Orren couldn’t believe he was still alive.
He lay at the bottom of the watchtower, his leg trapped in a vice-like grip beneath the fallen stones.
He’d survived, but for how long?
Water poured in from above, where the foundation sunk below the lake. And the giant creatures sloshed outside as they searched for an entrance.
This tower had been his home for the past two years. It had given him safety from robbers, wild bears, and one unbearable winter, but he didn’t want it to be his grave.
He pushed away as many rocks as he could, but one was too heavy, crushing his calf against the stone floor. He’d never move it himself.
He searched the rubble, looking for something he could use as a lever. His hand found the hilt of his sword, but as soon as he touched it, he knew it would be useless. It came out broken; the blade snapped off in the fall.
The water rose higher, and the sound of the creatures moved upward, their tentacles squelching as they pulled themselves up the sides of the battlements. It wouldn’t be long before they found the jagged hole at the top. He’d either get eaten or drown.
He searched his memories of the tower, what he knew of it that might help. They’d built it on a sunken cathedral, lost a hundred years ago when the valley flooded, atop the steeple that poked out of the water.
Perhaps Orren’s way wasn’t out—but down.
He pulled away at the stones beneath him. The cold water numbed his hands, making the work painful, but he progressed, one layer at a time.
He moved another rock and found the remnants of a rotten wood hatch. he'd never clear it away to open it, but using the stone in his hand, he slammed it on the floor beside him.
The ground beneath him shook.
He brought the rock down again. The surrounding stones shifted with banging, and tightened around his leg.
The pain didnt stop him.
The sun disappeared as one creature emerged above him and then another and another.
Hopefully, he needed only one more hit. He held his breath and drove the stone down with all his might. The decayed wood splintered, and the base fell out beneath him. Woods, rocks, and Orren sunk into depths of the submerged cathedral below.
He only had a moment to admire the sight. He floated above the altar. Light streamed in through the clerestory windows and around him were the art and icons of an age before.
He couldnt waste anymore time.
He swam up through a broken pane of glass and breached the surface. No sight of the creatures, but his luck wouldn’t hold. He raced for shore as quickly as he could.
He pulled himself onto the beach and dragged himself into the forest for cover.
He stared at the fallen watchtower, his signal fire long extinguished. He knew the other tower had seen his warning, but would it be enough?
His thoughts turned to Connie. If the creatures were here, they were heading towards the capital.
He rose, his clothes soaking wet, and without a weapon or tool in his possession, he turned towards home.