The Queen Of Pain
Brettifa, unlike the two younger servants Gilla, and Metta, was not responsible for the everyday chores of cooking, cleaning, polishing the silver, and keeping the fires going in the great hall. Her job was to be at the beckon call of the queen at all times. However, when the queen did not need her assistance she would often help out the younger handmaidens to ease her own boredom. But here in Chieftain Nesbjorn's great hall there was not much for her to do. As a visiting dignitary the chieftain's maidens took care of the queen's comfort, and saw to her every need. All Brettifa could do was sit at an adjacent table watching, and waiting, to see if she was needed by Queen Birsla.
It was, however, a rare privilege for her to be served by others, and she was thoroughly enjoying the horn of mead that the chieftain's serving maidens were keeping constantly filled. Brettifa was sure that most of the hospitality she was witnessing was a show put on to impress the king and queen, and that under normal circumstances the dining experience was not quite so splendid here in Sokndal.
Long before Mani rose to his greatest height in the heavens, Queen Birsla asked the king if she could be excused. She apologized to Nesbjorn, explaining to him that the long journey had made her tired, but Brettifa knew the moment the queen signaled to her that it was the beating she had endured several nights before which was still taking a toll on her body, and she needed rest.
Led out of the hall by two maidens Queen Birsla and Brettifa were taken to a smaller guest hall where visiting dignitaries were allowed to stay in the comfort that they were accustomed to enjoying. After assuring the chieftain's maidens that she would attend to the queen alone, Brettifa helped the queen to undress, and to put on her nightgown. Even after three days Queen Birsla still needed help to get her stiff aching body into bed.
Brettifa sat with the exhausted queen for a moment, but Birsla quickly succumbed to her weariness and fell fast asleep. When it became clear to the handmaiden that she was no longer needed, Brettifa left the guest hall to stretch her legs, after a very trying day, in the cool night air.
Brettifa slowly walked around the village aimlessly, lost in her own thoughts. Vetr, the man she loved, would by oath have to stay by the king's side until he went to bed, which meant that she was all alone in a village where she did not know anyone. She quickly became bored and began to think that Queen Birsla had made a good choice. A warm bed, and a good night's sleep, began to seem just the thing to do.
She was about to turn around, and head for the servant's quarters, when she heard a faint gurgling sound off in the distance. Curious, Brettifa walked towards what she quickly realized was flowing water. When she came to the edge of the village she saw a small waterfall gently cascading off of a rock cliff that overlooked a flowery meadow.
" How pretty ! " she whispered to herself when she saw the water flowing down the cliff and splashing down into a small river that meandered off into the distance.
It was not just the waterfall that made the scene so beautiful. Behind the opening in the forest, where the water flowed over the cliff, the God Mani had risen over the falls. And in the mist that surrounded the falls there was what appeared to be a little rainbow formed from Mani's glow.
The serene sound of the falls made Brettifa feel an odd sense of calm, and soon she became mesmerized by the white water as it cascaded over the cliff face.
Suddenly, a twig snapped behind her and Brettifa awoke from her day dream world ! Alarmed, the handmaiden spun around to see what, or who, had made the sound. What was staring back at her startled her so much that she remained frozen for a moment neither speaking or breathing. What the handmaiden saw standing before her was an old crone. A very, very, old crone !
" They say that when Mani is over the falls you can speak directly to the Gods and Goddesses ! " the old seeress said in a shaky voice.
" And tonight they are in perfect alignment . " she added without emotion.
Brettifa quickly glanced back at the falls, and then turned back to the wrinkled old woman.
" Do they ? " Brettifa asked nervously.
When the old woman did not answer she added :
" My name in Brettifa,.... I am the queen's handmaiden. "
The seeress did not smile as she replied.
" I am Ragnfrithr, .... and you my dear must hurry if you are to invoke the Gods tonight ! " she told Brettifa in a firmer voice.
The handmaiden barely managed to put a weak smile on her worried face before replying.
" I do not have anything to ask the Gods. " she told the crone.
The seeress pointed her finger at Brettifa, and shook it like a twig in the wind.
" Then you are a selfish woman Brettifa ! " she replied before walking away.
Brettifa was about to call out to the old woman when she remembered her conversation with Vetr.
" Possibly, my soon to be wife, you should invoke the Gods and ask them to help the queen.... "
Brettifa quickly spun around and looked at the position of Mani in relation to the waterfalls. He was no longer over the center of the flowing water ! The God who ruled the night had moved a little to the right and was nearing the edge.
" I have no offering ! " she whispered loudly.
" I have nothing to offer the Gods ! " she repeated has she patted herself down looking for a gift to give them.
Then she remembered something that Vetr had told her many times in the past.
" You have the most beautiful golden blonde hair I have ever seen ! It is a wonderful gift ! " he had often said.
Brettifa pulled out her knife from her belt, ran to the side of the waterfalls and knelt down.
" Mighty Gods of Asgard and Vanaheim hear me though I am but a humble servant. My queen, Birsla of Rogaland, is in desperate need of your help. The man she is married to , King Kaldstein, beats her mercilessly, and I fear that one day he will end her life with one of his tirades ! " she blurted out as quickly as she could manage.
Brettifa took a peak up at Mani and was disappointed to see that he had moved right over to the edge of the flowing water. As fast as she could Brettifa cut off a lock of her hair and threw it into the waterfall near the little rainbow which had begun to fade. The movement of air caused the hair to swirl and float slightly, and as she watched in horror the golden lock did not hit the falls until Mani had pulled slightly away from the edge of the waterfalls.
" Oh, no ! " she shouted with a dejected pout.
In her mind she saw images of the queen . Her blackened and swollen eyes, and the welts and bruises all over her body, revolved in her mind, and she suddenly became bold.
Brettifa threw her knife at the ground and stood up. With an angry look distorting her pretty face she shouted at the waterfalls as though it were the Gods themselves.
" I should not have had to ask, or worse yet beg the Gods to help a defenseless woman. The Gods .... and I would think most especially each and every Goddess would be outraged that such a horrible thing could take place here in Midgard ! Have you no hearts ! Have you no feelings ! Do you not even have enough compassion to help a woman who is being dishonored by an evil man !! " she screamed.
Brettifa picked up her knife and placed it back in its sheath on her belt. Then she looked back at the falls.
" If that be the case.... then you are not my Gods !! " she shouted as she began to cry.
The handmaiden wiped the tears from her eyes as she turned to go back to the village. She took only one step before she realized that the old crone Ragnfrithr was standing close by in the woods.
" I sincerely doubt that they ' heard me ' ! " she cried out to the crone before walking away.
Ragnfrithr smiled as she watched the maiden walk away.
" Oh.... they heard you my dear..... she definitely heard you ! " the old seeress whispered under her breath.
Ragnfrithr turned and looked back at the falls. Unseen by Brettifa, but perfectly visible to the seeress, was the Goddess Freyja. As she floated magically above the falls her eyes sparkled with anger. In one of her hands she held a a ball of cosmic energy that swirled around like fall leaves in the wind, while in the other the Goddess held a lock of golden hair.
The old seeress took one last look and then began to giggle as she walked back to her hut in the woods.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : A Price To Be Paid !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.