Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Vikings are back in Week 7/Chapter 7 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 7/chapter 7 of  Maria MacAuley's Silver & Spice. Now we present to you another portion of a very exciting, romantic and all-around great story.  We will be posting a chapter for you to enjoy each week until the story's end. We are looking forward to comments, feelings, thoughts, etc. of what you think for each portion posted. So please be sure to leave a comment in the comments section :)

Now I present to you... Silver and Spice!

View Prologue and chapter 1 HERE, chapter 2 HERE,  chapter 3 HERE,  chapter 4 HEREchapter 5 HERE, chapter 6 HERE

Chapter 7

Roisin did not try to hide her tears.  Now in private, she did not have to be the Conall’s daughter, strong and unafraid.  The week’s voyage had ended in a curiously chaste way.  So far these Vikings had been neither the bloodthirsty savages nor ravishers of maidens that were the scourge of the coasts and waterways.  Her kind stoic foster sister had easily succumbed to Erik, and he to Ciara.  Kristr did not look at her with lust or longing, but her own feelings confused her.  She had initially despised being near him, but worried  when he left her alone in Alfhilde‘s hall.  Now here in Halsrafjord, she was described as his guest, albeit one with no way of under-staying, rather than over –staying her welcome.  She rubbed her temples, trying to erase the memories of the past week, and finally, slowly drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Kristr stooped under the low lintel of the sweat lodge to find Erik already there.  There was a single fish-oil lamp flickering in the corner, most of the light cast from the embers of the fire.  He threw some water on the stones, that circled the flames, the crackle and hiss bringing Erik out of his warmth induced haze.

‘How is your guest faring in your hall?’  Erik didn’t open his eyes.

‘She hates me.  And why would she not?  I took her from her home.’  On his haunches, he poked the fire and flicked more water upon the hearth, the bubbles dancing and spitting on the stones.  How strange that the two women reacted so differently to their circumstances. 

Ciara had been the maiden who had fainted in terror and had woken up only to be carried onto a ship in a stranger’s arms. Roisin had been awake and recalled every detail of her abduction. He remembered every detail too.  His initial reaction was anger, fuelled by revenge against MacRonan, gradually followed by tolerance, admiration and affection.  The last two he could have done without. It was not part of the plan. Her beauty was striking, and her features and size were unlike Viking women, but, then again, he did not look like a Norseman himself.  Her sharp tongue and willingness to battle wits was enticing, as well as her gentle-woman manners when under Gertrude’s care in the bath house.  No wonder MacRonan had wanted her as a wife.  No way would he surrender Roisin to the greedy fool now. 

‘She does not hate you brother.’  Erik murmured, stretching his long lean body out over the oak bench, smooth from years of use.  ‘She is just adjusting to her circumstances.  Her sister will help her to adapt.’ 

‘If the gods had ever mislaid a child with the wrong race of people, it is your Ciara.’

‘My Ciara.’  Erik sighed contentedly.  ‘My own Norse goddess.’  

Kristr stood up and eased himself onto the opposite bench.  His own Norse goddess was not showering him with blessings - yet.

When Kristr returned,  Roisin was curled up on the furs, her beautiful face stained with tears, her waist length hair unbound, curling over her slender back. He paused at the curtain, taking in every detail; the thinly woven linen of her apron dress falling over the dainty mounds of her breasts as her chest rose and fell with each breath, the fine wool of the dress flowing over her sweetly curved behind. For the first time since he had lost his mother, new emotions were arising in him. He wanted to feel close to this woman, to make love to her, to feel her hands on his skin. He planted a kiss on her forehead, and she woke with a start.

'Easy, easy, I did not mean to frighten you,' he said softly as he looked into her huge green eyes, eyelashes clumped together with tears. Cupping her head with his hands and running his thumbs gently across her face, he brushed the remaining drops away.

'These past few days have brought many changes for you, but know that whilst you are here, I will teach you the language so that you may engage with the people of the steading. You can learn about our way of life. I will do everything in my power to protect you.'

She lowered her gaze and whispered, 'But who will protect me from you?'

He gently raised her head, to look her in the eye again. 'You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I cannot deny I want you, but not until you want me too.' He circled her cheeks. 'And in light of our first meeting, I shall teach you how to use a dagger to offer you some protection from harm. Tis not appropriate that all your care is left in the hands of another.' Unless she was a Valkryie, she would have been subdued by Kristr regardless on that fateful day. By giving her some ownership of her own protection it would increase her confidence and trust in him.

Offering her his hand she stood up, and with interest he watched as she adjusted her new silver brooches, straightened her dress, and took a deep breath, composing herself after her emotional release.

 Pulling her close in an indulgent embrace, Kristr inhaled the sweet scent of her hair. She did not resist.  Holding her for a moment he finally said, 'The meal in our honour is about to begin.'  He motioned to the bed.  ‘Sit and I shall fix your braid. She didn't argue as he skillfully combed her hair and tidied it into a long braid down to the middle of her back. He turned her around, and smoothing his hands over the crown of her head, he admired his handiwork with a grin, a tug on the plait and a nod of approval.

He proferred his arm, and linking hers with his, they left for the main hall.

Kristr was expecting a feast and a crowd, but there must have been one hundred people in the hall, sitting at trestle tables on benches that lined the wattle and daub walls. The hearth in the middle of the floor burned brightly, casting dancing shadows over the assembly.  Six huge beams held up the rafters and a colourful shield was displayed on each pole.

As they walked toward the low dais at the top of the hall, silence fell on the chattering crowd. Kerik stood up, and raising his horn in toast, shouted, 'Fortune favours us, my sons have returned home!' The mass of people roared in approval. Glossing over the truth a little, to save the both the blushes of his sons' hostages, and the memory of his own initial encounter with his beloved Aisling, he added, 'and they have brought sweet Irish maidens to add more beauty to our land!'

All eyes turned to Roisin, and holding on to him tightly, she looked up to Kristr in confusion. 'All is well, my father has just welcomed us home. We Vikings can be a noisy lot when we have enjoyed too much mead.' The fact that she had turned to him in her fear, had not gone unnoticed.

At their table, he sat down next to her whilst a trencher of boar, pheasant, cooked nettles and turnip was set before them. She took the liberty of using a dirk, and cut two tranches of barley bread from the loaf in front of them, handing him a piece. His grey eyes twinkled silver in the firelight. She was beginning to trust him because she wanted to, not because she had to do so.


True to his word, the harbour master had contacted Johann O’Toole to tell him that the men from Donegal had docked.  The previous week, when he had pushed Kristr’s longship from the shallows, he knew he would have to find out more about MacRonan.  That mission was accomplished.  There was no need for disguises here. MacRonan's  sinister statements  had told him that there was more at stake now than a couple of scraps of silver. When Johann had seen the crushed gold necklace he knew who owned it, and who had given it as a gift.

During their years as foster brothers on the Shetland Jarlshof, Kristr and Johann had been close friends, brothers in all but blood.  Alfhilde had singled Kristr out, citing his potential, and every boy on Jarlshof knew what punishment waited those who could not meet Alfhilde's exacting standards. Kristr had spoken often to Johann of the pain of losing his mother so violently and of Alfhilde's beatings for the tiniest mistake in his Greek or Latin translations. During their many conversations as youths and later as men, Kristr had confided what had happened during those years, how he felt he had deserved to be punished for not saving his mother, and he started to see Alfhilde, not as a mother, but as a mentor and later as a lover.  He did not seem to be able to escape her attentions, even with the urging of his brother, Erik.    When he saw the ruined jewelry, Johann knew that Alfhilde was behind it, but her jealousy of Kristr's new love would never bring him back into her bony arms.

Dressed in the breeches, short kirtle and cloak of an Irishman, he walked into the ale house. There was no doubt which man was Conall of Dun-na-Shee. . He looked like a fine handsome man who had aged overnight, as if by the curse of a banshee. The man with him did not look much better, but with anger etched on their faces rather than sorrow.

Strolling over to greet them in the traditional Irish manner he said, 'God be with you, travellers from the North of this fair Island. My name is Johann O’Toole and I wish to speak with you on a matter of some importance.'

Conall looked up, eyes narrowing 'What do you know of my business?' Johann, as usual, was not perturbed by the man's menacing tone.

'If you would be so noble as to let me speak, I shall then address any issue you may have.'
Looking to Diarmuid, and back to Johann, through gritted teeth, Conall snarled 'Agreed. Speak.'

'I was with Kristr and Erik Halsrason when they took your blood daughter and your foster child.' Drawing his sword Conall jumped to his feet intending to run the man through. Calm as ever, Johann didn't move. 'Please, sit down. You agreed to hear my tale. If you have not had satisfaction, then you can try to best me with your sword. But all that will do is leave your daughter fatherless.' Conall reluctantly sat down. His skill would be hampered by his rage.

'Kristr and Erik have taken the women to Scandinavia, not Dubh Linn as you probably have expected. They will be safe there, especially as I feel that young Erik has taken quite a shine to Ciara.' Johan bounced his eyebrows but was met with cold stares from the two men.

'Those barbarians have taken my daughters for another man's crimes!' Conall spat in outrage. 'MacRonan will not pay silver for them, and my land does not have that kind of wealth, since the pillage of the monasteries at Bangor and Devenish. Even by going to all the chieftains in Ulster I shall not be able to gather that amount of coin in four seasons!'

'And that is the least of your problems. I have reason to believe that on their travels back to their own land, Kristr's boat stopped off with an acquaintance of his.' Johann had to tread carefully. 'This acquaintance, who has a tendency to jealousy, felt that Kristr was falling in love with Roisin, and has communicated same to MacRonan, who would covet anything that belongs to Kristr.'
Conall’s face fell. 'So even if I can come for my daughter and pay the silver, she may still fall into MacRonan's hands, for this ... acquaintance?'

Johann nodded. 'I do not yet know why MacRonan wants to ruin Kristr, but I shall eventually find out.'

Conall’s head fell into his hands.   Johann O’Toole saw a man who felt he had failed those who had depended on him. 'So what can I do to help you secure the future of both my daughters?

'I will be making the voyage North within the next sennight. I can bring news to your daughters that you and their brother are well. It may allay any fears that they have.'

'I shall come too, as will Diarmuid.' Conall’s man grunted his approval. 'If my girls are safe and cared for, I shall return to my rath and plot MacRonan's demise. If they are being mistreated in any way by the Halsrason Vikings, I shall kill them myself.'

'I cannot allow that. You will not be welcomed there.' Johann was resolute. 'Your arrival will be taken as an act of war, unless you can procure the silver as payment. Kristr will not surrender what he believes to be his.'

As the meal neared its end, Roisin felt a little more relaxed. She wasn't sure if it was the two cups of mead she had, the warmth of the fire after seven days at sea, or the light touch of Kristr's hand on the small of her back. She looked across at Ciara, who was beaming and blushing in delight at whatever sweet words Erik was whispering in her ear. Roisin watched as she playfully smacked his hand away from her breast before leaning in to a lingering kiss. She wondered what would happen to her agreement with Joseph; they would never had shared something so intimate.

The skald stood up to recite the tales of Thor and Odin. With the lilting sounds of his words and the gasps, sighs and laughter of his audience, she cuddled into Kristir's arms as he whispered the translation in her ear, his lips brushing against her skin, his fingers entwining with hers, and closing her eyes dreamily, she felt happier than she had in twelve moons.

As the night came to a close, Kristr picked up a very drowsy Roisin. 'Kristr, I can walk, you don't need to carry me like a babe.'

'Ah, but I want to, my sweetling. Now hush and let me keep my promise to care for you.' He carried her back to her chamber and carefully removed her brooches and apron-dress. Gently tugging the woollen dress over her head, it was taking all his self restraint not to start kissing the pristine white mounds of her breasts, her delicate, dusky nipples erect under her shift. He pulled the furs up over her smooth body, and as he dropped a long kiss on her forehead, her lips parted into a sigh and the sound was as sweet as birdsong to his ears.

'Kristr. My sweet. Thank you.'

'Goodnight, darling Roisin.' He left the chamber, barely able to walk. It was going to be a long night.


Roisin woke up the following morning, feeling rested and content. Stretching out to her full length, she wiggled her fingers and toes in a satisfied yawn. She peeked under the furs and blushed when she saw that she was in nothing but her shift, and remembered that Kristr had undressed her the previous evening. Her first Norse feast. She recalled how she had been so close to him as they listened to the magical stories of the skald, how he carried her to her chamber and how he saw her almost nude.

She jumped out of bed, still only in her knee-length shift, and bending over to pick up her dress off the chest, she spun around and ran into Kristr, who was on his way into the chamber. He was naked to the waist and she shrieked when she smacked into his chest face first. She heard him chuckle as the colour rose in her cheeks. She took a step back and stared up at him, her eyes widening as she took in his body.

She had seen boy babies, and small children, but never a man. His shoulders were broad, his arms sculpted with muscle. She felt vulnerable standing looking at him, but had an overwhelming urge to touch his skin, the trail of hair running from his navel to his... she cast her eyes to the ground in shame of her wantonness, of where her eyes and mind had wandered, biting her lip as she tried to regain her composure.

'Easy, sweetling,' he breathed as he raised her chin with his finger. 'Tis fine.'

She stared at the runes inked into his skin on his breast, and she could not resist placing  her hand over the image she let her palm pick up, initially the slight blue-black ridge of the tattoo, secondly the beating of his heart.

'What does the symbol mean?'

‘Dream. My mother's name in Norse.'

'It is beautiful. She is always with you.'

'In death, but not in life.'

'Do you know who took her from you?'

'No. She had pushed me behind her, and I can only recall that he was short, a fat barrel of a man, and a greasy head of hair.' He placed his hand over hers, and pulling her close with the other, he bent his forehead to hers so that they touched. 'Dear sweet Roisin, I will wait for you for ever.'

For ever was a long time.  She was not sure how long she would remain a maiden around this man.

Thanks for the painting are given to E Paterson
Viking home photo:
Other 2 photos:


Maria MacAuley is from Derry, Ireland and has a degree in Celtic Languages. She is married to the love of her life, and they live in relative peace with two cats.

She has a secret wish that her husband will investigate his Nordic family tree further and whisk her off on a longboat to Hammerfest to view the Northern Lights.

If Maria were to choose her favourite tense, it should be the subjunctive, and is always keen to discuss same over a pint of Guinness.

Bounce on over to chapter 8 HERE

~*"No portion of this story may be copied or shared without the direct permission of the author."*~


  1. Another great week and another great chapter. Thank you again Maria :)


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