Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert





Viking Ring Fortress Trading Post


(1020 AD)  In the early spring the tallships were all prepped and ready to go and Prince Hraerik kissed Queen Emma goodbye on the main quay of Southampton and two longships towed his tallship out of the harbour and out into the English Channel to join a dozen tallships, the rest of the fleet of that was going to make the western ocean crossing.  They sailed in a tacking pattern west past the coast of Frankia and then south until they found a strong westerly prevailing wind and the fleet made good daily progress, as much as two hundred miles a day, and Captain Hugh of Hraerik’s flagship told him that they wanted to stay as far north in the prevailing wind as possible without crossing into an easterly prevailing wind that typically ran at England’s latitude.  Going further south to Spain’s latitude would guarantee them a strong westerly wind but they would have to go further back up the coast of the Newfoundland to get to the mouth of the Great Newfoundland River and that would eat up any time they gained on the crossing.  “And the further south we cross at,” Captain Hugh added, “the longer the crossing becomes, the longest distance being at the equator.”

“When I made the first tallship crossing a few years ago,” the Prince told the Captain, “we had no idea what the prevailing winds were like.  We just knew it would take twice as long to get there with all the tacking we did and half as long to get back home with a direct wind.”

“Going home is always better,” the Captain agreed.

“How far south does the Newfoundland go?” Hraerik asked.

“Nobody knows for certain,” the captain said.  “We’ll have to explore that way someday when we’re not so busy setting up our trading posts!”

As they were going up the coast of the Newfoundland, Prince Hraerik began to recognize some of the bays.  He knew from experience that one of the bays had extreme tidal fluctuations where tides were so great as to rise and fall twenty-six fathoms.  The captain knew of the bay and pointed it out as they went by it.  “There are tides that big in the Brycgstow Sea near Bristol in England,” he told Hraerik, “and nowhere else that I know of.  The latitudes are about the same, too.”

“I know,” Hraerik said.  “That’s why we called this part of the Newfoundland, New England, and then we named the next coast New Scotland, because it had a Scottish shape to it, and then the island north of it, New Ireland, because it was an island about the size of Ireland and it seemed to be off the coast like Erie is off England.”

“I thought the Greenlanders named it thus,” the captain said.

“No.  They think they discovered the Newfoundland and they call it from north to south, Helluland, Markland and Vinland.  But we Danes discovered the Newfoundland over a hundred years earlier and Saint Brendan of Ireland found it over a hundred years before that!”

“How do you know all this?”

“I was here a hundred and fifty years ago when my son, Prince Helgi was the first to find it and King Frodi pursued him to it with a war fleet.”

“I’d heard you were old,” the captain started, “but when I saw you I thought the tales were all bullshit.  You look younger than I do and I’m only fifty!”  The captain shook his head in disbelief and as they were sailing north watching for the great river on their port side the captain kept looking back at Hraerik from time to time and then shook his head in disbelief again.  “There it is,” he said, as they came around a bend in the coast that took them west.  “It’s the beginning of the estuary of the great river.”

They spent the rest of the week sailing up the huge estuary and they would stop at Hraes’ trading posts that had been established along the southern coast.  “The river is so wide here that we’ll catch the posts on the northern coast on the way back,” the captain said.  All the Hraes’ trading posts were built in the ring fortress fashion of King Frodi’s fortress outside Liere, but not as large.  The design was based on the Roman Byzantine ring forts of the Scythian steppes, a built up earthwork ring with a log palisade along the top and four gates with a crossroad running through it.  “The natives are very territorial here,” the captain explained, “so we have to give them gifts to use their land and we need the forts because their neighbours will attack us when they attack them and they do it a lot in the fall.”

The Prince had a hand in the planning of them and all had river access and enclosed harbours if possible and they were about a day’s sail apart so that they could support each other.  Each trading post served a local tribe and the Hraes’ traders of that post learned the local language, but the languages were all related, similar to the situation in Europe where the Danish Angles spoke almost the same language of the English Angles and the Saxons spoke another related language and the Norse another related language.  And then the Normans spoke French, which only the Franks and the Gauls and the Romans understood.  And it was the same in the Newfoundland.  Suddenly the Hraes’ would come across a tribe that spoke a totally different tongue, but the Hraes’ were world-wide traders and they all picked up languages quickly.  It was part of the business, a very important part, so the Hraes’ princes had paid attention to language training over many generations.

The tallships worked their way up the Newfoundland River until it was narrow enough to work both banks of it and one tallship would berth at a trading post and unload to resupply it and the rest would keep moving upriver and another would anchor to resupply another post and the tallships leap-frogged their way upriver until they got to the first great lake.  It was long and wide, so the tallships resupplied the south shore only, planning to do the north shore on their way back.  Then the fleet of tallships entered a river at the western end of the lake and resupplied the trading posts on both riverbanks again until they heard a great roar of water and got up to the Nia and Gara Falls and they anchored in the great pool at the foot of the high waterfalls.

“It was along this river, a hundred and fifty years ago, that my son, Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson,” Prince Hraerik told the captain, “had scuttled his own ships and had hidden them underwater and had taken York boats, longboats he had purchased in Northumbria, and portaged them around the falls to escape the wrath of King Frodi of Denmark.”

The old portage route that King Frodi had built to try and chase after Arrow Odd had grown over, but Prince Hraerik had convinced the tribe that Arrow Odd had married into to clear the portage route so it could be used by the Hraes’ traders.  The local natives had spent the last few years clearing and conditioning the old portage route that King Frodi’s army had almost completed, clearing it of a hundred years of overgrowth, and it was now ready for use.

Each of the dozen tallships had been equipped with a small Viking longship strapped upside down their foredecks and the Prince had each captain unstrap them and lower them down by ropes by the ships’ cargo cranes.  Two tallships sat abreast of each other and the crane of one ship would lower the bow and the crane of the other ship would lower the stern of a longship into the water between them and then they would unload the other longship from the foredeck of the other tallship.  When all twelve of the longships were safely in the water, the local natives came out and greeted the Prince and began dragging the ships up onto the riverbanks and they used roller logs to haul the longships up the portage road they had reconditioned.  Other natives dragged the supplies behind the ships on travois sleds and soon the longships were floating in the Nia-Gara Falls River and being loaded with supplies and trade goods that they were going to take to the Valley of the Mound-Builders.  But there were no mound cities built yet in the Valley of the Mound Builders, just ceremonial mounds for religious worship and a lot of snake mounds.  “King Gorm ‘the Old’ would have felt at home there,” Hraerik told Hugh, “for the Snake King was a great explorer in his own day.”  The mound cities would come later, once the natives had seen how the Hraes’ built their ring fort trading posts.  The Byzantine ring forts were very effective in providing security for the Hraes’ traders and the continually warring tribes of the Newfoundland and Nia-Gara and Mississippi River Valleys began to emulate the earthen rings and log palisades, but they had more time and manpower and they filled in the centers of the rings with earth as well and would even go up a level or two for increased security and soon whole cities were built on these raised platforms or mounds and the Mississippi Valley truly became the Valley of the Moundbuilders.  But for now, there were no mound cities.  Only twelve longships sailing across three more great lakes to a small river that would join the mighty Mississippi and take them all the way south to the Great Mayan Sea.  Three trading posts were planned for now, the Miss, the Siss and the Sippi in the south where gold was to be found and the natives liked to trade with it.

Most of the trading over the summer was done in the south and most of the goods were exchanged for gold.  The Prince realised that the fine furs that were garnered in the north were not enough to get trade up to the levels the Hraes’ Trading Company was accustomed to, and with slavery out of the question due to Christian Norman distaste for it, gold and silver were the answer.  And there was plenty of it in the south, so much so that the Hraes’ only accepted gold in trade for goods, the bountiful silver not as likely to have the effect of the gold on the kings and princes of Europe.  But exactly where the gold was coming from was to be kept a secret known only to the Normans of Rouen and the Jutes of Southampton.  King Canute and Queen Emma had both agreed that secrecy was paramount for the new Newfoundland trade.  The old Newfoundland trade of the Greenlanders, the hay and the lumber and the hawks was to stay in the north.  The furs and the silver and gold were to be the trade goods of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley and it would be kept secret as long as possible.

That is where King Canute really had a problem with Jarl Thorkel ‘the Tall’ and his Jomsvikings.  They worked for many and varied European kings and princes and Canute had already learned, from a talking head, that the Jomsvikings talked too much to be able to keep the new trade route secret for long.  When he accused Thorkel of telling King Burizleif of Poland that Jarl Eirik had killed Olaf’ Tryggvason’s brother, he denied it, but said what of it?  What if one of his Jomsvikings had let it slip?  Jarl Eirik had killed Earl Ulfkytel at the Battle of Assandun and deprived him of vengeance for Ulfkytel’s slaying of Thorkel’s brother, Jarl Hemming.  “So word got out,” Jarl Thorkel said.  “What of it?”  It was the wrong answer at the wrong time for a king who was planning on keeping a gold and silver trade route secret.  Jarl Thorkel was banished from England and all Jomsvikings too!  They were sent to duties in Denmark and the Vik and Jomsborg, but their loose lips were to go nowhere near London or Southampton or Rouen.

Queen Emma was concerned about word getting out to continental Europe and the Mediterranean countries because advances in sailing ships on the Roman Sea were on par with her own imaginative advances and the Eastern Romans and the Italians had large fixed-frame ships that were capable of making the Atlantic crossing, though, at their latitudes the crossing was a much longer distance than at the English northern latitudes.  They were presently hemmed inside the Mediterranean by the Al Andulus fleet that operated out of Islamic Spain and controlled the Pillars of Hercules that led out to the Atlantean Ocean.  Still, the Basques of Northern Spain had access to their sailing technology and to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantean Ocean.  They controlled the rivers between Spain and Frankia and were quite capable of setting up a river portage that could compete with her own Seine-Rhone portage route that was now transporting goods between the northern and Mediterranean markets that was earning herself and Prince Hraerik rich profits and King Robert of Frankia rich tithes.

The Nor’Way was also a potential threat to the secrecy of the new trans-Atlantean sea route.  The increase of furs coming from the Newfoundland had been obfuscated by rumours of increased trade coming from the Greenlander’s increasing trade, but now King Olaf ‘the Stout’ of the Nor’Way controlled that trade through his capital in Lade, Jarl Eirik’s old holdings.  King Canute still controlled the Vik, but King Olaf controlled the Viking Jarldoms that stepped their way up the Nor’Way coast like a ladder made of fjords.  And he controlled the Faeroe Islands and Iceland and Greenland and the northern tip of New Ireland in the Newfoundland.  The Hraes’ Trading Company controlled the southern end of the Island and would not allow the Greenlanders any further south than that, but the Norse had found a northern bay west of Greenland that allowed them access to rivers flowing south into the Newfoundland and there had been fights between Hraes’ troops and Greenlanders who were discovered on the Mississippi River.

Prince Hraerik was leading nine longships down the Mississippi to establish two more trading posts, each to be equipped with three longships to support each other.  Preparatory exploration and work had been done by Hraes’ traders in York boats, but now, with the portage upgraded, longships plied the long river and trade and cargoes would grow exponentially.  Tallships would operate on the east side of the Falls and longships on the west.  One trading post was being built in the ringfort style at the southern end of the last Great Lake on land allowed them by the Michigan natives there and now nine longships were sailing south down the long river and they stopped at a place where another great river flowed into the Mississippi from the east and they set up another trading post and left three ships to begin work on another ringfort.  Now six longships sailed south down the long river until they got to the estuary and the Great Mayan Sea.  Three ships were left there to start on the third trading post and Prince Hraerik led the last three longships into the Mayan Sea and they sailed straight south for several days until they saw a peninsula of land that jutted north, out into the sea.  It was the land of the Mayans and the source of the gold.

No Europeans had ever been to the land of the Mayans, but the southern Newfoundland natives had been there trading tin and furs for copper and gold.  The Hraes’ had been allowed to build their southernmost post on land provided by the Red Stick natives of the delta and a few of them had accepted Hraes’ gold for their guidance to the Mayan territory.  And the Red Sticks helped the Prince set up a market on the outskirts of a Mayan city on the coast.  The Hraes’ beached their three longships to form a square with the sea behind them and they set up cooking fires within the square and they set out trade goods on furs outside of the square.  While the Newfoundland natives had the look of the people of Cathay, the Mayans had rounder heads and looked a bit Magyar or Pecheneg.  Hraerik wondered if the Newfoundland was the easternmost part of Asia, but he had already been there, in the land of the rising sun, looking east out into the vast Ocean there, the Ocean he had assumed to be the Atlantean that he’d often observed to the west of Ireland.  Yet here were the same types of people and it puzzled him.  He would have to dream on it, he told himself as he welcomed Mayans into their camp for trade.

The Hraes’ had set out hides that had iron frying pans upon them and hides with iron ship’s kettles and others with fine China plates and pewter eating utensils and spices and other goods, but there were no weapons.  The Hraes’ traders were all armed with steel swords but they were kept sheathed and were shown to no one.  Mayans were allowed withing the square of ships to observe how food was cooked upon frying pans and was boiled in kettles and they were allowed to sample how the various spices from Cathay and India changed the taste of meats and staples.  And the Red Stick guides translated the barter in gold required for each type of good, a pound of gold for a fry pan, or two pounds of gold for a kettle.  Hraerik remembered back years when he had first traded with the White Sea natives who hid while they marked out prices for their goods by placing a certain type of fur required for a purchase at the foot of the pile of goods.  Then they would leave and the natives would come and buy what they wanted and there would be a white sable for a sword or a beaver pelt for a knife.  But they’d learned there was a price to be paid in trading Permians fine steel swords for their silver and gold swords, an advantage they’d lost in their having superior weaponry and the mistake was not to be repeated in the Newfoundland.

The local Mayans loved the exotic goods the Hraes’ were offering them and soon Mayans began arriving from other cities, carrying gold and prices were going up as trade goods dwindled.  After three weeks everything had been sold and the Hraes’ didn’t even have pans or kettles in which to cook their own food.  They loaded their gold into the three longships and the crates of gold didn’t take up much space but they had to be carefully placed and ballast had to be tossed to keep the ships at acceptable waterlines.  The Red Stick guides told the Mayans that the Hraes’ would be back the next year, same time, same place, for more of the same trade.  And Prince Hraerik remembered his father, King Hraegunar Lothbrok, preaching to him about the Nor’Way trade route and how it had to be regularly maintained.

When they got back to the Mississippi delta, the ringfort was well into its construction.  Local Red Sticks had been hired to help with the earthen ring and the Hraes’ were already working on the palisade around the crest.  There were sixty men to each thirty oared longship, so one hundred and eighty traders were left to complete and inhabit the ringfort over winter and Hraerik led the three gold laden longships back up the Mississippi River to the ringfort that was almost completed at the river confluence.  The Hraes’ trader who was leading them had visited Jerusalem and Egypt and he’d named the trading post Cairo for some reason or another and the Normans in Hraerik’s group had already named the southernmost post Baton Rouge after the Red Sticks who had helped, so the three longships continued north up the long river to what they called Michigan Post.  Then it was back across the three great lakes to the Nia-Gara Falls portage where they loaded the gold equally into the tallships there and they headed back to the Newfoundland River.  While they’d been gone, the resting tallships had resupplied the ringfort trading posts on the north shores of the river, but Hraerik had them revisit them quickly so he could see their progresses.

It was along the Newfoundland River that Hraerik could see that the natives had been emulating the security offered by ringforts by building their own for their villages and cities, but the native ones were much bigger due to their great populations so the rings tended to be huge and their centers were filled in and they took the appearance of mounds with palisades around the perimeters and they dotted the river valley.  The Prince knew from this that the natives of the Mississippi Valley would emulate the design as well and he knew that their populations were even greater so the mound cities would be larger yet and it would come to be known to all as the Valley of the Mound Builders.

Prince Hraerik had tried dreaming about the Mayan natives and how they might be related to the Pechenegs of Asia but, as usual, he had very little control over his dreams and he dreamt, instead, of the bay the captain had told him about that rose and fell seventy feet or so and he told the captain he wanted to see it.  So they took a tallship and they sailed for the bay while the rest of the fleet serviced the trading posts on the south end of New Ireland, and they sailed up the long bay and they felt the heavy rise and fall of the tides and Hraerik could see from the watermarks that the extreme range was, indeed, fact.  “Why did you want to see this?” the captain asked.  We have this same extreme tide in Bristol and the Brycgstow Sea there.”

“I think the two of them are connected somehow,” the Prince replied.  “They are at similar latitudes and their long bay layouts are similar.  Anyway, I had a dream that, in the future, an Italian sea captain came to Bristol and he paid the Bristol pirates there to take him to Iceland, but the pirates were wanted in Iceland for stealing codfish, so they took him here instead and they took him to this bay for some reason and the Italian sea captain took note of the heavy rise and fall of the sea in Iceland, or what he thought was Iceland, and he must have known that it matched Bristol’s and then the pirates took him up the coast of New Ireland and they told him it was Greenland, for they were wanted there as well for kidnapping Greenland women.  While the Bristol pirates were in New Ireland they chased off Basque fishermen who were there in unarmed ships and they stole the codfish that the Basques had drying on the shores there.  And when the Italian sea captain was taken back to England he had a feeling he’d been duped, but he knew better than to accuse the Bristol pirates of wrong-doing so he went to Spain in disgust.”

“What means this dream?” the captain asked.  “Who was this Italian sea captain and why did he go to Spain of all places.  It’s Islamic!”

“I have no idea,” Hraerik said.  “Sometimes these prescient dreams just come to me out of the blue and then I find out, years later, what they meant.”

“You really are two hundred years old, aren’t you?”

“And I don’t feel a day over a hundred!” the Prince laughed.

They sailed their tallship back to New Ireland in time to rejoin their fleet for the crossing back to England and the Prince could see that the waters off of New Ireland were, indeed, teeming with codfish.  As the tallships were sailing away from the island they towed their four oared boats behind them and the codfish would jump out of the water and just land in the boats and the men aboard them would fillet the fish and then bring them to the ships for eating on the sail back to England.  The prevailing wind came from the west and in two weeks they were back in Southampton, a week late, but much wealthier.

Queen Emma was worried about Prince Hraerik the whole week the fleet was late.  It had never happened before.  The fleet had always been back early.  The prevailing winds were always better than anticipated and the fleet got back early.  When it wasn’t back early, Emma began to worry, and when it was late, she worried in earnest.  And there were others in Southampton who began to worry.  Jarl Eirik had come down from York and was resting with Witch Hallveig in the Viking fortress on Wight, King Sweyn’s old haunt.  And his grandson, King Canute, had come down from Winchester after the Prince was late a week, with Princess Aelfgifu, and her Northampton sister had given Emma support and was with her when the tallship sails were first spotted.  Aelfgifu Number Two hugged Aelfgifu Number One as they stood on the main quay of Southampton and watched the tallships come in.  “You scared me!” Emma said, as Hraerik joined her on the wharf.

King Canute was there and said, “You scared us all.”  They rode a royal carriage into Southampton and Emma’s palace there.  Sweyn had watched her build it, and now his son and his grandfather were there relaxing in it and drinking wine and having a light lunch.

“Jarl Eirik wants to meet with us in King Sweyn’s fortress,” Valdy began.  “He has Witch Hallveig with him and they want to have a séance there, but they’re waiting for you.”

“Why would they wait for me?” Hraerik asked.  So Valdy brought him up to date on events that had occurred while the Prince was in the Newfoundland.  He told him that Jarl Olaf Tryggvason was dead and that Jarl Eirik had his head and that Olaf’s head had said that Thorkel ‘the Tall’s Jomsvikings had told him that Eirik had killed his younger brother in York and that is why the Poles had attacked Prince Ivaraslav in Kiev.

“Why would Olaf’s head tell us anything?”

So Valdy told him that Jarl Eirik had beheaded Thurkil Nefia and Witch Hallveig had put a spell on his head and Olaf’s head wanted to talk to it.  And Jarl Haakon’s head wants to give Olaf’s head a piece of his mind, and King Sweyn’s head wants to watch.  “So, Jarl Eirik thought it best to have you here in case anything prescient was said.”

“It’s gonna be a regular Pow Wow,” Hraerik responded, whistling through his teeth.

“A what?” Canute said.

“The Newfoundland natives would call such a meeting a Pow Wow.”

“They’re into witchcraft?” Valdy asked.

“No.  It’s just a term for a meeting of head chiefs.”

“Pow Wow,” Valdy repeated.  “I like it!  A Pow Wow tete-a-tete!”

“A-tete-a-tete,” Prince Hraerik added.  “We know you ladies were born Christians,” he addressed the two Aelfgifus, “but would you care to join us?”

The two Aelfgifus looked at each other and said, “We’d love to,” in perfect synchronicity.

After another glass of wine and some Khazar Vayar, they took Queen Emma’s little longship, the one King Athelstan had lost to the Danish schoolboys after his Saint Brice’s Day Massacre disaster, and they sailed across the sound to the Isle of Wight and the Viking harbour.  Jarl Eirik and Witch Hallveig were on the quay to meet them.  Eirik had seen the tallships come in earlier and Witch Hallveig knew that they were coming two days out.  The royals all sat in King Sweyn’s highseat hall and they drank some more as Hallveig’s twelve chantreusses danced about the witch in her highchair and called the spirits into the hall.

King Olaf’s head had been transferred into a finely crafted hardwood box befitting the rank of a Jarl and former King and the box was arranged with the three other head boxes, with King Sweyn, Jarl Haakon, and Jarl Thurkil, in a circle facing each other on a circular high table set up in front of King Sweyn’s triple highseats and they had all been opened and their veils had been lifted so that all could see their countenances quite clearly and the state of preservation of the heads was quite remarkable, for the heads that had been taken decades ago looked as fresh as the one that had been taken months ago.  The circular table had a revolving top that seemed to rotate on its own as if seeking some elusive low point and it would stop for a time and then rotate a bit more.  The heads all seemed to be asleep with mouths closed and eyes shut.

Jarl Eirik and Witch Hallveig sat on the center highest seat while King Canute and the Danish Queen Aelfgifu shared the second highseat and Prince Hraerik and the English Queen Emma shared the third.  Witch Hallveig had to sit closest to the heads, for she controlled the spells they were under and only she would be able to understand what they might say.  Jarl Eirik sat with her and they were cutting rune-sticks together and, when one was done, Hallveig would put it under the tongue of one of the heads.  When she did this, the eyes would open suddenly and then close again.  And when this happened, the Christian women would clutch their husbands and gasp a little.  Slight breezes were flowing through the hall and it seemed as if spirits were slipping and streaming about and coming and going through windows and sometimes shutters would open and slam shut and the women would clutch at their husbands some more.  It had been decided to let Jarl Olaf talk with his brother, Jarl Thurkil, before Jarl Haakon and King Sweyn took a strip off him, so Witch Hallveig turned the two heads so that they faced each other in the circle a bit more directly and both their eyes opened and the rune-sticks under their tongues started to move and vibrate and a strange sound emanated from Olaf’s head first and Hallveig explained that Olaf was apologizing to his brother for getting him involved in his struggles and then Thurkil’s eyes opened and his stick began moving and Hallveig said he accepted his brother’s apology but would have had it no other way.  Hallveig turned the heads back into center and Jarl Haakon faced Olaf directly so, Haakon let him have it.  He opened his eyes and stared so intently that Olaf’s eyes opened in alarm and Haakon began cursing him in a long diatribe that needn’t have been understood to have been understood and when Haakon was done they both closed their eyes.  When it was King Sweyn’s turn to talk the table revolved so that Sweyn faced the highseats and he stared and blinked out to The Prince and to Jarl Eirik and then to his son, Valdamar, and last he laid his gaze upon Emma.  He had loved many women in his long life, but Queen Emma had been his last love.  Then Sweyn looked upon Olaf and he said something to the Jarl and Hallveig explained that he’d asked the Jarl to tell us a portent and then Sweyn’s eyes closed.

The tabletop then revolved so that Jarl Olaf’s head faced the highseat and his eyes opened and his rune-stick began vibrating and Olaf began speaking in tongues and Witch Hallveig translated the nonsense into Anglish Danish for all.  It was a warning and he started with something Prince Hraerik already knew when he said, “My Prince, the Christian Kings of Denmark shall destroy your family sagas,” and then he said, “but that, you already know.  But what you don’t know is that the Khan you have killed in the future to save Europe from conquest, shall be avenged by his sons, for Europe will never accept the Hraes’ as European, and the Hraes’ Danish lands in the east shall fall into Mongol hands, and your beloved Gardariki shall be destroyed.  Let it be known, too, that all your new works in the west shall be destroyed by God and not a trace of what you do there will be recorded.”  Then Jarl Olaf’s eyes closed and the spirits all seemed to leave the hall.

“What does he mean by this?” Canute asked his grandfather.

“There is a price to be paid for killing the Khan,” the Prince told them all.  “The Cathayans will pay it first and foremost, but, as I feared, the Hraes’ lands in the east shall not be spared.  The Latin Christian kings shall turn their backs on the east and Hraes’ shall fall to the Mongols, just as I have seen the Eastern Roman Empire fall to the Turks.”

“Is there anything we can do to stop it?”

“No,” Hraerik said, with the gravest finality.  “All other paths lead to worse consequences.  The sacrifices we shall make will be bearable, but barely so.  Europe will turn her back on us, but we shall save her nonetheless.”

“And the west?” Emma asked.

“I think Jarl Olaf seeks last laugh on that one,” Hraerik told his wife.  “We are excluding the Norse from the southern Newfoundland trade and he is bitter about it.  He thinks that only the sagas of the Greenlanders will survive in the western lands.  We shall prove him wrong!”

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

A.D. 1020.  This year came King Knute back to England; and there

was at Easter a great council at Cirencester, where Alderman

Ethelward was outlawed, and Edwy, king of the churls.  This year

went the king to Assingdon; with Earl Thurkyll, and Archbishop

Wulfstan, and other bishops, and also abbots, and many monks with

them; and he ordered to be built there a minster of stone and

lime, for the souls of the men who were there slain, and gave it

to his own priest, whose name was Stigand; and they consecrated

the minster at Assingdon.  And Ethelnoth the monk, who had been

dean at Christ’s church, was the same year on the ides of

November consecrated Bishop of Christ’s church by Archbishop


The Prince Hraerik’s New Chronicle of the Hraes’ for the year read:

(1020 AD)  A son was born to Ivaraslav, and he named him Valdamar.