The Queen Of War
The Great Feast
Queen Birsla was pleased to see that the Gulen great hall was decorated in a grand style. Flowers adorned each of the inner columns, and the usually drab walls were covered in brightly painted shields. On the tables goblets and horns, inlaid with precious gems, sat waiting for the serving maidens to fill them with ale and mead. The eating utensils, Birsla noticed, were made of silver, but she observed that they could have, and should have, been polished to a higher level of shine.
As Queen Brettifa, Vetr, and Unnvaldr were escorted to their table by a serving maiden, Birsla realized that there were now six fires burning in the great hall of Gulen instead of the four that had heated the structure in the past. She had heard that they were intending to enlarge the hall for the All - Thing, but she was not aware that they had already finished the work. Queen Birsla had to admit that it was now a fine looking great hall, and one that made her jealous of how small her own royal hall was back in Stavanger.
Already seated at the table when they arrived were two men and a woman. Queen Birsla knew the older man to be King Reifnir of Þelamǫrk, and she was sure that the woman sitting next to him was his wife Queen Isleif. The younger man she did not know, though he appeared to be with the king and queen.
King Reifnir, always known to be quite the ladies' man, stood up and wiped off the bench before Queen Birsla sat down.
" It is good to see you again Queen Birsla ! " the king of Þelamǫrk said with flair, and a little too much charm.
Queen Birsla nodded to the king, and then looked over at Queen Isleif.
" You are so lucky to have such a wonderful husband ! " she told Isleif with a hint of sarcasm.
Queen Isleif gave her husband a cold stare.
" Yes ! My hamingja has always been good to me ! " she replied without trying to hide her sarcasm.
King Reifnir returned his wife's frosty stare, before pointing to the young man across from him.
Queen Birsla I would like to introduce you to my son, Jarl Vignir . He is a fine warrior, a wonderful leader, and has a great mind for war ! " he told the queen proudly.
Birsla politely acknowledged the son of the Þelamǫrk royalty, and then as she always did, she assessed the man with a long stare. He appeared pleasant enough, with a hint of aloofness, and was handsome, with a muscular physique. She noticed that he was at least ten years her junior, though he appeared to be trying to look much older. As she looked away from the young man the queen spied the king and queen of Þelamǫrk staring at her with suspicious grins upon their faces.
Queen Isleif nodded to her husband first, and then looked back at Queen Birsla.
" A kingdom should be ruled by both a king and a queen . Don't you think so Queen Birsla ? " she asked trying to sound innocent.
Queen Birsla returned the Þelamǫrk queen's gaze with an uninterested blank stare.
" Only if the royal couple are strong and work well together. My husband, for instance, was a weak evil man, and the Gods killed him for his inadequacies. " she replied.
King Reifnir glanced over at his wife before adding to the conversation .
" But sometimes there is more to gain than just a partnership. If the woman were to marry the son of royalty, our son Vignir for example, from a neighboring kingdom, then those two kingdoms would be bound in friendship and alliance for an eternity. " he explained to the queen of Rogaland.
Queen Isleif quickly chimed in with a thought of her own.
" And there is of course the matter of succession. A son, or even a daughter, could rule long after you are gone, and keep your dynasty going for possibly hundreds of years. Without an heir infighting and possibly civil war will tear your kingdom apart after you are gone. " she explained as though it was some sort of new idea she had formulated.
Queen Birsla kept her composure despite her growing inner anger, and sipped her ale before replying.
" I will think on it, but at the moment I need neither an ally, or a husband. " she told the Þelamǫrk royalty.
Then as if it were an afterthought Birsla added :
" Is there no other way to sign a treaty between our two kingdoms ? "
Queen Isleif stuck her nose in the air indignantly, and looked at her husband before answering.
" The only way to bind our two kingdoms together is through marriage. You should know that much at least my dear ! " the queen of Þelamǫrk remarked curtly.
King Reifnir could see that the situation were becoming rather tense, and decided to change the subject of conversation.
" Perhaps we could discuss this another time ! " he told Queen Birsla.
The king of Þelamǫrk then turned to Brettifa and smiled.
" I understand that you, my dear, have been bound in matrimony with Vetr, the commander of the queen's guard . " he told her to lighten the mood.
Brettifa lit up light a candle ! The King of Þelamǫrk had addressed her almost as an equal !
" Yes ! Queen Birsla gave us a wonderful wedding ! Oh ! And Vetr is now the Chieftain of Avaldsnes ! " she told the king proudly barely taking a pause in between sentences.
The king's ploy was successful, and the rest of the evening was spent sipping ale and mead over pleasant conversation.
The Gulaþing almost never began before Sunna was at least halfway to her apex, but this morning the All - Thing was in full attendance by the time the morning mist had lifted. Everyone from the lowest farmer, who had come to resolve a land dispute, to the kings and queens sitting on the benches of honor in front of the Gulaþing assembly, had heard that King Ljufvini and Queen Alfhilda of Hordaland had refused to attend, and instead had sent along a representative to deliver a special message to Queen Birsla of Rogaland. And no one wanted to miss it !
Adils, the Lagmann in training, helped Silfast up to his seat in the middle of the assembly. Using a metal hammer, known as the justice hammer, he pounded it on a granite block to quiet everyone down, and gain order at the assembly. When he had everyone's attention he rose up off of his Lawspeaker's seat and addressed those in attendance.
" I am going to forego the recounting of last years Gulaþing for a few moments, because, as I am sure all of you know, we have a special guest speaker who wishes to address the Queen of Rogaland, the council, and the public gathered here in general. " he patiently explained to everyone.
" Therefore without further delay I call forth Skirpir of Hordaland, who will speak in the place of King Ljufvini of Hordaland. " he added pointing to the messenger from Hordaland.
Skirpir's attire, in and of itself, was ominous as he approached the Law Rock to deliver his speech, which apparently came directly from the king of Hordaland. He was not dressed in fine clothing, but instead he wore the full battle gear of a warrior. Along with his helmet, and coat of mail, Skirpir had a large sword strapped to his waist, and two axes tucked into his belt.
The Hordaland warrior wasted no time in delivering his speech to the crowded Gulaþing.
" My king, King Ljufvini of Hordaland, will no longer attend these illegal and immoral All - Things, held here in Gulen. And he has told me to inform you all that he will no longer abide by decisions and judgments made by this council ! " he explained while he looked directly at the Lagmann Silfast.
Then Skirpir turned and spoke directly to Queen Birsla of Rogaland.
" King Ljufvini also will no longer pay the two hundred pounds of gold that this council ordered him to pay at last year's Gulaþing ! " he told the queen in an angry tone.
Before finishing his speech Skirpir shook his fist at the queen !
" And if the queen of Rogaland wants her Sunnfjordgeld, my king says that she will have to come to Hordaland to get it ! " Skirpir told the queen with a grin, before walking out of the Gulaþing, mounting his horse, and riding away.
Queen Birsla, Silfast, Vetr, and Unnvaldr all recognized this for what it really was. Hordaland had declared war on Rogaland, and King Ljufvini wanted everyone to know it, and for the queen of Rogaland to be embarrassed in front of her peers.
Queen Birsla, however, acted quickly and without emotion. She first ordered Nafni to take his men and go after Skirpir.
" Bring him back dead or alive ! " she told the commander of the Hirdmen.
Then the queen of Rogaland stunned the entire assembly by walking over to the Law Rock, and replying to the message sent by King Ljufvini.
" The king of Hordaland has issued here before this council a proclamation of war,.... and I,..... the queen of Rogaland, accept his challenge ! If King Ljufvini wants war, then Rogaland will be more than happy to oblige him ! " she stated with a slight grin.
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : " For The Good Of My People ! "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.