The Watcher

I stood watch as the storm encroached on the city walls. There was perhaps ten minutes before the eastern walls would be destroyed by the immense force of nature. Almost everybody has been evacuated, even the wizards, though they were last to go. Countless spells were thrust into the storm to no avail. Webs of protective magic were weaved at strategic points such as the Keep, cathedral, and the university. These webs were spun by the power of all six wizards and took a great deal of effort and time that was rapidly depleting.

It was dawn but the sky appeared midnight. The king and his guard would be safe by now but the people were moving slow as their horses had all fallen victim to a mysterious plague that took their lives most viciously in a slow, agonizing death. The mothers bundled their children in several layers of cloth and their fathers bestowed steel swords for warding off the beasts that lurked in the woods surrounding their home. There would be no protest or surprise to the armed children, it has long been known that death was very close to our people, and the wall as well as the wizards protective magic is what kept it away.

Before the caravan of townsfolk left, the wizards cast spells to ward off the monsters of the night. Although, it was not guaranteed that it would protect from all forms. There is a tale that floats around campfires about a group of sentries that were scouting the outer edges of their city for a potential enemy siege. Before their departure, a wizard had cast protective magic over the four individuals and warned them of the possibility of attack despite the magic. The sentries would hear none of that, for the warmth and sanctity of the wizard’s magic instilled a hope and excitement they had not felt before. And so that afternoon they wandered through the woods and could hear the foul cries of anmals warded off by the magic and the screeching of horrors that took flight at the first whiff of their altered flesh. Then, before them, stood a creature on two feet adorned with jewels and bones. Its black fur was thick and long and rose up to its bare belly which bore a gold bar through the naval. The chest was emblazoned with tribal tattoos and the neck bulged with thick veins. The mouth was hung open and revealed a set of sharp fangs. Its eyes were shot open and the iris glowed golden. Two ivory horns portruded from its forehead and it wore its hair in a single white braid.

The four sentries gazed upon this creature and froze. The warmth of the magic disappeared and now there was only the chill of the approaching beast. Arrows were nocked and loosed and six made contact without so much as breaking its stride as it casually walked towards them. Then, as one man brandished his longsword, the animal opened its arms to reveal several glowing eyeballs all attached to small brown bodies that fell to the ground and sprinted towards to the men. The fat rodents leapt onto their faces and clawed out their eyes and dug into their cheeks and feasted on their insides as the larger creature began looting their bags and testing the strength of their weaponry which was also enchanted by the wizards.

The protective magic still wards of the majority of woodland creatures. However, there are those who are immune and it always seems to be the ones who are most terrifying. Only the Grand Wizard is known to possess magic powerful enough to stop every beast known in Woodhara. Yet the Grand Wizard travels with the king only and is at his disposal exclusively.

So why, then, hadn’t the king ordered his wizard to stop this storm from destroying the city? Of course this is a sensible inquiry. However, one observes the current political climate and understands the neglect the people have faced at the hands of their king who prefers to flee unless weighed down by a large enough sack of coins. The great council views our city as a self-serving machine and I imagine our new king, a young man who served five years in the military, is desperately trying to evade the image left by his father, and so views the storm as a cleansing. For that I do not fault him.

Now I shall wait until I can discern with absolute certainty that the storm demolishes the city walls and just when it appears total devastation is inevitable, I shall follow behind the townsfolk on their journey west towards the sea and ward off the terrors that lurk so they might believe that the magic does work, but only as long as my blades are sharp.


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