They camped in the blasted wastes around the Maelstrom. Nothing stirred here, save for the occasional errant winds. No creatures moved beyond themselves. Fatigue, and the oppression of the desolate landscape, meant the little group spoke little as they made a cold camp. None of them knew what lay ahead in the Maelstrom… and none of them really wanted to discuss what they might encounter.
The sun seemed hesitant to rise the next morning, shining weakly through a haze that was not quite thick enough to call cloudy. The two half-dragons and one griffon arose just as reluctantly, eating a cold breakfast to prepare themselves for the day. They spoke few words, avoiding talking about the challenges ahead for just a few more minutes.
At last they could put it off no longer. Almonihah looked out over the wastes to the Maelstrom with a soft growl.
“Don’t like th’ thought ‘f flying through that,” he commented. “Walking ‘d be worse.”
Garkhen nodded wordlessly. Zakhin’Dakh screeched agreement, then knelt down to let his friends on.
The flight to the Maelstrom was uneventful, but not exactly silent. At first just the moaning
of a fitful wind accompanied them, but as they drew nearer the shifting landscape ahead of them, a bizarre cacophony met their ears. This was matched by the sights drawing ever-closer to them. Iceburgs crashed against one another in a sea of sand. Distant volcanoes erupted, sending hunks of electrified mud into the air, before the cones collapsed and became forested hills. Thunderstorms lashed the ground with a hail of nails, which swiftly dissolved into rivulets of acid as the stormclouds turned into floating islands.
“It is… rather impressive,” Garkhen opined after a few moments.
Almonihah snorted. “Mean deadly. Fly int’ the wrong thing here ‘nd we’re dead.”
“I can do it!” Zakhin’Dakh screeched, proudly.
Almonihah patted his friend’s side. “Yeah. Wouldn’t want t’ trust th’ flight to anyone else.”
And with that, they plunged into the Maelstrom. It was madness. It was chaos. Zakhin’Dakh had aimed for a clear-seeming patch, but shortly after he flew in, downdrafts buffeted him as a sudden storm swelled above them. The great griffon stroked hard with his mighty wings, fighting to gain altitude, to get above the storm before it hailed burning coals or something similarly unpleasant.
Garkhen chanted a spell-prayer, and a canopy of holy energy shielded them as the storm opened up—dagger-like shards of jagged ice, to be exact. He gritted his teeth against the expenditure of energy, knowing that much more would be required of him in the hours to come. He made the ward as weak as he dared, just barely strong enough to shatter the ice shards.
Then they were through the storm and soaring over a peaceful field of purple grass with green flowers. Green flowers that started shooting seeds at high speed upwards. Fortunately Zakhin’Dakh was flying high enough that they lost all momentum before reaching him, dropping back to the ground just below him. Just to be safe the big griffon flew a bit higher.
I’m really struggling with this for some reason. I’ll try to get back on track.