Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Day They Came

Cross posted at Wheat and Tares

The villagers were enjoying the last coolness of the night before the sun rose. A gentle breeze rolled off of the ocean from their semi-permanent shelters. A few women were already beginning to grind nuts and millet to make the morning meal.  The men were stirring, ready to hunt wild pigs and speer fish to supplement the fruits and grain.

As the sun rose the first hint of danger was the barking and squawking of small animals in the village. On top of the hill, the birds suddenly flew from the tree tops and thick brush. The rustling of fleeing animals from the underbrush got louder. Once the sun has crested the hill it outlined the approaching soldiers. Their head gear added to the length of their shadows, and the sun glistened off of their new heavier armor made of glass, bone, and pieces of metal. Their swords were already in hand, and they had started to pick up the pace in their balanced ranks.

The cry went up from one of the women and the village became a scene of commotion. The women screamed for their children, or just screamed in terror. The old men stirred more slowly, sad at what they knew was coming to their village. They had warned the younger elders of the perfidy of their neighbors, just as their grandfathers had warned them.  They even received warnings from fleeing political leaders. He told disturbing tales of armies that were led by a young, angry, firebrand who it was said, often discussed his desire to seize more land and used the army to intimidate disagreeing opponents. It was said he spent small fortunes on arming them with new and heavier armor, he desired the extermination of everybody who opposed him, and he sent that army to pull down and level his opponents and seize their wealth.  And the intimidating soldiers, with heavier armor stood right in rank and file as evidence in front of the terrified villagers.

The young men in the village were moving the fastest. The soldiers marched forward with a steady crunch, swhoosh, chrunch, swhoosh and by the time the soldiers had marched to the bottom of the hill they faced a small line of young men and experienced warriors armed with swords, curved swords, and slings made out of bone, jade, obsidian. The fleet and elite warriors of the village managed to put on hide armor and thick, padded cloth armor.

The captains yelled to maintain ranks, and the chief captain yelled the order to attack, and the soldiers rushed forward with a unifying cry! The skirmish was over quickly, as the heavier and ornate armor of the army deflected the blows of the warriors. Only one of them every now and again was even wounded, while the lightly armored and surprised warriors were quickly killed and overwhelmed. The few armed with slings managed to wound a few soldiers, mainly in the legs, but it was a one- sided conflict. The defeated villagers grabbed whatever they could and rush into out the other side of the village. They fled in small groups with bits of necklace, pottery, food, and clothing.

Each family in the village had at least one small boat for fishing in the sea, and it proved useful in crossing the nearby river. The softly rushing water flowing through reeds, and the croak of frogs contrasted with the smell of smoke, screams of the wounded and dying, the mourning for the fallen and the crackling fire that soldiers had started. Those who fought the fear and the heart break to look behind them saw the rising smoke. They would never come back to what they considered their home. They faced an uncertain future among loosely related political and ethnic groups around the capital and its environs, the surviving men resolved to get revenge for their eviction and looked forward to telling their stories of woe to whoever would hear it. Maybe they would be allowed to speak from the towers…

English colonists attacking the Pequot in 1636. I know this brings up imperialism and other sensitive matters, but that was not an exclusive Western, white, and modern sin. I think an argument can be made that the Nephites were imperialists as well. 

In the village the captains started organizing the consolidation. They focused their ire on a large wooden tower. It was recently built in the center of the village and the army didn’t need to guess what lies it had testified to. They just barely missed capturing that traitor and he had found a friendly audience among this group. They torched the tower immediately.  The semi-permanent structures were torn apart by soldiers. The new space would be the location of a governor’s headquarters, the first homes for new settlers, and store houses for the expected farming and hunting.  Most importantly, they would have space for a barracks. The wood could be used for new palisades on top of the planned berms around the city. The remaining individuals not quick or healthy enough to flee were held captive. The soldiers were under strict orders not to rape them, but some of them certainly leered enough to make the women and girls uncomfortable. Their last king had outlawed slavery years earlier, but the soldiers had plenty of work to do before the coming settlers, they wanted some reward and could use the cheap labor provided by the captured individuals. The captured would work in the houses and fields of the new elites and be grateful for the steady employment and lifestyle far above their current savage condition.

The chief captain sheathed his sword and took a deep breath. He examined the bustling activity and felt a surge of pride. He had sworn and oath to protect his people and continue to do so. The berm and palisade along the river would prove a solid defense against the depredations of these savages. They’ve wasted this land, and laid waste to his land for far too long. They’ve been even more restless since that traitor escaped, and he instinctively took another satisfying breath of the burning wood from the tower.  He point north and south along the river and directed the new patrols to hunt down and capture stragglers. He asked his assistant to bring his writing equipment and erect a small table. He needed to report to the Chief Governor, and make sure the new settlers arrived in orderly fashion. The security of the realm depended making this region productive…

This is a dramatic recreation of the events in Alma chapter 50 and includes elements from the war chapters in general. That chapter describes Moroni’s actions to fortify the land and expel Lamanite settlers in rather laudatory terms. Verses 18-21 actually described a Nephite golden age that happened right after these actions. As Grant Hardy described, in literary accounts the text often tries to distract a person. I thought it was interesting that the account moved away from Moroni’s actions to instead discuss how happy the Nephite’s were. But I thought a more critical look at his actions suggest this might have had negative consequences, such as a flow of angry refugees, and a confirmation of the insidious stories that Amalickiah was telling. I doubt the process of securing the wilderness areas was pleasant. They didn’t get an eviction notice with 30 days to prepare; it was likely an unpleasant and violent experience for those that experienced it. I also added some reasonable embellishments based on my knowledge of military history, the history and geography of the region, and human nature. I hope you enjoy it, I might add this to the introduction of my next book, and if I was really ambitious perhaps I would write a Game of Thrones style epic fantasy based on the war chapters. What details did you notice from the scriptures? What details do you think I should have added? Thanks for reading! 

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