The Little Shield Maiden
Father Against Daughter
As Torberg Dagson slid off of his horse, and hit the ground with a dull thud, Erling' s archers released a second barrage of arrows against his cavalry, causing confusion among their ranks. By the time the horsemen had reached the midway point of the open meadow one quarter of their number had either been injured, killed, or their horses knocked out from under them. They had also slowed their attack to try and make sense of what was happening, which made them even easier targets for Erling' s men.
The foot soldiers who were following as closely behind the cavalry as they could were halted by Harek Kolbeinson, who for the first time in his life as a warrior was not quite sure what to do. If he stayed where he was his men would be cut to pieces, just like the cavalry, by Erling' s archers. If he continued forward he would not have the support of the cavalry when he reached the woods on the other side, and would be at a disadvantage against Freydis' warriors. Harek chose to brave only the arrows, and return to the relative safety of his old position in the woods. From there he could re-group his men, and decide his next move. Harek turned, but took only a few steps before an arrow entered his eye, and pierced through the back of his head. He fell lifeless to the ground in full view of all of his men. Seeing their leader go down his men panicked, and ran for the cover of the woods as fast as they could in full battle gear.
King Eyvind was in a state of shock, and in total disbelief, of what he saw taking place before his eyes ! Erling Arneson had betrayed him ! Margad Arngeirson had betrayed him ! His own damn daughter had betrayed him ! In anger and total frustration King Eyvind drew his sword, and screamed at the top his lungs. He tried to move forward and kill the treacherous bastards who had betrayed him, but his loyal personal guards grabbed the reins of his horse, and led him into the cover of the tree line. He fought with them as they kept pulling him deeper and deeper into the woods, but he knew in his heart that they were right . If he stayed on the battlefield they would all be killed. King Eyvind knew he had to retreat, but he wanted to stay long enough to see how his cavalry fared. What he saw made him hang his head in disgust.
Only about half of the cavalry made it across the field to Freydis' line of warriors. Margad had selected special warriors, who stood in front of the shield wall, and as the horsemen approached took careful aim with spears and axes. Their skills were on full display this day, as the entire front row of horsemen were knocked off of their horses with a variety of injuries, some being killed instantly. They then stepped behind the shield wall again, and waited for the initial impact of the cavalry hitting their lines. The horses knocked over some of the men, but were not able to penetrate the shield wall. The battle then turned into a melee ! Whipped into a frenzy by what they had seen, Freydis' and Margad's warriors fought like berserkers, hacking at both men and horses. The cavalrymen were by now badly outnumbered, and never had a chance against the foot soldiers. The few who survived, and tried to run back to their lines were cut down by the warriors who were now streaming out of the woods, and heading across the open field towards King Eyvind's line. Those who tried to surrender were killed without mercy ! Above the din of battle Freydis screamed : " They chose their allegiances, now we choose to kill them all ! "
King Eyvind thought for a moment about sending what was left of his army against Erling' s archers, but Freydis' warriors were already too close to his position. He had no choice now but to try to retreat back to his loyal people in Agder, and there build a new army to defeat the army of his daughter. In his mind he was sure that Freydis and Margad would not cross the border of Vestfold, and enter his kingdom of Agder. " Yes, there I will be safe ! " he kept telling himself over and over again.
For days King Eyvind had to push his men to the limit of their endurance to keep ahead of Freydis' army, which was very determined to destroy what was left of his forces. Freydis and Margad were right on his heels as they pushed King Eyvind back through village after village. As promised many of the villagers came out to harass Eyvind' s army. They were not much more than a nuisance, but they slowed the king down, and did not let him get away. Some of the younger villagers asked, and were allowed, to join Freydis' warriors as they pushed south towards, first the Vestfold border, and then the border with Agder itself. King Eyvind had underestimated his daughters hatred for him, and her resolve to kill him. When he reached the Agder border he left behind one hundred of his best warriors to try and slow down her army, and give him at least a chance to get away from her. Fueled by victory after victory her warriors cut through this rear guard like scythe through wheat. Battle after battle, and village after village, she pushed him until his back was against the sea !
End Chapter 9
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 10 : Trapped !