They tread onto the flagstones of an ancient temple. Elune’s temple, Jalinde said, and it seemed beautiful to Seryth despite how long the place had spent in decay. An imp scout confirmed that the nathrezim had made its lair inside, and so Seryth and the others set their packs aside, donned their battlegear, and strode into the underground.
Unholy fire burned around the great chamber, flaring into life when they strode inside. The flames danced along the floor, and out of them came an immense dragon, formed of shadow and felfire.
The Nathssysn clamored in his chest. This was what it was made for! Seryth screamed as there was a tearing pain within him. He drew his blade, and it assumed its form of a swirling storm of shards.
The dragon diminished as the shards cut pieces of its flesh and felfire away. The blade glittered in the dark, like starlight. Soon the illusion dissipated, and only the nathrezim was left, kneeling in a pool of congealed shadow and fel ash.
It looked up at Seryth and smiled. “Now for your destiny to complete itself, Zilv’natha.”
Seryth stepped forward to drive the blade through its chest, but he was stopped by a sudden wrenching pain in his heart. The shards of the Nathssysn coalesced in his palm, then spread down his arm, coating him like a crystalline shell.
In a panic, he looked towards Jalinde and the warlocks and druids, their numbers diminished by the fierce battle. She locked eyes with him and stepped forward, but the nathrezim raised a hand, sending a roaring wall of felfire between them.
The shards began to draw inward, crushing his skin, up against his ribs and through them. The shard in his chest was reforming at long last with its brothers and sisters.. The nathrezim stood, shaking out its wings as if it had never been hurt.
“The demonic invasion was because of you,” said the nathrezim, and Seryth heard its words echoed by the Nathssysn through his mind, through his heart. “Your actions awakened the blade, and the blade awakened the demons. With your soul and seed, we will start the Burning Legion anew.”
It paced around him, sending little creatures of shadow through the felfire wall to pick off the rest of Seryth’s allies, as if merely amused by them. Jalinde, leading the others, fell back, though she kept screaming Seryth’s name. She couldn’t seem him through the dense smoke.
“Mortals are so easy to manipulate,” the nathrezim continued. “Power, glory, even safety: all we bend to our will. Through you, we may start an empire here, in Val’sharah itself, of all your little woodland friends. Would that please you, elfling?”
Seryth shook himself. He was well on his way to forming an empire. He had the Westfall farmers under his sway, as well as the warlocks and the druids. He could picture the castle on the hill of Stormwind, his banner up there instead of the king’s lion.
The shards tightened around him, and he choked. The Nathssysn’s spirit manifested beside him, a hungry ghost of a pit fiend. The sounds of the pitched battle behind him were fading.
“That could be yours,” said the nathrezim, distracting Seryth from the frightening visage of the blade’s demon soul. “All you have to do is reach out…and take it.”
The pit fiend’s ghost smiled at him, and the ghostly apparition of a sword appeared in its massive hand. It turned the hilt of the sword towards Seryth, offering it, as the blade solidified in its hands.
“All you have to do is submit…”
What did he have left to lose? Seryth wondered. His family dead, some by his own hand. His friends either hated him or were likewise dead. Letting the Nathssysn possess him — and possess him fully, not simply the leash it had kept on him since he had taken its last shard from Deadwind Pass — would wipe all those cares and pains away.
His fingers twitched, and he reached for the hilt.