Chapter 440: Tenacious Treia
「Lord Hardlett. Are you listening?」
Leopolt’s voice enters my head like he’s right up against my ear.
Hearing a monotonous voice like his so suddenly makes me flinch.
「Yeah, I’m listening. I’m just pondering how we should attack.」
In actuality, I was reminiscing about the intense sex with Pamela last night.
She went back in a carriage, unable to stand since we did it until morning, though I’m worried that her husband would discover her infidelity from her hole not closing up properly.
「Haa…… Aegir-sama. I’ll fix your armor.」
Celia sighs and adjusts my armor……she pretends to do so and inconspicuously hides the bulge in my pants.
「Leopolt, why are you staring blankly? The attack is beginning.」
Not caring that Leopolt’s already narrow eyes narrowed even further, I gallantly set my own eyes in front at Trisnia.
Trisnia isn’t an established fortress city like Arkland, its walls’ thickness and height being average. The place is not difficult to siege.
「The enemy has positioned many ballistae and a few cannons on top of the walls. It appears they are using the city as a stable high ground rather than an impenetrable defense.」
Okay, he’s going to ignore my erection.
「They have a moat outside the walls. From what I saw, the gate wasn’t opened, so it’s likely an underground tunnel connects the city to the outside.」
Tristan chimes in.
「Wouldn’t that render the walls meaningless?」
Celia’s right, digging through the ground is an attacker’s strategy.
I’ve never heard of the defending side doing it.
「Even if it is an underground passage, if it’s probably only wide enough for a single person to fit, we can’t reasonably aim our attack there. Well, it takes courage to deliberately create a way to bypass the walls…… that’s why we should assume the inside is also highly-guarded. With that in mind, the walls play an important role. After all, we don’t know what’s inside until we check, whereas our camp is completely visible to the enemy.」
Just when Tristan was satisfied with what he said, a trumpet signalling the start of the attack sounded from headquarters.
A few seconds later, a large fully set-up catapult launches a boulder in an arc.
It easily flies over the walls and drops in the city, although the damage dealt to the enemy is unknown.
「Alright, advance! Get to the walls!」
Our ally infantry took that as their cue to slowly march forward with their shields.
Unfortunately, all of us except the cannon squad are on standby.
「Now the enemy should also……there.」
The enemy’s retaliation came in the form of rocks, iron balls, and flaming shrapnel seconds later from somewhere inside the city.
Those projectiles were at least the size of human heads.
Catapults are not tools requiring precise aim, so having their loads fall on your head would mean you were really unlucky……
「If you get hit, you get hit. It’s the fault of your own actions.」
Giant metal orbs crush a soldier under his shield and blow the head off a shouting commander.
「In that case, Aegir-sama is also in danger. I will protect you.」
Celia stands in front of me to guard against incoming fire.
Well, I doubt anything will reach us.
Even if it did reach, Celia’s way too short to block anything. I’ll pat her head because she’s so cute.
「Waah! We’re in the middle of battle! Please don’t do that!」
「Hahaha, the fight has yet to begin. You don’t have to put on such a bold front from the get-go. Besides, if we’re this far away, I can even take on a dragon……」
Irijina’s sneeze ruined the cool line I was about to say.
「Wahaha, sorry!! Some dust got in my nose!!」
Irijina is overly accustomed to the battlefield and seems too relaxed.
「……man, you made me forget what I was about to say. The point is that it’s not going to reach us.」
All of a sudden, when I was about to tilt my head and remember what I was thinking about, a large shell veers off and falls slightly in front of us.
A rock happens to be sticking out at the landing spot, which sends the sphere sideways, bouncing twice before directly hitting a staff officer observing the state of battle beside us.
「Woah. He exploded.」
Brutal. It’s horrible enough that we don’t have to confirm whether he’s alive or not.
「Please step back.」
Leopolt and Tristan say as they also retreat.
Celia becomes more energized to complete her duty, but since I don’t want to put the cute girl in danger, I have Yakov stand in front of her.
「By the way, Yakov, you’re wearing an awful lot under your armor today. Isn’t it too thick?」
Normally, Yakov and I only wear a sleeveless shirt and underwear. For some reason, he decides to layer more. It’s summer right now, so wearing more will only whittle away at your stamina.
「Well, because of that one kick in the ass you gave me, it doesn’t close tight enough and occasionally leaks out when I tense up…… It might spill out if I’m just wearing underwear. Having an accident in battle wouldn’t be very cool.」
That’s the reason?
「Sorry about that. I should have held back a little.」
「You reap what you sow!」
Celia repeatedly kicks Yakov’s thigh.
「Hieeh! The chief finally……」
「He’s already unfaithful as it is, now he’s going after the same sex, what a sex beast……no, a sex demon……」
Luna is squealing and at a loss for words for some reason. Myla is also shuddering.
Is it nervousness before battle? Well, it’s better to be somewhat tense than too lax.
「Let’s stop the chatter here.」
I compose myself and turn back to the battle.
Our allies are heading toward the walls while the catapults fire back and forth.
「It’s about time…… there it is.」
Almost simultaneously to Leopolt’s prediction, there was a low-pitched hum which resulted in the frontlines of our allies being blown away.
That must be the enemy ballistae.
Although catapults have range and a more explosive impact, their haphazard accuracy is less of a threat than the ballistae. Not to mention their powerful shots can not be blocked by the shields held by the infantry.
「Our own catapults can’t conveniently hit them back either.」
Even though we actually destroyed many ballistae earlier, the enemy has enough to fill the confines of the walls, so it didn’t actually seem like our attack reduced their numbers at all.
「And our ballistae are outmatched…… the difference in height gives them the advantage.」
Shooting down is more preferred than shooting up as it gives more power and range.
If we continue this shootout, we’ll waste our precious siege weapons.
「That’s why we brought those.」
I nod when Leopolt glances at me.
Then, there was a thunderous boom.
A cannon’s roar echoes across the battlefield.
Its intense force is tremendous even compared to ballistae and catapults.
Soldiers who don’t know what a cannon is would flee in terror.
The first cannons fired were the Royal army’s cannons.
I know Erich cautioned his subordinates to carry these things carefully because they are as fragile as glass.
I believe they had about 20 cannons.
In an instant, cannonballs crashed into Trisnia’s walls.
Half of the shots completely missed their mark. Only seven landed on the walls and among those, only three hit the top of the walls.
The normal accuracy of cannons is as poor as that of a catapult, but instead of a parabola, the trajectory of a cannon is a straight line, making it easier to hit.
「Fumu…… passable, I guess.」
Celia adorably puts her hand on her chin.
The enemy ballistae break, and enemy soldiers fall off the wall or turn into red paint on the wall.
「It’s the enemy’s turn next.」
Without delay, the enemy cannons fire back.
They have 30 cannons, which is more than the Royal army, and the same aim.
It didn’t take long for three ally cannons to be blown away, and even if the cannon itself wasn’t damaged, the exploding fragments of metal and earth wounded the soldiers in the area. Erich’s tearful face comes to my mind.
「In the end, we don’t have the height advantage in cannon warfare.」
「Nevertheless, they still have to target a particular point since they’re shooting downward. To that degree, they are still loose with their aim. We can aim in a straight line at the wall, so in a sense, we might have the upper hand in terms of accuracy. As for power…… well, you know.」
A cannonball takes out an ally cannon right as Tristan finishes his sentence.
The flimsy metal sheet propped up in front of the cannon as a makeshift defense was torn apart like paper, allowing the cannonball to crush the cannoneer behind it, as well as some noble further back.
That was truly a bullseye.
「That was a nice shot. A flashy one too.」
「Please don’t praise the enemy’s attack……ah, now it’s our turn!」
Having finished reloading, the Royal army cannons fired again.
The vibrations travel down to my stomach…… somehow, it seems weaker than before.
「That’s lame. What happened?」
「Out of the initial 20 cannons, only four should have been destroyed, however, only 12 cannons were fired. That’s four short.」
Upon careful inspection of the cannons that did not fire, I see the cannoneers panicking.
「There is a crack in the barrel―― I can’t shoot it like this!」
「The gunpowder residue has dried up! I’ll need some time to clean――」
Although cannons are powerful weapons, they’re so weak that they break after every shot.
In surface warfare, if the battle drags on, the firepower of cannons decreases even if the ship is not being bombarded.
「Still, three quarters is pretty bad……woah, the enemy is firing again.」
I push Celia’s head down and keep her body closer to the ground.
Yes, we may be outside the range, but things could still go wrong.
When Celia insists on staying in front of me, I scratch the underside of her chin to get her to obey me.
The enemy cannonfire assaults our allies――
「There are fewer of them on their side too.」
「Umu. I didn’t have time to observe from the water, but it’s clear when facing them like this.」
The enemy’s cannons have been reduced by a greater number than what we destroyed.
There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the fragility of the Royal army cannons and the South Yuguria cannons.
I nod when Leopolt calls my name.
「It’s merely a stopgap since I’m not as rich as the kingdom, please forgive me.」
I peek behind me and a messenger from headquarters turns back after confirming I moved the cannoneers. An order to move would have been given right away if we dawdled any longer, I’m sure.
At the same time, my personal army comes from behind the Royal army waving my flag…… among them, the cannon unit steps forth.
A cloth covers the heavy-looking wagon to prevent dust from falling on it so the enemy can’t see exactly what is coming, however, they should be certain it is some kind of siege weapon in a situation like this. I can tell their cannons and ballistae are desperately trying to change their aim.
「Someone else is coming! That flag…… it’s the demon army!」
「Now then, do they have battering rams or catapults……no, they might have cannons! Look alive, you guys!」
「Stay strong, we’re up against a demon. Some of our friends might get their arms and legs chopped off or some women may be impaled from their crotches all the way to their throats. If you look away, you’ll be playing into his hands!!」
I won’t do something so ruthless to a woman.
The most I’ll do is skewer them with my thick rod.
Our cannoneers remove the cloths covering the wagons in unison.
Revealed from underneath were almost all the cannons I brought with me, 50 of them.
「They have more! Are they the main army!?」
The enemy gasps.
「Why does a single feudal lord possess more power than the Royal army…… isn’t this strange……?」
One of our allies is confused.
Without glancing at them, Leopolt issues his command monotonously.
「Back line, fire! Next, the middle row……fire! Front row…… fire!!」
The cannons, arranged into multiple rows, fired in succession starting from the back, each volley separated by an interval of a few seconds.
Leopolt thought of doing it this way, I’m not sure why.
Ooh, there goes Celia, stepping forward cutely with her chest puffed out.
「The delay is for――」
「Well, if they fired one collective volley, their aim would be concentrated on a single target, and other areas might be neglected. If they fire row-by-row, deviations can be adjusted for. Plus, splitting them up will mitigate smoke―― ow! Why did you kick me……」
Tristan explained the reasoning before Celia could.
Celia pouts and silently knees Tristan in the ass.
Meanwhile, a scene of carnage unfolds alongside their trivial dispute.
Enemy cannons, ballistae and soldiers get blown away with pieces of the walls.
Those cannons which fired just now are not too different from the Royal army cannons in terms of size.
No matter how many of them are gathered, a decent stone wall is…… not easy to obliterate.
「Eei, don’t falter, shoot back!!」
Despite having inferior numbers, the enemy’s morale remains steady.
One of my cannons takes a direct hit and the bent barrel twirls in the air before sticking into the ground.
Celia furrows her brow.
She must sympathize with Erich.
After all, it takes time, effort, and money to make the cannons.
To be specific, the cannon which got destroyed just now is worth half the price of one of Nonna’s necklaces.
「Which one is really the waste here……」
I pretend not to hear Tristan sigh.
The cannon warfare continued afterward, though the walls never really crumbled.
「Something is weird.」
I put my hand on my chin and looked toward Leopolt.
A wall, even one built completely out of stone, should have started to fall apart by now.
Celia copies me and pressures Tristan.
Tristan is unwilling, but when Celia lifts her leg slowly, he sighs and relents.
「I can’t confirm so I’m restricted to my imagination.」
「I don’t mind, speak.」
Leopolt says. We can’t afford to scout the enemy further at this time.
We have to rely on speculation.
「There is a high possibility that the inside of the walls are reinforced. Specifically, they must have attached iron plates or piled up sandbags to prevent the wall from toppling.」
Fumu, South Yuguria also has cannons so they will naturally assume we will use them.
It isn’t odd for them to prepare accordingly.
Leopolt attempts to add something without cutting his words short.
「That doesn’t explain everything. From the beginning, Trisnia’s walls aren’t even that great. If they had time and manpower to strengthen the walls, it would be more effective to set up additional small forts and camps in front of the walls. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have simply dug a moat around the perimeter―― eh? What?」
It felt like Leopolt glared briefly at Tristan, but he quickly turned back to the frontlines.
「Whatever…… let’s see, the way the surface is breaking is also strange. No matter how much the back is reinforced, it shouldn’t protect the front from damage. Yet the walls look unblemished from here.」
「True…… the areas we hit with cannons are slightly scratched, however, none of the rocks appear to be split apart.」
I refrain from squeezing Celia’s cheeks despite how cute she is when squinting.
「In other words, the stones are not normal. Either it is some kind of special material that is particularly durable or they have iron plates inside.」
I’m not convinced from Tristan’s conclusion.
「That’s impossible. A few months prior, that wall was a regular stone wall. Replacing the materials or inserting metal inside is equivalent to rebuilding the walls. They shouldn’t have the time or manpower.」
「It certainly doesn’t sound realistic. That wall is clearly not purely stone, however, we don’t have enough information to ascertain the truth.」
This time Leopolt interrupts Tristan.
Tristan sips tea with a bored expression, which Celia grins at, at a closer distance than necessary.
「I don’t get it. But, it’s not like we have to uncover absolutely everything. We’re not detectives.」
I shake my head once.
When in doubt, use raw power to breakthrough.
「Bring out the trump card.」
A new type of cannon is rolled forward on my orders.
There are 25 of them in total.
「W-what are those……」
「Huge…… are they also…… cannons?」
「How many does he have? How much money did Lord Hardlett spend on military?」
Commotion spreads among our allies.
These cannons which were created with the help from the dwarves are much heavier and larger than normal cannons.
Because of that, it takes more effort to transport and they also inevitably fall behind the rest of the army.
「Their power is on a different level.」
The especially loud roar of this cannon pierces through the chorus of booms.
Several times more smoke than regular cannons shroud the barrel after sending the cannonball flying into the suspicious wall―― for once, a larger chunk of the wall shatters.
The stone directly hit by the projectile splits and the fragments crumble to the ground.
It also caused some of the soldiers on top of the wall to lose their footing and fall off.
We don’t smile.
Rather, our brows furrow.
「That doesn’t work either?」
I’ve seen the large cannons being tested and they easily destroyed walls double the thickness of Trisnia’s walls in one hit, even shooting through a wall with iron implanted inside.
Leopolt didn’t say anything when I looked at him.
Tristan also closed his eyes and shrugged.
I can take that as both of them not knowing what went wrong.
Fine, I’ll have to be stubborn then.
A large cannon was pulled along in a four-horse wagon.
This is a cannon made from an unknown metal known only by the dwarves, which we named “dwarven cannon”, and have a total of 16 altogether.
It is currently the weapon with the most power in my possession.
The earlier large cannons were built by craftsmen in Lintbloom with some advice by the dwarves, whereas these cannons are the creations of solely the dwarves, and honestly have many mechanisms I know nothing about.
The cannoneers also aren’t completely sure how they work and are merely following instructions on how to load and aim the cannons.
「Hey now, is stuffing so much gunpowder a good idea? That’s ten times more than what we put in……」
「Get back. The whole cannon might explode……」
Cannoneers from the Royal army distance themselves from the dwarven cannons.
Normal cannons would definitely blow up if that amount of gunpowder was used.
「But dwarven cannons can handle it, no problem. ――do it.」
The boom and smoke from the dwarven cannons made the large cannons seem like toys.
In the corner of my eye, I see Myla cover her ears, Irijina become excited, and Tristan fall over.
Of course, the cannon’s target is the wall.
The sound of impact was like the sound of a mason whacking stone with a hammer……except it was several hundred times louder.
「I-it was penetrated!」
Celia bounces up delightedly.
As reported, the dwarven cannon literally punched a hole through the sturdy stone wall.
The inside of the city can be seen through the opening.
「So it worked.」
「It should be over now.」
The cute Celia nods in content.
From there, normal cannons, large cannons and the Royal army’s cannons fire in rapid succession.
Most of the cannons and ballistae left on the wall were blown away by the overwhelming firepower, but――
「……why won’t it fall?」
The dwarven cannon opened a hole with one hit.
The large cannons appear to be destroying the surface.
Experience dictates that the wall should have collapsed a long time ago.
「The Royal army’s siege unit is attacking!」
Seeing how it was impossible for cannons to clear the wall, the Royal army brings out battering rams.
Although most of the enemy ballistae and cannons were taken out, there was nothing we could do to stop the arcing iron balls and burning rocks from the catapults within the city or the occasional ambushing soldiers throwing pots of oil, which ultimately led to casualties.
Nevertheless, the battering rams arrived at the walls and were swung with force.
「It’s not budging! It’s like a wall of steel!!」
The ram slams once and then twice against the wall.
After the fourth hit, it was the iron hammer that started to break.
Additionally, the enemy positions cannons and ballistae behind the hole blasted in the wall by the dwarven cannons and shoots at the battering rams.
The ram, specialized in breaking walls, could not withstand the attacks of siege weapons.
Multiple rams were destroyed instantly and the operating soldiers ran away.
「This isn’t good.」
Leopolt instructs the army to withdraw when I mutter.
「You still can’t figure it out?」
I ask Leopolt again.
「The wall’s construction…… no, the material itself, is clearly different. However, I don’t know the details.」
「We could make a hole in the wall so there can’t be any iron mixed inside…… yet the wall won’t collapse even after taking such a beating…… it’s something that looks like stone. Unfortunately, nothing comes to mind……」
Tristan can’t figure it out either.
While we are still perplexed, the enemy once again mount their ballistae and cannons on the wall.
We’ll have to start from scratch.
「The battle won’t be settled even if we continue to shoot our cannons……」
Regardless, we don’t know the set up.
If the enemy rebuilt the wall to be sturdier based on some kind of trick, they could have asked for more.
However, the enemy made the wall appear capable of being broken.
Don’t tell me, there is an unexpected reason why the wall suddenly got stronger.
That was when an allied soldier pointed to the river.
「That’s…… reinforcements! It’s a reinforcing fleet!!」
A familiar ship…… that of Ivanna’s, the Suvorov, leads a fleet of more than ten ships slowly toward Trisnia upstream on the river.
She must have mobilized all possibly operable ships post-battle.
I notice that the Suvorov has crude repairs done to the hull.
「A battleship cannon can destroy it, right?」
Suvorov’s cannons should be less powerful than the dwarven cannons.
However, the total of cannons on the ships following the battleship easily add up to more than a hundred. It might be possible if all those cannons concentrate on one point.
「I don’t think it will be so simple.」
The enemy begins to intercept by shooting catapults and cannons, but the bombardment is not a problem for the battleship’s armor plating.
The thing is, Trisnia is a large city.
The harbor is the only part facing the river, while the central part of the city is still sufficiently separated.
Aiming from the ship would inevitably mean entering deep into the harbor, but……
I try to signal them with smoke to no avail.
The fleet doesn’t stop moving and a single small combat ship sails ahead of the flagship, taking the lead.
It was when the imaginary line of the harbor was breached.
「……was I too late?」
The ship halted suddenly, however, its momentum carried the entire vessel forward so much that the front tilted into the water until it gradually sunk.
「Trisnia’s harbor has giant chains to seal off entry. Once lowered, no fleet can pass through.」
Thankfully, Ivanna was wise enough to send another ship as a decoy instead of charging forward with the flagship.
That ship which just sank probably got caught on the chains.
She can’t blast the chains out of the way with cannons since they’re underwater and the winding device is most likely somewhere inside the city.
In other words, we have to infiltrate the city on land in order to remove the chains, except we’re struggling to even clear the first step.
「I can see Ivanna getting angry.」
A wry smile forms on my face, although the situation doesn’t change.
The only method left is……
「I guess I’ll have to bulldoze my way through.」
The dwarven cannons use gears to change their angle of fire, while thick logs are stuck under the large cannons to allow a high enough angle to shoot into the city.
If I run for the gate while the cannons are providing covering fire, I might be able to force my way inside.
「It’s possible, though I don’t recommend it.」
If I do that, the casualties we suffer will be tremendous.
On top of that, the city will be messed up like Arkland.
Collateral damage to the city is unavoidable to a certain degree, but I’d rather not incur the wrath of the women of the city again.
「From what I heard in Arkland regarding South Yuguria, the possibility of them having a poor reputation is low. If we rampage throughout the city, we’ll be seen as the villains.」
Leopolt continued after Tristan offered his thoughts.
「More important than popular sentiment is that we need to halt the city of Trisnia from functioning. Ample port facilities will serve as a base to recapture the west coast, and maintained logistics facilities will serve as a base for advancement to the south or possibly a form of containment for the city states. Forcibly attacking and turning the place into ruins would drastically hinder our future strategy.」
An express messenger comes running in from Erich.
「Order from the Military Commissioner! Lord Hardlett is to refrain from attacking and to obey instructions from headquarters for a more reliable――」
So Erich is thinking the same thing.
Man, it’s impressive how well he knows me.
「In any case, we have to be smart in our approach of Trisnia’s capture.」
This is definitely going to be time-consuming again.
「That would be ideal. ……But maybe we can finish it up quickly.」
Leopolt looks up at the sky with half-closed eyes.
Beyond the west coast of the river, from the great mountain range, black clouds slowly drift in our direction.