At the end of three hundred paces precisely, the band of gold energy silently dispersed.
“Three million,” said Jerem Cozak. “Three million died this way before the high cities of Redmarak fell. I wonder that any fanaticism could have been enough.”
I shook my head.
“Now,” said Jerem Cozak, “comes the real retribution.”
I looked to the walls of Kasora again, and saw a line of hundreds of golden orbs arching up away from the city, falling with all the terrifying familiarity of stones hurled by children. But these were not mundane, and they fell near groups of our disks with uncanny accuracy. The artillery orbs burst, earth exploded upward, and another disk and its operators died in front of me in ways the war had more acquainted me with.
“The siege of Kasora has been fought many times,” said Jerem Cozak, “and more often analyzed. Assailants disable the towers with artillery so that they can bring infantry to the gate when it falls. Defenders use the Towers of Light to pin artillery in place so their own artillery can counter it. If the assailing artillery fails to remove the towers, the city stands. If the assailant retains artillery after the last tower falls, the city may be taken, so long as the defense is significantly outnumbered.”
I looked sideways at him as another barrage began, this one from operators who had not fired the first time. “In every other battle,” I said, “you have changed the field of combat. You have taken us by unexpected ways, or brought walls down by powers you did not explain. You taught the Swarm to heal wounds that would have killed us, and to make it so that we could not be seen. There is nothing like that here?”
He smiled. “The game is set. All the pieces are in motion. I have told you what I will give, and we are locked inside this valley. What more is there to do?”