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Life Rekindled

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Life Rekindled

A Purpose Fulfilled

Alexstrasza looked at the prone, broken form of the large black dragon that lay upon the snow-covered Dragon Wastes. Her brightly glowing orange eyes leered at him in a mixture of two conflicting emotions. Her brow was furrowed, but her lips curled downward. Thrall had struck true with the Dragon Soul; the blast of her energy, combined with the powers of Nozdormu, Kalecgos, her younger sister Ysera, and the orc shaman channeling a small portion of the Earth-Warder’s power had been sufficient to blast the Elementium plates off of the Destroyer’s back and severely damage one of his wings. The Life-Binder, with the other Aspects, watched as the Aspect of Death spiraled into the lands of Northrend blanketed by perpetual winter just north of Wyrmrest Temple.

The red wyrm lit carefully upon the ground, and watched as the eldritch creatures that served the Old Gods began to fade away. Around her, purple-hued twilight dragons fell from the sky as the collective forces of her red dragonflight, the green dragonflight, the bronze dragonflight, and the blue dragonflight established air supremacy. She was joined shortly afterward by the other leaders, who looked down upon Deathwing. Each had a fiery look of judgment within their eyes, but all looked to her. She was, after all, the Queen of all dragons, as decreed by the Titans. And he had dealt her more injury than any other presently alive; the only one to have suffered as much if not more was Malygos, but he was gone.

The body shook as the black dragon coughed, and Alexstrasza’s eyes narrowed at what she saw. He was still alive. The one who had put into motion the immense losses she had suffered in her life was still alive. It was he who had led Zuluhed the Whacked to the Demon Soul, if indirectly. It was with that accursed gold disc that Nekros Skullcrusher had captured and bound her twenty-five years ago, along with Tyranastrasz and two of her other consorts. For five years, five long years, she had been enslaved, forced to breed children for the Horde who would be slain if they showed weakness or resistance. She closed her eyes, and tried to relax. She almost felt the cold stone of Grim Batol beneath her feet again. She could almost hear Nekros’ gloating laugh. She almost felt again the gore of her shattered eggs, her murdered children, smeared onto her face and body. Her resistance and refusal pushed him to shatter her eggs in front of her very eyes. Every waking day was hell as she felt each death her children had caused, and each death they suffered. Those she loved, her consorts and children, were killed. Long after that was Vaelastrasz’s death after Nefarian, Neltharion’s son, twisted him.

Then there was her beloved son Caelestrasz, killed by Sintharia not long ago. She thought of her beloved prime consort Korialstrasz and their last ever clutch. She thought of how he had been forced to make all of the Sanctums of each dragonflight implode, killing himself and destroying all the eggs within Wyrmrest Temple, after that damnable Twilight’s Hammer cult had corrupted them. And, finally, the last clutch she’d had with her beloved that had actually hatched; Deathwing had tortured and twisted them into his pawns, and sent them to attack her. And she had to order the champions of Azeroth fighting with herself, the other Aspects, and Thrall to put them down while the Aspects channeled their power into the Dragon Soul.

And yet here the wretch who had caused her all of this suffering lay, still alive, but heavily wounded and abandoned as the twilight dragons fled, believing their master dead. Alexstrasza’s entire body shook as here, now, was the chance to end this madness once and for all. To put a stop to his threat and bring about justice for all of the pain the maddened black Aspect had sown into the people.

“Alexstrasza…”

Her fiery eyes widened as she heard her name hiss from his mouth. It was still that infernal timbre from the elementium jaw; that likely would not change. But the tone was…different. It sounded clear and relaxed, instead of manic as it had for over ten thousand years.

“Alexstrasza, Ysera, Nozdormu…kill me. Kill me now!”

“Neltharion…” Ysera said, her voice quivering.

The black dragon looked at each of them again. His eyes pleaded with them. He looked almost pathetic.

“You don’t have time to be looking at me like that! I…don’t know how long I’ll be free from that madness. Kill me before I turn back! Before that thing takes over again!”

He looked at the red wyrm plaintively.

“Alexstrasza, please…you were given compassion by Eonar. Don’t let me suffer that madness again. If you have any mercy in you, as Aspect of Life, end me before I become that monster again. For in life there is death, and in death there is life. Kill me. End this.”

The Life-Binder could feel their eyes fall on her. They had all made up their minds beforehand that the Black Aspect must die. But would she follow through? Eonar had given her the charge to love the unlovable, to heal what others could not.

The red dragon inhaled, and then exhaled after pondering a moment. The champions were still on the summit of the Wyrmrest Temple, the domed roof having been knocked off in the fighting and thus they were standing where the Wyrmrest Accord’s ambassadors would typically meet, both during the Nexus War and in this current situation.

“No.”

The single word sent a shock through everyone present, the Black Aspect most of all.

“No?” he asked, dumbstruck.

“Death would be a mercy. It would be an escape and it would not be true justice. For all that you have done to this world, to your best friend Malygos, and to myself, you will instead live and face the scorn of those who you attempted to destroy. You will have to rebuild your own life. You will be hated, sworn at, and likely attacked. And this you will bear as you make penance, and return to your original duties as the Earth-Warder."

She looked to the orc shaman, who looked at her in stunned silence.

“Earth-Warder,” the Dragon Queen said, “release the energy of we Aspects that was imparted into the Dragon Soul. There is something I would attempt, but it will require more strength than I can muster alone, even with my full power restored to me. I will need the assistance of all the Aspects.”

“Just what do you plan to do, Alexstrasza?” Nozdormu asked.

“To heal what others cannot. The corruption of the Old Gods is strong, and I cannot lift it on my own. The moon goddess that the Night Elves worship can do this, as she has done with the Emerald Nightmare, but I alone am not strong enough. I would purge their influence from him, once and for all. It is what I should have done over ten thousand years ago.”

Thrall looked to the others who only nodded their heads in agreement. He cautiously reached out and took one of Neltharion’s scales from his body. He would not use it to destroy the Dragon Soul; he would only use it to cause enough of a scratch to release the energy. Neltharion would then repair it when freed so that it might be returned to the time stream undamaged. It had to be untouched, to allow it to be used as it was meant to in the past.

The obsidian scale dragged over the golden disc, and the energy imparted into it by Alexstrasza the Life-Binder, Kalecgos the Steward of Magic, Ysera the Awakened, and Nozdormu the Timeless One flowed back into them.

Ysera watched and waited with uneasiness as her older sister placed a claw onto the black dragon’s forehead. A wide circle of green light surrounded her feet and a glow of green energy surrounded her claws as she started to feed her power into Alexstrasza, just as she had done with the Dragon Soul.

Thrall watched as Nozdormu did similar, a wind whipping up what appeared to be sand around the Bronze Aspect’s feet, and a field of arcane magic, blue in glow, around the Blue Aspect’s. He turned to look at Deathwing, and saw that the earth was starting to surround him. Neltharion was beginning to push back against the madness. He raised his own hands to pour what little power of the Earth-Warder’s he had in him, and focused on Alexstrasza.

Flame hissed and crackled as it circled around Alexstrasza, and soon a green glow appeared around her claw as well. Twilight dragons continued to plummet lifeless to Dragonblight, and the foul fleshy masses receded further, until they completely fled.

“Neltharion! Fight it! Return to who you once were! You were my greatest supporter, you were our friend! Fight it!” Alexstrasza shouted.

There was a blinding flash of light, one that could be seen as far north as the floating city of Dalaran, home of the Kirin Tor, which currently hovered over the Crystalsong Forest. It faded as quickly as it came, and when it receded the four Aspects had collapsed with exhaustion, forced to their humanoid forms. All around them, the presence of the forces that Deathwing had summoned vanished.

“It is finished…we Aspects have fulfilled our purpose, the prevention of the Hour of Twilight. Though our power is diminished greatly…” Alexstrasza rasped.

“The voices…the whispers…” the black dragon said. He lifted his head up from the snow-covered ground. “They’re…gone. I don’t hear them anymore.”

“Yes, old friend. You are free of their influence. But now you have a task just as difficult ahead of you,” Ysera said.

Neltharion looked up, his now emerald eyes focused first on Ysera, then on Kalecgos, Nozdormu next, and finally Alexstrasza. He hung his head, feeling the elementium jaw still on his face and the plates still on his chest.

“I… I am sorry. I should not have listened to them. I should have—”

She raised a hand, silencing him. “There will be time later for that. For now, we must rest. This has taken much from us…and I’m sure that our allies, and the world, will want to hear of our success in preventing the end of all things,” the red wyrm said.
She, now in her high elven form, struggled to stand from where she knelt in the snow, only to stagger once more, and fall to her knees again. Her gloved hands pressed deep into the snow under her, and she looked to the gold disc as it started to fade away, back into time, the scratch seeming to have somehow vanished, whole once more.

“I… did not expect thisss outcome,” Nozdormu said. He looked at Neltharion, perplexed. “What I sssaw and knew indicated that you ssshould have been killed at the Maelstrom by the championsss, with we Aspectsss assisting them. That you sssurvive is different from Aman’thul’s plan.”

“Nozdormu, as I said, we shall speak of all that has happened at another time. We must see to it that the champions are safe. After all, they were the ones who were most at risk, defending us from…” Alexstrasza started.

Her voice broke as she recalled just who it was that the adventurers had to fell in order to defend herself and the other Aspects. Her children, twisted by Deathwing; they were the last of her children with her beloved. But they were, as she said, no longer her clutch. They did not hold any feelings toward her, save hatred and a desire to kill her. And she could not save them. Another bitter reminder of life lost that she should have been able to protect.

Korialstrasz, she thought. Forgive me. I could not protect our children.

The march back to Wyrmrest Temple was a slow one, fatigued as they all were from the strain. The renewed Earth-Warder was kept in the middle of the six who traveled, with Alexstrasza in the front, flanked closely behind by Ysera and Nozdormu. Kalecgos and Thrall both remained behind Neltharion, to best keep an eye on him. They, of the five who had come together to face Deathwing, were the ones who least trusted him. Kalec, after all, had only known of the Black Aspect as Deathwing, as the one who had so utterly devastated his flight and was responsible for his predecessor’s descent into a ten thousand year long madness.
       
The audience that remained at the temple greeted the returned Aspects and Thrall with thunderous applause. The forces of the Old Gods had disappeared, and they were saved. However, all fell silent as they spied the notable frame of Neltharion the Betrayer. The dragons at the temple, most notably, were those who were most cold toward him.

Neltharion bowed his head in shame. He understood their hatred for him. There was much he was responsible for.

“The Hour of Twilight has been prevented,” Alexstrasza announced, and immediately the mood started to lift once more. “What is more… another victory has been won. The lifting of the Old Gods’ corruption from Neltharion the Earth-Warder has been accomplished. Deathwing is no more; who he once was has been restored.”

All fell silent again, and all eyes focused upon the tall figure. His skin was pale and he looked… almost human, though not quite. Clad in black armor with that same metal plate over his lower jaw.

“No. Not who I once was,” he said, his voice calm. It still had that timbre to it caused by the metal jaw. “I can never be who I once was. Nor do I want to be. That Neltharion… was weak. Not of body, no. Compassionate he may have been, but weak of will, too. He let the voices of the enemies we were meant to protect this world from lead him away from trusting those he called friends. I do not want to be him.”

Murmurs began to rise up within the crowd gathered, and soon the twenty-five champions who had helped in the fighting walked in through the southern entrance to the base. At the front of the group stood a male blood elf with long red hair, clad in armor of reds and golds and silvers. The elf looked at Neltharion with fire in his eyes.

“Eloquently spoken, but do not think that carefully chosen words will convince us to forgive so easily. You have always been skilled with words. You were very skilled at charming others into believing what you had to say. The Dragon Soul speaks to that fact.”

The Black Aspect looked to the blood elf and studied him carefully with his emerald eyes. Something was… not right about the armored elf. As he looked more closely, realization soon dawned on him. A grin cracked its way across his face.

“What is your name?” Neltharion asked.

“Varathael,” the elf replied.

“No, I don’t mean that affectation of yours that you have taken up. What is your actual name? For I know you are no elf, but one of Alexstrasza’s flight. How sly of you, to be in a group in which there were no elves to give away your identity.”

The elf grimaced, and closed his eyes.

“Considering no other dragons here had given me away I had hoped I wouldn’t have to reveal myself,” Varathael said. He let out a sigh of disappointment. “Varathaelstrasz. That is my name.”

The others in the party turned to look at their comrade, stunned. The paladin who had fought with them for so long had been a dragon this entire time?

The Life-Binder nodded and looked at the blood elf with a knowing smile. “I am relieved,” she said. “You and your fellow champions are unharmed?”

“Nothing some rest won’t fix up. I suspect that the others will not quite want to deal with being touched by dragon fire. Even if we can use it to heal, it will still be…unpleasant.”

Ysera looked warily at Alexstrasza. There were many questions in her mind right now that she felt needed to be asked. And her sister did say that they would discuss several important matters later. Now that they were within the safety of Wyrmrest Temple, surely that time was now. The Awakened flicked her eyes about, and noticed that she was not the only one who seemed to have questions begging to be asked of the Dragon Queen.

As if sensing this, Alexstrasza let out a sigh. It was one of fatigue, but also resignation. She knew she couldn’t put off the discussions forever.

“Let us, at least, go to the Chamber of the Aspects so that we might take our proper forms. I will also need time, eventually, to heal those wounds of Neltharion’s.”

It was a stalling tactic. She knew it would only buy her a minimal amount of time, and those within the spacious base of the tower also recognized it. But almost no one had ever been to the Chamber of the Aspects. Then again, no non-dragon had ever been up above the base of the tower either, until the Nexus War had broken out.

Before anyone could stop her with a question, the red-haired female elf was already on the move northward, to head to the Chamber of the Aspects. She had much to answer for…

And she had a feeling that the discussion would not be a pleasant one.
       

By the time the rest arrived, Alexstrasza was already waiting within the cavernous room, returned to her natural form. Even as large as she was, and she was physically the second-largest of the Aspects, the sheer size of the room made even her appear small. She had taken her customary place near the center of the room, standing in front of where the archway to the Ruby Sanctum lay. The temple had been rebuilt from the damage that it suffered when Korialstrasz had sacrificed himself, but there still remained the task of rebuilding the Sanctums. She had already rebuilt the Ruby Sanctum. This was something each of the Aspects would have to do when they had time. For now, however, this could not be put off any longer.

“For those who have questions, do not hesitate to ask.”

Ysera, who had taken her spot just to Alexstrasza’s left, was the first.

“Sister, there is something that has been…troubling me for some time. Why did you not seek out Malygos during those ten thousand years? To offer him your assistance in whatever way you could? You were given the ability to heal what others cannot by Eonar.”

The Life-Binder sighed wistfully. She had expected that this might come up sooner or later.

“To be entirely truthful, Ysera, it is likely for the same reason that you and Nozdormu had isolated yourselves. After what happened with his flight, after we were removed from the battlefield by the power of the Dragon Soul, we all went into hiding,” Alexstrasza said. “And with the war against the black dragonflight, travel was…difficult. We were afraid. We were afraid that we might also be destroyed by Deathwing, just as Malygos’ flight almost was. I had tried on some occasions to reach out to him. I visited Coldarra several times...but he sealed himself off, sealed the cave. I could not bring myself to barge in on him when he wanted isolation. And I curse myself every day for making that choice not to do more.”

“Then how is it that Korialstrasz was able to bring himself to Malygos’ cave?” Ysera asked.

“Desperation. He was pressed for time. My beloved teleported himself directly into Malygos’ cave. I, unlike my beloved, cannot teleport anywhere on a whim. Korialstrasz had been to Malygos’ cave many, many times in the past, before the Sundering. He studied magic under Malygos, looked up to him and Neltharion. Many sorcerers cannot teleport. It is why I myself fly. Teleportation is magic that must be studied. There are even members of the Council of Six who could not or cannot manage it,” Alexstrasza said simply. “Remember, if you will, that he also sought Nozdormu’s aid, and yours. And that you three were reluctant at first.”

“Then permit me a question,” a human mage of the Kirin Tor said, and stepped forward. “Why did you not try and persuade Malygos to cease his actions with the surge needles? We understand his feelings about the use of arcane magic. We agree that it was becoming overused. But the surge needles along the ley lines were tearing up the planet and could have threatened all life.”

“We did, along with the members of your Council of Six,” Kalecgos interjected. He looked at the Life-Binder and bowed his head. “Forgive me for stepping in. Before a council could even be convened between mortal magi and dragons, Malygos enacted his own plan. Malygos and those loyal to him answered our pleas for negotiation with open hostility. That does, however, lead me to my own question.”

“Ask, and I will answer,” Alexstrasza said.

“Why did you not try to spare Malygos as you have spared Neltharion? Malygos’ crimes against life were, arguably, less severe than Deathwing’s,” Kalec said.

At this the black dragon lowered his head. He knew that they weren’t like to forget, especially not so soon. This was just a taste of what he knew he would be facing in the coming millennia. Much damage had been done over the past ten thousand years. It would take long for him to even begin to atone.

“Because I already failed to notice his cry for help once in the past, and that cost the entire world. Malygos was lucid when he started his war on mortal mages. Giving Neltharion the chance was my way of making up for my poor decision ten thousand years ago,” the Aspect of Life said. “What’s more, Malygos claimed that he had stored enough arcane magic with the Focusing Iris to destroy the world multiple times over. Whether he was bluffing or not, I do not know, but the chance could not be taken. In his declaration of war on mortal mages…I saw all the makings of that day ten thousand years ago, the deaths of the elves caused by the Dragon Soul...and I hardened my heart and believed I had to be decisive.”

She closed her eyes and let out a sigh. When her eyes opened again, her calm mask fell away. Her features were almost contorted with pain.

“But that was wrong. I should not have hardened my heart to him. If I could rewind time and undo the mistakes I have made, I would do so in a heartbeat. But I cannot. Malygos was a dear friend. He was like a brother to me. I know he was closer to Neltharion than he was to me, but… having to take his life killed part of me, as well. He was an older brother who had, before the War of the Ancients, supported me, and I failed him, completely and utterly. I couldn’t save him from his misery. I couldn’t… I couldn’t heal him despite my charge to, or rather I didn’t. I don’t even know anymore. But when I heard Neltharion’s voice call for help, not Deathwing’s, I had to do what I should have done ten thousand years ago. What I failed to do back then.”

The Timeless One who stood across from her was watching the proceedings carefully, waiting patiently for a moment in which it was time for him to inject his own thoughts. Finally, he saw his opportunity. “Be that asss it may, Alexstrasza, there is still the fact that you are making these decisionsss unilaterally. You were granted the title of Queen of the Dragonsss by Aman’thul, but we were sssstill to serve as advisorsss. Failing that, our representativesss in the Wyrmrest Accord could have spoken on behalf of our flightsss. Wasss it not why you formed the Accord?”

She nodded her head in response. “You are right, of course. I should have been listening to others, not just my own counsel and my beloved’s. It makes sense that you, Lord of Time, would be the one who sees things more objectively than the rest of us. That said; if you believed there were other options, why did you not communicate them to Chronormu that she might speak on your behalf and influence the decision in the end?”

An orc male stepped forward this time, and looked at the colossal red wyrm. “Then perhaps, with that settled, we might bring up other grievances we have. Our champions, Alliance and Horde, assisted you during the Nexus War. We fought an Aspect for you! That alone would be a suicidal task. And yet, when the time came for us to storm Icecrown Citadel…”

Varathaelstrasz, having taken his own natural wyrm form, closed his eyes. He knew immediately what was coming, once Varok Saurfang had stepped forward.

Alexstrasza also knew what was coming. It was a decision she had wrestled with when making it, and one she continued to wrestle with afterward. “You want to know why I did not help you storm the Citadel and aid in the fight against the Lich King.”

The orc grunted in response. “You’re damn right. The Scourge was raising your dead as ember wyrms, violating the sanctity of your dead! You had just as much cause to want him dealt with as we did. All the dragons here did! Yet the only one who offered their assistance, in a way, was Varathael serving as a member of the strike force.”

His hands balled up into fists as he looked at the Life-Binder, enraged. “Do you know what could have happened? These champions who helped you defeat Deathwing; they could have been killed by Arthas! He was likely eager to turn them into his soldiers of the Scourge, just as he did my son! It is by some miracle they were not. Our champions would never have been able to help you stop the Hour of Twilight. One of your own flight could have died fighting on our behalf!” he ranted. His right hand was outstretched, gesturing to the red wyrm standing beside the Red Aspect.

Varathaelstrasz had to fight to keep himself from shaking. It was a sore subject for him as well. Alexstrasza had thanked the group of adventurers who had fought Malygos and risked their very lives facing arguably the most powerful mage in Azeroth. But there was no such word of thanks for halting Arthas’ campaign from the Dragon Queen, no question about what happened at the top of the dark citadel in the middle of the northernmost reaches of Northrend. But, as the orc had conjectured, Arthas had slaughtered them all with ease, even if no individual present other than he and his company knew that Saurfang’s conjecture was in fact the reality.

The orc’s eyes were narrowed as he looked from the male wyrm to Alexstrasza. “Did you even bother thanking him, or express any sort of concern? Were you concerned at all about him or about any of those who faced the Lich King?”

“I—“

Varathaelstrasz could sit by no longer. “She didn't know. I did not tell her what happened in detail. All she knew was that Arthas was slain, by mortal hands.”

The orc looked at Varathaelstrasz. All present did, including the Aspects and his comrades. Alexstrasza was the most unbalanced emotionally at present, both by the orc's words and the dragon’s.

“I didn’t join the fight against Arthas to receive thanks from my queen,” Varathaelstrasz said. He looked carefully at Alexstrasza, hoping that his queen would not take offense to him interrupting her from speaking. “I did not volunteer to fight against Deathwing, despite knowing just how severely the odds would be stacked against us, to gain her favor. I joined the fight to protect the world, as is the charge of we dragons. Azeroth is my home and I will defend it to the death.”

Alexstrasza looked to the smaller red wyrm, and seemed to smile, even if it was physically impossible for dragons to do so. She owed him a considerable debt, him and the other champions of the world. “Varathaelstrasz… thank you. Thank you for your service to the world. To this flight…”

“I’m happy to be of service, my queen.”

“My point,” Saurfang said, “is that you are out of touch with mortals. Yes, you have guided us, and protected us. Even after what the Old Horde did to you, you’ve still seen fit to protect all life, including orcs, despite you and your get having every right to scorn us and exclude us from your charge. But you see us as children who need to be shepherded, and less as those who are to eventually step up and forge our own destinies.”

“I have something else to bring up,” Varathaelstrasz said. The rest turned to look at him. “A potential reason she did not leave to reinforce the siege of Icecrown Citadel. The black dragonflight, represented by Nalice, was part of the Wyrmrest Accord during the Nexus War. It was an alliance made out of necessity. They shared a common enemy with us. Once Malygos was slain, and the war ended, that mutual enemy evaporated. Because of this, as the only Aspect who was here, her presence was a deterrent against any form of treachery, at least for a time, up until the invasion of the Ruby Sanctum where we kept our eggs. Leaving would have been an open invitation for them to make a move much sooner than they did.”

Alexstrasza shook her head as she heard the wyrm state as much. It was a passable reason, but truthfully not the reason she had done so. And it was for this very reason that she felt even more ashamed.

“Varathaelstrasz, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but these questions are being asked of me. Furthermore, I must admit that I see the wisdom in these questions,” she said. “And so I have my own thoughts on where to go from here. Now, with our purpose fulfilled, we must gradually cede the shaping of the destiny of Azeroth to the mortals. This does not mean, however, that we no longer have a place in this world. As for myself, I plan to find my own new purpose. And I hope that we will give Neltharion the fair chance to atone for what Deathwing did to this world.”

“Why? What’s to stop him from turning against us? He did, after all, hate mortals,” a human woman called out.

Ysera looked at the woman, disappointment in her rainbow-hued eyes.

“Who among you believed my sister would destroy the Horde with her flight as reprisal for what was done to her by the Dragonmaw clan?” Ysera asked. There was a great deal of murmuring in response to this question. “But look at how it has changed and grown. There are heroes on both sides; individuals who are cruel and others who are noble. And lest the Alliance should forget, you have had your own fair share of men and women who were anything but honorable.”

“Need I mention Othmar Garithos?” Nozdormu asked.

Immediately the mood of the room changed as the contempt from blood elves within the Chamber of Aspects rose in a crescendo at the mere mention of the marshal.

Alexstrasza let out a loud yawn. The mortals looked at her, astonished. None among them could ever recall hearing a dragon, let alone an Aspect, let out a yawn, nor had they heard one so loud. “Forgive me…the battle was more taxing than I thought. I think what would be best for us all is to return to where we belong, and take a rest we have all earned.”

The murmurs started up again as the mortals and other dragons began to disperse. Few were satisfied with her explanations. Ysera, in particular, looked suspicious of her. The withering gaze she gave to her older sister cut through the Red Aspect more deeply than any blade could. As the champions began to leave, the Life-Binder looked at the red wyrm male. “Hold, Varathaelstrasz. There is something I must discuss with you, but I would prefer it be for you alone to hear. Pray join me in the Ruby Sanctum.”

Before he could give his answer, however, the Aspect of Life passed through the waygate leading into their sacred ground. Varathaelstrasz let out an exasperated sigh. Just what did his queen have in store for him?