Second chapter of the book I was asked to post. Chapter 1 is going down next week, so read it if you haven’t!
Ding! Clong! Clash! Bang! The sound of five hundred soldiers packing was definitely not silent. In fact, it could be said to be deafening. The five hundred soldiers consisted of three hundred Crackernians, one hundred Seanians and one hundred Claydadanians.
Andrew was busy himself. He had wanted to pack his things by himself as, he said: ‘Whenever those unreliable soldiers pack my things, one thing or another is always missing.’
He strapped a helmet to his saddle and wrapped his sword up in his cloak before attaching it to his horse. Then he added some food and utensils.
A Crackernian soldier came up and stood there watching Andrew pack. His eyes traveled over all the things Andrew had strapped to his horse. Already the horse was sweating under the scorching noonday sun.
The soldier looked disgusted and he spoke out in a loud voice saying, “You bring much too many things.” Andrew gave a puzzled look in the soldier’s direction. The soldier had spoken in Gillish, which was the national langue of Crackernia. Though Andrew recognized the language, understanding it was another matter. He had not spoken Gillish ever since he finished his schooling and had forgotten most of it. Andrew puzzled over the words in his head then looking appealingly at Kolan who had just come up.
“Please do not feel offended,” Kolan began in Darese which was mainly used in Claydad. “But he said you bring too many things.”
“Well, what did he bring?” Andrew asked sharply. “I need these things to live. I would be insane to bring less.”
Kolan translated what Andrew had said, omitting Andrew’s tone of voice. The soldier then gladly led Andrew to a quiet intersection in the road where there was naught but a little bundle. Andrew looked around for a horse but saw none.
Kolan had not followed them so the soldier lifted the bundle on his back to demonstrate. Andrew nodded assent and the soldier pointed to it and put his hands together and rested his head on them. Then he pointed to it again and pretended to put food into his mouth. Andrew nodded again and the soldier walked off to attend to some other business.
As Andrew made his way back, he thought of what he had just seen. The man had wrapped his food up in the cloak he used to sleep on and that was his bundle. His weapons were a light coat of mail, a short sword sheathed on his left, a quiver of arrows on his right, a knife tucked in his belt, a bullwhip was attached to his belt as well and that completed his outfit!
Suddenly, Andrew came to the realization that all the Crackernians, including Tarksee, were armed like this. They moved about swiftly and easily while here was he, Peter, and their people, strapped in burning armor plates and moving about stiffly. No wonder the people of Crackernia were so successful.
Suddenly all was silent. Then as one, the men all mounted their horses or shouldered their packs. Then they were off! Off to the lost Kingdom of Samaaria!
Andrew rode up beside Tarksee and the fell into idle conversation. Tarksee was talking about his need for horses and Andrew was given the uncomfortable impression that Tarksee was begging him for some of Claydad’s fine stallions. When Tarksee paused for awhile, Andrew asked. “Can you teach me Gillish?” Tarksee nodded assent and the rest of the day was spent riding, walking, and learning Gillish.
At night, a tent was set up and in it, Tarksee, Kolan, Peter and Andrew housed a military conference Tarksee had called.
Tarksee spread a large map before them and planted his finger on a spot in it. “This is where we are.” He said. “At the mouth of Bandit Canyon.” Moving his finger along the map he continued. “Then we’ll come to Bandit Pass. After that, we will pass through these deserted lands here. Then, we’ll have to fight our way through Medisia. The forest of dangers is our last obstacle. Then we’re in Samaaria.”
“Why does Bandit Canyon and Bandit Pass both have the word ‘bandit’ in them?” Andrew asked, even though in his heart, he knew the answer.
“Because,” Peter said slowly stroking his beard. “Travelers going through it are attacked by the bandits. Nobody knows how many there are, but I doubt they’ll attack such a big party. Will they?” Peter asked.
“Over the years, the bandits have built up strength and confidence.” Kolan replied. “We may be a big party. But doubtlessly they have more men than us. It will take caution and clever planning to pass through Bandit Canyon. I hear their leader is very clever in military tactics.”
“I have a strategy,” Tarksee put in. “I’m not sure it’s a good one but I figure it’s worth a try. The Seanians with the horses, will be on the inside with several Crackernian archers who will only use their longbows. The rest of the soldiers form a sort of ring around them. They should double it to make harder to penetrate.” The others all agreed and they went to bed satisfied.
The next morning, the plan was set into motion. The Seanians were a little put out at having to go in the middle, where there was less action, but they obeyed commands. The soldiers unexpectedly managed to triple the ring, which made their formation even stronger.
However, Tarksee had missed out a vital disadvantage. In Bandit Canyon, the walls of rock towered fifty feet above the ground. The longbow men in the middle, despite their renowned shooting, could hardly get a fair shot at the enemies archers above, who were definitely going to rain storm after storm of arrows on them.
Worse yet, the bows might not be powerful enough to carry their projectiles up, and their own arrows might come speeding back down, killing some of their own men. The soldiers grew very restless at hearing the news of these enormous odds they faced.
The four leaders then decided to hold another council in which they finally decided that one hundred Crackernians and twenty-five Claydadanians would climb up one side of the canyon. Another party of equal number would climb up the other side. The remaining army would rush into the canyon after the army on top had defeated the archers above who, not expecting an attack, would most likely be defeated without much trouble. Then the archers above, having defeated the enemy archers, would give the army fighting below reinforcements by firing down with their bows.
The soldiers were very much relieved after hearing this plan and quickly got to work. It had been decided that Tarksee would lead one part, Kolan the other. It was amazing to see the soldiers ascend what looked like a smooth wall of rock. Now and then, warnings were shouted out as loose shale tumbled down.
Upon the walls of rock, a bustle of confusion was heard. The clanging of metal against metal and the death cries of men came raining down. Dust rose up from the tops of the walls as the battle continued, and, now and then, a body or arrow would come falling down. Suddenly, all was silent and Peter and Andrew commanded the army to charge into the canyon. They were met by an army of bandits two times their size. But Andrew, confident of the archers above, continued to press forward.
A fierce onslaught ensued, each soldier battling for his life. Bandits fell thick and heavy while the solders, covered in metal, only were taken down now and then. Suddenly, a hail of two hundred arrows came raining down, and one hundred and fifty bandits fell, some with several arrows protruding from their corpses.
Andrew, assured now that his reinforcements were ready, charged in, and swung his sword with even more vigor. Andrew soon found himself caught in the middle of the enemy ranks, while Peter was careful to stay at the edge of the enemy ranks.
Andrew now faced an enormous bandit; about two times his size. The bandit raised his wooden bludgeon and struck at Andrew. Andrew quickly parried the blow with his claymore.
Before Andrew could return the blow, the bludgeon came whistling down again. This time, the tip of the bludgeon struck Andrew’s sword near the wrist so that he felt like his wrist was broken in two.
He opened his hand reflexively, and his sword clattered to the floor. The bandit gave an evil laugh and raised his hand for a final deadly strike. Just then, an arrow came whistling down and as it pierced the bandit’s side, Andrew saw him grimace in pain. He fell heavily upon the floor and Andrew quickly retrieved his sword. Looking up to see who had saved him, Andrew saw Tarksee wave down at him.
Raising is sword into the air, Andrew shouted out in a strong clear voice. “Charge! Let’s push them out of the canyon. Charge!” Andrew urged his army along as he would urge his horse, and when they finally subdued the number of bandits to about one hundred, the bandits retreated quickly, leaving Andrew and his army victorious.
As Peter called the army together to count them, he whispered to Andrew. “I never knew bandits could put up such a big fight.”
Altogether, after the counting had been done, they found twenty Seanians were dead and two wounded. Nine Claydadanians were killed also, reducing their number to four hundred and seventy-one. They held a vote to see if they should wait for reinforcements or not. The vote turned out four hundred and thirty-seven to continue, and to fifty-five to stay. Obviously the soldiers were in good spirits.
They set camp for the night, and posted guards, in case the bandit decided to make a sneak attack in the night. But in the morning, it appeared that the bandits thought it wiser to stay away from them, as they found the night uneventful. So, though not so spry as the first time, but still with energy, the men packed their belongings and were on their way again.
On the road, Andrew thought he saw bandits skulking around in the underbrush but he said naught of them. Doubtlessly they would reveal themselves soon enough.
Suddenly, a hail of thirty arrows flew out from the underbrush and rained upon their party. Ten Crackernians fell of their horses stone dead, each with three arrows stuck in him. There was absolutely no doubt the bandits believed the legend that it took three arrows to kill one Crackernian.
The big army made quick work of the threescore and ten army of bandits, with the loss of nine more of their men; which was quite heavy, considering their loss from the other battle. Andrew’s party had shrunken down to four hundred and fifty-two, it being two hundred and eighty-seven Crackernians, eighty-five Claydadanians, and eighty Seanians. They held votes again but it was eventually decided that they would continue.
But they faced a greater threat. The noonday sun was scorching hot, and the men began taking of their armor; piece by piece.
“Put your mail back on!” Tarksee ordered, his face covered with beads of perspiration. He had his chainmail still on and was evidently struggling with the heat.
The Seanians, used to the cold water of the sea, started falling to the ground, each burning with a terrible fever. Each surviving man was now carrying his armor; refusing to put it back on, no matter how the leaders urged them or shouted at them.
Now and then, a man would collapse to the ground, utterly exhausted, and burning with a high fever. When night finally came, it was no relief to those who had been taken by the day’s burning sun. In its bitter coldness, each man who was had been burning with fever, was freezing to death.
No matter how many blankets were wrapped around them, they still cried out, their pitiful voices embroidered with pain and suffering. The surviving men did their best to keep the sick warm, but in the morning, ever single sick man was dead.
Some of them who were not sick had also died that terrible night. In the morning, they counted the men in their unfortunate expedition only to find that every single Seanian except for Peter, who, used to both sides, hot and cold, had died. There was forty-seven Claydadanians and two hundred and seven Crackernians left.
They rested the next day. Not because they wanted to, but because they had too. The men could not keep up with the fast pace of their leaders, so they had become very tired. The day after that, they gathered the dead and buried them in an enormous hole; dug in the sand by hand and by sword. After completing that, they hid the weapons in some undergrowth. Finally, they gathered up their belongings, not knowing that this perilous journey would end soon.
******End of Chapter 3******
Hope you enjoyed! 🙂
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne