The Tale Of Hati Shaky Sword
" Tell My Wife I Am Sorry "
By the time the Agder warriors made it to his line they had already been fighting with several Ranrike warriors to reach his position. When the first warrior attacked Hati the enemy swordsman was already weary, and did not expect much of a fight from a little man like him. The Agder warrior tried to overpower Hati with a quick swing of his sword to his head. As Rannveig had taught him, he blocked the stroke with his shield, and allowed that force to help him spin around. As Hati spun he lowered himself onto one knee as he swung his sword at his opponent. With all his might, and using the momentum provided by his enemy, his sword cut into his opponents leg just above the knee slicing it cleanly in two. The warrior, who tried to step back before the strike, fell backwards on the ground. With blood shooting out of his open arteries he tried to defend himself with his shield as he lay helpless on the ground. Hati, calmly, but quickly, stabbed him in the chest before his opponent could raise his shield high enough. The huge warrior looked at Hati with total disbelief in his eyes. Hati, however, had no time to watch this man die ! He pulled his sword out of the man' s chest, which made a sucking sound, and turned just in time to roll out of the way of another warrior who had taken a swing at him with an axe. As the warrior took another swing at him, Hati rolled under it and hoped to tumble into his legs knocking him down. He came up short with the warriors shield in his face ! Hati tried to lift the man's shield but he could not do it . Suddenly, the man's head was gone ! Rannveig laughed as blood poured off of her sword ! " Come on Hati, the fight has just begun ! " she yelled over the din of battle.
The battle seemed to be a stalemate for most of the morning . The Agder army was not making much progress in destroying the Ranrike army, while the Ranrike army could not push the Agder army out of the valley. The battle continued this way until the sun reached its apex, and the heat began to take its toll on the tired and weary Agder warriors. As the sun began its slow descent across the western sky the Ranrike army began to push back. And push hard !
Realizing that the tide had turned against them King Valgard rode over to where King Eirik was fighting, and had a quick conference with him, and a few of his commanders. They both agreed that the battle was not going very well . King Einar suggested a retreat to regroup, but King Valgard would hear of no such thing. King Valgard wanted to send all of their combined reserves against the Ranrike line where King Aki was fighting. " Kill King Aki, and the whole Ranrike army will fold up like a tent in the wind ! " King Valgard told King Einar.
Although he disagreed with his blood brother, King Einar went back personally, and brought up the reserves. Several of his commanders asked for the honor of leading them against the Ranrike king, but once they were in place it was King Einar who led the reserves into battle himself. As Einar drew his sword he realized that he would never see his wife, or his kingdom again. He had always trusted his blood brother in all matters, but this time he knew it was going to cost him his life. Einar lifted his sword over his head, and pointed it at the enemy. As he began to run towards the Ranrike line he yelled at the top of his lungs. He was followed by a hundred screaming warriors !
Ivar was first to see the new threat to the Ranrike army. With the help of his sister he slowly moved his men, and the shield maidens, over to meet this new assault. Unfortunately they were held up by their own battles, and were too late ! The Agder warriors overpowered the first line of their defense, and headed straight for King Aki. The first to feel the brunt of this enemy push were the warriors who fought in front of King Aki. Unfortunately, they were not strong enough to hold them back, and the battle was now in the midst of the king and his personal guards, who numbered only twenty five men.
Bjarni, and the king's elite guard, fought furiously trying desperately to protect their king until the rest of the Ranrike army could come to their rescue. Hati, during the course of the battle, had drifted into the middle of these elite warriors. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Rannveig was no longer by his side either. She had left Hati to help Ivar gather up enough men to help the king. In a strange twist of fate Bjarni and Hati now fought side by side. The perfect warrior, and the weakling, were now brothers in arms. Hati fought as hard as he could, almost as skilled as the well trained warriors by his side. Spinning, tumbling, and jumping, Hati avoided the enemy warriors swords and axes, while slicing at legs, arms or anything else that presented itself to his light and swift sword. At one point he was holding off two warriors at once. And all the time he was howling like a wild animal !
Bjarni on the other hand was locked in combat with three warriors at once, one of which was King Einar. In the distance, and out of the corner of his eye, Bjarni saw more of the enemy coming, and he was starting to grow weak from several wounds. Whether it was from the pain from his injuries, or possibly the hopelessness of his situation, may never be known, but slowly, as he continued to fight, Bjarni began to feel fear. A fear that was slowly taking him over ! Then in a moment of extreme terror, an opportunity to escape opened up around him, and Bjarni, the great warrior, the camp bully, slipped through this rare opening in the fighting that raged all around him, and ran like a rabbit to the rear to save his life. Many of the king's elite guards had already gone down, and there was no one left between King Aki and the enemy. The king was now totally unprotected !
King Aki was surrounded by six warriors, all of whom were well aware of the significance of killing the enemy king. Aki fought furiously to keep them at bay, but he knew he could not fight at this level for very long. Suddenly, a warrior tumbled in front of him, and began to slash at everyone and anyone who stood before the king. King Aki almost swung at the warrior, but at the last moment he recognized the little man and held his sword. Hati fought with a fury the king had never seen before . His sword flashed from side to side, and blocked many of the enemy's sword strokes. When possible he slashed back, despite being wounded several times. King Aki gained renewed strength from this warriors courage, and fought back even harder than before.
Hati had unfortunately exceeded his capabilities and began to weaken. He did not feel the first few cuts that sliced into his body, but the stab wounds began to take their toll. In a last desperate attempt to keep the Agder warriors away from King Aki, Hati ran straight at the enemy warriors, and literally threw himself at them. Three swords stabbed him in the chest and the stomach rendering him helpless, and bleeding profusely. The heroic act had worked ! Two of the three enemy warriors were knocked off of their feet while King Aki killed the third as the enemy warrior pulled his sword out of Hati' s chest. As the two warriors lay on the ground, they looked up to see dozens of Ranrike warriors coming to King Aki' s aid.
Ivar was the first to arrive, and it was he who killed both enemy warriors that were on the ground, one of whom was King Einar. His men fanned out and began to push back the other warriors who threatened the king. The shield maidens then surrounded their king and, along with the remaining elite guards, made sure no other Agder warriors came close enough to harm him. Within a matter of moments the area around the king, which was just moments ago a killing zone, was now empty of the enemy. The Ranrike army had now pushed the Agder army away from the king, and was moving them slowly back across the valley.
When the king was deemed to be safe Rannveig ran over to where Hati lay dying. She gently lifted his head as she knelt, and hugged him against her chest. " No ! No ! " Rannveig screamed. If Hati was going to die here on this field of battle then Rannveig was determined that he would not die alone. From the loss of blood Hati' s body was shaking, and he complained of being thirsty and cold. King Aki who stood over his dying warrior took of his royal purple cape, and draped it over the brave warrior. Rannveig rocked him back and forth as she kissed him on the forehead. " I am so sorry ! I should have been there for you ! I should have protected you ! " she told Hati with tears streaming down her face.
As Ivar came over to report that the enemy was now in full retreat, he saw Hati lying on the ground in his sister's arms. Ivar gave his sister a questioning look. Rannveig shook her head back and forth, and then began to cry even harder. Ivar lowered his head in silence. Suddenly Hati sat up and began to shake violently ! As he looked into Rannveig's eyes he said his last words : " Tell my wife I am sorry ! " he spit out. Then Hati slipped back down onto Rannveig' s lap and was gone.
- End Chapter 6
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 7 : A Tribute Fit For A King