Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 4

Chapter 4-3

With that, the dragon left Garkhen to his own devices. Reverently the half-dragon removed the armor from its hiding place and looked it over. He was somewhat dismayed to discover that, while it had what he could only assume were slits for wings, it had no similar opening for a tail, much less one as thick as his own. Not only that, but the armor was clearly made for someone of greater height than the half-dwarf. He considered it for a moment, wondering if there were some way around this issue. Not seeing one immediately, he decided instead to try to don as much of it as possible, in hopes that a solution might be more obvious after he did so.

He struggled for a few minutes with the awkward armor, its weight as he lifted it making Garkhen glad his mentor had at least seen to it that he had built up his strength. He wondered briefly how long Solkh’Tolkharkha had been thinking of this day… and was rather startled when his thoughts were interrupted by a gentle bump on his leg. Looking down, he was surprised to see one of the greaves of the armor securing itself to his shin. Soon its pair joined it, and then it was all Garkhen could do to respond to the demands of floating pieces of armor trying to put themselves on the half-dragon.

The entire process couldn’t have taken more than a minute. Garkhen was momentarily surprised at how well it fit, then shook his head. Clearly, the original forgers had just as much foresight in terms of having the armor reshape itself to its wearer as they had in making it possible for a single half-dragon to don it unaided. He took a few minutes walking around, marveling at the fine craftsmanship and intricate detail of the ancient suit of armor, then decided he should arm himself. He picked up the mace he had been using for his combat ‘training’, a well-made weapon of solid steel. After a moment’s hesitation, he also picked a large shield, then started going over the few combat techniques he had tried that he felt actually worked.

A scant half-hour later, Garkhen sat down heavily on the floor, his fine armor crashing loudly against the ground and itself. It was clear that, no matter how well the armor fit and how much strength he had built up, he had not yet built up the kind of endurance he would need to fight in armor. He felt utterly exhausted, and very warm. He was sure that, had he been capable of sweating, he would be drenched with perspiration after his exertions.

He sat for a few minutes, feeling his aching muscles starting to cool down, and then unsteadily got back to his feet. He had no time for weakness, whatever his training had been lacking. He slowly made his way to his ‘room’ to pack his few belongings.

He had few—just the few gifts Solkh’Tolkharkha had given him over the years. A couple finely made changes of clothes, a pack, a few useful tools… hardly a hoard, by any standards, except perhaps a magpie’s. Still, Garkhen would not have it any other way. He was rather proud that he had so far controlled the hoarding instinct that was part of his father’s legacy.

Once he felt certain he was ready, Garkhen made his way to the library. There was no telling when he would have access to such a place again. He found that the armor’s bulk made even reading more difficult, but with some care he was able to settle himself comfortably on the stool placed in the chamber for his use, and spent his last day in his mentor’s lair as he would have wished.

Garkhen slept soundly that night, after finding that the armor was as well-enchanted for removing itself from him as it was for putting itself on him. Solkh’Tolkharkha awoke him early the next morning, and after seeing that his charge was ready, gently picked him up in his claws and flew out of his lair.

They flew for a long time again, until they reached a fair country of hills and forests. Solkh’Tolkharkha’s long neck turned one way and then the other, searching for something, and then stopped as he found his destination. Slowly the huge gold dragon circled downward, and the young half-dragon in his claws could make out a little of what he assumed was their landing area. It looked to be a military camp, with rows of tents and armed men, though these second were all looking upwards with some degree of nervousness as they approached.

As his mentor landed, Garkhen felt a thrill of fear. The idea of leaving, of being on his own, had seemed too surreal to be real yesterday, but today it seemed terrifyingly true. Solkh’Tolkharkha had been of little comfort on this matter—when they were departing, Garkhen had asked, Will I ever return?

The gold dragon had slowly shaken his head. There is no return to the nest, young Garkhen.

Thinking back on that, the half-dragon could not help but feel trepidation at the unknown future ahead of him.

Solkh’Tolkharkha watched a man—Garkhen found it difficult to decide if he were an elf or a human—approach after he had landed and set the young half-dragon on the ground. The man bowed as he drew near enough to speak.

“Solkh’Tolkharkha,” he began, in a passable attempt at pronouncing the Draconic name, “It is good to see you again. I take it this is the young man you spoke of earlier?”

The gold dragon nodded his head. “He is called Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor. He will serve ably in your group, so long as you fulfill the conditions I spoke of, Captain Telarnen.”

The man—Captain Telarnen, apparently—nodded. “Of course.” Then he looked more closely at Garkhen. “So you are Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor. As you have no doubt gathered, had you not known, Solkh’Tolkharkha has arranged for you to fight with us, as well as made clear the… somewhat peculiar arrangements I might have to make to account for your past. But I would have your word on this. Do you swear to me that you enter my service of your own free will, that you will serve under my command with honor to the best of your ability?”
Garkhen steeled himself, forcing the anxiety gibbering at the edge of his consciousness back. “Yes, Captain.” The Common Tongue words felt strange on his tongue, even though he had spoken the language before.

Solkh’Tolkharkha nodded. “Very good, Captain.” He turned his head to his young charge. “Garkhen, I wish you well in the path you walk. Remember you are a Warder of Bahamut, and his strength shall be with you in the dark days ahead. Do not falter even when all seems lost, and you will see the light again.”

And with that, the gold dragon leaped into the air, the strength of his wingbeats flattening grass and sending up a cloud of dust. Captain Telarnen watched as he flew away.

“Every word that one says has some meaning behind it,” he murmured, almost too soft for Garkhen to hear. The he turned back to Garkhen. “So, Garkhen, while I have some idea of your skills, I want to know—what will you do here?”

Garkhen froze, realizing just what had happened. Solkh’Tolkharkha had dropped him into an army—from his parting words, likely one in the midst of some great conflict. The thought of war, of taking men’s lives, terrified him. He looked about, noticing a large tent off by itself nearby. Men were tending to the wounds of others there.

“I will be a healer!” Garkhen declared with relief, seeing a way out in this thing.

The Captain slowly nodded. “Very well, then. Follow me, and I will introduce you to your new superior, then.”

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Sorry I didn’t post yesterday–but see, this is a nice long post to make up for it!

And yes, dragon parenting does usually involve kicking your kid out and leaving him to fend for himself. Have I mentioned I’m glad I wasn’t raised by a dragon?

Chapter 4-2

There was silence for a moment before Garkhen asked, Do you mean… I will wear this armor?

The shapechanged dragon nodded. Yes, for it will soon be time for you to depart. But before you don it, I will tell you something of the history of this armor. For this armor is nearly as old as the Races of Men, and it is given to you only as a stewardship, not a possession.

It was forged for the first of mingled blood to join our number, the first half-dragon Warder of Bahamut. He had proved himself time and again a valiant and mighty defender against the evils of Tiamat and her followers, but while he was great in strength and the power of Bahamut, he lacked the hardiness of his fully draconic allies. And so they, with he, wrought a great work—this armor.

The breaths of all breeds of dragons went into its forging, that it might turn them aside when they were used against its wearer. It was coated in platinum, in symbol of devotion to Bahamut, but its core is the finest adamantine, as hard as the scales of the most ancient of dragons. Into it were etched mighty runes of warding and protection, so that its bearer could stand against all evils.

It saw many battles in service of that first Warder, but since that time it has seen use rarely. Few have risen worthy of its legacy, and then it was, for a time, lost in dark places…

Solkh’Tolkharkha fell silent for a moment. Garkhen looked with growing awe on the ancient armor, scarcely believing that he might be found worthy of such a precious treasure.

Then the shapechanged dragon continued, But I put an end to that. For many decades I have had it here, hidden, but I suspect there is little of chance in our present circumstances.

Even in human form, Solkh’Tolkharkha’s intense gaze seemed to bore into his young charge. And so I will entrust it to you, for you will likely need it in days to come.

It took Garkhen a little while to form a response. Days to come? He echoed.

Solkh’Tolkharkha nodded. Yes, it is time for you to leave the nest. There is war in the lands of Men, and not all is right there… He trailed off a moment before continuing, We will depart at first light on the morrow, to a place I have prepared for you. For this day, you had best prepare, and learn something of the use of this armor. Time and poor use have worn it down, but it still retains much of its power. Now be on your way, I have things to prepare, as well.

****

There, a bit of the history of Garkhen’s armor, including why he hardly ever lets it out of his sight.

Chapter 4-1

Chapter 4: Beginnings are Also Endings

Dragons’ independence is their greatest strength, but also their greatest weakness. An individual dragon is the most powerful mortal in existence. It may have lived for hundreds of years, and they grow larger than any other creature on Draezoln. They instinctively wield magics which human wizards spend lifetimes seeking, and their scales mock all but the greatest weapons.

And yet, for all their power, dragons are a diminishing race, for they have one weakness—a group of dragons is nothing more than several dragons in the same place, and may well be as inclined to fight among themselves as anything else. Even the oldest and wisest of dragons, though they recognize the success of the Races of Men, cannot truly comprehend the advantages of long-term cooperation. Though they have their own society, dragons will never have a true civilization.

This shows in the rearing of their children—whereas the children of Men are given much aid and care in their upbringing, dragon hatchlings are provided little more than protection, food, and the most basic of instruction, and otherwise are largely left to their own devices. That Solkh’Tolkharkha did as much as he did for my education was unusual for a dragon, even though it may seem callous among Men.

It seemed a morning much like any other, but before noon, Solkh’Tolkharkha led his young charge again to the armory. This time, however, he did not as usual indicate that Garkhen should take a weapon, but rather motioned him back with one claw before going to a bare spot of wall opposite the entrance. Then he began to chant, slowly tracing runes and sigils on the wall.

The gold dragon chanted in a Draconic so ancient Garkhen could understand only a few words—ward, lock, open, guard, light. The half-dwarf waited patiently and watched intently, sensing that whatever his mentor was doing was of great import. Finally, Solkh’Tolkharkha changed into his human form, and pressed his hands carefully on the wall. Suddenly a section slid back slightly, and with a slight grunt the shapechanged dragon slid it aside, revealing a hidden alcove.

Come, Garkhen, he said, speaking as usual in Draconic despite his human guise.

Slowly, Garkhen approached, looking beyond his mentor at the alcove. He could see only part of what was in it, but even that was amazing. A single suit of armor rested on a rack in the hidden compartment, but armor such as he had not seen even in the courts of the Kings of Men. It seemed made of pure platinum, yet it seemed hardly metal, but rather something living, for it was made to look as a suit of dragon scales. Almost Garkhen thought he saw eyes gazing out from the empty sockets in the helmet, shaped like a dragon’s head. But what most drew the gaze was the symbol of Bahamut on the chest of the armor, made of platinum and studded with diamonds.

The Platinum Bulwark, Solkh’Tolkharkha named it, Or so it was called. It has rested a long time… but it is time for it once again to do its duty.

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Don’t worry, we’re almost to the part of Book II that sort-of has a plot!