The Shaping of Seryth

Chapter 21: Seryth returned to Ulfar, flying on Malfas' wings. The archdruid looked him over, confirming but not asking that he was ready to cross into the Shadowlands with the whelpling, to seek anima for them both. The archdruid led Seryth to an ancient cave in Drust Var. He lay down on the leaf-strewn floor and closed his eyes as he was bidden. Roots and thorns closed over him, squeezing tight, and he heard the stones hum with old power. He felt a drop in the pit of his stomach just as his spirit was yanked elsewhere...

He woke up in a lush forest cloaked in twilight. Old fears choked him, and he lay still, until an oversized moth, big as his hand, lit on his nose.

Seryth sat up, pushing it away. The whelpling gave a little trill and clung to his shoulder.

Malfas hadn’t crossed over, and with trepidation, Seryth reached for the spells to summon his old felsteed for transportation instead. Reaching across the planes was just as easy — if not easier — as it had been on Azeroth, and the felsteed appeared. He had a brief battle with it, the emptiness of his chest aching as he subjugated it without the Nathssysn’s help.

After this Seryth cast an illusion on it to make it appear as a black courser again, taking advisement from his surroundings that the denizens of the forest wouldn’t appreciate demons in their lands. He was uncomfortably reminded of Val’sharah as he rode slowly through the woods.

Deer and other creatures lived in the woods, and after some hesitation, Seryth hunted one down with shadow magic and tried its meat. It tasted little different from venison, and the whelpling seemed energized when it took tidbits of it from Seryth.

The forests had no sun, and without it, Seryth had a difficult time of telling where he was going. He came upon a path of bare dirt and followed it.

Following the path led him to a village nestled in what might have been at one time the stump of an ancient tree. The people living there — half goat and half man — seemed just as intrigued by his appearance as he was of them.

Not all of them were so friendly. Molan, a different species that reminded Seryth of Cenarius, asked him suspiciously if he was part of the Drust, having ridden in from that part of the forest.

“No, though I’ve heard of them,” said Seryth cautiously, thinking back to the ancient magic he had sensed — and fought against — in Kul Tiras.

“I’ve come here seeking anima,” he said, changing the subject. This only seemed to deepen Molan’s suspicions, though Seryth couldn’t imagine why. Irritated, Seryth asked if he helped with the Drust problem, if Molan might trust him more. Molan nodded slightly in agreement.

Following Molan’s directions, Seryth rode out of Hibernal Hollow, on a road paved with smoothed wood instead of cobblestones. He came upon another village, which Molan had called Shimmerbough, though this one was populated with moth-like creatures named faeries.

They were being attacked by a force Seryth recognized: the Drust. Seryth crashed into them, using primarily Shadow magic so he didn’t threaten the ever-present forest foliage with fire. That magic seemed easier to draw on in the Shadowlands than it had been on Azeroth as well — logical enough, when one thought about it, Seryth thought with a snort.

Without thinking about it, Seryth summoned the voidwalker he had created out of the stone from Drust Var. The faeries immediately recognized it, and Seryth quickly had to reassure them that the construct was under his control.

“In the same way they control us?” asked one of the more inquisitive. Seryth said he wasn’t sure what was meant. The faerie pointed to one of their slain enemies: one of the goat-people now wearing a Drust mask. “Could you help us undo the spell?” pressed the faerie.

Seryth answered that he wasn’t sure, though he pried off the mask to study it.

As he patrolled the outskirts of the village, he found more masked fae. He discovered if he pried the masks off relatively quickly, before the possession set in, the fae would return to normal. Others, it only served to enrage.

From one of the faeries so saved, Seryth learned of a ritual the Drust performed to bring the fae under control. The faerie fearfully pointed him to a platform in the boughs far above where one of the Drust was even now preparing another ritual. Seryth kicked his felsteed into the air to stop it.

The Drust, in response, turned the same ritual on him. The magic gripping him reminded Seryth of the Nathssysn, and he fought it, breaking through the fog long enough to slay the Drust and pry the mask off his face.

The slaying of their leader demoralized the rest of the Drust, and they withdrew from Shimmerbough. Seryth was able to return to Molan, victorious, though he kept the mask, wrapped in cloth to conceal it and buried in his pack.

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