Holly had spent three years in Kor’Thank’s body, while only a few months had passed on Earth. She barely remembered what life had been like before she’d laid siege to Flaysac’s forces.
Unfortunately, Flaysac had enlisted his free-thinking peers: a handful of outlaw bandit-kings. They’d come together to defend the peaks, which they needed to maintain their freedom of movement, and consequently, their freedom of trade.
According to Holly’s royal advisors, Kor’Thank had left the bandits alone. Aside from the occasional rabble-rouser, the outlaws were—by and large—a collection of well-intentioned misfits. Kor’Thank, apparently, had secretly admired them. Not openly, but through begrudging comments here and there.
Which was batshit crazy, as far as Holly was concerned. Condoning independent operators in your back fucking yard? Unacceptable. You couldn’t trust people to police themselves. No—you had to make them fall in line. With force, if need be.
(And if she was being honest, it was way more fun when you did it with force.)
But her brutish approach wasn’t working, which really, really pissed her off. It had worked in preschool, when she’d stolen toys and milk from her fellow students. It had worked in middle school, when she’d driven her enemies to alcohol and Ritalin (one of them got pregnant at the tender age of twelve—a rousing success in her vengeance-twisted mind). It had worked as a cheerleader, when she’d claimed her place as Head Bitch In Charge by dropping Lizzy on her stupid fucking head.
Being a horrible cunt had always, always worked.
Until now, that is.
Yinhalka rode up on her raptor, coated in fresh streaks of blood and mud. Her disheveled appearance was due to the fact that three hours prior, a small force of Flaysac’s troops had snuck past some lazy guards. Yinhalka had spotted them during their approach and killed them all. Typically, she would have imprisoned or executed the complacent sentries, but the fighting was costly; they needed every arm that could swing a sword. As a substitute punishment, she’d sent them up to the front line.
Holly turned to her general. “What’s up? Any news?”
Yinhalka’s excitement was unmistakable. “We’ve taken twelve of their outposts. They’re no longer fighting as a unified force; they’re divided into scattered pockets.”
“What about reinforcements? Can they shore up their—”
Yinhalka shook her head. “We’ve established a perimeter of heavy blocking elements—loaded the terrain with skirmishers and cavalry. We have archers on the high ground; they can easily pick off any of their raiders.”
“No reinforcements…so we’ve cut their logistics.”
“Correct.” Yinhalka grinned—the smile of a handyman who’d worked long and hard on a stubborn project, and was seeing the end come into sight. “Two of our battalions have just arrived.”
“Have you ordered them to—”
“They’re joining the assault within the hour.”
Holly’s lip trembled with joy. At last. At long last.
“Holly?” Yinhalka’s tone became tentative.
“Nothing, it’s just…” Her voice cracked. She took a moment to gain her composure. “It’s been so long, and I’ve worked so hard to…to…never mind. Keep me posted.”
Yinhalka bowed, fist on her heart.
“As you wish, Holly.”