Within her dreams, Idira passed Dalaran's Legerdemain Lounge on her way back from the Observatory, her arms laden with folders destined to go back to the archives. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee wafted from the open doors of the exclusive coffee house. She went inside, but there was no one there, the furniture stood against the walls, stacked away so the floor could be cleaned, the baristas gone and the coffee machines silent. Drawn by the intensifying scent, she went upstairs and pushed the door open to one of the guest rooms. She looked in and saw herself sleeping on the bed in Khadgar's sanctuary, the Leader of the Kirin Tor looking down at her, his expression aching with love.
‘Idira,’ he whispered, reaching out to brush the hair from her brow, ‘wake up.’
She stirred, languid, and opened her eyes. Khadgar sat on the edge of the bed, fully dressed, watching her, his eyes soft, filled with tenderness. On the bedside table, a mug of coffee steamed, its rich aroma filling the air. She smiled. The cause of her dream.
‘That coffee smells good,’ she murmured, indulging in a luxuriant stretch.
Khadgar leaned over and brushed his lips against hers, leaving behind his familiar scent, cedarwood, leather and warm earth. He turned and retrieved a wrapped bundle from the bed, presenting it with a flourish.
‘A little something from the Council's breakfast table,’ he said, looking pleased with himself as he opened it. A pile of croissants tumbled out, their warm buttery scent mixing with the coffee's. Idira's mouth watered. Croissants were a luxury only the very wealthy could afford.
She sat up and pulled a feathery tendril from the nearest pastry, exclaiming with delight as it melted, buttery and warm on her tongue. Khadgar held out her coffee, his eyebrow quirking, betraying his satisfaction. She took the mug and sipped, sighing. He really did conjure the best coffee.
‘Once you have breakfasted, we must work,’ he said, reaching out to tuck a stray lock of her hair behind her ear.
A tremor of pleasure rippled through her. ‘Together?’ she asked, popping another luxurious bite of croissant into her mouth.
He looked away, a shimmer of unease sliced over his features. He looked back at her again, his steel-grey eyes veiled. ‘Your ability to be able to transcend closed teleports has led the Council to believe that you might be able to open two barriers which so far no one else has found a way to overcome apart from brute force, which, if used would only make matters worse. Impossible, in fact.’
Idira leaned back against the headboard, eyeing the Leader of the Kirin Tor. He looked away again, but not before she saw a finger of dread slide behind his eyes.
‘Tell me,’ she whispered, bracing herself for the worst.
Khadgar got up and went to the fireplace, his gaze moving to the empty grate. He crossed his arms over his chest. ‘I believe you are aware Gul'dan has the body of the Betrayer and is using it to create an avatar for the Titan Sargeras; I recall you sorted the papers regarding that matter?’ He glanced up, abrupt, waiting for her affirmation, his look no longer that of a lover, but a leader, tense, burdened by the weight of his terrible responsibilities. Idira nodded, wary.
He began to pace, his eyes on the stone-flagged floor. ‘We believe the quickest way to stop what is to come is to remove the Betrayer's body from the Chamber of the Eye. Without a body, there is no avatar.’ He glanced at her again. ‘By using ancient magic, I have found the way in: a concealed and warded tunnel which cuts under the channel separating the Broken Shore from a small islet called Hope's End, leading straight into the foundation of the Tomb of Sargeras and the Chamber of the Eye. However, the wards have proven difficult to read. Even I cannot unlock the deepest ones. But the Council believes you can, since you are able to use closed teleports.’ He stopped his pacing, falling into his thoughts for several moments. He shook himself, continuing, ‘Well, at least we need to try. If you can read them, we will need you to open the way for the party going in tomorrow to retrieve not only the Betrayer's body but also the consort of Malfurion, the Lady Tyrande, who was abducted by Gul'dan over a week ago.’
Idira lifted her brow. She had braced herself for the worst and Khadgar had certainly delivered. She caught him watching her, intent. Nodding her understanding, she picked up another croissant and bit into it, wondering how he would be able to get them into the Legion's stronghold undetected. Her thoughts scattered, hijacked, as the most delightful, warm, sweet liquid swam over her taste buds. She lifted the pastry up, examining it. A dark brown liquid, viscous and glistening, pooled within the hollow centre of the croissant.
‘What is this?’ she asked, her mouth thick with its sticky sweetness.
Khadgar stopped pacing, taken aback. ‘Have you never tasted chocolate before?’
She didn't answer, she couldn't, she was in raptures, how could something as marvellous as this exist, and she had never heard of it? Uncaring of the stickiness of her fingers, she gobbled up the rest of the croissant, turning to root through the remaining ones, breaking them apart, searching for more chocolate. She found two more chocolate centres, her delight at her sudden bounty filling her with joy.
She glimpsed Khadgar's lips quirking into a smile as he returned to the bed and joined her, pushing himself up against the headboard, his legs stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. He conjured a mug of coffee, settling back to enjoy it, watching her as she ate, though his look was one of affection, not arousal.
With a satisfied sigh, she finished the last of her breakfast, casting a small spell to cleanse the chocolate from her hands. Khadgar eased his arm around her and brought her up against him. She settled into the crook of his arm and sipped the last of her coffee, content.
‘So, you are a frost mage,’ he said, his hand moved over her arm, warming her.
She scoffed. ‘I have no idea how you were able to figure that out.’
‘A wild guess,’ he said, wry as he set his empty mug onto the bedside table. ‘Do you suffer much from it?’
She nodded, biting her lip, recalling how numb she had been before he had arrived in the night, the cold grinding into her, relentless, brutal. He took hold of her chin and lifted her face to his, his eyes darkening. ‘That drives me crazy, just so you know.’
Unable to stop herself, she bit her lip harder, teasing him.
He groaned and pushed himself from the bed. ‘No, don't start that.’ He held out his hand to her. ‘Come, the font awaits. We have work to do.’
‘The font?’ she asked as she took his hand and let him pull her from her cocoon.
‘The locked door, down the hall, it lays within,’ he answered, giving her an oblique look. ‘It can carry our spirits into the corridors of time and space where we may move about undetected.’
She shuddered, repulsed by the thought of having to return to that dark doorway. ‘I read Medivh's notes regarding such a thing,’ she said, ‘though he did not call it a font. He said it is a dark relic from the time of the Faceless Ones, its main purpose to grant them a return from death, a kind of repeatable immortality paid for with the souls of innocents. It is a thing of pure evil.’
‘Yes, among other things, it was used for that,’ Khadgar admitted, terse. ‘But the font is also able to transcend time and space.’ He crossed his arms once more over his chest, continuing, ‘There will be wards in place. You must trust me, I will not let any harm come to you.’ He glanced at her naked body, his gaze stalling on the bruising imprint of his fingers against her hips. ‘I hurt you,’ he murmured, a look of shame shearing, abrupt, over his preoccupied expression. ‘Forgive me.’
She glanced at the marks he had left on her, a ripple of pleasure shimmering through her as she recalled the way he had held her fast in his grip as he took her, his lovemaking so passionate it had teetered on the brink of violence. She waved her hand. The injury faded. She smiled at him. ‘All better now.’
He turned away, uneasy. ‘I was too rough with you. I won't let that happen again.’
‘Oh?’ she teased. ‘That's a shame.’
He turned back, his voice hardening, clipped with hard-won restraint. ‘Stop. I beg you. Right now, you are the Council's best hope to open the way to the Chamber undetected. To do so you must travel with me through that unspeakable thing to a dark and terrible place. A place crafted out of the deepest evil, echoing with the cries of souls ripped free from living men, women and children. Idira, for the love of the Light, prepare yourself.’
‘Forgive me,’ she murmured, feeling her cheeks colour, chastened by both his look and his words. He might be her lover, but he was also the Leader of the Kirin Tor, a man overwhelmed by terrible responsibility, and deserving of her deepest respect. She closed her eyes and concentrated on manifesting her full regalia. Her Light awakened, weaving itself around her, tendrils of darting lights, moving up from her feet, over her body and down her arms. She opened her eyes. Her silver-white gown shimmered over her form, its neckline, waist and hips accented with glittering diamonds. Silver thread shot through the material, covering it with embroidered frost runes. She turned to the mirror. A silver circlet, embossed with glowing violet runes wove through her upswept hair. She held out her hand and a silver staff manifested, crackling with power, its crown encircled with threads of white light. Her Light settled, falling to a deep thrum inside her, active, yet passive, waiting, anticipating. The temperature in the room dropped, frost iced over her skin, making it glimmer in the light of the arcane lamps.
Khadgar gazed at her, reverent. ‘My Lady,’ he breathed, sinking to his knee, ‘I am not worthy of you.’
Dismayed, she touched his shoulder, urging him back to his feet. He rose, shaking his head, marvelling at her transformation, his eyes following the darting tendrils of violet light encompassing her body.
‘Never do that again,’ she said, earnest. ‘To you, at least, I must be Idira.’
‘And so it shall be, my love,’ he answered, soft.
‘Then let us do this thing,’ she said, her Light resonating, beating within her like a bird trapped in a cage, desperate to be freed, driving her onward. ‘I am ready. Take me to the font.’