The Bastard Son
A Strange Turn Of Fortune
Jarl Alfrekr could wait no longer ! The rain was beginning to puddle on the ground, and the mud was growing deeper by the hour. Alfrekr lined his men up in three great shield walls. Vigmundr would command the left of the line, Dyggvi lead the right at the bottom of the slippery slope, and Alfrekr would control the entire line from the center as they advanced.
As the jarl was about to order the attack he hesitated for a moment . He looked up and down his lines, and allowed himself to feel a little remorse for his warriors who would surely die in this futile attempt to dislodge King Palni's army from the hill, and destroy them. Alfrekr knew why he was about to give up his life to kill King Palni. His unfortunate father had been tortured and killed ! And his mother had been made into a virtual sex slave for the king ! But these men ... these brave men ... , though they hated the king as well, were fighting out of a great sense of honor, and Alfrekr was proud to lead them into their final battle ! Alfrekr took one last look to his right and to his left, and then he smiled.
" Forward ! Forward ! " Alfrekr yelled up and down the line.
These words were in turn echoed by Vigmundr and Dyggvi . As one the entire army began to make its way up the base of the small mountain. With pennants waving, and more than four hundred warriors banging their swords against their shields, it was quite a sight to behold for those on the battlefield, and also by a greater being watching from the heavens.
King Palni grinned from ear to ear as he watched Alfrekr's rebel army begin to march from the base of the hill, where they had formed their ranks, up the slopes to his position. The king could not believe how stupid Alfrekr was to attack him in such an impregnable position. When he saw men slipping in the mud, and falling in every direction, he wanted to laugh. But then he saw the rebel warriors pick themselves up, reform their lines, and continue up the hill, and he quickly changed his mind about Alfrekr.
" He is a brave son of a bitch though ! " Palni whispered under his breath.
The king then motioned to the archers to move forward.
" Archers take your positions ! " he yelled.
Palni waited until the rebels had almost reached the middle of the slope, and then he barked out the final order.
" Place your arrows ....... Aim ....... Fire at will !! " the king screamed.
Just as the first arrow was about to be launched into the oncoming rebels there suddenly was a great trembling in the earth violent enough that it stopped the archers in mid pull. As it grew in intensity all of the king's men turned their gaze upon Palni to gauge his reaction. The king, however, simply stood there in stunned silence not knowing quite what to do.
Jarl Alfrekr had just gotten back up, after falling to his knees in the muddy quagmire, when without warning the hill began to shake beneath his feet. Unlike his opponent Alfrekr was not frozen in the moment. The jarl ordered an immediate halt, and his army stopped right where it was.
For a long moment both armies stood only two hundred yards apart staring at each other. Then Alfrekr saw something in the distance that he had never seen before. The side of the mountain, behind the king's army, seemed to slide away and move down the steep slope like a slow moving waterfalls.
" Back to the camp ! Go back to the camp !! " Alfrekr screamed up and down the line to his stunned warriors.
King Palni did not see the mudslide at first. What he did see, however, were the terrified looks on the faces of Alfrekr's warriors. When he saw his archers pointing at the mountain behind him, Palni slowly began to turn to see what had happened.
" Did Alfrekr's warriors somehow get behind us ! ? " the king said to himself as he looked up at the mountain.
What Palni saw when he looked at the mountain top made his eyes bulge, and his mouth hang open. The mountain that guarded his rear was gone ! And what had once made up the top of the mountain in the form of bushes, trees, rocks and boulders, was now coming straight for them in a river of thick brown mud !
While his men ran by King Palni, nearly trampling him as they went, Palni stood with his eyes transfixed on the incredible spectacle that lay spread out before him. The mountain had somehow liquefied and was flowing directly toward his army's position ! Palni shook his head in disbelief and resigned himself to his fate. He sheathed his sword, and braced himself for the impact. Unlike his terrified warriors he would not flee like a frightened mouse.
As King Palni stood with his arms folded across his chest waiting for the end to come he noticed something very odd indeed. One of the trees in the front of the mudslide had transformed itself into a beautiful woman. Palni quickly closed his eyes for his mind wanted to see no more. He never saw the mudslide as it hit him, but he did here a woman's voice say in a whisper, " Goodbye Palni ! " , just before he was swept under the mud and down the hill.
Jarl Alfrekr's warriors did not stop running until they reached their camp, which was on a little hill not too far away. When they turned to look back, what they saw horrified even the most seasoned warriors ! One by one Palni's men were swallowed up by the mud. Others, who were somehow able to remain on top of the flowing goo, were struck and killed by trees or boulders as they flowed by. Only the front ranks of Palni's army, and his archers who had moved to the front, were able to remain ahead of the oozing muck. They kept running until they reached the base of the small hill below the rebel camp. Here they had to make a fateful decision. Be buried alive, or climb the hill and be captured or killed by Alfrekr's army. Some chose to die in the mud, but most ran up the hill.
The mud flow made it halfway up the hill before mysteriously receding back down to the bottom. Despite all that as going on around him Alfrekr's eyes were squarely fixed on Palni's warriors, who now stood directly in front of his camp. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, the jarl thought for a moment that he saw a woman on top of a tree at the bottom of the hill. But the bizarre image soon faded, and was quickly forgotten .
Faced by an army with greater numbers Palni's warriors threw down their weapons and surrendered. Many awaited their deaths at the hands of the rebel forces. Most believed it was the will of the Gods that their king had been killed, and their army destroyed. A few pleaded for clemency and began to call out for "King Alfrekr " to be merciful.
Alfrekr was about to order the deaths of those who surrendered when he suddenly, and wisely, realized that these men, if they joined his warriors, would make his little army a respectable fighting force.
" Stop ! " the jarl ordered his men as he stepped forward.
Vigmundr and Dyggvi immediately stepped in front of their men and held up their hands to stop those who were seeking revenge. Jarl Alfrekr strode forward and looked at the terrified and broken warriors many of whom littered the ground exhausted after their terrible ordeal.
" Who will speak for King Palni's army ? " Alfrekr asked.
One man rose up and bowed down on one knee before the jarl.
" I am Trausti, the commander of the archers, King Alfrekr . " he said meekly.
Alfrekr nodded, and then motioned for the warrior to rise.
" If I spare the lives of your men will they take an oath of loyalty to me ? " he asked.
Trausti turned and yelled to his men who were all over the hill.
" How many of you will follow King Alfrekr, and take a blood oath of loyalty to our new leader ? " he screamed for all to hear.
A roar slowly rose up across the hill in the affirmative.
Then Trausti motioned for silence.
" And who among you refuse to accept Alfrekr as our new king ? ! " he asked.
Not a word was heard from anyone. The only sound that broke the silence was the oozing of the mud as it settle around the base of the hill.
" Then pick up your weapons, sheath them, and make a place for yourselves in our camp ! " Alfrekr shouted to his new warriors.
And that was how Jarl Alfrekr, with the help of the Gods, became the king of Ranrike.
- End Chapter 3
Next : Chapter 4 : Forbidden Love
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.