The Yule War
( The Greatest Gift )
A Fine Weapon
Geirdis had been dreading this moment for days. As her husband Knutr readied himself to leave for war, putting on his coat of mail and helmet, a sick feeling began to grow in the pit of her stomach. Before too long her fear and anxiety about being left all alone overtook her and she felt as if she would faint. Geirdis took several unsteady steps towards her husband, before collapsing in his arms.
" What is this ? " Knutr asked as he grabbed hold of his wife to prevent her from falling.
She did not answer. When he heard his wife whimpering, however, he knew that Geirdis was too upset to speak. To comfort his distraught wife Knutr gently stroked her long blonde hair.
" You promised me that you would be strong, and I know that you would not want the other women to see you acting like this. " he told her in a low whisper.
Geirdis raised her head off of her husband's chest, and gave him an angry stare.
" And you promised me that wars were not fought in the could harsh winter months. " she managed to reply in between her tears.
Knutr removed his helmet and kissed his wife on the forehead, then gently pushed her away to arms length.
" My dear, you cannot blame me because King Ottar of Opplandene does not follow the normal rules of war. I have been a commander in the Hedemark army for twelve years now, and I have never seen, .... nor have I ever heard of anyone fighting a, .... ' Yule War ' ! But these damned Upplanders are more acclimated to colder climates than we, and therefore do not mind the hardships of fighting in such harsh conditions. They use skis, and sleds, as easily as we use boots and wheeled carts. " he explained to her patiently.
Seeing that his words had not made her feel any better, he continued :
" And we have no choice but to fight ! King Nagli and Queen Magdalena have done their utmost over the past few years, but we are a kingdom that is surrounded on all sides by enemies. To our north Opplandene threatens our very existence. To our south is Romerike,.... and that kingdom is kept in check only by Queen Magdalena's relationship to the King of Romerike, and the treaty signed because of her marriage to King Nagli. Even the Swedes in the east give us no peace ! Constantly they attack us along our commong border ! Only the impenetrable mountains to our west act as our ally barring our enemies from having another way into our kingdom. ! " he told her in a harsher tone.
Geirdis, realizing that she was acting like a child, and not the wife a commander of the army, dried her eyes and composed herself before speaking again.
" I know that I am acting selfishly, but we have not even been married for a full cycle of the moon, and you are already leaving me alone to go off to war. " she told her husband in her own defense.
" That is why I have gotten you a special gift my love ! " he replied as he walked over to a chest at the foot of their bed.
Knutr unlocked the chest and opened the heavy lid with both hands. While still holding the lid with his left hand he reached in with his right and pulled out a long object that was wrapped in a cloth. After closing and locking the chest he walked over to Geirdis and handed it to her.
" Open it ! I promise you it will keep you as safe as if I were here with you ! " he told her with a big smile.
Geirdis looked at her husband suspiciously. The object felt heavy in her hands as she slowly unwound the wrapping of cloth. After exposing the covering on one end Geirdis could see the silver hilt of a sword. Immediately her face contorted into a sad pout.
" Do you really think that a sword can replace my husband ? " she asked sarcastically.
" In these times of hardship and strife a fine weapon such as this sword can be the greatest gift of all ! " he explained for with a touch of over exhuberance.
Geirdis finished unwrapping the sword and held it tightly to her breasts.
" This sword is hard and cold, not soft and warm like my husband. I can not kiss this sword, nor will it keep me warm and satisfied in bed. " she explained to her husband.
Knutr laughed again at his wife's criticism. He reached out and held her cheeks in his left hand and kissed Geirdis on the lips. Then he stepped back, and with his other hand he drew the sword from it's scabbard.
" That may well be my love, but it will give you a sense of security while I am gone, and may very well protect you should some of the Upplanders slip passed us. " he assured his wife.
Suddenly, Geirdis looked up at her husband with a shocked look upon her face.
" Our enemy might invade Hedemark and reach our village ! " she exclaimed with wide eyes.
Knutr immediately regretted telling her about the Upplanders. Luckily, just then, there was a knock at their door.
" Yes ! " Knutr shouted, thankful for the distraction.
" Commander ! It is time for us to leave ! If we are to catch up to King Nagli's army we must leave at once ! " Uddvarr, Knutr's second in command shouted through the door.
Knutr looked at Geirdis and watched as her expression changed from surprise to sorrow. A single tear rolled down her cheek before he could reply.
" I will be there momentarily ! " he answered his subordinate.
Knutr placed the sword back into it's scabbard, which Geirdis still held against her chest. He then kissed his wife gently on the lips, and hugged her one last time.
" Will my wife come out and see me off ? " he asked, now unsure of the answer.
Geirdis dried her eyes and lifted her chin. I promise that I will honor my husband by proudly seeing him off with the other warrior's wives, ....... I cannot, however, promise you how I will react after you are gone. " she told him bluntly.
Knutr forced himself to smile.
" Then that will have to be good enough. " he told her.
Geirdis did as she promised. She gallantly stood with the other wives waving goodbye to their men with white handkerchiefs. After the warriors had left, however, she ran to her hut, and crawled up in a ball upon her bed. Next to her, on Knutr' s pillow, she placed the sword he had given her. After many hours Geirdis cried herself to sleep.
- End Chapter 1
Next : Chapter : Fear Hides In Every Shadow
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.