Preparing The Defenses
Geirny knew in her heart that Sigvaldi had no other option than to kill her father when he was attacked. Despite this sad realization she had grown cold towards him as they began to prepare the defensive perimeter around the village. She needed to sort out her feelings, but there was no time. The village, if it were to be successfully defended, would need every man, woman, and child, to work harder than they had ever worked before. It was imperative that the defenses be finished as soon as possible because they had heard that the Giants had already reached Oslo and destroyed the town. The few people who had managed to survive the onslaught in Oslo and reach Tofte told stories so horrifying that they were hard to believe.
Upon hearing about their terrifying ordeal Sigvaldi set about immediately devising traps and weapons, that would be both large enough and deadly enough, to stop these marauding Jotuns from entering their village and destroying everything that their people had built over the many generations that they had lived there. Sigvaldi called his commanders and shield maidens over, and on the ground he drew with a stick a rough drawing that showed the defenses to give them an idea of how his defensive rings would work. Everyone was impressed, and each volunteered to supervise a different area of the defenses.
The villagers were fortunate in that they only had to defend themselves from three directions, north, east and west. The sea, which lay behind the village acted as both an impenetrable fortress in their rear, and also as an escape route should it become necessary as their last resort.
The first priority was to finish the outpost towers on the hill that lay just beyond the far valley. Once manned these would act as their eyes and ears, and be their early warning system. Each of these towers was built in sight of the other so they could signal one another, and at each of their bases was tied up a fast horse to allow the watchman to ride back to the village to warn their folk of the approaching Jotuns.
Above the Far Valley lay what were known as the Far Slopes. It was here that Sigvaldi set up his first line of defense. The new Chieftain of Tofte had all the trees cut down on the slopes . He then had large round rolls of hay brought to the top of the hill. When the Jotuns approached it was Sigvaldi's intention to soak these in whale oil, light them on fire, and roll them down upon the unsuspecting Giants.
Sigvaldi was not confident that these rolling fire balls would kill very many of the Jotuns, so he had them placed in the center of the hill. On the left and right of these hay rolls he had large boulders put into place. Sigvaldi, with his great military wisdom, theorized that when the Jotuns ran to the left, or to the right, to avoid the burning hay, they would be crushed by the huge boulders that would then rain down upon them.
Tofte's Chieftain had no grand illusion that this first line of defense would stop the Jotuns. He was a practical man who always planned for the worst case scenario. Once the Jotuns had reached the top of the Far Slopes his warriors and shield maidens would retreat through the Fertile Valley on the other side, and ready themselves to man the secondary defensive line on the Inner Hill.
Several towers were placed here as well. The forest on the inner hill, however, was left intact. The darkness and denseness of this section of forest that surrounded their village would play an important role in hiding their hostile intentions as the Giants approached.
The trees that had been cut down on the Far Slopes were stripped of their branches . These huge heavy logs were then hoisted up into the tree canopy to Jotun height, and then tied by two large ropes to strong branches in the trees of the Inner Hill. A third rope was then used to pull the great log up on one side, which was then tied to another branch. When this third rope was cut the tree trunk would swing across the Jotuns path with what the warriors hoped was enough force to injure or kill the Giant it was aimed at.
Once again Sigvaldi put himself into the minds of the Jotuns. After a few were killed in this manner the Chieftain knew that they would keep an eye towards the tree canopy, and therefore not be as easily fooled by the swinging tree weapons. To counter this Sigvaldi ordered great pits dug just beyond the last swinging logs, and had them filled with sharpened stakes at their bottom and on their sides. While the Jotuns were preoccupied with scanning the tree tops for swinging logs they would hopefully not notice the pits that they had disguised with nets and covered with leaves and other debris. Once the Jotuns fell into these pits of death there was no escape.
If this did not kill the remaining Jotuns, the Chieftain had one more trick up his sleeve. Sigvaldi had the local fishermen bring to the forest at the edge of the village their huge fishing nets. These were then carried up into the trees where the village women would wait until the Jotuns were beneath them, and then drop the nets on their heads. A line of warriors and shield maidens, carrying long spears, would then advance and kill the Jotuns as they struggled to free themselves.
The final defense, and their last hope of destroying the Giants, was to breach the dam and flood the village drowning the last of the Jotuns. This last heroic act would fall to Sigvaldi himself. While his people sailed away from the docks it was he who would make the ultimate sacrifice and die to destroy these Giant marauders. If Sigvaldi could not save his own village he would make certain that these Jotuns could go no further south and terrorize other villages and towns in the Northway.
As Geirny helped to hoist the heavy nets up into the trees by the village, she looked over at Sigvaldi, who was working as hard as any of the villagers. Suddenly she had a burning sensation in her chest. Her eyes welled up with tears as she became acutely aware of what was at stake here. To lose her father was hard enough to accept. But to lose the man she loved as well would leave her with no reason to go on . They had to stop the Jotuns here at the edge of the village with these nets.... or all was lost !
- End Chapter 4
- Next Chapter 5 : A Father's Watchful Eyes
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.