Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Chapter 15-1

Chapter 15: Path of Trial

“We are all tried in different ways in our lives. For some, it is a life of poverty and hardship that tests them, that they may show who they are when there is nothing to hide behind. For others, it is sudden illness or other catastrophes. For still others… it is not hardship, but prosperity.”

 

“Wealth and power can be, in their fashion, just as much of a test as hardship. For in having power, beings often reveal who they truly are. I fear that this test is perhaps the most often failed by those who face it.”

 

The path was just as difficult as he had dreamed it would be. It meandered its way through the hills and into the mountains themselves, becoming steeper and harder as it went. At times it was hardly a path at all, just a slightly more worn area on a rocky outcropping. A few times Garkhen had to climb, digging his claws into crevices in the stone and hauling himself upward. 

 

Finally, after nearly two weeks of travel, he reached the canyon he had seen in his dream. It was late, and he was fatigued. Not knowing what might lie ahead, he decided to camp before continuing.

 

He slept fitfully that night, not quite dreaming yet feeling an urgency, as if something called him onward. But at the same time he felt almost as if something was seeking to hold him back. Whenever he tried to catch onto that thought, however, it slipped away.

 

Finally morning came. Garkhen arose, not feeling much more rested than when he had arrived. After preparing as best he could, he walked towards the back of the canyon, searching for the cave he had seen in his dream.

 

It did not take long to find. It yawned, impenetrably black even to his draconic eyes, at the back end of the canyon. Cautiously he approached it, looking around. His gaze fell on an inscription carved into the stone above. 

 

“There are no demons here, save those you bring in with you,” Garkhen read aloud. He considered the statement for a moment, then steeled himself. Whatever lay ahead, he had to face it.

He stepped into the cave. 

 

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Hmmmmm, what might be going on here, eh? I suppose you’ll have to wait to find out! Bwahahahahahahaha! 

Chapter 14-7

That was not their last Madness-Touched. Over the next week they were attacked twice more, though these did not seem as supernaturally hardy as the first. After the third, Tirel spat in disgust.

 

“What is going on?” He asked of the sky. “Those creatures have hardly been seen this far south, and now three in a week…”

 

Garkhen shrugged slightly. “I do not know…” Something seemed to nag at him for a moment… something important he had found…

 

He frowned and shook his head. He glanced over and noticed the Wyre doing so, as well.

 

“What were we talking about?” Tirel asked, confused. 

 

“Ah…” It took Garkhen a moment to remember. “The Madness-Touched. Why we have fought so many.”

 

“Maybe with all the mess down here, the Rangers have had more trouble keeping them bottled up?” Tirel offered.

 

“Perhaps.” The Warder seemed unconvinced. “But I do not think it is anything we can assist with now.”

 

 

Over the next several weeks, the reports of Infernals and undead grew fewer, until they finally ran out entirely. After a few days of wandering about, Tirel sighed.

 

“Well, my friend… I think it’s time I went back to the Pack. After everything that’s gone on, we’ll probably be meeting and talking for a while. And they’ll want to hear about all these Madness-Touched.”

 

Garkhen nodded. They had been attacked almost a dozen more times, and a couple had been fairly close calls. The attacks had been dying off over the last week, however. 

 

“It has been good to travel with you, Tirel,” Garkhen said. “I wish you, and the Pack, well.”

 

Tirel smiled and set a hand on the half-dragon’s shoulder. “And I you, Garkhen,” he murmured. More loudly he asked, “So what are you going to do?”


Garkhen stared off into the distance for a time. “I am not certain quite yet…” he admitted. “I feel… there is something I must do, but I know not what. I suppose I shall be searching for this thing.”

 

The Wyre nodded slightly. “Well… maybe your god has something for you to do, like Naishia uses the Pack.” He sighed again. “But I should quit dragging this out. Farewell, Garkhen, Warder of Bahamut.”

 

“Farewell, Tirel, Wyre of the Ferdunan Pack.”

 

 

That night, the first Garkhen had been alone for in a long time, he dreamed. Not as he was accustomed to dreaming, but vividly, distinctly. He saw himself walking along a path, further into the mountains. The way was hard and steep, but he persevered. At the end of it, hidden in a canyon, was a cave. He entered, and found something shining, glowing white in the darkness. He reached out and grasped it… and awoke.

 

The dream was still with him, as clear as waking memory… if not clearer. Leaving his tent, he realized he recognized a nearby path. With renewed energy Garkhen packed up his gear and set out, certain he had the direction he should go now.

 

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Hmmm, I’m not foreshadowing anything. Nope, definitely no vague hints here.  Also, this is the end of chapter 14! That means only two more chapters until Garkhen meets up with his future friends…

Chapter 14-6

 

The monster roared as it jumped at Garkhen, who raised his shield and braced himself while Tirel jumped aside. It crashed into the half-dragon with terrific force, teeth and claw-hooves screeching against his armor, but somehow he managed to hold his ground. He hid his surprise at feeling its claws scratch his scales through his armor—how could it get through the enchanted adamantium?

 

Garkhen soon found he had to focus entirely on holding the beast off with shield and mace, with no time to try to attack. But then Tirel in tiger form jumped on its hindquarters, his own claws tearing at its flesh. It seemed to the Warder that Tirel’s claws did not penetrate nearly as far as they should have, but still it forced the creature to divide its attention. It swung its heavy crocodilian tail at the Wyre, but he nimble dodged aside, then renewed his attack. 

 

This finally dragged the creature’s attention away from Garkhen. As soon as he could catch his breath, he exhaled a bolt of lightning straight into its hindquarters. It bellowed in pain, but seemed scarcely harmed. His mace in its face as it turned again to face him caused more significant damage, but again the half-dragon noted that it seemed strangely resilient to damage, as if it were made of something other than just flesh. 

 

As it tried to recover from being dazed, Tirel struck again, this time jumping up on its back and trying to bite its throat. It rolled over, and the Wyre jumped back off, growling in frustration. Before it could recover its balance Garkhen struck again, charging forward and bringing his mace down on its shoulder with all his strength. This time he heard something crack, and it staggered, that leg clearly disabled. 

 

Suddenly it spat at Garkhen, and he flinched backwards. He heard a hissing and looked down to see black-red blood eating through his armor. Falling back he murmured a spell-prayer to ward against acid, and was relieved to see it stopped making progress.

 

He looked back up to see Tirel sporting a bleeding scratch across his muzzle, though the Madness-Touched now had one to match. Warily the Wyre began to circle it. Catching on, Garkhen moved the other way, forcing it to split its attention. It tried to lash out at Garkhen with its remaining good forelegs, then its teeth, but he managed to get his shield in its way each time, and then Tirel again sprang forward. He sank his teeth into one of its hind legs. 

 

Bleating and bellowing, it tried to shake him off. It succeeded after a moment, but the Wyre took a large chunk of flesh with him. He spat it out and growled back at the monster. While it was distracted, Garkhen again swung with his mace, but this time it dodged, though it stumbled a bit as it came down on its injured hind leg afterward. Tirel sought to slash its other leg with his claws, but was warded off by its heavy tail. 

 

After a tense moment of warily shifting position, seeking for advantage, the creature again lunged at Garkhen. Instead of bracing, this time the Warder stepped forward, bashing his shield into its face as it snapped at him. It seemed hardly affected by it, but it put him in position to swing his mace again as it lifted a forelimb to swipe at him. Mace met ankle, and another crack told him that he had struck true. 

 

Tirel wasted no time in exploiting its distraction. He jumped to one side of it and then onto its side, his hind feet still on the ground as he tore at its flanks. Desperately it tried to turn and lash out, but he dug his claws in deeper and managed to hold it in place through sheer might and weight. Garkhen brought his mace down again, clipping the side of its head as it tried to move aside. Then with a great growl, Tirel pushed downwards, taking advantage of its injured legs and feet. It toppled over, and the Wyre was on top of it in an instant, pinning it down.

 

It struggled and heaved, showing surprising strength in spite of its wounds. It was all Tirel could do to hold it down. Garkhen swung at its head again, missed, then waited for an opening. When next he swung he struck true, his mace striking the top of its head. It jerked, then was still for a moment, clearly dazed. Again Garkhen swung, striking its head once more. This time bone broke beneath his blow, and the Madness-Touched convulsed once, and then lay still.

 

Tirel returned to his Wyre form, panting almost as hard as Garkhen. “That… was tough.”

 

Garkhen nodded. “It is… unusual… for one to be… here, yes?”

 

Tirel nodded in return. “Good thing… we stopped it. Could have hurt… a lot of people.”

 

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So, yeah. Tough battle. It’s late. Good night.

Chapter 14-5

 

The next few weeks proceeded much like this—they would follow rumors of undead or Infernal activity, reach a village, hunt down the source of the problems, and destroy it. Garkhen and Tirel became fast friends as they traveled and fought together.

 

“You know, you remind me of Whitepaw,” the Wyre suddenly stated one day.

 

“The wolf-Wyre?” Garkhen asked, surprised. 

 

Tirel nodded. “You both have this kind of… center to you. Do you know what I mean?”

 

The half-dragon shook his head. Tirel sighed, waving a paw-hand as he tried to explain. “As in, you both… you know where you stand. Or maybe what you stand for. You just… give this sense that no matter what happens, you know what your part is, how you fit in the world. Does that make sense.”

 

After a moment, Garkhen nodded slowly. “I think I understand. And I thank you, for,” he grinned a bit, “I certainly do not always feel so myself.”

 

The tiger-man laughed. “I suppose I should have guessed that.”

 

“And I appreciate the energy you bring,” Garkhen suddenly stated. “Your skills and… your sense of humor.”

 

Tirel blinked, then after a moment of silence, burst out laughing. “Well, thanks, Garkhen! I wasn’t fishing for compliments, but I appreciate it.”

 

The Warder grinned and chuckled a bit. “I suppose I simply would not have felt comfortable without returning in kind.”

 

Tirel opened his mouth to respond, then froze. “Did you hear that?” he whispered after a moment.

 

Mutely, Garkhen shook his head. Even more quietly, the Wyre murmured, “Get your weapon out.”

 

By the time he had his mace and shield ready, he could feel something… wrong. He couldn’t put a claw on what it was, but there was a sense that something that should not be was nearby. 

 

Then he heard the growling, sounding like no natural beast, as if the creature had more than one throat and could not decide which it was using. Tirel growled back, claws out, teeth bared, and stance wary. 

 

Finally the creature revealed itself, cresting a nearby hill as its growl turned to a roar. Its head resembled some nightmarish combination of wolf and stag, with uneven antlers and a snarling muzzle showing too many teeth. Its feet were like clawed hooves, and it had three feet on its forequarters, the extra in between the more natural two. Its body was built like a great cat’s, but resembled some jungle lizard in coloration and scales. It had two tails, one like a lion’s, the other like a crocodile’s. Garkhen quickly murmured a warding spell-prayer as it gathered itself to pounce.

 

“Madness-Touched!” Tirel snarled as he shifted his feet to be ready to dodge or pounce himself.

 

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Random monsters, always messing up conversations…