The Dark Witch
The Return Of Jarl Haakon
Hella watched as the skeleton man rose up off of its knees, and took its first wobbly steps. Unlike her mother, who was terrified of raising the dead, the ten year old showed no emotion as the earthly remains of Helgi Haraldsson looked over at her. The corpse seemed to know instinctively that it was Hella who was the one who summoned it, and it stared at the little witch for a few moments before making its way slowly over to her.
As the skeleton slowly placed one foot in front of the other it began to transform itself back into its living form. The mud was pushed out of its eye sockets by the eyes that once looked out at the world. Organs appeared in the empty rib cage, and were quickly covered by muscle, and flesh. In the blink of an eye fingernails grew into place, and hair grew out of the dead man's skull a hundred time faster than grass grows in the field. Helgi twisted his neck from side to side. Each time he did it made a sickening cracking sound, much like a chestnut shell being cracked open.
" Why have you summoned me ? " Helgi asked, bewildered by what was happening.
Hella looked up into the dead man's eyes. She spoke coldly and without emotion.
" Jarl Haakon will have need of an army... and you my very dead friend are the first of his warriors ! " she explained to the walking corpse.
Helgi placed his cold hand on the little girl's shoulder.
" I should not be here ! I was feasting in Valhalla when you called to me. Valfather will not be happy when he discovers what you have done ! " Helgi told the little girl angrily.
Hella's eyes glowed bright red as she removed the dean man' s hand from her shoulder.
" When I was born I was touched by the soul of Jarl Haakon. He infused within me his will to live, and now I serve only him. " she replied in a monotone voice.
" And what of Odin ? " Helgi asked.
Hella looked up at the corpse with her red eyes blazing.
" I do not believe that Odin will miss a few of his Einherjar. " she told him calmly.
Helgi stared into her blood red eyes, with the black void in the center, and spoke angrily !
" Then I will speak to this Jarl Haakon, dark witch ! " he demanded.
Hella walked back over to the hanging tree and raised her face, and her hands, to the heavens.
" Be patient dead one ! I am about to summon him now ! " she replied without emotion.
Hella spoke the ancient words again and unleashed the magical resurrection spell. This time, however, she ended by calling Jarl Haakon's name over and over. When she was finished Hella began to walk back to the shack. Suddenly, something grabbed hold of her arm.
" Where is he ? ! " Did your spell not work ! ? " the corpse Helgi asked.
This time the dark witch was not as kind to the dead man. Her eyes glowed red, and the draugr was thrown backwards against the trunk of the tree where he had died decades ago. Her anger lasted but a moment, and then she answered.
" You will wait there for him . The Jarl was not killed and buried here. and therefore he will take some time to arrive . " she told him without any inflection in her voice.
Thora could not understand why the hogs were becoming so excited. At first she ignored their snorting and hollering, but before long the noise grew in intensity until Thora decided that she had better go and investigate. Fearing it might be a vicious animal which was disturbing her hogs, Thora grabbed her spear that was leaning up against the side of her fireplace before she left her house.
As she came closer to the swine - sty the pigs became frantic in their calls, and in response Thora began to run towards the pen. When she reached the pig - sty, however, she stopped dead in her tracks . What she saw couldn't be...... shouldn't be....and yet there it was !!
Thora threw the spear with all her might at the draugr that had intruded on her property. Her aim was true, and the spear point struck its intended victim in the rib cage. Unfortunately there was nothing for the spear to stick into, and it went straight through the skeleton and became embedded in one of the boards of the pen.
The skeleton man tried to move to the right, and then to the left, but the spear shaft prevented it from moving. Thora stood perfectly still in stunned silence as the skeleton pulled the spear out of the wood, and back through its rib cage. Then with her spear in its bony hand it began to move towards her.
Thora was about to run when the skeleton began to change form. Meat attached itself to bone, and features began to appear on the face of the skull. A moment before she was going to run for her life she squinted her eyes to get a better look at the creature.
" Haakon ? ! " she screamed when she finally realized who it was.
The Jarl walked over to Thora and handed her the spear.
" You always were a good marksman ! " he told her with a smile on his blue lips.
" What,......how !? " Thora stammered in disbelief.
Haakon placed his hand over her mouth, and placed a finger up to his lips.
" Shhhh ! I have come back to avenge my death by killing the bonders who betrayed me, and threw their allegiance behind Olav Trygvasson ! " he told her quietly.
Thora pushed his hand away and took a step backwards.
" But how is this possible ? " she asked.
Haakon shook his head.
" There is no time my love ! I have to go see the dark witch and raise an army of the dead before I return to my grave ! " he explained to his one time mistress.
Haakon kissed Thora on the lips, then turned and began to walk in the direction of the haunted forest, which seemed to be calling to him. Thora stood shaking in shock before collapsing to her knees and crying out in mental anguish.
" Haakon ! HAAKON !! " she screamed.
The jarl closed his eyes when he heard Thora's pleas, but he kept walking all the same.
" I am sorry my love ! " he whispered.
Hildigunn and Hella were asleep when they were startled awake by a pounding at the door. Hildigunn sat up in her bed, and looked over at her daughter angrily.
" Why did you raise the dead ?! Helgi is more annoying than the mice that run around our shack ! " she told her daughter.
Hella looked over at her mother and for one of the very few times in her life she smiled.
" That is not Helgi who is knocking at our door. " she told her mother.
Hildigunn scrunched herself up against the far end of the bed, and held the blanket tightly up against herself as though it were a shield.
" Then.... who.... who.... is it !? " she asked in a terrified voice.
" It is Jarl Haakon ! The one who gave me life ! " she explained as she moved toward the door.
" I don' t understand ! " Hildigunn screamed.
" I was supposed to die in your womb mother, but the jarl, upon his death, gave me the will to live. In return I have brought him back from the dead. " Hella told her calmly.
Hildigunn did not want to hear anymore, and cupped her hands over her ears. And as little Hella, the dark witch that she had spawned opened the door, she closed her eyes and screamed in her mind. It was then that her heart gave out, and her eyes closed forever.
Jarl Haakon ran over to Hildigunn as soon as he saw her clutch her chest and slump over, but there was nothing he could do. The life force that once sustained her had already drained away.
Haakon turned to Hella and shook his head.
" I am very sorry ! " he told her.
Hella turned away from her dead mother and walked to the door.
" It is of little matter . She would have died one day anyway. " she replied coldly.
" Now it is time to raise up your army of the dead Jarl Haakon. One by one I will resurrect the Heathen Martyrs ! " she told the dead jarl.
Jarl Haakon carefully placed her mother's hands over her chest, and then turned to Hella.
" There is a way to make them all rise at once ! " he told her with a wicked grin.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : The Return Of The Martyrs
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.