Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Book 3 Chapter 11

Chapter 11-8

Zakhin’Dakh had been re-shrunk by one of the Guild mages when they returned, and now they were back to waiting. Garkhen reported that nothing had happened while they were away, so Almonihah grumpily settled down to wait again, until Zakhin’Dakh trotted over to him.

I want to see the thing! He screeched, excitedly.

It took the half-bronze dragon a moment to realize what his friend was talking about. The map, he stated for Zakhin’Dakh’s benefit, guessing the griffon didn’t know the word for it.

He pulled it out and unrolled it on the ground, and Zakhin’Dakh all but pounced on it, looking up and down it excitedly. And after a few moments, the questions started.

Zakhin’Dakh was still asking a constant stream of questions when the entire room suddenly shook, as if struck by a giant. A dull roar echoed dimly down the hall outside, audible even from within the room. As one, Almonihah and Garkhen turned and ran to the door.

They found the acolyte outside looking about wide-eyed. “What’s going on?” Almonihah demanded of him. The young man could only shake his head.

“Which way’d it come from?” Almonihah demanded instead. The bewildered acolyte hesitated a long moment, then finally pointed one way down the hall. The two half-dragons charged off in that direction, with the still-shrunken Zakhin’Dakh following close behind.

Almonihah recognized which way they were going—the stairs they’d come up were right… here. A hint of something in the air caught his attention, and he sniffed as he ran. Smoke…?

Stopping at the stairs, he looked up, and then down. “Smoke coming from below,” he growled, then charged downwards, his friends behind him.

Two floors down, the smoke was visibly pouring out from the entryway into the stairwell, and Almonihah’s keen ears picked up sounds of battle. Following them the group soon burst into a scene of pandemonium: at least a dozen wizards were flinging fire and ice at twice that many Javni’Tolkhrah, all within an enormous room. At the center of the room the flaming wreckage of some sort of structure sent up billowing clouds of acrid smoke.

“Javni’Tolkhrah? Here?” Garkhen gasped.

Almonihah reached the same conclusion the Warder had. “The Amulet.” 

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And here it’s unfortunate that I name my chapters before they’re done, because this ended up not getting as far as I’d thought. So the chapter name is not really applicable to this chapter, but rather the next. XD

Chapter 11-7

Their rooms were far nicer than where they’d stayed on the Pirate Isle, Almonihah had to admit… but he preferred it there. At least there he could sleep outside and wilderness wasn’t far away. Here, he could feel the walls around him, the hundreds of people living in close proximity to him…

Well, perhaps not literally feel them, but still, it made him more anxious than he cared to admit.

Zakhin’Dakh, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying every minute of it, looking at all of the weird people things over and over again, pestering Almonihah with every question he could think of, and just generally acting more like a rambunctious kid than an apex predator.

Garkhen, for his part, thought little about their quarters. Instead, he was focused on the problem that had brought them here. Would the mages of Midport truly be able to find a way to destroy the Amulet?

For now, however, this question was unanswerable. There was little for them to do but wait.

After a few minutes of pacing around, Almonihah abruptly turned to Zakhin’Dakh. Want to go see the city? He asked in Great Eagle

Yeah! Zakhin’Dakh screeched, excitedly.

“’m going t’ take Zakhin’Dakh out,” he told Garkhen. “Back soon.”

Garkhen was surprised, but nodded. “It is probably best if he is not kept inside too long,” he said with a grin.

Almonihah snorted in agreement. Zakhin’Dakh, meanwhile, was jumping around excitedly.

Where we going to go? Can we go in more people places?

We’ll look around and see, Almonihah answered as he walked to the door of their suite.

The apprentice who had led them in was sitting on a chair in the hallway looking bored when the half-bronze dragon opened the door. He stood up, surprise clear on his face.

“Is there a problem, sir?” He asked, carefully.

“Just want t’ take a walk,” Almonihah replied curtly.

“Ah, with… the griffon?” The apprentice asked.

Almonihah responded with only a nod. The apprentice hesitated a moment before saying, “Ah… the Archmage said to inform you that the griffon’s shrinking spell will only work inside of the Guild. If you leave he’ll return to his normal size, and the spell will have to be re-applied when you return.”

The half-dragon shrugged. “Don’t mind, do you?” He asked Zakhin’Dakh.

The griffon shook his head, though he screeched a bit regretfully. That would mean no going in people places.

“Well, then,” the apprentice said, sighing, “I’ll lead you out.”

Zakhin’Dakh’s return to his normal size was sudden. One moment he was the size of a large dog, the next, Almonihah was stumbling backwards because his big friend’s wing had struck him on the way up.

Zakhin’Dakh stumbled a bit, screeching uncertainly as he regained his balance after the sudden change. A few people on the street looked over at them with some concern, but soon shrugged it off. They were near the Mage’s Guild. Weird things walked out of there all the time.

They drew somewhat more attention as they got farther into the city, though most of it was irritated rather than frightened. Between Midport’s griffon riders and Mage’s Guild, most of the people didn’t think much of a giant griffon and a dragon-man walking down the street. Probably it was some wizard’s experiment, they no doubt thought.

Zakhin’Dakh, on the other hand, was endlessly interested in his surroundings, just as he had been inside the wizards’ tower. Always he was looking at this or staring at that, sometimes stopping and asking a question, but never lingering long on one thing.

But then something caught his eye, and he suddenly bounded forward, not noticing he knocked over a flower pot as he landed. His beak was near a window, and Almonihah hurried to see what had caught his attention.

It was a cartographer’s shop, with a large map displayed in the window—the window that had a giant griffon beak inches from that. Zakhin’Dakh made an odd, low sound, rather like an “oooooooooo”.

What’s that? He asked, not taking his eyes off of the map.

“It’s a map,” Almonihah stated. After a moment, he added, “It’s… a picture of what the land would look like from very, very high up in the air.”

“Ooooooooooooooooo,” Zakhin’Dakh crooned again, fascinated.

Almonihah couldn’t help but grin just the tiniest bit at his big friend. Glancing around, he didn’t see anyone too disturbed by the whole thing, though the cartographer might complain about the knocked-over pot. He righted it, decided it was probably fine, and then looked back at Zakhin’Dakh.

“What ‘f I got you one?”

The massive aquiline head swiveled to focus on Almonihah. Would you? Zakhin’Dakh asked, excitedly.

“See how much they cost, but prob’ly,” the Ranger replied. “Just wait here.”

Zakhin’Dakh watched excitedly as his friend walked in the store, talked with the cartographer, and a few minutes later walked out with a big roll of parchment.

“Biggest she had,” Almonihah explained. “Let’s take it back.”

Zakhin’Dakh screeched an enthusiastic agreement as they turned back the way they came. 

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I realized I hadn’t brought up Zakhin’Dakh’s love of maps yet, and this seemed like a good time for him to discover it. And yes, I did just replicate the scene in this picture. 😀

Chapter 11-6

There was a long moment of silence before the wizard at the head of the table shook himself slightly, looked down at Garkhen, and said, “Yes, it must. So you have come here in hopes that we might discover how it might be done?”

“Yes,” The half-blue dragon replied with a nod.

There was another silent moment before the head archmage spoke again. “It will require time and study for us to discover how this may be done, for the working of this artifact is such that it may not be undone easily.”

Almonihah growled softly in his chest. “We have t’ keep our eyes on it,” he stated.

“Impossible,” one of the other archmagi responded, flatly. “We must work without interruption.”

Almonihah snorted, but before he could speak, Garkhen interrjected, “Perhaps we might arrange something…”

“Impossible,” spat the same archmage.

The head archmage held up his hand. “Do not be so… hasty, Archmage Ganver,” he said. “They have reason for their request. I believe something can be arranged.”

“But not without price,” the archmage who had brought them in interjected.

“Not without price,” the head archmage agreed. “You have something in mind, do you not, Archmage Illusin?”

“Nothing too costly, I assure you,” Illusin replied. “It is not every day that we have the opportunity to study such unusual specimens as you.”

Almonihah’s head-frill went stiff, and he growled again. Illusin quickly added, “Nothing invasive, of course. Simple observation, collection of shed scales and feathers, that sort of thing.”

“That is reasonable,” Garkhen swiftly responded. “And in return for these things, we shall be allowed to observe your operations upon the amulet?”

“As well as room and board,” Illusin agreed. “I think that would be entirely appropriate, yes?”

No one contradicted him, so he sat back and nodded at the head of the archmagi at the table. Said archmage nodded back. “Very well, then, we are all agreed. Illusin, you will see them to the quartermaster.”

Illusin stood and gave the other archmagi a slight bow. “If you will follow me, we shall see to your arrangements while we prepare a place for your artifact,” He said to the two half-dragons and griffon.

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Sorry I haven’t posted much recently! Vacation time was not as productive for writing as I had thought it would be.

Chapter 11-4

 “Now, then,” the spokeswizard said, turning back to Almonihah and Garkhen. “While we’re waiting, why don’t you share a bit of what you’re here for?”

Almonihah growled a bit. “Not out in th’ open.”

The wizard raised an eyebrow. “That sensitive, is it? Well, then…”

He chanted for a few moments, and a shimmering, translucent dome popped into being around the group. “There! No one outside of our little group will see or hear us. So I ask again, what sort of business do you have here?”

Almonihah glowered around at nothing in particular, but Garkhen cut in before he could speak. “That should be sufficient. We carry with us an artifact of terrible power, closely aligned with the powers of Chaos and Madness. It has already lured many men to their deaths, and drawn in Madness-Touched to kill many others.”

“It must be destroyed, but we have not the means to do so, and thus we have come here, to the greatest center of magical learning on our world.”

The spokeswizard nodded thoughtfully. “We had, of course, detected a powerful magical aura with you as soon as you drew near our shores. That does explain why you have come here…”

He looked over the three thoughtfully. “If this is as you say, we will, of course, have an interest in seeing to the destruction of this item. However… you will need a way to pay for your stay here, will you not?”

“We have sufficient gold for our stay,” Garkhen stated, cautiously.

“But we are uninterested in gold, and you will wish to visit often to observe our progress, will you not?” The spokeswizard smiled, and Almonihah’s head-frill went stiff at the predatory look in his eyes. “A small deal, then? We would be interested in a few samples—nothing much, just a few scales, a few drops of blood, a couple feathers…”

Almonihah growled, but Garkhen put a hand on his arm and murmured, “Now is not the time, my friend.” The half-bronze dragon bared his teeth, but said nothing.

“Perhaps we might discuss this further once we are inside and you can examine the artifact,” the Warder said once he was certain his friend would not act rashly.

Just at that moment, the mage who had disappeared earlier reappeared, with another wizard alongside him. “Master Verithuss will work the griffon’s desired magic,” he stated.

The spokeswizard nodded, his eyes still glittering with desire as the transmutation Master began chanting. 

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Hmmmmmm… not suspicious at all…

Also! Some new art! Here’s Garkhen in his preferred environment: a library. 🙂 http://silverwarden7.deviantart.com/art/Garkhen-604911794

And here’s Zakhin’Dakh saying hello to another griffon: http://almonihah.deviantart.com/art/Zakhin-602907314

Chapter 11-3

A few more days of sailing brought them into port at last. The tired men cheered as they neared the dock—until they noticed that a large group of people was waiting on the pier they’d been directed to. The cheers trailed off into uncertainty as they drew nearer and could make out several ornately-dressed wizards in the company.

“Greetings, unfortunate travelers!” One of the wizards called out as they drew close. “We have heard of your harrowing escape, and welcome you to Midport! We shall make certain you are well-taken care of.”

He turned to look at Zakhin’Dakh, who was very obvious on deck. “Now, to the more… unusual members of your crew, we understand that you need to speak with us. We shall escort you to our guild at once.”

Their procession drew quite a bit of attention as they wound their way through the city. While the people of Midport were more used to griffons than most, thanks to their griffon-riding cavalry, a griffon of Zakhin’Dakh’s size was still unusual. The two half-dragons, however, drew even more curiosity. But their escort discouraged questions, so they passed through the city’s streets without being stopped.

They went northwest, through winding streets and over wide bridges, past the fortress that served as Midport’s capitol building and towards the spires of the Mage’s Guild. Wizards are a notoriously antisocial lot, and the relative isolation of this, the largest of all gatherings of wizards, seemed to lend credence to that notoriety.

The influence they clearly exercised in the local government, however, argued that they were perhaps not so above associating with other men as the stereotype suggested… at least not if it were for the sake of power.

Whatever the case, the group halted at the first bridge from the mainland to the cluster of small islets from which rose the mismatched spires of the Mage’s Guild. One man, who wore a silvery-white breastplate, turned to Zakhin’Dakh.

“I’m afraid this is where you have to part ways with your friends for a bit,” he said, jovially. “You remember the last time you were here, right? Spending time with all of the other griffons?”

Don’t want to go, Zakhin’Dakh screeched, turning away from the man.

The griffon knight seemed taken aback. “Was… that a no?”

Almonihah snorted. “Yeah, said he doesn’t want to go.”

The armored man took a moment to gather his thoughts. “You… do know that you can’t fit in there with your friends, right?” He asked Zakhin’Dakh.

“That may not be true, Commander,” the lead mage interjected. “In fact, if he’d like, I’m certain we could shrink him down enough to fit inside.”

Almonihah shot the mage a suspicious look, but Zakhin’Dakh cooed, Really? Cool! After a moment’s thought, he added, Go back big later?

“He wants to make sure he’ll return to his normal size,” Almonihah translated, still looking suspicious.

“Oh, of course, of course. It’ll just take a moment with one of our transmutation specialists,” the lead mage said, gesturing to one of the other mages. Said other wizard chanted a brief incantation and disappeared. “You’ll simply have to wait a moment.”

The griffon knight took a moment to suppress the disappointment on his face, but said nothing. Zakhin’Dakh, on the other hand nodded excitedly with a happy screech. He’d never been inside a human place before!

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Hmmmm… you should never trust wizards that have political power. It never ends well. 

Chapter 11-2

One of the Midport ships closed quickly, while the other hung back somewhat. As it drew near, Almonihah could make out several people watching warily from the prow, well-armed and armored. They soon saw him… or maybe Zakhin’Dakh behind him, which caused a stir among them, but no weapons were raised.

Once the ship was nearly alongside theirs, it executed an impossibly agile turn (some of the sailors muttered about the mages of Midport showing off) and soon was next to them, matching their speed.

“We’re coming aboard,” shouted one of the group. “Keep your hands where you can see them, and that beast under control.”

Hey! Zakhin’Dakh shrieked, indignantly.

“Calm down, Zakhin’Dakh. He’s just being a typical human,” Almonihah said, pitching his voice just loud enough to be heard on the other ship.

“You’re welcome aboard,” the captain called back, trying to head off any kind of confrontation. “Much more welcome than those ships behind us.”

One of the men on the other ship waved, and a translucent archway formed between the two ships. Across it walked about a dozen men, most clearly men-at-arms, but a couple dressed in the robes of magi. One of said magi walked straight towards Almonihah, past the captain and the others waiting to greet them.

“You are the dragon-man that passed through our city some time ago, yes? And that is your griffon. But there was not another dragon-man with you,” he stated, looking at Garkhen.

“Ah, no,” Garkhen agreed gently. “I only recently became acquainted with Almonihah and Zakhin’Dakh. Having been born in the south, I have never before had the opportunity to visit Midport.”

“Hmmm,” the mage replied, eyeing them suspiciously. “And what brings you to Midport with pirates in your wake?”

“These dragon-men, as you call them, and their griffon friend, saved us from the pirates,” the ship’s captain explained. “We’ve escaped in one of the pirates’ ships, which likely explains why they’re after us.”

One of the armored men laughed. “Stole back one of the ships they stole, did you? That’ll rile them up, that’s for sure.”

“Hmmmm,” the robed man eyed them all again. “And what were these dragon-men doing that they were in position to be freeing pirate captives?”
“Trying t’ get t’ Midport,” Almonihah stated. “Ended up stranded on th’ Pirate Isle instead.”

The mage looked at Almonihah suspiciously for a little while, then suddenly turned. “Very well, I am satisfied. They can pass.”

The rest of his group seemed a bit surprised, but followed as he went back over to the Midport ship. Once they were back aboard, the magic bridge disappeared. One of the armored men turned back and shouted over, “Keep on course to Midport, we’ll see to these pirates!”

A ragged cheer went up from the former prisoners as the Midport ship again turned with impossible agility, signaling its companion with a flash of magic. Together the two ships raced to meet the pirate ships while the other ship sailed onward toward Midport.

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Hmmmm… things are going awfully well right now…

Chapter 11-1

Chapter 11: Tower of Mages

“There are times when secrets must be kept, it is true… but much more often, I find them dangerous. So often they are tools used to seek power over others, ones that are difficult to fight as they are unknown. And so I am always wary of those who would hide their purposes from others, for I fear in their heart they dream themselves kings.” — Garkhen

One of the freed slaves was a mage skilled in wind magic, so they made good time. On the second day they saw sails behind them, but they didn’t draw much closer over the next week. But about eight days out from the pirate base, Zakhin’Dakh dove back down towards the deck in the middle of one of his frequent “I’m bored with sitting around” flights.

More things that way! He screeched to Almonihah, pointing ahead of the ship.

“Ships?” Almonihah asked in Common, for the sake of everyone else around.

The big griffon nodded. Yeah!

“How many ships?”

Two!

“Zakhin’Dakh says there’s two ships ahead ‘f us,” Almonihah translated.

This was hardly taken as welcome news, but there was nothing for it. If they turned one way or the other, the ships behind them might catch up, and those ones they knew were pirates. These ones… well, they could hope.

It wasn’t long before the lookouts could see the sails, and then everyone aboard the ship. It was a long, tense time, however, until anyone could tell whose ships they were.

“They’re flying Midport’s flag!” One of the lookouts called out, to be greeted with weary cheers.

The tension was not entirely gone as they neared the pair of ships, for pirates were known to fly false flags, but the closer they came, the more it seemed they were who they proclaimed they were. Soon enough a mage on the prow of the first of the pair of ships called out, his voice magically carried on the wind, “Who are you to sail with no flag?”

“Escaped prisoners, fleeing pirates,” the captain replied to the air, assuming the spell would carry his voice back. “If you’re hunting some, there’s at least a pair following us.”

There was a moment of silence before the voice returned. “Stand by to be inspected. If you’re who you say you are, you’re welcome to our protection… and we’ll want to ask you some questions. If not, you’ll find it was not wise to lie.” 

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Ooo, look at the ominous chapter title…