Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Vikings are back in Week 12/Chapter 12 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

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

Ireland, one month previously

In a smoky hall just outside of Dubh Linn, Sean MacRonan was finishing his supper. Sucking the last strand of meat from between his teeth, he drained his cup of mead, before hurling the goblet at the hound, which jumped and yelped in fear. 
How dare Kristr Halsrason take Roisin of Dun na Shee?  She was his; her father Conall had agreed upon it. She was comely enough, and would have been useful to bear sons, until she died from childbirth or exhaustion.  In January he had thieved a chest of precious and valuable spices from Kristr and had expected Lorcan to leave him for dead.  Sean scowled.  He should have done the deed himself.  Not only did his enemy survive, but had stolen from him in return. 
Now Conall of Dun na Shee was without a daughter, thanks to Halsrason’s actions.  MacRonan could have cursed himself when he had he had confirmed his own guilt, admitting to Roisin’s brother Patrick that he had been trading with Halsrason. 
He should have unleashed Lorcan’s anger upon Patrick, and let his men raid Dun na Shee. Bile rose again when he thought of Roisin's men folk preventing him from landing at their rath. No doubt they would nobly try to avenge her abduction. And fail. When they were dead, he would take her again, and her lands.
In his red mist of fury he did not see the hooded figure gliding towards him, up the length of the hall. He drew his dagger, shouting for his serving maid. Where was that useless Noreen? If this figure wanted some pleasures of the flesh, he'd happily throw Noreen to them if it saved his coin. He had his pleasure from her many times already.
As the figure drew closer to him, he finally caught a glimpse of blonde braid and his lips curled into an evil smile.
'Well, my Valkryie, what brings you here, far over the waves? Where are your little group of fosterlings?' He looked to the door, expecting to see a skinny half grown man-boy following her like a puppy. 'Have some mead, I'm sure you will find it soothing after your travels.' He waved the earthenware jar, sloshing the contents onto the floor. 
She snorted in disgust. Pulling her hood down and fixing it about her shoulders, she glared 'I'm here alone.' She had to travel fast, and the tides were favourable down the channel. 'And I need your assistance.' She lifted the horn of light golden liquid he had poured and raised it in toast.
'Really?' MacRonan was intrigued.  This woman rarely needed the aid of anyone. 'And how may I assist you Alfhilde? Does the Valkryie require a fine red-blooded man to warm her furs?'
Alfhilde scowled. The truth stung and MacRonan knew he was not the man whom she wanted in her bed. 'Hardly. I need you to procure me a woman.' His eyes widened, then narrowed. She had never expressed an interest in women before. 'And not just any woman.'
His interest was piqued. What kind of woman would Alfhilde want, and why? 'I did not realise you had such, ah, particular tastes, Valkryie.'
'I want Kristr Halsrason's woman. I want to teach him a lesson. And, I want you to get her for me.'
He jumped up and grabbing her by the nape of her neck, he held his dagger to her throat. 'I do not know what game you play with me, but I am not amused.' How did Alfhilde know Kristr had stolen his black haired Donegal bride from under his nose?
Pulling her own dagger from beneath her cloak, she pressed the blade against his arm. 'You are too deep in your cups of mead tonight. Unhand me now lest I cut through the sinews on your sword arm! Halsrason arrived at the Jarlshof on Shetland four days ago with a tiny little halfling. I dressed her as the thrall she was but Kristr Halsrason rejected me for her. Her!' Alfhilde's voice rose to a shriek. MacRonan released her from his grasp. Roisin was comely enough, but Kristr was a fool to reject a woman of the world like Alfhilde.
Alfhilde continued on her rant, 'The apples do not fall far from the tree on the fjords. Like father, like son.' Kerik Halsrason had taken Aisling from MacRonan’s sire all those years ago. Her sister Gertrude had told her the whole tale. Just as Kerik had rejected her for Gertrude, now Kristr had rejected her for Roisin. She had taught Kristr all she knew. She had made him a man and now she would take all that was precious to him
MacRonan pinched his lips. 'You speak in riddles.' She shrugged. Obviously he did not know the full story of his mother. She would keep the information to herself for a little longer.  'Well, let me appraise you of the situation, Valkryie. That halfling thrall, as you call her, was my betrothed, and I want her back.' Roisin's value had doubled over that of what he had cheated Kristr Halsrason. He would be happy to sell her to Alfhilde, for the right price. For coin he would sell her to slavers in the warm lands in the south. 'However, I will need some payment and assurances from you. I might have at her when I bring her back, but after that, she can be yours.'
'Of course. This should pay you for both your trouble and my new bed-thrall for my fosterlings. Do with it as you see fit.' She threw a lump of metal, shiny and golden as it skidded across the table. A crushed torc necklace.


On hearing the commotion in the cooking hall, which was mostly Marthe's shrieking, Kerik dispatched Erik to investigate.  ‘Kristr, come with me, I see Knottr signalling.’  Kristr shaded his eyes from the sun and saw the quiet Knottr flipping a polished shield, the light flickering rapidly against the silhouette of his giant frame.
‘Knottr, what have you sighted?' Kristr called out to his companion.
'There is a boat arriving in the fjord, not a longship. More like a large Irish currach. Come and see.'
Squinting against the spring sun, Kristr could make out the boat, and at least one figure on it that he recognised. Turning to his father, he said, There will not be a need for battle, it is not foe this day. I shall have Gertrude prepare the ale, so that we may go and greet our guest.'
As Erik reached the kitchens he was nearly knocked over by Marthe, all arms, legs and unbound hair, throwing herself at him. 'Who is coming? Are they raiders?' He tutted at his sister's over-reaction. He did not know who came yet, but it was his duty to keep the womenfolk safe, and in Marthe's case, calm. 'Easy sister, you must cease with your Greek tragedies. I will not let any harm come to you.' Looking to Roisin and Ciara, clinging onto one another, he clucked soothingly in Gaelic. 'Shh, Ladies. Have no fear, it is only one boat and unlikely to be a raid.' He stroked Ciara's hair. He hoped that this one boat did not carry Patrick of Dun na Shee the one man who could take her from him, or Roisin from Kristr.
In a mimicry of their father Kristr's voice boomed through the kitchen. Reverting to his own tongue, he called to Erik telling him who was arriving, although Erik's wide smile did nothing to ease Roisin's worry, as he continued to play with the circlet entwined in Ciara's hair. She watched as Gertrude prepared a horn of ale, and left the kitchen, with Marthe following, now a docile lamb. Kristr finally smiled and kissed Roisin on the forehead, 'Sweetling, a guest has arrived at the steading, but I would much rather that yourself and Ciara stayed in my hall until the welcoming ceremony is complete.' Seeing her lip tremble, he continued, 'Nei, it is nothing to cause you worry, and I promise I will make introductions soon.'  Following him to his hall, she and Ciara went in, and sat down by the hearth, wondering who the guest could be.
The boat docked, and a tall man leapt out. 'Thor's teeth,' Kerik laughed as he grasped the man's forearms. 'You look like your sire in those Irish clothes! Come, partake of some ale, my sons are on their way!’
Gertrude came forward with the horn of their sweetest ale, and after he downed the cup, he gave her a deep bow, and she returned his gesture. 'It is a pleasure to see you here again, Johan O’Toole.'
O’Toole greeted Erik and Kerik like old friends. He had known both of them since the time Kristr and he had fostered at the Jarlshof with Alfhilde. He and Kristr had entered manhood as brothers, and the Halsrason family viewed him as one of their own.  Alfhilde was a sister of Gertrude, and there had been an uneasy truce between the family for years.  It had been accepted that the fosterage of Kristr had eased the rift.  From what he had learned in his guise of ‘Alfred of Northumberland’, a fortnight ago, he was not so sure that the peace held on the Jarlshof side.
Clapping Johan on the back Kerik's voice good-naturedly roared over the introductions. 'Come, let us go to my hall so that you may tell us of your travels and inform us of the activities of your other countrymen, your mother's people, whilst the womenfolk prepare the skause stew for natmal.'
Johan deferred to the older man, 'Of course Jarl Kerik. It has been one full moon since Kristr and Erik left, and I have a lot to tell since I last saw your sons,' he eyed Kristr and Erik with mirth, 'at a Donegal lough-side with their small Irish prizes.' He remembered how both men had reacted to the women they had taken hostage. If Erik had not taken Ciara as his concubine, Johan would quite happily eat a thorn bush. Kristr would have met his match in the spirited Roisin. The last time he saw her, she was screaming insults at them through her gagged mouth. Kristr did not seem too annoyed at his little joke, so perhaps the old Celtic god Sucellos and the Viking goddess Freja had met and made their match.
'How are Roisin and Ciara faring here?' Johan questioned, grinning as his friends looked at one another, sheepishly. 'They have woven their magic, haven't they?'
The silence was broken by Kerik's loud voice, 'Johan, you are my only boy who has not fallen for the charms of a maiden yet, and I hope your brains are not as addled as those of my sons!'
Settling in the hall at the hearth, a cask of ale was brought for the men. 'I bring news, and not all of it good.' He proceeded to tell the Halsrason men of his conversations with Conall of Dun na Shee, and the duplicity of MacRonan with the Donegal clan. He explained that Conall was yet another innocent party.  He had no idea that MacRonan was such an underhanded brigand, and was devastated at the loss of his daughters.
Although it was the information that Kristr was expecting, knowing that Roisin's father hurt as much as she did, did not ease his own pain.  If he were to lose Roisin now, it would destroy his life, and he felt great sympathy for Conall.
'I can assure you from my time with Conall that he has annulled any match made between MacRonan and his daughter. However, he does not have the silver to pay the ransom, and I made it clear to him that he should not arrive here without it.' Kristr's honour was still at stake, and Johan, like Kerik, knew this. 'He feels as if he has lost his daughter, and foster daughter for ever, but I believe he will try to negotiate with the other chieftains of Ulster.'
'However, that is not the main cause for your concern. MacRonan is determined to claim Roisin back, and he has a powerful ally. 'The three men looked at him expectantly. 'Alfhilde of the Jarlshof.' They did not need to know about the crushed necklace. 'I believe she wishes to buy Roisin from him, when he returns with her.'
Kristr stood up and threw his ale, horn and all into the hearth, the hissing and spitting of the liquid breaking the silence. 'I will kill him for this. He shall not make a slave of my woman, and then I will kill that half-troll Alfhilde.' Johan smiled to himself. Kristr was indeed smitten if he referred to her as 'his' woman.
Kerik interjected, 'Nei, son, do not let your temper interfere with your plans.' He looked at the angry faces of the younger men. 'There is much more to this story with MacRonan, as I believe there is more to your history as a foster child with Alfhilde.'  He would challenge Kristr on that matter in private, continuing, 'but we shall address one thing at a time, and the safety of Roisin and Ciara is your first concern.'


There was a knock at the hall door as Kristr announced himself loudly. When Roisin recognised Johan, her mind flashed back to that fateful day.  Crying out in shock, she tried run away. Kristr gently reached for her arm, and held her back, 'Easy, sweetling,' he crooned, 'I told you all will be well. This is a foster brother of mine, Johan O’Toole. You were very frightened the last time you saw him, I know. But he will never cause you harm.' He stroked her shoulder and ran his hand down her braid as she continued to shake quietly, but she did not try to flee.
Johan kept his distance, but addressed her in Gaelic, 'Roisin, I am proud to make your acquaintance. Ciara was just awakening from a faint when I saw her for the first time, and I am pleased to meet her too.' He gave a small bow in her direction, and she returned a small smile, before curling up into Erik's arms. Johan could see for himself how his brothers had fallen in love, and it would also be his responsibility now to help them keep these young women safe.

Roisin had left the natmal early, before the arrival of the skalds, feigning tiredness, but she really wanted to be with her own thoughts. Earlier today she was convinced her father had come to bring her ransom, or that MacRonan had come to claim her. She did not want to think that she was just worth silver to Kristr, she hoped what they shared went beyond the value of a precious metal. Her emotions were as scattered as the stars in the sky. She wanted to see her father, but to leave Kristr now would leave a hole in her heart.
Her mind drifted from the earlier anxiety of the day, from Johan's arrival back to her earlier lovemaking with Kristr.  She recalled his stance that morning; naked, proud, unashamed and erect. Her hand drifted over her navel towards her soft mound of curls, her fingers exploring and opening for the first time the blossom that Kristr had kissed and adored the previous eve. She started to play with her breasts, teasing her nipples to life, as they became firm and peaked under her nervous novice hand. Biting her lip as she lost herself in her thoughts and the sensations that Kristr had unlocked, exploring her own body as he had done, she felt the tightening in her womb and the glorious build of tension in her core.
She heard a swish of curtain and her eyes flew open. She tried to speak but had lost her voice, as Kristr looked down at her, his grey eyes almost black with desire. 'Do not bite that lip, you know what it does to me.'
Her voice was husky with longing, 'Kristr, I, I... 'He pulled the fur from her body as he eyed her fingers, slick with her own juices. He knelt on the bed between her parted thighs, his knees barely touching her warm folds, and raising her hand to his mouth started to lick and suck her sweet nectar from her hand, nibbling on her soft skin in appreciation, as she tried to tug her hand free of his lips.
'Oh no, Roisin, you taste too sweet to me, and I have not had my fill of you yet.' She tried to squirm away in embarrassment, but he held her wrist firm in his grasp, and holding it above her head brought her other arm up to join it, one hand easily holding both slim wrists. 'Now, are you going to stay still whilst you let me bestow love play upon you, or will I have to bind you as my love captive for the duration of the evening? ' She panted with want, she had been so close to her own release, and writhed below him, trying to get purchase for her tender bud against his legs. 'Ohh, no, my greedy little sweetling, I want this to last all night.' He reached onto the wooden chest, and grabbed the soft woollen girdle rope of her dress.  She moaned with desire as his weight shifted from above her body, and he deftly tied her wrists, ensuring that she was still able to move without the bindings chafing her tender skin.
He pressed the palm of his hand over her mons, twisting his fingers gently in the light brown curls, exploring the soft hair, and the sensitive petals below. His mouth hungrily sought hers. She could taste her own honey on his tongue as he caressed her mouth, nipping at her lips, claiming her as his. She was his, as she surrendered to his touches, his kisses, his embraces, her shoulders, breasts, waist and hips tingling as he grazed lightly over her skin, barely breathing; alternating it with passionate worshiping of her creamy flesh. His hand was now exploring where hers had been, his expert touch causing her tension and heat to rise again, she began to cry out his name in ecstasy, her body quivering in unbridled passion as she felt her warm sweetness flow.
She barely felt him undoing the bonds as he knelt on the bed before her, his shaft hard, a gentle sheen at the tip. Flushed from her own release, she slid her hands around his neck and drew him towards her, welcoming him, wanting him to enter so they could be again as one. She moaned softly as he entered her, her body adjusting to his size. Slowly he moved at first, savouring her satiny warmth, her precious gift to him. Looking into her deep blue eyes, he saw everything he wanted; a lover, a mate, a united life.
'I love you, Roisin,' he whispered as he gave a final thrust, his head collapsing onto her shoulder, kissing her neck.
'And I you, Kristr.' She closed her eyes, and dreaded the thought of the next boat that may arrive in the fjord.  Her father would sent her to a convent and Kristr to Hel.

Thanks go to:  E. Paterson for the Viking painting & GR Bush  for 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.

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


  1. Another great chapter! I hope there are MANY more to come. I'm not ready for it to come to an end just yet ;)

  2. Hi Ava, thank you so much for hosting me, I've had so much fun with it


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