Still some time left to fight/vote! I will close the poll on Saturday… which is as we all know, Valentine’s Day- a day for love, peace and togetherness! So, no matter who wins or loses the battle, we will put down our shields and celebrate a well fought battle! The Shieldmaidens have come from behind and are currently the favored odds on favorites but that could change at a moment’s notice so continue to fight!
Now on to our memories of the past…
As I told of earlier, we all attended Thyri’s wedding and wept to see her put up such a brave front in the midst of this arranged marriage which would bring Earl Haraldson such great profit and alliance with greater powers who might prove helpful should he face revolt again in the future. The rather repulsive and disgusting groom, Earl Bjarni was a cousin of King Horik, whom we would all meet later… Haraldson took great pains to stress the importance of this marriage and alliance to Siggy and remind her that the marriage was about far more than just Thyri’s happiness.
Thyri tried so hard to maintain her dignity and hold her head high going into this marriage no matter how grieved she was at her fate. As we attended the wedding feast and watched her, we all felt such sadness for the girl. I think of course, none was so sad as Siggy?
We were all surprised by Rollo’s appearance at the wedding feast for Thyri, the one who had once been used a promise- a pawn- to gain his allegiance to Haraldson? We all knew well that Haraldson now viewed Rollo as a traitor and was watching him closely to see if he would lead to Ragnar? Why would Rollo take such chance as to show up at this time? Did he not know, realize how much danger he was in from Haraldson? Why would he do this… many say it was because Rollo did not think ahead, did not think of consequences, acted on his impulses rather than common sense. At times, I would have to agree with those words about him. In this instance, I believe though that Rollo perhaps thought this might be the best time to approach Earl Haraldson? Haraldson would not want a blood letting or fight to mar his daughter’s wedding to Earl Bjarni. He would not want Earl Bjarni to know so much about what other real problems there were within his small kingdom… it would not look good to have this more powerful Earl see that he was in a battle for control of his people?
What ever his reasons were, he chose to approach the Earl on this night. Later that evening he met with Haraldson outside and confronted him about being followed and harassed for no other reason than being Ragnar’s brother. He tells Haraldson, “You own everything I do not want to be on the outside I want to raid and fight that is what I do.”
Earl Haraldson gives thought to Rollo’s words and advises him that he may work on the boats until such a time as Haraldson makes a decision on his trustworthiness?
Siggy watched this meeting from the shadows and did not trust that any of it would go well? I have said often that I do not know for sure of what may have transpired between Siggy and Rollo before this night… I only know that on this night, Siggy made her choice to involve herself more deeply in Rollo’s life.
Now, normally Siggy did not involve me in her personal affairs so much and I appreciated that. There are times when the less we know about certain things, the better off we are? But, after this night, she did ask me to help her? She put it more as helping Rollo than her… she swore he was in grave danger and would not take serious heed to warnings of Haraldson’s deceptions or his hatred of all Ragnar’s family. I did not know what she thought I could do to help in this matter but she said that all I need to was make some excuse for her absence if any should ask after her? She was determined to meet with Rollo even though I did warn her that she was putting herself in equally grave danger? What if Haraldson should find out of this? Siggy shook this off and told me in confidence that those many were right about Rollo- he was too trusting, and too often believed people’s promises to him…
She arranged a meeting with him to warn him of the danger.
Her warning was in vain though, because as he made to leave, he was set upon by Haraldson’s men.
Haraldson showed his truest hatred and seemed to take great relish in his torture of Rollo? I did never mention my thoughts on this to Siggy, but I think perhaps he knew something of Siggy’s involvement with Rollo and thus took even more revenge on the man?
I will admit to my small part in helping Siggy to find where Rollo was being kept… I was but a maid moving around the grounds and could more easily hear of things than she would be privy to? I think Haraldson did not trust her so much either now… I did help her into that room and then waited in shadows outside for her. She was overcome with her grief, and guilt, I think at the treatment of him? I mention guilt because I do think she knew in some way that this was far greater torture and punishment than called for on any level? Was it guilt because she did not warn him sooner, or was it guilt because she had in some way been a part of this? I do not know, for she never spoke of it after this.
Before I could warn her to leave, Earl Haraldson showed up and found her in the room with Rollo.
Siggy kept her silent vigil as Haraldson continued to take his revenge on Rollo, asking him “Where is Ragnar Lothbrok?” It did no good to so continuously torture Rollo for he did not know!
Only a few knew of Ragnar and his family’s hiding place far up in the hills and woods at Floki’s home. He had been close to death when young Bjorn searched for Floki and begged him to help. Helga was there with Floki and later told me the story of how Bjorn had shown up asking for help. They took the family in and hid them well with only those few closest to them ever knowing the truth.
Despite his disgust for the priest Athelstan, floki grudgingly admitted that there was some worth to him and all of them worked feverishly through the next weeks to keep Ragnar alive.
During that time Athelstan learned much more about the Norse Gods as Floki and the others shared stories to help pass the time.
Athelstan could not hide his interest and his fascination with their stories…
Their peace and Ragnar’s healing was interrupted by Torstein’s arrival to tell them of Rollo’s capture and torture.
Ragnar was far from recovered of his wounds but decided that it was time to face Haraldson anyway and put end to the matter one way or another. Let the Gods decide on his fate in this battle…
He sent Floki to Kattegat with message and challenge Haraldson to a personal combat with him, making it clear that if Haraldson refuses then shame will stalk him forever and Odin will never allow him into his halls.
In Kattegat, Rollo’s life as well as the rest of ours hung on edge… Siggy must find some way to convince Earl Haraldson that Rollo meant naught to her, that she was as loyal and faithful as ever to the Earl and that she would stand with him no matter what. She knew now exactly what her husband was capable of doing to any or all of us that he might view as traitors to his will and his cause. It only Floki’s arrival and message from Ragnar that saved us all, that is my personal belief on it.
I must remind all who read this that despite the thought that the story is of just Ragnar and his glories… it is not! It is so much more than just a telling of Ragnar Lothbrok’s life. Many often think only of Ragnar, of his deeds but I am here to tell the stories of those others like Rollo and Siggy along with others who often fell into the shadows of Ragnar’s larger than life exploits. I must tell the story as I see it, as I know of it from the perspectives of all of those who shared in the events of his life, good and bad such as they were.
Siggy and Rollo, they are my friends and their stories matter just as much as Ragnar’s or anyone else’s. Ragnar’s actions dragged all of us into this change of our world whether we should liked to have gone or not. Such is the case of Siggy and Rollo. In order to understand how they came to be who and what they are now to each other, we must see what happened to both of them in those early years to bring them together.
Despite what Siggy might have felt to Rollo at the time, she did love her husband once upon a time. She loved the man he used to be not the one he had become before the deaths of their sons, before the coldness and bitterness set in on him and the need for power and control at all costs took over his life and his mind. When Floki arrived that day with Ragnar’s challenge, I think that she feared the worst for us all no matter what the outcome? If her husband won, all those who might have sided with Ragnar or even been connected to him in the slightest of ways would see their own deaths as well as his. If Ragnar won? Well, if Ragnar won, her husband would die… and where would that leave her and her daughter, Thyri as well? In those few days before the challenge she sought to find peace with herself and with her husband.
Floki arrived with his message, the challenge of personal combat to Earl Haraldson from Ragnar
The Earl’s henchman, Sven makes comment about how ridiculous this challenge is. Ragnar Lothbrok is nothing, a wanted man- how dare he think to issue such challenge to one such the Earl?
Floki tried to remain unphased and continued his speech about how bad it would look for the Earl to refuse such challenge?
After some thought on it, the Earl agreed to this challenge, knowing it would be the death of either Ragnar or himself.
After the challenge was accepted, the worst fears and doubts were faced by all?
Haraldson prayed to his Gods but found no signs or answers…
Siggy watched on as the man that she had loved for so long gave up the fight before it had even begun. In those darkest hours, she remembered who he had been and felt his pain. She stayed by him trying to comfort him, give him some peace and some strength to fight this battle for as I said, she feared what his loss would mean for her and Thyri… and she had loved him deeply once. It was those memories she held to as she tried to give him that courage, that warrior self that he was losing now.
It was during those hours that Haraldson admitted his respect, his honor of Ragnar Lothbrok. “He is what I used to be… ambitious, restless and he was right about the west. But, then I knew that in my heart.
He acknowledges, “Tomorrow I must kill a man for whom I have the utmost respect for.”
Siggy, at a loss for words, hands him back the locks of hair from their sons. in attempt to give him some added support and belief, she whispers, “Believe at least in them if not yourself that the Gods are with us.”
They passed the long night together and I do think that they both knew in their hearts that this was their closure, their goodbye to one another?
Thyri spent the night with her new husband and tried not to think of the future, or of the coming battle between her Father and Ragnar Lothbrok.
Her husband of course wanted to know more of this, of this man Ragnar Lothbrok but Thyri refused saying, “I do not talk of him, he is my Father’s enemy.”
Lagertha spent that night voicing her own fears…
Let us leave this place, go away from here. There are other places we can go to and live in peace…
Daylight came and everyone made ready for this final battle between two warriors, each for their own honor. For that is what it came down to, two men fighting for their personal honor. Two men, one who could not let go of the past and one who embraced the future. In the end, they honored and respected each other for in each other, they saw themselves.
In battle, they were well evenly matched and both fought honorably knowing that in this their final battle, an honorable death to one of them would be the only outcome.
At the end, Earl Haraldson lost the battle but Ragnar assured him of his well done fight and his journey to Valhalla.
Siggy’s worst fear had become reality. She kneeled next to her husband and made a last effort to save him
but he pushed her hand away and said, “Do not grieve, Tonight I shall be drinking with our boys”
As her husband died there in front of her, Siggy found her last strength…
She stepped back from her husband and loudly proclaimed her loyalty to Ragnar Lothbrok in a voice which demanded the respect of everyone else standing out there.
Do not tell me this did not take great courage on her part, as did her next action… a final action she took to save her daughter’s future. While everyone was standing there in stunned shock, she grabbed a knife and went to Thyri’s husband, Earl Bjarni, stabbing him to death.
It was not until that act was completed that she walked away from the crowd in her own dazed shock.
The Earl’s henchman, who will forever live in my mind by the name of Piggy Henchman- I shall not honor him with his given name, he does not deserve that respect! He tried still to hold on to power after the Ear’s death, commanding the men to kill Ragnar.
Rollo calmly picked up an axe and finished the henchman’s miserable life!
At that end, he still thought there might be some chance? The man looked like he was debating on whether to pull the axe out or not?
For everyone in the village, this whole event became a blur of so much shock and change that it was difficult to sort it all out until much later. Suddenly in a matter of moments, Ragnar Lothbrok was now the Earl of Kattegat! All of the men immediately wanted to make their allegiance to him known, and be sure that there was no question or doubt about the event that had given him this honor. He was quickly swept into the Great Hall, in much of a stupor and daze himself.
He tried to dissuade them all, saying there was no need as they were all his friends. They would not be argued with and insisted on this ritual. Then came an old man up to the throne, whom Ragnar did not know so he asked him his name and what his intent was?
The old man’s words were sincere and heartfelt, but Rollo was never one for tact or subtly made a less than honorable comment to the man. This was one of those time when many of us wanted to reach over and slap him for his unthinking remarks as Tostig took his oath of allegiance to Ragnar!
Later, Rollo made his own oath of allegiance and loyalty to his brother. Ragnar insisted there was no need because Rollo had already suffered greatly in showing his loyalty.
Rollo is adamant about swearing his loyalty
Rollo speaks from his heart. He vows his loyalty, wishes Ragnar good fortune from the Gods and his last words are ones that he believes Ragnar will hold to? “I hope that we will ever be equal now, my brother”
Rollo speaks from his heart, and he thinks that his brother does as well? But, this was one of those moments when Siggy and many others were right… Rollo puts too much trust and faith in some, he still believed then that his brother would treat him as an equal in their relationship?
Rollo firmly believed that Ragnar would treat him as an equal, as a partner… When he came upon Siggie and Thyrie making plans to flee for their lives, he made a promise, a statement to Siggy that said as much.
Siggy was in a panic thinking that Rollo had come to do Ragnar’s bidding and put end to them as well. After all, it was much a common practice… she was expecting such and was in a hurry to escape with Thyri.
“Even if we don’t die, everyone will shun us like a bad smell nor take us in even though we have nowhere else to go” Siggy had told me of this earlier and bade me go to Lagertha to swear my allegiance and offer my services to her.
Rollo offered her his own protection and swore none would kill her or Thyri, much less Ragnar.
Rollo believed he would hold equal status with Ragnar and offered marriage to Siggy… Thus began their long and complicated relationship!
Of course, it must be said that this offer came after he realized that his wishful thinking of some future with Lagertha was just that… wishful thinking and nothing more. He had witnessed a moment between Ragnar and Lagertha where he knew that there was nothing between them save his unshared feelings for her. That moment when Lagertha announced that she was carrying another child of Ragnar’s, Rollo’s pain at that was so visible. He could not hold his feeling within and so it was afterwards that he made his offer to Siggy. If he could not have Lagertha, then he would have an Earl’s wife for his own…. Rollo and Siggy’s relationship began out of hurt and desperation on both their parts but they did come to care deeply for each other.
Rollo and Siggy have a love that many do not understand… It was not born of fairy tales of childish dreams and fantasies. Their lives have been painful and oft filled with darkness. But, sometimes love is painful and it grows from those darkest and deepest cuts to the heart.
Siggy’s heart and soul were broken, Rollo gave her a way to go on, to come out of that darkness and reach for life again. Rollo’s heart and spirit were broken as well, and he was filled with doubt. Siggy gave him strength and purpose over the years to keep fighting the doubts, to be a better man. Theirs is a story of two troubled and broken people fighting from the ashes of life to survive.