Nadiya Sunblade sat alone in her quarters at the Magisters’ Terrace on the island of Quel’Danas, having returned from Suramar - probably for good, as Lord Erdanel had banished her and all “outlanders” from his household upon their return from Tel’anor. The Nightborne might be part of the Horde now, he had said, but he would not be. He and his sister, Telisa, would remain in Suramar, and watch over their home. “Go and die in a way best suited to you,” he had said coldly. “You outsiders have done enough to us.” And then he had shut the door in their faces, and that was that.
The past months had been a complete nightmare for Nadiya, and for her elder brother, Nor’taeron - and this was the icing on the cake. Over and over, they had been asking themselves the same question: How could this have happened? And, over and over, they could not find an answer. Erdanel was no help, either. He had made clear that he was not the same as his father, and this simply emphasized that.
To hell with him, then. There were other matters to deal with, and both she and Nor’taeron would help deal with them. She hoped.
Having Euphrati, whom she had been surprised to call a friend in this chaotic scene, close to hand would be a welcome bonus as well. The Forsaken monk was working with a new student, a young pandaren from the Wandering Isle; she had gone back to the Temple of Five Dawns for a time for their training.
She had put herself back to work, trying to return to home life after so long spent in the perpetual twilight of Suramar. Yet she couldn’t get it out of her mind. Death did not shock her much anymore; she had seen her fair share of it during the Third War. But this…
Some time earlier - prior to the incursion
Nadiya tapped his fingers against the hilt of the sword she wore at her hip as the cortege made its way up the mountain roads to Tel’anor. It was a nervous habit she had whenever anxiety came, and she had been feeling it ever since Lord Randarel’s death. She worried that she and Nor’taeron would finally get themselves killed… or that their friends here would as well. Randarel had lain in state on the harbor terrace of his estate, where Erdanel, the new lord of House Vendross, had given the eulogy. “Tragedy… we have seen much of it,” he said. “I have seen much of it. It’s led me to believe that our sorrow is our strength.”
They all wore formal robes for the ceremony. Erdanel and his sister, Telisa, wore traditional Suramarian garb; he carried his staff, and both carried torches. Nadiya wore the regalia of a Magister, while Nor’taeron had taken up the robed armor favored by paladins, matching the huge warhammer he had elected to wield, a relic crafted by his old mentor, Taeril’hane Ketiron. Euphrati Velade, the Forsaken monk who had worked with Telisa, went with pandaren style, as she often did, a white robe with pandaren script.
Behind them, on either side of the cart carrying the coffin, were two lines of six guards each - half blood elf, have Nightborne. Nor’taeron and his late comrade, Kirenna Summerlight, had done wonders with the new House Guard, even with the void elf-related hiccups. It showed the spirit of brotherhood between Silvermoon and Suramar would endure any tentacle-haired freak’s intervention. Hopefully.
The road to Tel’anor was rough, and the driver of the cart - which typically carried arcwine, not bodies - had no experience with rough roads, especially as the road got higher. He hit a particularly large bump which actually lifted the casket several inches from the cart’s surface. Nadiya’s ear picked up something… strange. Why was something rattling around inside?
“Hold,” she said. Erdanel and Telisa turned, frowning. She stepped up into the cart, hoping her suspicions were unfounded… and opened the casket.
“Nadiya?” Erdanel looked baffled. “What in the stars’ name do you --” He stopped cold as he saw what she saw. Inside the casket were Randarel’s formal burial robe, and the staff he had wielded when he died; it had been that which had rattled in the casket.
But no Randarel.
Nadiya felt a sickening feeling in her heart, and glanced over at her brother. Nor’taeron’s expression told her that he was thinking the same thing: This is not possible.
Erdanel stared at the empty casket for a long moment, horrified shock making him almost immobile… before his fists clenched in rage. “Who did this?” he whispered harshly. He looked at Euphrati, the lone attendee who didn’t have a pulse, before he screamed, “WHO DID THIS?!”
“Brother, please,” Telisa said, trying to take his arm.
Erdanel angrily shook her off, and pointed a shaking finger at Euphrati, at Nadiya, at Nor’taeron. “This is all your fault,” he raged. “You outlanders tolerate filthy undead in your society, and now one of your friends has taken my father to do gods-know-what to him! Probably bring him back as one of you” - and at that he had again turned his attention to Euphrati - “to finish the job Sylvanas started.”
“Now just a Light-damned minute!” Nadiya didn’t realize at first that the voice of outrage was her own. “Need I remind you, Erdanel, that the person who killed your father was one of your own people? Not to mention that the assassin who made it into the house was a night elf?”
“That’s Lord Erdanel to you, pup,” Erdanel snapped, “and if you damn outlanders didn’t constantly meddle in what you didn’t understand, the Legion would not have been here, the shield would have stayed up… Elisande would not have betrayed us, or had my mother executed, or my father banished… Valya would still be with us…” Valya Tiren had been Randarel’s guard captain for millennia, ultimately meeting her end first in exile - for choosing to fight against the night elves and worgen in Darkshore, in service to the Forsaken occupation - and then in death at the hands of the worgen warlock Eldred Valmy, whose dark magic had returned him from the death she had sent him to. “And Father would still be here.”
“We can’t always block out the outside world, m’lord,” Nor’taeron said grimly. “We tried that, and it came to us anyway.”
“Silence, incompetent! If I want the opinion of someone who let my father get killed, and then his body get stolen, then I will ask for it.” Erdanel’s expression was icy. “Let us return to Suramar. Then you can take your outsider things out of my house and go back to Silvermoon.”
The Sunblade siblings were outraged, but it was Euphrati, silent all throughout the ranting and accusations, who answered calmly, “As you wish, my lord.”
Nadiya’s heart felt sick as they turned around in hostile silence. As she glanced out the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a largely built figure standing on the hillside, wearing dark armor and concealing headgear… and what looked to be the tabard of the Ebon Blade. When she turned her head to take a proper look, she saw it was a pandaren. It took her a moment to remember, having spoken with the Zandalari priest in Randarel’s household… and then it clicked: Zhaoren Deathtide, the brother of the Lorewalker friend of Euphrati’s. The headgear he wore was that of the Shado-Pan, which he had been in life. His scythe seemed to be gone, however; now he carried a bone-bladed sword.
Zhaoren stared back at her for a long moment, then gave a brief nod. Nadiya looked over at Nor’taeron, to see if he had noticed, but his eyes were looking straight ahead. The Vendross siblings didn’t see either, nor did Euphrati. Their attention had been on what had just happened.
When she looked back up, Zhaoren was gone.