Thorgest : The Life And Death Of A Viking Raider
Greed, Sex, And Deceit !
One of the first commands King Thorgest gave upon his return was to order Egil to return, with half of his garrison from Lough Ribh, to bolster his now meager army. To the king's surprise Egil protested vehemently sending the messenger back to Dyvlinarskire to inform Thorgest that this was not wise and would leave the ring fort vulnerable to attack by the local people. He also warned the king that this would surely embolden Lord Melaghlin to revolt. The messenger returned to Lough Ribh two weeks later with a much more adamant demand from the king that he return at once. This time Egil felt he had no choice but to comply.
King Thorgest, against the wishes of Queen Auðr, then changed his strategy from one of offensive raiding, and land acquisitions, to a defensive posture in a desperate attempt to save what he had already conquered. And the king had good reason to be concerned. The were many angry Irish folk who wished to take back what he had fairly won, and more and more Vikings were sailing to Ireland to gain a foothold on the Emerald Isle. The king began to build ring forts on, or in, every Lough and river approach to Dyvlinarskire. To supplement his small army he paid Irish mercenaries gold to help man these forts, though they were of course still under the command of a Norse leader. One of these forts, built on an island in the Lough Lene, soon became known as Turgesius Island, after King Thorgest.
At first Thorgest was involved in each and every detail of the construction of these forts. Soon, however, the king fell into a drunken state of debauchery, and left many of the finer details to Egil. Thorgest slowly sank deeper and deeper into depression and despair, as his mind drifted further and further from reality. His paranoia grew in leaps and bounds as he threatened everyone and anyone who he perceived as a threat. Charges were often brought up against Irishmen, and Norsemen alike, for minor offenses which often led to the execution of these individuals.
One night, while in a drunken stupor, the king, after a fierce argument with Auðr, threatened his wife by placing the point of his sword up against her throat, while asking those in the hall if he should kill, " This bitch of a wife of mine ". Thankfully Egil had returned that very day to apprise the king of the progress being made on various forts in the region, and was able to force the king to relinquish his sword. Furious over such a show of insubordination the king ordered his commander arrested, but later in a moment of sobriety rescinded the order.
This extremely awkward and embarrassing moment led Queen Auðr to leave her husband. The next day, while her husband slept off the affects of the copious amount of alcohol he had consumed the night before, she left Dyvlinarskire with her loyal guards, and traveled to seek asylum in Westmeath. When Melaghlin, the Lord of Westmeath, refused to grant her an audience, however, Auðr continued on to Cluain Mhic Nois where she took over the cathedral, and set herself up as a seer and a priestess. Ceteadach, the Abbot of Cluain Mhic Nois, immediately sent an envoy to the King of Dyvlinarskire to protest how his wife was defiling the altar at the monastery by dancing around it naked and performing lewd acts upon it.
Egil, unlike the queen, did not run away. Instead the commander of the army began to look for a new master to serve. Three powerful brothers had recently come to Ireland from Denmark to carve out kingdoms of their own. One of them, known as Olaf the White, or Amlaib by the Irish, was particularly interested in ruling over Dyvlinarskire. Secretly Egil sent one of his most loyal men to speak to this newcomer who wished to become Konanger of King Thorgest's domain.
The king seemed to be oblivious to everything that was going on around him. He ate and drank continuously, and bedded a different woman each night of the week. He cared not if they were Irish or Norse, nor did he care what age they were as long as they could fill the void that not being able to raid any longer had left in his soul. The king surrounded himself with advisers who were incompetent and simply agreed with everything he said no matter how ridiculous or outlandish his ideas were. Some wanted to get in the good graces of the king, but most simply did not want to be the dissenting voice because it could lead to a quick trial and an even faster death.
King Thorgest's friends, if they could be called as such, were men of little or no moral fiber. They constantly incited the king to have the Irish folk executed for the slightest of offenses, and in ever increasingly violent ways so that they could all watch the spectacle. These confidants, who had no shame at all, would then bring the wives of the victims to Thorgest for his pleasure. It soon became a deadly curse for the Irish in Dyvlinarskire to have a beautiful wife, for it meant a death sentence for their husbands.
Before long nothing and no one in his kingdom could satisfy the king's perverted desires, which added greatly to his depression. Then, when he heard that one of the most beautiful women in his kingdom was the daughter of his ally Lord Melaghlin he became excited and ordered Egil, and a small division of his army, to accompany him to meet with the Lord of Westmeath. Before he left for Westmeath Thorgest sent ahead a messenger to alert Melaghlin of his arrival so the Irish lord could properly welcome the King of Dyvlinarskire.
In his demented mind King Thorgest had already decided that he would first stop at Cluain Mhic Nois, where he planned to burn down the monastery and kill his wife. He would then ride to Lord Melaghlin's hall, bed his daughter, and force her to come back to Dyvlinarskire as his new queen. Of course none of these sordid details were shared with his commander Egil before they left.
When the Lord of Westmeath received word that King Thorgest would soon be arriving he began to immediately plan the king's demise. He had already been apprised of the great defeat the Vikings had suffered on the Plain of Moynith, at the hands of the High King of Ireland, and he was fully aware of how weak and vulnerable the King of Dyvlinarskire had actually become. Yes, he would welcome the king with open arms, but in one of his hands he would hold a dagger at his heart. To anger Thorgest , and to let the king know that he was no longer completely under his thumb, the Lord of Westmeath also decided to change his mind about Auðr's request for asylum, and invited her to come to his castle immediately.
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : For The Good Of All
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.