The Yule War
( The Greatest Gift )
Fear Hides In Every Shadow
Geirdis was making herself a fish stew when she heard a low rumble off in the distance. As she stirred the mixture of potatoes, vegetables and herring, the rumble turned into a roar of hoof - beats that reverberated throughout her small dwelling like an earthquake. And then, suddenly, there was silence. Geirdis placed the spoon on the table and cautiously moved toward the door .
" Could my husband have returned from the Yule War already ? " she whispered to herself.
Outside the door she could hear heavy footsteps in the snow coming toward the hut. She was about to run to the door to greet her husband when the door suddenly crashed inward, splintering off of it's hinges. When the shock of the moment wore off Geirdis saw two dark shapes standing in the doorway silhouetted against the bright white blowing snow. Before she could react to defend herself, or even scream, they were upon her grabbing and ripping at her clothes.
" Upplanders ! " her mind cried out as she felt the hot dirty breath of one of these evil men upon her lips. When she resisted one of the warriors backhanded her as the other continued to tear off her undergarments. Geirdis struggled as best she could, but they were much too strong for her. As one man forced her legs apart the other brutally began to rape her. It was then that Geirdis found her voice and began to cry out in pain !
Geirdis woke up screaming ! Her arms and legs flailed out in front of her, trying to fight off her imaginary attackers, as she struggled to understand that it was only a nightmare, and not really happening. Slowly she became aware of her surroundings, including the still intact door, which calmed her down. As she wiped the tears, that were running down her cheeks away, she asked herself :
" Was that merely a dream, or was it a vision of events yet to come ?! "
Geirdis, of course, had no way of knowing the answer to such a question, which only increased her fear and insecurity. In a state of near panic she contracted her legs up into the fetal position and held the sword that Knutr had given to her tightly against her chest for comfort, almost as if the cold weapon were her husband. Geirdis did not dare allow herself to return to the world of dreams that night.
The light of the morning greeted her like an old friend. As she slowly opened the door the gentle gleaming rays of the Goddess Sunna reached out and stroked her cheeks reassuring her that everything was alright. The horrific nightmares of the dark night were replaced with the safe monotony of daylight chores. Keeping busy kept her mind off of the uncertainty and fear that swirled around in her head in those quiet moments of inactivity.
When Sunna rose to her zenith Geirdis' friend Ingiborg stopped by, as she did almost every day, to go to the market with her. Geirdis quickly lost herself in pleasant conversation while they shopped, almost to the point where she forgot her frightening nightmares. When they finished at the market and headed home, however, comforting Sunna began to descend behind a mountain, and the veil of dusk quickly turned into a smothering cloak of darkness. The blackness of night covered her in a blanket of fear, and the beautiful calmness of daylight that had acted like a dam to hold back her terror broke and flooded her mind with irrational thoughts .
Ingiborg was startled when Geirdis asked her to stay and eat dinner with her. It was not the invitation that was surprising, for she had stayed for supper many times, but the way Geirdis insisted that she stay that concerned her. Ingiborg could understand how a newly wed wife, still on her honeymoon, could be apprehensive living alone. A young girl was under the protection of her father and her brothers, when she lived at home. When she left to enter into marriage she was then under the protection of her husband. Geirdis, who had never been alone, now felt abandoned and frightened. Ingiborg could not bear to leave her friend alone and agreed to come back and eat dinner with Geirdis after she saw to her injured husband's needs.
After a pleasant dinner, while they were cleaning up the dishes, Ingiborg, as subtly as possible, reassured Geirdis that her husband would return safely, and that while she may be living alone during his time away, the entire village was her family, and would stand as one to protect themselves against all threats. She used the fact that her husband Borr had returned to her from a brutal battle despite being badly hurt. However, when Geirdis still looked as frightened as a child, she could not help but ask :
" What is really bothering you my dear ? "
Geirdis put down the dish she was drying and looked at Ingiborg as if she were about to cry.
" I had a dream ! A very bad dream !! " she blurted out.
Ingiborg chuckled and placed her arms around her friend.
" Oh, my dear silly young friend ! Dreams cannot hurt you ! They are like the dawn fog that lifts with the morning sun. They are quickly gone and then forgotten. " she explained as she stroked the younger woman's hair.
Geirdis held Ingiborg tightly.
" But this was so real ! Upplanders attacked our village,....... and they were hurting me ! " she blurted out as the tears came.
Ingiborg, who at times felt more like her mother than a friend, kissed Geirdis on the forehead.
" It wasn't real,.... and it didn' t happen ! They were just images of something that did not,... and never will take place ! " she told Geirdis in a somewhat scolding tone.
Geirdis pulled away slightly, and looked at her friend with watery eyes.
" And what if these images are a portent of things to come ? " she asked.
Ingiborg placed her hands on her hips and tried to look cross.
" So ! Now you are telling me that you are a Seeress ? " Ingiborg asked.
Embarrassed, Geirdis lowered her gaze.
" I don't know. It just did not seem like a dream. It seemed all too real ! " she replied defiantly.
Ingiborg realized that arguing with Geirdis was a waste of time so she stayed with her until she fell asleep. Before she left she placed two more logs on the fire, and made sure that Geirdis was warmly covered under the blankets. She took one more look back at the peacefully sleeping young woman, to make sure that she was safe, before closing the door and going home to her husband.
Geirdis sensed the blankets being thrown off of her, and felt the cool air as it rushed over her. As she opened her eyes she saw a dark figure standing above her. His bearded face was featureless, and his form seemed to change with every flicker of the flames in the fire. When the foul smelling shadowy beast above her began to pull and rip at her clothes she tried to fight back. A few quick, but sharp, slaps by the monster above her, however, stopped her resistance. Geirdis closed her eyes as the strong dark figure forced her legs apart, ..... and then she screamed as he entered her !
Geirdis awoke to the sound of her own screams, and quickly looked around the hut. She found that she was alone, and that her clothes, and her dignity, were still intact. Sweating profusely, she told herself that it was just another nightmare. But how could she smell the body odor of her attacker, and feel his brutal attacks if it were merely a dream ? As she ran her hand up and down her tear soaked cheeks Geirdis could swear she could almost feel where he had hit her.
With her mind spinning in a whirlwind of terror Geirdis looked around the room with wide crazy eyes. The flickering of the fire's flames turned every dark corner into a moving kaleidoscope of fear that revolved between various shades of blood red, and grey. Back and forth they rotated between the sacred light, and the evil dark ! In her terrified mind that horrible beast could be lurking in any of these shadows waiting to jump out and rape her at any moment if she let down her guard and succumbed to the weakness of sleep.
Geirdis sat all night long by the safety of the glowing fire, wrapped in a blanket, and with the sword Knutr gave her unsheathed and held out ready to defend against any attacker who might be lurking in the shadows. As she huddled on the floor trying to stay warm, her mind, clouded by fear and lack of sleep, imagined every horrible thing that could happen to her. Geirdis felt so helpless ! How could she fight against a monster she could not see ? Frustrated by her own weakness all she could do was stay vigilant and await the safety of the morning light.
- End Chapter 2
- Next : Chapter 3 : The Lone Rider
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.