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Jesse Jarnow is a music journalist and the host of The Frow Show on WFMU, an independent radio station based in Jersey City. His work has appeared in The London Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is in the band Sloppy Heads.
The hour was close to twilight, and the vaguely warm hues of the afternoon were fading to colder blues and purples. Air peppered with swirling, stinging blades of snow whirled high above Coldarra. Other beings would shiver and shield their eyes, fluff their fur or feathers, or wrap themselves more tightly in their cloaks. The great blue dragon whose wings beat a slow rhythm paid no heed to such things as snow or cold. He had taken to the air in search of the crisp bite of the frigid, snow-speckled wind, hoping, perhaps futilely, that it would cleanse his thoughts and soothe his spirit.
Kalecgos, though young as dragons reckoned age, had already borne witness to tremendous change among his people. The blue dragons had endured so very much, it seemed to him. They had twice lost their beloved Aspect, Malygos—once to insanity for millennia, and then finally to death. Ironically, and poignantly, the blues—the intellectuals and the guardians of arcane magic in the world of Azeroth—were the flight most drawn to order and calmness, and the least able to deal with such chaos.
Yet even in the midst of this upheaval, their hearts had stayed true. The spirit of the blue dragonflight had chosen not the hard-line path represented by Malygos’s deceased blood heir, Arygos, but the gentler, more joyful way offered to them by Kalecgos. And that choice had proved to be the right one. Arygos had in actuality been betraying the flight, not striving to be a devoted caretaker. He had promised to deliver his people to the evil—and quite insane—dragon Deathwing, once they had sworn to follow Arygos. Instead, the blues had joined with the reds, greens, and bronzes—and one unique orc—to help bring down that great monster.
But as Kalecgos flew across the darkening sky, the snow below turning lavender, he knew that with that victory, the flights, in a way, had also sacrificed themselves. The Aspects were no more, though the dragons who had once been Aspects lived on. The defeat of Deathwing had demanded all they could give, and at the end of that battle, though Alexstrasza, Nozdormu, Ysera, and Kalecgos still survived, their Aspect abilities were gone—poured into the final moment of the struggle. The Aspects had been made for this single act. With it accomplished, they had fulfilled their destinies.
There was a less direct effect as well. The flights had always had a surety about their roles, a firm understanding of their purpose. But now that the moment for which they had been created had come—and gone—what purpose was left to them? Many blues had already departed. Some had sought his blessing before leaving the Nexus—Kalecgos continued to be their leader, although the powers of an Aspect were no longer his. They had told him that they were restless and wished to see if there was some other place in the world where their skills and abilities would be appreciated. The rest had simply gone—present one day, vanished the next. Those who remained were either becoming increasingly agitated or surrendering to a bleak sense of malaise.
Kalecgos dove and wheeled, letting the cold air caress his scales, then opening his wings and catching an updraft, his thoughts once again brooding and unhappy.
For so long, even during Malygos’s insanity, the blues had had direction. The question of what to do now had been thought and sometimes whispered. Kalecgos could not help but wonder if he had somehow failed his flight. Had they really been better under the leadership of an insane Aspect? The immediate answer was of course not, and yet… and yet.
He closed his eyes, not against the needle-sharp snow, but in pain. Their hearts trusted me to lead them. I believe I did lead them well then, but… now? Where do blue dragons—any dragons—fit in a world where the Hour of Twilight has been prevented but only an endless night looms before us?
He felt utterly alone. He had always deemed himself perhaps the oddest choice possible to lead the blue dragonflight, as he had never really felt like a “typical” blue dragon. As he flew, despondent and increasingly concerned, he realized that there was at least one who understood him better than most. He leaned to the right, angling his great form slightly, and flapped his wings, heading back toward the Nexus.
He knew where he would find her.
• • •
Kirygosa, daughter of Malygos, clutch sister to Arygos, sat in her human form on one of the magical, luminous floating platforms that encircled the Nexus. She wore only a long, loose dress, and her blue-black hair was not braided. Her back was against one of the shining, silver-white trees that dotted a few of the platforms. Above her, blue dragons wheeled as they had for centuries, ceaselessly patrolling, although there seemed to be no threat here, not anymore. Kirygosa appeared to pay them no heed, her gaze soft and unfocused. She appeared lost in thought, though what occupied her mind, Kalecgos did not know.
She did turn to look at him as he drew closer, smiling a little as she realized he was not one of the guardians of the flight’s home. He landed on the platform and assumed his half-elven shape. Kiry’s smile widened and she held out a hand to him. He kissed it affectionately and plopped down beside her, extending his long legs and folding his arms behind his head in an effort at nonchalance.
“Kalec,” she said warmly. “Come to my pondering place?”
“Is that what this is?”
“For me, yes. The Nexus is my home, so I don’t like to go too far, but it can be challenging to be alone inside.” She turned to face him. “So I come here, and I ponder. Just as you seem to want to do.”
Kalec sighed, realizing that his effort at casualness was lost on this perceptive friend he often thought of as a sister. “I was flying,” he said.
“You cannot fly away from your duties, or your thoughts,” Kirygosa replied gently, reaching to squeeze his arm. “You are our leader, Kalec. And you have guided us well. Arygos would have destroyed the flight and the whole world with it.”
Kalec frowned, remembering the dire vision that Ysera, the former green Dragon Aspect, had shared with them all not so long ago. It was the Hour of Twilight—and showed an Azeroth in which all life was wiped out. From the grass and the insects to orcs, elves, humans, creatures of air and sea and land, to the mighty Aspects themselves, who had each been slain by his or her own unique powers. Deathwing had died then, too, along with the rest of Azeroth—impaled like a grotesque trophy on the spire of Wyrmrest Temple itself. Kalecgos shuddered, disturbed even now by the memory of Ysera’s lilting but broken voice relaying the vision.
“He would have done that,” Kalec said, agreeing with part of her statement but not all of it.
Her blue eyes searched his. “Dear Kalec,” she said, “you have always been… different.”
Humor flickered in him despite his dark mood, and he made a silly face, twisting his handsome half-elven features. Kirygosa laughed. “You see?”
“Different is not always a good thing,” he said.
“It is who you are, and it is because you were different that the flight chose you.”
The humor melted away and he regarded her somberly. “But, my dear Kirygosa,” he said sadly, “do you think the flight would choose me again, now?”
Truth had ever been one of Kirygosa’s most cherished ideals. She looked at him, searching for an answer that was both true and comforting, and not finding it. Kalec’s heart sank. If this beloved friend, his sweet sister of the spirit, had no encouragement to offer, then his fears were more real than he had suspected.
“What I do think is—”
He would never know what she thought, for they were interrupted by a sudden terrible sound—the cries of blue dragons in despair and anguish. More than a dozen dragons were emerging from the Nexus, flying and diving about erratically. One of them abruptly swerved from his fellows, heading straight for Kalecgos. Kalec leaped to his feet, blood draining from his face. Kiry stood beside him, hand to her mouth.
“Lord Kalecgos!” Narygos cried. “We are ruined! All is lost!”
“What has happened? Slow down, speak calmly, my friend!” said Kalec, although his own heart lurched within his chest at the sheer panic and terror emanating from Narygos. The other dragon was usually calm and had been one of the more open-minded blues during the tense time when Kalec and Arygos were vying for the role of Aspect. To see him so distraught alarmed Kalecgos.
“The Focusing Iris! It is gone!”
“Gone? What do you mean?”
“It has been stolen!”
Kalec stared at him, sick with horror, his mind reeling. Not only was the Focusing Iris an item of immense arcane power, but it was also deeply precious to the blues. It had belonged to them for as long as anyone could remember. Like many such items, it was neither good nor evil in itself but could be turned to both benevolent and sinister purposes. And it had been used so. In the past, it had diverted the arcane energy of Azeroth and to animate a hideous creature that should never have drawn breath.
To think it was now lost to them, lost and being controlled by those who might use its power—
“This is exactly why we moved it,” Kalecgos murmured. Not two days ago, in an effort to avoid this very circumstance, Kalecgos, along with several others, had recommended moving the Focusing Iris out of the Eye of Eternity and into a secret hiding place. He recalled his argument to the blues: “Many of our secrets are already known, and more of our flight leaves each day. There will be those who will be embo... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.