The Dark Witch
The Child Behind Those Eyes
Otto III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, watched as the warriors gathered at the edge of the village of Hadesheim. He now believed that the warriors below truly were an army of the dead. He was also quite certain this would be his last day walking among the living. He thought of his wife and children as he drew his sword to lead the attack on the corpse army that had destroyed Hadesheim, and killed all of its villagers.
" For God and kingdom ! " he shouted as he kicked his horse forward.
The emperor's cavalry led the way down the hill followed by five thousand screaming infantry. Coming towards them at a much slower pace was an army that should not exist, .....an army made up of draugr bent on revenge. The screams from both sides was deafening as they came closer and closer ! And then, just as they were about to meet head- on, the army of the dead vanished into thin air, leaving their screams only as a distant echo.
Otto and his warriors looked around them, but all that was left of the great army that had opposed them only moments before were thousands of piles of bleached bones. History would record Otto as saving his empire from a mad horde of mercenaries bent on destroying his rule. But the truth was much stranger, and would be lost to history. In the shadows on the east side of the forest stood the only being who knew the whole truth ! And Odin would never tell !
Odin mounted Sleipnir and rode his great steed to a forest not far from Rimol in Norway. Silently he walked through the dense brush until he came to a familiar clearing where stood an old shack, and the hanging tree on which he had carved runes many years ago. On the tree a woman's remains swung in the breeze, while a little girl stood watching below.
" I knew you would come ! " Hella told the wanderer.
Odin walked over to Hella and stood beside her.
" I carved those runes of resurrection to speak to the dead , not to raise an army, witch ! " he told her sternly.
" Haakon gave me life. I felt that I owed him that much for his gift. " she told Odin.
" What you call a gift, I call a curse, child ! " Odin replied.
Hella began to cry for the first time in her life.
" You are correct great one. For it has cost me my mother and father, and now I am all alone ! " she explained.
Odin knelt down and placed his arm around Hella and whispered into her ear.
" What would you give to bring back your mother ? " he asked.
Hella placed her head on Odin's shoulder.
" I would give up my life for her ! " she blubbered.
" Do you think me so cruel little one, that I would ask for your life ? " Odin asked.
" No ! But you cannot bring my mother back. The runes bring back the body to life, but what the person truly was I think is lost forever . " she told Odin.
Odin hugged Hella tighter and gently stroked her hair.
" You are right child ! The magical power of the runes can only animate the dead. They cannot restore what once was their very essence...... only a God can do such a thing ! " he told her.
Odin wiped away a red tear that ran down Hella's face.
" Would you give up your magical powers to bring back your mother ? " he asked with a little grin.
Hella stepped back from Odin.
" Yes ! " was all she could manage before she fell to her knees in tears.
" Then I accept your offer ! " Odin told her.
The Lord of Asgard placed Gungnir upon her head, and chanted words that she did not understand. When she once again looked up at Odin she gazed upon him with clear white eyes, and beautiful blue pupils. As Hella felt the power drain from her body, she also felt the burden of it leave her as well.
Through the eyes of a child she watched as Odin used his great spear Gungnir to cut her mother down off of the hanging tree. The God then stood over the corpse that was once her only friend and companion. He chanted words that she did not know, and then, as if awakening from a peaceful rest, Hildigunn opened her eyes, and once again breathed the fresh air of Midgard.
" Who are you ? " Hildigunn asked in a state of confusion.
Odin smiled down on her.
" I am just a weary traveler who happened by in your time of need. " he told her.
Odin nodded and then walked into the forest and disappeared.
Hella began crying harder than she ever believed possible as she ran into her mother's arms.
" MOTHER ! MOTHER !! " she cried out as she hugged her mother tightly.
- End Chapter 11
- Next : The Dark Witch : Epilogue
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.