A Game Of War
The Mysterious Guide
" What shall we do !? " Alboðr asked his commander.
Víðarr had not seen or heard his second in command as he approached him, nor had he noticed that he now stood almost shoulder to shoulder with him. Such was the depth and breadth of the ferocity of this storm. Despite being startled by Alboðr's sudden appearance, Víðarr tried to answer him in a calm tone that hid his growing fear that all was lost.
" Well,....., obviously we will continue to climb until we reach the ridge. Then we must determine which way is west so that the army can cross the mountain plateau and descend behind Lifsteinn's army. " he explained over the din of the storm.
Alboðr gave his commander, and friend of many years, a look of incredulity !
" I can barely see you ! How will we find a pass in these conditions !? " he asked in an almost mocking tone.
Víðarr lowered his head in disgust.
" I do not......
The commander of the army never finished his thought. Like a wolf that had just heard the hoof beats of its prey, Víðarr's ears perked up and he turned his head in the direction of the sound that had caught his attention.
" Do you hear that ? " he asked.
Alboðr was about to say no when he suddenly jerked his head to the side and listened more intently.
" Yes ! What is it ? " he asked after a long moment.
Víðarr's face wrinkled into a deep frown as he shook his head in disbelief.
" I think,..., it is the the ringing of small,.... bells ! " he responded haltingly.
Suddenly, and without any warning, the snow relented and was replaced by a light sleet. Despite the ice pellets stinging their faces and their eyes, the absence of snow allowed them to see once again what was up in the distance. And there, on what appeared to be a ridge, they spotted a dark figure holding a staff peering down at them.
Víðarr's eyes widened as he began to wave his arms furiously at the stranger, much like a child greeting his parents after not having seen them for quite some time.
" Hello ! You there ! Wait ! I wish to speak with you !! " he yelled up at the figure that stood like a statue on the edge of the cliff.
Víðarr began to scramble up the side of the mountain on all fours, followed closely by Alboðr. As they crawled over the last rock, and stood up, they found themselves facing what appeared to be an older woman, who despite being in this desolate location, and the severe conditions here, did not seem to be surprised to see them. With a puzzled look pasted on his face Víðarr gazed around at the many goats that apparently belonged to this shepherd woman, before asking :
" Why have you brought your goats into these mountains ? "
The woman, who was quite pretty despite her age, smiled pleasantly as she responded to his question.
" To get to the other side of course ! " she told him.
Alboðr smiled at her response, and then pulled Víðarr to the side. In a whisper he told his commander his opinion about the woman.
" We must kill this shepherdess. She could warn Lifsteinn, or worse, she might be a spy guarding these passes. Either way we should kill her before moving on ! " he cautioned his commander.
The shepherd woman, if human, would not have been able to hear their conversation, but a Goddess in disguise has abilities far beyond those of mortal human beings. Frigga narrowed her eyes, and gripped her staff firmly as she waited for Víðarr's response.
" No ! I will question her, but if she can take us across these mountains it would be wise for us to follow her. " he told his second in command.
" Fine ! " Alboðr replied. " We can kill her after she leads us across the mountains.
Víðarr gave his friend a rude smirk.
" That is not how I reward someone for helping me ! " he explained to Alboðr sternly.
Víðarr then turned his attention back to the shepherd woman.
" Who do you owe allegiance to ? " he asked.
As the sleet turned to a gentle rain the woman pulled back her hood and smiled at the man who spoke to her.
" My mother and father of course ! " she told him.
Alboðr narrowed his eyes as he asked tersely :
" He is asking which king do you serve ? ! "
Despite the angry expression on Alboðr's face, Frigga answered calmly and politely.
" King Sigvaldr is the ruler over these lands, therefore he is my lord. " she told them.
Víðarr nodded approvingly.
" Where are you taking your herd ? " he asked.
Frigga pointed off into the distance.
" Hringanes is our final destination. " she replied.
" I am the son of King Sigvaldr. Will you lead us there ? " he asked.
" Of course ! I would be greatly honored. " she replied with a pleasant smile.
Alboðr pointed to her goats and shouted.
" We are in a hurry ! You will have to leave them here ! "
Frigga's smile faded.
" My goats can navigate these mountains far better than you ! " she told him with a hint of anger.
" You may of course bring them, but we must hurry ! " he informed her.
Frigga's smile returned as she answered.
" Then follow me and I will guide you safely to your destination. " she assured them.
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : Odin Prevents A Catastrophe
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.