It was another raid.
Just another raid...
He and his brothers in war would assault the castle. Same as the first time, and the time after that.
This Huscarl held his shield while the others swung axes and heave-ho'd the gold back to their ship.
This Huscarl made sure that the cowardly and fear-ridden tin-men didn't get through to the precious cargo after it had been wrought from their ill-deserving stone hall.
After each raid, they would bring the gold back to the ship, and wait. If they didn't wait then the Knights came upon them too soon, and they wouldn't have any time to escape. But when they did wait, they were ready for the storm of arrows.
This Huscarl again held the shield. Ensuring the gold was being placed inside the ship, little by little. Once this had been done, they would toss the half empty chests back to the Knights and sail away from the dock-side market, leaving the Knights to scrabble for the coins they didn't deserve.
At the day's close, this huscarl would repaint his shield, to restore it's glory. He would sharpen his short sword. He would clean his armor, celebrate with his bretheren, and retire. To fight for gold and glory another day.
A Viking's life indeed. But this changed when THEY came...
Sailors in red. Bringing powders of fire, sails of black and a stench of scurvy.
After they came, this Huscarl would be attacked, each time by the same Pirate, each time forced to respond, and each time his brothers would be struck down and the gold they should be carrying would be stolen from them. The Pirate scum would then stab the retreating Knights in the back and steal the gold AGAIN. Laughing as he returned to his ship.
Broken, confused, and discouraged, this Huscarl picked up his fallen freinds and carried them, dragging them at the end, back to their ship. No gold. No glory. No wait. No celebration. No painting. No sharpening.
And no ship.
The Pirates had stolen their ship.
This Huscarl was alone. Robbed. Penniless and surrounded by his wounded brothers. For now, he would wait. For now, he would help his comrades. For now, he would stand guard and ensure no Pirate, no Knight, No ONE would disturb their rest.
For two weeks he stood guard. Only taking sleep for the first time in three days when two of the wounded convinced him that they were all Vikings, and they could all stand guard for each other. Such is the way of brotherhood.
At the second week's close, this Huscarl, this defender among invaders, stepped up to the castle. The sound of rough laughter and the smell of burning in the air. There were no Archers to fire arrows. There were no Knights in their heavy plate-armor to defend with a force that rivaled his own.
He stepped up to the portcullis. He sees the Pirates. Counting the gold that they haven't stolen yet. He sees their barrels of black powder. He sees their swords, their drinks, their bonfires and the Pirate. The one Pirate who had caused all of this, had set in motion the events that had led to his downfall, had broken his defense.
He stepped down from the gate. He knew of a better way, a secret way. Some of his brothers, the elders, had found a way to dig under the castle and take the gold without a fight. Allowing them to fight without worrying about gold for the battle's length.
He steps behind the waterfall, the natural disguise of the entrance, and treads the long walk to the dungeons. The surrounding cave standing as a testament to the Viking's determination, and giving him a kind of courage as he walked.
He steps into the room filled with gold. Filled with an abscence of gold, gold replaced by Knights chained to the walls. This Huscarl ignored them. They had proven once again, unworthy. No, he was here for the Pirates.
He steps out into the throne room. The room once filled with grand statues, more gold, and rich tapisteries. Statues of "heros" a little less pathetic than the imprisoned Knights. Gold, that they didn't deserve and tapisteries that depicted a past that could never have been, a past re-written. To pass-over the fall of the Knights from the greatest fighting force in the land to the prisoners they had now become.
The Pirates go quiet when they see him. Some dart into shadows. Some reach for their weapons. One says "What are you doin' 'ere?" with a sneer painted on his face.
This Huscarl says nothing. He merely takes up his shield and short sword. The Pirates begin to chuckle, then laugh, then howl. This Huscarl screams a battlecry that has been waiting, waiting days for a chance to make itself heard. The Pirates stop laughing. They shrink back. Suddenly they know what stands before them.
As the battlecry ends, this Huscarl gives a mighty shove with his shield to a black powder barrel. Sending it rolling forward towards the Pirates. They scatter like bugs, as the powder keg rolls towards their bonfire. It doesn't reach the flames, but that doesn't matter. This Huscarl has already begun a relentless onslaught.
He smahes a Pirate in the chest, and then face, as he tries to cut the Huscarl with his cutlass. He cuts down another Pirate with his sword. He is pushed back to a wall by the Pirates. He charges forward with his shield. Most of them fall to the ground. The others use powder weapons. The Huscarl deflects the pellets with his shield, and charges forward again, stepping on the fallen Pirates to keep them down. He slashes at the Pirates as they try to put away their powder weapons.
This Huscarl stands, surrounded by fallen foes. Like a true Viking. His breathing is heavy. His shield, once again, scarred. His sword, still sharp. He looks up, up at the one remaining Pirate. The Pirate who started all this. The Pirate that was unable to get behind this Huscarl. Unable to break his defense this time. The Pirate has murder in his eyes. A flintlock in his hand. A keg in his sights. A keg behind the Huscarl.
With another roar, the Huscarl tosses his shield towards the Pirate. It catches him unaware. It flies through the air, spinning, and it hits him full in the face. He falls. Tripping over the keg this Huscarl sent flying forwards before the battle.
This Huscarl walks. He picks up his shield. He moves the keg slightly closer to the bonfire. So the wick catches fire. The Pirate tries to stand. He can't. He tries to crawl. He crawls closer to the fire. He can't think. He can't move away. He can't speak. He can see. Barely. He catches a glimpse of this Huscarl walking away from the castle. His shield on his back.
The wick runs out.
The ship was found, the gold was loaded, all of it this time, and the Vikings left the island upon which the castle stood. Never to return. Shields were repainted. Swords were sharpened. Celebrations were held, celebrations to rival those of Valhalla. This Huscarl...
This Huscarl? He still held the shield. His defense, his defense of the Viking horde, his weapon. He held it when his enemies fled. He held it when his enemies fought back. He held it as he was worn down. He still held it as he lay dying, having defended his brothers one last time. He was holding it when he came to Valhalla. He was welcomed, as all great warriors should be welcomed to the great hall. His shield is now on the wall. Just behind the chair at head of the table. Along the walls are axes, swords, and hammers of all sizes. But only one shield. There it will remain. Ready for Ragnarok.
Based on a true story.