The dynamics of the situation were obvious to all.
Their force had the advantage of numbers. The Grenadiers had rifles, Jarl toted a handcannon. They had the firepower to reduce a more conventional pair of adversaries to meat and bone. These enemies, however, had an advantage of their own.
The shades were insubstantial, mere splotches of dread, adrift on the wind. The flintlocks they toted glinted beneath an unseen sun. The antique costumes they were attired in stirred in spectral wind. They floated inches or feet above the waves, or dipped their boots in the water, leaving no ripples. Bullets would pass through such apparitions as they would fog or smoke, inflicting no harm. No weapon, save one that was enchanted, would find purchase upon the Cryxian monstrosities.
"I've heard of such blights" whispered Jarl. "They materialize when they fire. We need to draw them into firing first." He hunkered down behind a bit of rotted fence as he spoke, though there wasn't nearly sufficient cover. They had advanced in a body down to the water's edge, and now hung there, impaled by their own reluctance, unwilling to retreat and leave the refugees, but unable to advance into unreturnable gunfire.
Sansa snorted, "Figures." she said. Jardon motioned for the pair to hush, and carefully considered the situation. The enemy had not, even now, altered their deployment to reflect an awareness of the newly arrived Ordic unit. They continued to orbit the strip of land, one always facing each bank, disdaining even to present all of their weapons on his warriors.
One of the refugees was gesturing fervently, trying to attract his attention, and he gave it to him. The man was a Cygnaran soldier, or at least had been. From the torn and bloodied state of his garments he wasn't doing much fighting any more, deserter perhaps, or simply a casualty. His dishevelment had let him blend right in with the refugees, but now that he spoke Jardon examined him carefully.
He had the look of one of the legendary Rangers of the Cygnaran Reconnaissance service. His leathers were torn and stained a deep crimson, but he didn't look to have been critically wounded. His gaze was level and sane, if somewhat harried by his present circumstances. He had a narrow face, and wore the symbol of Morrow at his throat.
"My partner" the man called. As he spoke he indicated one of the bodies sprawled on the bridge, a man in the distinctive uniform of the Cygnaran Gun Mages. At the sound of his voice one of the shades stopped it's menacing circuit, and crouched to draw, bony fingers wriggling over the grips of its firearms. The Ranger fell silent, and after a moment the specter resumed its previous motion.
Jardon considered. The Gun Mages were well known for their enchanted pistols. If he could get to that weapon and draw it he could take the first shot against the enemy. He examined the corpse strewn span of bridge. It just wasn't doable. There was no cover, no way to advance that distance while taking gunfire from an alert adversary, much less a pair.
"Boss" Sansa hissed, pointing. He saw what had drawn her attention. On the other side of the little island a mother had picked up her child, and was edging through the throng towards the other bridge. Perhaps she thought that the appearance of soldiers meant that the enemy would lose interest in her. Maybe her nerves had just broken. For whatever reason, their time had run out.
He took a deep breath, and stepped onto the bridge.