The Great Battle
On the north side of the field stood thousands of Romerike warriors holding their brightly painted shields in front of them. They formed a multi - colored wall that was almost as beautiful as the flowers that they stood among. Just behind this shield wall, and sitting on a tall white horse, was King Ogmund in full battle armor with his sword drawn. Ogmund had been waiting for this day for months now. Today he would avenge the death of his beloved daughter Aldisar, and in the process he would destroy the Varmland army, and kill King Sigtrygg. Then the Romerike king planned to enter Varmland and burn every building, and kill every villager. In just a few short months King Ogmund' s grief and anger had turned into raving madness. He was able to hide his psychotic mannerisms from his people, but his eyes betrayed his loss of sanity. As King Ogmund sat on his horse about to order his warriors forward all he could hear in his mind was his wife' s voice. " They killed our daughter ! If you are truly a man you will avenge Aldisar, and kill all those bastards from Varmland ! " he heard her say over and over again until his eyes fluttered with the pain her words struck into his soul. Her voice struck at his ears like a dagger plunging into his head over and over again. And with every word he sank a little further into madness.
King Sigtrygg sat on his black steed behind the massive Varmland shield wall that his warriors had formed in front of him. A short distance away sat Vandrad who was on foot awaiting the order for him to begin the battle. This was not what Sigtrygg wanted ! He did not understand why King Ogmund was going to war over what was merely an unfortunate accident. The deaths of his son, and Ogmund' s daughter, had been decided by fate, and yet it was he who was being blamed for everything by the leader of the Romerike kingdom. As King Sigtrygg sat looking over the Romerike battle lines he decided that he did not want to be the first to order his men forward. If the blood of hundreds, or maybe thousands, was to be on anyone's hands he did not want it to be on his. Then from across the field he heard someone shout, and he realized that King Ogmund had decided to attack first. As the arrows began to smack into the shields of his warriors King Sigtrygg shouted : " Archers ready ! Fire at will ! " Sigtrygg then looked over at Vandrad and nodded.
Vandrad yelled up and down the line: " Forward Varmland warriors ! Keep up a good pace, and hold your shields high to guard against the enemy' s arrows. " The two armies moved slowly toward each other. The warriors from both sides leaned forward as if they were marching into a fierce blizzard. The falling arrows tended to have that effect on the psyche of a fighting man. As the armies came closer the arrows stopped when the archers determined that there was a risk of hitting their own warriors. Then the warriors stood upright once again and began to run at full speed at each other. There was a great crash that sounded like distant thunder when the two armies met head - on in the middle of the flowering meadow. This was followed by the screams from desperate warriors on both sides.
The fighting was brutal ! Some fought with a shield in one hand and a sword in the other, while others used a battle axe as their main weapon. A few of the more confident warriors did not use a shield at all, but instead either swung two axes, or a sword and a seax. No matter what the weapons were, the result was always the same. Death and mutilation rained down on the meadow flowers like a spring cloud burst . As the day wore on, and the sun moved high over the battlefield, bodies lay all along the ground, and blood dripped from the blooms that no longer held the beauty of spring.
When the battle slowly became a stalemate, with neither side being able to gain an advantage, King Ogmund jumped off of his horse and began to fight on foot like a madman possessed ! His whole body felt as if it were covered in biting insects. This of course was simply a manifestation of his sick mind. It caused him to fight like a berserker in his madness to relieve the pressure that made him feel as if he would explode. Every Varmland warrior that he killed seemed to ease the pain he felt a little, much like a salve helps to soothe and open wound. No matter how many of the enemy he killed however, it could never bring him back from the edge of insanity !
By evening it became apparent to both sides that the battle could not be won in a single day. As the sun began to set King Sigtrygg and King Ogmund slowly pulled their warriors back to defensive positions for the night. As the two great kings began to count their losses, and consider what assets still remained, they both realized that tomorrow's fight would be just as fierce and just as bloody, and both kings came to the same conclusion. Both armies would be destroyed at this rate.
King Ogmund, in his exhaustion, began to have calmer more lucent thoughts. He considered all of his options, and after carefully weighing each, the king of Romerike decided that if he could not defeat the king of Varmland with his might on the battlefield, he would use guile and cunning to deceive the Varmlanders. Ogmund sent a warrior over to the Varmland position with a message that he wanted to discuss a treaty of peace. To make the proposition more appealing he had the messenger tell King Sigtrygg that he, along with a few of his commanders, would come into their camp to discuss the terms.
King Sigtrygg never wanted this war, and as he listened to the messenger's words he saw King Ogmund' s proposal as a way out of this bloody and costly mess. He told the messenger to go back and tell his king that he accepted his proposal to talk of a negotiated peace. As the Romerike warrior walked back to his lines, the king of Varmland took a deep breath. Maybe, just maybe, there was still time to stop this insane war.
Odin had been watching the Midgardians from Hlidskjalf since the armies began to gather in the fields on the border between the two kingdoms. The All - Father had not eaten , nor had he had anything to drink in days. He was glad to see that the desperate fighting had ended and that King Sigtrygg, his favorite king had survived the battle unscathed. But he was worried what the second day would bring. Odin had decided to pay King Ogmund a visit and kill him in much the same way he killed King Geirrod, but when Ogmund sent a messenger over to King Sigtrygg seeking a peaceful solution to their conflict, he decided to wait and see how this played out.
Frigga sat nervously at her husband' s side. She had never seen him as anxious about anything in his entire life. The All - Mother, like her husband, felt that there was much more going on here than just a mere battle between two Midgardian armies. She sensed that the humans were merely puppets on a grand stage, and that some great outside force was pulling their strings. As Frigga looked over at Odin she feared what her husband would do if things did not go his way.
- End Chapter 8
Next : Chapter 9 : The Deception !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.