Thorgest : The Life And Death Of A Viking Raider
" Let Us Build Fortifications ! "
One morning Albrikt came to King Thorgest and brought up the question of when they would be leaving the monastery. The king told his commander that he would have to think long and hard on the subject before making his decision. Thorgest was not comfortable returning to Dyvlinarskire and leaving only a handful of warriors behind with Raðbarðr to secure the monastery and watch over Melaghlin and his small but well organized army.
The king asked himself again and again :
" If I was still in Møre what would I do ? "
When the answer finally came to him King Thorgest called a meeting with Albrikt and Raðbarðr where he laid out his plans.
" In the Northlands when we conquer territory in a foreign kingdom what do we do Albrikt ? " he asked his commander.
Albrikt, being a warrior who had been on many military campaigns over the years, took only a brief moment to respond to the king's question.
" We would secure the region by building a ring fort and manning it before we moved on. " he told the king.
Thorgest smiled as he nodded.
" Yes ! And I will not leave Raðbarðr here without the proper means to defend himself, or the monastery. So, here too we shall build a ring fort. " he informed his commanders.
Albrikt stroked his beard thoughtfully before he inquired.
" And where, my king, shall we build such a fort ? " he asked.
The king thought for a moment before replying.
" Raðbarðr ! Tomorrow morning I will need you to begin building housing just outside of the monastery grounds for you and your warriors. I will then ask Melaghlin to make his army help you erect these structures. This will keep the Irish busy while I send Albrikt to find a location nearby to build the fortress. " he informed the young warrior.
King Thorgest then turned to Albrikt and grinned. And you, my old friend, will leave before first light with fifty warriors, and of course our guide Diarmait. Head north and try to find a location that is protected on at least one side by water. " he told his commander before ending their meeting.
The next morning Albrikt could not help but chuckle when he heard Raðbarðr and his warriors making such a racket as they began the construction of their huts. For it surely woke everyone in the monastery and the village. More importantly it drew the Irishmen's attention away from their encampment, and allowed the commander and his warriors to leave the area without being noticed by Melaghlin.
Along the way Diarmait told Albrikt about a body of water that lay approximately ten miles north of Athlone called the Lough Ribh. Here, about twenty miles away from the monastery the Irish guide thought there would be good land to build their ring fort upon the southern shore of the lough. Albrikt agreed that it sounded like an ideal place to build the fort, but he explained that he would have to see the area first hand before making such a decision.
It was evening before they reached the southern end of the waterway, which was a part of the River Shannon. Albrikt, however, did not care for the lay of the land and told Diarmait that he wished to follow the lough further north. That night, however, Diarmait protested vehemently against going past the location he had chosen for the commander, giving Albrikt many odd reasons for not traveling further north, which raised suspicions in the Norseman's mind about his guide's intentions.
The next morning the Vikings made their way along the Lough Ribh, following its bank north. Albrikt became even more suspicious of Diarmait when after every half mile or so the guide pointed out another location for the fort, many of which were wholly unsuited for their needs. The Irishman also seemed to be more agitated than ever each time Albrikt rejected a tract of land that he had chosen. And when the commander finally decided on what he considered to be the perfect location to build the ring fort Diarmait seemed greatly relieved that they would not be traveling further north.
That night, while Diarmait thought the Norseman was sleeping, he quietly saddled a horse and walked it out of the camp. When he felt he was far enough away he mounted, and rode as fast as he could to the north, following the shoreline of the Lough Ribh to guide him through the cloudy moonless night.
Albrikt, who was a light sleeper in any case, woke the moment Diarmait, who had been bedded down only a few feet away, began to rustle around with the horses. Once the Irishman was out of sight the commander roused four of his warriors and had them mount up their horses and follow him as he tracked Diarmait.
To Albrikt's great surprise their Irish guide was not heading east back to his family, but north along the waterway.
" Was there another Irish lord with an army in this area ? " Albrikt asked himself.
It was deep into the night when Diarmait dismounted by the edge of the lough and began to disrobe. As he watched under the cover of brush once again Albrikt was perplexed by the behavior of the Irishman. This time the commander decided to stop Diarmait and force him to tell him what he was doing.
" Stop right there ! " Albrikt commanded.
Diarmait, surprised by the presence of the Norseman, tried to run down to the bank and jump into the lough. One of Albrikt's warriors, a huge man named Egil, pulled his axe from his belt and threw it at the Irishman before the commander could command him to stop. The blade of the axe somersaulted through the air in perfect rhythm, stopping only when it smacked into the back of the fleeing Irishman. Albrikt watched in horror as Diarmait threw up his arms and fell forward into the shallow water with a loud splash. Albrikt ran as fast as he could down to the bank, and with the help of the other warriors pulled the Irishman out of the water. As he was laid upon the muddy shore Diarmait had only one thing to say.
" Inis Cloithrinn! Not Inis Cloithrinn ! Leave it be ! " and then he went silent.
Albrikt wanted the guide to tell him more, but judging by his shallow breathing he had not long to live. The commander tried vigorously to revive their guide to make him talk, but his efforts were in vain, and he soon died of his injuries. Albrikt shook his head back and forth dejectedly as he gave Egil a cold stare. The warrior, however, was not paying his commander much attention, and seemed to be looking far off into the distance.
" Commander,...., am I imagining this, or are there lights out in the middle of the lough ? " he asked.
Albrikt strained his eyes and soon he too saw the lights out on what appeared to be an island outlined against the water. The commander quickly called his men over and gave them new orders :
" I will remain here until morning. Egil ! You will remain with me, while you two return to our encampment to inform the others why I have stayed here . " he instructed his warriors.
The next morning Albrikt and Egil hid themselves in the upper branches of a tall oak tree while they stared diligently out at the island through the slowly brightening skies. When the sun appeared over their shoulders, and the mist had lifted, they clearly saw what Diarmait was so desperately trying to protect. Albrikt and Egil looked over at each other as a huge grin formed on both of their faces. The commander was the first one to announce what they had found.
" Inis Cloithrinn is another monastery ! " he uttered with great joy.
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : The High King Of Ireland
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.