Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Chapter 15-2

The Mage’s Guild Library was as massive as anticipated, with seemingly endless shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling, arranged in fanciful curves within a massive tower. Garkhen was clearly delighted to be in a library, as opposed to the dour Ranger, who looked at all of the books rather doubtfully. Zakhin’Dakh, again shrunken to a more indoor size, looked all about him with awe. He had no idea what these funny human things were, but there were a lot of them!

Garkhen immediately went to a desk, behind which a robed man was murmuring and waving a hand over a stack of books. He held up his other hand, palm out, at the approaching half-dragon, and Garkhen obediently waited for him to finish. With a final flourish of his hand, the books flew into the air, splitting up and floating across the library until they settled into empty places on shelves.

“Ah, our guests,” he said, looking the two half-dragons and griffon over. “I was informed you would be coming. I am Mage-Archivist Delanoche. What topic is it you wish to research?”

“We are looking for information about methods used to control the Madness-Touched,” Garkhen began.

“Indeed?” The Mage-Archivist interjected, looking surprised. “And why is this?”

“The artifact we are seeking to destroy seems to have been used for such,” the Warder explained. “We hope that by discovering something of its past, we might uncover clues as to how it might be destroyed.”

“Indeed,” Mage-Archivist Delanoche said again, though this time it was more an expression of understanding. “Information on chaos mages is usually restricted… however, you have permission to access whatever portion of our collection you require, and it seems you shall require what we have on the followers of Jivenesh. This way.”

He led the way through the shelves, weaving between them with the ease of long familiarity until he reached an unassuming door. He reached into a pocket on his robe and pulled out an elaborate key, which he inserted into the door’s lock. The Mage-Archivist turned the key first one way, then another, then back, before at last twisting it all the way around. Then he murmured something, tapped a spot on the door, and removed the key.

A section of the wall next to the door slid open, revealing a small, unlit room, with a table at the center and more bookshelves on each wall. “This is the relevant portion of the restricted section,” Mage-Archivist Delanoche stated. “All of you enter so I may close the door.”

He watched as the three friends walked in, then joined them. With a quiet word the wall slid shut behind them, while a crystal globe hanging from the ceiling suddenly lit up, illuminating the room.

“Now, then… chaos mages, chaos mages…” he murmured, going down the shelves. “Ah, here. This shelf has all the books we have on the subject.” He waved a hand at them. “I must observe all use of the restricted section, so do please begin quickly.”

Almonihah looked down at Garkhen with a hint of a frown, but the Warder was already making his way over to the shelves. He looked over the titles and shuddered slightly. “This will certainly not be the most pleasant of reading… let us hope it is worthwhile.” 

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Now, who remembers that name, hm? And yes, of course the Mage’s Guild has a magical library.

Chapter 15-1

Chapter 15: Seeking Chaos’s End

“It is true that evil itself is never truly defeated. At the least, it will not be so long as selfishness and hatred dwell in the hearts of men. But individual evils can be stopped, destructive beings turned from their course or, if needs be, slain.”

“It is… rather like a garden, I would suppose. Weeds will ever spring up, but so long as effort is put into exterminating them, one can still grow a good crop. So, too, must constant effort be put into curbing and reversing the growth of evil, lest it destroy everything of beauty and goodness.” –Garkhen

It took days for Zakhin’Dakh and Garkhen to be recovered enough to consider their next moves—days which Almonihah spent anxiously pacing around the Mage’s Guild, watching for any signs of further attempts to steal the Amulet. He saw none, and each day it was returned safely to his keeping, but this hardly soothed the Ranger’s nerves.

Nor did the wizards’ discoveries do anything to calm him or his friends. In their studies, they found it was not simply a potent artifact of Chaos… but rather a potent artifact of controlling Chaos. How it worked they could not say, nor how the chaos mages had known of it, but they were able to divine that it was capable of bending the wills of Madness-Touched creatures to the bearer’s commands… and that it had a dangerous will of its own.

It was clear to all that it had to be destroyed… but equally clear that such a task would be far from easy. By the time Garkhen had recovered from once again overextending himself, they still knew nothing of how it might be destroyed.

“Perhaps if we knew something of its history, we might guess at a method of destruction?” He suggested as he and Almonihah met once again with the guild’s remaining archmages. “Surely such a thing must appear in records, even if it was not recognized for what it is?”

There was a moment of silence around the table as the others considered this proposal. Archmage Ganver was the first to respond.

“It’s true that we haven’t thought to check,” he admitted. “Perhaps you could go confer with the Mage-Archivists in the library? Then,” he eyed Almonihah, “You’d have something to occupy you other than pacing the halls.”

Almonihah grunted, acknowledging the point unhappily. “’nd the rest of you?”

“Will continue our current lines of research,” Ganver replied, promptly.

“That seems a fair idea,” Garkhen responded, before his friend could say anything further. “Shall we begin?”

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Chapter 14-8

Garkhen, now thinking his friends safe enough, immediately fell asleep, too exhausted to stay conscious.

It did not take long to mop up the remaining Javni’Tolkhrah after that, but Zakhin’Dakh was hardly the only wounded, and there were many dead among the griffon-riders. It was a weary and wounded lot that flew back into Midport after the battle, many splitting off to visit various healers and priests in the city. Captain Theris found them and waved them over.

“We’ve not enough healers for everyone, but that wound takes priority over some,” he shouted as the three friends neared. They could see that he and his griffon both bore a few cuts and scratches of their own, but nothing too serious. “This way.”

He led them over the city to what was obviously the religious district of the city. A number of different temples—most of them to Mashano, but also a few to some other deities—seemed to compete with one another for beauty and size. A number of griffons had already landed in the various plazas and squares scattered about the area, with priests and acolytes rushing out to tend to them.

The Rider Captain landed in one of the less-crowded plazas and waved over one of the priests, pointing to the larger griffon descending behind him.

“Look to that leg—check it for poison, and stop the bleeding, at the least,” Theris ordered.

“And I suppose you’re confident that your own wounds aren’t poisoned?” The priest asked, already moving over to Zakhin’Dakh as he landed, keeping his weight off his injured leg. “Don’t answer that, I have something that will handle it.”

He pulled out a large amulet, which seemed built around a straight white horn.

“Unicorn,” he stated, briefly touching it to some of the blood trickling from Zakhin’Dakh’s injured leg. He examined it as he continued, “Given willingly, at the noble creature’s death, to one of my predecessors, or so the story goes.”

He seemed satisfied by what he saw. “You’re lucky. Whatever it was just had big teeth, not big poisonous teeth.” The priest murmured some words and waved a hand over Zakhin’Dakh’s wounds, and the bleeding stopped.

He quickly examined his work. “It will heal naturally, now, if it’s dressed. I doubt we’ve the power to spare for more right now.”

Almonihah, who had been trailing behind, landed behind Zakhin’Dakh while the priest went over to Captain Theris. The big griffon looked back at his friend.

Hurts, but not lots, he screeched.

Almonihah nodded. “Let’s see about getting ‘t cleaned up ‘nd bandaged, now.”

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Just a bit of time to calm down and clean up after the big battle. Next week, it’ll be a new chapter! This is getting fairly close to the end now–chapter 19 or 20 will probably be the last one, by my current plan. 

Chapter 14-7

For the most part his arrows simply bounced off the monster’s thick scales, though the blessing on them left little scorched spots on it as they did so. Zakhin’Dakh, meanwhile, charged at it.

“Be careful,” Garkhen cautioned him. “I cannot ward us much longer.”

The big griffon showed no signs of stopping, and so it was that, when the beast breathed fire upon them from its lower mouth, Garkhen’s ward had to hold off the flames. The Warder gritted his teeth, fighting his growing exhaustion as Zakhin’Dakh plowed through the fire to attack his foe. But when his talons met scales, they merely scrabbled at them, unable to penetrate. The Javni’Tolkhrah dragon gaped its double jaws at the griffon…

…which meant they were open wide enough for Almonihah to shoot an arrow into the upper one. It roared in pain as it flinched backward, bleeding from the wound in its cheek, but more in surprise than from pain. Then one of the griffon-riders blasted it with a jet of magical acid, and it roared again as its scales hissed and steamed, dissolving away until the supernatural liquid dissipated. Another rider passed over its back, his griffon’s talons finding no more purchase than Zakhin’Dakh’s had as he attacked in passing.

Almonihah, however, noted the area on its shoulder hit by the acid, and fired an arrow at it. Unlike his previous shots, this one sunk in deep… and while it was only a small injury on a creature of such size, it was still far more effective than his other shots had been.

“More acid!” The Ranger shouted up at the griffon-riders above, having no clue which one had thrown the spell or if they could hear him.

Zakhin’Dakh noted the difference, as well, but soon found a giant maw descending towards him. The big griffon leaped backward just in time, the dragon-monster’s lower jaw snapping shut just where he had been. Zakhin’Dakh slashed at its eyes, managing to pierce one with a talon… but with so many, it seemed like it wouldn’t miss one.

“Look out!” A voice called from above.

Zakhin’Dakh jumped backward again, and the griffon-rider who had shouted hurled a ball of acid at the monster’s head. It shrieked in pain as it struck home, splashing sizzling liquid all about its snout. Without even waiting for the acid to fade away, Almonihah fired an arrow at the spot, sinking one into its flesh just above the nostril.

The Madness-Touched dragon screamed in pain, thrashing about with its claws and teeth wildly, even though Almonihah was out of reach. Zakhin’Dakh, however, was not, and it clipped him with one claw, leaving a deep gash on his shoulder, and crashing into Garkhen with the hardened sole of its foot. The Warder was almost knocked off of Zakhin’Dakh’s back, kept on only because he was strapped into the saddle. Unconsciousness threatened to overwhelm him, but Garkhen growled and gritted his teeth, maintaining his awareness by sheer force of will.

The big griffon backed up more to stay out of the reach of the beast’s huge claws, while other griffon-riders began adding their own arrows to Almonihah’s. The Javni’Tolkhrah, however, did not flinch away now, instead whipping its head around and exhaling a huge blast of flames, catching those riders who had drawn too close in the fire.

Zakhin’Dakh saw an opportunity while it was doing this, and leaped on it, sinking his talons into its shoulder where its scales had been softened and tearing bleeding gashes into it. It whipped its head back around, too fast for the griffon to evade, and seized one of his back legs in its maw. Zakhin’Dakh shrieked in pain, but Garkhen forced himself into action, bringing Silverflame down on the injured spot on its snout.

Holy fire burned corrupted flesh as Garkhen’s mace impacted it, but it did not release its grip. As it dragged Zakhin’Dakh backwards, the Warder again lifted his mace, and again swung it down. Two more times he pounded upon the beast’s snout, until with his last blow something cracked, and the Javni’Tolkhrah at last let go of the griffon’s mangled leg.

This distraction gave the griffon-riders time to regroup, and now another volley of arrows struck it, some in the places its scales were weakened, while the spell-slinging rider again hurled an orb of acid, this time hitting its neck. Again it turned its attention skyward, but this time the riders were ready, and they scattered as its flames roared towards them.

Almonihah, still keeping his distance, shifted his angle to get a shot at its neck, sinking more arrows into its flesh. As he did, Garkhen considered Zakhin’Dakh’s injury. It was clear the griffon could no longer use the leg.

“I am sorry, my friend,” he murmured, “But I haven’t the strength to heal it now.”

The big griffon nodded his head jerkily, then awkwardly took to the air, retreating for now from the Javni’Tolkhrah dragon. It seemed to be slowing at last, blood flowing freely from the deep wounds in its shoulder, and trickling from around the many arrows now protruding from its flesh. Yet it fought on, spraying flames at any riders that drew too close. When they kept their distance, it started to lurch forward, down the slope.

Then another spray of acid struck it in the chin as it breathed fire at those above it. The monstrosity whipped its head over towards the spellcaster who had thrown the acid, but he had already flown back out of reach of its flames. Another griffon-rider zoomed by it, and it turned its head to follow.

Almonihah, seeing at last a chance to cause a mortal wound, fired an arrow at the now-unarmored place on its chin, but his arrow went wide, skipping off its uninjured shoulder again. Carefully, he watched it, nocking another arrow.

Another rider fired on it from the other direction, and it turned its head to follow. Almonihah fired, and this time his arrow flew true. It pierced through the weakened place on the Madness-Touched dragon’s chin, through the roof of both mouths, and into its brain.

With a suddenness that no one had expected, it collapsed. It convulsed for a few moments, then at last lay still.

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Yeah, don’t let dragons hang out in the Madlands. It’s bad.

Chapter 14-6

Without being told, Zakhin’Dakh dove for the ground, shriek-roaring his battle challenge. There were, indeed, a large number of assorted Javni’Tolkhrah that had slipped through one of the mountain passes while the aerial battle raged and were now making their way down towards the steep slopes and cliffs that dropped down to Midport.

“Don’t know how they plan t’ get down,” Almonihah commented, again nocking an arrow to his bow, “But I don’t plan t’ find out.”

He fired just as Zakhin’Dakh plowed into the first one, tearing into it with talon and beak. Almonihah’s arrow struck home in the shoulder of another monstrosity as the big griffon put down the first. Garkhen, weariness wearing at him, still spat out a bolt of lightning through the horde, then braced his wards for the retaliation.

But there was none. The Javni’Tolkhrah simply charged past, towards the city, as more of the griffon-riders dove down around them to join the fray. Even with all this, the Madness-Touched simply charged forward, many dying as they left themselves open to griffons and riders, but some still getting through. Almonihah refocused his attention on those already past, while some of the griffon-riders moved to take off again.

“No! Stand your ground!” Captain Theris suddenly shouted from above, flying back towards the cliffs the Javni’Tolkhrah were headed for. “You’ll let more through if you take off again! Leave these to us!”

The handful of riders with him dove down into the remaining Madness-Touched, tearing into them with talon and blade. Somehow, they managed to finish them before any of them reached the cliffs, though a couple died just as they reached it. And still, the Javni’Tolkhrah poured in… and now that so many griffon-riders were grounded, the aerial battle was growing desperate.

Then there was a tremendous blast of flames. Almonihah glanced back.

“Looks like th’ wizards arrived,” he commented.

Standing on a half-dozen assorted wooden platforms which were now hovering in midair were some of the remaining mages of the Mages’ Guild. All were staring into the melee, and here and there, one threw a bolt of lightning or a ball of fire, whereever there was a gap in the griffon-riders sufficient to do so relatively safely.

With their addition, the tide of battle again began to turn back against the monstrosities still pouring in over the mountains. At last, their stream of reinforcements began to slacken.

Garkhen frowned as he struggled to remain aware of his surroundings. “There is something… do you hear that?”

Almonihah grunted while continuing to fire his arrows, not sparing the time for a more understandable response in the midst of battle.

Before Garkhen could say more, however, the source of his worry appeared. Trundling over the top of the mountain into view, a horrific creature came. It was enormous, large as the greatest of dragons… nor was that the end of its draconic features. At the end of a long neck it had two great, toothy maws, stacked upon one another, with eyes scattered about its head nonsensically. From snout to tail it was covered in slate-gray scales, and it moved on a dozen clawed feet.

Almonihah turned his bow on it. “Least it doesn’t have wings,” he growled as he began firing.

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Yeah, that might be bad. Apologies for not posting last week. I blame it entirely on Civ VI.

This Javni’Tolkhrah may or may not be inspired by this picture