Almonihah awoke with a start, cursing himself for falling asleep… particularly in such an uncomfortable position. Looking around, he was relieved to see Zakhin’Dakh was fine, still dozing even though, from the position of the sun, it was already a couple hours past dawn. Garkhen was still asleep, as well. From what little experience he had with healing magic, the half-blue dragon must have exhausted himself last night.
Which made the trace of anger he still felt looking at the blue of Garkhen’s scales all the more irrational. At first Almonihah had thought it was reasonable—it reminded him of the loss of his family, after all. And of course, metallic and chromatic dragons had an enmity that was older than humankind. But by now… he had to grudgingly admit that Garkhen wasn’t just not evil. He was earnestly devoted to the good of others.
So why couldn’t Almonihah get over the fact that he was half-blue dragon? There was no reason for him to have to suppress a growl whenever he looked at him. It was almost like there was something more going on… something else…
A weak cheep shook Almonihah from his thoughts. He stood up, grimacing as the motion informed him of the many spots he was sore, and walked over to his big friend.
I hurt lots, the big griffon moaned. But okay, think.
Almonihah snorted and nodded. “I think you’ll be okay, too. Should stand up and stretch, though, t’ help work through th’ soreness.”
It took quite a bit of work to convince Zakhin’Dakh to agree with this plan, particularly once he stood up and really found out how sore he was, but when Almonihah pointed out they’d need to go hunting soon, the griffon reluctantly stretched out his legs and wings. The half-bronze dragon stretched, too, trying to get himself in shape to move. Food for Zakhin’Dakh would be an issue, yes, but his real concern was what was going on with the amulet. He was almost certain the attack last night was related somehow… and he suspected it would only get worse with time.
Once Zakhin’Dakh seemed like he’d be able to fly again, Almonihah went over and checked on Garkhen again. He was still fast asleep… which was a bad sign, given how much noise they’d been making. Almonihah checked his breathing. It was deep and even.
“Least that’s good,” Almonihah murmured. After a moment’s consideration, he bent down and said, “Garkhen! Get up!”
Nothing. This time he shouted. “Garkhen! Wake up!”
When that brought no response, he tried shaking the other half-dragon. But not even that could arouse the slumbering Warder. Almonihah stood up straight with a growl. They couldn’t stay here, but there was no way he was lifting Garkhen in full armor and strapping him into Zakhin’Dakh’s saddle…
Well, there was only one real alternative.
“Zakhin’Dakh, think you could carry him in your talons?”
Almonihah was fairly certain that being held in Zakhin’Dakh’s taloned feet was in no way comfortable, but there wasn’t much of a choice right now.
“Let’s head th’ way we were going last night. Just keep an eye out t’ see if there’s anything worth hunting,” he said to the griffon. Zakhin’Dakh nodded slightly, and Almonihah held on to the saddle as they turned.
They did spot a few mountain goats off on a distant slope. Usually Almonihah let Zakhin’Dakh hunt his way, but this time… well, with the griffon’s talons occupied, he decided it was wiser to just shoot one himself.
After eating, they continued on in the direction they’d been going before. It wasn’t long before Zakhin’Dakh shrieked, Look!
He pointed with his beak, and Almonihah followed his gaze. It wasn’t long before his draconic eyes picked out what Zakhin’Dakh’s aquiline eyes had seen—a smudge of different colors in the distance, contrasting against the colors of stone, grass, and trees.
“’t’s take a look,” Almonihah said, and Zakhin’Dakh flew onward.
As they neared, it became clear that what they had seen was a wrecked campsite, with shredded tents… and freshly-killed corpses of men.
Zakhin’Dakh screeched long and low. Almonihah nodded. “Doesn’t look good. Let’s land, though.”
Carefully the griffon came in for a landing, setting down with his hind feet first, then placing Garkhen on the ground before putting his weight on his forelimbs. Almonihah dismounted and started looking around.
“Definitely Javni’Tolkhrah,” he spat, pointing at a seven-toed paw-print.
Zakhin’Dakh growled deep in his chest in response, but otherwise just watched as the Ranger looked around the campsite. Once his survey was done, he came back over to his friend.
“Can’t tell for sure… tracks ‘re everywhere. But looks like th’ Javni’Tolkhrah came ‘nd killed everyone. Like what they tried on us. Then they all left in one direction…” He pointed to the north.
There was another detail he’d noticed, which he didn’t think he needed to tell Zakhin’Dakh. They’d all been wearing amulets… ones that looked like cheap knock-offs of the one they were hunting. It seemed like he’d seen something like it before, but he couldn’t recall where.
But the real amulet hadn’t been here.
Sorry for the late post! I got distracted on Monday, and then Tuesday was busy… but here’s a slightly longer post to make up for it!