Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Battle At Sea

Nicholas van Rijn of the Polesotechnic League, (also here) Dominic Flandry of the Terran Empire, Manse Everard of the Time Patrol and Skafloc Half-Elven fight battles at sea.

In Skafloc's battle:

war-horns blow;
sails and masts are lowered;
ships row, linked by ropes;
arrows fly;
three hit Skafloc's armor;
elves fall;
spears, darts and stones are thrown;
Skafloc's shaft pins a hand to a mast;
a rock hits his helmet;
Imric's ship hits Illrede's;
warriors smite with swords and axes;
Skafloc leans his shield against the enemies' and strikes with his sword;
beside him, Firespear wields a pike and Angor of Pictland uses a long axe;
each fallen warrior is instantly replaced;
Skafloc kills a troll;
Firespear kills the replacement;
Skafloc leaps across and kills the troll to the left;
Angor beheads the troll to the right;
elves swarm after Skafloc and stand back to back;
Skafloc stands ahead of the elves because his iron mail would harm them;
they cover his back, clear the bows of trolls, then move aft, driving the trolls back;
Skafloc challenges Valgard;
elves continue to board while their archers continue to shoot;
Skafloc's sword opposes Valgard's axe;
both fall wounded and roll under the benches;
Grum Troll-Earl leads a charge;
Angor severs Grum's right arm;
Grum catches his stone club with his left hand, breaks Angor's neck, then crawls to shelter to carve healing runes on his wound;
Skafloc and Valgard resume their fight;
Skafloc's sword breaks on Valgard's axe;
Firespear and other elves attack Valgard;
the elves hold the troll flagship;
Valgard dives overboard;
he is weighed down by his byrnie but grabs a floating mast;
ships have been wrecked by ramming and collisions;
Valgard and others steer the mast towards their ships;
Imric oversees his fleet as a sea-mew;
Illrede will be doing likewise, therefore is not to be found on his flagship;
the elves scuttle the troll ship and return to Imric's;
Imric reports that the elves are outnumbered two to one and that some trolls are landing unopposed;
foe cut ropes and the fleets drift apart;
Imric's longship rows to support two elven ships surrounded by three hireling craft and one troll dragon;
arrows fall on the elves but their quivers are nearly empty;
bat-winged Baikal demons attack with lances (like Diomedeans);
the elves spend their last arrows but the Baikal continue to swoop;
the longship lays alongside the goblin ship from which the arrows are coming;
Skafloc leaps across;
he bisects one goblin, gashes open another and beheads a third;
Firespear transfixes two with his pike while mortally kicking a third;
more elves board and the goblins retreat;
Skafloc throws heavy arrow chests to the longship;
elven archers slaughter the Baikul;
the other two elf ships rally against the goblins, Oni and imps;
trolls board the longship;
Skafloc, running forward, slips on blood and falls as a spear meant for him kills Golic of Cornwall;
Skafloc, rising, is beset by trolls;
he shears a troll's face with his iron shield and rejoins the elves;
snow falls more thickly and the wind rises;
fighters fall to the lower deck but rise to fight on;
Skafloc throws his now battered and useless shield at one troll and kills another with his sword;
a troll protected from iron by leather seizes him from behind;
caught in a bear hug and rolling on the deck, Skafloc strangles the troll, then splits his skull on a mast;
he is the first elf or human to kill a troll barehanded;
his "'...deed is worthy of a Beowulf and will be unforgotten while the world stands...'" (p. 107);
the elves have won the sea battle but at great cost;
however, another fully crewed troll longship approaches and mounted trolls wait on the shore;
England is lost to the trolls;
the elf longship steered by Skafloc rams the troll dragon and smashes it on the skerry;
Skafloc and the elves not too badly wounded dive and swim ashore;
the mounted trolls attack and kill some but most escape;
an erne bears the sea-mew to earth;
they transform into Illrede and Imric;
trolls club and bind Imric;
Skafloc must "...reach Elfheugh and Freda ahead of the trolls." (p. 109)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

A grim and dramatic battle indeed! Both the sea battle described in THE BROKEN SWORD and the ones we see in THE MAN WHO COUNTS and ENSIGN FLANDRY. I also thought of the space battle fought by the Terrans with the Merseians at Starkad in ENSIGN.

Poul Anderson was never in any army or navy, but he knew well how to describe war and combat skillfully and plausibly. He shows us both the horror of war and how men can show themselves at their very best.