Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE POINT ZERO
21.0 PRINCESS NADO OF THE ALANS (Circa 1033 AD)
(1033 AD) Everything was fine in Chernigov when Prince Hraerik arrived there to pick up Witch Nadege; the ice on the Dnieper was all but gone and the cool spring air fled from the rays of a warm spring sun. But Nadege wanted to stay in the city a little bit longer. “Witch Nado’s brother is coming to the White Castle to visit her and he’s a warlock!” she told the Prince. “They’re a brother and sister warlock-witch team. I can learn so much about Aran witchcraft from them.” The White Castle was Prince Mstislav’s white limestone palace in the center of Chernigov and Prince Alamat of the Burgalty Alans was expected to arrive in a week and would be staying with them there.
“Fine,” Hraerik told her. “When I leave in the morning, you come down to the Dnieper with me and I’ll introduce you to the captain of a longship I’ll leave here for you. He and his crew will be responsible for your safety until I see you in Baghdad. Let him know when you wish to go.” Then they made love for hours. They had been apart all winter and now would only have one brief night together before another month or so of separation. The Prince wished he could stay and meet this Prince Alamat, but he was leading the great merchant fleet to Cherson where he would collect tithes and then release the merchants to service their trade routes to Constantinople and Baghdad and India and Cathay. He had met a few warlocks before, but half the time it was in battle and the warlock was usually trying to kill him.
A week later, Prince Alamat rode into Chernigov on a skittish white war pony while his standard bearer circled the city of Chernigov seven times on his roan stallion. The prince was at the head of his Centuriata, his personal retinue of one hundred and twenty warriors, and they rode to the central square in front of the White Castle, where Prince Mstislav and Princess Nado awaited them. A young boy stood between them and Alamat knew instantly that this was their son, Prince Eustathius, for he wore a white shirt with the tamga of the Burgalty Alans, a two pronged spear, emblazoned upon it in red gold. “Peace to your castle!” Alamat greeted them in Alan.
“And peace to yours,” Prince Mstislav replied in welcome. He had learned the Alan language of his wife because that is what traders did best…learn languages. Alamat dismounted and hugged his sister, then his nephew and then Prince Mstislav he hugged hardest of all. He was tall, like Mstislav, but with long raven locks like his sister, not red gold, like the Hraes’ prince’s. He stopped to study the young boy before him. He too had red gold hair, but the fine looks of his sister and he nodded in approval and beamed radiantly. When their standard bearer rode in and rejoined them after his seven circles of the city, the Centuriata sang their war song, starting in treble. Never before had the Hraes’ of Kiev or of Chernigov heard the Sarmatian song, the war chant of the Alans, and the chorus’ refrain rose up high into the afternoon air.
“We have prepared a banquet for you and your men,” Mstislav said when they’d finished their song.
“My men will wait without, in your square, while I feast,” Alamat said. “It is their way!” And Princess Nado nodded that it was the Alan way. Only the standard bearer joined Prince Alamat as they walked into the palace and went to the hall. The warriors didn’t even dismount as they waited, and their horses stamped about impatiently on the flagstones of the square. Tables were spread out between the highseats and were teaming with roasted and boiled meats and baked breads and steaming dishes. Frankish sparkling wines and Italian ports were there as well and Khazar Vayar as always. Misty and Nado and their son, Eusty, all shared the first highseat and Prince Alamat and Witch Nadege shared the second and the third held the standard bearer and a maiden.
Prince Alamat was thirsty from the long day’s ride and looked about for the brew of the Narts, the black beer of the Alans, but saw none and was served strong wine instead. No slaves served in the hall of the Hraes’, only the sons and the daughters of nobles. Across the hall at the guest highseats sat Qasaty Bibo, head of Mstislav’s Centuriata of Boyars and a few other important boyars as well as a young Prince, the son of Misty’s sister. As the evening wore on and the feasting ended and the drinking began the guests wandered about the tables and conversed with each other and Nado and Misty would trade turns translating for Alamat as he talked with guests. But the strong drinks were going to Prince Alamat’s head and he slurred a word that the young prince across the table took offense to and he lashed out at the Alan with a sword, but Alamat’s hand was not slurred and he drew his sword and swept the thrust away and slashed the young man’s throat with the second swipe of his sword. The Hraes’ boyars on either side of Prince Alamat seized him and stripped him of his weapon and the prince passed out dead drunk.
Princess Nado, a royal of the martial Alans, deemed it offensive to strip her prince of his sword and a disgrace to the Burgalty clan and she rushed over to help her brother, but the boyars had rushed away with him, holding him up under the arms. She was quite drunk herself and she rushed out into the square, shouting to the Alans there, “Saddle up your war ponies, a tragedy has occurred on your watch! Prepare yourselves for battle, oh radiant Alans!” Then she rushed back into the hall and told Mstislav, “I am Alamat’s sister, we are of one bone, of one blood, shared of the same breasts’ milk. You have insulted him with your punishment and have offended the Alan people. Bring him back to rejoin us and tomorrow we can see who did wrong.”
Mstislav took his wife by the arms and said, “Your brother, Alamat, is in his suite in the castle and lies in bed as if dead, he is drunk, dead drunk. I can’t invite him back, even if I wanted to, and I should help you to our room as well.”
In anger, the princess of the Alans rushed off to her room on her own.
“Where is Eusty?” Misty asked Nadege as she approached.
“Princess Nado put him to bed in your room two hours or so ago,” she said. “This is all so terrible!” she cried. “I must go to my room, too.”
“Could you check on her brother for me? He’s in the master suite so drunk he could be choking on vomit. I have to check on his men, his retinue in the square.” Horses could be heard from without. Suddenly, all in the hall heard the song of the Alans out in the square, but this song was different. “Wake Prince Alamat,” Misty shouted to Nadege as she ran up the stairs. “This song is not for family, but for an enemy. Wake him and I will try to calm them!” Nadege continued up the stairs and Mstislav rushed out to the square. The warriors and their war ponies were prancing in a huge circle around the square and some had their bows out and others brandished sabres.
Prince Mstislav stood on the front porch of the palace and shouted peace offerings to the Centuriata in Alan, but they couldn’t hear him over the clattering of hooves. “Bring me a tablecloth!” Misty shouted to one of the servants and he began gesturing peace signs to the Alan warriors. When the servant returned, Misty began waving the white tablecloth back and forth in the air and it spooked the horses back a bit and the warriors lowered their bows a bit. Witch Nadege was in Prince Alamat’s suite but she couldn’t wake him. He was still dead drunk. She went to her own suite and was getting some smelling salts out of her potions bag when she heard a scream come from the royal couple’s room. She opened the door and saw Eusty lying dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood and she saw Nado holding a knife to her own carotid artery and as Nadege moved towards her she saw the knife bite and blood spurted across the room and Nadege caught up Nado as she collapsed and lost her life. Nadege laid her out beside her son and she rushed out with the salts to Prince Alamat’s room and she put the salts under his nose and he woke up suddenly.
“Your sister has killed herself!” Nadege shouted to clear his head even more and Alamat sprang up off the bed and rushed out into her room. He kneeled down in the pools of blood between them and he hugged them both one last time and he had blood on his hands and blood on his face and he looked a sight of terror as he rushed off out of the room and down the stairs. He was still drunk, just wide awake and in a fit.
Through half the night the Alan warriors did not alight from their Nartian steeds, their war ponies and then their prince flew out into the square and grabbed a horse and jumped up upon it and shouted, “Misfortune has fallen upon our heads and my sister and nephew are both dead! My beloved Nado, my only beloved sister, slew herself and her son with the dagger of the braves! From this day forward, those people are our blood enemies!” And he pointed at Prince Mstislav who was still waving a white flag in front of the White Castle and then he rode off with his Centuriata behind him.
Prince Mstislav had his legionnaires seal up the city and he sent his guests away and he thanked Nadege and tucked her into bed and he went into his master suite and he tucked his wife and young son into bed and he slept with them one last time. Iry Dada came to him in a dream that night and he told him what must be done and then he slept with them too.
In the morning, Witch Nadege went into Prince Mstislav’s room and gently woke him. “I have been carving runes for some Aesir magic and I shall try to arrange for some few last words with your wife and your son if you wish. Then I am going to exorcise Iry Dada.”
“Can you do that?” Misty asked in disbelief.
“I am going to try.”
They uncovered Nado and Eusty and arranged them nicely and Nadege put runes under the tongues of both the deceased. “Well?” she asked Misty.
“I…I love you Nado,” he stammered, surprised at how little it took. “I will always love you. I love you Eusty and you will always be my son.”
He was holding Nado’s hand and he felt her squeeze his and he was a bit shocked and then he saw her tongue move and heard a faint mumbling. “She says she loves you too and is sorry she drank so much. She says she loves little Eusty too and asks him to forgive her.”
Nadege was on the other side of the bed and she felt a slight squeeze from the boy but there was no noise. “He is angry,” she said. “It may take time.”
Then Misty said, “Iry Dada told me that your brother, Prince Alamat requires blood even though I did no wrong and he told me how to do it.”
“She says Iry Dada knows. Follow his advice. Goodbye, my love.”
“Goodbye, my love,” Misty replied.
Then Princess Nado began mumbling some more and it became apparent she was talking with Nadege when she answered back, “No. No…Fine.”
Nadege then told Misty to come around to her side of the bed and hold Eusty’s hand. “Tell him goodbye again,” she told him.
Misty took up his son’s hand and said, “Goodbye son. I love you,” and he felt his son squeeze his hand lovingly. Then Nadege took the stick out from under the boy’s tongue and folded his hands over his chest.
“Did Nado tell you to do that?” Misty asked.
“She’s a good witch,” she replied. “I learned a lot working with her. Now help me with your son. There’s a cot in the dressing room.” Nadege took the boy’s feet and Misty picked him up under the arms and they moved his body to the cot in the dressing room and Nadege closed the door. “Princess Nado asked a favour of me before I exorcise Iry Dada. She wants to have sex with both of you one last time.”
“But she’s dead,” Misty said.
“Through me,” Nadege said quietly. “She wants to have one last liaison with you two using my body.”
“But is that possible?”
“She’s a very good witch,” Nadege confessed. “I have to add some Aran runes to the Aesir runes I carved,” and she nodded to the stick in Nado’s mouth. “While I’m doing that, could you do me a favour?” Misty nodded anything. “Could you go down to the scullery and have the girls there wash you up a bit? I think you had a bit too much to drink last night as well.”
When he left, Nadege sat cross-legged upon the bed beside Nado and she put Nado’s hand in her lap so that Nado’s fingers brushed against her inner thigh. She had no feelings at all for Misty, and certainly none for the spirit of Iry Dada, but she had grown to love the impetuous Princess Nado and she hummed as she carved the runes and every now and then she could feel Nado stroking her thigh with a finger or two. She would have held Nado’s hand, but she needed both hands for carving the runes. She was almost finished when Misty came back smelling much fresher and he could see Nado’s finger moving as she carved. When Nadege was done she put the stick back under Nado’s tongue and she held Nado’s hands in hers and Misty could see Nado squeezing her hands. Then she put Nado’s hands upon her chest and she began undressing there upon the bed. She waved Misty over to the edge of the bed and she began undressing him. When she got his pants off, he was already hard. “You Hraegunarsons are all so large,” she complained as she took his lingam into her small mouth.
“You fock my grandfather?” Misty asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Why?”
“You’re just a child. And he’s two hundred, at least!”
“I’m of marriageable age now,” she told him, “and when I reached that we got married the Aesir way. Before that we only had sex for professional reasons, for witchcraft spells and such,” she lied. “There,” she said, smiling up at him. “Now you’re a bit smaller.” She tied a glove on it and said, “Let’s try to keep it that way. I’m going to try to stay out of this as much as possible so that it’s just the three of you,” and she laid back and hiked her legs up for Misty.
He got atop her and he entered her and she was very tight at first and he stroked gently within her. Then she felt more like Nado and he felt the presence of Iry Dada as well. The three of them began enjoying their sex together and, the more that they enjoyed it, the harder it was for Nadege to stay out of it and soon she was with them stroking hard and coming and she could feel the love between the three of them and she knew then why Misty and Nado had always refused her offers to exorcise Iry Dada. All three of them loved each other so much that they could draw her in and share it with her and still have love left over. Nadege really got into it with them and they were soon all coming together in one last orgasm and Misty flowed hard within the ‘child’.
Then Misty rolled off of Nadege and laid back between her and Nado’s body and they were both breathing heavily and Nadege gasped, “Oh God, I’m so sorry! I tried to stay out of it, but you three just had so much love for each other!”
“I could feel that Nado wanted you there with us. She wants you and Hraerik to have what we had. I’m sorry I called you too young and I’m sorry I called him too old. I, too, hope you can find what we had. Iry is fine with the exorcism. He will find Nado on the other side now.”
In the afternoon, Prince Mstislav had a meeting with the Alan standard bearer that had come into the banquet hall with Prince Alamat. He had drank too much as well, but had been given a room to sleep it off in and hadn’t even known there was trouble until he was brought breakfast in his room the next morning. He had wanted to leave right away, but the boyars requested that he meet with their prince before going.
Prince Mstislav apologized to the man when they met again. He told him that the Italian port they had received via Constantinople had turned out to be double strength port and only those who didn’t like sparkling wines appeared to be the ones who got overly drunk the night before and Alans appeared to be a group who didn’t like sparkling wine. Then he told the man that Iry Dada had come to him in a dream and had warned him that Prince Alamat would require blood to satisfy his honour for what had gone on the night before. He also said that a war would be fought in which the only blood that Alamat got was from the right hand of Mstislav, so Misty took out a knife and he cut his right hand and Witch Nadege came up with a bottle and collected it as Misty squeezed his hand to get it flowing.
“Give this blood to Prince Alamat and tell him that his sister Nado shall always be my wife and that he shall always be my brother, both through marriage and through blood. I will be sending Princess Nado’s body back to the land of the Alans with you because she belongs with her people, but my son is Christian and shall be buried in our church here and he is welcome to come visit anytime.”
Witch Nadege passed the corked bottle of blood to the standard bearer.
“I’m supposed to take this back to my prince and tell him that Prince Iry Dada came to you in a dream and said that is all the blood he will be getting? He’ll have my head.”
“Prince Alamat is also a warlock and he knows through Nado that I have been possessed by Iry Dada since I killed him in combat and took his wife, Princess Nado. He’ll believe me when I say that Iry Dada came to me.”
“But I don’t believe you,” the standard bearer said.
Misty put his head down and concentrated. “Hector,” he said in Iry Dada’s voice. “Your name is Hector, but it hasn’t always been that. Remember when we were young and we used to call you ‘little shit’? Remember why? When we went into battle you would shit yourself just a little bit. You grew out of it and we started calling you Hector again.”
Hector had begun turning red as the story progressed and, at the end, said, “Any number of Alan warriors could have told you that story while I was passed out last night. Everyone called me ‘little shit’.
“Even your wife?” Iry Dada said. “One day she let it slip to me that during that period when you had sex with her and came in her that you would shit yourself just a little bit. She called you ‘little shit’ once and you slapped her and warned her you’d kill her if she ever told anybody. Don’t kill her for that one little slip, ‘little shit’, because I’m sure she never let it slip again.”
Hector turned beet red and put his head down. “One bottle of blood,” he said, “is all Prince Iry Dada requires.”
Prince Hraerik started laughing when Witch Nadege got to that part of her tale. She had finally made it to Baghdad and was again living in the forecastle cabin of his shieldship. Sex first, story second he had told her when her longship captain gave her over the ship’s rail. “I stopped in at Tmutorokan,” Nadege said, “and visited with Gretta while we sent messengers to the Alans to learn what Prince Alamat’s response to the vile of blood had been. I didn’t want you worrying about war breaking out in Hraes’ while we were here.”
“So, what was Prince Alamat’s answer?” Hraerik asked.
“He took the bottle of blood and accepted Prince Mstislav as his blood brother.”
“And what did Gretta say about it all?”
“Pretty much what Mstislav said: I’m too young and you’re too old. We shouldn’t be together.”
“But you changed her mind, right? Like you did with Misty?”
“Prince Mstislav only changed his mind after I focked him. I’m sorry I focked him,” she added. “It was strictly professional. I had to…for Witch Nado. I might even fock Gretta if I knew it would change her mind, but I did tell her one thing.”
“What was that?”
“I told her that I wanted to have with you what Misty had with Nado. They were so in love…” She looked down into the furs. “Do you think that could be possible?”
“You do realize that Gretta is a professional hit man. If she thinks for one second that you are taking her place…” and Hraerik traced a thin red line across his throat.
“I hope she realizes that I’m a professional witch and one spell from me and…” she started gagging as though poisoned.
“I’m too old for that kind of love,” Hraerik admitted. “I’ve loved women like that and I’ve lost them all.”
“I want a baby,” Nadege admitted. “With you!”
“You’re too young for that kind of love.”
“Because I’m so young, you just might not outlive me,” she replied, stubbornly.
“So, where would you want to live?”
“Back in Southampton?”
“Good choice. Queen Emma loves you. You’re her favourite little witch. If we did it without a glove right now, you could be giving birth before I have to leave with the fleet in the spring!”
“Don’t you want to try for a boy or a girl?”
“It doesn’t matter to me. Does it matter to you?”
“I just want a baby.”
“Well, let’s take this glove off and give it another go, shall we?”
Hraerik had always felt that the best sex was the ‘when you’re trying to make a baby kind of sex’. Perhaps that’s why he loved Ashaval and Mumba so much. Between him and his son, King Ivar, they probably had more children in India than Prince Valdamar had in Hraes’. Maybe not quite, he admitted.
When Prince Hraerik and Witch Nadege returned to Southampton, she was well into her pregnancy. The Prince counted the tallships in harbour as his fleet was docking and he realized that one was missing. Queen Emma was there on the main quay to greet her husband and she saw the condition of Nadege and she said, “We lost a ship in the Newfoundland. I always thought it would be the Atlantic that took our first tallship, but it was one of your ‘Great Lakes’, the one the Skraelings call ‘Gitchee Goomee’, that took her and all her crew. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead when the storms of November come early. Our sailors are saying the weather is changing; the storms came early.” She took Nadege by one hand and her husband by the other and she walked them up the quay into her city.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
A.D. 1033. This year died Bishop Merewhite in Somersetshire, who
is buried at Glastonbury; and Bishop Leofsy, whose body resteth
at Worcester, and to whose see Brihteh was promoted.
The Prince Hraerik’s New Chronicle of the Hraes’ for the year read:
(1033 AD) Eustathius, son of Mstislav, passed away.