On the day of the Invasion the soldiers of the tribes of Genticus and the Nomad’s army gathered in the deserted city village of the Ninth. The women and children had been steadily evacuating the area in the days preceding, the last of them leaving for their temporary home at the Nomad’s camp the day before the attack was due to begin.
Navihm was waiting with the Ianterran guards he’d been travelling with and a small contingent of soldiers from the Fifth and Seventh. The uniforms trimmed in green and black blending in with the small grove of trees they were standing in.
The scout boats they’d sent out in the days leading up to the invasion reported that the Somali ships would arrive just before midday. Their army had been forming up and making last minute preparations for battle since the early hours of the morning.
Navihm’s small group of warriors were camped out in the small groves of trees just west of the village. Most of the homes and buildings were built around the docks on the east side of the Mare Aspera bay, where the coastline was much more forgiving.
“Enfeitar?” said Malachi to Navihm.
“Yes?” Malachi was the commander of the guards of the Fifth. During this battle, Malachi would act as Navihm’s second in command for the small group of two Unum stationed in the grove.
“We have a visitor.” He gestured behind him. Enfeitar Naeva stood there, dressed for battle.
“I have come to help,” she said. “I wanted to fight with my tribesmen, with your permission, that is.” Navihm eyed the twin swords she had strapped to her back with their wicked hooked ends and moon shaped guards over where her fingers would sit. He knew that such weapons would require a great amount of skill to use effectively.
“You are very welcome to fight with us.” Navihm was confident that she would be a very capable warrior.
“It looks like this fight will be happening sooner than expected. Here they come.” Malachi pointed to the horizon where six ships were just visible. The rest of the troops immediately hunkered down and ducked behind trees and bushes. They were to be mounting a surprise attack partway into the battle and no one wanted to give away their position prematurely. There wasn't much chance of them being spotted with the enemy this far away but Navihm wasn't taking any chances. He took position behind a bush where he still had a good line of site to the beach.
The invasion would start within the hour.
While they waited, Navihm explained the details of the plan to Naeva.
The town of the Ninth was eerily quiet as the boats approached. Navihm could see the reds and blues of the Eighth and Third troops where they stood in wait at the docks.
The invaders will attack the east side, at the docks. The Sachem had said in that final meeting. It is the easiest way to get their soldiers from the boats to the land.
Navihm watched as all six boats, bearing about a hundred men each, veered towards where the docks jutted out into the bay. The docks were built for scores of fishing boats to harbour and were plenty big enough for two of the Somali ships to moor. Even from the trees, they could hear the jeering and war cries of the invaders as three of their ships pulled in next to the jetties.
Let as many men as possible debark from the ship before you strike. The Sachem had told the leaders of the Third and Eighth.
Three hundred men descended on the town, pouring over their ship’s bulwark and charging towards the men standing amongst the buildings. The Somal troops outnumbered the pitifully small group of Genti defenders three to one, with just three of their ships.
Before the invaders could reach the end of the jetty, the trumpet of a horn echoed through the streets. At that signal, the soldiers of the Third and the Eighth suddenly reared back, hauling on thick ropes attached to the poles anchoring the jetty to the sea floor. They’d spent days weakening the structures and rigging them to collapse.
Once they are in the water, they will be easy pickings. Don't bother getting close, kill as many as you can before they get to shore. Every body floating in the water is an encumbrance to his comrades behind him.
The piers crumbled with sharp sounds of wood and bone snapping. They gave way under the weight of hundreds of men and the result was devastating. Those who were not trampled, drowned or pierced by the broken jetties were left floating, clutching bits of wood to stay afloat. The Genti soldiers stood on the bricked and reinforced shoreline and threw rocks and spears at the vulnerable invaders, reducing their numbers by calamitous amounts.
A few did make it to the shore, climbing up the stone walls that separated land and sea and facing the Genti force that greeted them. Their fight was short and savage. Almost twenty defenders were killed before they managed to push back the first attack.
By Navihm’s count, almost two hundred Somali men were lost in that first bloody battle. Most of those who survived were on the last ship to dock, not everyone had been unloaded when the jetties were demolished.
When their first attack fails they will head for the beach.
This ship, with it’s remaining crew, turned back to join the other ships. For a minute, the enemy just milled around, as if stunned by what had just occurred. Then they pointed their ships towards the beach.
They will be forced to enter one at a time because of the narrow entrance. We will use this to our advantage.
The enclosed beach separated the man made docks and the rocky cliff areas of the bay. To access the beach, the ships had to pass through a twenty metre wide section of water with rocks on one side and an army of Genti soldiers on the other.It then opened up into a basin-like beach.
Rose, Professor Ward, it will be your job to make that landing as difficult as possible for them.
The water was already treacherous on the west side of the bay. Rose and the Professor had done their best the day before to make the mouth of the beach equally perilous. They’d risen rocks from the sea floor until they jutted up just below the surface. They’d also grown a reef specifically to wreak havoc on the underside of the enemy ships.
The first ship had gained momentum, speeding towards the beach over calm waters. When it reached the narrowest point, there was a groaning shriek of wood as the hull of the ship scraped against the new reef. The ship was immediately crippled. It crabbed sideways, the stern swinging around with it’s own momentum, turning the ship almost completely aboutface. The spinning and listing was brought to a halt when the ship slammed into a rock and stuck. The crew was thrown off their feet and the ship was pinned there, water gushing through the brand new hole in the hull.
It won't injure or kill many Somalis, but it will slow them down. We want to avoid facing their whole army at once. If we can tie up some of their troops in a stranded ship or two and prevent their whole fleet from descending on us at once with an easy landing on the beach, we will be at an advantage.
The ship directly behind it’s stranded comrades managed to avoid the same fate by veering off course and almost beaching itself on the rocky ledge that made up the west side of the bay. The three remaining ships, one with almost a third of it’s crew floating dead in the water, headed towards their only avenue of advance. The west.
We want them to breach our shores over the rock pools. They will be forced to pick their way over to solid ground through the rocks, rather than descend on us en masse from their ships. They will be slow and clumped together. That is when the archers strike.
Every soldier from the Tribes and the Nomads proficient in the use of a bow and arrow was situated on the rocky outcrops above the bay. Almost one hundred men, untouchable by the enemy rained devastation amongst the ranks of invading Somali troops making their way to the shore.
Navihm’s group waited in the trees watching the invaders advance on their position. The grove where they waited was the nearest point of cover from the arrows. The enemy would come right to them.
Wait until the very last moment to strike, Navihm. You want to wait until a good number of Somalis are in the trees before you give your position away.
Navihm lay in wait, his two unum of men frozen in anticipation. He held up one hand in preparation for signalling for his troops to attack. The Sachem was worried that if they attacked too soon, the element of surprise would not be used to their full advantage. Navihm was concerned that if he waited too long, his troops would be faced with too many Somali soldiers and would be overwhelmed. It was a fine balance.
Navihm waited. The enemy was arriving at the grove, perhaps thirty of them had taken shelter. Still, he waited. Twenty more arrived, some nursing arrow wounds and twisted ankles from the treacherous climb over the rocks. Navihm clenched his hand into a fist. His troops immediately surged forwards, taking out their closest enemies. There was no shouts or jeering, they stormed the trees silently, slaughtering over half the invaders before their comrades knew they were there.
Navihm used his daggers to slice at leg tendons and throats. Naeva followed close behind him, holding one sword in a reverse grip and using the short blade mounted on the end of the hilt to stab and slash. The invading Somalis began to notice the Genti assassins amongst their ranks and started fighting back. When the fighting became fiercer, Naeva unsheathed her other sword and used the crescent shaped guard, mounted parallel to the blade to parry sword strikes and thrust forward at unprotected necks. Malachi let out a war cry and their small group broke out of the protection of the trees.
More and more Somalis were arriving at the grove of trees, but Navihm’s small group was able to push them back out into the open, in the line of fire of the archers still mounted on the cliffs. Navihm drew his sword and was now fighting with it in one hand and a dagger in the other.
He could hear shouting and sounds of fighting from the beach. The Somali soldiers from the stranded ship had abandoned the vessel, wading through the water and making their way up the beach. The Gentis that had defended the docks were now defending the beach, reinforced by guards from the Second and First.
Hart, mount up your Sworn Guard. You will be a mobile force. It is your responsibility to note any weak spots in our defense and shore them up.
The drumming of horse hooves could be heard over the sounds of battle. Hart was leading his Sworn Guard in a sweeping charge at the south end of the bay, stopping any Somalis from breaking through the line of defenders and making their way deeper into Genti territory.
The final group of tribesmen, made up of guards from the rest of the tribes swept in from the east, forcing the invaders away from their ships.
We will force them towards the centre of the bay. Trap them between the soldiers moving in from the east and those from the west that will be converging on anyone who made it to the beach. Navihm, keep those invaders away from the safety of the trees.
Navihm’s small group was fighting gallantly, now out in the open. They’d forced the invaders out of the trees and back into open land. Naeva was using her swords with devastating effect now she was out of the confines of the trees. She didn't even need to get close to an enemy, instead, linking her swords together by their hooked ends and swinging them in bewildering circles, the blades on the hilts slicing and cutting. This style of fighting suited a woman as she didn't need to tire herself out by pitting her brawn against the brute strength of the men she faced. Navihm could still hear Malachi’s war cry.
The strength of Navihm’s troops was failing. The Genti’s were faced with a seemingly unending amount of enemies, all trying to make it to the safety of the trees. The archers could only safely aim for the ranks of soldiers at the back of the group of advancing Somalis so the Genti soldiers in the trees bour the brunt of the fighting once their enemies closed in on them.
Navihm watched as Malachi was cut down. More and more of his soldiers fell and they were forced to give ground, retreating to the trees. Navihm was about to call a retreat when the thundering of hooves and whooping war cries signaled the approach of Hart’s Sworn Guard. The mounted troops drove a wedge in the advancing enemy lines, breaking their formation and driving them away from the trees.
The respite was a brief one, the last of the Somali invaders had made their way to the shore and the fresh troops were now fighting the exhausted Genti soldiers. Just as the tide of battle began to turn against the Gentis, three short trumpet blasts echoed over the bay. Immediately, ranks of Nomad soldiers marched over the ridge rimming the bay.
The Somali don’t know about our alliance, we can use this to our advantage. They will throw everything they have at defeating the Genti army, thinking that is all they will face, then my army will step in and finish them.
Bohan was amongst the ranks of Nomads. He lead the Sachem’s Veiled Guards right into the heart of the invader’s forces.
The Nomads devastated what was left of the ranks of Somali. Though their enemies still outnumbered them, they were spread out and exhausted. Navihm retreated back into the trees and began tending to the wounded in the two Unum he commanded.
Navihm was tending to a slash on Naeva’s arm when he saw Hart approach on his grey mount. The battle still raged around them and Hart looked pale and a little sick. Navihm was immediately worried.
“What happened?” Navihm asked. He scanned Hart’s aura quickly; he wasn't hurt, he was distressed.
“I’m so sorry, I-” Navihm didn't wait for him to finish, taking off in the direction Hart had come from.
He found Bohan laying still on the ground with a arrow through his chest. Navihm fell to his knees next to Bohan’s prone body, heedless of the blood and gore. Navihm pressed his palms against his friend’s chest. He pumped healing magic through his heart, tearing it recklessly directly from the reservoir pooling in his mind.
Bohan’s wounds shuddered and began to reluctantly knit together.
“Hart!” Navihm implored. He hadn't consciously realised that his cousin was standing by his shoulder, he’d just known he’d be there, like he always was. Navihm didn't need to say anything more than that, Hart was already throwing himself down into the muck, right beside Navihm.
Hart grasped the arrow, removing it gently but firmly. Gore gushed from the wound but Navihm magic was already there; stemming the flow and weaving the soft flesh back together. Hart added his hands to Navihm’s glowing ones. He didn't have Navihm’s skill for healing, but he did have energy. Hart tapped into the flood of magic Navihm was pouring into Bohan and added his strength, allowing Navihm to guide his magic.
It was incredibly difficult, something Hart had only heard about and never attempted before. He didn't think about that. Grief was radiating off Navihm visibly, threading his aura with inky blackness.
Failure was an option Hart didn't even stop to consider.
When the healing was complete, the boys sat back, searching for any sign of life. They found none. Bohan’s body was perfect, but devoid of life. A completely whole but empty husk.
Navihm’s heart thudded painfully. He was too late. He felt Hart’s hand on his shoulder but he refused to be comforted.
This is my fault, Navihm thought. Navihm’s eyes burned, but no tears fell. He choked on the cold lump of certainty that this was his fault. He was the one that convinced the Nomads to join their cause. His death was on Navihm’s conscious. Ira had lost her husband. A child would grow up without a father, just like Navihm had.
This is one of the longest chapters in the entire book but I decided to upload it as one part because I didn't want to break the flow.
Let me know what you think of the chapter.