505 The Battle of King“s City Part III
Meanwhile, Lightning, Wendy, Maggie and Hummingbird were executing the final attack before the main offensive.
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Because the main artillery of the battleships only fired solid bullets, they were largely ineffective against the personnel and defense facilities on the city wall. Hence, the witches aimed to destroy the first line of defense so as to puncture the enemy's effective strength and open up a safe channel for the general offensive.
This was also the first time that the hydrogen balloon was used in battle.
Unlike the thousand-mile raid five months back, the balloon lifted off from just beside the canal this time, allowing almost everyone to witness the ascent of this colossal object. Under Roland's plan, the hydrogen balloon, which could move anywhere without hindrance, was advanced enough to be used as a short-distance bomber during this era. With the fleet behind it providing logistical support, this earmarked the beginning of the generation of aircraft carrier combat.
Standing on the pier, the soldiers of the First Army burst into fervent applause. They knew well that no enemy was able to resist an aerial attack and therefore their wise and benevolent lord was certain to win this war.
Quickly, the hydrogen balloon drifted to the sky directly above King's City. From its perspective, the majestic capital was only about the size of a palm. Lightning pulled down her windshield goggles and gestured to Wendy to release the bomb. The latter nodded back at her and pulled the mechanism.
Shortly, a bomb dislodged from its frame and fell towards the ground.
Another difference of this aerial attack from previous times was that Anna was not onboard but was replaced by Hummingbird. Under the effect of the latter's sustained magic power, the four carried bombs weighed only a fifth of their usual weight as long as they did not detach from each other. This type of enchantment was a new method discovered by Hummingbird while she was cultivating her mastery of magic power. By maintaining the effect for a very short period of time, she could alter the weight of multiple connected objects and reduce the expenditure of magic.
Lightning easily caught up with the bomb and guided it towards the mangonel situated on one side of the city gate.
Halfway through the air, the young girl perceived the fear in the eyes of the knights standing on top of the city wall. They raised their crossbows and flintlocks, and fired towards the sky to shoot her down. However, she knew that it was difficult enough for them to hit a bird flying freely in the sky, not to mention that most weapons did not have sufficient range to hit her at her current distance.
Subsequently, the bomb hit the mangonel right on, and following a huge boom, a blazing red fireball lit up at once and swelled rapidly. The nearby guards were unable to dodge it in time and were instantly devoured by the flames. As violent blasts swept across the city wall, the oil boilers toppled and were quickly ignited. The blazes followed the spill flow of the hot oil and ignited the explosives that were placed at one corner. Explosions followed one after another, destroying everything in the vicinity and filling the place with nothing but flames and thick smoke. The knights, who were preparing for battle just a while ago, hastily fled in all directions. Many lost their direction in the thick smoke and fell straight down the city wall. Others floundered about in the sea of fire or rolled on the floor to put out the flames on their bodies.
The top of the city wall had turned into hell on earth.
"Their defense line has collapsed," commented Sylvie. She was observing the billows of thick smoke on the city wall, with a trace of pity in her expression.
"These people deserve it," added Nightingale, who was expressionless. "If we failed, they would've become even worse."
"Someone has to pay the price in this battle. If it isn't them, it's us," Roland opined, while pretending to be calm. He then beckoned to Iron Axe behind him. "Blow the horn and order the seizure of this city."
He did not want to lament the cruelty of war or expound the value of peace at this time. Above a fight for power or a battle for survival, this was a collision of ideas and classes. Whenever a backward class was displaced, it would not leave the stage quietly, but rather, it needed to be sent off with a huge amount of bloodshed.
To Roland, it was always better that the blood was spilt by the enemies.
"As you command, Your Highness!" The latter bowed neatly and departed the ship.
Soon, the signal for the general offensive resounded through the pier area.
As a member of the Fourth Commando, Nail's target was to destroy the palace gate.
As the platoon entered the Inner City, its advance was abruptly impeded. Here, they faced a strong counterattack from the enemy.
"Edgar's injured, carry him down quickly!"
"F*ck, where's the field artillery?"
"They are blocked off by debris and have to detour!"
"Prepare the weapons. These monsters are charging right up!"
Nail slapped his own cheek forcefully before he filled a cartridge with bullets and handed it to a teammate in front of him. A volley of rifle fire sounded, puncturing thousands of holes in the crazed people charging at them. Blood splattered all over as they fell to the ground. Those who followed behind continued to pounce at the commandos recklessly. They did not slow down even if their arms, abdomens or other body parts had been struck.
These were certainly not militiamen. Nail felt his limbs become numb. The enemies were wearing either half-plates or chain armors and wielded excellent weapons, with everything from swords to crossbows. He had heard from the knowledgeable Jon that only the king's guards possessed such a complete range of equipment. Unfortunately for Jon, his knowledge was not able to protect him at last. During a previous assault by the enemy, he was critically impaled by a bolt that was shot at him from sideways.
Hope he can persevere until Miss Angel arrives.
"Retreat, the Fourth Commando, retreat!"
"The three squads are ready to fire!"
The veterans, with no concern about economizing their use of bullets, shot precisely at their targets. In one breath, they emptied their cartridges and immediately retreated to the back line, so as to shorten the time interval between the suppression fires. Five commando teams took turns to shield the others along the main street. This was the first time that Nail had seen this method of taking turns to fire ever since revolving rifles replaced flintlocks.
However, their enemies did not attack from only one direction.
Suddenly, a platoon of crazed people leapt at them from a streetside house. Before most of the veterans could turn their guns, the platoon was already in their midst.
Screams and curse were heard at once. Nail watched helplessly as a teammate was cut into half by a red-eyed guard right in front of him. Although the guard was shortly struck dead by the other teammates, Nail knew that this particular teammate could not be resuscitated even by Miss Angel herself.
"Where are those bastard artillerymen?"
"Help me! Ouch... my legs!"
As he heard his captain screaming instructions, Nail gritted his teeth and used his sleeve to wipe off the blood stains on a cartridge. He picked up a gun on the floor and reloaded it with the cartridge. Then, he aimed at an enemy who was tussling with his teammates and pulled the trigger.
Although he was afraid, the trainings that he had attended reminded him constantly that while facing a strong opponent, it was necessary to stick closely with his platoon and make use of the team's collective strength in order to have a chance of survival.
Just then, Nail heard the loud call of a support unit from behind him. "The artillery battalion has run into trouble on East Street. Lord Brian has sent us to assist you!"
"No matter who you people are, hurry forth!" The captain cried out without looking back once.
The support unit pulled two carts up the street. Noticeably, the weapons equipped on the carts were none other than Mark I type HMG. When their shooting positions were fixed, the guns discharged long rows of fire at the new wave of charging crazed army.