Zakhin’Dakh backed away from his foe, trying to not get caught between it and the other Javni’Tolkhrah still flying towards them. The cat-beast followed him, keeping up its attack, thinking it had the big griffon on the defensive. It leaped forward, and Zakhin’Dakh had to jump to the side to avoid its claws. But it had gotten too close to its larger foe, and it was Zakhin’Dakh’s turn to strike.
He suddenly lunged forward, his beak closing on its head. He couldn’t quite bite through its tough scales and skull, but now he could hold it close for a moment while he got his talons on it. While he still couldn’t get through its scales, its belly was unarmored, and soon it was gasping out its last breaths on the ground while Zakhin’Dakh took off, trying to keep away from the other Javni’Tolkhrah that were just now landing to follow after Almonihah. He hated leaving his friend, but dying wouldn’t help right now.
Almonihah had made some progress through the thick tangle of forest he’d dived into, feeling almost like he was fighting against the trees themselves as he struggled his way forward. But he could hear one of the Javni’Tolkhrah closing in on him, so he turned to fight, snarling at it as he drew his blades. It clearly hadn’t fared well, as it had ragged bleeding scratches along its hindquarters, but it tried to lunge towards him, only to shy back as he jabbed Zithrandrak towards its muzzle.
He followed it, getting close enough to slash at it with Eldereth. The blade glanced off its shoulder, somehow failing to penetrate its furred hide. It lashed out with its claws, forcing Almonihah back, and scratching his forearm slightly through his scales. But now he saw an opening, an Zithrandrak flashed forward. He could feel the resistance as he struck its hide, but his draconic strength was great enough to push his sword’s enchanted blade into the beast’s shoulder. It howled as Zithrandrak’s icy enchantment froze its blood around the wound, but in truth it was not a serious wound.
Almonihah jumped back as the Javni’Tolkhrah snapped at him with mismatched but no less deadly teeth. It looked like leading with Zithrandrak was the better option here, he thought to himself as he dodged another claw swipe. So he feinted with Eldereth, holding its attention with the larger blade, then struck again with his thinner sword. This time he struck it in the head, but his blade deflected off its skull, leaving it with a long, bleeding gash along the side of its head, but not killing it.
Its next claw slash caught him in the cheek, rewarding him with a shallow, bloody wound of his own. He tried to back up, to use the greater reach of his weapons to good effect, but the monster was enraged, trying to stay on top of him and rend him limb from limb. While dangerous, this did leave openings that Almonihah could take advantage of, and as it reared up to slash down at him again, he stabbed it in the chest with Zithrandrak. It managed to slash him across the face as it died, and Almonihah stumbled back, releasing his grip on Zithrandrak as he raised his hand to his face.
Blood trickled into his eyes, and he desperately recalled the one simple spell-prayer of healing he knew, focusing it on the gash on his forehead. He felt it close, then wiped the blood away as best he could. He could hear crashing behind him. He couldn’t linger, in spite of the fatigue from channeling Naishia’s power. And so he turned and kept running.
Zakhin’Dakh watched as the other Javni’Tolkhrah started making their way into the ‘forest’. He didn’t like the trees. They looked wrong. And they were too close together for a big creature like him to really walk between well. So he flew in the way Almonihah had been going, remembering that the forest hadn’t been that big.
Slowly, Garkhen got back to his feet. He could hear arrows humming and monsters roaring behind him. Hadn’t they retreated? Where had these come from? Steeling himself against his exhaustion, the Warder turned to see what was happening.
There were not many Javni’Tolkhrah. He saw only three, and they were all comparatively small. But the ranks of the Rangers were depleted as well. Thus far, the handful still living were managing to hold the range open, firing arrows at the pursuing beasts, but a couple more lay dead on the ground. And so Garkhen forced himself to walk, to move towards this last desperate struggle… at least, he hoped it was the last…
Well, I wasn’t as productive last week in terms of writing as I hoped… but don’t worry! This long battle is indeed winding down to its close.