Child Of Destiny
As they reached the valley, below the Opplandene mountains, they spotted a small herd of deer feeding at the edge of a meadow. The king, and his guard Karl, dismounted and went on foot to track the deer, while the other warrior, Magnus, was left to watch the horses. King Runolf tracked the herd for about a mile before they stopped at a small stream to drink at the base of the mountain. He then moved silently around the herd until he had a clear shot at a large male. As he placed the arrow on the string, to ready himself to fire, he suddenly felt a searing pain in his right leg which put him down on one knee. Karl, seeing an arrow sticking out of his king's leg instinctively jumped in front of him, and took an arrow in the chest for his bravery, killing him instantly !
Up on a ledge, overlooking the valley, the warrior Viglund had seen the Romerike warriors approaching the Opplandene border. While they tracked the deer, Viglund carefully tracked them. His first shot was caught by the wind, and faded as it reached the hunter with the bow, hitting him in the leg. His second shot, for which he compensated for the wind, was intercepted by the other warrior in the chest, who appeared to be trying to help him. Viglund slowly made his way down to where the injured warrior was lying on the ground in obvious pain. He kept his bow trained on the man as he approached, but his eyes were scanning in the distance to see if anyone else was coming to his aide.
King Runolf looked up at the man who stood over him, and then back down at Karl who was lying motionless on the ground. Injured and alone, the king felt he had only one way out of this. " You idiot ! I am King Runolf of Romerike ! Do you have any idea what you have done ! " he shouted at the warrior. Surprised, Viglund laughed. " Yes, I do King Runolf ! I have captured the King of Romerike ! I am going to turn you over to King Kjardan, and hopefully receive a huge reward for the price of only a few arrows. " Viglund replied. King Runolf tried to fight off Viglund, but the Opplandene warrior smashed his sword's hilt into the king' s face rendering him unconscious. Viglund tied the king's hands behind his back, and used a cloth he had to wrap around the wound to stop the bleeding from the arrow's wound. Viglund laughed as he tied it tightly : " Kjardan will not pay as much for a dead king as he will for a living one ! " Viglund then whistled to his horse, which came down the mountain path, to where he waited with his prize. He helped the king into the saddle, grabbed the reins, and led the king up the path, and through the mountains back to Opplandene.
Magnus began to worry when the king and Karl did not return in what he deemed as a reasonable amount of time. The sun had crossed the sky, and he felt that something must be wrong. Magnus mounted his horse, and slowly followed the footsteps imprinted in the snow. It took a while for him to reach the valley, and there to find Karl' s body lying in the snow. With sword drawn he followed the hoof prints that lead away from the guard's body, over the pass, and over the border into Opplandene. There he stopped, and went back. Magnus knew that one man alone in a strange land could not do very much to help his king. He would need help if he was going to be able to rescue King Runolf. He was very worried by the occasional spot of blood that he saw in the snow as he tracked the king, and his kidnapper. One of them was injured ! On the way back he made a makeshift sled out of branches, and tied it to the saddle on his horse. He placed Karl's body on the sled and tied it fast to the sides. " Sorry my old friend . This is the best I can do to get you home. " he told his dead friend. Magnus then made his way back to the king's hall as fast as his horse's new burden would allow.
Astrid was walking in the courtyard when Magnus rode up with Karl's body in tow. " Princess ! There has been trouble ! The king has been kidnapped, and taken to Opplandene ! he shouted to her as he dismounted. " Oh, no ! " shouted Astrid as they both ran into the court to tell the queen. " What is the meaning of this intrusion ! " the queen demanded as the doors flew open, and her daughter and a warrior ran into the great hall's court. Magnus ran up to her high seat, knelt, and blurted out : " The king has been kidnapped and taken to Opplandene ! " Queen Grima stood up in shock and yelled back at him : " And where were his guards when this was taking place ! " Magnus stood up and addressed the queen : " Karl is dead my queen, and the king put me in charge of watching the horses while they tracked a herd of deer. When they did not return I went to see what had happened. It was then that I found Karl' s body dead in the snow with an arrow in his chest, and the king missing. I tracked the rider to the Opplandene border, and then turned back. " the warrior explained.
Queen Grima looked past Magnus, and said to no one in particular : " How will we get my husband back ? We are not strong enough to attack Opplandene, and force his return . And if we did attack they would kill my husband long before we could rescue him ! What to do ? What to do ?! " she whispered loudly. " I am afraid that all we can do is wait for word from King Kjardan, and see what his demands are. " Magnus replied. " I want all of our warriors armed and brought to the great hall in case it is war that Opplandene wants ! " Queen Grima ordered.
The queen did not have long to wait ! Once Viglund brought King Runolf before King Kjardan, the plan quickly developed in the Opplandene king's mind. Kjardan quickly sent a messenger to Romerike demanding the entire northern half of Romerike for the return of their king. After giving Viglund 20 pieces of gold for a job well done, he had the arrow removed from King Runolf's leg. He did not particularly care if Runolf died, but a dead king was of no use as a bargaining tool. Once he got what he wanted he planned to have Runolf killed anyway ! King Kjardan then ordered that his army be mobilized, and camped out around his great hall, ready to move at a moments notice.
The Opplandene messenger was discovered soon after he crossed over the border into Romerike, and was escorted by Romerike warriors to the court to give King Kjardan's message to Queen Grima personally. With Astrid by her side she listened to the Opplandene king's demands, and his threats, if she did not do as she was told. " King Kjardan gives you seven sunrises to make your decision, Queen Grima, after which time your husband will be tortured and killed ! King Kjardan will be waiting for your answer ! " the messenger then told her emphatically. The messenger then turned, walked out of the great hall, and rode back to Opplandene unopposed.
Astrid turned to her mother : " What will we do mother ? ! " she asked. " I don' t know Astrid ! I cannot just give away half of our kingdom ! Not even for your father ! " she said with tears in her eyes. Princess Astrid could see that her mother was paralyzed with fear. She was not sure what she could do to help, but she made up her mind right there and then to go see Prince Thorvald and seek his assistance.
From up on Hlidskjalf Odin smiled from ear to ear. Freyja and Frigga gave each other questioning glances as they sensed that the All- Father had come up with a plan. Frigga frowned at her husband. " Why would Prince Thorvald help the Kingdom of Romerike in rescuing King Runolf ? " she asked. Odin looked at Freyja with his good eye, and smiled a wicked smile at her. Freyja understood at once . " He will help Astrid recover her father because I will raise Thorvald's passion for her to such a level he will not be able to refuse ! " Freyja said with a laugh. Frigga raised her eyebrows as she looked first at Freyja, and then at her husband. Odin and Freyja in turn laughed at her innocent confusion.
End Chapter 6
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 7 : Thorvald's plan.