Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Chapter 15-6

Almonihah wasn’t sure how many days it was before the first Ranger courier came by. It must have been weeks, though. He’d fallen so quickly into a routine that he’d lost track of time. You wouldn’t think that living in constant fear for your life, waking and sleeping, could become routine, but it had. It was still simultaneously terrifying and exciting at times, but somehow that was part of the routine, too.

Almonihah reported Lonan’s death, as well as the number of Javni’Tolkhrah he’d killed, to the courier. He said no when the courier asked if he needed a relief, and his only request when the courier asked what supplies he needed was for more arrows. The Ranger courier pulled a bundle of arrows out of his pack and handed them to Almonihah, and then was on his way.

The time passed swiftly. Seasons came and went, but they seemed not to matter so much this far south. Sometimes snow would be further down the mountainsides, and sometimes it was further up or just gone, but Almonihah paid it little mind. Hunting the Javni’Tolkhrah took almost all his concentration.

One thing the half-dragon found interesting was just how literal the Line was. He could tell the instant he stepped into the Madlands—there was a palpable difference in the air, in the light, in… everything. It was hard to put a claw on exactly what was so different, but it was a difference that he couldn’t miss.

At first, he stayed well away from the Madlands, even letting Javni’Tolkhrah who he’d been pursuing go if they crossed the Line. Then there was one who’d injured him that he just couldn’t let go. Once he brought it down, he realized he’d been in the Madlands for several minutes. Almonihah quickly returned to the other side of the Line, but not before he started thinking.

The Rangers had few tales of what went on in the Madlands—just what Falloen Surebow had learned in his time crossing them so many years ago, combined with a few observations from Rangers on the edges. They knew that normal animals that wandered south eventually came back north as twisted monstrosities. They knew that there was something… wrong about the very air and ground in the Madlands. Beyond that, there were just the stories from Falloen, about how, deep in the Madlands, even the land under your feet changed from stone to dirt to water.

So Almonihah started straying over the line sometimes. He never went far, and certainly never ate or slept on the other side of the Line, but he explored around a little. He still couldn’t figure out just what was different in the Madlands, just that something was subtly… wrong.

It had been winter once when Almonihah started to feel the fatigue setting in. Being constantly on edge like this took its toll, even for someone used to being watchful. The next time the courier came by, Almonihah asked for a relief. This was exactly why there were always a few Rangers around the Headquarters—no one could stay on the Line forever. It just wore you down.

It was about a month before another Ranger came to relieve Almonihah. The half-dragon was glad enough for the break by then. He’d had a couple of close calls that shouldn’t have been as close as they had been.

Traveling back to the Headquarters was uneventful. He reported to Imlloen when he got back. After the report, Imlloen asked him what he planned to do now.

“Not sure,” the half-dragon replied. “Guess I’ll stay here for a while ‘nd figure out.”

*****

Gasp! Another post! Amazing, isn’t it?

Anyway, this is a bit shorter of a post, but it sets things up for the next chapter, which is an important one. And then the chapter after that, Almonihah finally meets Zakhin’Dakh, and that will be a lot of fun.

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