Thorgest : The Life And Death Of A Viking Raider
The Lord Of Westmeath
Auðr, who did not like the, " dirty little Irishman ", was especially incensed when Diarmait practically begged her husband not to let the Vikings march across the Hill of Uisneach, which he claimed was an ancient sacred site used by the Druids. She was further infuriated when her husband acquiesced to his request and marched his army around the hill, and through a bog.
As they closed in on the monastery at Cluain Mhic Nois the king became quite curious about the religious site. The night before they were about to arrive at the River Shannon Thorgest sent his skald Rauðskeggr to bed early so he could find out more about the rich monastery from his Irish guide.
" Why do they call it Cluain Mhic Nois ? " the king asked before taking a huge drink of ale from his horn.
Diarmait hesitated, taking a long sip of his own ale before answering the question.
" In our tongue it means, " the meadow of the sons of Nos. "
The king shrugged his shoulders as he frowned.
" And what is so special about this Christian holy site ? " he asked with a hint of sarcasm.
The reluctant guide did not like the tone of the king, but having no real choice in the matter he answered the question.
" I have only been there once, as a boy, but it is said to be a great place of learning, where the monks teach about the bible, and reading and writing. " he explained.
King Thorgest laughed heartily.
" Yes ! I have heard that they can make symbols that they can then read, but from what I have heard these monks cannot defend themselves at all ! " he replied with an uncontrollable snort.
" It is true that these men of God do not know the art of warfare as you Norsemen do, but there are more things in this world, and the next, than killing, raping, and pillaging. " he quickly shot back with an indignant look upon his face.
King Thorgest set his empty horn on a tree stump, that he was using as a table, and waggled his finger back and forth at the Irishman.
" We Norsemen take what we want,...., and we want everything ! Only through glorious victory in battle can we possibly hope to reach the great golden hall of Odin's, called Valhalla, to feast with the All-Father ! " he shouted back at the impudent little man.
Diarmait swallowed hard before responding.
" I apologize, King Thorgest. I did not mean to imply that our people are any better than yours. For you see, my lord, the monastery has been attacked several times by my people as well. " he informed the king in an embarrassed tone.
King Thorgest chuckled.
" Then why don't the monks fortify it and defend their holy site ? " he asked.
Diarmait took a deep breath.
" Because they do not have to. The monastery is now under the protection of the King of Meath. He in turn has given the honor of its protection to the Lord of Westmeath, Melaghlin. " he told the King of Dyvlinarskire.
Thorgest jumped up and angrily threw his horn into the fire !
" And why did you not tell me of this until now !? " he demanded to know.
Diarmait shook his head slowly and was unable to contain a small smirk that slowly rose up on his face.
" Melaghlin would just as soon stab a friend in the back, and help the enemy, then do anything honorable. If he dares to march against you at all it should not be much of a problem for your powerful army, my lord. " he explained to the king.
King Thorgest had calmed down a little as he shook his fist at the guide.
" It had better not be a problem ! Remember, my Irish friend, your wife and child's lives depend on the success of this raid. " he told Diarmait before turning and heading for his tent.
Diarmait hung his head low.
" I know Norseman,...., believe me I know ! " he whispered to himself.
The next morning the army arose at daybreak and formed up for battle. Albrikt led the right wing of the army out of camp, while Raðbarðr headed the right. King Thorgest, of course, rode at the center of the Viking army, with Diarmait riding close at his side. Auðr wanted to come with her husband, but the king put his foot down and refused to hear of such nonsense.
" When you can hold a shield, and wield a sword, then, and only then, can you march into battle with my army ! " he had told her angrily.
It did not take long for the army to follow what the locals called the pilgrim road to a position in a meadow where they could launch their attack. From here, at the bottom of a small hill, they could only see some sections of the monastery. For blocking the view of the churches, and other structures, was a small army that looked ready for battle.
Thorgest held onto the reins of his horse tightly with one hand while he reached out with the other to grab Diarmait by the throat.
" Did you warn your people that we were coming ! ? " the king asked angrily.
Diarmait defiantly swatted the king's hand away.
" You have attacked every village along the way, killed every kinsmen of mine you came across, and now you wonder why an army stands before you ready to oppose you ?! " he asked angrily.
Diarmait then added sarcastically.
" Your army makes so much noise that Melaghlin probably heard your army coming from miles away ! "
King Thorgest glared at his guide before reining his horse around and giving the signal for Albrikt and Raðbarðr to prepare the attack. Before his commanders could arrange their warriors into battle formation, however, a rider came down from the small hill where the monastery stood. With his sword drawn Albrikt rode out and met the enemy halfway to their position, and after speaking to him for a moment, escorted him back to King Thorgest.
As the Irishman approached he performed a sweeping bow to the king of the Vikings from his saddle.
" You are the king of this army ? " the rider asked.
Thorgest looked at the man with utter contempt as he responded.
" I am King Thorgest of Dyvlinarskire ! " he told the messenger.
The rider bowed again.
I am called Rory, King Thorgest. My lord, Melaghlin of Westmeath, requests a meeting with you to try and prevent bloodshed here this day. " he informed the king.
" And why should I speak to this Melaghlin ?! " he asked harshly.
Rory bowed again.
" Because, my lord, if you choose battle your warriors will die, and our warriors will die. And for what ? If you do not loot the monastery someone else surely will. My lord is more than willing to allow you to plunder the monks gold and silver to avoid a battle, and he is also willing to serve you as his king,...., provided you do not kill the monks. " the messenger explained.
King Thorgest could not believe his ears. Not only was Lord Melaghlin willing to open up the monastery's coffers to him, but it seemed he was more than happy to subjugate himself, and his army, to his rule. The king could not help but grin as he replied.
" Tell your, " lord ", that I will meet with him at the midpoint between our two armies. " he told the messenger.
Rory bowed and immediately reined his horse around and rode back to his own lines where he stopped next to a large man who sat stoically upon a white horse. Moments later, the one called Rory, and the man on the white horse, trotted out to the center of the meadow between the two armies.
Albrikt looked over at King Thorgest, raised his eyebrows in stunned surprise, and asked.
" Are you really going to speak to this Lord of Westmeath ? "
King Thorgest nodded.
" Yes ! I believe that I will hear what this man has to say. " he replied.
The scene must have appeared to be quite surreal to those on both sides as they watched the four men talking in the middle of the meadow. For none of them had the slightest idea what was going to happen next. And their very lives could depend on what these four men decided !
Lord Melaghlin bowed slightly to the king before addressing him.
" Greetings and felicitations King Thorgest ! I am Lord Melaghlin of Westmeath, and I would like to welcome you, and your army, to Cluain Mhic Nois ! " he told the king almost merrily.
King Thorgest had no time for such nonsense and immediately got right down to the point of their meeting.
" Why would an Irish lord wish to serve a Norse king ? " he asked suspiciously.
Melaghlin grinned broadly.
" What difference does it make if I serve you, or Naille Caille, the High King of Ireland ? Besides you will need someone familiar with these lands to help you maintain and protect them,...., will you not ? " he asked slyly.
King Thorgest grinned as he remembered how Diarmait had described the Lord of Westmeath.
" This man is as deceitful as Loki ! ", Thorgest thought to himself. " I could use and ally like him ! "
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : The Catholic Monastery
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.