Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 4

Chapter 4-8

Almonihah grunted as he only mostly dodged the beast’s heavy claws. The impact dazed him a bit, and he was sure he’d be bruised, but he didn’t feel any blood. Of course, if he didn’t get away from it soon that might change…

 

Zakhin’Dakh was paralyzed by indecision. Both of his friends were in trouble! Which one should he help first? Almonihah, or Garkhen?

 

The half-blue dragon finally managed to work one of his arms free, and he frantically tried to focus on the words and gestures of a spell-prayer. Somehow he managed it, and suddenly he swelled up to twice his normal size, giving him the strength and leverage (and surprise) to roll out from under his foe. Now he could finally see the Javni’Tolkhrah that had been trying to kill him. It was vaguely crocodile-like, though with the size of an elephant (or perhaps more) and six taloned legs, arranged in two sets of three. 

 

Seeing this, Zakhin’Dakh charged at the one attacking Almonihah, figuring that Garkhen could handle himself now. He let loose a war shriek as he plowed into the ursine creature’s flank, just before it could strike his friend again. It roared in pain as the griffon’s talons dug into its hide, and turned to try to bite at this new threat.

 

Almonihah saw his opportunity, and in one smooth motion he drew Zithrandrak and tumbled to one side, then jabbed the blade in between the monstrosity’s ribs. Blood spurted out, as if under incredible pressure, coating the Ranger in blood.

 

He grit his teeth as he suddenly felt as if he were afire. Acidic blood. He dropped to the ground and rolled around, desperately trying to rub the blood off before it did any serious harm to him… then he heard a heavy thump and a screech.

 

Zakhin’Dakh!

 

Too late, he tried to shout out a warning, but before he could, he heard a crunch, followed by a wail of pain. Instead of a warning, Almonihah shouted, “Get it off fast!” Then pain drove him to resume his own efforts to do the same.

 

Garkhen was on his feet at last, but without weapon or shield. The Javni’Tolkhrah came at him with maw open wide, and the half-dragon did the first thing that came to mind, reaching out and seizing the beast’s jaws just as it tried to bite him. He blessed the fact that his gauntlets armored even his palms as he found purchase on the monster’s teeth, and somehow held it back. He inhaled, then exhaled a bolt of lightning straight into the creature’s mouth. 

 

It stumbled backwards, twitching… and its scales turned to blue. After a moment, it spat a bolt of lightning back at Garkhen. It didn’t hurt him—more of a pleasant tingle, really—but he didn’t think he’d be able to harm it with his breath again. Instead, he dodged to the side when it lunged forward again, only getting grazed as it went past. Then he turned and slashed at it with his own claws, drawing thin lines of blood from its flanks. 

 

It turned, striking Garkhen with the side of its head. He stumbled backward a step, but then slashed at it again. He wasn’t getting anywhere with his claws… the Warder quickly stepped back as it snapped at him again, then murmured a spell-prayer. A wall of shimmering light sprung up in front of him, giving him time to turn and grab Silverflame. It grew to match his current stature as he took it in his hand, and he turned back to dismiss his warding wall. His foe stumbled forward, surprised by the sudden vanishing of the barrier, giving Garkhen the opportunity to strike.

 

His mace flared with holy flame as it struck the creature’s skull, but the beast shrugged it off. It reared, scratching at him with its many claws, but Garkhen’s armor held. When it came down on its feet again, he was ready. Again Silverflame came down, this time with all his might behind it. With a crunch, the beast shuddered and finally fell still.

 

The Warder turned, to see his allies writhing on the ground. He rushed over, calling upon Bahamut to heal them in a spell-prayer. Their wounds began to mend, but he soon saw that they were still being injured by something on them… blood? 

 

“Acid!” Almonihah gasped out, and Garkhen reacted quickly. He murmured a different spell-prayer to neutralize the acid, touching each of them. Soon they stopped their pained writhing, and were able to take stock of their situation.

 

“That… wasn’t good,” the half-bronze dragon observed. 

 

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Almonihah gets the understatement of the month award. =P 

Chapter 4-7

Wake up!”

 

Garkhen arose with a start at Almonihah’s shout, just in time to hear his bow hum and a beast roar. Shaking off his sleepiness, the half-blue dragon hurried to his pack and spoke the command word for his armor. Even over the clatter of armor plates, he could hear Zakhin’Dakh’s shrill shriek as he joined in the combat.

 

Almonihah growled quietly as he loosed another arrow. It was another Javni’Tolkhrah—this one like some sort of bipedal, winged shark, of all things. With, of course, obligatory non-symmetrical clawed appendages. Now that Zakhin’Dakh was circling around behind it, though, he figured it wouldn’t last much longer.

 

Garkhen grabbed Silverflame as his armor finished putting itself on him. He was just about to join his allies when something heavy struck him from behind, knocking him to the ground with a loud crash. He gasped as the wind was knocked out of him, then gritted his teeth as a weight slammed down on his back. Claws scrabbled and screeched against his armor, trying to find purchase.

 

“Three!” Almonihah exclaimed incredulously, switching targets from the shark-creature to the vaguely ursine beast that had just burst from the ground. It seemed like a demented combination of bear, mole, and lizard, with a snake head on its furry tail. Its growl of pain as his arrow struck home in its shoulder sounded more like rocks grinding together than something living being should make.

 

Zakhin’Dakh, for his part, was faring well against the shark-thing. While its teeth looked deadly, so was the griffon’s beak, and his taloned forelegs were longer and stronger than the flailing limbs of his foe. He had slammed into it from the air, digging his talons deep into its flesh as he bore it to the ground, where now it scratched at his legs while he sought to finish it with his beak.

 

Garkhen still had not caught sight of whatever had him pinned to the ground. It certainly had quite a bit of weight to it, however, as his struggling had yet to dislodge it, and even though it had yet to penetrate his armor, yet he was being slowly crushed simply by it leaning upon him. He flailed weakly with his tail, slapping ineffectually at his foe, as he struggled to free at least an arm.

 

There was a loud crunch, and then Zakhin’Dakh shrieked in triumph as the shark-beast quit struggling. He looked up and saw a big wolf-thing with way too many legs standing on Garkhen and scrabbling at his armor. With another shriek he charged over to help.

 

Almonihah had taken to the air, harrying the bear-mole with arrows. Flying around made it difficult to aim, but the thing was a big target, so he generally at least hit some part of it. He flew a bit further on, trying to ignore the thought of voices in the wind, then landed and took more careful aim. The stupid thing came running straight at him, which gave him plenty of time to line up a shot and stick an arrow right between its eyes. 

 

The surprising thing was that it didn’t seem too bothered by the arrow sticking out of its head.

 

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Apologies for the late post… so here, have a cliffhanger!

Chapter 4-6

The big griffon flew with renewed enthusiasm, now that they had another lead, but soon his energy waned as the sun neared the horizon. 

 

“Have t’ rest soon,” Almonihah grumbled.

 

Garkhen nodded. “Perhaps we should rest earlier rather than later? We might be able to spot a fire in the darkness, but we had best be well-rested before confronting them, yes?”

 

Almonihah grunted. “Suppose.”

 

Zakhin’Dakh descended without having to be instructed, giving his agreement with his actions. He landed a bit clumsily, and his half-bronze dragon friend patted him as he dismounted.

 

Good job, Zakhin’Dakh. Sorry we tired you out so much.

 

Is okay. Not that tired.

 

Yeah, you’re not. Almonihah snorted in clear disbelief.

 

“Is he well?” Garkhen asked after they were silent for a moment, looking concerned.

 

“He’s fine,” Almonihah growled in reply. “Just not used t’ carrying people in full armor.” 

 

Garkhen nodded. “I see.” He turned to Zakhin’Dakh. “I apologize for my additional weight, Zakhin’Dakh.” 

 

Is okay! Zakhin’Dakh screeched. Almonihah failed to translate.

 

The huge griffon settled down to rest, leaving his half-dragon friends to keep watch. With a sigh, Garkhen took off his armor, Almonihah by now unimpressed by the magic that aided him. They were silent as dusk and then night fell, the only sounds the shifting of scale against grass and stone.

 

Finally Garkhen broke the silence. “The moon is out now. Perhaps we should rouse Zakhin’Dakh?”

 

Almonihah grunted. “No sign ‘f anything ‘s far as I can see. Prob’ly best t’ just rest the night and not risk running int’ something if a cloud goes over th’ moon and we can’t see it.”

 

Garkhen sighed. “Perhaps you are correct. Still, I am loathe to allow the thieves to get farther ahead of us.”

 

“Prob’ly sleeping too. Can get up with th’ sun ‘nd get going before they do.”

 

Garkhen nodded slightly. “Very well, then.”

 

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Another short post, yes, but this finished out this chapter. I should be able to be a bit more on-the-ball with the next chapter.

Chapter 4-5

Fly lower, Zakhin’Dakh. Let’s look for signs ‘f travel,” Almonihah said.

 

The griffon nodded and gently descended, flying in widening circles only a couple dozen feet in the air. He and Almonihah looked around, searching for any signs of humanoids passing through the area. Garkhen looked as well, but he didn’t have the skill in searching for tracks. Instead he kept watch in the distance, trying to see if anything large enough to be a person was moving nearby. 

 

They kept searching until nightfall. Garkhen marveled quietly at the big griffon’s stamina—they had stopped only to eat and drink, and otherwise Zakhin’Dakh had been in the air. He did seem quite tired now, yet he still seemed energetic underneath the fatigue. 

 

“Better not ‘f lied to us,” Almonihah grumbled as Garkhen finished setting up his tent.

 

The half-blue dragon gave the other half-dragon a quizzical look. He grunted.

 

“Easy for Maritha t’ be th’ one working with them.”

 

Garkhen sighed. “While certainly I cannot completely rule out the possibility, it seemed she was genuinely shocked by the existence of the artifact. And given our lack of progress today, I suspect we have little choice…”

 

“Getting tired ‘f little choice,” Almonihah growled. “May have t’ come up with another choice soon…”

 

“Garkhen? Do you hear me?” Maritha’s voice suddenly spoke from midair. 

 

All three of the companions looked about, though Garkhen and Almonihah quickly guessed that it was a magical message of some sort.

 

“I do, Archivist Maritha,” the Warder responded. 

 

“Good, good. Well, that’s where you are. We’ve been able to get a better idea of where your quarry is. If you’re there…” There was a brief pause. “You’ll need to go roughly north-northeast. It seems like they’re changing direction a bit—maybe going around something?”

 

Garkhen looked over at the other half-dragon. “That seems reasonable. Certainly there are many obstacles here to travel on foot.”

 

“That’s another thing,” Maritha added. “They’re moving fairly quickly. They may be mounted.”

Garkhen nodded. “I see. Thank you, Archivist.”

 

“I think that’s all, then. Good luck, you two.”

 

Zakhin’Dakh screeched, and Garkhen grinned. “Ah, three, Archivist.”

 

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Just a short little bit here to keep things moving. It’s these connection bits I’m bad with. I have points planned out, but I sometimes struggle getting from one to the next.

Chapter 4-4

Hello again, Zakhin’Dakh,” Garkhen said, as he approached.

 

The griffon raised a talon and shook it in what seemed to be an attempt at a wave, combined with a screech that sounded friendly. Seeing this, Almonihah snorted in bemusement.

 

“Well, we should get moving,” he said. “I’ll saddle up Zakhin’Dakh, and we can go.”

 

Soon enough they were in the air, flying to the northwest. Soon signs of cultivation and grazing grew thin, and the land grew rocky and mountainous. 

 

So what look? Zakhin’Dakh screeched.

 

Almonihah, precariously positioned behind the saddle, replied, “Don’t really know what we’re looking for, Zakhin’Dakh. But not many good people around here.”

 

So people bad if see?

 

“Should at least check ‘f we see someone,” the half-dragon agreed. 

 

“We would not wish to be hasty in assuming ill intent,” Garkhen cautioned, “But it is true that anyone seen this far from civilization would be suspicious. Certainly it bodes ill that they are traveling towards the Madlands.”

 

Almonihah grunted. “Where else ‘re you going t’ go with a stolen chaos artifact?”

 

Garkhen nodded. “The only question is if they are in control, or if it is influencing them. Either way, we must stop them as soon as possible.”

 

They flew for a time without seeing anyone, in spite of three pairs of eyes searching. Finally Garkhen sighed.

 

“We may well have missed them—northwest is a very general direction, is it not? It seems unlikely they would have traveled this far.”

 

“’less they used magic,” Almonihah growled. “Wizard could get pretty far in a day.”

 

“True,” the other half-dragon agreed. “It seems we again must hope that the Archivist’s team can give us more direction.”

 

Almonihah was silent a long moment, head-frill stiff. Finally he muttered, “Don’t like waiting on them. Don’t know which ones t’ trust. Let’s keep looking.”

 

“Of course we shall keep searching for so long as Zakhin’Dakh is willing to bear us,” Garkhen replied.

 

Zakhin’Dakh shrieked a happy agreement.

 

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Late. Bed. Good night.

Chapter 4-3

The Captain was as good as his word. Within the hour Almonihah and Garkhen were standing in front of a priest of Mashano. Said priest explained that his spell-prayer would bind them to their words, causing them to suffer greatly if they broke the oath they would make. As such, it was vitally important that they choose their words carefully.

 

“Or that I choose their words carefully,” The Watch Captain interjected. “I have given this some thought. Would this be acceptable? ‘I swear to return to Elifort as soon as we retrieve the artifact that has been stolen from us.’”

 

Garkhen thought for a moment. “I feel that there should be some clause to allow us to adapt should something occur. Perhaps ‘I swear to return to Elifort as soon as we are able to recover the artifact that was stolen and bring it with us’? Then if something more were to occur after we first retrieved it, we would be able to continue to pursue it.” 

 

The Captain thought it over for a moment. “That seems acceptable to me.”

 

Garkhen turned to the half-bronze dragon. “Almonihah…?”

 

After a long moment the Ranger nodded. “Fine.”

 

The priest chanted his spell-prayer, then motioned for them to speak. Both recited the oath, feeling an odd chill as the magic settled on them. Once all was done, the priest nodded to the Captain.

 

“Very well, then. You’re free to go, gentlemen. I expect to see you again once you’ve brought this to a close.” 

 

As soon as they could, the pair returned to Archivist Maritha.

 

“Ah, I’d been thinking of contacting you,” she said as they were led into a room where she and several other mages stood. “We think we have a direction for you. A powerful source of magic that seems to match your box is moving northwest.”

 

“Northwest?” Garkhen repeated, surprised. “There is nothing in that direction save the Madlands, yes?”

 

Maritha nodded. “Given the nature of the artifact, I can’t say I’m surprised, but it bodes ill. We’ll continue to narrow down the location, but I thought you would want to depart as soon as possible. We shall send you a message when we know more.”

 

“Thank you, Archivist Maritha,” Garkhen said. Almonihah just gave a little nod as they departed.

 

“We’ll meet up with Zakhin’Dakh first,” Almonihah said as they walked towards the city gates.

 

Garkhen nodded. “Yes, that would be wise.” The truth was he’d almost forgotten the griffon—a fact which he now felt a bit embarrassed about. 

 

Almonihah said no more, simply lengthening his stride to a pace which made the shorter-legged half-dwarf jog, armor clattering as they made their way through Elifort. Almonihah glanced back only once, with what Garkhen was pretty sure was annoyance, but he made no complaint. 

 

The Ranger did not slacken his pace once they were without the city walls. If anything he started jogging himself, and Garkhen was hard-pressed to keep up. Indeed, he found himself slowly falling behind. Eventually he lost sight of the half-bronze dragon as he crested the top of a hill. But he could hear the loud, happy shriek of a griffon quite clearly.

 

Almonihah! You come! Happy! Zakhin’Dakh shrieked in Great Eagle as he saw his friend come up over the next hill. He took off and flew over to him.

 

Worried not see! But now here!

 

Almonihah grinned as the huge griffon dove and landed in front of him. Glad you’re here, Zakhin’Dakh. Sorry I took so long.

 

Okay! The griffon proclaimed as he walked up to his friend and settled down to be at eye level.

Finally Garkhen reached the top of the hill and saw Almonihah patting the Zakhin’Dakh on the head. He smiled a little to himself, but did not interrupt the two. His armor gave him away though, as Almonihah glanced over his shoulder at his approach.

 

“Some people stole that amulet,” he said in the Common Tongue, “So we’re going to hunt them down. Ready to help?”

 

Zakhin’Dakh nodded and screeched, Yeah!

 

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And yes, they never got the Watch Captain’s name. Because I didn’t feel like coming up with it.

Chapter 4-2

You mean th’ fact that we’re not allowed t’ leave town,” Almonihah said after they had left.

 

Garkhen nodded. “Yes, we shall have to speak with the Captian of the Watch.” He hesitated a moment, then added, “I do not believe we ever got his name.”

 

Almonihah shrugged, uncaring. “Let’s go talk to ‘im. Tired ‘f walls around me all th’ time.”

 

The Warder seemed a little surprised. “You truly dislike cities that much, Almonihah?”

 

The Ranger snorted derisively, but offered no explanation. After a long moment of silence Garkhen sighed.

 

“Please, whatever your opinion, do not be… abrasive when we speak with him. Much may well depend upon our swiftly recovering the artifact before it is used for ill purpose.”

 

Almonihah’s only response was a grunt. After a few more quiet minutes, Garkhen gave up on getting more of a response.

 

It was not hard for them to find the Watch Captain once they reached the city’s barracks. He didn’t look particularly happy to see the two half-dragons, but neither did he seem angry. 

 

“I’d rather hoped to have a bit more time to work on your case,” he said, once they’d exchanged greetings. “But I assume since you’re here that I don’t have much more time.”

 

Garkhen nodded. “We hope to be able to leave within the next hour, or perhaps two. Archivist Maritha did not think it would take them long to give us a direction in which to search for the amulet.”

 

The Captain sighed. “Well, if it’s as important as you’re all saying, I suppose that’s a good thing. But it does leave me with thinking of what to do with you…”

 

Almonihah fidgeted as he waited for the man to think, shifting from one foot to another, slightly spreading and then closing his wings, and so forth. Garkhen, however, was perfectly calm, standing still and steady as he awaited a decision.

 

“While I believe you to be honest, er, people,” the human finally said, “I cannot simply let you leave on your word to come back for trial. However, there are ways of magically binding you to your words. I believe one of the Priests of Mashano here is capable of such magic. Would you be willing to submit yourselves to such a thing? If you are, I will allow you to leave the city’s walls with the assurance that you will return.”

 

“Of course,” Garkhen replied without hesitation. 

 

There was a long pause, but at last Almonihah grudgingly growled, “Yeah.” 

 

“Very well, then,” The Watch Captain said, standing. “I will arrange for the spell at once. I would not want to delay your quest any further.” 

 

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So this hasn’t ended up being a huge problem… yet. >: D 

Chapter 4-1

Chapter 4: The Hunt Begins

“It is one of the great difficulties in life that we never have certainty. While we often see clearer in hindsight than foresight, yet even in looking back we all too often have unanswered questions. Would things have been better if I had chosen differently in some thing or another? If I had just spoken in less haste, would I have been able to convince someone of the dangers of their chosen path?”

 

“There is some value to such considerations, as we may well be able to learn from our own past. But there is a danger also, for it is all too easy to turn from useful self-examination to useless self-incrimination in such thoughts. We must always remember that our knowledge was not perfect in the past… nor is it in the present. It may well be that actions we thought turned out for ill may have been better than what we think now would have been best.”

 

“We should be able to track the box, or the amulet if they’ve removed it from its box,” Maritha said thoughtfully after Garkhen told their story.

 

“’Nd if someone here’s passing information along?” Almonihah’s arms were folded in front of his chest, and his gaze said he was as suspicious of Maritha as anyone else. 

 

If she noticed his gaze, she showed no sign. “While I hate to think that anyone in my team would be insane enough to let something like that fall into the wrong hands, I suppose I can’t dismiss the possibility, given the evidence at hand. Which leaves the dilemma of what to do about it…”

 

She pursed her lips. “Well… we could at least make sure you get accurate information… if I have two teams work on it and keep in contact with you, you should have something to go off of. I might be willing to doubt a single member of my team, but I can’t imagine that four or five of them are bad. And if someone’s passing information along to these thieves, well, I’ll figure something out.”

 

Almonihah grunted, clearly less than pleased, but did not object.

 

“Thank you, Archivist Maritha,” Garkhen said, his calm voice seeming almost a rebuke to Almonihah, “I think that should be reasonable. If we find something suspicious in what is passed along to us, we shall tell you. Now, how long do you estimate it will take to give us an initial direction of travel?” 

 

“No more than an hour,” she said after a moment’s thought. “And of course, as we refine our estimates, we can communicate further with you.”

 

“Very well, then,” Garkhen replied. “Please, let us know as soon as you may. Almonihah and I shall prepare ourselves to go—we do have one small issue we must handle first.”

 

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Ah, Almonihah. Always the suspicious type.