Again the half-bronze dragon growled. He’d recognized the feeling. How could he forget it…
He jumped at a touch on his shoulder. He looked over, right into a huge griffon eye.
Okay? Zakhin’Dakh screeched.
Mutely Almonihah nodded. “’t’s not let him get further in,” he said to the group.
Quietly they continued moving, following the trail deeper into the Madlands. The sun rose higher in the sky as they traveled, but its light seemed… uncertain, somehow, as if it passed through some kind of invisible haze.
Garkhen shivered slightly. The… wrongness in the air disturbed him. He could feel Zakhin’Dakh’s tension below him, and it was not hard to see that the Rangers, including Almonihah, were on edge. Odd movements seemed to flicker at the edge of his vision, and sometimes he could swear that the trees themselves were twisting to watch them as they passed.
Before long they began descending from the forested mountainsides into warm jungle… though the twisting of the land in the Madlands was already becoming apparent. Stones stuck out of the earth at odd angles in unnatural shapes, and even the trees seemed to have taken monstrous shapes that spoke of claws and fangs instead of branches.
But for now, all seemed still. Too still—no birds sung, no insects buzzed, no rodents scurried… even the air seemed still, for all that something in it seemed to shimmer and move until one turned to look at it. Even the sound of their passage seemed muffled… or perhaps that was simply the Rangers’ skill at stealth, for Zakhin’Dakh’s talons clicking on stone every now and again seemed loud enough.
Suddenly Almonihah broke the silence. “There!” He said, pointing.
For a moment everyone stopped, straining to see. “’t’s definitely a large group. Got t’ hurry to catch up,” Almonihah explained, then started moving again, at a faster pace.
The rest of the group hurried to follow, though Almonihah’s ground-eating pace was hard to match. Garkhen found himself quite glad he was riding—there was no way he would have been able to keep up on foot. Indeed, even some of the other Rangers seemed to be struggling as the half-dragon’s pace began to resemble a run more than a jog.
They raced through the twisted landscape, noting only in passing the distressing number of thorns, crevices, and other unpleasant features to the sides of the path. The Javni’Tolkhrah had, however, cleared most of these with their passing, it appeared, save for some of the more uneven terrain.
But by now the reason for their haste was clear to all, for they could see, when there was a break in the foliage, that they were descending into a large valley. And plain within it was a large group of twisted monsters, gathered around a single figure… waiting.
So yes, next post is going to involve lots of fighting. Lots and lots of fighting.