The Little Shield Maiden
Point Of No Return
It took Freydis and Margad a week of hard marching to reach the mountains that separated Viken from Ranrike. They of course had no intention of crossing the mountains. They simply ordered their men to turn around on the high ground overlooking the valley below. It was here, hidden in the treeline, that they would wait for the main army. And it was here that they would begin their war of treason against King Eyvind. They had reached the point of no return !
Some of the soldiers were getting nervous about turning on their king now that the moment was upon them. Freydis and Margad sensed this and went around together and talked to the men in small groups reassuring them that their plan was a solid one, and that they would be victorious. Many of the men began to see Freydis and Margad for what they would become, when and if, they defeated King Eyvind. They would of course be king and queen of the lands of Agder, Viken, and Vestfold. And although many of the men had suspected nothing of a possible relationship between the two, they all remarked at how well they looked together, and how well they worked as a team. Yes ! Most of the warriors felt they would make wonderful leaders, and their children would be strong jarls, and the future kings of Agder.
That night Margad wanted to sleep with Freydis, but Freydis wanted to be alone. She had planned most of her life to get revenge for the killing of her parents and her brother, and now that the time had come she had something much more important than sex that she felt she had to do before the morning light . As the moon rose to its highest point, Freydis walked out into the forest with a young goat. She had noticed a small rock formation just outside of camp when they first arrived, and the flat surface on the top of the formation made a perfect altar. She hallowed the space with a hammer she wore in honor of Thor, and then led the goat to the flat stone. She called out to the great Gods of war. " Thor, Tyr, Great Odin, great Gods of battle, war and death ! Tonight I honor you with a blood sacrifice, so that tomorrow you will honor me with a victory against King Eyvind. " Freydis then held the goat's head hard against the rock, and as she sliced through its neck she cried out : " With this offering of blood I ask that you grant me the revenge I have waited for all of my life. Please do not deny from me the revenge that is rightfully mine ! " she shouted with anger in her voice . Then Freydis remembered how so many of her warriors compared her to the Goddesss Skadhi, and she added a final offering to the archer Goddesss : " And I ask you, great archer Goddess Skadhi, to help me, and my warriors, by making Erling's archers aim be true tomorrow, because they are the key to our success. As I now hold the head of this sacrificial goat in my hands, great Gods of Asgard and Vanaheim, let me one day hold King Eyvind's head in the same way. I want to look into his dead eyes, and spit into his cold face ! I ask for the right to do this. No ! I demand the right to avenge my parents, and my brother ! " she shouted into the night air. As she walked away from the altar the goats blood continued to drip over the edge of the rock, and coated the ground. Above the altar, up in one of the higher branches of a fir tree, sat quietly two ravens who witnessed the entire ritual. After Freydis left they glided down and drank some of the blood. They then flew away into the night sky. Freydis dragged the goat back to camp, and woke up the cook . She threw the goat on the ground in front of him, and demanded that he cook the goat for her breakfast. The groggy cook agreed, and began to prepare the goat. Freydis then went to her tent to sleep. Margad, who could not sleep, saw the two black birds as they crossed the moon's face, and wondered if it was a good omen or a bad one.
The morning began cool and foggy. As Freydis ate her goat stew she thought to herself that it would be nice if the fog remained until midday when King Eyvind arrived. But she saw that Sunna was already rising out of the mist with all her fury into the morning sky, and knew that it would not last. King Eyvind had unknowingly helped Freydis and Margad by sending a courier ahead to let them know when he would be arriving. The courier, who suspected nothing, was allowed to leave with a message from Freydis telling her foster father that all was well, and that they looked forward to seeing him soon.
Margad had never seen Freydis as intense as she was on this morning. After breakfast she rode up and down the lines of both divisions of her army inspecting their positions, and shouting out encouragements to the warriors. The men could hear in her voice a new determination, and they knew that the time was growing near. Her very presence, on what would very soon be a battlefield, made the men calmer, and more willing to fight and sacrifice their lives for her. Every man felt that If a woman could be this confident of victory, and willing to die for what she believed in, then how could they be any less determined to do the same. Some saw her as a Valkyrie, while others saw her as a Goddess of War. All were willing to die for her !
As Sunna approached her apex a courier arrived announcing that King Eyvind was only a short distance away. The rider looked over at her warriors and asked : " Why are your men in battle formation ? " It was the last thing that the man ever uttered. Freydis pulled out her sword, and thrust it into his chest silencing him forever. She then sent a messenger over to Margad to warn him that King Eyvind was close, and to be prepared for battle at any moment. Freydis had great confidence in her plan, but she was a little concerned about Erling Arneson, and his archers. If he did not help her, or fought for King Eyvind, it would be a very tough battle to win !
King Eyvind stopped his men at the edge of the clearing. In the distance he could barely make out the battle lines of Margad's and Freydis' warriors, who were partially hidden in the tree line. He could not understand why they were in battle formation and facing away from Ranrike. King Eyvind did not like the looks of this, and commanded Torberg Dagson to have two of his fast cavalymen deliver a message to Freydis, asking her what the situation was. Moments after they left, two riderless horses returned to King Eyvind' s line. King Eyvind had his answer ! If his bitch of a daughter wanted a fight, then by the Gods he was going to give her a fight. King Eyvind ordered Harek Kolbeinson to form a battle line, in two wings, ready to move forward when he gave the orders. He then told Torberg to form his men up to attack the traitors who were hiding in the tree line across the clearing. King Eyvind further commanded Erling Arneson to position his archers on his flanks to protect his army from an attack, and to support the cavalry. When King Eyvind saw that everyone was in place, he took out his sword and waved it in the direction of Freydis in a sort of salute. Freydis took out her sword, and returned the honor. What King Eyvind had failed to notice was that the archers had positioned themselves a little further out than usual.
King Eyvind was ready ! If his little bitch of a daughter wanted his kingdom then she could try, but Eyvind was planning on giving her all she could handle and more. With a single thrust of his sword into the air, King Eyvind signaled the cavalry to begin the attack. " I gave you everything Freydis, and now I will take it all away ! " he screamed across the clearing. Freydis heard every word. " Today is a good day to die foster father ! " she said under her breath.
End Chapter 8
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
Next : Chapter 9 : Father Against Daughter !