Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Chapter 14-5

One of the healers serving the griffon-riders cast a spell-prayer upon Zakhin’Dakh, easing the worst of his fatigue. Still, he felt slow flying after the other griffons, struggling to keep up with them. By the time he reached the mountains around Midport they were well ahead of him… and already engaged in combat. Dozens of twisted monstrosities had risen into the air to meet the griffon-riders, and now arrows and blasts of magical fire and ice sailed through the air between them.

Almonihah added his own arrows to the fray as soon as he felt he wasn’t likely to hit an ally, the blessed projectiles gleaming as they arced towards their targets. Garkhen chanted a spell-prayer as they drew close, holding up his symbol of Bahamut and then breathing a bolt of lightning through it, his prayer turning it to a lance of holy energy that blasted one of the Javni’Tolkhrah from the sky. Then Zakhin’Dakh was there, his talons and beak slicing through muscle and bone as he crashed into the largest Madness-Touched he could see.

The midair battle raged fiercely, though to the exhausted friends it seemed almost a blur. Here, a griffon fell, rider screaming in fear as they plummeted. There one of the chaos-twisted monstrosities tumbled from the sky, head and chest pierced by more arrows than any creature should take to put down. Garkhen had to focus mostly on warding Zakhin’Dakh, for the big griffon was determined to stay in the thick of the fighting, but was too tired to evade properly. Almonihah simply continued firing arrows, aiming at whatever Javni’Tolkhrah he had a clear shot at.

The battle seemed to last forever, though it couldn’t really have been more than a few minutes. But then the rider captain looked down.

“The ones on the ground! They’ve almost reached the city!”

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Even short posts must end on semi-cliffhangers.

Chapter 14-4

The lead griffon-rider’s eyes widened. “What? Where are they?”

“We lost sight of them some time back,” Garkhen replied, as Zakhin’Dakh began to descend towards the city. “But given what we carry, I rather doubt they have lost track of us.”

“Well why did you bring it here, then?” The leader cried, expression hardening.

“Better ‘an in th’ hands of Chaos Mages,” Almonihah growled in reply. “What, Mages’ Guild didn’t tell you?”

“The Mages’ Guild has had a… civil war of sorts,” the griffon-rider replied, grimly. “And I rather suspect what you carry was the catalyst for it. But if Chaos Mages seek what you bear, we are, at least, agreed that they cannot have it. Come.” He turned his griffon about and began flying towards the spires of the Mages’ Guild.

Zakhin’Dakh screeched tiredly and tried to follow, but his wings didn’t seem to want to work. Almonihah shouted, “We have t’ land. Zakhin’Dakh here’s been flying flat-out for hours, no way he can make ‘t across th’ city now.”

“Then walk,” the lead griffon-rider called back. “I will bring word ahead, that we may begin to prepare our defenses.”

Zakhin’Dakh’s wings were exhausted, but his legs were not, nor were Almonihah’s. Garkhen rode on the big griffon’s back as they made their way through Midport, his shorter legs too much of a liability when haste was needed. They saw others up and about, starting their day, though they often spared a curious glance for the odd group as they passed by. Almonihah kept glancing back, hoping he wouldn’t see smoke rising at the edge of the city.

Thus far, the morning was quiet.

When they reached the Mages’ Guild, however, it was clear that things had not been quiet overnight. Two of the guild’s spires lay toppled, and several others were scorched or otherwise damaged. The griffon-rider from earlier was near the entrance, speaking with a robed man—the head Archmage at the table when they had first arrived in town. His expression was grave as the three friends approached.

“You survive,” he noted, rather unnecessarily. “Good. Though I wish you did not come trailing quite so many foes, given the obvious capabilities of that Amulet, I prefer knowing it is in your hands rather than that of the Chaos Mages. Unfortunately, I do not think we will have sufficient time to discover the secret of its destruction before those Madness-Touched reach us. And given our recent civil war, we are ill-prepared to face them.”

“Civil war?” Garkhen repeated. “What has happened here?”

“It would appear that there were a number of Chaos Mages in our guild,” the Archmage replied, the very calmness of his voice somehow speaking of his anger. “Apparently they thought the time to reveal themselves was upon them. Why Illusin helped you when he was one of them, I do not know…”

“Because he thought he was sending us t’ our deaths,” Almonihah growled, eyes narrowed. “Underestimated us. Was close, though. Still is close.”

“Indeed,” the Archmage responded. “I fear you shall have little time to rest. Already our wards in the mountains are alerting us to the approaching horde. Given your involvement in this matter, I assume you shall go to the front lines of our defense…?”

Garkhen nodded. “Of course.”

The Archmage looked over at the griffon-rider. “Good. Captain Theris here will instruct you as to our preparations.”

The griffon-rider nodded. “They’re coming from all across the southeastern mountains. How they’re getting down the cliffs into the city, I don’t know, but I’d rather not find out. We’re marshaling in the square in front of Castle Midport. We’ve got some priests there who can do something for your wounds and fatigue. Come!”

He mounted his griffon and took off again, flying south. Zakhin’Dakh, still exhausted, followed on the ground, Garkhen on his back, while Almonihah jogged alongside.

The sun was fully up by the time they arrived. The square was huge, but full of activity. Zakhin’Dakh had never seen so many griffons in one place at once! Even when he’d visited the griffon-riders’ aerie, they’d been scattered around too much for him to see many of them. But there was no time for him to socialize, for Captain Theris, seeing the three friends arrived, called for attention.

“Riders of Midport! We face now perhaps our greatest threat—hordes of Madness-Touched stream towards our city, and our mighty wizards are too broken by their own battle to give us much aid. But we cannot afford to let the monsters into Midport. And that is why they,” he gestured at the two half-dragons and griffon, “Will be coming with us. See that glowing pack? That’s what all of the Madness-Touched are after. They’ll come to it, and we’ll kill them as they come, or die. I know which one of those I’d prefer, so you’d better not let me down. Now, we ride!”

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I had to come up with another name. In other news, Captain Theris is perhaps not the best at rousing speeches.

Chapter 14-3

Where go? Zakhin’Dakh asked.

“That way,” Almonihah responded, pointing to what he thinks is the northwest. “If we hit th’ coast, we can follow it to Midport. Just have t’ hope we’re not too far.”

With that, the half-bronze dragon turned to look back at the Javni’Tolkhrah following them. He was right—none of them were fast enough to keep up with Zakhin’Dakh. He briefly considered firing some arrows at them, but didn’t think he could while the big griffon was flying away at full speed, especially not backwards. Besides, they weren’t really a threat right now… and they were so interesting, such a varied lot…

“…monihah, you are still holding the Amulet!” Garkhen’s insistent voice broke into Almonihah’s reverie.

“Hm?” Almonihah lazily turned back and looked at his hands. Sure enough, there it was, in one of his hands gripping the saddle. Funny, that. He remembered planning to do something else with it, but it worked there…

“Quickly! Put it in my pack!” The Warder, strapped in the saddle could afford using both hands to open and offer his pack to the other half-dragon.

Slowly, the realization that something was wrong percolated through Almonihah’s thoughts. Slowly he released his grip on the saddle with the hand holding the Amulet, and brought it up over Garkhen’s pack. But then…

“I can’t let go,” Almonihah commented, dreamily. “Hand won’t open.” It seemed kind of funny to him, somehow.

“You cannot?” Garkhen repeated, dismayed. Thinking quickly, he dug through his memory and called up a spell-prayer for reinforcing will. Lifting one hand from his pack to his symbol of Bahamut, he prayed for his god’s aid for his friend.

Slowly, the haze over Almonihah’s mind lifted, and his expression went from one of vacant bemusement to one of angry focus. Gradually his fingers began to open, until at last, the Amulet dropped into Garkhen’s pack. It continued to glow brightly, colors shifting in sickening patterns, shining even through the leather of the pack.

Almonihah growled, shaking his head. “Hate that thing. Messing with my head. Can’t destroy ‘t fast enough.”

Garkhen nodded, but said nothing, instead putting his pack back on. For some reason he suspected the Amulet would try to fall out if he let it, and so he made triple-sure his pack was buckled closed before replacing it.

They gradually left their pursuers behind… until all of a sudden, as a group, the Javni’Tolkhrah turned and dove, soon disappearing out of sight even to draconic eyes in the darkness.

“Don’t like that…” Almonihah commented. “Still, you can probably slow down a bit, Zakhin’Dakh.”

The big griffon screeched a tired acknowledgment. Flying that hard had worn him out, and they still hadn’t seen any familiar terrain, though it could well be that the night’s darkness cloaked their goal from sight. Zakhin’Dakh stretched out his wings and stopped flapping nearly so often, soaring and gliding instead of flapping hard. He was still tired, but they dared not stop, not knowing what the Javni’Tolkhrah were doing.

At last, the first light of dawn started to gleam in the sky, just in time to reveal the spires of Midport on the horizon, visible between the dramatic peaks they were flying around. Soon enough Zakhin’Dakh was descending towards the city, aching wings just barely functional after so long a flight.

A half-dozen griffon-riders rose to meet them. Their leader recognized the odd little group. “You’ve returned! Though I was not informed you had left…” he began.

“No time t’ talk,” Almonihah shouted back. “We’ve got a horde of Javni’Tolkhrah on our tails, and no idea when or where they’ll show up!”

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Not quite a cliffhanger here, I guess… 

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, here’s a rare picture of Almonihah smiling.