Blenda : Sweden's Greatest Heroine
The Plan Revealed
After Torhilda left with the ' fiery cross ' Blenda chose two women, Ellitze and Lussa, who were known for their exceptional riding skills, and sent them south to shadow the Danish army as it slowly moved north. Before they left she told them to be careful not to be seen, and to report back as often as possible with the enemy's ever changing position. This was important because Blenda needed to know exactly how much time she had to prepare the trap she was planning, or it could all go wrong, and everything would be lost.
The information that her spies relayed back to her was actually quite encouraging ! It seemed that the taking of women and children as prisoners to be sold into slavery was slowing up the Danish army considerably. If this continued it would give the Smalanders plenty of time to gather and train their forces, and to plan the destruction of the Danish army down to the last detail.
Blenda had all of the women in Varnslanda help to build massive tables and benches outside of her great hall. If she was to throw a great feast for thousands of Danish warriors Blenda knew she would need much more space than the cramped confines of her hall to accommodate them. She confided to her friend Gerthrud that her plan was to feed the cruel Danes with so much food that they could not move, and ply them with so much drink that they would be incapable of defending themselves against an attack, even if that threat came from simple village women.
Blenda was worried, however, that the Danes would surely post guards on the perimeter of the village. Unlike their comrades they would not be allowed to join in the festivities, and therefore would still be in possession of all of their faculties when they attacked. She was concerned that these few warriors might just be enough to tip the balance of power in favor of the drunken Danes.
It was Gerthrud who came up with a devious plan to take care of these sentries.
" I think a scantily clad maiden offering poisoned mead to a thirsty guard will take care of that problem . " Gerthrud told Blenda with a little smile.
" Do you know of such a poison ? " Blenda asked.
Gerthrud grinned happily.
" There is a tiny berry that grows in the forest that I believe will do nicely. " she explained with a laugh.
They came not in their hundreds, but in thousands to Bravellir ! These maidens, and housewives young and old, brought with them every weapon imaginable. From the simplest walking stick, to be used as a club, to the most ornate of swords, that were almost as large as the women carrying them, these maidens came prepared to fight and die for their husbands, their children, and their lands. More importantly they carried with them their anger and indignation that these Danes were trying to take advantage of the Smalanders while their husbands, brothers, and fathers were away fighting in Norway. They were all more than willing to die protecting their homes and folk, but they were not sure how women, untrained in the skills of war, could defeat a battle hardened army of Danes. As they gathered upon the hill overlooking the village they patiently awaited the one who had summoned them with the fiery cross.
Blenda waited until Torhilda returned before ascending to the top of Bravellir with Gerthrud to address those gathered there. Halfway up the hill they were joined by Ellitze, who quickly briefed Blenda on the latest position of the Danish forces. As they reached the summit Blenda nodded politely to the anxious women, who she passed along the way, but she said nothing until she had made her way to the edge of the hill that overlooked the village below.
As Gerthrud called out to the women on the hill to settle down, and listen, Blenda drew the ' Dagger of Destiny ' from her belt in a dramatic fashion that a Greek actor centuries before would have been proud of. When only the whisper of the wind could be heard Blenda began :
" Ladies ! Warrior women of the Konga Harad ! I have summoned you here with the fiery cross to warn of an impending danger so grave that it will affect each and every one of you ! And this cataclysm may change, if we allow it, the very future of our sacred lands, and destroy all that our beloved ancestors have handed down to us ! " she told them, and then paused to heighten the effect.
Blenda walked over to a young woman who was sitting on the ground, and gently grabbed her under the arms to help her up.
" What is your name friend ? " Blenda asked.
The woman nervously looked around at the other women before answering.
" My name in Pernilla. " she told Blenda warily.
Blenda walked Pernilla over to the edge of the cliff and pointed her dagger down at the village.
" If foreigners came to our land and threatened our homes and our families would you defend Smaland ? " she asked.
Surprised by the bluntness of the question, Pernilla raised her eyebrows as she answered.
" Of course I would . " she responded in a rather timid voice.
Blenda then turned and pointed her dagger at the rest of those gathered on the hill.
" I do not believe that they can hear you. " Blenda told the nervous woman.
" I would proudly defend the Konga Harad, and all of Smaland if I could ! " Pernilla shouted boldly.
Blenda patted the woman on the shoulder.
" And if it cost you your life ? " Blenda asked.
Pernilla stuck out her chest and screamed.
" To save my children, my husband, and all of my folk, I would gladly sacrifice myself ! "
Blenda placed her arm around Pernilla and pulled her close as she pointed her knife at the women gathered about.
" And how many of you will also give your all to defend what is ours ?! " Blenda demanded to know.
Every woman on the Bravellir pulled their knives from their sheaths and held them high over their heads in a salute of solidarity. And a single phrase rang out to the valley below :
" I will ! I will !! I will !!! " came from each of these brave women.
When the roar quieted down Blenda turned back to the edge of the small cliff and looked down on Varnslanda. With Pernilla still by her side she spelled out her plan to the womenfolk :
" That tiny little village below will be the battleground on which we free our sacred lands from the Danish hoard that has violated us with their very presence ! The prettiest women among us will be the lure that makes these Danes let down their guard. And you,...., all of you,.... the women of the Konga Harad, will be the sharp instrument of their destruction ! " she told the gathering.
Another roar rose up from the women, this time even louder than the first. Once again Blenda waited for the noise to quiet down before continuing.
" The pretiest women here will seduce the Danish men into coming into the village where we will serve them so much ale and food that they will no longer be able to function as great warriors. And when they are asleep, or in much distress over how much they ate and drank, you will come down to the village and help us to kill each and every one of these evil Danes ! " she told them with a huge grin.
This time Blenda did not wait for the cheering to die down. She raised her hands in the air to let them know she had more to say .
" Some of you may be offended because you are not chosen as being beautiful enough to seduce the Danes into the village. I assure you that it is not only necessary, but most imperative to make the Danes come to the village peacefully for our plan to work. " she explained to them, and then paused.
" And if it is any comfort to those who are not chosen,.... well,.... those selected to entice the Danes into the village will more than likely be the first to die ! " she told them.
Blenda then went from woman to woman on the hill and tapped on the shoulder those who would accompany her down to the village. The scout Ellitze, Pernilla, and her friend Gerthrud would be joined by the maidens Byrghita, Hilla, Inger, Vendela, Runa, Yliana, Sibilla, and Unna to go out and meet the Danes.
Blenda then walked over to the old shieldmaiden Torhilda and placed her hands on the woman's shoulders.
" And you.... " Blenda began.
Torhilda cut her off, and did not allow her to finish.
" I am no longer young, nor am I pretty enough to seduce men at this stage of my life. Do not feel bad that you could not choose me. " she told Blenda with a smile.
Blenda, however, had no intentions of apologizing, or explaining why she had not chosen the older woman to join them. With the ' Dagger of Destiny ' still in one hand she reached down with the other and pulled Torhilda's sword from it's scabbard, and handed it to the woman.
" I do not need a woman of great beauty, or one with firm breasts, and a flat stomach, to lead these women down to the village against the Danes. What I need is a shieldmaiden who will not falter at the most critical moment in our history,... and you, shieldmaiden Torhilda, will lead our little army of maidens, because you are the finest warrior among us ! " she explained to Torhilda proudly.
" I am greatly honored ! But how will I know when to attack ? " she asked.
" I will light a signal fire on the edge of the forest. If you come quickly, and quietly, we cannot fail ! " she explained.
Torhilda held the sword high over her head proudly.
" WE WILL NOT FAIL ! " she shouted for all to hear.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : The Invitation
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.