The attack came in the middle of the night. Tevond jerked to consciousness at the sound of yells and the clank of metal. The smells of battle filled the air: smoke, sweat, and urine. Panic at a surprise attack is what causes the largest amount of casualties. The tent was already on fire. Tevond inhaled smoke, and rushed out of the tent coughing. His comrades were outside engaging in combat with orcs baring red iron armor and large axes made for lopping off heads. Paul had a pair of corpses strewn at his feet, various limbs and organs bloodying the dirt around his feet. A third orc hacked at him with an overhead strike, which deflected off Paul’s shield. Tevond took the opportunity to hurl a fireball at the orc as he recovered. The blast seared his chestplate, melting through to burn the green flesh beneath. The orc lost his footing, and Paul’s sword removed half his head. Marianne and Dale were both handling an orc off to Tevond’s left. Marianne channeled a stream of ice to slow the orc as Dale hacked at him with a pair of swords. The orc quickly fell and died, bloody and well-frosted. Tevond strode over to Marianne.
“What’s the situation?” he asked.
“The orcs are deep into the camp,” Marianne replied, “The commanders called out for a defensive formation a minute ago. I tried to wake you, but the orcs…”
“Never mind that, we need to gather with the other troops,” Paul interrupted. He sprinted towards a pack of orcs as they charged a wall of shield bearers in the direction of the center of camp. Tevond conjured his battlegear and made to join the fray. The next half-hour was a blur of fire, steel, flesh, and piles of corpses. He and Marianne took positions on the high ground while Paul and Dale supported the shield wall on the low as the orcs began to charge in with wolf riders. Tevond hardly had to aim at first, when the groups were closely packed and the number of orcs beyond count. After a few attempts to break the wall, however, the orcs began to diminish in number and became less organized. Once the last charge broke against the line once more, a huge fireball hurdled towards Tevond and the other mages on the hill. Tevond grabbed Marianne and pulled her to the ground just as the fireball passed over them. The spell exploded on impact with the base of a watchtower a few feet away.
“Tevond, look out!” Marianne screamed as a second spell careened toward them over the battlefield. This time, the mages blinked away to avoid the spell. Tevond crash-landed at the foot of the hill, right behind the shield wall. Marianne was nowhere to be seen. Tevond lifted himself to his feet and looked out across the dark field, and saw a line of dozens of warlocks, all hurling large fireballs at the camp. One hit to his right side, vaporizing the footmen holding the line. Paul charged headlong at the warlocks, and before Tevond could call for him to stop, a fireball melted his shield arm off. Paul’s screams joined the chorus of agony that took flight over the burning camp, but not for long. A warlock walked up to him, and crushed his sword arm with a boot while thrusting a fiery blade into his throat. Paul’s screams petered into gargles and chokes as the flesh of his head and neck burned away.
Tevond was smart enough to realize that the line would break completely in a few minutes, if not seconds. He ran toward the center of the camp, keeping his eyes open for Marianne. For a long terrifying moment, he couldn’t spot her in the crowd of retreating soldiers. Dale appeared beside him for a while, his swords both either bent or chipped where they had cut through orc armor and red with blood where they had pierced orc flesh. Another fireball burst into a watchtower, blowing the roof into several pieces, and causing part of it to collapse. A brick hit Tevond in the shoulder, and he nearly stumbled and fell, but Dale caught him, dropping one of his swords to do so.
“Don’t you go dying too, mage,” he said as he pushed Tevond back onto his feet. After another minute, he spotted Marianne. Tevond moved faster than he thought he could to reach her side, Dale following, muttering curses in his heavy mail. Tevond tapped Marianne on her shoulder when he reached her, and she smiled at the sight of him. “Hey there, you. Thought I’d lost you.” The three of them ran together until they reached another shield wall. This one was larger than the last, but it was still being bombarded by fireballs. Tevond heard a commander shout, and heavy cavalry charged the warlock line, scattering them. Tevond hurled his own fireballs with Marianne beside him throwing chunks of ice. Their dance of red fire and blue frost seemed beautiful on the dark and bloody battlefield. Once the warlocks had scattered or died, more wolves began to charge the cavalry. Now the Alliance soldiers were being scattered, as the wolves darted around the heavy horses, the riders hacking the knights to ribbons. In seconds, the scene shifted from glorious counterattack to bloody massacre. More fireballs landed, but this time, they fell from above. A dragon flew over the Alliance line, burning everything in its wake.
Tevond and Marianne were nearly burned by the dragon flame, and trampled by the fleeing footmen. They were taken away from the battle by the crowd. The dragon turned in their direction, and burned a huge swath of land before them. They turned off away from the camp, and the battle. They ran for nearly an hour before the slaughter and horror faded away behind them. When they finally found rest and refuge in the forest nearby, the shouts of terror and pain had become muffled whispers in the distance.
Tevond, Marianne, Dale, and about half a dozen other survivors gathered together, breathing hard after their long run to safety. In a few minutes, the group was divided by an argument of whether they should all flee or return to the battle. Tevond and Marianne sat together on a stump, quiet while the others argued. Dale was all for returning, but he was too battered and ill-equipped to rush back into the fray. In the end, most ran back to fight again, but the three comrades and one man who named himself Carl the Blade were left alone at the edge of the woods.
“Should we go back?” Marianne asked, “If we don’t, we could be punished as deserters…”
“The camp will be lost. There won’t be anything to go back to,” declared Carl.
“I think it is best we return to the fleet,” said Tevond, “If we can’t go to the camp, at least we can tell the sailors what happened and get out of this place.” The others agreed with him, and they walked along the river to reach the landing site. However, once they reached a hill overlooking the beachhead, they saw much of the fleet burning as well. They discussed the situation further, and decided they had no choice but to march back to Honor Hold alone. They began to move, but made camp once they were well-hidden in the woods. Tevond slept with Marianne in his arms. Despite the terrible turn of the night, he did sleep soundly and comfortably for the first time in months.
"I am the Night!" -Brinnea, Rikthered, Cynthya, Orgog, Kazarak.....