King Blot - Sweyn :
The Last Royal Sacrificer
An Angry Assembly !
As King Inge presided over the Law Assembly from his high- seat he made for quite an imposing figure. The king was a large and sturdy man, who projected a great air of dignity for his age. Among his Christian subjects he was seen as a most handsome man, who was very courageous and well spoken. The Heathens, who were the majority in attendance at the Thing Of All Swedes, viewed him as a grotesque figure who had dishonored his ancestors with both his words and his deeds.
On one side, and a little behind King Inge, sat his brother-in-law Sweyn, while Markus Skeggjason, the king's skald, stood on the other taking in everything of note so he could remind the king later of business that had not yet been concluded. One by one the Swedes stood before their king to state their grievances. The first was a farmer named Hakon, who was having a dispute with his neighbor Egil over the exact boundaries of their two lands. The king listened intently to what the man had to say, but because Egil was not in attendance at the Law Assembly, Inge could not rule on the matter. Instead he had his court poet, and keeper of records, make a mental note to send a representative of the court to Halsingland to look into the matter further.
Sweyn sat in his seat fidgeting throughout the proceedings. He had little or no interest in disputes between farmers. It was also not his place to comment on what he heard, which made the Law Assembly rather boring for him . Sweyn was, however, very curious to see what would happen when the first of the many Heathens stepped forward to question his policies concerning the old religion. King Inge's brother - in - law did not have to wait long !
Ottar was a very old and respected man in the community, and he had been a local chieftain in Uppland for many years. His family had been prominent in the affairs of the district for several generations, and had always honored their ancestors, and the old Gods, through rituals and sacrifices. The old chieftain did not understand this new religion called Christianity, which had started in a place called Israel that had never been heard of here in the Northlands. But most of all he did not know why the king of the Swedes would dishonor his ancestors, and those of many of his fellow villagers, by refusing to perform the annual sacrifice at this years Disablot.
Ottar was not angry as he prepared to speak to the king, and those assembled there. He was simply a free Swede who wanted the king to answer his questions, and address his concerns. The old chieftain nodded respectfully to King Inge before he began to speak.
" My name is Ottar, and I have come to this great assembly of the Thing Of All Swedes a bewildered old man, who has been asked to speak on behalf of his folk. " he told to all those in attendance. He then paused for a moment.
" I stand here before the King of the Swedes and wish to respectfully know why he will not do as his people ask, and perform the blots at the temple here at Uppsala ? " Ottar asked King Inge.
King Inge narrowed his eyes and gave the revered old chieftain a glaring look of disdain before replying.
" I am a Christian soul from head to toe old man ! You Heathen wizards, who honor your false idols, must stop these evil sacrificial rites, and convert to the true faith of the father, the son, and the holy ghost ! " he told the old man emphatically.
" And that is why I have banned all such religious practices here in Sweden ! " the king added smugly.
The old chieftain raised his head, and with piercing eyes stared long and hard at King Inge's face.
" Then I am to understand that you will not allow our people to follow the old ways of our ancestors ? " Ottar asked remaining calm.
King Inge pounded the arm of his chair, rose up off of his high-seat, and pointed his finger menacingly at the old chieftain.
" Who are you to question the authority of the King of Sweden !? " Inge shouted at the little insolent man who stood below him.
Suddenly, a great majority of the Swedes at the Law Assembly gathered around Ottar to protect him, and encourage the old orator from having to back down. As they crowded around him Ottar pointed a shaky finger back at the king.
" You have asked the wrong question King Inge. It is not " who am I ", you should be asking, but instead, who are we who are questioning your authority ? And the answer to that inquiry is that we are the angry subjects of a king who has dishonored our ancestors, and our sacred Gods ! " Ottar told the king in a firmer voice.
King Inge drew his sword and demanded that the chieftain be removed from his sight at once ! The king' s warriors quickly moved forward to carry out the king' s orders, and it seemed to all in the room that a war would begin right there in the great hall !
Sweyn clearly saw that the king's men were greatly outnumbered by an angry mob bent on violence, and jumped up out of his seat. The king's brother-in-law placed himself between the king and the old chieftain.
" Brother ! " Sweyn whispered loudly to King Inge. " This situation will quickly get out of hand if you do not sheath your sword, and call off your warriors ! " he told the king in no uncertain terms.
King Inge looked around the great hall at all the angry faces and decided that Sweyn was right. This was not the time, nor was this the place, for such a confrontation.
" What you have said here today is duly noted Ottar of Uppland. You may now leave, for your business with this assembly is now at an end ! " he told the old chieftain angrily.
Ottar, however, stood firmly in front of the king in a show of defiance, and refused to go anywhere.
" If you will not permit our people to follow the old ways of our ancestors, then you have lost the confidence of your subjects and should therefore abdicate the throne ! " he shouted at the king while wagging his finger at him.
Despite Sweyn' s words of warning, King Inge was not about to listen to anymore nonsense from this Heathen, and he ordered his warriors to remove the infidel from the great hall at once. The king's men, however, never had a chance to execute his order !
The thought of the old chieftain being forcibly removed from their midst was too much for most of those assembled in the hall to accept. Without any planning, or forewarning, the angry Heathens rushed the raised platform where the king had his high - seat, and attacked the king and his warriors.
King Inge and his royal guards fought valiantly, but were badly outnumbered. It took all of their combined skills, and determination, just to battle their way to the doors of the great hall, and escape the mob . While his warriors protected him behind a shield wall in the courtyard, the king and Markus Skeggjason quickly mounted their horses. As they rode away, however, the Swedes picked up stones and began to pelt the king, and his warriors with them.
Reacting to all the mayhem Sweyn quickly ran outside, forced his way through the Heathens, and threw himself between the king's warriors and Ottar's men.
" Do not kill the king, or his men if it is at all possible ! " he shouted to the angry mob.
The furious Heathens slowly responded to Sweyn, and stopped attacking the Christians after a few moments. Sweyn then turned and addressed the king's royal guards.
" You know who I am, and that my place is by the king' s side. The situation here at Uppsala has gotten completely out of hand, and it is not safe for the king to be here at this time. Mount your horses and escort the king back to Vastergotland where he will be safe ! " he ordered the king's men.
The king's bodyguards stood frozen behind their shield wall for a moment not quite knowing what they should do. The king for whom they had sworn an oath to protect had left, but the mob that had attacked him still lay before them with weapons drawn, and an angry look about them.
Sensing their indecision Sweyn spoke to the king's guards again. " I will stay here and diffuse this difficult crisis, but you must go and protect the king ! " he told them loudly.
Sweyn then turned to the mob and began to push them back in the direction of the great hall as though they were a herd of sheep.
" Let us go back into the hall, and speak calmly together. There is honor between us my friends, for I too am a follower of the old ways, and customs ! " he told them reassuringly.
At first the mob was reluctant to comply with Sweyn's request, but then Ottar stepped forward, and spoke to the crowd.
" Let us all go back into the great assembly hall and hear what this man has to say. I believe that he is honorable in his intentions, and that he may be well worth listening to ! " Ottar told his people. He then turned and was the first to return to the hall.
The old chieftain' s words soothed the crowd, and soon they were all filing back into the great hall. As they did the king' s guards lifted their shields, sheathed their swords, and mounted their horses. They would have to ride fast and hard to catch up with their king, who was fleeing as fast as he could in fear of his life !
- End chapter 2
- Next Chapter 3 : The Sacrifice
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.