The Queen Of Pain
When they rode into the town of Gulen a small crowd came out to welcome King Kaldstein, as they had the other kings and jarls from other lands. Vetr and Ragnvaldr were surprised, to say the least, at how well the king of Rogaland was liked outside of Stavanger.
" If only they knew him the way that I do ! " Vetr thought to himself, as he nodded and waved back to the throng of well wishers who lined the road into the town.
King Ljufvini and Queen Alfhildr, who had arrived the day before, came out of the great hall to see what all the commotion was about. When they saw who it was they shook their heads in disbelief. Alfhildr turned to her husband, and whispered loudly in his ear :
" I did not think the brute would come to the Gulaþing this year ! " she told him.
Ljufvini laughed !
" Yes ! Aren't we the lucky ones ! " he replied.
" I guess he is too stupid to know when to give up ! " she told her husband.
Ljufvini kissed his wife on the cheek.
" People like him never learn ! " he replied.
Vetr, Ragnvaldr, and King Kaldstein dismounted in front of the great hall, where stable boys took their horses away to be washed, groomed and fed. Vetr bowed to King Ljufvini and Queen Alfhildr respectfully which got a rise out of King Kaldstein.
" They are not your king and queen, Vetr ! " Kaldstein said sarcastically.
Ljufvini's eyes narrowed angrily as he spoke to King Kaldstein.
" It is good to see you also ! " he replied with even more sarcasm.
To break the cold stares that the two kings were trading between each other, Queen Alfhildr tried a more pleasant approach at conversation.
" Is Queen Birsla not with you again this time ? " she interjected with a forced smile.
King Kaldstein did not look at the queen as he answered, but continued his intense stare at Ljufvini.
" Why would any man bring a woman to an All - Thing? ! " he replied with a smirk on his face.
Alfhildr's smile quickly disappeared.
" Yes ! Well, .... , I am sure that we will see you tomorrow at the Gulaþing ! " the queen told the King of Rogaland coldly.
As the king and queen of Hordaland slowly walked away, Kaldstein turned to Vetr.
" What a couple of dragon's asses ! " he remarked just loud enough for the Hordaland royalty to overhear.
Vetr ignored Kaldstein's remark and opened the door to the great hall. They were immediately greeted by a pretty handmaiden, who welcomed them in, and seated Vetr, Ragnvaldr, and King Kaldstein on benches near the fire pit.
" Wench ! Bring us horns of ale, and spoon out what is simmering in that pot over the fire for us to eat ! " the king told the serving maiden as he pointed toward the fire pit.
" Yes, my Lord ! " she answered as she turned to serve them.
As she began to walk away Kaldstein grabbed her ass and squeezed it hard enough to make the maiden cry out.
" Hurry now wench ! We are hungry and very thirsty ! " the king bellowed with a hearty laugh.
Vetr could not even look the maiden in the eyes such was his embarrassment. To do such a thing in your own hall was one thing, but to do it in the hall of another was dishonorable.
The commander of the Royal Guard was glad that the king had far too much to drink by the end of the night, for he had harassed the poor serving maiden mercilessly all evening, and he feared that if he had remained sober Kaldstein might have raped and abused the poor woman the way he often did his own wife. As Ragnvaldr helped him plop the king on a bed in the guest hall, Vetr thought to himself how easy it would be to kill the horrible bastard right here and now. But then he thought of his love Brettifa, and the possibility of never seeing her again made such thoughts disappear from his mind.
The next morning they awoke to a beautiful sunny day, and to Vetr and Ragnvaldr's amazement the king was no worse for wear after his night of drinking. King Kaldstein dressed in his best clothes and had Vetr polish his sword before going to the All - Thing. It was important to the king that he look his best on this day because not only would he be representing Rogaland, but there were other royalty here from the Northlands as well to impress. Along with King Ljufvini, and Queen Alfhildr of Hordaland, King Ragn of Sogn, and King Olrekr of Fjordane were in attendance as well.
As they arrived at the rocky hill, which resembled a Roman amphitheater, Vetr, Ragnvaldr, and Kaldstein saw that this years All - Thing was to be well attended. The hillside was literally covered with the free peoples from all over the southwest of Norway. And all were waiting patiently for the All - thing to begin so that each could seek justice from the assembly.
Vetr and Ragnvaldr sat on the hillside, while King Kaldstein took his place of honor with the other king's and jarls near the law rock. Kaldstein looked around as he sat down on a flat rock that acted as a bench. To his right he saw King Ljufvini and Queen Alfhildr, and to his left he recognized King Ragn, and King Olrekr.
Above Kaldstein, and sitting in the middle of the assembly on a special high -seat, was the Lagmann, or Lawspeaker. It was his function to administer at the Thing, and to make sure that all judgments were in accordance with the law, and that they were properly executed. He was given the great privilege of reciting the law as it had come down to them through the years. He had much to memorize, and recite at the All - Thing, and his word was the law !
Not even the kings, in theory, could overrule the laws that had been passed at previous Gulaþings. And the man who had been appointed to this high post by the Bonder of Gulen was a man named Skorargeirr.
Kaldstein's hatred of Skorargeirr was based not on the Lagmann's inability to recite or interpret the laws, but on the simple fact that year after year the laws the Lagmann spoke went against the cases that the king of Rogaland brought before the assembly. Kaldstein was hoping that this year would be different, but past experience had tempered his enthusiasm. The king wished that the old Lagmann, Silfast, had not retired, for he had received more advantageous judgments for Rogaland when he presided, but unfortunately he had grown too old to sit at the Gulaþing.
King Kaldstein quickly became bored. Case after case came before the assembly which the Rogaland king considered trivial. Land disputes between farmers, disagreements over the amount to be paid for goods, minor infractions of law such as petty theft, and assaults were much more numerous than the rare wife, or family member, seeking compensation for the murder of a loved one.
It was not until late on the first day that Skorargeirr called Kaldstein to the law rock to put forth his grievance. Wasting little time the king of Rogaland strutted forward, and addressed the assembly.
" My fellow free men ! I come before you today to ask that you help me in a matter of grave importance to Rogaland. For years now King Ljufvini of Hordaland has been illegally using the Sunnfjord, which clearly belongs to the Kingdom of Rogaland, as his own personal waterway to the great sea, for both commerce and military transport. I am here today to ask that this esteemed assembly pass a resolution to stop these egregious offenses against the good people of Rogaland ! " King Kaldstein stated emphatically.
Skorargeirr nodded when Kaldstein had finished.
" Duly noted ! " he told the king of Rogaland.
The Lagmann then pointed to King Ljufvini of Hordaland.
" And what say you to this charge King Ljufvini ? " he asked.
As King Kaldstein sat back down, King Ljufvini took his place at the Law Rock.
" My esteemed equal, King Kaldstein, claims the Sunnfjord for himself, but it is clear to me, as it should be to all of you, that the fjord in question is not property to be owned by either Rogaland or Hordaland. It is merely the dividing line between two kingdoms, and should be shared equally by both. " he told the assembly.
" And on the charge of my people possibly using the fjord for military operations,....well,...., does King Kaldstein really expect us to portage our dragon ships across the whole of Hordaland to reach the sea ? " he stated with a small chuckle.
King Ljufvini went back to his seat, and the floor was once again offered to King Kaldstein by Skorargeirr.
" Traditionally the Sunnfjord has always been a part of Rogaland, and my people see it as a serious form of encroachment upon our sovereign territory when these " outsiders " trample upon their rights ! " he told the assembly angrily.
Skorargeirr nodded and pointed to King Ljufvini once again.
" Have you more to add in your defense of these charges ? " he asked the King of Hordaland.
Ljufvini rose up and replied :
" No Lagmann ! I believe it has all been said ! "
Skorargeirr stroked his long beard and thought for a moment.
" The law that has come down to us is clear on such matters as this. A fjord, river, lake, or even a body of water as small as a stream, that separates kingdoms is " owned " by neither. It is merely a marker to delineate where one kingdom ends and another begins. And both lands involved in the dispute may freely use the said waterway in question without restrictions or the need of approval of the other kingdom. " he told the assemblage.
" Therefore, King Kaldstein, your grievance, and claim against the Kingdom of Hordaland, is indeed invalid, and void of any legal standing in our laws. " he added.
Skorargeirr then loudly proclaimed :
" What is the next complaint ? "
Kaldstein jumped up from his rock bench, and pointed a finger at the Lagmann with fire in his eyes.
" I do not accept the decision of this assembly, Lagmann ! And if these Hordalanders continue to use our waterway it will soon run red with their blood ! " he shouted.
Kaldstein shook his fist at King Ljufvini and then stormed out of the All - Thing. When he reached the edge of the hill that led back down into the village he was joined by Vetr and Ragnvaldr.
" They will regret this decision ! They will regret this day ! " King Kaldstein shouted loud enough to be heard by most everyone at the Gulaþing.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Sweet Dreams ( Of Revenge )
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright 2016.