“Shit,” Christos muttered, lowering the spyglass.
“Problem, Captain?” the first mate asked.
“Nothing I wasn’t ready for,” he collapsed the instrument and secured it in his belt pouch. “I’m going ashore with the next load. Keep enough on the ship that you can come get us later, but I want the soldiers mixed in with the lumber. They’re going to be earning their pay.”
Ten minutes later, he stood at the bow of the rowboat as it approached the sandy strip of land. Manak waited on the beach. Not bothering with waiting for the boat to be beached, he leapt out and waded toward the Goliath. “What’s going on?”
“Skeletons are popping up if we move off the path. Damn things are triggered by noise, vibrations, just about anything. Nessa turned a bunch to dust, but we’re going to be doing a lot of fighting to get to the ruins. Somebody’s going to get hurt eventually.”
Christos shook his head. “No, they won’t. Where’s Tiko and the women?” The large man pointed to a small knot of people and they walked over to them.
“Come to join the fun?” Nessa asked as they approached.
“How often can you blast them without running out of magic?”
She shrugged, “It’s not that I run out. It’s more that I gotta catch my breath. What do you have in mind?”
He pointed up the rocky hillside at the ruined building. “If there’s anyone there, they know we’re coming. There’s no reason to hide ourselves. We’ve got the troops, the wood. Tiko,” he looked at the monk, “how hard would it be for you to trigger these traps and get them to come to us? I’m talking controlled amounts, not the entire beach.”
“That’s easy,” Tiko replied.
“Okay, we keep the wall here for now. Tiko, you do a run, bring them to the opening in the center. Nessa, you blast them. We let her catch her breath, then you do another run when she’s ready. While she recovers, the soldiers will dig a new trench, move the barricade.”
“What if she doesn’t get them? I want to have some fun, too,” Manak asked.
“The opening in the center’s barely wide enough for one of us to get through. If they resist her spell, they’ll bottleneck themselves there. You can have a field day chopping them apart.” Christos looked at Nessa and Sirena. “Sirena, stay with her. Make sure she gets any food or water she needs between waves. Once you cast, step back and let Manak and Tiko take care of stragglers.”
Nessa nodded, “This is going to take hours. You know that, right?”
Christos smiled. “Doesn’t matter. If anyone’s up there, they’ll watch it all unfold. Either they’re going to surrender when we get on their doorstep, or they’ll run.”