The Queen Of Pain
A Price To Be Paid
Vetr wanted to please Brettifa, so the commander of the Royal Guard did what he could to protect the queen from the king's rage. And the only way the commander knew to stop King Kaldstein from beating his wife was to make sure that the king drank so much ale that he was incapable of doing much of anything at all.
Veter made sure that both Ragnvaldr, Nesbjorn, and King Kaldstein's drinking horns were never empty, while at the same time he barely sipped his own ale. Ragnvaldr, the commander of the army, was the first to retire to his quarters. He was a great warrior and leader, but never could quite hold his ale. Nesbjorn lasted a bit longer before he stumbled back to his hall, which left just King Kaldstein and Vetr to drink.
It took much longer for the king to become drunk. When he finally could barely hold up his head to drink any more Vetr enlisted the assistance of Nafni to help him bring the king to the guest hall. After plopping the king down on his bed, and removing his boots, Vetr dismissed Nafni, who had to be up early to relieve Unnvaldr. When Vetr was sure that the king posed no threat to the queen he quietly left and went looking for Brettifa.
Vetr found his love sitting on a tree stump at the edge of the village. As he came closer it became obvious to him that she had been crying.
" Has someone hurt you my dear ? " he asked as he knelt down in front of her.
Brettifa looked up at Vetr with red swollen eyes.
" The Gods do not care about us ! " she blurted out.
" And what has made my love so cynical ? " he asked.
" As you asked me to do, tonight I invoked the Gods, but they do not listen to us. " she replied sadly.
Vetr laughed again.
" Did you expect a God to come to Sokndal and smite King Kaldstein for you ? " he asked without trying to hide his amusement .
Brettifa began to cry again.
" If not the Gods, then who will help the queen ! ? " she asked angrily.
Vetr grabbed hold of Brettifa's hands and held them tight.
" We do not have the right to question the Gods' decisions my love ? " Vetr told her calmly.
Brettifa was tired and wanted to hear no more this night. She pulled her hands away from Vetr, got up, and walked to the small servant's hut, where she would bed down for the night, without saying another word, or even looking back at him.
Vetr sighed deeply, but knew better than to chase after her when she felt this way. He had learned that there were times when Brettifa simply wanted to be left alone. And this was surely one of them !
King Kaldstein awoke the next morning with a tremendous headache, and in a very foul mood. Kaldstein had a pain in his head that felt as though someone was driving a wedge into it with a sledge hammer, and a taste in his mouth that was damned near gagging him. It was then that he noticed his wife peacefully sleeping in an adjacent bed.
The simple fact that Birsla was in no pain, while he was suffering, infuriated the king. He wanted to knock her off the bed, and share some of his misery with her, but Kaldstein was well aware of the position of the king , and that he was no longer in Stavanger, but a guest here in Sokndal. He could not afford to have his underlings think less of him. At least not yet !
Kaldstein staggered to the door, and flung it open. The rising sun blinded the king, and made his pounding head spin. Unnvaldr, who had the night guard duty, quickly grabbed hold of the king to steady him.
" My Lord ! Is there anything I can do for you ! ? " Unnvaldr asked with a sense of urgency.
King Kaldstein pushed the warrior off of him before replying :
" Bring Vetr here immediately ! " the king bellowed.
Unnvaldr bowed to the king and then left to get the commander of the guard. He did not travel very far before he saw Vetr and Nafni walking towards him.
" My Lord ! Vetr is coming now ! " he informed the king.
Kaldstein could barely hold up his head, but he was able to make out two blurry figures headed his way.
" Good ! " Send him in immediately ! " the king commanded.
Vetr entered the darkened hall, and bowed to the king, who was sitting on the edge of one of the beds.
" You wish to see me my Lord ? " Vetr asked.
" Yes ! I want you to tell Nesbjorn that I want to see him down at the docks when Sunna is at the midpoint of her journey ! " he ordered.
" I will bring him there myself ! " Vetr replied.
King Kaldstein set his head back down upon his pillow to stop the room from spinning.
" Good ! " the king whispered.
" Oh, and Vetr,.... have a handmaiden bring me some fresh water to drink. I need to flush this foul taste out of my mouth ! " he added.
Vetr was able to hold back a laugh, but not a grin.
" Yes, my Lord ! " Vetr told his ailing king before he left the hall.
Vetr went to see Ragnvaldr first, and told him about the noon meeting at the docks. When he arrived at the servants hut he saw that Brettifa was already fully dressed and was about to leave to attend to the queen. When he told Brettifa of the king's condition she smiled.
You are always so good to the queen ! " she said with a wicked little grin.
" I did it as much for you as for Queen Brisla ! " he told his love.
Brettifa placed her arms around Vetr and kissed him.
" You are so good to me too ! " she told him.
" Oh ! I almost forgot ! The king wants you to bring him some fresh water. " Vetr suddenly remembered.
Brettifa gave Vetr an evil stare.
" Shall I poison it ? " she asked sarcastically.
" No ! " Vetr replied with a laugh.
Brettifa faked a pout before asking.
" Well, can you walk me to the guest hall ? "
Vetr kissed her on the forehead.
" I am afraid not my dear ! The king wants me to make sure that Nesbjorn is down at the docks by noon. And judging by how much the chieftain drank last night I fear that he is in no better shape than King Kaldstein. " he told her with a slight chuckle.
Brettifa kissed him again, and then pulled away.
" Then I guess I will see you later ! " she told him with a smile.
Escorted by Nafni and Ragnvaldr the king was late in coming down to the docks. For once he looked worse than the queen ! Nesbjorn was obviously nervous about what he knew was the subject of the king's visit. He had promised King Kaldstein that he would be able to supply ten new dragon long ships by spring, and only seven floated in the fjord. Worse yet only four of the seven were completely fitted out with oars, sail, and rigging for immediate use. As the king approached the docks Vetr and Nesbjorn could tell that the king was in no mood for nonsense.
" Good morning my Lord ! I trust you slept well ? " Nesbjorn asked with a weak smile.
Kaldstein looked down at the chieftain with red blurry eyes. Ignoring all pleasantries, the king pointed to the docks and shouted ;
" Where are my ten ships that you promised me ! ? " he asked angrily.
Nesbjorn bowed apologetically.
" My Lord ! We ran into some problems, but seven of the ten ships are afloat, and three more are being worked on as we speak right over there. " he told the king as he pointed off to the left of the docks at the three ships under construction.
King Kaldstein looked over at the three ships that were in various stages of completion.
" Unacceptable !! " the king shouted.
Knowing the king's anger the queen looked over at Brettifa with wide eyes. Both wondered what would happen next !
Nesbjorn bowed again.
" But my Lord, my people have been working their fingers to the bone to finish your ships. We are a little behind, but I assure you that by the first day of summer they will be completed and ready for delivery. " the chieftain replied hopefully.
King Kaldstein walked over to Nesbjorn and grabbed hold of his right hand.
" You say that your men have been working their fingers to the bone ? " the king asked sarcastically.
Terrified, Nesbjorn answered quickly.
" Yes ! Yes, my Lord ! I swear that we have all been working very hard on your ships ! " he answered with a hint of panic in his voice.
The king pushed the chieftain's hand down onto a barrel that was standing next to them, with his fingers sticking straight out over the edge.
" Well obviously working your fingers to the bone is not good enough ! " the king screamed.
Kaldstein pulled his sword out of its scabbard and raised it over his head.
" And definitely not good enough for me !! " he shouted angrily.
The king swung his sword down upon the hand that he held tightly against the barrel. There was a slight delay between the the thud of the sword striking the wood, after slicing off Nesbjorn's fingers, and the chieftain's pitiful screams.
Vetr, Nafni, and Ragnvaldr could tell what was about to happen, but all three were stunned for a moment anyway by the brutality of the act. After the king sheathed his sword, Kaldstein threw the chieftain to the ground. Nesbjorn lay writhing in pain on the ground for a moment before the king motioned for the chieftain's guards to help him.
" I will be back in one month.... and I had better see ten ships fully rigged and ready to sail, ..... ,or I will cut off the fingers from your other hand as well ! " the king shouted.
Then he added with a smirk.
" Remember, there is always a price to be paid for incompetence ! "
" Do you understand Nesbjorn ? ! " the king asked angrily.
Trembling, and in shock, the chieftain nodded as his warriors tied a tourniquet to his wrist to stem the bleeding.
" I am sorry . I did not hear you !! " the king screamed.
" Yes ! " was all the chieftain could manage before he passed out, and had to be carried back to his hall.
As the king turned to walk back to the guest's hall, he along with everyone else in attendance noticed that Queen Birsla had fainted as well. As he stood over Brettifa, who was attempting to revive the queen, Kaldstein shook his head in disgust.
" Vetr ! Nafni ! ! Bring that weak bitch back to the hall ! " the king commanded angrily.
The commander and his guard ran over to where Brettifa was cradling the queen's head in her lap. The handmaiden gave Vetr an angry look before speaking :
" Women should not have to see such things ! " she whispered.
Vetr and Nafni looked at one another, but said nothing. Nafni grabbed the queen under the arms, while Vetr lifted her legs. They carried the queen back to the guest hall, and gently laid her on the bed closest to the fire pit. Brettifa stayed with the queen until she was fully recovered from the shock. Then, as evening fell, the king dismissed everyone. Brettifa and Vetr glanced at one another before they stepped out of the hall. Both had a bad feeling about what might happen next.
King Kaldstein's rage got the better of his reason that night. The queen's screams filled the village of Sokndal with a horror they had never experienced there before. Unnvaldr left his post, something he had never done before, and walked into the nearby woods because he could not bear to hear anymore. The king beat and raped Birsla mercilessly, for he no longer cared what the incompetent people of Sokndal thought of him.
In the servant's hut Brettifa cupped her hands over her ears to muffle the screams, but she could not stop her body from trembling. She wanted the king to stop ! She wanted the king dead !!
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : Left For Dead
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.