BOOK SIX: THE SAGA OF PRINCE VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON

THE VARANGIANS / UKRAINIANS

(THE FIRST NINE BOOKS OF SAXO’S DANISH HISTORY PER BRIAN HOWARD SEIBERT)

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BOOK SIX

THE SAGA OF PRINCE VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON
           

Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos of Constantinople

THE SAGA OF PRINCE VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON

— GRAND PRINCE VLADIMIR ‘THE GREAT’ OF KIEV –

— KING CANUTE ‘THE GREAT’ OF ENGLAND AND DENMARK —

A Novel By

Brian Howard Seibert

© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

WRITER’S UNCUT EDITION

(Contains Scenes of Violence and Sexuality Consistent with the Viking Period)

(May be Offensive to Some)

Kelowna, B.C.

2021 AD


THE VARANGIANS / UKRAINIANS – BOOK SIX

THE SAGA OF PRINCE VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON

Left Click on Chapter Title Below to GO TO Chapter. Left Click on Table of Contents to RETURN to TOC.

TABLE of CONTENTS

0.1  THE BIRTH OF VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON  (Circa 968 AD) 5

1.0 PRINCE IVAR ATTACKS PRINCE HELGI IN DEREVA  (Circa 976 AD) 25

2.0 PRINCE VALDAMAR FLEES TO LADE  (Circa 976 AD) 31

3.0 PRINCE VALDAMAR RETURNS TO KIEV  (Circa 977 AD) 41

4.0 THE RANSOMS OF THE TRYGVE’S  (Circa 978 AD) 48

5.0 THE RAPE OF HRAEGUNEDA OF POLOTSK  (Circa 978-990 AD) 65

6.0 GRAND PRINCE VALDAMAR RULES IN KIEV  (Circa 980 AD) 83

7.0 THE POLISH TOWNS OF CHERVEN  (Circa 981 AD) 89

8.0 THE REBELLION OF THE VIATICHI  (Circa 982 AD) 95

9.0 SUBDUING THE YATVINGIANS  (Circa 983 AD) 103

10.0 CONQUERING THE RADIMICHI  (Circa 984 AD) 107

11.0 THE VOLGA BULGARS  (Circa 985 AD) 110

12.0 PRELUDE TO THE BATTLE OF HJORUNGAVAGR  (Circa 986 AD) 113

13.0 THE RELIGIONS OF HRAES’  (Circa 986 AD) 142

14.0 THE BATTLE OF HJORUNGAVAGR  (Circa 986 AD) 145

15.0  THE FALL OF KING HARALD ‘BLUETOOTH’  (Circa 986 AD) 188

16.0  BYZANTINE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY WINS  (Circa 987 AD) 211

17.0  THE REVOLT OF ANATOLIA  (Circa 987 AD) 217

18.0  THE REVOLT IN ANATOLIA, PART II  (Circa 989 AD) 222

19.0  PRINCESS ANNA PORPHYROGENNETOS  (Circa 989-990 AD) 243

APP. A: VALDAMAR’SAGA ‘THE GREAT’  GLOSSARY OF TERMS.. 268

APP. B: MAP OF EASTERN EUROPE OF THE NINTH CENTURY.. 288

© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information or storage retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

The author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to the following works, upon which he has based much of his research and a great deal of his writing:

Saxo Grammaticus.  The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus.  Denmark, c.1200.  As translated by Oliver Elton, B.A. London, 1893, with consideration toward the translation by Peter Fisher.  Cambridge, 1979.

Author unknown.  Arrow-Odd:  A Medieval Novel.  Iceland, c.1200.  As translated by Paul Edwards and Hermann Palsson.  New York, 1970.

Authors unknown.  The Hrafnista Sagas.  Iceland, c.1200.  As translated by Ben Waggoner.  Lulu.com, 2012.

Author unknown.  The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise (Hervor’s Saga).  Iceland, c.1200.  As translated by Christopher Tolkien.  Oxford, 1960.

Vernadsky, George.  The Origins of Russia.  Oxford, 1959.

Pritsak, Omeljan.  The Origin of Rus’.  Cambridge, Mass., 1981.

Davidson, H.R. Ellis.  The Viking Road to Byzantium.  London, 1976.

Dunlop, D.M.  The History of the Jewish Khazars.  New York, 1967.

Author unknown.  Gautrek’s Saga.  Iceland, c.1200.  Translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards.  Middlesex, 1976.

Snorri Sturluson.  The Prose Edda.  Iceland, c.1300.  As translated by Lee Hollander, B.A. London, c. 1960.

THE HISTORY OF LEO THE DEACON Byzantine Military Expansion in the Tenth Century Introduction, translation, and annotations by Alice-Mary Talbot and Denis F. Sullivan with the assistance of George T. Dennis and Stamatina McGrath Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection Washington, D.C.

PREVIOUSLY (From Book 4, Chapter 10):

CHAPTER ZERO POINT ONE

0.1  THE BIRTH OF VALDAMAR ‘THE GREAT’ SVEINSON  (Circa 968 AD)

Back To TABLE of CONTENTS

“Hraerik came to me in a dream and I told him, ‘I don’t want to write your story,

your lying sagas anymore. You’re all slavers!  You’re all rapists!

You’re not good people at all!’

He told me he had been a slaver and that he knew what he was doing was wrong

and he was sorry for it. But he had not stopped his wife, Princess Gunwar, from starting

the freedom movement that continues to this very day…your days!

Then I understood where he was coming from.  I understood what

I was writing for and I began writing once more.”                                                                                   

Brian Howard Seibert

(967 AD)  In the fall of 966, Prince Sveinald of Kiev had received a message from Empress Theophano and the co-Emperors Nikephoros, Basil and Constantine of the Eastern Roman Empire offering him twenty thousand pounds of gold and a co-Emperorship if he would attack Bulgaria for them in the spring.  So, in early 967, the prince attacked Pereslavet and took the city for himself and by summer had conquered all of Bulgaria.  He arrived in Constantinople and stood before Emperor Nikephoros Phocas with the hand of his Princess Sviataslava in his right hand and the head of Tzar Peter of Bulgaria in a black leather bag in his left.  But before he could be crowned co-Emperor, a Pecheneg army attacked Kiev.  He rushed back to Pereslavet to gather up his legions to relieve Kiev and was about to leave, when scouts came back from the Black Sea with news that his grandfather, Prince Erik, had been spotted sailing up the Dnieper River with a war fleet with which to attack the Pechenegs.  But he’d heard that the Pecheneg army was immense so he gathered up his men anyway and set off to assist.

The report Prince Sveinald had received had been correct, for in Baghdad, Prince Erik had heard about the Pecheneg siege of Kiev so, he’d cut trading short a week and the merchant fleet headed north at as fast a pace as they could.  He sent most through Armenia and Georgia, but the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish merchants, the Vikings, he took across the quicker Euphrates Halys portage and he paid the Roman tithe for them and they sailed north across the Black Sea and straight up the Dnieper River.  The local Pechenegs portaged them around the Dnieper rapids and they were soon sailing past the eastern Pecheneg horde that had surrounded Kiev.

On the high wooden palisaded walls of Kiev, Empress Helga and Princess Malfrieda watched the warships of the Hraes’ merchant fleet coming up the Dnieper River and they thanked Odin for this blessing.  The princess was surrounded by her sons, Princes Eyfur and Helgi and she was very pregnant with her third child that the witches claimed was a boy and was destined to be named Prince Vladimir, after the Wallachian Prince Vlad ‘the Impaler’, whom his father had crushed in battle and his great-grandfather had saved from ‘death by impalement’.  The city was on the verge of starvation, so relief had arrived none too soon.

“Look!” Empress Helga gasped.  “The fleet is stopping!”

“Why, mother?” Princess Malfrieda gasped.  “Why is it stopping?”

The empress took an optical scope out of her purse and peered through it intently.  “I don’t know,” she whispered quietly so as to keep the scope steady while she answered.  “Prince Erik is being rowed to shore and he’s having words with the Pechenegs,” she added as she watched.  “Thank the gods they aren’t killing him.”  Helga was becoming fatigued keeping one eye closed while watching through the scope with the other, so she passed it to Malf.

The princess watched intently then said, “The Pecheneg leader just gave The Prince a Turkish bow!”

“What?” Empress Helga exclaimed, taking back the scope.  She got it up to her eye just in time to see Prince Erik shoot the bow towards his own fleet.  “He’s shooting at his own ship!” she exclaimed and she witnessed a most impossible shot as the arrow arced its way through the sky and hit dead center on the shieldship’s white peace shield hanging from the top of the ship’s mast.  “I didn’t know an arrow could fly that far,” she said, passing the scope back to Malf, “let alone hit a small targe at the top of a mast.”

Malfrieda watched as the shield danced at the top of the mast.  She then focused the scope upon The Prince.  “It looks like Prince Erik is gifting the Pecheneg his sword.  And his men are bringing a box up from their boat,” Malf stated.  “There must be something in it.”

“Let me see,” Helga said, and Malf passed her the scope.  “It’s the lead lined box he keeps his sword, Tyrfingr, in.  I hope he’s not giving that to the Pecheneg.  It’s dangerous!”  She saw the princess struggling to see it way across the river, so she passed her the scope.

“He’s taking it out and a Pecheneg officer just got off his horse,” she told Helga.  The young boys were now sitting at her feet playing with wooden soldiers.  Malfrieda gasped suddenly.  “The Prince just hacked a horse in half!”

“What?” Helga exclaimed, reaching for the scope, but Malf kept watching.  “He’s just run a Pecheneg officer through with Tyrfingr!  They’re going to kill him!”

Helga tore the scope away and put it up to her eye.  “The Pecheneg prince is shaking hands with Erik!” Helga blurted.  “What the fock!”  She passed the scope to Malf so she could have a look and said, “Excuse my Frankish.”

“Fock is Swedish,” Malf said, putting the scope up to her eye.  The Frankish word is still fuck.”  The princess watched as Erik’s men put the sword back in the box.  “They’re talking now,” she told her empress, “and now The Prince is going back to his boat.  I think the Pechenegs are packing up!  I think they’re going!”

When Prince Erik docked his ship at the main quay, Empress Helga came up to him and kissed him and would not stop kissing him.  “I am going to fock you so hard in King Frodi’s room tonight,” she whispered, as a very pregnant Malfrieda approached with her boys and the Khazar Princess Serah came up with their baby.  The Viking contingent of the merchant fleet soon started docking along the quays of Kiev and Erik, Helga and Serah were busy for two days processing and recording their tithes.  Then Malfrieda went into labour and gave birth to a baby boy.  She had tried to wait for Svein’s arrival, but little Valdamar had other ideas.  Prince Erik took out his seax and cut the cord, then confirmed that Prince Svein had promised to name his next child Valdamar, the Norse form of the Wallachian name of Vladimir so, that is what they called him, at least until Prince Sveinald could arrive and give the name his blessing.

Prince Erik had just slipped under the silk sheets of the bed in King Frodi’s master suite when there was a short rapping on the door and Empress Helga let herself into the room.  “I am going to fock you so hard,” she repeated as she undressed before her prince.  “Gods you look good,” Erik said as she was stripping beside the bed.  “Turn around!”  He watched her lithe form as she spun about and said, “You’ve lost a lot of weight.  Are you okay?”

“We’ve been down to quarter rations this last month,” she started, “and half rations for three months before that.  I haven’t eaten meat in a month.”  She slipped between the silks and snuggled up to Erik.  “Children began disappearing in the poor quarters.  You’d never know what kind of meat they were selling on the black markets.”

“I’m sorry,” The Prince apologized.  “I came as quickly as I could.  But your body is ravishing!” and he began to kiss her all over it.

“Ivar always said the children disappear first in times of famine,” Helga said, talking about her dead husband’s efforts to focus the Hraes’ Trading Company on famine relief efforts and profits.  “I always knew he was right, but now I’ve seen him proved so.  We couldn’t have lasted another week.  Why didn’t my son, Svein, come?”

But Erik couldn’t answer.  He was way down between the sheets still kissing Helga’s lithe body all over.  She was soon coming between the silks and Erik slid up a bit and entered her.

A few days later, Prince Svein and his three mobile legions in six hundred ships soon added to the organized chaos of Kiev in the trading season.  “It was the Khazars that sent the eastern Pechenegs against us!” Svein exclaimed as he stepped onto the main quay of Kiev.  “The Romans have offered to pay me twenty thousand pounds of gold to crush the Khazars,” he told his grandfather as he took baby Valdamar into his arms.

“You know how I feel about that,” Erik told him, ‘but after the stunt they’ve pulled, I’ll not be trying to talk you out of it.”

“So, you agree it was the Khazars?”

“My spies have told me it was the Khazars.  Kagan Kurya of the Garkara of the Painted Horse says it was the Khazars.  It was the Khazars.”

“It is twenty thousand pounds of gold,” Prince Svein said.  “I need it to move my capital to Pereslavet.  I can’t be co-Emperor of Rome from Kiev.  I’d be frozen in half the year.”

“You could overwinter in Tmutorokan like you always do,” Erik reminded him.  “You wouldn’t be frozen in.”

“Yes,” Empress Helga said.  “Overwinter in Gardariki.”

“Pereslavet is mine and is located in the center of my Empire,” Svein said, “and I want you to move there with me, Empress Helga.”

“You already have an empress there,” Helga said, giving Svia a kiss on her cheek.  “If you’re leaving Kiev, then I’m moving to Gardariki with Erik and Silki.  Is it okay if I move in with you in Gardariki, Erik?”

“I’ve been dying to ask you,” Erik said, “but Svein has only recently acquired an empress to look after him.”

“Good,” Helga said, “but the people of Kiev are going to want to have a prince.”

“I shall appoint Prince Eyfur to lead in Kiev,” Svein said, “and Prince Helgi can lead in Chernigov.  They’re getting old enough to rule.”

“If the Drevjane of Chernigov get a prince,” Helga said, “then the people of Novgorod will want a prince.”

“They can have Valdamar,” Svein said, holding up the baby.  “When he is old enough to rule, that is.”

Later Prince Svein approached Princess Malfrieda and took her by the hand and they walked.  “When I was in Constantinople, I stayed with Svia in the old palace apartments that you and I stayed in and I told her that we gave each other our virginities there.  She felt bad about keeping me all to herself and she still wants to share me with you, even when she is empress.  What do you think about that?”

“I know that Princess Svia is soon to be an empress and I am just a freed woman and a handmaiden at that, but I would be very pleased to be allowed to share in even the smallest little part of my prince.  I love you, Svein.”

Prince Svein walked her out to his shieldship and he led her below the foredeck and they made love in the furs under the deck.  “I don’t have protection,” she said, but Svein told her he didn’t care about her using protection and he entered her anyway and he remembered their first time together and soon he was flowing freely within her.

“I’d like you to stay in Kiev and take care of our boys and I will visit you and I want to be with you when I visit.”

Prince Svein told his mother, Empress Helga, that he was naming their son Valdamar in respect of the great victory he’d had over Count Vlad ‘the Impaler’ and his Wallachians of Romania.

“But Vladimir?  You want to call your son Vladimir?” Helga replied incredulously.  “After that wicked count you and Erik executed?  The evil man that our troops still wet themselves over?  My poor legions still suffer so!”

“Valdamar is a good name,” Svein responded patiently.

“But the Slavs will call him Vladimir.  It is not a prince’s name.  It is the name of an evil man that you executed!  How can you name your son after such a horrible dead man?”

“He’s not dead!” Svein replied.

“What?” Empress Helga exclaimed.  “What do you mean he’s not dead?”

“We executed him just as we had all the officers before him, right up to the generals, but he survived it somehow.  He survived his impaling!”

“Nobody survives impaling,” Helga said, sitting down.  “How is this possible?” she whispered.

“He almost died, he turned quite yellow then green, but I think the gods spared him.  Grandfather wouldn’t let me kill him outright, saying his offspring in the future stop some Turk horde from over-running Europe, so perhaps the gods spared him for that.”

“Don’t tell Svia!”  Empress Helga warned.  But even the grand-daughter-in-law of King Frodi, knew better than to provoke the gods.  “You must always call him by Valdamarald,” she said.  “Valdamar ‘the Old’ in respect of his King Frodi Fridleif Skjoldung lineage.”

(969 AD)  In early spring Svein packed up his mobile legions and they sailed up the Kuban River and portaged across to the Kura River, sailed down it and caught the Khazars in Samandar by surprise and took the city in a day.  It took all summer to crush the Khazar Empire, but once Atil was destroyed, the men and women and children of the city were loaded into cargo knars and sent off to Tmutorokan to be prepped for sale in the slave markets of Baghdad and Byzantium.  Then Prince Svein sent his heavy cavalry out in increasingly distant arcs and they pillaged the countryside, destroying farms and vineyards until not a single sheaf of grain or a single grape could be found in all of Khazaria.

Prince Svein sent word to Emperor Nikephoros that the Khazar Empire had been crushed and he requested Roman metallurgical engineers come to his new capital of Pereyaslavets to purify his gold.  The Emperor sent his congratulations to Prince Svein and Princess Svia along with the engineers.  Once the gold was purified, another message came from Constantinople requesting that the young couple spend the Christmas holidays there and that Svein and Svia be baptised on December 21st and be wreathed co-Emperor and empress on December 25th.  Prince Svein accepted the invitation, but a messenger from Prince Erik in Tmutorokan saying that there would soon to be an attempt on the life Emperor Nikephoros and that his own wife, Empress Theophano, and his Armenian general, John Tzimiskes, were involved in the plot.  “The Prince’s spies in Constantinople sent him word of this,” Prince Svein told his wife.  “He asks that we sit tight until a cleric he has contacted warns Nikephoros.”

When the Armenian General John Tzimiskes had heard that Prince Sveinald was soon to be crowned co-Emperor by his former general, Emperor Nikephoros Phokas, and take over war operations in the Levant, he decided it was time to act.  He told his lover, Empress Theophano, to set up Emperor Nikephoros and then he recruited a band of rebel Armenians from the Island of Princes and they murdered the Emperor in the bedchamber of his palace in the middle of the night.  After tormenting him, John kicked Nikephoros in the chest, raised up his sword, and drove it right through the middle of his brain, ordering the others to strike the man, too.  They slashed at him mercilessly, and one of them hit him in the back with an akouphion, a long iron weapon that very much resembled a heron’s beak, and thrust it right through to the breast.  Such was the end of the life of Emperor Nikephoros, who lived fifty-seven years, but held the imperial power for only six years and four months. 

When Nikephoros’ bodyguards heard, too late, the racket emanating from his bedchamber, they rushed to defend him, in the belief that the man was still among the living, and they tried to force open the iron reinforced door with all their strength so, General Tzimiskes ordered that Nikephoros’ head be brought in and shown to his bodyguards through a window near the terrace.  A man named Atzypotheodoros went and cut off the Emperor’s head and showed it to the enraged guards.  When they saw the horrid and unbelievable sight, they let their swords fall from their hands, and with one voice proclaimed General John Tzimiskes as Emperor of the Romans.  Nikephoros’ body lay outside on the terrace in the snow all Saturday long, the eleventh of December, until late in the evening when Tzimiskes ordered it carried off for funeral service.  It was placed in a hastily built wooden coffin in the middle of the night and carried secretly to the Holy Church of the Apostles and they buried it in one of the imperial sarcophagi in the hereon, where the body of the holy and celebrated Constantine is said to rest.  Only John Tzimiskes knew what had happened to his head.

General Tzimiskes was crowned Emperor John on Christmas Day, the twenty fifth of December, 969 AD.

As for Prince Svein, the leader of the Hraes’, Emperor John decided to negotiate with him; and he sent ambassadors to tell him that he should take the pay promised by the Emperor Nikephoros for attacking the Bulgars, and should return to his own territory of Gardar and the Cimmerian Bosporos, the Kerch peninsula, abandoning Bulgaria, since it had belonged to the Romans and was a part of old Macedonia. 

When Prince Svein heard Emperor John’s offer, he took two of his three mobile legions from Pereslavet, a legion he had raised in Wallachia and a Bulgarian legion as well as twenty thousand western Pecheneg mounted warriors and he rode south through Bulgaria and attacked Roman Thrace and moving against Constantinople by land.  The Roman navy was back from the Levant and they had three hundred fire breathing trireme dromons so, a naval assault was out of the question.  He attacked the city of Philippopolis by storm and quickly took it, but a Roman army was approaching from the south so, he sent his mobile legion and his twenty thousand Pecheneg mounted warriors and they rode south to meet it, leaving Count Vladimir and his Wallachian legion in control of Philippopolis.  The Hraes’ army came up against the Roman army at a narrow defile north of Arcadiopolis and Magistros Bardas Skleros led the army of the Romans against the Hraes’ invading forces.  The Hraes’ legion halted before entering the valley, sensing a trap, but the Pechenegs, on seeing the Roman cavalry, rushed forward to attack.  At a signal, hidden heavy Roman cataphracts sallied forth from places of ambush, and appeared to the rear of the light Pecheneg horse and trapped them in the defile and slaughtered them all.

Prince Svein learned that his Pecheneg allies had been slaughtered by the Romans, but the Hraes’ legion had held its ground against the Roman cataphracts and they had no choice but to return to Constantinople.  And when he went to Philippopolis he learned that Count Vladimir had impaled twenty thousand Roman citizens of the city in retaliation for the slaughter of the twenty thousand Pechenegs by cowardly ambuscade and had then returned to Wallachia.

Prince Svein and Princess Sviataslava and their one Bulgarian and two Hraes’ legions spent the summer ravaging Thrace and Macedonia, collecting slaves for Baghdad and booty for an attack upon Constantinople, but without the Pechenegs and the Wallachians they did not have enough of an army to threaten the city of the Romans.  In the fall they returned to Bulgaria to overwinter in Pereslavet.  Slave knars came to Bulgaria to take away the Roman slaves for training in Kiev and Tmutorokan.

From the History of Leo the Deacon:

Emperor John ordered the troops from Asia to cross over to Europe by way of the Hellespont, to spend the winter in the region of Thrace and Macedonia, drill daily with their weapons, and wait for spring.  Emperor John sent a message to Prince Svein saying, “if you do not leave the land, then willing or not you will be driven from it by us.  For I think you are well aware of the mistake of your father Igor (Ivar), who, making light of the sworn treaties, sailed against the imperial city with a large force and thousands of light boats, but returned to the Cimmerian Bosporos with scarcely ten boats, himself the messenger of the disaster that had befallen him.  I will pass over the wretched fate that befell him later, on his campaign against the Germans, when he was captured by them, tied to tree trunks, and torn in two.  And I think that you too will fail to return to your own country, if you force the Roman army to march against you, but you will be killed there with all your troops, so that not even a fire-bearing priest will return to Scythia, to announce the dreadful fate that overtook you.”

(971 AD)  After an enraged response from Prince Sveinald, the Emperor ordered his generals (John Kourkouas and Peter the Eunuch) to take his troops and march into Bulgaria.  As soon as the gloom of winter changed to the fair weather of springtime, the Emperor raised the standard of the cross and prepared to march against the Tauroscythians (Hraes’).  He went to the Golden Horn to survey the fire-bearing triremes that were riding at anchor in orderly fashion in the inlet of the Bosporos of which there were over three hundred, together with swift and light vessels, which are colloquially called galleys and patrol boats.  Then he sent them to the Danube to guard its passageway, so that the Scythians would not be able to sail away to their own country and the Cimmerian Bosporos (Kerch), if they should turn to flight.  After Emperor John departed from Constantinople, he arrived with all his army at Adrianople and he followed his generals into Bulgaria.  The combined Roman army drove the Rhos’ forces out of Bulgaria to the stronghold of Dorostolon on the south bank of the Danube.

As soon as the troops assembled in the area before Dorostolon, which they were accustomed to call Dristra, the Tauroscythians closed their ranks with spears and shields and, as it were, made them into a tower[shield wall], and awaited the enemy on the battlefield.  After the Emperor deployed the Romans in the van and placed ironclad horsemen on both wings, and assigned the archers and slingers to the rear and ordered them to keep up steady fire, he led out the army.

As soon as the troops came to grips with each other, the battle broke out fiercely, and during the first assault the contest was equal on both sides for a while.  For the Rhos’ fought furiously, considering it a terrible and shocking thing, if, when they had the reputation with neighbouring peoples of always prevailing over their enemies in battle, they were now to be shamefully defeated by the Romans and lose this reputation.  The Romans, on the other hand, were overcome by shame and anger, lest they, who prevailed over every enemy by force of arms and their own valour, should now have to withdraw, as if inexperienced in battle, overwhelmed by a people who fought on foot, and knew nothing of riding on horseback, and lest their great glory should vanish in a moment.  So the soldiers fought valiantly, nourishing in their hearts such concerns for their reputation.  They battled at Dorostolon for over a month.

On Friday, the twenty-fourth of July, and just before sunset, the Hraes’ emerged from the fortress with all their forces, and having decided to risk everything in one last great push, they drew up into a strong wedge formation, protected by their kite shields and long lances to protect themselves from Roman knights.  The Emperor organized the Romans and led them out of their camp.  When the battle commenced, the Hraes’ fiercely attacked the Romans, pelting them with javelins and striking their horses with arrows and dragging the knights from their faltering mounts to the ground.  The Roman knight, Anemas, saw Prince Svein charging the Romans in a frenzy and leading his cohorts forward, so he spurred on his horse, as he was accustomed to do, having previously killed many Varangians in this manner, giving the horse free rein, and he rode up to him and struck him across the chest with his sword, and knocked him flat, but did not kill him because he was wearing the lamellar armour of a Greek-fire marine officer and then a kite shield which he pulled across his body.  Anemas was then surrounded by Hraes’ troops and his horse was brought down by long-lance thrusts, he killed many of the Hraes’ about him, but Svein rose and struck him dead with a sword.

The Hraes’ rallied around Prince Svein when Anemas fell, and shouted loudly and fiercely, and drove the Romans back and they began to retreat to avoid the fierce assault of the Hraes’.  Emperor Tzimiskes saw that the Roman army was giving way and he was afraid that a rout was starting so, he charged forth on his mighty stallion and his gold gilt armour caught the setting sun as he brandished his gilt spear and led a squadron of cavalry forward and advanced against the Varangians.  Drums beat and trumpets sounded a call to battle and the retreating Romans were shamed by the Emperor’s assault, and wheeled round their horses, and fiercely attacked the Hraes’.  At the same time a wind and rainstorm broke out, pouring down heavily from the sky and obscured the vision of the enemy.  A man appeared on a white horse ahead of the Romans and encouraged them to advance against the Hraes’ and he broke through the enemy regiments in a wondrous fashion, and threw them into disarray and the Romans saw that it was the great martyr Saint Theodore, whom the Emperor had beseeched for help in battle, and to protect and preserve him together with all the army.  It was later said that on the evening before the battle, in Constantinople, a virgin dedicated to God thought that she saw in a dream the Mother of God, escorted by men in the form of flames, and She said to them, “Summon for me the martyr Saint Theodore”, and immediately there appeared a brave young man in armour, and the Mother of God said to him, “Lord Theodore, your Emperor John, who is fighting the Pagans at Dorostolon, is now in very difficult straits so, make haste to help him, for if you are not in time, he will be in mortal danger.”  He in turn replied that he was ready to obey the Mother of God his Lord; and after saying this he departed immediately, and thus sleep vanished from the eyes of the virgin and her dream of aid was fulfilled.

The Roman knights and foot soldiers, following Saint Theodore, who led the way, came to grips with the enemy and put aside all thoughts of flight.  And when fierce fighting broke out, the Hraes’ could not withstand the assault of the shield wall and the cavalry, and they were surrounded by Magistros Bardas Skleros, who led a legion of cataphracts against them, that seemed to come out of nowhere, and the host of Hraes’ turned to flight and were trampled right up to the city wall and fell there, for there were no troops left in the fortress to protect the retreat with a hail of arrows.  Prince Svein, himself, narrowly escaped capture and made it within the safety of the walls, having lost a lot of blood and been stricken by many arrows.  He was saved by the approach of darkness.  And it is said that in this battle fifteen thousand five hundred Scythians were killed, and that twenty thousand shields and a vast number of swords were captured; while three hundred fifty of the Romans were killed, and many wounded.  Such was the victory that the Romans won in this battle.  That is what the Romans saw of the miracle of Saint Theodore.

What the Hraes’ saw was somewhat different, for, to them, the Saint on the great white stallion had no lower legs.  He rode out ahead of the retreating Roman formation and Prince Svein could see through the rage of battle that it was his father, Saint Ivar ‘the Boneless’, and he was waving the Hraes’ forces back.  “It is a trap!” Svein shouted to his men and he ordered them to halt their charge and barked out orders to reverse their advance.  They began charging backwards to the fortress for they had all been trained to charge forward or back with the same ease and speed by the legendary General Sun Wu.  When Magistros Bardas Skleros and the legion of cataphracts appeared from behind the Roman siege engines and began a charge against the retreating Hraes’, long rocket propelled foot bow arrows flew forth from the fortress and exploded amongst the Roman cataphract formation and the horses panicked and charged this way and that in total disarray.  Prince Svein looked up at the fortress walls and could see the Roman black armour of Count Vlad’s Wallachian troops and the Hraes’ archers that he had left in Ramnic.  The Hrae’s legion withdrew into the city with few casualties.

“Word travelled up the Danube that your forces were under heavy assault in Silistra,” Count Vlad told Svein, as he entered with his troops.  “We gathered our forces in Ramnic and sailed here as fast as we could, but we saw the Roman fire-breathers on the river so, we had to wait until the setting sun obscured their vision so we could sail into the cover of the fortress walls.  It’s a good thing they couldn’t see us because there was nobody in the fortress so provide covering fire.  So we occupied the walls and we could see the Roman cataphracts behind their siege engines ready to spring a trap upon you.”

“I know,” Svein said, shaking the count’s hand in thanks.  “My father, King Ivar, rode up ahead of us on his white stallion and waved us back from the attack.”

“There was no white horse on the field,” the count replied.  “You must have seen something in that storm that erupted briefly.”

A Hraes’ marine officer came up to the two men and said, “Someone is coming up the Danube with a great fleet.  The river has risen six inches in the last six hours.”

“Fock! More Romans!” Svein cursed.  “The Danube rose a few inches when the fleet of fire breathers came up the Danube a few weeks ago and there’s three hundred of them,” Svein explained to the count.  “Six inches!  This fleet is at least twice as big!”

The next day, Prince Svein learned from his marines who was coming upriver and it was a total surprise.  The full merchant fleet from Baghdad was coming, headed by thirty old bireme dromons that Princes Erik and Ivar had built to destroy the old fleet of fire breathers that Admiral Theophanes had destroyed Ivar’s treasure ships with and then left anchored in Messembria.  Admiral Theophanes had only fifteen fire breathers back then, but he now commanded three hundred, but they were on the Danube River, not the Black Sea and they could only face Erik about a dozen wide at a time and Prince Erik’s dromons were fire breather killers.  Each had dual trebuchets on deck and they slung tonstone shot that tore ships apart, plus they carried rocket propelled arrows that blew fire breathers apart if they landed in the bronze naphtha spewing tubes of the Greek-fire systems.  John Tzimiskes had broken both General John Kourkouas and Admiral Theophanes out of prison on the Island of Princes so they could help him deal with the Hraes’ and General Kourkouas was dead and Admiral Theophanes was soon to be.  But Prince Erik sent messengers to the Admiral requesting talks with Emperor John and Prince Svein.  The admiral was relieved.  He did not want to go up against Prince Erik again, either at sea or in the Law Courts of Constantinople.

“I have looked into the future and I have seen the final outcome of the Battle of Dorostolon,” Prince Erik told Emperor John and Prince Svein, as they sat at a negotiating table between the two armies.  “And it is not pretty.  Neither of you leaves this place alive.  All your best men die here with you and only the cowards are left alive to tell the tale.  So a mutually agreeable compromise must be reached.”

“I have sought nothing but peace with the Hraes’,” Emperor John claimed.

“I just want what is rightfully mine,” Prince Svein said.  “I was promised a co-Emperorship for all the conquests I have made for Rome.”

“You were well paid in gold for your efforts,” Tzimiskes said.

“As the stepson of Constantine Porphyrogennetos, I have a legitimate claim to the throne of Rome,” Svein said, “unlike some at this table.”

“Ah yes,” Emperor John said, “Empress Helga.  The beautiful Swedish princess that stole an Emperor’s heart.  The people of Constantinople still rave about her beauty.  And this is the beautiful Princess Sviataslava?” John asked, looking at the stunning young woman sitting next to Svein.  Svia smiled at the Emperor.

“Good,” Erik said.  “Something we can all agree upon.  It’s progress.  So, Svein has a valid claim and you Romans are against sharing it.  Do you have any other outstanding claims, Svein?”

“The throne of Denmark is owed me as well, as you full know.”

“I’m asking so that the Emperor knows this as well.  Will you have to fight for that throne too?”

“I don’t think that my nephew, Harold ‘Bluetooth’ is likely to give it up without a fight.”

“Would you, Emperor John,” Erik asked, “be willing to keep Prince Svein’s claim to a co-Emperorship open until he resolves this other claim first?”

“His claim is what it is.  It will always be open as long as he is alive.”

“Good,” Erik said.  “And would you, Svein, hold off on any claim to the Roman throne until you have gained your claim to the Danish throne?”

“It’ll take years,” Svein complained, “but I could be persuaded if I got enough gold to start that claim rolling.  And the red gold of Byzantium would be a good place to start from, say twenty thousand pounds.”

“Ten thousand,” Emperor John countered.

“Split the difference?” Prince Erik suggested.

“Done!” they both said.

“I’ll draft up a contract in Latin this afternoon,” Prince Erik said, “then we’ll have a signing and a small exchange of gifts.”

“You have my word on this,” Emperor John said.

“Mine as well,” Prince Svein added.

The Emperor got up and shook hands and kissed Princess Svia’s hand, then left.

Later, the Emperor readily accepted the terms and signed the contracts with Admiral Theophanes as witness and Prince Svein signed for the Hraes’ with Prince Erik signing as witness.  Then gifts were exchanged and Emperor John gave Prince Svein his personal sword and fifteen thousand pounds of gold and Princes Svein and Erik gave John Tzimiskes an antique Roman chariot with a matched set of white chargers.

The Hraes’ had agreed to leave the Fortress of Dorostal the next day so, they began packing that night.  The next day, as Prince Svein and Princess Svia were rowing out in a boat to sail away, Emperor John asked to speak with the Prince and some of his men called him back to shore.  The Emperor sat on horseback at the bank of the Danube, clad in armour ornamented with gold, accompanied by a vast squadron of armed horsemen adorned with gold.  Svein had his men row back and he was grasping an oar and rowing with his companions as if he were one of them.  His appearance was as follows: he was of moderate height, neither taller than average, nor particularly short; his eyebrows were thick; he had grey blue eyes and a small nose; his beard was clean-shaven, but he let the hair grow abundantly on his upper lip where it was bushy and long; and he shaved his head completely, except for a long lock of blonde hair that hung down on one side of his head, as a mark of the nobility of his ancestry; he was solid in the neck, broad in the chest and very well-articulated in the rest of his body; he had a rather angry and savage appearance; on one ear was fastened a gold earring, adorned with two pearls with a red gemstone between them; his clothing was white, no different from that of his companions except in cleanliness.

“Good morning Prince,” the Emperor said, “and good morning Princess Sviataslava,” he added.  “I just wanted you both to know that you are welcome in Constantinople anytime.”

“We are both going to Kiev and will not likely be heading south for a very long time,” Svein apologized.

“Have a good trip,” the Emperor said, “and if you change your mind, you are always welcome to stay with me.  Also, watch out for Pechenegs on your way back.  I have word that the Khazars have paid them gold to attack you north of your rapids.”

“You paid me to wipe out the Khazars and that’s what I did,” Prince Svein protested.

“You missed a few,” the Emperor said.  “They came to Constantinople looking for donations.  I didn’t know what they needed the donations for at the time, but I have since learned of their plans to support a Pecheneg attack against you on your way back.”

Svein began rowing away with his men and Svia waved bye as she departed sitting on the helmsman’s seat of the boat.  Thus the war of the Romans with the Scythians came to an end.

(971 AD)  After Prince Svein had left Dorostolon, all Bulgar land south of the Danube was ceded to the Eastern Roman Empire and that included Svein’s new capital city of Pereslavet.  All Prince Svein’s claims to the Roman throne were stayed until Svein successfully claimed the crown of Denmark, which by rights of Aesir succession, should have passed to him on the death of his brother King Gorm ‘the Old’ Ivarson, but which had been taken by Gorm’s son, King Harald ‘Bluetooth’.  To that end, Emperor John Tzimiskes of Constantinople had paid Svein fifteen thousand pounds of gold to go north and reconquer Denmark.  This contract had been hammered out during a pause in the fighting at the Fortress of Dorostolon, with Prince Erik of Tmutorokan acting as an intermediary, and would be followed by both parties, as Prince Erik was Prince Svein’s grandfather and also the only man on earth that the Armenian generals of Rome feared.

(972 AD)  Prince Svein and Princess Svia packed up their belongings in Pereslavet and loaded up their gold, some red, some golden and they sailed with their legion, composed of what was left of Svein’s three new mobile legions, to Gardariki to meet with Prince Erik and replenish the legions.  They received news that a huge horde of eastern Pechenegs under Kagan Kurya were waiting at the Dnieper Rapids to attack the Hraes, so Prince Svein led his forces up the Dnieper to confront them and he won a great victory there.  Kagan Kurya was forced to give up the gold he had been paid for the attack and Prince Svein found that it was mostly Roman gold, including a gold encrusted baptismal ewer in which was hidden the skull of Tzar Peter of Bulgaria.  Svein wondered then if the new Emperor of Rome even knew that there was a Bulgarian skull in that cup to avenge what King Krum had done to the original Emperor Nikephoros ‘the First’ of Rome.

The sons of Prince Sveinald had been awarded their respective territories of Gardar and fully expected to lose them because the Grand Prince had lost his Bulgar gains.  But Prince Svein did not recant on his gifts.  Instead, he announced that he would be going to Denmark and Norway to take back the lands that his father had conquered.  King Ivar’s strategy of ruling two realms, one in the east and the other in the west was more important now than ever.  “And I want to get the Nor’Way back up and running or the Khazars will be back on the Volga,” he added.

Prince Svein bid his eldest son, Eyfur or Ivaropolk, as his Poljane subjects called him, goodbye in Kiev, leaving Princess Serah as his guardian.  Then he left his younger son, Helgi or Oleg, as his Drevjane subjects called him, in Chernigov under the guardianship of the Roman Princess Sviataslava and he bid them goodbye there.  And finally, he travelled to Novgorod with Princess Malfrieda and their son, Valdamar, sometimes called Vladimir after Count Vlad, and their new baby Helga and he spent the winter with his mother’s favourite handmaiden there before carrying on into Sweden, Denmark and then Norway.

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 PRINCE IVAR ATTACKS PRINCE HELGI IN DEREVA  (Circa 976 AD)

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

The fields below                   with their falls did shake;

We hurled from the heights           the heavy quernstone,

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

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER TWO

2.0 PRINCE VALDAMAR FLEES TO LADE  (Circa 976 AD)

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  13.  “But since then                       we to Sweden fared,

We foreknowing twain,       and fought among men;

(byrnies we slit)                    and bucklers shattered,

We won our way                  through warriors’ ranks.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

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

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

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

“Isn’t that fratricide?” Anise asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER THREE

3.0 PRINCE VALDAMAR RETURNS TO KIEV  (Circa 977 AD)

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   14.  “One king we overthrew,     enthroned the other.

To good Guthorm                 we granted victory;

stern was the struggle         ere Knui was struck.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, of course,” Ivar said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not afraid,” she said.

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

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

“Yes, then we’ll try again.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How’d that happen?” Haakon asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know,” she said.  “I’m so scared.”

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER FOUR

4.0 THE RANSOMS OF THE TRYGVE’S  (Circa 978 AD)

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   15.  “A full year thus         we fared among men;

Our name was known         among noble heroes.

Through linden shields       sharp spears we hurled,

drew blood from wounds,   and blades reddened.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(963 AD)  King Harald Grafeld sent his brother, King Gudrod, east to The Vik to kill their friend, King Trygve Olafson, so Gudrod sent a message to Trygve to meet him, that they might make a cruise together in summer in the Baltic to plunder.  Trygve accepted willingly, and as he’d heard that King Gudrod had but few people with him, he came to meet him with in a single twelve oared boat.  They met at Veggen, to the east of Sotanes; but just as they were come to the meeting place, Gudrod’s men ran up and killed King Trygve and his twelve men.

King Trygve Olafson had married a wife who was called Astrid.  She was a daughter of Eirik Bjodaskalle, a great man, who dwelt at Oprustader.  But after Trygve’s death, Astrid fled, and she took her property that she could.  Her foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg, guided her, and never left her and her faithful followers.  Astrid was pregnant by King Trygve and she went to a lake and concealed herself in a holm or small island in it with a few followers.  There she gave birth to a boy and she named him Olaf after Trygve’s father.  Astrid remained all summer there in hiding but when the nights became dark and the days began to shorten and the weather grew to be cold, she was obliged to take to the land, along with Thorolf and a few trusted followers.

They did not seek out houses unless it was night and they stole up to them secretly and they spoke to nobody.  One evening, towards dark, they came to Oprustader, where Astrid’s father Eirik dwelt, and privately sent a man to Eirik to tell him, and Eirik took them to an out-building and spread a table for them with the best of food.  When Astrid had been here a short time her travelling attendants left her and none remained behind with her but two servant girls, her child Olaf, Thorolf Lusarskeg, and his son Thorgils, who was six years old and they remained all winter (A.D. 964).

After Trygve Olafson’s murder, Harald Grafeld and his brother Gudrod went to King Trygve’s realm, but Astrid was gone, and they could learn no tidings of her.  They heard a rumour that she was pregnant by King Trygve, but they soon headed northwards and then west, back to Hardanger Fjord.  As soon as they met their mother, Queen Gunhild, the Mother of Kings, they told her all that had taken place.  She specifically asked about Astrid, and they told her the report they had heard; but Gunhild’s sons were soon occupied with fighting Jarl Haakon and they did not go after Astrid and her son that winter.

The spring after (A.D. 964), Gunhild sent spies to the Uplands and all the way down to The Vik to learn what they could about Astrid; and the spies returned and could only tell her that Astrid must be with her father Eirik and was likely bringing up her infant, the son of Trygve, there.  Then Gunhild, without delay, sent off men well furnished with arms and horses, and in all a troop of thirty; and as their leader she sent a particular friend of her own, a powerful man called Hakon.  Her orders were to go to Oprustader, to Eirik, and take King Trygve’s son from them and bring the child to her; and with these orders the men went out.  When they got to the neighbourhood of Oprustader, some of Eirik’s friends observed the troop of travelers and about the close of the day brought him word of their approach.  Eirik immediately made preparation for Astrid’s flight, gave her good guides, and sent her away eastward to Sweden, to his good friend Haakon Gamle, who was a powerful man there.  Long before daylight they departed and towards evening they reached a place called Skaun, where they saw a large mansion, towards which they went, and begged a night’s lodging.

For the sake of concealment they were clad in mean clothing and there dwelt a bonde called Bjorn Eiterkveisa, who was very rich, but very inhospitable.  He drove them away and, in the dark, they went to another farm close by that was called Vidar.  Thorstein was the name of the bonde there and he gave them lodging and took good care of them, so that they slept well, and were well entertained.  Early that morning Gunhild’s men had come to Oprustader and had asked for Astrid and her son.  Eirik told them she was not there and they searched the whole house and harried the whole neighbourhood and remained till late in the day when they got word of Astrid and the way she had taken, and late at night they came to Bjorn Eiterkveisa in Skaun, and took up quarters there.  Hakon asked only of Bjorn if he knew anything about Astrid, and Bjorn confessed that some people had come in the evening wanting lodgings, but that he drove them away and he supposed they had gone off to some neighbouring house or other.  Hakon ordered Bjorn out of his own house and told him to sleep in the pigs sty and to not go off and warn any neighbours.  Then Hakon and his thirty men made themselves comfortable in Bjorn’s longhall and feasted and drank and then slept upon Bjorn’s benches.

One of Thorstein’s field slaves was coming from wood cutting in the forest and he called in at Bjorn’s house because it was on his way and he’d seen many horses there, and finding that guests had come to the house, and learning of their business, he hurried home to Thorstein and told him of it.  Thorstein woke up his guests and ordered them out of his longhall in a very angry voice, but as soon as they were out of the house and back upon the road, Thorstein went out after them and told them that Gunhild’s troop was at Bjorn’s house and were hard upon their heels.  Astrid appealed to Thorstein for help, but he had already brought provisions and a guide to help them along the way.  He knew the sons of Harald Fairhair and he knew they were after the baby.  The guide led them through a forest to a lake, in which there was an islet overgrown with reeds and they waded out to the islet and hid themselves among the reeds.  Early in the morning Hakon rode out into the neighbourhood and, wherever he came, he asked after Astrid, and when he came to Thorstein’s farm he asked if she had been there.

Thorstein told Hakon that some people had come there; but he had ordered them to leave and his slaves verified this, but Hakon still made Thorstein go along with them, as he knew all the roads and hiding-places.  Thorstein went along with them; but when they had come into the woods, he led them right across the way Astrid had taken and off in another direction.  They went about and about the whole day to no purpose, as they could find no trace of her, so they turned back to spend another night in the longhall of Bjorn Eiterkveisa while Bjorn spent another night with his swine.  The next morning they headed back to Hardanger and Astrid and her friends proceeded on their journey and arrived in Sweden and were welcomed by Haakon Gamle ‘the Old’, with whom she and her son remained for a very a long time.

When Gunhild, the Mother of Kings, heard that Astrid and her son Olaf were in the Kingdom of Sweden, she again sent Hakon and his thirty eastward, to King Eirik of Sweden with presents and messages of friendship.  The Norwegian ambassadors were well received and well treated.  After a time, Hakon disclosed his errand to the king, saying that Queen Mother Gunhild had sent him with the request that the king might assist him in getting hold of Olaf Tryggvason, to conduct him to Norway, where Queen Gunhild would bring him up properly.  The king gave Hakon people to guide him and they all rode to Haakon ‘the Old’, where Hakon desired, with many friendly gestures, that young Olaf should go with him.

Haakon ‘the Old’ returned a friendly answer, saying that it depended entirely upon Olaf’s mother, but Astrid would on no account listen to the proposal and the messengers had to return as they came and told King Eirik how the matter stood.  The ambassadors then prepared to return home, but then asked the king for some assistance to take the boy, whether Hakon ‘the Old’ would allow it or not.  The king refused, but allowed them, again, some more attendants, and when they came to the hall of Haakon ‘the Old’, they again asked for the boy, and on his refusal to deliver him they used strong words and threatened violence.  But one of Haakon’s slaves, Buste by name, pulled Hakon down off his high horse and started pounding on him with his fist and was going to kill him; and Hakon and his thirty barely escaped from the thralls without a severe cudgeling, and then they proceeded home to Norway to tell Queen Gunhild of their ill success, but that, at least, they had seen young Olaf and could now identify him.

Astrid had a brother called Sigurd, a son of Eirik Bjodaskalle, who had long been abroad in Gardar and was now with King Valdamar of Novgorod, and he was held there in great consideration and esteem.  Princess Astrid knew that Queen Gunhild would never stop her harrying and the princess now had a great inclination to travel to her brother there.  Haakon ‘the Old’ gave her good attendants, and what was needful for the journey, and she set out with some merchants.  She had then been two years (965-966 AD) with Haakon Gamle in Sweden and Olaf was three years of age and now able to safely make the journey.

As they sailed out into the Baltic, they were captured by Vikings of Eistland, who made booty of both the people and the goods, killing some, raping others, and dividing the survivors up as slaves.  Olaf was separated from his mother, and an Eistland pirate called Klerkon got him as his share along with Thorolf and Thorgils.  Klerkon thought that Thorolf was too old to be of value as a slave and that there was not much work to be got out of him, so he killed him; but he took the boys with him and raped them both and then traded them to a man called Klerk for a stout good ram, which he raped as well, for good measure.

Klerk then sold the boys, and a third man, called Reas, bought Olaf for a good cloak.  Reas had a wife called Rekon, and a son by her whose name was Rekone.  Olaf was long with them, was treated well, and was much beloved by the local people.  Olaf was six years in Eistland in this banishment (967-972 AD).

Princess Astrid had been raped as well, but much more often, yet her banishment wasn’t nearly as long.  Her pirate had kept her as his personal prize for a time, but when he found a Viking captain going off on another Viking cruise, he sold her to a whorehouse in an Eistland coastal town and Astrid was soon their highest class working girl there.  Soon, a wealthy Norwegian merchant captain was busily humping away on her and, as he looked into her bright blue eyes, he asked, “Are you Queen Astrid, King Trygve’s wife?”  He had paused in his focking and was awaiting a reply when Astrid fell apart in tears.  Then he knew it was her.  He had seen her in The Vik with her king and he had admired her beauty from afar.  And now he was in the east and he was inside her and he did not want to move.  And the more she cried, the harder his member got and there was nothing he could do about it.  Astrid cried herself out and, as her body began to heave, his penis grew with the convulsions and he exploded inside her…inside his glove, that is.

He stayed inside her and he took her into his arms and he comforted her until she became quite calm.  “Take me away from this place,” she begged him.

“If you will marry me,” he said.

“What?”

“If you will marry me, I will take you from this place and I will make you my queen and I shall worship the ground you walk on and I will never tell a soul where I found you.”

“I will do no such thing!” Astrid said haughtily.

“I am a very wealthy merchant in Viken and I have always admired you and I have always loved you and if you marry me I will save you and I will always admire you and I will always love you.  Just three words thrice said.  That is all that stands between you and freedom.  Never more will you be a slave, for you have enslaved my heart, you have enslaved me!”

Astrid looked at him in disbelief.  She shook her head in disbelief.

“Just three words thrice said,” he pleaded.  “I shall treat you so fine.  If ever I do not, you may feel free to leave me.  Please…just three words said thrice.”

“If I say the three words thrice,” she began, “will you take me to Novgorod and help me find my long lost son?  He was enslaved with me.  My brother, Sigurd, lives there and he shall help, I’m sure.”

“I will take you there,” he assured her, “and we shall leave no stone unturned.  This, to you, I swear.”

Astrid closed her eyes and said, “I marry you, I marry you, I marry you.”

And the Viking merchant held her close and said, “I marry you, I marry you, I marry you,” and it was done.  He kissed her and held her for a very long time.  Then there was a loud rapping on the door and an Eistland bouncer shouted, “It’s time!”

“She’s broken,” the Norse merchant shouted back at the door in Eistonian, and he gave her a wink.  “All she does is cry!”  “I want my money back!”  “Sell her to me and I’ll put her to work as a weaver.”  “Can she spin wool?”  “Can she sew?”

Jarl Sigurd, the son of Eirik Bjodaskalle, knew of the merchant who had just married his sister, Astrid, and he had learned from him what had become of his sister and her boy, King Trygve’s son, and he took over collecting skat in Eistland for Prince Valdamar and Princess Malfrieda and he promised them he would find her Olaf.  He told them to return to Norway…the family was back home grieving her.  He told her he would find her boy and return him to her personally.

On one trip he came into Eistland from Novgorod, on King Valdamar’s business to collect the king’s taxes and rents, and Jarl Sigurd came as a man of great consequence, with many followers and much magnificence.  In a coastal market-place he happened to observe a remarkably handsome boy; and, as he could distinguish that he was a foreigner, he asked him his name and family.  The boy said that his name was Olaf and he remembered his mother, as Astrid, but only vaguely, and that they had been of Norway.  Sigurd was overjoyed because he knew that the boy was his sister’s son, but he kept it in and asked him how he came there.

Olaf told him of all his adventures, and Sigurd told him to follow him to the peasant Reas.  When he came there he bought both the boys, Olaf and Thorgils, and went to take them with him to Holmgard, but Olaf wouldn’t go.  He asked Reas if his son, Rekone, could come with them and become a knight with them.  Reas did not want to lose his son to the torches of the city, but Rekone saw it as an opportunity to escape the slavery of the free peasantry.  Jarl Sigurd agreed to take Rekone as well, but he told the boys nothing of Olaf’s princely stock and he didn’t tell the boys of his relationship to Olaf and he didn’t treat him as a prince but treated them all very well.  It would take him some time to get him back to Norway as he wanted to deliver him to his sister in person.  He sent a messenger to give his sister word of his great find, but he would trust no other in so important a task.

One day, Olaf, Thorgils and Rekone were in the main market-place of Novgorod and there was an unusually large number of people there.  Many foreign traders had just arrived and the people were out looking for special goods.  Suddenly Olaf saw the pirate Klerkon again, the Viking who had killed his foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg.  Olaf took a small axe out of his belt and he swung it at the mother focker and with it he clove Klerkon’s skull right down to the brain, and then they all ran home to their lodging and he told his friend Sigurd what he had done.  Jarl Sigurd immediately took Olaf to Princess Malfrieda’s longhall and he told her what had happened and he begged her to protect the boy.

She replied that the boy appeared far too comely to allow him to be slain and she ordered her Centuriata to guard her hall fully armed.  In Holmgard the sacredness of peace is so respected that it is the law there to slay whoever puts a man to death except by judgment of trial and, according to this law and usage, the whole people stormed and sought after the boy.  It was reported that he was in the Princess’s hall and that there was a large number of armed men on guard there.

When this was told to Prince Valdamar, he went there to his mother with his people, but would allow no bloodshed.  It was settled at last in peace, that the prince should name the fine for the murder and his mother, Princess Malfrieda, paid it, though it was steep.  Olaf remained afterwards with the princess and was much beloved.  It was a law at Holmgard, that no man of royal descent shall stay there without the prince’s permission, so Sigurd therefore told Princess Malfrieda of what family Olaf was, and for what reason he had come to Hraes’, namely, that he could not remain with safety in his own country, and he begged her to speak to the prince about it.  This she did and she begged the prince to help a king’s son, a prince whose fate had been so hard, and in consequence of her entreaty, and for the safety of the young prince, Prince Valdamar promised to assist him, and accordingly he received Olaf into his court, and treated him nobly, and as a king’s son.  But the three boys all lived with Princess Malfrieda in her hall because she had vouched for Olaf and had paid his fine and it was she who was responsible for him.

Olaf was nine years old when he came into Hraes’, and he remained nine years more (978-981 AD) with Prince Valdamar.  Olaf was the handsomest of men, very stout and strong, and in all bodily exercises he excelled every Northman that ever was heard of in Hraes’.

ONCE UPON A WAYSIDE INN.

Once upon a Wayside Inn,

A Viking merchant walked right in,

Looking for a place to sleep,

T’was not upon the ocean deep.

He walked right past a bench of girls,

Who flirted with their hair in curls,

Too tired was he to feel the need,

To water in the well his steed.

He paid silver for just a room,

A place to rest, a place to groom,

And walking past those girls again,

He saw the blonde one in their train.

Her cheek lamps were a striking blue,

Her nose was fine and straight and true,

Thin she was and hungry seemed,

But still her bright blue eyes beamed.

He went back to the inn-keep fair,

An old woman with long black hair.

He told her that a girl back home,

Reminded him of that girl some,

And he pointed out the blonde one,

And asked what was an hour’s sum.

“That one is our special deer,

She costs thrice the others here,

Perhaps you’d like another girl,

To give your steed a ride and twirl.”

“She reminds me of a queen we had,

So I’ll pay thrice, but she seems sad.

Send to my room some wine and meat,

I think I’ll give my queen a treat.”

He paid the keep and took the girl,

And asked the princess for a whirl.

He took her hand and led her in,

And told her that she looked too thin.

He sat her on the bed near him,

And soon the wine and meat came in.

He poured her wine and with his knife,

He sliced her off some meat, but thrice,

He poured himself some wine and then,

Saw her devour the meat cut thin,

But only once the food was gone,

She drank her wine till it was done.

The Viking got up from the bed,

And stood straight before her instead.

She unbuttoned and took his shirt,

Unbuttoned pants and belt ungirt,

She stood and sat him on his glutes,

And knelt and drew off his boots.

He watched her in her princess dress,

Of worn blue silk with seams distressed,

And she drew off his pants to see,

His steed was hard and looked thirsty.

She dropped her silken dress then stood,

Naked before Norwegian wood,

Like Helen of Troy way back then,

This wooden steed too hid sea men.

The Viking couldn’t take his eyes,

Off of her form, this Baltic prize.

He’d often dreamed about his queen,

And how she’d look if naked seen,

And now he knew that he now saw,

The closest to a queen he’d draw.

He reached out and took her hand,

Silken soft as the dress did land,

Upon his feet with boots undrawn,

He drew her to the bed upon.

He kissed her as she sat nearby,

And he felt her slim taut body sigh,

Then he laid her back upon the bed,

And with his knees her legs he spread.

His steed approached her honey well,

And nuzzled up to drink its fill,

Its head went in the well to drink,

Of moisture that was warm and pink.

And as it slid against the silk,

That lined the well like mothers milk,

Sensations took up like a storm,

The steed drove deeper to keep warm.

To the well bottom did plunge,

That stalwart steed with mighty lunge,

Then drew itself back out again,

Into the storm, into the rain,

Then back into the silken depths,

Into the warmth so heaven blessed.

Soon the princess eyes did glow,

The Viking saw and then did know,

This was his queen from better times,

King Trygve’s wife, who’d suffered crimes.

While deep inside her silken bower,

He realized her royal power.

He stopped mid-stroke then asked her quick,

“Are you Queen Astrid of The Vik?

King Trygve’s wife?

When he had life?”

The princess eyes did open wide,

Then burst with tears from deep inside,

The Viking stayed and stood stock still,

Yet deep inside that honey well.

She cried and cried, was swept away,

While deep inside of her he’d stay,

Stock still while ready to explode,

He held his steed, he held his load.

And when she’d cried her tears away,

Her body heaved and had its say,

The silken lining of her well,

Convulsed and made the stallion swell.

The Viking held her to his chest,

And tried to calm her to his best,

But still she heaved with sobs so dry,

And still convulsed as she did cry.

This made the steed swell even more,

The Viking cried out “Je t’adore!”

His steed inside her did explode,

And deep inside he flowed and flowed.

“I love you!” he cried, “always have!”

“Marry me and you I ‘ll save.”

“I ‘ll not!” said Astrid haughtily,

“I ‘ll do no such thing!” said she.

“It’s just three words said thrice,” he pled,

And hugged her warmly on the bed.

“Just three words thrice and you shall see,

How fine it is to soon be free!”

At him in disbelief she stared,

And before her his heart he bared,

“Never more will you be a slave,

My heart enslaved is yours to save.

Just three words thrice, and you will see,

How fine a servant I shall be.”

“Take me to Holmgard,” she’d begun,

“And help me find my long lost son.

My brother Sigurd does live there,

And will help us search everywhere.”

“Just three words thrice and give me joy,

And I will help you find your boy.

Just three words thrice and you will see,

How kind to you that I will be.”

The princess closed her eyes so blue,

“I marry you, I marry you,”

And thrice, “I marry you” she said,

And kissed him softly on the bed.

“I marry you, I marry you,

I marry you,” he thrice said too,

And they made love and it was done,

Then sailed away to find her son.

Henry ‘Long Fellow’ of Wadsworth

CHAPTER FIVE

5.0 THE RAPE OF HRAEGUNEDA OF POLOTSK  (Circa 978-990 AD)

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   16.  “Now we are come                to the king’s high hall,

without mercy made            to turn the mill;

mud soils our feet,               frost cuts our bones;

at the peace-quern we drudge:     dreary is it here.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(978 AD)  Prince Sweyn left Trondheim Fjord early, sailing south with the Norse component of the Hraes’ Dan’Way merchant fleet.  He picked up Bjork at Hraegunarstead along the way and they anchored in Roskilde Harbour, just north of Liere in Denmark and they waited for the rest of the merchant fleet to assemble there.  Bjork had gotten too old for the Nor’Way crossing so, he had given his Nor’Way ship back to Sweyn and had retired a very rich merchant.  Sweyn had incorporated the ship back into his Nor’Way fleet and again, this year, Haakon and Eirik planned to lead the Norse fleet across the Nor’Way crossing.  But it would be another month before the Arctic would be warm enough for the crossing.  The Dan’Way had a much wider trading window, but even that would begin to close when the world cooling period began to shut the window a few decades to come.  His grandfather had told him that the great cooling would start with the next millennia and by twelve hundred the Nor’Way would be closed again and by twelve fifty even the warmer Dan’Way would shut down, just as they had been doing for thousands of years since the northern glaciers had melted.

The Hraes’ Dan’Way merchant fleet no longer stopped in Kiev because the fleet now paid its tithes in Gardariki, but Sweyn stopped there.  He wanted to visit Princess Svia and make sure she was doing well with baby Ivar and he wanted to make sure that baby Ivar’s father was following Sweyn’s orders and not threatening Prince Valdamar in Novgorod.  He also discretely dropped Bjork off in the city with an assignment to covertly learn exactly how Prince Helgi had died in Chernigov.  And the First Kievan Legion was a good place to start so, Bjork introduced himself as the veteran he was and bought soldiers mead and ale and was soon hearing tales of legion battles and heroics.

“Prince Ivar has been treating me well,” Svia told Sweyn, “and baby Ivar has been growing fast.  And I don’t think Ivar has any plans of attacking Prince Valdamar.”

“I miss you,” Sweyn told her.  Svia knew he did but she joked, “You just miss sleeping inside me.”  Sweyn laughed, then admitted, “I do!  I’ll stop and visit you on my way back if that’s okay?” he asked.

“I miss you too,” she said, seriously.  “Make sure you visit.”

When Sweyn got to Gardariki, he helped Erik and Serah with the tithes and accounts and he updated them on Svia and the progress of baby Ivar.  “Where’s young Sinead?” Sweyn asked his grandfather when they were alone.  “She’s down at my ship,” Erik told him, “champing at the bit to go to India with me.  She’s going to be running her first recovery operation over the summer and she’s really excited about it.”

“Where’d the ship go down?” Sweyn asked.  “Just off Gujarat,” Erik said, “and it’s full of gold.  It’ll be big for her if her underwater breathers can get to it.”

“I still remember when I first saw her diving into the Dnieper between your ships and I thought, ‘that’s not a cabin boy!’ and now she’s diving with your underwater breathers and running her own operation,” Sweyn said, shaking his head.

“Thank you for being so patient with Ivar,” Erik told him.  “I know that being without Svia is hard for you.”

“It’s either, be patient,” Sweyn said, “or I have to kill him.  I hope it never comes to that.  Not to change the subject,” Sweyn said, changing the subject, “but your skald friend, Eyvindr Skaldspiller, overwintered with us in Lade and Haakon’s daughter, Aud, started writing a book on his drapas and poems.  She’s using your book of poems as a framework.”

“That’s great!” Erik said.  “Eyvindr’s work should be preserved.  I didn’t know Haakon had a daughter.  Is she by his first wife?”

“Yes.  She’s Eirik’s younger sister.”

“Any chance of getting a copy of the book? Erik asked.  “I could run it through our Scriptorium here and you can take Eyvindr some copies back with you next year.”

“I asked Aud that and she said she would do a copy for you.  Eyvindr says its fine with him,” and Sweyn looked down at his shoes and said, “Aud wants to start her own scriptorium in Norway and she wants to come to Gardariki to apprentice for a year or two.  She was training as a copyist in York, but she wants to learn the whole bookmaking process.”

“Well, it sounds like my grandson is dipping his quill in Haakon’s daughter’s inkwell,” and he laughed as Sweyn grinned.  “Nominal congress only,” Sweyn confessed, “and only when Alfled is reading your Kama Sutra with us.  She’s been promised to King Erik of Sweden so, she’s saving herself for him.”

“There’s always anal,” Erik joked.  “Bring her with you next year and I’ll have her join Serah’s ladies in waiting while she’s apprenticing.  And I’ll keep my quill out of her inkwell.”

“She’s her own woman,” Sweyn said.  “I can’t tell her who she shares her ink with.”

“It’s Serah I’m worried about,” Erik joked.  “She’d trim my nib!”

“We’ll finish up Eyvindr’s book over the winter and I’ll bring Aud to Gardariki next spring.”

Sweyn was about to leave Gardariki, when Bjork arrived by ship with news for his prince.  He told Sweyn that he had learned straight from officers of the Kievan First that Prince Helgi had been captured in the town square of Chernigov and had been later taken back to the moat bridge and thrown off it into the water below.  “He was still in full armour so, he sank like a rock,” Bjork went on.  “Several of his officers were thrown into the moat after him to make it look like they had piled on top of him and they drowned as well.  The Kievan legion officers were pissed about how their fellow Chernigov officers had just been thrown into the moat to make their prince’s death look better.  The next day the moat was dredged and all the bodies were recovered.”

“I don’t know what to do about this,” Sweyn confessed to his grandfather after he told him the news.

“As a father, there is only one thing you can do,” Erik told him.  “You have to protect your innocent young, your son, Prince Valdamar.”

“But Prince Ivar has promised not to kill him,” Sweyn pleaded.

“Prince Ivar has already killed one brother,” Erik started, “and he has murdered our own Hraes’ officers just to make it look a little more accidental.  It is multiple murders and it is fratricide.  There is only one thing for you to do and if you can’t do it, your own legions will do it for you!”

“I’ll handle it,” Sweyn said.  “I’m sending Bjork into Chernigov to confirm the reports and then I’ll take action.”

(979 AD)  Eyvindr Skaldaspillir agreed to overwinter in Haakon’s great hall in Trondheim Fjord so, Sweyn and Alfled spent a lot of time in Haakon’s hall as Eyvindr recited ancient drapas and even the sagas of Sweyn’s own family, ‘The Varangians Sagas’ that were being turned into the ‘Lying Sagas of Denmark’ by Christian kings of Denmark, Germany, and Frankia.  Aud would sit at a table with parchment and ink and try to keep up with Eyvindr and often Sweyn would sit with her and they would work in tandem to record the tales.  Then Aud would take her notes next door and Sweyn and Alfled would help her make proper copy of the previous night’s recitations.  It was hard work and, when they needed a break, they would read from the Kama Sutra and practice positions and variations on nominal congress, copying new discoveries into the margins of Sweyn’s working copy.  Once they had a drapa completed, they would go through it with Eyvindr, and, though he only read runes, he could follow the miniscule script as they explained it to him.  If he approved it, they would have him sign off on it in runic signature.  If not, the team would make requested revisions, consult the Kama Sutra during breaks, and then have it ready for signoff the next evening.

During the Yuletide, there was much gifting of The Varangian Sagas that Sweyn had brought up with him from the scriptorium in Gardariki, in both standard and deluxe editions for kings and skalds.  ‘The Saga of Hraerik ‘Bragi the Old’ Hraegunarson’ was the favourite of skalds because it had the Gunwar’s Song drapa in it followed by the Head Ransom drapa written in praise of King Bjorn of the Barrows and, though it did mention his dog Saur, it mainly paralleled King Bjorn with Prince Brutus of the early Roman Republic, which had then led to Hraerik’s prose tale of Amleth, Prince of Denmark.  ‘The Saga of Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Hraerikson’ was the favourite of kings because King Ivar of Denmark, though maimed by rebels, had reclaimed his rightful throne from the elected King Hiarn and had expanded the wealth and territory of his realm.  ‘The Saga of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson’ was the favourite of the people of Norway and Angleland because he had stopped the ravishing of Norway by King Frodi of Denmark and his Great Pagan Army and, though the least popular of the three, Sweyn had been told by his grandfather that it would be the only Hraes’ family saga to survive.  Even though Prince Erik was battling the destruction of his own family sagas by operating a scriptorium in Gardariki, and pagan skalds like Eyvindr were fighting the efforts of Christian kings to destroy these ‘Lying Sagas’, and brilliant young Norse women like Aud were setting up scriptoriums of their own in Norway and Iceland, the sad truth was that it was much easier burning books than copying them.  Prince Erik’s prescience told him that, finally, the last pagan scriptorium in the world, at the very edge of the world, in Iceland, would be destroyed when the Christian king of Norway would order the death of a prolific writer and skald, Snorri Sturluson, of Borg, Iceland, prior to his invasion of the remote island.

But this wasn’t to happen without a fight and the fight would start with miniscule font of Saint Alcuin, the script chosen by King Charlemagne of Frankia for his scriptoriums, in the production of Christian Bibles and other sacred works in the often violent and always protested Christianisation of Germany and the Norse countries.  Ancient sagas and drapas and tales were being documented and certified, then gifted to the libraries of pagan royals and their wealthy followers for safe keeping and pagan skalds like Eyvindr were being employed to get the stories out there in their correct form.  Eyvindr ‘Skaldaspillir’ Finnsson earned his byname by going to the courts of kings and correcting the theft and conversion of pagan drapas into the verses of praise for Christian kings by challenging the Christian skalds on their thefts.  This often resulted in the spilling of skalds’ lifeblood.

Prince Sweyn bid farewell in the spring to Haakon, Eirik and Alfled and, once again, he sailed south with the Norse component of the Hraes’ Dan’Way merchant fleet, but this time he took young Aud with him.  They waited in Roskilde Harbour for the rest of the merchant fleet to assemble and they never left the forecastle of his shieldship.  Soon the Hraes’ Dan’Way merchant fleet sailed east and then south, past Kiev, and on towards Gardariki.  But Sweyn and Aud stopped in Kiev to visit Princess Svia and young Ivar and he was happy to learn that the elder Ivar had been following orders and not threatening Prince Valdamar in Novgorod.  He also visited with Bjork, who had returned from Chernigov and was still working on his assignment to covertly confirm how Prince Helgi had died.

“I befriended several more officers of the First Kievan Legion,” Bjork began, “and I learned details of how Prince Helgi was taken captive in the central square in Chernigov after a short fight.  He and several Drevjane officers were held in a cell and at midnight they were taken out to the bridge at the main entrance of the city and Prince Helgi was thrown off the bridge into the moat and his armour took him under as his officers were thrown in after him and suffered the same fate.  This has been confirmed by Chernigov legion officers as well.”

“Who did this?” Sweyn asked.

“I have the names of the officers who did this, but they were following the orders of Prince Ivar,” Bjork answered, nervously.

“Have them killed,” Sweyn ordered.

“The legion will investigate,” Bjork said.

“The Kievan legions were under orders not to get involved in this,” Sweyn explained.  “I’ll remind the commanders.  There will be no investigation.  I’ve had a chest of Hraes’ gold put at your disposal.  Get this done over the summer and I’ll pick you up on the way back in the fall.  Any gold left over is to be used in the reconstruction of Hraegunarstead and the forge works there.”

“And Prince Ivar?”

“I don’t even want him to know this has been done.  It was fratricide, a crime I very much abhor, but, as long as Ivar and Valdamar get along, I shall overlook it.”

When Sweyn and Aud got to Gardariki, he was too late to help Erik and Serah with the tithes and accounts, but he did get Aud settled in as a lady in waiting and she was soon working at the scriptorium of Gardariki.  Sweyn got a chance to sail south with The Prince and update him on the saga and drapa progress.  He even got to meet young Sinead once more.  She told Sweyn all about her first recovery operation just off Gujarat.  “It was a perfect recovery,” she started.  “It was too deep for divers, but well within the range of underwater breathers.  We took all the bars of gold and silver and left the lead bars behind.  They’re not worth the effort.”

Sweyn could see she was a very beautiful young woman and she dressed very lightly when at sea and her diver’s body could not be confined by the silk upon it.  She was lithe and very well-muscled and he could see that she did everything that the male divers did and she was very comfortable being at sea.  Salt water was her element.

While they sailed south, Prince Erik read Eyvindr’s book of poetry.  Some of the ancient works that were recorded in it had him in it and it made him feel old.  His body still felt young and he was still very physically and sexually active, but the deaths were starting to wear on him.  There was nobody left from his generation and very few left from the next.  Bjork was one of them, one who had sailed with his eldest son, King Oddi, and there were a few more who had travelled with King Ivar, but it was getting pretty lean.  He decided to spend more time with Prince Sweyn in Baghdad.

In Novgorod, as soon as Prince Valdamar turned twelve and was of marriageable age, he told Princess Malfrieda that he wanted to buy two Anglish slave girls he had seen for sale in the local Novgorod slave market.  “Why would you want Anglish girls?” Malfrieda had asked.  “They have some fine young Swedish and Danish girls for sale there and one of them is even rumoured to have been a princess who was captured by Baltic pirates.”

“I want two Anglish girls because that is what my father has been focking in Lade,” he replied, “and he seems to find his woman quite satisfactory so, that is what I want.  Besides, if that Swedish princess was captured by Baltic pirates, she’s lost her virginity long ago.”  So, Princess Malfrieda took Valdamar to the local slave market and he pointed out the slave girls he had found desirable and Malfrieda poked and prodded and confirmed their virginities and she paid three times the price of regular slave girls for the two virgin York Anglish girls who may have been princesses because they may have been captured by Norse pirates.  When Prince Valdamar got his new concubines home, they did not come out of his master suite for a whole week and, when they did finally emerge, the girls were both pregnant.  Princess Malfrieda took the girls under her wings and she made sure they received the best care and treatment possible.  She had wanted Prince Svein to give her another baby and these two would help her along until Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ gained his rightful Danish throne.

(980 AD)  Over Yuletide some Hraes’ named princes visited Prince Valdamar in Novgorod from Polotsk, Prince Hraegvolod and his wife and two sons and his twelve year old daughter, Princess Hraeguneda.  Their Danish family line was originally from The Vik in Norway, but their line had moved to Polotsk generations earlier and they had been ‘named’ in the Hraes’ Company and had run Polotsk for a very long time.  They had a fine time visiting in Novgorod and Prince Valdamar told his mother, Princess Malfrieda, that he found Princess Hraeguneda very attractive and, since she had just come of marriageable age, he wished to ask her father for her hand.  In early spring, Princess Malfrieda sent messengers with fine gifts and a proposal of marriage to Prince Hraegvolod asking for the hand of Princess Hraeguneda in marriage with young Prince Valdamar.

Prince Hraegvolod had some time earlier talked with Prince Ivar about his daughter, Hraeguneda, and the prince of Kiev had shown some interest in the girl, but he felt he should ask her about Prince Valdamar as well, and she replied, “I will not draw off the boots of a slave’s son and I wish to marry Prince Ivar instead, as he has a Roman princess for a mother.”  When Princess Malfrieda’s messengers returned to Novgorod they gave the Polotsk princess’ response to Malfrieda and Valdamar just as they had been told it.  Princess Malfrieda broke down in tears and Prince Valdamar gathered up a regiment of horse from his legion and they sailed up the Lovat River and then down the Dvina and formed up for battle in front of the walls of Polotsk.  They set out their hazel poles to mark the field and they waited for the forces of Polotsk to gather and then they fought a battle before the main gates of the city and the heavy cavalry of the Tenth Novgorod Legion easily routed the combined foot and cavalry of the Polotsk home regiment and Prince Hraegvolod and his two sons were killed in the fighting.

Prince Valdamar entered the city with his troops and he went straight to the Hraes’ palace at the city square and demanded the hand of Hraeguneda from her mother.  When her mother refused, Prince Valdamar tore the clothes off Princess Hraeguneda and began to rape her while his men held her mother back.  As soon as Hraeguneda’s mother saw Prince Valdamar’s huge member, she began shouting that it was the monster of Prince Mal and that she would recognize that penis anywhere and she pleaded with Valdamar to spare her daughter the terror of the thing and to take her instead, as she had already been damaged by the beast.  But Prince Valdamar would not be stopped and his men held her fast as Valdamar raped Hraeguneda in front of her.  The young princess had been saving herself for Prince Ivar and the rape went pretty much as her mother had predicted and there was a lot of blood on the floor of the palace hall and the screams of the young girl echoed down the hallways in all directions until Prince Valdamar had completely sated his lust within her.

Her mother had been in fits the whole while and kept calling Prince Valdamar the spawn of Prince Mal, who carried the monster of Mal between his legs.  She claimed that a party of Scandinavians from Polotsk had been captured by the Drevjane warriors of Prince Mal many years earlier and that she had been raped by Prince Mal and his monster and she had been kept captive until she had given birth to a daughter for Prince Mal and then had been returned to Polotsk alone and now she was sure that Malfrieda had been that daughter because she recognised Prince Valdamar’s monster.

“Your mother has lost her mind!” Prince Valdamar told Princess Hraeguneda as he took his new wife back to Novgorod.  The young princess soon grew fond of her prince’s monster and was pregnant when they received messengers from Prince Ivar of Kiev demanding the return of Princess Hraeguneda to her mother in Polotsk and the payment of wergild for the lives of Prince Hraegvolod and his sons.  “I will send my mother a message,” Hraeguneda told Valdamar, “that, I don’t mind drawing off the boots of my Slav prince for bed as long as his monster accompanies him.”  And they both laughed and frolicked some more in the silks of their bed.

More messengers arrived from Kiev demanding the return of the Princess of Polotsk and Prince Ivar threatened to take a Kievan legion north to come at Prince Valdamar so, the young prince gathered up his Tenth Novgorod Legion and they sailed up the Lovat River and then sailed down the Dnieper to Chernigov and took the city for themselves.  Prince Valdamar placed hazel poles to once again mark the field of battle that Ivar and Helgi had fought upon and he awaited his older brother and his legion.  To make sure that his older brother understood the seriousness that the northern threat posed to his lands, Prince Valdamar and his officers had their way with the women of Chernigov.  Maidens, matrons, wet nurses, wives, even young girls were violated and their men were sent off to Kiev to complain to their prince.

When Prince Ivar went to gather his Kievan legions, he was informed by the commanders that they were under orders to not get involved in the conflict of Hraes’ princes.  When Prince Ivar threatened to have the commanders executed for treason, the commanders just laughed and the legions shut themselves up in their barracks and posted guards throughout their particular city quarters.  It would take an army to punish the legions and Prince Ivar no longer had one.

Prince Sweyn received news from Princess Malfrieda in Novgorod that Prince Valdamar had taken his legion south against Prince Ivar so, he asked Jarl Eirik to lead the Norse Dan’Way fleet south for him and he left Trondheim very early and sailed south with a small war fleet and he met Malfrieda and Hraeguneda in Polotsk and took them with him to Chernigov where they’d heard Prince Valdamar and his legion were holed up.  They planned on talking young Valdamar into returning north to Novgorod to defuse the situation.  But when they got to Chernigov they learned that Prince Valdamar had already led his legion to Kiev.

When Prince Valdamar approached Kiev with his legion, Prince Ivar fled the city with his personal Centuriata and they shut themselves up in the small walled town of Rodnya at the mouth of the Ros’ River.  Prince Valdamar sent a mounted regiment after them and took the rest of his legion into Kiev where they were met by the commanders of the Kievan legions.

“We have been ordered by The Prince and Prince Svein not to get involved in this princely squabble,” the Kievan legion commander told the Novgorod legion commander, “and I suspect that the Prince would require the same from you.”

“We have received no such order,” the Novgorod commander said, looking to his prince, “but I suspect you are correct in surmising that.”

“I know my great grandfather,” Prince Valdamar added, “and I know you are right in surmising that.  We’ll wait here until Prince Sweyn comes with the Dan’Way merchant fleet and we’ll see what he says.  Meanwhile one of our regiments has Prince Ivar under siege in Rodnya.  Send orders to them to keep the city sealed but to take no action against them,” Valdamar told his legion commander, and Prince Valdamar took control of King Frodi’s palace in Kiev and awaited his father’s arrival.  While they knew better than to plunder the women of Kiev as they had done the women in Chernigov, they didn’t mind paying them for their services and soon great feasts were being held throughout Kiev and lustful orgies broke out here and there in the city as well.  And Prince Sweyn arrived earlier than expected with his war fleet and found Kiev to be in a very festive atmosphere for a city he thought might be under siege.  There were drunken soldiers and sailors everywhere, many with a woman under each arm, and there was dancing and music in the main city square and when Sweyn and his men got to King Frodi’s palace, there was an orgy taking place in the great hall.  Prince Valdamar and his officers were enjoying Kiev’s finest professional females along with their feasting.

Prince Valdamar was sitting up on the first high seat, where King Frodi had told Prince Hlod ‘he would get his bastard’s share in due time’ a century earlier, and Valdy was being ridden by a very shapely older woman, but, of course, all the women in the hall were older than Prince Valdamar or, at least, Prince Sweyn hoped they all were.  “I’m glad I left your mother on my ship!” Prince Sweyn told Valdamar just as he was coming.  “Oh my gods, oh my gods,” Valdamar was moaning as he came, and then suddenly he said, “Oh My Gods!” and he pushed the woman off of himself and sat up straight to address his father.  But his monster was standing up straight in front of him as well and the woman who had been riding him threw her one piece of clothing over it and she stood naked in front of the princes.  “Your mother told me you had quite the monster for a lingam and I see that she was not exaggerating,” Sweyn said as he passed his cloak to the woman standing beside him.  ‘Pity,’ he thought as she covered herself, ‘she has a fine body.’

Prince Valdamar told his father that they were doing a little celebrating while awaiting his arrival.  “I’m holding off on killing Ivar until I get your approval,” he said.  “One of my regiments has him under siege in Rodnya with orders to keep him sealed in the town until you arrive with a decision on what we’re to do.”

“I take it that Princess Svia and baby Sviatopolk are with him?” Prince Sweyn asked.  Prince Valdamar answered, “Yes, as far as we know.”

The hall was made a little more presentable when Princesses Malfrieda and Hraeguneda arrived at the palace.  The professional women were all paid and sent home and the feast was sold as a welcoming feast for the princesses of Novgorod and Polotsk.

“How old was I when your mother found me after the Battle of Iskorosten?” Malfrieda asked Sweyn as they settled into King Frodi’s bedroom that night.  “I think you were a year or two older than I was,” Sweyn answered.  “Maybe six or seven?  Why do you ask?”

“Princess Hraeguneda’s mother claims that I might be her daughter and the spawn of Prince Mal of the Drevjane,” Princess Malfrieda answered.  “She saw Valdamar’s lingam and called it the monster of Prince Mal.”

“It is quite the monster!” Sweyn said, laughing a bit.

“When did you see it?” Malfrieda asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sweyn answered.  “When did she see it?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Malfrieda answered.  “She claims she was captured and raped by Prince Mal and that he kept her until she had a baby girl by him and then he sent her back to Polotsk, that she was a captive the whole time.  And she thinks that baby girl is me because I am Valdamar’s mother and she recognized his cock as being of the stock of Prince Mal, the monster of Mal that had raped her over and over again for a year.”

“When did she see young Valdamar’s monster?” Sweyn asked again.

“It doesn’t matter,” Malfrieda said and she tried to carry on with her story but Sweyn interrupted her.  “It does kind of matter!” Sweyn said.  “She’s now his mother-in-law and if he’s been focking her, well, we might want to put a stop to it.”

“Okay,” she said.  “It’s not as bad as that.  She saw Valdamar’s monster when he was raping her daughter.”

“Okay, that’s better,” Sweyn said, then he realized what she had said and he said, “That’s not really any better!  What is going on here?  I thought there was something in the water at Lade!”

“The water at Lade?” she asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sweyn said.  “Just carry on with your story.”

“Princess Hraeguneda’s mother thinks that I am the daughter of Prince Mal because I have passed Prince Mal’s monster on to Valdamar.  But she doesn’t know that I have also passed it on to Ivar as well.  Only Prince Helgi had a cock like yours, you know, large, but not overly so.”

“Not overly so?” Sweyn asked.  “What does that mean?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Malfrieda said.  “You have a fine cock, a very large cock, but it’s not a monster, thank the gods.  Shall I carry on?”

“Please do.”

“If I am Prince Mal’s daughter,” Malfrieda said, “then I am royalty on the Slav side.  And if I’m the daughter of Princess Hraeguneda’s mother, Hraefried, then I’m minor royalty on the Scandinavian side, so I’m not a slave and never have been.  Princess Hraefried was a captive and was never offered up for ransom so, she was never a slave and she was returned to Polotsk a free person.  So, I’ve never been a slave and I am actually royalty and haven’t just married into it!”

“I think that’s great news!” Sweyn offered.

“It is!  It makes me so happy I just want to fock your brains out!”

“Well then it is great news,” Sweyn said.  “I wasn’t planning on using my brain anymore tonight so, fock it!”  And that’s what Princess Malfrieda did.

Jarl Eirik and the Dan’Way fleet began passing along the Dnieper and Eirik met Sweyn on the main quay of Kiev.  “How bad is it?” he asked.  “Pretty bad,” Sweyn answered.  “Prince Valdamar’s legion has Prince Ivar under siege in Rodnya and I have to go there and decide how to resolve this.  Can you come along with me?  I need somebody to help me keep my temper.”

“Things are pretty bad if you’re asking me to help you keep your temper,” Jarl Eirik answered as he joined him.

Prince Sweyn took his warfleet to Rodnya and found that the regiment there had taken the order to seal off Rodnya literally and the town had been going almost a week without food and water.  They were down to eating the stray dogs in the streets and the town wells were almost dry and nobody had bathed the whole time so, the first thing Sweyn did, was have food and drink delivered into the city.  “My wife’s in there,” he told Eirik, “and she may very well be pregnant again.”  Then he arranged for a meeting with his son, Prince Ivar, just inside the town gates and he had a pavilion and a desk with chairs set up before the castle that King Ivar ‘the Boneless’ had built there.  Prince Ivar came out of the castle and entered the pavilion with two Centuriata officers behind him.

“I told you not to fight with Young Prince Valdamar,” Sweyn told Ivar.  “Were you planning on killing him too?”

“What do you mean, him too?” Ivar asked.  “I didn’t kill Prince Helgi.  He fell into the moat during his retreat!”

“Have you happened to notice that all your officers involved in Prince Helgi’s murder are now dead?”

“Not all of them,” Ivar stammered and he did the math and realized the statement was true.

“I had them all killed,” Sweyn said.  “I told your legion commander who was going to be killed and why and he agreed to keep it quiet.”

“That focking bastard!” Ivar cursed under his breath.

“How is Princess Svia and her baby?” Sweyn asked.  “Is she pregnant again?”

“No.  She’s fine.  They’re fine.”

“I want her back,” Sweyn said.

“She’s my wife,” Ivar said.

“Wrong answer,” Sweyn said and he looked over to the awning hanging down from the corner of the pavilion and Jarl Eirik stepped out with his sword and just nicked Prince Ivar’s jugular vein as he walked past him and blood spurted out onto the tabletop and Ivar clutched at his throat then pitched forward into his blood upon the table, dead.

Prince Sweyn got up and Eirik followed him out toward the Centuriata officers that Ivar had posted outside his end of the pavilion.  The jarl still had his sword out and its reddened tip rested high against his shoulder as he walked and the guards threw down their weapons as Sweyn and Eirik walked through them and into the town.  He went to the Hraes’ palace by the town square and he went in and found Princess Svia and her baby.  “I’m taking you back to Kiev with me,” he said, kissing her gently.

Perhaps it was because of all the blood let during the killing of Prince Ivar or perhaps there was some confusing of Jarl Eirik with Prince Erik Blood-Axe, but the story went around that a General Sveinald had been aided by a General Blud in the killing of the Hraes’ prince.  When Sweyn and Eirik and Svia and her baby got back to Kiev, Prince Valdamar was made Grand Prince of the Hraes’ and a great feast was held in celebration without the aid of Kiev’s professional women, at least in King Frodi’s palace.

Jarl Eirik headed back down the Dnieper to catch up with the Dan’Way fleet and Prince Sweyn headed out two days behind him.  They met up with Prince Erik in Baghdad and soon the Nor’Way fleet under Jarl Haakon joined them there as well.

“I’d like to try to spend some time with you in Baghdad,” Erik told his grandson.

“And why is that?” Sweyn asked.

“We’ve been through a lot, lately,” the Prince replied.  “I’m gaining a greater appreciation of the lives around me and I’d like to spend more time with the people that mean the most to me.”

“Well, thank you,” Sweyn said.  “I thought perhaps it was because you were losing faith in my decisions.”

“No,” Erik said flatly.  “Sometimes we face hard decisions where there just aren’t any win-win solutions.  We do the best we can and we live with the results.”

Prince Erik spent two weeks with Sweyn in Baghdad, then he went to India for trade and to spend time with his wives there and he returned to Baghdad a month later with shiploads of Indian slaves for the Caliphate and Constantinople and he spent two more weeks with Sweyn in Baghdad and spent another month in India before returning with more slaves.  The business of exchanging Aesir slaves for Indian untouchables was turning out to be a very lucrative venture and it allowed the Prince to spend more time with his grandson.

While Princess Malfrieda had been in Kiev with Princes Valdamar and Sweyn, she had left Prince Olaf in charge of Novgorod.  He was fifteen and already had surpassed all the legion officers that were training him.  He was growing strong and straight and was very pleasing to the eye.  As Prince Valdamar was packing up to move to Kiev, she realized that her husband Svein had not visited Novgorod for several years.  As she saw her young Valdy off, she knew that she was going to be lonely without him.

CHAPTER SIX

6.0 GRAND PRINCE VALDAMAR RULES IN KIEV  (Circa 980 AD)

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   17.  “The stone now let stand,                my stint is done;

I have ground my share,                 grant me a rest.”

(Fenja said:)

“The stone must not stand,            our stint is not done,

before to Frodi                      his fill we ground.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(980 AD)  Grand Prince Valdamar took over sole rule of the Hraes’, moving into King Frodi’s palace in Kiev with his wife, Princess Hraeguneda and his two Anglish concubines, all at various stages of pregnancy.  Like his father, Prince Sweyn, he was a staunch pagan and he set pagan idols upon the hills around King Frodi’s palace: besides the tripartite Varangian gods of Odin, Thor and Tyr, there was a wooden statue of the Slav god Perun with a head of silver and hair of gold and idols of Khors, Dazh’bog, Stribog, Simar’gl and Mokosh.

Even though still very young, Prince Valdamar was overcome by an insatiable lust for women.  He became prolific in his vice and even seduced married women and violated young girls.  He began acquiring many young concubines from Scandinavia, Angleland, Ireland and some French girls from Frankia.  He even purchased Slav girls from throughout his realm and the surrounding areas and he would sleep with them all together and have them compete for his affections and those that excelled at driving him mad with lust would receive beautiful gifts from India and Cathay and Baghdad and Constantinople.  The areas around Hraes’ that had the girls he desired most, were the lands that he attacked in order to enslave more concubines.

Princesses Svia and Serah lived in Kiev with Prince Valdamar, but were unable to control his insatiable lusts.  And Princes Sweyn and Erik were busy wringing gold from the Nor’Way and Dan’Way trade routes for the Hraes’ Trading Company and Sweyn was building up his fleet in Norway.  Prince Sweyn also was proud of his son taking after him in the ways of war.  But there was a business aspect to all that Valdy did as well.  He conquered the lands nearby with the most beautiful women and the Hraes’ slavers went in after his troops and selected the most beautiful young men and women for their slave sales in Baghdad and Constantinople.  And as Valdy built up his harem in Kiev, the sultans and satraps of the Arabs and the Dukes and Princes of the Romans built up their harems to match in size.  This was good business for the Hraes’ Trading Company, as royal concubines and the furs they were wont to wear were the highest profit lines the company carried.

When Prince Sweyn returned to the west from Hraes’ he brought the First Kievan Legion and the Seventh Mobile Legion with him and he visited his cousin Duke Richard and they set themselves up in Rouen and from there they attacked Angleland.  The legions of Hraes’ caught the walled city of Southampton unaware and they captured the city in the early morning light.  Most of the people were captured as they rose from their beds and went out to do their business.  They were herded onto slaver knars and ransom was offered for the required three days as per the old pagan Roman law and many citizens were ransomed or ransomed themselves while many others were enslaved and shipped off to Kiev for slave training.  And, again, Prince Sweyn had forgone his visit in Novgorod.

Princess Malfrieda was very lonely up in Novgorod and her foremost man there was the handsome Prince Olaf who helped her rule the land.  He was aided by his good friends Thorolf and Rekone and whenever she saw the three young men together she was reminded of her only indiscretion ever regarding her Prince Svein.  When young Olaf had turned twelve and was officially a young man, Princess Malfrieda threw a great birthday feast for the three young men, as Rekone was a few months older and Thorolf was soon to turn twelve as well.  There was much feasting and drinking and the boys were legally allowed to imbibe, even Thorolf, for whom special dispensation had been made.  So, of course, the young men got quite drunk.  Just before midnight, Prince Olaf turned a ghastly pale and threw up upon himself and passed out upon the first highseat that he was sharing with Princess Malfrieda.  Several of his officers helped him up and were going to take him to his sleeping bench in the hall, but Malfrieda directed them to her master suite at the end of the bedchamber hallway.

“It is not suitable for him to sleep in the hall in his state,” she told them.  “I’ll have my handmaidens attend to him in my suite and clean him up.  Perhaps he shall rejoin us later.”  So, Malf’s handmaidens followed the officers into the princess’ suite.  Malfrieda got up, perturbed, then went to the scullery and got a washbowl of water and a cloth and she joined her handmaidens in the master bedroom.  “He needs a proper cleaning,” she told them and she sent them back in the hall to keep an eye on the other two birthday boys.  She had looked down at young Olaf lying on her bed and she unbuttoned his soiled shirt and took it off him and began to wash his muscled chest as Olaf half slept.  There was vomit on the crotch of his pants so she unbuttoned and removed them and there was a stain on his underpants and she could see that he was hard underneath them.  She pulled his shorts off and she couldn’t keep her hands from brushing against his penis and she moved it from side to side and soon, inexplicably, it was in her mouth.  She sucked upon it longingly, but he started to awaken, so she took it out and set it down and patted it, then threw silken sheets upon it and covered Olaf’s lean taut body.  She gathered up her wash basin and returned out into the hall.

Quite a bit after midnight Olaf’s two companions were not in much of a better state, so Princess Malfrieda had her handmaidens escort them to the bedrooms along the one side of the bedchamber hallway.  “Tuck them into the beds and I’ll bring you each a washbasin,” she instructed them and she went back out into the hall and across to the scullery and came out with a washbasin in each hand and carried them with greatest ease across the hall.  All knew that she had been Queen Helga’s handmaiden years before and the legion officers all had loved Empress Helga and, by extension, they all loved Princess Malfrieda.  None could carry a washbasin more regally than she.  She took a washbasin into the first bedroom and she passed it to her handmaiden and said, “Clean him up most royally and when he wakes up in the morn you are to be there to tell him you made a man of him the night before and, if so inclined, show him again how you did it.”  She took the second basin off the hall table and took it into the third bedroom and she repeated her instructions, then went back out into the hall to drink with the legion officers and their wives and women.

Later, when the hall had cleared, she finished off her bottle of fine Frankish wine, then stepped down from her highseat and wandered to her master suite and went into her bedroom as though she’d forgotten young Olaf slept there.  She undressed beside the bed and slipped herself between the sheets and discovered her young prince awaiting her, still hard from the sucking, and she got him wet and strode across his hips as he slept.  She rubbed herself on his navel and she slid him into herself and then she began to ride him and she made a man out of the boy, something she hadn’t done since young Svein in Constantinople.  She was pretty sure that Olaf was a virgin, but she really didn’t know for sure…she just wanted to make certain that he was a man when he awoke.  She rode him till she came and then till she came again and then she felt his warm wet flow within her belly and she got off of him.  She took one last look at his lean frame, then covered it with silk.  She got dressed and blew out the candles in her room and she went out into the hallway and entered the second bedroom of the one side of the hall and she undressed once more and slipped between the sheets.

The next morning, quite late, Malf awoke to the sounds of love making in the bedroom next and then, in a bit, to the same noise beyond the other side of her room.  Once she was sure her handmaidens were up with their ‘men’, she got up and joined them in the hallway.  “Is Prince Olaf up yet?” she asked them and, when no one was sure, they all crept into the master suite and checked the master bedroom.  Young Prince Olaf was still passed out upon the bed.

This was the memory that attended the lonely princess whenever she saw the three young men together and they were together often.  One night, while deep in loneliness, she went out into the hall and she went to Prince Olaf’s bench and she woke him.  “Put your boots on my prince,” she said.  “I’ve heard noises in the hall.”

Olaf got up in his nightshirt and slipped his boots over his bare feet.  He followed his princess, listening carefully for noises.  “I hear nothing,” he said as they walked across the hall.

“I heard it from my bedroom,” she said as she led him down the bedchamber hallway.  They went into the great room of the master suite and there was still only silence.  She led him into her master bedroom and then beside the bed.  She sat him on the edge of it and began to draw his boots off.

Prince Sweyn led his legions from Southampton to the Island of Thanet and the same Aesir treatment was afforded the citizens of Thanet and then Chester and those locations were each plundered for three days in the Roman fashion to which the Kievan Legions were accustomed.  Ransoming was offered and some was given and the unransomed were taken in slaver knars to Kiev for slave training.  It was the second phase of the Great Viking Manifestation of the Middle Ages.  The monasteries were bare, stripped of their silver, and gone was their gold.  Now the people of Western Europe were the silver and the young beautiful women of Christian Europe were the gold.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for that year read:

A.D. 980.  In this year was Ethelgar consecrated bishop, on the

sixth day before the nones of May, to the bishopric of Selsey;

and in the same year was Southampton plundered by a pirate-army,

and most of the population slain or imprisoned.  And the same

year was the Isle of Thanet overrun, and the county of Chester

was plundered by the pirate-army of the North.  In this year

Alderman Alfere fetched the body of the holy King Edward at

Wareham, and carried him with great solemnity to Shaftsbury.

CHAPTER SEVEN

7.0 THE POLISH TOWNS OF CHERVEN  (Circa 981 AD)

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   18.  “Our hands shall hold          the hard spear shafts,

weapons gory:                Awake, Frodi!

Awake, Frodi,                if listen though wilt

to our olden songs,              to our ancient lore.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

Map

Description automatically generated

The Cherven Towns of Poland

(981 AD)  Young Polish girls must have won the first round of the competition for the affections of Prince Valdamar because the prince first marched against the Lyakhs of south-eastern Poland, attacking the cities of Peremyshl, Czerwein, Belz and other towns there.  The Hraes’ just knew them as the Cherven towns and the campaign started in the early spring, just after the Hraes’ trading fleet had sailed down the Dnieper River.  Prince Valdamar’s Fourth Kievan Mobile Legion followed the merchant fleet south to the Scythian Sea and then sailed up the Dniester River to its source and then the troops left their ships under guard and rode north to Przemysl on the San River and took the town without a fight.  They pillaged the town for three days and took half the people into slavery and offered them ransoms that very few could afford.  Prince Valdamar then went through all the young women of the town and selected those he wanted added to his covey of women in Kiev and then half the people were marched to slaver knars and were taken for slave training in Kiev and Tmutorokan.

Next they attacked the town of Sanok, upstream on the San River and carried the town and then portaged a number of their transport ships from the Dniester to the San and transported half the people to the portage and marched them to slaver knars on the Dniester.  Again, Prince Valdamar surveyed the young women of the town and selected those he wanted in his covey.  Then they sailed down the San to Jaroslaw and captured that town and used the same procedure to enslave half the populace.  They didn’t even bother to offer ransoms because the people had little gold or silver to buy their freedom.  They were worth too much as slaves in Baghdad to be able to buy their own freedom back.  By now there were slaver knars operating on the San and they would shuttle the slaves to the portage point and march them across to other slaver knars on the Dniester for transport to Hraes’.  It was becoming a well oiled operation with little resistance.  The Hraes’ Trading Company was big enough to cover all aspects of the invasion and occupation so things ran smoothly.

Prince Valdamar then split up his forces and sent his heavy cavalry northeast to Lubaczow with orders to capture Belz, then Czerwien, Wolyn, Chelm, Kraznystaw and then Saciaska.  The people enslaved from these towns were then marched a long way to Jaroslaw before being taken aboard slaver knars, and the march and lack of food was very hard on the people.  Valdamar noticed this is the lean forms of the young girls he was inspecting for his harem at his headquarters in Przemysl.

His footsoldiers went by ship and captured the town of Lesajsk, then sailed up the tributary Wislok River and took Rzeszow and Krosno, then portaged their ships to the Wisloka and took the towns of Jaslo, Debica and Mielec before entering the larger Wisla River and taking Tarnobrzeg and Sandomierz before getting back on the tributary San River and taking Stalowa Wola and Lesajsk again before returning to Jaroslaw and then their headquarters in Przemysl so that Prince Valdamar could inspect the enslaved and pick out his prize girls once more before the slavers took the rest away.  The whole operation took most of the summer and, with slave demand high in the middle east, most Lyakhs received a few weeks of slave preparation in Tmutorokan before being transported to Baghdad for sale.  The women were not being properly trained to meet Islamic sexual expectations and the castrated young men were not given time to properly heal before being sold to the eunuch armies of the east.  It was not good for the Hraes’ branding, but high profits resulted and client demands were, for once, being fully met.  Between the Anglo-Saxons, Slavs, Poles and Untouchables, the voracious slave demand of the Mediterranean market was being sated.

In the fall, Prince Valdamar returned to Kiev, leaving the Fourth Mobile Legion in the Cherven lands to hold the towns against Polish retaliatory attack, but none seemed to be coming.  Resistance had been light and Polish troops had withdrawn before the Hraes’ assault, so skat was being collected from the captured towns.  They didn’t have much with which to pay it, but people could be turned over to the troops for payment in lieu.  The operation had gone surprisingly well and Valdamar had learned that he had a gift for organization and problem solving.  When shortage problems had arisen he had come up with innovative solutions for them and all the while he was test riding his new Kievan covey additions.  A few of the girls had to be sent off to Baghdad instead of Kiev, but he looked forward to spending the winter reviewing his choices while testing his existing wives to see who he would attack next year.

When Prince Sweyn returned to Kiev from Baghdad, he went through the legion roles to pick out replacements for the men he had lost in Angleland the previous winter.  Again he missed his Novgorod visit on his way north and in the late fall he resumed his attack on the British Isle.  He left the Second Kievan Legion on the Isle of Wight to control Southampton and area and he took the Eighth Mobile Legion with him to St. Petroc’s Stow where half the population was enslaved and ransom was offered once again and many citizens ransomed themselves while many others remained enslaved and were shipped off to Kiev for slave training.  The same Aesir treatment was afforded the citizens of Devonshire and Wales and all three locations were plundered for three days each in the Roman fashion to which the Kievan Legions were accustomed.

North in Novgorod, Princess Malfrieda kept hearing noises in her longhall and young Prince Olaf kept checking on them for his princess, but it always seemed to result in the drawing off of his boots and the riding of his steed.  In a longhall as big as the hall of Malfrieda, there were always people waking up in the night at their benches and people were eventually beginning to talk about the noises their princess was hearing and of the noises emanating from her bedroom while young Olaf was investigating them.

ONCE UPON A WAYSIDE INN:

Thou art Prince Olaf, of Astrid’s bairns!”

Then as Princess Malfrieda’s page,

Old in honors, young in age,

Chief of all her men-at-arms;

Till vague noises, drawing boots mysterious,

Reached Prince Valdamar, the imperious,

Filling him with strange alarms.

Then his cruisings o’er the seas,

Westward to the Hebrides,

And to Scilly’s rocky shore;

And the hermit’s cavern dismal,

Christ’s great name and rites baptismal,

In the ocean’s rush and roar.

All these thoughts of love and strife

Glimmered through his lurid life,

As the stars’ intenser light

Through the red flames o’er him trailing,

As his ships went sailing, sailing,

Northward in the summer night.

Trained for either camp or court,

Skilful in each manly sport,

Young and beautiful and tall;

Art of warfare, craft of chasing,

Swimming, bone skating, snow-board racing,

Excellent alike in all.

When at sea, with all his rowers,

He along the bending oars

Outside of his ship could run.

He the Smalsor Horn ascended,

And his shining shield suspended

On its summit, like a sun.

Henry ‘Long Fellow’ of Wadsworth

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for that year read:

A.D. 981.  In this year was St. Petroc’s-stow plundered; and in

the same year was much harm done everywhere by the sea-coast,

both upon Devonshire and Wales.  And in the same year died

Elfstan, Bishop of Wiltshire; and his body lieth in the minster

at Abingdon; and Wulfgar then succeeded to the bishopric.  The

same year died Womare, Abbot of Ghent.

CHAPTER EIGHT

8.0 THE REBELLION OF THE VIATICHI  (Circa 982 AD)

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   19.  “My eye sees fire                  east of the castle;

battle cries ring out,             beacons are kindled!

Hosts of foemen                   hither will wend

To burn down the hall         over thy head.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(982 AD)  In the spring, the Vyatichians northeast of Kiev failed to make the tithe payment of a silver piece per ploughshare that Prince Sweyn had levied against them years earlier, so, after the Hraes’ merchant fleet had passed south through Kiev, Prince Valdamar led elements of his First and Second Kievan Legions against them.  He had sent messengers to his mother, Princess Malfrieda, to send the Tenth Novgorod Mobile Legion southeast to help and young Prince Olaf was soon at the head of the legion wending his way towards the Volga.  The two legions met just west of the City of Murom and Olaf joined Prince Valdamar in his campaign pavilion.  Valdy had met the Norwegian a few times in the past in the hall of his mother, but he had been a boy then.  Prince Olaf was now a fine young warrior and officer and the Grand Prince of Kiev shook his hand and welcomed him to the conflict zone.

“Because the Viats refused to pay their skat they have been expecting us,” Valdy started, “so we haven’t been able to surprise them.  So we’ve set our hazel poles and hope to draw their army out of the city to fight us on the open ground,” and the legion officers spread out a velum map showing the City of Murom and the proposed battlefield.  “Their forces outnumber our Kievan forces, but with the addition of your troops we shall crush them.”

“I don’t have my full legion here,” Prince Olaf warned him.  “I left a regiment of heavy cavalry downstream on the Oka River awaiting orders.  The Viati don’t know they are there.”

“We need your full legion to crush them,” the Grand Prince said.

Olaf studied the map, then said, “If we outnumber then, they may not come out from behind their walls to fight us.  If we meet them with an equal force they will come out and meet us here,” he said, pointing to the battlefield, “and my hidden horse can come up the Oka and attack the city and try to catch them by surprise.”

Valdamar looked at the map then asked, “Where are your men hidden?”

“We found some nice cover along the Oka here,” Olaf said, “so they peeled off as we went by it and they ducked their ships under overgrowth as we sailed on and then went past Murom to your camp here.  I can sail back down the Oka tonight, under cover of darkness, and we can attack the city at noon tomorrow while you are fighting their army on the battlefield.”

“It might work,” Valdy said, flashing the young prince a smile.  “It’s the kind of plan my father, Prince Sweyn, would have come up with.  I like it.  Let’s try it!”

So that night Prince Olaf and a dozen of his officers rowed a twelve oared boat down the Oka and they followed the east bank of the river until they near bumped into their ships hunkered down under overgrowth that dipped down into the waters.  Olaf met Thorolf and Rekone on board their shieldship and he went through the plan with them.  They caught a bit of sleep under ships’ awnings and began rowing their ships upstream at first light.  Olaf had slept fitfully the night before because something Prince Valdamar had said bothered him.  “It’s the king of plan my father would have come up with,’ Olaf remembered him saying so Olaf confirmed with a legion officer that it had been Prince Sweyn who had conquered the Viatichi in the first place.  They might be watching for something like that and a regiment of heavy cavalry approaching the city would be quickly spotted and city gates would be quickly shut.  But a twelve oared boat with a dozen traders in it wouldn’t cause any panic.  Traders might not even know there was a battle starting on the other side of the city, so their approach would be just business as usual.

The troop transport ships of the mobile legion shifted over to the trees on the west bank when they saw Murom on that bank of the river far off in the distance.  They used the cover of the trees to unload their horses undetected, but the city was clear of all trees for half a mile around it, so it would be an open charge to the city gates for that bit and young Olaf didn’t like the odds of it working if the Viats were on the lookout for Sweyn’s trickery.  He and Thorolf and two dozen men would go in the twelve oared boat dressed as Volga traders.  Olaf and his dozen would row and Thorolf and his dozen would lay in hiding at their feet.  Once they were at the city quay, Rekone would begin the regimental charge across the open field.  So the regiment of heavy horse waited in the trees on the west bank of the Oka as Olaf and his twelve rowed the boat they had taken downstream the night before back upstream.  A lone harbour pilot approached them from the city gates as they pulled up to the quay and Olaf led his dozen down the quay to meet him, all acting happy and half cut as though without a care in the world and Olaf killed the pilot with a quick thrust of his sword and his men caught up the body and turned it around so it looked to the gate keepers that the pilot was leading them into the city.  Olaf could hear the sound of battle emanating from Prince Valdamar’s battlefield south of the city and he looked north and could see the regiment coming out of the trees and beginning their charge and then he saw Thorolf and their second dozen slinking out of the twelve oar boat and Olaf and his captain killed the gate keepers as they walked into the city and they took up the fallen Viatchi shields and they held the gates open as the troops up on the walls realized what was happening and began to shoot arrows at them from above.  By then Thorolf and his dozen men got to the gates with extra shields and passed them out and they formed a testudo between the open gates.

Next, the city bells started ringing in alarm when the heavy horse formation was spotted charging for the city and soon a troop of Viat soldiers were charging the Volga traders who were holding the city gates.  Shield walls crashed as the troops tried to drive the traders back out from between the gates, but Prince Olaf and his men held their ground as the hacking of shields began and men were falling on both sides as the heavy cavalry got closer to Murom’s city walls.  Olaf stepped back out of the cover of the gates and he felt the arrows pelting his shield overhead as he watched the cavalry approaching.  He ordered his men to back away to the sides just as the heavy horse came through and bowled over the Viatichi troops that were at the gates.  Two thousand mail armoured knights poured into the streets of Murom and began shooting the defenders off the walls from inside and, within minutes, the western quarter of the city was taken and the heavy horse continued moving further into the other quarters.

While the knights were busy with that, Olaf and Thorolf got some mounts and led a contingent of heavy horse out of the gates and rode south towards the battlefield.  When the Kievan legion saw that the Novgorod horse had taken the town they redoubled their efforts, smelling victory, and they drove the Viatichi shield wall back a dozen paces.  The Viatichians didn’t realize that the city had fallen so their back rank turned to face the charging horse and then they saw the red and black Raven Banners flying from the corner towers of Murom’s city walls.  Some of them kept fighting, but most of them threw down their swords and were bent over their shields by the Hraes’ Aesir troops according to old Roman Vanir pagan law.

It was a great victory with surprisingly little loss of life, the highest losses being among the troops that had fought hard at the gates.  Prince Olaf had lost half his men holding the gates, but that loss had saved many more lives on both sides of the field.  Grand Prince Valdamar was elated with the victory and he compensated Olaf’s losses with gold and first choice in the beautiful girls he would select from the half of the people of Murom that he planned to enslave.  And Valdy gave some of the girls to Thorolf and Rekone too.  The two Hraes’ legions took over the city for three days of feasting and pillaging and the young Novgorod leaders were carried about the town on their shields as King Ivar ‘the Boneless’ had been wont to do.  Valdamar couldn’t do enough for his young Norwegian and Eistonian men.

Some of the older Novgorod legion officers became resentful of all the attention and laurels Prince Olaf was being given so, after the third day, a few of them met with Grand Prince Valdamar and told him about the rumours that were circulating in the northern city.  It was being said that young Prince Olaf was having regular sexual relations with Princess Malfrieda, Valdamar’s mother, and the grand prince took the claims under advisement and said nothing to Olaf about the charges.  He planned to go to Novgorod and confront his mother with the news and see what her expression would be.  But first he had some new Viatichian wives he had to select.  Slaver knars were coming up the Volga from Tmutorokan and would soon be coming up the Oka to Murom to gather up the enslaved for training.  The grand prince would have time for a good visit.  He had expected to be spending the summer besieging Murom, but, thanks to Olaf, he now had plenty of time to find out what the fock was going on in Novgorod.  Valdamar really liked Olaf.  He was the same age of great ability and Valdy was hoping to give him more responsibilities, and could overlook a few indiscretions, but if the rumours were true, his father, Prince Sweyn, would not.  He would tear out the young prince a brand new asshole and then he’d ship Olaf to Wallachia and Count Vladimir would impale both the new and the old assholes.

Prince Valdamar picked himself out half a dozen new Viat wives and he gave two beautiful slaves to Olaf and one each to Thorolf and Rekone.  They enjoyed there new wives as the slavers hauled away almost half the people of Murom, the ones that couldn’t afford ransoms.  Then he doubled the tithes required of those left to two pieces of silver per ploughshare and he sent the Kievan legions back home and he went with the Tenth Novgorod Mobile Legion to visit his mother, Malfrieda.

The victory celebrations followed the legion to Novgorod and Grand Prince Valdamar was sharing the first highseat with his mother, Princess Malfrieda, in her highseat hall and as the night drew on and the feasting ended and the heavy drinking began, Valdamar looked over at his half cut mother and said, “I have learned that Prince Olaf has been forcing himself on you and focking you!”

Malfrieda looked shocked and guilty and exclaimed, “No!  It’s not like that!  He has never forced himself on me!”  Then she realized how much like a confession her protest had sounded.  “I’ve been lonely up here,” she confessed.  “You never visit.  Your father never visits!  He was going to conquer Denmark and make me his queen there.  Now all he ever does is trade and raid the Anglish and harvest their people.”

“I would overlook it,” Valdamar confessed, “but Sveinald ‘the Brave’ won’t.  You’d better get Prince Olaf out of the country before father finds out.  I won’t say anything because I kinda like Olaf, but he has enemies here that will if he’s still around and they won’t if he isn’t.”

Princess Malfrieda looked down at her shoes and said, “I’ll handle it.  Thank you for giving Olaf this boon.”

“I also gave Olaf two fine new Viatichian wives that may almost make up for losing you, and I’ll talk to father about Denmark, but I think he is using the Anglish to build up his war chest against the Romans.  He’s been harvesting their women, children and churls, but he’s been enlisting their captured warriors into our legions instead of bending them over their shields.  He ran out of manpower the last time he tried to take Constantinople.  With both Angleland and Denmark under his crown, he may not run out of troops this time.”

“I’ll try to be patient,” she responded, “but please, please, please, tell him to visit.”

“I will,” Valdy assured her and he gave her a big hug.

When Prince Sweyn returned to Hraes’ from Baghdad in the fall, Prince Olaf and his two friends and their new concubines were already raiding in the Baltic in three fine new warships that Princess Malfrieda gave them.  Sweyn visited with Valdamar in Kiev, collecting the Third Kievan Legion and the Ninth Mobile Legion while there, and then he stopped in at Novgorod for two weeks and visited with his wife, Malf, while the legions made their way to the Isle of Wight in southern Angleland.  By making up time in a fast warship he almost beat the transports there and from the Isle they attacked Angleland.  They began raiding all of Dorsetshire and they attacked and sacked the City of Portland there.  Most of the population of Portland was captured and half were enslaved and ransom was offered and many citizens ransomed themselves while many others couldn’t and were shipped off to Kiev for slave training.  The same Aesir treatment was afforded half the citizens of Dorsetshire and the conquered towns were each plundered for three days in the Roman fashion to which the Kievan Legions had become accustomed.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for that year read:

A.D. 982.  In this year came to Dorsetshire three (hundred?) ships of the

pirates, and plundered in Portland.  The same year London was

burned.  In the same year also died two aldermen, Ethelmer in

Hampshire, and Edwin in Sussex.  Ethelmer’s body lieth in

Winchester, at New-minster, and Edwin’s in the minster at

Abingdon.  The same year died two abbesses in Dorsetshire;

Herelufa at Shaftsbury, and Wulfwina at Wareham.  The same year

went Otho, emperor of the Romans, into Greece; and there met he a

great army of the Saracens, who came up from the sea, and would

have proceeded forthwith to plunder the Christian folk; but the

emperor fought with them.  And there was much slaughter made on

either side, but the emperor gained the field of battle.  He was

there, however, much harassed, ere he returned thence; and as he

went homeward, his brother’s son died, who was also called Otho;

and he was the son of Leodulf Atheling.  This Leodulf was the son

of Otho the Elder and of the daughter of King Edward.

CHAPTER NINE

9.0 SUBDUING THE YATVINGIANS  (Circa 983 AD)

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   20.  “No longer thou                     Liere shalt hold,

have rings of red gold,        nor the mill of riches.

Harder the handle               let us hold, sister;

our hands are not warm yet      with warriors’ blood.

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(983 AD)  Prince Valdamar had purchased a Yatvingian concubine and, finding her quite pleasing, decided to conquer her people so, he led his Second Kievan Legion west against the Yatvingians and began an attack upon their towns located between Lithuania and Poland.  He had it in mind to conquer them and connect them to his Cherven Towns acquisitions he had made two years earlier.  He carried the towns quickly but their main City of Raj had stockade walls that required a siege so he spent most of the summer with his troops until the city had to surrender or starve.  The grand prince enslaved half the population and he kept the most beautiful young girls for his royal covey of concubines.  The slaver knars spent the rest of the summer transporting Yatvingian captives back to Kiev for slave training and some of the enslaved from the towns had already been trained and forwarded for sale in Baghdad by the time the Raj citizens began arriving in Valdamar’s growing Dnieper city.  The grand prince already missed his mother’s lead officer, Olaf Tryggvason.

Prince Olaf had won several battles in Hraes’ and had been lucky as a leader of troops.  He had been very generous with his men, and therefore very popular, but then it came to pass, what so often happens when a foreigner is raised to higher power and dignity than the local men of the country, that many envied him because he was so favoured by Princess Malfrieda of Novgorod and had been garnering favour with the Grand Prince of Kiev as well.  But a scandal was avoided when Princess Malfrieda gave Prince Olaf and his companions three new warships to sail to his Northern lands, where his family formerly had power and kingdoms, and where it was more likely that he would prosper.  Princess Malfrieda wished him a wonderful journey, and said he would be found a brave man wherever he might travel.  Olaf, Thorolf and Rekone then made ready with their crews and set out to sea in the Baltic.  As they were sailing west they came upon the Island of Bornholm which they attacked and plundered.  The country warriors hurried down to their southern strand and gave them battle, but Olaf and his men gained the victory and took much booty.

While Olaf lay at Bornholm there came on bad weather, a storm, and a heavy sea, so that his ships could not lie there, so he sailed southwards to Wendland, where they found a good harbour.  They conducted themselves very peacefully there and remained some time.  In Wendland there was then a king called Burizleif, who had three daughters: Geira, Gunhild, and Astrid.  The king’s daughter Geira had the power and government in that part where Olaf and his men had landed and Dixen was the name of the man who most usually advised Queen Geira.  When they heard that unknown people had come to their shores, who were of distinguished appearance, and conducted themselves peaceably, Dixen went to them with a message from Princess Geira, inviting the strangers to take up their winter abode with her, for the summer was almost spent and the weather would soon be severe and stormy.

Now when Dixen came to the place he soon saw that the leader was a distinguished man, both from family and personal appearance, and he told Olaf of the princess’s invitation with the most kindly message.  Olaf willingly accepted the invitation and went in see Princess Geira.  They liked each other exceedingly, and Olaf courted Geira and it was soon settled that Prince Olaf married her the same winter and was ruler, along with Princess Geira, over her dominions.

When King Sweyn returned to Hraes’ from Baghdad he spent time visiting with Valdamar in Kiev and he made sure to spend even more time with his wife Malf in Novgorod.  Then he took some fresh troops to his Viking camp on the Isle of Wight and from there he took his legions to Ireland and they attacked and conquered the City of Cork on the south coast of the island and from there they attacked the surrounding county.  Half the population of Cork was captured and ransom was offered and the unransomed were enslaved and transported to Kiev for slave training.  Prince Sweyn had his legions forgo attacking Angleland because he wanted to overwinter with Malf in Novgorod and he wanted his forces to lay low on Wight.  The Danish Hraes’ ships protected the Southampton shore from other Vikings for tribute that was paid in food and mead and women.

Prince Olaf Tryggvason had been all winter in Wendland, as before related, and went the same winter to the baronies there that had formerly been under Princess Geira’s rule, but had fallen away from obedience and payment of taxes.  There Olaf made war, killed many people, burnt out others, took much property, and laid all of them under subjection to him, and then went back to his castle.  Early in spring Olaf rigged out his ships and set off to sea and sailed to Skane and made a landing there.  The warriors of the country assembled and gave him battle; but King Olaf conquered them and made great booty.

He then sailed eastward to the island of Gotland, where he captured a merchant vessel belonging to the people of Jamtaland.  They made a brave defence; but the end of it was that Olaf cleared the deck, killed many of the men, and took all the goods.  He had a another battle in Gotland, in which he also gained the victory, and made great booty.

So says Halfred Vandredaskald:

“The king, so fierce in battle-fray,
First made the Vindland men give way:
The Gotlanders must tremble next;
And Scania’s shores are sorely vexed
But the sharp pelting arrow shower
Doesn’t flinch Prince Olaf’s power;
And then the Jamtaland men must fly,
Scared by his well-known battle-cry.”

The Irish Annals entry for that year read:

A.D. 983.  In this year was Ethelgar consecrated bishop, on the

sixth day before the nones of May, to the bishopric of Selsey;

and in the same year was Cork plundered by a pirate-army,

and most of the population slain or imprisoned and the County of Cork

was plundered by the pirate-army of the North.

CHAPTER TEN

10.0 CONQUERING THE RADIMICHI  (Circa 984 AD)

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   21.  “My father’s daughter           doughtily ground,

for the death of hosts          did she foresee;

even now the strong booms           burst from the quern,

the staunch iron stays–      yet more strongly grind!”

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

The Radimichi fight the Hraes’ (From the Radzivill Chronicle)

(984 AD)  Prince Valdamar happened to purchase a Radimichian concubine that he found quite pleasing, so he decided to conquer her people as well.  The Radimichi just east of the Dnieper were already under the Hraes’ fold and ran the Dvina-Dnieper portage for them in their City of Smolensk, but the Radimichi east of them paid ‘wagon skat’, a token amount that allowed them to keep their own prince in power, but Prince Valdamar had decided that he liked his Radimichi princess so well, it was time to bring them all into the fold.  He was busy spending time with her, so he sent his general named Ulvehale, or ‘Wolf’s Tail’, with a legion against them and the general met their forces by the Pishchan’ River and defeated them, then took their city by force.  He enslaved half the population and the Hraes’ legionnaires joked that the Radimichians had run at the sight of a wolf’s tail.  Prince Valdamar went to the city of Homiy and he picked the most beautiful young girls for his royal covey.

Prince Olaf Tryggvason was three years in Wendland when Princess Geira suddenly fell sick and she died.  It happened very quickly and Olaf felt his loss so greatly that he had no pleasure in Wendland after it.  He provided himself, therefore, with an additional three warships, and went out again plundering, and he raided first in Friesland, then next in Saxland, and then all the way to Flanders, just east of Rouen.  Prince Olaf knew that the City of Rouen and all Normandy was but an extension of Hraes’ power so he decided to overwinter their, using Novgorod connections in Frankia to get himself introduced to the Duke of Rouen.

So says Halfred Vandredaskald:

“Olaf’s broad axe of shining steel
For the shy wolf left many a meal.
The ill-shaped Saxon corpses lay
Heaped up, the witch-wife’s horses (raven’s) prey.
She rides by night: at pools of blood.
Where Friesland men in daylight stood,
Her horses slake their thirst, and fly
On to the field where Flemings lie.
The raven-friend in Odin’s dress —
Olaf, who foes can well repress,
Left Flemish flesh for many a meal
With his broad axe of shining steel.”

When King Sweyn returned to the west from Hraes’ he took half his legions from Wight to Dub-Lin, where he met up with the Ui Imair and prepared to do further raiding on the Emerald Isle coast.  They attacked the City of Waterford in the south and most of the citizens were captured and ransom was offered and many citizens ransomed themselves while many others were enslaved and shipped off to Kiev for slave training.  The city was plundered for three days in the Roman fashion and then the Ui Imair set up a trading station and Longphort there to extend the power of the Hraes’ in Ireland.  Prince Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ was slowly bringing both southern Angleland and Ireland into the Danish fold for his upcoming claim on the Throne of Rome.  Princess Malfrieda was waiting impatiently in Novgorod for her Danish crown and Princess Sviataslava was waiting impatiently in Kiev for her Laurel Leaves of Constantinople.

The Irish Annals entry for that year read:

A.D. 984.  In this year was Waterford plundered by a pirate-army,

and most of the population slain or imprisoned. 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

11.0 THE VOLGA BULGARS  (Circa 985 AD)

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(Menja said:)

   22.  “Yet more swiftly grind:          the son of Yrsa

Frodi’s blood will crave        for the bane of Halfdan–

he Hrolf is hight              and is to her

both son and brother,          as both of us know.”

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(985 AD)  After Prince Valdamar brought the eastern Radimichi into the Hraes’ fold and further Radimichi beauties into his covey he had planned to campaign west into Poland and gain more Polish principalities.  He wanted to connect his Cherven towns with his Yatvingian conquest to establish a solid set of buffer states between Hraes’ and Poland.  But a Nor’Way trader happened overwinter in Kiev and he gifted Grand Prince Valdamar with a young Bulgar beauty that he found quite pleasing.  So the prince took a legion east, instead, to conquer the Volga Bulgars, but their kagan got quite upset because he had paid his tithes to Kiev and had been fully supporting the Nor’Way traders plying the Volga River so, he didn’t think the young prince had any right to attack him.  He then told young Valdamar that he would complain to Prince Svein about this treatment and Valdamar’s General Ulvehale added that they’ll never fall in line because they wear boots and not shoes, so, Prince Valdamar asked the kagan if he could purchase some more young Bulgar princesses for his royal covey and they came to terms and he made peace and they took oaths between them.  The Bulgar kagan then declared, “May peace prevail between us till stone floats and straw sinks.”  Prince Valdamar returned to Kiev with six more young Bulgar beauties.

After overwintering in Rouen, Prince Olaf Tryggvason sailed to England and raided and ravaged wide around the land.  He sailed all the way to Northumberland, where he plundered some and then to Scotland, where he marauded far and wide.  Then he went to the Hebrides, where he fought some battles; and then southwards to the Isle of Man, where he also fought.  He ravaged far around Ireland and then steered to Bretland, which he laid waste with fire and sword, and all the district called Cumberland.  He sailed westward from thence to Valland, and marauded there.  When he left the west, intending to sail to England, he came to the islands called the Scilly Isles, lying westward from England in the ocean.

Thus tells Halfred Vandraskald of these events:

The brave young king, who ne’er retreats,
The Englishman in England beats.
Death through Northumberland is spread
From battleaxe and broad spearhead.
Through Scotland with his spears he rides;
To Man his glancing ships he guides:
Feeding the wolves where’er he came,
The young king drove a bloody game.
The gallant bowmen in the isles
Slew foemen, who lay heaped in piles.
The Irish fled at Olaf’s name —
Fled from a young king seeking fame.
In Bretland, and in Cumberland,
People against him could not stand:
Thick on the fields their corpses lay,
To ravens and howling wolves a prey.”

When Prince Sweyn once again returned to the west from Hraes’ he went to his legions on Wight and learned from them that the City of Aemstelland (Amsterdam) in Holland was flush with booty and teaming with citizens of beauty and culture…the kind of people that would sell very well in Baghdad and Constantinople.  So the legions sailed from Wight and attacked Frisia and the Netherlands.  Most of the population of Amsterdam was captured and ransom was offered and many citizens were ransomed while many others were enslaved.  The city was plundered for three days in the old Roman fashion and then the slaver knars arrived, but the sheer numbers of the enslaved were so great, the slaver fleet was overwhelmed.  There was a shortage of ocean going knars so all the male slaves were shipped off for training in Kiev, but all the women and children were shipped back to Wight in smaller knars and warships to await the larger knars’ return.  The Holland women were very blonde and very beautiful and it was said that their cries and moans carried out across the Solway so long and loud that they were heard in Southampton harbour.

The Frisian Chronicle entry for that year read:

A.D. 985.  In this year was Amsterdam plundered by a pirate-army,

and most of the population slain or imprisoned. 

CHAPTER TWELVE

12.0 PRELUDE TO THE BATTLE OF HJORUNGAVAGR  (Circa 986 AD)

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   23.  “The mighty maidens,          they ground amain,

Strained their young limbs     of giant strength;

the shaft tree quivered,       the quern toppled over,

the heavy slab                  burst asunder.”

Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(986 AD)  In the early spring, Prince Valdamar took his favourite Lyakh concubine princess along with his new Radimichian princess with him to Peremyshl and Homiy to collect the annual tithes from the cities.  He had a regiment of mobile troops with him as they sailed upriver to the land of the Lyakhs, but Valdamar spent most of his time with the girls under the forecastle deck having sex.  It was evening when they got to Peremyshl, and Valdamar took his Lyakh princess into the prince’s longhall, but there was nobody there.  Valdamar looked around and then asked his princess, “Where can we duck into and have some quick sex?” and she took him behind the highseats and there was a space under the dais among some tapestries where they could snuggle together so they dove into the woollens and started focking.  No sooner had they started making out when some warriors entered the longhall and they came to the highseats and sat and began talking in western Slav.  Prince Valdamar and his princess were both naked and they both froze so they wouldn’t be discovered in such a compromising condition.

“The Jomsvikings of Wollin are going to attack the Jarls of Lade in a month,” one warrior began, “and there’s gold for any of our warriors who want to join in on the attack.”

“They’re mercenaries,” another warrior countered.  “Why are they attacking the jarls and who’s paying them?”

“King Harald, of course!” the first warrior answered.  “The Jarls of Lade have been hiding a Prince Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ in Trondheim Fjord and it turns out Sweyn is actually Prince Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson, King Gorm ‘the Old’ Ivarson’s long lost brother, and Harald is worried he may be after the Danish throne.”

“If he’s King Gorm’s brother, doesn’t he have precedence over Harald?”

“Who cares?  Gold is gold.”

“Gold or not,” the second warrior replied, “I don’t want to get involved in any fratricidal shit.  It sounds focked!”

“We’ll be leaving in two weeks, if you change your mind,” the first warrior said, then he walked out of the hall.  The second warrior left his highseat and went into the back of the hall to one of the bedrooms there.  Prince Valdamar and his princess got up and got dressed.  “That was our prince,” she said.  “We have to go.  He could come back out anytime,” she whispered.  They crept out of the hall.

“I want to leave right away,” Prince Valdamar told her as they left the hall.  “I don’t want anybody to know we were here.”

“I want us to take my younger sister away with us,” the princess said.  “She’s almost marrying age and I miss her.  She’s very beautiful and I think you’d really like her.”

She took Valdamar’s hand and led him to her family’s longhall and she snuck in and came back out with her little sister and Valdamar was quite pleased with what he saw in the dusk.  They went back to their ship and they left without being seen.  They rejoined their fleet on the Nieman River and Valdamar sent one ship back to Kiev with a message for Princess Svia and he took thirty ships with him and he left for Lade.

When Prince Valdamar’s fleet entered the Baltic and sailed west towards Denmark, the prince spent most of his time below the foredeck with his three concubines.  His Lyakh princess pleaded with Valdamar to wait until her younger sister reached marrying age before he had his way with her, but he would not be put off.  Towels were put down atop the furs of the forecastle and the two older concubines performed nominal congress on their prince and, when he was ready, they helped the young girl to lower herself onto his lingam.  The girl was having difficulty with the size of the thing and she could not seem to get it up into herself, but the ship hit a wave and suddenly it was done and the blood flowed onto the towels as he slid gently into her.  She rode him a bit, but when she began to experience discomfort, her older sister took over and slid onto her prince and rode him like a seahorse.  The Radimichi princess watched and awaited her turn and when she was done they all got dressed and went above deck.

A young Hraes’ sailor was partway up the mast, peering over the yardarm and surveying the sea for pirates.  He was young and strong with extremely good vision so, he got the job as lookout.  He shouted the ‘all clear’ and clambered back down the mast.  Prince Valdamar stood at the forestem of his shieldship with his Radimichi princess under his left arm and his Lyakh princess under his right arm and his new wife stood tucked in between the prince and her older sister.  The islands of Denmark were soon approaching from the west and the lookout went back up the mast.  Now he was surveying the sea for Danish warships as they tacked north along the Sound, the channel between Skane and Zealand.  They hugged the coast of Skane and Vaster Gotland and were thankful they saw no ships of King Harald ‘Bluetooth’.  They camped on the coast of Gotland and on the next day they sailed east across the mouth of the Vik and were thankful they weren’t intercepted by the warships of the sons of King Harald Finehair.  They had a fine wind and made it to Stavanger Fjord and they stayed overnight at Berurjod as a guest of Bjork, Prince Sweyn’s Nor’Way captain.

“How many wives do you have, my prince?” Bjork asked as he offered Valdamar and his wives the master suite of his longhall.  He had acquired much wealth as a Nor’Way merchant and had purchased three concubines himself.  “About three hundred,” Prince Valdamar replied, “in Kiev, and a few more in my other cities.”  Bjork shook his head in amazement and left the suite, closing the door behind himself.

Valdamar sat on the edge of the bed while his three wives undressed him and he laid on the bed as he watched his wives undressing each other.  Then his new wife was tasked with making love to her husband without help from his other wives and she started with nominal congress to get her prince’s lingam wet and lubricated but, as it stiffened up and grew, it got too large to fit in her young mouth and she could only wet it by kissing it on the sides.  When her older sister tried to help, Valdamar waved her back.  He swung the girl around and began kissing her vagina as well and then he had her lower herself onto him and she rode him slowly for a while and when he felt she was wet enough he flipped her under himself and he thrust deeply into her and she breathed in suddenly and deeply and as he thrust she let out little grunts of pain and her sister winced every time she cried out.  Her sister then laid beside the two and she spread her legs and she put her fingers into her vagina and she began penetrating herself and moaning in orgasm until Valdamar was distracted from the girl and he slid across and entered her sister.  He thrust into her fiercely and began driving in and out of her at a lustful pace until she was in pain as well.  Then the Radimichi princess put her fingers into herself and began moaning until Valdamar was attracted to her and entered her and began thrusting wildly until he exploded within her.  They rested and snuggled under the Cathayan silks for a while and then they did it again but, this time, Valdamar wasn’t quite as large and he went off in the older sister.  And by the third time, his member fit into the girl’s mouth and he was more comfortable for her and she had her first orgasm and then he came within her as well.  They slept together very soundly and in the morning they did it all over again.

Bjork’s three concubines had heard all the noise the young lovers had been making that night and then they got to hear it again as they ate breakfast in the morning.  “Don’t look at me like that,” Bjork told them.  “It’s not going to happen.”

They had a fine wind the next day and Valdamar’s warfleet entered Trondheim Fjord by evening and they were soon docking in front of Prince Sweyn’s longhall.  Sweyn, Alfled and Aud were out on the quay and Sweyn said, “What in the world are you doing here?”

“The Jomsvikings are coming!” Prince Valdamar replied.  “I learned of their plans to attack you and we had to rush here and warn you.”  Sweyn invited his son inside and Alfled gave him and his young wives food while Valdamar told his father what had happened just outside Peremyshl a week earlier.  “You must have sailed hard to get here so soon,” Sweyn said as they sat at a table and ate.

“My captains claimed it was all the focking going on under the foredeck that seemed to propel the fleet forward much faster,” Valdamar replied, laughing.  He remembered how they talked in Trondheim even though he was just a boy the last time he was here.  “Oh yes,” he added, “this is Princess Luvyna and her younger sister Gosia and this is Princess Izolda.  The sisters are Lyakhs and Izolda is Radimichian.”

“I heard you were allowing all your territories,” Sweyn started, “how should I put it?  Equal opportunities in impressing you with their beautiful princesses?”

“That’s a great way to put it!” Valdamar said.  “Equal opportunities.”

They all sat and talked for a long time and then Sweyn offered his son the second floor master suite above his own.  His longhall was patterned after Jarl Haakon’s though not quite as large in overall dimensions and, like Haakon’s, the longhall had a second master suite up in the rafters above the main one.  He wasn’t going to offer him the main suite because Aud was staying over with Sweyn and Alfled to study the miniscule font of Alcuin out of the Kama Sutra in the master bedroom.  ‘Besides,’ he thought, ‘they were all young.  They could go up and down the stairs.’  Once he got his son and his wives provided for, he was going to go over to Haakon’s hall to warn them of the impending attack, but then Haakon would be wondering why he hadn’t brought Aud back with him so, he decided it could wait.  He went back into his longhall and joined Alfled and Aud who were already naked in bed and enjoying themselves with the book.

“What is that noise?” Sweyn said as he walked into the master bedroom.

“That is your son,” Alfled said, “focking the asses off of his three young wives.  They’ve been going at it steady since you closed their bedroom door.”

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to get much studying done,” Aud complained.  “Perhaps we should just have sex.”

“There’s daub dust coming off of the ceiling,” Sweyn said as he disrobed and joined the women in bed.  The bed in the room above was pounding on the ceiling.  “How about we have sex now,” Sweyn said, “and we’ll do some reading and positions once they’re done above?”  They all agreed that it was a good idea so, they had sex and were all sated by the time the pounding stopped.  So, they took out the Kama Sutra and they began reading from it and, after a page or two, the pounding started up and kept going for a long time.  They decided to put the book away and have sex again while they waited for the pounding to stop.  After another hour it finally stopped so, Sweyn took the book from the headboard and they began reading once more.  They were a few more pages into the book and the pounding started all over again.  Sweyn closed the book and they all laid back on the bed and stared up at the daub dust floating off of the ceiling.  Aud and Alfled were laying back on either side of Sweyn and they began looking at him expectantly.  “Don’t look at me like that,” Sweyn said.  “It’s not going to happen.”

“Oh, to be young again!” Alfled said.

“I think I know what they’re doing,” Aud said.  “They’ll pause soon and it’ll start again in a few seconds,” and they waited and there was a pause and it started up again.  “He’s focking each one of them and the short pause is when he’s moving on to the next wife.  Then they rest for a while and he focks all three of them all over again.”

“How long can it possibly go on for?” Alfled asked Aud, looking at her over Sweyn’s chest.  He was already asleep.

“I think this third round will be it!” Aud said, and she was right.  When the third set of pounding was over, it seemed to have stopped for the night.  But in the morning, it all started back up again.

Just before noon, Sweyn and Alfled and Aud took Valdamar and his three wives next door to visit Jarls Haakon and Eirik.  They put two tables together and they all had lunch together and Valdamar told the Jarls of the attack he and Princess Luvyna had overheard while having sex under the highseat dais in Peremyshl.  Everybody looked over at Haakon’s highseats and the low dais they sat upon, it was an instinctive reflex and then they all started laughing because they all caught each other looking.  “The attack is planned for the end of this moon,” Valdamar told the Jarls.

“And it’s the Jomsvikings?” Haakon wanted confirmed.

“Yes,” Valdamar said.  “And King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson is paying them gold to do it.”

“Jomsvikings!” Eirik cursed.  “They’re deadly!  They’re tougher than the Hraes’.”

“Nobody’s tougher than the Hraes’!” Sweyn and Valdamar said at the same time.

“Sorry,” Jarl Eirik backtracked.  “They’re almost as tough.  How many ships are they sending?”

“I don’t know,” Valdamar said.  “The warrior was asking the Prince of Peremyshl to join in so, my guess is all of them and then some.”

“You should kill this prince!” Jarl Eirik said.

“No!” Princesses Luvyna and Gosia said quietly.  “Our prince refused to join in with them,” Luvyna added.

“Sorry,” Jarl Eirik replied.  “Your wives are as wise as they are beautiful.”

“How many beautiful young wives do you have?” Jarl Haakon asked the young prince.  “I have one wife in Kiev,” Valdamar started, “named Hraeguneda and I have three hundred wives at my palace in Vyshgorod, another three hundred wives at my palace in Belgorod and two hundred wives in Berestovo, all around Kiev.  Princess Luvyna and her younger sister Gosia live with me in Vyshgorod and Princess Izolda lives in Berestovo.”

“That’s a lot of wives!” Jarl Eirik exclaimed.  “How do you keep them all satisfied?”

“Some are wives, some are consorts and most are concubines,” Valdamar admitted, “but they are all princesses, as they all have Princes or Jarls for fathers.  I fock my wife once a day unless she is pregnant, which is often, my consorts get it at least once a week and my concubines, at least once a month.”

“That’s still a lot of focking!” Jarl Eirik said, mentally trying to do the math.  “It would kill me!”

“It gets hard when I’m out on campaign,” Valdamar admitted.  “My wives keep track of what I owe them and I have to double up when I get back from making war.  Even just being here to warn you of the impending attack is causing all those focks back home to pile up.  I may have to take some Norwegian Jarls back home with me to help out.”  What Valdamar did not tell them about were the numerous married women of Kiev with whom he was having affairs and the large number of local young virgin girls he and his officers were deflowering in and around the city.  Something had happened when his legion conquered Chernigov and they sent all the men off to Kiev to complain while they systematically raped all the women of the city.  They had enjoyed it, and, when they took Kiev away from his brother, Ivar, they couldn’t overtly rape all the women there, so they had done it covertly and the process had never actually fully stopped.

Over the next few weeks, the Norwegians of Trondheim Fjord began putting together warship crews and Prince Sweyn trained his dromon sailors and Prince Valdamar put his Hraes’ regimental war transports through their paces.  They sent fast scout ships south to watch for the Jomsvikings so they could go south and meet them in battle somewhere well clear of their home fjord.  Jarl Haakon estimated that the Jomsvikings would have between fifty and a hundred ships and the forces in Lade were already over a hundred and fifty warships, but he knew the Jomsvikings and three hundred warships might not be enough.  He wanted divine help, assistance from the gods and he sent Jarl Eirik and Prince Sweyn to Hell to get help from the witch Hallveig, the mid-wife and healer that had helped with the birth of Sweyn’s children in Lade.

“I have to go to Hell tomorrow,” Sweyn told Alfled, as they disrobed each other for bed.  “Jarl Haakon wants some witchcraft done to protect us in our upcoming battle.  Jarl Eirik and I will be spending the night in Hell, while the witch has her chantreusses doing chants all night long.  She has to contact the spirit of a long dead Valkyrie named Thorgerder Helgibruder, a famous shieldmaiden of Halogaland.  She fell in battle while fighting alongside the shieldmaiden Stikla at the Battle of Stiklastad.  Apparently this ghost has helped Haakon win battles before.”

“Take me with you!” Alfled pleaded.  “The pounding never stops!  It’s…unnatural!  Aud won’t even come over to study with us anymore.”  So much daub dust had fallen from the ceiling of the master bedroom that Alfled had moved their bed into one of the side bedrooms down the hall, but the nightly pounding emanated down the hall as well.

“While I’m gone, have the slaves move our bed one more room down,” Sweyn said.  “I was wondering why Aud had stopped our studies.  I miss her anus,” Sweyn added as he thrust his way into Alfled.

Hell was a small village just south of the town of Stjordal on the eastern end of Trondheim Fjord and Hallveig had her longhall at the edge of the fjord.  They took Sweyn’s Nor’Way ship for the short jaunt.  “Haakon told me he wasn’t up for the spell,” Eirik started, “as the Witch Hallveig’s demands can be quite rigorous.  But he warned me that we must follow her instructions to the letter or lives could be lost in the upcoming battle.”

“I don’t put much stock in witchcraft,” Sweyn told him.  “I put my trust in my legions.”

“Haakon told me you’d say that and he told me to tell you, ‘Don’t fock it up’.  These are Jomsvikings we’ll be fighting and any help we get will be needed, trust me.”

“Okay,” Sweyn said, “but I better see this Thorgerder Helgibruder when she shows up for our battle!”

They beached the ship on the sand in front of Hallveig’s longhall and Emma came out to greet them.  She had Sweyn’s son with her and Sweyn kissed her and then kissed his son and they walked into the hall together.  It was evening and the children were chanting in a circle as Hallveig sat alone on a highchair in the center.  The entrance hearth was burning, so Sweyn and Eirik warmed themselves as the warlock songs were being sung.  It was early spring and the night air was still cold.  Emma listened to see where they were at with the chants and returned to the hearth.  “Have a seat at the visiting highseats,” she told the princes, “and I’ll bring you some food before I get young Svein ready for bed.”

The men went to the guest highseats opposite the host highseats and they watched the children singing and circling the witch on her highchair.  Hallveig seemed to be in a trance as she sat on the chair in a fine fur-trimmed woollen dress and a black felt hat with a great wide brim.  She wore shoes that curled upwards at the toes and there was a brass bell at the end of each curl.  Her hands were sheathed in black catskin gloves and she held a wand between her fists.  She was lean and muscular and quite handsome looking for an older woman and her dress was tight around her breasts.

Emma brought them some food and some wine and then took young Sweyn off to her bedroom to sleep.  She came back out and sat with the men on their highseats and she snacked off Sweyn’s trencherplate as he was eating.  “They won’t be through the chants until midnight,” Emma said.  ‘Bring your wine and rest with me in my room and we’ll watch little Svein fall asleep.”  Sweyn looked across to Eirik and he nodded for him to go.  “We’ll be back before midnight,” Sweyn told him.  “I’ll leave you my wine.”

When they went into Emma’s room, Svein was already asleep.  They undressed each other and crawled naked between the wool sheets of the bed.  Sweyn had his glove with him, but Emma took it and put it on the headboard.  “I want to have another baby with you,” she said, “if that’s okay with you.  Hallveig has given me her approval.  She loves Svein and I think she loves you too Sweyn, in her own way.”

“I’d love to have another baby with you,” Sweyn said, as he brushed her blonde hair away from her pretty face.  He loved the feel of Emma.  Her body was lithe and strong and he could still remember how she fit him like a glove when he slid into her.  She felt sweeter than any woman he had ever had.  The men of Lade called such a thing a honey cunny, but he called it a honey well.  He kissed her and slid down to kiss her breasts and then he slid all the way down and he dipped his tongue into that honey well and kept dipping until he had her quite stirred up.  Then he slid back up the bed and his lingam slid into her and they both gasped as he penetrated her.  The fit and texture of her well had been made for his member and, as he stroked it within her well, it grew thick and hard in a most gentle and peaceful manner as if great wonders were in the works and, because the fancy was to make a baby, the feeling of it was multiplied.

“Go slow,” she said.  “And take your time.”

“There is nothing I would rather do,” he said, “than make a baby with you.”

“There will be demands made of you later, so let’s relax and take our time.”

Sweyn now savoured the feel of her honey well just, as before, he had savoured the taste, and he would begin to speed up and she wrapped her strong legs around him and slowed him down again.  She made him savour the feel and she made him take his time because she knew she would only have the one time and he would be having many.  But her own body betrayed her and she started having little orgasms one after another and she fought back the little moans, choking them off with her throat, but a few would escape and put spurs to her steed and when he sped up, the little orgasms grew larger and she could no longer stifle the sounds and the spooked steed took off at a gallop and she came in waves as the orgasm coursed through her body and she felt Sweyn exploding inside her.

“How is it you feel so fine to me?” Sweyn asked her as they cuddled together.  “You have such a sweet honey well!”

“I do a thousand sit ups a day,” she whispered.

“A thousand?”

“And a thousand push ups a day.”

“You’re a healer and a midwife,” Sweyn said.  “Why would you do so many?”

“I’m a shield maiden as well,” Emma admitted.  “And I’m so afraid.”

“Why are you afraid?”

“I’m afraid of the upcoming battle,” she said.

“Why would you be afraid?”

“Because I’ll be in it.”

“What?” Sweyn said, getting up on an elbow and looking at her.

“Hallveig has to go and I’m going with her.  We’re both shield maidens!”

“She’s a witch!  She just casts a spell and Haakon feels better about his chances and this helps him win.”

Emma laughed.  “There’s a lot more to it than that.  The spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder becomes attached to Hallveig and she has to be where the battle is.  Right in the thick of it!  And I have to be beside her in case she falls.  Then the spirit will attach herself to me!”

“Have you ever seen this Thorgerder Helgibruder?” Sweyn asked.

“Yes!” Emma said.  “Haakon has paid Hallveig for this spell before.  She’s a frightful bitch!  Just a ghost, but she is huge.  And she shoots arrows from all ten of her fingertips and every shot brings death!  I’m scared shitless every time because if Hallveig goes down, she’ll attach herself to me!”

Sweyn took Emma under his arm and comforted her.  “Do you know where you draw your water from?” he asked her.

“We draw it from Hell River,” she told him.  “The village is named Hell after the river.  But it doesn’t mean the underworld Hell.  It’s more like hail.  It hails a lot up in the mountains and if the river is cold the hail runs into it and floats down the river so, they called it Hail River.  It’s a dialect thing.”

“Tell me more about this Thorgerder Helgibruder,” Sweyn said, trying to calm her.

“She was a shield maiden and a lover of the shield maiden Stikla and she died while fighting beside her at the Battle of Stiklastad.  They were both of the Isle of Lesbos, like Hallveig, if you get my meaning.”

“Oh, I get your meaning alright,” Sweyn said, and his ass clinched just a bit.  “Has she been using her horse dick on you at all?”

“No!” Emma said.  “After I had Svein, she’s never touched me.  I think she considers you my husband.  And I think she loves you just a bit.”

“And you?  Do you love me just a bit?”

“I love you more than a bit.  Every time I see Svein, I see you, and I love you more each time.  By now I love you quite a bit more than a bit,” she said, stroking his cheek.

“I’m glad she’s leaving you in peace.  Now, if Thorgerder was of Lesbos, how could she be Helgi’s bride?”

“They called her Helgibruder because Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson promised to give her a child if she fought alongside Stikla at the famous battle.  When she died in the fight, Helgi gave Stikla a baby in her stead.  They focked hard all night and the next day Helgi left to fight King Frodi in Angleland and Stikla couldn’t walk straight for a week.  But she did get pregnant, and Hallveig is a granddaughter of hers.  Thorgerder loved Stikla so much that her spirit answered to Stikla’s call in times of need, or so they say.  Hallveig says that it was Warlock Ogmund Eythjofsbane that killed Thorgerder and when he realised that he had killed a woman he kissed her and set her spirit free to be called upon by Stikla and her offspring.”

“I’m related to Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson,” Sweyn said.  “He was my uncle.”

“No!” Emma said.  “That means you and Hallveig are related.  Maybe that’s why she treats you with so much respect.”

“She couldn’t possibly know I’m of Lothbrok stock!”

“She might know.  She told me she felt that you and Haakon were brothers.”

“Haakon has adopted me,” Sweyn said.  “He’s my foster-father and Eirik is my blood-brother.”

“She told me you and Haakon shared the same father.”

“He adopted me to bind our alliance.  We’re Aesir and we’re committed to stopping the Christians.”

“Now I love you a whole lot more!” she said, kissing Sweyn.  “Is that why you and Aud are printing out all those books in your scriptorium?”

“Yes,” Sweyn said.  “We’re fighting fire with fire.  We’re recording the drapas and poems and sagas of our pagan skalds so that the Christian skalds aren’t the only ones being recorded.”

“And I thought you just liked Aud’s bum,” Emma teased.

“What have you heard?”

“Just that Aud’s still saving herself for King Erik of Sweden.  Hallveig’s her physician and I assist in a lot of the checks.  That’s all.  I heard you’re working on ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’ with Aud and if she’s still a virgin, you two must be doing it anally.”

“We’re printing ‘The Varangian Sagas’,” Sweyn corrected her, “and Aud has a very nice bum.”

“Christian kings are calling them ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’,” Emma went on, “so you must be very careful to get all the details exactly right.  When you write about our battle with the Jomsvikings you must be sure to say that it was Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ who first founded the Brotherhood of Jom when he was King of Denmark.”

“My Uncle Helgi was King of Denmark?” Sweyn exclaimed.

“For a short time.  He couldn’t be called Arrow Odd because Prince Odd had killed far too many Danes when he was fighting against King Frodi of Denmark and his general Ogmund Eythjofsbane, so they called him Helgi ‘the Sharp’ instead of Arrow Odd, meaning Arrow’s Edge.”

“I’ve heard of King Helgi ‘the Sharp’,” Sweyn said.  “I just had no idea he was Arrow Odd.”

“When Arrow Odd was fighting Ogmund Eythjofsbane, he surrounded himself with a Norse warrior elite because he was always fighting the elite Hraes’ warriors of King Frodi of Kiev.  He drove King Frodi out of Denmark and ruled there for a time, but when the Danes eventually learned that he was Arrow Odd, the famed killer of Danes, the people went to King Olaf of the Swedes for help and the Swedes drove Arrow Odd out of Denmark and he led his elite band to the Isle of Jom, an island fortress just off Wollin and the coast of Poland and when Arrow Odd left them to marry Queen Silkisif in Greece they became the elite Jomsvikings.  Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson was the greatest warrior to ever come out of Norway and that is why the Jomsvikings are the best of the best and that is why I am so fearful.”

“The Jomsvikings became the elite because they were fighting the Hraes’,” Sweyn told her.  “I have sixty ships full of Hraes’ troops and my son brought another thirty ships full of Hraes.  We are the Hraes’ and we’re back!”

“I want to fock you so bad,” Emma whispered.

“I’m up for it,” Sweyn said, and she could see he wasn’t lying.  “We can’t,” she said.  “Hallveig needs both you brothers tonight.”

“I can’t believe she’s a shield maiden,” Sweyn said.  “A granddaughter of the famed Stikla.  And you’re a shield maiden.  You have no idea of how hot that is making me.  You’re sure it’s all your training that has made your honey well so sweet?”

“You have dozens of shield maidens in your ships,” Emma stated.  “Are you trying to tell me you haven’t helped yourself to some of your own taut muscled maidens?”

“They service my men,” Sweyn said.  “It wouldn’t be proper for me to impose on them.”

“They do a lot more than just service your men!” Emma said.  “I’ve talked with some of them when they’ve come to us with injuries.  Many of them are training to be healers so they can take better care of your men.  They make sure your men eat properly and they make sure your men stay fit.  And they stay fit themselves.  Have you seen the bodies on your Valkyries?  Hallveig has, and she’s impressed!  I think she’s looking forward to going into battle with them.  And in battle, your shield maidens often kill more of the enemy than your men do.  They follow behind your shield walls and save your injured men and dispatch the injured enemy.  Your men love their shield maidens.  They would fight to the death to protect them and often they do.  The shield maidens are why your legions are so strong.  And after battle they bend over and allow their men to service themselves.”

“Not always,” Sweyn said.  “At the Battle of Dorostal, when we fought the Bulgarians, our shield maidens fought so well that I ordered our men to serve their shield maidens.  Whatever their Valkyries wanted, their men had to provide.”

“And all your shield maidens wanted you!”

“No,” Sweyn said.  “I would be taking advantage of my position, my rank over them.  It could affect discipline.”

“Your Valkyries told me that you came up with the idea of having a shield maiden attached to each unit of men.  Before that there were just old hags that followed the shield wall and dispatched the injured enemy, Angels of Death, you call them.”

“Our shield maidens don’t just dispatch the injured enemy,” Sweyn told her.  “They save as many of the enemy as they do our injured.  We ransom them back to the Bulgarians or Romans or we sell them to the slave armies of the Caliphate.  Many of the injured enemy that our Valkyries have saved have gone on to become great generals in the armies of Islam.  I am very proud of what our shield maidens do for our legions.  That is why I cannot sleep with them.  It would be disrespectful of me.”

“Well, I am one shield maiden that you can have anytime you wish,” Emma told him.  “I love you, Sweyn,” she said and she kissed him for a long time.  When he started kissing her neck and began working his way towards her breasts, she said, “Anytime, but just not now,” and she escaped from the bed and got dressed and he watched her as he lay naked on the bed.  He watched her flat belly and taut stomach muscles and he saw that thousand sit ups a day in her form.  Her smooth legs were powerfully muscled and her arms were strong like those of a young man.  He could see her dragging the injured enemy out from under their shield wall and dispatching him.  Or saving him.  She was, after all, a healer by trade and a shield maiden by training.

“I’m going out to see where they’re at with the chants,” Emma said as she put her shoes on.  “You stay here and relax.  I’ll be right back and you can service me.”  She hopped toward the door as she adjusted her last shoe and then slipped out of the room.

The young children were resting as the older boys and girls did individual chants to gather spirits about the hall.  The spirits that gathered would take a message to Thorgerder Helgibruder that she was needed.  The more that gathered, the faster she would be summoned.  Emma saw Hallveig listening to the chants from her highchair, making sure they were recited correctly.  Jarl Eirik was laying across the cushions of his double highseat, sleeping, and he must have been snoring because one of the older girls had sprinkled his nose with an herb that stopped snoring.  She wondered which of the older girls had done it and if she would be one of the girls selected for the upcoming debauchery.  Emma judged there to be yet an hour of chants and recitations to go and she returned to her room.  Sweyn was still naked on the bed but he wasn’t relaxed.  He had a huge stiff member and Emma watched it as Sweyn watched her get naked.

“You can’t have any more sex,” she said, “but I’m good to go,” and she sat on his chest and slid onto his chin and she started to stroke herself on the gold coil of his beard’s left fork.  He could reach her with his tongue, but only on the downstroke and he wished that his tongue was as long and hard as his poor lonely cock was.  As Emma was having sex with his gold he thought of Queen Silkisif and how she, too, had loved sex over gold.  She had married his uncle, Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’, and, after he died, she had made his father, Ivar ‘Harde Knute’, her lover, and, after he died, she had made his grandfather, Hraerik ‘Bragi’, her lover over gold, and then, before she died, she had made his grandson her last new lover and they had spent three days together having nothing but sex…Khazar Vayar and wine and sex over his gold in the vaults of Gardariki and Tmutorokan.  And now this beautiful young blonde, who had just mentioned Queen Silkisif in passing, was having her own sex over his gold and she was moaning quietly and coming on his coil and her sweetness was running into the corner of his mouth and he savoured her taste.

Emma held the head of the bed with both hands as she straddled Sweyn’s forked beard and she breathed out as the last of her orgasm left her body.  She pulled herself off of the fork and the gold and she felt him kissing her clitoris and she wanted to sit back down but she whispered, “We have to go,” instead.

“Don’t just fock my beard and leave,” Sweyn whispered and he pulled her back down and put his tongue up her honey well.  It felt so good she sat back down and let him have his fill.  Then they got up and got dressed and checked on the sleeping Svein.  One of the older girls would be watching him while they were upstairs in the master suite loft paying off the spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder.

There was a huge bed in the large master suite loft and double doors in the front that had a balcony and stairs and there were side doors on either side that led to nowhere and far end doors that led outside to nowhere.  There were six sets of doors and only one set of stairs.  Emma sat at the end of the bed and Sweyn and Eirik sat on either side of her and they waited for Witch Hallveig.  They could hear Hallveig coming up the stairs and her steps were the steps of a young woman, quick and light.  She walked into the bedroom and she had a goblet in each hand and she passed them to the men and said, “Drink this.  Drink it all!”  So, they drank wine from the goblets, but the wine had a bitter taste and they both knew it was not just wine.  “It will just help to keep you calm,” Emma told them.  Sweyn could feel the drug at work right away.  He watched Emma and his jaw grew slack and his eyes went big and round.  Emma began undressing both men and she laid them down on the bed beside each other.  She went to the left side of the bed and she put her lips on Sweyn’s lingam and she began to suck him hard while Hallveig got undressed.  When Hallveig was naked she crawled onto the bed and she mounted Sweyn and she gently began to ride him as Emma went to the right side of the bed and took Eirik’s cock into her mouth and she began to suck him hard as well.  Hallveig began riding Sweyn harder and she and Emma began chanting and channelling the spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder into the room.  But the chants were very sensual as well and soon Sweyn was flowing within Hallveig and she stopped and squatted on Sweyn and she moved about on him as though soaking it all up.

Emma then took Eirik’s cock back into her mouth and got it all wet and hard.  It was not quite as big as Sweyn’s, but it was large enough, and Emma thought, as she sucked, that perhaps she should have started with Eirik so that Hallveig could have worked her way up in size to make things more comfortable for her and she filed that thought away for future reference.  Once Hallveig was sure she had gotten all Sweyn’s fluids inside her, she mounted Eirik and slid him into herself and began her ride.  Sweyn watched Hallveig riding Eirik’s strong steed and he smiled as Emma went to a sideboard and wetted a towel in a wash basin.  She came to Sweyn and began washing his lingam, then asked, “What are you smiling about?” and Sweyn mumbled, “Most people think witches ride broomsticks.”  Emma smiled and almost started to laugh but she choked it down with her throat.  “Just relax,” Emma crooned and she stroked Sweyn’s blonde locks.  She would not have recognized him a decade earlier with his head shaved except for a side lock and the same long moustaches but with no fork beard, getting ready to be baptised a Christian Emperor.

The women began to chant again, the same sweet song, and soon Eirik was flowing within Hallveig.  She squatted atop him as well and seemed to be soaking it all in and when she pulled herself off him, Emma was there with a towel to clean him up.  Hallveig went over to the sideboard and opened a door and took out her horse penis and belt and began oiling it up.  She strapped it on and crawled upon the bed and had Sweyn bend over on all fours and she knelt behind him and eased her steed inside him and began stroking in and out of him and was soon moaning in orgasm as she channelled Thorgerder Helgibruder into herself and a side door flew open on the left and a wind rushed in, even though it was an inside door.  Emma walked quickly to the door and eased it closed.  Eirik’s eyes followed Emma as she walked and he decided he really liked her ass and then he saw Sweyn getting focked on the bed by Hallveig and he would have laughed but he knew he was next.  Hallveig seemed to come inside Sweyn, or was it the spirit?  Hallveig slowly withdrew the long thick member from Sweyn and Emma was there to clean it off and put more oil on it before Hallveig bent Eirik over and began easing her steed up Eirik.  Emma began cleaning Sweyn and then had him kneel on the bed in front of her while she took his lingam into her mouth and began to suck him hard once more.  Hallveig began thrusting vigorously into Eirik and she soon began moaning and channelling Thorgerder Helgibruder once more.  This time, a door on the right flew open and a wind gusted into the room.  Emma curtly walked over and closed the door as Hallveig withdrew her large steed from Eirik.  Hallveig then turned Eirik to face the door that Emma had closed and Emma went back around to the other side of the bed and turned Sweyn around to face Eirik’s rear and she guided his lingam up Eirik’s anus and got Sweyn to begin stroking within him.  The women started chanting and channelling the spirit and as their chant sped up, so, too, did Sweyn’s stroking and he put his hands on Eirik’s waist and began driving deep within him and the chanting sped up more and became very sensuous and orgasmic and the left door flew open as Sweyn exploded within Eirik and he kept thrusting until he was all spent and he took Eirik’s shoulders and he gave a few final thrusts to show him that he’d enjoyed it.  Emma was busy cleaning up the men while Hallveig explained that Thorgerder Helgibruder had ordered that the two brothers become members of the Sacred Band of Theban Brothers.  Emma went over to Eirik and took his semi-hard cock into her mouth and began to suck on it.  She could tell that Eirik had enjoyed it as well.  Hallveig went on to explain that, as Theban Sacred Band Brothers, Sweyn and Eirik were now married as warriors and would owe loyalty to each other above all others and neither was to leave a battle before they were sure the other was safe.

Hallveig then had Sweyn go on all fours on the bed and face the door that had just blown open and Emma turned Eirik around and guided his cock into Sweyn’s anus and the women began chanting and channelling as Eirik took Sweyn’s waist and began stroking within him.  When the chanting sped up, so, too, did Eirik, and he soon exploded within Sweyn and the right door blew open.  Emma closed the door and went back to Eirik just as he put his final thrusts into Sweyn to show he’d enjoyed it as well.  ‘Perhaps a little too much,’ Emma thought but she realized that she loved Sweyn and perhaps didn’t like sharing him with a man.

“They’re getting a little tired,” Emma said as she checked their pulses.

“Have them lay down and rest and perhaps get naked and lay between them and calm them.”  Hallveig was still naked herself and she threw on a robe and left the bedroom.  She came back in a bit with two young girls who were just over marrying age and Sweyn could see that they were drugged as well.  “We’ve given them opium so they won’t feel any pain,” Emma explained, as she got up and took some towels and placed them on the men.  She took Sweyn’s lingam into her mouth once more and she sucked him hard as Hallveig undressed the young girls.  Emma ensured that the girls were still virgins and she used her fingers to gauge who the larger girl was and she took her and put her atop Sweyn.  The girl straddled Sweyn’s hips and Emma guided his lingam once more and she pulled the girl down onto Sweyn and her blood flowed onto the towels.  She then guided the girl in her ride and went back to the other girl and took her over to Eirik and did the same thing.  Hallveig was putting her horse penis away and then she took off her robe so that they were all naked just as a courtesy to the others.  Emma went back to Sweyn’s young girl and began guiding her stroking more quickly and Hallveig joined in with Eirik’s girl and did the same.  The women then resumed their seductive chanting and soon Sweyn grabbed his young girl and began bouncing her up and down on his groin very quickly until he exploded inside her.  Emma took the girl off of Sweyn and cleaned them both up and she laid the girl beside him just as Eirik began thrusting deeply inside his girl until he went off.  Emma then helped the girl off of Eirik and cleaned them up.  She tucked the girl in next to Eirik and she went over to the sideboard and she got more wine for the men and had them drink it in bed as she held their heads up for them.  “It’s just to calm you,” she told them again.  She then got some juice for the girls and when they drank theirs they immediately fell asleep.

Emma went to the right side of the bed and she took Eirik’s young girl up in her arms and she placed her across the foot of the bed so that her head hung over the edge and her pert breasts faced up into the candlelight.  Witch Hallveig came over from the sideboard with a cord in her hands and she wrapped it around the girls pale throat and she strangled the life out of the sleeping girl while Emma watched and held the girl’s hand and felt for a pulse.  Emma then went over to the left side of the bed and began to take Sweyn’s young girl, but Sweyn could just lift his right hand and he grabbed the girl’s arm to stop her.  “It’s okay, it’s okay,” Emma whispered to Sweyn, as she peeled his fingers off of the girl.  She set the girl across the end of the bed and her head hung over the other side.  Hallveig wrapped the cord around the young girl’s neck as both Sweyn and Eirik mumbled incoherently in protest, but could not move.  Both side doors blew open and gusts of wind flew in and blew out half the candles and then the girls were gone.  Emma crawled naked in between the two men and Hallveig covered them all with a blanket, then blew out the rest of the candles in the room, save for the candlestick she carried, and she left.  Emma cradled Sweyn and Eirik in her arms and the two men cried upon her breasts and went to sleep.

In the morning Emma brought the men breakfast in bed and she sat on the bed in her robe between them as they ate.  They were still tired but they were famished as well.  Eirik seemed fine, but Emma could see that Sweyn was pissed.  After breakfast Eirik went back to sleep, but Sweyn got up and got dressed and followed Emma down the stairs and they went into her room together.  Young Svein was awake, so Emma dressed him and sent him out into the hall to play and she sat down on the bed with Sweyn.

“I want to take you and Svein back to Lade with me,” Sweyn told her.  “I don’t want you to have to raise our children in this environment.”

“Hallveig owns me,” Emma replied.

“I’ll pay that old witch to free you!” Sweyn said.  “I don’t care what it costs.”

“I love you Sweyn,” Emma said , stroking his cheek, “but I can’t leave.  I’ll be taking over the practice when Hallveig retires.  People need me here.”

“She killed two of her own chantreusses!” Sweyn protested.

“She didn’t,” Emma confessed.  “Remember when I told you, ‘It’s okay,’ last night?”

“Vaguely,” Sweyn answered.

“Hallveig didn’t want to kill those girls, but she knew Haakon would demand it.  He has paid for this spell before and he has gone through what you and Eirik have.  Hallveig came up with an alternate sacrifice to Thorgerder Helgibruder.  The drug she gave the girls didn’t put them to sleep.  It killed them.  The girls were already dead when she strangled them.”  Sweyn looked at Emma in disbelief.  “I felt their pulses after she strangled them so I could bear witness that she had killed them.  She took them out of the room to her master suite and she gave them the antidote to the drug she had killed them with, and the antidote revived them.  The drug that she used on the girls comes from Africa, from a certain type of fish there.”

“What did she revive them with?”

“A drug we use here, some of our berserks use here, to go into fits faster.”

“So, what is Hallveig’s alternate sacrifice to the spirit?”

“She had sex with you and Eirik,” Emma started.  “She didn’t want to.  She only had sex with you the one time before because she didn’t want to die a virgin, but she had to have sex with you and Eirik because now she carries twins and they are growing within her as we speak,” and Emma put her hands on her own belly, “just as your daughter is growing within me now,” and she put Sweyn’s hands upon her taut stomach, “but, while our baby will go full term and be as beautiful as Svein, her babies will be stillborn.”

“I’m sorry,” Sweyn said.  “Poor Hallveig is making the sacrifice for us.”

“Don’t forget,” Emma said, “that the stillborn babies are yours and Eirik’s as well.”

“I know,” Sweyn said, “but I’m not carrying them inside me.”

“But you are,” Emma assured him.  “The same semen that entered Hallveig last night also entered you, and the same semen that entered Eirik last night, entered Hallveig as well.”

“It may be in me,” Sweyn countered, “but it can’t get me pregnant!”

“I gave you calming drugs last night,” Emma confessed, “but Hallveig mixed them up.  She may have added a fertility drug to the mixture as well.  You and Eirik may very well be pregnant and carrying each other’s child.”

”No!” Sweyn said, and he would have sat down on the bed, but he was already sitting.

“I’m just focking with you,” Emma said, and she started laughing.  “You should have seen your face!”

“So, was Hallveig focking with us too when she had me focking Eirik and he focking me?”

“She was just being bad,” Emma admitted.  “Theban Sacred Band of Brothers?  Really Sweyn?” and she started laughing again.

“Sacred Band, my ass!” Sweyn said, and he started laughing as well.  “I’m going to kill that cunt!”

“You can’t,” Emma declared.  “She’s your relative!  Besides, you enjoyed focking Eirik.  I saw you grab his waist so you go drive just a little deeper.”

“I just pictured I was focking his sister Aud.  She has such a sweet little ass!”

“I think Eirik thought you had a sweet little ass, too!  I saw him grabbing your hips as well.”

“Well, we are Theban brothers now,” Sweyn said.

“Speaking of brothers,” Emma went on, “remember when I told you Hallveig said you and Haakon have the same father?”

“Yes,” Sweyn said slowly.

“She says Aud is your niece as well.”

“Don’t tell me that!” Sweyn said.

“We must never tell anybody about this, okay?” Emma asked.

“My lips are sealed,” Sweyn swore.  ‘I’d have all of Aud if I could,’ he thought, ‘but if she’s saving her sweet honey well for King Erik of Sweden, I’ll at least enjoy her sweet ass while she’s still in Lade.’

“How much would you have paid for me?” Emma asked curiously.

“What?”

“You said you’d pay Hallveig any amount to take me away from here.  How much would you have paid?

“Thirty thousand pounds of gold.”

“Thirty thousand pounds of gold?” Emma gasped.

“I have thirty thousand pounds of gold in my grandfather’s vault in Tmutorokan,” Sweyn said, “and I’d give it all to her for you.”

“That’s a lot of gold, Sweyn,” Emma said, kissing him.

“It’s Roman pounds, though,” Sweyn clarified.  “They’re about three quarters the weight of our pounds.”

“Still, that’s a lot of gold!” and she kissed him again for a very long time.

“That’s why Haakon calls me Gold Harald,” Sweyn said and he told her about his father, King Ivar ‘the Boneless’, who was the original Gold Harald, and had rented a legion of Roman cataphracts in Constantinople to take to Rouen to save young Duke Richard of Normandy, who had been taken as a boy by the Franks after his father had died.  In Denmark and Normandy, Ivar was known as King Harde Knute or Hard Knot, because the knots that had slipped and torn off his legs were very hard on him indeed and young Duke Richard called him Har Knute, because Harde Knute was hard to say and this impediment had endeared the boy to Ivar.  Young Richard’s father had laughed at this as well and called Ivar Har ‘the Old’ or Harald because ‘the Old’ referred to his being sprung from the old Fridlief-Frodi line of Danish kings, the Skioldung line, that had itself sprung from Odin himself, who was nicknamed Har.

“The rental had cost Ivar many chests of gold, for that particular legion of Roman cataphracts was the best of the best in the east.  They were better than any Arab unit and even better than the elite Persian formations.  The five thousand knight legion of cataphracts defeated a twenty thousand man army of Frankish foot so quickly that the King of the Franks immediately delivered up young Duke Richard safe and unharmed.  King Ivar left the legion there over winter to protect the young duke, which cost many more chests of gold, and when he went back to Normandy in the spring to collect up the cataphract to return it to Constantinople with the spring merchant fleet, he found that many of the knights had married the Gaulish girls of Normandy that the Norman Danes had grown to love so much and many of them did not want to go back to Rome but wished to pledge their allegiance to young Duke Richard, to protect and defend him forever, instead.  So, King Ivar gifted young Duke Richard with half a legion of Roman cataphracts, knowing full well that the Emperor of Rome would be pissed and charge him many more chests of gold to replace the irreplaceable knights errant.  Young Duke Richard started calling King Ivar ‘Hargold’ and his mother blessed King Ivar and called him Gold Harald.

“To help placate the Emperor, Ivar purchased the finest Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale studs he could find in Frankia and he gifted the Roman ruler with these huge fine horses that lent an even more menacing aspect to armoured cataphracts, but still, the Emperor was pissed and he charged Ivar an arm and a…another arm’s worth of gold for the missing knights errant and Ivar paid the excessive amount of gold with a great smile on his countenance and, because he wanted peace between the Hraes’ and the Romans, he gifted the Emperor with twenty five hundred of his finest Varangian warriors to replace the missing knights and the Emperor’s Varangian Guard was born.

“That’s a lot of gold!” Alfled exclaimed.  “You love me that much?” and she kissed him again and she focked him for a very long time.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

13.0 THE RELIGIONS OF HRAES’  (Circa 986 AD)

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    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)

(986 AD)  In the years that Prince Valdamar had become grand prince, religions all over the world had been sending their disciples to try to convert the Hraes’ ruler and his people to the newer more modern religions that had evolved during the ambivalence that was the Pax Romana that had predominated up to the fall of Rome in 476 AD.  They were all newer than the old related tripartite gods religions of the Persians, Greeks, Indians and Scandinavians, but they all came from older roots.  There was Buddhism and Jainism and Hinduism from India and Confucianism from Cathay and there was Zoroastrianism from Persia, the one true god religion that had displaced the Persian Aran-Magi tripartite gods religion from the east to the north and south and west into the Aesir and Brahman and Vanir religions respectively.  The Aesir Odin, Thor, Tyr religion of the Scandinavians, the Brahman Brahma, Indra, Vishnu religion of the Indians and the Zeus, Hercules, Apollo triad of the Greeks and the Jupiter (Zeus Pater), Mars and Mercury triad of the Romans who fled Troy for Italy.  But it was the one true god religions, offshoots of Zoroastrianism that intrigued Grand Prince Valdamar.  They were the new followers of the Book of Zoroaster and they were beginning to dominate much of the world.

The new followers of the book were the Jewish, Christian, Bhai and Islamic faiths, and none of them were religions of conquest as the Aesir religion was that Valdamar presently followed.  As a matter of fact, it was the one true god religion of the Christians that had precipitated the fall of Rome.  And before that it was Zoroastrianism itself that had precipitated the fall of the Persian Empire and before that it was that same Zoroastrian pacifist one true god religion that had caused the fall of the great Celtic Empire that had spread across Europe, although it didn’t fall as much as it was picked apart by religions of conquest.  The Scandinavian Aesir had savagely fallen upon the Celts of Germany and were soon lording over them as tribes of Alemanni, Marcomanni, Franks and Saxons.  When the Vanir General Julius Caesar went on a punitive raid into Celtic Gaul, he saw what was transpiring and he unleashed his Roman religion of conquest upon the Gauls and quickly conquered them, remarkably, with only three Roman legions.  The Legions of Rome then crossed the British Sea and conquered Britain and parts of Ireland before they, in turn, were overtaken by a one true god religion of their own, Christianity, and their thousand year empire toppled within a hundred.

But the Britons were very quick to take up the new Roman Christianity because they had previously taken up the one true god religion of Zoroaster and many of the Irish still followed Zoroaster while taking up the new Christianity.  That is what made them so good at it.  But the Britons fell victim to another Aesir religion of conquest when the Anglish Danes of Jutland overran them in the north and the German Saxons invaded them from the south.  And the Jutes of Jutland, the sea transporters of the two great interlopers, took up Kent and Wight and likely a few other locations no longer known of.  But these Germanic Aesir tribes, these Anglo-Saxons, would soon be converted to and weakened by the Christian one true god religion of the Romans they didn’t even have to drive out of Britain.  And they were soon to fall victim to the last Aesir tripartite gods religious followers of Odin, the Anglish Danes of Denmark and the Kievan Danes of Hraes’.  And it would be the Grand Prince Valdamar of Kiev that would end up leading it all.  And not while following the Aesir religion of conquest he now followed, but while following one of the new Zoroastrian Followers of the Book religions that he was soon to choose over all the others.

But right now, Grand Prince Valdamar was in Lade, Norway, helping his father prepare to fight the Jomsvikings of Wollin and Denmark.  He had promised his mother, Princess Malfrieda, that he would help his father expedite the taking of the Crown of Denmark and it was now time to deliver on that promise.

When all the religious delegations began arriving in Kiev, as Valdamar had arranged, Princess Sviataslava was the only royal present to receive them, so she sent for Princess Malfrieda in Novgorod and they both interviewed the separate delegations and sent off members of Prince Valdamar’s Centuriata to go to the separate lands of those religions and witness their ceremonies and beliefs.  If nothing else, the first-hand inspections would stall all the delegates long enough for the grand prince to get back to Kiev to make a choice.

Prince Erik would have come up from Tmutorokan, but he was busy assembling a great fleet of Roman dromons and Hraes’ longships to send in aid via the Mediterranean Sea and the rivers of Hraes’.  Legions had to be called up, supplies gathered and gold provided.  ‘This is it!’ The Prince thought.  ‘After fourteen years of building up a war chest, the second struggle for the Throne of Rome was to begin.’  Prince Erik ‘Bragi the Old’ Ragnarson wanted to go with the fleet as he saw it off from the quays of Gardariki, but somebody had to stay and run the Hraes’ Trading Company, the lucrative business that had built up that war chest.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

14.0  THE BATTLE OF HJORUNGAVAGR  (Circa 986 AD)

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14.    “One king we overthrew,       enthroned the other.

                    To good Guthorm                 we granted victory;

                        stern was the struggle         ere Knui was struck.

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(986 AD)  When Prince Sweyn got back from Hell, Alfled was at the quay waiting to greet him.  “You have to do something about your son,” she complained.  “We moved further down the hall but the pounding never stops.  I thought he was finally wearing out his three wives, but he went out and got himself three new local Norwegian wives, and now he focks twice as much.  There’s pounding morning, noon and night now!”

It was noon so, Sweyn went in and Valdamar was eating lunch with his six wives.  “Morning, Valdy,” Sweyn said as he walked up to the table.  “Father!” Valdamar said, getting up, and his wives all rose with him.  “These are my new wives, Princess Brita, Princess Dagmar and Princess Katla, all the daughters of local Jarls and Princes.”

“Ladies,” Sweyn greeted them and then he saw who Katla was and he said, “I have to check something,” and he left them and went to his master suite.  Alfled followed him in and started complaining again, “You shouldn’t just walk out on your son and his new wives,” she began, but Sweyn cut her off.  “I raped Princess Katla,” he said, quite embarrassed.  “She was part of that hard rape I helped Haakon with a few years back.  She was younger then.”

“She’s just a girl now!” Alfled said.

“Her father must be the Jarl that Haakon wanted to discipline,” Sweyn said as he paced about the bedroom and stomped on the floorboards here and there.

“You’re distraught,” she said.  “Stomp on the floor, kick the bed if it helps.”

“I’m testing the floor,” Sweyn said, and he jumped up and down on it all around the bed.  “Can you talk to Katla for me?  Tell her I was following orders?”

“I’ll talk to her,” Alfled said, “but I’ll ask her to talk with you as well.”

“Fine,” Sweyn said.  “Later this afternoon?”

“That should work for her.  They’ll be going upstairs to fock after lunch so, she should be free in about three hours!”

“This floor is really solid,” Sweyn said.  “I think there are cedar beams under the floorboards and they rest on undisturbed soil.  If we take out that wall and that wall, two of the side bedrooms can be added to the master bedroom, making one huge focking bedroom!  I’ll get some of the barracks carpenters in here this afternoon,” and Sweyn clapped his hands together.  “My grandfather said, I’m at my best when I’m a builder and not a destroyer.”

The pounding started up in the loft master suite and daub dust began floating down from the ceiling again.  Alfled was about to complain, but Sweyn kissed her on the lips and said, “I’d better get on this,” and he left her in the suite.

Sweyn pulled a few carpenters off his barracks project and went through the required modifications with them and they said they’d have it done by supper and that reminded Sweyn to have some lunch and spend some time with his children.  The carpenters got to work and were doing some pounding of their own and Alfled had to leave and she went over to Haakon’s hall and visited with them for a few hours.  When the upstairs pounding was over for a while, she came back and talked with Katla and arranged a meeting with Sweyn in a corner of the hall.

Sweyn walked up to where Alfled and Katla were sitting and was about to apologize to the girl when she blurted out, “Please don’t tell Valdamar that we had sex!  I told him I was a virgin.”

“Didn’t he notice that you weren’t?” Sweyn asked.

“He took me last, after the other two, and he was quite bloody by then and I sort of slid through using some of the other girls blood.  I haven’t slept with anybody since you had me,” she said.  “You got me pregnant and I had a son by you.  He’s living with my parents.”

“I won’t say a word to Valdamar about this,” Sweyn promised, “if you won’t.”

“I won’t say a word,” Katla promised.  “My dad was pretty mad at Jarl Haakon for a long time, but he got over it.  My parents both love our baby Sweyn.”

“You named him Sweyn?” Sweyn asked.

“My father said it was very important that people knew that he was the son of a great prince.  My father was never mad at you or Jarl Eirik.”

“We were only following orders,” Sweyn began apologizing.  “I’m sorry if I caused you pain.”

“Oh, you caused me pain alright,” Katla laughed.  “I never knew cocks were so big until you stuck yours through my flower!  And then nine months later another Sweyn’s cock passed through me the other way and that hurt even more.  And now your son, Prince Valdamar is sticking that big monster of his into me and causing both pain and pleasure.  But I’m glad you gave me little Sweyn.  He’s such a good boy and we love him so much.”

“Do you think we could visit my son sometime?” Sweyn asked.

“My father is supporting Jarl Haakon with his warship in this upcoming fight,” Katla said.  “He’s Jarl Kettle.  Just talk with him and ask him.  He was never angry with you about what happened.  My mother even thanks you for the help you gave her.”

“Can Alfled and I join you ladies and Valdamar for supper tonight?” Sweyn asked Katla.  “I have an announcement I’d like to make and it involves all of you.”

“Of course,” Katla said.  “Please do.”

The carpenters had the work done well before supper so, Sweyn took Alfled with him to inspect the work.  The master suite had been widened to almost double its former, the floor had been reinforced where needed, and the bed had been widened as well.  Sweyn thanked the carpenters for the fine job and then he told Alfled, “Valdamar and his wives will be moving in here after supper.  There won’t be any pounding coming out of this room, not with this floor under them!”

Alfled jumped up and down on the floor and then bounced on the edge of the bed.  “I think you might be right!” she said.

“And I want to throw a feast this Saturn’s day for Valdamar and his new wives!”

“I think that would be wonderful!” she said as she bounced on the bed.  “Let’s try it out!”

“Try what out?”

“The bed, silly!” she said.  “You pound me as hard as you can for as long as you can and we’ll see if it makes any noise,” and she started undressing Sweyn.  Then Sweyn began undressing her and she said, “It’s such a small world.”

“What do you mean?”

“You rape some young girl in Lade and she ends up marrying the Grand Prince of Kievan Hraes who just happens to be your son.”

“It may be a small world,” Sweyn agreed, “ but you’re about to experience my big cock!”

“It’s not that big,” Alfled said, as she slid herself onto the bed.

“Katla thought it was big,” Sweyn said as he entered Alfled.

“She was twelve years old!” Alfled laughed and then Sweyn began thrusting into her and pounding away and she began moaning and Sweyn drove his member into her for a half hour straight and she had several orgasms and he kept thrusting into her.  He was in training for the upcoming battle and had done a thousand sit ups and a thousand push ups with Emma before leaving Hell and he saw this bed test as another opportunity to train.  After a full hour of pounding and not one sound emanating from the floor or the bed, Alfled began moaning in a way that excited Sweyn and he was soon flowing inside her.

After supper Sweyn got up and announced that Valdamar would be in need of a double size bedroom, since he had doubled the number of wives with him, and Sweyn gave them all a tour of the renovated master suite.  “It is yours,” Sweyn said, “should it so please you.”

“I love it!” Valdamar said and his wives all agreed as they bounce tested the bed.

When they returned to the hall, Sweyn announced he would be providing a feast celebrating all of Valdamar’s new wives.  They drank and celebrated in the hall and Katla made sure she filled Sweyn’s horn with thank mead for his silence.  What Sweyn had feared would be embarrassing for him turned out to be a wonderful thing as Katla and Alfled bonded together as mothers.  Servants and slaves were busy moving trunks and clothing while they partied and Valdamar’s gear was transferred to the main floor bedroom suite while Sweyn and Alfled’s gear was moved up to the loft suite.  That night Alfled and Sweyn were in bed in each other’s arms listening for any noises emanating from the main suite below them.  They did faintly hear a few of Valdamar’s wives having orgasms, but there were no pounding sounds at all.  “I didn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be moans of ecstasy,” Sweyn told Alfled.  “I just guaranteed to end the infernal pounding.”

“It’s wonderful!” Alfled whispered.  “It’s like listening to your baby babble because it’s happy, versus your baby crying its lungs out because it’s hungry and its diaper is shitty.”

“Moaning orgasms are like a baby babbling?”

“I think I hear Katla moaning,” she said.  “I mean it’s a pleasing sound like a happy baby’s sounds.”

“You’re pregnant again, aren’t you?”

“I think so,” Alfled said and she held Sweyn’s arm as he kissed her.

Once the house had been quieted down, Aud began coming over to study again and she stayed over Thor’s day night and slept with Sweyn and Alfled as they had become accustomed to do.  People were even beginning to think that perhaps Prince Valdamar had misheard news of the Jomsvikings attack and maybe it wasn’t coming.  But Freya’s day afternoon, one of Haakon’s very fast scout ships returned with news that sixty Jomsviking ships were sailing up the coast of Norway.  They were estimated to arrive at Trondheim Fjord late on Saturn’s day and, since Jarl Haakon wanted to meet somewhere outside the fjord, they planned to sail against them on Saturn’s day morning.  So, Valdamar slept with his wives on Freya’s day evening and Sweyn and Alfled sat at their highseats waiting for Aud to arrive.  She arrived with her brother Eirik.  He did not want to sleep alone.  Alfled had slept with Eirik many times before, when she was Haakon’s concubine, but never as Sweyn’s wife so, she looked up at Sweyn for an answer and Sweyn nodded.  He had not told Alfled or Aud about his Sacred Band experience with Eirik in Hell, but he expected the girls might be in for a surprise.  Theban Sacred Band Brothers always made love before battles to reinforce their bonds prior to combat.

They drank wine at the highseats and took a few bottles up to the loft master suite.  As they went up the staircase to the balcony before the suite, it reminded both Sweyn and Eirik of Hallveig’s hall and, as they walked through the double door, both men instinctively searched the room for Thorgerder Helgibruder.  But there were no side doors in the bedroom that led to nowhere.  There were just two shuttered windows on the end wall of the room.

Alfled was still under the impression that Eirik was there to seek comfort with her and she told Eirik he wouldn’t need protection as she had just learned she was already pregnant.  They congratulated her and she began undressing Eirik as Aud and Sweyn sat at a side table with the wine and watched.  Eirik was naked and erect and he began undressing Alfled and when she was naked she knelt down beside the bed and took Eirik’s stiff member into her mouth and she began nominal congress on it.  Sweyn and Aud drank some wine and Aud had her foot up under the side table and was massaging his lingam with her toes as they watched Alfled at work.  When she thought Eirik was sufficiently wet she crawled up on the bed and laid herself open on the bed to receive him.  Eirik crawled onto her and slid into her and began thrusting his way deeper.  Alfled was pregnant by Sweyn, but when Sweyn had pounded on Alfled during their main suite bed test, he had shaken something loose within her, an egg, and when Thorgerder Helgibruder learned that Hallveig was going to sacrifice her two foetuses to pay for her services, Thorgerder decided to pay Alfled a visit and give that egg a little push toward her uterus and she would give both eggs there a special touch.  Both Sweyn and Eirik carried the blood of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson through Ivar ‘the Boneless’, and Thorgerder Helgibruder, the bride of Helgi, was going to collect on Helgi’s promise to give her a baby.  While Eirik was focking hard upon Alfled, wind burst in through the windows, throwing the shutters open with a clatter, and it left the room as suddenly as it had entered.  Aud was startled and spilled her wine and Sweyn rushed over to secure the shutters.  But Helgi’s bride swept through the room with the wind and touched Alfled in a way only powerful spirits could and Thorgerder had her way with Alfled’s DNA.  When Eirik’s lust was sated and his semen flowed deep into Alfled, it was Thorgerder’s egg that Eirik fertilized and Sweyn’s wife was now pregnant with twins of different fathers and, to some extent, different mothers as well.

When Eirik was done with Alfled he walked naked toward Sweyn and led him next to the bed and began undressing him.  Alfled was shocked and she got off the bed and sat at the side table with Aud and they both sat and drank wine and watched.  Eirik took Sweyn’s cock into his mouth and sucked it hard and got it wet and then he crawled onto the bed on all fours and Sweyn got on the bed and knelt behind him and entered him and grabbed him by the hips and thrust deeply within him and began focking him.  Alfled was still in shock as she watched, but Aud had gotten over her shock and was now eyeing Alfled and she snuck her foot under the table and began working her toe into Alfled’s cunny well.  Sweyn was watching Aud as he was focking Eirik and thinking of her soon had him coming in her brother.

When Sweyn was fully sated, he laid Eirik back and took his cock into his mouth and he could still taste Alfled on it and he enjoyed her taste as Eirik got hard.  Aud was caught up in the spirit of the thing and she led Alfled to the bed and laid her back beside Eirik and she put her tongue into her cunny well and she began to get Alfled excited.  When Sweyn got Eirik’s cock wet enough he straddled his hips and slid Eirik’s cock up his anus and he began riding his steed.  He had always wondered how his wives felt riding his steed and he felt the power they’d had over the process.  When he’d tired of the ride he got off Eirik and then Eirik entered Sweyn from behind and grabbed his hips and began focking him while Aud and Alfled stopped and watched.  Eirik was driving hard and fast and his groin slapped against Sweyn’s ass and the floor started pounding and Alfled could picture the daub dust floating about Prince Valdamar’s room below.  Eirik made a final deep thrust into Sweyn and exploded within him.

“Boy’s night out?” Alfled whispered to Aud, but Aud said, “No.  Girl’s night out!” and she laid back and awaited a reciprocating service from Alfled.  It was Sweyn and Eirik’s turn to watch as Alfled soon had Aud moaning in pleasure.  Then they all slept together and Eirik and Aud rose early in the morning and rode horses back to Haakon’s longhall.  Sweyn and Alfled woke up and had their own pre-battle sex and Sweyn prepared to sail off to meet the Jomsvikings.

Prince Sweyn had his fleet of thirty Roman dromons ready to sail and Prince Valdamar likewise had his thirty Hraes’ transport warships ready to go so, they went over to Jarl Haakon’s longhall to see if the rest of the fleets were ready.  Sweyn and Valdamar were talking with Eirik and Aud when Haakon came up and asked Sweyn, “Could you go to Hell and get Hallveig Irpa?”  When Sweyn said he would, Haakon added,  “And tell her to bring all her chantreusses!”

Sweyn took his dromon shieldship to sail over to Hell and pick up Hallveig and Emma and they loaded up their helmets and armour and shields and the twelve chantreusses that had helped contact the spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder.  “Why do we need the children?” Sweyn asked Emma as he helped her with the gear.

“We have to conjure up Thorgerder Helgibruder when we get there.  She doesn’t just appear out of thin air, you know.”

“I know,” Sweyn said.  “I kinda thought she did just appear out of thin air.  I kinda saw her do just that when we were calling her up in Hallveig’s master bedroom.”

“That’s because we had chants going to call her there.  If we just conjure her up without the proper chanting, she’s as likely to appear here, in Hell, as she is upon the battlefield.”

“I don’t like taking children into battle with me,” Sweyn protested.

“Either do I, Sweyn.  Welcome to my life!” and Emma looked up at Sweyn with an expression of helplessness on her face.  “This is going to be really bad, Sweyn.  I’m so afraid,” she said, and she looked about herself as if searching for a place to hide.

“I’m sorry, Emma,” Sweyn said, hugging her and trying to reassure her.  “Jarl Haakon called her Hallveig Irpa,” he added, as Hallveig came out her hall with the children, “when he asked me to come fetch her.”

“Don’t tell me this,” Emma said.  “That means it is even worse.  Irpa is Hallveig’s spirit name.  Haakon is afraid we’re going to lose.  These are Jomsvikings we’re up against.  Jomsvikings!”

“We aren’t going to lose!” Sweyn reassured her.  “We are Hraes!  We never lose.”

Sweyn helped her onto the gangplank and watched her go up it.  She had been training hard and it showed as she stepped lightly up the plank.  Hallveig Irpa then came down the quay with her brood trailing behind her and he could see she had been in training as well.  She was old, but she was in good shape.  “The children can sit below deck,” Sweyn told her as they boarded.  “This is a Roman dromon.  We have a full rowing deck below deck,” and he took them below deck and took them into his captain’s cabin at the bow of the ship.  There were chairs and beds in the cabin and the children marvelled at the comforts there.  “I’ll settle them in,” Hallveig said, “and then I’ll come up on deck and join you and Emma.”  Sweyn didn’t realize she had taken a hold of his hand until she let it go as he was leaving and she smiled at him softly.  He realized then that she was as nervous as Emma.

Jarl Eirik had gone north to Namdalen, to gather troops and ships from all around the islands.  They had all been told that the Jomsvikings were coming and the arrow had been passed, but these were Jomsvikings they’d be fighting so, Eirik went out to gather up the stragglers.  As they turned into Trondheim Fjord, Eirik sailed south along the Hamrasund, and a warship came to meet him and the man in charge of the party was called Thorkel Medium; he was a Red Viking and in conflict with Jarl Haakon and they immediately broke out their weapons and intended to attack Eirik.  They had three ships, but when Eric saw this, he said to Thorkel, “If you want to fight us then we’ll be ready.  But I’ve a word of advice first.”

“What is it?” said Thorkel.

“It seems unbelievable to me,” said Eirik, “that we Norwegians would fight amongst ourselves when we are under attack from outsiders, from Danes and Jomsvikings.  But if you help my father with your fleet and give him what you are capable of, then we shall do whatever it takes to be reconciled with you.”

“I want this choice,” Thorkel replied, “if you will, Eirik, that I will not be restrained by what you say when I meet your father.”

“I will take care of that,” Eirik assured him, so, Thorkel and his company joined Eirik’s fleet.

Soon after this, all the small fleets had been gathered together in the great bay in front of the cities of Lade and Trondheim and Jarl Haakon and Eirik and Sweyn sailed past them all in Sweyn’s Roman dromon shieldship and they counted three hundred and sixty ships of various sizes from bireme dromons to Hraes’ transport warships to dragonships and longships and finally Nor’Way ships.  They sailed south along the Norway coast and assembled in a fjord called Hjorungavagr and they made their plan of battle while they waited for the Jomsvikings.  Prince Sweyn’s thirty Roman dromons were linked together side by side and were connected together by their fore and aft boarding bridges to form a high battle platform in the center of the fjord and the Hraes’ troops on the decks began setting up their trebuchets.  Prince Valdamar’s thirty Hraes’ transport warships were set half on either side of the battle platform and they, too, set up their trebuchets.  And then two flanking fleets were arranged on either side of that to virtually block off the fjord and smaller ships were arranged behind the rest in support.  There were a number of small islands just beyond the fjord which was part of a large island off the mainland.  Small fast scout ships were sent out patrolling the small islands and the larger islands out beyond Hjorungavagr.

Jarl Haakon was very pleased with the arrangement that Sweyn and Eirik had come up with and he had Sweyn sail his shieldship southwest up the fjord to Hjorungavagr Creek at it’s source.  There was a small quay there and Haakon, Hallveig, Emma and the children got out with a large force of troops and slaves and they set up a camp and were going to go inland to a sacred oak grove to conjure up spirits.  Sweyn soon saw that Haakon had selected the fjord for a reason and perhaps had fought battles here before.  Other small support ships were arriving to work on the camp some more so, Sweyn took his ship back into formation and waited with Valdamar and Eirik.

The Jomsvikings had sailed south from the Vik, where they had led a surprise attack on the city of Tonsberg there, and then they had sailed west and north following the coastline of the country, invading and plundering all the way up the coast as they went.  They killed many men and burned many places and the people fled before them.  They sailed to a channel called Ulfasund, and then they sailed past Stad to a harbor called Hereyjar and they anchored there with all their fleet.

By then they were running short of supplies so, Vagn Akason took his ship and went to an island called Hod, not knowing that Jarl Haakon was nearby with his great fleet.  Vagn found a thrall’s hut beside a large corral that held only three cows.  Vagn and a few of his men went up to the log hut and they peered into it through gaps in the chinking.  “What is that thrall doing?” Vagn whispered.  “I do believe he is focking a goat,” his scout whispered back.  Vagn looked a little closer through the hole and, indeed, the thrall was focking a she-goat from behind and seemed to be saying words of love to it as he humped her rump.  Vagn straightened up, went over to the door and kicked it open while he drew his sword.  As he stepped into the dark room, the slave withdrew from the goat and stood there with his erect cock dripping semen on the floor.

“Sorry to interrupt your nith work,” Vagn said, “but we need your livestock!”  He asked the man his name and he answered, “I’m called Ulf,” as he put his pants on.  Then Vagn said to his men, “Now take the cows and the goat and slaughter them on our ship, and I’ll pay Ulf for them and any others we can find here.”

“Who is in charge of this ship?” Ulf asked.

“I am and I’m going to need all your cattle,” said Vagn.

“I have my master’s cows out grazing in the woods,” the slave said, “but I need my goat back before I get them for you.”

“Your master leaves you on this island to graze his cattle all alone with only a she-goat to keep you company?”

“I need my goat back,” the slave said.  “She’s my only comfort.”

“I’ll get you your goat,” Vagn replied.  “I don’t want to stand between lovers, but I’ll need all your cattle first.”

“I need my goat back first,” the thrall said.

“I need your cows first,” Vagn said, raising his sword.

“You’re Danes,” Ulf said.  “You must be here to attack Norway!”

“We’re Jomsvikings,” Vagn said, resting upon his sword, “and we’re here to kill your Jarls.”

“They’re not my Jarls,” Ulf spat.  “I used to be a Dane once, before I was taken in a Viking raid.”

“Now you fock goats in Norway,” Vagn spat back.

“Just the one,” Ulf said.  “I used to fock the cows, but the master found out and he brought me little Edith.”

“Your goat is Anglish?”

“Fock the Anglish!” my master said, “But don’t fock the cows anymore.”

“Well, I’m still going to need the rest of those cows,” Vagn said, raising his sword again.

“And I’m still going to need my goat back first,” Ulf explained, “because, if Jomsvikings kill my master’s cows at sword point, he’ll just bring me out more cows to graze, but if you kill my goat, he may not replace her, and she sleeps with me in my hut here and she never has a headache and she’s seldom on the rag.”

“You’re a hard man to deal with Ulf,” Vagn laughed, “at least that’s what your goat has been telling all my men.”

“It seems to me,” Ulf replied, scheming to get his she-goat back, “that there could be a greater slaughter of sea cows not far from here if you could but spare me my goat.”

“Do you know anything about Jarl Haakon’s whereabouts?” Vagn asked, getting suddenly excited.  “If you can tell us the truth about where he is, then you can keep your goat.  What do you know of Jarl Hakon?”

Ulf answered, “Last night he lay here alone on the island of Hod in Hjorungavagr Bay, and you can kill him if you want, because he is waiting for his men there.”

Vagn shouted out to his men to bring back the goat, then said, “I will give you money as well as the goat if you go on board with us and show us the way to the jarl.”

“It is not fitting,” said Ulf, “that I fight against the Jarl, and I do not agree, but I will show you the way until you see his ship, if you will, and then I’ll go.”  Ulf locked his goat up in his hut and went off on the ship with them, but it was early in the day so, Vagn and his men went first to Hereyjar to tell his leader, Sigvald, the tidings that Ulf told them.

The Jomsvikings then began to prepare for a great battle and wanted to be ready for anything, even though Ulf kept reassuring them that Jarl Hakon was alone with one ship in Hjorungavagr Bay, but Sigvald was suspicious of Ulf and suspected something was up.  Vagn’s ship led the way and they soon saw that there were more ships in the fjord than Ulf had told them.  When they saw many ships coming out to meet them, Ulf leaped overboard and swam under the waves and when Vagn saw this, he took a spear and waited for Ulf to come up for a breath and then sent it arcing across the billowing waves straight into Ulf’s back and he sank below the waters.

“Focking nith!” Vagn shouted at Ulf.

Sigvald and all the Jomsvikings rowed into the fjord, and saw that the Norwegian fleet was drawn up in order so, they drew their own fleet into battle order to meet them.  They saw the battle order of Haakon and they arranged their fleet to match whom they wanted to fight against.

It was such that to the west sat the source of Hjorungavagr Fjord and the mouth faced the east.  There were three islands called Hjorungar just before the mouth of the bay, and the largest one is the only island named.  But they were in a row in line with the middle of the fjord, and they were the same distance to land on each side.  An island sat to the north of the three, called Primsid, and Hjorund Island sat to the south of the three, and further south yet from there was Harundarfjordur.

Sigvald put his ships and the ships of Harald ‘Bluetooth’ in the middle of the warfleet and his brother, Thorkell ‘the Tall’, put his ship next to him.  Bui Digri and Sigurdur put their ships out on the north flank of the fleet and Vagn Akason and Bjorn ‘the Welshman’ put their ships on the southern flank.

Jarl Haakon and his men saw the lineup against them and had some second thoughts on their own order of battle.  And so they arranged in most places that three were intended against one of the enemy.  Princes Sweyn and Valdamar were up against Sigvald in the center, but three men were appointed against Thorkell ‘the Tall’ and there was Yrja-Skeggi’s ship, and another under Sigurdur ‘the Fry’ from north of Halogaland, and a third of Thorir ‘the Deer’.  Two more men were added to be with Sweyn against Sigvald, first Gudbrandur from Dalir and Styrkar from Gims, and they and their men joined Sweyn on the decks of his dromons and blended in with the Hraes’ troops there.

Opposite Bui was Thorkel Midlangur and another Hallsteinn Kerlingabani from Fjolur and the third Thorkell Leira, a landlord of the Jarl.  But in front of Sigurdur Kapa, Bui’s brother’s ship, there were father and sons, Armodur from Onundarfjordur and Arni and Fidr, his sons.  Then against Vagn Akason was meant Jarl Eirik Haakonarson and another, Erlingur of Skugga, and a third, Ogmund ‘the White’, and the three were to pay Vagn the honour of combat.

And against Bjorn ‘the Brexit-the Welshman’ was intended Einar ‘the Little Lander’, and another in Havardur Uppi, and as third, Hallvardur of Flydrunes, Havardur’s brother.  But Jarl Haakon, himself, was kept free of the fight, and was meant to support all the factions together and lead the warfleet.

There were four Icelanders with Haakon’s fleet, one was named Einar, who was then called Skjaldmeyjar Einar, and he was the Jarl’s poet and had little honour from the Jarl of late.  Einar had a great deal to say about it and he claimed he would run from Jarl Haakon’s force over to Sigvald’s, and so, he recited a verse:

“I make the tin too respectful         in the midst of evil times,

I did that while others,                     arrow weaved, asleep.

I got what I thought was right         parliamentary money better,

meidur saves hodd by rumor,        each, but the poet worse.”

Then he said, “After all, I will go to Sigvald.  He will do me no less honour than the Jarl does.”

He then jumped out of Jarl Haakon’s ship and onto Prince Sweyn’s dromon and bravely shouted out to Sigvald:

“Let’s get the earl extra                   wolf’s price dares swords,

we load a table on a bar                 Sigvald’s bow shields;

does not kill the one who bends    sarlinns is grams find,

stripes spread out on others          finally, with me.”

Jarl Haakon realized that Skjaldmeyjar Einar was acting out and the Jarl called him and asked to speak with him.  Then the Jarl took his fine scales he had with him, made of gilded silver and of gold complete with weights, one of gold, the other of silver.  On both sides the figure of a man was engraved as if it were an idol, and it was called a lottery, and these were a common feature to have, but another feature was very important: when the scales were in balance it made a tinkling sound and this was not common at all.  Einar had never heard of such a thing before and was very pleased with the scales so, Jarl Haakon gave them to him.  And from this Einar got a byname, and was thereafter called Einar ‘Skalaglamm’.

There was a second Icelander there named Vigfus, son of Vigga-Glum, the third Thordur, who was called Arrow-hand, and the fourth Thorleif, who was called Skuma, the son of Thorkel ‘the Rich’ west of Dyrafjordur from Alvidra.

It was said of Thorleif that he got himself a large half-root stump in a forest, and then went to a place with waiters and fire and food, and he burned the stump all over the outside, and he held it in his hand and went to meet Eirik Haakonarson on his ship, and Einar ‘Skalaglamm’ accompanied him there, and then Thorleif thumped the stump in his hand and when Eirik saw him do it, he said, “What are you going to do, Thorleif, with that big stump you have in your hand?”  Thorleif answered him thus:

“I have in my hands             the shatterer of skulls,

the bane of both                   Bui and Sigvaldi,

Jomsvikings destruction     is Haakon’s defense;

If I live, this oaken club’s    the bane of the Danes.”

And the four Icelandic champions went aboard with Jarl Eirik: Einar ‘Skalaglamm’, Thorleif Skuma, Vigfus Vigaglumsson and Thordur ‘Arrow-hand’.

Sigvald had seen the catapults on the center ships of the Norwegian fleet and had organized his own fleet just beyond what he thought was catapult range so, when the center trebuchets started flinging tonstones at great velocity and several of his ships were broken up, he set his men rowing hard straight for Jarl Haakon’s fleet.  A dozen of his ships were shattered before he got his fleet inside of catapult range and the fleets joined in battle.  Jarl Haakon joined Prince Sweyn, to strengthen the center against Sigvald, and now the hardest battle between fleets was fought, and neither side could make progress against the other.  And it was said that Sigvald and his forces were on an equal footing in the center, so that no further loses of their ships occurred.

On the one flank, Jarl Hakon could see that Bui had greatly punished their party on the northern arm, and those who fought with him had lost ships, and it seemed to them that it would be better to get away from him.  But he went after them nonetheless, and he dealt out great blows to them and they got away from him, as he was murderous in battle.  The Jarl could see that there was an even fight going on between Eirik and Vagn on the southern arm of the engagement.  So, Eirik set out against the north flank in his own ship and Sweyn joined him in another ship, and the Theban brothers went to take the fight to Bui but could only manage to straighten out their line and no better.  In the meantime, Jarl Haakon and Prince Valdamar held the center against Sigvald.

But when Eirik returned to the southern arm of the line, Vagn and his ships had greatly battered Eirik’s fleet and it was giving way, and then Eirik’s ships broke apart, and Vagn and his men pushed through the line and threatened to attack the rear.  Eirik became very angry when he saw this, and he steered his ship, Jarnbardinn or Ironbeard, hard at Vagn’s ship and they lashed their ships together and they fought again and the battle was even sharper than it had been before.  Vagn and Aslakur Holmskalli lept from their ship onto Eirik’s Jarnbardinn and they fought their way down both sides of the deck wreaking havoc and carnage as they progressed.  Aslakur Holmskalli struck with his sword using both hands in wild abandon.  Eirik could see that these men are so fearless and insane that it will not take long for them to clear the deck so, he urged on his men to keep fighting.  Aslakur was a bald man with no helmet upon his head because of the heat.  The wind was warm and the weather was clear and hot and many men had taken off their outer clothes to stay cooler, and had only their armor on.  Eirik kept urging his men on against them, and they attacked Aslakur with their weapons, chopping him in the head with both swords and axes, but the blows had no effect against his bare head.  It was as though they were striking Aslakur’s skull with a piece of whalebone instead of with steel.

Vigfus Vigaglumsson was sure they were fighting a berserk instead of a man so, he took a spear butt and pushed it through the drift hole of a small anvil he had earlier used to sharpen his weapons, and Vigfus raised up the anvil and brought it down with great force over the shieldwall and he drove it into Aslakur’s head and killed him dead.

As Vagn was working his way down the other side of the ship, dealing out bitter two handed blows as he went, Thorleif Skuma ran against Vagn and struck him with his blackened club on the helmet top and it burst wide open, and though he was dazed by the blow, Vagn leaned over and stabbed Thorleif with his sword, and then leaped out of the Ironbeard and landed standing on his own ship’s deck and urged his own men to fight on.  Aslakur Holmskalli and Vagn Akason had cleared so many men from the deck of the Ironbeard that Eirik had to get men from other ships, until he was fully ordered, before he could carry on the fight.  And then Eirik and his men saw that his father, Jarl Haakon, and the army had gone ashore to eat and there was a lull in battle.

Now the princes and jarls all met and talked and Jarl Haakon said, “I think I see that the battle is getting away from us, and it is, as I thought, most difficult to fight these Jomsvikings, for it seems to me that these men are more berserk than warrior, and these men are no worse off now than when we had begun the fight.  We must strike a different tack in dealing with the Jomsvikings.  I shall go inland to pray and you must return to your ships and await my deliberations.”

Jarl Haakon went inland along Hjorungavagr Creek and met up with Hallveig Irpa in a clearing in the sacred oak forest, and the Jarl knelt there on his knees in front of her and they prayed for the aid of Thorgerder Helgibruder, and they both looked west, and now spoke to the gods for her reception.  Emma started the chantreusses chanting and they joined hands and went about the kneeling couple in a circle.  Haakon and Hallveig Irpa, in their words of prayer, challenged the Lade spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder to answer their calling.  Dark clouds could be seen far-off in the west and they moved east very rapidly and a great wind arose to presage their arrival.  The black clouds could be seen pouring rain as they approached and Haakon and Hallveig Irpa both knew it was Thorgerder Helgibruder.

Jarl Haakon took Hallveig Irpa and her Valkyrie Emma to his ships, leaving the children to chant in the grove, and the Jarl now urged his army on all over again.  “And I know now for sure,” he said, “that we will defeat these berserks of Jomsborg, and now we will do better, for I have been promised a win.  We have Thorgerder Helgibruder and she will not fail me, for she has never fallen short of victory!”

There had been a break in battle, but that was over now as the two fleets closed in again with a tumultuous clash of weapons.  The Jarl and his Valkyries joined Prince Sweyn on his shieldship, and they formed up a second time and the Jarl was again against Sigvald, and the battle raged once more as Haakon put his trust in Thorgerder Helgibruder.  Hallveig Irpa conjured up the spirit above her and a huge ghostly visage of a fierce shield maiden appeared overhead.

The fine spring weather went south and the sky grew dark and black clouds billowed as if up from the sea and everything cooled down quickly.  Rain lashed down and hail pelted down with it, followed by both lightning and thunder.  The Jomsvikings fought from the northeast against the west wind and the sleet came down so hard, some men could hardly keep their feet.  The men had all earlier taken off their clothes because of the heat, but now the weather had changed and they begin to freeze.  And yet they attended battle without fail.  But when the Jomsvikings would hurl spears or shoot arrows the wind would carry them back at the Danes along with the projectiles of the Norwegians.

It was Havard Hoggandi, Bui’s companion, that was the first to see where Thorgerder Helgibruder was in Jarl Haakon’s army, and then many people saw the spirit, an unscrupulous occurrence, as witchcraft, and they saw that, when the light was softened, an arrow flew from every finger of the spirit, and was always the death of a man and this shower of darts was always directed at Sigvald and his comrades, the Jomsvikings.

And now Sigvald spoke out to his men, for Haakon and his men attended the battle now with greater ferocity.  “I do not think,” said Sigvald, “that we are here with men to fight today, but with the worst spirit, and though it will be more difficult to go against a ghost, yet it is required that we men harden and handle it as best we can.”  And the Jomsvikings fought on with the greatest courage and endured their severe losses as the storm raged on against them.

As the fighting went on, Jarl Haakon felt that the hailstorm was waning and he called upon Thorgerder to increase the intensity of her efforts.  But she was deaf to the Jarl’s prayer and she began to be angry with him, and he looked to Hallveig Irpa for assistance and she directed the spirit once more into the fray as she protected herself from the arrows of the Jomsvikings with her shield on one side and Emma protected her with her shield from the other side.  The north flank was once more under severe attack by Bui Digri and his fleet so, Hallveig Irpa sent the spirit to that wing to thin the ranks of the berserks there and drive them back.  But the southern flank began to collapse again and Hallveig sent the spirit there soon after.  The Jomsvikings pulled off for a short respite after their last inhuman efforts and they rested and ate on their ships, keeping under the catapult range, but beyond arrow shot.

“They’re trying to collapse our flanks,” Jarl Eirik complained as they all met on Sweyn’s central shieldship.  The dromons were proving proof against Jomsviking attack due to their higher draft, but Prince Valdamar’s lower transport ships were constantly in a state of repelling assaults and the fleets on the flanks were being decimated of troops.  “We need a second spirit,” Haakon stated and he took Hallveig Irpa and Emma aboard his ship and shouted for his men to hold on until he returned.

The Jarl and his Valkyries went back to the sacred oak grove and the chantreusses were still chanting and dancing in a circle and Haakon and Hallveig Irpa broke through the circle and began praying in the center.  A dark cloud gathered above them and Haakon knew it was Thorgerder and he invited her to accept various things in sacrifice for a second spirit, but she did not want to accept, and he thought he was looking at the matter the wrong way.  And it finally came to the point that he offered her human sacrifice, but she didn’t want to accept what he offered her in humans.

The jarl thought his case most unexpected, and, if he could not soothe her, things would not go well for the men of Lade.  He accepted the desperation of their situation and increased the offer to her, and it was so important that he invited her to all other men, except himself and his sons Eirik and Sweyn and his son Valdamar.  But the Jarl had a son named Erling there, who was seven years old and a most promising young man, but, too late, he realized that he had not sheltered his young son because he was one of the children dancing about him in the circle.  Thorgerder accepted his offer and chose Erling Haakonarson.

Hallveig Irpa was in tears and she pleaded for the life of Erling and Emma joined in and, now that the Jarl had his prayers and vows answered by the Lade spirit, Thorgerder Helgibruder, he offered himself up instead, but the cruel spirit refused.  The Jarl hugged his boy and handed him to Skofta Karkson, his slave, and the thrall did as he was ordered and slit the throat of the boy and collected up his blood in a bronze wash basin.  Haakon tore the clothes off of Hallveig, and Emma tried to help him but she had to keep the poor terrified children chanting in their now smaller circle.  Haakon was in the center with Hallveig and he dipped both hands into the basin of blood and he smeared Erling’s blood all over Hallveig Irpa’s naked body and she grew younger and stronger and was soon the spirit Irpa alone.  She was twenty six years old again, just like Thorgerder’s age when she died in battle and Irpa rose up into the black cloud with Thorgerder and it swept out east and rejoined the battle that had just recommenced.  Haakon left Emma with the children and Emma joined herself into the circle to make the full dozen again and they danced and chanted as the Jarl rejoined the fleet.

So, it soon grew even darker this second time and in this ancient abode, Havardur saw that now two women were on Jarl Haakon’s ships and both of them fired arrows from their fingertips and each shot brought about the death of a man, just as he had seen before.  The two spirits split up and each went to a separate flank and caused great devastation amongst the Jomsvikings with their deadly arrows.  Thorgerder Helgibruder floated below the black clouds and hail in her white Shield maiden’s dress and armour and she fired five arrows at a time from each hand and each arrow brought the death of a man in the fleet off the southern flank.  And Irpa floated in glorious form, naked and swathed in red blood strokes as she floated above the northern flank and fired arrows into the ships of the Jomsvikings.  One ship she was above, she cleared the deck of men, ten at a time, until there were only five left alive at the stern of the ship, and all five dropped to their knees and pledged themselves to serve her if she would just spare their lives so, she touched them and they fell unconscious at the back of the ship and Irpa moved on to clear another ship’s deck of stalwart young men.

This time Sigvald spoke to his men, “Now I think it best we flee,” he said, “and so do all my men, as it is now worse than before, when we were barely able to bear it, and now we fight against two spirits.”  And Sigvald turned away from his ship and called on Vagn and Bui and their fleets on the flanks to do likewise.  “When there was one thing,” Sigvald said, “we had a chance, but with two we shall no longer persist.  After all, it is not men that we flee from, but spirits.  We did not make a vow to fight witchcraft!”

At the moment that Sigvald had freed his ship from the battle, Thorkel Midlangur was on the northern flank and he ran the length of his ship and jumped into the ship of Bui, and struck at Bui just once with his sword, and he chopped off his lip and chin all the way down through, so that it immediately fell onto the deck of the ship and there sat the teeth of Bui and he still managed to say, “It will be hard for the Danish girls of Borgundarholm to kiss me now,” but nobody could understand him because he spoke his Danish with a new Norwegian steel accent.  He then struck at the face of Thorkel, but the ship was bloody now, and Thorkel slipped and fell across the topstrake as he tried to avoid the blow, and Bui’s second blow caught him in the middle and cut Thorkel in two and half of him fell into the sea and half upon the ship’s deck.

After this, Bui took hold of his two chests of gold, one in each hand and he jumped overboard after Thorkel with both chests, and did not come up again.  Some of his men said that when Bui got up on the topstrake and was about to leap overboard, he said, “Overboard, all Bui’s men who wish to guard this gold,” but, again, nobody understood him, and then he stepped off the strake.

By then, Sigvald had withdrawn his fleet, and he didn’t know that Bui had gone overboard, and he called for Vagn and Bui to flee with him, but Vagn answered him and sang a verse:

Sigvaldi has led                    ourselves into danger,

but faint-hearted,                 has fled home to Denmark.

He intends to embrace        soon his girlfriend,

but beyond the topstrake,   Bui has lept with courage.”

It was said that Sigvald had become cold and left the steering board in the hands of another to warm himself by rowing with his men.  And when Vagn had recited the verse and he saw Sigvald’s ship leaving, he threw a spear at him on the steering board, thinking he was still standing at the helm, but Sigvald was at the oars, and the man who steered received the consignment.  When Sigvald’s fleet was back in the range of the trebuchets he received another consignment of tonstones and another dozen ships broke up before they got away.

Thorkell ‘the Tall’, Sigvald’s brother, went away with him and had six ships, and so did Sigurd Kapa after Bui, his brother, had gone off overboard, and it seemed as if both of them had fulfilled their vows, Thorkell and Sigurd, and they all now sailed until they’d come home to Denmark, and had taken away with them four and twenty ships.  All that was left of the Jomsvik ships that remained in Hjorungavagr Bay rallied around Vagn’s longship, and there they all defended themselves until darkness fell.  But when it got too dark to still fight, the battle broke up and many men still stood upon Vagn’s ship, and Jarl Haakon had little time to search the abandoned ships, so, they just removed all the oars and kept a watch over them for the night, and when this was done, Jarl Haakon and his men rowed ashore, and pitched tents and made campfires and now drank to victory toasts.  Einar ‘Skalaglamm’ made many a verse and used his new scales to weigh the hailstones sent by the sisters, Thorgerder and Irpa, and it was considered good.  It is said that a hailstone weighed a penny, and, as they weighed, the scale pans tinkled.

And while this was going on, the wounds of the injured men were bound up by the Valkyries of Prince Valdamar’s fleet, and they stayed up all night, Jarl Haakon himself and Gudbrand of the Dales.

Prince Sweyn took Hallveig and Emma and eleven children into the Captain’s cabin of his dromon shieldship and the healers gave the young ones potions that would make them sleep and they tucked them into the beds of the cabin.  Hallveig was still naked and covered in blood so, Sweyn covered her with a blanket and Emma scrubbed the blood off of her body.  “She’s so young,” Sweyn said to Emma as Hallveig fell asleep in a captain’s chair in her blanket.

“She’ll remain young like that for a long time,” Emma said.

“How long?” Sweyn asked.

“That is entirely up to Thorgerder Helgibruder,” Emma answered.  “She’s gone now, but she will likely keep Hallveig young for a long time because of the sacrifice she has made.  She had to sacrifice her son, you know.”

“I thought it was Haakon’s son who was sacrificed.”

“It was,” Emma said.  “It was Haakon’s son by her.  You’ve lived in Lade long enough to know that our Jarl Haakon is a rapist.”

“I know,” Sweyn admitted.  “I had to help him with some of his rapes.  I didn’t want to, but I had to.”

“Hard or soft?” Emma asked, and Sweyn realized that Emma knew Haakon’s methods.

“Both,” Sweyn confessed.

“I’m sorry he put you through that.  When he raped Hallveig, he made me watch.”

“But Hallveig wanted me because she was a virgin and didn’t want to die that way,” Sweyn said, expectantly.

“Many women who are taken by force don’t consider it sex as much as assault.  Hallveig was saving what was left of her virginity for a man she loved and respected and that man was you, Sweyn.”

“But she was a virgin,” Sweyn protested.  “I’ve had virgins before.  I know that I pierced her flower.”

“She’s a healer, Sweyn.  She knows how to fake it.  She’s helped many young women on their wedding nights prove themselves to their new husbands,” and she laughed a bit in embarrassment.  “Don’t be angry with her.  She loves you, as do I.”

“I’m not.  I love you too.”  The children were asleep and Hallveig was curled up in her chair snoring softly so, Sweyn gathered up some furs and he made love to Emma on the cabin floor and they curled up together and enjoyed the warmth of each other’s bodies.  Just as Sweyn was drifting off, he saw Hallveig getting up in her hard new body and he wondered if she was a virgin once more as she stepped out of the cabin.

Emma mumbled, “Who is it?”  And Sweyn answered, “Hallveig just stepped out to relieve herself,” and they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

In the darkness and cold of the night, Vagn and Bjorn ‘the Welshman’ discussed with their men what they should do – “There are two courses we could take,” said Vagn, “one, to stay here with the ships until daylight and let them kill or take us, and the other, to leave here and make our way to the forest and try to survive until we can steal a properly equipped ship.”

They all decided that they should take the sail mast and yardarm and float with it across the bay to escape in the darkness.  There were eighty men left and together they swam with the mast in the darkness and moved onto the mainland and hid in some trees.  It was said that when Sigvald had fled, all the thunder and lightning took off after him and that the weather became calm and cold.  And so it was at night when Vagn and his men were in hiding until daybreak  They were wet and freezing and many were wounded, and there were ten men laid to rest in the night, and threescore and ten who survived.  When they woke up in the morning, they realized that they had fled to a small island instead of the mainland.

The next dawn, the Jarl’s men were still tending their wounds, and had been all night since they had set up camp, and, as a result of their wounds many of the men had died.  As they were erecting a howe on the shore, they heard the twang of a bowstring coming from a ship and an arrow flew up out of the darkness and struck Jarl Gudbrand, Haakon’s uncle, and he fell dead.  Jarl Haakon ordered his men away from the shore until a search of all the ships could be conducted.  All of the men thought this to be of the greatest harm, and wanted to search right away, but Jarl Haakon ordered his men to wait until there was more light and then they would search all the ships and surrounding islands for survivors because he felt that nobody would be safe until all the wounded Jomsvikings were dealt with.

One man stood by his tent doors, and when Jarl Eirik went into the tent, he asked: “Why are you standing here?”  Then he asked, “Are you wounded, Thorleif?”

“I did not remember,” he answered, “that Vagn Akason’s bloodsnake came to me yesterday when I struck his helm with my blackened club.”

The jarl found the wound, then said, “Your father would be ill if you were to die now.”

And when Einar Skalaglamm heard the earl speak, he said:

The wounder of gold           searched frantically.

for the hidden marks           of the wound fire.

and the earl did say             to the man of sea horses,

‘Your father will suffer         if you die,’ we think.”

And then Thorleif Skuma fell down dead.

And when it was clear in the morning, the Jarl and his men went to inspect the ships and came to the ship which Bui had owned, and they found there Havard, who had been Bui’s right hand, but he was injured in that both his legs were cut off below his knees.  Prince Sweyn and Thorkell Leira went there to him and Havard asked, “How is it, lads?” and he added, “Did any consignment come from a ship last night to land there, or on someone?”

“On someone,” they answered.

“Who did my arrow kill?” Havard asked, smiling weakly.  When they told him, he said, “My luck was close then, for it was meant for the Jarl himself,” and Thorkell Leira killed him.

As they carried on inspecting the ship’s they found Hallveig Irpa sleeping amongst the furs of a Jomsviking ship with five young Jomsborg warriors and Prince Sweyn woke her and said, “We were wondering where you had got off to, Hallveig.  Are these men your captives?”

“Yes,” she answered, as she got up and stood before Sweyn, young and naked as she had become the day before.  “Thorgerder Helgibruder had me spare them yesterday, and she gave them to me after they had all sworn oaths to serve me if I didn’t kill them.”

Sweyn took up a fur off the deck of the ship and wrapped it around the healer.  “You’re no longer covered in blood,” he told her.

“I had my young men bathe me last night after I awakened them, and then we focked all night.”  Sweyn looked at the five warriors still asleep in the furs and he could see that they were all naked underneath them.  “I worked them hard last night,” she told Sweyn, “I had such a battle lust worked up.”

“Can you bring them down to Jarl Haakon’s camp when you’re done with them?” Sweyn asked.  “We’re gathering up prisoners for the Jarl’s judgement on them.”

“They’re mine!” Hallveig said.  “I’ll bring them to camp, but Thorgerder blessed me with them!”

During the search of the surrounding islands, they saw where a group of men were hiding in a copse of trees and the Jarl’s men went on one ship and rowed out to the skerry, and they gathered up the men and they were all brought ashore to meet the Jarl, and they were seventy men.  Vagn and his companions had their hands tied behind their backs and were tied to each other with one rope and not in a stern manner.  The jarl and his men broke out supplies and some began to make breakfast.  But before they sat down to eat, the ships of the Jomsvikings were brought ashore and stripped of goods, and the gold was distributed amongst the men, except for the gold that Bui had taken with him, and Jarl Haakon and his men divided up their weapons, and they now boasted to have won a great victory.

Then the Norwegians ate breakfast and when they were full, they went out of the camp to the captives.  Thorkell Leira was to be executioner of the Jomsvikings.  Thorkell had previously spoken to the Jomsvikings and had asked them if they were as courageous as all that was said about them.  But the warriors of Jomsborg did not answer him.

First, some warriors who are very wounded were released from the rope.  Skofta Karkson and some other slaves had guarded them on the rope and now that the men had been freed, the slaves twisted sticks into the hair of the Jomsvikings so their heads could be more easily handled afterwards, and three wounded men were led out first by their handles, and Thorkell then went to them and made them kneel and the slaves held their heads steady by the sticks and he cut off the head of each of them with his sword, and then spoke to his comrades and asked them if he looked somewhat changed by this deed “for it is a saying among men,” he said,” that all men change colour after beheading three men one after the other.”

But Jarl Haakon answered him, “We do not see you changed by this, but still it seems to me that you may have.”

Now a fourth man was let off of the rope, and a stick was twisted into his hair, and he was led to the place where Thorkell was doing the cutting.  This man was very injured and when he came forward, Thorkell spoke to him and asked him what he thought of dying.  “I am fine with death,” he answered.  “It will happen to me like it happened to my father.”

“Your father was beheaded too?” Thorkell asked.

“No, my father died and was fine with it and I am too, so strike your…”

Thorkell quickly cut off the man’s reply and head, and so ended his life.

Now the fifth man was released from the rope and led there with a stick in his hair and Thorkell Leira said, “And how are you going to die?”

He answered, “Without fear, for I do not forget the laws of the Jomsvikings and I am not allowed to show fear of death or speak words of fear, for all men shall each someday die.”

And Thorkell struck off his head.

And now Jarl Haakon and Thorkell determined to ask each of them before they were beheaded, which way they were going to die, and then to see whether they were as brave as what was said of them.  If none of them showed fear of death, then the Jomsvikings would be considered truly fearless.  But secondly, Thorkill Leira enjoyed hearing their words, no matter what.

Now the sixth man was taken from the rope and a stick was twisted in his hair and he was led out and Thorkell asked how well he intended to die.  “I want to die,” he said, “with a good reputation intact; but your reputation left you when you changed colour, for you are ashamed of your life and will live in shame and misery until, like me, you die!”

Thorkill had no more words for this man, and quickly cut off his head.

Then a seventh man was led to be beheaded and Thorkell asked him how well he intended to die.  “I think very well,” said he, “and I think it would do well to perform a test as I die.  I have here a dagger,” he said, pulling it out from his sleeve and he stepped in so close to Thorkill that he could have stabbed him before Thorkill could raise his sword and then he stepped back out of striking range and he said, “I shall hold it level and try with all my might not to let it fall when my head does and if I hold it level for even a second then my body shall have followed its training, but if it falls right away, then you shall know only the mind is trained.”

Skofta Karkson stepped forward to hold the head of this one still, for he had often wondered about such things.

And now Thorkell struck so that at once the head fell off the torso, but the knife immediately fell to the ground and they knew now, for sure, that only the mind could be trained.

Then an eighth man was led out, and Thorkell asked the same.

“I think I shall die well, but” he said, and then he knelt down to receive his blow and when he thought it was almost upon him, he shouted, “Ram!”

Thorkell stopped the blow and asked why he would shout such a thing.

“Because,” he said, “in death I will be a ram and I’ll give it to those two ewes, those witch bitches, you called upon yesterday to fight your battle for you, and I’ll fock them both to undeath!”

“Mother focker!” said Thorkell, “Such a speaker!” and he struck off his head at once.

Now a ninth man was freed from the rope, and Thorkell asked, “What is true, comrade,” he said.  “How good do you think you are going to die?”

“I intend to die well like all my comrades, those who here now lay dead.  But I wish that you would grant me that I was not thus led to be struck like a sheep, but that I would kneel before your sword, facing it, and that you would walk in front of me and strike me in the face, and watch carefully whether I blink or not, because we have often talked, we Jomsvikings, whether a man would react if the blow was in his face.”

Thorkell did as he asked.  He knelt upwards in front, as Thorkell struck the front of his face and he did not see him blink, except when the blade moved into his eyes and lopped off the top of his skull.  A slave picked the top up by the stick, but the scalp pulled away and the brain fell out freely and the blood red skull rolled into the grass and sat up like a dish.  “That would make a fine cup for a Bulgarian prince,” Sweyn said after it came to a stop.

“Perhaps that was what was on his mind?” Jarl Haakon said.

“It is only a Bulgarian thing,” Jarl Eirik replied.

And after this a tenth man was freed from the rope and led to the killing floor, and Thorkell asked the same thing again.

“I think I shall die very well,” he said; “but I wish you would let me relieve myself before you cut my head off, so I don’t go off in my pants as I die.”

“It shall be as you wish,” Thorkell said, thinking he wanted to piss, but he unbuttoned his pants and pulled out a huge member and he began stroking it in front of the Jarl.  The member was so large and hard that the jarls could only stand and watch.  Haakon stepped to one side as the thing went off and shot out into the grass.  When he finished with it, he said, “Things do not always go off as planned, for I had intended that this companion of mine should go off inside Thora Skagadottir, the jarl’s wife, and that she should share her bed with me,” and he shook the thing off as he said this, and then stuffed it back into his trousers.

So, Jarl Hakon said, “Cut off his heads as quickly as possible,” and he added, “for you behold here a man who has long had evil in mind, and has now done it to himself.”

Thorkell was amused by this so, he ignored the Jarl and cut off only one of the man’s heads, and so ended his life.

Still, the princes and jarls marvelled at the courage of a man who could stroke himself off just before being beheaded.  Their little experiment was proving the Jomsvikings to be braver than anyone had expected.

Next, a man was let off of the rope and led forth.  He was a handsome young man and had a beautiful head of hair, so that it lay on his shoulders and was as yellow as silk.  Thorkell asked him how he thought he would die.  “Although I have lived the most beautiful of lives,” the young man said, “and they have now just so recently died, that I do not think it worthwhile to live any longer, and yet have no real choice in the matter.  But still I wish that you grant me that slaves will not lead me to be beheaded, and I wish that someone who is of as high and fine a rank as you would lead me out, and yet I think that you will have no trouble in finding such a man among you,” and he tossed his hair back and it flowed forth over his shoulders almost sensuously.  “It is another thing that I am so accustomed to my hair that I want that man to keep my hair out of the blood while I am being beheaded, and to quickly pull my head free of my body, so that my hair does not become all bloody.”

A retainer stepped forward, a minor jarl, to lead him out, and it was not considered necessary to turn a stick in his hair, as it was so long, and the young jarl took the fine blonde hair and wrapped it in his hands, and then held both hands for his handsome young head to receive the blow, and Thorkell Leira raised his sword and intended to cut hard and fast so there’d be no pain, and he struck down, but the young man, when he heard the whoosh of the blow start, quickly pulled his head back hard and it took the retainer’s hands under the blow, and Thorkell struck both arms off at the elbows.  Then the blonde haired handsome man sprang up and made a joke and said, “Who is this boy with hands in my hair?” and the two arms hung down as the hands locked up upon his locks.

Jarl Haakon then spoke, and said, “Great storms are happening now, and too many of these men are yet left in the line, and we should go as fast as we can and kill them.  They have had great mirth at our expense.  Death is but a joke to them and they face it far more bravely than any normal man should.”

Jarl Eirik was still watching the young Jomsviking as he spoke and answered his father, “Do we not want to know, father, who the men are, before they are all killed?  What is your name, young man?” Eirik asked and both Sweyn and Haakon knew his interest.

“My name is Sveinn,” the young Jomsvik said.

“Whose son are you, Sveinn,” asked Eirik, “and what is your gender?”

“My father’s name was Bui Digri,” he said, “and he was Veseta’s son from Borgundarholm, and I am a Dane by birth.”

“How old are you?” Eirik asked as his interest grew.

“If I pass this winter,” he said, “then I will be eighteen years old.”

“So, you must pass the winter,” said Eirik, “and if you accept my rule and become my man, you will not be killed.”

Sweyn also added, “If he is under eighteen, he is too young to be slain.  My Valdamar is just turning eighteen himself.”  Prince Valdamar stepped forward and vouched for his father’s words.

And Eirik now took him aside in peace and let him join in his company of men.

And when Jarl Haakon saw this, he spoke, and said, “I do not know how you can accept this young man into your company, who has so much shame and contempt for us as this one, a man whom we have suffered the most from.  But yet I can see that I will not keep the young man out of your hands so, your will shall be followed here.”

So, it went as Jarl Eirik wanted.

And now Jarl Hakon said to Thorkell Leira: “Hit the men hard again.  We must get this done more quickly.”

Eirik then added, “The men will not be beheaded until I have spoken to them before, and I want to know who is being killed and I want Einar to keep a record of this.”

Einar stepped forward and said, “Oh, I have been, my prince.  The battle gave me much to compose, but this stuff is gold!”

Then another man was loosened from the rope and the free end of the rope was getting long enough to twist around his foot.  The man was tall and handsome and young in age and seemed most diligent.  Thorkell asked him how he intended to die.

“I think well of it,” he said, “if I take care of one last vow before my end.”

Jarl Eirik said, “What is your name? And what is your vow that you wish to take care of before you lay down your life?”

He answered: “My name is Vagn, and I am the son of Aki Palnatokason of Fyn.  That is what I’ve been told, at any rate.”

“What vow did you make, Vagn,” Eirik asked, “that you say would allow you to die in peace?”

“I had a vision and I swore,” said Vagn, “that I would go to the bed of Ingibjorg, daughter of Thorkell Leira, without the permission of him or her kinsmen, if I came to Norway, and I now feel very much lacking in my cause if I shall not do so come before I die.”

“I will make it so,” said Thorkell angrily, “that you shall not come to into heat with any of my kin,” and Thorkell ran at him and struck at him with both hands on his sword, but Bjorn ‘the Welshman’, foster-father of Vagn, though still bound in the line, tugged on the rope about Vagn’s foot and knocked him down and Thorkell’s blow went over him and Thorkell tripped over him and landed on his own sword and it cut him badly.  Vagn did not lie down long, and sprang to his feet and at once took the sword which Thorkell had and struck Thorkell Leira’s head off.

Then Vagn said, “Now I have fulfilled my second vow, and I now believe in the vision more strongly than before.”

Jarl Haakon said, “Do not let him play free for long, and kill him as soon as possible, for he has done us great harm.”

“He shall not be killed sooner than I myself,” said Eirik, “and I will accept Vagn into my company as well.”

Jarl Haakon said, “We need to kill these men as quickly as possible.  This has gotten out of control!”

Einar ‘Skallaglamm’ stepped forward and said, “This is bringing you much fame!  Gold couldn’t buy you the fame that this execution is garnering!”

“It’s a good thing to enlist a man such as Vagn, father,” said Eirik, “and it seems to me well earned, though we take Vagn in the respect and ambition which Thorkell Leira has had, and replace him.  Thorkell had hoped to stop Vagn’s vision and look what it got him.  It comes down to what is often said, ‘that prophecy can be wise,’ but you have already accepted it today.”

Sweyn stepped in this time and asked Vagn his age.  The young Jomsviking said he would be eighteen in a month and Sweyn said, “He’s too young to be slain.”

And then Vagn said, “I like it best to accept peace from you, Jarl Eirik,” then added, “but if I am to be spared, all those who are left must be given peace as well, should they wish to serve you.”

Eirik answered: “I will want to have a word with these comrades of yours, before I allow what you ask.”

Eirik went to where Bjorn ‘the Welshman’ was tied in the line, and asked who he was; he answered that his name was Bjorn.  Jarl Eirik stepped back and said, “Are you Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ who is best known for heroically saving your companion from King Harald’s highseat hall?”

“I do not know,” says Bjorn, “that it was heroic, but still I came out of his hall with the man alive.”

“What reason brought you here to us,” asked Eirik, “an old man with white balding hair like some seagull?  What drove you to this journey?  Was it because all the kings want us lowly Norwegian jarls gone from here, sending those who’ve not yet come of age to those almost upon old age to fight with us?  Will you want to accept life from me, “said Eirik, “if I can get it for you?  Because I do not think you are a killer, an old man such as you?”

Bjorn answered, “Don’t discount my capacity to kill.  Many men died in that Danish hall before I got our man out.  Vagn only allows me to follow him because of it.  But I wish to accept life from you, Eirik,” he continued, “if you free my foster-son, Vagn, and all our men who are left.”

Eirik said, “It shall be granted to you and to all,” he says, “if I can get it.”

Jarl Eirik went before his father and begged him that they all have peace, the Jomsvikings who were left; Prince Sweyn, Prince Valdamar and Einar ‘Skallaglamm’ joined in and the Jarl gave in to all of them.

And the Jomsvikings were all redeemed, and they were assured and given peace.  And it was ordered by Jarl Haakon and Eirik that Bjorn ‘the Brexit’ should go to the estate of the one who had conjured up the spirits, Hallveig, the old woman who was now young.  It was also ordered that five more young Jomsvikings go to that same hall of Hallveig Irpa, the goddess who had turned the tide of battle.  Hallveig Irpa took the men back to her ship and once more accepted their surrenders.

Jarl Eirik took Sveinn Buison and Vagn Akason to his ship, the Iron Beard, and he accepted their surrenders under the awnings.  The rest of the Jomsvikings were bent over their shields right there on the killing field and the few that did not offer up their surrenders were raped or killed by Jarl Haakon depending on how he felt about them.  There were no captives of a rank suitable for princes to ransom so, Sweyn returned to his shieldship and had Emma again and Valdamar went back to his ship and focked each of the three wives he had smuggled under his forecastle.

Vagn Akason went east to the Vik on the advice of Jarl Eirik, and Eirik told Vagn, before they parted, that he should propose marriage to Ingibjorg Thorkellsdottir as he had foreseen.  And when Vagn went east to the Vik, he went to bed with Ingibjorg without asking her kin, and Vagn stayed there over the winter.

But in the following spring, Vagn took his new wife and son they had named Eirik, and they all went to Denmark, home to Fyn and his estates there, and they lived together for the rest of their lives and many great and famous offspring were sprung from Vagn and Ingibjorg.

After Hallveig freed him in Lade, Bjorn ‘the Welshman’ went home to Britain and ruled there while he lived, and was considered to be a great leader.

Now it was said of Sigvald, that when he fled from the battle, he did not stop until he made it all the way home to Denmark, and that Astrid, his wife, was there and she prepared a feast for him.  They told all there the stories of the battle and of the whole journey together, since the Jomsvikings were mostly from Denmark, and it was a great pleasure for all to hear what they told of those tidings.  And after that, Astrid had a fine bath drawn for Sigvald and she joined him in the bath and she scrubbed his body and asked him about each particular wound.  She then dove under the water and searched for more wounds, but found only his steed and she stroked it and she came above the water and she rode it.  “Don’t ever go back to Norway,” she said, after she’d pleasured him.  “The wound I found under water,” said Astrid, “will be in constant need of care and polishing,” and she began stroking his steed again, “and should be kept as far away from Norway as possible.”

Then Sigvald told her, “Henceforth I keep clear of Norway and shall only talk of the battle we Jomsvikings fought there.”

Sigvald added, “It might be such in my life that my greatest defeat ends up being boasted of as being tinged with victory, and I think that you’ll like it better as time wears on.”

Sigvald ruled over his estates in Zealand for a long time, and was considered the wisest man, and his fame was not solely there, for great tidings of him are told of in other sagas.

But Jarl Hakon ruled Norway for a short time afterwards, and was thought to be the best of all jarls, and so were his sons.

It was not told of what Sveinn Buison, the handsome blonde young man, ended up doing, whether he was with Eirik, or did something different, but it is possible they became discreet lovers and he shared Eirik with his many wives.

Sigurdur Kapa, Bui’s brother, went to Denmark and took over his paternal estate after Veseti in Borgundarholm and lived there for a long time, and was considered to be the best of men with his wife Tofa, and their intercourse was always good and many great offspring came of it.

Thorkell ‘the Tall’, the noble brother of Sigvald, was considered the wisest man, and later proved himself in many ways.  He later served with Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ in Angleland.

Skjaldmeyjar-Einar, who Haakon called Einar ‘Skallaglamm’, went to Iceland and wrote of the Jomsvikings, but he drowned in Breidafjord, that is now called Skaleyjar or Scales Island, because there the scales drifted ashore, the ones that the Jarl gave him.

Thordur ‘Arrow-hand’ went home to Dyrafjord to his father Thorkel in Alvidra, and it was said that Thorleif Skuma and Thordur ‘Arrow-hand’ were brothers, and Thordur lived in Alvidra after his father, and many offspring from him had come to Fjordur west, and Einar wrote most clearly about these tidings out of Iceland.

It has been said since, that Bui Digri became a dragon in Hjorungavagr Fjord and guarded his two chests of gold; but it may have been that the dragon was seen there at Hjorungavagr, or it may be that the evil spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder took rest upon the gold and appeared there occasionally afterwards.  But we cannot say whether it is the one or the other.  It may not be true at all, because many things that happened back then, cannot be seen today.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

15.0  THE FALL OF KING HARALD ‘BLUETOOTH’  (Circa 986 AD)

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15.     “A full year thus         we fared among men;

                   Our name was known         among noble heroes.

                        Through linden shields       sharp spears we hurled,

                        drew blood from wounds,   and blades reddened.

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(986 AD)  Prince Valdamar was leading the Hraes’ mobile legions back to Trondheim Fjord following the Battle of Hjorungavagr and he watched his father at the forestem of his shieldship holding hands with the Valkyrie Emma and they were surrounded by the chantreusse children of Witch Hallveig, but there was no sign of the witch above deck.  The young prince suspected she was below deck with her five Viking captives and then he thought, ‘that’s where I should be’ and he went blow the forecastle deck and joined the three new Norse wives he had smuggled below deck when they’d left to fight the Jomsvikings.  He had taken a bit of rocket arrow flack for that, but that was no reason to squander opportunity, so he went down there and went down on his young new wives.  He was working them hard down there and soon they were back in the Trondelag.

Sigvald and the Jomsvikings who fled with him were very lucky going south down the coast of Norway, for there was a great Hraes’ fleet that went up the coast a few days later.  Sweyn and Alfled went out onto their quay in front of their longhall and watched the Hraes’ fleet sail into Trondheim Fjord.  Three hundred and seventy Hraes’ transport warships entered the harbour before the cities of Trondheim and Lade and Sweyn watched as Valdamar ran down the quay, buttoning up his pants as he went.

“I think this is your fleet,” Sweyn said, as his son came up to them.  “I hope they aren’t cutting in on your focking time.”

“My other wives missed me while I was in Hjorungavagr,” Valdamar said, nodding to Alfled.  “I sent a message off to your grandfather when I rushed here to warn you about the Jomsvikings.  I told him to send two of your mobile legions to Norway via the Mediterranean because I didn’t want them sailing past Denmark and warning King Harald.”

“Jarl Haakon’s going to be shitting himself,” Sweyn warned Valdamar.

“He’ll know they’re Hraes’!” Valdamar said, pointing at the red and black raven banners flying from the masts.  “He knows he’s not under attack!”

“He’ll be shitting himself about feeding them!” and the princes both laughed.

“It’s only a few thousand men,” Alfled said.  “I’ll whip them up something in the scullery!”

“With the regiment I brought, it’s two full Hraes’ legions,” Valdamar explained.  “That’s twenty thousand men!”

“To the Romans or the Caliphate, it is but an expeditionary force,” Sweyn explained to his Norse wife, “but here, in the north, it’s one big mother-focking army!”

Soon they saw horses coming from Jarl Haakon’s longhall.  It was the Jarl and Eirik and Aud and they reached the quay just as Sweyn and his group got back to shore.  Aud leapt from her horse and rushed up to Sweyn and hugged him and then Alfled.

“How am I going to feed all these men?” Haakon shouted down from his horse.

“You’re not,” Sweyn told him.  “The king of Denmark shall!”

“I don’t think King Harald’s going to feed…” and then he stopped.  “When are we going?” he asked.

“Can we feed them for a few days while they rest?” Sweyn asked.  “They’ve come a long way.”

“We can feed them as long as you wish, King Sweyn,” Jarl Haakon said, in complete respect.

When Alfled and Aud and Eirik heard Haakon address Sweyn in such respectful terms, they realized that their victory at the Battle of Hjorungavagr had stood for winning much more than just a battle.  It stood for their winning a war.  They spent the rest of the day unloading horses from ships and beaching ships and blocking and levelling ships so the crews could live under their awnings.  Great quantities of food were prepared for the troops and massive amounts of fodder were gathered for the horse.  By the end of the day there were beached ships and kite shield corrals set up from Buvika and Borsa to Hell and back.  A great feast was thrown for all the Hraes’ officers of the fleet in the highseat hall of Jarl Haakon and copious quantities of beef and ale were delivered to each and every transport warship and support ship of the Hraes’ fleet.  By the end of the day Prince Valdamar retired a very tired prince.

“King Sweyn, Haakon called your father,” Katla told him in bed, “and I heard he was dead serious when he said it.”

“He didn’t want it to come to this,” Valdy said, caressing the young woman, “but we went to great expense bringing the legions here so, we have to use them.”  Valdamar rolled off of Katla and onto Princess Dagmar and she gasped as he entered her.  He had still been very wet from Katla, but it was the size of the ‘Pink Monster’ that had taken her breath away.  She still could not believe the size of the thing.

“Listen to them downstairs,” Alfled said.  “Is that Katla moaning in orgasm?  She has such a sweet sound.”

“I think it’s Dagmar,” Sweyn told her.  “She has that little gasp at the end.”

“I think it’s one of those Polish girls,” Aud said, as she came up from under the sheets. 

The next day, the troops had light duty and most of them used the day to repair their armour and their saddles and bridles.  They knew the next few days were going to consist of naval and military drills and likely a few tattoos for the locals.  Battle plans were reviewed and Hraes’ merchant ships arrived from Tonsberg in the Vik and from Denmark itself.  Nobody knew they were there.  The Hraes’ fleet of hundreds of ships had been spotted by no one.  The training exercises were kept within the fjord itself so that word did not get out.

While the training progressed, Jarl Eirik set out with Sveinn Buison and a fleet of fine Norwegian warships for Jomsborg.  They took chests of gold with them to pay the Jomsvikings to stay in Jomsborg and to lock their gates and not get involved in the upcoming royal struggle.  Eirik met with some of their leaders aboard his shieldship and he explained Prince Sweyn’s legal right to the throne that Prince Harald had ignored when he took up the crown from his father Gorm.  Surviving brothers of the dead king had legal priority over sons and that was both Norse and Aesir succession law, political as well as religious law.  Gorm ‘the Old’ Ivarson had been Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson’s older brother so, when he died, regardless of Svein’s living in Kiev, or even Baghdad for that matter, Svein should have had first right of refusal of the throne and that right had not been offered him.  The interim leaders of Jomsborg knew Eirik, and had already heard of his great efforts in saving the lives of Jomsviking captives, some of whom were aboard Eirik’s ships and even captained some of them.  The famous skald, Eyvinder Skaldspiller, was not the only skald taking up quill and whalebone to write about the executions and sparings.  Eyvinder had been terse when he described the event as being ‘worth its weight in gold’.  So, the Jomsvikings took the gold and assured Eirik of their neutrality in this matter of succession.

Eirik and his fleet had snuck through the sound, between Denmark and Skane undetected, but it wasn’t necessary for them to try to sneak back, it wasn’t worth the risk, so, he hunkered down with his fleet on the Island of Bornholm and only Captain Vagn Akason went back to the Vik, outside Tonsberg, and Vagn went to the Hraes’ store and warehouse in the city and he proposed to Ingibjorg, the daughter of Thorkill Leira, and when she said yes, he took her there in the warehouse in a massive pile of sable pelts.  Vagn took her without asking her relatives and Vagn took her without telling her that he had killed her father, but they were in love and he wanted her and he thought it best to spare her the details.

While training progressed, Prince Valdamar took his wives around Trondheim Fjord in his dromon shieldship and he visited with the relatives of his new Norse wives and the Norwegian families met his other new Norse wives and his Polish wives that had been with him in his Cherven towns when he had first heard of the Danish attack plans against the Nor’Way.  Most of the Viking women had never met Poles before and they were amazed at how beautiful they were, these young Polish wives of their new son-in-law.  They were also amazed at how splendidly they were dressed and how regally they acted.  Then they noticed that their own daughters were not only now wearing the finest clothes available in Lade, but were obviously wearing items borrowed from their Polish sisters.  Everything about the Grand Prince of Kiev was refined and royal, his ships, his troops, his knights in shining armour on equally armoured horse, the red and black Raven banners everywhere.  But they were most impressed with the gold he passed out to them so generously.  It was as if they were in Rome, in the Constantinople that their menfolk who were traders described in such vivid detail.

After a week of training, Princes Sweyn and Valdamar, and Jarls Haakon and Eirik led a combined Hraes’ Norwegian fleet out of Trondheim Fjord and south down the coast of Norway.  As their vast armada approached Denmark, King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson led a fleet of one hundred and twenty Danish warships out of Roskilde harbour and across the Kattegat to meet them.  When the king saw the size of the princely fleet, he fled with his ships through the Sound and sailed for help to Jomsborg.  Sweyn sent Jarl Haakon and Prince Valdamar to give them chase with half the fleet and he took the other half towards Roskilde Harbour bound for Harald’s palace there.  Jarl Eirik’s fleet soon joined in the chase from Bornholm and the Norse Hraes’ fleet chased the Danish warships east across the north coast of Jom Island.  Both Valdamar and Eirik were following Haakon’s fleet and they realized that the Harbour of Jomsborg would be closed off to the Danish fleet, so they broke away from Haakon’s fleet and went back west and then south to keep Harald ‘Bluetooth’ from circling south west around the island and escaping back across The Sound to Liere or to York.

When King Harald saw the Hraes’ Norse fleet coming south at him along the west coast of Jom, his whole fleet of warships ducked into a long narrow fjord to escape a sea battle.  He had learned from the Jomsvikings that the huge Roman dromons of the Hraes’ were very difficult to attack, being well out of the water with sides that were hard to scale.  And the dromons and transport ships all had gravity trebuchets that could tear apart longships.  So they sat with their biggest warships at the mouth of the fjord to ward off attack.  Prince Valdamar left his Roman dromons and legion transports anchored just outside the fjord and the prince and the jarls sailed for Roskilde to tell Sweyn that they had the Danish fleet contained, trapped.

A great victory feast was already being set up in the Palace of Roskilde and Prince Valdamar and Jarls Haakon and Eirik arrived from their chase just before the feasting began.  King Sweyn sat on the first highseat, Jarl Haakon on the second and Eirik and Valdamar shared the third.  Danish princes and jarls vied for spots on the guest highseats and King Sweyn waved the royals off and on the six guest highseat spots until he was comfortable with the arrangement.  They feasted and celebrated late into the evening and Sweyn retired early to give his new brides a chance to visit him and Valdamar went out aboard his dromon shieldship and shared the sumptuous forecastle suite with his six wives.

While King Sweyn was busy lining out his new Danish royal wives, Roskilde was being pillaged a bit in the Roman fashion, but in a very reserved manner, for Sweyn was the new ruler there.  Prince Valdamar kept himself out of trouble by sailing around the Danish islands with his Hraes’ dromon and warships, sampling Danish Princesses from Zealand, Fyn, and Jutland.  He married a princess from each of the three Danish provinces and took them back to Roskilde and set all his wives up in his own wing of the palace.  And the prince and his three new wives and six shades of less new wives seldom ventured out from their wing of the great hall.  When they all finally came out, Prince Valdamar introduced the newest of them to King Sweyn, saying, “This is Princess Sigrun of Zealand, Princess Freja of Fyn and Princess Jorun of Jutland.”  And the queens all marvelled at the youth and beauty of the Danish royals and told Valdamar they were happy that he was so accepting of the local princesses.

When the Hraes’ merchant ships began arriving in Roskilde harbour for the spring trading cycle, Prince Valdamar was left in charge to organize them and King Sweyn and Jarls Haakon and Eirik took the fleets back to Jom to deal with King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ and his trapped fleet.  Valdamar took this opportunity and went through all the slaveships inspecting and testing captive princesses from Angleland, Ireland, Britany and Frisia and he bought a princess from each of those kingdoms.

Word spread in Roskilde and beyond that Jarl Haakon and his fleet had trapped King Harald’s war fleet up a fjord on the other side of the Island of Jom from the city and fortress of Jomsborg and the news also arrived at the estate of Sigvald in southern Zealand and he put together a Danish Jomsviking fleet of veterans to go to the aid of Jomsborg and they sailed to Wendland as soon as they’d heard.  Sigvald and his fleet arrived at the Island of Jom in the evening and they saw the great fleet of Jarl Haakon anchored just outside a fjord and he could see that there were a great number of ships hemmed in the fjord so, he knew it must be the warships of King Harald.  He sailed north out of sight of the Norwegian fleet and then southeast until he came upon land, a ridge he knew beyond which the fjord sat.  His fleet anchored off the coast while Sigvald and a small scout party headed inland towards King Harald’s fleet and when they were almost upon the fjord Sigvald signalled for his men to stop and he advanced alone upon a clearing and he saw a small camp of soldiers and they were cooking food around a campfire and then Sigvald saw King Harald standing in the distance drinking out of an ale horn.

Sigvald signalled for his men to keep back out of sight and he advanced alone and knelt down at the edge of the clearing and took his bow and put an arrow to the string.  He licked a finger and tested the wind and he then took his shot.  The arrow arced upwards and across the clearing and came down between King Harald’s shoulder blades and the Danish royal pitched forward and died facedown on the ground before the campfire.  Sigvald returned to his men and he led them back to their ships.  “I don’t think we can help King Harald here,” Sigvald said to his men and he told them they would go to Jomsborg and see if their comrades there needed any help.

When King Sweyn and his jarls arrived with half of the Hraes’ fleet, they joined up with the Hraes’ and Norwegian fleet that had been holding the fjord and they slept on their ships and prepared for battle the next morning.  As they formed up their numerous ships, a small warship sailed out from the Danish fleet with a white shield hanging from the top of its mast.  “The Danish naval officers approached and told King Sweyn and Jarl’s Haakon and Eirik that King Harald was dead and that the Danish forces were ready to swear allegiance to their new king.  King Sweyn accepted their oaths and he and the jarls went to see the body of Harald and hear the story of his death.  Harald was lying dead upon a camp cot and the arrow had been removed from his back and was now lying across his chest.  Sweyn had Harald stripped of his armour and he kept it along with the gilt arrow and he had them put into the forecastle cabin of his dromon shieldship and then he took a black leather bag out of one of his sea chests.  He wanted to find out who had murdered his nephew and he had seen the markings of that arrow before, in Hjorungavagr, and he thought it might be Jomsviking markings.

King Sweyn had Harald’s body brought to the head of the fjord and he had ships carpenters build a wooden casket for Harald and then he gave a speech to the warriors gathered about:  “My nephew, Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson has been murdered by an assassin and I plan to find and punish this archer, but Harald’s death shall not allow him to escape his own punishment.  He sent Jomsvikings to Norway to kill me and Jarl Haakon and his people.  We defeated the Jomsvikings at the Battle of Hjorungavagr and many of our captives were beheaded in punishment.  Even though dead, Harald must be punished with beheading as well.  Is there any man here who wishes to do this deed?”

Jarl Haakon stepped forward and said, “I would like to do it!”

King Sweyn pulled Harald’s body down the camp cot until the head hung over the end of it.  Jarl Haakon pulled out his sword and struck Harald’s head from his body and it fell onto the sand of the beach.  Sweyn picked the head up and put it between Harald’s feet at the other end of the cot.  Sweyn and Eirik then carried the cot inland to where a grave had been dug and the coffin had been built.  Sweyn and Eirik lifted Harald’s body into the casket and Sweyn placed Harald’s head just above the shoulders and said, “I would like to have a few moments alone with my nephew and then I will nail the coffin shut, as is our Hraes’ custom.”  He said a few words over Harald and then took a hammer and some nails out of a little black tool bag he had with him and he fumbled with the bag, looking for a few more nails and he put the bag in the casket and dug out a few more yet and he lifted the casket lid onto the casket and was about to start nailing it shut when a man yelled out, “You’ve left your tool bag in the coffin!”  Sweyn took the bag out of the coffin, nodding his thanks to the man who had shouted, and he nailed the coffin shut.

A Christian priest had been found from among those of the Danish fleet and they gave Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson a very respectful Christian burial at the head of the fjord.  Sweyn didn’t want him returned to Denmark for burial, because he, himself, was now focking all of Harald’s wives, and daughter, and he didn’t want anybody making a martyr out of their dead Christian king.  Years later, a small stone Christian church was built over King Harald’s grave on the Island of Jom.

When the fleet returned to Denmark, they had to beach a lot of their ships on the coast of the harbour town that served the city of Liere because Roskilde harbour was filling up with merchant ships getting ready for the spring sailing for Kiev and parts beyond.  It was late when Sweyn got back to the city of Roskilde and his new palace there, and Princess Gunhilde was waiting for him at the entrance and she told him she was pregnant and he made her a queen consort on the spot.  His queens had already retired to the master bedroom awaiting his arrival so, he walked in with Gunhilde and he told Gyritha and Thora the good news and he began undressing Gunhilde in front of her mother.  When Gyritha began to protest he patted Gunhilde on the ass and sent her to bed and had Gyritha come out from under the sheets naked and he had her undress himself.  He took Gyritha in the bed and then he took her daughter and finally he took Thora and then they all slept together.

It seemed quite strange to Gyritha to share a lover with her daughter, but Gunhilde loved it and Thora did not find it strange at all.  Sweyn knew, that at that very moment, there were slaveships out in Roskilde harbour that had mother and daughter captives that would be sold together as concubine pairs in Baghdad and Constantinople, and a good looking mother such as Gyritha paired with a beautiful virgin daughter such as Gunhilde would sell in the slave markets for triple their value as they’d sell for apart.  A good looking mother with two or three beautiful virgin daughters would sell for four or five times their value apart.  But they had to look alike or it would be too easy to just put pairs together.  The slavers and their armies had become sophisticated enough to capture whole villages at a time and mothers and their daughters were kept together and protected from rape and ravishing for the higher profits they would command in the markets.  Mothers without daughters took the brunt of that shortfall and became comfort women for the slavers on the long journey east and their nights under the awnings of slaver ships could be sexually challenging.

Prince Valdamar was tasked with leading the merchant fleet east and then south to Kiev, where Princess Serah would meet them to collect the tithe fees and issue the trade permits.  King Sweyn needed a bit more time to put his new kingdom in order, but he arrived in Kiev in time to catch the tail end of the departing fleet.  Normally he would have led the Baghdad trading fleet, but he had a little matter of a claim on a co-Emperorship in Constantinople to address with the Roman Emperors there so, that was the group he planned to lead.

King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar led the Christian merchant fleet to Constantinople and Prince Valdamar brought two of Sweyn’s mobile legions with him and he waited with his fleet of four hundred warships outside the Golden Horn harbour while his father presented his claim for the co-Emperorship to Emperors Basil the Second and Constantine the Eighth.  He showed them the contract that Emperor John Tzimiskes had signed with him after the Battle of Dorostolon in 972 and he showed them his new Royal Seal of Denmark and his crown and then he said, “I also remembered the Roman need for Tzar Peter’s head to prove that he was actually dead,” and Sweyn put a black leather bag on a side-table of the Roman throne room and he took out the head of King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson and he set it on the tabletop.  “And, as you can see,” he pointed out and lifted up a lip, “there is his famous ‘Blue Tooth’.”

“That contract was drawn up fourteen years ago!” Emperor Basil said.  “I’m not saying it’s no longer valid.  I’m just saying we shall need some time to go through all this.”  Emperor Constantine said something to Basil and they had a little discussion while King Sweyn waited.  “Co-Emperor Constantine has come up with an idea you might be interested in while we go through it all.  We noticed you brought your famed mobile legions with you and we were wondering if you might be interested in putting down a revolt in Anatolia for us over the summer and we can discuss your claim when the trading season is near its end.  It is rumoured that your nemesis, General Bardas Skleros is gathering up an army of rebellion in the east with the support of the Caliphate.  Our armies are still fighting the Arabs in the Levant and I shall be leading an army against the Bulgarians this summer, so, if you could take your legions to Anatolia and put down this revolt, it would be appreciated and would work towards a favourable decision on your co-Emperorship.  I’ve noticed that the contract you have provided us with has a clause committing you to support Rome in defence against enemies, as does your treaty of 945.  For this assistance we could pay you ten thousand pounds of gold.”

“We would need twenty thousand pounds of gold.  We have two full Hraes’ legions with us, the equivalent of four of your Roman legions.”

“Can we split the difference?” Emperor Constantine suggested.

“Done,” said King Sweyn.  He put Harald’s head back into the black leather bag and he told them, “You can keep the contract documents for your perusal.  They are just copies.”

“Great!” Emperor Basil said.  “I’m not sure I’d know where to look for our copy.  I’m sure it can be found, but Emperor Tzimiskes was a general, not an administrator.  I only knew about your Treaty of 945 commitment because we had to memorize the treaty in school when I was a child.”

“He was a great general,” Sweyn said.  “Like Emperor Nicephorus before him.  You both look a lot like your grandfather, Emperor Constantine the Seventh.  My mother loved him.”  Sweyn then realized he was starting to sound a lot like his own grandfather and he suddenly felt old.

“Some of our officers shall meet you on our main quay in the Horn and they’ll have your contract and your gold for you, and they’ll go with you to Anatolia.”

“The red gold of Byzantium?” Sweyn said.

“The red gold of Byzantium,” both Emperors repeated.

When King Sweyn told Prince Valdamar about the new contract, he responded by saying, “Isn’t that what the Romans did to you last time?  They offered you a contract and gold and then they didn’t give you your co-Emperorship?”

“I know,” said Sweyn, “but it’s fifteen thousand pounds of gold to kill General Bardas Skleros.  That motherfocker killed a lot of my men in Bulgaria fourteen years ago.  I’d do it for a third that amount just to put my cock up Skleros’ Bardass and then I’m going to stick it up his throat a do rappatio on the motherfocker!”  Valdy tried to calm down his father a bit.  “We can make the fifteen thousand pounds of gold over the summer,” Valdamar said, “and you can rape Bardas and rappatio him and we can always kill more Romans in the fall if they don’t deliver.  And I’m pretty sure The Prince would rather have us kill Romans after the trading season ends, and not before.”

King Sweyn made sure his traders were all set up and selling slaves and furs satisfactorily before setting off with his legions up the Halys River for eastern Anatolia.  Four hundred ships and two mobile legions sailed up the Roman river and portaged across to the Euphrates River and then portaged across to the Araks River and sailed up and down it, but could find no rebellions breaking out anywhere.  Near the end of August, the month named after Augustus Caesar, the originator of the purple blood of the Roman Emperors, King Sweyn learned that Emperor Basil had suffered a catastrophic defeat in his war against the Balkan Bulgars.  His whole army of twenty thousand men, four legions, had been slaughtered and the Emperor had barely escaped with his life thanks to the efforts of an elite Armenian regiment that had fought its way out of the Bulgarian ambush.  King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar had been working their way back to Constantinople because the trading season was winding down and they had just left the Halys and were at Sinope, at their Hraes’ trading store there, when King Ivar’s Roman wife broke the news to them.  They took their fleet back to Constantinople and sailed past the city and went on to Macedonia and sailed up the Maritsa River to Adrianople and halted the Bulgarian advance on Thrace.  Just the rumour that Prince Svein and the Hraes’ were coming was enough to halt them in their tracks.  They had fought against the Hraes and their prince fifteen years earlier and had lost and were just now recovering territories that Prince Sveinald ‘Sviatoslav the Brave’ had taken from them in fifteen weeks.  They did not want to mix it up with the Hraes’.  Their veterans still talked about the kite shields of the mobile legions and the round shields of their beautiful Valkyries and the horned helmets they had worn to win the Battle of the Impalers in Wallachia.  The Bulgarians decided to consolidate their regained territories in the northeast instead.  The Roman officers and Roman regiments and most of the Roman gear that had accompanied them in Anatolia were let off in Adrianople to bolster the area’s defence capabilities, then Sweyn and Valdamar took their Hraes’ legions to Constantinople.

“Emperor John shouldn’t have turned on me in Bulgaria,” King Sweyn told the two sons of Emperor Romanos, co-Emperors Basil and Constantine.  “Had he made me co-Emperor instead, I’d still be in Pereslavet with the Bulgars and Romanians under my thumb.  Now the Bulgarians are on the loose.”

“Thank you for saving Adrianople,” Emperor Basil said.  “My whole army fled and I was lucky to make it out of Bulgaria alive.”

“We couldn’t find any rebellion going on in Anatolia,” Sweyn told them.  “There was plenty of talk of rebellion, but nothing we could act upon.  Bardas Skleros is still in Baghdad, but my spies in the Caliphate have confirmed he has garnered the support of the Buyid dynasty there.  Nothing can be done until he comes across the frontier with his forces, however, we consider the contract fulfilled now and would like our red gold purified before we head back to Kiev.”

“That won’t be possible,” Basil said.  “The contract said that a rebellion was to be put down.”

“The contract was limited to the summer trading season and there was no rebellion to put down.  It was your bad intel, not mine.”

“Still, you lost zero men and I’ve just lost twenty thousand.”

“That’s not my problem.  It cost a lot of gold to have two full legions traipsing across Anatolia all summer and, had I found Bardas Skleros and his rebels, we would have defeated them without losing many men and we’d have his booty and the gold in his baggage train.”

“Still,” Basil repeated.  “You’ll have to try again next year.”

“Fine!” Sweyn said.  “We’ll try again next summer, but rebel towns we conquer shall be subject to the old Roman pagan laws of pillage and you’ll have to purify the gold for us whether we find Bardas Skleros or not.”

“That sounds more than fair,” Emperor Basil said, smiling politely.  “We’ve heard it said that you follow the old Roman laws of conquest.  Why is that?”

“The Aesir have always followed the old Roman Vanir laws,” Sweyn started, “and our religions were the same at one point in the past.  Only the names of the gods became different with the differences in our languages.  Zeus Pater or Jupiter is our Odin, Mars is our Thor, and Mercury is our Freya, just as God is your father, Jesus is the son and you’ve added a Holy Ghost to make it a tripartite gods religion as well.

Emperor Basil looked about his throne as if blasphemy had just been spilled from some Holy Grail.  “You sound like our Vanir witches,” he said, once he was sure only his brother was within earshot.  “Perhaps you should convert to our old Vanir religion?”

“I already have,” King Sweyn told him.  “After I couldn’t kill Emperor John at Dorostolon and he couldn’t kill me, we had to make peace.  Since that time I have followed both the Aesir and Vanir religions.  It was the Vanir god of war Mars that saved me at Dorostolon.  My grandfather had a vision there and told me so.”

“How is Prince Erik doing?” Emperor Constantine inquired.  “Did Emperor Theophilos really teach The Prince how to speak Latin in 839?”

“He’s still kicking, and by that I mean still kicking ass.  But he learned Latin from a nun as he was taking her down the Dnieper to release her to your Bishop in Cherson.  It was reading and, particularly, writing in Latin that Emperor Theophilos taught my grandfather.  It saved his life.  We shall always owe Emperor Theophilos our gratitude for that.”

“And it was such a long life he saved!” Emperor Basil quipped.

As King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar were leaving the throne room, they heard both Emperors say in unison, “Eight thirty nine!  Fock!!!”

Once Prince Valdamar got out to the Golden Horn harbour, he laid into his father, “We can’t run two legions all over Anatolia next summer for free!  You’re letting these Romans run roughshod over you!  We need that gold purified.”

“No, we don’t,” Sweyn told him.  “Your grandfather’s already figured out how they purify the gold.  He can do it for us in Tmutorokan.  We just don’t want them to know we’ve figured it out.  That’s why we always get Magistros Kalokyras in Cherson to come and clean it for us.  Besides, they do it for us for free as part of the contract, but we don’t really need them to do it for us.”

“Oh,” Valdamar breathed.  “I should have known grandfather would have that figured out.”

Then Sweyn told Valdy what he had said to the Emperors about their old Roman Vanir religion.

“Did The Prince really have a vision of Mars at Dorostolon?”

“Only if he was looking up at the heavenly bodies, son,” Sweyn told him.  “When I’m co-Emperor I plan on bringing the Vanir religion back to Rome.  Telling my co-Emperors that tall tale is just a good way to get the ball rolling on that!” and he slapped Valdy across the shoulders.  “But we are soon going to visit with my old friend Kalokyras,” Sweyn told his son.  “I think we’re going to have to take Cherson!”

“Now you’re talking!” Valdamar said, excitedly.

“Emperor Basil has no intention of making me a co-Emperor, ever!  Constantine is a co-Emperor in name only.  Basil rules the roost there and he knows he’ll have to share control if I get there.  We’ll give them another chance, but if they fock us around, we’ll take Cherson and use it as a bargaining tool.”

“When should we start?”

“Just as soon as we get all our traders out of Constantinople.  We’ll have to let our people know that nobody overwinters in Constantinople this year.  And we’ll have to do it quietly.  I’ll take the merchant fleet back through Kiev, while you take the two legions and attack Cherson.  If you catch them by surprise, you may be able to ride your cavalry right through their gates.  I kept some of the Roman gear our allies had on our ships when we let them off at Adrianople.  Not enough to arouse suspicion, but enough to dress the front ranks in.”

When they took the merchant fleet out of Constantinople and across the Black Sea, they met Prince Erik and the Baghdad fleet in front of the Cherson peninsula and Sweyn and Valdamar went through their attack plan with him.

“As long as you take Cherson by Yuletide,” Erik told them.  “That will give us enough time to strike a deal with them before the next trading season starts.  I don’t want Roman trade shut down for years like it was last time.”

“That was fifteen years ago,” Sweyn said.  “The Armenians are out of power in Rome now.”

“I heard it was an elite Armenian regiment that saved Basil’s ass in Bulgaria!” Erik said.  “Do you really think Basil was bright enough to have an elite Armenian regiment nearby to help him out while he focked up the whole battle?”

“Those focking Armenians!” Sweyn spat.

“Some Armenian general is looking after him.  Probably setting himself up for a co-Emperorship of his own.  You’re right in thinking Basil will never share rule with you.  The Armenians are working on him as we speak.”

“You’ve got the best spies in Constantinople!” Valdamar said.

“Mine have just been there the longest.  They’ve seen all your spies come,” he said, looking at Sweyn, “and they’ve seen yours too, Valdamar,” Erik said, looking over at his great grandson.  “It’s the old give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself and we’ll save his ass with our elite Armenian regiment trick.  Now Basil owes some Armenian general his ass.”

“Focking Armenians!” Sweyn said again.  “They’ve got the best spies!”

“They are the spies,” Valdamar said.  “Every Armenian in Constantinople is part of their spy network, whether they know it or not.”

“Even Empress Theophano!” Sweyn said.  “Emperor John was keeping her for some sex on the side, but Svia learned that as soon as he was dead, her fellow Armenians sent her off to be a Roman princess for some old German king or other.  The Holy Roman Emperor in Aachen wanted a Roman princess who was Porphyrogennetos, you know, born of the purple with the blood of Augustus Caesar running through her veins so she could give him little Caesar babies, but they didn’t want to give him one because he would then claim to be the true new Rome, so they gave him Empress Theophano instead.  I mean, she focked an Emperor who was born of the purple and she gave birth to two sons who have the blood of the Emperors flowing through their veins, but, really, she doesn’t have a lick of Roman blood flowing through her honey well.  Just the hot sexy blood of an Armenian whore.  So, now she’s stuck in Aachen humping some old German Kaiser wanna be.”

“You sound like you’ve spent some time in Lade,” Erik said.  “There’s something in the focking water there.”

“I knew it was the focking water!” Sweyn said.

“I like your plan,” Prince Erik told his grandsons.  “Now would be the time to do it.  Basil has a war still going on in the Levant, and now Bulgarians wanting to tear a strip off of him and soon he’ll have an old Armenian friend of ours starting a rebellion in Anatolia.  If you take Cherson now, he’ll want to deal and get that wrapped up as soon as possible.  But if Cherson drags on into a long siege, you might miss your chance to kill Bardas Skleros at the invitation of the Emperors.  A rebellion is brewing and you may even get imperial permission to sack Roman cities, old school style.  The plunder would be great and the slaves invaluable.  We can sack Cherson later, if we don’t get Roman cooperation, but an invitation to lead two mobile legions aggressively into Roman lands comes once in three lifetimes.”

“Was it your spies that warned Emperor Basil about General Bardas Skleros and his rebellion?” Sweyn asked his grandfather.

“I have good spies in Constantinople,” Erik admitted, “but I have great spies in Baghdad.  Read your manual.  It’s all in General Sun Tsu Wu’s ‘Art of War’.”

When King Sweyn arrived in Kiev, Princess Serah was there to help him collect tithes and duties.  They worked together days and spent their nights going through the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana and Serah amused herself by stroking Sweyn’s lingam and watching it erupt.  She fine-tuned his orgasms and experimented with the sensuality of sounds.  When she thought she had his eruptions under the control of her moans of pleasure she had sex with him without protection and at the peak of her ride she went into a quick set of sensual moans that had him erupting within her before he could withdraw.  She’d had many fine princes by Prince Erik, but she really wanted a princess by King Sweyn, partly because she loved him and partly to assure her position in Hraes’ should anything happen to The Prince.  She still practiced her Jewish faith and, though the Aesir religion was fairly accepting of other faiths, there had been a lot of proselytizing going on of late and she had a feeling that Christianity might be winning in the faith race, and it was very intolerant of other religions.

After a week, Sweyn followed the merchant fleet up the Dnieper and he went to Chernigov to ask Princess Svia to move with him to Denmark.  “You shall be my Primus Queen there,” he told her.

“I don’t want to move to some backwater country like Denmark,” she replied.  “What of your co-Emperorship in Constantinople.  Emperors Basil and Constantine are contractually bound to honour you with the position.”

“Some Armenian general is focking it up for me again!” Sweyn said.

“Those focking Armenians!” Svia cursed.  She had given up being an Armenian when her own family line had sent her to a convent to be raped by priests and bishops.  But she really hated what they had done to her cousin, Empress Theophano, passing her off as Porphyrogennetos to the German emperor in Aachen, and then abandoning her there when the Germans realized that they’d been conned.  She had to fock the German emperor’s ass off to keep her position there, but at least she had managed to contact Svia and they had worked through their differences.

“Will you come with me?” he asked.

“I’ll be queen?  Not a queen consort?”

“Yes!” Sweyn told her.  “I’ll make Queen Gyritha a queen consort with Thora and Gunhilde and Malfrieda.”

“Princess Malfrieda is coming?”

“Is that okay with you?”

“Well, yes, of course,” Svia said.  “At least there’ll be someone there I know and love.”

“Besides me,” Sweyn said.

“Yes, of course,” she responded.  “Besides you.”

It took several days for the servants to pack up Princess Sviataslava’s belongings and Sweyn and Svia and Sviatopolk spent the days together supervising the move and Sweyn and Svia spent the nights together making love.  Sweyn remembered when he’d first seen Svia in Ramnic and he saved her from Count Vlad and he took her to his pavilion and they made love together for the first time.  “She’s mine!” he had told his grandfather, and now finally they were together alone for a few days.  Then they sailed up the Dnieper for a few days and caught up with the rest of the fleet at the Smolensk Surazh portage.  His small fleet of warships took priority and he passed by all the waiting Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Norman, Anglish, Irish and Icelandic merchant ships.  They paid the portage to the Lovat River and met Princess Malfrieda in Novgorod.

“Will you come to Denmark with me and be my queen consort?” Sweyn asked her.

“I’d come to Hell with you to be your queen consort,” Malfrieda told him.

“We’ve already been to Hell together,” Sweyn replied.  “It’s a shithole village hardly worthy of a princess, let alone a queen such as yourself.”

“Is it okay with you, Princess Svia?” Malfrieda asked.

“As long as I get to be Primus Queen,” she replied.

Their small fleet sailed down the Volkov River to Lake Ladoga and then down the Neva River to the Gulf of Finland and they crossed the Baltic Sea to Sweden.  Sweyn stopped in at Birka and Uppsala, as usual, to visit with his friends, King Eric the Victorious and Queen Sigrid of Sweden and he came bearing gifts and, as he passed out the presents, he announced that he was the new King of Denmark.  They had, of course, already heard this news as Queen Gyritha of Denmark was Eric’s sister, but they congratulated Sweyn as though they had not known.  “How did King Harald die?” King Eric asked.

“He was shot in the back with an arrow by one of the Jomsvikings he had hired to kill Jarl Haakon,” Sweyn told him. 

“I’d heard that King Harald hired the Jomsvikings to kill you,” King Eric said, bluntly.

“That may be,” Sweyn replied, “but I prefer to think more highly of my nephew until we find out whose markings were on the arrow.  Then we can ask the Jomsviking who killed him.”

Queen Sigrid was talking with the princesses while Sweyn and Eric went off alone to discuss matters.  “My sister will, of course, remain your queen,” King Eric told Sweyn.  “All others are to be queen consorts, even King Harald’s daughter, Gunhilde.”

“And if I decide otherwise?” Sweyn asked.

“Then I shall visit you with my warfleet,” Eric threatened.

King Sweyn took it as more of a warning than a threat and purchased his usual pure iron for the smithies of Hraegunarstead and a double order of tonstone for his trebuchets and he took them aboard his small warfleet.

When King Sweyn and his wives got to Roskilde, Sweyn introduced them to his new wives as Queen Sviataslava and Queen Consort Malfrieda, and Queen Consort Gyritha stormed out of the great hall, for there could only be one Primus Queen.  Gyritha had been worried that Sweyn was going to make young Gunhilde his queen because she had already provided the new king with young baby Svein, but he had promoted a Roman princess to the position instead.  A foreign princess who wasn’t even Norse!

When King Sweyn joined his wives in bed, he noticed that Gyritha was missing.  The next day, he reminded her that they had made an agreement together and that it did not guarantee her priority.  She joined his many wives in bed the next evening and Aud joined them as well the evening after.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

16.0  BYZANTINE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY WINS  (Circa 987 AD)

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Then Grand Prince Valdamar’s emissaries went to Constantinople:

“And the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and

we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.  For on earth there is

no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it.

We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer

than the ceremonies of other nations.  For we cannot forget that beauty.”

The Emissaries of Prince Valdamar after visiting the Hagia Sofia Church

(987 AD)  No sooner had Prince Valdamar returned to Kiev, when he was visited by Bulgars of the Mohammedan faith, who said, “Though you are a wise and prudent prince, you have no religion.  Adopt our faith, and revere Mahomet.”  Vladimir inquired, in Bulgarian, what was the nature of their religion and they replied that they believed in the one true God, and that Mahomet instructed them to practice circumcision, to eat no pork, to drink no wine, and, after death, promised them complete fulfillment of their carnal desires.  “Mahomet,” they asserted, “will give each man seventy fair women.  He may choose one fair one, and upon that woman will Mahomet confer the charms of them all, and she shall be his wife.  Mahomet promises that one may then satisfy every desire, but whoever is poor in this world will be no different in the next.”  They also spoke other things which, out of modesty, were not typically written down.  Once you became a Moslem, you were not allowed to quit the religion on pain of death and, while men could cheat in marriage, women were stoned to death for it, and women had to have their faces covered in public at all times, and the list went on…

Prince Valdamar listened to them and he thought of his mother being stoned to death and of his hundreds of beautiful wives that would have their gorgeous countenances covered, for he was fond of women, and of indulgence, and that which he heard of regarding circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine were very disagreeable to him.  “Drinking,” he said, “is the joy of the Hraes’ and we cannot exist without that pleasure.”

Then came the Germans from the Bishopric of Merseburg, asserting that they had come as emissaries of the Pope and claimed, “Thus says the Pope: ‘Your country is like our country, but your faith is not as ours.  For our faith is the light.  We worship the one true God, who has made heaven and earth, the stars, the moon, and every creature,’ while your gods are only wood.”  Valdamar inquired, in Latin, what their teaching was.  At first they could not reply and Valdy realized that they were representing the Latin faith but could not speak the Latin tongue, so he rephrased his words in the High German they were speaking.  They replied, “Fasting according to one’s strength.  But whatever one eats or drinks is all to the glory of God, as our teacher Paul has said.”  Then Valdamar answered, “Depart hence; our fathers accepted no such principle as fasting according to one’s strength, for fasting diminishes one’s strength and leaves them too weak for battle.”

The Jewish Khazars heard of these missions, and came themselves saying, “We have learned that Bulgars and Christians came hither to instruct you in their faiths.  The Christians believe in him whom we crucified, but we believe in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Then Valdamar inquired, in the Khazar tongue, what their religion was.  They replied that its tenets included circumcision, not eating pork or hare, and observing the Sabbath.  The prince then asked where their native land was, and they replied that it was in Jerusalem.  When Valdamar inquired where that was, he added, “I only ask because we Hraes’ have been trying to open a trading store and station in Jerusalem for decades, but the Caliph of Baghdad will not allow it.  If we join your faith, pray tell me that you will then allow it.”  They made answer, “God was angry at our forefathers, and scattered us among the gentiles on account of our sins.  Our land was then given to the Christians and is now presently in the hands of the Moslems.”  The grand prince then demanded, “How can you hope to teach others while you yourselves are cast out and scattered abroad by the hand of your own God?  If your one true God loved you and your faith, you would not be thus dispersed in foreign lands.  Do you expect us to accept that fate also?”

Then the Romans of Constantinople sent to Valdamar an Archbishop, a scholar, who was dressed in fine silk and brocade robes with a great high hat of cloth of gold and the retainers around him were near as finely dressed and wearing much gold and looked of Eastern Roman princely stock and the scholar spoke thus: “We have heard that the Bulgarians came and urged you to adopt their faith, which pollutes heaven and earth.  They are accursed above all men, like Sodom and Gomorrah, upon which the Lord let fall burning stones, and which he buried and submerged.  The day of destruction likewise awaits these men, on which the Lord will come to judge the earth, and to destroy all those who do evil and abomination.  For they moisten their excrement, and pour the water into their mouths, and anoint their beards with it, remembering Mahomet.  The women also perform this same abomination, and even worse ones.”  Vladimir, upon hearing their statements, spat upon the earth, saying, “This is a vile thing.”  Then the scholar said, “We have likewise heard how men came from Rome to convert you to their faith.  It differs but little from ours, for they commune with wafers, called oplatki, which God did not give them, for he ordained that we should commune with bread.  For when he had taken bread, the Lord gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘This is my body broken for you.’ Likewise he took the wine cup, and said, ‘This is my blood of the New Testament.’  They do not so act, for they have modified the faith.”  Then Valdamar remarked that the Jews had come into his presence and had stated that the Germans and the Greeks believed in him whom they crucified.  To this the scholar replied, “Of a truth we believe in him.  For some of the prophets foretold that God should be incarnate, and others that he should be crucified and buried, but arise on the third day and ascend into heaven.  “For the Jews killed the prophets, and still others they persecuted.  When their prophecy was fulfilled, our Lord came down to earth, was crucified, arose again, and ascended into heaven.  He awaited their repentance for forty-six years, but they did not repent, so that the Lord let loose the Romans upon them.  Their cities were destroyed, and they were scattered among the gentiles, under whom they are now in servitude.”  Valdamar then inquired why God should have descended to earth and should have endured such pain.  The scholar then answered and said, “If you are desirous of hearing the story, I shall tell you from the beginning why God descended to earth.” Vladimir replied, “Gladly would I hear it.” Whereupon the scholar thus began his narrative: “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth on the first day.  Upon the second, he created the land which is in the midst of the water.  Upon this same day, the waters were divided.  A part of them was elevated above the land, and a part placed below it.  On the third day, he created the sea, the rivers, the springs, and the seeds.  On the fourth, God made the sun, the moon, and the stars, and thus adorned the heavens.  When the foremost of the angels, the chief of the angelic host, beheld these works, he reflected and said, ‘I shall descend to the earth and seize upon it.  I shall then be like to God, and shall establish my throne upon the Northern Clouds.’  But God cast him straightway out of heaven, and in his train fell the tenth order of the angels, who had been subject to him.  The name of this adversary was Sathanael, in whose place God set Michael as chief, while Satan, after sinning in his devices and falling from the former glory, is now called the adversary of God.  “Subsequently, upon the fifth day, God created whales, fishes, reptiles, and feathered fowl.  On the sixth, God created beasts, cattle, and terrestrial reptiles.  He also created man.  Upon the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, God rested from his labours.  He set up Paradise at the East of Eden.  There he placed man, whom he had created, and bade him eat of every tree save one, namely, the tree of the understanding of good and evil.  Thus Adam was in Paradise beholding God, and glorified him when the angels glorified him.

“Now God cast a drowsiness upon Adam, and he slept.  Then God took from him one rib, and made him a wife, whom he brought to Adam in Paradise.  Then Adam said, ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,’ and she was called woman.  Adam gave names to the cattle and the birds, the beasts and the reptiles; to man and to woman an angel gave names. God subjected the beasts and the cattle to Adam’s rule and he ruled over them and they obeyed his word.

“When the devil saw how God honored man, he hated him.  Changing himself into a serpent, he approached Eve and inquired of her, ‘Why do you not eat of the tree that stands in the middle of Paradise?’  The woman made answer to the serpent, ‘God has said: “Ye must not eat of it, or ye shall die the death.”  Then the serpent said, ‘You shall not die the death.  God knew that upon the day when you eat of it, your eyes be opened, and you shall be as God, understanding good and evil.’  Now the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, so she ate of it, and gave of it to her husband.  They ate, and their eyes were opened, so that they realized that they were naked, and plaited for themselves girdles of fig-leaves.  “Then God said, ‘The earth is accursed of your deeds, and ye shall live in sorrow all the days of your life.  If ye stretch out your hand and pluck the fruit of the tree of life, ye will live forever.’  So the Lord God drove Adam out of Paradise.  He sat opposite the gate of Paradise weeping and tilling the soil, and Satan rejoiced that the earth was accursed.  This was the first fall of man, and his bitter punishment, in that he lost the angelic life.”

While Grand Prince Valdamar found the tale interesting, the Archbishop kind of lost him at the tilling of the soil part and Valdamar was behind in all his various obligations to his wives and was still trying to make up for the time he had lost while in Lade fighting the Jomsvikings.  “I found your sermon very interesting,” Valdamar said.  “Thank you for sharing that with us.”

“But there is more,” the Archbishop started.  “Much more…”

“I suspected as much,” Valdy cut in, “and I have sent for our script writer to come and record the rest for our files.  I shall go fetch him for you.”

Prince Valdamar left the highest host highseat of King Frodi’s highseat hall and fled the great room to fetch his skald, leaving the Archbishop sitting with his party on the highest guest highseat of King Frodi’s highseat hall and when the skald came back to record the rest, he was accompanied by Princess Sviataslava, who was visiting.  She was richly dressed in the Roman fashion and she received the embassy with a most regal poise and she welcomed them in both Latin and Greek.  ‘It was she who would be converting to the Orthodox faith,’ the prince reasoned, ‘with King Sweyn when he collected on the Co-Emperorship of Rome that was owed him.’  That was why he had sent out emissaries to all the other religions of the world: to put the fear of their own Roman God into the Romans.  Hraes’ could end up an ally or an enemy, a friend or a foe, just in the choice of the religion they would support alongside their Aesir tripartite gods religion.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

17.0  THE REVOLT OF ANATOLIA  (Circa 987 AD)

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16.    “Now we are come                 to the king’s high hall,

             without mercy made            to turn the mill;

                        mud soils our feet,               frost cuts our bones;

                        at the peace-quern we drudge:     dreary is it here.

                                               Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(987 AD)  King Sweyn met Jarl Olaf in Rouen and took his legions on Wight into western England and attacked the Port City of Watchet.  Back in Roskilde Princess Alfled had arrived from Lade with the Norwegian merchant fleet that used the Dan’Way rather than the Nor’Way, and Sweyn made her a queen consort of Denmark before he headed off to Constantinople for trade.  He loved Alfled and he trusted her.

The Hraes’ fleet paid its tithes and got its permits in Kiev, but this year the fleets of Kiev and Tmutorokan gathered in the Bay of Cherson and they traded with the Greeks of the Cherson Peninsula before splitting up into fleets that went to Baghdad and Constantinople.  But King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar went with neither.  Prince Erik led the fleet to Baghdad and he went on to India and back to Baghdad several times and Duke Richard’s Latin Christian son, Robert, led the Christian fleet to Constantinople under the guidance of Captain Bjorn.  Once the merchant fleets had set off for their respective destinations, Sweyn and Valdamar took their two mobile legions across the Black Sea to Anatolia.  They had a rebellion to put down…if they could find it.

They were looking for Bardas Skleros who had been exiled in the Caliphate for as many years as King Sweyn had been seeking the Danish throne.  It happened that, after the death of the Emperor John Tzimiskes, a few years after Sweyn had lost the Battle of Dorostolon and his City of Pereslavet, his magistros, Bardas Skleros, planned a great rebellion against the young Emperors, Basil and Constantine, and laid waste Anatolia for four years, ravaging the countryside with fire and destroying cities, cruelly defeating and slaughtering in a pitched battle the Roman forces that were deployed against him.

One army was led against Skleros by the patrikios and stratopedarches Peter the Eunuch, and when battle broke out on the plain of Lapara, on the boundary of Armenian territory, patrikios Peter was hit by a spear and knocked from his horse and died, while most of his bodyguards were killed along with him.  Another army was led against Skleros by the magistros Bardas Phokas, who, after receiving from the Emperors the office of Domestikos of the Schools for his successes against the Hraes’, drew up in battle order to oppose Skleros at Pankaleia, a plain near Amorion that was suitable for cavalry action, at which time Phokas was struck on the skull with a staff on the battlefield and was knocked from his horse and brought to the ground; and he would have been captured by his foes and died ingloriously, if he had not been overlooked as one of the rank and file by the enemy, who did not recognize him, and had been saved by the approach of night.  Bardas Skleros was elated by all his victories and considered himself invincible.  Thereupon he forced Nicaea and Abydos and Attalea to surrender to him, and he subdued all Roman territory in Asia.  He then acquired numerous dromon triremes and gained control of the sea, and caused great harm to the merchants and the imperial city itself, by not allowing the grain transports to sail to it as they did previously; until the Emperors secretly dispatched from Constantinople’s Golden Horn harbour Greek fireships, under the command of the magistros Bardas Parsakoutenos, who landed suddenly at Abydos and set fire to the usurper’s triremes and destroyed his army of soldiers and seized the fortress.  Then Bardas Phokas led an army and attacked Bardas Skleros and defeated him, forcing him to seek refuge in Baghdad with the Arabs there.

Both Roman and Hraes’ intel now indicated that Bardas Skleros, with the aid of the Caliphate, had finally returned to Cappadocia to start his rumoured rebellion, so King Sweyn, once again, met up with Roman officers and he and Prince Valdamar once again took their two mobile legions from one end of Anatolia to the other, looking for the rebels.  By now the Roman cities of the east were seething with rebellion and the Roman officers had been given special dispensation by Emperor Basil to allow the Hraes’ legions to sack a few of the most rebellious smaller towns to serve as a warning to the eastern cities.  The Emperor was to receive all pillaged gold and the Hraes’ were to retain all plundered silver with the loot monitored and divided in the old Roman Vanir fashion by the Roman officers present.  The citizens were to be handled in the old Roman fashion as well and the Hraes’ were allowed to retain the enslaved.

As the two Hraes mobile legions progressed east across Anatolia, they came across a small city that the Roman officers determined to be sufficiently ‘Pink’ to permit sacking.  The towns and cities that were judged to be loyal to the Empire were said to be Roman Red, and less loyal cities were Red and then Light Red and disloyal cities were Dark Pink and rebellious cities were Pink.  The small city that the officers had just studied was so rebellious that they called the city ‘Pinkville’ and okayed its sacking by the Hraes’, reminding the Vikings and Varangians that all plundered gold was to be forwarded to Emperor Basil in Constantinople.

Pinkville was all bolted shut and feeling secure behind its high stone walls when the legionary fleet sailed up the Halys River and began slinging high velocity tonstone shot from the shipborne gravity trebuchets and the weaker riverside walls were soon tumbling down into the waters and warships with ladders fired scorpion arrows into the cracked and crumbling walls and the ships were cinched up and Hraes’ marines and troops raced up ladders and poured into the city and they opened the landward gates and the heavy horse and cataphracts that were discharging from the troop transports charged straight into the city streets and the city fell by noon and was completely plundered by nightfall.  Half the men were loaded up into the slaver knars that had followed the fleet and were taken off to Tmutorokan for quick training and prep before being destined for sale to the Eunuch armies of the east and the other lucky half were imprisoned within the many stone churches within the walls.  The Hraes’ troops were billeted in the houses of Pinkville where they helped themselves to the women and children before the slaver knars came back for half of them.  The Roman officers followed the Hraes’ troops throughout the town and ensured that the pillaged gold and silver was all amassed in the town square so that the gold could be shipped off to Constantinople and the silver could be distributed however King Sweyn saw fit.

This same fate awaited many of the larger towns and smaller cities across Armeniakon, Chaldia and Cappadocia and everywhere the Hraes legions went, the slaver knars followed.  And when the Hraes’ troops were hunkered down in the captured towns, raping and pillaging, Sweyn sent out his Exeyes officers to the surrounding cities to infiltrate and locate Bardas Skleros and his rebels.  But they could find him nowhere.  Some of the intel officers came back with reports of sightings of Bardas and rumours of Skleros, but some Exeyes officers didn’t come back at all.  They were to mole down in Cappadocia and hide under cover as displaced Romans and they were to watch and wait at selected locations.  The legions had spent the prior summer traipsing around Anatolia and the Exeyes officers had trained all winter at their covers so they could blend in with the locals.  Thanks to the teachings of General Wu, the Hraes’ legions had twice as many Exeyes, intel officers per capita, than even the Roman legions.  When the legions left in the fall, the implanted Exeyes officers were left behind.

King Sweyn didn’t even go to Constantinople to ask the Emperors to purify his gold.  He sent a messenger who came back with the answer that the body of Bardas Skleros would be required.  But Sweyn had expected as much and he had found himself a Roman wife who liked whips and chains and travelled with him all through the summer and Prince Valdamar had purchased a dozen new young beautiful wives for his Kievan covies and the Hraes’ Trading Company had garnered thousands of fine slaves for the markets of Baghdad, Ashaval and Constantinople.  The King and his son both planned on returning the next summer for more of the same, should they be again invited, so Sweyn left his Roman concubine in Sinope in the care of Ivar’s Roman wife who still ran the Hraes’ store there.  And with the volume of gold that had been shipped to Constantinople, both King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar expected to be well received the following summer.  However, if Anatolia hadn’t been ready to rebel at the start of the summer’s raids, they were certainly primed for it by the end.

When they were returning with their legionary fleet, they met The Prince and the Hraes’ Baghdad merchant fleet just before Cherson.  “It is time,” Prince Erik said.  “Anatolia is about to explode in revolt like one of our footbow rocket arrows!”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

18.0  THE REVOLT IN ANATOLIA, PART II  (Circa 989 AD)

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17.    “The stone now let stand,                 my stint is done;

                I have ground my share,                 grant me a rest.”

(Fenja said:)

                        “The stone must not stand,            our stint is not done,

                        before to Frodi                      his fill we ground.

                                               Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(989 AD) King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar had spent another summer plundering rebel cities in Anatolia with still no sign of Bardas Skleros.  When they were returning with their legionary fleet, they met The Prince and the Hraes’ Baghdad merchant fleet just before Cherson.  “It is time,” Prince Erik said.  “Anatolia is about to explode in revolt like one of our footbow rocket arrows!”

As usual, thousands of ships of the merchant fleet of the Hraes’ gathered off Cherson and most sailed north with King Sweyn for Kiev and a smaller contingent sailed east with Prince Erik for Tmutorokan, but, once out of sight from land, the four hundred transport warships of the Hraes’ legions led by Prince Valdamar beached across the bay from the city of the Romans and, within thirty minutes a full regiment of horse set off south towards the fortress.  Some of them wore Roman cavalry uniforms and carried Roman legionary standards.

Magistrate Kalokyras had been recalled from duty in Italy to ensure that Cherson was safeguarded from rebellion.  When officers came and warned him of the approach of an unexpected cavalry regiment he went to the walls of the city and watched their movements.  It was a Roman regiment and they bore the standards of a unit from Constantinople, but he had the feeling that he had seen this somewhere before.  And then he remembered Wallachia and he fought off the urge to shit himself.  “Lock up all the gates!” he ordered.  “Those may not be Romans!”  He remembered the Hraes’ cavalry as they sailed up the Olt River on their way to Ramnic Valcea and their skill at deception.  ‘It’s Prince Sveinald,’ he thought, and then he did shit himself.

Prince Valdamar led his cavalry force and he wore the colours of Rome, as did his men, but the east gates of the city were closed as were the south and west gates as they circumvented the walls.  The young prince led his men back to the east gate and he saw the face of a man upon the gate tower and he recognized it from his youth in Tmutorokan.  It was the countenance of Magistrate Kalokyras of Cherson.  Valdamar took a small group of his men, the ones who wore Roman gear, and they rode to the gate and shouted to be let in.  “Magistrate Kalokyras!” Valdamar shouted.  “We followed behind the Hraes’ merchant fleet from Constantinople and we bear an urgent message from Emperor Basil!”

“I recognize your standards,” Kalokyras shouted back, “but I see kite shields in your rearward forces.”

“Many of our regiments now carry kite shields,” Valdamar answered.

“But your regiment has not yet been issued kite shields,” Kalokyras shouted.  “All the new kite shields have gone to our Italian regiments.”

“Emperor Basil shall hear of this!” Valdamar bluffed.

“Emperor Basil is the one who ordered me back here from Italy!”  He was now certain he was dealing with Hraes’ cavalry officers, but he did not recognize the young man before him.  “You tell Prince Sveinald that he is welcome as a guest and we’ll share wine together should he care to visit.”

“The message is urgent!” Valdamar declared.  When the gates remained closed, he led his men away.  They returned to the fleet and set up camp.  The Greek citizens of the peninsula soon began streaming into the fortress city for safety.  “We should stop them,” the Hraes’ officers protested.  “It’s going to be a siege,” the prince replied.  “The more that make it into the city, the faster they shall go through their supplies.  We have a schedule to follow.  Only supply trains are to be stopped.”  Cavalry units occupied the surrounding hill tops and watched for wains and wagons, but they did not interfere with civilian movements.

Prince Valdamar had circumvented the landward walls of Cherson with earthworks and a wooden stockade to cut off supplies by land and they controlled the bay in front of the city to cut off supplies by sea.  Trebuchets were set up behind the earthworks and they fired constantly against the landward walls of the city to reduce them to a scalable height and ship mounted trebuchets shot tonstone ballistae against the seaward walls.  But the walls had been upgraded to resist trebuchet volleys and only tonstone seemed to have an effect on the improved stoneworks.  So, Valdamar was pleased when his father arrived from the north with fresh Swedish tonstone.  The greater density and hardness of the tonstone gave it penetrating power that broke up the stone of the walls.  Hraes’ troops snuck up to the walls at night to recover some of the tonstone, but the ballistae that flew over the wall or got stuck in the wall was gone.  And the tonstone on the seaward assault was always gone.  So, fresh tonstone from Sweden was a gift from Odin.

“Magistrate Kalokyras invited you as a guest to sit down and have wine with him,” Valdamar told his father.  “He’s a crafty old fox so, I wouldn’t take him up on it.”

King Sweyn ordered that the trebuchet barrage be halted the next day and he had a pavilion set up a short distance from the east gate of the city.  He left a cohort of cavalry on a hilltop and he rode alone to the pavilion with a bottle of fine Frankish sparkling wine and some Khazar Vayar and he sat at the lone table in the open pavilion and he drank some wine and waited.  Magistrate Kalokyras soon rode out from the city gates and he brought a bottle of fine Italian wine and he joined King Sweyn.  They made small talk for a bit and reminisced about old times for a while.

“Do you still sleep inside your wives?” Kalokyras asked.

“Yes,” Sweyn admitted.  “But not because I have to anymore, but because I enjoy it.  Do you still shit your bed at night?”

“Yes,” the magistrate answered, “but not because I have to…” and they both broke out laughing.

“I didn’t want to attack your city,” Sweyn started, “but the Emperors owe me a co-Emperorship.”

“They’ll never give it to you, Sweyn,” Kalokyras told him.  “The people of Constantinople would take their heads.  Have you considered asking for something that they can actually give you without putting their own lives at risk?”

“Such as?”

“You’ve heard that Empress Theophano was exported to the Holy Roman Emperor as a Porphyrogennetos and then they later found out that she wasn’t?”

“I did hear something about that.  Then Rome abandoned Theophano and now she’s in Aachen humping her ass off on the German emperor just to keep her head.”

“Ah…so, you have heard.  They did the same thing to the Bulgarians years ago, and Tzar Samuel isn’t the Tzar he thinks he is because their Roman princess wasn’t Porphyrogennetos as well.  They found out and they’ve been at war with us ever since.  It is strictly forbidden for Emperors to send Porphyrogennetos off to be married to foreigners, however, there may be one possible exception.”

“And what is that?” Sweyn asked after a long pause.

“It may be allowed if the Porphyrogennetos involved is a foreigner.”

“And who might that be?” Sweyn said, suddenly interested.

“Emperor Basil and Constantine have a number of sisters, all of them Porphyrogennetos, but one of them isn’t actually their sister, the offspring of Emperor Romanos.  She is their aunt, the offspring of Emperor Constantine the Seventh, your mother, Helga’s husband.  Do you follow?”

“My mother’s handmaiden?”

“Exactly!  Empress Helga left her in Constantinople to take care of Emperor Constantine when she had to flee the city, when you had to flee the city.  Your mother gave her orders to serve the Emperor in her stead and she took the orders seriously and when the Emperor was suffering from depression in isolation she gave him relief by having coitus with him.  She got pregnant and when the Emperor was poisoned and died, she gave birth to his daughter and it was all hushed up and she was raised as one of Romanos’ daughters and her mother, the handmaiden was returned to your mother in Gardariki.”

“She’s still in Gardariki and still taking my mother’s orders quite seriously.  She lives in the palace with Prince Erik and she focks him quite regularly, not because he’s depressed but because he’s a horny old bastard!”  And the two laughed again.  “She’s the one who’s depressed,” Sweyn added, “because she lost her daughter and was never able to have another child.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Kalokyras said.  “She gave birth to her daughter in the purple room.  The surgeons there may have fixed her while they were working on her.  Anyway, her daughter’s available and if you ask for her, they may give her to you.”

“I have too many wives already,” Sweyn said.  “I may soon be under attack because I have one too many queens and not enough queen consorts.”

“I don’t think you appreciate what may be being offered here, Sweyn.  The German Emperor would throw Empress Theophano out on her ear to get his hands on this Porphyrogennetos princess, I don’t care how fine a fock she is.”

“I also know that they would expect me to convert to Christianity in order to marry this girl, and, while I might consider converting to become co-Emperor of the World, I’m certainly not going to convert for a piece of ass, I don’t care what kind of children she provides me with.”

“It was just a passing thought,” Magistrate Kalokyras said.  “How can we end this present mess we are in, my friend?”

“If you surrender,” Sweyn started, “I’ll only enslave a quarter of your citizens, not the usual half.”

“I’m under orders from the Emperor not to surrender on pain of losing my head,” Kalokyras answered.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Sweyn said.  “We’ll offer you sanctuary in Gardar for as long as you want.  I promise you, we’ll never turn you over to the Romans and we’ll take fine care of you, villas, fine food and wine,” and Sweyn offered him some Champagne and Khavayar, “and the most beautiful Swedish slave girls…”

“I can’t, my friend.  What would you think of me if I did?”

“Remember when we were in Wallachia, fighting the Ghost Regiment and you told me you were an administrator and not a warrior?”

“I remember that and I wish, to this day, that I would have run off in the night.  Then, at least, I wouldn’t be shitting my bed at night!”  And they laughed and understood as only veterans of the Battle of the Army of the Impalers would.

“Then don’t die over this foolishness,” Sweyn pleaded.  “You’re still just a magistrate, an administrator.  Don’t die upon this hill called Cherson.”

“You’re making shitting the bed sound like a positive outcome.  Thank you, Sweyn.  Now I feel much better about having to wear brown pyjamas,” and they laughed again.  “I’ve enjoyed the wine, my king,” Kalokyras said, “and the Khazar Vayar.  The world owes your father, King Ivar ‘the Boneless’, a debt of gratitude for bringing us Khavayar.”

“Goodbye, my friend,” Sweyn said.  “I hope some good comes out of all this.”  And they both rode away in their respective directions.  The Greeks enjoyed a full day of reprieve from the barrage, but it resumed the next day.

After a month of siege, Prince Erik arrived in Cherson Bay and surveyed the damage.  The walls had been knocked down some, but repairs were being made at night so, progress was slow.  That night Erik rode towards the city gate, accompanied by Sweyn, Valdamar and a cohort of cavalry and he took out his bow and he placed a rocket propelled arrow on his string and he lit the fuse with a fireplug he held in his teeth.  He shot the arrow up above the city and it exploded and the sparks showered down into the city.

“It won’t do any good,” Sweyn said.  “The houses are all made of brick and the roofs are all clay tiles.  No wood, no straw.”

Erik had them all wait there for a half hour and they discussed strategy while they waited for something, and then a rocket propelled arrow flew out of the city and exploded over their position.  “You don’t think I only have spies in Constantinople, do you?” Erik asked, taking a torch from one of the officers.  He searched the dry ground for something and he soon found the arrow shaft with a message rolled around it.  It was written in Greek and said, ‘The water supply to the city comes via underground pipes from springs in the hills south.  Dig down, cut off pipes, city falls in three days.’

The next day, Erik and the cohort rode south and found the springs and then dug down just beyond the pools and they smashed the clay pipes that ran to Cherson.  The city surrendered in three days.  “You should have accepted my terms,” King Sweyn said to Magistrate Kalokyras.  “Then only a quarter of your citizens would be bound for Baghdad instead of half.  You could have saved twenty thousand Greeks and Romans a fate of slavery.”

“I had my orders,” Kalokyras said.

“My other offer still stands, my friend,” Sweyn said, looking over to Prince Erik.  “A villa in Tmutorokan, fine wines and food and Slav slave girls.”

“Thank you,” the magistrate replied.  “I’ll take you up on your offer, since my other offer leaves me shortened by a head.”

The Hraes’ occupied the city and began the slave selection process.  There was no raping and there was no pillaging.  The slavers of Kiev and Tmutorokan were there within days and they sorted out the women first, mothers with virgin daughters were penned together and women of concubine quality were penned together and then women of skill and then housekeepers were penned up.  Children were then penned up, a group who were suitable for use of a sexual nature, those who could be used for fine crafts and those who might be purchased for adoption.  All babies would be sent to Kiev to be raised and trained as foundling slaves.  Then the men were penned up, handsome young men and boys of concubine quality for those of that persuasion, young men to be castrated for the slave armies of the east and older men with skills.  Slaving was a brutal business, but there was only one profession that was older and it was equally brutal.  But the Hraes’ were following the ancient laws of the Aesir Vikings and the Vanir Romans and this fate fell on only half the population and the other half were allowed to live as they normally would, paying their taxes as they normally would, only to new oppressors instead of the old.  Most conquerors subjected all their vanquished to slavery or worse.  While all this was going on, an envoy arrived from the Emperors in Constantinople asking for terms for the return of Cherson.  Prince Valdamar had heard of the offer that Magistrate Kalokyras had recommended to his father and he asked the envoys, “What is the name of the available sister of the Emperors?”  And they answered, “Anna Porphyrogennetos.”

Prince Valdamar told his father and Erik that he wanted to marry this Anna Porphyrogennetos and he explained why, “You have been fighting for years to gain a throne of Rome,” he started, looking at his father, “but that throne is located in Constantinople and is subject to the whims of the mob there.  By marrying Anna Porphyrogennetos, I can take the throne of Rome to Kiev with me, and it will be subject to the whims of me!  Every king and prince in Europe will want to marry my offspring by this Porphyrogennetos just to get the blood of the Emperors flowing through their family lines.  While sitting upon the throne of Rome would be great, eventually you’ll be poisoned or killed by the mob or murdered by some Armenian general, but through Anna, the throne will always flow through me and my offspring by her, and other kings will seek to befriend me and marry my offspring in alliance instead of defeating me in order to depose me.  This will be a great thing for the Hraes’.  You have fought hard to become king of Denmark, but all my offspring will be Caesars when they rule.  They will be Czars of the Hraes’!”

“Are you willing to convert to Christianity?” Sweyn asked.  “Because this will be a requirement.  I’d do it for the throne, but not for a woman.”

“I’ll do it for a woman and a throne,” Valdamar said.  “A throne I can take with me anywhere because the throne will be our children.”

“I think Prince Valdamar is showing great foresight here,” Prince Erik said.  “I have foreseen the fall of Rome and the death of the last Emperor Constantine far in the future and it is the Hraes’ that carry on the bloodline of the Porphyrogennetos.  The sacking and plundering of Constantinople is much worse than what has happened here in Cherson.  Raping and pillaging is allowed for three full days before all surviving citizens are gathered up and sold into slavery.  The desert tents of the conquerors are full of the beautiful young girls and boys of Byzantium and the only Roman law of conquest followed is the allowance of ransoming and only when it garners the conquerors greater profits than slavery.

“All that is required now is preliminary baptism, and Prince Valdamar can fall away once, just as your mother, Empress Helga did, and he can get final baptism years later if desired.  Once the blood of Augustus is in our line, there’s no way of getting it out, no matter what religion we may follow.”

So, it was decided to follow Magistrate Kalokyras’ advice and ask for the hand of Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos in return for Cherson, including the conversion of Prince Valdamar to Christianity if required.  But the counteroffer that came back from Constantinople asked for much more.  The Emperors asked that all of Hraes’ be converted to Orthodox Christianity and they asked that the two Hraes’ legions return to Anatolia the following summer and finish the job they had started.  After much debate, a revised offer was sent to Rome whereby the official religion of the Hraes’ would be Orthodox Christianity but there would be no forced conversions and that the two Hraes’ legions would be available to the Romans, but the Hraes’ princes might not be available to lead them and that qualified and approved Roman officers might have to be substituted as required.  Armenian generals need not apply.

The revised offer was accepted by the Emperors and they requested the immediate return of Cherson, which was, of course, rejected.  Princess Anna was to marry Prince Valdamar in Cherson and the city would be returned following the wedding festivities.  Until then, Cherson would be subject to the ancient Roman rules of conquest, including the ransoming of citizens from the half selected for slavery.  The half selected for freedom would be allowed to return to their homes and carry on under Hraes’ rule or would be provided transport to Constantinople if desired.  The marriage was proposed to take place after Prince Valdamar and his legions finished putting down the Anatolian revolt the following summer, should such revolt actually occur.

Prince Erik kept his word to Magistrate Kalokyras and provided him with a villa in Tmutorokan and even agreed to his revised request for his slave girls to be Greeks of Cherson and not Slav.  Prince Valdamar and the magistrate went shopping together in the slave pens that had been set up within the public buildings of Cherson.  It was a special dispensation, as no slaves would be publicly sold in Cherson, but were to be taken only to Constantinople for sale.  The Emperors had requested that no Orthodox Christian subjects would be sold in the Muslim slave markets of Baghdad, but only in the Christian slave markets of Byzantium.  Prince Valdamar took this opportunity to shop for some Roman princesses that were not Porphyrogennetos for concubines before they could be ransomed and Magistrate Kalokyras used it as an opportunity to exact revenge on some local dynastic families that had given him trouble over the years.  While Valdamar chose for himself a dozen Roman princesses based solely upon their beauty, Kalokyras selected three Roman princesses based solely upon their family names.  Prince Valdamar took his dozen princesses directly to the Governors Palace that the Hraes’ princes now occupied and he introduced them to his ‘pink monster’ and Magistrate Kalokyras took his three Roman princesses to his new villa in Tmutorokan and introduced them to his sado-masochistic whip, placing them in a row upon his bed and whipping and then raping them sequentially.  This would turn out to be a mistake, as the three girls would manage to get messages out to their families and Magistrate Kalokyras was soon to be officially found guilty of treason for telling the Hraes’ about the water supply source of Cherson and how it might be cut off.  It was Prince Erik’s spy who had secretly sent off this information, but there was a question of what Kalokyras and Prince Sweyn had talked about in a pavilion outside the gates of Cherson and three powerful family dynasties of the city claimed that the meeting was the source of the leak and demanded the return of their daughters and the imprisonment of the magistrate for trial in Constantinople.  Prince Erik refused the request, but Kalokyras panicked and took his three princesses by ship to Anatolia and found Bardas Skleros there and joined in the planning of his revolt.  Bardas Skleros saw three good reasons for letting the magistrate join his rebellion and Kalokyras shared his newly acquired slave girls with Bardas and his officers.

Prince Erik and King Sweyn were drinking and dining in the hall of the Governors Palace and they could hear the second floor humping going on with Prince Valdamar and his new Roman princess wives and, because it had been going on for days, Erik asked Sweyn if this was a normal occurrence or were the princesses just excessively appealing.

“The same thing happened at my longhall in Lade,” Sweyn explained.  “I gave him and his three Polish princesses a second floor master suite and the constant thumping drove my wife, Alfled, crazy.  She tried to quiet them down by taking some wine up to them and, when she knocked on the door, Valdamar answered it and he stood before her naked with a monstrous hard-on, and it was so large, she just stared at it the whole time she passed him the tray of wine, and she swore to me that it grew even larger as she stared.  After that she got in the habit of taking him a tray of wine each afternoon just to get a look at the monster.  I didn’t mind because at least she complained less about the noise of all that humping going on overhead.

“When he got himself three local Norwegian princesses as well, I ended up enlarging the main floor master suite for him and his six wives to cut down on the noise, so, Alfled thought it best I tell him about the move while she took him up his afternoon wine.  She knocked and he opened the door and there stood his ‘pink monster’, as he liked to call it, and it was huge.  I averted my eyes, but Alfled just stared directly at it the whole time I told him about the move, and I think it did grow larger as she stared because it was as big as the member on any Viking horse I’ve ever seen.  It’s not the size of a Percheron’s, but it’s as big as any Viking horse.”

“Viking horses may be small,” Erik stated, “but their cocks are pretty large.”

“I kid you not,” Sweyn said.  “It’s as big as any Viking horse’s!”

“And he calls it the ‘pink monster’?”

“There’s a story behind that, too,” Sweyn confirmed, “that I’ll share with you some other time, but I think we may have to move Valdamar and his wives to the main floor here.”

“There aren’t any main floor bedrooms here,” Erik responded.  “It’s a Roman palace.”

“There’s the library,” Sweyn offered.  “It’ll give you an excuse to move all their Latin books to Gardariki.  I know you’re just dying to do it!”

“That’s a great idea!” Erik told his grandson.  “I’ll even pay for the renovations.”

“Can I leave you with that then?” Sweyn asked.  “I want to leave for Denmark this afternoon.”

“Sure,” Erik said.  “Can you say hi to Princess Serah for me when you stop in Kiev?” Erik asked, and he gave Sweyn a wink.

“I always do,” Sweyn said.

The next day Prince Erik had his men begin removing books from the palace library.  There were many very valuable old books and ancient scrolls on the shelves along the walls of the large room.  Tables and chairs were taken out, fine woolen carpets were taken up, and the whole room was converted into a master bedroom suite.

The Prince went through and catalogued all the volumes that were being crated up for a short sea voyage to Gardariki and his palace there.  Erik had some of the crates set aside in the large room next to the library conversion so that he could go through some volumes more thoroughly.  He wanted the construction expedited, for all in the palace could hear the pounding and the moans of pleasure of Prince Valdamar and his dozen new wives, but the conversion was dragging on like a siege.  The Prince had a big brass bed brought into his office so he could sleep in the room as well and he was burning the candle at both ends cataloguing volumes.  He would light a candle early in the morning and he’d set aside volumes and he was always studying them by candlelight at day’s end.

The library conversion was completed before Erik had finished his cataloguing, so Prince Valdamar and his wives moved into their ground floor suite while The Prince was still working in the office next door.  The erotic cries and moans only got worse when Valdy moved into the completed master suite, for then only Erik could hear the sensuous sounds and it didn’t help that he had started reading ‘The Poems of Sappho’, nine volumes, ten thousand lines of both hetero and homo sexual ancient erotic verse.  He put down the volumes and took up a scroll by Valerius Maximus called Brevit Wit.  Prince Erik was an Alchemist, with foresight both fore and aft, and he knew that a future bard would steal the works of Maximus and coin the phrase, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’, but the Romans were briefer still with their ‘Brevit wit’.  He wished mournfully that his grandson could be more terse with his wives and their lovemaking.  Either Valdy was going to have to slow down or he was going to have to speed up the cataloguing process.

After a few days he could stand it no longer and he went down to one of the Hraes’ slave compounds holding female captives and he studied a list of potential candidates he had gotten from Magistrate Kalokyras and he interviewed a dozen beautiful young Greek and Roman royal women and he picked out three who were well educated in Classics and carried the blood of the Caesars and he bought them and took them back to his palace office and they began cataloguing volumes together.  The three women sped up the process of cataloguing the library’s volumes significantly and they worked all day next to Prince Valdamar’s noisy master suite and, during breaks, Prince Erik would offer them a new drink he would brew for them.  “It is called tea and we have just started importing it from Cathay,” he explained.  “I prefer it black, but it may be sweetened with honey,” and he offered each of the girls a dollop of fresh local honey.  The Roman royals all loved the honeyed variety and it even seemed to speed up their work and the pleasantness of doing it.

In the evening Prince Erik began lighting candles at the latter end of the day.  When the room full of crates was lit up again, the three Roman women got back to work cataloguing, but The Prince interrupted them and led them by candlestick around a wall of crates to his big brass bed sitting in the corner.

“It’s bedtime,” he said as he broke out his protection kit.  “Are you all okay with one lambskin glove?  Or do you each want your own individual protection.”

“All three of us?” the women gasped in unison.  “We mean,” one began, “are you going to make love to all three of us?”  They all realized that they were his concubines, but they feared the elder prince may have bitten off more than he could chew.

“I have six wives in Gardariki,” The Prince reassured them.  “Let’s ‘make this happen’, if you so please.”

They all got up early and did more cataloguing before breakfast.  They ate in the palace dining hall with Valdamar and his wives and they bathed together in the palace baths, but , mostly, they catalogued and crated books, drank tea, and catalogued scrolls for the next week.

There were a number of volumes that The Prince wanted crated in a manner in which he could take them to Baghdad and Ashaval and Mumba with him for further study and research with experts he knew of in those places and the volumes were as follows:

1 Sibylline Books

The ancient Roman leaders consulted these oracular sayings during political crises for perhaps 900 years.  The originals were burned in 83 B.C. and the official copies were allegedly destroyed by a 5th-century Roman general who feared that invading Visigoths would use them.  The Cherson library copies were unofficial but the introduction claimed they were accurate.

2 The Poems of Sappho

In the 6th century B.C. Sappho composed nine volumes, 10,000 lines of often erotic and lesbian poetry, and this most famous daughter of Lesbos was a revered lyric poet of erotic love.

3 Aeschylus’ Achilleis

The famed Greek dramatist’s (c. 525-456 B.C.) tragic trilogy ‘Achilleis’ reframed the Trojan War as a parallel with contemporary Athenian democracy.

4 Panchatantra

This collection of beloved Indian animal fables, written as early as 100 B.C., was in the original Sanskrit language script.

5 The Avesta of Zoroaster

The Avesta was the holy book of ancient Persia’s monotheistic creed, first preached by the prophet Zoroaster, and Zoroastrianism was the original one true God religion that the other ‘followers of the book’ followed, including the Jews and their Hebrew Bible.  The copy in the Cherson library was the sole copy to survive the last complete burning of Avesta manuscripts when the Vanir Alexander ‘the Great’ conquered Persepolis in 330 B.C.

6 Ibn Al-Haytham’s Dissertation

This young Baghdad born mathematician, astronomer and physicist, whose work on optics in the Arabic, interested Erik and he wanted to study the dissertation on optical scopes within its pages in his travels.

7 The Aeneid by Ennius

The Aeneid is one of the greatest poems ever written, but Erik had only read Virgil’s account and wanted to peruse Ennius’s Annals, which Virgil was known to have imitated and adapted throughout.

8 The Odyssey by Livius

Livius Andronicus’s Latin translation of the Odyssey, which was traditionally regarded as the earliest Roman poetic text, was also the earliest literary text in any culture known to have been translated from another language, the Greek.

9 Claudius: The Histories, Tuscany, Carthage and Athens

The Emperor Claudius’s histories of Carthage and of the Etruscans, covered important peoples about whom so little was now known.  The volumes included Claudius’s Etruscan-Latin Dictionary which preserved the Etruscan language that had been dead for hundreds of years.

10 The Memoirs of Sulla

The dictator Sulla’s memoirs covered the last years of the Roman Republic and clarified the events that took place during Cicero’s lifetime as transcribed by Cicero himself.

11 The Histories of Asinius Pollio

Asinius Pollio’s histories also broadened perceptions of the last years of the Roman Republic.  Erik knew these volumes held information that would interest Sweyn.

12 Antiquities of Human and Divine Affairs by Varro

Varro’s Antiquities of Human and Divine Affairs, a vast store of information about Roman civilization, both religious and secular would also help Sweyn re-establish the Vanir Roman religion within the Empire once he gained his co-Emperorship.

13 Ovid: The Complete Works

Ovid’s single tragedy, the Medea, was one important work that Erik had not yet read. This particularly poignant work had been praised by Quintilian, who had a generally low opinion of Ovid, but who declared that the Medea showed what Ovid was capable of.

14 The Lying Histories of Cremutius Cordus

Erik found that one set of The Lying Histories of Cremutius Cordus, which were burned by order of the senate when he was forced to commit suicide in AD 25, had somehow survived and Erik dearly wanted it in his Gardariki library because his own family history was set to suffer a similar fate.

15 The Memoirs of Agrippina the Younger

The memoirs of Agrippina the Younger would help Sweyn fill in some conspicuous lacunas of the contemporary records of the early Empire.

16 Handbook on Throwing Javelins While Riding Bareback by Pliny ‘the Scientist’

The handbook on throwing javelins from horseback, written by Pliny ‘the Scientist’ on the wild German frontier was a volume totally unfamiliar to Erik.  He had found it in almost mint condition and it looked to be an original volume because Pliny was called ‘the Scientist’ and not by his later byname, ‘the Elder’.  Erik always thought of Pliny as the bumbling scientific type who didn’t know enough to come in from the ash that was raining down from Mount Vesuvius, but he knew that Pliny was working to stop the Vesuvius eruption, only Roman concrete was not a viable way to effect that and it cost the Head Scientist of the Roman Empire his life, learning that hard lesson.  But if Pliny knew how to expound upon the proper throwing of a javelin while riding on a cavalry mount, well, Erik had just gained a lot more respect for the man, especially doing it on the dangerous German frontier.

17 Biographies of the Emperors by Marius Maximus

The volumes covered the biographies of the emperors, from Hadrian to Elagabalus, by the mysterious Marius Maximus, a missing link between Suetonius and the bizarre imaginings preserved in the Historia Augusta.  Erik thought that Sweyn would love this collection.

18 The Complete Histories of Valerius Maximus

Erik had already read it and had a set of volumes in his library, but he was going to give it to Prince Raj in Ashaval as a gift.

19  Aristarchus’s Astronomical Treatise

Erik knew that the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Aristarchus of Samos was far ahead of the astronomical ideas of his time by claiming that the Sun-centered planetary model was correct.  Aristarchus summarized his visionary insight in the book that looked as though it had come from the Alexandrian Library in Egypt.  His premises led to the result that the universe was many times greater than that now thought and his hypothesis was that the stars were fixed and the Sun remained unmoved, while the Earth revolved about the Sun in the circumference of a circle, the Sun lying in the middle of the orbit.

20  Eratosthenes’s On The Measurement Of The Earth

Eratosthenes (276–195 BC) was an ancient Greek Alexandrian scholar renowned for his knowledge of mathematics and geography and the book was his treatise on the measurement of the Earth, where he estimated the circumference of the planet based on the distances between different locations and the length of shadows cast by obelisks.  Eratosthenes had calculated the earth’s circumference to be 250,000 stadia, about 25,000 Roman miles, which was pretty close compared with Erik’s own calculations he’d made using obelisks quite similar to those the Greek had used.

21  Charvaka Texts

The notion that India was always a deeply spiritual place was challenged early on by an ancient philosophical school known as Charvaka, one of the most materialistic, almost Viking, movements of all times.  The Charvaka school undermined the core beliefs of traditional religion in India. The origin of the Charvaka school dated back to around the seventh century BC.  It claimed that everything is made of earth (solids), water (liquids), air (gases), and fire (plasma or energy).  What cannot be perceived through the senses does not exist.  Heaven and hell are human inventions, and the true purpose of religious practices is to provide a good living for the priests.  Erik wanted to read the volumes to see just how close it was to his own observations, especially the part akin to priests ploughing furrows in their altar boys and parishioners as was happening in Angleland so frequently, even the Anglish historians were complaining of it in their annals.

22  The Institutes by Gaius

The Institutes, a legal textbook written by the Roman jurist Gaius in 161 AD, was the most substantial legal work from early Roman times and would be required reading for Sweyn as an Emperor.

23  The Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) by Lucretius

The long, six-volume poem was both heretical and revolutionary because it preserved key parts of the lost thought of ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, whose reputation at the time was as a glutton, an indulger in vices and an atheist, which might appeal to young Valdamar.

24  Lives of Famous Whores by Suetonius

The papyrus scrolls of Suetonius of Herculaneum included the lives of very famous Roman whores and courtesans which Valdamar might also find appealing.

Once Prince Erik and his Roman women had completed cataloguing the full library, he asked the astute young Roman princesses if they wished to remain in Cherson as part of the free citizenry that were to stay in the city or if they would prefer to come with him to Tmutorokan and hold favoured posts in the library of his palace in Gardariki.  The three young girls looked between each other apprehensively and did not look like they wanted to leave their native City of Cherson.  “Perhaps we should sleep on it,” The Prince told them and he led them, once more, to the big brass bed in the corner of the office and they had sex till the wee hours of the morning.

When Magistrate Kalokyras had offered to take Prince Valdamar down to the Hall of Slaves in which the Roman royals were being kept, The Prince had suspected something was up, and when they returned with their fifteen beautiful young princesses, Erik saw right away that the magistrate had chosen three girls that were each the daughters of some very powerful Roman families that had crossed Kalokyras on numerous occasions while he was Governor of Cherson.  When Prince Erik warned his friend, the governor, that vengeance was a dish best served cold, Kalokyras agreed but countered, “Young Roman princesses such as these can only be served up hot!” and he offered The Prince a list of potential Porphyrogennetos princesses that he knew were living in and around Cherson.  There were almost a dozen names on the list and when he’d checked them against the inventory in the Hall of Slaves that held all royals, six of them were being held withing its cold marble walls.

Kalokyras did not have to tell Erik how he had come into possession of the list.  As governor, he would have had access to it for the state purpose of monitoring those Purple Families.  The Eastern Roman Empire was full of such families, Papered Purples they were called, and they could all trace their family lines back to the first Emperor, Augustus Caesar, who had died in 14 AD.  There were thousands of them through out the Empire and they all received favoured positions and preferential treatment.  In the true Vanir Roman fashion, Augustus had married one primus and several consort wives and numerous concubine wives and they all bore him children and the concubine children were all born free and were papered to prove their royal statuses and their lines flourished under the preferred conditions in which they lived.  When Constantinople was established as the New Rome, east of Rome, the Papered Purples all followed the Emperor east and were dispersed through out the Eastern Empire.  Cherson had been Roman for a long time and the city received its share of white elephants to care for.  The official list of Papered Purples would have been burned with all sensitive official documents torched just before the fall of Cherson, but Kalokyras knew the value of such a list of papered purple princesses and he had made his own copy, which he had given to Erik, in order to keep the three princesses that he had chosen.  The fact that none of the names on the list were of the three princesses he had chosen, told Erik how much Kalokyras despised the families of the three young Roman girls, and he suspected that the three beautiful females would, indeed, be served up hot.  But Erik made the deal with Kalokyras anyway and he promised him that he would only take them away voluntarily.  If his grandson, Prince Valdamar, was going to win himself an Official Porphyrogennetos Princess, then he would have to get himself three unofficial ones.

First thing the next morning, Prince Erik got up and brewed some Cathayan tea for his three beautiful young purple princesses and as they sat around their table he offered them some honey to sweeten their tee with.  “It is a special honey we are developing just for tea,” he explained, “so it might taste a bit different than the local Chersonese honey.”  And the girls all were excited to try something new and, of course, Erik always drank his tea black.  As they drank their tea, the girls all began explaining why they all preferred to stay in Cherson with their families who were already making arrangements to ransom them.  And they all were a bit afraid of living in Tmutorokan because they’d heard it was very Greek.

The Prince offered them some more Cathayan tea with the new Kievan honey and as they drank he told them, “You won’t be living in Tmutorokan.  We’ll all be living in Gardariki, my very Roman city in Tmutorokan.”

“Is that the Gardariki where Princess Gunwar died fighting the Huns of Attila?” the youngest of the Roman princesses asked.

“Can we return to Cherson if we wish later?” the eldest princess asked.

When Erik replied ‘yes’ to both inquiries, all three Roman princesses answered ‘yes’ to their move to Gardariki.  Their families protested, of course, and tripled the ransoms required, but by then, the three beautiful young Roman princesses were under the spell and complete control of Prince Erik, the Alchemist, cum Warlock.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

19.0  PRINCESS ANNA PORPHYROGENNETOS  (Circa 989-990 AD)

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18.    “Our hands shall hold           the hard spear shafts,

            weapons gory:          Awake, Frodi!

                        Awake, Frodi,            if listen though wilt

                        to our olden songs,              to our ancient lore.

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(989 AD)  Hraes’ Exeyes officers that had implanted themselves in The Varangian Guard of Constantinople had been tasked with the job of piecing together what exactly had happened on Emperor Basil’s disastrous military excursion into Bulgaria in 986.  The Guard had not been involved with the military operation, having been replaced by an elite Armenian cavalry regiment, but the Hraes’ princes wanted the full story and they had managed to put together the Roman version of the campaign.

In August of 986, the Emperor Basil mustered his troops and marched against the Mysian Bulgarians, for the arrogant Bulgars had lost fear of the Romans, now that Prince Svein was no longer in alliance with them, and they had for years been harassing Roman territory and mercilessly plundering Macedonia.  The Emperor was roused to great anger and hastened to destroy them at the first assault, but he was deceived by fickle fortune, for after he had traversed the narrow and steep mountain tracks and reached the vicinity of Sardica or Sofia, which the Hraes’ were accustomed to call Triaditza, he set up camp there for the army and settled down and kept watch over the city for twenty days.  But he was not able to accomplish anything since the army had not brought proper siege equipment such as trebuchets with them.  The Bulgarians ambushed them first, when they left the camp for forage and fodder, and killed many of them, and carried off a large number of their pack animals and horses.  Then, after the siege machines and the other contrivances accomplished nothing, because of the antiquity of the equipment and the inexperience of the men who brought them up against the walls, the catapults were set on fire by the enemy, and when lack of supplies began to overwhelm the army, he and the army packed up and headed back for Constantinople.  After marching all day, they pitched camp in a thicket for the night.  The next day, then, the army was traversing a wooded defile, which was full of caves, and as soon as they passed through it they came to steep terrain, filled with gullies.  Here the Bulgars attacked the Romans, killing huge numbers of men and seizing the imperial headquarters, and plundering the army’s baggage train.  An elite Armenian mounted regiment had managed to save the Emperor and fight their way out of the fallen headquarters and they galloped off with him quickly before the enemy closed off a steep slope and cut off any retreat.  The remains of the army were trapped and slaughtered and almost all of the twenty thousand legionnaires that Basil had led into Bulgaria died there.

The Armenian regiment returned with the Emperor to Roman territory, but the Bulgarians, on realizing that the Emperor had escaped their ambush, set off after him and would have caught up to him had they not learned that Hraes’ cataphracts from Prince Svein’s mobile legions had reached the Emperor first.  So, the Bulgarians turned north and east and recaptured much of Bulgaria that had been taken by the Hraes’ and was then stolen by the Romans.

Eventually even Bardas Skleros heard about the disaster that had transpired in Bulgaria and he left the Caliphate for Cappadocia Province in Anatolia, and Magistros Bardas Phokas rebelled against the Emperors and defeated the Roman forces in Asia and captured all the ports and towns along the coast except for Abydos; and after hauling numerous triremes onto shore, he kept guard over the straits of the Hellespont, and did not allow cargo ships to proceed to the imperial city; and he established most of his army, under the command of Magistros Leo Melissenos, on land near Abydos, to protect their own triremes and to besiege Abydos.  Then he erected a secure palisaded encampment opposite Constantinople on the hill of Chrysopolis, and dispatched there large numbers of cavalry and infantry, and appointed as commanders of this army his brother, Patrikios Nikephoros Phokas and Magistrate Kalokyras, surnamed Delphinas, who had joined the rebellion after fleeing the Hraes’ who had just recently sacked the city of Cherson.

Emperor Basil crossed the Bosporos with a sufficient force and defeated these men in a pitched battle and took them prisoner.  Nikephoros Phokas, the brother of Bardas Phokas, was put in fetters and confined in prison, whereas Magistrate Kalokyras Delphinas was tried on the spot, for he had his three new Roman wives in the camp with him and had been sharing them with Nikephoros and his other officers and the girls complained to the Emperor about their terrible treatment at his hands and the Emperor had Kalokyras hanged from a gallows pole right there on the hill of Chrysopolis, where his tent was pitched and where his wives had been defiled and he died on that hill while his concubine wives watched in muted delight.  When Bardas Phokas heard about the destruction of his brother’s army at Chrysopolis, and the capture and imprisonment of his brother and the hanging of Kalokyras Delphinas on a gallows pole, he mustered his main army and went to Abydos, to take the fortress there by siege and cross over to Europe so he could conquer it too.  But the Emperor Basil learned about the usurper’s march on Abydos, and, after assembling his army and fitting out the Greek-fire-bearing triremes, got ready to oppose him at Sestos, just across the Hellespont.  They pitched the Imperial pavilion on the plain across from Abydos, and the Emperor drew up his troops daily and drilled them and he debated with his generals how they should attack the larger force of rebels.

(April 13 989 AD)  One night, the two Hraes’ mobile legions of King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar landed on the coast of Asia, just east of Abydos and they camped a short distance from the rebel camp outside of Abydos.  Prince Valdamar wanted to attack them that night, but King Sweyn reminded him that night attacks were forbidden by both Aesir and Vanir martial codes so, they rested until early morning and then the father and son rode out with hazel poles and marked the proposed field of battle directly across the strait from where Emperor Basil and his legions were camped.  King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar waited with a cohort of heavy cavalry while a cohort of regular cavalry rode out from the rebel camp, led by Bardas Phokas and Bardas Skleros.  They adjusted the poles a little further apart due to their larger force of thirty thousand men and they knew their adjustment was accepted when the Hraes’ leaders rode away.

Sweyn and Valdamar put the Kievan Seventh Mobile Legion on the right and the Tmutorokan Ninth Mobile Legion on the left, with the foot soldiers placed in three ranks backed by Valkyries and with the heavy cavalry regiments on their respective flanks.  The spare horses and pack animals were gathered behind the Valkyries.  While the legions were forming up, Hraes’ transport warships were rowing up the small river that ran behind where the legions were forming up.  Sweyn had not selected the battlefield because it would be convenient for the Emperor to watch, the distance across the strait being far too distant for viewing, even with optical scopes, but because of the little river that ran to the sea there.  It was barely deep enough and wide enough for the warships, but it allowed them to form up in a long line behind the troops and, on each ship were mounted two gravity trebuchets that were turned broadsides toward the battlefield.

At first Bardas Phokas had thought the Emperor had brought his troops across the Hellespont to fight him, but when the saw large Viking longships coming up the river across the battlefield from him, he realized it was Prince Svein’s mobile legions, a totally different army altogether.  His scouts soon came back from the European side of the strait and confirmed that the Emperor’s troops were still at ease on the other side.  Bardas knew he had to defeat the Hraes’ legions before noon so the Emperor wouldn’t have time to help them, but he had a larger force and was confident he could do it.  Phokas formed up his foot soldiers into a marching square that was wide enough to match Sweyn’s foot, but he kept his light cavalry within the square because they were no match for the Hraes’ heavy cavalry.  The foot were equipped with long spears to keep any attacking horse at bay.  They marched from their side of the battlefield and, as they approached, the Hraes’ warships along the little river began to unleash a hail of tonstone projectiles upon the Roman rebels.  The tonstone shot was not that big because of the density of the metal, but it packed a punch at two hundred pounds with a velocity over a hundred miles an hour.  The tonstones crashed into the charging troops and obliterated large swathes of them, sending men and weapons and armour flying hundreds of feet and crushing horse.  The Roman rebels stopped their assault and withdrew out of trebuchet range, maintaining discipline as they fell back.  Bardas Phokas saw activity on the opposite coast of the Hellespont and he knew the Emperor was gathering up aid.  Fire breathing dromons were being roused awake for attack.  He knew he could not afford to lose time at the cost of saving lives so, he ordered his troops back into the fray and they charged back into the trebuchet barrage.  Men were again flying and horses were falling as they dashed across the plain, but soon the tonstones were replaced with a hail of rocket propelled footbow arrows followed by footbow arrows and then rocket propelled handbow arrows and finally handbow arrows for which they had answering volleys.  By the time the two army shield walls crashed, the rebels manpower advantage was gone and the square formation they’d been forced to employ kept a lot of their men out of the fight while they held shields and spears to keep the flanking heavy cavalry at bay.  And their spears weren’t enough to keep the heavy cavalry out of the fray.  The Hraes’ horse were all equipped with Turkish horn bows and they used them with deadly accuracy, pelting the rear facing troops of the square with a waxing rain of arrows that flew amongst the troops like wasps, hard to keep away and biting in their stings.

While the land battle was boiling away, a sea battle was brewing as the Emperor’s three hundred fire-breathing dromons crossed the strait and began spewing venomous flames upon the beached triremes of the rebels, who had not left enough marines at the ships with whom to launch a counterattack.  They could only fire catapults from the beached ships and only if the firebreathers swept by in range so, triremes burned on shore and marines ran about them like burning human candles and when Sweyn watched the spectacle he swore he could smell burning flesh and it reminded him of Ramnic in Wallachia.  When Sweyn had last been in Kiev with Serah he had learned that she had just paid for the upgrading of the horse armour of a Kievan cataphract regiment so, he commandeered the old horse armour and he now had his Valkyries affixing the armour to the spare horse assembled behind them so, when he judged the rebel square to be sufficiently fragmented, he called back some of the heavy horse for fresh mounts and they suddenly became cataphracts.  They rode back out into the fray and charged across one far corner of the square, breaking up the shieldwall for the following heavy cavalry and when they rode free of that corner, they charged through the next corner, breaking up that shieldwall for another regiment of heavy cavalry and the Roman light horse within the square panicked and rode out to be slaughtered by the third regiment of heavy cavalry.

Bardas Phokas, astounded by the sudden heavy attack, sallied forth from the safety of his vanguard, and was dismounted by a cataphract knight and, as he fell from his horse, his neck was severed by his own sword.  The group of mounted knights that had followed him out from the vanguard broke and ran for it as their army began disintegrating behind them.  They were the only ones that escaped capture, for most threw down their arms within the hazel poles and they were bent over their shields and their surrender was taken, while those who attempted to flee beyond the poles were slaughtered by the cavalry.

Emperor Basil and his forces soon landed outside the walls of Abydos and he relieved the siege of the city and claimed the victory for himself.  He had the gigantic body of Bardas Phokas buried in the earth at Abydos, while his head was sent on to Constantinople, fixed on a spear, to be paraded triumphantly through the streets, along with the city criers who went before it to announce the news of the great victory.

“Your rebellion has been put down!” King Sweyn told the Emperor before the walls of Abydos.  “This is the wrong rebellion,” the Emperor replied.  “This is the body of Bardas Phokas we bury.  You have been paid to put down the rebellion of Bardas Skleros and his body doesn’t seem to be here.”

So, King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar spent another summer searching the whole of Anatolia for Bardas Skleros and accepting the surrender of cities that had supported Bardas Phokas in his rebellion.  The Hraes’ legions would occupy a city after surrender and it was systematically pillaged of valuables.  All gold went to the Emperor, all silver to King Sweyn and Prince Valdamar and all slaves to the Hraes’, who began the slave selection process.  The slavers of Kiev and Tmutorokan were following behind them and, within a day, they sorted out the women they wanted, then the children and then the men.  Because the cities all surrendered, only a quarter of the population was enslaved and ransoms were allowed.  Prince Valdamar used this as an opportunity to expand his bevy of beautiful concubine wives and he added three Roman princesses each from the provinces of Opsikion, Lydia, Pisidia, Boukellarion, Phrygia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Armeniakon and Paphlagonia, twenty seven new wives in total.  He kept the three latest new wives on campaign with him and, when they were replaced with newer wives, the others were sent off to Cherson to await him there.  Valdamar’s campaign pavilion soon became known as the tent of moans.

By the time the trading season was nearly over, Anatolia had been thoroughly searched and Bardas Skleros was nowhere to be found.  King Sweyn had been offering a reward of gold for information leading to the capture of Skleros and he had his spies in Baghdad watching for his return to the Caliphate, but it was as if Bardas had disappeared from the face of the earth.  Then word came from Kiev of all places.  Some of the soldiers who had surrendered and been enslaved at the Battle of Abydos came forward and claimed to be soldiers of Bardas Skleros’ army and they offered to talk for the gold reward if they could use some of it to ransom their freedoms.  Sweyn had them shipped from Kiev and they caught up with Sweyn, Valdamar and the legions in Lykandos, which had just surrendered.  The slavers who brought the six men told Sweyn and Valdamar that the six were being trained to join the eunuch armies of the east and were about to be castrated when they decided to speak up.  They knew where Bardas Skleros was and were ready to talk if it would save their gonads.  Sweyn told them they could ransom themselves for half the gold reward and keep the other half for themselves and, because they had all been officers, he offered them positions in his army.  They accepted the ransom offer but turned down the offer of positions and then they told Sweyn that Bardas Skleros was buried in an unmarked grave outside the city of Caesarea.

Bardas Skleros had been murdered by Bardas Phokas’ men and the followers of the Skleros rebellion had been forced to join the Phokas uprising.  When they got to Caesarea on their way back up through Anatolia, the men took King Sweyn and a cohort of his horse to a deserted location outside of the city and they dug up the body of the general.  King Sweyn gave the men their gold and set them free.  “Follow them!” he told one of his Chapter Twelve officers.  The officer led a squad of cavalry to Caesarea and they observed Skleros’ men buying horses and gear for a ride out in the wilderness somewhere for they had purchased pack horses as well.  They followed the tracks of the men past the location where Skleros had been buried and they rode for two days and came upon the group digging up chests of gold.  The squad of cavalry rode out of their observation place and surrounded the six Skleros men and a dozen chests of gold they had dug up.  The men were bound and the chests were tied to the pack animals and the Hraes’ cavalry squad returned to the Hraes’ camp outside Caesarea with the captives and the gold.  King Sweyn offered the captives positions in his legions once more and they took them, but the positions were now in Novgorod and they were to remain captives until they took their posts there.

“Bardas Skleros captured the gold when he sacked the city of Melitene,” Sweyn told Valdamar.  “Those men are now assigned to the Novgorod Legion, but they must always be watched by our Chapter Twelve officers.  They are never to return to Roman lands!”

“Why?” Valdamar asked.

“Because six of those chests of gold belong to me and the other six belong to you.  If the Skleros men ever come back here and talk too much, Emperor Basil might demand his share, and he’s not a very sharing Emperor.”

“I noticed that!” Valdamar agreed.  “He sure didn’t want to share the victory in Abydos!”

“Considering the victory was solely ours.  All he did was burn up a lot of valuable ships that were ours to take once Bardas Phokas was dead.”

While the gold was being tracked and recovered, Sweyn had taken the body of Bardas Skleros to morticians in Caesarea and he had them preserve it.  It had been buried in the arid desert for a while but it was still in recognizable condition and Sweyn wanted to keep it that way.  Then he had the corpse sealed up in an airtight wooden casket and they took it back to Cherson with them.  King Sweyn bid farewell to Princes Erik and Valdamar there and he sailed north with the merchant fleet to Kiev.  He helped Princess Serah with the tithes and he spent time with her and their new baby and he gave her a chest of gold before he caught up with the fleet and returned to Denmark.

Prince Erik spent some time with Valdamar in Cherson making marriage arrangements with the Romans for the hand of Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos before the next spring trading session.  Emperor Constantine would be bringing his sister to Cherson along with a great retinue of soldiers, bishops, and priests.  Prince Valdamar would receive preliminary baptism prior to the wedding and would be expected to receive final baptism after the first year of marriage.  Once the final baptism was administered then all citizens of Hraes’ would be encouraged to receive preliminary baptism.  Prince Erik’s spies in Constantinople reported that the princess was not looking forward to the marriage, feeling she was being married off to barbarians.

“When Sweyn was a boy, Emperor Constantine was trying to gain the affections of your grandmother, Queen Helga,” Erik told his great grandson, “and she wasn’t too enamoured with the Emperor, so Constantine shamelessly plied Helga with gifts of silks and perfumes and fashions and gold jewellery until your grandmother had no choice but to marry him.”

“Yes,” Valdamar said, “my father has told me of this.  And when they were finally married, a mob gathered in Constantinople and drove Queen Helga and Prince Sweyn out of the city!”

“Well,” Prince Erik said, “some of that shameless generosity must happen over the winter months and King Sweyn shall be consulting with some very gifted healers in Lade who shall be carving love runes for you and Anna and your wedding here in Cherson.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in witchcraft!”

“I don’t, but neither did your father until he saw the spirit of Thorgerder Helgibruder at the Battle of Hjorungavagr last spring!  I personally met the shield maiden Thorgerder well before the Battle of Stiklastad and Sweyn’s description of her looks were too accurate to be mistaken or imagined.”

“Perhaps she’s described such in skaldic poetry and Sweyn subconsciously remembered it when describing her,” Valdamar conjectured.

“I know all the skaldic poems,” Erik ‘Bragi’ stated.  “There are none that describe Thorgerder in the vivid detail that Sweyn saw during the battle.  These healers in Lade are very powerful and we’ll need all the help we can get.”

“Can I send the gifts off from Kiev?” Valdamar asked.  “I have to get back to my wives there.  I have to make up all the lost time my wives endured while I was in Anatolia.  They don’t cut me any slack.  And my new Roman wives here are almost worn out!”

“You have twenty seven Roman wives with you here!” Erik exclaimed.

“I know!” Valdamar replied.  “I should have gotten more while I had the chance.  There were a lot of gorgeous princesses still left in Armeniakon and Paphlagonia.”  Prince Erik shook his head in disbelief.  ‘If this young man ever went to Gujarat with him, he’d never come back,’ Erik thought.  “And in Cappadocia and Phrygia,” Valdamar continued.

“Kiev will be fine!” Erik said, to stop him.  “Constantine sent all his gifts off to Helga in Kiev so, I guess it’s fitting that some gifts be returned to Constantinople from there.”

So Prince Valdamar took his twenty seven new wives to Kiev with him and he made them comfortable together in one of his villas outside the city and he began making love to the wives he’d left behind, determined to get caught up.  But he made time to get a gift off each day to Princess Anna in Constantinople.  He sent her fine silks from Cathay and sables from Permia and fine sparkling wines from Champagne in Frankia and Khavayar preserves from Khazaria and diamond rings from Africa and rubies from India and ancient Sanskrit texts from Gujarat and poetic verses from Persia and he would write little love notes in Sanskrit and Persian and Greek and Latin and Cathayan on his own royal stationery and Anna would have to get some of his notes translated because she couldn’t read Sanskrit or Cathayan and soon she came to think that the Hraes’ were not as barbaric as they were made out to be.  Valdamar described Kiev as a great and beautiful city on par with Cherson and Nicomedia and Caesarea.  Of course, no city matched Constantinople, but Anna would have a clean slate to work with in the attempt.

Prince Erik was helping Valdamar with the finer forms of flattery while he visited Princess Serah in Kiev.  He mentioned that his new son looked a lot like Sweyn and he thought it was good that he was handsome and he worked on putting a daughter into his Khazar wife.  Prince Sweyn had told her to blame him if Erik questioned the paternity of the child but she realized that Prince Erik loved his grandsons more than anybody in the world and that the Hraes’ blood ran deep and thick through the generations and the finer points were of little consequence to the Prince.  He celebrated Yulefest with his wife in Kiev and he had managed to make a baby with Serah, for one had started to blossom within her and she hoped it was another girl.

(989 AD)  King Sweyn and his wives spent Yulefest in Lade with Jarls Haakon and Eirik and King Eric of Sweden brought his wives there as well.  King Sweyn visited with Gudrun in Borsa and his son in Vanvikar and then he went to Hell and visited Emma and Hallveig.  “How long is Irpa supposed to stay in Hallveig?” Sweyn asked Emma.  Hallveig had given birth to quintuplets and she still looked like a goddess and her five warriors still served her and met her every need.  Emma herself had given birth to twins, one Sweyn’s and one Eirik’s but only Emma seemed to know whose was whose.

“It doesn’t usually last this long,” Emma said, “but she does look marvellous!”

“I need you and Hallveig to prepare a love charm for young Prince Valdamar,” Sweyn told her.  “Is Hallveig able to do it?  Or does Irpa control too much of her?”  Sweyn could hear that Hallveig was currently occupied with her five young warriors in her second floor master suite.  The thumping of the second floor had a familiar woof to it and he soon heard Hallveig moaning in ecstasy.  “I thought she preferred women,” Sweyn said, as Emma seemed to be enjoying the orgasmic orchestrations.  “She does,” Emma answered.  “It’s Irpa who prefers men!”  She smiled as Hallveig reached a particularly high level of ecstasy.  ‘You’re jealous!” she told Sweyn.  “Hallveig still loves you, you know.  This is all Irpa!  Most of it anyway.”

“Can she help us?”

“She will, but it will cost you.”

“I have plenty of gold,” Sweyn said.  “How much will she need?”

“It depends.  Tell me what you’re looking for.”  So, Sweyn told her about their conquest of Cherson and their deal to give the city back for the hand of Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos of Constantinople.  “She’s born of the purple,” Sweyn concluded.

“I know what Porphyrogennetos means,” Emma said.  “She has the blood of Augustus Caesar flowing through her veins.  Young northern girls learn all there is to know about princesses, even slave girls.  You never know, one just might find out that one actually is a princess!”

“Tell me about it!” Sweyn said, and he told Emma about his Queen Consort Malfrieda and how she might actually be the daughter of Prince Mall of Dereva.

“If she’s not sure,” Emma said, “then Hallveig could tell her if she is or not.  She just has to lay hands on Malfrieda and Prince Mal and she can tell right away if they are father and daughter.”

“Prince Mal is long dead! Sweyn said.  “Too bad,” Emma replied.  “Any relatives?”

“I don’t think so.  Just her possible mother, but we’re not even sure about that.  And she’s quite mad now, I mean, crazy as hell.”

“If Prince Mal raped her, as you said, then if Hallveig can identify the rape victim as being Malfrieda’s mother, wouldn’t that kinda prove that Prince Mal was her father?”

“You’re smart!” Sweyn exclaimed.  “I don’t care what Hallveig says!”

“What does Hallveig say?” Emma asked.

“I’m just yarding your arm,” Sweyn answered.  “She knows you’re smart, she wouldn’t have bought you otherwise.”

“You’re sweet, Sweyn,” Emma said, stroking his cheek.  “We should be doing some of that,” Sweyn said shrugging towards Hallveig’s bedroom, as she began another bout of ecstasy.  “But we better get back to Valdamar.  Will it be expensive?  We’re not asking her to kill someone.”

“Killing someone is easy,” Emma said.  “You can cut runes and do rites and get inside their heads for a few minutes and they’ve killed themselves.  Love is harder.  You have to get inside their head for between a day and forever, depending on how long you want the love to last.  A day is still harder than a few minutes, but forever is very difficult.”

“Who would want a love charm for a day?” Sweyn asked.  Emma laughed.  “Some men just want to do her and move on!  Others think if they just get a chance to woo her, the woman will fall in love with them.  They just want to get their foot in the door.  Yet others will be satisfied with the first year and a first child to bind them together.  Royals tend to want forever.  They have too much at stake with their marriages, alliances, scions, even true love.  Hallveig has a room here where she keeps track of her forever charms and she has to perform rites over them each year to make sure they last.”

“We would definitely want forever,” Sweyn said.  “There is definitely a lot at stake with this one.  And she’s been getting more and more nervous about the match.  Will that make it harder?”

“No,” Emma said casually.  “She could hate Valdamar.  Once Hallveig gets inside her head it’s like turning a key.  One minute her honey hole is locked, the next minute she’s Valdamar’s personal honey well.  Gods, I’m getting hot!  The children are napping in my room.  Where can we go?” and she looked around the hall.  “I brought my dromon,” Sweyn offered.  “We could go to the cabin.”

“I’ll tell my handmaiden we’re stepping out,” Emma said, and Sweyn gathered up his cloak and weapons as she poked her head into her room and soon, they were running down the dock and leaping aboard his ship.  Sweyn had forgotten how sweet Emma felt when he was inside her.  They made love for an hour and then they rested.  “You’re going to have to fock with me once more before you go,” Emma said sweetly as she rested in his arms.

“How much does Hallveig charge for forever?” Sweyn asked.

“She wants to have a baby with you,” Emma told him.  “Hallveig does, not Irpa.  She told me this recently.”

“We’re kind of related,” Sweyn said.

“Not that closely,” Emma rebutted.  “I told you years ago that you were the only man she ever respected.  She’ll definitely want this as part of her price for forever.”

“Part of her price?” Sweyn said.

“She’ll still want some gold,” she said and then she saw Sweyn shaking his cock as if to say this is gold.  “You’re such a whore!” she said, swatting his arm.  “Did you bring something from Princess Anna?  A lock of hair?  Fingernail parings?”

“I have a lock of her hair,” Sweyn said.  “Don’t ask me how I got it or I’ll have to kill you!”

“Seriously, Hallveig will ask me.”

“My grandfather, Prince Erik, has spies in Constantinople.  They’ve been watching her since the marriage was first brokered.  They watch where she shops, they watch where she studies, they know where she gets her hair done.”

“Prince Hraerik?…Bragi?  Right?  The Bragning Prince who lost his love on the dusty plains of Gardariki?  And avenged her death at the Battle of the Goths and the Huns?”

“The very same,” Sweyn said.  “I see you know your princes as well as princesses.”

“All young Norse girls know of him.  The ultimate prince and princess story!  Did it really happen?”

“Exactly as the tale tells,” Sweyn told her.

“I’d like to meet him just once,” Emma breathed.

“Don’t ever meet your heroes,” Sweyn told her.

“You’re my hero!” Emma said.  “Do you know what they say about you, Sveinald ‘the Brave’ Ivarson?  They say that Prince Hraerik defeated the Huns, but that Prince Sveinald crushed them.  They say that the Roman generals fear you more than any other man alive.”

“But did I avenge the death of a princess?”

“They say that your mother married the Emperor of Rome and when the Roman mob tried to kill her you saved her, you and the Varangian Guard of Constantinople!”

“They say that?” Sweyn said.

“Oh gods!” Emma said.  “Now I’m hot again!”  Sweyn pulled her over to his naked body and kissed her.  “This doesn’t count as the one more time,” he whispered.

That evening, Hallveig sat upon her highchair in the middle of her highseat hall as her chantreusses chanted and danced in a circle about her.  The torches flickered as spirits entered the hall and left.  She was in much closer contact with the spirit world now that she had a part of Irpa still inside her.  The spirits she was calling upon this night were much gentler than the shield maiden spirits she had called upon the last time Sweyn had helped her.  Sweyn could see faint traces of the spirits, so closely Hallveig had drawn the spirit world into her hall.  The children could see them as well, but Emma had prepared them calming potions so they wouldn’t be distracted by ghosts.  These spirits were souls of love and fertility, mostly female, but there were a few males as well, and Sweyn thought of Sveinn Buison, Jarl Eirik’s lover.  He had a gentle soul for one who could fight well.

Hallveig paid little attention to the spirits that came and went.  They were local spirits that could only help with local love charms and her victim was in Constantinople.  It would take time.  She was carving a love rune on a whalebone while she waited.  She had the lock of Princess Anna’s hair tied in a loop through a hole in the wood of the whalebone.  It was a board that looked like a whalebone, the name being more for the pattern of the runes than for the material it was cut into.  Wood was easier to carve than bone and Hallveig used a very sharp paring knife.  The whalebone pattern had four rune charms in it, one in each quadrant of the rectangular shape.  A forever charm required more than a short duration charm and a distant charm required more than a local charm.  Sweyn would provide the blood for the charm since his son was in Kiev.  She nodded for Sweyn to come over and Sweyn and Emma stepped down from the guest highseat and Emma held his arm as Hallveig cut into a vein in his arm and blood flowed into a bowl on her lap.  The saga stories always had somebody cutting the palm of their hand to get blood, but palm cuts healed slow and could interfere with sword and buckler use, so, the back of the hand was preferred or a vein if a lot of blood was required, as was needed for forever love charms at a distance.

“We need a key phrase,” Hallveig said, as she began painting the whalebone with the blood from the bowl, “that you can say to Princess Anna in person to activate the charm and Prince Valdamar must be in front of her when you say it.  Just a short line that she will be distracted or startled by.”

“Fear not the pink monster,” Sweyn told her.

“That should do,” Hallveig said, and she repeated the phrase to the children and they worked it into their chant.  Emma wrote it on a strip of velum for Sweyn and he noticed that she wrote it in Norse in the miniscule font of Alcuin and he was impressed.  She was a very smart girl.  There had been a lull in spirits flowing through the hall, but Sweyn saw more flitting through as the torches flickered.  He rubbed his arm where Hallveig had cut it and he watched the witch as she worked the runes and he saw the skin of her forearms as the long sleeves occasionally fell away and her skin was pale and flawless with a glossy sheen, almost like wet white silk.  It was sensual in a way.  Emma pulled on Sweyn’s arm and she led him back to the highseats.  Soon a raven haired spirit appeared before Hallveig and she looked Vanir, Roman.  Hallveig closed her eyes and stared into the spirit.  She repeated the chants with the children and Sweyn heard ‘fear not the pink monster’ woven into the words.  Then the spirit flew off and left the hall.

“You must say this phrase exactly as written,” Emma said and she pressed the velum note into the palm of his hand, “and you will only get three attempts to say it correctly or the spell will be lost forever.”

Emma’s handmaiden gathered up the children and put them to bed.  It was midnight and they were all tired.  Hallveig slid off her highchair effortlessly and she walked over to the highseat and held her hand out to Sweyn and took his hand and led him off to the staircase that led up to her second floor suite.  Sweyn looked back at Emma, sitting nervously at the edge of her highseat.  He knew she would sit there until Hallveig was done.  He watched the witch’s ass as she led him up the stairs and, even through her black woollen dress, he could see it was well muscled.  She led him to the edge of her bed and she began to undress him.  She saw that he was already hard and that seemed to please her as she stood before him.  Sweyn realized she was waiting for his return favour and he quickly began undressing her.  He left her shoulder broaches on and just slid the straps off of her shoulders and, as the dress slid down, he saw her magnificent flawless breasts standing out from her chest and he knelt as he pulled her dress down past her hips and her flat stomach looked as though chiselled from Carrera marble, glowing white with a polished sheen.  Once the dress passed her hips it fell away and he saw a tuft of blonde hair and the pink of her well and the curved flow of her legs and her perfect toes as she stepped forward, away from the woollens.  He stood up in front of her, still hard and very close.  She put her hand on his member and she placed it between her thighs, just below her well.  Sweyn put his arms around her and her skin felt hard and then suddenly soft, as if armour and then flesh and he knew she was part Irpa.  Her face was fresh and young and he kissed her warm lips and they too were hard and then soft.  It was as though he was making love to a statue that turned into a woman upon touch, a very beautiful woman, a goddess.  They kissed like that for a long time and Sweyn could feel the wetness of her well coming down upon his member and then she led him onto the bed and she laid him on his back.  She sat upon his chest and she slid up to his chin and he began to kiss her again and she had the taste of honey in her well and he drank deeply of it until she came in shudders.

She slid down his body and his member tried to enter her but she slid across it and slid further down and she took his member into her mouth instead.  She sucked on it in long laboured draughts that caused it to swell and lengthen and he saw her transform it into something like his son’s pink monster and, when it had grown so large and swollen that it ached for her, she slid back up his body and she allowed it to enter her and she began to ride his member, sliding down it with ease and clinching hard on the upstroke so that he grew even larger inside her.  She bounced her hips upon his riff and she sped up as she climaxed and she began moaning loudly, as though a siren drawing ships to shore, and she drew the semen out of Sweyn as he flowed heavily within her.  She collapsed on him, breathing heavily and he felt her skin like warm smooth marble and then soft again and he hugged her to himself and he flowed within her just a little bit more and he wanted to keep flowing within her but he knew the night was young.  She slid up a bit more and she began kissing Sweyn hungrily.  She explored his mouth with her tongue and it invited his to do the same.  She slid down and began kissing his chest and his nipples and they grew large, like a woman’s nipples, as she sucked, and she slid back up and her breasts invited him to do the same so he drew hard upon one and it grew large and he was rewarded with a flow.  He drew deeply of her and did the same to the next.  She was still breastfeeding her babies and it reminded him of Serah and her great Khazar breasts.

Hallveig got off of the bed and she went over to her sideboard and she came back with her stuffed horse cock and she belted it on to herself and oiled it up.  Sweyn got on his hands and knees in front of her and she put the thing up his anus and she drove it into him and kept thrusting it in and out and Sweyn thought of Eirik and the Sacred Band of Theban Brothers that Hallveig had helped create and he enjoyed her strokes and began moaning and she joined in with him until she came long and hard.  She was very pleased with this and she took her belt off of herself and strapped it onto Sweyn and she bent over before him and he put it up her tight anus and slowly slid it into her.  She inhaled on the first stroke, but took it all in and Sweyn was soon driving her hard from behind.  They both began moaning and she came once more.  They laid beside each other and Sweyn massaged her breasts with his hands and he marvelled at the metal of her skin, so hard yet so soft.  He sat atop her and massaged her shoulders as well and then her arms.  He turned her over and straddled her waist and he massaged her back and he again marvelled at the metal of her skin, which grew soft and supple as he massaged his hands across it and her skin was white and unblemished by flaws or marks.  He turned about and he began massaging her buttocks which were muscled like a man’s and he worked his way down the backs of her legs and she groaned in pleasure.  Her skin was such a marvel to work, he could not stop and he turned her over and he began massaging her skin up her legs and the closest he could come to relating the experience was when he had walked barefoot through warm beach sand that had been undisturbed for a very long time and seemed concrete to the toes until disturbed and it instantly turned to warm soft sand.  He worked his way up her thighs and began kissing the honey of her well and she moaned in pleasure and he began kissing and massaging her flat belly and he couldn’t believe she’d just had five babies.  He knelt between her thighs and he put her legs over top his and he watched his member grow stiff, struggling to reach her well, and it grew huge again.  He began, once more, massaging her breasts and then he fell upon them and began kissing them and sucking on her nipples and, again, she flowed for him and he drank of her.  The tip of his member had struggled to enter her and it slid into her as he resumed massaging her and soon it was in her exploring within and the massaging strokes turned into thrusting strokes and he grabbed her shoulders to get a deeper penetration and he began rocking in an out of her and she wrapped her strong metaled legs around him and he began driving into her with an urgency that brought deep moans as her response and, as he sped up, the moans became loud cries and as he exploded within her she began to shriek wildly but Sweyn could not stop and he drove and flowed again and again as she shrieked until he was sated.  When he collapsed on top of her she was unconscious and the metal hue of her skin was gone.  He rolled off her and gathered her up in his arms and they slept together like statues until late morning. 

When he woke up, Hallveig was staring into his eyes and smiling.  “I think Irpa is gone,” she whispered, “and I think I am pregnant again.”

“You can tell so soon?” Sweyn asked and he brushed her cheek and the metal was, indeed, gone.

“I felt your seed sow itself the first time you came within me,” she said.  “The second time you went off like your Cathayan fireworks at Yule and that was what drove Irpa from me.  She was sated at last!  Thank you, Sweyn.  Your forever charm is paid in full and what grows within me now is our own forever charm.”  She kissed him tenderly and she got out of bed and began dressing before him.  ‘Irpa may be gone,’ he thought, ‘but the youth she had given Hallveig still remained.’

Sweyn had promised Emma one last go before he left so, after lunch they raced out across the dock to his ship once more.  Sweyn beat her into the cabin and she bolted the door shut behind them.  “I don’t know if it’s safe to fock you!” she told him as he stripped off his clothes beside the bed.  “You had Hallveig shrieking at fourth watch last night!  It scared the shit out of me, but it didn’t wake the children at all.”

“That was Irpa you heard shrieking.  That was her in orgasm.”

“If you can do that to a goddess, what are you going to do to me?”

“Get undressed,” Sweyn said, lying naked on the bed.  “Let’s find out!”  He wanted to know if the monstrous erection Irpa had given him had stayed with him as Hallveig’s youth had done.

(990 AD)  In the spring, King Sweyn led the great northern merchant fleet east and they paid their tithes in Kiev and met up with the merchant fleet of Tmutorokan at the Bay of Cherson and the Christian fleet sailed west and the rest sailed east.  Prince Valdamar awaited his father in the city of Cherson and when Sweyn saw him, he knew he was nervous.  At first, Princess Anna had refused to come to Cherson to meet the young prince, but then, amazingly, she had changed her mind and had agreed to come if it helped the people of Cherson.  Thirty Greek-fireships protected the princess and her entourage of bishops, priests, nuns and officers that were to help with the conversion of the Hraes’.  Once she was in Cherson, the fireships could not protect her and she was dependent upon the Hraes’ for her security, but this, too, she had agreed to.  It seemed that over the winter she had developed warmer feelings for the young prince and his people.  Her brothers, the Emperors, were surprised by this, but happy about it and encouraged her to go meet her prospective husband.

When Valdamar and his father went out on the main quay to greet her, they saw that she was a tall young woman with long blonde hair and a slim figure.  Sweyn thought for a second, he was looking at his mother, Helga, but then he saw her handmaiden in the princess.  The Chapter Twelve officers of the time had ensured that the slaves purchased for handmaiden service for Queen Helga in Constantinople looked like her and could be used as a double in dangerous locales.  The story the late Magistrate Kalokyras had told him appeared to be true at least.  Prince Valdamar was smitten at first sight.  “She’s gorgeous!” he whispered as the two men walked towards her.  “Welcome Princess Anna!” he said with a bit too much enthusiasm.

“Prince Valdamar,” she replied and walked right past him.  She had been to Cherson many times before and she knew her way around the place and she led her entourage into the city and she waited for her prince to catch up.  “We’ll be staying at the palace?” she asked him.  “Preferably the west wing?”

“Yes, of course,” Valdamar stammered, “the west wing shall be all yours!”

“She seems a little aloof,” Sweyn told Valdamar as they drank in the hall and waited as she settled into her wing.

“At least she came,” Valdamar said.  “Last fall our spies said there wasn’t a hope in hell she’d come.”

“Funny you should bring Hell up,” Sweyn replied.  “We were hoping you’d have come to Lade for last Yulefest.”

“Kiev was frozen in like a turd!” Valdamar swore.  “I couldn’t go anywhere so I spent the whole winter focking my wives and I still didn’t get caught up!”

“You’re a slave to your vices, son,” Sweyn told him.  “How many wives do you have now?”

“Six hundred and thirty three, at last count,” Valdamar answered.

“And how many children do you have?”

“Eight,” Valdamar said, “by my wives.”

“And how many by your concubines?”

“Six hundred and thirty three,” he answered, matter of factly.

‘You don’t know, do you?”

“I’m pretty sure that each has at least one,” he said.  “Some are on their third or fourth.”

“Let’s keep this to ourselves,” Sweyn told him.  “The princess shouldn’t be bothered with minor details.”

“Do you think I have a chance with her?” Valdamar asked.

“I think you have a very good chance,” Sweyn answered, “but when your chance comes, you have to be ready to make the best of it.”  He wanted to tell his son about Hallveig and the love charm she had prepared for him, but somethings are best left unsaid, like how many wives and children you have.

“At least we won’t have to spend another summer traipsing around Anatolia looking for the ghost of Bardas Skleros,” Valdamar said, trying to change the subject.  They had dug up the body of Bardas Skleros and had preserved it and some of the officers in Princess Anna’s retinue were to confirm that the body, indeed, was that of Skleros so they could close the contract on him and get their fifteen thousand pounds of gold purified.  Roman metallurgists were also among the retinue, but they would be taken to Gardariki, where the gold was kept, to purify it.

Prince Valdamar had taken the advice of his father and had sent Princess Anna a gift every day since their marriage proposal and now that she was in Cherson she received them from him personally and she seemed to enjoy getting them because she stayed in Cherson a full month without showing young Valdamar even a hint of affection.  The young prince began fretting and worrying if he would ever win the heart of his princess.  Once it was confirmed that the gold in Gardariki had been purified, Sweyn walked up to the young courting couple and he sat next to Princess Anna and he said, “Do not fear the pink monster!” and Prince Valdamar was mortified when he said it, but she didn’t react to the phrase at all.  “Fear not the pink monster!” Sweyn corrected himself and then she asked, “Where is this pink monster?”

“Prince Valdamar has it, but he keeps it on a short leash.  You can find it in his room.”

“Really?” Princess Anna said, looking at Valdamar for confirmation.  “Can I see it?”

“I can show it to you,” Valdamar stammered, “in my room.  It was my brother’s pink monster, but now it is mine!”  Valdamar looked to his father.  ‘Go!’ Sweyn mouthed the one word, and Valdamar grabbed his princess by the hand and they ran off to the east wing together.  They were gone for several hours and the Roman retinue began to show concern for her whereabouts when the couple returned to the hall arm in arm and Anna doted over Valdamar for the rest of the week while her prince was prepared for preliminary baptism.  Princess Anna would go to bed in the west wing, then dress up as one of her handmaidens and sneak out and sleep with Valdamar in the east wing.  A week after his baptism, they were married and could go to bed together in the east wing.  By then, Sweyn was sure, she was carrying Valdamar’s ‘ninth’ child.

The Saga of Grand Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ Sveinson

The End

To be Continued in

The Saga of King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson

APPENDIX ‘A’

APP. A: VALDAMAR’SAGA ‘THE GREAT’  GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Back To TABLE of CONTENTS

Abbasid Caliphate–Arab dynasty that overthrew Ommayad dynasty in 750 A.D.

Aesir–group of northern gods of the Scandinavian pagan religion, including Odin, Tyr and Thor, in constant conflict with the Vanir, southern gods.

aett–the extended family, including those predeceased and those members yet to be.  The family aett would be the family power flowing from past members to future.

Akall – an invocation or calling of the spirits.

althing–annual meeting, during pagan times, in which law was practiced and elections held.

Andvari–dwarf; robbed of gold and magic ring by Loki.

Angerbotha–giantess; mother by Loki of Fenrir, Hel, and Midgard serpent.

Asgard–abode of gods.

Ask (Aske)–first man; created by Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur.

Asyniur–goddesses of Asgard.

Atli: Second husband of Gudrun; invited Gunnar and Hogni to his court, where they were slain; slain by Gudrun.

Audhumla (Audhumbla)–cow that nourished Ymir; created Buri by licking ice cliff.

Aurvandil–Thor carried him out of Giantland in a basket, but Aurvandil’s exposed toe froze, so Thor broke it off and threw it up into the sky, where it became a star.

arvel–funeral feast;  also, possibly arval.

atheling–warrior or noble.

At-Khazars–White Khazars, a tribe of the Khazar Empire of possible Roman origins, their leaders said to be Porphyrogeniti, born of the purple, a blood-line of the Roman Caesars. They were Jewish in religion and may have finally settled in Poland.

Balder–Aesir god; son of Odin.

bane–death.

banesman–slayer; ie: Hundingsbane = Hunding’s slayer.

barrow–burial mound; also, howe.

berserk–warrior capable of attaining a manic fury in battle in which he is impervious to weapons but is overcome with weakness once the fit is through;  also, berserker, shape-changer.

Biarmians–Finno-Ugric tribe of Northern Asia.

Bifrost–Rainbow bridge connecting Midgard and Asgard.

bireme–ship having two banks of oars each side.

bragarful–celebration filled with lively speech and brave boasts.

Bragi–Aesir god of poetry, husband of Ithunn; also name of first Scandinavian poet; may also signify one eloquent in speech.

brand–sword; also, blood snake, poisonous blood snake.

Branliv–Slavic byname meaning quarrelsome; possibly eloquent in speech.

Branstock–great oaken hall of the Volsungs; into it, Odin thrust Gram, which only Sigmund could draw forth.

Brynhild–Valkyrie; wakened from magic sleep by Sigurd; married Gunnar; instigated death of Sigurd; killed herself and was burned on pyre beside Sigurd.

buckler–shield; also, targe, leaf of leafy-land (sea).

Bulgars–Turkic tribe that migrated from western China to the Volga River with a second group moving on to Bulgaria; also, Volga Bulgars.

bulwarks–the side strakes of a ship; also sometimes called gunwales.

Bur (Bor)–son of Buri; father of Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur.

Buri (Bori)–progenitor of gods; father of Bur; created by Audhumla.

Burtas–Turkic tribe of the middle Volga River.

byrding – ship for carrying goods along the coast.

byrnie–coat of mail armour.

Byzant–gold coin of the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantine Empire–formed of the Eastern Roman Empire, following the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D., by mostly Greek citizens.  Fell to the Turks in 1453 A.D.

carl–freeman.

Danelaw – area of northern and eastern England under Danish settlement and law from the 9th to 11th century; may have been based on earlier Anglish law.

Disertus–byname of Erik in Saxo’s Fifth Book of Danish History, Latin for eloquent in speech.

disir–female guardian spirits.

Drakkar – a type of longship, often referred to as a dragon ship, the typical Viking longship with a dragon carved at the top of the forestem.

drapa–Norse poem of twenty stanzas.

Dregovichi–Slav people of the upper Dniepr River.

Drengr – warrior or soldier.

Drevjane–Slav people of the middle Dniepr river.

Embla–the first woman; created by Odin, Hoenir and Lothur.

etin–giant.

Fafnir–dragon who guarded the Rhinegold treasure; slain by Sigurd the Volsung.

fane–temple.

fell–mountain.

Fenrir–wolf; offspring of Loki; swallows Odin at Ragnarok and is slain by Vitharr.

fey–doomed to die.

fleer–to mock or make fun of.

flygting–argumentive or abusive poetry.

Forseti–son of Balder.

Frey (Freyr)–Aesir god of fertility and crops; son of Njorth; originally of the Vanir.

Freya (Freyja)–goddess of love beauty and fertility; sister of Frey; originally of the Vanir.

Fridleif–early king of Denmark; King Frodi III’s father.

Frigg–Aesir goddess; wife of Odin.

Frodi III–legendary king of Denmark; conqueror of Russia, according to Saxo.

fylgja–female spirit that accompanies each person.

galdurman – galdur is magic, so a galdurman would be a conjurer or magician.

Garm–watchdog of Hel; slays and is slain by Tyr at Ragnarok.

Gimle–home of blessed after Ragnarok.

ginungagap–the great abyss into which everything was created.

Greek fire–an incendiary mixture of petroleum spirits and chemicals that bursts into flame, possibly on contact with air.  A secret weapon of the Eastern Romans.

Ghuzz Turks–Turkic tribe found between the Aral and Caspian Seas.

Giuki–King of Nibelungs; father of Gunnar, Hogni, Guttorm, and Gudrun.

Glathsheim (Gladsheim)–hall of the gods in Asgard.

Gram (meaning “Angry”)–Sigmund’s sword; reforged by Regin; used by Sigurd to slay Fafnir.

Greyfell–Sigmund’s horse; descended from Sleipnir.

Grimhild (Chriemhild)–mother of Gudrun; administered magic potion to Sigurd which made him forget Brynhild.

Gudrun: Daughter of King Giuki; wife of Sigurd; later wife of Atli and Jonakr.

Gunnar: Son of Giuki; in his semblance Sigurd won Brynhild for him; slain at hall of Atli.

Guttorm: Son of Giuki; slew Sigurd at Brynhild’s request.

hamingja–fortune or luck.

Havamal–poem telling the words of the high one (Odin);  Possibly written by Bragi ‘the Old’.

Heimdall—god and guardian of Asgard.

Hel–goddess of the dead and queen of the underworld; daughter of Loki.

Hiordis–wife of Sigmund; mother of Sigurd.

Hird – hired freemen of the household, particularly the armed guardsmen.

Hogni: Son of King Giuki; slain at hall of Atli.

Hoenir–one of the creators of Ask and Embla; son of Bur.

holmgangr–island duel.

howe–burial mound.

Hoth (Hoder, Hodur)–blind god of night and darkness; slayer of Balder caused by Loki.

Huns–Turkic tribe migrated from Western China into Europe(c.370 A.D.), attacking the Gothic Empire of Eormanrik and threatening the Roman Empire.  Their leader, Attila, was poisoned by the Roman Emperor and the Huns moved on to Gaul. They were defeated at Chalons(451 A.D.) and retired back into Asia, apparently joining the Khazar Empire and settling north of the Caucasus Mountains.

Hymir–sea giant with whom Thor fished for the Midgard serpent.

Ibn Fadlan, Ahmad–Arab geographer and diplomat of the tenth century who recorded a trip up the Volga in which he met Varangian settlers.

Iconoclast–anyone against the veneration of religious pictures or icons.

Ithunn (Iduna)–keeper of the golden apples of youth; wife of Bragi ‘the Old’.

Jarl – chief, rough equivalent to Earl in Anglo-Saxon nobility.

Jormunrek (Eormunrekr)–slayer of Swanhild; slain by sons of Gudrun.

Jotunheim–abode of giants.

Kara-Khazars–Scythian Khazars of the Khazar Empire.

kenning–metaphor or metaphorical rhyme.

Knar or Knorr—Cargo ship, wider and deeper than a longship, relying more on sail than oars.

Krivichi–Slav people of the upper Moskva River.

Kufa–silver coin of the Arab Caliphate.

Kvasir–god who invented mead.

Lif and Lifaesir–first man and woman after Ragnarok.

Loki–Aesir god of mischief.

Longship—fast warship that was long and narrow with oars and sail.

Lothur (Lodur)–one of creators of Ask and Embla.

Magyars–Turkic tribe migrated from Western China to present day Hungary circa 830 to 890 A.D.; also, Turkoi; members of the Khazar Empire.

mead–alcoholic drink made from fermented honey.

mead-words–poetry.

Midgard (Midgarth)–abode of mankind; the earth.

Midgard Serpent (Worm)–sea snake that encircles the world; offspring of Loki; slays and is slain by Thor at Ragnarok.

Mimir–giant guardian of well in Jotunheim at the root of Yggdrasill, the tree of knowledge; knower of past and future.

Mjolnir–magic hammer of Thor.

monoxyla–dugout bottomed ship with built up side strakes.

Naglfar–ship to be used by giants in attacking Asgard at Ragnarok; built from nails of dead men.

Nalbinding – a technique for making clothing, similar to knitting or crocheting, the word itself meaning to bind with a needle; typically knitting with one needle.

Nanna–wife of Balder.

ness–headland or promontory.

Nibelungs–dwellers in kingdom ruled by King Giuki; west of Volsunga.

Niflheim–outer region of cold and darkness; abode of Hel.

nightgenga – demon of the night (literally ‘night-traveller’), perhaps Grendal like.

nithing – nothing, outcast, villain, with connotations of zoophilia.

nith pole — pole carved with runes and topped with the head or skull of a horse meant to cast a curse with connotations of zoophilia, impalement and unicorns.

nith-song — curse casting or derogatory poem.

Njorth–father of Frey and Freya; originally of the Vanir.

Norns—three female spirits, demi-goddesses of fate: Urth (past), Verdandi (present) and Skuld (future) and controlling the fates of men.

Odin–chief god of the Aesir; god of hosts and battle; creator of world with Vili and Ve; equivalent to Woden (Wotan) in Teutonic mythology.

Onogur–Turkic tribe of the Khazar Empire.

Otter–son of Rodmar; slain by Loki; his skin filled with the red gold hoard of Andvari to appease Rodmar.

Permians–Finno-Ugric tribe of Northern Asia.

Poljane–Slav people of the middle Dniepr River.

pyre–bonfire used to cremate the dead.

Raes, Hraes’–theoretical nickname of Hraerik (Erik) ‘Bragi’, from which the names Rus’ and Rhos may have been derived.  Perhaps Rurik of Novgorod and Hrorik of Jutland as well.

Radimichi–Slav people between the Dnieper and Desna Rivers.

Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’–early king of the Danes who slew a dragon in the east; his sons attacked England.

Ragnarok–final destruction of present world in battle between gods and giants; some minor gods will survive, and Lif and Lifaesir will repeople the world.

Ragnarsdrapa–ninth century poem by Bragi ‘the Old’ Boddason dedicated to King Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson.

ran–large Scandinavian house.

Regin—son of Rodmar; Scythian smith who helped Sigurd attack Fafnir.

Rerir–king of the Huns; son of Sigi.

Rhinegold hoard–treasure robbed from the dragon Fafnir by Sigurd, who slew the dragon on the advice of Regin.  It is an eastern tale with a possible Scythian Sea locale, but the name of the treasure is, oddly, Germanic.

Rhos–early Greek name for Norsemen and Slavs of Hraes’ (Ukraine).

ring-giver–king or prince.

Rodmar–father of Regin, Otter, and Fafnir; demanded Otter’s skin be filled with gold; slain by Fafnir, who stole the red gold.

runes–alphabetic characters of early Germanic writing.

Rus or Rus’–early Slavic name of Norsemen, from which is derived the name Ruthenians.

sark–shirt or kirtle.

Saxo-Grammaticus–Danish historian of the twelfth century who wrote The First Nine Books of Danish History aka Gesta Danorum; Erik’s Saga Bragi is based primarily on the fifth book about King Frodi III and Erik Disertus.  Books three and four of his History also contain the tale of Amleth, the earliest form of Hamlet.

Scald or skald–poet; also, thul.

scorn pole — pole carved with runes and topped with the head or skull of a horse meant to cast a curse.

Seax – a long knife or bladed weapon like a short sword.

shaman–priest or mystic of Shamanism, the spiritual religion of Northeast Asia and native America.

Seiðr-witch – seiðr (pronounced say-der) is a form of magic relating to the foretelling and shaping of the future, often viewed as similar to shamanism.

Sif–wife of Thor.

Sige—victory in battle; Sigfried or Sigfrodi would be Victorious Fred or Freddy.

Siggeir–king of the Goths; husband of Signy; he and his sons slew Volsung and his sons, except Sigmund; slain by Sigmund and Sinfiotli.

Sigi–king of the Huns; son of Odin.

Sigmund–son of Volsung; brother of Signy, who bore him Sinfiotli; husband of Hiordis, who bore him Sigurd.

Signy–daughter of Volsung; sister of Sigmund; wife of Siggeir; mother by Sigmund of Sinfiotli.

Signy–wife of Loki.

Sigurd–son of Sigmund and Hiordis; wakened Brynhild from magic sleep; married Gudrun; slain by Guttorm at instigation of Brynhild; slayer of Fafnir the Dragon for which he won the Rhinegold treasure.

Sinfiotli–son of Sigmund and Signy.

Skaldskaparmal–Snorri Sturluson’s `Words of the Skalds’, a collection of ancient poems demonstrating kennings; second half of the Prose Edda.

skerries–reefs or sandbars.

Skuld–one of the three Norns; spirit of the future.

Sleipnir (Sleipner)–eight-legged horse of Odin.

Snekke – a type of longship, warship, smaller than a Drakkar or dragonship.

Snorri Sturluson–twelfth Century Icelandic author of the Prose Edda and possibly Egil’s Saga.

sound–marine passage connecting two bodies of water.

Sovar–Turkic tribe of the Khazar Empire.

strait–narrow passage between two bodies of water.

strake–a row of planks running the length and forming the sides of a ship.

strand–seashore or sandbar off a coast.

Surt (Surtr)–fire demon; slays Frey at Ragnarok.

Svartalfaheim–abode of the dwarfs.

Swanhild–daughter of Sigurd and Gudrun; slain by Jormunrek.

Tafl – strategy game played on a board, sometimes called Viking chess.

Thegn—a lord or squire.

thing–assembly (see althing).

Thor–Aesir god of thunder; oldest son of Odin; equivalent to Germanic deity Donar.

thrall–slave.

trireme–ship having three banks of oars on each side.

troll–giant; also, etin.

Tyr–Aesir god of justice, god of war; son of Odin; equivalent to Tiu in Teutonic mythology.

Ull (Ullr)–son of Sif; stepson of Thor.

Urth–one of the three Norns; spirit of the past.

Valhalla (Valhall)–great hall in Asgard where Odin receives the souls of heroes killed in battle who are rewarded while they await Ragnarok.

Vali: Odin’s son: Ragnarok survivor.

Valkyries–handmaidens of Odin who selected those to die in battle. Also, may have been women who fought in early Germanic battles or worked behind the battle lines slaying the wounded enemy.

Vanir–southern gods in constant conflict with the northern Aesir; may be the Greco-Roman tripartite gods Jupiter (Zeus Pater), Mars and Mercury.

Varangians–early Greek and Slavic name for Norsemen in Hraes’ (Ukraine).  May have been derived from Varanger, possibly meaning way-ranger (Va Ranger) or way-wanderer.

Ve: Brother of Odin; one of creators of world.

Verdandi–one of the three Norns; the spirit of the present.

Viatichi–Slav people of the upper Don River.

Vik–bay or fjord; root of Vikings, perhaps derived from Vik Kings, kings of the large fjords that dominate the western coast of the Nor’Way cum Norway.

Viken (The Vik)—the bay area of Oflo, present day Oslo.

Vikar–legendary Norwegian king who was sacrificed to Odin by the warrior giant Starkad.

Vili–brother of Odin; one of the creators of the world.

Vingolf–abode of the goddesses in Asgard.

Vitharr–son of Odin; survivor of Ragnarok.

Volsung–descendant of Odin, and father of Signy and Sigmund; his descendants were called the Volsungs.

wain–wagon.

Wends–a main branch of the Slavic peoples; also Poles.

wergild – blood price; a monetary measure of a life, the price put on someone’s head that one had to pay if one killed them.

Witan – gathering of the highest men in the land – earls, powerful thegns and bishops.  Before the introduction of hereditary monarchy by the conquering Norman lords, English kings were elected by the Witan.

withy–plaited willow twigs used as rope.

worm–dragon or snake.

Wyrd (weird) – fate or destiny, often associated with smiths.

Ygg–nickname of Odin.

Yggdrasill–giant ash tree springing from body of Ymir and supporting universe; its roots extend to Asgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim.  It is the tree of knowledge that Odin was hanged upon for nine days to learn the ways of Seithr (Witchcraft).

Ymir–primeval frost giant killed by Odin, Vili, and Ve; the world was created from his body; also, from his body sprang Yggdrasill.

Zeus (Jupiter)—the head god of the Vanir or Greco-Roman (West) tripartite gods religion, corresponding to Odin (Woden) of the Aesir (North), Brahma of the Brahmans (South) and Arrah? of the Arans (East).

APP. B: MAP OF EASTERN EUROPE OF THE NINTH CENTURY

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