Blenda : Sweden's Greatest Heroine
The rider came galloping up to Prince Olof's great hall as fast as he could make his winded and lathered horse fly. Rikulf had ridden both nights and days from Smaland to reach the Prince of Vatland's hall. And for good reason ! The news he had to tell was of great importance to the Prince of Scania. Without waiting for his horse to come to a complete stop, Rikulf jumped off at the entrance to the hall, and addressed the sentries who were on guard there.
" I must see Prince Olof at once ! I have important information that the prince must be made aware of ! " Rikulf managed in between trying to catch his breath.
The guards looked at one another and laughed. Terkel, the larger of the two men, slapped his comrade Ostman on the chest before asking :
" Should we let this dirty little troll in to see the prince of Vatland ? " he inquired with a comical look upon his face.
Ostman grinned from ear to ear.
" Maybe, ..... if he pays us a bronze coin each,.... perhaps we could. " he replied .
Rikulf was in no mood for stupidity !
" If you do not let me pass I promise you both that you will live to regret it ! The prince will want to hear what I have to say !! " he shouted at the warriors who were having fun at his expense.
Ostman gave the visitor the once over, and could not help but see that he was very serious in his tone and mannerisms.
" Maybe you should tell us your name, and why you are here first. Then we will decide if you deserve an audience with the prince. " he told the stranger.
Rikulf took a deep breath and shook his head in disgust.
" Fine ! My name is Rikulf and I have learned that King Alle has raised an army, and is, as we speak, marching off to Norway ! " he began.
Terkel shrugged his shoulders.
" Why would Prince Olof care about what the Geats are doing in Norway ? " he asked sarcastically.
Rikulf bit his lip angrily !
" Because, my obnoxious fellow, King Alle has taken with him almost every able bodied man from Vastergotland, Ostergotland, and Smaland. And now the Southern Geats are only defended by women and old men ! " he told the guards angrily.
Ostman said no more ! He stepped over to the doors of the great hall and threw them wide open. Without even bothering to step inside the great hall he announced in a loud voice :
" My Lord ! The messenger Rikulf has ridden all the way from Smaland with some very interesting news ! " he informed the prince.
Prince Olof frowned as he looked up from his mead, but the urgency in his guard's voice made him decide to wave the man in.
" Yes, yes ! Close the door ! You are letting the cold air in ! " he shouted to the guard.
Rikulf gave Ostman and Terkel one last angry look before entering. As he began to walk to the back of the hall, where the prince sat upon his high seat, he heard the door slam shut behind him.
" Ignorant bastards ! I am glad they are not guarding my hall ! " he whispered to himself.
Rikulf bowed as he approached the prince and then wiped the sweat that he had worked up during his long hard ride off of his forehead as he rose back up.
Before he could speak the prince asked impatiently :
" Well ! Well !! What is it that is so damned important ! "
Rikulf bowed slightly a second time before replying.
" I have just returned from Smaland, my Lord, and it is no longer protected by the army of King Alle ! " he explained to the Prince of Vatland.
Olof stood up, set down his goblet of mead, and with a frown that deeply etched his forehead asked :
" And how is that possible ? "
Rikulf grinned from ear to ear.
" The King of the Geats has collected all the warriors throughout his lands, and gone off to attack the Norwegians in Ranrike and Viken, my Lord. " he told the prince.
Olof ran to Rikulf and grabbed him by the shoulders.
" Then who is defending the small lands that lay just to our north ? ! " he asked in a stunned tone.
Despite the prince's tight hold on him, Rikulf shrugged his shoulders.
" Women,.... old men,.... the sick and infirm, .... possibly even some children, ... because there are no able - bodied warriors left in Smaland . " he told the prince.
Then he added proudly :
" And I saw it all for myself when I was there ! " he told the Prince of Vatland.
Olof let go of Rikulf, clapped his hands together, and did a little dance around his high seat.
" How unfortunate for them ! " he shouted joyfully.
Then Olof turned to Rikulf and pointed to the door.
" You must ride at once to Gything and inform Chieftain Guthbrand of this ! Tell him to gather up his army and meet me at the Smaland border by the Silver Lake. First we will conquer Smaland, and then who can say ? Maybe we will take Ostergotland, Vastergotland, and the even the Land of the Swedes as well ! By the time autumn falls over these lands I may be dining in Skara as their king ! " he told Rikulf happily.
Rikulf bowed respectfully.
" But my Lord, shouldn't we tell King Sweyn of your plans ? " he asked.
Olof shook his head in disgust.
" King Sweyn is too busy fighting with King Valdemar, and King Canute to care what happens here in Scania. Ever since the peace banquet at Roskilde, and the tri - partition of the Danish Kingdom into Jutland, Zealand, and Scania, all three monarchs have thought of nothing but fighting among themselves. Perhaps they will kill each other, and I will become King of the Danes ! " he told Rikulf in a maniacal tone !
Rikulf could not help but allow a concerned frown to cover his face.
" Yes, my Lord ! Then I should be off to Gything to inform Guthbrand of your intentions ! " the messenger replied.
Olof strode forward, and pointed again to the door.
" Yes ! Before you leave, however, stop at my stable and pick out a fast horse for the journey. We must attack before King Alle can return from Norway ! " he told Rikulf.
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : An Army On The Move
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.