Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Vikings are back in Week 8/Chapter 8 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 8/chapter 8 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 HEREchapter 7 HERE

Chapter 8

Ireland, fourteen years earlier

Well concealed in the souterrain, Peter MacRonan, crouched and watched with interest at the scene unfolding by the church. He scraped his lank hair back from his face, but rather than tying it in place, the stringy strands fell forward again.  It had been more than twenty summers since the Vikings had established the settlement of Dubh Linn, and during that time, most of the Norsemen had moved from raiders to traders.

Only occasionally now did the Norsemen raid the countryside outside Dubh Linn, and as was the case today, cattle and a bumper grain harvest was their motive. He should know. He had provided them with access to the handful of small peaceful settlements.  As a minor chieftain of the Laigin tribe, he wanted more land and power. Having orchestrated the raid, by the time the Norsemen were finished, he would claim these ravaged lands as his own. And he would kill any survivors who refused to capitulate.

His wife, Aisling had never given him another son, or even a daughter to sell in marriage.   To punish her for her barrenness he had taken Sean, their young boy, her pride and joy, on a sea voyage.  His intention was to leave the child with a cousin in Anglesey for a year; that should be enough time to make her heavy with babe again.  He callously lied to her, telling her that the scraggy four-year-old had fallen overboard and drowned on the journey home.  Through her grief at losing her son, she fought his advances on a nightly basis.  Just as he was determined to sire another son, she was equally resolute that he would not.  He overpowered her every time, and she never acquiesced to his advances.

Now there was the same Aisling, cowering behind the wall of the church, trying to hide herself in the long afternoon shadow.  He fancied he saw fear in her luminous grey eyes as the giant sinister Viking strode towards her.  His face was fully covered by his heavily engraved helmet, brown hair to his shoulders curling out below the dull metal.

A Viking taking her in bloodlust should end her unwillingness to bed him; when the barbarian was finished with her, Aisling would not struggle against her husband again.

His lips curled into a sneer as he watched the giant warrior grab her arm and  he almost gave away his hiding place, his dark laughter echoing around the souterrain when he heard Aisling’s cry of pain. Suddenly it all changed. The Viking pulled off his helmet, his wild curly brown hair released. Dropping his headgear, he scooped the trembling Aisling up of the ground, and not resisting, she curled into his broad chest in surrender.  Shouting to his men in own language, he mounted his steed, and galloped off with Aisling still clinging to his tunic.

He shook with rage, his stringy hair falling over his cadaverous face.  Aisling MacRonan was his wife, his property.   He looked to his palms where his dirty nails had broken the skin. They would pay.


'Hello to the hall!' Erik's loud voice echoed down the building.

Realising she was still only in her shift, and standing in the same chamber with Kristr in a stated of half-nakedness, the last thing she needed was the assumptions of his brother, she jumped out of Kristr's arms.  For third time since she arose that morning, she blushed in embarrassment.  The first time was when she realised Kristr had undressed her for bed the previous eve, the second was when she jumped out of bed and collided with him, and now finally, red-faced and mortified, there was Erik, by the curtain of the chamber, leaning on the door frame, arms crossed and smirking.

Squealing in shame, Roisin pushed Kristr back into the main hall, and yanked the curtain closed as she fumbled around the room, trying to dress herself in the still unfamiliar garments.  In her hurry to present a semblance of decency to the world, it took twice as long to arrange the kirtle and apron.  Gertrude had made it look so easy the day before, when they were in the bath-house.  She wanted to blame Kristr for having the audacity to be nude in his own hall, and to blame Erik for disturbing them.  Roisin took a deep breath to try and steady her racing heart.  She could not let the sight of his body affect her in such a way.  

Punching Erik's shoulder, Kristr glared at his brother, 'Thor's teeth, Erik, has Loki not given your hands enough mischief for one day?' Kristr stomped back to his own chamber and pulled on his undershirt and tunic, grunting and scowling as he laced through the neckline.  Unsuccessfully, he tried to rearrange his arousal within his woollen leggings.

'That,' Erik said, pointing in amusement at his brother's discomfort, 'is Roisin's work, not Loki's, nor mine.' Poking his head out into the dim hall to see if Roisin was dressed and ready to face them yet, and not seeing her, continued, 'Your heart softens as your cock hardens.' Chuckling at Kristr’s derisive snort, ‘It’s the way of the world, little brother. It’s the way a woman weaves her spell upon you.'

Pulling on his boots, Kristr glared at his brother, who was still grinning in glee. 'And with your constant interruptions, I will never find out if she feels the same way.’  He tried again to redress his erection and groaned in dismay.  ‘I feel like an untried lad.  I shall be hard all day.'

Clapping his younger brother on the back, 'Ah, it is poor consolation for you at present, but what from I saw she did not appear to be fighting to escape your embrace. You just need to offer to our goddess Freja and she may smooth the path for you.' Calling out loudly to Roisin, so as to avoid startling her again, he advised they were all taking their leave to go and break their fast with their parents, and she should follow at her leisure.  A squeak of agreement carried from her chamber.

‘Father has issued an instruction that we should join him in the hall, Kristr.’  Erik rolled his eyes, a recalcitrant child again.  ‘Wonder what we have done this time?’  Kristr shrugged.  Their father had already given them a lecture on how to treat their Irish guests, unless he had another plan up his sleeve.   The idea of their father’s loud voice reverberating off the walls at this early hour was not being welcomed by either man.

Crossing the courtyard between the two halls, and following at a distance from the brothers, Roisin laughed out loud when she heard Ciara’s voice behind her, and turned around to her sister, who danced towards her. Not only had she fully and successfully embraced the Norsewoman's attire which had given Roisin so much trouble that morning, her ensemble was completed by the hairstyle, turning her from a Celtic woman into a Viking goddess. She was wearing her hair unbound, in the style of a Norse maiden, her long blonde locks just skimming over her behind. The wispy tendrils, normally so hard to control, were being held in place by a circlet of silver. The sun rays bounced off the shining piece, bathing Ciara an angelic halo of light.

Linking arms, Roisin smiled as she listened to Ciara's excited chatter about the food at the feast, the skald.  Ciara confided that she and Erik had spent the night together. Roisin stopped in her tracks and spun to face her sister. 'Ciara! You did not? Did you?' she covered her ears. 'I do not want to know!' Secretly, she did want to know. Thanks to the gossiping older women on Dun-na-Shee, Roisin knew what laying with a man meant, and the outcome of coupling, but until recently could not imagine why any sane woman would want to do such a thing.

Ciara just giggled. 'No, we did not. He lay beside me after the feast and I woke up this morning in his arms. If lying with a man as if he were your husband makes me feel that happy, I cannot wait until that day arrives.' Almost as if he had heard their conversation, Erik glanced over his shoulder and blew a kiss, causing Ciara to giggle again, and beam at the blond Viking in return,  Observing again the radical change in her friend over the past sennight, Roisin decided that a lively playful Ciara was much more fun than quiet, dutiful Ciara, who had accepted her fate at such a tender age. As they entered the hall they heard squeals of delight from a young dark haired girl who ran in the direction of Kristr and Erik.

She was easily a head and shoulders taller than Roisin and even Ciara looked short beside this willowy beauty with long, almost black hair flowing behind her as she raced towards the men. 'Erik! Kristr! You have come home!' She flung her arms around the neck of each man in turn. 'My brothers have arrived and nobody thought to tell me until this morn when I arrived at the shore!'

Marthe Halsrason was the youngest of the family, and the only sister of Kristr and Erik. Kerik had found the newborn infant left to the wolves sixteen summers ago, whilst trading on the east coast of Scandinavia, in the land of the Swedes.   He saw that the girl-child was healthy and could not leave her to die. This child was either denied by her father, or unknown to him.  All children birthed had to be recognised by their sire, and if the father refused to do so, the child was left to perish.  At nine winters and eight summers when she arrived, Erik and Kristr delighted in the new addition to the family. Marthe was lively, intelligent and determined to match-make for her older brothers since she was twelve summers old.  Now, rather than being fostered, Marthe was serving an apprenticeship as a healer.  The Jarl there, Rorik Merksramsen, was a long-standing friend of Kerik, and he and his wife were only too happy to have Marthe in their midst, although she did not provide much of a calming influence on his five sons.

Observing the joy shared between the siblings, Roisin felt a pang of envy, as she thought of her own brother Brian, expected to marry Ciara, his sister in every way but blood. Marthe looked from her brothers to the girls, back again and once again started shrieking in glee.

'Oh, what a surprise! Can they speak our language? Of course not! I shall have to teach them!'

Running over to Roisin and Ciara, her long limbs evident beneath her blue linen dress, Erik called out behind her, 'Easy, Marthe, you don't want to scare them! It looks like you are attacking with love!' Twirling a stunned Ciara in a hug, she turned her attentions to Roisin, who was equally taken aback. Erik caught up with his maelstrom of a sister, and placing his hands on her shoulders, gently stilling her movements, he addressed Ciara and Roisin in Gaelic,  'Ladies, I believe you have now met our sister Marthe! She is sixteen summers old, but with the opinions and interfering nature of a woman three times that age.'

Kristr came up behind Erik, and chuckling in Norse, said, 'And do not forget her determination in finding you a wife, Erik!' She cannot wait to see the keys of the hall hanging from the brooch of her very own sister!' He paused, and gave a small grin when caught a glimpse of Marthe’s pout. Switching language, and taking Roisin's hand, 'Sweetling, this is my sister Marthe. As you can see, she is quite... lively. However she has promised to teach you more of our language, and given her word not to kill you with kindness.' Roisin smiled in appreciation. It would be pleasant to have a teacher who did not addle her mind with the thoughts of a shameless hussy.  She needed some time away from Kristr lest she succumb to her emotions.

'Komme,' Marthe beckoned them into the main hall. 'Dagmal.' It was the Norse word for breakfast, or Daymeal.

'Breakfast' called Kristr, as the girls followed Marthe into the hall. 'Roisin, I should like it very much if you save me a slice of bread with my eggs and ham.' Roisin was unaware of the significance of her actions the previous eve, but in their society, the act of a single woman sharing bread with a single man indicated a special relationship. He was starting to hope she felt the same way that he did. 

Kristr always had enjoyed this meal.  The dagmal consisted of a substantial meal of ham, eggs, barley bread and buttermilk.  It was not as noisy as the hall had been the previous evening, but between the booming voice of Kerik and the non-stop chattering of Marthe, it was entertaining nonetheless.  After the trenchers were cleared, Kristr offered Roisin to take her around the steading. Although he spent long periods of time at sea, he also knew the importance of farming and the protection of his steading. Kerik Halsrason had not gone a-Viking since Aisling’s arrival, and the steading thrived on the hard work of the all the freed men and women, as well as the hird, those who had been born free.  Although each year the settlement had their share of births, marriages and deaths, there had not been a slave on Halsrafjord since before Kristr’s birth.

Roisin walked beside him, listening intently as he described the uses for the different outbuildings, and their words in Norse, mjolk-kot was the word for dairy, ku the word for cow, staebel and hestr meaning stable and horse. Some words did not sound so different to her own, and the buildings had the same uses.  Kristr explained that although the men were not warriors, Jarl Kerik had made it a requirement of all men on Halsrafjord to train with the bow, sword and axe. All women were expected to be able to use a dagger blade, and that she would be no exception.

She watched at his grey eyes brightened to the colour of polished silver as he talked of the steading and his family. The land had access to the fjord, a freshwater river and woods that stretched for a league to the north. Erik, she knew, would be the Jarl, and his wife the head of the steading. Perhaps that would be Ciara who would have the keys of the hall, as he had gently teased Erik earlier. Kristr was not envious of his brother; as second son he had the freedom to continue as a merchant and trader, but without the responsibility of over one hundred people as Jarl Kerik did and Jarl Erik would.


Roisin smiled to herself as she felt Kristr take her hand as they went in the direction of the shore. She did not pull away, but did feel slightly guilty at her lack of resistance; the priest Father Michael would be threatening them with burning fires of hell for the wanton behaviour of females.  She suddenly thought it was curious that men were not subjected to the same menacing warnings.  They walked in companionable silence for a few minutes, as her thoughts eased from the puritan warnings of the priest to her new words, her new life and the new-found confidence in her sister and best friend. Feeling his thumb circling over the fleshy pad of her palm, she felt her heart start to pound, and her breathing quicken.

'Kristr?' she turned to look at him, biting her lip in nervousness, 'can I ask you a question?'

He looked down to her, partly in amusement, partly in concern. 'Ja, what is it sweetling?'

'I need to know another Norse word.' Where was she going with this? Her words were innocent but her deep green eyes spoke of much more intense thought.
'A word?'

'Ja.' She repeated his word for yes; he only ever used the Norse word for that, even when he spoke in Gaelic; there was no word for ’yes’ or ’no’ in her mother language.  'Kiss. What is the word for kiss?'

'Kiss?' he took a deep breath, and wondered where she was going with this conversation. He hoped he was right. 'Kyssa.'

'Kyssa.' She said the word, then whispered it again, her voice getting lower and lower. 'Kyssa, kyssa, kys-sa.'

She felt his hands lightly caress her cheek, cupping her face. Looking up at him, she no longer saw any trace of the angry face of her abductor, but that of a man who had awoken desires within her. His eyes reflected her own emotion, pleading for permission to take it from a word to an action. Easing herself closer to him, she closed her eyes, and followed her heart.  Slightly parting her lips, she gave him as firm a kiss as she dared.  Breaking away with nerves and giggling, she away from him. His eyes widened first in shock and then in delight.

He chased after her, allowing her to make some distance whilst she laughed and weaved through the bushes in front of him.  He watched her graceful form as her skirts swirled around her legs, and her braid bounced and swayed with her exuberant movements.  Easily catching up with her, neither of them were short of breath, but he was aware of her quickening pulse.  He caught her by her wrists, and gently pulling them behind her back, he held them easily in one hand as he stroked her cheek with the other. Her breathing was heavy, her eyes bright with desire, and she did not resist his hold. Not releasing his easy grip, he slowly walked her backwards until they were against an old oak tree and they started to kiss with a passion that spoke of much more to come.

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


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 9 HERE

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

1 comment:

  1. Loving it more and more each week. Thank you again for sharing your story with us Maria :)


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