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Jane Sullivan

Jane Sullivan

28 янв. 2022, 12:5328.01.22

Jane Sullivan

The original author's spelling is retained.



The wind howling, the clouds swirling in a darken sky
Darkness consumes all the shadows, then retreats a little upon the light of fire
Lambent, rustling on the ground, in the hall, dangling from the ceiling, within sight
Of a tall, sturdy figure, sinking in thoughts, his eyes rest upon
The blurry vision of the Deep Forest afar, from where his troops emerged
A few days ago. But it feels to him as if many moons had gone by.

“You need to rest, my Lord,” said a low quiet voice,
Awaking Ubba the Great from his contemplation.
“No news of Sibba?” he asked, as Einar sat down on the bench.
“None has come from the scouts we sent,” Einar replied.
Ubba couldn’t stop but sighed.
His thought started to wander,
But was stopped in its track,
By his loyal warrior who spoke firmly,
“My Lord, we have all known
That the treacherous journey
That he embarked on
Was his choice alone;
He took it upon himself
To retrieve what we lost.
We have our own battle, and he has his.”

Ubba remained silent. “Our battle…” he thought.
He scanned the space ahead.
His comrades, his soldiers, his shield maidens,
Some on the benches, some on the ground,
Lounging, their backs against the walls,
With shields, swords, axes and spears by their side.
The hollowness on their faces has become visible.
“We are just small men, aren’t we?” he thought quietly.

“I don’t trust that stranger,” Ubba finally broke his silence.
“You mean Viva the Alfr? Didn’t she show us the way out
Of that deadly forest?” Einar protested and added,
“She claimed that she acted upon the Gods’ order…”

“The Gods didn’t answer our prayers!
We were slaughtered, weren’t we?
That woman was probably just a trickster,
And Sibba just fell for her trickery!”
Ubba let his rare moment of grief
Out in the open.

Einar gazed at his warlord – a man of stature, of gumption
Of great battles that had seen many towers falling under his feet.
In front of him now was a man losing his own battle of emotion.
But who wasn’t after all the slaughters
In the enemy’s strongholds, and in that gorge?
Just a month ago, nobody didn’t believe
That victory was in sight.
But the tide had turned,
And defeat came after defeat.
Their fallen soldiers had ascended Valhalla,
But not those in the gorge,
Who were poisoned and fell to madness,
Then turned against each other
And died a dishonorable death.
Their souls were trapped
In Helheim, the land of no return
Unless somebody guides them towards the light.

Einar leaned a bit forward.
“The Gods haven’t, my Lord,” he paused,
“Or maybe they did…but we haven’t listened hard enough.”

The wind howled, sweeping in and out,
Almost picking up the letters from the jarls
Who promised to send Ubba reinforcements
Off the table.
Ubba put his hand on the letters.
He returned the gaze to Einar.
Looking as if having just broken out of his somber mood,
He started to speak in a calmer tone,
“So that shield maiden and Sibba…If they succeed…” he paused.

Einar nodded, “Even if it is a sliver of hope.
Because we never know what would happen in Helheim.”

Their conversation was cut short
By the sound from one of the watchmen’s horns
And a flurry of activity outside.
The sound from the horn suddenly stopped dead.
The enemy! They are here!
Their shadows crouching in from ahead.

The order was shouted and spread quickly among his rank and file.
Ubba stood ready, “FORM RANKS! FORM RANKS!”

The shadows were looming larger
And seemed to be of many different troops.
Ubba looked intensely ahead. “Could it be?”
A thought quickly crossed his mind.
And then it dawned on him…
“Jötnar! Those giants! FORM RANKS NOW!”
He yelled at the top of his lungs.
He marshalled his forces to form a wall of shields,
With his archers all in position.

Ubba turned to his soldiers, his voice loud and clear,
“My warriors! My comrades! This is our destiny!
Our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers in Valhalla,
Are looking upon us. They are breathing, and so are we.
We shall stand or we shall die.
Keep on! To Valhalla!’

“TO VALHALLA!” Everybody chanted,
Tearing the night apart.