Skadhi awoke to a clear sky, and a cold morning. The rays of the rising sun had little affect upon her face, but she remained warm in the clothes she had made from the skins of the deer she had killed . Skadhi had formulated a plan the night before, as she was eating her dinner, and watching the flames of her fire dance before her. She decided that she would enter the valley with Swift - Runner, and his pack on her left, and White Paw's pack on her right as scouts. She had seen Odin use this military tactic during the Aesir - Vanir War, and thought it a good idea to use the wolf packs like fast cavalry to protect her flanks. She had decided to leave Little Growler at the camp because it was just too dangerous for him to come along this time. She made sure that Little Growler understood that he was to stay behind before she left. SKadhi was going to go into the valley of the Dwarves, and seek out the Dwarve king and confront him over the kiling of her wolves.
King Haur, however, had his own plan. He had gotten up before dawn, and ordered his men into place. Chief Sviar supervised the dwarves as they took their positions. Dori and Duf were placed in two tall evergreens that towered over the entrance to the valley. They were armed with bows and arrows, and their duty was to allow Skadhi into the valley, but once she was in they were to make sure that she did not get back out. Gloin and Draupnir were positioned behind boulders midway into the valley. They too were armed with bows and arrows, and had the boulders to shield them from Skadhi's arrows. Near the end of the valley two caves, one on each side of the valley, contained a dozen Dwarve warriors each, who carried swords and axes, ready to attack Skadhi . That is if she made it that far ! King Haur, Chief Sviar, and about three dozen more warriors stood at the exit of the valley just in case. King Haur gave explicit instructions that no one was to attack Skadhi until he personally gave the signal.
From atop the highest peak the Warrior God watched as the Dwarves positioned themselves to ambush the Hunting Goddess. He calculated that Skadhi could probably kill the first two Dwarves who had climbed the large trees by the mouth of the valley entrance, but figured that the two behind the rocks would be hard for her to hit from the ground even with her keen eye. He also detected movement around the mouths of several caves further down the valley, but could not tell how many warriors were there, or what types of weapons they had. He could clearly see King Haur, who he had met once before, at the end of the valley with the rest of his army. The great warrior guessed that the Dwarves were going to let Skadhi enter the valley, and then trap her there, and kill her. Now he had a choice to make. Should he stay and help her , or just go on his way, and ignore her plight. Then he laughed and said to himself : " There is no honor to be won by leaving ! Besides this could be fun ! " The warrior slowly made his way down the mountain to look for a good place to position himself for the best shots.
As Skadhi cautiously made her way into the valley, she did not notice a small furry animal that was staying just out of her sight on the mountain side on her left. Little Growler did not like to be left behind, and he wasn't actually following her, he was just watching her from a distance. Surely she would not get mad about that, the little bear reasoned. As Skadhi crept along she placed an arrow on her bow string, and raised it up to her eye to a firing position. She pretended not to see the two Dwarves that were not very well hidden up in the trees on either side of her as she passed. Skadhi walked another twenty paces, then turned, aimed, and shot the first arrow with such speed and accuracy, that Dori had no time to react. He was dead before he realized what happened to him. Duf raised his bow, and shot his arrow as soon as he saw Skadhi turn and shoot. But Skadhi was a skilled warrior who knew that once she took her shot she had to move immediately. Duf's arrow missed her by inches as Skadhi dove to her right, tumbled into a standing position, pulled an arrow from her quiver, set in on the string, and fired it off before Duf could even reach for a second arrow. As Duf watched in amazement at Skadhi's acrobatic movements, the arrow hit him right between the eyes. Both Dwarves fell to the ground with a sickening thud.
Chief Sviar looked over at King Haur, and winced in disgust as he said : " Well, that did not go as planned ! " The king glanced back at Sviar with an angry scowl and replied : " This is Skadhi ! Did you think this was going to be easy ?! " Sviar nodded in agreement before saying ; " No, Sire I did not, which is why we set up multiple traps for her . One failure does not mean our entire plan has failed . " King Haur looked down at Sviar and replied : " I hope not for your sake Chief Sviar ! "
The great warrior God walked down the mountain a short distance and found himself a good position on a mountain ledge where he could view the battle more clearly, and where he could more easily join in on the action. He saw that from his angle it would be a real trick shot to hit the Dwarve who was hiding behind the rock closest to him. With practised steadiness, and the eye of a marksman the great warrior God Ullr lined up his shot, and let the arrow fly from his bow. The arrow ran straight and true. A foot from the Dwarves head the arrow hit a rock, and ricochet into Gloin's neck severing his main artery. He screamed a gurgling sound as he fell the 100 ft. to the valley floor. As Ullr looked to see if he could spot the other Dwarve on the opposite side of the valley he saw something very odd walking along the mountainside just above the Dwarves position. " You don't see that everyday ! " he whispered to himself.
Skadhi saw the Dwarve fall and hit the ground, but did not know why he had fallen. She now knew, however, that there were Dwarves up among the rocks, and she moved more cautiously as she scoured the crevices and ledges for the elusive little Dwarves. Draupnir, who had heard Gloin scream as he fell, peered out carefully to see if he could spot Skadhi, as he readied his bow. Little Growler stood quietly above the little Dwarve wondering what he was up to. When Little Growler saw the Dwarve put the arrow on the string he remembered the pain it had caused his friend Swift Runner. The little bear cub was going to run away when he saw the Dwarve stand up and aim the arrow at Skadhi. Little Growler let out a high pitched growl that reverberated throughout the valley ! Skadhi reacted instantly but had no shot. The Dwarve had just enough time to gaze over his shoulder at where the sound was coming from before the 150 pound bear came crashing down on top of him.
Little Growler snapped and bit at the Dwarve with all his might, but he was no match for Draupnir. Draupnir lifted Little Growler up by his neck, and started to choke the little bear. As he did he moved slightly away from the rock, and exposed himself to Skadhi. As the Dwarve squeezed harder and harder, an arrow pierced his back, and he dropped the little bear. Within a split second another arrow went straight through the Dwarves head. Skadhi, who was just aiming for a second shot, saw the second arrow hit its mark, and watched the Dwarve fall. Skadhi followed the path of the arrow backwards, and caught a glimpse of a large man standing like a statue on a rock overlooking the valley. The archer saluted her, and then disappeared.
Next : Part 4 : The Battle Becomes Intense !
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2012.