Chapter 26 – Expansion (7)
=========== Amandina’s POV ============
Amandina’s hands were clasped tightly together in front of her chest as she silently watched the increase of the shadowy figures in the forest. Since the new month, the temperature in the night had greatly decreased, even though it was still quite a long way from Aouine’s first snow.
Everyone’s misty breath could be visibly seen, and there was a thin white mist that gathered around the lumber mill. The mercenaries rubbed their hands together as they shivered a little anxiously in the silent night.
Nearly every defender was up on the wooden walls. Despite Jana and Cornelius’ forceful objections to leave some defenders at the gate, Amandina had rejected them because of Brendel’s plans.
“What is going to happen if they attack the gate instead? This is a dangerous move to make if we don’t secure our backlines!” Jana shouted.
Amandina had the strangest idea while she listened to the female commander’s words.
[If Brendel deceives me and gets me killed I’ll haunt him his whole life.]
When she realized what she was doing, her body jolted in surprise, and she blushed slightly. She felt a little warm and even gave a quiet laugh before she shook her head vigorously to get rid of that thought.
Jana glared at the noble young lady as she acted oddly, but she quickly received the latter’s reply.
“These are the direct orders from our lord,” Amandina said, and immediately destroyed Jana’s good feelings that were built just minutes ago.
Jana trembled greatly from anger from the irresponsible reply and stormed away, yelling at her subordinates. She muttered curses at the nobles under her breath, but if it were yesterday, she would have done it right in Amandina’s face. In truth, she had subconsciously recognized Brendel’s leadership and did not object to placing all their mercenaries on the wall.
[That youth must have his reasons for ordering us to defend the walls.]
Cornelius also stopped his objections when he heard Amandina’s answer. When he went off to command his mercenaries, he spotted a faint smile on Raban’s dark face and was slightly surprised.
“You already know?” He asked and was instinctively on his guard.
Raban seemed to see through that old fox’s mind. He rubbed his nose without reacting to Cornelius’s rude tone with a smile.
“That girl is calmer than both of us. Do you really think she’s randomly ordering us around? The only one who could overwrite her orders…… is probably that young lord of ours.” He said.
“You have quite the discerning eyes.” Cornelius scoffed.
Raban thought Cornelius was the same as him but did not mention it, as a veteran mercenary who noted the number of Subterrane Dwellers at timed intervals had come up to him to give his report, and the imposing commander quietly listened to his assessment.
There were nearly a thousand Subterrane Dwellers shifting about in the forest.
Everyone around Raban was on their guard when they listened in.
The stars were shimmering in the sky, while the moon which hung right beside them meant that it had just past midnight. Before Amandina faced the commanders’ rebuttals, she had dealt with Romaine’s endless bizarre questions, and now that it was quiet she stifled a yawn and was about to rub her tired eyes.
That was when she heard a series of odd piercing sounds; the mercenaries who were already armed with their crossbows suddenly launched their projectiles.
Amandina was startled, and her eyes darted around. She caught rows of Subterrane Dwellers marching with appropriately placed Earth Spirit Bears raising their immense wooden shields, shielding them from the raining bolts.
“Anyone spotted if they have siege weapons?”
“I don’t see them!”
The question asked by the mercenaries was mostly directed at their scouts who had keener eyesight. Everyone was relieved, but Amandina was immediately alert.
[My lord has once again predicted correctly!]
“Be on your guard; they will definitely attack the wall! Be prepared to knock them off if they jump up!” Amandina yelled to the surprised mercenaries who nodded after a moment.
The Subterrane Dwellers began to accelerate at around the mark of hundred and fifty meters. They first appeared as if they were jogging, but the mercenaries discovered the distance the Underworld creatures covered was alarmingly quick.
The three commanders ordered the mercenaries to cease firing and reload, then wait for their orders.
It was at that moment they gave the order to unleash the projectiles at their enemies. The hundred-odd projectiles which fired at the same time caused a loud ringing in everyone’s ears, and the concentrated firepower swept through the air like a sharp blade, striking against the Underworld creatures’ formations.
Their front few rows slowed their advance at the same time, as a few Subterrane Dwellers and Earth Spirit Bears fell over; there was a clear crack to their army’s defense.
But everyone already knew how ineffective the crossbows were against the enemies. Before they were able to reload their crossbows, the gap they had was quickly filled in by the Subterrane Dwellers. Very soon, they reached the wooden walls.
The lumber mill’s walls were constructed with four layers of thick wood logs, and between the two layers were mud packed tightly between them. The three commanders thought that the Subterrane Dwellers utterly wasted these building materials, but when the Earth Spirit Bears slammed their wooden shields onto the reinforced walls, they immediately regretted ever considering that thought.
The gigantic clumsy-looking creatures took large strides and swung with their body weight, sending their shields crashing into the wall. Cracking sounds could be heard immediately, and certain sections tilted backward. The fact that a third of the wood logs were entrenched into the soil only made the Earth Spirit Bears’ assault appear even more impressive.
The mercenaries nearly lost their bearings when they heard the walls creaking repeatedly, but Amandina’s repeated yells warned and woke them up— The Subterrane Dwellers were capable of jumping up to the wall.
It was fortunate that they recovered quickly enough to knock down the leaping Subterrane Dwellers. However, this was apparently not their only option, as one of the mercenaries suddenly bellowed:
“They’re digging a tunnel!”
The Nightsong Tiger got Amandina to move further back in so that he could inspect the enemies’ movements. Indeed, they were digging under the Earth Spirit Bears’ raised shields. Their speed in burrowing through the ground was shocking, and they were quite rightly reputed as ‘citizens of the soil’.
There was no oil in the lumber mill, and even rocks were scarce. The mercenaries tried throwing down the largest wood logs they could find at them, but they were completely useless because of the Earth Spirit Bears’ immense strength.
It was fortunate that there was a mercenary group who specifically worked in digging out multiple deep holes some distance away from the walls. They were dug out according to Brendel’s instructions and reached several meters deep. The battle continued into the thirty minutes mark, and the first batch of Subterrane Dwellers who broke through the area quickly stumbled into the holes.
Because the creatures rushed out hurriedly, they were unable to read the area well and continued to fall into the traps. When they tried to identify the situation they were in, the mercenaries were prepared and were waiting for them. Dozens of spears stabbed into them, and no matter how outstanding their abilities were, they were unable to fend the attacks off and ended up as pincushions.
After losing several tens of their men, the Subterrane Dwellers finally recognized that the attacks by the underground tunnels were not working. They had no choice but to choose a more violent way to assault the walls.
They began to stack on top of each other, and the mercenaries were shocked to discover they were forming into ladders.
It was an effective strategy, and the only drawback was that the Earth Spirit Bears would not be able to follow. Still, their wooden shields formed into a stable platform and allowed the Subterrane Dwellers to scale the walls much easier.
“Nets!” Amandina’s eyebrows went up when she discovered their new form of attack.
Raban and Cornelius immediately echoed Amandina’s words, and the mercenaries carried ‘nets’ formed by oil ropes out to the area. When the Subterrane Dwellers finished climbing over the wall, they found that the nets were cast over them and inhibited their movements. It would be quite laughable to use them against humans, but the Subterrane Dwellers were blind and had trouble identifying what had covered them. As the mercenaries were able to prey on their hindered movements and hesitation, the Underworld creatures immediately faced losses.
The three mercenary commanders were amazed at the effectiveness at countering the enemies. These strategies were simple and efficient, and it did not appear what a noble or knight would consider using. It was instead more similar to what a veteran mercenary would come up as an emergency solution, but the person who came up with these plans was a youth who was just twenty.
They would never know that the crystallizations of such ‘tactics’ were invented by gamers who experienced countless battles.
The mercenaries were able to stop the Subterrane Dwellers from having a proper foothold with the simple tool, but as the battle continued, the nets ultimately frayed and snapped, and the Subterrane Dwellers finally broke through. It was at that point the mercenaries had their first casualty, and from that point, the injuries and deaths of the humans quickly increased.
In a confrontation, the advantages of the Subterrane Dwellers’ combat prowess slowly became apparent.
The mercenaries continued to be pushed back slowly, and with the increase of the Subterrane Dwellers numbers, they lost their advantage as defenders and were nearly forced off the wall. The Underworld Creatures seemed like they were going to overrun the lumber mill. The sheer numbers they had simply covered all weaknesses they had.
Cornelius and Raban’s forehead was full of cold perspiration, and they cast their gazes to Amandina at the same time. The only way to overturn this critical juncture was most likely with her. If she did not have any plans, then they could only rely on their own methods to end this battle.
The two commanders made the same decision at the same time.