The Yule Promise
The Long Goodbye
Valdarr placed a gloved hand in front of his face to block the stinging ice pellets. As his eyes watering eyes focused in on his home in the distance he almost wished he was still further away. How was he going to tell Eydis, his wife of less than a month, that he, along with most of the able-bodied men in the village of Saeheim, would soon be marching north to Sogn, under the command of their chieftain Skeggi ? Would she care that Harald, the king of Sogn, and Halfdan's son, had died and that the father now laid claim to his son's throne ? Would she understand that the land hungry Halfdan had recently defeated Hysing and Helsing, the sons of King Gandalf of Vingulmark, and that a third son had fled the kingdom allowing Halfdan, known as ' The Black ' because of the color of his hair, to add Vingulmark to his long list of conquests?
He shook his head repeatedly when he imagined Eydis crying in his mind's eye. But she would simply have to understand these dire circumstances ! Just as King Halfdan the Black had threatened Vingulmark, he now seemed to have set his sights on Hordaland as well. King Eirik, the King of Hordaland, had ordered each local chieftain to raise an army and march them to the border with Sogn to confront the land hungry king of Agder, Sogn, and Vingulmark. The Kingdom of Hordaland had to stop him ! They had no choice !
Eydis was sitting near the fire pit, stirring a cast iron cauldron filled with oxen stew that she had carefully and lovingly prepared for her husband, when the door suddenly opened, and a whirlwind of cold air and ice crystals flew into the room as if blown in by a mighty bellows. The cold breath of the air made her shiver slightly as she turned to greet her husband. The look on her husband's face gave her an even colder chill, and made her warm smile disappear as quickly as the fluttering ice flakes in the warm room.
" The weather has not improved ? " she asked.
Valdarr walked over to the fire and took off his thick gloves. As he warmed his hands he could smell the wonderful aroma of the stew as it bubbled up in the cast iron pot. Without looking at his wife, Valdarr replied to her question.
" No ! If anything it appears to be getting worse. " he told her nervously.
Eydis could tell by the shakiness of her husband's voice, and his reluctance to look at her, that the weather was not the most important thing on his mind.
" What is troubling my husband ? " she asked with a lump in her throat.
Valdarr took a deep breath, but still could not look his wife in the eyes as he spoke.
" Skeggi has been ordered to raise an army by King Eirik. We will leave on the first day of Spring for Sogn to face King Halfdan the Black. " he told his wife with a hint of reluctance.
Eydis tried not to let her husband see the shocked expression that came over her face. Slowly she stood up and walked over to the table. After placing the still steaming spoon down, she turned to Valdarr and put on a brave face for him.
" I am disappointed that we will be separated so soon after being bound in matrimony, but I know that you, and your comrades here in Hordaland, will defeat this King Halfdan, and that you will return home to me a hero ! " she replied with a fake smile plastered on her face.
Valdarr grinned as he finally summoned the courage to look his wife in the eyes. After setting his wet coat on the bench near the fire, he walked over to Eydis and hugged her tightly.
" I was hoping you would understand ! " he told her with a great sense of relief.
Valdarr kissed her hard on the lips several times, before adding with a boyish grin :
" We do still have two weeks before I have to leave. " he reminded her with a flirtatious wink.
Eydis could not help but return his grin with a little knowing smile of her own.
" And what should we do in these two weeks to pass the time ? " she asked sheepishly.
Valdarr's laugh sounded like a little boy's giggle as he pointed at their bed, which had a bear skin blanket on top of it.
" Well,...., if the stew can wait,...., that bed looks very warm and cozy. " he told Eydis with a smile that curled up nearly to his nose.
Eydis looked away, playing the part of a shy innocent woman.
" Why, whatever are you trying to say to me my love ? " she responded as if she did not understand.
Valdarr lifted Eydis and carried her over to the bed. With a raucous laugh he dropped her onto the bear skin.
" My wife acts the part of the virgin, but she has shown herself to be quite the vixen over the past few weeks ! " he told her proudly.
Eydis gave her husband a girlish pout.
" Promise me that you will return to me before the end of the year, and I will show you how a good wife treats her husband. " she told him.
Valdarr laughed again and raised his fist in the air.
" I promise you that I will return to you by the Yule time,.... and I will bring for you a very special Yule gift. " he assured his wife.
As they fell into each others arms Eydis replied to his oath.
" I will hold you to both of your promises ! " she told Valdarr, only half jokingly.
The stew was well overcooked by the time their lovemaking ended. Neither, however, cared in the least. And every night until the day of his departure their supper was spoiled by their lust for one another. Eydis thought of this time as ' The Long Goodbye ' .
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : The March To Sogn
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.