Somewhat to their surprise, nothing attacked them in the middle of the night. Zakhin’Dakh grumbled as he stretched out his sore muscles, and complained about eating old meat instead of hunting, but he knew well enough why he was putting up with all of this, so his complaints were mostly wordless, unhappy screeches. Almonihah patted his big friend soothingly as they breakfasted.
The land around them had mostly stayed steady, though the vegetation seemed somehow… watchful. Baleful. As if the very grass was glaring at them. Garkhen shuddered slightly as he re-mounted Zakhin’Dakh. Did the Amulet draw even the very substance of the Madlands?
Zakhin’Dakh took off with his two friends on his back, heading southeast again, towards the Maelstrom at the heart of the Madlands. He had not flown for long, however, before they could see dark shapes flying towards them.
“Took ’em long enough,” Almonihah commented acidly as he got his bow out.
There were only a handful of small flying monstrosities. They flew right at the much larger griffon, only to be shot down one-by-one as Almonihah fired on them. The Ranger looked around suspiciously as the last one fell.
“Something’s not right about that…” he commented… then noticed he could still hear wing-beats other than Zakhin’Dakh’s.
“Dive!” He shouted.
Zakhin’Dakh trusted Almonihah. That was likely the only thing that saved them, for the big griffon hadn’t caught on to what was going on. He dove, plunging downwards suddenly at the Ranger’s shout. Almonihah felt as much as heard the whistle of something passing right overhead.
Garkhen began chanting, then held up his symbol of Bahamut. It flashed with silver light, and a half-dozen more Javni’Tolkhrah appeared in midair above them.
“Right!” Almonihah shouted in Great Eagle, and Zakhin’Dakh banked just in time for another monster to dive past them.
Again Garkhen began chanting a spell-prayer. As he finished, a shimmering silvery shield formed above them, just in time for another Javni’Tolkhrah to impact it. The Warder grunted as he channeled power into the ward, and the beast bounced off, flipping and tumbling in the air, killed by the sudden impact with an unyielding surface.
“Okay, level off,” Almonihah told Zakhin’Dakh as he straightened and got into firing position. “That ward of yours let my arrows through?” He asked Garkhen.
“Yes,” was the Warder’s terse reply.
Almonihah wasted no more words, either, instead opening fire. His first shot whizzed past one of the Javni’Tolkhrah, and suddenly they all broke off, scattering to the winds. He kept firing as they fled, managing to bring another down before they got out of range.
He growled as they left. “Going t’ be back,” he commented. “Too clever. Don’t like it.”
Garkhen let his ward fade as he said, “Agreed, on both counts. Is it the influence of the Amulet, or are Javni’Tolkhrah always this clever?”
The Ranger didn’t take his gaze off them as they flew away. “Clever, yeah. Organized? Usually not. That’s th’ part that worries me most.”
Garkhen nodded soberly. “We shall have to be wary. I shall do my best to ward us against the approach of invisible creatures. It will be an alarm only, to conserve my strength.”
Almonihah’s response was a simple nod of agreement. Zakhin’Dakh, however, spoke up in Great Eagle. “Yeah, next time I’ll bite them and tear them up!”
Almonihah snorted in amusement. “I’m sure they won’t like that, Zakhin’Dakh.”
Nobody likes being torn up by Zakhin’Dakh. It hurts. A lot.