Sigurd Part VI
At last, Sinfjotli was considered old enough by Sigmund to enact revenge upon Seggeir for Volsung’s death. Sigmund and Sinfjotli had been creating havoc in King Seggeir’s kingdom long enough; they wished to strike at the heart of their enemy.
Signy brought them into the palace, to begin their attack on her husband. But as they were waiting, one of Signy’s two young children ran into the room where they were hiding. He was chasing a toy, and he saw the two fierce men. He ran back to Seggeir’s chamber and told his father what he had seen.
Seggeir understood the significance of what the child said and prepared himself for attack. Signy discovered what had happened, and dragged her children to her brother and son: “These children have betrayed you,” she told Sigmund. “I suggest you kill them.”
Really, since he had killed the first two boys, it’s not so surprising that she would say this. I mean, it follows what happened before.
But maybe Sigmund was feeling guilty, or who knows what. He said, “I am loth to kill children of yours, even if they have betrayed me.” And he stood there.
Young Sinfjotli didn’t have this constraint of feeling. He killed his siblings right then and there.
The next thing you know, Seggeir has launched his attack. Sigmund and Sinfjotli have arrived at their hour of revenge, and they fought harder and stronger than ever before. But they could not prevail against Seggeir’s numbers, and he tied them up and threw them in jail.
While they sat there all day and night, Seggeir devised a special way for them to die. He built a traditional cairn, or burial mound. As a special torture, he put a huge stone slab through the center of the mound. He put the men into the burial mound, one on each side of the stone. He intended this to bury them alive, together but unable to help one another.
However, right before the mound was sealed, Signy managed to throw an armload of straw into the opening. But Seggeir sealed it up tightly, pleased to have devised this painful and humiliating death for his long enemies.
Sinfjotli looked through the straw. He said to Sigmund, “It looks like we won’t have to worry about food for a while, because my mother has thrown in some ham with the straw.”
But then he felt it; the hilt of Sigmund’s sword! He couldn’t see because of how dark it was, but this sword was unmistakable.
Sinfjotli plunged the sword into the slab of rock dividing the mound. Sigmund grasped the other end and they sawed their way through the slab. As soon as the slab was spilt, they worked together to hack and saw their way out of the burial mound.
They were free.
It was nighttime, and they made their way back to the hall to find Seggeir. Everyone was asleep, so they gathered fuel and firewood. They intended to set the great hall on fire and burn the king and all his men with it.
When they felt the heat and the smoke, the men in the hall woke up. The king demanded to know who had set the fire.
Sigmund rose up to accuse him. “Here I am, Sigmund, and my sister’s son, Sinfjotli. Now you know that all the Volsungs are not dead, and we remember that you are the one who killed our father.”
Signy came out to stand with her family against Seggeir:” Now you know that I have not forgotten who plotted to kill my father. I had our two youngest sons killed because they were not eager enough to avenge Volsung. Here is Sinfjotli, my child and Sigmund’s. He was conceived while I was disguised as a sorceress. His blood comes from a daughter and a son of Volsung, and he was always eager to kill you for your betrayal of my father.”
Sigmund put out his hand to lead his sister out of the burning hall, but she stopped him.
“I have worked for nothing but revenge. I have had my children killed for it, and devoted my whole life to it. I was unwilling to marry Seggeir, but now I will willingly die with him. It is all I am fit for.”
And she walked back into the fire, saying farewell to Sigmund and Sinfjotli. She died with everyone in the hall.