Episode 8: The Fate of Xer’Thraxis

“Hold on! Just hold on!”

There was a desperation in Iliera’s voice as she cried out.

Sionis didn’t have time to feel desperate. He didn’t have time to wait for Iliera’s protection. Xer’Thraxis had forced their hand in this final battle. While most of the other Remnants fought onward toward Kil’Jaeden, Iliera, Sionis, and Fÿnn had been cut off, unable to press forward without first going through… him.

The demon’s first attack caught them all off guard when his blade swept across their path like lightning. Iliera was protected by the Light, but the force of the swing threw her backward. Fÿnn didn’t even see it coming. He took the hit and spiraled off to the side, sliding down the side of the Legion vessel that now carried them through the twisting nether. Sionis had caught the blade in his fire shield, gripping it with all his might and holding on for dear life.

Iliera, seeing that Sionis still stood, had opted to rush toward the lifeless Fÿnn, as he slid, toward the edge of the ship. Thankfully, Iliera was fast, and she swooped down to catch him before he fell away.

The dreadlord looked Sionis over for a long moment, then released his blade and slashed his fel-infused claws at the human with all his might. Sionis felt the tension fade in the demonic weapon and quickly dropped it, slipping through the twisting nether in the blink of an eye. Teleporting on this vessel was easier than it was back home, no doubt because he was already soaked in the energy of the nether. Xer’Thraxis roared in response, twisting around and slashing at Sionis with his massive blade once more. The mage easily dodged the attack and the sword slashed through the ship, cutting deep into the hull.

“I will destroy you,” the dreadlord said.

“You say that,” Sionis replied. “Over and over again you try to kill me, but you’re always the one getting sent back to the darkness where you came. Now, look at that, here we are. Where will you go when I kill you this time, Xer’Thraxis?”

“That’s the thing, Sepher. When I can just come back from the dead, why would I ever fight like my life depended on it? No, here in this moment, you will see the true me.”

With that, the dreadlord was in the air, faster than Sionis could anticipate. The fel-infused blade swept down and the mage was barely able to stop the momentum with a fire blast. Xer’Thraxis came at him again and again, each swing of the blade gaining momentum and power. Sionis did what he could to deflect and dodge, but he couldn’t get his footing for a counter. He reached into the nether, ready to blink again, when he suddenly felt an icy grip close around his chest.

“Fool,” the demon rumbled. “The nether is my home. You cannot run through it without me knowing!”

Now, he began to squeeze. The pressure against Sionis’ ribs would have been bad enough, but the demonic hands began to burn through his regalia. He could feel the fel corruption as it seeped toward his flesh.

“It ends, human,” Xer’Thraxis said proudly. “Once and for all, you are ended.”

Sionis pressed back against the demon’s grip with magic, and for a moment he nearly wriggled free, but the dreadlord wasn’t letting him slip away.

“Your magic won’t protect you forever,” he growled.

“It doesn’t have to,” Sionis replied.

“Your confidence is sickening. I will be happy when I am rid—”

The purple glowing crystals of Iliera’s mace collided with Xer’Thraxis’ face so hard that Sionis was nearly certain they cracked on impact. The dreadlord was thrown from his feet, and his grip around the mage released. Sionis tumbled for a moment, then righted himself and teleported himself to Iliera’s side.

“Is Fÿnn okay?” he asked.

“He’s not great.”

“So what now?”

“We finish this,” she said. “Together.”

Sionis smiled at her. “Let’s do it.”

Xer’Thraxis recovered his stance and turned to face the two of them. Before anyone could speak, the Legion vessel trembled and the swirling vortex of the twisting nether vanished, revealing only the great dark beyond.

Behind the dreadlord, floating alone in space, was a planet.

“By the Light,” Iliera stammered. “Argus.”

Xer’Thraxis used this moment to strike. He thrust himself at Iliera with all his might. The paladin, having been distracted for a moment, was not ready. The demon’s blade rushed straight for Iliera’s heart, but it was knocked off course by another mace, this one glowing with the energy of the Light.

Fÿnn rose beside them, his eyes alight with holy energy and his armor stained with blood.

“We finish this,” he said flatly. “Now or never. I feel like I’m gonna pass out.”

Sionis nodded and quickly conjured a fire blast. As he formed it into a ball of energy, he looked to Iliera and raised a brow. “Ready to strike?”

“Always,” she said.

“Here it comes!”

Sionis tossed the magical ball of energy into the air and waited until Iliera’s mace crashed into it, sending it directly at Xer’Thraxis’ head. The demon cried out in agony, unable to dodge the speed of the attack. The blast sent him tumbling and he tripped backward, beginning to slide off the vessel.

“No!” Sionis shouted. “He doesn’t get away again!”

The mage conjured several icy spikes, thrusting them through the air. They came down on Xer’Thraxis, slicing into his body and pinning him against the side of the ship. The demon sent another blast of fel energy at them, but Iliera blocked it with ease. In a heartbeat they stood over him, the three heroes of the Alliance, and the dreadlord expressed something that Sionis had never seen in all of his confrontations.

Fear.

“Please,” Xer’Thraxis begged. “Do not kill me!”

“Why would I spare you?”

“Death. Permanent death. I do not want to die.”

Iliera gestured to the planet above them. “This destruction is your fault. You know nothing but death, dreadlord. It is fitting that you can now face it for yourself.”

Again, the Legion vessel began to tremble. A deep rumble came from within, shaking the hull with deep vibrations.

“What is that?” Iliera asked.

Xer’Thraxis looked pale. “He… No, it cannot be. He has fallen!?”

“Who?” Iliera asked.

“Kil’Jaeden.”

“You failed, Xer’Thraxis,” Sionis said. “You tried three times to destroy us, and we just keep pushing back harder each time. You say we’ll be purged, but you stand at the brink of your very existence. Your fate is in my hands; the hands of a mortal.”

“I will do anything for my life,” the dreadlord said, turning back to begging.

“There is nothing for you to do,” Fÿnn said. “Except run.”

“What?” Sionis asked. “What are you saying?”

“Leave him here,” Fÿnn replied. “He knows the power of Azeroth and her denizens. There is no point in him continuing to fight us.”

The human paladin turned to the demon. “I don’t care where you go from here, but the Legion will fall, as it has before, and you can choose to fall with it, or you can make another path.”

“I will flee,” Xer’Thraxis said. “Into the nether. You will never hear from me again.”

“Good,” Fÿnn replied.

“Are we sure about this?” Iliera asked.

Fÿnn gave a firm nod. “This is how it must end.”

With that, Sionis turned from the edge of the ship and his jaw nearly hit the floor.

A massive portal was swirling open before them, on the far side of it, he could see Azeroth.

“What is that?” he asked.

“A portal of some kind,” Iliera replied. “That’s our way home.”

“We should meet up with the others and get off this ship.”

The group started to move and almost instantly Xer’Thraxis broke his restraints to stand behind them. “That was your final mistake, mortals.”

The dreadlord thrust a fel-blast unlike anything Sionis had felt before. It hurtled toward the three heroes and Sionis knew he couldn’t protect himself. The Light descended on Iliera, shielding her almost instantly, and then, to Sionis’ surprise, a shield of Light protected him as well.

The green blast washed over them and, as the Light retreated, Fÿnn collapsed beside them.

It hit the mage like a bag of bricks. The paladin had protected him instead of using his powers to stay safe.

Sionis’ body erupted into fire. Arcane, frost, and fire magic swirled through his very being. He launched himself at Xer’Thraxis, coating his hands with icy spikes when he landed his first several punches. The dreadlord, weakened by his powerful attack, fell to the ground in the assault. Sionis gave him no quarter, pressing his flaming hands to the demon’s skull and releasing all of the magical energy he could.

Xer’Thraxis screamed, he growled, he roared.

Then he begged. Then, as the fire engulfed him, he died.

He died. For the last time.

The fire swirled around Sionis, his rage unsated by the kill. He turned his anger on the vessel itself, firing magic from his fingers until the metal glowed red from the energy.

“Sionis!” Iliera shouted. “Stop!”

Her voice cut through his mind like a knife and it soothed the flames in his heart. The flames began to die away, and he was soon left standing in a smouldering mess. The vessel continued to shake and he wondered if they would have the chance to escape at all, but then he spotted Aebaloth approaching from the far ramp.

“Sionis!” the demon hunter shouted.

“You did it?” Sionis asked.

“Yes, now hurry up! We need to get out of here.”

Iliera and Sionis quickly pulled Fÿnn up and Sionis saw that the paladin was still alive.

“Hang in there,” he said. “We’re almost out of this.”

The three of them met with their demon hunter ally and pressed forward to where the others had brought their enemy to his knees. Not far, Khadgar stood summoning a magical spell.

“Everyone,” the Archmage shouted. “Get ready!”

A moment later, they were all teleported to the surface of their own world once more.

Sionis shifted his attention to Fÿnn, gently lowering him to the soft ground.

“We make it?” the human paladin asked.

“We did,” Iliera replied.

“Boss,” he said with a smile. “I knew we could do it.”

Iliera smiled and a single tear streamed down her face.

“Listen,” Fÿnn added, looking to both of them. “This last year, fighting by your sides and learning so much from you, it was amazing. I’m proud to have had that opportunity.”

His breathing was slowing.

“Hold on,” Iliera said as she tightly gripped his hands. “We’re getting a priest.”

“It’s okay,” he replied. “This is right. It feels… right.”

Sionis frowned. “Not like this.”

Iliera glanced up at him. “What can we do?”

“It’s a trick I learned a long time ago,” Sionis said, leaning down over Fÿnn. “Close your eyes, kid.”

Taking a deep breath, Sionis reached back through his memories and tried to remember exactly how the spell worked. It was druidic in nature, not his specialty, but a powerful druid had walked him through the steps, helping him to mimic the process using arcane power.

He reached within his own magical essence, searching for the pulsing power of his life force. Deep within, beneath the arcane and physical layers, he found the source.

His soul.

He didn’t need much, just a small piece.

With that in hand, he reached into Fÿnn’s life force and did the same as before, seeking out the boy’s soul within. He found it, weakened by the fel energy, and with the two locations tied to his mind, Sionis began the magical transfer of energy and life.

Physically, the mage did nothing. He stood there with his eyes closed while Iliera looked to the dying paladin. She waited for him to pass, but instead, a flash of light spread through Fÿnn’s body and he jerked up from the ground with start.

Sionis’ eyes opened and he slid down to his knees, clearly weakened from the delicate procedure he had just performed.

“What just happened?” Fÿnn asked, his heart racing.

“You are part of me,” Sionis replied. “I am part of you. So long as I live, so shall you.”

Then, Sionis passed out.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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