Child Of Destiny
The War For Survival !
King Kjardan was so confident, and so intently focused on what was in front of him, that he never even thought to send out scouts to see what was developing behind him. Prince Thorvald, and Princess Astrid, rode out ahead of the Hedemark army as they crossed over the Hedemark border, and placed themselves between the Opplandene army, and their lands. When they were parallel to the Opplandene border, and saw that King Kjardan had no rear guard, they sent a messenger back to King Olaf to bring up the whole army. It took a day and a half of hard marching to get the whole army into place. Once they were set, King Olaf sent a messenger south, on the Hedemark side of the border, and around the Opplandene army into Romerike, to notify King Runolf that they were in place, and that the trap was now set. The next morning, King Olaf, along with Thorvald and Astrid, ordered their warriors south towards the rear of the Opplandene army. Now it was time for the rat to be caught in a trap of his own making !
King Kjardan had too much to drink the night before, and woke up late, and feeling sluggish. He did not expect that there would be much action on this day, because every single day so far the Romerike warriors had scurried away like bugs running to hide into the walls of a hut. He sighed as he considered another day of playing cat and mouse with the Romerike king and his army. At least that is what he expected. This changed when a warrior rode up to his tent and informed the king that the Romerike army had formed into a defensive shield wall, and appeared ready to finally stand and fight. Kjardan at first thought that his warriors had misinterpreted what they were seeing. " It was probably just a small rear guard left behind to allow their army to escape again. " he thought to himself. " And there would be a small skirmish with minimal losses on both sides again, but it would slow his army just enough to allow the Romerike army to stay out of reach of his army. " his mind told him. However, when he saw the force that was confronting him, he realized that he was facing the whole Romerike army. " They have finally decided to stop running like cowards, and stand, and fight like honorable men ! " the king yelled to his warriors. " Today we will wipe out the Romerike army, and take King Runolf' s lands ! " King Kjardan shouted as loud as he could. His warriors pounded their shields, and cheered in response !
King Kjardan formed his men into battle formation, and when all was ready he advanced his men directly down the hill at the Romerike shield wall. Kjardan had never felt so confident, or proud of himself in his entire life. " Today was a day that would be remembered for eternity ! " he said to himself as he gallantly led his men forward. Just as his men went down the ridge to attack King Runolf, the Hedemark army started to come up the ridge just vacated by the Opplandene army. From up on Hlidskjalf Odin smiled over at Frigga : " It is all happening as if it were taking place on a golden game board ! " Odin said with a wickedly sly smile. " Yes, my husband ! Much like that board game that you gave to the Midgardians...... Hnefatafl isn' t it my dear ? " Frigga asked her husband. Odin only nodded. He was too engrossed in the events unfolding before him to answer. Frigga was right, however, they were about to surround, and capture King Kjardan, just as you would in Odin's game Hnefatafl.
King Kjardan was in the lead, so he was one of the last to notice that some of his men were slowing down, and were now facing the other way. At first only a few of his men were hit in the back by arrows, but by the time his men reached the Romerike shield wall several hundred of his warriors were on the ground either wounded or dead, and almost half of his army had stopped, and turned to face the Hedemark army that was closing fast. They barely had time to form a shield wall before King Olaf' s warriors crashed into them. Surprised, and with his men in disarray, King Kjardan could do nothing but lead the men who had continued to follow him against the Romerike army. He would have to depend on his warriors, who stopped and turned around, to defeat the other army which had gotten behind his forces. Surprised, and disorganized, King Kjardan' s men fought well, but split as they were they were no match for the disciplined and well prepared Hedemark army.
As King Kjardan and his warriors crashed into the Romerike shield wall a mighty roar rose up on the battlefield as the screams of men mixed with the clanging of swords as they hit, and the dull thud of shields blocking a sword, or an axe blow. With only about half of his army with him they were not strong enough to destroy the Romerike shield wall, and the field soon became a scene of men fighting individual battles to the death . The fact that King Kjardan had made some initial success made his predicament even worse. For he had pushed in the center of the shield wall so far that he was now surrounded on three sides. The battle became more and more desperate for the Opplandene warriors as they had to fight harder and harder against what were becoming longer and longer odds. The sounds of the dead and the dying reminded many of the stories the skalds had told them of Ragnarok, and the end of the old Gods. Only this was real. This was their Ragnarok ! As the Opplandene warriors tried to fight their way back out of the salient that they themselves had created, some of the warriors slipped in the grass that was wet with blood, and some tripped over the dead, and the dying as they went. And falling meant almost certain death on this killing field !
King Kjardan could only see one way out of his predicament. He could not go forward, and his way back to Opplandene was blocked. He could not go east to the Hedemark border either, for this would also mean certain death. The only chance he and his remaining men had as the day wore on was to try to head west to his friends in Hordaland, and to take refuge on the coast. Surrounded by his personal guards, and his most loyal warriors, they fought their way out of their encirclement and in the small space that still existed between the Romerike and the Hedemark armies, they headed west as fast as they could .
Prince Thorvald and Princess Astrid had been kept in the rear by King Olaf. He did not want his son, and only heir to the throne to be killed on a day when he himself could also be killed. From their raised vantage point on the top of the ridge the prince and princess watched as King Kjardan, and about four dozen of his warriors, backed away from the Romerike line of battle, and began to fight their way westward through the opening between the two main battles, to escape. Prince Thorvald quickly acted, and ordered his own personal guards to follow after King Kjardan. It became a race to see who would reach the opening at the end of the battlefield first. As King Kjardan pushed his horsemen faster and faster, his foot soldiers fell further and further behind. By the time the Opplandene king reached the end of the battle line, and freedom, he had only twenty mounted men with him. Coming from his right were five times that number of warriors on fresher horses that he knew he could not outrun. Prince Thorvald sent half of his men to take care of the foot soldiers, and the other half slowly ran down King Kjardan, and his mounted warriors.
The battle began on horseback, but soon most of the warriors had dismounted, or been knocked off of their horses, and were fighting on foot. Outnumbered two to one, King Kjardan knew he had little chance of winning, and making his escape. He had decided, however, that if he was going to be killed, he was going to take as many of his enemies with him as he could. And he especially wanted to kill Prince Thorvald. Kjardan wasted no time in going after the Prince of Hedemark ! Kjardan was a huge man who was immensely strong. As soon as he was close enough he began to swing his sword at Thorvald in powerful strokes. The prince was able to block his blows, but the force of the pounding was slowly weakening him. Princess Astrid, watching from a short distance away, was not about to stand there and do nothing while the man she loved was killed. She slid off of her horse, grabbed her bow that was tied to her saddle, and quickly placed an arrow on the string. With practiced ease she pulled back on the string, and eyed her prey. She held her breath as she targeted King Kjardan, and then released the arrow. As the arrow left the string she shouted : " This is for my father you bastard ! "
Thorvald had been beaten to the ground by the great weight of Kjardan's massive blows. It was only a matter of time before the prince was too tired to fend off the king's attacks. As Kjardan reached back to strike down the prince he suddenly cried out in pain, and fell forwards onto the ground. As the king lie on the ground writhing in pain, Thorvald saw the arrow shaft sticking out of his right knee, and looked around to see who had taken the shot. Then, a short distance away, he spotted Astrid, who waved to him. Thorvald smiled back, and nodded his approval. Thorvald slowly got up and placed the tip of his sword against Kjardan' s throat. " Go ahead, and kill me you little bastard ! " Kjardan screamed in anger and pain. Thorvald just smiled at the king as Astrid ran over to them. The princess aimed her bow at his head, and shouted " No King of Opplandene, you will not die by our hands ! My father will want to deal with you personally ! " For the first time in his life King Kjardan felt fear !
The battle did not last much longer. Some of the Opplandene warriors were given quarter, mostly by King Olaf, but many of them were killed whether they laid down their weapons or not. King Kjardan was dragged to where King Runolf was resting under a tree having his wounds tended to. He had fought well but his imprisonment had sapped his strength, and he had several flesh wounds from blows he could not fend off. When Thorvald' s warriors brought KIng Kjardan before King Runolf, the injured king suddenly felt a burst of energy. He smiled, and lifted himself off of the ground. " It is so nice to see you again Kjardan ! " Runolf told him sarcastically. Then he turned to Prince Thorvald, who was standing with Astrid : " Prince of Hedemark, please take my daughter away from here. I do not want her to see this ! " the king said firmly. Thorvald helped Astrid back up onto her horse, and then they both rode back to King Olaf on the other side of the battlefield. When they were out of earshot, Runolf knelt down beside Kjardan and whispered in his ear : " Now we will see how you like to be tortured you evil son of a bitch ! "
Runolf motioned for Torf, one of his largest warriors, to come forward. As half a dozen warriors held Kjardan face down, Torf cut away Kjardan' s clothes. Slowly, using a seax knife, Torf cut away the king's ribs by the spine, as Kjardan screamed in agony ! He then pulled back the ribs so they resembled a bloody eagle. Before Kjardan could seek relief from the pain in death, Torf reached into Kjardan' s body, grabbed hold of his still breathing lungs, and pulled them out through the gaping wounds. King Kjardan' s final scream was heard over the entire battlefield. Thorvald and Astrid did not stop, or turn around. The Opplandene king had gotten what he deserved !
End Chapter 10
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 11 : The Joining Of Two Kingdoms.