The Lost Viking
The Vikings Attack
" What part of England is this ? " Bergfinn asked on behalf of his chieftain. The terrified Englishman gave the viking a funny look as he answered : " Why this is Northumberland of course ! " Once translated Bjorgulf and Hoskuld immediately searched their map, and when they saw that Northumberland had a border with the Danelaw, they smiled. " And what is the nearest large town, and how far away is it ? " Bergfinn translated from Norse. The Englishman pointed north along the sea coast. " Bamburgh is the nearest town. It is about half a days walk, and sits right on the coast. " he told the Viking. " Bamburgh is a seaport and it is where most of the trading in Northumberland takes place. " the Englishman offered as well. After hearing what the Englishman had to say, Hoskuld drew his sword. " Shall I kill this English dog now ?! " he asked the chieftain. Bjorgolf placed his hand on Hoskuld's sword and lowered it. " No, we will take him with us ! He knows this area much better than we do, and he will be an invaluable source of information for us ! " Bjorgolf replied.
Bjorgolf looked at the puny little man, who now knelt on the ground before him begging for his life. He did not need a translator to tell him what the man was now saying. Bjorgolf had heard many men beg for their lives before in several different languages, and it was always the same. Bjorgolf told Bergfinn to ask the Englishman his name. " The Englishman looked up from his praying and answered : " Edward my lord....... please do not kill me ! " he pleaded. " Have pity on my wife and children ! " he added. Bjorgolf grabbed the man by his shoulders and lifted him off of the ground. " Do not worry my little man we will not kill you. You are too valuable to die yet ! " he told him. Edward looked over at Bergfinn, who translated everything except the "die yet " part . Bjorgolf then threw the Englishman at Bergfinn, who caught him just in time to keep him from falling. " This creature is your responsibility ! Make sure he does not die until I want him dead ! " the chieftain ordered. Bergfinn nodded . " Yes, my lord ! "he shot back.
When Bjorgolf returned to the beach, where his men waited, he was pleased to see that the missing three ships had made their way there to join them. Now with almost six hundred men at his disposal he sat down with Hoskuld and Bjorn, and with Bergfinn translating the Englishman' s words, they began to piece together a plan. Edward, trying to keep his head on his shoulders, told the viking commander, through Bergfinn, that the sea approaches were diligently watched, and if any unknown ships approached the seaport town the church bells would be rung, and the town' s warriors would assemble near the beach. As Hoskuld listened to what the Englishman had to say he gained new respect for his commander and chieftain. Unlike Bjorgolf, he would have killed the Englishman after interrogating him the first time, and then come back to launch a sea attack against the seaport town of Bamburgh. Which of course would have been a colossal mistake !
Bjorgolf and his leaders decided that they would send three of their ships, under Bjorn, and with skeleton crews, to feign an attack from the sea. When the alarm had been raised, and the entire army of Bamburgh had gathered on the beach leaving the town undefended, Bjorgolf would then attack from the opposite direction . As darkness began to descend over the English coast, Bjorgolf led his men, guided by the Englishman Edward, towards the town of Bamburgh, while Bjorn with a few rowers per ship led three of the dragon ships back out to sea. Bjorn would follow the coast north until he came to the seaport town, and then sail slowly towards the beach as though he were an invading force.
The journey was not a difficult one for Bjorgolf and his warriors. The forests were thin, and the hills and valleys were not steep. By the time they reached the small forest at the outskirts of the town the moon had almost completed its journey across the sky. This forest was on a small hill that overlooked the seaport, and it provided both a hiding place, and a platform with which to view what went on in the town below. The Vikings rested here until the sky began to lighten over the ocean. At first Bjorgolf became apprehensive when he did not see the square sails of his dragon ships on the eastern horizon. He wanted to begin his attack at dawn, and discussed with Hoskuld the possibility of attacking the town without the diversion. Both, however, agreed it would be better to wait a little longer. Within moments a warrior who had been searching the ocean from a high tree ran over to Bjorgolf and told him he saw at least two square sails heading straight for the coast. He also explained that they could not see them at first because they were still sailing parallel to the coast. It was not until the ships turned that their silhouette became apparent against the rising morning sun. Bjorgolf and Hoskuld immediately formed their men into battle formations for the attack. Now if only the damn English would spot the ships !
Suddenly a church bell rang out in the town. Over and over again it rang out its alarm, warning the townsfolk of the approaching danger. Bjorgolf and Hoskuld watched with utter fascination as the townsfolk ran out of their houses carrying their weapons, and their shields. Edward hung his head in shame as he saw all of the town' s warriors heading down to the beach. The plan, which he had helped formulate, was working to perfection. Then Bjorgolf saw something that he had not expected. Out of a large square stone building streamed horsemen, and what looked like a small organized army, being led by a man on a white horse, and dressed in royal clothes. Bjorgolf was relieved when he saw that they too were heading down to the beach. Bjorgolf walked over to Edward, and lifted him by the collar. Then he looked angrily at Bergfinn. " Ask him why he did not tell us about these cavalrymen ! " In a moment, Edward, through translation, gave him his answer. " Earl Alfred was supposed to be in Durham until next week. I did not know that he returned early ! " Edward told the viking leader with fear in his eyes. Bjorgolf threw the Englishman to the ground. " It is of little matter ! The town will be completely abandoned in a few moments and we will kill everything that moves, steal everything of value, and burn the rest ! " he told Bergfinn.
Bjorgolf motioned for his men to begin moving forward. He told them to be as quiet as possible until they reached the streets of the town. Bjorgolf wanted to be in control of at least half of the town before the English realized what was actually happening. As Earl Alfred watched the viking ships sail closer and closer he sat on his white mount supremely confident that he could easily destroy this small invading force. Earl Alfred did think it strange, however, that the enemy ships were sailing directly at him. " How did they expect to beach their ships right in front of us and attack us ? " the Earl asked himself under his breath. It was then that they began to hear the screams coming from behind them in the town.
By the time the Englishmen realized their mistake over half of their town had been overrun, and the townsfolk were streaming out of the town towards the beach with great haste. The western edge of the town was already ablaze and the smoke was beginning to rise high into the air marking the advancing enemy army. Earl Alfred had gone from an over abundance of confidence to sheer panic in just a matter of moments ! The Earl had but two options available to him, neither of which were very appealing. First he could attack through the now burning occupied town, and fight the vikings in the streets. The problem with this was that if he was pushed back out of the town he would be trapped with his back up against the ocean, with more of the enemy sailing quickly towards him. The second option was sure to anger the men of the town. He could abandon the town and march parallel along the beach out of Bramburgh and head south to join up with King Edmund's army at Durham. The decision was a hard one to make, but as the townsfolk came running out of the town he learned that almost the entire town was already in the enemy' s hands. Reluctantly Earl Alfred marched his men southward.
That night, in Earl Alfred' s castle, the vikings threw themselves a massive feast in honor of their quick and very profitable victory. As the town burned below them the warriors ate and drank their fill, and had their way with the English women, who had been captured as slaves. Very few had been spared the sword, axe or spear, and those who had survived would surely regret their luck in time. As the warriors drank the night away, Bjorgolf, Hoskuld, and Bjorn, were huddled together in a corner of the castle's main hall. While their men became dead drunk they kept their heads about them and planned their next move.
The leaders of the viking expedition were concerned that the Earl had escaped with his small army. Although Bjorgolf and his men had destroyed the town, and many of its fighters, the Englishmen who escaped were still half as many as his whole force. The chieftain summoned Bergfinn, and the Englishman Edward, to join them. As Bergfinn and Edward stood before the viking leaders it was obvious that they had had a healthy amount of English ale. Bjorgolf asked Bergfinn if he would be able to translate. Bergfinn smiled from ear to ear and replied : " I never belt fetter my lord ! " Edward put his arm on Bergfinn' s shoulder, smiled, and said something that the vikings did not understand. When Bjorgolf looked at Bergfinn for translation, Bergfinn shrugged his shoulders. " I think the Englushmon is drunken ! " Bergfinn said with a laugh. Hoskuld and Bjorgolf looked at each other, and just rolled their eyes.
Hoskuld jumped in and asked the first question. " Where was the Earl taking his army ? " Bergfinn and Edward giggled as they translated back and forth. My lord, and wunderful host, our littler friend Edweird has infirmed me that Orl Alfreed has most likealy travel south to met up wit the main army onder King Edmund of Nortumbraland. " he reported with a small bow and a huge grin. Bjorgolf tried to keep a straight face but could not help but smile. " And where will we find this King Edmund of Northumberland ? " Bjorgolf asked Bergfinn. After more giggling between Bergfinn and Edward, the translator replied : " My lord and mester, Edwoord has teld me that King Edmoond has a castle near a town culled Dur- ham . " Bjorn who was not as amused as the others asked in a serious tone : " Is this town of Durham on the coast ? " Bergfinn sensing that Bjorn was not amused consulted with Edward before answering. " No, ma lord. Dorham is in the land and the king has his custle on a tallllll hill, with the town proterected behind it by stone wulls. " Bjorgolf thanked them both, and told them to pour themselves another ale. As Bergfinn shakily got up to leave, he looked back to see Edward with his head on the table and fast asleep. " Englushmon cannot hold thare ale ! " he said to himself as he stumbled away.
Bjorgolf, Hoskuld, and Bjorn discussed the situation until early in the morning. They decided it would not be wise to march across the English countryside where their every move would be seen by King Edmund's men. Bjorgolf was sure that the English king would have spies out in force to monitor them all the way from Bamburgh to Durham. No ! The viking leaders decided it would be best to sail south, land across from Durham, and then march inland from the east. Sailing southward would also be much quicker, and might allow them to arrive before King Edmund could prepare for the attack that Earl Alfred was sure to tell him was coming. Once the plan was finalized, Bjorgolf quieted his men down, and commanded them to stop drinking. He told his men the sobering fact that tomorrow morning they would march back to their ships and sail south to Durham to attack King Edmund.
The next morning the groggy, half sober vikings trudged down to the beach and launched their ships. The wind, though weak, was with them, but the tides and currents were against them. Bjorgolf lead the way in his sleek dragon ship Sleipnir, but the going was slow, and both Bjorgolf and Hoskuld knew they would not reach the Durham area before night fell. This would mean of course that they would have to waste time, half a day, waiting for the sun to rise, because it was too dangerous to move in an area you didn't know in darkness. This of course was valuable time that the King of Northumberland would use to plan his defense.
End Chapter 2
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
- Next : The Trap