Callow's army is back up to forty thousand soldiers. Well, uh, I say 'back' up to forty thousand, but unless I'm really remembering something, it never had that many, and last I'd heard it was on the verge of collapse from being reduced below ten thousand. I know that Cat's been gone for way too long--she herself used the word months--but holy shit, are the Callowan robot factories working overtime or something? How did they go from utterly wrecked to what seems to be an army three times larger than they had before in at most half a year? Is there anyone left to work in the fields anymore, because last I heard mass-starvation was imminent. Anyway, logistical confusion aside, as mentioned last chapter, Nauk is holed up with a quarter of that army and about to be wiped out because splitting one's army into much smaller pieces while a minimum of three hostile forces were on the move might not have been the best idea. Due to the specific situation--gates unreliable and/or likely to give away her position*, travel times lining up so that they'd have to arrive mid-day if they wanted to at all--things have conspired so that the drow will arrive to fight the army attacking Nauk's group during the day. I'm more or less fine with that specific array of coincidences, in the vein of making one's weaknesses matter. What I do have to wonder, however, is why Cat's aware of all those things and still going through with the attack? Like, tactically and strategically, it really doesn't seem like there's any reason to do this; if she's being driven solely by her friendship with Nauk or her loyalty to her soldiers, then biting the bullet to gate over to them is one thing, but she's apparently risking six thousand drow in a situation she knows heavily disadvantages them to save ten thousand normal soldiers, as if normal soldiers matter? By nightfall, Cat can wipe out any army she pleases, by all accounts, so it would seem to be in her best interests to wait until nightfall whenever possible and the minor advantage to be gained by having Nauk around doesn't really change that. Again, Cat mentions that she doesn't want to give away her position to the Saint or the Pilgrim--which makes no sense to me, since Cat's experiences with both of them amounts to making fools of them repeatedly--but really, she has three choices here. Draw that attention at night when she would have the equivalent of several dozen to several hundred powerful Named and two goddesses behind her, fight a force of twenty to forty thousand trained soldiers with the equivalent of six thousand unwashed savages, or write the whole thing off. In no real way does the second of those options make sense here. Again, if she wants to save Nauk and her soldiers, that's fine and makes perfect sense, but the way she's going about doing it seems to make the absolute minimum amount of sense here? Or are we still pretending the drow aren't an army of demigods here? *Though why Cat treats this like it would matter now after making an utter mockery of the Saint and Pilgrim twice before, I have no idea. Once again, the story wants me to just accept the dire threat that the heroes pose, but it remains hard to do so because every time they do so, they're getting the shit beaten out of them. Also, on the gate thing--just a few chapters ago, Cat used her gates on a bunch of scouts without issue, so the reluctance now seems a bit forced.