Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
QUEEN HELGA AND EMPEROR CONSTANTINE (Circa 953-959 AD)
2. To moil at the mill the maids were bid,
to turn the grey stone as their task was set;
lag in their toil he would let them never,
the slaves’ song he would unceasing hear.
Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda
Helga led the northern merchant fleet south and when she arrived in Constantinople, she went straight to the palace to visit Emperor Constantine with her personal bodyguard. When she came before the Emperor, she was allowed several of her officers in the throne room, which was never condoned for public audiences, but Constantine wanted Helga to feel as safe and comfortable as possible. She was still as beautiful as ever. Her long blonde hair still danced, and her blue eyes still shone radiantly. She seemed even taller than he remembered, and his eyes fell upon her breasts and he had to force his gaze away from them. Her long dress was of dark blue wool and she had a beautiful white sable throw around her shoulders. The weather must have been cooler this trip, he thought, then said, “I hope you had a good journey, Queen Helga.
“Our fleet was immense so, our journey was safe,” Princess Helga stated imperiously. “The weather was cooler this time.”
“Yes. You do look beautiful in your sable,” the Emperor said.
Princess Helga stood straighter still and moved her shoulders so that both her hair and her sable danced, and she addressed the Emperor in impeccable Latin, “Your city is still very quaint. Could you show me to my apartments?”
“Yes, of course,” the Emperor answered in Latin, stepping down from the throne and taking her by the arm. “Your Latin has improved,” he said as they began walking through the palace complex.
“Yes,” Helga said. “I read your book and it improved my Latin.”
“What did you think of it?” Constantine asked.
“I loved it!” she said, enthusiastically. “It was so interesting I had to share it with Prince Hraerik in Tmutorokan and he would like to translate it into both Norse and Sanskrit if you’ll allow him to.”
“Why yes, of course,” Constantine said. “I have met Prince Hraerik. I would be honoured to have a worthy skald such as Hraerik Bragi translating my book.” He walked her to the same apartments in the palace she’d had years earlier. Her cohort of personal bodyguards began settling into their rooms they’d had previously, and Helga invited Constantine into her suite. “I cannot stay long,” Constantine said, apologetically.
“Oh, this will not take long,” she responded as she closed the door and gently stepped into his arms and kissed him. “I have missed you so.”
“I love the fragrance you’re wearing,” the Emperor said as Helga’s breasts brushed against his chest.
“I’m wearing the rose fragrance you sent me,” Helga whispered. “It’s my favourite.”
“I thought you’d like it,” the Emperor said. “Perhaps I could come by tonight and visit with you?”
“That would be wonderful!” Helga said. “Till tonight then.”
“You said you were bringing your son, Svein?” Constantine asked.
“He changed his mind and didn’t want to come,” she said.
“I’m sorry he didn’t come. I was looking forward to meeting him.”
“He promised to come next trip,” she said, walking him to the door. She gave him a quick kiss as he left the suite and she closed the door after him.
There was a spring in the Emperor’s step as he walked with his bodyguards. ‘Next trip!’ he thought as he entered the throne room.
That evening, Helga dismissed her personal guard for the night and soon there was a quiet knocking at her door. It was Constantine, so she let him in, and he posted his own personal guard outside her suite. She took his coat and sat him at the table of her great room and poured him some sparkling wine and served him some Khazar Vayar on tasty wafers. The Emperor could not take his eyes off her as she served him. Helga was wearing a seductive red silk dress and it hugged her body as she moved, and it fit her curves exactly. She poured herself some wine and sat down next to him. “How have you been?” she asked in Greek. “Your envoys said you missed me.”
“I have missed you,” he said. “I’ve missed you so much.”
How much have you missed me?”
“How is your bedroom?” he laughed.
“I’m sure there’s still a problem with the bed,” she said. “Let’s go see,” and she led him into the bedroom.
“What’s the problem?” he asked, bending over the mattress.
“You’re not on it,” she said, and she pushed him onto the bed and began slipping out of her dress. She was naked in a flash of red and she joined him on the bed and started to tear his clothes off. He was hard by the time she’d undressed him so, she sucked on his penis to get it wet and comfortable and then she mounted his steed and began riding it. “It’s been so long,” she whispered as she began to speed up. Soon he was moaning in pleasure and he came within her, but Helga did not stop and began moaning herself to keep him hard and soon she came and collapsed onto him and she put her cheek upon his as she felt his member dissipate.
She pulled the silk sheet over them both and slid off him as his penis pulled out of her. She tucked herself into his arm and she felt suddenly tired from her long day and drifted off in his arms. Constantine held her for hours as she slept and with each passing hour, he loved her more and more. When she woke up it was dark, as the candles had all burned out and she said, “I’m sorry I fell asleep. How long have I been out?”
“I’ve been holding you in my arms for a few hours,” he answered. “You make me feel like a man, my queen.”
“And you make me feel like a queen, my man.” She felt under the sheet and he was hard. “How long have you been hard like this?” she asked.
“For a few hours,” he answered. She pulled him on top of herself and then she pulled him inside herself. When they woke up in the morning, they cleaned each other up in her dressing closet and they dressed each other in her bedroom, then they returned to the great room and ate the rest of the Khazar Vayar and drank some sparkling wine. “I have a full slate in court today,” he said, “but can I come tonight bearing gifts?”
“Just come tonight bearing yourself,” she said as she kissed him at the door. Helga had trading business to take care of, so she put on her sable wrap and put mink muffs on her wrists and left the apartment with her troop of legionnaires following her. She met up with Captain Biorn in the central market and inspected the booths the Hraes’ traders had set up in choice locations throughout the bazaar. “These are excellent locations,” she told Biorn.
“We get the best locations,” he replied. “That’s why all the other merchants complain.”
“They complain about us?”
“They say we get the best spots because the Emperor is in love with you, my princess.”
“And what do you say?”
“I say, given half a chance, the Emperor would be a fool not to love you, my princess.”
“And Emperor Constantine is no fool”, she concluded.
When Princess Helga got back to her apartments after lunch, there were servants waiting outside her great room bearing gifts. There were flowers and vases and sweets and more bottles of fragrances. In one box there was another copy of ‘De Administrando Imperio’ and it was addressed to Prince Hraerik ‘Bragi’ Hraegunarson and the first folio was signed by the Emperor with a note giving Hraerik permission to translate. In yet another box there were four bottles of very fine wine with accompanying golden goblets and in a final wrapped gift there was a his and hers very sexual red silk sleep set.’
That evening, Helga again dismissed her personal guard for the night and soon there was a quiet knocking at her door. It was Constantine, and he was carrying an armful of roses. She let him in, and he again posted his personal guard outside her suite. She took the flowers from him and placed them in one of the vases he had gifted her. He came in and saw that she was wearing the seductive red silk sleepwear that he had given her. “You are gorgeous!” “Where is my set?”
“In the bedroom,” she answered, and she led him into the bedroom and removed his clothes. She put his silk top on and knelt down to put his bottoms on, then looked up and saw his cock in front of her face. It was circumcised and quite nice looking, so she took it in her mouth and began sucking on it. As it was growing hard, she looked up at Constantine and he seemed to be enjoying the pleasure so she took it all into her mouth and he began going off against the back of her throat, his hot thick semen splashing against her tonsils as she swallowed it down. When he was done, she licked him clean and pulled up his new red silk bottoms. She got up off her knees, stepped back and calmly said, “They look sexy.”
Constantine was still gasping from his orgasm as he threw himself at her and hugged her in his arms. “I love you,” he whispered, and he picked her up and carried her to the bed. He pulled her bottoms off and returned the favour.
The next morning, Constantine asked if he could visit her again that evening, and she said yes, and she kept saying yes, all summer long and Constantine kept plying her with gifts until it was time for her re-baptism. Then Constantine nervously asked her if she would mind if the patriarch re-baptised her this time so that she would be his goddaughter.
“But I enjoy it when your envoys show up on my baptismal anniversary bearing your warm greetings and gifts. I can always fall away from the faith again.”
“I was hoping to send you greetings and gifts more frequently, as my fiancé. Say yes and I will send you greetings and gifts on every religious holiday, your birthday and your baptismal anniversary.”
“What about the Empress?” Helga asked.
“Ours was a forced marriage. We were married to each other while we were still children so that Romanos could become Emperor instead of me. We are friends, but we have never loved each other. Not the way we do.”
“You’ll divorce her?”
“Yes, but just before our marriage.”
“I can still only visit you every second summer. Even when we are married. I have my own realm to run.”
“I shall die waiting for you,” Constantine said. “But I would wait forever for just one more night with you.”
“I don’t trust your people. The Roman people. Rumours have spread over this summer and your subjects prefer a native Empress to a foreign one.”
“Empress Helena isn’t even Roman. Her father is Armenian. The Lekapenos are Armenian.”
“But she was born in Constantinople. I’m a Varangian. I was born in Sweden. If we announce our engagement, your court will scheme and plot until they stop our wedding.”
“We’ll keep our engagement secret,” he said.
“How will we explain all the gifts?”
“I’ll tell everyone that I still consider you to be my goddaughter,” Constantine began. “Everyone knows how much affection I have for you and I’ll address the gifts to my goddaughter, Helene.”
“Before we seal our secret engagement,” Helga started, “I must confess that I became a Christian so I could share heaven with my husband, Ivar.”
“Perhaps Ivar will share you with me?”
“Ivar likely would not share anything with a Roman.”
“Not even a Roman who supported him?”
“You supported Ivar?”
“I’ve always admired Prince Hraerik and his son, Prince Ivar. They gave the Armenians who usurped my throne a good licking. I was on the walls of Constantinople when Ivar rowed across the Golden Horn in a twelve oared boat, right in front of our fleet of dromons. The Armenians were too lazy to even come out and watch. Our navy was going to kill him, but I gave them the signal to back off. And I’m glad I did. Were it not for Ivar and Hraerik, those Armenian princes would still be sitting on my throne as Emperors.”
“Perhaps he would be willing to share me a little.”
“I’ll only ask him for every second summer,” Constantine offered and they both laughed. “So, in the eyes of God, and only God, we are betrothed to each other in secret.”
“Yes, in secret,” Helga agreed.
So, Helga was baptised by the patriarch a week before she left Constantinople with her fleet, but she continued sleeping with Constantine because the patriarch was now her godfather. And she decided to stay in Constantinople two weeks longer, for Constantine’s daily gifts had increased in value to match their increased commitment to each other.
Princess Helga caught up to Prince Hraerik and his Baghdad fleet at the Dnieper Rapids portages and they went to Kiev together , closed out the business season, grabbed Svein and went to Tmutorokan to overwinter. One morning in Gardariki, Hraerik woke up and Helga and Silkisif were having an early chat over his chest. “The Emperor asked you to marry him?” Silkisif repeated. “What did you tell him?”
“I told him I’d think about it. What do you think about it, Prince?”
“Do you love him the way I love you?” Hraerik said. “Because if you do, you should seriously consider it. He is, after all, the Roman Emperor.”
“Do you love me, Hraerik?” Helga asked. “Really love me?”
“I love you both,” Hraerik said. “We are family, we are blood. I treasure our winters together in Tmutorokan as being the best years of my life.”
In the spring, Hraerik took Helga and Svein back to Kiev and he led the Hraes’ merchant fleet back south. Captain Biorn led the Hraes’ Christian and pagan fleets to Constantinople, while General Sun Wu led the Cathayan fleet east and Hraerik and Sihtric went on to Baghdad and Hraerik later went on to India. Trading went well in all sectors, so profits were high, but Hraerik noticed a growing power emerging in southern India and he wondered if this empire was the one he’d foreseen attacking Mumba and Gujarat in the future. He warned Maharaja Rajan about it and Raj said he would keep many eyes on it. All this peace was making Hraerik nervous. Even the Levant was quiet, the Arabs and Romans having fought themselves to a standstill. But Hraerik would take a shaky peace over war anytime as long as he got his winters in Tmutorokan.
Helga led the northern merchant fleet south and when she arrived in Constantinople, she went straight to the palace to visit Emperor Constantine with her son, Svein and her personal bodyguard. When she came before the throne, she introduced Svein to Emperor Constantine of the Eastern Roman Empire in Latin. Constantine saw that Helga was still as beautiful as ever and he could see a bit of her in Svein, but he saw more of Ivar in the boy. He had long blonde hair like his mother, but his blue eyes were Ivar’s. He was tall but not overly so, and he looked powerfully built like one who had started military training at an early age. His clothes were those of a warrior, a Varangian. The Emperor asked him how the journey had been in Latin and the teen answered in Latin, “Not long enough.”
“Your son seems to be a young warrior of good intellect,” Constantine told Helga as he walked them to her apartments. “Svein shall have his own suite,” and he opened the door for Svein to explore it and, as he walked Helga to her suite, he asked, “Is there any language that you speak that Svein does not?”
“He has been taught to speak all the languages I have learned.”
“I’ll have to teach you Armenian,” he said. Then he said a few words that Helga couldn’t understand. “That’s Armenian for ‘I love you, my betrothed’. Can I visit later?”
“Only if it is much later, once Svein has retired.”
“Until much later,” Constantine said and kissed her quickly, then left.
“I love the rooms,” Svein said. “Are they all for me?”
“The bedroom is all for you,” she said. “My hand maiden will be sleeping in the great room. She is responsible for your care, so listen to what she tells you.” She then gave Svein a tour of the palace and they were followed by a bodyguard of the Kievan legion. “Don’t go anywhere without them,” she told him. “We keep a full company at the apartments, so there will always be soldiers available to provide security. Constantinople can be a dangerous place.”
“Can you show me where the Varangian guard stays? I heard it was in the palace somewhere.”
“It is in the School of Themes,” Helga said. “And that will be coming up soon. Some of our own Kievan legionnaires are now in the Varangian guard. Once they have completed their service requirements, they are free to join the guard. Many of them do because the Emperor pays them quite handsomely and he is generous with gifts for gallantry.”
When they got to the school, Svein wanted to talk to all the famed warriors of the guard. Many of them were highly skilled warriors from Ireland, Angleland, Normandy and all the Scandinavian countries, but the majority of them were from Hraes’. All the best fighters were from Hraes’, especially from the Kievan and Tmutorokan legions. Hraerik, Ivar and General Sun Wu always made sure they were trained to the high Roman standards of discipline, skill and courage. When Hraes’ legionnaires came to the guard, they meshed in perfectly with the Roman system. That was the main reason the Varangian Guard was paid so well. They were as well trained as the best Roman legionnaires only they were bigger, stronger and braver than the Romans and their loyalty was exclusively to the Emperor.
All members of the Varangian Guard knew Queen Helga and they all loved her and were loyal to her, which was one reason the Roman people feared a Varangian Empress and the main reason that she had to keep her engagement to the Emperor secret. Helga kept it secret from her own family as well. She didn’t want young Svein to feel responsible for letting the secret slip, as youths often do.
“Can I stay and train with them?” Svein asked his mother.
“I can ask the Guard commander,” she offered. I have to help Captain Biorn set up our merchants so, perhaps you can train for a few hours and I could come back for you. But I’ll leave you two bodyguards to stay with you at all times.” Helga received permission from the commander for Svein to train and she left him in the hands of his bodyguards.
“Excellent locations, Biorn,” Helga complimented.
“It is all your doing, my princess,” Biorn said. “Rumour has it that the Emperor loves you more than ever!”
“Of course,” Helga said, holding her chin up. “Emperor Constantine is no fool.” She looked about the market and tried to come up with some improvements but Biorn had handled everything well. “What we need here,” she said, “is a Hraes’ station and store!”
“That is not going to happen,” Biorn said. “Not in Constantinople.”
“We’ve recently opened up stores in Sinope and Trebizond and those are Roman cities.”
“Yes,” Biorn said gingerly, “but we have a Roman consul’s wife running those operations for us.”
“Perhaps an opportunity shall present itself and we’ll see just how enamoured the Emperor is with me,” the princess said, imperiously.
When Helga returned to the School of Themes, she found Prince Svein still training hard and several famous guardsmen were helping him with his sword skill. The commander even gave Svein some advice that might someday save his life. “The commander said I could come tomorrow if you approve,” Svein said. “Can I?”
“You’ll have to go to bed early then,” Helga said. “Your body will need rest to rebuild itself or your training will be squandered.”
There were servants waiting in the hall bearing gifts when Helga and Svein got back to their suites. They even had some new training gear for Svein. “I told you the Emperor was very generous with gifts,” Helga told her son. “And he seems to have known what you were up to this afternoon.” Later, servants arrived with platters of food and drink for the suites and the bodyguards. Svein took his supper in his mother’s suite and they ate and talked together.
“I wish I would have come here two years ago!” Svein told her. “I’m learning from the best of the best!”
“Don’t tell your grandfather that.”
“Grampa’s old,” Svein replied.
“He’s still the best ever!” Helga said, and she meant it.
Svein went to bed in his suite shortly after supper. He had trained hard all afternoon and the Varangians in the Guard could see that their young prince was driven. He was a natural born warrior.
The Emperor arrived late and was about to tap when Helga opened the door. “Come in, Constantine,” she whispered. “I’ve missed you,” and she gave him a warm kiss. They went straight to the bedroom to show themselves how much they had missed each other and after an hour their lust was temporarily sated.
“I take it you haven’t told Svein about us?”
“Our betrothal is our secret,” she said. “Children are terrible at keeping secrets.”
“Will we have to be sneaking around all summer?” he asked.
“We have been sneaking around all summers. You’re still a married man. Svein just adds another element of challenge. Or we could just go back to Kiev if you wish.”
‘Emperors, on the other hand, are terrific at keeping secrets. Just tell me where to sneak and I’ll be sneaking,” he said, and he pulled her under his arm, and they cuddled before falling asleep. Helga woke up early and felt her sleeping fiancé and, finding him hard, she commenced to ride him in his sleep and he moaned, “Helga, Helga” then he woke to the pleasure he felt and he knew it was her. He came deep and long within her, as only an unexpected morning ride can evoke, and then he hugged her close to himself and whispered, “God I love you!”
As it turned out, Helga and Constantine didn’t have to do any more than the usual amount of sneaking around. Svein spent most of his summer training with the Varangian Guard and Helga’s handmaiden, Malfrieda, made sure he stayed out of trouble and kept up his language studies. Svein built up muscles over the summer’s training and both Helga and Constantine complimented him on his growing physique. And Constantine was continually plying both Helga and Svein with gifts and entertainment. Svein loved the chariot races in the Hippodrome and Malfrieda often took him to them while Helga and Constantine snuck off someplace private.
“Marry me!” Constantine begged. “Let’s make plans to marry the next summer you are here.”
“I still don’t trust your people,” Helga said, “and I don’t think they trust me yet. Let’s talk about marriage next time I am here.”
“So, the next time you are here we will make plans to marry the next time you are here,” Constantine said.
“Something like that,” Helga said, coyly.
At the end of summer, Constantine took Svein to an antiques dealer and let him pick out a totally rebuilt Roman chariot from 450 AD Rome. “I heard your grandfather collects them,” Constantine said. “He will love to see you driving it while you winter in Tmutorokan.”
“I love it!” Svein exclaimed. “And I think my mother loves you.”
“And what do you think of that?”
“I think if she marries you, the Hraes’ Trading Company will be the biggest trading company in the world!”
“The Hraes’ Trading Company already is the biggest trading company in the world,” Constantine replied. “If your mother marries me, I will be the happiest Emperor in the world.”
When the trading season ended, Constantine plied Helga and her son with even more gifts and he gave Svein a matched team of four Arabian quarter horses with which to pull his chariot.
“His grandfather, Prince Hraerik, will be so envious,” Helga said, and she kissed Constantine goodbye and her small fleet sailed hard to catch up with her main merchant fleet. She caught up with it at the Dnieper Rapids portages and she led it to Kiev, half expecting Prince Hraerik to catch her at any time, but they were late. When Hraerik finally arrived in Kiev, he told Helga that Maharashtra province in India had been attacked from the south. He told her he would be taking a legion to Mumba during the next trading season. They all overwintered together again in Tmutorokan and they hoped that they would be able to do so into the foreseeable future. But in the spring, Hraerik took a legion of foot and a legion of cataphracts south with him and snuck them through the Caliphate as merchants and slaves going to India for the first time. He told the Caliph that he was opening two new stations in India that would deal exclusively in agricultural slave labour. Once Sihtric had finished his trading in Baghdad and General Sun Wu had returned from Cathay, Hraerik put them both in charge of the defence of Mumba. He met Captain Biorn on the Black Sea coming back from Constantinople and told him about the war preparations. Hraerik was able to overwinter in Tmutorokan, but he left in the early spring to sneak more soldiers and equipment through the Caliphate into India. The rest of the merchant fleets followed a few weeks behind him. When he got to India, Mumba was already under siege. He arrived with his forces by sea and immediately attacked the naval blockade that had isolated the city of Mumba. The new Varangian dromons crushed the Indian dhows and relieved the blockade. He then landed his troops well outside the city and they attacked the army that was laying siege and Sihtric led another army out from within the city and they drove the siege army into the sea.
The terrible naval and land defeats caught the attention of the leaders and generals of the new empire and they sent emissaries to Mumba for talks. Hraerik bought off the attackers with gold and overwintered in Mumba to ensure that the purchased peace was kept. In the spring he returned to Kiev to lead his northern merchant fleet south.
Helga led her northern merchant fleet south once more and when she arrived in Constantinople, she went straight to her apartments with her son, Svein and her handmaiden, Malfrieda. Her personal bodyguard put themselves up in their usual apartments and two of them took Svein to the School of Themes to train with the Varangian Guard. When the Emperor came to visit her in the afternoon, Svein was still at training and Malfrieda was in Svein’s suite still setting up the rooms.
“I have missed you so much,” she told Constantine and he replied, “Not as much as I have missed you!” They each enjoyed the opportunity of undressing each other in the middle of the afternoon in the peace and quiet of the day, but they did not know that Malfrieda had let herself into Helga’s great room and she watched them having sex on the bed and it stirred something up within the young woman. Malfrieda watched until Helga began moaning in ecstasy and she let herself out under the cover of the noise that the Emperor began making as he came within her.
Svein walked into the great room of his suite after his training and he noticed Malfrieda looking at him funny. “What is it,” he asked her, and she said, “You look so much bigger after training. I didn’t realise how strong you’ve become.”
“I’m fourteen now,” Svein said with pride. “I’m almost old enough to join the guard,” he said, sitting down at the table to the supper Malfrieda had prepared for him. “Did you make this?” he asked. “Usually they just bring it from the palace kitchen.”
“I made it just for you,” she said, feeling the muscles in his shoulders. “You’re certainly strong enough to join the guard now. But good Hraes’ food will make you stronger than the Greek food they prepare. I am going to help you with your training this summer.”
“It’s good!” Svein said. “You’re a good cook, Malfrieda.”
“Thank you, Svein,” she said, coyly. “Do you mind if I change in your dressing room while you are eating? I have a new dress I want to try on.” She went into the bedroom and entered the dressing room, stripped off her dark black woolen dress and put on a pale blue silk dress that was very light and perhaps even tight. She came out of the bedroom and said, “What do you think?” and she spun around, and the dress hem spun up and Svein thought for a second, she wasn’t wearing anything under the dress.
“You’re getting bigger as well,” he stammered. “In your chest, I mean,” and he flushed awkwardly, and it stirred something up within the young man.
“I know,” she said, and she put her chest out proudly. “They just took off over winter.”
Svein could see where her nipples were through the dress. And he knew she wasn’t wearing anything under her skirt. He pulled his chair closer to the table as his member swelled up in his pants. He watched her as she walked across the room and her long blonde hair was almost to her waist behind her. She sat down on the Roman couch along the wall. It was long and hard and tapered at the ends and had a row of soft cushions along the wall. Malfried sat on one cushion while propping up another against her back, then she crossed her legs and began to read one of Svein’s language books. She had one shapely leg over the other and she flexed it in a rhythmic motion. “The Emperor is teaching your mother to speak Armenian, you know. Why are you learning Khazar?” she asked as Svein was chewing and watching.
“I am learning Khazar so I can tell them to go fock themselves as I crush them with my armies.”
Malfried was a little shocked, but excited by Svein’s use of the word fock. It was her native Swedish. The Danes said fuck and the Anglish said fuck, but the Swedes pronounced it fock for some unknown reason and it excited her when the half Dane, Svein, swore in her language. “Why do you want to crush the Khazars?” she asked her prince.
“They killed my father!” Svein said and a tear trickled down his cheek as his member began a retreat.
“I’m so sorry!” she said, getting up and walking towards him. She stood in front of him and put his head on her bosom. She was wearing the same fragrance Helga often wore for the Emperor. Svein rested his head on her breasts and the silk was like satin and he could feel her nipple against his cheek and his member started a slow advance. Malfried watched the bulge in his pants grow and when it seemed that he had recovered enough she stepped back and told him she had to take the dress off. “I just wanted to see how it fit,” and she spun around once more, and her hem took off even more and Svein definitely knew she was bare under her skirt and he knew she was definitely blonde. “I’ll be in your dressing room.”
Svein wanted to follow her into the bedroom but he mustered up his military self discipline. The guardsmen were talking about focking all the time. Some of them spent all their gold on Roman whores and all their silver on drink. They saved nothing. They just wanted to fight and die in battle and go to Valhall so they could fock and drink for free while waiting for Ragnarok, the great final battle. But in the meantime, working for the Emperor meant better whores and finer ales. The guardsmen treated young Svein as one of their own. Many of them had served in the Kievan legions, ready to die for his mother at her command. They loved her and they loved her son. And young Svein had not yet loved anyone.
Malfried came back out of the bedroom in her dark woolen dress with double broaches at her shoulders and the look was dramatically different as Svein’s member beat a hasty retreat again. She got the Khazar language book and sat beside Svein at the table and they began studying it together. Soon, there was a knock at the door and Helga walked in. “I just wanted to say good night,” she said. “Don’t study too long. You need your rest if you’re training.” And Helga popped out as quickly as she had popped in.
‘The Emperor,’ Malfried thought, ‘must be on his way.’
Svein finished his studies and went to bed. There was a subtle tap on his bedroom door. Malfried stuck her head in and said, “I forgot my dress in your dressing room,” and she tiptoed across the bedroom and entered the dressing room. She popped her head out and said, “I think I’ll just throw it on,” and she popped back into the room. When she came back out, she had a candle in one hand and some towels in the other. “I brought you some towels for your bed,” she said. She set the candle on a dresser and she threw back the sheets. Svein was laying on his back, naked, and his physique was that of a warrior and she saw his member start to swell again, but when she started putting the towels on the bed and sliding them under his buttocks it grew instantly. “I’m a virgin,” she explained, “and we don’t want to make a mess of the bed or your mother could find out. And we don’t want your mother to find out, right?” and Svein nodded. Malfrieda stood in front of him and started to take her dress off and stopped. “It seems like such a waste,” she said. “I just put it on.” So, she started doing a soft seductive dance for Svein and his member got so hard it started hurting. She kept dancing and began unbuttoning her dress between her breasts and as she started to slip the dress down her body her breasts slipped out one at a time and he saw the nipple that had pressed against his cheek and he fell in love with it. The pale blue silk dropped down to her feet and she stepped one foot out of it and used the other to kick her dress up onto a corner of the bed. Then she danced naked for Svein and finally asked, “May I join you in bed?”
“Oh…please come,” he said as his cock grew even harder.
She crawled onto the bed and her breasts swung below her and she worked her way over to him and swung her leg over his hip and straddled his body, then straightened hers up. She watched him as he got more excited and she kept watching him as she felt for his cock and stuffed it into herself. She lowered herself onto his member until she met with some resistance and she could feel that it was her membrane that was resisting. She lowered herself quickly and his member burst through her membrane and blood flowed out across his flat belly and onto the towels. She rose up and down and it hurt a bit, but Svein began to erupt and she got off him just in time to watch his semen shoot straight up three feet before landing on the bloody towel. She quickly grabbed his cock and began stroking it with her hand until the rest came out in pulsing spurts.
“Oh…gods!” Svein whispered in exhalation. She began wiping him off with a towel and even that excited him. He couldn’t move. Malfrieda finished cleaning up and put the towels in a bag in the dressing room, then rejoined Svein on the bed. As she laid beside him, she pulled him over into her breasts and he saw the left one, the one that had pressed against his cheek and he drew it into his mouth and began sucking on it.
Malfrieda had taken something out of the bag she had put the towels in. “This is a lambs gut glove for your cock,” she said. “I will put it on your cock for you and then it will be your turn to fock me.”
“I’m not hard yet,” Svein said, but she slid down his body and took his member into her mouth and sucked it like a teat and it grew suddenly hard again. She slid the glove onto his thick hard member and tied it off and slid back up his body and pulled him on top of herself. He bumped around a bit but he could feel through the membrane of the glove and he found her warm wet vagina and slid his penis deep inside her and began thrusting in and out for a much longer time this time before he suddenly erupted within her. They laid in each other’s arms for a long time and then Malfrieda began cleaning Svein up again. “Now it’s my turn,” she said, after she’d put the glove back on. She straddled him once more and put his gloved cock into herself and began to ride him hard and fast and, even though it hurt a bit, she rode him and moaned as she climaxed and she kept riding him and climaxed two more times before he exploded within her again. She cleaned him up one last time and then they slept in each other’s arms until early light. Then Malfrieda got out of the bed and slept on the Roman couch in the great room. She didn’t want Helga coming in early and finding her ‘not on the couch’.
All summer long Helga snuck around with Constantine and they had sex in her apartment late at night or they snuck off and had sex in the private sequestered parts of the palace while Malfrieda had sex with young Svein every night after training when he retired early. But sometimes young Svein went out on field maneuvers with the Varangian Guard and they could be gone for days and sometimes Constantine had to sleep with the Empress, but not often. And the whole while Constantine plied them all with rich gifts, Malfrieda included. Sometimes Helga’s bodyguard even received gifts from the Emperor and the Varangian Guard even received more gifts than usual when Svein trained with them. As summer grew to a close, Constantine received a commitment from Helga on their marriage and he started to set up wedding plans for the next trading season Helga would be down from Kiev. Constantine would divorce Empress Helena a month before Helga arrived and they would have a quiet wedding in the Hagia Sophia Church and a short honeymoon in Cherson, a place they would establish for future clandestine meetings.
The last week before the Hraes’ merchant fleet was to leave Constantinople, Malfrieda began to vomit in the mornings. “I won’t be able to stay an extra two weeks,” Helga told Constantine, as they relaxed in bed. “Svein has gotten Malfrieda pregnant.”
“Svein?” he asked. “When?”
“All summer, according to both of them.”
“Please stay,” he pleaded. “We’ll make her comfortable. There’s no reason to rush off.”
“I’m angry with them,” Helga said. “And I don’t want anybody finding out about it.”
“If we can all keep our relationships a secret,” he argued, “I’m sure we can keep one little pregnancy quiet.”
“Apparently we didn’t keep our relationship secret enough. Malfrieda saw us focking the first day in, and she says it stirred her passions. She took complete responsibility for offering her virginity to Svein. She says she loves him.”
“They can get married here,” Constantine offered, “before you leave, three weeks from now!”
“Svein is not marrying my hand maiden!” Helga said. “He shall marry a queen or an Empress. Besides, they’re both Aesir and Svein has already told me he will not convert. He wants to be a warrior in the Varangian Guard. He says he wants to serve you until he is old enough to rule in Kiev.”
“Well, let him serve me now!” Constantine said. “If you want to keep the pregnancy a secret, have Malfrieda stay in Constantinople with Svein. They both deserve the right to experience the birth of their child without pressure or shame.”
Helga gave it some thought and said, “Now I know why you are Emperor,” and she kissed him for a long time, even slipping him the tongue and getting one back in turn. She felt for his crotch under the sheets and said, “I knew you were getting hard,” and they had sex under the sheets and when they had done their little romp under the covers they talked more about the pregnancy.
“I’d like Malfrieda to stay in Constantinople, but I’m taking Svein back to Kiev with me. He’s too young to join the guard.”
“He doesn’t have to join the guard to serve me,” Constantine said. “He can just train with them. When you sail to Tmutorokan, I’ll take him to Cherson and we can spend a week there together and you can take him to Gardariki for the winter and I’ll meet you back in Cherson in the spring and I can take Svein back to Constantinople for the birth.”
“Or, if Malfrieda has just gotten pregnant, I send Svein back to Constantinople with the merchant fleet.”
“Let’s not even chance it,” Constantine said. “Meet me in Cherson on your way back. We can get more practice for our honeymoon there.”
“You just want to fock me in Cherson again!” Helga laughed. “See…I was so distraught that Svein had knocked up Malfrieda, and one good fock and one good talk with you and I’m now looking forward to it. That is why you are the Emperor!”
“And one good fock and one good talk with you makes all the years I was kept from my throne well worth the wait just to have found you!” And Constantine gave Helga a long kiss this time.
Princess Helga once again left Constantinople two weeks after the merchant fleet and Constantine plied her and Svein and Malfrieda with rich gifts even though the latter two were staying in the capital city. He wanted all of them to love him and he retained Prince Svein to liaison between him and his Varangian Guard and Malfrieda was given run of both suites in Helga’s apartments and the one hundred legionnaires in the palace remained to protect Svein and her. And the young couple loved their fall together in Constantinople. They were both young and strong and could have unprotected sex anywhere in their end of the palace complex, and they did. When the Varangian guard learned that they would be training with their prince for two more months because he had knocked up a Swedish princess, they were proud of him and they showed it when they were training with him. Each of them taught Svein their secrets, their moves that had kept them alive through many battles both for the Hraes’ and for the Romans. And they could see that Malfrieda loved their prince as well. She came down and watched the training when she could, when she wasn’t too ill. And the commander of the guard told her that Princess Helga had instructed him to protect her at any cost.
Once again, Princess Helga caught up to Prince Hraerik and his Baghdad fleet at the Dnieper Rapids portages and they went to Kiev together. Helga told Hraerik that Svein had knocked up Malfrieda, but she didn’t tell him that Malfrieda was ‘stirred’ while watching Helga and the Emperor having sex. “How are they handling it?” Hraerik asked as he mentally worked out Svein’s age and reassured himself that it was a normal marriage age for India.
“They’re both handling it a little too well for my liking,” Helga said.
“In some countries we do business, they’re both of marrying age.”
“Svein is not marrying my handmaiden!” Helga said firmly. “Svein is staying in Constantinople until we winter in Tmutorokan and Malfrieda will be having her baby in Constantinople. To the rest of the world, Svein will have knocked up a Roman princess and we shall be raising the baby in Kiev.”
“And who exactly is this Roman princess?”
“Princess Sviataslava,” Helga said. “Malfrieda is half Swede and half Slav, so the name fits.”
“Isn’t that what the Slavs call Svein? Sviatoslav?”
‘Exactly,” Helga spat. “Maybe they’ll stop calling him that now.”
Helga and Hraerik closed out the business cycle in Kiev and headed to Tmutorokan to overwinter. Hraerik offered to sail by Constantinople to pick up Svein, but Helga told him she was meeting Svein in Cherson at the end of the month to give the couple more time together. “Do you think more time together is good?” Hraerik asked, but Helga ignored him.
At the end of the month, Helga met the Emperor in Cherson as part of a state visit and they spent a week in the Byzantine Palace together and Svein was in command of the Varangian Guard cohort that was protecting the Emperor. When the week was up, Svein was the Varangian Guard officer designated to escort Princess Helga back to Tmutorokan. Queen Silkisif complimented Svein in his Roman legion officer’s uniform and told him he looked just like Ivar might have looked if he had worn the Roman red. Hraerik told him he should be wearing a commander’s uniform of the Kievan legions. “He has Ivar’s eyes,” Silki whispered to Helga and Hraerik. They were all thankful that they were back together again enjoying the mild weather of Tmutorokan together.
In the spring, Hraerik sailed with Helga and Svein to Cherson and dropped them off at the harbour there with three warships. He saw the Emperor’s flagship trireme sitting there surrounded by Roman dromonds but said nothing and sailed on to Kiev himself. Helga arrived in Kiev a week later without Svein. “He is in Constantinople for the birth,” Helga told him. “He’ll spend the summer with Malfrieda and the baby, training with the guard and he’ll join us in Tmutorokan for the winter.”
“He’ll be spending the summer in Constantinople with the Roman Princess Sviataslava, you mean?” Hraerik asked.
“Exactly,” she replied, squeezing his hand in appreciation.
Hraerik led the Hraes’ merchant fleet back south, Captain Biorn led the Hraes’ Christian and pagan fleets to Constantinople and General Wu led the Cathayan fleet east. Hraerik left Sihtric in charge of Baghdad and went on to India. Trading again went well in all sectors and Hraerik felt that the empire that had conquered all of Maharashtra province, save Mumba, seemed content to leave the Jat city alone as long as they paid their tax in gold. But he warned Maharaja Rajan that Gujarat was next and would soon be attacked and that Mumba’s sister Jat city of Ashaval would have to be saved using the same tactic of strength, diplomacy and gold. It was costly, but necessary. Prince Hraerik was at his happiest when he was spending time with his wives and children in Mumba, but he was still keeping young princesses happy in Gujarat knowing that this flow of Jat girls wanting to be Aesir mothers would soon cease. Prince Hraerik was soon back overwintering in Tmutorokan and he decided he was happiest in Gardariki. And when he was in Mumba, he was happiest there. He realized that he now had two heavens on earth.
Helga led the northern merchant fleet south to Constantinople once more, this time to marry the Emperor. She had received news that Constantine had divorced Empress Helena an month ago and when she arrived in the city, she went straight to Constantine, who was waiting for her with her son, Svein and her handmaiden, Malfrieda, and their second baby, Helgi, named after Svein’s great uncle. “Where is Eyfur?” Malfrieda said, starting to panic.
“Relax,” Helga said. “The nursemaid is feeding him in the antechamber.” She stepped forward and took baby Helgi from her and Malfrieda ran out into the outer chamber of the throne room. “How is little baby Helgi?” she said, coo cooing him.
Constantine watched the love of his life and it was with a pang of regret that he realised they were both too old to have a baby of their own. But at least they had found each other. “How was your journey?” he asked Helga.
“It was fine,” Helga answered. “I half expected Malfrieda to be knocked up again. I told you to keep them apart. They’re like animals. The whole last summer I was here, I thought there were beavers in the walls and here it was them focking!”
“Look at him,” Svein said. “How could I not knock her up again?”
Helga coo cooed the baby again.
“Those two are not easy to keep apart,” Constantine complained. “I had to start a war in Italy so I could send Svein and the Varangian Guard off to lead the campaign, or I’m sure she’d be back in ‘the way’ by now.” And he smiled and came down from his throne and put his arm around Helga. “I’ve missed you so much!” he whispered.
“I’m going to fock you good,” she whispered back, “for sending my son off to war!”
“There’s only thing that is harder than stopping him from focking,” Constantine said, and Helga chimed in with him and they both said, “And that’s stopping him from fighting!” Constantine laughed and patted Svein on the back. “Svein promised me he wouldn’t put himself in danger. He observed only, right?”
“The Guard would only let me watch,” Svein lied, and they all left the throne room and joined Malfrieda in the antechamber, then they all headed off for Helga’s apartments together.
Svein had to go back to the School of Themes to train and Malfrieda thanked the nursemaid for taking care of the babies while she went with him to watch. Constantine had to drag Helga out of Svein’s apartment full of babies and he took her into her own apartment. “I have missed you so much,” he said.
“Not as much as I have missed you!” she replied and they undressed each other and had sex on the bed until Helga was moaning in ecstasy and Constantine cried out in relief as he came within her. They laid together on the bed for a long time and enjoyed each other’s just being there.
“How are we going to keep those two apart?” Helga asked.
“My physician has trained them in the proper use of prophylactics,” Constantine explained. “He told them that a lambs gut glove can only be reused for a week, then it becomes unreliable. Apparently Malfrieda thought they were good until they showed signs of wear. That explained the first pregnancy.”
“And what explained the second pregnancy?’ she asked, and she realized that she liked saying the word. It was a beautiful word and she had enjoyed saying it when she told Ivar she was pregnant with Alfhild, and she really enjoyed telling Ivar that she was pregnant with Svein.
“Malfrieda had heard that one couldn’t get pregnant for two weeks after having a baby, which is an old wives’ tale. They started humping two days after the birth of little Eyfur and I imagine she was pregnant before the third day.”
“How can it be so easy for them? Ivar and I had to fock so hard for both our babies. My honey well still aches when I think of the pounding it took. We have an Aesir custom that says you’ll have a boy if you wait two weeks after the period and you fock for three days straight. And Ivar could fock for three days straight!”
“The old Roman religion had the same saying,” Constantine said, curiously. “There’s an ancient book by Virgil that claims our old religion was Vanir and the founders of Rome were Persian and fled Troy as it was sacked by the Greeks. We still follow that saying today.”
“Damn Greeks!” Helga said in Latin. She had been talking with Constantine in Greek up to that point but thought it more polite to curse the Greeks in Latin instead of in their own tongue.
“Damn Greeks!” Constantine shouted in Latin. “I like that,” he said. “I’ve only ever cursed them in Greek, but it feels better to curse them in Latin for some reason.”
“That is why I shall soon be Empress,” Helga said. “I understand the Greeks.”
“Okay, queen know it all,” he said, “if you followed the Aesir saying, why was your first child still a girl?”
“That’s easy,” she replied. “When you’re young it is easy to fock hard for three days but hard to stop focking after the three days. When you’re older it is hard to fock hard for three days and easy to stop focking after the three days. I remember praying to gods for that third day to end so that my bruised and battered bottom could heal.”
“You shall be the wisest Empress ever!” Constantine exclaimed. “How is your honey well right now? Can my honey dipper give it a good stir?”
“You Romans!” Helga said. “You’re our biggest importer of Hraes’ honey. How could I ever say no to you?”
They had planned for a quiet wedding for next month, June, the Roman month Junius, for Lucius Junius Brutus, the founder of the Roman Republic, just as July is named after Julius Caesar, destroyer of the Roman Republic and August is named after Augustus, the first Caesar or king of kings of Imperial Rome of whom Constantine Porphyrogennetos was a direct descendant. Porphyrogennetos means ‘born of the purple’, meaning born of the purple blood that flows through the veins of all royals who were direct descendants of the first Caesar, Augustus Caesar. Some people believed that it meant born in the purple room of the palace in Constantinople while one’s father reigned as Emperor, after all, who could remember and prove that they were a direct descendant of Augustus Caesar who had ruled almost a millennia earlier. But royals remember and they go to great pains to retain the documents and the family tree to prove who they are. And Constantine and his family had that paperwork all stamped and certified and sealed, going right back through the ages.
It was hard for Helga to fathom how one could prove who their great great grandfather had been a thousand years ago, but she was just a royal princess of Sweden with no known blood ties to the famous Yngling line of kings of Sweden that could trace their family trees back at least half that far. But she knew her former husband, Ivar had been a direct descendant of the Fridleif/Frodi line of kings that could trace their Danish heritage back to the original Danish Skioldung line that went back as far as Augustus. And King Frodi had memorized that line of kings and Queen Eyfura had memorized it after him and Ivar had memorized it after her. He was dead now, had died too early to teach it to Svein, but Prince Hraerik had memorized it because he had married Princess Gunwar, the sister of King Frodi and, while it didn’t make him a Skioldung blooded prince, it did make his son by Gunwar, Helgi Arrow Odd Hraerikson, a blooded prince of that line and later, when Oddi married Queen Silkisif, daughter of King Olmar of the Poljane Slavs, a blooded king of that line, Helgi’s sons by Silkisif were blooded princes of both lines. After Ivar had died, Hraerik had taught Helga the long list of names for the Skioldung line while she overwintered with him in Gardariki, the city he had founded with Princess Gunwar. He also wrote it down for her in a stamped and sealed document in the Roman fashion. But Helga had enjoyed memorizing it with Hraerik. He had focked it into her. One mistake and they’d have to take it from the top again. Sometimes she made mistakes on purpose.
There was also a legend that the month was named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter, meaning Zeus Father. Helga put her faith in the goddess of marriage and chose to believe that June was for Juno and she looked forward to her upcoming nuptials. But there were many in Constantinople who did not want a Swedish Hraes’ princess for their Empress. Both Constantine and Helga had known there would be resistance. That was one reason Constantine was glad he had given Helga the baptismal name of Helene. It would be an easy transition from the name Empress Helena to Empress Helene, so he hoped the physical transition would be as smooth. But he was surprised to learn that the staunchest opponent to his marrying Helga was his own son Romanos the Second, whom he had made co-Emperor with himself. Former Empress Helena had filled his head with empty claims that Helga wanted to put her own son Svein on the throne of the Roman Empire and while Helena laid low, Romanos began whipping up anti Hraes’ sentiment within the people of Constantinople.
There were even Hraes’ traders who were against Helga becoming Empress, especially the Hraes’ traders that worked the markets and bazaars of Baghdad. The Caliphate was still at war with the Romans and a Hraes’ princess at the helm in Constantinople could severely affect their business with the Arabs. So it was easy for Romanos to dig up dirt on Helga. Romanos gave speeches in which he said that Helga had only ever actually been a queen of the Hraes for one year. He’d learned that Prince Ivar had actually gone back to Denmark to reclaim his title of king and once he had accomplished that he’d married young Princess Blaeja and had made her his queen without bothering to tell Helga about it. So for the twenty years that Helga claimed to be queen, she was only queen the first year Ivar had reclaimed his throne and had not yet married Princess Blaeja of York. Even worse, Romanos claimed that when Ivar had passed his kingly title on to his son, Gorm the Old of Denmark, Helga continued to use the title of queen even though her husband was no longer a king, but a king father. What made these claims hurt was the fact that they were all true. Princess Helga had told Constantine she was no longer a queen, but she didn’t mention that perhaps she had only been a queen for one year. It didn’t matter anyway because as long as Helga was of royal blood, she could be Empress. But even that was called into question. And with so many holes in her queenly history it was easy to imagine such holes in her position as princess.
Soon there were rallies being held against the marriage and there were even death threats against Helga. There were other traders in Constantinople who were angry about the special treatment that the Hraes’ Trading Company had been getting while Helga had been committing adultery with the Emperor and they began to attack Hraes’ merchants in the markets and the Hraes’ traders were warriors first and traders second so, soon the streets were flowing with the blood of Khazar and Spanish and Italian traders, but the Genoese and Venetians let some blood flow themselves and Helga’s cohort of Kievan legionnaires got involved as well.
Helga convinced Constantine to cancel the Hagia Sophia and they settled for a quiet wedding in the palace but when the protests ran into the heat of July, mobs began roaming the city and the couple had to cancel their planned honeymoon in Cherson. When the heat of August set in, the mobs began chanting ‘Hang Helga’ and some even chanted ‘Crucify Her’ even though she was now a Christian and such an act could get them excommunicated from the church. On August sixth, Romanos held a rally against his own father and soon the crowd was chanting ‘Hang Constantine’ and ‘Hang Helga’ and Romanos whipped up the crowd and sent them off against the Capitol Building just inside the palace complex. Romanos even promised the angry mob that he would go down there with them, but he went, instead, to the Hippodrome to watch the mob from a safe position. Twenty thousand angry Romans descended on the Capitol Building and overwhelmed the guards that were stationed there. The Emperor’s administrative staff had to flee the building for the safer depths of the palace complex while the mob smashed out windows and doors and tore offices apart and entered speaking chambers and tore Roman Imperial emblems off the walls and burned them, all the time shouting ‘Hang Constantine’ and ‘Hang Helga’.
Constantine left the throne room and rushed with his bodyguards to Helga’s apartments. They were met there by Helga’s legionnaires and then by the Varangian Guards. They formed a plan to get Helga and her family out of Constantinople before the mob entered the palace complex and came face to face with the Guard. The commander of the Guard assured Helga that the Guard could decimate the mob, but the civilian lives lost would be reprehensible so an aggressive exit would be the best strategy. They would not be sneaking her out but, rather, would be visibly marching her out to the Golden Horn harbour and to the Hraes’ fleet that awaited her there. But it was important that the mob see her leave so they would not try to search the palace for her and then the Guard would be forced to kill a lot of the rioters. Svein wanted to help the Guard fight but the commander said it would be better if he was armed and protecting his mother if any of the mob should sneak through.
Constantine and Helga led the family group of Svein, Malfrieda, two babies and a nursemaid, sheltered by Helga’s hundred man guard and a thousand warriors of the Varangian Guard. The rest of the Guard would hold the palace on pain of death. So the group headed out of the palace complex and along some side streets that contained few rioters, but the rioters called out to the mob and soon there was a marching battle of Varangian Guardsmen who were trading sword blows with the armed mob and the Varangians began cutting the rioters down like wheat before a Hraes’ scythe. They were protecting the Emperor but, more importantly they were protecting their Queen Helga. The mob followed them down the Mese to the front gates at the harbour and those that ventured too close to the Varangians felt the razor edge of steel.
Hraes’ traders were fighting their way through the mob to join the fleeing family and as they poured through the main gates the Varangians formed a shield wall and kept the mob back. Ships were waiting for them by the main quay and Empress Helene kissed her new husband, Emperor Constantine, a quick goodbye, then stepped regally onto her shieldship. Half her legionnaires followed her family onto the ship and others protected the Hraes’ traders that had fled the city with them. They sailed north to Messembria where they would buy supplies for their return to Kiev.
“Focking Romans!” Svein told his mother at the forestem of her ship. “They’re going to pay for this!”
Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos died in Constantinople in November, 959 AD and was succeeded by his son Romanos II. It was rumored that Constantine had been poisoned by his son and his daughter-in-law Theophano.