Facta Non Verba

Alliance Guild • Arathor • US • Retail

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Redemption

The Fourth War between the Horde and the Alliance is over, and N'zoth has been defeated. The heroes of Azeroth prepare to venture into the Shadowlands, but what has become of Jin in the aftermath of his harrowing experience in Ny'alotha?

Facta Non Verba

Alliance Guild, Arathor, US

December 21, 2020 by JinTetra

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Dredd ascended the Path of a Hundred Steps with purpose, being careful to leave room for the many pandaren and grummles who were milling up and down the pass carrying materials and supplies bound for the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to the west. It had been a few weeks since N’zoth’s corruption had receded from this land following the old god’s “death,” and the mood among the locals was solemn, but hopeful. The paladin’s armor weighed heavily on him as he climbed, his thoughts trailing to the events of the past few days. The Fourth War was over, and N’zoth’s invasion halted, but the world had barely had time to take a breath before calamity struck yet again, this time in the form of a shattered sky above Northrend, a foreboding chasm leading to the Shadowlands, wrought by the former warchief and banshee queen Sylvanas.

A shadow fell over Dredd, and he stopped in his tracks, his hand reaching for the weapon at his side. He relaxed as he looked up and saw a blur of deep purple fly overhead, the beating of its wings stirring the air as the creature alighted atop the roof of the Tavern in the Mists just up ahead. Normally, the sight of a twilight dragon, even a small one such as this, would have been cause for alarm, but Dredd knew better in this case. The paladin crossed the courtyard, aware of the dragon’s watchful gaze as he made his way inside the establishment. As soon as he entered, a smartly-dressed pandaren with a long, thinly-braided beard approached him.

“Mister Tong?” Dredd asked, unsure.

“Just Tong,” the innkeeper smiled at his guest, gesturing towards an exit near the back of the room, “Your friend is in the garden outside. He is expecting you, I think. I will bring you both some tea.”

Dredd nodded his thanks and moved across to the other side of the building, emerging through the back door out onto a small terrace in the rear of the property. There, among the flowers and flowing water, he found the man he was looking for.

Jin sat cross-legged upon a raised mound of earth, unarmored, with his back to the tavern. A warm zephyr ruffled the fabric of his shirt, and he must have looked the picture of peace and tranquility to anyone who couldn’t see beneath the surface.

“No,” Jin spoke as Dredd approached. It sounded less like a statement and more like a plea.

“I haven’t asked you for anything yet,” Dredd had been uncertain what to expect, but composed himself quickly.

“I can’t come back,” Jin insisted, not turning to face his fellow paladin, “It’s not safe.”

Dredd took a pace forward, cautiously, though not out of fear of any bodily harm.

“Is it safe for you to be this close to the Vale? Even now that the corruption is gone?”

“It’s not gone,” Jin replied, a waver in his voice, “I can still hear it, wherever I go. But Wrathion suggested confronting it from a place of strength, and I fought many battles against it out there. And at least here, I have a place to rest and meditate.”

Dredd tilted his head towards the tavern.

“Tong says you were expecting me.”

“He likes to mess with travelers,” Jin replied flatly.

A smile crept across Dredd’s face. He felt the tension easing little by little, and ventured another few steps towards his friend, taking a seat at a nearby table just as Tong emerged and set down a tray laden with an ornate teapot and two clay cups.

“We need you back, pal,” Dredd urged as the kindly innkeeper took his leave, “Facta’s not the same without you.”

“I could have killed you,” came the pained response.

“Yeah, well,” Dredd glanced down at the table for a moment, picked up his cup, and took a long sip of the warm liquid before smiling slyly, “that’s your opinion.”

Jin was quiet for a minute or two, and then he finally arose from his spot and turned around. He looked worn, sleep-deprived, but the light was still present in his eyes. Slowly, he took the other seat at the table.

“How’s the arm?”

“Still a bit stiff,” Dredd flexed his left shoulder for emphasis.

“Consider parrying instead of blocking next time,” the hint of a smirk played on Jin’s lips, and the two paladins raised their cups to one another in solidarity.

The two guildmates drank tea together in quiet contemplation for a time. As the pot and the sun lowered steadily, Jin cleared his throat and stared at the table, searching for the words he needed.

“I can’t face them after what happened. Scam or Devra, or… I don’t want to see the look in their eyes-…”

“Nope,” Dredd cut him off, reaching across and pouring him another cup from the pot, “Don’t bullshit me. None of them blame you, and I think at least a part of you knows that. Don’t project your fear of yourself onto them. Trust me, no one thinks any less of you.”

Dredd paused, glancing off into the distance for a moment before coming back and topping off Jin’s cup, “Maybe Noquarter. Not sure. Hard to get a read on that guy.”

“I appreciate what you’re trying to do,” Jin offered meekly, “but I did monstrous things.”

“Out of grief, and out of a hatred fueled by N’zoth’s corruption,” Dredd countered, “but that’s over now. You killed it. By Magni’s beard, you saved the entire world!”

“Azeroth saved herself. I was just the conduit holding her Heart.”

“Wow,” Dredd scoffed, leaning back in his chair, “you are a hard guy to compliment, you know that?”

Jin laughed, despite himself. In truth, he had tried to stifle the immense pride he felt regarding his role in N’zoth’s demise, fearing it would only serve to exacerbate the vestiges of corruption in his mind. Yet, thinking on it now, the memory of Azeroth’s hope coursing through him filled him with a calm serenity, and for a moment, he allowed himself to forgive. Dredd sensed his friend’s emotional turn, and leaned forward.

“You saved others too,” he tilted his chin upward, and Jin turned his head to see the twilight dragon perched on the edge of the roof and looking down at them, “Wrathion told me how you found that little one. Maybe you saved each other?”

“Yeah,” Jin murmured, “we’ve… been through a lot, haven’t we?”

The dragon met the gaze of its new companion, lowering its head in veneration and issuing a low, throaty rumble. Jin smiled, then turned back to Dredd with a firmer look about him, his eyes alight with renewed fire.

“So,” the Nightblade said, taking the pot and pouring more tea for his fellow paladin, “tell me what happened in Northrend.”


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