Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 7

Chapter 7-4

Garkhen would not have thought he could have been more fatigued than he had been the past weeks, but he discovered quickly he was wrong. The Mage-Commander drilled him and the other wizards and priests as hard as any drill sergeant, and Garkhen’s duties as a healer were in no way lightened to make up for it. He could barely drag himself to his quarters each evening, and sometimes found that he hadn’t entirely made his way to his cot when he awoke in the morning.

Somehow, he continued on, drawing on reserves of energy and resolve he didn’t know he had. He could tell the strain was wearing on the others, as well. Fortunately, they did not have long to wait—the date set for their attempt was only a week after they had begun their training.

That day, Garkhen received orders to conserve his energy, and to retire to his quarters early. They would work their ritual in the dark of night, and could afford no mistakes from fatigue. Despite his considerable anxiety, Garkhen was exhausted enough to fall asleep as soon as Lt. Ailill gave him leave to retire to his quarters.

A knock at his door awoke him. It took Garkhen only a moment to awaken and remember what this meant. He arose quickly, speaking the command for his armor, and emerged to see another Private waiting to guide him. The soldier led Garkhen down to the riverside, where the other spell-workers were gathering. They were just out of sight of the other bank, one half-ruined warehouse between them and the water. Once they were all assembled, a few of their number worked spells of concealment, and they quietly walked out to the edge of the river.

The ritual itself was lengthy, with all of them working arcane magics or calling upon their gods for aid in an odd sort of harmony. Garkhen himself was… uncertain if Bahamut truly wished to aid in this, but he knew not what else he was to do, no better way to aid in ending this terrible war. And so, he raised his voice with the others, noting only subconsciously the odd muffling of the sound caused by their concealing magics. He focused entirely on his part of the ritual, feeling the energies wash through him into the pattern of the spell.

Finally, it was done. Garkhen looked about him, and saw that some of the others had collapsed. He himself felt weary, but not to the point of unconsciousness. But what concerned him more was the seeming lack of result from their efforts—there was not so much as a slight bulge in the river.

No sooner had this thought entered his mind than he heard a low rumbling, soon followed by a large bulge in the midst of the river’s flow. Soon, a wall emerged, entirely blocking it. Not long after he could hear the sounds of water rushing over the opposite bank, followed by distant shouts as the Rebel forces began to awaken to this sudden, unexpected threat.

The Ferdunan forces were prepared, however. Already Garkhen could hear the fighting on the bridge intensifying, and he suspected there were other plans already in play.

“Can you march, Private?” Garkhen started slightly at Lt. Ailill’s voice.

He turned to face his superior. “Yes, sir.”

“We’ll be needed shortly. Come.”

The next hour was a blur to Garkhen. Somehow they were across the bridge, and there was word that their forces had driven the Rebels entirely beyond the walls. At some point their dam had collapsed, as planned, and so the water was receding from the city and the plains beyond. Garkhen had somehow kept up with Ailill, but in truth, he was feeling more weary every minute.

Then there was a change. Whispers ran through the soldiers around him like wind through grass. The soldiers who had reached the wall had seen something—another army, coming from the west. Their victory might well be short-lived.

******

Don’t think I mentioned that Garkhen had gotten his own room. It’s small and simple, but he did. The mass evacuation of the city left a lot of empty rooms, and healers, even if they’re just privates, are valuable enough to get one.

But oh, look, it’s a cliffhanger! New chapter starts next week.

Chapter 7-3

They soon reached a small square in what had clearly once been an affluent neighborhood. Here, a large group of people was gathered, many wearing robes. Garkhen recognized some of the symbols they wore—they were priests of the different gods of Men, and wizards of some power.

Captain Telarnen stood off to one side, and waved Garkhen over to him. Next to him stood a robed wizard, as the young half-dragon could discern from the markings on his robe.

“Mage-Commander, this is Private Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor,” Telarnen said. “He is the last of our men who will be joining this operation.”

“Private,” the Mage-Commander gave him a bare nod. “If you will take your place there,” he waved at a spot between one of the Company’s wizards and a Priest of Mashano, “we will begin.”

Once Garkhen had taken his place, the Mage-Commander looked out over the group. “As you can see, we have gathered here a significant portion of Ferdunan’s magical might here. No doubt you suspect we are planning a master stroke to finally defeat the Rebels. You would be correct, though you likely do not suspect what our move shall be.”

“Captain… Telarnen, here, noticed with some of his men,” he hesitated and glanced almost imperceptibly at Telarnen, who nodded slightly, “A useful feature of the terrain here. The land on this side of the river is slightly higher than on the opposite bank. As such, were we to redirect the flow of the river, it would first overflow into the Rebel’s side of the city. We have, gathered here, the magical might to accomplish such a feat.”

“Now, this will not be simple,” he continued, talking over the sudden whispered conversations his words had started, “Which is why we have brought you here tonight. For the next several evenings, until I judge you prepared, we will practice our ritual. There can be no mistakes when we put it into practice, for any failure might well leave us exposed to a counterattack. Thus, if I find any of you disobeying my commands…”

The Mage-Commander somehow seemed to fix all of them with a steely glare. “Now, then, let us begin,” he said, after a moment.

********

Short post. Bed time. Sleep.

Chapter 7-2

The Captain quirked an eyebrow. “I do, Private.”

“Have you ever read of the Battle of Bocheru?”

Telarnen frowned in thought. “No, Private, I have not,” he replied, after a few moments.

Garkhen hesitated a moment before speaking. “It was fought in terrain much like this, with a river with a rise on one side. The side on the rise had many mages, and they used magic to dam the river in the night, flooding the enemy camp and giving them an unexpected avenue of attack. The two factors together were sufficient for them to successfully cross the river.” He paused again, before adding, “Sir, do you think we could…” He trailed off.

The Captain was silent for a long moment, before barking a short laugh. “It’s risky, Private… but it just might work. I’ll have to think it over, then bring it up before the other commanders. But if it works… it could be just what we need.” He gave Garkhen an appraising glance. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d be a military historian, Private Garkhen.”

Garkhen laughed a bit, uncomfortably. “I had… little to do for much of my upbringing beyond reading, Captain. It was simply fortune that I read that particular work.”

Telarnen shook his head slightly. “I’m not sure I believe in good luck, Private. But it’s too early to be celebrating this—even if it is a good idea, the Ferdunan commanders may not agree to it. But if this works, Private, you may have saved a lot of our men’s lives.”

“Thank you, sir,” Garkhen said, quietly, thinking to himself that he might also be the doom of many of the other side’s soldiers.

Garkhen returned to his post as a healer the next day, with no news of any results from his conversation with the Captain. Another messenger came in that evening for the half-dragon, however. Again, he was led out with no explanation of what to expect.

This time, though, the messenger led him not out of the city, but deeper in. This part of Garnot had not been damaged as heavily in the fighting, it seemed, and likely had been a wealthier district before the war. From what little he had heard of rumors, the higher-ranking officers of the Ferdunan army used these homes as living quarters.

******

Hmm, what’s going to happen, eh? Will Garkhen’s remembered plan work? Has it been tossed out? Find out next week!

Chapter 7-1

Chapter 7: Enough

“For every thinking man who sees such madness, there comes a time he must cry, ‘Enough! I can stand idle no longer!’ Whether it were sin to stand idle so long or not, it is certainly wrong to seek to ignore this impulse.”

Garkhen could not say how long he labored, how many days passed with the constant stream of wounded brought in and healed walking out. Weeks, certainly. Months… if he had been certain what season it had been when they had arrived, perhaps the turning of the leaves would have told him, but it seemed somehow as if the days he spent as a healer were unmeasurable, existing outside the normal flow of time.

But they did eventually end. One evening, just as Lt. Ailill had ordered their little group back to their quarters, a messenger entered the room. He walked over to the elven healer.

“Captain Telarnen requests that Private Garkhen ze’Darkhen’Sem’dor attend him.”

Lt. Ailill arched an eyebrow. “Requests? Very well. Private, you are at the Captain’s service. I assume you are to follow this young soldier.”

The messenger nodded. “If you will, Private.”

Garkhen followed him out. He lead the half-dragon to the west, out of Garnot’s gates and up a hill beyond. It was late in the evening when they set out, and by the time they arrived the moon shed more light on the land than the last rays of sunlight of dusk. A few Company soldiers stood attention at the top of the hill, and the messenger left Garkhen with them. One silently led him forward, up the steps of a small, ruined tower, to where Captain Telarnen was waiting.

“Thank you, Private Aholima. That will be all for the moment,” he said to the soldier who had led Garkhen in.

Once he had left, Garkhen said softly, “You wanted to see me, sir?”

Telarnen nodded. “Yes, Private. Come.” He waved Garkhen forward, then followed as the half-dragon walked out onto some kind of large balcony.

The Captain pointed back at Garnot, where the flash of metal and occasional bursts of magical fire or lightning could still be seen on the bridge. “Our forces are at a stalemate—neither side can bring enough force to bear on the bridge to break through, and neither side can find a way across the Green without the bridge. And so we stay here, both sides sending in good men to die for nothing.”

Telarnen’s voice was soft, but its bitter edge was clear. “So far, my men haven’t had to do the dying yet, but if something does not change soon, we’ll have our turn. And we’ll go out and die, because that’s what we’ve given our word to do. Unless something changes.”

He turned his gaze on Garkhen. “I’ve only met your dragon friend a few times, and every time, it’s taken me a long time to figure out just why he visited. From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t come down out of the mountains for something minor. So I find myself wondering, what part do you have to play in this, Private?”

Garkhen shook his head. “I do not know, sir.” Even as he spoke, he was still looking out on the bridge and the men dying in the darkness upon it.

He shook his head more vigorously. “It is madness, sir. Just… madness.”

Captain Telarnen nodded. “And it will keep going on unless we can put a stop to it.” He sighed. “I apologize, Private Garkhen. I…”

But something had struck Garkhen. He pointed. “Sir, do you see the slope of the land there, on the west of the bridge?”

*********

So, what’s Garkhen realized that all the experienced military minds around him haven’t? Tune in next week to find out!