Alunaha wasn’t a difficult city to attack.
But that was only with a slow and deliberate attack. The city’s weakness lay in its water supply and if that is seized then the city’s fall is inevitable, but it seemed that the defending general has made proper preparations for this scenario.
“Can we take their water supply?”
Cartia nodded at Ri Gudang’s question.
“It can be taken by force since it’s only partially fortified. But we may have a lot of casualties.”
The tone of his aide, the harpy, seemed to be testing him. He felt that her report was suggesting that she would carry out his plans if that was what he wished.
“Let’s not do that.”
“Do you wish to spare the life of the soldiers?”
“Not at all. I’m just saying it will be useless.”
Three days have passed since they have surrounded Alunaha. The rebel army likely cannot operate as a collective force anymore, but it was unlikely that Draco would come this way until he had defeated a certain number of rebels.
And there was Palmyra.
If that poison lady is after something in this situation, then it would be Draco’s head. She worked fast. She must have already made her move. She would stall Draco a little no matter the outcome.
This siege had to be ended with a quick battle, so it would be a bad idea to receive damage to stop their water supply.
“We must take the city within the next couple days. Their morale will fall if we fight as if we’re determined to block their water supply.”
“Then what should we do?”
There are countless ways to attack but his options were limited. Right now, Ri Gudang must destroy the hearts and minds of the soldiers who are holed up in the city instead of the walls surrounding the city.
“How are the responses?”
“I’ve been trying to contact those who seemed like they would be tempted to join you, but it seems that a prominent goblin from the former Benan faction was banished a few days ago.”
“I see. My father too, huh.”
If Ri Gudang’s father, Ryu Giroku, was inside then he could loosen a bolt or two. It was unfortunate that Draco had anticipated that he would get help from his father. Ri Gudang will have to organise a search party for his father when this battle is over.
“How about hiring some mercenaries? We have accumulated a lot of gold and grain from the bandits. I believe we can meet some of their demands.”
“That would also be difficult. The Defending General seems to be keeping the mercenaries in check with generous compensation.”
Ri Gudang crossed his arms with a snort.
It seemed that Draco was blessed with many subjects. Whenever Ri Gudang got something, the other side also got something else. The only generals under Ri Gudang at the moment are the Night Demon, Safort and Cartia. These two were enough to lead a more nomadic-like army, but he wanted more.
But that was a matter for another day. First, he had to somehow snatch the castle city in front of him.
“Very well. Then, let’s negotiate for peace. What is the defending general’s name?”
“I heard his name is Shulicia, the lizardman, but peace?”
“Their main force isn’t in the city. If you kill the general, then the city will immediately fall.”
He was going to launch a surprise attack.
Display a gold ring symbolising submission and an iron chain symbolising conflict on a flagpole to send a proposal for peace discussions to the defending general. If Shulicia ignores it then he will continue his siege, but if Shulicia brazenly comes out of the city then he will take his head. It doesn’t take much time nor effort to try this method and the result is tremendous.
He would be infamous for a while but that doesn’t matter at this point. Obtaining this castle city would be the same as becoming the <Barbarian King> and his superiority would not be shaken even if other demon kings make a bit of a fuss. The <Barbarian King> title held that much power.
“… Then, I will arrange that.”
Cartia had her subordinates bring a flagpole which she had probably prepared beforehand.
He utilised her clever and impertinent demeanour since he considered it an asset. It wasn’t easy to come by a subordinate who was this capable even if he were to offer a fortune.
The flagpole was raised before Ri Gudang’s eyes.
The city responded with a hail of arrows and rocks. They were all mercenaries but perhaps they were more united than he believed.
“Shulicia, was it? He seems to be a warrior with a lot of backbone.”
It would be fun to have him as one of his subordinates when the castle city falls. He was a goblin shaman, and his subordinates are harpies and night demons. Although it wasn’t as big as Draco’s who had formed an alliance with the ‘mud slurpers’, it was becoming a camp with a reasonable range of races. What kind of <Barbarian King> would he be if he didn’t have the ability to command a lizardman?
“Alright. If that’s what he wants, then I’ll reciprocate. Cartia, attack the city with Safort.”
“With brute force?”
“Alunaha is a large city, and there aren’t enough soldiers to defend all of its walls. You will fly up and check where the soldiers are stationed and force on places where there aren’t that many soldiers.”
“As you wish.”
Now it was a simple race for speed.
Would Draco return first, or would Ri Gudang bring down the city first?
He had absolutely no intention of losing.
The main battleground was now at the southern rampart.
This was the place that Shulicia didn’t want attacked.
Ri Gudang focused 1,500 of his men in this area without hesitation.
The reason was clear. The southern defences were the thinnest. Shulicia, who was in charge of Alunaha’s civil affairs, was also charged with the overall repair and reconstruction of the city walls, but this part of the city had been postponed out of consideration for their relationship with the <Gonane>.
The walls were in disrepair even though it wasn’t visibly crumbling. The outer walls, which hadn’t been cared for in a long time, were chipped here and there and there were enough openings for able-bodied infantrymen to crawl up without ladders.
The cause of the wall’s destruction was none other than the <Gonane>. There was always a fierce battle near the southern walls when the Alunaha was still under the rule of the goblin shaman Demon King, Benan.
The <Clairvoyant> Benan was apparently aware of the condition of the city walls. He had repaired them many times but the repeated expense of repairing them had finally made him decide to leave them alone. The <Gonane’s> goal was not to conquer Alunaha but rather to engage in punitive war. Why not leave the walls as they are if they’re going to be destroyed anyway?
Shulicia knew the <Gonane> well as a lizardman. Lizardmen and <Gonane> are rare in the Demon Realm but they weren’t that rare in the south, so Shulicia had to pay attention to their temperament.
The <Gonane> who had been at odds with the <Barbarian King> were also unusually concerned with the defence of their castle. Draco was fortunate to be allied with them but strengthening the southern defences which faced Baal Gonane, their stronghold, might provoke, Chef Gilgida, the <Gonane’s> Demon King.
Shulicia had once sent a messenger to Baal Gonane to inquire about the possibility of repairing the southern walls, but Chef’s reply was cold, “It’s not necessary”.
So Shulicia postponed the repairs to the south. In retrospect, it was a foolish choice but there was no use regretting it now. After all, he had ordered this himself. The lizardman felt greatly ashamed at expressing petty grievances over this matter.
“Shoot them! Hurl arrows at them!”
They shot arrows, threw gravel and boiling water on the attacking night demons and goblins. The mercenaries were grouped together. This was their arrangement. Shulicia only needed to give out general orders.
Still, he raised his voice. He gave the order as if delirious from a fever. Crushing the enemy with immense violence as if he was doing it himself made him feel excited. Shulicia was fascinated by the allure of war.
Boiling gruel was also poured down from the city walls. This was an old military tactic which was used to break the enemy’s fighting spirit. Oil was hot, but gruel was sticky and didn’t just slip off. The soldiers who are doused with gruel are sometimes burnt more severely than those who are doused with oil.
Wisdom was the key to victory on the battlefield. This was the way Shulicia, who was appointed as a civil official, could fight on the battlefield.
This castle will not fall. At least, not until Draco returned.
There were no siege tools and no time to dig tunnels. The enemy can only attack by force. There were only a few mercenaries, but he wasn’t lacking in manpower, especially if they were only tasked with guarding the southern wall.
They will win.
This certainty made Shulicia’s heart tremble.
The enemy’s pressure slightly weakened as if sensing his emotions. They didn’t know what they should do. He was certain of this. Even if they couldn’t repel the enemy, the Goddess of Time will bring him victory if they continue doing what they were doing.
The mercenaries were relieved when they saw that Shulicia, who had raised his voice earlier, had calmed down. Optimism was dangerous but pessimism was also harmful.
At that moment, the sky got dark.
He looked up at the sky to see if a bird had blocked the sun. Lizardmen’ eyes were sensitive to the sun. The hazy shadow had wings. Was it a bird?
No, it was a harpy. A harpy holding a flaming arrow.
“Oh no! The oil!”
The flaming arrow was released before he could finish his sentence. It hit the pot of hot oil and burst into flames. As if on cue, fire arrows fired from below.
Don’t be flustered. A calm and composed mind was needed at times like this.
The mercenaries, whose morale wasn’t high to begin with, were torn between whether they should put out the fire, fight the enemies who were coming up or flee.
Don’t run away, put out the fire. Those words wouldn’t escape from his lips no matter what he did. Why couldn’t he say those words even though he was so eloquent when presenting civil policies to his lord?
His weakness of not being accustomed to warfare had chosen the worst time to rear its ugly head. Why couldn’t he say a single word when he could analyze himself so calmly.
The mercenaries were becoming increasingly unsettled.
The defending general gave them no instructions in this situation. It was unusual. Was something bad happening? The older mercenaries looked at Shulicia with resentment. Why did his tongue work so well when it wasn’t needed but didn’t when it was?
Shulicia gathered all the courage he had and opened his mouth. Anything is fine. It doesn’t matter what it was. It doesn’t matter if he told them to put out the fire or to engage with the enemy.
“… W-What is it?”