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Epiphany

Updated: Dec 29, 2021


“Very well, Heroes of Azeroth. Your prowess has proven to have bested me this time and your words ring with clarity. Be honored that the Banshee Queen concedes this battle to you, warriors,” speaks a humbled and exhausted Sylvanas Windrunner. Cristina Desouza and her compatriots had done it! They had defeated Sylvanas and now, Cristina will finally grasp what she had sought for many years – a chance to address Sylvanas and atone for her embarrassing first commendation. Cristina approaches Windrunner sure and confident in her stride.


“Ranger General Windrunner, it was an honor to mete you in combat. I have long sought you to share my success since being commended as a Farstrider captain. I am Lady Cristina Desouza, Protector of the Weald,” Cristina proclaimed.


Sylvanas chuckles under her breath, “Ahhh yes, the elfling archer who dreamt of being a Windrunner. Foolish child, you are only born a Windrunner. Our family name is not something for sale or reward. So the Winter Queen chose to pat you on the back with her little moniker of ‘Protector’? Ha, that is not unlike the master rewarding his dog with a treat for an amusing trick. You are as fractured and common as when I first made you a ranger proper. Away with you little pup! Ahahahahaha!” Sylvanas’ laughter grows louder and louder to a roar in Cristina’s ears, so much so it becomes a roaring gale then twists into a cold banshee’s wail. The emotional pain overcomes Cristina, and she curls to the ground, broken and ashamed. All that remains is Sylvanas’ maniacal laughter enveloping her into the darkness and then…


“Protector Cristina! Protector Cristina! Rise and prepare for the day! Isn’t today your assault on the summit of the Sanctum?” queries Swifthoof, a young sylvar who has been attached to Cristina. Swifthoof had been tending Cristina for the past couple weeks as well as managing her stable.

“Yes, yes indeed, Swifthoof. Today we have marked for the assault on the summit and most likely an encounter with… Sylvanas Windrunner,“ says Cristina as her eyes glaze for a few seconds.

Swifthoof’s eyes widen as he speaks fearfully, “I have heard tales of the Windrunner. They say she can dart about like a wisp and strike fear into the bravest heart with her screams!”


“I have heard much the same over the years, Swifthoof,” states Cristina calmy. “All the more reason that we each must prepare carefully and fully for this confrontation. Nothing will be left to chance today. Be sure that each shaft is true, the fletchings are groomed, and the tips are sharp and clean.”


“At once, Protector Cristina! I will check each one thrice before I place them in your quill,” Swifthoof proudly proclaims.


“You are truly a gem, Swifthoof! You honor me with your exuberant service and devotion,” replies the lady.


Swifthoof politely chimes, “Then I hope you fancy me an umbryl, Protector as my favorite color is blue!”


“Of course, Swifthoof,” Cristina chuckles, “Umbryl it is then.”


If this was the day that all the others had led to, why was Cristina so reticent for its arrival? All the practice, missions, and assaults on the Jailer’s forces had led to this final moment – a confrontation with Cristina’s former Ranger General, Sylvanas Windrunner. Why is there a hesitation, a pause, a concern for this meeting?


Perhaps, Cristina thought to herself, she was not at all readied or properly prepared. Perhaps there should be more practice, more advice from the finest bowyers of Ardenweald and Korthia, more study of Sylvanas’ tacitcs and tendencies? After all, she was the finest archer of Quel’Thalas, with nothing less than the strongest bow and the sharpest arrows.


“You are ready?”, queried the Tauren druid, Catscän, although no one would know the wiser, as he appeared in one of his many spirit forms, that of a chicken. Not only was Catscän one of the most clever, but also easily one of the most powerful, known for felling some of the greatest creatures in the weald with but one spell, and perhaps on a bad day maybe two.


“I… I suppose I am,” muttered Cristina very unconvincingly. “I am not certain I am fully prepared for this. I am so unsure.” “None of us ever are, Cristina,” Catscän replied with assurance. “We go forward, knowing what we have is our best to offer. I have the greatest confidence you will do well today, as we all will.”


Cristina nodded pensively. The Tauren’s words were very calming. “Very well, then. Let us meet our fate and seize our destiny!”


Minutes later, the Night Fae envoy traveled off to Oribos to meet with the rest of the Shadowlands contingent set to assault the summit of the Sanctum of Domination. Weeks of long preparation had gone into this effort, a final chance to prevent Zovaal from obtaining the final sigil of the Arbiter, which would open the way to the Sepulcher of the First Ones. They all knew that once Zovaal would reach that destination all of reality would be remade in his image.


Cristina’s squad gathered then entered the Shadowlands through a mystic portal to Korthia, then from there was summoned to the precipice of the sanctum. With the way already cleared, it took mere minutes for the group to reach a gate established by Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, Lich King and leader of the Ebon Blade. As each member entered, they knew that their fate and Sylvanas Windrunner awaited them on the other side.


In the blink of an eye, Cristina and her compatriots were transported to a platform, where, on the far edge, stood the Dark Lady proud, defiant, and ever confident. “A shame you won’t survive to witness our victory. But if it’s an ending you seek then come and meet it”, Windrunner callously chided.


“I only seek two things, butcher. Your head and your bow!” Cristina blurted out. She briefly paused. She pondered from where that possibly came. Perhaps it was the adrenaline, the challenge of combat, the excitement of ensuing battle.


“Very well. Death it is then,” replied Sylvanas and the combat began.


The battle seemed to take hours with Sylvanas’ strategems being thwarted at each turn. Darkness, volleys of arrows, and portal attacks were all deftly defended by the heroes until finally Sylvanas destroyed sections of the platform, casting them at Azeroth’s chosen. After many thwarted attempts, Windrunner departs leaving the group reeling.


Recovering, the warriors track the Dark Lady to the In-Between, a strange place that borders the many realms of the Shadowlands, and where the Jailer had created immense chains from the sanctum tethering it to Oribos. Windrunner taunts them from a distance.


“Press onward, soldiers! We must not let the banshee create any separation!” bellowed Kranna, one of the squadron leaders, an Orc warrior that was a seasoned veteran of many wars, as hard as the finest tempered steel. ‘For honor and glory, charge!”


The champions move forward across the chains stretching from one stand to the next, with Windrunner seemingly teasing them at each step, as a cat plays with its prey. Occasionally, a warrior deals a solid blow, raising Sylvanas’ ire and causing her to sneer before casting a wave of shadow in reply. Summoning the forces of death to support her, the banshee eventually turns the tide until the heroes are overwhelmed, forcing mage Jaina Proudmoore, to teleport the party away to the Crucible.


The Crucible looked familiar to Cristina. She had been here before to perceive what remained of the Arbiter, still and seemingly lifeless but still retaining her key. A platform for each Eternal One encircled the center. This would be where Sylvanas would make her final stand, dealing the heroes their deaths, or at least buying the Jailer the time he needed to wrest the final key.


The final battle began and reached a fevered pitch within minutes. The Banshee Queen, using all the tools and torments at her disposal, pressed Azeroth’s champions mightily. The moment the heroes gained a notable advantage, Sylvanas would raze a platform and force the combat to yet another locale. “Do not relent, comrades,” Cristina heard Kranna shout with authority. “The Banshee falters!”


As many times as Windrunner appeared to be reeled, she quickly steadied and fought more fiercely than before. She laid waste to the platforms forcing the champions to regroup and reorganize until only one remained. Cristina knew this would be their last stand. If Sylvanas could not be felled here, this would be the end for all.


The Banshee Queen held no quarter unleashing wailing arrows, darkness, and bane curses upon them. Cristina was pressed continuously until finally the combination of shadowed daggers and mystical shafts felled the once brave Sin’dorei. As darkness closed about her, she could only hear the cheers of her fellow champions being juxtaposed by Zovaal plucking the final key from the Arbiter as a farmer would pluck fruit from a tree. It was over, she thought. Her journey ends in vain.


“Cristina Desouza, arise!” chants the familiar voice of Catscän. “Your journey in life continues. Awaken and breathe again!”


“How is this to be druid?” queried Cristina. “Is this what the Jailer wishes for his reality?”


“Zovaal is no longer here, Captain,” replied Kranna. “He escaped through a glistening portal, to where we do not know. Sylvanas was defeated and left to us for judgement. It would seem the Banshee Queen’s eyes were finally opened to his deceptions.”


As her vision cleared, Cristina saw a gathering of Azeroth’s greatest warriors near the far edge of this last platform, perhaps conversing, deciding the Windrunner’s fate. Shakily, Desouza rises and approaches them, each step as tenuous as the first ones of a toddler’s, but certain and deliberate. Sylvanas was down but still conscious and obviously in pain struggling to utter but a few remaining words on her breath.


“I hunted you for years, seeking your approval,” Cristina said haltingly yet with conviction, her best friend, Redbreast the ragewing tentatively approaching alongside her. "Now I find I neither want it nor need it."





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