King Of Destiny
Magnus refused the notion of a large coronation ceremony and feast. In front of his commanders, and his new More subjects, he took the oath to rule and protect the people of all the Northlands . As soon as the brief ceremony was over King Magnus ordered his men to move south against King Olaf of Sogn. Herjan watched proudly as King Magnus, once the child he had watched over, rode at the head of the great Northland army. He had become everything that Herjan hoped his student would become, and everything the Volva had said he could be. Although still very young, he was fearless in battle, and yet had the compassion, and wisdom, to understand that after the battle was over retribution was not a productive way to move forward. Yes, Herjan was very proud of young King Magnus.
As the Northland army reached the Sogn border Jarl Thorkel rode up with a very special prisoner. Literally tied to his horse was King Eirik Roriksson of Hordaland. The jarl laughed as he addressed King Magnus : " May I present you with King Eirik of Hordaland my lord ? " King Magnus did not say a word as he walked over to King Eirik. As Magnus pulled out his dirk knife Eirik gasped in horror as he lay helpless across the back of his horse. Eirik turned his face away when Magnus raised his knife, and waited for the inevitable blow that was sure to come. Suddenly, Eirik felt himself sliding off of the horse ! As he was about to fall to the ground Eirik felt strong arms grab hold of him. " Jord Thorkel ! " Magnus bellowed. " Yes my Lord ! " the jarl immediately replied. " King Eirik is not only our prisoner, but also our guest ! He will be treated accordingly ! " the young king stated as fact. " Yes, my lord ! " Thorkel replied with a slight hesitation. As the Northland king cut the remaining ropes that bound the King of Hordaland, Magnus asked : " When was the last time you had something to eat Eirik of Hordaland ? " Surprised by the question, Eirik answered : " It has been several days since my last meal . " King Magnus looked for, and then spotted Onund sitting under a small tree : " See that this man is fed at once ! " he shouted to his father's personal guard.
The next day the Northland army camped a short distance from the Sogn army. King Olaf had had more time to develop his defenses than did King Harald. The Sogn army had built earthen forts with ditches in their front on three sides. The fourth side was protected by wet marshlands that were all but impossible to penetrate. King Magnus, Jarl Thorkel, Onund and Herjan, rode forward to inspect the defenses at dusk. King Magnus did not like the looks of the ditches around the earthen forts. Using water from the marshes they filled the ditches to the top, and more than likely had placed sharpen stakes in the ditches as well. Magnus was sure that he would lose hundreds of his warriors in a direct assault against the fort, and asked for the opinions and options from those who he rode with.
Herjan was the first to speak up. " Why not attack through the marshlands ? " he asked. Jord Thorkel looked at the old warrior as though he were crazy. " The marshes are too shallow for even the smallest long boat, and yet it is too deep for men to move through effectively. " Thorkel replied. " How do you propose to make it through those muddy marshlands, and attack without giving away the element of surprise." Thorkel asked as Magnus and Onund listened intently to the back and forth discussion. Herjan answered Thorkel with questions of his own : " What if I showed you how to make a flat bottomed boat that needed only a small amount of water to float, and navigate in ? And what if we launch the attack at night when the Sogn king will least expect it ? " Before Jarl Thorkel could answer, King Magnus spoke : " Herjan you will show the Jarl how to construct these flat boats. And then Jarl Thorkel, you will take your army, and cross the marshes at night, get into position, and attack in conjunction with our attack at first light ! " he commanded. The jarl was puzzled that the king had so readily agreed with the old warrior's plan. Out of respect for the young king, however, he simply answered : " Yes, my lord. "
The " Flat Boats " as they were called, were built far enough away that King Olaf, and his army, could not see what the Northlanders were up to . It took several days for enough of these crude " Flat Boats " to be constructed. When they felt that they had enough to transport the combined forces of Namdalen and Halogaland , these strange boats were silently moved to the edge of the marsh once the sun had set. As the stars shone over the moonless night Jarl Thorkel's men loaded themselves on their barely stable little ships, and began to paddle their way over the shallow marsh towards the unprotected side of the earthen fort. Herjan had told Thorkel to have his men lay down on the flat boats as they crossed the marshes so that they would not be seen, which they reluctantly did . As boat after boat slowly reached the other side of the marsh the warriors crawled out. and waited on firm ground for the entire Namdalen / Halogaland army to arrive. When the last vessel had ferried across the remaining warriors, Jarl Thorkel moved his army, on their bellies, from the banks of the marsh up onto a small hill that overlooked the fort. What Thorkel saw was better than he could ever have hoped for ! There were no ditches, and no sharpened stake walls around this side of the fort. The Sogn army had placed all their confidence in the marsh to protect them. King Olaf of Sogn was about to find out that he had badly misjudged the ingenuity of his enemy.
King Magnus had his men well prepared, and ready for the attack. On another suggestion by Herjan, the king had constructed wooden beams that were to be lowered over the water - filled ditches when they reached them, thereby avoiding having to find out what lurked below the surface of these death pits. As soon as he heard Jord Thorkel' s warriors attack, the king' s plan was to move his whole army forward against the fort. While Jarl Thorkel, and his army, kept King Olaf and his Christian warriors occupied, he would slowly and silently as possible move his men through the defenses at the front of the fort. If Thorkel could buy him enough time, he could break through the fortifications of the fort before the sun rose above the horizon, and the Christians realized what was going on.
Just as the sky began to turn a shade lighter Jarl Thorkel led the attack against the Sogn army. The few guards who patrolled the outer perimeter of the fort were quickly killed as they move forward. Next they attacked the longhouses that housed the warriors in the center of the fort. Most of the Sogn army was caught by complete surprise, with many of the warriors running out the longhouses with their swords drawn, but with no boots upon their feet . The Christians put up a spirited fight, but they were too disorganized to put up a strong defense. Jarl Thorkel had been given strict orders to accept the surrender of any warrior who gave up the fight. At first only a few dropped their swords, but as the battle continued to intensify it became more and more obvious that the Sogn army had little chance of fending off the Northland army, and many laid down their weapons.
The wooden beams worked better than anticipated and the Northland warriors were over the ditches without any delay. King Magnus was surprised at how little resistance he met at the fort's earthen walls. Most of the Sogn warriors had left their posts, and joined the battle that was raging in the middle of the fort, leaving the wall almost undefended. Once King Magnus breached the front wall, and his warriors poured into the fort, the odds turned greatly in favor of the Northland army. By mid- morning only one pocket of resistance remained. Around the largest longhouse, in the center of the compound, King Olaf and his elite guard were putting up a strong fight against Jarl Thorkel's men. As the battle began to close in around the Sogn king, Magnus, followed closely by Herjan, arrived with his men. At first Onund tried to stop King Magnus from joining the fierce fight by grabbing his arm, but Magnus pushed his guard away, and ran straight into the battle. Onund quickly followed after him with the rest of the king's guards. Magnus, with Herjan by his side, quickly cut a path of death right up to where King Olaf was fighting. The two kings stood staring at each other for a moment in silence. " Will you surrender King Olaf ? " Magnus asked. " I would never have surrendered to your father, boy ! Why do you think I will surrender to you ? ! " he yelled back at the young king. King Olaf stepped forward, and jabbed his sword at King Magnus. The Northland king blocked his first attempt with his sword, and then hit Olaf with the pointed tip of his shield knocking the older man back several steps. King Olaf was enraged by this insult to his fighting skills ! He began slashing back and forth with his sword at his young opponent. Magnus blocked every blow alternately with his sword, and then his shield. Then in a moment of utter frustration King Olaf dropped his shield, and with both hands began to swing his sword at King Magnus with all his might. Magnus blocked the blows easily with his shield, and then when he saw an opening he knocked the sword out of the Christian king's hands by striking the blade hard right above the hilt. Instead of stabbing the now defenseless Sogn king, Magnus dropped his sword and shield, and began to pummel Olaf with his bare hands, staggering the king backwards. King Olaf threw a few weak punches back at Magnus, which angered the young king further. Magnus punched the weakened king a few more times, and then grabbed him by the neck. Magnus showed his immense strength as he lifted Olaf off of the ground as he strangled him. Suddenly there was a sickening cracking sound, that made even the old warrior Herjan wince, and then King Olaf twitched a few times before becoming still. Then Magnus threw his lifeless opponent on the ground as though a child were throwing away a straw doll. The battle was over ! Sogn was now a part of the Northland Kingdom !
- End Chapter 9
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.