Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 8

Chapter 8-8

“Private Garkhen!” Garkhen looked over at the source of the shout, and saw Sgt. Gerim running up to the wall. “Let’s get this off of here!”

He had sheathed his sword, and set his hand to the top of the ladder as he reached the wall. Garkhen saw what he wanted, slid his mace into its belt loop, and stepped forward.

“Now heave!”

With all his might, Garkhen pushed, digging the blunt claws of his feet into a seam in the wall for more traction. Slowly, the ladder started to tip back. Straining against the weight, Garkhen heaved with all his might. The ladder lurched outward, hung for an agonizing moment, and then steadily tipped further back, dropping into the dark sea of undead beyond with a great crash.

“Didn’t… think… we could… actually… do it,” the Sergeant gasped. “Guess that… dragon blood’s… good for… something… Private.”

Garkhen nodded at the grinning, gasping human, his own slight smile hidden by his helmet. Said helmet then saved him from another arrow. Sgt. Gerim brought up his shield, and Garkhen did likewise, as more arrows came raining down. Somewhere off to his left, Garkhen heard a cry of pain. He turned to look, arrows still rattling off his shield. One of the archers had not gotten to cover quickly enough, and lay on the ground with an arrow protruding from his chest. Another soldier crouched over him with a shield, protecting them both, but the wound was likely fatal.

Impulsively, Garkhen rushed over, trusting to his shield and armor to defend him from the arrows. With his free hand he grasped his symbol of Bahamut, chanting a spell-prayer. He reached the fallen man just as he finished it, and touched the now glowing symbol to the wound. As it began to close, Garkhen wrenched the arrow out. The flow of blood quickly stopped as his healing magic took hold.

Once he was certain the man would live, Garkhen stood… and nearly fainted from exhaustion. That had been a wearying spell. He had to remember to conserve his energy if he was going to last through the night. Two more ladders crashed against the wall, and Garkhen forced himself to go to the nearest and smash the skeleton which was just reaching the top of the wall.

******

Another short post. Sorry.

Chapter 8-7

Garkhen swung his mace down, smashing the bones of said hand as the animated skeleton was pulling itself up. Undeterred, it simply lifted up its other hand, which the half-dragon quickly treated likewise. Somehow, the undead creature managed to get its head above the level of the wall without its hands… so Garkhen knocked off its head. That sent what remained of it tumbling back down off the wall.

Then an arrow ricocheted off his armor. Startled, Garkhen stepped back slightly and looked up, remembering that he had not only the ladder to worry about. Unfortunately, that gave the next skeleton time to get itself up the ladder. The young half-dragon just had time to realize his mistake before he had to block its first sword-swing. It struck his shield with surprising force, but it would take much more power to move Garkhen. He stood his ground and swung back, rather clumsily. The skeleton had only to move back slightly to dodge, and then it took advantage of his over-extension to stab its sword straight at his heart.

Garkhen felt the impact of the blade’s tip on his armor, and then heard a loud snap as the end of the blade simply broke off, the force exerted on its rusted metal too great to bear. Now the skeleton was off balance, and so Garkhen could easily smash his mace through its attempt to defend itself, and then through its ribcage and spine. It disintegrated into a heap of bones, the magic that had once held it together crushed together with its bones.

But now an animated corpse had already heaved itself up onto the wall, and another was close behind it. Garkhen realized that he was being to slow this way, and so, as he deflected the zombie’s first swing with his shield, he inhaled deeply… then exhaled a bolt of lightning straight into its chest. The magical thunderbolt blasted a hole through the zombie, as well as through the neck of the zombie that was just mounting the wall behind it. To the half-dragon’s surprise, a hole in its chest did not stop his immediate opponent from attempting an uncoordinated counterattack, but it was now so clumsy that he easily finished it off with a blow from his mace.

For just a moment, Garkhen had time to shake his head, trying to refocus. Using his draconic lightning breath always made him feel rather light-headed, and he could not afford something like that at present.

*******

Apologies for not posting last week. Grad school homework has begun in earnest. But, now we get to see Garkhen fight! He’s not particularly good at the whole melee thing… but when you’re a half-dragon priest in nearly impenetrable armor, you can afford to be somewhat clumsy against lesser undead creatures, apparently.

Chapter 8-6

Sergeant Gerim awakened his squad as evening fell. Garkhen arose with a bit of stiffness in his limbs, and a hint of fatigue irritating his eyes, but arose he did. Quickly he put on his armor, grateful for the magic that made that task much easier for him than his fellow soldiers, and then joined his squad for a hurried meal.

What little conversation there was among them was subdued, and the relative hush around them suggested others also had little desire for talk. Once they had finished, the squad marched to its post. They lined up along the crenelations at the edge of the wall-walk, peering out into the gathering darkness for a hint of their foes.

They did not have to wait long.

Garkhen’s draconic eyes could pick out the advancing army of the walking dead, and even some of the hooded figures among them. Some of the undead carried ladders, and he thought he could see a long log, likely a ram, off to the east nearer the gates. Then he noticed some of the robed figures stop.

He had only enough time to realize what they were doing and chant a warding spell-prayer before the first spells hit. A ball of fire exploded in midair in front of Garkhen, blocked by his ward. He jumped slightly at the sight of it, and at the realization of how near it had come to striking before he was ready. Other spellcasters had thrown up similar defenses along the wall… but not everywhere.

But the half-dragon had no time to look around him. More spells came pounding in, and he found himself hard-pressed to maintain his ward, chanting and holding up his symbol of Bahamut. The twang of bows next to him startled him slightly, but he kept his concentration and the shielding magics it held.

Finally the barrage ended, just in time for the first ladders to swing up to the wall. One clanged onto the stone to Garkhen’s left, and he instinctively moved over to it, pulling out his mace as the archers made way. He was dimly aware that some of his squad-mates were following him, exchanging places with the archers who were less well-equipped for a melee.

He had just gotten himself into position when the first skeletal hand reached up to the last rung of the ladder.

*****

Hey, look, we’re finally getting to the battle! Aren’t you all so happy?

Chapter 8-5

Garkhen slept deeply, but soon he was awoken by a messenger with his orders. He read over them quickly. They were simple, ordering him to report to Sgt. Gerim, as the Captain had said, but helpfully containing a few concise instructions on where said reporting was to take place.

Soon, the young half-dragon was handing said Sergeant his orders. The man looked at them for a few moments, then back up at Garkhen.

“Being reassigned to me, Private Garkhen?” Sgt. Gerim asked, then continued without giving time for Garkhen to respond, “We’ll be glad to take you, but don’t expect it to be easy. After last night…”

He shook his head slightly. “We may want your healing abilities as much as your combat skills.”

“I would prefer to use the latter to preclude the need for the former,” Garkhen replied, quietly.

“Well, what’s your specialty, then, Private?”

Garkhen thought over the question for a moment. “I am a Warder of Bahamut. I am trained for defense, by both physical and magical means. In addition, my armor is made of adamantine, despite its appearance, and is finely crafted and enchanted.”

The Sergeant’s eyebrows raised a little at that, but after a moment’s pause he asked, “And what can you do on the attack?”

Garkhen’s hesitation was more pronounced. “I have some few offensive spell-prayers… I have my breath, and a little training with a mace.”

Gerim sat back a bit, frowning slightly. “Hmmm…” He thought for a while, then seemed to have an idea. “Our squad supports an archer formation’s flank. You will be on our flank right next to them. Last night, those walking dead tried to scale our walls. Make sure they don’t get to the archers. Am I clear?”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Now I’ll introduce you to the rest of the squad.”

The introductions didn’t take long. There were supposed to be a total of twenty-five soldiers in a squad, but right now they were at nineteen, with Garkhen. Two of the empty spots were just because Telarnen didn’t keep all his squads at full strength, but the others were wounded from last night. Once they had been introduced, Sgt. Gerim ran them through a few drills. Garkhen… did not perform very well at them. Eventually the Sergeant dismissed them.

“You’ve never been a soldier.” His tone of voice made it clear he wasn’t asking a question.

Garkhen answered anyway. “No, sir.”

“Well now is not the time…” The Sergeant shook his head. “But the Captain wouldn’t have assigned you to me if he thought you’d be a liability. Just… make sure not to hit anyone on our side with anything.”

“I will not, sir,” Garkhen replied, stiffly.

“Dismissed.”

********

Garkhen is… definitely not a trained soldier. Nor even a trained warrior, really. He was much more interested in the more… scholarly portions of his training.

Chapter 8-4

Captain Telarnen wasn’t hard to find. Garkhen simply had to follow the constant stream of messengers heading into the area that was now the headquarters of the Ferdunan forces, state his purpose to a couple sentries, and soon enough he was ushered in to see the Captain.

Telarnen looked closely at the young half-dragon as he entered. “Private Garkhen. I hadn’t expected to see you today. What do you need?”

“I am requesting reassignment, sir,” Garkhen replied, holding out the message from Lt. Ailill.

Silently, the Captain took the rolled-up parchment, untied the string, unrolled it, and read. After a few moments, he said, “I see.” Suddenly he smiled. “It seems that Lt. Ailill’s hunch was correct. Though you lasted longer than he thought you would.”

“Sir?” Garkhen was taken a bit by surprise by this.

“He said from the beginning that you wouldn’t be content to stay behind the lines,” the Captain explained. “Though I believe his explanation of why changed over time. Regardless, Private, I approve your request.”

He motioned to one of his aides, who soon brought inkwell, quill and parchment. As he did so, Captain Telarnen continued speaking.

“I will assign you to Sergeant Gerim’s squad. You’ve met him, and his squad is taking a watch on the walls tonight. He’ll no doubt appreciate another soldier in his squad, and he’s been with the Company long enough he can fill you in on everything you may not have learned under Lt. Ailill. For now, though, you should go get some rest. You’ll have your orders shortly, but you’re not going to do anyone any good without some sleep. Tonight…” his voice dropped, “Will likely be another long night.”

*******

This was a fairly busy week, so I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with a short post. It’s a good section for a single post, though, since it’s pretty much a single scene.

Chapter 8-3

Somehow, Garkhen kept himself at work until the first signs of dawn showed in the sky. By the end of the night, his fury was warring with his exhaustion for his attention. When they were finally relieved, he approached his elven superior.

“Sir,” he began, his tone quiet but intense, “I request to be transferred to the front lines.”

Lt. Ailill looked at the half-dragon, but not with surprise. “I’m surprised it took you so long, Private. Are not priests of Bahamut called Warders for a reason?”

Garkhen was too surprised by this sudden question to answer, but Ailill continued, “I won’t ask why you came here, but it was clear to me from the first day that this was not where you belong. You were a passable healer, Private, but I suspect you’ll do much better at keeping our men from getting injured in the first place.”

He walked over to a bag, and, after a few moments of rummaging, pulled out a sheet of parchment, a capped inkwell, and a quill. Finding a suitable surface, Lt. Ailill sat down and wrote.

As he did, he spoke. “Take this to the Captain. He will do with you as he sees fit. I suspect that he will grant your request. Some of our men are on the walls, and he would no doubt like to have you with them.”

Lt. Ailill finished what he was writing. He glanced over it, then stood. “If there is anything you wish to gather before leaving, now would be the time. It will be a few moments before the ink is dry.”

“Yes sir,” Garkhen replied, reflexively. After spending a few seconds gathering his thoughts, he quickly made his way back to his quarters.

It took some time to return to his quarters, gather his things, and then return to the Lieutenant. Garkhen had a bit of time to think as he did so. He realized that he was actually relieved to be taking this step, as if it somehow released some sort of tension that had been building up within him. Oddly, he did not view the idea of fighting the undead with fear. He did not anticipate battle with joy, either, but rather… determination. It was where he belonged, as Lt. Ailill had said. At the front, warding the others with his body, strength, and the power of Bahamut.

By the time he returned, Lt. Ailill was waiting with the parchment now rolled up and bound with a small piece of string. The elf gave his half-dragon subordinate directions to where he could find Captain Telarnen, and then added, “Good luck, Private. Keep me from being busy.”

“Yes, sir!”

**********************

I suspect everyone saw that coming. There was no way Garkhen could sit around behind the lines forever, after all.

Chapter 8-2

Oddly, they did not receive the influx of wounded they expected. Instead, they eventually heard that the army was encamped outside the walls, between them and the Rebel army. Rumors spread quickly about what the connection between the two armies was, but in truth, all anyone seemed to have was rumors.

The other Company healers arrived partway through the day. The sun had just arisen when the Ferdunan forces had reached the walls, and now it seemed they would spend a long, tense day upon those walls.

“They will attack after dark,” Lt. Ailill said, after checking all his patients yet again.

Garkhen looked up at him, surprised. The Lieutenant rarely spoke of battle, but rather of healing.

“Such creatures need no light. It seems that whoever commands them realizes this means they have the advantage at night.”

Garkhen hesitated a moment, then nodded in agreement. He didn’t know why Lt. Ailill was sharing these thoughts with him, but he had nothing to add to them. So instead, he simply replied, “Yes, sir.”

The elf gave his subordinate a bitter grin. “I sound like I’m just babbling to you, don’t I, Private.”

Garkhen was taken aback by this, but the Lieutenant continued before he could respond. “Yes, Private, even I can be surprised. And sometimes when I’m surprised I’d rather think aloud. If you have anything to add to my analysis, do not be afraid to speak.”

The half-dragon was silent. After a moment, Lt. Ailill continued, “We had best prepare as much as we can during the day. Once we have done all we can, we will rest.”

Lt. Ailill’s prediction proved true. The remainder of the day was quiet, save for the uneasy talk of the army outside the walls. Once night had fully fallen, the attacks began.

Garkhen could gather little about what was happening, but the injuries of the wounded spoke loudly enough. They were not so different from those received from the living, and yet… somehow, the young half-dragon found an anger building within him at the sight. Perhaps it had always been there, but now, this night, he could no longer ignore it.

*****

Hmmm… now what might Garkhen do here shortly? There definitely isn’t any foreshadowing in the chapter title… <.< >.>

Chapter 8-1

Chapter 8: Awakening the Dragon

“What is it to be a dragon? A dragon is a creature of power. In size, strength, and magic, a dragon knows it is unmatched. Though they are few and dwindling in our times, yet their pride is unbroken.”

“While dragons are as individualistic and varied as any humans, yet this is constant among them—what they seek, they expect to gain, whether that be wealth or to defend the helpless. And while the Races of Men are ascendant, they still must walk wary of awakening the true wrath of dragonkind.”

Lt. Ailill soon set up a new healer’s post, expecting the worst from the rumors. Garkhen had gone with him, and already they had started treating those few who had been injured in the crossing. Their casualties had been surprisingly light, but neither of them expected it to last.

Already news was filtering back to them of the approaching forces. What was said almost could not be believed. An army of the walking dead, interspersed with black-robed figures. While necromancy was not unknown, its practitioners were so universally hated and hunted that the gathering of such an army in secrecy should have been impossible.

But clearly, it was not.

******

Sorry about the short post again, but hey, I’m building suspense! Honestly I should have forshadowed this a bit more (there were rumors about grave robbers going around that I forgot to mention), but… meh, next draft.