To be a migrant is to know your people’s twilight; to understand what it is to face oblivion. There were once only those of us who saw through the temptations of power, of the Dark Titan. For our crimes, our rejection, we were chased across the void, hunted, pursued, slaughtered. But in the darkness of that void, across the numerous planets on which we sought refuge, we began a new life, and those who were born knew only the stories passed down about our flight from Paradise.
Kersiraa raised her head as the gentle hoof beats drew near.
“I doubt he’ll last much longer.”
She nodded in response. The priest was young, younger than her even, but, as with so many who had paid witness to the darkness her eyes betrayed a soul that was much older. The young priest kneeled and placed her hands over Kersi’s.
“You can see him if you wish.”
“I would like that.”
The priest smiled, and rose. She bowed her head and stretched her arm down the hallway. Kersi stood slowly, and folded her arms across her stomach as she quietly glided down the hall.
Dreanor was to be a new Paradise; a world in which we could prosper and rebuild our shattered society. In a sense it was like every other world that we had come upon, a new beginning. But we were prey, and always there were the man’ari. We were cunning, a difficult prey who excelled in avoidance. When the man’ari came they found only whispers of the Draenei. But, the predator learns from each failure…
His chest rose with each ragged gasp, his lungs growling with the consistency of gravel. It was all so familiar, and for years now, since the fel energies left behind by the Orcs and their man’ari masters had left their taint, his voice had carried the same tone.
She took his tick hands in her own and he opened his eyes.
She smiled. “Papa.”
“I can tell by the look on your face that it is time.”
“We still have a bit.”
“Do you remember what I have told you?”
“Kil’jaeden is no fool. He studied each encounter and learned, and when he again found us he set his plan into motion.”
Kersi stared past her father into the darkness of Zangarmarsh. They sat alone, tending the fire, and listening to the noises of this untainted swamp.
“The Orcs were perfect, I suppose,” he continued. “They were naïve to such things, and such a young race. They were superstitious in ways that could be easily manipulated, and certain individuals craved power.”
“They were weak,” Kersi said spitefully.
“No moreso than us. Ner’zhul and Gul’dan were as foolish as Kil’jaeden and Archimonde. They sold our people into bondage as the Orcs did to their own.”
Kersi nodded, and lifted her chin. She poked the fire with a stick, watching the flames flicker in the darkness of night.
“And this is where we are,” she said, finally.
“Not yet? We are few. The world has been sundered. The Orcs may be mostly gone, but the Legion…”
“… Has returned.” He nodded. “This is a fight I understand.”
The old Draenei heaved himself to his feet, leaning on his rifle. In the years that followed she would come to understand his slow, debilitating illness -- the weakness, his distance from The Light and the Naaru, the changes in behavior and physical features. Contact with the raging fel energies of this dead world, varying in magnitude between individuals, always had the same effect. Among the other surviving Draenei whispers of these Broken souls had spread like a wildfire.
Her father cocked the rifle.
“Sometimes the prey can become the predator.”
His fever had deepened by late afternoon, and his breathing became more labored as he slid into the mangled dreams that his dying mind allowed. He called out names now, old friends and family, some long dead and some still raw and recent. Kersi tried to sleep, too, sitting beside his bed, but she managed only to doze, crossing the murky boundary between sleep and being fully awake without notice or care.
In the end, there was no final rally. Not this time. There was no, as so many stories she heard in her youth, absolute moment of clarity or fight for a last ragged breath. Instead, his breath weakened moment by moment until, finally, his great chest heaved once more, and was then still. His lungs soldiered on, each inhalation barely above a whisper, but soon the steady rhythm eased. And, then the end, a final inhalation, and silence. A moment later his last breathe escaped from between his lips, and it was over.
Kersi gave his limp hand a final, gentle squeeze, and then brushed her cheeks with the palms of her hands, wiping away the few tears that had begun to fall.
I came to this world to begin anew. One last time. Argus is where my heart is, but so many have died and so few remain that I realize that ever returning home is a fool’s dream. In the end, beyond the slaughter and flight, we follow Velen, and this most recent plan is a final hope, a final grasp for survival for our people. A new world is open to us, and it is one who has defeated the Legion.
“I remember everything.”
This new world is for you, Kersi.
Defend your new home.
Destroy those who would upset what we can build, and punish those who have betrayed us.
She paused and then rose. Over the old Draenei’s bed she pulled down his rifle. Hefting its weight in her hands she raised the weapon and sited along the wall through the scope.