That evening, as they sat together pushing the foul mixture around their plates, Sonora looked closely at him. He looked unnaturally worn, though she guessed he was only middle aged.
“What is your name?” Sonora asked.
“They call me Ultraking, Highness, and Majesty,” he said, his face twisting at the words. “They have quite a sense of humor.”
“I did not ask what they call you,” Sonora replied. “I asked you for your name.”
He smiled bitterly at her. “It has been a long while since someone called me by my name. It is Aleron.”
“I am Sonora.” Silence made her nervous, so she said, “Tell me about yourself.”
Aleron blanched. “There is not much to speak of,” he said shortly. Sonora looked at him in surprise at his cold response, and he added gently, “I prefer not to talk about myself; why not tell me about yourself?”
Sonora explained about her father and her trip to Stormwind as she had to Markus. Aleron listened with some interest, having not had anyone to talk to in a long while. His mind wandered to a similar scene in a much different place. A table next to a warm fire; a young girl chattering on about the Kirin Tor and friends and the future…
As she finished, Aleron sighed deeply. “I think we should go to sleep,” he told her. “There is no way to know what they plan for us tomorrow. Goodnight, Sonora. I wish we had met under better circumstances.”
“As do I, Aleron. Good night.”
The next morning, they had barely gotten through breakfast when the door opened and the now familiar figures entered. There were no comments, no taunts. They were eerily silent, and Aleron and Sonora looked at each other with raised eyebrows.
In a few seconds, the guards outside their door joined the warlocks, and Aleron eyed them warily. “Come here.” Neither moved. The night elf glared from under her hood. “This will be easier for you if you comply, but you will do as I ask regardless.” Suddenly the two guards were at their sides, and in the next moment, held them tightly.
“Turn them so they face each other,” the night elf commanded. The guards followed orders, and Aleron and Sonora looked at each other. Aleron could see the terrified look in the draenei’s eyes, and tried to silently reassure her.
“Are you ready?” the warlock asked her short, hooded companion, who merely nodded. “Then let us begin.” The gnome stepped forward and began to channel some kind of spell on Sonora.
Some aspects of the spell Aleron recognized. They are trying a direct siphoning! Aleron realized suddenly, knowing that it could lethally overwhelm the young draenei. “Stop!” he shouted.
“Silence!” the night elf hissed, and the orc holding Aleron drew a sword and held it effectively against the human’s neck.
The gnome finished her spell. Sonora felt strange, and the concern on Aleron’s face combined with his shout terrified her. She watched as the night elf approached him and began to cast her own spell, and the black circle seemed to descend into Aleron’s body, causing him to twist and wrench painfully.
“Now!” The gnome and night elf together began to chant, channeling what Aleron knew must be a complex matrix. He wished he could trace it, examine it, find its flaws; but the unnatural power inside him made it impossible to focus. And then the bands of light began to move out of him. He groaned at the familiar and unpleasant soul-sucking feeling, and doubled over as it intensified. Sonora gasped, but before she had time to consider Aleron’s fate, the full force of the magic struck her. At first, it was like a small pang, but it grew and grew, radiating through her body. She cried out fruitlessly as the burning sensation she felt increased ten fold, and she felt as though she would certainly burn from the inside out. Her head began to throb, and then it felt as if her whole body was vibrating. She completely lost herself in the pain, not seeing or hearing anything but the increasing sensations in her own body.
“No!” Aleron cried out, seeing Sonora wracked with pain. I will not be the reason she dies! He fought against the darkness using him and tried to focus. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to probe; to find the place within him from which the flow originated. It took precious time. He pushed onward, finally finding the end of the spell matrix; the thread that tied the two of them together. With the last bit of energy he had, he tugged at it with his mind, whispering a counterspell and successfully unraveling it enough to break the flow.
He fell to his hands and knees, winded, and looked over at Sonora. She flopped, completely lifeless in the guard’s arms.
“How dare you!” the night elf yelled.
“Never mind,” said her counterpart. “I would still call this progress.” The night elf nodded, but continued to stare furiously at the mage.
“Leave them.” The guards dropped their victims like sacks of grain, and Sonora landed with an unceremonious thud.
Aleron crawled to the place Sonora lay. “Sonora,” he said hoarsely. “Sonora, can you hear me?” He could see her shallow breaths, but she did not respond to him; did not even flinch. “Not again! Do not let this happen again!” Aleron carried her to the makeshift bed, biting back against the sorrow he felt within him; she reminded him so much of another lifeless form…