One dimension away, Holly was astride her mount, peering intently through her spynocs (the Indashi equivalent of binoculars, fashioned from exosaur leather and a pair of hand-crafted lenses) at Flaysac’s bandits, who were stationed throughout various outposts that dotted the Ankaran Mountain Range,
In the time it had taken for Peter and his friends to break into ANOS, Holly had spent a year on Elithia preparing to fight her way through the mountains; she planned to bridge this world with Earth, then lead her Death Riders—a cadre of her fiercest and most bloodthirsty warriors—into the portal. First on her list was Peter Lee; she’d pike him through the asshole, then get to a the other fuck-knockers who’d pissed her off when she’d had to pretend she was a good little cheerleader.
But after that…she wasn’t sure.
She lowered her spynocs down to her chest. Her brow furrowed as she thought it over. Which would be better: go back to being a teen-queen cheerleader, or remain as she was—a badass king in charge of a bloodthirsty horde?
She shook her head. Not now—there’d be time to think about it after the assault.
“Yes, milord?” Yinhalka coaxed her mount forward, sidling up beside Holly.
“What’s the status on our cannoneers and catapulters?”
“Everything is in place, milord.”
Holly was touched. Yinhalka’s favorable report was par for the course, but still—having a trusted lieutenant was one of the greatest luxuries you could ever wish for. Holly had learned (the hard way) that good help was one of the rarest commodities in all of existence.
“You impress me Yinhalka. You’ve been…you’ve done good.”
“Thank you, my liege,” Yinhalka replied.
“Uh…do me a favor,” Holly said, continuing to look straight ahead.
“Call me Holly. Not in front of the others, but when it’s just us. I would…I would really appreciate it.”
“Of course, mi—Holly.”
Holly cleared her throat. “Are we ready to launch the initial salvo?”
“Then let’s fuckstart Flaysac in his goddamn face.”
Yinhalka turned her mount slightly to the right and shouted: “BLAST-LEADERS! READY YOUR ORDNANCE!”
Calls of “Blast prep!” echoed throughout the lines. Freshly lit catapults cut a bright line of dots across the twilight-darkened base of the expansive mountain range.
Yinhalka chopped her arm down. “LOOSE!”
Catapults rocked forward, sounding out a series of rickety creaks. Seconds later, the cannons’ fuses reached the end of their burn, and the roar of black-powder shot shook the air. A wave of destruction streaked toward the mountains, marking the night with a fiery span of smoking contrails. Ponderous missiles crashed into the slopes, and dust and debris leapt up from the impacts. All across the mountains, the tiny outlines of bandits scurried back and forth, trying to extinguish brushfires with buckets of water.
The blast-team leaders took charge of their siege engines, screaming at their teams to move faster, dammit—faster! Fresh boulders were loaded onto spoons, and fresh shot was rolled into barrels. Once they were set, each blast-team lifted a skull-emblazoned flag high into the sky. There was a momentary pause as Holly’s captains counted flags. When all five blast companies had declared themselves ready, Yinhalka raised her hand once again.
“LOOSE!” She sliced it down in a violent chop.
Iron and stone smashed against the mountainside. Up on the slopes, bandits stopped what they were doing and scurried behind cover.
Yinhalka turned to Holly. “How many volleys would you like to—”
“Fire everything. I’ve already spoken with our logistics chieftains. The supply trains are on their way, so we’ll have no shortage of shot, boulders, and pitch.”
Yinhalka nodded and spread her arms in a wide V—the signal to keep firing. Her captains waved their flags in a fan-like motion, sending back their acknowledgment.
Holly smiled. She hadn’t killed Krul’Dar and Wodec, but fuck those two; they were small potatoes compared to Flaysac.
And Flaysac was small potatoes compared to Peter.
Soon. Her smile widened.
I’ll see you soon, Peter Lee.