Creatures poured out from beyond the curtain of fog. Trolls, hurling themselves forward on burly arms, lollopped onto the train track tracks with smaller creatures clinging to their backs. Flying creatures, furies, screamed out from the treetops from every direction. The knights readied their swords.
Theodore could not help but think about how, if this were any normal Thursday, he would be working the office printing press at around this time to make fresh copies of various forms. It was tedious and took hours, but he would give anything to be doing that instead right now. A fireball whizzed overhead, and he decided it would be best to stand behind some of the more imposing knights before something killed him.
The trolls swung their heavy arms and the knights darted out of the way to cut grazing strikes across their scaly flesh. Foxes, squirrels and rabbits leapt off the backs of the shoulders of the hulking reptiles and scratched and bit anyone they could pounce on. One of the younger knights screamed across the field, collecting squirrels faster than he could yank them off.
Furies dove from overhead, wailing like angry cats. They were man sized bird people, four of them, with wings instead of arms. They shrieked, swooping to claw and rip with talons and knock knights onto their backs. A barrage of crossbow bolts grounded one and sent the rest into retreat.
Distracted by the melee, none of the combatants noticed a willowy nymph sneaking between the trees. He wore a coat of moss, and his skin was white with dark streaks like birch bark. He placed a hand against a tree and the ground began to rumble. Tree roots erupted from the soil and lashed at the knights, until a few well aimed sword strikes managed to cut the tendrils down to size.
The trolls took this chance to grab gnomes off their backs and pitch them onto the field. The little hedgehog people scampered between the ankles of Myra’s troops, casting spells as they went. Fritz froze in place, paralyzed just as he was about to wind up an attack. Others were transformed into rats, their armor collapsing into noisy heaps on top of them.
Silas drifted closer, gliding across the black vapors. He grabbed at the men turned rats and took them into the folds of his coat. Myra charged, bashing the monster in the face with her shield until he dropped his victims. He grabbed hold of the shield, laughing as she strained against his strength. His legs and arms grew long and wiry, jointed like spider limb. He hurled her away with one shove. He waded out into the brawl, laughing as he swept aside friends and foes alike. The combatants scattered as he spat fire from his mouth.
“Where are our wizards?!” Fritz yelled over the din, still paralyzed. “We need support!”
Theodore had been staring at the battle, stunned in fear and awe. He glanced back at the train, and noticed a banging coming from within one of the cars. Tangled vines webbed over the bay door, holding it shut while muffled cries came from inside. He ran and chopped at the growths with his knife until they snapped apart. The door slid open to reveal a squad of sorcerers in burgundy robes.
The wizards pushed past Theodore and scrambled to form up. They crushed small shards of crystal in their palms and gestured with their staves. The weapons of the knights lit up at once.
“About time!” Myra shouted, taking her shimmering sword in both hands. She charged, shrugging off a spray of flames and slamming her blade into the underbelly of Silas. The monster reeled backwards like a toy, its legs sprawling like a wet spider.
The tide turned. The remaining knights, with magic coursing through their weapons, pushed the creatures back. Their line broke into a full retreat, as the animals, trolls, gnomes, furies and nymphs all fled into the Whirlwood.
“Damned cowards!” Silas said. Before the knights could come to finish him, he sank into his dark mists and vanished. The fog dissipated with him, leaving only bare ground and sunshine.