A Game Of War
Rain, Rain, Go Away.....
What lay ahead of the Heinafylki army was no better than what they had already endured. A flooded marsh, with grass as high as their shoulders, was the next obstacle that his army would have to overcome to reach the rebel army which lay to the south. Sigvaldi took some small comfort in the fact that on the far side of the marsh there was a small hill which appeared to be above the flood line, and therefore dry. The king assured his warriors that once they reached the hill they could make camp, and rest for a full day, before moving on.
King Lifsteinn grinned as he pointed down at the Heinafylki army that was struggling to make its way through the sticky muck, and thick overgrowth of the marsh.
" You were right Hjalmberi ! King Sigvaldr's army is becoming bogged down in the marsh ! " he whispered to the Chieftain of Skaun.
Odin, back in the disguise of Hjalmberi, nodded to Lifsteinn.
" Yes ! The situation seems to be going much as planned. Remember, however, to be most effective we must attack when the Heinafylki army is in the center of the marshland. Not before, and not after ! " he told the king almost in the form of an order.
Lifsteinn turned to Hjalmberi with a sarcastic smile on his face, and responded to the chieftain's warning.
" Things are working out as you said that they would. But remember my friend that I am the king of Heidmork, and I alone will command my army when to attack ! " he scolded his subordinate.
As he listened to the king's rebuke Hjalmberi's eye narrowed and his right hand clenched down tightly on the hilt of his sword. With a slow angry nod the disguised Lord of Asgard addressed the king of Heidmork.
" Then I will leave you to command your army ! " he replied tersely to the king.
Furious over what he considered to be ungrateful childishness, Odin headed back to where he had left the real Hjalmberi unconscious, stuck by a sleep thorn, but unharmed. As he stomped angrily past the archers, to the rear of the Heidmork army, he wiped a bead of sweat of of his brow. The Lord of Asgard took a few more steps before stopping dead in his tracks. What had caused him to halt so abruptly was another, much larger droplet of sweat, which coursed down his cheek, disappearing eventually into his long braided beard.
" Sunna ! What are you doing ? ! " the disguised God asked the dim light that was trying to force its way through the dark clouds.
His answer came in the form of the Sun Goddess' blinding rays which broke through the clouds causing him to cover his eyes with his right hand to deflect her powerful glow.
" No ! No !! NO!!! " Odin shouted in a hoarse whisper at the clearing skies.
Odin no longer cared about waking the human Hjalmberi. Instead he ran to the cave, where he had hidden Sleipnir, at a pace he did not think possible for a man of his age. Long before he reached the entrance to the cavern Odin placed two fingers into his mouth and let out a loud whistle. A moment later a great white steed galloped towards him with all eight of its legs kicking up mud, with its powerful hoofs, from the rain drenched ground.
The All-Father hopped up over the hind quarters of his horse, like a man half his age, landing squarely on the saddle as if it were something that he practiced on a daily basis. With his right hand he grabbed the reins and pulled his mount around, while with the other he pointed to the mountains in the distance.
" Fly like the wind to those mountains in the distance ! " he yelled to Sleipnir.
Its four front legs reared up off of the ground as Sleipnir snorted in preparation for a race to the far mountains at full gallop. Such was the speed of the great steed that when it reached its stride Odin had to hold onto his helmet with his left hand to prevent it from being blown off of his head !
Odin was relieved when he reached the pass, that led across the mountains, to find dark heavy clouds still gathered around the peaks, and heavy snow falling. Halfway up the mountain, however, his satisfaction turned into disappointment as the skies lightened, and the snow which had been falling only moments before began to switch, first to sleet, and then to a gentle rain.
As he reached the ridge of the mountain pass, that led to a long plateau, Odin spotted a cloaked shepherd woman walking with a long staff through the slippery snow. Behind her a herd of nervous goats eyed him with great trepidation. Odin slowly walked Sleipnir over to the woman and leaned over the neck of his horse to speak to her.
" It must be difficult for a woman to navigate these mountain passes with a herd of goats. " he told the woman as he scanned the plateau for the other half of King Sigvaldi's army.
The woman slowly turned to face the rider. As she pulled back her hood she spoke to him.
" It is no more strenuous than traveling to Ljosalfheim to speak to a Vanir God, or tricking a Midgardian king into doing your bidding ! " Frigga told her husband with an angry stare.
Odin was surprised that it was his wife who stood before him, but he was not totally shocked by her presence. Frigga had often proved to be both wise and resourceful in her endeavors, and once again he saw in her the wonderful qualities that had drawn him to her all those millennium ago.
Odin grinned shamelessly.
" You have made a most strategic, and well played move in our little game of war, my love, but the battle has not yet begun, and you might yet lose ! " he informed his wife confidently.
" Yes, my love, the battle has not yet begun. But is not because you have planned it that way. It seems that King Lifsteinn has not taken your advice after all. If you hurry you might yet be able to get your " king piece " to move before it becomes too late ! " she told her husband with a hint of sarcasm.
Odin's grin disappeared when he realized what his wife was telling him. Had Lifsteinn not begun the battle as he had instructed him ? With firm hands he reined Sleipnir around and yelled out but one word :
" Fly ! "
Frigga smiled as she walked away from the ridge. She could not dawdle here for long because the next move was her's to make !
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : The Mysterious Guide
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.