Blood Ties, Chapter 20: Last Stand

Last time on Blood Ties, Dinesh decided to help the party — but only if they win a Tower Defense Game against the Conquerors. Will our protagonists claim victory? Find out after the cut.

Conor stepped back from the battleground, wiping his ax on his tunic as he recovered his breath. The crocodiles in the first two waves had all been killed. Greencloaks and elephant priests stood somberly among the carnage, checking weapons and wounds. Meilin helped bandage a badly bitten priest, with Jhi gently licking at the wound.

Well, this Tower Defense Level has turned to utter chaos. The Conquerors are surging towards the temple, while Tergesh and Zhongese troops (led by Jodoboda and General Teng, respectively) are forming up on the shore of the lake, ready to help our protagonists. And of course Dinesh adds to the confusion by rolling down from the top of his temple and cannonballing into the lake, draining it and smashing up most of the Conqueror boats.

The surviving Conqueror troops form up on the shore and attack the Tergesh and Zhongese. Our protagonists have a choice: help the Zhongese troops, or cover Dinesh while he trashes the battlefield like those war elephants in Return of the King. The party decides to help Dinesh, since Meilin thinks her dad can handle himself.

And then there’s lots of fighting and lots of killing, and I’m just going to make a list because so much stuff happens.

  • Conor and Rollan apparently get over their differences, because they team up for part of the battle. Yes, this is complete with a “We’ve got each other’s backs forever!” line.
  • The Devourer is present at this battle, riding on his saltwater crocodile. And this time he’s sporting some bad-ass red armor and a fanged helmet.
  • Shane shows up again! He and Conor save Abeke from a Conqueror during the fight. And then Shane conveniently vanishes.
  • Dinesh ditches the battle right when the Conquerors start retreating, because he thinks that the playing field is even. Of course, this is a royal Dick Move, because the Conquerors get their second wind…

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Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Hey, why did the Tergesh and Zhongese arrive at the lake? Conor thinks that Xue summoned them. If that’s true, at least she’s doing something useful other than selling pots.

Conor actually suggests helping out the Zhongese troops during the battle, because he knows Meilin wants to be with her dad. This surprises Meilin.

Why doesn’t the party consider backing up the Tergesh? Well, they don’t want to be trampled by a rhino cavalry.

Conor’s first thought when he sees Shane: “Oh, so that’s why Abeke stayed with the Conquerors for as long as she did — because Shane’s cute.”

Spoiler Space!
For those of you who know the epic spoiler from the end of Rise and Fall, you might notice a continuity error in this chapter and the next. If you want to discuss the spoiler in the comments, please ROT13 the spoilerriffic text.

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Next time: Named characters die.

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