The Yule War
( The Greatest Gift )
Eager To Learn
Borr woke up early the next morning, as do most warriors of his caliber, and lay there for a moment collecting his thoughts. He then turned and kissed his wife on the cheek. As she often did at this hour, Ingiborg rolled over into a fetal position and wrapped the blanket tightly around her, which indicated to Borr that she was not yet ready to leave the warmth of their bed. Borr, with a final stretch, threw his legs over the edge of the bed and rubbed his eyes to clear away the fog of sleep. As his feet struck the cold floor he noticed that Geirdis was not lying in her bed.
Borr nudged his wife.
" Get up my dear and make breakfast. It appears that Geirdis wishes to start her first lesson bright and early. " he told his half - asleep wife.
Ingiborg smacked her lips, and sighed deeply, before throwing off her covers.
" I will make breakfast after you give both Geirdis and myself a lesson on how to defend ourselves. " she told her husband out of spite for waking her so early.
Borr shook his head before allowing it to sink down upon his neck in disgust.
" Yes ! My dear ! " he replied sarcastically.
Geirdis had not slept well, and decided to get up early and wait outside in the cold raw air to wait for Borr to awaken and join her . After what she deemed as a long period of time she sat down on the log bench that sat outside their home. As the door flew open she jumped up and felt relieved to start her training. But when the one armed warrior emerged from the hut he walked past her and barely acknowledged her presence. When he was almost out of sight he called back to her.
" I will return in a moment ! " he told her in a sharp tone.
Geirdis did not quite know what to make of his angry demeanor, so she sat back down on the long log and waited for him to return.
Borr stomped over to the blacksmith's shop, and pounded on the closed door to his shop. Although it was quite early the old warrior knew that Vestarr would already be in his shop. Within a few short moments Borr heard the metal latch being pulled back, and with that the door slowly creaked open.
" Borr ?! What can I do for you my old friend ? " Vestarr asked.
Borr tried not to direct his anger, over missing breakfast, towards the blacksmith, but it showed despite his best efforts.
" Morning Vestarr ! " he blurted out tersely.
" I need two of your smaller shields for a couple of maidens I am about to teach the art of combat. " he then added impatiently.
" You sound as though you are a reluctant instructor . " the bemused blacksmith noted.
Borr gave his old friend a bitter look.
" These women need to be trained in the skills of fighting,.... but my wife will not make me breakfast until I give them their first lesson. " he replied with a hint of disgust.
Vestarr chuckled again.
" Women can be demanding like that ! " Vestarr told him.
Realizing that Borr was in no mood for idle chatter Vestarr walked over to the far wall and removed two brightly colored shields. Without further conversation the blacksmith handed the injured warrior one of the shields to inspect. Borr placed his hand through the strap and began to make a series of blocking motions, and offensive moves with the shield.
" Yes ! Yes ! These will do just fine ! " he told Vestarr as he lowered the shield in front of the blacksmith.
At first Vestarr was unsure what his friend wanted. Then it struck him. Borr could not grab the other shield with only one hand and the old warrior wanted him to place the second shield on top of the first. As Vestarr carefully set the new one on the other he asked in a confidential voice:
" Do you think we have any chance of holding off the Upplanders ? "
Borr shook his head slowly from side to side.
" We have the same chance as a snowball does of surviving in Muspellheim ! " he told the blacksmith in no uncertain terms.
When he returned home Borr found that Ingiborg had joined Geirdis on the log bench. The two were engaged in polite conversation when he stopped in front of them and interrupted their gossip by shoving the shields in their faces.
" Take one and draw your swords ! " he commanded.
Geirdis quietly took a shield, but Ingiborg was not about to let her husband's rude behavior go without a comment.
" Forgive my husband for his rudeness, he can be a little grouchy before he has had his breakfast. " she told her friend.
Before Geirdis could reply Borr reminded them that this was serious business, and that they were soon to engage in battle with the Upplanders. Then with a hint of anger in his voice he added :
" King Nagli, and our commander,.... your husband Geirdis, understood the brutality of war. War is rude ! War is vicious ! And war in many cases is the end of a warrior's life ! "
Geirdis should have been offended by his words, but instead she drew her sword and pointed it at Borr's chest.
" I am ready ! " she said boldly.
Ingiborg also drew her sword, but she did so in a flamboyant manner that hinted of comedy.
" As am I ! " she shouted theatrically.
The two women quickly realized that learning to be skilled warriors was a long and arduous process, and not something they could learn in a few days. Unfortunately, time was not on their side. They knew that if the Upplanders were going to attack it would be in days and not weeks.
Borr did not bother to teach Geirdis and Ingiborg anything that was too complex or beyond their capabilities. He showed his students how to block a sword thrust with their shield, how to counter attack with their swords, and how to use their shields as a secondary weapon.
" The edge of a shield can do almost as much damage to a man's head as an axe, .... if it is wielded correctly ! " he told his students with a knowing nod.
His wife was a poor student, and he quickly came to the sad conclusion that she would be killed in the first moments of battle. Geirdis, however, proved to be a quick learner. Although she was weaker than his wife she picked up what he was teaching her much more quickly, and was able to mimic his moves quite effectively. In one instance too well ! While countering his sword thrust she retaliated by spinning around and hitting him in the head with the boss of her shield, opening up a wound which bled profusely.
Shocked, Ingiborg decided that they should take a break. She quickly set down her shield and placed her sword back in it's scabbard. Using a handkerchief she applied pressure to her husband's wound to stop the bleeding. As she did Ingiborg whispered in his ear.
" I think it is time for me to make your breakfast. " she said in an apologetic tone.
Borr turned his head and gave his wife an evil look before replying.
" Yes ! That would be nice ! " he told her sarcastically.
Once back in the house the two women bandaged their teacher before making him a large and rather delicious breakfast. When they were finished eating Borr did not allow the women to rest. He had both of them out in front of his home for more practice. This time, however, he allowed Geirdis and his wife to spar using only wooden practice swords while he stood out of their way. Although both women were trying very hard to improve Borr could plainly see that neither would be able to stand up to the Upplanders.
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : The Mist
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.