Their broad circling brought them close to Blackrock Mountain. Seryth ducked close along the dragon’s neck as Malfas dived, landing on the Dark Iron bridge extruding from the mountain’s depths. The drake walked inside, sniffing the air.
“What are you about?” Seryth growled, but Malfas didn’t answer.
Seryth’s foreboding mixed with his awe as they entered the chamber of the Molten Span. Malfas put his front claws on the balcony and peered down into the lava below, then raised his head, sniffing and eyeing the chains suspending the center island above them.
“My kin are long gone from this place,” he finally said and fell back to all fours.
“I could have told you that,” grumbled Seryth. “What’s the big idea, risking our lives?”
Malfas again didn’t answer. As Seryth watched the back of the drake’s head, it occurred to him the nether-drake was just as homeless as he was.
“You wanted to meet them?” he asked, trying to be sensitive.
Malfas looked at him from the back corner of his eye.
“I never knew my own parents,” said Seryth. “Not my birth parents, at any rate. Daelin was the one who raised me.”
“Why do you hate him so?” asked Malfas.
“I don’t,” said Seryth, surprised the drake would think so.
“Your clenched jaw says otherwise,” observed Malfas.
Seryth paused. “I’m angry at him,” he admitted. “Maybe if he told me the truth about my past, none of this would have happened. None of us would have suffered so much.”
“You can’t know that for sure,” said Malfas.
“Can we know anything for sure?” Seryth said bitterly. He closed his eyes. Longing and pain for the past flooded him. Despite his mixed feelings, he did genuinely miss Daelin, Jalinde, Fordrellon — friends and family whom he had betrayed — and who he believed had betrayed him.
“They’re still alive,” Malfas pointed out. “You could go back to them, any time you wanted.”
“And what purpose would that serve?” said Seryth.
The drake snorted and looked back across the Molten Span. “At least you have the option.”
Seryth followed his gaze and softened. “I’m sorry about your kin,” he tried.
Malfas shrugged a wing.
“You never got to meet them. You never got to understand where you came from. I know what that’s like…”
“I don’t need your sympathy,” grumbled the drake, but Seryth thought he sensed Malfas’ gratitude. He reached down to scratch the dragon’s neck, who rumbled again and gave his head an irritable shake before settling.
“Dragons live alone, but you mortals don’t. How do you expect to go on living, little elf, without family or followers?”
Did he even want companionship? Seryth thought to himself. People were irritating and foolish, always bringing trouble. Nor was he entirely safe to be around, if the suffering his actions had inflicted on Thelsamar, Westfall, and Val’sharah were anything to go by.
“You have offspring?” pressed Malfas.
Yes, Seryth thought. “He would be better taken care of by Daelin and Jalinde.”
“Like Daelin took such good care of you?”
Seryth hesitated. “He doesn’t have a shard of Nathsyssn stuck in his chest like I did.”
“So you realize most of your troubles were caused by that demonic blade…”
A blade he no longer possessed — that no longer possessed him. Seryth hesitated.
“How does a dragon know who they are? That’s why you came here, yes? To understand your own past.”
“Maybe,” said Malfas, “or maybe it was you who needed to understand.”
Shortly after, Malfas leapt back into the air and flew across the Molten Span. They exited the mountain and continued flying north.
Seryth continued to think.