Jule and Parn observed the Royal Army camp from afar, before retracing their steps and entering a ruined house that had enough space for their people.
Dust fell from the roof everytime the Royal Army used another scroll to weaken the castle walls, making a few of the group nervous, they couldn’t just gather out in the open though.
“What now?...” Jule asked, his tone airy.
He might be pissed to hell and back, but he wasn’t any sort of siege expert, rather, this was the first time he had even witnessed a siege. He had some ideas of course, but with the highly experienced Parn here, it would be like telling a mole how to dig.
Everyone took a seat while thinking. The place had apparently been a hotel, until it was destroyed of course, meaning that they could dig out a wooden table and some chairs from the back.
Once everyone had sat down, Parn took a deep breath and released a long but tense sigh.
“Lord Redshield… he always was a paranoid man, experiencing hundreds of wars would make anyone like that…” As Parn talked, his hands tightened.
“We suspected that the current state of Dresden was going to blow over at any second, but we never expected things to turn so bad … we thought that trouble would begin at the Blue Jewel before spreading to the rest of the Kingdom”
Jule knew why they had reached this train of thought, Duke Edmund, the Lord of the Blue Jewel had always been slightly resentful towards the crown. He led the richest port city in the south of Dresden, the amount of slaves and sunken treasures that the city traded in was astronomical, not even counting the trading routes.
It would not be farfetched to say that it carried the entire kingdom economically.
Yet back in the time of King Louis, The King considered the achievements and military strength of Jule’s father as more important and granted him the title of ArchDuke.
The title of Archduke carried many connotations, it basically gave the recipient the same authority as a Prince without actually being part of the Royal family, it also meant that the one awarded with such an honor would enjoy the unreserved support of the Crown.
It was common knowledge that Duke Edmund nearly declared war on the crown due to what he believed was a slight against his efforts and the Royals taking his city and his wealth for granted.
If only the Blue Jewel held troops instead of mercenaries…
In the end, the Royals made a deal with Edmund behind closed doors and that was all.
Jule could gather some clues from this piece of trivia, Edmund might have turned silent, but that didn’t mean that he had stopped planning, clearly still carrying the resentment from the crown’s choice to this day
It was clear that if any sort of insurrection was to spring up, it would be from the south, which also meant that all the attention of the Royals should have been focused there…
“I have no clue why the Crown decided to attack our Dukedom out of nowhere, yet this marks the end of the stability in Dresden, either they kill Lord Redshield right now, or he will join forces with Lord Edmund and other nobles and take down the Crown”
The enemy of your enemy was your friend, even if you hated his guts.
Jule could feel his hands trembling, it was a momentous occasion to be able to witness history in the making, yet it wasn’t as enjoyable when you were one of the parties that must fight.
Parn turned silent for a few seconds and thought as to how they could turn the situation around and defeat the Royal Army when the odds were stacked against them.
“I need to return to Lord Redshield, most of our strongest commanders are at the Grandia border, which means that I am the only one who can realistically back him up in a battle…” Parn relaxed his hands and looked towards Jule.
“I can probably sneak past the blockade thanks to my cultivation, but none of you can come with me…” Parn stood up as he was saying this and grabbed Jule’s soldiers.
Jule still couldn’t get accustomed to the sudden shift in Parn’s mood, making him a bit uncomfortable as Parn physically touched him. Besides, Jule thought that Parn was a fool if he truly believed that The Shield of Dresden could ever be killed.
“I need to be besides Lord Redshield, he must not fall… this means that I can’t lead this group, you must take charge Jule” Jule cringed at the thought of once again taking full control, even though he might have barely succeed at the extermination thanks to Parn, he knew he still had a long way to go.
Even if Jule hated his existence, Parn’s presence was a relief, if he messed up, he knew that Parn would pick up the pieces and make it work.
Yet...Jule knew that he couldn’t rely on Parn forever, not if he wanted to one day leave his mark on the world and not if he was to be considered one of the smart.
Only the foolish would rely on others even at moments such as this.
Therefore, he mustered all of his mental might and nodded, to take control was scary, but Jule wouldn't leave it to any other person… he was the son of The Shield of Dresden after all.
“I know you can do it…” Parn responded to his nod in complete seriousness, not a single iota of teasing present in his tone.
Parn looked around at everyone in the group and received a wave of nodding, the others clearly knew they too had roles to play. Even if the soldiers in the room were more experienced in warfare, none of them had been trained in battle tactics like Jule had, no amount of instinct could beat years of teaching.
They must obey Jule’s orders to the letter, even if he was more than a third of their actual ages.
Once Parn felt a bit more comfortable with leaving things here as they were, he stayed behind for a few moments to formulate a basic plan with Jule, it was important to get both sides of the wall on the same wavelength, and Parn was just about to breach into the Castle Town.
“The biggest problem that we are facing right now are the mind enhancers of the Royal Army” As Parn talked, another loud sound exploded in the distance, the shockwaves collapsing a few wooden beams at the back of the building.
“As you can hear, their scrolls are the most powerful method of sieging they have, if they were to be taken down, the Army would have to resort to building and deploying siege engines, making the siege last much longer”
“And if we extend the siege, the reinforcements from the rest of the Dukedom will be able to arrive and the army will have to face enemies on both sides”
“Exactly!” Parn gave Jule a thumbs up.
“Since Gican City is the only city at the border, the nearby towns and their respective noble authorities are forced to gather soldiers and march towards the city once they can’t communicate with it at all, just in case Grandia had managed to take the city over” Parn stood up and began gethering whatever food or water he could find in the decrepit hotel.
“This means that as long as we extend the siege for a while longer and keep Lord Redshield alive, our victory is all but guaranteed”
“Jule, once I get inside the castle town, I will give an order to force a push. You need to find where the mind enhancers are gathered while they regain their na, and take them by surprise at their weakest state, before rushing towards town and using the ruins to lose your inevitable pursuers”
Jule nodded, trying to hide the slight trembling of his hands.
“Can you do it?” Parn asked in a low tone, not trying to make Jule even more nervous but to reassure him.
“I..I can...no, I will do it!” Jule clenched his fists and his trembling stopped, even if it would be hard, he had no other choice. Moreover, Jule felt more confident after having taken part in his first excursion and it having succeeded, it didn’t go as planned, but he had taken in all the lessons he could from that experience.
He would not fail at the same thing twice.
Parn chuckled and finally grasped the sword he had laid down on a nearby barrel. His primary sword having melted, Parn was forced to use one they had in reserve, it would probably be fine, as long as he didn’t use elemental ma or scrolls.
The whole group gathered to send Parn off.
“Good luck, and I hope to see you all on the other side of the walls!” Parn said and then left the ruins in a half-dash.
Most of the soldiers looked at the image for a few seconds, until he could no longer be seen, before turning to Jule with frowns. Jule was accustomed to be looked on by the people that surrounded him, so he wasn’t faced by their stares, besides, his emotions came secondary to his mission.
Jule gave the order to gather whatever bit of food and water Parn had not taken, it would probably take Parn a bit to sneak inside and they couldn’t just fight with empty stomachs.
A few hours had passed since Parn had left the group, once everyone had eaten their fill, they marched back towards the Royal Army Camp, trying their best to avoid streets and any sort of open areas, it would be foolish for them to be spotted now after all.
Using a few houses as cover, they tried to gather the state of the castle walls and the current momentum of the siege.
Between the castle walls and the town, there was an empty space, commonly used as a plaza. It wouldn’t be smart to build houses right next to the walls after all.
In this plaza, various tents had been erected, colored in white and with the Royal Family emblem drawn right in the middle, it was clear as to who was the owner. Many soldiers flowed in and out of this makeshift camp, some taking wounded inside the tents and others going out to reinforce the front lines.
The wall was clearly not in its best state, a far off portion was being constantly bombarded by mind enhancers, and the massive cracks and holes revealed that it was just a matter of time until the Royal Army made a breach.
The people inside the wall were not playing around either though, a constant barrage of arrows rained down on the soldiers supporting the mind enhancers and the enhancers themselves. Though they were countered by the fire of some bowmen belonging to the Royal Army and some water scrolls that created a dome of water elementals, protecting everyone inside.
The soldiers inside the walls had mind refiners and some enhancers too though, as once in a while a scroll was used, breaking the water dome and sending Royal Army soldiers flying, making many wounded in the process.
What surprised Jule the most, was that the wounded who were dragged inside the tents, came out completely healed a few minutes after. He had never known of a scroll that could heal that fast, expect for white scrolls…
Not even the Army could have the amount of scrolls they were using though, it was inconceivable, even his own father could only equip himself and Jule with white scrolls.
The image of the completely prepared and scot free Cathedral came to mind and some very dark theories took root in his mind.
Jule shook his head and forced those thoughts away, he couldn’t get distracted right now, the matter of whether the Church was involved was for another time.
As the sun began setting over the horizon, Jule could finally spot his goal. In order to not let down the siege, the mind cultivators took turns between attacking and regaining their ma.
They usually went to the frontlines and returned while surrounded by body refiners, who took them to a satellite camp.
While Jule could not get close to this satellite camp, as it was too far away from the ruins to enjoy their cover, it was clear that this was the spot where the mind cultivators rested and gathered na.
This also meant that this exact place was where he needed to storm when the castle town made a push.
He could only hope that Parn had managed to successfully sneak into the castle town...