Another long prepared fleet set off from the upstream of the camp. This fleet was different from the raft fleet that was the vanguard just now. The cabin of the boats were made very wide and the hull was relatively flat. The punts were loaded with thick planks of worked wood. There were two types of people on the fleet, one was the soldiers holding shields against the rain of arrows, and the other was a team of experienced military engineers.
The second fleet passed unimpeded through the wooden stakes burned by the ancient holy fire, braving the rain of arrows shot from the Blackstone Fortress, approaching the isolated island in the middle of the river.
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All the boats spread out on the river, the hulls of the boats closely arranged together, forming a horizontal belt connecting the bank of the Lacey River on the right and the small island in the center of the river. When the boats were side by side, the soldiers on board quickly threw iron cables to the neighboring boats on the left and right. The iron chains tightly connected the entire fleet, the head and rear boats were slightly larger than the other boats, and from them heavy anchors were thrown into the water.
On the Blackstone Fortress, the iron arrows shot through the air making “swooshing” sounds. Although there were soldiers holding up their shields to block it, the dense rain of arrows still posed a huge threat to these soldiers whose task was to build the pontoon bridge.
One after another, soldiers were shot by arrows and fell headlong into the rushing river. The surface of the water was instantly stained with patches of blood, and the river began to become turbid.
Laying the planks of the pontoon bridge was the most dangerous juncture, and it was also the point in the battle when the loss rate of manpower was the highest. The King sent another fleet to arrive near the Blackstone Fortress with longbowmen on board to prevent the enemy from coming down from the Blackstone Fortress and destroying the head boat and anchorage.
The King watched the progress of the construction of the pontoon bridge in the Lacey River on the river bank.
Under the rain of enemy arrows, the number of military engineers and shield soldiers on Legrand’s fleet gradually decreased.
General Sheehan raised the flag at the reserve fleet.
In order to launch today’s attack, almost all of Legrand’s military engineer teams were sent by General Sheehan to chop wood to build temporary military warships and other siege equipment. Under the orders of General Sheehan, the reserve fleet paddled their oars quickly and arrived near the pontoon bridge that was gradually erected.
At this time, the previous fleet had almost all been damaged by the arrow rain from the fortress.
On the half-built pontoon bridge, some of the corpses of military engineers hung on the iron chains, and some lay on half-paved wooden boards. Blood flowed from the wooden boards into the Lacey River, and was quickly washed away by the icy water. But soon, new blood dripped down again, dyeing this section of the river into a lingering pale red.
On the fortress, General Vulture organized a group of soldiers, lowered a drawbridge, and the rebels armed with sharp axes rushed to the head ship on the island.
The longbowmen who had been waiting for a long time drew their bowstrings without hesitation.
The rebels were like Legrand’s soldiers who built the pontoon bridge, their lives were taken away by sharp arrows, continuously falling down one after the other on the way to the head boat of the pontoon bridge.
On the broad Lacey River, the pontoon bridge was erected little by little. This was a bridge stained red with blood.
When the last plank was laid, the King ordered without hesitation.
Under the leadership of the King, the long-awaited large army quickly advanced across the pontoon bridge.
This was the moment to test one’s courage. Although the pontoon bridge on the rapid Lacey River was fixed by iron cables, when the cavalry passed by, the bridge deck still continued to rise and fall with the trampling of the iron horse hooves, the river water splashing up from under the bridge and landing on the knights’ armors.
On the top floor of the tower, General Vulture saw the King, surrounded by the scarlet royal banner, leading the Iron Rose Cavalry in a march through the rain of arrows. They were fast and wore excellent armor. The rebel army did not have good archers like Legrand’s longbowmen, and the arrows falling from high altitudes could not hit the horses of the cavalry like they would on the flat ground to stop them from moving forward.
The Iron Rose Cavalry quickly landed on the isolated island in the middle of the river.
The Blackstone Fortress was located in the center of the isolated island. It was an octagonal fortress as a whole, with a tall tower on each corner.
There were double-layer defenses of wooden stakes that surrounded the fortress. Once the enemy attacking the fortress approached, they must first break through the defense of the wooden stakes. However, there were also many archery holes at the bottom of the tower. Once the infantry attacking the fortress approached, they would be greeted by a dense attack of flying arrows from the archery hole at close range and the asphalt and hot oil falling from the top of the tower.
But the Iron Rose Cavalry galloping by like a breeze could not be stopped by the arrows at the bottom level. The cavalry circled the fort tower, shooting arrows from atop their horses.
The light cavalry led by the King, carried special fire arrows on their backs. The arrowheads were not refined iron, but a special fuel wrapped in waxed paper.
The arrows flew out rapidly, and the fire blazed on the arrows. The arrows lit with fire hit the wooden stakes around the tower. More and more arrows landed, and the fire gradually rolled up. Finally, it jumped upwards in the blowing wind. In the archery hole behind the double-layer wooden stake defense, the archers of the rebel army were scorched by the heat wave, black smoke poured in from the archery hole, and the entire bottom level of the Blackstone Fortress was instantly filled with suffocating smoke.
The rebel archers had to flee upwards from the ladders in the tower, and the wooden stakes that were originally used for defense aided their enemy instead at this time.
There was no snow today, so the fire got stronger and stronger with the help of the wind, the flames rolling into the high air, and the black smoke was sent to the upper floors of the tower. The sight of the archers was blocked, and the rain of arrows falling from the sky was affected and weakened. Taking advantage of this opportunity, General Sheehan on the other side of the river led the remaining large infantry force to cross the Lacey River by the pontoon bridge with a tall battering ram.
Several oath knights of the King were sent to temporarily protect James at this time.
Even the most proud knight had to admit that even if he couldn’t swing a sword to kill the enemy and couldn’t charge on horseback, James himself definitely had the courage to stand shoulder to shoulder with any knight.
Almost every day, James risked being shot by the archers of the fortress while observing the Blackstone Fortress from various angles and in various ways, and successfully drew down the structure of the fortress with his own architectural experience and observations, marking out the positions of all the archery holes on the fortress, and finally successfully calculating where the fortress was most vulnerable.
The military engineers who arrived at the fortress first had cloth strips blocking their noses and mouths. They filled up the trenches in front of the Blackstone Fortress with boulders, soil, and branches.
After the trenches were filled, the military engineers approached the bottom of the solid Blackstone Fortress. At this time, the fire was still burning. The engineers poured cold water on the flames at the attack point chosen by James, and began to dig tunnels from that point. Compared with the solid Blackstone Fortress itself, the foundation on which the fortress stood was far less solid.
The soil layer was dug up quickly, and the military engineers carefully took out the gunpowder from the box carried on their backs.
On today’s battlefield, towards a strong castle, gunpowder was just a monster that made loud noises and raised bravado. Even if the two chemist brothers of the King’s Lunatic Academy improved gunpowder from powder to granular form——it was still not enough to shake a solid fortress.
But the King didn’t intend to use it to directly blast the Blackstone Fortress, but planned to use the more powerful gunpowder to expand the damage to this corner of the fortress.
After the military engineers placed the explosives, they retreated quickly.
In the “rumbling” explosion, soil and some gravel were lifted up high, and several military engineers who underestimated the power of the explosion and did not retreat far enough were caught in the waves of the explosion. They were knocked out by the impact of the explosion and fell heavily on the ground with blood all over their face and head.
No one helped them, life was the least valuable thing on the battlefield of life and death, and the huge battering ram pushed from behind even directly crushed a collapsed military engineer.
Braving the enemy’s arrows and stepping on the blood of their comrades, the soldiers pushed the huge battering ram to approach the bottom of the tower where the foundation was blasted a hole by the gunpowder.
James was the man who commanded the battering ram, and he had made improvements to the giant siege machinery according to the King’s orders.
In a siege, generally used were huge battering rams and trebuchets, in addition to siege towers. But this time the fortress they were going to attack was made of black stone, which was so hard that ordinary trebuchets were of little use. So James modified the battering ram, reducing its damage range but increasing its impact force.
The main body of the battering ram was made of Ingres’ hard millennium old ironwood tree trunk, and was placed in a triangular frame with a height of two people by iron cables. In this era, a giant siege machine like this had blasted through many solid city walls.
At this time, more than sixty tall and strong warriors pushed the battering ram to the position that James personally confirmed, pulled the rope together, shouted, and pulled back. The iron chain hanging the battering ram made a “creaking” sound, and the heavy battering ram was pulled back little by little.
General Vulture, who stood up high, discovered the battle situation in this corner of the fortress, and while he waved back the smoke in front of him, he directed the archers to quickly move closer to that part of the tower.
The arrows rained down from the tower like rain droplets.
James laughed triumphantly at the battering ram.
In order to meet the King’s request, he installed a bunker similar to a sloping canopy on the top of the battering ram. The roof slanted to cover the wheels and push rods of the battering ram, protecting the soldiers pushing it as much as possible under its roof. However, this device had a limited service life. Once it was attacked for too long, there was a possibility that it would collapse and in turn injure its own soldiers.
But before that, the military engineers had already used the new version of gunpowder to blast the foundations at the bottom of this corner of the tower in aid of the battering ram!
“God bless Legrand!”
The junior officer in command roared loudly, and as soon as he waved the flag, more than sixty soldiers let go of their hands together.
The iron chains were stretched forward almost instantly, and the rattling sound of the iron chains irritated everyone’s eardrums. The heavy battering ram hit the wall of the Blackstone Tower with a terrible sound.
The fine iron hammer hit the point that James carefully calculated, time and time again. The soldiers’ foreheads were covered with sweat, their shouts coming from the top of their lungs.
Cobweb-like cracks appeared on the tower wall.
When the battering ram collided with the wall for the last time, the noise was completely different from the previous few times. The wall of the tower finally couldn’t bear the pressure any longer, and it shattered suddenly. The iron chains on which hung the battering hammer slammed into the tower, and broken stones flew everywhere.
“My calculations are correct!”
Amidst the loud noise, James cheered. He grabbed his pen and began to scribble on the piece of paper he carried with him. Just when he was obsessively trying to record the conclusion, the oath knights who were closely guarding him raised their shields and dragged him out from under the battering ram roof.
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Accompanied by a loud bang, the roof of the battering ram, which could no longer withstand the attack, crashed down, and the soldiers on either side of the battering ram fled in all directions.
On the other side, the King who had long been awaiting, pointed with his long sword:
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