Wednesday, April 24, 2013

~Like Vikings? Week 2/chapter 2 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley is here!~

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 2/chapter 2 of  Maria MacAuley's Silver & Spice. Now we present to you another small 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 first chapter HERE

Chapter 2

Roisin struggled, kicking and flailing her arms. Panicked, she couldn't hear beyond the throbbing in her ears, and twisting her head with every ounce of strength she could muster, she managed to open her jaw and bite down as hard as she could, into the flesh of his palm. Hissing in outrage the attacker pulled harder on her braid, jerking her head back so that she whimpered in pain, silencing the scream building in her lungs. 'Try to bite me again wench, and with a swift blow to the back of the head, you will make the journey in the same state as your companion.'
He spun Roisin around to see Ciara unconscious in the blond man's arms. She stifled a cry, as the blond viking spoke to her in halting Gaelic. 'She has only fainted. But if you do not want both her and yourself to spend the rest of the journey in this condition, I suggest that you obey my brother.' He laid Ciara on the ground, and bent his head over her face as if to check for a breath. Looking in horror at Ciara's ashen face and chalk-like lips, Roisin's body went limp; she fell to her knees, only her braid tethering her to her captor. She wanted to resist, to fight and run away, but not only could she not leave Ciara, her own muscles were paralyzed in fear. She stared in silent terror as the blond man balled up a piece of cloth drawn from his belt and nonchalantly threw it over her head to the giant. From behind, he pulled the cloth between her teeth and gagged her before she had the presence of mind to protest. He finished by binding her hands tightly with a strip of leather, his glare full of hatred.
Kneeling on the ground, rasping breaths not reaching her lungs, she watched as the beast casually picked up her damp cloak from the forest floor. He reached into the pouch at his waist, and, unscrolling a missive, stabbed the document through her cloak, and onto a tree. Suddenly she was aware of her small size, it would be impossible to out run this beast. He was tall and broad, dressed in a plain, undyed tunic and leggings, the only splash of colour was the unique red-brown of his hair, an uncharacteristic trait in the Northmen.
'Don't you have pretty green eyes, Roisin? Does your betrothed see their beauty?' the monster taunted her, as he tugged on her wrists, her knees still threatening to give way. 'Walk now. My brother will take good care of Ciara. He is an honourable man.'
She stumbled behind him through the woods. He moved swiftly, pulling on her bonds, and growling like a bear if she didn't move fast enough. She glanced behind and saw the grim-faced fair-haired beast carrying Ciara as if she were a babe. Honourable? Ciara was unconscious at this man's hands. She blinked back tears, the sting blinding her to all but the thought of Ciara, her white-blonde hair and arms swinging lifelessly. Bowing her head to hide the unshed tears, she did not want these barbarians to see how scared she truly was. Her morning meal was churning in her stomach threatening to choke her, the cold Spring air of the woods forgotten as fear left her skin feeling fever faint but her blood like ice.
Confused thoughts scrambled through her mind, seeking answers but finding none. There were only two of them and they called each other brother; normally Viking came rampaging by the score. How did these men know their names, she wondered. She and Ciara had not strayed so far from Dun na Shee that the tolling bells of St Aonghus' church would not be have been heard should there have been a raid. If longships had been sighted on the horizon, the church bells were always rung in warning, to give the men time to ready their weapons, and the women time to protect the children and hide the valuables, what little of value was left. None of this was making sense to Roisin, her random muddled thoughts only to be interrupted by a regular sharp jerk on the unyielding bonds.
A short distance though the dark constricting trees, beams of sunshine gradually gave way to full sunlight, low in the sky. A pair of horses were there, grazing on the few early fresh leafy shoots of grass. Roisin watched as the blond gently placed Ciara over the saddle and mounted, supporting her over his lap. Her own abductor tugged on her braid, forcing her to face him. 'Now Roisin, can you obey and sit upright alongside me, or perhaps you'd prefer to be thrown across my knee like that?' He tilted his head toward the other horse, and the lifeless Ciara. Roisin shook her head, mewling against the gag, and tried to step back. Sighing in exasperation, he hoisted her onto the back of the horse and pulled himself up beside her, letting both her legs fall to one side. At least she still had some modesty. She tried to move away from his broad chest, but he pulled her in close, looping a rope around their bodies. 'I can't have my goods escaping me, can I?' Goods! Jesu, he was going to sell her! She had heard stories of the slave markets in Dubh Linn, where the Viking casually examined human beings as if they were animals. She could not become another man's property. It was bad enough to be passed from her father to MacRonan for coin, but to be sold as a piece of flesh to another was much worse. She started to tremble, but he pulled her in closer, his bristly beard grazing against the shell of her ear. 'If you obey me, I will not harm you Roisin, but you are precious goods with which I will barter.'
The horses took off towards the North coast at a gallop, the momentum throwing Roisin against his chest. His chuckles at her attempts to keep a distance between their bodies was humiliating. She tried to calm her breathing, to focus on not fainting or drowning herself in her own vomit which threatened with every lurch. The panic continued to build as they rode further and further from Dun na Shee; they might still be on her father’s lands, but even by following the trails, he would never catch up now. When they finally stopped she could see a small longboat in the lough, partially obscured by the overhanging willows from the banks. The irony of the situation was not lost on Roisin. It was their intention to cut willows for basket weaving that had left them in this predicament.


Two men came out from behind the trees, barely glancing at the women, but greeting the riders like old friends. Roisin did not understand a word of their guttural Norse tongue.
'Greetings, Johan, Knottr! Are we ready to sail?' Kristr called out to his friends; there was no trace of fear in his voice at being heard by the Irish. Unknotting the rope from around his waist, he jumped down from the horse, sighing in exasperation as she shied away from his grasp. It was futile. He yanked her ankles, and she slid off the horse into his arms. Avoiding his cold grey eyes, she twisted from his hold steadied herself against the flank of the horse.
'Ja, Kristr, the boat is ready.’ One man, the younger of the two spoke. Turning his attention to Erik, Johan him a friendly slap on the back. ‘What have you done to that sweet little girl?' He laughed as he reached for the horse's reins from Erik, patting the neck of the sweating beast and placing a leather bucket of water at its feet. Roisin noticed that he was dressed more like her own kinsfolk, with a short man’s kirtle and woven breeches rather than woolen leggings. He did not look quite like the other three either; his features were not quite so chiseled and distinct. Apart from the language, she would have believed he was Irish. She knew she was not tall, but surrounded by these huge men, she felt the size of the fairy folk.
'Silly girl fainted on me in her panic, please help me, Knottr,’ grumbled Erik as he eased his hands under Ciara’s still form, into the other giant’s waiting arms. 'Although it did make the ride here pleasant looking at that pretty rump.' Spreading a cloak on the ground on which Ciara could lie, his gaze drifted downwards as he surveyed his prize. 'I'd best try rousing her, hadn't I?' Reaching for his saddlebag, he pulled out a waterskin and put it to Ciara's lips. Easing back into Gaelic he said 'Come on little Ciara, waken up, you've slept enough now.' Ciara started to stir, blinking slowly as she opened her eyes, flashes of panic across her face as she must have recalled what happened. She gave a cry of fear as she called out Roisin's name, looking around for her friend. When their eyes met, and seeing Roisin so helpless, she tried to jump up, but was quickly subdued by Erik who scooped her into his arms and took her onto the longship, crooning in her ear, easily resisting her struggles.
Finally hearing Ciara's voice stirred Roisin out of her own fear. Ciara was alive. She had watched her sister waken, a bystander as the scene unfolded before her eyes. Finally, she found own voice, 'Slept?!' Roisin screamed through her gag in outrage, the sound muffled. 'Marauders!' The three men looked at her in mild amusement, as she spat every curse she could think of; they might not understand the words through the twist of cloth, but their meanings were evident. They looked away from her and continued conversing amongst themselves.
'A lively one Kristr, I wonder if she's always so spirited.' Johan chuckled, 'If only you would let me converse with her. By the sounds of it, she has a number of opinions spouting forth from that foul mouth.'
Kristr snorted in derision as he threw a pouch of silver to Johan. 'Her liveliness is of no interest to me. If this shrieking wench intrigues you so much, you have little in the way of entertainment in your life.' Ignoring her torrent of half-formed words, he pushed her by the small of her back towards the boat. 'As soon as I receive what MacRonan owes me, he can have her, if I haven't cut out her foul tongue by then.' Shaking his head in mirth Johan lead the horses into the darkness of the woods as Knottr effortlessly pushed the boat from its hidden moorings, jumped on board, and it glided off into the night.

Thanks for the painting be given to E Patterson

Roisin felt his firm grip on her arm as he guided her into a small tented area at the front of the boat. Ciara was already there with the blond man sitting very close to her. There was barely room for two, never mind four. The single candle held within a wrought bronze cylinder cast an eerie flickering light over the cramped space. Ciara was still obviously shaking with cold and fear, but she had been swathed in a fur, and her abductor held it around her shoulders, warming her body, as they left the lough estuary, and approached the open sea. The tenderness he displayed to Ciara was so at odds with the rest of the day. At least her quiet gentle natured friend was not tied and helpless.
Goods. He had called her goods. We aren't women, just tradable objects to these people. She was interrupted from her thoughts by feeling the gag being pulled from her mouth. She wriggled her jaw in relief. 'Be quiet, little Roisin, and I shall not silence you again.' She nodded, glad to have the rag from her mouth. He held a skin of water to her lips. 'Drink, Roisin. We have a long journey ahead of us.' She gulped the water gratefully, not realising her thirst. 'Easy sweetling,' she winced at the term of endearment, 'you don't want to choke'.
'Why have you taken us?' her voice was barely a hoarse whisper. 'You speak Gaelic but you are a...a..'
'Viking?' Kristr finished for her. 'Ja, I'm a Viking but I am also a merchant, a trader, when necessary, a warrior.' Roisin shivered, as he continued, 'You will be spending some time as our, ah, guests,' he paused, 'therefore, let me introduce myself. My name is Kristr Halsrason. You have also met my brother, Erik.' Erik smiled at her, but she couldn't return it, the formalities almost comical after being bound, gagged and dumped on a ship to Heaven knows where. He still held Ciara in his arms, as if she was his betrothed, not Brian’s. His gruff voice again broke through her thoughts. 'You are to wed in a fortnight, is that not so?' How on God's earth did he know this? She nodded. 'To Sean MacRonan?' She nodded again. 'Well, allow me to appraise you of your situation, little Roisin. He reneged on an arrangement we had, and he owes me at least a sack of silver. Six of your Irish pound-weights. When he gives me my payment for my goods, he will have his goods returned.' He pulled her plait, as if to confirm it was herself that he meant. Roisin gasped in shock, her original feelings of untrustworthy preening MacRonan and the stories of his treachery flying through her head. The matter of fact tone of this – Kristr – was taking chilled her to the bone. She was to be ransomed.
'But if he doesn't pay…?' Roisin could not keep the anxiety out of her voice as it trailed off.
'He is to wed you. You love each other. If he does not pay,' he shrugged, 'Your father will.'
'My father does not have that amount of silver! It was kept in monasteries – you Vikings know that! You raided them and stole our wealth! And you have no quarrel with my father! He is an innocent party, as am I! This is between you and MacRonan.' She did not know who she hated more at the moment, her husband-to-be or her captor.
The outburst did not deter Kristr. 'Your brother will find the silver. He is betrothed to Ciara, is he not?'
'Aye, but...' her tone was confused as to how he knew so much about her kin.
Kristr held up his hand to stop her, speaking slowly as if she were a child of five summers. 'It's very simple. Your family or your betrothed will have four seasons to provide me with my silver, or I shall get it by selling you at the slave market in Hedeby, after I have your maidenhead. That is worth at least a coin or two, don't you think?' MacRonan's own stomach-churning words rang in his head, how the disgusting slob had laughed casually at the silver-weight being equal to a thrall or a dowry. MacRonan obviously did not see much difference in the value of a slave or a wife.
Roisin stared down at her bound hands, and chewed her lip, blinking furiously to keep her tears at bay. How could this be her life after the fun she and Ciara had this morning? She wanted to curse this man, and every man she knew. She'd take his manhood afore he took her to bed.
Again, she felt his cold stare. 'Stop with the false tears of a spoiled wench,' he growled, pushing his finger under her chin, forcing her to look him in the eye. ‘You will behave when you are in my company, otherwise I will not make your time with me easy.’ Holding the stare for a moment, he straightened up, and walked out of the tent. Erik laid Ciara down against Roisin, smiled softly at her and followed Kristr onto the small deck.

Holding onto the side of the boat, staring into the blackness, Erik finally spoke. 'Brother, why did you speak to her like that? You have never taken a woman unwillingly.' His voice lowered, 'Your mother...'
Kristr's voice remained even. 'I know. I have never taken an unwilling woman to my furs, and that will not change. It was only my temper. Besides, a threat make might make her more compliant on the trip home. I do not care if she hates me, but if that shrill harpy knew more about her love, MacRonan, she would be happy to be far away from his kind. He will give her nothing but sorrow.' Nonetheless, he could not concern himself with her marriage. He wanted his money and revenge.
'Ja, I know but you are not in the habit of terrorising a woman, even if she is betrothed to your enemy. And do not think that I missed you looking at that sweet ruby mouth of hers. I know lust when I see it.'
'Nei. It not lust. I care nothing for her. She is a means to my silver.' He wished he meant that. The feel of her thick braid, black as the night sky above their heads. That red lip captured between straight white teeth. Those eyes, an exquisite green, like coloured Venetian glass.

So far, all was going according to his plan. He had found and captured MacRonan's woman, with an additional hostage in the beautiful Ciara. He had left the ransom note for Conal of Dun na Shee to find. His long-time friend Johan O'Toole would make the journey to Dubh Linn and bring news north within six sennights. He did not expect that MacRonan would take bride-stealing lightly, and would retaliate. MacRonan was a merchant, interested in property and expensive objects from the far corners of the world. This was not about love for him, it was about displaying his finery, his trophies. His poor taste in gaudy trinkets would destroy the natural beauty of Roisin. He would bind her with gold and silver, rather than a leather strip, his overly ornate necklaces choking and strangling any breath of life out of her, every bit as much as an iron thrall collar. He shook his head, trying to shake the images from his mind. Caring for Roisin was not part of his plan.
He needed to expend some energy and concentrate on something other than the petite woman huddled in the stern. Settling himself onto a sea chest, and taking an oar he began to heave the huge beam in rhythm with the other crew. 'Go take the steer, Knottr can row with me part of the night. We have to make it North before the waxing moon and change of tides.
Back in the tent Roisin wriggled closer to Ciara for some heat. 'Can you release these bonds? I cannot bear to be trussed like an animal,' she whispered her words, afraid that their captors may be listening.
Ciara fumbled with the knot. 'I cannot undo it in this poor light, it is too complex.' She cupped her hands around Roisin's, 'Your hands are so cold.' She rubbed their hands over one another, trying to generate some warmth. 'What do you think they will do with us? Erik told me that that they would not harm us, but that they want silver before they will return us home.'
The names were harsh to Roisin’s ears, and sounded strange coming from Ciara’s tongue. 'I know Brian has some buried away, but not enough to satisfy these Northmen, I am sure.' Ciara's thoughts seemed to tumble out, each sentence faster and more frantic than the last.
Roisin took a deep breath. 'I believe that our clan will do everything to pay the ransom, but I cannot vouch for MacRonan's integrity. If he has cheated in a trade, as Kristr says, and robbed him of coin, why would he pay for me? For us?' She bit back a sob as she thought of what she had just said of herself.
Ciara stopped rubbing Roisin's hands. 'I am sorry I cannot free you, but we both need to keep our strength up and our wits about us.' Roisin curled her body into Ciara, as she tucked the fur around their bodies before casting her much longer cloak over both of them. They chose silence over unanswered questions, but once again Roisin was lost in her thoughts. How did a pagan Norseman get a name like Kristr?


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.

Thank you to unknownswilly ( for the kind use of a number of her photographs.

Bounce on over to Chapter 3 HERE

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


  1. I love the imagery, where Roisin is desperately trying to get away at the beginning all the way through to the 2 girls huddled under the furs.

    Kristr is acting like a beast but I have a feeling there is a good heart under all that...

    Lovely, well written. Can't wait for the next chapter.

  2. Thanks, Wattle! I hope I don't disappoint!


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