The Shaping of Seryth

Chapter 10: They slipped through the Dark Portal. No one called attention to them; perhaps travel between the Outlands and Azeroth was frequent enough it wasn't unusual, though Seryth had heard rumors to the contrary. They came out over a landscape as barren as Hellfire Peninsula had been. These were the Blasted Lands, once a swamp like the Swamp of Sorrows to the north, but corrupted with fel spreading from the Dark Portal until it resembled the Outlands on the other side.

Seryth knew he’d have to avoid any humans from the kingdom of Stormwind as well as any druids. He urged Malfas north, steering as close as he dared towards the Horde outposts in lieu of the Alliance’s.

When they crossed into the Swamp of Sorrows, Seryth strove to keep Malfas above the trees. They reached the first ridge of the Redridge Mountains, and Seryth spotted another draenic settlement below them. There was something different about the draenei he saw walking around down there, and laying aside his caution for the moment, Seryth landed among them.

The draenei were faded versions of themselves, twisted and deformed. Seryth felt a kinship towards them. He came to learn they, too, had been twisted by demons, now calling themselves the Broken. There was an Anchorite staying at the village that was trying to help them find their path back to the Light.

Swallowing his trepidation, Seryth approached the Anchorite, thinking they might find similar purpose. The Anchorite didn’t have much to say, however, for he was preoccupied by the sickness of his closest friend among the Broken. Seryth agreed to help him find reagents for spells of healing within the Swamp.

The whelpling took a marked interest in Seryth’s spell-casting as they came upon aggressive snakes — flying and the normal kind — while trekking through the swamp. Seryth felt an itching in his chest as he fought them off, closer to the surface than the shard of the Nathsyssn had been, but no less maddening. He was able to connect it to the whelpling when the former landed on his shoulder, chirping in inquiry, answered by a quiver in the scale patch on his chest.

The sensation made his blood ran cold. “Oh no you don’t!” Seryth cried, shooing the whelpling off with a fierce wave of his arm, almost knocking it out of the air as it took flight with a startled screel.

The whelpling landed on a tree branch and looked at him with reproach and confusion. Seryth suddenly felt terrible.

“We’re bleeding into each other,” he told it. “Ulfar warned me about that. We can’t let that happen, do you understand? You and I, we have to remain separate. Separate souls, separate beings.”

He looked up to find Malfas eyeing him with an unreadable expression. The nether-drake was growing increasingly recalcitrant as they journeyed together. Had Eli meant for this happen when she had given Seryth the whelp? He wondered. How had she planned to bring the black dragons back anyway? He looked at the whelp and thought maybe he knew…

The creature was still just a baby though, whatever Eli’s plans for it and for Seryth had been. Slowly, Seryth offered his arm out to it and it returned to his shoulder, nestling its nose in his hair almost apologetically. “We’ll figure out a way,” Seryth told it, “for both of us to grow stronger and whole.” Ignoring Malfas’ gaze, he continued on down the waterway.

When Seryth returned to the Harborage, the Anchorite had made little progress in saving his friend from the mystery illness. The Light was having no effect on the Broken, for he had been disconnected from it for too long, and the Anchorite was instead considering using elemental magic. There were pure manifestations of the elements in the Swamp of Sorrows, the Anchorite claimed, from a spring in the south and with the grell to the west. He asked Seryth to get them while he focused on keeping the Broken alive.

To Seryth’s surprise, his imp flat-out refused to attack the grell. Seryth vaguely remembered they were a kin species. He tried to convince the imp by saying perhaps the Anchorite could find a way to cleanse it of corruption too, reverting it back into a grell.

To his continued surprise, the imp took offense to this, and Seryth didn’t see it for the rest of the day.

“Seryth felt a vague tingle in his chest when he handled the elemental residue, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful as the connections Seryth had had with the whelpling or with the Nathsyssn.

It wasn’t strong enough for the Anchorite’s friend, either, and Seryth stood by in silence as the Anchorite comforted the Broken through his final moments.

“So is there no hope for redeeming the Broken?” Seryth asked the Anchorite, thinking of himself as well. The Anchorite professed not to know, too preoccupied with grief.

Seryth felt a flash of his old impatience, and he quickly shoved it down, not wanting to invoke any demons of his past. It was a disheartening note to end on, but Seryth saw no more use in sticking around. He said a few condolences, then took his leave before the Anchorite could reply.

Later, when the imp was done sulking, it remarked to Seryth that the Broken were better off remaining as they were, anyway. Seryth wasn’t sure if the imp had meant it in jest or all seriousness, nor was he sure he agreed.

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