This is an excerpt from an upcoming Splintered Lands story titled Kingdoms in Conflict.
Galdere muttered and cursed and shouted at the soldiers that reported to him as they struggled to fit together the second of the lever-armed devices. The technologically-minded soldier still hadn’t come up with a name for his creation, but he would, eventually. It was hardly relevant at the moment. And most people just called them giant slings anyway, which was accurate enough. It was what he’d based them on, after all. Just using the power of nature to do the tossing, instead of the power of a human’s arm.
As they assembled the second of the devices, there was another team in the woods, hunting down appropriately shaped trees and limbs to be used to create a third. And to create more spare parts, which were in constant demand. There was now a second set of embankments around the giant slings, one facing outwards, in case of an enemy raid, and the other at the rear, with a low trench behind it. That was where everyone stood when the device was being fired. No one trusted it not to throw splinters all over the place. Especially not after it had almost taken the arm from one unlucky soldier. Still, the risks were worth it.
Nearby, Hálsung and Iudas stood watching the assembly process, occasionally turning when there was a thump from the more distant device. First to see if anyone had been killed, and second to follow the flight of the ball as it impacted into the wall or flew over into the town. Although it was clearly damaging the walls, progress was slow, much to slow for the liking of the baron, and of his army’s food supplies. So now he debated ways to speed the matter up with his subordinate.
“And what would you fling into a town you wished to conquer, Hálsung?”
“I’ve always used arrows and sling stones, lord.”
“So have I, but neither of those seem to be that effective.” He drummed his fingers on his chin as he paced up and down, staring at the walls of Abboddóm. “Perhaps fire?”
“How would we do that?”
“Well, we’re throwing stones, right? Why not carve the spheres from wood, hollow them out a bit, and fill them with burning tinder? If we fire them fast enough they won’t damage the slings. Galdere, come here!” That last was in a shout that carried across the battlefield and cut through the technological soldiers meandering curses.
“Would firing partially hollow spheres of wood that were on fire work?”
Galdere pondered for a moment. “I don’t see why not. We might need to weight them down with a few stones so they flew farther, but I’m sure we can manage. I’ll play around with a few designs this afternoon after I get the sling up and firing, and we’ll try them out overnight.”
Iudas clapped him on the shoulder. “Good man. Just don’t take too long.”
The veteran blanched.