Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chapter 9-7

The Infernal bellowed, stumbling backward, but it was too late. Garkhen’s squad-mates surged forwards, and soon the huge beast toppled, its back making a loud thud as it struck the ground. And then it… disintegrated, its body turning to dust and blowing away in the wind. That got the attention of the other Infernals nearby, all of whom roared and charged.

Garkhen had, by now, recovered from being knocked around by a giant Infernal. He felt a great anger swelling up in him as he looked at the charging Infernals. These evil beasts had already killed many men, and if they were the source of the undead, also, they had killed many more with their servants.

Before he knew it, a deep growl built in his chest, growing in volume until it became a roar to match that of the charging demons. And then, with a great crash, they met the line of soldiers. Their charge was fierce, but the line held, and blessed steel made short work of the Infernals. One survivor sought to flee, but an arrow to the back of its neck brought it down.

“Good you’re here, Private,” someone behind Garkhen said, but before he could turn to look, shouted orders came down for them to quick march towards the next group of devils. They reached them to find their comrades faring somewhat better than the first group they had reinforced, but not well. Their arrival changed that rather quickly. Several more Infernals fell.

Twice more, they sped to the aid of other groups of soldiers. Twice more, they slew demons. And twice more, the order came to go further. Garkhen by now was starting to feel fatigued, the combined effort of maintaining the blessing on his comrades’ weapons, the speed of their march, and the exertion of battle wearing on even his hearty constitution.

But then, as they neared the next group of soldiers, other reinforcements reached them. Before they arrived, the demons were destroyed. And then they realized—the other soldiers were not of their army. They were Rebels.

******

There, finished up the chapter. Huzzah!

Chapter 9-6

Great masses of flame fell from the clouds above and burst in the midst of the undead army. Soon, the air was full of thick, greasy smoke, and the stench of burning bone and charred flesh. For a time, the walking dead at the wall continued trying to assault the defenders, but soon turned back. As for the fate of the black-robed necromancers… they could not be seen in the smoke and flame, but Garkhen could only assume they were faring as poorly as their minions.

The storm of fire continued for several minutes, then ended as abruptly as it had begun, leaving only the smoldering corpses in the scorched field behind. Except… there was movement. The robed figures still lived.

The Loyalist forces seemed frozen with shock for a few moments, but soon, a great shout went up as they sallied. Some of Garkhen’s squad seemed inclined to follow, but Sergeant Gerim’s stern gaze kept them in place.

They didn’t hold position for long, however. Soon, orders came to gather at the gate. A rushed commander looked over them as they arrived, then handed them off to a lieutenant, who slotted them into place with a few other squads in the gathering formation. Then a shouted order sent them marching out of the gates.

It seemed to Garkhen that they stepped into a different world. While the battle on the walls had been bad enough, this… this was like gazing into the Abyss. Charred remains smoldered around them on ground burned clean of grass. Smoke drifted around the fields, lit by weak moonlight filtering down from above mingled with the light of dying fires below. Garkhen could hear the retching of those soldiers who lacked strong stomachs above the clink of weapons and armor.

A shout arose ahead, and soon after flashes of light and the crash of weapons. Garkhen quickened his pace, trying to keep in step with the faster cadence of his formation as they marched towards the sounds of battle. Soon enough he could see, through the smoke, a small group of armored soldiers… and a handful of large, fiery figures battling them. The soldiers were losing ground quickly, retreating before the face of their foes. Towards Garkhen’s formation.

As they drew closer, he could make out these foes more clearly. There were perhaps half a dozen of them, varying in size from only slightly taller than a human to twice as tall. All were terrifying, misshapen creatures, vaguely resembling different races of Men (and trolls), but horribly twisted, with auras of sickly flame about them.

“Infernals,” Garkhen breathed.

Infernals, or demons, or devils, or… there were more names for them than reliable sightings. While he had read of them in tales, yet the more trustworthy religious and scholarly texts generally agreed that such creatures never came to the world—or if they did, only in small numbers, and with the blackest of dark summons. Supposedly, they were the end fate of souls so twisted and evil that they changed after death into monsters. Seeing them, Garkhen could not help but think it was true.

Their power, however, was clear. The once orderly retreat of the soldiers they were marching to reinforce had become a full-on rout, as they fled before the fell creatures. The largest of them swatted a man aside with the back of one hand, sending him flying several feet before landing and laying still.

The archers in Garkhen’s formation halted, took aim, and loosed. The arrows flew true, arcing over their allies and striking the Infernals… to no effect. They ricocheted off the abyssal creatures’ skin as if off steel. Remembering something, Garkhen focused, calling to mind a spell-prayer he had once read. Holding aloft the symbol of Bahamut, he called on his god for holy power. A silver-white glow formed on the weapons of the soldiers closest to him.

“Now we may harm these creatures!” Garkhen exclaimed, pulling his mace out as their fleeing companions reached their ranks. They let their injured comrades through, then closed ranks again just in time to meet their foes.

A troll-like Infernal, with red-black scaly skin and huge claws, the largest of the six Garkhen could see, was first to meet their lines. It locked its eyes on the Warder and, with a roar, swept its clawed hand down. Garkhen raised his shield and braced himself. The black claws of the Infernal bit into his shield, cutting down to his arm, but was stopped by his armor. The half-dragon grunted at the impact as his left arm was borne downwards by the blow, but he managed to keep his feet. Somehow, he got his mace up and struck down at the creature’s arm as it started to pull it back.

It roared in pain as a holy light flared around Garkhen’s mace. Quickly it pulled its hand back, but just as quickly it lashed forward with the other. Garkhen stumbled backwards, the Infernal’s claws again thwarted by his armor, but the force of the blow no less for it. But by now the soldiers around him were at work, and several blades cut deep into scaled arm.

*********

So, yeah, sorry for the disgusting scenery, but… mass fire spells make a mess of things. And also apparently don’t work on demons.

Chapter 9-5

He awoke again in the evening, feeling better rested, but very hungry. Lt. Ailill gave him a quick check-up, and once he had agreed the half-dragon was well, a young aide led him to a small table, then quickly brought a hearty meal. Garkhen ate quickly, feeling himself reviving.

Once he had finished, Ailill came in and inspected him more thoroughly. Finally, after several minutes of questions, exercises, and so forth, the elf reluctantly agreed that he was well.

“I’m quite surprised you recovered so quickly, Private,” he said, “But I suppose I should expect no less, given your heritage.”

Garkhen nodded. “I owe… much to my parentage, though there are some aspects of it I would not have chosen.”

For a moment, Lt. Ailill seemed like he would say something about this… but then the moment passed. It took yet another moment for him to say, “Private, you’re well enough to report for duty. I suspect your squad will be glad to see you.”

They were, indeed. Sgt. Gerim smiled when he saw the armored half-dragon approaching.

“Private Garkhen! I didn’t know you’d be able to make it in time for tonight.”

“I was not certain I would, either,” Garkhen replied, “But it seems I have recovered from last night’s exertions.”

The Sergeant waited for Garkhen to take his place with his fellow soldiers, then said, “We were just reviewing our orders. We’ve received word that we might be sallying tonight, if the Rebels are as good as their word and attack the undead after nightfall. Until that happens, we will be manning our posts on the wall.”

“If the order comes to sally, we will join up with the rest of the Company at that gate,” he pointed to the east, “With all possible speed. We will march out and take our place in formation. And we will kill whoever’s been raising these corpses.”

That brought ragged cheer from the squad. The thought of striking back, after the grinding battle of the last nights, was certainly an attractive thought.

There was a lighter mood amongst the assembled soldiers at their evening meal. Talk of what they would do to those responsible for the undead army that night filled the air. Garkhen felt rather… odd, around so much talk of violence. While he could clearly see the necessity here, yet he still shrank from the thought of actually raising a weapon against another living being. The walking dead, those he could destroy. It was a mercy, a release from the terrible magics that held them bound to this life—if even there was anything vaguely sentient in the animated corpses. But even a necromancer was another man.

He strove to push such thoughts aside as he took up his accustomed position on the wall. Again the undead army advanced as night fell, and again he had to hold his wards against their initial barrage of destructive magics. It was not so intense as the night before, as if the attackers had exhausted themselves as thoroughly as the defenders. Whatever the reason, Garkhen was glad enough to not be facing such an assault again.

And then, when night had fully fallen, a sudden light appeared in the distance, beyond the throngs of walking dead around the walls. A flame, with a dark shape behind it. Garkhen peered at the sight, wondering. Was it a fire-breathing dragon, flying low and burning those on the ground?

Then he noticed something else. Where it had before been a clear evening, without a cloud in the sky, now the stars above them were steadily disappearing behind an expanding blackness. The magical assault faltered, as if their foes were also noticing and wondering at the meaning of these things.

And then, the skies began to rain fire.

*******

Oh, look, a rain of fire. No big deal. Happens all the time, right?

Chapter 9-4

If anything, the rumors going through the troops were wilder when Garkhen returned than when he left. It was… telling that he received only a few questions, despite his rather conspicuous departure and return. What few questions he received were from his fellows in Telarnen’s Company, and these he easily deflected. It seemed even they were not fully comfortable with him, still. Or perhaps they simply knew that it was sometimes better not to have their questions answered.

The undead started moving earlier that evening, just as the sun was reaching the horizon. Whether it was a new tactic, trying to catch the defenders off-guard, or something more arcane still, no one could say, but they moved so slowly the soldiers had no difficulty in preparing themselves to repel the assault once again.

Which was not to say that night’s battle was easy. There seemed to be more of the hooded figures, and this night, their barrage of spells was particularly fierce. For what seemed like hours, Garkhen held his wards over his section of the wall, fire, lightning, and more exotic elements blasting against them. When finally the magical assault dwindled and then ended entirely, the half-dragon collapsed to his knees, nearly blacking out from exhaustion.

He was only half-aware of the sounds of battle around him, his eyes closed as he tried to focus through the waves of fatigue that assailed him. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard a voice. It took him a couple moments to realize it was calling his name. Wearily, he opened his eyes and looked up.

Sergeant Gerim was looking down at him with concern. “Can you stand, Private?”

Shakily, Garkhen tried to lift himself off his knees, but no sooner had he started to rise than he crashed back down again. Mutely, he shook his head.

He could hear the Sergeant walking away, but he couldn’t sort his shouting out from the din of battle. He simply stayed as he was, barely clinging to consciousness for some reason he was too tired to identify. Then he felt many hands grasping him and lifting him. He was being taken… somewhere. But he was pretty sure they were friends, so it was all right.

The last thing he remembered before he lost consciousness was the odd feeling of being carried down stairs.

Garkhen awoke to muted sunlight through windows and a voice that seemed familiar. Slowly, he sorted through his memories, trying to figure out where he was, feeling the bone-deep weariness that even now seemed to press him down into… the bed. Yes, he was laying on a bed.

He opened his eyes. Recognition tickled at the back of his brain. This was… yes, this was where they had most recently been treating the wounded. But why was he sleeping here? Shouldn’t he be up and working now?

He got partway through sitting up before he realized why he wasn’t. Not only was he no longer under Lt. Ailill’s command… he also hardly had the energy to sit. So he collapsed back into the bed.

That got the Lieutenant’s attention. Garkhen heard footsteps coming toward him, then saw the elf’s familiar face.

“Private,” he began, then paused. After a moment, he continued, “I am glad you are putting your talents to better use. But I would prefer that you not return here due to doing so.”

The hint of a grin played across Garkhen’s lips. “Yes, sir.”

Ailill hesitated a moment longer, then said, “Now rest. You spent far too much energy last night.”

Garkhen’s exhausted body and mind were glad to obey that order.

*******

Garkhen has a distinct tendency to overexert himself. He gets better later… but really, he just builds more spellcasting skill and stamina.