The Queen Of War
On To The Sunnfjord
As Sunna rose up over the far hills to bathe Rogaland in her majestic beauty, Queen Birsla rolled over on her bed. As she did a sharp pain made her wince to the point where it almost took her breath away. Her right shoulder, the one she had used to pull back the bow string again and again, was extremely sore and stiff.
" Gilla ! Metta ! " the queen shouted.
" I think I will need a little assistance getting out of bed this morning, and I fear I will require even more help to get dressed ! " she told her handmaidens, who had been up for sometime making her breakfast.
After eating a quick breakfast Birsla was escorted to her horse and helped into the saddle by Nafni, who had resumed his duties as commander of the Hirdmen, and protector of the queen. While her royal guards rode up in front, the shield maidens stayed behind the queen's entourage to protect the rear, and to make sure that none of the men that Nafni had rounded up the day before disappeared once again on the way to Avaldsnes. On their journey north Eyda rode on one side of the queen, while Öndurdís trotted along on the other. Birsla used the excuse that she wanted pointers from the archer as her reasoning for giving the shield maiden a place of honor next to her in the procession. In reality the queen simply enjoyed her company.
Brettifa woke in a state of panic ! Her dreams that night had mirrored her state of dread and turmoil over the safety of her husband. For she knew that today her husband was leaving to go off to war, and that he might never return to her. The thought of losing her husband had given her a sour stomach for several days now, and at times her anxiety had actually made her sick to her stomach. For the second day in a row the sight and smell of food was too much for her and she did not sit at the table as Vetr ate a hearty breakfast.
When he finished his morning meal Vetr went over to their bed, where Brettifa was resting, and with a weak smile asked playfully :
" If my wife will not speak to me during breakfast will she not at least help me to get dressed before the queen arrives ? "
Before his wife could answer he added with a little grin :
" Or would you prefer that Gulla dress your husband ? "
Brettifa's eyes narrowed.
" I am not angry with my husband . I simply did not care to eat this morning. " Brettifa told him as she got up and walked over to his chest to lay out his clothes.
As Vetr finished dressing, Brettifa handed her husband his belt. Their eyes met for only a brief moment, but it was long enough for Vetr to see that something was wrong.
" Are you afraid for me my dear ? " he asked.
Brettifa tried to remain composed, but the emotions welling up inside of her were too strong for her to hold back.
" It is not fair ! We have just begun our lives together, and you are already going off to war ! " she exclaimed as she began to cry.
Vetr placed his arms around his wife, and gave out a little chuckle.
" I am not dead yet my dear. I will do my duty for my queen, my land, and my people, and then, if Odin is willing, I promise I will return to you. " he told her in a calming whisper.
Realizing that she was acting more like a child than the wife of a chieftain, Brettifa pushed her husband away.
" Odin cannot have you ! You are mine, and mine alone ! " she told her husband with the best fake smile she could manage.
Vetr was about to reply when he heard a large contingent of horses ride up outside of the great hall.
" That would be the queen and her escort. I am afraid that it is almost time for me to leave my love . " he blurted out.
Then he added with a smile.
" You will be brave and see me off won't you ? "
Brettifa wiped her eyes with shaking hands. The reality of the situation, had now set in, and she felt as though a great weight was pressing against her chest. Her husband wasn't just leaving, he was leaving now !
" Of course my love ! I would not want the queen, or your warriors to think that your wife is a coward. " she told him.
After Vetr left to greet the queen, Brettifa shouted to Gulla.
" Please help me to dress my dear, for I am afraid that I have become a nervous wreck ! "
Gismundr, Vetr's second in command, had just finished lining up the Avaldsnes warriors in two rows to march to the Sunnfjord as Queen Birsla pulled up her horse in front of the great hall. After being helped down from her mount by Nafni she walked over to the man who was barking orders to the perfectly aligned warriors.
" I see that you have these men ready to march. That is good ! We must reach the Sunnfjord as quickly as possible ! " she told the the leader.
Gismundr nodded to the queen respectfully before replying.
" My name is Gismundr, and I am second only to Vetr here. The men and women of Avaldsnes are more than ready to fight and die in your service Queen Birsla. Vetr ordered that we be ready to leave by noon my lady,....he did not tell me, however, that our queen would be traveling with us. " he told the queen of Rogaland.
Just then Vetr exited the hall and walked over to where the queen was talking with his commander.
" I see you have met Gismundr ! He is a fine warrior, and a strong leader ! " he told Birsla proudly.
The queen nodded her approval of the man he had chosen, and then began to walk back toward her horse with Vetr in tow.
" And yet you did not see fit to tell him that I was coming ? " she asked with raised eyebrows.
Vetr gave a little chuckle.
" I believe it was you who told me not to trust anyone when you gave me this post. Besides, Unnvaldr has also raised a large division of warriors and is going to meet us at the Evergreen forest tomorrow at noon, and I was not sure if you would arrive in time to leave with us. " he explained to her.
The Goddess Sunna appears to be rising above the mountains. Shall we leave now ? " Queen Birsla asked.
Vetr looked at the queen with a childish smile.
" Brettifa is dressing to see me off. Could we give her just a moment more ? " Vetr asked in return.
Queen Birsla laughed.
" I had to cut short your honeymoon because of the All - thing in Gulen, so I suppose it is only fair that I allow you to say farewell to your wife. " she replied.
As the queen was about to mount her horse with the help of Nafni, Brettifa came out of the great hall. As she emerged from the shadows into the sunlight every head turned to watch her as she strolled over to Queen Birsla, Nafni, and Vetr.
Vetr should have been embarrassed, but instead he was proud of his wife. Brettifa had dressed in her finest gown, which shamelessly showed off her ample bust, and she had Gulla trailing behind her holding the train of the dress off of the ground to keep it from getting dirty. She looked more like a woman going to a social event than a spouse sending her husband off to war, but the jealous stares from his warriors made him proud of his wife, and brought a smile to his face.
Brettifa bowed slightly to the queen before speaking.
" It is good to see you again Queen Brettifa ! " she said with a fading smile.
The queen kissed Brettifa on the cheek .
" I am sorry to take your husband away again, but he is needed by my people to protect our kingdom. " she explained apologetically.
Then the queen kissed her again, this time on the other cheek, and whispered in her ear.
" I will do my very best to bring him back to you ! " she told Brettifa.
The queen turned back to Vetr.
" Well ! I will give you two a moment alone . " she told them before turning to Nafni.
" Nafni ! A hand to mount my horse if you will please ! " she commanded.
Vetr looked into his wife's beautiful eyes and smiled.
" You look lovely in that dress my dear ! " he told her .
Halfway between a smile and tears Brettifa replied :
" Actually I seem to have gained a few pounds since we married. The gown is a little tight in the waist. " she explained trying to make small talk.
Brettifa then collapsed up against her husband and began to cry. As she did every warrior in the ranks turned their heads away out of respect for their new chieftain and his wife. Even Gulla, while still holding the train of the dress off the ground, turned away as the couple kissed.
After what seemed to some an eternity Brettifa walked her husband over to his horse, and watched dutifully as he mounted his steed. Vetr nodded to his wife one last time before beginning to bark out orders.
" Gismundr ! "
" Yes, my Lord ! " his second in command replied immediately.
Vetr pointed to the queen and her entourage.
" The queen's hirdmen, and her shield maidens, will ride in the front of the army with us ! " he commanded.
" Once they are in place we will move out ! " Veter added.
The queen rode up to Gismundr and stopped her horse alongside his.
" Gismundr we have gathered up slackers throughout Stavanger, and brought them with us. I would like you to add them into your ranks. If they try to escape, or show cowardice in battle, you may kill them ! " she told him in a tone loud enough for the reluctant warriors to hear.
" Yes ! It would be my pleasure ! " he replied with a grin.
Brettifa watched them leave until the last warrior was out of sight, and then, with Gulla still holding the train of her gown, she went back into the great hall. Once inside she broke down into tears.
Gulla set the train on the floor, and walked around Brettifa to speak to her face to face.
" Why did you not tell him, my lady !? " Gulla asked.
Brettifa rubbed her belly as she wept.
" My husband has too much to worry about as it is. He does not neet one more thing to cloud his judgment at this critical time ! " Brettifa explained to her handmaiden.
Queen Birsla was very impressed when they reached the Evergreen Forest and saw the large army that Unnvaldr had amassed from Varhaug and the surrounding villages. When merged with Vetr's warriors these two forces made up a force almost as large as Ragnvaldr's main army. The difference of course was that they were not nearly as experienced or skilled in the art of warfare as Ragnvaldr's warriors.
Before they left for the Sunnfjord Queen Birsla practiced again and again with her bow and arrows. And judging by the smile of approval on Öndurdís' face, the queen knew that she was getting much stronger and more accurate with her shots. Birsla practiced right up until the time Nafni told her that it was time to leave. Such was the determination of the queen to be a useful warrior in her own army.
Nafni helped the queen onto her horse, and then, along with Eyda and Öndurdís, rode to the front of the army where Vetr and Unnvaldr were waiting.
" Shall we leave my lady ? " Vetr asked politely.
Queen Birsla nodded.
" Yes, I am ready ! Let us go to the Sunnfjord and meet our destiny ! " she replied confidently.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Clearing The Way
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.