Friday 19 December 2014

Scent: Part 28

They set off after lunch and followed the coastline, keeping to the higher ground of the grassland and not venturing onto the beach for fear of leaving evidence of their passing. Goren had brought seven of his scouts along, with Reven and Fang their party of ten was complete. They were not expecting much in the way of resistance, maybe a few sentries that would have been left with the boats to keep guard. Stealth was to be key in ensuring the attack went smoothly and that they met with as little resistance as possible.  

They continued along the coast until late evening. The last rays of the sun were bouncing upon the gentle waves of the sea as they closed on their quarry. The raiders ships lay half in and half out of the water, secured to the beach with ropes and chains.  Fires burned at several points along the sand and after a quick count Captain Goren announced in hushed tones that there were almost forty shops lying at rest. His face flickered with concern as he explained that he had seen these long ships before and knew that they could each carry up to a hundred men.  This meant the force that Sanya faced was only a part of the invaders strength and their numbers could swell if they met with their kinsmen.  It also meant to that there would be greater resistance on the beach making the scouts chances of success dwindle.  Goren went over the plan one last time before they set off under the cover of darkness.  He and his seven scouts would advance along the beach dispatching the raiders with bow and blade as they went. Reven's inexperience meant that he and Fang would toil behind them freeing the boats from their makeshift moorings.  So as not to arouse suspicion from the invaders he would wait until Goren had advanced a way ahead before starting on the first boat. Even if the scouts lost their lives on the beach at least the raiders would be a few ships worse off. 

With orders to keep his bow at the ready Reven set off across the sand and waited for Goren to make his move. He could make out the outlines of the scouts as they stooped low and started their advance up the beach. Reven tailed them, far enough back not to betray their stealthy attack but close enough that he could still see their silhouettes against the light of the fires. 

Goren dropped onto his belly as they approached the first fire. A ring of raiders sat around it drinking and singing, oblivious to their approaching doom. Reven hung back by the bow of the first boat, watching anxiously.  Goren gave a signal and the raiders loosed arrows at their chosen targets. Apart from a few jerking movements it would have been hard to tell the fate that befell the men seated around the fire. The singing had stopped though and Reven saw a few of the dead men slump to the side. Goren's men wasted no time moving up and making sure each man was dead, cutting throats to ensure no one was missed.  Reven lost sight of them after this, the scouts moved out of the fire light to the edge of the beach so they wouldn't be silhouetted against the flames making it easier to be spotted. Reven just had to wait now. He had been told to leave it several minutes before freeing the first boat so he crouched against it, biding his time.

Reven set to work after waiting for a while. He didn't know how things were going further up the beach but he heard no cries of alarm so assumed everything was going to plan. He pulled a serrated dagger free of his belt that he had taken from the smithy. It was a wicked looking blade with a slight curve to it and it swiftly cut through the ropes holding the first ship at anchor. Reven was almost expecting the boat to just slip away once it had been released but it sat there as it had done before. Once the tide came in he was sure the boat would slip away. He moved on to the next, working his way down the line of ships until he reached the fifth boat. This one was a little different from the others he had seen. It was wider and he could see that great carvings covered it's sides. It was held in place with iron chains that weer thick with rust. They were anchored to the beach by six metal spikes tat had been driven deep into the sand. Reven tried wiggling one free but it was stuck fast in the damp sand. He looked at Fang scratching his head and then an idea struck him. He hurried back to the last boat, collecting up some rope and then returned to the chains. He tied the rope to one of the links and then with a series of loops in the other end of the rope he fashioned a harness that he put on Fang. Fang had each of his front legs through a loop and they met at his back. Reven took the rope in his hands and then motioned for Fang to move. He pulled for all his was worth as did Fang but the spike didn't budge. He told Fang to relax and wen't back to inspect the spike, kicking at it in frustration. The others would be well ahead of him now and he needed to keep moving. He decided to move on to the next boat and return to this one once Goren had finished his deadly work. He trotted over to Fang and was startled when a harsh voice called out to him, 'Hey, what are you doing down there.' Reven spun round to see a man looking at him over the side of the boat. A flicker of recognition passed over the mans face as he realised what Reven was doing. Reven had pulled his bow free and loosed an arrow as the man roared a wordless challenge. His cry was cut short as the arrow embedded itself in his shoulder, spinning him off his feet. He was down but by no means out, he shouted a warning that was meant by several angry voices. Reven knocked another arrow and sank to his knees. Men started jumping over the side of the boat, brandishing swords, axes and shields. The first got an arrow through the neck which punched clean through landing with a thunk in the thick wood of the boats hull. Reven got one more shot off that buried itself in a raiders stomach before he had to draw his sword. Fang was roaring behind him but was still tethered to the chain and the spike and couldn't get into the fight. 

The first man came on, swinging his axe in a deadly downward arc. Reven scrambled back, falling to the floor. The axe landed between his legs sending a spray of sand into the air and the man stepped in raising his blade again. Reven slashed at him but the man's thick hide armour turned the weak blow aside and he only just manged to roll to the side away from the mans next attack. He regained his feet and immediately had to parry a sword swing from another assailant. The swordsman swung again as Reven back peddled, this time in stead of meeting the mans blade head on he hoped backwards and smashed the raiders sword on the backside increasing the speed of the mans swing and sending the blade into the onrushing axeman. The sword gouged the raider's arm forcing him to relinquish the two handed grip he had on his weapon. Reven capitalised on the swordsman being off balance by slashing down with his sword that opened up the side of the swordsmans face from crown to jaw. As the man crumpled to the floor the axeman jumped over him and swung his axe one handed at Reven's face. There followed a desperate exchange as Reven parried the man's heavier axe, being forced back with every blow. Even one handed this man was more than a match for Reven and as more raiders joined the fray Reven could see his life would soon be at an end if the odds weren't evened.  His arms were starting to shake with the effort of repelling the mans attacks and he bled from shallow cuts to his legs and arms where the man had forced his blade back repeatedly. He dived to the side as two more raiders came at him knowing he wouldn't be able to parry their combined attacks. He made a desperate dash toward Fang with the raiders hot on his heels. He lashed out with his sword releasing the hound from his bond and with a brief glance Fang knew what was expected of him. Reven turned to face his attackers as Fang raced off into the darkness, 'the hound has more sense boy' the axeman said as he slowed to a stop in front of Reven his comrades panting at his sides. In the distance Reven could see the raider he had struck in the shoulder land awkwardly as he jumped clear of the boat, the arrow still protruding from the joint of his shoulder. The axeman stepped forward, 'You should of kept running but I'm glad you didn't. I owe you for my arm.'. Reven in his typically rash fashion didn't give the man time to gloat further, he lunged forward catching the man off guard and stabbed through the meat of the man's thigh before jumping clear of the mans axe. The wound only seemed to enrage the man more and he rushed forward launching a blistering attack. Sparks flew as Reven's blade met with his, the raider seemed to be growing in speed and ferocity with every strike.

The arrow sticking out of Bjorn's shoulder grated against the bone as he jogged toward the melee. He could see Ragneth hammering at the boy and slowed as he realised the saboteur would be dead before he reached them. He made another attempt to pull the shaft free of his shoulder but it was caught neatly in the join and wouldn't budge. In addition the pain of touching it was excruciating and each time he touched the arrow more blood was sent spurting down the front of his jerkin. He didn't hear Fang's approach. The soft sand hid the noise of the hounds loping strides. The pain in Bjorn's shoulder disappeared immediately after Fangs attack. The war hound bit through the back of his neck, severing his spine and rendering his body numb and useless. Fang kept moving, angling toward the fight in front of him.

Ragneth's fellow raiders cheered him on as he drove Reven back with another mighty swing of his axe. One of the spikes holding the ship in place was at Reven's back and as he ducked a swipe of Ragneth's axe he spun round it putting it between him and the crazed raider. They circled the spike until Reven was against the chain, as the warrior swung at him he ducked beneath it and then trapped the man's axe against it with his sword. Unable to use his one useless arm the big man let go of his axe to throw a punch at Reven's unprotected face. Reven knew it was coming and ducked low bringing up his serated dagger as he did so. It cleaved through the hide armour on the man's stomach and letting go of his sword he drove the blade up under Ragneth's ribs and into his heart. The big raider died eyes wide,  a look of surprise on his face as he fell to the sandy floor in a heap. Reven stumbled back as the other two raiders came on, screaming in dismay at the loss of their friend. Their screams only grew louder when Fang struck. The hound knocked one to the floor and tore the others arm off at the shoulder. Reven recovered his sword and raced toward the fallen man whilst Fang ripped out the others throat. The man had had the wind knocked out of him when Fang had struck and hadn't regained his senses enough to prevent his doom, he was on all fours when Reven arrived. Reven kicked him hard in the face sending him reeling backwards and then brought his sword down severing the raiders head from his neck. 

Fang ran to Reven's side and they gave each other their customary hearty welcome; Reven patting and stroking Fang's head whilst Fang licked Reven's face. Reven's heart raced and his arm's ached but he was elated by their victory. He was just about to sink down into the sand when he spotted movement in the darkness. He found it strange that Fang didn't but he went on guard. Fang sat and looked at him, tongue lolling out of his bloody mouth. Reven looked at him with a complete look of consternation. Reven was just about to reprimand his companion when he felt a cold slither of steel press against his neck. 'Been busy?, Goren's familiar voice whispered in his ear before Reven was spun roughly round to be greeted by the scout captains gaped tooth smile. 'Looks like you been having some fun' he laughed loudly, stealth obviously no longer required. The other scouts appeared out of the darkness, everyone of them streaked with blood and a few baring grisly wounds that had been hastily bound with bits of cloth. The fury of battle was still very much alive in Goren's eyes as he looked toward the boats. 'We push 'em out they may not go far. Put 'em to the torch lads', he smile broadened even more as he said it and he walked towards the nearest fire.

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