The Journal of Kangg the Battlemage: The Beginning, Part III
     I was journeying towards the mountains that mark the eastern border of the plains. The surrounding countryside had grown increasingly silent as I approached. The silence was eerie, unnatural. The air itself felt as it was still as I journeyed. I began to hear a strange sound as I reached the point where the mountains dominated my view of the horizon. 

     I followed the sound until I reached its source. A good distance away I was able to see a crude wooden cage that appeared to hold some kind of animal. I was able to notice that the animal was one of the great cats when I moved closer. I could see that the cat was a cheetah when I got close enough. 

     I was appalled at the condition of the cat when I was able to see it. The cat was starving and dehydrated. It appears to have injured itself trying to escape the cage. The cat was weak and could barely stand up as I got closer to the cage. I approached the cage cautiously and that earned me a number of hisses and a few weakened swipes. I threw in some meat and placed in a bowl of water quickly before I lost my hand. 

     I made haste back to the river to refill my water flask and to spear some fish for the cat. I wondered who would capture such a noble and majestic creature just to starve and dehydrate it to death. My mind went back to my encounter with the plainsmen and the undead bear about a week ago. I was thinking about a possible connection between that encounter and this one as I filled up my waterskin and speared some fish for the cat and me. 
The water bowl was empty and the meat was gone when I arrived back to the cage. I refilled the bowl and threw in a couple of fish for the cat. I did not let it out right away, not that I am an expert, but the cat seemed too weak to be out just yet. The cat drank the water and ate the fish and then drifted off to sleep. I watched the cat as it slept. It was a peaceful sleep, a sleep that would help the cheetah to heal and regain its strength. 

     The cheetah was looking much better by the next morning. She seemed to be regaining some strength. I still thought that it was too early to set her free. I kept her supplied with fish and water for the rest of the day. The cheetah was up and restless the next morning. I gave her some food and water and opened the cage when she was done. She took off like an arrow shot from a bow and turned back and stared at me for a moment. She then ran off into the plains. I continued my journey towards the mountains. 

     I will say at this point in time that I had very limited wilderness experience other than the swamp of my homeland and my short time on the plains and had none as a tracker. So, when I would come across tracks in the ground, I truly had no idea what it was that made the footprints. As such, I was completely surprised to find that the prints that I thought to be from some kind of animal were something completely different. 

     I followed the tracks believing that they would lead me to another cage. The tracks led me to a cave entrance. You can imagine my surprise when I am met at the cave entrance by a person that is a head taller than me, holding a battle axe in one hand that most others including lizardman warriors would need two hands to wield. He was wearing the body armor of a warrior that must have weighed as much as I did. He was one of the dark brown skinned versions of his race, with dark brown hair covering a good portion of his body. He had dark brown eyes looking at me curiously and horns on his head that were a good foot off of the top of his head. I was looking at a minotaur. 

     We stood there in silence for a few tense moments. I lowered my spear so that the head was towards the ground. In this way, the minotaur knew I meant no harm. He, in return, lowered his axe to the ground. My people and the minotaurs are friends and allies. In fact, there are minotaurs that have made their homes in lizardman cities, usually the coastal cities. There are some of my people living among the minotaurs as well. The tension comes from the fact that neither of us are in our respective lands, so we would wonder if the other is friend or foe. 
“Greetings, Minotaur, I am Kangg.” I said. The minotaur gave me a funny look at the sound of my voice, but then most do.

     “Greetings, Lizardman, I am Dazz. What brings you to the mountains?” He asked.

     I explain to him the story of the encounter with the plainsmen and the cheetah that brought me to the mountains. He tells me that he had just freed a wolf pack that was caught in cages that were also being starved to death. He also told me that he had found other places where there were cages on the ground and followed the tracks this way. He believes that those animals were alive when the cages were brought this way and he was tracking the trail. I believe that it would be to my advantage to team up with Dazz on this one. I did not even notice that there was another trail or other cages for that matter. 

     “Perhaps we should work together on this?” I ask. 

     “I would be honored to travel with a battlemage from Silgarre.” Dazz responded. Dazz knows much about the society of my people to know my station. 

     “You are the tracker between us Dazz. I followed your prints thinking you were something else.” I admitted.

     Dazz laughed and responded, “I left those prints purposely so that they would be found.” 

     As we travelled I told Dazz of my story and found that his was similar. We both left our homeland for roughly the same reasons, though Dazz did not have to escape his homeland. We are both travelling and trying to keep a low profile so not to alarm those around us. 

     Dazz and I followed the trail deeper into the mountains. We are in the Twilight Mountains as this section of the eastern mountain range is called. This area has some of the highest peaks and almost perpetual cloud cover. It is this reason that the range is always in a state of twilight as the sun barely shines to the surface. 

     The trail leads us to a cave. Dazz knew that we were coming up to it because he could smell the stench of decay that I can smell now. We readied our weapons for what we might encounter in there. We saw light coming from within from the mouth of the cave. That told us that there were torches lit already something that we were thankful for. 

     The chamber that we entered is nothing more than a normal cavern that is not too large. We were able to see a tunnel at the back of the cave due to the light coming from it. I was able to hear various sounds coming from the tunnel, the sounds of various animals. I can also hear the faint sound of chanting, the chanting sounds like it is coming from further down the tunnel than the animal sounds. I relay this information to Dazz.

     We head down the tunnel, with Dazz insisting on taking the lead. We enter into a large chamber. A chamber filled with dying animals. We stood there in shock looking at all of the cages filled with animals from all over Veroth. They must have travelled good distances to get some of them. There are some that I only recognize from reading about them. There are some that I know well from my homeland. All of the animals in the cages are predators or deadly in some way. I was able to see a rhino, not a predator, but its horn is deadly. 

     Two things came into the chamber from another tunnel at the back. I say things because they were once human, not anymore. They died long ago and magic has animated what was left. The zombies walked to a cage that was holding a tiger that could barely hiss back at them. They continued as if Dazz and I were not even there. I have heard of necromancy. It is shunned in most of the world. It is forbidden in Silgarre. These zombies are the simple kind, animated for menial tasks and cannot do much else. Dazz and I descend upon them as they are grabbing the cage. The two zombies turned and attacked us after we got a few good whacks on them. We made quick work of them. 

      We turned to go into the tunnel that leads to the inner chamber when two dogs jumped out at us. These dogs resembled the bear that I had the misfortune of dealing with. I pull up my battle shield spell and prepare to lose another spear as I speak the blessing over my weapon. Dazz was able to defend himself with the one dog, but he was not causing any damage to it. His weapon would need to be blessed or magical in order to harm it. I tried to put down the dog that attacked me as quickly as possible in order to get to the dog attacking Dazz. 

      The dog that attacked me was fast and seemed to come at me from everywhere at once. I was thankful for my battle shield at this point. I was able to maneuver to a point where the dog was in front of me. I speared it in the shoulder as it charged me. I went to the side and stabbed the creature in its heart. It fell over and was still. I turned to where Dazz was still holding the creature at bay. Its focus was completely on Dazz so it did not notice me until it was too late and I plunged my spear into its side and into its heart.
 
     “They really do not have much in the way of guards here.” Dazz said, “Though, I believe those dogs would have been able to do away with most intruders.”

     “They need to be killed by weapons that are magical or blessed. I have put a blessing on my spear, but the blessing will consume the spear shortly.” I answered.

     “This area also has a reputation and is avoided by most including animals.” I added. 

     “So there is something behind the reputation.” Dazz stated.

     “Yes, but no one has figured out what it is.” I answered then added, “Let us stop this ritual while I still have a spear to use.” 

     Dazz nodded and we went down the tunnel at the back of the chamber. We travelled a short distance and the tunnel opened up into a large cavern. The stench was strongest from here. There were torches lining the walls and six figures gathered around a central altar. On that altar, in a cage, was an eagle. I cast an energy bolt at the figure closest to me without giving it a thought. He yelped in pain and the six turned to look at us in unison. They began to chant something different. 

     I told Dazz to close his eyes as I cast a lightning flash spell in front of them. They stopped chanting momentarily and Dazz charged the closest one. One of them chants something and Dazz is stopped in the middle of his charge. I let off another energy bolt at one as I begin to move closer. I hear two things as I charge the necromancers, a hiss and a growl from beside me. A cheetah and a wolf come charging in and attack the two closest necromancers, which one of them has the spell on Dazz which freed him from the spell. 

     I reverse my grip on my spear and throw it at one of the necromancers in the back. (I refuse to refer to them as mages; they dabble in things that should not be dabbled in.) The spear lodges in the throat of the necromancer. The spear promptly turned to dust after that. Dazz moved past his original target to the one behind him and almost cut him in half with the blow from his axe. The cheetah and the wolf worked together on one as Dazz dropped the remaining necromancer with a blow from his axe. 

     I felt a nudge on my leg and looked down to see the cheetah. I gave her a scratch on the head and she ran off. I look and see Dazz kneeling before the wolf and scratching its head before the wolf also runs off. Dazz and I nod to each other and go to the cage with the eagle in it. Dazz begins to bring the animals back onto the plains close to the river. I first move the bodies of the undead dogs to a location where they can be burned so they do not rise again. I then help Dazz with the cages of animals. We spent the next week or so nursing all of the animals back to health and releasing them including the eagle, though he was questionable for a while. 

     “Where do we go now, Kangg?” Dazz asked.

     I looked at him with a surprised glance. 

     “I think that we did fairly well as a team and there is safety in numbers. I don’t know what the meaning of what we just encountered is but I feel like there is a dark cloud descending. I do not think this is over.” He answered my gaze. 

     “It is not over, but just the beginning my friend. I think that those necromancers were apprentices. A true master would have been able to do that ritual alone. Any direction is fine with me.” I replied.

     “First, we need to get you a new spear.” Dazz said. 

     “Yes, this way, there is a village of plainsmen that will help with that.” I directed.

     We headed south towards the village of Foxprarie. Hopefully they will be able to supply me with another spear. I thought about my decision to leave my homeland as Dazz and I travelled. I felt that I had made the right decision now more than I did before. And now, I am no longer alone but have a kindred spirit to travel with.

     There was someone watching the two new friends leave from the mountains. He was draped in a black hooded cloak. They took down his acolytes; he had plans for them, plans to transform them into greater beings. Well, he could always find other acolytes. One thing that he learned after millennia of existence is that almost everything is replaceable. He did find it interesting that one of the pair was a lizardman, a lizardman battlemage. That he found very interesting.

     There was also a group of adventurers watching them. They were looking at them in a different light. They knew about the undead animals because they had taken down a few. 

     “They will join our ranks soon.” The apparent leader, a human, states to the group. 

     “They will?” An elf asked.

     “Yes, they saved all of those animals, nursed them all back to health, and are walking away with nothing to show for it, nor does it seem that they want anything for their deed. They saved those animals for no reason other than doing the right thing. We shall see them soon.” The leader answered. 

     The group then turned north going back the way they came. They knew that something was about to come to the plains, but it would be too big for their little band. They are to handle small matters. The big things are left to people like the two walking south.


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Synopsis
The 3rd installment of Kangg's beginning Journey and his meeting with the minotaur, Dazz
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