The citizens of Eyrie spend the rest of the season trying to avoid the seven drones that made it back from Marazion. The poor things are confused, not sure whether to be proud of the carnage they wrought, or cowed and apologetic for being the only ones who get to go home.
They can't speak, can't tell of the fate of their comrades. But there are civilians in Eyrie, and Marazion, who can do the talking for them.
The Eyrie Defence Force was always a rather grand name for the fourteen of them. The two heavily armoured mokosh of Squad 8, one armed in the traditional Merisusi fashion with a hand axe and shield and the other making do with a dagger to pair with their wooden shield. The three proud First Pistoleers, Freiboden revolutionaries to a woman, who only had one pistol between them, but one had scrounged up a spear and one had some kind of talisman on something approximating a sword - and they all had their shields, and squabbled over two fine suits of cuir bouilli. That Free Islands avian, Squad 4; never without a dose of Flame, and decently equipped with that full light armour, shield and spear. The seven dracoscions he probably got the habit off, Squad 5, with shields and armour enough but not a decent weapon between them. Then Squad 6, another dracoscion who had actually got himself a hand axe - by nicking it off Squad 8, as rumour had it - and renounced his
Flame habit, at least for now.
There had been a little excitement at the start of the season when Tuatara: Mask of Colaborative Planning headed past on the way to Corundum, but it wasn't burning anything to the ground and so the Eyrie Defence Force returned to town and managed to give their report for that engagement.
Then the bugs had turned up. The Ferrymans Sons, according to the note they handed over wordlessly. Sharlindra had sent them to help the Mayans in their time of need, apparently. Or maybe just to help protect the Bowl of Sanguine Harvests in Adularia from anything marauding down from the ports, although it was nice to have them up here, even if they could get rather creepy.
And they waited, and waited. All was suspiciously quiet, given the imminent warning of civil war that had been given out at the start of the season.
Finally, in November, Cockatrice: Mask of Terror paid a visit to Marazion.
It was that Free Islander that lives in Marazion, the human that refuses to drink anyone's blood, that came to the Defence Force with the warning. The bugs had started to act agitated that morning, had formed themselves up and tried to give some kind of message, and so the Defence Force had mustered back from their various patrol-covering marches to reinforce the wall in a Marazion-like direction, but the Free Islander was the first to give them any idea of the scale of what they were facing.
There was a new dragon. Called himself Marco. Came ashore in Sorentto, according to the refugee that they'd taken in from Silvanium. As soon as he was off the boat, he set it afire to set the docks alight. He had thirty of his own dracoscions with him and they were burning everything in their path, looting it, destroying it, razing it to the ground. Worse still, he had another seventy-three of Sulcofuron's forces with him.
The lads and lasses of the Defence Force did not like the sound of this. They conferred amongst themselves. But the bugs were determined to carry on; defending the area was what they'd been ordered to do. And, bless them, some of the Defence Force had become quite fond of the Ferrymen since they got here. Drones aren't exactly people, but they are every bit as smart as dogs or horses, and the First Pistoleers missed their horses.
And if they didn't stop the Mask of Terror together, then when it had done with Marazion, what would stop it taking The Eyrie too?
Reports of the actual battle, alas, are harder to come by. It's fairly certain that Squad 7, eight inexperienced dracoscions flush from their victory in Corundum, securing the palisade right out from under the drilling troops of Sulcofuron's collected forces, swept in at some stage to attempt to relieve the beleaguered force and drive the battle back against Vallum, the fortified wall of The Eyrie. It's very certain that although Marazion burned still, many of the fires were great pyres of the other side's dead, as well as our own.
The citizens of Marazion report a few incidents: the four humans left out of ten Dragon Marines (2) Secundus, sneaking off the battlefield behind four giant wooden shields on wheels, dragging their repeating ballista and arbalest behind them. The three miserable, unarmed humans that remained of the twenty in Vaul's Biochemical Warfare unit – Platoon 1 (Capture), crawling away from the fight through the fields. The last member of the thirteen assorted members of Dracoscion Militia 1 taking shelter in the very same outbuilding that some of the civilians were huddling in, and telling of a similar band to our own Eyrie Defence Force, who they had fought and who were out there dying at that very moment.
Everyone in The Eyrie heard the trebuchet's impact on the walls, fired capably by Dragon Marines (1) Primus, but Cockatrice was not interested in The Eyrie, thank whichever gods you may. Once the last of the Defence Force was dead, the rocks stopped falling, and only the drifting ash from Marazion marked the Mask of Terror's passing.
And the seven drones straggled back into Eyrie and resumed their patrol mournfully, as Marazion burned.
Having destroyed everything in Sorentto and Silvanium, you march on Marazion to destroy everything there too.
Someone has left a load of bugs lying around, supported by a random grab-bag of troops that reminds you of your own Dracoscion Militia 1. And they have a fortified wall, over in The Eyrie next door.
That's okay. You brought a trebuchet.
The Ferrymans Sons - the bugs - aren't as dim as you thought drones ought to be, and these are definitely drones, but they still identify that repeating ballista as a threat and kill over half of Dragon Marines (2) Secundus, forcing the rest to retreat behind their mantlets, and get a fair way through Dragon Marines (1) Primus before you finally throw enough dracoscions at them to destroy the vast majority of the myrmidon defenders.
And those rag-tag troops fight like cornered wolverines, like they are certain you are going to burn their homes and destroy everything they love if they don't stop you.
They might be indifferently equipped, but they are all dosed up on Flame and they mostly have the right kind of armour and some sort of weapon, so their compassion for the twenty unarmed humans you send in, or the similar rag-tag bunch of Dracoscion Militia, or your siege weapon crews, or your unarmoured dracoscions, is distinctly limited.
Eventually they all stop moving, even the last-minute, poorly armed but very enthusiastic squad of dracoscions - the Regiment of Trebax Aranea - who somehow got around the flank of your army when you thought the Eyrie Defence Force were pinned against their own wall.
Vallum; the great wall of The Eyrie, last hope of those who would see the Mayan colony survive Sulcofuron's terrible rage, would see some part of the colony safe from her destructive intentions.
Behind it, brave defenders, but no great heroes; ordinary men and woman to the last, trained and equipped, but of a wide variety of nations. They come together at the last to defend Marazion from the depredations of Sulcofuron's forces, from the Cockatrice, Mask of Terror himself, who walks the lands on the Iridescent Lady's invitation.
They have some strange allies, it is told; the Azure Collective has sent its drones to defend this place as well. All who would see the end of the colony's devastation under the Lambent Flame's heel are welcome.
But even with the greatest will in the world, and there is precious little of that to go around, there is no defending against Cockatrice himself.
The wall falls; Marazion falls; The Eyrie falls. All is lost. The ash drifts across the colony on the breeze.