All I can hear is the clickity clack of the wheels along the dirt road. This never ending ride is not even halfway over. This little party next to the sea of men marching behind us just outside the borders of Greece. All I see in these men was not a group marching for their religion, I see men walking for their deaths. This is not the first war of many men marching to their death, and it won’t be the last.
I am a part of a scouting party that includes no more than five of us. There is the leader Ross (who is a bit narcissistic but good with a sword) , the family doctor, Bick (people call him Doc), the hulking brute, Mini, the weapons specialist, Anna, and myself. We were supposedly the best of the best, but I think that we were a few of the worst people that could be picked for a scouting mission. None of us were exactly good with a sword or a bow. But we were proficient enough not to die in our first battle. I could never actually hear myself think while on this dungheap of a wagon. No one is ever actually doing there job as a scout, looking out for enemies.
The only people who are educated are the doctor and myself, if you could call what I received an education. Not many people understand the idea of learning, but at least I can read and write. That could explain why they didn’t understand what a scouting party was, they aren’t smart enough to. At least we haven’t run into anyone or anything, yet.
They’re many conversations that just seem out of place conspiring on this wagon. Everyone would laugh until their cheeks hurt from smiling too hard or they just ran out of jokes. Ross would normally start it off from silence with something like, “ You know fellas… I have the most rock hard hard on in my life.” After silence for what felt like hours, something like that always made my day. Anna, the only girl, even laughed at ones like that sometimes.
Everyone busted out laughing, but Ross faces away from the slow moving, disgusting, ass to face us and continue with, “I’m not kidding you. Look at this, you can see it through my pants.” The laughing continued as Ross gained yet another self esteem boosting smile.
Halfway in between laughs that could kill a hyena, Mini tries to form his words with, “ How… exactly do you… have a hard on staring at an ass all day.”
Bick starts laughing even harder and sighs with dismay as he knows the answer to that question. He hits me on the shoulder thinking that I would understand, but as I normally do, I did not understand. After a brief silence of the group laughing and shaking their armor in response, Ross fires right back with another one, “ Hey doc, aren’t I supposed to get this checked if it’s lasted for so long?”
Bick answers with a simple, “Yes, you are.”
Then Ross, without hesitation, as if he knew what he was about to say pulls down his pants and says, “ Well doc, do I have anything wrong with me?”
Everyone looks away the second he unbuckles his pants as we knew what was coming. Anna had no idea what was about to happen, so it was safe to say that she was scarred for life. I only got a glimpse of the tiny thing, which proved that Ross was lying the entire time. But everyone turned away and had a good laugh .
After Ross pulls up his pants and returns to maintaining our course, a few moments pass in silence. For everyone knew what was to come even if we were only joking about now. Everyone has been in a real battle where the massive armies collide and death is having a hayday collecting all of the fresh souls. These battles were enough on the mind so I protrude the silence with a question, “ Doc, do you believe in what we are fighting for?”
Doc has aged quite well over the years, and if you did not know him personally, you would think him to be younger. So I mostly knew what he was going to say. “Well, I am a deeply religious man in a world where we can not safely travel to my holy land. I would arrive and be ridiculed and thrown out based only on what I believe in. So I am aiding this war so we can take back that holy land and practice my religion freely.”
Mini looks up puzzled about Bick’s answer and slowly pronounces his words so he can get his point across clearly, “ Doc, but can I not p.pr.practice my bible at home no matter what?” Mini is sitting there flipping through his bible trying to find where it specifically says about the holy lands, but he can not even read. He can only recognize the words Jesus, God and Holy Bible.
Doc took some time but he responded with, “ That is true Mini, but it is a state of principle for what I believe in. That land is sacred to me, and I don’t want any of the filthy Muslims wrecking it.”
Anna without turning around says, “ My mother is in the holy land at this moment in Jerusalem, and she is Islamic. I could care less what the war is for. I am using it to ensure my mother’s safety.”
None of us knew how to properly respond to that or how this came to be. Because we knew that Anna herself was Christian, so there must be some tension inside of her family. But on that note the conversation ended right as we were coming up upon the place we were supposed to scout in the first place: the Yatir forest.
This forest was the largest in the area, nothing even came close. This was mainly because the climate could barely even hold the amount of plants in one area, due to the lack of rain being directly next to a desert. But there was many easy places for enemies to hide in, so they send in a scouting party. We were just the people to trigger the trap as the army comes in behind us. I have seen friendly scouts behind us making sure we keep moving. I tried to tell the others, but none of them thought they were following, they thought we were too far ahead of the army. But sometimes, at night, I can hear the rumbling mass of men marching forward.
“The sun is going down. It will be night soon,” Ross said. “We should find somewhere to set up camp.”
He was right. It was probably around an hour before sunset. But this was a bad time to set up camp we were in the middle of a dry grassland that seemed to never end. There was no place that seemed ideal, so Ross went to the highest hill in the area. We setup our camp there and pulling out the small portions of food we had started to cook them over a fire. I looked out into the distance and saw our destination: the Yatir forest. It was hard to believe that anyone could be waiting in the dark to attack. The forest seemed to be so, sacred. I turned to look back from the way we came and I once again saw a man running over the horizon, most likely back to the main army.
“BWUACK!” went our carrier hawk in hope to gain some of our food.
“Here you go, birdy,” Mini said as he handed the hawk part of his pork.
Stomps shook the wagon as Ross rampaged over and took the hawk away from Mini, “Stop feeding the damn bird. He needs to send a message. Doc, write the general we are about to enter the forest.”
Doc took out his quill and pen to write the note. After he was finished he tied the note to the hawk’s foot, and sent it on it’s way. This land was already hot, starting a fire did not help the problem. The water I drank was already close to a boil. The small portions of meat and bread was not enough, but they need only to last another day. One more smoldering hot hell of a day.
After the food was finished cooking, Ross put it out as fast as it had started. But we all were sweating as if we just ran a marathon. The meat was a bit charred and somehow chewy, and not at all tasty. Oh what I would give to be sitting back home with a perfectly cooked lamb in a bearable temperature. I hand over what is left of my charred meat to Mini who is always happy for an extra ration, found the softest patch of dirt left and slept in preparation for the new day.
I awoke with the sunrise, as I normally did. I looked over the west to see the sunrise once again. The colors were always beautiful, the mixture of orange, yellow, and, red always gave me a fresh start. But there was something protruding his beautiful scene. Another scout was looking directly at me while hiding behind a brush, as if somehow he knew that I had spotted him days ago. He did not run away like last time, for I started walking down the hill towards him. The brush was barely big enough to have him hide behind it and it was in an open space this left him with nowhere to go.
Before I got there he hid behind the brush once more and did not come out. I unsheathed my sword for I was nearing the hiding spot. I thrusted the sword through the brush at where the enemy would be. The sword went clean through the brush with ease, having no remorse. I drew the sword from the brush and went around it to see my pursuer to find that no one was there in the first place.
I looked around in panic wondering where the scout could have gone. But there was no other place for him to go for at least a few hundred yards. After a few moments more of looking around for the disappearing man, I sheathed my sword and turned back towards camp.
As I was returning back to camp Ross was waking up and stretching out a yawn, “Out for a morning stroll eh.”
I looked into the distance to see our destination and said, “Just clearing my head before we go into the forest. You never know what could happen.”
“Ah stop brooding and wake up the others.”
I walked over and shook Doc, Mini, and Anna. No one wanted to get up. It was going to be a long day. After getting everything around, we gathered into the wagon and started our way into the forest.
The trees were taller than I have ever seen, at least 60 feet tall. The forest spread for miles, to get through the forest would take almost a week's journey. The forest was also very calming, only a few birds chirping here and there. But the forest seemed to be eerily calm, like everything that made noise was no longer in the forest.
We all seemed to be extremely tense. This was probably the most stressful moment of everyone’s life. We were all the most vigilant any of us have ever been, all of us looking for any signs of enemies. As we moved slowly ahead, everything started to look the same. All the trees blended into the exact same tree. Every bush molded into the same one. The world started to spin, nothing seemed to be in the same place.
I tried to make sense of what was happening, nothing was in order. I could not hear a thing. All I saw was a mixture of colors around me they were mostly containing of greens and browns. This amount of spinning would normally have someone pass out, but I fought it. Another color had joined the swirl. The color was red. The color had engulfed most of my vision. But with the introduction of color the swirling had begun to slow.
The swirling kept on slowing until an image began to form. I saw a man kneeling down with a sword on his neck. The man looked up. I could not believe my eyes. It was Doc. He looked up at me and over to the bird. I knew what he wanted me to do. I saw a partially written note next to the cage. I looked back at Doc, but now he was laying on the ground surrounded by his own blood.
I saw Ross sword fighting with two people dressed in scouting gear at the same time, “I need some help over here!” The clang of the swords rang hard in my ears, nothing had left such an irritating feeling like this before. “ Get over here god dammit and help me over here!”
I shook off the feeling, drew my sword and charged in to help Ross. Joining the battle was very difficult due to their type of swords. The curved blade of the khopesh can easily disarm me. Between the ongoing sword fight, I found an opening and jumped into battle.
“About time you woke up! We are dieing out here, especially since Anna up and ran and Mini went down at the start of this.”
Balancing my breaths I tried to form a question, “Which direction, did she go?”
“How the hell should I know. We all knew she was a Muslim. what else do you think she was going to do?”
“I need to get back to the carrier hawk and finish the message. Warn the army what is waiting for them.”
“ Who cares about warning them. Let’s get out of here.”
“ We are obviously surrounded. We will die anyway. I am going to warn the army.”
After taking care of the few we were fighting, I took off back to the wagon. Arrows were flying just past me. If the wind was a bit different, I might have been killed. Then three men jumped in my way spears at the ready. There was no way that I could get through all three of them. But I could not think this way. With my sword at the ready, I planted my feet and got into position.
They began to charge. I could now feel my sweat rolling down the side of my cheek onto my lips. I let out a scream of valiance to help exert all of my power. But it was not needed for Anna was falling from atop a tree right onto two of the oncoming spearman. With knives drawn and as silent as the night, she came down on top of them while she whispered, “Allah Akhbar.”
“Thank You,” I said as she got up and joined the fight that we were inevitably going to lose.
I doubt that she had heard me but I had my own problems. I side stepped the spearman’s lunge and cut the the spear in half, leaving it in splinters. The spearman threw down the splintered spear and drew a small dagger. I lunged forward trying to strike directly at his chest. He was too fast. The man sidestepped the sword and plunged the dagger into my left arm. The man was stunned to have landed a blow, as if he never had before. I pulled the sword back and hit him in the head with the hilt of my sword.
I held my arm and stumbled into the wagon. But I heard the combining cries of my friends as they both fell. I scrammed to find the ink and quill. Luckily the bird had not been killed yet. I sat down and finished the warning letter to the army. I started tieing the note to the hawks legs and was about to release it as I felt a cold but sharp edge creeping on the small of my neck.
The voice was very raspy but intelligent, like he knew that he has won, “ Put the bird back in the cage, little man. Or you will end up like your friends over there.”
I turned my head just a bit to see my friends. They were all being scavenged for supplies, like a fresh trophy. The man cut my cheek with a simple flick of the wrist.
“ Tisk, tisk, tisk. One should listen when one is in this type of situation.”
There were at least two dozen men now surrounding where I stood. I had to warn the army about at least this little ambush.
“I am an honorable man, and I will honor my word. Put down the bird and you will not end up like your companions.”
Without turning around this time I answered with, “I am also an honorable man. That is why I do my duty as a scout and warn others about this little site.” I then let go of the bird and watched it fly away to warn the army.
“ You should have listened,” the man said as he plunged the blade slowly through the back of my neck.
I had done my duty.