With Ferrovax trotting along slightly behind him, Harry followed the Kull's heavy footprints in the dirt and soon caught sight of it in the dim moonlight piercing the foliage ahead. The large figure eyed him in return and offered a single nod, then turned away and continued to pace back toward its own camp. In time they met together once more, just before the noises of its brethren began filtering through the distance.
Quiet rumbling, the crackling of an active fire and the occasional sharp snap of dripping fat being seared away, and the muffled thud of an axe driving into wood in an uneven pattern all bespoke the activity of the creatures so late into the night - or early into the morning, as it may be.
The densely packed trees separating them thinned out further as they walked in companionable silence. Eventually only a few large trunks stood in between them all, and immediately after the last such tree it opened up into a rough hollow twenty feet across by half that high. Smoke swirled from a long and smouldering fire pit.
In the center of the camp, sitting on overturned stumps or simply resting on the cold earthen floor lounged the majority of the Kull's people.
A few were practicing their skills with the aforementioned axes as they chopped down misshapen human analogies fashioned from wood and marked with ash to give them bitter, accusatory features. The heavy-headed blades whistled through the air and hacked through one limb at a time before the final gut-shot finished the job off, but it was clear that they lacked any proper coordination as another faux-man was lifted from a pile and attacked again - their strikes, while quick in delivery, were never in the same position and often missed each other by inches. Half a dozen more such analogies laid unfinished in a corner of the camp, where the smallest and youngest looking of the Urgals were responsible for cleaning the wood and whittling away at the surface with hunting knives. Another was mending the severed pieces of previous targets back onto the main body with fumbling knots of rope.
Harry slowed to a stop behind their guide and did a quick headcount. Sixteen... no, seventeen of the lesser Urgals, a few looking to be children, and only two more like this one. He shook his head dismally. I'd rather this not turn to bloodshed, for their sake.
He out a hand to caution Ferrovax to a halt as well, earning a quizzical tilting of the head before the dragon caught scent of the roasted deer and something else, something much more pungent and delectable. He rolled his muzzle around as if an itch had grown beneath the scales around his nostrils, sniffing and now scraping his tongue over his teeth to try and find another last scrap of muscle from their meal hours ago that he could sate his renewing hunger upon for a moment.
The Kull leading them slowed as well and glanced back at the silence he heard from their footsteps, but Harry nodded toward him to continue and placed Slytherin's Bane tip-first into the soil, leaning upon it idly.
Understanding seemed to come to the large Urgal's eyes and he turned around, continuing alone. His steps tramped down more powerfully and he rumbled loudly in the back of his throat in some kind of greeting, alerting his return to every one of his brethren. Immediately the eyes of the rest of the camp turned to meet his, and the axes were dropped, the scraping slowed. A few of the Urgals tried imitating his greeting unsuccessfully, but the noise was only properly picked up by the other two Kull, one still licking the grease off of a femur.
"Garzhvog!" the nearest Kull exclaimed eagerly and rose to his feet. Their now-named guide stepped out of the opening and sat down on a nearby stump, his broken arm hanging limply the whole while and grazing the dirt as Garzhvog leaned forward and snatched a rib dripping with fat off of the fire with his good hand. A rough answer met the other two around that first hasty bite. "Khagra. Otvek."
Khagra's eyes honed in on the arm and he crossed the distance in several vast steps, reaching out to grip the shoulder as if in disbelief. Garzhvog did not winch, only bit down harder upon the bone and meat between his lips and chewed loudly until the other Kull got the message and let go. Just as he was about to speak up a sudden glint of crimson-red light appeared in the same opening that Garzhvog had come through, and beside it a deeper black shadow with etches of copper catching the firelight randomly.
Dragon and Rider entered the camp together just moments later, alerting the rest of the Urgals to their presence. Ferrovax was still twitching his nose in curious hunger over what they had found to roast with so much succulence, but Harry was paying attention to the situation as a whole - that had been the point of stopping, so that he could observe long enough to cast a judgment on walking amongst so many potential enemies.
"The Rider, as we agreed," Garzhvog said rather needlessly, having swallowed. "They come to decide for themselves if they are to aid our battle."
Harry measured Khagra up as they entered the camp proper and found the new Kull lacking. Despite similar height and bulk, Khagra had none of Garzhvog's... stature, his presence. It would have been easy to overlook him as just an overgrown Urgal rather than one of their elite soldiers; he didn't reflect the intelligence and willingness to work with Harry that the original fellow had displayed when they locked gazes. No, if anything, this one looked at him the same way that the nameless Urgals' he had slain before had looked at him, the way several of those nearby seemed to be eyeballing him even now when he glanced around and looked back.
They looked at him like a threat, and one that they were eager to dismember.
"Yes," Khagra uttered lowly. "As we agreed." His tone seemed to indicate he had not willingly agreed to any such thing, not in good intentions.
Perhaps to lure me in to slay, more likely, Harry thought, remembering what Garzhvog had said about 'never knowing peace at the rule of you and your dragons'. Khagra's pitted gaze turned away from him and lingered particularly long upon the sharp red scales of Ferrovax. Abruptly he turned away without raising his head or lowering it, neither honoring or directly threatening either of them, and returned to his own stump in silence.
If we go through with this, Ferrovax, keep your distance from him in the battle. I have the feeling he's more of a strike-now apologize-later type.
The second Kull, having finished off his leg bone, picked a few shards of ivory from his teeth and rose in Khagra's place. Harry met his gaze next and found the same clear, steady shields in place to protect it from outside invasion when he tried to perform Legilimency. He bared his fangs the same as Garzhvog had at the attempt, but that aside he neither displayed Khagra's dislike or Garzhvog's interest, a carefully reserved neutrality standing out the most.
Otvek broke gazes with Harry and reclined his head in respect to their guide, saying, "Nar Garzhvog. We have eaten well and hardy of your mighty kill this night, but the honor of the heart is still yours." He pointed to the edge of the fire pit, where a small cap of mangled silver rested atop an equally mangled shield. The young Urgal that had been fumbling with the rope earlier hastened over to lift it up with little sign of the heat and carried the whole thing to Garzhvog, reclining his head despite the lack of horns, and again tried to repeat the ululating rumble.
Garzhvog smiled widely and answered the sound, lifting the cap away to reveal the steaming muscle concealed beneath, dry-roasted within its container. With little compunction he dropped the useless metal and snatched up the heart, taking a large chunk away on the first bite, and chewed the tough morsel slowly to savor its texture and flavors.
Ferrovax keened low and deep in the back of his own throat at the smell of it. I am hungry again, Harry-kinslayer-partner-of-mine, the dragon told him and the rest of the immediate camp with unshielded minds, unintendedly projecting the thought wide. Most of the lesser Urgals flinched back at the invasion, but the noise coming from him was not missed by the rest, either, nor the way his head bobbed idly with fixation upon the muscle.
Khagra rose again in fury, but Garzhvog surprised them all by leaning over and offering an edge to the dragon. After swallowing the Kull said, "Eat of my victory this night and ascension to place of honored leadership, then, dragon." His eyes swiveled to Harry's and he added, "Rider."
With permission granted and understanding the slip up on his part, Ferrovax pushed such thoughts aside for later consideration and lunged forward to take most of what was available whole.
Harry beat him to it with a concentrated thought and gesture with his wand-dominant arm.
The spell pressed against the dragon's body and Ferrovax slowed to a crawl almost before he had even surged forward, allowing Harry to bring up Slytherin's Bane and snip off two thin strips from the heart in the next moment. Don't be greedy, he admonished just as silently to his partner. Narrowed eyes honed in on him, but rather than risk speaking to everyone again, the dragon held back his opinion of that.
With that done the wizard exhaled and allowed the bent-spell from his home system to diminish until its effects had faded altogether. That was the thing he had figured out at last over the past couple of months - outside of blood magic, the only way to introduce some of his old magic to this new world was solely through silent casting. He had to really focus his mind to make sure he had all of the intended effects there, but once he was sure of his spell, and of his intention, it almost always manifested thereafter. The problem was that none of them seemed to last on their own and would falter without his attention devoted to them, especially wards.
Ferrovax had already begrudgingly dug his claws into the dirt for traction by the time Harry let go of his concentration, so that the abrupt lurch back into motion was stopped only inches from where it had begun, and he turned to settle on his haunches while Harry flicked the first strip into the air from the tip of his sword.
This time Ferrovax's maw shot up and enclosed around it in mid-air with no issues. He swallowed and snorted quietly, promising vengeance for the denial of more of the tasty treat when it had been so freely offered.
Harry ignored the well-understood message directed at him through that snort and reluctantly peeled off his own strip and chewed it with as little effort at tasting as he could manage. He swallowed the lump quickly and grit his teeth into a rough smile, nodding again to Garzhvog in appreciation for them both.
"Thank you," Harry intoned through his teeth to the first Kull. As soon as he could he'd be scrubbing his tongue clean of the unpleasant taste.
Garzhvog reclined his head again. "You will eat your fill when we celebrate our victory, dragon, should we proceed together from here." He took another large bite from the heart and then offered it out to Otvek, who did the same with what he could and finally shared the meal with Khagra, who ate barely more than Harry and Ferrovax had - there was simply too little left over for him.
The camp watched the entire exchange in a mixture of moods; mostly unsettled, uneasy, and eager to get away. With their leader doing nothing to expel the intruders from their midst, the lesser Urgals settled for uneasily returning to their prior tasks. They would not soon forget the presence of another alien mind in their heads.
Otvek eventually returned his eyes to Harry and strode forward with a slight limp in his step, dragging one ankle as he crossed. It didn't seem to impair him unduly while he stood still, but the leg shuddered each time weight tried to settle upon it in movement, proving at last why they had even bothered sending Garzhvog out to meet him - a large enough opposing militia would indeed slaughter them all as they were. With almost half of their people either crippled in some way or else too young to warrant training, the decision was practically made for Harry - he couldn't just walk away and leave them to the slaughter. It would gnaw on his admittedly thin conscience and be an itch on the back of his mind the whole time he was off investigating this country more, this world.
If he followed them to the 'mad-king's' soldiers and found the other humans not needing to be executed, he'd just find a means of binding the Urgals and Kull until the chance to attack had passed.
There goes that old saving people complex again, he thought ruefully.
Despite their temporary disagreement, Ferrovax still cocked his head to the site and sent a questioning emotion through their connection, focused to be certain it did stay solely between them.
Harry answered it after a moment with brief flashes of memory from a couple of occasions through his long life - performing less directly-lethal charms and curses to confound and befuddle the Death Eaters using human meat shields and would-be-victims at hostage point rather than just blow them all to hell and be done with it in a few moments. He never chose the easy option when it came to innocent human lives.
The most recent memory of such an occasion, however, from the world directly prior to this one, burst to the surface before he could stifle it - silencing the vicious cry within his soul to answer the call of the wyldfae storming across Chicago, resisting the urge to join the hundred black hounds following in their leader's wake as they wreaked havoc and chaos one Halloween night, and crafting blood magic from the long incision down one arm for the sword he wielded against the leather and mail-clad giant of a man in charge of that deathly anarchy until the hour was done- and the dragon exhaled and coiled down to rest, satisfied with the answer.
Otvek had reached him during the exchange of memories and spoke up after apparently recognizing the mental communication was winding down. He met Harry's eyes again. "Nar Garzhvog gives you much honor and respect this night, Rider. He would not accept you easily-" a look was spared for the broken arm of his leader, "and you see for yourself the state of our camp. What say you? Yea or nay?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders back and rolled them lightly, stretching the muscles and cracking the bones. "We'll see when we get there, Kull. Lead me to them and I'll judge for myself if I dip my hands in mortal blood again."
As the first pale rays of sunrise spread haphazardly across the Spine that morning beneath an overcast sky, hundreds of wavering footsteps trampled through the underbrush, the uneven cacophony of leather-soled boots breaking across crunchy leaves and crackling sticks. They marched with enough noise to rouse a cave bear from its hibernation, and they did so with little fear of the predatory beasts native to the Spine for fear instead of their very own companions - two moderately tall, dark-cloaked, hunch-backed 'men' rasping and clicking with noises that would have better fit an avian monster than a human being.
For three weeks now the intruders to their midst had come with the dusk and departed shortly after dawn, always with a verbal warning of what awaited any who deviated from the path or lingered too far behind in their absence. They vanished into the gray twilight and reappeared like shadows in the same, so that one moment the left flank was clear and empty, the next... their unwelcome overseers had filled it in, clucking in that unnerving tongue that no human throat could reproduce. Individually these traits would have been enough to frighten the troops, but piled together with the continually diminishing number of soldiers from the day beforehand, such had long since broken their morale down into an abject paranoia of being alone, and most of the men slept five to a tent in the vain hope of not being dragged away in the silent night.
It mattered little; one to two soldiers were always missing when the rest awoke. Sleep was not pleasant. Waking nightmares lurked among them. It was the promise of far worse being performed upon them at the dark rituals of Helgrind that had kept the men from turning about and fleeing back across the open plains toward Gil'ead while that had still been an option, and now that they had entered the mountainous terrain, where escape and concealment might have become viable, the responsibility fell upon the backs of the magicians seeded throughout their rank and file instead to ensure the soldiers remained obedient.
Any hope that the magicians were there for the soldiers' benefit had long since dried up. They banded together and provided only for themselves, kowtowing to the will of the two unnatural beings, and struck down any soldier that showed the slightest hint of mutiny or rebellion.
Thus they arose exhausted and fearful for yet another early march, each man terrified of what would happen to them when next they closed their eyes for rest in the night, and envisioning the horror that would befall them if they were chosen to sate the hunger of their watchers. The blood stains were thick and clear upon those robes, and no attempt was made to deny the accusation when it had been launched long days ago.
They stomped and they trampled and they tried their very best to get through their ghastly journey and reach the far-side of the Spine, believing their lives were fodder spent simply to prove to the rest of the citizens of the Empire that they had naught to fear of the dreaded land, to clear away the fog of superstition and myth that had enshrouded the Spine for decades.
What the general troops did not know and few of the magicians had been told, however, was that the true purpose of their journey was to find and eliminate the last Dragon Rider outside of the Forsworn to have survived the Fall, one who had been a multi-pronged thorn in the Empire's foot ever since that day, and one who had finally paid the price of exposure in order to slay the Shade, Durza, in months past.
Only the two human-masqueraders were aware of that information, and they waited with eagerness for the chance to sip of the Rider's well-aged blood and dine upon his mottled flesh at long last.
A set of rapid clicks and clacks echoed from them as they spoke to one another near the back of the march, and then one called out in a loud chirrup of barely recognizable noise to the men, "Halt."
At once the magicians slowed to a stop and the rest of the army did so reluctantly, staring straight ahead so as not to have to look back upon their unwilling-companions. The taller of the two cocked its shaded-head to one side and stared outward from the deep hood across its brow and toward the widening line of trees, searching the faint darkness with as much ease as if the sun sat illuminated mere feet above the treetops.
A glint of bloody-red appeared for a moment some wide distance away, vanishing behind the trunk of a large pine only to reappear again moments later and repeat the process several more times before it settled down out of view. A slow and curved smile lit up the creature's angled face as it sighted in upon the dragon, now hatched from the lost egg, and it spoke as such to its partner in their own clicking tongue once more.
Their rapid exchange of noise drove at least a handful of soldiers to their knees, pressing hands to their ears and heads to the dirt while whispering for the darkness to leave them be at last. They were given no thought by their own allies or otherwise.
Around the bend in the hills far ahead and slightly diagonally to the right from their position a mass of ungainly Urgals plodded into view. Some shuffled, some collided against each other in their brutal race's ever-eager contesting for strength, but none of them seemed in a hurry to chase down the dragon. That alone said enough - that Durza was indeed smote and his control over them destroyed. It was only more news to report to the king when they brought in their prey's corpse and his second-chosen dragon.
After watching for a few minutes, however, it became apparent that Brom Holcombsson was not trekking nearby. Wherever the old human Rider was, he was not with his dragon - a tactic more likely to be guile and deceit than truth. It was uncharacteristic of him to risk another around the vicious Urgals, but that he might already be in wait ahead of them - perhaps having spotted the contingent of warriors while scouting or even hunting through the Spine - could be believed.
Perhaps he had not even noticed Galbatorix's soldiers while waiting to ambush the Urgals; and even if he had, it would be too late for him to change his plans before things played out against him.
Turning from their soon-to-be victims, the taller of the two relayed the information to its fellow, who in turn delivered it to the rest. "Gather yourselves, soldiers. We feast upon dragon-flesh tonight!" the shorter of the two shrieked its message, making the majority of the men winch and unconsciously shudder as the noise wormed through their ear canals.
Confusion over exactly what that meant faded as the Urgals, no doubt having heard the noise echoing off of the trees, shouted back in undulating war cries. A primal sort of fear was roused alongside the soldiers' fear of their companions when something far louder and far more vicious roared above the others with enough strength to rattle the pebbles beneath their feet and shake the very leaves free.
Throwing back their hoods in response, the vaguely bird-like, almost skeletal features of the two 'men' were revealed. "Kill the dragon and we fell its' Rider no matter his position!" the shorter creature ordered them more clearly, then surged over the moss-and-grain-strewn ground and whipped out to one side to try and flank the mighty-lizard from one side.
With a rough click of frustration at its partner's impatience, the taller creature sank back into the trees and glanced toward the flickers of golden-red light piercing the cloudy sky overhead; it hissed and shivered, desiring to be departing by now rather than rushing into a battle, but this was an opportunity that could not be ignored. With little choice, it followed after its mate and rushed to take the dragon from the other side.
While the troops were still rooted in place by the draconian roar, the magicians recovered and sought out their targets, ordering the men into rough formations even as they readied their spells.
Within minutes, the hitherto-simmering war between the Empire and Harry Potter entered the first stage in full.
Walking alongside Ferrovax's back-right hip, Harry had tied his blade by the hilt to the edge of his war-robes with a strip of leather jutting from the loops therein. The tip danced alongside his right ankle without ever quite nearing the vulnerable flesh, and he could draw it again in a moment's notice with little more than a quick tug on the knot, but he had given up on encountering another human being in the immediate-future after an hour of trekking through the dim moonlight and then into the rising twilight of dawn. He expected to hear the humans at their camp well before reaching them, the same as with Garzhvog's people, or barring that the stomp of their feet upon the ground.
With that decided, his attention was focused more upon the thought of enemy wizards and witches and how he could combat them when, rather than if, he stumbled upon another one. It was a common thought he occupied himself with, having been humiliated once already by his ignorance. He trusted his dragon to pipe up while they walked if he sensed something that Harry himself had not.
It it comes down to another contest of wills like it was the first time, I'd better have my repertoire prepared ahead of time. A split-second's delay can mean all the difference - and if they all have the same ungodly reserves of energy to back them up as that old man, Avada Kedavra might come in a hell of a lot more helpful than anything else I've got on quick-draw. He stepped over a large root and ran a countdown of how many spells he had acclimatized to the conditions needed to bring them to life here - and rounded off at just over thirteen. A paltry drop in the bucket compared to how many he had memorized throughout his lifetime, but he had spent a decent while just sussing those few down to the finest detail, to be utterly certain they would work as he knew they should.
Transfiguration is a bloody sinkhole and isn't worth a quarter of the hassle involved, though if I could get the needed oomph out for even a crude effort in just a few seconds to surprise one of the other bastards, I suppose it could prove useful in a pinch. He considered what was involved in just changing dirt to mud to water and shook his head, dismissing it. Haven't had one time that held up when my back was turned, so that field is more-or-less out of the question. Not much involved in charms, either, though that downy-pillow was a nice effect while it lasted.
Flickers of fine blood-red light shone down through the leaves every now and again. As they neared the top of a hill, Garzhvog made a deep rutting sound in the back of his throat and spoke, "Wait, Rider."
Harry turned around in mid-step and Ferrovax paused as well, flicking his head around and snuffling as if detecting an unknown scent on the downdraft of wind.
Khagra walked a short ways behind them, Garzhvog beside him and Otvek bringing up the rear. The rest of the combat-ready Urgals followed in their wake, eagerly butting shoulders and jostling one another, shaking the axes they carried with a rising blood lust. Their leader nodded his head toward the top of the hill and approached a bit closer, his slack arm wrapped about the side, ribs, and belly to keep it from interfering in the battle to come.
"We have scouted this army for many days before coming to you for aid, Rider. It is not unlikely they will be passing through beyond these hills even as we speak, for their stride is great even when weary, and they cover a league on most occasions. Go; examine our foes, and make your decision quickly."
Harry nodded once and noticed Ferrovax's antics. What is it? He asked across their connection. A hint of distress seemed to permute the senses bleeding through to him, and the dragon exhaled heavily through his nostrils before answering.
Something... familiar, of the dim-dark-cold. Something painful.
Hn. Flicking his eyes along the rolling slope several feet up, he slowly sat down on the ground, mindful of the sword still strapped to his own hip. Something of your days trapped in that egg, then. Alright. He closed his eyes and began to slow his breathing, emptying out his unnecessary thoughts, and all-in-all working to enter the proper state of mind required for meditation and, by association, Astral Projection.
Few means trumped scouting-by-soul.
He could wander down a short ways and take a good listen to the soldiers first-hand and determine if there was just cause to execute them, and it might also offer him the chance to find out if they had any magic-abled within their company.
He centered his attention around the ethereal disconnect involved in wandering about as a naked spirit and distanced the time between each inhalation and following exhalation of his lungs. When the gap yawned across almost a minute between breaths and his heartbeat had dropped deceptively low, his body went completely slack and a faint haze in the air gathered just beside it- at least insofar as the Urgals saw.
Ferrovax detected a faint bending of the light and a distant shadow-imitation of his Rider before it rose and vanished across the hilltop. Knowing what would happen and how long it could take when he was being particularly thorough, the dragon settled down and rested his head across his front legs. The sight of the two of them seemingly ignoring the army ahead drew a snarl from Khagra's lips.
"This is what we have waited for?" the Kull demanded of his brethren, turning about to face the rest of the Urgals. "So much for our trust in another Rider, Nar Garzhvog. Let us march as we were meant to and be done!"
Garzhvog examined the two without answering immediately. He recognized their posture as being the same as that when he had approached them before, and just as he had then, he suspected there was more going on then what was apparent. "No, Khagra," he refuted steadily. "We wait. Something-" the other Kull cut across him while gesturing furiously with his own chipped axe head.
"You are strong of body and strong of heart, Garzhvog, and you give them too much faith. Humans have never favored us and it is foolish to believe in them now," he turned to Otvek, who reluctantly nodded in agreement. "Let us kill this Rider now before he rises up as the mad-king has and burns all of our lands to the ashes!"
Ferrovax turned his head to stare at the warmonger and exhaled a dark growl at the threat, reverberating off of the nearby tree trunks and shaking the metal and mail the Urgals wore in its pitch. Khagra spun around to face him and lifted the axe overhead, preparing to put action to word, when Harry's chest heaved for the second time in several hours, returning to his body again just in time to hear the noise emanating from his dragon. The menacing noise only died down after half a minute, and Harry sent him a note of appreciation as much as pride.
With that, Harry stood up slowly and kept a hand on Slytherin's Bane as he did. "I haven't chosen to ignore them, you black-hearted wretch. I chose to investigate them by my own means of magic to do exactly as I said I would; make up my own bloody mind on the matter!" He unwound the knot around the hilt and drew the sword to his hand again, watching for the sudden tense of muscles that would telegraph Khagra's lunge downward. It did not come, but the yellow eyes flicked between sword and dragon as if trying to weigh the advantages and coming up short.
Keeping the ancient blade posed between himself and the Kull, Harry continued. "I don't know what lurks down there, but a chill slithered over my non-corporal spine when I listened to the pair of them speaking to each other at the back of the procession. The men themselves looked half-mad with fear, and what I gathered spoke volumes."
Khagra watched him with narrowed eyes, clenching the hilt of his axe tighter.
"We aren't going to kill them," he paused and noted how the Urgals seemed to shift toward more aggressive posture as a whole, even the original Kull, who looked disheartened about it. "We're going to kill whatever those things are that are in charge of the invasion of your lands."
Garzhvog frowned heavily and stepped forward past Khagra, obstructing the line of motion between each of them. "That is not in our nature, Rider. They are marked for death."
Harry met his eyes and stabbed Slytherin's Bane into the soil between them. "And I said that they were driven here by an outside force. I recognize unwilling subservience when I see it, Garzhvog, and they are not here because they intended to trespass upon your land. I won't murder without due cause."
A sullen silence held out between them, unbroken except for the rough sounds of breathing. Eventually Otvek shuffled forward on his injured leg. "What would you have us do, Rider?"
Harry kept his eyes on Garzhvog and Khagra as he answered. "Get as close to them as possible while I cut around and flank their exposed backside. If I can eliminate the leaders swiftly enough, the others should be thrown into anarchy and easy round up. From there-" whatever else he intended to say fell away as one of the unnatural voices he had heard down below spoke.
"Gather yourselves, soldiers. We feast upon dragon-flesh tonight!"
The shriek echoed all the way up from the hundreds of feet separating the two groups. Harry snatched up his sword again and cursed the timing. "I suppose my point just became moot, Garzhvog. I'll fight across from you if not exactly beside you as intended, and we'll discuss this later. Defend you and yours and we'll play catch up and distribution of blame in the aftermath."
Garzhvog's expression lightened and he raised his own weapon of massacre, reclining his head and saying, "Aye, Rider. That we will," and then he belted out a truly potent battle cry. Otvek matched it, and even Khagra contributed, even if he desired to cut the human before him in twain when his back was turned.
Stay here and help keep them alive. I saw crossbows and arrows below, Ferrovax; be wary of flight. The thought across their connection while he began to rush through the underbrush to execute his plan earned a response that Harry hadn't intended; while the lesser Urgals chipped in with fainter ululations to the Kull's booming noise, they were all put to shame by the roar of primal challenge that erupted from his dragon's maw. Ferrovax lifted his front legs and slammed them down upon the crest of the hill, extended his neck, and from the very depths of his lungs released a small glimpse of the fury contained within his being.
A fierce smile broke across his Rider's lips; that sounded like utter victory.
Chapter Two concluded.