Beyond the Dark Portal | Chapter 31 of 36

Author: Aaron Rosenberg | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4101 Views | Add a Review

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Ner’zhul stood upon the roof of the Black Temple, in the center of the inscribed circle. Above him, obscured by the lowering clouds and flashes of green lightning, the great conjunction involving the Watcher, the Staff, and the Tome was reaching its peak. And as above, so below. Also below, beneath his feet, Ner’zhul could sense Draenor’s ley lines crossing over and around and through him, and as he closed his eyes he could feel the entire world trembling in his grasp. This was why the draenei had built their temple here, and why it was the only place where he could cast this spell. From here he could literally tap the entire planet for the power to cast his spell.

Arrayed around him, in the larger circle that surrounded the first, were several of Gorefiend’s death knights, the few warlocks who had survived Doomhammer’s wrath, and a handful of his own Shadowmoon orcs. The latter group stood in the third and largest circle, facing outward, weapons raised. They were there for protection, while the others aided Ner’zhul in tapping the planet’s power and performing the ritual.

They had already been casting for an entire day, since the moment the celestial alignment was right, and only the energy flowing through them kept the old shaman from collapsing from fatigue or hunger. As it was, his skin tingled and his hair danced about him as if carried high by an unseen wind.

They were nearing the end of the spell. The Alliance had crashed against the Black Temple’s thick walls hours before, and were in danger of breaching its defenses at any moment. But they would be too late, Ner’zhul thought triumphantly. He raised the Scepter of Sargeras in his right hand, and the Eye of Dalaran in his left. Both gleamed brightly, inner light shining from the head of the scepter and dancing from facet to facet within the Eye’s violet center. Those two artifacts focused the ley line energy, coalescing it into almost physical form, and then pulsed the strength into Ner’zhul’s limbs. Now his entire body was thrumming, and he knew that he was no longer standing on the stone roof but hovering just above it as the energy lifted him from the surface.

“Now!” he shouted, touching the tip of the scepter to the center of the Eye and feeling the rest of their stored energy flash through his limbs and into his heart and mind. He knew his eyes were glowing bright, brighter than the sun, and he could see the lines of magic etched upon the world and through the air, see the souls of those surrounding him, see the connection between them and this world, and between this world and the rest of the cosmos. He could feel the curtains surrounding Draenor, separating it from other realities.

And, with a single quick, slashing gesture of the scepter, he tore through those curtains, shredding them as easily as he might slice through thin parchment.

The world shook. The ground trembled. The sky rumbled. A terrible grinding sound echoed up from far below and met an earsplitting shriek descending from above the clouds. Draenor screamed and thrashed in pain. The other participants staggered as the Black Temple shifted, many of them falling to their knees. Ner’zhul, too, staggered but managed to stay upright, buoyed by the power coursing through him.

He could feel the magic reaching across reality, like a fishing line cast into the void. It leaped forward, Draenor’s own energies giving it vast momentum—and hooked onto something solid. Another world. The line grew taut, and with a twang that vibrated right through him a responding chord raced back down the line—and tore open a hole in their reality.

A rift. It was a rift. Ner’zhul recognized the feel of it, the raw power that frayed air and earth and nature, the throbbing link that bound this world to the next. Beneath the skull face paint, his lips split into a broad smile, and he closed his eyes, drinking in the heady feel of success. He had done it! He had opened a rift!

And not just one. He could sense other rifts appearing all across Draenor, like tiny bubbles emerging from the sea and bursting open when they touched the raw air, like lightning strikes from a storm that blanketed the entire planet. Each one burned in his mind like a new volcano.

He could send scouts through each rift, to report back on the worlds they found. Then he would choose the most likely and lead the Horde through to a better place. And, perhaps, to another after that. And after that as well, until his people had as many worlds as they wanted, as many as they could comfortably hold. Until each clan had its own world, if they liked. Then no one would be able to stop them.

Obris, one of the many who had been guarding the spellcasters all this time, said, “This is our new world?”

Indeed, what they could see through the undulating rift was not pleasant. It was not much, but enough to be disturbing: Something fluttered and loomed up, then was gone. A sickly light surged dully, then vanished. “This doesn’t look like anything we—”

“Silence!” Ner’zhul cried, whirling to face Obris. “We—”

And in that moment of inattention, within his grasp, the Eye trembled. Ner’zhul frowned and clutched it harder. It seemed to writhe like a fish and before he realized what had happened, it leaped from his hand, flew through the air—

—and came to rest in the hand of a tall, broad-shouldered man with white hair and violet robes. A staff in one hand shone with power, and his eyes blazed with far more hidden deep within. A human wizard—and he had literally snatched victory from Ner’zhul’s grasp.

Behind the mage stood a man in full armor, carrying a hammer that glowed with a blinding white light. Ner’zhul realized this man was not just a warrior, but akin to a shaman—except that the forces he tapped were somehow on a grander scale than a mere planet’s. The elven female who stood beside them had no such magical abilities, but her face showed righteous anger. She had an arrow nocked and aimed directly at him.

Ner’zhul trembled.

How dare they?

How dare they interrupt his moment of absolute glory! Ner’zhul realized he felt no fear, no worry—just absolute outrage.

“The Eye will not serve you when you are dust!” he cried, and let the outrage take him. It blazed through him, pure and hot and deadly. With a cry he lifted his hands. The tortured rock and stone obeyed in agony, cracking beneath the intruders’ feet. Barely in time, the Alliance intruders leaped aside, rolling to come up with weapons at the ready. But Ner’zhul was not done. Not yet. He was just getting started.

The rocks that had cracked now rose up and hurled themselves at the Alliance interlopers. Wind and rain whipped around them, snatching them up to hover helplessly in the air before slamming them mercilessly down on the unyielding stone. Ner’zhul took great pleasure in watching them suffer. It was with effort that he turned back to yell, “Through the rift! Now! Glory and fresh worlds await us!”

Obris gaped at him. “Kill the Alliance and let us gather our Horde! You cannot possibly mean that only we few will escape? What about our brothers, who fight even now? Grom and the Warsong are still in Azeroth. There are females and children scattered all over. We cannot abandon them! To do so would be the most gutless, cowardly—”

Something snapped in Ner’zhul. Something that had been holding him down, he suddenly realized. It was only now—now that he was free of guilt, of shame, of trying to still do good for his people—that he realized what a burden it had truly been. He had once accepted death as part of the cycle; then feared it; then realized he was the bringer of it, and all the heavy weight that that implied.

No more. He was free.

He didn’t even favor Obris with a retort. Ner’zhul extended his hand. Lightning balled in his palm and raced in a crackling arc toward the other orc, slamming into Obris’s chest with a thunderclap and hurtling him backward. He crashed into the wall and slid down, a smoking black hole in his chest. He did not rise.

Whirling, Ner’zhul turned to those around him, who stared at him in shock. “The other orcs are lost. They have served their purpose. From this point on, all that we gain will be ours alone. I am the Horde, and I will survive. Choose me, or choose death!”

When they did not move, he growled and lifted the scepter. Now they did move, as if suddenly freed, rushing toward the flickering rift. It hovered a few inches above the roof’s surface and rose to nearly ten feet. Ner’zhul went last, holding the rift open with his power and his will, then stepped into the rift himself.

He had just enough time to gasp before the rift vanished behind them.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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