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Hulda and the Elf-Knight by Otilia Tena
SUMMARY: A fairy tale about different types of love, runes and evil spirits.
Hulda and the Elf-knight
"I'd like to speak to the lady. Where is she?"
"Are you Hulda?"
"Yes, I am. What brings you here, little girl? Can I see your face?" I seized her by the hood and she shook her head and revealed her face to me.
"I came after my father. Is he alright?"
"Who is your father, young lady?"
"Take me to the warriors' camp!" She took me by the hand and I had to keep up with her. A man lifted her up and they were both overjoyed and spoke to each other in a mellow language. I shivered with an otherworldly feeling. I must have looked at a loss, for he addressed me all sorts of words, round and sweet shaped.
"I met your brother in the woods and he touched his sheath as a death menace. And in doing this he stirred up love and things in me. <I will go with you if you spare me>, so I told him. And he replied: <Will you serve a foreign lady, far from where you live?> <I will, as long as I serve you as well>, I said. So we called ourselves blood brothers and he brought me here."
Or so I understood from what he spoke. It was as if his words came to me through a veil and barely reached a shore. Yet I needed these words desperately.
"And your lady?" I asked. He looked over his shoulder and he did it so that I swore to myself not to look in that direction again. "Does your father understand what I speak?"
The girl just gazed at me for a while. Then she nodded almost unperceivably or I imagined she nodded, but it was rather a "no" movement. I talked her into staying a few more days with me, so that I could accompany her to the warriors' camp each morning. My cheeks grew hot as I felt them watching me and thinking.
On coming home my brother met us both. He covered the girl's ears gently. "You should be more careful, Hulda! I heard rumours..."
"That you grew too fond of Kristinn. All our men know he is married".
"Kristinn... Is that his name?"
"It's the one I gave to him when we became blood brothers".
Then there was this dream that kept coming back – I lay in my bed half asleep and I threw a pebble out of the window; a sort of stir woke things up and something landed on my bed in response and took a bite from my flesh. I kept asking my beldam to unriddle the runes for me. "I don't see his face, dear lady. I see someone else..."
"Try again, try again about Kristinn and me!" Then I said: "Never mind, beldam, it won't work! I must remember Kristinn is a borrowed name".
"What difference does it make now? Your heart is already set".
I feared my father could be in danger. I promised my mummy to bring him back and I didn't know why we had to stay here with lady Hulda and her brother. We were among foreigners and I could hardly understand what they said. He had to stay in the camp and we only saw each other a short while during the day. One evening I went to talk to him.
"Father, when will we go home?"
"How was your day? Won't you look at me and tell me?"
"It was fine... It's lady Hulda..."
"Lady Hulda... what about her?"
"She puts her hands around her body and she sighs and calls your name..."
He embraced me and said: "Go to your mother and tell her I serve a foreign lady but it's still her that I love.