Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chapter 7-3

They soon reached a small square in what had clearly once been an affluent neighborhood. Here, a large group of people was gathered, many wearing robes. Garkhen recognized some of the symbols they wore—they were priests of the different gods of Men, and wizards of some power.

Captain Telarnen stood off to one side, and waved Garkhen over to him. Next to him stood a robed wizard, as the young half-dragon could discern from the markings on his robe.

“Mage-Commander, this is Private Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor,” Telarnen said. “He is the last of our men who will be joining this operation.”

“Private,” the Mage-Commander gave him a bare nod. “If you will take your place there,” he waved at a spot between one of the Company’s wizards and a Priest of Mashano, “we will begin.”

Once Garkhen had taken his place, the Mage-Commander looked out over the group. “As you can see, we have gathered here a significant portion of Ferdunan’s magical might here. No doubt you suspect we are planning a master stroke to finally defeat the Rebels. You would be correct, though you likely do not suspect what our move shall be.”

“Captain… Telarnen, here, noticed with some of his men,” he hesitated and glanced almost imperceptibly at Telarnen, who nodded slightly, “A useful feature of the terrain here. The land on this side of the river is slightly higher than on the opposite bank. As such, were we to redirect the flow of the river, it would first overflow into the Rebel’s side of the city. We have, gathered here, the magical might to accomplish such a feat.”

“Now, this will not be simple,” he continued, talking over the sudden whispered conversations his words had started, “Which is why we have brought you here tonight. For the next several evenings, until I judge you prepared, we will practice our ritual. There can be no mistakes when we put it into practice, for any failure might well leave us exposed to a counterattack. Thus, if I find any of you disobeying my commands…”

The Mage-Commander somehow seemed to fix all of them with a steely glare. “Now, then, let us begin,” he said, after a moment.

********

Short post. Bed time. Sleep.

Chapter 7-2

The Captain quirked an eyebrow. “I do, Private.”

“Have you ever read of the Battle of Bocheru?”

Telarnen frowned in thought. “No, Private, I have not,” he replied, after a few moments.

Garkhen hesitated a moment before speaking. “It was fought in terrain much like this, with a river with a rise on one side. The side on the rise had many mages, and they used magic to dam the river in the night, flooding the enemy camp and giving them an unexpected avenue of attack. The two factors together were sufficient for them to successfully cross the river.” He paused again, before adding, “Sir, do you think we could…” He trailed off.

The Captain was silent for a long moment, before barking a short laugh. “It’s risky, Private… but it just might work. I’ll have to think it over, then bring it up before the other commanders. But if it works… it could be just what we need.” He gave Garkhen an appraising glance. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d be a military historian, Private Garkhen.”

Garkhen laughed a bit, uncomfortably. “I had… little to do for much of my upbringing beyond reading, Captain. It was simply fortune that I read that particular work.”

Telarnen shook his head slightly. “I’m not sure I believe in good luck, Private. But it’s too early to be celebrating this—even if it is a good idea, the Ferdunan commanders may not agree to it. But if this works, Private, you may have saved a lot of our men’s lives.”

“Thank you, sir,” Garkhen said, quietly, thinking to himself that he might also be the doom of many of the other side’s soldiers.

Garkhen returned to his post as a healer the next day, with no news of any results from his conversation with the Captain. Another messenger came in that evening for the half-dragon, however. Again, he was led out with no explanation of what to expect.

This time, though, the messenger led him not out of the city, but deeper in. This part of Garnot had not been damaged as heavily in the fighting, it seemed, and likely had been a wealthier district before the war. From what little he had heard of rumors, the higher-ranking officers of the Ferdunan army used these homes as living quarters.

******

Hmm, what’s going to happen, eh? Will Garkhen’s remembered plan work? Has it been tossed out? Find out next week!

Chapter 7-1

Chapter 7: Enough

“For every thinking man who sees such madness, there comes a time he must cry, ‘Enough! I can stand idle no longer!’ Whether it were sin to stand idle so long or not, it is certainly wrong to seek to ignore this impulse.”

Garkhen could not say how long he labored, how many days passed with the constant stream of wounded brought in and healed walking out. Weeks, certainly. Months… if he had been certain what season it had been when they had arrived, perhaps the turning of the leaves would have told him, but it seemed somehow as if the days he spent as a healer were unmeasurable, existing outside the normal flow of time.

But they did eventually end. One evening, just as Lt. Ailill had ordered their little group back to their quarters, a messenger entered the room. He walked over to the elven healer.

“Captain Telarnen requests that Private Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor attend him.”

Lt. Ailill arched an eyebrow. “Requests? Very well. Private, you are at the Captain’s service. I assume you are to follow this young soldier.”

The messenger nodded. “If you will, Private.”

Garkhen followed him out. He lead the half-dragon to the west, out of Garnot’s gates and up a hill beyond. It was late in the evening when they set out, and by the time they arrived the moon shed more light on the land than the last rays of sunlight of dusk. A few Company soldiers stood attention at the top of the hill, and the messenger left Garkhen with them. One silently led him forward, up the steps of a small, ruined tower, to where Captain Telarnen was waiting.

“Thank you, Private Aholima. That will be all for the moment,” he said to the soldier who had led Garkhen in.

Once he had left, Garkhen said softly, “You wanted to see me, sir?”

Telarnen nodded. “Yes, Private. Come.” He waved Garkhen forward, then followed as the half-dragon walked out onto some kind of large balcony.

The Captain pointed back at Garnot, where the flash of metal and occasional bursts of magical fire or lightning could still be seen on the bridge. “Our forces are at a stalemate—neither side can bring enough force to bear on the bridge to break through, and neither side can find a way across the Green without the bridge. And so we stay here, both sides sending in good men to die for nothing.”

Telarnen’s voice was soft, but its bitter edge was clear. “So far, my men haven’t had to do the dying yet, but if something does not change soon, we’ll have our turn. And we’ll go out and die, because that’s what we’ve given our word to do. Unless something changes.”

He turned his gaze on Garkhen. “I’ve only met your dragon friend a few times, and every time, it’s taken me a long time to figure out just why he visited. From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t come down out of the mountains for something minor. So I find myself wondering, what part do you have to play in this, Private?”

Garkhen shook his head. “I do not know, sir.” Even as he spoke, he was still looking out on the bridge and the men dying in the darkness upon it.

He shook his head more vigorously. “It is madness, sir. Just… madness.”

Captain Telarnen nodded. “And it will keep going on unless we can put a stop to it.” He sighed. “I apologize, Private Garkhen. I…”

But something had struck Garkhen. He pointed. “Sir, do you see the slope of the land there, on the west of the bridge?”

*********

So, what’s Garkhen realized that all the experienced military minds around him haven’t? Tune in next week to find out!

Chapter 6-7

Garkhen slept poorly that night, his dreams a confused, disturbing jumble. He tossed and turned, his mind haunted by the images of what he had seen during the day, mixed and distorted by his dreaming mind. While he could remember little enough of the specifics in the morning, it was still more than he wished.

The next day was, indeed, worse than the last, both due to his poor night’s sleep and due to the steadily growing stream of horrific injuries. Lt. Ailill ordered him to use his healing spell-prayers earlier and more often, and by the end of the day, the half-dragon could hardly stay on his feet.

Over the course of the next several days, Garkhen settled into a sort of equilibrium, where he was able to keep himself functional enough that he could manage to get through each day without exhausting himself too early, though sometimes it was a near thing. And Lieutenant Ailill had been right—he had to conserve his energy to save as many lives as he could.

That didn’t keep those who died from haunting his dreams.

For all that he knew he was doing all he could, Garkhen felt that somehow, he should be able to save all of them. That he should be skilled enough, should have enough endurance to heal every wounded soldier brought in. And sometimes… sometimes he thought that if he were there, on the front lines, perhaps they wouldn’t have been injured in the first place.

In the rare moments that had to rest, Garkhen silently observed the other healers. The three priests of Mashano from Telarnen’s Company clearly showed their fatigue. Lt. Ailill… he seemed increasingly brusque. Garkhen slowly came to wonder if perhaps his manner was, in truth, an attempt to hide his own fatigue and nightmares. As for the others… he soon came to realize how fortunate he was to be in the Company. It was clear the others preferred to keep their distance from him, and he heard, a few times, comments about the “monster in the other room”.

It was worst when the soldiers he treated reacted similarly. Those who were still lucid would usually disguise whatever surprise or fear they felt at his presence quickly, but those who were not… it pained him whenever it became clear their screams were due to his appearance rather than their wounds.

Those screams haunted his dreams, too.

*******

Not exactly the most cheerful post, but, well, war is not a cheerful thing. As Garkhen is discovering.

This is the end of Chapter 6. The next chapter will be somewhat happier, don’t worry. Well, for some people.

Chapter 6-6

Garkhen froze. “No, sir,” he murmured.

“Why did you do so without my orders?”

“Sir, he was dying.”

Lt. Ailill spoke more quietly now, “And do you think I didn’t know that when I examined him?”

“No, sir.”

“So why do you think I didn’t heal him myself?”

Garkhen was silent for a moment. “I do not know, sir,” he answered finally.

“Do you know what time it is, Private?”

Garkhen glanced at the nearby window. “Just after midday, sir.”

“Which means that we have several hours left in the day. Several hours in which many more men will be injured, many of whom will require divine healing to survive the night. There are five of us here, and then the healers in the main room, most of whom are already exhausted. We do not have the resources to save everyone. The energy you just spent in healing that soldier could likely have saved two less sorely-injured men, and if I were incorrect about the paucity of our resources, he would live until this evening when I would have order him saved.”

The elf gave Garkhen a hard stare. “Do you understand now, Private? Will you await my orders in the future?”

Garkhen bowed his head slightly. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now go bandage that patient. If we can stem his blood flow, he will live without magical aid.”

The room slowly filled with wounded and dying soldiers as the day wore on, until no more empty beds remained. Soon enough rough arrangements were being made on the floor for more injured men, and Garkhen gathered from what he could hear from the main room that the same was being done there. He and the other Company healers worked quietly but intently, doing all they could to save as many as they could.

Lt. Ailill did not order Garkhen to use a spell-prayer until late in the evening, but when he did, it was not for one but several soldiers. The half-dragon Warder went from one bed to another, calling upon Bahamut to mend the men’s wounds. By the time he was done, he felt exhausted from channeling his god’s power through himself. Looking about on the other healers, he could see they felt the same.

The sun had been down for some time when they finally retired for the night, two other healers coming in to relieve them. As they headed for their beds, Lt. Ailill spoke once more.

“It will only be worse tomorrow, Private. Get all the rest you can.”

****

See, Lt. Ailill’s not a total jerk. He has reasons for some of the things he does. Though he probably could have brought this up before…