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January 21, 2009
Conflicting Loyalties is the 15th installment of the World of Warcraft comic.
The road back to Theramore begins here! After the events of the last arc, King Varian and Prince Anduin must return home. But who will return with them? And what role will Garona Halforcen play in this next quest?
In Onyxia's Lair, Varian, Anduin, Broll, Jaina, Thargas, and Valeera celebrate Onyxia's death. Varian tells the Stormwind guards that accompanied him that they have earned their king's gratitude and will return home as heroes, after which a national fete will be held to commemorate the defeat of the dragon and the restoration of Stormwind's ruler. Varian then decapitates Onyxia's corpse so her colossal head can be delivered back to Stormwind via zeppelin as proof of their victory. The king tells Thargas that he needs to return to Theramore for a short while. The dwarf replies that he'll be accompanying the guards back to Stormwind as he has arrangements to make regarding his brother's death and his own estates. Varian thanks Thargas for his help and friendship and promises that Stormwind will lend its aid to Anvilmar should it ever be needed. After the king and his companions exit the dragon's lair, Broll summons roots from the earth to seal away the opening and destroy Onyxia's unhatched offspring.
Meanwhile, far away in Thunder Bluff, the Forsaken mage Stasia Fallshadow enters the Pools of Vision with a scroll in her hand. Months earlier, an orc shaman discovered the parchment inside a casket of pure khorium in a small cave between Hellfire Peninsula and Shattrath City. Realizing its importance, he brought it to Stasia, whose specialty is the translation of ancient tomes. After disposing of the orc's body, Stasia journeyed to the Pools of Vision with the scroll, which contains a potentially world-shaking prophecy about a foretold savior of Azeroth. Using her powers and the magic in the pools, Stasia begins conjuring visions to find the location of the prophesied hero. She sees a newly pregnant half-orc female standing over the body of a dead king and later giving birth to a hybrid son. The half-orc leaves the infant in the care of her friend, the ancient undead mage Meryl Winterstorm, as she considers herself to be a danger to her child. She tells Meryl that the boy's name is Med'an and asks him not to tell him anything about his mother. For a moment, Stasia is shaken by the sight of the mage, whom she realizes is not a recent victim of Ner'zhul's Plague of Undeath like herself but instead keeps himself alive by his own magic and strength of will. As the visions continue, Stasia sees Meryl carrying Med'an away from a burning city to Duskwood, where he trains the growing boy to defend himself and control his burgeoning power. After considering what she has learned, Stasia exits the pools and tells her hooded companions that the boy is in the Eastern Kingdoms and that they'll leave for Brightwood Grove immediately.
While Varian, Anduin, Broll, Jaina, and Valeera are traveling through Dustwallow Marsh, Jaina suggests rescheduling the diplomatic summit with Thrall that was interrupted by Onyxia's meddling months earlier. Varian is reluctant as he still deeply distrusts orcs. However, Jaina reminds him that the Burning Legion is the true enemy of orcs and humans alike and that Thrall wants to lead his people to peace. Anduin tells his father that establishing peace is something a king should do if he can, and Valeera points out that the meeting would also be about what Varian wants and that it's wise for a king to know his enemies, real or otherwise. Varian relents and agrees to attend the meeting, even if he doesn't expect anything to come of it. He then formally offers Broll and Valeera a permanent place by his side in Stormwind. Broll reacts in a grouchy manner, but Valeera is excited at the prospect of having a home, something she hasn't had since she was younger than Anduin.
In Duskwood's Brightwood Grove, Meryl and Med'an are seen gathering wood while a group of cultists watch them from behind some nearby bushes. The entire scene is in turn observed by a shadowy figure seated high up in the canopy above. The cultists suddenly charge out of the shadows to attack Meryl and the boy, who do their best at defending themselves. When an ogre clobbers Med'an over the head and a hooded orc begins to carry him away, Garona leaps down from the trees and kills both of the thugs. She tells Meryl to get Med'an to safety while she provides cover by killing the rest of the cultists. Med'an recognizes the woman as someone who once sheltered him when he was very young, but Meryl tells him that she is just "A half-orc. An outcast. No one." Suddenly, a word that sounds like Eredun rings out, paralyzing Garona. Med'an rushes back to help her, but finds that the half-orc has disappeared and that all of the thugs lie dead.
In Theramore, Aegwynn welcomes Jaina, Varian, and Anduin back. However, Jaina is quickly off again, using her amulet to contact Thrall before teleporting to Razor Hill to meet with him and discuss the upcoming summit.
At the same moment in Orgrimmar, Thrall listens to two of his advisors — Garrosh Hellscream and Rehgar Earthfury — loudly arguing with each other. Garrosh considers it to madness to suggest to Thrall that the orcs should cooperate with the Alliance, while Rehgar insists that it's common sense for orcs and humans to try to peacefully coexist as they have common enemies. Thrall interrupts the discussion when he notices his amulet glowing and states that he'll be leaving the city for a short while. While the warchief is walking out, some of the orcs in the room whisper about how he rushes off to meet "the human female" as soon as she summons him, that his alliance with the humans is a sign of weakness, and that the Horde needs new blood like Garrosh.
Thrall arrives in Razor Hill via zeppelin and meets with Jaina, who informs him of Varian's return and that the king has agreed to meet with the warchief in a new summit in Theramore. Thrall worries that some of his people are growing impatient both with the current peace and with him as its author, and that now is not a good time to be away from Orgrimmar for long. Jaina assures him that it'll only be for a couple of days, that Varian is no more thrilled about it than Thrall, and that a real alliance would benefit both the Alliance and the Horde. Thrall reluctantly agrees to attend for Jaina's sake but prays that the occasion doesn't turn itself into the biggest catastrophe of his career.
A seven-page preview of the issue is available here.