The news from Holy Archangel of the Malathian incursion had just filtered through by the time you approach the outskirts of Blessed Illyagrad; everyone is on guard for the slightest movement, as the farm is fallow this season, and no innocent creature moves in this heavily tainted landscape.

Everything is still; everything is silent. You take up positions on the palisade and send the troops out to peer over the brow of the area’s many hills and report on any disturbances.

Almost as soon as the troops have separated, the Malathians show themselves; from a hidden valley they fall upon the Kamakurans of the Guardians Fifth. Their cries are dulled by the thick, oppressive tainted air, but Malachite is ready for this; as Edvardo runs out to rally the troops, he calmly shoots arrows painted with the signal to fall back, over the hills that Edvardo’s forces have gone to investigate.

A few of the desperate Malathian troops are drawn out; most of them scatter to the four winds. Malachite’s arrows find a few, and Edvardo arrives to rally Lord Sun’s Will and the Eschatonic Order: 2nd Infantry who are advancing cautiously on a knot of experienced Black Legion, greataxe-wielding Malathians who have already gravely injured a couple of their number.

Then the hunt begins in earnest; the extremely competent pistoleers of The Khan’s Fury, once Malathians themselves, leading the charge to bring the routed Malathians to ground, wounding a good few that can then be tracked to where they fall by the trail of blood.

The enemy, alas, are callous and self-serving enough to simply leave those corpses where they fall, rather than carry or defend their injured comrades. Of the thirty or so you hear escaped from Holy Archangel, twenty-five are tracked down and slaughtered, but that means at least five are still at large.

When the trails run cold, there is little to be done but gather the dead Kamakurans, and the Freibodener from Lord Suns Will and the Free Islander from the Eschatonic Order: 2nd Infantry who could not recover from their deep axe-wounds, and commend their souls to Lord Sun.

And, of course, to remain vigilant for the Malathians’ return - or the arrival of their masters, the Amici.

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The Malathians which successfully fled the due punishment for their lawless deeds at Holy Archangel are found in Blessed Illyagrad, attempting to secure the area for their dark masters, the Amici. Fortunately, Malachite and Edvardo Khozinov arrive just in time to slaughter them and send the few survivors fleeing in all directions for a hole to hide in, to protect them from Malachite’s deadly arrows and Edvardo’s mighty axe.

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The Malathians which successfully fled the due punishment for their lawless deeds at Holy Archangel are found in Blessed Illyagrad, attempting to secure the area for their dark masters, the Amici. Fortunately, Malachite and Edvardo Khozinov arrive just in time to foil this devious scheme, and put every one of them to the axe for their crimes.

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It could have gone a lot worse.

Yes, only one of the Black Legion is still standing. Yes, the Amici House Guard and Legion X weren’t even that lucky. Yes, there’s only one Yardstick and two apiece from Nicole’s Guard and Legion XI that made it out.

But they still don’t know where we are - they still don’t know where The Teacher’s Blessing is.

It’s not surprising that the Fidelians can’t find The Teacher’s Blessing with both hands, really, given their history. Certainly there were significantly more Kamakurans in the rag-tag force that chased us off the hills of Blessed Illyagrad; Guardians Third and Fifth were entirely Kamakuran units, thirty of them, not old enough to shave and not well-trained enough to do so without cutting themselves.

One of them was holding a chivalric axe. The wrong way round. Yes, it’s all very embarrassing. If that had been all they’d brought, we’d have been fine. Unfortunately, there were also some others. Lord Suns Will, for instance - they’d brought a couple of gnolls and a Merisusi mokosh, along with the five Freibodeners and the four Fidelians, and a few of them could even use their axes - sacred axes, at that. And Hinterlands Second, which along with yet more Kamakurans brought three Flembics and an Amusar, along with the eight actual Fidelian tribesmen; they were dragging a trebuchet, but a couple of them could actually fight.

Then there was The Khans Fury, even more irritating because the seven of them obviously once called themselves Malathians, who looked pretty hard in their full leather armour and steel shields, and could fire a pistol with the best of them. And Eschatonic Order: 2nd Infantry, three actual Fidelians and two Free Islanders who wanted to be Fidelians, were bringing up the rear with their hand axes. We never found out if they could fight or not.

That was because we were too busy trying to keep out of sight of their longbowman, another one of those facets, but this was the one in charge - Malachite. He didn’t seem to have brought any of his friends with him, but Edvardo Khozinov’s friends were quite enough; and Edvardo himself was there this time, with his axe and his cuirboulli.

We didn’t see that much of the fight, because if we had, we wouldn’t be here to talk to you about it. Praise the courage of those who led them off in different directions, and who stood and fought against impossible odds to let us get away.

But we’ve still got the ritual site; it’s down in a valley between a couple of hills, out of the way of the farmland.

Might be difficult to get your ritualist in past them all, though.