Chapter 38 The Era of Hot Weapons
Iron Axe became aware of the fact that they were now under watch.
The hunters who had participated in the test explosion moved together into a two-story house near the castle. Looking through the window, he could see that the house was encircled by stone walls and guards were stationed at the entrance.
He did not mind this regulation, and the fact that His Highness only sent two guards to oversee them showed that he trusted them.
Until now, Iron Axe continued to repeat the roaring explosion within his head – until now, there was never a weapon that could bring him such a strong shock. In the extreme south of his homeland, he had seen how orange fire erupted out of the ground, and this fire could continue to burn for decades; he had seen endless storms with monstrous waves… however awfully unpredictable these powers were, they were the will of Mother Earth or the god of the sea. They were the iron whip that disciplined all living things.
But now, His Highness began to challenge the power of the gods, obtaining a power only seen during heaven’s punishment – although when compared with the real lightning and thunder, the difference was still great; reaching such a realm of power wasn’t possible for humans.
In the Sand Nation, anyone who would participate in such a demonstration or later use it would normally get their tongue cut off. Of course, this was not the safest way to keep secrets. Only the dead could keep secrets from spreading. As a foreigner? They would only see him as blasphemer, and it was forever impossible for a foreign clansman to get into the core hierarchy.
The Prince knew that Iron Axe was only a half-blood, but he still allowed him to witness the curse of fire. Even more, he also let Iron Axe be responsible for the formation of the hunting squadron. The trust His Highness had within him was burned deep into Iron Axe’s heart.
During his time in the Sand Nation, he had experienced countless betrayals of friends or family who framed him for their wrongdoings. When he fled to the Kingdom of Graycastle’s south border, he still had to suffer discrimination because of his half Sand Nation and half Graycastle lineage. He eventually arrived in Border Town, disheartened. Here, he intended to rely on his hunting skills to spend the rest of his life in peace. However, he had never expected to meet His Royal Highness, the Prince, here. And of all things, he had never expected that the prince would even trust him.
He had no doubt that with this new weapon, the one who would win the battle for the throne would be Roland Wimbledon.
When he thought about fighting for the future king and the promising opportunities he would get, Iron Axe became wholly excited.
“Everyone, come down to gather!”
When Iron Axe heard this shout, he took a quick look through the window and saw Roland’s chief knight Carter and four other knights coming.
Iron Axe first finished dressing himself, then walked down the stairs to stand at attention in front of Carter. Since he had participated in the militia training, he knew that His Highness preferred discipline, since he would adjust them to a unitof uniformity. The other members of his hunting squad were a lot slower. It took about six to seven minutes before they lined up as a team.
“Everyone, follow me to the old place.” Carter didn’t care much about how the hunter squad lined up. Instead, he went straight to the city wall.
It was still the same place as the explosion test. But this time, His Highness didn’t set up a safety area.
In addition to Roland, there were already four knights waiting for them – they were all Carter’s subordinates. Iron Axe noted that His Highness had begun to play with an unusually shaped iron stick while explaining something to the knights.
When Roland saw the hunting squad, he came to them and asked, “How is living at the new houses? Have you already become used to it?”
“Thank you for Your Highness’ care.” everyone bowed and stated that the new homes were comfortable.
In fact, the new houses they moved into were many times better than the old homes. At least they had no air leaks, and the roofs were also not made of translucent straw bedding, but were made of neat and tidy tiles instead.
“This is good,” Roland nodded, pleased, “The current arrangements are needed out of security reasons. But you will only need to live there until the end of the Months of the Demons, then you will be able to move back to your former living places. In addition, the salary for the first month has been paid to your families, and every weekend you will be allowed to see them face to face. Of course, you will be accompanied by guards. “
“Thank you for your kindness, Your Highness.” Said the hunter squad cheerfully.
This was really a bit surprising for Iron Axe. Leaving aside the law of Sand Nation, even the military management of Graycastle shouldn’t be this lax. Could it be that this was because of His Highness’ kindness? Iron Axe became somewhat worried, if His Highness wanted to compete for the throne, he needed to be ruthless – this he knew well from his life in Sand Nation.
However, when the 4th Prince began to talk about new weapons, based on the development of the gunpowder, he put his worries into the back of his mind. Iron Axe stared without blinking at the two iron bars which the prince had placed in front of them.
“These weapons are called ‘guns’,” Roland said, “Next, I’ll tell you how to use them. “
In the next half hour, they had to learn how to use the new weapons.
Take the black powder which was the cause of the explosion and fill it into the barrel of the gun. Then, a lead ball was stuffed with a poker into the barrel, straight to the end. After that, they had to pour the gunpowder into the igniting chamber, aim, and then pull the trigger.
Iron Axe had considered himself to be a master of many weapons, whether it be swords, knives, hammers, axes or spears. He was well trained with all of them, but he had also needed long years of training and combat skills to master them. Learning how to use a new weapon in only thirty minutes, he was afraid that the speed to master this weapon could only be compared to the crossbow.
The other gun was handed to Carter.
The chief knight was also full of interest in the novelty of this weapon, and he didn’t want to put them down.
After several rounds of simulation, Roland set up two targets to let them see the power of the guns. The first target had wooden armor in front of its chest. The wooden armor was held up by two knights standing at a distance of about thirty feet away.
The Prince led Carter and Iron Axe through the shooting technique. Then, they aimed and pulled the trigger.
When they heard the loud sound of fire, every person present jumped up out of shock. Iron Axe was no exception, but soon only surprise was left on everyone’s face.
Looking at the targets’ wooden armor, they could see a small hole. The lead ball had cleanly shot through the chest armor’s thickest part.
Before shooting, Iron Axe had carefully observed this armor. It was clearly not a handicraft workshop’s inferior product built from bad materials. The marks of the hammer and anvil on the neckline proved that this was a product of Graycastle’s blacksmith standard. The thickest part was half a finger thick and was strong enough that it could ward off a direct hit from a crossbow, fired at the closest distance. To deal with this kind of armor, a heavy crossbow or a warhammer would be a wise choice.
So comparing it with a crossbow, the difficulty to use the weapon was the same, but the power of a gun was far better than that of a crossbow. In addition, the gun’s loading speed and the loading speed of a crossbow were nearly equivalent, so… looking at the target which was thirty feet away, Iron Axe couldn’t see a problem.
“Your Highness, how many weapons do we have of this kind?” asked Carter.
“Currently, only these two and until the Months of the Demons, we can only produce two more at most.”
Iron Axe could see that hearing this, Carter was clearly relieved. He was able to guess Carter’s thoughts. If this weapon was easy to manufacture, then with only a few days of training, everyone would be able to train a large number of ‘express warriors’ who were bringing guns to battle. Then people at any age, with any strength and even any sex – even a fragile woman, could be a significant threat to the knights.
Although the shock he got from this weapon was smaller than that of the curse of fire, it still was a powerful weapon. Iron Axe thought, with this great power they could easily kill a large number of rugged-flesh demonic beasts from high up on the wall. Even if they would face a mixed species, with these firearms, maybe the outcome would be not so embarrassing.
But the real significance of such a weapon was clear to Roland.
He personally opened the door to the time of wars with hot weapons.