never did see eye-to-eye with his associates. Still, he resolved to get it all over with and then return to actually important work.
Upon entering the meeting hall he discovered that he was the last of the three to arrive, which he had been expecting. He bowed somewhat stiffly at the two of them before seating himself.
He looked across the table at Regent Lord Lor’themar Theron and Ranger-General Halduron Brightwing. He had been stuck working with these two for a few years, now, and he had a fairly good grasp of who they were.
Halduron was youthful, bright-eyed and alert, and the way he moved always reminded Rommath of some sort of young animal - a lynx or a dragonhawk yearling, perhaps. This was a fitting comparison, as the Ranger-General had clearly just come in from being out in the wild. Clumps of mud clung to the Farstriders’ attire he wore and dirt was lodged firmly underneath his chipped fingernails. Topping it off was his flaxen-colored hair, which had been tousled into tangles by the wind and apparently not sorted since then.
In stark contrast to his fellow ranger was Lor’themar. Like Halduron, he was dressed in the outfit of a Farstrider— he refused to wear anything else— but his uniform was clean and pressed. So, too, was Lor’themar himself: well groomed and clean, although the bags under his eyes indicated that he had not had a good night’s sleep in several days. He looked tense and uncomfortable, as though his clothes were a bit too stiff.
So this was the man whom Kael had chosen to lead Quel’Thalas in his absence. Rommath was still not entirely sure what to make of that. Although he had developed a grudging respect for the elf after his conduct during the Scourge invasion, as well as his behavior during certain events at the Sunwell a few years after, the simple fact of the matter was that Lor’themar was, like Halduron, a ranger, and like most of his ilk he was overly sentimental and optimistic. These were traits that were all well and good when they were off cavorting with the animals or playing in the trees or whatever it was they did, but here in Silvermoon a leader had to possess a certain ruthlessness and cunning practicality, and Rommath had yet to be convinced that Lor’themar was capable of having these properties.
Hopefully Kael’thas would be back soon and Lor’themar could go back to his old life, which was what he seemed to want to do, anyway. He was clearly better suited for it, at least.
Rommath leaned his staff against the table and folded his arms. He didn’t have all day. “Well?”
“We need to talk,” said Lor’themar.
“Obviously,” the Grand Magister replied.
“We have received word of these so-called Scryers,” Lor’themar said, ignoring Rommath’s tone. “Led by Voren’thal the Seer, whom I presume you know.”
Of course he did; Voren’thal was one of Silvermoon’s top magisters and had been since well before Rommath was even born. He, of course, also knew about the Scryers— a group of defectors who had, for whatever unimaginable reason, chosen to desert Kael’s army and serve the naaru in Shattrath instead. Traitors, the lot of them. Just like the high elves who had turned their backs on them and fled into the arms of the Alliance— the Alliance, after all they had done to their people in Dalaran! It all personally disgusted Rommath— that even when their people were broken and scattered there were those who didn’t care if they fractured even more. But he reminded himself that it did not matter; the sin’dorei would overcome these obstacles and come out all the stronger for them.
For now, though, there was the unfortunate bureaucracy to deal with.
“They are traitors to the Crown,” Rommath said. “That’s not exactly something new.”
Lor’themar sighed and rubbed the corner of his good eye. “You know what I am asking, Rommath.”
He did, and he leaned forward. “Voren’thal was scared so he surrendered. The older he gets, the weaker his constitution grows. I do not know why Kael’thas put much faith in him to begin with. But he does not matter. These… Scryers do not matter. Nor did the Eclipsion. What matters is that those of us who remain loyal to the Prince continue to serve him. Every day we get closer to our end goal. We must not falter now.”
“And what is this ‘end goal’, exactly?” Lor’themar looked Rommath directly in his glittering emerald eyes. “The Sun knows the Prince hasn’t talked to me in months. He does still keep in contact with you, yes?”
“And? What is he doing?”
Blast Kael’s lateness. Rommath did not have anything new to report. “As ever, he continues to work to bring us new sources of arcane energy.”
“As he has been doing for months?”
“Are you questioning the Prince’s actions?” Rommath said, his voice low and menacing.
“No,” said Lor’themar, “But I want details. Where, exactly, is he, and what, exactly, is he doing? I am the Regent Lord and it is my right to know more than what you have opted to tell me, so I know how best to prepare our people.”
He had a point, and Rommath didn’t know if he could counter it. As much as he hated to admit it, Lor’themar outranked him. Now to see how many of the details he could leave out.
“The Prince has set up a base of operations in Netherstorm, where he has developed devices that are capable of harvesting mana from the Twisting Nether. Some of these devices have been deployed.”
“And they are working as intended?
Rommath actually hadn’t heard, but he had no doubts that they were. “Yes.”
“And this mana is supposed to sustain our people when we move to Outland.”
“Then why are we still waiting here?”
Again, Rommath didn’t know. He would, perhaps, if Kael’thas ever actually talked to him anymore, but…
“The land in Netherstorm is hostile. It must be tamed.”
Halduron finally spoke up now, starting with a chuckle that irked Rommath with how… wholesome it sounded. “And since when did elves need a land to be tamed before moving in?”
“Netherstorm is not Quel’Thalas,” said Rommath. “The very land is constantly ripping itself apart—”
“Perhaps because of these devices of yours,” Halduron interrupted. “Has that occurred to His Highness?”
Rommath’s eyes narrowed. “We are not having this discussion again. Although I must ask, Halduron, would you have preferred to have left with the rest of the quel’dorei when—”
Lor’themar twitched an eyebrow and broke in. “That’s enough of this. We’re here to discuss the future, not the past.” He looked at Rommath. “Is the Prince planning on visiting Quel’Thalas anytime soon, do you know?”
“I do not know,” Rommath replied. “He has been—”
“Busy. Yes, I know.” Lor’themar sighed. “And I do not suppose he would be terribly interested in a visit in the near future?”
“That is doubtful.”
“Well, just keep me informed, I suppose,” said Lor’themar. He looked tired, and Rommath opted to use this to his advantage.
The mage stood and took his staff in his hands. “If we are done with this meeting, I will be going. I am certain that you have much to do yourself, and I do not wish to take more of the Regent Lord’s time… or the Ranger-General’s, for that matter.” He shot Halduron a brief glare, although the ranger seemed unfazed.
“Thank you for your time,” said Lor’themar. As Rommath had guessed, he was just as eager to get the meeting over with as the others were. So the Grand Magister exited the room and as soon as he had done so, he teleported himself back to his study.
He had hardly arrived when he knew that Kael’thas had been trying to contact him— he could both sense and see the pulsing arcane energy emanating from his scrying stone. He disappeared from where he was standing and then reappeared in front of the stone in the blink of an eye, placing a hand on it to make a connection and then casting a spell. Once the spell was complete he stood back a bit, and a small image of Kael’thas appeared, hovering above the stone. The prince had always been a bit of a riddle, but now he seemed to be more of one than usual. He stood tall, but gave off the impression of being nervous or perhaps rushed. He looked haggard, but despite this he still exuded more power than any other being Rommath had met. The Grand Magister bowed deeply. “My liege.”
“Rommath. I apologize for my lateness. Some… pressing issues have come to a head lately.” His image raised an eyebrow and looked directly at the Grand Magister. “We need to talk.”
“Yes, we do,” Rommath agreed, and he was glad that Kael’thas would finally be able to give him more details about how things were progressing— details which he could then pass on to Lor’themar in small doses. Mostly so the Regent Lord would stop pestering him. “Shall we begin?”
“Here? Now?” Kael’thas seemed taken off guard, almost confused.
Rommath blinked and found himself briefly concerned by this uncharacteristic response, but then he pushed it out of his mind. “If not here, or now, then—”
“I need you to come to Outland,” said Kael’thas. “As I believe you know, I have set up base in Netherstorm, in a naaru fortress called Tempest Keep. Meet me here as soon as possible.”
Again, Rommath was knocked almost speechless by how unusual the prince was acting. Could something have been wrong? “Is everything alright?” he asked.
“Better than that,” Kael’thas replied, and he smirked a little. “There is much to discuss, but only when you arrive. Do make haste. I trust you can find your way here on your own?”
Rommath nodded. He had not been to Outland in a few years, but between people that he knew and his own skills in teleportation, getting around would not be a problem. “Yes, my liege.”
“I will see you soon, then,” said Kael’thas, and the image flickered away.
Rommath was, briefly, stunned. Whatever the Prince had to say, it was not only urgent but apparently had to be kept under utmost secrecy. Off the top of his head, he couldn’t think of anything Kael’thas might have to say that fulfilled both of those criteria. But then, Kael had never been wrong before.
Maltrake was in the corner of the room, organizing a bookshelf. Rommath called for him, and the servant rushed over. “Yes, sir?”
“Could you relay to the Regent Lord that I am away on urgent business?” the Grand Magister said. “If he asks, tell him that it involves Prince Kael’thas.”
“Of course, sir.”
Rommath nodded his appreciation and then, holding up his hands, began to cast a spell. His entire being filled with a glowing, intensifying warmth as his hands glowed, and just as the warmth began to feel almost unbearable he left Azeroth entirely behind.