A Lone Viking Warrior

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A Lone Viking Warrior Empty A Lone Viking Warrior

Post by Tyler Bishop on Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:57 pm

A Lone Viking Warrior Viking

The searing sun beat down on the meadows of the east bank of Derwent with unrelenting fury. The Viking army who camped there had just crushed the English armies of Mercia and Northumbria and were consolidating their spoils as they licked their wounds and planned for their future raids. They had descended on all the English towns they had encountered with the ferocity of a rampaging plague of biblical locusts.

It wasn’t until a steady rumble began growing that they had realized the fatal mistake they had made. The Norse leaders had not expected the larger Saxon army to be so close, last report had put them over a hundred miles away, so when the horizon came alive with fluttering banners and gleaming steel of over five thousand enemy soldiers., the Northmen knew they were in trouble.

Cries of retreat began to go up almost immediately as the men grabbed as much as they could before racing towards the trail that led back to their ships. The day had been excruciatingly hot, and the Saxons were thought to be nowhere near the camp, so many of the Viking warriors had left their heavy mail and weapons back on the ships. Desperately they raced for them now but the ships seemed as if they were on the other side of the world as the Saxon horsemen crested the ridge and charged into the thick of the scattering Norse warriors.

The first hundred Viking warriors were cut down like wheat before an avenging scythe before any order could be established. The remaining men sprinted towards the bridge that spanned the raging river that had once been a wall to protect their flank but that  now served as a choke point that aided in their slaughter. Some choose to jump into the raging river itself, most of them getting ripped off their feet and sent tumbling down the rocky riverbed to never rise again.

Others streamed across the sturdy wooden bridge that provided safe passage over the river. It was nearly four men wide shoulder-to-shoulder so it allowed many of the Vikings a chance to escape certain death. As the last of the Vikings streamed across the bridge, the Saxon army closed on them, intending to cut every last man down.

It is at that moment that a single Viking warrior separates from his fleeing countrymen and takes position on the bridge. The giant Norse berserker grimly surveys the Saxon army as they surge towards him and he grips his massive double-bladed greataxe tightly as he waits for the perfect moment to unleash Hell.

The lead Saxon foot soldiers are met with a savage guttural growl from the nameless Viking warrior as he swings his axe in a great arch with ease and rips through four of them at once. His weathered, calloused hands reverse grip on the axe’s handle and loop up in a fierce arc before biting into the next soldier in line, nearly cleaving him in two.

As the warrior fights his countrymen continued their retreat, now being covered from the rear, and began to compose themselves and plan a defense on the other side. The battle rages on the bridge as the Saxon army collectively comes to a half before the mad beast in front of them. A handful of thrown spears sail over the front ranks, most way off target, and those that weren’t are skillfully slapped away by the raging warrior.

- Exert from the journal of Erwin Gowin, Saxon Swordsman in service to King Harold Godwinson

“The thing stood before us possessed, a godless heathen given over fully to the demons that empowered these savages. His eyes glowed with bloodlust as he let loose unearthly howls aimed to strike fear to our very core. The creature danced through battle with glee as it slaughtered our men. Never before have I seen such evil, such unbridled and unremorseful death. I have been in many a battle, but the sheer joy of this foul beast as it rent apart our ranks was something deeply unsettling.
This was no man. He was a unwholesome demon, sent forth from the darkest recesses of Hell itself to exact brutal vengeance upon this army of the Lord. I pray this creature never rises again.”

The full might of the Anglo-Saxon army charges the bridge, determined to extricate the colossal beast from his post through the sheer weight of their numbers, but the relatively narrow walkway above the raging waters of the River Derwent was limiting their advantage, and its guardian was unwavering in his resolve.

A predatory instinct takes hold of the fearless Viking as he delivers terrible havoc upon the Saxons. The axe swings heavily and he has begun to last out with his bare hands, raking with his claws, taking down even the bravest warriors with a single blow. The men rally as they continue to swarm the bridge, arrows and swords shattering on impact against the warrior’s chainmail and . . . his bare skin. He seems oblivious to the attacks, terrible blows that land failing to elicit even the slightest wince of pain. The ferocious barbarian cuts a swath of destruction in his wake, snarling as he presses through the experienced Saxon warriors as if they were little more than sheep.

One soldier specifically is shoved too close by the army at his back and meets a more horrific fate than those who have fallen before him.

- Excert from Sir Tyrin Mortig, First Knight in service to King Harold Godwinson

“One of our men sought to press an advantage as the beasts’ massive axe flew wide to dispatch two others who were trying to rush around the side of the bridge. The man had closed nearer than any of our men had up until this point that day and he drove the sword he held into the unprotected side of the raging warrior. A godless howl of pain trumpeted across the battlefield as the Norse madman snapped his gaze to the brave man who now held the pummel of a sword buried half-length into his side.

We had expected the axe to flash In a parry, or perhaps another clawed hand to rake out the eyes of my brother in arms, but what we witnessed was far worse.

The creature’s head dove for them man’s exposed neck, his face contorted with fury, his mouth full of jagged teeth like those of a beast. Our man had no chance to defend himself as that mouth viciously tore into his throat. Cries of surprise and repulsion rippled through the men as the beast tore out our man’s throat with a single shake of his head.

I have no doubts that that day, on the field of battle, we faced an unholy minion of the devil.”

Time drags on and the beast seems just as invigorated as when the battle began. The Saxon soldiers are unable to get a good angle on him, the bridge and their own numbers limiting their space to maneuver. Again the Norse beast presses forward and drives them forces them to retreat until they are almost back on their side of the bridge. It’s at that point one of the Saxons splits away from the rest and formulates a plan.

He takes some of the remains of a destroyed ox cart and casts them into the raging river towards a patch of rocks under the bridge. He angles the wooden frame of the cart in such a way that it is immediately caught and locked into place by the raging current. Once secure, the man hefts his spear and jumps from the edge of the river bank onto the makeshift platform he had created under the bridge.

He lifts his spear and crawls as far under the bridge as the shaky footing would allow. His boots are quickly drenched and he has to mop water from his face repeatedly as the churning rapids send stinging bursts of mist into his face. He never gives in though and holds his position with determination as he watches the savage Viking draw closer on the bridge above.

The Saxon army draws back to the mouth of the bridge and the Norse demon surges forward to meet them, slashing and hacking as he goes, seeking to add more to his toll. As he pivots on his foot and drives his axe into another soldier he fells a horrible blow sink home from the most unexpected of places.

A spear shaft darts up between the planks below him and the head of the spear bites deep. He fells the cold, hard steel of the spearhead press up into his abdomen and further still until the tip strikes bone near his ribs. The massive beast is hurt for the first time as he throws his head back and lets out an ear-piercing roar. Blood surges up his throat, adding a sickening gurgle to the cry, as fresh black blood flows freely from his mouth.

The lethal blow gives the other soldiers on the bridge the opening they need and they swarm forward. Swords and axes hack at the creature; spears and pikes run him through. The entire front rank of the army floods back onto the bridge and over the now wounded animal.

A slaughter ensues that lasts far longer than it should have for any one man. Even as pieces of flesh are hacked away and bone is cracked beneath steel the creature still stirs, digging its’ nails into the warped wooden planks and trying to drag itself off the edge of the bridge and into the raging waters below. One final blow ends that as a massive warhammer carried by one the armies’ lieutenants crashes down with holy fury. The side of the beasts head caves in and it lets out a wounded whimper before finally laying still.

The entire army watches the body, weapons at the ready as the regard it with dread. After the display they had saw they were not at all eager to get anywhere near that creature, regardless of how disabled it may seem to be. Finally, the same lieutenant that had crushed the warrior’s skull steps forward, places an armored boot on the body, and kicks it off the bridge and into the rapids below.

The entire Saxon army watches as the body slams into rocks and is raked across the jagged edges before disappearing beneath the choppy waters altogether.

Turning back to the men the lieutenant raises his staff and renews the fight within the men. More confident now they double their efforts to cross the bridge and continue to give chase to the Viking warriors, who now had been given the time they needed to be ready for battle.

* * *

As the moon rose Bjorn Svartson stirred deep within the cave that he had chosen to use while the Vikings raided England. His eyes glowed softly in the cave, making them the only source of any illumination at all. It was a talent of his blood, however, and it allowed him to see perfectly. Slowly the man stirred and made his way to the entrance of the cave, picking up a very familiar scent as he went.

Once outside he took a moment to let his eyes adjust as the babbling water at the bottom of the hill lazily churned. Almost immediately he noticed the crumbled and mangled form of what had once been his ghoul. He let out a growl of frustration, one that rumbled deep like a lion’s, and bounded down the hill with unnatural grace. As he made it to the edge of the water he dropped to his knees and examined the body.

His ghoul was almost completely gone. His eyes were swelled shut, his body openly bled from dozens of wounds, and almost every bone in his body looked crushed, broken, or somewhere in-between. Bjorn was used to war, and death, but even he had rarely seen a body this ruined. He reached down and delicately tucked a stray strand of hair behind the fallen warriors ear and knew that if he did nothing the man would die.

Without a further thought Bjorn reached down and took the broken warrior’s body into his arms and carried him back into his cave. The ghoul had served him and his country well for long enough . . . it was now time he was secured into the clan as a worthy member. He had proved his worth tenfold and would make the Gangrel of Norway more powerful as he took his rightful place among their ranks.

That night a howling wolf could be heard all across the Northeast coast. The howls echoed over the fields and through the towns. Peasants and soldiers alike heard the unnerving call. Even the great nobility in their castles felt the cries echoing through their otherwise quiet stone castles.

And then there were two howls.

* The events at the beginning of this story are based in fact.

“A common view is that the Norwegian army was divided in two; with some of their troops on the west side of the River Derwent and the bulk of their army on the east side and they did not expect the arrival of the English army. The sudden appearance of the English army caught the Norwegians by surprise. Their response was to rapidly deploy in a defensive circle. By the time the bulk of the English army had arrived, the Vikings on the west side were either slain or fleeing across the bridge. The English advance was then delayed by the need to pass through the choke-point presented by the bridge. A later folk story has it that a giant Norse axeman (possibly armed with a Dane Axe) blocked the narrow crossing, and single-handedly held up the entire English army. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that this axeman cut down up to 40 Englishmen. He was only defeated when an English soldier floated under the bridge in a half-barrel and thrust his spear through the laths in the bridge, mortally wounding the axeman.

This delay had allowed the bulk of the Norse army to form a shieldwall to face the English attack. Harold's army poured across the bridge, forming a line just short of the Norse army, locked shields and charged. The battle went far beyond the bridge itself, and although it raged for hours the Norse army's decision to leave their armour behind left them at a distinct disadvantage. Eventually, the Norse army began to fragment and fracture, allowing the English troops to force their way in and break up the Scandinavians' shield wall. Completely outflanked, Hardrada at this point was killed with an arrow to his wind pipe and Tostig slain, the Norwegian army disintegrated and was virtually annihilated.”

- Larsen, Karen A History of Norway (New York: Princeton University Press, 1948)
Tyler Bishop
Tyler Bishop

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