Caution flashed across Kurdak’s face. Fighting seemed like a dangerous affair, but Leguna would have it far worse mingling with the empire’s elite.
He was really worried Leguna would get into some kind of trouble because of him. So he tried his best not to tell anyone about their connection. Even when he did reveal it, he made sure to spill only the bare minimum.
So why was Manhattan bringing it up? Did something happen?
The general saw the change in Kurdak’s expression and smiled.
“You’re anxious, huh? Seems you’re quite close.”
“Why do you bring him up, General?” Kurdak asked quietly.
“I have a small favor to ask you--“ Manhattan tapped Kurdak’s shoulder. “You’ve been in recovery for a while now, so how up to date are you on our situation?”
“The empire has broken through the enemy lines and forced them away from Seatide. The city is still holding out, last I heard, though,” Kurdak answered.
“What do you think about it?”
“Seatide is held by less than ten thousand men. And with how things have been going lately, their morale can’t be high. On top of that the city hasn’t been occupied that long, so the people should still be loyal to us and ready to rise up the moment we push on the walls. Their only advantage right now is the city walls, and we have ways of dealing with that,” Kurdak said carefully.
“On point as I’d expect. But sometimes terrain alone is enough.”
“The magic cannons?” Kurdak asked.
News had trickled to him down the grapevine about the general’s probes being driven back unceremoniously by a barrage of cannon fire.
Magic cannons, as their name suggested, were large cannons powered by magic. In the world without firearms, the magic cannon alone was a weapon that was leaps and bounds ahead of its time.
While they were large and heavy, they had impeccable destructive power. As if the crimsonflame fiend’s fireballs weren’t horrifying enough, the cannons fired enhanced versions with double the destructive power.
A single shot could take out thirty warriors easily and fifty cannons were mounted on the walls. If a wall on each side had ten cannons, and each shot took out 20 warriors on average, each side could take out 200. It would only take ten volleys for Kurdak’s brigade to be completely wiped out.
Manhattan didn’t dare to mount a full scale attack against those things.
While somebody had suggested he wait for the cannons ran out of power, they would only lose power from firing, and each crystal had 20 shots’ charge in it. Heaven only knew how many crystals they had in the city.
Not to mention the defenders had several dozen magi in the city, each of which could recharge at least a crystal a day. Unless he destroyed the cannons, they were not going to fall silent anytime soon.
The weapons were nearly useless for field battles, since they were so heavy and difficult to transport that unless an army was content with never being able to keep up with a retreating enemy, or taking months to make a journey that would otherwise take just a week or two, the cannons would never even get to the battlefield before the war was over.
That said, once they were in position, they were deadly. Mobility generally wasn’t an issue when defending a position, especially not a fortified position like Seatide, so this was the perfect situation in which to use the cannons.
“Yes, cannons.” Manhattan said, his brows furrowing, “I’m not willing to send my men to their deaths against those things, and even if I were, there’s no chance we can take the city as long as those cannons can still fire.”
“You could always just starve them out,” Kurdak suggested.
They might be able to operate their magic cannons indefinitely, but unlike cannons, people lost energy by just living, and needed food and water to replenish their energy supply or die. They had 60 thousand men in the city’s immediate vicinity, and now they were entrenched, they were not easily going to lose their ground, so they could just sit and wait for the enemy to run out of food and water.
“No--“ Manhattan shook his head, “--We don’t have to worry about being pushed back anytime soon, but the city can hold out for at least a year, maybe more. We don’t know what the enemy will do in that time without us breathing down their necks anymore, but sitting around Seatide instead. On top of that, sitting here for several months will lose the momentum we have right now. The enemy is still reeling from losing all three their lines, but in another month or two they’ll have recovered and be busy setting up another line of defenses, if not preparing a counter attack. Most importantly...”
Manhattan’s impetus suddenly burst out menacingly.
“Seatide is our land to begin with. I will not let a Stokian fart on it any longer than is absolutely necessary. I cannot stand letting them keep control of the city for another month, much less a year! Not to mention that if we try to starve them out, I have no doubt they’ll steal the people’s food and let them die first. What use is taking back a dead city?”
“You’re too soft, General.” Kurdak said with appreciation, rather than reprimand.
Both he and Vera bowed respectfully.
“Don’t flatter me--“ Manhattan waved his hand harshly, “Help me out instead.”
“Of course. I’ll be happy to lead the charge!”
“Don’t be stupid! I just told you I want to avoid that situation!” Manhattan snapped, “Contact your friend in the bureau. Ask him to come help me with those cannons. If he can take out the cannons with Shadow Blink, I can take the city back in the following 24 hours.”
The millions of hairs on Kurdak’s body stood on end. He couldn’t believe the general had said ‘Shadow Blink’!
Leguna’s gifts weren’t secret, they couldn’t be when he was a household name. And Arikos had done his part to make sure Leguna’s gifts were well-known as well, those he’d revealed, at least.
They knew about his abilities, but no one really understood how they worked or what their limitations were. At least, while they might know what Leguna could, in theory, do with his gifts, no one ought to know their names or their precise capabilities.
And yet, the general had just mentioned one of his gifts by name as if it was nothing special. How much did the man know about Leguna? The names of the parties that knew the details of Leguna’s gifts flashed through Kurdak’s mind one by one. Which of them had told the general about Leguna’s gifts?
“Relax, kid. You’re in your forties already, so don’t act like an angsty twenty-year-old,” Manhattan said calmly.
“I’m only 25...” Kurdak murmured like a shot dog.
“...I thought you lied about your age...” Manhattan said conclusively.
Nothing about Kurdak made him appear in his twenties, or even his thirties. He looked at least forty physically, and while he was a ruffian, it had more the air of an old man unwilling to give up on his youth, than of a youngster still too hot under the chin and too wet behind the ears to know any better.
“As how I know about Leguna’s gifts, the bureau sent me the information. They’ve sent letters over to all the top commanders in the military.”
“The bureau, huh...”
Kurdak immediately knew it had to be Arikos’ doing. He couldn’t figure out what the old man, and he actually was an old man, was planning.
“Isn’t it important to know your allies’ capabilities? How else are we supposed to trust one another to do the things that need doing? And I know better than to tell people what I know carelessly. If there’s one thing a general absolutely has to know how to do to do his job, it’s to keep secrets.”
“So you want me to write him a letter?” Kurdak asked as if he’d realized what the man’s intention was, rather than just remembering what he’d already been told.
“Yes. Ask him to come help us take care of those cannons. I don’t have anyone under my command I can ask to do that, but it shouldn’t be a problem for Leguna.”
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