Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
THE PLUNDERING OF THE PRINCESS BLAEJAS (Circa 919 AD)
While Northumbria was being subjected to the rule of King Ivar, Princess Helga stayed in Kiev and began a legal thing, or trial, of her Chernigov subjects responsible for the maiming of her husband, the so-called Chernigov twenty. A courtroom was set up in the Hraes’ palace in Kiev and a cavalry unit was sent off to Chernigov to collect all the culprits, who accompanied the cavalry back on their own horses quite voluntarily. They were imprisoned in the palace dungeon and when the first day of the trial began, they were brought up in chains and seated before a table of judges. The Althing speaker read out their names and the charges against them and the crowd in the gallery began whispering amongst themselves.
The Althing speaker saved the gravest charge for last and said, “attempted murder of their lord and prince.
“One year ago, just outside of Chernigov, Prince Ivar and his royal troop, while performing their duties and collecting taxes, were confronted by a large contingent of Drevjane warriors. Ambushing the prince and his retinue from the woods on either side of the town road, they used their bows to disarm the vanguard and rear guard cavalrymen, then surrounded the main body and forced them to surrender at spear point. They tore Prince Ivar from his horse and dragged him to the woods edge, where they had prepared, bent over and staked down two birch trees, and they tied Prince Ivar’s feet to the birches and threatened to slip the knots of the stake ropes unless Prince Ivar withdrew his orders for tribute. The prince insisted that tribute be paid when suddenly one of the knots in the stake ropes let loose and one birch sprang free of the ground and tore one foot and shin bone from the prince. Apparently the force of the jolt tore the other stake free and that birch then sprang up and tore the shin bone out of his other leg. Fortunately, the chain-mail hauberk of the prince went down to his knees and protected his thighs, but both his legs below the knees were torn off. Thanks to further fortune, there was a medical officer among the prince’s troops and he saved the life of Prince Ivar.”
The leader of the Chernigov twenty stood up and explained that the prince had come back for further tribute to support a planned war across the Baltic Sea, but that they had no money to pay the further tribute and were all volunteering to join Prince Ivar in his war when the knot accidentally slipped and maimed their prince. They only attacked his troop because they had wanted to show the prince what capable warriors they were and had already come to an agreement with the prince when the hard knot slipped. One by one the Chernigov twenty stood up and recited their parts in the fray and they all swore that the knot slippage was accidental. The rest of the day was spent documenting their statements.
“You have been talking with my father,” King Ivar told Princess Blaeja, “about the marriage agreement we had negotiated for your grand-daughter while he was off in Ireland.”
Two of King Ivar’s officers had escorted the princess from her chamber to the dining hall where the king was sitting in the shadows. “I told your father that you had accepted our offer a little earlier than we had anticipated.”
“Please, sit down,” the king offered, then looked across the table at her, his chin resting upon his coupled hands. “Rape was the term my father yelled at me, but I’m glad you do not see it that way. I’m going to tell you what really happened and then you may tell my father that perhaps rape is too strong a term. My four buckler bearers carried me into young Princess Blaeja’s room and they placed my shield upon her bed and then guarded the door, both within and without. I could barely see that my wife-to-be was sleeping, the candlelight was so faint, so I had my men light more tapers. I began undressing myself and then I began undressing her, all the time whispering for her to wake. She opened her eyes slowly, knowing fully it was my body pressed against hers. I began kissing her sweet soft lips then I told her I wanted to kiss every square inch of her body. I started at her forehead and, inch by inch, I worked my way down her nose and across those sweet soft lips again, then down her chin and her throat and down her chest and across her sweet left breast and then I worked my way down her flat taut belly and I licked out her navel and then I kissed my way down to her sweet virgin cunny and I felt a shiver surge through her whole body. You’ll be pleased to know she is still hairless down there. Not one single blonde hair.” Ivar rested his chin on his hands once again and waited for a response or a protest but Blaeja would not allow him that satisfaction. She sat across from him with a stone look on her face.
“Good then,” Ivar began again. “I searched for a hair or two with my lips but, finding none, I carried on kissing her right down her left thigh to her knee then across to her right thigh and up again to her sweet virgin cunny. Since I couldn’t find any hair, I felt it my duty to check and make sure her virginity was at least still there. So I pulled my shield up from the end of the bed, well padded it is on the side I sit upon and well blooded it is from the lives lost before it, and I slipped it under her sweet young ass and I felt for her hymen with two fingers and I burst it and my princess groaned and her blood flowed upon my shield and mixed with dried blood of warriors long gone and I lapped it up like a dog of war, my tongue tasting the blood of my wife and a warrior or two. I kissed my way back up along her body and I spent some time kissing and caressing her sweet right breast and then again I kissed her on up her face and then I entered her and her body tensed with the penetration of sword on buckler and I used long stabbing thrusts until I flowed my own blood of life into my wife. Then we hugged and we kissed halfway into the night and my men carried me off on Hraes’ Ship’s Round with her sweet smell and taste still upon it. So you can see, there was no rape here.”
Princess Blaeja gulped just a little bit, not enough for him to notice and she knew what she must do.
“You may leave,” Ivar said. “We’ll continue this discussion tomorrow afternoon and I’ll tell you what happened on our second night of nuptials so you’ll know there was no rape then as well.”
That night Princess Blaeja invited Prince Hraerik up to her third floor bedchamber. They had been drinking wine in the evening and were in good spirits. She began undressing Hraerik and she stroked his tight warrior’s muscles and she kissed his battle scars and the healer within her was aroused. “You were young when I first met you and you still feel so young. It’s the alchemy of the Magis, isn’t it?”
“You seem to be taking good care of yourself as well,” Hraerik said as he undressed her.
“But not like you. Hraelauger too. I saw him two years ago and he looks quite young and newly married. Is that alchemy as well?”
“I’m not allowed to say. They will cut me off. But I do sneak some to my brother.”
“This afternoon I talked with Ivar, or he talked to me was more to the fact of it, but I decided that I must protect young Princess Blaeja. I must allow young Ivar to vent some of his frustration upon me and this will help my grand-daughter. But to help the young couple live better, I must live longer. Can you sneak some to me? I won’t tell the guild. I promise.”
“You’ll help the young couple?”
“I’ll devote my life to those two.”
“Promise me you won’t kill Ivar.”
“I have two years supply for my brother, but I’ll give you half and tell him I was short. Then I’ll get you both more next year. But I have to be careful. It is the Magis’ most closely guarded secret. I can put some in your wine right now if you wish?”
“How long does it take to build up within you?”
“It should start working soon,” Hraerik explained as Blaeja drank her wine. “The drug has a side effect though. It makes one feel randy. It has nothing to do with the life giving properties and can sometimes be distracting.”
Suddenly they both realized they were completely naked and they crawled into bed and made love, falling asleep in each other’s arms. In the middle of the night Blaeja woke up and shook Hraerik. “It’s working. I can feel it.” Hraerik shrugged a yes and was going to go back to sleep when Blaeja said, “I need you. Now.” Halfway through their lovemaking, Blaeja stopped suddenly. “How effective is this potion?” she asked Hraerik. “What do you mean?” he replied.
“I’m not going to get pregnant again, am I?”
“It’s a drug,” Hraerik answered, “not one of your Christian miracles.”
The next day in Kiev, Princess Helga reconvened the althing. The althing speaker presented arguments against the prior day’s statements by the defendants, the Chernigov twenty. “You have claimed that the knot slipped on its own,” he started, “and that the whole affair was an accident. Yet it is you all who put our prince in this Roman execution device called, what is it? Death by Sprung Trees,” he said, looking down at his notes scratched upon a birchbark pad. “It is you who bent the birch trees and tied the slip knots and placed our prince into this device. I have checked and found that none of you have training in executions of any form, not a simple beheading or hanging or even an archery squad, but you decided to put our prince in an execution device that should only be set by experts in execution. By doing so, you placed our prince in grave danger of the device failing, therefore the slipped knot cannot be considered to have been an accident at all, but a direct result of your folly.”
The leader of the Chernigov twenty stood up and said, “We could not have known the knot would fail.”
“Yet the prince did go to the trouble of clipping the lower links of his hauberk together and you allowed him to do so, is that not correct?”
“Yes,” their leader admitted.
“The links hold the chain mail of the lower hauberk together during battle to keep the riding slit from opening up and exposing the inner thigh to spear thrusts and such, is that not correct?”
“I do not have chain mail, but I believe you are correct.”
“And if our prince had any plans of escaping, linking the mail would only interfere with any efforts to escape by running or riding off.” The speaker paced a bit and looked down at his notepad once more. “So why do you think he clipped his hauberk together?”
“We are warriors but we can barely afford weapons let alone armour. We have no breast plates or chain mail, so we have no idea why he would do that. Why would we stop him from adjusting any of his garments?”
“Perhaps it is because he saw the danger of his situation, the possibility of your crude device going off on its own. And if he could see it, so should you have. Had our prince not clipped together the hem of his hauberk, those birch trees would have torn him asunder, but, because they were clipped, only the parts of his legs below the hem were torn off and whipped out into the woods. Had our prince not clipped together the hem of his hauberk, no amount of medical attention could have saved him and you all would be facing murder charges, not attempted murder.”
“We have our prince to thank for us not causing his death, for our prince being smarter and wiser than us. Perhaps that is why he is our prince and we are but common men. And being common men, there is no way we could have foreseen that knot failing.”
The althing speaker then brought in an expert on execution devices who went into the intricacies of death by sprung trees and some of the potential catastrophic outcomes that can occur if improperly executed. “It is a humane form of Roman execution that provides a quick death if set up correctly, compared to Roman crucifixion which causes hours of pain and suffering, or Roman impalement which, if done right, can cause the prisoner to experience up to a week of degrading excruciating suffering. But there are many variables to consider if the device is to be employed in a humane manner. The size, strength and weight of the prisoner, the size of the birch trees, the type of stakes used and the earth into which they are driven, the weather and the temperature of the particular day of execution, the quality of the ropes used to stake down the trees and, of course, the type of slip knots used and how hard they are bound.” Then the expert added, “In my opinion, amateurs employing this device are an accident just waiting to happen.”
The rest of the day was spent documenting witness statements. Princess Helga expected to wrap the legal althing up the next morning and a verdict might be reached in the afternoon. Then she would put together the documentation and result and send it to her husband in Denmark. She hoped the verdict would be harsh enough for her husband to feel avenged and she prayed he would return home. She grew up with the men of the Chernigov twenty and they told her privately that their Drevjane Prince Mal wanted to take her for his wife if Prince Ivar would not have her. While she wished the Chernigov twenty no further harm, she did want her husband to return home. “Art is life”, she thought.
“My father was in a fine forgiving mood this morning,” King Ivar told Princess Blaeja, “and I think I may have you to thank.”
Again, two of King Ivar’s officers escorted Princess Blaeja into the dining hall where King Ivar was waiting. “Your father and I shared a cup of wine or two and reminisced about old times.”
“Please, sit,” the king offered, then looked across the table at her, his arms crossed this time, and he got right into it. “The second night my men took me into your grand-daughter’s chamber and she was awake and expecting us this time. She had placed candles all over the room and I undressed in front of her. When I joined her under the blankets, she was naked and ready. I began kissing her sweet soft lips and I told her I wanted to continue kissing every square inch on her body. I started at her sweet sweet mouth and I kissed her cheek and worked my way down the left side of her neck then out across her collarbone and down the outside of her left arm and I kissed the back of her hand and I kissed each finger and then I kissed her thack and then I kissed her thumb and I worked my way across her soft palm and I kissed my way up the inside of her arm and I began to kiss her armpit and I found a hair. One blonde hair. I kissed my way down her left side and she convulsed a bit as I kissed each rib, but I thought it might be because she was ticklish and not necessarily aroused. Then I kissed my way down her hip and outer thigh to her knee, then kissed my way up her inner left thigh to her sweet cunny. I spent some time there and she started to convulse and I knew it was more than just a tickle that took her breath. I continued kissing her down her right inner thigh and then I kissed her up her right outer thigh and up her hip and waist and I kissed each rib and she is ticklish there and I kissed her right armpit and it was still hairless and bare. Not one single blonde hair.” Ivar rested his chin on his hands and waited for a response but Blaeja was a stone.
“So then,” Ivar began again, “I kissed my way down the inside of her right arm and across her hand and back up the outside of her arm and across her collarbone and up the side of her neck and across her cheek and I tasted once more her sweet sweet lips and then I thrust my way into her and she thrusted back and I hugged her to me and rolled onto my back. I showed her how to sit in the saddle and she rode me like a shield maiden rides her Valkyrie stallion until I erupted within her. We hugged and we kissed and we slept together for a bit and then my men carried me back to my room. So you can see that there was no rape that night either.”
Princess Blaeja just sat like a stone.
“You may leave,” Ivar said. “We’ll continue this discussion tomorrow afternoon and I’ll tell you what happened on our third night of nuptials as well.”
When night came, Princess Blaeja snuck into Prince Hraerik’s room with a bottle of fine Frankish wine. She filled two cups and she began undressing Hraerik and she sat him on a chair and she lifted her dress and she sat on his lap and began massaging his shoulders and kissing his lips and he rose up into her and she stood and she sat and she stood and she sat until Hraerik welled up within her like a flowing spring. “Are you sure you won’t get me pregnant?” she whispered, “because this potion is a miracle. I feel younger already.”
“You do feel younger already,” Hraerik agreed and he got up with her on him and he carried her over to his bed and laid her upon it. They made love again, in the prone this time, then they sat back in bed and enjoyed some wine.
“I talked with Ivar again this afternoon,” Blaeja began, “and it seems he and young Princess Blaeja may be more compatible than I first thought.”
“You’ll still help them?” Hraerik asked.
“God yes! I’ll devote my life to them,” Blaeja replied. She paused and sipped some wine, then decided to ask Hraerik a question that had been dogging her. Do you remember Hraegunar’s curse?”
“The Old Boar and snakes thing?” Hraerik questioned.
“Yes. Do you know if Ivar knows about the curse?”
“I think pretty much everybody knows about the curse. My father died a pretty famous death.”
“A most famous death. Oddi once told me that Hraegunar told him that he wanted the most famous death of all. A death by sword that would gain him a seat at the head table in Valhall.”
“Oddi died a pretty famous death himself,” Hraerik added.
“A most famous death too!” Blaeja said. “A death foretold. Fated to die from the poisonous bite of a snake that crawled out from under the skull of his long dead horse, Fair Faxi. Oh, I loved that man! ‘Fate is all’ were his last words.”
“So the skalds say,” Hraerik replied and stared up at the ceiling.
“You were there and you’re a skald! What do you say?”
“I’ll tell you about it someday, when it doesn’t hurt too much to talk about it.”
“I’m sorry,” Blaeja whispered and she held Hraerik’s head upon her breasts. “Swords and snakes and boars and strakes,” she cooed as the wine went to her head. “If Ivar knows about the curse, do you think he may be acting upon it?”
“I don’t think so,” Hraerik answered her. “His trencher is full, what with his injury and his new kingdoms and his young new wife.”
The third day in Kiev, Princess Helga reconvened the althing once again. The althing speaker presented closing arguments and statements and the Chernigov twenty each presented their own final statements. Then the judges began making their deliberations at the head table. It was quickly decided that the incident was accidental in nature, but criminally negligent in fact. The judges announced their findings and said they would break for lunch to discuss sentencing. After a long lunch the judges reconvened in the afternoon and pronounced that the attempted murder charge was found to be excessive and that the Chernigov twenty had been found guilty of criminal negligence and their sentences had been increased to twenty lashes each. The defendants were informed that, since ten lashes had already been administered on the orders of Princess Helga, ten more lashes would be administered that afternoon.
Princess Helga was disappointed by the findings and the sentences, not so much because she thought they were not harsh enough, but because she knew they would not bring her husband home. And now she would have Prince Mal to deal with. She began assembling the velum documents of the althing and she could hear the lashes being administered out in the courtyard as she worked. She prayed to Odin and to their Perun to give them strength through their ordeal and she finished her work as the last strokes were being made and she put the documents into a waterproof leather satchel and she sealed it with hot wax. She scrawled ‘For Prince Eyfur Hraerikson’ into the wax in Latin. She thought perhaps she should have printed King Eyfur, for she had heard of his conquest of Denmark, or perhaps King Ivar Eyfurason, but she knew King Ivar’s father would be at the receiving end and his mother would still be here in Kiev, so she left the direction as it was.
“Again my father was in a fine forgiving mood today,” King Ivar told Princess Blaeja. “Thank you so much for that.”
Once again, two of King Ivar’s officers had escorted Princess Blaeja into the dining hall where King Ivar was waiting. “Your father and I talked about the death of your older brother, King Oddi, and how the skalds sing of it as a death foretold, a death by the bite of a poisonous snake that crawled out from under the skull of his long dead horse. I find it curious how the skalds tell a similar story of how your grandfather, King Hraegunar Lothbrok, died…by the bite of a dozen poisonous snakes.”
“Please, sit,” the king said. “You might be surprised how similar the deaths actually were, for you slaked the poison on the blood-snakes in Hraegunar’s death and my mother found the poison on the blood-snake of my brother, King Oddi’s death.” Blaeja sat down suddenly, shocked. “The third and last night, my men took me to your grand-daughter’s chamber and they placed Hraes’ Ship’s Round upon the bed and they guarded the door, all from inside this time. She was awake and expecting us and again, she had placed candles at strategic locations throughout the room. I undressed in front of her and when I joined her under the blankets, she was naked and ready. I began kissing her sweet soft lips and I told her I wanted to kiss every square inch of her body and I turned her over and started kissing the nape of her neck. I worked my way down her spine to the small of her back then I kissed her sweet right buttock all over and continued kissing down the back of her leg to the inside of her right knee then went across to her left knee and I worked my way up the back of her leg and started kissing her all over her left buttock and worked my way to her anus and I kissed her there most vigorously. I raised my arm and my men surrounded the bed and they grabbed Young Princess Blaeja by the arms and the legs and they lifted her up off the bed and I rose up on my stumps and I entered the princess anally. She started to scream so one of my men covered her mouth and she struggled and twisted as I drove her sweet young rear. But I wanted her pregnant, so I withdrew when I was ready and I entered her sweet honey cunny and I drove her until I spouted like a whale. When I told my men I was done, they dropped her on the bed and I dressed and they took me away on my shield.
”Princess Blaeja was crying when I left and I suppose that is when she decided to tell you about our midnight escapades.” Then Ivar recited this verse:
“Wait fifteen days, then three nights in a row
Fock your wife and you’ll have a Bo.
Wait only days, and have your way,
And a girl will come, come birthing day.”
“It is a Warlock Song,” Princess Blaeja said numbly. She was still in shock over everything Ivar had said.
“I overheard your handmaidens talking,” Ivar explained, “about Princess Blaeja reaching puberty and losing her first blood, so, while I waited fifteen days, I made you a proposal of marriage with your grand-daughter, but I didn’t have time to wait three years till she reached the age of majority. My subjects in Denmark are screaming for an heir and your Anglish princes were coming to kill me and, quite frankly, I was hoping to die in battle at Corbridge.” King Ivar sat back and put the stumps of his legs upon the dining table. “Really…how long do you think I can last, carried into battle on these?” he asked. “I have Romans wanting to kill me to the south of Gardar, Khazars wanting to kill me in the east, a Pecheneg horde between them trying to ride me into the earth and Bulgars off to the side wanting to turn my skull into a cup. My own Drevjane Slavs tried to kill me by tearing my legs off and I regret that they only got the job half done. I flee back to the Skjoldung’s homeland and the Dane’s King Hiarn wants to kill me, the Norwegian’s King Amund tries to kill me and the Angles of Northumbria now call me Ivar the Boneless because I killed so many of them! Do you really think I have three years?”
Blaeja started crying. “Well…she’s pregnant now. You got your wish.”
“Yes…you’re a healer. You’d be the first to know your grand-daughter’s state. And now you know how she lost her virginity, both front and back. And since I’ve told you, now you must tell me, how you lost your virginity.”
“I lost it on a ship,” Blaeja started. “A ship called Fair Faxi.”
“Ah…the long dead horse of Arrow Odd. He was cremated on that ship…cremated with my mother. How did he get stuck with plundering you?”
“They drew lots after they killed my father. Prince Hraerik, King Hraelauger and Prince Oddi drew lots, but I think they tricked Oddi into getting stuck with the job. He refused at first, because he had sworn to Hjalmar the Brave that he would never take women unwillingly aboard his ship, but I gave him permission if it would stop Hraegunar’s curse upon my family. So he waited on Fair Faxi on the river just outside York Castle here and I snuck out in the evening and willingly boarded his ship and gave him permission to plunder me and I lost my virginity.
“The next day, Prince Oddi made a strange request of me.”
“What was that?” King Ivar asked.
“He wanted me to procure him two hundred or so York boats. I told him it would take me two days to gather up that many and then he went to a chest aboard Fair Faxi and he paid me in advance for them in gold. That night I snuck down to the wharf of York Castle and I asked permission to board Fair Faxi and I gave Oddi permission to plunder me again. By the third night we had his two hundred York boats stowed aboard the ships of his fleet and they were planning to sail in the morning, so, again I snuck down to the wharf and gave him permission to plunder me again. In the morning he sailed off with his father for New Ireland, New Scotland and New Angleland. Nine months later I gave birth to his son and I named him Hraegunar, after your grandfather. Three nights in a row and we had a Bo.”
“But did you wait fifteen days?” Ivar asked.
“I think it was sixteen days actually. I remember, because I wished it was zero days.”
“You know…your daughter gave me permission,” King Ivar offered.
“I was well over the age of majority when I gave Prince Oddi permission.”
“Point taken. But I just won’t have the three years. I’ll be dead within a year, I’m sure. Don’t tell young Blaeja that, though. She really does love me. Are you sure she is pregnant?”
“Yes, I’m sure. She’s too young. This birth will be difficult.”
“But she wants to have the baby?”
“Yes. She wants to have your baby. But the guild has drugs to terminate the pregnancy should you two change your minds.”
“Is that how you knew how to make the poison that you slathered on the swords that killed my grandfather? Because you’re a healer?”
“My father forced me to prepare the poison. I told him to set King Hraegunar free, to send him and his knarrs back to Frankia, but he wouldn’t listen to me, his daughter, when he had two sons that wanted blood.”
“Ah…sons! They’re so much trouble. I hope we have a girl,” Ivar said with a sly smile.
“You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“That’s just a warlock song. It might still be a girl.”
“You said Oddi was cremated with your mother. How can that be? Princess Eyfura is still alive, isn’t she?”
“You’ll have to wait a little longer for Prince Hraerik, I’m afraid. Queen Mother Eyfura is still alive. But she’s not my mother.”
Princess Blaeja was shocked.
“You look shocked,” Ivar said. “Not as shocked as before, but perhaps you’re getting used to my life. We’ll have to get you some wine for this one. It may take a bit.” And Ivar waved over a servant and ordered him to bring wine. “I’ll tell you the family secret on two conditions. One…you must tell no other, especially my father. Two…we must both agree that you weren’t plundered by Oddi and Princess Blaeja wasn’t plundered by me. Do I have your word?”
Blaeja hesitated and the servant showed up with a bottle of Frankish wine and two cups. Ivar could see that Blaeja didn’t want to admit that young Blaeja wasn’t plundered, but he guessed that she was torn between that and learning a family secret that Prince Hraerik could never hear about. “I know of only one person in this castle,” Ivar started, “that has ever been raped.”
“Okay…I’m in. I give you my word that I accept your two conditions.”
“When I was Blaeja’s age, I hit puberty and I started to look at my mother’s handmaiden a little differently. She lived with us in the royal quarters and she had a hard beauty about her. She was tall and blonde and strong and I began to notice that she had beautiful breasts. She was a family servant, a handmaiden, a slave. I would skulk about, hoping to catch a glimpse of her bathing or washing and sometimes I caught a bit of tit or a flash of ass, but I think she caught on to me because she started to avoid me. But I was royalty, I thought. No servant should be avoiding me. So I imposed myself on my mother’s other handmaiden who was a slave and I forced her onto my parent’s bed and I ploughed her a nice long furrow. Well…it wasn’t actually that long because that is how I lost my virginity. I didn’t hear any complaints from the slave girl and I don’t think she ever told my mother about it, but I felt slighted by the other handmaiden, the beautiful one. So one night I slipped into her room and crawled into bed with her and while she was sleeping, I started to plough her a furrow and she woke up and started to fight me. I reminded her that she was little more than a slave and that I was royalty and I told her that she had beautiful breasts and she covered them up and blurted out that she was my mother.
“You want to talk about shocked. I was shocked! Mother-focking shocked! That night, she told me our family secret. She was the daughter of Eyfura’s eldest son, Angantyr Arngrimson, the warrior Hjalmar the Brave slew on Samso Island, the warrior my brother, Arrow Odd, would have slain had he not been so busy killing Princess Eyfura’s eleven other sons. Hervor was Eyfura’s grand-daughter from a relationship her son had with a slave before he went to Samso Island to die. Hervor’s mother, the slave, apparently killed herself in grief, so Eyfura kept Hervor as a handmaiden slave to keep the indiscretion a secret. She didn’t even tell Hervor who her father had been until she found Hervor useful.
“When Eyfura lost all her sons, she lost all her heirs to King Frodi’s royal bloodline, but when she was saved from a Slav uprising by Prince Hraerik, they fell in love and she wanted to have a son to carry on her family’s line. My father never had a chance. His first love had been Princess Alfhild of Norway, but she claimed he was only infatuated by her and she was saving herself for a fine-blooded king. When my father went to the court of King Frodi to avenge some slight against his father, Hraegunar Lothbrok, he fell in love with and married King Frodi’s sister, Princess Gunwar, the warrior princess who was killed by the Hun, Prince Hlod, King Frodi’s illegitimate son, and this led to the great Battle of the Goths and the Huns.”
“I’ve heard this tale,” Princess Blaeja whispered. “Prince Hraerik wrote a beautiful poem for his lost love, Gunwar, and the poem was so beautiful that when he recited it to his captor, King Bjorn of the Barrows, the king promised to spare his life if he could but write another such poem about himself overnight, and he did it and the tale of it became a rallying cry across the northern lands and volunteers joined the fight and defeated the Huns. Even Anglish warriors from Northumbria joined in the fight. I grew up hearing tales about it. All young princesses in the north would have died to be with Prince Hraerik. What chance did Eyfura have?”
“Exactly!” Ivar said. “It was a match made in heaven. But Princess Eyfura was too old to bear children when she met my father. She had already had twelve sons a generation earlier and all the fertility potions in the world couldn’t pry another son from those worn loins. So she came up with a plan and it was diabolically clever. So clever, in fact, that I wish Eyfura really was my mother. She told Hervor who she really was and they made a pact to avenge their fathers together. Now there is only one thing on earth that my father, Prince Hraerik, is afraid of, and that is the ghost of Queen Alfhild, who was murdered by her husband, King Frodi. Alfhild was Eyfura’s mother and Eyfura claims she was a witch. But I think it runs in the family, because Eyfura put the idea in Hraerik’s head that Queen Alfhild’s ghost wandered the halls of King Frodi’s palace in Kiev. Then she drugged her husband and made him believe that Alfhild’s ghost was making love to him at night, a ghostly succubus as it were, but it was young Hervor that the entranced Prince Hraerik was focking and this went on for three nights and on that last night, Princess Eyfura burst into Queen Alfhild’s bedchamber just as Hervor was coming with my father and she blamed it all on the ghost of Alfhild. Nine months after Prince Hraerik was raped, Hervor gave birth to me. Princess Eyfura faked a pregnancy and they kept Hervor’s a secret and I became Princess Eyfura’s heir to King Frodi’s lands and power. And thirteen years later, I became a mother-focker.” Ivar refilled both cups with the last of the wine.
“But how do you know Hervor was really the daughter of Angantyr and not just a handy handmaiden conveniently impregnated?”
“I checked into that as well. It turns out that Hervor wasn’t slave spawn after all. Her mother was the daughter of Jarl Bjarmar of Staraya Ladoga in Gardar. Before Angantyr left for Samso, he married her and took her home to Arngrim and Eyfura and got her pregnant, then he borrowed the famous sword Tyrfinger from his father and went and got himself killed. While your Arrow Odd was burying Tyrfinger with Angantyr on Samso Island, Princess Eyfura was holding Jarl Bjarmar’s daughter captive while she carried her son’s baby. Whoever controlled the baby held a claim to King Frodi’s realm, and with her sons all dead, her son’s baby suddenly became quite valuable. During the birth of Hervor, Eyfura drugged Jarl Bjarmar’s daughter and told her the baby was stillborn, then she sent her back to Jarl Bjarmar. Bjarmar claimed that Eyfura had kept the baby, but they couldn’t prove it and Eyfura raised the baby in secret and kept her as a slave and a handmaiden to be used when needed. So now you know why I’m such a mother-focker and why it’s not my fault.”
“But you said earlier that Hervor and Eyfura made a pact of vengeance for their fathers. Was it against my Oddi?”
“The wine’s done,” Ivar replied. “We’ll have to save that one for another day.”
“But you talked about Oddi and a poisoned sword?”
King Ivar’s men brought over Hraes’ Ship’s Round and carried off their lord.
Princess Blaeja was a little tipsy from the wine and the story so she asked the servant for another bottle and two fresh cups and she went up to Prince Hraerik’s second floor chamber.
The night before, Princess Blaeja had snuck into Prince Hraerik’s room, but with half a bottle of wine already in her, she was far less secretive. She knocked on his door and said she had a bottle of fine Frankish wine for him. The prince let her in and she filled two cups and they sat and drank at his small dressing table. “I finally remembered why I find you so attractive,” she started, “even in your advanced age.”
“Oh?” said Hraerik, laughing. He could tell she was half cut. “And what did you remember?”
“When I was a young princess of…young Princess Blaeja’s age, I heard tales and poems about a young Prince Hraerik who had written a poem for his slain wife that was so beautiful, it kept him from being executed by King Bjorn of the Barrows, and the tale was so inspiring, it caused young princesses everywhere to wet themselves in wonderment.” She began undressing Hraerik and she led him into his bed and she undressed herself in front of him and she joined him in the bed. “Did you notice anything?” she asked.
“You look younger.”
“And I feel so much younger.”
They made love in the bed and Blaeja felt like a teen again, making love with her hero, Hraerik Bragi, the skald of Gunwar’s Song. She had orgasm after orgasm while astride Hraerik’s steed and they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
“You were very passionate last night,” Hraerik said, when Blaeja woke up.
“It was a passionate night,” she replied, turning over in bed. She saw Hraerik drinking wine at the dressing table.
“Do you want some?” he asked.
“No. I think I had a bit more than you last night”. Hraerik nodded. “I was drinking with Ivar,” she said. “He apologized in his own way for rushing things with young Blaeja. He wants an heir for Denmark and he said he couldn’t wait the three years we’d agreed upon. He thinks because he lost his lower legs that he will be dead in battle within a year.”
“He puts himself in danger unnecessarily, but the shield and bearers we have come up with for his handicap, this fighting platform, is turning out to be far more effective than even a Roman cataphract. His horse has eight legs, eight arms, eight eyes and four brains and they all fight as one unit, breaking down shield walls, drawing his own forces forward. I’ve never seen anything like it and neither has our enemies. It is a weapon of shock and awe. I watched Ivar and his Sleipner attack the Scots at Corbridge and their shield wall crumbled under his attack. With Frodi’s helmet, Oddi’s Roman scale-mail shirt and my sword, Tyrfinger, he is unstoppable.”
“Perhaps, given time,” Blaeja said, “he’ll understand that he doesn’t fight alone. That we are all behind him.”
“I think you two are going to get along fine,” Hraerik reassured her. “A ship of mine just came in from Gardariki today bringing a special cargo. I want you to try this,” he said as he spread a golden paste on a breakfast biscuit.
“What is it?” she asked, throwing on a silk wrap and joining him at the table.
“It is the roe of a special sturgeon fish common in the Volga River in the east. It is a delicacy of the Khazars, but we have used a Cathayan method of preservation to allow it to last long enough for transport to the west. Try some,” and he pushed a biscuit towards her.
Blaeja picked it up and took a bite. “It’s not bad,” she said, then she took another bite and said, “It’s quite good actually.” Then she finished off the biscuit and added, “It’s delicious! Can I have more?”
“More? You want more?” Hraerik asked and passed her another buttered biscuit. “We call it Khazar Vayar, because it comes from the Khazar Way. Do you think we’ll be able to sell it here? I want to make it available at all our Hraes’ trading stations in the west. Angleland, Ireland, Frankia, the Holy Roman Empire, here in York?”
“Yes…here in York. But I think we’ll be selling this to royalty only,” Blaeja said enthusiastically. “The royals aren’t going to share this with their subjects!”