He passed over the lands of Azsuna and bid his felsteed to touch down. The land was still beautiful and lush — certainly by Westfall standards — but there was something faded about it in comparison to the splendor of Val’sharah, as well. Seryth reflected it matched his mood as he sent the felsteed down old roads, grass pushing up between the cobblestones. The land had once been inhabited by highborne, but no longer, their ruins still bearing the scars of the demons, who had destroyed the great civilization long ago.
He detected a trace of fel in the hills and followed it, thinking he might have found a scout for the coming invasion. It turned out a demon hunter had made his camp up there, and Seryth couldn’t tell by the markings on the demon hunter or his bulky communication device if he was allied with the Legion or with some other splinter group friendly to Azeroth, like the Illidari.
The sight of the demon hunter filled him with great revulsion: something like the worgen again, where seeing a man so fallen to his baser instincts touched Seryth on a deeper level, given his own predicament.
He attacked the demon hunter and ended up able to best him. He considered it a mark of his power, but that still didn’t satisfy him, believing as he did that he needed more.
The land was sparsely inhabited. He passed a traveling scholar on the road as well as some shal’dorei trying to make a living off the land, but the place might as well be as lifeless as Deadwind Pass had been. It was hardly of use to Seryth, and he wondered if there was a way to make the animals and plants fight for him, if there were no humanoids he could recruit to his cause. It sounded like something a druid could do, but Seryth cursed, remembering how Jalinde was not kindly inclined to him at the moment.
He would have to rectify that.
The road looped back around, and as Seryth crossed over a bridge spanning a dried riverbed into Suramar, he could see the twisting branches of the corrupted World Tree of Val’sharah in the distance. If he somehow could’ve cured the tree, perhaps that would have ingratiated Jalinde to him. Yet, if gaining the respect of the archdruids hadn’t done that before, then he doubted cleansing Shaladrassil would — if it were even possible.
Perhaps gaining her good will again was as useless as contemplating how to heal a World Tree. That would only leave…what? Discarding her outright? Seryth wondered.
He came upon one of his army’s camps just within the border of Val’Sharah. It was being attacked by the imp-like creatures called grell and their animal friends.
Seryth was able to deal with the threat for the camp, and he lambasted the leader of the camp for not setting better watches or having the discipline to be able to manage the threat on their own.
The presence of the grell and their attack gave Seryth pause, though. The leader of this particular camp was one of those obviously shaped by Seryth’s fel magic, and Seryth supposed that was the reason the grell had attacked. The grell shared a common ancestry with the demonic imps, or so he believed.
Could he twist such creatures into imps for his own army? Or perhaps they had secrets of their own on how to defeat the demons, having had to defeat them in their own ranks before.
Seryth ignored the warning bells in his heart telling him that if the grell knew how to cleanse themselves of demonic taint, they could potentially cleanse Seryth’s source of power from him as well… He headed into the forest to seek out the grell.
He tracked the grell’s trail back to a furbolg village that was being attacked by the same creatures. He aided in the defense, killing vast numbers of the creatures at a time, even though he itched with impatience at the thought of wasted time.
The furbolg had no answers for Seryth on why the grell had done what they had done. In a rage, Seryth ignored their offers of rewards and instead summoned his imp.
“Tell me about the grell!”
The imp was unhelpful at first, making excuses and playing word-games. So Seryth unsheathed his sword and slammed it into the ground next to the imp.
The imp reacted in a way he didn’t expect. Unlike most demons, who showed the blade of Nathssysn reverence, the imp leapt back, hissing like the cat it so often took the form of. It locked eyes with Seryth, and he read hatred in them.
“Tell me,” he pressed. “Or I will cut you in two. You are bound to me, and so you cannot escape my fury.”
“Actually, I’m NOT bound to you,” said the imp. “You never summoned me. I just found you. You don’t control me anymore than you control that rock over there!”
Seryth thrust the blade at it, aimed to kill, but the imp disappeared in a burst of felfire just as quickly.
Seryth didn’t have time to search for the imp, however. Demonic incursions were becoming more frequent across Val’sharah, and his men needed directing. Kicking his felsteed into the air, Seryth struck out to check on a camp closer to the withered tree of Shaladrassil.
He met with his army — and the demonic incursion that had forced it to ground long before reaching Shaladrassil as intended — much sooner than he had anticipated. He bullied the army camp into acting, riding at their head first to inspire them, and then for the sheer joy of the battle.
The demons were comprised of both satyrs and many imps. He noted neither group showed his sword any respect — at least until he drove it into them and the light faded from their eyes.
He expected such behavior from the satyr, who had always been mavericks, both amongst their night elven kin and amongst the Burning Legion. But the imps…?
He began to suspect his imp being disobedient was more than just cheekiness.
The blade of Nathssysn aided him in the battle, guiding his strikes. At times he could hear it like a separate entity in his head, telling him his next move. At other times he only felt the correctness of his next action in his heart and moved on it like instinct. His foster father had once tried to teach him swordplay, but it had never felt as easy — as natural — as this.
A team of druids, shapeshifted into black leopards, closed on the demon incursion’s flank a few minutes into Seryth’s battle with them. Between them, Seryth, his army, and his demons, they were able to finish the pocket of satyr off. The druids were about to turn on the more fel-infused of Seryth’s following, when he shouted for their attention.
They were reluctant to heed him, but the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend, and the druids eventually agreed to spread the word that Seryth’s forces would be allowed the right to roam and defend Val’sharah for as long as the demonic invasion lasted. After that, they disappeared back into the forest, quick as shadows evading the sun.