In the North of the realm of Humans, there was a kingdom called Baldr. The climate was always warm there, as if it was always spring and so, it was also called the ‘Kingdom of Spring’. There were two princesses in Baldr, Geironul and Skogul.
The elder sister, Geironul, was well-built and active, but could never master the manners princesses should have or battle strategies. Skogul, the younger sister, was quite the opposite of Geironul. She was weaker but incredibly intelligent. She would never forget what she had learnt.
As the North battled the Demons, even the princess, Geironul and Skogul, had to master battle tactics to protect Baldr. Today, like any other day, their teacher lectured them about how to efficiently use different landforms to their advantage during battles. Geironul had no idea what the teacher was talking about while Skogul kept nodding her head.
Teacher: Now, analyze this battle with me. Let’ s see how you would handle this battle if you were the leader.
The teacher spread a map on the desk and placed chess pieces of two colours on the map. The number of red chess pieces was not only twice as many as the green, they almost completely surrounded the green chess pieces as well. Only one path was open, but it headed towards a lake…
Teacher: Green chess pieces represent Baldr’s forces. Red chess pieces are the Demons.
Teacher: How would you lead the green chess pieces out of the encirclement?
Geironul: As there’s no path behind us, of course I’d lead the army to go fight in the front!
Geironul: Those who have shields could protect their fellow soldiers. We would attack our way out!
Teacher: What if the Demons blocked your path and your soldiers were out of energy, then what would you do?
Skogul: Teacher, did the battle take place in winter? Was the lake frozen?
Teacher: The battle took place during the cold winter. The harsh snowstorm covered the entire land and the lake nearby was already frozen.
Skogul: Great! Then I’ve figured out how to lead the army out.
Upon hearing their teacher’s answer, Skogul smiled and turned to the map. Her pale hand moved the green chess pieces as she said,
Skogul: With the lake already frozen, I would ask the soldiers to leave their weapons and carry the lightest gear.
Skogul: Then I’d lead the soldiers and cross the frozen lake through the snowstorm. In a normal situation, the Demon army would continue to pursue us.
As Skogul moved the chess pieces, the green ones were already on the other side of the lake while the red ones still stood on the frozen lake.
Skogul: As it’s hard to see through the snowstorm, they would be blinded by satisfaction without realizing that they have in fact fallen into a trap.
Skogul: Although the lake is frozen, the ice isn’t very thick.
Skogul: After our army crossed the frozen lake, tiny cracks would have appeared on the ice’s surface.
Skogul: So, after our army finished crossing the lake, we’ll break the ice…
As Skogul continued to explain, she pushed the first row of red chess pieces down with her fingertips, and like dominos, the other red chess pieces at the back fell down as well.
Skogul: Wearing heavy armour above the freezing water, there’s nothing the Demons can do but fall deep into the cold lake.
Teacher: That’s surprising. The leader at the time led the army out by crossing the frozen lake, but he didn’t defeat the Demons like you did.
Skogul’s leadership skills were highly praised by the teacher, who believed her plan was even better than the leader at that time. However, she wasn’t content about it. She continued to work hard and learn different battle tactics and pursue knowledge, hoping that she would be able to utilize her skills and knowledge in the future.
One day, after the King reproved Geironul for embarrassing him, she stormed out the castle crying. Skogul, who was worried about her sister, followed Geironul and saw her leave the castle on a horse. Skogul knew that her sister tried her best to meet their parents’ expectations. However, some things never change. Seeing her sister behave like this for the first time, Skogul decided to give her sister some time alone to calm down.
That night, Skogul heard her sister's door open and close. She knew her sister was back. As a princess, Skogul should have slept already, but she could not fall asleep, not when she was waiting for her sister. She crept towards Geironul’s room and opened the door. She never thought that she would ever see her sister brandishing a spear. It was powerful and brilliant, quite the opposite to the elegant social dance princesses learnt.
Skogul: Sister, where did you…?
Geironul: This? It’s a long story. Sit here, let me tell you.
Lying in bed, the sisters chatted until the dawn. Skogul told her about a strange old man she met outside the castle and how he taught her the spear. After a while, Geironul loved to drink the wine the old man gave her.
However, secretly learning the spear and drinking wine were not the proper things a princess should do. At first, Skogul kept her sister’s secrets, as she thought it was okay as long as her sister was happy. However, she never thought that Geironul's attitude would turn for the worse. Geironul paid no attention to the courses they had to attend and only wanted to learn more about the spear from the old man.
Today, Geironul and Skogul were supposed to have manner class as usual. However, Geironul didn't show up to class.
Skogul and the tutor ordered the servants to go look for her, just to find Geironul still sleeping in her room…
Skogul: Sister! You can’t behave like this! Don’t you know that we’re waiting for you?
Geironul: Is it you, Skogul? I have a headache and I’m incredibly sleepy. Just don’t be noisy…
Skogul: I know you’re not doing well in these courses, but these are things we as princesses need to know! You can’t be this irresponsible!
Geironul: You really think you're that intelligent? Smart enough to look down upon your own sister?
Geironul: You are nothing but a sheltered child, you can’t even live a day alone outside the palace!
The sisters blushed and quarrelled furiously. Both of them said things they shouldn't have said. Skogul cried and left the room while Geironul angrily banged the door shut. Knowing her sister was doing something wrong, Skogul decided to stop keeping her sister's secrets. She needed to set things right.
Therefore, she told her father all of her sister's secrets. The King hesitated at first, but he knew Skogul would never lie. He went to Geironul’s room. To his surprise, he actually found a spear and numerous bottles of wine! The King and Geironul began arguing. At the end of their quarrel, Geironul’s treasured spear was broken in half by the angry King, who even locked Geironul in her room. Since that day, Skogul no longer spoke to her sister…
Since Geironul was confined in her room by the King, Skogul no longer spoke to her sister. Skogul stood outside her sister’s room numerous times, but she could never say a single word. After a while, the King needed to leave the palace for a military inspection. Before he left, he went to find Geironul but she refused to see him. The King unlocked her door and sighed. He then left with the army.
After the King left, he would send a messenger to the palace everyday to report on his situation. Skogul would then write to her sister about their father. One day, just when everyone thought it was another ordinary day, an injured soldier was carried back by his horse! In a panic, everyone helped to place the soldier onto the floor and called for the doctor.
Skogul: What happened?
Soldier: Princess Skogul…Big trouble…His Majesty…
Soldier: was raided and surrounded by the Demons…I did my best… to escape and report to you all…
Skogul was petrified. It was not until the ministers kept calling her name and asking her how they should resolve the issue did she snap back to reality and order a servant to bring a map of Baldr to the hall.
Based on the King's daily reports, Skogul estimated the King's position. However, she could not simply rely on bookish battle tactics, so even if they knew the King's position, they did not have enough understanding of the terrain. Thus, it was difficult to come up with a rescue plan…
While Skogul and the ministers were in distress, Skogul suddenly thought of Geironul, who always travelled outside the castle. Disregarding her proper princess manners, Skogul lifted her skirt and ran to her sister’s room. She raised her hand, thinking of whether or not to knock on the door…
However, this was an emergency, she should put the past behind her. She firmly knocked on the door and told her sister to open the door. However, the door didn't open. Skogul could only place her head next to the door and wept,
Skogul: Sister, father is surrounded by the Demon army…I can’t think of a way to save him…
After a while, the door finally opened. Skogul, who had been leaning against the door, fell into Geironul’s arms.
Skogul: Sister, I’m sorry…
Geironul: It’s not the time to say sorry. Tell me what's going on with father.
Skogul: Father's hiding in this crater but is completely surrounded by the Demons. With the place surrounded, what can we do?
Geironul: Crater and cave…Perhaps I know how to rescue him.
Geironul drew a route on the map, ordered the army to equip lightly, and set off as soon as possible. Skogul looked at her sister confusingly. She could not understand her sister’s plan: Our army would be at a disadvantage, why ask the soldiers to equip lightly? The route you drew on the map requires direct contact with the Demons, wouldn't that put father at further risk? At that moment, Geironul walked up to her sister and lifted her onto the horse.
Looking at her sister's back in front of her, Skogul felt safe. Geironul led the troops through the forest, taking skillful turns that swiftly led towards a particular place. All of a sudden, Geironul stopped and signalled the troops to halt. There was a tunnel in front.
Geironul: Everyone, this tunnel leads to the cave where the King is located! Go carefully. Don’t let the Demons discover us
Led by Geironul, everyone lit their torches, entered the tunnel, and carefully moved forward. Even in the dark, Skogul was calm because she realized her sister's decisions were not careless. All of her decisions were based on her understanding of Baldr. Just when Skogul wanted to tell her sister something, they heard the clang of iron against the stone wall coming closer and closer…
Led by Geironul, Skogul and the cavalry entered the crater and headed towards the King's location. All of a sudden, Geironul and Skogul heard the clang of iron against the stone wall! Geironul raised her hand to signal the cavalry to stop while trying to get a hold of the situation…
The noise came closer and closer while everyone grabbed hold of their weapons. Even Skogul couldn't help but grab her sister's clothes. If the noise came from the Demons, a battle in this narrow tunnel would commence.
A shadow appeared. Skogul looked closer and saw that it was her father and his close guard! Skogul jumped off the horse, ran to her father, and hugged him. Geironul also got off the horse and walked up to her father. Seeing that he was alright, Geironul almost cried. The King gestured her to come closer and the three of them hugged.
Skogul: It’s great to see that you’re alright.
Geironul: We're not safe yet. The Demons will soon realize that they're no longer in the cave. Let’s go.
They quickly got back on their horses and headed towards the entrance of the tunnel. Suddenly, they heard numerous footsteps echo in the cave! They also heard the Demons’ strange laughter. The cave amplified their laughter, scaring everyone. As the horses galloped, they were almost out of the tunnel. However, the Demons continued to pursue them. They knew that if they couldn't find a way to block their enemies' path, the Demons will eventually bring harm to the Kingdom.
Skogul: Think! What did the teacher teach us in class…
All of a sudden, grey clouds covered the sky. It began to rain and lightning flashed across the sky!
Skogul: Cave, wet stone wall, crater, heavy rain…Wait! How can I not figure this out?
Skogul: Father, sister! Leave this place. I'll be able to hold them off with a couple of soldiers!
Geironul: I’ll stay with you! Father, please believe in us!
Even though the King did not want to go, there was no other way. The King needed to go back to the palace and mobilize the other troops.
Skogul: Everyone, please use your weapons to hit the stone wall! We have to make the cave wall vibrates!
Geironul and the soldiers kept hitting the cave with their weapons. Even Skogul threw stones at the stone wall. Suddenly, a strong vibration echoed through the cave. Skogul then asked everyone to step back. The ground sank as if it was hollow underneath. The tunnel was then gradually buried by soil and rubble.
All Demons entering the cave were buried and killed. Those who were inside the crater couldn't climb out as the soil became wet. As Skogul wasn't sure if her plan would work, even she was shocked by this turn of events. It was only because there was no other way did she dare to try it. Geironul ran to her to give her a hug . Avoiding mortal danger, the two sisters burst into tears.
Skogul: It was you, my sister, who saved father…
Geironul: If you weren't here, we couldn’t have stopped the Demons.
Skogul: I’m sorry, my sister…I shouldn’t have told father your secrets.
Geironul: I should also apologize. I shouldn’t have said hurtful things to you.
The sisters had resolved their issues and both apologized for their mistakes in the past. The pain of all the things they had once said to hurt each other were gone and their emotional wounds have been healed. Skogul now understood that her sister was good at what she exactly lacked. She decided that in the future, she would rule the Kingdom with her sister. She believed this was the only way for Baldr to become a stronger kingdom.