AD 793 Portents and dire warnings spoke of a new terror unleashed. A devastation worse than anything seen before; it would descend on England, and all would be lost. Monks in the remote isle of Lindisfarne were the first to come face to face with this new calamity. That scourge took the form of long sleek ships and the savage raiders they brought to shore. The Vikings had arrived, and all Europe would soon know about it.
Right up until the Norman Conquest these wild reavers caused bedlam throughout Britain, Ireland, Frisia and Northern France. They were the Norse, The Danes, and the Swedes and they took no quarter. The Norse raided Scotland the Orkneys and Ireland, setting up trade stations along the coast of that land. Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, and Dublin were all founded by the Norse. The Swedes fared east and founded Kiev and were called the Rus (Those who rowed.) Russia was born.
But the Danes had eyes on England, or rather the quarreling kingdoms: Wessex, Mercia Northumbria, and Anglia as England hadn’t evolved yet. There was a man called Ragnar Hairybreeks (Lodbrok) The same fellow that features in the fab series Vikings, which ranks alongside Game of Thrones in my house.
Ragnar was a rough lad, but his sons were worse. And he had a lot of sons. And these like their father before them were hungry for wealth and land. The Great Heathen Army that fell upon eastern England AD 865 was no band of raiders. This was an invasion, and these ruffians were here to stay. Led by three of Ragnar’s sons: Halfdan, Ubba, and the terrible Hingwar, aka Ivar the Boneless.
Viewers of The Last Kingdom, (another terrific series about Vikings, based on the books by Bernard Cornwell) will be familiar with the tale which surrounded the reign of Alfred the Great, famous for much more than just burning those cakes!
They landed in East Anglia. It’s king — Edmund — swiftly became a martyr filled with arrows and Bury St Edmunds became a town.
Next Up: The Weekly Fantasy Series
Episode Seven: Incident At The Green Duck
Some joints are best left alone. The Green Duck fitted neatly into that category. Dark and dank, reeking of wet dog, unwashed tenants and oiled steel. Smoke clung to the low ceilings and dimly lit corners, half revealing shabby figures plotting nastiness late into the evening.
Actually, this was Corin’s kind of place. He’d spotted the girl as she navigated tables and drunks, handing out tankards of wishy-washy ale amid scowls. She glowered at him, and Corin took that for a good sign. He was halfway drunk; he’d emptied Krugan’s purse, first purchasing a shirt and stuff in the city, and then settling cozy into this dingy tavern, in the poorest quarter of the sleaziest and most dangerous city in the entire Sultanate of Permio.
It was the girl’s shout as turned his head. Corin saw the gruesome six enter. All carried steel, held level and ready. And all had eyes focussed on himself, sprawled idle with legs akimbo across the low table.
Oh, it’s you lot…
Corin pulled his feet up and kicked the table towards the first of Krugan’s gang. That one leaped aside, but in doing so crashed into his mate causing him lose balance. Chaos and curses followed aplenty. The tavern wench hollered and kicked and spat, her black hair scat across her face. Fired up by the scene, the tavern’s patriots joined the fight. So things progressed for grunting minutes, till Krugan’s heavies battered them aside and squared on the northerner with the steely, vengeful eyes.
“We have unfinished business with you,” the nearest and biggest grinned then flicked his wrist, tossing the knife hard at Corin. Steel glinted, and firelight flickered as the knife flew towards him, the heavies rushing on mass behind it.Corin rolled; the knife slammed into his abandoned chair. Corin leaped across for Clouter, stacked idle against the tavern counter. He had limited space or time to unsheathe it, so instead, set about clubbing and tripping the tangle of men busy trying to murder him.
The leader got in close and scored a deep scrape along Corin’s forearm. Big lad grinned, but then his teeth exploded from his mouth as Clouter’s wolf’s head pommel caved in his jaw. That one tumbled. Corin kicked the second in the balls and tripped the third — who’d been trying to gut him from behind. The girl, ( for some reason Corin couldn’t grasp) was currently biting into the neck of number two while some locals were engaging with the last crew.
All in all, things went well until the rest of Krugan’s gang got word of the fracas and hurried to join. That noise had the City Guard rushing in and the night got sort of busy. Seizing an opportune moment, Corin pitched his lean body from the privy window and crashed headfirst into the street. Crunch! He glanced up hearing the sound of heavy boots crunching on cobbles approaching…
See you next time 🙂