The heavy apparatuses creaked and groaned ominously

He and the other Vindicators, holy warriors of the Light, would fight to the very last. He glanced to either side at his brethren stationed at intervals along the wall walk. Like him, they stood impassive and resolute, having reached their own peace with the destiny that now awaited them. Outside, the war machines had arrived: catapults, rams, ballistae–siege engines of every description passing briefly through the torchlight. Their heavy apparatuses creaked and groaned ominously as they were positioned within striking distance of the walls. Drumbeats sounded, sporadic at first, then quickly joined by more and more until the entire forest was alive with a rhythm that started soft like the rain, then grew to a persistent, thundering roll. Nobundo whispered a prayer, asking the Light to give him strength.

There was a deep rumbling and movement in the murky clouds overhead that echoed the frantic drumbeats below. For a second Nobundo wondered if perhaps the Light meant to answer his prayer with a display of power and fury beyond any he could hope to summon, a great beam of holy fire that would eradicate the entire savage, bloodthirsty army in one magnificent sweep. A display indeed followed, but not of the holy powers of the Light. The clouds thundered, swirled, and erupted, punched through by massive flaming projectiles that hurtled to the earth with meteoric speed and bone-jarring strength. A deafening roar assaulted Nobundo’s ears as one of the objects passed perilously close, obliterating a nearby buttress and pelting him with flying debris.

As if awaiting this signal, the multitudes outside pressed forward, their bloodcurdling war-cries rolling over the city as they mobilized with singular purpose: to destroy all within their path. The rain’s intensity increased as the outermost walls shuddered from the strikes of massive stones slung by the crude catapults. Nobundo knew the outer walls would not hold. They had been constructed rather hastily: the wall sections extending above the depressed floor of the outer ring were an addition made in the last year, a defense made necessary by the orcs’ methodical extermination of his people and the subsequent realization that this city would be their final bastion.