King Of Destiny
The Northlands United ( Part 2 )
Most drank until the sun rose the next morning, but King Magnus excused himself late that night, and went to his bed chamber. Magnus had called a special session of his court for the next day, and he wanted to be awake and alert when he made some very important announcements about the future of the Northland Kingdom. The young king was not a man who feared much, but he was worried how his jarls, his court, and most of all, how his people would react to his proclamations. As he tried to fall asleep he felt the great weight of his responsibility bearing down on him. Beginning tomorrow he would not only be king of the Northland Kingdom, but also the king of diverse peoples, many of whom came from distant parts of his kingdom, and had different ideas, religions, and cultures. He knew that it was his sacred duty to form them all into one nation. He had proved on the battlefields that he was strong enough to rule. Now in his court he had to prove that he was wise enough to govern !
By noon everyone had arrived back at the great hall for the first official court held by the new King of the united Northland Kingdom. At the head of the first table sat Jarl Eirik, Jarl Bjorn, Jarl Thorkel, Jarl Thord, and old Jarl Thorstein who did not participate in the great war because of his advanced age. Onund, Herjan, and Vagn sat at the back of the first table. The second table was reserved for the local chieftains from throughout the Northland Kingdom, who had come to hear what the new king had to say. In front of them all, and on a raised platform, sat the unusual arrangement of three queens, and a king on their high seats. King Magnus and Queen Astrid sat in the front, and on either side, and slightly further back, sat Queen Grima and Queen Gudrun. Though they no longer had any true power, they were part of the royal family, and held higher rank than the Jarls and the chieftains. By allowing his grandmothers, and his mother, to sit with him, he made this point very clear.
As the court was called to order, Jarl Bjorn stood and motioned for one of his warriors to bring a prisoner forward. Slowly, a man in dirty robes shuffled to the front of the hall, escorted by a huge warrior. With every step he took the chains around his hands and ankles rattled adding to the suspense of his long walk. When he reached the high seat of King Magnus the warrior forced the man to kneel. Jarl Bjorn then spoke up : " King Magnus, queens, fellow jarls, and chieftains of the Northland Kingdom, I present to you ".......... Bjorn paused for effect. ......" The Bishop Callistus ! " A great collective gasp rose up throughout the great hall, followed by laughter, and then shouts of " Kill the holy bastard " rang out ! " Hang him ! " someone shouted. Then another screamed : " No ! crucify the Christian ! "
King Magnus rose up out of his high seat, and raised his hands to quiet down the vocal, and unruly crowd before it became a mob. When order was restored King Magnus spoke : " Rise Bishop Callistus from Rome and face me ! " As Callistus struggled to get up the warrior grabbed him by the back of the neck, and picked him up off of the floor. A great roar of laughter rang out through the hall, which Magnus quickly halted with another signal to his guests. " I am told that you were sent here from Rome, by the Pope himself, to convert us Pagans at any cost. " the king stated. " Is this charge true Bishop Callistus ? " he then asked. The Bishop looked up at King Magnus with tired eyes. " You are an unclean people who worship idols. The only way to save your souls, and clean your spirits, is to baptize your people in the holy waters of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only then can you enter heaven ! " he told the king . " That does not answer my question holy man ! " Magnus shouted back. The bishop took a deep breath, and then answered : " Yes, I was sent her to convert the unclean by any means . " To this shouts of " Kill him ! " rang out again.
Magnus looked around the room, and then motioned with his hands in a sweeping motion. " My people want you to be tortured, and killed bishop ! " the king told him. The hall erupted into chaos once again, as there were calls for the bishop's death. For a third time the king had to quiet his court to allow the bishop to be heard. " I am prepared to die for almighty God , and his son Jesus Christ, King Magnus. " the bishop told the king defiantly. " Yes, I am sure that you would like to become a martyr. I have been told of how Christian martyrs are turned into saints. You, Bishop Callistus, are not to become a martyr or a saint. You will be sent back to your Pope with a message. And that message is a simple one. The Christians from Rome will stay out of the affairs of the Northland Kingdom...... or they will suffer grave consequences ! " Magnus told the bishop with clenched fists. The Bishop made the sign of the cross, but said nothing. King Magnus then ordered the warrior to take him back to Rogaland, and put him on the first ship heading out of the Northland Kingdom. " But first clean him up ! He is smelling up my court ! " the king commanded.
King Magnus took a deep breath before continuing. As he looked around at the stunned faces in his hall he spoke clearly and slowly. " I will not walk the same path as the Christians ! There will be NO forced conversions from, or to, either religion. If some of our folk wish to worship the White Christ, then so be it ! The Northland Kingdom is made up of many different peoples. If it can hold many different cultures within its borders, then it can sustain two religions as well ! " he told the members of the court sternly. " From this day forward the people of the Northland Kingdom are free to worship whichever Gods they choose, and anyone who tries to forcibly convert even one of my people, from that which they now believe, shall be punished severely ! " he proclaimed. Jarl Eirik, one of the very few Christians in the hall, looked up at Magnus, and realized that although he was still very young, he was as wise as Solomon. Then he smiled, "Or even great Odin himself ", he thought.
Magnus then rose and called Onund, and Herjan, to stand before him. " Onund, faithful servant to my mother, and leader of the king's guard. I proclaim that from this day forward you will protect and defend the Jarldom of Rogaland. And from this day forward you will be known as Jarl Onund, and be granted all the respect and privileges that the title implies. I do this to honor you, as you have honored my father, and myself over many years. King Magnus looked over at Herjan before finishing : " Someone once told me that every great deed should be repaid by a great deed ! " Onund was a man who was not easily rattled, and yet he could not think of a thing to say. " I... I ... thank you, my lord ! " was all he muttered. Queen Astrid had tears in her eyes as she watched her old guard being honored. She felt very deeply that Onund had earned his new position, and would be a great jarl to look after Rogaland .
Magnus then turned his attention to Herjan. " Herjan, great warrior, wise teacher, and old friend, I proclaim that from this day onward you will be known as Jarl Herjan, and rule over More ! " the king told him proudly. Herjan lowered his head, and shook it from side to side. " I am sorry my king, and old friend, but I cannot accept such a fine honor. My usefulness here is at an end. Your father, the great King Thorvald, asked me to teach you how to be a great warrior, and a wise king, and you have now achieved both of those goals. I am afraid that I am old now, and the time as has come for me to leave. " Queen Astrid suddenly jumped out of her seat, and spoke up : " Herjan, you cannot just leave ! My son still has much to learn from you ! " The old warrior smiled pleasantly at the queen mother, and nodded out of respect. " I am sorry my queen, but I must go now. You should be very proud ! You and King Thorvald raised a wonderful son. And I assure you that the Gods are very grateful to you ! " Herjan told her. Then the old warrior turned, and slowly walked out of the hall. King Magnus thought for a moment to have his guards detain Herjan, but he had too much love for the old warrior not to respect his wishes. Instead, under his breath, he said : " Goodbye old friend ! " King Magnus then turned to Jarl Thord, and told him that his son Skeggi would be the Jarl of More instead. Finally, Jarl Thorkel's son Olaf was proclaimed Jarl of Sogn. The king then sat and listened to the jarls and local chieftains as they raised questions and concerns about the new Kingdom of Northland.
As Herjan left the great hall he placed the hood of his azure cloak over his head. As he began to walk away he banged his spear Gungnir on the ground nine times, and it slowly turned into a strong walking stick. Odin smiled as he began his journey back to Asgard. The king's destiny had been fulfilled !
- End Chapter 11
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright 2014.
Next : Chapter : 12 ( Epilogue ) Magnus the Great !