Riding on his horse through the forest, long blonde hair flowing in the wind, snow falling all around him. Rothar needed to get back to his village as fast as he could.They needed to know what was headed their way. He knew that if he did, Rothar and Jarl Forgason, the villages chief, would have ample time to react. The villages militia, although small, was more than enough to defeat what was coming after them. Jarl Forgason’s rival, Jarl Worthan, and his army were the ones that were going to try to surprise attack them. Rothar had been out to do some trading with another village when he saw the enemy force mobilizing. He also heard someone say they were about to attack a village, didn’t say which one, but it was pretty obvious which one they were talking about.
Rothar knew that their was a shortcut through the woods. He had used those shortcuts as a kid whenever he needed to get home before the sun went down and the wolves came out. His only worry was that, in his haste, he would make a wrong turn. This did not happen and he came out of the forest to see his village sitting on the banks of the nearby Velthrik River. Rothar rode past the snow-covered wooden houses, and over to the Jarl’s house. He hoped that he would be there, otherwise he knew that he and all the other people in the town would be at the bar. Riding up to Forgason’s home, Rothar had an eerie feeling. Where was everyone? Usually there was at least one person walking around the village, but there wasn’t a single person in sight. Rothar knew that the first thing he needed to do was find the Jarl.
He found the house, walked through the door and… Why was everyone standing around. One girl, turned towards him, tears streaming down her young pale face. The Jarl was laying on his bed. His body lifeless. Rothar turned towards the villagers to see everyone’s faces stricken with grief. He didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but he now knew why Worthran was going to attack.
“Attention everyone! The Jarl live a great life. He was the greatest man I have ever known and he will be missed dearly, but earlier today I saw Jarl Worthran and his men mobilizing for war. I fear that they have probably heard the news of Forgason’s passing, or were the ones that caused it. Nonetheless all men fit to fight, we should get our weapons ready for a great battle.”
The women’s faces that were listening to him changed from grief to panic. They didn’t want more people to die. Nobody wanted that to happen. They just wanted to mourn the Jarl’s death in peace. The men however, were riled up and ready to fight for the Jarl.
“We fight tonight!” a man shouted, and the rest of the men cheered. They all ran back to their homes and grabbed their weapons and armor. Rothar felt like they could stand up to any invader.
Rothar and the men slept out side that night just in case a night raid were to happen. Morning struck and sure enough, Jarl Worthran and some of his men walked up to the warriors.
“We heard about the death of Forgason. I am here to show my condolences.” Jarl Worthran said to the men.
“Is that really why you are here, or is there some other reason you are here.”
“If you’re wondering if I’m going to take this place. You have no need to worry. Jarl Forgason and I may have been rivals, but I am a man of principles. I want to see him have a proper ceremony for his death. He deserves the best Valhalla has to offer since he is only leader to have beaten me on the field of battle.”
“We are to set his body on fire in order to send his soul to Valhalla, if you would like to attend.” Rothar said, “But, I don’t trust you.”
Later in the day, the ceremony was being prepared for Jarl Forgason. A priest to Odin had come to perform the ritual. They sent the Jarl’s body out on a wooden boat and set it on fire. The women wept and the men were trying to keep themselves from attacking Worthran as the burning boat floated down the river. The whole situation was made worse because of on Worthran’s men started to flirt with a village woman. Jarl Worthran saw this and commanded the man to stop what he was doing.
Rothar couldn’t figure out why someone who seemed to hate Forgason would want to pay his respects to him, and also what village was he going to attack?
“Worthran, can I have a word with you in private?” Rothar asked.
The two walked into Rothar’s house.
“Why did you do this? Why would you come to your rivals funeral?”
“He might have been my rival, my enemy, but he was also my brother.”
Shocked to hear this Rothar asked, “Your brother? He never mentioned that he had any relatives.”
“He never mentioned it because we swore to kill one another after mother died. Forgason blamed me for mother’s illness. So that’s why he hated me. Father died in battle shortly after mother and we separated and went to the villages we are, or were, Jarl’s of.”
“One more thing, yesterday I rode by your village while going to do some trading. I heard one of your men say that you were going to invade a village. Was that not this village?”
“We have been at odds with a village in the mountains for some time now. We are planning to go to war soon. That is probably what you had heard the men talking about.”
“Okay, thanks for clearing all of that up for me.”
The two walked out into the village square. Rothar told everyone to calm down and to let Worthran and his men leave in peace. When the men left, the village elected a new leader and Rothar became the new Jarl.
The snow continued to fall on the village making a white blanket over the ground. Everything was peaceful once more.