He was roused out of bed sometime in the middle of the night, however many weeks or months it was later. Vaguely, from a panicked courier, he heard they were being attacked. The elves put him on a courser, and it was all he could do to hang on as it charged through their attackers. He recognized pale skin and sickly countenances, like the elves of the doomed lodge in the Plaguelands. He couldn’t put two and two together though, trusting his escort to see him through the thick of the battle and away.
They were back in the Plaguelands. He was being escorted along by a paladin called Fordelloron –he preferred Ford for short — who answered some of his questions, if reluctantly.
His first question was confirmed hours after they escaped the attack on Quel’Danil: they would not be returning to the Hinterlands. Seryth was still weak, Ford explained, and needed healing even the skilled quel’dorei couldn’t give to him. Besides that, the quel’dorei hated him, but Ford wouldn’t say why.
Long nights listening to giant bats screech and ghosts howl out in the cursed forest loosened Ford’s lips a little more over the next few days, though he didn’t warm up to Seryth at all. Travelling was still slow, as Ford didn’t dare put the coursers into a canter or even trot in case it’d jar Seryth’s wounds back open.
Seryth’s kin in Quel’Danil had been reluctant to take him in, Ford explained, as the paladins, Fordelloron among them, had sensed a great evil dwelling in his heart.
“Then why did you save me from the attack?” Seryth pressed. “If you think me so terrible, why not put me to death?”
“I owe your father a blood debt,” said Ford.
“My…foster father?” Seryth asked, wondering if he dared to tell Ford that the Farstrider was dead.
“No. Your real one.”
No amount of wheedling or begging got Ford to share what he knew of Seryth’s father. His real father! Related by blood! Someone Seryth had never known…
They were attacked by Plaguehounds on the road the next day. Seryth was about to call the voidwalker to deal with them, when Ford laid a heavy hand on his arm and forbade him.
“Do not let the creature out!”
“How do you know…”
“I can sense it. Everytime you use it, it grows stronger. It feeds off you, your lust and rage.”
“Everytime I DON’T use it, it becomes harder to control,” Seryth countered.
Ford’s return glance was almost sympathetic, but his voice was still stern as he said, “If you cannot bear the burden, then you are better off dead.”
It was effective at ending the argument, at least.
Seryth convinced Ford to tell him a little more the next day. “If I’m not allowed to use my magic, even when our lives are threatened, at least I want to know why.”
“It’s because you bear the Nathssysn, the Doom Blade.”
“Doom Blade…what, you mean those shards? I don’t have them anymore. I lost them in Jintha’Alor.”
Ford just looked at him as if he knew more about it than that, but he didn’t elaborate.
“Say I did still have it,” said Seryth irritably, knowing he wasn’t going to get the quel’dorei to let that one go, “what of it? What makes the Blade so terrible?”
“The Doom Blade was made by the nath’rezim, given to the Black Horde for use in the First and Second Wars. I have no idea how it ended up in your hands, but as it has, we must now deal with its evil.”
“Well, that’s fine, but I’m telling you, I lost the blade in Jintha’Alor. What I had gathered of it…”
Ford eyed him in distaste. “Perhaps I should say, I don’t know how it got INSIDE of you.”
Seryth went abruptly silent, his hand touching the wound on his chest.
Ford nodded grimly as he saw that Seryth understood. He clucked to his courser to move them more swiftly, and Seryth gasped and was kept from asking anymore questions as his own steed picked up into a bone-jarring trot.
“That is why we’re going to Dalaran,” said Ford from ahead of him. “All my healing magic can do is seal the shard deeper inside of you. What we need instead is a way to remove it…somehow, without killing you in the process.”
“Your confidence inspires,” said Seryth through gritted teeth.
Riding into Light’s Hope Chapel was an unpleasant experience. The paladins and priests of the Light regarded him with varying degrees of disgust and fear, and Seryth realized they could sense the shard as well as Ford could. The inherent blessing of the place also left him feeling scalded, and the wound in his chest throbbed. He drew his hood up and relied on Ford to negotiate a flight on hippogryph back to Stormwind; from there they would find a mage to take them the rest of the way to Dalaran.
Ford rode behind Seryth on the hippogryph, just as much to keep an eye on him as to keep him from falling off the hippogryph, Seryth thought. At least it allowed them to keep conversing, or whatever passed for it in Ford’s case.
“You said you knew my real father. How?”
“We fought together during the Second War,” answered Ford. “As did Daelin.”
“Did he die then?”
“I don’t know,” said Ford. “We were to strike at the orcs’ flank in a feint manuever. Daelin was knocked from his horse in the clash, and your father insisted on dismounting to fight beside him. Next time I saw Daelin, it was in the healer’s tent, and your father was no one where to be seen.
“He’s done it again,” said Seryth reluctantly after a long silence. “My foster father–Daelin. He’s disappeared. I think he’s dead.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Ford. Seryth grumpily thought the paladin could at least show a little more sympathy, but the quel’dorei kept on: “After your father sacrificed himself for Daelin, Daelin was fel-bent on repaying the measure. So he took you in, after your mother died.”
“My mother was a human commoner from Lordaeron,” Seryth said grudgingly. “I’ve always known that.”
“I don’t really know what he saw in her either, if it makes you feel better,” said Ford.
“I didn’t know paladins could be so sarcastic, if it makes you feel better,” Seryth retorted.
Ford just chuckled.
Seryth felt ready to drop when they landed in Stormwind. Luckily, Ford had rented an inn room for a week, to give Seryth time to recuperate from the hard ride and himself time to find an appropriate mage.
When he wasn’t sleeping, Seryth walked the streets slowly, thinking about how much everything had changed. This time last year, he would be selling produce in the market. Now he was healing from fighting vicious trolls and summoning a voidwalker one too many times, to hear Ford tell it.
At least he had a new insight into himself. He knew where the short temper, the funny rushes and urges, and the pain and burning inside his chest now all came from. He was more than cursed; he was possessed, in one meaning of the word, by a piece of a demon sword that had lodged itself inside him somehow.
It was when he stopped to regard a tabby cat lounging in the window of a shop, that he realized there was still one piece of the puzzle he didn’t have any answers for.
Where had the imp come from? And what did it want from him? Being a demon itself…