Monday 7 November 2011

A Punitive Expedition....Part 2

After an easy march from the Forbodian border of a couple of days at last the objective was in sight of the Rusland force. The low escarped ridges of Keder Sirt were but an artillery round away; with the dome of the mosque in view and the fortress a short distance behind the village. Count Skavar, resplendent in his richly adorned hussar uniform complete with all his decorations (he usually put this on at the last minute as the weight of his many awards was considerably wearing to even walk in, let alone fight in), surveyed the scene before him with a practised and experienced eye. That there were Fezian troops manning the heights was of little concern to him - the troops at his disposal were more than adequate to deal with them - but he did not want his command to become embroiled in a costly assault against both a village and a fortress. It was vital then that any troops defending against his advances were kept busy whilst his real assault force manoeuvred against the hopefully undefended village and fortress. The very description 'fortress' offended the Count's military sensibilities as the said building was little more than a well protected farm. In his opinion it was typical of Fezian arrogance that such a ramshackle pile of brickwork could even be considered as such. It was of little consequence though, as this wretched hideout of a band of upstart Fezian troublemakers would soon be a smoking pile of rubble if the Count had any say in the matter.
Whilst the Count pondered his plan of attack the Rusland army hurried on with its preparations for the days events. Weapons were checked and rechecked, ammunition was distributed, blades sharpened and silent prayers said. Some hardy souls ate a hasty breakfast although appetites were greatly reduced - primarily due the routine shortcomings of the perennially abysmal commissariat. Vodka was in generous supply though and this most vital part of a Rusland soldier's equipment was employed to the full. Several Icons appeared and much tension breaking good natured banter resulted as the merits of rival saints were compared and much sacrilegious, scandalous and blasphemous theological debate ensued. Even the rhythmic stamping of feet and the tinkling of massed balalaikas could be heard from certain parts of the Rusland encampment - no doubt in part fuelled by the copious amount of spirits in circulation. This was sweet and evocative music to the Count's ears and conjured up many happy images of past winters spent on his estates in Magnetogorsk. Ordinarily the Count would happily partake in such campfire sentimentality but today he had sterner matters to attend to and so reluctantly he turned his attention to the hastily scrawled map on the drumhead in front of him.
The Count's plan was simple. A half of his infantry and all of his artillery would demonstrate against the forward Fezian positions on the escarpments. Whilst this was underway the remainder of his command would head around the Fezian right flank, shielded by a convenient wood of conifers. The infantry of this force would either assault the Fezian positions in the rear or serve to prevent them from withdrawing to the village whilst the cavalry would press on to the fortress in order to burn it down to the foundations. Once accomplished the entire force would then disengage from the enemy and rendezvous in the rear of the same wood before heading to the coast and evacuation. It was a simple plan the Count mused, but effective all the same. Satisfied with his dispositions and trusting his fate to the heavens (as was his usual custom) the Count gulped back a generous swig of Vodka from his personal supply and, with a grim smile; as the last calls of the muezzin faded into the dawn's early light, gave the order for the attack to commence….

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