Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The last chapter of the Vikings and a GIVEAWAY in Week 17/Chapter 17 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 17/chapter 17 (and the very end) of  Maria MacAuley's Silver & Spice. Now we present to you the last portion of a very exciting, romantic and all-around great story. 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 :)

ALSO be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway to win a Amazon Giftcard!

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 HEREchapter 14 HERE, chapter 15 HERE, chapter 16 HERE

Chapter 17

Erik knew his actions and words were harsh this evening, but years of knowing and keeping the secret of his brother's torment at Alfhilde's hands had finally exploded into rage.
It was undeniable, Alfhilde had made his brother into a strong man, educated in Greek and Latin, disciplined in his actions. Erik was proud of his brother, proud of his skills.  However, Alfhilde had failed Kristr greatly by her abuse of the boy who grieved for his mother. How many more Norse sons had been entrusted to her care and had suffered?  Alfhilde was his aunt, his own mother’s sister.  She had no blood relation to Kristr, but she should have treated him as family.
Not taking his eyes off Alfhilde, who was confined to the corner, radiating fury, he addressed his brother. 'Is Roisin safe?'
'Ja, I have concealed her, and when we get these boys under control and accounted for, I shall bring her back to the buildings. And you,' he stabbed the air viciously at Alfhilde, 'may get down on your knees and beg Roisin's forgiveness. You do not and will not have mine.' He turned from her angry stare, not looking backwards.
'We three can take care of the young boys,' Erik advised. 'Go to Roisin.' Knottr and Johan had started to account for the foster-children in Alfhilde’s care.
Kristr lifted a flaming torch from a sconce. There was no need for stealth now. Walking across the freshly turned earth for planting, he mused on the dissatisfaction he felt at MacRonan's death. He had wanted to watch him die slowly and painfully, to find out why he had cheated him in the first place.  Why had MacRonan’s last words been ‘Mother-Thief?’ He had not taken MacRonan’s mother from him; Aisling had believed her only son dead and was willing to take her chances with Kerik Halsrason than stay another year in her abusive marriage.  Peter MacRonan, however, had taken Aisling from not one son but two, in bitterness and revenge.


Embarking onto the secluded boat, a soft smile crossed his face when he saw Roisin cocooned in the sleeping sack. She was fast asleep, her hand still curled around the knife. He crouched down and stroked her cheek, whispering her name, a little louder when she did not stir.
'Kristr,' she smiled in her sleep, coming around slowly.
'Ja, Sweetling. I am here.' He continued his small circular caress.
'You are my true love,' her whispers were clear, and music to his ears.
'And you are mine.' He never meant anything so much in his life. Shaking her very gently; she finally roused from her slumber.
Opening his sea chest he brought out his new grey embroidered tunic, and held it up. 'This may be – just- a little big for you, but it is a lot more suitable to the climate than that silk gown you have been dressed in.' He ran his fingers over the raised embroidery, on the finely woven wool-cloth, tracing the outline of the rune. A chill ran down his spine as he thought of the previous days when he had come upon the finely threaded piece, the obvious care that she had taken in her work.
She could not stop her tears. 'Kristr, I thought I had lost you forever. They wanted to make me a bed slave! MacRonan wanted to lay with me. If that disgusting vile creature had touched me...' She wriggled frantically out of the sleeping sack and vomited over the edge of the boat. '
'Shhh, Sweetling.' He stroked her back and handed her a waterskin.  She drank gratefully. 'He can never hurt you again.' Starting to carefully unravel the twists of her hair from the circlet, he dropped a kiss on her forehead. 'Consider this a battle scar. Your tresses may be shorter, but it does not distract from your beauty.'
'I suppose it will grow again.' She pulled at the ornate style herself, freeing her shorter black curls. 'A small price to pay to be with you.' She smiled shyly, growing wider when she saw his mirrored reaction.
'Only two more objects to remove, and you are again mine.' He worked the wires free around the ankle bells and threw them over the edge of boat, their gentle tinkling stilled with the immediate splash of the water. Alfhilde had no more hold on his precious Roisin. 'Mine.'
'Yours.' Her breathless words stirred within him. 'Make me yours.'
She did not feel the cold grey fingers of the dawn as Kristr dropped sweet kisses over her body, around her neck where the slave collar had been locked by Alfhilde. He cupped and suckled on her breasts, marvelling in their softness and warmth. With each tiny moan of pleasure as he licked and nipped down over her belly, he nuzzled between her slender thighs, feasting on the intoxicating nectar that guided his way. Sensing her reaching her peak, and slowing down his celebration of her body, he chuckled as she gave a playful scowl and mewl of protest. Stopping to drink in the view of her lush curves and creamy skin, he knew he would never have his fill of her. Finally succumbing to her quiet pleas for release, he returned to his enjoyment of her sweet tender spot, as her voice became louder until she called out his name in ecstasy.
Revelling in her cries of pleasure he claimed her honeyed entrance, the spasms of her womb guiding him in further. Locked in their lovers' embrace of the body, their eyes stared into each other's soul, green as the land into grey as the ocean. The passion was as raw and intense as a winter storm in the mountains of the north. For now, the boat was their world; nothing else mattered. With a final thrust, they collapsed in unison, the two becoming one.


When they arrived back at the hall, Johan, Erik and Taylr had assembled the young men in Alfhilde's care, gathering their tales as evidence for Alfilde’s trial at an Allthing.
'Where is she?' Kristr growled, searching the hall.
'Alone, bound in her bedchamber. It is still too good for the likes of her,' Erik snarled. Kristr watched his brother’s expression change when he saw Roisin, to the normal goodnatured grin for which he was known. Erik’s actions over the previous night confirmed to Kristr that his brother would be a fair Jarl and strong leader, when the time came. 'Roisin!' he hugged her and swung her around, her oversized tunic swirling around her tiny body. 'Besides my darling Ciara, I do not believe I have ever been so pleased to see a woman.'
'Nor I either.' Johan gave a small bow to Roisin, and winked to Kristr, the happiness evident on his face. As far as Johan was concerned, if Roisin was not wed to Kristr by the end of four seasons, with a babe in her womb he would move to Abyssinia, and tolerate sand and heat for the rest of his days.
Settling in front of the hearth with the four men, Roisin finally asked, 'Why did he hate you so?' She shivered as she remembered his lascivious stare, when the women were dressing her. 'He said you were brothers. I did not know he fostered with you.'
Kristr shook his head. 'Nei, we were not foster brothers, but he was my dearthair, my true brother, by blood. We shared a mother, but I did not know this until recently. His last words to me were Mother Thief. Aisling had believed her son dead before she came North with my father.'
Silence fell over the group as they thought of a mother told that her son was dead, and of a son who was told his mother abandoned him.
Johan interjected, 'When I met him in Dubh Linn, he was not aware that he was a brother to Kristr, although he knew that Aisling had left with Kerik.' He frowned, and glanced at his friend. 'Perhaps he hated you because Kerik Halsrason was your sire.' It was time to tread carefully to save Roisin's blushes. 'He knew Alfhilde; perhaps he was jealous of your, ah, friendship with her.'
'Well, my brothers, the key to that particular lock is not far away.' Taylr strood up and purposefully walked out of the hall.
Taking Roisin's hand, Kristr kissed her palm tenderly. 'He is dead now, and she will be tried at the Allthing, but I have other plans to consider.' There was not even a desire to find the soaked ragged clothes of his enemy on the rocks. MacRonan was no more, and Kristr wanted no relics of his enemy's past to mar his future.
Pushing Alfhilde through the longhouse, Taylr forced her to a stop in front of Kristr. Making her kneel before him, Taylr held a firm grip on her thick blonde braids, forcing her head so that she had to look up. Boring down into her eyes unblinkingly, she finally capitulated.
'Well?' he demanded 'Perhaps you may share with us why MacRonan hated me so? Comply and the company of the Allthing may look favourably on you.'
Alfhilde knew she had nothing to lose, except her life. 'He was eaten up by jealousy of you.' She spat the words 'Jealous that your sire took his mother, jealous that you were fostered by me, jealous of your wealth, and finally when the fool worked it out, jealous that you were his blood brother, by a mother who he believed abandoned him for a life in the North.'
Kristr slumped on the bench. This man had wanted him dead for over ten summers. Kristr was nothing but a boy at the time, but looking into Alfhilde's ice blue eyes full of venom, it as clear how twisted a man or woman could become over envy, even to a child.

It was planned that Kristr would sail with Roisin in the remaining boat to Dun na Shee, accompanied by four of Alfhilde's older fosterlings, who would act as oarsmen. He had promised he would take her to see her father, and he would keep his word. Now that MacRonan was dead, the ransom demanded from him was void. There had been no quarrel with Raymond. His heart felt heavy when he thought how she would choose her homeland of Donegal over him.
Erik, Knottr and Johan agreed to stay at Jarlshof, guarding Alfhilde and waiting for Kerik's ship. It would be less than a sennight before he arrived. The time would also permit Johan to talk with the fosterlings, and to help build the testimony against Alfhilde. The men and the women of the Allthing would decide her fate, but if she was merely banished to Vinland, the icy expanse to the very far North, she would consider herself fortunate.
Before the ship sailed out of the river, with its crew of five plus Roisin, Kristr, cupping his hands around his mouth, called to his brother, 'Erik, do not wed until I return! I wish to see my brother finally take a wife!' He hoped Kerik would now give his blessing. There would be much to celebrate on the Halsrason steading. Kristr prayed he would be part of it.


Roisin could barely contain her excitement on the three-day journey home. She blamed her churning stomach on the rolling waves and the joy of seeing her father.
As the boat sailed down the main lough, confusion crossed her face. Instead of a small committee to welcome the group, it looked like a war party, a rough throng looking for blood.
'It is the Viking sail, Sweetling.' Kristr tried to soothe her, 'When we get closer, they will recognise you and all will be well.' She crossed herself in silent prayer, and hoped he was right. ‘Take this anyway, just in case.’ He strapped her dagger to her thigh, hidden by the oversized tunic.  She touched the blade and hoped it would not be needed.
When the boat reached the water's edge, Roisin tried to call out to the men assembled. She recognised her brother. 'Patrick! Fergus! Please, I beseech you! I am well and this man means me no harm. Let us disembark.'
As Patrick helped her off the boat, the men then swarmed over the craft, pulling Kristr and the boys off the vessel. Roisin screamed in rage as Fergus, hauled her off towards the rath as she watched Kristr helplessly. He did not fight his captors.
'Unhand me, Fergus!' She was breathless and her words were rasping through her aching throat. 'You don't know what you are doing!' She tried again to twist out of his grasp but he was resolute, only letting her go when they were close to the simple replacement gates of the rath.
‘You look like your mother, little Roisin.  You should have obeyed your father and married MacRonan without argument.  Running and hiding in woods!’ He spat words at her. ‘Look at the walls and gates of the rath – your stubbornness caused this.  Your mother was too strong willed as well, and look what happened her!’
Roisin stopped struggling.  ‘What do you know of her death?’
‘Nothing that needs to concern you.’ 
She gasped, and stared up at Fergus, the man she believed was one of her father’s most trusted warriors.  ‘You!  You had a hand in her death.’  Fergus said nothing.  No denial. No reason.  She did not need to hear an excuse.
Anger overcame Roisin.  Once again, within a heartbeat she found her mother’s inner strength.  She stilled, in an effort to show capitulation. When his grip released, she slid down past the hem of Kristr’s tunic and drew out her dagger.  For the second time in her life she heard a man’s howl of pain as she stabbed him and ran.
 Ignoring the state of disarray, she ran through the still scorched entrance of the ring fort, crying in joy when she saw her father.
'Papa!' she sobbed into his tunic as he held her close, kissing the crown of her head. 'I thought I should never see you again!'
Raymond could not speak. His daughter was in his arms; the daughter he thought was dead. Time flew back eighteen summers when he felt his joy and awe when Breda had handed him the tiny pink bundle, with a shock of black curls, barely an hour old. 'Roisin. My Roisin.' He fought his emotions, 'I thought I had lost you forever.' He rubbed his fingers through her shoulder length hair. 'Did the Viking do this to you?'
'No, Papa. He saved me twice. From MacRonan and a marriage...,' Raymond winced in shame '... and from a half-troll who tried to make me a slave.' Their reunion was cut short when Kristr was led into the hall. Roisin gasped in horror had been beaten around the face, his hands were tied and Patrick was yanking him forward by a rope about his neck. 'No!' she cried as she left her father's embrace and ran to Kristr. She would always love her father, but her love for Kristr was different, deeper. The unending love of a man and woman. Grabbing Patrick's dagger she started to gnaw at the ropes. 'This man is a good man, an honourable man, a man I..., I love with all my heart.'
Kristr's bruised eyes flickered slightly, and through bloody lips he murmured 'And I you, Sweetling.'
Patrick snorted in disgust, 'This Viking has addled one sister's mind, and who knows what has happened to the other.' Glaring at his prisoner, his eyes and expression black with hatred, he continued, 'Now that she probably carries his child, this Viking,' he could not call him by name, '...this Viking wants to leave her here.' He went to strike Kristr, but was intercepted by Roisin, the display of her new knife skills evident. Patrick may have been closer to the truth than he cared to realise. She knew that her courses had not arrived in one and a half moons, and from what she had heard around the sewing circles and looms, this might mean something.
'Ciara is well, Patrick.' Roisin's voice was low, the dagger still in her hand. 'She has found her true love. So should you.' Roisin looked at her brother, the relief flooding though his body.  The  black cloud of fate that had suffocated him  and Ciara for six years had finally dispersed. Ciara was happy. Now that their planned union was all but dissolved, Roisin knew that he could make his own choice as Chieftain. In  her own quiet determination Ciara had not only survived, she thrived. Patrick would too.

'So, Kristr Halsrason,' Raymond still was not convinced, 'Why does a Viking maurader want my precious daughter?' This man had kidnapped his daughter from his own lands, and spirited her away. The Northman’s enemy had come and stolen everything of value and almost razed the rath to the ground.  MacRonan and his men came through, intent on destroying the clan and people of Dun na Shee and laying claim to his daughter as if she were livestock.
'My Chieftain.' It was the closest term of respect that Kristr could translate. 'I do not regret taking your daughter.' Raymond unsheathed his dagger. 'I do not regret preventing a marriage to the underhand MacRonan, I do not regret welcoming her into my family in the north. I do not regret falling in love with her.' He stopped. 'But I deeply deeply regret the hurt that I caused her by not letting her say goodbye to you, and I regret that I failed to protect her from evil.' He took a deep breath. 'I do not deserve her, but I would like to make her my bride.'
'You expect me to pay a king's ransom for my daughter and then give her to you in marriage? I will never make a decision on my daughter’s behalf again.' 
'There is no ransom now. The demand died with MacRonan.' Kristr now knew how Roisin felt when her stomach churned. His own belly lurched with nervous energy as he considered his situation. He did not wish to barter a bride-price for a woman so perfect, so pure of heart, like she were a prize milk cow. He looked Raymond straight in the eye. 'MacRonan owed me silver. There is no amount of precious metal in this world that I would hold back to have the privilege of making your daughter my wife, my partner. But only if she is willing.'
Roisin careered back into her father’s arms, with a squeal of delight worthy of Marthe. 'Papa, please grant his request.' She would miss Donegal, but it was possible to travel over the seas, especially in the long days of summer.

'In return for letting me wed your daughter, I will provide all that you need to repair your home, to rebuild your boats and to prepare your land for the growing season.' I have four young men currently at my disposal who need to learn some farming skills, and some of the Gaelic language.' Kristr knew his plans. Land was scarce in the North and many men were making their way to this mild, wet Island. To prepare them as settlers, not invaders, could only smooth the change that were coming, and prevent bloodshed from feuds.

Raymond sat back in his chair and sighed. Roisin looked so much like, her mother. He remembered the same look on Breda's face as she begged Niall, her own father to permit her to wed the young untried man from Dun na Shee.
'Kristr Halsrason, do you promise to protect my daughter with all your heart?'
'Chieftain, I give you my word.'
'Roisin of Dun na Shee, do you promise to be an honourable wife, but also promise to come back to me if you are unhappy?' He may allow Kristr to marry Roisin, but he would never give her away.
'Papa, I do.'
Straightening his back, and looking to Patrick, whose face had finally softened, he said, 'I agree to this union.'


One full moon later, the simple Christian service in St Aonghus' church ended with the joyous pealing of bells. The couple left the church to the well wishes of those who lived inside and outside the rath. Blessings for a long marriage and healthy babes intermingled with some of the more raucous intentions of a man and woman joining as husband and wife.
As a bride, she wore a deep red kirtle, as her mother had, on a cool Summer day nineteen years previous. Her linen cream underdress peeped through the wide bell sleeves, and her silver girdle, a bride-gift from Kristr, showed off her slim waist and curved hips. Her hair was decorated with rare tiny scarlet flowers that only blossomed once every three summers, for beauty, and leaves of oak for fertility. Kristr stood proudly beside her, his face healed and the fine embroidered grey tunic skimming over every toned muscle in his chest.
In the Norse tradition, Kristr carried his wife over the threshold of the hall before the wedding feast could begin.  Ducking under the lintel, he stopped and asked her if she felt well. 'Yes, my love. I have some news for you of my unwell stomach.' She blushed as he looked to her abdomen and arched an eyebrow. With her shy nod, he gave a whoop of delight, planted a long loving kiss on her lips, and thanked every god in the known world, be they Christian, Norse, Celtic, Greek, Roman or Saracen, that through silver, Roisin had been brought into his world.

Thank you to:
The dawn is copyright, the boat is copyright flickr Jomme from his Norway photoset and the other drawing and painting is E Paterson


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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  1. Love Viking stories, and this one sounds really great.

    Thanks for the give-away opportunity


    1. hi Gayle, thank you so much for reading! It's my first attempt and I had so much fun I can't wait to try and write more.


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