The sands of time heal all wounds. Nozdormu felt the sands cascade down his draconic shape, flowing around torn flesh and battered scales, slowing down infection and speeding up regeneration. The final battle against Deathwing had taken its' toll on all the remaining Aspects, but in the end, Azeroth had been spared a terrible fate. None knew this better than the Aspect of Time, he who had seen the End Time wherein his alternate self had hidden, trying desperately to avoid a fate that had been written at the dawn of his own creation.
The final push against his former ally Neltharion, long lost to madness, had drained himself and his allies of their titan-given powers. No longer could he flow up- and downstream time with merely a thought. The Hour of Twilight had passed, and now the future was uncertain. The age of mortals had begun, and he could no longer see with clarity what it could bring. Uncertainity of things to come... it was a peculiar sensation indeed.
Still, the Bronze Flight would still police the timeways, as they always have, and hopefully- always would. Though some things would be different, now that the Hour of Twilight had come and gone. The course of events to come would have to be extrapolated. Decisions would have to be made with the possibility that they may be the wrong ones. Travel through time's gateways would be more manual than before. But they would adapt. The idea of change was not unknown to Nozdormu's brood, of course, but still... things had been set in stone for millenia. It would take a lot of getting used to.
A single grain of sand landed on the middle of Nozdormu's head. Its' presence tugged at the vestiges of the Aspect's mind. Somewhere, at this very moment, a series of events was unfolding which' course would threaten to unravel the current reality as Azeroth knew it. The Aspect rose up, wounds still in the midst of healing.
The sociable dragon in gnomish guise appeared before the great hourglass Nozdormu was recovering in, having known in advance she would be called here soon. Nozdormu's head rose, gold-glittering sands cascading down the sides of his great jaws.
"I sense a disturbance in the frozen norths. Something... Someone is there, that should not be there." The Aspect spoke. Chromie frowned. It was the first time she heard her broodfather speak while not seeming all-knowing. She knew it wouldn't be the last time.
"Someone is prying into a timeline that is not supposed to be, but I do not know whom, or where. The disturbance I sense is a direct result of things yet to come. Gather trustworthy allies; from the flight, or mortals aligned to our cause, and seek it out."
Chromie bowed at her Aspect. "I'll send out the word. Where is it we'll be heading, Father?" She asked, a hint of awkwardness in her voice. The first time hearing Nozdormu speak without absolute certainity, was followed by the first time having to ask for more information than initially given.
Chromie was relieved when Nozdormu did know the answer. "The Engine of the Makers. Gather at Wyrmrest and make your way there, it should be safe now that the servants of the old gods have withdrawn from Dragonblight."
Choluna's brow was furrowed. Granted, this dwarf had been of help getting supplies to the Molten Front, so a favor like this was something they could do in return... but his impatience and insistence was insufferable to the druid, especially in a place of reverence like this.
"Please, sir Thunderbeard, have some patience. Communing with the Aviana is not as simple as writing a letter." The tauren druidess looked back at the old dwarf behind her.
He paced back and forth in the other room, taking the opportunity to look into the shrine beyond where Choluna was communing every time he passed the doorway. "I dunnae ask fer much, lass. I've sent thousands o' gold into th' Molten Front when yer mountain was to be set aflame. Now that peace 'as returned, all I ask is ta talk to yer deity."
One of the guarding Druids of the Talon placed a hand on Chonar's shoulder, gently yet insistently pushing him away from the doorway. "Again, master dwarf, please keep a respectable distance from our shrine." The nightelf looked down at the dwarven thane.
Chonar grumbled, taking another step back, leaning on his cane and staring down the doorway into Aviana's shrine. To him, the room didn't look any more special than any other place within the great tree, and the cacophony of birdcalls was steadily driving him to the edge. An hour had passed since he had requested a meeting with the Talon Druids' demigoddess, and while they did favor his request, he found the speed at which druids got things done much too slow to his liking. That, and they didnt allow him to light his pipe while inside their tree.
Finally, a ray of brilliant light shone down in the center of the shrine, wherein a brilliantly whitefeathered woman- half bird, half humanoid, descended. She kept hovering in place, wings gently keeping her aloft. She cocked her head, looking past Choluna at the dwarf standing in the other room, before turning her gaze at Choluna. "Yes?" Was all she said.
Choluna kneeled in reverence, prostating herself before the winged deity. "Great Aviana, matron of al flying creatures, I'm sorry to disturb you from your travels... There is a dwarf here, one who has supported our cause in the Molten Front. He would like speak with you."
Aviana looked past the druidess towards the dwarf again, a mild look of disdain on her face. "Why would anything so... earthbound, wish to speak to me?" The disdain turned to curiosity as she pondered her own question. "Let him in."
Thats all the invitation Chonar needed, the old dwarf stepping past the guarding druids, into Aviana's shrine. The demigoddess cocked her head again, eyeing the dwarf as if he was little more than a rat morsel to feed to her hatchlings. Only when he bowed before her, that demeanor visably changed. "You have my attention, dwarf. What is it you seek from Aviana?"
The old dwarf began explaining. "Thank you, great Aviana. I stand before ye in pursuit o' knowledge, knowledge I'm not sure ye have. But if anyone on Azeroth knows, it would be you."
Aviana's curiosity was peaked. "What is it you want to learn?"
Aviana's eyes glimmered momentarily. "That... is the tongue my mate of aeons ago spoke. The language of the ravens... It hasn't been uttered by the sentient races of Azeroth in millenia. How do you know of it?"
Chonar paced back and forth as he kept his eyes on Aviana, speaking of what he knew. "On th' world of th' Orcs, Draenor, there are ravens. Ravens like those of Azeroth, physically similar in every way. How the same species gets to live on two different worlds, I dunnae know. The Arakkoa people, indigenous folk o' Draenor, speak this tongue amongst 'emselves, and to their ravens. While some o' em have learned Common since our many expeditions to Outland, none o' them can be convinced to teach it to me. 'Owever, I need to know this language, fer I feel like only th' Arakkoan people know o' a solution to th' haunting that plagues me."
Aviana cocked her head again. "Haunting?"
Chonar made a dismissive gesture. "Nothin' tae bother a demigoddess with, honestly. You 'ave better things tae do than trouble yerself with th' concerns o' an old man. Can you help me?"
Aviana hovered in place. "Describe the Arakkoa to me, dwarf."
The old dwarf grumbled. "Large. Vicious. Beaks o' ravens, actin' much like em. Many o' them turned to the shadow. Havent seen 'em fly, but they're definitely birds. Kinda smell f-"
Choluna coughed audibly into a fist.
Chonar didn't finish that sentence. Instead, he looked up at Aviana, who seemed lost in thought. "... Draenor is not my world, and I am not part of it. But some universal rules apply. If these people are birds, but if they cannot fly, then their wings are clipped; never to take to the skies again. There is no greater punishment for any avian, unless they're walkers... but going by your description, they're not. These people must have been punished for a terrible transgression. I'm not sure if I should help you, sir dwarf. If anything, I would advice you never to seek these people out again."
Chonar dropped to a knee. "Please, mistress o' the skies. If ye decide that fer me, you condemn me to a terrible fate. Allow me to help meself- anythin' I do on Draenor couldn't possibly endanger Azeroth." He pleaded.
Aviana pondered this for a moment. Eventually, she took hold of one of her feathers, plucking it out of her wing, and held it down.
"I take no responsibility for your demise, should you mingle with the Arakkoa and find your end by their hands, sir dwarf. Take my feather, and you will understand and speak Ravenspeech- if you concentrate."
Chonar took the feather and bowed deep, thanking the demigoddess. Aviana nodded. "But... good luck." She added, before vanishing in a burst of light and an echoeing screech.
As Chonar exited the great tree of the Druids of the Talon, Choluna headed after him and stopped him. "Sir Thunderbeard. Allow me to send out the word that you are heading to the Outland. The cenarion expedition has had far less encounters with the Arakkoa than we would've liked, and I think the Druids of the Talon could learn much."
The dwarf hrm'd, "Arent ye worried about Aviana's warnings, lass? Ye 'eard her, wingclipped folk may be far more dangerous than I initially thought."
Choluna nodded. "All the more reason for you to go there with a team, sir dwarf. I'll send out word to anyone loyal to our cause, and beyond. See who heeds the call."
Chonar nodded in turn. "Aye. I'll pay a mage to open a portal to Shattrath. Tell anyone interested to meet me in Ironforge in one week."
"Ironforge?" Choluna frowned.
"Aye, Ironforge. Whats wrong with.."
He looked at the tauren.
"Oh, right." He rubbed his chin through his full grey beard. "Very well, we'll meet up in Shattrath then. One week."
Chapter 1: Snow and Shadow
One week later.
Despite a fierce battle between Horde and Alliance forces raging to the east, Wyrmrest was experiencing a sense of peace for the first time in months. Though the warm embrace of peace was dampened by the mourning of loss, as many dragons had fallen these last months. Like any terrible beast, Deathwing had thrashed the hardest during his final hours. He and his Twilight Flight had taken countless of dragons' lives, and even more mortal ones. At least, despite the draconic, elemental and faceless attacks on Wyrmrest, the tower still stood. Torn, but largely intact... Repairs to the ancient Titan structure had already begun.
Chromie blinked her eyes as new information came to her conscience. Her younger self in the Caverns of Time had spoken to Nozdormu as he was recuperating, and had made the arrangements for an incursion into the Storm Peaks. She folded her hands together. "Wonderful, I'll be having guests any minute, then." The dragon in female gnomish guise smiled, padding out of the tower's inner chambers and looking across the horizon, a chill wind streaking across the Dragonblight. The Bronze Flight was informed through word of mouth, though the mortal races were contacted through other means. They would come across a message from the flight, and like most mortals, they'd assume they had stumbled upon the message by pure chance.
Of course, for the Bronze Flight, chance was always a wonderful illusion.
A whirling concentration of blue-tinted arcane energy concentrated in Shattrath city's main building, crackling energy rippling the fabric of space and time as one location was connected to the other. Once the connection between both worlds was made, the old Mountain King, Chonar Thunderbeard, stepped through it-- steadying himself the moment he was fully through. "Thanks, ol' boy. I'm here in one piece, which is always a bonus." He looked back through the portal, where the mage on the other side chuckled. "Any time, Chonar. I'll be sure this gold is spent in your pub." The mage held up the small satchel filled with gold coins, his payment for the portal, and grinned. Chonar laughed boisterously. "Yer too kind!"
The mage tipped his hat, and the portal closed with a low hum. The old dwarf looked around, hoisting his backpack onto a shoulder. "Haven't been here in years..." He thought. Looking around Shattrath, not much had changed, though things seemed a lot quieter then last time he was here. The mighty Naaru, A'dal, still hovered effortlessly in the center of the great dome, emitting a brilliant light that -literally and figurativly- kept the forces of darkness at bay. Khadgar seemed to be absent, as were most of the forces of the Shattered Sun, who had dispersed to guard the newly ignited Sunwell several years ago. Chonar walked through the silent dome, quietly reminiscing of years long past. Stepping outside of the dome, he looked towards the skies and faced south-east.
"I do wonder who Choluna contacted. They oughtta be arrivin' soon." He thought.