Thor’s Day Alert #16: SOTN Excerpt — the midpoint of the battle
Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!
I’m making good progress on my other writing projects and hope to get back to posting more about Norse myth and lore soon. Until then, I give you more from my novel. If you’re interested in Vikings and bloodshed and illicit sorcery, following is part three of a fight that started here and continued here.
Onund saw a fourth archer fall — an arrow through his throat — just before he buried his heavy axe in an enemy’s shoulder. He jerked the man backward while pulling loose his weapon; a gush of blood spattered his face as the Jut cried out and collapsed. At the hands of Onund’s small group, other Juts were dragged similarly dead or maimed away from the fray.
Swords ringing all around, Onund hammered, hacked, and sundered Jutvik warriors like a butcher at his block. He tasted blood in his mouth but neither cared nor wondered if it was his own; his axe-arm rose and fell, rose and fell, while he blocked and bludgeoned with his shield. The stink of guts grew as steadily as the number of bodies amassing underfoot. Onund trod the strange bridge without care, upon it killing a way to his captain.
“Ha-ha!” Captain Soren met him, blue-eyed and bloody and scything the enemy with his axe and sword even as he commanded, “Get back in the wall, men! We’ll remind these cowards of their place in the North — their newfound sorceries be damned!”
Onund caught a Jut sword against his shield and, with a sidearm swing of his axe, hewed the hip of his attacker. A Nordman finished him with a spear through his chest. While turning with this warrior to fill and reinforce their shield wall, Onund stole a glance toward the ship where he’d last seen Keldan.
He was gone.
Onund scanned the shore before completing his turn. The Jut archers stood no more.
Captain Soren stepped back as Onund stepped forward and with a fierce blow of his axe sheared a Jut shield from rim-binding to boss — where his weapon lodged. The enemy warrior thrust his sword. Using his own shield to perfection, Onund swatted down the blade, then stomped the man’s shield while tearing his great-axe free. The Jut staggered under his powerful leg. Onund struck another blow with his axe, now demolishing his foe’s fractured wooden defense which, along with a severed forearm, fell halved against a reddened ground. He harrowed the Jut’s helmet and skull with a decisive third strike.
Once again looking uphill, Onund lifted his shield into place and the wall was re-formed, solid, from middle to left.
“Alright, Nordmen!” Captain Soren shouted, “stand here whilst I bring the left around!”
Just like that, Onund and the warriors nearest him found themselves for a moment with no one to fight. To his left, he heard the captain’s voice trailing away amidst almost gentle battle-sounds, but, to his right, the clang and clatter and howls of war rang unabated. As discomforting as it had been for him to earlier stand unseeing below the hill’s crest, this sudden idleness was infinitely worse; he could see the enemy now, swarming over the right end of the Nordheim line. But he’d been told to wait. To simply thwart a bloodlust and somehow settle into inaction while his friends and mentors were cut down in a throng. “Och!” he threw back his head and cursed, the itch to disobey his captain’s order almost more than he could resist.
Onund looked left again. Surt’s fire! Hurry. Hurry! Captain Soren had reached the end of their line, it sweeping up the hill on a long pivot back to Onund, who, gnashing his teeth in frustration, couldn’t resist peering once more at the far slaughter.
O, glorious surprise!
A host of Jutvik warriors peeled away from the fight and ran toward the fjord. Some stumbled and some fell, as if drunk in the night and staggering for their ship to carry them home.
But their helmsman was no Jut.
“Ha! Keldan!” Onund cheered, watching his friend — lurking now beside one of the huge enemy longships — place arrow after arrow exactly where he pleased; if a Jut raised his shield, he took a dart in the knee. If he crouched and behind his shield waddled toward Keldan, he soon found an arrow in his foot.
As more Juts turned away from the brawl to deal with their bow-wielding tormentor, Onund wondered how long Keldan had been working on their right flank before they’d discovered him: this new group stepped over arrow-riddled bodies and began forming a separate, if short, shield wall, including reinforcements behind. As skilled an archer as he was, Onund knew that even Keldan wouldn’t last long against such organization.
I can’t stand here any longer. Onund was so anxious that, despite his shield being locked between two others, he was trying to jump up and down, however ineffectually and unaware that he was even doing so. I can’t!
Just when he was about to break rank, Nordheim’s left flank swept up and over the hill, Captain Soren driving them swiftly under his bellowing storm. Jut warriors were herded and harangued ahead of the line as it marched unrelenting past the perpendicular.
“Forward now!” Captain Soren roared as he rushed down the line, it at last grinding into motion all the way to Onund’s position. “Crush these cowards! These womanly warriors so fond of magick! Forward to your friends!”
At his words the Nordheim line surged. Nordmen took long, determined strides, energized even as their bristling spears shone dull beneath a pre-dawn sky. The Juts, so like the moon having fled before the sun, scrambled away from the furious advance. They ran toward the right end of the new-bent line where their number was yet strong.
Now Captain Soren’s men had words of their own and, hearing the age-old taunt for the first time, Onund felt an almost superhuman strength feeding through the line and into his sinews.
“Ynkrygg! Ynkrygg! Ynkrygg!” they shouted with each step.
Coward. Onund joined them, his spine, his limbs, indeed his very being tingling with a verve he’d not experienced before as he chanted, “Ynkrygg! Ynkrygg! Ynkrygg!”
Next week, the conclusion to this battle. Thanks for stopping by!