Risking It All !
King Hallkell had been contemplating his battle strategy all through the night. Now, in the early morning light, the king of More decided upon a daring plan to destroy Brynjolf' s army once and for all . King Hallkell was tired of fighting these invaders who had plagued his kingdom for over half of his twenty year reign. He had decided to use himself as bait to annihilate his longtime enemy. While he remained exposed in the center of his line he would allow the Lade army to plunge deep into that central core where he defended his army. He would then allow the Lade army to push his middle forces back while Kolskegg and Thord, who protected his flanks, would fold themselves around the Lade army encircling them, and leaving them with no avenue of escape. As long as he could contain King Brynjolf within the circle he could slowly constrict his army around the Lade warriors until he killed or captured every last one of them.
As KIng Hallkell was explaining his battle plan to Kolskegg and Thord, the two experienced leaders gave each other worried glances. Kolskegg and Thord were the king' s most trusted warriors, but even they could see the many dangers inherent in their king's plan. His two leaders asked such questions as : " What if King Brynjolf destroys the center of the line before they can outflank the Lade army ? ", and, " What should they do if King Brynjolf did not take the " bait ", but instead concentrated on the flanks as King Hallkell moved back his center ? " The king, however, refused to consider their concerns. His plan would work. It had to work !
While the armies positioned themselves for the attack a white - winged horse landed in the forest at the edge of the battlefield in between the two armies. Although her horse was white, and the Valkyrie was dressed in full gleaming battle armor, no one on either side seemed to notice her. Skogul dismounted , and found herself a position where she would be away from the actual fighting, but close enough to see almost everything that was about to take place on the battlefield. The Valkyrie had of course made sure that she was on the side of the battlefield where her lover Kolskegg was positioned. Skogul had great confidence in Kolskegg' s abilities as a warrior, but as she waited, hidden behind a large oak tree, the battle maiden began to feel uneasy.
As the battle began Skogul felt that it almost looked as if it were choreographed. The Lade army moved slowly forward in a perfectly straight shield wall. They maintained their uniform approach until they came within about fifty yards of their enemy, and then they broke into a run.
With King Hallkell anchoring the center, and Kolskegg and Thord anchoring the flanks, the More army remained static until the Lade warriors broke into a run. King Hallkell' s lines then tightened their shield walls into an almost impassible barrier of wooden shields. Protruding out of each slot between their shields were spears ready to impale any and all Lade warriors who dared to try and break through their wall.
Many of King Brynjolf' s warriors slowed when they saw the spears suddenly shoot out of their enemy' s shields. If was not that these battle hardened warriors feared their opponent's weapons, they simply were looking for the best place in the line to attack. A few of the Lade warriors, berserkers one and all, cared little for their own lives, and flung themselves against the shield wall with their swords and axes swinging wildly from side to side. One overzealous berserker tried to jump over the More shield wall, but was quickly skewered for his gallant effort.
The fighting quickly broke down into individual battles as the shield wall disintegrated under the sheer weight of the Lade attack. As per King Hallkell' s orders the center of the line began to move backwards step by step which hollowed out the center of his army. King Brynjolf of Lade led the attack in the center personally as he tried to reach the man who had been his sworn enemy for years. Much like a game of chess, the king of Lade was trying to capture, or kill, the opposing king to win the war.
As with all the best made plans the battle did not play out as it was intended. King Brynjolf was no fool ! He had sent part of his army to hold back Thord' s left flank, and another part of his army to keep Kolskegg' s right flank from folding around his army as he went after the king of More. Brynjolf, at least at the onset of hostilities, seemed to have the upper hand, at least as far as Skogul could tell.
Kolskegg and his warriors found themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives. As Kolskegg tried to envelope the Lade army with his right flank his lines were severely extended and thinned. His warriors were fiercely attacked by the left flank of the Lade army who's leaders saw their weakness, and broke off from the center of their line. The same was happening on the other flank as Thord was attacked by the right flank of the Lade army after he became overextended. The fighting on the flanks soon became a bloodbath as both sides fought with a fury seldom seen in battle.
As the fighting became more intense it became impossible to hold together a shield wall, and the fighting broke down into pockets of fighting, with individuals pitted against one another in life and death struggles. The noise was deafening as blows from swords, and axes, clanged off of opposing weapons, or thumped off of wooden shields. The screams of the wounded, and the dying, intermixed with the yelling of orders on both sides, to complete the macabre symphony of battle.
Suddenly, Kolskegg found himself in trouble ! He, along with a small number of his men, had become isolated and surrounded by a superior force of Lade warriors. The only way out of their predicament was to fight their way back to their own lines. As the battle raged all around him Kolskegg found himself teamed up with a large warrior who wore a brightly polished helmet with a full face shield. So as not to be attacked from behind the two warriors fought back to back to protect one another. Kolskegg was amazed at how the warrior sliced through every opponent who came before him, and he felt himself very fortunate to be fighting with such a superior fighter.
Kolskegg, and his little band of isolated warriors, were making steady, but somewhat slow, progress back to their own lines. They had killed every threat placed before them with the loss of only a few of their own. But just as it looked liked they would reach their original position three dozen Lade warriors came running at them screaming like wild animals. As Kolskegg looked around he did not like the odds !
Skogul had seen enough ! The Valkyrie ran to Harbinger, and leaped onto her horse like an acrobat. In one motion she kicked her steed into flight, and drew her sword ready to do battle. Skogul did not care about Odin's laws, nor did she think of the blood oaths she swore to Odin, or her sister Valkyries. In that instant, that blink of an eye, all Skogul thought about was saving the man that she loved !
Kolskegg braced himself for what was about to come. Four Lade warriors had singled him out and were heading straight for him. For the second time in his life, he was not sure that he would survive. As he raised his shield, and braced himself for the first impact, he saw something out of the corner of his eye that caught his attention. What Kolskegg saw was something white coming his way very quickly !
Skogul was angry ! Her fury fueled her adrenaline as she stood up in the stirrups ready to strike at the warrior who was about to attack the man she loved. The Valkyrie raised her sword and aimed her blow to decapitate Kolskegg's opponent. With all her might she swung her sword at the warrior intending to strike him down. Then, suddenly, and without warning, Skogul found herself flying off of Harbinger !
Kolskegg blocked the sword stroke of his opponent and was about to counter strike when the warrior who had his back turned around and swung his spear just over his head. It all happened so quickly that Kolskegg did not even have time to react. Kolskegg then watched in amazement as this incredible warrior, in the same motion, hit his opponent with the butt of his spear knocking him back into the other three enemy warriors who were next in line to attack. The warrior then spun around and cut the first Lade warrior in half. Kolskegg stood frozen, and became a spectator to the events that were unfolding before him. The More warrior then dispatched each of the final three enemy fighters with a minimum of effort.
Skogul hit the ground with a hard thud. Although she was shocked by what happened she kept her wits about her, and was about to get up and join the fight, when the large warrior who was fighting with Kolskegg turned to face her. Skogul' s expression went from shock to fear as she recognized the warrior. " Odin ! " she shouted in disbelief.
The one - eyed warrior looked down on his Valkyrie angrily. " You do not belong here ! Leave ! " Odin screamed at his maiden.
Skogul, who could only be seen by Odin and Kolskegg, placed her sword back in its scabbard, remounted her horse, and flew back to the edge of the forest. The Valkyrie did not know what to make of what had just happened. " Was Odin planning on killing Kolskegg ? And if so why was he protecting him now ? " she thought to herself as she sat upon her great white steed watching the battle continue to unfold.
Kolskegg stood completely still and was in shock. " Odin ?! " he said as he stood staring into the face of the Valfather.
" Close your mouth son or someone will stick a sword in it ! " Odin told Kolskegg to break him out of his shock. " I see an opening back to our lines to our left, but we will have to fight hard to reach it ! " Odin added with a slight smile.
Kolskegg woke up out of his stupor and nodded. " Then let us get started ! " he shouted as they re- entered the battle.
The fight back to their original line was not as hard, and did not take as long, as Kolskegg had feared. With Odin leading the way the God swept through enemy warriors as though he were cutting wheat at harvest time. Kolskegg had to go out of his way just to find an enemy warrior to engage in battle, because Valfather left so little alive around them. When they reached their original position, and were once again with their own warriors, Kolskegg could see that the battle was beginning to wind down.
The Lade army had placed all of their effort into penetrating the center of the More line, and had failed. But the More army had also failed in their mission to surround the Lade army. King Brynjolf had come very close to destroying the main part of the More army, but now, pressed on three sides, the king of Lade was fighting a slow withdrawal back to his original position just over the border in More. By nightfall King Brynjolf had admitted defeat and led his remaining warriors back across the border into Lade.
Skogul stayed on the battlefield until the fighting ended. When she saw that Kolskegg was safe she kicked Harbinger into flight and returned to Valhalla. As she landed at Odin' s great hall, she was not sure what she should do. She felt the call of Odin to gather up the dead from the battlefield that she had just left, but she knew she was no longer wanted there. All she could do now was wait and wonder what her fate would be. She was certain of one thing, however, Odin would not deal with her as kindly this time !
With the battle over Odin addressed Kolskegg firmly. " Let us talk ! " he told the warrior as he pointed to a secluded patch of woods off to their left. Odin removed his helmet when they reached a place where they could no longer be seen. " I have but one question to ask you. " he told Kolskegg. " Would you give up your life for my Valkyrie Skogul ? ! " he asked firmly.
Kolskegg stepped back and drew his sword. " Yes ! Even if it means dying by your hand great Odin ! " he said proudly . The tired warrior then stood silently waiting to die.
Odin stepped forward, and nodded to Kolskegg. " Then it begins ! " he told the human sternly. Valfather smiled at the human before turning and walking away. After several steps Odin disappeared like smoke in a stiff breeze.
Kolskegg stood in his battle stance trying to comprehend what had just taken place. Hundreds of possibilities raced through his mind at once making the proud warrior feel dizzy, and unsure of himself. Kolskegg stood at the edge of the battlefield gazing off in the distance for some time. It was as if he expected Odin to reappear at any moment.
Suddenly, Thord came running up from his position on the right, shouting as he approached. " King Hallkell has been killed !" he screamed as he ran. " He has died without an heir ! " he added as he reached Kolskegg out of breath. " Kolskegg ! The warriors are calling for you to lead the army ! " he shouted at Kolskegg whose attention was elsewhere.
Kolskegg was still reeling from his confrontation with Odin, and what Thord was telling him was not sinking in. From his state of shock all he could weakly manage was : " What ? "
Thord grabbed his friend by the shoulders and shook him hard ! " They are demanding that you become their king ! " he shouted loudly into Kolskegg' s face.
- End Chapter 11
- Next : Chapter 12 : Final Judgement !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.