Zin-kalim, the capital of the Kaldorei Empire, over 12,000 years ago. Inside the higher levels of the glorious, marble palace a little girl paced around nervously. When she noticed a bird sitting on the window-sill, she runs up to it and scared it off. Near her, two royal guards stood guard before a large, glided door. Standing almost motionlessly, they only kept looking at the little girl. They were visibly unnerved by her constant pacing, and yet remained motionless, as was their duty. In their minds, they were just counting time for their shift to be finished. Suddenly, the little girl noticed something – a tall, handsome night elf male was slowly approaching. The guards remained motionless, but watched the new arrival carefully.
Then, the doors behind them opened. A male midwife with a bloodied apron came out, cleaning his hands on a piece of cloth. The girl momentarily stopped walking around and looked at the man. The midwife smiled.
“Congratulations, princess Aszune, you have a sister. Your mother wishes to call her Azshara.” The newly arrived male approached them all and without speaking a word, he kept just looking between them. The midwife looked at him, not recognizing the person. “Who would you be?” the midwife said, “The herald to bring the news to the people?”
The guest smirked and spoke up with an eerily echoing voice. “In a way. I am a herald… of your doom.”
Shadowy magic erupted from the guest’s hands, killing the midwife on the spot. The guards immediately moved from their spots and stood between the assassin and the princess.
“Fools,” the assassin said, grabbing one of the guards with a shadowy tendril, “You cannot do anything to stop me. Your history will be undone.” The guard was thrown against the wall with a loud scream, while the other moved in against the enemy, piercing right through his chest with his polearm. But… it appeared to have little effect. The intruder just laughed and began casting another stream of shadowy energy. The guard pulled back and thought what to do for a moment, when he saw a flash of bronze outside the window. Suddenly, a diminutive creature he never saw before stood in the corridor.
“Finally,” the creature said with a high-pitched female voice, “We found you. You will not succeed.”
“Chronormu,” the intruder said in an increasingly unhinged voice. “Get out of my way. Regardless of what was once between us, I will not hesitate to kill you.”
“No,” Chromie responded, “Because you will not be able to do anything.” The disguised bronze dragon pulled out a strange hourglass that she then twisted around. A magical wall appeared between the two dragons, shielding everyone behind it – Aszune, the guard, and a newborn Azshara somewhere behind the door.
The intruder just roared and struck the wall with a shadowy attack, only to hurt himself in the process. He stepped back and looked at Chromie, snarling.
“This… isn’t finished.” And then, he disappeared in a swirl of dark energy.
Chromie looked at everyone behind her. The girl was visibly shaken, but physically unharmed. The guard was definitely shocked. Chromie looked at him, searching for wounds. “Are you alright, Lord Naj’entus?” she asked.
“Lord?” The guard responded, even more perplexed.
“Whoops,” the gnome said, chuckling, “Spoilers.” But inside, she wasn’t laughing. She knew she was on the right track, but she also just saved the life of one of the greatest villains on Azeroth. Such is the duty of a bronze dragon.
Southern Kun-Lai region, 10,000 years ago. Chromie appeared on top of the Gate of Eternal Blossoms, looking down upon the region. One day, it will be called the Yaungol Advance, but it is not that time yet. Far from the Caverns of Time and isolated from the rest of the world for millennia, Pandaria was an enigma even for bronze dragons. But Chronormu knew about some events that happened here in this period – such as the three royal guards from the Golden Lotus, accompanying a pandaren princess and a turtle. It was no other but future Empress Yaochi, and her faithful companion, Yu Gwai, a jade mogu warlord cursed into the form of an ancient sea turtle. They were just returning from their first adventure together, soon after slaying the evil warlord Kun Yomi. But dark clouds were gathering above the region, both metaphorically and literally. A strange, shadowy form came out of the gate, walking towards the procession. Chromie knew what this meant.
The strange man approached the group, but Yi-Bo Shen, the Grand Master of the Golden Lotus, stood in his way. The pandaren scowled at him, recognizing neither the form nor the face the strange man was wearing.
“Identify yourself,” Yi-Bo spoke up.
The stranger growled in response. “I have no time for this. I have been thwarted one too many times. You. Will. Die!” Shadowy energy erupted from his hands and eyes, enveloping the members of the Golden Lotus. Two of them ran away and waved helplessly in the air, trying to protect themselves – but not Yi-Bo Shen. The Grand Master remained steadfast and held off the energy with his palms. The stranger kept roaring and growling in defiance and shaped the energy into a pitch-black whip. He struck at the pandaren, but he just dodged out of the way. Every hit, the seemingly fat bear creature avoided and gracefully landed far from danger. The turtle Yu Gwai charged in to attack, but was blown back by the energies emitting from the intruder. And then, a wave of sand descended on the intruder, interrupting his spells. Yi-Bo quickly grabbed his swords and struck at the enemy from both sides. He stumbled back with a loud cry, as he saw the source of the sand – a bronze dragon above him.
The intruder finally lost his form and became what he truly was – an Infinite dragon of immense size and evil. Kairozdormu. The bronze dragon landed and transformed back into her preferred gnomish form.
“Surrender!” Chronormu yelled out. “You have nowhere to go. We found your trail and we are right behind you. Any timeline, any era you go, we will be there. Your mission is finished.”
Kairozdormu laughed out with a guttural, echoing laugh that made the young princess flinch. “My mission? You know nothing about my mission.”
“That’s a very good point,” Chromie responded. “So what would your mission be? What did Murozond want you to do? Because clearly, you weren’t just doing random mayhem. There was a certain… regularity to your attacks. A regularity that let us track you, by the way.”
Kairoz just kept laughing despite his slowly mending wounds. “Murozond? You think I serve Murozond? That fool couldn’t see past the tip of his own nose. He squandered the powers of Infinity at our fingertips. He would undo everything just to continue his own pitiful existence. I serve a far greater goal. A goal you cannot possibly understand.”
Chromie smirked. “Try me.”
“This goal is beyond this universe. Beyond this timeline. Beyond any timeline even you could know.” As his wounds closed, he took to the air. “You cannot stop me, no matter how close you think you are. Not you, not your Timewalker friends, nor any single creature of this paltry world. You are finished.” And then, he disappeared in the same dark swirl that brought him here.
Chromie quickly pulled out her Vision of Time and set it to speak to her allies. “Moros,” she said, “follow him. I have an idea.” She turned to the pandaren princess and her guardian. “What do you guys say for another adventure?”
Northshire Abbey, present day. And yet, it is not the Northshire Abbey we know. Outside, on a bench, sits a young troll-like woman with a small baby in her arms. It’s Hyara the Half-Troll from Azeroth-2 and her and Anduin’s newborn son, An’jin. Abbot Turalyon, who visibly lost some weight, approached her with a plate of food. The woman gladly takes the food and thanks the priest who took her in when her life was shattered. She hid for months in swamps and caves, until strange black dragons appeared to her and tried to kill her before she can give birth. Only then she realized she needed help and went to one of the few people she could call her friends – Abbot Turalyon.
But it wasn’t the end of her troubles. As the two talked about the child, a flash of bronze appeared out of the corner of their eyes. The half-troll quickly stood up and looked around cautiously, expecting an attack. But instead, a gnome in bronze clothes approached them.
“I think I know her,” Turalyon said, looking at the gnome.
“You don’t, yet,” Chromie responded, “I think. Hyara. I’d hate to tear you away from your child now, but I have a matter of utmost importance to you. A way to pay back against those who wished to harm you and your child.”
In a dark room, a fel orc crouched in the corner. He forgot how long he was kept in this darkness. As he was a demon now, he would no longer die out of exhaustion or hunger, but he could still feel them. Felguard Garrosh Hellscream knew that what he did deserved the highest possible punishment the Burning Legion knows, but before he did it, he did not expect how it felt. He would count the days he spent there by marking them on the walls, but he could only write with his blood, and in the darkness, he would never see the markings. He lost all hope and only begged the ancestors he has long forgotten about that someone finally kills him.
But then, he saw a faint light. Was it hope? Or maybe death finally came and the light shows him one final hope of redemption. But it wasn’t that metaphysical – the light expanded and he soon realized the doors were opening. Blinded by this sudden change, he couldn’t make out anything outside but a shape of some small creature. Moments later, he saw more creatures, lying down on the floor, perhaps dead. The small creatures approached him and spoke up in a gnomish voice. “It is not the end, yet. I have a mission for you, Garrosh.”
Galen Trollbane, Chieftain of the Arathi barbarians, sat in a great feast with some of his high ranking commanders, and his orcish guests. Not long ago, no one would have expected humans and orcs to feast together. And yet, yesterday they even fought side by side and defeated Warchief Rend Blackhand. Terenas didn’t like the idea of a stronger orcish Horde, no matter if they proclaimed themselves the allies of humans. Orcs will always be orcs, he thought, and they will stab you in the back one day. But Galen did not care – he wished to see the end of these hostilities. He just wanted to live and use his life. He did not, however, know that his life was not meant to be long – in this or any other timeline. As he finished his wine cup, he felt a strange dryness in his throat.
He moved away from the noise of the feast, as his throat kept drying up and his head started to pound. Terenas looked out, searching for him, and when he saw Galen in the corner, he smiled with malicious satisfaction. Soon, the chieftain began to choke. Poison! No man of honor would escape to these means but Terenas – this Terenas – was no man of honor. Galen began collapsing onto the floor… when suddenly, he felt better. It was as if the poison simply disappeared from his body. He looked up and saw a female gnome standing nearby.
“Did you do it? Did you cure the poison of that coward?” the chieftain said, glad to see relief.
“I’m afraid I did not cure or stop it. I merely… paused it. But I want to give you a chance to do something.”
“What is it?” he responded, slowly rising.
“Dying with honor.”
Kairoz re-appeared in a dark corner of one of the desolate versions of Azeroth. One of the countless Azeroths decimated by the Burning Legion, but one not prominent enough to be counted among of the numbered ones. A sign of the bronze dragonflight’s vanity, Kairoz thought, a sign that they weren’t as impartial as they claimed to be. Some worlds they would protect with great zeal, fighting Kairoz whenever they would see him attempt to fulfill his mission there. On some worlds, they would see the futility of their actions from the very start and simply let them rot in the darkness. At best, they would tear a single human mage apprentice out of his timeline and try to give him a new life on the Prime Azeroth… which only showed Kairoz his former brethren’s hypocrisy. If he did anything to help a single person in a timeline, he’d be branded insane. But they? They can do it? No, Kairoz thought, he would show them all what their powers are meant for.
Kairoz approached a corner of the ruins of what was once Eldre’thalas in this timeline. Once at a set of glowing runes on the wall, he concentrated and began casting a spell. It was taking him longer than normally, as for the last couple of attempts, the bronze dragons and the Timewalkers were pursuing him relentlessly. Last time, that damned arakkoa hunter shot his wing mid-flight and forced him to crash-land on top of Mount Ironforge occupied by the very angry high arakkoa. But he pulled through, as he always did. After all, he was now infinite – no matter how much you subtract from infinity, it remains an infinity.
After a few tries, the runes finally activated and a glowing orb of swirling energy appeared, striking the ground and ruins with bolts of purple lightning. Kairoz looked into it, seeing in it what no one else would.
“They are behind me,” he reported back, “at every step. I don’t think I can manage to find anyone else. At least no one powerful and important. No one powerful enough for… your purposes.” He looked deeper into the swirling mass, awaiting a response. Finally, an inhumanly low voice responded slowly.
“And you were doing so well,” the voice remarked, “Find us one more, or you will suffer consequences.”
“Consequences?” Kairoz yelled at his mysterious benefactor. “I am Infinite! You have no power over…” Before he could finish, great pain overcame him and forced him to kneel with a loud roar.
“You were bound to our realm. Now, you are as limited by it as any of those… heroes you brought to us. Infinite…” the voice chuckled. “What you are, is deluded.”
“And who would that be?” A high-pitched voice suddenly sounded in the ruins. Kairoz quickly rose up and turned towards the voice. To his surprise, Chromie came back after him. And she wasn’t alone. “I brought friends,” Chromie said, showing all the people behind her. Watcher Tarakan Krasha. Morozdormu. Naj’entus. Hyara the Half-Troll. Bonelord Maraad. Chieftain Galen Trollbane. Emperor Adamant Lothar. Felguard Garrosh Hellscream. Kael’thas Sunstrider, Slayer of Hakkar. Court Sorcerer Kel’thuzad. Queen Consort Moira Thaurissan. Dezco Dawnchaser. Emperor Khadgar of the Dalarani Empire. Warchief Varok Saurfang. Princess Yaochi and Yu Gwai. All the people from across the timelines he tried to harm or kidnap. Some would say, all of his evil turning back against him – justice finally coming to him. But he… laughed.
“Thank you, Chronormu,” Kairoz responded. “Thank you for bringing all these… heroes to me. You made my job so much easier.”
Chromie shook her head. “Stop thinking you can still gloat. You are at the end of your road.”
“Far from it,” the infinite dragon responded. “Since you are all already here, I will finally explain what is going on.”
“I’m all ears,” Chromie responded, still not believing Kairoz can turn this around.
“You know very well I do not serve Murozond. And I think it’s time you saw my true masters.” The swirling energy behind him began to pulse and the lightning began striking harder and harder. Finally, something was emerging.
Multiple pale, white, faceless creatures wearing togas emerged from the nexus of energy and stood behind Kairoz. The creatures responded as one, their voice reverberating inside everyone’s heads.
“We are the Arbiters, lords of the Nexus. You are all going to serve us, one way or another.”
To be continued