The Valkyrie's Daughter
King Sverre's Fleet
Eirik quietly dressed, gathered his things, and walked over to where Vigvaldr was sleeping. To make sure he did not awaken the others, the Birkebeiner placed his hand over the Tronder's mouth before gently shaking him.
" Shh ! Eirik told Vigvaldr as he awoke. " I would prefer to leave before your chieftain rises ! "
Vigvaldr grinned from ear to ear.
" I do not blame you ! I did not think Amundr would ever stop pestering you last night about the battle you fought in Bjorgyn. I am surprised he let let you sleep at all ! " he whispered with a little chuckle.
Vigvaldr dressed as quietly as he could, and then led Eirik out of the hall. The Tronder wasted no time in walking over to a fenced in field, where he pointed to the horses grazing in the early morning sun.
" Choose which one you want. Only be quick before my Lord awakens ! " he informed the Birkebeiner with a devilish smile.
Eirik could not find the horse that Hlaðguðr Svanhvít had given to him, so he picked out a beautiful steed with a white patch just above it's nose, and quickly saddled the strong looking animal. Moments later Eirik fell in behind Vigvaldr as he galloped off in the direction of the Trondheimsfjord.
Despite wanting nothing more than to join his Birkebeiner comrades Eirik could not help but notice the beauty of the countryside as they rode through open fields, forests, and along the waterway that led into the interior of Trondalag. Forest of oak and ash would almost magically change into fir and pine as the elevation rose, and then back again when it dropped. When they finally reached the fjord Eirik was especially impressed with the scenery as they rode along the path that ran parallel to the to the water.
Despite it being early spring Eirik could still see snow on the top of almost all of the distant mountains. And yet the green fields that led down to the fjord had little yellow flowers in bloom everywhere. Eirik thought to himself that this would be a wonderful place to settle down once the Bagler - Birkebeiner civil war had ended.
Visions of Hlaðguðr Svanhvít instantly filled Eirik's head, and the beauty all around him soured, as he became saddened over the loss of the only woman he had ever loved. Eirik, who had been rather talkative with Vigvaldr thus far on their journey suddenly became very quiet and aloof. The Tronder could not help but notice, but the Birkebeiner had been through so much he did not question why he had stopped talking.
As they rounded a small forest, on a peninsula of land, they emerged onto an open flat plain buzzing with human activity. It was obvious to Eirik that they had reached King Sverre's encampment. When he looked around he was amazed at how large the army had grown in such a short time. And down by the water he saw carpenters building ships !
Vigvaldr reined in his horse in front of what looked to be a hastily built structure that apparently served as a house. The Tronder slid off of his mount and stood facing the front door of the small hut.
" Hakon ! Hakon Sigurdsson ! Where are you my friend ? " he yelled loudly at the dwelling.
Quickly the door flew open, and a fairly young man emerged with a joyous look upon his face.
" Vigvaldr, you old son of a bitch ! It is good to see you my old friend ! " he shouted back before running over and grasping his hand firmly.
" How did you get away from Chieftain Amundr ? " Hakon asked.
Vigvaldr laughed !
" Old dragon breath had no choice but to let me go. " he explained to the son of the king. " You see this man here is Eirik Ospaksson. He survived the fight in Bjorgyn, and has returned to join your army. "
Hakon frowned, and looked suspiciously at Eirik, who was still mounted on his horse.
" We assumed the entire force we sent out to protect our rear as we retreated was wiped out. " he told Eirik.
Eirik dismounted, and then he lifted his shirt to show the king's son his scars.
" The Baglers were so intent upon killing your father, and destroying the rest of the army, that they never bothered to see if any of our wounded Birkebeiners were strong enough to get away from the battlefield. " he explained.
" And were there others ? " he asked hopefully.
Eirik shook his head.
" As far as I know, I am the only survivor of that awful battle at Bjorgyn. " he told Hakon sadly.
Hakon managed a smile, and placed his hand on Eirik's shoulder.
" My father will surely want to see you ! " he informed Eirik.
The king was down by the water inspecting the progress of the work on the ships, that would make up his fleet, when his son, Vigvaldr, and a stranger walked up to him.
" Have you escaped the clutches of Chieftain Amundr, and wish to join my Birkebeiners ? " Sverre asked the Tronder jokingly.
" No, my Lord ! I was asked by Amundr to escort this warrior to your camp. " he explained.
Hakon broke into the conversation, and pointed to Eirik.
" Father ! This man was wounded covering our withdrawal from Sverresborg, and has returned to us. " he informed the leader of the Birkebeiners.
King Sverre immediately turned to Eirik, and with raised eyebrows, and a look of disbelief on his face asked :
" How is that possible ?! "
Eirik once again lifted his shirt to show the king his wounds before responding.
" Apparently, my Lord, they cared more about killing you than if I died. " he replied.
King Sverre nodded.
" Yes ! That Bishop Arnesson, and his puppet pretender to the throne Inge Magnusson, would love to display my head in his cathedral in Oslo ! " he shouted.
Eirik lowered his shirt and asked the king a question that had been bothering him ever since they had entered the Birkebeiner camp.
" My Lord, our army has grown in my absence. Where did you recruit all of these new warriors ? "
King Sverre's anger quickly diminished.
" Many of the Tronders who joined the Baglers have now seen the light of day and switched sides in the fight for the throne of Norway. When the Tronders heard of the Bagler's brutality in Bjorgyn, and especially the burning of the church there, they did not wish to be associated with such unchristian people. " he explained to Eirik.
The king then turned and pointed to the ships that were being constructed all around the fjord.
" The Tronders have agreed to build for me eight new ships, " he told the sole survivor of Bjorgyn, before pointing in a new direction " and over there, they are converting four transport vessels into war ships as well ! "
Hakon patted Eirik on the back.
" If you are well enough we can always use another pair of hands ! " he informed Eirik.
Eirik gave Hakon a determined look.
" I am healthy and more eager than ever to help us defeat these damned Baglers ! " he said proudly.
King Sverre grinned as he nodded.
" That is good ! For we have heard that the Baglers are forming their own fleet to attack us. " he informed Eirik.
Vigvaldr could not hide his anger any longer.
" I wish that I could sail with you. I am tired of guarding a chieftain who is fat, lazy, and I fear a coward as well ! " he suddenly blurted out.
King Sverre chuckled.
" Then stay ! I will send a messenger back to Chieftain Amundr telling him that I have need of your services ! " the king told him happily.
Vigvaldr grinned from ear to ear.
" I would very much like that ! " he told the king.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : The Battle Of Strindafjord
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.