Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Chapter 21-2

This was one of the few cities where a giant griffon flying overhead with a half-dragon on his back only drew a few curious glances. Finding a place for them to land was a bit trickier, but eventually they found a square that was empty enough for Zakhin’Dakh to land in. Once they were settled, the griffon-rider leader gave them one final warning about making trouble and left them to their business.

Almonihah found it difficult to keep his big friend going forward. There were so many interesting things for him to look at everywhere that he kept stopping to watch them. That, combined with the irritation many people expressed at having a giant griffon blocking half of the street, was enough to put the half-dragon in a rather sour mood.

Eventually, they reached the first shop Almonihah wanted to visit. It was still here from when he and Zrathanzon had visited it many years ago, but it was run by elves, so that wasn’t much of a surprise. Zrathanzon had called them the ‘finest fletchers in the Northern Continent’, which was enough for Almonihah. He vaguely recalled them being rather pricey, too, but he still had a lot of dragon treasure with him, and he wanted the best for what he wanted done.

It was when Zakhin’Dakh stuck his beak in the shop after he walked in that Almonihah realized he’d probably need to make different arrangements for his friend for the day. He was probably going to be spending quite a while indoors, and the big griffon simply wouldn’t fit in most places. That, combined with his curiosity and how easily he got bored, seemed like a recipe for certain disaster. He wished he’d thought of this earlier—he might have been able to talk the griffon-riding guards into doing something. As it was…

Finding something safe for Zakhin’Dakh to do took far longer than Almonihah would have liked. He’d have to keep this in mind for the future. Eventually, though, he was able to return to what he was doing with only some worry of what his big friend was up to. In addition to ordering some special arrows, he purchased some more potions and even an little enchanted bag, that was much larger on the inside than on the out. Dragon treasure could buy quite a bit.

The trickiest part, however, would be finding passage to the Southern Continent for them. While ships made the perilous passage from Midport to Ferdunan regularly, they didn’t often carry giant griffons. Just figuring out how to keep Zakhin’Dakh fed on the way was going to be difficult, and convincing a captain that he wouldn’t eat the crew (not to mention convincing the crew of that) would likely be even harder. Not to mention Almonihah would have to watch his friend carefully to make sure his curiosity didn’t interfere with the smooth running of the ship.

For the time being, Almonihah just looked around the docks, refreshing his memory of what Zrathanzon had said about them, and seeing what had changed. His arrows would take some time to make, especially the enchanted ones, so he had time to look around before trying anything. He had a few gems in hidden on his person that could probably convince the right captain to go along with him, but he wanted to make sure said captain wouldn’t try to rob him on the way. There wasn’t any hurry, so he’d rather take the time to do things right.

****

Yeah, and I haven’t been in a hurry to do this, either. I was hoping to be done with this book by the end of the month… maybe by the end of the year I’ll be done.

Chapter 21-1

Chapter 21: Sea

 

Almonihah and Zakhin’Dakh did find a valley through the rift they had seen. They found another beyond it, and in this way they meandered their way west, sometimes through valleys and canyons, other times just paralleling the Dragon’s Teeth range on one side or the other. Gradually they made their way southwest, until they reached the Stormpeaks. These proved more of an obstacle, both because of their greater height and because of the frequent storms for which they were named. The pair were determined, however, and slowly, carefully made their way, often having to turn back and try another way.

Eventually, though, they found what Almonihah was looking for—a large stream running through a narrow valley. If he was right, this was part of the Stormwash, the river that flowed through Midport. That was where he wanted to go.

Before long, the stream and valley widened, and in the distance the keen-eyed pair could see hints of smoke. Then Zakhin’Dakh screeched in surprise.

Griffons! He said.

Zakhin’Dakh had the advantage of Almonihah in distance vision, as he could only make out small dots approaching them. Before long, though, he could make out enough of their silhouettes to see that they were, indeed, griffons. And if he remembered correctly, that meant griffon-riders.

Slow down and fly lower, Almonihah murmured to his friend. We don’t want to seem any more dangerous than we have to.

Okay, Zakhin’Dakh screeched in acknowledgment.

The griffon-riders—both of them could see the riders now—approached quickly. Midport’s griffon-riders were its main military force, other than its navy. Almonihah had seen them before the couple of times he and Zrathanzon had visited the city, but he hadn’t been riding a giant griffon then. While they were generally more open-minded than the guards of a lot of the smaller settlements he’d visited, he wasn’t sure how they’d react to Zakhin’Dakh and him together.

They slowed as they neared the pair, as well. There were five of them—a sizable patrol. One of them flew closer than the others and spoke.

“What is your business here?”

“Spending gold. Maybe finding a ship,” Almonihah yelled back.

After a moment of silence, the griffon-rider replied, “We’ll escort you into town.”

They flew into formation around Almonihah and Zakhin’Dakh—two on each side, and the leader in front. They flew slowly in silence, which was fine with Almonihah. Zakhin’Dakh, after his cheerful greeting screech went unanswered by the other griffons, was quiet as well, though he looked around curiously.

It wasn’t long before they could see signs of cultivation below them. While Midport depended on imports to support itself, there were fairly extensive farms up here in the valley of the Stormwash. Getting the food down to Midport itself was a fairly difficult business, but not really any more difficult than bringing it in by ship, and it gave the city some semblance of independence.

The main method for getting the supplies up and down soon came into view. The Great Crane, a marvel of modern engineering, sat at falls of the Stormwash, lowering food and other goods from the valleys above down to the city, and bringing up supplies from the city. Particularly brave souls (or those who did not wish to climb the Great Stair) would even get a lift for themselves.

The group of griffon-riders flying into the city needed to use neither. As they neared the falls, the leader of the riders asked Almonihah, “Going to the Merchants’ Quarter first?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

The griffon-rider nodded, but said nothing more. They flew out over the falls, and got a view of Midport itself. Midport was generally cited as the most populous city on all of Draezoln, despite being crammed into the small delta of the Stormwash, surrounded by mountains on two sides and the ocean on the other two.

Zakhin’Dakh found the sight quite impressive, and screeched long and low in appreciation.

******

So, back to Elque narrating. Remember that this picks up right after chapter 20, not chapter 20.5, since Almonihah didn’t tell Elque about the Phoenix.

Also, there’s apparently something about riding a griffon that makes you not talk much. Maybe it’s the habit of not trying to yell into the wind or something.

Chapter 20.5-5

I stuck arrows in flying Javni’Tolkhrah until I started to worry I’d run out. Zakhin’Dakh was busy with more of them on the ground (he says some of them were bigger, but none as big as him). Once I’d cleared the sky, I could finally look down again. Zakhin’Dakh was growling at a big tiger-bear thing with a couple scorpion tails. He’d backed up the slope, and looked rather beat up. I growled myself and sent an arrow into the thing’s head. It wasn’t expecting that.

I only had a couple arrows left, so I drew my swords and went to stand with Zakhin’Dakh. He glanced back at me and gave me a tired screech. I nodded back to him, then turned to face whatever came next.

For a little while, everything was quiet, but I could just barely pick something up. Don’t know if they were nervous after how many of them we’d killed or what. Maybe they just thought a big wave would be more effective, because that’s what happened next—big wave of Javni’Tolkhrah charged up-slope toward us.

We charged back.

More like Zakhin’Dakh took off and dived at the biggest one. He hit it hard, but it was still struggling when I started fighting. The first thing that jumped at me… I think it used to be a rabbit. It died with Zithrandrak through its head. The next few were larger and more dangerous. I had to use everything I knew to stay alive, and even so took some hits. Good thing my scales are harder than the boiled leather I was wearing. Still got scratched up pretty badly, though.

I managed to take down several of the Javni’Tolkhrah I was fighting, and I could see every now and then that Zakhin’Dakh was flying around slashing and biting more of them, but it seemed like some of them must be getting to where the Phoenix’s ashes were.

Then… there was a flash. And then a dull roar, like a wizard had thrown a fireball. The surviving Javni’Tolkhrah turned as one and started to run, but a giant flaming bird flew past and caught up to them. Looked like we’d held out long enough. Zakhin’Dakh landed next to me and we watched him together.

It wasn’t long before he flew back over to us. Well done, brave ones, he said. I am reborn, and these creatures of Chaos have seen my renewed strength. Let any that survive take word of it to the others—I fight them again!

I snorted. “Not that most of them can talk to each other.”

He looked at me. Do not dismiss their intelligence so casually. Not all touched by the Mad God lose their thinking in their insanity. Indeed, some even become more cunning.

I didn’t have anything to say to that.

The Phoenix kept speaking. Now it is time for you to depart. But first, it is right that I should reward you for your aid.

He took off again, then flew over us. He flapped once right above us, and a few feathers started floating down from him.

Catch them. And good hunting, young friends. Naishia watch over you. And with that, he was gone.

I caught about half a dozen of the feathers, and Zakhin’Dakh carefully caught one with his beak. The others burst into flames and burned up when they touched the ground. I carefully stored the ones I’d caught, then did the same for Zakhin’Dakh’s, keeping his separate.

That was fun! Zakhin’Dakh screeched.

I snorted. Almost dying to a bunch of Javni’Tolkhrah wasn’t my idea of fun, but we’d lived, and done something that needed doing.

Let’s go, I said back.

 

****

Well, that’s the end of AZ narrating. It was kind of fun, but I think I’ll be glad to get back to Elque. He’s a bit easier of a narrator to write.

Chapter 20.5-4

A wave of Javni’Tolkhrah charged up the slope toward us. There were a lot of different kinds, like there always are when you’re dealing with them—a three-headed wolf, something that looked like a cross between a tiger and a crab, things like that. My first arrow hit one in the eye, killing it, while Zakhin’Dakh dived on the wolf creature with a war shriek. Whirling, he slashed at another creature that was trying to run past him, while another of my arrows arrow killed a tiger-like creature that had been crouching to spring at him.

I dodged to one side, reacting before I knew what I was doing. You do that sometimes if you’ve had as many things try to kill you as I have. A lightning bolt blasted past me. The lightning wouldn’t have hurt me, but it’s not like I knew what was coming when I dodged, then fired back. I got just enough of a glimpse of something humanoid to stick an arrow in it. I didn’t think I got a solid hit , but but another Javni’Tolkhrah was charging me, so I didn’t exactly have time to check.

Zakhin’Dakh had his talons full, too. He was taking two or three of the things at a time, slashing their faces, biting them with his beak, even picking up and throwing some of the smaller ones. I’d shoot an arrow at one of them when I had the time, but I was too busy with my side usually. He was getting bitten and scratched, and though he hadn’t got hit too bad yet, I knew it was just a matter of time.

When I had a second to shoot a couple of the monsters around him, I yelled, Take off! Fight from the air!

He screeched in understanding and took off with a leap, slashing another Javni’Tolkhrah as he passed over. I had to turn back to my side, since three different messed-up kinds of cat-things were charging at me. The first one got an arrow in the head, but I had to drop Naishia’s Messenger and draw Zithrandrak and Eldereth for the other two. They crouched, ready, waiting for the pounce. Just like I thought, they jumped. I stepped aside, stabbing one with Zithrandrak. I hit it too hard, though, and had to let go of Zithrandrak to keep from getting pulled off-balance as the thing died.

The other one slashed at me with its claws, but I managed to get Eldereth in the way, shocking it a bit. I backstepped, slashing at it, but only managed to scratch it. It tried to charge me, and this time I got a good hit, taking a couple of its toes off, then finishing it off as it stumbled. I whirled to meet whatever was coming next, and was a bit surprised to see nothing else coming up the slope at us. Zakhin’Dakh was just throwing this fishy-dog-thing down a particularly steep spot as I turned.

I saw movement in the trees below, and rolled aside just as a ball of fire exploded where I had been. It singed me a bit, and Zakhin’Dakh’s shriek didn’t sound good. I ran back over to Naishia’s Messenger, glad to see it was in good shape (good thing it’s enchanted so well), picking it up and nocking an arrow. I saw another movement and fired an arrow. Something fell with a thud, so I figured this time I’d hit something important. I saw Zakhin’Dakh land and charge into the woods, and then heard a strangled yelp. Maybe there’d been two mages?

There was another explosion, a shriek, and then the sound of Zakhin’Dakh tearing into something. Three mages. Then I saw some Javni’Tolkhrah bird-things coming, and had to quit paying attention to what Zakhin’Dakh was doing. (He says he found another mage-guy and a few smaller Javni’Tolkhrah.)

 

****
Almonihah’s not mentioning it here, but it’s bad that Javni’Tolkhrah are working with mages.

In other news, it’s kind of hard to write as AZ for a fight scene. He’s not big on describing battles usually.