And... after some time... we're back in action. Here it is, the final chapter of Red Sky At Night! The seas will run red with blood...
The mood around the planning table was grim. The mayor and chief constable of Juriss were sitting in, along with Steel, Jasmine, Lodaris, Citrios, and Alina. Across from them, Mnalif Nganto laid out what she knew.
â€œThe enemy is moving quickly, but my allies are slowing them down so that they arrive at dusk. That way, Jasmineâ€™s zombies will be able to be fielded in the fray.â€ Jasmine nodded almost imperceptably, and Nganto continued. â€œIâ€™m sorry to say that three of the five Lunars I ultimately got to help us have been killed by Dukantha and his men, and the other two are out of power and in full retreat. However, they have done tremendous damage with hit-and-run strikes, damage they wouldnâ€™t have been able to do here. Fully two hundred ships have been sunk, and five of the eight Lintha Dragon-Blooded are dead.â€ She paused for a moment, and then shook her head. â€œWith that in mind, the enemyâ€™s resources are as follows.â€
â€œFirst, close to eight hundred ships, each bearing anywhere from twenty to a hundred Lintha. All told, we are looking at a total of forty thousand Lintha warriors, many of whom have basic Essence manipulation capabilities.â€ The room fell still at that.
â€œSecond, as many as two hundred sea monsters of various sorts, who have been trained to fight alongside the Lintha.â€ Ngantoâ€™s lip curled.
â€œThird, close to five hundred demons of various sorts, including the blood apes on Dukanthaâ€™s flagship and a number of spies â€“ some of which might be watching this meeting right now, so we canâ€™t count on the advantage of surprise in our tactics.â€ This time, shoulders slumped. Alina glanced around, and found herself wishing that Nganto had found more tact.
â€œFourth, and most importantly, Dukantha himself, and his flagship. He alone is a terrifying opponent, and he will be fully prepared to fight.â€
â€œSounds like fun.â€ Steel leaned back in his chair, turning a sai end over end. â€œSo, lemme see if I can count up what we have.â€ He pushed forwards, letting the chairâ€™s legs fall to the floor. â€œFive hundred townsfolk, five hundred zombies, one Essence cannon, two Dragon-Bloods, and three Celestial Exalts. That about cover it?â€
Nganto grimaced, and then nodded. â€œIndeed it does. The gods cannot help us because the Lintha are servants of the Primordials, and they cannot directly affect such. They will be granting us blessings and healing, but thatâ€™s about it.â€
â€œIt is a moral advantage.â€ Lodaris closed his eyes thoughtfully. â€œThe people will be fighting knowing the gods believe in them.â€
â€œJoy.â€ The sarcasm in Steelâ€™s voice could have cut through stone.
â€œWe also have access to my necromancy and our ghostly companions; creeping shadows can slow or even stop ships, fouling the harbourline temporarily, and ghosts can snap rudders or tangle sails.â€ Jasmine leaned forwards. â€œI do not imagine that I can field more than six such shadows, however, and we can have only twenty ghosts, each of whom will likely be able to affect only five or six ships reasonably. And aside from managing the cannon, that will be the extent of my contributions.â€
â€œThat will be a major factor.â€ Nganto smiled grimly. â€œThe harbour is well-defended, and the Essence Cannon covers the path around the coast to the manse. Dukantha will have to attack it to proceed safely, as it can severely injure his ship. Your ghosts can foul up to a hundred ships, in staggered waves. The Essence cannon can destroy a ship every six seconds or so. Between them, you should have time to destroy a great many ships before they make landfall.â€ She stepped forwards, pointing to places on the map that laid on the table. â€œI suggest we set up defenders around the cannon. The zombies can form the outer ring, while the townsfolk rain arrows on the attackers. As the zombies fall, archers draw swords and move in to defense. Meanwhile, our Exalts will fight in small ways while we wait for Dukantha to enter the fray. I will be dealing with the sea monsters.â€ She looked up. â€œAre there any objections?â€
Citrious started to open his mouth, but paused when Alina lightly touched his hand and shook her head minutely. Luna had told her to do what Nganto wanted, and it seemed like a viable plan. With a faint frown, he nodded, then spoke. â€œWhat if he just charges the manse? If he opens that gateâ€¦â€
â€œHe wonâ€™t. His ship is too important to him, and we would have a very, very good chance of destroying it.â€ Nganto sighed. â€œItâ€™s not the best plan out there, but itâ€™s the best with what we have. I would be lying if I said I expect us to succeedâ€¦ but we have a chance.â€
Lodaris nodded slowly. â€œIt may be our best option. We will have to make sure not to use too much of our own power before Dukantha himself attacks, however, or we will be destroyed for certain.â€ He looked up, and let out a quiet breath. â€œVery well, Mnalif. I pray that this plan of yours succeeds.â€
â€œGo for it.â€ Nganto shrugged, turning and walking from the room. â€œMaybe the Dragons will send help.â€