Book update: It's coming. I'm still not comfortable announcing a date yet, but it's nearly there. Like a matter of a couple of days.
Sorry about not blogging as much lately. I'm dealing with some nasty personal shit, and it's been either write and edit, or blog. And I haven't wanted to blog much.
The next day they go back to the camp where they rescued Cal and find their own people. Dead and/or mutilated, though in the case of "or" death isn't too far off. This isn't modern times, and there's not much you can do for multiple amputations (AKA torture) and a belly wound when the best thing you can give somebody is something called "numbwine". They bury all the dead, make promises to kill the sons of bitches who did this, and move on.
Paks has decided she is looking very much forward to when they kill the Honeycat. Which ought to be rather soon.
They chase the guy around his country for a while, discovering yet more atrocities in the process. There's a couple of pretty haunting passages that are beautifully done, including one where Paks discovers a dead body and stands there for a minute before she gets someone to help her bury it. It's very, very briefly described, and most of the description is of paks's reaction, not the body, but the context is all you need. A seasoned veteran who has seen as much as Paks, including the mutilated bodies of her own friends, has to pause over the body of a stranger because someone else's cruelty has just exhausted her.
One of the corporals gets knocked out of combat, and Paks gets tapped to take over. She's very uncomfortable in this position, but she does her best for a few battles. The corporal who got wounded asks her how she likes command. She makes it very clear she considers it all temporary and the other two just laugh at her. If she was doing a shitty job she'd have been replaced, and if she's doing a good job that probably means she's going to get an official command slot of her very own, very soon. They then tell her stories about how they went through their first command slot and navigated the teasing and hurt feelings from those passed over for promotion. One story involves a prank one of the corporals pulled involving a magic sword that glows in the face of evil--and how he burned his hand on it because you don't fuck with magic swords. This is the same sword that got hauled out when Paks was dealing with the magic spider necklace many, many chapters ago.
Next chapter, they finally, FINALLY get the Honeycat pinned into a "city". I say that in quotation marks because it's really just a ruin that's so bad, nobody can tell what it is. But there's a flagpole in the middle of it with the Honeycat's flag, so they're calling it a city. That is mostly deserted, with very few troops inside. Nobody is happy about this. That's the kind of set up that screams "trap".
They mount an assault and, eventually, breech the wall. Not too hard, given that there's nobody guarding it. The Duke somehow winds up with Paks's company, which means we're probably going to see how things resolve instead of just getting the usual summery in the wounded tent.
Paks spots the ambush before anybody else, and there's a nice general brawl where all the bad guys try to get the duke and all the Duke's men try to get between them and the bad guys. One of them is carrying poisoned blades, something Paks only discovers when she clashes with the moron and he cuts himself on his own dagger. His dying words are to call her a bitch.
The Duke makes sure that nobody else got cut by the poisoned blades, compliments Paks on her sharp eyes--not too hard, the guy's colors are yellow and black, and you kind of see that from a few miles off--and they move on. Eventually the Honeycat flees the city entirely and they have to start marching again to follow.
On the road, Paks begins to feel Canna's medallion weighing her down. She feels so tired, she starts looking in random directions just to distract herself...and she sees another ambush before it has a chance to spring. The Duke's company can't fight their way out, so they square up, shields out, and the enemy basically gets to stand there and look as their enemy turns into a gigantic turtle. Sucks to be them.
And then it starts raining, so sucks to be everybody.
The Duke makes the exciting choice to--sit in the rain and wait for their re-enforcements to come. Which is the smart move, as they've sounded the alarm and they know their buddies are nearby, and the enemy isn't doing diddly-squat to fight them. Somebody finally shows up in the case of literal cavalry arriving, and the Duke uses the moment to bash through the enemy line and then make hash out of everything he sees in yellow. Again, they retreat into the woods.
At this point they begin wondering just how many men the Honeycat has left. It can't be too many, but they could have sworn he had too few men to spring an ambush like that.
The corporal Paks replaced is fine and dandy now, so she greatfully gives up command and resumes her place as a file leader. End of chapter.