Release that Witch Chapter 503
"Only 100?" Roland was slightly surprised. It was predictable that Timothy would deploy troops to the pier of the outlying district—the massive fleet was certain to be noticed when it passed through Redwater City and Silver City. Though steamships were much faster than sailing ships, and could in five days cover a distance which the latter would require seven days for, they were still not as fast as messengers who continuously changed horses and traveled round the clock. Not to mention pigeons—if the new king's spies used pigeons to deliver their report, Timothy would have received the news two or three days in advance.
But it was unexpected that Timothy would deploy only 100 men to defend the pier. Roland had imagined that the first battle would take place in its vicinity. He anticipated that crossbowmen, musketeers, and even mangonels would be stationed along both banks of the river in order to prevent his troops from landing on shore successfully. This was why he wanted to build inland river gunboats in time for the spring offensive. The efficiency of transportation by water was much higher than that of by land, but its disadvantage was that the troops had to alight at a dock and thus could be easily ambushed. If his army had the capability to attack across the shore, it would be able to handle any ambush easily and create a secure landing point.
It seemed as though Timothy had already given up on the "massive advantage" he would have while Roland's troops were landing. From Roland's perspective, although this was the right decision, it was unjustifiable—it was impossible that Timothy knew about the range and power of his 152 mm naval artillery.
As Roland thought about this, he beckoned Sylvie over. "Are the militiamen carrying any Berserk Pills?"
Sylvie summoned her Eye of Magic and took some time to observe the scene. "I don't see anything that looks like a pill. Some of them don't even have any weapons on them. But... there's something strange about the ground."
"They have buried a few things in the ground... there're also some on the pier." Sylvie strained her brows to observe even more carefully. "Crocks and barrels... they're filled with dark gray powder."
"Gunpowder?" Nightingale exclaimed uncontrollably.
"Well, that makes sense," Roland said, acting as calm as he could. "The militia is just a bait to draw our attention. By presenting us with a false opportunity to scramble ashore and capture the pier, Timothy will then ignite the gunpowder and blow all of us up."
In his heart, he was not as calm as he appeared. This strategy was similar to the landmine warfare of the past and was indeed a good plan. Though he saw through it early, his troops would still need to land on shore—having made the choice to travel by water, the pier was a necessary crossing, and it seemed that Timothy was aware of this inevitability. He probably hoped to catch Roland by surprise by setting up an ambush instead of fighting straight up. If Sylvie was not around, there was a chance that Roland would have walked right into the trap.
Through Sylvie's careful observation, Roland was able to pinpoint two places where the ignition was likely to be carried out. One was situated in a shack on the edge of the pier, as evident from a long iron pipe that connected it to the nearest barrel. The other was situated in the pier's warehouse. The two places had a similar feature - a shifting black hole formed by a God's Stone of Retaliation.
After some discussion with Iron Axe, Roland quickly decided the battle plan.
First, Nightingale would sneak into the warehouse, silently dispose of the ignition crew, and guard the gate against substitutes running in and igniting the gunpowder. Then, Roland would use the naval artillery to destroy the shack. There was no problem even if it caused the gunpowder to ignite—so long as the pier remained in good condition.
Leaning against a battlement on the west side of King's City, the Steelheart Knight, Weimar, raised his telescope and observed the movement on the river.
The long and thin canal was like a strip of glittering gold ribbon which cut through the brown and white plains, of which much of the accumulated snow had already melted to reveal a vivid green that came from the sprouting of grass. This was proof that earthly things were coming back to life. Such a view was always pleasurable regardless of the occasion. The only things that did not fit the scene were the billows of black smoke that drifted through the air directly above the canal.
It's the fleet of the rebel king, Roland Wimbledon.
I never thought that he'd really dare to attack King's City.
Although Weimar felt that it was laughable, he also developed a hint of admiration for Roland.
Ever since this capital city was built more than 200 years ago, it had never been attacked. Once an enemy saw the towering and magnificent bluestone walls of the city, the courage to attack would naturally fizzle away. Not everyone possessed the audacity to fight when it was clear that the enemy held an absolute advantage.
At least, Timothy Wimbledon surely doesn't possess this courage.
While the person who does possess it is our enemy, unfortunately.
"Sir, the rebel king's fleet is here!" A squire ran up to the battlements and yelled.
"Hush, I saw it long ago." Weimar placed his telescope down and spat out some saliva. "Convey my order that the 1st and 2nd Cavalry shall mount their horses and await my command behind the city gate, while the mercenaries shall follow closely behind the cavalries. Tell them not to piss their pants when the gunpowder explodes. The oil boilers will also be set on fire, even though I doubt that the enemy will be able to touch this side of the city wall."
The knights nearby burst into laughter at once.
According to the plan, after allowing the rebel king's platoon to occupy the pier, flags would be raised along the city wall. At this time, the snow powder buried near the pier would be ignited, which would be certain to disarray and damage the enemy substantially. Then, the city gates would be opened for the cavalries to launch their attack, ultimately delivering a comfortable victory.
"Those country bumpkins from the Western Region probably believe that King's City is comparable to their grandest city, Longsong Stronghold. Just climb a ladder and the city can be seized." The Ironfeather Knight, Scar, chimed in. "I think that you can save the firewood and bring them home to burn."
"Just for precaution." "What a fool," Weimar silently thought, "even if things like the boiling oil or the rolling stones aren't effective in battle, they must still be displayed for His Highness' sake. Trying to be cheap just because the enemy's too weak to break in—with this kind of mentality, he'll surely be kicked out of the city's knightage by Timothy sooner or later."
He raised up the telescope once again, only to see the front most sailless ship detach from the rest of the fleet and head towards the pier on its own. The top of the ship billowed black smoke which could be seen from miles away, while there were no paddles on either side of the ship. It was unclear to him how the ship operated. But these were unimportant details. No matter how weird a ship was, it could not come on shore and fight.
The sailless ship gradually reduced its speed and unhurriedly docked at the pier on the opposite shore.
"What're they trying to do?" Scar raised his eyebrows. "Do they intend to alight on the opposite shore? Don't tell me that 100 militiamen scare the rebel king?"
Weimar also felt surprised. Usually, when an enemy saw that the pier's defense was paper-thin, it would try to capture the pier quickly. He opened his mouth to say something, but just then, a blaze of fire lit up in front of the strange-looking ship.
The orange-red flames seemed to create a new dawn.