What cold and uncaring times we live in! A masterful Rukhi gambit awaited the native forces at Stormy Waters - with the manufactory removed, the still and silent factory building contained within its rafters the most puissant and skillful pistoleers that the desert had to offer, and daring swordsmen and gleaming facet spearmen besides.
But the New World gives no points for style. Garu-Amun and Vadez-Ahu - or, whisper it, Griannon and Nagateca - appeared winged and many-limbed with their three hundred tribesmen and two hundred avenging native demons, and simply burned the factory to the ground with their own breath, destroying everyone within. The few survivors were paralysed with necromantic terror as they were devoured by the victorious demons - yes, and wraiths danced on the ashes, as the natives prove themselves to be riddled with necromancers, filled to the brim with the corruption they accuse their enemies of!
It was at the Bird In Hand that you met the first serious resistance.
Sprawling across the vast floodplains of the great Rukhi river, in a monsterous steely embrace with the windmill Wings of Steel, the factory lay silent and still as your forces approach. The Avenging Eidolons are already laying waste to the fallow sugar fields of the Amir's Dessert, but Vadasz-Ahu calls them back; he knows that the Rukh have a propensity for ambush from unattended-looking buildings, and the factory is the perfect location for such tactics.
Quietly, the many Onontakhan bowmen surround the blocky, alien construction on all sides, ready to respond to any hint of a firing opportunity; the eidolons Fanor and Blizzard and the undead Marko Kononov mingle with the Avenging Eidolons, ready to lead the charge into the complex and flush out any lurking avians. The wraith Jacques De Custine and Peca Meca Teca keep an eye on the major entrances, preparing to break a return charge with the fear of death; meanwhile vadasz-Ahu, Garu-Amun and Taacateca climb the other windmill, already cleared of potential threats, and watch the extensive factory roof.
The interior of the factory is a twisting maze of low surfaces and high gantries, even with the echoing spaces left by the hasty removal of some kind of extensive mechanical tooling. For a moment there is no sign of the Rukh - and then the pistol fire begins.
Fanor and the Avenging Eidolons attempt to swarm up the walls, but the tangles of jagged metal and torn-up ladders make flushing the place out a distinctly unlikely prospect; Marko dissipates under a barrage of targetted pistol shots and Blizzard ducks out to signal that plan B is in order.
Protected by the tide of avenging eidolons washing in and out of the building, the Onontakhan bowmen begin to cautiously infiltrate; ducking and weaving, making it difficult for the Rukh to determine which of the targets are high-value and which are simply more evenescent Splinters and Slivers of Sacrifice. Once the Rukh are good and engaged, Garu-Amun spreads his wings, and glides down to the roof of the factory building, the other two winged ophidians following; as befits a Rukhi building, there is plenty of roof access, and they catch the 2nd Rukhi Colonial Marines, the Masjid Marines, the Imperial Jewels and the Eagle's Claws trying to make a break for it.
The Colonial Marines are reasonable swordsmen, all the Rukh are kitted out in decent leather armour, and the facets of the Imperial Jewels are clutching wooden shields with grim determination; this lets a few of them escape past the devastation that Garu-Amun and Taacateca's incredible swordsmanship and firey breath bring to their ranks, while vadasz-Ahu keeps any that are looking particularly confident locked down with necromantic paralysis and terror, gathering the Imperial Jewels as they fall.
Meanwhile, the battle is not going quite so well inside the factory; whilst Omneteca's feverish work just outside one of the main entrances keeps the casualties down, it seems that the skilled Onontakhan bowmen are having great trouble pinning the Rukhi pistoleers down in their own factory. It is only when Garu-Amun swings through a door in the roof and the flying squad begins to roll them up from the inside that the pistoleers begin to flee; a couple are caught by Jacques de Custine's fear-inspiring demeanour on the way out of the many windows, but most of the veteran Rukhi warriors drop from the rafters in unexpected places and slip away, leaving the distinctly less experienced Rukhi Rangers Third and Fourth Battalion and the Emerald Guard to take most of the casualties.
The factory is finally secured, but it has been a rather unsatisfying battle; there are 43 dead Rukh, including nine facets of the Imperial Jewels used up by Vadasz-Ahu (and by Peca Meca Teca re-empowering Marko), but primarily they are obviously the new recruits rather than the serious fighters like The Majestic Ospreys, all of which appear to have escaped unharmed once again. And there are seventeen Onontakhan dead, eight of the Teca and nine of Slish's, most of whom were lacking armour, several who were simply trampled after being downed by pistolleers.
Still, this place will all burn, and Abu Malikari is just a little way down the river.
The Rukh attempt to ambush the approaching Onontakhan half of the army converging on Abu Malikari in the factory at Stormy Waters, but the overwhelming force that the natives have brought to bear means that only a few of the Rukh manage to escape with their lives. The reports from the survivors strongly indicate heavy use of necromancy by the native forces, including the presence of at least one wraith, Jacques de Custine, and the undead Fidelian paladin Marko Kononov.
Everything at Stormy Waters burns to the ground; the fields are thoroughly ruined by the two hundred avenging eidolons and three hundred Onontakhan and facet warriors before they head on up the river towards Abu Malikari in their swift canoes.
We gave them a bloody nose at the Bird In Hand, but it cost us more than we'd hoped.
I guess we hadn't believed the reports, such as they were; two hundred avenging eidolons, three hundred native warriors, Onontakhan champions that were more like dragons than snake-men - and dragons small enough to fly, at that.
Now we have seen them with our own eyes. Their tactics were hopeless - sent all their ground troops into the factory where we were hiding in the rafters - but their raw power was unstoppable; the Capitol Defence lads might have tubes that throw flame, but they were spraying it from their mouths. Nagateca has six arms and wings, a two-handed sword in each pair and two left for his shield and his terrible necromantic magic.
He harvested the Imperial Jewels where they fell and used them against us. There was a wraith, too, and some undead human paladin, and necromancers everywhere. And they accuse _us_ of necromancy? They are rotten through with it, condemning it with one side of their mouth and casting it with the other.
Most of the new guys died. Six of the Rukhi Rangers Third Batallion. Six of the Fourth Batallion. 5 of the Emerald Guard. All but one of the Imperial Jewels.
6 2nd Rukhi Colonial Marines, 2 Amir's Guard, 5 Eagle's Claws, one of Amir's Harem Guard Second Batallion, and 3 Masjid Marines.
And it is all true: they can fly and breathe fire and cut a man in half with a sword without drawing breath.
They have totally got us beaten at rooftop chases.