Assessing The Damage
The Gods disappeared as quickly as they had come. Magni and Modi joined Thor on his goat drawn cart, waved their farewells, and slowly flew away into the distance. The stunned villagers were left to assess the damage on their own, and it was not a pretty sight ! The Jotuns had not missed anything during their angry rampage. Every hut, and longhouse had been leveled, fences were torn to pieces, and the pens for the swine, and other farm animals, were all destroyed. Almost all of their possessions, from fine jewelry to the most basic piece of pottery had also been broken into bits. Worst of all most of the farm animals lay dead on the ground, and the few that survived had run off into the forest.
As Sigvaldi surveyed the massive devastation with his warriors he thanked the Gods that the crops had not been damaged by the marauding Jotuns. In a few weeks they would have food to eat, and enough to store. Of course the grain storage sheds had also been flattened and would have to be rebuilt.
Sigvaldi put most of the villagers to work clearing away the debris so they could begin to rebuild their village. The Chieftain of Tofte sent a group of warriors, led by Arngeir, to go through the forest looking for survivors, and to bury the dead. Sigvaldi could hardly look Arngeir in the eyes as he asked him to please find Geirny's body. He knew it was selfish to ask for someone to look for one individual in particular when so many of his people's loved ones had died at the hands of the Jotuns. Sigvaldi had placed his people and his village above all else during the crisis, but now that it was over he was devastated that Geirny, the only woman he had ever loved, was nowhere to be found. No one had seen her since she and her handmaidens attacked the netted Giants.
As Arngeir led his warriors through the remains of the village to the edge of the forest they began to find the broken bodies of their friends and family members scattered all about them. Although all the defenses had ultimately failed Arngeir was surprised at just how few of the villagers had actually been killed in the battle. Thirty bodies was the initial count, and when compared to the eighteen Jotuns they found dead, from the Far Slopes to the edge of the forest just beyond the village, he began to realize that Sigvaldi's plan truly was a very good one.
Arngeir ordered that the bodies of the Giants, who were killed in the nets and by the swinging logs, were to be tossed into the pits on top of the dead Jotuns who were already there . The Jotuns who died on the Far Slopes were much too far away to be dragged all the way back to the village and were left to the birds and the wild animals.
While moving the final Jotun, who was badly entangled in one of the large fishing nets the warriors heard a low moaning sound. They quickly dropped the Giant and drew their swords. The Jotun did not move or moan even after repeated stabbings so they decided to lift the body again. It was then that Thorvald noticed something moving in a bunched up section of the net. He was about to poke at what he thought was a wild animal with his sword when Arngeir grabbed his arm and stopped him.
Arngeir could not see what it was that was moving under the netting. Branches, leaves and other debris, had been caught up in the net, and they hid what lay beneath. The commander knelt down and placed his ear almost up to the edge of the net. Concerned, Thorvald placed his hand on Arngeir's shoulder.
" Be careful ! Nothing is more dangerous than a trapped wild animal ! " Thorvald warned his commander.
Arngeir ignored Thorvald's advice, and allowed his ear to touch the netting. He listened intently, but he could not hear anything over the noise of the forest. And then.... then.... he heard a whimper, a moan so faint it was barely audible.
" Cut the netting away ! " he shouted.
When Thorvald stepped back and gave his commander a confused look he shouted louder.
" Cut the netting away NOW ! " he told all of his warriors.
The warriors pulled out their knives and went to work on the tough netting. Once a section was cut through it was pulled back, and Arngeir along with his warriors began to pull away the branches, and other debris that covered the moaning human beneath.
Thorvald was the first to spot the hand .
" It is a woman ! " he cried out.
Arngeir with a mighty effort removed the last large branch that covered the woman. What he saw underneath it's many leaves made even the tough Arngeir smile. For there, lying injured before him, was Geirny. She appeared to be badly bruised and her face was scratched on one side, but she was alive !
Arngeir and Thorvald gently lifted Geirny out of the tangled netting while the other warriors looked on. They carefully set her down on the ground under a large oak tree.
" Where are you hurt ? " Arngeir questioned her.
Geirny looked up at Arngeir with tears in her eyes.
" Is Sigvaldi alive ! " she blurted out.
Arngeir smiled and shook his head.
" You must really love Sigvaldi ! You care more about him than you do yourself ! " he told her.
Geirny's eyes narrowed.
" Is he alive ?! " she asked again angrily.
" Of course he survived ! You should have more faith in Sigvaldi..... the Gods do ! " he told her in a scolding tone.
" Gods ? " she asked.
" I will tell you about that later ! Now where are you hurting ? " he asked again.
Geirny placed her left hand on her right shoulder.
" My shoulder is disjointed, and I am sure that my right arm is broken. " she told him with a wince as she tried to move it.
Thorvald peered down at her with a deep frown upon his face.
" And how did you manage to get yourself all tangled up in the net ? " he asked the shield maiden.
Geirny took a deep breath before she answered.
" It was very strange ! A man, an old man, pushed me out of the way just as a Giant was about to strike me down. When I fell I somehow got rolled up in the net as the Jotun tried to free himself. " she told him
Then she looked up and asked Arngeir :
" Do you have an old warrior with a patch over one eye, and a long braided beard in your army ? "
Arngeir thought for a moment before answering.
" The description does not sound familiar. If he lived, however, I will reward him for saving your life ! " he told her.
Geirny nodded and smiled.
" Thank You ! " she told him gratefully.
Arngeir then looked over at Thorvald.
" Do you wish to carry her by her legs, or her arms ? " Arngeir asked.
" I will take the other. " he added.
Thorvald laughed !
" Both ends are just as beautiful, but I will take her legs ! " he replied.
Geirny gave them both a cross look.
" I believe that I am quite capable of walking on my own ! " she told them with a smile.
End Chapter 13
Next : Chapter 14 : A New Beginning
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.