Asheth Magnus tightened the nuts on the underside of the Mangler's arm one last time and took a step back to admire his work. He had reconstructed most of the working parts after the last battle, but there were going to be some critical compromises in his armor that he would not be able to deal with until he could get into a real repair shop. The makeshift setup he had running would only go so far - but such was a mercenary's life.
He had been contracted by one of the High Captains of Five Fingers to engage in a protracted campaign for some seemingly worthless little patch of land in Eastern Ord. He had no vested interest in the area whatsoever, but the money they had offered him would pay for a lot of his own schemes when this was all over. They had also hired the gregarious mercenary Drake MacBain, as well as the enigmatic Fiona the Black, and though they did not work terribly closely together they coordinated their actions to try and maximize their gains.
Magnus was not used to working with other warcasters, but he had hired Stannis Brocker to come with him from Ternon Crag to manage his continent of Steelheads. He had worked with many of these men before, and after their latest engagement he knew that he would have to figure out a way to replenish their ranks - they had taken many casualties. He had spotted a force of what turned out to be Iosan elves moving toward a small hamlet on the outskirts of the main town. He had hidden the smoke of his warjacks within the hamlet and ambushed the elves before they could call for reinforcements. He had no idea what Iosans were doing this far away from their homeland, but he was not being paid to take such things into consideration. His attack had decimated their ranks, even as their rifle fire had cut down his halberdiers and one of their strange warjack-like machines had reduced his Mangler to scrap.
In the end his casualties had been relatively light compared with how badly he had inflicted losses on the elves, but he knew that he had just encountered a vanguard force. He had already spotted Khadoran formations, Protectorate zealots, and some Cygnaran dogs in the area as well, and knew that whatever this patch of land was worth, there were many who were willing to fight and die for it.