The Doomed Watch in Tales of Radiance | World Anvil

The Doomed Watch

As the sun dipped beyond the horizon, casting hues of orange and purple across the sky, two guards, Tomas and Eliza, took their positions atop the town's watchtower. From their vantage point, they gazed upon the serenity of the town nestled within the valley below.   The evening breeze carried whispers of unsettling tales that had been circulating among the townsfolk. Strange happenings were said to occur under the cloak of darkness: mysterious lights flickering in abandoned buildings, odd shapes darting across alleys, and eerie sounds drifting from the outskirts. Thomas and Eliza, seasoned guards with an air of skepticism, had dismissed these stories as mere hearsay. However, the persistent rumors had sparked their curiosity.   Leaning against the watchtower battlements, Thomas adjusted his helm and turned to Eliza. "Have you heard about the peculiar things folks have been chattering about lately?"   Eliza, scanning the town with a watchful eye, nodded. "Aye, strange tales indeed. But I reckon it's just wild imaginations runnin' amok."   Thomas chuckled, "Aye, perhaps a few too many tankards of ale fuelin' those tales."   As the night deepened, the town's usual tranquility was interspersed with an air of unease. Faint whispers of unsettling sounds seemed to dance on the breeze. Eliza's brow furrowed as she surveyed the streets below, her senses on high alert.   "Did you hear that?" Eliza whispered, her tone laced with a hint of uncertainty.   Thomas nodded, squinting into the distance. "Aye, strange noises, like whispers on the wind."   Their watchful eyes darted from shadow to shadow, scanning the alleyways and dark corners for any signs of the rumored disturbances. A flickering light caught their attention from an abandoned warehouse, adding to the eerie atmosphere.   Eliza leaned closer to Thomas, her voice barely above a whisper. "Maybe there's some truth to those stories after all."   Thomas, gripping his sword hilt tighter, nodded in agreement. "Might be worth investigating."   Leaving their posts briefly, they stealthily made their way towards the warehouse. Cautiously, they peered inside, finding no signs of life but hearing faint murmurs echoing through the empty halls.   "Strange indeed," Thomas muttered, exchanging a glance with Eliza.   As they returned to their watchtower, the night wore on, and the whispers seemed to fade into the darkness. Tomas and Eliza, discussing the bizarre occurrences they had just witnessed, mused over the possibility of something otherworldly lurking in the town's shadows.   Despite their doubts, the strange events had left an indelible mark on their minds. As the sun began to rise, bathing the town in a soft morning glow, Thomas and Eliza shared a glance, a silent agreement that there might indeed be mysteries yet to be uncovered beneath the surface of the town they had sworn to protect. *** Throughout the day, nothing seemed to have changed; everything seemed normal as usual, and both guards went along with their assignments. However, as the sun slowly set on the horizon, casting long shadows across the streets, an unsettling quiet blanketed the town. The townsfolk had locked themselves away behind the safety of closed doors while the usually bustling marketplace lay deserted. The only signs of life came from the flickering lights and eerie whispers drifting from the abandoned warehouse. Thomas and Eliza stood guard at their post, watchful eyes scanning the darkening streets below. "You ever get the feelin' that somethin' ain't right?" Thomas whispered, his voice barely audible. Eliza nodded, her hand gripping her sword hilt tightly. "Aye, there's a strange feelin' in the air tonight." The two guards, their senses heightened, were alert to even the slightest sound or movement. Both had only recently heard about the stories of badlanders wandering the countryside and attacking settlements that were often isolated. Only to find ruins of what was left of them and their inhabitants either dead or missing. The thought went through both of their minds if this was possible and that the town could be targeted for all they knew. In the distance, they could hear the faint howl of a wolf. A cold chill ran down their spines as they exchanged a wary glance. "Ain't no wolves out this way," Thomas whispered. "Must be those blasted badlanders." Eliza's face was pale. "Let's pray to the Spark they stay clear of our town." The moon cast its pale glow over the empty streets as the guards watched the eerie quietude envelop the town. The whispers from the abandoned warehouse had faded into the night, but a strange feeling still hung in the air. Both Tomas and Eliza knew something wasn't right. As the night dragged on, the tension between the two grew. Eliza's nerves were on edge, her hand never leaving the hilt of her sword. Tomas, on the other hand, tried to keep himself calm, knowing he needed a level head if they were to face any danger. They both gave one another a look to see if either of them should inform the watch commander about their suspicions, but should they separate, would they ever see one another again? The moon slowly made its descent, and the first rays of sunlight began to peek over the horizon. With a sigh of relief, the two guards realized they had made it through another night unscathed. As the town awoke, the marketplace began to buzz with activity, and the streets were once again filled with people going about their daily lives. However, a lingering unease remained. A feeling that their world was about to change. "I have a bad feeling about this." Eliza shook her head. "As do I," Tomas agreed. Their watchtower overlooked the entire town, giving them a vantage point that no one else could have. When their shift came to an end, they decided to report their finding to their Watch Commander, Renzel, of the recent disturbance that had been happening of late, hoping that he would take it seriously and prepare the town for a possible attack. Renzel had listened to the two guards' accounts and thanked them for their hard work. However, when they requested a patrol, he told them he would need more evidence before he could mobilize a search party. Tomas and Eliza were disappointed by Renzel's lack of concern, but they respected his decision and took their leave. As they exited the command tent, Tomas glanced back at Renzel and frowned. "He's not takin' this seriously." Eliza nodded in agreement. "Aye, if we don't do somethin' soon, I fear this town is gonna pay the price." Tomas and Eliza were not the only ones who had noticed the strange occurrences. Some townsfolk were becoming increasingly paranoid, jumping at every shadow and locking their doors at night. However, others continued to go about their daily lives, oblivious to the growing unrest. The day had come and gone, and Tomas and Eliza's shifts were almost over. As the sun set, a sense of dread began to creep over the town. The whispering voices returned, drifting on the evening breeze. Tomas and Eliza shared a concerned look. "This can't be good," Eliza whispered. As night fell, the tension in the air grew. Tomas and Eliza scanned the shadows, their weapons at the ready. The faintest sounds set them on edge. The night was a blur of adrenaline and fear as the two guards struggled to keep a calm head in the face of the sounds that surrounded them; then, with a sudden scream from the watchtower next to them, they saw something grab one of their fellow guardsmen into the darkness. "We gotta help him!" Tomas cried. "Aye," Eliza agreed. The two guards rushed to the aid of their comrade, but by the time they arrived, it was too late. The guard was lying lifeless on the cobblestone ground, his throat torn open. His assailant had vanished into the darkness. With only darkness around them as they scanned in the dimly lit town. "What in the name of the Spark was that?" Eliza gasped. Tomas shook his head, his face pale. "I dunno, but whatever it was, it wasn't natural." The way that the guard was killed was nothing like it either had ever seen in their lives and the way that his body was cut open like was quite upsetting for both of them. It took them a moment to understand what had just happend that they realized that no other guards had responded to the disturbance. "Where are the others?" Eliza asked. Tomas looked around, noticing the silence. "They should have been here by now. Somethin' ain't right." The two guards exchanged a worried look. Both of them looking around the wall that they were stationed on to see any sign of movement to be found. Yet there was none and no lights either for some reason, only parts of pale light of the moon that managed to escape the clouds that manage to reach the wall. "Something is wrong," Eliza said, gripping her sword. The two guards moved swiftly and silently through the shadows, searching for their fellow watchmen. After several minutes of fruitless searching, they finally stumbled across the other guards, lying motionless in a heap on the ground. It was a shocking sight to behold and more that dozens lied piled up inside the stable not to far from their tower. "Light preserve us," Tomas pleaded. Eliza shook her head, her eyes wide. "What could have done this?" The two guards, fear and panic filling their hearts, searched frantically for any signs of life, but it was futile. Only for Eliza to feel as she was being watch by something and it made the hairs on her neck stand up on ends, causing her to shiver. "Do you feel that?" Eliza whispered. "Aye, somethin's watching us," Tomas replied, his eyes darting around the stable. both of them drawing their swords and back to back to one other to ensure neither would be exposed to an attack. They waited with bated breath, listening intently for any sound or sign of movement. But all was silent, save for their own heavy breathing. The tension was palpable, and both guards were on edge. Only for something to final rush out of the dark and long blade to finally come at them. Tomas let out a yell as he swung his sword with all his might, only to be parried away by the unknown assailant. Eliza leapt forward, striking at the figure with her blade, but it too was deflected. From the short amounts of sparks that came from the clashing of steal, revealed a individual covered in blade with a long closk covering their features. Their pose was one a skill warrior and as soon as they relavled themselves they faded back into the darkness from whence they came. Waiting for another moment to strike. The two guards knew that they were outmatched and knew they needed to retreat before they became its next victims. "Retreat!" Tomas yelled. As he grabbed a flash marble from his pouch and threw it on the ground as made their escape. As the marble made contact with the stone ground, burst of light came forth lighting the entire stable in a blinding light, with a hiss being let out by their attacker being blinded by the overwhelming white that caught them by suprise The two guards turned and fled, running as fast as their legs could carry them. Tomas being in front moving as much as his armor would let them and Eliza not too far behind as she tried to keep us, not being use to running in scale armor. Neither of them stopped as Tomas was only thinking of getting help from farther into the town and dealing with their attacker and Eliza trying to understand how easily their attacker managed to kill so many of their comrades without anyone noticing. It was not until a loud crash sounded across the town that both of them stopped to see where it came from. "What was that?" Eliza asked. Tomas shook his head, his eyes wide with fear. "The gate, something is hitting the gate." The two guards stood in horror as they watched the gate being hit over and over again with loud booms, each hit causing the gate to groan under the weight. While they managed to get a good distance away from the gate, it didn't stop the loud bounding of the old wood that kept it together from where they were standing. The noise had also begun to awaken some of the townspeople as lights began to come to life from the houses around them to investigate the disturbance of the blissful slumber. "Don't tell me," Eliza whispered. "How did they get so close? No siege equipment is that quiet," Tomas said, his voice trembling. Both of them watched as the gate splintered with each blow. Neither of them had ever seen anything like this. Then, with a final crash, the gate broke open. The two guards stood frozen as the unknown enemy poured into the town like a torrent of water. Yet, instead of Badlanders pouring through the now broken gate, it was something far worse than they could possibly imagine. "Gloomspawn!" Tomas Yelled, his face pale with terror. They once more ran deeper into down, hoping that once they reached the garrison they would stand a chance at this new threat. Both of them heard about the stories of the Gloomspawn but never truly realized the horror they could bring, even from a distance. "We need to alert the tower!" Eliza yelled, her face pale with fright. Tomas nodded, his heart pounding in his chest. "Aye, we need more men if we're going to keep this place from being consumed by them! Yet the closer they got to their destination, that they realized that their situation was much more severe than they thought. It was not just a small group of Gloomspawn, but a full horde of them had been at the outskirts of their gates for the last couple of nights. "Light preserves us," Tomas gasped as he watched those who were not fortunate or fast enough to realize what was happening by the Gloomspawn that poured into it like a flood. And they were not just coming through the gate. They came from the alleyways and from the rooftops as they descended upon the town and attacked anything within their reach. "Don't stop no matter what!" Eliza urged as they ran towards the garrison. The two guards pushed themselves to the limits as they raced through the streets. Their eyes filled with fear as they watched their home being torn apart by the creatures of darkness. They knew that they couldn't do anything or save anyone at this point the foe that they faced was too strong to face without the proper weaponry and number to face them and even then their chances of survival were slim enough already. "We're almost there!" Tomas called out as the garrison came into sight. With the goal in sight, they pushed even harder, knowing that their salvation lay just beyond the doors. Only for it to be snatched from their reach by the cold claw of reality as a guard came bursting out of the door and dragged through it by a black hand made from the vilest of sludge imaginable as he let out a blood-curdling scream. "No!" Tomas yelled as he watched his fellow guard being pulled back into the garrison. "We can't stop!" Eliza shouted as she grabbed him by the arm. "Our only chance is the tower now." There was no hope of getting out of this alive now. All they could do was warn the other settlements so they did not suffer the same fate. The two guards changed the direction of their destination and kept running, even as the screams of everyone around them echoed through the night. It felt like an eternity to reach it while being surrounded by a never-ending nightmare burst through the door with Tomas closing and reinforcing it behind him as loud banging could be heard from outside, most like the Gloomspawn that was pursuing them along the way. Despite being strong enough to keep people from getting through, these were not people as the hinges began to buckle, and the wood began to splinter. Eliza was already up the first few stairs when she realized that Tomas was not following her. When she turned around, she saw him with his sword drawn and staring directly at the door that was continually falling apart with each moment. "What are you doing?!" Eliza screamed. "Someone has to buy us time," Tomas replied, his voice trembling. Eliza shook her head, her eyes filled with tears. "No, please, we can make it!" Tomas smiled sadly, his eyes never leaving the door. "I'm sorry, Eliza, but if we want this message to reach the other towers, someone has to stay behind." Eliza watched as the door began to crack under the relentless assault, knowing that he was right. With tears in her eyes, she nodded and continued to climb the stairs. As she reached the top, she turned around and looked down at Tomas. He had always been by her side and now she was abandoning him. She knew that this would haunt her for the rest of her life. But she also knew that if she didn't warn the other towers, then more lives would be lost to the horde that was now upon them. "May the Spark bring you home," Eliza said, her voice thick with emotion she began to run up the spire stairway of stone as fast as her feet would let her. "and to you as well," said Tomas, as he knew his time was drawing near. All he could do now was to make sure that he could hold them back as long as possible and maybe even take one or two of the smudges with him as he let out a stiff chuckle attempting to muster what courage he could find. "In the darkest hour, when all seems lost, the light shall be there to guide my way," he said with growing confidence as he began to recite the holy sermons that were preached at the town's temple where their Illumine priestess resided or did seeing that everyone outside now was either dead of corrupted now. The door began to give way more and more as he continued to so say these words to himself, allowing him to have the resolve he needed to stand his ground. "For those that remain true and just shall overcome all the seek to break them from the golden path,"   The door began to shake more violently as the hinges began to bend and the wood splinter, even the stone around it began to shift and crack out of place. It would be anyone moment now, the moment of his finest hour, his final stand that will not be remembered, but he would know and so would his maker when he welcomed him with the embrace of his warm. “For even the darkest of night must come to an end and bring forth the daw-,” A loud crash engulfed the room as a hole appeared in the center of the door and with this danger drawing near he charge forth with his sword raised letting out a mighty battle cry, “for the dawn!” to strike it down and many more to come.   Eliza was drenched in sweat as she continue her way up the spiral stairs getting closer to her goal that would be soon in reach. Though she did hope it would be sooner as her legs ached in pain as if needles were stabbed into her and her lungs felt as if hot coals were shoved down her throat. She would have been cursing the the mason whole built the tower and the amount of accursed stairs if she wasn't focused on the task at hand. She had been running for so long since this all began she had barely had a chance to catch her breath, but seemed to be not meant to be as time was not on her side.   "Blasted stairs," she thought to herself not wanting to waste any of her precious breath with meaningless word that were used in more comforting times. But she knew that she had almost reached the top as she had climbed them countless time when it was her time to guard the tower's signaler. All she hoped was that he was still alive as he was the only one that knew how to operate the crystal the powered it. In all of this thought she finally realized that she was almost at the top of the tower now. But as she started to slow down to reach the top flow she heared a loud craking sound from the stair below and a battle cry of Tomas that followed.   "Holy Spark, no," Eliza whispered as she slowly stepped forward.   Her fatigue finally catching up to her as she supported herself on the cold stone wall as she made her way to the signal room, hoping to find the signaler at his post still. Only here the sound of clashing steel coming from the room as her senses return to her. She began to pick up the pace and as see reached the doorway she spotted a hand covered in blood laying upon the stone as pool of blood surrounded it. She lifted her sword that he had held the entire way and pressed forward only to find commander Renzel fighting one of the dark figure that she and Tomas had encountered before. Both were locked in an intense clash power blade as the room was a mess covered with paper scattered about as well as a few guards, including the signaler. Eliza did not focus on that of course and instead the saving of her command officer, but she knew that she was useless in her current state.   The only chance she had was to strike the dark figure from behind and deliver a killing blow or at least give Renzel a opening to do so. Summoning her courage and resolve, she stealthily moved as quietly as she could, her heart pounding with the weight of the crucial moment. The dark warrior loomed ahead, their malevolent presence palpable, casting a sinister aura that sent shivers down her spine as she saw them moving .   Silent as the grave, she inched closer, every step calculated to evade detection. The fate of her officer rested on this pivotal moment. With Renzel's safety and the chance of of there mission at stake, she knew the risk she was about to take.   The dark figure stood poised, unaware of her approach, their attention fixed on Renzel, who stood at the edge of the room losing momentum as he began to tire. He was losing this fight and he knew it would be soon. It was now or never. She braced herself, determination burning within her, as she prepared to strike.   Closing in from behind, she lunged forward with precision, aiming for a vital opening that could cripple the dark figure or provide Renzel an opportunity to deliver a decisive blow. Her blade glinted in the dim light, poised for the critical strike that could turn the tide in their favor.   As her weapon arced through the air towards the figure, a sudden glint of recognition flashed across their eyes. A twist of fate or a premonition, the figure whirled around, narrowly evading her strike. With their blade the figure nocked Eliza's sword out of her as she what loosen he grip at the last moment as her fatigue was affecting her judgement. The blade clanging to the messy floor and a moment a dark colored short sword being thrusted towards her. It was too late to move out of the way all she could do was hope her armor took most of the blow, all see could do was move back to avoid it penerating her stomach too deep and killing her.   Yet it would not be enough as the blade went through armor and pierced the her flesh like it was nothing. Letting a grunt of pain as the short sword sank a few inches into her. Luckily for her moving back a few inches insured that the blow would not be fatal as looked bown at the dark color blade as the pain it gave off was unbearable.   In that brief, charged moment, she locked eyes with the dark figure, while not fully seeing his face under the hood, she felt a smug look of satisfaction. But rather than a look of defeat on her face, she was more determined than ever. In an instant she grabbed the blade with both of her hands grabbing onto the metal with a solid grip, refusing to let go of it.   This seemed to catch her attacker by surprise as they attempted to pull it out of her grasp


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