Chapter 10 - The Battle of Flatmark
The first night at Flatmark, after Ketel, Ivar, and Flicka departed to search for Marja, went smoothly. The wolves and reindeer took turns patrolling the perimeter of the farm. The reindeer, who with their huge antlers could not have easily gotten through the door of the longhouse, slept in the barn with Barki, when they were not on patrol duty. Trude and Valda found that although the reindeer were very large, they were quite tame and enjoyed giving the girls a ride on their backs. Besides, it was a safe place for them. The wolves had also become inseparable from the twins. They stayed close to them during the day and watched their every move. During the night they snuggled close to the girls and did not seem to mind them pulling their fur and ears.
On the second night, however, large luminous yellow eyes began to appear at the edge of the forest. These eerie eyes belonged to a scouting party of Synkasti Trolls. At first, they were scared off by Barki’s braying. Later they returned. Eight pairs of evil and hateful looking yellow eyes peered at the longhouse and farm buildings with ominous intent. Suddenly, however, one pair of yellow eyes disappeared as sounds of growling and scuffling interrupted the uneasy silence of the night. Then another pair of yellow eyes disappeared to the same awful sounds. The other six pairs of eyes, looking more frightened than hateful now, quickly disappeared as the remaining trolls fled in terror when they realized they were going to be picked off one by one by Varg and Ulfa unless they retreated.
The next night the trolls returned but retreated again as Barki alarmed the farm. But they did not retreat quickly enough. As they panicked into a run, Varg overcame one and claimed another victim. The rest howled in terror, fearing the wolves were still pursuing them. The wolves, however, would not get too far from the longhouse and barn for long. They feared more Synkasti trolls might try to come in from another direction and harm their friends.
Underneath the Great Troll Mountain, One of Darak’s high-ranking commanders decided that a company of a hundred trolls should be sufficient to create a diversion for the wolves and overrun and destroy Flatmark. It had to be handled quietly. A large force might arouse the attention of their Norse and Valoisa Troll enemies. Darak did not want to lose the element of surprise when his far more extensive plans for aggression were ready to implement.
The next day, Aelska noticed that a falcon kept circling the Flatmark farm, and at higher elevations on the Great Troll Mountain, several more falcons seemed to be looking for something. Skyrover had now recruited more family and friends to assist Ketel and Ivar in their rescue quest and was doing extensive reconnaissance looking for Synkasti Trolls. What their aerial reconnaissance revealed looked sinister, and their reports had already reached the Elders of the Valoisa Trolls, who decided at once to call up and additional force of 400 to help rescue Marja and deter any major attack on the Geirangerfjord and surrounding Valoisa troll forest and lake settlements.
Skyrover and Swiftwing headed to confer with Ketal and his Norse allies. Later, as the sun dropped low in the sky, a falcon was joined by two owls. Up on the mountain, more owls took over the reconnaissance that the falcons had begun. The Synkasti Trolls, living most of their lives underground, fear the sun or too much light, but they have developed the advantage of superior night vision. That is why evil trolls almost always attack at night. Owls, however, can see better in the dark than trolls. Moreover, some of the great owls that inhabited Norway in those days were large enough and strong enough to sweep down and pick up a troll before he realized what was happening. These owls were known to have lifted a troll several hundred feet off the ground and then drop him to earth with a terrible thunk.. Between the falcons, the owls, and the foxes, the Allied forces knew almost everything the Synkasti Trolls were doing as soon as they emerged from underneath the mountain.
But despite superior Allied reconnaissance, the overwhelming numbers of Synkasti Trolls, the cunning of their leaders, and their well-deserved reputation for ferocious meanness were major causes for concern. The wolves and reindeer would have great difficulty defending Flatmark from a hundred trolls coming from two, three, or four directions at once. This might make withdrawal from Flatmark necessary, and a small retreating force is in great danger when pursued by a well armed and far more numerous enemy.
The reindeer were large and would be of considerable advantage in a quick retreat or escape. They could carry Aelska and the twins, and the wolves could probably fend for themselves. But what about Barki and the five goats? And how soon would neighbors Trigg Rolfsson and Sigurd Magnusson arrive? Would their arrival only put their families in great danger? There was much to contemplate as the sound of Synkasti drums could be heard in the distance.