For a while, it is quiet.

The market traders and the civilians attempt to bustle around when you first enter the city, but after the first couple of casual, offhand murders of anything that moves too fast in your vicinity, the streets clear right out. The occasional wary beak watches from an upstairs window, but nobody tries anything.

And the buildings start to come down. The Great Dune, the remnants of the fortified wall, is cleared by the earthquake beetles. The Caliph's Sanctuary, the great fortress, is systematically disassembled by the industrious Alkonian forces. The deepwater port, the college, and the hurriedly stripped storehouses that had housed sorcerous mills are secured by the facets. Warehouses, goldsmiths, carpenters, watchtower; all gone.

The barracks is the site of the remaining Rukhi's opening gambit; the 'trainees' cowering behind the weapon racks leap out with axes, the remnants of the Magpie Marauders. They do not last very long at all, although they take a few of your braves with them.

That is the pattern of the chase, then, through all the long days of Abu Malikari's destruction; you kill and you burn, and around every corner there could be a fusillade of pistol fire or a bristling line of desperate spears, but fewer and further between as the buildings thin out and the population flees before your wrath.

The Flower of Exquisite Lumber, the last lumber shed in Rukh, is razed to the ground amid the bodies of the 5th City Guard, The Mongeese and the Sons of Khaled who would defend it. The drainage letting the crops grow at the Amir's Feast farmland is destroyed, floodwaters pouring over the remains of Kayam's Kookaburras and Phoenix Wing. Malikaran Defence Force Third Battalion and Malikaran Defence Force Fifth Battalion are found in the remains of the rum distillery, drinking the produce, and swiftly put down. The Guards of the Firebird's Nest set up their ballistae for a last stand in The Shrine of Golden Flames, supported by The Reserves.

The remaining whores at The Tassle Palace turn out to be Amir's Harem Guard Second Batallion and the Masjid Marines; your forces are tired of such tricks and simply burn the place to the ground with them trapped inside. The last of the Majestic Ospreys are holed up with the Allegiance Soldiers Second Battalion and the Rukhi Rangers Fourth Battalion in the Healer's Forge, a smithy which presents many environmental hazards and is distinctly resistant to being simply burned down; they are particularly difficult to extract, but eventually they are all dead and the building lies in ruins around them.

The few defenders seem to particularly have it in for the dryads; 1 of the Special Arboreal Service, 1 of the Forest's Braves, 2 of Euk's 4th Whispers, 1 of Nature's Champions, 3 of Euk's 5th Salubrious, the last of Euk's 5th Whispers, the last two of Euk's 3rd Whispers, and the last two of Euk's 3rd Salubrious all perish in often mysterious circumstances.

The snakes are not without their losses either; one of the Feathers of Eagle, one of the Guardians of the Tomb, one of Torano's Hunters, fully 8 of Surgeon's Secrets in the carnage at Healer's Forge, one of Pride of Peacock, six Chanters of the Canopy cut down at The Shrine of Golden Flames, 3 of Silent-Tooth's Hunters, all 4 Dragon Hunters down one dark alleyway, one Brave of the Balance, four of the Tocho Trappers, one of the Ul-So Raiders, all 3 remaining Lonato Jungle Hunters, one of the Spear Horn Prowlers, one of the Shadows of Ohanzee, four of Ant's Arm, two of Scorpion's Sting, one Soldier of Serpent, and the last of the Ahiga Stalkers are taken out by the remaining forces of the Rukh.

And the Alkonians too; one of Sixth Crystal Wing, 5 of Cross Wing who are targetted for their work with the earthquake beetles, the last of alkonian colonial crossbow 1, the last of Alkonian Colonial Dragoons Platoon two, one of Alkonian Colonial Marines platoon eight, two of Reserves 2nd Flight who had lost their armour in the previous battle, 3 5th Talon Free Company and 2 4th Talon Free Company, 3 of the 1st Talon Free Squadron, 1 of the 1st Colonial Marines, 1st Squad, 2 of the Fight Seige Flight, 4 Eyrie City Guard, the other Flembic from 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Colonial Marines, 1 of Alkonian Colonial Marines platoon five, and the last of 2nd Crystal Wing are caught in various traps and crossfires before the city is too ruined to hide in.

Through it all, you are watched steadfastly by the great stone head of Beacon, the moai statue who Vadasz-Ahu re-christens 'Safeguard'. At first she calls instructions to the Rukhi troops, but soon the instructions are mostly admonishments to run away while they still can, as the battle is clearly lost. Whilst stray pistol fire and arrows clearly hurt her, she shows no fear for her own existence - although you cannot test this very far, as Vadasz-Ahu has ordered that she must remain intact. Instead, she tries to convince anyone in the area that they should refrain from burning the city, and instead learn to live an orderly existence, taming the wild power of the world into holy work.

---

Naturally, the Rukhi patrols don't cease to harry the enemy with the destruction of the fortress; every step they take through the twisting streets of the city is full of danger and excitement, and almost a hundred more natives and Alkonians pay with their lives for their disrespect of Abu Malikari.

Alas, eventually there is barely enough city left to hide in - and the colleges and port that still stand are swarming with Onontakhan hunters - and so the remnants of the patrols retreat from the area entirely.

One question remains, if the reports they bear with them are true - why does Beacon, the moai, the talking head golem, still live, when so many of the Rukh have died?

---

There is nothing left in Abu Malikari.

We fought over every stone. We hid behind every patch of reeds. We were glorious. We were not good enough.

Thirteen more dryads; forty-four more Onontakan; twenty-eight more Alkonians. Beacon counted them all out to us as we hid in the smoking ruins of our beautiful city.

We fought until there was not one stone upon another that was not full of the Onontakha - they took the colleges and the port for their own ends - and then we few that could no longer make a difference, well, we have come to fight another day.

They have not killed Beacon, although she admonishes them still. We don't know why. They killed enough of us.

We will return to the city if you wish it, but it will only be to our deaths.

---

The Alkonians and Onontakhans do not make the same mistakes as they made before. They kill every civilian in their path. They destroy almost every building, every construction that they do not have an immediate use for, starting with the fortified wall and the fortress.

They still die in droves, of course; almost another hundred perish as the remaining defenders of the city gradually show themselves. But the defenders die in equal number, this time, ignoring Beacon's instructions to flee whilst they still can.

Beacon - they tell us to call her Safeguard, now - Beacon still stands. They have kept her alive, for whatever treacherous ends these heathen monsters have.

Beacon, and the colleges, and the port; precious little else remains of the crown jewel of the Rukhi colony, trampled beneath the wrath of the forest - and the calculating greed of Alkyon.