Monday, August 29, 2022

Fate and Circumstance

(The genesis of this story was provided by my questing buddy, who was inspired by the Wrath Classic Beta Test. She provided part of the story as well as the overall plot, and I filled in the rest and edited the overall story. As the two of us collaborated on the entire thing, she and I share the authors' credit for the tale.

I wanted to release this before the Wrath Classic pre-patch, but trying to fit in the last bit of editing while being knee deep in Blaugust 2022 wasn't exactly the smartest thing I've ever done. Still, it's finished, and here it is. 

Some final notes: This is a work of fiction; any resemblance to any people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Honest! Any characters created by Blizzard for WoW Classic, TBC Classic, and Wrath Classic remain their property. This work of fiction uses WoW Classic, TBC Classic, and Wrath Classic as the reference points, no other version of WoW. This was written by Redbeard of Parallel Context and Zargala-Myzrael, 2022.)

Fate and Circumstance
By Redbeard and Zargala

“Okay Lewys, once your mom uses the paddle to move the bread to the edge of the oven,” I instructed, nodding at Karyn who nudged a golden-brown loaf over, “then it’s your turn.”

My nephew Lewys stood atop a chair in the kitchen, knitted his brow in concentration, and whispered the short poem I gave him. We’d been practicing for this moment for a couple of weeks, and now all I could do was wait. I bit my lip as I stood behind him, watching helplessly as wisps of the arcane came to life and swirled around us. He finished, reached for the bread, and dropped it into the cloth covered basket beside him.

“I did it!” he shouted, jumping up and down on the chair. “It was just like you said, Aunt Cardwyn! Once I got done with the poem the bread was cool enough to move!”

“You sure did, kiddo,” I exhaled, grabbing him from behind and ruffling his hair. “It’s all in the patience and the poem. Do you think you can now help your mom and Grandmama out on baking day?”

“Yeah!” Lewys turned toward my brother’s wife and gave her a hug. “Mom, I did it! Woo!”

“Good job, Lewys!” Karyn smiled with relief as she set the paddle down and returned the hug. She then looked over at me with a question in her eyes.

“He certainly did it,” I echoed and nodded.

“Good,” Mom replied, tapping her foot. “Then the two of you can help us finish up faster.”

“Well,” I said, scraping my foot on the floor, “I don’t want to take away the job I just gave him.”

“Okay then, maybe you should go check to see if something needs doing, like turning the manure.”


“Caaard!” she replied, a grin spreading across her face.

I sighed. No matter how old I got, I was always going to be her kid. “Okay, okay, I’ll go check it out. But Lewys,” I added, turning back to my nephew, “remember to whisper the poem after your mom moves the loaves over, okay? It’s all in the timing.”

“Got it, Aunt Cardwyn! You go turn that manure!”

“Uh… Right.” That kid was picking up all sorts of bad habits from Mom.


I went out the front door, stood on the porch, and took a deep breath. The morning sun had chased away the dew, and I could hear the cows and horses being turned out into the paddock just out of view. A sluggish breeze brought in more oppressive air, and I winced; the kitchen was going to be unbearable by the time baking day was over.

“Did he do it?” a silvery haired woman seated in a nearby rocking chair asked.

“Yes, Mistress Evelyn,” I replied, grabbing another chair and sitting down. “He handled it very easily. I could barely see the flows, but until he grabbed the loaf I wasn’t sure if he’d successfully made a fire ward.”

“Well,” she said, “now there are two of you around the farm.”

“Three,” I corrected my old teacher. “You count too.”

“If we’re playing that game, it’s four when Elsharin visits. You know, she’s going to be thrilled that her old apprentice finally has one of her own.”

“Well, yes, but…” I paused. “Do you remember what you told me in your letter when I left home, about wanting Magecraft to be a choice I willingly made?”

My old teacher nodded.

“I want Lewys to make that choice too. I’m even okay with him being a hedge wizard, if it means he’s doing what he likes doing. But… well, you know I really love being a Mage, but you were right. It does involve some sacrifice, and I sometimes wonder if it was worth it.”

“We all have regrets,” Evelyn replied. “No matter what you do in life you always will have them. You’re still quite young, so there’s plenty of time to make up for those regrets you’ve got. You’ll just replace them with other ones.”

I sighed again. “I just want to do the right thing for him.” And me, I added silently.

Evelyn made a face; at times like this I wondered if she could read minds. “You’ve been hiding too long, Card. You need to reengage with people.”

“I suppose so.”

“Look,” Evelyn added, leaning forward, “I understand what you went through. Remember, I saw the rise of the Scourge. I saw the destruction of Lordaeron and Dalaran. I was there with the combined forces of the Horde and Alliance at Mount Hyjal.”

“I know.” Linna had written to me what she saw in the Bronze Dragonflight’s caverns, but she swore me to secrecy.

“And I saw what being abandoned behind enemy lines did to your mother in the Second War. You had many of her symptoms when you returned home after Kel’Thuzad was defeated, but you recovered. To finish healing, you need to go out and talk to people again. To be a Mage again.”

“I do Magecraft,” I protested.

“This?” Evelyn waved a hand around, encompassing the farm. “For many Mages, what you do here might be pushing their abilities. But I know you; this doesn’t require any exertion at all. There was a reason why you were asked to fight before the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj, and why you were chosen to enter Naxxramas. You even have friends from the Horde, such as Elsharin’s niece and nephew.”

“Sindorei don’t count as Horde,” I interjected.

“Try telling that to them and see where that gets you. When the Queldorei needed help the most, the Alliance of Lordaeron abandoned them. And even after Quel’Thalas fell they were met with hatred and hostility.”

We’d had this discussion already, and I was not inclined to argue.

“But the point is,” she continued, “you have done great things, Card. You have been a part of even greater things. And I think that soon enough Azeroth will need you to do them once more. If nothing else, be an example for your nieces and nephews. And for your own kids.”

“I don’t have any kids,” I replied drily. “I think I’d know if I did.”

“Not now, but you will have them. I don’t know what you and Trevor talked about the last time he was here, but he certainly had a bounce in his step when he left.”

I flushed. There was no denying the afterglow of good sex. “Once his mission up north in the Plaguelands is finished, he’ll have the opportunity to choose his assignment. We reached an understanding as to what that will be.”


“I suppose I ought to ask Mom and Dad about where they think another house here at the farm should be built.”

“You don’t want to make a play for the Tower of Azora?”

I snorted. “Are you kidding me? That place positively reeks of power lust.”

“Theocritus would not be amused at that observation.”

“He may not like it, but that’s the truth. I want any family I raise to be connected to the people, not isolated from them. What good is it being a Mage if you spend all your time trying to figure out how to gather more power to yourself? In the end we’ll all pass on anyway.”

Evelyn sat back in the chair and nodded, a smile creasing her face. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that, Card.”

I opened my mouth to make a wisecrack but movement at the end of the lane caught my eye.

A man in a courier’s uniform emerged from the trees and passed through the gate. Marching up to the foot of the porch, he sized us up and down for a moment. “I have a message for Cardwyn Songshine,” he declared, reaching into his satchel and removing a sealed note.

“That’s me,” I replied, standing. “Come on up and have a seat.”

“Oh, I can’t stay,” the courier responded. “I’m due back to Stormwind by tomorrow.”

“I can get you back faster if you want.”

The courier looked me over with his lips pursed, taking in my stained blouse and working skirts.

“Before you ask,” I said, rolling my eyes and hopping down the stairs, “yes, I am that Cardwyn Songshine, and no, I don’t wear robes all the time. Especially not on a day like today when a trip to the swimming hole is in order.”

“I had no idea that you Mages wore anything else,” the Courier added, handing over the note. “But if you’re offering a portal, I’ll gladly accept.”

I stepped aside, palmed a rune, a few moments later a portal opened.

“Thank you kindly, Ms. Songshine,” the Courier said, doffing his cap. “I’ll say that I’m glad to be rid of that note. That gnome, she was… Well, she was quite a character.”

With a wave he vanished through the portal.

I turned the sealed letter over in my hands as I went back to my seat. “That gnome, huh? It could be any one of a half dozen gnomes, but if I’d a guess…”

Bringing the note up to my nose, I took a big whiff. “Brimstone and oil,” I nodded. “It has to be Zarg.”

“Brimstone and oil?” Mistress Evelyn asked with a raised eyebrow. “The brimstone I get, but…”

“She likes tinkering with that machine of hers. Linna wrote that she flies it all over Outland, giggling all the way.”

“Now that I believe.”

I popped the seal and opened the note.

Dearest Cardwyn, I read, then as my eyes perused further my hands began shaking.

“Card?” Evelyn whispered in sudden concern.

MASTER, I REQUIRE AID!!!! Kel’Thuzad’s voice echoed in my head.

“Hurry, Card! Move!” I stumbled forward blindly as ice rained down from above us. We summoned fire to warm everybody nearby, but two of us froze solid, trapped inside blocks of ice. Allitrea kept imploring the Light for help, trying desperately to keep our frozen comrades alive before she was cut down by a burst of the arcane.

VERY WELL. The power behind the response was so terrifying, my body shook like a leaf in a storm. WARRIORS OF THE FROZEN WASTES, RISE UP! I COMMAND YOU TO FIGHT, KILL, AND DIE FOR YOUR MASTER! LET NONE SURVIVE!

Portals opened all around us. So many portals….

“Card!!” Evelyn shouted. “Mona! Daryn! Hurry!!”

I was never going to be warm again.

We kept casting, dodging, removing his curses, and casting some more. Ice covered my robes, cracking and shattering with every movement. I was thrown across the room by a Nerubian and crawled away to safety as my numbed fingers closed over a discarded healing potion. A knight intercepted the Nerubian in pursuit of me and paid for it by being bowled over.

Scrambling up again, I downed the potion, blinked away, and continued casting.

I don’t know who cast that last time, but Kel’Thuzad crumbled inward, his skull fractured. A ragged cheer went up as the Nerubians turned and fled back through the portals.

“Hey Card.”

Then HIS voice shouted again…


There were so many who died, and even more died and then rose from the ground, their minds not their own. The enormity of the price we paid overwhelmed me and I collapsed on the floor, cradling Allitrea’s lifeless body, and wept.

“Come on, Card, look at me.”

The voice, so calm and reassuring, brought me back.

“She blinked,” another voice almost cried in relief. “Come on, Sis. Come back to us. We’re not in Naxxramas. It’s a warm summer day, and there’s manure to turn.”

And just like that, I could breathe again.

“Card,” the first voice whispered, “look at me. Who am I?”

“Dad?” My eyes darted to and fro, expecting Scourge to leap out at me from everywhere.

“Card,” Dad was more insistent this time. “You’re safe. He’s not here. He’s not going to get you.”


“Shh. It’s okay.”

I vaguely became aware of people surrounding me. Mom, Dad, Jas, Karyn, my nieces and nephew, and others. So many people here at the farm. Did we really have that many living here?

A slim hand gripped my shoulder. “You’ll be fine, Cardwyn.”

“Elsharin?” I slewed around and stared at my Mistress, clad in her robes despite the heat of the Summer. Just how long was I lost in the nightmare for her to get here?

“Everything’s fine, Card,” Elsharin continued. “He’s gone.”

I realized I was still gripping the note tightly. “No,” I whispered, “he’s back.”

“What??” The Queldorei took a step back, her eyes widening.

“H-here,” I replied, relinquishing my death grip on Zargala’s note.

Elsharin took it and read aloud:

Dearest Cardwyn,

I hope this letter finds you well and that you've recovered from your previous adventures. I've missed seeing you in Outland as we've fought against Illidan and the Burning Legion, but I understand you needed to rest. Linnawyn has been a great asset and has served well. You should be proud of your sister.

I am unsure if you've heard, but there are rumors of the Scourge awakening in Northrend. I was selected as part of a special advance operation to investigate these rumors. Cardy, the rumors are true. The Lich King has risen. I don't know the full extent of his powers, but he's reawakened Naxxramas, and it's hovering over the village of Wintergarde. Our worst nightmares are coming true.

I know it is a huge boon to ask, but your skills and talents are once again needed. Your knowledge in the previous successful campaign against Naxxramas would be such an asset to us. Please help me free these people from this Scourge that plagues them.

Your Friend,


“Damn Arthas,” Mistress Evelyn growled into the silence that followed. “Damn him to the Twisting Nether.”

“Kel’Thuzad told us that you can’t defeat Death,” I said, quaking. “He knew.”

“No, Card,” Mom snapped. “Someone didn’t destroy his phylactery. Then he truly would be gone.”

I finally forced the tremors away, shoving my fear back into the deep corners of my mind. “Zarg was never in Naxxramas. She doesn’t know what it was like.”

“Very few people have been inside and lived to talk about it.”

“Yes,” I said bitterly as a spark of anger grew inside me. “I’m special.”

“Card, you don’t have to defeat him again,” Dad soothed.

“You’re right, I don’t. But burn me, I can sure as hell teach people how to do it. They won’t have to feel the terror like I did.”

Mom grunted. “Just because you think you can doesn’t mean you should. I’m proof of that.”

That spark of fury had grown into a white-hot blaze. “I know, Mom,” I replied. “Believe me, I know. But you also said once a long time ago that if you knew and did nothing… Well, I do know. And I can do something about it. I don’t think I can go inside that place ever again, but I can help the people who do.

“I thought—” I took a deep breath. “Well, I thought that once we slew Kel’Thuzad we were going to be okay. We could live out our lives in peace. But the Lich King isn’t going away. I don’t have to be the one to kill him, but I can help people who will. I want this farm to be safe. I want us to be safe. And if taking up the fight again will do it, I’m going to do it.”

I tried to stand, but Dad held me down. “Card,” he said, “you’re not thinking right. Maybe you will go up north to help, but not right now. Not in this state.”

Dad was right, but that didn’t mean I had to like it.

“Cardwyn,” Elsharin interrupted my thoughts, “let me do some reconnaissance on this. There are people I trust in Dalaran and Quel’Thalas who can provide corroboration. Before you go up north, we should know what awaits you there. That Warlock friend of yours may be skilled, but she is… Excitable.”

Now that was an understatement. “Very well,” I finally replied. “I’ll wait, but I should start preparing. I’m sure there’s a lot of catching up to do. Is my room still available in Stormwind?”

Elsharin’s slow smile lit up her eyes and she gently touched my shoulder. “It’s yours forever, Apprentice.”

“Aunt Cardwyn,” Lewys interrupted with his hands on his hips, “I thought you finished being an apprentice. Were you lying to us??!!”

“It’s a term of endearment,” I explained as I grinned back at my Mistress.

“An ender-what?”

“It’s a way of saying ‘I love you’ without having to say it.”

Lewys shook his head. “People are weird.”

I grabbed my nephew and gave him a big hug. “Yes we are, kiddo. Yes we are. And it was past time for me to remember that all of you delightfully weird people are worth fighting for.”


EtA: Can't believe I missed "afterward" which should have been "after". Sheesh.


  1. So great to hear about Card again, I missed her. I hope she'll become regular here!

    1. I think we'll have to do more of these. The smaller ones I can handle, because there's a smaller structure to them.

  2. I love this … so much. We need to do more. -Zarg

  3. Nice story, Red! I like the idea of using fire wards for baking. I was just a bit surprised that Card ported the courier away immediately - I thought the point of offering him a portal was that he could sit with them for a bit without being late to return to Stormwind.

    Now, Card is... Card, Linna is your paladin, Zargala is your friend's gnome... what I want to know is, how many more of these names are based on actual in-game characters? Is Allitrea a healer that quit after Naxx? Trevor someone you ERPed with in Goldshire? 😜

    1. Well.... The courier just wanted to get away from the note but didn't want to say anything (at first). And besides, meddling in the affairs of Mages can get you unnaturally crispy. Or turned into a sheep.

      Card is Card, and Linna, her sister, is a Paladin. Elsharin is a Mage Trainer in Stormwind, the Elf that people always pass by on the way out of the Sanctum. I originally was going to use a fellow raider's name but settled on Allitrea instead. But yes, the player that Allitrea was based on did quit a couple of months into TBC Classic.

      Zargala is my questing buddy's toon, named after the character from this commercial.

      And Trevor is a character in one of the stories I've never completed; he's part of the collection of stories that follow the Defias affair to it's conclusion.

      The reason why I never finished those stories is because I'm stuck with a bad case of writer's block in the very next story after Card arrives in Northshire Abbey. I've blown up the story and started over at least twice, but I still get stuck in the middle.

      So no, not an ERP session. ;-)