Several hours later, the obvious loss of trees were seen near the southern part of the eastern gates as some were cut down to have spears that could be hidden on the rich, grassy ground.
Within the two groups that was now split up, two people would form together, and they would be in charge of using one spike to attack with. The spikes were as tall as two men, but they weren’t thicker than that of a person’s upper leg. I was told that they would help with the horses, that since we will have less men then that of the enemy, we need to get the horses down with these or we might as well surrender straight away.
They weren’t sure how many horses there were going to be, but it looked like they had gotten prepared with how many spikes that they were making!
The loss of trees could be used as a distraction, whether the enemy falls for it or not is another matter. If they slow down and have a look, it will bring our little force closer together and that could help us.
If they don’t fall for the obvious loss of trees, then we would be split up, which was fine too…Apparently.
The General had stated that it would be better if they check it out, so he asked for two trees to be cut and left there as though some kind of walk way, and then he ordered a fire to be prepared in the inside, so it would seem that someone is cooking food. Grounding some of the enemy, or hopefully all of the enemy, to that area, they would only have the south in order to run away, so, it would completely stop anyone from getting through the gates!
This was our order, and, in my eyes, the General seemed to know what he was doing…It wasn’t like I could come up with anything like this, so I was of no help at all!
As it was, I only understood now…Because, behind some of those trees was a river that cut off that side of Icklish to anywhere else. It wasn’t like we don’t use boats, but the gate walls go right up to the river and that river veers east a bit and then goes north west into Gelmain…This was a main reason why Gelmain went to war in the first place…Since the river was connected to Icklish, they were always worried that something may have happened to the water and if something did happen to the water, they had a lot of trouble getting water from another area. To them, it seemed wiser just to obtain the entirety of the south land while their forces had been larger then Icklish.
There is a rumour that states this and is known to Icklish, yet they had not found the evidence to support it, nonetheless, they have not poisoned the river.
Knowing that their whereabouts are probably known to the enemy, the General had to be extra cautious and play to the enemy knowing an idea of what they were doing, so, doing this was only a ploy, not something that they would depend on.
They had scouts that went out into seeing distance, but the enemy that they had spotted so far, had not come any closer, watching us from a far distance.
The General didn’t want our little force to split up, so we did nothing about the few enemies watching over us, and he even stated that we have probably severely done damage to the overall army of Gelmain, now the people there will have little moral and may not even want to be where they are.
Just as they watched us, we watched them, but no action was taken…
Who did come though, at sunset, was one of our messengers, finally coming with news!
Reading the report, the General was silent for a moment and he narrowed his eyes.
There was going to be a rider with a white flag to come through very soon and he was to inform the King of Gelmain of the situation.
“That old hoot is passing the buck!”
The General nodded, “He has no choice. We have cut him off.”
Silence overcame the area of a few men sleeping and a few men making more spears.
I really didn’t get it!
Passing the buck?
Cut him off?
It didn’t make any sense!
There was the western gate and the forest! How was he cut off!?
I picked up a parchment and wrote this down, really wanting to know what was going on! I was entirely curious why they talked the way they did, and the question was enough for me to ask in writing.
When the General read it, he looked down at me and went to speak, then stopped himself…
“Perhaps your right, messenger, where was General Whatts when you last saw him?”
“Heading here, General. The entirety of his army will no doubt be here in a few hours.”
Narrowing his eyes once again, the General went into contemplation. “West…Forest…They have the hill.”
His voice was mumbles and he looked from the west and to the middle of the forest.
The gates of the west were not even in sight, the forest was…But…
“He’s sending a rider through here…”
Getting up, taking me with him, the General suddenly yelled, “It’s a diversion. He plans to do a complete retreat. The old bastard really doesn’t want to kneel!”
“Sir, you mean he’d prefer to try and make a clean get away, just so that Gelmain didn’t have to give tribute?”
The General nodded. “His pride will be his downfall…You, go towards the western gate and report if you find his army. You, head towards Strider and report if you find his army. Everyone else get ready to move out!”
Within half an hour, no army of Icklish was left when the rider of Gelmain came through…
The General had been right, as General Whatts had wanted to take the western route out of Icklish, the direct opposite location as where he knew General Wilton was!
Upon leaving the eastern gate, the two groups of men were tired and cranky, as some hadn’t slept and had done a hard day’s labour, and some had to carry some spears.
Four spears were being taken by the General’s horse, another four by the Lieutenant’s horse, while eight others had to be carried.
The wounded didn’t carry any, luckily, as they still had troubles keeping up with everyone, to travel the distance to the western gate.
For the recruits, the journey would take at least a day, minimum. It could easily be done in eighteen hours straight if we had been well feed, not tired and not injured…But we weren’t.
…For the Gelmain troops, it may take a little longer, or shorter, depending on their rations.
General Wilton was hoping that the enemy was running low in rations and that they’d have to stop to hunt or loot, otherwise it may be too late!
The only other thing that they could hope for, is that the Gelmain army was going to stop and sleep…
Whatever the outcome, General Wilton knew that they had to get to the eastern gates as soon as possible!
After dark had come for a few hours, it seemed like the new recruits couldn’t go on.
The Lieutenant had already tried hitting their butts, but now it no longer works, they had to stop and make camp and let people get some rest.
The injured offered to watch, ready to make a sound if someone where to come, while the uninjured were going to sleep.
The General then came up with a plan to keep the injured behind, while they continue at a faster pace the next day. If they are luckily and get their first, and hopefully with time to spare, they would be able to set up their ambush, rest could be taken, and the people could be feed before the upcoming fight…They just had to get their first!
So, I was very lucky, because I slept a bit during the day and during the night.
Luckily my wound had stopped bleeding completely now, it was just sometimes painful if I moved.
Each time that I needed to do my personal business, even with the General persistence to help me, I demanded Neil and only Neil to help me, only hearing a sigh of defeat before getting permission.
It was a long twenty-four hours or more for everyone…But me…
So, in the middle of the night when I woke up, not tired anymore, I decided to keep watch with the injured.
It made perfect sense after all, I was indeed one of the injured!
The General had been awake at first, leaning against a tree, but I would often put my fingers over his eyes and force his eyelids to close.
He really didn’t like it, but I kept doing it and he finally relented and fell asleep.
After that, and hearing some sounds in the forest, I still wasn’t scared…
I was in the army, with a secret of being a female, I was injured with a stab wound and going towards a fight…And I wasn’t scared at all!
Absentmindedly rubbing the man’s hand, feeling a scar beneath my fingertips, I kept my eyes and ears opened…
Very early the next day, the injured people saw a few people wake and they waited for them to get them some food, while they kept watch over the others still sleeping.
By the time food was caught and ready to be cooked, everyone was now awake and ready to eat and then have to walk once again towards the western gate.
For a rare moment, I was on my own, while the General feed his horse and ate himself.
I saw him walk funny for a while there and pouted…
If he feels funny after holding me so much, why does he hold me all the time!
I just didn’t get it!
After we ate, we all left once again, while the injured slowly and slowly got further and further away from us.
They were going to stick together and come at their own pace. Since we were ahead of them, we would make sure no one was going to come from this direction, but just in case, the General gave the injured lot two men that will help look after them.
The gap between us grew and soon they might have been out of sight, but the western gates came in sight instead!
We were nearly there!
It was good, the injured will still be able to slowly get there in time and perhaps even sleep and help in the upcoming attack…That’s if…The Gelmain army hadn’t already arrived yet…
The scout that had been dispatched earlier, ran up to the General, “They haven’t passed, Sir. I went more inland this morning and found them still on their way.”
“Good work, get some rest while you can! We’ll be fighting soon enough!”
I looked up in worry to the General then and he might not have looked back down but he quietly said, “Hush, Puppy. I’ll keep you safe!”
Uh? Me!? I’m worry about all of you! Not me!
Then he looked down, “Then we can get you to a real doctor!”
I widened my eyes…A doctor? Is that all you care about!? What about the end of the war? Or victory? Or a real rest in a bed or a bath?
I didn’t get this man at all!
After two hours of preparing, we had finally gotten ready for the impending attack. There were no diversions, only an ambush in an ambush.
The spears were hidden in the ground, ready to be used against the army.
The scout had said that the left-over army of Gelmain now had eight hundred men left, having lost more and more as they had retreated but not claimed a peace treaty.
It was a harsh reality for the Gelmain soldiers, as they had watched their brothers die because of their General’s pride. If they had gotten a peace treaty, they would have been able to leave with four times the amount of men!
If they had strategized probably, and not had fallen into a trap, they would have several times the amount of men, but no, the army had been stabbed and stabbed, now, they were running and still getting stabbed!
They had not run out of rations, it was General Wilton’s second guess of them being exhausted. They have had to stop and sleep, so the trip had indeed taken more time but what else were they to do!
Since General Whatts had been so determined to run, Icklish had given him no chance to change his mind, even though he was now starting to regret his decision.
But…The western gate was in sight now!
They will survive and not have to pay tribute! They had also made it over half way through Icklish, making it easier for them to come back and just retake the land!
All he had to do was ask for more men and he will make Icklish pay with the rest of their people’s blood!
Then, wouldn’t it be worth the running now?
Wouldn’t he be a hero for running and not having to go to peace and have his people pay Icklish, when Icklish was so beneath them!
The amount of troubles to go back to war with them, could delay them overtaking this land as their own easily by ten years!
So not only was a tribute going to make the King of Gelmain look extremely insulted because they had to lower themselves to a lesser country, but the time that they would have to wait to get as far as they had this time, could make this war now a waste of their time and energy!
The men had not come here to die needlessly, he was going to return and finish what he has started!
This was the pride of General Whatts…
As his Gelmain army got closer and closer to the western gates, the Gelmain troops started to feel better and better about their future. Perhaps even a few of them started to think that General Whatts had done the right thing after all…
But, with the rider having been killed during the morning by Lieutenant Black, so that the Gelmain army didn’t know about the new recruits moving from one gate to another, they had no idea…That this was going to bring them to an end…
Actually, the rider was the one that fell for the trick of the trees being chopped down and had to investigate the area. The problem was, it was dark, and he was unable to see anything. Knowing that he had a job to do, he was also told about General Whatts plans and had decided to stay until morning as a scout instead.
When the sun finally came up, to show tracks of something moving across the grass, the rider followed it and slowly started to have a sinking feeling that General Whatts may be in big trouble.
General Wilton and his division disappearing, was a big problem, and in the direction that these tracks were heading in…
The next problem was, by the time the rider was able to see what to report to General Whatts, he was then laughed at and played with…He was killed shortly after by someone that had a pot belly and a beard…
Silence was ahead of the Gelmain soldiers, perhaps if they had thought why it was silent and that none of their men were there, they may have taken more precaution…But they hadn’t.
Was it because they were nearly out of Icklish?
Was it because they thought their men were just sleeping in the nearby forest just ahead of them?
Whatever it was, they didn’t feel like they were in any kind of danger as the western gates became within a hundred metres or so…
With the sudden attack from the front, while the Gelmain soldiers were finally breathing a breath of relief, the enemy was startled, and some were not quick enough to dodge an attack. Up front there were five horses, those horses were taken down by spears, while several other spears took out at least two men, sometimes three men were stacking up onto the spear, making blood go everywhere.
And, just as the Icklish soldiers finished with their spears and moved back, the ambush recruits came from behind and Lieutenant Black was one of them!
“Get the archers!”
With the Gelmain army’s attention divided, both groups of the new recruits charged in!
From the ambush group, they aimed for the archers and tried to steal the carts, while the other group went mostly for the leaders, ganging up on them, while a few warded off the few who tried to stop them.
The General took three men to help him behead General Whatts and he put five people onto a Captain, while the Lieutenant went for the other Captain, so he happily raced himself towards the third one!
This…Was the Generals plan!
I was hiding with Neil, so I had no idea what was going on…Again.
Actually, I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to be a part of the war, only ever been in one fight, it could hardly be considered a soldier…
Should I feel bad because I would be looked at as a terrible and inexperienced soldier?
I wasn’t too sure at the moment and this subject wasn’t helping me forget what was going on not too far away, as I got side-tracked.
Having redressed my wound, I wondered if anyone else was going to get hurt like I was…Or would they lose an arm, a leg…Or…Like that man, will he be stabbed into the throat?
Deciding that I didn’t quite understand war, I also think that it was a good reason to grow stronger.
It really was a complicated issue.
Protecting one’s family…Protecting one’s country…Is it the same?
Sighing, I heard the sounds of metal hitting metal, groans and horses. I heard the horse carriages moving and maybe even the thumps of bodies hitting the ground…Or maybe I was thinking I was hearing it but not.
Closing my eyes, I didn’t know if I should feel bad that I couldn’t fight, or if I should feel good because I didn’t have too…Yet again, another conflicting thought.
Moving a tiny bit, because it still hurt if I moved too much, I found myself a little more comfortable and leaned against the tree.
Please don’t get hurt…Please don’t get hurt…
I knew I was breathing heavier then usual, I also knew that I was a little angry because I had no idea on what was going on…But please…
Don’t get hurt!
After what felt like days, the General finally came into my view and I finally felt relief flow through me. I had been so stiff and had been biting my lip that hard that it was now bleeding.
He shook his head at me and I noticed the blood on his attire.
Pointing at the blood, I hardly realised that I had spoken.
Seeing him stare at me, I heard Neil’s voice, “You spoke!”
Finally realising what happened I didn’t know what to do…
My eyes started to get watery, but I didn’t know why!
“I’m not hurt, Puppy.”
Looking back at the General, I let out a sigh in relief.
Neil came to my ear then, and said, “I’m glad your voice was gruff, but try not to speak too much in front of others just in case.”
I turned to him and nodded my head vigorously. I don’t know why, but I felt like I had deemed death upon myself!
I felt like any minute the world would fall apart!
Did I forget!?
Why? Why did I speak!?
“Rest now, Puppy. We will return back to the capital soon.”
Feeling his arm bring me into his side, I couldn’t help but feel myself relax. He was like that for me since my first nightmare…No…I think it was earlier then that…