Long ago in Norway, there lived a young woman... Aina was her name.
She was Truly The Sweetest and Most Beautiful in all the world at that time.
Her father was Hrorik, a wise and Mighty chieftan who had led Many valiant campaigns and blessed his people with just leadership and an intelligent agricultural structure. Truly a genorous soul, when he was fifty winters old Hrorik relinquished his seat as Cheiftan to his son, Ulfgar,a fierce but Honourable man whose wisdom far surpassed his youth. Hrorik was content to retire to a life of Farming and settled in a cottage a few leagues away from the Longhouse in which he once reigned. He was such a kind master that many of his Thralls followed him and continued to serve and guard him. Aina, loyal and gentle hearted also remained with her father. The winters passed and word of Aina's Beauty had spread all across The NorthLands. Many a suitor came in hope of courting and marrying the fairest of maidens; but one by one, Aina rejected them all. Hrorik was dismayed at this, for many a wellbred man of noble blood had come and gone; yet at the face of the pure hearted girl his Hard heart turned soft as cheese.
Some of the men, however well bred, were not so noble and several times when venturing out with her father and his thralls was Aina sought by force and each time, almost out of nowhere, from the tree's, always led by a Fierce warrior upon a Mighty Black steed, would come a host of men no larger than a single company; but each time routing the onslaught and driving the foul fiends away and riding out of sight.
Eventually the attempts became smaller and more covert; yet were they still anticipated and now The Warrior Came alone, slaying all who came against Hrorik to take the fair maiden, then riding off into the forest.
After a time, Aina began to admire the Helmed Hero, this vigilant guardian, ever watchful of her. She found herself longing to see him again. See him again she did. For one warm spring day, as She walked amidst the fields with four armed thralls at her guard, came five attackers. Three were slain by the loyal thralls; but with them fell three of the four. The remaining two villains were feign to make easy work of the one that remained and to joyfully carry the Maiden away; but out from the tree's Came The Hero Hearted and the head of the first he took. The second fled in coward's shame but The Warrior overtook him and wet his Mighty Sword with the vernum's heart's blood. Then, in his customary fashion, the Noble Protector made for the forest from which he came, and as he rode off Aina, the Beautiful called after him and pursued. Catch him she could not; but as away he rode, somthing fell from around his neck onto the path. Aina quickly siezed it and noted it as a piece of an amulet worn around the warriors neck, broken off by fate itself. She kept it always close to her Heart. The attacks ceased and with them, the appearances of The Noble Warrior. Aina, though happy to be free from fear, now began to miss the Brave man whose name she had never known, This Honourable thane who protected her honour at his own peril but never asked even the smallest boon in return; and vowed to herself that if she ever encountered him again, she would speak with him, and if she spoke with him, she would marry him.
Shortly after the next full moon, a stranger came to her fathers farm. The traveler inquired of Hrorik for lodging, Helgi the bail worker. Hrorik, never one to be sparing of hospitality, welcomed Helgi with joy and entertained the guest as if his own family. Helgi offered to work in the fields for Hrorik in exchange for lodging and food and Hrorik was all to happy to oblige him. "Surely ODINR has sent you young and strong and able minded to help this old man in this season of sowing".
Over the summer Aina and Helgi came to know one another. Many times, they walked the fields and groves together and grew close. Hrorik at first was worried, for he did not want his daughter to give her heart to a common bail worker; but after considering it, he thought it better for Aina to marry an honest and strong man than to not marry at all and decided that in such an event, he would give his blessing.
It came about that Helgi pledged his undying Love to Aina, who was both Joyed and dismayed, for though she Loved Helgi, she feared to leave her father to go with him; and she remembered The Warrior Brave and her vow. "O' Dearest man, I pray ye know, my darling that I Love you so; still with you I can never go". At this Helgi's Steel Strong Heart became as butter and knowing he could not hold back the tears for long, did not stay, weakness to display; but placed round her neck a parting gift, which hung round his since youth asking only that she remember him always. "Fare Thee Well, O' fairest of maidens all; and by this amulet our shared memories always recall".
With this, he rode off and only then did Aina look down at the adornment round her neck. Broken it was, indeed a piece had fallen off.. and then she wept, her tears like the Bhrine as she took the missing piece from near her heart which Helgi, her Hero fair had dropped on the path that fateful day. Hrorik approached from behind, her father bold and gently placing his strong hand on the shoulder of his grieving daughter and spoke: "True, there was much more to the noble man than met the eye".
Aina fell into her fathers arms and wept in his bosom.
Three Winters passed. The following spring, Hrorik, the honourable hero died, Sword in hand and taking the leg of the foul vermin who had questioned his courage. Full stricken from battle, the young wretch, not giving due respect to great age, the eagle's gourged. Well rid of such a degenerate, the village was. Pyre was raised as was the horn in Honour of the hero old.
Word quickly spread of Hroriks death, and as before, men of name began to make their way in attempt to claim Aina. Wiser in Winters and valueing her freedom, Aina gathered the remaining faithful thralls and fled through the countryside; for Ulfgar, though wise of mind, had become cold of heart, and would have given his sister to the well bred suitor, despite her protest. Encampment was made the first eve and the following morning, all was readied for the onward journey, loyal thralls, willing to sacrifice their humble lives for the protection of the honour of their master's daughter; and so they did. For on the way to their unknown destination, the onslaught came, mighty and wicked were the twenty one men who from the tree's charged. Poor thralls, unfit for battle, and poorly armed fought bravely as warriors true for love of the maiden who was as to them family, and had always been ever kind. One and all died, his and her honour full entact. One attacker remained with life in him, and dragging his mashed foot accross the ground in pursuit of his would be prize; he fell to the same, his head severed and put on spike for ODINR's Birds to feast upon. Alone, Aina the brave rode untill the sun was setting, and coming upon a great farm, dismounted beneath an apple tree and there fell faint into deep sleep.
Awaking with a start, she found herself abed in a longhouse, being warmly greeted by an old woman wise. With a kind smile she introduced herself "Lynn", A Vitki.
Seeing the fear in Aina's eye's, The woman quickly reassured her not to be afraid; "For your honour shall be safe, as long as you serve in The House of our good King." Aina could not believe how The NORN'S smiled on her. She had heard of The Good King, Who had avenged His father's death at the hand's of a foul and greedy bishop, an emassary of the christ god from the south. Upon taking the Throne, The Good King at once set the posted legion of cross sheilded soldiers fleeing and executed the lazy traitor's of kindred, known as "monk's"; stories of His Valour and Generousity had spread far and wide. Startled at such new's, Aina inquired, "King?" making certain she hadn't imagined Lynn's word's, "Ja, my dear girl. King Helgi".
As the leave's began to turn and the wind to chill, Lynn gazed westward over the sea and the setting sun. Placing a Large bundle of quilt's on a pile of several more like bundle's, Aina smiled up at her friend, this Kind Crone, Keen and Wise. "What trouble's you, old and wise; that you stare as if reaching with sight?" In truth, Aina knew what Lynn was looking for; Lynn had told Aina many time's of The Great campaign against the English Saxon's, who betrayed Blood and Troth for the interest's of commerce, which the christ god's follower's so vigorously promoted. Forsaking their Proud, Noble heritage of Heroic Strength for the blessing of a Roman king, known as a "Pope"; and violating the land granted their Warlike ancestor's By The AESIR through Blood, fire and steel, with the dogma of eastern cowardice, tyrant's. In rage at such shameless disgrace, and lack of respect for Sacred Ancestor's, and not wanting the infection of south eastern weakness to spread to The Sacred land's of The North, where Freedom and Honour were still very much Alive; King Helgi had led a fleet of Fifty ship's, with an Army of two thousand men to raid northern ireland, for the Glory and Profit of Norway and as a warning to the worshipers of weeping martyrs, that True Hero's still lived in The North. They had left in early spring, as was customary; but had not yet returned, and The Winter would be coming soon...
The orange, red, yellow and brown of the Ash tree's spread accross land and The Evergreen's filled the cool air with a sweet scent, as Aina and Lynn collected pinecone's, Aina pandered a question which had been on her mind since childhood; Lynn had become as a mother to Aina over the last two seasons and knew the look on Aina's face, and so inquired as to what Aina was pondering. "Why do the evergreen's remain green through all season's?" Lynn Smiled and opened her mouth as if to give confident answer when The sound of The Uruch Horn echoed across the village. With the excitement of a little girl, Lynn quickly took Aina's hand and began to run toward the LongHouse. Aina, suprised and curious as to this side to Lynn, which she had never before seen, was fain to ask what it was, though in Her Heart She knew and Lynn Answered in Joyful proclaimation, without being asked. "Quickly! Come! Our King has Returned!"
To be continued...