The Tale Of Hati Shaky Sword
Bjarni was a huge and imposing man. He stood almost a full head above most of the warriors in camp. His muscles were large and well defined, and he was strong. Very strong ! Bjarni was also a mean and sadistic individual. He believed that his might gave him the right to push around, and harass those who were weaker, and could not defend themselves. His father, Thrain, had from the time he could walk, trained his son for battle. His father had shown him no love, and no mercy, as he showed his son how to fight effectively using a variety of weapons. Thrain did not accept second best ! He did not accept weakness of any kind, and Bjarni' s body still bore the scars from punishments his father gave him for not reaching the lofty goals that his father set for him. Bjarni eventually became the strong warrior that he wanted in a son. But his son also became an uncaring, unfeeling, brute of a man, who was filled with hate and anger. One day his father pushed him too far, and Bjarni killed him !
Bjarni disliked having to train these little men, many of whom were simple dirt farmers. As he looked out over the men he was charged with training he shook his head in disgust. " Is there not a real man among you ?! " he shouted at the weaklings that stood before him. No one answered his question. " Well, since it appears Ranrike has run out of male warriors, I guess I will have to see what I can do with a bunch of handmaidens like you ! " he told the trainees with an ugly stare. " Now off to your left you will see a stack of wooden shields.... " Bjarni looked down, and shook his head again. " That would be your other left ladies ! " he shouted to half of the men who looked the wrong way. " I want each of you girls to go, and get a shield, and then reassemble here to begin sparring. " he said as he pointed at the shields. " That means NOW ladies ! " he screamed at the men who did not move fast enough for him.
When the men had reassembled Bjarni chose two men of equal height and weight to fight against each other. Hati was glad that he was not chosen right away. It gave him a chance to see how the others fought, and maybe pick up a few ideas on what to do. Bjarni began to yell right from the start of the sparring match. Bjarni put his hands on his head and yelled at them : " Keep up your shields you fools ! This isn't a dance ladies ! That man across from you is trying to kill you, not kiss you ! " he screamed. Finally when Bjarni had seen enough he stepped in between the two men. " What a hopeless lot you two are ! " he yelled as he pushed them apart. " Hike up your dresses and sit down ladies ! " he told them with an angry stare. Then he addressed the entire group. " That was without a doubt the worst swordsmanship I have ever seen in my life ! " he screamed at them.
After a few more pathetic matches Bjarni looked around for two more opponents. Feeling a little sadistic Bjarni chose the largest man in the ranks, and then looked around for the scrawniest man. His eyes quickly became fixed on Hati. " You ! Bones ! Get out here ! " he commanded. Hati was terrified ! The warrior was almost twice his size, and was obviously much stronger ! The man who stood across from Hati realized that this was a mismatch, and whispered to his little opponent : " My name is Einar, I will not hurt you ! " Hati looked comical holding the shield on one arm, and his father's long and very heavy sword in the other. Einar as promised took it easy, and Hati was able to block many of the slow and not very powerful blows from his opponents sword. Hati, however, had trouble swinging his father's heavy sword. Whenever he swung the long blade at his opponent he made a funny howling noise as he struggled to hit with some power. The other men began to laugh every time he did this, which was making Bjarni very angry ! After a short while Hati' s hand began to shake from fatigue, and even with Einar swinging with half of his strength, the little farmer was knocked to the ground several times by the blows. The longer the match went on the louder the other men laughed at Hati.
Bjarni had never seen such nonsense in all his life ! It was obvious that Einar was holding back against the smaller man, and to Bjarni it was becoming even more apparent that they should have left this weak little farmer back on his homestead. After the fight had gone on for a short while Bjarni stepped in, and literally threw Einar on the ground in one quick motion. " Let me show you how to dispose of your opponent quickly and efficiently ! " he yelled angrily as he drew his sword. Bjarni laughed : " Are you scared little man ! ? " Hati had no time to answer . Bjarni's first blow cut his shield in half ! The trainers second sword strike knocked Hati to the ground ! Seated on the ground, and with no way to escape, Hati placed his sword and what was left of his shield over his head for protection and waited for the death blow as Bjarni rained down strike after strike.
" Bjarni ! " A man yelled from across the way. The angry trainer stopped immediately, and placed his sword back into its scabbard. When the large man came towards the training area the trainees quickly got up and moved out of the way to let him in. " Are you training this man, or are you trying to kill him ? ! " Ivar asked sternly. Bjarni took a deep breath before answering. " Training him sir ! But I am afraid I do not have much to work with here sir ! " he reported. Ivar moved to within a foot of the trainers face, and looked him right in the eyes. " We will need every man who can carry a weapon if we are to defeat the Agder kings ! " Ivar told the trainer. " Do you understand ?" Ivar asked forcefully. Bjarni answered immediately : " Yes sir ! "
Hati was amazed when he saw Bjarni and Ivar standing toe to toe. Bjarni was a huge man by any standard, but Ivar was half a head taller than the large trainer. And Ivar's arms were even bigger than Bjarni' s ! Hati saw something in Bjarni's eyes as the two spoke. At first the farmer thought it was fear, but then he realized it was respect. The trainer respected those who were stronger than himself, and he certainly seemed to respect the commander. Ivar turned around, and reached down with his hand. Surprised, Hati dropped the remains of his shield, and took the commanders hand. As Ivar helped the defeated farmer up he looked the farmer in the eye. " You will need to train hard my friend. We need you to be at your best for the upcoming fight ! " the commander told him, before turning back to Bjarni. " Carry on men ! " he commanded as he left. As soon as Ivar had left Bjarni looked around. " Alright ! I need two more girls out here to spar ! " Bjarni yelled.
Day after day the abuse continued. Bjarni embarrassed Hati in front of the other men every chance that he got. Bjarni called Hati a maiden, bones, and even a coward, but the name that stuck was shaky sword. After a few days most of the farmer's fighting skills began to improve, and the trainer left them alone, but the trainees who were not progressing at the same rate became the constant targets of Bjarni' s verbal, and physical abuse. And Hati was not making any progress at all ! He knew what the trainer wanted him to do, he simply did not have the strength to go toe to toe with the other warriors using his father's sword. Whenever Hati failed Bjarni would slap him, punch him, and even kick him when he was knocked down by his opponent. Hati began to wonder if he would ever live long enough to get a chance to die on the battlefield. He was sure that Bjarni would kill him right here in camp !
End Chapter 3
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter : 4 : An Honorable Commander