Attackers Report:

Captain Mendoza is still on a unicorn.

This situation does not persist for very much longer. As he careens towards Alexandria, he sees one of Gaia's 'ambassadors', too far away to get with the flamethrower; it has clearly seen him, too.

Up ahead there are some... archers? Tritoni? ...standing in a rather odd formation, each with an 'ambassador' behind them. And over there, is that Soren Jacques, and Sho, being ushered away by another of the stone creatures?

Then there are loads of the lumbering bastards, everywhere, running towards him through the Tritoni lineup and out in front of the unicorn. It knocks one down as he gets the flamethrower to bear on the problem, but then Soren breaks off from his sneaky retreat to blindside him with a two-handed sword, and after that it all gets very confusing.

He is definitely on the ground, and everything appears to be on fire, and the unicorn is lining up for another kick, and Soren appears to be attempting to punch him in the face as he can't even get the sword's pommel around, and Sho is hanging around nearby being useless, and there are probably half a dozen golem-like creatures wrestling with the wildly bucking unicorn, and also he is definitely on fire.

Disengaging rapidly, he rolls off across the grass, wincing as he rolls over the backpack unit of the flamethrower; but surprisingly the thing seems to be intact as he regains his feet and weighs up his options.

Now is definitely the running sort of time. There will be reinforcements soon enough.

Having made this decision, his legs pick up the sprint for him, but he is dimly aware of someone shouting behind him - then his muscles all lock tight, against his will, freezing him to the spot. Necromancy. Well, probably; that or technology, but there were definitely words involved.

He expects any moment for Soren to swing that two-handed sword straight into him - but then there is a painful kind of noise from one side, as of an eidolon being rapidly discorporated by Francisco Corvega. This would be because Francisco has arrived on the scene, been intercepted briefly by Sho, barely broken stride to rip him in half, and is now bearing down on the Captain with an expression of friendly concern.

Soren has pegged it back towards the... wall? There wasn't a wall there a moment ago - just a line of Tritoni archers in some bizarre formation. Now there is a huge rampart of dirt and rock, and as Corvega idly bats away a few more 'ambassadors', arms reach out and drag Soren Jacques straight through what looks a lot like solid stone.

Then the archers start shooting at the nice exposed targets.

Francisco revises his plan of action, having run out of immediate targets, and lifts Captain Mendoza and the flamethrower together as if they weigh nothing; arrows bristling from his back, he heads determinedly out of bow-shot.

Meanwhile, near the rendezvous point, Roberta Wesson has found a live target with one of the ambassadors; she drags Kontic, Commandant Putok and Artisan Kulka out with her to keep the ambassador busy while she burns the poor unfortunate Freibodener to a crisp.

Eventually, Captain Mendoza and Francisco Corvega return to regroup with the others, what's left of them. Sancho Fernandez insists on taking care of Francisco's wounds; if they are going back into battle, there is no telling how long it will be before they get another chance, and even a predator of Corvega's exceptional fortitude can't survive that many wounds from skilled archers indefinitely.

While he is being treated, Corvega describes the rampart that Gaia has thrown up in their path. Rosario looks dubiously at their arbalest. It is now looking distinctly inadequate for the task, and the plan involving flamethrowers and cracking the cornerstone through repeated extreme heating sounds much less plausible when applied to a wall of earth and stone several miles long and gods alone knew how thick.

Captain Mendoza points out that Soren Jacques also knows how thick it is, because he was pulled through it by Gaia to escape his well-deserved arse-kicking.

They traipse as close to the wall as they can without attracting any sufficiently accurate fire from the eight Tritoni who stand on its towering heights. As the others discuss the undermining and knocking over and general destruction of walls, very little of which seems applicable to this massive rampart that can easily crush anyone tunnelling beneath it, Mendoza gazes up at the Tritoni bastards who had been shooting at him, exposed on the grassy ridge at the top of the wall, and then looks back at the arbalest.

He can at least get rid of them - and it might even deal with the wall while he's at it.

Explaining his plan to the others, they nod agreement, and ensure all their gear is stowed for optimal sprinting performance. Then Captain Perez Mendoza steadies the arbalest, loads it, and begins to shout his message. He points out that the Tritoni are very vulnerable to this arbalest, up there on their own. That they are people who have done Gaia no wrong. That he is going to kill them if the wall does not come down.

There is no response for a moment, so he fires a range-finding shot, and then one that he places right between two of the nervous archers.

The ground begins to shake as he repeats his demands. Everyone becomes acutely aware that they are standing on Gaia here, too... that there is no approach that is not part of her. Rosario and Bess look sideways, checking their possible routes into the sea if this all goes wrong.

And the wall does not go downwards; instead, it begins to rise further, out of the ground...

Captain Mendoza opens up with the arbalest, shooting to kill; the slow progress of the wall makes aiming no more difficult than the desperate attempts by the Tritoni themselves to evade their fate. He considers stopping before he has killed them all, to attempt to bargain with their fate once more, but it does not appear that is a winning strategy and they need to die so that he can get the others closer to the wall.

The tremors intensify beneath him, and the Tenizidi and the Azarch start sprinting; not in the direction of the wall, but away, into the sea, anywhere they think they might be safe from Gaia's wrath.

As he kills the last Tritoni, Captain Mendoza lifts the arbalest, and finds his compatriots lifting it with him as if they had planned this in advance. The ground buckles and cracks beneath them as they run - not into the sea, which would bog them down and would still be Gaia for some distance out of the coast here, but simply away.

The cornerstone at Alexandria is safe from them, today.

Defenders Report:

By the time Soren Jacques gets to New Terino, it has long been aflame.

Those he expected to meet here have left a note for him, however. They have gone to Alexandria, with the boats that took the civilians away from this doomed city as the walls fell. So he follows them there.

Alexandria is dominated by the great Talismantic Cornerstone of Gaia. There is an ambassador of Gaia sat at its base, in case anyone wishes to ask any questions, but it is quiescent for the moment. Sho is here, with what remains of Bubastis' Arrows, Bubastis' Irregulars, and the one remaining member of the Crescent Moon Lodge First Company.

The Flembic army gather in the Asilio Bussola, but there is plenty to be done here; the scared and angry peasants speak resentfully of those who go and hide in their 'little summer retreat', while New Terino burns.

Soren and Sho keep an eye on the local area, and eventually the armies of the Flembic do emerge from the Asilio and line up on the plains of Alecbridge, clearly expecting some attack. They head closer to watch, although not to commit themselves to joining the main force; much more interesting are the directions that are not being covered.

Watching the battle from a safe distance, they see Captain Perez Mendoza of the Gerosans break through the Flembic lines on the back of an out-of-control unicorn, followed by something that moves a lot like Francisco Corvega but looks like some horror stitched together from the products of nightmarish surgical experimentation; they see Bess and Sancho Traviez sprint to catch up with them, as the Flembic force slaughters a large number of myrmidons.

And they see the arbalest make its progress through the bushes, and Lady Isabella de Lafevre take the Lower City Huntressites and the Alliance troops who did join the main force to investigate; they see the creature that might be Francisco turn back at the sound of a piercing alarm cry, and then they see the Flembic forces beating a hasty retreat.

That is quite enough watching. Seeing a hundred Flembic troops, led by people like Ilario and Grigur who do not usually flee unnecessarily, turn away from a direct confrontation is quite enough information to be going on. They return to the ambassador of Gaia, at a steady run, hoping to arrive ahead of the unicorn.

"Gaia," Soren addresses her, and the ambassador wakes. He explains what he has seen of the composition of the incoming force, of the great power that seems to be invested in the creature that might once have been Francisco Corvega, and asks her aid in defending the refugees in the Alexandria area. At first she seems dubious, explaining that she does not want to get involved in the politics of battles between nations - but then she realises that he is talking about a Confederacy force, and she becomes more concerned. Apparently Mica has warned her that the Confederacy will be sending forces to destroy her cornerstones, and she believes this may be one of those.

She advises Soren to gather all the civilians and people who should be protected up to the north of the peninsular, so that they do not accidentally get in the way. As her ambassador speaks, other ambassadors begin to form around her from the ground; one detaches itself and runs off in the direction you indicate the forerunner of the enemy force will be arriving from.

The Tritoni and the last member of the Crescent Moon Lodge First Company want to know how they can help, and claim they have no concern for their own lives. Gaia sends the Freibodener off with another ambassador to provide sharper eyes for her scouting attempts, and tells the Tritoni that she will be putting up a great wall to seal off the peninsular; they can stand upon it and fire their arrows, if they wish, but she cannot make any guarantees about their safety.

While they are still talking, the ambassador looks distracted for a moment, and she tells the assembled that they must make their choice now - be lifted up on the rampart, stay in front, or stay behind. Soren and Sho follow a newly formed ambassador out of the immediate area, watching nervously behind them as ambassadors place the Tritoni in particular spots and hold on to them as the ground begins to shake.

Then the unicorn gallops into view, barrelling along at astonishing speed; the ground is still rumbling, the promised rampart not yet rising. The ambassador with them urges them forwards, but Sho and Soren both break off and run to intercept it, joined by a handful of other ambassadors. Captain Mendoza is clinging on for dear life, but manages to get a hand free to swing around his flamethrower and activate it, scorching the first couple of ambassadors to get near. Bracing himself, Soren charges the other side of the unicorn, sweeping his two-handed sword in a great arc at the creature's huge, thundering legs.

Unicorn, Mendoza, ambassadors and Soren collide and roll together in one confused and flaming pile; Sho hovers around the edge and attempts to catch hold of Soren to drag him out of the fire, but Soren is having none of it, intent on catching Captain Mendoza. Mendoza, meanwhile, has no intention of being caught, and just attempts to scramble free of the bucking and kicking unicorn before it can get a solid blow in.

All of Soren's swords are massively unwieldy for the situation, and Mendoza's cuir bouilli makes punching him singularly ineffective. Both roll free of the ongoing battle between the unicorn and the ambassadors, and scramble to their feet. Mendoza appears to be primarily concerned with sprinting away as fast as possible, no doubt to fetch his backup. Coming to a decision, Soren begins sprinting himself, calling on the power of the Maelstrom as he runs.

Mendoza is frozen to the spot - paralyzed - as Sho calls out a warning. There is a painful kind of sound as the eidolon collides with a very fast-moving enemy - Francisco Corvega - and is ripped to shreds by the creature's powerful talons, barely slowing it down.

Barely, however, is enough for Soren to get a head start; and a brief head start is enough for the ambassadors to form up behind him.

The Tritoni begin to rain arrows down on the field of battle as Soren runs back towards the shelter of the now-risen rampart, a great buffer of earth and rock. In its shadow, he turns and makes his way along its edge, until an ambassador forms from its surface and reaches out for him. "Don't move; it will only last a moment," it promises, pulling him safely through the thick rock wall to the other side.

From this side he can't see anything of the combat beyond, although his Tritoni are still firing. He asks Gaia to provide a commentary, and sits down heavily, starting to feel the bruised ribs and the burnt skin from his brief encounter with unicorn and flamethrower.

Gaia informs him, somewhat distractedly, that the two individuals seem to be running away. The Tritoni cease to fire, but keep up their vigil. Soren watches them, helplessly, from the ground.

Eventually, Gaia informs Soren that the Gerosans are back, and they seem to have brought some myrmidons with them; they are keeping their distance, though.

Then her voice changes - she is relaying Captain Perez Mendoza's message from the other side of the wall. He points out that the Tritoni are very vulnerable to this arbalest, up there on their own. That they are people who have done Gaia no wrong. That he is going to kill them if the wall does not come down.

The ambassador pauses, waiting for Soren's advice. He hears the muffled sound of an arbalest bolt, hitting the wall. He looks up at the Tritoni. They look nervous, but they are not pleading for their lives - they are standing their ground.

He tells Gaia not to give in to threats - but to destroy the Gerosans in return if she can. A life for a life, he says.

Another arbalest bolt hits, this time between two of the Tritoni archers. The ground begins to shake. And the wall does not go downwards; instead, it begins to rise further, out of the ground...

The arbalest bolts come thicker and faster; the slow progress of the wall makes aiming no more difficult than the desperate attempts by the Tritoni themselves to evade their fate. The tremors intensify.

"They're running," Gaia informs Soren. "I'm not very accurate - I don't want to damage the settlement..."

The last Tritoni archer of Bubastis' Arrows keels backwards and sprawls bleeding at the edge of the raised platform, far up in the sky above, with an arbalest bolt in his chest.

Some time later, Gaia nervously presents Soren with the charred body of the last of the Crescent Moon Lodge First Company, along with the broken bodies of seven Azarch warriors, and apologises that she could not get any more of them.

Local Report:

Soren Jacques makes his way to Alexandria, after his troops have followed the New Terino refugees there, and does what he can to calm and settle them, and promise to defend them.

Gaia gathers all the civilians and people who should be protected up to the north of the peninsular. Other ambassadors begin to form around her from the ground to head out and keep a watch for the enemy, taking the last member of the Crescent Moon Lodge First Company with them.

Then a unicorn gallops into view, barrelling along at astonishing speed, with Captain Perez Mendoza clinging grimly to its back; the ground is rumbling, a rampart of earth and stone beginning to rise beneath Soren's Tritoni archers, each held in place by an ambassador.

The Tritoni begin to rain arrows down on the field of battle, and Soren re-emerges, pulled through what looks like solid rock by ambassadorial hands that fade back into the wall once their duty is done. The two Gerosans retreat under the arrow fire, but eventually they return, with an arbalest and a small force of Tenizidi and Azarch.

Captain Perez Mendoza issues an ultimatum. An arbalest bolt, hitting the wall. The Tritoni look nervous, but they are not pleading for their lives - they are standing their ground.

Soren tells Gaia not to give in to threats - but to destroy the Gerosans in return if she can. A life for a life, he says.

Another arbalest bolt hits, this time between two of the Tritoni archers. The ground begins to shake. The arbalest bolts come thicker and faster; the slow progress of the wall makes aiming no more difficult than the desperate attempts by the Tritoni themselves to evade their fate. The tremors intensify.

"They're running," Gaia informs Soren. "I'm not very accurate - I don't want to damage the settlement..."

The last Tritoni archer of Bubastis' Arrows keels backwards and sprawls bleeding at the edge of the raised platform, far up in the sky above, with an arbalest bolt in his chest.

But the Gerosans do not trouble Alexandria any further.

Colony Report:

A great rampart of earth and stone rises from the ground at Alexandria! The rampart cuts off the peninsula, which bears the mountainous Talismantic Cornerstone of Gaia, from the rest of the Colony of New Terino, keeping the refugees that have flocked there from around the colony safe inside.

You hear that some Gerosans, or perhaps some Tenizidi, or even some Azarch, manage to sneak around the main Flembic army and assault the wall, but it is essentially unassailable without serious equipment, which they could not bring with them without being spotted by the eagle eyes of the defenders at the Asilio Bussola.

There are some tremors, and the cowards flee in terror, abandoning their attempt to assault the cornerstone - or the refugees.