Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
CHAPTER TEN POINT ZERO
10.0 Princes Mstislav and Iry Dada Wrestle to the Death (Circa 1022 AD)
(1022) The Prince and Queen Emma visited with King Canute and Princess Aelfgifu in Winchester and Hraerik told Valdy about his plan to expand King Sweyn’s Viking fortress on the Meduna River on Wight into a western Gardariki, a city with a castle in which to store half of the Hraes’ gold treasure of their trading company. “The mobile legion we have there would be permanently stationed in the castle and the city would help Southampton provide goods for our Newfoundland trade,” he explained. “We’ll rebuild Sweyn’s fortress into a proper stone castle using rock quarried from Emma’s quarries on Wight. Knars will transport the stone down the Meduna to the Viking Harbour and we’ll start construction this year.”
“My quarries will be able to supply all the stone required for the castle,” Emma reassured Valdamar.
“How much gold are we talking about?” Valdy asked his grandfather. He had no idea of what the Hraes’ Trading Company was worth these days.
“I’ll be bringing in about eighty thousand pounds of gold,” Hraerik replied, “and twice that amount in silver.”
“That’s half of the Hraes’ Red Gold Hoard?” Valdy asked, referring to the treasure by its old Roman name. “I had no idea we had that much gold!”
“Your father planned on attacking Rome,” Hraerik reminded him. “That was going to take a lot of gold.”
“So, we’re no longer attacking Rome? Shouldn’t we be following my father’s wishes?”
“Sweyn had a claim to a share of the throne, as step-son of Constantine the Seventh,” the Prince elaborated, “through the marriage of Empress Helga with the Emperor. That claim ended with him.”
“My wife, Anna Porphyrogennetos, was born of the purple and was a daughter of Constantine the Seventh, God rest her soul. Wouldn’t I have just as strong a claim?”
“Theoretically,” Hraerik postulated, “but you would be considered a usurping uncle, and that’s a tough sell for Romans. They’ve got that old Prince Brutus tale where he feigns madness to survive and overthrow his usurping uncle, King Tarquin. You’d be seen as the usurping Uncle Vladimir ‘the Impaler’ taking away the rightful thrones of Basil and Constantine the Eighth. It wouldn’t sell well.”
“Some of my sons are born of the purple and are grandsons of Constantine the Seventh,” Vlady protested. “Wouldn’t they have a strong claim?”
“They might,” Hraerik agreed, “but they’re too busy squabbling amongst each other. Hraes’ is fragmenting into a patchwork of petty principalities. They’re half the reason I want half the Hraes’ gold here, in England. I don’t want to keep all our eggs in one basket.”
“Especially golden eggs!” Valdy concurred. “I had no idea the Romans took that Brutus story to heart so much. Didn’t you write your own version of it?”
“The Amleth Saga,” Hraerik replied. “Amleth means dull like the Roman name Brutus. But Prince Amleth was actually King Bjorn ‘of the Barrows’ of Sweden. He played a mad prince to escape my wrath when I usurped the Swedish throne from his father, King Alrick, and when I succumbed to my wounds from killing Alrick, he took back the throne and was going to kill me instead.”
“Ah, yes,” Valdy said, looking at their wives, “the Head Ransom Drapa!”
“We know that one!” the women chimed in. “All princesses know that one!”
“Yes,” Hraerik said. “I played the mad poet and wrote a drapa for my dead wife, Gunwar, and when he heard it, he was so pleased, he offered to help me avenge her death if I wrote him a like drapa overnight. And he was true to his word. He helped us defeat the Khazars at the Battle of the Goths and the Huns.”
“Are things really that bad between my sons in Gardar?” Valdy asked.
“I’m afraid so,” Hraerik answered. “It’s not as bad as what you went through, but it could be a lot better. Ivaraslav is still Grand Prince of Kiev, but Prince Bryachislav and Prince Mstislav are giving him a run for his title.”
“And my eldest Ivaraslav?”
“He’s content being Emperor Basil’s right hand with the Varangian Guard in Constantinople with his mother, Princess Sviataslava.”
“Then we’d best leave Rome alone,” Canute said.
“It would probably be for the best,” Prince Hraerik agreed.
As they were all in agreement, the Prince began construction of his new Gardariki in the west and Queen Emma threw herself, whole-heartedly, into the project and she reminded Hraerik of Princess Gunwar, when they’d built the first Gardariki, and he loved her for it. While the Hraes’ legion engineers were digging test holes for foundation analysis, Emma had her designers from Portsmouth come out to Wight to start drawing up plans for the castle and the walled city that would surround it. Prince Hraerik took workers in ships up the Meduna River and they reopened the quarries of their queen and began cutting stone.
While castle construction began, the people of Southampton were working on goods for trade in the Newfoundland and the tall ships were being readied for their spring sailing. More Hraes’ trading posts were planned and more troops allocated for their defences. Profits from western trade were still in negative numbers and Hraes’ gold that had been hoarded for an attack upon the Romans was now being used for more peaceful purposes. Compasses for the direct sailings were being purchased from Cathay and other navigational devices were being taken from the North African desert and were being adapted for marine use. The ships of the desert, camels, were used a lot at night to avoid the excessive heat of day, and readings off stars were in constant use to keep caravans on track between oases, through the shifting desert sands.
Drawings and plans of Gardariki were completed by the time the tallships sailed and Prince Hraerik had approved them before heading east with the great merchant fleet so that construction could continue while he was in Baghdad and India. Queen Emma monitored progress from Southampton and King Canute took his ships to Wight often to survey the work.
When the great fleet sailed past Polotsk, the Prince had a few words with Prince Bryachislav to try and patch things up between him and Prince Ivaraslav, and when they sailed past Kiev, the Prince did likewise with Ivaraslav. Then he met up with Prince Mstislav at Cherson and learned that Prince Rededya of the Kasogians had been mollified, so far, with gifts, but would likely continue with fall raiding in Tmutorokan. There were other problems with other princes to be handled as well, so, Hraerik was relieved when they finally arrived at the Caliph’s palace in Baghdad. He spent a week in the city, most evenings being spent with Anise and Saffron, his trade agents there, before heading off to Ashaval and Mumba to spend time with his children and new Aesir wife there. He also met up with his older concubine wife, Misha, and told her that he wanted to get her group working on mathematics for him.
“I thought the Guild was going to work on your theories with your new Aesir wife,” Misha complained.
“They are, but I know the kind of progress they make and I would like you to shadow them. I’ll provide you with everything they do for me and we’ll see if you can accelerate things a bit. We’re not as young as we used to be.”
“How is your new young Aesir wife?”
“Nika’s very young,” Hraerik repeated, “but she is a prodigy and I think you’ll be impressed with some of her proofs.”
“I meant in the sack,” Misha protested, poking him in the ribs.
“Well, she was very good, but now she’s very pregnant,” Hraerik said, getting up on one elbow. “She throws up while we’re having sex now.”
“You should have used a glove.”
“She wanted to have a baby,” Hraerik protested. “How could I not oblige her?”
“Okay, I’ll put the team together.”
“I was hoping you would. I brought you some gold.”
“My team are volunteers,” Misha said. “We don’t need your gold.”
“It’s for progress bonuses,” the Prince told her. “We were going to attack Rome, but now we’re not, so I have some extra gold to speed things along.”
“Just as well then. It’s going to be hard to model your theorem with your added dimension. Time as a dimension? I still have cosmologists trying to wrap their heads around that one!”
“I know!” Hraerik said. “It makes my head hurt.”
The Prince’s Indian fleet made several sailings to Baghdad and back, taking untouchables north to increase slave sales and sailing back with Hraes’ products that were moving in India. One item of inventory that particularly caught Hraerik’s eye was white African elephants for breeding purposes. They were more of a light grey, but larger than Indian elephants and stronger for heavier work. Some special costs were a lot of drugs for sedating the beasts during sailings and a lot of fodder.
Nika had given the Prince a new young son and he spent some time with the baby, but was glad to head back to Baghdad and spend a final week there with Anise and Saffron before sailing north with Prince Mstislav and the great merchant fleet. As they sailed along the Black Sea coast, they stopped in at the Kasogian city they had sacked the prior fall and they found it reinhabited, so they reconquered it and learned that Prince Rededya was, indeed, raising a raiding army to take into Tmutorokan in the next few weeks, so, the Hraes’ enslaved all the Kasogians of the city once more and the merchant fleet took the men, women and children of the city and surrounding lands west with them to Cherson and then north to the slave schools of Kiev. The Prince and his young acolyte, Prince Mstislav, sailed back to Tmutorokan from Cherson and raised their legions again to face the new Kasogian threat. Their legions awaited the Kasogian army at the same pass where they had beaten them the year before. “We should await them here again,” Prince Hraerik told Mstislav. “It worked out pretty well for us last time.”
The Kasogian army soon drew up in orderly array and some riders came forth carrying white standards. “They want a parley,” the Prince said. “A what?” Mstislav replied. “They want to talk!” So, the two Hraes’ princes rode out to meet the standard bearers and Prince Rededya then rode out from his forces to talk.
“Why should we destroy our forces by doing battle? Let us rather fight in single combat ourselves. If you win, you shall receive my property, my wife, and my children, and my Kasogia. But if I win, I shall take your Tmutorokan.”
“Don’t do it,” Hraerik hissed. “Our legions will win and we need the captives.”
“I heard that his wife is pretty hot,” Mstislav replied.
While they were discussing the offer, Prince Rededya upped the offer. “If you’d rather, we could wrestle in the old Greco-Roman fashion instead of making single combat with swords. I’m old,” he added, stroking his white beard. “You’ll win for sure.” He then pulled at his white moustaches and said, “My wife is young and very pretty.”
“He’s stronger than he looks,” Hraerik warned the young prince, “and Greco-Roman is fought naked and the loser is bent over.”
“I don’t intend to lose,” Mstislav answered.
“Don’t put yourself at risk!” Hraerik said. “That is what I have been teaching you.”
“I accept your challenge!” Mstislav shouted in reply and he turned to the Prince and whispered, “I want all Kasogia, not just a few slaves. With his wife as my own, I shall rule all of it.”
“Don’t do this,” Hraerik repeated. “We can beat the Kasogians and take them as slaves and keep doing it for the next decade at least. That is how your grandfather, King Sweyn would play it.”
“It’s too late,” Mstislav said, “I accepted his offer and he’s already getting ready.”
Prince Rededya was already standing on the dusty plain between the two armies and he was stark naked and his page was oiling up his body. Mstislav was off his mount and stripping off his clothing and he told Rededya, “I’m Christian. We aren’t allowed to fight completely naked.” He stood in front of him in his underpants and began oiling up his own body. What he didn’t tell Rededya was that he always kept a silver dagger hidden in his shorts. As he had told his great grandfather, he did not intend to lose.
They began the Greco-Roman wrestling with a hand grip and they used strength and weight to try to overpower their opponent, and they struggled in this fashion for a full hour, coming to grips and struggling, then breaking apart. Rededya’s greater strength and weight began to overcome Mstislav’s youthful endurance and, after another hour of wrestling, he picked Mstislav up and slammed him down onto the dusty plain, knocking him almost senseless. Rededya picked him up by the hips and Mstislav could feel that the Kasogian was already hard with lust and was trying to penetrate him, but his underpants were blocking his thrusts, so, Rededya tore his shorts away and entered him from behind and the silver dagger fell into the dust on Mstislav’s left and Rededya began thrusting wildly into his anus and Mstislav exclaimed, “Oh Virgin Mother of God, please help me conquer this man! If you gift me with a weapon to kill this man with, I will build a church in thy name. Oh Virgin Mother please help me with this and I will build you a large church,” and the young prince went on with his prayers until he felt the older prince flowing within him, then he braced himself with his right hand and reached out with his left hand and picked up the knife and began stabbing back at Rededya’s ribs above his own back and he felt one last great pulse from Rededya within himself as the old prince collapsed onto his back, dead.
The young prince braced himself with both his hands and he shrugged backwards until Rededya’s lingam pulled free of his anus and the old prince fell away backwards into the dust. The young prince was naked and stood before the troops and shouted, “He was trying to stab me with something long and hard and I thought it was a knife, so I prayed to our Sacred Virgin for a knife as well and she put a knife into the dirt at my side. I only used it because Prince Rededya seemed to be trying to stab me with something. I was so dazed and confused, but my prayers were answered.”
Prince Hraerik came up to Mstislav with a blanket and wrapped him up. “You’re bleeding from behind,” he whispered “and the blood flows white.”
“I know! He was trying to stab me! But I managed to fight him off!” Mstislav shouted, still somewhat dazed, or acting so. “Thank God the Virgin Mother made a miracle and saved me!”
The Kasogian army began to grumble that it was not a miracle, for Mstislav had used his left hand to slay their Prince Rededya, and this was a sign of evil. Still, they did not want to fight the Hraes’ legions leaderless so, Prince Mstislav offered them a chance to join in his new army of his new land of Kasogia and he offered them a ten percent raise as well as booty rights. The Kasogians agreed to pledge allegiance as long as the prince pledged them his protection, so the Kasogians would not be bent over shields and enslaved. Prince Hraerik was glad they had already reconquered and enslaved the one Kasogian port city to fulfil their slave requirements for the next trading season, for once they got to the capital city of Kasogia and Mstislav took Rededya’s wife for his own, the Prince knew they would not be raiding Kasogian lands for slaves anytime in the near future.
During Mstislav’s victory wedding feast, Hraerik stood drinking with his grandson, and said, “I know it was your knife that fell into the dust, but why did you take so long to use it?”
“I told you I had no intentions of losing,” Mstislav answered, “but, while I was depriving Rededya of his life in a manner of which I am not proud, I thought at least I could allow him a death that all warriors wish for…to die focking so I let him finish before I put my knife between his ribs. I owed him that much.”
“That is focked on so many levels,” the Prince started, “that I’ve just got to respect the hell out of it!” And he slapped Mstislav on the back and the young prince grimaced as his sphincter tightened.
“Do you want to hear something really focked up?” Mstislav asked his grandfather.
“Like that wasn’t focked up enough?”
“I felt his spirit pass into me when he exploded inside me as he was dying,” Mstislav said, shaking his head, making his red hair dance. “It felt like his spirit was passing right through me, but part of him stayed inside me.”
“I’ve been there,” Hraerik told him, deathly serious. “Spirits are connected with death and they flow between the past, the present and the future.”
“Like the three Norns?”
“That is a poetic simplification of it, but…yes.” And Hraerik told him about his experiences with Myia and Princess Blaeja and their hit on the Mongol Khan from the future.
“That’s really focked!” Mstislav said. “Now I don’t feel so bad about it.”
“I’ve told your father, Valdamar, what happened,” Hraerik said, “but let’s keep this spirit stuff between us.”
“I’m okay with that,” Mstislav replied.
The young prince rejoined his new Aesir-Aran wife on the first highseat of his new longhall. She was the most beautiful girl in the country of the Alans, wonderfully handsome, a picture painted by the Sun, Princess Nado of the Burgalty clan. Once they had spent enough time with their guests, Mstislav asked the young woman to show him to their master suite. She took him by the hand and led him down the highseat steps and the revellers applauded as they walked through the hall to the bedchambers. When they entered her master suite, Prince Rededya’s master suite, she led him to the edge of the bed, sat him down and began drawing his boots off. She looked up into his eyes and she said, “You have the spirit of Iry Dada in you,” and she looked down at his feet and pulled his socks off.
“What?” the prince said, sliding back onto the bed.
“It is okay,” she replied. “I am an Aran witch. I know about these things. Prince Rededya’s Kasogian name was pronounced Iry Dada and he is inside you. To me you shall be Mstiry Dada and I shall love you both.” She began to undress her new prince and then she undressed herself in front of him and she could see that her new prince wasn’t stimulated by her nakedness so, she joined him on the bed and started stroking his member and she whispered “Mstiry Dada, Mstiry Dada,” as she stroked and Mstislav grew hard whether he had wanted to or not and Nado straddled his hips and she slipped his hardness into her softness and began to ride him, very gently at first, and then faster, and then harder, and she began coming and crying “Mstiry, Mstiry,” as she came and soon Mstislav exploded inside her and he kept coming and coming and flowing and flowing until a white stream came running out of Nado and began pooling on the prince’s abdomen. “You flow for two,” she whispered as she collapsed onto his chest, breathing heavily. She stayed on top of him for a long time and she hugged him lovingly. “It is done,” she said. “I can feel it within me. I am pregnant. We don’t have to make love anymore if you do not wish it.”
Mstislav hugged her back. “Oh…I wish it! I wish it!” He had never come like that before in his life, so hard, and so long, with so much flow. They slept together for a few hours and then Mstislav woke up and she was on top of him again. “You were hard in your sleep,” she explained. “I have potions that will help you keep up your flows,” and she began whispering “Mstiry Dada, Mstiry Dada,” as she rode him.
Prince Hraerik took his small personal merchant fleet back out into the Black Sea and sailed past Cherson to the mouth of the Dnieper and they tried to catch up to the tail end of the great fleet, but it was already past Kiev when he stopped in the city to visit with Grand Prince Ivaraslav. “I hear that Prince Mstislav ‘the Fierce’,” Ivaraslav began, “is now Mstislav ‘the Focked’,” and he laughed as he recollected the news he had heard of the duel between Mstislav and Prince Rededya of the Kasogians.
“It may have looked that way,” Prince Hraerik said, “but Mstislav told me he missed the mark.”
“That’s not what I heard!” Ivaraslav said. “I heard some people say they saw him flow white, standing there dazed and confused, with a bloody dagger in his hand and flowing white come from his ass!”
“Don’t tell him that,” Prince Hraerik warned him. “Prince Mstislav had his reasons for fighting Iry Dada. He is going to build a church to thank the Virgin Mother for her help in the fight.”
“Yes! I heard she gifted him a knife while he was being focked up the ass! That church better be made of stone,” Ivaraslav said. “Long hard stone!”
“No good will come of you making bitter jest of the occurrence. Mstislav won and now has a beautiful young Alan wife, Princess Nado.”
“He already has a Christian wife,” Ivar objected, “and he’s only allowed the one.”
All princes are allowed an extra Aesir wife,” Hraerik corrected him, “to take them to Valhalla if they aren’t allowed in heaven. It is a tradition begun by your great uncle, Duke Rollo of Normandy.”
“King Hraelauger!” Ivar said, sitting down and taking a long draught of mead. “I haven’t heard that name in ages! Did he really do that? Is there really an Aesir witch sharing his sarcophagus with him in the Cathedral of Rouen?”
“That’s what I’ve been told,” Hraerik replied, “and by your great grandmother, Queen Alfhild. The ghost of Alfhild, that is,” he corrected himself.”
“Did she really fock you? Right here in King Frodi’s hall? Her spirit, that is.”
“A gentleman doesn’t say,” Hraerik said.
“She’s been dead for over a century,” Ivar protested, “and it’s her ghost anyway!”
“Still,” Hraerik repeated, “a gentleman doesn’t say.”
“Fine!” Ivar said. “I won’t call Mstislav ‘the Focked’.”
“Mstislav ‘the Fierce’ it is,” the Prince reminded him.
“Yes, Grandfather,” Ivaraslav said as he walked him out to the main quay of Kiev.
Prince Hraerik did not catch up with the great merchant fleet until he was almost upon England and then it was only the tail remnant of the fleet, the Normans, the Angles and the Irish. He passed them all with his smaller faster personal fleet and he could see the masts of all the tallships as he approached the harbour of Southampton. Queen Emma was waiting for him on the main quay there and he could see that she was relieved when she saw him.
“Some Norman merchants stopped in on their way back from Baghdad,” she explained, “and they said you’d be late again because you had to fight the Kasogians again!”
“Well, we won again,” the Prince told his wife, “and it should be for good this time,” and he told her about Prince Mstislav’s personal combat with Prince Iry Dada as they drank wine in her palace together and he did not spare her any of the details.
“Is his new wife really an Aesir witch?” she asked him.
“She is of the Aesir-Aran faith and purported to be the greatest witch of the Alans,” he replied.
The Alans are everywhere,” she said. “Even the Basques, those sneaky mother fockers, are supposed to have come from eastern Alan stock!”
“These are the original mountain Alans of the Aryans!” the Prince assured her. “She’s a princess of the Burgalty clan and they go way back past Zoroaster.”
“No! Really?” she said. “Is she going to be his suttee wife? Like King Gorm’s wife?”
“Queen Thyra wasn’t an Aesir witch, but she didn’t have to be. They were both Aesir. King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ was the first to convert of the Knytlings in Denmark.”
“So was this ‘Bluetooth’ buried with an Aesir witch,” Emma whispered.
“King Sweyn told me that Harald wasn’t even buried with his own head!” Hraerik whispered back. “Sweyn needed it, blue tooth and all, to show the Roman Emperors that he had killed him and was then worthy of his Roman throne.”
“And those focking yonis never gave it to him anyway!” Emma hissed.
“I always told him that the Romans would poison him if he took the throne in Constantinople,” he told her, “but it ended up being the English who poisoned him.”
“Well,” Emma consoled him, “you were half right.”
Prince Hraerik spent the rest of the day unloading chests of gold he had fetched from Gardariki into the Don Jon of Queen Emma’s palace. The next day Emma took her husband to Wight and showed him the progress on his new Gardariki. He saw King Canute’s ships all hauled up onto the beach of the harbour for the winter. “Next fall,” she started, “you’ll be able to unload your gold into your own Don Jon in King Sweyn’s castle!”
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
A.D. 1022. This year went King Knute out with his ships to the
Isle of Wight. And Bishop Ethelnoth went to Rome; where he was
received with much honour by Benedict the magnificent pope, who
with his own hand placed the pall upon him, and with great pomp
consecrated him archbishop, and blessed him, on the nones of
October. The archbishop on the self-same day with the same pall
performed mass, as the pope directed him, after which he was
magnificently entertained by the pope himself; and afterwards
with a full blessing proceeded homewards. Abbot Leofwine, who
had been unjustly expelled from Ely, was his companion; and he
cleared himself of everything, which, as the pope informed him,
had been laid to his charge, on the testimony of the archbishop
and of all the company that were with him.
The Prince Hraerik’s New Chronicle of the Hraes’ for the year read:
(1022 AD) Ivaraslav went to Brest. At this time Mstislav, who
was in Tmutorokan, attacked the Kasogians and was victorious.
When he returned to Tmutorokan, he founded a church dedicated
to the Holy Virgin and built it of long hard stone.