14. The Battle for the Fort

     The next morning, the forces slowly begin the battle anew. The leaders meet to discuss their strategy. As they gather, they see that the Onondaga are pouring out of the fort and assembling for battle. After extended discussion, Rowtag walks out on the meeting, leaving a lieutenant in his place. The remaining leaders resolve to try hard to push the Redaxes to the river.

     Secretly, Rowtag collects a fore which will go on a flanking maneuver, swim the river, and capture the now loosely-guarded fort. He is joined by Kjartan and Thorgerd, who had also left the meeting.

     Meanwhile, Silksif and Lofthaena travel into the spirit world in search of the Redaxe shaman who directed the horned serpents. They first encounter a Mohawk shaman who is tending to the dead of his tribe. They have a face-off with him. They talk with him briefly as their spirits gather for conflict. He seems to reflect that his tribe is weary of fighting, and seems amenable to an offer that they might make a separate peace with the Mohawks. Silksif promises to convey the offer to her leaders. They continue to wander and find what they think is the Onondaga shaman on the other side of the river, conducting a summoning ritual of horned serpents.

     The Onondaga shaman then faces off with them. Silksif talks to him skillfully, convincing him that the destruction of the grain last night was the traitorous work of Mohawks. She pretends that she would prefer a more ceremonial war between honorable warriors. However, as she discusses, a horned serpent approaches her -- recognizing her and Lofthaena as his opponents from the riddle game last night. He demands the completion of the riddle game. Lofthaena then asks him:

Two legs sat upon three legs with one leg in his lap. In comes four legs, grabs one leg, and runs off with him. Up jumps two legs, grabs up three legs, throws it after four legs, and makes him bring back one leg.
The leg clues stumps the serpent. He suggests that the important information which is the stake will be information which he does not tell to the Onondaga shaman.

     By nightfall, the fortress has been captured by Rowtag and his force although Rowtag is severely wounded. There are 10 wounded Onondagas in the village, along with two boys: a 14-year old and a 12-year old with blonde hair (!). Poorly coordinated fighting among the Onondaga and the Mohawk have resulted in their being forced to retreat across the river with enormous casualties. As night falls, the Vinlanders and Mohicans hold the north of the river but have no immediate means to cross the river and aid the force in the fortress.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Fri Aug 9 11:21:10 2002