Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: August 2014

Chapter 16

Chapter 16: Unexpected Meetings

“Sometimes the greatest gifts of life are completely unexpected. At times, they may even seem trials when we first stumble across them. But I have found that, in time, such experiences often teach the greatest lessons. And it was from such an experience that I gained two of my greatest friends… though of course, it did not seem so at first.”

Garkhen returned to more settled lands, marveling at the gift he had been given. He had to use Silverflame twice while he traveled back, as more Javni’Tolkhrah attacked him as he walked the wilds back to the small villages in the foothills. The mace was truly remarkable—its silver flames burned the twisted creatures with holy wrath, inflicting terrible wounds even when his physical strikes caused little harm. 

 

He found things were much the same as he had left them when he reached the first village. The people were settling back down after the end of the civil war and all that had come with it. No one had reported trouble with Infernals or undead in the past weeks, and it seemed peace had finally returned to Ferdunan.

 

And so, without direction or purpose, Garkhen went to wandering, traveling wherever he felt he should. Sometimes when he arrived he soon found there was need for his strengths, but often not. He would have felt discouraged or impatient, but… one of the lessons he had learned was to not give place to such feelings. And so he wandered, and served where he could, and sought for what his purpose was to be.

 

It was not an easy life. He would often go long in between sources of money, and so had to spend frugally to be able to afford supplies for himself. Sometimes grateful villagers would give him meals or a place to sleep, and occasionally he would find hoarded treasures after slaying some beast that troubled them, but most of the time he had to stretch his resources to feed himself.

 

In time he developed a reputation, and Garkhen slowly found himself more welcome across the country. People would greet the ‘armored dragon-man’ with joy rather than fear when he came, and Garkhen was glad enough to be recognized. But as the years passed, he struggled more and more to find purpose and meaning in his life, for it seemed he was less and less needed.

 

The only constant source of danger were the Javni’Tolkhrah that regularly attacked him while he was in the wilds. The Warder learned that they seemed to harm few others, and indeed were rarely seen by any but himself. He felt there must be some meaning behind it… but could never seem to think of what it might be.

 

And then one day, as he was walking alone to a village he had not visited for the past two years, he heard something above him—the sound of wind ruffling great feathers. Garkhen started to turn, but had only a brief moment to see huge wings and flashing talons before he was knocked to the ground, pinned beneath a great weight.

 

When he could focus his vision, Garkhen found an arrowhead held close to his snout. Following the arrow back, he saw a fine bow pulled taught, held by… another half-dragon. This one was bronze-scaled and human-proportioned, and he was snarling at Garkhen.

 

“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t kill you.”

 

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I think this chapter speaks for itself. 🙂

Chapter 15-4

He pondered what the next trial might be as he walked. Anger, fear… pain, perhaps? Doubt? He shrugged to himself. He would simply have to see.

 

Garkhen was rather surprised when he walked into a comfortably appointed room. Five chairs were arranged in a small circle. Four were occupied, and it did not take him long to see that each occupant was a representative of one of the goodly faiths—Mashano, Naishia, Kazoran, and Sephania. The human priest of Mashano waved Garkhen to the empty seat.

 

“Good, you’re here! We’ve been waiting for you!”

 

Warily, Garkhen approached. What was the test here? “You have been waiting for me?”

 

“Indeed,” the dwarven priest of Kazoran rumbled. “Now we’re all here, so we can begin.”

 

“Shall we start with unity, then?” The elven priest of Sephania asked. “We followers of Sephania are far more united than the humans with their god. They cannot even agree on what he wants.”

 

“And you can’t agree on who your god is!” The human retorted. “Male, female, both, neither…”

 

“Hah! No match for the dwarves there,” the dwarven priest interjected. “We know perfectly well what Kazoran’s like. I don’t know why this fellow thinks Bahamut is so much better,” he waved at Garkhen.

 

Was this testing his anger again? Garkhen firmly controlled his temper and replied, “While there is certainly virtue in the teachings of Kazoran, I have found that Bahamut’s teachings touch me more deeply.”

 

“So it’s up to you to choose, then?” The dwarf replied, peering closely at Garkhen.

 

The young half-dragon was taken aback by the question, but then the priest of Naishia spoke, “But if it were not for Naishia, we would not have a place to have this discussion.”

 

“And if it were not for Mashano we would not have a common language in which to speak it!”

 

Perhaps he was to defend his faith? “Indeed, but were it not for Bahamut, Tiamat would long since have overrun all.”

 

The conversation continued in this vein for a time, each priest claiming the best for his or her own god.

Garkhen grew increasingly uncomfortable and defensive, as the others seemed to focus more and more on him. Still, he was proud at how well he was debating. Yet the discussion showed no sign of slowing.

 

Finally, Garkhen exclaimed, “Must we argue like this? Are not we all servants of goodly gods?”

 

The priest of Mashano smirked at him. “Perhaps, but don’t you have to prove yours is the best?”

 

Suddenly it struck him. “Darkhen Ubrix…” Garkhen breathed, collapsing back in his seat.

 

The other priests all nodded, as if they understood, but Garkhen felt he should translate nonetheless. 

 

“Dragon-pride. That is the key here, is it not?”

 

The others all sat silently, waiting. Swallowing, Garkhen said, “No. No, I do not. While I stand firm for what I believe… I must also be humble. I should see the good in others without feeling it threatens me. I… must not succumb to the curse of pride.”

 

The others all nodded again, and then, one by one, they disappeared. Garkhen stood, and the chairs also vanished, leaving the way onwards clear once again. Yet he hesitated a moment. 

 

“Dragon-pride,” he murmured again. “The great curse of dragonkind. A heritage of my father that I must ever be wary of.”

 

After a few minutes of quiet reflection, he felt ready to continue.

 

Other tests followed, but none seemed to strike so deeply. Still Garkhen felt bone-weary when finally the passageway led to a small, well-lit chamber. Its only contents were an altar, on which lay an ornate silver mace. Gazing on it, the Warder knew all the tests were to prove the worth of one who would wield this weapon.

 

Hesitantly, he reached out and picked it up. It was fairly heavy, as a good mace should be, but well-balanced. Inspecting it, he saw its name etched into its haft.

 

“Silverflame.”

 

As he spoke the name, silver-colored flames burst from the head of the mace, wrapping it in fiery radiance. Garkhen gasped. Flaming weapons were far from rare, but the silver color seemed to suggest it was more than ordinary magical flame. 

 

After a few moments, the flame went out. Garkhen took his old mace and, after a moment’s thought, tied it to his pack, then slipped Silverflame through the belt loop where it had been. It felt… right, there.

The Warder breathed a quiet prayer of thanks to Bahamut, then asked, “But what plans do you have for me that require such a weapon?”

 

No answer came, though for a moment Garkhen had the nagging feeling he had forgotten something. It was gone before he could properly grasp the thought, however. After a minute of quiet reflection, he turned to leave… and was surprised to see the canyon right in front of him. Turning back, he could see only a shallow, empty cave, with no sign of the many passages he had walked, much less the tests and the altar.

 

Shaking his head a bit, Garkhen turned again and walked out into the canyon. He did not quite know what he needed to do next, but… he would see what good he could do, and surely in so seeking Bahamut would lead him.

 

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So now Garkhen has his weapon. This is the end of this chapter, which means… it’s almost time to revisit a scene from many moons ago from a different perspective!

Chapter 15-3

The cave gave no answer to his mental question, but soon a new scene opened on him. Or… perhaps opened was not the right word. It more slowly came into focus, as the impenetrable darkness around him took shape. Slowly Garkhen realized he was surrounded by huge, shadowy figures, and they were slowly closing in upon him.

 

How had they surrounded him? What even were they? Even his draconic vision could not penetrate the blackness around them. They were drawing closer, towering over him.

 

He turned about, subconsciously taking a step back, only to realize that brought him closer to others behind him. Nervously he whirled, then whirled again. Fear crept up his spine as he realized there was no way out.

 

Garkhen exhaled a bolt of lightning at the nearest one, but it was simply swallowed by the darkness. Nervously, he gripped his mace, wondering if these terrors would be better warded off with holy magic…

 

Wait… fear. Sudden understanding firmed his resolve. He closed his eyes.

 

“I do not fear you,” he stated, clamping down on the terror that tried to make him a liar. “I am the master of my own fear. I will not let it control me.”

 

When he opened his eyes, the huge shadows still ringed him, but that was all the proof he needed. Confidently Garkhen strode forward, right into one of the looming masses of darkness. It dissipated at his touch, and soon the room was again clear, with nothing but another passageway leading onward.

 

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Apologies for the short post. It’s hard coming up with these.

Chapter 15-2

After a moment, the darkness cleared around him. Which was not to say there was any light, but at last his draconic vision could see. He was in a large, rough chamber, with an exit on the other side.

 

And he was not alone. Some sort of demonic being stood before him, looking him up and down.

 

“HAH! This is all that comes to face me?” It scoffed at him. “Come, little dwarf dragon. Come and die!”

 

The Infernal was not much larger than he was. “We shall see,” Garkhen growled, readying himself and charging at it. 

 

They met with a crash, claws scraping against steel, mace swinging through the air as it sidestepped. 

 

“Pathetic! And you call yourself a Warder of Bahamut?” The Infernal crowed. “A hatchling dragon would be a greater defender of the weak than you!”

 

Garkhen did not bother wasting breath on an answer, instead redoubling his attack. But the demon matched him blow for blow. Even when his strikes connected, they seemed to do nothing to it. The whole time, it continued to taunt him, mocking his combat prowess, his ideals, his heritage… Garkhen could feel his anger rising.

 

He wasn’t quite sure how long he fought, but as he tired, he noticed the demon was larger, its strikes harder. Through his wrath, he felt there was a hint there. Something…

 

There are no demons here, save those you bring in with you.

 

Suddenly Garkhen stopped, doing nothing more than defending himself, and striving for calmness. He steadied his breathing, and ignored the creature’s continued insults. Soon enough, he could see he was right—it was dwindling before his eyes, its taunts becoming increasingly frantic.

 

Finally it hardly reached his ankles. Garkhen gazed down upon it. 

 

“You’ll never defeat me!” It shrieked at him.

 

“Perhaps not,” Garkhen admitted, “But I shall master you.”

 

He walked toward the exit at the other side of the room, ignoring the shrieks and scratches of the little demon. As soon as he passed into the corridor beyond, the demon was gone.

 

So am I being tested, then? What am I being tested for? 

 

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Perhaps I should have built the tension there for longer. Oh, well.