Jaya: … "There are probably more!"
Oseanie: "What is this?" ... "Is this a last resort?" ... "Or does she think she could really reclaim…"
It was a killing blow.
Zaire was untouchable whether here on the island or on the ocean or on land on the coast and Francesca knew that. He had too much support; he was too popular and she was too unpopular. Still, she'd found a way to strike right at his heart.
As the moments of chaos stretched around them, Zaire leaned into the pain he felt as his men fell around him, as their wives shouted for mercy, as their children scattered, letting it drive him forward. His blade cleaved, an axe finding its way into his off hand at some point, but none of it would be enough. Even if they managed to pull back to the fort, the vampires would lay siege and how long would they last with those seductive whispers pulling them closer and closer to the doors and windows?
Oseanie: "Cap'," Oseanie shouted, over the din, with a knife ready in her hand and blood and brains dripping down her wrist. "You can't fight this fight. You need to get clear."
Zaire's dark eyes swept to the longboats waiting on the sand, the dark water and the darker shapes moving within it. Merfolk, ready to help. And beyond the rush of waves bobbed the small fleet of ships anchored a short row in the distance. It was their only chance, being on the water, manning the cannons, relying on their alliance with the merfolk...
"To the water!" Zaire roared, and around him others took up the call. He skewered a vampire, the tip of his spadroon bursting through the creature's back, then brought the short axe up to bury it in the creature's head and was moving on before the body had even collapsed.
Zaire turned to find Davit running toward him, Sidro in his arms, and he felt a flutter of relief that he wouldn't allow himself to indulge yet. "Go, lad!" he said, giving his son a push toward the water. "Get t'th'Song."
Already he could see Jimmy and Einar loading women and children into the longboats, a wall of pirates holding off the vampires even as merfolk launched deadly harpoons from the water. But they'd need those pirates to sail the ships, something that Jahid seemed to realize the same time Zaire did and the accountant began organizing the retreat, peppering the riggers and gunners into those boats, while leaving the vanguard to defend.
It felt like ages before the first boat pushed off the sand, propelled along by the merfolk just under the surface, but seeing them escape was heartening. The Island may be lost but they'd save as many as they could...
It wasn't a killing blow, after all, but a maiming blow, Zaire realized. Blood would clot, injuries would heal, and this animal would come back scarred and deadly and hungry for revenge.