Child Of Destiny
A Daring Raid
Astrid was relieved to see Thorvald ! And as he promised he brought along many of his own warriors. " How did you get away without being seen ? " Astrid asked. My parents held a grand feast last night, and few if any, were in much shape to question what we were doing . " Thorvald replied. " Can your men be trusted ? " Astrid asked. " My warriors will protect, me, and you, and even Magnus with their lives, princess ! " the prince stated emphatically. Astrid looked over at Magnus, and shook her head. " Magnus, please put your sword away. " Magnus slowly placed his sword back into his scabbard. As he did the two Hedemark archers lowered their weapons. " My men have taken a blood oath to help us save your father, and are willing to give up their lives if necessary, princess . " Thorvald added. " Well, let us hope that it does not come down to that, Prince Thorvald . " Astrid replied with a smile. " When should we leave prince ? " Astrid asked. "Mount up princess, we need to leave now ! " Thorvald told her as he remained in his saddle.
The journey through Upper Hedemark was relatively easy and uneventful. This changed drastically, however, when they reached the mountains that ran from eastern Hedemark into Opplandene. The mountain passes were rather narrow, rocky and very treacherous. One of Thorvald' s men was thrown from his horse, on the slippery trail, and fell over the cliff to a rocky shelf below killing him. From that point on Thorvald ordered his men to walk their horses through the most difficult sections of the ridges.
At first Astrid and Thorvald spoke to one another only as allies, who were on a dangerous mission, but as the days passed everyone could not help but notice that they were becoming closer and closer. Occasionally the prince and princess would steal a kiss when they thought no one was looking, but they were being protected by highly trained warriors who were always watching. Magnus was greatly disturbed when he saw them kiss for the first time. His father had been killed in one of the many border wars with Hedemark, and it angered him to see a prince from that evil land with their princess. Onund was not bothered by their relationship, but was surprised that Thorvald' s men seemed to accept their relationship without concern or protest.
On the fifth day they reached the small mountain that overlooked King Kjardan's great hall. They had been lucky so far. No one had seen them, and they had not seen anyone along the way either, which considering the terrain they had traveled through was not surprising. Thorvald was confident that they had reached their destination undetected. As Astrid and Thorvald peered over a large rock formation down on the great hall, they could see Kjardan's warriors milling around. They appeared to be in a high state of readiness, and were armed for battle. Thorvald thought for a moment, and then whispered to Astrid : " We will camp here and get some rest, and when the moon is directly overhead, and their is little activity in their camp, we will attack the great hall and rescue your father. " Astrid nodded : " I think we should go in quietly and try to get my father out without a pitched battle. The Opplandene warriors are preparing for war, and there are many more here than there were for the great feast. " Astrid told him. " I agree ! I think a full out attack on the hall would be a disaster ! We must get in and out, alerting as few of their warriors as possible, to minimize our casualties, and to insure that we can get your father out alive. " Thorvald replied.
Thorvald told his men to try and get some sleep before nightfall. He wanted his men well rested, and asleep they would be quieter, and less likely to alert their enemy below. Thorvald and Astrid fell asleep in each others arms, under a small pine tree, and with a rock as their pillow. Magnus, who was whittling a stick with his dirk, thought to himself : " Even if this goes well, and we rescue the king, will the people of our two kingdoms who hate each other accept them as husband and wife ? " Onund, who sat next to Magnus, saw that his friend was watching the prince and princess, patted him on the shoulder, and smiled. " Our future lies with them, my old friend. " Onund told him. " We are risking our lives, Onund , I hope you are right ! Magnus replied, and then closed his eyes to sleep.
Thorvald was not asleep for long when he fell into a deep dream state. He found himself alone at the bottom of the mountain, about a hundred yards from the hall. Suddenly he heard the rustling of leaves, and drew his sword. From behind a tree a beautiful woman with flowing hair appeared before him. She did not walk upon the ground, but somehow seemed to be floating just above it. With an alluring smile the woman motioned for Thorvald to follow her. Curious, he followed her, but kept his distance. When they reached the forest just behind the great hall the woman entered the woods. From there they proceeded about two hundred yards when the woman suddenly stopped, and pointed to a dark point on the side of the mountain. At first Thorvald could not make out what it was, but as he came closer he saw that it was a tunnel. The woman, who's hair streamed backwards as if blown by an invisible wind, smiled, nodded, and pointed inside the cave. Thorvald entered the opening, and walked with the floating maiden through the cave. Though it was pitch black inside, the mysterious woman glowed like a torch which lighted their way. After a short walk they reached the end, and a door. Thorvald slowly pulled the door open, and found himself in what he thought must be the great hall. But this was not a part of the great hall that he had seen when he attended the great feast. This appeared to be a dark, cold, and rarely used section of the hall. They did not walk far before the glowing woman stopped and pointed towards a door. Thorvald reached out for the handle, and slowly opened the door. Inside he saw King Runolf chained to a wall, and looking poorly. Runolf opened his bleeding mouth, and uttered over and over again : " Thorvald, Thorvald, Thorvald.........
One of Thorvald's warriors stood over him as he awoke. " Thorvald, Thorvald, Thorvald ! Prince it has grown dark, and it is time to move down the mountain. " the man told him. Thorvald rubbed the fog of sleep out of his eyes, and replied : " Yes, I see that ! Thank You ! " Astrid looked over at Thorvald and asked : " Bad dream ? " " No ! An illuminating one ! I think I know a way into the great hall without us being detected ! " Thorvald told her excitedly. Astrid was confused by his answer, but she trusted the prince, and would follow him wherever he lead her.
By the time they had reached the great hall the moon had already begun to descend from its apex. Astrid was surprised when Thorvald posted most of his warriors on the edge of the woods at the back of the hall. The prince personally chose only ten of his warriors to go into the hall. As Astrid, Onund, and Magnus followed closely behind, the prince did something she did not expect. He turned away from the hall, and walked into the woods behind it. After a short walk they reached the side of a hill where Astrid saw what appeared to be a cave opening. Thorvald led the way, told everyone to hold hands, and to move forward feeling the wall on their left to guide them. Without the glimmering woman to show him the way he would have to feel his way to the end to find the door that led into the rear of the great hall. Astrid tried to speak several times but was asked to be quiet, because even the slightest sound echoed in the cavern.
After what seemed like an eternity, Thorvald literally walked into the door. As he felt for the handle he drew his sword. The prince opened the door slowly, and was temporarily blinded by the torches that lit the corridor, in this part of the hall. When his eyes had acclimated to the light, he saw , just as he had in his dream, the door to King Runolf' s room. The door was unguarded, which did not surprise Thorvald. In his dream the king was chained to the wall, and could not hope to escape. As they moved into the hallway each of the soldiers fanned out as they drew their swords to give themselves fighting room should an attack take place. When Thorvald reached the king's room, he motioned to one of his warriors that he had handpicked for this mission, to come forward. Thorvald knew that Tirsen was a blacksmith, who it was said could open any lock no matter how large or complex. Thorvald walked into the room first, and silently pointed to the chains that bound the king. Tirsen smiled and went to work immediately, as Thorvald motioned for Astrid to enter. Thorvald whispered to the rest of his men to remain outside, and guard the door.
King Runolf awoke as the blacksmith was moving the chains. His first thought was that he was going to be tortured again by Kjardan' s sadistic men, but the first face he saw was Astrid's . As he came to his senses, he realized what his daughter was attempting to do. " Daughter ! What are you doing here ! This is a dangerous place, you should not be here ! " the king told her through dried cracked lips. Before she could answer the king spotted Thorvald. " Prince, why are you here ?! " the king demanded. " Saving your life King Runolf ! " Thorvald whispered. " Or maybe you are merely a part of King Kjardan's plan to take over my kingdom ! " the king shot back. " Or we could just leave you to die here King of Romerike ! " Thorvald replied angrily. Runolf looked away, and said no more. He had gone through days of intense torture, and wanted to either escape or die. " It will be alright father, " Astrid assured him, " Prince Thorvald is here to save your life and our kingdom. "
After a short while Tirsen put his head down, and looked over at Prince Thorvald. " Prince, I am afraid I cannot remove these locks. They are rusted, and the mechanisms no longer function. " the blacksmith told him regretfully. Thorvald's eyes narrowed as he raised his sword high overhead. The blacksmith cringed as he waited for what he expected to be a death blow. Instead, of killing the blacksmith, Thorvald swung his sword as hard as he could, striking the chains just above the lock on the king's right hand. Onund stepped forward as the king slumped awkwardly to one side as the chain let go, and held him up. Thorvald then swung his sword at the other chain, which broke and released the king from his captivity. Magnus was there to grab hold of the king' s other arm so he would not fall.
The loud cracking sound of Thorvald's sword hitting metal reverberated throughout the great hall alerting King Kjardan's warriors. Thorvald's men quickly formed a shield wall, two deep in the corridor, as Onund and Magnus carried the king out of the room, and down the hall to the secret entrance to the tunnel. Just as the last warrior closed the door to the tunnel. King Kjardan's warriors came streaming down the hall, and into the now empty torture chamber. When they saw that the king was gone, they headed straight for the tunnel entrance. About halfway out of the tunnel Thorvald realized that, burdened as they were with the injured king, they were not going to make it out of the tunnel before Kjardan's warriors caught up to them. Thorvald stopped and ordered his warriors to stand and hold their enemy back to allow the king to escape. Astrid wanted to stay with Thorvald, but he told her to leave, and attend to her father.
Thorvald stood in the middle of a shield wall that stretched across the tunnel's width. In the distance, and coming fast, he could see the enemy warrriors approaching, their motions eerily lit by the torches they held. When they came close enough for Thorvald to see their faces, the Opplandene warriors began to scream like animals who sensed an easy kill. Suddenly, the tunnel began to shake, and the beams that held up the roof in front of Thorvald's shield wall cracked and gave way. The entire tunnel, back to the hall, collapsed crushing all of the Opplandene warriors who had entered the tunnel. Thorvald, and his men, were covered in dirt and dust, but were uninjured. Once they came to grips with what had just happened, and regained their senses, they rushed out of the dust filled tunnel, and into the fresh night air.
From up on his high seat Hlidskjalf, Odin laughed as he shouted down at Midgard : " Kjardan, you bastard ! Did you really think that I would allow you to kill the father of the child of destiny ! ? " When Odin saw that Frigga and Freyja were giggling at him, he gave them a shrug of his shoulders. " Did you think I was going to let you two have all the fun ?! " Odin said with a chuckle. Odin then reached out with his mind to Jord. " Thank you my earthly mistress ! " he told her. Jord was always willing to help the one who had fathered the protector of Midgard, and a little earthquake was such a small thing to ask anyway.
Knut, the leader of King Kjardan's hall guards, ran up to the king who had been woken by the commotion, and was standing in the hallway outside of his bed chamber . " My lord, some of our enemy have infiltrated our hall, and escaped with King Runolf into the mountains. I am preparing a number of men to go after them ! " Knut informed him. Kjardan pulled Knut's sword out of its scabbard, and before the guard could react he stuck it into his belly. " No need for all that Knut. I don' t want Runolf ! I want his kingdom ! " Kjardan shouted. Using both hands he then lifted the guard off of the floor, ripping his insides apart. He then let go of the sword, and Knut' s dead body fell to the floor in a heap. " King Kjardan then shouted : " Prepare the army for war, we are moving south at first light ! " And somebody clean up this mess ! " he added.
End Chapter 8
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 9 : Two Kingdoms, One Cause !