King Guthrum Sends For Help
" Your mother was injured in the initial attack by the Swedes. She has been asking for you every day since. " he told a horrified King Arnulf.
The two warriors guarding the small hut, where his mother had stayed during the seige, bowed as King Arnulf approached. On the way through the valley he had seen his mother's fields burned, and the longhouse he had grown up in reduced to ruins, but at the time he had assumed that his mother had escaped before the Swedes had time to do her any harm. Now, as he lifted the latch to enter this small rundown structure, he did not know what to expect. He had not asked Jafnharr the extent of his mother's injuries in part because he had hurried off to see her, but also he was not sure he wanted to know how badly she was hurt. In the back of his mind he knew that if he had stayed here in Viborg, instead of going off to raid in Norway, this would not have been the fate of his mother, and it weighed heavily upon him .
After Arnulf opened the door it took a moment for his eyes to become accustomed to the dim light inside. The king of Viborg breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his mother sitting up in bed looking tired, but not seriously ill.
" Mother ! They told me you were seriously injured ! How are you mother ! " he asked as he hurried to her bed side.
Hildigunnr's eyes welled up with tears when she saw her son's face.
" I am much better now that you have come home ! " she blurted out as she reached out her arms for a hug.
There are times when being a loving son is more important than appearing to be a stoic royal figure. And this was one of those moments. Despite the guards watching in the doorway Arnulf sat on the edge of the bed, reached over to his mother, and wrapped his arms tightly around her.
" When they told me you were injured I was so worried ! How did those Swedish pigs harm you mother ? ! " he asked after he kissed her on the cheek.
Hildigunnr held on to her son with all her might as she whispered in his ear.
" I was struck in the back by an arrow as I fled our home. I am told that one of the slaves carried me into Viborg where they cut out the arrowhead. " she explained before pausing.
" They were able to save my life Arnulf,.... but I have lost the use of my legs. " she managed to tell her son before breaking down in tears.
Arnulf gently grabbed his mother by the shoulders, and pushed her away so he could look her in the eyes.
" They will pay for this mother ! If I have to sail to Sweden to hunt down each and every last one of them,.... they will pay ! "
he assured her.
Then as he hugged his mother tightly again Arnulf added :
" The slave who saved your life will be freed for his bravery ! "
And pay they did ! As an injured Prince Bjorn boarded a stolen ship to sail back home to Sweden he regretted ever coming to the Danish land of the Jutlanders. He had invaded with nearly three thousand warriors, and now he barely had enough men to man the oars of the mid - sized longship he had taken from a local chieftain. Jafnharr, with less than half the Viborg army had exacted a fierce revenge upon the Swedes as they tried to escape the Jutland Peninsula.
King Arnulf immediately set about rebuilding his kingdom and replanting the countryside. With a lot of hard work, and a little help from the weather, he was sure that they could still have a decent late harvest and stave off famine that winter. Despite their best efforts, however, it was a long cold winter in which everyone had something to eat, but not quite as much as they would have liked.
Despite their hardships no one in Viborg blamed their new king. How could they ? He had saved them from annihilation at the hands of the Swedes, stood shoulder to shoulder with them in the fields planting and harvesting, and shared his own food with all he could. During the darkest days of snow and ice King Arnulf sent out the army, not as raiders, but as a hunting party to kill as many deer, elk, bear and rabbits that they could find. The meat was then shared among all the people of Viborg.
Just as they had endured the siege on Viborg, the Jutlanders held off the dark grip of winter, and emerged into the bright sunlight of a more prosperous and hopeful spring. That year every inch of available land was planted and by the end of September Viborg was once again secure against both famine and invasion. King Arnulf had saved his people, not once, but twice, and word quickly spread of his prowess on the battlefield, as well as the never ending compassion he showed towards his people.
As King Guthrum sat in his improvised headquarters in Witham, Britain, which was no more than a hut he had taken from a local chieftain he had killed, he contemplated how hard the campaign against these Britains had been this far. The leader, of what the Britains called ' The Great Heathen Army', Ivar the Boneless, had been killed in the brutal battles against King Burgred of Mercia, and now it was Guthrum who led the Heathens. After many years of fighting the Danelaw had greatly expanded it's territory, and now only Mercia, and King Alfred of Wessex stood in the way of the combined Heathen forces.
King Guthrum's army, however, had been depleted by years of fighting, and needed to be replenished with fresh warriors from their homelands. Guthrum had already sent out messengers to both Norway and the lands of the Danes, but when he heard of the great exploits of King Arnulf of Viborg he decided to send a special envoy to ask him to come and join the Great Heathen Army as well.
Guthrum ordered his top commander Ofaeti to send a ship to Viborg at once. Ofaeti, in turn, chose the most experienced sea captain he knew to lead the mission. Sialfi, who had successfully navigated Ivar's army across the sea years earlier, was ordered to leave at once for Jutland !
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Arnulf agrees to help King Guthrum
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.