Since keeping the Arczechki away from the refugees converging on Merresh was essential, our heroes agreed that the best course of action would be to strike at the Arczechki warlord directly. Without his leadership, they believed that the horde would fall apart into in-fighting. They set out early, following the road north toward Ewemark, where the barbarians struck at the abbot several days ago.
The place of the struggle was not difficult to find. The road was scattered with the remains of the conflict. Drac investigated the scene, and found signs of an enormous animal, which he identified as most likely a yeddim. Zakiti circled the area and traced the Arczechki back to where they had camped. The site was no longer occupied but she called he companions before investigating fully. From the campsite, they followed the trail of the Arczechki north, back to the road, and on to Ewemark.
As the Unconquered Sun was reaching the horizon, our heroes arrive at Ewemark. They found the town smashed and smoldering, over a hundred Arczechki in residence, and the survivors corralled against the river. Amidst the destruction, they spotted the warlord, brooding alone. He was a big man, with the head of an alligator as decoration on one shoulder, and the rest of the beasts hide spanning his back. A yeddim with a battle howdah rested by the riverbank, captives from the town forced to bring it food.
Kaveh and Zakati express concern about the number of foes and began to plot drawing some of them across the river and destroying the bridge to split them up. Genjo refused to wait for a plan to be formed; he saw innocents in danger and felt compelled into action. He walked confidently into town, and cowed the individual Arczechki through his intimidating presence. Zakiti sprinted off around the town to get into position to destroy the bridge, Drac followed in Genjo's wake, and Kavah use his illusions to hide among the Arczechki now beginning to mass around Genjo.
The smoke and dust of the ruined town swirling around them, the warlord stepped into Genjo's path toward the river where he intended to free the captives. Genjo and Drac saw his fine leather armor was fastened with shining silver, and silver was inlaid in whirling patters across the leather. The warlord unslung his massive axe from his back. "Who challenges Aycus Wallbreaker?" Genjo scoffed at the threat, "You'll break nothing." and concentrated his essence around himself, hardening his body against attack.
Hoping to turn the Arczechki on each other, Kaveh took a javelin, and threw it from the group he was hiding with at another group. The two groups charged into each other, and the fighting began. Genjo struck at Aycus, punching through his parry and landing a withering blow, driving the warlord back a step in surprise. Thanks to Kaveh's deception, the Arczechi clashed with one another. The yeddim handlers began to rouse their beast and mount the howdah.
Kaveh used his supernatural balance to run across the crowd. At the last moment, he sent an illusion leaping at the warlord while personally trying to strike beneath his guard. Aycus spun, shattering the leaping illusion, and blocking Kaveh's strike. Meanwhile, Drac stuck all about him, thinning the throng of Arczechki. Zakaiti ran into positoin, and began gathering sorcerous motes around her.
Aycus turned on Kaveh driving him back. Kaveh had the shocking realization that this foe was beyond his skill, a realization that almost broke him. He was barely able to fend off the attacks of the Arczechki around him. Fortunatley, Genjo took the opportunity to strike a fierce blow, knocking Aycus through the thronging barbarians. The yeddim began to lumber toward the ongoing battle.
Drawing the final motes from a bound spirit, Zakiti unleash the Death of Obsidian Butterflies on the throng. With the casualties they had already taken, the spell was enough to break their will, and they began to flee. Some of the flitting shards even cut their Lunar adversary. The barbarians atop the yeddim threw a hail of javelins into the fray. Kaveh dove behind Genjo for cover. Drac was struck by one, but entirely protected by his orichalcum armor. Genjo stepped into a defensive posture over Kaveh to protect him.
Fearing defeat, Aycus transformed into an eagle, and began to take flight. Kaveh attempted to stop him, and failed to halt his takeoff. Acting quickly, Genjo leaped up the ruins of one of the nearby buildings, and launched himself through the air to tackle the eagle. He slammed into the escaping bird, grappling him, and tackling him to the ground. As they struggled, Aycus returned to his human form; not the Arczechki warlord, but a wiry and slightly hallow-cheeked man. Despite his essence enhanced strength, he could not break free of Genjo's vice-like clutches.
Seeing their warlord brought low, the remaining Arczechki, including those driving the yeddim, fled the battlefield.
Genjo ask why Aycus brought such suffering. Aycus said the suffering was necessary to draw out the Dragonblooded so he could break them and free the peoples of the Threshold. Genjo said the nothing justified the suffering of innocents, especially children, and asked for Aycus last words. Aycus said they would face the vengeance of Ma-Ha-Suchi. With that, Genjo snapped his neck and let his essence burn away the body and spirit of the thwarted Lunar.
Genjo was shaken by his visions of Aycus, a young man whose home was raided and enslaved by the Realm; and battle, and failure to save his family, a terrifying flight out into the Wyld, and the surity of righteousness in tearing down the Dragonblooded of the Real and Lookshy.
During the battle, the captives had seen our heroes reveal themselves as anathema. Fearing the welcome that would await them if they returned to Merresh, they spent the next week breaking up larger bands of Arzechki before heading north along the Gray River toward the heart of the Scavenger Lands, Nexus…