The Yule Promise
The Wound Revealed
Valdarr knew that Mani had always been a friend to Norse hunters. When Oddbjorn had fatally injured the deer all those years ago it was the God who lit the night sky which allowed them to see well enough to track the dying animal until it finally fell. And now that same God, who glided across the heavens above him, would help guide this wolf pack to him with His shining presence. Valdarr was also well aware that even if Mani were absent, and the stars did not shine, the wolves could, and would, use their fine sense of smell to find him. Covered in blood, and severely injured, he would be an easy target for the wolf pack to track.
Valdarr propped himself up on his knees, took his dead arm from his belt, and slowly removed his bear skin coat. His coat of mail was next to be discarded. He was glad to be rid of the extra weight of the ring linked chain mail shield, that had failed to protect him. The shirt was next and was much more difficult to remove. The sleeve from his left arm slid out easily, but the material from the right sleeve was both embedded into the wound, and stuck fast to the arm by his own congealed blood.
Valdarr tried in vain to remove the garment slowly, and in small measures, but each tug caused him excruciating pain, for little in the way of results. As horrifying as the thought was, he knew that the best way to remove the shirt was to simply rip it off his arm, and hope the resulting agony would not last for more than a few moments. As he gathered his inner strength to remove the sleeve, Valdarr reached down and balled up some snow, which he placed down at his side. For he knew that only the freezing cold snow could help dull the pain that was sure to come.
With his left hand Valdarr grabbed hold of the material just above the wound. He flexed his fingers several times to make absolutely certain that he had a firm grip on the sleeve, for this was something he wanted to do only once. Then, after a deep breath, he closed his eyes, and pulled with all his might.
The stars in the night sky were not nearly as brilliant as the ones that Valdarr saw in the darkness of his mind. Suffering an agony he never knew was possible Valdarr writhed on the ground, and made grunts and groans that sounded more animal than human. It took a long time for the pain to diminish enough for him to open his eyes and have clear thoughts again, but when he finally was able to react he reached down and grabbed hold of the snowball and placed it against the wound on his arm. Again the stars lit up the darkness behind his eyes, as he reached a new level of excruciating pain. Then slowly, ever so slowly, it began to diminish to the point where his mind and body were not being totally consumed by the agony in his arm.
Valdarr left the melting snow ball against his arm until the pain relinquished its hold on him, and then he slowly removed it and peeked down at the wound. He was shocked and disappointed by what he saw. Valdarr had expected the wound to be fairly smooth, the way he had seen sword wounds do damage to human flesh in the past to warriors. His wound, however, was torn open, and ragged around the edges. Valdarr deduced that this was probably caused from the chain mail links, which had broken off of his coat, and embedded themselves into the wound by the enemy's sword. When he ripped off the sleeve the metal rings were obviously part of the clotted mess and caused further damage as they were removed with the huge scab. Whatever the cause of the wound looking as it did, it was much worse than he had anticipated.
As Valdarr gently used the snow to clear away the remaining clotted blood, the wound which had disturbed him only moments before, now greatly alarmed him ! Along with the congealed blood, a sickly yellow pus was oozing from the deep cut. In his days as a warrior he had seen several wounds do this, and the outcome was never very good for the injured man. The few who were saved from a fate of fever and ultimate death were treated by a local shaman with a mixture made from roots and herbs, which was then covered over with a thick amount of mud to protect the wound.
Valdarr did not have any roots or healing herbs, and even if he had them with him, he would not have known which ones to use. The local shaman kept the secrets of the healing medicine to himself, and never shared what he considered to be a form of magic with anyone. Valdarr knew that all he could do for the moment was clean the wound as best he could, and cover it with a dressing to keep it from getting any worse.
After washing the wound thoroughly, Valdarr used his knife to cut his shirt into strips. Carefully, with his one good hand, he wrapped the cloth strips around his arm, and with the help of his teeth, tied the ends together. This procedure was both difficult and exhausting, and by the time he finally had the wound securely wrapped Sunna had begun to replace Mani in the night sky above the ridge.
Using what he felt was his last bit of strength, Valdarr slowly wrapped his bear coat around his shivering shoulders. With his strength all but gone he had already decided that it would be best if he lay back down and rested for a short while before trying to move south along the ridge. As he curled up into a ball on the ground to conserve his body heat, he thought of how blissful several hours of sleep would be. His plan changed, however, when he heard the wolves howling again. Only this time they sounded much, much, closer !
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : The Wolf Pack
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.