The night was growing old, the moon close to setting, and the company was dead asleep. Kas had drawn the late watch and he stood now at the edge of the firelight, his nerves on edge, jumping at every slight sound. The feeling of something watching him had plagued him most of the day and now, with the dawn approaching, it had grown to a near obsession. He spun around suddenly, sure that he'd felt a touch, then chided himself for listening to his fears. The darkness under the trees leered back at him, and his imagination painted unseen horrors in every corner. Kas backed slowly away, stepping back into the firelight, then tripped over a rock and landed with a crash on his backside.
Jarl came instantly awake, rolling into a crouch, his weapon ready, then glared at Kas when he realized what had happened. "S-sorry," Kas gulped, suddenly more afraid of Jarl than anything the darkness might be hiding. Jarl growled something unintelligible under his breath and sheathed his blaster.
"What in blazes are you doing?" he demanded as he sat down on his bedroll and straightened out the blanket. "I thought I heard something," Kas replied. "I tripped." Jarl flipped on the sensor display in his suit and studied the readout for a moment then keyed it off with a curse. "Blasted barrier is flooding everything," he snarled, his temper fraying further. "What'd you think you heard?" "I don't know," Kas admitted, shaking his head. He paled at the look on Jarl's face and flinched. Jarl kicked himself as Kas drew away from him, got to his feet and went to the edge of the camp.
He stared up at the barrier for a moment then closed his eyes and tried mentally to scan the mountainside. Kas waited for a moment, relaxing slightly and got back to his feet, cursing himself as he brushed the dirt from his pants. A sudden flash of light accompanied by the smell of ozone blazed through the night and Kas let out a startled yell.
"DALE!!" Jarl's mental shout brought Dale out of a deep slumber and onto his feet. The air in the center of the campsite was wavering and beginning to split apart. Charging directly for them from beyond the waver was a large group of Gorg. "Hit it!" Dale shouted, drawing his blaster and aiming for the waver. Twin beams of light hit it in dead center as Jarl obeyed and the lead Gorg suddenly flamed into non-existence. As the rest of the company came to wakefulness, the portal opened completely spilling fifteen Gorg into the camp. "Move!" Dale commanded sharply, flaming a second Gorg. "Get out of their way!"
The campsite erupted into disarray as the company scattered, fleeing into the darkness under the trees, pursued by Gorg. Kaowin took to the sky in panic, then whirled around and looked down at the battle taking place on the ground. He frowned, unsure what to do, then gasped in pain as something hit Kheri in the back. "NO!!!!!," Kaowin exclaimed, his voice echoing through the night.
The barrier high on the mountain flared in response, tendrils of mana shooting high up into the air. A long streamer of pulsating energy whipped down the mountain, catching Kaowin in the chest and he screamed.