Seryth couldn’t hide the baby dragon from Arthur, however.
“What a curious creature,” Arthur remarked. “Where did you find it?”
“In the woods, with the spiders,” Seryth lied. He somehow didn’t think Eli would appreciate him blowing her cover, nor would he know how to explain the strange sin’dorei mage to Arthur if he tried.
“That makes sense,” said Arthur, innocently enough. “It seems like it’s not all here, as if something took part of its soul, or maybe tried to create it out of nothing. Mm. The witches are doing that all the time…”
“Witches?” asked Seryth.
“Later,” said Arthur, pointing out another of the stone guardians up the ridge. “We should really take care of that, first, before we speak.”
So they did.
“Does my voidwalker not bother you?” Seryth asked after the fight. There had been no way of hiding that companion of his, either.
“The city people trade with folk from all over,” answered Arthur, in that air of having seen it all and not being bothered over much of it.
Seryth changed the subject. “Do you know how to help this dragon? I had thought maybe it needed a warm place: to incubate, so to speak…”
Arthur obligingly took the little whelpling from him and looked it over. It began to mewl, then shrill, the moment it left Seryth’s sling.
“It seems to have imprinted on you,” said Arthur with a smile, returning it to Seryth quickly. “I’d feed it a little more red meat if I were you, but it seems to be warm enough, so I wouldn’t worry about leaving the island. There’s something else not quite right about it, though, as I said before. Like it’s missing something. I’m not sure what. You might have to ask someone higher in my order.”
“Maybe I will,” said Seryth.
When they returned to Ranger Wons, another druid — Thornspeaker, Arthur corrected him — was with her. Arthur was sheepish in greeting the Thornspeaker: it seemed he had run off into the fray with the stone guardians without permission.
On Arthur’s encouragement, Seryth also showed the whelpling to the Thornspeaker. The Thornspeaker also seemed vaguely unnerved but mystified, and he suggested Seryth take the dragon on to his master, Ulfar.
Ulfar’s grove was a long way into the mountains, and Seryth took his leave of the camp to seek out Malfas in the woods. Malfas said he was well enough to bear Seryth that far, at least, but Seryth couldn’t help but notice that the dragon continued to be oddly wispy around the edges — even more so than a normal netherdrake.
“Mage-spawn,” Ulfar said dismissively of the whelpling, once Seryth had reached the grove and shown the tiny dragon to him.
“Pardon?” Seryth asked, trying to be polite. At least it was easier not to get angry when one was so tired all the time, he thought.
“Many experiment to bring the Black Dragonflight back to its former glory,” explained Ulfar, “but no mage can create life. This one has had its inborn corruption removed, but with the result it is but half a creature, half a soul.”
“Can I fix it?” said Seryth.
The great bear eyed him levelly, and snuffed at his chest. Seryth sidestepped away; the scaley scar was covered over by his robes, but he had a feeling Ulfar sensed it anyways.
“Perhaps by bonding to you,” Ulfar said slowly, “but I doubt that would be very pleasant for either of you in the long run. You would become dependent on it, and it on you. Should either of you die — which seems likely, given you mainlanders and your propensity to get in trouble — you would be in even worse off shape than you are now.”
“So then what?”
“I have heard of restoring souls,” said Ulfar thoughtfully. “There was a ren’dorei living in Stormwind who did such…”
“I do not want to go to Stormwind,” sayd Seryth quickly, flatly. It was very likely they would have heard of his crimes there, and he’d be executed.
“There is also the Shadowlands,” said Ulfar. “Pure anima might restore a half-soul to its full function. However, you are not strong enough yet to make the crossing into those lands.”
“I could give the whelpling to you, perhaps?” Seryth offered. “You could take it through–“
The bear snorted. “You think I’m still talking about the mage-spawn? I’m speaking of YOU, mainlander.”
Seryth said nothing.
“I do not know how you got into this state, though I could guess,” said Ulfar, casting a glance askance at Seryth’s voidwalker. “Something has hollowed you out on the inside, not permitted you to grow — but grow, all things that wish to go on living, must.”
“And how do you suggest I do that?” Seryth asked tersely. “Eat more vegetables?”
“Another realm I’ve heard of, called the Outlands,” suggested Ulfar.
“Another land requiring me to return to Stormwind to find a portal to it?”
“There is still a portal there in the Blasted Lands,” replied Ulfar. “If you do not wish to wither away entirely, that is where I’d suggest you seek. It may help with your dragon as well.
“Now, that is all I have to say to you. It’s not often I entertain demons in my grove, even one still blessed by Nature as that one is.”
The great bear sneered at the calico cat twining around Seryth’s feet. The cat — the imp in disguise — tilted up the corners of its mouth in the impression of an innocent smile, but Ulfar wasn’t amused.
“Healing, the Outlands may hold for you,” he told Seryth, “but further corruption for that one. Be cautious.”
“Thanks, I think,” said Seryth, and he turned to leave.