Dark Form brings unwelcome news on his return. Marco's force, Cockatrice: The Mask of Terror, has regrouped with the remainder of Sulcofuron's expeditionary forces.
There aren't that many of them left, but after losing the cover of the Azure warriors, it feels like there aren't so many of you any more either. And many of the defenders have drifted off to other battles or other pursuits by this point in the season.
Without the trebuchets it is unlikely they can get through the walls, but there is little appetite for simply holing up and letting them rampage around the countryside. Too many dead comrades, too much of the colony in ruins. The dracoscions of Dragonstail's and Squad 20 and 21, recently arrived from Sorrento, are particularly adamant - they want to get out on the field and they want to kill that bastard Marco before he can destroy anything else.
They still have a repeating ballista, and plenty of longbows. So there seems to be little point waiting for them to regroup and choose their vantage point. Dark Form plots out a course much like the one that the combined forces of Sulcofuron had taken to ambush them at the dojo, one which will keep the troops from sight until they are practically on top of Marco's position. The one remaining Nightblack Solitary is particularly keen to be in the front of the charge, and there is no shortage of other volunteers.
Under the cover of darkness, with much admonition of Steam not to skyline himself awkwardly and reminders that black is not in fact a particularly stealthy colour, your forces set out once again, Nightblack Hastati Praecedo remaining with the supplies after the trouble during the last battle. The mood is tense and determined amongst the silent soldiers who head out into the night. Your route is perfectly timed; as the cold light of the false dawn starts to rise, it reveals the red dracoscions encamped on the hillside.
The last Nightblack Solitary cannot contain himself. He breaks into a run. Squads 20 and 21 pick up the pace and follow suit, and there is nothing left for it but to charge, Dark Form, Lam Trong Quan, Ingvar and Jha-Meith taking up positions with the 3rd and 4th talon, Dragontail's skirmishing around the edges, and Steam bellowing a challenge as the centrepiece of the formation.
Cockatrice: Mask of Terror are swift to ready themselves for battle, despite the surprise of an attack this far out and this early in the morning. The Dragon's Own Yeoman and the last of the Blood Moon Talons must have been keeping their weapons strung; the hail of arrows fall heavily across the onrushing troops, and very shortly they are joined by a few shots from the repeating ballista, although the handful of remaining Turon's Bombardiers seem to be struggling to keep it loaded at a reasonable rate.
Meanwhile the The Dragon's Own Namaru, interspersed with the Fulcofuron's 83rd Heavy Foot, set their spears to receive the charge, and the Heavy Foot heft their two-handed swords in a determined fashion.
Behind them, the last member of Lambent Guard (6) Sextus stands with Taleria, ready to guard her as she tends to the injured. Marco is already over the brow of the next hill. It is obvious what he thinks of the chances his army has against the Eyrie's defenders.
Then the lines meet, with a terrible clash of steel and chist and scales. It seems that scarcely anyone remains on their feet at times; sweeping blows turn organised lines into a chaotic brawl, although one which is helpfully colour-coded for the combatants' convenience. There are fewer of the red dracoscions but they fight fiercely; none show any sign of being willing to retreat. Perhaps Sulcofuron has told them to return with news of victory, or not at all.
Just as suddenly, it is over.
The combatants untangle themselves from the corpses of their foes; and among the fallen red dracoscions, the broken body of Taleria, scales cracked and bruised.
Steam lifts her gently out of the carnage, as if he hopes there might be some solution, some way that life can be returned to her. But in the vicious melee, and with the memory of the Dragon's Own troops at the dojo who had feigned death only to attack the Talons in the rear still fresh in the soldiers' minds, she has been thoroughly beaten beyond all hope of recovery.
Jha-Meith follows Steam away from the battlefield, as the rest of the force starts to repair their armour and concern themselves with their own dead. Three of the Dragontail's, three of Squad 20, two of Squad 21, one each from the 3rd and 4th Talons, yet another myrmidon warrior and that last Nightblack Solitary also lie dead on the field; but they have accounted for thirty-one of the enemy, every last dracoscion in the force that opposed them.
Tired of being pinned behind their walls, and freshly reinforced with arrivals from Sorrento, the defenders of The Eyrie go out hunting Sulcofuron's troops in the dead of night, relying on Dark Form's excellent pathfinding skills to keep them safe from the enemy's superior ranged capability. Little is heard of them until the morning, which dawns on a hillside drenched in blood and torn red scales. Lam Trong Quan's triumphant army returns to the walls, although something appears to have upset the young dragon Steam. Maybe it's the fact that Marco, the architect of Sorrento's ruin, managed to run away from the fight once again, although reportedly every single dracoscion in his force is dead.
You make an attempt at regrouping and returning to Corundum, but before you can fully recover from the last battle, The Eyrie's defenders ambush your force out of the darkness just before dawn.
Marco can hear the repeating ballista and the longbows start up behind him, but he knows the day is lost and the only thing he can do is save his own skin.
Taleria hears Steam bellow out of the darkness at the start of the fight, and stays with her troops to the end. It's short and messy and bloody, the rage of the enemy troops white-hot and half of them capable of knocking her troops clean off their feet. Steam might have made an exception for her, but his men do not. Her body is carried gently off the battlefield by the young black dragon, the eidolon called Jha-Meith following.
The defenders of The Eyrie finally manage to break the back of Cockatrice: Mask of Terror completely! In a daring dawn raid, Lam Trong Quan leads the veterans to a glorious and total victory over the hated force which has left much of the colony in ruins. Not one of the red dracoscions or their Tritoni pets escapes the wrath of the Council of Wyrms, embodied in the young dragon Steam who led the charge with a bellowing roar of challenge that shook the earth and knocked the helpless red dracoscions straight off their feet!