Fordrellon turned on him. “What happened? You did something to the altar, didn’t you?!”
Seryth glanced at Jalinde. She seemed as shocked as he had been to discover Shadra was not friendly towards them after all.
He didn’t want her to get in trouble, though. “I think maybe it had already begun,” he said quietly. “I sensed the Shadow growing since we first stepped foot here.”
Fordrellon scowled at him, and Seryth knew he knew he was lying. They both lapsed into silence, however, as the quel’dorei leader called them to regroup.
“This isn’t over, warlock,” growled Fordrellon. “I’m watching you.”
Seryth only smirked at him, to show he was not afraid.
“I had been so sure She would help us.”
Jalinde was speaking to Seryth in private at Quel’Danil. They had returned under a triumphant banner, the machinations of the trolls stopped and a new peace established in the Hinterlands.
“Did you hear Her voice?” Seryth asked.
Jalinde looked up at him, startled. “I–no. I heard nothing. Did She say something before attacking you?”
Seryth suddenly realized he didn’t want Jalinde to know about the Nathssysn: the evil weapon he had been collecting shards of throughout the Hinterlands, which Shadra had mentioned, and which he was coming to suspect had a direct connection to himself. “No, no, I only heard the Wild Gods do that sometimes. Speak to people…”
Jalinde nodded and shrugged, looking away. Her anxiety bothered him, and he put a hand over hers. She looked up at him, smiled shyly, but then pulled away.
“I can sense the Shadow too, a little bit,” she admitted. “When you told Fordrellon you could sense such things, I thought of it. There’s been a growing shadow in this land over the past month. I know my leader thinks it was the trolls’ meddling, but I think there’s something worse going on.”
Seryth said nothing. Jalinde finally shook her head.
“I was trained by a Sentinel, did you know that?” she said. “A kal’dorei, from the western continent. It’s why I can’t return to Silvermoon now; they’d see it as traitorous. But I’ve always been happiest in nature.”
“I’m sorry they’ve exiled you,” said Seryth. “They treat me in much the same way.”
Jalinde smiled at him, and this time she closed her hand around his.
Then the moment was broken; her mind was back on her worries. “I’d like to go there. But not just there, to see the forests…there are other Wild Gods, Seryth. Perhaps we could find one, and get Them to tell us what was wrong with Shadra.”
And perhaps tell Seryth what Shadra had meant by him being the bearer of Nathssysn. He felt a shiver run through him, and clenched Jalinde’s hand harder so she wouldn’t notice. “I’d be happy to help,” he said.
She smiled at him again, and for a moment, he completely forgot anything but her glow of happiness.
After his performance in the battle, Seryth was declared fully healed and encouraged to leave Quel’Danil. Fordrellon was less than happy Seryth could now escape his watchful gaze, but Fordrellon had sustained a wound from a battle with the spider and couldn’t follow Seryth even if he wanted to.
Seryth and Jalinde set out on Wildhammer gryphons to Stormwind. There they learned of the recent destruction of the kal’dorei homeland by the Horde. Jalinde seemed pained, wondering idly if any of the old forests she had so wished to see for herself remained intact. Seryth spent the night with her, poring over maps. Most of the names meant nothing to him, but Jalinde exclaimed over this landmark or that legend about it eagerly, and he found he just liked watching her be excited.
She almost seemed more kal’dorei than quel’dorei in those moments as well, and Seryth was struck by an uncomfortable memory of his foster father. Daelin had always been a loner more comfortable in nature than with the humans of Westfall, much like Jalinde.
It was thinking of him that prompted Seryth to point out a certain spot on the map. “Why not go to Hyjal?” he said. “It’s the very seat of the Wild Gods on Azeroth, and if any forest is left untouched in Kalimdor, it would be the one surrounding the druids’ World Tree.”
But Jalinde’s face fell and she folded the map over. “I’d rather start a little closer to home.”
“Pardon?” said Seryth, surprised.
But she wouldn’t elaborate on her discomfort. “The Broken Isles,” she decided. “There’s a forest there, and Wild Gods, and…”
“I just think we’d get better results.”
Seryth eyed her, but she avoided his gaze. “The Broken Isles it is, then,” he agreed.
From Stormwind, they secured a portal service to Dalaran. They stayed in Dalaran several more days as they sought out transportation and supplies to Val’Sharah.
Seryth did his own research while they waited. Dalaran was a city of scholars and magi. Perhaps they had information about the blade of Nathssysn — and why he seemed to have a connection to it.
Through the libraries of Dalaan, Seryth learned the blade of Nathssysn was a demon blade, introduced to Azeroth during the Second War, tied to the warlock magic that orcs had introduced to the world. It was lost, as Seryth already knew, in the Hinterlands, when a quel’dorei had managed to infiltrate the camp of its bearer, and a magic explosion then obliterated the camp from the land, shattering the blade into hundreds of fragments that rained down on the northern kingdoms like stars for nights afterward.
Seryth could find no connections to himself in the passages, however. He had always lived in Westfall, as far as he knew…
During the following week, Seryth was approached by a warlock who had heard of his delvings into the history of the blade. The orc invited him to a Council of the Black Harvest, held clandestinely in the sewers of Dalaran, to find his answers. Nathssysn was a demon blade, and who better to ask about demonic magic than warlocks, after all?
Half uneasy and half curious, Seryth agreed. The orc’s logic seemed convincing.
The Council, however, was a trap. Seryth was led into a antechamber and told that the Council would see him in its turn. Hours passed. Seryth left the room to ask what was taking so long.
Instead of answering his question, his attendant — his guard, Seryth discovered rudely — attacked him. The first spell she cast was one of chaining and binding. Seryth gagged, feeling a heavy weight settling in his chest, like his heart was being squeezed and slowed. Black dots crept across his vision from the corners of his eyes, and he blacked out.
He woke to find himself in another dimension.
Other prisoners were here, and demons. So many demons, pacing up and down outside their cages, occassionally sticking their claws or weapons into the prisoners for what seemed like sport alone.
Seryth conversed with the orc in the cage next to his as time dragged on. It seemed this is where the Council kept their prisoners, with demons to guard them. The orc hadn’t seen any Council member return since they had brought Seryth, unconscious, to this place. He couldn’t say how long ago that had been: time moved strangely in this dimension.
Yet, as the orc witnessed, the demons here seemed to bear Seryth a special respect. The orc couldn’t say why, but suggested Seryth use a spell of Subjugation on them. When Seryth explained he didn’t know the spell, the orc seemed surprised: how could a warlock of such innate power not know how to subdue demons?
Regardless, the orc agreed to teach Seryth the words and gestures needed to bring the demons under his will. Perhaps, the orc said, their special regard for him would break through the resistance that kept other warlock prisoners like himself from using the same spell to escape.
And so the next time a felhound walked by, sniffing at what looked a little too much like crushed spines lining the walkway, Seryth cast a Subjugate spell on it…
One by one, Seryth convinced the demons to help him. He spoke their language, saw through their eyes, reveled in their power. Some regarded him with suspicion, but in all of them he detected respect and awe, even below that forced on them by spellcraft. It was almost as if they regarded him as one of them.
He used this to his advantage.
Though Seryth forced the demons to let him loose from the cage, he could find no way of escaping the dimension. He began to interrogate the other prisoners, keeping in his mind that as warlocks, they had probably inflicted similar wounds on innocents many times. They were deserving of his harsh treatment. One or two he chose to release as allies. None of them he trusted.
As he gathered answers, he plotted. When the Council next opened a portal to throw some other sorry prisoner into the space, Seryth launched his attack.
The battle was chaotic. Pitting prisoner and demon against the warlocks, Seryth was able to escape notice as he slipped through the portal back to Azeroth, bringing with him only those demons that he thought would be most useful — and loyal — to him.
It turned out this arm of the Council had been no where near Dalaran when they opened their portal. Instead he found himself breathing in a familiar stench of rot: he was somewhere in the Plaguelands.
As expected, the prisoners and demons of the prison plane turned out to be no match for the warlocks who had chained them there, once those warlocks had gotten over their surprise of the ferocity of their attack. Seryth felt nothing as he watched his once-allies be thrown back into the void or slain. He turned instead to the Council.
The orc who had taught him the Subjugate spell had confused him for being a warlock himself, and Seryth decided to capitalize on this. He passed himself as another warlock among many as the Council closed their portals on the doomed prison plane and withdrew from that space, Seryth now among them.
Days passed, and the attempted prison escape faded from collective mind. The other warlocks were now abuzz with the return of someone named Ormmoth. Seryth tried to ask as innocently as he could who Ormmoth was, and was again rebuffed for being such a powerful warlock and not knowing something so basic to their existence.
“What rock did you crawl out from under, eh?” said one orc.
Seryth gave some cobbled-together story that he had been experimenting on villagers in Westfall. It seemed like something a warlock of his supposed caliber would do, and not so far from the truth that he couldn’t lie about it easily. The orc laughed, remarking he had heard from the worgen living in Duskwood about some warlock wreaking havoc among their ranks there. Seryth’s stomach flipped as he realized the rumors had probably been about himself.
Seryth learned more about demonic magic than he wanted to during his time with the other warlocks, though he came no closer to discovering anything else about the Nathssysn. He increased his bond with the demons he had chosen to keep with him from the prison, but he knew it was only a matter of time until the rest of the Council recognized any one of them. He also wasn’t sure how long he’d spent in the prison dimension: only that it was too long. He had to return to Dalaran and Jalinde.
One of the demons he had bonded with was a felsteed. It was faster than the gryphons and could even fly a bit, and Seryth made good time to Dalaran on its back, despite his starting point in the Plaguelands.
However, when he reached Dalaran again, Jalinde was gone. He had a good inkling of where she might have gone, and set his sights on Val’sharah.