Forbidden Love :
A Story Of The Goddess Lofn
The bickering continued when King Vifinnr demanded the privilege of leading the attack against the Swedes, but then, when he realized that his army would bear the brunt of the attack, he decided graciously to allow Harjulf the honor, to which the King of Harjardalr promptly said no. After much discussion, and arguing, it was decided to split each of the armies in half making four divisions. The king's would attack together, with the two other divisions held back in reserve. Of course when Vifinnr told Harjulf that his son Almsteinn would lead the other half of his army, Harjulf immediately announced that his son Heinrekr would command the other half of his forces. This led Vifinnr to argue that Heinrekr had no business in command of a division due to his lack of experience in battle.
Just as everything seemed ready to fall apart Heinrekr and Myrgjol stepped in and added common sense ideas, and points of compromise, to the overall plans. Heinrekr suggested that he be allowed to lead his father's second division, but that his father's senior most commander Trosti would ride with him in battle. Myrgjol then added that her brother, much to his chagrin, was also not as experienced a commander as some of his senior warriors, and should also have someone ride with him to give wise council during the heat of battle. After much bargaining back and forth both King Harjulf Hornbriotr, and King Vifinnr, finally agreed on their formations in battle, and they decided to move out their armies at first light.
The next morning not even Sunna's warm smile could placate the kings as another minor point of courtesy arose. On the width of a battlefield the two armies could easily fight side by side, but on the narrow forest paths and country roads the armies needed to march in ranks no wider than four or six wide. Once again the point of which king, with their army, would lead the way reared its ugly head. The argument became so heated at one point that all feared that what seemed like a simple matter would become an alliance breaker.
This time it was Almsteinn, King Vifinnr's son, who was tired of all the bickering, that came up with the solution to another problem that he considered trivial.
" Why don't you settle this dispute with a contest of archery. The king who hits the bullseye the most with ten arrows will lead the way ! " he shouted at the two kings angrily.
Despite both kings feeling slightly upstaged by Almsteinn's angry outburst, they agreed and two targets were set up on large oak trees that stood only feet apart. Each king took their time aiming and releasing their arrows, and when the competition was done King Harjulf had hit the center mark eight times, while Vifinnr had only struck it six. With a wicked grin on his face Harjulf moved his division of the main army to the front while King Vifinnr remained in the rear glaring at his son for his obstinate suggestion, that had caused him to lose face in front of not only King Harjulf but also the entire Herjardalr army.
The two armies marched for several days before the scouts returned with information on the exact location, make-up, and numbers of the enemy. The Swedes appeared, according to the reports, to be equal in numbers to the total strength of the two Northland armies, though they did seem to have an advantage in mounted warriors. More disturbing, however, was the fact that they were already fifty miles into Jamtaland.
Upon hearing the news King Harjulf turned to King Vifinnr, and with a reflective change of heart, asked the king of Jamtaland to ride up front with him.
" King Vifinnr ! This is your land, and I believe that you know the terrain better than do I. It would be best if you were to travel up front with my army. " he told the King of Jamtaland with a touch of bitterness in his voice.
Vifinnr nodded his agreement.
" Yes ! With the whole of the Swede army in our front now is not the time for us to allow past differences to affect our futures. " he told the King of Herjardalr.
Two days later, from the hill they were encamped upon, the Northland kings could see fires burning in the distance. Both leaders knew that what they were seeing was a village that had been sacked and set on fire. For the first time these two enemies saw themselves not as Herjardalr or Jamtalander, but as Northlanders defending themselves against a common enemy from the east.
" Tomorrow we should send Almsteinn and Heinrekr out, under a flag of truce, to inform King Ring that we have captured his son, and that we are willing to exchange him for a guarantee that he will leave our lands and never return ! " Vifinnr told the King of the Herjardalr.
King Harjulf instantly agreed.
" At first light we will send them into the valley below to set up a meeting with the King of the Swedes. " the King of Herjardalr responded as he pointed to the location where the meeting should take place.
As the sun rose over eastern Jamtaland Almsteinn and Heinrekr rode out from their camp, with Prince Edmund under the guard of a small contingent of warriors, to the center of the valley below. From a hill on the other side of the shallow plain King Hring carefully observed their every movement. He was about to dismiss this obvious peace overture when his son Erik informed him that his brother had gone missing. It was then that the King of the Swedes noticed that one of the riders below was surrounded by the others who had their swords pointed at the warrior in the middle.
" Is the King of the Jamtalanders among those below ? " the king asked.
Erik, whose vision was much sharper than his aging father's eyes, carefully examined the faces of those below in the valley before answering.
" No, father ! " he finally replied.
After taking a deep breath, and slowly exhaling, the king issued his order.
" Then you will take an equal number of warriors and see what terms they are offering for your brother ! " he commanded.
Erik quickly left his father and gathered up two dozen men to accompany him down to the valley below. When they reached the flat plain, and approached the Northlanders, they slowed their horses to a slow trot. A few moments later, when they came within hailing distance, Erik raised his hand and halted his warriors.
" My father, King Ring of the Swedes, wishes to know what are the terms for the return of his son Prince Edmund ! " he stated both coldly and angrily.
Almsteinn, being the eldest of the two sons of the kings of the Northlands, spoke for both kingdoms.
" I am Almsteinn, the son of King Harjulf ! When you leave our lands, King Harjulf of the Herjardalr, and King Vifinnr of Jamtaland will release the son of KIng Ring. " he shouted back defiantly.
Erik's eyes lit up like stars in the night ! His father had told him that they only faced a small army of Jamtalanders in their front, but if there were truly two armies that stood before them then that changed everything ! Thinking logically, but quickly, Erik responded calmly to the son of the King of the Herjardalr.
" My father, I am sure, will want to speak with both King Harjulf and King Vifinnr directly before he makes a final decision on this matter. " he told the Northlander.
" When Sunna reaches her apex the kings of Herjardalr and Jamtaland will come to this place to meet with the King of the Swedes. " he replied arrogantly.
Before he rode away Erik shook his head with disgust and shouted to his brother Edmund.
How could you allow yourself to be captured brother ? ! " he asked in a tone that did not hide his disgust.
Edmund, embarrassed by his predicament, remained silent with his head hung low against his chest.
King Ring could not believe his ears when his son returned with the news that not one, but two armies opposed him on the other side of the hill. He asked again and again if his son was certain that this was a fact, and not simply a Jamtalander deception.
" That is why I asked for the kings of these Northlands to meet with you father. " he explained.
Ring smiled and patted his son on the shoulder.
" A wise decision indeed, my son ! " the king replied.
Later that morning a scout reported to King Ring that riders were coming down off of the opposing hill. Immediately the King of the Swedes, along with his son, and his royal guard, mounted up and rode down into the valley to see what these Northlanders were truly up to.
For what seemed an eternity the Northland kings, and the King of the Swedes, sat stoically on their mounts staring at each other silently. Finally, King Ring, angered by the presence of the two Northland kings, and impatient to get this over with, spoke first.
" What are the terms for the release of my son ? " he asked without any signs of emotion.
King Harjulf allowed Vifinnr to answer because it was his land that was at the moment being invaded by the Swedes.
" You will leave my kingdom at once ! When your army is off of our sacred soil then, and only then, will we release your son ! " he told the Swede in no uncertain terms.
Ring pointed a finger at the King of Jamtaland.
" And if I should refuse ?! "
" Then you will have your war,...., but no son ! " he replied sarcastically.
King Ring fidgeted in his saddle.
" And what compensation do I receive for the carnage and devastation that you Northlanders caused on my lands, and to my people !? " he asked angrily in return.
King Harjulf could no longer hold his tongue.
" Our two armies have been engaged in battle for many months ! It was not either of our kingdoms which attacked your sovereign territory ! " he angrily yelled back.
King Ring frowned deeply as he responded.
" King Vifinnr, is this true ?! "
" It is ! " he replied.
King Ring glanced over at his son with a look of sheer disgust on his face before answering.
" Then we will leave your lands King Vifinnr ! " he stated somewhat reluctantly.
Erik shot his father a cold stare before joining in the conversation.
" Father ! How can we be sure that these Northlanders will keep their word, when our people clearly saw their invading armies flying the broken horn banner of Herjardalr, and the raven flag of Jamtaland ! ? " he stated to his father as fact.
King Vifinnr pointed a finger at Erik as he spoke to the King of the Swedes.
" Why does this boy speak in the presence of kings ? " he asked the Swede.
" It is true that my son has spoken out of turn, but his question is a valid one. How can we be sure that you will keep your word ? " he asked.
King Harjulf answered first.
" Because we do not want this war. We have a multitude of problems of our own to deal with, without our eastern neighbors causing us even more difficulties ! " he shot back.
King Ring gave the Northland kings an angry stare, and took a deep breath, before responding.
" Then I will march my army back across your border into Northanstig,...., where I will impatiently wait for the return of my son Edmund ! " he replied before reining his horse around and leading his warriors back to their camp.
As the King of the Swedes rode away Harjulf and Vifinnr glanced over at each other.
" Do you think he will actually leave ? " Vifinnr asked.
Harjulf shrugged his shoulders as he answered.
" I do not know . "
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : One God Versus Two Goddesses
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.