Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Book I

Chapter 22

Chapter 22: Blue

They left the port city as soon as they could. Zakhin’Dakh was quite hungry for fresh meat after their long ocean voyage, and Almonihah thought it sounded good as well. Even though Ferdunan was more heavily settled than much of the Northern Continent, it didn’t take them too long at griffon speeds to fly over the cultivated fields into areas of wild woods and plains only interspersed with tamed farmlands. They had a dinner of deer before the sun reached the horizon, and had time to talk before they settled down for the night.

Where we going? Zakhin’Dakh screeched inquisitively as Almonihah was cleaning some of his gear.

Almonihah shrugged. Wherever seems good. The truth was… he wasn’t quite sure why he’d even come. Part of it was just to spite Jivenesh, to pull some kind of victory out of the retreat from the Madlands by getting to the Southern Continent anyway. The truth was, though… it just felt right. Just like east felt like the way to go. Not having any better ideas, he figured he might as well follow the feeling.

Okay! Zakhin’Dakh replied, not at all bother by the vague response. As long as he was with his friend seeing new things, he was happy.

He had no shortage of new things to see as they flew east. There were lots more people here than most of the places they’d been, and the funny things they lived in looked a bit different than the ones up north.

When he asked Almonihah about this, he just shrugged and said, “People build different in different places.”

Okay… Zakhin’Dakh screeched, not really satisfied by the answer, but not sure if there should be anything more to it.

They took their time, but even so they could soon see mountains to their east. There mountains lots of places! The griffon observed.

There are mountains in lots of places, Almonihah corrected.

Zakhin’Dakh screeched in agreement. His friend just grinned a bit at his misunderstanding.

They were just reaching the foothills when Almonihah saw something down below them. A short, broad figure in silvery armor, but whose head resembled a dragon. He had a broad tail, with blue scales…

Zakhin’Dakh, land on him, Almonihah said, his voice as much of a growl as the Great Eagle tongue could manage.

Why? The big griffon asked, confused.

Just do it, Almonihah growled, irrational anger leading him to pull out his bow and nock an arrow.

Still uncertain, Zakhin’Dakh obeyed, diving towards the being below. He looked up just before the big griffon landed, pinning him under one talon.

Almonihah’s nocked arrow was aimed at the creature’s snout right after they landed. A growl still in his voice, he said, “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t kill you.”

*****

This is the end of Book I. I get to leave this little cliffhanger here for months and months… >:D

In seriousness, I’m looking forward to Garkhen’s book next. I’ll hopefully be able to apply some of the things I’ve learned from Book I and make Book II better than it was. It has more of a definite plot, after the first few chapters, so that should help. There will be fairly significant stylistic changes, too.

Chapter 21-3

In the end, it took almost a week for Almonihah to finish his purchases, collect his new arrows, and find a ship willing to take a giant griffon. He’d managed to spend almost all of the treasure he’d taken from the dragon’s lair, though he still had enough that he wasn’t worried. Why he felt the need to go south… perhaps it was just to do it, after his failure to cross through the Madlands. Perhaps not. Sometimes he felt like there was something more driving him, though what it was he couldn’t say.

After a couple days of warily watching the pair from a distance, one of the Midport Griffon-Rider captains approached Almonihah. They had, apparently, gathered that something was different about Zakhin’Dakh beyond his size, and he invited the pair to spend a bit of time with them. Almonihah rather reluctantly agreed, but Zakhin’Dakh was much more enthusiastic. Hanging out at the edges of town while his friend did things with shiny round things was rather boring.

The griffon-riders lead them up to their eyrie, in one of the mountains to the north of Midport. There they spoke with Almonihah and, to their surprise, Zakhin’Dakh (indirectly, until one of their number who actually knew Great Eagle was called in). At their request and with Zakhin’Dakh’s energetic approval, the big griffon remained behind while Almonihah continued his business. He returned frequently, however, both out of concern for his rather naïve friend and out of his own curiosity about these griffon-riders.

One other thing he noted while in the city was a man who would sometimes shout from street-corners about how the gods were deceiving the world, that none were worthy of worship, or some such nonsense. Almonihah paid him little heed, but he seemed to gather an audience some evenings. Once Almonihah thought he saw something around his neck, mostly hidden under the robe he wore. He only got a glance of an odd chain around his neck, but for some reason the sight of it chilled the Ranger. Even days later, he found himself tensing up whenever he saw the man, though he never again caught sight of whatever he wore around his neck.

Eventually the day of departure came. Zakhin’Dakh wasn’t hard to get on the ship, though it was, as Almonihah had guessed, difficult to keep him from causing trouble. Food would still be an issue, as well—they’d packed quite a bit, but he and the griffon would have to supplement it extensively when they could. The only benefit Almonihah could convince the captain of (besides the payment) was that any pirate foolish enough to attack them would find himself quite outmatched, so they were paying for their own supplies separately.

The journey was… surprisingly uneventful. Pleasantly so, even. Zakhin’Dakh did complain a bit about the food, when they couldn’t manage to get something fresh from an island or even a couple times by catching something from the ocean, but they both managed to stay fed. Friction with the captain and crew was… irritating, but not serious. Zakhin’Dakh eventually found a couple ways to help that they actually appreciated.

And so they reached port in Ferdunan quietly, slightly ahead of schedule. Convincing the guards at the port that neither of them meant any harm was a bit more difficult, but eventually, they were allowed to disembark and start making their way inland.

It wasn’t how Almonihah had originally planned to go south, but now… here he was, in spite of Jivenesh.

*****

This is actually the end of chapter 21. It’s a rather short chapter. Chapter 22 will be fairly short as well, and then… we finally get to Garkhen’s story!

Speaking of Garkhen, he randomly decided to talk to me from over a thousand years in the future from present-day Draezoln. You can read it here, if you want the spoilers: http://figmentregistry.wikidot.com/stories:garkhen-s-last-words

Chapter 21-2

This was one of the few cities where a giant griffon flying overhead with a half-dragon on his back only drew a few curious glances. Finding a place for them to land was a bit trickier, but eventually they found a square that was empty enough for Zakhin’Dakh to land in. Once they were settled, the griffon-rider leader gave them one final warning about making trouble and left them to their business.

Almonihah found it difficult to keep his big friend going forward. There were so many interesting things for him to look at everywhere that he kept stopping to watch them. That, combined with the irritation many people expressed at having a giant griffon blocking half of the street, was enough to put the half-dragon in a rather sour mood.

Eventually, they reached the first shop Almonihah wanted to visit. It was still here from when he and Zrathanzon had visited it many years ago, but it was run by elves, so that wasn’t much of a surprise. Zrathanzon had called them the ‘finest fletchers in the Northern Continent’, which was enough for Almonihah. He vaguely recalled them being rather pricey, too, but he still had a lot of dragon treasure with him, and he wanted the best for what he wanted done.

It was when Zakhin’Dakh stuck his beak in the shop after he walked in that Almonihah realized he’d probably need to make different arrangements for his friend for the day. He was probably going to be spending quite a while indoors, and the big griffon simply wouldn’t fit in most places. That, combined with his curiosity and how easily he got bored, seemed like a recipe for certain disaster. He wished he’d thought of this earlier—he might have been able to talk the griffon-riding guards into doing something. As it was…

Finding something safe for Zakhin’Dakh to do took far longer than Almonihah would have liked. He’d have to keep this in mind for the future. Eventually, though, he was able to return to what he was doing with only some worry of what his big friend was up to. In addition to ordering some special arrows, he purchased some more potions and even an little enchanted bag, that was much larger on the inside than on the out. Dragon treasure could buy quite a bit.

The trickiest part, however, would be finding passage to the Southern Continent for them. While ships made the perilous passage from Midport to Ferdunan regularly, they didn’t often carry giant griffons. Just figuring out how to keep Zakhin’Dakh fed on the way was going to be difficult, and convincing a captain that he wouldn’t eat the crew (not to mention convincing the crew of that) would likely be even harder. Not to mention Almonihah would have to watch his friend carefully to make sure his curiosity didn’t interfere with the smooth running of the ship.

For the time being, Almonihah just looked around the docks, refreshing his memory of what Zrathanzon had said about them, and seeing what had changed. His arrows would take some time to make, especially the enchanted ones, so he had time to look around before trying anything. He had a few gems in hidden on his person that could probably convince the right captain to go along with him, but he wanted to make sure said captain wouldn’t try to rob him on the way. There wasn’t any hurry, so he’d rather take the time to do things right.

****

Yeah, and I haven’t been in a hurry to do this, either. I was hoping to be done with this book by the end of the month… maybe by the end of the year I’ll be done.

Chapter 21-1

Chapter 21: Sea

 

Almonihah and Zakhin’Dakh did find a valley through the rift they had seen. They found another beyond it, and in this way they meandered their way west, sometimes through valleys and canyons, other times just paralleling the Dragon’s Teeth range on one side or the other. Gradually they made their way southwest, until they reached the Stormpeaks. These proved more of an obstacle, both because of their greater height and because of the frequent storms for which they were named. The pair were determined, however, and slowly, carefully made their way, often having to turn back and try another way.

Eventually, though, they found what Almonihah was looking for—a large stream running through a narrow valley. If he was right, this was part of the Stormwash, the river that flowed through Midport. That was where he wanted to go.

Before long, the stream and valley widened, and in the distance the keen-eyed pair could see hints of smoke. Then Zakhin’Dakh screeched in surprise.

Griffons! He said.

Zakhin’Dakh had the advantage of Almonihah in distance vision, as he could only make out small dots approaching them. Before long, though, he could make out enough of their silhouettes to see that they were, indeed, griffons. And if he remembered correctly, that meant griffon-riders.

Slow down and fly lower, Almonihah murmured to his friend. We don’t want to seem any more dangerous than we have to.

Okay, Zakhin’Dakh screeched in acknowledgment.

The griffon-riders—both of them could see the riders now—approached quickly. Midport’s griffon-riders were its main military force, other than its navy. Almonihah had seen them before the couple of times he and Zrathanzon had visited the city, but he hadn’t been riding a giant griffon then. While they were generally more open-minded than the guards of a lot of the smaller settlements he’d visited, he wasn’t sure how they’d react to Zakhin’Dakh and him together.

They slowed as they neared the pair, as well. There were five of them—a sizable patrol. One of them flew closer than the others and spoke.

“What is your business here?”

“Spending gold. Maybe finding a ship,” Almonihah yelled back.

After a moment of silence, the griffon-rider replied, “We’ll escort you into town.”

They flew into formation around Almonihah and Zakhin’Dakh—two on each side, and the leader in front. They flew slowly in silence, which was fine with Almonihah. Zakhin’Dakh, after his cheerful greeting screech went unanswered by the other griffons, was quiet as well, though he looked around curiously.

It wasn’t long before they could see signs of cultivation below them. While Midport depended on imports to support itself, there were fairly extensive farms up here in the valley of the Stormwash. Getting the food down to Midport itself was a fairly difficult business, but not really any more difficult than bringing it in by ship, and it gave the city some semblance of independence.

The main method for getting the supplies up and down soon came into view. The Great Crane, a marvel of modern engineering, sat at falls of the Stormwash, lowering food and other goods from the valleys above down to the city, and bringing up supplies from the city. Particularly brave souls (or those who did not wish to climb the Great Stair) would even get a lift for themselves.

The group of griffon-riders flying into the city needed to use neither. As they neared the falls, the leader of the riders asked Almonihah, “Going to the Merchants’ Quarter first?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

The griffon-rider nodded, but said nothing more. They flew out over the falls, and got a view of Midport itself. Midport was generally cited as the most populous city on all of Draezoln, despite being crammed into the small delta of the Stormwash, surrounded by mountains on two sides and the ocean on the other two.

Zakhin’Dakh found the sight quite impressive, and screeched long and low in appreciation.

******

So, back to Elque narrating. Remember that this picks up right after chapter 20, not chapter 20.5, since Almonihah didn’t tell Elque about the Phoenix.

Also, there’s apparently something about riding a griffon that makes you not talk much. Maybe it’s the habit of not trying to yell into the wind or something.

Chapter 20.5-5

I stuck arrows in flying Javni’Tolkhrah until I started to worry I’d run out. Zakhin’Dakh was busy with more of them on the ground (he says some of them were bigger, but none as big as him). Once I’d cleared the sky, I could finally look down again. Zakhin’Dakh was growling at a big tiger-bear thing with a couple scorpion tails. He’d backed up the slope, and looked rather beat up. I growled myself and sent an arrow into the thing’s head. It wasn’t expecting that.

I only had a couple arrows left, so I drew my swords and went to stand with Zakhin’Dakh. He glanced back at me and gave me a tired screech. I nodded back to him, then turned to face whatever came next.

For a little while, everything was quiet, but I could just barely pick something up. Don’t know if they were nervous after how many of them we’d killed or what. Maybe they just thought a big wave would be more effective, because that’s what happened next—big wave of Javni’Tolkhrah charged up-slope toward us.

We charged back.

More like Zakhin’Dakh took off and dived at the biggest one. He hit it hard, but it was still struggling when I started fighting. The first thing that jumped at me… I think it used to be a rabbit. It died with Zithrandrak through its head. The next few were larger and more dangerous. I had to use everything I knew to stay alive, and even so took some hits. Good thing my scales are harder than the boiled leather I was wearing. Still got scratched up pretty badly, though.

I managed to take down several of the Javni’Tolkhrah I was fighting, and I could see every now and then that Zakhin’Dakh was flying around slashing and biting more of them, but it seemed like some of them must be getting to where the Phoenix’s ashes were.

Then… there was a flash. And then a dull roar, like a wizard had thrown a fireball. The surviving Javni’Tolkhrah turned as one and started to run, but a giant flaming bird flew past and caught up to them. Looked like we’d held out long enough. Zakhin’Dakh landed next to me and we watched him together.

It wasn’t long before he flew back over to us. Well done, brave ones, he said. I am reborn, and these creatures of Chaos have seen my renewed strength. Let any that survive take word of it to the others—I fight them again!

I snorted. “Not that most of them can talk to each other.”

He looked at me. Do not dismiss their intelligence so casually. Not all touched by the Mad God lose their thinking in their insanity. Indeed, some even become more cunning.

I didn’t have anything to say to that.

The Phoenix kept speaking. Now it is time for you to depart. But first, it is right that I should reward you for your aid.

He took off again, then flew over us. He flapped once right above us, and a few feathers started floating down from him.

Catch them. And good hunting, young friends. Naishia watch over you. And with that, he was gone.

I caught about half a dozen of the feathers, and Zakhin’Dakh carefully caught one with his beak. The others burst into flames and burned up when they touched the ground. I carefully stored the ones I’d caught, then did the same for Zakhin’Dakh’s, keeping his separate.

That was fun! Zakhin’Dakh screeched.

I snorted. Almost dying to a bunch of Javni’Tolkhrah wasn’t my idea of fun, but we’d lived, and done something that needed doing.

Let’s go, I said back.

 

****

Well, that’s the end of AZ narrating. It was kind of fun, but I think I’ll be glad to get back to Elque. He’s a bit easier of a narrator to write.

Chapter 20.5-4

A wave of Javni’Tolkhrah charged up the slope toward us. There were a lot of different kinds, like there always are when you’re dealing with them—a three-headed wolf, something that looked like a cross between a tiger and a crab, things like that. My first arrow hit one in the eye, killing it, while Zakhin’Dakh dived on the wolf creature with a war shriek. Whirling, he slashed at another creature that was trying to run past him, while another of my arrows arrow killed a tiger-like creature that had been crouching to spring at him.

I dodged to one side, reacting before I knew what I was doing. You do that sometimes if you’ve had as many things try to kill you as I have. A lightning bolt blasted past me. The lightning wouldn’t have hurt me, but it’s not like I knew what was coming when I dodged, then fired back. I got just enough of a glimpse of something humanoid to stick an arrow in it. I didn’t think I got a solid hit , but but another Javni’Tolkhrah was charging me, so I didn’t exactly have time to check.

Zakhin’Dakh had his talons full, too. He was taking two or three of the things at a time, slashing their faces, biting them with his beak, even picking up and throwing some of the smaller ones. I’d shoot an arrow at one of them when I had the time, but I was too busy with my side usually. He was getting bitten and scratched, and though he hadn’t got hit too bad yet, I knew it was just a matter of time.

When I had a second to shoot a couple of the monsters around him, I yelled, Take off! Fight from the air!

He screeched in understanding and took off with a leap, slashing another Javni’Tolkhrah as he passed over. I had to turn back to my side, since three different messed-up kinds of cat-things were charging at me. The first one got an arrow in the head, but I had to drop Naishia’s Messenger and draw Zithrandrak and Eldereth for the other two. They crouched, ready, waiting for the pounce. Just like I thought, they jumped. I stepped aside, stabbing one with Zithrandrak. I hit it too hard, though, and had to let go of Zithrandrak to keep from getting pulled off-balance as the thing died.

The other one slashed at me with its claws, but I managed to get Eldereth in the way, shocking it a bit. I backstepped, slashing at it, but only managed to scratch it. It tried to charge me, and this time I got a good hit, taking a couple of its toes off, then finishing it off as it stumbled. I whirled to meet whatever was coming next, and was a bit surprised to see nothing else coming up the slope at us. Zakhin’Dakh was just throwing this fishy-dog-thing down a particularly steep spot as I turned.

I saw movement in the trees below, and rolled aside just as a ball of fire exploded where I had been. It singed me a bit, and Zakhin’Dakh’s shriek didn’t sound good. I ran back over to Naishia’s Messenger, glad to see it was in good shape (good thing it’s enchanted so well), picking it up and nocking an arrow. I saw another movement and fired an arrow. Something fell with a thud, so I figured this time I’d hit something important. I saw Zakhin’Dakh land and charge into the woods, and then heard a strangled yelp. Maybe there’d been two mages?

There was another explosion, a shriek, and then the sound of Zakhin’Dakh tearing into something. Three mages. Then I saw some Javni’Tolkhrah bird-things coming, and had to quit paying attention to what Zakhin’Dakh was doing. (He says he found another mage-guy and a few smaller Javni’Tolkhrah.)

 

****
Almonihah’s not mentioning it here, but it’s bad that Javni’Tolkhrah are working with mages.

In other news, it’s kind of hard to write as AZ for a fight scene. He’s not big on describing battles usually.

Chapter 20.5-3

Zakhin’Dakh screeched, Okay! I didn’t say anything. Not until he explained more.

Don’t know if he knew somehow that I was waiting for more explanation or if he was just going to explain more anyway, but he continued, I am ancient beyond your knowledge, but every so often I must be reborn. It is in these moments that I am vulnerable, and the minions of Jivenesh seek this time to attack me. Even now I can sense them here… He paused. He gazed directly at me. As I can sense that you have not been untouched by the Mad One.

I froze at that. How… and if…

Do not fear, he continued, That you are here shows that you are stronger than the Chaos which would take you.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, only half-sarcastically. Somehow the Phoenix trusted me in spite of what had happened to me made me feel a bit better.

But I fear we have little time for talk. I must give myself to the flame now, and I will need you to defend me until I am fully reborn. Assuming you are willing, of course. I could tell from the tone that he knew we’d accept.

Zakhin’Dakh reared a shrieked a challenge, almost throwing me off doing it. (He apologized later) I could feel the Phoenix’s amusement, but he just said, You will not have long to wait to show your ferocity, my young friend. Look.

I looked, too. I don’t have eagle eyes, but dragon eyes are at least as good. Neither of us could make out anything clearly, but we could make out a lot of movement in the valley below. Some of it seemed rather large.

I would fight at your sides, brave young ones, but I must be reborn. He hopped up into the nest he’d build. The blessings of Naishia be upon you in your battle, he said, and burst into flames.

Zakhin’Dakh shrieked in disbelief. I stayed quiet, thinking about some of the stories I’d heard… then I heard the first growls. I dismounted, pulling out my bow, as Zakhin’Dakh turned to face downhill with a deep growl.

*****
Ooooooo, cliffhanger!

Okay, not really.

Chapter 20.5-2

Zakhin’Dakh’s surprised screech told me he’d heard it, too. It was the last thing I needed to figure it out, though. This was the Phoenix.

Now, you probably don’t know, but the Phoenix is a legend among Rangers. During my time with the Order, I’d heard stories of Rangers saved from certain death by a giant bird of fire. Some of them had just heard it from others, but a few had seen him themselves. And here he was waiting for us.

You are surprised, young one? I knew he was directing the question at Zakhin’Dakh somehow.

He nodded in response, then screeched, How talk like that?

He was getting better at Great Eagle, but still had a way to go.

I could feel the Phoenix laughing as he answered. I am afraid it is not something I can teach you, young one. It is

[Translator’s Note: A large splotch of ink covered most of the rest of this page.]

Zakhin’Dakh just knocked my inkwell over. Usually he’s better about this, but he got excited when I told him what I was writing about.

And he says hello. He’s happy I wrote that for him. He also says he liked talking with the Phoenix. And I’m not writing anything more for him right now, though I might later if he’ll let me get on with it.

So, the Phoenix said, It is a gift I am given to speak like this, as throats and beaks like ours are not suited to the tongues of men.

Zakhin’Dakh screeched sadly. I patted his head. “You can talk with me,” I said.

His screech in response was happier.

We landed near the Phoenix. He was huge—even bigger than Zakhin’Dakh. He says that made him kind of jealous. Up close, his feathers looked even more like a fire, and I noticed he’d built a large nest. He’d built it on a wide ledge a ways up from the valley.

“Why were you waiting for us?” I asked, once Zakhin’Dakh was settled.

The Phoenix seemed to find something about that a bit funny, too. It is nearly time for my rebirth, and I need brave hearts to aid me.

*******

Poor Almonihah. He can’t appreciate the humor of things that happen to him. Actually, Zakhin’Dakh can get him to grin sometimes in spite of himself.

Chapter 20.5-1

Chapter 20 ½: Phoenix

 

Translator’s Note: I found this chapter scrawled on several sheets of parchment stuck in the copy of the book I acquired at this point, with this small note written on the back of the last page: “Since this isn’t staying on Draezoln, I can actually tell you about this.” While translating the Draconic and Great Eagle contained therein was even more difficult than the Common Tongue contained in the book itself, I was curious to discover what it contained. This is what I found.

 

So. Haven’t written a lot like this. But someone should know about this, and since whoever’s getting this isn’t Draezolnian, I can tell you.

As the Mage-Archivist was saying, Zakhin’Dakh and I were flying around the Northern Dragon’s Teeth, thinking we were just enjoying ourselves on our way to the west. Then we found that odd pass. Could swear I’d passed there before and not seen it, which made me curious. Besides, it… felt right. Can’t explain how or why. But it did.

The little canyon was almost too narrow for Zakhin’Dakh in spots. It didn’t seem like a natural canyon—the walls were too sheer, it was too straight. Seemed more like something magic had made it.

Eventually we came out into a small valley. Seemed like a pretty nice place, the kind of thing you might want to keep hidden for yourself.

Like where met! Zakhin’Dakh screeched happily.

A bit, I agreed. It did remind me of that valley I’d found him in, though smaller and better hidden.

It didn’t have giant deer in it either, to my big friend’s disappointment. We explored around for a bit, didn’t find much interesting. Then Zakhin’Dakh saw a funny red dot on a mountainside down on the other end of the valley. We didn’t have anything else to do, so we flew over to take a look. As we flew, I had a feeling like something was watching. Looked down, thought I might have seen something, but just figured it was a manticore or something else smart enough not to bother us.

The red thing on the mountain was much more interesting. As we got closer, we could both tell it was something bird-like. At first I thought it might be a Great Eagle, or maybe just a dire eagle, but I’d never heard of a red one. The closer we got, the more we both realized it was big—bigger than Zakhin’Dakh, even. He screeched a bit unhappily at that part. The other thing was, it wasn’t just red—it was more… flame-colored. Oranges and yellows mixed in with the red.

Then we heard a voice. Not out loud, but in our heads. It was weird… it felt like a warm campfire on a cold night, but with words. Can’t really explain it.

I do know it said this, though. There you are. I have been waiting.

 

********

 

You have no idea how hard it is to translate Great Eagle! Much harder than the Common Tongue. Even harder than Draconic. I didn’t even know it had a written form… it was a huge headache finding some reference materials for it…

Anyway, this is chapter 20 1/2. I’m rather excited to be able to share this bit–I wasn’t sure until recently if Almonihah was going to let me say anything about this episode, and now we get to hear about it from his own writing!

Chapter 20-5

A thunderstorm rolled across the plains as they traveled. Almonihah leaned into it, a hint of a grin playing on his face as he reveled in the wild power of the wind, the rain, and the thunder. He glanced back at Zakhin’Dakh. The big griffon was clearly not enjoying the storm as much. Water dripped off of his feathers and fur, and his head and wings drooped as he slogged through the mud.

Zakhin’Dakh noticed his friend looking back. Not good flying, he screeched, sadly.

Almonihah laughed. Not really good weather for flying, he agreed.

He slowed his pace a bit to allow the griffon to catch back up to him, then kept walking. After a moment, Zakhin’Dakh asked, Why you like?

Almonihah had to think a moment before answering. The wind across my scales… the thunder… maybe it’s just in my blood. I can breathe lightning, so I like thunderstorms. He shrugged. I can’t really say for sure. It’s like… why do you like flying?

It’s fun! Zakhin’Dakh answered, immediately.

The half-dragon grinned a bit. And why is it fun?

Zakhin’Dakh got a funny look on his face, like he’d been about to say something and then realized he didn’t know what it was. After a few moments he closed his beak, and then softly screeched a wordless sound that, from a human, probably would have been “Oh.”

Almonihah just grinned a bit more.

For Zakhin’Dakh’s sake, Almonihah struck out more to the south, heading for the mountains, where there might be more shelter if another storm struck. As they got close, Zakhin’Dakh screeched softly.

That where meet?

Almonihah nodded. Where we met isn’t too far from here.

The big griffon thought for a big, then added, enthusiastically, Can fly over!

Almonihah laughed. Let’s see.

They searched around for a while for a good place to make the attempt, but the high, snowy passes didn’t look particularly inviting to either of them. Then one day, Almonihah noticed a small rift in a mountainside. He had a funny feeling, like he should have seen it before. Shaking it off, he directed Zakhin’Dakh toward it.

******

Another shortish post, but this is the end of chapter 20. Next is a special chapter that I wasn’t sure if I was going to write! So be excited!