Myths, legends of ancient world - Sigurd and Brynhild

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Sigurd and Brynhild

The young man sat upon the bed of stone, his gaze drinking in the beauty of the maiden who slept at his side. 

From the auburn curls that fell over her pillow to the slender hands that lay uncurled upon her chest, Brynhild was exquisite. But it was not her beauty alone that captivated the man. 

Days earlier, Sigurd had ridden through the wall of fire on his horse Grani and had found a warrior asleep on this very bed, in helmet and byrni. 

At first he had thought the sleeping warrior was a man but having removed the helmet, he had realized that she was a young woman. 

Having cut the byrni which was fitted so tightly around her frame that it seemed to have grown into her skin, the young man had watched the girl open her eyes and sit up. She had been a Valkyrie, one of Odin’s warrior women who took the souls of warriors from the battlefield to Valhalla. 

Brynhild however, had disobeyed the great god by taking the life of a king she had been forbidden to touch, thus saving the young warrior she had been sent to kill. 

As punishment for her defiance, Odin had put Brynhild to sleep in a castle surrounded by a towering wall of fire. 

Now at last, the Valkyrie had been awoken and Sigurd had heard with his own ears the evidence of the rumours he had heard about her. 

Stories about the sleeping shield maiden called her the fairest of the fair and the wisest of the wise but Sigurd had not known what that meant until he had heard the girl speak. 

Wiser by far than the old learned sages he had met, Brynhild quickly captured the youth’s heart with her intelligent words and wise counsel. 

“Surely, you are the wisest in all the land,” he had said in amazement. “Please share more of your wisdom with me.”

And smiling, the girl had continued to speak, advising her visitor about life and love and sharing with him the secrets to happiness.

“I am not worthy of you, wise and beautiful Brynhild,” Sigurd had said at the end of the day, taking her hand in his own. “But if you will accept me, I wish to make you my wife for I swear before the gods that I will never love another.”

Brynhild had quickly placed her finger upon his lips and her eyes glistened suddenly with tears.

“Do not speak too soon of never loving another, my dearest Sigurd,” she whispered. 

“I know all too well how cruel the fates can be and I feel that some great sorrow awaits our love. But despite my fears I too have fallen in love with you and will have no other as my husband.”

The pair thus spent the days together happily, nourishing their love so that it grew deeper and stronger with every passing hour. 

“Why can I not take you with me?” Sigurd now asked the sleeping girl, running his hand gently along her brow. Brynhild smiled in her sleep and breathed deeply.

Sigurd sighed remembering their conversation the evening before.

“You are meant to continue your travels Sigurd,” Brynhild had told him. “You have much to do and your path will lead you to wonderful adventures that will make your name known far and wide. I cannot be a part of this journey for you must seek glory alone.”

“What do I want of glory when I have found love?” Sigurd had protested. 

“And why can’t you come with me as my wife?”

“I will wait for you here upon my mountain,” Brynhild had replied. “But you must promise to return to me when you become weary of travelling and then, I shall go with you as your wife.”

“I will promise more than that my love,” Sigurd had said, drawing his sword and placing his hand upon it. 

“I swear that I will think of you night and day and that no maiden however wise or beautiful will ever make me forget the love I have for you. I am yours entirely Brynhild and shall never belong to another.”

As he spoke Brynhild began to weep, covering her lovely face with her hands.

“Why do you cry?” Sigurd had asked, taking her in his arms, but the girl had only held him tightly as though she would never let him go.

As the sun rose upon the castle within the circle of fire, Sigurd led out his horse Grani while Brynhild stood watching from the doorway. 

The pair had said all they needed to say and now, without a word, the young man mounted his horse. With a final glance at the beautiful woman upon the caste steps, Sigurd turned his horse around and rode out through the wall of fire.

Brynhild watched him disappear and then the tears she had been holding back, made their way down her cheeks.

“My Sigurd,” she wept. “Such a sweet oath you have made, to love me and me alone. But the gods are cruel and soon, my love, you will fall into a cruel trap. You will forget me my darling and your heart, which now overflows with your love for me, will be blinded and your senses will be ensnared by another. 

Never again will I hold you in my arms, my Sigurd.”

But Sigurd who was now making his way slowly down the mountain could not hear any of her words. Oblivious to the danger that awaited his heart, he rode on, his mind filled with sweet memories of his Brynhild.

 

What would become of Sigurd the son of Sigmund? Would he fall into a trap as Brynhild predicted? If so, what would become of the Valkyrie whose heart Sigurd had won? We will find out next time…

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