Both elves were grim as Ezran related his findings about Seryth’s resistance to them. “Do you know what drives such resistance?” Ezran asked. “I figured the footprints were yours, good Fordrellon, but I do not understand their riddle.”
Fordrellon’s expression was dour and sad. “I tried to turn him aside from the dark path he was going down, but I am certain I failed. It was in that inn that he discovered the truth about himself, I think, and the truth of the last shard. It lies inside him, and I believe it must have been manipulating him since it was first lodged there.”
“In the heart,” said Ezran to himself, sucking in a breath. “If we were to remove the shard, though… what then?”
“It may well kill him,” said Fordrellon. “He tried once before, in that very inn. The shard lies too deep, and only my intervention kept him from bleeding out that night. If anything is to save him, it will be his own will, countering the lies of the Nathsyssn’s demon. Of that, I have seen very little sign of coming to pass.”
“Then I see little choice but to force this demon, Ormmoth, to manifest, and slay him,” said Ezran finally. “If we can but draw them apart, we may be able to destroy its spirit without also destroying Seryth.”
“It would be less dangerous to kill Seryth before the demon’s power is fully realized in him,” said Daelin.
“I’m willing to take that chance,” said Ezran. “I faced with it once before. I can do so again.”
“That time, you had help,” said Daelin hotly, “nor did you fully complete the deed, or we wouldn’t be in this mess now!”
“I think the rogue is right,” said Fordrellon at length. “Though he’s fallen far since we first met, I would still count Seryth as a friend, and I do not abandon my friends lightly.”
“May the Light guide us, then,” said Ezran.
“Perhaps the riddle of the heart is more than just where the last shard lies,” Ezran went on. “Perhaps that also will be our leverage to draw the two apart from each other. The Mother of the Sprites told me something similar, that the wilds hold sway over Seryth and may yet save him. Do you know what that might mean?”
“From what the green drakes reported to me, they attacked us based on information given to them by Seryth, believing us to be demonic infiltatrators,” said Fordrellon.
“I’m not sure that is much good. The green dragons aren’t likely to serve him again after that mistake, are they?” asked Ezran. Fordrellon shrugged.
“His lover is a Farstrider from the Hinterlands,” said Daelin softly. “She wished to become one of the druids here.”
“Jalinde, wasn’t it?” said Ezran. “I remember her. She did not seem a very happy person.”
“Do you blame her?” said Daelin with a grunt. “Either way, it’s not of much use. We couldn’t find her after the assault. We believe she returned to him.”
“I worry for her,” said Fordrellon. “She may enable him more than save him, Ezran, for she has long believed his lies.”
“Lies, or the truth closer to his heart?” Ezran muttered.
“It seems we are at an impasse until the demons make their next move, in any case,” said Fordrellon. “The bulk of the invasion is yet to come, and I am not sure if it will strike before or after Ormmoth rises. The best thing we may do now is attempt to track down Seryth, and end it in one way or another once he is found.”
“That seems like a job for you, my old friend,” said Ezran to Daelin, who nodded with a frown.
“I will continue to reinforce Val’sharah,” said Fordrellon.
“And I have a date with a druid,” said Ezran thoughtfully. The other two looked at him severely, and he added, “Oh, not like that. I’m well past my courtship days. Nor do I think I could find Jalinde if you couldn’t, Master Farstrider. I mean these other druids, from whom Jalinde was seeking teaching. They might know more about this riddle of the heart.”
“If you think it best,” said Fordrellon. “Your blades are more than welcome on the front.”
“You won’t be convincing that one out of his scheming,” said Daelin with a sigh.
“Scheming was always my strength, over battle,” said Ezran cheerfully. “Otherwise, as you pointed out, I would have offed the demon properly, and we wouldn’t be in this situation. Trust me. It is best that I do this.”