Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Le Chanson de Bob - Chapter II

In which we tell the tale of events after the attack of the cheesy Normans, of Robert Eponge's facing the army of the invader Ubba "The Unready" and his force of hairy plunder-seeking Viking raiders, and of the confrontation that is known to history as "The Battle of Ubba's Mound".

Once more we sing of brave Robert
Who, despite seeing off the cheesy Norman invader
From the borders of his land
Was now under a bit of pressure.

The cost of dispersing that barbarous foe
Had been high
Many were the brave knights of Brittany
That had fallen in that noble endeavour.
And hence many too were the people of Brittany
Who had lost sons and husbands
And who
Quite frankly
Weren't at all happy with the situation.

Questions were being asked
About Robert Eponge
About his right to rule the land
His authority to command the army
And his general level of competence.

Robert himself
Was rightly worried
He sensed his people on the brink of rebellion
And knew he had to do something about it

Worse still
This unfortunate situation
Was apparent to other jealous neighbours
And further abroad,
Even to those in distant lands
For word had spread to all corners of the world
Of the rich pickings of Brittany
There for the taking
For whoever might try
And of its weak defenders
Who could scarcely be considered the equal of warriors of any other nation
Given the rumours of their pathetic showing against the cheesy Normans

These tales reached the eager ears of one
Hairy Viking
Ambitious for glory
Hungry for adventure
Greedy for plunder
(Yet known as Unready)

But ready he made himself, and
His tall-prowed longship
With battle-ready hairy Viking crew
Soon made land on Breton shores

The Breton villagers
On spotting this foe
Were filled with dread
And fled into the hills and
(Temporarily putting aside thoughts of revolution for the time being)
Sent word to the court of Robert Eponge
Demanding help

(Who was not wholly blind to the obvious)
Saw that this was the opportunity he needed
To "do something about it PDQ"
And so
He did

The armies of Ubba and Robert Eponge
Made battle beside a mound-like hill
Open ground, a space between woodland and fields, a village to its south.
Robert faced the east, warriors to his left and right
His four household guards beside him
The twelve Machiterns of his faithful knight
Patrick Etoile
Bearing the Standard of Brittany
On his left
Preparing to charge

Opposite, facing west
Flanked by hairy warriors
Hairier Huscarls on the flanks
And really hairy Berserkers
Made hairier by the skins they wore
Beside the edge of a wood
Off to one side
Trying to be clever
Contemplating some sneaky trick

The calm was broken
Breton battle-horns sounded
Machiterns charged Huscarls
Throwing javelins once, twice, three times
Until the huscarls on that flank had all fallen dead

To their left the Machiterns then swarmed
Loosing more javelins
The trees could not protect the hairiest ones
Who all died too
And the Machiterns reformed their line.

Thought Ubba
(Who really had been unready)
And considered his options.

Briefly considering running away
(But he was too far from his ship)
He reconsidered, and
Having lost his right flank
Adjusted his battle plan
And advanced on the left instead.

Dressing their lines
Resting their horses
Robert's household knights advanced
Javelins were thrown
But Ubba's men were not deterred
And advanced, ignoring fatigue
Closing down the distance
Cornering Robert's household knights.

As resting Machiterns watched and
Warriors cautiously backed away
The cornered household knights charged
(Some thought unwisely)

Tired Viking warriors
Bravely met their foe
Thinking the odds even
They were ready

But the Bretons had a trick up their sleeve
In mid-charge, loosing javelins
At the Vikings
Who were unready

And fate had deserted them
Slaying but one Breton knight
As five of their own number fell

Charged with his huscarls
Ready or not

But the Bretons had another trick
No longer cornered
And instead of fighting, ran away

(If a little frustrated)
Threw his Warriors at Robert's household knights
Finally getting rid of them
Albeit at equal cost
And in desperation
Threw them in at the Machiterns too

But in defence the horsemen were strong
Withstanding the attack
Slaying the warriors
Sowing the ground with Viking blood

Thus Ubba
On the mound-like hill
With three brave warriors remained
And called to Odin for help
And in desperation

He fell

And thus
(So it turned out)
"Something had been done about it PDQ"

Robert Eponge
Returned home in glory

Ubba didn't

Dragged off by his three remaining men
Finally home after an extremely slow  boat trip.

The Saga of Einar Jonatansson - Chapter 2.

Moving south from the lands of the Norse Gael we entered the territory of an Irish chieftain called Finn Mac Blatha. For two days we continued south looting and burning Irish hamlets for little reward beyond a couple of red haired beauties captured and given over to my warriors for sport.

Toward mid-day of the third day our path was blocked by an Irish warband led by Finn Mac Blatha himself and intent on doing us harm.

The ground was open except for a small bog on our left rear and a large field of winter barley on the Irish left rear. I thought Mac Blatha had chosen poor ground to make his stand against me and I smiled.

Mac Blatha deployed his warband behind a thin screen of levy archers. On his far left were two units of eight warriors deployed one behind the other with their flank secured on the cropfield. In the centre stood Mac Blatha supported by two champions with six Hearthguard immediately to his right. Out on his right wing was another unit of eight warriors. I saw none of the much vaunted war dogs the Irish peasants had boasted of!
I deployed my shieldwall opposite the Irish centre with eight warriors on the left and two units of six Hearthguard on the right. I stood with the berserkers behind the shieldwall. My archers were placed further out on my right opposite the left wing of the Irish.

Mac Blatha spoke to his warriors calling them to red war against us and I saw him bestow an arm rings on one of his Hearthguard.

Not to be outdone I in turn awarded an arm ring to the leader of the Hearthguard unit that formed the right of my shieldwall. My men banged weapons on shields and screamed their war cries at the enemy.
The Irish moved first and ordered their archers forward to shoot us. I called to Odin for protection and he answered with a sudden mist that hid us from view. One of the enemy champions moved to support the warriors on the Irish left.

From the start there was Irish magic at work and for much of the fight the enemy levy were obscured by a mist that prevented my archers from shooting them. Fortunately, the Irish chieftain had made a mistake and my archers had sight on one of the warrior units deployed beyond their levy screen. By personal command I pushed my archers forward and further right before unleashing two volleys on the exposed enemy warriors and killing two.

Stung by the archery Mac Blatha ordered the remaining six warriors forward and hurled javelins at my levy but Asgard protected them from harm. The enemy warriors remained unbowed and launched themselves into melee with my archers. For the loss of two of their own my doughty archers killed two enemies and pushed them back. The Irish champion moved further forward in support of the warriors.

Invoking Ragnarok my archers shot down one more Irish warrior before I sent my right hand Hearthguard charging across the field and into the remaining three warriors. Two enemies fell for no loss and the Hearthguard continued the attack into the Irish champion. My men were tired but their leader dedicated his arm ring to Thor who answered by refreshing them with renewed vitality. The Irish champion fell in a welter of axe, sword and spear blows while my brothers remained unharmed. Loki snatched the last Irish warrior screaming from this world!

Mac Blatha was not done yet and after shooting down four of my archers with his levy sent the second warrior unit on his left forward against my triumphant Hearthguard killing one with javelins.
In response my Hearthguard attacked the warriors and after a hard fight that cost us three brave men slaughtered all the enemy warriors.

I pushed forward with my shieldwall and Berserkers.

At this moment the Gods deserted us and three of my Hearthguard fell to Irish archery. The battle hung in the balance.

The red mist descended as I lead my three Hearthguard in a final charge against the enemy archers calling on Frigg, Ullr and Thor we chopped down most of the enemy for no loss and the Irish abandoned the field to us. Thanks be to Odin.