Joshua's Victory (Part 1 and 2)
I've redone a bit of Part 1 and added Part 2. Please give me any criticism or suggestions you may have. It's the only way I'll get better. Thank you so much for reading!
In the center of all the tents stood one that was square, and much larger than the rest. A blue pennant was tied to each of the four corner posts. This was where General Joshua’s four commanders were awaiting their orders. Commander Kern stood leaning against one of the tent posts, with his bulging arms crossed and a battle-axe leaning against his side. He commanded some of the toughest warriors in the army, and preferred brute force over strategy. Commander Nigel, who oversaw the cavalry, stood at the table in the center of the tent studying some maps. Commander Striker sat on a wooden chair testing the string of his bow. His archers were some of the finest Joshua had ever seen. Then there was Commander Kyfe, leader of the foot soldiers, sharpening his sword while whistling a tune. All promptly stood to attention as Joshua entered.
“Greetings, commanders. We all know what’s ahead. Margus is a traitor and must be dealt with! I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake here if we fail. So, let’s get right to it.”
Joshua walked to the table and spread open a large map of their kingdom and the surrounding areas. He pointed to a spot while the others gathered around.
“This is where we are, in the plains.” He moved his hand to another spot. “The Great Canyons lie here, a three-day journey away. That is where Margus has been hiding for the last month, gathering support from the brigands and mercenaries who make that forsaken place their home. But our spies have reported that he has organized his army and is planning to march against our kingdom within the next few days.”
“Just let him try, we’ll be ready and waiting!” growled Kern.
“Don’t underestimate Margus. His army may be smaller, but he has the brains to win this war. Which is why we must be prepared. We can’t let Margus choose the battleground; so we have to move fast. I sent Striker and some of his best men scout out the area a few days ago to find a suitable position to repel the enemy and keep them from entering the kingdom. Striker, what did you find?”
Striker cleared his throat. “As you know, we are currently stationed on a plateau. The land is flat and open here; there is no good place to fortify ourselves in. We cannot move further back without risking some of the outer towns and cities, so we must move towards Margus.”
He grabbed a pencil and drew a circle on the map. “Here, this is the best place. We can get to it in one day, giving us another full day to prepare before the enemy arrives.”
Nigel squinted at the spot where Striker circled. “So why did you decide this place? Doesn’t look very good ground for cavalry.”
“No, it isn’t, which is a positive for us. Margus’ main strength is his cavalry. This is where the plateau ends and slopes steeply down to the lower lands before reaching the canyons. We’ll be at the top, and Margus will have to march his army up. The incline is steep and full of large boulders and rocks, perfect cover for our troops. His cavalry won’t be able to make it up easily, making them almost useless for him. We can rain projectiles down upon them while they will have a hard time doing the same to us.”
Joshua nodded his approval. “I like it. What about this river that goes down the slope? That could work as an added barrier.”
Striker shook his head. “It’s been too dry lately; there is barely any water. Neither army would have a problem crossing that.”
The next few hours were spent discussing and sometimes arguing over what would be the best course of action. Kern wanted to use their higher advantage of a larger army to merely overwhelm the enemy, but Joshua knew that wouldn’t work against the tactics of Margus. Kyfe suggested loosening some of the larger rocks on the slope, so they could send them rolling down the hill when the enemy began their ascent. Nigel for the most part quietly studied the map, looking for anything they might have missed.
When all was decided, Joshua rolled up the map. “Striker, I want you to take some of your men on the fastest horses and ride out immediately. Scout the area again, and find the best defensive positions. The rest of you, get some rest, we march at dawn!”
Joshua shook the hands of all his generals, looking them into the eyes as he did. Each one was ready, determined to give his life to protect their kingdom. Striker grabbed his weapons and began to head out.
“Wait,” Joshua said. “One more thing before we dismiss. I’m not sure what you all believe, but a young soldier gave me some great wisdom earlier tonight. He said that God is ultimately in control. And he is right. We can do all the planning and strategizing we want, but in the end, the victory will come from God. Margus is a tough opponent. He will not be beaten easily. But as I prayed earlier tonight, God gave me confidence and peace that we would win this war. If any of you have doubts, I suggest praying tonight before you get your rest. In fact, pray regardless of any doubts. The battle will be over in a few days. No matter the outcome, many will not be alive to see it; maybe even some of us here. I saw in your faces as I shook your hands that you are ready to die if need be. But are you ready for eternity if that death comes?”
With that, Joshua left the tent to let his generals think on his words.
The sun was just peaking over the horizon when Joshua began to lead his army across the plateau. For over a day they marched, with very little rest. At first the march was easy, as the land was flat. But there were no trees to shelter from the sun, only a sea of tall grass. By the time they reached the edge of the plateau, the soldiers were glad to get a rest, even if it was only for a little while.
Joshua sat upon his brown steed, Conquest, as he surveyed the land ahead. As Striker had said, the ground sloped downwards steeply for a few hundred feet. On that slope lay many boulders of all shapes and sizes. A river which was now no more than a trickle meandered around the large rocks and down the slope. The land below was also flat, with groves of trees situated in different areas. Joshua turned as Strider rode up and saluted.
“Greetings, General Joshua. I see you managed to get the army here in good time.”
“Yes, I had to push them hard, but we made it. What do you have to report?”
“Right up here at the edge of the slope is the best defensive position that I can see. This is the steepest area and will be the hardest for the enemy to march up. We will have to be careful on our left side. The slope is a lot less steep a few miles down and Margus could get his cavalry up there. Unfortunately, Kyfe’s idea of rolling the boulders downhill is not going to work too well. We found a few that we could probably shift, but most are too set into the ground to budge.”
“That was what I was afraid of. For those boulders to stay on this steep incline, they must be settled in pretty good. But good work, Striker. You and your men should get some rest.”
“Yes, sir. But first, I want to show you some areas I found that might be good for archers or quick ambushes.”
For the next few hours, Striker showed Joshua was he had scouted, pointing out the better defensible positions and also the more vulnerable areas where Margus might try an attack. The entire time, Joshua’s mind raced, planning ahead and trying to account for everything Margus might try. That evening, Joshua stood with his generals watching the sun set.
“We have one more day to prepare. After that, war will be upon us. Let us prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually. The fate of our kingdom rests in the outcome tomorrow.”
As the generals walked to their tents to get a little sleep before the morning, their minds thought about the following day. All were determined to do their best.