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The Gadgetzan Gazette

Chapter Text

It was one thing to hear of the ship that had once carried the Naaru to Draenor being here as well, but quite another to see its majestic hull half-embedded into the land, even from far offshore.

Yrel kept her mouth shut, though, simply allowing herself to blend into the group returning to their home here on 'Azeroth'. It had been difficult to manage, but she had wanted to understand these draenei who had come from elsewhere and had chosen to go back with their Alliance friends instead of staying with their kin on Draenor, and so she had learned to make herself overlooked by the Naaru and slipped into the supply movements heading back through the repaired Portal.

And now, a continent (and a world) and more than a month from home, she was here, and she couldn't decide how she felt about the fact that none of them had ever mentioned this.

(...then again, she doubted she would have believed it were she told, but after seeing what Gul'dan had twisted the orcs into, and how Azeroth's Horde, especially the orcs, had reacted to the news...)

Still, how the Exodar could be crashed here while it was still in safe orbit back home could be left for later, once she had settled in and could properly access the computers that were still intact, wherever they might be. The others on the ship had started to perk up at the sight, and she couldn't help but smile along with them as they celebrated their successful return.

It was another hour before the ship finally pulled into the simple wooden dock, Yrel following the flow of the crowd as they disembarked to the sight of thousands cheering their return, men and women and children alike standing to the side of the path as the returning soldiers passed by. More than one was pulled to the side by a husband or wife, celebrating their reunion with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the crowds combined.

It reminded her much of the celebrations that had raged across Shadowmoon in the weeks following the demise of Archimonde and the breaking of the Legion's power base on Draenor.

She continued on with the rest, making their way around to the main entrance to the ship, which had thankfully avoided being buried with the rest of the ship during its crash. The crowds started to taper off, giving the group free passage down the winding tunnel that, even in various states of repair, still managed to convey the comforting air and otherworldliness of the Naaru who had built it.

By the time they reached the base of the ramp and emerged into the massive main room, Yrel had brought her awe back under control, focusing instead on the new crowds awaiting them, just as cheerful as those outside had been.

She shifted, starting to realize that she truly did not understand this offshoot of her people, who had faced trials she had never dared imagined, just like they had been so awkward in her world's trials. She was an intruder, spying on these innocent people who were being brought together again after their long separation. She did not belong, and had she not been so damned curious about her once allies, she would still be on Draenor helping to rebuild as she should instead of watching everyone else celebrate.

Suddenly a hush fell across the crowd, drawing her from her morose thoughts of slipping away as soon as she was able. It didn't take long for her to realize someone powerful in the Light was making their way towards them, though who they were didn't strike her for another few precious seconds, during which the crowds had parted to reveal her teacher.

Her dead teacher, who had sacrificed his life to save a Naaru from the corruption inflicted on it by the Iron Horde, but who no one seemed to care was supposed to be dead as he spoke to them. She stared unblinkingly as he paused to greet many of the returning soldiers personally, sometimes resting a hand on their shoulders, in all cases as serene as she remembered.

Then he was beside her, and she couldn't begin to think, her world view still in the process of denial and shattering as his impossibly old and unwaveringly kind gaze settled onto her.

"Hmm," He spoke, his soft voice enough to bring a tear to her eyes. "I don't recall your face among those sent to assist the Archmage and the Alliance. Why do you hide your face, child?"

Yrel couldn't find her voice, still wrapped in the confusing mix of joy and misery at her mentor's perfect likeness. Even when she felt his hand gently pressed to her forehead, she couldn't find the will to stop him, her heart too busy pleading and dreading this to all be real and not just another cruel dream.

The thin illusion of disinterest around her shattered as easily as a bubble, several of those around her startling back as she full presence finally was allowed to be viewed. His gaze remained frozen on hers, neither willing to look away and break the moment that stretched on for an eternity.

"...Yrel?"

She swallowed, more tears starting to leak as she heard the slightest hesitance in his voice, as if he felt as trapped in this dream as she did. "Uncle…"

His hand lowered, eyes looking down on her Vindicator armor and mace before returning to the sigil on her forehead that he had left to her for safekeeping, to remind her to be strong no matter what. "I see you have been burdened greatly, and that you have handled that burden beyond what any could have demanded of you."

The Prophet smiled again, wrenching her heart for a third time in as many moments. "You have done our people well, Yrel, and you have made me proud beyond my wildest imagination."

That was the tipping point, a sob escaping her lips as she surged forward, grappling him in the tightest hug she could to try and hold onto this moment as long as possibly, letting all her buried grief and confusion lose at last in front of the one who had taught her so much. She hardly cared who else was there, because all that mattered was this.

(Maybe this was what she had been meant to avoid all along, or perhaps what she had always been destined to do. Either way, she couldn't wish for anything to have changed.)