The Yule Promise
A Promise Kept
The stew that was simmering over the fire now seemed less appealing to her than when she had prepared it. Her appetite had been replaced by memories of Valdarr, which left her with an emptiness that no amount of food could satisfy. Eydis did not want to eat, preferring instead to lose herself in remorse and pity, but she was no longer alone in this world and needed to think of her child first. As she ladled out a portion of the stew onto her plate she looked over at the table and could not help but see the empty bench where Valdarr always sat. Once again the tears flowed uncontrollably.
After forcing herself to eat what she felt was enough food to sustain herself, and the health of her child, Eydis placed several logs onto the fire before curling up on her bed. It was here where Eydis missed her husband the most. Sex was only a small part of what she longed for. What she truly yearned for was the way Valdarr spoke to her, and how he made her laugh. She missed the way his hands ran through her hair, as he stroked it, and most of all she needed the strength and security he had provided her.
As she lay in bed, watching the fire make the shadows dance on the ceiling, she could not get the images of her husband out of her head. Some made her smile, but most brought with them more tears. None were conducive to getting a good night's sleep, and it was well past midnight before her mind shut down the images and let her rest peacefully.
Eydis was awakened by a loud thud at the front door. Not sure of what exactly she had heard in a state of mind halfway between sleep, and being fully conscious, she sat up in bed and listened for something more. What she heard as she strained her ears was a dull noise that she could not quite make out.
" Audhumla ! Did you get out of your enclosure again ! ? " Eydis yelled at what she thought might be one of her cows.
She listened again, but there was only silence this time. Reluctantly, Eydis got out of bed, threw her bear coat over her shoulders, and headed for the door. As she passed the table she reached down and grabbed hold of a knife, called a dirk, that her husband had taken from a dead warrior while fighting in Britain. There might be nothing to fear at her front door, but Odin taught his warriors to always be prepared.
Eydis lifted the latch on the door as quickly and quietly as she could manage. When it was free of the catch she flung the door open and held the knife out in front of her in a menacing manner, ready to strike out at anything that might threaten her.
At first Eydis did not see anything. Then, as her eyes slowly, and reluctantly, glanced down, she saw a hairy beast lying on her doorstep. With an involuntary scream she jumped back further inside the hut. She was about to reach out and shut the door when she realized that it was not a creature of the forest at all, but a man in a filthy, mangy looking bear coat. Eydis cautiously stepped forward and knelt down near the head of the man. With her left hand she lifted the man's head, while the dirk remained ready in the other to strike.
Her scream echoed through the hills, and was heard all the way in the village square in Saeheim.
" Valdarr !? Valdarr !! " Eydis yelled out in disbelief.
Eydis dropped her knife, and placed her husband's head on her lap. She slowly, and lovingly, stroked his dirty emaciated face as she began to tremble. A thousand questions ran through her mind as she rocked him back and forth. " How could this be ? ! Valdarr is dead ! King Eirik told us that all of Saeheim's warriors were killed ! " were just a few of these many thoughts.
Valdarr stared up at her with red blood shot eyes, which were sunken deeply in dark sockets. With a bony finger he reached up and touched her face.
" I kept my promise,.... I love you ! " was all he managed before his eyes rolled back into his head and life abandoned him forever.
" No ! No !! NO!!! " Eydis screamed as she forced her arms around her husband, and pressed herself tightly against him.
Eydis sat there holding her husband for quite some time, oblivious to the cool morning air, and her surroundings. The raven cawed hundreds of times before she finally looked over at the tree where it sat staring down at him.
" My husband's body is mine and not for you !! " she blubbered angrily at the raven.
Moments later she watched as a second raven landed onto a tree to the right of the first black bird. Eydis stood up, and was about to drag her husband's body inside, when suddenly something burst through the branches between the two trees scattering leaves everywhere in its wake. What Eydis saw was so incredible that she instantly stopped what she was doing. The sight made her body shake uncontrollably.
" How can this be ?! " she whispered.
Her eyes widened as the winged white horse glided down and landed near where she stood frozen in place. The rider, a female in full battle gear, slid off of the horse and nodded a greeting to her as she approached. The warrior woman stopped in front of where her husband lay. She reached down with a hand stronger than that of any man, and grabbed hold of him. With little or no effort she lifted Valdarr up and slung him over her shoulder.
" I am the Valkyrie Gondul, and I have come for the warrior Valdarr ! " the warrior explained coldly.
Eydis grew angry, and reached down for the knife she had dropped to stop the woman from taking her husband. As she did she saw that Valdarr's body was still lying on the ground where he had fallen. Eydis quickly glanced up and saw Valdarr also on the Valkyrie's shoulder. Back and forth her head jerked as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing.
Gondul understood what the Midgardian was going through and responded immediately.
" The body of your husband is yours to keep, and memorialize, but the essence of Valdarr the warrior belongs to Odin ! " she told Eydis with a hint of compassion.
Eydis began to cry.
" I was not able to tell my husband that he will soon have a child. " she barely managed through trembling lips.
Gondul stepped forward and placed her hand on Eydis' belly.
" He knows my dear, .... he knows ! " she whispered softly.
The Valkyrie turned and walked back to her winged horse. With almost no effort she mounted her great white steed with Valdarr still on her shoulder. Before she turned and left Gondul spoke to Eydis.
" Take good care of your son, for one day he will rule these lands ! " she told her.
Then the Valkyrie pointed to the ravens and added :
" Odin will be watching ! "
The winged horse spread its wings and took to flight. As it passed the ravens they fell in behind the Valkyrie. While Eydis stood watching the trio fly off in the distance, Ragnhilda, along with several other villagers, ran up to her. They, however, could not see what she could see.
" Are you alright !? What has happened here ! ? " Ragnhilda asked frantically.
Eydis smiled at her friend, and pointed to the body that lay on the ground between them.
" Valdarr has kept his Yule promise ! My husband has come home ! "
- The End
- Next Story : Odin and Frigga argue over which Midgardian should be the winner in : ' A Game Of War ' © 2018.
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.