Chronicles of Draezoln

Tales of the world of Draezoln

Category Archives: Chapter 5

Chapter 5-9

Once Zakhin’Dakh finished the Madness-Touched he had faced first, he looked up and saw another that had just messily killed one of the Rangers. This one had four tentacles lined with bony spurs waving on its back, in addition to a third pair of legs. With a growl, the griffon warily advanced towards it. It stopped feasting on the Ranger’s corpse and turned to face him, opening its mouth to reveal three rows of teeth before charging towards him.

Garkhen had little time to notice the griffon’s absence, for his foe was proving quite dangerous. Even with one paw rendered useless, it still had three others in front with which to slash at him, and its fangs dripped with something that sizzled when the drops struck the ground. It suddenly reared up, claws outstretched, and the Warder stepped back rather than let it come down on him with all of its weight. Frustrated it bit at his shield, grabbing it between its fangs and pulling him forward. Garkhen was caught off-guard and off-balance, causing him to stumble towards it. His armored snout crashed into its muzzle, which startled it just enough that it let go.

The half-blue dragon stepped backward as quickly as he could, seizing his holy symbol with his shield hand, flipping it up, and exhaling a bolt of lightning through it. The Javni’Tolkhrah howled in pain as the holy lightning seared it, then staggered to one side slightly, trying to recover. Garkhen gave it no time, pressing the attack with Silverflame. The sacred mace struck it solidly in the shoulder, and it stumbled again, then lashed out with one of its remaining good legs. It caught Garkhen in the side, and while it did not penetrate his armor it did knock him off his feet, bruising him.

It was on him as soon as he hit the ground, and it was all the Warder could do to keep its teeth away from him. Its claws scrabbled on his armor, and even with his increased size and strength its weight was too great for him to throw off.

But it hadn’t trapped his mace arm. He didn’t have the leverage to get a good swing in with Silverflame, but its holy fires still scorched the Javni’Tolkhrah’s face. It howled in pain and reared up, away from the flames, giving the half-dragon time to roll out from under it.

The Javni’Tolkhrah was still trying to bat out the flames on its cheek when Garkhen got back to his feet. Its distraction gave him the chance he needed, and Silverflame struck it solidly on the head. It stumbled yet again, clearly hurt. Again he struck, and this time there was a disturbing crunch, and the beast collapsed.

Zakhin’Dakh, meanwhile, was struggling with his own battle. The tentacled monstrosity was difficult to approach, for it had greater reach, and the griffon already bore several bleeding wounds on his head and shoulders from getting to close. They warily circled one another, neither quite willing to make a move. Finally the Javni’Tolkhrah grew impatient and leaped forward.

Zakhin’Dakh reacted quickly, rearing up slightly to catch the beast with his talons, then twisting, hurling it off to one side. It landed on its side, surprised by this turn of events. The griffon wasted no time in taking advantage of his foe’s confusion, leaping on it and tearing off one of its tentacles with his talons. That certainly got its attention, and Zakhin’Dakh soon got a face full of barbed tentacles. Undeterred, he pressed his advantage, beak finally closing on the monster’s throat.

Almonihah’s assault on the mad wizard was going… poorly. First had been a fireball, and while he’d mostly dodged that, he’d still gotten singed. Then he’d thrown up a wall of stone, but that was easy to fly over. Of course, the fact that he flew face-first into a swarm of insane summoned crows had been less easy. Once he’d evaded them, he’d had to dodge a barrage of acid bolts. Now, at last he was closing in, but the mage was still laughing.

He chanted another spell… and blasted the half-bronze dragon with lightning. With a laugh of his own Almonihah charged forward, Zithrandrak leading. He felt the resistance as its tip neared his foe, but he pushed through. His blade deflected off to one side somewhat, but he still stabbed Zithrandrak deep into the mage’s shoulder.

Finally the laughter stopped, to be replaced by a look of shock, as if the wizard could not believe he’d actually been struck. That hesitation was fatal, for now Almonihah had the feel for the barrier around his enemy, so Eldereth struck him right in the throat. The magical defenses slowed his blade, but that simply meant that he didn’t penetrate as deeply.

The mage collapsed on the ground, gurgling. Quickly Almonihah pulled a rag out and yanked the amulet off the dying man.

Every Javni’Tolkhrah in the area suddenly turned to face him.

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Yeah, I think that’s a dramatically appropriate place to end this chapter. 😀

Chapter 5-8

The group stopped not far from where they had seen the Madness-Touched, in a copse of misshapen trees. The Range Commander made a few signs to his men, indicating who was to go where, and then softy spoke.

“Remember, the essential thing is to retrieve the amulet. If you must flee with it while others die, do it. We cannot allow this to continue. We know not how much worse this could grow.”

All nodded their heads solemnly (except Zakhin’Dakh). Then, with a quick gesture, the Commander ordered them forward.

They charged forwards in an odd silence, the Rangers moving with soft steps even as they broke from cover. Zakhin’Dakh, however, made no such attempts. His shrill war shriek would have woken the dead, much less a pack of wary monsters. Garkhen would have shaken his head, but chanting a spell-prayer of protection while holding on to the saddle took all his concentration.

The Javni’Tolkhrah had not needed Zakhin’Dakh’s cry to alert them to the attack. As soon as the first Ranger broke from cover they had charged forward, a mass of twisted flesh and scale and claw barreling down upon them on land and in the air. Somewhere behind the beasts, a man cackled madly, his laughter almost as chilling as the death coming towards them.

The Rangers fanned out as their foes charged, and arrows flew humming through the air to strike the warped creatures. They focused their fire on two of the Madness-Touched, bringing one down with the first volley. But there was no time for a second, for the Rangers had to evade the deadly claws, fangs, hooves, horns, and worse.

Zakhin’Dakh, on the other hand, plowed right into one of the creatures, some demented hybrid of deer, lion, and pig. It had lowered its head to gore him with its antlers, but Zakhin’Dakh caught it with his talons, their impact snapping off a couple of prongs. They struggled for a moment, but the griffon was larger and stronger, and he soon was able to twist his prey to the side and then go for its neck with his beak.

While they fought, Garkhen dismounted to cover Zakhin’Dakh’s flank, for another Javni’Tolkhrah was charging towards them. The Warder called on Bahamut for strength, chanting a spell-prayer that made him swell up to twice his height. He met the monster’s charge with his shield, claws digging into the ground as it crashed into him. The beast’s claws and fangs shrieked as they scraped on his armor, louder then they should have, but then Garkhen struck back, Silverflame crushing and burning one of its too many paws.

Almonihah had, somehow, slipped between two of the Javni’Tolkhrah, and was now running towards the insane, robed man who was standing alone, holding the amulet aloft while keeping up his insane laughter. The amulet itself… pulsed, almost as if it were a beating heart, colors flickering and glowing all about it.

The bronze-scaled half-dragon fired at him, his arrow flying true right at its target… until it suddenly veered away, followed by another bout of insane laughter. Almonihah snarled and continued to close, firing another arrow with the same result as he did. Looked like it’d come down to blades…

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And that’s where I decided I should go to bed.

Chapter 5-7

Again the half-bronze dragon growled. He’d recognized the feeling. How could he forget it…

He jumped at a touch on his shoulder. He looked over, right into a huge griffon eye.

Okay? Zakhin’Dakh screeched.

Mutely Almonihah nodded. “’t’s not let him get further in,” he said to the group.

Quietly they continued moving, following the trail deeper into the Madlands. The sun rose higher in the sky as they traveled, but its light seemed… uncertain, somehow, as if it passed through some kind of invisible haze.

Garkhen shivered slightly. The… wrongness in the air disturbed him. He could feel Zakhin’Dakh’s tension below him, and it was not hard to see that the Rangers, including Almonihah, were on edge. Odd movements seemed to flicker at the edge of his vision, and sometimes he could swear that the trees themselves were twisting to watch them as they passed.

Before long they began descending from the forested mountainsides into warm jungle… though the twisting of the land in the Madlands was already becoming apparent. Stones stuck out of the earth at odd angles in unnatural shapes, and even the trees seemed to have taken monstrous shapes that spoke of claws and fangs instead of branches.

But for now, all seemed still. Too still—no birds sung, no insects buzzed, no rodents scurried… even the air seemed still, for all that something in it seemed to shimmer and move until one turned to look at it. Even the sound of their passage seemed muffled… or perhaps that was simply the Rangers’ skill at stealth, for Zakhin’Dakh’s talons clicking on stone every now and again seemed loud enough.

Suddenly Almonihah broke the silence. “There!” He said, pointing.

For a moment everyone stopped, straining to see. “’t’s definitely a large group. Got t’ hurry to catch up,” Almonihah explained, then started moving again, at a faster pace.

The rest of the group hurried to follow, though Almonihah’s ground-eating pace was hard to match. Garkhen found himself quite glad he was riding—there was no way he would have been able to keep up on foot. Indeed, even some of the other Rangers seemed to be struggling as the half-dragon’s pace began to resemble a run more than a jog.

They raced through the twisted landscape, noting only in passing the distressing number of thorns, crevices, and other unpleasant features to the sides of the path. The Javni’Tolkhrah had, however, cleared most of these with their passing, it appeared, save for some of the more uneven terrain.

But by now the reason for their haste was clear to all, for they could see, when there was a break in the foliage, that they were descending into a large valley. And plain within it was a large group of twisted monsters, gathered around a single figure… waiting.

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So yes, next post is going to involve lots of fighting. Lots and lots of fighting.

Chapter 5-6

They arose before dawn the next morning—Almonihah and Garkhen because they could not stay asleep, Zakhin’Dakh when Almonihah came over and told him to wake up. Nor did it seem they were alone in their restlessness, for a number of Rangers including the Commander were up and about, preparing for their expedition.

The Commander greeted them when the three approached. “Good, we’ll want an early start. With any luck, our quarry has camped not too far into the Madlands, and we can catch him before he awakes, or shortly thereafter.”

“That would be ideal,” Garkhen agreed.

“It’s probably best not to let him know we’re coming, though,” the Ranger Commander continued, “So I’m afraid you’ll have to stay on the ground,” he pointed to Zakhin’Dakh, who responded with a disappointed cheep.

Almonihah grunted. “S’pose so. Still, should be ready ‘f we need t’ move fast.”

“Indeed. But we had best move now. You are ready?”

Soon enough the three friends and about a dozen Rangers set out for where the fallen Ranger had been found. Garkhen rode on Zakhin’Dakh’s back, so as to not slow the group, while Almonihah walked alongside. The Rangers spread out, moving quietly through the wooded hills as they made their way across the country.

While they traveled, Garkhen looked down at Almonihah and quietly said, “It is sad that the situation is so dire that they do not have time to look to their fallen comrade.”

Almonihah was quiet for a long moment before replying. “Didn’t notice? Don’t think th’ Commander slept, ‘nd there was fresh dirt near th’ Headquarters. They did it in th’ night.”

“I see…” Garkhen murmured, then fell silent.

The sky was just beginning to brighten with the first hints of dawn when the Rangers ahead of them stopped. Almonihah gazed forwards, trying to make out what was going on as they approached.

“Must be th’ place th’ Ranger died,” he told Garkhen, then jogged ahead to join them.

Once he arrived, the signs were clear enough—the Javni’Tolkhrah had not taken any cares to hide their tracks, much less the signs of combat. The jumble of prints was too chaotic to get any kind of count, but it was clear that several very large creatures had been through here—the lone Ranger would have been seriously outmatched.

Without needing to speak, the group turned north, towards the Madlands. The trail was wide and easy to follow, and it grew easier to get an estimate on their quarry’s numbers.

“Ten. At least.” One of the Rangers stated as he walked. His companions looked grim.

Almonihah growled. “Let’s hope ‘t doesn’t get t’ be more.”

No one felt the need to add anything to that, and they again walked in silence for a while. After a few minutes, there was a subtle change in the air—something impossible to define or describe, but nonetheless real, a kind of… restless energy around them.

One of the Rangers spoke. “We have entered the Madlands.” 

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And I still haven’t named that Ranger Commander. 😀 

Chapter 5-5

Almonihah growled. Garkhen nodded, as if in agreement.

“Then I fear we must go after him, for who knows what sort of damage he may be able to do with this artifact there?”

The Commander nodded back, grimly. “I concur, much as I hate the cost. Time is of the essence. I must begin to recall the Rangers we will need.”

He conferred with some of the other Rangers for a few moments, then turned back to the two half-dragons. “All Rangers that can reach here by morning are coming. I pray that not too many Javni’Tolkhrah slip through while we leave the Line unguarded here.”

Again Almonihah growled. “We’ll make ‘t fast.”

Garkhen looked downcast. “If only I had not slowed you down…”

The bronze-scaled half-dragon looked over at Garkhen with an expression of faint disgust. “After knocking yourself out healing us? You’re doing well t’ be standing, blue.”

The Warder shook his head. “If I had but trained harder…”

“You’re being an idiot!” Almonihah roared. Garkhen looked at him in shock. “You did all you could. Just have t’ deal with what’s happened.”

“But the lives…”

Almonihah bared his teeth in annoyance. “Lot more people ‘d die ‘f you hadn’t done what you have… Garkhen.”

“He’s right, Garkhen,” the Commander said. “We need you working, not beating yourself up. I’m guessing that not many others would be alive after what you three have been through.”

Yeah! We’re strong! Zakhin’Dakh screeched in agreement, not quite understanding the point of the conversation, but wanting to cheer Garkhen up… even though said half-blue dragon couldn’t understand Great Eagle.

“I… yes, I suppose it is somewhat foolish of me,” Garkhen said, though his heart didn’t seem to be in his words. “Come, we should discuss what we will do next, yes?”

They spent another hour or so going over what they knew of the amulet and its bearer… which was little, and what they might do to catch him or her. After some debate, they all agreed that there was little to do other than to follow his trail with all the forces they could muster. That decided, they settled down to rest, that they might have the energy and strength to face the morrow. 

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Yeah, I probably should have just finished the chapter with the last post, but… here’s the rest! 😀

Chapter 5-4

Almonihah nodded reluctantly. “How long d’ you need?”

The half-blue dragon shook his head slightly. “Too long. I fear what may happen if this being reaches the Madlands.”

Again the Ranger nodded. “Need help, though. Think ‘t’s time t’ talk to th’ Rangers again.”

The Warder sighed. “I fear first I should take some care for myself. Then… I believe I shall be able to ride, at least.”

Garkhen ate and drank, then rested for a bit. Once he had convinced himself that he was feeling stronger, he told his two friends he was ready.

It quickly became clear that he was not ready, when even with the usual assistance he could not quite manage to mount Zakhin’Dakh… because he wobbled and fell off of the rock he was standing on to get him up to a sufficient height.

“I am unharmed!” He exclaimed after landing with a great crash. “Or perhaps, I am no worse than I was before,” he admitted, as he struggled to sit back up.

Almonihah shook his head slightly as he watched. He hated waiting… who knew what was going on with that amulet? But they were going to need all the help they could get, and whatever else Garkhen was, he was a strong ally.

“Rest a bit more,” he said, grudgingly. “Can’t just leave you here, ‘nd I don’t think you want to ride ‘n Zakhin’Dakh’s talons again.”

Garkhen grinned slightly. “Indeed not! I had thought my soreness due entirely to my exertions of yesterday, but that might explain why certain areas feel particularly tender.”

Almonihah snorted in reply, but said nothing more.

They rested for several hours before Garkhen felt well enough to ride. Almonihah begrudged every moment of it, often heading off to ‘scout’ their surroundings again, in between sending Zakhin’Dakh off to hunt. Finally, when the sun was already well on its way down, they again set off. They were headed at a slight angle from the path their quarry had taken—towards the Ranger headquarters. 

Almonihah felt rather confident they would be able to track the Javni’Tolkhrah, and so had no fear of losing the trail.

The sun was low on the horizon when they arrived. Before they even landed, the Ranger Commander came out of his small office.

“Almonihah, Garkhen. You have the look of those bearing ill news,” he said as Zakhin’Dakh landed.

Zakhin’Dakh screeched in annoyance at not being included. Almonihah patted his side while Garkhen roused himself from his half-doze and responded.

“Indeed we do, Commander. The amulet was stolen, and its thief now makes his way to the Madlands. We gave chase, but were attacked by three of the Madness-Touched simultaneously.”

Air hissed through the Commander’s lips as he gasped. “Three at once? Never do they attack in a coordinated manner…”

Almonihah grunted. “Think ‘t’s the amulet. ‘nd I don’t think we can risk being th’ only ones going after this guy.”

“There is only one?” The Commander asked, gaze turned upwards as he his thoughts began to fly.

“Now,” Almonihah replied. “From th’ tracks, looks like one ‘f them summoned some Madness-Touched t’ get rid of his companions.”

“…And these beasts now accompany and guard him,” the Commander said. “I can see why you came. Come, we must plan quickly. Where do you think he will attempt to breach the Line?”


“Not too far t’ the west of here…” Almonihah began, when an odd, shrill whistle interrupted him.

The Ranger Commander looked up, his expression grim. “That call is only sounded for a fallen Ranger.” He looked over at the two half-dragons. “It well may be that your thief has already reached the Madlands.”

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Man, this chapter is just full of good, ominous points to end posts, isn’t it? >:D 

Chapter 5-3

Almonihah went over and checked Garkhen. He seemed unchanged—still sleeping soundly, for all the world like he was just enjoying a good night’s rest. The bronze half-dragon snorted.

“Guess he’s all right,” he commented to Zakhin’Dakh, who responded by simply cocking his head slightly to one side. “Should go, though. Let me get back on, ‘nd then pick him up again.”

They took off, following the trail of the Javni’Tolkhrah that had left the camp. It wasn’t hard to track them, in spite of the rocky terrain—one of the monsters apparently did something that killed all the plants around it, so it was simply a matter of finding the next patch of blasted, withered grass or suddenly dying tree. They made good time, despite the awkwardness of flying with Garkhen in Zakhin’Dakh’s talons.

They still hadn’t caught sight of their quarry by lunchtime, however. With all of the flying they’d been doing, Zakhin’Dakh was already hungry again, so they had to hunt again. It took longer this time, likely because the Javni’Tolkhrah had scared away most animals from the area. By the time they got back on the trail, the sun was starting to get low.

Almonihah growled in irritation at the delay, but then stopped. “Zakhin’Dakh. Look. By that mountain with th’ rock jutting out that looks like a cat’s head.”

The big griffon looked around for a bit before he saw what his friend was talking about. That a funny little cloud?

“It’s smoke. There’s a campfire.”

Just then Zakhin’Dakh looked down. Garkhen moved!

“Let’s set him down! See ‘f he’s all right.”

By the time they landed, Garkhen was groggily opening his eyes. Almonihah stood looking down at him while Zakhin’Dakh backed up just a bit. The Warder looked up at the Ranger.

“I… apologize,” he said, weakly. “It seems I overtaxed myself.”

Almonihah snorted. “Sure did. Think you can move?”

Garkhen slowly sat up. “Yes, but I am not fit for combat. What have you discovered?”

The half-bronze dragon described what he’d seen. “Don’t like that fire. May mean…” he trailed off, not quite willing to believe what it indicated.

Garkhen, however, could follow the thought. “Someone still has the amulet. Someone who is able to command the Javni’Tolkhrah, no doubt through means of the artifact.”

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Dun-dun-dun!

Chapter 5-2

Almonihah awoke with a start, cursing himself for falling asleep… particularly in such an uncomfortable position. Looking around, he was relieved to see Zakhin’Dakh was fine, still dozing even though, from the position of the sun, it was already a couple hours past dawn. Garkhen was still asleep, as well. From what little experience he had with healing magic, the half-blue dragon must have exhausted himself last night.

 

Which made the trace of anger he still felt looking at the blue of Garkhen’s scales all the more irrational. At first Almonihah had thought it was reasonable—it reminded him of the loss of his family, after all. And of course, metallic and chromatic dragons had an enmity that was older than humankind. But by now… he had to grudgingly admit that Garkhen wasn’t just not evil. He was earnestly devoted to the good of others. 

 

So why couldn’t Almonihah get over the fact that he was half-blue dragon? There was no reason for him to have to suppress a growl whenever he looked at him. It was almost like there was something more going on… something else…

 

A weak cheep shook Almonihah from his thoughts. He stood up, grimacing as the motion informed him of the many spots he was sore, and walked over to his big friend.

 

“Zakhin’Dakh?”

 

I hurt lots, the big griffon moaned. But okay, think.

 

Almonihah snorted and nodded. “I think you’ll be okay, too. Should stand up and stretch, though, t’ help work through th’ soreness.”

 

It took quite a bit of work to convince Zakhin’Dakh to agree with this plan, particularly once he stood up and really found out how sore he was, but when Almonihah pointed out they’d need to go hunting soon, the griffon reluctantly stretched out his legs and wings. The half-bronze dragon stretched, too, trying to get himself in shape to move. Food for Zakhin’Dakh would be an issue, yes, but his real concern was what was going on with the amulet. He was almost certain the attack last night was related somehow… and he suspected it would only get worse with time. 

 

Once Zakhin’Dakh seemed like he’d be able to fly again, Almonihah went over and checked on Garkhen again. He was still fast asleep… which was a bad sign, given how much noise they’d been making. Almonihah checked his breathing. It was deep and even. 

 

“Least that’s good,” Almonihah murmured. After a moment’s consideration, he bent down and said, “Garkhen! Get up!”

 

Nothing. This time he shouted. “Garkhen! Wake up!”

 

When that brought no response, he tried shaking the other half-dragon. But not even that could arouse the slumbering Warder. Almonihah stood up straight with a growl. They couldn’t stay here, but there was no way he was lifting Garkhen in full armor and strapping him into Zakhin’Dakh’s saddle… 

 

Well, there was only one real alternative. 

 

“Zakhin’Dakh, think you could carry him in your talons?”

 

 

Almonihah was fairly certain that being held in Zakhin’Dakh’s taloned feet was in no way comfortable, but there wasn’t much of a choice right now.

 

“Let’s head th’ way we were going last night. Just keep an eye out t’ see if there’s anything worth hunting,” he said to the griffon. Zakhin’Dakh nodded slightly, and Almonihah held on to the saddle as they turned.

 

They did spot a few mountain goats off on a distant slope. Usually Almonihah let Zakhin’Dakh hunt his way, but this time… well, with the griffon’s talons occupied, he decided it was wiser to just shoot one himself. 

 

After eating, they continued on in the direction they’d been going before. It wasn’t long before Zakhin’Dakh shrieked, Look!

 

He pointed with his beak, and Almonihah followed his gaze. It wasn’t long before his draconic eyes picked out what Zakhin’Dakh’s aquiline eyes had seen—a smudge of different colors in the distance, contrasting against the colors of stone, grass, and trees. 

 

“’t’s take a look,” Almonihah said, and Zakhin’Dakh flew onward.

 

As they neared, it became clear that what they had seen was a wrecked campsite, with shredded tents… and freshly-killed corpses of men. 

 

Zakhin’Dakh screeched long and low. Almonihah nodded. “Doesn’t look good. Let’s land, though.”

Carefully the griffon came in for a landing, setting down with his hind feet first, then placing Garkhen on the ground before putting his weight on his forelimbs. Almonihah dismounted and started looking around.

 

“Definitely Javni’Tolkhrah,” he spat, pointing at a seven-toed paw-print. 

 

Zakhin’Dakh growled deep in his chest in response, but otherwise just watched as the Ranger looked around the campsite. Once his survey was done, he came back over to his friend. 

 

“Can’t tell for sure… tracks ‘re everywhere. But looks like th’ Javni’Tolkhrah came ‘nd killed everyone. Like what they tried on us. Then they all left in one direction…” He pointed to the north. 

 

There was another detail he’d noticed, which he didn’t think he needed to tell Zakhin’Dakh. They’d all been wearing amulets… ones that looked like cheap knock-offs of the one they were hunting. It seemed like he’d seen something like it before, but he couldn’t recall where. 

 

But the real amulet hadn’t been here.

 

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Sorry for the late post! I got distracted on Monday, and then Tuesday was busy… but here’s a slightly longer post to make up for it! 

Chapter 5-1

Chapter 5: Following Chaos

“Dragons ‘nd dwarves ‘re stubborn enough alone. When you put ’em together, you get Garkhen.”

 

Garkhen quickly saw to his friends’ wounds, calling upon the power of Bahamut to heal them. After he had, he wavered unsteadily, exhaustion slamming into him as hard as the Javni’Tolkhrah had.

 

Zakhin’Dakh chirruped worriedly. The half-blue dragon smiled tiredly at the griffon.

 

“I have… simply expended… much energy on… channeling Bahamut’s power,” he explained.

 

Garkhen rocked backwards, sitting down hard in a motion that was as much involuntary as planned. 

 

Almonihah growled softly.

 

“Can’t stay here. Must’ve noticed us flying in.” He shook his head. “Wouldn’t ‘ve thought someone could command Javni’Tolkhrah, but haven’t seen three of ’em work together before.”

 

“Is that… what happened…” Garkhen was nodding off even as he spoke. 

 

With a crash, he collapsed to one side, asleep. Almonihah looked at him and shook his head. 

 

“Still can’t stay.” He looked over at Zakhin’Dakh. “Suppose you’ll just have to carry him, Zakhin’Dakh. Think you can?” 

 

“Yeah!” Zakhin’Dakh screeched. Carefully, he grasped the sleeping Warder in his talons, then looked over at Almonihah.

 

The Ranger mounted, and they flew off in the darkness. They didn’t go very far, though—Almonihah directed Zakhin’Dakh to land after flying only a few miles. The night had gotten cloudy, and it was risky flying at night, even with Almonihah’s draconic vision to aid them. That… and they were both almost as exhausted as Garkhen. Being healed didn’t take as much energy as healing, but having serious injuries wiped away had still fatigued them, especially combined with being awoken in the middle of the night to fight.

 

“Just have t’ hope this is far enough,” Almonihah commented on their new campsite. 

 

Zakhin’Dakh landed carefully, making sure to set Garkhen down gently before setting his taloned feet down. As soon as Almonihah dismounted, the griffon made himself comfortable and fell asleep. And in spite of Almonihah’s concern about further attacks, he found he couldn’t keep himself awake to keep watch.

 

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Yeah, a battle like that is going to take some recovery time. But can they afford it right now, with that artifact at large?