The eve of battle; from Claws of the Earth Part I

In the dark moonless night five ships glided soundlesly up the river. Anchors were lowered carefully into the river so no splashes could be heard. Planks, covered in sheets to muffle the sounds, were put in position by the light of shuttered lanterns. When all was ready a signal was given.

The Dog ordered a group of archers to the furthest ship to provide cover fire, if necessary. Then came the first man to go ashore on the opposite bank.

The Dog wanted about two-hundred men already there before the main body would go over to cover the landing. Mintor had argued about the difficulty of doing so in the dead of night, but agreed in the end with the commander.

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Their shoes and boots covered with rags the men carfefully walked over the planks to be helped down by the sailors on each ship. Planks had been driven, two feet deep, into the hard packed earth of the steep bank where men could climb up with the help of ropes dropped by the first over.

Quickly the troops formed a protective perimeter on the height and settled in for the rest of the night.

Many soldiers were surprised to see the Dog coming over the edge as the last one.

‘Think you I’m going to mis all the fun,’ he smiled at the soldier who helped him, who smiled back.

Mintor shook his head, smiling, as he learned later that night that the Dog had sneaked over. On the other hand he was glad he had, for he feared a commander like him might be needed.

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