Almonihah nodded reluctantly. “How long d’ you need?”
The half-blue dragon shook his head slightly. “Too long. I fear what may happen if this being reaches the Madlands.”
Again the Ranger nodded. “Need help, though. Think ‘t’s time t’ talk to th’ Rangers again.”
The Warder sighed. “I fear first I should take some care for myself. Then… I believe I shall be able to ride, at least.”
Garkhen ate and drank, then rested for a bit. Once he had convinced himself that he was feeling stronger, he told his two friends he was ready.
It quickly became clear that he was not ready, when even with the usual assistance he could not quite manage to mount Zakhin’Dakh… because he wobbled and fell off of the rock he was standing on to get him up to a sufficient height.
“I am unharmed!” He exclaimed after landing with a great crash. “Or perhaps, I am no worse than I was before,” he admitted, as he struggled to sit back up.
Almonihah shook his head slightly as he watched. He hated waiting… who knew what was going on with that amulet? But they were going to need all the help they could get, and whatever else Garkhen was, he was a strong ally.
“Rest a bit more,” he said, grudgingly. “Can’t just leave you here, ‘nd I don’t think you want to ride ‘n Zakhin’Dakh’s talons again.”
Garkhen grinned slightly. “Indeed not! I had thought my soreness due entirely to my exertions of yesterday, but that might explain why certain areas feel particularly tender.”
Almonihah snorted in reply, but said nothing more.
They rested for several hours before Garkhen felt well enough to ride. Almonihah begrudged every moment of it, often heading off to ‘scout’ their surroundings again, in between sending Zakhin’Dakh off to hunt. Finally, when the sun was already well on its way down, they again set off. They were headed at a slight angle from the path their quarry had taken—towards the Ranger headquarters.
Almonihah felt rather confident they would be able to track the Javni’Tolkhrah, and so had no fear of losing the trail.
The sun was low on the horizon when they arrived. Before they even landed, the Ranger Commander came out of his small office.
“Almonihah, Garkhen. You have the look of those bearing ill news,” he said as Zakhin’Dakh landed.
Zakhin’Dakh screeched in annoyance at not being included. Almonihah patted his side while Garkhen roused himself from his half-doze and responded.
“Indeed we do, Commander. The amulet was stolen, and its thief now makes his way to the Madlands. We gave chase, but were attacked by three of the Madness-Touched simultaneously.”
Air hissed through the Commander’s lips as he gasped. “Three at once? Never do they attack in a coordinated manner…”
Almonihah grunted. “Think ‘t’s the amulet. ‘nd I don’t think we can risk being th’ only ones going after this guy.”
“There is only one?” The Commander asked, gaze turned upwards as he his thoughts began to fly.
“Now,” Almonihah replied. “From th’ tracks, looks like one ‘f them summoned some Madness-Touched t’ get rid of his companions.”
“…And these beasts now accompany and guard him,” the Commander said. “I can see why you came. Come, we must plan quickly. Where do you think he will attempt to breach the Line?”
“Not too far t’ the west of here…” Almonihah began, when an odd, shrill whistle interrupted him.
The Ranger Commander looked up, his expression grim. “That call is only sounded for a fallen Ranger.” He looked over at the two half-dragons. “It well may be that your thief has already reached the Madlands.”
Man, this chapter is just full of good, ominous points to end posts, isn’t it?