As she slowly put on her coat of mail, sword belt, and helmet, Skogul reflected back on her meetings with Kolskegg. She decided that no matter what the consequences would be, her love for Kolskegg was honorable, and worth dying for. As she walked over to her steed she took once last look at the lake she had learned to swim in all those years ago. On the outside she put on a stoic face worthy of one of Odin' s proud maidens, but on the inside she wanted to cry.
Harbinger floated gracefully down, and landed softly a few feet in front of the steps to the great golden hall of Valhalla. For a brief moment Skogul thought of flying away and trying to hide in one of the other eight realms. She told herself, however, that she was many things, but a coward she was not. For better or worse she would face Odin and accept his final judgement. As Skogul dismounted she stroked Harbinger's neck, and kissed him on the snout. She knew that she would never see her faithful mount again. For even if Odin allowed her to live she would be cast out of Asgard. And these winged horses were the mounts of Valkyries, not mortals.
Skogul' s legs felt as if they weighed a hundred pounds each as she struggled up the many steps that led to the massive golden doors. When she reached the landing, she paused, and waited for the doors to open. She did not have long to wait. As the doors parted Skogul was met by the icy stare of the Goddess Syn. Heimdall may be the guardian of the rainbow bridge, but it was Syn who guarded the great hall when there were official gatherings. The Goddess stood stoic and proud as she spoke : " Valfather is waiting for you ! " she told the terrified Valkyrie. Syn turned and pointed her spear at the high - seat where Odin was seated at the end of the hall.
Skogul paused after stepping into the great hall. On both sides of the hall, leading up to the high - seats, her sister Valkyries were in battle armor, with eyes front, and standing at full attention. As Skogul allowed her eyes to travel from maiden to maiden she read their names off in her mind. " Hild, Hrist, Mist, Skeggjold, Thrud, Hlokk, Herfjotur, Goll, Randgrid, Radgrid, Reginleif, Gunn, and Gondul. " Then at last her gaze caught sight of Odin in the brightly lit hall .... and next to Valfather stood Geirahod with a wicked smile upon her face.
Although her eyes were watering she braced herself and decided that she would not cry. Skogul took a deep breath and walked toward the great high - seat of Odin. As she passed each of her sister Valkyries they turned their backs on her in a show of no confidence. Skogul watched each of them in turn for she wanted to remember their faces.
Skogul slowly continued on her way until she reached her friend Gondul. There she paused for a moment, and looked into her friends eyes. If she expected a different outcome from her life long friend she did not receive it. Gondul turned her back on her in exactly the same way as her sister Valkyries. Skogul could no longer hide her pain, and the tears that welled up in her eyes now poured down her cheeks. As she continued on she was unaware that her friend Gondul was crying as well.
Skogul stopped a few feet from where Odin sat. Geirahod glared down at her sister with an angry grin as she leaned against Odin's high - seat. It was obvious that she was enjoying every moment of these proceedings. Skogul' s sorrow turned to anger when their eyes met !
Geirahod nodded sarcastically to her, but Skogul did not acknowledge her false greeting. " You have summoned me great Odin, and I am here ! " she told Odin through trembling lips.
Odin, who was in full battle armor, cleared his throat. The hall was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop as Odin spoke. " I have but one question to ask you Skogul. " he told her. " Are you willing to sacrifice everything for your human lover ? " Valfather asked. Odin then leaned back in his high - seat and stroked his beard as he awaited her answer.
Skogul tried to remain calm, and hold back the tears, but she failed miserably. " Yes ! Yes ! I will die for the man that I love ! " she blabbered through her tears.
Odin nodded while deep in thought, and then rose up from his high - seat. " Then you leave me no choice ! " he shouted so loudly that each of the Valkyries flinched at his words.
Odin slowly stepped down from his high seat, and stood directly in front of Skogul. " For saving the human' s life, I take from you your shield ! " he shouted. Odin took the shield and flung it across the floor violently.
Odin then removed her sword belt. " Because you lay with a human I take back from you the sword I gave you ! " he screamed as he let it drop onto the floor of the hall.
The helmet was next as he grabbed it with one hand, and ripped it off her head. " I take from you your helmet because you struck Gondul ! " he told her as he pressed his nose against hers.
Odin reached down and undid the straps that held on her body armor. He allowed them to fall and crash on the floor as well. " Your armor you forfeited when you injured your sister Geirahod in battle ! " he shouted as he pointed toward her sister who still leaned against his high - seat.
Odin then walked behind Skogul and ripped off her swan wings. " And for disobeying the laws of Odin I take away your right to be a Valkyrie ! " he told her angrily.
Geirahod could not hide her joy at seeing her sister Valkyrie stripped of everything. She had received from Odin the justice she felt she rightly deserved. As she smiled from ear to ear she wondered if Odin would pass a judgement of death on her as well.
Skogul dropped to her knees in shame when Odin stripped her of the wings she had earned so many years before. The Valkyrie could not help feeling totally disgraced, and Skogul no longer cared if she lived or if she died. She had lost her sisters, the Gods, and her lover ! There was nothing left to live for !
Valfather knelt beside Skogul and lifted her head in his hands. Skogul thought that the end was near, but instead of breaking her neck Odin whispered in her ear. " You must go now ! King Kolskegg needs you ! ..... and so too does Norway ! "
Odin then turned away from Skogul and pointed to Gondul. " I order you Gondul to take this human to Midgard where she belongs ! " he commanded loudly.
As Gondul escorted her stunned former sister out of the great hall, Odin walked back to his high - seat, and sat down. He smiled to himself as the Valkyries, each in turn, nodded to him out of respect, and then left the hall. He had preserved the honor of the Valkyries, and he was able to save his own dignity in the process. Most of all, however, wise Odin had received the one thing he wanted more than anything else..... A king to one day unite all of Norway !
Skuld looked up from the tapestry that she was weaving. She did not have to look behind her to know that Freyja had magically appeared there. Like a whisper upon the wind Freyja spoke to her. " Thank You my friend ! " she told her. Skuld nodded, but did not turn to face the Goddess. As she began to weave a new future for King Kolskegg, Queen Skogul, and Norway, she did something she had never done before.... she smiled !
- Next Story : The Sea Draugr : A Tale Of The Undead
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.