Good Witch, Bad Witch !
The King' s Plan
Queen Imd walked up the steps, and sat down on the high seat next to her husband. " I have not been entirely honest with you my dear. I rode to Jarnvid before your warriors left, and arrived before them. There I spoke to a troll woman named Amvid and her husband Branmir. They told me that Eistla is not the evil one. " she told her husband. Hastigi gave his wife a nasty look. " And you believed them ?! " he asked. Embarrassed, Imd lowered her head. " They took me to see Eistla, and I spoke directly to her. I am convinced that she is not the source of the evil that plagues Jotunheim. " she told him. Hastigi stood up and hovered over his wife's high seat like an eagle over its prey. " And why would these troll people trust you enough to bring you to see the witch Eistla ? " the king asked in a cold voice. Imd slowly stood up and turned her back to her husband. " Because I am the one who allowed them to take Eistla when she was a baby. " she told him through lips that trembled.
King Hastigi was silent for a moment. " Then you believe that Eistla has no reason to harbor feelings of ill will toward us, or Jotunheim ? " he asked his wife. Imd slowly turned, faced her husband, and broke down in tears. " I could not let the child die if there was a chance for her to have a happy life.... and with the trolls she has found love and happiness ! " she told her husband. " Why would she hate us ? " she asked in return. Hastigi stroked his beard for a moment. " Then there is only one other who could be causing these curses. " he said more to himself than to his wife. " But how to prove it ?! " he asked out loud as he sat back down.
Later that day King Hastigi and Queen Imd rode out to a secluded mountain plateau. They had to be careful. Very careful ! If Ulfrun was the source of the evil then it was of the utmost importance that she not find out what they were planning. From the midday, until the distant shine of Sunna's rays began to fade, they discussed any, and every possible way of proving Ulfrun' s guilt. Then, as the last bit of light was drained from the sky, they finally decided on a way to trap Ulfrun, that is if she was the evil witch.
The very next morning the king and queen put their plan into action. King Hastigi and Queen Imd, with their beautiful daughter the Princess Ulfrun sitting by their side, announced to a packed hall of Jotuns that they had a way of finding out if the witch Eistla was truly the evil sorceress who was plaguing their world with curses. " I will send a courier to the Jarnvid forest with a message asking this witch to cast a spell that will make our Jotun warriors bigger and stronger ! " he announced to a bewildered audience. Queen Imd then stood up and pointed around the room. " And by her actions we Jotuns will judge this witch ! If our warriors are made stronger, then she is a good witch. But if another evil befalls our kingdom then we will no that she is, and has always been, the evil cursing our world ! " she shouted to a cheering crowd. Princess Ulfrun played the part of a faithful daughter perfectly as she sat on her little high seat smiling at the cheering Jotuns. Inside, however, she was already planning the destruction of her sister, and the takeover of the Jotun kingdom !
At first light, and among great fanfare, the king gave the message to the courier, Ondud. The Jotuns watched carefully as he placed the parchment into his pouch, and cheered as he swiftly rode away. Once out of sight, however, Ondud slowed down his pace, and trotted his horse towards the Jarnvid forest. For only he, the king, and the queen, knew that there was no message written on the parchment.
Ulfrun waited until the messenger Ondud had been gone a while before performing any of her evil magic. The first thing she had to do was make sure that Ondud never reached the Jarnvid forest. Through the power of her mind she made the messenger's horse suddenly rear up and throw Ondud off. As he hit the ground hard Ondud felt something in his back snap. As the courier lay on the ground motionless, and completely helpless, he was sure that he would never feel anything again from the waist down. In the king's great hall sat the real evil witch with a little smile on her face. It was then Ulfrun began the second phase of her plan.
Out of a skunks musk she made a potion that would surely sicken all of the warriors of Jotunheim. In the middle of the night she transported herself to the warriors encampment, and placed a few drops of the potion into each one of their barrels of mead. Then she went back to the great hall and waited for the potion take effect . As she bedded down for the night Ulfrun was sure that her ugly, but good sister, would soon be hunted down and killed. And then with all of the Jotunheim warriors being ill, she would kill her mother and father, and rule Jotunheim alone !
By the next morning reports were coming into the great hall of an epidemic that was sweeping its way through the warriors camp. The king and queen immediately rushed to see for themselves what was happening to their army. After observing the grave state of his warriors King Hastigi came back to his hall, and proclaimed that he himself would travel to Jarnvid to stop the evil witch who had ignored his request for help and was sickening his army. " I will burn down the entire forest if I must to kill her ! " he shouted to those who came to his hall for answers. Ulfrun, grinning from ear to ear, was the first to applaud his decision. The king of course knew that there was no message, and that it could not be Eistla who was causing this devastating illness. He would go to Jarnvid again, but not to harm the witch who lived there.
The next morning King Hastigi and Queen Imd, playing their roles to the hilt, dressed in full battle armor, mounted their horses, and rode out of Jotunheim to the well wishes of the Jotuns who had come to see them off. The king and queen knew all too well that Ulfrun was much too powerful for them to defeat, even if his army was not deathly ill, and could attack the witch. No ! The only way to defeat a witch as evil and powerful as Ulfrun was to enlist the help of a witch who was just as powerful !
When her mother and father left Ulfrun saw her chance to seize power. The warriors were much too sick to oppose her, and she had little to fear from the elders and maidens of Jotunheim who might take up arms against her. Ulfrun' s very first act, as self proclaimed queen of Jotunheim, was to have two of the high seats thrown out of the great hall. Ulfrun had no intention of ever sharing power with anyone ! She would rule alone, and her power would be absolute !
As mid - morning rolled around Ulfrun decided to ride down to the warrior's camp, and give them all an ultimatum. " You will take an oath of allegiance to me, and me alone, or you will wallow in disease and sickness until you die ! " she told them. A few of the warriors took her up on her offer, but most wanted nothing to do with the witch who they now knew was the one who had been plaguing their world with curses. The warriors who chose to join her were given a potion made from the saliva of bears, which quickly gave them back their strength. When some of the defiant warriors saw that their comrades were made well again, they begged the witch to cure them also. Ulfrun laughed as she told them : " You have made your sick beds, and it is there that you shall die in misery ! "
Later Ulfrun traveled back to the great hall, and sat on her lone high seat in the dark. She assumed that Eistla would soon kill the king and queen for her, and then, along with her warriors, she would journey to the Jarnvid forest and kill her good sister Eistla. " Your goodness is your weakness sister. My hatred makes my magic stronger than anything you can conjure, and your compassion for others will be your downfall ! " she screamed in the empty hall.
End chapter 6
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 7 : The Final Confrontation !