39. Skallagrim Disciplines His Troops

         At the end of the last session, Poul had been disemboweled by his nephew Bjarni during his berserk rage. In returning to Raudarbank, it is agreed that Bjarni, Silksif, Vagnhild, and Honiahaka will go more slowly with the wounded Poul. They make a stretcher to carry him, but take the land route rather than taking a canoe down the Delaware which would be smoother but considerably longer. Skallagrim and the others go more quickly so as to be on time for meeting the Commonwealth troops who will be gathering at Raudarbank.

         Bjarni feels terrible about having wounded his uncle, but Poul assures him that it was not his fault. Poul gives Oath-Binder to Bjarni for keeping as a sign of his faith. Melnir parts with Silksif, who stays behind to tend to Poul's wound. Privately to her, he says that she was right about Poul's berserk fury -- though he considers it not supernatural. He says that while he believes her on some level, he cannot simply forgive and forget the attack.

         Skallagrim, Melnir, Kjartan, Matunaaga, and Thorgerd arrive back at Raudarbank about a week later -- the day before Skallagrim's men are to assemble. The next day, though, only about half of the men are there. Most of the missing ones are from Hring's men, though a few arrived including Lief the Unlucky (one of the handful of them friendly to Skallagrim). Melnir sends out a boat to see if they are on their way. However, the next morning they hear the news that most of Hring's men are disorganized and rowdy.[1] The news from Manhattan is that they stopped for a night at the market-town by Thingvellir, and never re-assembled.

         Skallagrim at first wants to leave without them, but he consults with Melnir. Melnir says he doesn't want an angry group of soldiers coming to his home while he is gone. They agree to delay by putting the men through training exercises for a few days. Over three days, the rest of the men trickle in. In organizing the force, Skallagrim assigns his brother Eldgrim and Melnir as his two captains, with two or three lieutenants each under them. Thorgerd, Kjartan, Bjarni, and the others are not formally a part of the force -- and are roughly considered advisors (or Aides-de-Camp) in the military model.

         In dealing with Hring's men, Skallagrim finds that the de facto leader among them is a huge and unpleasant man named Sigurd the Bristly. He designates him as a lieutenant under Eldgrim. After a third day of training, they then head out. The force marches on foot. There are about twenty horses, with half being ridden by the officers and aides, and the other half carrying supplies.

         A week out, they reach the Lenape village where they pick up their guide Wematin and two others. They ask about news there, but the locals have had no news of Redaxes this summer. They say that this is not unusual, and that they will only hear about movements perhaps every other or every third year.

         A week and a half later, they are near the Susquehannock. Skallagrim has been sending scouts lead by Matunaaga. They report seeing some native hunting parties, but they were too distant to attack.

         After stopping to camp one day, Skallagrim overhears Sigurd the Bristly speaking ill of him.[2] In particular, Sigurd calls him a coward for attacking the young Agnar (Hring's son) from surprise. Skallagrim then publically stalks forward and challenges Sigurd, saying that he would prove Sigurd wrong. Sigurd immediately accepts.[3] Further, he declares that the duel should be to the death, which matches Skallagrim's fatalistic mood.[4]

         They are soon surrounded by men, and duly block out an area and take up their arms. After an exchange of several blows, Skallagrim wounds Sigurd in the right arm making him drop his sword. Sigurd is stunned but survives. He then shield rushes Skallagrim, who dodges and trips Sigurd to the ground. He is about to finish him off, when three of Sigurd's fellows assault Skallagrim.[5] To match this, Kjartan, Matunaaga, and Bjarni (?) join in the fray.

         A melee ensues. Of the fellows, one has his head split open by ??? and one is disabled by ???. The last then surrenders, a man named Olvir. Skallagrim then orders him to finish off his wounded comrade. He hesitates, to which Skallagrim threatens. But Sigurd tries to take down Skallagrim, shouting "Get him". However, Skallagrim avoids the grab and kills Sigurd. Olvir then quickly obeys Skallagrim's command, saying "Better you than me" as he finishes off his comrade. For this, he is dubbed Olvir the Loyal.

         That night, eight of Hring's men desert.[6] Thorbrand secretly reports these as the opportunists among them, scared off by the harsh discipline. He warns Skallagrim that those loyal to Hring are still among the troops.

         The next day, a scouting party reports seeing a Susquehannock village several miles upriver.[7] It looks to have perhaps a few hundred people in it, though how many are currently present is unknown. It is defended by a stout wooden palisade. That night, they hold a war council. Skallagrim ponders several plans of assault to quickly take the gate and thus avoid a siege. However, given the unknown number of defenders, it seem risky. Melnir suggests that instead they might instead make a strong show of force, and then demand tribute.

         They approach through the hills overlooking the village, assembling behind a hill overlooking the village in the pre-dawn. As several parties of people leave the village in the early morning, they prepare to attack and capture what they can. However, as they do so, a Susquehannock war party of 25 warriors returns down the river.[8]

  1. The result of a "Abrupt Change of Events" card by Bill.
  2. The result of a "Internal Conflict" card by Liz.
  3. The result of a "Rash Impulse" card by Jim.
  4. The result of a "Added Animosity" card by Bill.
  5. The result of a "Tables Turn" card by Heather.
  6. The result of a "Tables Turn" card by Heather.
  7. The result of a "Erratic Behavior" card by Heather.
  8. The region of Sunbury, Pennsylvania. It can be viewed via Terraserver or my local USGS map script.
  9. The result of a "Inopportune Arrival" card by Liz.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Wed Oct 8 13:44:15 2003