Section 3: Cannon
A series of cannonballs fell where we had been standing a moment before.
This is my first time getting a taste of an artillery bombardment, but the impact is way too huge. Unicorn’s barriers are protecting us from the debris flying through the air, but they wouldn’t even slow down one of those shells if we were to take a direct hit.
[Ashel]: “M-My apologies. I wasn’t sure if Rinrin-sama would require…….”
[Litzreich]: “I’m a weak little girl too you know……. But well, you made the right call. It would be a serious matter if Iris were to get injured.”
[Lapris]: “Oi Toslin. Someone’s shooting at us aren’t they?”
Lapris popped her head out of Unicorn’s mane along with the gnome sisters. All three of them had evacuated there when things started exploding.
[Toslin]: “Yeah, seems like it. The sound of something being fired. The ground exploding around us. The only thing missing is the smell of gunpowder.”
[Carol]: “We can keep running, but the castle gates are closed. I could try and scale the walls on my own, but what do you think I should do?”
Carol had somehow split off to do some reconnaissance and returned without me even realizing she had gone. With the information she had gathered, she suggested a plan.
Surrounding the chalk white castle was a tall, thick stone wall that rose nearly thirty meters into the air. The two bombardments from before probably came from somewhere up there.
I took a moment to look beyond the castle gates through Phoeniko’s eyes as she flew overhead. From a glance I counted more than ten cannons with smoke billowing out of the tips.
[Toslin]: “You can ask me what to do…….but all I can do back is ask, what the hell are we going to do? I might be from a family of knights, but it’s not like they taught me how to storm a castle. Especially with such a small number of people.”
[Carol]: “But if we’re going to save the gnomes’ sister, we have no choice but to get back there.”
[Toslin]: “Yeah I know. Grr, all this dirt in my hair is making me feel gross.”
The ring of the bombardment never died out of the air. One explosion after another continued to rock the ground, causing a shower of dirt to spray around us immediately afterwards.
The defensive barriers were constantly on the move to block out any of the debris from hitting us.
I had several barriers overlap each other and tried to catch one of the shells once. However just as I expected, the strength of the fired cannonballs was too tremendous and shattered the barriers without slowing down.
[Toslin]: “Fuu……finally. We should be safe for the time being this far out.”
I had to sacrifice almost all of my barriers, but we managed to get far enough away from the castle that we were out of the cannons’ range.
We repositioned ourselves to in front of the castle. We were near the door we would probably have come through if we had made our way here through the ordinary route.
[Rose]: “Ashel-sama, how do we enter the castle?”
Even though she had to run here with such a heavy shield, Rose-san’s breathing was almost undisturbed. Even though I’m practically wheezing after riding Unicorn here.
Ashel-sama was pensive when Rose-san asked.
[Ashel]: “Assuming this is the same as Oshunel castle, the walls are solid, and it’ll be almost impossible for us to destroy them. Carotayle-san, would you really be able to scale the walls?”
Carol nodded after taking a long drink from her canteen.
[Carol]: “Yeah. It’ll be impossible for me to carry anyone with, but I could do it on my own.”
[Toslin]: “Now just hold on a minute. Don’t tell me……you’re thinking of having Carol open the gate on her own…….”
[Ashel]: “I’m sorry Toslin-san. We have only a few people here and no large weapons…….I am only making a plan based off what we have on hand.”
[Toslin]: “…….you seriously…….”
Toslin wasn’t acting like herself, ignoring the status of the person she was speaking to and clicking her tongue.
[Carol]: “…..okay. I will open it up. But since I don’t know how to do that, you’ll have to tell me……”
[Toslin]: “Stop. It’s too dangerous. We’ll think of something else.”
Toslin waved her hand, cutting off Carol’s words.
[Carol]: “……I’m more than able of climbing it though?”
[Toslin]: “Even if she can climb it, there’s no guarantee she will be able to open the gate. And do you know how many enemies there will be guarding the gate even if she did know how to open it? What is she going to do if it breaks out into a fight and she is all on her own?”
[Ashel]: “That is……”
[Carol]: “I wouldn’t say anything about your judgement in the dungeon, but this is different.”
Despite Carol’s dissatisfied protests, Toslin’s gaze was focused solely on Ashel-sama–seemingly intent on ignoring any objections.
[Toslin]: “I’m sorry, but I am rejecting that plan as party leader.”
[Ashel]: “I understand. It is indeed risky, and if there is another option available to us, we should most certainly do that.”
[Toslin]: “Iris. Sorry, but could you take another look at the castle gates from the air? You should be able to see through Phoeniko’s eyes still right?”
[Iris]: “Yeah, I can. Actually, I’m already doing it…….ah, there are some golems down there.”
[Toslin]: “Are they bold loires?”
[Iris]: “They’re……too small I think? They might be about the size of a person, maybe a little bigger.”
Past the castle’s ramparts, there was a group of golem shaped knights facing the castle’s main gate as if at the ready for some kind of breach. The reason why I managed to pick them out as golems was because their skin was a bright white. Their faces were exposed beneath their armor, and they were blank, white palettes like statues carved from marble. There were a couple of them riding horses, but the horses were all made from a pure white granite as well. And none of them were moving at all.
[Iris]: “I think there are…….a hundred, maybe two? Almost a third of them are on horseback. I guess they would be the cavalry? But so far none of them are moving. I count twenty cannons as well. There are golems manning them. It doesn’t seem like any of them are going to be moving either.”
[Toslin]: “……so around two hundred enemies and sixty steeds. We might be able to handle those numbers, but we’d be in trouble if they managed to separate us.”
Cannons, thick walls, and a huge castle gate. Then around 300 enemies to top things off. There are too many obstacles we need to clear if we are going to reach the throne room where Linzflare-san will be waiting for us.
Should I fully summon Phoenix and have her destroy the castle gate? But it’s too big for her to be able to immediately destroy it, and during that time, she will be subjected to a rain of cannon fire. I don’t want her to get hurt.
(Actually, what does happen when Unicorn or Phoenix gets injured………?)
It was right as I started getting distracted by my stray thoughts.
≪For our sister≫
≪Do our best≫
Mippo and Moppo jumped down from Unicorn’s mane and began shuffling around the soil.
≪What should we make?≫
≪What should we make?≫
[Iris]: “Huh? Can you use the soil to make something?”
≪Just tell us≫
The biggest barrier standing in our way would be that gate. If it really is the same as the one in Oshunel Castle, it is over thirty meters tall and several tens of centimeters thick.
We can’t realistically expect a sword or hammer to be able to break through that. If there’s something that could, it would be………that.
[Iris]: “Then……a cannon?”
One of our own to use as we wish.
That group of cannons on the castle walls easily smashed through Unicorn’s defensive barriers. There’s been one thing tugging at the back of my mind ever since the initial shock of that first bombardment faded away.
Who made them?
My mind naturally drifted to a certain two little girls. And it looks like my intuition was spot on.
[Lapris]: “Woah, are you serious!? Make it huge!! So huge that’ll bust open that stupid gate into a million little splinters!!”
Thus, it was completed.
In five minutes. In less time than it would take me to get ready in the morning, two cannon barrels large enough for me to fit a whole me inside were standing before us.
[Litzreich]: “…..T-These…….what is the principle behind them? From soil to iron……and even gunpowder……”
Litzreich’s excitement was oozing out of her as she looked the newly-built cannons over.
[Ashel]: “And in such short time. A truly tremendous ability.”
Ashel-sama’s stunned expression paired with Litzreich’s jubilant excitement.
[Carol]: “Can all gnomes do this?”
[Toslin]: “I’m not sure. If they could, we would be able to put every blacksmith and carpenter on the continent out of business.”
[Rose]: “Oneesama, this is……”
[Saluena]: “It could be an ability unique to their species or it might be an ability they obtained after living for over a millennia. Either way, it is something to behold.
Mippo and Moppo were doing a celebratory jig on top of the barrel. They look like they’re having fun. Actually, these two always look like they are having fun.
[Lapris]: “Go, Fire Fire!! Blow that gate to smithereens!!”
There was electricity in the air as Lapris pointed towards the castle gate, and the gnome sisters gave her a salute while snapping their feet together like a good pair of soldiers.
Spinning on their heels, Mippo and Moppo stuck out their clenched fists towards the castle.
[???]: “――!? Close your ears!!”
I’m not sure who figured out what was about to happen, but their voice rang out just in time for me to cover my hands over my ears.
Because a second later,
Fire spewed from the cannon’s end, and the sound of thunder shook my very bones. At the same time, Mippo and Moppo were thrown backwards through the air from the impact.
A red hot cannonball flew almost parallel to the ground.
But after closing almost half the distance, the shell started to stall and its distance away from the ground began to dwindle.
[Iris]: “Ah, the ground…….”
It touched ground, and I was certain it would explode immediately after.
I was proven wrong when the cannonball bounced off the ground and began rocketing forward instead.
[Litzreich]: “Woah!? It bounced, so if it continues on like this……..”
Both of the fired cannonballs made contact with the gate, and in the next instant, a huge explosion rocked the castle wall.
Mippo and Moppo climbed back on top of the cannon’s barrel in response to Saluena’s praise and struck a pose.
≪We did it≫
Plumes of smoke rose into the air. After enough time passed that the wind could blow it away, a large hole in the gate came into plain view.