This is the 1st chapter of my NaNoWriMo attempt, “The Invasion from the Sands”. Consider this as a “preview” of…EVERYTHING! LOL
1585 TR, 5th month, 13th day
City of Blazund, Kingdom of Sundol
It began as any other day before it. The city was right at the edge of the border of the kingdom, near the desert called the Great Sea of Sands. The desert served as the barrier between Trablus and Ilsentur to the south, thus trade between the countries of either regions are made through the sea, and not through this other sea. Blazund is by no means a big city; it is somewhat prosperous and thriving, but it cannot boast the same vibrancy as the capital. Its proximity to the desert might have an effect on that.
Recently, however, there were rumors that goods from Ilsentur stopped arriving at ports which previously receive such goods. Merchants from this port cities eventually confirmed such rumors once they arrived in the city, having nonexistent stocks of the exotic products of the South. Many have attributed it to perhaps bad weather to the South, some thought that maybe a conflict was brewing to the South among the nations there. Practically no one thought they would be coming across the sands.
The guard was doing his usual rounds. Today he was assigned to the southern part of the city walls. This of course is the portion of the wall that affords the clearest view of the desert nearby. Such a fact makes the guard’s typical patrol slightly less interesting; seeing sand for miles and miles for your entire shift is most certainly boring. Until now.
“Well, at least a guard doesn’t get stuck to the same part of the wall everyday,” he mutters to himself. “Maybe walking along the wall might be a good idea.”
After his third time walking back and forth along his assigned area, his superior passes by. The guard salutes the guard-captain as they encounter each other.
“The guard-captain really has a lot of energy, it seems. He’s walking around the walls again!”, he thought. “And that means he’ll be doing rounds around the city itself later on too. Can’t really blame him for doing that though.” The guard sighs.
“This city is peaceful, not much work for us guards really. All of us are having it easy here,” he says aloud this time. “I’m not saying that something bad should happen though, just maybe some action would do?”, he asks no one in particular. He then shifts his gaze towards the desert. “I’ll start by counting the grains of sand I can see, I guess? That’s a start, huh?” He laughs at the stupidity of what he just thought.
But then something does catches his eyes. He squints towards the desert, thinking perhaps its another trick of light and the sands. But as he scans the whole desert, the truth dawns upon him. It was not an illusion, and perhaps his wish was indeed answered.
There was a huge army marching, quickly, through the desert. He has no choice but to ring the alarm and find the guard captain immediately.
“Shalif Telmothep, we have sighted the city,” the officer reports. “It is the city of Blazund, the southernmost of the Kingdom of Sundol. How would we capture it, Shalif?”
“Shalif”, or “General” in the Pershepanean tongue. There are only three of them at any given time, each corresponding to one of the armies of Pershepane.
“I would guess a direct assault is a viable option,” Telmothep responds. “According to the reports, Blazund is lightly defended. There won’t be much casualties if we assault the city immediately.”
“Yes, Shalif. Reports have indicated such. So what would be the specific plans then for the assault?”, the officer asks.
“Plans? Detach only a small portion of our forces for the assault. Perhaps the 2nd and 5th would be enough,” Telmothep answers. “Then the 5th should follow the main forces to the north. The 2nd would occupy the city and the surrounding area.”
“As you say, Shalif.” The officer salutes. “For Hierathis, and for Pershepon.”
“Indeed…for Hierathis, and for Pershepon. We will bring Trablus to its knees.”
The officer leaves Shalif Telmothep’s tent. He sends orders to the 2nd and 5th to assault the city, as well as their specific instructions after its fall. He is predicting a quick capture of the city, and he tells the two forces’ respective commanders that they must not disappoint.
More than an hour passes, and it has been reported that the city has been captured. Most of the city guard has been killed, the survivors taken as prisoners. Many of the residents, including the mayor, have been able to flee towards the north, but the officer sees their effort as pointless. The main force would eventually reach them soon anyway. The battle was quick, since there weren’t that many defenders to begin with. He proceeds to the Shalif’s tent to report.
“Shalif,” he calls out.
“Yes? Has the city been captured already?”
“The city has been captured, Shalif. There were less defenders than we thought, thus the quick fight,” the officer replies. “Even sending only either of the two would have sufficed, Shalif.”
“Well, I made my decisions back then based on the reports we have. One of the divisions I assigned to the assault would be following the main force immediately anyway.” Telmothep stands up, and paces around the tent. “Tell the 2nd’s commander that he would be in charge of the occupied area here in the south. Now, the main force must move. Alert the 5th to follow immediately. We will press north towards Sundol City itself.”
“As you command, Shalif.”
“For Hierathis, and for Pershepon.”
“Yes, Shalif. For Hierathis, and for Pershepon.”
The army from Pershepane moved quickly towards the north after the capture of Blazund. The commander aims to capture the kingdom’s capital immediately. With their relative haste in their march, they were able to capture most of the refugees from Blazund. The mayor, and some of the clergy of the temples in the city were taken prisoner. They were brought outside of the commander’s tent, with the army resting after the forced march through the desert, as well as the capture of Blazund. With their quick pace they were able to march a third of the way through towards the capital.
“Shalif, here are the prisoners,” his executive officer announced. “Some clerics of their deities, as well as Blazund’s…former, mayor.”
“I see a priestess of Cidenna among them…bring her closer to me.”
“Very well, Shalif.” The officer turns towards the soldiers. “You heard the Shalif, men, bring her away from the group and closer to him.”
The other clerics were calm. The priestess of Cidenna even more so. The mayor was quite vocal in his protests however, prompting the soldiers to gag his mouth.
“Ah, yes. The medallion does indeed marks you as her priestess,” Telmothep remarked. “Can you perhaps send a message of mine to your goddess?”
“You have no right to command me, heathen scum!”, the priestess replied, finally breaking her calm demeanor with a quiet anger.
“You should watch your words, priestess, especially when talking with me…” Shalif Telmothep brandishes his sword, and promptly kills the priestess.
“Only one deity should have power over the sun, that is the message dear priestess,” Telmothep said. “And you have delivered it to your goddess already. Kill the others. We do not have to waste some sustenance for them. Especially that mayor, even gagged he’s still annoyingly noisy. Silence him permanently.”
“As you wish, Shalif,” the officer answered. “Bring the prisoners to some clearing nearby. Carry out their executions immediately. The clerics of our king’s enemies must be eliminated, their followers swayed to convert our faith, or be killed. That is the will of the true gods.”
“Our King, the Sun Lord Pershepon, would be pleased tonight.”
“Commander! Refugees have been sighted by the guards manning the city’s southern wall!” A soldier exclaims, looking at who is presumably the “commander.”
“I am not deaf, young soldier. I can clearly hear you without the need to shout,” the commander replied.
“My apologies, commander,” the soldier answered.
“Apology accepted, of course. I can understand how you are feeling right now, young one. A mixture of anxiety, excitement and uncertainty, I presume?” The commander gestures as if waving away something. “Never mind my ramblings. So that would mean the rumors are true. The kingdom is under attack then. Who is leading the refugees towards the capital then? Where are they from?”
“Sir, they are mostly people from the south, the bulk are from Blazund. I do not know who exactly leads them here, but I would assume the messenger on his way to the castle right now would know.”
“Very well then…summon the other commanders to the Hall of Command. The king would be there already, and I would think the Crown Prince as well. Tell the messenger to proceed there directly once he arrives at the castle.”
“As you command, sir!” The soldier hurries away from the commander’s quarters, looking to quickly carry out the orders he has just received.
The commander quietly proceeds to the Hall of Command, on the way still mulling this unexpected development. The commander is the most senior among the kingdom’s armed forces; he has been commander for two kings already, and there’s a possibility that he would still be the chief commander for the current Crown Prince once he ascends to the kingship. But such thoughts are not what is occupying the commander’s mind right now.
“Commander Sotten! The others are here already. We are but waiting for the messenger now that you have arrived.” The king said as Commander Sotten arrived. The messenger arrived but a few moments after him.
The messenger bows before those gathered, and kneels before the king; his appearance is very ragged and unkempt; it is obvious that he had barely enough rest, food and drink.
“Your Highness…Blazund has fallen. Many were able to flee the city, but half was captured by their forces as we neared Endor. The city mayor, and most of the city’s clergy were taken…the guard captain of the city is leading us right now…we barely even made it to the capital, Your Majesty…”
“Why don’t you slow down a bit, young boy? Don’t force yourself if you cannot speak any further,” the king replied.
“Sire, I can speak yet! You must…hear this immediately. Maybe in 2 or 3 days they would be near the capital now…Pershepane has invaded the kingdom, Your Majesty.” Surprise can be heard from among the gathered, even the king.
“Pershepane…? How? So they…they crossed the desert? Why would they be invading our kingdom?” The king asked.
“It was for their king, Your Highness. They invaded us for their king…”, the messenger answered. He is now barely able to stand, and the king notices this.
“Enough, young boy. You have said enough.” The king said. He gestures to a soldier. “Let the lad rest, and make sure he is fed. He has already done me and the kingdom a great service.”
The king looks around the people gathered in the room, his last glance being at Commander Sotten.
“This is dire news…grave tidings indeed. Very well, brief me about our available forces then. How much can be immediately deployed for the capital’s defense? Commander Sotten?”
“My King, the 3rd and 7th are currently in the city, plus the Capital Guard. Then of course there is the castle’s Royal Guard. The Prince’s Division is also here in the city.”
“Very well, so we can at least leave the Capital and Royal Guards to defend the city itself. We can deploy the 3rd and 7th,” the king said. “What of other forces nearby? Are there any forces in Fort Chabral and Fort Guilon?”
“The 1st and 2nd are in Fort Chabral, Your Majesty,” another commander, Commander Vingeet, answered. “The 4th and 6th are in Guilon.”
“I see. Bring the 1st and 2nd to the capital at once. Order the 4th to man Chabral. What of the 5th and 8th?”
“The 5th and 8th would be arriving tomorrow morning, Your Highness,” Commander Sotten answered. “Initially they are to relieve the 3rd and 7th, but because of the situation right now, they would instead be adding to the forces here in the city.”
“The 9th can also be brought to the capital, Your Majesty,” stated Esthern’s mayor, Finion Eleddir. “If Esthern would not be under attack during the attack on the capital in three days’ time, the 10th can also follow. The Esthern Guards would perhaps suffice for the city’s defense in that case.”
“Very well then, mayor Finion,” the king replied. “So in overview, that would mean eight divisions for our forces, and perhaps even nine. Those eight, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th plus the Prince’s Division would be deployed. Since we don’t really know how many the enemy troops would be, I would be assuming that they would outnumber us somewhat. The eight divisions would hold the line a bit further to the south of the capital. We would thus avoid a siege with barely any preparations, and would give time to our other forces to proceed to the defense of the capital city. The delaying action would only be done in as minimum a time as possible. We wouldn’t want it to be a cause of large casualties, or be a protracted confrontation with the enemy.”
“So if we succeed with delaying the enemy forces, Your Highness, we could then establish a new defensive line to the south which would be nearer to the capital with the additional gathered forces and still be able to avoid attempts to surround the capital city and lay siege to it. Is that what is on your mind, Your Majesty?” Commander Sotten inquired.
“Yes, Commander Sotten. That is indeed the plan I have in mind. That is assuming that they are just barely outnumbering our forces immediately available for the delaying action however,” the king replied. “If the disparity in numbers would be even greater, it would not be a relatively short delaying action any longer. We would look to inflict as much casualties in a longer period of time, but avoid establishing a second line of defense to the south. Encirclement, or near-encirclement at best, of the city would probably be inevitable. Our forces would then be looking to break out of the city, at least.”
“Commander Sotten, you would be leading the delaying forces. Commanders Vingeet and Piotr would be coming with you. The Prince would be coming along as well,” the king said. “Commanders Dinnel and Londaker would remain here in the capital and would take command of the forces that would be arriving in five days. In the best case scenario, the delaying action would be in two days’ time. At worst, well as long as it would take you Commander Sotten. Just make sure that you can still come back within four days to the capital city. That is all, may the gods be with us.”