|“|| Shivers: Do I go on three? Or after three?|
Dogman: Don’t hardly matter, as long as you go.
Chapter Summary Edit
On the morning of battle, outside the Lord Marshal’s command post, Colonel West, Captain Jalenhorm, and Sergeant Pike watch General Kroy’s division advance in battle order. They hope General Poulder’s troops are doing the same on the flank. Lord Marshal Burr emerges from his tent, his innards producing sour burps. A moment later the two sides clash. Burr’s confidence soars as Kroy holds. As long as Poulder does his job, Bethod’s forces will be crushed. However, West notices the glint of metal on the opposite ridge from where Poulder should appear; Bethod had the same idea. Burr orders Kroy to hold the line against the cavalry and prays for Poulder’s quick arrival.
In Poulder’s line on the high ridge, The Union doesn’t seem to want the Northmen’s help in their deployment, so Threetrees orders them to settle in, moving tree trunks to provide cover. Although everyone seems mystified by the caution, they obey. With time to kill, Dogman decides making a fire is sensible; anyway his eggs need cooking. Suddenly, the breeze turns and Dogman smells something amiss. Handing the eggs to Cathil, he moves to the edge of their encampment. He recognizes that smell … Shanka.
As Threetrees commands everyone behind the tree trunks, a Shanka arrow comes from the trees and finds its mark. Cathil falls to the ground, a shaft in her side. Dogman drags her to safety, but cannot stay. He gives what comfort he can and rejoins Threetrees at the line where the Shanka swarm by the hundreds; battle is joined. Eventually, the Shanka fall back. The Carls cheer, but Dogman and Threetrees scramble back to Cathil to try to patch her up. When pulling the arrow out doesn’t work, they try to push it through. With it finally removed, Dogman bandages her up. But it is for naught. With Cathil’s blood covering the snowy ground, Threetrees declares her dead.1
Back at the command post, Burr and West curse Poulder’s failure to engage. Kroy’s men are hard pressed now. Burr dispatches a runner to discover what’s delaying him. If Poulder doesn’t appear soon West will have to commit the cavalry. Before the Marshal can continue he jerks forward and sprays black vomit over the table top, spattering the maps.2 West catches him and drags him into his tent. With Jalenhorm’s help, he manoeuvres Burr into his bed. However, West prevents Jalenhorm from going for a doctor. If Kroy and Poulder know Burr is incapacitated, they’ll tear the army apart competing for command. They must hide the truth and keep things together as best they can. Outside the tent, West commits the reserves to Kroy’s position.
On the high ridge, with no time to grieve for Cathil, Dogman waits for the next Shanka attack. Three times they've come and each times been repelled, but the defence is thinning. Peering over the tree trunk, Dogman sees the Shanka waiting; Shanka never wait. Dogman frowns as a new smell touches his nose. Mist rises and Shivers begins to panic. From the mist emerges a man, too large to fathom, even bigger than Tul; Fenris the Feared. The giant carries no weapon and wears armour only on one side of his body, the other half covered in blue runes. Only Threetrees seems to keep his wits. He rallies the men to him, ordering a charge on the count of three.
Even Dogman doubts whether he’ll go or not, but on three he launches himself toward the Feared and the waiting Shanka. Cutting through the Flatheads, Dogman finds himself facing the Feared alone. Swatted aside like a bug, Dogman waits for death when Threetrees comes from nowhere, his shield slamming into the giant. The old warrior gives it his best, but the Feared crunches him to the turf. Then Dow, Shivers, and Tul attack at once, slicing and stabbing into the Feared’s massive flesh, leaving no wound behind. Eventually, the Feared flees, leaving behind him a devastated crew, its leader dead. Rudd Threetrees has gone back to the mud.
Back at The Union camp, the battle is over. Kroy returns, having taken heavy losses, but succeeded in forcing Bethod to retreat. Moments later, Poulder comes back from the flanks, carrying the corpse of a Shanka as evident of his men’s valour. The two generals bristle at each other over whose failure endangered the battle. Both demand to see Burr, who West cannot produce. Just as things are about to dissolve, Burr staggers out of his tent, his shirt stained with blood. As Poulder and Kroy begin to argue again for Burr’s favour, West bides for time by insisting on applauding for the victorious commander. The dissension is put aside, for the moment, as Poulder and Kroy compete to clap the loudest.
|Collem West||The Dogman||Bethod|
|Lord Marshal Burr||Captain Jalenhorm|
|General Poulder||Rudd Threetrees|
|Tul Duru Thunderhead||Harding Grim|
|Black Dow||Fenris the Feared|
Locations and Terms Edit
|Angland||The Union||First Northern War||Northmen||Shanka|
- We'll never know how Dogman and poor Cathil would have ended up; heart breaking. It’s a great example of Abercrombie’s work being dark. It's not without a sense of hope that things will get better, even if they invariably fail to. No one can be happy in this world, but damned if they don’t try.
- Burr's illness has been forehadowed for so long, it's almost a relief when he finally pukes blood.