The Dark Witch
The Armies Of The Dead
The martyrs who were risen from their graves in the Duchy of Saxony, by Hakon and the dark witch, were much angrier than their Scandinavian brothers. They had moldered in their mounds for over two hundred years, and in that time all they could dwell on was revenge. Now that they were released from their tombs vengeance was the force that drove them, and nothing on Midgard could stop them !
Verden was the first town to feel the wrath of the vengeful dead Saxons. Most of the Franks, who now lived in what was known as the Holy Roman Empire, fled before the dead army could reach them. The townspeople who were brave enough to stay behind fought courageously using every weapon at their disposal. But neither hot oil, nor cold steel could stop the dead as they destroyed the town house by house, and church by church.
When every fortification, farm and hut was destroyed, and nothing in their path remained alive, the Saxon dead headed south along the Weser river towards the next town which was called MInden. Like a plague they maimed and killed everything that lay before them. No one was safe, and nothing was sacred !
Warned by those who had escaped the onslaught in Verden, the people of Minden gathered together a small army to meet the marauders who were fast approaching their town. The townspeople, however, did not believe the stories being told by the people of Verden, who spoke of this army as being comprised of the walking dead. But then, who in their right mind could accept that the dead had risen from their graves to walk again. They quickly changed their opinions of the Verden survivors when they saw the army of corpses coming towards them from off in the distance.
Unlike the draugr of Norway, these walking dead had been in the ground for much longer than their Scandinavian counterparts. Their shields had rotted away, and their helmets and weapons had rusted during their long time in the earth, but their determination to kill those who had executed them was just as fresh in their minds as on the day that Charlemagne ordered their deaths.
Bernard, the Duke of Saxony, led the Minden people in the defense of their town. Early on in the battle he saw that their efforts were futile, and he quickly sent a messenger out to find Otto III, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, warning him of the arrivals of the walking corpses from Hell.
The Minden warriors fought bravely, but no matter how hard they fought, or how many times they jabbed, stabbed, and hacked at their opponents, they could not stop the dead who haunted them in the light of day ! When Duke Bernard felt that the destruction of his remaining forces was imminent he pulled the survivors back, and headed for Hadesheim, which lay just south of Minden. As they retreated the warriors shook their heads in frustration when they saw Minden burning to the ground in the distance.
Louis, the messenger Bernard had sent to find Emperor Otto III, had been riding for the better part of a day when he reached Goslar. Here, as he watered his exhausted horse, he was told that Emperor Otto had passed through the town just the day before heading for Paderborn. When the messenger explained what had happened in both Verden and Minden, the chieftain of Goslar, Thorvald the Furious, gave Louis a fresh horse and sent him on his way.
Louis caught up with Otto III just outside of Paderborn. The Emperor grew very concerned when he was told that their was an uprising in Lower Saxony. When the messenger told him that the invaders were dead warriors come back for revenge, the Emperor began to laugh.
" Am I supposed to believe that an army of the dead has risen from their graves to attack my empire ? " he asked sarcastically.
" No ! God would not allow such a thing to happen on our sacred soil ! " he added angrily.
After a moment of thought he turned back to Louis and continued.
" I will of course bring my army to Hadesheim and destroy these invaders who dare to rise up against me ! " he told the messenger.
At dawn the next morning Otto III had his army on the move heading northeast towards Hadesheim. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire hurried his men along. Otto was determined to stop these marauders before they were able to destroy another town, and kill more of his subjects. But could he arrive in time ?
The Emperor's heart sank when he reached a small hill overlooking the town of Hadesheim. As Otto III gazed down upon the town he saw that many of the buildings had been set ablaze, and along the streets, to his dismay, he could not help but notice bodies littering the ground. In the town square, presumably where Duke Bernard made his last stand with his warriors and the townsfolk, their bodies were stacked three and four deep where they fell !
As the Emperor surveyed the devastation that lay below him, he caught sight of something much more ominous. Gathering at the edge of town were thousands of warriors readying themselves for the attack. And they were all either looking up, or pointing at, Otto's position on the hill !
- End Chapter 9
- Next : Chapter 10 : A Half Empty Hall !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.