The Jotuns Are Coming !
From one of the furthest outpost towers Thorvald watched the landscape change shape as the Goddess Sunna slowly rode her cart over the horizon. It had been a long night, and he had been impatiently waiting for the Great Goddess of light to arrive to warm him after a cold watch of guard duty. Sunna's appearance also meant that he would soon be relieved, and could return home for a well deserved sleep.
As he watched the red - yellow orb come up over the tree tops of the forest evergreens he yawned from his weariness. Thorvald shook his head when he felt his eyes closing to sleep. He tried to overcome his exhaustion by enjoying the beautifully lit landscape below. A mist had begun to rise up off of the evergreens as the heat of the day began to envelope the earth. He marveled at how wonderful the dark green pine trees looked against the white veil that was slowly covering them.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, one of the large evergreens in the distance moved ! Then, as he watched closely, one after another of the pine tree tops began to sway. Thorvald could barely force himself to look down, but as he slowly lowered his gaze he saw what he feared most. The Jotuns had finally come to Tofte, and they looked to be a very angry lot !
After raising a red flag to alert the other watchmen Thorvald quickly ran over to the edge of the tower and jumped onto the ladder. Thorvald did not use the steps, but instead placed his hands and feet on the rails of the ladder which allowed him to slide down much more rapidly. As he reached the bottom of the ladder he could feel the heat rising up through his gloves from the constant friction. The tired watchman stumbled as his feet hit the ground hard, and it took a moment for Thorvald to regain his balance. When he was firmly back in control he raced over to where his horse was waiting, and with unsteady hands untied the rope that had kept it from running away. With a hop he place his foot into the stirrup and then arched his other leg over the saddle. Using the reins to whip the horse, and his feet to kick his mount, Thorvald was able to make his horse jump into a fast gallop as he headed back to the village.
As he reached the edge of the village Thorvald began to shout :
" The Jotuns have reached the furthest outposts ! The Jotuns are coming !! " he screamed for all to hear.
Thorvald pulled hard on the reins, and stopped his horse in front of the Chieftain's great hall. He quickly dismounted and ran up to the doors as fast as his legs would take him. As he reached out with his hands to open the doors he pushed his shoulder against the door and shoved it at the same time with all his might.
Sigvaldi was startled when the doors to the hall flew open.
" What is it ? ! " he shouted as Thorvald ran towards him.
Thorvald bent over when he reached his chieftain, and with his hands on his knees tried to catch his breath.
" The Jotuns have reached the furthest outposts, and if we do not hurry they will bypass our first line of defense before we can man them ! " he managed between breaths.
Sigvaldi wasted no time ! He sent messengers to alert every warrior and shield maiden in the village. Many, having already heard Thorvald's warnings as he rode through the village, arrived by the time the messengers left to spread the news. Within a very short time fifty warriors, and shield maidens, were mounted and ready to ride to the Far Slopes, where the first line of defense against the invading Jotuns awaited them.
As they passed the inner ring of towers they were cheered by the warriors still on duty there. Sigvaldi quickly waved to the watchmen and then urged his warriors on. They simply had to reach the far slopes before the Jotuns ascended there from the valley below, or they would lose their first chance to attack the Jotun horde.
Sigvaldi was the first to crest the Far Slopes. As he peered down into the The Far Valley he was greatly relieved to see that the Giants below him had only reached the mid point of the valley. They would have enough time to man the defenses after all !
As his warriors and shield maidens dismounted from their horses they were broken up into three groups. Arngeir was in charge of the left. His warriors would be rolling boulders down on the Jotuns. Eindridi commanded the center where the rolls of hay would be lit by Geirny's shield maidens, and rolled down the hill by his warriors. Gudmund held down the right of the line. He, like Arngeir on his left, was responsible for rolling boulders down upon these Giant beings as they climbed The Far Slopes from the valley below.
In the middle, Geirny, after receiving the command to do so from Sigvaldi, had her shield maidens pour whale oil over the rolls of hay. When the hay was thoroughly soaked the warrior maidens stepped back, lit their torches, and stood at the ready. All of the women nervously watched Sigvaldi for the signal to light the bales. Behind them Eindridi's men waited with long poles to start the hay in motion down the hill.
On the left and right, Arngeir and Gudmund had three, and sometimes four warriors in place, depending on the size and weight of the boulder, to leverage these great rocks with their wooden pry bars into motion. When all was ready the four leaders stood looking back and forth between the valley to the crest of the hill where their Chieftain Sigvaldi stood like a stone statue.
In the event that their outer defenses failed to stop the Jotuns, Sigvaldi had several of his warriors act as horse holders behind the main line on the crest. If the Giants broke through, and crested the hill, they would quickly mount their horses and ride back as fast as they could to man the inner defenses.
For now, however, all they could do was watch and wait as the Jotuns slowly made their way towards them. The tension was so thick you could almost feel it in the air. A few of the warriors and shield maidens trembled at the sight of these Giant beings, but they all took strength from their Chieftain Sigvaldi, who stood there unafraid, and as solid as the boulders they were about to roll down upon the Jotuns.
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : The Jotun Horde !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.