King Rognvald's Death
Queen Busla had stayed up late keeping their many guests entertained in her husband' s absence. When she finally said her last good night she headed to the bed chamber. She had a bit too much to drink and was a little dizzy from the alcohol, and paid little attention to her sleeping husband. Before joining her husband in bed she changed into her night dress and combed her hair stroke after stroke. As she ran the bone comb through her hair she noticed that her husband had an odd look upon his face. Ever so slowly she walked over to Rognvald. When the realization of what had happened penetrated her drunken mind she dropped the comb and screamed ! The guards who stood watch over the bed chamber were the first to enter, followed by the hall guards who stood by the front entrance. The guards confirmed what the queen already knew. King Rognvald was dead.
The next morning King Rognvald' s body was placed in the great hall so that all could pay their last respects to the great leader of Hordaland. His body was surrounded by hundreds of flowers brought by those who came to honor their king, and to say goodbye. All of the warriors from his army worked on the grave mound, and by the second day it was ready for Rognvald' s remains. Queen Busla had sent out swift riders to East and West Hordaland the night of the king's death to summon her sons back to the great hall, and both Jarls had arrived by midday. Jarl Hrolf acted the part of a grieving son, but he was already wondering how his father's death would affect him. In his mind he had already begun to plan the reunification of Hordaland under his rule.
Jarl Thorkel on the other hand was truly suffering over the loss of his father. They had been very close, and King Rognvald was not only his father, but a close ally as well. He was also his mentor and Thorkel knew that he would miss his father on many levels. Thorkel's thoughts were concentrated on his funeral and his father's burial. He wanted everything to be as magnificent as his father's life had been. Distracted as he was he still noticed the secret glances his mother and Hrolf were exchanging, and had seen them whispering several times. One of the greatest lessons he learned from his father was that you had to observe everything because it was the one thing you missed that could, and probably would, kill you.
Queen Busla made sure that Hrolf understood that she would support him in whatever he felt was best for her husband' s kingdom. It was well known throughout Hordaland that King Rognvald, upon his death, wanted his sons to rule only half of his lands each. Queen Busla, however, believed that Hrolf, being the first born, had the legal right to rule over the entire kingdom. And of course she would be right there with him to share the power ! She also knew that this was not the place, or the time, to bring up such matters, and made sure that Hrolf was aware of it also. " All in good time. " she told him.
The burial was a somber but splendid affair. The king was placed in a small ship dressed in his finest robes, and then the ship was carried into the burial chamber below the mound. He was buried with his ornamental seax knife, sword, axe, and his best shield. These of course were provided for him to battle with in Valhalla. Various foods were placed in containers in the ship to give him ample food to take on his journey into the afterlife. Two baskets filled with apples were placed by his feet as a gift to the Gods for eternal life. Rognvald's horse, which he had named Sleipnir, in honor of Odin's great steed, was sacrificed in a sacred ritual by Odd, and the body of the animal was laid next to the ship in the chamber. King Rognvald had made it very clear that he wanted no maiden to accompany him on his journey into the afterlife, so none was sacrificed. Although this was the ancient custom, Rognvald thought it cruel and unnecessary.
Before the tomb was closed and the mound completed the skalds, Kormakr, and Helgi the wise, told the king's great life in metered verse after verse. It took hours for the skalds to finish their praise. King Rognvald had led a long and spectacular life, and there was much to praise ! When the skalds had finished the king's army walked over to the now closed tomb, one by one, and drank a toast to their king. They praised his many victories in battle after battle, and in war after war. All for their beloved Hordaland. They always left a little in their horns to pour out over the mound for the king to enjoy as well. Odd then sacrificed 9 goats, 9 bulls, and 9 chickens to honor their Gods in whose hands their king now lay. These were later cooked as part of the funeral feast that took place in the great hall.
Overlooking the burial mound was a small tree covered hill. Unseen in the shadow of an ash tree stood a large man who observed the entire funeral. Despite having only one eye Balegyr saw everything. He was especially interested in the whispering going on between Queen Busla, and her son Hrolf. "It is what you don' t observe that can, and probably will, kill you." Balegyr thought to himself.
When the sun had set, and everyone was feasting in the great hall, Balegyr walked down to the grave mound. As he reached the side of the mound near the door he thrust his three - headed spear into the ground at its base, and said softly : " Hello old friend ! " From off in the distance, and out of the northern sky a rider glided through the night sky. The Valkyrie slowly descended and gently landed on the top of the mound. Hildr dismounted and walked through the side of the earthen mound as if was not there. She appeared a moment later with King Rognvald. There were no words spoken between Baleygr and the Valkyrie, just a silent nod of respect. As Hildr flew back to Asgard, Balegyr grabbed his spear, and walked slowly back the way he came.
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2013.
End Part 5
Next : Chapter 6 : Brotherly Hate