A Temptation Too Great
Most of the Valkyries had noticed that Skogul had gone from bad to worse. Odin's maidens began to gossip behind Skogul's back. They commented on how she often seemed lost in her daydreams as she scoured the battlefield for the dead, and how she would linger among their bodies for long periods of time for no apparent reason. Geirahod especially had been making mental notes about every wrong move that Skogul made. Geirahod no longer trusted her sister, and she was beginning to come to the conclusion that she was becoming a burden to the other Valkyries. Geirahod tried several times to talk the other Valkyries into asking for an audience with Odin to apprise their Lord of the situation. Gondul, however, always seemed to be there to talk her sisters from going to see the Valfather.
One evening Odin called his maidens to a battlefield in Norway that lay on the borders of Lade and More. As they flew overhead the Valkyries saw below them the remains of what was once two proud armies. It had obviously been a hard fought battle ! In several places the bodies had fallen one on top of the other which clearly showed just how compact and ferocious the fighting had been.
As Skogul picked up one of the honored dead her eyes scoured the field of battle for her beloved Kolskegg. She had not seen him for several phases of the moon, and did not no whether he was dead or alive. She feared finding the man she loved dead on the battlefield even more than she feared never seeing him again. Odin never let his einherjar fraternize with the Valkyries. Such activities were strictly forbidden ! And yet Skogul still wasted her precious time checking the dead to see if Kolskegg was counted among their number.
Gondul shook her head from side to side in disgust. " What in the nine worlds is wrong with you Skogul ! " she whispered to herself. The Valkyrie had been flying overhead when she spotted her friend holding a dead warrior in her arms as she looked around as if she were lost. " Skogul ! We must hurry sister ! There are many to be gathered from this battlefield ! " she reminded her friend as she kicked her horse into full flight.
" Yes, of course ! " Skogul shouted back. As she was turning to head back to her winged horse with one of the chosen, Skogul saw movement at the edge of the north woods. There were five warriors walking together, as far as she could tell from where she was standing. Two warriors stood on either side of a huge man as they walked. When the large man turned his head to speak to his comrades Skogul caught a glimpse of his light blonde hair and a beard that was braided on both sides. She did not have to see his blue eyes to know that this was the man that she loved. Skogul' s heart melted once again as she softly whispered : " Kolskegg ! " as if she were telling the dead warrior who he was.
Once again, however, the watcher was being watched ! Flying on her steed high above the battlefield, and with the keen eyes of an eagle, Geirahod was observing Skogul' s every move. And she did not like what she was seeing !
Skogul heeded Gondul' s warning, and continued to gather up the honored dead until they were all brought to either Valhalla or Folkvang. That night, however, while her sister Valkyries were sleeping Skogul silently left their bed chamber and went out to the field to get her horse Harbinger. As she mounted her winged steed, and flew into the night sky, Skogul thought that she had been discreet, and left unnoticed, but Geirahod, suspecting treachery, remained awake and saw her leave. Geirahod was not about to take any chances this time. She went over and woke up Radgrid to act as a witness to what was about to transpire.
Skogul' s heart pounded in her chest with the force of a blacksmith' s hammer striking an anvil ! The closer she came to the battlefield, on the border of More and Lade, the more intense the ache grew within her. The Valkyrie, who long ago had pledged her undying loyalty to Odin, the einherjar, and her sisters, had forsaken those sacred oaths for the love of a single man. There was nothing she could do to stop herself any longer. Her desire for Kolskegg was stronger than the fear she had for any retribution from Odin, or the lost respect of her sister Valkyries. Skogul was hopelessly in love, and now she was willing to risk everything for the man that she cared so much for !
Skogul set her great steed down on the edge of the forest near where she had seen Kolskegg, and walked the short distance to the More warriors camp. She stood hidden just beyond the outskirts of their camp, and watched intently every movement as Mani slowly crossed the night sky. Just as Mani reached his apex she saw a large man emerge from a tent near the center of the encampment. From his muscular build, and his flowing blonde hair, she knew in her heart that this was Kolskegg.
Kolskegg had had a little bit too much to drink before he bedded down for the night . When he awoke with the urge to urinate he cursed his great thirst, for the night air had a twinge of coolness to it, and his bed was quite warm. Kolskegg resisted for as long as he could, but when he could not wait any longer he threw off his bearskin blanket, and reluctantly left his tent to relieve himself. The great warrior walked to the edge of the camp and found himself a large pine tree to aim at. As Kolskegg stood before the massive tree trunk peeing he caught sight of something bright fluttering in the forest. Being in no position to do anything about what he was seeing out of the corner of his eye, Kolskegg finished his business, and went back to his tent. Instead of lying back down, he grabbed his sword and crawled out of the back of the tent. The warrior stayed low until he reached the forest, and then silently circled around the object that he had seen until he was directly behind it.
Skogul had her full attention directed at the tent that Kolskegg had gone into. She could not decide if she should wait a few moments before entering the camp, or if she should just run through the encampment to his tent. " No one would see her !" she thought to herself. But then she added : " But if Kolskegg could see her there was a possibility that someone else could too ! " Skogul never had a chance to decide ! Behind her she heard a twig snap, and before she could turn she felt a presence behind her. In one, much practiced spinning move, she turned completely around as she drew her sword.
" Do not move or I will kill you ! " Kolskegg commanded. In the blink of an eye, and before he could react, the intruder spun around, and with sword in hand threatened him. As Mani's glow settled over the intruder's face, Kolskegg began to laugh. " Why is it every time I meet you we have our swords drawn for battle ? " he asked the fair maiden who stood before him. Skogul gave Kolskegg a little grin. " I am a Valkyrie ! I am born and bred for battle ! " she told him in a teasing voice.
Kolskegg looked deeply into Skogul' s eyes. " Is there no love in your heart as well ? " he asked putting his sword away. The Valkyrie felt her cheeks become flushed as she blushed for the very first time. " There was none..... until I met you. " she told him shyly.
Kolskegg stepped forward until his chest almost touched her sword. " I have sheathed my sword. Will you not do the same ? " he asked. Skogul looked at his massive chest, and then at the tip of her sword. As her hand began to shake she placed her sword back in its scabbard.
The huge warrior reached out and gently stroked her cheek. His eyes never left her's as he spoke : " Even if the faint glow of the moon I can see how very beautiful you are ! " he told her with a little smile. Skogul leaned forward and collapsed against Kolskegg' s chest. As they held each other tightly, Skogul, for the first time in her life, knew what it was like to surrender herself to someone else. " I do not understand what it is that I am feeling ! " Skogul whispered in his ear.
Before he could answer they heard several warriors talking as they walked through the camp. " Let us go down to the pond. " he told her. " We can be alone there. " he added as he stroked her long blonde hair.
They were not alone, however. Hidden behind a large oak tree, not far away, and within earshot, stood Geirahod and Radgrid. After hearing their conversation Geirahod turned to Radgrid and whispered in her ear : " Let us follow them at a safe distance, and see where this encounter leads ! " she told her sister. Radgrid did not answer. She simply nodded her acknowledgement.
Kolskegg took Skogul's hand and led her down to the pond. When they reached the edge of the shimmering water, the gallant warrior placed his fur coat on the ground, and then motioned for the Valkyrie to sit . As she sat down she took her eyes off of Kolskegg for a moment to take in the beauty of her surroundings. Mani, in all his glory, was reflected almost exactly as he appeared in the sky in the calm water, as were the bright stars. Only an occasional mild ripple distorted the picturesque scene. Skogul felt as though she were in a dream !
Skogul lay down upon the bearskin, put her hands behind her neck, and looked up at the night sky. " How is it that you can see one of Odin' s maidens, and others cannot ? " she asked.
Kolskegg lay down next to her on his side. " I do not have an answer for your question Skogul, and I do not think that I care either. For as long as I can gaze upon your beauty I am happy, and that is all that matters to me ! " he told her with a little smile.
Skogul turned onto her side, and peered deeply into his eyes. Slowly and tenderly their lips met. Their lips parted for only a moment before Kolskegg kissed her more forcefully, and passionately . Kolskegg then let his lips caress her neck, and her ears. " I think that I fell in love with you the moment I first laid eyes on you ! " he blurted out as he nibbled on one of her earlobes. Skogul held Kolskegg tightly in her arms as a tear fell slowly down the Valkyrie's cheek. She had never known such joy as she was feeling at that very moment !
Geirahod had seen enough ! She tapped Radgrid on the shoulder and motioned for them to return to their horses. As Geirahod mounted her winged steed she turned to Radgrid. " Now I have all the proof I need ! " she told her sister. Radgrid nodded. " If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it ! " she replied as she kicked her horse into flight.
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : The Confrontation
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.