King Blot - Sweyn :
The Last Royal Sacrificer
King Inge's Return
" Do not drink too much my friend ! For I wish you to return to Uppsala at once and deliver a message from me to Anund. " he told the messenger sternly.
Thorvid nodded as he took a short sip of mead.
" And what is that message my Lord ? " he asked.
King Inge narrowed his eyes angrily as he answered the messenger.
" Tell Anund...... I am coming ! " he told Thorvid through gritted teeth.
Queen Helena had been sitting on one side of the hall by herself quietly listening to what was being said. When she heard Inge' s message to Anund she broke her silence.
" Then my husband has decided ? " she asked.
King Inge glanced over at his wife with a bitter look upon his face.
" Your brother has decided the matter for me ! " he told her angrily.
The next morning King Inge kissed his wife and children goodbye, mounted his horse, and with his personal guards beside him, rode from village to village gathering up as many Christian warriors as he could muster to join him in his return to Uppsala. Many were more than ready to right the wrongs that were committed three years earlier, and the few who were reluctant changed their minds when they heard what had happened to Bishop Eskil at Uppsala.
As the king rode eastward through Smaland, and into Ostergotland, he looked around at the small band of warriors who rode with him, and he wondered if the army he had raised would be enough. Inge continued to gather men as he went, but he could not wait for them, for he knew that if Steinkell returned before he arrived he would have no chance against King Blot - Sweyn's entire army.
King Inge did stop occasionally along the way when he saw the local farmers, or villagers, practicing the old Heathen customs and rituals. The king threatened each and every one of them demanding that they convert ......
" Or the next time I pass this way I will have you tortured and killed ! " he told them angrily before moving on.
At the border between Vastmanland and Uppland King Inge crossed over a small stone bridge that had been built over a wide stream. On the far side he stopped and dismounted in front of a large runestone. His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed as he read the inscription out loud :
" Sigthorn has raised this stone and the bridge, made in memory of Adjarfar, his son, and in memory of Mey his daughter, and Eithorn, Sweyn, and Vigthorn ! " he shouted to his men, his voice reflecting more and more anger with each word.
While King Inge was reading the inscription he was unaware that he and his warriors were being watched. Thjof, a local chieftain, who was out hunting alone, spotted King Inge and his small army as they stopped beside the bridge. Thjof, a faithful Heathen, ran immediately to his horse, and rode off at full speed to Uppsala to warn King Blot - Sweyn of the coming danger !
King Inge kicked the stone, then mounted his horse, and motioned for his warriors to continue. As they moved away from the bridge. and the commemorative runestone, King Inge turned to his second in command, a large warrior named Halsten, and began to laugh.
" His name may be chiseled in stone at the moment, but I will soon erase his name from history ! " he told his commander confidently.
The Christians rode throughout the day, stopping only occasionally to harass the Uppland Heathens. As the sun fell behind the distant horizon, and darkness began to descend upon the land, King Inge found himself a short distance from the temple at Uppsala. It was too dark to mount an attack, but because Inge felt that they had not been detected, he ordered his men to make an encampment on a small rise that was the highest point in the area. After posting guards at every point on the small hill, the king and his men bedded down for the night. Tomorrow they would attack the Heathens and destroy their temple !
As the sun rose up over the hill, and once again lit the northern lands, King Inge was shaken out of his sleep by his commander Halsten.
" My Lord ! You must come at once ! There has been a development overnight ! " he told his king as he shook him awake.
King Inge felt especially groggy that morning as he followed Halsten to the edge of the hill. He had not slept well the night before, and the long ride from Vastergotland had taken a toll on his body as well. One quick look down in the direction of the temple, however, shocked the king back into the urgency of the moment, and with his adrenaline quickly rising he began to bark out orders to his warriors as he rushed back to his tent to put on his mail, and helmet.
Halsten lingered at the edge of the hill for a moment, and took one last look over at the temple. There, in a long line below the commander, stood the Heathen army forming up in battle lines, and readying itself to attack !
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : The Final Battle
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.