A long time ago, in a distant and strange universe, a race of intelligent beings arose from their earth. These beings were remarkably human, both in appearance and in intelligence. Many among them argued who gave them life and intelligence, but a small group argued all life in their universe originated from the Nexus – a shining beacon of magical light that could do anything one could imagine. In time, that small group found that light and discovered their myths of the Nexus were true. This light transformed them and let them ascend to another level of existence. From there, they looked over their world and saw it as imperfect. They imposed their will on their world and became known as the Arbiters – the source of power and knowledge to all in the world that became known as the Nexus.
But their new found powers let them see past their world and see many, many worlds not only in their universe but others as well. Azeroth, Draenor, Tarsonis, Char, Earth, Tuul, Sanctuary… All they saw in those worlds was imperfection that they needed to correct, which they believed could only be done with their guidance. But they knew they could not take over these worlds with the few followers they had now. They needed commanders, generals, heroes of the coming storm. They opened rifts in time and space through which they pulled the great heroes of these worlds towards them and brainwashed them to fight in great games in which they honed their skills until they could truly become…
Heroes of the Storm
Illidan slowly walked in the shadows, watching people crossing by. Multiple remarkably human-looking beings raced past in suits of armor and flowing robes to fight each other at the command of their leaders. Normally, Illidan would be happy to let them fight out their petty, mortal differences – what he fought was a higher calling. He always sought to seek peace and balance in the world, no matter what his brother and Tyrande thought. So what that he wanted power? Is a little reward for the great hero of the War of the Ancients really too much? All he wanted was to remain himself in the changing world his brother brought on. And for that, he was called the Betrayer, and plunged into a dark cage for thousands of years. In truth it was him who was betrayed… but now his long punishment was over. A bright light appeared and a voice encouraged him to step through a rift that gave him freedom. Now he is here, and that voice’s owner is “tutoring” him in what his new home is.
“He is close,” a low-pitched and almost ethereal voice sounded nearby. Illidan looked out and saw his new friend – an incorporeal being wearing a suit of armor, from the back of which erupted tendrils of energy, shaping into ethereal wings. Tyrael, he said he was called. An angel, apparently. Illidan never believed such creatures existed, but this was a different world, a different universe. Perhaps here paragons of justice can exist and perhaps they watch over the innocent… and prevent brothers from betraying each other. “I can sense him,” the angel continued. “Are you ready?”
But Illidan remained quiet, silently waiting for his quarry from hiding. Who could be so dangerous that an angel of justice would wish him dead? And the he came – merely a human, in a large suit of armor made of an unknown metal, with a huge gun at his side, strange paintings covering his armor from head to toes. Tyrael spoke up. “The Notorious Outlaw,” he said, “Tychus Findlay. Justice has finally come for you.” Of course, Illidan thought, justice. They were sending him against a common criminal. But they pulled him from his cage. They deserved as much as serving their whims once.
Tychus yanked a chain at his gun and its barrels began to spin. But in the blink of an eye, a purple man rushed out of the bushes and ran towards him with an unthinkable speed. Damn, Tychus thought, they sure got some strange critters in ‘ere. But Tychus has already seen far stranger things in this Nexus, including dying a couple of times within twenty minutes and being repeatedly returned to life. The powers of the Arbiters were surely great, and Tychus was happy to give them his service for a price. The outlaw was not concerned by the new arrival, merely pointing his spinning gun towards him and waiting to spray him with lead. But just as the gun was about to fire, the stranger grabbed his gun with a strange sword and pulled it up, wasting the whole round of bullets, which fired into the sky.
What neither of them saw was an invisible cabin hanging in the sky above them. As the bullets bounced off its windows, the two Arbiters inside looked carefully on the battle.
“He looks promising,” Lord Reason noticed. “It seems the stories his brother told us about him were true.”
Lord Faith shook his head. “Technically, the Malfurion we had is not his brother. We pulled them from different timelines. Our Malfurion’s brother is still in his cage, to be pulled out by his Tyrande. And this Illidan’s cage now stands empty, and his warden is going crazy about his disappearance. We should take care of her too.”
“Technically,” Reason scoffed. “You always argue about semantics, brother. They are separate people, albeit very similar.” Faith just looked towards the battle. “What is it, brother? At a lack for words?”
Faith continued staring without moving. “No. I do not wish to continue this discussion. Without Order to… keep us in check, we need to find our own balance.”
Reason chuckled. “Strangely reasonable for you.” But Faith continued to not pick up the taunts and just watched on.
“Have you heard about this new iteration of Earth we found?” he asked after a moment of watching Illidan flip around frustrated Tychus.
“Yes,” Reason responded, “They had a technological apocalypse, I heard.”
“Not exactly,” Faith continued, “The humans there fought a race of robots of their own design. And a group of great heroes emerged to bring peace to their world. I believe the ones known as Tracer and Reaper look the most promising to our cause.”
Reason nodded. “I will take a look soon.”
Meanwhile, Illidan once again leaped over Tychus and landed behind him. With one proficient strike, he jabbed his glaive into a weakening of the terran’s armor and right into his back. The outlaw tumbled over with a scream, as his gun dropped onto the ground with a loud thud. An opponent unworthy of even taking a trophy from him, Illidan thought and looked on towards his tutor. Tyrael floated towards him and bowed in respect.
“You fought well, Illidan Stormrage,” Tyrael said, “Follow me, please.”
The two walked on towards the exit from this battlefield, as Tyrael continued to explain to Illidan his new role. “The Arbiters that rule this realm are pleased with your skill. They would like to see you continue to fight for them, against Tychus Findlay and other such people.”
“Against Tychus Findlay?” Illidan asked, surprised. “I thought I just killed him.”
“You did,” Tyrael responded, “but death is cheap here in the Nexus. He will come back to life very soon, and continue his life of crime. The Arbiters would like you to keep fighting for them.”
“What if I die?” Illidan continued to inquire.
“You will come back as well.”
“Then what is the point?” the demon hunter responded. “Both of us will keep coming back, with no end. This battle will continue in perpetuity.”
“But every time you die, you come back stronger with the experience of your previous encounters. Finally, you will be strong enough to fight for us… for the Arbiters and rid this world of evil such as him.”
“A noble cause,” Illidan paused. “I always strived for noble causes, but no one appreciated it.”
“The Arbiters will.” Tyrael nodded.
As the two approached the outside world, they saw another person from Azeroth – or at least a version of it – sitting outside. It was Tyrande. She was different – her skin was as pink as a blood elf’s, her facial marks were red, and her armor was red and golden. How can Tyrande be one of those elves? But he remembered what Tyrael told him of all the worlds out there that the Arbiters contacted. He understood it was another Tyrande, one that became a blood elf, somehow. But as he thought about it, he realized Malfurion would have never turned into one of them. Malfurion would have never left with the Highborne. This Tyrande… doesn’t have a Malfurion. She is free.
I have earned… another chance.
Soon, Tyrael appeared in the invisible lobby of the Arbiters. Lord Reason and Lord Faith continued to look at Illidan, now chatting it up with another version of Tyrande. The Arbiters nodded at his presence.
“Brother,” they responded to his presence. At this moment, the illusion dispersed. The sword in Tyrael’s hands turned into a regular sword. The armor disappeared. In his place, there now stood an Arbiter.
“My Lords,” the lesser Arbiter responded, “He is ready. He has more than enough incentive to stay here now.”
“Good,” Lord Reason nodded. “despite all of our mind control, a good reason to stay only strengthens the bond.”
Lord Faith continued. “And I believe he has reason enough.”