First encounter with the Philistine army
|The village burned around them as the Philistines gorged themselves on food they had stolen from these people. Some of them were too busy with the women to eat. Discipline had broken down and there were no sentries. Everyone was too busy looting and reveling. Besides, these Israelites were weak. They had nothing to fear. Or so they thought.
On a hill on the east side of the town, Shan turned his grizzled head and motioned for Nad to come to the edge of the hill with him. They looked down at the scene silently for a while, then Nad hissed "What are we waiting for? Let's get down there and wipe them out. It's just a raiding party."
Shan was silent for so long that Nad became restless, then Shan spoke.
"Get your men and go to the north side of the town. Quietly. I will send some of my men to lead you. They know the area. When you see me stand on the crest of this hill, begin to fire, not a moment before. Understand?"
Nad nodded and then moved off to gather his men. Shan watched for a moment longer then slid down the rise to consult with Ahazi and Joshua.
When he reached the pair, he noticed that Joshua seemed nervous. Shan glanced at Ahazi and then spoke.
"I went ahead and sent Nad around to the north with his missile troops. I figured Joshua and the spearmen would go to the south to cut off retreat, and we would attack down this hill with our swords. Since the village is in a valley between hills to the north, east, and west, with the only approach to the south along a narrow trail, I figured the spearmen would be the best to cut them off. What say you?"
Ahazi nodded his assent. "Sounds like a good plan. Let's butcher these dogs."
A Philistine soldier staggered up from his turn with the woman and turned towards the scrub brush on the edge of the village to relieve himself. He laughed to himself at how the woman had fought them at first, but then had been beaten into silence and compliance. He had never been with a woman before and he rather enjoyed it.
As he neared the bushes he saw someone standing on top of the hill to his right. He thought that that was pretty foolish. What if he fell? Stupid. He opened his breeches and began to urinate, relief coursing through him. Then he heard a whizzing sound like someone blowing air through their teeth. He looked over his shoulder and saw several soldiers stagger and fall.
"Drunks," he muttered. He closed his breeches and turned to walk back to camp. Maybe he'd take another woman. He took a couple of steps and then something struck him in the side, hard. He stumbled, then reached to where the impact had been. His hand touched something hard protruding from him. He tried to pull it out, but then the pain hit. He screamed and fell to his knees, and his hand touched face. It was sticky and hot. He looked at it dumbly then turned towards the sound of feet running. The last thing he saw was a sword coming towards his face, the face of the man holding the sword twisted in anger.
Nad released his bow string and watched as the arrow struck down yet another Philistine. His troops were picking apart the enemy. He watched as a slinger twirled his weapon, watching, then the sling was released and the bullet sped to smash in the face of a swordsman. These slingers could split hairs at two hundred paces, and it showed. The enemy had no chance. They were caught off guard, half of them with their breeches literally down around their ankles. Dead men walking.
"Let none escape," cried Ahazi. "Kill them all. No mercy."
And with that he barreled over the lip of the hill and down towards the enemy. There was a man on his knees at the bottom of the hill and Ahazi slashed down with his blade, severing the man's head from his nose up. The body stayed upright for a brief moment, then collapsed bonelessly to the ground. Now his men were passing him, storming into the village, carrying their blades to the enemy. Ahazi followed them in.
Shan watched from the crest of the hill as the Philistines were overwhelmed. Most of his troops had circled around behind Joshua's men and were waiting for further orders. It shouldn't be long now. Then he saw a group of the enemy break through and pelt down the path towards Joshua's men. These enemy troops were maintaining good order, and all still had their armor and weapons. There were probably forty of them.
As Shan watched, the enemies stopped. They must have seen the waiting spearmen. One stepped out and turned to face them. He gestured towards the hill where Shan was and began to lead the group that way. Shan whistled and his men trotted through Joshua's ranks and towards the enemy. Once clear of the spears, they made a wide loop to get between the enemy and their captain. Joshua's spearmen began to close on the enemy as well.
Seeing this, the enemy broke into a run at the scouts. The scouts dug their heels into their donkeys and the animals lept towards the Philistines. The men on their backs braced their spears under their arms, or raised their swords in anticipation as they closed on the enemy. Most of the Philistines crouched down to make smaller targets, but this strategy did not spare them. The scouts swept over them, swords slashed down, spears jabbed, then the riders were past and most of the enemy was down. A few donkeys kicked and screamed in the dust, but most were unharmed. The spearmen moved in to finish off the rest.
Suddenly, one of the Philistines sprang up and ran up the hill towards Shan. Before Shan could react the man had pulled out a dagger and threw it. The knife spun once and then slammed into his belly. Unthinking, he jerked the knife out and heard the gush of blood hit the ground. Vaguely he saw the Philistine pinned to the ground by a spear before darkness claimed him.
Nad moved down the hill with his men, arrow notched. The fighting in the village was petering out. It was now just a matter of finding where the enemy had hidden and killing them. His men moved into the outskirts of the village, stepping around or over bodies. Nad unnotched the arrow and stuck it back in his quiver. Then he heard a groan and looked down. He saw a Philistine with an arrow protruding from his groin numbly trying to pull it out. Inspiration struck him and he crossed to the man and knelt beside him.
Nad spoke to the man in elementary Philistine, a language he had picked up over years of dealing with these people. "Where is your army?"
The man looked up, only then realizing an enemy was close. His eyes widened as Nad reached down and grabbed the arrow, taking a firm grip. With a grim smile, Nad wiggled the arrow slightly. The man gasped and then squealed. Nad stopped then asked him again, "Where is your army?"
The man babbled that they were half a day's ride away, but headed this way. This group was a raiding party sent to scout ahead and collect supplies for the army. They were expected back at camp by mid day tomorrow. If they did not show, the prisoner said, the whole army would descend on this place.
Nad listened intently. He believed the man was telling him the truth. Nad smiled then and thanked the man. Then he grabbed the arrow and ripped it out. The Philistine screamed until Nad slit his throat with his knife. Nad stood after wiping his blade on the man's tunic and set off to find his fellow captains. They had plans to make.