You must go down.
I broke into a run. Nogilian followed.
“Cassan Vala,” he said as we reached our machines. “You have decided something.”
I shook my head. “Boom, Nogilian,” I said. “Boom.”
I could hear him thinking as we mounted. I did not wait for his reply. We started together toward the men. I pressed my valkyrie as fast as it would go. We tore through the pass and swooped down into the caldera and the fault, the fields of our machines swishing a skim of snow aside.
“Our Guardian,” was all Nogilian said as we slowed, in a tone which meant he understood. The ranks of my army parted to let us pass. It occurred to me that the streamers of golden light stood exactly in the center of the caldera. A natural amphitheatre. There I stopped.
Twenty five thousand men and women awaited my command. I drew up in their midst, beside the golden waves of lights. I wept for what I was about to say. I dismounted. I didn’t wipe my face. I paused a moment, to breathe and to sure I had absolutely everyone’s attention. Nogilian stood at my right hand. Silently, Ash drew up upon my left.
“My dead,” I shouted, and heard the Swarm augment my voice. “My army of the dead! I’m about to make you dead in truth. On the other side of that pass waits the jewel city Kasora. It is besieged by Jerem Cozak, our ally, who would give his life to free this world. Right now, he’s breaking the main gate. And then he’s going to die. He and all his men will die unless we do something.
The romances indicate that I should give you a choice. But we’re here because we know that the ones that matter don’t feel like choices at all! Below, fifty thousand men are about to charge a fortress manned by well more than that many Augers. There’s only one outcome to that equation – unless we add ourselves. It’s a fair exchange. More than fair. We can hand that city to him on a platter! I tell you there won’t be one damned building left intact.