Arnulf Agrees To Help King Guthrum
Sialfi had come this way before, but this time the thick fog that enveloped his ship limited his ability to distinguish landmarks as he entered Jutland through Thyboron. Using his instincts, more than his eyes, Sialfi sailed southeast heading for Struer before turning north to Nykobing. Still unable to see much ahead in the way of visible landmarks, he took down his sail, and had his men row along the shoreline until it headed south again. It was then that the winds kicked up, blowing away the fog, and allowing him to hoist his sail once again and rest his tired men.
Soon they reached Hvalpsund which was the gateway to Skive, which in turn was on the outskirts of the Viborg kingdom. It was here in Skive that Sialfi beached his ship. After leaving a small guard behind to watch his ship, the rest of his warriors followed Sialfi on foot to the town of Viborg.
King Arnulf was sitting on his high - seat deciding tedious disputes between his folk when he noticed Lofarr coming into the hall. Judging by how quickly his subordinate walked up to him, the king deduced that what he had to say was important. After the usual short bow of respect Lofarr repeated the message he had been given by Jafnharr.
" My Lord ! Commander Jafnharr has sent me to inform you that a man named Sialfi will shortly arrive at your great hall with thirty warriors ! " he told his king before bowing again.
King Arnulf scratched his chin in deep thought.
" I only know one warrior named Sialfi, and he is off fighting with the Great Heathen Army in Britain ! " he said as much to himself as to Lofarr.
Lofarr bowed again, which annoyed Arnulf.
" You and I have known each other since we were children,... and you were one of the first to join my little band of warriors ! One bow is more than sufficient ! Say what it is that you wish say freely my old friend ! " he told Lofarr with a hint of impatience.
Out of habit Lofarr bowed again causing Arnulf to shake his head in disgust.
" Yes, my Lord ! Jafnharr said that this man was sent by King Guthrum himself to see you ! " he replied.
King Arnulf rose up from his high - seat as though someone had placed a red hot coal upon it.
" Go and tell the serving maidens to prepare a small feast for fifty warriors,... and tell them to make sure that there is plenty to drink as well ! " he commanded.
Lofarr bowed one last time before leaving the great hall and heading over to the servant's quarters to inform them of the king's wishes. King Arnulf, however, calmly sat back down and called forward the next case as if nothing had happened. If an envoy had been sent to Viborg by King Guthrum, then Arnulf wanted the Danelaw king's messenger to see him fully immersed in his role as King of Viborg.
As evening began to descend upon Viborg Jafnharr entered the great hall, followed by a stranger, and approached the high - seat. Because the king was speaking he held back a few steps and waited for an opening to introduce the visitor.
" Now,... Uffi, .... Valtar has two witnesses who saw you moving the rock cairn that marks where your property ends and where Valtar's begins. I am afraid that with such strong testimony to back up his claim I have to decide in favor of Valtar. Tomorrow I will send out two warriors to re-access your land rights,.. and as a penalty for your misdeed I award Valtar fifty yards of your property ! " the king told the man in a scolding tone.
Uffi lowered his head in shame and replied meekly :
" Yes, my Lord. I am sorry, my Lord ! "
Valtar by comparison was ecstatic by the king's ruling. He bowed repeatedly before speaking :
" Thank you, my Lord ! You are very wise and most generous ! " he told the king .
As they turned and left Arnulf looked over at Jafnharr as though he had not seen him enter, which he of course most certainly had.
" Ah Jafnharr,... who is this that you have brought before my court ? " the king asked in a regal tone.
Jafnharr tried not to smile at Arnulf's act, but he could not completely help himself.
" My Lord, " he started with a gracious bow, " This warrior,... Sialfi is his name,... has been sent by the court of King Guthrum to seek and audience with you on a matter of great importance. " he informed his king.
King Arnulf looked over Sialfi from head to toe as though he were inspecting one of his warriors before an impending battle.
" Sialfi, you look as though you have traveled far to reach my kingdom. I am sure that you are tired, hungry and thirsty. Allow me to dismiss my court and we will head over to my feasting hall. We can discuss what brings you to Viborg over a delicious meal and tall horns of ale ! " he told the envoy.
Sialfi's mouthed watered, and he licked his lips, over the prospect of fresh food and cold ale.
" That would be most hospitable of you King Arnulf ! " Sialfi told the monarch with a bow and a broad smile.
The room was alive with activity as they entered the feasting hall. Lofarr had already seated Sialfi's men in the hall, and the serving maidens were just about to begin serving the stew, and fresh baked bread. By the look on Sialfi's face King Arnulf could see that he had achieved his goal of impressing the envoy from The Danelaw.
They had barely sat down when several serving maidens began filling their plates with stew, fish, venison, and slices of bread with honey spread on them. Sialfi had important things to discuss with King Arnulf, but he decided that they could wait until his stomach was full and his thirst had been quenched. The hungry envoy quickly cleaned off several plates of delicious food, and drained a half dozen horns of ale, before leaning back in his chair satisfied with the meal he had eaten.
As Sialfi rubbed his bulging belly he looked over at the king and nodded.
" I will make sure that I tell King Guthrum of your wonderful hospitality King Arnulf. But possibly you can tell him yourself, for I am hoping that when I return to Britain you will be accompany me . " he told Arnulf before inadvertently belching.
King Arnulf's eyebrows rose high onto his forehead.
" And why would I be going to Britain ? " the king asked.
Sialfi grinned a little and moved forward to speak to the king in a more private tone.
" Because Ivar the Boneless is dead, and now KIng Guthrum commands the Danish forces in Britain. The Danes have lost many men in conquering these Britains, and now he is calling for more to come to his aid. He has heard of your wonderful, and skillful, exploits against the Swedes, and he has sent me here to Viborg to ask for your help in conquering Mercia. " he informed the king.
Arnulf took a long drink of his ale, and thought for a moment before answering.
" And what will be my incentive for helping King Guthrum ? " he asked, not knowing the answer, but hoping for the best.
" Glory enough to see you into Valhalla of course,... and many chests filled with British gold and silver to bring back to enrich your kingdom ! " he explained to the king of Viborg.
Arnulf had not planned to go off to war so soon, but the Swedes had ravaged his kingdom, and plundered much of his wealth. If this expedition went well he could make his kingdom rich and powerful once again. The choice was a simple one.
" When do we leave ? " the king asked.
Having fulfilled his mission Sialfi smiled.
" At once ! " the envoy quickly replied.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : Arnulf Meets King Guthrum
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.