40. Forcing Tribute from the Susquehannock

         As we begin the session, Skallagrim has arranged an ambush as a show of power outside of the Susquehannock village.[1] A group of nine men (and one woman) on horses have ridden down the hill to capture a small hunting group of six. However, they are surprised by a war party returning to the town by canoe up the small river -- twenty-five Susquehannock warriors with loot from a raid. There are 45 Vinlander troops on foot approaching, but they will reach the river's edge only just after the war party has landed.

         Before resolving this battle, we review the situation at home. Back at Brygjafael, Poul has arrived in a wounded state to recover at home. His son Maushop greets Poul politely and says he has been working hard at the forge. Poul reminds Maushop that his wounds are because of the snakes he summoned, which Maushop admits but does not directly take responsibility for. At Groenholt, Hring came to visit where he and Vigfus the Proud discuss politics. Both are friendly with each other, and talk about the need to control the chaos which Hring's offer inadvertently caused. Hring clearly has eyes for Hallgerd, who had shamelessly flirted with him earlier, but makes no overt moves.

         On horses are Thorgerd, Arnor, Bjarni, Kjartan, and Melnir -- along with two of Melnir's men and three of Hring's men, including Olvir the Loyal and a young man named Atli. They ride down on the hunting group of six, who are armed with only tomahawks and bows. Melnir hits one, cutting off his head. Bjarni hits one and Thorgerd rides one down, but her horse Thruma is wounded in the hindquarters. [2] One escapes to the north, and Kjartan chases him, and eventually stops him after several misses. Hring's men chase another who ran for the river. However, Olvir and Atli apparently have a disagreement -- Atli forces him to let the one escape, who was a rather young child (perhaps 12 or so).

         At this point, the canoes arrive. Most of the horsemen have now dismounted to attack. However, Thorgerd charges ahead of them on Thruma, with Arnor rushing to join her. There is a furious pair of exchanges. Still on horseback, Thorgerd chops a guy's head off with her wedding sword, prophesized as the "sword of necessity". Thruma the horse, enraged, kicks a guy in the abdomen and he's down. Arnor's horse is hit. Thorgerd loses control of Thruma and falls off, stunned as she lands on her back. Arnor dismounts to defend her and disembowels a Redaxe. With Thorgerd down, Thruma fights wildly among the Redaxe warriors.

         Melnir and Bjarni join the fray on foot, joined shortly by Kjartan. However, Kjartan gets wounded in the leg while dismounting. Within a minute, the remaining Susquehannock are driven from the shore -- most of them dead. They fought bravely despite the unexpected and fearsome foe, however. Out of 25, only six of the warriors escape and most were wounded. They take two of the 8 canoes, along with the kid that Atli spared, who escaped unharmed. None of the Vinlanders were killed, though a ten or so were wounded.

         The battle is not only a tactical victory, but succeeds in making an impressive demonstration to the Susquehannock. Most striking is the horse Thruma who is covered in his own and other's blood and frothing at the mouth. Thorgerd is upset and tends to his wounds. We have 7 canoes. We captured 5 warriors and most of the spoils from their raid, which include copper, tobacco, and weapons along with six women captives.

         Kjartan, Bjarni, and Honiahaka then approach the village palisade to parley with them. With shields ready to protect themselves, they call out for the Susquehannock to send out a representative. A young man comes out, introducing himself as Pachaka, the son of the king. At first, he takes them to be allies of Hiawatha -- based on their language and Honiahaka. He is hostile and says that they will never submit. However, Kjartan tells him of their defeat of the Mohawks and their fight with Hiawatha. Kjartan says rather than conquest, his people came to win renown, fight worthy enemy, gain wealth.

         Eventually, they come to an agreement. Neither side is to raid the other for five years. Further, each can pass through the other's territory if properly declared. They then exchange gifts in a haggling fashion. The Susquehannock bring out tribute, much of it treasures raided from the Powhatan ("smoke people") to the south. It includes elaborate feather cloaks, shining wampum, stone pipes, and other finely crafted work. In return, the Vinlander's turn over all but one of the female Mohawk captives, and all the Susquehanna warriors.

         Meanwhile, the others recover from the battle. Arnor chides Thorgerd for her conduct -- that she charged in too quickly and didn't retreat when wounded. He says, "You're developing too much of a taste for battle, which is kind of sexy... but you're pregnant, for god's sake!". Thorgerd is sarcastic about how she'll just take off her shoes and go churn some butter, but admits to some of his point.

         Later, in private, Skallagrim asks Olvir if he is having a problem with Atli. Olvir is disgustingly a yes-man, starting off with "May I say what a good job you're doing, sir." Skallagrim lectures him about his difficult position, saying that keeping Atli under control would impress him rather than flattery. Olvir continues to kiss ass, however. Skallagrim (critical success on human lore roll) realizes that Olvir is jealous of Atli because among Hring's household, Atli is a rising star and is in higher favor.

         After this, Skallagrim goes to talk with Melnir. Silksif is there too, of course. Melnir commends Skallagrim on how well everything went, and particularly praises Thorgerd and Thruma. Skallagrim agrees that Thruma should get a share of the loot. They discuss how relations will go with the Susquehannock, but are inconclusive. Melnir says, "Well, no one can tell the future." but then pauses to look at Silksif. "Well, actually some people can tell the future... but as mere fighting men we cannot..." he trails off lamely.

         During the return trip, both Bjarni and Atli shows signs of interest in Skallagrim's step-daughter Vagnhild.[4] Kjartan advises Bjarni that Vagnhild is impressed by wits and insults, since she has a sharp tongue like her mother and a sense of humor. Bjarni and Atli develop a rivalry.

         Eventually they arrive back at Melnir's stead in Raudarbank. There they rest and are greeted warmly by Melnir's relatives. Strangely, no news has been heard of those of Hring's men who deserted from the camp.[5] After a day of feasting, the army is disbanded and over the following day they all depart. After a token exit, Atli returns to the stead to talk with Skallagrim. He notes that he can speak freekly now that he's not under Skallagrim's command. Atli suggests to Skallagrim that he should have chosen more wisely amongt Hring's men, to choose a qualified candidate rather than the toady of the bully he killed (Sigurd).

         At dusk as he is leaving, one of the eight deserters staggers in bloody and burned.[6] He gasps "the horror, the horror!" and collapses. It looks like the wounds weren't inflicted by human...

  1. The region of Sunbury, Pennsylvania. It can be viewed via Terraserver or my local USGS map script.
  2. Bill suggested playing "Ominous Omen" at Thruma's wound, but it is voted down as unreasonable.
  3. The result of a "Things Are Not as They Seem" card by Jim.
  4. The result of a "Romantic Development" card by Jim.
    Various romantic possibilities are considered, but Laura is unsure of what she wants. As a compromise, it is agreed that the two possibilities both hit on her -- but her reaction is left undefined.
  5. The result of a "Something Missing" card by Jim.
  6. The result of a "Bad Tidings" card by Heather.
    Her play includes a reference to the legend of the New Jersey devil.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Mon Sep 8 17:33:25 2003