It was hard for Lucy to believe they were actually doing a night assault. Compared to waking up early in the morning for a midmorning assault, it actually seemed like it might be more difficult… but that would only be if it wasn’t planned. Wizards needed proper time to prepare spells and rest… but nobody said that had to start in the normal morning.
In short, Major Erling had actually listened and considered the enemy mages a significant enough threat to work around them. They didn’t know an attack would be happening, and their side did. Lucy and the others had a few days to get used to sleeping during the day before the battle. While Scoubar had enough mages that some of them would always be on the night shift, especially when anticipating an attack, fewer of them would be prepared. The others might wake up with half their spells prepared and either have to spend time rememorizing the rest or come out to battle without a full complement of spells. Lucy doubted they would be careless enough to be completely useless even if caught off guard, but every bit of delay or weakness they could cause to the mages was good enough. A normal soldier could be roused quickly enough and be functional even in the middle of the night, but magic was a bit more delicate.
The main force would be attacking the walls soon- but Lucy’s team was already crossing the river. Doing so at night was more risky, especially without light, but the Brentgar was relatively calm at its current point- and deep enough that there were no rocks or strange currents to worry about. Lucy went over on the second of three boats, each carrying more or less ten people. They didn’t expect to run into any issues, but even so they had decided to take the mages across separate from each other.
Once they reached the far side, the boats were pulled upriver slightly and two soldiers rowed each boat back across. Thus, in total, even though the boats carried ten soldiers only eight made it across per boat per trip. Out of a company of one hundred, about half of them plus all of the mages were across at the end of the second trip. Lucy trusted the captain to continue as planned, and she led the mages on their short hike up-river.
They needed to arrive before the company with them- if they wanted anything to be a surprise. Even at night a company would be easily noticed approaching the walls of the city. When they could just barely see the city walls through the edge of the trees- which were kept cut back almost half a kilometer- they cast their invisibility spells. Isabel had managed to learn one, and Morgan could also cast one as well. His wouldn’t be as difficult to detect, but they just needed to reach near the walls before anyone noticed.
They walked along quietly, but everyone’s footsteps rang loudly in Lucy’s ears. Fortunately, their timing was right… the attack was just starting on the front of Agrila. She could hear the sounds from there and see some of the soldiers approaching the walls. They would be doing their best to take minimal losses while still seeming like a real threat… and perhaps they could succeed without help. They outnumbered the enemy, but Lucy could feel magic being cast… and the defensive walls likely made up for the numbers.
But that was what they were for. They were nearly to the walls. Lucy only saw one mage standing watch over the river. It was unfortunate he hadn’t been called away to the battle… but they apparently maintained a level of caution. Smart, but annoying. Even so, he was about halfway across the river… it was still maybe fifty meters from where they would be. There was no way he wouldn’t notice once they started doing magic, but… “Watch out for him, Isabel. In the middle of the wall.”
There was a pause, then Isabel replied, “I see him.” She had nodded her head, but they were currently still invisible. Not for long though.
They stood right at the base of the wall- a few meters back from the wall and to the side of the river. Lucy dropped her invisibility- if nobody was peeking over the walls down at them, they wouldn’t be seen… and it wouldn’t be long before the mage noticed them. She began to cast her spell, and before she even finished the words there was a cry of alarm.
Morgan’s magic had perhaps been excessively obvious, but he still needed more practice… and once Lucy’s spell started worming its way into the water and soil it became more obvious still.
Fortunately, most of the guards were dealing with the battle. There were only a handful of archers and the mage nearby… since they had to watch several kilometers of wall, there was only so much that could be done unless they had thousands of troops. If they’d had that many, then the attack wouldn’t have even been considered. Even attacking with ‘only’ about four times their numbers- two thousand versus five hundred- was considered risky.
Arrows started flying down from the walls, but everyone had shields that could stand up to a few arrows. A quick bolt of fire from Isabel washed over one of the archers- perhaps he didn’t die, but his clothes and bowstring caught on fire and he disappeared from view. The mage was running along the walls up above- fifty meters was outside of comfortable range for most spells. Lucy wanted to do something, but she chose to trust Isabel and concentrate on her magic. She felt the ground wearing away… but it didn’t feel fast enough. Nothing felt fast enough in combat.
Isabel shot another bolt of fire at the mage, but he waved his arm and deflected it. That was one improvement to the wall’s defenses they hadn’t been sure about… and while it seemed to take some effort to activate, even a relatively small supply of magic could outlast a few mages without compromising the integrity of the wards.
Lucy ducked to the side, feeling heat wash over her from the mage on top of the wall countering with his own bolt of fire. Her shields had reduced the effect, but her left arm was still uncomfortably hot. She tightened her grip on the spell below the wall and increased her flow of magic to it, and she could feel Morgan and Jonathan do the same. The company should be marching in behind them… and reinforcements would be coming from the city. They had to hurry, and they couldn’t keep up their efforts while under attack. Huge amounts of sediment were being carried away by the river, but it just wasn’t enough yet.
Isabel directed more fire towards the mage, but he once again deflected the fire above him. That effort hadn’t stopped him from the spell he was in the middle of either, one Isabel had been trying to interrupt. A large mass of energy flew out from him, in the form of a larger fireball- the four mages down below were all relatively close to each other. Lucy almost gave up her spell… but Isabel stepped forward.
A shield spell? Could she really safely block so much? Lucy almost felt like she should have made another decision, until she felt the shield meet the fireball halfway to them. Isabel’s shield didn’t have much power behind it… but it made the fireball explode as it impacted. Smaller streaks of fire continued from, but as one landed next to Lucy she could barely even feel it. Isabel countered with another quick spell of her own- her mouth moved quickly, magical runes swirling about her, and she launched another bolt of fire. This one was weaker… but faster. The mage on the wall moved to deflect it, but it curved slightly to hit one of the archers next to him. Even so, he half-deflected that, leaving the archer merely signed and with a functional bow.
“Aaargh!” Isabel shouted. “I hate this.” She kicked the ground, her eyes staying on the walls preparing to avoid arrows or magic. Then she suddenly bent down and grabbed at the ground. She picked up a rock and chucked it at the walls. To her credit, it caused the mage to duck out of the way and not cast a spell, but Isabel just stomped her foot in frustration. At the same time, she used a firebolt to take out another archer as an arrow scraped past her ribs, deflecting off of her personal shields.
Lucy wasn’t sure if she should intervene yet. Things weren’t going well, and she had the best chance of stopping the mage on the wall… but she was also needed to attempt to bring down the wall. It wasn’t enough yet…