Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 6

Chapter 6-7

Garkhen slept poorly that night, his dreams a confused, disturbing jumble. He tossed and turned, his mind haunted by the images of what he had seen during the day, mixed and distorted by his dreaming mind. While he could remember little enough of the specifics in the morning, it was still more than he wished.

The next day was, indeed, worse than the last, both due to his poor night’s sleep and due to the steadily growing stream of horrific injuries. Lt. Ailill ordered him to use his healing spell-prayers earlier and more often, and by the end of the day, the half-dragon could hardly stay on his feet.

Over the course of the next several days, Garkhen settled into a sort of equilibrium, where he was able to keep himself functional enough that he could manage to get through each day without exhausting himself too early, though sometimes it was a near thing. And Lieutenant Ailill had been right—he had to conserve his energy to save as many lives as he could.

That didn’t keep those who died from haunting his dreams.

For all that he knew he was doing all he could, Garkhen felt that somehow, he should be able to save all of them. That he should be skilled enough, should have enough endurance to heal every wounded soldier brought in. And sometimes… sometimes he thought that if he were there, on the front lines, perhaps they wouldn’t have been injured in the first place.

In the rare moments that had to rest, Garkhen silently observed the other healers. The three priests of Mashano from Telarnen’s Company clearly showed their fatigue. Lt. Ailill… he seemed increasingly brusque. Garkhen slowly came to wonder if perhaps his manner was, in truth, an attempt to hide his own fatigue and nightmares. As for the others… he soon came to realize how fortunate he was to be in the Company. It was clear the others preferred to keep their distance from him, and he heard, a few times, comments about the “monster in the other room”.

It was worst when the soldiers he treated reacted similarly. Those who were still lucid would usually disguise whatever surprise or fear they felt at his presence quickly, but those who were not… it pained him whenever it became clear their screams were due to his appearance rather than their wounds.

Those screams haunted his dreams, too.

*******

Not exactly the most cheerful post, but, well, war is not a cheerful thing. As Garkhen is discovering.

This is the end of Chapter 6. The next chapter will be somewhat happier, don’t worry. Well, for some people.

Chapter 6-6

Garkhen froze. “No, sir,” he murmured.

“Why did you do so without my orders?”

“Sir, he was dying.”

Lt. Ailill spoke more quietly now, “And do you think I didn’t know that when I examined him?”

“No, sir.”

“So why do you think I didn’t heal him myself?”

Garkhen was silent for a moment. “I do not know, sir,” he answered finally.

“Do you know what time it is, Private?”

Garkhen glanced at the nearby window. “Just after midday, sir.”

“Which means that we have several hours left in the day. Several hours in which many more men will be injured, many of whom will require divine healing to survive the night. There are five of us here, and then the healers in the main room, most of whom are already exhausted. We do not have the resources to save everyone. The energy you just spent in healing that soldier could likely have saved two less sorely-injured men, and if I were incorrect about the paucity of our resources, he would live until this evening when I would have order him saved.”

The elf gave Garkhen a hard stare. “Do you understand now, Private? Will you await my orders in the future?”

Garkhen bowed his head slightly. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now go bandage that patient. If we can stem his blood flow, he will live without magical aid.”

The room slowly filled with wounded and dying soldiers as the day wore on, until no more empty beds remained. Soon enough rough arrangements were being made on the floor for more injured men, and Garkhen gathered from what he could hear from the main room that the same was being done there. He and the other Company healers worked quietly but intently, doing all they could to save as many as they could.

Lt. Ailill did not order Garkhen to use a spell-prayer until late in the evening, but when he did, it was not for one but several soldiers. The half-dragon Warder went from one bed to another, calling upon Bahamut to mend the men’s wounds. By the time he was done, he felt exhausted from channeling his god’s power through himself. Looking about on the other healers, he could see they felt the same.

The sun had been down for some time when they finally retired for the night, two other healers coming in to relieve them. As they headed for their beds, Lt. Ailill spoke once more.

“It will only be worse tomorrow, Private. Get all the rest you can.”

****

See, Lt. Ailill’s not a total jerk. He has reasons for some of the things he does. Though he probably could have brought this up before…

Chapter 6-5

Lt. Ailill wasted no time in organizing his assistants. A quick check revealed that those patients already here were stable, and so he set Garkhen to taking an inventory of the supplies they had available. They were depressingly small, especially in such vital items as clean bandages. The elf seemed unsurprised by this, and sent one of the other healers out to gather some of the Company’s supplies.

“I’m sure we can convince our employers the lives of some of their soldiers are worth some compensation after this is over,” he answered when one of the others questioned the decision, “Especially if reminded we could fight for the other side next time.”

Before more supplies arrived, however, the first casualties were carried in. Garkhen stopped a moment in shock as he saw them. There had been few injuries on the march—cuts and scrapes, a broken bone, and so forth—so this was his first glimpse of the sort of wounds battle inflicted. Some were clearly mundane, wounds from swords or pikes or arrows. Others… were not. Horrific burns were likely the result of a wizard’s ball of fire or bolt of lightning, and the half-dragon preferred not to think about what could have caused much of a man’s side to seemingly have simply disappeared.

The little group of healers were soon hard at work. Lt. Ailill gave Garkhen and the others brief commands to bandage and tend to the less injured casualties, while he himself took the worst cases. The elven priest occasionally used a spell-prayer, as did the other healers, but he more often used non-magical methods of healing. After looking at a few of the casualties, he simply shook his head and moved on.

After what seemed hours, but was likely only minutes, the influx of wounded ceased, and the Company healers settled down to giving more long-term care instead of emergency aid. Garkhen, for a moment without orders, stopped by one of the men Lt. Ailill had passed by. He was horrifically injured, but somehow still alive. Garkhen was shocked he had not been treated. Glancing briefly at the others, he pulled out his symbol of Bahamut and uttered a spell-prayer of healing.

“Private!” Lt. Ailill shouted as he finished. “Have I yet ordered you to call upon your god?”

*****

Oh, look, it’s a cliffhanger! Sort of. Kind of. Not really.

Anyway, apologies for the late post. It’s entirely the fault of FTL.

Chapter 6-4

As they moved out, Garkhen hesitated, then broke ranks to carefully place the doll back where he had found it. Sgt. Gerim said nothing as the half-dragon re-assumed his position in their formation, but Garkhen could feel the other soldiers watching him.

They didn’t have far to go. Soon enough they stopped again, and the officers started splitting the different soldiers off to their posts. Garkhen stood at attention while the soldiers around him marched off, until Lieutenant Ailill, the other healers, and the soldiers assigned to carry the hospital gear came over.

“Follow me, Private. We are needed here,” the elf said.

Garkhen fell in with the others. They traveled a short distance to a large, mostly intact structure—from its decorations it had once been some sort of civic building—where a few soldiers were standing guard. Empty stretchers and other such equipment stored under its eaves suggested that it was now a field hospital. One of the guards looked down at Garkhen then stepped forward as their little group approached.

“State your business here.”

Lt. Ailill looked him in the eye. “I and my assistants are reporting here as requested to aid in the treatment of our wounded.”

The guard hesitated a moment. Lieutenant Ailill continued, more sternly, “Unless you wish to risk losing some of your comrades, you had best stand aside and let us get to our work.”

He hesitated just a moment more before moving aside, allowing the group to pass. Garkhen was sure he could feel the man’s eyes on him the whole way into the building.

He felt no less watched when they walked into the field hospital. The large room inside the doors was filled with cots, pallets, and other more makeshift beds, organized into rows. Most of them were occupied, with a number of healers moving about, attending to them. One robed human made his way to their little group as they entered.

“Lieutenant Ailill?” His tone made the name a question. At the elf’s nod, he looked at the others in his group, eyes visibly widening when he saw Garkhen.

“These are my assistants,” Lt. Ailill said, before the man could speak. “If you would show us to our posts, we can begin our work.”

The robed healer nodded, tearing his eyes off of the half-dragon. “This way.”

He lead them through a door into a somewhat smaller room. More makeshift beds lined this room, but only a few of them were occupied at present. No other healers attended them.

“These ones aren’t bad off, but there will be more,” their guide said. “Supplies for this room are there,” he pointed to a corner, where Garkhen could see a couple crates and bags, “If you need more… there should be another shipment in soon.” And with that, he left.

*****

This is mostly a… connecting section. Necessary, but not too important for the most part.

Chapter 6-3

What disturbed him more were the signs of looting. Whether it had been done by soldiers or citizens taking advantage of the chaos, he knew not, but in either case the thought that any would so take advantage of misfortune brought an involuntary shudder to the Warder as he thought of it. Worse still were the thoughts of what else had likely occurred in the shadows here. Men called dragons monsters, and well did they do so in some cases, but what they did to one another at times was hardly better.

Garkhen shook off his pensive mood as they approached what he assumed was a temporary, if not their final, destination. Again they halted while the officers spoke. The half-dragon looked about him as they waited, and noted a small, crude doll lying on the ground near his feet. It was odd to see it here—the road they had marched on had obviously been cleared. He stepped over and picked it up. Closer inspection revealed it did not seem as dirty and damaged as he would have thought had it been lying there for long.

A soft sound drew his attention, and he turned his head just in time to see a small figure dart around a corner. Garkhen saw only enough to make out an expression of shock on the young girl’s face before she was out of sight. He started to step towards the alley, raising the doll and opening his mouth to explain, then stopped. It was too late, and he must look a monster to a young human child, with his draconic head, blue scales, and thick tail, compounded by the bulk of his armor. Dejectedly he lowered his hand, still grasping the doll.

“You saw her, too?” The squad sergeant, Sergeant Gerim, murmured. Garkhen was surprised by the note of understanding in his voice. “She’s probably an orphan now.”

“I must have appeared to be a monster to her,” Garkhen replied softly.

“We all do,” was Sgt. Gerim’s reply. “After what she’s probably seen soldiers do, I don’t think she’d have acted much different if any of us had looked over at her.”

Garkhen nodded, but shouted orders stopped their brief conversation, and soon they were on the march again.

****

Garkhen hadn’t really had to think about how he looks to ‘normal’ people before this point.

Chapter 6-2

As they marched toward Garnot, Garkhen could make out the city more clearly. It seemed to have once consisted of a fortified core with a sprawling outer city outside of the walls. Now, most of the homes and shops outside of the walls were partially or completely destroyed. The walls themselves were scarred from flung stones and magic, with a few great rents only half-heartedly repaired.

“Now, you lot remember the Captain’s rules,” the sergeant over Garkhen’s marching squad half-yelled as they neared the first of the burned-out buildings. “The civilians have left for the most part, but no bothering the ones that haven’t, and no looting. If you think your pay’s bad, take it up with the Captain, don’t take it out on some poor fellow who had to run from his shop.”

Garkhen didn’t see much need for the caution—it was clear as they marched down the road toward the semi-intact southern gate that others had already looted what little had survived the fury of battle. The young half-dragon was sure his shock showed on his face, but looking about, he saw few matching expressions. Most of his fellow soldiers seemed to have an air of both weariness… and wariness.

They were challenged again at the gates, though from what Garkhen could gather, this was more of a formality. It was clear that the gates had been breached, and just as clear that little effort had been put into repairing them. The large, heavy halves of the gate were scorched, with a large piece in the center where they would come together that was a shattered wreck. Splinters of wood and shattered iron still lay off to the sides of the road, seemingly where they had been swept when the road had been cleared after the battle.

Within the walls, the structures had fared better, but the devastation of war was still clear to be seen all around. Shattered windows in the more prosperous shops, clear signs of fires that had raged unchecked through large portions of the city, and the occasional stone or masonry building reduced entirely to rubble. A couple times, Garkhen thought he saw movement in some still-intact structures or around alley corners as they passed, but he never saw enough to be certain. How someone could still live here in the shattered remains of their homes he knew not, but perhaps it was harder still for some to leave.

*****

Description of ruined town! Yay! Err… not yay.

Basically, I’m building up for the future here. The sights make Garkhen’s reactions make more sense later.

Chapter 6-1

Chapter 6: Wounds

“Battlefields are the playgrounds of the Infernals, and war their favored pastime. The only righteous war is one which is waged when standing by would be the greater sin. In this, I see much of men’s persuasion, seeking to justify themselves in their greed. Nor are many dragons free of this sin, for while they do not wage war as such, many do kill more to feed their hunger for gold than out of necessity.”

“A respect for all life is one of the greatest precepts of the followers of Bahamut. It is this that separates us from the adherents of Tiamat, who hold that dragonkind is the only form of life with any value. And it separates us also from those who selfishly view themselves as the most valuable life in the world. I find that, in the end, we have the most joy from our path.”

They stopped briefly, while Captain Telarnen spoke with a sentry who had met their scouts at the top of the hill. Soon the sentry rode off towards the town in the valley, while Telarnen gathered his Company around him.

“This is our situation,” he began. “Ahead of us is Garnot, the only place it’s practical to cross the Green River with an army for a couple hundred miles in either direction—at least as long as the last bridge still stands. We’re at a stalemate here, with our side holding this side of the river, the rebels the opposite side, with the river and bridge being the battlefield.”

“For the time being, we will be playing rearguard, until an opportunity opens up… or until we can create one. Until then, keep an eye out for anything suspicious, and fulfill your orders to the letter.”

*******

I finally dug up my map of Ferdunan so I have names for the towns again!