A few seconds after the flames blazed, Weimar heard a dull thunderous sound.
It came from a far distance away. Although its tone was not high, it was nevertheless powerful. He saw that right next to the shack, a pillar of earth rose up in tune with the sound.
"What just happened?"
"Was the snow powder ignited?"
"Doesn't seem like it. It seems to have been done by that ship."
"What a joke. It's about a mile away."
The knights were busy discussing among themselves. Weimar frowned and wondered. "Could it be that... the enemy has noticed something strange about the ground?"
According to the intelligence gathered from various channels, the rebel king possessed extremely powerful snow powder weapons which were superior in both range and accuracy to anything the King's City blacksmiths were able to knock up. Hence, from the beginning, Timothy had decided not to engage in direct combat, but instead to use the snow powder barrels as ambush so that Roland's weapons would be rendered useless. The things that released fire at the front of the ship were likely to be enlarged versions of the weapons. They were able to load more snow powder and shoot a more powerful projectile. The only issue was that they were much more difficult to manufacture than handheld weapons. Already, despite Timothy putting all of the city's blacksmiths to work throughout the winter, the devices they were able to create were not even as good as trebuchets.
After a short while, the flames appeared once again, followed by the same thunderous sound. This time, the earth pillar attached itself firmly to the shack and flew up, causing mud to splotch all over the roof of the shack.
Weimar's guess was proven correct. Clearly, the enemy had conceived a plan to get to the shack, which meant that they knew about the snow powder hidden near to the pier! As such, Timothy's ambush tactic failed. Weimar quietly thought to himself, "Perhaps they do have a chance to touch the city wall."
After this battle, it would become evident whether the snow powder weapons were more powerful or the walls of King's City were sturdier.
Just then, a booming sound was heard from the battlements...
It was louder and more sonorous than anything the knights had ever heard, as though thunder clapped right beside their ears.
A small hill began to arch upward in the space in front of the pier. Dirt and stones were hurled into the air before smoke and fog burst out of the dirt, forming a visible cloud-shaped gaseous mass. Violent quakes swept through the land, and in an instant, the top of the city wall began to sway terribly. Weimar instinctively crouched his body, but Scar suffered a foot sprain and fell to the ground beside him.
After reaching its maximum height, the flying soil began to fall like torrential rain. Yet, it did not make any noise when it hit the ground. Weimar's ears buzzed for a while, and it took some time for him to regain his senses after the tremors.
Damn it, that fool didn't wait for the flag signal to ignite the snow powder!
The ground, which was originally flat, now looked as if it had been chewed upon. Bumps and hollows were everywhere, while hot and white smoke emitted from the loose black mud, filling the air with the smell of gunpowder.
Weimar leaned one side of his head out from behind the battlement. He saw that in the distance, the fleet began to move once again. The ships formed a straight line as they headed toward the pier. The decoy militiamen were either paralyzed on the pier, or had dropped their weapons and fled in various directions.
"Who was responsible for the ignition?" Scar, who was angry from embarrassment, held a guard by the collar and interrogated. "I'll wring his head off!"
"It was a person arranged by His Highness." Weimar snapped. "Watch the enemy carefully. They're coming on shore any time now. Prepare to raise the blue flag."
"I hope the fella hiding in the warehouse will be able to complete his mission," he thought.
However, there was no movement in the pier area at all, and the enemy's crews were able to land the shore easily.
Allen Alba was busy maintaining his rapier when the thunderous booms sounded and shook the earth. The violent explosions and tremors almost caused him to drop the rapier out of shock.
Though he knew in advance that this would happen, he did not expect the sound of exploding snow powder to be so loud and terrifying.
After all, it took place at least two miles away from where he was. "How does it feel like on the scene?" He wondered.
Using his hands, he soothed his mount which had turned restless. Then, he kept his rapier in its sheath and beckoned toward the cavalries behind him. "When the gate opens, you'll follow my charge. Don't hold back your horses' energy. They have no way to retreat!"
From the uncertain response he received, it was apparent that few among the horsemen had recovered from the thunderous shock waves.
Allen cried out loudly, "This is a trap set by His Highness. The wrath of thunder shall punish our enemies, not us! Gather yourselves; our enemies have nowhere to run!"
"Yes..." The response this time was slightly more in unison.
The mercenaries waiting behind the cavalries were still in a dazed state. Allen shook his head disdainfully. He had never taken these people seriously—they were merely the back line responsible for cleaning up the mess on the battlefield.
After quite a long while, the city gate was still yet to be opened.
"What's going on?" He glanced toward the top of the city walls with suspicion. The Steelheart Knight had not issued any new orders—however, as the charge could begin at any time, Allen could not leave his position and inquire about the situation. Time went by slowly. All of a sudden, he heard a dull and muffled sound which seemed to originate from very far away. If he did not remember wrongly, it was the enemy's signal to attack.
Did something go wrong with the plan? Didn't the snow powder trap cause the enemy to disperse and flee?
As Allen's anxiety reached its tipping point, he suddenly heard a strange wind sound. Before he could gather his thoughts, the bricks beside the city gate split open at once.
Stones and slags flew in all directions. He felt numbness around his waist and fell off his horse stiffly. The startled horse even stepped on his thigh as it attempted to flee.
The extreme pain caused Allen to howl. "Ahh, my leg...!"
"My lord Allen!"
Two squires quickly gathered around him.
"Control the platoon, and stop them from running around!"
Allen shouted while trying to bear with the stinging pain.
The formation of the cavalries was in complete disarray. Nobody knew exactly what was going on, and many rode on their horses as they tried to avoid the objects flying through the air. Though the squires issued instructions as loud as they could, it was difficult for them to take charge of the situation while this was going on.
Allen tried several times to stand up but failed each time. Turning his head, he was horrified to see that his thigh had twisted into an irregular shape, and was badly ruptured and lacerated. His armor plate had deformed and tilted to one side, while a dislocated white bone had torn through his flesh and trouser to expose a small section with bits of tissue hanging on it.
Allen's heart began to turn cold. He knew that his career as a knight was effectively over.
Just then, he heard the strange wind sound again.
This time, the city gate was where the change occurred.
Allen saw the two guards standing at the city gate instantly become enveloped by large masses of debris, before flying pieces of wood and stone swept through them like a swarm of bees. When the debris dissipated, Allen was astounded to see that the upper bodies of the two guards seemed as if they had been sliced with sharp knives. Fresh blood mixed together with their red-green innards and trickled on to the floor. Behind them were another five or six horsemen heaped on the floor unconscious. What had appeared to be harmless pieces of wood had turned into deadly weapons and sliced through the bodies like knives. Even the pieces of stone, which were only the size of a thumb, were able to penetrate the guards' helmets and armors!
Furthermore, a gap of the size of a basin had appeared on the city gate, which was nearly two feet thick. All these had happened while the enemy was still more than three miles away!
"Demons, the enemies are demons!"
Out of nowhere, someone shouted something, and the scene, which was already dreadful and chaotic enough, became even more disastrous.
The cavalries, which had been prepared for the assault, hastily turned their mounts backward and galloped away. As they caught up with the fleeing mercenaries, they trampled over bodies and created even more serious disorder. In the twinkling of an eye, the situation near the west city wall had become completely out of control.
Allen had no more energy left to support his body. He collapsed on the floor and looked towards the sky helplessly. The cries of panic from the crowd and the continuous sounds of things breaking apart seemed to become more and more distant, and his surroundings gradually became quieter.
He had one last thought in his mind.
It's so cold...
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