The Peaceful Village
In a time long ago, and in a place that history has all but forgotten, there lived a people called the Nostvet. These peaceful humans settled in an area that to most would have seemed a paradise. Nestled in between the mountains and the sea, it was a wonderful place to work the land, fish the ocean, and raise a family. In the northeast a freshwater streamed flowed down to the sea from distant white capped mountains. The villagers in time dammed the stream turning it into a large lake from which they were able to draw water for their cultivated fields.
Off to the west, and visible from a hill not far from their village, that they had named Tofte, a beautiful waterfall cascaded down from a high cliff. In the light of day the mist that surrounded it like a ghost formed a rainbow which the Nostvet people believed was a bridge that led to a heaven that was ruled over by Gods. And just beyond this hill, in what the villagers of Tofte called ' The Far Valley ' were fertile lands where the crops grew tall, and yielded great harvests. The villagers worked together in harmony to bring in the grains, and the produce was shared equally among the villagers. No one had ever known hunger since the Nostvet people had established themselves in this idyllic paradise all those many years ago.
Not far from the village a fjord led out to the great unexplored sea beyond. From the docks they built upon its shore the Nostvet sent out fishing vessels, and great trading ships to distant lands. They traded their surplus food to the Land of the Danes, and to the Land of the Swedes, for cloth, and other wares that they needed.
The Nostvet lived in a time of peace. A chieftain named Gandalfr ruled over the village, but he was chosen for his wisdom, and his fairness, not for his fighting prowess, or his ability to wage war. In a paradise such as Tofte there was little need for violence or a warrior's mentality. Gandalfr was no fool however . He realized that not all people in Midgard were peaceful and honorable. He had heard of the people known as the Huns who mercilessly attacked from the east, and he had gained from this the foresight to maintain a standing army of warriors and shield maidens to protect his village, and his people.
The Chieftain Gandalfr ruled Tofte alone. His wife, Gudrun, had died shortly after giving birth to their daughter Geirny, and he had never remarried. From the time she was born, until the moment she became an adult, Gandalfr trained his daughter to be a leader of shield maidens, and of course his eventual successor .
Geirny, along with a brave warrior named Sigvaldi, now led the village army. Gandalfr, who acted as the overall commander, often told his daughter :
" Even in the greatest time of peace and prosperity one most always be prepared for war ! "
And because of this possibility of war, Geirny was placed in charge of a band of shield maidens, who acted as cavalry, while Sigvaldi was placed at the head of the main army, such as it was.
The army was divided further into divisions. Three women, Sigrid, Asta, and Ingigerd, commanded smaller groups of shield maidens under Geirny's overall command. Sigvaldi, as commander of the army, had six group leaders. Arngeir, Viglund, Gudmund, Steinthor, Eindridi, and Torfi, each had a division within the main army which they commanded.
Working closely to prepare the villagers for battle had brought Geirny and Sigvaldi romantically together as well. What had begun as a rivalry to be the better commander had blossomed into mutual respect and eventually love. The two wished to marry, but Gandalfr was jealous of Sigvaldi's fighting prowess, and his high stature among the other villagers, and he did not approve of the marriage. Geirny and Sigvaldi, however, could not refrain from their passion and met secretly behind their father's back.
Everything seemed perfect in this little piece of heaven here on Midgard until one day when a nomadic reindeer herder told the villagers that a people of giant proportions had invaded the lands to the north. At first few, if any, believed these, " Tall Tales " , as they were jokingly called, about evil Giants, but when traders from the furthest points north, such as Finnmark, began to give vivid accounts of the destruction of property, and the massacres of whole villages of people, they began to take these stories more seriously.
Some in the village of Tofte became terrified after hearing such stories and demanded action, but Gandalfr saw this as a distant problem, and not worthy of their time and effort. His apathy about the Giants was echoed by most of the villagers who refused to accept that these Giants, called Jotuns by some, could ever come to their tiny village by the sea, and cause them any harm.
Sigvaldi was one of the few in the village who felt that complacency would be their undoing. In his mind he began to formulate a plan to defend their village from these " Jotuns". Geirny listened patiently to Sigvaldi's ideas, but she, much like her father, did not believe that these Giants would ever pose a threat to their village, which lay so far to the south of where these attacks were taking place.
Then one day a ship from the Land of the Swedes sailed up the fjord and docked at Tofte. One of the passengers, and old man named Halldor, came into the village and asked for an audience with the chieftain to tell him of " grave matters ". Sigvaldi and Geirny escorted the old seaman into the great hall, and listened as Halldor recounted how these Giants had made their way out of Finnmark, and were now marauding through the northern lands of the North Way, and the lands of the Swedes. He also gave first hand accounts of how these creatures looked.
" They are four times the height of a normal man, and three times the width. These Jotuns have long hair, and bushy eyebrows and beards. And they carry strange weapons made of stone which they use to flatten whole villages, and kill everyone who dares to stand before them. ! " he explained to the Chieftain of Tofte.
Gandalfr thanked the man for taking the time to warn his people, but after the old seaman had left he turned to his daughter and Sigvaldi and laughed.
" An old man with fantastic stories ! " he told them with a shake of his head.
Sigvaldi, however, was becoming very concerned about this new threat, and demanded that he be allowed to send out scouts to explore the northern territories so that they could see for themselves what was " fantastic " and what was the truth.
Gandalfr shook his head in disgust, and thought it a waste of time and effort. Only after Geirny told her father that she also thought it a good idea to send out the scouts did her father reluctantly agree to Sigvaldi's demands. Geirny also was now becoming concerned and no longer agreed with her father. She began to think, as did Sigvaldi, that the whole village needed to prepare itself against an attack from these Jotuns. And she now felt that time was no longer on their side !
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : A Fateful Decision
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.