This could be risky. Sultan Razuli was not a man accustomed to receiving bad news, but bad news was what the messenger was bringing.
The Ralulee army had had a number of initial victories in the Disputed Lands, but that was before the latest engagement at High Dunes. The Easifa Corps, the most elite cavalry unit in the entire sultanate had been drawn away to the east by a feint by the kingdom’s men. The left of King Hector’s lines seemed similarly weakened by the eastward withdrawal of part of his force. General Abu Biad therefore gave little thought to sounding the advance.
At the centre of his onslaught was a unit of six war elephants. They smashed through the front lines of the kingdom’s First Division, its spear-men seemingly unable to repel the attack. Hector ordered the King’s Light Infantry to run and fill the gap and to meet the oncoming wave of elephants and the following infantry.
Sergeant Seymour de Klod led his squad of twelve axe-men to the breech. The war elephants were making light work of the Farmington lads of the “Old First” and he could not stand to see his comrades massacred. Without waiting for reinforcements, he cast off his shield and grabbed a second war-axe from a fallen warrior. With an axe in either hand he rushed towards the first elephant. Just as it began to sweep its armoured trunk towards him he slid between its legs and used one of his blades to cut the leather straps securing the “basket castle” to the beast’s back. He then rolled from under the animal, and laid an axe into the its rear leg. The animal shifted away from the pain, and as it did the entire basket and its compliment of soldiers toppled.
De Klod then hit the animal with the other axe causing it to turn to strike him. He had timed the blow perfectly and as the beast spun it laid its metal trimmed tusks into the side of the next elephant. It fell sideways dumping its soldiers sprawling in the dust.
In the confusion, the tender of a third elephant halted his armoured beast, and Seymour used the pause to jump up and pull the man down. One of the archers in the basket let loose an arrow which struck de Klod in the shoulder, but he nevertheless pulled the elephant’s guide tether and made it rear. This again caused the men mounted on its back to tumble.
By now de Klod’s squad had begun to fall upon the stricken elephants and their soldiers. The crews of two elephants turned their beast and began to escape in such a panic that they crashed into their own supporting infantry. This cause a general flight of the entire advancing Ralulee line.
Not satisfied with his accomplishments, de Klod rushed the remaining elephant whose tender had halted in an attempt to decide which direct to go in. In an amazing display for a man his size, de Klod jumped upon one of the animal’s tusks, then bounded into the center of the “castle” laying his axe into two of its soldiers. The other three dropped their weapons and cried out “No fight, no fight!” in the common tongue.
High Dunes was definitively a kingdom victory, and now the messenger had to report it to the Great Razuli. How could he tell his sovereign that his army had been defeated essentially by one man; a man that now the sultan’s entire army called Il Washa, “The Beast?”
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