The Little Shield Maiden
It was slowly becoming a very nice day in the tiny village of Ljarborg. The morning mist had burned off, and the warmth of the sun had made it comfortable enough for Rannveig to sit outside while she mended her children's clothes. Lodver, her husband of fifteen years, worked in the fields tending to their crops just outside of the village with the other men. Occasionally their eyes would meet, and they would smile and wave to each other. Rannveig considered herself a lucky woman. Unlike some of the other married couples in the village they were still very much in love, and happy together along with their two wonderful children. Hjalti, her thirteen year old son, had to be kept close, and always in sight. He was an adventurous little boy, and a bit of a troublemaker. He had red hair like his father, and a temper that flared from time to time. Her 6 year old daughter Freydis, on the other hand, was quiet, pleasant, and always seemed to be happy. Freydis had beautiful blonde hair, and eyes that were as blue as the sky itself. As Rannveig sat watching her daughter play, she thought to herself : " Hjalti and Freydis could not be more different, and yet they always played well together. " Hjalti always looked after his younger sister. Sometimes to the point where he would physically threaten anyone who dared to be brash enough to tease her.
Freydis barely noticed the horseman riding at full speed across the fields towards the village. When the rider, a man she had never seen before, dismounted right in front of her mother, she stopped playing with her straw doll, and listened to what the man had to say. " Sound the alarm ! " he shouted. " Call all the men in from the fields ! I must speak to all of the men of this village ! " he continued. Rannveig, startled, put down her sewing, and gave the man a questioning look. " Now woman ! Right Now ! " he shouted even louder. Rannveig hurried into her hut and grabbed the ram's horn she used to call Lodver in from the fields for his meals. When she returned she handed the horn to the stranger. " I am sure that your lungs are much stronger than mine sir . " she told him nervously. The rider placed the horn to his lips and began to sound the alarm over and over again.
When Lodver heard the call he looked up at the sun. " It is not even close to midday yet ! Why is she calling me in so early to eat lunch ? " he asked himself. However, when the horn blasts were repeated again and again Lodver, and the other farmers in the fields, knew that something was wrong, and they began to run back to the village as fast as they could. Many carried their farm implements with them just in case there was a need for a weapon. Others had their knives in hand to protect themselves.
As the men reached the village they saw a stranger blowing a ram horn in front of Lodver' s hut. When the man stopped sounding the alarm all of the villagers gathered around him to hear what they were all sure was going to be very important news. " I come here with an urgent message from King Thorvald of Viken. " the stranger began. Hogni, a short husky man, interrupted the messenger : " What is your name stranger ? " he asked. " I am Idmund, and I have come here to warn you to prepare yourselves for war ! " he replied in an annoyed tone. An involuntary gasp came from the villagers gathered around him. " King Eyvind of Agder invaded Vestfold, and their king, King Arnkel has fallen to Agder' s immense army. As I speak, our King Thorvald, and his son Jarl Asbjorn, are battling with King Eyvind' s army on our own lands ! " Idmund told them excitedly.
Lodver looked over an Rannveig, who was holding their children tightly against her . The village of Ljarborg was only a short ride to the border with Vestfold. If King Agder's army was already inside Viken territory then they would arrive at the village at any moment ! Idmund did not have time to waste ! As soon as he finished delivering his message to the villagers he jumped on his horse , said a quick farewell and good luck, then rode off in the direction of the next village.
Before Idmund had disappeared into the distance all the folk in the village ran to their huts to gather up all of their weapons, and prepared themselves to defend their village against King Eyvind' s army. And it was not only the men who armed themselves. The women also took up sword, axe, shield, and sharp knives to defend themselves, their children, and their village. Lodver was one of the few men in the tiny village of Ljarborg who had a coat of mail. It was not well made, but it would offer him some protection in battle. As Rannveig helped him on with the mail she kissed him gently. Not knowing what the future held Lodver and Rannveig looked at each other for a long time, and then hugged each other tightly. Hjalti and little Freydis looked on intently with eyes filled with terror . Hjalti understood what was happening, but little Freydis did not, and began to cry. Hjalti reached down and held her hands. He wiped away her tears, and kissed her on the cheek. " It will be alright sister. Eveything will be alright ! " he said to console her. " Rannveig and Lodver then hugged their children, before continuing their preparations.
Idmund had not gone very far up the road to the next village when he felt a sharp pain in his chest. His arms instantly went numb and he lost hold of his horse. He hit the ground hard, and rolled for over and over, until he hit a rock and stopped. When he looked down he saw an arrow sticking out of his blood soaked chest. The last thing that Idmund saw in this world was the Agder warrior lifting his axe to strike him dead !
End Chapter 2
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 3 : The Attack on Ljarborg