In times of trouble and war-time engagement; the enemy often wants to strike first — gaining the upper hand. Whilst an element of surprise is never to be underestimated; an element of surprise built upon a failed strategy will undoubtedly result in failure.
There’s a tribal tale, often referred to as the army of ‘one’; which examines a curious case of a mysterious tribe of people who respected their land and saw God in it.
The tribe received an unfortunate news that a mysterious army of foreign strangers had suddenly appeared near the land the tribe’s humble people inhabited. The intention of this mysterious army was to secure a crucial piece of land to form a border through which they could efficiently control the surrounding land they had conquered.
When the mysterious army moved forward towards this land consisting of an army of a thousand men, a journey which would take them six hours to reach the battleground for which they’d decided to conquer the territory of the tribesmen; they found themselves baffled.
After waiting for a messenger to approach from the tribesmen for what seemed to the army a battle they would win without a shred of a doubt, they failed to receive one. Confused and baffled as they stood still, they took upon themselves to believe this to be a sign of surrender from the tribe; assuming the tribe had simple given into the army’s maniacal mannerisms. The General ordered the army to move forward and take control, if there were any, of the tribes bodily remains.
The army followed the order and marched forward, loud and proud — shouting and singing their chants of victory.
When they reached the supposed nesting land of the tribe; they saw nothing.
Losing light and strength; they decided to rest on this victory they’d achieved by scaring away the tribe they’d heard stories of honour and courage about.
At the crack of dawn, the day that followed; the army awoke to see a simple middle-aged man representing the tribe, patiently waiting their awakening — offering them Food and Water in exchange to withdraw their pursuit to shed blood upon the land which the tribesmen worshiped.
The proud General shrugged, as his troops joined in with laughter — denying the offering as he slashed the bags of Food and Water into the mud.
Spitting upon the land, as he spoke — proudly “You peasants think we really need Food and Water? This land is our now. And we will not leave until every one of your tribes’ member are slaughtered to their flesh and bones”.
The messenger, patiently picked up the remains from the sand and simply salvaged what he could; thanked the General for his time and returned.
Soon the Army began to realise that the land they now occupied has no signs of food or water, hence the general ordered six of his best men to go hunt for food; to no avail. The General had now lost his six of his best men in the pursuit for his lust for the tribes’ land.
He sat with his eyes open and began to look around; and still he saw nothing.
He wondered to himself, why is the land so special to this tribe. Why won’t the tribe show itself. Was there ever even a tribe that nested here. What were their magical means through which they survived.
As his thoughts deepened into misery and paranoia, the army had now grown hungry and weak. His men had lost all hope — but the General was too proud to let the tribe see his men weak. So he ordered the army to stand still and maintain control of the land.
As the third day approached, the messenger returned again — this time with a different message.
He asked the General for his permission to speak, the General proudly grunted and looked away from the messenger — ordering the tribesman to delivery his message.
The messenger simply handled the peace of paper to the General, the General too proud to admit that he could not read — asked the boy to read the message aloud — assuming it a message of defeat from the tribe.
As so the boy did,
“Oh Proud General,
As you may be aware by now that the land you’re currently nesting upon is sacred land. It is the land we worship and refuse to shed blood upon . The land is the God we worship, it provides us with food, water, and everything we need to survive in our humble ways. With your six best men losing their lives in your pursuit for food and water; you’re now the leader of an army of Nine Hundred and Ninety Four soldiers — too tired to fight. To the best of your knowledge you know no nothing of the numbers of our tribe or the weapons we are armed with.
But our tribe is one of justice and will not take advantage of the strength you once thought you had, soon to become your weakness. With sufficient food and water, we could easily very well attack your army and claim what is rightfully ours. Or you could simply look down for once in your life and realise that there’s some wars better left not fought. If you look down, you’ll see snakes and scorpions; they’re our source of food. If you look around you, you’ll see cacti, aloes, and agaves; they’re the source of water. If you look at the sand upon which you stand; you’ll see our weapon. For when the storm comes; your soldiers will lose their vision, whilst our tribe will be prepared for the storm we’ve grown to endure over the years and your men would find themselves in a state of aggravation. For it is my humble request, that you leave this land without bloodshed so that we may return to home where our women and children can safely rest.”
The army glared at the general as thoughts of misery and confusion raced through their minds; awaiting his answer.
The General’s face turned a shade of purple as he fixated his blurred vision at the messenger and shouted — proudly,
“You think of me a fool? Even with my army in its current state I will never bow down to your filthy tribe. We will take this land from you and leave the flesh and bones of your tribe in it — let it lay there till the God you think you worship swallows your remains.”
He slashed the boys throat and emptied his weapon upon the letter the messenger had brought.
All that remained of the message was the word ‘endure’, as it landed upon the boys heart as the smoke settled along the bullets that the General had so mercilessly fired.
Seconds later, as the General laughed and sat next to the boy’s body to insult the Land the tribe worshiped — he would soon be surprised to find a snake wrapping its body around the General’s boot, pulling him with the strength of tens of thousands of men into the ground.
The General unable to stand, raised the alarm and ordered the Army to form into position for an attack. The army too tired to stand, instead thought it best to indulge themselves to the water resting within the plants they were now aware of could quench their thirst.
The army of men soon began to collapse, as they were unable to identify the plants and had chosen poorly.
The General could do nothing but watch in agony, as his army of Nine Hundred and Ninety Four men collapsed like pieces of dominos.
The tribesmen now emerged from beneath the sand, baffled as he was; he came to realise the tribe had been in front of him all along, nesting patiently in their home — the land. Camouflaged and invisible to the proud General blinded by his hatred and pursuit for bloodshed.
As he begged for mercy, the snaked slowly pulled the General’s body deeper into the sand. The Tribe leader, in his humble ways, spoke “General, we cannot allow bloodshed upon our land”. Offering him a hand of truce to save him from his unfortunate misery.
The General still too proud to admit defeat shouted and shouted as his dried out throat soon started spitting blood, ordering and begging his men to attack; but no sound could awaken his fallen soldiers, as the General would soon meet the God the Tribesmen worshiped. And as such, the tribe would refuse to let bloodshed upon the ground, the General would soon breath sand instead of air as he sank beneath the land he once stood so proudly upon.
Short Story, a work in progress.