Ch. 20 PRINCESS ANNA PORPHYROGENNETOS

Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos of Constantinople

CHAPTER TWENTY

PRINCESS ANNA PORPHYROGENNETOS  (Circa 986-988 AD)

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)

(986)  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 stone-works.  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 Norman 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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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.”

Hraerik 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?” Hraerik 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, Hraerik 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 Hraerik.  “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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 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 three Roman princesses based solely upon their beauty, Kalokyras selected three Roman princesses based solely upon their family names for himself.  Prince Valdamar took his three 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 and the three girls managed to get messages out to their families and Magistrate Kalokyras was soon 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 Hraerik’s spy who had secretly sent off this information, but there was a question of what Kalokyras and Prince Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 three Roman princesses and because it had been going on for days, Hraerik 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 before her 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,” Hraerik 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,” Hraerik 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 good idea” Hraerik 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,” Hraerik said.  “Can you say hi to Princess Serah for me when you stop in Kiev?” Hraerik asked, and he gave Sweyn a wink.

“I always do,” Sweyn said.

When Sweyn’s small warfleet arrived in Kiev, Princess Serah met him on the main quay.  Later, as she was stroking him off, Sweyn asked her if she had ever told her husband, Hraerik, that she was in the habit of stroking him off when he passed through Kiev.

“I’ve never told him,” Serah said, “and he’s never asked.  Why?”

“He asked me to say hi to you for him as I passed through Kiev, and then he gave me a wink, like he knew what was going on.”

“Oh…that!” Serah said.

“What that?” Sweyn asked.

“He has spies in Kiev,” she told him.  “They’re not as good as his spies in Constantinople or his best spies in Baghdad, but I guess they’re better than I thought they were.”

“Fock!” Sweyn said, realizing how he’d been caught.

“Can I stroke you off first and then we’ll fock?” Serah asked.  “You last so much longer the second time!”

“You just want to watch me go off,” Sweyn teased.

“Well, of course!” Serah replied.  “It’s and amazing thing!”

When Sweyn’s small warfleet arrived in Roskilde harbour he saw some Swedish warships anchored there.  When he went into his palace, Gyritha was on his first highseat and she asked him to come up and join her for some wine.  She had news for him.

“My brother, King Eric, was here a month ago and he took Princess Aud to Sweden with him so he could marry her.  They’ve been betrothed for years,” she explained.

“Yes,” Sweyn told her.  “Jarl Haakon told me of her betrothal a few years ago.”

“I made sure I didn’t tell him that you’ve been helping yourself to Aud’s sweet little anus for the past few years because I didn’t want him to get angry with you.  But he got angry anyway.”

“He knows?” Sweyn asked.  “Does he have spies?”

“He never found out about Aud’s anus,” Gyritha reassured him.  “He was angry because he told you to keep me as your queen and when he found out that your wife, Sviataslava was queen and I had been demoted to queen consort, he got very angry.”

“Where is Svia?” Sweyn asked looking around the great hall.  He saw Queen Consort Malfrieda over in a corner of the hall with the children, but he couldn’t see his Roman wife anywhere.

“Is it true?” Gyritha asked.

“What?” Sweyn asked as he searched the far reaches of the hall.

“That he told you I was to be queen or he would be visiting you with his warfleet?”

“He did mention that!” Sweyn spat.  “I didn’t know that he was crazy enough to actually do it!”

“Well, he is that crazy!  He’s Eric ‘the Victorious’, and sometimes the byname goes to his head.  I’m your wife and I want you two to work things out amicably and I’d like to know that you’d appreciate my help in this matter.”

“Where is Svia?” Sweyn asked again.

“I’m just getting to that part,” Gyritha admitted, “but I’d like your reassurance that you’ll let me help you and Eric resolve your differences amicably.”

“I love you, and I’ll always be thankful for your help, in this and other matters.  Now where is Svia?”

“He took her as well,” Gyritha confessed.  “He saw her and he fell in love with her so, he took her and they had a double wedding.”

“He what?” Sweyn shouted, then he sat down beside his queen and he put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.  “She has that effect on men,” Sweyn admitted.

“She has that effect on women, as well,” Gyritha confessed.  When Sweyn looked up at her, she said, “I didn’t start it!  She came on to me!”

“Fock, fock, fock,” Sweyn said, talking into his crotch.  “Now I’ll have to go back to Kiev and get another mobile legion.  I hope Eric appreciates that I’m fighting a war right now with the Romans.  We sacked Cherson while I was gone!”

“You won’t need a legion,” Gyritha reassured him.  “I’m going to work this out between you two peacefully.”

“How are you going to do that?” Sweyn asked.

“First we have to find out if Queen Sviataslava wants to be rescued,” Queen Gyritha explained.  “Eric loves her so much, he demoted Queen Sigrid to queen consort, and boy is she pissed!  Perhaps Queen Svia loves him as much in return now?”

“That’s not going to happen,” Sweyn said.  “I promised to make Svia an empress of Rome.  She’s got her mind pretty much set on that.”

“Empress of Rome?” Gyritha said.  “How will you ever deliver on that promise?”

“I already have a contract with Rome that they make me co-Emperor, but those focking Romans are slippery as eels!  Trying to make them deliver on it is turning out to be more trouble than it’s worth.”

“I still have handmaidens in Uppsala and I have them keeping an eye on Svia and she seems to be enjoying her time with Eric.  I know, I know, she should be here with you, but I’ll make it up to you in so many ways if you’ll just be patient.  Gunhilde will help me.  Have you ever had a mother and daughter team work on you?  I mean really work on you?”

Sweyn looked up at her with interest.

“Besides, I’ve already arranged for Queen Svia’s escape,” Gyritha said.  “One of my handmaidens has already told Svia, if she ever wants to leave, she can get her to Novgorod.  Wasn’t Queen Consort Malfrieda a handmaiden there once?” she asked.  “Handmaidens always stick together.  My handmaiden knows her people there.”

“Does your mother daughter team include Malfrieda?”

“Not unless you want a grandmother, mother, daughter team?”

“Perhaps she can have a sleepover with the children tonight,” Sweyn offered.

“That would be wonderful,” Gyritha said.  “Your wife, Gunhilde, gave you a son while you were gone.  We would like to name him Svein, after you.  Malfrieda is so good with him.”

While King Sweyn met with young Gunhilde, Malfrieda and the children, Queen Gyritha went to a Hraes’ slave shop where she had purchased handmaidens before and she asked the master slaver there what was so special about the mother-daughter slave pairs he often sold.  “Why are they worth double what they would be worth alone?” she asked the man.  The slaver told her what he had heard in Baghdad and the stories he had heard in Constantinople and she could only reply, “Oh my,” and “Oh dear,” and ”Oh…really?”  She had known the slaver for many years because he sold her many handmaidens in Sweden as well so, she believed all the incredible things he had told her about mother-daughter slave pairs and she understood their increased worth.

When Sweyn went to his bedroom that night, Gyritha stood naked in front of him and she welcomed him and told him that their daughter had watched them have sex the night before.  When they had sent her out of the room so they could have sex, she had knelt and watched their full copulation through the keyhole.  “She must be punished!” Gyritha said.  “I sent our daughter to bed, but she must be spanked for her insolence.”

Sweyn looked toward the bed and Gunhilde laid on it covered by a translucent white silk sheet and he could see that she was naked as well.  Gyritha began undressing Sweyn and said,  “Come out from under the sheets and accept your punishment!” and she sat Sweyn, naked, on the edge of the bed.  Gunhilde laid herself down across his knees and he saw her sweet buttocks braced for a paddling.  “You must punish her!” Gyritha urged.  Sweyn began spanking the girl and her bum turned red and warm with the smacking, and Sweyn’s right palm warmed too.  His lingam grew stiffer with each slap of her rump.  “Now get back under the covers and watch,” Gyritha ordered, and Gunhilde got up off his lap, using his hard penis as a crutch as she rose.  She dashed under the covers in fear and she watched as Gyritha pushed Sweyn onto his back and took his cock up into her mouth and began sucking.  “You’d better be watching, you little tramp,” she told Gunhilde, as she straddled Sweyn’s hips and lowered herself onto his member.  “As further punishment, you shall watch what you are forbidden to enjoy,” and Gyritha began riding Sweyn’s member as Gunhilde watched with big round eyes from under the silks.  Gyritha was soon moaning in orgasm and Sweyn exploded inside her and then hugged her close.  “That was so…,” Sweyn whispered, “I can’t describe it!”

“I must go to the dressing room and relieve myself,” Gyritha said, tucking Sweyn into bed beside Gunhilde.  “When I get back, I think you should spank her again!” and she looked at Gunhilde and spat, “Little tramp!”

When she went into the dressing room and closed the door, Gunhilde slid under the sheets and took Sweyn’s member into her mouth and sucked it hard again.  She then threw back the sheets and she straddled Sweyn’s hips and she said, “I can do this as good as mother,” and she slid onto his erect cock.  She began riding Sweyn, only faster, as if she wanted to get it done before her mother returned to the room.  She soon began moaning and crying out “father, father,” and the two were soon coming together and Sweyn hugged her close and thrust deep to discharge the last of it.  When Gyritha came out of the dressing room, Gunhilde pulled herself off Sweyn and pretended to be asleep under the covers.

“Asleep already,” Gyritha said, “and her punishment half over!”  She walked around the huge bed and threw back the silks and grabbed Gunhilde by the wrist and dragged her across the bed and across Sweyn’s lap until her bum was over his crotch.  “Spank her,” Gyritha demanded, and Sweyn began to paddle Gunhilde’s sweet buttocks again and they turned beet red very quickly this time as Sweyn’s penis again grew stiff with each slap of her rear.  He felt Gunhilde’s hand upon his member and she directed its growth into her honey well and each time he smacked her bottom it went in a little deeper and Gyritha urged the spanking on, seemingly oblivious to her daughter being focked with each stroke of Sweyn’s palm.  Gunhilde was soon crying out in ecstasy as she rocked back and forth across Sweyn’s hips and Gyritha encouraged the strokes and the rocking, unaware of what was going on underneath.  “You can cry out all you want,” Gyritha shouted, “but the punishment shall not stop until you father has spanked the tramp right out of you!”  And Sweyn exploded inside Gunhilde and he grabbed her ass and rocked it across his hips manually until he was done inside her.

“She’s had enough for now,” Gyritha said, and she pushed Sweyn back down and she straddled his beard.  “Now watch!” she ordered, as Sweyn put his tongue in her honey well and savoured her taste.  And so it went for most of the night until the three collapsed into each other’s arms and fell asleep, sexually exhausted.

As Yuletide approached, Sweyn sent out invitations to all the Hraes’ stations and to all his allies for a great feast in Roskilde to celebrate his first Yulefest as King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson of Denmark.  King Eric ‘the Victorious’ was at the top of the list.  He had his men watching the Baltic for Sweyn’s legendary legionary transport warships, but they had seen none and Eric’s spies in Liere confirmed this.  There were no Hraes’ warships in Roskilde harbour, only King Harald’s fleet that had sworn allegiance to Sweyn.  But Jarl Haakon brought a small warfleet with him because he trusted no one, and Jarl Eirik brought a small warfleet because he had been taught by his father, and every Hraes’ station manager and prince brought a warship or two, and the Ui Imair of Ireland all brought a ship or two with each family representative, and the Angles of the York and London Hraes’ stations brought a small warfleet because England seemed to always be in conflict and Duke Richard of Normandy came with a legion of cataphracts, descendants of the old rented Roman cataphracts that King Ivar had left them with when he had saved young Richard from the Franks in 944.  The legion had been upgraded over the years and they carried Sweyn’s kite shields and improved armour and were practicing a new Roman thing called jousting and Sweyn had requested their attendance to demonstrate this new combat training method to all the Norse kings and princes that would be attending the twelve days of Yulefest.

When King Eric ‘the Victorious’ arrived in Roskilde harbour, it was full of warships, hundreds of warships and none of them were Sweyn’s yet all of them owed Sweyn loyalty in varying degrees from ‘I owe you my life’ to ‘I owe you my livelihood’.  Eric demanded that room be made for his hundred and twenty warships and Sweyn accommodated twenty and sent the other hundred to beach at the harbour town that served Liere.  Queen Gyritha assured her brother that King Sweyn held no grudges and was perfectly happy with the arrangements that stood between the Danish House of Skjold and the Swedish House of Munso.

While Eric visited with Gyritha, Sweyn visited with Svia.  “He’s crazy, you know,” Svia told Sweyn.  “You’d think he was Emperor of Rome, the way he goes on about his business.  He thinks he can conquer you, when he couldn’t even take on one of your many legions.”

“I know,” Sweyn said, sadly.  “Gyritha has told me some of the things he has done.  It’s amazing that he’s still alive.”

“Queen Sigrid almost killed him herself when he demoted her to make me queen.  She’s going to leave him soon, I can tell.”

“Do they treat you well?” Sweyn asked.  “You can leave him, too, if you wish.  I’m trying to keep the peace, but you can leave him and go to Novgorod with Gyritha’s handmaiden there.  And then you could go on to Kiev and stay with Prince Valdamar.”

“Her handmaiden made me the offer, but I’m fine for now.  King Eric is crazy, but he’s a gentleman and sex with him is crazy!  I’ll keep him entertained until he bores me.  Is Queen Gyritha taking good care of you?”

“She wasn’t at first, but when Eric carried you off, she decided to keep me entertained so I didn’t kill her brother.  She and her daughter Gunhilde work hard to keep me satisfied, and they know they’re up against your beauty so, they work very hard at it.  How is Aud?”

“She’s a gods’ send,” Svia said.  “Eric treats her as a queen consort and has sex with her once a week, which leaves Aud free to work on her bookmaking and she’s set up a scriptorium in Birka that is synchronized with her one in Lade.  What’s happening with your co-Emperorship?  Am I still your empress?”

“Yes.  But the Romans still aren’t cooperating.  I told you that I presented Basil and Constantine with documentation and proof of Danish kingship, and they’re still mulling it over, so, we sacked Cherson to speed things up a bit.”

“Did it work?  Are they in agreement?”

“They’re coming around.  They’ve offered Prince Valdamar a Roman princess, a Porphyrogennetos, to get Cherson back and we’re going to take two legions back to Anatolia this summer to put down a rebellion for them.  Prince Hraerik has asked for patience from all.”

“They can’t give him a Porphyrogennetos princess!” Svia said.  “It’s forbidden!”

“Apparently there’s something wrong with this one.  She’s part Hraes’.  Her mother was my mother’s handmaiden that she left in Constantinople to take care of Emperor Constantine the Seventh when we fled the city from the mob.  The Emperor knocked her up before he died and Princess Anna was raised with Basil and young Constantine as their sister.  Nobody knows this.”

“Holy shit!” Svia said.  “A Hraes’ princess born of the purple!  That’s incredible!  Emperor Romanos was one horny focker; he must have got it from his father.  I thought it was because he was half Armenian.  It’s a good thing Emperor John didn’t know she was Romanos’ sister and not daughter.  He would have married her as a Porphyrogennetos empress and ruled as full Emperor instead of sharing the throne with Romanos’ sons!”

“She was only nine at the time,” Sweyn said, doing the mental math.

“He would have raped her, then married her to save her name and he would have kept my cousin Theophano on the side for regular sex.”  Then Svia and Sweyn both said, “Those focking Armenians!”

“How is Theophano?” Sweyn asked.  “You girls still have things patched up?”

“She’s still in Aachen focking the German Emperor’s ass off for her life.  She’s doing fine.”

“I’ll bet she wishes she was a Hraes’ Porphyrogennetos princess.”

“She’d be in Constantinople on the throne of Rome instead of in a shithole like Aachen focking the ass off some old German prince.”

“You know what’s funny?” Sweyn told her.  “No.  What?” she asked.

“You remember Prince Ivar’s monster cock?”

“My honey well still aches for and from it,” Svia laughed.

“Well, Prince Valdamar has one just like it that he calls ‘the pink monster’, and it’s huge.  Malfrieda thinks her father was Prince Mal of Dereva because Empress Helga found her at the Battle of Iskorosten and Mal had a monster cock and she carries the cock in her bloodline.”

“Malfrieda’s a princess?” Svia asked.

“It could be,” Sweyn answered.  “Prince Valdamar has always suffered because he was princely from my side but of handmaiden slave stock from Malfrieda’s side when she may actually be a princess.  And now he’s going to marry a Roman princess, a Porphyrogennetos, that is supposedly royal from both sides but is actually of handmaiden slave stock on her mother’s side, too.”

“That’s ironic,” Svia said as Sweyn leaned over and kissed her.

“Try to be patient,” Sweyn told her.  “We’re going to get young Valdy a Porphyrogennetos princess and then we’re going to get us a Roman throne and then I’ll reconquer Bulgaria and we’ll live in Pereslavet, just like we planned.”

“Just as you planned!  I want us to live in Constantinople!”

“Okay,” Sweyn said.  “Fock Bulgaria and fock Wallachia!  We’ll live in Constantinople!  I’ll reconquer the Levant for the Romans.”

“That’s my prince!  I’m going with you.  I want to enter Jerusalem and Damascus with you!”

At mid-Yuletide, the jousting began.  The Roman knights of the First Rouen Regiment were to go up against the Frankish knights of the Third Rouen Regiment and the Norman knights of the Second Rouen Regiment were to go up against the Viking knights of the Fourth Rouen Regiment, all out of the First Rouen Legion of Cataphracts of Richard the First of Normandy.  There was a thin blanket of snow covering a field just outside of the city of Roskilde and wooden viewing stands had been built in front of the city walls and the legionary pavilions were across from the stands and a jousting run sat between the two.  The top six knights of the Roman regiment congregated at one end of the run and the top six knights of the Frankish regiment gathered about the other end.  The Romans were all descendants of the Byzantine knights that King Ivar had hired to venture north to fight the Franks over Normandy, the ones who found fine Frankish wives while north and never returned to Constantinople, and the Frankish regiment was composed of cavalrymen of the Frankish king who were training with the Normans, so the rivalry between the two groups was intense, as they had fought against each other a generation earlier.

A scale mail armoured knight on a ring mailed horse stood at each end of the run, each on the right of a heavy short fence that ran the length of the run and they charged at each other with lances lowered and shields held high and the Roman knight unseated the Frank, who tumbled into the dirt and snow and had to be helped up so he could recover while the next pair of cataphracts faced off.  King Eric ‘the Victorious’ and Queen Svia had been given prime seats next to King Sweyn and Queen Gyritha and Queen Consort Gunhilde because Sweyn wanted to instruct his brother-in-law in the differences between cataphracts and the light cavalry that was common in the northern lands.

“Cataphracts are a combination of heavily armoured knights on armoured horse compared to northern cavalry who are lightly armoured with completely unarmoured horse,” Sweyn explained to Eric.  “My cousin, Duke Richard has two legions of cataphracts, but he has only brought one of them for the jousting games.”  King Eric visibly winced as another knight, a Roman this time, was unseated.  “Each legion has five thousand knights,” Sweyn went on, “and I don’t really see how he can afford to keep two, but he does.  We Hraes, have two legions in Kiev and another two in Tmutorokan, but we need them because we’re fighting Pecheneg horsemen all the time.”

“That’s twenty thousand cavalrymen,” Eric stammered.

Queens Svia, Gyritha and Gunhild were sitting a little behind and offset from the men, but Gyritha was letting Gunhilde do most of the talking so she could listen in on the men’s conversation.  “Twenty thousand cataphracts,” Sweyn corrected.  Our three mobile legions each have four thousand heavy cavalry who are armoured as well as these except the horse are lightly armoured for better mobility.”

“That’s another twelve thousand,” Eric said.

“And our mobile legions also each have six thousand foot soldiers who have horses as well and can double up as light cavalry.”

“That’s another eighteen thousand!”

“Yes, for about fifty thousand total,” Sweyn boasted.  “And we have another six legions of foot soldiers that are ten thousand strong each.  One in Novgorod, one in Chernigov, two in Kiev and two in Tmutorokan.”

“That’s sixty thousand foot!”

“I know it might seem excessive at first, but these Pecheneg hordes we fight can number up to eighty thousand light horse, and when I conquered Bulgaria for Rome, I almost ran out of troops!  I would have carried on and attacked Constantinople, but I just didn’t have enough men left alive.”

“You attacked Constantinople?”

“The Hraes’ always seem to attack the Romans at least once every generation, whether we need to or not.  Prince Hraerik in eight sixty, his son, King Oddi, in nine oh seven, my father, King Ivar, in nine forty five, and I would have in nine seventy, but I almost ran out of men before I ran out of Bulgarians!” and Sweyn laughed and slapped his knee and patted Eric on the shoulder affectionately.  “But I’d been at war with the Wallachians and then the Khazar Empire and then the Bulgarian Empire for about five years straight, so, when the Romans wouldn’t pay me what they owed me, I just didn’t have enough men left to collect the debt.  I’m still trying to get them to pay.  We sacked their city of Cherson last fall and now we’re making them pay, but they still owe me a co-Emperorship on the throne of Rome.”

King Eric winced again as another knight was unseated and he felt the crash of the lances on shields and he knew he didn’t want to be on a shield wall with five thousand heavy cataphracts charging straight at him.  He had fielded an army of ten thousand once when he’d been at war with the Danes and he thought, at the time, that it was a vast array, but the numbers Sweyn seemed to be talking about were many times larger.  He began to wonder if any country of the north could stand up to the Hraes’ and then he wondered if all the Norse countries, bound together somehow, could even do it.

“I heard you talking with Eric,” Gyritha told Sweyn as she undressed him for bed.  “How much of it was true and how much was bragarful?”

“It was all true,” Sweyn told her.

“No!” she responded.  “Your Hraes’ have attacked Rome three or four times?  And you have all those legions?”

“Last fall was the fifth time we’ve attacked the Romans.  And we have even more legions and we also have Pechenegs that fight for us.  But the biggest fighting force we have is still our own huge merchant fleet and they’re all Vikings.  King Ivar tripled the size of the Hraes’ Trading Company in his lifetime.  There’s a lot of gold being made and a lot of it to protect.”

“Your daughter, Gunhilde, was under the stands today sucking the cock of some Roman knight and you must punish her,” Gyritha then told him.  Sweyn looked over at the bed and Gunhilde was under the silk sheets, naked, looking at him imploringly.  “We have something special worked out for you tonight,” Gyritha said as she sat him on the bed.  “And the neighbour girl was under the stands with her,” Gyritha added, “stroking off a Norman knight, and she must be punished as well!”  And Sweyn saw another head pop out from under the sheets and it was Queen Svia and she looked naked and afraid as well.  “It was her idea,” Gyritha whispered, “and Eric let her come.”  As Sweyn was spanking Gunhilde and making her demonstrate to him exactly how she had performed what she had performed on the Roman knight, he watched Gyritha and Svia pleasuring each other and he could see that they were quite familiar with each other’s personal sexual preferences.

When King Eric was ready to return to Sweden, he asked Queen Svia to come back with him and she agreed and checked with King Sweyn to make sure it was okay with him.  “Eric wanted me to make sure you’re okay with how the arrangement has been working out,” Svia told him.  ‘As long as you’re happy,” Sweyn said, “and are trying to be patient with the Roman thing, then I’m happy too!”  The Swedes left peacefully and in good spirits with their hundred and twenty warships and the Hraes’ merchant princes slowly drifted away from the festivities.

When Duke Richard had his legion of cataphracts packed up and ready to go,  King Sweyn gave him a chest of gold to cover expenses and a chest of gold to award to the victors of the jousting games categories.  The Norman knights had won overall with the Viking knights victorious in numerous classes of combat and there were surprisingly few deaths.  Duke Richard told Sweyn, “If you need help against the Romans, you can count on my cataphract legions.  You won’t have run out of men until I, too, have run out of men.”  And the Duke and his warfleet sailed north around Jutland and then southwest along the coast for Normandy.

The last guests to leave were Jarls Haakon and Eirik and their wives and families.  “I miss our nights together,” Eirik confessed to Sweyn when they were alone in the palace library, “at your longhall in Lade with Alfled and Aud.”  Sweyn knew what Eirik missed most, the intimacy of the Theban Sacred Band of Brothers and he locked the library doors and he unbuttoned his pants and took out his lingam and Eirik knelt down before him and took it up into his mouth and began sucking it sweetly.  He swallowed the member and regurgitated it with ease over and over and Sweyn guessed it was something Sveinn Buison had taught him through practice on long Norwegian nights in Lade.  When Eirik had sucked it long and hard he looked up at Sweyn and Sweyn bent him over a desk and pulled down his pants and entered Eirik from behind.  He thrust deeply into him and began slow and gentle but soon picked up the pace and erupted inside him.  Sweyn then laid Eirik back upon the desk and took Eirik’s lingam into his mouth and sucked it harder than it already was if that was even possible.  He couldn’t swallow it up as Eirik had, for that took practice, but he took as much of it as he could in his mouth and when it was ready he went upon the desk and straddled Eirik’s hips and he lowered himself onto it.  He rode Eirik’s steed until Eirik was flowing within him and then they laid beside each other for a while and enjoyed the peace of their breathing.  The next day Jarls Eirik and Haakon sailed north with their small warfleets past Jutland, then east and north up the coast of Norway to Trondheim Fjord.

(987)  King Sweyn enjoyed his winter nights of sexcapades with Queen Gyritha and Queen Consort Gunhilde and he enjoyed the quiet tender sex he experienced on winter nights with Queen Consorts Malfrieda, Alfled and Thora and, as spring approached, he got the nagging feeling that nature was going to make him pay for the pleasure he was enjoying for months on end.  Days spent skating on frozen ponds with Gyritha and her children and nights spent trying to make more of them, but Gunhilde was the only wife blessed with fertility and she was soon pregnant again.

Then the spring merchant ships began arriving in Roskilde harbour, at first just a few, and then many and too soon it was time to go east.  Sweyn led the Hraes’ merchant fleet across the Baltic, throngs of ships, thousands in numbers and some split off and sailed up the Nieman River into Poland to trade with the Lithuanians and the Prussians and the Wends on their way south.  A portage had been built and run to service their needs and get them across to the Pripyat River and onwards to Kiev, but most ships still plied the Dvina River and traded with the Sclavs and the Livonians and the Kurlanders on their way to the Surazh-Smolensk portage and then Kiev.

Princess Serah met Sweyn on the quays of Kiev and he could see she was pregnant.  “Yours,” she reassured him, “and it should be a boy.”

“That’s wonderful!” Sweyn told her and he got down on his knees and he kissed her belly and he felt her swelling stomach and worked his hands up and felt her swollen breasts.  “They’re huge!” he said, suddenly aroused.

“Prince Hraerik hasn’t visited once since summer,” she complained.  “He’ll know it’s not his.”

“Then tell him it’s mine.  Tell him we made a mistake, and let’s go now and make another.  Just short and quick and we’ll tend to the fleet,” he said, directing a lieutenant to take over, and he led Serah along the dock.  “I must taste you,” he said, “taste of your breasts!”

“They’re not flowing yet,” she assured him.

“Let me make them,” he said.  “Let me make them flow again.”

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 Hraerik 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.  Sweyn and Valdamar stayed in Cherson and Sweyn put his two mobile legions through their paces while Valdamar installed the First Kievan Legion in the city of Cherson and across the surrounding peninsula.  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.  For 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 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.

Once Bardas Skleros’ band of conspirators was completely dispersed, 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 were harassing Roman territory and mercilessly plundering Macedonia, killing everyone in their path.  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 to 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 west and recaptured much Bulgaria that had been taken by the Hraes’ and was then stolen by the Romans.

Over the winter, while King Sweyn had been celebrating his first Yulefest in Denmark, 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 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.

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 counter attack.  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 air tight wooden casket and they took it back to Cherson with them.  King Sweyn bid farewell to Princes Hraerik 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 son and he gave her a chest of gold before he caught up with the fleet and returned to Denmark.

Prince Hraerik 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 Hraerik’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,” Hraerik told his great grandson, “and she wasn’t too enamored with the Emperor, so Constantine shamelessly plied Helga with gifts of silks and perfumes and fashions and gold jewelry 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 Hraerik 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,” Hraerik ‘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!” Hraerik 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 Hraerik shook his head in disbelief.  ‘If this young man ever went to Gujarat with him, he’d never come back,’ Hraerik thought.  “And in Cappadocia and Phrygia,” Valdamar continued.

“Kiev will be fine!” Hraerik 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 Hraerik 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 Hraerik questioned the paternity of the child but she realized that Prince Hraerik 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.

When King 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 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for that year read:

A.D. 987.  This year was the port of Watchet plundered.

Most of the population of Watchet was 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 to which the Kievan Legions were accustomed.

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 marvelous!”

“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 hard.”

“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 Hraerik, 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 high chair 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 woolen 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 chiseled 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 woolens.  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.

(988)  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!”

Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos in Cherson

“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.

Princess Anna of the Purple Gave Birth to the Czars of Russia