Character: Moira Thaurissan, queen consort of the Dark Iron Clan, wife of Thane Dagran Thaurissan
The ram-driven cart drove quickly up the snowy slope leading up to Ironforge City. Moira, once a daughter of the local thane, hasn’t seen the city in years. In the interest of mending the fences between their clans, her father Magni gave her hand in marriage to the Thane of Dark Iron Clan, Dagran Thaurissan. Moira initially resented the idea of that marriage. Not only it was just another symptom of her father’s dubious love for her, there were always the stories people in Ironforge told about the Dark Iron Clan. That the great-mother of the clan, legendary Modgud, was some kind of cursed creature and her vile blood still remains in the veins of her descendants. That they secretely worship dark creatures and old, forbidden gods. But when Moira got to truly know her husband, she came to love him more than she ever loved her father. Magni, an overbearing man who always wanted to have a son and didn’t believe a woman could govern the clan, was a tyrant compared to Dagran Thaurissan, a warm and loving man who would jump into the pits of Firelands for her.
Despite that, there was a certain level of anticipation in her heart. Nostalgia is a strong drug, as Dagran always said to her, and may delude your senses and your memories. Suddenly a thing from your part may appear sweeter and better just because it was so long ago. Moira didn’t want to fall prey to it, but she couldn’t help herself. The snowed mountain, the giant, stone gate and the statue of an ancient king – the monuments that she came to identify with her childhood. Moira may have avoided contact with her father, but he wasn’t a bad man, not to her at least. She had a good life in Ironforge. Magni did all he could to make his daughter’s life better… except for the respect she deserved as his only child.
The only thing that kept breaking her out of the memories of the past in Ironforge was her servant Tarrick. Not even her servant per se, as she hasn’t seen him before this trip. After her usual personal servant, an aged Dark Iron priestess from Thaurissan City, came down ill with an easily treatable but heavily annoying flu, some random dwarf came out of nowhere and was assigned to help in her trip to Ironforge. And the man just wouldn’t shut up.
Finally, she was welcomed at a great party for all the thanes and their families. She looked for her father everywhere to no avail. Every time she mistook some other overdressed dwarf for him, she was assaulted by the doubts in her mind about what she was doing. What was she expecting from him? Would he have any reason to change at all during her years in Thaurissan? If anything, he would grow even more distant. For years, she kept very little contact with him and even though he arranged the marriage himself, he hated the idea of his daughter – his only daughter – marrying a Dark Iron. And if that wasn’t enough, she truly loved him. But despite her doubts, she continued looking, hoping that he would have seen some wisdom in his old age.
Finally, among the crowds she found Falstad, flanked by a young, red-shirted dwarf – the famous “Fact Checker” about whom she heard a story before. Somehow, he saved Falstad’s life with his historical knowledge and earned himself a lifelong gratitude of the Wildhammer thane. The details always eluded her. Moira was never one for history, a collection of strange tales about people long dead as she always said. But this time, Falstad and his servant did not have pleasant news.
“Yer father’s not here, because he’s dying,” Falstad bluntly explained to her. “Some… malady went down o’er him few weeks back. He’s been only growin’ weaker since. None of the Bronzebeard priests know what to do.” Her father might be gone very soon. Before even getting to reconcile his differences with his only daughter. Before being able to ever see his grandchildren. She might have resented her upbringing, but Dagran, Fenran and Edda deserved to see their grandfather, if only once.
And finally, she found her uncles. It wasn’t a pleasant meeting. Muradin and Brann at first were too busy arguing with each other to even notice Moira. It was the strangest argument she ever heard. Muradin kept saying he only wanted to help Magni, by procuring some artifacts from Ulduar and potions from a strange arakkoa who lived in Duskwood. And Brann, oddly enough, was refusing that help. He had a counter-argument for everything Muradin brought up. He even claimed one of the tablets from Ulduar could petrify Magni! Moira found Brann’s odd refusal suspicious and so did Muradin once Brann departed.
But it was far from the strangest thing that evening. When she returned to her room, she found Tarrick, sitting on her bed and playing with an odd hourglass. Although she insisted on him leaving and explaining his intrusion, he began explaining to her “secrets of the universe”. He spoke of the timeways, the domain of the bronze dragons, and how many different versions of the same people exist next to each other. About all the different ways her life could have went, including a widow of an evil emperor and worshiper of Ragnaros. She would have felt insulted, for herself and her husband, but something about his words hazed her mind. Before she knew, the dwarf Tarrick was dissipating and before her eyes stood an arakkoa wearing a tabard with a symbol of infinity on it, a tabard she has never seen before.
Timewalkers, he explained. Servants of bronze dragons and keepers of the timeways who make sure the Infinite Dragons, the fallen lords of time, do not corrupt the timelines and do not bring entropy that would devour all the lives on the Azeroth Moira knew. He himself was really called Tarakan, and came here from a different timeline in pursuit of a corrupted bronze dragon called Kairozdormu. The trace brought him straight to Ironforge City where he felt a strong influence of the Infinite Dragonflight. Her father was not meant to die yet, she was told, but the Infinite agent here, perhaps Kairozdormu himself, was making sure he dies. And if Magni did die, the entire timeline would collapse. Fate of the universe was hanging by a thread only she could save, and that thread was tied to her estranged father.
Next day, she visited her father’s seat in the Military Quarter. Officially, she was there to pay her father a visit. Unofficially, she was tasked by the Timewalker with a small portion of the Sands of Time. They emanated an energy that directly interacted with the Infinites and their agents. One pinch of this sand would reveal anyone who fell prey to their corruption. Tarakan explained that only someone in Magni’s inner circles could have affected this timeline so much, and it could only be someone he deeply trusted that could poison him. Someone who would refuse all treatment for him, she thought. Someone who would have the chance to get killed and replaced by an Infinite Agent. Someone who ventured in places not meant for a dwarf to know. Brann.
To her surprise, over her father’s bed was a whole crowd that day. King Thargas Anvilmar himself, and her two uncles, arguing with each other again. Muradin was trying to convince the king to import some of the Ulduar relics he learned about during the time he was missing in Northrend. But of course, Brann always knew better. He spoke of his technician who read from those tablets soon before the Cataclysm and was turned into a pile of diamonds, remaining in this state to this day. Thargas was a wise man – he always listened to the arguments of both sides but this time, Moira thought, he was in error to listen to Brann. Because who knew if that was really Brann speaking.
As she promised to “Tarrick”, she buried the tips of her fingers in the Sand before she welcomed anyone in the room. The king approached her first, bowing down like a proper gentleman and reaching for her hand to kiss. For a moment, she was worried. Could it have been the king himself? Could they have replaced Thargas Anvilmar? Who else would have the power to change the timeline so much? But her fears were quickly dispersed. He safely took her hand and kissed it and nothing happened. He was only concerned for her nervous appearance.
Then, Brann reached out to her. Just a hand reached out, like to a man. In part, she didn’t like that about him. It felt disrespectful and unthinking of him. But another part of her liked it. He didn’t think about her in any special way. He didn’t shun or honor her because she was a woman. Brann was always so different from her father… but is that still him? When she saw that gesture, still the same as always, doubt crept over her. Could she be suspicious about the wrong man? But clearly, she was about to solve this once and for all.
Suddenly Brann just shook her hand and looked at her with surprise. “What’s taking ye so long to shake yer uncle’s hand, lass?” he said, smiling. Nothing was happening. No shock, no burning, no explosions. She quickly looked at her hand and checked if the sand fell off but no, it was clearly still there. And then Muradin looked at her. He looked at her unlike he ever did. There was a note of malice she would never expect of him. And then, he simply turned around and made a run for the door.
“Pardon me please,” he said, grabbing the hinge, “but I have some important work to do in the city.” Moira look at Muradin with disbelief. Could it be…?
“Wait,” she said, smiling at him to hide her deception, “I have something to show you,” she said, reaching out to him. But he reacted only with apprehension and fear.
“I don’t have the time!” he yelled out, pressing himself to the door. “I can’t!”
Finally Thargas became suspicious. He eyed Muradin up and down, unable to underatand his odd behaviour. “Muradin, what has gotten into ye?” he asked.
“I’ll show you what,” Moira quickly responded and finally grabbed Muradin’s hand. A hissing sound erupted along with a yell from Muradin. Moira’s uncle was shaking his hand violently, trying to hide a black stain and smoke coming out of his palm. Then, he snarled in a way a dwarf shouldn’t be able to.
“Ye had to go and break it,” he responded with two voices, similar to his, but slightly different, echoing off each other. “Bloody bronzes, I told ’em they’d find out!”
“Ye told who!?” Thargas shouted. “Would someone explain this to me?”
Moira quickly intervened. “He was replaced by an Infinite Dragon. They’re corrupted versions of Bronze Dragons who watch over time itself. He tried to defy my father’s destiny by killing him before his time.” Brann and Thargas couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but the evil cackle coming out of Muradin seemed to only confirm Moira’s words.
“Ye daft fools,” Muradin said in his new voice, “I was replaced by no one! I became Infinite!”
“What?” Even Moira couldn’t believe this. “Why?” she cried out.
“It’s simple. I was always the middle brother. I was always the average one who dinnae amount to much. My older brother was the feckin’ thane, and my younger brother was a famous explorer. And me? I was NO ONE. I was that one guy who never did much but was famous anyway. How did ye think I felt about that? I felt anger… no, I felt fury at destiny, at time itself denying me a chance for greatness! And then he came, the Infinite Master, the Unfated One, and promised me greatness by defying destiny… And I did it. I turned into one of them!”
Soon, there was less and less of Muradin left in the creature standing before them. Eyes were the first to go. A black, wrong smoke erupted from them the moment he started his litany of anger. Then, his skin began to change, covering itself in scales and a monochromatic, disgusting energy. Then he grew, and scales and claws appeared all over his body. Although he still looked like some kind of corrupted dwarf, he was no longer uncle Muradin that Moira knew.
“Ye dare to say about what destiny denied you?” Moira shouted in the monster’s face. “My father never loved me. He wanted a son he never got. There was not a moment I spent in his presence that he wouldn’t remind me of the hopes he lost in me just because I was born with the wrong organs!” Muradin kept snarling at her. “How do ye think I felt?”
“Bloody great!” the monster that was Muradin responded. “Ye were a woman and yet ye would still inherit the bloody clan! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MINE.”
But then, the tense face off was interrupted by a weak voice from behind them. “Moira?” the voice said. Everyone turned towards the dying thane’s bed, only to see him getting up. Still just as sickly, but woken up from his comma – perhaps by the emotions erupting in the room, perhaps by all the magic flying around. “Moira? Is that how ye felt?” Magni said, looking at his daughter but barely seeing her. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… I never meant it to be that way… I… I always loved ye and was proud of what ye did and who ye grew up to be. I always knew I had the best daughter I could have had…”
“ENOUGH” Muradin yelled out again, before tears could drop. He cried out with a blood-curdling roar that stunned Thargas, Moira and Brann and looked towards Magni. The thane opened his eyes wider and wobbled on his bed, trying to make some sense of what was happening.
“Muradin…” Magni said, “what are you doing?”
Muradin just snarled again. “Succeeding you, brother.”
The dwarf-like Infinite monster lunged towards the dying thane, with a roar and grimace a mortal would never make. Magni just pressed his back to the wall and took a deep breath, ready for death until… suddenly Muradin stopped. The monster looked down upon his chest and saw a bronze arrow sticking out of it, shot from his back. Pain and confusion overwhelmed Infinite Muradin as he dropped his weapons and turned around, only to see among the three dwarves an arakkoa with a Timewalker tabard and a crossbow pointed at him.
“Timewalker scum…” Muradin blurted out, spitting black blood on the carpet. “Ye cannot interfere.”
“I could not,” Tarakan responded, “until you showed yourself to the natives of the timeline. Now I can do anything I want to protect it.”
But Muradin wouldn’t stop. He ran at Tarakan, his claws out-stretched to grasp the bird, but the arakkoa let out another bolt, piercing Muradin’s heart directly. This time, he could no longer stand. He just gasped for air one last time and collapsed in silence, slowly unraveling.
Three days later, Moira was leaving Ironforge to return home to her husband and their children. But she was leaving in a way different from what she expected. Her father, swelling with pride, gave her a warm goodbye on the threshold of the city. The Timewalker treated him from the Infinite disease Muradin infected him with and Magni made a quick recovery. Muradin was going to be buried in Old Ironforge with all the honors of a thane’s brother, his final deeds covered up for the sake of the clan. Brann was already planning another adventure in Outland, looking for whatever might remain of Titanic ruins in that blasted place. Surprisingly, because of Muradin’s treachery, Moira was happier than ever in her life.
But then, doubt appeared in her mind again. Tarakan warned her about the danger they still haven’t dealt with. Muradin’s Infinite Master, Kairozdormu, was still out and about, and he would still undoubtedly look for ways to undo this timeline. But where would he strike next? At her other uncle? At her husband?
…At her children?