The Spirit Tamer
Though still in his teens Henry was wise enough to know that something was not quite right about the way this Viking ship was approaching. The tales that his father imparted to him about these Heathen warriors always had them attacking en masse, with twenty or more ships coming over the horizon at once. And yet, out there sailing toward him was a lone ship.
" Do they want to do battle, or were they lost, blown off course by a storm ? " he asked himself.
Not willing to take any chances Henry sent patrols east and west along the coast to see if the lone ship was possibly a decoy, and the rest of their fleet was landing further away to outflank them. By the time they returned to tell him that there were no other ships out at sea along their coast the ship had come within hailing distance.
" Vikings are not welcome here in Saxony ! Nor do we want Pagans to walk among us in our Christian land ! " Henry shouted out to the ship which had anchored just out of range of his archers.
None of the Kvenlanders spoke the Saxon language, and therefore all eyes focused on Naddoður, who made his way to the bow of the ship. The Shaman cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted to the Saxon in his own native tongue.
" My name is Naddoður ! I am a Shaman, who along with these men wish you and your people no harm ! " he shouted back.
Henry drew his sword as he replied.
" I repeat,... we do not want the likes of you here in the land of Angaria, Saxony ! " he told the Vikings angrily.
Naddoður grabbed hold of a part of the rigging and leaned over the bow hoping to be heard more clearly.
" I have come to help save your children from the evil Nachtkrapp ! " he informed the leader of the warriors who stood ready for battle on shore.
Henry felt a cold shiver slowly rise up his spine when he heard the hated word ' Nachtkrapp '. His mind spun him back to when he was a seven year old child, and his village was attacked by a flock of these evil night creatures. If not for the valiant efforts of his mother and father to fight off the Night Raven that had him in it's talons he too would have been lost along with the dozen children carried off that night and never seen again. Henry put his sword back in it's scabbard and told Conrad, his second in command, to allow them to land.
As the ship scraped bottom the Kvenlanders jumped into the water and pulled the ship ashore. Once their vessel was secure on dry land the Vikings and the Saxons stood for an awkwardly long time eyeing each other nervously. Seeing the tension beginning to rise Naddoður walked over to the leader and spoke to him.
" For the sake of the children we should put aside our petty differences, and work together to eradicate these creatures from your Duchy. " Naddoður told the leader of the warriors.
" I am Henry the Fowler, son of Duke Otto, Shaman. You, and two of your warriors, may come back to Minden with me. The others will remain here with your ship. " he instructed the Shaman.
Naddoður came closer to the youth, and looked deep into his eyes.
" And how do I know that you will not kill all these Kvenlanders when we leave ? " he asked.
The boy leader did not turn his eyes away from Naddoður as he answered.
" I am Henry, son of Otto, Duke of Saxony, and you have my word that none of these men will be harmed ! " he said without flinching.
" Halldorr and Ossurr you will come with me to Minden to meet the Duke of Saxony. I believe this Saxon when he tells me that our warriors will be safe here. " he told his comrades.
In turn Henry turned to Conrad and gave him a direct order.
" You will guard these Kvenlanders, but you will in no way harm them ! " he commanded his subordinate slowly and clearly.
Conrad walked over to the Duke's son and whispered :
" But,... my Lord,... they are Vikings ! " he said as if Henry did not somehow understand who and what they were. "
Henry gave the older man an angry look as he replied.
" I have given you my orders,... and the Shaman my word. NO ONE IS TO BE HARMED ! Have I made myself quite clear ?! " he shouted at his underling through gritted teeth.
Conrad bowed and said no more.
Henry had three of his warriors dismount, and he ordered them to give their horses to the Pagan visitors for the ride to Minden.
Naddoður thanked the warrior for his horse, and then reluctantly placed his foot in the stirrup.
" Why does no one walk any more ! " he whispered as he mounted his horse.
The ride through Angaria to MInden was long, and the days seemed to drag on forever. By the time they finally reached the village his inner thighs were chaffed almost raw, as were his nerves. Despite his extreme discomfort when they reached the village, which seemed to be separate from the town, the first thing that the Shaman noticed was a small church nestled in between the many small peasant huts. And on top of this odd looking structure was the symbol of the Christian people. Naddoður speculated that the cross was only layered in gold, and not solid, but he did have to admit that it shone impressively from it's great height above the small huts.
" Is this the town ? " Halldorr asked.
Naddoður repeated the question in German to Henry, who laughed at the idea that the peasant village was the town of Minden.
" No ! This is a small village that has sprung up at the edge of the town. " he explained to Naddoður, who relayed that information to Halldorr.
After a short ride further Halldorr, Ossurr, and Naddoður reined in their horses as they came to a great wall. Each gave the other a puzzled look as they tried to take in the great scope of the wall, and what presumably lay within it's confines. Henry, who rode ahead a ways before realizing that they had stopped, turned and waved them ahead. As they galloped up to the middle of the wall Henry yelled up to a guard on the wall.
" I am Henry the Fowler ! Open the gates ! " he commanded.
The guard, once he realized who it was, turned and yelled down into the courtyard for the gate keepers to open it. As the gate opened it dropped across a dirty body of water that seemed to run around the wall for as far as the eye could see. When they crossed the gate, which now acted as a bridge across the water, Naddoður was surprised to see an entire town sprawled out before him. And in the middle of the town was a stone building the likes the Shaman, or the Kvenlanders, had never seen before.
" What is that ? " Naddoður asked, as he pointed to the stone structure.
Henry gave the Shaman an odd look before responding.
" Why that is my father's Burg ! " he explained.
Naddoður had heard that when Charlemagne conquered the Germanic lands he had forever changed them. The Shaman never realized, however, just how much, and how far his influence had spread into what was once the lands of Arminius, and the Germanic tribes of old. As the three visitors to this strange land rode ahead their eyes darted right and left trying to take in the beauty of the town of Minden.
- End Chapter 20
- Next : Chapter 21 : The Duke And The Bishop
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.