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Mallory's hands flew forward, and a shimmer surrounded the young man at the forefront of the assault team, protecting him from the oncoming blows from the large golems. A splash of foul red liquid sent several people running with burns on their skin. Mallory offered a prayer to E'lune for their wellbeing, and saw burns begin to subside right before her eyes. Other priests and druids stood at the ready, tending the wounded with their own efforts. 

 

At the far end of the room, the largest of the anima golems rumbled to life as the bizarre red energy filled its "bones." Instinctively, Mallory let her eyes flick to one side, where she knew Rann would be. The veteran mage's hands twisted in elaborate gestures, some added for personal flourish, sending volleys of ice at the machines. But as the largest golem, the dark animus, roared to life, Rann's eyes focused on it, not noticing the other golem almost directly behind her. Its arm raised high…

 

"Rann!" Mallory cried out, throwing a shielding spell towards her friend. It worked…after a fashion. The blow came down hard, knocking the high elf to the ground, but she recovered quickly and climbed back to her feet. With the shield's protection, Rann was spared a fatal blow to the head, though she still appeared winded.

 

A bloodcurdling scream from the forefront tore Mallory's eyes away from her friend. The young man's protection had failed and some of the other healers had been felled, struggling to return to their feet. An anima golem walked right on top of a night elf, mixing blood with the terrible red burning fluid.

 

Mallory struggled to stay calm, to trust in E'lune, in the power of the Light that she had studied so fervently. But as the burns and the blows turned the screams of that young man at the forefront to silence, Mallory found her focus failing.

 

She couldn't be sure what, maybe some sense of what was coming, but something drew her eyes back to Rann at that desperate moment…just in time to see another anima golem stab Rann with…something. The high elf clutched her chest as she fell to her knees. The others didn't exist now. Rann was all that mattered… In slow motion, Mallory mustered every prayer she knew, every spell of protection and benevolence…

 

…all too late. 

 

The emotionless machine, with its thoughtless and cruel efficiency, unleashed a punch that sent Rann flying into the wall behind her. A splatter of blood remained on the wall where the high elf's head had smashed into it.

 

Mallory's world crumbled. There was only silence now, even from the machines, as if they had somehow realized the pain and devastation they had just wrought.

 

Silence… 

 

Mallory's stomach churned with the horror of the realization. Silence meant there were no others left. As she realized this, the golems seemed to realize it at the same time. 

 

And they all.

 

Turned.

 

Toward her.

 

Mallory panicked, backing up against a wall as her impending fate settled in on her. She risked one last look at Rann's mangled body, the friend she had rescued one day from the clutches of a despicable man, the friend she had stood side by side with and bested Lei Shen, the Thunder King himself. And now she lay dead here, in the Thunder King's palace… 

 

And Mallory knew with grim certainty that she'd be joining her in seconds. On the bright side, she might meet E'lune today. As the golems marched closer, Mallory's chin quivered as she looked up at the largest of them.

 

Wait…

 

They had bested the Thunder King? But here they were fighting in his palace… Something told Mallory that even in this last few dark, meaningless seconds, she needed to understand this. When they had attacked Lei Shen, virtually nothing else was left alive in the palace. They needed it that way, or else he would have summoned aid. Yet she definitely remembered defeating him. She remembered her eyes meeting the Thunder King's for just one moment during the battle as so many others assailed him… and the thrill of victory. The kind of victory they'd never feel again. She remembered hearing of Wrathion's actions with the Thunder King's heart! She remembered seeing it cut out of him! 

 

So how could they be here, now, being slaughtered by these machines?

 

The dark animus raised its arm, its shadow looming over Mallory…

 

And a smile crossed her face. 

 

They couldn't. It was simply not possible. Which meant…

 

Mallory raised a single hand. It was all she needed. An explosion of light ripped from her, obliterating the golems into ash. At her desire, the room faded to nothingness, the bodies included.

 

The priestess smiled to herself. Lei Shen had been defeated, and Rann was perfectly alive, likely asleep in Stormwind at this moment. Mallory had realized this was a dream, and that she herself was asleep in her bed in Darnassus. But now, while the dream lasted, she had complete, godlike control.

 

"I've always wanted to meet E'lune," she told herself.

 

Immediately, she stood on the shores of a vast circular lake at twilight. The waters glowed with a pale light, and the droplets evaporating into the air sparkled as they rose due to the magic imbued in them. Crickets chirped and the sky was awash with color from burnt orange in the west to a deep velvety blue and black in the east. As the sun set, she noticed movement to her left. Perhaps a hundred feet away, a troll came near to the shore and dipped his finger into the luminous waters. Behind him, not far from the mouth of a cave, were a few crude tents set up by other trolls. Their skin was a darker shade of blue than Mallory was used to seeing… Some of them purple, some even green.

 

Dark trolls. She knew they would be there, of course. This was her dream, after all.

 

She lifted her eyes to the sky expectantly, and just as she expected, the light came down. But what she hadn't expected was how soft it was. She had expected the radiant rush of majesty and splendor that she so often associated with E'lune's kind…but found herself surprised, upon seeing the E'lune herself, that the crystals and light making up the naaru's body were a sparkling blue and purple. 

 

E'lune's song of love rang through Mallory's mind, transfixing her. Somehow, she knew the trolls off to the side were transfixed too. She was witnessing, in a dream, the very first moments of the night elf race. It would be many years, centuries, maybe millennia, before Queen Azshara would be born and rise to power, but here in this moment, those dark trolls were being transformed both inside and out, inspired by the naaru before them.

 

E'lune's crystals spun and fluttered about her, one of them at the top bearing clear likeness to the crown she had seen the night elf incarnation wearing in paintings. The gentle light intertwined with the deep navy sky, making it seem as if E'lune was everywhere. 

 

The troll who had dipped his hand into the waters now bowed on his knees before E'lune, and Mallory did likewise, bowing so low that she could feel the Well of Eternity's water nearly upon her.

 

And then something happened that Mallory did not expect.

 

When you fear, return your mind to this place. The Light does not abandon its champions, Mallory. I did not abandon you in the mogu tyrant's stronghold, nor shall I ever. Though you will soon find yourself in a new place with dangers and fears all around, I will remain your comfort and your peace in the midst of your trials.

 

E'lune's voice! Mallory could scarcely find words, but managed to stammer, "Then I will bring others your comfort and…"

 

Her eyes flicked open, the cool breeze of Darnassus rustling the canopy over her bed.

 

"…peace," she finished aloud.

Author Rann
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