I said nothing, thinking only of the flames that were breaching my armor. I looked down, and screamed. My feet were already gone, consumed by the tongues of fire. In their place stood hooves.
“He can be wrong,” the demon hissed.
I woke to the whine or artillery powering en masse. I started, and my mastodon stood and shook herself awake. The sky was still dark, though now clear. There was no hint of dawn, or of the mist. The only fog was low in the valley and away to the north, over where the encampment was.
“Do not believe your dreams,” said a familiar voice, and I looked and saw Jerem Cozak silhouetted atop the matriarch, standing as always just to my left. “There is little truth in them.” There came the throb of our disks releasing their charges, and he pointed to indicate that I should witness the exchange. “Time burns. The wind could not be prevented. We would have been exposed regardless.”
But not all the artillery had fired, only perhaps a third of them, targeting a tower. Their orbs sang through the air and struck around its base. A few missed and dissolved in the air above the city. Almost none struck the wall. When those had fallen silent came the second wave, and the third, all targeting the same tower, but none of them the wall.
“But – ” I began to say, and Jerem Cozak motioned me to silence. There came from the city itself a high keening sound that hurt my ears and made me look down and away. It deepened quickly. The artillery officers abandoned their machines and dove into the ditches behind them.
The whine became a thump, then a whooshing sound, and from the tops of the towers swept a swift line of golden energy, a yellow-white ring that surged down the sides of the towers and leaped out away from the wall and the cliffs and through the air across the creek, arcing down until it slammed into the shallows that lined the river and turned them to steam before sweeping up the slope to where a squad of artillery men had not yet abandoned their equipment.
I do not know why they had not left. Either the operators had misunderstood or there was some fault with the disks, but in any case in one moment eight men were climbing out of their artillery or diving for the ditches. And in another moment they were gone. I thought I saw, for a moment, their outlines superimposed upon that ring of energy just as it struck them, but then it passed through them and they were only red droplets descending as a pale fine mist. What happened to their armor I do not know. Perhaps it had been even more violently disintegrated.