Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Vikings are back in Week 14/Chapter 14 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 14/chapter 14 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 HERE
chapter 8 HEREchapter 9 HEREchapter 10 HEREchapter 11 HEREchapter 12 HEREchapter 13 HERE

Chapter 14

Roisin waited for the tides to turn.  Kristr had promised that he would take her on a voyage to see her father, on the condition that she did returned with him again.   She could not bring herself to ask him about the silver again. It was obvious that Halsrafjord was wealthy, and that any ransom paid would not increase the coffers greatly. Just as Ciara and Patrick had been pawns in a marriage transaction, she had been used as a pawn in an unfair trade exchange. She wished that her father could procure the silver; she could imagine it was a dowry and she could stay with Kristr of her own free will. Perhaps when she returned to Donegal, Kristr would give her that choice. He had assured her, that when the ransom was paid, she would be free to make whatever choice she wanted. She would choose him.
In the meantime, she had settled into a routine on the farmstead. Roisin loved to weave, and to sew, and was happy to spend time mending the garments of her temporary companions, and preparing patterned cloth on the broadloom. It felt good to be useful and to share her skills.  She liked to take a little extra care over Kristr's clothing. She had been spending part of each day carefully embroidering the rune from his tattoo into a new fine grey tunic. She had not yet shown him her work as she wanted to have it completed before they left for Donegal, and she was sure he would appreciate the gesture. Roisin missed her small bone needles at first, but when Gertrude had presented her with a little cylinder containing needles made of silver, she was delighted. She was proud to have her small sewing pouch hanging from her apron brooch, like a true Viking woman.  Only Gertrude had keys of the hall, the privilege of the Jarl’s wife.
Teaching Gertrude and the other women the different ways of weaving, how to make small intricate patterns in the fabric, gave Roisin a sense of pride and belonging. To share her skills with others was a rewarding experience, as she had done on Dun na shee. Her finely woven cloth had been part of the income for the clan when Conall or Patrick went trading. She still missed her father and brother, and was sure Ciara did too. Ciara. To see her friend so happy, so content made her wonder if this had been part of the Lord's plan for her. Ciara was born to live here, in the fjords. Her height aside, she would pass easily for a Norsewoman, with her blond hair, blue eyes and steadfast approach to life. If she and Patrick had married, it would have extinguished the life spark from them both.
To find happiness, Roisin would never have believed that the modest quiet Ciara would have become the concubine to a Jarl's son.  But she also would never have believed she would become a hostage, a captive who did not want to leave her captor. Ciara, as Erik's concubine, now had status on the steading. She did not dress as a married woman, and still wore her hair unbound, like a Norse maiden, with the exception of a small kerchief covering the crown of her head, held in place by her silver circlet.  Its symbolism identified her as Erik's woman, in every way but in marriage vows.


Under Marthe's tutelage, her Norse was improving, with more new words creeping in every day. Each day it sounded a little less strange, and she started to worry that she would forget her mother tongue, especially where there was no word in Irish for the Norse item. Maria's infectious good nature and humour continued to keep her spirits up, and she knew she would miss Maria when she returned to her training as a healer, further down the coast.
On Dun na Shee, Roisin had avoided the cooking pots at all costs, preferring to scrub clothes or even milk cows than be involved in the preparation of the meals. Here, she was still mindful of her status as a hostage, albeit one who was fairly content, and she was keen not to cause any offence to the people who had treated her so kindly. MacRonan as her husband would hardly have fed or cared for her so well. Having spent so little time at the hearth, she was surprised to realise that she enjoyed it, especially since the spring weather was pushing out new leaves and shoots to enjoy. She wondered if she would be here for harvest time, around the time of Lunasa and the eighth moon.
Seeing the first early blossoms of hawthorn, breaking though the warming clear spring sunshine reminded her of Donegal, and of the upcoming festival of Bealtine. On Dun na Shee they would have cut hawthorn blossom and decorated the house, the tiny white flowers a symbol of new life after the long winter. Although frowned upon by the Church, there was a certain tolerance for some of the ancient rituals, as reflected in the Celtic Cross used by her people. By blending the old worship of the sun and the new worship of Christ, helped the Irish to accept the new faith. She and Ciara would have washed their faces in the first dew of Bealtaine, said to have magical properties to add to a maiden's complexion. It obviously worked on Ciara, her inner and outer beauty shining through as brightly as a summer sun.
Darkness was falling later and later this far north, and evenings were spent in the hall, listening to skalds weave their stories; the sagas were fascinating and the skill of the storyteller had her every bit as enthralled as the rest of the assembly. She did not need Kristr to translate so much, but she loved having him so close as he whispered the words in her ear. Having him so close, only made her think of having him under the furs, and she often settled herself on his lap, wiggling her bottom and innocently teasing him. He obviously agreed with her sentiments, because on more than one occasion they left the hall for some cool night air, and to allow Roisin to admire the magical green and purple lights that lit up the sky on occasion. Nobody was fooled at the antics of the young lovers.
The tales were different to those of home. She loved the Mythological Cycle, fables of the Tuatha de Danaan, royal fairy folk who inhabited Ireland before her Celtic ancestors, who, despite the best intentions of the church were still believed to live in the woods, streams and mountains.
She missed the sorrowful tale of the Children of Lir, Fionnuala and her three brothers, Conn, Aed and Fiachra, who were transformed into swans by their jealous stepmother. They spent four hundred years under the curse until they were freed from the spell by a hermit who followed the new faith, and its message of love and forgiveness.
She wished she were a seanchai, the Irish equivalent to the skald, so that she could do justice to the epic Tain Bo Cualinge, The Cattle Raid of Cooley. The hero Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, singlehandedly fought and won against Queen Maeve of Connacht, only to lose his own life in the process.


Kristr continued to set aside part of the day so that they could practice with the dagger. She was becoming much better and agile in her actions, as her confidence grew. He still despaired that she had no training in knife play as a young girl, but each training session generally ended with him overpowering her in mock play and a tender kiss on the lips. However, he knew it was time to take her to get the blade sharpened when their mock struggle did not end in a kiss, but in a deft move from Roisin when she spun around behind him and smacked him on his backside with the flat of the blade.
His initial reaction of shock was replaced by mirth when he was faced with a view of a smirking Roisin, delighting in her victory. Giving a long low growl, he picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. Grinning in delight as she feigned a protest, he  mjgave her a light smack on her own delectable rump and immediately wished he hadn't as he practically ran back to their hall, Roisin laughing as she bounced on his shoulder, her braid nearly touching the ground as it swung below her.
Entering the hall, and striding down to the chamber, Kristr laughed in glee as Roisin pummelled his back, 'Put me down, Kristr! What will people think if they see you carrying me like a sack of turnips!' He grunted as he threw her down on the bed furs.
'Irish wench!' She rolled her eyes as he wrestled her onto his lap as she tried to squirm out of his grasp, but the enjoyment of having her laugh and wriggle as her skirts hitched up below him was becoming too much to bear. 'Did you think you could best me in knife play?'
'Viking maurader!' She finally allowed herself to be subdued on his lap. Her kicking legs were trapped between his and her hands were pinioned behind her back. She could feel his erection firm and proud below her, his free hand caressing her bare flesh under her bunched kirtle. She groaned softly in anticipation, as he continued to circle over her soft tender skin.
'How shall I punish you, wench? I remember a very cross little piglet on our journey here. She rolled her eyes at me, and I remember telling her that I should put her over my knee.' He smacked her lightly, and she gave a low moan. 'Do you remember?' Another caress, another playful smack, a further caress moving from her sweet rounded bottom to between her slightly parted thighs.
'Aye, I remember' she moaned, the heat growing within her, warmth sweetness preparing to welcome him. 'And I also remember a demanding Viking beserker calling me a sea cow as well as a piglet!' She knew exactly what her audacious retort would bring.
As he looked at her delicately pinked cheeks of her behind, he noticed the colour reflected on her sweet face and pouty lips.  She desired him as much as he did her. 'I think you have learned your lessons for today, sweetling,' he whispered, as he lifted her up to sit on his lap, freeing her wrists from his gentle grip. 'We have a long journey that will start soon, and you will need your rest.'
'Ah, but have we finished?' Roisin interjected, as she pressed her palm against his groin, the outline of his desire easily in view. Listening to his quiet hiss of pleasure, she knew she was learning to handle more than one dagger. She wanted another night of love play, of memories stored for her future, where ever it may be.


The sun was barely breaking over the grey horizon when the three boats glided into the hidden cove on the north side of the lough. They followed the flickering light of a single flame, guiding them to their harbour. The cloaked figure extinguished the hog-fat candle, its acrid smoke filling the cool air. 
“It has been some time MacRonan.”  The cloaked figure spoke. “I thought you would have had more sense than to lose your betrothed to a Viking.”
MacRonan shrugged. “I underestimated Halsrason.”
The other figure removed his cowl.  “You are more of a fool than I thought.  I went to great trouble convincing Conall to give his daughter to you, and this is how you repay me?”
“Fergus, when I finally claim Roisin, and I will claim her,” MacRonan continued, “You can have your reward.”  He waved his hand dismissively.  “This land does not inspire me. You can take it.”
“I have spent all my life here, I think it is only right that I should claim it.  Breda should have been mine.  Her father’s lands should have been mine.  Dun na shee is the next best thing.”  Fergus turned on his heel.  “The hounds have had their throats cut.  The gates have been unlocked.  I hope that you do not –sabotage- this opportunity.”  With that, he disappeared. 
Silently the crews departed the ships, and crept through the still dark woods, fanning out as they came to the rath.  MacRonan sneered in the shadows. This was too easy. It was easy to find Irish mercenaries from Munster. It was easy to sail down the lough under darkness without being sighted.  And to arrive at Dun na Shee with the help of one of Conall’s own men was the easiest thing of all.
He signalled to Lorcan, his longest serving warrior and highest paid gallowglass. With a war cry Lorcan and his men descended on the rath in a flurry of arrows, as MacRonan strode confidently behind them.
Through the wooden spiked gates, now ablaze, the people of Dun na Shee were in a state of disarray, the women fleeing to the centre roundhouse, with the infants and children, the men seeking their arms and drawing their blades. The clanging of steel rent through the once silent dawn morning.
Conall came storming through the hall, swinging his sword at any man who dared to come near him. MacRonan, you whoreson! He pointed his blade. 'You cause me to lose my daughter by your underhandedness and you now come to ransack my rath!'
Looking over MacRonan's shoulder Conall dropped his sword to his side. MacRonan held his ground. 'Aha, you must love your children more than your land. Fool. He is not even your own flesh and blood, 'tis obvious to all,' he hissed, watching Conall's face as Lorcan threw a young man to the ground. His hands were bound and his face was bloody. Pulling Patrick by his hair, raising his head, he held his dagger to Patrick's neck, the blade pressing against his smooth olive skin.
Call off your men, Steele, and I might have mine show some mercy. If not. He pressed the knife further against Patrick's throat, a tiny trickle of blood in a rivulet forming below the blade. 'Or I shall show none.'
Conall had no option but to capitulate. He did not care if he died, but to allow MacRonan's men to take the lives of those around him would be a mortal sin. 'I will not sacrifice the life of my son to you. You have had my daughter taken from me, and for that I hope you burn in the fires of Hell.'
Every man, woman and child in the rath was rounded up and counted. MacRonan had his men search every hut and dwelling, taking each piece of silver they could find. Coin, goblet, jewellery, hacksilver, it didn't matter. Even the small silver crucifix that belonged to Breda, Conall's wife.
'Let us see if you can gather enough silver to rescue your daughter now.' MacRonan gave a hollow laugh as he crushed the precious pieces together, 'consider this as Saxon wergild for breach of contract.'
Turning to the now smouldering entrance, he yelled to his man. 'Lorcan! Summon your men. Burn their boats before you go.' Without looking behind, he shouted to the shaken group, 'Come after us and I shall decimate your people, Steele. You have been lucky this day, tomorrow you may not.'
The three boats left as silently as they came, and headed further north.

Be sure to come back next week for chapter 14!

Thank you to:
copyright unknownswilly (
copyright Pat McCandless (
E. Paterson for the Viking painting


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 favorite tense, it should be the subjunctive, and is always keen to discuss same over a pint of Guinness.

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

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