The Bastard Son
For Family And Honor
" Yes ! " Alfrekr thought to himself. " The king has chosen a wise place to position his men ! "
As the jarl studied his opponent's fortifications carefully his eyes constantly blinked from the steady drizzle that had been falling since the evening before. Sadly enough this was actually an improvement in the weather from the past several days, which saw pouring rain and high winds hamper his men as they struggled to reach King Palni's position. The rain had caused the hillside to become slick with mud, which the jarl knew would further impede his men as they tried to assault King Palni's army.
If his warriors made it through the thick mud, and past the many arrows that were sure to rain down upon them, they would then have to make it past a stand of sharpened stakes, what appeared to be deep pits just beyond, and finally over a timber wall that had been hastily constructed by Palni's warriors the night before.
Alfrekr was at a loss as to what to do ! To save face, and protect his family's honor, he had to attack King Palni where he was. An attack he was sure would fail and destroy his small army. If he did nothing his men would lose faith in him and possibly begin to abandon him. Jarl Alfrekr was caught inextricably between the forces of revenge and honor, and retreat and the appearance of cowardice. And the choice was his, and his alone !
King Palni had once been someone that Alfrekr had looked up to. When he was a youth his father, Siggeir, had fought in Palni's army and had distinguished himself in battle after battle. The king rewarded his father with the title of Jarl, and gave him the northeastern territories of Ranrike, known as Ostfold, to protect and administer to in his name.
For years his father was a loyal and respected leader in the eyes of King Palni. Then, one day an ambitious man named Utlagi came to the king's court, and everything changed. Utlagi wanted a Jarldom of his own and began at once to ruthlessly attack Jarl Siggeir for everything he did. At first, however, Utlagi had trouble making any of his outrageous charges stick to the innocent jarl, but when the taxes that were collected in Ostfold came up short Utlagi saw his chance and took advantage of the situation. Relentlessly he poisoned the king's mind against Siggeir, until finally Palni felt he had to do something.
King Palni was so outraged by the charge brought against Siggeir that he sent Utlagi, with part of his army, to arrest the jarl. Siggeir in turn refused to accept that Utlagi had authority over him, and a battle ensued in which Utlagi, and quite a few of King Palni's warriors, were killed. When the remains of his army straggled back to the great hall they told the king of what had happened. Palni was appalled at what the jarl had done ! The king quickly gathered up the bulk of his army and rode to Ostfold to avenge the death of the emissary he had sent to arrest the jarl.
In a very one - sided battle the Ostfold warriors were easily defeated, and Jarl Siggeir captured. Just before the Ostfold army collapsed the Jarl's son Alfrekr, however, had escaped with a small contingent of men into the forest to hide. When Jarl Siggeir refused to admit his guilt King Palni had him put to death, and his corpse was strung up in a tree just outside of the village as a warning to others who might oppose the will of the king. Geirdis, Jarl Siggeirs wife, was brought to King Palni. He forced her into servitude as one of his mistresses, and raped her mercilessly for what he saw as her husband's treacherous actions. King Palni then placed one of his commanders, a warrior named Baldrekr, in charge of Ostfold and went back to his great hall.
Baldrekr was a capable leader of warriors, but he lacked both tact, and the ability to rule fairly. His ruthless ways of dealing with even the simplest of matters soon had the entire village set against him. More and more of the warriors left the village and sought out Alfrekr in the woods to join his growing band of warriors.
Alfrekr's loyalists soon multiplied into a small army. When he was told by the newcomers that his mother had been taken by King Palni, and forced to become one of his many mistresses, he decided something had to be done. The death of his father had been hard enough to accept, but the knowledge that his mother was now the king's whore was too much for the young man to take. Alfrekr wanted revenge !
On a clear moonlit night Alfrekr came back to the village of Ostfold. Quietly his warriors barricaded the doors of the great hall where Baldrekr was sleeping with most of his warriors. Then they lit the hall on fire. Alfrekr and his men could hear the king's men pounding on the doors and the walls in a desperate attempt to escape the thick smoke and searing flames. As the flames shot out through the roof of the structure they heard something even more gratifying. They heard the high pitched screams of King Palni's warriors who were burning alive !
Freed from the tyranny of Baldrekr the villagers all gave their allegiance to Alfrekr, and honored him with his father's title of jarl. With the addition of the village warriors and shield maidens, Jarl Alfrekr now had a small, but formidable army. To avenge the death of his father, Alfrekr had easily killed Baldrekr, but to retrieve his mother from the clutches of the king, the newly honored jarl would have to march his army south, and confront King Palni directly. As Jarl Alfrekr gathered his warriors together to confront the king he wondered if he had the ability to lead his raw warriors up against the Palni's well trained army !
- End Chapter 1
- Next Chapter 2 : Odin's Eyes
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.