• Published 31st Aug 2020
  • 405 Views, 22 Comments

The Pony Loa - Leila Drake



A troll couple accidentally summons ponies to Azeroth. And a flustered human. But for the trip back they need the help of a mage as powerful as Twilight Sparkle...

  • ...
2
 22
 405

Chapter 18: A Magical Gift

When Eclipse woke up, the first thing he noticed was Darren, fully clothed and washing his face. It was probably what had disturbed his sleep. As the human turned around, Eclipse was surprised by how tired he looked. There were dark shades under his eyes, almost like when he had been undead. And he looked even paler than usual.

"Mornin'," Darren rasped as he saw that Eclipse was awake. "You wrote a message?" The knight pointed at the tablecloth.

For a second, Eclipse had no idea what Darren was talking about. Then the memory returned to him. He slipped out of bed and trotted over to the table.

Wow. He had made a real mess. There were dots of ink all over the table, not only the cloth, and the characters he had written were scratchy and looked like those of a five-year-old.

"Uh... yeah. I didn't want to forget. And there was no paper."

"So you sacrificed the tablecloth, I get it," Darren smirked. "But how do you know that Levinia was taken? Did Tarik tell you?"

"No, Levinia did. In a dream." Eclipse shrugged apologetically. "I didn't want to forget," he repeated. "I really hope she's okay. She sounded pretty scared."

Darren nodded. He exhaled and sat down on his side of the bed.

"We'll find her," he promised. "Nylene and Tarik agreed to help with that. Nylene can see auras, that will come in handy when we search the park where we last saw her. And three people can cover more ground."

"You mean four! I'm gonna help, of course!" Eclipse said confidently, already reaching for his shield.

"We need your help with something else."

"Huh?"

"Remember the raven?" Darren said, raising an eyebrow.

"Spunky? Sure! So did you really meet him?" Eclipse asked, excited. "What's he look like? Is it even a he? Is it a human or some other creature?"

"Slow down, kid." Darren chuckled. He bent forward to find his boot. When he had come back late the shoe had somehow gone further under the bed than made sense. He could not reach it. Darren stood up and knelt down, feeling around under the bed. There it was. The other boot stood innocently in front of the closet. Putting them on, Darren said, "So it turns out that 'Spunky' ia a human mage. And he can probably help us with the portal back home."

"Wh-, that's great!" Eclipse exclaimed. Then his ears folded back. "Except Levinia is gone and we gotta find her first, don't we?"

"That's true. But it will take him a while to make sense of Twilight's notes. So we should do both things at the same time," said Darren. When he saw Eclipse's confused expression, he explained, "We gave him Twilight's notes."

"Are you sure that's okay with her?" Eclipse frowned. "I don't think she'd like it if some mage read her notes. He might use them for his..." He looked at the floor, trying to remember the phrase. "Personal gain."

"Not him," said Darren firmly.

"Must be some mage." Eclipse was impressed. "Do you know him? Are you friends?"

"Not quite yet. But I'm willing to take a leap of faith," Darren admitted. He stood up and beckoned for Eclipse to follow him. Eclipse's stomach seemed to agree; it made itself heard with a loud rumble.

As they walked down the stairs, Eclipse realized something.

"Wait a minute," he said. "His name isn't really Spunky, is it?"

"You'll know soon enough," Darren said cryptically.

Well, that sounded ominous. Who was that guy? Was he really that trustworthy? Darren was not the most trusting type, Eclipse knew that, but asking him to help that mage? A sense of dread wormed its way up in his stomach.

"And... and am I going to stay with him?"

Darren halted. When he turned to Eclipse he looked very serious.

"Only if you agree. We'll meet him first. And then you get to decide. If you don't want to go with him you can stay at the inn while we do our investigation."

Relieved, Eclipse nodded.


Eclipse seemed satisfied with that answer for the rest of the morning. After having breakfast and discussing their course of action with Nylene and Tarik, it was agreed that Eclipse would get to decide whether or not he would stay with Khadgar. Nylene slipped the wizard's name eventually, getting a stare and an incredulous laugh from Eclipse. When nobody else laughed he slowly realized they were serious. As the colt's eyes wandered from one to the other, Darren wondered why he was so shocked.

Still, Eclipse was convinced, "I bet he's gonna make us a portal in no time!"

Darren did not have the heart to tell him that these things took time when you were not familiar with someone else's spell. He remembered studying his own libram, memorizing all the Light spells and prayers. Five-hundred and sixty pages were not a joke. It had taken him several years until he had mastered only half of them. Now the tome was probably either in the Chapel of Light's Hope, retrieved by the remaining crusaders, or rotting away in the forest where he had lost it. He could still remember some of the prayers even though he had not said them in over a decade. It was still just a thing, though, and could be replaced. Unlike friends. Unlike Levinia.

Today, the weather was significantly better than yesterday. Scattered clouds chased each other across a blue sky and it was windy but dry. There were a lot more people on the streets and Darren had trouble to keep his eye on Eclipse. The colt suggested to sit on his shoulders before he could open his mouth to say the exact same thing. Eclipse was really considerate for a boy his age. Darren remembered his own sons and smirked. They usually had not noticed when someone had a problem unless they had been told about it head on. And Eclipse's senses seemed to become even keener over time. Every time someone was in a bad mood he immediately noticed it.

"Are you okay?" Eclipse asked. "Is it about Levinia?"

"I'm fine," Darren assured him. "We're almost there."

"Is he nice? Khadgar, I mean?" Eclipse changed the subject.

"Hm. Yes. From what I've seen so far."

They passed a gate that led to the Mage Quarter. It looked quite different from yesterday. Now Darren noticed the grass that covered the space between the houses. The only paved area was in the centre of the quarter, leading straight to the Wizard's Sanctum.

"Oh, good. Because it would really suck if he was a jerk. Or the kind of wizard who has no idea how to interact with people."

Darren grinned. "Like a geek?"

"Yeah, like a geek."

"Being good at something doesn't mean automatically that you're, as you put it, unable to interact properly," Darren said slowly.

"No, I guess not. But think about it. When somepony spends all their time studying one thing they have less experience with other stuff, do they?"

"I suppose you do have a point. Here we are."

Without hesitation, Eclipse jumped off Darren's shoulders. With the weight gone, Darren staggered for a second. Spreading his little wings, Eclipse glided to the ground. His physical strength was improving, too, as it seemed. Maybe it was time for him to take flight lessons? Darren should probably ask Levinia about it.

"Wow," Eclipse whispered, his jaw wide open. "That is a real wizard tower. Awesome!" The colt pointed at the ramp that spiraled up to the tower's entrance. "How does it not fall down? There's no columns or ropes!"

"Magic, obviously," Darren muttered. "Come on."

"Right."


"This is the spot?" Tarik put his hands on his hips, frowning sceptically.

Nylene shrugged. She watched a few visitors hurrying out of the cemetery as soon as they spotted the death knight and demon hunter walking down the main path.

"Darren said the cemetery was the last place he saw her," Tarik went on.

"Yes, I was there." Nylene looked around. She pointed at a path leading to an outlook, right next to the small lake. "Here, that must be it."

She sniffed. Turning her head towards Tarik, Nylene grimaced. "Well, there is something. But I cannot tell exactly... what..." Crouching down, she scraped at the ground. She took a bit of the dirt into her mouth, then spat it out. "Humans," she said, feeling certain about it. "But the trace isn't good enough. Too many other people were here the last day. At least a dozen, I think."

"Let me try." Tarik drew his sword. They both had brought their weapons and Tarik had put on part of his armour as a precaution. "If we combine our efforts we might able to narrow it down."

"How?"

"I can sense spirits, you can sense auras. That's got to be good for something," Tarik said. "If I use the sword to channel..."

"Sir! Ma'am!" A voice called out to them, sounding alert.

They perked up and turned around. Oh, great, a guard. Human. And telling by his aura he was probably a warrior. There was not an ounce of magic in him. Not really a threat. But it was probably not good to cause a ruckus. They had to think fast.

"Oh, good that you're here," Nylene said quickly, resisting the urge to flash him a smile. "We are having a problem."

"What are you doing? Summoning rituals aren't permitted here," said the guard. He was tall, almost her height, and lean. Besides his sword and spear she counted only one hidden knife. And he was nervous, even scared.

"Oh, no, we weren't going to perform one," Nylene said quickly, deciding to tell the truth. "We are looking for a friend. She has gone missing and this is the last place she was seen."

"A... friend?" That hesitation in his voice. As if demon hunters could not have friends. Nylene felt hot anger boiling up.

"Yes," Nylene said with emphasis. "A friend. Did you guard this place yesterday as well?"

"No, that was someone else."

"Did they report anything suspicious? She would not have gone voluntarily," Tarik chimed in.

"Who are you people?" Awesome, the guard was getting more suspicious with every passing second. She had to act fast before he would do anything stupid.

"We don't want any trouble," said Nylene. She waved at Tarik who reluctantly sheathed his sword.

"Still, if you do need help I need your names," the guard insisted.

"Very well," Nylene sighed. "Nylene Felbane."

"Tarik Aydin."

"And your friend is called...?"

"Levinia." Nylene turned to Tarik. "Does she have a last name? I never asked."

"I don't think so," Tarik said. He seemed slightly amused.

"Is she human?" the guard asked, rummaging in a small bag at his belt to get a notepad. The spear was leaned against his shoulder. What a newbie. She could overpower him in four seconds. One fist to knock the helmet off, then a hit against his throat and he would be unconscious. Easy. What would his soul taste like? Nylene blinked, forcing herself to focus.

"No, a pony," Tarik said.

"What?" The guard gave off a short, slightly shrill laugh.

"Not like you think," Tarik said, now annoyed. "She's sentient. About this height," he held his flat hand to his hip, "floating mane and tail, bird wings. And she's translucent."

"Okay, that one's new. I didn't know death knights even made jokes." The guard put his notepad away. "Though I've heard funnier ones, I'll admit."

"Can I kill him?" Tarik asked, his tone suggesting he was getting angry. But his aura glowed in a mixture of green and violet, dotted with red. He was both annoyed and impatient but not in a killing mood. And he would not be so stupid to kill a guard in the middle of the city.

"Hm," Nylene pretended to consider Tarik's question. She scratched her side with her talon-like fingernails. The guard clung to his spear, hurrying to put some distance between them.

"See," said Tarik, "that was a joke." He huffed. "But the part about Levinia missing is not. She's a ghost, surely a Guard of the Stormwind Cemetery has seen his fill of those?"

"No! This is sacred ground, protected by the Church of Light. They m-made sure that there's no ghosts here." That guard was a nervous wreck by now. Nylene almost pitied him. He was very young, only eighteen years or so, probably straight out of training with no experience whatsoever. No wonder they put him here instead of the field of battle.

"Oh, great. So your job is to keep people from desecrating the graves or being inappropriately loud?" Tarik asked.

"P-pretty much," the human admitted.

"Would you please ask your fellow guards if they have seen a pony ghost being abducted? We'd really appreciate the help," Nylene said sweetly. "We are staying at the Gilded Rose."

The guard nodded, lost for words.

"Thank you kindly." Nylene gave him a tight-lipped smile. "And by the way, I have more than one friend. Just because I look demonic that doesn't mean you get to lump me in with the Legion."

"You should keep hold of that spear," Tarik remarked dryly, "but in close combat your sword would be more useful." He turned to Nylene. "I believe we are done here."

Nylene nodded. "Agreed. Farewell, Mr. Guard. Thank you for your service." She said the last sentence without irony.

They walked away, not giving the petrified human another glance. Nylene could have sworn she heard him exhaling very slowly, muttering, "Dear Light."

"I wonder if he is actually going to ask around," Tarik mused.

"I do hope so." Nylene sighed. "Well, that was a big waste of time."

"Not necessarily," Tarik said. "We can still try to track Levinia when he leaves. Or one of us stands watch at the crossing of the path while the other tries it."

That sounded reasonable. Nylene nodded. "Let's do that," she said.

"How many friends do you have, if I may ask?"

"With you - five," Nylene admitted, pulling a face. Her throat felt tight.

"I see," Tarik muttered. "Go on, do your thing. I will stand guard first."

They waited for the guard to get back on his patrol, then quickly walked over to their spot. As Nylene crouched down again, closing her eyes - something Tarik could not see because of her bandage - she tried to calm herself and reach out with her demonic sight.

"I consider you my friend, too," Tarik said suddenly, his voice quiet.

Nylene nodded. The lump in her throat grew bigger. What was going on with her? It was suddenly hard to focus. But she had to find Levinia. She was a demon hunter, how hard could it be to find a ghost? She would deal with those confusing emotions later.


Darren joined them half an hour later. He only had his sword with him and Eclipse was not by his side.

"So he went with Khadgar?" Tarik asked.

Darren nodded. "He'll be fine. Once he realized he is going to help a man who's on his epic Hearthstone card he was hooked. And, of course, the whole idea of getting home sooner."

Nylene smiled. "I can imagine," she said.

"Any luck?" Darren asked.

"No." Tarik huffed. "We met a guard, told him to ask around, but the track itself has gone cold. Muddied up by passers-by."

"Did you try to look for anima residue -?"

"Yes, and also for traces of combat magic," Nylene said. "Nothing. They were quick and efficient. We have no way of finding her."

"Damn it!" Darren angrily pressed his lips together. The grass at his feet wilted and crumbled into icy flakes.

"I am sorry," Nylene said, her shoulders sagging forward. Even the wings under her cloak were drooping. Tarik had never seen a sad demon hunter before. "I wish I could do more."

"Not your fault." Darren said curtly. He exhaled sharply, pacing up and down. "Is there - no other way?"

Tarik reluctantly shook his head.

"Then thank you for your help." Darren spun around, ready to leave.

Nylene swiftly stepped over to him, touching his arm. "Where are you going?"

"To clear my head. And then to the guard house to find out who was on duty yesterday."

Tarik raised a finger. "I'll check the guards. You go and cool off."

"Alright. Well, then. Meet me back at the Rose?"

"In an hour," Tarik suggested.

Nodding, Darren stalked away, Nylene quickly following him. She turned her head, nodding at Tarik who sighed and rolled his eyes. What had he gotten himself into?


Nylene followed Darren out of the cemetery and down the narrow paved road. They passed a gazebo with stone benches, then he turned right. The road meandered between tall stone houses, then it opened to a wide plaza, lined by trees that rustled in the wind. A gigantic church stood right at the centre of it. People with bright auras went in and out of the massive wooden portal. The Cathedral.

"Darren..." Nylene tried again. "Where are you going?"

The human spun around, apparently just now noticing her. He sighed and shrugged helplessly.

"Would you like to go inside?" Nylene pointed at the cathedral.

Darren hesitated.

"Yes. Yes, maybe you're onto something," he muttered. "Let's go, then."

Nylene shook her head. "It is not a place for me," she said. "They'd kick me out the second I stepped foot in there. Demon blood, remember? There are probably protective charms, too. And besides, I cannot connect with the Light, not even Elune's Light. There is no point for me to go in there. You go ahead, Paladin."

"I'm not a -"

"I know, Darren. But in a sense you still are, aren't you? Don't you and Eclipse meditate?"

"Well - I try."

"Then I will wait here, on this bench, and watch people. And you can clear your head."

"You sure?"

"Yes! Just go. And pray for me, too, while you're at it."

Darren nodded and slowly walked towards the cathedral's door.


Darren had never been in a church this big. The cathedral's hall was so large that his house would fit into it at least a dozen times. It was quiet, considering its size and stone surfaces. Only the murmur and footsteps of visitors and priests filled the silence. There was a stone table in the front where priests could put down their books, candles and chalices when they performed holy rituals. Three stone steps led up to that area. Sacred symbols made of gold framed the altar island. As he slowly approached the centre of the hall, Darren noticed people in the left side aisle, sitting and lying on mattresses and carpets. They had long, pointed ears and violet skin - Night Elf refugees. A robed woman held her hands over the shoulder of an elf. Golden light emanated from her palms, partly healing an injury.

Even the physical light was soothing. It fell through the tall windows like through treetops. Dust danced in the sunbeams that reached the marble floor. The smell of incense lingered in the air. This place felt safe. Safe and peaceful.

There were benches in the right side aisle but Darren decided to meditate his usual way. He found a spot next to a column and sat down on his feet. The floor was cold against his shin bones. Thankful that he had not put on his leather armour - it would have made sitting like this uncomfortable - he took the sword belt off and put it down on the floor. Closing his eyes, Darren rotated his shoulders, trying to relax.

He still could not connect with the Light but at least it was quiet here. And sitting like this, focusing on his breath, almost always made him calmer. He was thankful that he had showed Eclipse how to meditate. Every time he taught the colt something Darren was reminded of things long forgotten - or suppressed. It was probably good even though the memories were often both glad and bitter.

But he wanted to focus on the here and now. Once grounded, Darren would be able to keep on searching.

Darren tried to let go of conscious thought and allowed himself to drift. Every time he noticed worries or half-baked plans coming up he reminded himself to focus on his breath.

He almost forgot where he was. His breath slowed down, so did his heartbeat.

There was a pull in his shoulders and neck as the muscles relaxed one by one.

Darren stayed like this for a few dozen breaths.

Footsteps came closer. He blinked. Blue lights danced before his eyes as he opened them.

Yes, there was someone approaching him. A man in white and golden robes, maybe around fourty. Short blonde hair and a friendly, round face, but with a dark frown upon it.

"Sir, you can't be - here..." The priest's voice faltered as Darren raised his head, looking at him. "You're alive," the man muttered, surprised. "Sorry to disturb you."

Darren raised his brows and nodded politely, biting back an answer. As soon as the priest walked away, Darren stood up, shouldered his sword and left the sacred hall. His meditation had been cut short but at least he was a little more in control of his emotions. That would have to do for now. He decided not to waste another thought on the priest thinking he was unworthy of entering the cathedral. He would not contemplate how he had supposedly lost the right to - no, stop. He had a job to do. Find Levinia. Everything else could wait.


"Khadgar, Sir? Can I ask you something?" Eclipse raised a hoof as if he was in class.

"Just Khadgar is fine. And sure, ask away." The wizard looked up from his notes and put his quill down.

Eclipse flipped through the yellowed pages of Twilight's journal and sighed.

"I read only ten pages to you," he said. "But most of it is like gibberish. Does it make any sense to you at all?"

Khadgar chuckled. "Part of it. I suppose some of it gets lost in translation but the formulas check out. Her approach to creating a portal is... unorthodox but sound. In fact, based on this I can assume that her Arcane magic is more stable than that of most mages. Who is that Twilight, exactly?"

Eclipse raised his eyes to look around the tower. When Khadgar had asked him to step into the blue magic circle he had conjured up, Eclipse had already half expected to get teleported to a different location. Darren had told him that this Karazhan place was where he had been yesterday so it had to be alright. But being told to never leave Khadgar's sight... This tower was probably very big. Or maybe there were dangerous things in other rooms. Eclipse was curious what he would find if he followed those stairs winding through the tower. He could only see lots of curved bookshelves from here, stuffed with hundreds, probably even thousands of tomes and books. But he also wanted to prove to Darren that he could rely on him. So he would do this boring reading as long as was necessary. Or at least until his eyes would get too tired. Whichever came first.

"Eclipse?" Khadgar's worried voice brought him back to the present.

"Sorry. Uh... Twilight Sparkle is... the Princess of Friendship."

"She is a pony like you, isn't she?"

"Well, sorta. Yes. Although I'm a special case. She's an actual, normal pony. Well, except she started as a unicorn, as far as I know anyway, and now she's an alicorn."

"I'm not sure I am following," Khadgar said slowly.

Eclipse grimaced. He never had to explain ponies before. "Uh... it's like an upgrade? She gained wings and got more powerful. And now she's like royalty. Though, since her brother is a Prince I guess she was royalty anyway..." He rubbed his muzzle.

"I see. But she is a mage?"

Eclipse nodded. "Yes. Yes, she is a mage. I think even the most powerful mage in Equestria, except maybe for the other princesses."

"Are there any kings or queens?" Khadgar raised an eyebrow. "These princesses had to come from somewhere."

Eclipse laughed. "It's a title thing. We had it in history class. We have no queens or kings because those often abused their power. With the title of Princess... how do I say that in Common... there's that promise. Not to abuse power. Like King Sombra did, for example."

Khadgar quickly picked up his quill and wrote more notes. The ink splattered across the parchment but he did not seem to care.

"Why is that important?" Eclipse asked, raising an eyebrow. He ruffled his wings. "What does it have to do with portals?"

"Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You see, Eclipse, portals can be quite a problem. We have a big one on Azeroth and it got us into all sorts of trouble. Like two invasions, for instance. And the other portals were often just as bad."

"Oh." Eclipse's ears folded back. "That's... different from what I've heard about Twilight's portals. I think she just made friends. It's kind of her thing, with her being the Princess of Friendship and all."

"Do you know her personally?"

"Not really, just a bit. She's friends with Darren and Levinia. I was at her castle once. She's really nice but..." Eclipse felt heat rushing up his cheeks.

"Intimidating?" Khadgar suggested with a raised brow.

"No! No, that's not it. It's just... I kinda got everypony in danger when I was there. I wasn't able to control my powers yet. We were really lucky that my Mom was there... and Darren, too."

Khadgar put down his quill and folded his hands, giving Eclipse his full attention.

"What happened?" he asked quietly.

"I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about it. We're trying to keep a low profile." Eclipse sighed, rubbing his eyes.

Khadgar grinned. "Sorry to burst your bubble but you're way beyond that. And if your friend Darren trusts me with these," he pointed at Twilight's notes, "I am sure he would be alright with you telling me more."

That did make sense. Either you trusted somebody or you did not. Darren had decided to trust this wizard. So Eclipse could, too, obviously.

"Okay, then. Well, I'm not a regular pegasus. I'm a Shadow Pony. They found me when was a bit younger. In the snow in the Frozen North. That's... I think it's a lot like Northrend. With rocks and ice. And I was adopted into a pony family. But a few months ago, my Void powers... awakened, I guess. And then everything got really complicated..."


It was dark and silent. Levinia had not known that one could be both bored and scared at the same time. Scared because she did not know what her captors would do with her. Bored because nothing was happening. She just sat at the bottom of this stupid bottle, in wisp form, and gazed at the opposite wall. Was she all alone in here?

She had tried to contact Eclipse when she had heard him calling her name but she was not sure if it had worked or not. The only thing she could do was wait, and that was what she had done. For an entire day, she estimated. The room had no windows but a faint light had shone through the slit under the door. First, an orange light, then white, then red again. And now it was gone.

Maybe there was something she could do. She could try to get stronger. Maybe Levinia could find a way to get out of this bottle on her own. There was a chance that her friends would not find her. She had to act on the assumption that she was all alone.

They had said the seal was not foolproof. Could she move the bottle?

Levinia circled around in the small container, speeding up until her light was a blur, a blue circle. Then, she changed direction and slammed herself against the glass.

Nothing. Not even a little sound. The bottle had not moved by the fraction of an inch.

She tried again, this time directing her blow towards the corked bottle neck.

Nope.

Right, she was made of light, wasn't she. And Light could not move objects in this shape. She was not strong enough. If she had the power to focus herself into an extremely narrow beam... maybe she could burn a hole into the glass? But maybe the seal only broke from the outside.

Dizzy as Tartarus, Levinia sank to the bottom again. She had to come up with something new. At least she was not in pain. But being alone was not great, either. Her friends were probably worried sick by now.


Darren waited. Sitting on the same plinth that Tarik had sat on, he watched the water in the basin freeze over. The ice crystals formed slowly, deliberately. Then, he willed them to liquefy again. He was still angry but after a day of looking for Levinia he was also tired. Well - more tired.

He had been told that Khadgar would return Eclipse at Seven. Now it was half past.

Finally, the air before him crackled and fizzled. Space bent and twisted in ways it should not and a human and a pony took shape.

"Darren!" Eclipse ran over to him and hugged him before he could even stand up.

Darren cast a suspicious glance at Khadgar who simply shrugged. "He was a little bored in the end."

Blushing, Eclipse let go of Darren and said, "Sorry. It's just that I hate math."

"I gathered. Well, thank you anyway, Eclipse. We've gotten a little closer to cracking this. I think another few days, a few tests to be on the safe side and you and your friends can go home."

"Speaking of," Darren stood up, "about Levinia..."

"Did you find her yet? Is she okay?" Eclipse asked, slightly out of breath.

Darren shook his head. "No trace of her."

Eclipse froze. His ears folded back, his wings hung limp. He slumped down, his rump hitting the carpet with a muffled thud. "Nothing?" he whispered.

"Nothing. The enemy was thorough, we could not track her down. And they were fast. Nobody saw what happened, not even the guards." Darren sighed heavily and rubbed his neck. "I'm at a loss. Nylene and Tarik tried to help but they did not find anything, either."

"You've been searching all day?" Khadgar assumed.

Darren nodded curtly.

Tears formed in the corners of Eclipse's eyes. "I didn't really think she'd disappear like that and not come back," he admitted. "I thought we'd just find her and that would be it."

"Sadly, life doesn't work that way. We've been incredibly lucky so far. But it seems our luck has run out." Darren sat down on the plinth again.

Khadgar rubbed his palms against each other as if he was cold - or lost for words.

"But I saw her in my dream," Eclipse insisted, wiping his nose. "There is some connection. It's just too weak. But it's there."

"Vol'Shalai is the one with the strong connection to her," Darren muttered.

"Why did he go away, then?" Eclipse cried, throwing his hooves into the air. "That rule is so stupid!"

"What rule?" Khadgar asked, reaching into the bag at his belt, looking for something.

"No Horde in Stormwind," Darren explained. He noticed that Eclipse's eyes were darkening. It was just in the corners of his eyes. Was it the Void? Darren's hand twitched and he had to keep himself from reaching for his sword.

Khadgar hummed thoughtfully. He had apparently found what he had been looking for in his bag. He knelt down to get on eye level with Eclipse.

"Here, these are for you." Two stones were in his hands. One of them was of a bright purple with an eye and three arrows engraved into it. The other one was of a pure white. A blue, slightly glowing spiral was the motif on this one. It looked like something Darren had seen before but he could not remember where.

"What are they?" Eclipse asked, carefully accepting the two stones. He blinked his tears away - and the darkness. Running his hoof over the smooth surface of the stones, he examined them closely. "Wait, I think I know what this one is," he said, pointing at the white stone. "It's a hearthstone, isn't it?"

"Very good," Khadgar praised him. "That's right. And the other one works almost the same way. This purple one ist a special hearthstone."

"How - how do they work?"

"When you take the purple one into your hoof and focus very hard it will bring you to my tower," Khadgar explained. "Be careful not to lose it. Only you can use it to teleport but it still can be used to track you down."

Eclipse nodded slowly.

"The other one is not bound yet. I suggest you bind it to the place you are staying at so you can get there at any time."

"How the hay do I do that?" Eclipse asked.

"It needs an anchor," said Khadgar. "Ask someone you trust and who is at that place often to touch the stone while you are holding it. You need to be in the place you want to teleport back to."

"Uh, okay. Sounds complicated."

Darren cleared his throat. "We'll manage. If I serve as an anchor in our room, will that work? Even when I am somewhere else afterwards?"

Khadgar nodded. "Yes."

"Can I change the place?" Eclipse asked. "I mean, when I want to sleep somewhere else?"

"Yes." Khadgar smiled.

"Didn't you give Levinia the same kind of stone? As the purple one?" Darren asked. "Couldn't she use it to teleport here?"

"No, that other stone was just a stone. A symbol to tell the guards of the tower that she was allowed to be here." Khadgar spread his arms. "If I had known..."

Darren waved it off.

"Why are you giving me these?" Eclipse asked, his eyes still on the precious stones. The blue line on the hearthstone shone and glittered.

"I can't keep teleporting in and out of the Sanctum on a daily basis," said Khadgar. "People will start to notice. And officially, I'm staying in Karazhan. But if you are the one who teleports..."

"... they won't notice that," Eclipse finished the sentence. "I see. Thanks, Khadgar. I'll be careful with these, I promise."

"I know you will."

"That is a very precious gift," Darren remarked. He eyed the wizard who just smiled.

"Eclipse is special," said Khadgar. "And I want that portal to work, too. It would be great if we could ally with a friendly world for once."

"Ally against whom? The Horde?" Darren asked sharply.

"No. Against forces that threaten our worlds. We just defeated the Legion and the Old God N'Zoth but I am pretty sure that they are not the last enemies we will have to face. And, of course, we could trade goods, information, technology... Don't you think it would be to the advantage of both worlds, Azeroth and Equestria, if we could establish a permanent connection?"

That actually sounded appealing. But the ponies were strong even though their cheery attitude and friendliness suggested otherwise to the unknowing visitor. And besides, Darren did not have the right to decide for their world. Was it really necessary to make them known to Azeroth? Would it not attract the Greedy and the Ruthless? The last thing Darren wanted was ponies at the business end of an invader's weapon.

Darren exhaled. "That is not my choice to make," he said eventually. "We'd have to discuss it with the leaders of Equestria. And what does the king think about it?"

"I haven't told him yet," said Khadgar, "since he is missing."

"Oh. Right," Darren muttered. "So it's not a decision we have to make right away."

"No. I would keep the portal a secret until we know how to proceed. Until then you will have time to discuss the matter with the Princesses."

"The Pr-... Eclipse, what did you tell him?" Darren asked carefully.

"Pretty much everything," Eclipse said with a small voice. "Was that wrong?"

Darren huffed, then he rubbed his eyes. "It's fine. We'll be fine. And somehow we will find Levinia and bring her home. I promise."