At first, Seryth had planned to circle above the camps and consider a way to convince the ren’dorei to speak to him — whether through honest negotiation or through infiltration. Malfas decided his course of action for him, though, diving out of the sky on the first elf he saw. The rest of the ren’dorei reacted accordingly, readying weapons and spells, and Seryth just sighed.
Seryth drove the ren’dorei back, just as much out of self-defense as anything else. The mana-rich atmosphere of Netherstorm lent power to his spells, and Seryth found his abilities were almost on par as when he had been under the control of the Nathssysn.
After the battle, Malfas alit on top of his first kill, and Seryth looked away as the dragon did what predators do.
“You should search the bodies, yes?” said the dragon after a minute. “Perhaps you’ll find something that Torvos elf wants.”
“This isn’t how I wanted this to go,” said Seryth.
“Why does it matter?” said the dragon. “You’ll get what you wanted: information you can exchange to see your precious Sunwell. With access to the Sunwell, you can heal the little one. That used to be enough for you, wasn’t it?”
Seryth looked down at the whelpling in the sling. It looked better from the mana in the air, though it still showed little interest in moving of its own accord.
“It was good enough for me once…but now, it isn’t,” said Seryth slowly. “Not caring about the methods I used got the people of Westfall impoverished and slain. My foster father…murdered. His blood is on my hands because I was impatient and did things the wrong way.”
Seryth sank to his knees. Malfas made a derisive noise and returned to eating.
“You have the power,” Malfas said after another minute, as he began sniffing another corpse. “With all the mana here, you could cast all the spells you used to. Why not use that power?”
“Because it is evil…”
The dragon snorted. “Am I evil for being so strong? I could kill you with a claw, with my breath, with just flying you into the sky and dropping you from a height. Does that make me evil?”
He had a point, Seryth conceded. Malfas certainly had the power to kill him several times over, but he never used it. Well, no, that wasn’t quite right. He did use it, but not in a way it hurt Seryth.
Perhaps the power was only evil in the manner one put it to use.
Seryth looked down at the whelpling. Having a good reason was no longer good enough, though. If he was going to heal the little dragon, he couldn’t do it by taking life away from another recklessly.
“I’m not happy about this,” he said to Malfas. “These ren’dorei. We had no idea what they were doing here, if maybe Torvos was wrong they were threats. I intend to do it properly and investigate before we go any further.”
Malfas snorted and grumbled, but he didn’t disagree.
After a promise to not go attacking any more ren’dorei without warning, they took to the sky, circling the mana-forge. Several camps of ren’dorei clustered around the old building. Some seemed to be experimenting with magical energies. Others were stockpiling weapons.
“For defense or attack?” Seryth wondered outloud.
“They could be turned to either pretty quickly,” remarked Malfas.
Some distance off, Seryth could make out the white walls of the goblin trade town, Area 52. When their scouting from the air revealed nothing conclusive, Seryth turned Malfas towards it, thinking maybe the goblins had seen something.
As it was, a few ren’dorei also lived in or at least were visiting the town. Seryth introduced himself to them. One claimed she was a researcher and offered Seryth coin for retrieving a magical artifact from a nearby draenei ruin. The other mentioned a demonic presence in the same set of ruins that he was monitoring with some unease.
Seryth supposed it couldn’t hurt to help them, at least until he could tell what they were up to. He took a communication device from Ravandwyr, the second elf, and told the first that he would be back if he found the artifact.
Before he could leave, a trio of goblins, fresh from their shift, walked past. They conjoled Ravandwyr into performing a magic trick for them, and, with a sigh, Ravandwyr complied, casting a simple spell that made him appear as if he were breathing out fire.
The goblins left, seeming satisfied, though Ravandwyr remarked to Seryth that he personally hated the display. The ren’dorei here were exiles, and he had to make ends meet however he could.
“My companion thinks maybe we can find profit by digging in these old ruins. I only hope she is correct.”
Seryth made a non-commital remark and took his leave.
It turned out the reports of a demonic presence were underreported. The ruins of Arklon were veritably infested with them.
Carefully, Seryth subjugated one of the felhounds, using its keen senses to track down the artifact the ren’dorei wanted. It was a draenic crystal, or so Seryth assumed, given these were draenei ruins. He supposed it was better off in the hands of the ren’dorei than the demons and so took it with him.
As he was leaving the ruins he was accosted by a type of demon he did not have a name for. It took the form of a tall red-skinned woman with four arms. She attacked him near immediately, shouting something about the sneaking elf being back. A few felhounds from the ruins joined in the fray, but Seryth wove his magic with the confidence of long practice, even though the sheer power of the Nathssysn was no longer his.
After he slew the demons, he made note of the she-demon’s face, resolving to tell Ravandwyr about it when he returned to Area 52.