12. The Pitched Battle

     We begin at night with the Vinlander scouting party, in the camp of refugees from the captured Appalachian village on Mount Defiance overlooking both Lake George to the west (where the redaxes came from) and Lake Champlain to the east (where the Vinlander and Mohican force is waiting). Poul decides to get back to his ships before dawn and begin the attack on the redaxes as soon as possible -- before hearing back from the messengers they sent to the surviving Appalachian warriors. If they are able, then they will aid the attack, but Poul feels that he cannot give the redaxes time to fortify their defenses.

     As they are leaving the camp, some can see canoes paddling out over Lake George. However, they leave without investigating. Poul and the others arrive at the

     The most direct approach to the Appalachian stronghold is up through the narrow pass cut by the La Chute river. Poul decides to avoid that pass and instead bring his ships to north of the area and march the troops over the hills and mass on the plain across from the stronghold. A small band of eight Vinlanders (including Thorfinn and Arnor) and eight Mohicans is selected to defend the pass against redaxes trying to get around behind the main force.

     The main force masses on the plain. They can see that the stronghold is undergoing repairs. The redaxes are divided into two forces. The Onondagas are busy repairing the stronghold from the damage wrought by their own seige. Meanwhile, the Mohawks move to defend the plain on the north of the La Chute river. Faced with an opposing army, the two forces soon array themselves out for a long battle.

     The first day of battle is somewhat inconclusive. The Vinlanders try to quickly push at first, but it soon becomes clear that they cannot gain the river very soon. There are relatively few deaths: 3 or 4 among the allies. After a wearying day of battle, the armies form camps on opposite sides of the plain and rest by tacit agreement.

     In the second day of battle, the attackers are joined by about 80 surviving warriors of the Appalachians. They come from the south-west, having to cross the shallow branch of the river. The Mohawks oppose this, while the Vinlanders and Mohicans push to join their forces. A few of the Brygjafaelers see Appalachian warriors mysterious sucked down in the water as they ford across.

     On the third day, the armies begin to fight, but a storm comes up. By afternoon, the rain is coming in torrents and all fighting ceases. In their tents, the Brygjafaelers decide on a plan. At the present course, the redaxes will soon have the stronghold repaired and be able to hold it against their best efforts. However, from the Appalachian war chief Ahanu they believe that under cover of the storm at night, they can sneak into the stronghold and sabotage the food stores. Though it will mean even greater hardship for his people, Ahanu endorses the plan.

     Eight soldiers are selected for this mission: Skallagrim, Kjartan, Poul, and Brom along with Ahanu and three of the best Appalachian warriors. Their plan is to swim across the river and then into the stronghold through the sluice gate. They will be going in the dark in a storm, but all the Appalachians know the terrain of their captured home. An important element of this is that Silksif and Lofthaena will go into the spirit world to distract the horned serpents from noticing them.

     Silksif and Lofthaena come to the shore of the river in the spirit world, and soon they spot three horned serpents which are lurking there. They speak to them, and soon the challenge is formalized into a riddle game. The game continues for a time until Silksif notices that Kjartan has appeared in the water nearby (indicating he is dead or near death in the physical world). To protect him, she distracts the serpent by asking the riddle "What is behind you?" Their curious piqued, it tries to guess but then cannot help but turn around to look. Silksift then runs to drag Kjartan from the water.

     In the physical world, the force of eight had avoided notice of a patrolling canoe and swum in through the sluice gate. However, Kjartan was lost on the swim in. As a command decison, Poul says that they must give him up as dead and go on with the mission. It appears that the curse of the horned serpents bite has caught up with him. Skallagrim secretly wonders if Poul's rivalry with his nephew influenced the decision, but accepts it. They soon move on the the storehouse, where they begin to dump the corn and other supplies into the sluice to be washed out down the river.

     As they are dumping the grain, though, a flash of lightning shows a scene of battle nearby. They can see Kjartan fighting what looks like Hiawatha and six of his guards, while a war club shattered on his cursed arm.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Tue Nov 26 14:53:12 2002