As the roiling black clouds above closed to block off her last glimpse of the afternoon sky, Aviana beat her wings furiously against the rising wind to gain height and a better perspective on the nightmare below. Once a gleaming city of polished wood and marble, of silken banners and graceful spires, Suramar was being torn asunder by a war between powers ancient and new. Queen Azshara and her Highborne followers had climbed to the heights of power when their heedless studies of magic brought the Burning Legion to Azeroth. Now the Kaldorei and the ancients were making one last attempt to prevent the Highborne from leaping over the brink of destruction.
A short distance away Aviana saw the body of Agamaggon. The gigantic warrior sprawled atop more than four score of the enormous Doomguard that he had defeated before falling, his tree-sized warclub still clutched in his fist. In his wake had come Ursol and Ursoc, the twins leading hundreds of Kaldorei archers through the opening in the Legion’s defenses toward the heart of the city. The demons rushed to close the gap, fel stalkers swarming down the streets and jumping incredible distances to seize elves in their powerful jaws. Panthers who had answered Ursoc’s call to battle pushed back the hounds’ attack, then were blasted in turn by lightning bolts thrown from a nearby rooftop by Highborne sorcerers. Battered and bleeding, Ursol let out a thundering roar and the earth beneath the building crumbled, swallowing both building and sorcerers. Suddenly another stalker leaped from a nearby alley, its bony horns piercing Ursol as he reared to cast a spell. Ursoc leapt to help his brother as blood spurted around the golden bands on the stalker’s horns, but it was too late. As he tore the beast’s body away from its head, his brother slumped to the cobblestones.
Aviana turned to the north, where Malorne led an army of dryads and elven huntresses into the temple district. Behind them came a pair of treants, boughs ablaze as they swatted at an eredar warlock casting fire toward the invading troops. Malorne paused to touch a wounded huntress with his horns and she climbed to her feet refreshed, bowing her head to the white stag. Just as the dryads pushed through a line of Highborne footmen, the gates of a nearby storehouse opened to reveal a dozen snarling satyrs. The beastmen poured from windows and doors, hundreds of them, cutting into the dryads with fang and claw. Above the wind, Aviana heard a cackling laugh and saw a huddled figure leaping away from rooftop to rooftop.
She dodged aside as a pit lord leaped from a nearby tower to tackle a red dragon in mid-air, sending both tumbling into the ashen remains of the city’s great gardens. Circling toward the shore, she glided toward the spires of the Eternal Temple. Atop its highest tower Aviana saw Azshara surrounded by her cabal, their rhythmic chanting building as they worked their dark ritual. As Aviana passed, the queen’s head snapped upward and they locked eyes. Aviana folded her wings close and hurtled toward the ground as a ray of purple light singed her tailfeathers.
Throwing her wings open again, she slowed to a glide and transformed as she reached the ground, talons stretching into legs and a feathered cloak wrapping around her. Nearby, treants battered the temple gates while Highborne cast withering spells upon them from the ramparts above. Aviana waited until the treants’ violet-skinned leader had summoned another pair of the wooden guardians, then stepped forward and bowed deeply. “Lord Cenarius,” she said.
“No longer do you answer to me, Raven,” said Cenarius. “Today we all stand side by side, to death or victory.”
“Then I am proud to call you friend,” said Aviana. “But saddened to be the bearer of dire news. The bears have fallen, and the Waywatcher’s forces are stalled by an army of satyrs. The demons are held in check, but our allies pay dearly in hopes of buying you success.”
Across the plaza, the temple gates buckled inward as the treants collapsed from exhaustion into a pile of leaves. On the ramparts, swarms of insects engulfed the sorcerers, driving them back into the temple. “Their sacrifice will not be in vain,” promised Cenarius. “Now, you must return to your mistress. Tell her that I am sorry it will end this way.” Without looking back, he strode into the blackness of the temple.
Aviana stretched her wings and took to the sky. Circling the temple, she flew out over the water. The sun was a mere sliver on the horizon, but it would set too late. The goddess would not be able to avert the coming battle. As the towers of the Eternal Temple were wreathed in mystical flame, Aviana felt it beginning. Looking down into the waters, she could sense the raging power deep beneath the surface. She made a silent prayer that it would never set foot on Kalimdor, then soared toward the rising disc of the moon.