Thorgest : The Life And Death Of A Viking Raider
The Plundering Of Inchcleraun
The king sent half of his men back to Dyvlinarskire, under the command of Albrikt, to protect his interests there, while he took the remaining warriors up to Lough Ribh to begin building his ring fort, and to loot the monastery further north. Upon arrival Thorgest immediately set five hundred men to the task of constructing the defenses, while Egil led him, and the other four hundred warriors, up north along the Lough Ribh to the spot where Diarmait was killed.
When they reached the location, where the Irishman had lost his life, King Thorgest instantly saw a problem that Albrikt and Egil had not touched upon.
" We will need boats to get out to the island. Did Albrikt think that we could swim all the way there laden down with coats of mail, shields and weapons ? " he asked Egil.
Egil was not intimidated by the king's remarks and smiled broadly at his Lord.
" We need only to build a dozen or so rafts, King Thorgest. I do not believe that it would take more than a hundred warriors to plunder this monastery. " he explained to the king.
Thorgest looked at Egil with a sarcastic smirk upon his face.
" And how do we bring all of that heavy gold and silver back to this shore ? On flimsy rafts ? ! " he asked impatiently.
Egil's smile disappeared as he sensed his king's growing anger.
" No, my king ! There are a number of boats on the island that we could use to transport the treasure back to shore in. All we need worry about is getting to the island. " he responded.
King Thorgest stroked his beard thoughtfully as his mind quickly went into planning the raid.
" Yes,....,yes ! We could lie down on the rafts and paddle our way out to the monastery on a foggy morning. We would be below the mist line and therefore would not be seen by the monks on the island ! " he said as much to himself as to Egil.
The king quickly glared back at Egil.
" Are you certain that there are enough boats at Inchcleraun ? " he asked.
" Albrikt and I swam halfway out to the island. I assure you, my king, that they are there. " he informed the king without any doubt.
Thorgest patted Egil on the shoulder.
" Then let us begin building rafts ! " he told his warrior with a wicked grin.
The king was careful to choose a spot to begin construction of the rafts that was far enough away not to be heard by those out at the monastery, but not too far for them to carry the lumbering wooden craft to the water's edge. Trees were quickly felled by Thorgest's warriors, stripped of their branches, and tied together with strong rope. Thin pieces of wood made from the removed branches, were then turned into paddles, before the finished rafts were carried down to the bank of the Lough Ribh. The entire process took the Vikings less than a week. Unfortunately the Norsemen would have to wait an entire week for there to be a time when there was enough fog to conceal their rafts.
King Thorgest had planned for the raid to be carried out in the early morning, but on a dark cold cloudy night, during that second week, a thick fog developed over the water and the king changed his plans and immediately ordered the rafts to be launched. Everything they did on the way over to the island was done in such a fashion that they made almost no noise. The paddlers were ordered to take slow strokes, which would not cause them to splash in the water as they crossed, and talking, even in a whisper, was strictly forbidden.
The king ordered everyone to stay pressed down against the raft, even going so far as to threaten the one who rose up and gave them away with execution. Halfway across the Lough, however, he himself could not see through the fog, which had now risen to the height of a man's chest, and he disobeyed his own orders and was forced to peek above the mist to see where they were going, and to make course corrections from time to time.
Thorgest's men gently beached their flimsy craft up against the island's shore, and then carefully, and quietly, lifted their rafts to higher ground. Once everyone was ashore the king formed up his warriors and they slowly made their way up to the largest structure on the island. Along the way king Thorgest was surprised, and delighted, that no guards were posted to give their presence away. The Norsemen made it almost all the way to the doors of the church before they were spotted by a monk carrying a lantern who sounded the alarm.
" Kill them ! Kill them All !! " the king cried out as he drew his sword.
As they went from room to room, and building to building, a few monks tried to fight back, but it was a futile effort indeed to do battle against a vicious and determined enemy. Only two of the inhabitants were spared, a monk and the Abbot of Inchcleraun. Both were tortured until they told King Thorgest where all of the gold and other valuables were hidden. When Thorgest felt he had found all of the monastery's treasures he slit their throats as well, and threw their bodies into the Lough Ribh.
The boats at Inchcleraun were barely adequate to transport all of the plunder back to the shore. If the Lough had waves that were equal to those on the open ocean many of the boats would surely have foundered and sank. For Egil's sake all of the boats that he had sworn could transport the treasure safely made it across without incident.
That morning the gold was transferred onto horses, carts, and the few wagons that they had brought with them from Dyvlinarskire. The next day they arrived back at the ring fort to the cheers of the workers who were hard at work constructing the defenses. When the king told the warriors how much they had looted from the monastery the warriors dropped their tools and were jubilant. Some danced around, others patted backs and shook hands, while still others drank their fill before returning to their task of building the fortress. That night the king held a huge feast to celebrate their good fortune on the shore of the Lough Ribh, and everyone drank until the early morning.
King Thorgest groggily awoke around noon and prepared to leave with most of his warriors. To honor the great contributions that Egil had made in finding, both the location to build the fort and the monastery at Inchcleraun, the king promoted his warrior to commander, and placed him in charge of the new ring fort. The king left one hundred men behind with Egil to finish the ring fort and to help protect their interests in the region.
As Egil proudly waved goodbye to King Thorgest, he had no idea if he would ever see the king, or Albrikt again.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : No Rest For The Weary
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.