Fugitive From Hel
No Time For Grief
Lofarr and his men came back to Holmestrand early from their hunt. The chieftain and his warriors were able to kill several deer, and a rather large rabbit, but nothing they had " bagged " was worth bragging about. When they entered the village Lofarr pulled hard on the reins of his horse, and his horse reared up and stopped. As the chieftain looked to the far end of the village he did not see his great hall, which normally stood taller than the rest of the huts and longhouses in the village. What he did see shocked him. There, where his great hall had once stood, was a pile of smoldering rubble !
The chieftain of Holmestrand spurred his horse forward .
" No ! No !! NO!!! " he screamed as he raced to the still smoking debris.
Near where the front door of the hall had once stood Lofarr saw Alrekr, one of his lesser warriors, standing as if he were charged with guarding the ruins of his hall. Before his great white stallion had come to a full stop Lofarr jumped off and ran to the warrior.
" Where is my wife and son ! " he demanded to know.
Alrekr at first diverted his eyes to the ground. With a deep breath he raised his head and looked his chieftain in the eyes.
" My lord, it pains me to inform you that they perished in the fire. " he told his chieftain and then paused.
" Their remains are in my house my lord . " he added finally.
Lofarr punched himself in the chest several times, and let out a scream that if heard from a distance one would have thought it had been made by a great wild beast.
" I wish to see them now ! " he screamed at the warrior.
Alrekr placed his hand on Lofarr's shoulder to comfort him.
" Yes my lord ! If you will follow me I will take you to them..... and my lord, there is a man you need to speak to..... for you see this was no accident ! " he explained to Lofarr.
Lofarr pushed away Alrekr's hand, grabbed him by his shirt, and pulled him close.
" What do you mean this was not an accident ! " he screamed in Alrekr's face.
Alrekr had to use all his inner strength to retain his composure and answer the chieftain in an even tone.
" My lord, a farmer named Vapni saw a strange man leaving your hall as the fire began ! " he replied.
Lofarr let go of Alrekr's shirt and gently pushed him away.
" I will see my wife and child first. Then I will speak to the farmer Vapni. " he told Alrekr in a calmer tone.
Lofarr was horrified when he saw what was left of his wife and son. Their limbs looked more like firewood that had not completely burned, than the arms and legs of human beings. And his wife.... her beautiful face.... was gone !
The chieftain turned away from his grief and allowed his anger to rise above his sorrow.
" I will see Vapni now ! " he commanded.
Alrekr nodded and left the hut. He returned moments later with the little farmer in tow. Vapni nodded out of respect for his chieftain before speaking.
" My lord, I offer you my sincere condolences... " Vapni began.
Lofarr cut him off in mid - sentence !
" I appreciate your words, but I want the man who did this ! " he commanded with such an evil look that the little farmer literally shrank before him.
Vapni nodded again.
" Yes, my lord ! I saw a man leaving your great hall moments before it burst into flames. And my lord, he was carrying a heavy wooden chest with golden handles. I followed him into the woods, and watched as he rode away to the north ! " he explained nervously.
Lofarr's eyes blazed with fury as he interrupted the little man again !
" And what did this vile creature look like ? " Lofarr demanded to know.
Vapni was slightly bolder as he continued.
" My lord, he was a big man with curly black hair, and a scruffy beard .... and there appeared to be a hint of grey to the color of his hair. More importantly, my lord, he had a long scar on his face that began above his...... right eye, and ran down to his chin. " he informed his chieftain.
Lofarr did not need to hear any more. He immediately headed for the door.
" Alrekr ! Gather my men together..... we will be heading north at once ! " he ordered.
As Lofarr opened the door he turned and looked back at Vapni.
" Thank you, Vapni ! I will reward you for your help ! " he told the farmer before turning and leaving.
" Killing that man will be reward enough for me, my lord ! " Vapni yelled after him.
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : The Chase
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.