The Story of Seryth, Chapters 8-10

Chapter 8: Darkshire turned out to be a more homey place than Seryth was expecting, perhaps because of the familiar sight of the farms clustered around the village. The tavern attracted him with smells of food, and he agreed to help refill their stocks of meat while he patrolled the forest for the Night Watch. The imp was delighted when the tavern's cook asked specifically for spider meat. "I told you their legs tasted good!" Seryth next spoke with the Night Wath recruiter. It pleased him the man barely took a second look at the obvious indicators of Seryth's elven blood. Perhaps they were less suspicious of outsiders here. They certainly didn't seem to be concerned by his darkening magic as had the resident of Sentinel's Hill...

One difficulty Seryth ran into right away was the lack of a good horse. The black gelding he had lent from the farmer in Westfall was a nervous sort, and at any rate, Seryth felt some small measure of guilt for bringing it into the dangerous forest of Duskwood without letting the farmer know.

So, he arranged with one of the townfolk of Darkshire to bring the horse back to Westfall in exchange for his buying a suitable animal from them instead.

Unfortuately, the only steed he could afford from them was a donkey.

With no concerned farmers — or fathers — to watch him, Seryth let his magic fly in full fury on the wild wolves and worgen of the woods. He was surprised when his first spell, a simple fire bolt, grew and morphed into a massive green ball of flames upon leaving his hands. A roar of power in his chest answered the spell’s might, and he made quick work of a pack of worgen.

“Maybe you’re ready for the next step,” said the imp, observing the fight from atop a rotted stump.

Seryth paused, teetering on the edge of his excitement, which tugged at him like currents in a river, begging him to release his grip on the bank. His father had of course warned him of the dangers of demons and their magic, but his father wasn’t here. This magic called to him, in a way none of the mundane tasks of farming or hunting with bow or snare ever had. He felt it from within: this was HIS magic, and no one could keep him from it any longer!

“Show me,” he demanded the imp.

It grinned and taught him to reach deeper within himself, making the dark within appear without.

The shadow manifested, forming head and hands and a muscular chest. The imp taught Seryth how to bind it, make it his, even as it hungered to take in the world and all that lived in it.

When Seryth clasped the magical bindings about its wrists, the creature opened its eyes. Hatred lay trapped in its gaze, and Seryth felt an uneasy, answering stir inside himself.

The darkness within now without…

“Hey, let’s go test it!” said the imp, distracting Seryth from ruminating on that thought further. The voidwalker’s eyes closed and Seryth sent it off at a giant spider crouched in the bushes, his fire bolts guiding the way.

It was rumored some of the feral worgen could control the shadow…like Seryth now could.

He sought them out, warring between curiosity and revulsion. The worgen in Duskwood were not in control of themselves, and that disgusted Seryth on some very deep level.

Yet it also drove him to experiment with them. He pushed them to their limits, teasing them almost, as he fought them. Could they break free of their mental chains, given the right motivations? Through pain? Through the temptations of hunger or battle?

And what, Seryth wondered, was ultimately more natural for such creatures? The ferocity of the beast, or the reason of the man? Which won out, when push came to shove?

In the dark woods, no one saw what he did, so no one cared, so long as the roads were made safer, and so they were, if only by the trail of the dead left behind him.

Stalking one of the worgen led him into an abandoned orchard. Without farmers to take care of them, the non-native trees were withering.

Seryth paid them hardly any attention as he entered the house. His voidwalker pinned his quarry against the wall with unnatural strength. The worgen ripped tears in it with its claws, which Seryth registered on the periphery, for most corporeal beings couldn’t harm the voidwalker. Maybe this worgen knew something about shadow magic, then? He would have to study…

After the creature was slain, Seryth picked through the rubble and broken furniture carefully, so as not to trip, as he made his way back to the door. He paused next to a table covered in claw marks. He could almost imagine a family of humans sitting at such a table, eating dinner, until one of them suddenly fell to a lycanthrope curse they had unknowingly carried until today. One by one, barely understanding, all of them would–

He broke off the thought, shuddering, and stumbled out of the house. The voidwalker loomed behind him, and he sent it out blindly to the side, to some worgen lurking in the bushes. Had that one been smaller than the others? Almost like a child…?

Perhaps the woods were safe enough now, and Seryth could find another job in another land. This thought came to him vaguely, like birdsong outside a window shut against winter. He clawed to it, imagining again the worgen’s claws tearing into the voidwalker as it sought purchase on a waning life…

He had meant to go north to Lordaeron. It was high time he did so.

Seryth dismissed the voidwalker before he re-entered Darkshire. The imp had showed him the technique–pulling the voidwalker back inside, where Seryth could still feel it, rolling around in his chest like a full jug of water.

The town had a gryphonmaster who offered to send Seryth on a gryphon to Stormwind. Though he also offered to send the donkey along, Seryth doubted it would be very timely or very pleasant for the donkey, and instead elected to travel on donkey-back along the road north.

Passing over the bridge that divided Duskwood from Elwynn Forest, Seryth felt like he was stepping from a dark cellar into a bright, sunny day outside. The voidwalker seemed to writhe and shrink down inside of him, and he rubbed his chest almost constantly until he came to the guard post at Three Corners, willing the squeezing feeling of the frantic demon to stop. He allowed himself one last look back at Duskwood.

From here, the forest had shrunk back into something unthreatening again, like the blue-green smudge it had always been on the horizon while he had been growing up in Westfall. Almost like… he couldn’t put a finger on the thought.

Seryth turned back to the guard post. In order to make the long trip north, he’d need a comfortable supply of cash, and perhaps these guards knew of some way he could make himself useful…

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