“It seems to affect me strangely. I think it might have the same magic that I do,” Seryth offered haltingly.
Kerr and Blastbrew exchanged looks. “The history of this blade be tied up in that of the quel’dorei of these parts,” Blastbrew said finally. “It was one of them that assassinated the old Horde leader — that giant ooze you fought, I reckon.”
Seryth took a minute to digest this. “Do you know what the words…’nathssysn’ and ‘zilv’natha’ mean? I heard — or rather — I saw some, ah, tablets with those words inscribed in it,” he quickly lied, thinking the dwarves wouldn’t give the words much credence if they knew how Seryth had really found the words — and he wasn’t so sure he should believe in them, either.
“Sounds like an dialect of Ol’ Elfy,” said Blastbrew. “Oh, now, don’t go lookin’ at me like that. I mean OLD Ol’ Elfy. Night elven-old, maybe even highborne-old. Or troll-old, if ye believe those tales!” The dwarf snorted. “No offense, but I’m pretty sure I’d be knowin’ if elves were really trolls once upon a time. Trolls just have that certain stench ta ’em!”
“Yeah, well, maybe that’s why elves’re always bathing in perfume!” said Kerr.
“I do NOT bathe in perfume,” snapped Seryth.
“Sure ye don’t, but ye do be bathin’ in ooze,” said Kerr with a clever wink, and Seryth couldn’t think of a comeback to that.
There’s still more pieces of the blade out there,” said Blastbrew, drawing Seryth’s attention back to the broken weapon.
“Do you know where to find the pieces?”
“Oh, sure, that’s the easy part,” said Blastbrew. “Most of the troll tribes in the area got a shard or two of it. Jest go hunting ye some trolls, and I’m sure ye’ll find the rest.”
“Then that’s what I’ll do,” said Seryth, rolling the half-blade back up in its cloth. He carefully stowed it in the bottom of his pack, where the vibrating wasn’t so harsh on his hands.
“The trolls ain’t the only ones with the pieces though,” said Blastbrew, eyeing him carefully. “Legend says ye elfies got at least one piece.”
Seryth paused, but he didn’t want the dwarf to see how much the comment rattled him. “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Thanks for the advice,” he said quickly, and with that, he dragged his pack off the table and left the bunker.
On the dwarves’ advice, Seryth traveled to Jintha’Alor. The Wildhammer were waging war on the Vilebranch trolls there, and Seryth figured he could get two birds with one stone. The leader of the trolls was one called Umboda Three-Heads. Seryth wondered how the troll had gotten that name — was it true trolls could regenerate an entire head? — but what mattered most was whether he and the dwarves could take the creature on — and if it held one of the blade’s shards.
Jintha’Alor was alive with magic, humming to Seryth in a rhythm he vaguely recognized.
The dwarves he was fighting with didn’t seem to notice or mind. They torched any ritual implements the trolls carried, and with each one, Seryth felt a lessening of the magic, like an instrument taken out of his orchestra.
Umboda certainly smelled like he had lost two heads, but he did have a shard, no longer than a finger and wrapped up in twine to make for an intimidating-looking amulet. Seryth pocketed it before the dwarves could notice it, squeezing his eyes shut against the dizziness that threatened as he touched it.
Umboda wasn’t the only champion of the trolls in Jintha’Alor. The dwarves stopped briefly to rest, before pressing on again, Seryth leading the way with his firebolts.
The trolls residing deeper in Jintha’Alor used powerful magic — a magic Seryth recognized as being nearly kin to his own. They, too, could summon voidwalkers from deep inside themselves.
Seryth held back in fear of what the dwarves might do to him if they discovered the similarity, but they didn’t seem to mind so long as the trolls continued to fall.
Soon, another troll leader was down, and his somewhat larger shard — this one as wide as Seryth’s palm — was secreted away in Seryth’s pack.
There was one last rise in the city to go, where some of the most powerful trolls resided. The dwarves chose to fall back and ride gryphons up to the top for a quicker and more precise strike. Seryth joined them.
On landing and pushing past the first few troll soldiers who came to meet them, Seryth felt drunk with the magic energies all around. It sang inside his veins, it vibrated from the broken blade in his pack, and it was echoed to him by every troll warlock that attacked. He sent spell after spell into the growing troll ranks, barely paying attention to what he was firing on…
Some distant part of him warned him that he was getting desperately close to another tipping point like the one he’d had in Thelsamar, but he couldn’t pull himself back from the brink…
Though he had stayed lucid, if irrational, during his attacks on Thelsamar, this time Seryth blacked out entirely. Like falling into sleep, only later could he look back and pinpoint the time when his thinking had broken from reality and gone down dark twisted paths of bloodlust and malice. Perhaps he could remember the people he killed and the things he did if he pushed a little harder into that dark time, but he skirted away from those thoughts like an electrified gnomish wire. He had the uneasy feeling he’d have to reckon for those memories somehow in the future, but he couldn’t bring himself to it now.
Instead, when Seryth was next conscious, like a breath of fresh air, he found himself in a dark cave, the dripping of water down some side tunnel or another being the only audible thing.
Some time later he was dragged out to an altar. The stench of death was in the air; even while bumping along the ground he could see the bodies of trolls stacked around him. Had they fallen in battle, or where they part of this ritual?
An ugly troll with crooked tusks flung him on to the altar, and the cold and hardness of it shocked the breath from Seryth’s lungs.
“You’re brought the blade right to us,” she hissed over him, and Seryth closed his eyes as if that would also help close his nose to the smell of her breath. “And what’s this? Zilv’natha…? I cannot believe…!”
She took a long knife from her belt and waved it through complicated incantations. Seryth was certain he was about to have his heart cut out and eaten, like he had heard from his foster father as being a forest troll custom. And she did indeed press the knife to his chest… Seryth yelped as it broke open the wound he had sustained from retrieving the first shard from Skulk Rock.
Her eyes widened as something began to hum. Then all Seryth saw was the two fisted claws of a gryphon as the creature knocked her down. The hind paw of the beast connected with him and knocked him off the slab as it grappled with the shaman. Seryth crawled into the shadow of the altar and waited for his head to stop spinning.
On the shaman’s death, spiders began to boil up out of the cave from which he had been taken. The gryphon leapt over the altar, snagged him, and took off again.
Seryth lost consciousness through the flight.
He woke up in Aerie Peak. Dwarves were muttering over him, and he only caught snatches of what they said. “Bleeding out,” said one. “Can’t remove it,” said another. “That gryphon remembered ye!” said a third, and Seryth thought maybe this one might’ve been directed towards him, but he slipped back into darkness before he could ask.
The next time he woke he was only aware enough to hear one sentence: “Maybe the elves can help him.”