Breaching the Camp
The battering rams that Count Cobry's rebel-sweeping corps have constructed overnight were exceedingly crude and simple with only a couple of wooden tripods and a huge trunk that hanging between them. After setting it up by the main gates of the encampment, it would then be able to smash against it repeatedly like a pendulum. The platform on which the tripods stood had four wheels underneath it. Tens of garrison troops were pushing it towards the entrance with several others holding up their crudely-made rectangular wooden shields to prevent the pushing soldiers from being killed by the rain of crossbow bolts.
Naturally, the crossbowmen stationed on the walls of the camp had their attention all focused on the battering ram. Within but a moment, volley after volley of crossbow bolts rained down on the enemy, taking out numerous men and horses as well as causing shrieks and cries to echo throughout the battlefield. However, that allowed the bowmen who were hiding behind the crude wooden shields some opportunities to aim from behind the gaps of the shields towards the crossbowmen, sometimes even knocking them off the walls with several taking an arrow to the face and dying instantly.
The remaining crossbowmen refocused their attention to suppressing the enemy's bowmen. With one side using wooden shields while the other ducking and using the walls as cover, they were currently in stalemate. Now that the bowmen had managed to reduce the distance between themselves and the defensive walls, they posed quite a huge threat to the crossbowmen. Crossbows were slow but they offered much better penetrative power. On the other hand, longbows shot three times as fast as crossbows, but longbowmen had to rest for a period of time after firing 7 to 8 arrows due to the lack of the crossbows' mechanical advantage.
While the crossbowmen on the walls were occupied with suppressing the longbowmen, the soldiers pushing the battering ram gave it their utmost and quickly moved it towards the entrance. Just as they were inches away from their destination, several glass jars were tossed from beyond the walls with some landing on the floor and a couple shattering against the battering ram, releasing a sticky substance all over the ram's body.
One of the soldiers touched the substance and suddenly freaked out and screamed, "It's fuel! Fuel!"
Subsequently, one torch after another landed onto the battering ram, causing the soldiers on the spot to stare with a despairing gaze as the flames erupted and effectively turned the construct into a glorified bonfire. Several tens of soldiers who were in charge of pushing the battering ram into place were engulfed in flames and ran around frantically and aimlessly like countless flies, with some of them who have managed to get out from the fiery mess quickly rolling on the ground at the first opportunity, only managing to have the fire on their bodies extinguished with the help of their comrades. Three soldiers with flames burning all over them jumped desperately into the river; while the flames were extinguished, they still ended up frozen and dead within the dank, watery depths of the ice-cold river. Four others who had been covered by too much fuel instantly turned into human torches, letting out ear-piercing screams in agony until some of their comrades decided to end their misery by giving them a pierce from their lances.
"Oaaghh!" Yet another crossbowman got hit by an arrow on the shoulder. A few pike infantry troops quickly pulled him from the walls. The enemy's commander finally started going all out and sent five squads of bowmen to suppress the crossbowmen. Even though hundreds of bowmen on their side had perished, the remaining 500 or so managed to pressure the crossbowmen on the walls to the point when they couldn't even raise their heads without being taken down by an arrow.
Lorist noticed that only 70 of the 100-odd crossbowmen were still alive and still being pressured by the suppression fire of the enemy bowmen. For every crossbow bolt they managed to unleash, five to six more arrows came in response. After considering his options, Lorist had Reidy bring him a large shield and intended to attract the attention of the bowmen to give his crossbowmen a chance to retaliate.
Taking in a deep breath, Lorist suddenly exited his cover. The sudden appearance of a man standing straight up exposing himself briefly stunned the enemy bowmen. Right after, ten or so arrows were sent flying in Lorist's direction, only to be intercepted by the shield in his hand before hundreds and hundreds of other arrows followed suit......
Sol, thought Lorist as he suddenly ducked behind the cover of the walls. He initially thought that it would be a rather simple affair: given his dynamic vision, he should have been able to deflect or strike down each and every arrow heading his way. But, while ten to a hundred arrows wouldn't pose much of a problem, five hundred arrows was really no joke. He could have easily been turned into a human pincushion. There's simply too much. Had it not been for this shield, I would've been struck long ago. I almost lost my life due to this foolish bet. How did I forget the simple fact that strength in numbers is nothing to laugh at?
Looking at the shield that had over a hundred arrows embedded within it, Lorist could still feel his hand shaking. The combined energy of the arrows passing through the shield to his hand was hard to defend against even when he used his internal energy. He was practically dancing with death on a tightrope just now. The only thing that he could be happy about was the fact that he managed to buy some time for his troops who have just managed to take out another 40-odd enemy bowmen.
The rebel-sweeping corps sent out some infantry troops to throw some mud onto the burning battering ram and quickly pushed it aside when the fire was extinguished to make way for the second and third battering rams that were being pushed over. The second battering ram was slightly modified in that it had wooden barriers on both sides where the soldiers who pushed the battering rams were positioned. There were also a couple of soldiers who were prepared to extinguish any fires with their buckets of water and mud.
Within thirty minutes, the second battering ram was pushed to the front of the entrance, rumbling as it went along. Ten infantry troops ran over and started pulling onto the rope fastened onto the ram and let it go with a unified cry. The humongous log smashed towards the gates of the encampment, causing the walls to shake from the savage vibrations.
As Reidy was passing a fuel jar to Lorist, he was unaware of the impending strike and fell off the walls from the vibration. Had it not been for Patt who grabbed his arm in time, Reidy might have suffered severe trauma from a fall from that height.
Sol, thought Lorist as he hurriedly steadied his feet. The moment he threw the fuel jar just now, a number of bowmen noticed it and shot the fuel jar in mid-air, causing its contents to fly all over the place and covering his face. Not having expected that to happen, Lorist could only stand there stunned and wasn't able to react in time to the incoming fuel.
"Pog, I'll leave this part to you. I have to go wash up for a bit," shouted Lorist. Currently, it was of utmost importance that he removed the fuel from his face and body, otherwise he might just end up as a human candlestick.
Lorist hastily got off the defensive walls with Reidy and Patt and sent the former to bring a basin of hot water with some soap over for him to clean his face up. He also removed his scale armor and grabbed a pile of mud to rub it on the parts that was stained by the fuel. After that, he took a piece of linen cloth and started wiping the fuel off. Patt quickly headed towards the large tent on horseback to retrieve a change of clothes for Lorist.
The sound of the camp gates being hammered at rang out at a steady rhythm. Lorist seemed to be unable to accept the incredulous situation of him practically bathing and changing into a fresh set of clothes in the midst of a siege.
"It's on fire!" cheered Loze from the walls.
Turning his head to look, Lorist could see clouds of soot and smoke rise from outside the walls. However, the sound of the hammering continued incessantly.
Wiping his face dry and getting his new clothes on as well as donning his cleaned up armor, Lorist quickly got back to the walls and saw that the battering ram was indeed aflame, but that didn't stop the infantry who were operating the ram from behind using the rope that was fastened to the hammering log.
"Reidy, get me two fuel jars. Patt, hold a torch ready for me," instructed Lorist.
This time, Lorist aimed for the infantry troops at the back of the battering ram. Hurling both of the fuel jars to the midst of the soldiers and following it up with a torch, a choir of agonized cries rang out in unison as the smell of charred flesh once again wafted through the air.
The hammering sound finally stopped due to the rope of the ram having been burned away. And so, yet another glorified bonfire was created in front of the camp gates.
"Master, I think the gates won't hold up for much longer," said Reidy.
Lorist went down the walls and inspected the double gates only to see that it had been hammered so badly that it was bent inwards for almost half a meter. A man of slight build could probably even fit through the opening of the dented gates. The top one of the three iron bars that held the gate shut was the most malformed, having been bent into a bow-like shape. The rod in the middle had a slight dent while the bottommost rod still looked perfectly fine.
"Let's stop defending the gates. It's not like we need it to secure the camp anyways. To be honest, I doubt that it would be easy for us to even open it ourselves... Just look at that distorted shape! I'm only worried that the enemy will stop attacking and leave us trapped within here," joked Lorist.
It was 'fortunate' that the enemy still wasn't willing to give up after that. They sent yet another group of garrison troops to extinguish the burning battering ram and moved it aside to make way for the third one this time.
The third battering ram was fortified even more meticulously; it seemed almost like a wooden longhouse given its roofing and the wooden barriers that surrounded it by the sides, offering protecting to the soldiers within. A layer of thick, moist mud was also covered all over the wooden surface to help with fire resistance.
This battering ram moved even slowlier than the former two and took almost two hours of pushing before it arrived at the gates, giving Lorist and his men enough time to rest up and have their lunch. Potterfang and Loze even managed to take a short nap during that time.
Worried about the situation with the camp gates, Charade went over to the walls with Els. Seeing its miserable state, Charade asked Lorist with a pale face, "You're just gonna let them push the battering ram all the way here without bothering to stop them at all?"
Lorist felt like laughing out loud on the spot as he thought, Charade, based on your martial prowess at the Three Star Silver rank, you'll be a peak Silver ranked fighter soon and will break through into the Gold rank in the near future. Even though Charade was currently swamped with all sorts of tasks and also had to accompany that pretty little maidservant of his at night, he still managed to find some time to train in his Battle Force. His dedication to his training was really something to be admired.
In terms of ability, even Potterfang himself graciously took a few steps back and let Charade take the position as the chief knight of the Norton Family, thus making him the main supervisor of the northbound convoy. The man himself also did not let anyone's expectations down and managed almost every affair, big or small, within the convoy. Back then, Baron Miranda once personally told Charade that he thought of him really highly and was appalled at his management skills. He even said that a man of Charade's caliber was fit to be a high-ranking official in a kingdom's government. It was worth noting that Charade was injured at that time and had to be carried around by others on a chair all over the place to get things done.
Even so, while Charade spoke quite a bit of sense during the war council meetings, when he was actually on the battlefield, his weaknesses would start to flow out ceaselessly. His hands and feet sweated incessantly and his face would turn utterly pale as he pranced around the battlefield in a state of panic, frightened by every little sound. His battle prowess in that state was not even comparable to a soldier who did not know how to utilize Battle Force!
Lorist felt intrigued that the usual beast-like calm and courage of Charade would instantly vaporize in the heat of battle. It wasn't like he was not accustomed to seeing dead bodies; he had taken quite a few lives himself. Why, then, was he like that on the battlefield?
Charade could only sigh in exasperation. He said that for some reason, seeing so many people die at once and hearing the savage cries of the warriors made him feel nauseous for some reason. Potterfang and Loze, however, didn't feel that it was a weird thing and concluded that it was because of Charade's lack of exposure to large scale skirmishes such as these. One time, they said that if Charade were to use corpses as stools and dip his bread in their blood before biting into it, he would eventually stop feeling so affected by the surrounding atmosphere.
"Ueergh..." Charade quickly ran away to throw up upon hearing that comment.
Poor lil' Charade... He knows that he can't stand being in the frontlines of battle, yet he still comes over to mingle in spite of that...
Lorist patiently responded, "There's no need to do that. When it comes to defense, we must not only focus on one aspect and must look at the bigger picture. We would be able to stop the battering ram from approaching the gates, but it would come with a heavy price. It isn't wise to do so when we have a better alternative. Look at the fortifications they have made to the battering ram. You will soon be able to see how it would actually work in our favor later."
However, that did not transpire as quickly as Lorist had mentioned. With but one strike of the ram, the iron bars that held the gate shut were knocked flying, leaving behind a large hole that revealed the surprised faces of several garrison troops.
Lorist ordered a few of his crossbowmen to shoot volley after volley of projectiles towards that hole, causing screams to echo from outside the gates. Only after a few moments were the enemy able to close that hole up with several shields. There was no activity for the later half hour as the enemy was presumably adjusting the position of the ram before the hammering started all over again.
Lorist's brows started to twitch with impatience when the hammering begun once more.
This time, it only took 20 impacts for the gates to crumble, causing its hinges to go loose.
"The gate has fallen!" The soldiers within the wooden barriers surrounding the battering ram all cried out in joy. At the same moment, Els and Lorist rushed like raging storms towards the wooden barriers that flanked the battering rams. The soldiers who were in charge of pushing the whole siege engine and operating the hammering log were truly in a pinch as they did not have even one weapon on their hands due to having been preoccupied with operating the war machine. More than 60 of the soldiers perished from Lorist's and Els's massacre with only a couple at the back of the ram somehow managing to make a run for it. Corpses were littered all over within the enclosure of the wooden barriers with a large amount of blood leaking out, forming a small, crimson stream...
The main reason why Lorist refused Potterfang's offer to go with him and brought Els instead was due to the fact that Els's dark attribute Battle Force was best suited for tight spaces like the inside of the barriers of the battering ram. The night vision his Battle Force granted him also put him at more advantage in the low light conditions within the barriers, allowing Els to efficiently chase down each and every foe without accidentally harming his allies.
While Lorist and Els were keeping themselves busy within the barrier enclosure, the people in the camp were not slacking off either. Reidy and Patt brought a few thick ropes and fastened one end of each of the ropes to the battering ram and the other ends to several stakes that were hammered flat into the ground, effectively turning that battering ram into yet another obstacle for the enemy. Upon seeing that, Charade finally understood what Lorist had meant previously.
The enemy commander was instantly enraged at seeing that happen. This really is going too far! Why aren't they abiding by the common conventions of warfare? Don't people usually assemble their soldiers in formation while waiting for the enemy to move the battering ram away after the gates have been breached? Why did they use it to bolster their own defenses instead? This is truly beyond reason!>
And so, the enemy's garrison troops started operating the ram again to clear out the remnants of the gates while removing the corpses of their comrades. However, the battering ram was still stuck firm on that spot.
A pike cavalry company could be seen assembling at the battering ram facing towards their own camp and tying their own ropes onto the ram. Before long, a game of tug of war had begun between the two sides.
The struggle lasted for more than 30 minutes before another squad of pike cavalry that acted as the rearguard of the enemy was roped into participating. Coupled with 1000 other horses that they had brought out of their main camp, the rebel-sweeping corps won out in the end. But it did not end well, for Lorist had waited for the ropes to be at its most tense before he cut them loose, causing the battering ram to roll towards the enemy troops unimpeded and down the road, resulting in the deaths of tens of soldiers and horses who were too late to react.
When the enemy stared flabbergasted at the situation that was unraveling before them, Lorist quickly instructed for his men to bring over a wooden cart and secured it vertically at the entrance. When the enemy broke out of their trance and attempted to rush over to stop it, the wooden cart had already been firmly planted to the ground, creating yet another obstacle for them to take down.
"The heck?! They're not done yet?!" Countless curses and complaints sounded from the group of enemy soldiers outside the gates with some even ignoring everything and ramming towards the wooden cart recklessly. The defenders of the cart weren't merciful either. There were three spear tips installed at the front of the wooden cart. The enemy soldiers, thinking that it was affixed to the cart and only served as a deterrent, believed that it wouldn't be able to harm them. As the soldiers rushed towards the wooden cart, the spears suddenly shot forward and impaled the sorry soldiers who had attempted to ram against the cart, causing the others to not act recklessly nor approach the cart.
The few illegitimate sons who were in command of this rebel-sweeping unit were steaming with anger. It had already been almost a day ever since they launched the attack during the early dawn, but their forces still hadn't been able to breach the camp even after sustaining near 600 casualties. Now that the battering ram was gone and the makeshift wooden gate wasn't completely undefended, what would they be able to do?
"Set that wooden cart aflame."
Several garrison troops hurled a few sacks of fuel onto the cart and quickly set it on fire.
Since you're going to start a fire, I will do it too. "Come, guys. We'll be setting up a bonfire here tonight," Lorist said.
When the enemy soldiers reported seeing Lorist's men hurling wood towards the burning cart and using it as a bonfire, Count Cobry's illegitimate sons almost went insane. At that moment, flecks of snow slowly drifted downwards from the sky. The illegitimate son that led the group instantly cried out, "Aha! The weather's turning to our favor today! It's snowing! Let's see how they keep the fire up now!"
Lorist, on the other hand, sighed and said, "It seems that fate intends to reap the lives of the enemy sooner. I had planned to let them live for one more night for us to have enough time to prepare, but it seems that we wouldn't be able to avoid bloodbath tonight."
As the bonfire finally went out, tens of garrison troops rushed towards the camp and moved the pile of wood aside as the sounds of horses galloping gradually got louder outside the camp. When the pike cavalry arrived at the entrance, the garrison troops cheered loudly in unison, "Go in there and kill them all!"