Fantasy Fiction posted August 30, 2021 Chapters:  ...14 15 -16- 17... 


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Off to the Badlands

A chapter in the book The Chronicals Of Bethica: The Rise

The Chronicles Of Bethica

by amahra




Background
In a war room, Gangus and soldiers plan their battle strategy against the terrible and powerful Drake.
Chapter 11 (part2)
Land of the Dragon

After getting over the shock of being the Drake's preferred meat, Gangus and his soldiers spent late nights piecing together notes on battle strategies against the beast.

During the day, they worked with the Timbaknis restoring buildings the Drake had torched.

Though the farmlands had been badly burned, the men were able to salvage many fruits and vegetables; they loaded them into deep push-barrels and stored them in underground chamber bends. Then Hayman watched as Gangus's swordsmen mercifully killed his suffering animals.

However, Hayman's saddest day was yet to come: Gangus and his tribesmen would leave Hayman's village, and attempt to kill the Drake. Gangus had simply worn Hayman down, drilling him over and over about the beast. Hayman gave in and issued every bit of information he could muster. Still, he feared for his friend.

*****
It had been a long workday for all. That evening, Priest Hayman sat across from Gangus, Dinary, Celio, and the Domarian women. "I sure hope you know what you're doing, Lord Abram,"  Hayman said, scratching several places on his body. This scratching proved an ongoing grooming ritual the Timbaknis had to perform periodically to keep the insects from nesting in their fur. It annoyed Gangus to no end, though he tried not to show it.

"I'm not underestimating your ability, mind you," Hayman continued, "but many have tried to kill the Drake and have died or lived to regret it." He bent and scratched his ankle, then sat up. "Let's suppose, by some good fortune, you and your warriors do kill the beast, which I doubt, where are you going to go from here?"

Now with the scratching over, Gangus made eye contact. "The Domarians," he said nodding towards the women, "are taking my people to an unoccupied land just north of here, near a great lake. There are hundreds of us, and we intend to settle there. Of course, now we'll have to travel on foot. Do you know of this land?"

"I believe I do. There is only one good piece of unoccupied land left in Bethica, and it is beautiful..."

"Really?" Celio interrupted.

"Yes. Full of rolling hills, grassy fields, excellent dirt for farming, a thick forest with plenty of game, and a lake for fishing. It has two seasons like we have. Dry, which is very hot, and Wet, which is very cool. But minus our sandstorms."

"Then why isn't it occupied?" Gangus inquired.

"Sounds like something's wrong," Dinary weighed in.

"You're right, young Dinary. The Drake destroyed it over a hundred years ago. It took the land just that long to restore itself. Nobody will live there. Some say the gods summoned the Drake to destroy the land because the inhabitants were wicked and served demons instead of the gods. But that's probably just another folk tale."

"Fine," Dinary said. "Then all we have to do is kill the blasted thing and the land is ours."

Hayman's dark eyes dotted back and forth as if he pondered what to say next. "Have any of you ever fought a Drake?" There was complete silence. "That's what I thought," Hayman said leaning forward in his chair. "Even if you could kill it, there's still the Badlands. It is called Badlands for a reason. Living underground protects us, but your people will be out in the open, where everything and anything can get at them. And there are many mysterious things in the Badlands."

"What sort of things?" Gangus asked.

Hayman pulled on his chin. "Let me give you a couple of options first before telling you about the Badlands." He blew out a small gust of breath and placed both hands on his knees. "There are three ways to get to the land you want to settle. The safest," he said, "is to start from Vaslof, southwest of here. It's safe because it's an open trail with no forest, therefore nothing to hide behind or jump out from to harm you, just a straight journey. Nothing but land and sky."

"All right, sounds good," Gangus said.

Hayman looked at Gangus from under his lashes. "It's the longest. While there's practically nothing that can harm you, there's also no water for hundreds of miles."

"Well, that's out!" Dinary smirked. "On to number two."

"That would be Lothian," Hayman continued. "It is shorter, but you'd have to cut through a thick forest. The trail won't be easy on foot. And it is more dangerous. The forest is dark even in the daytime. You won't see them, but the Seawolves will see you, and they'll kill you and eat your animals."

"Will they eat us?" Dinary asked.

"They're not known for it. But, you know wild creatures. They are unpredictable, especially if they're desperate."

Everyone looked at each other and braced themselves for number three.

"So, now the Badlands," Hayman said. "The Badlands is the quickest way, but it's the most dangerous. Right here from our village, you're just a hundred and thirty miles from where you wish to settle. It should take you just three and a half weeks of travel. I can provide you enough grain and spices for your journey, and there are plenty of water holes along the way... but you'll have to fight hostile inhabitants over them." Hayman paused.

"And?" Gangus blurted, sensing there was more.

"And... it is where the menacing Goblins live, underground, like us. They are not killers, but they're notorious thieves. It is said they can steal a ring right off your finger while you're sleeping and wouldn't break your snore. Not only that, the land itself is quite a pitfall-- quicksand, wild tangle weeds, snaring vines, and spider webs so thin, they're nearly invisible. There are insects that will nibble on you during the day, and much bigger ones that will practically devour you at night. Plus, it's full of the deadliest serpents in the whole region. My medicinal garden, the finest in the land, has no herb for their poison." Hayman hesitated.

"And," Gangus asked, believing Hayman was still holding back.

"And..." he appeared to deflate. "It's where you'll find the Drake deep within its cave. And I do mean deep. Lord Abram, I've never heard of anyone coming out of that cave alive. So, my dear friend, make your choice, and may Raziel protect you all."

There was a short silence--as if they were trying to digest all Priest Hayman had fed them. They buzzed among themselves for minutes at a time. Then Celio spoke up with, "I say, we kill this blasted thing and take our chances in the Badlands." Then more buzzing and nodding in agreement with Celio.

Suddenly, Pryah spoke up. "Lord Abram, I'm so sorry my people suggested this passage to your land. We didn't know about the Drake, honest. I'm sure we can find other ways around it. Perhaps..."

"No," Gangus interrupted. "This is the passage we will travel...and kill the Drake. No matter what it takes."

"That's right!" Celio spat.

"Absolutely!" said Dinary.

"That fire-breather is good as dead!" Letty snapped.

"All right. All right. Calm yourselves," Gangus said with a slight smile. "As you can see, Priest Hayman, my commanders are quite high-strung."

Hayman sat back and shook his head. "I sure hope you know what you're doing."

Gangus reached and placed his hand on Hayman's knee. "I know you're worried, my friend. And no, we've never fought a Drake before. But you and your tribesmen are honorable and good. You should not have to live in fear of this thing. We are warriors with great skills and divine weapons. The gods will be with us."

Priest Hayman smiled and placed his hand upon Gangus's hand. "I think I'm starting to believe you, Lord Abram. Something tells me you're just the one to do it. I wish I could go with you. But, I'm afraid I wouldn't be much use." He chuckled softly.

"Your prayers are all we desire."

Hayman grabbed Gangus's shoulders and shook them slightly. "And you shall have them, Lord Abram. My priests and I shall fast and pray until you and your soldiers leave for the Badlands. Not one grain of food or water will touch our lips. We will shake the gods from their thrones."

"That is most impressive, Priest Hayman," Gangus said grinning. "Impressive, indeed."

Later that night, as all slept, Gangus, Dinary, Celio, and the Domarian women created a war room. They planned until dawn.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 




When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.
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