The sky above Aerie Peak beckoned Kurdran Wildhammer like the distant glow of a campfire on a frigid winter night. After twenty long years trapped on the hellish world now known as Outland, he was home. Never once had he regretted joining the Alliance expedition to battle the orcish Horde on its homeworld, but over the harsh years there the longing to see this sky had burned in his heart.
His gryphon, Sky’ree, glided above him with three of her kin, as vibrant as she had ever been over the last two decades. He craved to be up there with her and feel the mountain air rushing against his face. Fate had ordained that he would walk the earth on two legs, but the sky was where he felt free. That was Sky’ree’s greatest gift to him. More than her ferocity during war or her friendship during peace, it was flight. For now, though, he would let her soar in the sky on her own.
Kurdran took a deep breath and surveyed his home: verdant forests stretched out in all directions; Wildhammer dwarves milled about in shops and homes along the mountain’s slopes; and the colossal aviary, a stone enclosure sculpted in the image of one of the noble gryphons, towered atop Aerie Peak. Everything was just as he had left it.
He drew a small iron scepter from his side, wrapped in strands of grass and adorned with gryphon feathers. It wasn’t a weapon—his battle-worn stormhammer was hanging on his back—it was a reminder. On Outland, the scepter had become almost mystical in nature, a symbol of who he was and the home he was fighting to protect. Many times he had held it close and felt hope surge through him, driving him forward. Yet now that he was home, the scepter’s potency seemed—
A shrill cry pierced the air. Kurdran looked up, and a pang of fear stabbed him. Sky’ree was spiraling toward the ground, her wings twisted in unnatural ways.