The Little Shield Maiden
King Eyvind Of Agder
King Eyvind had planned his campaign very carefully, and made sure that his leaders knew every last detail as well. He would cross the Skaerid River, and conquer first Vestfold, then move northeast to subjugate Viken, and afterwards move south against Ranrike. This ambitious plan would give Eyvind access to the sea, all the way from Lade on the west coast, to the massive kingdom of Svearike in the east. King Eyvind smiled at the wonderful feeling of confidence he had in himself and his warriors. He knew he could easily defeat the weak king of Vestfold, King Arnkel, and he felt that King Thorvald, and his son Jarl Asbjorn of Viken, would not be much of a problem either. It was King Haldor of Ranrike who worried him the most. For it was King Haldor who was allied with King Sorkason of Svearike, also known as the land of the Swedes. If King Sorkason came to King Haldor's aide it would make for a very long and bloody war.
Eyvind had inherited his title, and his kingdom from his father, but he maintained his authority by ruthlessly suppressing his people. Those who were opposed to him, or spoke out against him, were brought before his court, and if found guilty, usually on false charges, they would be tortured, and made to confess to crimes they did not commit. Then they would be put to death, and their bodies strung up in the trees in a public place for all to see. Some of Eyvind' s most outspoken critics would simply disappear, never to be seen again ! Eyvind had been just as ruthless and cold hearted with his own kin. Anyone who might have even the slightest claim to his throne were conveniently gotten rid of, until over the years Eyvind became the only member of his family's line who was left.
King Eyvind was a huge, and very vulgar man. He had a very noticeable scar across his face that ran from his forehead, crossed his eye, and ended at the tip of his chin. Everyone who saw this incredibly ugly scar, that he received in a war against Lade, were amazed that he did not lose his left eye from the sword that slashed across his face. Eyvind had many scars that he had received over the years, and when he had too much to drink he would show them to anyone and everyone, whether they wanted to see them or not. King Eyvind was proud of his scars, and felt that each one was just as important as the gold arm rings that he had been given by his people for each of his winning battles.
There was one wound that left a scar that he did not want to show to anyone. But it was one that he also could not hide . This was the physical and psychological wound of not being able to have children. After four queens, three of which died mysterious deaths, and many mistresses over his thirty year rule, it was apparent to everyone that the fault lay with him, and not with the women that he bedded. He had considered adopting a child, in the ritual known as knee- setting, but he had never found anyone who he felt he could trust, or that he deemed worthy enough to hand his kingdom over to once he was gone. He had taken into his household several boys over the years from warriors who had been killed in battles, but as they grew older he trusted them less and less.
Three of these boys, who were now full grown men, were in charge of divisions in his army. Torberg Dagson was the leader of Eyvind' s cavalry. He was a dashing young man who loved to embellish his deeds with exaggerations, if not outright lies. He walked with a kind of swagger, and felt he was better than most others. Eyvind put up with his nonsense because in battle he was better than most . King Eyvind' s archers were led by Erling Arneson, an ambitious man who was not afraid to tell everyone and anyone who would listen, that he could lead the Agder army much better than their present king. Erling was a master at teaching the fine art of marksmanship, and his archers were the best in all of the Northlands. Finally, there was Harek Kolbeinson, the loyal leader of the foot soldiers. Harek was brought into King Eyvind's household later in life, and was much older than Erling and Torberg. Harek was a good man to have next to you in battle, and there were few men who were braver than he was, but the joke around the camp was that when he was drunk he killed more of his own men than he ever killed of the enemy in battle !
Unlike many of the neighboring kings, Eyvind had been told by the skalds great stories of the exploits of such great kings as Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, and even the great Arminius who defeated the Roman Legions all those years ago. Eyvind was not afraid to use the tactics he heard that these great men of history had used in battle. He seldom attacked straight into a shield wall , and often would use his cavalry to get in behind the enemies line to cause chaos, while his infantry attacked in waves protected on their flanks by his archers. King Eyvind had won many more battles with strategy, and tactics, than he had won through the use of brute force. His army was known to be unpredictable in their actions, and that at times kept his enemies off balance, and allowed him the edge he needed to win.
King Eyvind suddenly became aware that his men were watching him closely, and were waiting patiently for the signal to cross the shallow river, and begin the conquest of Vestfold. He had promised his men that they could plunder as much as they wanted from the lands of Vestfold. The king had also told his warriors they could have as many of the women as they wanted, and could take slaves as well. Now as King Eyvind looked around he could see the unquenchable desire of blood lust in his warrior's eyes. His men were more than ready, they were unstoppable ! King Eyvind waved his his hand forward, and a great cheer arose among his warriors as they began to cross the Skaerid river into Vestfold.
End Chapter 1
Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 2 : The Peaceful Village