A moment frozen in time.
The orc priest’s head was flung back, his eyes weeping tears of blood. His nose was a river of blood. His mouth gaped, shouting to his god. The backdrop of the deep night, speckled with stars, split only by weak yellow torch light on a wall of stone. A battle raged on top of a tower wall. Three friends strove against a superior number of orcs. Thurg the Giantslayer, cast down on his back, his powerful magic flail lost amidst the feet and fury. The unholy words of the priest echoed in his ears. Halem, his shortswords a blur as they parried and thrust against the three orcs in close quarters. His efforts barely able to keep the darting enemy weapons from Thurg’s throat. The witch Alora, nimbly dancing backwards into thin air, her hair billowing around her in a corona. None of them able to hear the warning of their friend from inside the tower.
Hyacinth, the gnome mage who loved books more than anything. She heard the terrible power in the orc priest’s words and instinctively yelled a warning to her friends. None of them heard. Buck, the mighty ranger, reveled in the fight against his hated foes. His own sword, Banebringer, flashed and hummed as he fought. But then Hyacinth’s warning cry echoed in the tower they fought and he turned, listening to the powerful spell being cast by the orc but with no idea what was about to happen. Lila, the sorcerer with so much power, alone grasped Hyacinth’s warning. She took hold of the soft, fluttering edge of her new cloak and threw it around herself and Buck and Hyacinth. There was a clap of thunder and a flash of colored smoke and the three disappeared just as the wall began to shake in earnest.
Alora hung in the air, horrified, as a hundred foot section of the outer defensive wall of Waterdeep, unbreached in over a hundred years, shuddered, cracked and began a slow fall. The tower that Thurg and Halem stood atop of seemed to hover in the air for a moment, and then crumbled. The center collapsed and was quickly followed by the outer walls. Pieces of masonry of all sizes clattered against each other, the noise rolling over those watching.
Halem found himself atop a flat piece of roof as it slid down an avalanche of stone. His keen eyesight and reflexes served him well. As the roof piece began to flip, he jumped up and to his left, landing on a piece of wrought iron, he had no idea where it came from, and immediately jumped again as a block of stone as large as a house smashed down at him. His slippers of spider-climbing grasped the side of the house block and he raced upward in a delicate dance.
Thurg had no such luck. The massive half-orc tumbled. His head struck a battlement, his eyes going dim from the force of the impact. When he could see next, he found himself upside down, stone, dust, orcs and men scattered around him like falling rain.
Atop the next tower, Lila, Buck and Hyacinth appeared with another flash and peal of sound. The ground beneath their feet lurched and shuddered but the wall beneath them remained standing. The could see little of their friends in the darkness. Only the sounds of men and orcs crying out and the cacophony of rocks smashing against each other. The noise continued to grow until it was a physical force, clashing against the ears and exposed flesh of everyone within earshot. Thurg’s head collided with a massive block of stone and everything went dark. Halem, miraculously, rode the entire collapsing wall of stone as it spread out in a wide swath on the field of green-brown grass, emerging covered in dust but completely unscathed. Alora swooped down to him and together they began a frantic search for Thurg. Donnchadha, who had watched with keen avian eyes, swept down as Alora and Halem found Thurg’s body trapped, unresponsive, under a block of stone.
Together the group managed to free their fallen friend and with the help of their healing magic, brought him back once more from the brink of death. Later, as they sat in the rubble of the wall, the sprinkles of rain became a soft downpour. None of the Dawn Warriors moved. They simply sat, exhausted, and enjoyed the long absent sound of rain on the grass. To the north, a black smudge retreated towards the towering mountains that lay hidden by the night. The City of Splendors was safe once more.