There were no thoughts, no feelings, except the great rage that filled the draenei. His tauren mate lay dead on the floor of the cavern, his lifeless body surrounded by a pool of blood. Anarchei was not aware of anything any more. Only himself and the death knight existed. Everything else meant nothing to him now. The death knight had taken his friend and lover away from him, had taken his life. There was only one way he could prevent the tauren been turned into an undead monster, and the solution was before him. He stood slowly from his position next to Stronghoof's body, sword clutched in his right hand, his left pointed at Stonebreaker.
"You will pay for what you have done," the draenei growled, his sharp fangs clearly visible.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a great light filled the cave, its illumination touched everything in sight. The shadows dispersed, the darkness vanquished. The source of this brilliance came from the paladin, both hands now grasped Quel'delar, as he let loose a roar. Power. Great power surged through Anarchei, unleashed by his rage, fuelled by his love. The massive boost of energy was enough to startle the death knight, his eyes widened in surprise at this unexpected development. The Light streamed out of the draenei, it flowed like a smoke from a fire. Even his eyes had changed. Instead of their normal blue glow, they now shone golden, the Light poured from them like mist off a torrent of water. This was power unimaginable.
As quick as lightning, Anarchei lashed out with the Light. His arm stretched out, hand raised with palm outward. The stream of Light hit Stonebreaker with such force that it sent him through the air and into the cavern wall. The rock was cracked by the impact, however the death knight managed to recover quickly. He launched his own attack on the paladin. The undead tauren fought no longer to satisfy his corrupted love, but now for his own survival. There were no holds barred in this battle. Both used their magic and their blades, both seemingly evenly matched. Anarchei wore an expression filled with rage, while Stonebreaker grinned to hide the fear that grew within. Their swords clashed, thrust and parry, parry and thrust. Their spells bounced off each other as they never managed to connect with their target. For some time it continued like this, dark against light. However, the tide was soon turned, and it turned against the death knight.
The draenei now had the upper hand. The Light continuously provided him with power, while it slowly sapped the undead tauren of his strength. With a sudden blast of energy, Anarchei roared. The force knocked back Stonebreaker, and in this moment he realised that his end had come. As if in slow motion, Quel'delar arced through the air, as it's wielder guided it toward the tauren. The blade sliced right through the death knight, through armour, flesh, and bone. Stonebreaker's eyes were wide in shock, his blade dropped from his hand. A line of blood began to leak from his belly. Gravity finished the job, his upper body unable to stay in its position, it detached and fell backward, his legs fell soon after that. A few moments of gurgled breath followed, as the death knight tried desperately to hold on to unlife. There was no way out for him this time. The Lich King would not bring him back, nor would he send an agent to do so either. He gasped his last breath, the light of undeath left the tauren's eyes.
Sure that the threat had been eliminated, Anarchei turned back to Stronghoof and knelt at his side. The rage was gone, now there was despair. His tears flowed freely, the power within him still strong. The draenei realised quickly that he had tapped an unknown well of power that he never knew existed, and before it disappeared, he needed to perform one last task. With hope that gave him the strength he needed, he uttered some words under his breath and placed his hands upon the lifeless body of his mate. The Light flowed from within him and into the tauren, Anarchei could feel his power diminish with each second that passed. Soon, Stronghoof's body glowed brighter than anything he had ever seen. Then it was over. He had nothing more to give. The draenei felt something stir beneath him. It was the tauren, his heart had begun to beat again. The wound he had received from the death knight was gone, not even the faintest scar remained. It was then he saw Stronghoof's eyes slowly open. There was a moment of recognition, before the draenei leant forward, his face directly in front of the tauren's.
"I love you too," he whispered gently, then pressed in all the way, his lips met those of his mate's, and they kissed passionately for what seemed like hours.
"Hey!" a voice cried out in the now dim violet light of the cave. "While I find it really sweet that you two are swapping saliva, I'm still tied up, and it isn't exactly warm in here."
The two separated and shared a soft laugh together. Anarchei stood up, and helped Stronghoof up off the ground, the tauren a little stiff from been dead, even if only for a few minutes. The draenei crouched next to Jorus and untied him. Once the elf was free from his bonds, they all faced the crystal that blocked the netherdrake's magic. With a swipe of his sword, Anarchei smashed it into thousands of shards, its power dissipated soon after.
"Ah, much better," the elf stated with joy. "I can use magic again. Although, now it's dark in here."
Again the two paladins laughed. Anarchei raised his hand and a small ball of light appeared, which illuminated the cavern a bit better than the crystal ever did. For a moment, Stronghoof stared at the corpse of his former mate. He was unsure what to do with the body. As if he had read his mate's mind, Anarchei spoke up.
"Jorus, do you think you could collapse this cave with your magic?"
"It's possible," the elf mused. "But if I do, I might not have enough energy to teleport us back to the city. That crystal did more than block my magic, it drained a lot of it too. But why would you want to collapse this cave?"
"I think Stronebreaker deserves a proper burial," Anarchei said with resolve, his eyes on his mate, who looked back at him with the same determination. "He may have been corrupted by the Lich King and turned evil, but once upon a time he was a good man. I think we can honour at least that much."
Jorus nodded. "We had better go to the entrance, wouldn't want the roof to collapse on us."
The group made their way back to the entrance of the cavern. Once they were all outside, Jorus turned to face the crack in the cliff face. He raised his hands, palms outward, and began to cast his spell. In seconds, an orb of energy appeared in each hand, and shot straight through the entrance and deep into the cave. The volley continued for some time, loud explosions of rock echoed as the magic connected with whatever got in its path. Soon the sound of large rocks could be heard as they broke away from the ceiling and fell to the cave floor. Jorus kept up his assault on the cavern until the collapse began to sustain itself. They stepped back as boulders and rocks bounced out of the entrance. Soon, a cloud of dust formed that clouded their sight of the cliff, the dirt flowed around them and down the side of the cliff, only to be picked up by the wind and carried off. The dust eventually settled to reveal the entrance of the cave blocked by boulders and rocks. No one was going in there again.
"Let's get out of here," Jorus spoke softly after a moment of silence.
In an matter of seconds the elf had transformed himself into a netherdrake. The energy that formed a part of his being him was weaker than it was usually, but thanks to his transformation, he was able to collect some energy from the Twisting Nether that surrounded the remains of Draenor.
'There, I got some of my strength back,' the drake explained, Stronghoof startled by the voice in his head.
"Did you hear him?" Anarchei asked as he placed a hand on his mate's arm, to which the tauren nodded in the affirmative.
'The connection between you two must have made it possible for him to tap into our link,' Jorus explained, his head tilted to the side as he transmitted his thoughts to the two paladins.
"If you say so," the draenei said in response. "You know more about the process than me."
"So I'll be able to hear everything you say while a dragon?" Stronghoof asked, no longer upset but rather curious and a little bit excited.
'Perhaps,' the drake answered, his voice carried with it a sense of being unsure. 'I'm guessing that so long as the connection between you two remains strong, you will be able to hear me. Now, can we please go now? As much as I like chatting, we really should get back.'
"Fine, let's go," Anarchei said as he stepped up to his flying companion and climbed on his back. "Coming Stronghoof?"
"Are you sure it's safe?" the tauren asked, a little nervous as he stepped forward. "I mean, can you carry my weight?"
'I've carried you before,' Jorus explained. 'I can manage.'
With a nod, Stronghoof climbed behind his mate, mindful of the draenei's tail that now curled around his left leg.
"Hold on tight," Anarchei spoke quickly as the drake had crouched lower and spread his wings in preparation for take off.
The tauren wrapped his arms around the draenei's waist just moments before Jorus flapped his wings and took to the air. They all felt the rush of gravity as they fell for a few seconds, then the wings pulled them out of their dive and they glided for a while. Ahead, in the distance, they caught sight of the small city that was their home.
Wings flapped strongly as the dragon descended rapidly toward the tower. On his back were two large beings that when combined were almost equal to his own weight. The netherdrake was not daunted however, and he remained strong, even when he slowed his descent and landed on the balcony, doing so with as much grace as he would as if he carried no extra weight at all. The pair dismounted quickly after which the drake groaned in relief and immediately transformed back into his preferred form, that of an elf.
"You know, you two really are heavy," Jorus commented as he dusted himself off, even though his magical clothing repelled all dirt.
"That's what happens when one is born either draenei or shu'halo," Anarchei responded with a wry smile.
"Whatever," the elf replied as he sniffed the air, his nose wrinkled as he recoiled in disgust. "You two need to bathe."
The draenei and tauren both sniffed, and were also repelled by the smell. They stank. Their climb through the mountains and the battle they had fought meant they were now rank. Sweat, dried blood, dirt, and the distinct odour of their kind all mingled to produce something that was not very pleasant.
"You're right," Anarchei agreed with a sigh.
Stronghoof followed his mate to the bathroom. They did not waste any time. They washed and dried themselves as quickly as they could. The water in the bath now stank like they had earlier, while their bodies where clean and smelt vaguely of some sort of flower. The reason they hurried was because mere moments after they had shut the door behind them and begun to remove their armour, a large commotion could be heard down the corridor. Jorus' family had arrived. When they returned, dressed in the clothes they had intended to wear to dinner earlier that night, they were greeted by many elfs. The females dressed in long dresses that flowed behind them, the males in formal dinner suits or semi-formal clothing. They all gave the pair a cheer as they appeared, many came up to them and shook their hands, or gave them hugs as a way of thanks. They were thanked by everyone that had gathered. Jorus' family wasn't small.
"We have arranged a little party to celebrate our son's safe return," Jorus' mother announced. "I hope you two can attend."
"Of course," Anarchei replied with a smile and a nod.
"It would be an honour," Stronghoof said in his usual deep voice.
'When my mother says a little party she really means she has invited everyone she knows,' Jorus spoke, the mind link they shared private as his mother didn't even flinch.
After the two paladins agreed, they all cleared out of Anarchei's apartment, and headed down to the venue of the party. It was the same building that their dinner was meant to be held in, but now it seemed that a lot had been done to prepare for the change of activities. Instead of a small dinner with just Jorus, his family, Anarchei, and Stronghoof, there was now a packed room full of people. The large room, if one could call it that, was square in shape. The floor a polished stone of many colours, the walls much plainer with golden pillars that held up a heavy ceiling. At the centre of the roof was a great circular indigo dome, it's semi-transparency meant that the night sky was clearly visible to all those below. Opposite the double wooden doors that led from the street into the magnificent building, against the wall stood a stage, upon which a band of various races played exotic music. In front of the stage was a space for people to dance, and many were there already. Around the edges of the room, there were large circular tables covered with white tablecloths, chairs arrayed around them. The room looked as if it was filled beyond capacity. There were many netherdrakes disguised as elfs, as well as several draenei who towered over most of those in attendance, and even a few orcs, who stood tall and proud unlike their distant relatives elsewhere. Everyone was dressed up in their best clothing, many of the outfits of strange combinations. While some wore more traditional clothing, suits and the like, others mixed and matched. Some wore frills around their necks and long socks that went up to their knees, others wore clothing so transparent that it left little to the imagination. It was obvious that the dress code was that there was no dress code.
Jorus was dragged off as soon as they arrived, his family wanted him to greet everyone who had come to the party. He didn't protest. The chance to meet new people, as well as get acquainted with old friends, was something the elf desired very much. Anarchei and Stronghoof were occasionally offered thanks for their rescue of Jorus, however for the most part they were left alone. They stood against one of the walls, no desire at that moment to sit at a table or dance. Both of them were tired from their trials earlier, but they had agreed to come, and they didn't want to break their promise. They were about to go and sit at a nearby table when a kaldorei stepped up to them and blocked their way.
"I was hoping to find you two," the night elf said, slightly dishevelled in his button-down orange shirt and black trousers.
"Surfal?" They both blurted out in unison.
"What are you doing here?" Anarchei continued as he reached out to shake the elf's hand.
"Well, I have a friend in Dalaran," Surfal explained as he also shook Stronghoof's three-fingered hand. "She's a netherdrake, but she takes the form of a quel'dorei so that she can study magic there. Anyway, long story short, she heard about a party been thrown for you two and your friend Jorus. She told me that she needed someone to take with her, so I agreed, but as soon as we arrived she left me to go flirt with some of the males in the crowd and show off her new magical abilities."
Before they had a chance to say anything in response, Jorus stepped in.
"Finally," he said with a sigh of relief. "Got away from them. As much as I like chatting, there are limits to how much I can tolerate. So who's this? He's cute."
Surfal blushed at this. his face turned a deeper purple.
"This is Surfal," Anarchei introduced the night elf. "Surfal, this is Jorus."
The two elfs shook hands, Surfal still with a slight blush on his cheeks.
"Jorus?" Stronghoof enquired after a moment. "Are you like us? Do you like other males?"
"Well, not exactly," Jorus said slowly with a grin. "You see, I like anything that is as smart as me, and is something I can have sex with."
They all shared a laugh at this pronouncement.
"But if that's true," the tauren continued after the laughter died down. "Does that mean that you and Anarchei have ever been together?"
"We talked about it once," the elf replied seriously. "But we decided that we weren't right for each other, and that we just wanted to be friends."
Stronghoof nodded, and looked to his partner, who had turned to face him. They starred into each other's eyes for what seemed like ages.
"So, now that they are distracted, maybe you and I can talk?" Jorus asked Surfal with a glance at the two paladins. "What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a healer in Dalaran," the kaldorei explained with a smile. "A druid to be specific. I'm one of the healers who helped Stronghoof when he was infected with the plague."
Jorus smiled at this, and led the night elf away from Anarchei and Stronghoof so that they could have a chat. Both paladins were still engaged in a look that breathed passion. Both draenei and shu'halo knew deep down what they felt. This was love, pure and simple. There was only one thing they needed to do before they made their relationship final, one more step before the final hurdle. The party had started to wind down, and they both knew that it was time. They made their way to the stage and climbed up the stairs at the side. The band stopped their instruments, the dancers on the floor halted their movements.
"Stronghoof and I have an announcement to make," Anarchei said in a loud voice, one that carried to every corner of the great hall.
He grasped his mates hand in his own and squeezed hard. This was it, this was the moment of truth, and for once the draenei was at a loss for words. The tauren noticed this, and wrung up the courage to say what needed to be said. He glanced at his partner, who's eyes settled on his in gratitude for been able to find the words that he could not, and both smiled to convey that they understood one another.
"Anarchei and I are a couple," he declared to the crowded room, all eyes now on him. "We are in love, and will be mated for life."
There was a short pause as everyone came to grips with what they had just heard. Finally, the room erupted in cheers. There were shouts of congratulations, while others clapped. From their position on the stage they could see all the way to the back of the room. There, his back against the wall, was Surfal, who was pressed tightly against another elf. Jorus had engaged him in what could only be described as a passionate kiss. Both had their eyes shut, and were clearly oblivious to the world around them. Both paladins smiled at this, and a deep urge grew within them as they witnessed the passion of the two elfs. They turned to face each other, hands came up to wrap themselves around one another and pull their bodies tight. Their lips crushed together, mouths parted slightly. Their first public kiss. They could not ignore, however, the loud applause, cheers, whistles, and a few shouts to get a room, which had resulted from their display of affection. They seperated, and starred into each others eyes.
"I love you," Anarchei said as he peered up slightly at the taller tauren.
"I love you too," Stronghoof replied with a smile, and leaned in to embrace his mate.
Eventually, the party came to a close. It was past midnight and many were tired. People said their goodbyes, and either walked through portals which took them back to their own cities, or went out on to the street, to teleport, transform into a drake and fly away, or just walk to enjoy the night air. The two paladins were exhausted and wanted nothing more than to go to bed. They made their way down the street toward their apartment. Neither had seen Jorus or Surfal since they shared a kiss on the stage, but neither were worried. They both knew where they had gone, back to Jorus' room no doubt. They used the orb at the base of the tower to teleport themselves up to their apartment. They found their way to the bedroom, and fell heavily upon the large bed. They lay there next to each other and shared one last kiss before they fell asleep in each others arms.