Instead, a tingly sensation came over him, like too much magic in the air. He looked up to see the sharp face and faded wings of a nether drake in the air above.
“Master sends!” cried the imp. Seryth said nothing as the dragon eased its talons around him and lifted him into the air.
They flew for Dalaran. Seryth pressed his face against the dragon’s scales, expecting trouble, but he heard no exclaims of surprise from the citizenry or their arcane guards. The drake brought him to the balcony of a tower apartment, high above the city streets. The dragon laid Seryth out on the stone, and Seryth closed his eyes, dipping in and out of consciousness.
“The shard has already worked its way free of your body.”
Whenever Seryth rode closer to the surface of waking, he heard a voice, a woman’s voice, soft and high like another elf’s.
“Jalinde?” he asked the darkness.
“Not long to live, we think,” he heard his imp say.
“Be quiet,” he muttered at it, but his anger didn’t have the same bite as before.
“Don’t shush my imp,” said the woman’s voice again, indignant, and Seryth subsided. It definitely wasn’t Jalinde. “He may have saved your life, after all.”
“Not yet,” said the imp.
“A pity you couldn’t bring him to me before he lost the shard,” said the woman.
“Too stubborn,” said the imp, and Seryth heard the woman chuckle.
“Who–” he couldn’t finish the sentence before he dipped down into darkness again.
Seryth woke up in a sparsely furnished apartment. The furniture was simple and covered in books. When he sat up, he even kicked a few off the foot of his bed.
He felt strong enough to walk and stood shakily. The room only had one exit, a door, and he weakly shuffled towards it.
On the the side of the door, a sin’dorei woman sat at a desk. Her blonde hair was cut short, her eyes green either from fel use or a heritage laced with fel users. She was studying a row of jars. Seryth smelled the tang of arcane magic everywhere.
“It’s good to see you up and about,” said the woman without looking up.
“Who–?” started Seryth.
“You’ve already asked that. And I already answered, but I don’t guess you remember.” She swiveled around in her chair. One eye was magnified oddly by her crystal monocle. “Well, you don’t look like you’re falling apart anymore.”
“No thanks to that dragon that hauled me here,” Seryth muttered.
“Don’t speak badly of my child,” said the elf severely.
“In a manner of speaking. Now, I fixed the wound on your chest, and that means you owe me. Mother always said never to give anything away for free. Everything has a price.”
nSeryth felt down to his chest. It didn’t hurt anymore, nor did it feel like it had any holes in it. The skin felt rough through the loose robe, and he pulled away his unfastened collar to look at it.
It looked almost as if someone had plastered a glossy blue-black ointment across his chest, shaping it into scales as they went. The scaling was hard, and it itched and then stung when Seryth tried to pick one off.
Seryth blinked up at the woman. “Who ARE you?”
“Eli, to you,” said the elf. She spun around in her chair, lifting her arms into the air like a school child. “I’m a flesh-crafter. Learned from my mother and someone my sister likes to call Mister Icey-Hot. She always did love the bad boys…she’d probably love you, too, if you let her. Isn’t my patching job wonderful?”
“You…put a dragon in me,” Seryth said stupidly.
“Oh, don’t be silly,” said Eli. “You’ve had enough things in you already, and not nearly enough of YOU. That was just a gift from my child, to keep you from dying until you woke up.”
There was a rumble outside the window, and a nether drake stuck its head through the window above Eli’s desk. Eli scritched its chin and held up a jar for the drake to see, but Seryth couldn’t see through its opaque glass.
“I’m…struggling to see how a creature so large could’ve been your child,” Seryth remarked.
“Everyone comes from somewhere,” said Eli, and she swiveled back to face him. “Including you. Where do you come from, Slain Nathssysn?”
Seryth shuddered as memories of who he had been when he had carried that name — and what he had done — rose up from the back of his mind. “I assume you want the answer to be a mother and a father.”
Eli’s drake chuckled, and she also grinned at him crookedly.
“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Seryth went on. “I knew neither of them. They both died when I was young.”
Eli had turned back to the drake. “Are you so sure about that?”
“I’d say you should return to Westfall and clean up the mess you made,” said Eli, “but I don’t think you’re strong enough. You’ll need to lie low for a while. You really upset the druids of Val’sharah.” She shuffled through the jars on her desk, and picked up one glowing red.
“What’s that?” asked Seryth.
“One of my favorites!” said Eli, holding it out to him and uncapping it. A puff of sulpher-smelling smoke pushed past him, and Seryth gagged.
Once the smoke cleared, he could see a tiny dragon whelping, colored obsidian, curled inside the jar. It was misshapen somehow, its proportions wrong, not nearly as chubby as a whelpling should be.
“What IS that?” Seryth demanded.
“Gulliver,” said Eli. The whelpling, as if hearing its name, lifted its head. Seryth thought it looked more like a snake than a dragon, and it even moved like one as it uncurled from its jar, grasping the rim with tiny black claws. It lifted itself out and clung along the top, blinking at him weakly, rather like a newborn lamb, Seryth suddenly thought.
“What am I supposed to do with it?”
“What am I supposed to do with him?”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Eli. “You’re the farmer from Westfall, not me. Feed him milk, let him sleep in your bed? But don’t feed him after midnight — or no, is that wolpertingers…either way, be careful with my child!”
Seryth squinted at her, looking back and forth between the shivering whelpling and Eli. “Are you a dragon?”
The sin’dorei started laughing, then stopped as suddenly as if she had choked. “No,” she said. “Only I thought it rather sad the black dragons were wiped out. I know what it’s like to be lonely. My mother and I both do…so I helped. I helped them the only way I knew how.”
Seryth suddenly he knew he didn’t want to ask, and Eli was back to smiling at him again, almost as if she was sane.
“Anyway. You should take him somewhere hot. Or somewhere nether-y. It’s up to you, though I warn you, you’ll shape whatever he becomes. You’re in charge, now.”
“You’re in charge now.”
Eli’s voice echoed in his head as her netherdrake, whom Seryth now knew as Malfas, lifted them up over Dalaran. Again no one seemed to note their passing.
“She doesn’t just mean the dragon, does she?” Seryth asked the imp, who was astride the dragon’s tail and seemed to be having the time of its life.
“You’re both rather like babies,” said the imp with a grin. “Shivering, mewling, so helpless. You don’t know what to do without your big daddy Nathssysn in your chest!”
“Don’t talk about that,” Seryth snapped.
The imp laughed and did a handstand, holding on even as the netherdrake began to bank, circling the flying city. “It’s true though, isn’t it? You even admitted it yourself!”
Seryth chose not to answer, instead glancing down. The whelpling, Gulliver, was huddled inside his robe for warmth, pressed up against the scales on his chest. It WAS shivering, slightly, and Seryth recalled Eli’s advice.
“Somewhere hot,” he said to the imp. “We’re in the middle of the sea. What’s the nearest tropical island?”
“That would be Vol’dun,” said the imp, now balancing on its tail on top the tail.
“Isn’t Vol’dun a desert?”
“And an island. And tropical,” said the imp.
“That doesn’t even make sense!”
“Neither do you,” said the imp, making a raspberry, than snapping its fingers and disappearing in a puff of felfire.
Seryth groaned. Some things never changed. Still, he didn’t have any better place to go, and he called on Malfas to change course to the south.