The Yule War
( The Greatest Gift )
To Defend Our People
Borr immediately went to work on building a defensive perimeter around the village. Everyone from the oldest of their folk to the youngest of their children were given some small task to do. Those who were fit enough were given the duty of digging a trench around the northern approach to the village, while young boys were given the job of sharpening stakes to place in the bottom of the pit. Older women and young girls set about gathering up hay, and other dried brush, to place around the rest of the village. If the Upplanders tried to enter from the east, or the west, they could light this brush on fire forming a temporary barrier which might buy them some time to escape.
The village only had one blacksmith, an older man named Vestarr, and he had a young boy, Jogrimr, in his care who he was training as his apprentice. The blacksmith, in conjunction with the local carpenters, were kept busy turning out shields as fast as they could. His apprentice spent his time sharpening swords, axes, and spears.
Borr did his very best to show the women, and young boys and girls, how to use their weapons. No matter how poorly they fought in mock battles he applauded them with words of encouragement. The old warrior had no choice. For this was all he had to work with to defend his village, and the rest of Hedemark, against the Opplandene army.
The situation seemed hopeless enough as it was, and then the weather turned against them. The temperature plummeted, the winds picked up to a gale force, and snow began to fall, which was blown by the fierce winds turning it into a blizzard of freezing missiles that stung the flesh, and made it almost impossible to see more than a few feet in front of them.
The earth froze and made it impossible to finish the trench that was supposed to guard the northern edge of their village. In most places it was only a few feet wide and only half as deep as they had planned it to be. The sharpened stakes were placed in the bottom of the shallow trench despite the fact that most able bodied warriors could leap across it without much difficulty. Borr held out the small hope that at least a few of the enemy might stumble into the pit during the confusion of battle.
The high winds blew away most of the hay and some of the lighter brush that they had set around he village. What remained was so covered with snow as to be useless for lighting. Borr soon became dejected and he resigned himself to his fate. Outwardly, however, he remained a pillar of strength as he worked tirelessly to do what little he could to protect his people against the invading Upplanders.
Borr confided his concerns to only one person. At night, when he had done all he could to protect his folk for battle, he came home and told his wife that in his estimation they had no chance in slowing down the Opplandene army, let alone defeating such a formidable force.
Despite speaking in discreet whispers Geirdis overheard enough to know that their cause was hopeless. This feeling of helplessness made the nightmares even more intense. Her dreams of being brutally raped caused her to wake up screaming every night, and made her tremble with fear in the mornings when she remembered every detail of the nightly attacks.
One night, after an especially terrifying nightmare, Geirdis woke up covered in sweat and shaking uncontrollably. She was so frightened that she could not even find her voice to scream. Geirdis reached out for the sword her husband had given her with hands that shook so badly she was barely able to grab hold of the hilt. As she hugged the sword tightly against her chest the trembling ceased, and she felt a strange calmness come over her that she had not felt since her husband had left for war.
" I will not allow myself to be violated ! I will either kill them, or they will kill me, but I will not endure being raped by these monsters ! " she whispered angrily to herself.
Despite it being the middle of the night Geirdis flung her legs over the edge of the bed, and stepped down onto the cold floor. With a great determination and strength of will, that she did not realize she possessed, she walked over to Bor and gently shook him awake.
Borr woke slowly, and remained in a groggy state as his eyes struggled to focus in the dimly lit room on the figure that stood over his bed. Finally, after a moment, he saw clearly who had disturbed his sleep.
Geirdis ! ? " he stated as much as asked.
Geirdis could see that Borr was not pleased with being awakened in the middle of the night. The angry look on his face would have made most people apologize and back away, but Geirdis was determined to get an answer to her question, and stood firm as she spoke.
" I know that you have been trying to protect me from the violence of battle by leaving me here to do housework while the others were being trained for battle...." there she paused for just a moment.
" Will you teach me how to fight !? I cannot rest in peace knowing that I may be captured and repeatedly abused by these Opplandene animals. I would rather die than face such a fate ! " she blurted out.
" So ! I will ask you once again to teach me how to fight with this sword ? " she asked as she showed him her sword.
Borr's eyebrows raised, and a shocked look came over him as he replied.
" Right now ! ? " Borr asked in an incredulous voice.
Ingiborg, who had been roused by the conversation, elbowed her husband in the side. When he turned to question why she had struck him Borr was met with an evil look. Knowing the answer, Borr took a deep breath, and turned back to Geirdis.
" I promise that I will give you lessons in the art of warfare, ...... beginning in the morning,.... when the sun has risen in the sky. " he told her.
Geirdis smiled, and then kissed Borr on the cheek.
" Thank you ! " she exclaimed happily before retreating back to her bed.
Before returning to sleep Borr turned to Ingiborg, and whispered :
" Did you ever see anyone so eager to die ? " he asked.
Ingiborg hugged her husband tightly.
" As a man you do not understand her reasoning, but as a woman I know how she feels and what she fears. It is what all women fear most ! " she told her husband.
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : Eager To Learn
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.