Surtr : The Great Fire Giant
Sindr, the leader of the Southern forces, cared little about the remnants of the Northern army. They were isolated in the desolate far north, and were no longer a threat to his army, or his rule. Sindr then turned his full attention toward the invaders, and for many years fought a vicious war against the Frost Giants. At first the fighting was fairly even, but as time went on his forces grew in confidence, and Sindr defeated these unwanted invaders in battle after battle. Sindr often joked that the Frost Giants melted away like ice before a flame whenever they came up against his superior Fire Giants. The leader of Muspell ordered that no prisoners be taken, and the Frost Giants were always killed down to the last woman and child. Their rotting corpses were then tied to rocks at the border, near the ancient lava flow, where they became a stark warning to all those who dared cross into Muspelheim. The stench of their decaying flesh also attracted the fire dragons, which further discouraged the Frost Giants from entering the fiery realm.
Later that same year Sindr died in his sleep, and his son Aska became the ruler of Muspelheim. Aska, much like his father, was a ruthless dictator who ruled his kingdom through fear and torture. Anyone who spoke out against Aska would immediately find themselves arrested, and taken to the nearest active volcano where they would be judged, sentenced, and then thrown into the fiery magma, to die an agonizing death.
This brutal oppression went on for a number of years unopposed. But tyranny cannot last forever and slowly, over time, those opposed to Aska' s brutal reign of terror escaped, made their way to the north, and joined up with Eldur, and the remnants of his army. Those who made it safely to the northern most lands of Muspelheim were disappointed to find that Eldur, and many of his Fire Giants, no longer had the will to fight. In Eldur they had found a warrior who had not the stomach for war. However, his young son Surtr was more than willing and ready to lead these rebels in their struggle against the tyrannical reign of King Aska. Surtr saw in these southern defectors the beginnings of a rebel army, but he was disappointed that none in their ranks showed leadership qualities, because he sorely needed commanders.
One of the most formidible Fire Giants to illicit the aide of Eldur' s son was a Fire Giant named Bruni. This fierce warrior came in the second wave of defectors and was one of Aska' s lower commanders in the war against the Frost Giants. Surtr, however, felt that the time was not quite right to begin their war against the south, and he told Bruni that they could not rush into a war they could not win. Bruni was disappointed, but he promised to stay by Surtr's side until the time was right.
King Aska became very paranoid after the war ended with the Frost Giants. He believed that with the conflict over, and there being nothing for his fierce Fire Giants to fight for, that some in his army might now turn their attention inward, and try to take control of Muspelheim from him. The king began to watch his army closer and closer, and went so far as to send spies into their camps.
With every day that passed Aska became more and more unsure of who he could truly trust. Even the most innocent misunderstandings, that his spies reported to him, became blown far out of proportion by the King of Muspelheim. Aska often had his warriors arrested, and put to death in horrible sadistic ways, for the smallest of offenses. One of the king's favorite forms of execution was to tie the warrior to the ground in the path of an active lava flow. The king would then sit and watch intently as the molten magma slowly crept over the prisoner. When the unfortunate victim screamed in agony as he was consumed by the lava, Aska would giggle and laugh hysterically. Then the king would have his high seat moved further along, and another prisoner would be tied to the ground, and the process repeated until there was no one left to execute.
Then one morning Aska awoke from a nightmare in hysterics. He had dreamed that his entire army had turned on him and that his commanders were planning a coup. King Aska immediately turned to the one Fire Giant that he was sure he could trust, and ordered him to round up all of the army's commanders. The king wanted them all tortured until they confessed their guilt. This Fire Giant, aptly named Kveikiefni was known for his ability to get even the most difficult things done.
Kveikiefni in turn ordered the Fire Giant he most trusted, a Giant named Bergkvika, to secretly bring his division of warriors to the great lava hall to begin rounding up the other commanders. Bergkvika, however, had had enough ! This brave warrior had seen far too many Fire Giants, who he deemed as innocent, put to death unfairly for crimes they did not commit. Instead of mobilizing his division Bergkvika sought out the other commanders and warned them of what Aska was planning. Bergkvika also invited each commander to join him in traveling north in an attempt to escape such madness.
Some commanders would not believe what they were being told, and stayed behind, never to be seen alive again. Many, however, had sensed that a purge of the army was inevitable. They decided to join with Bergkvika, and on a dark night, with little volcanic activity to light the sky, they abandoned their posts, deserted their evil king, and quietly traveled north.
On the morning that Bergkvika was due to arrive at the king's lava palace to begin the purge, the Fire Giant, along with the other division commanders Vikrar, Reykur, Goshver, Gufa, Gigur, Logi, and Hraunid, were nearly halfway to the desolate north where King Eldur had his settlement.
When King Aska heard of their defection he immediately sent Kveikiefni out to hunt them down. Despite Kveikiefni having three loyal divisions under Bleikju, Neisti, and Hrimnir, with him they were unable to track down these rebels, and eventually had to turn back when they came upon the Northern Army's southernmost outposts. With the purge decimating the army' s leadership, and destroying morale, the last thing that Kveikiefni wanted at this time was another war with the Northern Fire Giants.
It did not take long for the Southern Army deserters to seek out, and find themselves a leader in Surtr, and in these former Southern Army commanders Surtr found the Fire Giants who were capable of leading his rebels. Shortly thereafter, Surtr, and his new rebel commanders, met secretly to discuss how they would attack the Southern forces. They all agreed that it would be impossible for them to launch a full scale attack against the Southern Army without the aide of Eldur and the Northern Army. Despite the urging of Vikrar and Hraun, Surt firmly told the rebel commanders that his father would not consent at this time to becoming involved in another war. Bergkvika, a wise leader in his own right, also made the point that if they told King Eldur what their plans were, the king might try and stop them, or even have them arrested.
Goshver then demanded to know what they could do with such a small force to disrupt, or defeat, the entire Southern Army. Surtr smiled, and told the other rebel commanders to follow him. The Northern king's son led the rebels a short distance from the small pumice hut where they were meeting, and brought them over to an old hardened lava field. Surtr stopped in front of a small cave opening and pointed inside. He told the rebel commanders that this was where, and how, they would attack the Southern Army.
Bergkvika, who wanted more than any of the rebels to be loyal to Surtr, shook his head, and wondered if his new leader might be as crazy as his former king. Surtr, however, laughed as the commanders asked how a cave could help to defeat the forces of King Aska. The rebel leader placed his arms around Bergkvika and Vikrar, and with a sly grin explained to them that these hraun - tupa, ( lava - tubes ), extended for hundreds of kilometers underground, and that many of them ran north to south. Surtr then told them that in these hraun- tupa they could move into the south undetected, attack their enemy under the cover of darkness, and then disappear back into the tunnels before dawn. When Bruni asked how many of these hraun - tupa there were, Surtr smiled and told them that there were thousands of them all throughout the far north.
Bergkvika listened intently as he gazed into the eyes of Surtr. In them he saw the vision and the wisdom of a knowledgeable leader, and the makings of a great king. And when Surtr suggested that they call themselves the Rjufendr, ( Those who tear asunder ), they all knew they had found a Fire Giant who understood what it would take to win !
- End Chapter 2
- Next : Chapter 3 : The Rjufendr Attack !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.