Chapter 583: Rescue (Part 2) [V6C113 - Sorrow of a Silent Parting]
Several kilometers were covered in the blink of an eye. The battle in the air had already ended at this point with hardly any of the Bai clan airships remaining. The ground was covered in black charred pits and the burning ruins of airships. The casualties on the Evernight side were minimal with a loss of forty-odd transports, little more than a third of their entire group. Ten thousand soldiers had been reduced to ashes before they could even land.
In front of them was a half-constructed Bai clan stronghold. Numerous streams of flames shot out from the turrets and lashed at the enemies in the sky like blazing whips.
The large Evernight battleships had all retreated into the air and out of the turrets' reach. Additionally, there were seven or eight smaller high-speed airships looping about at low altitudes, pouring shells into the stronghold while evading defensive fire.
A small vampire battleship made a sudden mistake during evasion and was struck by one of the flaming streams. The impact caused it to shake violently and tumble dozens of times through the air. How could the flaming stream let slip such a good opportunity? It chased the vessel down and struck it several times over, finally causing it to explode.
The violent origin power explosion kicked up powerful winds in the air, and one could almost smell the gunpowder from afar. The other vampire airships scattered like startled birds and flew high into the sky, effectively evading the range of defensive fire.
At this moment, the massive vampire airship slowly arrived above the stronghold, and its hull opened up to reveal a black cannon. Quite unexpectedly, this vessel only had one air-to-ground weapon, but its muzzle was shockingly large—almost, in and of itself, as big as a regular battleship.
The patterns on the vampire battleship lit up one after another and waves of light ripped toward the heavy cannon like tidal waves. The radiance at the muzzle grew brighter and brighter until finally, a mass of light several meters in diameter shot out and fell onto the camp below.
Qianye stared at the light in a daze. He could hardly believe that this was an origin shell fired from a battleship. The origin cannons and shells installed on regular warships were only about a meter in size. The kinetic power consumption of the cannons would climb with the increase in caliber until the ship could no longer withstand the load.
The shell's descent was so slow that it seemed rather unreal, almost as if one could reach out and pluck it from the sky. Even without using True Sight, Qianye could see that the air around the shell was warped and distorted—one could imagine how powerful it was.
A coarse voice resounded in the Bai clan stronghold and rang out like thunder, "Focus all fire on that cannon shell, ignore everything else!"
Several turrets adjusted their aim and fired at the terrifying origin shell with all their might. Judging from the intensity of the flaming streams, it seemed the cannoneers no longer cared about overloading their weapons. They knew, simply from the momentum of this cannon round, that it had to be stopped from hitting the stronghold at all costs.
The origin shell was rapidly weakened and grew smaller and smaller until it finally exploded with a loud bang several dozen meters from the ground. Even so, the impact overturned numerous barracks, and the resultant heat waves ignited the wooden materials and ammunition in the air.
The shell had been successfully detonated in advance. Although it had caused a certain degree of damage to the stronghold, it was still within acceptable range.
But before the Bai clan soldiers could heave a sigh of relief, an earth-shattering rumble emerged from the borders of the stronghold, and a pillar of flames erupted from one of the turrets. Several cannon operators were also thrown into the air and transformed into balls of flame. The turret could no longer withstand the load, and its origin array had self-detonated.
The vampire airship in the sky began preparing for a new round of attacks. After several minutes of charging up, another cannon shell fell down sluggishly. This time, it wasn't just the cannon turrets, but even the experts were taking action. All kinds of origin bullets and beams flew into the sky to chip away at the nightmarish projectile.
There were no additional losses when the shell exploded this time, but no one could muster a smile. Qianye had already discovered that the stronghold turrets were all teetering on the verge of collapse, and the experts had also exhausted much of their origin power. The next defensive wave would surely be even more difficult.
At this moment, a wave of horrified gasps rang out in the stronghold. The vampire warship in the air was actually charging its cannon once more and preparing to fire anew!
Qianye's heart sank to the bottom. He finally understood why this massive vampire warship only had one origin cannon. This powerful cannon was actually able to fire continuously!
Finally, the vampire warship shook violently as it fired at the stronghold below. This final shot also distorted and deformed the muzzle—it had apparently been ruined and could no longer fire. What Qianye could see, those in the Bai clan fortress could see the same. Morale soared as the defensive turrets fired at the incoming shell like there was no tomorrow.
The defensive turrets in the stronghold also blew up one after the other after the last shell was detonated mid-air. In the end, only two of them remained barely functional, and the experts in the stronghold had also consumed most of their origin power.
The vampire airship didn't leave right away. It hovered above the battlefield looking down at the ground.
A crisp bugle call rang out through the wilderness and was soon drowned out by loud roars.
"Enemy attack! Enemy attack!!!" The lookout pointed outside the wall and shouted at the top of his lungs.
While the entire stronghold was busy dealing with the vampire warship, the surviving transport vessels had landed outside the stronghold and released tens of thousands of dark race soldiers. The true elites were still assembling the troops at the back, while the worthless cannon fodder rolled over the earth like a tidal wave.
Tens of thousands of cannon fodder formed the first wave which crashed into the Bai clan stronghold. After three rounds of bombardment, most of the Bai clan's current defenses had been destroyed, and they had lost many cannon turrets. The walls alone were hardly enough to defend against the dark race warriors who could jump several meters in one leap.
Qianye climbed atop a tall slope and observed the battle ahead. The wave of cannon-fodder charging at the Bai clan stronghold was rather different from the ones of the past. There were actually many low-ranking warriors mixed in within them, including werewolves, vampires, and arachne.
After a moment, Qianye's austere expression turned even colder. Judging from the method of their advancement, the cannon-fodder weren't being used to hide elites but as true expendable resources. All veterans with sufficient experience knew what this meant.
The Bai clan soldiers on the walls fired with all their might. Rows of bullets and origin shells shot out and cleared out a large area in the tide, but the enemy numbers were simply too great. The death of a few hundred had very little overall effect.
Several hundred soldiers jumped into the air as the grey tide crashed fiercely into the stronghold. The large servspiders rammed violently into the walls. Their potential had been awakened by a secret art during the charge, sharply increasing their strength and causing them to feel no fear in the face of danger.
The Bai clan soldiers were, of course, familiar with the destructive potential of these spiders. The high-ranking officers focused their fire at them and reduced their numbers by half during the first charge.
But the remaining servspiders rammed forward brainlessly, each leaving depressions on the embedded armor plates. Then, with a couple of pulls, the steel plates came off one after the other.
Without the protection of the steel plates, the walls became extremely fragile before these awakened servspiders. A couple of rounds of ramming soon caused the framed wall to collapse entirely. Several defects soon appeared in the stronghold walls, through which the cannon fodder swarmed in immediately.
But just as they thought they would be able to engage the human soldiers in melee combat, the dark races discovered yet another wall inside. The ground shook and steam machinery rumbled as numerous steel plates descended to seal the doors shut.
Thousands of Bai clan soldiers appeared on the walls and took aim at the dark race warriors. Additionally, some of the soldiers on the front wall also turned back to form a pincer stance.
Atop one of the stronghold towers, Bai Longjia pointed his sword forward and shouted, "Fire!"
Countless black holes appeared on the ground between the two walls and spat out raging flames. The short space between the two walls was soon turned into a purgatory. Meanwhile, the soldiers on the outer wall fired with all their might, mowing down the burning dark race soldiers one after the other.
At this point, the regular dark race army had finished assembling outside the wall and was charging at the wall from a dozen or so directions. An impressive number of cannon fodder still remained even after being caught unaware and suffering severe casualties. The commanding dark race nobles were able to assemble a new assault wave without spending too much time.
Smoke and flowing blood filled the outer wall of the stronghold as the Bai clan warriors fell to overwhelming enemy numbers.
The battle quickly escalated and small battles were taking place in every corner of the battlefield. The occasional dark race squad would manage to charge into the interior but were then surrounded and destroyed by the Bai clan soldiers.
The vampire airships in the air weren't willing to be left out, either, and began lowering their altitude to bombard the stronghold. The Bai clan experts retaliated constantly—their large bore origin sniper rifles and special armor-piercing rounds were able to threaten the corvettes. There were even a couple of handheld cannon rounds mixed in. These were big weapons capable of piercing through a small to medium sized airship. Soon, the vampire warships no longer dared to come too close.
The flames of battle spread quickly into the interior of the fortifications. The tidal wave of dark race soldiers pushed in and began fighting the Bai clan soldiers on every road and in every room.
There were only a couple thousand Bai clan soldiers inside the stronghold—they were greatly disadvantaged in terms of numbers. On the other hand, there was no telling how many powerful experts were overseeing the battle from the vampire warship. Hence, they didn't hold the advantage, either, in terms of experts.
Despite the impending crisis, a calm Bai Longjia was still issuing commands from the tower, using what motorized troops he could muster to fill the gaps in the defensive line.
The entire Bai clan apparently had great faith in Bai Longjia as they completed their assignments to the letter. Each and every defensive line grew shaky as time went on, but quite miraculously, none of them had collapsed just yet.
At this point, the dark races had to pay a steep price for every forward step, and their casualty rates began to soar. However, the order to attack was still being issued one after another, and the expressionless Evernight overseers urged wave after wave of soldiers toward the front lines.
At this moment, the Bai clan stronghold was like a bloodthirsty meat-grinder, crushing the soldiers of both sides to pieces.
A wisp of anxiety had appeared in Bai Longjia's eyes, but his face remained unflustered as he continued to issue commands.
The experts from both sides hadn't entered the battlefield just yet, so there was no final showdown. But the cannon fodder and ordinary soldiers couldn't decide the final outcome no matter how grave the casualties were.
At this moment, an old vampire was sitting with his back against the throne, gazing at the images being transmitted via the origin array. This wizened elder's face was dark and gloomy, almost as though he were a zombie that had climbed out of the grave.
All of a sudden, those lifeless and turbid eyes suddenly focused on a point on the battlefield. He then raised a skeleton-like arm and tapped lightly in the air, enlarging the image on that part of the battlefield.