The Bastard Son
" You Are Free To Leave ! "
King Oleg the Seer sent for Oski and Eydis. At the request of his wife Queen Katarina, who dearly loved Oski and Eydis, and wanted them to stay, the king had decided to offer Oski the command of a new army which would go out and expand his new Rus kingdom. It was actually quite an easy decision for the king to make. For he too had grown quite fond of Oski and his mother.
When they arrived King Oleg and Queen Katarina greeted them, not from their high seats, but from the great dining table in the great hall. The king had his maidens prepare a feast for the honored mother and son in the hope that a more informal setting would put them at ease, and possibly make them more willing to change their minds and stay in the Rus lands.
After the greetings were made and the ale had been poured the king quickly brought up the subject of their leaving.
" Oski, you have proven yourself a worthy ally, capable leader, and a formidable warrior. I would like you to stay, and command a new division of my army that I am assembling. If we strike quickly to the east I believe that we can double the size of my kingdom in a fairly short time ! " he told Oski .
King Oleg watched Oski's reaction closely and was greatly disappointed, when instead of responding right away, he looked over at his mother.
" Here you can be a jarl or a prince, and the commander of an army ! Back home in Ranrike you are nothing more than the unwanted bastard son of an uncaring king. " Oleg explained to Oski with a hint of desperation in his voice.
Oski at first diverted his eyes away from the royal couple. After a moment he gathered up his courage, looked up at King Oleg, and Queen Katarina, and then took a deep breath before speaking.
" I cannot thank you both enough for all that you have done for my mother and myself, but I feel that I must remind you of your promise to let me leave the Land of the Rus, and return to my homeland if I helped you defeat King Ingvar. I have kept my end of the bargain, and hope that you will now hold to your word and let us go. " he replied.
King Oleg was about to yell at the young man, who he felt was making a huge mistake, but his wife placed her hand over his, and gave him a cross look. Oski saw the queen reach out and squeeze her husbands hand and continued.
" I am sorry my lord, but I must return to Norway to settle what to me is a matter of honor and principle ..... and one day I hope to come back to the Land of the Rus as your equal as well as your friend ! " he explained to the king.
King Oleg could not help but admire the confidence of one so young. He did not believe that Oski, and his small army of warriors, no matter how skilled they fought, could defeat the king of Ranrike, but he was not about to stand in the way of such a brave warrior.
" If you feel you must return to Norway to confront your father.... well.... then you are free to leave ! " he told Oski reluctantly.
In his mind Oleg saw Oski with his small force meeting on a great battlefield the whole of the Ranrike army, and the horrible thought made the king put down his horn. After a long moment he made a most generous offer to Oski.
" To aid you in your quest I will allow you to take with you any of my warriors, who you commanded in my army, that are willing to follow you ! " he told Oski with a broad smile.
Oski raised his eyebrows, and looked over at his mother, who had been relatively quiet.
" That is a most magnanimous offer ! And I thank you for your generosity ! Let me assure you that those who choose to join me will be wisely deployed in battle ! " Oski replied.
Queen Katarina smiled at Oski and then looked over at Eydis.
" I hope that you will stay with us while your son goes off to war ! " the queen told Eydis hopefully.
Eydis shook her head, and looked down at the table as she spoke.
" I regret to have to say that I must go to where my son has his meeting with destiny. " she explained to the queen.
Queen Katarina' s face contorted itself into a sad pout.
" Will you at least promise me that you will return as soon as possible ? " she asked with a hint of sorrow in her voice.
Eydis looked up from the table, and replied with a weak smile upon her face.
" I would like that very much, and if possible I will visit soon, and often ! " she promised to the only true friend she ever had.
For the rest of the meal there was only idle chit chat as there seemed little more that could be said.
The very next day King Oleg regretted his offer to allow his warriors to join Oski if that was their choice. When Oski returned to his division he called all his men together, including the Swedes who had fought in the final battle under his command. He explained to them that he, along with his personal guard, were preparing to journey back to Norway to take the throne of Ranrike away from King Alfrekr, his evil father.
" Any Swede warrior who wishes to join us will be generously rewarded when I become Ranrike's new king ! " he explained to them.
To Oski's surprise, and to King Oleg's dismay, three quarters of the Swedes that Oski commanded in the last battle chose to join his army, and travel to Ranrike in Norway.
With his little army tripled in size, and with his mother advising him, Oski began making preparations for their long journey back to Norway. Provisions were loaded into carts, and wagons. Weapons were repaired, and the blades sharpened. The horses were shoed, and the oxen were fed well before they were ready to leave.
On the day they were to head north on their long journey Oski and Eydis were called to the Rus king's great hall. Oski's first thought was that the king had possibly changed his mind, but Oleg remained a man of honor, and it turned out that he, and his wife Katarina, simply wanted to wish them well. Oleg surprised Oski by ordering the young son of Rorik, named Igor, who was in his care, to see them safely through Finnmark, and the Land of the Swedes.
" Igor is the son of Rorik, the great warrior who first invaded these Rus lands. I kept him in Sweden until we had secured these Rus lands for ourselves. He is respected as his father's son, and he will gain you safe passage until you reach Norway. " King Oleg told Oski and his mother.
" I am greatly honored to have the son of Rorik accompany my warriors and I back home ! " he told Igor.
Oleg then placed his hand on Igor's shoulder.
" Do not dally in Sweden, but quickly return after you have seen Oleg and his Rus army to the Norwegian border. For I have plans to attack Kiev, which is now in the hands of the Varangian Warlords, Askold and Dir ! And I wish very much to have the son of Rorik fighting with me when I defeat them. In the meantime I will build fortifications, and consolidate what I have fairly won in battle. " Oleg explained to Igor.
Igor smiled at his foster father, and then placed his hand on Oleg's shoulder. As they stood face to face Igor replied.
" I promise that I will hurry back to these Rus lands, for I do not want to miss the fall of Kiev ! " Igor told King Oleg with a smile.
Later that morning Oski's army, interspersed with wagons and carts, assembled not far from Oleg's hall. King Oleg and Queen Katarina came out to see Oski and Eydis off on their long journey. The royal couple arrived just as Oski was preparing to mount his horse.
" I wish you nothing but the best ! Defeat your father and come visit me as a king !! " he told Oski proudly.
Oleg then did something rather surprising. He hugged Oski and patted him on the back.
" When I have a son I hope that he is as great a warrior as you have become ! " he whispered to Oski.
Oski pulled back a little and looked Oleg in the eyes.
" You have been to me the father that I never had in my childhood ! " he told Oleg with watering eyes.
Queen Katarina and Eydis tried to speak, but the words were drowned out by their tears and their cries of sorrow. Both thought of each other more as a sister than just a mere friend.
As Oleg and Katarina watched Oski mount his horse, and Eydis stepped up onto her carriage, the Rus army began to march north. It was then that Katarina realized that they really were leaving. Suddenly she did not want to watch her friends go any longer and turned to her husband, falling into his arms.
" I will miss them dearly ! " she told him through trembling lips.
" As will I ! " Oleg added as he waved one last time.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : The Journey Home
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.