Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Book 3 Chapter 14

Chapter 14-8

Garkhen, now thinking his friends safe enough, immediately fell asleep, too exhausted to stay conscious.

It did not take long to mop up the remaining Javni’Tolkhrah after that, but Zakhin’Dakh was hardly the only wounded, and there were many dead among the griffon-riders. It was a weary and wounded lot that flew back into Midport after the battle, many splitting off to visit various healers and priests in the city. Captain Theris found them and waved them over.

“We’ve not enough healers for everyone, but that wound takes priority over some,” he shouted as the three friends neared. They could see that he and his griffon both bore a few cuts and scratches of their own, but nothing too serious. “This way.”

He led them over the city to what was obviously the religious district of the city. A number of different temples—most of them to Mashano, but also a few to some other deities—seemed to compete with one another for beauty and size. A number of griffons had already landed in the various plazas and squares scattered about the area, with priests and acolytes rushing out to tend to them.

The Rider Captain landed in one of the less-crowded plazas and waved over one of the priests, pointing to the larger griffon descending behind him.

“Look to that leg—check it for poison, and stop the bleeding, at the least,” Theris ordered.

“And I suppose you’re confident that your own wounds aren’t poisoned?” The priest asked, already moving over to Zakhin’Dakh as he landed, keeping his weight off his injured leg. “Don’t answer that, I have something that will handle it.”

He pulled out a large amulet, which seemed built around a straight white horn.

“Unicorn,” he stated, briefly touching it to some of the blood trickling from Zakhin’Dakh’s injured leg. He examined it as he continued, “Given willingly, at the noble creature’s death, to one of my predecessors, or so the story goes.”

He seemed satisfied by what he saw. “You’re lucky. Whatever it was just had big teeth, not big poisonous teeth.” The priest murmured some words and waved a hand over Zakhin’Dakh’s wounds, and the bleeding stopped.

He quickly examined his work. “It will heal naturally, now, if it’s dressed. I doubt we’ve the power to spare for more right now.”

Almonihah, who had been trailing behind, landed behind Zakhin’Dakh while the priest went over to Captain Theris. The big griffon looked back at his friend.

Hurts, but not lots, he screeched.

Almonihah nodded. “Let’s see about getting ‘t cleaned up ‘nd bandaged, now.”

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Just a bit of time to calm down and clean up after the big battle. Next week, it’ll be a new chapter! This is getting fairly close to the end now–chapter 19 or 20 will probably be the last one, by my current plan. 

Chapter 14-6

Without being told, Zakhin’Dakh dove for the ground, shriek-roaring his battle challenge. There were, indeed, a large number of assorted Javni’Tolkhrah that had slipped through one of the mountain passes while the aerial battle raged and were now making their way down towards the steep slopes and cliffs that dropped down to Midport.

“Don’t know how they plan t’ get down,” Almonihah commented, again nocking an arrow to his bow, “But I don’t plan t’ find out.”

He fired just as Zakhin’Dakh plowed into the first one, tearing into it with talon and beak. Almonihah’s arrow struck home in the shoulder of another monstrosity as the big griffon put down the first. Garkhen, weariness wearing at him, still spat out a bolt of lightning through the horde, then braced his wards for the retaliation.

But there was none. The Javni’Tolkhrah simply charged past, towards the city, as more of the griffon-riders dove down around them to join the fray. Even with all this, the Madness-Touched simply charged forward, many dying as they left themselves open to griffons and riders, but some still getting through. Almonihah refocused his attention on those already past, while some of the griffon-riders moved to take off again.

“No! Stand your ground!” Captain Theris suddenly shouted from above, flying back towards the cliffs the Javni’Tolkhrah were headed for. “You’ll let more through if you take off again! Leave these to us!”

The handful of riders with him dove down into the remaining Madness-Touched, tearing into them with talon and blade. Somehow, they managed to finish them before any of them reached the cliffs, though a couple died just as they reached it. And still, the Javni’Tolkhrah poured in… and now that so many griffon-riders were grounded, the aerial battle was growing desperate.

Then there was a tremendous blast of flames. Almonihah glanced back.

“Looks like th’ wizards arrived,” he commented.

Standing on a half-dozen assorted wooden platforms which were now hovering in midair were some of the remaining mages of the Mages’ Guild. All were staring into the melee, and here and there, one threw a bolt of lightning or a ball of fire, whereever there was a gap in the griffon-riders sufficient to do so relatively safely.

With their addition, the tide of battle again began to turn back against the monstrosities still pouring in over the mountains. At last, their stream of reinforcements began to slacken.

Garkhen frowned as he struggled to remain aware of his surroundings. “There is something… do you hear that?”

Almonihah grunted while continuing to fire his arrows, not sparing the time for a more understandable response in the midst of battle.

Before Garkhen could say more, however, the source of his worry appeared. Trundling over the top of the mountain into view, a horrific creature came. It was enormous, large as the greatest of dragons… nor was that the end of its draconic features. At the end of a long neck it had two great, toothy maws, stacked upon one another, with eyes scattered about its head nonsensically. From snout to tail it was covered in slate-gray scales, and it moved on a dozen clawed feet.

Almonihah turned his bow on it. “Least it doesn’t have wings,” he growled as he began firing.

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Yeah, that might be bad. Apologies for not posting last week. I blame it entirely on Civ VI.

This Javni’Tolkhrah may or may not be inspired by this picture

Chapter 14-4

The lead griffon-rider’s eyes widened. “What? Where are they?”

“We lost sight of them some time back,” Garkhen replied, as Zakhin’Dakh began to descend towards the city. “But given what we carry, I rather doubt they have lost track of us.”

“Well why did you bring it here, then?” The leader cried, expression hardening.

“Better ‘an in th’ hands of Chaos Mages,” Almonihah growled in reply. “What, Mages’ Guild didn’t tell you?”

“The Mages’ Guild has had a… civil war of sorts,” the griffon-rider replied, grimly. “And I rather suspect what you carry was the catalyst for it. But if Chaos Mages seek what you bear, we are, at least, agreed that they cannot have it. Come.” He turned his griffon about and began flying towards the spires of the Mages’ Guild.

Zakhin’Dakh screeched tiredly and tried to follow, but his wings didn’t seem to want to work. Almonihah shouted, “We have t’ land. Zakhin’Dakh here’s been flying flat-out for hours, no way he can make ‘t across th’ city now.”

“Then walk,” the lead griffon-rider called back. “I will bring word ahead, that we may begin to prepare our defenses.”

Zakhin’Dakh’s wings were exhausted, but his legs were not, nor were Almonihah’s. Garkhen rode on the big griffon’s back as they made their way through Midport, his shorter legs too much of a liability when haste was needed. They saw others up and about, starting their day, though they often spared a curious glance for the odd group as they passed by. Almonihah kept glancing back, hoping he wouldn’t see smoke rising at the edge of the city.

Thus far, the morning was quiet.

When they reached the Mages’ Guild, however, it was clear that things had not been quiet overnight. Two of the guild’s spires lay toppled, and several others were scorched or otherwise damaged. The griffon-rider from earlier was near the entrance, speaking with a robed man—the head Archmage at the table when they had first arrived in town. His expression was grave as the three friends approached.

“You survive,” he noted, rather unnecessarily. “Good. Though I wish you did not come trailing quite so many foes, given the obvious capabilities of that Amulet, I prefer knowing it is in your hands rather than that of the Chaos Mages. Unfortunately, I do not think we will have sufficient time to discover the secret of its destruction before those Madness-Touched reach us. And given our recent civil war, we are ill-prepared to face them.”

“Civil war?” Garkhen repeated. “What has happened here?”

“It would appear that there were a number of Chaos Mages in our guild,” the Archmage replied, the very calmness of his voice somehow speaking of his anger. “Apparently they thought the time to reveal themselves was upon them. Why Illusin helped you when he was one of them, I do not know…”

“Because he thought he was sending us t’ our deaths,” Almonihah growled, eyes narrowed. “Underestimated us. Was close, though. Still is close.”

“Indeed,” the Archmage responded. “I fear you shall have little time to rest. Already our wards in the mountains are alerting us to the approaching horde. Given your involvement in this matter, I assume you shall go to the front lines of our defense…?”

Garkhen nodded. “Of course.”

The Archmage looked over at the griffon-rider. “Good. Captain Theris here will instruct you as to our preparations.”

The griffon-rider nodded. “They’re coming from all across the southeastern mountains. How they’re getting down the cliffs into the city, I don’t know, but I’d rather not find out. We’re marshaling in the square in front of Castle Midport. We’ve got some priests there who can do something for your wounds and fatigue. Come!”

He mounted his griffon and took off again, flying south. Zakhin’Dakh, still exhausted, followed on the ground, Garkhen on his back, while Almonihah jogged alongside.

The sun was fully up by the time they arrived. The square was huge, but full of activity. Zakhin’Dakh had never seen so many griffons in one place at once! Even when he’d visited the griffon-riders’ aerie, they’d been scattered around too much for him to see many of them. But there was no time for him to socialize, for Captain Theris, seeing the three friends arrived, called for attention.

“Riders of Midport! We face now perhaps our greatest threat—hordes of Madness-Touched stream towards our city, and our mighty wizards are too broken by their own battle to give us much aid. But we cannot afford to let the monsters into Midport. And that is why they,” he gestured at the two half-dragons and griffon, “Will be coming with us. See that glowing pack? That’s what all of the Madness-Touched are after. They’ll come to it, and we’ll kill them as they come, or die. I know which one of those I’d prefer, so you’d better not let me down. Now, we ride!”

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I had to come up with another name. In other news, Captain Theris is perhaps not the best at rousing speeches.

Chapter 14-3

Where go? Zakhin’Dakh asked.

“That way,” Almonihah responded, pointing to what he thinks is the northwest. “If we hit th’ coast, we can follow it to Midport. Just have t’ hope we’re not too far.”

With that, the half-bronze dragon turned to look back at the Javni’Tolkhrah following them. He was right—none of them were fast enough to keep up with Zakhin’Dakh. He briefly considered firing some arrows at them, but didn’t think he could while the big griffon was flying away at full speed, especially not backwards. Besides, they weren’t really a threat right now… and they were so interesting, such a varied lot…

“…monihah, you are still holding the Amulet!” Garkhen’s insistent voice broke into Almonihah’s reverie.

“Hm?” Almonihah lazily turned back and looked at his hands. Sure enough, there it was, in one of his hands gripping the saddle. Funny, that. He remembered planning to do something else with it, but it worked there…

“Quickly! Put it in my pack!” The Warder, strapped in the saddle could afford using both hands to open and offer his pack to the other half-dragon.

Slowly, the realization that something was wrong percolated through Almonihah’s thoughts. Slowly he released his grip on the saddle with the hand holding the Amulet, and brought it up over Garkhen’s pack. But then…

“I can’t let go,” Almonihah commented, dreamily. “Hand won’t open.” It seemed kind of funny to him, somehow.

“You cannot?” Garkhen repeated, dismayed. Thinking quickly, he dug through his memory and called up a spell-prayer for reinforcing will. Lifting one hand from his pack to his symbol of Bahamut, he prayed for his god’s aid for his friend.

Slowly, the haze over Almonihah’s mind lifted, and his expression went from one of vacant bemusement to one of angry focus. Gradually his fingers began to open, until at last, the Amulet dropped into Garkhen’s pack. It continued to glow brightly, colors shifting in sickening patterns, shining even through the leather of the pack.

Almonihah growled, shaking his head. “Hate that thing. Messing with my head. Can’t destroy ‘t fast enough.”

Garkhen nodded, but said nothing, instead putting his pack back on. For some reason he suspected the Amulet would try to fall out if he let it, and so he made triple-sure his pack was buckled closed before replacing it.

They gradually left their pursuers behind… until all of a sudden, as a group, the Javni’Tolkhrah turned and dove, soon disappearing out of sight even to draconic eyes in the darkness.

“Don’t like that…” Almonihah commented. “Still, you can probably slow down a bit, Zakhin’Dakh.”

The big griffon screeched a tired acknowledgment. Flying that hard had worn him out, and they still hadn’t seen any familiar terrain, though it could well be that the night’s darkness cloaked their goal from sight. Zakhin’Dakh stretched out his wings and stopped flapping nearly so often, soaring and gliding instead of flapping hard. He was still tired, but they dared not stop, not knowing what the Javni’Tolkhrah were doing.

At last, the first light of dawn started to gleam in the sky, just in time to reveal the spires of Midport on the horizon, visible between the dramatic peaks they were flying around. Soon enough Zakhin’Dakh was descending towards the city, aching wings just barely functional after so long a flight.

A half-dozen griffon-riders rose to meet them. Their leader recognized the odd little group. “You’ve returned! Though I was not informed you had left…” he began.

“No time t’ talk,” Almonihah shouted back. “We’ve got a horde of Javni’Tolkhrah on our tails, and no idea when or where they’ll show up!”

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Not quite a cliffhanger here, I guess… 

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, here’s a rare picture of Almonihah smiling.

Chapter 14-1

Chapter 14: Desperation

“Things don’t always work out like stories. Sometimes none ‘f the choices are good, ‘nd just living’s the best you can do.”

None of the Javni’Tolkhrah seemed to react as Zakhin’Dakh flew closer. Which wasn’t to say any of the group were happy about what they saw. More monstrosities than they had ever seen flew and prowled around the source of the light. Almonihah could just barely make out a man standing at the center… holding something above him.

“Think that’s th’ Amulet,” he said, unnecessarily.

Garkhen nodded. “But what are we to do about it? I fear we cannot face so many in open combat…”

Almonihah growled. “Well we can’t just turn around. Only going t’ get worse.”

“Indeed,” Garkhen agreed, “But that leaves us with the question of what to do.”

They were all silent for a few moments, save for Zakhin’Dakh’s wingflaps. Almonihah stared at the gathering of Javni’Tolkhrah.

“Not a one ‘f them look like they can fly well,” he commented. “Bet you could outfly ’em all, Zakhin’Dakh.”

The big griffon screeched proudly in response to this praise. But Almonihah was still considering the sight below them.

“Think ‘f I shot that guy it’d break whatever spell’s going on?”

“It seems our best chance,” Garkhen replied doubtfully, “Though it seems it will be a difficult task.”

Almonihah grunted as he nocked an arrow. “Just try t’ hold steady, Zakhin’Dakh.”

For a few agonizing moments, the half-bronze dragon held his bowstring taut, looking for an opening. At last he loosed… but his arrow struck one of the many monstrosities circling the man and the Amulet. It roared in pain and swerved, leaving the swarm to chase after the three friends.

The Ranger growled back and fired another arrow, this time aiming at it deliberately. It dipped slightly as his arrow struck it in the shoulder, but it kept coming. His next arrow only skimmed its head. His third arrow, however, pierced its skull, and it tumbled from the sky.

“Least we could pick ’em off,” Almonihah commented. “’less they changed their minds and all came after us.”

“As they likely would,” Garkhen agreed. “And so…”

“Keep shooting,” Almonihah stated, nocking another arrow.

He waited a long time to take his shot, watching for the perfect opening as Zakhin’Dakh slowly circled around the swirling mass of monsters. Finally he fired, his arrow sailing straight through a gap between two Javni’Tolkhrah and shearing through the man’s arm and into his chest.

None of the Javni’Tolkhrah so much as looked in their direction. Nor did the man lower the amulet he held. Almonihah growled.

“Not sure that guy’s even alive any more,” Almonihah stated after peering for a little while longer at his target. “Doesn’t seem like he matters, at least.”

 Garkhen nodded solemnly. “And so, now what are we to do?”

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Wheee, cliffhanger!