Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Book II

Chapter 16

Chapter 16: Unexpected Meetings

“Sometimes the greatest gifts of life are completely unexpected. At times, they may even seem trials when we first stumble across them. But I have found that, in time, such experiences often teach the greatest lessons. And it was from such an experience that I gained two of my greatest friends… though of course, it did not seem so at first.”

Garkhen returned to more settled lands, marveling at the gift he had been given. He had to use Silverflame twice while he traveled back, as more Javni’Tolkhrah attacked him as he walked the wilds back to the small villages in the foothills. The mace was truly remarkable—its silver flames burned the twisted creatures with holy wrath, inflicting terrible wounds even when his physical strikes caused little harm. 


He found things were much the same as he had left them when he reached the first village. The people were settling back down after the end of the civil war and all that had come with it. No one had reported trouble with Infernals or undead in the past weeks, and it seemed peace had finally returned to Ferdunan.


And so, without direction or purpose, Garkhen went to wandering, traveling wherever he felt he should. Sometimes when he arrived he soon found there was need for his strengths, but often not. He would have felt discouraged or impatient, but… one of the lessons he had learned was to not give place to such feelings. And so he wandered, and served where he could, and sought for what his purpose was to be.


It was not an easy life. He would often go long in between sources of money, and so had to spend frugally to be able to afford supplies for himself. Sometimes grateful villagers would give him meals or a place to sleep, and occasionally he would find hoarded treasures after slaying some beast that troubled them, but most of the time he had to stretch his resources to feed himself.


In time he developed a reputation, and Garkhen slowly found himself more welcome across the country. People would greet the ‘armored dragon-man’ with joy rather than fear when he came, and Garkhen was glad enough to be recognized. But as the years passed, he struggled more and more to find purpose and meaning in his life, for it seemed he was less and less needed.


The only constant source of danger were the Javni’Tolkhrah that regularly attacked him while he was in the wilds. The Warder learned that they seemed to harm few others, and indeed were rarely seen by any but himself. He felt there must be some meaning behind it… but could never seem to think of what it might be.


And then one day, as he was walking alone to a village he had not visited for the past two years, he heard something above him—the sound of wind ruffling great feathers. Garkhen started to turn, but had only a brief moment to see huge wings and flashing talons before he was knocked to the ground, pinned beneath a great weight.


When he could focus his vision, Garkhen found an arrowhead held close to his snout. Following the arrow back, he saw a fine bow pulled taught, held by… another half-dragon. This one was bronze-scaled and human-proportioned, and he was snarling at Garkhen.


“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t kill you.”




I think this chapter speaks for itself. 🙂

Chapter 15-4

He pondered what the next trial might be as he walked. Anger, fear… pain, perhaps? Doubt? He shrugged to himself. He would simply have to see.


Garkhen was rather surprised when he walked into a comfortably appointed room. Five chairs were arranged in a small circle. Four were occupied, and it did not take him long to see that each occupant was a representative of one of the goodly faiths—Mashano, Naishia, Kazoran, and Sephania. The human priest of Mashano waved Garkhen to the empty seat.


“Good, you’re here! We’ve been waiting for you!”


Warily, Garkhen approached. What was the test here? “You have been waiting for me?”


“Indeed,” the dwarven priest of Kazoran rumbled. “Now we’re all here, so we can begin.”


“Shall we start with unity, then?” The elven priest of Sephania asked. “We followers of Sephania are far more united than the humans with their god. They cannot even agree on what he wants.”


“And you can’t agree on who your god is!” The human retorted. “Male, female, both, neither…”


“Hah! No match for the dwarves there,” the dwarven priest interjected. “We know perfectly well what Kazoran’s like. I don’t know why this fellow thinks Bahamut is so much better,” he waved at Garkhen.


Was this testing his anger again? Garkhen firmly controlled his temper and replied, “While there is certainly virtue in the teachings of Kazoran, I have found that Bahamut’s teachings touch me more deeply.”


“So it’s up to you to choose, then?” The dwarf replied, peering closely at Garkhen.


The young half-dragon was taken aback by the question, but then the priest of Naishia spoke, “But if it were not for Naishia, we would not have a place to have this discussion.”


“And if it were not for Mashano we would not have a common language in which to speak it!”


Perhaps he was to defend his faith? “Indeed, but were it not for Bahamut, Tiamat would long since have overrun all.”


The conversation continued in this vein for a time, each priest claiming the best for his or her own god.

Garkhen grew increasingly uncomfortable and defensive, as the others seemed to focus more and more on him. Still, he was proud at how well he was debating. Yet the discussion showed no sign of slowing.


Finally, Garkhen exclaimed, “Must we argue like this? Are not we all servants of goodly gods?”


The priest of Mashano smirked at him. “Perhaps, but don’t you have to prove yours is the best?”


Suddenly it struck him. “Darkhen Ubrix…” Garkhen breathed, collapsing back in his seat.


The other priests all nodded, as if they understood, but Garkhen felt he should translate nonetheless. 


“Dragon-pride. That is the key here, is it not?”


The others all sat silently, waiting. Swallowing, Garkhen said, “No. No, I do not. While I stand firm for what I believe… I must also be humble. I should see the good in others without feeling it threatens me. I… must not succumb to the curse of pride.”


The others all nodded again, and then, one by one, they disappeared. Garkhen stood, and the chairs also vanished, leaving the way onwards clear once again. Yet he hesitated a moment. 


“Dragon-pride,” he murmured again. “The great curse of dragonkind. A heritage of my father that I must ever be wary of.”


After a few minutes of quiet reflection, he felt ready to continue.


Other tests followed, but none seemed to strike so deeply. Still Garkhen felt bone-weary when finally the passageway led to a small, well-lit chamber. Its only contents were an altar, on which lay an ornate silver mace. Gazing on it, the Warder knew all the tests were to prove the worth of one who would wield this weapon.


Hesitantly, he reached out and picked it up. It was fairly heavy, as a good mace should be, but well-balanced. Inspecting it, he saw its name etched into its haft.




As he spoke the name, silver-colored flames burst from the head of the mace, wrapping it in fiery radiance. Garkhen gasped. Flaming weapons were far from rare, but the silver color seemed to suggest it was more than ordinary magical flame. 


After a few moments, the flame went out. Garkhen took his old mace and, after a moment’s thought, tied it to his pack, then slipped Silverflame through the belt loop where it had been. It felt… right, there.

The Warder breathed a quiet prayer of thanks to Bahamut, then asked, “But what plans do you have for me that require such a weapon?”


No answer came, though for a moment Garkhen had the nagging feeling he had forgotten something. It was gone before he could properly grasp the thought, however. After a minute of quiet reflection, he turned to leave… and was surprised to see the canyon right in front of him. Turning back, he could see only a shallow, empty cave, with no sign of the many passages he had walked, much less the tests and the altar.


Shaking his head a bit, Garkhen turned again and walked out into the canyon. He did not quite know what he needed to do next, but… he would see what good he could do, and surely in so seeking Bahamut would lead him.




So now Garkhen has his weapon. This is the end of this chapter, which means… it’s almost time to revisit a scene from many moons ago from a different perspective!

Chapter 15-3

The cave gave no answer to his mental question, but soon a new scene opened on him. Or… perhaps opened was not the right word. It more slowly came into focus, as the impenetrable darkness around him took shape. Slowly Garkhen realized he was surrounded by huge, shadowy figures, and they were slowly closing in upon him.


How had they surrounded him? What even were they? Even his draconic vision could not penetrate the blackness around them. They were drawing closer, towering over him.


He turned about, subconsciously taking a step back, only to realize that brought him closer to others behind him. Nervously he whirled, then whirled again. Fear crept up his spine as he realized there was no way out.


Garkhen exhaled a bolt of lightning at the nearest one, but it was simply swallowed by the darkness. Nervously, he gripped his mace, wondering if these terrors would be better warded off with holy magic…


Wait… fear. Sudden understanding firmed his resolve. He closed his eyes.


“I do not fear you,” he stated, clamping down on the terror that tried to make him a liar. “I am the master of my own fear. I will not let it control me.”


When he opened his eyes, the huge shadows still ringed him, but that was all the proof he needed. Confidently Garkhen strode forward, right into one of the looming masses of darkness. It dissipated at his touch, and soon the room was again clear, with nothing but another passageway leading onward.




Apologies for the short post. It’s hard coming up with these.

Chapter 15-2

After a moment, the darkness cleared around him. Which was not to say there was any light, but at last his draconic vision could see. He was in a large, rough chamber, with an exit on the other side.


And he was not alone. Some sort of demonic being stood before him, looking him up and down.


“HAH! This is all that comes to face me?” It scoffed at him. “Come, little dwarf dragon. Come and die!”


The Infernal was not much larger than he was. “We shall see,” Garkhen growled, readying himself and charging at it. 


They met with a crash, claws scraping against steel, mace swinging through the air as it sidestepped. 


“Pathetic! And you call yourself a Warder of Bahamut?” The Infernal crowed. “A hatchling dragon would be a greater defender of the weak than you!”


Garkhen did not bother wasting breath on an answer, instead redoubling his attack. But the demon matched him blow for blow. Even when his strikes connected, they seemed to do nothing to it. The whole time, it continued to taunt him, mocking his combat prowess, his ideals, his heritage… Garkhen could feel his anger rising.


He wasn’t quite sure how long he fought, but as he tired, he noticed the demon was larger, its strikes harder. Through his wrath, he felt there was a hint there. Something…


There are no demons here, save those you bring in with you.


Suddenly Garkhen stopped, doing nothing more than defending himself, and striving for calmness. He steadied his breathing, and ignored the creature’s continued insults. Soon enough, he could see he was right—it was dwindling before his eyes, its taunts becoming increasingly frantic.


Finally it hardly reached his ankles. Garkhen gazed down upon it. 


“You’ll never defeat me!” It shrieked at him.


“Perhaps not,” Garkhen admitted, “But I shall master you.”


He walked toward the exit at the other side of the room, ignoring the shrieks and scratches of the little demon. As soon as he passed into the corridor beyond, the demon was gone.


So am I being tested, then? What am I being tested for? 




Perhaps I should have built the tension there for longer. Oh, well. 

Chapter 15-1

Chapter 15: Path of Trial

“We are all tried in different ways in our lives. For some, it is a life of poverty and hardship that tests them, that they may show who they are when there is nothing to hide behind. For others, it is sudden illness or other catastrophes. For still others… it is not hardship, but prosperity.”


“Wealth and power can be, in their fashion, just as much of a test as hardship. For in having power, beings often reveal who they truly are. I fear that this test is perhaps the most often failed by those who face it.”


The path was just as difficult as he had dreamed it would be. It meandered its way through the hills and into the mountains themselves, becoming steeper and harder as it went. At times it was hardly a path at all, just a slightly more worn area on a rocky outcropping. A few times Garkhen had to climb, digging his claws into crevices in the stone and hauling himself upward. 


Finally, after nearly two weeks of travel, he reached the canyon he had seen in his dream. It was late, and he was fatigued. Not knowing what might lie ahead, he decided to camp before continuing.


He slept fitfully that night, not quite dreaming yet feeling an urgency, as if something called him onward. But at the same time he felt almost as if something was seeking to hold him back. Whenever he tried to catch onto that thought, however, it slipped away.


Finally morning came. Garkhen arose, not feeling much more rested than when he had arrived. After preparing as best he could, he walked towards the back of the canyon, searching for the cave he had seen in his dream.


It did not take long to find. It yawned, impenetrably black even to his draconic eyes, at the back end of the canyon. Cautiously he approached it, looking around. His gaze fell on an inscription carved into the stone above. 


“There are no demons here, save those you bring in with you,” Garkhen read aloud. He considered the statement for a moment, then steeled himself. Whatever lay ahead, he had to face it.

He stepped into the cave. 




Hmmmmm, what might be going on here, eh? I suppose you’ll have to wait to find out! Bwahahahahahahaha! 

Chapter 14-7

That was not their last Madness-Touched. Over the next week they were attacked twice more, though these did not seem as supernaturally hardy as the first. After the third, Tirel spat in disgust.


“What is going on?” He asked of the sky. “Those creatures have hardly been seen this far south, and now three in a week…”


Garkhen shrugged slightly. “I do not know…” Something seemed to nag at him for a moment… something important he had found…


He frowned and shook his head. He glanced over and noticed the Wyre doing so, as well.


“What were we talking about?” Tirel asked, confused. 


“Ah…” It took Garkhen a moment to remember. “The Madness-Touched. Why we have fought so many.”


“Maybe with all the mess down here, the Rangers have had more trouble keeping them bottled up?” Tirel offered.


“Perhaps.” The Warder seemed unconvinced. “But I do not think it is anything we can assist with now.”



Over the next several weeks, the reports of Infernals and undead grew fewer, until they finally ran out entirely. After a few days of wandering about, Tirel sighed.


“Well, my friend… I think it’s time I went back to the Pack. After everything that’s gone on, we’ll probably be meeting and talking for a while. And they’ll want to hear about all these Madness-Touched.”


Garkhen nodded. They had been attacked almost a dozen more times, and a couple had been fairly close calls. The attacks had been dying off over the last week, however. 


“It has been good to travel with you, Tirel,” Garkhen said. “I wish you, and the Pack, well.”


Tirel smiled and set a hand on the half-dragon’s shoulder. “And I you, Garkhen,” he murmured. More loudly he asked, “So what are you going to do?”

Garkhen stared off into the distance for a time. “I am not certain quite yet…” he admitted. “I feel… there is something I must do, but I know not what. I suppose I shall be searching for this thing.”


The Wyre nodded slightly. “Well… maybe your god has something for you to do, like Naishia uses the Pack.” He sighed again. “But I should quit dragging this out. Farewell, Garkhen, Warder of Bahamut.”


“Farewell, Tirel, Wyre of the Ferdunan Pack.”



That night, the first Garkhen had been alone for in a long time, he dreamed. Not as he was accustomed to dreaming, but vividly, distinctly. He saw himself walking along a path, further into the mountains. The way was hard and steep, but he persevered. At the end of it, hidden in a canyon, was a cave. He entered, and found something shining, glowing white in the darkness. He reached out and grasped it… and awoke.


The dream was still with him, as clear as waking memory… if not clearer. Leaving his tent, he realized he recognized a nearby path. With renewed energy Garkhen packed up his gear and set out, certain he had the direction he should go now.




Hmmm, I’m not foreshadowing anything. Nope, definitely no vague hints here.  Also, this is the end of chapter 14! That means only two more chapters until Garkhen meets up with his future friends…

Chapter 14-6


The monster roared as it jumped at Garkhen, who raised his shield and braced himself while Tirel jumped aside. It crashed into the half-dragon with terrific force, teeth and claw-hooves screeching against his armor, but somehow he managed to hold his ground. He hid his surprise at feeling its claws scratch his scales through his armor—how could it get through the enchanted adamantium?


Garkhen soon found he had to focus entirely on holding the beast off with shield and mace, with no time to try to attack. But then Tirel in tiger form jumped on its hindquarters, his own claws tearing at its flesh. It seemed to the Warder that Tirel’s claws did not penetrate nearly as far as they should have, but still it forced the creature to divide its attention. It swung its heavy crocodilian tail at the Wyre, but he nimble dodged aside, then renewed his attack. 


This finally dragged the creature’s attention away from Garkhen. As soon as he could catch his breath, he exhaled a bolt of lightning straight into its hindquarters. It bellowed in pain, but seemed scarcely harmed. His mace in its face as it turned again to face him caused more significant damage, but again the half-dragon noted that it seemed strangely resilient to damage, as if it were made of something other than just flesh. 


As it tried to recover from being dazed, Tirel struck again, this time jumping up on its back and trying to bite its throat. It rolled over, and the Wyre jumped back off, growling in frustration. Before it could recover its balance Garkhen struck again, charging forward and bringing his mace down on its shoulder with all his strength. This time he heard something crack, and it staggered, that leg clearly disabled. 


Suddenly it spat at Garkhen, and he flinched backwards. He heard a hissing and looked down to see black-red blood eating through his armor. Falling back he murmured a spell-prayer to ward against acid, and was relieved to see it stopped making progress.


He looked back up to see Tirel sporting a bleeding scratch across his muzzle, though the Madness-Touched now had one to match. Warily the Wyre began to circle it. Catching on, Garkhen moved the other way, forcing it to split its attention. It tried to lash out at Garkhen with its remaining good forelegs, then its teeth, but he managed to get his shield in its way each time, and then Tirel again sprang forward. He sank his teeth into one of its hind legs. 


Bleating and bellowing, it tried to shake him off. It succeeded after a moment, but the Wyre took a large chunk of flesh with him. He spat it out and growled back at the monster. While it was distracted, Garkhen again swung with his mace, but this time it dodged, though it stumbled a bit as it came down on its injured hind leg afterward. Tirel sought to slash its other leg with his claws, but was warded off by its heavy tail. 


After a tense moment of warily shifting position, seeking for advantage, the creature again lunged at Garkhen. Instead of bracing, this time the Warder stepped forward, bashing his shield into its face as it snapped at him. It seemed hardly affected by it, but it put him in position to swing his mace again as it lifted a forelimb to swipe at him. Mace met ankle, and another crack told him that he had struck true. 


Tirel wasted no time in exploiting its distraction. He jumped to one side of it and then onto its side, his hind feet still on the ground as he tore at its flanks. Desperately it tried to turn and lash out, but he dug his claws in deeper and managed to hold it in place through sheer might and weight. Garkhen brought his mace down again, clipping the side of its head as it tried to move aside. Then with a great growl, Tirel pushed downwards, taking advantage of its injured legs and feet. It toppled over, and the Wyre was on top of it in an instant, pinning it down.


It struggled and heaved, showing surprising strength in spite of its wounds. It was all Tirel could do to hold it down. Garkhen swung at its head again, missed, then waited for an opening. When next he swung he struck true, his mace striking the top of its head. It jerked, then was still for a moment, clearly dazed. Again Garkhen swung, striking its head once more. This time bone broke beneath his blow, and the Madness-Touched convulsed once, and then lay still.


Tirel returned to his Wyre form, panting almost as hard as Garkhen. “That… was tough.”


Garkhen nodded. “It is… unusual… for one to be… here, yes?”


Tirel nodded in return. “Good thing… we stopped it. Could have hurt… a lot of people.”




So, yeah. Tough battle. It’s late. Good night.

Chapter 14-5


The next few weeks proceeded much like this—they would follow rumors of undead or Infernal activity, reach a village, hunt down the source of the problems, and destroy it. Garkhen and Tirel became fast friends as they traveled and fought together.


“You know, you remind me of Whitepaw,” the Wyre suddenly stated one day.


“The wolf-Wyre?” Garkhen asked, surprised. 


Tirel nodded. “You both have this kind of… center to you. Do you know what I mean?”


The half-dragon shook his head. Tirel sighed, waving a paw-hand as he tried to explain. “As in, you both… you know where you stand. Or maybe what you stand for. You just… give this sense that no matter what happens, you know what your part is, how you fit in the world. Does that make sense.”


After a moment, Garkhen nodded slowly. “I think I understand. And I thank you, for,” he grinned a bit, “I certainly do not always feel so myself.”


The tiger-man laughed. “I suppose I should have guessed that.”


“And I appreciate the energy you bring,” Garkhen suddenly stated. “Your skills and… your sense of humor.”


Tirel blinked, then after a moment of silence, burst out laughing. “Well, thanks, Garkhen! I wasn’t fishing for compliments, but I appreciate it.”


The Warder grinned and chuckled a bit. “I suppose I simply would not have felt comfortable without returning in kind.”


Tirel opened his mouth to respond, then froze. “Did you hear that?” he whispered after a moment.


Mutely, Garkhen shook his head. Even more quietly, the Wyre murmured, “Get your weapon out.”


By the time he had his mace and shield ready, he could feel something… wrong. He couldn’t put a claw on what it was, but there was a sense that something that should not be was nearby. 


Then he heard the growling, sounding like no natural beast, as if the creature had more than one throat and could not decide which it was using. Tirel growled back, claws out, teeth bared, and stance wary. 


Finally the creature revealed itself, cresting a nearby hill as its growl turned to a roar. Its head resembled some nightmarish combination of wolf and stag, with uneven antlers and a snarling muzzle showing too many teeth. Its feet were like clawed hooves, and it had three feet on its forequarters, the extra in between the more natural two. Its body was built like a great cat’s, but resembled some jungle lizard in coloration and scales. It had two tails, one like a lion’s, the other like a crocodile’s. Garkhen quickly murmured a warding spell-prayer as it gathered itself to pounce.


“Madness-Touched!” Tirel snarled as he shifted his feet to be ready to dodge or pounce himself.




Random monsters, always messing up conversations…

Chapter 14-4


The Wyre nodded, acknowledging Garkhen’s praise without saying anything further. He was too focused on the hunt. They traveled for another hour, roughly, Tirel following signs that were often beyond Garkhen’s ability to see. Soon enough, however, the tiger-man’s ears perked up.


“I hear something,” he hissed urgently.


Garkhen nodded. “I will wait,” he murmured, thinking of the noise his armor made.


Tirel slipped ahead, going up a low rise stealthily. He peeked over the top, then returned to the half-dragon.


“Too late to save him… but we can stop it.”


Grimly, Garkhen nodded, and readied his mace and shield. Together they charged up the hill.


On the other side was a grisly scene, a gutted farmhouse half-filled with living dead. A pair of Infernals were just looking up from some sort of ritual they had been engaged in that seemed to involve a corpse and profane symbols drawn in blood. 


With a wrathful roar, Garkhen dropped his shield. He seized his holy symbol and held it aloft, calling upon Bahamut. It flashed with a brilliant platinum glow that burned the undead. Many of them dropped to the ground. The demons shielded their eyes, but were not particularly harmed. 


Then Tirel struck. At some point he had shifted into his full tiger form, and he landed on one of the Infernals in a blur of fur and claws. Its roar of pain was soon cut short. Off-balance, the other one could barely defend itself as the Wyre turned his attention to it. It shouted out commands to the remaining zombies, who started shuffling forward.

Garkhen reached the scene just as the first shambling corpse tried to strike at his friend. Instead, it fell to the ground, its skull crushed by Garkhen’s mace. Again he called upon the power of Bahamut, felling many more of the zombies while Tirel finished the Infernal. After that it was a simple matter to finish the remaining undead.


Once it was done, Tirel returned to his Wyre form, while Garkhen retrieved his shield. Mutely they looked around, and silently they left, to tell the news of what they had found.




Garkhen doesn’t specialize in slaying undead… but he’s pretty effective at it when he does it.

Chapter 14-3

Tirel did, indeed, assume human form as they neared the village the next day. Garkhen was pleasantly surprised to find that his appearance brought relief rather than fear to the villagers. He understood when one of them introduced himself as a former member of the army who had mustered out at the end of the conflict.

He quickly explained that several people were missing—they had went out to care for the sheep flocks that sustained the village and never returned. Tirel asked if they could see one of the places they had gone.


After they were out of the village a little ways, Tirel asked, “Did you hear of me in the army, too? The tiger man?”


The former soldier’s eyes grew big. “You’re him? But… I heard you were…”


Tirel shifted into his Wyre form. “More like this?”


Their guide nodded mutely.


The Wyre started looking closely at the ground as they walked—searching for tracks, Garkhen realized. As they neared the place, Tirel suddenly stopped and pointed.


“Here. He was attacked… see the dried blood? And then he was dragged this way…”


He started jogging off to one side, Garkhen and their guide struggling to catch up. He looked back and pointed at the former soldier. “You don’t have any weapons on you. You should stay behind.”


The villager stopped and grimaced. “You’re right. Uh… good luck!”


Garkhen had caught up by this point, but Tirel’s pace quickly left him behind. Again the Wyre turned. “You’re too slow, my friend! Here, ride.” 


He shifted into his huge tiger form and knelt. Hesitantly, the half-dragon mounted. Tirel growled a bit, and Garkhen shifted his weight a bit, trying to find a way to ride both securely and without hurting his friend. 


He almost fell off when Tirel started running, and then every time he turned a corner. He only ran for a couple minutes, but the battering and bruising made it seem much longer. As soon as he stopped Garkhen dismounted.


Tirel returned to his Wyre form. “I’m never… doing that… again,” he panted, “At least… not with you… in armor.”


“I apologize,” Garkhen replied.


Tirel waved a hand in annoyance, dismissing the apology as he looked about. “Something else happened here… I think it was a demon that jumped the guy, and here he handed him off to some undead…? And then they went this way…”


“I am glad you are skilled in tracking, Tirel,” the Warder said as moved to follow Tirel, who was again jogging in a different direction. 



Apologies for not posting last week, but I managed to sprain my shoulder somehow. It’s feeling mostly better now.