CHAPTER I: Freyrland
Few now live who remember these tales so pen must be set to page...
Freyrland was not a single island but a group of closely grouped narrow isles that running from northeast to southwest resembled a giant fishing hook. Named after the Norse god of fertility Freyrland was a lush land heavily covered in cedar forests that were one of the reasons Westgarders had first been drawn to settle the isles. The other reason that Freyrland had been settled a century before was that the isles were situated to be the perfect waypoint when sailing between Westgarde and Antilia or Antilia and Europe.
In the Christian year 1220 Freyrland was a thriving independent jarldom ruled by Eldric Eight Fingers. Populated by a mix of Westgarder and Antilian settlers the Jarldom of Freyrland was a wealthy center of trade and shipbuilding that's chief town Freyrgard was built along a peninsula of land on the biggest isle situated across from the isle that made the tip of the isles' fishhook. Freyrgard was a bustling port and shipyard built from the native cedar trees and defended by wooden walls of the same material atop earthen ramparts.
Fortified during the Pirate Wars to defend the town from raids by the Norse pirates that the alliance of Freyrland, Stoneshoreland and Antilia had fought against Freyrgard was strongly defended and it's citizens vigilant. So the approach of a fleet of twenty seven ships did not go unnoticed. However since those ships flew the flag of Stoneshoreland that was ruled by Eldric's brother, Jarvik the Bold the fleet's approach did not raise a panic in the town.
The ships of that fleet were great knorrs. Those sturdy vessels were the bastard children of Triple Realm cogs and older Norse cargo ships called knorrs. Shorter and narrower than cogs great knorrs were double masted to sail with greater speed and built with an aftcastle from which the ships were commanded, navigated and defended.
Designed to sail the wide seas between Westgarde, Antilia and Europe great knorrs were swift rugged cargo vessels that could be used as warships as well. The great knorrs of that fleet were transports loaded with thirteen hundred warriors from Stoneshoreland hundreds of leagues to the north that Jarvik the Bold had given to Carine Ariansdaughter, Princess of the Triple Realm to aid her father Canute V in his war with the crusaders of the Roman Church. Which that war had finally broken out and upon receiving that news Princess Carine had sailed for Freyrland to gather more allies.
The princess' mission to gather allies for the Triple Realm had taken far longer than she originally planned. She had sailed from England the previous autumn but had been captured and enslaved by the sorceress of the Misted Isle for months before being rescued by her teacher Fym and Gadifriald Lokkasson leading a force of Stoneshorelander warriors. More months had passed since Cari's rescue and by the time the fleet was making it's careful way through the reef filled great natural harbor of Freyrgard it was early summer.
So the weather was rather warm and as she stood on the aftcastle of the lead ship of the fleet Cari understood the Antilian styles she had taken to wearing. Carine was a very tall girl at two inches short of six feet and a very beautiful girl with golden hair that tumbled to her rump, skin pale as freshly fallen snow and soft as silk, a goddess' face and lovely, dark lash framed green eyes. Slender with youth yet rounded into womanhood the princess shamelessly wore a short wispy tunic of colorless transparent silk that did nothing to hide her full pink nippled breasts, hairless sex, smooth belly and elegant back. It also showed off her long slender legs and was belted with a woven gold belt that accentuated her shapely hips and buttocks and tiny waist.
Several years from being twenty Carine Ariansdaughter was rather young but very intelligent, willful as any princess in history and highly trained in magic and statecraft. Born, raised and trained to rule she had been tempered by slavery which had stripped away her innocence and worked her wild willful nature into a fine edge of iron will. Cari was half otherfolk and her time as a slave had also released her immortal mother's wild carnal nature in her and left her without much shame.
Standing nearly nude and barefoot on the rolling deck of the ship with her unbound golden tresses blowing in the wind and the sun glinting off her golden belt and the enchanted silver collar about her neck the ethereally beautiful princess luxuriated in the feel of the elements on her body and face. She had her eyes closed but could feel the lustful gazes of the men around her upon her as she concentrated on manipulating the magical wind that carried the fleet with ancient words of magic that the wizard Fym had recently taught her. Which Fym and her conjuring and controlling winds for the fleet had greatly hastened the voyage south form Stoneshoreland in Westgarde.
"Perfect my girl," Fym said in his aged yet strong voice, then told her, "Leave the wind at that strength for now."
Cari nodded and with her eyes still closed did as he instructed. As the girl completed her adjustment of the powerful spell controlling the wind that filled her fleet's sails the captain and other men who watched her with both lust and awe murmured in wonder at the magic she could work. Being half otherfolk Cari's life force was far beyond that of a normal human and that gave her the ability to work magics that would kill a mortal woman.
It also gave the princess beauty beyond that of a mortal woman and as she opened her eyes she saw Fym running his eyes over her body as he said, "That light wind should carry our ships into Freyrgard nicely."
Fym or Fymbulthuler was an ancient wizard of the otherfolk who was the wise old man of Norse mythology. He was shorter than Cari and looked like a mad sacred hermit dressed in a rough gray wool robe and bearskin boots with his carved yew wood staff held in gnarled yet strong hands. Fym's long wispy white hair and long white beard blew in the wind and his wrinkled face was split in a smile and his storm grey eyes were filled with a mixture of pride and lust as he looked upon his pupil.
The wizard was wise, ancient and powerful in the ways of magic. He had been Cari's teacher for over three years in magic and many other things and once he had been like a grandfather to her. However a number of weeks before Fym had revealed his true nature and looking not old at all had seduced the girl to teach her about her otherfolk nature. So the dynamic of their relationship was not what it once had been.
"It will be nice to be on solid land once again," the princess declared in her regal yet youthful voice as she shifted her gaze from the ogling Fym to the sight of Freyrgard growing in the distance out over the ship's bow. "This has been a very long voyage."
"Not an unpleasant one for you though," the old wizard observed.
"True," Cari agreed with a smile and looked down from the town out over the bow to the reason she was smiling who stood in the bow of Odin's Wind.
Clad in a white linen shirt and black doeskin trousers Gadifriald Lokkasson stood gazing out over the sea and at the sight of him Cari's heart beat faster and her belly got all tingly. The tall black haired warrior was her lover and had helped lead her rescue, given her joy through his kindness when she had been enslaved and had taught her the joys of lovemaking with his passion. He was also her master since she had seduced him into speaking the words on the magical collar the sorceress Mengia had placed about her neck to enslave her.
Which the thought that those words had given Gadifriald total power over her when he wanted made Cari shiver in delight and remember how she and her lover had spent much of the voyage in their cabin exploring carnal pleasures both light and dark. She was very glad Gadi had agreed to command the force Jarvik the Bold had given her as his part of their alliance for without him along it would have been most likely a dreadfully boring voyage.
"I think I will go see what Gadi is looking at," Cari said and with a nod to Fym she padded off across the deck of Odin's Wind leaving Fym smiling amusedly behind her.
Gadifriald Lokkasson always preferred to spend as much time as possible in the bow of a ship when he was sailing. It was a habit from his childhood when he had served as his grandfather's lookout when they had sailed the waters around Northholm in Stoneshoreland. The son of Lokka's piercing blue eyes were very keen so he had continued the habit into adulthood and now watched for reefs in the treacherous bay of Freyrland.
Gadi was a tall young man who stood a solid three inches over six feet and was broad of shoulder, lean of build and long of limb. His long black hair and lightly dark skin marked his quarter Skraeling ancestry and his height showed his Westgarde Norse heritage. The young warrior's handsome, clean shaven face showed a hardness that came from experience rather than heritage which seemed to grow with each harrowing deed he completed.
Still short of his twentieth year Gadi was the bastard son of the famed hero Lokka Longstridesson by the half Skraeling lady of Northholm. He was the heir to his grandfather Jarvik of Stoneshoreland, heir to his uncle Eldric of Freyrland as well and heir to his father's mantle as a great hero. Trained in the ways of war, ruling, magic and just about everything else necessary to assume those mantles Gadi had started down the path of a hero but thankfully his grandfather and uncle still lived.
Often moody and brooding by nature Gadi was still not sure he wanted to be a hero, but life seemed to give him no choice. So with the intelligence he had inherited from his mother and grandfather the young man had decided to embrace the role that life and everyone around him seemed dead determined to push him into. Though so far his leading of the rescue of Princess Carine, killing of Tamloff Karlsson in a duel and slaying the Great Bear of Stoneshoreland had not left him feeling overly heroic.
However there were rewards to being a hero and the greatest reward possible slipped almost silently up beside the young Westgarder to take a hold of one of his big hands with both her soft, slim hands. Gadi smiled and spared a glance from the sea at the girl holding his hand and his smile grew even wider. Carine Ariansdaughter smiled back at him and with his heart hammering he quickly became lost in the mysterious green eyes of the beautiful young woman he had fallen in love with.
"What are you looking at?" the princess asked curiously, squeezing his hand.
"At the moment, you," Gadi replied with a grin. "But before that I was watching for reefs for the captain so we don't tear the ship's belly out on one," he said.
Cari gave him a warm look through her lashes for his first words and about his second words said, "That sounds like an important task."
"It is," Gadi agreed and with a supreme effort tore his gaze from hers to resume scanning the deceptively placid green waters of the bay. "Which I'd best keep my eyes on that task."
The blonde girl snuggled close so that her silk clad breasts pressed against his arm. "I could watch for reefs for you while you watch me," she proposed playfully.
The young warrior laughed and asked, "Do you know what to look for?"
"No," Cari admitted with a giggle and said, "But I do like the idea of you gazing at me raptly."
"I enjoy gazing at you raptly, however I don't enjoy the ship I'm on sinking," Gadi said with a smile.
Cari made a thoughtful sound. "Well if I missed a reef while I was watching for you while you gazed at me raptly and the ship sank you could beat me," she told him.
Gadi shot her a wry look. "You'd probably let the ship sink on purpose just so I would beat you," he pointed out.
"I probably would," the princess stated and giggled a wicked little giggle.
Truth was the girl who was his lover and very willing slave delighted in a good beating. That very morning Cari had howled and writhed under the lashes of his belt and had been so aroused she climaxed upon being entered when Gadi had taken her afterward. Cari could be amazingly wild and wonderfully wanton and even took a dark delight in the fact he could control her every action if he so chose because she had wiled him into speaking the words upon her collar in a moment of passion.
Of course Gadi enjoyed having the most beautiful girl he had ever seen at his command. Yet he was careful in how he spoke to her because he wanted Cari to have her own free will as much as possible.
"You know you're a very wicked girl at times," Gadi told her.
"I know," the girl admitted freely. "And I'm also a total slut, a wanton whore and an eager slave. Strange for a princess aren't I?" she asked.
"You are wonderfully strange for any kind of person," the young man declared fondly.
Cari laughed a soft laugh before saying, "I blame it on the otherfolk side of me."
"I like the otherfolk side of you," Gadi informed her with a wink.
"Do you like the rest of me?" Cari wanted to know, suddenly serious and sounding vulnerable.
The son of Lokka lifted her hands to his mouth and kissed them. "Carine Ariansdaughter I love all of you," he said simply and honestly.
"Good, because I love you," the princess purred, laying her head on his shoulder and falling into a happy silence the two watched the sea for reefs together as Odin's Wind sailed ever closer to Freyrgard.
The Stoneshorelander fleet made it safely into the actual harbor of Freyrgard and set about disembarking the troops the ships carried. While that was taking place Cari headed to the cabin she shared with Gadi to change into more formal attire. Which her young female Mikmaq bodyslave Cana had removed her golden belt and wispy tunic and gone to retrieve an ivory comb to tame the princess' wild hair when Gadi entered their cabin.
Cari could see her lover's reflection in the tall hammered silver mirror she stood before and how his eyes widened at the sight of her nude brought a small smile to her lips. The raw desire in Gadi's eyes made her nipples harden and her belly quiver with desire of her own and that there was love in his gaze that drank her in hungrily warmed her heart. Many men looked upon her with desire but only Gadifriald Lokkasson looked upon her with that warm deep love in his eyes with that little lopsided smile on his face.
"Like what you see?" the princess asked Gadi coyly over one slim shoulder.
Gadi nodded and his smile spread into a grin. "Yes I do," he replied. "Though I'm not sure I like the idea of my uncle having you tonight instead of me."
"Jealous?" the blonde girl want to know.
"I have no right to be," Gadi said with a shrug of his big shoulders.
Cari turned to face him wearing nothing but an arch look and her collar. "You didn't answer my question," she pointed out.
"No, I did not," the tall young warrior agreed as he stepped across the cabin and took her small waist in his big hands.
His touch sent a thrill through the girl and when he stifled her next words with a long kiss that sent an even bigger thrill through her young body. So Cari kissed Gadi back while waving Cana who still held the comb away with one hand as she tangled her other in her lover's hair. Then he drew her to him by her waist and the princess forgot all about the young slave and getting dressed under Gadi's heated kisses and caressing hands.
Gadi's touch was like welcome fire on Cari's heated skin as their tongues met in a dance of lust. The young princess had both her hands tangled in Gadi's hair and devoured his mouth as eagerly as he devoured hers while his hands lit infernos upon her flesh as they moved over her hips, buttocks, back, shoulders, breasts, belly and thighs. By the time one of the young man's hands stroked her between her legs Cari was burning like a pyre but was wet as a waterfall.
Wrapping her arms around Gadi's neck the girl pulled her mouth from his to call out her pleasure when his skilled fingers brought her to fulfillment. Then Cari gasped in delighted surprise when her lover pulled her arms from about his neck and pushed her onto her back on their narrow bed. The young girl's gasp was even louder when still clothed but with his manhood free Gadi covered her body with his and filled her heated channel.
Not caring that Cana watched giggling the Princess of the Triple Realm wrapped her arms around the young man's neck and panting, "Harder! Harder! Harder!" moved with him with her legs tight about his hips as he took her with a lust that made her head spin.
Afterward Cari held Gadi tight to her and the young lovers shared heated kisses as they lay together in the afterglow of their lovemaking. "You know you never did answer my question," the princess giggled between long kisses.
"You are right, I didn't" Gadi said with a smile, gazing down into her eyes with love and sated lust.
Cari gave him an arch little smile. "You aren't going to either," she stated.
Gadi chuckled and shook his head. "No, I'm not," he told her, then he was kissing her and Cari forgot all about the question.
The ships of the fleet landed all of the warriors and passengers they carried and most of their crews as well. The five hundred Stoneshorelander housecarls, like number of Mikmaq warriors, three hundred former Misted Isle pirates who had taken service with Jarvik the Bold because they considered Gadi their war leader and several hundred ships crew all together numbered about two thirds the population of Freyrgard, so a camp had to be made outside the town walls. However Gadi, Cari and Fym left oversight of that under the charge of Cechen, chief of the Longfinger Mikmaq and others while they made their way to Eldric's palace.
Freyrgard was the chief town of the jarldom but is was not Eldric's seat of power. Freyrland was ruled from a palace atop a hill some five miles northeast of Freyrgard. Eldric's palace was a massive structure of wood built in the open center courtyard rectangular Antilian style, was two storeys tall and was surrounded by a circular defensive ditch and a tall earthen berm topped with wooden palisades. The palace was close to a sandy beach just north of it and had it's own small harbor but Gadi had chosen to put the fleet in at Freyrgard for logistical reasons.
So it was a bit of a ride he, the princess and the wizard made on horses bought in the town escorted by thirty of his grandfather's housecarls and accompanied by a few slaves. They had brought one horse with them though. A savage fighting stallion from Westgarde that Cari had purchased as a gift for Eldric Eight Fingers and Fym had cured of the effects of the voyage with his magic.
When that roan stallion was presented to the Jarl of Freyrland by the Princess of the Triple Realm clad in a clinging gown of nearly transparent pink silk with her golden hair in a single long braid Gadi's uncle was delighted. Though whether Eldric was more delighted by the horse or girl presenting it Gadi was not sure. However he was sure that from the look in his eyes his uncle was going to claim a guest night with Cari and the thought of his lover in Eldric's bed sent a pang of jealousy through the young warrior.
Eldric Eight Fingers was not so tall as his nephew at six feet but was built heavier with a thick torso and heavy limbs. The jarl was over sixty years of age with hair and beard gone grey, yet he still had strength in his powerful body and his grey blue eyes were shrewd, showing a mind still keen. Dressed in a blue silk tunic and black doeskin trousers Eldric kept the thumb of his left hand tuck into the silver buckled, wide leather belt he wore as he inspected the fighting stallion and princess and the missing middle two fingers of that hand was what gave the jarl his moniker of Eight Fingers.
Despite his jealousy Cari and Eldric did not hold Gadi's attention long for his gaze was drawn to another. Come to greet the arrivals with the jarl was a tall girl clad in an Antilian gown of thin white cotton that left her sleekly muscled shoulders and arms bare and clung to her slender shapely body to show off her full breasts and rounded hips . She stood a hand or so under six feet with waist length wavy dark brown hair that tumbled loose over her bare shoulders, silken skin browned by the sun and piercing blue eyes framed by dark lashes in a face that had an almost stern beauty.
Rosalia of Antilia was Eldric's granddaughter by his half Antilian daughter Carisha who had married the Consul of Antilia. Just twenty she was the heir to the Consul of Antilia, a warrior of great skill and was both Gadi's cousin and his wife to be. Their marriage had been arranged years before to strengthen the alliance between Antilia, Freyrland and Stoneshoreland and to unite the bloodlines of Eldric and Jarvik and neither of them had ever been adverse to the idea.
"Hello Gadifriald," Rosa as she was known greeted him in Antilian Latin rather than his native Anglo-Norse in a low, softly feminine voice.
Moving forward at a sultry, almost strutting sway the girl slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him warmly on the corner of the mouth.
Gadi embraced his cousin tightly, his hands on her smooth back her gown left bare. "Hello Rosa," he said and smiled at her.
Rosa smiled back and nodded subtly toward Cari. "Have I been replaced by a Triple Realm princess?" she asked.
"Rosa I..." the young man started but Rosa's wickedly amused laugh cut him off before she told him, "I just had to do that Gadi!"
Gadi gave the girl a hard look that made her laugh even harder. "Shouldn't you be in Antilia?" he wanted to know.
"Not happy to see me?" Rosa want to know with a wicked gleam in her blue eyes.
"Stop that!" Gadi said, laughing as the two of them shared a long affectionate hug. "I've missed you Rosa," he told her.
"I've missed you Gadi," the Antilian girl replied warmly.
Stroking Rosa's flowing mane of dark hair the young warrior asked, "But what does bring you to Freyrland?"
Rosa's smile faded and her eyes grew serious as she looked up at him. "War," was her answer, before in a troubled voice she explained, "Antilia has been invaded and I've come to my grandfather seeking aid."