Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 13

Chapter 13-7

They threw themselves back into their search more earnestly, driven on by that thought. After about three hours, Garkhen reached the main hall. It had an oddly royal look to it, as if it had been partially converted into a king’s audience hall—an odd affection for the leader of a supposedly equal coalition of rebels. Of course, this impression was coming just from what was left—the remains of what he was pretty sure had once been a throne, places where extravagant tapestries had once hung, and so forth.

There was one corner that looked oddly untouched, but Garkhen quickly dismissed it without close examination. There wasn’t anything important there. He started sifting through the shattered remains of the throne.

Garkhen’s eyes widened as he realized what was going on. That was not his thought. Something there was actively seeking to be ignored. He forced himself to turn, to start walking towards the corner. The intact tapestry drew his eye… no, that was another attempt at misdirection. Slowly the Warder forced himself to look at the spot he least wanted to look at, to walk where his mind screamed he had no reason to go.

There was something gleaming from a shadowed spot beneath the tapestry. Slowly, jerkily, fighting against himself the whole way, Garkhen bent down and examined the object. It had a dull iron chain, like it was meant to be worn around the neck. The chains continued around the object itself, tightly wrapping the central piece.

Finally the half-dragon forced himself to look at what that central object was. It shimmered with colors and light, but not beautifully. It was shaped like some internal organ, and the changing patterns of light made it almost seem to pulsate as if alive. There was no doubt in his mind that this was something intensely evil.

He pulled a rag from his pack, not wanting to touch it even with his armored hands. Garkhen wrapped the thing up and carefully placed it in the bottom of his pack. He would have to go find Tirel, and then go show this to the Captain, who would likely recommend priests and mages examine it…

It took him some time to find Tirel. The Wyre was searching through the ransacked kitchens, clearly frustrated. He smiled when he saw Garkhen come in.

“If you’re hungry, I’m afraid the first couple groups through here already cleaned everything out,” the tiger-man joked. More seriously he added, “I haven’t had any luck. Everyone’s been pretty thorough. You?”

“I…” Garkhen frowned. Hadn’t he found something? No… just splinters and empty rooms. “I am afraid I have not found anything of interest, either. Perhaps whatever was involved in these dark deeds was destroyed in the summoning of that great Infernal, or afterward in battle.”

“Yeah…” Tirel seemed no more convinced of this argument than Garkhen. After a moment of silence, however, he said, “Let’s just get out of here. This place makes my fur stand on end all of a sudden.”

The next day, Garkhen requested to speak with Captain Telarnen again. It was early afternoon before he was available.

The Captain sighed as Garkhen was led into the room. “The problem with the end of a war is that all the generals have to keep telling everyone they’re still important,” he muttered as soon as they were alone.

“Sir?” Garkhen was not quite certain what to make of this statement.

Telarnen waved a hand, dismissively. “Too many meetings. Don’t ever become an officer if you can’t put up with meetings, Private. Now,” he waved the half-dragon to a seat, realized its back wouldn’t work with Garkhen’s thick tail well, and shrugged slightly. “You wanted speak with me?”

“Yes, sir.” Garkhen nodded. “I think I have decided what I wish to do now.”

“And that is, Private Garkhen?”

“There are still reports of undead and Infernals in outlying areas. I think I would like to investigate and resolve these issues, sir.”

The Captain chuckled. “What an interesting way to say you want to be an adventurer, Private.”

“Sir?” Again Telarnen caught the Warder off-guard.

Captain Telarnen again waved his hand, as if brushing something aside. “I know you probably haven’t thought of it as such, but that’s essentially what it will be. I’m not trying to dissuade you—I was an adventurer myself, when that gold dragon friend of yours first found me. By all means, Private Garkhen, I’d be glad to see you do that. I, after all,” he grimaced, “The Company is probably going to be stuck here instead of out there cleaning up.”

“Ah…” Garkhen was not sure what to say to that.

“I suppose I haven’t made clear, Private Garkhen, that you’ll have to leave my Company to do that. I don’t think I’ll have much luck convincing the generals to release any of my troops from garrison duty.”

“I see.” Garkhen had, indeed, not realized that. But he realized that, for all that he had become comfortable with the Company, he did not truly feel any sadness at the thought of leaving it. Certainly he would miss some members of it, but… he did not really see a future for himself in military life.

“So, Private, when you are ready, I can release you from my Company.”

“I wish to say some goodbyes, first, sir, and then I will be ready.”

Captain Telarnen nodded. “Very well, Private Garkhen. I will see you again shortly, then.”

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There’s definitely no foreshadowing here… in fact, you should just forget the middle part of this post. Definitely nothing important there. Nope.

Chapter 13-6

Garkhen tried to think things over for the next couple days, but it was difficult to find somewhere he could consider in quiet. Always there were others wanting to hear again exactly what had happened in the desecrated cathedral, whether or not Tirel had really turned into a thirty-foot-long tiger monster, whether he had been twenty feet tall, and so on. Finally he found a place he could have some peace—the former castle of the city’s duke, once headquarters of the Rebellion. 

 

He had gathered that, after the battle was over, the remaining leaders of the Rebellion had agreed to submit again to the authority of their king. Rumor had it that their leader, Duke Elinai, had been connected somehow with the demons. Most were certain he was dead now, having been in the city at the time the Infernals appeared. A skeleton of his rough dimensions, scorched and blackened, had been found in the great hall of the castle. Whatever the truth of the matter, most people were now avoiding the castle. 

 

The few guards left at its gate told Garkhen that all soldiers were currently being permitted access if they would volunteer to search the grounds for any further evidence of what had occurred. Apparently such volunteers were rather scarce. Garkhen agreed to do so, recognizing that he would have time to think as he looked about.

 

He wandered the halls of the castle, having received no real instructions on how he should conduct his search. It was clear it had been looted before the superstition had grown around it, for the walls were all but bare, the only signs of once-rich decorations the hooks they had once hung from. Garkhen entered a bedroom to see it wrecked, the wardrobe and bed in splinters after impatient warriors had come looking for valuables. 

 

Everywhere he went looked the same, which gave him the time to think he wanted. He had heard rumors that there were some few survivors left of the Infernals, and that there were still tales of undead wandering the hills. Certainly such problems had to be taken care of, and now that the war was over, the army here was already dispersing as men returned to their homes. The mercenaries might be used to sweep for such remnants, he supposed, but somehow it seemed likely they would not. He did not really understand the intricacies of the contracts they worked by.

 

Garkhen wondered what the rest of the little group he had fought with would do. Some, he supposed, must have homes to go to, or organizations they were part of—Jesil was likely a member of a Temple to Mashano, and Khera a member of a mage’s guild of some sort. Mirthin… he hadn’t seen Mirthin since the battle, even from a distance as he had the others. 

 

Tirel most caught his curiosity. He knew little of these… Wyre, they were apparently called. He’d read mention of them once, that they were blessed of Naishia, but he knew nothing more. Did they live in cities, or alone? Was the wolf-woman a leader among them, or did each fend for himself?

 

“Are you searching the castle or your thoughts, my blue-scaled friend?”

 

The familiar voice startled Garkhen from his musings. He had just turned a corner, and almost run into Tirel himself.

 

Garkhen smiled. “Truth be told, I am doing some of both, Tirel.”

 

Tirel laughed. “I think more of the second, the way you were walking without seeing anything.”

 

The tiger-man looked around a bit. “Not that there’s a lot to see. The army smashed this place up pretty thoroughly when they came through.” 

 

Garkhen looked suspiciously at the Wyre. “I am beginning to wonder if I should ask the same question of you.”

 

Tirel laughed again. “Perceptive as always, Warder. In fact, I’m probably thinking of what you’re thinking about—what’s next?”

 

The half-dragon nodded, grinning slightly. Tirel continued, “I could go back with the Pack, of course, but, well, we’ve always been loose at the best of times… just show up for a while every now and again, then go off and do your own thing…”

 

“The Pack?” Garkhen asked, curious.

 

“Oh, right, you’re not really from around here.” Tirel smiled. “The Wyre Pack of Ferdunan. You’ve seen what I am—I can be a man or a tiger or a tiger-man, right? Well, there’s a number of us around here in Ferdunan, and we get together some, and call it our Pack.”

 

“I see. Than the wolf-woman…?” 

 

“She’s our leader, Whitepaw,” Tirel explained. “A wise druid, and fierce warrior. She was the one who said we should take part in this war, and, well, I think we found out why.”

 

“Indeed.” Garkhen nodded, thinking of Solkh’Tolkharkha and Captain Telarnen’s suspicions. “It seems my mentor felt I should be here, as well. Dark days indeed these were, that they should need such response…”

 

The tiger-man nodded. “Yeah…”

 

Garkhen was silent for a time. Then another thought came to him. “Yet… some part of me wonders if it is truly over. In all I have read, such a thing as this has never occurred. What if the means of causing all this has somehow escaped?”

 

“Well, there’s cheerful thought,” Tirel replied, grimacing. “I guess it’s back to looking around here, then?”

 

Garkhen nodded solemnly. “Yes, I think so.” 

 

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Hmmmm, that can’t be foreshadowing of any sort there…

Chapter 13-5

Before long one soldier braved the healer’s displeasure. “Did you really grow to be twenty feet tall?”

Garkhen smiled gently. “No, though Bahamut did grant me great strength to fight.”

As if his answer had been permission, suddenly the young half-dragon was surrounded by curious soldiers, all wanting to confirm some portion of the rumors. He felt quite overwhelmed, though he tried to answer as best he could.

By the time the healers managed to beat off the inquisitive, Garkhen felt quite exhausted. He was glad enough to return to his bed.

Over the next couple of days Garkhen quickly regained his strength. Finally he was able to go about without feeling tired. Everywhere he went he was recognized now. A simple stroll was like wading through a mob some days. He occasionally caught sight of one of the others that fought with him, but could never get through to speak with them.

The next day Captain Telarnen called Garkhen in. “Private Garkhen,” he greeted the half-dragon. “I’m sure you’ve been congratulated enough already. So instead I’ll ask, why can’t that dragon ever say things straight out?”

Garkhen looked at him blankly. “Sir?”

“Think about it,” Telarnen said, getting up and starting to pace about. “He drops you in my Company most of the way through this campaign, without any explanation why. But he gave you that,” he pointed at Garkhen’s chest, “Which from what I hear is about the only reason you’ve lived this long. And of course we just happen to be in the army that ends up here, now…”

He shook his head. “Sometimes I wonder how much Solkh’Tolkharkha knows. I don’t suppose you’d have any better idea…?”

Garkhen shook his head. “No, sir. I am afraid I do not.”

The Captain sighed. “Well, I suppose I should have known… well, Private, that leaves me with just one question. What will you do now?”

The half-dragon was silent for a long moment, caught off-guard by the question. “I… have not considered that, sir,” he admitted at last.

“You have a few days,” Telarnen said. “But I thought you might not have, after all you’ve been through. Give it some thought. Our contract won’t run out for a while yet, so we’re not going anywhere.”

********

Garkhen gets asked the big question! …And has no answer.

Chapter 13-4

Lt. Ailill was quiet for a long moment, before quietly saying, “That is quite the gift you’ve been given there, Garkhen. I would advise that you take every precaution with it. That armor would be worth a very great deal of money to the unscrupulous.”

The half-dragon nodded slightly. He was well aware of just what he had been entrusted with—even more aware than Ailill, even if he hadn’t known about all the things it could do.

After another long pause, Ailill said, “Now rest up. You’ll want to be on your feet soon.”

Garkhen’s eyes widened a bit as a thought occurred to him. “The others…?”

The healer paused on his way out of the room, and turned back to look at Garkhen. “Those who were with you all survived, and in better shape than you. If you ask about the army as a whole… it was war, and a terrible one. But it would have been worse were it not for the destruction of their leader. Some of the demons just disappeared in the middle of combat, and some seemed weakened. As far as we can tell, it happened when you defeated the one in the former Cathedral.”

“I see…” Garkhen breathed.

“Now rest. That’s an order.”

“Yes, sir.” Garkhen smiled slightly as the door closed.

It was almost a week after the battle before Garkhen could leave his room. Once he’d been able to manage sitting up, the young half-dragon had been ravenous, as if he had to make up for all the meals he’d missed while asleep. Lt. Ailill thought it a good sign, and it seemed that provisions were plentiful. Garkhen tried not to think about why that might be.

His first shaky trip to the mess hall was… quite an experience. As soon as he saw other soldiers—well, others than the healers—he noticed they stood at attention and saluted him, their expressions a little awed. Garkhen felt a bit embarrassed, but mostly was just focused on walking. He wasn’t quite sure how it had been so easy before, but he supposed a week spent mostly lying down would do that.

A cheer greeted his entry into the mess hall, and the healer escorting him had to speak rather sternly to the soldiers who tried to crowd around him. Instead, the table he sat at was soon filled, with only a little space around him won by the healer’s glares.

For the moment, they left him in peace, but he could hear the rumors flying around him.

“…twenty feet tall! And he smashed its head off with his mace, then its corpse fell on him!”

“…and that tiger-man wrestled with it, until the paladin got his holy symbol in its face…”

Each story seemed more exaggerated than the last, though they all seemed to agree on the core idea that he and the small group he had been with had fought something very large and important, and it was their victory over it that had resulted in the sudden turning of the tide of battle. While he was glad that meant they no longer looked at him like he might suddenly jump on someone and try to bite their face off, he wasn’t sure he preferred this attention. Well, it was better, admittedly, but he still didn’t like it.

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Garkhen is not good in large groups. Something about mostly being around one dragon for most of his life, I suppose.

Chapter 13-3

The next time he awoke it was light, and Lt. Ailill was in the room, speaking with the healer from before.

“…mostly just the effects of fatigue, now,” Ailill was saying. “All we can do now is give him food and water when he wakes, and trust his stubbornness will see him through.”

Garkhen moved slightly, and both healers turned to him.

“You’re awake, Private,” Ailill stated. He turned to the other healer and nodded, and she hurried out.

Lt. Ailill turned back to Garkhen. “Do you feel like you can speak?”

“A little,” the half-dragon replied, his voice weak and scratchy.

Ailill nodded. “Good. You’re healing quickly, given that you just channeled enough magic through you to banish an incredibly powerful demon and then had a few tons of stone collapse on you.”

He shook his head slightly. “To be honest, Private Garkhen, even with that armor of yours I’m surprised you’re alive. But I suppose when you cross a dragon with a dwarf, I shouldn’t be surprised you’d be so stubborn about staying alive. And… I’m rather glad you are.”

Garkhen managed a small smile. “Thank you, sir,” he rasped.

The other healer returned with water and broth. Again Garkhen drank. He felt somewhat better when he was done—enough that he could look around a bit more. The room he was in was plain and unadorned, but clearly was in a well-built home.

“My armor?” The thought suddenly occurred to him that he was not wearing it.

“It was surprisingly willing to come off,” Ailill answered, giving Garkhen an odd look. “We packed it in a chest, which is now underneath this bed, along with your other belongings.”

Garkhen nodded, relieved. He wished to see it… but he could feel he did not yet have the strength. “It is… whole?”

“It was badly damaged when we dug you out of the rubble,” the elf replied, “But by the time we got it off you… I would not have known it had been used.”

Garkhen’s gasp of surprise informed him that he was still somewhat bruised. “I did not know…”

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Sorry I’m going through this so slowly. Just distracted by other writing projects.

Chapter 13-2

Garkhen felt a bit more cognizant the next time he awoke. He wasn’t in the lair anymore. He had been doing… something important. There was a war… undead… demons…

Slowly he pieced his memories back together. As he did so, his body slowly started to awaken, as well. It promptly informed him that it hurt. All of it. He groaned and shifted slightly. He realized he was laying on his side (which he usually did, his tail making laying on his back impractical). Had he fallen that way…?

No, he was on something soft… some sort of bed? He tried to force his eyes open. They did not want to obey, but slowly, he was able to convince one to open a bit. He could make out that he was in a dark room, but not the one in which they had fought the huge Infernal. Likely they had set up a healer’s area somewhere. Had Lt. Ailill seen to his wounds…?

He heard voices, and then a door opening. Light came into the room, throwing color onto what he had only been seeing in black-and-white, though stone walls were hardly much different in gray. He stirred slightly, trying to sit up or at least turn his head enough to see who had come in, but his body simply wouldn’t respond.

“He’s awake!” An unfamiliar voice said. After a moment a white-robed body entered his vision, shortly followed by an elven face as the person bent down.

“Good, your eyes are open! Can you speak?”

Garkhen tried to greet her, but could only manage a soft mumble. She nodded, smiling.

“Good, good. You must be very thirsty after three days.” She turned her head. “Mellaril, bring some water!”

He could hear footsteps as the elf turned back to him. “You’ve had everyone worried. The others who were with you told us about your part in banishing the chief demon. That was very brave.”

The thought slowly swam through Garkhen’s mind that she was speaking to him almost as if he were a child. Of course, at present, he hardly felt like he could think on more complex terms…

The footsteps returned. A clay mug appeared in his vision.

“Do you think you can open your mouth?”

Slowly, Garkhen was able to open his mouth slightly wider. The elf smiled, then turned her head to her assistant.

“Help me hold up his head.”

He felt strong hands gently pick up his head, and the elven healer slowly poured some water from the mug into his mouth. He swallowed, and she poured some more. It took two or three times for him to finish the water.

“Now, isn’t that better? Let’s try some broth next.”

The hands set him down, and he caught a brief glimpse of another white robe out of the corner of his eye. The healer with him talked of small things, the weather outside and the like, until the footsteps again returned. Then she gently fed him broth while the other healer held up his head. By the time all was done, he felt exhausted.

“There, now that you have a little something in you, you should start feeling better. But you look like you want to rest again.”

“Yes,” Garkhen managed to say, though his voice was hardly a whisper.

The elf beamed at him. “Good! Well, rest up. We’ll let your friends know you’re getting better.”

Footsteps, and the door closing, and then he was asleep again.

*******

So yeah, pretty boring post… but Garkhen’s not dead, and he somewhere safe! That’s good, right?

Chapter 13-1

Chapter 13: Soldier Without Battle

“War is a terrible thing. Its cost goes so far beyond the lives and limbs lost in battle. There are the cries of widows and orphans, the hunger of those whose fields were trampled, and the privation of those whose homes were destroyed.”

“Yet there is another cost, as well, oft-forgot in the more physical suffering caused by the sword. What becomes of the soldiers who lived? The thought of joyful reunions with family is true, but for many, there is no home remaining to go to, no world left to them outside the field of battle. Where do these go? What shall they do without war?”

Garkhen returned to consciousness slowly. It was dark and quiet. It must be time to get up for his morning studies. Solkh’Tolkharkha was probably already out sunning. Though usually he told his young charge to wake up before going outside. So maybe not… besides, he felt so heavy and tired…

He wasn’t sure how long it was before he started sluggishly waking up again. Funny that Solkh’Tolkharkha still hadn’t woken him up. Or… was there someone else who was supposed to wake him up? Something in the back of his head seemed to say so. But that was silly, wasn’t it? There wasn’t anyone else in the lair.

The lair, right? Wasn’t that where he was? Where else did he sleep? Maybe if he could get his eyes open he could see… but they were so heavy. Just like the rest of him. He couldn’t quite seem to muster the energy to move anything. For some reason, it seemed like that should bother him, but it didn’t. Maybe tomorrow…

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Sorry about the short, late post. I’ve been distracted and writing thousands of words on role-plays instead of here.