So I was on a magically grown boat, swimming away from the only way back to my reality, in the companionship of a botanus who insisted he owes me his life and must repay this debt. I understand why we had to be so quick about escaping it, but the last thing I wanted was being stuck on Draenor of the past. Of a different past, no less. The more I heard about what’s happening out there, the more I was sure this wasn’t the Draenor of my childhood. Somehow, this universe’s Shattered Hand is not a real clan, but a group of masochists and former ogre slaves. Let’s not even mention the Ogre Empire – which was long gone when I hatched, and yet here seems to still exist (albeit in a collapsing state). The fall of the Ogre Empire only happened with the rise of the Talon Kings, and Terokk. Could this mean that in this universe Terokk was never the religious and political figure he was in our reality?
Either way, our boat reached Shadowmoon Valley not long after that. Here’s another example of how nonsense this universe is: it’s not even a valley. Seriously, it’s a peninsula, with little in terms of mountains or valleys. Why would they even name it that if it was nothing like that geographical feature? And another nonsense was this podling. Aeresham led me to a Primal community on the northern shore of the “valley” which consisted mostly of podlings and was ruled by a creature named Phlox. I could swear I heard this name somewhere before, but I couldn’t quite pin-point it.
This Phlox… was a really creepy fellow. When he first saw me, he suddenly exclaimed he didn’t eat chicken for a long time. I was so close to just burning the insolent creature alive with Sunfire, but Aeresham intervened and talked to Phlox. Thankfully, I got categorized as “not food” and was allowed to stay for the time being, although not everyone was so lucky. I saw a family of draenei get lured by these podlings into a trap, with Phlox himself giving them riddles to solve. Finally, they went deep into a cave from which I only heard screams. An hour later, Phlox and a couple of smaller podlings left the cave covered in blood and carrying pieces of the father of that family. Those sounds and images are something I won’t forget easily and believe me, I’m not easily shocked – I lived for nearly 70 years in a world full of demonic invasions and nihilistic villains.
I knew that no matter how many assurances I got from Phlox, sooner or later, he’d turn against me and these podlings could overwhelm me with their numbers like some kind of creepy flower-murlocs. During the night, when they weren’t looking, I sneaked out of their community and just stood on a hill looking into my options. The landscape was very much unlike the Shadowmoon Valley I remembered, but I recognized Embaari Village in the distance. Thinking some draenei might be able to help me get back home, I made my way there. Aeresham followed me and although he was upset I left his “friend” like that, he was determined to repay his debt.
Of course, in Embaari everyone was shocked and surprised by my appearance. The arakkoa of this universe don’t seem to be quite the pleasant fellows. Samaara, a senior village council member, spoke to me about the Adherents – a faction of arakkoa which I knew as long extinct. These Adherents are apparently still winged, and claim to be heirs to the Apexis. As far as I knew, they lived in the times of Terokk and were toppled and nearly exterminated by him, but in this universe, they still live and persecute the “outcasts” – wingless creatures such as myself. Even those outcasts are not on the best terms with the draenei, because of their allegiance to shadowy beings such as Sethe or Anzu. It took much convincing to make Samaara believe I was not a threat to them.
However, soon after that the orcs struck back. The village was attacked by Stormreavers and Blackrocks. I don’t know if Blackhand was still on his overblown vendetta against me, or if it was just a random slave raid, but they were there and I knew they would try to use my knowledge of magic (and interdimensional rifts) to help me bring them to the Azeroth I now call home. I had to run and although Aeresham insisted to stay and fight to repay his debt, I pressed on. I think I saw Yrel, Samaara’s sister, get captured and carried away as a slave but I can’t be sure.
I made my way to the Temple of Karabor. Only through the papers Samaara gave me I was able to get allowed entry into the temple-city. I decided to seek the assistance of no other than Prophet Velen himself. I knew he was there, because you could hear his complaining all across the zone – I don’t know why or how, but he certainly greatly cared about the fate of his people. After long hours of standing in queues and getting evaluated by stern-looking draenei and a just-as-nasty-as-ours Vindicator Maraad, I was allowed to see Velen. Unfortunately, their Velen is just as useless as ours. He kept talking in cryptic riddles, muttering something about the Dark Star and “time sitting upon itself”… and in the end I finally pushed him only to learn he can’t help me. (No, draenei readers, calm down, I didn’t physically push him, just… said a word or two)
When I left the Prophet’s chambers disappointed, I was approached by a draenei exarch named Othaar. He was more willing to help and he said he’d be very interested in a way to push me back through to the place I came from. Since the rift was still working properly and linking our Azeroth to their Draenor, Othaar was convinced he could use that rift as an anchor for a portal. He allowed me to work with some of his best mages – and although they were quite clever and learned, I could swear I smelled fel magic about them. Those were draenei, I must have been obviously mistaken, and I wouldn’t bite the beak that feeds me either, so I cooperated.
In the evening, we finally opened a portal that according to all my magical readings was linking back to our timeline. Thanking Othaar, I departed, although I did not like that last smile he gave me. He must be up to something, but it’s not my business what that would be. Unfortunately, Aeresham came with me, still insisting his debt is yet to be repaid. I’m not sure if bringing a botanus with me to our timeline was very wise, but I couldn’t quite shake him off. We found ourselves in the exact same place we left the alternate reality from, meaning a terrace of the Black Temple. After a short exchange with Akama, who had his goons search my robe for stuff he believed I stole, we left and are now on our way to Shattrath, where we can take a portal back to civilization.