It wasn’t long before the half-dragons could also see a number of dots in the air in every direction, which soon started resolving into a menagerie of Javni’Tolkhrah. Almonihah took one look at them and growled, “There’s too many ‘f them. We’ll have t’ avoid most of ’em.”
Zakhin’Dakh shrieked a wordless agreement and started flying harder, aiming mostly in the direction they wanted to head, but somewhat between where some of the dots were coming from. Garkhen started chanting, but Almonihah growled, “Save it.” When Garkhen started to protest, the Ranger shook his head once and said, “’f we need it, we’ll need it, but wait ‘nd see if we do.”
Zakhin’Dakh’s swift flight soon brought them close enough to make out the nearest of the Javni’Tolkhrah, revealing them to be as bizarre and dangerous as ever. They had changed their course of flight, starting to close the gap between them to block the group’s flight. Seeing this, the big griffon turned his flight upwards, using his strong wings to try to get a height advantage over the oncoming monstrosities. They moved to follow, and it became clear that, while they didn’t look to be nearly as good of fliers as Zakhin’Dakh, he wouldn’t be able to just fly over them.
But that wasn’t his plan, and just as one of the Javni-Tolkhrah spat some of its teeth at him, Zakhin’Dakh dove, fast enough that Almonihah had to grab onto the saddle hard to stay on the griffon’s back, ducking down just in time for the teeth to fly over him. The monsters dove to follow, and Zakhin’Dakh turned and twisted, changing directions suddenly and unpredictably in an attempt to out-fly the clumsy chaos beasts.
The monstrosities steadily fell behind, their asymmetrical forms poorly built for swift flight and abrupt maneuvers, but they were hardly rendered safe. One of them sprayed a stream of violet liquid from a vaguely scorpion-like tail. Almonihah, struggling to keep his head up and watch them, kneed Zakhin’Dakh hard on one side, and the big griffon twisted away, but a few droplets still struck his wingtip. He shrieked in alarm as his feathers started to smoke and blacken, but then Garkhen lifted his holy symbol and chanted, and the smoking stopped.
Then Zakhin’Dakh leveled off his flight and flapped hard, starting to leave the Javni’Tolkhrah behind. They struggled to catch up, spat and threw spines at him, but they fell short, and slowly the three flew clear of them. The big griffon didn’t slow his flight until a couple of hours later, when the monsters following them had fallen out of sight.
Amazingly enough, they faced little opposition after that, only an occasional lone Javni’Tolkhrah. It was as if the Madlands had exhausted itself in its assault, and now had to rest and regain their strength.
Either that, or it was lulling them into a trap.
But if it was a trap, it didn’t yet spring. Mountains rose before them, and when they crossed over, the three friends could see a vast waste… and at its center, pandemonium, a rapidly-changing landscape shot through with fire and lightning.
“Th’ Maelstrom,” Almonihah stated. “Just about there.”
I’m really struggling with this end sequence. I know how it ends, but I haven’t got all of the challenges along the way really clear in my mind. I’m still not really satisfied with this, but… here it is.