In a small room, barely large enough for the simple work desk and bookcase that dominated it, a lone elf woman stood hunched over the rapidly dissolving remains of a hovering blue platform. At the center of the surface, illuminated by the light from a staff that hung from a stand beside the main desk, a writhing mass of tentacles and teeth slowly broke down before her. The woman gritted her teeth in frustration, then flicked her wrist at the abomination. The platform on which is tested vanished, replaced by a small hole in reality. The thing fell through into the unknown, the portal snapping shut behind it.
Another damned failure.
Weary, the woman made her way behind her desk and plopped into her chair. It wasn't much, a simple wooden thing without much decoration. But every time she saw it, she couldn't help but think back to where she had gotten the memento from. The smiling faces of the novices who passed through her little class, eager to have a chance to have their talents recognized and nurtured. The Stormwind Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences had been a relatively small school, especially compared to many of the great institutions of magical learning spread across Azeroth. But it did its job, preparing the magically gifted of the Kingdom to go on to greater training. And in that little academy had been her, sat behind a desk much like this one, in this very chair.
The memory brought a smile to the women's face, and she reached into a drawer to pull out her one other relic of that place. Out came a small wooden nameplate with a bronze face. Carved in that face read "Erica Whyll, Professor of General Magical Theory".
The woman, Erica, held onto the small plate for a moment, but soon placed it back in favor of the greater focus before her. Papers and documents littered the surface, making the wooden top barely visible among the mess. A stack of parchment almost as tall as her head dominated the area. She sighed to herself, resolving once again to compile her work into a proper book of notes. Now that there were others who were interested in her current research, there were no excuses for poor log management. Shuffling through the papers, she came across a certain sheet of particular interest at the moment. Incomprehensible diagrams with lengthy descriptions covered the page, copied off an ancient scroll dug up from the deepest archives of the Crown. It showed practices for handling and analyzing magical creatures, from arcane constructs to treants to even minor demons. But the one kind she needed was absent. She could find nothing on the Void.
It hadn't been surprising. Void magic was a taboo force in just about every intelligent culture on Azeroth. It was dangerous, unstable, and had a habit of driving researchers mad. So far as Erica knew, the only people who had managed to learn about the Void with even a remotely academic mindset were the Ethereals, and what few she had managed to speak to during her time in Telogrus Rift were rather uncooperative with the more sensitive details. Even so, it was her best lead. If she could understand the base composition of Void entities, then she'd be one step closer to understanding what had been done to her.
The concept of Forging was a rather new one to Azeroth. When the Army of Light made contact with the forces of Azeroth on Argus, the power of the Lightforged quickly became self evident. Carving through swaths of the Burning Legion on their home front, the Lightforged Draenei's cooperation had been key to the offensive on that far off world. Or, at least, that's what the reports from those days had said. It was a year or so before her own service, so she had little more than the rumors floating through the army to go off of. But from what she's seen in Zandalar, those rumors seemed pretty believable.
The moment she had heard of the Lightforged, she had suspected the inverse, Voidforging, was at least possible. In her research trying to understand the common nature of all magic, she had come to believe that Light and Void shared a special dynamic. What that was she had no idea, but the two were intrinsically linked in some way. If the Light could be used to fundamentally alter the nature of lifeforms, it only stood to reason that the Void could too. She had been proven correct at Telogrus Rift.
Erica rustled through the sheets of parchment, causing her elbow to bump into the staff she used as a light source. The moving glow sent shadows cascading across the room, but not her skin. They drank deep of the light, as dark as the Void which now permeated her very essence. She grit her teeth at the thought, turning away and looking back to her work. Even with the teachings of her new master, her fellow professor Alice, she still couldn't quite get over how her very being had been altered. The voices which now incessantly whispered in her mind did nothing to help that unease.
She found the next text she had been looking for, a new procurement by the University. One of their newest members, Nythellas Reylah, had provided a number of crucial works when she had joined. The woman had gotten the closest Erica had ever seen to completely undoing the Voidforging process, and she had done it using a very simple method: throwing a whole lot of Light at herself. Everything in Erica's research screamed that the idea should have backfired. Light and Void were polar opposites, more likely to explode on contact than produce any tangible results. By all rights, Nythellas never should have made it to them. And yet, she had.
Erica suspected the second ingredient had been what made the process even remotely viable: Azerite. The blood of a Titan, the very world itself. The myriad uses for the substance had become clear with time and experimentation, the fruits of which Erica had used her rank and expertise to gain access to. She knew that Azerite could have any number of magnifying effects based on relative dosages. She had suspected that the material may have some potential as a balancing agent within a Forged being. Now, she had proof.
She just needed a bit more.
Erica dug further into her stack of papers, searching for one last document. With a slight grunt of focus, she pulled it free from its hiding place, careful to steady the rest. Staring back at her was a material requisition form for the King's Army. Though she may no longer be an active combatant, her work was still valuable to the Crown, and she could leverage that to get a hand on many rarer materials and components that a normal civilian researcher could only dream of. The fact that she had joined the staff of Stormwind University, which maintained an excellent relationship with the Crown, had only solidified her value.
Over the past years of fighting known as the Fourth War, Azerite had certainly become rare. Just about every point where the blood had been uncovered had been seized by either Alliance or Horde forces, and access to it had become tightly regulated. Even the Wound in Silithus, the greatest source of Azerite in the world, had been locked down by Speaker Magni's Champions of Azeroth. This requisition form was her best shot at continuing her experiments.
Erica looked at her skin once more, but smiled this time. She may never be comfortable in this form, but tcg she was learning to manage and accept it. And now, real, tangible change was more than a desperate prayer. Just a little more time.<!--/data/user/0/com.samsung.android.app.notes/files/clipdata/clipdata_200719_230030_719.sdoc-->