Chapter 16 – The battle for the sawmills (3)
The Subterrane Dwellers in the sawmill quickly discovered a team of adventurers. They were comprised of a few warriors, two crossbowmen, and one wizard. Regardless of whether it was in Aouine or Kirrlutz, it was a common combination.
When the human team appeared, it was undoubtedly a provocation to the territorial Subterrane Dwellers. A shrill whistle quickly rang out within the fortress. The massive wooden gate was raised noisily with groans, and two groups of the Underworld creatures rushed out, following the river’s coastline as their feet stomped through the water before they started wading across.
They divided into two and attempted the surround the adventurers. The crossbowmen fired two shots. One missed, while the other struck one of the Subterrane Dweller’s chest, but it did not penetrate through. The impact from the hit caused it take a step back, stirring the water lightly, but that was it. The creature shook its head, raised its spear and continued following its group.
“Their hides are certainly thick,” Cornelius who was hiding in the bushes frowned as he saw the results, “the rumors are true. Even a hundred of these creatures is trouble for us, let alone a thousand.”
“Their speed is shockingly fast. It’s nearly three hundred feet from the river, and yet they only took a few seconds! Surely they are swifter than best riders!” Jana said in alarm.
“Swifter than the fastest riders? That is because you have not seen excellent cavalry, miss Jana.” Raban gave a short laugh.
The female commander immediately shut her lips sourly and glared at him.
Brendel nodded to agree with Raban’s assessment. The creatures could be compared to a Tier 2 mounted unit and were slightly slower than the best horses. But Vaunte’s mounted troops did not exclusively use warhorses. Aouine’s strongest flying troops were called ‘Cruising Knights’, describing how quickly and effortlessly they entered into the battlefield. They rode flying dragons and were considered elites amongst the flying mounted troops.
“That’s enough.” Cornelius stopped their quarrel, “My lord, there are at least two hundred of these creatures in the sawmill. Which a large number, there is no way our men can handle them.” He shook his head, and his silver hair shimmered against the sunlight that peeked through the dense foliage: “Do you have any solutions?”
His gaze seemed to hold an intentional meaning.
Amandina scoffed lightly at the other side. She had seen through his thoughts. Indeed, if Brendel and Scarlett were relied upon, a frontal assault would not be difficult. Two Gold-ranked versus a hundred Iron-ranked was not much trouble at all. If the mercenaries helped in the process, they would be able to forcefully conquer the sawmill, and it would take at most two hours.
But if he was to follow these sellswords at every step, what authority would he still have? Yet when she looked at Brendel, he was calm and assured, and she knew that he must have a plan in mind.
Thus Amandina spoke in a cold voice: “Books about these creatures state that they have difficulty fighting against a defensive structure. Their effectiveness is also limited in this area because they have difficulty digging the land up as it’s near a river. No matter how fast or how thick their hides are, as long as we can take down the sawmill and turn it into our defense, they would have no chance.”
Raban looked at Brendel in surprise: “They have this weakness? My lord, you knew about this place and chose to attack because of this point?”
Brendel did not give away his thoughts, but he was suppressing the spasms that were on the corners of his lips. That was because he really did not think about it.
It was quite common for sawmills to be near rivers. It was easier to transport by following the currents, and it was quite common to use the water currents to generate power and use it to saw lumber. If it was somewhere in the capital and there were no water-powered saws, they would use Magicite to power the saws.
Even though he heard about the guide’s descriptions about the sawmills, he really had no idea what sort of state the sawmills were in, just like how they did not expect to see them make a fortress out of the sawmill.
“The solution is already taking place,” Brendel nodded, “but we have to see how many of these creatures our baits are capable of drawing out.” The youth looked at his subordinates-in-name, “But everyone can relax. This battle is not as difficult as you think; just treat it as a warm-up battle for your men.”
The mercenaries who overheard his words were taken aback. The numbers required to defeat the two hundred odd dwellers required more than the three hundred mercenaries they had today. No matter how they look at it, it was not a warm-up but a harsh battle.
“Just wait for it, you will see what I have prepared soon.” Brendel’s mind concentrated to prepare for battle. His eyes went back to the river and watched the adventurers retreat at full speed back to the forest. They were quick, but they were soon caught up at the slope to the forest.
The wizard in the team slammed onto the ground and roared a chant. Three large Magic Circles appeared beneath their feet, causing sand and rocks to form together as a small fortress of five meters tall and three meters wide at each side. It was complete with battlements and allowed the crossbowmen to station between them.
A spell to create a building out of nothing.
The mercenaries were surprised. It was close enough to be a Silver-ranked magic spell, although it could not compare to the original legendary spell which created an entire city. Jana and Cornelius had glanced at each other before they noticed Raban was smiling nonchalantly.
“Raban, he’s your man?” Cornelius lowered his voice and asked. Allowing such a wizard of the Third Circle to go to the frontlines to become bait was unthinkable.
The commander of the Firebrand Mercenaries nodded without a care. “Matthew, he’s the best wizard in my mercenaries,” he replied.
“You’re quite the risk taker,” Cornelius confirmed the truth, but he did not feel relaxed but rather, a sense of danger. The middle-aged man who had a full head of silver hair took a long look at Raban, then at the silent Brendel, and felt that his position was shaking.
The night where he fought alongside with the young lord should have left a good impression, but the quiet veteran soldier beside him had forged an understanding with the youth before he even realized it.
[Damn it. When did they make some kind of arrangement?]
He cast his gaze back at the forest’s edge. The middle-aged wizard, Matthew, retreated to the center and stayed behind the crossbowmen and warriors. He put his entire body weight on to the staff and breathed heavily. The spell he cast apparently drained a large amount of stamina and energy.
The effectiveness of the small fortress was evident. The Subterrane Dwellers’ front limbs were short and weak, and when they attacked, they relied greatly on their legs. They would leap forward with great force, lunging towards their enemies while they held on to their spears.
They were unable to climb the walls because they were not meant to do so.
The walls were also high enough to cause them to have difficulty in judging the distance to jump over. If they did manage to go over, the warriors quickly rushed forward and overwhelmed them one by one.
Within a single minute, four Subterrane Dwellers were cut down and kicked off from the fortress, causing them to roll a few times off the coastline. The creatures started to retreat as they looked on with confusion.
The two Camlu which were commanding at the back emitted shrill cries to surround the fortress and coordinate the attacks.
“Defending from that position is too difficult…..” Jana’s eyebrows were knitted together in frustration. The group of mercenaries were skilled and chosen by Brendel to be bait. Each of them was highly skilled Iron-ranked fighters, but against thirty-odd Subterrane Dwellers, they would only last so long. When they get overwhelmed…… there would be blood and carnage.
Two rounds of attacks quickly came and went without the creatures having success, but she did not expect the events that followed. The Camlu which forced their subordinates to attack suddenly shrilled loudly and had them retreat a distance while surrounding it.
The mercenaries at the fortress stood at attention. Matthew had caught his breath and was ready to participate in the battle.
“The Subterrane Dwellers are unwilling to pay the price to capture the fortress by force. They will eventually overwhelm them, but they would have a considerable number of casualties. The Underworld is a harsh place. The population and military might are precious commodities and not to be wasted. It’s also why their individual strength is higher than the average human.” Brendel explained to the confused mercenaries.
“I see. But their ability to attack fortified areas is weak. Could it be that these creatures don’t have the experience of destroying fortified buildings, or build their own?” Cornelius asked while he shot a glance at Brendel. As a mercenary who lived their lives in the battlefield, they would often look down on the nobles and scholars who knew nothing of it, yet when they were able to apply unknown knowledge to the battlefield, they could not but feel impressed.
Brendel nearly swallowed wrongly when he heard the question. Underworld races were incredible at building fortified cities. The earliest Underworld fortress was created to prevent the invasion of evil demons. The walls’ thickness and toughness would make most human fortresses like Bruglas appear weak in comparison, which was a given since their craft came from the underground Dwarves.
And in contrast, the walls of a rural city like Firburh were woefully lacking.
“It’s not exactly like that,” he said, “these creatures are usually combined with Earth Spirit Bears to form an army.”