The Valkyrie's Daughter
A Vision All In White
Instead of letting himself regret his decision, which made no difference at this juncture anyway, Eirik drew his sword, gripped his shield tightly, and readied himself for battle. As their small Birkebeiner unit approached the much larger Bagler army Eirik was the first to shout : " For King Sverre and Norway ", and the first to break into a run toward the enemy's line.
Despite the Bagler formation bracing itself for the impact of the onrushing Birkebeiners, Eirik, and the warriors he led forward, made a large dent in their lines, and pushed them back twenty or thirty feet before they recovered and began to surge forward with the greater weight of their numbers. Soon the Birkebeiner warriors were surrounded on three sides, and fighting for their lives. As Eirik slashed and stabbed his way through the Baglers he had to admit that King Sverre Sigurdsson was right about one thing. The Bagler army hated the Birkebeiners so much that they cared more about destroying their tiny force than sending warriors to the Borg to see if the main force was still there.
Eirik expected to die at any moment. It did not seem to matter how many of the enemy he severely injured or killed, because the moment that one fell, two or more appeared to replace him to continue the fight. The Baglers, of course, had an inexhaustible amount of manpower to throw into the battle, but as he blocked another blow from an enemy's sword, Eirik became acutely aware that their little force was quickly being decimated, and they had no reserves with which to draw from !
The Baglers were not the only enemy on the battlefield. Fatigue also fell upon the Birkebeiners like a heavy sword upon their weapons and shields. One by one Eirik's comrades, weakened by exhaustion, lowered their now heavier feeling shields just enough to allow a stabbing sword to pass through the open gap, or were too slow to react to a sword blow, and had their heads cleaved open. Out of the corner of his eye Eirik wached as one by one his Birkebeiners fell dead or mortally wounded upon the ground all around him.
By this time Eirik had had enough ! He had heard tales of a Viking Berserker who had held off the English army wielding just an axe at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, just a few years before, but this was not Britain, and he was just a warrior and not a hero. In the matter of a split second Eirik made a fateful decision. He would throw himself into the middle of the Bagler army, and kill as many as he possibly could before he himself was killed. Just as he was about to step forward into the maelstrom Eirik felt a stabbing pain in his shoulder, followed by a burning sensation in his side that took his breath away. The agony of his wounds was so great that he did not feel the impact as he hit the ground hard. Laying on the ground in a heap, Eirik's world began to spin, and the voices in his head seemed to become distant echoes which became fainter as time went by. And then there was nothing but darkness, and silence !
Eirik awoke like a sleeper startled out of a nightmare ! He took in a long deep breath, as though he had been under water for far too long, and lacked enough air to survive. The inhalation cleared his head, and stopped the burning in his lungs, but it also allowed his nerves to once again experience the pain that slowly began to rack his whole body.
How long Eirik lay there on the battlefield among the dead he did not know. What he was fairly certain of, however, was that he was most likely the lone survivor among the many bodies that littered the ground. There was only one question that haunted him as he decided what to do next. " Where did all the Baglers go ? "
Using his shield to help him get up on his knees Eirik looked around the battlefield through blurry eyes. What he saw astounded him ! He truly seemed to be the only person here in Bjorgyn. Not believing his own eyes, and with the aide of his sword, as well as his shield, Eirik was able to stand up and look around slowly and carefully. The town had been burned to the ground and nothing, and no one, existed there now. Nor was there any moaning or cries for help from those who had fallen on the battlefield. But most perplexing was that there was no one on the wall of the fort.
" Surely the Baglers would have occupied the Borg before they went after King Sverre ! " he commented to himself.
It was then that Eirik realized that the Bagler hated King Sverre so much that they had abandoned everything to go after him. But Eirik also was certain that they would soon come back, and he needed to get as far away from the battlefield, and the Borg, as possible and hopefully find shelter.
Every step was pure agony ! And each footfall opened up his wounds further, and allowed more of his precious blood to escape. Eirik took off his scabbard and used it like a cane, while he held his shirt tightly against his bleeding side. His shoulder was quite painful as well, but he did not seem to be bleeding nearly as much from that wound, so for the time being he ignored it.
At first Eirik knew that he was walking south-east along the Bjorgynjarvagr, but after a while the continuous loss of blood blurred his vision, and dulled his senses, to the point where he could not be sure of anything. How long Eirik walked he could not say, for time had no meaning for him now. Nor did he know where he was headed. When Eirik spotted a small body of fresh water in the distance he decided that no matter how long it took him he was going to make it to the shore of that lake.
Although each unsteady step took him closer to what he now recognized as the small lake Litla Alrekstadavatn, he was growing weaker by the moment, and he quickly feared that each step would be his last. And when a small stone tripped him up it almost caused him to lose hope of ever reaching the water.
Eirik lay on the ground expecting death to cast it's dark shadow upon him at any moment. When it didn't come quickly enough he became even more determined to reach the lake, and despite not being able to stand again he began to slowly crawl. Eirik the man wanted to die, but the warrior in him would not let him quit. He no longer knew, or cared, why he wanted to reach the water, but Eirik was certain it was his final goal in life, and one that he would achieve.
As darkness fell over Bjorgyn the moon slowly rose over the trees, and shone down upon the area. To Eirik the moon's reflection in the calm lake became a beacon to follow, and although he was now physically exhausted he renewed his effort to reach the coolness of the water. With his last bit of strength Eirik lifted himself up off of the ground and staggered towards the lake. With a final lunge Eirik fell face down in the mud at the edge of the water. Realizing that he had met his last challenge, Eirik rolled over and looked up at the heavens and spoke.
" Odin take me, for I pledge my afterlife to you ! Allow me to become one of your cherished einherjar and I will fight for you for an eternity ! " he promised the All - father.
As his world began to blur and each breath became shallower and more difficult, Eirik took one last look at the image of the moon upon the water . What he saw instead was something odd. Was it perhaps a creature ? Or maybe it was just a vision all in white.
- End Chapter 2
- Next : Chapter 3 : Hlaðguðr Svanhvít
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.