The Yule War
( The Greatest Gift )
A Ghost In The Mist
Borr heard the dull thud of a sword as it hit a wooden shield, and was left speechless by his fear. When he finally found his voice he screamed as loud as he could !
" Hold your positions ! DON'T MOVE !! "
Then, much like a blind man searching for a sound in the silence, he waited for what would happen next. What he heard come out of the thick mist almost made him shout for joy :
" Is my wife so upset with my leaving that she wishes to do me harm ? " Borr heard a familiar voice say.
Borr immediately began to shout up and down his shield wall line.
" Stand down ! Stand down !! STAND DOWN !!! "
Almost in tears he finally added :
" It is our Hedemark army !! "
Knutr picked up his wife, who had gone limp with shock, and jumped over the narrow pit. Geirdis, still holding the sword her husband had given her, held on tightly as she stared at her husband's face as though he were a ghost.
" I was told you were dead . " she managed as tears of joy began to stream down her face.
" And who told you such a lie ? " Knutr asked with a frown.
Ingiborg, who had also begun to tear up, answered for her friend.
" A man named Jafnharr told us that King Nagli was killed by the Upplanders, and that his entire army had been wiped out in a narrow valley. We assumed that you, and your army, were destroyed as well. " she told Knutr.
An angry look came over Knutr's face.
" I will speak to that coward later !! " he replied.
Borr grimaced a little before speaking up.
" I am afraid that I killed him. I saw that he was a coward, but I did not think to question what he was telling us. " he explained to Knutr.
Knutr set his wife's feet back down onto the snowy ground, and slapped his hand onto Borr's shoulder.
" It is of no consequence my old friend ! A coward and a liar has no place here in the Hedemark kingdom. " he told the old warrior.
Borr, who had been holding his sword at the ready all this time, placed it back in it's scabbard. As the sun's rays began to burn off the mist, he watched as one by one the Hedemark warriors leaped across the narrow ditch and were reunited with their loved ones. Ingiborg, feeling the beauty of the moment, walked over to her husband and placed her arms around his waist. Borr put his one arm around his wife's shoulder, kissed her gently, and then broke the moment by asking Knutr the question that begged to be asked :
" Then, .... what really did happen ? " he asked the commander.
Despite his wife hanging on to him as though he were a piece of driftwood that she was clinging onto to prevent her from drowning, Knutr was able to turn and answer his old friend.
" King Nagli became impatient. He should have awaited our arrival, ..... but instead he decided to push through what he thought was an unoccupied valley alone. Halfway into the narrow valley the Upplanders streamed out of the surrounding mountains and attacked. Ambushed from both the left and right, by an enemy who had waited in hidden positions, he and his warriors never had a chance. The few survivors I spoke with afterwards told me that they tried to form a shield wall, but there simply wasn't time to consolidate their ranks. " Knutr told Borr.
Borr frowned and shrugged his shoulders slightly as if confused by what the commander had told him.
" Then how did you defeat the Upplanders with just one half of our army ? " he asked.
" These Upplanders have no military sense. They had no rear guard in place, and most of their warriors, who were not actively battling our men, had set down their weapons and were rummaging through the clothing of our warriors to see what they could take off of their corpses. When we came streaming down the valley from the north unexpectedly they were caught completely off guard. We cut through them like a farmer harvesting his wheat field with a sharp scythe. The only resistance we met were the more disciplined Royal Guard that surrounded King Ottar of Opplandene. They, however, were no match for my entire army ! " he explained to Borr.
Borr gave the commander an approving nod.
" And King Ottar ? " he asked.
Knutr gave the old warrior a weak grin.
" Dead with the rest of his warriors ! " he replied.
Then Knutr added with a deep sigh :
" If only King Nagli had waited for us to reach the northern end of the valley..... " he told his old friend with a shake of his head.
Borr finished the sentence for his commander :
" Then you would have caught King Ottar's army in a vise and destroyed them without too many losses. " he said with a hint of sadness.
Knutr nodded in agreement before turning to Ingiborg.
" Ingiborg, will you please take Geirdis back home and stay with her while I get the army settled in. " he asked politely, but firmly.
" Yes, of course ! " she replied before releasing her husband and putting her arm around Geirdis.
In a whisper Ingiborg spoke to a stunned Geirdis as she led her friend back to her hut.
" Your husband has come home. His return may have been a shock, but you must not act this way. When we get back to your home I will help you to clean up and to prepare a hearty meal for Knutr. " she told her long time friend who remained silent.
As the women left Borr had one more question for Knutr.
" An old villager named Omundi rode here yesterday and told us that a band of Upplanders had ridden through his village, and that those who could were fleeing south. Who were these Upplanders he spoke of ? " Borr asked.
Knutr's face became distorted with anger.
" They were Opplandene warriors who had escaped the valley and fled south seeking to avoid being captured or killed by my army. These cowards ran like frightened mice into our kingdom raiding villages as they went. We finally caught up with them a few miles from here, and made every one of them pay for their cowardly actions ! " the commander explained.
Borr nodded his approval, and then patted Knutr on the shoulder.
" Then you have returned to us as a hero who has achieved many great deeds ! " Borr told his friend with great pride.
Knutr, however, turned to the north and looked into the lifting mist.
" No, my old friend ! King Nagli, and every warrior who fell in battle, deserve that honor ! I simply did my duty to my king, my country, and my people ! " he told Borr before walking off to see to his men.
End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Summoned By The Queen
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.