Part 5: A Scotsman In Egypt - Chapter 4The time had come, the final battle ready, as Egypt made its last stand against the most unexpected of foes, the forces of Scotland.
Edward had added to the Scottish host, taking delivery of men from Alexandria, as well as two catapults that had originally been created to act in defence of that city. Siege ladders were ready, Edward had laid out his battle plans to his commanders, and all that remained was to attack.
Edward's biographer would later write of the passionate battlefield speech the Scottish King in Egypt made that day, of how he waxed eloquent on the virtues of the Scottish, the nobility of the Catholic faith and the evils of the Egyptian heathens. He would write of Edward's impassioned plea for noble battle under the recognised rules of civilized warfare, to remember that they were liberating the peoples of Gaza and do all in their power to avoid bringing harm to them.
Which was a slight exaggeration of what Edward actually said, which was,"RARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!"
As the units chosen to carry the siege ladders ran for the Eastern and Western Walls, the catapults unleashed their firepower, smashing stones against the gates of Gaza as Crusader Knights, Religious Fanatics, Highlanders and Sudanese Swordsmen reached the walls and raised up the ladders, charging up to meet Egypt's first line of defence.
The Egyptians found themselves stretched thin and surrounded, but they held the position of power by holding the Gate Towers, and would be able to hold for a considerable amount of time. But Edward had expected this, knowing that the Egyptians would hold the gates in force, splitting their numbers in the hope of holding out the Scots.
"Through the gates!" cried Edward, his remaining infantry on the ground charging through arrow fire to enter the city. This was the moment of truth, when Edward's plan would succeed or fail based on the reaction of the Egyptian lords. As his men entered the city, flags raised in the City Centre to pass on orders, and to Edward's great relief the Gate Towers began to empty out as close to half the Egyptians holding them ran to meet the Scottish infantry on the ground.
"Charge the horses!" screamed his Cavalry Commander, and they charged forward, firing arrows as they rode at the Egyptians massing at the doorway, trapped now between the Scottish infantry inside the city and the Horse closing in on them.
In the City Centre, Tulun of Taba gritted his teeth as the latest message came in; they stood to lose the gates, their men there surrounded on all sides by the Scottish.
"My King, we must destroy their infantry and push them back from the gates," Tulun warned the man by his side, Crown Prince Moussa. The 17 year old Heir to the crumbling Egyptian Empire was untested in battle or commmand, raised only recently to a never expected position of authority by the death of his brother, Nasser. He wore a frightening mask that was designed both to strike fear into his enemies and also mask his own youthful features and insecurity. It was this inexperience that Tulun played on now.
"Perhaps a cavalry charge into their rear?" suggested Moussa hesitantly.
"You show a grasp of tactics unexpected in one so young and untested, my Lord," complimented Tulun,"Would you have me lead the charge?"
"No... No, if I am to lead the Egyptians, I must truly lead," whispered Moussa, his face unreadable behind the mask but his body language screaming his desperate desire to please,"I shall throw back these infidels!"
"The men will be honored to see you lead them, my Lord," smiled Tulun with a bow,"Truly you prove yourself this day."
Moussa raised sword and ordered his men forward, moving at a fast trot downhill as Tulun watched Sultan Mubarak carefully. As usual, the Egyptian ruler seemed not to know his son even existed, and it was Tulun's hope that soon he would not. The charge would probably succeed, but if Tulun knew Moussa's type, the youth would ride at the head of the force and be amongst the first to die. The end result? The Scots would be repelled, Moussa would die a hero and he, Tulun of Taba, would be the new heir apparent to the throne of Egypt.
At the gates, Moussa did indeed lead the charge, but the result was nothing that any on Egypt's side would have expected. The Scottish infantry parted in a rush to either side of the gate as the Egyptian cavalry rode in, the Scottish Horse Archers on the other side turning aside as well as a great horn sounded and the thunder of hooves drowned out the sound of Moussa's own charge.
"FOR GOD AND SCOTLAND!" roared Edward, leading his heavy cavalry as it cut through the Egyptians inside the gate like a hot knife through butter.
"FOR ETHELRED!" cried Edmund, in honor of the woman he had recently become betrothed to and would soon marry.... if he survived this battle.
The Egyptian infantry were crushed by the horses, which plowed through them and directly into Moussa's bodyguard, Scotsman swinging swords in a killing frenzy as above them on the walls Egyptians were cut down and bodily thrown aside as Scotland took the gates of Gaza.
Moussa's eyes were wide behind the implacable face of his battle mask, his panic rising as he saw his men cut down before him. A sword swung at him, seen from the corner of his eye, and he flung up his shield in a panicked attempt to block it, unbalancing his horse which rose up on its hind legs, spilling Moussa from his mount. His world went black and he staggered to his feet, clutching in horror at his face as he realised his helm had twisted on his head and blinded him to the battle around him.
"FATHER!" he screamed, and then was rode down by a Scottish horse, squawking in surprise before his world went dark again, this time for good.
The Scottish forces regathered, staring up the narrow road and the turn that would lead to the City Centre, which stood on an easily defended hill. They had gained their first victory in taking the Gate, but now was the most dangerous challenge, assailing Sultan Mubarak on high ground.
In the square itself, Tulun grinned behind his veil, things had not gone as expected at the Gate, but he had his own surprise in store for the Scots. Soon they would ride up the streets towards he and Sultan Mubarak, only to find their horse cut off from the infantry by reserve Spearmen. Then Tulun would ride in to crush the accursed Scottish Princes against the wall of spears, which was sure to lead to the rout of the rest of the Scottish Army.
"We ride at the front," Edward told Edmund as the army prepared to march up the street,"Let the Egyptians see us coming, let them see the new Kings of Egypt coming to replace them."
"Aye, Brother," agreed Edmund,"But remember Tulun and his archers, one stray arro..."
"Let me worry about Tulun," grunted Edward,"I have plans for that lad."
Tulun watched in rapture, sensing his moment of victory was close now, so close. From his vantage point he could see the banners of the Scots approaching, and as he'd expected the Princes were riding at the vanguard. He forced himself to wait, not to make the call too early, not to wreck this last chance to gain him glory and, eventually, the throne. He waited and waited, and waited and.... NOW! He cast his arm down and a flaming arrow was fired into the air to send the call out.
"What was that?" grunted Edward as the flaming arrow fizzled out,"A signal?"
"Let me worry about that, Brother," smiled Edmund,"You worry about Tulun."
At the Eastern wall, a sealed door slammed and shuddered as the Spearman who had been hiding inside the tower attempted to burst free, only to find their way blocked.
"Open! Open in the name of Tulun of Taba!" screamed the Spearman Commander,"OPEN!"
"Sorry laddie," chuckled a voice from the other side of the door,"Tulun dinnae run this city anymore."
Fearghus Campbell chuckled some more as he leaned against the wall and enjoyed the feel of the sun on his face. Usually his missions for Edmund saw him move about at night, it was wonderful to be out in the sun. He heard a mighty roar in the distance that was undoubtedly Scottish, and guessed that Edward and Edmund were finally clashing with Tulun of Taba and Sultan Mubarak.
Tulun screamed in fury as the Scots washed over them from all sides. How had it all gone wrong? He'd planned for every eventuality, he'd been sure the Scottish madmen would be his key to the Throne, but the Gate hadn't held; Moussa had died without any gain; and the Scots had taken so few significant casualties that they'd been able to ride up on both flanks of the Square to strike at his forces. Sultan Mubarak's bodyguard was surrounded and the man himself would probably be brought down soon, meaning that Tulun would technically be King of Egypt, but only for a few moments.
"EDWARD!" he screamed in madness,"EDWARD FACE ME YO-"
He was cut off with a squawk as hands grabbed at him from all sides, pulling him from his mount. He hit the ground with a rough thud, and turned to stare in horror at the robed figures surrounding him, faces shrouded by hoods, rough hands clutching crude cudgels.
"IN THE NAME OF GOD!" screamed one of the robed figures,"KILL THE HEATHEN!"
Clubs rained down on Tulun, and his screams of fury became screams of terror.
"SCOTLAND!" screamed Sultan Mubarak, seeing his last blood relative dying at the hands of the Scots. Hands clutched at him, eager Crusader Knights and laughing Highlander's seemingly gone mad with battle lust dragging him from his mount,"WITH MY DYING BREATH I WILL CUR-"
Edward sat his horse in the Centre of the City, watching as his men wiped out the last of the Egyptians. He noted Edmund giving orders, sending several units to the East Wall to deal with some Spearmen who apparently hadn't joined the battle for some reason, and allowed himself a moment to breathe. The battle had gone better than he'd expected in his wildest dreams, and now the blood-soaked streets of Gaza belonged to him and Edmund.
"It is done," he grunted to Edmund as his brother rode to his side,"The impossible dream, two Brothers who did nae let common sense or an old, broken down man decide their fates."
The two brothers stared out over Gaza, the last city of the Egyptians, now theirs as was all of Egypt, which had once been the mightiest nation on Earth.
But now there was no more Egypt..... there was only Scotland.