The demonspawn poured across the lip of the bowl, advancing on them. Ezran sucked in a breath. As the hoghers took up their positions, and the Templars around him did the same, his eyes were drawn to the horizon.
A great darkness boiled up on the other side of the demonspawn army. It was small, relatively speaking, but looking at it was like looking into some deep hole — your eye kept expecting to see the bottom of it, but there was none to be found.
“It’s him,” said Fordrellon. Ezran’s mouth was too dry to answer.
The dark cloud resolved itself into a monstrous, winged form: a dragon, perhaps. Its edges remained unclear, and it might have been a bird or flying skiff instead. There was someone riding it.
“Get the women and children out,” said Ezran. “Back towards the Tower. I do not believe we will win this fight.”
“I can kill him,” said Fordrellon, not taking an eye off the shadowy form.
Ezran paused. He had been so sure… so sure he could’ve helped Sirith out of the darkness he had drawn around him during the Second Rising. The battlefield before him left no room or time for arguments however, and Fordrellon was rushing off to make his own preparations.
The armies soon clashed, the illusion-clad akor’mari bravely fending the demonspawn off while the civilians ran behind them. Ezran got into the battle himself, trusting Geist’s pick of where to charge first. His blackiron sword sang and glowed with the mana it absorbed at each death, and Ezran let it all feed into him, biding his time, waiting until the proper moment to let off a spell.
Despite their valor, his men were pushed back down into the bowl of the prairie. The shadowy figure continued to hover and wheel, though every so often it let out a great gout of flame, touching down on the battlefield, burning the grass and covering the sky in smoke. Now and then the shadow would duck behind the haze, out of Ezran’s line of sight as he strained his stinging eyes. He couldn’t tell what the flame was aimed at, though he could smell its victims; he hoped the burning flesh didn’t belong to someone he knew personally.
Their backs reached the riverbed, and Ezran sounded the full retreat, then. The akor’mari leaped down the overgrown ditch’s sides and clambered across the deep sand in the middle. The shadow dived towards them suddenly, looping around, and Ezran felt the air turn hot and chokingly dry as the flame came again, burning a path between them and the demonspawn. Almost as if creating a wall… but why…?
The shadow had wheeled and was coming back the other way. Ezran thought he saw the plan now: Sirith was laying out a curtain of fire, a trap, cutting him off from the demonspawn but also cutting Ezran and his akor’mari off from the fleeing villagers.
Except the shadow passed on by overhead, and no flame came.
Ezran heard Fordrellon’s cry, then: a shout of prayer to Carro, and the symbol on Ezran’s chest suddenly thrummed and grew warm. A massive bolt of Light, as swift as if it was lobbed from a ballista, streaked towards the winged shadow. Ezran’s faith felt like it was splitting, as it struck the dragon-like form and the thing screamed and began to plummet from the sky.
He watched in a haze as the Templars, bereft his commanding voice, crossed back over the burning riverbed and routed the confused demonspawn. He had only eyes for the crumpled black form, crashed into the old rocky ford, and the blinding white of the wrathful paladin soon to intercept it.
He leaned over Geist, kneading its neck, and the rinaan didn’t need his urging, but he worried they would be too late.