Story: The Broken Vigil
In the quaint town of Lower Peak, a young soldier named Private Alden, fresh out of training, found himself thrust into a nightmarish reality. Assigned to bolster the town guard as one of the few professional soldiers from the Ochal Legion, he had never seen the brutality of battle. As the night descended, Private Alden sat atop his horse, feeling blessed at such a peaceful first tour of duty. Suddenly, the eerie silence shattered, replaced by the horrifying shrieks and war cries of a massive goblin army pouring in from the northwest. Panic gripped the young soldier as he realized the direness of the situation. Desperation painted the canvas of the night, with goblins overwhelming the town guard at every turn. Private Alden fought alongside his comrades, but one by one, they fell in the face of the goblin onslaught. Buildings were ransacked, and innocent townsfolk were ruthlessly executed or dragged away, their terrified cries echoing through the air. Amidst the chaos, a creature of pure fire and rage appeared like a specter, obliterating the goblin forces with an otherworldly fury. The sight struck terror into Private Alden's heart. He believed this being to be a demon, conjured from the depths of the netherworld, and he trembled with greater fear for this creature than for the goblins themselves. Hours passed, and the din of battle gradually receded, leaving behind a haunting silence. It was then that Private Alden, his nerves raw, noticed a faint glow approaching him. Trembling with trepidation, he peered through the darkness, horrified to witness the demonic figure emerging from the gloom. The creature was drenched in the gore and viscera of the goblins it had slain, a sight that chilled Private Alden to the bone. The demon, with a voice that resonated with both power and compassion, reached out a hand toward him. In that moment, the magical effects surrounding the demon faded away, revealing the true form of the figure before him. It was not a demon but Antoinette Alerial, the mayor of Lower Peak. Private Alden's mind, shattered by the horrors he had witnessed, could no longer distinguish between reality and nightmare. Consumed by delusion and fear, he mistook Mayor Alerial for the very demon he had dreaded, his mind fractured beyond repair. The dawn broke over Lower Peak, revealing a town scarred by the horrors of the night. The sacrifices of the brave guards and the tragic fate of Private Alden served as haunting reminders of the toll that battle and the stress of combat can exact on the human psyche. Mayor Alerial, burdened by the weight of this loss, vowed to heal the wounds inflicted upon her town, fostering resilience and support for those affected by the traumas of war. In the years that followed, Lower Peak rebuilt, carrying within its heart the echoes of that fateful night. It stood as a testament to the fragility of the human spirit and the importance of compassion and understanding in times of despair. And Mayor Alerial, forever marked by the encounter with Private Alden, led her people with strength and unwavering determination, determined to guide them towards a future filled with hope and healing.