by: Eric Syrdal
Kara – A Valkyrie, in disguise as a humble milkmaid so she can be close to a mortal she has fallen in love with. She is desperate to take him with Her to Valhalla, but he is a pig farmer, not a warrior.
Brynjar – A ordinary pig farmer. He is in love with a milkmaid in the village where he lives. He does not know She is actually a Valkyrie who is in love with him.
King Erland – King of Norway. He is told in a dream, by Loki, that a woman in his kingdom is actually a Valkyrie that has fallen in love with a mortal man. He has plans to capture Her and force Her to take him to Valhalla.
Gunnar – Captain of the Royal guards. Sent by King Erland to capture the Valkyrie.
Various Guardsman and Men at Arms
King Erland, King of Norway, has waged a campaign to crush detractors in the south. They have spent several months denouncing his rule and in an open act of rebellion have besieged several of his Baron’s castles throughout the kingdom. After slaughtering the main body of the rebel forces, He corners a small contingent of men outside a farming village. During the ensuing battle, King Erland is wounded by an arrow but does not die. His men begin spreading rumors that he is out of favor with Odin and therefore can not enter Valhalla. In a dream, the God Loki comes to him and tells him that there is a Valkyrie living in this nearby village. She is disguised as a milkmaid because she is in love with a mortal man named Brynjar. He is a pig farmer and not a warrior. But She holds out hope that he will take up arms against the king and find a way to die honorably so that She can take him to Valhalla to live with Her forever.
Erland has all the women in the village rounded up and killed one by one trying to determine who is the Valkyrie. As he is about to execute Kara, Brynjar begs for mercy and says that if Erland will spare Her. He will hunt down the Valkyrie and hand her over to the King. Erland, is not a fool, and seeing how Kara looks at Byrnjar He decides that She is the Valkyrie. Despite her protests He has her taken away to the castle dungeon. As the final scene opens, We see Kara and Byrnjar as they have managed to escape the castle and fled across the countryside. Their erratic running has led them through a tangled wood and onto a rocky precipice overlooking a very deep gorge.
Setting: We see Byrnjar and Kara, both in ragged and dirty clothes. To the left of the stage is the edge of a conifer wood. Rocky ground rises towards a jagged cliff. In the far distance more mountains can be seen and trees dot the landscape of the valley floor. Behind the mountains the sun is beginning to rise as the sky is a faint pink near the horizon. Byrnjar carries a torch and an old, rusty sword on his belt..he is holding Kara close to him, his arm around her waist. In the distance coming from the conifer forest the sounds of men shouting and hunting hounds braying can be heard. Byrnjar assists Kara to the ground to rest as he stands panting.
Rest ye here, My love. The trees do yet cause them to twist and turn their path
we may, in short, find our escape.
I will rest, but pray thee that we not tarry long
(she looks over her shoulder to the edge of the cliff)
else perhaps this will be our final rest for eternity
(holding his torch aloft to try to see further into the woods)
Marry! I’ll not let our rest be our endings. If mine eyes hold true, I’ve not seen their lights for at least a league. We will make our exit, anon
Verily, I would rest better when we’ve no company to harry us.
(The baying of hounds grows louder for a brief second then fades)
(makes his way back to Kara, kneeling at her side. He sees a cut on Her arm and removes a bit of cloth from his pocket to tie around it)
No doubt thy rest would also lend comfort to the healing of your wounds
(She winces as he pulls the bandage tight)
No wound was e’re so great as to stop me thus. Marry, ’tis but a scratch. I need no dressing thus to staunch the flow. Keep thy bits of cloth. Give me only thy tender lips to be the unguent for my pain.
(Brynjar smiles briefly and they engage in a passionate kiss)
(breaking the kiss and continuing to catch his breath)
Fair maid, Thy kiss could always ground me where I stand. Were it not for knowing, the warmth of thy lips, I would believe you the holy creature they accuse you of being.
(shakes her head and her long brown waves ripple on her shoulders)
Of this I am certain, I am no child of Asgard. Though I would know the feeling of crossing the Bifrost, were I to spend eternity in your arms
(stands and offers a hand to Kara to help her up)
‘Tis the greatest wish of my heart to be joined with you thus, My love, but we must away before our lead yet deteriorates. Methinks I hear the panting of the hounds drawing closer.
(takes his hand and stands to her feet)
Where for should we advance? The specter of the forest looms in front of us. Behind, nothing but the thin air above the valley floor.
(he moves to the edge of the cliff and looks down)
Marry, None but eagles have the art to make that decent.
(she moves to his side and holding on to his shoulder, looks down)
If we spend more time here, the dawn may yet show us a way to the floor. yet to wait is to fail. and certain death awaits me on return to the king. Thy fate, would be sealed and the king’s guard would spill thy blood here for the flowers to grow red in the summertime
(Moves both of them back from the edge)
Nay, we can not tarry.
(he looks over his shoulder at the forest)
Nor can we go back
(He draws a rusty sword from his belt and stands between the forest and Kara)
Mark Me, Love, if they wish to return you to the king then there may yet be red flowers here in the summertime
(she rushes forward and grabs his sword arm)
Nay, send this blade back to its rest. The king’s guard outnumber us 3 to 1.
(He pulls his arm away and steps away from Her)
let them come. I shall not fear a man’s blade because a king says he can fight.
(She shakes her head and places her hands on his upper arms)
Then, dear one, harken to me. I do not seek to wound thy tender courage, but I have n’er yet known you to have skill with a blade. you are of humble origins. no wars have you attended. N’er have you been within the shieldwall facing the razor edge of death.
Marry. All these things you speak are true, My Love. Save that mine heart has learned a ferocity e’er you were taken from me. Should they challenge me here, they will find a lion when there once was a lamb.
(She shakes her head again. looking him directly in the eyes)
Brave heart, I do not wish to preserve my soul through the sacrifice of yours. Harken to me, lay thy blade aside and ponder with me for an escape that does not see the glint of the morning sun on steel.
(Seeing her sincerity he sheaths the blade)
You are my love. Of course I shall spare my life if it be thy wish.
(He takes her by the hand and moves to the edge of the cliff again)
Come hither, We’ll attempt this climb. Perhaps by the Allfather’s blessing we shall yet see the valley floor.
(They begin to try to find a way around the edge of the cliff. Sitting on the ground and looking for footholds and places to make the climbing easier. As Brynjar is laying on his stomach looking over the side, a Raven lands nearby Kara. She is visibly disturbed by the presence of the bird and moves to chase it away. It hops once upon the ground and caws loudly, drawing Brynjar’s attention. He jumps up, surprised)
(with excitement in his voice)
By the gods!! Kara, it’s a sign from Asgard. We are to be saved!!
(She nods. but continues to focus on the bird)
Marry, It would seem we’ve been gifted with a messenger.
(At this, the Raven tilts its head to the side and leaps into the air. Kara flinches at the movement bringing her arms up in front of her. The Raven lands on her forearm and perches there. When Brynjar sees this, he begins to understand. He watches as the Raven calmly sits on her arm. And he notices also that her alarm and apprehension is not true fear. As she makes no panicked attempt to dislodge the bird. There are several seconds that pass before She looks back at Brynjar and her cheeks are visibly flushed with embarrassment)
(stammering as he speaks)
The messenger of Odin. Sits upon your arm as though you are old friends. Marry, He looks at thy face as if you were one of his Kin.
(his eyes go wide and he takes a few steps back)
(looking between the bird and Brynjar)
My love, why dost thou look at me so. Tis by the will of the Allfather that this sacred bird perches upon mine arm. I pray you think nothing foul of me.
(shakes his head)
Foul? Nay. But what cause do I have to think that thou are not a servant of Asgard. Surely, this omen doth show us thou art.
(a nervousness in her voice)
Faithful Brynjar. I pray thee will consider our present situation. Tarry not on this auspicious happenstance. Marry! we must look to our escape.
(The raven gives a deep croak and launches into the sky. flying in the direction of the sunrise that grows ever brighter against the horizon)
(watches the bird fly and looks back to Kara)
(he does not look convinced, and continues to ponder on what he thinks he has discovered. When he speaks it is half-hearted. attempting to cover his suspicion)
My love, Of course thou are true. Forgive me, I was struck by the moment. Thou art the wiser of our company.
(The sounds of the search party grow louder. men can be heard calling to each other from the forest. They have found footprints and are moving quickly to intercept the couple. Brynjar again positions himself between the Forest and Kara)
(draws his rusty sword again, speaking over his shoulder)
It would seem we have run out of time. I must abandon our escape. Nay, it is too steep, for all but thee..I believe thou can make it safely down.
(with a look of shock on her face)
Escape and leave thee here? Art thou mad? Why wouldst thou think I would consider such a scheme?
(readies his weapon)
If thou dost love me, Fair Maiden, I pray thee..make thine escape. I will hold these curs at bay, Aroint!!
(forcefully, she pulls at his arm. She tries to get him closer to her and the edge of the cliff)
Nay! I will not quit thee! For it is true, I could yet live a long life. But how should that life come to pass without thy hand upon mine? without thy heartbeat in mine ears?
T’would be better we plunge from this place together and find our final rest upon the valley floor. Entreat me not, thus further. I tell you my answer is No.
(Begrudgingly he pulls her behind him)
Aye, my Love. though I would try my hand first at our defense. Rather than see us both upon Hel’s doorstep.
(From the tree line a group of men emerges. They are dressed in the livery of King Erland. Their leader, a man called Gunnar, is at their forefront. He is of beastly size. standing a full head taller than the rest and brandishing a wicked flamberge. The men form a semicircle around Kara and Brynjar. They brandish swords as well as torches. they shout and jeer at the couple, BUT, instantly fall silent as Gunnar speaks)
(striding from the center of the group)
At last, our quarry is at hand. And, marry! It is as I thought.
(he chuckles deeply)
They have together made my job at ease. I suppose, I should not forget my manners and wish thee a humble thank you for thine efforts.
(He removes his feathered hat and sweeps it low in a bow, feigning deep respect)
(Sneering at Gunnar)
Save your wicked tongue for those who wish to hear such tripe, Captain. I’ve no cause to parlay with you here.
(straightens and feigns being offended)
Dear Sir, Hast I offended thee? If so, I pray thy humble pardon. When I was awoken at the witching hour to calls of, “Escape..Escape! Fugitive!! I confess, I must have left my compassion at home! Very well, name me a brigand if you must. Having been the source of my weariness this day, ‘Tis the least you can do.
A brigand? Sir, i would not.
Good sir! you do honor me with your moral restraint.
‘Tis only for the honor of Brigands I restrain my tongue!
(angry at being insulted again. Hefts his blade)
Sir, I grow weary of this prattle. My blade yet calls for your blood and I’ve a long trek back to the castle with our prize
(he gestures at Kara with his blade)
Marry! I’ve no want to dull my wit further with you. I’ve uncomfortable news, though.
Enlighten Me thus, I pray thee
I’ve a mind to shorten your trek. Be it within my power, I shall take off thy tallness with my blade below thy knees
Sir, it if is within your power to do so. King Erland should have rather had a goat for a his guard’s captain .
(He readies his sword)
Have at thee!
(The two men begin to circle each other. The men at arms sheath their weapons and spread out to give the captain room. They stand at the ready to apprehend Kara once the captain gives the order. Kara looks on, anxiously wringing her hands. She knows Brynjar is not a soldier and she knows that Gunnar is an elite Warsmith. She is visibly upset and her eyes begin to water.)
(Gunnar is an accomplished military leader. He advances in on Brynjar with a series of weak strikes. testing his prowess with a blade. Brynjar deflects them soundly but shows signs that he is unsure of how to use his rusted sword. A few blows come dangerously close to his face. However he proceeds to taunt Gunnar)
My Lord, I had heard you were the best in the kingdom with that blade. Though I understood it to be fabled as much larger than it is
Marry. I’ll wager it to be large enough to splint thy gut in twain, Cur. Dost thou think I am of such weak skill that I may not strike thee down at my whim?
Nay sir..but I do ponder on a subject that both strikes me humorous and moves me with great pity at the same time
(patronizing; as he swings hard and connects with Brynjar’s blade)
Pray thee, tell me what occupies your small mind thus?
It is just that I have cause to wonder, what else may belong to thee that is fabled to be larger than its actual size?
(enraged, swings mightily and knocks the sword from Brynjar’s hand. It falls to the ground, shattered. He reaches over and grabs Brynjar’s arm pulling him forward and with the momentum of the movement, he impales Brynjar on his blade. He pulls him all the way forward so their faces are just inches away. Brynjar coughs up a gout of blood as Gunnar speaks in almost a whisper)
I shall leave that, to the wonderment of your Lady. But only until I have traveled through the forest. At the inn outside of town, She will know of that which you speak.
(he shoves Brynjar away from him, pulling his blade free and watching him tumble to the ground)
(at seeing her love impaled and then tossed aside. Screams in rage)
(She tries to rush to Brynjar but is caught on Gunnar’s arm.)
(He hauls Kara over to the edge of the cliff with a massive hand around her throat. Holding her over the edge he speaks in an evil tone)
And You! Thou art no denizen of Asgard. Though the King believes it. Who among the sacred company of the Allfather would allow a mortal to handle them thus? Be thine of heavenly origin, I pray thee. Smite me.
(He grins ferociously. Waiting several seconds for Kara to respond. She only gasps for air and claws at his arm)
Ah, ’tis as I thought. Only a ruse by a pitiful wretch to capture a male heart. As she is of such dull mind and unable to use her given talents to accomplish the same task.
(Gunnar lets his sword fall on the ground and moves his hand to her breast, groping her. Instead of trying to gasp for air any longer, Kara summons her strength to spit in his face. The captain slaps her violently, momentarily stunning her)
(shaking his head)
Such a sorrowful lament. To dispose of so fine a piece of womanly meat, thusly. But I tire of your insolence. Adieu, pitiful waif. I’ll inform the King of your decision to jump from the cliff
(He tosses Her over)
(there is absolute silence from the gathered men as Gunnar moves away from the edge and retrieves his blade. As he returns it to the sheath on his back, He smiles at the other soldiers.)
Any man who breathes a word of what transpired here, other than to say that our prisoners chose death to incarceration, will find that he has taken his last breath. I pray you do not challenge me on this. T’would be a fools gamble. Return ye to the castle, I shall follow thee anon.
(The soldiers begin to file off towards the forest when suddenly there is a blur of movement from the edge of the cliff. Something rockets directly into the air and then plummets down, hitting the ground near Brynjar’s body. There is a blinding flash that makes all present shield their eyes. When the light fades back slightly we are shown a glorious sight)
Kara, is changed to Her true form.
She is dressed in battle armor, the color of polished bronze
her helm sweeps away from Her face in the effigy of a swan’s wings parted to either side
Brown ringlets of her hair escape the sides of her helm and caress her cheeks and flow down her neck to cover the pauldrons of her armor
behind Her, two massive wings spanning the length of a man’s body are outstretched on either side
The feathers in the wings are blue-grey and end in a light brown at the tips
She stands astride Brynjar’s collapsed form and Her dark eyes are set squarely on Gunnar.
The captain of the guard stands, his mouth agape, and unable to move. Kara brings her wings together in front of her. There is a deafening thunder-clap as they strike together and all the men at arms are thrown to the ground and lay there, unmoving. Gunnar stands, visibly shaken and unable to draw his weapon.
(advancing on Gunnar’s position, her wings sweep back behind her. When she speaks her voice is amplified and echoes)
Foul Knave, You dare such blasphemy in the sight of Asgard? I would split thee in twain and instruct the foul creatures of the ground to feast upon your entrails. I could, with a clap of my hands deafen thee for the rest of your days. I could, with a word, summon a storm of Ravens to peck at thy flesh until thou art but a rack of bones to be ground into dust. Nay, these trials are all too good for thee, base cur. My sentence is far more befitting the punishment of a warrior. Even one with a heart as black as thine. I shall do thee far worse an injury than thou could have ever inflicted upon the poor wretch you thought me to be.
I sentence thee to death, far away from the gates of Valhalla. Let Hel welcome thou to her threshold. And have no pity.
(Gunnar screams as the ground splits under him and he falls into the crevasse. Gone instantly from our sight)
There is complete silence once more. Kara turns and moves over to Brynjar’s body. She collapses to her knees and her wings drop down behind her to lay prone upon the ground as if wilted and dragging. She removes Her helmet and sets it beside her. The sun breaks over the horizon, finally, and the couple are bathed in a bright amber glow. Her armor shimmers and shines in the light, as does a tear that escapes her eye and rests upon her cheek.
(She places a hand upon Brynjar’s breast. It does nothing to close the massive wound. his blood flows freely over her fingers. His eyes flutter open, weakly, He looks to her face)
Be still, My love, The pain will yet pass anon.
(Blood loss and trauma have weakened him. He can no longer see very well)
I am under a dark spell, Fair Lady. Though I hear your beautiful voice, I can not see thy face by this light. I pray thee come closer that I might look into thine eyes once more before I pass from this place
(He holds up a hand and places it against her cheek)
(She closes her eyes and leans against his hand. She leans closer to him)
Of course, My Love, though I pray thee do not frighten as thou dost see me as I am now
(He widens his eyes as he finally sees her true form)
Allfather be praised. I know thee, sweet Lady. Faith!! Thou are mine own true Kara.
(smiles, her eyes full of tears)
Yes, My Love. ‘Tis I. I am here to take thee to thy rest. Though I regret, I have not been truthful with thee, It was in the hopes that I might save thee yet.
(Gestures to the fallen soldiers nearby)
Warmaiden of Asgard. These humble souls await thy benediction. They are faithful soldiers following King and Commander. See to them, tarry not upon my plebeian soul. Though I love you. I am not to destined for the gates of Valhalla.
(shakes her head)
Peace now, sweet spirit. My sisters will travel anon to attend to them. My duty rests with thine own, heart. I will attend thy spirit. And we shall sit here together, fingers steeped in blood but wrapped in the embrace of our Love. We will await the opening of the gates. My faithful, Brynjar. In thy final hours, thou hast become the warrior My heart always knew resided within your frame.
(clasping Kara’s hand tightly against his chest. He struggles to breath as he speaks)
It is for thine heart, that I fought so fiercely. Though I have lived…a farmers life…and have not sought the glory of battle. The Allfather hast no cause to turn his gaze upon my dying moments…..Were we to have never met, He would not send thee thus to retrieve me. Know this, fair maiden, Though My love dost throw the doors of my heart wide to you, the doors of Valhalla shall not be opened to the likes of Me.
(She lends her other hand to holding his)
Dearest Love, Rest now. Speak no more until we are within the great hall. and I shall pour the first draught of Mead and place My lips against thine to taste thy honey kiss
(They spend several seconds waiting. Kara remains focused on his face. And when she notices his breathing has stopped, She leans forward and places a tender kiss upon his brow. She slides her hands under his body and stands, lifting him into her arms. Raising Her wings behind her, she tilts her head back and speaks to the heavens)
(loud and triumphantly)
Now hear me, Guardians of Valhalla. I bring another warrior to thy hearth. He is stout of heart and his spirit is strong. I pray thee receive him into thy grand company.
(She pushes down mightily with her wings. Yet she does not take off from the ground. A few more tries and She begins to understand what is happening. She lays Brynjar’s body down softly on the ground. Kissing his lips, She returns to her feet. Moving to the center of the stage a bright white light is fixed upon her. She speaks to the heavens again)
(there is anger and rage in her voice)
Hear Me, Allfather! If it is right to call you thus? That name would confer the responsibility of parental guidance to all mankind, would it not? I am a Warmaiden of Asgard. A Valkyrie. Though I have chosen a mortal as my love, I have chosen a good man. Though he is not a warrior by thy standard, what names him so? Be thou so sure his is not a warrior? Is it not that he does battle with injustice with the blade of compassion? True, his calloused palm is more the product of hard work than military prowess. He has never razed a fortress but his back has known the cruel work of chopping wood. Why say we that he is unworthy of Valhalla? Was he not as valiant as any soldier when he drops his own security for that of another? How many thousands of mortals pass in natural fashion and are banished from the light of Asgard because it was not at the tip of a foe’s blade? I have seen his heart. It is braver than any warrior I have yet to usher into the Great Hall. Harken to me, All ye hosts of Ancients. I have understood the fire within his soul and my heart is bound to his. So be I precious to you? Know you this! You shall live without my face among you henceforth. I will remain here upon this plane and die a mortal death. If there be no sympathetic ear among my Sisters. Then I have sisters no longer. My pledge is thus. Either I carry his soul to the Great Hall, or I tear these wings from My back and stand upon this rotten ground forever. I shall eat no food and quaff no drink in the name of Asgard further. I will renounce the name of Odin until my final days and when my fate comes to find me. Then let it be cautious, for I will still possess all that I need to best it and stay here a while longer.
(Kara walks out of the light and returns to Brynjar’s body.
She lays down on the ground beside him, and lays her head upon his chest)
(tears flowing freely from her eyes)
Fair thee well, My Love. Though Asgard knows thee not a champion of battle. I know thy spirit to be a conqueror. Thou hast, from the very start, never ceased thy campaign to hold the territory of my heart. And whilst thou can not brag upon thine own riches and precious trophies of war. Thou dost hold the greatest of prizes here, within my own chest. and I am content to lie here within this crimson pool which doth cool to the morning air.
If we are not, Valhalla’s Hall to see
I will in Midgard, rest forever, with thee
(As she speaks the final word of the couplet. There is the faint sound of music and laughter. it is muffled, as if from behind a door. The sound grows louder until it is unmistakable that it is a raucous celebration. There is the sound of a massive oaken door opening. Creaking loudly upon the hinges, and as it does, an orange light falls across the ground to reach the spot where Kara and Brynjar lie together. Kara raises her head from Byrnjar’s chest and, wiping back tears, She begins to form a broad smile across her face)
[End of Scene]
Author’s notes: I have always wanted to write a play or a movie. I kind of cheated a little bit here and skipped over into the final climax. If you read it all the way through I appreciate that!!! I know this is a bit longer than most of my posts. I don’t know if I’ll post anything else until after the weekend…trying to think in Elizabethean has pretty much melted my brain.
Thank you for being here!