As Gerald advanced with his elite corps, he saw that the seven infantry formations had drawn close to the mantlets. The first two square formations split up, each heading to aid Edgar’s men at the walls either side of the gate. The remaining five formations continued their slow but steady advance towards the gate.
There were hardly any archers on the walls still loosing arrows. Gerald’s infantry hardly received any arrows on their advance, but their heater shields were covering their heads anyway.
The crossbowmen behind the mantlets were still focusing their bolts on the enemies above the gate. The defenders there had suffered a lot at the hands of Gerald’s crossbowmen, specially when they’d shown themselves to torch the battering ram. Almost all of the defenders who’d taken part in burning the ram had been killed by crossbow bolts.
Gerald and his men soon entered the range of enemy archers, but no one bothered with their approach. He and Robard raised their shields above their heads but received no arrows. This encouraged Gerald to hasten their advance. He yelled at his men. “Forward!” Then increased his pace and began running towards the mantlets. The Warriors of the corps followed him with similar pace.
He saw the five infantry formations coming to a halt near the mantlets. The other two formations were close to Edgar’s men and soon to join the climb.
It didn’t take long for Gerald to reach the mantlets with his quick pace, followed closely by the elite corps. The commanders of the infantry saluted him as he headed for the cover of one of the mantlets. A few arrows would arrive from time to time this close to the gate.
After he took cover behind the mantlet, Gerald turned to Robard who hadn’t left his side. “Have one of the infantry formations advance towards the battering ram and put down the fire. Then they will have to use the ropes to pull the ram away from the gate.” He eyed the burning ram. The fire devouring it had weakened considerably, but it hadn’t stopped.
“Yes, my lord,” Robard nodded. He left Gerald’s side and headed towards one of the infantry squares.
Gerald saw his head knight speaking to an infantry commander under the cover of the infantrymen’s shields. Robard seemed to be explaining something, while the commander looked hesitant but ended up nodding anyway.
After a loud yell, Gerald saw the infantry formation moving forward towards the gate. He turned around. The mantlet he was staying behind had some crossbowmen loosing bolts at the defenders. He crouched and began observing Edgar’s men.
The mercenaries had gained footholds at every ladder save for one. The closest foothold to the gate had many members of Edgar’s band and they were pushing towards the gate. Gerald’s two infantry formations had joined the fray. He saw many of his men climbing the ladders, and some were even fighting on the walls already.
Soon, the infantry formation that was advancing towards the gate finally reached it. Some of its men began throwing dirt and mud at the burning ram, while the rest covered them with their shields. There were hardly any defenders attacking them though. The thrown rocks couldn’t reach them, and none of the archers above the gate would make themselves a target for bolts just to loose an arrow on the infantry.
While some of Edgar’s men on the wall drew closer to the defenders above the gate, the ram’s fire was dying down. The infantrymen quickly tied the ropes to the battering ram and began pulling it away from the gate.
At the same time, one of the two rams behind the mantlets began moving towards the gate.
Slowly, the burnt battering ram was removed while a new one replaced it. Gerald observed the large wooden gate. It was aligned with the wall and its surface was charred from the ram’s fire. The new battering ram was soon pushed in front of it, and the men began swinging its heavy log.
The sound of a giant’s steps returned as the ram struck the gate repeatedly. This time the sound was much closer to Gerald. He glanced above the gate and found the defenders too busy to attack the ram as they tried to resist the approach of Edgar’s men.
After some strikes from the ram, Gerald heard the sound of wood splintering. Another strike from the ram and he heard the groans of the wooden gate.
The infantry formation that’d pulled the burnt ram away returned to the gate and surrounded the new ram, awaiting the breach of the gate.
Gerald raised his hand and signaled for the four infantry formations behind the mantlets to advance as well, and they complied. He suddenly heard crowded yells emerging, different from the ones coming from the walls in both distance and intensity. He quickly turned towards the gate.
The defenders had lost hope in keeping the gate shut. They had opened it wide and swarmed the battering ram. Gerald’s infantrymen at the gate collided with the defenders around the ram and began the ground battle.
Gerald’s infantry formations that were advancing forward hurried their pace and charged towards the open gate. The battering ram that was at the gate began retreating slowly and widening the front of combat.
Gerald saw his men fighting a mix of well-armed former mercenaries and poorly armed bandits. He turned to Robard. “They’re hardly holding against Edgar’s men on the walls. If we succeed in pushing the ground battle into the fortress, they should surrender.”
“I’m afraid that is not likely to happen, my lord,” Robard shook his head. “Luwin was a mercenary. He knows his fate if he surrenders. Enemy mercenary leaders are always killed by nobles after battle and the mercenaries are usually forcefully recruited into the victorious lord’s army. This time he’s worse than just an enemy mercenary. He’s a bandit. He won’t rest his fate upon your unlikely mercy. He won’t have his men drop their arms. His men might want to surrender, but he won’t let them.”
Gerald frowned. “So we either have to kill him or slaughter most of the defenders.”
“Indeed,” Robard nodded.
Gerald gazed at the gate again. The rest of the infantry had reached the gate and were crowding it to clash with the enemy. But the path that the gate provided was too narrow for Gerald’s 2500 men.
He gritted his teeth. “It’s like the neck of a bottle. The push will take too long this way.” He assumed that only 100 men were actually in combat at the gate, while the rest were only waiting to replace the fallen. His numbers would eventually triumph, but it would take too long and it would cost him more than his enemy. “We have to join them. Perhaps we can help the men push through the defenders.”
“It’s too risky, my lord,” Robard said. “I can lead the elite corps myself and join the battle.”
“No. Let’s go together,” Gerald said. He turned around and signaled for the elite corps.
His Warriors quickly joined him. He unsheathed his sword, keeping his shield in hand.
Robard abandoned his shield and drew his long sword. He dropped his visor in place and looked like a steel fortress moving as he followed Gerald.
Gerald abandoned the cover of the mantlet and charged at the gate with his shield covering his head. Robard was charging by his side, and the Warriors of the elite corps were only steps behind.
He covered the distance quickly and reached the clogged gate. His men were like a mass of ants surrounding the gate, yelling all sorts of obscenities at their enemies while receiving similar treatment from the defenders.
“Out of the lord’s way!” Robard shouted. “Open a path.”
The infantrymen heard Robard and some of them began opening a path for the charging elite corps.
At first, Gerald sailed smoothly through the mass of men. But as he got closer to the front of combat, it became more difficult to advance. He pushed forward through his men, while Robard pushed those in front of Gerald aside. The elite corps followed behind, similarly pushing their way through with difficulty.
He slowly advanced until he could clearly see the front line of his men in a fierce but cramped melee with the defenders. They were mostly pushing against each other with their shields and trying to slip their swords through the gaps to stab their opponents.
Robard helped Gerald push forward until they finally reached the front of combat. The knight pulled one of the infantrymen in combat back, making room in front of himself without stepping forward.
Gerald was surprised to see Robard swinging his sword up high for an overhead strike while he still had some room in front of him. The head knight brought his sword down onto one of the defenders, his sword hammering the shield down and cutting into the defender’s shoulder. He followed by a fierce kick to the defender’s shield. The latter staggered and lost his footing. Robard took the opportunity and stabbed him in the face.
Another defender tried to stab Robard, but his sword struck the knight’s steel armor and easily slid off. Robard responded with a stab that grazed the defender’s shield then grazed his side too, drawing blood. The defender realized that caution was the better choice and properly took cover behind his shield, unwilling to attack Robard again.
Gerald quickly found some footing for himself and stepped beside Robard into combat. He kept his shield in front of him and pushed against the defender opposite him. The latter pushed back and the stalemate didn’t change. Both sides had more men behind to make up for any lack of strength.
Gerald realized that the spot they had advanced to was manned by more of Luwin’s new recruits and less of his experienced band members. It was a good place to try piercing through. But he waited until a few of his Warriors could join combat. He and Robard couldn’t push through on their own.
He found that even Robard couldn’t swing his sword properly now, but the knight didn’t have anything to worry about with his armor. The enemies had to try striking at his joints if they wanted to harm him, and that would allow him to counter attack and make them regret their decision.
Gerald and Robard held their ground while the Warriors of the elite corps began to find their footing on either side of the two of them.
Gerald saw some of the well-armed defenders pushing against his newly emerged Warriors. He assumed that some of those defenders were also Warriors. But even a Warrior wouldn’t have enough room to do anything in this type of combat.
However, Gerald believed that if he had a whole line of Warriors by his side, he could push forward and create some room to advance.
When he saw enough men from the elite corps by his side. He glanced at Robard. “Make sure I don’t lose my head.”
His head knight’s face changed when he heard those words, and he opened his mouth as if wanting to disagree, but he didn’t get the chance.
Gerald gave up his footing and took half a step back. The man behind him prevented him from stepping back anymore than that. As the defender in front of him gained half a step forward, Gerald quickly knelt down allowing the defender to push forward even more with his upper body.
While Gerald was kneeling down, the defender had raised his sword and was preparing to come down on him with an overhead cut. But Robard hurriedly put his arm in the path of the sword, blocking it with his gauntlet. The head knight grunted as the sword hammered his arm down, and he tried to push Gerald’s opponent with his shoulder, but he failed to move the defender with how crowded it was. He also received a few strikes from the defenders in front of him while he was occupied helping Gerald, but he made use of his experience and shrugged them off with his armor.
The kneeling Gerald abandoned his sword and drew his dagger, slashing the defender’s knees with all his strength. The latter yelled in pain and lost all balance. Gerald raised his shield, grabbed his sword, and pushed forward while standing up.
He pushed the defender down with his shield while he got to his feet. The next defender behind the fallen one tried to step forward to take his place, but Gerald trampled his original opponent and pushed forward, stabbing the next defender in the neck before he could raise his shield properly. With the room he had, he successfully made the next defender stagger with a kick. “Forward!” Gerald yelled. “Push through!”
Robard found enough room to his side as Gerald stepped forward. He swung his sword sideways and struck the defender in front of him with a wide sweep. The defender staggered, only to receive a stab to the groin.
Robard pulled his sword free from the defender’s groin and pushed forward, making use of the room Gerald had made. He swung his sword and struck the enemies at his sides as he advanced, ignoring the prepared ones ahead of him. The enemies at his side were less prepared.
Gerald kept striking at the defenders, preventing them from filling what little room he’d created. He waited for Robard to come to his side and decided step back. “You lead,” Gerald said. His head knight was much stronger than him and better at using his blade too. He let Robard become the head of the spear while he protected the knight’s vulnerable back. The Warriors of the elite corps followed the two of them, driving a wedge through the enemies’ ranks.
“Just a bit more,” Gerald muttered. The wall wasn’t very thick. That meant they were only a few steps away from getting through the gate.
Robard slashed and stabbed as he slowly pushed forward, leaving death in his trail. He received a some slashes that did nothing to stop him, but Gerald saw him receiving a few stabs through his the joints of his armor. He was certain that Robard was already wounded. The head knight said nothing as he moved forward, gaining them more ground but at a snail’s pace.
Gerald stuck behind him and fought off the surrounding defenders while his Warriors did the same for him. He received a few strikes himself, but he blocked most of the ones from his left with his shield. He tried to parry or block those coming from his right, but some of them got through and cut through his leather armor, sometimes grazing or poking his skin.
‘I need better leather armor.’
He heard a shout from Robard and saw the knight kicking forward fiercely. Then Gerald finally saw the bandit camp behind the defenders. They were finally through the gate.
Robard found more room to swing his sword, but he was soon blocked by two enemy Warriors.
Gerald stepped beside him and faced one of the two enemies. The Warriors of the elite corps took to the pair’s sides, facing the other defenders.
Once Robard found himself in single combat against one of the two enemy Warriors, his swings became more aggressive.
Gerald focused on his own opponent and parried a few of his strikes. He then stepped forward with a flurry of thrusts. His opponent stepped back and struggled to defend.
Gerald made use of the quick fighting style of his lightning attribute and continued his flurry of attacks, giving his enemy no opportunity to strike back. The enemy Warrior didn’t show him any openings though. Although Gerald had a slight advantage, he failed to wound his opponent. He assumed that this Warrior was more experienced than he was.
His assumption was soon proved right as his opponent grew accustomed to his attacks and began striking back every once in a while.
Soon, they were both exchanging strikes evenly. Before Gerald could think of a way to gain an advantage again, he saw a blade piercing through his opponent’s rips. The latter groaned in pain and staggered as the blade pierced deeper into his body.
Gerald looked to his left and saw Robard holding the blade. The knight had already killed his opponent and was aiding him.
As Gerald’s opponent fell, he and Robard pushed forward with the elite corps at their sides.
Gerald finally saw the camp clearly as they got past the wall. The fierce expression on his face gradually changed into a triumphant smile. Victory was close at hand.