Release that Witch Chapter 871
A thick tendril of dark gray smoke rose from either side of the city wall, accompanied by two huge booms that shook the entire floor of the lookout tower. After the loud noise subsided, a gale of cheer came from the bottom of the wall. Apparently, their first strike significantly boosted their soldiers' spirits.
But Wilion knew that was all that the first round of firing could make.
Judging from the locations of mud splash in the field moments later, he knew he had missed the target. Neither of them had hit the enemies, but they actually landed pretty far away from the default landing spot set in the previous exercise. The shell bounced up after its landing and rolled over for a few meters, leaving a ten-meter shallow groove in the muddy battlefield.
As it was a breezy day today, he had to have a few trial shots before he could accurately hit the target with the huge rock cannon.
Wilion knew very well that the culverin in Roland's army was way better than Valencia's cannon, although the latter cost a ton. The gap between them was even more unbridgeable than that between the flintlocks.
The biggest defect of the huge rock cannon was its non-portability.
The cannon barrel had cost all the bronze wares they could find in the city, and they even melted the ancient bell on the bell tower to prevent the cannon from exploding. After numerous experiments and tests, they forged a cannon with a barrel wall as thick as a man's arm, so heavy that no wagon could support its overwhelming weight. They had no choice but to build a specific turret to place the cannon. A strong rope was used to control and adjust its firing angle and direction, and it took them at least 15 minutes to load the weapon.
What was worse was that the spherical shell made of granite did not create as much as damage as Roland's cannon had done when he had attacked the king's city. Wilion had tried shells filled with snow powder, but their performance fluctuated. As the outer part of the shell was made of iron, the production rate was low as well. He wondered where Roland found so many materials.
So the Duke had decided, from the beginning, to do their best to prevent his enemies using cannons.
He believed that as long as they forced the enemies to approach the city, his cannon would eventually manage to hit them.
Roland's army halted after their first firing, appearing to be shocked by Wilion's expected attack. They started to retreat until they were about 100 paces away from the shell's landing spot.
"What're they doing?" Galina asked, puzzled.
Wilion raised the telescope, through which he saw the enemies, about 100 men, who had taken their equipment off their backs and started to dig in the ground. It seemed they intended to create an empty space in the field.
"I guess they must be afraid and plan to reorganize the troops to have a prolonged battle."A viscount who watched the battle at the lookout tower with them said, "It's rumored that Roland Wimbledon abandoned all the knights and has formed an army of uncivilized farmers. He did not suffer any setbacks in the previous wars because of his fine firearms. But now he must be very hesitant to launch an attack at our defensive line. You turned soil into mud. What a nice move, my lord."
"But our incomes have reduced drastically, and we lost many squires as well," another man said, frowning. "Many people fled in the Months of Demons of this year, abandoning half the workshops in the city. I suggest it'd be better to negotiate a truce with Roland Wimbledon."
"We have to win an equal position before jumping into a negotiation. Let's just win another battle first."
"Shut up, all of you," Wilion said agitatedly. "I'll never bend to the kingslayer. If you would like to sacrifice your noble titles and betray King Timothy, I'll lock you up with the nasty mob in the cellar first."
That silenced everyone instantly.
Such a great price had Valencia paid to prepare for this battle. The former trade center had not only converted to a stronghold, but Duke Wilion had also bent his rules as well. However, in his opinion, all the sacrifices would pay off. If Prince Roland had decided to form an alliance with nobles to rule Graycastle in the first place, he would have been defeated long before. In fact, the prince intended to overthrow the entire feudal system and have full control over the kingdom, a monstrous decision that would outrage the whole high class. This bold move actually gave him a perfect reason to resist.
If he could thwart Roland's army this time, the other nobles would change their minds and support him in keeping in charge of the Eastern Region. Meanwhile, more protesters would emerge in Graycastle. He would say that it was not only a battle for King Timothy but also a defense for the feudal system.
"Huge rock cannons are loaded, my lord," a servant reported.
"Are we going to keep firing?" Galina asked.
"No, hang on... it was hard for our cannon to hit the enemies now unless we add snow powder." Willian shook his head. Now he regretted his proactive strategy a little. He had thought that an early firing would help to finish the adjustment earlier, but he did not expect the enemy to halt after seeing their first firing. Now the sight of the enemies busy in mud gave him a disturbing feeling.
The 100 men, dividing into a dozen teams, shoveled and created an empty space that could merely accommodate two people. It was unlikely that it was prepared for camping. After the cleaning, they started to fiddle with those green long barrels.
Through the telescope, Wilion could spy the enemy's every movement. It seemed that the long barrel was only a component supported by a tripod beneath it and was padded with a concave iron plate at the bottom. Other than that, a few sticks were strangely attached to the barrel. All the parts were separately carried by a different person, but it only took those men less than 15 minutes to assemble all of the components. How ingenious the design was!
However, the Duke almost could not believe his eyes as he saw what happened next.
A spindle-shaped can was put into the barrel before a puff of white smoke ejected out of the mouth of the barrel.
As the nobles were wondering what that thing was, all of a sudden, a dozen dark red fireballs blasted on either side of the city wall, followed by a series of thunderous booms.
As the houses close to the inner side of the city wall had been replaced with all kinds of traps and obstacles, the explosions did not cause much damage, but the mighty scene gave Wilion an ineffable shock.
At that moment, there was only one voice left in his mind.
"That is a cannon? Really?"
How can it be?
The Duke had not witnessed Roland's cannon troop, but he had heard so much of it. The cannons they equipped could categorized into two types based on their lengths: one portable type that could be placed on a wagon, and the other must be transported by boat. Nither was, however, light enough to be carried by ordinary men.
It took all the craftsmen and materials in Valencia, and two years to forge the two cannons that barely worked. Wilion admitted that it all attributed to the lack of techniques and experience, but he believed that the principle they had applied was no different from Roland's. He was confident that with a few more years, his craftsmen would surely be able to make similar weapons.
But what happened in front of him totally blew his mind.
How could such barrels with such thin tubes bear the enormous pressure generated by the explosion of snow powder?
"It doesn't make any sense!"
"Replace the rock shell with half a bag of snow powder!" Duke turned around and growled to his servant. "Fire right after you finish loading. 10 gold royals for one man you shoot down."
The servant was a little uncertain. "Half a bag? My lord, that may destroy the cannon..."
"If we let them strike our wall without any defense, the huge rock cannon will be useless!" Wilion grabbed the servant's collar and said, "Do as I say! Now!"
That was when another cloud of white smoke rose from where the enemies were stationed.
"How could they fire again within no more than 30 seconds?"
This time, Wilion heard a soft buzzing, like birds' singing or the whistling sound when arrows pierced the air.
The next moment, several blazing fireballs soared on the top of the wall. Scalding heatwaves spread and knocked down the bonfires and the oil basin. Within a blink, the wall was ablaze.