The wooden ship moved like some great bulbous whale as it swung around and headed towards the tower. It swooped low overhead and out to sea where it came about to leer over the ships waiting in the harbour below.
The crowd stopped as one, as though it were a single beast holding its breath. Hundreds of pairs of eyes were turned out to sea, fixed in obvious terror as the tall figure at the prow of the ship surveyed them with a palpable hatred. A curious blueish glow seemed to surround the vessel and its occupants, all of whom were covered from head to toe in loose black strips of cloth that denied any close examination of their shape or faces. Their leader was similarly clad, but with sharp curved shapes protruding from underneath. He raised his arm high in what looked like a salute to the people below him and then dropped it suddenly like a sword coming down on a condemned neck.
The crowd screamed and tried to run in every direction at once. The front of the hovering ship began to glow with more and more of the blue light, a large crackling spinning ball rapidly forming in front of the dark figure. Below people were being trampled into the ground and the water. The boats moored up cut their ropes and desperately started to row themselves out to sea. A few brave souls fired arrow after arrow up at the ship, but they were wasted efforts. The dark figure, now lit in a brilliant blue light, smiled cruelly and shouted is a voice that made my spine run cold “RAZDA!”. The ball of energy exploded forwards and down into the massed throng beneath me with a sub-sonic WHUMP! that knocked me to the stone floor. The breath was pulled from my lungs and my ears roared with pain as the air around me screamed past, battering me with the force of a gale. Over the bellowing winds I could hear the terrified screams of the people below. I crawled on my hands and knees towards the edge of the tower, each inch was like digging through red hot sand and I was gasping for breath by the time I reached the lip and hauled myself up enough to look over. I wish I hadn’t.
People and animals and carts were burning in a sea of rolling, boiling blue flames. The ships in the harbour had been reduced to raging infernos. People flung themselves into the waters only to burn even more fiercely in a sea that was itself on fire. The sound of horror was unimaginable and I held my hands to my ears in an fruitless attempt to block it out.
And above the carnage hung the strange wooden ship, the rowers cheering and chanting at the work of their leader.
There was a sudden sense of movement behind me and I turned to find a wooden trapdoor opening and a tall, old man in a dark robe pulling himself up onto the roof with me. He looked as startled by me as I was with him and tried to shout to me but the noise drowned him out so he waved me away and struggled to his feet. He held his hand in front of him clutching a small twig sporting a few green leaves and the air seemed to part around it, to flow either side of the stick as if there were an invisible barrier moving in front of him. He walked to the edge of the tower and stood beside me where he began to say something I could not hear above the tempest. There was a sudden, violent vibration in the tower beneath me with what felt like a ripple moving up from the ground through the stones themselves. The tower shook for a second or two and was still again. The old man shouted into the air and the tower lit up like a beacon. A silent explosion threw me up into the air and I came down hard on the stone roof, winded and unable to move. I saw the floating ship erupt into flame, the dark figures screaming and throwing themselves overboard to the still burning sea below. The old man stood uneasily, blinked twice and slowly fell forward, tumbling over the edge. As he fell the stones beneath me began to shift, to slide apart. I struggled to my feet but it was too late… the tower began to collapse beneath me and I fell backwards with the granite blocks towards the burning hell beneath…
To be continued…