There Can Only Be One Chieftain !
The defenders, as they had become known, were led by Sigvaldi and Geirny, and they comprised about two thirds of the entire village population. The remaining villagers stood firmly with their Chieftain, and wanted no part in what they considered a suicidal attempt to protect their homes against beings that they could not possibly hope to defeat.
The issue came to a head when Stein, one of Gandalfr's personal guards, spied Sigvaldi's warriors building guard towers on the large hill just past the Far Valley. Stein rode back to the Chieftain's great hall without delay, and told his lord that Sigvaldi had usurped his authority and was going ahead with the building of defenses against his direct orders.
Later that morning Gandalfr sat down with his personal guards and tried to decide what to do next. The Chieftain knew in his heart that he could not let what had happened in his hall stand. The warriors and shield maidens had not only said that they would ignore his orders, but they had embarrassed the old Chieftain in front of the prominent village elders. And now he had proof that they were defying his authority and preparing to defend to village.
Suddenly Gandalfr jumped up out of his seat and shouted :
" There can only be one leader ! " he exclaimed.
" Gather up my remaining guards, .....and see if any of the villagers loyal to us will join in confronting these brazen fools ! " he commanded Stein.
Stein nodded, and as he turned to leave he shouted :
" Yes, my lord ! "
Then Gandalfr turned and looked at each of his personal guards one by one.
" We are going to pay Sigvaldi a surprise visit ! " he told them with a grin.
After his guards had left the great hall to get their weapons and their horses, Gandalfr had his attendant help him on with his armor. As he grabbed his sword from the timid man, he drew it from its scabbard, and held it high over his head.
" If Sigvaldi wants a fight, then a fight he shall have ! " Gandalfr screamed angrily.
Geirny and Sigvaldi were watching the warriors put the final touches on the first of the guard towers when suddenly Arngeir, who was up in the tower enjoying the view, repelled down the wooden ladder by sliding down its sides, and ran over to the army leaders. Arngeir put his hand on Sigvaldi' s shoulder and pointed off into the distance as he spoke.
" Gandalfr is coming with about thirty warriors ! " he told them in an alarming tone.
" And they appear to be armed to the teeth ! " he added ominously.
Geirny stared at Sigvaldi with a bewildered look on her face.
" What do you think my father will do ? " she asked.
Sigvaldi looked to where Arngeir was pointing, and then drew his sword.
" I am afraid that your father would rather fight me than the Jotuns ! " he told her sadly.
Arngeir turned and yelled to the warriors who were working on the towers.
" Form up for battle ! " he commanded.
Geirny's eyes widened in shock and fear !
" Does it have to come down to this ! ? " she asked desperately.
Sigvaldi walked over to the tree where his shield lay propped up against its trunk. He picked the shield up and beat his sword against it several times before answering.
" That I am afraid my dear is up to your father ! " he replied with a hint of disgust in his voice.
Geirny immediately turned and ran in the direction that Arngeir had pointed. With her father's warriors riding at a fast gallop, it did not take long for her to meet up with the horsemen as they crested a small hill in the distance. The Chieftain's daughter jumped into their path and spread her arms wide to halt the riders.
" Father ! Do not do this ! We can sit down and discuss this ! There does not need to be any bloodshed ! " she exclaimed in rapid succession.
Gandalfr trotted his horse over to Geirny and leaned over its neck with an angry look upon his face.
" The time for talking is over ! Sigvaldi has gone against my wishes and must pay the price for his disloyalty ! " he yelled to his daughter before ordering his men forward.
Geirny watched in disbelief as her father and his warriors rode away.
" No father ! Please ! " she whispered to herself.
As Gandalfr rode ahead he saw that Sigvaldi had formed a shield wall. The Chieftain was not impressed, and had no intention of stopping, for what he saw as a puny show of strength. Instead he spurred his horse on ever faster, and drew his sword.
" Capture them if you can ! Kill them if you must !! " he yelled back to his men who trailed him into battle.
Unlike Gandalfr's guards, Sigvaldi's warriors were well trained, and very disciplined. As the Chieftain and his men reached their shield wall they parted, and dropped to their knees. With their shields held over their heads to block any blows from the riders as they passed, Sigvaldi's warriors slashed out at the horses legs with their sharp swords and axes.
One by one the horses fell spilling their riders hard on the ground. Only two horses made it through their ranks unscathed, and with their riders intact. One was Stein, and he kept riding, for he saw that Sigvaldi's warriors had cut all their men down with a simple infantry maneuver, and wanted no part of the slaughter that was sure to come. Gandalfr, however, spun his horse around and readied himself for a second attack.
Gandalfr was focused on Sigvaldi and did not see the warrior who leaped up and dragged him off of his horse. As they rolled along the ground the Chieftain was able to react first, and drew his seax from his belt. With all his might he stuck the great knife into the warriors belly, and gutted him like a pig.
Gandalfr quickly threw the man off of him and jumped up ready to join his warriors in battle. Unfortunately for the Chieftain the " battle " was over, and all of his men lay either injured or dead upon the ground. As he looked around he saw Sigvaldi standing a short distance from him. The shock of seeing his men laying on the ground dead faded when he saw the blood dripping from his commander's sword. With a roar he ran at Sigvaldi swinging his weapon with both hands at the man who dared to defy him !
Sigvaldi wanted to calm down the old man, who he had hoped would one day be his father - in - law, but the old Chieftain never gave him a chance to speak. With his sword swinging back and forth like a mad man , Gandalfr came at him with a speed that seemed to defy his age. Sigvaldi easily blocked the first several blows with his shield. Then with a skill that had become instinctive over the years he managed to work his sword under the old man's shield, and with one quick jab he thrust his blade through Gandalfr's belly and up into his chest.
Gandalfr's body tightened as the sword point entered his stomach and exited through his back. As Sigvaldi removed his sword the Chieftain dropped his weapon before falling to his knees. Gandalfr placed both of his hands over his gaping wound trying to stem the gushing blood, but it was a futile effort. The wound was fatal and all the old man could do was watch as his life's blood spilled out onto the ground. The last thing that Gandalfr saw, before death closed his eyes forever, was his daughter running towards him screaming : " No ! No !! NO!! "
As Geirny approached him Sigvaldi lowered his head and placed his sword back into its scabbard. Geirny stopped briefly in front of Sigvaldi and slapped him in the face, before pushing past him to get to her stricken father.
" I did not want this ! " he told Geirny sadly as she held her father's head in her arms.
With tears streaming down her face Geirny gave Sigvaldi an angry look.
" Whether you wanted it or not, my father is now dead ! " she screamed as she stroked her father's hair.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : Preparing The Defenses
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.