Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

Queen Emma of Normandy



24.      Quoth the mighty maiden   of the mountain giants:

                        “Ground have we, Frodi,     now fain would cease;

                        we have toiled enough       at turning the mill.”

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(1007)  King Sweyn returned to Angleland in the early spring and he brought only his legion of Danish cataphracts and the knights held jousting competitions for Queen Emma’s entertainment while she got her quarry back up and running.  She made sure she was in Southampton when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s silver to be paid in tribute to the Danes.  King Sweyn was sent for and he arrived in the city and met with the Ealdormen of London and he accepted the tribute and he gave them peace.  When they returned to London, Sweyn took the silver and Queen Emma back to Wight with him and they continued with the tournaments.  “I’ve challenged Duke Richard to a jousting tournament,” Sweyn told Emma, “his cataphract legions against mine.”

“Ooohhh…,” Emma exclaimed.  “Where?”

“In Rouen,” Sweyn replied.  “Midsummer.”

“Can I come?”

“I was hoping you’d ask,” Sweyn said.  “You can take Athelred’s flag ship.  I brought it back from Denmark for you.”

“You did?  I love you Sweyn!” And Emma kissed him with her soft full lips.

Emma returned to Southampton midsummer to inspect construction and Sweyn met her in the Hraes’ palace in the city.  Emma was still living in a suite there while construction on her palace slowly progressed.  “Did you tell Athelred you were going?” Sweyn asked her.

“Yes.  I told him I was going to visit my brother and he offered me his flagship.  I told him Southampton had a flagship for me.  I didn’t tell him it was his old stolen flagship from you and I didn’t tell him about the tournament either.  I told him I was going to check up on my store in Paris.”

“Can you take me to Paris?” Sweyn asked.  “I want to see your store.  Everybody talks about it!”

“Really?  That’s sweet!” she said.  “But I can’t take you to Paris.  You’re a foreign king.  And a Viking at that!”

“I’ll go as your bodyguard,” Sweyn offered.  “You can call me Gold Harold.”

Emma thought about it and said, “I can’t call you Gold Harold.  People will think you have gold!  I’ll call you Hagrold!”

“I got this for you at your Paris store,” and he passed her a package.  “You were there already?” she asked.  “No,” he answered.  “I sent my Exeyes officers to scout the place for security reasons.  I asked them to buy it while they were there.”

Emma opened the paper bag, a new convenience for Hraes’ shoppers, and she took out a male glove kit.  “I don’t want you having to use a female glove,” Sweyn explained.  “I think sex will be better with the male counterpart.”


“Well, first off, we can put it on me together.”  She opened the kit and took out the glove.  “I haven’t put one of these on a man since I made King Robert wear one when he insisted on focking me.”  Sweyn laid back on the bed for her.  She unfolded it and measured it against Sweyn’s hard cock.  It was made of thin lamb’s intestine and sewn off round at the end and sealed with flexible glue, then oiled to maintain its flex and stretchability.  She was about to put some oil on his cock so she could slide it on and Sweyn stopped her.

“Use your lips,” he said.  “If you wet it with your mouth, my cock will absorb your saliva and the glove will adhere like a second skin.  If you use oil, it will always slip around.”

“You know, I’ve sold thousands of these and I didn’t even know that!”  She put his hard cock into her mouth and began sucking and stroking it with her lips.  Suddenly it grew on her.  She took her mouth off it and she marvelled at it, then she measured the glove up to it.  “The goddess Irpa gave you this?” she asked, and when he nodded she asked, “How?”

“I was focking her and I guess it wasn’t large enough so she made it bigger.”  While the witch Hallveig was a mare girl, whenever she turned into the goddess Irpa, she turned into an elephant woman, to use the yoni terminology of the Kama Sutra.

“Just like that?  And it’s been bigger ever since?”

“It was larger yet when she first did it and I thought it would go back to normal when she was done, but it’s stuck around since then and sometimes it pops up like this and sometimes it pops up as big as it used to and sometimes I can make sure it doesn’t happen at all, for deer girls, like the twins.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes,” Sweyn said.  “To me, they’re both deer girls.”

“And I’m not?” Emma said.  “I’m not a deer girl?”

“You were before you had your children,” Sweyn said.  “Now you’re a mare girl and I like to pop it up a bit for you.”

“Well, now I don’t think it’s going to fit,” she said, measuring the glove back up to his cock.  She took it into her mouth again and got it good and wet, but it would no longer slide on.

“It stretches a bit,” Sweyn said.  “Try stretching it a bit.”

“It’s not going to work!” she said, and Sweyn said, “It’ll go back down in a bit.”

“Well, I’m going into the dressing room to take out my glove and, when I get back, you’d better have that cock under control!”  Emma went into the dressing room and while she was gone Sweyn thought about the costs of Richard staging the tournament and it went down a bit.  When she got back she wet it again with her mouth but she didn’t stroke it with her lips and the glove slid on neatly.  She tied it off at the base of his cock in a cute little bow and she sat up and said,  “You’re right!  That was fun.”  She got out the oil and began oiling it up and it expanded in size again and she got see the glove stretch.  “I like this,” she said and she laid beside Sweyn and added, “It’s your turn to ride me!”  But Sweyn was feeling lazy that day so he told her to ride him, adding, “When breaking in a new glove it’s easier for me to monitor the performance of the glove if you ride me, and we don’t want to get you pregnant.”  Sweyn didn’t know if that was true, but it seemed to make sense and Emma sat up and straddled his hips and she lowered herself onto the fine new freshly oiled glove.

When they sailed to Normandy, Queen Emma and her flagship sailed and hour ahead of the Hraes’ cataphract legion ships so that it could not be said that they sailed together, but the one hundred and twenty ships of King Sweyn’s fleet kept her ship in sight in case she came across pirates or Viking ships.  There were other Viking ships that were attacking Angleland as well as King Sweyn’s and they would have loved to come across Queen Emma all alone.  In the Bay of the Seine, one of Sweyn’s officers pointed out the plain on which the Norman jarl and a few knights and a peasant army had defeated the Anglish forces of King Athelred.  Sweyn’s Exeyes officers were still trying to find a viable reason for Athelred’s attack upon Duke Richard beyond alcoholism or a madness possibly brought on by a sexual disease.  They would be studying the issue further during the jousting tournament.  King Sweyn wanted a full understanding of the motives behind all actions taking place within the Hraes’ Trading Company sphere of influence.  A motivations based decision making process was the driving force behind the Hraes’ business philosophy.

Queen Emma arrived in Rouen two hours before King Sweyn’s fleet arrived and beached along the banks of the Seine River.  She was welcomed by her brother Richard and she formed part of the official dignitaries who welcomed King Sweyn to the city.  King Sweyn was given a suite in the royal palace and he quickly learned that it was across the hallway from the suite that Queen Emma had been given and he wondered if she had anything to do with that.  “Of course, I did,” Emma told him at their welcoming feast later.  “I don’t want to be here all by myself.”  It seemed an odd comment to Sweyn until Emma slipped into his suite later that night, after the feast.  “I grew up here,” she explained, “and I have friends here, but I have no lovers here, nobody like you!”

“Well, thank you Emma,” Sweyn said as he welcomed her into his suite.  “That’s so sweet!”

“You’re making fun of me,” she said.

“No.  I’m having fun with you,” he corrected.  “Let me pour you some of this fine wine your brother Richard has put in our rooms.  It’s quite remarkable.”

“I know!  I had some!  It’s not sparkling wine but it seems like it.”

“I know!”  They sat in the great room and drank wine and ate Khavayar and played footsies under the table and Emma looked to the bedroom and said, “Let’s have sex!”

What’s the rush,” Sweyn asked?  He had his foot up her dress and his toe in her panties and was winning the game.  “I want to fock,” she said, “and go back to my room and sleep.”

“I want to sleep inside you,” Sweyn said.

“I don’t want Richard learning that we see each other.  His servants are everywhere.  If he finds out we’re focking, he’ll start holding back from me.  And that won’t do either of us any good.”

“Okay,” Sweyn said, as she dragged him off to his bedroom.  “It’ll be fun!” she said, as she tore his clothes off.  She took his member into her mouth as he clambered onto the bed and she pulled her panties out from under her frilled gown and she jammed him into herself and began riding.  “Tomorrow, during the tournament,” she started as she rode him, “I’ll find a place we can sneak off to, but you have to follow my lead.”  The sailing had been long that day and the waves had taken the ships up and down ceaselessly so, her ride aboard the longship Sweyn, seemed a perfect way to cap the day, and she was soon coming all over him as he came within.  Sweyn hugged her close to himself and whispered, “I want to sleep inside you,” and she whispered back, “five minutes,” and he clung to her and he savoured each one of those five minutes.

The next day, the jousting began.  The Roman knights of the First Rouen Regiment were to go up against the Danish knights of the Second Roskilde Regiment and the Norman knights of the Second Rouen Regiment were to go up against the Hraes’ knights of the Third Kievan Regiment.  The two Norman regiments comprised half of the First Rouen Legion of Cataphracts of Richard the Second of Normandy.  The Second Rouen Legion of Cataphracts was in the field in Aquitaine enforcing some trade agreement Richard had with their Duke.  Wooden viewing stands had been built in front of the city walls of Rouen and the legionary pavilions were across from the stands and a jousting run sat between the two.  The top six knights of the Roman regiment congregated at one end of the run and the top six knights of the Danish regiment gathered about the other end.  The Romans were all descendants of Byzantine knights that King Ivar had hired many years earlier, knights who found fine Frankish wives while north and never returned to Constantinople, and the Danish regiment was out of the new Danish and Kievan cataphract legions that Prince Valdamar had created and trained in Kiev for his father.

A plate mail armoured knight on a scale mailed horse stood at each end of the run, each on the right of a heavy short fence that ran the length of the run and they charged at each other with long lances lowered and kite shields held high and the Roman knight unseated the Dane, who tumbled into the dirt and mud and had to be helped up so he could recover while the next pair of cataphracts faced off.  King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark and Queen Emma of Angleland had been given prime seats on either side of Duke Richard and his wife, Duchess Judith of Normandy and Emma was literally bouncing out of her seat each time a knight was unseated.  She loved jousting and she loved the pageantry and she loved the Roman chivalry that the Byzantine knights had brought to Normandy with them.  It wasn’t real, of course; not much out of Constantinople was, but it was the stuff that princesses of her time gobbled up; ‘The Viking and the Nun’, ‘Bjorn of the Barrows’,  ‘The Battle of the Goths and the Huns’, ‘The Tale of Tristan and Isolde’ that Emma learned when in her city of Exeter and Cornwall, these were the chivalric tales of her time.

King Sweyn and Duke Richard got in a discussion of the kite shield while watching the jousting.  The Danish and Kievan cataphracts still carried the original kite shields with a point at the top and the Normans had adopted a round top kite shield.  “When I first designed the kite shield,” Sweyn explained, “our helmets weren’t as good.  We might have had a few with cheek pieces and eye protection, but most were open faced with ring mail around our necks only.  So, the pointed top gave us some face protection.  Some newer helmet designs have full face shielding so, the round top is all you need.  Modern helmets are just that much better!”  And the two princes agreed on that point at least as they discussed everything cataphract from equestrian face plate armour to stirrups to helmet plumage.  These were the royals bringing the truly armoured medieval knights to Europe and Duke Richard said, “I think this is the first international jousting match we’ve ever had!”  King Sweyn reminded him that over a decade earlier, his father, Duke Richard the First had brought the First Rouen Legion of Cataphracts of Normandy to Denmark for a jousting tattoo and tournament in Roskilde, but Richard reminded him that it was still only Norman cataphracts that fought.  “Here we have Norman and Danish and Kievan Hraes’ cataphracts going at it lance to shield in a truly international jousting match!”

King Sweyn had to agree with Duke Richard on this point as well.  Duke Richard then told him, “I heard that when Duke Richard had his legion of cataphracts packed up and ready to leave Denmark, that he told you, ‘If you need help against the Romans, you can count on my cataphract legions.  You won’t have run out of men until I, too, have run out of men.’ Is that not so?”  And again, King Sweyn had to agree with him.  “I just want you to know,” the Duke continued, “that the same goes for me with your war on the Anglish.  What Athelred did to our Danes in Angleland is unforgivable.  You won’t run out of men until I, too, have run out of men.”  The two royals sat back, drank some wine together and enjoyed the rest of the morning’s matches.  At lunch Emma asked her brother if they could show King Sweyn the cheese pavilion.  “We have many very famous cheeses in Normandy,” she told Sweyn and he followed her lead.  “I love cheeses!” he said.

“You take him,” Richard replied.  “We have servants bringing food right here if you wish to stay and not miss anything.”

“I’d love to see this pavilion,” Sweyn said.  “We Danes are famous for our cheeses as well!”

“Richard hates cheese,” Emma said as she walked Sweyn straight through the cheese pavilion and she took him into a quiet livery stable near the grounds.  “We used to hang out here and neck,” Emma said, “when we were children,” and she led Sweyn into her favourite stall and closed the gate behind them.  “My father, Duke Richard, used to keep a few horses here,” Emma whispered, “for us children to ride, and boys and girls would hide and kiss in the stalls and our parents would be looking for us and it was all very exciting.”

“Did you ever get caught?” Sweyn whispered back.

“No.  That’s why I brought you here,” she whispered some more.  “I don’t want my brother, Duke Richard, to catch us either,” and Sweyn could tell she was excited by the way she was breathing.  There were workers and slaves going in and out of the livery and she looked about and got on her knees.  “You keep watch,” she said, looking up, and she unbuttoned Sweyn’s pants and took out his stiffening lingam and she put it in her mouth and sucked it hard and she kept sucking hard and started making suctioning noises and Sweyn thought someone would surely hear them and he started to get excited as well and his cock grew suddenly larger.  Emma kept sucking on it, but it now barely fit in her mouth and was too long for it so, she swallowed it down and gagged it back up and swallowed it down and her breathing became ragged and she looked up at Sweyn and he looked down at her and nodded all clear and she sucked him like that for a long time and she coughed a bit and Sweyn got excited over the noise and his cock grew suddenly larger again just as Emma had swallowed it and regurgitated it quickly and she crawled up his chest and she pulled up her dress and she eased herself onto the swollen member and she wrapped her legs around his buttock muscles and she rode his member while he supported her, slowly at first because of the size and once she relaxed a bit she went faster and began to moan and the noise got Sweyn excited and he came as she was riding him and he flowed and she sped up some more and rode him until she was sated.  She wrapped her legs tightly around his waist when she was done and his member went soft and she slid down off him.  She sat in the hay at his feet and she held his legs and she whispered, “Thank you, Sweyn.  That was so…ohhh!”

Sweyn tucked his member back into his shorts and buttoned up his pants.  Emma was still holding his legs and catching her breath so, he held her head in his hands and he tucked her into his thighs for a few minutes and then he lifted her up by her arms and he tucked her head against his chest and when she looked up at him he kissed her and he kissed her again.  Sweyn pulled all the straw of Emma’s dress and they walked straight back through the cheese pavilion and were back at her brother’s side just as the servants were taking away the lunch.  Sweyn grabbed a joint of beef off a platter going by and he told Richard, “One can’t live off of cheese alone!” and he passed a strip of beef across to Emma.

That night, after the feasting, Emma once more visited with Sweyn in his suite and they had sex and then talked for a long time, drinking the strange Frankish wine and eating oysters and cheese and Khavayar.  One night he told Emma about the witch from Hell, Hallveig, and her apprentice healer, Emma, and he told her about the summoning of the shieldmaiden goddess Thorgerder Helgibruder and the sacrifices made to win the Battle of Hjorungavagr, at least as much as he felt comfortable telling her.  Then they had sex again and Emma returned to her suite.

One night Emma told Sweyn about the first time she had been with a man in the livery stable they were wont to frequent at noon during the tournaments.  Her father, Richard ‘the Fearless’, had thought it would be good for her to learn about God while practicing her riding so, he had a Brother Thomas ride with her and preach to her as they rode and he made her ride side-saddle to protect her virginity, knowing full well that he would be held personally responsible if she lost it while under his care.  He would lift her side-saddle onto her horse in the very same livery stall that Emma and Sweyn would frequent and then he would lift her dress and push aside her panties and inspect her hymen before the ride and when they had finished their riding and he had finished his preaching he would lead her horse into the stall and lift her dress and push aside her panties and ensure that her hymen was still intact.  One day, she had forgotten to put on her panties, not unusual for a girl just ten years of age, and Brother Thomas took note of it during his hymen inspection.  After their ride and his preaching, the monk performed his hymen inspection and then lifted Emma off her saddle and he bent her over a stook of hay and flipped her dress up and over her back and Emma heard him spit and felt him wiping his wet hand over her anus and then he penetrated her anus with something long and hot and wet and she realised that he was focking her from behind.  She had seen slave women treated like this in some of the Viking halls, but she had never thought that the anus was involved.

She blamed herself for forgetting her panties and vowed not to do it again, but Thomas would remove her panties for his hymen inspection and when they were riding he would have them stop in woods or by haystacks and he would have his way with her anus and call her his little ‘altar boy’ and he would put her panties back on during his final hymen inspection and this treatment carried on for months until Brother Thomas was promoted to Father Thomas and he left Rouen for a minster in Paris.

“Can I?” Sweyn asked.  “Can you what?” Emma asked.  “Can I take you from behind?  Anally?”

“No!” she said.  “You may certainly not!”  They were sitting naked at the end table and Sweyn got up and gave his member a few shakes and it was getting hard.  “I won’t use my Irpa on you,” he swore, “just my regular cock.”  And she repeated, “No!”  Sweyn grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her up out of the chair and he dragged her over to the bed and bent her over the edge and she struggled the whole way but Sweyn was too strong.  She heard him spit and she felt his finger go up her anus as he wet it and then he forced his member up it and was soon stroking away and she would have screamed but she didn’t want Richard learning she was in Sweyn’s suite so, she stopped struggling and she rode out the storm until Sweyn surged inside her.  He was still inside her when he picked her up and laid her next to him on the bed and he said, “See?  It wasn’t your fault.  He was a full grown man and you were a ten year old girl and he raped you.”

“It was the way he took me,” she said.  “He bent me over like he had a god given right to my ass, then he called me his ‘little altar boy’.  The priests and brothers all fock their altar boys, everybody knows that, the parents even know that…it made me wonder if my father knew that.”

“Maybe it was the priests’ lust for boys that made your father feel safe about the brother riding with his daughter?” Sweyn postured,  “Was he that way, this Brother Thomas?”

“Oh no!” Emma said.  “He often told me that, were it not for my flower being intact, he would be taking me from both sides.  I think he loved boys and girls.”

“Still, it was never your fault,” Sweyn told her.

“Thank you, Sweyn,” she said, “for proving that to me, I think.  Can you do me a favour?”

“Anything,” Sweyn assured her.

“Can you get your cock out of my ass?” and as Sweyn began to withdraw, she added, “Easy now, it’s tender.  I think you went Irpa on me a few times while you were plundering my anus!”  Emma returned to her suite and Sweyn hoped he hadn’t pushed her too hard,  But it was apparent to him that she had taken him back to that livery stable and stall for a reason, whether she even knew it or not.”

The next day at jousting, Emma was friendly towards Sweyn, but before noon she went off on her own, so, Sweyn stayed and ate with Duke Richard and his wife.  The Duke was entertaining many local nobles during the jousts and Prince Valdamar had arrived from Kiev in the morning and came down at lunch to watch his Kievan cataphracts perform.  He had arrived with a dozen wives, of course, and had spent the morning settling them into Duke Richard’s largest guest suite and then he came down alone to join his father Sweyn and watch the combats.  Sweyn was surprised and he hugged his son fiercely and they sat together and watched as six Kievan cataphracts went up against six Norman knights.  Emma returned late from lunch and sat down on the other side of her brother so, Sweyn took Valdamar over in front of her and introduced his son to the Queen of Angleland.  Emma thought he was big and handsome like Sweyn, but his blonde hair was cut short in the latest Danish fashion and he wore the white silk shirt of the Hraes’ and slate-grey tight pants in the latest fashion and she could see the bulge in his pants and Sweyn had told her that his son kept a monster in there and she averted her eyes as they were introduced but her eyes were drawn back to the bulge in his pants as they talked and she averted her eyes once more.

“She’s young for a queen,” Valdamar said, as they sat back down, “and very pretty!” and he looked across the duke at her as she cheered on her Norman knights.  “Eyes front,” Sweyn whispered.  “That’s Duke Richard’s youngest sister.”

That night, Sweyn was in his suite hoping that Emma would visit him and he heard a tapping at his door.  Emma usually just eased the door open and slipped herself in, but she had seemed a bit put off so, he went over to let her in and when he opened the door it was Princess Svia standing in front of him in a crimson silk robe, and she said, “Sweyn, may I come in?” and she brushed past him half expecting to see naked young women in the room.  She had a bottle of wine in her hand and she turned back toward Sweyn as he closed the door behind her.  “This wine is amazing,” she said and she looked around for some glasses.  “I have glasses in the bedroom,” he said and he took the bottle from her and she followed him into the bedroom.  He put the bottle on the end table and he turned around and he kissed her hard and long and he didn’t want to stop, but she had to breath so he let her.  “I’ve missed you so,” he said as he stepped back and surveyed her as she caught up her breath.  “You’re gorgeous!” he said, and he meant it.  She had kept her beauty over the years and was still the most exquisite woman he had ever met.  She had a strength and grace in her step that very few women showed and her raven hair was just now flecked with strands of grey.  “I told young Valdy,” she began, “not to tell you I came along because I wanted to surprise you,” and she stood beside the bed and she opened her crimson robe and she was naked underneath and she let the silk flow down her shoulders and her back and it slid outwards off her bottom and floated to the floor and she stood naked before him and the hot blood came flooding back, the hot blood that had flowed through him at Ramnic when he first saw her.

He took her up into his arms and he placed her gently upon the bed and he began kissing her face and her neck and then all down her body.  She stretched her lean taut muscles as he worked his way down her body and when he’d finished kissing her petite feet he worked his way back up again.  He then stood up and undressed in front of her as she watched and he got on the bed and got on top of her and he slid into her welcoming well.  She was hot and wet and he knew that she’d been thinking the same thoughts.  They had been together and apart for so long and so often that it took but a touch and a kiss to bring it all back to them and they made love like two souls still as one, connected over space and time.  They started like new lovers, gentle and delving, then familiar lovers, calming and trusting and Sweyn grew inside her, then hardened lovers, strong and thrusting and Sweyn grew larger again and they let their bodies take over and Svia gasped and began moaning and Sweyn drove hard into her and exploded in her, wanting to start a baby in her, then he collapsed beside her and stayed inside her and they both breathed heavily in synchronized heaves.

“You still have the goddess Irpa in you!” she gasped.  “I do so love Irpa!”

“And you still have the goddess Svia in you,” he replied.  “I do so love you, Svia!” and he rolled out of her and laid flat on his back on the bed.  His cock was still huge and wet and the cool night air took some of the Irpa out of it.

“I came with Valdy so I could spend some time with you,” she said.

“And you’re wondering why he’s taking the Kievan cataphracts back east with him?”

“I’m wondering why Angleland hasn’t fallen yet,” Svia started slowly.  “We have to start our attack upon Rome soon, with or without Angleland.”

“They’ve had a famine in Angleland,” Sweyn explained.  “We’re buying Anglish slaves for next to nothing, for food, and it’s just starting to stabilize now.”

“That sounds like the perfect time to attack them!”

“If I attack King Athelred now, a million Anglish will starve to death.  That’s ten years’ worth of slaves…my slaves.”

“How long will it go on?”

“Grandfather says it’ll be over soon.  The heat is an anomaly of this worldwide warming cycle.  He said the warming period is ending and, as it slips into a cooling cycle, the weather will be unpredictable for a while.”

“If it’s unpredictable, how can he say the famine will be over soon?”

“He’s been watching these anomalies for a while.  The first was a famine in Ireland in King Ivar’s time, caused by a cooling anomaly.  The Hraes’ made a fortune off of that famine.  There have been a number of anomalies since then and Prince Hraerik has tracked each of them and the Hraes’ have profited off all of them.”

“That sounds predatory,” Svia spat.

“It does,” Sweyn agreed, “until you see how many lives it saves.  We give the Anglish food for their offspring which keeps people in Angleland from starving, while we take the slaves away to areas that aren’t in famine.”

“So, you’re Angleland’s saver instead of enslaver,” Svia said.

“Not hardly,” Sweyn reassured her.  “When they started to come out of the famine we started raiding for plunder, slaves and grain.  Then we’d sell their grain back to them for more slaves.  Finally, Athelred begged us to take tribute instead, thirty thousand pounds of silver for this year, more for next.”

“If it were gold, then maybe, but what’ll you do for slaves?”

“We’ll get more silver out of them next year and Irish and Norse Vikings still raid so, we’ll buy their slaves.  “If I can get this to work, the Anglish silver will help pay for our war with Rome, but my grandfather says I still die of poisoning, whether I pre-emptively kill my co-Emperors or not.”

“How can that be?” Svia asked, then they both said in unison, “Those focking Armenians!”

Prince Valdamar and his entourage of wives stayed for the rest of the tournament and King Sweyn slept inside Princess Svia at night.  Word of Valdy’s prowess with multiple wives spread throughout Duke Richard’s palace and when Svia left Sweyn’s suite in the mornings it was duly noted by staff.  When the tournament was over, they headed back to Kiev and took the Kievan cataphracts with them.  Sweyn asked Emma if she was still angry with him.

“”I’m not angry,” Emma said.  “My brother was starting to spy on me.  I had to keep some distance.  Fortunately, your son came and distracted all his spies.  They couldn’t believe all the pounding emanating from his suite!”

“So, are you still going to show me your store in Paris?” Sweyn asked, hopefully.

“Yes.  Are you still going to pose as my bodyguard?”

“I’ve made all your security arrangements,” Sweyn said, kissing her gently.  “We can leave in the morning if you wish.”

They took Queen Emma’s Anglish flagship, which was actually King Athelred’s stolen flagship, up the Seine to Paris and they first visited Duke Richard’s Hraes’ store, which was downstream along the river and it was pretty standard Hraes’ fare, with a warehouse and fur storage and slave quarters and auction area, which was new.

“A Persian once told me in Baghdad,” Sweyn told Emma, “that they used to auction off brides annually in Babylon, but I’ve never seen it done before.”

“The Roman Gauls here auction off estates,” Emma explained, “but Richard came up with auctioning off slaves.  The word is from the Latin ‘auctum’ and I find the practice dehumanizing.  Slave women are brought up naked onto the stage and bidders come up and poke and prod them and then bid on them.”

“It might eliminate the clients test riding the stock all the time,” Sweyn offered.

“I wish!” Emma said.  “His good clients come in early and bend them over the edge of the stage and fock them in front of everybody.  It’s disgraceful.  There are no slave auctions at my store!  Discrete sales only of select offerings.”

“I thought you didn’t sell slaves,” Sweyn chided.

“If I was still in Frankia, we wouldn’t, but my manager kept asking me because our clients kept asking her so, I relented a bit.  No open sales, discreet offerings only and no free test rides!”

Soon their ship approached the quay in front of her store and the sign on the second floor wall simply said: ‘HRAES’ in large white letters and it was above a dockside restaurant area in front of the store and there were clients seated at tables and they were ordering food.  “We only offer food that we sell,” Emma said.  “Fine wines, pastries, Khazar Vayar.”  The ship was tied off at the end of the quay and there were a few clients’ boats and sailboats tied off down the sides.  The store had just opened and was already starting to fill.  Sweyn was dressed as a Norman bodyguard and he offered Emma a hand as she stepped over the topstrake.  He played his part and followed her as she strode into her store and found her manager, who was a fine looking Norman woman in her thirties.  Food was being prepared in one corner of the large store and waiters served the clients at tables inside as well as through a separate door to the outside deck.  The front of the store was actually at the far end of the building that faced onto the street that ran along the Seine and the high end furs and fashions and products ran down one side of the store and was frequented by royals and the regular family goods and lower end products ran down the other side.  There were fitting rooms mid-wall down the high end side and discreet slave rooms on the opposite side.  A pre-pubescent teen boy was leading a young slave woman out of a slaver stall and he walked her over to his mother on the other side of the store.

“He’s just purchased a new handmaiden for his mother,” the manager told Emma.  Sweyn played his part and gave the slave room a quick check and he saw a glove, still warm and wet, laying on the floor of the small chamber.  ‘High end or not,’ Sweyn thought, ‘some things don’t change.  He bent her over the chair in the corner and he’ll be bending her over his mother’s dresser until he leaves home.’  And then he laughed at himself, realising that he was no older than that boy when his mother’s handmaiden had taken his virginity in Constantinople.  He returned to Emma and stood beside her and her perfume made him want to take her right there, but he kept motionless and stood guard.

By the time Emma had finished going through all the books at the store and had inspected all the areas she wanted Sweyn to see, it was too late to sail back to Rouen so, they left the ship docked at the Hraes’ store and rented a carriage to tour Paris in the afternoon.  Emma showed Sweyn the sights of the city of love and they had supper at a very nice restaurant then went to their hotel.  It was an inn for royals and she’d booked a suite and a room for her bodyguards.  Sweyn and one of his Exeyes officers took first watch and Sweyn was standing guard outside her suite when he felt a hand on his shoulder from behind and he looked over his shoulder and saw Emma nodding him into the room.

“I’ve never gone back to that livery stable,” Emma told him.  “I could never stay away from it and now I could care less about it.  Thank you.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that something bad isn’t our fault,” Sweyn told her.  Finally, they were in a place where Sweyn could sleep inside Emma, so, he did.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

“A.D. 1007.  In this year was the tribute paid to the hostile

army; that was, 30,000 pounds.  In this year also was Edric

appointed alderman over all the kingdom of the Mercians.  This

year went Bishop Elfeah to Rome after his pall.”

(1008)  In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to Angleland and he brought only his Danish mobile legion and Queen Emma, once more, got her quarry back up and running.  She made sure she was in Southampton when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s silver to be paid in tribute to the Danes.  King Sweyn was sent for and he arrived in the city and met with the Ealdormen of London and he accepted the forty thousand pounds of silver in tribute and he gave them peace.  When they returned to London, Sweyn took the silver and Queen Emma back to Wight with him and they surveyed the stone that was being cut for the new cathedral in the city.  Her palace complete, Emma had moved out of the Hraes’ palace and into her three story manse in the center of Southampton.  When her Portsmouth designer had offered her the option of adding a post and beam third story to her two story stone palace, Emma immediately told her to add the story and now her house, though of smaller footprint than the Hraes’ palace, was of equal square footage.  And it hadn’t slowed down the start of her cathedral because the post and beam construction was done by carpenters so, the stone masons moved on to the cathedral while the carpenters took over the palace completion.  The cathedral design had been beyond the expertise of her Portsmouth designers and Emma had actually had to go to Normandy to have the plans drawn up so, they were ready for her Portsmouth contractor’s stone masons to work off of and they commenced construction of her Latin Christian church in the city square.

Sweyn had been so impressed with her Hraes’ store in Paris that they had visited together the previous summer, that he asked Emma to go into partnership with him on a similar store in Southampton.  He offered her floor space in half of the Hraes’ palace in the square and he gave her the freedom to design it any way she pleased.  He wanted to see what she would come up with and if it could be applied to the Hraes’ stores of the north and perhaps even the east.  Queen Emma would return to London when required for official engagements, but she spent most of her summer in Southampton and visited the Isle of Wight often.  Her contractors in Portsmouth had designed a tall cathedral and the stone had to be of superior quality to handle the compressive stresses and that quality was found in the quarry on Wight.

King Sweyn spent the summer buying slaves from the Norse and Irish Vikings that were plundering the west coast of Angleland and training his mobile legion for a special campaign he had planned for the fall.  Jarl Eirik was in Baghdad for him, running the trade there again.  When he returned in the fall, they would take the legion and his Vikings out for a final slave raid on the west coast.  Because he was going east, Jarl Eirik left Princess Gyda and the children in Lade over the summer.  He still followed the warning of Jarl Pallig even though he had died during the Saint Brice’s Day Massacre.  King Sweyn had, meantime, hired another Jomsviking Jarl to lord over Ipswich while Gyda was gone.  He brought in Jarl Thorkell ‘the Tall’ Strut-Haraldson, younger brother of Jarl Sigvald of Jom to keep the peace in East Anglia, but the Jomsvikings he brought were soon raiding in Colchester in Essex.  When complaints reached Sweyn from London via Queen Emma, he sent his commander Gudmund to Ipswich with a regiment of heavy cavalry to rein in the Jomsvikings.  Plunder was returned and women were released and apologies were made.

When Jarl Eirik returned from trading in Baghdad, he was incensed.  He did not like Princess Gyda’s kingdom being used as a raiding base for the Jomsvikings.  “We must keep Ipswich neutral,” Eirik argued, “to keep Gyda and the children safe there.”  Sweyn agreed and wondered if his choice of using deadly Jomsvikings to keep peace had been a valid one.  But Eirik had stopped in at Lade on his way back and brought Gyda and the children to Wight with him.  They stayed in the Viking fortress there and got a chance to meet the queen of Angleland several times.  Once Queen Emma had shut down construction for the season and returned to London, Sweyn and Eirik set out with the Danish mobile legion west along the southern coast and then north and east into the Bristol Channel, or Brycgstow Sea, and up the mouth of the Severn River to Avonmouth and up the River Avon to Bristol.  They caught the Roman walled city by complete surprise and took the main gate within minutes of landing.  Foot soldiers held the gate while heavy cavalry landed their horses and took off through the city streets, disarming the fyrd warriors as they came out of their buildings.  Within an hour the city had fallen.

Three days of plundering began and little mercy was shown for the Bristol pirates, as King Sweyn called them, and the men were herded down to the slaver knars that were just catching up with the warfleet and they were held on the ships as the Hraes’ troops settled into the homes and wives of Bristol and began searching the buildings for gold that was rumoured to be well buried within the walls.  The inside corners of clay floored homes were favoured locations and the corners were soaked down and spears were thrust into the clay for the tell-tale clink of steel on silver or the clank of steel on gold, then the corner was torn up to expose the household treasure.  By the end of the three days, the wives were well worn and the floors were well torn and the city had been relieved of a small fortune in silver and gold coin.  The Bristol slavers had been making a lot of money kidnapping and selling the Welsh to the Irish Vikings, and the now King Sweyn and his Danes were helping themselves to the profits.  Half the city was enslaved and the other half left free and ransoms were allowed for the captives and more gold was dug up from the recesses of the city to free relatives and friends, but the poor were all taken away to overwinter in the slave schools of Kiev.  In five days the Hraes’ legion had come and gone like a black squall blown in from the sea and the Bristol slavers couldn’t report the theft of their ill-gotten gold nor their missing poor.

Perhaps it was the Norse and Irish Viking raids or maybe the indiscretions of the Jomsvikings or possibly word reached London of the plundering of Bristol, but more likely it was just the payment of thousands of pounds of silver in tribute that caused King Athelred to proclaim the secret building of ships and arming of thanes over winter while the Danes were gone, returned to their homelands.  So, the Anglish did as commanded and worked all winter on warships and weapons.

While King Athelred had given the command to build, it was Queen Emma who took command of the building.  She brought Christian Norse Viking shipbuilders that had fled the re-paganization of Norway from York into London with the promise of work and silver and fine Saxon wives and she brought in her designers from Portsmouth and they began work on a new kind of ship that Vikings would find hard to attack.  The York Vikings wanted to carry on what King Olaf Tryggvason had started with his famous ship, the Long Serpent, and this was a ship with full quarterdecks and higher topstrakes, a ship that physically prevented boarding, a ship that had taller decks from which archers could shoot downwards from and soldiers could drop anvils from, a ship with castellated side rails and two masts like a cargo knar to reduce its dependency on rowing.

The designers from Portsmouth, mostly females, wanted something quite different.  They wanted a design their carpenters could actually build.  There were very few shipbuilding carpenters in England but, due to the Viking army’s propensity to burn estates, there were plenty of house building carpenters, post and beam, mortise and tenon type carpenters who could build strong frames that were filled in by wattle and daub plasterers.  So, they proposed a design that had been working its way up from the Mediterranean through Frankia and into Normandy called fixed frame shipbuilding in lieu of the Viking shell based construction.  A post and beam frame would be built for the ship and steamed planks would be bent around the frame and seams would be caulked and tarred in a sloppy but fast fit-up and construction would be kept simple and crude in order to build the number of large ships commanded in the short winter window.  And, as if the Viking shipwrights weren’t already pulling out their long hair and beards, the women wanted the ships built upside down as if houses, with the topstrakes at the bottom and the side ribs as posts and the keel as a great roof beam, tying the house together.

“How will you launch these upside down ships?” the Viking ship designers asked.

“We are going to build them along the banks of the Thames,” Queen Emma started, “and then we are going to roll them over into the river, sliding them down the clay riverbanks.”  The Vikings on the other side of the design table almost rolled out of their chairs in laughter until Emma and her Portsmouth designer unrolled a large vellum drawing done in three dimensions showing a huge upside down ship, first rolling, then sliding down the mud, controlled by ropes, and then splashing into the water of the Thames.  The drawing was marvellous, done overnight by the women, and it sold the idea.  It said, “THIS CAN BE DONE!”

All winter these huge two story planked houses were being built along both banks of the Thames, upstream and downstream of London, and they looked quite similar to Viking longhalls and the citizens were told nothing about them being otherwise and the Londoners marvelled at how these new homes had no windows or smoke holes.  Emma worked her crews straight through Christmas holidays and the wagons and wains of London creaked relentlessly hauling supplies out to the longhalls and some workers even began to live under the ships they were constructing, except for the Viking shipwrights who were living in the city with their new Saxon wives.

In late winter, after the first melting of snow, a longhall was completed and the riverbank had its snow turn to mud so, a ship launch was prepared for and crews of men were on the control ropes and the ship’s crew was under the ship releasing mortise joints and jacking up the one side and, when the ship threatened to roll over and slide down the bank they grabbed a hold of topstrakes inside the ship so they could be inside it to control the ship when it hit the water.  Tar was at the ready to throw aboard so leaks could be stopped up immediately by the crew controlling the ship and boats were in the river nearby should things go awry.  When the ship began to roll, the men all jumped inside and it slid down the muddy bank and took them for a ride but, when it hit the water, which was colder and more viscous than anticipated, it hit the water hard and rocked over suddenly, flinging many of the men out into the middle of the Thames and, like so many English sailors of later days, most could not swim and they paddled and shouted until the boats rowed out and saved them.  But those that had stayed with the ship screamed out for tar as water rushed within.  They ran about with tar until they saved the ship and more men were rowed out to start bailing out water.  Construction had been crude, but the planks were strong and thick and built for river battle, not oceanic cruising.  And the ships sat high out of the water with a fully decked level between the waterline and the topstrake and castellated railings were yet to be added to further increase the height.  And the fore and aft quarter decks were higher yet and one could see that the aft quarterdeck had been built by housebuilders, as it was square at the back and had windows.

Had Prince Hraerik seen the ship, he may have remembered ships like it that he had seen in his visions, armed with fire spewing tubes of iron, not Greek-fire spewing tubes of bronze, but the fire spewing tubes of iron that he remembered seeing at the fall of Constantinople when he had foreseen the death of Emperor Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos.  Future galleys he had seen packed with fire spewing shot throwing iron tubes that stuck out in lines from tween decks and, had he seen this first launching, he might have realized that he was seeing the birth of the mighty British navy.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

“A.D. 1008.  This year bade the king that men should speedily

build ships over all England; that is, a man possessed of three

hundred and ten hides to provide one galley or skiff; and a man

possessed of eight hides only, to find a helmet and breastplate.”

(1009)  In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to Angleland and he brought only his Danish mobile legion and Queen Emma, once more, got her quarry back up and running.  She made sure she was in Southampton when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s silver to be paid in tribute to the Danes.  King Sweyn was sent for and he arrived in the city and met with the Ealdormen of London and he accepted the forty five thousand pounds of silver in tribute and he gave them peace.  When they returned to London, Sweyn took the silver and Queen Emma back to Wight with him and they surveyed the fresh stone that was being cut for the new cathedral in the city.  Emma had settled into her palace in the city square and she had an open house celebration for all her subjects.  They were all allowed to tour through her new palace and the invitation included the Danes and Vikings that frequented the city.  Select citizens were also invited to a great open house feast to be held later in the palace.  King Sweyn and Jarl Eirik were milling through the palace with the citizens of Southampton and the stone works of the first and second floors were quite similar to the Hraes’ palace across the street, but the added third floor was quite different in that it was of oak post and beam construction and the massive roof timbers and ridge beam were open to view and it gave the whole top floor an open magical feel that was seldom found in enclosed buildings.  It was almost like the free floating feeling Sweyn had felt in the tall cathedrals of Normandy and Frankia but it was much cosier and it just felt like home.

“Who designed this?” Sweyn asked Emma, “and have you hired her to work on our Hraes’ store?”

“How do you know it’s a she?” Emma asked him.

“I can feel it in this place, and I know you!”

“It’s the wife of my Portsmouth contractor,” she told him, “and she’s over in our store right now inspecting the progress.”

“She does good work!” Sweyn said and he and Eirik carried on with their tour.  There were still workers there doing some minor clean-up work and Sweyn noticed three women sweeping and dusting and they were dressed in black, a young pretty girl, an older woman and an aged old crone and they stood out because they were dressed identically, which was unusual for the age difference between the three.  Later that night, at the feast, Sweyn was introduced to the contractor and his wife and he complemented them both on their work.

In late spring, Sweyn left for Baghdad trading and Jarl Eirik was left in charge of Wight and he spent the summer going between Wight and Ipswich to help Princess Gyda keep a rein on Jarl Thorkell ‘the Tall’ and his Jomsvikings.  They were champing at the bit to do some raiding but Eirik worked hard to keep the peace.  While sailing with his small warfleet back to Wight he saw many new large Anglish ships anchored up the mouth of the Thames and it looked as though they were there to keep Viking ships out of the river.  Eirik made a mental note to investigate the ships the next time he was going to visit Ipswich and he continued on toward Wight when he saw twenty of the new large Anglish ships raiding the Anglish coast at Hastings.  Something was up and he wanted no part of it, but he knew he would have to go to Southampton and bring it up with Queen Emma.

When he met with Queen Emma at her new palace in the city, he told her about the new large Anglish ships he had seen raiding Anglish coastal cities and she got very upset about it and said she would have to sail to London and find out what was going on.  Jarl Eirik was in charge of keeping King Sweyn’s peace so, he insisted on escorting her past the raiding fleet at least to the Anglish ships guarding the Thames.  She told him she had heard something of some new large ships, but if an Earl had gone rogue with them and was raiding his own lands, she had to get something done about it.  They sailed back east along the southern coast but the raiders were gone and only the damage was left behind.  He took her as far as the mouth of the Thames and then she asked Eirik if he could keep an eye on Southampton while she was in London in case the raiders turned on her city while she was gone.  He told her he would and Portsmouth as well he assured her, then he watched her sail up the Thames toward the new and menacing Anglish ships.

In London, Emma learned from her husband that Earl Brihtric, brother of Alderman Edric, had betrayed Earl Wulnoth, the Sussex war chief, father of Earl Godwin, to King Athelred and he was found guilty of plotting against the king and he went into self-exile and had gone to the navy and had taken back the twenty new ships he had provided the king with and he had plundered everywhere along the south coast, and had wrought every kind of mischief.

“Something must be done to bring him back under control,” Emma told her husband.  “Those ships aren’t designed for the open sea.  They’re river ships to protect the Thames and London.”  King Athelred assured her he would take care of it and she told him she had to return to Southampton and see to the defence of her city.  The king told Earl Brihtric to take a large force of the new ships after him and offered silver in reward for getting him under rein, dead or alive.  Earl Brihtric took eighty new ships down the Thames from London and set out into the British Sea, or what some were now calling the English Channel, looking for the rogue Earl, thinking that he could acquire for himself much silver and reputation, by getting Wulnoth into his hands alive or dead.  While they were sailing and searching the southern coast of England, a storm came up and drove the eighty ships aground along the coast.  Earl Brihtric and his men barely made it to shore alive and following the storm came Earl Wulnoth and his twenty ships out of the harbour they had hidden in to avoid Brihtric’s fleet as it passed by and Wulnoth’s fleet set upon the abandoned ships and plundered and burned them all.  They then returned to their hidden harbour to divide the spoils.  Earl Brihtric and his men had a humiliating walk back to Sandwich and they took all the new ships that were patrolling the river and they rowed them back up the Thames to London.  The Earl claimed that the ships were unseaworthy and that they should be retired before the Vikings found out that they had been built in the first place.

When Queen Emma heard the result of her husband’s folly, she returned to London and demanded that her ships be taken back to Sandwich to protect the Thames from Vikings.  She warned all the naval commanders and all the Earls that the ships were, under no circumstances, to be taken out to sea and were to remain on the river protecting the Thames and London.  Even King Athelred withered before her anger and the ships sailed back down the Thames with her as she returned to Southampton with her children.

In Ipswich, Jarl Thorkell heard about the new Anglish ships upon the Thames and he decided to raid there.  In August, he took five thousand Jomsviking warriors in a hundred Viking longships and they sailed south along the coast and into the mouth of the Thames and he found eighty of the new large Anglish ships waiting in the river for him so, he attacked them.  The Viking ships were much more maneuverable than the English ships but the English had catapults mounted on their decks and they flung huge stones down upon the lower longships as they rowed between the larger ships and tried to attack them.  Had Thorkell been planning an attack on London, he would have brought scaling ladders with him, but he had planned on attacking ships so he’d left the ladders in Ipswich.  He was surprised to find this new use for ladders for he had never seen ships so tall.  Even the Long Serpent he had seen at the Battle of Svolder wasn’t as tall as these new large Anglish ships.  When he took his ship alongside an Anglish one, they protected themselves from a shower of arrows with their shields, but the Anglish began dropping huge stones on them and one Anglishman even dropped an iron anvil and it fell between the shields and punched a hole in the bottom of his ship.  Thorkell led his ships up the River Stour where the larger Anglish ships could not follow and they beached their damaged ships and sacked the town of Sandwich.  They then marched west to the walled city of Canterbury and laid siege there, but the Earl of Canterbury paid them three thousand pounds of silver to leave East Kent so, they marched west along the coast re-plundering the towns that Earl Wulnoth had just plundered a few months earlier and, when they approached Portsmouth, Queen Emma went to Wight and asked Jarl Eirik for help.  Jarl Eirik went to Portsmouth with his five thousand Vikings and he told Jarl Thorkell and his five thousand Jomsvikings that they would have to keep the peace.  Jarl Thorkell told Jarl Eirik that the Anglish had destroyed his ships with their new large ships and that he was going to make them pay and he as much told Eirik to fock off and mind his own business before leading his Jomsvikings away to the north for an attack upon London.

There were more new large Anglish ships protecting London so, Jarl Thorkell marched his army upstream and they forded the Thames and came back down against the city but they had no ladders and siege equipment with which to challenge the fine upgraded Roman walls of London so, they raided and plundered towards Oxford but then moved south again.  Meanwhile, the fyrds of London refused to leave their city and pursue the Jomsvikings so, King Athelred ordered that an army of citizens be raised to go after them.

When King Sweyn got back from Baghdad, all hell had broken loose in Angleland.  London was under attack and the surrounding countryside was being ravaged.  Sweyn assured Emma that there was only so much he could do, as the Jomsvikings were an independent brotherhood of knights and were not answerable to the Danes or the Norwegians.

“They even attacked me once,” he told her as they slept together on Wight.  “I told you about the goddesses Thorgerder Helgibruder and Irpa before,” Sweyn reminded her.

“Oh yes,” she said.  “I remember Irpa and her gift to you.”

“Well it took my Hraes’ forces and Jarl Eirik’s Norwegians and both the goddesses to defeat the Jomsvikings so, if I were Athelred, I’d try to make peace with them.”

But Athelred didn’t make peace with Thorkell and the Jomsvikings attacked and burned Oxford before retiring back to their ships in Sandwich for the winter.  Queen Emma shut down her cathedral construction for the season and returned to London with her children and Sweyn left his mobile legion on Wight under the command of Gudmund with orders to keep the peace around Southampton and to control Thorkell if he got a chance.  Then Sweyn and Eirik went to Ipswich and gathered up Princess Gyda and their children and Eirik left his five thousand Vikings in Ipswich to guard Gyda’s kingdom from both Athelred and Thorkell.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

“A.D. 1009.  This year were the ships ready, that we before spoke

about; and there were so many of them as never were in England

before, in any king’s days, as books tell us.  And they were all

transported together to Sandwich; that they should lie there, and

defend this land against any out-force.  But we have not yet had

the prosperity and the honour, that the naval armament should be

useful to this land, any more than it often before was.  It was

at this same time, or a little earlier, that Brihtric, brother of

Alderman Edric, bewrayed Wulnoth, the South-Saxon knight, father

of Earl Godwin, to the king; and he went into exile, and enticed

the navy, till he had with him twenty ships; with which he

plundered everywhere by the south coast, and wrought every kind

of mischief.  When it was told the navy that they might easily

seize him, if they would look about them, then took Brihtric with

him eighty ships; and thought that he should acquire for himself

much reputation, by getting Wulnoth into his hands alive or dead.

But, whilst they were proceeding thitherward, there came such a

wind against them, as no man remembered before; which beat and

tossed the ships, and drove them aground; whereupon Wulnoth soon

came, and burned them.  When this was known to the remaining

ships, where the king was, how the others fared, it was then as

if all were lost.  The king went home, with the aldermen and the

nobility; and thus lightly did they forsake the ships; whilst the

men that were in them rowed them back to London.  Thus lightly

did they suffer the labour of all the people to be in vain; nor

was the terror lessened, as all England hoped.  When this naval

expedition was thus ended, then came, soon after Lammas, the

formidable army of the enemy, called Thurkill’s army, to

Sandwich; and soon they bent their march to Canterbury; which

city they would quickly have stormed, had they not rather desired

peace; and all the men of East-Kent made peace with the army, and

gave them 3,000 pounds for security.  The army soon after that

went about till they came to the Isle of Wight; and everywhere in

Sussex, and in Hampshire, and also in Berkshire, they plundered

and burned, as THEIR CUSTOM IS.  Then ordered the king to

summon out all the population, that men might hold firm against

them on every side; but nevertheless they marched as they

pleased.  On one occasion the king had begun his march before

them, as they proceeded to their ships, and all the people were

ready to fall upon them; but the plan was then frustrated through

Alderman Edric, AS IT EVER IS STILL.  Then after Martinmas they

went back again to Kent, and chose their winter-quarters on the

Thames; obtaining their provisions from Essex, and from the

shires that were next, on both sides of the Thames.  And oft they

fought against the city of London; but glory be to God, that it

yet standeth firm: and they ever there met with ill fare.  Then

after midwinter took they an excursion up through Chiltern,

and so to Oxford; which city they burned, and plundered on both

sides of the Thames to their ships.  Being fore-warned that there

was an army gathered against them at London, they went over at

Staines; and thus were they in motion all the winter, and in

spring, appeared again in Kent, and repaired their ships.

(1010)  In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to the Isle of Wight in Angleland where he had left his Danish mobile legion over the winter and with him he brought his Danish cataphract legion and he brought his son, Prince Valdamar, who brought his Kievan mobile legion and his Kievan cataphract legion and they met Jarl Eirik, who brought another five thousand Vikings with him besides the five thousand he had left in Ipswich over the winter.  He left Princess Gyda and the children in Lade as this promised to be an interesting summer.

Over Yulefest, King Sweyn had learned from Jarl Sigvald that Thorkell had sent out a call for more Jomsvikings to join him in Angleland and thousands had sailed off from Jom for prospects of women and plunder.  When Queen Emma returned to Wight to get her quarry back up and running, Sweyn told her that the Jomsviking problem had just gotten worse and he brought legions to help keep the peace.  They returned to Southampton together when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s silver tribute.  King Sweyn warned the Ealdormen of London about the Jomsviking threat as he accepted the forty eight thousand pounds of silver in tribute and he gave them peace with the Danes.  When they returned to London, Sweyn took the silver back to Wight with him and Emma settled into her palace in the city square.

The Jomsviking army had spent the winter in Kent and the town of Sandwich, where they repaired their ships.  Then they sailed north to Ipswich and found that an army of five thousand Vikings occupied the town under the command of Jarl Eirik and he met with Jarl Thorkell and sent them onward to Cambridge to attack Earl Ulfkytel, so they sailed up the River Stour.  Additional Jomsvikings had joined Thorkell ‘the Tall’ from Jomsborg over the winter and King Sweyn had brought more back to Angleland with him in the early spring before collecting his tribute to keep the peace once more and had then returned to Denmark to lead the spring merchant fleet east to Baghdad.  But he stopped in at Ipswich on his way out to collect the latest intel from his spies in London and he’d left some final instructions with Jarl Eirik to pass onto Jarl Thorkell.  The Jomsvikings rowed up the Stour as far as they could then left their ships in the shallows under guard and marched across Anglia towards the city of Cambridge and the people of East Anglia fled before the army.

The London Exeyes officers had sent word to Ipswich that Earl Ulfkytel had gathered his Norwich fyrd and was marching south to fight the Jomsvikings, stopping in Cambridgeshire to collect additional fyrds.  Volunteer foot soldiers had even marched out from London to follow the brave earl who had gained a reputation for courage when he had fought hard with Vikings in Thetford a few years earlier.  Earl Ulfkytel had battled hard against Vikings and survived so, how tough could Jomsvikings out of Wendland possibly be?  They were soon to find out.  They met them just south of Cambridge in an open field that Jom officers had marked out with hazel poles in the Aesir fashion.  And the hazel poles caused many an Anglish soldier’s buttocks to clench because they had come to know the meaning of those long hard rods.

There were no horse at the battle and very few archers.  Only a few Anglish officers were mounted and they were well behind their shieldwall when the Lindenwood crashed.  The Norwich fyrds held the center with the earl and his officers behind them and the Cambridge fyrds held the left and the Londoners the right.  Jomsvikings, and only Jomsvikings, faced them all and they were six ranks deep and howling like wild beasts.  The Jom warriors soon broke up their own shieldwall and berserks in their ranks came out from behind shields and used two hander swords and great pole axes to shatter the shield wall of the Anglish and the battle broke into single combats and small milling group combats and the Jomsvikings were soon slaughtering the Angles and the Saxons and Jarl Thorkell and his Jom officers were running around saving Anglish lives and taking surrenders.  They were under orders from King Sweyn to follow the Roman rules of war and plunder; the Hraes’ slavers needed men for the eunuch armies of the east, and the Anglo-Saxon warriors commanded the highest prices.  The Danes would pay the Joms dearly for captives properly ransomed and Sweyn promised pain to those who didn’t follow Roman law.  The berserks could not be stopped, but the regular troops were reined in and began forcing captives to take a knee and then bent them over their shields even as the berserks raged on and drove the Anglish from the fields.

It was Easter when King Athelred’s cousin, Athelstan fell on the right flank and Ealdorman Oswy and his son, and Earl Wulfric, son of Lord Leofwin, and Earl Edwy, brother of Earl Efy, and many other good lords and thanes fell with him on the London flank, and a great multitude of the people of both Norwich and Cambridge fell in the center and on the left flank.  Thurkytel Myrehead was first to break and run before the brutal berserk assault and many did likewise and Earl Ulfkytel led his men from the field in an organized flight that saved lives and he furthered his reputation by putting his horse between the wild berserks and his fleeing forces and his officers did likewise as they followed behind him and many lives were saved by doing this.  The men that fled the field were open game to be killed, but the Jomsvikings had no horsemen to chase them down with so, the fleeing Anglish escaped off into the fens and fled back to London.  Those that surrendered within the hazel poles were spared their lives but were taken from behind by two or three warriors in a row and then an ear was notched in the marking of their particular sponsor and half the men were enslaved and the other half set free under conditions of surrender.  They could no longer take up arms against Vikings, Jom or otherwise, and would be twice beheaded if found on a battlefield with notched ear.

The notching of captives’ ears closely followed the markings used by the Hraes’ slavers that followed them to denote castrations to be meted out for the eunuch armies, gonadal castration for single notched captives and full castration with six inches of member lost for double notched troublemakers or ,often, those twice captured.  For a full grown adult male, gonadal castration usually allowed the male to still have an erection and perform coitus and only reproductive capacity was lost, but with full castration and the loss of six inches, even the well endowed were impaired, because it was always the best six inches that were lost.  Fortunately, for those less endowed, it was ancient Roman law, and Roman numerals had never included the mathematical concepts of zero and negative numbers that were being discovered by the mathematicians of India and had become part of the Indian and Arabic numerals that were displacing the old Roman system.

The Jomsvikings took control of all of East Anglia, raping and plundering as they went, and they soon found horses for themselves and rode about all the area, occupying towns and plundering them in the Roman fashion and always behind them followed the slaver ships, up the riverways that served the towns; and the Jomsvikings bivouacked in the towns for weeks at a time, locking up the husbands and sleeping with their wives and daughters in a most unchristian fashion.  They even rode out into the wild fens, killing men and slaughtering cattle as if they were still after the fleeing fyrds of Ulfkytel.  For three full months they had their way with East Anglia, then, as fall approached, they began plundering in earnest.  The slavers warned them that King Sweyn would soon be back from Baghdad and the slave schools of Kiev would need to be filled in the fall so that slaves could be trained and conditioned in keeping with Hraes’ high standards over the long Hraes’ winter.  The Jomsvikings sacked and plundered the city of Cambridge and enslaved half the populace and offered ransoms and then handed the poor over to the slavers for silver kufas of Baghdad.  They then headed north and sacked and plundered Thetford while their ships were being brought north into the Wash and down the River Great Ouse and then the Little Ouse to the town, and the whole week they awaited their ships they locked up and tormented the husbands while they ravaged the women of Thetford.  They had hoped to find a mint in the town, but it had been moved to London, so, they enslaved half the populace without ransom and burned the town when they left.

They returned with their ships to the River Great Ouse and sailed west into Oxfordshire and into Buckinghamshire and along the Ouse until they came to Bedford and sacked and plundered the town in the Roman fashion and on to Temsford, where they did the same, always burning as they went.  Then they returned to their ships with their spoil, which they apportioned out to the ship crews.

The London fyrds again refused King Athelred’s request that they go out of London and assist the surrounding cities and towns, but the Londoners were still missing many of the volunteers they had sent out in the spring to fight the Jomsvikings so, their refusal was warranted.  So the king raised an army of his own and when the king should have taken it out to meet the Jomsvikings as they went north, then the king took his army south, and when they were in the east, then the king took his army to the west; and when they were in the south, then was the army in the north.  The privy council was summoned by the king to advise him how they might defend the country, but whatever was advised, was soon revised until nothing at all was accomplished.  Queen Emma was stuck in London watching this going on and people were soon coming to her for help, but King Athelred would not let her and the children leave London, for the whole country beyond was unsafe, so, Emma left the children and took her flagship south to the Isle of Wight and visited Prince Valdamar, who was keeping the peace there.  “I was at the Battle of Hjorungavagr with my father,” Valdamar told her, “and the Jomsvikings very nearly succeeded in killing us both!”

“Is there nothing you can do to help?” Emma pleaded.

“Father instructed me to protect Southampton and Portsmouth for you, not the whole of Angleland.  These Jomsvikings are crazy.  I don’t like them and, quite frankly, they scare the shit out of me!”

“I’ll go with you!” Emma offered and she gave him her seductively pleading save all Frankia look.  So, they sailed halfway around Angleland to the Wash and sailed up the River Nene with a Hraes’ warfleet of Kievan cataphract knights and they arrived in Northampton just before the Jomsvikings were about to attack it after marching a short distance from the River Ouse.

Queen Emma introduced Prince Valdamar to Lady Aelfhelm of York and her daughter, Aelfgifu of Northampton.  Valdamar saw Aelfgifu and he fell in love with her.  She had long dirty blonde hair and fine blue eyes, a button nose and red velvet lips and her cheekbones were regal and her cheeks flushed red when she met the prince.  She was quite old to be unmarried, about twenty, Valdy guessed, almost half his age, and she was tall and slender and she moved in a manner that was both royal and seductive.  She moved a lot like Queen Emma, he realised.

Prince Valdamar and Lady Aelfhelm went out together to address the Jomsvikings, while Emma and Aelfgifu stayed in the walled city.  “My city’s called Southampton!” Emma told Aelfgifu.  “And yours is Northampton.  Perhaps they could be sister cities?”

“I heard that your Anglish name is also Aelfgifu,” Aelfgifu said, “and that Emma is your Norman name, my queen.  Perhaps we could be sisters in sister cities?”

“I’d like that,” Emma said and then they watched from the wall as they started talking below.

Prince Valdamar had never met Jarl Thorkell ‘the Tall’, but he remembered seeing him at the Battle of Hjorungavagr, and he took an instant dislike toward him.  He told Thorkell that he had come to Northampton to ask for Princess Aelfgifu of Northampton’s hand in marriage and that he felt he should stand up for the city of his new possible wife to be and he asked Thorkell to stand down.

Jarl Thorkell had never met Prince Valdamar either, but he remembered seeing him at the Battle of Hjorungavagr, standing tall on the high deck of a Roman dromon as he had fled the battle with his older brother, Sigvald, and he told Valdy that he wished him success in his marital conquest and that his request would be followed to help him achieve that end.  And the Jomsvikings stood down and returned to their ships to divide up their plunder.

Prince Valdamar told Lady Aelfhelm that the city would be fine and as they walked back to the main gates the lady asked him if he was serious about wishing to ask for the hand of her daughter.

“I was trying to think up a quick reason for me to want Jarl Thorkell to not attack your city,” Valdamar explained and, as they walked inside he saw Aelfgifu again, as she and Emma were walking towards them, “and I thought that the fact I have just fallen in love with your daughter might be a good one, so, yes, I wish your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

“You would have to convert to Christianity,” the lady postulated.

“I am a Christian,” Valdamar said.  “I have officially converted my whole country to Christianity,” Valdy added, but he didn’t add that it was in order to marry a Roman Porphyrogennetos Princess.

So, the two discussed Aelfgifu’s dowery and Lady Aelfhelm offered to provide her with all their holdings in Northampton and Prince Valdamar accepted this and it was decided that the Prince and Princess should be married so, Valdy asked Queen Emma to witness for him as he asked Princess Aelfgifu for her hand in marriage from her parent.  Emma began to tear up as though Valdy was her own son, even though he was a decade older than she, and then said, “This is so romantic, so Frankish, of course I will!” and she kissed Valdy on the mouth warmly.  Lady Aelfhelm invited Prince Valdamar and his retinue to a feast and when Queen Emma and Prince Valdamar entered the great hall of the palace of Northampton they went to the head table and stood before the lady and Princesses Aelfgifu and her sister, Aelfrowana, and Emma asked for Aelfgifu’s hand on Valdamar’s behalf.  Princess Aelfgifu looked over at her mother and then looked at Prince Valdamar and said yes.  The feast then became an engagement celebration.

Valdamar and Aelfgifu talked together all evening and decided to get married as soon as possible so, the next day they talked to the clergy in Northampton and they learned that, although Valdamar was Christian, he was the wrong type of Christian.  There was a growing schism between Latin Christians and Orthodox Christians and that schism had grown an unfathomable distance.  The Bishop of Northampton told the couple that it would have been better had Valdamar still been Aesir or even Heathen because there was a path to follow for conversion to Christianity from those religions, but from Orthodox to Latin, that would be through uncharted waters and there was no telling how long that would take.  And there was the question of Prince Valdamar’s seven hundred and some Christian and Aesir wives back in Hraes’.

Valdamar grew impatient and offered to buy Princess Aelfgifu, but was told by Lady Aelfhelm that such things were not possible with free persons in Angleland.  Valdamar was going to tell her that his father’s slaver knars were full of the free Anglish that had thought, only days prior to their capture, that such things were not possible, but he kept his mouth shut and packed up to leave Northampton.  As they were sailing back to Southampton and the Isle of Wight, Valdamar spotted some tall masts behind a hidden cove along the south coast.  He made a mental note of it and dropped Queen Emma off at Southampton and carried on to Wight.  By then, his father was back from Baghdad.

“I should never have brought Jarl Thorkell to Angleland,” Sweyn told his son, as he was updated on the unchecked raiding of the Jomsvikings all summer.  “I knew they might be hard to control, but I had no idea they would be this much trouble.”

“Also, I saw some tall masts behind a cove today,” Valdamar continued, “and they looked similar to the double tall masts of the new Anglish ships on the Thames.  It may be the pirate Earl Wulnoth.”  So, they decided to prepare a warfleet to take back east and investigate.

The next day, Sweyn and Valdamar assembled a small warfleet and they took it east along the south coast of Angleland and when they got to the area that Valdy had spotted the dual masts off behind some hills, there was nothing there.  So, they kept sailing until they found a river mouth and then sailed up into it and discovered a bay hidden in behind a promontory.  They sailed into the bay and found twenty of the new Anglish ships anchored together along the north shore of the bay.

“Why couldn’t we see the masts today?” Valdy asked, and Sweyn answered, “Some of the ships must have been anchored on the south side of the bay and the masts would then be visible over the hilltops.  Somebody focked up!”  The Hraes’ warfleet swept into the bay and there were only a few guards posted on each ship and the rest of the Anglish forces were on land and could only watch as the Danes took possession of the ships.  They threw lasso ropes up around the castellations of the ship rails and scaled up the ropes as the Anglish sailors dove from the decks into the waters far below.

“Take some boats and go after them,” Sweyn shouted to the marines aboard the Hraes’ ships.

“Just let them go,” Valdy suggested.

“Most of them can’t swim!” Sweyn said, looking between the castellations.  “They’re focking drowning!”  He directed some eight oared boats that were being launched from their warships.  “Just take them to shore and throw them onto the beach!” Sweyn shouted.  “And give them shields!  The Anglish are just as likely to shoot them full of arrows from land as they are us!”

Valdamar was already pacing out the deck of the ship and was going up a staircase to the fore quarterdeck.  “This is almost a full deck taller than the Long Serpent,” Sweyn shouted up to him.  “It’s a fine battle platform to fight from!”  Then he found a deck hatch, opened it, and went down into the ship.  There was a full deck under the top deck and he took another staircase into the belly of the beast.  “This is a house!” he said, as Valdy joined him below deck.  “And I’ve seen it before.”  He bent himself over fully and he looked out between his legs and he saw Queen Emma’s third floor of her palace and it’s open beamed ceiling.  Valdamar followed his father’s lead and bent over as well.  “It’s Queen Emma’s palace!” Valdamar shouted.  “It’s her whole focking third floor!  Roof and all!”

“Emma!  Emma!  Emma!  Emma!’ Sweyn said, sitting down on the deck stairs.  “Fock the gods, but you have a gorgeous mind!”

“Emma did this?” Valdy asked, sitting down beside his father, trying to absorb it all.

“Emma did it all!  She designed and built the whole new focking Anglish navy!  The one that kicked the Jomsviking asses last year!”

“Emma did that,” Valdy half said, half asked.

“She used her Portsmouth designers to come up with these tall ships and they built them upside down along the Thames all winter.  These were the longhalls that my Exeyes officers saw being built on the banks of the river.  When they went back to London in the spring, the longhalls were all gone.  They thought they had all been burned or something,” and Sweyn leaned over and looked at the belly of the beast upside down once more.  “It’s a focking house!”

When they got above deck again, Sweyn could see that all the Anglish sailors had been saved and ferried to shore and no arrows appeared to have been loosed.  “What shall we do with the ships?” Valdy asked.

“Burn them!” Sweyn said.  “Burn them all!  This is the beginning of the end for our Viking ships.  The Long Serpent was about as big as our straked shell ships can get.  These are already larger, and this is just the beginning for this post and beam design.”

Valdamar shouted out orders to the other occupied ships.  “Burn them!” he shouted.  “Burn them all!”

Sweyn and Valdamar used the chemical matches that Prince Hraerik had given them and they set their two mast ship alight.  “We should get back,” Sweyn told Valdamar.  “I have to see Emma!”

“Are you going to ask her about the ships?”

“No.  I’m going to fock her.  I want to fock her so bad right now, I can taste her!”

Valdy knew what that felt like and on the way back he told his father about Princess Aelfgifu.

While King Sweyn was in Southampton working on the new Hraes’ store with Queen Emma, word came to the fort on Wight that the Jomsvikings had taken up fall raiding again and had ravaged Oxfordshire, then Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and Hertfordshire, finally reaching and sacking Northampton.  They were now working their way back south so, Valdy sent a messenger into Southampton with the news.  When they got the news at the Hraes’ palace, Sweyn returned to Wight right away and Queen Emma showed up in her flagship a respectable time later.  “Any news on Princess Aelfgifu?” Emma asked.  “I’m here officially to arrange for her ransom, if possible.”

“She was taken by the Jomsvikings!” Valdamar said, pacing the longhall.

Sweyn gave Emma some wine, then kissed her quickly.  “I’ve sent out heavy cavalry to look for them,” Sweyn told her as he escorted her to his highseat.  She sat down and took a large draft of wine.  “They won’t attack Southampton, will they?”

“I have heavy cavalry patrolling the whole area,” Sweyn reassured her.  “They wouldn’t dare for they know they’d answer to me for it!”  Emma was reassured and put her hand into Sweyn’s.  “All we can do is wait.”

A few days later, a heavy cavalry patrol returned to Wight with some Jomsvikings and their horses were unloaded in the harbour and they all rode up to the fort and entered.  It was Jarl Thorkell and he had Princess Aelfgifu with him.

“I brought her as a gift for Prince Valdamar,” Thorkell ‘the Tall’ explained.  “We fought our way up to Northampton for her.  We had heard that Prince Valdamar’s marriage proposal was refused, so, we took her captive, offered her up for ransom, and when Lady Aelfhelm refused to ransom her we enslaved her in Prince Valdamar’s name.  She is yours my prince,” Thorkell said, subserviently.  He released Aelfgifu and she ran to Valdamar’s highseat and lept into his lap and buried her head into his chest.

“We’ll have you returned to your mother,” Valdy told her, hugging her.

“No,” she said.  “I wish to stay here with you and so does my mother.  That’s why she refused ransom.  I wish to marry you.”

“I took the liberty of having Princess Aelfgifu’s virginity confirmed by a healer in Northampton,” Jarl Thorkell declared.  “The Anglish seem to put great stock in that.  The physician warned me that the husband should best be well endowed, as she is no deer woman.”

“Then this will be a marriage truly made in heaven,” King Sweyn said, laughing, “for the boy takes after his old man in that regard!”

Prince Valdamar and Princess Aelfgifu were married that evening in the Aesir fashion and they held each other’s hands and looked into each other’s eyes and both said publicly and in front of witnesses, “I marry you!  I marry you!  I marry you!” and they kissed and they were married.  Prince Valdamar had been pining for his Aelfgifu for over a month so, he wasted no time in taking her to his master suite and introducing her to some of his other wives.

Jarl Thorkell and his Jomsviking officers were given their own longhall to stay in and Exeyes officers monitored their every move within the fort.  Sweyn would have entertained the Jomsvikings but he preferred to entertain Emma in his suite instead and he had future plans for Jarl Thorkell and did not want his relationship with Emma compromised in any way.  He had always held her in great esteem and respect but now their liaison had grown to where he now worshipped the ground she walked upon.

“I want the full Irpa tonight,” she told Sweyn.  They could hear Princess Aelfgifu moaning in ecstasy in the bedroom next to theirs.  They knew it was her because they were familiar with the moans of Prince Valdamar’s other wives and this sound was new, and long, and drawn out.  “I can’t fully control the gift Irpa gave me,” Sweyn explained.  “But I can!” Emma said, pushing Sweyn’s naked body back upon the bed and taking his lingam into her mouth.  She sucked hard on it and it swelled up quickly and got very large and then she spun around and got her yoni positioned over his face and he reciprocated and this caused him to grow even larger until she judged it to be a full Irpa when her mouth could no longer encompass it and she spun about again and began mounting it.  She had to take her time and work her way down upon it and then she began stroking it with her body in short undulations at first, growing longer as she adjusted to the size of it and grew moist from the feel of it and she began moaning, just after the princess next door had ceased her moaning, and Emma rode Sweyn’s steed for a long time, just relaxing and enjoying it because it was too large to ride it any harder.  Finally, it dropped in size a bit and she began to ride it harder and faster and he got excited and it went back up in size and she had to slow her gait and wait till it dropped two sizes and then she sped up and he went up a size but she could handle it and she maintained her speed and was soon dripping sweat and moaning and losing focus in her eyes and she had the biggest orgasm she had ever had in her life and she cried out and Sweyn exploded inside her and she lost all focus altogether and the room began spinning and she collapsed onto Sweyn and she sighed, “My!  Oh, my!  Oh my!  Oh, my!”, but Sweyn was still flowing inside her and he rolled on top of her and kept thrusting into her and he cried, “Emma!  Emma!  Emma!  Emma!” and she felt him erupt inside her each time he cried out her name and then he was done.  He rolled off to one side but hugged her close and stayed inside her.

“Oh god, I think they might have heard us!” Emma whispered into Sweyn’s ear.

“You think so?”  Sweyn said, exhausted.  “Any louder and the Jomsvikings three halls down would have heard us!”

“Something’s different about you, Sweyn,” she said.  “You’ve been treating me differently, like a queen, like your queen.”

“What do you mean?”

“When we went to Paris together and I pulled you into my room, You were different.”

“I was playing your bodyguard,” Sweyn said.  “I think it carried over onto the bed.”

“That’s what I thought,” Emma agreed, “but then in Southampton, when we were working on the store together, you’d ask questions and you learned what I was telling you.  You didn’t just listen, you understood, every nuance, every consideration.  I felt…respected.”

“You have a fine mind, Emma.  I’ve always been deeply in love with your body, but now I’ve fallen even more in love with your mind.  I love the way you think, I love the way you act, I love the way you look, the way you walk, the way you talk…I love you, Emma, and it’s the full Irpa!”  He looked into her eyes and she could see that he was dead serious.

“I love you, too, Sweyn!  But I’m married.  I’m the queen of England.”

Sweyn was going to say that he was the king of Denmark and leader of the Hraes’, but Emma was right.  He was different now.  “Do you really love me?” he asked instead.

“Yes, I really, really love you!  How could we make love together like this if we didn’t love each other?  I’ve never come so hard in my life!  Just thinking about it now is making me come a little,” and she hugged Sweyn and breathed, “my, oh my, oh my oh my.”

“I just want you to know how much I love you and respect you,” Sweyn said.  “You’ll be going back to Southampton in the morning and then back to London for the season and I won’t see you for a while and you’re right to think I have changed and now you know why.”

“Thank you, Sweyn,” Emma said.  “That is so intense.  So was the sex.  Will you sleep inside me tonight?” 

The next morning, Sweyn woke up and Emma watched him go into the dressing room and come back out with a wash basin.  He put it on the bed and he pulled the silk sheets off of her naked body and he began washing her and he began massaging her.

“I’d prefer not to have sex if that is alright with you,” he told her.  “I want to remember the sex we had last night.  When I think about it, I flow a little.  My cock will be soft, but it will still flow a bit of come.”

“Me too!” Emma said.  “I’m enjoying this!”  And Sweyn began massaging her feet.

After Emma had sailed off to Southampton, Sweyn had lunch with his son.  “I hope your nuptials went well last night,” he began.  “It sounded like they did.”

“Your liaison sounded like it went well too!” Valdy replied.  “There was daub dust floating down from the ceiling,” he joked.

“I need your advice and support,” Sweyn said.  Valdamar nodded.  “I want to attack Angleland next year!”

“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?”

“No,” Sweyn answered.  “I’ve been milking Angleland for slaves for the past decade or so.  Slaves and plunder.  But things have changed.”

“It’s Queen Emma, isn’t it!”

“What about Queen Emma?”

“You love her!  When we went up to Northampton together, I saw a side of her that I didn’t know existed.”

“You went to Northampton with her?”

“Only as Queen Emma!” Valdy said, putting his hands up.  “We didn’t even hold hands!  She needed my help.  The Jomsvikings were raiding up towards Northampton and she came to me from Southampton carrying a message from the northern city pleading for her help.  Lady Aelfhelm was in charge of the city’s defence, and her two daughters.  Queen Emma pleaded with me to help her help them and she used that pleading look with her pretty blue eyes and, I know you said to defend Southampton and area only, but I couldn’t say no.”

“I know what you mean,” Sweyn said and he pictured her blue eyes and he came a little in his shorts.  “Go on!”

“We sailed there but the last few miles the river grew too shallow for our Hraes’ ships so I took thirty of my best men aboard Queen Emma’s little flagship and we carried on to Northampton while the rest of my men marched.  When I saw Princess Aelfgifu with her mother, I fell in love, right then, right there.  When Thorkell came to the city, Lady Aelfhelm and I went to talk with him and I didn’t have enough men to stop him so, I tried to think of a reason that might stop him and I told him I was there to ask for the hand of Princess Aelfgifu and I asked him not to attack the city because that would ruin my chances of getting a positive response.  So, believe it or not, he agreed not to attack the city.  When I took the lady back into her city, I saw Princess Aelfgifu standing with Queen Emma and I knew that I loved her.  I was done for!  I asked Queen Emma to ask for her hand on my behalf and, being queen of England and all, of course Aelfgifu said yes!

“But then the focking Christian church got involved and there’s a schism growing between the Latin and Orthodox faiths and they said it would be better if I was Aesir and converting so, I left.  I guess Jarl Thorkell heard what happened and he went back there and kidnapped Princess Aelfgifu and I guess I owe him for that, and for last night!  Wow, was that ever something!”

“I know what you mean,” Sweyn said, and he leaked a bit in his shorts again.  “I owe his older brother, Jarl Sigvald.  He hooked me up with Princess Gunhild of Wendland.”

“I remember that!  Didn’t he kidnap you or something?”

“He wanted to marry Gunhild’s sister, Astrid, so, he arranged for me to meet Gunhild, whether I wanted to or not.  I saw her and decided I wanted to.  We got married at the same time and then I took Sigvald’s submission for Hjorungavagr and he became my man.”

“I heard something about that, too.  Astrid brought him to you on a leash and you bent him over his shield?”

“He took a knee for me and then I bent him over and he became my man.”

“Okay,” Valdy said and he paused for a second.  “Is that why Thorkell got Princess Aelfgifu for me?”

“Jarl Thorkell got Princess Aelfgifu for you and also helped himself to Princess Aelfrowana and he married her on his way back here.  He couldn’t wait, so, like Sigvald and me, you two are brothers-in-law.”

“Am I going to have to take Thorkell’s submission for Hjorungavagr?” Valdamar asked and he gulped a little.

“Thorkell’s my man too,” Sweyn said.  Jarl Eirik and I took his submission in Ipswich when we hired him.  He’s been working under my orders all along.”

“All the raiding he’s been doing?  It was for you?”

“The Anglish insisted on giving me silver to keep the peace so, I still needed slaves and I wanted to hire a Jomsviking to replace Jarl Pallig.  He’s not a Dane, so, he’s not under my command, except for Hjorungavagr.  He fled with Sigvald and still owed me his submission.  So, he’s been raiding on my behalf.  I have to meet with him this afternoon and give him new instructions if we’re going to attack Angleland.”

“Of course I’ll help you and support you,” Valdy said.  “Anything you ask of me will be done to the best of my ability.  Better than the best of my abilities!”

“Good!” Sweyn said.  “Because after we’ve conquered Angleland, we’re attacking Rome!”

“Rome?” Valdy asked and his jaw dropped open.

“Yes, Rome!  I ran out of men and money the last time I attacked them.  I’ve got the gold with Prince Hraerik in Tmutorokan, but I need the men.  We need Angleland’s fyrds.  We have to conquer Angleland without killing all her warriors.  Jarl Thorkell is going to help with that.”

“Prince Hraerik is with you on this?”

“He had reservations.  He claimed he saw the Roman Emperors poisoning me after I’d taken the throne with them so, Svia suggested I just kill the Emperors first.  Prince Hraerik said killing them seemed to stop them from poisoning me but he still worried about it so, I’ll kill some Armenians as well.”

“Princess Svia’s in on this too?”

“Yes.  We’ve been working on this since I lost the Battle of Dorostolon, before you were born.”

“She’s my wife,” Valdy complained.

“Yes, but she’s still my wife and she was my wife first!  Besides, you have Aelfgifu now!”

“True,” Valdy said.  “But Svia’s still the most beautiful woman in the world.  And she’s still hot.”

“Grandfather didn’t want to go through with this, but there’s been a complication in a project he’s been working on and we all have to make sacrifices.”

“What’s Prince Hraerik been up to?”

“He’s been planning a hit on a very evil man a few hundred years in the future.  He’s trying to stop the man from taking over the whole world.”

“Gramps is pretty old, you know.  I know he’s been outliving everybody around him, but is he going to live long enough to kill someone a few hundred years in the future?”

“That’s where it gets complicated.  He’s planning on killing the man after he’s dead.”

“After he’s dead?  How the fock’s he going to do that?”

“The ghost of Princess Blaeja of York is working with him on it.  She’s probably related to your Princess Aelfgifu somehow.  They’ve got holdings in York.”

“What the fock have you guys been up to?” Valdamar asked.

“It’s not me,” Sweyn said, holding up his hands.  “Hraerik and this ghost of Princess Blaeja are trying to save the world!”

“How do you know he’s not, you know, old and losing it a bit?”

“The ghost of Princess Blaeja told him some things about the Battle of Hjorungavagr that Hraerik couldn’t have possibly known, like Thorgerder and Irpa.  She told him we would have lost the battle without both goddesses so, Jarl Haakon’s sacrifice was warranted.”

“Anybody could say that!”

“The ghost told him things about my taking Sigvald’s submission.”

“You mean like the leash?”

“We did things to him that night that I’ll never tell anybody about and he knew all about them.  He told me that when I took Sigvald up the ass and made him my man it completed the porcine curse of Hraegunar Lothbrok.  You know that one, right?”

“The ‘if only my piglets knew of my plight, they would surely avenge the old boar’ thing?”

“Yes.  Prince Hraerik of Novgorod and Duke Rollo of Normandy carved the blood eagle into the back of King AElla of York and Prince Helgi Arrow Odd Hraerikson plundered his daughter, Princess Blaeja, for their parts in the killing of Hraegunar Lothbrok.  So, not to be outdone, King Ivar ‘the Boneless’, your grandfather, and Empress Helga, your grandmother, put together a plot to avenge Hraegunar posthumously so, King Ivar took back his crown of Denmark as King Harde Knute, this after losing both his legs to the Drevjane of Prince Mal of Dereva, your other grandfather…”

“Possible grandfather…” Valdy added.

“Yes, possible,” Sweyn agreed.  “Anyway, King Ivar raped and married Princess Blaeja, the grand-daughter of the ghost Princess Blaeja and he named their son King Gorm, meaning Snake, and later he returned to Kiev and had me by Helga and named me Svein, meaning Swine, the mortal enemy of the snake, and then he predicted that his swine son would kill his snake son who carried the blood of AElla in his veins as a final act of vengeance.  I lived my whole life with that albatross around my neck so, when King Gorm died, I didn’t press my claim to the throne of Denmark, partly because I was after a share of the throne of Rome, but also because I didn’t want to kill the son of the Snake King.  So, I satisfied myself by rebuilding the Nor’Way after the Romans took the Dan’Way away, but King Harald ‘Blue Tooth’ Gormson heard I was in Lade and, as you warned me, he sent the Jomsvikings to kill me.  When we won at Hjorungavagr, Jarl Sigvald fled instead of submitting to me, but he was marked by Odin as my man.  Even after King Harald had paid Jomsvikings to kill me, I was still going to spare him when I took Denmark from him.”

“You’re too kind in that regard,” Valdy interrupted.  “You should have killed him for his treachery!”

“That’s true,” Sweyn said.  “Kindness can be a weakness.  But I didn’t have to kill King Harald because one of his own men shot him in the back with a golden arrow.  So I took the throne of Denmark and all his wives and daughters with a guiltfree conscience.  Years later, when I took Jarl Sigvald’s submission, when I focked him up the ass and then took his new wife, Astrid, in front of him, I completed the curse, the death cycle, because it was Jarl Sigvald that had shot King Harald in the back, it was his golden arrow, and he was now officially my man.”

“But he’d killed Harald years before you focked him and his wife.”

“That just made it official.  Odin had marked him as my man the moment he fled the battle.  His life was made forfeit to me then.  But, had I not focked Sigvald, it wouldn’t have been official and King Ivar wouldn’t have collected his prize.”

“What was his prize?” Valdy asked

“The ghost of Blaeja told Hraerik that Odin was so impressed that he gave Ivar a seat in Valhalla.”

“But King Ivar’s our first saint!  He’s said to be in heaven with his wives, Queen Silkisif and Empress Helga!”

“Just as there were two of him in life, King Ivar ‘the Boneless’ and King Harde Knute, there are two of him in death, Saint Ivar ‘the Boneless’, now in Christian heaven, with Helga and Silkisif, and King Ivar ‘Harde Knute’ in Valhalla, killing men in battle all day and focking Valkyries all night.  Why I tried to stop that from happening, I’ll never know.”

Later that afternoon, King Sweyn met with Jarl Thorkell and told him that they would be conquering Angleland and their plans had to be updated to reflect that and they went through a number of scenarios.  Then Jarl Thorkell led his men back to Sandwich and their fleet and they overwintered there.  Jarl Eirik returned to Lade and Prince Valdamar and his wives went with King Sweyn to Denmark and then carried on to Kiev for the winter.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

“A.D. 1010.  This year came the aforesaid army, after Easter, into

East Anglia; and went up at Ipswich, marching continually till

they came where they understood Ulfcytel was with his army.  This

was on the day called the first of the Ascension of our Lord.

The East-Angles soon fled.  Cambridgeshire stood firm against

them.  There was slain Athelstan, the king’s relative, and Oswy,

and his son, and Wulfric, son of Leofwin, and Edwy, brother of

Efy, and many other good thanes, and a multitude of the people.

Thurkytel Myrehead first began the flight; and the Danes remained

masters of the field of slaughter.  There were they horsed; and

afterwards took possession of East-Anglia, where they plundered

and burned three months; and then proceeded further into the wild

fens, slaying both men and cattle, and burning throughout the

fens.  Thetford also they burned, and Cambridge; and afterwards

went back southward into the Thames; and the horsemen rode

towards the ships.  Then went they west-ward into Oxfordshire,

and thence to Buckinghamshire, and so along the Ouse till they

came to Bedford, and so forth to Temsford, always burning as they

went.  Then returned they to their ships with their spoil, which

they apportioned to the ships.  When the king’s army should have

gone out to meet them as they went up, then went they home; and

when they were in the east, then was the army detained in the

west; and when they were in the south, then was the army in the

north.  Then all the privy council were summoned before the king,

to consult how they might defend this country.  But, whatever was

advised, it stood not a month; and at length there was not a

chief that would collect an army, but each fled as he could: no

shire, moreover, would stand by another.  Before the feast-day of

St. Andrew came the enemy to Northampton, and soon burned the

town, and took as much spoil thereabout as they would; and then

returned over the Thames into Wessex, and so by Cannings-marsh,

burning all the way.  When they had gone as far as they would,

then came they by midwinter to their ships.