Attackers Report:

The problem with the land around Sacred Hills is that it lives up to its name.

The entire area curves up and down as if it positively delights in giving the enemy somewhere to hide from Alexis Weber. And whilst Alexis Weber is exceptionally competent at following and rooting out the hiding places of the enemy, all of the running up and down hills that is required to get to said hiding places means they keep emptying out before the good folk of SNWT Dugrassi can get there.

The enemy is definitely here. You see Ogou Badagri the first day that you arrive. Unfortunately, he also sees you; more importantly, he sees that you have brought Lothar with you. Subsequently, you see an awful lot of Gnoll men at arms dressed and painted exactly like Ogou Badagri, but when you have finished sprinting over - usually under longbow or arbalest fire - none of them are actually Ogou Badagri.

However incapable you are of tracking down Ogou himself, there is still a fine opportunity to slaughter his cultists; while their souls might be of use to him, living cultists are undoubtedly more valuable at this stage.

It seems that they are attempting to lure you out in small numbers, in order to bring you into some kind of ambush, although so far those who have been capable of arriving at the scene of a possible Ogou encounter have also only be those who were capable of leaving swiftly when it turned out to be a trap; so Alexis catalogues potential ambush sites, and you form up to do a sweep of the most likely targets.

SNWT Mace 1, Shiban Shizoku "The Closed Fist", Silver Star 4th Wing, Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company and First Claws of the Sea are in the front rank with the giant snake monster, just behind the eidolons and Ragnar; then the pistol-wielding SNWT Pistoleers 1, SNWT Thugs 1, Silver Star 1st Wing, SNWT Facet Pistoleers 2 and First Talons of the Sea, with Imam Ghazi, Matthias Kohlman and Lothar, and on the flanks the siege weapon operators SNWT Facet Siege Engineers 1, Silver Star 3rd Wing, and SNWT Facet Marines 1, with the surgeon Hame, Alexis and Sebastian Aloysius Beaumont with his blunderbus and flintlock taking up the rearguard.

Thanks to Alexis' information, when you find the right place you are approaching their formation from behind. They have two arbalests parked just behind the brow of the hill, and then a great confusion of mostly Gnoll units, with the occasional Tritoni and a small huddle of suspicious-looking Malathians. There are a few longbows and a couple of units with pistols, and they are all significantly less disciplined than the well-trained SNWT troops.

However, they must have at least a few look-outs. There is a shout as you reach the valley beneath them - just at the point where you will be the ones fighting uphill, not them - and the whole chaotic mass of cultist troops attempts to wheel and face you.

Most are equipped for street fighting if anything, with daggers and handaxes and short swords, but there are a few spearmen and units with axes and shields and the occasional halberd and two-handed sword, and those so equipped run to the new front, as the archers loose their first rounds and the gnolls assigned to the arbalests attempt to get them turned around - and moved sideways enough to avoid cutting down their own troops.

Whilst you have an arbalest and a ballista on the flanks, which the facets and Alkonians swiftly deploy, the ranged capability you have is mainly pistols - so your front rank pushes forwards to close as soon as possible, especially the wedge led by Dorian himself. Instead of attempting to break the front line, which looks pretty broken as it is - and the archers are mingled with knifemen and so forth who will protect them in any case - he aims for those arbalests. Punisher and Veritas charge along beside him, with Ragnar - determined not to be left out - just behind.

The front line itself meets the enemy front; their numbers are roughly equal, and some of the Kikuto Infantry axewielders are quite good, but as the second rank pistoleers open up and Ghazi, Matthias and Lothar join the fray, they are gradually pushed back up the hill. There are only about a dozen good bowmen in the enemy ranks, mostly the Tritoni hunters, although they do ensure that Hame quickly becomes busy as bleeding Kamakurans and Gnolls are dragged out of the lines to be treated, with Alexis staunching the worst cases as they come in.

Lothar sweeps the front lines for eidolons with his magic, but of course there are none.

The enemy pistoleers, who slightly outnumber your own second rank, start to get themselves organised; the enemy arbalests, however, never get the chance to fire. One of them is set up and ready before the wedge gets to them, but Dorian stretches out a hand and calls on the Merchant to strike the unrighteous Gnoll; a massive strike of thunder crashes down upon the unfortunate siege weapon operator, crushing him under his own battered arbalest. Dorian also appears to be able to use his two swords as well as he ever could, and between Veritas and Ragnar none of the siege-gnolls keep their feet for long enough to put up any serious resistance.

Whilst the front line are making progress up the hill, the urban fighters and skirmishers in the enemy ranks are beginning to pour around the sides of the original front line; there are another fifty of those, as many again as your front line. The arbalest takes down a few, and Dorian, Punisher, Ragnar and Veritas hold up their flank considerably, but they are now trying to press through to the archers, as Hame's surgical station seems to be considerably oversubscribed.

Sebastian steps forwards from his rearguard position and takes out a few of the thugs by dropping them to the ground with a shot from his blunderbus, at which point Matthias and Ghazi move in to beat them unconscious whilst remaining out of their reach. Most of the original 'front line' of enemy gnolls are down, but the 'lines' have essentially degenerated into a free-wheeling skirmish; at least this means the enemy archers can no longer sensibly find targets without imperilling their own side - although they seem to be entirely happy to take this chance, ensuring that quite a few of Ogou's gnolls drop from their own side's arrows.

Perhaps it is not that good to be a Tritoni in Bantustan still - or perhaps they have been deliberately instructed to ensure their own people die unpredictably, to keep Ogou well-fed. Lothar has given up searching for Ogou and is dragging out those enemies in danger of perishing of their wounds, loudly declaring the rite of Judgement upon them as fast as he can; but some, alas, still manage to bequeath their souls to their dark master before he can get to them, especially as he keeps having to pause and fend off stray dagger-wielding skirmishers.

Dorian takes a moment to look over the battlefield with concern as it descends into chaos; it is very difficult to tell who is winning and who is losing. Even worse, almost directly across the entire melee from him, he can see the Malathian knifemen advancing steadily on the small island of relative safety in which Hame is treating the injured; it is surrounded by the remnants of Shiban Shizoku "The Closed Fist" and Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company, but they are fighting on all sides as two of the First Claws of the Sea carry in a struggling Lothar and deposit him directly in front of Hame, one staying to hold him down and ensure his wounds are treated before he runs off again.

It might be time to call the retreat... but no, it is well past time to call the retreat, if it was necessary. There is no way to disentangle the forces now.

There seem, for a moment, to be only three pockets of fighting; Dorian and Ragnar have retreated to the arbalest, Veritas and Punisher not yet returned from their most recent discorporation; the remains of SNWT Mace 1 and the First Claws of the Sea surround Lothar as he pulls in their incapacitated victims and shouts himself hoarse, finally crushing their heads with a giant obsidian-studded macahuitl, moving on whenever the pile of corpses gets too difficult to fight around; and the few others still on their feet are defending an increasingly small circle around Hame.

But the enemy are running out of warriors, although despite their lack of drill they are just as determined to fight to the very last as the highly disciplined SNWT troops.

Around twenty gnolls manage to regroup and take Dorian and Ragnar down, smashing the exhausted facets as they struggle to reload the arbalest. SNWT Mace 1 and First Claws of the Sea strike out towards them, shepherding a protesting Lothar who drags his current victim with him, but the battlefield is ankle-deep in the dead and dying, as well as the occasional ambusher lying in wait, and it is going to take them some time to cross.

The Malathians finally choose their moment to strike the exhausted defenders around Hame, moving in a significantly more co-ordinated fashion than the cultists of Badagri; they wear the symbol of the Amici, and nine of them quickly form a circle to stall the desperate defenders while eight of them take down Hame, whose heavy armour is little use against their flashing daggers. Four kneel beside her to work methodically towards severing her head from her body, while the others join the circle.

The First Claws of the Sea and SNWT Mace 1 finally wade through the sea of dead, and Lothar comes out of his head-smashing and Judgement-declaring reverie for long enough to switch to his halberd and swing it hard enough at the gnoll methodically smashing Ragnar with the haft of his handaxe to sweep the enemy soldier right off his feet and back into the ruins of an arbalest. He stands guard over the heavily damaged statue until all of the gnolls in the area are defeated, and only then does he fall back into Judging and crushing the enemy to death.

Alexis and Ghazi try desperately to fight through the closed ranks of Malathian skirmishers alongside the last few Gnolls and Freibodeners still standing and the last of the Facet Marines; but also many of the men are equally desperate to stay out of the way of the wicked Malathian daggers, knowing that if they start bleeding seriously now, they are unlikely to be rescued. Sebastian, Matthias, and the remaining Alkonian pistoleers attempt to aim through the human wall to pick off the four Malathians that slice methodically into the prone and helpless body of the surgeon.

The pistoleers have killed three of the executioners by the time enough of the defending Malathians fall to let Alexis slip through and invoke the magic on his sword, sweeping the last executioner out of the way...

...the other Malathians attempt to fall back, but they are summarily butchered to a man by the enraged survivors...

...Hame is not breathing. Her eyelids do not flicker. Blood soaks the ground beneath her head; her blood, mingled with the blood of so many that she could not save, so many that she did save.

Lothar, drenched in the blood of Gnollish cultists, looks around wildly for more targets. He stalks the battlefield, prodding corpses with his staff. He finds a gnoll that reacts and begins to call down the judgement of the Smith before he notices that his victim wears the SNWT sash. So he attempts to pull the gnoll out from under the two other dead bodies she is trapped beneath, but she shudders in pain and whispers, "No. Leave me. I am dead already; now I go to my reward."

When Dorian finally manages to return to the battlefield, along wit h Veritas and Punisher, he finds the others already organising the bodies; one massive pile for a hundred and fifty of Ogou's followers, and individual rows for the sixty-one honoured dead of SNWT Degrassi - three quarters of the force, including the sad corpse of the giant snake monster, laid out in a long line along their edge.

The honoured dead are arranged around an incredibly blood-soaked patch of ground, in the middle of which lies the broken body of Hame, which no-one has presumed to move or rearrange. But when the angels approach it, they discover that the soul has already gone.

And no-one present can fix Ragnar, although he still lives. So Veritas and Punisher head off with him, and the remaining five First Claws of the Sea for additional protection, towards Holy Archangel, the nearest settlement from where they have any hope of being able to contact the rest of the Spine to come and pick him up, or at least find somewhere safe to leave him.

After the battle, the sixteen soldiers that remain in the area - six of the SNWT Mace 1, three of the Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company, two of the Silver Star 1st Wing, and one apiece of the SNWT Thugs 1, the Silver Star 3rd and 4th Wings, the First Talons of the Sea and the SNWT Facet Marines 1 - continue to help Lothar, Alexis, Ghazi and Matthias search for Ogou Badagri and his followers, but he is nowhere to be found, and if any of his followers remain, they have deserted the area.

Defenders Report:

When you get to Sacred Hills, it appears that Dorian has got there before you.

Dorian. Still commanding the Sacuza New World Trading forces, but he now looks different - less buttoned-up and official, more confident and free - and he openly displays a symbol on his forehead. Yet he surely can't be undead, as Veritas and Punisher stand dark and foreboding at his side - surely they would not cooperate with the undead, even to destroy you?

His forces are outnumbered by yours, a hundred and fifty to eighty-two, but he also leads a handful of more dangerous men and women:

Sebastian Aloysius Beaumont, the pathetic slave-gnoll transformed into The Last Follower of Buluku, blunderbus and flintlock at the ready. Matthias Kohlman, one of the Freibodeners who normally hides under the skirts of the Flembic. Ragnar, the blunt instrument of the Spine of the World. Hame, a surgeon of the Wayward Scholars. Ghazi Dayyan Al Zaighum, an old Amun-Sari priest practically leaning on his great mace.

Alexis Weber, just another lost remnant of the Defenders of the New Forge, but from his movements and where he is choosing to point that telescope, you recognise that he must be a War Scout - just like one of the souls you have taken into yourself - and that will make your maneuvering much more difficult.

And Lothar Erhard, whose presence single-handedly rules out your own on the battlefield; you cannot risk being caught by him and his terrible priestly rites, especially with no superior pact to bring you to your full strength.

You are sure Alexis must have spotted you, on the way in, before you noticed how vigilant the enemy was. Staying on the move, you direct as many of your followers who have the correct height and build to dress and move exactly as you are doing, to provide at least some obfuscation for your location. Observing the strong reaction every time one is sighted, your followers begin to set ambushes, using the lookalikes as bait.

Several of the enemy are wounded in strikes on the decoy ambushes, but they retreat back to their hilltop camp swiftly and the little surgeon wemic ensures none of them are lost. It is time to put together a larger and more confident ambush. But you can feel Alexis' gaze everywhere, even though the hilly terrain offers excellent cover; after all, you can track their scouts wherever they go, so you can only assume his skill is similar. Sometimes now the whole group of them go out hunting, sending any of your people who are separate from the main group to go fleeing back into the safety of concentrated numbers.

It is too much of a risk to be very close to your main concentration of troops, or to be obviously in communication, but you find a vantage point that you are sure that you could hide from yourself in, and settle in to watch as the decoy walks temptingly along the brow of the hill.

But Alexis has outmaneuvered you, as you were somewhat expecting him to; he has no fear of being in close communication with Dorian's troops at all times. The enemy forces make a sudden turn down a valley and before you can even consider summoning a messenger - and no, they are too close, it would reveal your position - they are sweeping down the hill behind your troops, who haven't noticed...

There is one signal you have arranged that you do not think will give away your position; as the enemy reach the least advantageous position for them, at the base of the hill that your men are arranged three-quarters up, you make a certain bird-call, and a flock of some kind of native bird-creature answers you. It works. Your followers become more alert, notice the threat behind them, and swiftly rearrange themselves to face them.

There are fifty or so in the enemy front line: mostly gnolls, but with a considerable human contingent and five highly trained Alkonians, and a rather incongruous giant snake monster; there is a certain irony in the Silver Star uniforms that the avian swordsmen/pistoleers are proudly wearing. Before the lines join, a flying wedge including Dorian, Veritas, Punisher and Ragnar sprints out of the lines to intercept your arbalest crews before they can get their deadly siege weapons pointing in the right direction.

Just behind the front line are about half that number of pistoleers, including a facet among the Gnollish and Alkonian troops; then the enemy's own, somewhat understaffed siege weapon tenders, five facets and three Alkonians setting up an arbalest and a ballista. Ghazi, Kohlman and Lothar lurk amongst the second line, waiting for the battle to join before working out where they are most needed.

On the other flank from the siege weaponry are Hame, Alexis and Sebastian, setting up a makeshift surgical station.

Your Tritoni archers start firing promptly, and soon Hame's surgical station is busy with those bleeding from their skillfully placed arrows. The enemy have no bows of their own, so they charge immediately up the hill to engage as soon as possible. Lothar calls on the power of the Maelstrom to check your lines for eidolons, but you are safely up in your hiding place, away from the action.

Your pistoleers start to get themselves organised; your arbalests, however, never get the chance to fire. One of them is set up and ready before the wedge gets to them, but Dorian stretches out a hand and calls on the Merchant to strike the Gnoll who is desperately trying to load it; a massive strike of thunder crashes down upon the unfortunate siege weapon operator, crushing him under his own battered arbalest. Dorian also appears to be able to use his two swords as well as he ever could, and between Veritas and Ragnar none of the siege-gnolls keep their feet for long enough to put up any serious resistance.

The front lines clash, and it is clear that the enemy are better combatants, every one well-trained and accurate with their weapons; but whilst they are making progress up the hill, your urban fighters and skirmishers are beginning to pour around the sides of their lines. The enemy's facet arbalestiers take down a few, and Dorian, Punisher, Ragnar and Veritas hold up their flank, but your Tritoni archers are also doing well and Hame's surgical station seems to be considerably oversubscribed.

Sebastian steps forwards from his rearguard position and takes out a few of your skirmishers by dropping them to the ground with a shot from his blunderbus, at which point Matthias and Ghazi move in to beat them unconscious whilst remaining out of their reach, but the weight of numbers is beginning to tell on that flank. Most of your original 'front line' are down, but the 'lines' have essentially degenerated into a free-wheeling skirmish; the archers continue to fire, but quite a few of your gnolls are beginning to suffer from their own side's arrows.

Lothar has given up searching for you and is dragging out some of your followers who are already bleeding to death, loudly declaring the rite of Judgement upon them as fast as he can; but plenty of your cultists are evading him, especially as he keeps having to pause and fend off stray dagger-wielding skirmishers. Your troops have been instructed to kill him as a priority, but a hard core of enemy Gnollish axe-wielders with steel shields seem to have made it their personal duty to protect him; he has been cut deeply by a couple of the skirmishers, however.

As you watch, two of these First Claws of the Sea look at each other, then move to pick up a struggling Lothar and move determinedly through the chaotic melee to the surgical station, depositing him directly in front of Hame. One of them stays to hold him down and ensure his wounds are treated before he runs off again.

You see Dorian step back to look over the battlefield with concern. It is very difficult to tell who is winning and who is losing. However, you can see the Malathian knifemen kindly donated to your cause by Nicole Amici advancing steadily on the small island of relative safety in which Hame is treating the injured. The surgeon is surrounded by the remnants of Shiban Shizoku "The Closed Fist" and Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company, but they are fighting on all sides.

Dorian and Ragnar have retreated to support their arbalest crew, Veritas and Punisher not yet returned from their most recent discorporation; the remains of the enemy front line surround Lothar as he pulls in incapacitated victims and shouts himself hoarse, ritually crushing the heads of the unfortunate gnolls with a giant obsidian-studded macahuitl in some kind of strange compulsive trance; and the few other enemy combatants still on their feet are defending an increasingly small circle around Hame.

But you are also running out of warriors, although your followers are just as determined to fight to the death as Dorian's highly disciplined soldiers.

Around twenty of your gnolls manage to regroup and take Dorian and Ragnar down; they smash through the exhausted facets as they struggle to reload the arbalest. Lothar's protectors strike out towards them, shepherding a protesting Lothar, who drags his current victim with him; but the battlefield is ankle-deep in the dead and dying, as well as the occasional ambusher lying in wait, and it is going to take them some time to cross.

And the Malathians finally choose their moment to strike the exhausted soldiers around the enemy surgeon, moving in effortless co-ordination; nine of them quickly form a circle to fight off the desperate defenders, while eight of them take down Hame. Her heavy armour is little use against their flashing daggers, and four kneel beside her to work methodically towards severing her head from her body and putting her beyond saving, while the others join the circle.

Lothar's little band of gnolls finally wade through the sea of dead, and Lothar himself comes out of his head-smashing and Judgement-declaring reverie for long enough to switch to his halberd, swinging it hard enough at the gnoll methodically smashing Ragnar with the haft of his handaxe to sweep the enemy soldier right off his feet, straight into the ruins of the arbalest. Lothar stands guard over the heavily damaged statue until all of the gnolls in the area are defeated, and only then does he fall back into Judging and crushing the enemy to death.

Alexis and Ghazi try desperately to fight through the closed ranks of Malathian skirmishers alongside the last handful of Dorian's soldiers; but also many of Dorian's men are equally desperate to stay out of the way of the wicked Malathian daggers, finally showing fear at the prospect of death and defeat. Sebastian, Matthias, and the remaining Alkonian pistoleers attempt to aim through the human wall to pick off the four Malathians that slice methodically into the prone and helpless body of the surgeon.

The pistoleers have killed three of the executioners by the time enough of the defending Malathians fall to let Alexis slip through and invoke the magic on his sword, sweeping the last executioner out of the way...

...the other Malathians attempt to fall back, but they are summarily butchered to a man by the enraged survivors...

...but the breakthrough comes too late to save Hame, at least. Blood soaks the ground beneath her head; her blood, mingled with the blood of so many that she could not save, so many that she did save.

Lothar, drenched in the blood of your cultists, looks around wildly for more targets. How can he still be standing? He stalks the battlefield, prodding corpses with his staff. He finds a gnoll that reacts and begins to call down the judgement of the Smith before he notices something on her, and stops; he was about to destroy one of his own people.

You can see two of the VC 33rd Skirmishers fleeing, over into the next valley by now, and one of the Kikuto Infantry has crawled some distance away and is hiding under a thick stand of fruit bushes, hoping desperately not to be seen; but essentially there is nothing left of the hundred and fifty Children of Bantustan you brought to the hills.

When Dorian finally manages to return to the battlefield, along with Veritas and Punisher, they find the others already organising the bodies; one massive pile of your followers, and individual rows for their own dead, sixty-one of the eighty-two they brought with them - three quarters of the force, including the sad corpse of the giant snake monster, laid out in a long line along their edge.

Their dead are arranged around the incredibly blood-soaked patch of ground which was the surgical station, in the middle of which lies the broken body of Hame. When the angels approach it, they appear to be disturbed by what they find; but you don't recall any of your troops being capable of taking a soul from a body, so presumably she has simply decided not to hang around.

Veritas and Punisher head off with the remains of Ragnar towards Holy Archangel, the nearest settlement from where they have any hope of being able to contact the rest of the Spine to come and pick him up, or at least find somewhere safe to leave him. You consider ambushing them, but they have taken the remaining five First Claws of the Sea with them and you are not convinced that you can take them all at once.

After the battle, the sixteen soldiers that remain in the area - six of the SNWT Mace 1, three of the Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company, two of the Silver Star 1st Wing, and one apiece of the SNWT Thugs 1, the Silver Star 3rd and 4th Wings, the First Talons of the Sea and the SNWT Facet Marines 1 - continue to help Lothar, Alexis, Ghazi and Matthias search for you and your followers, but your few remaining followers have fled the area entirely and you are not stupid enough to get caught.

Local Report:

Dorian Bowchard is still commanding the Sacuza New World Trading forces in New Bantustan, but he openly displays a symbol on his forehead. Surely he can't be undead, with Veritas and Punisher standing at his side - surely they would not cooperate with the undead, even to destroy the forces of Ogou Badagri?

His forces are outnumbered by Ogou's, a hundred and fifty to eighty-two, but he has also brought a collection of heroes: Sebastian Aloysius Beaumont, The Last Follower of Buluku; Matthias Kohlman; Ragnar of the Spine of the World; Hame, a surgeon of the Wayward Scholars; Ghazi Dayyan Al Zaighum; Alexis Weber of the Defenders of the New Forge; and Lothar Erhard, who wears a strangely heavy marble lump on a chain around his neck and seems to be even more driven to search out and destroy the Fallen and their followers than ever before.

There are a few skirmishes where lookalikes of Ogou Badagris are posted to draw Dorian's forces into ambush; but Alexis is a skilled discerner of ambushes, and eventually forms everyone up and gets ready to take the fight to the cultists.

Coming up behind a prepared ambush, the moment of surprise is spoiled by a signal alerting the cultist army; but they are still pointed in the wrong direction and their organisation and discipline is not the best. Dorian, Veritas, Punisher and Ragnar destroy Ogou's arbalest squad before they can get going; Dorian calls upon the Merchant and summons thunder out of a clear sky to smite one of the siege engineers.

Lothar checks the enemy lines for eidolons, but Ogou has hidden himself elsewhere; so instead his fury falls on the cultists themselves, as he keeps up a constant stream of Judgement and crushes the heads of the enemy soldiers with a giant obsidian-studded macahuitl in some kind of strange compulsive trance.

For some time it is unclear who will prevail; each side seems determined to fight to the death. Ragnar is taken down attempting to defend the arbalest-tending facets, and does not get back up. An organised group of Malathians, possibly the remains of the Amici forces, organise a stunningly well co-ordinated strike on the surgical station, and as Alexis, Matthias, Ghazi and Sebastian desperately try to break through their lines, they cut down and execute the wemic surgeon.

When the battlefield finally falls silent, the few who are left standing are on Dorian's side, but the breakthrough comes too late to save Hame. Blood soaks the ground beneath her head; her blood, mingled with the blood of so many that she could not save, so many that she did save.

Veritas and Punisher head off with the remains of Ragnar, and the remaining five First Claws of the Sea for additional protection, towards Holy Archangel, the nearest settlement from where they have any hope of being able to contact the rest of the Spine to come and pick him up, or at least find somewhere safe to leave him.

Those who remain make one massive pile of the corpses of Ogou's followers, and individual rows for their own dead, sixty-one of the eighty-two they brought with them - three quarters of the force, including the sad corpse of the giant snake monster, laid out in a long line along their edge.

After the battle, the sixteen soldiers that remain in the area - six of the SNWT Mace 1, three of the Braddock's Rangers 3rd Company, two of the Silver Star 1st Wing, and one apiece of the SNWT Thugs 1, the Silver Star 3rd and 4th Wings, the First Talons of the Sea and the SNWT Facet Marines 1 - continue to help Lothar, Alexis, Ghazi and Matthias search for Ogou Badagris and his followers, but they find nothing.

Colony News:

Dorian Bowchard is still commanding the Sacuza New World Trading forces in New Bantustan, but he openly displays a symbol on his forehead. Surely he can't be undead, with Veritas and Punisher standing at his side - surely they would not cooperate with the undead, even to destroy the forces of Ogou Badagri?

His forces are outnumbered by Ogou's, a hundred and fifty to eighty-two, but he has also brought a collection of heroes of the various Smith churches, including Sebastian Aloysius Beaumont, The Last Follower of Buluku. There are a few skirmishes where lookalikes of Ogou Badagris are posted to draw Dorian's forces into ambush, but eventually the War Scout Alexis Weber turns the tables on the Fallen's forces, and leads Dorian's troops to surprise one of their prepared ambushes!

For some time it is unclear who will prevail; each side seems determined to fight to the death. Lothar Erhard scours the enemy lines for eidolons, but coming up empty-handed, he keeps up a constant stream of Judgement on the cultists; it is told that he has some strange obsession with crushing the heads of the enemy soldiers with a giant obsidian-studded macahuitl that he has stolen from some native.

When the battlefield finally falls silent, the few who are left standing are on Dorian's side; but victory is only theirs by the slimmest of margins, and their dead include the Wayward Scholar surgeon, Hame - executed by Nicole Amici's last few Malathian soldiers - and Ragnar of the Spine of the World, methodically beaten to rubble while trying to defend the arbalest emplacement.