Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 11

Chapter 11-5

Garkhen awoke suddenly. It was dark, but that was no difficulty for his draconic eyes. He sat up and looked around. He did not recognize where he was for a moment, but as he awakened more fully, he realized that it must be a small tent that had been set up for him. Or perhaps it had already been prepared for the care of the wounded. Whatever the case, he was sitting on a bedroll, with a large chest next to him. He opened it, and was glad to find his armor and other equipment neatly stored within.

The hazy memory of waking up to Lt. Ailill’s voice returned to him. So he was clearly under the care of the healers. Carefully he got up. His stomach growled, and Garkhen realized he was quite famished. He spoke the word for his armor, and waited as the pieces took their places. Given the darkness, it must be night, which was likely why no one had yet noticed he was awake.

Once he was fully equipped, he lifted the tent flap and stepped outside. He could see he was in the midst of the camp, but few fires burned. It was a cloudy night, so there was little enough light around. There were other small tents nearby, and beyond them a small fire. Feeling the emptiness of his stomach, he walked towards the fire as quietly as he could.

Quietly for a half-dragon half-dwarf in full plate mail is… not very quiet. While he hoped he had not disturbed any who were sleeping, he had not even made his way into the light of the fire before he could see a young human female looking over in his direction.

“Oh!” She said as she saw him. “We didn’t think you would awake before morning. Master Ailill said you had exhausted yourself quite thoroughly, on top of your wounds.”

She frowned, odd shadows playing across her face in the firelight. “You should not be wearing armor with those wounds!”

“Ah…” Garkhen paused. He had not thought of that. “They… do not pain me.”

The healer pointed sternly at a stool by the fire. “Sit, where I can take a look.”

Obediently, Garkhen sat by the fire. The healer looked him over, her expression growing increasingly confused.

“I was told you had many cuts through your armor,” she said at last. “Where are they?”

Surprised, Garkhen looked at himself as well as he could. His armor seemed pristine, as if it had been freshly forged, not as if it had been torn at by demons the day before.

“Ah… It would seem that my armor has repaired itself,” he said, uncertainly. After a moment’s pause, he added, “I believe my injuries were here, and here, and here, and on my tail,” he indicated several different locations on himself. “But truly, they are not troubling me.”

The healer slowly shook her head in disbelief. After a few seconds, she said, “Well, then, what do you need?”

“I am feeling rather hungry,” Garkhen said, with a slight smile. “I suspect it was my appetite that awakened me.”

She nodded. “Well, you have been asleep for many hours. We do have some bread and dried meats, and I could warm some broth…”

“The bread and meat will be sufficient, I think,” Garkhen replied, not wanting to make her do unnecessary work.

She went over to a nearby tent, entered, then came out with a plate with the bread and meat upon it. Garkhen took it with a word of thanks and ate quietly. Once the healer was certain he was well, she moved off to check on a few other patients.

While he ate, Garkhen wondered briefly at his armor. He had not thought about it before, but its ability to repair itself was truly remarkable. He wished he knew more of its history. Surely it had served in other battles than those ancient ones Solkh’Tolkharkha had told him of.

Once he was done eating, the half-dragon found himself feeling weary again. When the healer returned, he told her he was returning to bed. She watched him go with a look of concern, but said only that he should check his wounds.

When he was back in the tent, he again took off his armor, thinking briefly that it was odd he had even put it on. But as he realized just how much of a treasure it was, he found he was increasingly reluctant to let it out of his sight. Once it was done, he checked over himself, and found that his wounds were already mostly healed. Garkhen wondered if his earlier healing spell-prayer had been a more powerful one than he had thought. But then weariness told him it was time for sleep, and so he lay down again and drifted off.

*******

Garkhen goes to sleep, and so do I. Good night!

Chapter 11-4

Then he realized something—with his build and armor, he likely weighed much more than the Infernal. Managing to free his hand from his shield, he was able to grasp it with both hands and roll over, mostly pinning it beneath his weight. It squealed in pain and bit desperately at any part of him it could reach, until Garkhen exhaled a bolt of lighting into its face. He grimaced as fatigue (and a few bits of Infernal) washed over him, then realized that, while he had been preoccupied with his own safety, he had let his wards lapse.

Quickly he got to his feet and looked about him, ready to refresh his wards—but it seemed it was unnecessary. The remaining demons were in full retreat, less than half of their number surviving. Surprised, Garkhen looked about. The first thing he noticed was a huge red dragon off on one flank of their forces, just coming to a landing by the disintegrating corpse of what he supposed was an Infernal it had savaged. He wondered, idly, if the dragon was also a follower of Bahamut.

As he looked more closely at his surroundings, he realized that he must have lost track of time as well as his surroundings while focusing upon his wards. He started to take a step forward, only to stumble and fall to one knee. He noticed there was blood on his armor. Slowly, the thought percolated through his brain that the Infernals didn’t leave blood behind, so this must be his own. It seemed his foe’s attacks had not been as ineffectual as he had thought.

He fumbled for his holy symbol and murmured a weak spell-prayer to stop the bleeding. His mind seemed to grow even fuzzier as he finished it. Exhausted, Garkhen simply knelt, dully gazing at the ground, the thought that he ought to be doing something dripping through his mind like molasses.

“Garkhen, right? Let me help you up.” A striped paw-hand suddenly intruded into his view of the ground.

Slowly, the half-dragon raised one hand and took the proffered help. He noted idly that his hand was larger than the tiger-man’s. There was a loud grunt as the Wyre pulled on Garkhen’s hand.

“You’re… quite heavy… aren’t you?” The tiger-man panted as he helped Garkhen to his feet.

“I am… sorry…” Garkhen murmured.

He felt a hand slap on his shoulder. “Nothing to be sorry about. All that muscle and armor certainly seems to have helped today, though I think your magic helped more.”

“Bahamut’s… power…” he mumbled. Glancing up at the Wyre, he noticed blood. “You are… injured.”

“And you are in no condition to do something about it,” He replied, gently steering Garkhen back towards the camp. “I’ve stopped the bleeding. I’ll be fine. But you definitely need some help.”

Garkhen nodded slightly, then focused on getting one foot in front of the other.

Soon enough he heard the sounds of the camp around him, but he was too exhausted to look up. As soon as he saw something that looked like some sort of bed in front of him, he collapsed, asleep almost before he hit the ground.

He awoke groggily to a voice. “Garkhen,” it called. “Garkhen!”

Blearily, he opened an eye part-way. He could vaguely make out Lt. Ailill above him.

“Private, your armor has been quite insistent about not coming off,” the elven healer said once he saw his patient was awake. “I can’t tend your wounds properly with it on, and I don’t think you’ll like how much worse it will make your bruises feel in the morning. Now, if you…”

Garkhen mumbled the command word, and felt his armor starting to take itself off of him. Somehow, it even gently slid out from under the side he was laying on.

Lt. Ailill waited until the clatter of armor ceased, then continued, “Good. Now, Private…”

But Garkhen was already asleep again.

*********

Garkhen is really not skilled in combat, but he’s built like a four-foot-nine-inch tall gorilla and wears the fantastic equivalent of tank armor, so he manages in a melee. He does eventually learn to not wipe himself out in every battle, but it takes him a while. It’s as much a matter of learning to channel Bahamut’s power with more finesse so as to drain himself less as it is a matter of learning restraint, though.

Chapter 11-3

The lightning lanced through the air, blasting through two of the smaller Infernals. They howled in surprised pain, the holy power infused in the lightning searing them worse than the electricity itself. Garkhen gritted his teeth as a wave of fatigue washed over him, then jumped as a blinding flash of light exploded in front of him. The injured demons fell to the ground, and some of those following them roared as they too were burned by sacred light. The young half-dragon was peripherally aware of other explosions and roars further away, but then the first of the troll-like Infernals roared and charged at him.

Garkhen raised his shield as it swung a huge claw towards him. He felt the impact first with on his wards, as they stole the force of the blow, and only then on his shield. Despite being robbed of much of its power, Garkhen still grunted as the strike drove his shield arm back against his chest. More worrisome, however, was the fact that the demon was still moving forward, a raising a clawed foot to stomp down upon him.

But red-scaled foot met sacred blade as the Champion of Mashano to Garkhen’s left stepped forward. The Infernal howled in unearthly pain as silver light scorched its flesh around the huge gash in its foot. It stumbled backward, overbalanced, and fell on its back. The heavy thud of its fall was lost in the crashes and roars of combat as other Infernals met armed men to either side of the Warder.

He saw the Wyre leaping forward, his claws glowing green as they slashed at one of the smaller Infernals. The armored Champion was stepping forward, slashing through another demon as he sought to finish the one he had felled before it could stand once again. But for himself, Garkhen found that he now had to focus almost entirely upon the wards he had set. He felt every blow and blast of dark flame that rained upon his companions, and the wear of channeling Bahamut’s power to weaken the attacks was quickly draining his stamina.

One of the smaller Infernals darted through the battle and leaped at Garkhen. He did not have time to get his shield up before the demon landed on him, claws screeching on his armor and fangs struggling to find purchase around his throat as it knocked him to the ground. With a clawed hand of his own, Garkhen desperately struggled to fight back, scratching at his foe, trying to grab it and pull it off of himself.

*********

BWAHAHACliffhangergoodnight!

Chapter 11-2

The Infernals were still in sight in the distance. The champion of Mashano was staring at them. He grumbled, “Why do they stand there? Why do they not attack?”

The Wyre spoke. “They haven’t exactly shown the best tactical sense so far. Their timing for their attack was rather poor, for earlier or later and they might have well trapped one of our armies against the other, instead of getting between us. Perhaps they don’t recognize the opportunity to attack while we get ready.”

It had not occurred to Garkhen to think of that. It was odd, somehow, thinking that the Infernals might be unskilled in warfare. They were, after all, savage and evil. But he supposed that did not make one tactically knowledgeable.

“I’m not complaining, either,” the Wyre continued. “I certainly hope it’s true, because the only other reason I can think of is that this is a trap.”

The champion grunted. “And where is that dragon that was with you? It does not seem that fire magic would be of use here, but his claws and teeth would.”

The Wyre simply shrugged in response. He opened his mouth to speak, but then a shout came from down the line. It was time to move out.

They marched forward in their small squads, warily watching for ambushes. None materialized. Only the growling, roaring, shouting lines of Infernals outside the walls of Elifort could be seen. As Garkhen approached, he could see that they were not truly so numerous—there were perhaps a couple hundred of them. But that was more than they had faced earlier, and there were a greater number of larger ones.

As they neared, Garkhen began chanting, calling upon Bahamut, weaving wards against fire and claw around his squad. He could hear other voices doing likewise, calling upon gods or magical energies to protect or prepare an attack.

Whether because they heard their foes preparing for battle, or because the names of goodly gods drove them to wrath, the Infernals before them roared and charged towards them. His preparations complete, Garkhen observed those that were making for his squad. Several smaller ones, only slightly larger than a man, as well as a pair of troll-sized ones, and one even larger quadrupedal beast. They outnumbered and out-massed his squad, but the young Warder felt no fear.

Instead, he loosened his grip on his shield, grasped his symbol of Bahamut, and brought it up before his face. As the two swiftest Infernals neared, he chanted a brief spell-prayer, inhaled… and then exhaled a bolt of lightning through his symbol.

********

And so another battle begins! But it’s late now, so I’m going to bed.

Chapter 11-1

Chapter 11: Shield and Claw

“What is honor? That is… a difficult question to answer well, for honor is fundamentally an individual matter. So, it is better that I answer what honor is to me.”

“To me, honor is to defend others, to stand between the civilized world of peace and whatever would threaten it, be that demon, monster, or evil men. It is to be compassionate to those who suffer, to be a beacon to those without hope, to bring light into this world.”

“Whether or not my efforts are ever recognized, this is honor to me.”

Garkhen stood with a half-dozen other soldiers… though they, like he, were rather unorthodox soldiers. One was a champion of Mashano, a warrior encased in armor and wielding a huge, glowing, two-handed sword. Another was a sort of tiger-man, who Garkhen learned was what was called a Wyre. Apparently, he was like the wolf-woman he had seen amongst the leaders of the Rebels, a person chosen of Naishia and blessed with the ability to assume the strengths and form of an animal, as well as this intermediate form. He wondered, briefly, if perhaps there were some that could turn into sparrows or some such innocuous creatures, and if that had been a factor in the Rebels’ scouting abilities.

His other companions were unusual in similar manners, all expert warriors or priests. In some ways, Garkhen felt out of place… and yet, he knew this was where he was meant to be. He only prayed that Bahamut would give him the power to help fight the Infernals before them, and that his armor would keep him alive to do so.

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Well, here we are, the start of another chapter! Likely one more chapter will wrap up this war, and then a few more will bring us up to the point where we’ll meet some old friends… 😉