Although he knew that they were phantasms, such was the power of his adversary that Malfurion had to struggle to remember that. Such visions had been what had initially set the night elf off guard enough for Xavius to capture him.
"Not this time," Malfurion muttered. The archdruid clamped both hands together and molded what he held in his palms.
From Malfurion's hands sprouted a long, silver staff. The shadow tree recoiled. Yet it was not the staff alone that caused the archdruid's foe to be taken aback, it was that the staff had been formed from the very essence of the true tree that was Xavius, the Nightmare Lord. Malfurion, with his ancient knowledge and long practice, had brought a part of the physical world with him when he had entered by dreamform. It had taken much strain, but the need was there.
Raising the staff above his head, Malfurion spun it around and around. Emerald and gold streaks of energy flew from the tips. The streaks ate away at the mist.
"From what has stolen the Dream will come its salvation!" the archdruid proclaimed.
The macabre branches of the shadow tree receded further into the mist. Malfurion pressed toward it.
The ghastly visions of his past swarmed him, but the staff cut through them as if they were air. They vanished with terrible sighs.
He came within sight of the ax but did not go near it. Rather, Malfurion continued after the shadow of the tree.
But the Nightmare Lord was no longer retreating. Xavius perhaps sensed what Malfurion had known from the beginning.
One long, bony shadow darted forth from the tree. The shadow limb sought the archdruid's chest. Malfurion had no choice but to defend. Staff and shade met in a brief, dark flash.
A tiny bit of the shadow fell away from the limb, immediately dissipating. Yet in the night elf's head, Xavius chuckled. The Nightmare Lord knew that he could not destroy what had been drawn from his physical essence, but neither was it sufficient to cause him harm.
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