Release that Witch Chapter 448
"What?" Jacques Medde said with a frown, "You must have misheard it."
"No, it's clear, like the sounds of heavy, rapid breathing. Wheeze, wheeze..." the guard said, imitating the sounds.
"Maybe it's the snoring sounds of a tramp?"
"My lord, in this weather, anyone sleeping outside will be frozen to death," the guard insisted, "and nobody can snore that loudly. It must be a giant almost as tall as the city wall if they're really snoring sounds."
The Earl stared at him for a good long while and then turned away, shouting, "Knight Dowcan!"
"My lord, what can I do for you?" a knight wearing the badge of the Maple Family on his chest responded, striding toward the Earl.
"Summon your platoon and follow my guard to investigate the dock in the city." Jacques patted the knight's shoulder and added, "Inform me at once if you've any news."
"Eh... Could you send someone else there?" the young knight said, hesitating. "My father urged me to enter the castle together with you."
"It won't take you long to go to the dock, but I can assure you here it'll take a lot longer," the Earl said with a smile, "and if the Honeysuckle Family surrenders, I'll wait for you here."
After the knight left with his guard, Jacques' facial expression turned stone-cold. "Keep dreaming! You think you can receive the same credit by sending a son here to enter the castle with me? His Majesty mentioned only me in the secret letter!"
Before long, he heard the distant sound of gunfire coming from the west.
Jacques was instantly on the alert. "What's that? The eldest son of the Maple Family has no flintlock."
When he was planning to send some of his knights there to check the situation, the guard who had reported to him earlier stumbled back into the battalion. "My, my lord... things have gone wrong!"
"What went wrong?"
"The rebel king... he came here!" The guard said with his eyes widely opened, "Thousands of enemies are heading for the castle!"
"You meant Roland Wimbledon's army?" Jacques raised his hand and slapped the guard on the face. "Thousands of them? If you dare to talk nonsense, I'll hang you up on the city gate!"
"My lord, they carry the flags of the Kingdom of Graycastle." The guard did not dare to dodge. He got down on one knee and continued, "I wanted the squire of Knight Dowcan to catch one or two enemies to get further information, but the moment they charged towards them, they were, were..."
"They were shot down by intense gunfire." The Earl could tell from the guard's face that he seemed to have witnessed very terrifying scenes. "At that time, it looked like numerous fires popped out all of a sudden in the darkness and the cracking sounds never stopped. Twenty people only charged forward for less than 100 steps before they were all shot down and so did the horses!" The guard swallowed and went on, "My lord, I've never seen such an intense gunfire. If there weren't more than a thousand enemies, how could they eliminate the knight's platoon in just a blink?"
"Where is the eldest son of the Maple Family?"
"He's... run away."
The Earl sank, weak-kneed, into his chair and was completely confused. "How is it possible? The four families started to act from yesterday at noon and Prince Roland came to support Longsong Stronghold tonight. If we count the messaging time, does this mean he needs only one day to come here from his town? Even when sailing smoothly with the wind the entire time, they can't reach here that fast, let alone while carrying a thousand people. To transport that many people, he needs at least a huge fleet, but according to the intelligence, Border Town has no ship in the winter!"
How could things turn out like this?
"No, I have to be calm in such an emergency." Jacques Medde wiped the sweat from his forehead and thought that maybe the guard did talk nonsense. Without torches, he could not see clearly how many enemies were there on the dock in the darkness when he was obviously shocked by their firing flintlocks. "Flintlocks may seem powerful. However, their shooting range was merely about 40 steps and their reloading speed and hit rate were extremely low. Assuming that every enemy is equipped with this kind of weapon, they won't be unbeatable for at most two dozen soldiers who can march abreast in the street leading to the castle. If I inform the Wild Rose and the Wolf Family now and gather all the knights, mercenary fighters and guards to attack them after their first round of firing, maybe we could defeat them.
Unlike battles in fields, the poor efficiency in flintlock reloading is a fatal shortcoming in street fights.
Compared with crossbowmen, it's much faster to train flintlock soldiers. Let them block the enemies first. Their lives aren't worth much. If necessary, knights can tread on them.
To his great surprise, the head of his guards came back and reported, "They've already left the battalion with their men."
To besiege Petrov, the four families respectively held the four sides of the castle. Jacques did not expect that the other families received the news earlier than him.
Now, the sounds of gunfire were nearing the castle. As the guard had described, they were the deep rumble of dense drums, loud and clear across the growing mounds of snow.
"These bastards!" Jacques' heart froze. He looked at the castle for the last time. He had no choice but to order a retreat. This time, only he and his guards had the chance to flee. His men in the castle were left behind.
Outside the castle, the Earl was shocked by the scene.
The enemies were everywhere, and any knight who tried to break through the blockade would be shot down remorselessly. Their weapons were nothing like the flintlocks sent by Timothy. They could fire continuously and seemed to require no reloading. It was chaotic. Members of the other three families were trapped, with the exception of Knight Dowcan, who had been the first to flee.
"My lord, what should we do?"
"Send for the iron armor platoons!" he cried out. "We'll forge behind them and we'll be covered by their iron shields."
After all the troubles, three iron armor platoons finally gathered and slowly moved forward holding their shields. The other knights found it and followed them, too. They knew that this might be their last chance to break through.
Unfortunately, Jacques Medde made a mistake. When they were only 100 steps from their enemies, the latter's weapons exploded with dazzling bursts of fire. The iron shields made to block lead balls were instantly riddled with bullets. The men in the front holding the shields were killed. Splashing metal debris shot through bodies, stirring up a thick fog of blood behind the shields.
Before the Earl could call out the order of charge, he was cut down in a volley of fire.