Crossing the River

It's an uncomfortable night's sleep on hard wood tables in the mountains of northern Norway with only a dying fire and rotten whiskey for warmth, but Doc manages to get some rest. He wakes up with the sun as it begins its slow roll across the horizon.

The vikings, including Thunderhorse, are all passed out. They had stayed up late drinking and catching up. Mark is up, digging around the hall.

"Don't they have any coffee in this fuckin' shack?" He complains. He's obviously feeling the effects of the less than pure liquor.

"You're kidding, right?" Doc asks. He has to admit, he's not feeling tip-top either. "Come on, there's some in the Jeep."

They find Brother Broderick huddled and shivering in the stables.

"What are you doing out here?" Doc asks.

"[I couldn't stay in there. I was afraid they would kill me while I slept.]" He cries. He's obviously not gotten any rest.

"Come on, we've got something to warm you up," Doc tells him.

With Mark's help in unburying the back of the Jeep, Doc retrieves the backpacks, camping gear and water can. They return to the great hall where the vikings still snooze away.

The smell of coffee brewing wakes them up. Doc pours everyone a cup. The vikings are impressed. Broderick is restored by it, and grateful. Thunderhorse takes the opportunity to ramble about the exciting things he's drank on his adventures.

A quick breakfast of burnt bacon, coffee, and hair-of-the-dog gets the crew ready.

"Before we can climb the mountain, we must cross the river," Thunderhorse explains to Doc and Mark. "It is ice cold and flows swiftly. The only way across is at Bridgeton."

Skullfucker is strapping bone-and-leather jacket over a chain mail hauberk. He wears a wolf's head over his thick, muddy hair. "The soldiers at Bridgeton are fat and lazy. We've raided their town many times now, and they've yet to catch us." His dirty smile is punctuated by his cold green eyes. He ties a sword around his waist.

Fairhairson's armor is all leather and fur, with bear claws as pauldrons. He wears no helmet over his golden locks. He slings a suprisingly ornate bow and quiver over his shoulder. "They will attack us on sight, though. We usually enter the village by stealth, but sometimes we ride through on horseback. Someone stole our horses, though. It was probably Leif, the troll-fucker. Where's Lightning, anyway?"

"Turned invisible by the sun," Thunderhorse tries to explain, although he doesn't quite grasp the nature of it.

"I'm coming, too!" Aerikson demands. He's got no armor but does have a small, dirty shortsword.

"You're to stay here to cook and clean, whelp," Skullfucker yells at him.

"Fuck you, shit-for-brains. I came to learn to be a raider, not your nursemaid. Who's there to cook and clean for anyway? The rats?"

Fairhairson has apparently taken on the role of father figure to the boy, opposing Skullfucker's older-brother stance. "He'd best come with us. He does need to learn how to fight, and there is nothing here for him. We will be gone a while, and there will be no one to look after him. He is just a boy, after all."

"I'm a man and I can look after myself!" Aerikson sneers. "But I'm coming with you all the same."


The hike to Bridgeton is not long. It's only about a seven mile hike. It is difficult, though, by the cold weather, rocky terrain, and heavy backpacks. Doc is carrying all the camping gear, plus his own satchel. Mark has the SMAW slung over his back along side his assault rifle, and Thunderhorse is carrying the spare backpack filled with rockets and ammunition. Doc decided to leave the Browning back with the Jeep. It is just too much to carry, and there's really nothing they can't kill with the armament they already have.

It's only an hour and a half walk, but it is a bit tiring. They stop in the woods on a hill overlooking the town, out of sight. It's small, one road and a bridge surrounded by stone huts on the opposite side of the river. A handful of men stand sparsely on the banks of the river hauling fishnets out of it, emptying them, and throwing them back in.

The orange tunics and shining chain mail of two soldiers is clearly visible on the bridge. They sit at their posts at this side of the river. They look like they're about to fall asleep.

"See?" says Skullfucker. "Lazy bastards. I say we just go kill them, and the rest as they rush out."

"Their barracks is on the far side of the river, just past the bridge. See the wooden fortifications?" Fairhairson points out the small tower. It is just tall enough to overlook the town. "When the alarm goes up, they'll put archers on that tower. They can reach across the river from there, but they're not very good shots. Not at that distance, anyway. But it's dangerous to get close to them. They'll be fresh this time of day. I say we sneak in. If we wait long enough, the guards will be asleep."

"Fuck that," says Skullfucker. "Thunderhorse has brought us weapons from the sky. I say we burn the place to the ground once and for all."

"I agree," says Thunderhorse. "We have been at the mercy of their soldiers for too long. It is time we destroy them all forever. But perhaps we should at least take them by surprise."

Brother Broderick leans in and whispers to Doc. "[This town is the only source of food and trade for the abbey. If it is destroyed, they will starve. There are good Christian people down there!]"

Mark hears the last part of that. "I'm not havin' any part of that slaughter on my conscience."

Thunderhorse catches that and turns to Doc. "This place is the staging ground for every attack on our village. These soldiers have killed, raped, and enslaved my people all in the name of their bloodthirsty god. Now begins our vengance. We will go with or without you."


Doc said...

"Gentlemen, let's look at this a minute...I can get us across the bridge and through town with a minimum of fuss, or we can raise unholy hell and perhaps kill some of them and most or all of us. I understand that your thirst for revenge is strong, and I am all about justice, but we six men and a boy are not about to fight and overcome every man, woman, and child in that village and live to tell the tale. We are not to die today. Sure, we have mighty weapons and great skill but that won't carry the day. Let us use our minds AND our warrior skills to overcome this."

I have two factions on my hands. One, the "kill 'em all, let Odin sort them out!" faction and Two, the "Them's Christians, I ain't killin' 'em" faction. I need to get both to see it my way and use my charisma to aid me. I have never played as a Bullshit artist in any RPG I have ever played so this is all new ground to me, and it is even tougher than trying to be a first level wizard in AD&D where my only spell is "Knock".

Try and sell them on the idea that I have the best plan and everyone gets what they want.

My plan, assuming they agree: First, call Veronica and have her blast the shit out of open ground on the other side of town. Fields, trees, whatever, as long as she doesn't shoot or hurt anyone, just make a lot of noise, explosions, and fire. Something that would draw attention away from our side of town. Hopefully, this will draw the town's people away as well as the town's guards. While everyone is off in the other direction, have Mark shoot out the tower with the SMAW and run like hell across the bridge and through town.

One key element that I want to stress with the Vikings is this: Any adult male who opposes us is fair game. Anyone else isn't. Remind them what we are after, the remains of their people and their culture, not the wretches who were so cruel to them. We have come to rescue and not for retribution.

For Mark and Brother Broderick, I need to convince them that no one will be hurt but simply frightened into a fear of the Lord.

Have Brother Broderick speak some gibberish off to the side while I call Veronica. This should give him some credibility to the Vikings when she swoops in to deliver her brand of chaos. Have Mark take out the tower and then run like hell. Have Thunderhorse take the lead with Skullfucker and Fairhairson behind him, then me with Brother Broderick and Aerikson behind. When we get to the bridge have everyone yell how hell and armagedeon are behind us and everyone needs to leave. I'll use the bullhorn to full effect. Should we encounter hostiles, let Thunderhorse, Skullfucker and Fairhairson deal with them as they are the best at melee. Mark, Brother Broderick, Aerikson and I should provide coverfire and keep us moving.

If this doesn't work, I'll think of plan B as I go along.


ERR said...

I like this plan.

I have no idea if it will work, but I like it.