He made me calm. I knew I was dreaming. I knew that I had fallen asleep on the pallet in my garret. Warm still from my Snorralaug.
I could not stop my thoughts returning to Hallveig. Not her final days, when she suffered so, but to the times when we first met on the road. She was like a wildcat seeking to have revenge upon me or at least restitution for the wrong I had done to her husband. Yet it must have been the Gods that brought us to that meeting, merged our lives together like the opposite ends of iron stone. There was something in her face, in her eyes, that dispelled her fury and spoke to me. It was as if we were known to each other in another lifetime, far beyond Iceland, far beyond the cold winds, beyond the fire breathed out from the fissures in the earth, far beyond the time that we lived in, even beyond the heavens. The thought of it made me calm, like him.
‘Harriet,’ I heard him say.
I did not know this word but I repeated it in my sleep, in my dream of him. As I spoke the word, Hallveig’s face appeared before me. Not her angry harsh face, the one she used to dispel arguments or chastise weak minded servants. It was her kind face, the one that was shown only to me when we were alone together, sharing our lives in intimacy.
He was there, seated cross legged, his palms upward, eyes closed. He was like a cloud. ”My finger hurts,” he said. Such an odd thing.
“There is blood in the water,” he said. Another odd thing. Then he showed me the axe being washed clean in my Snorralaug. “It is for you,” he said. “it is too late. It is the end in this time, for you and for me. Don’t be afraid, it is beginning again.”
A very strange thing to dream. It gave me a momentary fright but then as we all do when we realize we are in the nether world of sleep and it is the imagination of our dream, our fear dissipates. I have often mused that the wonders encountered during our sleep might portend the future or images of heaven or even hell. Or perhaps Valhalla, that majestic, enormous hall in Asgard, ruled over by Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by Valkyries.
I confess I feared coming to my death in combat. Though the thrill of the fight and the thought of death brings one closer to the love of life, it is my fear of pain that holds me back, that makes me avoid violent conflict. I have killed. More than that, I have had men killed. Killed away from me so that I need not witness the violence. It is more likely that Odin would reject me, and send me with my weakness and cowardice to the goddess Freyja’s field, Fólkvangr. I should feel shame, but I do not. Still, I should like to see Valhalla, the hall of the valiant, the place where we Vikings slain in battle go to be with other valiant warriors of our kind. But perhaps I am undeserving. It seems more likely I shall never see that place, that I will be consigned to heaven or, hopefully, not to hell, though I fear this is the reward I have earned.
He reached his hand to me. “Come,” he said. “We’ll go together.”
I touched his hand. He grasped mine hard and as he did I was flooded with memories of things that had not happened yet, from my lives, our lives in times far away, beyond understanding. It was terrifying; it was wonderful.
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