On his knees, beside the bed where his friend Helen was lying, King Siegfried looked at her with red and watery eyes that indicated the great pain that stretched across his chest.
Her companion, with her radiant eyes and smile, did not smile there, nor did she reveal her black irises. Her face was sealed and pale. How he wanted her face to be free of that expression and color. But there was nothing else he could do. Death had already captured her before even the young Viking had time to rescue her.
Helena was already ready for her last moment on earth, but Siegfried was not. It was painful to imagine his old friend being swallowed by the earth that supported his feet and never again hearing the wise voice and seeing the sweet face of the young woman who had once been a nun and was now a royal advisor, or rather, no longer beside the sister he had adopted.
She then remembered how her sisterhood came about. In one of his many conflicts and raids against the Saxons, he found her in a line of the captured and captured by one of his soldiers during the day's plundering.
The Viking soldier informed him that he found those future slaves in the convent hiding. He also told with disdain and surprise how the young nun prostrated herself as a shield protecting the peasants behind her, who had taken refuge there during the looting, and begged for mercy from those frightened people she was trying to save.
It was no use, however. Everyone was already on the enemy's ship heading for their lands. Helena was forced to be their servant. Every night, she stood at the window of the royal galley looking and praying to Heaven to endure and understand her martyrdom. And offering her trust to the God Jesus who would bring her out of her suffering. She gradually realized that there was a certain respect for her, despite who she was in that place.
She had the help even of the queen in her domestic chores, she slept and worked in a not cruel and exhausting frequency, and had dinner with the majesties and their children.
All this confused her. Siegfried, knowing her better, admired her attention to her younger children and her thoughtful and funny conversations with the queen, his wife. Curious, she was frightened and interested to know the customs of those unknown people to her.
I sometimes caught her talking to her subjects during shopping trips and outings she had with the Viking queen. How interested she was in listening to them, and she didn't sketch any expression of disgust or superiority, just strangeness.
"You know, some of your philosophies, customs and values are similar to mine. I agree with some points of your gods' wisdom, and I have been having visions that the convent did not allow me to see."
"I have reflected in God several things I have learned here and seen how ignorant I was." Helena was saying on one of the many nights Siegfried spent visiting her in her reflection nook in the kitchen. She was very skilled with words, had an admirable reasoning and willingness to learn, and until then, never seen in a Christian that the Viking warrior ever topped.
They grew up together there, during conversations at the window and on the offered walks. It didn't take long for Helena to become part of the royal family. Yes, she was at last a woman free from the submissive condition she had previously found herself. She could finally return to her homeland, but her heart said that this was indeed her home. Everyone loved her, and she was respected by the Viking citizens, but also subjugated. Some did not agree with a Christian Saxon being part of the Viking empire, but the king protected her at any cost from attacks.
However, on a day of brutal and vengeful invasion by the Saxons, she showed her loyalty and kindness. After the nightmare was over, Helena tirelessly helped everyone recover from the horror.
Her aversion to violence even made her bold, helping enemy warriors in their wounds and escapes. How furious he was when he found out. But he understood the motivation, because he knew his sister's heart.
Wars always saddened Helena's soul intensely, she did not see the glory and heroic purpose that he and his companions saw in that dance of swords and shields. She always saw only the other side of conflicts. The not pretty side that cried out for the humanity of these beings. But she needed to know that her act would generate serious consequences for her new people if it continued. She learned hard to make renunciations that she didn't want, for things don't always happen by choice.
In this way, Helena managed to win more and more of the hearts of her new community. She became the first royal diplomat, because Siegfried embraced the advantages she would have if she had one, as well as her enemies. And of course, because she knew how intelligent and hard working her sister was. She slowly made her reputation as a great diplomat with the help of her pacifist philosophy and her God, as well as learning from her brother the art of madness. She sometimes needed to take risks, to be judged as crazy, but for having done an incredible deed. The king earned this title for his crazy and risky strategies in the battle fields. Strategies that sometimes resulted in victories. Shaping himself to be a great warrior and a great protector of his people was his religion. Siegfried was the Mad, Protective and Cunning King.
As Helena argued with him about these reckless acts of his... "You look like a stubborn child who climbs on the roof of his house to prove that he can fly." Obviously, he was prudent, but prudence was not always among the options when he was cornered.
She then went against the odds and had her successes, after all, her determined attitude of avoiding horrendous conflict was the energy that drove her. How true to her truths she was. Intelligent, always trying to understand between the lines of every agreement offered, every word of the other majesties that crossed her family's path, and wisely found a way to achieve her goals. Or, madly. He earned the admiration of many kings, queens and diplomats, but also envy and hatred. She made her enemies, her work called for these risks, and Siegfried found himself even more determined to protect her.
However, a difficult enemy appeared and managed to leave his companion under that immobile bed. General Augustus. As clever as the Viking king, but he underestimated him, and it cost him painfully dear. He articulated to his king and court a peace plan, which Siegfried well knew was a blow to his back. But he believed that he was the direct target, and this was his terrible mistake.
In the celebration of the plan, Siegfried did not hesitate to defend himself and the battle there began. He would never be the prey. But to his amazement, the general was aiming at his diplomat. Despite Helena's efforts to put into practice the defense and attack tactics she had learned from her companion, she was still defeated, without even getting the reinforcement Siegfried intended to give her. It all happened so fast. He didn't know how he got to her and how he tried to stop the bleeding. The world was slow and collapsing before the Viking.
She was gone giving him a kiss on the forehead and a slight, sincere smile.
Now he stood there, trying to swallow that cruel truth that his sister was killed. Augustus saw what everyone in their arrogance did not want to see, a powerful woman, capable of crushing them beside kings and notable warriors. Alongside the fearsome Vikings, and he tried to bring the queen down from that chessboard. He managed to weaken the unstoppable and mad Siegfried.
It was strange for him to see not only his community, but many other distinguished ones, pay homage to his sister. "You are ravishing, Helena." Said Siegfried jokingly to her for winning the sympathy of noble and poorer families, who believed in God or Odin. From warriors to peacemakers. She was a heroine, in a different way that she used to define. She was and still is. As she was also still his sister and his advisor. Always would be. And she dreamed that Heaven was not so far away from Valhalla.
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