The Dark Witch
The Return Of The Martyrs
Haakon walked to the hanging tree with Hella, and together they chanted the ancient resurrection spell. However, after speaking the magical charm, Alumderuf Faluhem, they called out to all the Heathen martyrs to return. Unlike before, there were no winds, and no booming thunder, or lightning. There was only a gentle rain that fell throughout the Germanic lands. And everywhere that the revitalizing rain hit a martyr's grave it awakened the soul of the one buried below, and summoned them to the hanging tree.
From all over Southern Norway the earth began to tremble as thousands of martyred Heathens were awakened from their eternal sleep. With each bony hand that dug itself out its grave mound, Jarl Haakon's army grew. In groups. and individually, the army of the dead marched to meet up with their commander who had summoned them.
Jarl Haakon, however, did not understand the scope of the dark witch's power. He thought that only the martyrs from Norway would rise up and avenge their deaths. Far away, however, in the land of the Franks, near an abandoned wheat field at the edge of the old battlefield at Verden, there was an earth tremor as four thousand five hundred martyred souls dug their way to the surface through centuries of packed dirt and mud. These long dead Saxons did not seek out a leader, nor did they care who woke them. These Heathens wanted revenge, and as soon as their bodies reformed they headed for the nearest town looking for blood !
The first of the Norwegian martyrs to arrive at the shack were of course the Heathens who had been executed upon the hanging tree and were buried nearby. Soon, however, the dead began to pour into the haunted forest from all over southern Norway. As they sought out their commander they cried out : " Haakon ! Haakon ! " The jarl could not help but smile when he heard his name called over and over again. When the jarl's army grew to around two hundred souls he gathered them together, and told them that at first light they were going into the countryside to take vengeance against the bonders, who sided with the likes of Olav Trygvasson, and turned their backs on the Gods of their ancestors.
The jarl thanked the dark witch for all her help. He explained to her that in the morning they would be leaving, and that they would not be coming back. Hella thanked the jarl for giving her life while in her mother's womb, and asked Haakon for a favor.
" Would you be so kind as to hang my mother on the gallows branch, and carve her name on the limb below the others that are carved there. " she asked without emotion.
Although Haakon thought it odd for the daughter to want to have her mother hung in the tree, he did what the little witch asked.
The next morning over two hundred draugr began to walk to the nearest farm, which was located just outside of Rimol. The dark witch stood at the edge of the haunted forest and watched as they straggled by one by one. She waved to the jarl as the last corpse passed her, and stood stoically there until they disappeared off in the distance. Then, as she looked back at the shack, Hella experienced something she had never felt before. The dark witch felt lonely !
The army of the dead marched to within sight of the first farm, and then on a small hill overlooking the farm they were stopped by their commander. Jarl Haakon turned and faced his warriors.
" It is time for us to avenge our deaths at the hands of the Christians ! Let us show no mercy to the bonders !! " he shouted.
Like water cascading over a waterfall the army of the dead poured down the hill towards the farm below. The draugr each cried out their death scream as they ran forward to kill and destroy anything and everything in their paths. Like a swarm of locusts they descended upon the Christians ready to annihilate !
Egil was fixing a fence post and was the first to see the warriors as they came over the crest of the hill. At first he wondered who they were, and what they wanted. Those questions were quickly answered when with weapons held high they came running straight for his farm.
As fast as his legs would carry him Egil ran for his longhouse shouting .
" Asgerd ! Arnor !! " he yelled to his wife and son.
" You must leave now ! Head for the village and tell the chieftain that an invading army has come ! " he cried out.
When his family left the house, Egil quickly ran into the long house. He quickly grabbed his sword and shield to defend his farm, and then left as quickly as he came. As the army approached Egil did not want to wait to engage the enemy, instead choosing to go out and meet them head on. When he came close enough to the first warrior Egil noticed that they moved quite stiffly, and that their eyes had a blank stare to them. The bonder did not have much time to dwell on their appearance for long before he was attacked.
Egil easily blocked the first blow with his shield, and a well placed counter strike with his sword ran the warrior through. It was then that Egil noticed the stench of death. As he pulled his sword out of the warrior to engage his next opponent he was terrified to see that the warrior he had stabbed through the heart had not fallen ! The warrior did not even flinch in pain ! It was then that Egil came to the horrifying realization that these were draugr, the walking dead !
Egil felt an object hit his head, and in an instant he lost all sense of balance and fell to the ground. Barely conscious, he tried to crawl back into the safety of his house. He did not get very far ! A dozen draugr stood over the bonder stabbing and hacking him to pieces. They did not stop until his body was unrecognizable as human !
Jarl Haakon himself burned down the bonder's house, while other warriors torched his barn and granary shed. As the black smoke rose high into the sky Haakon and his warriors slowly moved onto the next farm. By nightfall the skyline was filled with black smoke from two dozen bonder farms that the dead army had torched on their way to Rimol.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : The Armies Of The Dead
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.