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Through the looking glass

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Nerenis Goldblaze was standing crouched in the shadow of Argent Tournament Coliseum for good 15 minutes gathering courage. He's been waiting for this moment his whole life and finally the opportunity was just a few yards away. The white walls of the Silver Covenant Pavillon were flopping silently in the mild wind and he could hear the voices of Alliance champions from within. 

His target must have been inside without a question. He's been observing the group of Darnassus champions for a week now, seen all of their fights carefully hidden in the crowd of spectators, made precise notes about their schedule and knew every detail of their armor. The latter being his biggest problem. The punishingly freezing weather up here in the mountains forced everyone to seek cover in layers of furs and armor making it almost impossible to catch a glimpse of skin and for Nerenis, who have never seen a real night elf in person before, made all of them look exactly the same. 

The only exception to this was the relative warmth of the faction tents serving as temporary housing. His single chance to see the elves taking at least their helmets of was to sneak up to the tent and hope there will be a gap in the fabrics just in the right spot. Summed up his chances were close to zero, but desperate times call for desperate measures. He already risked too much to just get to the Tournament Grounds to walk away without finishing his quest. 

Ready to cast an invisibility spell at the first sight of troubles, he took his first step towards the tent. The Tournament grounds were considered a neutral territory and everyone was able to roam freely in relative safety. Plus, it was too late for anyone to be outside, everyone was already inside their tents gathering strength for another tournament day or searching for courage in a flagon of mead. But still, Nerenis needed to be especially careful not to get caught. The temporary peace was too fragile and any accusation of spying would earn him a one-way trip back home before he could say Mana Wyrm. 

His heart felt like a rock in his chest before he even reached the tent and his mouth went completely dry. By the time he found first small tear in the fabric his adrenaline levels were off the charts. Taking in a shaky breath he peeked inside and... 

BINGO! Darnassus insignia was hanging proud on the opposing wall and before him. His heart almost skipped a beat and it took enormous effort to contain his happiness. Any movement could easily give him up and being this close to his goal he couldn't afford that. Another silent breath later he searched the room. It was decorated in violet and green just as he imagined it would be and three well build figures were sitting around the brazier in the middle. Night elves, he could tell for once not by the armor, because they were not currently wearing much of it, seemed to be in a good mood, sitting around a brazier. One of them was naked from the waist up, giving Nerenis a spectacular view of his blueish skin, while the others were patching a wound on his back and making macho remarks about the fights earlier today. 

The fabric in the corner of the tent moved and another elf, dressed in full armor, stepped inside the visible space. This one was a bit taller and leaner than the rest of the group and Nerenis instantly recognized him as the one riding the fabulously black saber cat.  

The said elf laughed at a joke his mates made and pulled his helmet off his head. In the brazier light his hair were pitch black just as his mount with occasional purple undertones, falling gracefully around his face. Nerenis held his breath in anticipation as the new guy laid off his furry cloak, undid his pauldrons, tossed both aside and started to undo his chest piece, ready to uncover more of his violet skin. 

With a shout someone pushed Nerenis away from the tent and to his side into the thick layer of snow. Before he could gather himself, there was a hand grabbing the front of his robes and he was lifted into the air. 

He tried to assess the situation frantically. There were two of them. Both in signature Darnassian armor spiting Darnassian insults into his face. One was holding him under the neck, the second one baring the sword by his side. There was more noise and shouting he didn't quite understand and the remaining four elves poured outside from the tent half undressed as they were seconds before but with weapons in their hands. 

“No, please, I just wanted to...” He tried to explain himself but stopped mid sentence. What the hell would he tell them? 

The tall dark haired one stepped forward and barked something at his mates. Darnassian and Thalassian had some similarities and Nerenis should have been able to understand it, but everything was happening too quickly. They tossed him on his knees, two of them grabbed his wrists and pulled his hands up behind his back, ultimately driving his face into the snow. 

He could feel one of the elves looming over him. It was a matter of seconds before they pull back his hood and discover who he is. Then his leader gets to know and he is sent back home on the first ship never given such opportunity again. He needed to think fast. Invisibility spell would be no use since they were already holding him but he wasn’t out of options 

A blue and violet blast of arcane explosion illuminated the night and tossing the elves into the snow. Nerenis didn't wait a second. Quick blink, invisibility spell and short sprint got him to the other side of the of the tent. The confused and angry shouts behind him only made him speed up. He couldn’t run back to Sunreaver tent and risk them finding out he was Horde so he aimed for the combat rings, hoping to hide among the smaller tents. Another blink brought him into the shadow of tribunes and he dared to turn around to see his pursuers. There were three, the ones that caught him outside and the tall one. They were fast and closing up to him. 

Frost nova freezed them in place quite securelly and Nerenis couldn’t help but smirk. Only a dumbass would think they can catch a fleeing mage in such a frost friendly environment. He picked up his pace again and sprinted past the rings, looking for a place to hide but finding none in this direction. He could feel one of the elves breaking out of his freezing trap and there were only the uninhabitable frozen planes of Icecrown infront of him. Uninhabitable for anyone who wasn’t familiar with magic. Noone would surely pursue him there in the middle of night risking frost bites and worse. It was his only chance. 

With a little help of magic, he managed to run on the surface of the snow and cover quite a distance in short time. Finally, he stopped to catch his breath and look around. The Tournament Grounds lights were still visible but no longer illuminating the snow around him. He could see tiny figures of the nigh elves give up and regroup by the tent. It was hard to count them from the distance, but there definitely was one, two, three, four, five, ... 

Being knocked down into the snow for the second time in his life didn’t feel any better than the first one. There was someone atop of him, trying catch his hands. They struggled for a while, but the ever-present snow was not helping and Nerenis soon found his wrist in a death grip of another's fingers. He was pushed back into the snow with the attacker straddling his waist, making it impossible for him to kick him off.  

They found themselves laying in the snow, both breathing heavily. The dark haired elf's eyes were only beginning to focus as the adrenalin rush typical for warriors was ending. Nerenis tried to struggle some more but any physical offense seemed to be useless. Calling to his magic, the scene was suddenly illuminated by the pyre blast he started to conjure and in the bright light he could see the face of his opponent and by the look of it, he could see his as well. Nerenis realized his hood must have fallen off during the fight and his hair was pooling around his cheeks. NIght elf's expression suddenly went from aggressive to utterly confused. 

“Goldie?” The elf spoke in common language, visibly unsure. 

The one word made Nerenis hesitate and take a second look at his opponent's face, but it was too late. The pyro blast spilled from his palms in the next second, hitting the elf in the chest and sending him flying yards away. 

XXX 

“Are you nuts?!” Aenrel was trying to keep his voice down with great effort and barely succeeding. They were sitting in the Sunreavers tent, the small part of it dedicated to Sin'dorei delegation. It was just Nerenis and Aenrel here as the remaining of their group were still drinking furiously in main area with other champions sent to represent the Horde. Nerenis was sitting naked next to a brazier while the other blood elf was trying to dry his golden hair with spells. 

“I just had to go and see!” Nerenis tried to explain for like the millionth time while fumbling through a pile of his clothes, trying to find something dry to put on. His robes were completely drenched from the snow he melted while casting the pyroblast. 

“This obsession of yours is going to get you killed one day!” Aenrel hissed into his ear. “Or worse, executed for treason.”  

Nerenis waved him off with a piece of bright red underwear. “Yea, yea, yea, now shut up and help me change before someone finds out.” After the unfortunate encounter and blasting the night elf off him, Nerenis ran straight back to their tent. It seemed noone from his party noticed he was gone, until he ran into Aenrel. Surely his best friend must have noticed. 

Aenrel Starstrider was a fellow mage. They studied magic together in Silvermoon, shared the same room for years, trained together and eventually persuaded the Grand Magistrix to send them to represent Silvermoon on the Tournamet. It was their first chance in live to meet face to face with the races of the Alliance. But Aenrel wasn't as thrilled by that as Nerenis was and he was also right about the possible treason. 

Nerenis sighed. “I know, but...” He stood up and stepped away from his friend as he knew what he was about to say may upset him and he was too fond of his hair to do that too close to the magical fire. “Do you remember the imaginary friend I had when I was younger?” 

Aenrel's expression changed first to confused and then to furious. “What? No, you will not bring that shit up again.” he waved his hands angrily and but let the fire disappear. 

Nerenis rolled his eyes. “Do you or not?” he urged and the other elf gave up. 

“Of couse I do. You called him Purple.”  

“Violet, but that's not the point.” Nerenis corrected and wanted to continue but Aenrel cut him off. 

“Exactly, the point is he wasn't real. Young mages get to see all sorts of creatures before they learn how to shield properly. You seeing a night elf boy is no difference.” 

“Yea, but what if he was?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“What if he was real?”