Desert fumed with heat, clouding our vision, breaking sweat and driving us mad. All soldiers were cooking inside of their heavy breastplates and just at the open spots, their skin was properly red, burnt and bursted. Chainmail was soaking wet with sweat, however we poured fresh water on it, to keep the temperature at bay. Commander rested in shade, while his entourage ate roasted chickens and drank wine like newly masters of Zaria, but the city was yet to be conquered. High walls of sand kept us away from the beautiful palaces, white and cold villas, paved streets with night torches that dispersed shadows and a fortress, stacked with various treasure and harem. “Why fighting for a handful of grain and a sip of wine, when we could raid a city prepared?” – was our motto, so the King patiently waited Zaria to mass the resources, and when they were ready, we came.
Yesterday, our King died in a desperate attempt of running down the walls. A rain of arrows pierced his old body, gouged his eyes and took away over a thousand battle man that followed him. This morning, more than a few dozen man died from a sun stroke, and twelve from the hunger. Those who buried them, will probably die tomorrow, and so the circle of death rolled over us.
– Watchout Sir. Here comes the Prince. – my apprentice spoke, wiping sweat and fetching me a belly of water.
The tall, skinny and pale was our Prince. His skin wasn’t affected with the heat like ours, so he got the highest respect from us, as he was a royalty and immune to the petty tortures of many. Cape on him appeared heavy for a normal person, but he carried it like a feather. For some reason he rejected to wear crown or symbols of his nobility, perhaps to show us he is one with the people, and that actually worked in the ranks of professional skirmishers. He stood high above me, looked at my scheme for the attack, signed and gazed at the wall.
– What are your orders, Siege Master? – he spoke absent, thinking about the next attack.
– My King. The War Master have given me command to prepare the battlements for the second attack. Siege towers are ready. We built in the inner shields to protect us from the wildfire and hasty ballitas, Sir. Men are tired, so we agreed to use the rested one and Konians. – I said with my head lowered as I felt shame and grief for the past King.
– No. Bring in the catapults. We will bombard the city.
– But Sir… Forgive me, my Master for speaking out of line, but the bombardment have brought us no luck in making the wall crumble. Many have died trying to bring them close enough for the effective fire.
– We will use a lighter projectiles. Have no worry old man, for you spoke your mind, and that is one clever mind. It served my father well. I wish not to separate myself from it. – he said with a smile and grazed my weak shoulder, then he took few steps back, looked at the tent with commanders feasting, kicked the dirt and came back to me, – Tell the Grave Master to leave the dead to rot upon the sand. – he spoke to his guard and the man went running, – We fought for hundred days, and made no progress in invasion. We must break the city before we break our forces.
– You would want to throw the dead over the wall? – my eyes lit in horror, as that thing was demanding broad preparations and constant medical care, – Our men will grow sick of illness that bares no cure known to us. It took my boy and wife last year. I fairly mourned them, Sir. This is not something your father would do. This sort of attack demands bigger force, welcoming weather and more posts around the city. We can not perform up to the task. The siege might prolong for many years. The last time we did such a thing, we occupied the desert for twelve years. – my beard shook, while flashes of numerous horrors went before my eyes.
– Yes, it did. Doing this, Zarians will assume we have another twelve years to wait until the whole city is plagued. At the first day, they will kill all of their dogs and beasts, so they will not fear of them attacking, when they taste a Ildocian blood… Which means, their cavalry will be down and the infantry will be slow and with no aid. Plague will also decimate their ranks, as the death is not interested in someones years. I would not worry about fair weather, as Zarian needs rain, and we cut their river. – he said and went on his way, leaving me to think about his word.
We did as he said, even with a War Masters protest. Fool even tried to assassinate our Prince, but he saw it coming and decapitate him and his entourage. Our late King’s body was the one that led the charge with thousand more that followed him in a glorious battle. They brought bloody crown before the Zarian Sultan, showed him what doom awaits him beyond the cold walls of his castle.
Catapults rained our dead over the walls for a month, when Zaria rose their white flags on the highest dome. He was the first one to take Zaria in hundred days off war, and triple our suplies, because Zarians haven’t had time to spend them in long days they feared coming. When we got back home, Ildocian whores were surprised to have us so quickly.