Forbidden Love :
A Story Of The Goddess Lofn
For days King Harjulf had chased the Jamtalanders all over Herjardalr and now, at the border between their two kingdoms, he had caught up to his nemesis King Vifinnr. Once again the King of Jamtaland had positioned himself on the top of a small defensible hill. This time, however, King Harjulf did not see a way to outflank his enemy without entering Jamtaland and possibly becoming trapped in the territory of his enemy. The King of Herjardalr carefully assessed the situation he tried to decide whether he should risk attacking King Vifinnr on his formidable hill, or allow him to slip back into Jamtaland without a fight. As he wrestled with this difficult decision two riders galloped towards his position from the south at a hard gallop. Judging from the way they were pushing their mounts Harjulf deduced that they had important information to convey to him.
" Possibly it will be good news ! " the King of Herjardalr whispered to himself. Unfortunately he had never been so wrong in his entire life.
" King Harjulf ! King Harjulf !! " the lead rider screamed from a hundred yards away.
When the messenger came within twenty feet he pulled up his horse, and slid out of his saddle onto the ground before his mount had fully stopped. The frantic warrior stumbled forward a few feet before kneeling before the king.
" King Harjulf ! Queen Helga has sent me to inform you that the Swedes have massed their forces on our eastern border, and it is believed that King Ring has declared war upon both us and the Jamtalanders, my lord ! " he conveyed to the king despite breathing very hard.
Harjulf could not believe what he was hearing ! With a look of utter disbelief plastered on his face the king rubbed his head nervously as he let sink in what he had just been told.
" We have always been on fairly good terms with King Ring. Why would he suddenly, and without any warning, declare war upon our tiny kingdom ? " he asked no one in particular.
When the second courier reined in his horse next to the first messenger he remained in his saddle, while the first to arrive stood up before answering the king's question.
" I do not know my lord, but the queen urges you to see if any of our allies can come to our aid. " he told the king.
Harjulf shook his head out of sheer frustration.
" I am engaged with the Jamtalanders. There is no time to make alliances, gather forces, and march off to defend our kingdom from the damned Swedes. The only army close enough to help us has fortified the hill in my front and is, as we speak, awaiting our attack ! " he shouted angrily at the messenger.
The terrified courier swallowed involuntarily before he asked his next question.
" Then,...., what should I tell Queen Helga, my lord ? " he reluctantly asked.
King Harjulf looked around at his commanders as if he were hoping that one of them would have the answer to this most perplexing dilemma that they now faced. When he saw that none of them seemed to know what to do either he exhaled and shook his head again.
" Tell the queen to retreat with her guard north and west as quickly as she can ! " the king told him.
After the messenger mounted his horse, and quickly galloped away, the King of Herjardalr turned and gazed off into the distance at the Jamtalanders he had only moments ago been considering to attack. Suddenly, however, that enemy did not seem all that important to him.
Almsteinn quickly led his guards out to stop the rider who was galloping from the north towards their hill position at full gallop. Long before the rider was able to reach his father, King Vifinnr, they intercepted him and boxed him in with their mounts.
" Halt ! State your business ! " Almsteinn shouted at the rider.
The warrior pulled on the left reins to turn his horse to face the warrior who had addressed him. When he faced the one who apparently was in charge he bowed slightly in his saddle.
" I am Thorvald ! Queen Jorunna has sent me to inform the king that the Swedes have declared war upon us ! King Ring, along with his sons Edmund and Erik have marched divisions of the Swedish army to the eastern borders of both Jamtaland and Herjardalr ! And the queen fears that they will attack any day now ! " he shouted impatiently to the warrior who was stopping him from relaying his message to the king.
Almsteinn turned his horse and rode up the hill. As he galloped away he turned and shouted back to his warriors.
" Bring that man ! My father will want to speak to him ! "
King Vifinnr listened intently to everything that Thorvald had to say. With each discouraging word his heart sank deeper and deeper into his stomach, and the king began to wish that he had never begun this never ending war with the Herjardalr. When the messenger was finished Vifinnr turned to his son and lowered his head.
" What can I do ? I am pinned down here on this hill by King Harjulf's army. If I try to escape east to defend my border against the Swedes I will open myself up to an attack from the rear, and might have to fight a battle on two fronts. And I doubt very much that the King of Herjardalr will agree to a general peace and allow us to leave unhindered. " he said dejectedly.
Almsteinn had never seen his father so worried. In the past he had always stood firm and resolute against all obstacles, and he had never allowed himself to be distracted, no matter the circumstances. Now, however, faced with a dilemma of epic proportions, the man he looked up to, the King of Jamtaland, seemed confused by a situation not of his making.
" What shall we do father ? " Almsteinn asked, fearing his father's response almost as much as the Swedes, or the Herjardalr.
Vifinnr slowly looked up at his son, and suddenly he looked old and weak. With a shrug of his shoulders, and a shake of his head he responded.
" I do not know. " he told his son sadly.
- End Chapter 10
- Next : Chapter 11 : The Bargaining Chip
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.