The storm had come out of nowhere and caught them unawares. Not even the tidesages that had plotted out their route had foreseen it. The fury of the storm lashed at the ships of the fleet, tearing at the sails. A great wave crashed down on one of the ships, and the planks cracked under the pressure. The sea split her in two, as if it was just a splinter, and dragged the broken pieces under.
Daelin Proudmoore had tied himself to the ship’s wheel, hoping to steer it through the storm or go down drowning. Around them, the fleet was suffering, the dark churning waters claiming them. Jaina admired how he tried so hard for his men. She had to do something as well.
”Jaina!” Daelin shouted over the howling wind when he spotted her clinging to the railing. ”Get below deck!”
”I have to try!” Jaina teleported before he had a chance to stop her. She landed on one of the furthest ships, hit hardest by the storm. Planks were splintering as the waters tore into it with abandon, and the captain stood proud on the helm, ready to go down with his ship. She grabbed unwilling sailors and teleported them back to the center of the fleet, over and over. Keeping her bearings in the storm felt nigh impossible.
And then between one teleportation and the next, the ship was gone. She landed in frigid water and for a moment couldn’t think – the chill burned all thought out of her mind as she screamed out loud. No one heard her. She caught her breath enough to still her fears and teleported onto another ship. She tried again. She would not let these people die. She would not disappoint her father.
She moved between them, the pride of Kul Tiras, the fleet with which to rule the seas, and saw how one by one they sank. Despair ate at her heart, and sorrow at all the lives lost. The screamed echoed in her heart, and her tears were hidden under the rain whipping her face. But she was losing here, no matter how she stretched herself thin to keep portals open so they could throw themselves to safety.
The mast snapped and fell over the ship she was on, the sails coming with it. A wave flung the ship around, and the wind turned it as well, the entire vessel creaking as it was about to come apart. She made to go through the portal herself, but something had her foot stuck. Jaina hadn’t been watching her step – a rookie mistake. With the darkness and waters, it had been nearly impossible, and she realized her error too late. Before she had time to free herself from the rope, whatever it was tied to went overboard and dragged her with it.
She didn’t even have time to cry out before the waters took her. She struggled, trying to free herself, but all her spells flickered out before she could sever the rope. She had worn herself out playing hero and now there was nothing left in her with which to save herself.
In despair, she looked up. As she sank below, she could see the ships of the fleet as shadows above her, the lightning flashing across the sky and illuminating their outlines. So many bodies were sinking next to her. So many ships were breaking apart.
Drowning hurt. She tried to hold her breath, but the water pressed down on her, squeezing the air out of her the further she went under. Her bones ached, and she felt something snap. She closed her eyes, the darkness too dense to see, and – then she felt herself stilled. The sinking feeling had stopped.
Something soft touched her. A hand. Fingers, on her lips.
”What do we have here?” A voice that echoed in her when it spoke. On pure instinct she wanted to keep her eyes closed, play dead, pretend she wasn’t there. Something… Dark and sinister emanated from this entity touching her.
It didn’t need her to speak. The fingertips traced their way up the sides of her face, each touch sending a pulse of warmth through Jaina’s body, a sensation so painfully pleasant that she couldn’t stop the moan escaping her lips. Horrified and ashamed her eyes shot open and her own hand covered her treacherous mouth.
What she beheld made her forget to hold her breath. A many-eyed woman – no, naga – with gills and tentacles, adorned in shells and pearls, gold and diamonds, and with tentacles instead of hair. And her beauty was astounding. It made Jaina feel faint.
”Breathe,” the naga urged her as another, third hand touched her collarbone and ran up the column of her throat to her chin. Jaina did as she was told. ”There. Good girl. Now let me see.”
The naga’s fingertips rested on Jaina’s temples and a white-hot flash went through her mind, then stillness. Her breath fluttered. She had so much she wanted to ask – who are you, what are you doing to me, what is happening above, where am I – but she found herself at a loss for words.
”Oh the things you will do,” the naga said, her lips curled into a soft smile. ”The power you will hold… But not yet.”
”What do you–”
”Hush.” A finger on her lips while another hand pushed her chin up, closing her mouth. ”Take this gift, Jaina Proudmoore, and live. You will remember me. You will come back.” Hands circled around Jaina’s neck, her waist, and the back of her head, pulling her close to the naga, their bodies flush against each other.
”Power calls to power,” the naga whispered in Jaina’s ear as she pushed them upwards, and Jaina looked over her shoulder, seeing a glimmering outline of a city behind her, an unnatural sunset shimmering over it. A city? At the bottom of the sea? ”But you are just on the cusp of yours. No, not yet. But I am patient. Your life is just the blink of an eye to me.”
The force with which they were ascending made Jaina feel like she was dying, the pressure of diving making her blood roil in her veins. She tried grasping, kicking free, she needed to stay here just a little, let her body get her bearings or else she’d die. ”Please,” she pressed out, her vision fading at the edges.
”I forget how fragile you land-dwellers are,” the naga said, amused. She pressed her lips to Jaina’s, breathing life into her, but her lips against Jaina’s felt… They felt so good. So soft, and tender. A kiss of life on the edge of death. And then Jaina lost consciousness.
She awoke with the sun beaming down on her, warming her skin. The sound of water washing up against the beach made her feel safe, at home, but this was not home. She did not know how she had made it to shore, much less resting on a bed of seaweed, but she felt that the strange and beautiful naga had something to do with it. A single dark pearl rested in her lap, perfect and polished, gleaming in the sunlight. She held it in her palm as she rose, and met with a sight that wrenched a cry from her.
Shipwrecks dotted the waters, the waves breaking upon the hulls and masts. On the warm sand, sailors lay dead and dying, blood dripping from wounds and water from lungs.
”Jaina!” Her father called her name. He ran between the bodies to catch her in an embrace, holding her tight and stroking her hair. ”You’re safe… We saw you go under… How did you survive?”
”I…” She wondered what she could say. In the end, she put the pearl in her pocket and hugged him back. ”I don’t know. I got lucky I guess.”
Once back in the safety of the Kirin Tor, she went through the motions of studying, always excelling. Jaina was nothing if not exemplary. She mastered her spells, impressing tutors and drawing the admiration and mixed jealousy from her peers. Two princes kept coming to her door and begging attention, and she gave them just enough – somewhere in the back of her head, she thought she must. It was expected of her.
Then there were the nights, and early mornings; the lunch breaks and the weekends when she had no musts and no one to tell her to cast this or that where she could hide away in the library and scour the volumes for answers.
One by one, she found them. A name, a place, a history of events so old humans hadn’t even been thrown into existence. The weight of history made her feel dizzy, trying to wrap her mind around it.
One morning there were no more tomes to read, no more old texts to decipher with a magic scryer – but she needed to know more. Swallowing her fear, she took the pearl, now laid in a necklace she kept stuffed at the bottom of a drawer, and teleported to the shore of Silverpine forest. She shed her cloak and put down her staff. Jaina felt unsure if it would work, but she had to test out her thesis and see if it was true.
She put on the necklace and it rested against her chest, the chain slightly too long so the black pearl came to rest between her breasts. It felt like a normal pearl. Perhaps that night had been nothing but a hallucination. She doubted it, but sometimes, she wished it so. Then she could put it behind her, forget it, forget the burning red and gold eyes and the lips against hers.
The high tide meant she didn’t have to wade out very far before she was up to her waist in water, her feet sinking into the mud. She gave herself a minute to think it through, to turn back and return ashore. To never open the door and submerge herself in a world of questions.
She chose the water.
Taking two more steps, the water came up to her breasts, and when it hit the pearl it went ice cold against her skin and grew heavy. The gulls that had been circling above quieted down, and a whirlpool spun up in front of her. An invitation. She sucked in a deep breath and dove into it.
When the bubbles cleared from her vision she was far out at sea, at the border where the sunlight could no longer illuminate the depths. The darkness surged below, icy cold and heavy, and in front of her the naga from before.
”You return, little one.” She smiled, her movements languid. Seeing her in the light made her all the more terrifying – the three eyes above her brow, burning like suns, and the tentacles of her head curling of their own accord. Even seeing the four arms and tentacles below her waist could not destroy the eternal beauty of her.Being near her again made Jaina’s heart flutter. Humans could never achieve beauty like this, no matter how they tried in their lifetimes.
”I know who you are,” Jaina said, gathering her strength. They existed in a sphere of magic, nigh invisible but all the more palpable, one that allowed Jaina to breathe normally.
The naga raised her chin defiantly, pushing off to circle around Jaina like a predator closing in on its prey. ”Speak my name then.”
”You were once queen of your people. You dipped your hands in the Well of Eternity. You made a deal with powers that betrayed you. You tore the world asunder and broke the lands apart. In your time, you were called many things: vainglorious. Cherished heart of the people. Radiance of the moon. Vision of perfection. You are Azshara.”
”Well done, clever thing.” Still she circled, her fingers stirring up the water near Jaina.
”And then you fell from grace. You changed the entire world, and for what?”
Azshara’s lips parted in a smile, her sharp fangs revealed as she stopped. Her expression made Jaina shiver, feeling a pleasant surge within her as the queen spoke. ”I changed the fabric of the world. Who can say they did the same?”
”What do you want from me?” Jaina persisted, despite her own desires betraying her.
Azshara wrapped a tentacle around Jaina’s waist, pulling her close. ”There is an echo around you. My oracles see many things, and they see you. As do I. One day, you will know, and you will come to me asking the right question.”
Jaina, against her better knowledge, against her fears, reached a hand up to touch Azshara’s face. The queen allowed it, Jaina’s fingertips tracing the ridges, the soft skin, the outline of her lips. When she did, Azshara’s tongue darted out and met Jaina’s fingertip.
”How… How will I know when I’m asking the right question?”
”Trust me,” Azshara said, smiling. ”The sea will call to you, and you will answer.”
Azshara touched the pearl of Jaina’s necklace, pressing it against her skin. Their faces were so close, barely a finger’s width between their lips, when Azshara let out a deep, cruel laugh, and she was gone and Jaina was left struggling for air deep under the surface.
Calling upon magic she shot up to the surface, breaking through with such force that she felt red welts stinging in her face. There she floated for a few minutes, the waves pushing her out to sea, before she teleported back to Dalaran.
Jaina had done everything in her power. She had urged people to come with her. She had stood in front of Terenas and pleaded with him to leave the throne and come with her, to Kalimdor and to safety. She had pleaded with the Sunstrider king to flee with his people. Neither had seen how one single human man could be dangerous enough to fear. And she had just been a young human mage with no political clout or prowess. Who was she, thinking she could approach the throne with wild tales?
She had taken who she could and led them to stolen ships. She should have saved more. Could have, if she had been more convincing, more insistent. Looking back at the smoke rising from the land as they set off, she knew she had not done enough.
Barely a few hours out to sea and the winds died out. What mages were onboard tried to use various spells to urge the water to carry them or the winds to move them, but nobody could endure for a longer time. The ships were so many and the doldrums left them at a standstill.
When night came and darkness enveloped the ships, Jaina knew what she had to do. And perhaps this time she would succeed.
Climbing down the side of the ship, the warm salt waters lapped at her feet as she lowered herself into the ocean. Barely had the water reached her shoulders before she felt something wrap around her ankles and pull her down under the surface.
”I hear the screams from above,” Azshara said, lazily rolling her head from shoulder to shoulder, her tentacles loosening their hold on Jaina’s legs but lingering at her shins, slipping against her skin. ”And now here you come. What great misfortune has befallen the lands?”
”Death and ruin,” Jaina said, ”and I tried to stop it and I… I hesitated.”
”Oh, you poor soul,” Azshara said with mock-pity, stroking the back of her hand against Jaina’s cheekbone. ”How weak of you.”
Something in Azshara’s words stirred an irritation in Jaina. ”I need to see my people above to safety. We need to get to the other side of the sea.”
Azshara seemed disinterested, sighing as she removed her hand from Jaina’s face. ”And now you have come to beg a queen.”
”No.” Jaina did not hesitate when she said it. She felt a surge of fear, yes, but only for her own life. And what was that in trade for the hundreds above? ”I refuse to beg now. Let me and my people pass.”
Azshara looked at Jaina with narrowed eyes, fangs bared as she spoke. ”Or else?”
”I’m not making a threat. But I am demanding this: let us pass.” She would not back down. For her people, for the ones she had saved despite all the odds and doubts. She had to do this for them, or else she would just have lost and lost and lost this grim day.
Azshara smiled, her fingers nudging Jaina’s chin up. ”Do you fear me, little one?”
Jaina licked her lips, the presence of the queen heady and intoxicating and terrifying. ”Yes. And no.”
”You should always fear the one who holds your life in their hands.”
Azshara’s tentacles crept up Jaina’s legs and the inside of her thighs. There were so many and the sensation of them touching her made Jaina want… Oh, she wanted so many things, but most of all to feel them all over her body. The way they stirred something deep and dark within Jaina made her feel things she had never experienced before. When one of Azshara’s fingers passed over Jaina’s lips her tongue darted out of its own and licked the fingertip, and Azshara smiled as she pushed two of her long fingers into Jaina’s mouth.
”Count yourself lucky that I like defiance,” Azshara whispered. Jaina ran her tongue between Azshara’s fingers, drawing a fearful joy in seeing the queen’s lips part, a silent sigh passing her lips. ”In measures.” Her tentacles were up at the apex of Jaina’s thigh, the suckers on the tip of it attached to her skin and oh, the sensation… She wanted more.
Azshara removed her fingers from Jaina’s mouth, despite the protests she offered up. With a laugh, she pulled Jaina close and kissed her, rough and hard and long, and Jaina felt the air leave her lungs, the salty taste of Azshara’s mouth, the soft tongue touching against hers. She felt pressure and softness, and currents moving between her legs in formations that made her moan against Azshara’s mouth.
”Now you have a taste of power, little mage,” Azshara said, her eyes glowing in the darkening waters. ”I yearn to see what you do with it.”
Then she let Jaina go, and Jaina shot to the surface, desperate for air.
Jaina broke through the surface and then a wave washed over her, and the winds had picked up. She barely had time to grasp onto the rope she had used to get down into the sea and pull herself up as the clouds swirled above, a squall pushing the ships toward the west.
In the comfort of her cabin, she changed out of the wet dress and as she stood naked in front of the mirror with only flickering candlelights to illuminate her body, she saw the shadows of sucker marks on her hips. Perfect little crescents. Tracing them with her finger made her body remember the moment undersea, and she blushed, hurrying to put on dry clothes and put it out of her mind.
After her father died in her arms, his last breath used to curse her name, Jaina bit back the surge of tears threatening to undo her. She let his sailors take him from her, thinking of what message she could send with them to her mother. No words sufficed. The look in the eyes of the Kul Tiran sailors told enough of a story. She had brought this upon herself when she stepped aside. Her homeland would never take her back.
She sat on the edge of the harbor watching the lights of the Kul Tiran ships vanish over the horizon, one by one. They would never come back here. It was a relief as much as a painful knife twisting itself further. Tears ran down her face, pooling under her chin and dripping down into the waters below. She felt an utter exhaustion – the last few weeks had tested her, and pushed her to her limits and beyond. She had survived, but at what cost? What sacrifices had she made?
A splash of water hit her from below and she looked down.
”You weep,” Azshara said. Her voice above water still bore the depth of when it was below the surface. Her eyes blinked, all five of them, as she remained submerged up to her collarbones.
”I am a traitor to my family,” Jaina replied, smiling bitterly. ”To my homeland.”
Azshara tilted her head. ”Will they come for you?”
”No… I don’t think so. I don’t know.”
The waters foamed and swirled as Azshara rose out of it until she was face-level with Jaina. ”Do not lie to me,” she said softly, hands cupping Jaina’s face. ”I can smell the fear on you.”
”I’m not… It’s not like that.” Jaina was not a good liar.
”You did well with Archimonde,” Azshara said, tracing the paths of Jaina’s tears with her fingers. ”An insufferable demon, that one. Hated his constant obsession with the draenei. He went on and on and on…” She rolled her eyes. ”The Legion has far too many like him.”
Jaina closed her eyes. Between everything that happened, the death of one demon seemed so small, so far away. And she didn’t know how to react to what Azshara was saying.
”I will give you a taste. And a treat. After all, you have been good, pet.” Her nosetip touched Jaina’s, then their lips brushed together and Azshara nudged Jaina’s lips open, her tongue feeling just as good as last time. But this time there was something about the kiss, it felt as if it was pulling at Jaina on another level, magic weaving between them as the kiss deepened.
Azshara’s voice filled her head, rumbling and deep like a stormy sea. ”As long as I reign below, the seas will protect you.” She bit Jaina’s tongue, drawing blood. The salt of her kiss burned in Jaina’s mouth, but she could not bring herself to end it. A soothing chill passed as a breath from Azshara to Jaina, healing the wound, and then Azshara parted from her.
The sight of her own blood on Azshara’s chin rendered Jaina speechless. Whatever magic the queen had called upon had been sealed in her blood. Azshara wiped at the droplets, licking them from her fingers. ”Be a good pet, and you will be rewarded,” she murmured as she sank below into the waters, a smug smile on her face.
Jaina sat there until dawn broke, wondering what she had done. There must be a price attached to this deal, but what would she have to pay with? The fear coursed through her.
Jaina could not bring herself to go down to the ocean for a long time afterwards. She watched it from her tower in Theramore, she smelled it each and every day and heard it crash against the cliffs each night.
In her dreams, Jaina felt the pull of the sea. No matter what she did to busy herself in the day – impress the Kirin Tor, argue for peace amongst two warring factions – during the night, she dreamt of the sea rising up and taking her.
In her dreams, Azshara would pull her down, farther than she could ever go into the darkness. In places with no light and no knowledge of what was up or down, with the air crushed out of her lungs, the Azshara of her dreams would make Jaina feel things she never thought could happen to her. When she woke in the morning she would touch herself between her thighs and her fingers always came away dripping wet.
In her nightmares, Jaina would drown and drown as she sank past the darkness and towards the city of twilight at the bottom of the seas. But she knew it to be a dream, just a bad dream – because in reality Azshara would never let her get away with such a death. Or at least she told herself as much when she woke up gasping, the sheets drenched with sweat and her lungs on fire.
She had expected ships from Kul Tiras to come, but they never did. Each day the horizon bore only the scheduled trade ships, and she made sure to see them all blessed. Even though she herself had not finished her studies to become a tidesage, despite her father’s wishes, she knew enough to give a basic safe trip blessing. The last thing she had learnt at the monastery before she had begged to go to Dalaran instead.
It all seemed lifetimes ago.
The years passed. The days were peaceful, even. The dreams and nightmares stayed the same, cycling through her with the same intensity. No matter how long she turned her gaze towards the dry deserts and dark marshes, a greatness waited for her beneath the tides. In the deepest, darkest places of the ocean, she would find her again. On the edge of the pressure crushing her, her lungs aching for air, Azshara would find her. Of this, she was sure.
One day, before she was due to see a ship off to Northrend as part of the campaign to end Arthas, a whisper by her ear caught her unawares. Jaina Proudmoore… Come… She looked around but there was nothing there, only seagulls circling outside the windows. Yet she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, who was calling her.
Without a reason why, she resisted. She feared what awaited this time, yes, but she also felt a tight knot in her stomach that tugged and tugged. She wanted, and it terrified her.
The sea did not take kindly to the delay. The tides became irregular, stranding ships and washing ashore anemones and corals, starfish and jellyfish. Each morning Jaina gathered up them and threw them back in. Testing the boundaries of her own defiance, she also wanted to see where Azshara would break.
And the sea responded first with threats – breaking ships against sudden new rocks never before charted on the maps – then with treats, washing up gleaming white pearls and fat fish. Then it began eroding the lands, taking the earth holding up the walls of Theramore until one collapsed into the sea.
All the while, Jaina heard the call, increasing for each night. It ached within her. And with the sea punishing others for her own defiance, she finally broke when a trade ship carrying passengers sank within sight of Theramore.
She went to the south of the Dustwallow marsh, where the trees were charred by the old dragon infestation and the brackish waters gave way for the salt. She waded out, holding on to her staff, murmuring incantations of protection to shield her. Underneath her clothes, she had carved runes into her skin, unable to find any ink waterproof enough to simply draw them on.
The water foamed around her legs, dragging and pulling, but she did not yield until it reached her neck. Only then did she take a deep breath and submerge.
When she opened her eyes, the waters were unfamiliar to her. They were warm, and a light turquoise blue. The sand beneath them gleamed white.
”I called your name,” Azshara said, her eyes narrowed, ”and you took your time coming.”
”You drowned innocents!” Jaina said, holding on to the anger that took her here. ”They had nothing to do with me – with us!”
”Oh, those.” Azshara waved her hand. ”They never died. There are places under the sea where the lost go, you know. Nobody is ever truly lost at sea, as long as I exist. But you. You kept me waiting.”
The runes pulsed on Jaina's skin, burning into her flesh. Something was pushing against them, testing her, trying to find a way in, yet she felt no magic coming from Azshara. It threw her off, and she spoke slowly, trying to hide the pain shooting through her at each attempt of breaking the protection seals she had woven. ”What does it matter? You once said my lifetime was the blink of an eye to you.”
”All the same, do you leave a queen waiting?” The queen seemed genuinely annoyed. Jaina couldn’t help but be amused.
”My apologies, queen Azshara.”
”No matter. I must ask you do a thing for me.”
Azshara curled her tentacles, wrapping the length of her body around Jaina. ”Little pet, I have kept your city safe. I have shrouded your homelands in mists they cannot navigate. Each time a man decides to rally a ship to take you down, my naga sing him to ruination. I ask so little, and you receive so much.”
Ah, yes. There was Azshara’s magic. Her charm, her beauty, her ability to make Jaina feel like so much hinged upon her and that pleasing the queen would be good for both of them. She didn’t even need to cast a spell. What terrible power to wield. ”What do you ask of me?”
”You see these eyes?” Azshara gestured at the eyes above her two regular ones, two small ones framing a big one above her forehead. ”They are not mine. They belong to something that thinks it can control me. And I have grown tired of it whispering to me endlessly. A message needs to be sent.”
Jaina looked into those eyes. She had avoided them before, unnerved by them. They burned with an intensity that searched, moving of their own accord separate from Azshara. When they landed on Jaina, she felt that surge of magic again, tearing at her barriers. What was it?
”A blacksmith once crafted a dagger,” Azshara said, ”thinking it was made from the purest ore of the world. It was to be a gift for her lover, a gift to seal their union. She was mistaken. It came from the blood of a dead god. The undying god, who waits for you in the north.” She flashed a sharp smile. ”Oh, the things my oracles foresee for you. I cannot wait to see you arrive there.”
”Just tell me what you want me to do.”
”No sense for stories?” Azshara clicked her tongue. ”You are an impatient one, sometimes.” She pressed the hilt of a dagger into Jaina’s hand. ”Take it and stab the intruder’s eyes out.”
The dagger burned in Jaina’s hand. Something dark emanated from it, and it throbbed in her hand as she closed her fingers around it.
”Are you sure about this?”
”I have had ten thousand years to prepare for this moment,” Azshara replied. ”Cut true and swift.”
Jaina pressed the blade into the left eye and a horrific scream tore from Azshara’s mouth. Jaina stopped and pulled away, but Azshara instead took Jaina’s wrist and forced her hand to the second eye.
”Do it!” she hissed. Jaina did as she was told, driving the blade into the right eye. The blood that welled forth burned her hands, and an otherworldly scream rumbled through the waters. Azshara covered the bleeding wounds with her hands, her own eyes closed. The large eye in the middle darted around, but when the pitch-dark blood dissolved it saw Jaina.
You once came from the sea. A whisper that felt like a nail running down the back of her spine. When you return to it, you will be lost forever. The lone whisper soon layered itself, a thousand voices rising, accusatory and damning.
”Ah, my pet…” Azshara’s strained voice brought Jaina back, and once again she felt the pain of the dagger in her hand. She let it go and Azshara caught it. ”You have done so well.”
”What… What did I just do?”
”Don’t worry yourself thinking of that.” Azshara pressed a kiss to Jaina’s cheekbone. ”Now leave me.”
A heavy darkness settled over Jaina’s eyes, and she succumbed. When she awoke, she lay on a solitary rock at a deserted beach. How long had she been there? The sun had made her skin itch.
Her questions hadn’t been answered. She waded out into the sea and waited. Nothing happened.
”Azshara!” she called out. Her voice bounced over the still waters, but no response came. Nothing swirled underneath the surface. A sense of unease crept up on Jaina, and she returned to the beach. Low tide had laid waste to the shoreline, mussels and clams and sea urchins revealed as she strode past them. She waited far too long on land, the sun drying her clothes and hair. But the tide never returned, as if it had been pulled far away, and all the bared sea-creatures desiccated before Jaina left for Dalaran.
For two years, she dreamt of nothing. She felt almost free. And then the lands broke apart.
When Jaina heard the call again, mere days after the Shattering had ruptured the lands of Azeroth, she went without question. She had prepared for this moment to come, pursuing the secrets of Northrend until nothing else remained.
The seas rose up to meet her, holding and caressing her as she let them carry her away. They were far out, whales crying in the distance. Azshara rested close to the surface, only a few feet below the waves. Her tentacles followed the roll of the sea, unfurled and languid. Light dappled her face, and sunlight hit the jewels adorning her body, making her glow with light.
”There you are,” Azshara said, not looking to Jaina. ”Coming when called. Not so defiant anymore, little one?”
”Those eyes I cut out. It is an old god, isn’t it?”
”Wasting no time getting to the heart of matters.” Azshara beckoned Jaina close with a hand, capturing the mage’s chin between her fingers. ”But you must indulge me.”
”Answer my question.”
”One thing at a time. Last we spoke, I let you hold a dagger. Did you hear what it said?”
”Many things. Too many to remember.”
”Such is the nature of these old gods. They wash over you and try to subjugate. It is the only language they speak.” A tentacle slid around Jaina, urging her closer as Azshara’s hand dipped down Jaina’s chest, resting her hand on the black pearl between her breasts. ”It is a tiresome language. The blacksmith who first forged the dagger listened too closely. She stabbed her lover. She cut down the entire wedding party, and then herself. She was the first of the Highborne to hear it, and we called the ore cursed from then on. Little did we know, it was old god blood.”
”Yes. Yogg-saron’s blood. A dead god who dies and dies but is never dead. There are more of them, you know.” Azshara turned so that Jaina could see her from the front. Where the two eyes had been cut out, the queen had replaced with red rubies. The one eye in the middle remained closed. ”I have done battle against the darkest depths of the sea, against the one who waits there. For ten thousand years I conquered, little by little. I took the unsleeping city. I took the nightmares and dreams. And then I took the prison.”
”You won,” Jaina said, her voice a faint whisper. She had summoned up the same protections as last time, but now, nothing pushed against the barriers. It was just her and the queen. No sinister presence lurking in the background, testing her strength.
Azshara’s smile was triumphant, wicked and terrifying, the sharpened fangs gleaming. ”Almost. Gods are difficult to kill. But it will come, in due time. First I must thank you.”
She pulled Jaina in for a kiss, and Jaina melted into it. It was exactly as all those years ago, when she lost herself in the meeting of their lips, in the embrace of the dark queen of the seas. Jaina hadn’t realized how much she had longed for this to happen to her again, but her body responded so eagerly that she moaned when Azshara pulled back.
”I reward those who deserve it,” Azshara said, their faces so close her tongue touched Jaina’s lips as she spoke. ”And you have been instrumental. You helped me blind it. It did not know what was to come. All it could do was see the end approach.”
Azshara kissed her again, deeper and harder, her hands suddenly all over Jaina’s body. She felt so good. She knew how to play Jaina expertly. Azshara’s tentacles wrapped around Jaina’s legs, spreading them apart. A rush of water between her thighs caused Jaina to gasp, breaking the kiss to look down. Azshara had torn her gown apart, the pieces floating away from them. Jaina’s body was naked and bared in front of her and Jaina felt a surge of shame well up in her as she attempted to cover herself up with her hands.
”Shyness? Oh my sweet, I have seen it all.” Azshara laughed as her tentacles grasped at Jaina’s hands, pulling them together behind her back. They were held firm there, and Jaina gave it only a brief struggle to test the restraint before she ceased.
”You know you can say the word, and I will let you go.” Azshara ran a finger along Jaina’s jaw, and she felt the grip the queen had on her loosen just a bit, underlining her words.
”I can take whatever I want, when I want. I want the satisfaction of your willing, loving surrender.”
”I’m not surrendering. Not yet.” Jaina closed her eyes, heat blossoming on her cheeks and deep in her core. ”But I want you.”
”Then accept my gift. It is my pleasure.”
The tentacles once again tightened their hold on Jaina as Azshara’s hand slipped down over her throat, down between her naked breasts. Once it was down at the stomach, skimming over the belly button, Jaina felt two of Azshara’s other hands at her waist, moving up over the ribs and along the curve of her breasts. All the sensations of touch were too much. She bit back a protest, determined to see it through.
Then Azshara’s hand was between her legs, the fingertips stroking along the seam of her thigh, the swell of her venus mound. Out of instinct rather than fear Jaina writhed, trying to squirm away from the touch, but she was held tightly in place.
”Let go,” Azshara whispered in her ear. Jaina could think of no reply before she felt the fingers part her labia, a stream of water putting pressure against her clit. Jaina felt as if she was on the verge of tears – it felt so good, too good, all too much, and yet not enough.
A tip of a tentacle rose up between her legs, the soft upper side of it rubbing against her. She did all she could to press herself down on it, wanting more, but Azshara played with her, keeping her touch light as a feather.
”Please,” Jaina begged, feeling the need brimming over.
”More,” Azshara demanded.
”Please, my queen,” Jaina begged, not fearing the words she spoke. Lust and need corrupted her. ”Please, touch me, ruin me, fuck me.”
”All in due time.” Her voice was a purr, but she worked the magic stream of water against Jaina’s clit until the mage could hold it in no longer and screamed out her pleasure, kicking her legs and trying to close her thighs together. Azshara refused her. ”I am far from done with you.”
Again Azshara’s fingers were between Jaina’s legs, stroking and pressing. She knew just how to bring Jaina to the brink again, and within a few minutes Jaina felt the pleasure spill over as she came for the second time. She let out a sob when the queen did not let up, trying in vain to move away – only because her body felt as if it was on the edge of breaking apart from the sheer force of the orgasms.
Azshara’s tentacles kept her still, and she surrendered to the pleasure again and again, feeling like she was losing her mind as the time between them decreased, one building on the heels of another’s after-shocks. Jaina pleaded for more, her voice broken, and Azshara gave it to her. She didn’t even need to hold Jaina still anymore. Jaina gladly moved against those fingertips, lost herself in the deep kisses, whimpered for more and felt betrayed when Azshara gave her nothing.
”You better hurry up,” Azshara teased, holding her hand still between Jaina’s legs, ”you are running out of air.”
Azshara was right. Whatever magic she had maintained to keep Jaina breathing had dissolved. She must have grown bored. Jaina took her own shaking hand and touched her clit, so sensitive that she whimpered just from the lightest touch. Azshara gave her one more kiss, hard and final, and Jaina came. A small one, but she had no more in her.
Azshara carried her to the surface and left her there, floating alone in the middle of an empty sea.
Jaina stared into the sun, trying to piece together herself and her fractured mind. Her dreams had been right. And she had given something of herself up, again, to the queen. The protective barrier she had kept up had broken long ago. Or perhaps she had let it fall. She couldn’t put it all together in her head.
All she knew was, she was losing herself to Azshara. Little by little.
She never thought Theramore would fall. Not like this. Even in her darkest nightmares, the threat had been the sea, the queen recanting on her promise of protection. Instead the destruction came from a place she had never considered a threat. Her world was in upheaval. No, worse: in ruins.
Now dead bodies floated in the harbor and the city itself was ash and dust and wild magic trying to rip everything that lingered apart. She walked through the remains, letting the magic flood into her. Her body was reacting, pained and aching. This was too much for her flesh. A wind made her hair whirl into her face and she noticed it had turned stark white.
Without even having to whisper an incantation she pulled the waters to her, riding a building wave over the bombed-out grounds. Any Horde soldiers still there were drowned. The ashes of those lost scattered. A burial at sea was the best she could give them for now.
She touched the pearl around her neck and felt the spell for the first time. A very ancient, very intricate arcane spell. She called out Azshara’s name and felt the sea hum. All the wild magic in her made her so open and aware of all other magic that wove through the world.
Azshara came to her, but this time Jaina noticed all the magic she held in her, around her. Tens of thousands of years and she wielded power to sink lands with the flick of a finger. Jaina felt like scolding her younger self for not being more terrified.
”The waters are tainted here. Blood, bodies, and…” Azshara turned her face upwards, eyes closed. ”Magic that should not be. What kind of mess have you gotten yourself into?”
Jaina looked back over her shoulder, rage and sorrow competing within her. ”The Horde destroyed my city. Annihilated it.”
Jaina’s rage won out. ”I am not your pet! Or toy, or whatever you want to turn me into!”
The outburst made Azshara narrow her eyes. ”Is that all you assume I want from you? If I wanted a toy, I could break all the sailors of the world and take them. But they do not interest me.”
”Then what is it about me?” Jaina gestured back at Theramore. ”I have nothing. All I am is what is here, right now, and I’m wondering why I survived when everyone else I cared about died.”
”You drag me out of the sea to ask me something like this?”
Jaina tried to steady her shaking body, feeling the surges of magic starting to undo her. ”You keep saying there’s some great destiny in my future. What does that mean? Is this it? Was this my fate all along? I need to know!”
Azshara sighed, cupping two hands together and then parting them, an orb of water trembling between the palms. As she stretched them apart, the water became crystal clear and a distant image shimmered. ”Seeing one own’s future is dangerous. But you seem intent in dabbling with such dangers.”
”I… If this is it, then I will die seeking revenge. But if there’s even a chance…” Jaina trailed off, entranced by the images that shimmered past in Azshara’s hands. Each vision seemed to impress her with a meaning, you will be lonely but you will grow strong beyond measure, the Proudmoore anchor around her neck, Lordaeron in ruins, the Horde faltering, and you will conquer…
”There is much that awaits you yet.” Azshara fixed Jaina with her eyes. ”This is why you intrigue me. I have long sought a champion worthy of my gifts.”
”And you think it’s me?”
”I do not dabble in guesses. I know.” Azshara tilted her head, softening her voice. ”You desire vengeance.” Instantly the water mirror trembled, rings on the water changing the image. A massive wave, Jaina atop it, steering it towards red sands. Towards Orgrimmar. ”You wish to drown them.”
”Yes…” Jaina exhaled the word. The pearl around Jaina’s neck cracked, and she felt the surge of sea underneath her. A power stronger than storms, more insistent than a tidal force, waiting for her to act.
”Then go.” Azshara blessed her path, a sinister command hissed.
Jaina let the sea swell and rise, closing her eyes to trace the paths of magic underneath her. She could crush a city with this force. She could drown them all, every single soul. Even the innocents. The waters swayed as she hesitated, and she felt the pearl pulse on her chest, an insistent whisper at the back of her head urging her to go, do it, drown them for what they have done, swallow their lands, they are vermin and you–
”No,” Jaina whispered. Touching her fingers to the pearl, she traced the crack in the surface, and then let herself be a conduit. All the magic – from the ruins of Theramore, from the mana bomb, from the gift Azshara had bestowed upon her – flowed through her without destroying her and into the pearl, and she sealed the small breaking point when it was all in there.
”Now this, I did not foresee,” Azshara said, watching Jaina with an inscrutable face.
The pearl weighed against her skin, heavy and cool, with all that had happened today locked inside it. All of it now in Jaina’s hands.
Jaina avoided the sea. For years she closed her eyes and turned away from it, keeping the pearl locked up in her Dalaran study. When she left Dalaran as the Council voted for the Horde to return to the city – the only city she had left – she lost her final home. She moved between inns, keeping her hood down and paying well. The big battles were fought and won without her.
While others tore through the Twisting Nether, she battled what she could back on Azeroth. Wherever she found demons she left none alive. Each night, she dreamt of cracking the pearl open and letting the sea take her, the images mingling together. When the war against the Burning Legion was won, she stayed in a small inn on the coast of Pandaria.
The dreams were more intense that night. As if the sea was calling her, demanding her to come down. Jaina had resisted for so long. But she was tired, and she knew what would come. For a month she stayed, listening to the waves hitting the shingle beach. She listened to the rumors spoken of at night, from pandaren returning from the war to visitors seeking relief and solace from a long and horrific war campaign. Of wounds in the land, pure blue and gold ore welling forth from it like blood. Another war following on the heels of this one. History repeating itself, always and forever.
She thought for too long about which shore she would want to dive in from. The answer was obvious, even to her, but she didn’t want to go back to Theramore. Part of her didn’t feel ready to see the devastation covered in dust and forgotten.
It wasn’t as bad as she had imagined.
Where people had once walked, seeds had blown in and taken root. She had thought the land too poisoned to sustain anything ever again, but weeds and grass, wildflowers and vines grew all over, covering the bones of the dead and the swords of the lost. A massive untended graveyard. In the harbor shipwrecks lay, broken and torn, covered in rotting seaweed and slowly decaying.
Going to the beach to the north of Theramore, Jaina undressed down to her small-clothes and dove in. She had missed the sea greatly. Ever since she was a child, it had been a comfort – the rolling waves rocking her to sleep aboard ships, the water cooling her on hot summer days, the food it gave sustaining her. The sea was her all and everything.
She swam out, then floated in the sunshine looking at Theramore. Give it some more years and it would be evergreen ruins. As if a decade of her life hadn’t been spent there.
She took a deep breath and dove, finally ready to face her fate. She kept her eyes closed as she went down, towards where the water became cold, and the sounds became muted. There she waited, her breath running short, her ears ringing, until she felt a hand touch her cheek. The air rushed back to her lungs and her eyes flew open.
”There you are.” Azshara smiled, one hand on Jaina’s cheek while another played with her hair. It had grown so long and wild while she’d travelled the world. ”They sing about you in your homelands these days. Beautiful, sad songs. You are quite the legend there. A feat to become such a terrible figure at such a young age.”
”You can read my mind, can’t you?” Jaina asked.
”As if I needed to do such an intrusive thing with you. You are an open book to me.”
Jaina allowed herself a moment of leaning into Azshara’s touch. Part of her wondered when she made this choice. But another knew it had happened the very moment she first met the queen. She’d just spent all these years pretending otherwise.
”We have spent many years waiting. So what say you?”
”Why do you even need me?”
Azshara ran the tip of her tongue over her sharp fangs. ”To imprison an Old God is one thing. To kill it is another. I have the powers of the sea, but I need the forces of above as well.” She was a mere inch away from Jaina’s face. ”You take my blessing and you do what you wish with it, as long as you bring armies back.”
Jaina took one of Azshara’s hands and placed it over her own heart, holding it in place.
”I will be your sword,” Jaina said in a steady voice. No doubt, no hesitation. She had dreamt of this for so long. ”I will be your champion.” A sharp sting of magic broke through her, and her heart ached. A thin, blue string of light flowed from her chest and spun itself around Azshara’s ring finger, and as the queen pulled her hand back the thread snapped and Jaina felt it in her entire body. A terrible price. A promise no one should make.
”And so you are,” Azshara said, watching the thread on her finger become a silver ring set with a sapphire. ”Now come, champion, and pay tribute to your queen.”
Azshara did not need to ask twice. Jaina leaned in to kiss her, their tongues meeting and Jaina moaning into the passionate kiss as she sealed her sacrifice. As Azshara deepened the kiss, Jaina saw flashes of the city beneath the waves – the black towers rising, the red and gold unnatural light that illuminated its vastness. The dark, hollow-eyed marine life that circled around it, whispering prophecies and falsehoods.
”You will do well, my champion.” Azshara’s voice brought her back to the present, the queen’s hands moving over her body – down her neck, over her breasts, between her legs. ”You will bring me a glorious victory.”
The queen’s tentacles moved up the inside of Jaina’s legs, soft and teasing. Jaina gasped, overwhelmed with how Azshara could play her this well. She never seemed content to do just one thing at a time, her hands always busy.
Azshara took one of Jaina’s nipples between her fingers and rolled it then pinched it, greatly amused at how it affected Jaina. ”How precious you are.” She drew Jaina in for another kiss, but lighter this time.
Jaina felt the tentacles between her legs moving against her labia, the soft slender ends parting them and stroking along the sides of the hood. She dug her fingernails into Azshara’s back, moving into the touch. She had surrendered long ago and waited all this time for Azshara to take her.
While one tentacle teased Jaina’s clit, another was nudging at her entrance, testing and teasing. Azshara met Jaina’s gaze and held it steady as a tentacle slid into Jaina, the queen laughing at Jaina’s expression. She just wanted to watch Jaina lose herself to depravity.
Jaina didn’t know how to wrap her mind around what was going on – the queen’s hands were on her, touching her, teasing her, while a tentacle was inside her, moving and writhing in such a way that the stimulation felt electric. She could feel an orgasm thrumming up in her already and tried to squirm away out of instinct, not ready for such a overwhelming stimulation like that just yet. Azshara, however, would give her no reprieve and held her still, a wicked smile on her lips as she made sure to increase pressure and pace on both tentacles playing with Jaina.
All Jaina could do was surrender to the feeling. She closed her eyes and whimpered as the first orgasm peaked, and Azshara laughed. ”I have merely just begun.”
”I’m fine as it is already,” Jaina sighed, leaning her forehead on Azshara’s shoulder.
”When I am done, you will feel more than fine.”
Azshara’s tentacle flicked against Jaina’s clit and she had to stifle a scream against Azshara’s neck, so tender and sensitive, but it did not deter the queen. The tentacle then moved, sliding away before a thicker part of it came to rest in the same place. This time, a sucker closed over the small nub, and Jaina’s eyes shot open at the sensation.
”Fuck!” She moaned, writhing and kicking, a tremor already starting in her belly and working itself outwards. The feeling of that sucker was so much – more than any mouth, any tongue, could ever give her. Azshara was ruining her for other people. She would never know satisfaction like this again. Such a cruel, wicked queen… But oh, how she wanted more. How she wanted it all.
Just as she came to the brink of another high, the sucker vanished and the tentacle inside her pulled out. Jaina screamed in frustration, glaring at Azshara, indignant.
Azshara, however, cared little for her frustration. One of her tentacles pressed down along the spine, while Azshara’s closed two hands around Jaina’s neck. ”I want to hear you beg.” When Jaina said nothing, the pressure on her throat increased, cutting off her breathing. ”Plead with your queen. She is a merciful and loving one.”
”Please,” Jaina said, not putting any feeling in it. ”I need it…”
”You can do better than that.”
Jaina felt the air leaving her lungs but no new coming in. The taste of ocean water filled her mouth. ”My queen…” She gasped, struggling with the lack of air. ”I beg of you… Your champion begs for mercy. For your adoration. For your blessings.”
Azshara smiled, smug and pleased, but did not let go of Jaina’s neck. ”More,” she demanded.
”Beautiful–” Stars danced behind her eyes. She could feel death lurking at the edges of her consciousness. ”Beautiful queen, merciful queen. You shall rule all the seas, and all will love you. Every soul will adore you. Every heart will be filled with devotion.”
”They will sing my name in praise,” Azshara murmured against Jaina’s lips.
”They will revere none but you,” Jaina replied, her hands over Azshara’s, trying to peel them off her throat – or was she pushing down on them, making her choke her harder? She didn’t know anymore.
”They will build shrines to me.”
”No gods have known worship like you will.”
”No other gods will stand against me.”
”Hail Azshara, queen of endless empires…” Jaina felt like she was crying. Or maybe she was coming. It was hard to tell the difference.
”You will be my champion, Jaina Proudmoore,” Azshara purred, her lips touching Jaina’s as she spoke, the pressure on Jaina’s throat easing up a little. ”You will carry my power, you will be my vessel and conduit, the one who makes my vision come true. You are cherished by me. And I will reward you, always, for your heartfelt service.”
The tentacles returned, the suction back, and Jaina felt one tentacle plunge into her. When she scrabbled for grip on Azshara’s hands, another tentacle wrapped around her hands and kept them stilled at her side, leaving Jaina completely at Azshara’s mercy. And at that moment, she wished for nothing else.
Another tentacle joined the first inside her, pushing in alongside it. Jaina felt them writhing in her, moving against each other, the friction caused by them making her shudder. That alone was enough to push her over the edge, and an orgasm washed over her.
But Azshara was not done with her.
A tentacle replaced Azshara’s hands around her neck, Azshara pushing her fingers into Jaina’s mouth. Jaina pressed her tongue between the two digits, licking, begging, whimpering. When the fingers left, making their way down Jaina’s body, it felt like they left a trail of fire in their wake. She cried out when the fingertips moved over Jaina’s clit, rubbing gently.
”So much noise you make.” One of Azshara’s head tentacles filled Jaina’s mouth, working itself to the back of it and pressing at the entrance to her throat, making it hard to breathe.
Jaina had never experienced anything like this in her life: she was filled and full, Azshara’s fingers expertly bringing her to the edge while tentacles writhed inside of her. It all was too much, and just perfect, and wondrous and delicious and oh, she could barely think. What else mattered but this moment?
She lost count of how many times she came, but each one left her limper than the previous one until she felt close to fainting. Only then did Azshara stop. When the tentacles pulled out Jaina felt gaping and empty, whimpering to be filled again.
Azshara pressed a final kiss to her lips as darkness washed over Jaina, a dark but lovely laugh echoing in her last waking moments.
Jaina awoke on the beach, her legs still shaking with the orgasms that had coursed through her. Her breathing trembled as she felt along her body, tracing the sucker marks, feeling the soreness of her own sex. It had happened. She had sealed her destiny with the queen.
The terror of it all rose up in her, but she closed her eyes and thought of why. For a chance to save my people. For Kul Tiras. For the Alliance. For me.
On a distant shore, Jaina crushed the black pearl in her hands, letting the darkness out and taking it all into her. All the power she ever needed to first be a savior… And then, a conqueror.
Deep below the waters, Azshara felt what Jaina had done, and she smiled to herself. Her heart is mine now.