King Of Destiny
Heir To The Throne
As they entered the packed great hall Thorvald noticed something rather peculiar up on the raised platform where the royal high seats were placed. For today's court there had been placed a fifth chair on the platform. Thorvald greeted his father, while Princess Astrid was consoled by Queen Gudrun over the loss of her dear father King Runolf. Magnus stood in the back of the hall with Herjan and Onund unsure of his place. The young man never felt comfortable at his grandfather's court. When Thorvald asked his father why there was a fifth seat up on the platform, instead of the usual four, King Olaf answered : " It was requested by Queen Grima, my son. She has every right to sit with us here in my hall . " After a few moments a servant came over, and after bowing, whispered into King Olaf' s ear : " Queen Grima has arrived, my lord ! " King Olaf thanked the servant, and then motioned for everyone to take their places. King Olaf and Queen Gudrun sat in the middle seats, while Prince Thorvald sat next to his father, and Princess Astrid sat next to her mother - in - law. The seat next to Princess Astrid was left empty for her mother Queen Grima of Romerike. When everyone was in place, a drummer banged out a simple marching beat, marking the entrance of a foreign dignitary to the court. Queen Grima slowly walked up the center aisle, occasionally nodding to an acquaintance as she passed. When the Romerike Queen reached the high seats she bowed, and the drumming stopped.
" Welcome Grima, Queen of the lands of Romerike, and good friend of Hedemark, and the Northland Kingdom. All of us here in the Northlands mourn the loss of your husband, King Runolf, our faithful ally, and our very good friend. My people offer you our most heartfelt condolences I assure you ! " Olaf told the queen . " I Queen Grima of Romerike am very grateful to the royal family of Hedemark, and the Northlands, and to the wonderful people of your kingdom for their sympathy and well wishes. " She told the king. " Per your request we have added a fifth high seat in your honor Queen Grima. " Olaf told her pointing to the high seat. Please take your honored seat among us. " he added. " Thank You, King Olaf, but I did not request the high seat for myself . I would like my grandson Magnus to sit among you here today . My reason for this request is that I am as of this moment relinquishing my claim to the throne of Romerike, and I am asking that you add Romerike to the Kingdom of Northland and make it a Jarldom, under your overall rule. I further ask that your son, Prince Thorvald, be made Jarl over my people, and that his son, my grandson, be next in line to rule over Romerike. " she told the royal family. " And why do you wish to abdicate your right to rule over Romerike ? " King Olaf asked her in a confused tone. " Queen Grima lowered her head as she spoke : " I am old and frail, and without a male heir to the throne. " she began. " And .....because there is an evil wind blowing in from the west my old friend ! The other day a man calling himself Bishop Brand came to my hall accompanied by warriors from Hordaland, and told me that we, the people of Romerike, had damned our souls by worshiping the idols of false Gods. This bishop demanded that we cleanse our souls by being baptized, and converting to their Christian God, and his Christ son. I, of course, threw them out of my hall, but as they were leaving the bishop shouted that the people of Romerike would be " cleansed " one way or another ! " she told King Olaf. " As we speak these "missionaries", as they are called, are traveling through our lands like a disease spreading amongst the healthy ! I am not a warrior my old friend, and these times require a strong warrior king ! " she warned him as she drew her sword. Queen Grima walked up the steps of the platform, and symbolically handed King Olaf her sword, which represented the people and the Kingdom of Romerike. " I know that you will treat my people with the honor and respect that they deserve. " she said as she humbly bowed and stepped off of the platform.
King Olaf was stunned ! He took the sword, and stared at it for a moment before reacting. Then slowly he lifted the sword over his head to show the entire court that he was now the King of Hedemark, the Northlands, and now Romerike as well. King Olaf lowered the sword, and walked over to his son Thorvald, and handed the sword to him. " Prince Thorvald do you swear that with the title of Jarl of Romerike, you will defend and honor the people of the Jarldom of Romerike ! ? " he asked in a commanding voice that echoed throughout the hall. " Yes ! I swear on this sacred sword an oath to the good people of Romerike to defend and honor them this day forward ! " he told his father proudly as he looked into his mother- in- law's eyes. Thorvald motioned for Magnus to come up onto the royal platform. The prince handed Magnus the sword, which the young man took from his father. " Do you swear Prince Magnus of Hedemark, and the Kingdom of Northland, to defend and honor the people of Romerike, and if I should die take my place as Jarl of Romerike !? " Thorvald asked mimicking his father's booming voice. " I do father ! I swear I will kill anyone who wishes them harm ! " the young prince answered boldly. " Then sit with us Prince Magnus, and let us make a plan to rid our lands of these Christian missionaries ! " King Olaf told his grandson.
Queen Grima bowed to the royal council. " I am relieved that you will take my husband's place in defending our people and our ancient homeland King Olaf. I thank you from the bottom of my heart ! I am certain that you will treat my people as well as you have treated the other Jarldoms that you have peacefully incorporated into your Kingdom of Northland over the years. For alone we are weak, but together we are unconquerable ! " she told them gratefully. King Olaf nodded to the Queen of Romerike, and then thought for a moment. " Prince Thorvald ! You will take half of our Hedemark army, and your own personal guards, and go at once to Romerike. Once there add your forces to the Romerike army, and hunt down these missionaries ! Escort them out of that Jarldom peacefully if you can, but if they refuse to leave kill them, and their armed escorts ! " Olaf commanded his son. "Yes, father ! Your royal decree will be carried out immediately ! " Thorvald replied. As Prince Thorvald got up to leave King Olaf grabbed his son by the arm and pulled him close. " Take Magnus with you my son. He needs to learn what it truly means to be a warrior, and a prince who is second in line to my throne. " he whispered in his son' s ear. Then Olaf squeezed his son's arm tighter. " You will soon be king my son for I have not long to live in this world ! " he told him. Thorvald looked deeply into his father's eyes for a long moment before answering. " I understand father ! I will teach Magnus the way you taught me. I promise to make you proud father ! " he replied. As Jarl Thorvald left the great hall followed by Princess Astrid, and their son Magnus, he turned and took one last look back at his mother and father, and wondered if this would be the last time he would ever see them again.
Jarl Thorvald sent Onund back to his hall at the Romerike border to bring his personal guards to Hedemark. Then Thorvald took Herjan for a short walk to talk over some matters with him. When they were far enough away from the others the Jarl turned and looked Herjan right in his good eye. " I want you to be so close to my son in battle that the enemy will think you are his shadow ! You must protect Magnus in battle at all costs !" he told him. " Do you understand me Herjan ? " he asked the old warrior as he placed a hand on his shoulder . " Herjan nodded. " He will never be harmed as long as I am by his side. I assure you of that Prince ... I mean... Jarl Thorvald ." he replied. " Thank you, my old friend ! " Thorvald told him as they started to walk back.
Magnus had never been in battle before, and no matter how strong, or confident the warrior, it was almost impossible to say how the individual would react when faced with the kill, or be killed situation. It was not always the skinny warrior who was shaking before the battle began who ran away, or forgot all he had learned, it sometimes was the strong confident warrior who lost his nerve. Jarl Thorvald wanted Herjan to protect his son in case Magnus hesitated even for a moment in battle. For in that instance lay the difference between life and death for a warrior. Thorvald had watched how the old teacher, and his young son got along, and he knew that the old warrior would gladly give his life to save his student.
Queen Grima had already spoken to the local chieftains, who made up the Romerike army, about the merger of the two kingdoms before she had left for Hedemark. But she rode back with Jarl Thorvald to make sure that there were no problems, or misunderstandings, and that the transfer of power went smoothly. All of the local chieftains she had spoken to agreed that the Christian Kingdoms along the coast were becoming stronger, and more dangerous with every year that passed, and that only a united Pagan Northland Kingdom could hope to fend off the war that most believed was sure to come. Jarl Thorvald, as he took over the Romerike army, met with each of the local chieftains as he made his way down through Romerike to King Runolf's great hall. He made sure that Prince Magnus was at his side at every meeting to introduce his heir to the chieftains. They all agreed to gather up their warriors and join their new commander as soon as possible. Several chieftains who were better prepared were waiting for the Jarl, and fell in behind the army with their warriors. By the time the combined army arrived at the late king's hall it had grown into a formidable force.
The first thing the Jarl changed when he came into the hall was to add a third, and a fourth, high seat. Queen Grima protested, but Thorvald and Astrid would not have it any other way. " As long as you live mother, you will sit before your people as Queen of Romerike. Although Thorvald did this out of respect for his wife' s mother, the unselfish act had a very positive effect on the people of Romerike. Any time a subject came before the court with a complaint or a need, they would be politely brought before the Queen of Romerike who would decide on their request. Even the few folk of Romerike, who did not like the integration of Romerike into the Kingdom of the Northlands, respected the new Jarl for the way he treated their queen, and in turn the people of Romerike. Soon Jarl Thorvald was spoken of very highly throughout the new Jarldom.
As promised Thorvald sent his now combined army throughout Romerike, and forced the Christian missionaries to leave. A few of the priests, who felt emboldened by the warriors that had escorted them from the coastal kingdoms, refused to leave until they had baptized, and converted all of the unclean Heathens in the Northlands. These brave, but foolish men of the cloth were killed along with all of their warrior escorts. Jarl Thorvald was especially proud of Magnus when he heard from the old warrior Herjan of his son's ferocity in battle. Thorvald even decided to lead one of the last raids against these Christians to see first hand how well his son fought. He was amazed at how well skilled he was in all facets of combat, but was most proud of the fact that his son always lead his men into battle from the front. With Herjan at his side of course ! As Thorvald walked the field, after the battle had ended, he picked up one of the enemy's shields. It was round like all Viking shields in the Northlands, but instead of a colorful design it had a cross painted on it. As he studied the Christian symbol a rider rode at full gallop across the field, and stopped in front of him. The messenger slid off of his mount like water flowing over a falls, and handed his horse to a warrior to hold. He quickly walked over to Jarl Thorvald, and knelt down before him. " My lord, you are commanded by Queen Gudrun to return to Hedemark at once ! " he blurted out. Then in a quieter tone the messenger said : " My lord, your father has died . You are now King of the Northlands ! " Thorvald lowered his head, and threw the Christian shield as far as he could. It hit a few yards away from where Herjan and Magnus were standing, and then bounced and landed at the old warriors feet. Herjan smiled when he noticed that the Christian shield had landed with the cross facing down.
- End Chapter 2
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next Chapter 3 : The Christian Alliance