Hrothgar’s Saga

Vikings for all occasions, no tale too loong

Manaraefan Herred

there.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and Red Orm the Aged fought well in the shield wall while Hrothgar used his bow in the battle, he slew some notable warriors with it and his sword Orcblender.  One Saxon thane led a small force which broke through the Host's lines and slew one of the archers that Hrothgar was leading.  Hrothgar cut one of them down with Orcblender and the others were driven off by warriors of the Host. Despite the efforts of brave warriors, like the Saxon thane, Magnus of Mercia was defeated and killed; Aethelfleda of Mercia held a great funeral for him and the Godi Jarl Sigve Halvdansson Cerdinger said it was well done.  Aethelfleda of Mercia was pleased with the help the Host had given her and paid them well; Halgerd Eiricsdotta supervised the distribution of her silver to the warriors of Host.

             After the battle Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson held a meeting with his High Council and took their advice on a number of issues of concern.  After this the Host broke up for the winter with the Herreds making small raids about Ynglingaland.  Aescesdun took their swords to Otmoor and Basing, at the latter place the Manaraefan also went and there they were joined by new warriors to the Host. At Basing Sturaesman Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan and with him were Valgard Toebreaker, Hrothgar, Red Orm the Aged, Eirik the Down-Trodden and Halfdan Eiriksson.  Hrothgar again used his bow, he put many of the foe to the ground with well-placed arrows as well as slaying some with Orcblender.  When the enemy fled he sent many arrows in pursuit of them.

 

Gold

 

             Sigurd the Scared and Bjorn Frie of the Dane Law, Karl of Jotunheim, Tarant and Mikan the Dane of Aescesdun and the Thegn Magnus Thorkelsson, went together in search plunder.  They came upon a village which had been sacked; while looking for anything of value they discovered a women hiding in the ruins of a hut.  They helped her and asked what had happened, she told them that the village had been attacked and the people slain or taken as slaves; some had run off but she didn't know where they were.

             While they were interrogating the woman the raiders returned, Bjorn Frie offered to sell them the woman which set her off to weeping and wailing.  The raiders were led by a tall dark warrior who would not pay for what he intended to take, he ordered his warriors to attack.  The fight was short and sharp and all the raiders were killed except for an archer captured by Sigurd the Scared.  Sigurd the Scared said someone should guard her; he then wandered off to search the bodies of the raiders and finish off the wounded.  The others did the same and left the archer unguarded, seeing this she then ran off and the party fell to arguing amongst themselves, each blaming the other.

             The villager now told the happy band that there was a nest of trolls nearby, also that they had stolen a chest belonging to a wealthy woman.  Sensing the chance of gold the band rushed off in the direction indicated by the woman and eventually found the trolls nest. One of the trolls was cradling the chest and would not give it up.  The party attacked the trolls in their subterranean den, after a hard fight they killed all the creatures and took the chest, only Mikan the Dane was wounded.  Bjorn Frie took the chest and broke the lock off; he was disgusted to find it only contained rocks.  Mikan the Dane and Magnus Thorkelsson now decided to read the runes carved in the lid while Tarant wandered off.

             After running of the wealthy woman was captured by the giant Svart. Svart then took one of his retainers and went off to hunt, his other retainer he left to prepare the woman for his meal when he returned.  Sigurd the Scared and Bjorn Frie collected Karl of Jotunheim had tracked the wealthy woman and attacked Svart’s retainer as soon as Svart was out of sight, Karl of Jotunheim was knocked senseless to the ground but Bjorn Frie and Sigurd the Scared killed the remaining giant.  They freed the woman, who was called Mildreth, and treated their wounded.  Mikan the Dane gave Magnus Thorkelsson the potion they had found in the hope that it would heal his wounds, it only made him sick.  Mildreth told them that her treasure chest had been stolen by trolls and asked them to help her get it back.  Bjorn Frie, realising that she was talking about the chest they had already found and abandoned, argued with her and told her it only contained rocks.  Mildreth explained that there was a spell on the chest, if opened by her with her key it would contain gold, if opened any other way rocks would be found, didn't they read the inscription?

             They decided to go back to the village and were surprised to find the chest; it was locked and felt heavy.  While puzzling over this mystery they were attacked by more raiders who were hidden about the village.  The party were at first driven from the place and had a hard fight and Karl of Jotunheim was again wounded, eventually they overcame their attackers.  Mildreth now agreed to open the chest and give the party half the gold it contained.  Bjorn Frie took the gold and the others wandered off towards the trolls’ nest where they intended to set up camp.  As they moved away from the village Magnus Thorkelsson and Sigurd the Scared attacked and killed Karl of Jotunheim, Tarant ran off thinking they intended to attack him also.  Sigurd the Scared called him back promising his safety, it was only Karl of Jotunheim they did not wish to share with as they felt he had not earned the gold.  Because of this Magnus Thorkelsson is now called by some the Killer.  As Sigurd the Scared ran and threw away his shield he is still called the Scared.

 

Wise council

 

             Then king Aethelred and his counsellors advised that the force be sent to, and tribute and provisions promised them, so that they would leave off harrying.  Then they accepted that and the whole force came to Omtune, and took winter quarters there.  They were provisioned throughout all the West-Saxon kingdom, and they were given sixteen thousand pounds.  Then king Aethelred sent bishop Aelfheah and eolderman Aethelweard to Olaf Trygvasson, and meanwhile, hostages were exchanged in the ships.  Then they led Olaf Trygvasson, with much celebration, to Aethelred at Andover.  King Aethelred received him of the bishop's hands, and gave him kingly gifts.  Olaf Trygvasson promised him - and also did as he promised - that he would never again come to the Ynglingalish people in enmity.

             Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson called his Jarls, Sturaesmen and Thegns to council to take advice from them and plan the campaigns for the next year.  They met him at Rheged-dale and much good work was done.  Hrothgar went there in his ship Monty Go with Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and on their arrival was well looked after by Ottar Haraldsson, though there was great confusion amongst the cooks of his household.  The laws of Hrafn the Red were here ratified by Thorgrim Sigmundsson and his Jarls and much other good work was done.  Thorgeir Havarsson here gave wise council on many matters.  Here it was that Hrothgar heard that a dozen warriors had left Ragnar Thorskal, Jarl of Tyrslith.  They had decided to set up on their own in the hope of getting a greater share of the booty taken from the Saxons in the following year; they called themselves Draum Broedr.  On their return journey Hrothgar and Guthrothr Belly-Shaker were blown off course by storms; also a great long beast with many red eyes trailed before them into the far distance, it would not let them past and they were driven to take another course.

             After this the Manaraefan spent the winter months preparing for the next years campaigns, and training the new warriors that eagerly joined them from the south.  Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, his wife Halla of the Manaraefan, Freyja Ulfbjornsdotta, Dag Ulfbjornsson, Olof Ulfbjornsdotta Totra the Lonely, Fian of the Manaraefan, Ellisif of the Manaraefan, Snarri of the Manaraefan, Dagfiend Scoffa, Kormak the Carter, and Sigurd the Exposed all joined the Manaraefan in those months

 

995      In this year also Olaf Skutonung became the first Christian to rule over the Swedes, and the comet appeared, that is, the longhaired star.

             Despite very cold weather, Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson's High Council gathered at his hall to advise him on the conduct of this year’s campaign.  The Thegn Aelfgifu prepared a great feast for the High Councillors and their families, the feast was well received and much praise was given to Aelfgifu.  At this time Thorgrim Sigmundsson’s Host consisted of the Herreds Aescesdun, Amounderness, Cwmmwd Ial, Danelaw, Hrafnsdale, Medeswael, Mercia, Northumbria, Ormsheim, Tyrslith, the Valhalla Ulfhednar,  the Wolves of Andred, and Y'Draig; also the Lethangs Aescinga, Dahrg de Belne, Draum Broedr, Heordwerod, Hrafns Banner, Jorvik, Jotunheim, the Manaraefan, Norovik Hrafnswyrd, Norvik Ulfstahm, Ousekjarr, Scots, Vanaheim  and Warriors of the Old Gods.

             Shortly after this Hrothgar gathered Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson's Thegns together at Hrothgarsstadir and with them planned how they would conduct the Host in this year.  They also trained together and tested each other’s skills, some were found wanting but many displayed great skill.  Hedde of Mercia, a Thegn of Aescesdun here accepted the command of the Host's archers.

             At about this time Thorgeir Havarsson left Jorunn Havskilepadde and moved to the north Omtune where he lived with Skuld.

             Many more warriors joined the Manaraefan at the beginning of this year; amongst them were Aslac Vomiter, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Bjorki of the Manaraefan, Gorstag the Butcher and Gari of the Manaraefan.  Eirik the Down-Trodden and Halfdan Eiriksson were accepted as Frihals of the Host and Halfdan Eiriksson was made a Thegn of the Manaraefan.

 

Feasting and drunkenness

 

             Leofric of Aescesdun and Einar Ericsson of the Wolves of Andred held a banquet for the Host near the ford of the Ox. But there was not enough ale and mead; nor was there enough room in the hall for all the guests.  Einar Ericsson was not well pleased.  The warriors of Cwmmwd Ial sat outside the hall and were served there; Hrothgar went out and sat with them for a while.  Erling Rigsson and Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson also spent some time with those outside the hall.

             Before the last course was served Aslac Vomiter became very sick, he had drunk too much strong mead and Rolf and Frodi of the Manaraefan had to carry him off to his bed.  It was from this time that he was called Aslac Vomiter.

             Lief Tyrsson was away making a raid upon the Bulgars so Hrothgar conducted the ceremonies at this banquet.  Deor of Aescesdun was called to swear on behalf of the Thegns but refused to answer when called, Gwillym Ap Dafydd, a Thegn of Y'Draig, stepped forward and swore the oath in her stead.

             At this banquet Od Haroldsson, Sturaesman of Hrafnsdale was made a Jarl.  Also the Lethang Aescinga was made a Herred and their Sturaesman Grendel was made Jarl.  Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson gave the Thegns Gudrun Bjornsdottir, Gwillym Ap Dafydd and Tangwyn Ab Ieuaf silver gifts because of all their good work for the Host. Guthrothr Belly-Shaker, Red Orm the Aged, Thorolf the Tall and Gunnar also received fine gifts from Thorgrim Sigmundsson for their long service to the Host.

             Here at this banquet there were words of discontent spoken by some of the warriors of Aescesdun, they were dissatisfied at the conduct of their Jarl Leofric and felt they had lost honour because of the poorness of the banquet.  Shortly afterwards many of them left Aescesdun and established their own Lethang which they named Hwicce, Hedde of Mercia, Boon the Hun, Kynan, Harrivig the Helpless and Mikan the Dane were the leaders.

             At this time a son was born to Astrid Bear and Valgard Toebreaker, they named him Myric Valgardsson.

             Shortly after this Hrothgar and Muirigan Legbiter went with their son Thorfin Hrothgarsson to Tatton, here there was a great gathering of the Host and a great battle was fought against the Mercians.  The Mercians stood atop a hill and the Host attacked them most fiercely.  Hedde of Mercia had command of the Hosts archers, Hrothgar joined him and together with the other archers did great destruction amongst the enemy.  Ragnar Thorskal was sorely wounded here; he was struck in the back as he attempted to adjust his fighting position to one more favourable.  It was not certain which of the enemy warriors made the blow as so many of them tried.  A lot of time was spent standing around and many complained of the cold wind that blew all day.

             The Sturaesman of Ousekjarr, Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer, announced his intention to go on a voyage to the south, he said he was going to a place where fish could fly and birds swam under the waves, this was greeted with much amusement.  The Thegn Millicent of Ousekjarr held a feast to wish him well on his way, many went and among them were Hrothgar and Muirigan Legbiter, and Sigurd the Scared and Halgerd Eiricsdotta.  The day after the feast all the warriors there went and trained together, they trained hard and enjoyed themselves greatly.  Bilbo, while teaching a young warrior to shoot a bow, had one of his arrows lodge in a tall tree.  He tried to shoot it down but only succeeded in getting another arrow stuck.  The young warrior he was training then climbed the tree to retrieve the arrows, the other warriors watched and made wagers with each other whether or not he would fall from the tree.

             Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson called his Jarls and Sturaesmen to council at Bellsstadir, here he listened to their words and together they planned the Host's campaigns for the coming year.

 

Desperate battle with the Boggers

 

             Sturaesman Guthrothr Belly-Shaker of the Manaraefan called on warriors of the Host to join him and his Lethang on a raid upon the West Saxons.  On their way to join him Hrothgar, Orm Longarm, Boon the Hun, Ulf the Dauntless and other warriors of the Host were attacked while they were passing through the valley of the Death Water.  The warriors of the Host drove off their attackers and killed many of them, but their enemy kept returning to the attack again and again.  Instead of getting weaker it seemed that the more of the enemy they killed the stronger they became.  The attackers called themselves the "Boggers", they knew this because Hrothgar heard one of their leaders call out "Go Boggers" just as he shot him down with an arrow.  One of the Boggers charged Hrothgar just as he loosed at their leader, Hrothgar threw his bow down and drew his sword Orcblender, he slew his opponent and took his hand axe.  Hrothgar was then beset by three more warriors and had to run backwards as he fought or else they would have taken him from behind, despite this he killed all three and was then able to recover his bow.  As they moved through the valley Orm Longarm sought out places that they could easily defend when attacked, several times he chose places where trees had been felled or blown down in strong wind.  Though it slowed them in their passage of the valley it also slowed down their attackers, this gave Hrothgar more time to loose his arrows at the foe.  Hrothgar killed many both with his arrows and his sword.  As the incessant attacks continued the brave band got smaller and smaller until only Hrothgar, Orm Longarm, Boon the Hun and Ulf the Dauntless remained, each one often found themselves fighting three or four of their foes at a time.  Their weapons became blunt with the heavy work and Hrothgar had no more arrows, just as the heroes were tiring of the bloody work and expecting to be attacked for a last fatal time, they found their way out of the valley of the Death Water and were attacked no more.

             When Hrothgar, Orm Longarm, Boon the Hun and Ulf the Dauntless finally reached Bordon and joined the warriors gathering for Guthrothr Belly-Shaker's raid, they told of their adventure and celebrated their survival long into the night.  Valgard Toebreaker arrived and had with him much booty that he had taken from the people of London on his way there; he gave gifts of small rings to many of those who had answered Guthrothr Belly-Shaker's call.  They then went and raided the Saxons; plundering and taking slaves, one slave especially was noted for the strange pig like squeals she made when poked with a stick.  Soon after they returned to their camp the Saxon thane Aethelgengis, came and demanded that they return their booty and slaves.  He had come with only a small escort so Bjorn Frie, who had command in the camp at that time, sent him away with many words of abuse.

             Knowing that Aethelgengis would return with more men, Bjorn Frie sent Sigurd the Scared and half the warriors in the camp away with the slaves and booty.  He told Sigurd the Scared to hide them somewhere safe and return as quickly as possible.  While Sigurd the Scared was away Aethelgengis did in fact return, he had only a few more men but never the less attempted to defeat the Vikingar.  After a short but hard fight the two sides drew apart, Bjorn Frie was keen to delay the resumption of the battle until Sigurd the Scared could get back so, when Aethelgengis offered to settle the matter with a single combat he took the offer eagerly.

             Orm Longarm was to fight for the Vikingar and Bjorn Frie instructed him to take his time killing the Saxon instead of giving the quick death that Orm Longarm was renowned for.  The two warriors laid into each other with apparent fury but it was noted that neither seemed able to land a blow on the other and Bjorn Frie began to suspect that Aethelgengis was of a similar mind as him.

             Then a loud cheer was heard and Sigurd the Scared ran up with his warriors, Bjorn Frie led them against the Saxons straight away.  Just as the warriors of the Host were driving the Saxons back more of Aethelgengis' warriors arrived and joined the fight.  The battle grew desperate with many wounded on both sides, Hrothgar shot a great number of the enemy but there was one who seemed to be able to block his every arrow.  This warrior was clad in mail and armed with a long axe; he had no shield but managed to block Hrothgar's arrows with the shaft of his axe.

             The Vikingar were victorious and the Saxons either fled or lay dead on the field.  Aethelgengis was among the fallen, when his mother and sister came to look for him amongst the slain they were shown every courtesy and allowed to take his corpse away for burial.  In this battle Red Orm the Aged, Halfdan Eiriksson, Eirik the Down-Trodden, Kormak the Carter, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Halla of the Manaraefan, Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, Totra the Lonely, Dagfiend Scoffa and Gorstag the Butcher also took their places in the Manaraefan shield wall.

             The Host gathered at Rheged-dale where Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson held his Spring Althing.  The Druid Ap Caradock asked if warriors should be allowed to eat bread and meat when dressed for war, there was a good deal of talk about this as some felt that the Gods would feel that their heritage would be offended.  Most people thought that warriors should be allowed to make their own minds up on this issue until the Gods had indicated their feelings.  It was here that Brodir Sigvaldsson returned to the Host after a long absence.

 

Raid on the Roch

 

             After the Althing the Host raided up the Roch valley.  Thorgrim Sigmundsson's chief battle leader, Orm Longarm, commanded the Host and Hrothgar fought there with his bow, Red Orm the Aged was also there.

             The people of the Roch valley put up a hard fight but were unable to stop the Host. They first tried to defend a bridge but the warriors of the Host drove them from it with many casualties.  They then took up position behind a dyke but this availed them naught, Hrothgar shot at their flank while other warriors of the Host went around too attack the dyke from the rear.  One of the enemy managed to run behind the Host and attack the warriors from behind; Hrothgar was there and took the enemy's spear from him before another struck the enemy down with a blow to his face.

             At one time the enemy leader, Blackwalder, broke through the Host's shield wall with some of his Hearth Troop, Hrothgar was before him and he tried to kill him.  Hrothgar drew Orcblender and parried Blackwalder's sword but Blackwalder then smashed his shield into Hrothgar's face.  Hrothgar fell to the ground but before Blackwalder could finish him he was forced away by other warriors of the Host.

             The enemy then found a place where their left was protected by the Roch River and their right by a steep hill.  They placed some warriors on the hill just in case the Host tried to turn their flank.  Hrothgar went with the warriors of Y'Draig and defeated the enemy there.  Hrothgar then shot arrows into the enemy's flank and slew many of them before they realised that he was there.  Orm Longarm led the rest of the Host to pressure their front and the warriors of Y'Draig caught any of the enemy that tried to run away.

 

Thorfin Hrothgarsson kills Gavin

 

             Hrothgar, Muirigan Legbiter and Thorfin Hrothgarsson went to Tatton where they joined Ottar Haraldsson who was holding ball games.  While watching the games Thorfin Hrothgarsson and two other boys, Gavin and Stephan, argued about which was the better team.  Gavin then insulted Hrothgar and he and Stephan fought Thorfin Hrothgarsson and pushed him to the ground before running off.  Thorfin Hrothgarsson was in a rage and went and fetched an axe, he then fatally struck Gavin down with a blow to his head.  Stephan ran off and all the people there gathered round to see what would happen next.  Muirigan Legbiter knelt down and took Thorfin Hrothgarsson in her arms and proudly said, "One day you will go for a Viking!"

 

Shipwreck

 

             About this time Steinthor Freygrimsson and Grim Swiftkiller were sailing off the east coast of Ynglingaland, despite the fine weather they were shipwrecked.  This was because Steinthor Freygrimsson had been playing the fool and making waves.  When the ship was wrecked Grim Swiftkiller managed to jump towards the shore and only got his feet wet, Steinthor Freygrimsson jumped to seaward and was soaked from head to foot.  The sea was very cold and Steinthor Freygrimsson felt very sorry for himself, this was not helped when, while drying off before a fire with hot ale, his shipmates made fun of his foolishness.

             Eolderman Olaf Red Beard of Jorvik and Grim Swiftkiller were the deadliest of enemies as Grim Swiftkiller had killed his son some years before but, rather than try to escape undetected, Grim Swiftkiller presented himself at eolderman Olaf Red Beard 's court while he was holding a great feast in honour of his wife Janeafleda.  Grim Swiftkiller boldly strode to the high table and, respectfully kneeling, requested shelter for the night and safe passage out of the country.  Eolderman Olaf Red Beard was not sure what to do but Janeafleda demanded that Grim Swiftkiller be put to death for the murder of their son.  Before eolderman Olaf Red Beard could condemn Grim Swiftkiller, Blondell, who was the eolderman's closest advisor and Grim Swiftkiller's friend, stepped forward and spoke for him.  Blondell advised eolderman Olaf Red Beard that to kill Grim Swiftkiller at night would also be murder, an act unworthy of such a noble man as himself, and that he should wait till morning before deciding Grim Swiftkiller 's fate.  At this eolderman Olaf Red Beard ordered his guards to take Grim Swiftkiller away and bring him back in the morning.

             That night Grim Swiftkiller composed a poem in honour of eolderman Olaf Red Beard and when he was brought before his court the next morning he recited it for all to hear.  All at the court were greatly impressed by the poem, eolderman Olaf Red Beard could not kill a man who had just praised him so highly so he gave Grim Swiftkiller two days to leave his jurisdiction.  Janeafleda was furious and promised to have her revenge on both of them; this was no idle threat as she was a witch of great skill.

 

Sigurd the Scared's trial

 

             At Easter in this year Thorgrim Sigmundsson gathered the Host together and led them to Portcaester where he set about exacting tribute from the people there.  The Saxons were reluctant to part with their silver and Hedde of Mercia and Bjorn Frie were both wounded in skirmishes with them.  After some time the eolderman in charge of that place gathered his forces and tried to drive the Host away.  Amongst the Host Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan, Hrothgar, Valgard Toebreaker, Red Orm the Aged, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Astrid Bear, Eirik the Down-Trodden, Halfdan Eiriksson, Halla of the Manaraefan, Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, Dagfiend Scoffa, Kormak the Carter, Totra the Lonely, Gorstag the Butcher and Gari of the Manaraefan all played their part.  Hrothgar shot many of the Saxons with his arrows and the other warriors of the Manaraefan cut the foe down with their swords.  Ulf the Dauntless fought with the Manaraefan and stood firm beside Red Orm the Aged.  Ulf the Dauntless was shot by a Saxon archer; luckily the arrow only grazed his shin so the wound was not serious.  The Saxons had not brought enough warriors to the field and were easily defeated though they fought bravely.

             At one time during the battle Totra the Lonely found that she was all alone and surrounded by the enemy and felt very lonely, when she later told the rest of the Manaraefan they called her the Lonely.

             After the Saxons were driven off and after all the silver was taken from them Jarl Sigve Halvdansson Cerdinger called for an althing.  Sigve Halvdansson Cerdinger wished for justice and compensation for the killing of his sworn man Karl of Jotunheim.  Karl of Jotunheim had been killed by Sigurd the Scared and Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer in a village near the town of Basing.  Sigve Halvdansson Cerdinger claimed that the killing was unlawful, but that if it was deemed lawful then he would accept compensation and asked for a fair price to be set.  Sigurd the Scared answered the charge but Magnus Thorkelsson was found to have fled.  Sigve Halvdansson Cerdinger called Mildreth, a woman of the village, and Ulfstahm One-eye as his witnesses.  Both spoke of what they saw, Sigurd the Scared was not able to gainsay their witness, nor was he able to convince anyone that the killing was lawful.  As he refused to pay compensation he was outlawed from the Host and soon fell in with other ruthless men in a like circumstance.

             In competitions held amongst the warriors of the Host Boon the Hun won the prize for skill at archery.

             Archbishop Sigeric passed away, and Aelfric, bishop of Wiltun Scir, was chosen to succeed him on Easter day, in Amberesburg, by king Aethelred and all his counsellors.  This Aelfric was a very wise man - there was no wiser man in Ynglingaland.  Then Aelfric went to his archiepiscopal see, and when he arrived there was received by the men who were to him the most disagreeable of all, that is, the secular clergy.  Straightway he sent for all the wisest men he knew anywhere, especially well informed men, who knew how to speak truly how each thing was in the days of their ancestors in Ynglingaland, beside what he himself had learned through books and from wise men.  Men of very great age, both clerical and lay, recounted to him what their elders had said to them, how it was established soon after St Augustine came to Ynglingaland.

             Archbishop Aelfric was very glad that he had so many witnesses who were, in those times, very influential with the king.  He then went to Rome to receive his pallium from the Pope but was preceded by secular priests, these priests offered much treasure to the Pope if he would give one of them the pallium.  The Pope told them to go where they would and, when Aelfric arrived, put on him his own pallium and greatly honoured him.

             On his return to Canterbury Aelfric, on the Popes advice, drove out the secular clerics from the monastery, and set monks therein.

 

Vikingar

 

             Valgard Toebreaker, Millicent of Ousekjarr, Grim Swiftkiller and Hedde of Mercia were encamped in Cantware where they had gone a Viking; with them were Ari Sigurdsson, Kjarten, Harrivig the Helpless, Harold of Ousekjarr, Hogbad, Knuta, Raev, and Halfdan the Nasty.  While they were resting in the midday sun a warrior burst out of a nearby forest, he was soon pursued by three others who caught up with and attacked him.  The warriors of the Host ambled over to see what was happening and tried to talk the warriors out of fighting each other.  Despite his filthy state and wounds they recognised the one being pursued as Sigurd the Scared and he begged for their protection.  After a good deal of arguing the Vikingar attacked and killed two of Sigurd the Scared's pursuers while the third ran away.  Sigurd the Scared then asked for their help to get revenge on the people who had attacked him, he told them that they were from a band of outlaws.  These outlaws were led by Hrolf the Merciless who had much gold and had taken Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir as Hostage from her father jarl Thorgold.

             At this point Harold of Ousekjarr attacked Sigurd the Scared and sorely wounded him.  The others were astounded and when questioned Harold of Ousekjarr said he didn't trust the outlaw.  The other Vikingar didn't trust him either but wanted to know more about the gold he had mentioned, they tended his wounds and interrogated him some more.  Eventually Sigurd the Scared agreed to lead them to his enemies.

             The Vikingar followed Sigurd the Scared into the forest, after a while they came upon a small camp where there were six outlaws.  Yet again they tried to reason with them while Sigurd the Scared hopped from foot to foot shouting to the Vikingar to kill his enemies.  Eventually the Vikingar realised that they would learn nothing by talking to the outlaws and attacked them.  After a short fight they killed them all.

             Sigurd the Scared then led them onto the path to the outlaws’ main camp, several times he tried to slip away from the Vikingar but they kept a close watch upon him.  The Vikingar came out of the forest near an oak tree; here they met a woman who wore very flimsy clothing.  She was very interested in the fine warriors who approached her, she took no notice of Millicent of Ousekjarr 's questions but when asked by Hedde of Mercia she told them her name was Joyofaseaxa.  She tried to entice the brave warriors to go into the forest and satisfy her desires, but these warriors were made of stern stuff and would not accept such a gift unless they had taken it by force.  Joyofaseaxa ran her hands over the bodies of the warriors and whispered sweet words in their ears, though greatly tempted they preferred the company of their brother warriors to that of a beautiful woman.  While the Vikingar were distracted by Joyofaseaxa Sigurd the Scared took his chance to slip away.

             Millicent of Ousekjarr tried again to question Joyofaseaxa but at this point Grim Swiftkiller exploded in a rage.  "We are Vikings and take what we want!", so saying he took hold of Joyofaseaxa and bound her hands behind her back.  There was a great outcry at this and his stated intent to sell her as a slave! Eventually Grim Swiftkiller released her but went with her into the forest to sate her lustful passions.  When they were out of sight of the other Vikingar Joyofaseaxa took out a concealed knife and tried to kill Grim Swiftkiller but he was expecting this and quickly killed her instead.

             While investigating Joyofaseaxa's belongings the Vikingar discovered a stick with runes carved upon it.  After much scratching of heads they misread the message inscribed there as "Take Loki's hand and to left" when it really said "Take Loki's hand and go left"! They wondered who Loki might be until Valgard Toebreaker told them that it was Thor's friend the god of mischief and lies.  They took this to mean that they should turn to the right at the next track junction and this is what they did.

             They proceeded upon their way and as they passed through a wood with bluebells all about they were attacked by Elves.  As the Elves shot arrows at them they screamed that the Vikingar should get off the flowers, the Vikingar shouted back that they were not on the flowers but on the path.  This just made the Elves angrier and they redoubled their attack and Grim Swiftkiller was hit by so many arrows that he fell unconscious to the ground.  As Grim Swiftkiller fell two Trolls bust upon the Vikingar and laid into them causing more to fall to the ground.  Valgard Toebreaker and Millicent of Ousekjarr rallied those that remained and attacked their foes, after a hard and vicious fight they killed or drove off all the Elves and Trolls.

             After they had done this they tended their wounded, while they were doing so an old man walked up to them.  The old man asked them what they were about and if they would be willing to share their water with him.  The Vikingar treated him well but noticed that he had a strange way of talking, each time he spoke he had a different accent, not sure what this meant they decided to treat him with some respect.  The Vikingar told the old man that they were seeking the camp of the outlaw Hrolf the Merciless so that they might rescue Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir, the daughter of jarl Thorgold.  Believing them the old man led them back the way they had come and gave them directions to Hrolf the Merciless's camp.  As he left them the old man took Grim Swiftkiller 's sword and Millicent of Ousekjarr 's axe and examined them, he said that they were fine weapons and that they would serve them well in the future.

             They followed the directions given them and found Hrolf the Merciless's camp.  Hrolf the Merciless had more warriors than the Vikingar so they tried to persuade him to hand over Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir and the gold without a fight.  Hrolf the Merciless told them they could have anything they wanted if they were strong enough to take it.  At this point they heard a woman's screams and decided to attack the outlaws.  The battle was very fierce and during it Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir tried to escape from the outlaws but was quickly re-captured.  Millicent of Ousekjarr 's axe shattered any shield it touched and Grim Swiftkiller found that his sword was now so sharp that it cut his opponents in two at a single blow.  Despite this the outlaws’ strength was too great for the Vikingar and many were wounded.

             Valgard Toebreaker found that he was the only Viking still on his feet and seven of the outlaws were left.  Two were holding Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir, two threatened him with bows and three others chased him ragged.  He called to them to show some honour and take him on one at a time, to his amazement they agreed though one of the outlaws dissented.  As the first outlaw approached Valgard Toebreaker the two archers went into their camp, one of them made off with the gold while the other fetched his shield.  Valgard Toebreaker killed the first outlaw and then two attacked him together but he killed them quickly.  The archer returned with sword and shield but didn't last long either.  The two outlaws holding Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir threatened to kill her if Valgard Toebreaker came near them.  Valgard Toebreaker was happy to accede to this and went to Hedde of Mercia and bound his wounds.

             When Hedde of Mercia was recovered they both attacked the remaining outlaws and killed them, they then tended the wounds of the other Vikingar.  Grim Swiftkiller took Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir to search for the gold but it was gone, he was very angry and tied her up saying that he would sell her as a slave.  Some of the other Vikingar were not happy about this but he would not be dissuaded again.  As they argued they saw the last outlaw running away with a heavy box, they gave chase and slew the outlaw.  They now had the gold as well as Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir and decided to return to their camp.

             At their camp Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir said that her father, jarl Thorgold, would reward them well if they returned her and the gold.  Grim Swiftkiller said that they should keep both and sail away with their profits.  Eventually they decided that some of them would go to bargain with Thorgold while Grim Swiftkiller, Hedde of Mercia and Valgard Toebreaker guarded Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir and the gold.  Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir gave them directions and off they went.

             Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir's directions were very vague and Millicent of Ousekjarr and the others got lost, eventually they saw smoke rising and marched towards it.  They came to jarl Thorgold's home and saw that he had a great many men gathered there.  Amongst Thorgold's men was Sigurd the Scared, he had claimed the credit for getting the Vikingar to rescue Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir.  Millicent of Ousekjarr told Thorgold that Gudrun Thorgoldsdottir was going to be held until they were given a suitable reward.  Thorgold grew angry and thinking that there may be a fight Millicent of Ousekjarr sent Harold of Ousekjarr back to fetch Grim Swiftkiller, Valgard Toebreaker and Hedde of Mercia.  When Harold of Ousekjarr got back to the camp he found it deserted with only a small gold cross left as reward for their work.

             Jarl Thorgold was not happy that Millicent of Ousekjarr and the others were holding his daughter and gold and had them detained.  They were all wounded in the struggle that ensued and none got away.  Sigurd the Scared was afraid that Thorgold would turn on him next so he slipped away when the fight started, he persuaded three of Thorgold's men to go with him.

             Shortly after this Hrothgar went raiding with the warriors of Hrafns Banner, they had very little luck.  Every place they went the Saxons were too strong for them so they were forced to look elsewhere, eventually they returned from a fruitless expedition.

 

Cold food

 

             The Manaraefan gathered for market at the village of Aelder's Hott, here they set themselves up to sell booty taken on raids, they sold two prisoners as slaves but did not get a very good price for them.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker forgot to bring his griddle so they had to eat their food cold; Guthrothr Belly-Shaker had to listen to jokes at his expense for this.  Muirigan Legbiter was very cross about this as she had brought food to be cooked so that Thorfin Hrothgarsson might have a hot meal.

             Aslac Vomiter, when deep in his cups, had agreed to go raiding with warriors he did not know well; after the raid he fell out with the others, they had not taken much booty and argued over the division of the spoils.  Aslac Vomiter was beaten from their camp and then went to find the Manaraefan.  He found Sturaesman Guthrothr Belly-Shaker at Aelder's Hott eating cold meat with Totra the Lonely and Creayg of Suthseaxscir; together the four went back and exacted a bloody revenge on those that had beaten Aslac Vomiter.

             Afterwards Hrothgar, Guthrothr Belly-Shaker, Red Orm the Aged and Halgerd Eiricsdotta went to Rushden where they fought the local people and carried off much booty.  Handreya set out to join them there but could not find their camp, after much searching she returned to her home before it became dark.  She is now known as Handreya the Lost. Hrothgar here fought in single combat against a dark visaged opponent, the fight was long and both became tired.  Eventually Hrothgar was able to strike his enemies leg, then as Hrothgar moved in to finish him his foe struck out and cut Hrothgar's chest. Hrothgar then plunged his sword into the enemy but then fell to the ground himself, though bloody the wound proved not to be too serious and he was soon on his feet again.

 

Disasters at sea

 

             Valgard Toebreaker Toe-Breaker and Totra the Lonely set sail with Hrothgar in his ship Monty Go for the mouth of the Tyne; here they were to meet others of the Manaraefan and the Host. On the journey they had many delays caused by dangerous seas and other ships which crowded around some ports.  As they approached the shores near Jorvik in strong winds the mast of Monty Go snapped near its base.  As Hrothgar struggled with the steer board Valgard Toebreaker took hold of the mast and held it up with his great strength.  Hrothgar then guided the ship to a nearby harbour.

             When they were all safely ashore they sought out a shipwright to repair Monty Go, having found one he informed them that it would be some days before the ship was sea worthy again.  They were due to meet the rest of the Manaraefan the next day so they took possession of another ship with which to continue their journey.  The new ship was named Astral and was smaller than Monty Go; they had to leave much of their gear in the care of the shipwright.

             After a long trip through the night they eventually made it to the mouth of the Tyne, here they met Guthrothr Belly-Shaker, Dwynwen of the Manaraefan, Dagfiend Scoffa, Kormak the Carter, Eirik the Down-Trodden, Halfdan Eiriksson, Handreya, Red Orm the Aged, Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, Halla of the Manaraefan and Halgerd Eiricsdotta.  They celebrated their safe coming together by drinking Muirigan Legbiter's mead and eating Astrid Bear's cake.  They then joined with the rest of the Host and as was their custom in those days held competitions, Hrothgar and Thorgill both won prizes for their skill with the bow.  While the archers were competing one of the Host's tents caught fire, this caused much commotion but did not distract the archers.  The Host then made a raid upon the priory at that place; the eolderman of that part of Northumbria called out the fyrd and came upon the Host while they were looting the holy site.

             The warriors of Hwicce were here with the Host and amongst them was Mahon the Archer; after the kind treatment she had received from Tarant she gave up her life as a brigand and had joined them.

             In the battle that followed Hrothgar shot down many of the Northumbrians with his arrows and then slew more with Orcblender.  Valgard Toebreaker fought valiantly and set a fine example for others to follow; he sent many a foe to their grave.  Ulf the Dauntless stood beside Red Orm the Aged and together they too set many Northumbrians in the ground.  The Manaraefan fought in the centre of the Host and were always in the thick of the fight.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led many attacks upon the enemy; with his spear he slew eorl Njal Herder who was leading the Northumbrians who fought against the Manaraefan.  To the left of the Manaraefan stood the warriors of the Dane Law, in their pride they left too much space between themselves and the Manaraefan and suffered for it.  They found themselves exposed to attack by far more Northumbrians than they could deal with, many of their number were killed and Skallagrim Baldpate and Bjorn Frie were sorely wounded.  Despite every effort the Host was driven away by the much larger Northumbrian army but managed to take their booty with them.

             After the battle more warriors left Ragnar Thorskal's Herred Tyrslith.

             Hrothgar, Valgard Toebreaker and Totra the Lonely returned the way they came and discovered that the Monty Go was too expensive to repair.  After returning to his home Hrothgar negotiated the purchase of another ship which he also called the Monty Go.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and Dwynwen of the Manaraefan were wrecked on their journey home, there vessel was completely destroyed but they were able to make it to shore safely.  Dwynwen of the Manaraefan broke her ankle in the wreck but Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and Knut Guthrothrsson were un-hurt.

 

Vengeance and rescue

 

             Aslac Vomiter again went raiding with warriors he fell in with while in the mead-hall, his choice of companions was as wise as it was previously.  When it came to the division of spoils he was again left out, he protested and was given a good thrashing and sent on his way penniless.  On his return to the Manaraefan camp he found Valgard Toebreaker there and told him of his misfortune, also there was Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, Dagfiend Scoffa and Sigurd the Scared, they all agreed to help Aslac Vomiter avenge the insults to him.

             They came upon Aslac Vomiter's former companions sitting about their camp fire, Valgard Toebreaker offered to accept compensation from them but they were of a mind to fight.  The Manaraefan warriors fought well together and soon overcame their enemies to restore Aslac Vomiter's fortune.

             Sigurd the Scared, Halgerd Eiricsdotta and Rebecca Sigurdsdottir then left the Manaraefan's camp for their home, Halla of the Manaraefan, Thorfin Hrothgarsson, Bjorki of the Manaraefan, Freya the Fecund, Astrid Bear and Myric Valgardsson went with them part of the way.  They had not gone far when they were attacked by brigands; Sigurd the Scared put two down with his long axe before he was overcome by the others and knocked senseless to the ground.  Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Astrid Bear and Halla of the Manaraefan kept the children safe while Bjorki of the Manaraefan took his chance to make off for help.  The brigands then tended their wounded and started to drag the women off, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Astrid Bear and Halla of the Manaraefan did all they could to delay them and leave a trail that the Manaraefan might follow.

             Bjorki of the Manaraefan soon got back to their camp and Valgard Toebreaker, Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker, Dagfiend Scoffa and Aslac Vomiter quickly gathered up their weapons and set off to the rescue.  They soon found the unconscious Sigurd the Scared and revived him; he had no idea of where the brigands had taken their prisoners so they made a search for clues.  They discovered the brigands’ tracks and other marks left by the captives; they set off in pursuit again.  When Valgard Toebreaker and the others came upon the brigands they were trying to sell Astrid Bear at a village they were passing; the brigands were angry as they were not getting a very high price for her.  The Manaraefan wasted no time in setting about the brigands and a fierce and desperate fight ensued.  All the brigands were slain and Valgard Toebreaker had a bad shoulder wound but all the captives were freed safely.

 

Celebration

 

             Sturaesman Boon the Hun led the Lethang Hwicce to raid Faern's burgh, Hrothgar went and joined them there.  The people of that place were unable to resist the raiders and much booty was taken as well as many slaves.  Later when they came to sell the slaves Hrothgar got a good price for them.  Afterwards they joined the rest of the Manaraefan at Hrothgarsstadir where they celebrated their good fortune.  Totra the Lonely, after she had had too much mead, told Red Orm the Aged that he was no sex god.

             After this Sturaesman Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan to Healingastun; there they took much booty from the people there.  It was very hot but they were able to quench their thirst with ale taken from the Saxons.  Here Totra the Lonely found herself alone and was attacked by a large party of the enemy, she slew them all and re-joined the main body of the Manaraefan.  Sigurd the Exposed of Manaraefan wore no trousers because of the heat, when he took his ease upon the ground he revealed more than he intended; it was from this time that he was known as Sigurd the Exposed.  Thorolf the Tall joined the Manaraefan for this raid; his old comrades from the Valhalla Ulfhednar were pleased to see him again.

             The Manaraefan then joined the Host at Tamworth where they were again joined by Thorolf the Tall.  Here they did great destruction to the Mercians and looted and burnt their town.  Hrothgar led the archers at this battle and together they slew many of the Mercians that were too slow to raise their shields.  So much booty was taken from the town of Tamworth that the Host celebrated long into the night; Hrothgar had much drink provided for him for his skill with the bow.  Orm Longarm, Sturaesman of Dane Law was equally rewarded for his skill with the sword.

             The Host then went to the nearby Mercian town of Bosworth and also defeated the Mercians who tried to defend that place.  The Manaraefan found they were facing the armoured warriors of the local eorl's hearth troop, some of the younger warriors were nervous and feared that they would be defeated.  Hrothgar was on the right of the Manaraefan line and saw that there was a gap between the hearth troop's flank and the rest of their fyrd.  Hrothgar told the warrior from Ousekjarr on his right to attack the fyrd while he turned around the hearth troop's flank.  When the Host advanced Hrothgar knocked the hearth warrior’s spear aside and drove Orcblender through his mail, he then struck the next as Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer buried his spear in the hearth warriors groin.  Moving steadily down the line Hrothgar killed or distracted the entire hearth troop bar two, the last two hearth warriors turned on him and Hrothgar was wounded in the shoulder and had to withdraw from the fight.

             About this time Halla of the Manaraefan sent Ulfbjorn Arrow-breaker from her home.  Also Samathora of the Manaraefan and Geira of the Manaraefan joined the Manaraefan.

             Hrothgar was offered much silver by Aethelred, the Ynglingalish king, to train some of his warriors of Wilton Scir.  Hrothgar took the king's silver and with the help of Aslac Vomiter, Kormak the Carter and Dagfiend Scoffa he gave the Ynglingalish warriors the benefit of his experience.  The Ynglingalish were greatly surprised by how hard they had to work and how fierce were the warriors of the Manaraefan, some of them ran away from Aslac Vomiter and Dagfiend Scoffa, Hrothgar had to go after them and calm them before they would continue.

             Dagfiend Scoffa went on her way and shortly after Hrothgar, Aslac Vomiter and Kormak the Carter left the warriors of Wilton Scir and set out for home.  As they passed through a wood they were set upon by six warriors, undaunted the Manaraefan warriors attacked their enemies.  The enemy were no match for them and were soon all killed or had fled, none of the three were wounded and they were able to continue their journey unmolested.

 

The Raven Banner

 

             The Host next descended upon Peter's Burgh where Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson led the Host in sacking that place.  The Manaraefan were there and fought valiantly in the shield wall and here first raised the Raven Banner.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker, Valgard Toebreaker, Hrothgar Bokraeder, Red Orm the Aged, Kormak the Carter, Totra the Lonely, Dagfiend Scoffa, Gorstag the Butcher, Gari of the Manaraefan, Frodi of the Manaraefan and Aslac Vomiter all fought under the Raven Banner which was carried by Bjorki of the Manaraefan.  They were joined by Ulf the Dauntless of Northumbria and Gunnar of the Valhalla Ulfhednar.  Astrid Bear, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Halla of the Manaraefan, Geira of the Manaraefan, Dwynwen of the Manaraefan and Muirigan Legbiter went also to support the warriors in their camp.  Knut Guthrothrsson, Thorfin Hrothgarsson, Freyja Ulfbjornsdotta,, Dag Ulfbjornsson and Olof Ulfbjornsdotta were also to be found in the camp of the Host.

             Here a berserk from the Herred Tyrslyth charged the enemy shield wall, though he was a big man and launched himself through the air with great force, he was unable to break their line.  The enemy held their shield wall with great strength, the berserk struck it as if he had run into a wall of stone and lay unconscious before it until the battle was won by the Host.

             At first Hrothgar fought with his bow but latter put it aside and joined the Manaraefan shield wall.  While using his bow Hrothgar shot down one of the enemies mightiest hearth warriors at a great distance.  This warrior was named Rosselred, he was clad in mail from head to foot and held a great shield; Hrothgar's arrow found the only gap in his armour and hit the warrior in the face.  Some said that the wind helped his arrow to hit but Hrothgar claimed the credit for himself alone.

             After defeating the defenders of Peter's Burgh Thorgrim Sigmundsson held an Althing where many weighty matters were discussed.  Hrothgar spoke for the Konungr when the people of the Host asked questions about the warriors of the Host, and Halgerd Eiricsdotta told them how much treasure the Host had taken from their foes.

             As was the custom when the Host came together there were competitions amongst the warriors, Hrothgar won the prize for archery and Orm Longarm for skill at arms.

             There was a great wind while the Host fought their foes and afterwards.  The people of the Host had to struggle to stop their camp being blown away.  When celebrating their victory over the defenders of Peter's Burgh Aslac Vomiter lived up to his name.

             Ffeg was a warrior that Gorstag the Butcher introduced to the Manaraefan, he talked a good deal as if he knew much about the Host. As he wished to join the Manaraefan and the Host Valgard Toebreaker took him aside with another new warrior to test their metal.  Ffeg displayed some skill but was not able to control his weapons in the manner in which warriors of the Host were expected.  Valgard Toebreaker told Fegg that he was welcome to train with the Manaraefan until he was skilled enough to join them, but Ffeg would have none of it.  He went off and sulked and allowed his anger to grow inside him.  He then threatened Samathora of the Manaraefan with an axe and said he would strike Valgard Toebreaker in the face with it.  Valgard Toebreaker was very angry and Gorstag the Butcher had to take Ffeg away before his blood was shed.

             Hrothgar and Muirigan Legbiter then went to Aylesbury and there met Valgard Toebreaker, Astrid Bear, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Kormak the Carter, Totra the Lonely and Bjorki of the Manaraefan, Sigurd the Scared was there also as was Hedde of Mercia and Boon the Hun.  Together they joined raiders from Brittany and raided up the Medway, they were much troubled in their business by the attentions of two oddly clad warriors.  One of these two had cow’s horns on his helmet and called his companion Carrot.  The one called Carrot asked Hrothgar to show him how to use a bow and proved to be a quick learner.  Despite these distractions the raid up the Medway proved very profitable to the warriors of the Manaraefan.

 

Jorvik

 

             The Host next went to Jorvik where they joined Harald Hydro, a great warrior from Norroway, to fight his enemy Harold Goodlessson.  This Harold Goodlessson was an eorl and relative of king Aethelred, when he heard that Harald Hydro had attacked and defeated the people of Jorvik he set out on a speedy march to drive him away again.  Many of the Manaraefan went to Jorvik, Hrothgar, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Red Orm the Aged, Halfdan Eiriksson, Eirik the Down-Trodden, Kormak the Carter, Dagfiend Scoffa, Totra the Lonely, Halla of the Manaraefan, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Geira of the Manaraefan, Gari of the Manaraefan and Dani of the Manaraefan all took their stand with the Host there.

             When the Host met before Jorvik they held their usual games, Hrothgar won the prize for archery on the first day but Eirik the Bowyer won it the second day.  Orm Longarm again took the prize fought for by the warriors.  While the Host and the force of Harald Hydro rested and played their games the Saxon Harold Goodlessson came upon them with all his men.

             To get at the Vikingar the Saxons had to cross a bridge, this bridge was held by Sigurd Thorfinsson.  He would not let any of the Saxons past him and many of them would never return to their homes.  Eventually one of the Saxons crawled under the bridge and wounded Sigurd Thorfinsson with a thrust from below with a spear.  Though wounded Sigurd Thorfinsson had held up the Saxons long enough for the Vikingar to ready themselves for battle.

             Hrothgar at first fought with his bow as was his want, but half way through the battle Keitel, who led the right wing of Harald Hydro's army where the Manaraefan fought disappeared.  Hrothgar then took up the leadership of the right wing, he placed himself in the centre of the line with Kormak the Carter to his right and a brave warrior of Harald Hydro 's on his left.  Hrothgar ordered his friend Ulf the Dauntless to be his second and to keep the younger warriors to their work.

             Hrothgar found that the mantle of leadership had fallen to him when the enemy greatly outnumbered his warriors; he had no time to speculate as to whether this explained the absence of Keitel.  Harald Hydro ordered the Host to attack with Boars Snouts and Hrothgar led his warriors at the foe, the strength of the enemy prevented the Vikingar attack from breaking through but so fierce was their assault that the Saxons were unable to do more than hold their line.

             Harald Hydro ordered his force and the Host to fall back and rest before taking up the fight again.  When all were rested the Saxons took up the attack as Harold Goodlessson ordered his warriors into the fray.  This was a strong attack and Hrothgar's warriors started to fall, even Ulf the Dauntless was wounded.  At this Hrothgar led a fierce counter attack and screaming curses at the Saxons drove them back with savage blows from Orcblender.  As he did so Harald Hydro did the same but was less fortunate than Hrothgar, an enemy archer shot Harald Hydro in the throat as he rushed from the protection of his hearth troop.  The foes were driven back but Harald Hydro lay bleeding his life away with the bodies of his hearth warriors about him.

             The Saxons then attacked again, but as they did so Hrothgar again charged into them wielding Orcblender with great might, he slew many, as did his warriors.  Though outnumbered they first held the enemy and then drove them back, but only two other warriors still stood with Hrothgar when they did.  Seeing that all was up for Harald Hydro's force Hrothgar decided to lead his survivors through the enemy to safety.  Making a small Boars Snout they charged the foe and bust through them to make their escape.  The other warriors of the Manaraefan also managed to make their way from the battle but they brought wounds away with them.

             Shortly after this Ragnar Thorskal, Jarl of Tyrslith, gave up the leadership of his Herred, Gudrun Bjornsdottir then became Sturaesman of the Herred.

 

With the Franks

 

             Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson then led the Host south to the aid of Oward Piles whose lands near Hastingas had been invaded by Bjorn Styrbjornsson and his army.  Most of the Host rode to the south as was their custom; others though thought that they would display their strength by marching on foot.  They were led by Od Haroldsson, Jarl of Hrafnsdale and stopped off at the homes of the Host as they went, they were well cared for at each of their resting places but their feet were sorely used.

             When the Host arrived on Oward Piles' lands they were met by warriors of Hugh Capet, king of the Franks, it was their custom to fight while mounted on horseback.  The night that they all arrived they celebrated the gathering of such a great force by drinking the strong ale provided by the people of Oward Piles' lands.  Erling Rigsson consumed so much that he was unsteady on his feet, as he tried to find his bed he fell into a water filled pit.  He was stunned by his fall and lost some valuable property.  Many other warriors came to the aid of Oward Piles and there was much confusion trying to sort out who would fight where.  During the preparations for the battle Eirik the Down-Trodden fell as he came down a hill and broke his arm, he was greatly put out that he would not be able to fight with the Host. Valgard Toebreaker had torn the sole off his boot so Eirik the Down-Trodden lent him his as he had no use for them while his arm was broken. Hedde of Mercia and Valgard Toebreaker spent much time before the battle to come teaching a cook to fight.  This man had never fought before but decided that he would not miss such a great battle as was in the offing.

             Guthrothr Belly-Shaker took the Manaraefan to their place on the left of the line under the leadership of Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer.  Hrothgar had command of the archers in the centre of the Host where Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson stood.  This was the first time that Styrkar the Polite took her place in the shield wall of the Host.

             Bjorn Styrbjornsson's army stood atop a hill and the Host marched up the hill to attack them.  Bjorn's army stood their ground and, as the Host was driven back, Sigurd the Exposed was captured by them.  Valgard Toebreaker was surprised to find that he was fighting a blue man who threatened to cut Valgard Toebreaker up and cook him.  As Kormak the Carter stepped forward towards the enemy his axe shaft was cut in half and his shield cut in twain by two mighty blows from a Saxon warrior.  The Frankish cavalry then charged the defenders of the hill but had as little success as the infantry of the Host. When the Franks retired Hrothgar led the archers forward and they loosed many volleys into the enemy shield wall.  Though Bjorn's warriors began to fall to the Hosts arrows they still stood on their hill.  Hedde of Mercia called to Hrothgar that there was an archer among them that was not obeying the commands Hrothgar was giving, when Hrothgar looked to see who it was he was surprised to see Stuvart, the ex-Jarl of Norrovik.  Hrothgar ordered Stuvart to obey his orders but Stuvart just left the field of battle spluttering with anger.

             The cavalry, infantry and archers took their turns at attacking the defenders of the hill and many ploys were made to tempt them off.  Magnus Thorkelsson led his part of the Host in a feigned retreat and some of the enemy pursued them, Sigurd the Exposed managed to get away to run down the hill with them and return to the Host. Those of Bjorn Styrbjornsson's army that pursued Magnus Thorkelsson and his warriors fared badly when Magnus Thorkelsson stopped to fight, very few were able to get back up the hill.

             The Frankish Duke rode up to Hrothgar and asked him to loose at the enemy as he led his knights on their next charge.  With the archers raining down arrows upon them and the knights charging their front, the defenders of the hill were broken up and the warriors of the Host broke in among them and started to slaughter them in great numbers.  Many were slain but Bjorn Styrbjornsson was not among their number.

             When he returned to their camp Hrothgar found that Muirigan Legbiter was very ill and they had to return to their home.

 

The marriage of Lief Tyrsson and Freya

 

             After their great victory in the south many of the Host went north to Dublin there to witness the marriage of Jarl Lief Tyrsson and Freya the Puddle.  There was some confusion among the guests when they were asked by Jarl Thorgill if they had come to support Lief Tyrsson or Freya the Puddle, they answered that they had come to support both.  Thorgill insisted that they take one position or the other so the guests divided themselves into two equal parties.  Hrothgar and Muirigan Legbiter were among the guests as were Halgerd Eiricsdotta and Sigurd the Scared, Valgard Toebreaker and Astrid Bear.  Valgard Toebreaker and Astrid Bear had much trouble on their journey and were greatly delayed by bad roads; they only just arrived in time for the celebrations after the ceremonies of the wedding.

             Gudrun Bjornsdottir, Sturaesman of Tyrslith, and Ragnar Thorskal held a banquet for Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson and the Host. There was a good deal of ale, so much so that it was served in buckets.  Ragnar Thorskal had brought a Moorish dancer to entertain the Konungr and the Host, large areas of naked flesh were visible through her costume and the warriors of the Host could not take their eyes away from the sight of her.  The musicians that accompanied her were so taken with her beauty that they sometimes forgot to play their instruments!  The dancer went close to Grim Swiftkiller and brushed him with her veils, he was greatly discomfited as he was sat next to his good wife.  Kveldulf Brittle-bones got up and danced with the Moor much to the amusement of the Host.

             Hrothgar went with Styrkar the Polite, Kormak the Carter, Sigurd the Exposed and Dagfiend Scoffa to Searoburg.  As they made their way there they were set upon by Saxons and a sharp fight ensued.  The fight went well for the warriors of the Manaraefan but Styrkar Rattle Snake found herself pinned against a tree by a warrior who was much heavier than her, as Hrothgar approached she said, "Would you be so kind as to kill this man please?"  Hrothgar did as she requested and after that she was known as Styrkar the Polite.

             Valgard Toebreaker and Astrid Bear held a feast at their home to celebrate the end of a successful years campaigning for the Manaraefan.  On their way there Hrothgar, Styrkar the Polite, Kormak the Carter, Sigurd the Exposed and Dagfiend Scoffa passed through a dark wood, here they were set upon by fell creatures with weapons that spat light.  The warriors of the Manaraefan soon overcame their surprise and fought back; they took weapons from their foes and used the light spitters upon their owners.  When they had fought their way from the dark wood they continued to Valgard Toebreaker's stead, there was so much food that the tables were in danger of collapsing under the weight of the fare.  Afterwards Hrothgar, Styrkar the Polite, Kormak the Carter, Sigurd the Exposed, Dagfiend Scoffa and Gari of the Manaraefan went to clear Bordon Wood of brigands.  It was raining and took some time to find the brigands as they were well hidden, Hrothgar, Sigurd the Exposed and Gari of the Manaraefan were sent off on the wrong track by a peasant woman of addled wits.  When the brigands were found there was a bitter fight, Hrothgar was backed into some bushes by three of the enemy but was never the less able to kill them and go to the aid of the other Manaraefan warriors.  All the brigands were killed and the woods were safe for Manaraefan to roam.

 

996      Wulfstan was instated as bishop of London.  Hugh Capet died on the 14th day of October this year; he was succeeded by his son Robert who was the second to bear that name as king of the Franks.  Otto invaded Italy and deposed Pope John and set his cousin Bruno in his place, Bruno took the name Gregory and was the fifth of that name.  Otto was then crowned as emperor and was the third of that name.  Thorvald sailed from Greenland to Vinland but was killed there by the Skraelings who shot him with an arrow.

             Ragnar Thorskal left the Host at this time and took his henchman Pid with him, he no longer felt that he could follow Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson.  For some time he had spoken loudly in counsels of the Host, he often brought good ideas before these counsels and many were acted upon.  Sadly he lacked the gift to persuade people by words alone and often was shouted down when people did not understand his meaning. 

             At this time Thorgrim Sigmundsson’s Host consisted of the Herreds Aescesdun, Aescinga,  Amounderness, Cwmmwd Ial, Dahrg de Belne, Danelaw, Dunholm, Hrafnsdale, Jotunheim, Medeswael, Mercia, Northumbria, Ormsheim, Tyrslith, the Valhalla Ulfhednar, the Wolves of Andred, and Y'Draig; also the Lethangs Bana-Ora, Draum Broedr, Heordwerod, Hrafns Banner, Hwicce, Jorvik, the Manaraefan, Norvik Hrafnswyrd, Norvik Ulfstahm, Ousekjarr, Scots, Suth Sexena, Vanaheim, Vara Tuatha, Warriors of the Old Gods and Yddlir.

 

Displays of skill

 

             Orm Longarm, Lief Tyrsson and Eirik the Bowyer went raiding with the Lethang Hwicce and took note of their skill before reporting their deeds to the Konungr.  Millicent of Ousekjarr, Gorm Red-beard and Inga Somwonsdottir went with the Manaraefan as they raided the luckless inhabitants of Hamtun Scir; they too reported to the Konungr the skill with which the Manaraefan dealt with the Saxons.  Kormak the Carter stood close on Hrothgar's left as they fought the defenders of Hamtun Scir; a brave foe forced him back and then struck at Hrothgar.  Hrothgar brought his shield quickly back to block the blow and as he did so Kormak the Carter stepped forward, as well as blocking the enemies attack the shield struck Kormak the Carter's head and cut his ear very badly.  After the battle Kormak the Carter's ear was sewn up so that it might heal. 

             Hrothgar again gathered Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson's Thegns at Hrothgarsstadir; they planned the coming year’s campaigns.  Shortly after this the Konungr called his Jarls to Norrovik where they advised him on many subjects.

             As was the custom there was a great feast for the Host at this time of the year.  This year Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson was unable to hold the feast himself as he was abroad with his father.  Ottar Haraldsson, who was his right hand man, represented the Konungr at the feast held at Jorvik.  The Lethengs Hwicce and Manaraefan were raised up to be Herreds of the Host, their Sturaesmen, Boon the Hun and Guthrothr Belly-Shaker were created Jarls.  Totra the Lonely of the Manaraefan was accepted as a Drengr of the Host. Many of the Host received gifts in recognition of their deeds performed in the Host's name; Orm Longarm received a fine gift of silver.

             Hrothgar and Kormak the Carter went together to clear out thieves and robbers that were again haunting the woods about Bordon.  They moved stealthily about the wood and laid in wait for the brigands, they then leaped out upon them and forced them to fight or flee.  Though always outnumbered they won every fight.  The robbers set an ambush for Hrothgar and Kormak the Carter but they leaped out and attacked a swine herder in error, seeing this Hrothgar and Kormak the Carter attacked vigorously and slew them all. 

 

A quiet althing

 

             Shortly after this the Host of Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson gathered at Waelsby, near Snottingaham, here Hrothgar took charge of warriors and, with the help of the Konugr's Thegns, prepared them for coming campaigns.  Many young warriors learnt the wisdom of battle from their betters at this place.  This was also the site of the Host's Spring Althing, there was little said here as the Host was satisfied with the success of the previous year’s campaigns and was looking forward to the next.  After Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson had addressed the Host there were none that wished to bring a case before the Althing, even Jarl Caradoc who usually brought complaints before the Althing was silent. 

 

The sacred grove

 

             The next day the Host campaigned against the Saxons in the region, Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan here.  Valgard Toebreaker, Kormak the Carter, Gorstag the Butcher, Thorgrim Caretaker and Snorri Slaphednarsson all took their place in the battle line.  They fought well and Hrothgar did much useful work with his bow, he was often called upon to shoot enemy warriors who refused to come into the open to fight.  Though his foes hid themselves amongst trees and bushes of a Sacred Grove his arrows sought them out and tolled their doom.  One surly Saxon tried to hide behind his shield which was too small for him; he bent his body nearly double in an attempt to avoid Hrothgar's arrows but to no avail.  The warriors of the Host eventually forced their way into the Sacred Grove and were brought up short, facing them was a strong line of Saxon warriors that stood silently before them.  For a moment they thought that they would be overwhelmed by this unexpectedly large body of the enemy, but then they saw that the Saxons had propped the bodies of their dead against the trees of the Sacred Grove and they were of no danger to them.  When they had defeated the Saxons who had tried to hide in the Sacred Grove the Host went in search of other enemies.  Hrothgar went ahead to seek out any foes before the Host fell into a trap, he was seen by the enemy and some of them tried to kill him.  Hrothgar was able to elude them and re-join part of the Host, he then found himself with warriors of Cwmmwd Ial who were hard pressed by an enemy with red and white shields.  They fell back from them while fighting; Hrothgar shot many arrows into the Saxons to check their pursuit.  Eventually they were able to join up with the rest of the Host.

             In another fight the Manaraefan had the honour of taking their place on the right, they boldly advanced upon the foe and slew all who opposed them.  The enemy had taken a position on a hill but it did them no good, Kormak the Carter protected Hrothgar from a Saxon archer while he shot down the foe.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and Valgard Toebreaker led the others at the Saxon's front and with arrows striking their shields they were ground down by the Manaraefan. 

 

In the land of the Moors

 

             Hrothgar, Muirigan Legbiter, Thorfin Hrothgarsson, Sigurd the Scared, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Rebecca Sigurdsdottir, Skallagrim Baldpate, Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer, Millicent of Ousekjarr, Steinthor Freygrimsson and Asa Ashvorda took ship to the land of the Moors.  Their ship came ashore near the town of Estepona and they made camp near the beach.

             When they went in search of supplies they found that the land was in the grip of a famine and little food could be had.  They heard that there was a stock of fish held in a nearby town, they set off to take what they needed but found the Rio Manilva in their path.  Hrothgar wanted to cross the river where they came upon it but the others insisted on finding a bridge.  They marched up the left bank until they found a bridge and crossed, they then fell upon the Moorish town and took all the fish they could carry.  They returned to their camp along the beach and again came to the Rio Manilva, this time they agreed with Hrothgar that they should cross where they were.  They got across with little difficulty, only a few of them had wet feet.

             Millicent of Ousekjarr, who had raided here before, suggested that they attack the town of Cessares.  This place was high in the mountains and protected by a castle, despite this Millicent of Ousekjarr assured them that it was prosperous and that the warriors in the castle were few in number and not likely to be on their guard.  They set off for Cessares up a long and winding path, as they ascended the mountain the winds grew stronger; when they arrived they could hardly stand against the force of the wind.  The inhabitants were all in their houses and the guards seemed to be asleep.  The warriors of the Host descended upon them and swept through the town and into the castle.  The Moors fled from them and they were able to take what they wanted.  Only when they entered one of the Moorish shrines were they set upon by any of the inhabitants.  A mad woman attacked them and not wishing to offend the Moorish god they fended her of and left her unharmed.

             After they returned to their camp they decided that they would visit Sultan, the ruler of the Moors, and see if he would pay them to go away.  They set off for the city of Grenada and though the journey was long they had no difficulty getting into the city.  Once there it took them some time to find the Alhambra which is where Sultan lived.  They found Sultan's palace to be full of men and women wondering about and looking into all sorts of places where they had no business.  The warriors of the Host announced their presence but could make no sense of the babble of the people there.  They did as everyone else was doing and looked for Sultan but were unable to find him, eventually they decided to return to their camp.

             Not having been paid to go away they decided to attack the mountain town of Ronda.  They made another long march up into the mountains and fell upon the town as the inhabitants were preparing for a festival.  They took much booty from the Moors and discovered a great store of weapons, some of which were of very strange design. When they returned from their raid they found that there supplies were much depleted, when they set off to re-victual they discovered that the famine had got worse.  By a diligent search they were able to find hidden stocks of food which they took from the Moors.

 

Sigurd the Scared makes a new name for himself

 

             Hrothgar, Muirigan Legbiter and Thorfin Hrothgarsson went out by themselves and were attacked by the Moors who had finally managed to put together a force against the warriors of the Host. Hrothgar saw a Moorish tower and the three of them ran to it, Hrothgar defend the doorway against the enemy while Thorfin Hrothgarsson waved his shirt towards their camp to call for help.  Hrothgar was slowly forced to the top of the tower and the three of them defended this last refuge until the warriors from their camp came to their rescue.  Sigurd the Scared scaled the cliff behind the tower to get at the Moors, they hurled rocks at him but he climbed on undeterred.  Sigurd the Scared threw his spear before him impaling a Moor, it was then at hand when he reached the top.  Later Hrothgar said he should be known as Sigurd the Climber after this.  Steinthor Freygrimsson was the first through the door of the tower and Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer was the first to fight his way to the top to rescue Hrothgar, Muirigan Legbiter and Thorfin Hrothgarsson.  Skallagrim Baldpate, Millicent of Ousekjarr and Asa Ashvorda did sterling service and slew many of the Moors in the tower.  Shortly after the rescue they returned to their ship and sailed away.

 

Quest for gold

 

             Totra the Lonely announced that she would hold a feast at her home in Bordon.  Knowing that her guests would have to find their way through the dangerous Dark Woods of Bordon, she and Valgard Toebreaker met Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer and his followers, Owen of Ousekjarr and Grim of Ousekjarr, at the edge of the wood. As they set of through the wood Magnus Thorkelsson was nervous and thought he saw enemies behind every bush.  They proceeded for a fair distance with no incident interrupting their journey.  They heard the screams of a woman and the shouts of men; they advanced with bold circumspection towards the sounds.  They came upon a bride of Christ being attacked and robbed by the usual disreputable denizens of Bordon Wood.  The four robbers left the nun beaten and sobbing and approached Magnus Thorkelsson and Valgard Toebreaker as they led the others towards them.  After a brief conversation the warriors of the Host attacked the robbers, one of whom immediately ran for his life.  The fight was short; the robbers were soon all slain and little harm came to their attackers.

             Magnus Thorkelsson spoke to the nun but could not understand her words as she only had Latin and he only had one word.  He did understand that she was the Divine Millicent, after much to-do it became clear that she was concerned for the loss of the property she had with her.  It was not clear what this was but when she said the word Magnus Thorkelsson understood they decided that they should try to find her property.  They now had a quest to find a robber with gold. 

             Abandoning the Divine Millicent to fend for herself in the dark and dangerous Bordon Wood they set off in pursuit of the robber.  They followed a path that ran alongside a sinister stream filled with strange unidentified objects, as the path crossed a tributary they came upon a giant guarding the bridge.  The giant announced himself to be Ben, the Guardian of the Bridge; none were to pass unless they could answer his riddle.  Each of the warriors were allowed to answer his question, if any got it right he would let them all pass.  Ben's riddle was "Four limbs on a great bone plate, fingers and toes, when is my birthday?"  Magnus Thorkelsson was the first to try the riddle but guessed wrong; disgusted he wandered off to seek another place to cross the stream.  Valgard Toebreaker was the next to try but fared no better, the last was Grim of Ousekjarr who correctly solved the riddle.  The giant Ben stepped aside to allow the warriors of the Host to pass, as he did so Magnus Thorkelsson burst out of the trees and struck him with his spear.  The others shouted that they were allowed to pass but it was too late, the giant was enraged and attacked them all.  The five of them all now set too and hacked at the giant until he lay at their feet in pieces.

             They then continued to follow the path they were on until they came upon the bodies of two woodsmen, one was dead but when Magnus Thorkelsson used his spear to lift the hand of the other it was clear that he was still alive.  They gathered around the wounded woodsman and gave him water, before he died the woodsman told them they had been attacked and robbed by brigands who had seemed very pleased with themselves, with his dying breath he pointed out the path they had taken. 

             The brave band left the woodsmen's bodies to the wolves and returned to their quest for gold.  Following the path indicated by the woodsman they came to a fork in the path, while they discussed which route to follow they heard sounds of a commotion and took the path thus indicated.  They discovered two women suffering the unwanted attentions of four warriors; after making polite enquiries it became obvious that there interest in the affairs of others was not appreciated.  When the women ran off their molesters grew angry and a fight ensued, blows and insults were exchanged freely but the enraged molesters were no match for warriors of the Host.

             They searched the bodies but found little of value, two of the molesters were still alive but they quickly despatched them.  They had no idea of where to go next until Valgard Toebreaker discovered a path in the direction that the women had run off in.  They followed this path until they came, by good fortune, upon the camp of Divine Millicent's robbers.  The robbers challenged them to pass by unharmed or to fight.  The warriors of the Host could not refuse such a challenge and determined to fight.  Valgard Toebreaker goaded the robbers and challenged one of them to fight him in single combat, a young robber stepped forward to fight much to the disgust of his chief.  This young warrior was killed by Valgard Toebreaker but gave him a bad cut to the chest, Totra the Lonely bound his wound and he re-joined the others against the robbers.  The warriors of the Host now attacked the robbers and slew them all, Valgard Toebreaker was again wounded and so was Grim of Ousekjarr, but they all survived.  When they searched the robbers they found Divine Millicent's gold, this was a large crucifix with a piece of the True Cross embedded in the cross piece.  The pagans prised the relic from the cross and threw it away.

             Shortly after they had divided up the loot Hrothgar came upon them and they all continued their journey to Totra the Lonely's home.  Along the way they had more encounters with the denizens of Bordon Wood and Hrothgar shot many of them with his bow.

             After the feast at Totra the Lonely's place the guests went with the Manaraefan to a market in Bordon, this was a poor affair with few traders.  There was some rowdiness and a little trouble there but nothing came of it.

 

Death of eorls

 

             The Host of Thorgrim Sigmundsson then gathered at Saffron Waldon to pillage the Saxons there, Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan to join him.  The Manaraefan took their stand on the left of the Host's shield wall and fought well against the enemy; Hrothgar led those that were to harry the enemy and was first on the field of battle.  As was his wont, Hrothgar shot down many of the foe with his bow and paid great attention to their leaders.  The Saxons had gathered upon a hill to meet the Host in a place favourable to them.  Thorgrim Sigmundsson, canny in battle, took the Host through the forest and came out of the trees behind them.  Hrothgar led his warriors in a rush at the Saxons and with arrows raining down on them drove them in confusion from their hill. 

             Before the Saxons realised that they had been chased off by only a handful of warriors, the rest of the Host formed their array behind Hrothgar's troop.  The Saxons determined to take their hill back and launched many desperate attacks, each time they did so they were driven off.  Hrothgar's troop fought well and having defeated those opposed to them turned upon the Saxons to their right, as they did so Hrothgar shot the fat Saxon eorl leading them.  This warrior was dressed in drab grey garments and had the misfortune to have his manhood shot away by Hrothgar's arrow, his life blood drained away quickly and he presently departed this world.  Soon the Host was able to advance upon the foe and drive their leader and his troop from the field.  This eorl, Gaelbank, was old in years and was greatly troubled by Hrothgar's arrows, three of which struck him, though his mail shirt was proof against them.  As the battle drew to a close Hrothgar was able to shoot down the last of the Saxon eorls who had kept his troop on the glory field, this warrior was very large and brightly dressed in red clothes.  At about the same time Guthrothr Belly-Shaker was wounded by a Saxon archer, he was shot in the leg but not severely hurt, he recovered soon after the battle.  Some Saxons were braver than their leader; they hung around the edge of the field still looking as if they might fight.  Hrothgar shouted at them to run away or the Host would come and kill them, they took his words as sound advice and went away. 

             Many of the Host then went to into Guined where they aided a valiant prince to defend his home.  Muirigan Legbiter and Thorfin Hrothgarsson went there and took much booty from the princes enemies.  Grim of Ousekjarr and a warrior of Draum Brodir had for some time been in feud with each other, here they came to blows and had to be separated else one should kill the other.

             Ragnar Thorskal went on an expedition to the Holy Roman Empire and Sturaesman Orm Wulfhar led the warriors of Tyrslith there as he and his warriors still owed a duty of loyalty to Ragnar Thorskal.  Thorgeir Havarsson Coalbrowskald the Mercenary went with them, he took many trade goods with him and there was a falling out between him and the others.  The other warriors felt that he spent too much time trading and not enough helping them to raid the Germans.  There was much ill feeling and Pid, a henchman of Ragnar Thorskal, threatened to abandon Thorgeir Havarsson amongst the enemy if he did not change his ways.  Thorgeir Havarsson did as was asked of him but took the matter further on his return to Ynglingaland.

             About this time Kormak the Carter was given the name the Carter, this was because where ever he went he took a cart in which all manner of things that he might have use of were to be found.  Kormak the Carter was often heard to offer to carry weapons and other gear for the Manaraefan and many of them were happy to let him do so. 

 

Alliance

 

             On the advice of Oward Piles Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson made a treaty with Bjorn Styrbjornsson and together the Host and Bjorn's army invaded North Hamtun Scir.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker again led the Manaraefan to join the Host and with him were Hrothgar Bokraeder, Karri Two-ways, Red Orm the Aged, Snorri Slaphednarsson, Aslac Vomiter, Freya the Fecund, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Kormak the Carter, Sigurd the Exposed and Totra the Lonely.  Dagfiend Scoffa, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Knut Guthrothrsson, Halla of the Manaraefan, Olof Ulfbjornsdotta, Dag Ulfbjornsson and Freyja Ulfbjornsdotta were there also to tend to the warriors needs. 

             As the Host gathered part of it was surprised by the enemy, Skallagrim Baldpate led a part of the Host and had just met with Magnus Thorkelsson the Killer and his warriors when a large force of Saxons came upon them.  Orm Longarm immediately made off in search of the rest of the Host, some might have taken this for cowardice but his fame as a brave warrior was well known.  As the foe advanced Hrothgar, Boon the Hun, Mikan the Dane, Hedde of Mercia and Owen of Ousekjarr all took their bows and shot many arrows at them.  The Saxons responded with javelins and darts, Caradoc then led a small band of warriors to help the archers harass the enemy and drive off their skirmishers.  The remainder of the Host formed a shield wall and prepared to fight hard to save their honour and lives. 

             Just as the Saxons were ready to attack Orm Longarm led the remainder of the Host from the forest to join those already on the field.  Orm Longarm had found them in deep argument with the keeper of a bridge that had to be crossed.  The bridge keeper would not let them pass and it was not possible for the Host to force their way across, the bridge keeper was well armed and in a strong position.  When Orm Longarm came up from behind the bridge keeper saw the wisdom of letting them pass.  With the warriors of the Host that Orm Longarm led was the army of Bjorn Styrbjornsson and together they were a match for the Saxons.  The Manaraefan fought well and held their place in the line with honour.  Hrothgar again shot down many of the enemy but the battle was desperate and he used all his arrows, he then drew Orcblender and fought on.  Magnus Thorkelsson was wounded and fell to the ground before Hrothgar; Hrothgar stepped over him and saved him from being stabbed to death by the Saxon spears.  Hrothgar was then wounded as he defended Magnus Thorkelsson and had not the Host driven off the enemy he might then have been killed. 

             After their victory the Host of Konungr Thorgrim Sigmundsson and the army of Bjorn Styrbjornsson celebrated long into the night, great quantities of ale and mead were drunk and cattle were slaughtered to provide for a feast. That night Thorgrim Sigmundsson called his High Counsel together to discuss weighty matters; here they learnt that the Host and the army of Bjorn Styrbjornsson were to raid different places on the morrow, they would meet again at a convenient place after taking what loot they could from the local Saxons.  Hrothgar was not greatly impressed with this plan but could not find any justifiable objection to it. 

 

Betrayal

 

             The next day the Host went out and took much booty from the lands around their camp and then made their way to the appointed meeting place.  When they got there they were surprised to see Bjorn Styrbjornsson's army drawn up in battle array, all were well armed and many had strong mail shirts.  Not all of the Host were with Thorgrim Sigmundsson as he had sent a goodly proportion to raid further afield; this included the better part of the Host who possessed mail shirts.  As the Host walked towards Bjorn Styrbjornsson's army they grew uneasy and quickly formed a shield wall just out of bow shot.  The Host's suspicions were confirmed when a body of spearmen attacked them, they now knew their enemy.  From the first things went badly for the Host, the enemy’s spearmen proved stronger than those sent against them.  Then the rest of Bjorn Styrbjornsson's army attacked, Hrothgar stood in the line with the Manaraefan and traded many blows with the foe.  Those that faced the Manaraefan were well armed and armoured; their mail shirts were so strong that they proved impervious to all Hrothgar's blows.  No other warrior of the Host was able to kill or wound any foe wearing a mail shirt.  The enemies’ weapons were also strong and they inflicted many wounds with them, Bjorn Frie was grievously wounded in the face but fortunately he survived. 

             Hrothgar moved about the line of battle and always found he was fighting mailed warriors, wherever he went he was unable to hurt any of the enemy and was himself wounded three times.  He then came upon Orm Longarm lying senseless upon the ground and roused him with a shake.  Hrothgar told him that this betrayal was too much to take, if they did not take the Host away from this place there would be none left to fight again.  Then, in a rage, Hrothgar attacked some enemy warriors who called for him to surrender, he and a few others drove back this group of betrayers who were about to fall upon the rear of the Host. Then, sullenly, the survivors of the Host gathered themselves together and left the field in the possession of Bjorn's army. 

             Hrothgar sought out Thorgrim Sigmundsson and told him that he would not trust Bjorn Styrbjornsson again.  As they talked Sigurd the Climber came and reported the Host's casualties, more of the Host had been killed or wounded in that single battle than in all the battles of the previous year.  Others also told the Konungr of their dissatisfaction with the situation and he resolved not to allow it to happen again.

             Shortly after this Valgard Toebreaker and Astrid Bear held a feast at their stead in Alton, many of the Manaraefan were there and they discussed the resent events, they also made plans for their coming raids.

             It was at about this time that Ragnar of the Manaraefan and Freya Horn Blower joined the Manaraefan.

 

Raids

 

             Guthrothr Belly-Shaker then planned a raid on the town of Yiewsley, he had heard that the people of that place were to have a trade fair and felt that there would be rich pickings. Hrothgar Bokraeder, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Styrkar the Polite, Snorri Slaphednarsson, Red Orm the Aged, Thorgrim Caretaker and Totra the Lonely of the Manaraefan joined him there. Thorolf the Tall from the Valhalla Ulfhednar, Asvard of the Suth Sexena and Thorbjorn Bjornsson of the Host also joined the warriors of the Manaraefan.  Halla of the Manaraefan, Olof Ulfbjornsdotta, Dag Ulfbjornsson, Freyja Ulfbjornsdotta, Dagfiend Scoffa and Knut Guthrothrsson all went to service the wants of the warriors.  Kormak the Carter would have taken part in the raid but for accidental circumstance.

             Kormak the Carter and Dagfiend Scoffa were sailing in Dagfiend Scoffa's ship Redmetro when the stearboard was ripped away by a particularly strong wave.  The ship was foundering and all would have been lost had not Styrkar the Polite's ship Cosmos hove into view, Styrkar Rattle Snake took Dagfiend Scoffa aboard her ship and helped Kormak the Carter to make the Redmetro safe to return to port.  Styrkar the Polite and Dagfiend Scoffa then continued on to join Guthrothr Belly-Shaker while Kormak the Carter took the Redmetro back for repairs, because of this he was late meeting with Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and only arrived as the rest of the Manaraefan were celebrating their success.

             Hrothgar took his long axe on this raid and destroyed many a foes shield before cutting them down, he sometimes cut their hands from their arms when he swung at them with his axe.  Guthrothr Belly-Shaker held his ash shafted spear firmly in his hand and thrust its blade deep into the bodies of his enemies.  Red Orm the Aged also fought with his spear and many fell before it.  The others all used sword or hand axe and sent many on to another world with well-placed blows.  Styrkar the Polite and Asvard of the Suth Sexena were wounded, but only slightly; all the others came away from the fight unharmed and returned to Guthrothr Belly-Shaker's place to divide up the spoils.

             After this Guthrothr Belly-Shaker led the Manaraefan to join Orm Wulfhar to sack the town of Henlow, Red Orm the Aged, Aslac Vomiter, Freya the Fecund, Frodi of the Manaraefan, Kormak the Carter and Snorri Slaphednarsson went there to fight, Halgerd Eiricsdotta, Dagfiend Scoffa and Halla of the Manaraefan, with her brood, went to support the warriors.  Having joined with Orm Wulfhar they then descended upon the hapless inhabitants to Henlow as they were at worship.  The Saxons were trapped in their church and all the men and some of the women were killed there, the surviving women and children were dragged off into slavery and the church and town were thoroughly looted.

             The thane of that part of the country was not slow in gathering a force to pursue the raiders; he was able to capture two of Orm Wulfhar 's warriors who had dallied to long before leaving the town.  The thane had one hanged and the other mutilated, this latter he set free with a message to Orm Wulfhar to fight or be relentlessly pursued.  Orm Wulfhar took council with Guthrothr Belly-Shaker and their warriors and decided to fight.  They waited for the Saxons to catch up with them at a place favourable to their way of war; the Saxons came up and formed their line.  The thane in charge of them offered to let Orm Wulfhar and his warriors go if they handed over their prisoners and booty, naturally Orm Wulfhar refused and a fight ensued.  This was a particularly bloody encounter with many of the enemy gutted as they had no mail.  The warriors of the Host were successful and continued on their way with their prisoners and loot.

 

Magical weapons

 

             Olaf Harroldsson, Jarl of Dahg de Beln, led a raid on the town of Rushden, of the Manaraefan Hrothgar, Kormak the Carter, Sigurd the Exposed, Styrkar the Polite and Dagfiend Scoffa went with the other warriors of the Host who joined Olaf Harroldsson. The town of Rushden was defended by a band of warriors led by lord Robart, they had a strange weapon that spat fire and smoke and caused grievous wounds to the warriors of the Host. These weapons took a long time to prepare for use and the warriors of the Host soon learnt that they could avoid injury if they lay down when