The New World, Port of Sunder
The city shook under the bombardment of the guns of the raiding airships. Two distinctive looking groups of airships came swooping in over the city walls, the black muzzles of their steam cannons jutting out from under their bellies and spewed steam and iron down.
Having given up the high altitude bombardment, which not only burnt more fuel to keep the aetherium heated up, the accuracy of their steam cannons drop drastically the further they were from their targets. Now the raiders were reinforced by another three ships, that unlike the blocky shape of the original raiders, the new flying ships looked more ornate and sleeker in design.
The raiders came charging in like a rapier, aiming for one point of the city defences, and dropped off barrels of incendiaries and their steam cannons raised hell to the defenders. The defenders frantically returned cannon fire back with their crude black powder cannons which scored a few hits on the raiders but were deflected away by their magic barriers.
The attacks went on constantly, leaving the area around the city walls badly damaged and any nearby buildings in ruins. Those that could flee the city had already done so in the first lull in the siege, while the rest without any means of escape could only hunker down at whatever shelter they could find.
After over a week of bombardments, the majority of the city walls laid in ruins, only sections that held the only weapons that could fend off the flying ships remained standing, protected by a small company of mages. Even so, those sections were in a bad shape as the foundations surrounding the walls were on the brink of collapse as where the Imperial mages as they valiantly protected the dragon cannons.
Leung peeked out from the ruined entrance that led into the dungeons which had been turned into a command bunker for the defenders. He saw the airships in the skies forming up and he turned to the Knight Colonel. "Looks like they will be attacking the same way today."
Knight Colonel Sander nodded as he put away his spyglass. "It's time?"
"It is time," Leung nodded and the Knight Colonel started giving out orders. Coloured flags were raised and defenders still on the wall replied by raising a confirmation flag. Satisfied, Knight Colonel Sander asked the Sage in a worried tone, "Will it be successful?"
"Hopefully," Leung replied in a confident voice despite not feeling confident at all. He lowered his hood to prevent the Knight Colonel from seeing his nervous expression on his face and instead directed his attention to the approaching airships. "We will know soon."
The group of six flying ships had formed up in a column, and like a battering ram, they charged straight towards the wall, planning to fly over every cannon position and dropping incendiaries to burn the guns down. Like clockwork, the flying ships came in, repeating the exact same attack manoeuvre for the few days, the only difference was which direction and section of the wall they aimed at.
This time, the column of flying ships aimed for the western walls. The remaining dragon cannons were already turning to face the approaching attackers while mages started to chant and conjured up protective barriers for the guns. The dragon cannon crews by now were well versed in operating the cannons and also getting better in laying the guns.
The dragon cannons roared just at the very last moment when the flying ships came over them, the heavy iron balls shattering against the forward most flying ship's magic barrier, creating a bubble of rainbow shimmers over the ship. The gunners after firing the cannons, rushed to reload their weapons, ignoring the falling barrels of incendiaries that were dropped by the flying ships over their positions.
The barrels exploded over the magic barriers thrown up by the Imperial Army's mages, creating balls of flames gusting into the skies with oily black smoke. Some of the mages quickly conjured up ice spells to prevent the heat from the flames from injuring anyone. But despite the best efforts of the mages, one section of the wall crumbled as the foundations finally caved in under the constant bombardment.
The entire dragon cannon crew and the several mages and soldiers disappeared in an instant under a cloud of dirty brown smoke. The raiders seeming appeared bolder upon seeing the success of their attacks, looped around and reformed its formation again before charging towards the walls again.
As they lined up directly over the walls and dived down, dozens of floating balloons appeared in their path. Unable to fully evade the balloons without ruining their bombing run, the airships continued straight on, disregarding the balloons which the leading airship was wreathed in balls of fire and explosions.
The leading airship, Iron Warrior's captain yelled out commands to break off the attack as their view was suddenly blanketed by thick black smoke. He realized that the floating balloons in his path were some kind of explosive device and hurriedly ordered the crew to turn away from the balloons.
But it was too late, as the leading airship slamming into one after another balloon mine, which explosive charge of black powder exploded on contact. The shockwaves shook and rattled the airship and its crew heavily and with the panicked sudden sharp turn to evade more of the floating mines, something broke inside the flying ship and blinded by the clouds of burnt black powder, the helm's man could not judge the ship's bearing.
The second airship, Iron Fist, had pulled away from the attack when its captain witnessed the predicament the lead airship was in. He had ordered the helm's man to steer away, and reduce speed to prevent any unforeseen accidents, but he did not expect to have turned his airship directly into the same direction the leading airship had gone.
The blocky rectangular fish shape of the Hardy class Iron Kingdom destroyer, Iron Warrior, suddenly burst from the cloud of black smoke without any warning and prow of IK Iron Fist, smashed against the starboard side of IK Iron Warrior. Both helm's man without the need of their screaming captains, sought to reverse the situation by steering away from each other.
Both Iron Kingdom ship's magic barrier flickered wildly in a riot of colours as both ships rubbed against each other. But the IK Iron Fist's several thousand tons of inertia force traveling at over forty kilometres an hour continued forward, and before both ships could separate, their magic barrier overloaded and the metal met metal with a grinding scream.
The sudden impact of both ships knocked the majority of the crew off their feet and befitting the name of the ship, the IK Iron Fist punched the IK Iron Warrior off its course, causing both ships to further grind against each other and crashing all the side airscrews, rudders, armour plating and sails into scrap metal.
Any steam cannon barrel that was deployed out were slammed back into their gun ports and were overturned, crashing anyone unfortunate to be nearby. Explosions rocked the ships as a couple of floating balloon mines drifted into their path.
The other airships broke their formations to evade running into each other and they pulled back to a safe distance from the deadly balloons that appeared over the city walls, helpless as they watched the city defender firing their cannons at the sickened airships.
Cheers erupted from the defenders and the city as they saw flames and smoke brewing from the two flying ships that appeared to have glued together. Both ships were losing altitude rapidly as white and blue smoke erupted out from their sides.
It was not long before both ships, hugging each other, came crashing down on the outskirts of the port city and started burning. The air raiders watched from the distance before they fell back and disappeared into the clouds, and the city cheered again at their retreat.
"Great Sage..." Knight Colonel Sander had tears in his eyes as he watched the air raiders retreat. "You are the great saviour of Port Sunder!"
"Ah... it was nothing," Leung looked away in embarrassment, but to the worshipping eyes of the soldiers around him, it felt like a humble action instead.
The Knight Colonel went down on one knee and bowed his head in respect to Leung and the rest of the people and soldiers in the room did the same. "The Great Sage is wise! Hail the Great Sage!"
Leung felt even more embarrassed and he quickly pulled the soldiers up to their feet. "No. no, no! I'm not some great being... Get up!"
The soldiers stood up and cheered, and even the Knight Colonel had a large grin on his face. "Great Sage, no matter what you say, you will always be the Great Sage in our eyes! Without you, we would have lost this battle!"
The Knight Colonel gestured around the city, "Can you hear the cheering?"
Leung nodded, and for once in his life, he felt like he has done something worthwhile. But his mood soon turned bleak as he gestured to the broken walls. "We wouldn't be able to hold out a second siege if they return..."
"Great Sage, with you here," The Knight Colonel laughed boisterously. "I am confident you will find a way to stop them!"
"Like those... hot air balloon mines that you came out with!" Knight Colonel Sander shook his head in wonder. "Who would have known that burning coals inside bags of canvas sails can make them fly into the air!"
The float balloon mines were miniature hot air balloons devised by Leung by using the stocked up supplies of ship parts. People still in the city were gathered by the soldiers and using cellars as underground workshops, the slaves and womenfolk cut rolls of canvas that were used by ships as sails and sewn them into bags.
When the sewing was ongoing, blacksmiths created a simple metal holder for the burning fuel. The metal holder was than tied to the bags and a barrel tightly packed with over a hundred kilos of black powder were rigged under the holder.
Next, the Imperial Army mages crafted a special rune trap powered by a single tiny mana stone. The magical trap was then carefully installed onto the top of the black powder barrel. Once the trap was armed, any shock to the trap would cause it to activate and create a small burst of sparks. The sparks would, in turn, ignite the barrel of black powder and anything within a radius of several meters would be blown to bits.
Leung's plan was to have the hot air balloons up into the air and into the path of the flying ships. The hot air balloon mines would be tethered to the ground by ropes to prevent them from behind blown away.
He barely expected it to work with any results, but to his surprise, when the airships returned for the second attack run, the floating mines created more chaos than expected. It was a gamble as they only have so much supply of black powder for the cannons, and taking them away to make the mines that might not work and probably blow themselves up instead, turned out to be a well placed bet.
But now, seeing the worship and excitement in the eyes of the soldiers around him, Leung felt uneasy as he has no idea what to do next. He was certain that the enemy will return and with an even bigger force, which he was sure that they will surely lose and even die!
The Knight Colonel said, "Great Sage, what are our next plans?"
Next plans, your head! Leung cursed inwardly as he stared blankly at the Knight Colonel. With his hood down, the people around him assumed that he was coming out with an amazing plan. Finally, Leung sighed and made up a lie, "I think we should start evacuating the people... We have held out long enough, and the Emperor will deal with this... problem personally."
"REPORT!" A messenger suddenly arrived, panting as he came to one knee. "Priority message from the Emperor!"
Knight Captain Sander frowned as he took the offered scroll. He quickly removed the ribbons and unrolled the scroll and started reading. His frown suddenly disappeared and changed to surprise before he excitedly exclaimed. "My heavens! Did you predict this?"
Leung was confused as he looked at the Knight Colonel beaming at him again. He took the scroll and read it and he choked inwardly as he digested the news. The Knight Colonel turned to the surrounding soldiers and said, "The Great Sage is wise! He must have predicted that the Emperor is sending reinforcements to fight the sky raiders!"
"What the fuck?"