|WILLOW'S MAGPIE No. 58|
Sigurd spurred on his horse. The journey had been long and arduous. He and Grane, his horse, had overcome many perils, ridden through desert and swamp, wrestled crocodiles and bears, wild men and loose women. Now the journey was almost over. Fast as a bird, Grane carried the hero towards the distant mountains of Hindar. But still the dangers had not ended. They came to Hindarfjall, a terrifying waterfall cascading from a great wound in the side of the earth. Hero and horse, as one, flew on, riding day and night to overcome the monstrous waters, until the naked rocks of Hindar appeared before them in a mist, red as fire.
There, on the highest mountain, atop the bare rock, lay Brunhild, in deep sleep, banished by Odin to this forbidding fastness for disobedience, condemned to sleep until the bravest knight on earth, risking his life in the quest, should wake her.
Brunhild lay, in full armour, encircled by gold-shimmering shields, surrounded by a ring of blazing fire; gigantic flames spread a wall of unbreachable heat. The roaring inferno could be heard from mountaintop to mountaintop.
Grane trembled. Man and horse made one last supreme effort, and took a mighty leap through the flames. Exhausted by their heroic struggles and the labours of many hazardous weeks, man and beast came to rest in front of Brunhild.
Sigurd saw the sleeping Brunhild and fell in love with her. Her armour encased her like a second skin; Sigurd, unable to free her with his hands, drew his faithful sword, Gram, which cut through plate, leather and chain like a knife through butter.
Brunhild awoke, the flames died down and Sigurd tenderly lifted her to her feet. Odin’s spell was broken, Brunhild was free.
She raised her head and gazed at the knight who had rescued her from a deep sleep lasting an eternity, a sentence she herself had called down upon her head.
“You took your time”, she said, “ what kept you?”