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Chapter 11 Revenge

CHAPTER 11 REVENGE

The winds of change prevailed. The City of Worms attended to the departure of the societies cream of the crop. The astonishing juggernaut of 1000 warriors was quite a sight. That Burgundians moved towards east. The days went by and after weeks on their way the landscape changed. It got wilder every day, and the people of the Rhine felt amazement by the foreign country. Finally, they reached the Castle of Count Rudiger the suitor of Atilla. The guests enjoyed heartfelt hospitality and had a rest for several days. They recovered from the hot traveling in and found relief in Hot Springs and simple pleasures of life.

And as life goes, Giselher here, fell in love with Ruddigers beautiful daughter, Dietlind. Before departure, he asked Rudiger for the hand of his daughter. And Rudiger was delighted and agreed. It seemed to be another perfect match. And joy filled the hearts of all. The dark times seemed to melt away. Rudiger went ahead to guide his guests to Atilla’s place. They had to travel for some more weeks and one bright afternoon, a steep mountain appeared.

The summit was crowned by huge castle. Numerous towers were rising into the four winds bar. Mighty walls protected the magnificent stronghold and the whole architecture caught the Burgundians by surprise. Maybe it was the foreign construction of the keep? Or was it just a trick of the light. For some, the impressive Castle seemed to transform to a giant skull. Like some magical vision. Whatever it was, this apparition was blown away by Atilla’s warmth and the enthisastic reception.

Kriemhild’s welcome to the guests was another story. She embraced just Gernod and Giselher. To the rest she kept distance, and especially Hagen received a cold look. At the evening, the host offered all he had to give a whole wealth of the powerful kingdom produced the most overwhelming festivity you can think of the splendor of. A realm that embraced east and west gave rise to extra ordinary enchantment.

A unique mixture of gorgeous offerings of hospitality, illuminated by all the power and the glory of Attila and Kriemhild. All guests were sitting at long tables in the enormous Hall. They couldn’t believe their eyes and ears. The heart of the court was amazing as could be. Rich tapestries showed fabulous animals and dragons. It seemed they were most alive, caused by a mind blowing spell. tricks and stunts were performed. And the Sabre dance was the peak of all entertainment. The audience was deeply impressed.

The evening mood was rising high and everyone was in good spirits. The rich taste of spicy wine and the numbing effects of incense took control of the mind. Finally, it was time to go to sleep. The novel guests were taken to their chambers. Nearly all fell in a deep spellcasting sleep. Only Haagen and Volker the Bard stayed awake. They guarded the hypnosis of their kinfolk. The night was silent and calm. The light of the full moon bathed the night in a cloak of silver. A light wind was blowing, and it’s soft touch felt like satin on skin.

Away from the romantic mood, Hagen and Volker didn’t take it for real. There was some real menace in the air and both kept their eyes open until dawn. Next day, celebrations continued, and Attila did the best to comfort his guests. He had no clue about the deadly intentions of his wife. To his very surprise, everyone insisted to keep the arms and armours when he confronted them, they responded. ”It’s just the way of us”.  Just custom of a warrior’s menace.

The king was wondering about what he exactly he accepted. When the whole party went to the hall to have another sumptuous dinner, Atilla played an additional card of his friendly Game of Thrones. He called for his son, Ortleib. And when the boy showed up, Attila asked how I can, if he would have the kindness to take the child with him as a foster son. A further proof of his good intentions to have a special relationship to the kingdom of Burgund. This most friendly gesture was deeply heartfelt, and move the whole older audience, except one person, Hagen.

Hagen proved to be a character of the strangest his art is harsh answer, ruined it all. He said. Sure, I’ll take the boy with me. But I suppose he’s too much of a weakling. Our glorious court of noble warriors is no place for a coward of the East. All of a sudden, a silence fell, like some black curtain on a vicious stage play. Attila’s face went pale at first, followed by a cloud that darkened his profile. The immediate transformation that frees up the joy in every heart, pure hostility filled the place, hatred, and Ill Will but creeping in like snakes and reptiles of evil.

It felt like beasts of prey were prowling around and got ready for attack. Some daggers were secretly drawn, and the tension was rising. But for this time, madness was prevented. You have to know King Attila was a man of real power. He was the master of his very own emotions. The stormy mood did calm down one last time. But away from this, the atmosphere was poisoned.

After a depressing meal, everybody went for a night without sleep. In the first light of a new day, everyone of rank and named assembled in the hall. The air was thick, and something was coming through. There were King Atilla and Queen Kriemhild with their son Ortleib. Besides them stood the closest vessels Count Rudiger and King Dietrich von Berne who wasin  the company of Hildebrand his first night. On the other side, gathered the tribe of the Burgundians, King Gunther and his two brothers. Hagen von Trone with Volker the Bard in the company of Dankwort, a famous warrior. They were surrounded by a bunch of famous knights from all Burgund, a warrior elite of no equal.

The gathering of the tribes was quite a sight. But the atmosphere was cold as ice and in this chilly state of pressure, a new arrival appeared on stage. The tide turned forever. The brother of King Atilla entered the hall with some of his warriors. He gave Kriemhild a conspiring look, and without beating around the bush, he rushed to Hagen von Trone and declared war. He shouted to the whole crowd.

That Queen demands revenge on the death of her husband Siegfried, you shall die by our swords. King Attila was taken aback by some eclipse., and at the same moment all hell was breaking loose. A 100 things happened at once. From outside the hall, a voice was crying in desperation. All the warriors of Burgundy have been killed and most cruel assassination left no one alive. King Atilla’s brother drew his sword and pounced on Hagen. But the Dark Knight was faster. He drew Siegfried’s own sword Balmung and choppedthe head of Atilla’s sibling. A fountain of blood was rising from the torso, and a horrible howling filled the air. Swords were drawn and tables were turned. Chairs were thrown and daggers stacked and cut throats.

All at once a merciless onslaught began. Assaults crossed and within seconds, human beings turn to screaming beasts. Steel was singing and cutting through flesh and bones. Hagen did a giant leap and chopped off the head of Ortleib. The child’s head flew like a bowl straight in the hands of Kriemhild.. She stared in the dead eyes of her son and lost control. Through all the madness, the Grim Reaper seem to take over, And mutual annihilation was the game. Dogged and furious, the warriors produced a bloodbath.

The Knights of the hunts rushed in like waves. There were hundreds of them, but they felt like grain under the Reaper. The insanity of the battle was forced by the gods of wrath, and the Crimson flood was flowing down the hall. Hagen seemed to overshadow them all. He hacked and slashed through the enemy rows, hands, limbs arms and legs were cut off and scattered buddies covered the ground.

But still, the tides of madness swell and we’re sliding into hell. The Burgundians were standing back to back and did the ghoulish work of pure war machines. Meanwhile, it was hard to decide who was friend or enemy. The Killing evolved to be a brute force of nature, a massacre of some doomsday clash.

That’s all at once a silence fell and the fighting stopped. The Burgundians stood their ground. Piles of dead bodies with crimson streams covered the wooden floor. The Burgundians were exhausted or they just suffered light wounds. Immediately, they started to throw the dead bodies out of the large windows.

Outside, King Attila and Kriemhild watch the scene with glassy eyes and organized the next assault. Atilla acted like a puppet to a string, but Kriemhild was in too deep. Her eyes were burning when the replenishment arrived. As night was falling, the Huns were back with great strength. A shower of spears was raining down on the defenders.

The attackers had set them on fire. Now the javelins looked like shooting stars, and they raised some kind of wildfire in the hall. Not long and the roof beams were burning. And sure the Burgundians suffered from the blazing inferno and they were tormented by thirst have no limits. But like some miracle, they didn’t die.

The Firestorm couldn’t do no harm to them. Atilla’s warriors were in terror that foreign knights couldn’t be for real. Some told the Burgundians kept themselves alive by drinking the blood of the dead. They must be demons out of some kind of hell. The Warriors and knights refuse to attack again. they turn their backs to the King Abdullah instead turn to his vessels count Rudiger and King Dietrich.

They had tears in their eyes, but they were obedient. With grim faces they gathered their own warriors and got ready to fight. There was no mercy in the bloody game Count Rudiger killed Gernot in a single combat. Gernod’s sword penetrated Rudiger’s body as well. Both fell to the ground and drowned in their own blood. And now, the bells tolled for the Burgundians. They suffered heavy losses.

There was further chopping and rifting in in the heat of battle Dankwort and Volker  the Bard joined in a cruel struggle to death. In this final doomsday scenario, only Gunther and Hagen were alive. Indeed, King Dietrich had them captured by his fighting skills. Both men were exhausted and were bleeding of many wounds. Kriemhild was flashing a bloody smile. She had bitten her lips and turned to Hagen and she asked about the secret place where the treasure was kept. Haagen was laughing with the flavor of insanity.

He said, I will never tell you the secret place as long as anyone of the Burgundians is still alive. The eyes of Kriemhild turned red, and she gave order to bring her the head of King Gunther. A loyal warrior did the bloody work. But when Gunther’s head was presented, Haagen burst out in laughter again, he said, Now, you will never get to know the secret. All the gold is lost for ever. He gave her a triumphant smile. And Kriemhild didn’t hesitate.

She took Siegfried sword Balmung and thrust it deep in Hagen’s belly, a burst of blood came out of his mouth, and The Dark Knight drew his last breath. In the end Hildebrand the first knight of King Dietrich put an end to it. He did what he thought was his duty. He killed Kriemhild with a single blow of his own sword. He wasn’t in rage. He intended to reestablish a strange kind of balance. Some weird equilibrium had to be restored. The tortured Queen sank to the ground. All the pain and hatreds disappeared from her face. She looked like in a deep, soothing piece.

Finally, all the fighting was done. King Dietrich and Atilla we’re standing with frozen ice. The coldness of death was around. How should any human soul live on with a disaster like this? Well, did all this really happen? Was this for real? Or some crazy dream? Has it had to be this way? Well, I’m telling you, if you walk along the banks of the River Rhine and get to ancient places, you might hear some whisper in the trees.

 

Maybe you will find the answer. They’re still blowing in the wind.

Chapter 8 Siegfried’s End

CHAPTER 8 SIEGFRIED’S END

After this dark event the skies were really gloomy over the city of Worms. There were hailstorms and howling winds were haunting the stronghold. There was some dark force of energy seemed to be out of reach.. Something was terribly wrong. And the public humiliation at the cathedral was the talk of the day and it turned out to be some kind of piercing dagger in the heart of the kingdom.

When Siegfried learned what Kriemhild had done he had to confess that something has to be done.  And for the first time he experienced a dark mood that left him helpless like a child. It seemed like he got left behind the story and in a way he felt bereaved. Now talking about Gunther, the mighty King and Ruler of the realm. Gunther did the best he could to appease Brunhild but she kept her door locked.

During the next evenings a war council by was held. The inner circle of Gunther with his brothers Gernot and Giselher and, of course, as you can imagine, Hagen von Tronje.The dark knight demanded an immediate answer to the damage done. Without any doubt he suggested Siegfried has to die. The three royal brothers were in terror, terror  by the sullen words.  Shockwaves twisted the mind.

And Giselher was the only one who protested. He said:“ How can you? Siegfried is our friend. He did a power of good for the sake of the kingdom.“Hagen replied: “Well he did break the oath! He didn´t keep our secrets about the wedding night. Who knows what else he confessed to Kriemhild. Think about the aftermath. Now the kingdom is in danger.  The humiliation of the queen will spread in all corners of the earth. The Court of Burgund will be the mockery of everyone. We are the laughing stock of East and West, North and South. If we will not reestablish the honor of our dynasty we will be regarded as a weak bunch of cowards. Not long and our lands will be in flames. Nothing but fair game. The Saxons will love this. Weh ave to take action. The stigma has to be washed away by blood.“

Giselher tried to talk Hagen out of his vicious aim but his brothers remained silent. Now Gunther‘s weakness became evident. He was shrinking. He got smaller and smaller and ended up as some kind of garden gnome. Paralysed , with hollow eyes he couldn’t articulate a single word. After a while of silence that was hard to bear Hagen spoke again. His muscular strength and his tall figure did raise him over the bodies of everyone. In his dark voice he said: “I will do it by myself. I will be the only one to blame. There will be no shadow on the King of Burgund.“

Well Hagen proved to be a man of action. With his next words he underlined his dominance. The three brothers were stuck in submission.Hagen continued in cold blood: “We need a trick! The bath in the crimson lake turned him invulnerable but there is one tender spot between his shoulders. That´s his weakness. Dear companions let me tell you. Kriemhild will do me a favour.

Just for her own good and the sake of a safe homecoming. I will beg her to stich a cross on his garment so I can protect him in battle.This shall convince her. There is no doubt that´s the path to victory. The rest is mere child´s play.“ When Hagen left the brothers were standing as supernumerary.

In the following days the castle seemed to get soaked up by some evil spell. Inside the walls a roaring silence raised the toxic tension. One day the frozen silence was shattered by an arriving messenger. He brought, you might call it, some vicious fake news. The story was Lüdeger and Lüdegast, the Saxon hordes the old enemies were about to strike again the borders of Burgund. Once more a serious menace to the whole kingdom.  Again it was Siegfried to take up arms. He declared there would be no mercy this time.

Hagen was satisfied. The plan seemed to take the right direction. A refined trap was about to be constructed. And he was looking for a good reason to get near to Kriemhild. As the warriors gathered and prepared for war Hagen got to the chamber of Kriemhild. As a close friend and relative she trusted Hagen. Both were intimate companions for many years. She was moved by Hagen’s  aim to protect her husband in battle. She thanked him and both hugged each other. Sure she would stich that cross. And Kriemhild was full of praise of the family bonds and Hagen left the becalmed Queen with a certain smile on his face. All was going well and Hagen prepared for the dirty work.

Just on the next morning about 1000 warriors bristled  by weapons went on their way to battle. The ground was shacking under the hooves of the heavy horses. Not long and they were attended by a rider wearing the coat of arms of the enemy. The herald brought some refined fake news again. He told that Lüdeger and Lüdegast had withdrawn their armies and were aiming for peace again. The knights and warriors were laughing at the presumably anxious enemy. There was shouting like, who is like us, what’s like us. Hands were shaken and  thundering voices of triumph echoed through the forest.Gunther suggested to seize the day and go for a hunt. Everyone agreed.

The now established hunting party was in good spirits. They enjoyed several refreshments like beer, sparkling wine and plenty of other goods. The hunting horn was blowing. The dogs were barking and thus everyone was called to get to the horses again. The sport of kings was about to begin while the pack of hound rushed ahead. The hunters rode through the pleasant green woodlands full of huge ancient trees.

The ground appeared like a living carpet of grass, bushes, herbs, flowers and mushrooms of all kind. Inside the forest a huge number of animals were lurking between the undergrowth. Several springs gave birth to some streams and brooks that meandered thrrough emerald fields of moss smooth and soft like satin. And the waters seemed to be veins of a strange kind of creature that murmured through the whispering waters.

Siegfried was towering on his horse. Always self confident and sure to be the fastest of them all. He took a deep breath and truly felt in the prime of his life. The fresh air filled his lungs and he felt his heart beating in his chest by sheer excitement. And as he strove alone through the green halls beneath the mighty trees he was everything but aware that someone was following close at hand. After a while Siegfried got thirsty. His throat was burning. His eyes were searching for one of the numerous wells. He stared through the forest and still wasn´t aware of Hagen von Tronje who followed in some distance. And Hagen spotted every single move of the hero.

And Siegfried lead his horse to a whispering spring. The water bubbled out of some solid stones covered by moss like a blanket of silk.This was a most peaceful place to rest. The location was surrounded by giant trees with rustling leaves and full of singing birds. Siegfried got off his horse and knelt at the well like some pilgrim longing for holy water. He tasted the crystal clear liquid and cool water was flowing down his throat. He tasted that refreshing  flavor and felt the thirst-quenching feeling after a long haul. 

He enjoyed himself and went for another swallow. Suddenly he heard a hissing sound and felt a hit. In the blink of an eye something was different but Siegfried had no idea what it was.He felt completely frozen. All noises of the forest had stopped. The place was bathed in silence. No birds singing, no trees whispered, no murmuring waters. Just then he saw something strange and disturbing. The water of the well had turned red. His eyes went down and he saw the head of a spear coming out of his chest. It had penetrated his body from behind. Drops of blood were dripping into the water. One by one the puzzle pieces were coming together.

A stiching and cutting pain took possession of Siegfried like some venom of  a poisonous snake.  Siegfried started to shiver. He turned  his head in unbearable pain. There was Hagen towering on his horse. Cloaked in black as the grim reaper himself. He was impassive and unmoved by his deed. Siegfried felt his life force slowly fading and whispered one last word: “Traitor“.

All went dark. Soon the hunting party got around. Nobody spoke a single word. They took Siegfried´s body back home to Worms. On their was through the deep forest the silence remained like a shroud over the whole landscape. And for any reason they laid the dead body just before the door to Kriemhild´s chamber.

When she opened the door next morning at dawn her desperate cry shattered the silence of the new day. Her voice sounded like the sound of some wounded animal. Everyone who experienced this impression couldn’t forget it fort he rest of their lives. Nothing could be done against this turning of the tide. Kriemhild was falling in deep grief and madness. She was broken.

In a way she was dying never to return to this world again. As the three brothers showed up with Hagen close behind something weird happened. Siegfried´s wound started to bleed again. Kriemhild knew all to well what that meant. This tormenting sight gave birth to something sinister deep inside her soul. Some artificial intelligence was brought to life.

 

A fearful organic entity being programmed for just  one purpose: Revenge!

Chapter 7 War of the Wives

Images of Nibelung Queens Brunhild & Kriemhild

CHAPTER 7 WAR OF THE WIVES

Looking back through the years, the people of Siegfried’s home town Xanthen called it the best of times. An age of prosperation, peace and wealth in plenty. Down south at the court of Worms things went on entirely  different. Externally everything seemed in good order. But behind  high walls of the royal castle there was another story to be told. Brunhild was cloaked in melancholy and draining spirits twisted her mind. She walked through the halls and doorways like a tiger in a cage. Through all the haze her intuition would never fool her. The ghost of betrayal was haunting the place. The doors of the chambers were opened and closed quietly.

Days turned to months and months turned to years. A bitter taste kept the spirits low and there was no trace of any peace of mind. One day, all of a sudden Brunhild begged Gunther to order Siegfried and Kriemhild at the court. She pretended some feeling of longing to gather the whole family. Gunther replied: “Well I´m not in the position to give Siegfried any kind of order“. He is king and ruler of the Lowlands and the realm of the Nibelungs folk as well. He is a man of great power!“

Brunhild retorted:  “Years ago you introduced him as your vassal! Is it too much to ask: How so?“ The spirit of enlightenment is strong and it´s always raising questions. Gunther knew he couldn´t prohibit Brunhild´s demands. He was hoping to appease her. The time of the solstice seemed to be a perfect reason for some invitation for social high times. Maybe the solemnity and celebration was a way to take things a bit more easy. So Gunther promised so send a herald to Xanthen and messengers should spread the news all over the place. Brunhild was delighted.

No one could have suspect this particular solstice would mark a fateful turning point in the history of the kingdom. Like the sun they would all start their journey towards darker days. Weeks later Siegfried and Kriemhild with their entourage were on the way to the city of Worms. The winds were howling like lost souls and some strange crimson rain was falling like tears of blood. The traveling  party didn´t care and had a rough but safe journey. The city was breathing big time again. The numerous guests were sitting at long tables decorated with exotic flowers and the smell of incense filled the air. Everybody seemed in good spirits, the talking and chatting got louder and louder. The aim of celebration and goods times took the place by storm. Shiny happy people everywhere.

But beneath the calm face of the sea some unstoppable force was starting to rise. A kind of  tsunami was on the way. Brunhild didn´t show her feelings. She kept a smiling face. Her eyes were moving from Siegfried to Kriemhild. She noticed very well how happy and fortunate they appeared. She became aware she coudn´t get something equal. She said to herself:    “My marriage was just a bargain, a simple arrangement and there is not much left for myself. There is no love around, nor friendship or compassion.“ The more she felt her deficiency the more she was hypnotized by Kriemhild. She felt drawn like a moth to a flame.

Unnoticed by the whole crowd she suffered all by herself. There was just one unseen witness. Hagen von Tronje as always kept away from the festivities. He was sipping his wine and observed the scenery from a hidden place. He knew what was going on with Brunhild. He knew what has been done to her. He knew something´s got to give. Away from this he still was the real protector of Gunther and the realm. So he kept his ears and eyes open like some eagle in search of prey. The celebrations of the solstice lasted for days. There was the usual feasting and the entertainment was excellent and extraordinary.

During the glamorous occasions Brunhild´s jealousy turned to a destructive mood of envy. Despite this the two of them spent much time together. After a while they appeared even inseparable like sisters. Day and night they seemed to belong to each others presenceThen came the day something was coming out to accelerate the whole story. In a temper caused by wine, exuberance and ecstasy Kriemhild wascarried away by her feelings.With a goblet in her hand she shouted to the crowd:  “My husband ought to be the king of the world. Watch at his brilliancy!No one can match him“. She was bursting out in laughter. The crowd was watching her in surprise. The impression of something over the top was in the air.

Brunhild answered in an icy voice:  “My dear,  you should remember Gunther defeated me at Isenstein. Your dear husband had to act as a stirrup holder. He is just another subordinate. Gunther is the only true king of us all.“ The air turned to cold as ice and Kriemhild´s face went pale. She smashed the goblet to the ground and gasped. She hissed: “What is that?  Do you really think my brother would have given me to somebody of lower rank?
Brunhild countered: “Siegfried himself told me so. Listen! Tomorrow  is the divine service at the cathedral. You and me will walk through the northern gate. This is the place of official announcements to the public. In the light of day I will have the precedence and you will give way. I´ll show the whole world that I´m the queen by the side of the most glorious king of all times.“ She flashed a cruel smile and left the place.

Kriemhild was shivering all over and with  hollow eyes she stumbled to her  chamber. That night the two rivaling women couldn´t find any sleep. Kriemhild was on a quest to find out about hierarchy. Brunhild felt the pursuit of truth was close at hand. A blood red dawning seemd to foreshadow what was about to come.In the morning Kriemhild took her finest clothes and commanded her maidens to wear garments of exquisite gorgeousness.
At the cathedral the whole court had gathered. Over 1000 eyes were watching the triumphant arrival of the royal family.

The northern gate was waiting for a spectacular sight like no other. This was the very place  where laws used to be presented to the public. There would be no better setting for a showdown as dramatic as could be. Brunhild and her maidens were already waiting in full sail as Kriemhild and her following showed up. The queen of the northern lights stepped in the way and shouted: “Wait!  It´s not fitting for the wife of a subordinate to have the steps forward. Stop yourself and let me get by!“

Kriemhild raised her head in proud manner and answered: “Who are you to demand the steps forward? Do you remember the night you did hang up your husband at a nail on the wall?And do you remember the next night? You might think Gunther subdued you, don´t you? Well I have some bad news! It was my husband! He proved to be your master. Here is your ring and your belt as a proof. You are nothing but a concubine.“

With these words of wrath she threw the items at Brunhild´s feet. The thundering voices still seemed to echo all over the place. The crowd was in terror and everyone knew Kriemhild had ripped out the heart of the kingdom. Brunhild stood like turned to stone. She staggered.  She whispered: “Lies, lies! This can´t be“ There were tremors in her eyesand it was obvious she was deeply affected.

Kriemhild ignored her and stepped as the first through the gate of the cathedral. While the public humiliation was going on Brunhild started to cry like a child. She was shattered. Slowly  very slowly with the help of her maidens she left the place like a beaten dog.On her way she met Gunther on his way to the service. She told him what happened. She demanded immediate atonement. Otherwise she was ready to leave to her own place at Isenstein. She was swearing and accused Gunther of betrayal. And Gunther called his servants and told them to search after Siegfried. The king was growing old in seconds. And after the next night his hair turned white as snow. He knew something´s got to give. 

Chapter 6 Rape and Treason

CHAPTER 6 RAPE AND TREASON

The city of Worms was expecting another exorbitant celebration. This time the costs went far beyond. Only the sky was the limit. The hall of the castle was prepared in the most extravagant way. The return of King Gunther with his companions and his future wife was the all time outstanding festive occasion of the nobility. Everyone of rank and name had to be there. But all the splendour, the opulence and richness couldn´t hide a dark shadow rising over the whole kingdom. Down below the foundations of the seemingly invincible kingdom something strange was coming up. An invisible force, like some fearsome dragon was breathing thunder. The sensitive could feel a certain vibration.

Brunhild was still suspicious. During one of the glamorous and magnificent evenings she appeared dressed in black and with a stern look. She asked Gunther:   “You treated your vassal Siegfried as a king? How so?“ It`s against the status distinctions!“ Gunther replied:   “Siegfried isn´t my vassal! He is a king in his own right! Tonight I don´t want to explain anything! Let´s save it for another day!“ He gulped a beaker of beer and drank health to his table neighbours. Brunhild´s face went dark. Her eyes gave rise to a piercing look. The sharp looks of an eagle on the prowl. She remained silent.

Only days later the banquets and jollyfications were in full throttle. Finally the double wedding was near. The real climax of gorgeousness and glory. It´s impossible to describe the expense and outlay of the social highlight. It went beyond words. The  city of Worms turned to the center of the world. Sustaining for years this might be the talk of the day for high and low.No event of past and future could match this pinnacle of courtly radiance.
A whole society was celebrating itself. So far for the outward appearance.

 As everyone knows: A lot of light demands a lot of shadows. On the wedding night this should be proved to be true. When Gunther lead his bride to their bedroom the darkness seemed to transform into something that had a life of it´s own. An entity, a monster created by human will. As Gunther  opened the door of the royal chamber Brunhild gave him a rough shift. Paralysed as he was he couldn´t say a single word. Brunhild did cast a cold eye on her husband. She said:     “You shall not have me. I would lose my strength if I left behind my virginity. This is far too precious! That´s for sure: You are not the chosen one to take it.  With these words she got hold of him. With her strong hands she hung him at a nail on the wall. Gunther had to remain hanging on the wall until sunrise. Humiliated and shattered he faced a devastating time of his life. In the morning she took him down and left, leaving the king speechless.

Now good advice was expensive. Gunther had no idea what to do. In his despair he turned to Siegfied once more. The hero was about to help one more time. He said: “We were able to defeat her at Isenstein. We shall be successful again!“ With a confidential gesture he continued:  “ Tonight I will take the magic hat and I will be at the door to your bedroom. Help is on the way!“ Said and done on the next evening. Siegfried appeared invisible at Gunther´s side.

As Brunhild was about to repeat he game Siegfried was taking action. Gunther put all the lights out and in complete darkness Siegfried pounced on Brunhild. The fight was grim and sparks did fly. Finally Siegfried was able to take her down. She was fighting like some wildcat but the man was stronger.
In the end she gave up and Gunther took over. He did his so called duty of the wedding night. This was rape and violation and a second betrayal.  What happened next is not known. But that´s for sure: Darkness was rising and daylight didn´t return.

After this fateful night Brunhild wasn´t the same anymore. She was broken. She remembered her home in the north. Once a free and proud life seemed to be gone forever. Siegfried in return had taken her ring and belt as a trophy.He took the items and gave them as a present to his wife Kriemhild. We can only speculate what drove him to do so. Kriemhild asked about the affair and Siegfried told her his version of the story.

 At least the couple  felt uncomfortable. Within days both of them left for their future home: The city of Xanthen. The place gave them welcome with all    it´s chivalry and splendour. Siegfried became King of the Lowlands. For a while everything was in apple pie order.     

 

Darker days were about to come…  

Chapter 5 The Wooing of Brunhild

      CHAPTER 5 THE WOOING OF BRUNHILD

There was much as effort to have the greatest feast of all times. King Gunther was asked if Kriemhild could join the celebration as the  sparkling main attraction. You have to keep in mind Siegfried hadn’t met her so far. She was well hidden in a tower and was watching the scenery. So for this feast Gunther agreed to introduce her to the audience.The feasting started with the usual tons of finest food and barrels of delicious wine. Just the cream of the crop was good enough to be presented. The castle was bathed in light and motion. The feasting got exuberant and all enjoyed the high time. From hour to hour the anticipation grew in waiting for the climax.

Suddenly the merry crowd was shouting for the most glamorous Burgundian celebrity. Alas they wouldn´t be beaten by disillusion… Kriemhild took the stage escorted by her maidens in full sail.She was dressed in finest silk and satin. Delicate jewels were sparkling around her neck.  She appeared like a bright swan on black waters. Her fair hair was flowing down her shoulders and she gave the world a most charming look. The audience was applauding.Well Siegfried was moonstruck. An electrical storm was twisting his body. The taste of the most potent drug nature has to offer. One stich of the needle and the powerful hero was  powerless at all. Just to crown it all Gunther suggested Kriemhild should give Siegfried a kiss in honouring his mighty deeds. So she did and  the young hero was standing in flames. Time stood still as always it turned out to be a streak of lightning that flashes  and fades in the summer sky…

After days of heavy feasting the last meal was swallowed and the last barrel of wine was emptied. The guests left in some fragile way. Siegfried remained at Worms in waiting for the perfect moment.  The right time to ask Gunther for his sister´s hand. And imagine it would never have come to his thought that Gunther would forestall his precious aim.  On a calm, quiet evening in front of the fireplace Gunther took Siegfried in his confidence. In the cozy twilight of the dancing flames, they were drinking red Burgundian wine. And Gunther  confessed his longing for the legendary queen of Iceland. He pondered and considered about the risk. Brunhild was notorious as could be but the simple truth was heart over mind. Siegfried was shocked, he tried to advise against but Gunther insisted. Even the dangerous competitions couldn´t hold him back.

He asked the most fateful question: He said,“I beg you for help. If there is any reward you might ask for – you shall get it.“ Now imagine the impact on Siegfried´s mind when he heard these words. Siegfried experienced heaven and hell in the blink of an eye. And he knew this was the time of his life. The best stab at the beast and chances are high only once.  Of course there would have been a price to pay, but surely this was not the moment of consideration. So in the heat of the moment he assured Gunther his help and loyalty. At the same time he asked for the hand of Kriemhild. Gunther nodded and the fate was sealed.

Just some days later a journey was prepared. On the wings of the wild winds that howled during day and night therewas a strange feeling of excitement.
A seaworthy ship was equipped and storage was loaded. Before the cast off four of the finest horses were brought on board.When the ship was ready to leave only four men of action were embarking. There was Siegfried and Gunther, of course. And there was Gunther´s uncle by the name of Dankwart and last but not least Hagen von Tronje, the first knight.

They set sail for an adventure in the land of the northern lights. The plan was Siegfried would pretend to be the vassel of Gunther and his stirrup holder. Thus he could always be near to the king. At the day of the competitions he would take the magic hat. As an invisible shadow he could support Gunther´s actions. This marvellous team of the two of them should be able to beat Brunhild´s strength. Well the four men were bonded by a pact and agreed to keep it secret for ever. But despite this during the first days of the journey Hagen von Tronje had his on thoughts. He wasn´t convinced about the plan. No one could say how it would turn out in the end. So many aspirants had lost their lives so far.

As always he worried about the king and his well-being. As a true protector of the royalty he couldn´t gain any peace of mind. And, of course. Hagen felt the young hero was too bold for his own good. And Siegfried was gaining too much influence on the kingdom´s matters. What should come up next? Well when the rest of the travelling party was close, he was far away.

It started as a calm journey down the river Rhine. When they reached the sea things turned rough. The waves erupted high as walls with crests of white spray. The waters boiled up like giant geysers. Terrible noises echoing the winds and it felt like the sea gods had unleashed their horses. The clouds in the sky were chasing the sun like stallions in a race of madness.But Siegfried just laughed at the turmoil. He held the steering wheel with strong hands. He was yelling with excitement as his companions were in terror.  But finally they approached the mystic isle of Iceland.

With big eyes they all witnessed a spectacular sight. The sun pushed away the clouds and a magnificent rainbow appeared. It bent over the mighty castle of Isenstein the stronghold of Queen Brunhild. The seagulls were flying by and soon the ship got to the harbor.  The men saddled their horses and Siegfried held the stirrup for Gunther.The four of them went on the final part of their wonderous journey.The way up to Isenstein was dangerous and treacherous. Narrow pathways flanked by rocks like muted giants. They surmount chasms and dark places
of threatening abysses. As they reached the gates of Isenstein they crossed the portal to another world. A land of otherworldly flavours and colours of the strangest kind. The whole place was cloaked in clouds and misty shadows.

Brunhild and her female warriors were already in waiting. They had watched every detail of the arrival. The men from Burgund were quite surprised by all the women in full armor. Wild eyed female fighters bristling with weapons were completely unfamiliar for the Burgundians. They seemed to belong to some most exotic kind of strange folk. Hagen noticed these women were masters of martial art and as a professional he knew he shouldn´t mess with them. Brunhild bade them the most wildest welcome. She raised a goblet of blood red wine and asked with a smile:                                                “Gentlemen, who is the one who chose to die on this very day?“The incoming party was paralysed. Siegfried was the first to break the spell. He shouted:  “Meet glorious king Gunther. He challenges you for the competitions you requested and asks you to take his hand as his wife.“ But just at that second Brunhild recognised her former guest.Siegfried caused her affection again and she was disappointed about
the aim of king Gunther. Her mind was finished. Siegfried should have been the right candidate. But wishing is for fools and tears for the brave!Alas Gunther was caught by her strange beauty and was blinded by sheer lust. He was mesmerized  by the enchantment.

Brunhild accustomed to victory pushed away her feelings and without beating around the bush she asked for her spear and commanded all to the place of tournament. The contest was about to begin. Brunhild was throwing her spear. It hurled like the wind and penetrated the earth in long distance. Immediately Gunther gave it a try. Siegfried took the magic hat and with invisible support Gunther threw his spear. Everyone was witnessed the miracle. Gunther had overcome Brunhild´s try.

She couldn´t believe her eyes but there was more to come. She took a stone and threw it with all her might. The stone crushed into some rock. It split up the boulder into pieces. She was satisfied but Gunther´s turn was even more successful. The invisible collaboration of Gunther and Siegfried not only overcome the distance of Brunhild´s try. Their stone split a cliff into pieces. Brunhild went pale. Tears of rage were running down her cheeks.  This couldn´t be for real. Something likeblack magic was going on.

She gave a last desperate try. The sport of long jump was her favourite. She bit her lip and tasted blood. She did a giant leap. She flew through the air and left the audience with a gasp. But you all  expected: Gunther with the invisible help of Siegfried was even more successful. Brunhild was turned to stone with glassy eyes. The blood was dripping from her lip. And she had to surrender. There was no turning back. The spoken word was law.
So she had to take Gunther´s hand and be his wife for the rest of her life. Despite that she was suspicious and not convinced. There seemed to be some foul deeds behind the scenes.

Unnoticed by everybody one man was feeling bad for her. Hagen von Tronje had been a man of honor for all his life. He was disgusted by this treason against the once proud queen of Iceland. An undignified behavior to any warrior soul. This shameful deed would conjure up something sinister.

 

The journey back was surrounded by angry storms and dark pendulous clouds. Heavy rain was coming down. Like black tears falling from the heavens. It felt like the old gods were complaining.  Some ancient rule was broken but the dirty deed was done.

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