Surtr : The Great Fire Giant
Kveikiefni Fights Back
King Aska was furious ! His army was being destroyed bit by bit by a new enemy who had obviously penetrated his northern defenses, and was attacking his forces at will. The only evidence this elusive enemy left behind were the dead bodies of his own warriors. In the south they began to call these infiltrators " Ghost Fighters ".
At first King Aska thought it to be his own people rebelling against him, but after the king had hundreds of his own Fire Giants tortured, many to the death, he began to realize that his enemy was not coming from within. Most of his Fire Giants would not confess to the attacks, and the few who did, to save their lives, gave information that did not match the actual events.
Kveikiefni was the first to observe that all of the attacks were on small bands of their warriors, with forty being the largest that were massacred. The king' s right hand Giant called together his three commanders, Bleikju, Neisti, and Hrimnir, and told them that he wanted each to send out a small group of warriors as bait. They were then to follow the " bait " at a safe distance with a detail of at least one hundred warriors. Kveikiefni made it clear that they were to stay far enough behind not to be detected, but within striking distance when these " Ghost Fighters " attacked.
King Aska liked the idea very much, and congratulated his second in command for his wisdom and foresight. The king did add, however, that he wanted prisoners to be taken for interrogation, and torture.
" Get me a dozen prisoners ", King Aska told Kveikiefni, " And I will extract enough information to destroy their entire rebel force ! "
Surtr could not believe how well the attacks had been preceding. They had killed an estimated seven hundred of the enemy, and lost only fifteen of their own warriors in over two dozen attacks. Their strategy seemed to work perfectly each and every time they put it into practice. A scout would spot a group of enemy warriors, and then track them until they camped. The scout would then hurry back to his hraun - tupa and lead the garrison there back to the enemy' s camp, where they would attack them while most were asleep. Yes ! It was working oh so well ! The rebel commanders were all very pleased with the results so far. Surtr, however, was worried. " It just seemed too easy ! " the leader of the rebels kept telling himself over and over again.
Surtr decided that he would go out with the rebels to see for himself how well the attacks were going. The rebel leader wanted to assess every aspect of an operation first hand, and change anything that he felt was too dangerous. Bergkvika tried to talk Surtr out of joining his warriors on an attack. He explained to his leader that the rebel cause would cease to exist without him if he were to be killed. Surtr overruled his subordinate, however, and asked Hiti, the map maker to come along as well .
Several days later a scout came running into their hraun - tupa and reported twenty lightly armed warriors camped a short distance away. Bergkvika immediately ordered his men into battle armor, and as soon as all were ready they proceeded to the enemy' s encampment.
The southern warriors were exactly where the scout said they would be. The enemy was camped in a circle, and the area was quiet. Too quiet ! Bergkvika looked around the camp several times, but he did not see what he expected to see. There was no one guarding the camp at all ! After months of rebel attacks, how could they not post at least one sentry to watch over the camp ?
Then Bergkvika whispered to himself : " Either their commander is a fool...... or there is something else going on here ! "
Bergkvika immediately sent his scout to check their rear !
Surtr agreed with his second in command that something did not seem right. The rebel leader ordered that they turn half of their men to the rear, in a defensive line so that they would be ready... just in case. Before the order could be fully implemented, however, the scout came running back.
" In our rear ! Hundreds....... !! " he shouted and then stopped abruptly. These were the last words the scout uttered before an axe cleaved his head in half.
Surtr and Bergkvika looked at one another and both quickly decided that they did not have enough warriors to do battle with a force the likes of the one coming toward them. Almost simultaneously, as the southern warriors came streaming over the hill a short distance away, both the rebel leader, and his commander, ordered a retreat into the hills.
The southern warrior, who had thrown the axe that killed their scout, had outdistanced his comrades, and paid for his quickness with his life. Even before the axe thrower hit the ground dead, with a spear in his chest, the rebels began to make a run away from the hraun - tupa, and up into the volcanic rock that lay to their north. The rebels could not afford to let the Southern Army find out how they traveled so easily throughout their region, even if it meant sacrificing themselves to guard the secret.
Most of the southern warriors fell behind as Surtr, and his rebels, climbed the rocky face of an extinct volcano. A half dozen or so of the enemy, however, were slowly gaining on them. When they reached the top of a small mountain Surtr turned a dozen of his men around to defend against these fast southerners. Surtr ordered his Giants to stay low until the enemy came over the rise, and then jump up and attack.
The southern warriors were not expecting the rebels to be waiting for them as they reached the top of the ridge. Four were killed instantly, but the other two fought valiantly, killing two of Bergkvika's warriors, before dying at the rebel's hands. As one of the southern warrior's was falling he flung his axe in the general direction of the fleeing rebels. The axe flew end over end until it buried itself into Hiti's lower back, knocking him to the ground.
Surtr quickly ran over to his injured map maker, who lay motionless on the ground. The rebel leader knelt down, pulled out the axe, and then rolled the little fire giant over.
" Are you hurt badly ! " Surtly asked hurriedly.
Hiti looked up with glassy eyes.
" I cannot go on . I have no feeling in my legs, and I cannot get up . " he told Surtr calmly. " There is a small opening to a north - south hraun - tupa just over the next ridge. It is partially hidden behind a pile of rocks. They will not see the entrance if you close the opening behind you, and it will take you home my friend ! " he added.
Surtr tried to pick up the little cartographer, but Hiti pushed him away. He then grabbed the end of Surtr' s stone sword, and placed it against his chest.
" It is the only way. You cannot allow them to capture me alive. " he told Surtr with a weak smile.
Surtr saw he had no time and placed both hands on the hilt of his sword. The rebel leader then looked down into Hiti's eyes. The map maker smiled, and then nodded his head. Surtr nodded also, and looked away as he pushed his sword through Hiti's chest. Surtr was surprised when the little map maker did not cry out.
Surtr quickly pulled his sword out of Hiti's body, and ran back to catch up to his warriors. Bergkvika had waited for his leader, and when Surtr ran over to him, they looked at each other for a moment.
Surtr placed his hand on Berkvika's shoulder. " Bravest damn little map maker I ever saw ! " he told his second in command before pushing him to move forward.
Bergkvika nodded and looked back at his old friend, who lay dead behind them. Then he along with Surtr ran as fast as they could for the hraun - tupa entrance.
After everyone else had made it through the tunnel entrance Bergkvika pushed Surtr through next before entering himself. Then the two rebel leaders closed up the opening and waited. Moments later the southern soldiers ran by the cave as fast as they could and disappeared into the distance. Hiti had been right ! The enemy had not seen the opening.
When Neisti reported back to Kveikiefni that he had lost the rebels in the mountains, and had not taken any prisoners, Aska's second in command was not pleased !
" I think I will let you tell the king of your great failure in person ! " was all Kveikiefni told him.
King Aski was furious when he heard from Neisti that his men had not been able to keep up with the rebels. As punishment the king had Neisti, and all his men, brought to his hall. Then, as Neisti was forced to watch, one by one he had all of his warrior's legs cut off.
" Now they will not have to be bothered with chasing the enemy ! " he told Kveikiefni as they watched the gruesome spectacle.
When all of his warriors had been killed, King Aska walked over to Neisti, grabbed him by the hair, and stabbed him with a sharp dagger in the neck. As the Fire Giant bled out in front of him King Aska whispered in his ear : " You have disappointed me for the last time ! " he told him, before throwing his lifeless body onto the floor.
When Surtr was safely back in the north he became very depressed, and did not know what to do next. Bergkvika, for the time being, suspended all attacks until they could come up with a new plan to defeat Aska's army. Gufa, always the fighter, suggested that they combine all their warriors and attack in force, but most of the commanders, including Bergkvika, did not think this to be a good idea.
" They are too many, and we are too few ! " Surtr' s second in command told them.
Days later Surtr held a meeting to announce the suspension of all operations indefinitely. The rebel commanders were all surprised to see how despondent their leader seemed. The fire seemed to have gone out of the Fire Giant !
- End Chapter 4
- Next Chapter 5 : Sinmara : The Keeper Of Weapons
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.