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A Saxon's Tale (standard:adventure, 3499 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Aug 08 2007Views/Reads: 1874/1004Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It was more than sixty days since Eadwynne had wept as we left, begging us not to go. But as I kissed her, and our daughter, Leofwynne, I promised her we would return.

A Saxon's Tale 

©2007 Ian Hobson 

10th Century AD 

After another night in the open and a morning's weary travel, we bid
farewell to the others from our group and left them to take the western 
track towards the main settlement.  We headed north and followed a 
steady uphill path, taking a short-cut over the hilltop.  Edglaf walked 
ahead of me carrying my axe and a sheathed sword he had taken from a 
dead Dane.  I carried my grandfather's sword and the water; we had no 
food left.  The wound in my side still felt very sore, but it was 

The battle had not gone well.  We had outnumbered the enemy by almost
three to one, but they were mostly seasoned warriors, not woodsmen and 
farm workers like us.  My son, Edglaf was barely fifteen years old but, 
like me, he worked Lord Athelred's land, and Lord Athelred was sworn to 
Lord Byrhtnoth, so we had no choice but to go and fight as ordered.  
Besides, the Danes were here to steal the land, our livelihoods, and 
our women too. 

Before the battle I'd sharpened the sword; it was old and heavy but well
crafted, and the only weapon we owned.  It was a big sword, made for a 
big man: my grandfather.  I gave it to Edglaf, telling him to stay at 
the rear.  I was in the middle behind Lord Athelred's men at arms, but 
in front of other men less able, or less willing, to fight.  I carried 
my axe: I was a woodsman and better at wielding an axe than a sword. 

Edglaf stopped just short of the crest of the hill we were climbing and
waited for me to catch up.  During the battle I'd taken a spear thrust 
below my left armpit; a glancing blow that had cut through my leather 
jerkin and grazed my ribs.  I'd swung my axe at the spearman, 
splintering his wooden shield and breaking his arm, but still he made 
ready to thrust again.  That was when, to my surprise, I found Edglaf 
at my side, swinging my grandfather's sword like he was born to it and 
killing my attacker with a thrust to the throat. 

As a young man I had fought beside my own father, but never with such
ferocity.  It was Edglaf's first battle and his first kill, and I was 
proud of my son, but also a little worried: he killed another Dane that 
day - before the battle was won and the Danes defeated – but with just 
a little too much eagerness, I thought, though I had also killed 
another.  I prayed to God that he would stay with the land and not 
become a warrior like my mother's father. 

As Edglaf stood and watched me climb he looked so like his mother.  It
was more than sixty days since Eadwynne had wept as we left, begging us 
not to go.  But as I kissed her, and our daughter, Leofwynne, I 
promised her we would return.  I made the same promise to my mother, 
but there were tears in her eyes too. 

‘Wound still hurting?' Edglaf asked. 

‘A little.'  I rested for a moment - pondering on what I would say to
the widows of the two men who had not returned with us - and then we 
walked the last few paces to the top of the hill together; and there 
below us was our valley.  It was a relatively new settlement, a 
half-day's march from the main one.  I looked first for the tall trees 
just beyond the foot of the northern slope, and then for the clearing 
just below.  It seemed that a mist shrouded our small dwelling, and I 
couldn't make out its shape or see the yellow of the thatch.  Then 
dread filled my heart as I realised that what I had thought was mist 
was smoke.  And, my wound and tiredness forgotten, I began to run down 
the wooded slopes with Edglaf following. 


We passed other dwellings as we crossed the valley floor; all of them
smouldering ruins.  Then we came across the first body: old Wiglam, I'd 
known him since I was a boy.  His throat had been cut and his clothing 
ripped open.  He was a poor man; I doubt that his attackers had found 
anything on him of value.  His dog lay nearby, its head almost 
completely severed from its body.  There were more mutilated and half 

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