2/4 of the sponsored chapters of the week courtesy of Charles G. from the USA as well, thank you! The conflict is in motion!

Three days later, Lorist brought a force of around 1000 men on an expedition to attack Wildnorth Town.

The distance that would have taken 1 hour to traverse on horseback had taken the whole troupe 3 hours to travel before they arrived at their destination, causing Lorist to laugh out bitterly while shaking his head.

Just as he had expected before he launched the operation, Wildnorth Town was already ready to defend against the siege. On the walls of the town, blades glinting from the light of the sun and rows of people could be seen. It seemed that the four great families had prepared themselves for the incoming assault and a few of the garrison soldiers even cursed at Lorist and his men from the walls.

Lorist sent Patt to the walls of the town to send a final warning to them: he would request for the garrison force of Wildnorth Town to discard their weapons and open the gates to surrender and if they do that, Lorist would take into account the 100 plus years of relation that the Norton Family had with Wildnorth Town and forgive their act of treason and will only request the townsfolk to obey the new regulations that were set up. He would also promise not to punish even a single person for this incident.

However, before Patt even reached the walls, a volley of arrows had been set flying in his direction, causing his mount to be turned into an arrow pincushion. It was fortunate that Patt responded quickly enough and jumped off his mount before he returned to the rest of the group on foot.

Lorist and the rest were enraged at that action as it represented that the people of Wildnorth Town did not even bother to take the Norton Family into consideration and wasn't even willing to even communicate. The act of attempting to attack a messenger was far worse than normal treason.

Resisting his seething rage, Lorist refused his subordinates' request to attack the town right away and ordered them to guide the men to set up camp and start making food.

Wildnorth Town had two gates with one being at the front and the other at the back. Logically speaking, Lorist should have set up two camp sites to surround the town's exits. But as he only had 1000 men, the troops would be spread too thin if he decided to split them up. That was why Lorist had his men set up camp and sent another troupe of scouts to monitor the rear gate. If the people of the town attempt to send a bunch of troops to attack the Nortons from the back gate, then Lorist would be able to take that opportunity to wipe their forces out.

Lorist couldn't help but wish for the soldiers of the garrison force to do just that. He hoped that he could wipe out all his enemy's forces in an open field battle. Not only would that be a great blow to the town, it would also increase the morale of his troops and lessen the number of enemies defending the town, thus making it much easier for the siege to succeed. It was too bad that the garrison force of Wildnorth Town were famed for their cowardice: they only seemed to be shouting out curses at the Nortons' men who were setting up the campsite without any sign or intention of attacking.

By the time everything was completely readied, the sky had already turned dark. Lorist checked the arrangement of the patrols and lookouts before he went to rest so that he would have enough energy for the siege the day after. Thus, the first day of the expedition concluded just like that.

On the next day, after having his breakfast, Lorist rallied his men and assembled them into formation. The plan for the morning was to have Josk lead a group of mounted archers to circle the walls while releasing volleys of arrows to expose a weak point in the enemy's defense so that Lorist may take the opportunity to attack the spot to take over a part of the walls, thus paving the way for the rest of his forces to eventually overwhelm the town's defense and take over it.

Having circled the walls twice, Josk only lost four of his men and that was a rather fortunate outcome. Upon his return, Josk reported, "It won't work. When I was on the other side, I noticed that they had broadened and deepened the moat, so there is no way we can attack from there if we don't fill it up first. Other than that, I tried firing an arrow towards their rear gate and noticed they have it clogged shut from the inside, indicating that they have no intention whatsoever to launch a surprise attack by sending their troops out from the back. We have no other choice but to attack up front. Just now, I also noticed that they were mostly using hunting bows which will not pose too much a threat to us."

Lorist was feeling rather annoyed. The last time he visited the town, the moat was shallower than Josk had described. Who would've expected for them to deepen and broaden it all of a sudden. According to Josk, it was approximately two meters deep and roughly three meters wide. Due to the terrain, the depth of the moat wouldn't be visible from afar and could only be determined up close.

Lorist personally rode his horse around the walls of the town and wondered, where did they take the mud and dirt that they dug out from the moat? Then again, the depth of the moat is just as Josk had mentioned. There's no way that we can attack from here unless we fill it up first.

On one hand, he instructed Reidy to return to the Maplewoods Bastide and have Supervisor Spiel send over some grass sacks and digging tools. On the other, he ordered his subordinates to lead their soldiers to fell some trees which he would then use to make some large wooden shields and a transport cart which he would need to move the dirt required to fill the moat.

On the third day of the expedition, the plan was to fill up the moat which stretched tens of meters to the left from the main town gates. Lorist planned to launch a strong attack from that spot. Josk commanded a company of soldiers to plant the large wooden shields used defend against arrows onto the ground within 50 meters from the town walls. After that, he ordered his longbowmen squad to fire at the walls from the cover of the wooden shields to suppress enemy fire.

The squad of longbowmen used bows of the simplest design. These training longbows were made from firm and flexible yew wood and its construction method was relatively simple. A yew branch with sufficient thickness could easily be made into a longbow by carving the shape out and drying it. This kind simplified of longbow was slightly longer than proper longbows, however its firing range was inferior to that of a proper longbow by 30 or so meters, being only at approximately 70 meters. Not to mention its power and accuracy was also vastly inferior. The bowstring of a simplified longbow also had to be switched out after 180 or more arrows were fired and the bow itself had to be checked whether it was still in proper shape for continued use. While it was effective when used in training, simplified longbows like these wouldn't do much actual damage to the garrison soldiers on the walls.

Proper longbows on the other hand were made out of a kind of wood that was even more firm than yew. The wood had to be dried in the sun for a period of time before it would then be submerged in a special kind of oil for up to three months before it must once again be dried at a place out of reach of sunlight. During the submersion process, the wood also had to be shaped and strung before it could be adjusted, fixed and sanded. Lastly, the bow had to be painted a few times over before a layer of leather would be affixed to the bow's body. A proper longbow like that would require at least one and a half to two years of time to make. The firing range of such bows could go up to 100 meters easily and pose a serious threat to even Gold ranked fighters.

The construction of the cart was also rather simple. Its basic form was nothing more than putting together two large wooden planks to form an A-frame roof with four wheels fixed to its bottom and coating the roof with a layer of wet mud to prevent it from being set aflame by fire arrows. As the soldiers push the carts towards the moat behind the cover of the wooden panels, they can easily fill up the moat by opening the hatch located at the front of the enclosed cart and toss grass bags filled with soil into the moat.

The operation during the morning went on without a hitch: under the leadership of the Divine Marksman Josk, the squad of longbowmen were successful in their attempt to suppress the garrison soldiers on the wall to the point that they were unable to even stand up to take proper aim and could only fire from the small crenels on the walls. Needless to say, their firing accuracy was rather bad and it was unable to cause Lorist's side much damage and the garrison soldiers ended up with more casualties than the attackers. Currently, the moat was already half-filled and the operation would be complete by noon.

Lorist was rather relieved and believed that taking the town would not be as difficult as he had previously imagined given the lackluster intensity of the garrison force's counterattack. His troops might even emerge from this conflict with relatively few casualties.

However, after the lunch break, the soldiers of Wildnorth Town had also erected wooden barriers upon their town walls, which allowed them to mount a proper resistance. Additionally, after noticing that the fire arrows were ineffective against the transport cart, the soldiers of Wildnorth Town poured a huge amount of flammable oil onto the cart when it was near the wall and finally managed to set it aflame.

Josk finally showed his prowess by knocking down a few of the wooden barriers on the walls with his arrows in successive order. However, it was to no avail as the destroyed wooden boards were quickly replaced by new ones.

"6 of the longbowmen have died with 21 others injured. Also, more than half of their longbows are worn out to the point that it's already useless. Fortunately, we brought along another 100 plus extra ones which we can use as replacements. 8 soldiers among those who were sent to fill the moat have died and more than 26 of them returned injured. Should we construct another transport cart to replace the destroyed one?" Shadekampf asked Lorist after he reported the number of casualties from the failed attempt to fill out the moat.

"Send another company of family soldiers to fell some trees. Make sure that the soldiers of Wildnorth Town will be able to see us constructing the carts so that they will think that the soonest time for our next attack is tomorrow and let their guard down. Tonight, we will make our preparations for the time when the clouds obscure the moonlight to have our men bring the sacks to the moat by hand to fill it overnight," instructed Lorist.

Lorist's arrangements far exceeded the expectations of the Wildnorth Town garrison as by the time they noticed the movements beneath the walls, the moat had already been almost completely filled. Seeing the startled garrison soldiers drop their torches from the wall, Lorist smiled and said, "Come, let's go back. We're already almost done. When we attack tomorrow, we just have to bring a couple of more sacks of soil to fill the rest up. I hope that we will be able to take the town all in one go after that."

On the fourth day of the expedition, the weather was sunny with clear skies stretching to the far horizon.

Lorist organized all his soldiers into seven squads of troops with each bringing a siege ladder with them as they rushed towards the walls of Wildnorth Town.

Accompanied by Patt and Reidy, Lorist approached the walls gradually as he followed the tracks of the charging soldiers. As long as one of the ladders was placed on the walls successfully, Lorist believed that he could rush up the walls and massacre away to occupy part of the walls. If his reinforcements also manage to make their way up there, then their victory would almost be assured.

The distance slowly shrunk from 100 meters, to 80 meters, 60 meters... By the time the walls were right in front of their eyes, the wooden barriers on the walls were suddenly lowered in unison to reveal a row of bowmen and longbowmen in firing positions...

"Fire!" The moment the order was made, arrows and crossbow bolts rained down from the walls in a manner similar to that of a humongous tidal wave, obliterating many of the soldiers at the front within seconds...

As one soldier after another fell, Lorist neared his limit and he shouted, "Retreat! Quick, retreat!"

The green longbow in Josk's hands let out a thundering roar as it sent one green arrow after another flying straight towards the walls of the town which sent one soldier after another flying off into the air. The situation on the walls broke into a chaotic mess within moments. In response, a group of soldiers who were in formation moved sideways to make way for four ballistas that were pushed towards the edge of the walls from behind.

With four deafening booms, four gigantic ballista bolts soared in Josk's direction.

The moment Josk saw the four ballistas appear on the walls, he knew that something went wrong and jumped off his mount without a hint of hesitation. With a loud whoosh, a huge ballista bolt scraped past his back, ripping off the armor and undergarments he wore and tearing a huge, deep wound on his back from which blood oozed out profusely. Within an instant, Josk was covered wholly with his own blood.

Josk's mount on the other hand had already been split into a number of chunks as a result of being struck by three of the bolts.

Rolling on the ground twice and standing up quickly, Josk resisted the pain in his back and once again drew his green longbow. With a flash, a green arrow was shot towards one of the black ballistas on the walls, causing it to break and splinter into many pieces. Some of the soldiers standing near that ballista were hurt from the flying shrapnel. The remaining soldiers on the walls quickly pulled the 3 ballistas back from the walls in response.

After releasing that last arrow, Josk's whole body slumped to the ground. Lorist quickly rushed to him and carried him back to the camp on his back.

Bam! Lorist hatefully pounded on the makeshift wooden table made from a split log and left a deep indentation of his fist on its surface.

Damn! Damn it all! Nobody had saw it coming. Not one of them had expected that the garrison force would be so cunning and devious. During the past two days, they used hunting bows to attack the Norton soldiers and allowed them to fill out the moat, causing Lorist to have a mistaken impression that they didn't have much ability to retaliate. They only revealed their trump cards today when Lorist planned to take the town in one go and successfully caused huge losses to the Nortons.

A couple of beastskin documents were placed on the table. Those were name lists of the dead and injured soldiers which was compiled by Shadekampf. Within a short 15 minutes, more than 300 of their forces have been put out of commission with 83 of them dead and more than 200 injured. Even Reidy got hit by an arrow when he was rushing to help out. Had it not been for the fact that the soldiers at the front were wearing chain mails, the casualty count would have been far larger.

Josk on the other hand wasn't injured too badly. The cut on his back from the passing ballista bolt was easily treated with some medicine and bandaging. However, the final shot he took to destroy one of the ballistas damaged the blood vessels at his back and caused the wound to rupture and he would require more than ten days of rest before he would completely recover.

"Milord, the morale of the soldiers is really low. I think that we will be unable to continue the attack tomorrow. Today's battle really surprised me. How did the people of Wildnorth Town get their hands on so many longbows and crossbows as well as the four ballistas?" Patt said.

"I might know where the crossbows came from," said Pajik. "Four years ago when the First Young Master led the family's armored cavalry to war under the orders of the Second Prince, there were around 100 garrison soldiers of the Wildnorth Town who tagged along with him. They were in charge of the supply line for the First Young Master's armored cavalry as well as foraging the battlefield after each skirmish. During the battle I was captured by the First Young Master, I noticed that the garrison force soldiers were really focused on collecting weapons and equipment, including even the broken ones. I know that they have handed the metal armor and money to the family, but I didn't expect that they would smuggle and hide all the bows, crossbows as well as the ballistas they found..."

"What a deeply thought out plan... It seems that they have been preparing to rebel since four years ago. No wonder their attitude towards us had gotten worse in recent years. Do they think they will be able to protect the town just because they have ranged weapons? I will not stop until I successfully remove this tumor from the dominion," said Lorist as he grinded his teeth.

"But we're still unable to enter the town!" Patt exclaimed.

"We'll attack during the night. As long as I manage to get up on the walls, we will be able to occupy Wildnorth Town!" Lorist said as he looked towards the walls of the town.