Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chapter 17-2

You’ve been in and out of consciousness for almost a week now, Almonihah. Don’t overdo it,” the elf said, concern evident in his tone and voice.


“A week?” Almonihah rasped. He could vaguely remember a few brief moments of consciousness, but a week?


Imlloen nodded. “You’re lucky you crashed close enough to a Ranger that he heard you. I don’t think you would have made it if Aled hadn’t gotten to you immediately, though you owe at least as much to Brynmor.”


Almonihah started to nod, then decided against it as tilting his head made the world start to spin. He laid back down. Brynmor was a Druid, and the official healer for the Rangers at the Northern Ranger Headquarters. From what he remembered, he probably had needed the Druid’s help badly when they found him.


“Speaking of Brynmor,” the Ranger Commander said, standing and walking toward the door, “He’ll want to know you’re up.”


Almonihah took stock of himself while Imlloen was out of the room. He seemed to be all in one piece, and though he was vaguely sore… everywhere, really, it seemed he could move everything. Including the wings that were still on his back. Which made him notice that laying on his back, even with the pains whoever had laid him here had obviously taken, was not particularly comfortable any more. He tried sitting up, slowly this time, and with considerable support from the wall the bed he was on was pushed up against.


By the time he’d gotten himself situated somewhat comfortably, Imlloen came back in with Brynmor. The Druid rushed over to his patient.


“What are you sitting up for? You…”


“’t’s too uncomfortable t’ lay on these,” Almonihah interrupted, moving his wings slightly to indicate what he was referring to.


Brynmor shook his head. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea yet, but,” he sighed, “I suppose it’s too late now. Now then, let’s check things over.”


Almonihah endured in silence as the Druid poked and prodded some particular points on his limbs, and especially on his wings. “You had a number of broken bones when we found you,” he explained to his patient as he did so. “It seems like Naishia’s blessings have done their work, though. It was…” he fell silent for a moment, then said, his tone a bit more subdued, “Something… resisted me at first. For a time, it seemed I might not be able to do anything for you.”


The half-dragon grunted in acknowledgement. “Stayed out there too long,” he muttered.


Imlloen sighed. “I’d thought we’d lost you earlier, but I can’t say I was happy to see you when you were carried in. Not like you were.” He was silent for a long moment, then said, “But it’s good to have you back now.”


“You’re probably hungry,” Brynmor interjected. “I have just the thing… be back in a moment…” he went back out the door.


Imlloen watched him leave, then turned back to Almonihah. “Feel up to telling me what happened?” He asked, quietly.


The half-dragon grunted. “Yeah, th’ short version.”


Imlloen sat back down, attentive. Almonihah considered for a moment, then started, “Th’ Madlands ‘re a lot bigger than they were in Falloen’s time. Took me three times ‘s long t’ get to th’ Desolation of the Dragonfall ‘s he did.”


The elf narrowed his eyes, but said nothing. After a moment’s pause, Almonihah continued, “Ran out ‘f supplies. Had t’ eat or die.” He shrugged very slightly. “Just about died anyway.”


The room was silent for a minute or two before he added, softly, “His voice is in the wind down there. Jivenesh’s. Didn’t know what it was at first, but after I ate even that one meal…”


It was quiet again in the room. After another few moments, Brynmor came back in with a bowl of steaming broth.


“Here, this should do the trick,” he said, seating himself near the half-dragon. He filled a spoon and started lifting it to Almonihah’s mouth.


“Can do that,” he muttered.


“No, you can’t,” Brynmor replied, “And I rather not have you spill any of this broth trying.”

*******

No, Almonihah’s not the type to convalesce quietly. But I think I’ll spare you most of his orneriness and skip to some more interesting things next post.

Chapter 17-1

Chapter 17: Refuge

Almonihah returned from consciousness only slowly. The first thing he became aware of was the smell of the room around him. At least, he was pretty sure it was a room—the odors around him seemed like cut wood and earth, like the cabins of Ranger Headquarters would smell. The smells seemed… much more intense, somehow, or perhaps he was simply much more aware of them. Certainly there seemed to be a number of them he didn’t recognize.


Next he became aware of the sounds in the room. Someone was breathing near him… probably sitting, given that it sounded close to his level and he was laying down on his side, on what felt like some furs. The person was holding mostly still, just moving occasionally.


Almonihah frowned a bit as these thoughts sunk in. It was… odd for him to figure this out. Normally he didn’t get this much information out of smell and hearing, despite the emphasis Zrathanzon had put on paying attention to all his senses. He wondered if it was just because he had his eyes closed, so he was paying attention to his ears and nose more.


So, he opened his eyes. He was, as he had thought, in a cabin. He was pretty sure it was at Ranger Headquarters, given that Commander Imlloen was sitting on a chair next to him. The elf noticed Almonihah open his eyes.


“Are you actually with us this time, Almonihah?”


Almonihah winced. His voice seemed loud after he’d been listening so intently to the near-silence in the room. He tried to respond, but his voice came out as a raspy mumble.


“Here.” Imlloen held a waterskin out to the half-dragon.


Almonihah tried to sit up, and almost fell back down. Instead, he eased himself back down and slowly grabbed the waterskin with one hand. After a couple of swallows, he felt like he might be able to speak again.

***

Short post. I got kind of distracted over the weekend. But yes, Almonihah’s not dead.

Chapter 16-3

Almonihah had thought he had been traveling as fast as possible before. Now, as he turned back north, he knew he’d only been traveling as fast as was safe. But safety now lay in getting out of the Madlands as fast as possible, for if he ran out of supplies before getting out…


It seemed the Madlands themselves recognized his peril, and fought to keep him trapped within them. Everything—land, vegetation, and animal life, conspired to slow his progress, but somehow the Ranger pressed on, driven on by urgency. He rationed his supplies as much as he dared, but he knew that he needed his strength to survive the journey, so he dared not ration too much.


His water was the first thing to run out. He hated to drink straight from the streams in the Madlands, but he had no choice. At least he had gotten far enough that they flowed in from outside the Madlands… or so he hoped. He wasn’t eating very much, but he could survive for longer on little food than no water.


The worst part was, he had no idea how far he had to go. The land itself was different from when he’d come this way—the landmarks were different, even the terrain was different. It made it hard to feel like he was making progress. He knew how many days he’d been traveling in each direction, but there were times he almost wondered if the stars themselves were different in this place, and if that was so, how was he sure he was even headed north…?


The worst part, though, is that he knew the Madlands were starting to affect him. He could swear sometimes that he could almost understand voices in the wind, and he was starting to feel like something was always watching him. Sometimes a Javni’Tolkhrah was, of course, but even when there wasn’t anything else moving around him, Almonihah could swear something was watching.


His food ran out. He kept going, hoping that he was near the edge of the Madlands, but he could feel himself getting weaker. Eventually, he knew he would have to eat something. He killed an animal that seemed to not be too badly changed by the Madlands, and ate.


That night, as he slept, he dreamed. It was a fitful, uneasy dream at first, but then it resolved into something… more. It was the sound of the wind… except this time he could understand a voice in it.


It was calling his name.


“I will give you what you have always wanted, Almonihah…” The voice chilled him to the bone.


Before he could respond, the half-dragon felt an agonizing pain shoot through him. He cried out, unsure if he was awake or asleep. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted, but when at last it subsided, he felt an odd… weight on his back. Stumbling to his feet, sure now he was awake, he looked in a nearby pond… and saw a pair of draconic wings on his back.


“This is just the beginning…” Even awake, he could understand the voice in the wind. And he knew whose it was.


Roaring out his defiance, Almonihah starting running to the north. But that was too slow. He spread his wings and took to the air, flapping furiously to try to get more speed.


“You cannot escape me, Almonihah…”


Almonihah didn’t know how long he flew. He only knew that he had to get away, get far, far away from the Voice, to where he couldn’t hear it any more. He was conscious of nothing else, not his fading strength, nor how the tops of the trees below were getting closer. Not until he clipped a branch with a wing and went crashing down through the canopy to the ground below did he notice how low he had gotten, and by then, it was too late.


The last thing he could remember before he drifted into unconsciousness was hearing mad laughter on the wind.

******

 Whoops, I guess I was wrong. Almonihah does die.

Okay, no he didn’t. But it’s a cliffhanger! Oh, no! What are you going to do if I suddenly get busy and don’t write for another month? Ok, I’m not going to do that. But yes, this is why Almonihah has wings later in his life despite not being born with them. It also explains some other things about him and his wings, that you will see shortly.

Chapter 16-2

Almonihah traveled for about a week without anything unexpected happening. He fought several more Javni’Tolkhrah, and every time, it seemed the land itself was fighting against him. He quickly learned to not trust tree branches, overhangs, rocky outcroppings… all betrayed him at critical moments. Other things seemed more… wrong about the land as he went further south, as well. Trees bent in unnatural ways, lush jungle areas bordered on dessicated deserts, until it seemed the terrain could do anything but what it was supposed to. The Javni’Tolkhrah he saw were more bizarre, as well, some frighteningly lethal, some clearly dying of their own impossibility.


Another thing he slowly became aware of was the incessant sound of the wind. Except, it wasn’t the wind—it didn’t move the trees, and breezes would come through that did. Even when the air was completely still, the ceaseless sound still murmured. At times, he almost imagined it sounded like some unintelligible language, like Jivenesh was muttering insanely across the Madlands. Almonihah quickly dismissed that thought. For some reason, it chilled him.


According to Falloen’s journal, it took about a week and a half to reach the half-way point through the Madlands, a vast desert he had called the “Desolation of the Dragonfall”. What forgotten lore lent it that name, Almonihah did not know, but he started looking for it, knowing it would mean he was half done with his journey.


More than a week passed, however, and he saw no sign of it. The half-dragon was a bit busy not being eaten or killed by mobile trees or whatever other madness these lands could create. Things kept getting worse as he got farther into the Madlands. There were times he could swear he could watch grass turn to sand and solid land to lake. The wind-like sound grew louder and more persistent, as well. It made sleeping… difficult. Not that he slept much if he could help it—only enough to keep himself alive.


Eventually, Almonihah decided he must have passed the Desolation. He’d been traveling almost twice as long as it had taken Falloen to reach it, and he’d seen no sign of it. Perhaps in the intervening centuries, the Madlands had swallowed even the mighty wastes Falloen had described. Regardless, he was sure he must be more than halfway by now. A good thing, too—he was starting to run low on supplies.


The land had been trending upwards for the last day, and today he was climbing mountainsides. Fortunately, it seemed that few Javni’Tolkhrah haunted the slopes, and the terrain seemed more stable than it had for the past few days. The climb was arduous, but at least he wasn’t fighting for his life the whole way.


He reached the top, but his spirits sunk as he did. On the other side of the mountains, he could see for a long distance. A barren, blasted wasteland, vaguely bowl-shaped, though far too large for even his eyes to see to the other side. And in the middle, a dimly-seen dark smudge that even from here looked chaotic. That would be the Maelstrom, and it was at the heart of the Desolation of the Dragonfall.

******

Yeah, that might be a small problem. Just a thought. This chapter is not exactly going to be a pleasant experience for Almonihah. I’ll give you a hint, though, he doesn’t die at the end of it.