The Norse myths and legends contain a fascinating figure – Skuld, a woman of both great power and cruelty who seized the throne of Denmark through deceit and magic. While elves rarely feature prominently in surviving tales, half-elves were said to exist. Skuld was one such being, possessing both elven and human blood.

According to the Hrólfr Kraki’s Saga, Skuld was the half-sister of the great King Hrólfr Kraki of Denmark, sharing the same father. Their father was King Halga of Denmark, who unwittingly committed incest with his daughter Yrsa and fathered Hrólfr. When the truth came to light, Yrsa left in disgrace and married King Aðils of Sweden. King Halga then raped an elf-woman, and from this union Skuld was born, with mixed elf and human parentage.

Halga sought to reclaim Yrsa, invading Sweden but meeting his death in battle against Aðils. Hrólfr succeeded him as king and also defeated Aðils in combat. Growing up, Skuld harbored ambitions to seize power from her noble half-brother. She married Hjörvarðr, king of Öland, who was a vassal of Hrólfr’s kingdom – though some saw this as part of Skuld’s plot against the throne.

Through cunning manipulation, Skuld convinced Hjörvarðr to turn against his overlord Hrólfr Kraki. Over three years, she stealthily built his forces. Skuld recruited the darkest of witches and outlaws. She even persuaded elven armies to join their cause, beguiling even the wisest of elves.

On the feast day of Yule, Hjörvarðr’s forces launched a surprise attack on the main city of Lejre. King Hrólfr and his elite berserker guard fought valiantly but were overwhelmed. Through magic, Skuld animated the corpses of the slain to fight on as zombies, so that the more who fell in battle the greater Hjörvarðr’s armies grew. In the end, even mighty Hrólfr was cut down.

King Hjörvarðr also met his demise in the fray. Thus Skuld usurped the Danish throne and became its ruthless queen. Employing great intellect and knowledge of sorcery, she instituted a reign of terror. Uprisings were brutally quashed through her spells.

However, Skuld’s dominion was short-lived. Vöggr, the sole surviving companion of Hrólfr, convinced Queen Yrsa to seek vengeance for her fallen son. She provided a great Swedish army to aid the oppressed Danes. Through their sacrifice, Vöggr penetrated Skuld’s stronghold and defeated her before she could unleash further dark magic. Stripped of her powers, Vöggr subjected Skuld to tortures reflecting her own cruel invention, ending her tyrannical rule.

Though beautiful, intelligent and gifted with military prowess and magic, Skuld’s cruelty alienated her subjects. For all the lives she took, she finally met a fitting end due to her own villainous acts. Thus the myth of Skuld serves as a warning – that power without morality and empathy will be met with destruction.

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