It had been four months since Holly launched her first salvo against Flaysac’s bandits.
Right now, her troops were assaulting a giant, reinforced gate—built into the north-south pass that cut through the mountains—with a thirty-foot battering ram. Steel canopies protruded from its sides, protecting the Indashi from most of the arrows, but some of the missiles were still getting through, spearing the barbarians through their feet or their calves. To complement his archers, Flaysac had deployed miniature catapults loaded with Elderean Fire. Scores of Indashis were dying from flaming splashes of blazing pitch.
The assaulters were making incremental progress. If they had been unable to advance, that would been a reason to try something else, or at least hold off. But as things stood, they were making headway bit by bit, which gave the generals sufficient reason to stick to their strategy. Predictably, Holly had dug her heels in, declaring loudly to her troops that they’d break through any moment now, and to keep pushing.
Like every despot who’d come before, Holly considered herself a true innovator. It would have shocked her to know she was simply the latest in a long line of many—hers was a boring, sad tale that had been told and retold since the dawn of time.
But that’s not how she saw it; she’d bent an entire kingdom to her will, goddammit. Fuck ponies and trips to Disneyland; this was what she’d wanted all along—a fantasy-world version of World War I.
(When she got back to Earth, she was definitely running for office.)
Yinhalka’s voice interrupted her thoughts: “We’ll need twelve more battalions to continue the assault. The ones we have will last three more months, give or take a week or two.”
“I’ve spoken with logistics,” Holly replied, shifting astride the back of her raptor. “Troops are on the way.”
“Excellent, my lord. We’ll break these bandits like the cock-weasels they are.”
Holly laughed. “Damn straight.”
A half-mile ahead, the Indashis on the ram roared out a count—one, two, THREE—and drove hard with their legs, slamming the gate with several tons of steel-banded wood. Bandits responded with arrows and catapults, eliciting fresh screams from the beleaguered Indashis. On the other side of existence, Peter and his friends were attempting to break through a different kind of portal.
Different in form, but similar in nature.