The Little Shield Maiden
The Attack On Ljarborg
Suddenly a dozen riders came galloping up, and stopped in front of Lodver, and his men. Lodver drew his sword, and yelled to the lead rider : " Who are you !? State your name sir ! " he yelled. The rider dismounted, and ignoring the drawn sword announced : " I am Jarl Asbjorn of Viken. My father King Thorvald is dead ! I now lead what is left of my father's army ! My warriors are right behind us, and I believe we will make a stand here at the edge of this village ! " the Jarl shouted to Lodver's men. Then Asbjorn looked around and asked : " Who leads these men ? " Lodver put his sword away, and answered : " I am Lodver, my Lord. I lead these men, " Jarl Asbjorn placed his hand on Lodver' s shoulder, and said with a forced smile : " Then we will join forces, Lodver, and with the help of our Gods, we will stop these invaders, and drive them from our land ! "
Lodver at first was very happy, even a little excited about joining forces with the Jarl' s men. When he saw however, that the Jarl did not have many more men than he had, his hopes faded as quickly as they had been raised. Still every man added to his meager forces was one more than they had before, and judging by the sounds of the battle, which had now moved to the edge of the forest just outside of the village, it would take every person who could hold a sword, and axe, or a spear to stop the warriors from Agder.
As the battle spilled out of the woods, and into the clearing in front of the village, Jarl Asbjorn yelled to his men to hold the shield wall steady. " Let the battle come to us brave warriors of Viken ! " he shouted up and down the line. It did not take long for King Eyvind and his men to break through the last line of King Thorvald's warriors, and reach the Jarl' s men. Lodver had been in a few minor battles in his younger days, but he was not prepared for such an onslaught as this ! For every one Viken warrior there had to be ten Agder fighters in their front ! As Lodver stabbed an enemy warrior in the abdomen through the shield wall he thought to himself : " Today is the day of my death ! " As the shield wall disintegrated, and the battle broke into individual combat, Lodver found himself screaming at the top of his lungs, and slashing at anything, and everything that moved before him with his sword.
The women could see their men being killed one by one, and they braced themselves for the attack that would come shortly. All eyes were on the slaughter taking place before them. They never saw Torberg Dagson, and his cavalry coming from the rear until they were almost upon them. Some of the village women were struck down even before they could turn to face their attackers. The ones who did turn around, fared little better ! From the doorway of her hut little six year old Freydis watched as her older brother was hit in the head by an axe, knocking him to the ground. As he lie there motionless Freydis ran over to him, and knelt down beside him. When she saw the brother she loved so much covered in blood she cried. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her mother killed. Freydis, for the first time in her life felt anger ! A feeling that started deep inside of her and then filled her with rage ! She picked up her brother's sword, and tried to lift his shield as well, but she could not manage both. Using a neighbor's hut to shield her back, she stood the shield up on end in front of her, and poked the sword out over the top it. One of the horse soldiers dismounted, walked over to Freydis, and bent down to lower himself to Freydis' level. " What have we here ? A little shield maiden ?" the warrior asked as he raised his sword to kill her. Freydis closed her eyes and poked the sword in the direction of the man' s eyes with all her might . The warrior was not suspecting the little girl to do anything, and froze just long enough for the sword to enter his left eye, and puncture his brain. Freydis just stood there in shock, and covered in the man's blood, as the warrior fell to the ground in pain. He writhed for a few moments in agony, and then he became still.
King Eyvind saw his warrior being stabbed, and ran over to kill the villager who had killed his warrior. As he raised his sword to strike a death blow, he saw the little girl hiding behind the shield. She was covered in blood, and looked terrified, but she still stood defiantly with her sword outstretched towards him. And then he saw her beautiful blue eyes, and the anger that fueled his blood lust suddenly disappeared, and he lowered his sword. The battle was almost over, and the king felt that he was in no danger, so he knelt down on one knee before the little girl. " What is your name little shield maiden ? " King Eyvind asked in a kind voice. " My name is Freydis ! " she shot back still waving the sword at the king. In one quick motion the king grabbed the sword, ripping it out of her hand, and picked her up over the shield. " Well that is a very pretty name for a shield maiden ! " the King said with a smile, as he looked into her beautiful blue eyes. Freydis gasped in a breath, and waited to see what would happen next !
But the king did not do what she expected him to do. King Eyvind of Agder, a man known for his brutality, raised his hand in the air and shouted : " Stop the killing ! As your king I command that this slaughter be halted ! " As his men slowly heard the king's order up and down the battle lines all those who wished to surrender were allowed to lay down their weapons and be spared. Only those who would not give up were killed.
Torberg rode over to King Eyvind and protested. " That little bitch killed one of my warriors Eyvind ! " he shouted. Three of King Eyvind' s personal guards stepped forward, and drew their swords, and stood ready to attack Torberg. " Watch your words Torberg ! I am the king of Agder boy, not you ! " the king angrily yelled back at him. " If your warrior could not kill this little girl then he was not much of a warrior to begin with ! He is of no loss to us ! " King Eyvind added. Faced with an angry king, and three swords pointed at him, Torberg backed down. " No, I suppose he was not a very useful warrior at that my lord. " he said putting his pride aside.
King Eyvind lifted little Freydis over his head, and shouted for all to hear : " I hereby adopt this little shield maiden named Freydis ! From this day forward she will be my daughter ! " At first his warriors were stunned by the announcement, but slowly a cheer rang up along the battlefield, and throughout the village. King Eyvind motioned for one of his guards, who stepped forward. King Eyvind handed the child to the guard, and told him to deliver the child to his wife Queen Gunnhild back in Agder. " Tell the queen what has happened this day, and tell her to look after our new daughter, Freydis. " the king said with a proud smile. As the guard began to walk away King Eyvind grabbed his arm tightly. " And let nothing happen to her, or I will have your head my friend ! " he said menacingly. The guard nodded and walked back to his horse.
Freydis had done something that Jarl Asbjorn, her father, nor any of the other villagers could do. She had saved her village from destruction, and had spared at least a few of the villager's lives as well. As Freydis was taken away on horseback, she passed the bodies of her mother and her father. She did not look away, but allowed the images to be burned into her memory. She would remember this day for the rest of her life. For now she had a new purpose. Revenge ! When the village faded into the distance she finally let her guard down, and allowed herself to cry as she rode off into an uncertain future.
End Part 3
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 4 : Growing Up Among Strangers .