The Bastard Son
In April, as the trees were just beginning to bud, Eydis gave birth to a son . She named him Oski, and almost immediately began to demand that King Ingvar and Queen Helga send a messenger to Ranrike to inform King Alfrekr of the birth of his son, and to tell him to come at once to visit her, and to see their little boy.
As the months went by, without seeing or hearing from the father of her child, Eydis began to realize that she was nothing more than a prisoner here in the Land of the Rus. And when the months turned into years her anger grew to such a point that she wanted to exact revenge on the man who had once said that he loved her, and then sent her away into exile.
From an early age Eydis began to poison her son' s mind against his father Alfrekr. She often referred to him as, " the horrible rapist ", who did not own up to his mistakes, and who did not care for his family. One point she made over and over to her young impressionable child was that he, Oski, was of royal blood and had as much right to the throne of Ranrike as did Gormr, Alfrekr's other son. Eydis told her son time and time again that one day he would have to fight for what was by birth his right !
Oski grew up in the Rus lands as a sheltered bitter child . As a way to vent his anger and rage he constantly exercised his body and trained himself in the skills of combat, many times from the the break of dawn until the moon rose in the night sky. The other boys began to admire and follow him as a natural leader. Soon Oski had what would later become his personal guard surrounding him wherever he went. And to the dismay of King Ingvar and Queen Helga this little army grew larger and larger every month. What King Ingvar feared more than Oski's little army was the respect the youngster was receiving from the adult warriors as well. And the king knew that from respect comes power !
To the north there was another growing power. A Swedish chieftain named Oleg the Seer had laid claim to the lands of Alaborg, and Aldeigja. Oleg commanded a powerful army which now threatened King Ingvar's kingdom of Holmgard. Within months King Oleg was at the northern border of Holmgard, and was ready to make war against the Rus leaders to the south.
By this time Oski had turned eighteen and he was now a very skilled fighter who was well versed in the art of war. His personal guard had also grown into a powerful force that worried King Invar. When the Swedes attacked in the early spring Oski told the Rus king that he and his men would be willing to fight for the Rus cause under the condition that once the war was over he and his warriors would be allowed to leave the Rus lands, and return to Norway.
King Ingvar very much wanted Oski and his comrades to fight side by side with him against King Oleg and his Swedes, however, the king felt bound by the oath he had made to his cousin King Alfrekr of Ranrike. Ingvar quickly made a counter offer that he hoped would satisfy both sides. Ingvar agreed to make Oski a jarl in his Rus kingdom, and a commander in his army, in return for his assistance, but he could not allow Oski, and his mother Eydis, to leave his Rus kingdom.
Angered by the king's refusal to allow him to leave, he told King Ingvar that he would tell his men of his most generous offer. Oski had no such intentions, however, and that very night he and his mother, along with his entire personal guard escaped north to the border.
Three days later Oski, Eydis, and his commanders, Albrikt, and Kiartan, met up with Oleg's Swedish army that was camped just south of Aldeigja. They were quickly escorted to a large tent where Oleg, and his wife Katarina, sat on their high seats waiting to meet them.
The Rus defectors knelt on bent knees before Oleg and his wife, and to get in the good graces of the Swede they referred to them as " King " and "Queen ". Oski, as their leader, did most of the talking. He told King Oleg of his exile and imprisonment by the Rus King Ingvar, and of his willingness to fight alongside the Swedes if after the war he would be allowed to return with his men to Ranrike.
At first the Swedish " king " was suspicious, but he could not afford to turn down Oleg's generous offer of assistance, especially from warriors who knew the territory as well as they did. When Eydis was allowed to speak she told the sad tale of how she was betrayed by both King Alfrekr, and King Ingvar. Her story touched the heart of " Queen " Katarina, who turned to her husband several times, and whispered in his ear that Oski and Eydis were obviously not Rus, but were instead prisoners of the Rus, and that they should be allowed to fight for their freedom.
Taking all things into consideration, including his wife's occasional glaring eyes, Oleg agreed to allow Oski and his warriors to join his Swedes in their war against the Rus King Ingvar. Katarina added, after her husband failed to mention it, that if they helped their army defeat the Rus they would be allowed to return to Ranrike with their blessing.
Oleg worked with the Rus leaders to show them the tactics of his army, and when he felt that the two forces were working well together he marched his enlarged army south against the Rus . Oleg the Seer at first threw these mercenaries into the worst fighting in each battle.
" Better to have these outsiders killed than our own brave Swedish warriors ! " he told his wife Katarina.
But time and time again this small band of warriors performed amazingly well, if not better, than his own men. Oleg, who now began to refer to himself as " Konungr " ( King ), gained great respect for Oski, his commanders, Albrikt, and Kiartan, and of course their fierce warriors who fought like berserkers. The king quickly changed his mind and began to conserve these brave battle skilled warriors, holding them in reserve until they were truly needed.
After several years of minor skirmishes between Oleg and Ingvar, the Swedes slowly pushed their way south into the Rus. As the leaves began to fall in late September, and snow covered the high mountains, their armies began to gear up for what both kings were certain would be the decisive battle of the war. Just outside of Holmgard, in a long narrow valley, King Ingvar stopped retreating and positioned his men across the mouth of the valley. He decided that here, just as the Spartans had done well over a thousand years ago, the Rus would block the Swedes, and prevent them from entering Holmgard. And the Rus king, much like the Spartan King Leonidas, was willing to sacrifice his army to the last man to protect his kingdom !
- End Chapter 5
- Next Chapter 6 : The Battle For Holmgard
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.