Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 10

Chapter 10-10

An arrow thunked into the wood of the tower next to Almonihah, and he turned to look at where it had come from. It seemed one of the other towers was manned by someone who had guessed at his distraction, though fortunately he hadn’t had the aim to match. Almonihah’s return shot didn’t strike home, either, but it got a lot closer… but he knew he couldn’t count on being lucky for too much longer.

He turned and fired a single arrow high into the air, then whirled and fired some more shots at the guards still up on the walls. He wanted to give his friends the best chance he could.

Zakhin’Dakh perked up as he saw the glowing arrow flying upward, then took to the air. Garkhen held on as the big griffon sped towards the wall, homing in on one of the other towers. Too late the archer heard the flapping of great wings before huge talons tore into him. Arrows rose up to meet him, but Garkhen was chanting a spell-prayer of warding, deflecting them away from Zakhin’Dakh as he wheeled and dove towards the archers firing at him. They scattered, but not all could avoid his talons.

With the two half-dragons and griffon drawing so much attention, the other raiders had been able to reach their goal. The spreading group of pirates within the fort found itself met by silent shapes in the darkness, while others reached the slave pens. Soon Almonihah could hear the shouts of freed slaves, now armed against their captors, spilling out into the tight streets of the fort.

Zakhin’Dakh continued assaulting anyone who fired an arrow in his direction, or towards others he knew were his friends, while Almonihah kept up his withering barrage of fire at any pirates he could identify. But the pirate fort was large, and he thought he saw a lot more torches over too far for him to shoot. They didn’t have much time.

The pirates nearby were mostly dead or in hiding by now, so the raiders started separating out the freed slaves. “Any who can sail, with us to the ships!”

Zakhin’Dakh continued harrying any pirates who tried to stop them as the former slaves and their saviors split into two groups—one headed back over the wall, the other down to the docks, where one large ship lay near-ready to sail. Any pirates that had once guarded it had fallen in the battle or fled, and so the freed sailors were able to board unopposed, covered by griffon and half-dragons.

There was a moment’s reprieve, while they rushed to ready the ship to cast off while the raiders faded back into the woods with the other freed slaves who would not sail today. Then Almonihah saw a large mass of lights coming towards them from the rest of the fort, and took off towards the boat. Zakhin’Dakh saw and followed.

They landed on deck just as the sailors cast off, still working to get all of the sails out, but with enough already catching a gentle breeze to start the ship moving. A shout sounded behind them as the pirate counter-attack drew close enough for some to see what was happening, and Garkhen hurriedly dismounted and ran to the aft of the ship, chanting another spell-prayer to ward off the few arrows that reached them as they got underway.

A palpable sense of relief swept the motley crew as they drew far enough from the shore that no more arrows struck Garkhen’s ward. The man at the tiller looked back over the odd lot on deck and called out to the half-dragons, “Thanks for the rescue! Never thought I’d get out of that hole, much less back to my ship. Anything I can do for you or your friends back there, I will, and I’m sure the rest of this lot agrees!”

A ragged cheer rose as Almonihah turned and walked towards him. “Get us t’ Midport, fast ‘s you can, ‘nd that’ll be all we need.”

“Hear that, lads? All he wants is what we already wanted. Now get to it! Let’s not be around when that lot back there gets it in their heads to sail after us.”

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Whew! It took a long time to finish this chapter. But there’s more Almonihah art! And our heroes are at last back on their way! I’m sure nothing else can go wrong… 

Chapter 10-9

The hum of bowstrings warned the sentries too late, and those on this side of the wall fell before they could so much as shout. But their fall was not unnoticed, and soon cries of alarm sounded from within the stockade.

Almonihah swiftly flew forward, outpacing the warriors now charging from the jungle as he swooped up to one of the towers now emptied of its sentry. Once in place he quickly took stock of the situation—mostly just sentries on other sections of the wall were moving, but there seemed to be a few people quickly darting between buildings. They might be their allies, freeing slaves… or enemies, waking reinforcements.

He couldn’t tell from here, even with his draconic eyesight. And so he turned his bow on the other sentries, arrows blazing in the night as they streaked towards their targets. Without the element of surprise it was much more difficult for him to kill at this distance, but his arrows did keep them on the defensive, scrambling for cover instead of firing on his allies charging across the cleared ground to the walls.

Garkhen, meanwhile, was seated on Zakhin’Dakh’s back, strapped into the saddle as he waited anxiously for the signal. The big griffon, was tense, nervously scratching at the ground as he thought of his friend in danger without him.

The first of the warriors reached the wall, slinging ropes with rough grapnels up to hook onto the top of the stockade, and then lightly climbing up. More followed as the first ones reached the top of the wall, and soon Almonihah had to be wary of where he shot his arrows on the wall, as well.

A loud shout came from within the compound, and several torches blazed to life as a group of men poured out of one of the buildings. Peering at them, the half-bronze dragon could see that they did not have the look of desperate, recently-freed slaves, and that they were well-armed, and so he turned his bow on them. After a couple arrows struck home the group scattered somewhat, spreading out to avoid making it so easy to hit one of them. 

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I know, another short post. Sorry! But look

Why is Almonihah fighting a half-silver dragon? Why is his form so terrible? And when is this happening? Well… I’ll just say it’s a hint of the things to come in the next Draezoln book! Now I just need to finish this one… 

Chapter 10-8

The preparations took days. There were agents to contact, plans to review, revise, or reject, provisions to gather, weapons and skills to sharpen, and a host of other tasks to improve their chances of success. The three friends were hardly left out of this work—their parts would be just as vital to the attack as any others’. And when they were not training or discussing plans, the village always need another pair of strong arms (or a huge griffon) for the more ordinary tasks of life so that others could prepare for the battle ahead.

The basics of the plan were simple—their agents in the pirate base would stash some weapons near the slave pens, then watch for a day when most of the pirates were gone on a raid but at least one seaworthy ship was still in port. Then they would signal the others. That night they would attack from without, while those inside would open the slave pens and distribute what weapons they had brought among the slaves, who would then fight from within.

They did not think they could destroy the pirate base entirely, which surprised Almonihah and Garkhen. Rather, they hoped that the chaos would be sufficient for the half-dragons and Zakhin’Dakh to get to a ship with a number of former slaves and depart before all of the pirates awakened and armed themselves.

Waiting for the right day took longer even than the preparations, leaving much time to debate the finer points of the plan and argue back and forth over small details. But finally the signal came. The rest of the day was spent gathering all they had prepared and stealthily moving through the jungle towards the pirate base (Zakhin’Dakh stayed some distance away, in a clearing he could take off from).

Once night was fully fallen, Almonihah and a couple dozen elven archers, keen-eyed even in the dim light of a crescent moon, came to the edge of the jungle around the pirates’ stockade. No watch-fires burned, for the pirate sentries had learned they only made targets easier to see while ruining their own night vision. But still they could be made out, a handful of dark shapes slowly moving about, only partly obscured behind their fortifications.

The archers quietly nocked arrows. Two or three aimed at each sentry. Then they drew back their bowstrings…  

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I apologize for missing a week last week and then having a short post today. My weekends have been full of activities with friends and family, as have many of my weekday evenings.

Chapter 10-2

Try as he might, Almonihah could catch only glimpses of their captors. He could tell they were all around his friends as they led them through the jungle, but they moved like they were part of the trees. All that Garkhen or Zakhin’Dakh could keep track of was the voice ahead of them, telling them which way to go.

Eventually they stopped, in a patch of jungle that seemed much like the others.

“You will wait here,” their guide said, still concealed in the underbrush ahead of them, “While I go and inform the council of your presence.”

And with that, he was gone. They waited for a long, tense time… maybe an hour, Almonihah guessed. At last someone returned… and this time they showed their faces.

A small party of people—three elves, two humans, and even a dwarf—emerged from the jungle. The elves moved like their brethren, unseen and unheard until they chose to reveal themselves. The other three… well, they weren’t as bad as Garkhen or Zakhin’Dakh, but the elves certainly put their skills to shame.

“Well!” The dwarf exclaimed as he made his way into view. “This is quite the little group, eh?”

“Well-armed, clearly dangerous,” one of the humans remarked, looking at the two half-dragons and the griffon suspiciously.

“The bronze one moves as if elf-trained,” one of the three elves commented—their guide, from his voice.

Another of the elves, the only female of the group, held up her hand as if to stop the discussion. “We will hear them out before making our judgments,” she firmly stated.

“Yes,” the third elf agreed. “What brings so unusual a group to our shores?”

“Javni’Tolkhrah,” Almonihah stated, flatly. “Madness-Touched. Big one attacked our ship, so we drew it off ‘nd landed here.”

“Why didn’t you return to your ship?” The suspicious human asked.

Almonihah glanced over at Garkhen. He didn’t really want to talk about it…

Garkhen sighed. “We carry something that we wish to destroy, which seems to attract such creatures.”

That caused some rapid discussion amongst the small group.

“We certainly don’t want something like that here!” The suspicious human said, loudly enough for the three to hear.

The other human, quiet until now, spoke up. “And yet such a thing would hardly be less dangerous in the hands of the pirates.”

“I don’t know, maybe it’d get some of them eaten!”

Things continued in this vein for a while, until the female elf again cut the rest of the group off. Once they were quiet, she turned to Garkhen.

“What is the nature of this item you carry?” She asked. “It seems we shall decide little without knowing more of it.”

“Dangerous,” Almonihah stated, scowling. “Not safe t’ talk about.”

“It… has shown the ability to tamper with memories and desires, yes,” Garkhen said to his friend, “But I think speaking of it is safe, so long as we do not remove it from its protections.” He turned to the group questioning them. “We do not know its true nature, save that it is difficult to destroy and possessed of considerable chaotic powers. We know not how to destroy it, for which purpose we were going to the mages of Midport. And we have had no desire to experiment with its powers. But it seems capable of drawing the Madness-Touched to it of its own accord.”

“We have no more desire to bring trouble upon you than you have to receive it, but we have no way to safely dispose of it. I fear that, were it cast into the ocean or deep in the earth, it would twist the animals or the soil itself to its purposes. We must destroy it… we need only know how.”

Almonihah growled, unhappy at how much Garkhen had revealed… but it was too late now.

The six were silent for a long moment, taking in what the half-blue dragon had said. At last the elven woman looked at her companions. All nodded at her, though the louder human seemed reluctant.

She turned back to the three companions. “Then we must aid you.” 

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Gasp! Help? But can they trust it? 

Chapter 10-1

Chapter 10: The Price of Shipping

“The ends do not justify the means, nor the means the ends. That the goal was righteous does not excuse evil deeds, nor do good deeds cover an evil heart.”

“And yet does this mean that evil deeds can never be done to stop a greater evil? My heart says no, but my mind…”

It wasn’t long before Zakhin’Dakh wanted to hunt. Almonihah wanted to get further from where they’d been spotted, however, so he urged his friend to fly a little further.

When he spotted some prey below, however… there was no stopping him.

Almonihah kept a wary eye out for any pursuit while Zakhin’Dakh ate and Garkhen stretched his legs. He doubted anyone could follow them very quickly through that thick of jungle, but… it never hurt to be sure.

Zakhin’Dakh had just about finished eating when the Ranger heard a soft sound. He nocked an arrow and raised his bow… only to spot three arrows pointed at him.

“Your ears are keen, dragon-man,” an elven voice said. “But you are outnumbered, and our arrows fly true. Put down your weapons.”

Almonihah growled softly, and Zakhin’Dakh growled much more loudly. Looking around, Garkhen raised his hands.

“My friends, I do not think it wise to fight…”

Almonihah just bared his teeth in response… but slowly, he lowered his bow, and stored his arrow back in his quiver. Zakhin’Dakh kept a wary eye on all the arrows pointed at them, but he stopped growling.

“Now,” the elven voice said, “You will follow us, and we will see what we should do with you.”

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Yeah, a short post because I had too much fun with my time off. But hey, another cliffhanger!