The Little Shield Maiden
At first King Eyvind fooled himself into believing that his people simply did not want to join a beaten army, but it did not take long for it to become apparent that they hated and distrusted him. He had told himself for years that being a tough and unyielding leader would make his people more obedient, and more willing to be subservient to his will. In the end all it had really done was make his people hate and despise him. Many of these disgruntled people, especially the younger men, had joined Freydis' army as she moved south into Agder. Now as he looked up at the landscape that surrounded Stavern, all he could see in every direction he looked, were the people that he once ruled over, who now wanted to kill him.
Freydis stood looking down on the small village with eyes that burned with hatred. As they had moved south through Agder she had ordered destroyed all villages that would not pledge an oath of allegiance to her personally. Several villages were burned to the ground, and every man, woman and child had been killed for remaining loyal to King Eyvind. Freydis was past caring ! All she wanted now was to kill her foster father, and hold his severed head in her hands. Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing !
As Margad watched Freydis he realized that he was starting to fear that she had lost her mind. The little girl he had taught how to use a sword and shield all those years ago was gone. Her anger and hatred had consumed what kindness was left, and she was now commanding her men with a cold black heart. The woman he loved so very much was now locked away in a prison of blood lust, and revenge. Margad feared that even after she killed her foster father she would go village to village slaughtering all those who would not submit to her will. Then Margad noticed that she was pointing a finger out in the direction of the sea, and turned his gaze in that direction.
Erling was left to guard the town while Margad and Freydis, with several hundred warriors, marched down to the shoreline a mile from the village of Stavern. Coming in fast were two dragon ships, both of which had their dragon heads removed. Although this was a sign of peace, Freydis was not taking any chances, and lined up her men in battle formation just above the waterline. She placed several dozen archers on her flanks as well to protect them, a lesson she had learned from her foster father. As the rowers beached their ships, a man wearing a purple cape over his coat of mail, jumped from the ships prow, and landed in the soft wet sand. He was followed by several huge warriors. All of them approached with their swords sheathed. Freydis, Margad and their guards were armed and ready when the regal looking man stood before them at the edge of the surf. " I am Freydis Lodversdottir, Queen of Agder, Vestfold, and Viken. " she said boldly. And who may I ask are you sir ? And why have you come to my lands with these warriors ? " Freydis asked at the point of a sword. Margad was not surprised to hear Freydis use her birth father's name, but it was the first time he had ever heard her use it, and it caught him a little off guard as he waited for the strangers response. " I am King Haldor of Ranrike . " the man said with great pride. Freydis had never met King Haldor, and was not quite sure what she should say or do. " Wel.... Welcome King Haldor to my kingdom. " was all she could manage. Margad regained his composure first : " What brings you to Agder without a full army King Haldor ? " he asked. King Haldor answered slowly, and with caution : " In the name of the people of Ranrike, and with the backing of King Sorkason of Svearike, I wish to offer peace to you and your people. Our two kingdoms have spent too many years, too much wealth, and have lost too many of our people to these never ending wars. When I heard that you had deposed your father, I decided to come and meet with you personally, to see if you would be interested in ending this constant cycle of war between our two kingdoms. " As King Haldor offered her his hand , Freydis stepped forward and grabbed his arm just behind his wrist, in a show of respect and friendship. Haldor returned the friendly greeting, he grabbed hold of her wrist, and also patted her on the shoulder as well. Slowly a cheer rose up from both the warriors on the beach, and King Haldor's men on the ships. She pulled him close, and whispered into his ear : " I too do not want to continue these useless and wasteful wars." The Queen of Agder then invited the King of Ranrike to join them for a great feast that night, which King Haldor gladly accepted.
As morning came King Eyvind and his loyal warriors made their peace with whichever of the War Gods they personally honored. For they knew that today would be the last time that they would ever see the sun rise into the sky above Midgard. Eyvind began to look over his life , and wonder if he could have, or should have, done anything differently. He laughed to himself as he took a long drink of mead from his horn. " No ! I was my own man ! I will die as I lived ! A stubborn merciless bastard to the end ! " he said under his breath. As he lowered his horn he could see that Freydis already had her warriors in place for the attack that would come at any moment. King Eyvind filled his horn again, and then toasted his daughter. " You turned out to be a bigger bastard than me my daughter ! " he shouted. Then he drained his horn, and threw it onto the ground. " Time to die ! " he said loud enough for all to hear.
End Chapter 10
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 11 : I have become that which I hate !