Battle Blades #1--The Battle of Demon Canyon By: L. Craig Woods


Battle Blades #1--
The Battle of Demon Canyon
By: L. Craig Woods

Toward evening, the walls on either side of them narrowed and the valley became a canyon, the steep walls now towering over the dispirited warriors. With no other option open to them, they moved on, until they entered a narrow bottleneck which eventually opened into a long, narrow and completely enclosed box canyon.

Scrub grass, rocks, boulders and stunted trees dotted the floor of the canyon. The enclosing walls sloped up gently for perhaps 200 feet, strewn with small trees, brush and boulders, but then climbed nearly vertically for hundreds of feet more. They were trapped. There was, at least, a small spring and pool of water in one shadowed corner of the canyon, so the men could finally slacken their thirst and clean their wounds as they awaited their inevitable doom.

Even though they were now trapped, Lashki refused to give up without a fight. He sent a group of archers to guard the bottleneck entrance to the canyon and sent men as high up the walls near the entrance as they could go to watch for the approach of their pursuers. Making sure the most seriously wounded were tended to, Lashki and his remaining group leaders began a systematic search of their trap, looking for any advantage. Since it was now near dusk, he felt sure there would be no attack on his exhausted forces until morning. His opponent, whose army was made up mostly of drafted farmers and vassals who were required to bear arms during time of war, would wait until all of his support troops had arrived before commencing any sort of frontal attack. For as few as they now were, wounded and exhausted though they may be, Lashki and his warriors were still regarded as the greatest fighters in the realm and no one would risk an all out attack against them without superior numbers on their side.

Lashki himself climbed as high up the rear and side walls of the canyon as he could go, looking for any possible escape route. There was none. Here they would make their perhaps last stand, unless he could come up with a desperate and brilliant plan to save them. Lashki walked the perimeter of the canyon, sticking his sword into the ground in several places. The dirt and sand of the canyon floor was firm, but not hard-packed and there was quite a bit of low cover at the base of the walls and up the on slopes. By nightfall, he had his plan for their defense. It was indeed a desperate plan, but would only be considered brilliant if it succeeded. Tomorrow would tell the tale.

Lashki ordered his men to light fires at the end of the bottleneck, so they could see if any of the enemy tried to enter the canyon during the night and the glare would also make it impossible for the encamped troops to see what was going on within the canyon. He then ordered a widetrench to be dug across the near end of the bottleneck, the dirt to be thrown up on the entrance side, the resulting earthworks to be at least head high. More orders were given for a perhaps futile defense and the warriors responded with energy they had not known they possessed.

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