Even the best of plans rarely survives contact with the enemy.

In the pre-dawn murk you began your preparations for the assault, working in dim moon- and starlight with shuttered lanterns. For the risky, foolish, heroic beach landing to work, you needed every edge that hard work and prior planning could provide. Your troops were skilled and well-equipped, and while there was tension in the air it was the tension of a bowstring, ready for war, rather than the tension of fear or uncertainty.

The patrolling ships draw close to the shore once more, another sweep of a repeating pattern, carefully planned to give the defenders no warning. Inside, soldiers pack themselves into launches, skiffs, row-boats, anything which can bear them swiftly through waters too shallow for their ship's keel. They huddle together in the darkness, knowing that all too soon they will be exposed on that last stretch of open ocean, before an enemy known for their musketeers...

Suddenly everything is happening at once; the small boats pour out into the first glimmer of the sunrise, watching it glint off telescopes pointed anxiously at them from the bluffs, clinging grimly to the siege weaponry they are bringing ashore, swapping those last few words of comfort or determination or tactics before they hit the sand.

Dorian Bowchard leads his men up onto the beach and forwards, David Jones at his side, hoping to sweep into the occupied areas before warning can be given. Braddock's Rangers establish a solid line whilst the First and Second Talons of the Sea spread out along the flanks and the First Claws of the Sea smash through the ruins of Annie's Wharf, chasing out a few errant civilians.

Meanwhile the Malathian forces are not so disciplined; frantic to avoid getting left on the exposed beach, they pour up the pathways and run headlong into the first line of defences - the green and silver myrmidons of Hive Unity, deployed silently in crevasses along the cliffside paths and makeshift encampments that blend with the general shanty town leaning against the Freeport walls.

Aherin Tiernay is right behind them with his small cadre of eager Gerosan recruits, Elouise Driscoll and Iral Cartwright at his side; he begins to burst the shining carapaces with his well-placed pistol shots, clearing by slaughter a path for the Gerosans to slip through the darkened streets.

The expected defenders of Freeport are starting to show themselves, eager to get stuck in the fray; Dr Malcom Tibbet and Dirty Dick are seen ducking in and out of the fight around the base of the walls, taking opportunistic shots at the onrushing forces. Both appear to have strapped heavy armour to themselves that they obviously don't know how to use, perhaps in a fit of naive optimism; but Dicks Protectors and 2nd Bell, a disorganised rabble of disreputable-looking axemen, or Tibbets Terrors, armed only with crude cudgels but capable of shrugging off impressive amounts of damage, always seem to drop in and harry their attackers when they get too close.

Frederick Lyrus brings his men up out of the sea to form a perimeter amongst the abandoned harbour defences; House Lyrus' first and second light infantry form up and make ready to defend the siege equipment being laboriously dragged out of the ocean by Dog soldiers, BNWT Bantustani Recruitment 1661 S4, and Kyle Muireann's Artillery Company. The muskets are just beginning to sound from the bluffs as they set up the repeating ballistae, the bow mangonels, the trebuchet and the catapult, screened by BNWT's three mantlets.

It is, of course, Guenaelle Roudec who takes the brunt of the musketeers' wrath, although Kyle Muireann himself also proves a tempting target. Kallum of the Evocati is setting up a rudimentary medical station behind one of the mantlets; he already has a small queue of wounded Malathians when Nikitta quietly presents him with Kyle Muireann, full of holes, and Ayame Ichiro approaches a few seconds later carrying Guenaelle in a similar state. Cullen, attempting to keep order in the queue of bleeding Malathians - and even worse, their belligerent and less injured compatriots - sends Draxs off to fetch back David Jones from his forward position, Ayame following to ensure Gaelle gets prompt treatment.

Fayadin Ibn Falahad Ibn Saladin takes a good look at the myrmidon situation and then wades determinedly into a serious concentration of clawed warriors, fast enough that he almost loses Husam Al Emir and Piper Green, who he'd been advancing with. Sure enough, there's a little shanty-town lean-to filled with wounded myrmidons that a surgeon, Vanderburch, is working on feverishly. Whilst it manages to slip out the back, the surgeon has to abandon its tools in the patient, and there are plenty of helpless wounded myrmidons to dispatch.

As they emerge from the shack, however, they find that they are distinctly on the front lines - Prince Aelric, Fredrik Of Lanheim, Milburga Korpdottir and Jenna have swept down from the town amongst Smiths Anvil, a score or so of poorly trained but eager Merisusi mokosh. Piper, Husam and Fayadin make strong inroads into the sea of mokosh, but eventually they have to break off to avoid being trampled into the ground by sheer weight of numbers. Iral Cartwright carves up another mokosh, Irwyn, and drags him into a makeshift hut to loot his armour.

Meanwhile, Florian Ipesch holds a strange statue aloft before him; in a brilliant flash of light it transforms itself into a huge, clawed lizard, a war mount for the favoured of the Basilisk. He strikes out with Illyes and Messalina at his side, racing up a winding path that clings to the cliff's edge; Brandling Ulvarson has spotted a trebuchet emplacement up there, which is making short work of their various rowing boats - and, in any case, being right next to the cliff makes it harder for the musketeers to shoot the obvious symbol out from under him.

Finally, Rex Harold hops off one of the last few boats and heads up the main swathe of devastation left by the Malathians, picking up discarded pistols, loading them, and utterly destroying incautious myrmidons that attempt to have a go at the ambling pistoleer.

The bow mangonels begin to unload into the rickety Freeport palisade, but the momentum of the initial charge has been spent.

The tide begins to turn.

The inhabitants of Freeport, seeing their walls are no protection, come charging out, waving knives and pistols and frying pans.

Elouise Driscoll, caught up in a duel with Mr Locke, an incongruously Flembic gentleman, suddenly loses her sword to a burst of magic from one side, and goes down.

Fayadin Ibn Falahad, separated briefly from the others by onrushing mokosh, suddenly finds himself face to face with Edward Hanfling - briefly, because the Freiboden veteran hasn't a scratch on him, and Fayadin is already half-beaten from his previous endeavours.

Dragging the heavy Merisusi double-chain, Iral Cartwright only escapes a duel with Koutetsu-Ren by sending the Kamakuran's precious Tachi skittering away into the long, blood-slicked, rubbish-strewn shadows, the mokosh's concern for his sword apparently distracting him from pressing the advantage.

Piper Green practically trips over Elouise while looking for a way forwards into the breaches opening up in the Freeport palisade, and swiftly aborts her search to carry her down the treacherous path; they run into David Jones single-handedly holding off a small squad of myrmidons, so Piper helps him finish with them and he manages to patch up Elouise's streaming sword-wounds enough that she can stumble her own way down.

Husam Al Emir charges blindly through the lines as he sees Fayadin go down; fortunately for him, Hanfling has moved on by the time he has knocked the remaining mokosh out of the way, and without further incident he manages to throw his fellow wemic over his shoulders and run for the surgeons.

Back in the makeshift surgery behind the mantlets, Alcina and Phaedra repair endless suits of armour whilst Kallum saves the lives he can and Cullen does his best to ensure the three of them are not overwhelmed, aided by the occasional magical shove from one of the girls when the Malathians get too restless. The ceaseless pounding of the catapult, trebuchet and bow mangonels is worryingly joined by the sound of massed pistol fire from Dorian and Frederick's pistoleers, arrayed around the siege weaponary, and the thrum of bows and crossbows; even scarcely injured Malathians are beginning to pour off the cliffs, pursued by Merisusi warbears, green and silver myrmidons, and a multitude of Free Islands rabble.

Flip, Illyes and Messalina finally locate the source of the cliffside barrage; as Messalina's sorcerous assault sends the various parts of the trebuchet flying in all directions, Illyes and Flip attempt to close with the lone operator, Abassa. She dives into a cavern as the claws of the beast rake against the cliffside, but whilst Flip puts a couple of musket rounds into her she is still moving faster than they can follow into a cave complex that she undoubtedly knows better than they do.

And the view they now command is not the scene they had been hoping for. Dorian Bowchard's pistoleers and bowmen are retreating in good order, but definitely retreating, beneath the weight of Free Islands rabble chasing the remnants of the Malathians down the cliff. The repeating ballistae are chewing through the defenders' forces, until the central mantlet erupts into a shower of wooden splinters and the siege crews begin to swiftly rig their valuable equipment for departure instead of pressing the attack.

Tarla, who has been sensibly guarding the boats, is rewarded for her efforts when she catches Milburga Korpdottir putting a neat hole in the bottom of a skiff, but this is the fight's last victory.

Blind Harvey drops a blanket of silence over the front lines where Edward Hanfling and Alexis Van De Waal are about to continue their sorcerous assault, but with the middle mantlet down there is already a gaping wound in their position; Phaedra and Alcina hold the line with their sorcery while Cullen and David Jones pose enough of a threat to keep the multitudes back for a moment as Verren Marcellus continues with his frantic last-minute armour repairs and Kallum sews up his last patient.

Almost back to the shoreline with his prize, Iral is suddenly confronted by an angel in red and black; he casually knocks the eidolon's shining sword out of his hands, but Samahazai simply draws another and fights on with surprising finesse and durability for one of his kind. Already battered by the conflict, Iral falls to the ground, only to see Samahazai finally felled by Piper Green rushing from behind; she picks Iral up and hurries onwards to the boats, but the double-mail lies abandoned in the sand.

Comtess Corisande Orielle-Florent desperately fends off attackers, finding herself cut off; the crack of pistol and musket fire fills the air around her. Suddenly she is swept off her feet; a gentleman with a coracle on his back, Vandal, has swept her up and is bearing her back towards the ocean.

Braddock's Rangers and the Alkonian crossbowmen and bowmen, some of them facets rather than natural born avians, have already taken to the boats, although they are still firing into the confused melee of the beach. There are not enough boats left for everyone. The remaining Malathians mostly take directly to the water, with Dorian Bowchard and Frederick Lyrus looking to the safety of their own troops first.

Draxs, Phaedra, Alcina and Cullen reluctantly head out on a small, leaky skiff; then Draxs realises that the Icon of the Merchant he had arrived with is no longer in his possession. Phaedra sees what's coming; she swiftly knocks him over and Cullen sits on him until he recants any desire to go back and fetch it.

Gunnar Snorrison finds himself hefting the leg of a bow mangonel into one of the larger intact rowboats as the Artillery Company desperately clear their precious equipment off the shore.

For a long, sickening moment there is nothing but chaos and salt water and screams, scraps of floating wood and pistol shots and terror; the repeating ballistae start up again, but this time they are pointing into the waves, the Freiboden pirate Ethan Maurice feeding them with grim determination as they shred the helpless sailors attempting to swim for their vessels.

Somehow... somehow the tide comes in, and you reach the ships, and the nightmare ends.

The butcher's bill is sobering.

Only one of the Gerosan recruits survived the battle.

Of the Malathians, there are three Diamond Dogs, three Colonial Archers, three Bruisers, half the Colonial Infantry and four of the Port Charles Marines back safely, along with all but seven of the Chamber of Delights Guards; House Lyrus' light infantry fared a little better, losing only a single pistoleer.

Dorian only lost a few men, one of the First Talons of the Sea and four of the Second, and the Alkonians only lost three - from the Anti Piracy Ballista Unit, who went down defending those repeating ballistas.

Not one of the Dog Soldiers returns; not one of the BNWT Bantustani Recruitment 1661 S4; only two of the Artillery Company, clinging grimly to their two precious bow mangonels.

---

"Old Man hear my words"

In the pre-dawn darkness, Ethan Maurice watches the ships of the patrol approach. They have done this every day for the past six days... but this day is different. Attempting to focus with only the first grey light of morning, he sees them deploy their launches, their skiffs, their rowing boats - and he runs to light the signal fire.

"I am but one voice, but each voice that joins mine carries the message of my devotion further and more loudly"

As the silent launches speed towards the food-strewn shore, where Carlyon is swiftly and quietly packing up his lonely vigil, the sprawling city of Freeport is anything but silent. Bells ring out, watchers cry out, the hue and cry is raised. Silas Marck, Elise Girard, Anton Schmit, Trudi Schmitt, Bastian Kettle and Lucas Stark head up to the cliffs with their muskets; whilst there is room on the walls, Ethan's reports have already filtered back with news of many siege engines on their way.

"We stand here facing a great challenge, our enemy sit with a vast fleet within our waters, and a large army waiting to be landed."

The enemy pour off the boats - Dorian Bowchard and David Jones leading a well-disciplined core of fifty Sacuza marines, Frederick Lyrus establishing a perimeter with the swordsmen of House Lyrus's Light Infantry, and endless Malathians who seem to be organising themselves - or not, as the case may be. Whilst the forty Chamber of Delights Guards advance in good order, the Diamond Dogs, the Coastal Archers, the Bruisers, the Colonial Infantry and the Port Charles Marines - about seventy in all - simply swarm up the cliffside paths and sandy slopes in the vain hope of taking the city by surprise... or perhaps simply to get away from their officers, as Florian Ipesch holds a statue aloft and summons a great clawed lizard, glowing brightly in the pale dawn light!

"They have the superiority of numbers, but do they have the strength of will and firmness of belief that we have as we await them, standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters from Freeport, Freiboden, Merisusi, Kamakura and Hive unity."

Hive Unity are ready and waiting for the onrushing soldiers, hidden deep in the shanty town around the city's edge. As the Malathians infiltrate the area, the myrmidon forces spring their silent ambush, single-minded warriors and perfectly obedient drones tearing into the disorganised forces. Aherin Tiernay, Elouise Driscoll and Iral Cartwright have brought an eager cadre of Gerosan Marines to this close fighting, but even the famed skirmishers have difficulty picking their way through the constant ambushes.

But Dorian Bowchard's pistoleers and bowmen make steady progress, the chitinous hide of the myrmidon forces no match for shot and arrow, and the siege engines continue to be unloaded steadily on the beach, Brandling Ulvarson scouring the walls and cliffsides with his telescope to pick out likely targets.

Anton helps young Trudi aim her musket, and Princess Guenaelle Roudec, proud leader of Mill-en, falls satisfyingly into the sand to bleed; Bastian and Lucas take out the figurehead of the expedition, the self-proclaimed scourge of piracy Kyle Muierann himself. Both, alas, are rescued by members of their retinues, a Kamakuran mokosh in Mill'enese colours - Ayame Ichiro - and a Fidelian lady from the Administratum - Nikatta - before the musketeers can reload.

"We stand together as friends, as allies, and as devoted to you in all your various guises."

Dr Malcom Tibbet and Dirty Dick lead their men, Tibbets Terrors, Dicks Protectors and 2nd Bell, out into the shanty town in support of the myrmidons; they know the winding, ever-changing streets as well as anyone, and repeatedly get the drop on their attackers. Then the bow mangonels, re-assembled by Kyle Muireann's mostly Free Islander Artillery Company on the shoreline below, begin to send great rocks flying over their heads, making it clear that not being on the palisade is the better part of valour...

Meanwhile, another setback: the tiny forward medical station that Vanderburch was using for the myrmidon forces is overrun by Fayadin Ibn Falahad Ibn Saladin, the most powerful of the Flotilla's Amusar tiger-wemics. Along with Husam Al Emir, another Flotilla wemic, and Piper Green of Havocstan, the enemy forces are looking like they might breach the beleagured walls at any moment.

Elouise Girard hands her musket to Silas Marck, and heads down from the cliffs to help the with the wounded. From a cavern-mouth halfway up the cliffside, Abassa quietly finishes setting up her trebuchet and begins to make short work of the enemy skiffs and launches. The mantlets surrounding the invaders' siege weapon emplacement make it hard to aim into the medical emplacement where the Evocati - Kallum, Phaedra, Alcina and Cullen, anyway - are treating and repairing the armour of a satisfyingly large queue of Malathians.

It is time for the counter-charge.

"We will step up to meet the challenge laid down, as battle commences we will make sacrifices of blood, and timber. Good men will perish, and fine ships sent to the bottom, as we show these upstarts the error of their ways."

Prince Aelric, Fredrik Of Lanheim, Milburga Korpdottir, Irwyn and Jenna head out with Smiths Anvil, their Merisusi brethren, and are followed by a large part of the populace of the city, stirred up by the Red Coats, Munro's Militia and the other units stationed therein. Soren Jacques and Edward Hanfling, Mr Locke and Alexis Van Der Waal, Michael Dusk and Koutetsu-Ren, and even Carolina Mallery make their way out into the dangerous streets.

The Merisusi run straight into Fayadin, Piper and Husam, with Iral, Elouise and Aherin following not far behind with their last Gerosan; the tiger-wemics and Piper are heavily armoured and all six are highly trained warriors, making huge inroads into the Smiths Anvil despite Prince Aelric and Fredrik's skill, and Jenna and Irwyn's determination. Milburga Korpdottir has an idea and slips away into the shadows, as on the other side of the line Iral Cartwright downs Irwyn and drags him into a hut to loot the remains of his double-mail.

Weight of numbers is, for a brief moment, on the side of the Merisusi, and carries the day; Piper and Husam disengage with their armour in disarray. Elouise Driscoll stumbles into a side-alley to find Mr Locke heading around the flank; they engage in a very evenly-matched duel until Alexis Van Der Waal comes across them and disarms Elouise's sword with a burst of magic. Fayadin has the misfortune to run straight into Edward Hanfling; armour already broken from his engagement with the Merisusi, he swiftly goes down.

"Magics will be unleashed, drawing power from the maelstrom, battle will be engaged as we seek to stop our enemy gaining a foothold on our lands."

Abassa aims another huge rock at the mass of splintering wood that the enemy boats are gradually turning into, and is about to release the tension in the trebuchet once more and send it sailing on its way when the tension is released in another, more terminal fashion. Splinters of wood fly dangerously through the air and flailing ropes lash viciously as the trebuchet shatters, dropping the rock disappointingly down the cliff.

She barely has a moment to recover from her surprise and see the attackers who had picked their way up the treacherous cliff path; Illyes and Messalina of the Evocati, the latter with an outstreched hand towards her ex-trebuchet, and Florian Ipesch mounted on what could be a goremaw speartail if it was possible to ride the things and they glowed with an unearthly radiance - one of the mounts granted to the chosen of the Basilisk.

The claws of the divine creature dig deep into the cliffside as Abassa turns and sprints off into the cavern, half-falling through the cave system and hoping her pursuers are not foolhardy enough to follow.

"We have many strong swords and axes amongst our host, along with many good shots."

As Iral leaves the hut with Irwyn's chain, Jenna slips into the dark room and retrieves Irwyn's body; it looks like the White Wolf has not done as thorough a job as he might in the darkness, and she jogs back to the forwards medical station with Irwyn in her arms.

Milburga Korpdottir gently lowers herself to the beach under cover of the morning's long shadows and the confusion of retreating Malathians; crippling their boats won't help if they win, perhaps, but if they are driven back and want to return for another day, it could be very handy...

Carol finds herself facing off against a small group of Malathian soldiers, Chamber of Delights Guards who seem quite competent with their swords; she backs off and backs off, which only gives them time to reload their pistols. As she runs, shots ring out and she feels them tear through something vital; she can still just about keep it together, and around the next corner a group of friendly faces with shields and armour grin and thank her for leading the Malathians into their ambush.

"But strength is more than just that, it is cunning and an awareness of when to fight, and a desire, a force of will to stand up for what you must and stand with your friends and your god."

She drags herself, and one of that unit also shot in the engagement, back to Theodore Rostrup's forward medical station. Both Soren and Elise are also engaged in the grim task of heading out into the streets and recovering bodies with some life still left in them, keeping them stable as they are returned to some semblance of safety, although the mangonels are landing huge boulders uncomfortably close.

Gulbane is running an armour repair station out of the same location, and Filia has returned from casting her detections over the enemy to prove their collusion with the forces of utter evil - unsuccessfully, as it turns out. Not a single one of the attackers is undead or Fallen; in fact the only eidolon on the field is Samahazai who is distinctly on the side of Freeport and Freiboden. She desperately attempts to save as many Merisusi mokosh as she can treat, their forces having no shortage of casualties.

Amongst all of this, possibly the most disturbing sight of the whole battle is Father Abraham, the myrmidon priest of Hive Unity, laying the dead and the not quite dead yet to rest with equal vigour. Having seen Hive Unity in action, it is undeniable that they are a powerful force for the Smith, but that does not make the process of 'preparing' the bodies of the dead for their 'rebirth' as green and silver warriors any more palatable.

"So Old Man, look at our deeds and if they please you, gives us aid to help us protect what is yours."

Somehow, miraculously, the enemy troops never quite reach the walls; the people of Freeport turn the tide and begin to push them back towards the waves.

Another Flotilla wemic, Tarla, chases Milburga Korpdottir away from the wreckage of the boats, but between the trebuchet and her careful hands, considerable damage has been done to the enemy's ability to retreat.

Chasing the retreating Malathians, quite a few of the myrmidon troops are cut down by the Sacuza pistoleers, the Alkonian crossbowmen - some of which are facets, rather than avians - and a particularly enthusiastic Flembic, Rex Harold, who appears to be primarily using spare pistols to great effect. But even the Sacuza are falling back in good order, rather than advancing. Samahazai corners Iral Cartwright on the beach, cutting him down to bleed in the sand before Piper Green wades in to discorporate the eidolon and rescue Iral.

The two repeating ballistae that the attackers have hidden in their siege nest open up and add to the chaos, although in the swirl of panicking Malathians they probably cut down as many of the enemy as they do your friends. Then Alexis Van Der Waal manages to close in and destroy one of the mantlets defending this last redoubt; he is rewarded by a barrage of magical silence and force from Blind Harvey, Alcina and Phaedra who are defending their surgeons, but it is clear that the day is yours.

Abandoning the snipers' nest, Ethan rushes down the cliff, supported by Bastian Kettle, intent on capturing the enemy's valuable siege equipment.

The enemy charges back into the rising swell of the wood-strewn ocean, in boats where they can, under their own power when they cannot.

"May the seas rise up at your will and crush those who stand against you."

The repeating ballistae thrum as Ethan Maurice feeds bolt after bolt into the foaming red waters, flowing with the blood of desperate Malathians left leaderless in their escape.

Naturally, here at the end of the battle, the Merchant forces have turned into every man for himself. Comtess Corisande Orielle-Florent fights a desperate rearguard action, backing into the lapping waves, no boat in sight; one final pistoleer, Vandal of Mill-en, sweeps her up and deposits both of them in the coracle he has strapped to his back.

Gunnar Snorrison, one of the Flotilla's Merisusi turncoats, somehow manages to drag the last bow mangonel into the waves and heads for the ships with ballista bolts scything through the water all around him.

And then it is over.

The sand stained red with blood; broken bodies floating in the bloodied waves with broken boats; shattered shards of siege engineering; and Koutetsu-Ren desperately searching the midden heaps of the shanty town for his beloved Tachi, stolen from his grasp by Iral's skill with a rapier.

"Witness the strength and belief of your people and of their leaders, Edward Hanfling of freiboden for his support and organisation in helping to muster such a force, Prince Aelric of the Merisusi for his commitment and steadfast spirit, and Koutetsu Ren of Kamakura for his unwaivering support."

The day is won, but at such a price.

The bodies of Free Islanders carpet the ground like a ghastly harvest. Over sixty good lads that cannot be put back together again.

Vanderburch has done amazing work with the myrmidon forces, but a good quarter of them have perished, too.

The only consolation is the hundred or so of theirs that have been stacked up against that, and that's just the ones that you could find enough of for Father Abraham to collect. If only you can last out the winter, there will be a great army in the springtime...

---

Holy war comes to Freeport, as Kyle Murieann leads the army of the Merchant against the small settlement. They come at dawn, massive vessels of war spilling hundreds of troops out onto the beach. But the army of the Old Man of the Sea is ready for them, with hammer in hand and fire in his eyes. The troops of Freeport are led out to meet the attackers in a battle for the soul of the New World.

For hours the battle waxes and wanes until the waves are turned a sickening red, the beach so choked with blood and bodies that the tide cannot cleanse it. There are a hundred tales of daring by the heroes of both sides, too many to mention, too many for any but the gods to know them. But in the end heroism and tactics are for nought, the defenders have the beach, the fortifications and the numbers and when the fighting is done and the bodies are being counted it is those factors that ensure they carry the day.

Kyle Murieann, the Merchant, is forced to retreat. Freeport is saved, but there are too many dead on both sides for anyone to be triumphant.

---

Holy war comes to Freeport, as Kyle Murieann leads the army of the Merchant against the small settlement. At dawn, massive warships assault the beach spilling hundreds of troops out into the water. But the army of the Old Man of the Sea is ready for them, with hammer in hand and fire in his eyes. The troops of Freeport are led out to meet the attackers in a battle for the soul of the New World.

For hours the battle waxes and wanes until the waves are turned a sickening red, the beach so choked with blood and bodies that the tide cannot cleanse it. There are a hundred tales of daring by the heroes of both sides, too many to mention, too many for any but the gods to know them. But in the end heroism and tactics are for nought, the defenders have the beach, the fortifications and the numbers and when the fighting is done and the bodies are being counted it is those factors that ensure they carry the day.

Kyle Murieann, the Merchant, is forced to retreat. Freeport is saved, but there are too many dead on both sides for anyone to be triumphant.