The Tale Of Hati Shaky Sword
The Winds Of War
King Aki stood up so quickly that he knocked over the bench behind him. " Is it known if the king's of East and West Agder are planning to invade my kingdom as well ? " the king asked in excited tone. " Yes, my lord. The word is that when they have defeated Viken they will invade Ranrike, and not stop until they have reached the Svearike and Danmark borders ! " Ivar told him. The king shook his head . " Then I see no other option than to call every able bodied subject from my kingdom to serve in our army. " he told his warrior. The king pounded his fist on the table, and looked angrily at Ivar : " I need you to ride to every village and town in Ranrike and gather up every chieftain, merchant, blacksmith, and farmer, and bring them at once to my great hall to join our army ! " Ivar bowed one last time. " I will leave at once my lord ! " he told the king before turning to leave. " If the Agder kings want a war, then I will give them a war they will never forget ! " King Aki shouted as Ivar left the hall.
Ivar could not possibly ride to every village and town in Ranrike in the time needed to gather up an army, and prepare it for war before the Agder kings attacked across their border. In every village he rode into he commanded the local chieftain to send out multiple riders to all the villages and surrounding towns. Then the chieftains from these secondary villages would also send out riders to the villages near them, and in this way all the villages and towns were notified of the king's orders in a timely manner. The command was a simple one to the chieftains : " Gather up all of your warriors and march to King Aki's hall without delay to join his growing army ! "
As Ivar rode from village to village, more and more men who owned horses fell in with him and helped to recruit every able bodied man that they could find. Most men, and even a few women, were more than willing to come with Ivar and fight for King Aki. A few however, especially the farmers, complained that it was the middle of the harvesting season, and that they would lose their crops if they left at this time. Ivar calmly explained to these farmers that the Agder kings would burn their towns and villages, take what they wanted, including their crops, and kill everyone in Ranrike who stood in their way. If this still did not convince the farmer to come along, one of the warriors who now accompanied Ivar, named Bjarni, was more than willing to threaten the individual until they agreed to join them. Ivar did not like Bjarni' s tactics, but they did not have much time to gather an army, so Ivar did not question Bjarni' s methods as long as they got results.
Just outside of the small town of Varteig they came to a small hut, with an equally small tract of farmland behind it. Ivar and Bjarni dismounted and walked to the door. Before knocking Ivar looked over at Bjarni and said : " These people do not have much wealth it would seem. " Bjarni smiled . " If there is a warrior here they are rich enough to join our army ! " he replied sarcastically as he pounded on the door first.
" Who is it ? And what do you want ? " asked the woman' s voice on the other side of the door. Bjarni pounded on the door again and shouted rudely : " We are the king's men, and we are here to see the man of this house ! " The door slowly creaked open to reveal a tiny woman holding an infant. Ivar was surprised by the condition of their clothes. Both the mother and child were dressed in what appeared to be rags that had been sewn together. Ivar did take note that although their clothes were in tatters, the mother and child seemed to be very clean and healthy.
" Would you please come in ? " the woman asked them as she opened the door all the way. The tiny hut was very sparsely decorated. It contained a table, a few chairs, and a small bed that was set up against the far wall by the fireplace. Like the woman and child the residence was clean and neat in appearance. " My name is Geirny, and this is my son Stein. " she told the two rather large warriors. " May I offer you gentlemen something to drink ? " she asked. Bjarni quickly cut her off. " We have no time for such things ma'am ! We need to speak to your husband, and we need to see him now ! " he told the woman sternly. Geirny did not answer the rude man who asked the question, but instead turned to the quieter man. " My husband is out in the fields. I believe he is harvesting the wheat today. " she told Ivar with a frown. Ivar gave the woman a pleasant smile. " Then we will go and speak to him ma'am. " he told her. Bjarni turned and walked out the door first without saying a word. Ivar, however, thanked the woman for her assistance before closing the door.
Bjarni had already mounted his horse by the time Ivar reached his steed. As Ivar placed his foot in the stirrup he said to Bjarni : " It is a shame that they live in such poverty. " Bjarni just shook his head in disgust. " The woman is to blame ! She has chosen for herself a poor husband. He must not be much of a man ! " Ivar disagreed with that assessment, and was not afraid to say so. " The woman seemed pleasant and happy ! We should not judge them on what they are lacking. " he told Bjarni. As the small group of horsemen began to ride toward the fields behind the hut they saw a lone man working in the distance. As they approached it was hard not to notice that this farmer was very thin, and appeared rather frail.
The farmer was tying up a stack of wheat when he heard the horsemen approach. As he turned to see who it was his foot became entangled in the bottom of the wheat stalks, and he fell flat on his face. The horsemen broke into laughter when they saw the farmer hit the ground face first. Even Ivar, who always tried to have compassion for everyone, could not help but chuckle at the man's misfortune. When the farmer looked up he saw a familiar sight. Ever since he was a young boy he had always been the subject of jokes and ridicule due to his skinny frame, and lack of great strength. And once again he had managed to make a poor first impression. This time in front of what appeared to be warriors ! The farmer picked himself up off of the ground, and brushed himself off before addressing the horsemen. " My name in Hati Haraldsson. What can I do for you men ? " he asked. Ivar tried to look the man in the eyes as he spoke, but Hati seemed to be embarrassed and looked away. " We have been sent by King Aki to raise an army to stop the kings of East and West Agder from invading Ranrike. You are hereby ordered to report to the king's great hall immediately, with all necessary weapons. " Ivar told him. " Not to do so will be judged as cowardice and treason, and will result in your execution ! " Ivar added. Bjarni looked down at the puny man with contempt. " Can you even swing a sword you scrawny little bastard ?! " Ivar did not think the question appropriate, but the other horsemen laughed . Once again Hati did not look the man in the eyes when he answered. " I am not a great warrior, but I will fight as best I can . " he told the warriors. Ivar took a deep breath before he spoke : " That is all that the king asks of his subjects. Now say your goodbyes to your wife and child, and start out for the king's hall at once. " Ivar told him. Bjarni then added sarcastically : " And if you don' t we will be back, and we will hunt you down like the scrawny little animal that you are ! " the horsemen then turned and rode off into the distance.
Hati left his harvesting, and slowly walked back to his hut. Geirny was waiting impatiently for him just outside of the front door when he arrived. " What did those men want my love ? " she asked nervously. Hati walked over and gave her a hug before replying. " I am afraid that our king has called up every available warrior to join his army. It seems, my dear, that the kings of East and West Agder are planning to invade Ranrike, and we must all defend our homes, and our families from this threat of war. " he told his wife. Geirny stepped back a few feet, and with a look of fear on her face spoke in a shaky voice. " But.... but.... you.... you are not a warrior my husband ! Why would they want to take you ?! And what of the crops ?! Will they not rot in the fields ?!" she yelled rambling. " Stein and I need you ! You cannot leave us here all alone ! " she yelled even louder as she began to sob uncontrollably. The child, sensing something was very wrong, began to cry as well.
Hati stepped forward, and stroked his wife's beautiful blonde hair. " I have no choice my love ! To disobey the king's orders would mean certain death for me, and slavery for you, and our son. I must leave at once for the king's hall. " he told her. Geirny ran back into the hut, and sat holding Stein facing the wall as Hati gathered up his things. No words were spoken between them until Hati headed for the door. Geirny then jumped up, and ran over to her husband. She threw her free arm around Hati, and held him tightly. They embraced for a long time with Stein hugged in between them. Finally Hati pushed his wife far enough away to kiss her on the lips. He then kissed his son on the cheek before opening the door. " Do not be angry with me Geirny. This is simply fate, and I have no choice in the matter. Geirny embraced Hati again and gave him a long kiss. " I could never be mad at you ! " she said as tears rolled down her face. " Please come back to us ! " she implored her husband before she kissed him once again. Hati held onto the embrace for as long as he could. He then kissed both his wife and child one last time, and then turned to leave. Geirny waved to her husband as he walked away not knowing if she would ever see him again !
- End Chapter 1
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 2 : The Army Assembles