Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

Sweyn Forkbeard by L Frolich 1883



12.      “Rocks we rolled                  out of etins’ realm:

                        The fields below                   with their falls did shake;

                        We hurled from the heights           the heavy quernstone,

                        The swift rolling slab,          so that men might seize it.

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(976) Once again, Prince Sweyn led the Norse merchant fleet across the Nor’Way, losing only one ship in the crossing this time.  More of the Norwegian merchants, including Haakon and Eirik, followed him through the Hawknista portage to the Kama River, as Sweyn had spent a lot of gold improving the station and the portage capabilities and capacity.  Sweyn even decided to share some of his uncle Oddi’s Permian connections with the Ladejarls and allowed them to trade steel weapons for silver and gold ones, and the Permian furs were the finest of sables, marten, and mink.  “It’s well worth the additional time,” Jarl Haakon declared in the main longhall of Hawknista.  “And we get to share some fine Permian women,” Eirik added, “while station staff portage our ships!”  Prince Sweyn had been studying the Hraes’ records and was emulating his father, King Ivar, by offsetting the increased costs of portaging with creature comforts that made the dangerous trade route more bearable.

At the same time, Prince Ivar of Kiev was mobilizing his legions for an attack upon the city of Chernigov in an attempt to save his mother from the sexual assaults of his brother, Prince Helgi.  Once the main Kievan merchant fleet had sailed south for Baghdad and Constantinople, he assembled his Kievan legions into their transport ships and prepared to depart for Chernigov.  Princess Serah pleaded with him not to attack, but Prince Ivar had heard of Prince Helgi’s moat around his city and considered it a challenge and used it as an excuse to engage in fratricidal warfare.  He sailed up the Dnieper River with his legions and instead of turning up the Desna River as might be expected, he sailed to the Hraes’ station on the east bank of the Dnieper and beached his ships there and left one legion to guard the ships and he took one legion east toward Chernigov.  Serah had sent riders north to Chernigov to warn Princess Svia of the coming attack and when one returned to Kiev with news that Prince Ivar had not gone up the Desna, but had sailed up the Dnieper instead, she got suspicious and went through the manifests of supplies Ivar had taken aboard his ships and found he had loaded up enough supplies for a major campaign hundreds of miles from Kiev.  She prepared a small Nor’Way ship and sent it up the Dnieper with a warning for Princess Malfrieda in Novgorod.

The reason Prince Ivar had left one legion to guard his ships is that he knew Prince Helgi only had one Drevjane legion and he wanted to draw Helgi out of his walled and moated city for a battle out in the open with fair numbers on each side.  But he also knew it would not be a fair fight because the Kievan legion he was leading east had fought in Wallachia and Bulgaria and even had veterans from India in it while Prince Helgi’s legion was the new Drevjane Ninth Legion with no battle experience at all.  He knew that the Drevjane Ninth could not stand up against the Kievan First so he sent out his veteran officers to mark out the field of battle with hazel poles and they pitched their tents and pavilions on the west side of the field and waited.

“Don’t go out there,” Princess Svia warned Prince Helgi.  “Prince Ivar’s legion flies the banners of the First Kievan and they defeated the Army of the Impalers in Wallachia!”

“And was this Army of the Impalers the same Impalers that cause my father, Svein ‘the Old’, to sleep inside you at night?” and Prince Helgi laughed.  “My Drevjane legions would have slaughtered the Impalers!”

Princess Svia had watched the Battle of the Impalers from the battlements of Ramnic and she knew this was not true.  If it were not for the machinations and plans of Prince Hraerik, the Army of the Impalers would have slaughtered all the legions that had invaded Wallachia, both Roman and Hraes’.  But she could not convince her prince to forgo battle in the morning so, she took him to bed in her master suite that night and she pleasured him with movements and positions that Sweyn had shown her out of the Kama Sutra and she made sure he slept well and was fresh and strong in the morning.  She sent him off to battle with his legion, sure she would never see him alive again.

When Prince Ivar saw the Drevjane legion approaching from the east, he formed up his Kievan legion with six thousand foot arranged in three rows with two thousand heavy horse on each flank and they waited between their hazel poles for the Drevjane legion to form up.  Both legions had archers and Valkyries behind their foot soldiers but they didn’t shoot one arrow or sling one stone, the princes preferring to settle this with sword and buckler instead, and the shield walls crashed and the bright blades rang out in the morning sunlight and the crystal dew on the grass turned red.  But the First Legion brought more than just swords.  They had morning stars on chains that they’d taken in Wallachia and they brought them down over the shields onto the helmets of the Drevjane foot and when the soldiers fell, knocked senseless, the Kievans dragged them out from under their shields and dragged them back to their Valkyries who bound them fast with withy ropes.

The heavy cavalry on the flanks battled it out but Prince Ivar had ordered his veteran officers to skirmish and minimize losses if possible.  He, himself, rode with a cohort of knights behind his foot amongst the herd of spare horses and supplies.  He planned to collapse the center and ride through it to kill Prince Helgi, who was riding with his own cohort of knights behind the shield walls.  The fighting methods of the Impalers slowly wore away at the front files of the Drevjane legion and soon the center was thinned to one row and Prince Ivar’s veteran cohort of knights charged through and attacked Prince Helgi’s cohort with such violence that they soon broke and ran for it just as the foot formation collapsed and surrendered.  Prince Helgi and his knights broke and rode for Chernigov as cavalry signallers sounded the retreat on their horns.  Prince Ivar and his cohort rode after them but the two Drevjane flank formations of heavy cavalry were retreating towards the bridge over the moat of the city’s main gates and he didn’t want to get trapped by them so, he had to wait for his own heavy cavalry to catch up with him.

Prince Helgi and his cohort were the first across the bridge into the city but the flank regiments were soon on the bridge and the congestion was causing many of the knights to fall into the moat and the heavy armour was dragging both horse and man to the bottom to drown.  Soon dead horses were floating in the water but no men came up because their armour was on tighter.  And right on the asses of the Drevjane knights rode the knights of the Kievan First but the veterans took their time and lost no men as they entered the city and the battle carried on in the streets.  Princess Svia watched from the second floor of the palace as Prince Helgi and his cohort of knights held the square in front of it but they were soon overwhelmed by Prince Ivar’s veterans and they dragged Helgi from his horse and took him away.

An hour later Prince Ivar entered the Hraes’ palace and rescued Princess Svia from the Drevjane and their prince.  When Svia asked Ivar where Helgi was, he said he didn’t know, hadn’t seen him.  He had his men search everywhere for the prince and when they couldn’t find him, one of his knights suggested that Prince Helgi may have been amongst the knights who had fallen into the moat on the retreat into the city.  When Princess Svia started crying at this news, Prince Ivar stripped off his armour and held her against his chest.  “I will never let this happen to you again,” he promised her.

The Drevjane legionnaires that had surrendered were all bound to slave poles by withy rings as slaves would have been and they sat out in the square while the victorious Kievan legionnaires feasted in the great hall of the palace.  Both Scandinavian and Drevjane women of Chernigov were being raped by the Kievan soldiery as they celebrated their great victory and Princess Svia and her handmaidens and ladies in waiting huddled in her master suite in fear of like assault but Ivar’s officers guarded their doors.  They ate in shifts in Svia’s dressing room and drank the fine wine and ate the Khazar Vayar that the princess had kept stocked in her closets.  And the women slept in shifts on her bed and guarded the doors from the inside.

The next morning a sense of calm had returned to the city as Prince Ivar had ordered a halt to the pillaging because Chernigov was, after all, a Hraes’ city.  He then ordered his men to start dragging the moat for bodies and they spent the afternoon pulling armoured horses and knights out of the water.  They found the body of Prince Helgi under several other knights that had fallen off the bridge in the rush to retreat into the city.  Prince Ivar disbanded the newly formed Drevjane Ninth Legion and allowed volunteer Drevjane legionnaires to join the Kievan First as replacements for the fallen.

Another, more organized, victory feast was held that evening and Ivar invited his mother and her ladies in waiting to attend as civility had returned.  During the feast he told his mother that her entire entourage would be escorted to Kiev for their own safety while his legions secured all the cities of the Drevjane.  And once more he celebrated his great victory over his brother, Prince Helgi, the rapist.  The next morning a Hraes’ warship took Princess Svia and her party down the Desna River to Kiev while Prince Ivar took most of his First Kievan Legion back west to the Dnieper River and they sailed north for Novgorod.

The messenger ship that Princess Serah had sent to Novgorod passed on the warning that Prince Ivar was attacking Prince Helgi and that he would likely be attacking Prince Valdamar soon after.  Serah’s message told Princess Malfrieda to take her young prince north to Lade in Norway and await Prince Sweyn’s return from Baghdad.  So that is what Princess Malfrieda did.  She ordered the Novgorod Tenth Legion to provision themselves and board their three hundred transport ships and she packed up her chests of gold and she fled with Prince Valdamar to Norway.  A legion on the move would not go unnoticed, but it did provide its own source of security.  The pirates of the Baltic fled at their approach and as they passed through ‘The Sound’ between Zealand and Skane, the Danes were in a panic, thinking they were under attack from the east, but the fleet continued on up the coast of Norway to Trondheim Fjord and the three hundred war transports jammed up much of it.

Princess Malfrieda introduced herself to Princess Aud and told her that she sought sanctuary for herself and the son of Prince Sweyn Forkbeard.  Aud had been ready to surrender the whole fjord to the legion so, she was quite happy to grant sanctuary until Jarl Haakon and Prince Sweyn returned from Baghdad.  Lady Alfled came over from Prince Sweyn’s longhall and introduced herself as the newest wife of Prince Sweyn and Malfrieda introduced herself as the oldest wife of the prince.  “There are a few in between us,” she added.  “I would expect no less,” Alfled said.

Prince Sweyn was in the Caliph’s palace in Baghdad, focking Saffron and Anise when a messenger arrived from Princess Serah in Kiev with the news of what had been transpiring in Hraes’.  “What is it?” Saffron asked, as Sweyn returned to the bedroom from the great room of the Hraes’ suite.  Anise sat up on the bed, naked, and watched Sweyn too.  “My son in Kiev,” Prince Sweyn started, “has just killed my son in Chernigov in battle.”

“Isn’t that fratricide?” Anise asked.

“I’m afraid it is,” Sweyn said, collapsing on the bed between them.  The girls tried to console Sweyn but he was so distraught he just wanted to sleep so, half the night he slept in Saffron and the other half he slept in Anise.  In the early morning he sent them off home in a carriage and he started to make arrangements to send a messenger to India and Prince Hraerik there.  There was nothing to be done until the trading season was over, but Sweyn wanted his grandfather to know as soon as possible.

In Mumba, Prince Hraerik was having some afternoon sex with Myia when he received Sweyn’s message.  “What is it?” Myia had asked.  “There’s been a death in the family,” Hraerik told her.  “One of my great grandsons.”  She asked, “Was he young?”  And he told her, “Far too young,” and he held her naked body against his for a very long time, almost as though she could bring him back somehow.  Prince Hraerik sent Sweyn a fleet of ships full of Indian slaves for sale in Baghdad as a remorse gift and he sent his personal condolences along with it.

After he had sent off the gift of slaves he asked Myia if she thought that his theory of a four dimensional universe, with time being the fourth dimension, was possible.  “Would the young life of Prince Helgi be forever saved and exist in its own span of time in that fourth dimension or does time just pass and what had existed a moment before just evaporates and is replaced by what exists now, soon to be replaced by what is to exist in the future?”

Myia was a cosmologist in the alchemists’ guild, but she could not answer Hraerik’s question.  “It may fit in with your theory of an infinity of one,” she answered carefully.  “In a universe of infinite possibilities fraught with infinite difficulties coming from infinite directions, a possible path of one could result and, therefore, one universe could be the potential outcome with a single past relative to its own time possible and even perpetual.  But a past that exists forever in its own space and time doesn’t mean that the future is preordained by a possible path of one as, any variations in the mix of infinite possibilities and infinite difficulties can provide a significant range of outcomes that would be possible for that single path to take.  For some entity to be able to observe or visit that existing path may be possible but may be infinitely difficult, making it virtually impossible.”

“But if I have already communicated with entities from the past and the future, perhaps it is difficult, but not infinitely so?”

“Perhaps,” Myia said.  “Perhaps we can devise a test.  What is it you wish to accomplish?”

“I have to kill a man in the distant future,” Hraerik answered.  “Even with the alchemists’ drugs we’re taking, I won’t live long enough to be there in his time.”

“He must be a very bad man,” Myia said.

“He will be a very bad man,” Hraerik answered.

Prince Sweyn was anxiously waiting in Baghdad for the return of the Prince from India.  Hraerik arrived with his usual purchases of Indian Untouchables for resale in Baghdad and Constantinople at tremendous profits.  “How did the Untouchables I sent you sell?” Hraerik asked Sweyn as they discussed business before addressing the more important issue of fratricide.  “Two chests of gold!” Sweyn said.  “It’s too much!  I want to give you half.”  Hraerik looked to his feet and said, “It’s a remorse gift.  The least I could do.  What is the latest news from Kiev?”

“Prince Ivar claims that Prince Helgi was secretly raping Princess Svia and that he attacked Chernigov to save his mother.”

“Any truth to that?” Hraerik asked.  “I heard that Ivar made a move against Novgorod as well.  How is young Valdamar?”

“Princess Malfrieda took Valdamar to Lade.  Jarl Haakon has already taken the Nor’Way fleet back up the Volga.  He is worried Prince Ivar may attack his Fjord.  Princess Svia sent me a message that Prince Helgi overheard some of our discussions in Chernigov that she wasn’t Helgi’s real mother and that Helgi had wanted to marry her.  Apparently he did force himself upon Svia but only with the intention of forcing her to marry him.  Ivar had spies and got wind of what was going on and he demanded the return of his mother to Kiev.  Helgi refused, saying Svia wasn’t their real mother and that Malfrieda was.  That wasn’t something Prince Ivar wanted to hear.”

“Was it fratricide?  Did he take his legions to Novgorod to kill Valdamar as well?”

“Prince Ivar claims that Helgi died falling into his own moat as his cavalry was retreating back into Chernigov.  Many knights died that way during the rout.  Princess Svia said she wanted to talk to me about that.”

“And what does Princess Serah say about all this?  How is she?”

“She’s fine, but she sent me a message saying that Prince Ivar took enough supplies to Chernigov to continue his fight to Novgorod if required, which she found suspicious.  She sent a warning to Malfrieda just in case.  She had enough of a warning to take the whole Novgorod legion to Lade with her.”

“That’s costing us a fortune!” Prince Hraerik said.

“Princess Serah said the same thing!” Sweyn replied, laughing.  “I can see why you love her.”

“Sometimes we find our treasures in the most unexpected of places.”

“What should we do?” Sweyn asked his grandfather.

“I’ll go with you to Kiev for the season close-out with Princess Serah.  We won’t release the merchant fleet until we have control over the Kievan legions.  I don’t want to bring my legions up from Tmutorokan.  That could provoke our young prince.”

When the princes arrived in Kiev, they were greeted by Princess Serah who told them that Prince Ivar was with the Kievan legions in Vruchiy, putting down a revolt of the Drevjane, and that he had taken his mother, Princess Svia, with him.  They sent messengers to Vruchiy, recalling the prince, but they got no response from the fortified city which was under lockdown.  Princes Hraerik and Sweyn had a meeting with officers of the Kievan legions that were still in Kiev and let them know in no uncertain terms that the legions were not to get involved in this personal squabble between Varangian princes.  And since it was Prince Hraerik who had financed and helped develop the first legions and Prince Sweyn who had designed and developed the new Hraes’ legions, their wishes were taken quite seriously.  Once the closeout was completed, it became difficult to keep the merchant fleet in Kiev as all the merchants wanted to return to their homes so, Sweyn joined the tail end of the merchant fleet and sailed for Norway and Prince Hraerik took Princess Serah with him to Gardariki and prepared his legions in case they were needed.

When Prince Sweyn arrived in Lade all he saw were Hraes’ legionary transport warships everywhere.  They were up one fjord and down another and drawn up on beaches on shorelines all over.  And there were big heavy horses grazing everywhere that grass grew and Sweyn knew that Haakon would not be pleased.  He thought it best to return to his own longhall first but there was no place to beach his thirty Nor’Way ships so, he sent most of them off to Gudrun’s farm to beach and tied his own shieldship to the quay in front of his stead beside other warships docked there.  Alfled greeted him on the front porch and Malfrieda and Prince Valdamar joined them and they entered the hall together.  He sat at his highseat with a few of his officers and he told them the latest news from Kiev.

Prince Sweyn then took his wives and young Prince Valdamar next door to Jarl Haakon’s great highseat hall and they sat with Haakon at the second and third highseats and waited for Haakon to address them.  “What did I tell you about Prince Sweyn Forkbeard?” he asked Jarl Eirik who shared the first highseat with Haakon.  “You’ve always said,” Eirik started, “that young Sweyn claims to be a trader prince but has all the actions of a warrior king!  King ‘Gold Harald’!”

“And suddenly out of nowhere, this ‘King Gold Harald’ has enough Roman legions to conquer half of Angleland.  I haven’t seen so many troops since King Ivar ‘Harde Knute’ Hraerikson went back to Hraes’ to rule there.  You wouldn’t happen to be related to King Ivar, would you, Prince Sweyn Forkbeard?”

“I have been known as Prince Svein ‘the Old’ of Kiev,” Sweyn admitted.

“Well, that would be a complete surprise,” Haakon stated, “since we had heard rumours that Prince Sveinald Ivarson was killed by Pecheneg warriors five years ago and they made a drinking cup out of his skull!”

“Those rumours may have been exaggerated.  Making drinking cups out of skulls is a Bulgarian thing that Pechenegs really have very little use for.  They are nomads and drink out of wineskins.”

“So, you are the son of Ivar ‘the Boneless’?” Haakon asked, getting up.

“Yes,” Sweyn said, rising as well, and Haakon gave him a great hug.  “I’d like to keep that a secret if possible.”

“Why would you want to keep such a wonderful thing secret?” Jarl Haakon asked, and Sweyn told them about his rightful claim upon the Danish throne and his plan to eventually take the Danish throne so he could pursue his claim to the Imperial throne of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Sweyn sent out fleets with chests of gold to buy supplies and fodder for their legion’s overwintering in Trondheim Fjord and he bought pastureland for thousands of horses south and east of his farm there.  He planned to put his Nor’Way fleet under control of Jarls Haakon and Eirik in the spring and he planned on leaving early for Novgorod with the legion to reinstall Prince Valdamar as prince of the Ilmen Slavs.

Prince Ivar returned to Kiev with his mother, Princess Svia, soon after Princes Sweyn and Hraerik had left.  Princess Svia moved into the palace master suite that Princess Serah had just vacated.  The Khazar princess had taken everything she owned to Tmutorokan and Prince Hraerik had packed up all Hraes’ accounts and books as well as the Hraes’ gold, leaving Prince Ivar only his share of gold from the trading season.  Princess Svia had confirmed with Ivar what Helgi had told him, that she was not their natural mother and that Princess Malfrieda was.  “She’s not a princess!” Prince Ivar had snapped.  “She was my grandmother’s slave.”

Knowing that Princess Svia was not his real mother began to affect the way that Prince Ivar was starting to see her.  She was a Roman princess, a woman desired by Emperors, and Ivar began to notice why.  Her hair was flowing, her face was beautiful and her body was pristine and he started becoming desirous of her as well.  One night he left his master suite and he crept down the hallway and he tried to enter Svia’s suite, but her door was locked.  He had always known as a boy where Princess Serah kept hidden her spare key so, he retreated up the hallway and went into a broom closet and took the key off a nail behind a shelf and he crept down the hall once more and he put the key into the lock and popped the door open and crept into the great room of the suite and he tried the bedroom door but it was locked as well so, he tried the key once again and they were both keyed alike so he opened the bedroom door a crack and peered into the room.  Princess Svia had several candles burning on her dresser and he watched the rise and fall of her pristine breasts as she slept on her back.

She would struggle, he told himself, something he would have to rein in on right away and get under control.  He knew that Helgi had probably not done that, that he had probably pleaded for sex and had likely taken days to get into her panties.  She was a Roman princess, not likely used to being taken by force, like the young Kievan girls he had frequented.  But it would be best to get things under control as quickly as possible.  If Svia would not be his mother, then she would be his wife, and he crept next to her bed and stripped his clothes off.

When Svia turned over on her right side her eyes opened a crack and she saw the monster standing at the side of her bed.  She froze and stared at it for a moment and it was the biggest member she had seen in her life.  She looked up the belly and the chest to the face that it belonged to and it was Ivar and she began to scream but a hand quickly covered her mouth and when she tried to bite it, she bit into a sock which was soon stuffed into her mouth and the sheets were thrown over her arms and Ivar was on top of her, forcing her legs apart with his and he drove the monster into her and it was dry and tore at her flesh as it entered her.  She instinctively lifted up her legs and spread them apart as widely as she could, trying to open herself up as wide as she could to ease the pain of entry, but when it went in and got wet, the back half was dry and tore at her flesh as he withdrew and fluid flowed out with it and she was sure it was blood.  She was a deer woman and he was an elephant.  She wrapped her legs around him to try and shorten his strokes, but that only made him thrust deeper and he had more steed than she had mare and it felt as though he was entering her womb and she felt something inside her give way and open as he pounded inside her with violence and, as her legs grew weak, she could no longer control his thrusts and she grimaced in pain as he fully stroked his huge member inside her.  She had to stop him but he was too strong and in a wild frenzy so, she began moaning orgasmically and pretended she was in ecstasy and he soon exploded within her and collapsed on top of her.

She spit the sock out of her mouth and said, “Get the fock off of me!” and Ivar rose up and punched her straight in the forehead and she blacked out.  When Svia woke up in the morning, she was naked and tied to a chair next to her bed.  She was struggling to free herself when Ivar walked into the room.  “Don’t ever tell me what to do!  And don’t ever tell me to get the fock off of you!”  He had a basin of water with a cloth half in it and he set it on the bed.  “You are my wife now,” he said.  “I have planted my seed within you and you will soon grow for me.”  And he wet the cloth and he washed her face clean and he washed down her neck to her breasts and he washed them for some time before moving down to her belly.  “This is going to hurt,” he whispered as he began washing her vagina.  “There was some bleeding,” he said.  “Most girls can’t handle the ‘Pink Monster’.  You did okay.”

“Don’t put that thing inside me again,” she pleaded.  “You’re tearing me inside.  You’re ruining me!”

“You’ll be fine in a day or two,” he said.  He washed her some more, then poked and prodded her and inspected her vagina for blood.  “Until then, we’ll have to improvise.  I brought oil this time.”

“Don’t put that thing inside me,” Svia pleaded.  “The nuns in Constantinople fixed me.  They operated on me and now I can’t have children!  Find yourself a nice elephant woman who can give you a dozen kids and leave me be,” she pleaded some more.

So, you’ve read my grandfather’s Kama Sutra,” Ivar said.  “Have you read up on nominal congress?” and he opened his pants and slid the Pink Monster into her mouth.  It was even big limp and she felt like biting it but her forehead still ached and she knew it was bruised, so, she began sucking on the monster until it fully filled her mouth and her jaw locked open.  Ivar pulled it out of her mouth and she could barely get her jaws to close.  He untied her from her chair, threw her facedown on the edge of the bed, poured oil on her ass and slowly worked the Pink Monster up her anus.  She grunted from the pain in her ass and even her vagina hurt as the thing slid up inside her.  He began ramming her from behind and she soon grew quite numb between her cheeks and he finally came inside her.

When Svia got up from the bed, she found she could hardly walk and she sat back down on the chair.  “Get dressed!” Ivar ordered.  “We’re having a feast in the hall.  I want to announce our marriage to everyone.”

“I’m already married to your father,” Svia said.

“He’s had years to pry a baby out of you.  It’s my turn.”

Svia could barely walk out into the hall and she took very short steps that some of Ivar’s men recognized.  They called it the walk of the Pink Monster and they laughed amongst themselves.  Ivar and his officers had gang-raped many of the young women of Kiev and he’d told them that the Pink Monster came from the Lothbrok side of the family, where many of their ancestors were Hrafnista men and were half-giants and, while most of them were just plain big, once in a while that giant blood came forth and garnered a monster.

By the start of winter Svia knew she was pregnant.  The impossible had happened and she felt it was when something had given way inside her when Ivar had raped her.  As her belly grew she was thankful some good had come of her terrible experiences.  She had always wanted a baby, but the nuns had done something to her when she was a girl so she wouldn’t get pregnant when the priests and the bishops came and raped her at the convent on the Island of the Princesses.  She even found ways to handle the Pink Monster and she used her hands whenever Ivar would allow her and she found that rendered pork fat actually lubricated better than Ivar’s scented oils so, she often used that on herself and she never told him.

(977) In the spring, Prince Sweyn returned to Novgorod early with Prince Valdamar, Princess Malfrieda and the Tenth Novgorod Legion and he reinstalled Valdamar as the prince of the Ilmen Slavs of Staraja Ladoga, Novgorod and Staraja Russa.  He then took some troops south with him.  Polotsk, Surazh and Smolensk remained separate Hraes’ Trading Company cities run by their respective Hraes’ named princes and their families that controlled and managed the Hraes’ trade and owned shares in the company.  He visited each of the families and he got the support of Hraegunvaldr in Polotsk and Ingjaldhrae in Surazh and Hraedolfr in Smolensk.  In Chernigov, he found that the Swedish princely family, his mother Helga’s family was back in charge of the city and he received their support as well.

When he arrived in Kiev, he was welcomed into the city by Ivar as if nothing had happened.  “It was all a mistake,” Ivar claimed, as he shared a feast with his father.  “I thought Helgi was raping my mother so, we clashed and somehow Helgi drowned when he was retreating back into his city.  Then Princess Svia told me that she wasn’t actually our mother so, Prince Helgi couldn’t have raped her anyway, as she was a subject in his city and he had full rights to her if she wasn’t related.  So, it was all a mistake.”

Sweyn could see that Princess Svia was with child as she sat beside Prince Ivar on his highseat.  “So is Princess Svia’s condition a product of Helgi’s having his way with subjects in his city?”

“Well, I’m sorry, but that is my mistake as well.  When Princess Svia told me she was not my mother, I was no longer sure that she was your wife, and, being subject in my city, I may have taken some liberties I should not have.  But, when I found she was pregnant, I immediately married her, relieving you of any obligations of support for the child.”

Sweyn was pissed.  Helgi had helped himself to his wife and now Ivar admitted to doing the same and she was now pregnant, something Sweyn didn’t even think was possible.  “I’d like to talk with my wife alone after the feast,” Sweyn said, trying to control his temper.

“Yes, of course,” Ivar said.

“Did Ivar rape you?” Sweyn asked Svia when they were alone.

“No more than Helgi did,” Svia answered.  “I am pregnant now with Ivar’s baby and I would like you to give Ivar a chance to address his mistakes.”

“Was Helgi’s death fratricide?” Sweyn asked, trying to be less personal with his questions.  “Did Helgi just fall into the moat when he was retreating into the castle?”

“I don’t think so,” Svia answered.  “I saw him ride into the square before the Hraes’ palace and the battle continued there until Ivar’s knights dragged Helgi from his horse and took him out of the square.  I never saw him alive after that.  The next day, Ivar’s men dragged Helgi’s body out of the moat.”

“Did Ivar take his legions north to Novgorod to attack Valdamar the same way he’d attacked Helgi?”

“Ivar sent me back to Kiev in a warship and carried on north with his legions.  He told me later that when he arrived in Novgorod, Valdamar and Malfrieda had already left with their legion.  He told me that he had just wanted to reassure Valdamar that his confrontation with Helgi had just been a misunderstanding.”

“Would you like to come with me to Tmutorokan or Baghdad?”

“I’m pregnant,” Svia reminded Sweyn, “and I don’t think Ivar would let me go without a fight because it is his baby I carry and there has been too much death already.”

Prince Sweyn left Kiev with the Dan’Way merchant fleet and he led them to Gardariki to pay their tithes and get their permits and the fleets broke up into smaller fleets going to Constantinople, Baghdad and Khwarizm.  In Baghdad, Sweyn would have sex with Saleem and Anika in the Caliph’s palace Hraes’ annex and when they were off on business, he would send a carriage for their daughters, Saffron and Anise, and have sex with them as well.  When Prince Hraerik returned from India, they went back north and processed the fleets in Gardariki and Sweyn led the northern fleet through Kiev and he arrived just in time to witness the birth of his grandson, whom Ivar named after his grandfather, Ivar ‘the Boneless’, against everyone’s advice.

Scandinavian naming was patronymic so, Ivar should have named his son Svein or some other name completely, but Ivar could be considered a naming after Ivar, the father, himself, which was seen as bad luck.  Even the Poljane Slavs of Kiev believed this so, they called the boy Ivaroslav, instead of Ivaropolk, which is what they had named his father.

Sweyn visited with Princess Svia and Ivar and he saw right away the love in her eyes for Ivar and it took him back to the Battle of the Impalers and Ramnic when he had rescued Svia from Count Vlad and had carried her off to his pavilion and made love to her and she had looked into his eyes with such love.  Now she looked into Ivar’s eyes with this love and Ivar was quite big, at least nine pounds and eighteen inches in length and she put Ivar up to her breast and said, “Isn’t he beautiful!” as the baby suckled.

“I am going back to Lade,” he told her.  “I’ll be back in the spring to see how you two beautiful beings are doing,” and he left her with her baby.  He was still amazed that she had become pregnant.  He had always felt that the Roman nuns had done something to her and he didn’t think it was possible, but there the baby was, a gift from the gods.

When Prince Sweyn arrived in Novgorod he was welcomed by Princess Malfrieda and young Prince Valdamar.  Sweyn could see that his security procedures were being followed.  The Novgorod legion was at the ready on his approach and he had seen that fire signals had followed him up the Lovat river to Staraja Russa and then along the shores of Lake Ilmen to Novgorod.  Sentries and signallers had been installed on the Volkov and Msta Rivers as well.  The deep woods around Novgorod were virtually impassable to armies of any size and the Ilmen Slavs who lived in the woods had been instructed to carve up any legions attempting to cross.

“I want to have another baby,” Malfrieda whispered, as she was tying off Sweyn’s glove.  “You should have told me that when we were in Lade,” Sweyn said as he entered her.  She was atop his steed, beginning her ride.  “Then I’d have had you and Valdamar stay there while you were pregnant.  It’s too dangerous here.”

“I’m not afraid,” she said.

“You have to be ready to move, to keep Valdamar safe,” Sweyn said.  “If anything happened to you two because I misjudged Ivar, I would never forgive myself.”

“When you are king of Denmark, and I am queen, then?”

“Yes, then we’ll try again.”

“Try?  You can just sneeze my way and I get pregnant,” she said, proudly.  “It is a power you hold over me.”

“I thought so too,” Sweyn said, “but I couldn’t get Svia pregnant and Ivar knocked her up pretty quick.”

“Ivar’s got a monster in his pants!” Malfrieda said.  “I think the nuns had Svia fixed, but Ivar’s Pink Monster broke it.”

“I didn’t know he had a monster,” Sweyn said.  “We’re all big,” he claimed, “both on the King Frodi and King Lothbrok sides.”

“Yes, but Ivar was disproportionately large, even as a baby.”

“Yes, but we thought he’d grow out of it.”

“Helgi did, a bit, but both Ivar and Valdamar didn’t.”

“Valdamar has a monster too?” Sweyn asked.  “How come I don’t know any of this?”

“Because you weren’t the one,” Malfrieda said, stopping her ride, “that got stuck with the job of pulling back their foreskins to clean their penis tips so they didn’t get infected.”

“Don’t we have slaves to do stuff like that?”

“I’m not going to let some little slavegirl clean my sons penises!” Malfrieda said, poking Sweyn’s chest and starting back on her ride.  She loved riding Sweyn and she put her hands upon his chest and massaged the nipple she had just poked while she bounced upon her saddle horn.  Sweyn put his hands upon her chest and massaged her breasts until her nipples were very erect and she began moaning gently and when she came, he was not long after her.  “I love you, Sweyn,” she said, collapsing on his chest.  “Can I sleep inside you?” he asked.  “Not unless you want to get me pregnant again,” she said.  “I’ll take my chances,” Sweyn answered so, Malfrieda slide off him and untied his glove then licked his steed clean and slid back on him.  As they were falling asleep she said, “I thought you didn’t have to do this anymore, since becoming a Varangian,” and he answered, “I don’t, I just love sleeping inside you, Malf,” and he drifted off.

When Prince Sweyn got back to Lade, Jarl Haakon was waiting for him in his great hall.  Alfled told him to ride across and see him right away.  A horse had been kept at the ready so, Sweyn jumped up on it and rode across the field to Haakon’s hall and there was a great welcoming feast going on for him.  “You’re a day late,” Jarl Haakon said.  “We had to start without you!”  Haakon invited Sweyn to share his highseat.

“Gudrun’s pregnant again,” Sweyn said.  “She’s going to pop soon so, I took her aboard my ship and we spent the night just off Borsa.”

“How’d that happen?” Haakon asked.

“I had to beach part of my fleet at her father’s farm over last winter and we spent a few nights testing out my new forecastle design there.”

“I take it your new forecastle passed testing?” Haakon laughed.

“When you get a design right, it pays in all kinds of unexpected dividends.”  And they both laughed.

“She’s a sweet young thing,” Haakon said.  “Just like her sisters.”

“I talked with my grandfather,” Sweyn continued, ”and we both agreed that you and Eirik should be named as shareholders in the Hraes’ Nor’Way business group, should you wish to accept.”

“Haakon Hrae,” Haakon said.  “It has a nice ring to it.  Of course I’ll accept it!”  Eirik was sitting with someone on the second highseat and he turned to Haakon and said, “You’ve been named?”

“So have you!” Haakon said.  “Eirik Hrae!”

“Or you could go by Hraerik, like my grandfather,” Sweyn said.

“Is that Hraerik Bragi?” the man beside Eirik asked.  “Is your grandfather Bragi the Old?”

“Yes, he is,” Sweyn said, looking at the man Eirik was sharing his seat with.  Then Eirik said, “Prince Sweyn, this is Eyvindr Skaldspiller.  Eyvindr, this is Sweyn ‘the Brave’ Ivarson, son of King Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Hraerikson, grandson of Hraerik ‘Bragi the Old’ Hraegunarson, son of Hraegunar Lothbrok.”

“Pleased to meet you, my prince,” Eyvindr said, offering Sweyn his hand.

“Eyvindr,” Sweyn said, taking his hand.  “My grandfather has told me much about you!  All of it good…well, most of it.”  And they all laughed.

“Eyvindr has agreed to overwinter with us,” Haakon said.  “Aud will be using the letters of Alcuin to record Eyvindr’s drapas and poetry.”  Sweyn looked over to Aud, who was sitting alone on the third highseat and he nodded to her.  He talked some more with Haakon but soon joined Aud on her third highseat.  “It is quite an honour,” Sweyn told her, “to write down the words of Eyvindr.”

“I know,” she said.  “I’m so scared.”

“Can you come over tomorrow and we’ll study some books?  I have a copy of ‘The Drapas of Bragi the Old’ we could go through.”  And Sweyn put his hand on hers.

“Really?” she said excitedly.  “I’d love to.  Perhaps I can use the same format for Eyvindr’s works?  If it’s okay with your grandfather, that is?”  And Aud put her other hand on top of Sweyn’s.

“He’d be honoured,” Sweyn answered.  “Now, I must get back to Alfled.  We’ve been apart for a long time.”  Aud’s hands were soft and sensuous and Sweyn was getting a little excited so, he thought he’d best leave.

When he got home he was half drunk and he looped his horse’s reins around a hitching rail and went into his longhall.  Alfled welcomed him and took him straight to their master suite and began taking his clothes off.  “I want another baby!” she told him as they crawled into bed.

A week later, Sweyn was requested to attend Gudrun’s delivery at her father’s longhall in Borsa.  The witch, Hallveig, was there with her apprentice.