At first glance I wasn't very enthused about the Wild Magic sorcerer path in 5e, but after reviewing the surge effects chart I found a number of interesting narrative options to use in the story.You'll know it when you...hear it.
* * *
Bredan, Quellan, Kosk, and Glori crouched behind the dense growth that cluttered the gully at the base of the hill, staring through the tall stalks at the ruin above. True to Xeeta’s word they’d managed to creep to within a hundred paces or so of their destination, but that remaining distance, a minute’s casual walk under normal circumstances, seemed much greater from their current perspective.
A bright flash appeared momentarily from the partially-intact structure in the center of the ruins, followed by a pulse of black smoke that thinned into nothingness as it rose into the air.
“That’s the signal!” Bredan said. He started to rise, only to feel Kosk’s heavy hand on his arm. “Hold a second,” the dwarf said.
“She might need our help…” the smith began.
“Hold,” Kosk repeated. “If the rest of them didn’t see that, then we might…”
He didn’t get a chance to finish, as a massive explosion erupted atop the hill, centered on the ruined building where the sentries had been stationed. This time there was no doubting whatsoever that the orcs would hear, as the loud rumble that echoed off the cliffs continued well after the ringing in their ears from the initial blast had faded.
“Oh, man, that can’t be good,” Glori said.
“Xeeta…” Bredan said. He started forward again, and this time made it a few steps up the slope before a shouted warning from Glori shifted his attention. Glancing back he saw her pointing to the cliff, and followed her finger to see what she had seen.
Even at a distance there was no mistaking them; the protruding snouts and piggish features were too distinctive. There were six of them, the orcs spreading out as they warily approached the ruin where a cloud of smoke continued to rise from the impact point of the fireball.
“Um… should we get their attention?” Glori asked.
“We have to keep them from converging on Xeeta,” Quellan said. He didn’t have a missile weapon, so he had to hold his mace and wait.
Kosk came forward and thrust Bredan’s crossbow into his hands. “Shoot the bastards!” he yelled.
Glori’s first shot was already on its way, and as the orcs turned toward them the first staggered as her arrow embedded in his side. But just as Quellan had predicted the orcs didn’t hesitate, lifting their spears as one and with a loud roar charging down the hill toward them, the injured one only a pace behind the others.
“Damn, they’re fast,” Bredan said as he lifted his crossbow, took aim, and fired. At first the shot looked true, but at the last moment the orc stepped aside and the bolt flashed past him. Glori’s second arrow embedded in another orc’s coat, but it was impossible to tell if it penetrated; in any case the orc kept on coming. She shifted to the side, moving away from the others, and for a moment Bredan hesitated, before Kosk gave him a shove and gestured to his empty bow. “Keep shooting!” the dwarf ordered.
But it was becoming clear that the orcs would be on them in moments. Kosk and Quellan stepped forward to confront the rush, their weapons at the ready. The dwarf drew one of his knives and hurled it in a flat arc that caught one of the orcs in the meat of his thigh. The orc warrior missed a step but recovered quickly and pointed his spear at the monk in promise, growing a challenge in his guttural tongue.
“More of them!” Glori warned. Her companions tore their eyes from the rapidly-closing orcs to see that another group of the creatures had emerged from the cave mouth above. Those three were noticeably larger than the others. Two carried massive bill-hooks, while the third wielded a nasty-looking flanged mace. They quickly moved to follow their companions into the fight, rushing toward the intruders in a steady lope.
But before the reinforcements could join their brethren they were interrupted by an attack from the interior of the watchstation. A barrage of scorching rays lanced out at them from the cover of the ruin. The first two rays hit the orcs armed with bills, but the one with the mace ducked under the last, the flames splashing harmlessly against the cliff behind him. All three orcs immediately converged on the figure that emerged from the ruin, the slight breeze rustling her charred garments and lifting bits of soot from her skin. Her spell of camouflage was gone, leaving her skin its normal tinge, as bright as a beacon.
Xeeta’s display of fireworks distracted Bredan, who cursed as his second shot missed wildly. His target raised his spear and rushed forward across the final interval separating them, yelling a battle-cry in Orcish. Bredan couldn’t understand the words but definitely got the meaning. He dropped his bow and unlimbered his sword, tossing the baldric aside as he cleared the blade from its scabbard. The orc lunged, taking advantage of the superior reach provided by his weapon. Bredan responded just as his uncle had drilled into him through hour after hour of practice, side-stepping and deflecting the thrust with his sword before pivoting into a sweeping strike. But the orc too proved experienced, as he anticipated the move and flung himself out of the reach of the huge sword.
Another loud blast echoed across the battlefield, this one much closer; Bredan started before realizing that it was Glori’s thunderwave. He didn’t even get a chance to glance aside to check the result of the spell as the orc rushed at him again. He could hear Kosk and Quellan fully engaged just a few steps away, fighting multiple foes. He’d only drawn one opponent, but at the moment that opponent seemed quite capable of demanding his full attention.
This time he didn’t wait for the orc to come to him, but lunged forward into an attack of his own. The orc, caught off-guard, nevertheless managed to poke at Bredan’s side with his spear. The head caught on the smith’s armor but still managed to pierce his side. Bredan clenched his jaw against the pain and slammed his sword down into the orc’s shoulder. The impact crumpled the thin plate of iron protecting his foe’s body and tore through the layered hides underneath. Staggering back, the orc dropped briefly to one knee before lunging again at his enemy. Bredan reacted fluidly, parrying the thrusting spear before driving the point of his sword through the orc’s chest.
Even as the orc fell, this time for good, Bredan’s companions finished off the rest of the initial cohort. The last one, his torso surrounded by the sparkling radiance of Quellan’s guiding bolt, succumbed to a blow from Kosk’s staff that hit so hard that Bredan could hear the bones crunching from five paces away. Both the cleric and monk bore wounds but they looked to be minor, and Bredan saw with relief that Glori appeared to be unharmed.
But that relief was short-lived as he turned his attention back up the hill, and saw that Xeeta was in serious trouble.
Xeeta had revealed herself on purpose, to draw the second group of orcs to her. The fact that the orcs had withstood her scorching rays confirmed that these were the band’s leaders, and as tough as they looked. They spread out to take her from several directions at once, wary of her magic.
They were right to be wary, as she touched her thumbs together and unleashed another burning hands. The orcs dodged back, but one couldn’t escape the wave of fire and fell, screaming as the flames crisped his flesh. The other two, however, surged ahead, no doubt expecting to take advantage of the lull before she could cast another spell.
They were going to be disappointed, Xeeta thought. The Demon was in her, and its potency was screaming through her blood. Drawing deeper upon her reserve of sorcerous power, she fired off yet another spray of fire, a quickened burning hands that tore into the two remaining orcs. Caught by surprise, both creatures were engulfed by the spell. The first was overwhelmed and joined his comrade on the ground. The orc with the mace let out a cry of pain as the fire seared his flesh, but he didn’t retreat or try to seek cover. The creature, a huge, hideous orc with one broken tusk, didn’t hesitate. He leapt forward, his mace sweeping around with a force that would not be denied. Xeeta had protected herself with mage armor before they had arrived at the ruin, but the spell was not enough to stop the mace as it slammed heavily into her chest. The impact lifted her off her feet, and for a moment all she could see was the vast arc of the sky before she hit the ground. Pain filled her vision with a red haze that blinded her for a moment.
When it cleared, she saw the orc standing directly above her, his mace already raised to finish her off.