According to Roland's plan, the firing would not stop once it had started.

The first, five rounds of the volley turned around 20 beasts, in the first row, into ashes. Then, in the free shooting time, the rapid firing, emptying ammunition, paired with the ignition of black powder, created a grand roaring momentum.

Thus, as the firing continued to ring out, the atmosphere created by this scene ushered in a new upsurge. The frequent blasts created a cloud of almost endless dust that made the surrounding 1,500-foot radius look like an impending doomsday. Occasionally a ricocheting stone would crush a cage and if the beast survived it would flee, choosing to run away, instead of rushing to the wall.

Fear had overridden their bloodthirsty instincts.

However, only a few would escape this land of the dead.

The strong waves radiating from underground had already begun to rupture their guts, deafen their ears, and blind their eyes. Most of the fleeing beasts did not make it far before they fell back to the ground, where they were devoured by the continuing explosives.

"This is nothing when compared to the war against the church," Andrea shouted while covering her ears, her face full of pride. The witches from Wolfheart stared at Andrea, eyes wide with shock. "At that time there were only two cannons, but we still had hundreds of flintlock gun and iron cannons of a smaller sizes. The enemy wasn't demonic beasts in cages, but the men of God's Punishment Army who were fast and strong. At the moment when the battle was most fierce, the bullets were flying all around the entire battlefield. If anyone were to poke their head out from the cover they would definitely get themselves killed. That was a real battle."

Amy looked shocked, "Really?"

"No wonder the church lost the battle." Hero sighed, "It's beyond any human being's skills."

"Aren't you afraid of seeing such a scene?" Broken Sword looked admirably at Andrea.

Andrea smoothed down her billowing hair during an interval between the explosions and said, "Of course, you'll become accustomed to it after you've seen more. I have witnessed the whole process of a battle and personally killed two soldiers of the God's Punishment Army!"

She had completely forgotten that she had been as just shocked and astonished by the scenes of battle when she climbed up the city wall for the first time. It seemed that she now regarded Neverwinter as her second home and she couldn't even control her feeling of pride when she was talking about its weapons.

Most of the witches only stood there watching the show, however, Phyllis observed the events more carefully.

When the demonic beasts in the first row were bombarded, she didn't care too much—Mad Demons from this distance would also threaten the soldiers on the wall with their spears. When the common people were confronted with the bone spears, that dropped from above as violently as a Mighty Storm, how long would they be able to hold their defenses against the enemy even though their weapons, the so-called Longsong Cannon, were dramatically more powerful?

However, when they turned their fire to the second row of cages, her expression changed.

Was that the common king's reasoning for arranging the beasts in this manner? So he could gauge the cannon range? The last row of cages was over 3,000 feet from the wall. If the Longsong Cannon was able to hit that area, it meant that the cannon had a shooting range that rivaled that of the Siege Beasts', with a much higher lethality.

The Siege Beast had always been the most troublesome demon weapon for the Union. This weapon has a striking distance that is farther than any mangonel or ballista. Which made the witches have no choice but to rely on Transcendents to lead the Blessed Army to charge into the enemy's position. In this way, even if they succeeded in crushing the Siege Beasts, they would not be able to avoid a large number of casualties. However, if they had a long-range striking weapon like this, it wouldn't be impossible for them to successfully defend the Holy City of Taquila.

Phyllis wondered if this was the ultimate weapon of Neverwinter as well as the reason why Agatha had such faith in Roland.

After she asked Ice Witch this question, she just shook her head and smiled.

"Setting the target 3,000 feet away was only to meet the needs of the audience... because a target further away would affect the view of the exercise. According to His Majesty, the shooting range for the new cannon was over six miles, ten times further than its present range," Agatha turned her head to whisper in Phyllis' ear, "In other words, it could hit somewhere out of the manipulator's sight."

Ten times? Phyllis was astonished. Although she did not quite understand what foot and mile meant, a distance that was ten times that of the current range could cover some of the demon's outposts. Did that mean, if the cannons were placed on the wall of Taquila the shells could directly hit the demons' lair?

How was that possible?

How could they ensure that the weapon would hit an enemy that's out of our view?

Agatha noticed her abstraction and continued to elaborate, "But, to hit a target so far away is not easy. It requires a lot of calculation and improvement of the aiming equipment, and I've heard that the astrologers are working on it. It appears that His Majesty intended to write a shooting range list from which they will be able to calculate the location where the shell will hit on the basis of the pre-launch data. Through this method, the shell should hit the enemy precisely, even if it is thousands of feet away."

"Are you sure?" Phyllis clenched her teeth. "Doesn't that mean that as long as we make a few more cannons, the demons won't even be able to get near the city wall?"

"Yeah, His Majesty said that this kind of strike would be called a scrubbing..." Agatha shrugged and said, "probably a name pulled from the idea of 'scrubbing' dirty things on the ground. It's a little hard to pronounce but it sounds very appropriate."

Phyllis hesitated for a second before whispering close to Agatha's ear, "Er... Can you make the cannons?"

Agatha looked at her for a moment and waited for a new round of explosions to pass before saying, "I know what you are asking. I did provide some of the materials in the shell, however, it takes way more than two people to make it."

"Even witches?"

"Far from enough... Do you know how many common people work in the chemical plant of Neverwinter? Nearly 2,000 people and the number is still growing!" Agatha sighed, "But, what they do there is no more than make explosives from acids, greases, and gases, while the production of a cannon is a completely different system. The necessary mine and smeltery have more than 3,000 people working in them, the processing plant has over 1,500 workers, and corresponding technicians to maintain and operate the finished product. How many common people do we have that could work for us even in the Taquila age?"

Phyllis became silent. After Arrieta and Starfall City fell, one after the other, the human beings' territory retreated to the corner of the plains with a plummeting population. By the time Taquila became the last shelter for all people, the number of the common people controlled by the Union was a mere 30,000 to 40,000. However, they were playing the role of supporting the combat witches, logistics, and keeping the city on course etc., it would be impossible to find enough people to manufacture the Longsong Cannons. If Agatha didn't lie to her, even the witches of Taquila at that time were unable to make it, let alone the ones who had been struggling to survive in the underground maze.

Suddenly, the booms from the cannons stopped.

The demonic beasts, in the first two rows, had completely merged with the snow, turning into puddles of blurred flesh and blood. An unearthly silence hung over the wall and no one there spoke. Everyone was staring at the furthest cages as if they were waiting for something.

Phyllis looked quizzically at Agatha, who just smiled back at her.

"Key is coming."

Before Agatha finished speaking, a bright light radiated from the ground, glimmering like a shining sun!

Gerry McKenzy
Author Works