On the plus side, the next Starbleached book (Working title: Fortitude) is drafted and in its cooldown phase. I'm now working on the next Exiles book. So you finally have something to look forward to!
So our chapter opens with Paks marching to the seige. It becomes real clear that the bad guys know the Company is on its way. Lots of the vets are groaning. We get a nice list of all the cities Paks is marching through before she gets to her destination:
Even from a distance, Rotengre looked more formidable than the other cities, more like an overgrown fort: high, steep walls, massive towers, all out of proportion to the breadth. It was shaped somewhat like a rectangle with the corners bitten off; its long axis ran north and south, with the only two gates on the short ends. Paks decided that the tales must be true— it was a city built for trouble, not for honest trade.They march, their allies join them, and the folks in Rotengre withdraw into their city and slam the gates shut. The seige has begun.
The descriptions can basically be summed up thusly: Paks is so bored she'd rather be digging latrines than standing at front line duty. Because seiges are boring as fuck and everybody hates them. It's also fucking hot. So when Paks gets ordered to hike up north to relieve a garrison, she's like "Cool beans. I'll go" and gets right to marching.
They get to the fort just in time for it to get put under seige.They let things run for about an hour and then start talking surrender. Mostly because they are mercenaries and they don't give a fuck about holding it, they just don't want to die.
Donag nodded at the siege engines rolling down the slope toward the bridge. "We will sooner or later. We can hold it a week, maybe, if we've water enough. But we'd take heavy losses, and they'd break through in the end. Tir's guts, I wasn't looking forward to being a captive again."That last sentence makes me giggle like a little girl.
Donag explains that they'll be counted, tallied, probably given a pretty generous parole, and held onto until the Duke pays ransom. The biggest rule is "Don't fuck the enemy, it's bad manners and beneath our dignity when we're their prisoners. Wait until after we get ransomed." Sounds nice and almost bloodless, right?
...yeah, I have been cringing in anticipation of this next sequence of events.
There's an interesting moment when they are ordered to disarm. Paks does not want to surrender her sword. For a moment she imagines rushing the enemy, then elects to lay her sword down gently, rather than just dropping it. It's kind of pretty, and it defines her character for others, later.
As Paks slipped her dagger from its sheath, she felt a heavy cold weight dragging at her. She was not even tempted to use the dagger. It seemed that nothing could ever be right again. To stand unarmed in the midst of armed troops, defeated without a fight, was the worst thing she could imagine. But with the others she marched back, under guard, to await events.Paks is also reluctant to agree to the terms of parole. One of the enemy captains talks her into it by explaining that, between mercs, it's all just a kind of game, and there's no honor lost in surrendering right now. Then he goes into lecture mode and gives all the newbies a good, long education in why Respecting Each Others' Prisoners Is Important. (basically, so you don't get treated like shit when it's your turn in the shackles. Which they're not using here, because respecting each others' prisoners is important.)
They are eventually allowed to leave the keep and pick berries. Paks does this as often as she can. This makes sure that she, Saben and Canna are outside of the city when the next shoe falls.
End of chapter.