As Roman control in Britain waned, many tribes of Northern Europe saw the opportunity for expansion and plunder. Those native to Juteland were hardy seafarers and accomplished raiders...
Brynjar squats at the edge of the treeline to survey the town ahead. He closes his eyes to savour the rich aromas of hot bread and roasting meat on the chill night air. He knows his men will be doing the same; the crossing from Juteland was icy and treacherous, and a full belly will be a just reward for their labours.
The men are well disciplined. There is no rustling, no snap of twigs as 200 armed warriors crouch patient and still as statues, clutching their axes in readiness. Brynjar feels a great pride swelling in his breast as he considers this fact. He is warmed by it.
The gods owe them a victory tonight. The raid on the last town faltered when dogs scented their approach and the alarm was raised. The inhabitants were well prepared, and Brynjar spied many armed guardsmen assembling by torchlight. He weighed the situation, found it wanting, and withdrew his warriors. No sense in coming home with a full hold and half a crew.
This town is smaller. Even if they are spied while they advance, Brynjar favours their odds. Providing the inhabitants offer no resistance, there will be no needless bloodshed. Any guards will be dealt with of course, and after the townsfolk have been rounded up, his men will transfer their stores and valuables to the boats and they will leave as they arrived, under cover of darkness.
Brynjar feels a presence beside him and turns to see his brother Fritjof crouched there, a question framed on his face. The low firelight from the town glints in his eyes.
“It’s good, I think?” whispers Fritjof. “No dogs today, heh. The residents will be slow and lazy from their evening meals. We should strike now, before the night runs away from us”.
Brynjar smiles. His brother is right of course. Between his keen sense of timing and the unswerving loyalty Brynjar commands from his men, might they not control a thousand warriors? Ten thousand? It worked for the Romans, he thinks. But the eagle falls, and the soft underbelly of Brittania is ours now, to plunder as we please.
Brynjar nods to his brother.
“Give the order.”