Alexandros: Ch. 08byJoeBarnosky©
General Khaldun! Look!" A soldier, Chike, yelled pointing toward Pelusium.
"Have any of our scouts returned?" he asked looking out in the direction the soldier pointed out.
"No sir. But Pharaoh's messenger has arrived. Shall I have him sent in?"
"Yes, of course."
The area outside of Pelusium was lit up from many bonfires actively burning high into the sky. Khaldun peered out deep in thought. Something deep down in his bones told him Pharaoh needed to strike before whatever army out there decided to attack first.
"General," the messenger said as he knelt before Khaldun.
"What news from Pharaoh?"
"He is sending reinforcements here and gives you full permission to prepare and engage the enemy should the need arise. He also gives specific orders to not initiate an attack unless provoked."
This is a mistake. I'm commander of Pharaoh's army and I'm limited in what I can do.
"Very well," he said not taking his gaze from the horizon. "How long before the reinforcements arrive?"
"Two days behind me sir."
"I am to believe you will head back to Memphis?"
"You are correct sir. I am to report your agreement with Pharaoh's orders and any information you wish to pass along."
Khaldun dropped his gaze finally turning to face the messenger. If the messenger was at all intimidated by the general he did well to hide it. Khaldun, however, was able to see the telltale signs. The men in Pharaoh's army were intimidated by him not because of fear but out of respect. There wasn't a man in the entire kingdom that was able to defeat Khaldun in a fight and in his entire time as commander of Pharaoh's army, a battle. "I will carry out his orders. When you pass the reinforcements tell Semni to be on high alert."
"Very well sir. Will there be anything else before I take my leave?"
"No that will be all."
Khaldun waited until the messenger was out of earshot before he spoke. Chike waited silently and patiently, giving his full attention to his commander. "Rally the men and move to Phase II. We have a day before we begin our assault."
"Sir, not to argue against your command, but the messenger said Commander Semni was two days away. Shouldn't we wait until his arrival to attack?"
"Normally we would need to, but Semni will be here a day early. One thing you must learn Chike is to always be prepared. Semni understands that being on high alert means to double his efforts to get here.
"As to your concerns about disobeying Pharaoh's orders, we are not necessarily ignoring his commands but rather following them and using judgment in the field. Otherwise we will lose a great deal of men by means of unnecessary death."
Khaldun left Semni in charge over the troops as he and a small force including Chike maneuvered through the desert. Khaldun's plan was to flank the encampment and push the force toward Semni and the awaiting force.
The moon hung low this night engrossing the majority of the land in darkness which only aided Khaldun and his small force to move without worry of being seen. It also enabled the force to move in closer than he had anticipated; therefore reducing the time it would have otherwise taken.
They stayed silent as they encircled the enemy encampment, using hand signals to communicate. Once they had it flanked Khaldun and Chike climbed a large dune overlooking their enemies, leaving the remainder of the force at the bottom ready at a moment's notice and waiting for the signal to strike.
"What in the nine circles of hell is this?" Chike whispered in dismay.
What the two saw, neither could really explain. Before them stood a circle made stone encircled itself by smaller stones. Runes pulsated on the smaller stones fading in and out in synchronization with similar runes on the larger circle erected in the center. Intermingled with the mysterious stones were creatures and beasts. They were some of the most hideous things either man had ever seen. No two creatures or beast looked alike.
"I have never seen anything like it," Khaldun answered. He disliked not having an answer.
"I don't understand the language they speak," Chike remarked as he inched his way closer.
Khaldun quickly reached out grabbing Chike's clothing and pulled him back. "Where do you think you're going?"
"Sorry sir, I was just trying to hear what they were saying."
"You don't act without me telling you. Otherwise you'll get yourself and the rest of us killed," Khaldun said with anger seeping into his voice. Chike gave an apologetic look but remained silent. "I am going to guess that is their leader," Khaldun said pointing to the figure standing in front of the erected stone structure.
The imposing figure was surrounded by the other creatures. Massive, black wings protruded from his back. Two horns sprout from his head arching outward and forward as two others originating from the same spot shot out forward sloping down before pointing forward again. His chanting caused the stone circle to glow brighter. The center of it began to glow making it now impossible to see through. A sinking feeling crept into Khaldun's stomach as he could sense something bad was going to take place.
"Rally the men. We attack now."
Chike slide down the dune as quickly as he could. He barely managed to keep control of his descent. "Prepare yourselves! We attack now!"
The men with their weapons already in hand began shouting as they began running around and over the dune toward the encampment. As soon as the soldiers were in view Khaldun began running down the dune, taking his place in front of the men and leading them into the encampment. The creatures quickly stopped the chanting and turn their attention to the new threat.
Snarls and growls could be heard over the shouts of the soldiers as the creatures moved forward to intercept Khaldun's force. The leader as Khaldun marked remained where he was looking content that his force would succeed.
The two armies collided with brute force. Khaldun sliced through each creature that crossed his path. He ducked and sidestepped sometimes barely avoiding a blow. His target was the leader.
Khaldun's army wasn't having as much success as he was. In fact the troops that remained were barely holding up against the creatures. Chike tried to rally the remaining troops to no success. Before he knew it he was surrounded by three of the creatures.
He ducked the first strike against him then thrust his sword into the arm of the creature. It howled out from the strike snatching its arm back. The other two moved in catching Chike before he could react followed by the first. Within seconds the three creatures had his body torn pieces and strewn across the ground.
Khaldun leapt at the leader, his sword gripped tight in both hands. He came down upon the creature slicing through the air where it was no longer standing. He landed in a crotched position quickly bringing his sword back and across cutting only through air. The creature leapt back at the second attempt and laughed loudly at Khaldun. Foolish human. You dare to attack, not knowing who your enemy is or what they are capable of?
"Demon bastard!" he yelled. "I will send you back to Hades!"
He charged bringing his sword to bear. He swung his sword horizontally, using all his might aiming to cut the creature in half. The creature struck out catching Khaldun's wrist halting the swing. The creature held up a finger in front of Khaldun's face and moved it back and forth.
All you humans are the same, overconfident in your skills and stupid. The creature backhanded Khaldun, sending him reeling back. His sword landed on the ground in front of the creature. Khaldun landed on his back, the sand cushioning his fall and allowing him to quickly get to his feet.
The creature picked up the sword and sent it flying through the air and into the unsuspecting general. Khaldun wrapped his hands around the blade, close to his stomach. Blood poured from the wound and down his legs. He stumbled back until he lost his balance and tumbled backward. He fell, hitting his head upon one of the rocks containing a rune and darkness came quickly upon him.
The leader grinned before turning around to see the remaining troops quickly falling to the rest of his followers. Blood flowed across the desert sands staining the earth.
It's time to complete the ritual and open the gate. Our time is near. It is our right to rule over this world and these pathetic humans. Amnischnell will lead us to our first victory, starting with the puny force lying to the west. I, Vectivus will then engulf this land destroying all those that stand in our way!