Attackers Report:

How do you destroy a mountain that is trying to kill you?

You have come equipped, obviously, and approach from her 'blind spot' - crunching through the ruins of St Ivan so she cannot feel the many feet of your army, or the heaviness of your siege weapons dragging across the uneven ground. The fortified walls of Archangel are a tempting place to bombard from, but they are firmly within her area of influence, and those who have been defending the city for so long do not want to see it fall from her anger - from her vengeance.

The tiny headland of First Light is almost entirely subsumed within the great Talismantic Cornerstone, the mountainous protrusion that heralded Gaia's awakening. Destroying the one at Constantine Flats certainly limited her area of influence, but this is the first you have approached while she watches. Jaques looks out over the terrain nervously, but there is no sign of movement from the gigantic stone monolith.

Plan A involves a safe distance, Jaques' trebuchet and Flip's bow mangonel. Jacob sets up his siege emplacement and organises the Fidelians and Rukh, ready to receive a charge by swarming 'ambassadors', or any conventional defenders that Gaia might have organised.

Plan B involves the covered ram, Zan Li, Shien Tsu, and as many facets as they can pack around the thing. Malachite's Facet Light Infantry and Facet Heavy Infantry swarm around the battering ram, working out how to attach themselves to it to give it the run-up of the century. The facets might be tired and fragile, but they are still more likely to survive this maneuver than the breathing races - being buried alive just isn't so much of a threat if you aren't also dependant on not running out of air...

At first, it seems like Plan A might work. The range-finding shots are taken without incident, the first few rocks sail uninterrupted to their targets. Gaia begins to form a couple of ambassadors, but the various anti-personnel siege weapons and the facet archers swiftly take care of them. Finally, she speaks directly, her words stirring up long-quiescent ash in the burnt remains of the once-great Fidelian city.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" she asks.

There is no reply, save another volley of rocks; and Zan Li gives the signal for Plan B to get started, as it looks like things might get serious, any moment now.

The ram crosses the border into First Light just as the land begins to shift. Directly around the mountainous cornerstone, Gaia is raising a massive rampart of earth, the rock beneath lifting the soil above, sealing her cornerstone off and protecting it from the bow mangonel and the trebuchet's destructive force.

But the ram is inside the rampart, too small for her to notice; the facets cling on for dear life as it accelerates down the forming slope to speeds undreamt of in their original intent, cramming together around the frame and hoping that it will afford some protection from the inevitable collision - or that their bodies will add to the destructive force. Together, Zan Li and Shien Tsu grimly hold the internal mechanism back and clear confused facets out of its path...

...then the side of the monolithic stone protrusion is rushing up to meet them, and they add all the force they can muster to the impact.

Darkness. Silence. There is a long, tense moment. On the other side of the rampart, there is nothing to see for several awful heartbeats; Flip launches another rock towards the enormous rampart, but although it knocks a little of the dirt loose, it is clear that passing through will be a major excavation task.

Then the great monolith cracks. There is a sound like the largest musket shot, a sound which is felt as much as heard, and everyone but Jacob finds themselves knocked to the ground.

And the rampart begins to collapse - no, not so much collapse as explode, the spasmodic flailing of a creature in agony. As it falls away, a hail of sharp slices of rock sails over it, the remnants of the cornerstone projected by a single, deafening scream of rage and pain and disbelief:

"WHY?"

Bob Scarlet scrambles shakily to her feet; it seems like everyone is bleeding, and she stumbles from Fidelian to Kamakuran toMalathian attempting to save who she can.

As the rock fragments settle and the echoes of that terrible voice fade away, Gaelle offers the last rites to the followers of Fedel among Edvardo's forces that are beyond help; Jacques, meanwhile, scours the wreckage - from a safe distance - for any sign of the fate of the golems and facets.

Once all of the wounded are tended, the search intensifies; Flip, Bob, Gaelle, Jaques and Jacob lead the sure-footed Rukh out into the devastation, twisted earth and jagged rock churned together in unnatural patterns, to work out where to begin digging.

Finally, there is some movement they did not cause; and a grey hand reaches out of the grey rock that surrounds it. Jacob takes it and hauls the golem Shien Tsu back to the surface; and then they begin to excavate the immediate vicinity.

Many of the facets are broken, just as many of the Rukh and Edvardo's soldiers have bled to death; a large number are found around the frame of the covered ram, where they have protected it with their fragile bodies, even knowing they would never have the power to reform them. Zan Li is found embedded in the earth some way back from the covered ram, having been thrown there from the impact and not having the strength to even begin to dig herself out of what could easily have been her final resting place.

Edvardo's people have paid with the lives of eight of the Guardians First, five of the Guardians Second, five of the Guardians Third, eight of the Guardians Fifth, three of the Eschatonic Order: 2nd Infantry and six of the Squires of the Eschaton 2nd; Ihsan's with one of the Malikara Spears 1st Archangel, three of the 2nd and two of the 3rd, and two of the Malikara Defence Force 3rd Archangel; and Malachite's facets the greatest price of all, at four of the Facet 1st Light Infantry, two of the 2nd, fourteen of the 3rd, eleven of the 4th, two of the Facet 1st Heavy Infantry, ten of the 2nd, two of the Facet Archers and one of the Facet Pistoleers; the ballista of the Facet Specials (Wayward Guard) also looks beyond repair, and they mourn it like a brother.

But it is a small price to pay, for they have proven one thing - Gaia can be wounded, deeply; surely, also, this shows that Gaia can be destroyed...

Local Report:

The defenders of Archangel march forth at the command of Guenaelle Roudec of Mill'en, of Florian Ipesch of Havocstan.

Into the ruins of St Ivan, they march, facets and Fidelians (and Kamakurans and Malathians under Edvardo's leadership) and Rukh; there, Florian sets up a bow mangonel, the war scout Jacques Valentine sets up a trebuchet, and they begin to bombard the great Talismantic Cornerstone at First Light.

Meanwhile, the golems Zan Li and Shien Tsu fill a covered battering ram to the brim with Malachite's facet infantry, and they begin to roll it towards the cornerstone.

Gaia first asks, in a voice that splits the air like a thunderclap, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

They give no answer, so she throws up a rampart of dirt and stone; but this only seems to accelerate her demise - or maybe her fate was already sealed?

The great monolith cracks. There is a sound like the largest musket shot, a sound which is felt as much as heard, and everyone for miles around finds themselves knocked to the ground.

And the rampart begins to collapse - no, not so much collapse as explode, the spasmodic flailing of a creature in agony. As it falls away, a hail of sharp slices of rock sails over it, the remnants of the cornerstone projected by a single, deafening scream of rage and pain and disbelief:

"WHY?"

Colony Report:

The defenders of Archangel march forth at the command of Guenaelle Roudec of Mill'en, of Florian Ipesch of Havocstan, it is said. They march to the ruins of St Ivan, and set up their siege weaponry there; and it is there they launch their first attack on a cornerstone of Gaia.

Gaia first asks, in a voice that splits the air like a thunderclap, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

They give no answer, so she throws up a rampart of dirt and stone; but this only seems to accelerate her demise - or maybe her fate was already sealed?

The great monolith cracks. There is a sound like the largest musket shot, a sound which is felt as much as heard, and the rampart begins to collapse - no, not so much collapse as explode, the spasmodic flailing of a creature in agony. As it falls away, there is a single, deafening scream of rage and pain and disbelief:

"WHY?"