After coming ashore many leagues south of the settlement of Northpoint, the Imperial force begins two days of marching. Along the way they see scattered, shabby farms and ranches with buildings made of varying mixes of wattle & daub, rough wood and occasional stone. To the army’s east are cliffs and steep hills that end in waves crashing on rocks, making it clear why they came ashore where they did.
Fen attempts to learn more about the land by speaking with it, as he has done in times past in other lands, but there is no answer to his whispers. He then coaxes one of the local birds to get close enough that he can speak with it, from which he learns little of value aside from nothing is wrong with the dirt and none of the people who lived in the run-down buildings had a hacking cough. Cobble roots around in the houses for valuables and finds nothing of interest even to his forgiving sensibilities.
The land over which the army marches is dry and rocky, with low hills and rolling plains. To their south is more of the same, to their east is the sea, to their west they can see the faint outlines of distant low mountains and to their north, when they crest a particularly tall hill, they spot the cluster of buildings called Northpoint. The air is warm and dry with a near-constant breeze blowing seaward. They see few streams, most of which are barely a trickle, all of which have been clumsily used for irrigation.
Early afternoon on the second day of marching the army comes to a halt and makes camp. They are on the outskirts of their objective , which they now see is less of a city and more of a pair of focal points around which people have settled. There is wide, slow river flowing into a large bay in which has been built a port, one of the two main focal points of the city. The bay is nearly encircle by two spits of land from the north and the south. On the northern spit is a fortification that looms over the nearby buildings, being more massive than any other structure in sight by a wide margin. This fortification is the other main focal point.
There is no wall surrounding the city nor is there any other clear demarcation of where the city begins, the buildings simply get closer together and a bit larger the closer they are to the shore. There is no army in sight and little movement to be seen in Northpoint from where the Imperials camp.
In the morning the army begins its assault, their objective is to sweep through the city, building by building until they reach the walls of the fortification on the spit, what the troops have dubbed “the citadel.” The Breachers are, naturally, the first ones in. Longley’s squat splits into three groups, with Longley in charge of Skizzer, Jarda and Dunga, High Bull in charge of Cutter, Sincere and Strang, and Reagur leading the rookies Suisen, Razst and Cobble with the help of Fen.
The first house Reagur’s group comes to has one combatant inside and as soon as Fen comes in the door the enemy lobs both a rude epithet and a clay jug with an oversized stopper at him. Fen and Reagur jump back enough to avoid getting any of the resulting splash and subsequent fire on them. With the doorway on fire and the rest of the crude building likely to soon follow, the rest of the squad puts enough crossbow bolts in the soldier to more than finish him off.
At the next house they find a single terrified man hiding behind a table holding a shoddy spear. He readily surrenders and informs them that he and all the other men of the city were forced into fighting while the women, children and elderly were allowed to evacuate in the face of the largest fighting force any of them have ever seen. He runs like a bat out of hell towards the main Imperial force when he’s told he’ll be taken prisoner by them.
The next shack is empty aside from a dangling pot trap filled with stale urine awaiting anyone who comes through the front door, which Fen and Cobble are too smart to do.
The fourth building has two decently outfitted combatants inside, one with a spear, ready to charge the door, and one with a bow ready to shoot through the leather-flap window. Reagur’s crew takes their first damage from these two before finishing them off.
There is little more in the way of excitement after that, aside from a couple more terrified “conscripts” who quickly throw down their weapons when they find out that’s an option, until they come to what looks to be a tavern. It’s a two-story building, much larger than any of the others they’ve come to yet, and decently, if sparingly, built. Cobble peaks through one of the upper windows to see an enemy soldier with a spear waiting behind a bed. He takes a shot at the guy with Fen’s hand crossbow and misses, which causes the soldier to yell out “they’re coming through the windows!” The group then comes in through the windows, only it’s the downstairs ones now, to find an empty main room. The front entrance looks to have been rigged with a suspended plank of wood, some ropes and a couple posts so that the doors could be shut and very strongly barred from directly upstairs. The question now is why?