13. The Lightning Raid

     As we begin, eight soldiers are in the heart of the Onondaga's stronghold: Skallagrim, Kjartan, Poul, Brom along with Ahanu and three of the best Appalachian warriors. Kjartan had been lost on the swim in through the sluice. As they were dumping the grain, a flash of lightning showed Kjartan fighting what looked like Hiawatha and six of his guards, while a war club shattered on his cursed arm.

     Skallagrim and Brom rushed into the fight with Hiawatha and his guards. It was pitch dark and raining so they weren't sure who they were hacking at, but that didn't stop them. Poul, Ahanu, and the other warriors kept shovelling grain into the river. They soon finished up, but then had trouble finding their way to the fight. As they listened for the sounds of battle, they heard horrible screams of agony and cursing in Norse nearby. They rushed to it and found some prisoners being tortured amidst a small crowd of spectators. The next in line to be tied to the stake were Thorfinn and Thorfinn (who had just managed to work his hands loose). Ahanu's warriors started on the unarmed crowd from behind, while Poul rushed to the center to free Thorfinn and Arnor.

     Meanwhile Skallagrim and Brom were fighting like madmen in the circle of masks before the chief's house. The possessed Kjartan was fighting more cold-bloodedly, aided by the fact that he could see people's hearts and eyes glowing in the darkness. With a sort of bestial cunning, he realized that inside the house he could see a boy, who he figured would be Poul's son. He rushed inside and grabbed the boy.

     The battle with Hiawatha grew feverish. With the difficulty in seeing, Brom dropped his sword and lifted a wounded guard over his head whom he hurled at the remainder. At that point, Skallagrim found himself face-to-face with Hiawatha. Hiawatha struck and disabled his sword arm, but he fought on bravely. They then heard a child's scream, at which Hiawatha turned and ran to protect his adopted sun. Brom intervened and engaged Hiawatha.

     Just as Poul, Thorfinn, and company joined the general fray, another flash of lightning showed Kjartan in front of Hiawatha's hut holding a blond-haired boy (Maushop Poulsson) with his cursed arm -- strangely high in the air -- sword poised for the kill and laughing like a maniac. Thorfinn tried to chop his arm off and nearly did, stunning Kjartan for a second. Poul screamed "You're no kin of mine Kjartan" and got in a horrible blow on the cursed arm but his axe head shattered. Kjartan dropped the boy and collapsed. Thorfinn took the boy and ran off with Ahanu the Appalachian leader, while Skallagrim and Brom attempted to deal with Hiawatha.

     Poul then seized Kjartan's unconcious form and began to choke him with his axe handle. Luckily the voice of Silksif in his head, explaining about the curse, made him pause for a moment. Kjartan came awake, himself once more. Poul demanded one reason why he should let Kjartan live. Kjartan responded that the curse would pass to Poul if Poul were to kill him.

     Poul and Kjartan eventually managed to join the others at the sluice. They began the swim outside, some with wounds. Eventually they met upon the far shore, whereupon they found that Ahanu and his warriors were carrying Thorfinn's drowned body. They tried to pump or beat him to consciousness, but with no luck. Meanwhile, Thorfinn found himself in the spirit world by Silksif and Lofthaena, who were then joined by a grey-eyed woman in armor.

     The valkyrie said to Thorfinn, "Take comfort. Though you died by water as you were fated to do, it was part of a heroic raid and still counts as dying in battle." Thorfinn replied, "No! I can't die! I have too much to do on Earth." The valkyrie scoffed "Oh, I've never heard THAT one before. It was fated to pass that Thorfinn should die by water, that was your death curse."

     Thorfinn then piped up, "But I'm not Thorfinn!" At this, the valkyrie pauses to consider and said, "Well, technically that is true, though you had taken his name."

     Back in the real world, Thorfinn wakes up as in the process of trying to revive him, "his" shirt was torn open -- revealing that Thorfinn is actually a woman. Pandemonium then ensues. Thorgerd briefly explains that she took on the identity of her brother Thorfinn to avenge their parents' deaths. She then collapses in exhaustion. The company wearily make their way back to camp and do likewise. The boy Maushop is still terrified and refuses to speak a word. In early morning, though, he makes his first escape attempt.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Tue Nov 26 14:51:28 2002