King Guthrum, once the shock of seeing King Arnulf's double wore off, ordered Sigbjorn to untie the king of Viborg. That was the easiest part of this whole mess for the king of the Danelaw ! For he still had a killer to deal with, along with the king who had deceived them all by hiding the murderer. And instead of having to worry about the Viborg army he now had to worry about the Vestfold army turning on him.
" Sigbjorn ! Have them bring my high - seat back into the hall immediately ! And escort these two in as well ! " the king commanded as he pointed to King Eymundr, and the warrior Vargr.
King Guthrum then turned to Arnulf and with an expression stuck somewhere between embarrassment and exasperation spoke to the king of Viborg in a softer tone.
" I hope that you will forgive,.... I mean under the circumstances how could I know,.... this was not something I could have forseen ! " Guthrum tried to explain before he stopped, because he now felt even more foolish than when he began.
King Guthrum composed himself, and redirected his thoughts before beginning again.
" Please go back to your hut and clean yourself up. I want you by my side when I pass judgement on these two Norwegian bastards. " he told Arnulf calmly.
Arnulf nodded and headed back to his hut. The king of Viborg held his tongue because anything that he said at that moment would have been tainted by anger, and not wisdom. And Odin's wisdom was something that his mother constantly taught him as a child. It did not, however, keep him from making a few choice words under his breath as he left.
King Arnulf took his time washing up and dressing. He made sure to put on his best clothes, and he even polished the hilt of his sword until it reflected the light of the torch burning in the room upon it's surface. Arnulf did not care that King Guthrum was waiting for him to arrive. After being put through such a demoralizing and shameful display by the king of the Danelaw, he planned on making a grand entrance when he stepped back into his great hall. To this purpose Arnulf went to see Lofarr before he went to join King Guthrum.
Guthrum was both surprised and worried when King Arnulf came bursting into his hall flanked on one side by Lofarr, his second in command, and followed by four rather large warriors. To his, and Sigbjorn's great relief the warriors stopped near the entrance, and only Arnulf and Lofarr came and stood by the side of his high - seat.
" Thank you for coming ! " Guthrum said in an authoritative, but yet apologetic tone.
Arnulf nodded, but said nothing as he turned to face the prisoners. His eyes caught those of King Eymundr's first. Despite the Norwegian king's predicament Arnulf could still see the Vestfolder's contempt for him on his face. It made Arnulf very mad ! Then his eyes slowly moved to the second prisoner. He was a large man, as tall, if not taller than himself, and despite his scaggly beard, which hid the bottom of his face, he did look as though they were both cut from the same mold.
" How could anyone look that much like me ? " he asked himself.
Arnulf's thoughts were interrupted by King Guthrum clearing his throat to quiet the room.
" Yesterday was a sad day indeed ! I lost my commander Ofaeti, who served me faithfully for many years, by the hand of this filthy pig who stands before me ! " he shouted angrily as he pointed at Vargr.
And then I find out today that the king of Vestfold knew of this murder, and was hiding him from me ! " he screamed even louder.
King Eymundr stepped forward with a smile and tried to explain.
" I do not condone what my warrior did, but when I saw that King Arnulf was finally to be punished for something, I decided to allow this to stand . " he told the king smugly.
Then he quickly added :
" I would have turned over Vargr eventually,... once King Arnulf was punished and gone of course. "
" Silence ! You piece of human excrement !! It is not what you were going to do that you will be punished for, it is what you did do that will decide your fate ! " the Danelaw king shot back.
King Guthrum turned to King Arnulf and placed his hand on his ally's shoulder.
" I have lost a commander, but this great warrior king had his reputation called into question,... and therefore I will allow him to pass sentence over the two of you ! " he explained with a slight grin.
King Eymundr tried to protest, but King Guthrum stopped him before he could speak.
" If I hear one word out of you King Eymundr I will have Sigbjorn kill you right here and now ! " he yelled angrily.
King Arnulf was surprised by the offer, but quickly recovered and stepped in front of Vargr.
" Vargr ! For your cowardly deed you shall suffer the blood - eagle. Your dead blood covered body will be hung in the trees as food for the birds, ....and as a warning to others. " he told the one who looked so much like him.
Then Arnulf walked over to King Eymundr, and with a look that betrayed his hatred of the man yelled loudly in his face :
" And you, the cowardly king of Vestfold, will be coming back to Vestfold with me ! For I have very special plans for you ! " he bellowed.
King Guthrum cleared his throat again to let Arnulf know that he had something to say.
" I agree completely with your judgement King Arnulf. Your decisions are both fair and vengeful at the same time. You will also be happy to know that I am sending the Vestfolders back to Norway with their new leader, Eymundr's brother, King Sigmarr ! " he explained.
Then the king of Danelaw added :
" This court is at an end ! "
Before King Guthrum could say another word King Arnulf shouted :
" Guards ! Take these prisoners back to my camp ! " he commanded.
King Guthrum had expected that it would be he who would execute the murderer Vargr, and that the former king of Vestfold would be taken back to Jutland by Arnulf. However, it did not really matter who administered the blood - eagle, as long as justice was served !
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : The Truth Be Told !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.