The warlocks posed the idea of reversing the portals the demons had used to make their entry into Azeroth. Teams of combatants from the druids and the warlocks would then be sent through to discover the leader of each pocket plane and defeat him or her.
Seryth saved the best — the biggest portal — for himself. It was partly practical, for he had the most power of the remaining warlocks now, and partly prideful: he wanted to remind his allies why they didn’t dare turn on him once the demonic threat was over.
Jalinde, Seryth, and a hand-picked team of druids and warlocks entered the dark forest again. The demon leading the particular group they were hunting was a nathrezim and had covered his trail with tricks, traps, and illusions.
The nathrezim tormented them with images of their past as they advanced through its domain. Seryth saw Daelin, Fordrellon, and a quel’dorei man he took to be Jalinde’s father, though he wasn’t sure about that. After the first hair-raising encounter, Fordrellon stepping out of a shaded glen and asking Seryth mournfully why he was attacking him, Seryth stopped paying close attention to the images and instead assaulted them with felfire whenever he saw them.
“What if they are real?” Jalinde asked him once, as he left an entire glade smoking and destroyed because Daelin had come at him, accusing him of murder.
“Then they’re better off dead than corrupted by demons,” said Seryth harshly.
Jalinde glanced at the destroyed glade and nodded. Seryth wasn’t sure if she had clearly heard the image of Daelin’s words, and either way, she was polite enough not to ask.
Seryth’s nightmares weren’t the only ones coming out of the gloom to haunt them. Jalinde suddenly gave a scream of terror and shot an arrow into the forest. Seryth glanced over, and saw wolves with red eyes staring at them from the underbrush.
He lit the entire stand of trees on fire without asking Jalinde what she saw in them. That evening, as they rested, she explained, her voice a breath in his ear.
“My pa died because of me,” she murmured. Seryth took her hand. “I was a kid. I didn’t follow the rules. I went out — further than I should have. I had seen wolf pups playing in the valley beyond our little lodge at night, and I thought I could play with them.”
“Then Mommy Wolf and Daddy Wolf came home and were less than happy with you?” Seryth asked. He struggled not to make his words sound sarcastic, but luckily, Jalinde didn’t seem to notice.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I never knew my real father,” said Seryth, changing the subject. “My mother died when we were — er — shortly after I was born.”
“I’m sorry,” said Jalinde. “I’m sure, in their own way, they wouldn’ve been proud of you.”
“You think?” This time he didn’t hide the sarcasm, and Jalinde went quiet for a long span.
“I know I’m a monster,” he said softly, so softly he wasn’t sure if she heard, except that her hands closed around his. “Days go by, when I’m not even sure if I love you. If I’ve not just convinced you to stay through trickery and coercion, to fulfill my selfish goals. A pawn in my games. The fuel of my soul forge, withering away until there’s nothing left of you to suck dry…”
Her breath quickened, and she sat up.
“You should sleep,” Seryth told her shortly, pulling away from her entirely and standing.
“Where are you going?”
“To make sure the sentries aren’t asleep on duty again.” It was a lie, and in a strange way, Seryth hoped it was the last lie he’d ever tell her. They were close to the nathrezim; he could feel it, and soon, the whole demonic invasion would be over.
After that? Maybe Seryth could begin to dream of a normal life, maybe even with Jalinde at his side, as his wife.
Inside him, the Nathssysn seemed to chuckle. Seryth smiled grimly, fingering the hilt of his blade and feeling its eager killing power course through him. It was only wishful thinking.