Authors: Violetta Rand
Tags: #Historical, #Viking, #Fiction, #Romance
Viking’s Fury Book 1
Copyright © 2016 by Violetta Rand
Published by Dragonblade Publishing, an imprint of Kathryn Le Veque Novels, Inc
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
To Jeff—my love and best friend.
Our Valhalla is never far away.
And to Simon, the greatest Schnauzer and companion in the world.
I wish to thank Kathryn Le Veque for believing in this story and me.
Star Montgomery, you are forever in my heart.
I have the greatest street team, Violetta’s Valkyries. Thank you for all the love and support.
Sue-Ellen Welfonder, my fairy book godmother, hugs and kisses for all your help and encouragement.
March 867 A.D.
ilvia clutched a
dozen scrolls to her chest as she raced through the scriptorium searching for somewhere to hide. She covered her mouth and coughed violently. Smoke filled every corner, diminishing the afternoon sunlight that typically filled the high-ceilinged room. Shelf after shelf of manuscripts had been obliterated by the steel axes these heathen occupiers hefted.
She halted. A man-beast of mythological proportions stood nearby, his attention focused on the table before him. The place where the monks passed their long days studying.
“No!” She couldn’t remain silent—couldn’t stop herself from screaming as he tipped the torch he held, the loose parchments providing the kindling the flames needed to spread.
She clung more desperately to her precious cargo, texts her father specifically requested she grab before he was cut down. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, stifling tears that threatened to spill, ones she’d held back so she could think clearly. But nothing helped now. How could she keep the harrowing memory of her sire’s death out of her head? The answer came as goosebumps crept up her flesh like a cold wind.
She felt the weight of the intruder’s stare and opened her eyes. Had the heathen heard her yell? Or was he simply in search of something else to burn?
“Jeg er glad for å se at det er mer enn bøker i denne forlatt stedet.”
His words were not lost on her. Her father had taught her enough Norse to communicate with the filthy invaders. This was no Dane, but a Norwegian. The bloody animal dared to humor himself whilst devastating her home.
Brenn i helvete
,” she cursed him.
Burn in hell.
He laughed riotously, then turned his attention back to the room.
He obviously underestimated the threat of a woman. Panic gripped her heart, but she had to remain focused. The secret tunnel running along the north wall came to mind. If she could reach it … her gaze searched for a clear route. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see three feet in front of her. Nor did she know how many men were still inside. Her greatest chance of survival depended on getting out,
Silvia ran for the main entrance. She’d spent a happy childhood here—growing up exploring the buildings while her father worked. If the fire wasn’t extinguished, all would be reduced to pile of smoldering rubble. A part of her soul was dying, consumed by the same flames destroying the only scriptorium in the north.
Outside, conditions weren’t much better. Bodies littered the ground. Saxons—men of honor who risked their lives to reclaim their city were dead or dying. It was too late, in any case, to fight. Now mere survival would have to do. Amidst the agonizing screams and sounds of clashing metal, she hunted frantically for a place to stash the scrolls. Somewhere no one would look.
The ancient cemetery came into view. Who disturbed the dead when a city was under siege? She knew she’d done everything possible to help her father. Fulfilling his last request was all she had left to give him.
By some miracle, there was a half-dug grave nearby. It hadn’t rained in days and the soil was dry. There was time to retrieve the scrolls later. She reverently laid them on the ground, unpinned her thin cloak, then knelt, wrapping the delicate papers in her mantle. Her heart pounded as she placed the bundle in the earth, then spread loose soil over it.
Satisfied they were safe, she scrambled to her feet, noting her exact location. God would lead her back here if she forgot. And if he didn’t, she’d sacrifice her life trying to find it. But what now? The sanctuary appeared unharmed.
If the Vikings weren’t trying to purge the northlands of holy sites, why were they targeting just the repository?
She didn’t understand.
The sounds of battle grew louder…
She must find shelter. The cottage she had shared with her father was on the edge of the extensive church grounds, nearly a mile away. Vikings left nothing unsearched, no one alive—no woman untouched.
The deep voice cut through her like a blade and she didn’t move. She should have never let her mind wander. Something sharp and hard stabbed her in the back.
“I accept your invitation.”
Accept her invitation?
She gasped upon remembering where she’d told him to go.
Legs as heavy as lead, she did as he demanded, dreading the moment she’d see him clearly. In the smoke filled scriptorium, he had been little more than a nightmarish shadow. But in the light, truth hit her harder than anything. Despite the soot and ash covering his face, nothing could mask his exquisite features. Full lips—high cheek bones—a straight nose. Bronzed skin. His stark blue eyes impossible to avoid. And his hair, long and dark with coppery streaks. If she didn’t stop staring, he’d misinterpret her intention, possibly rape her. Silvia tried to avert her eyes.
His axe rested against his left leg. She swallowed hard, overwhelmed by the magnitude of his presence. When he pointed across the field, toward the courtyard, she shook her head, adamantly refusing to go anywhere with him. “I’d rather die than follow you.”
He growled, grabbing the top of her gown, her refusal obviously igniting his anger. The garment ripped, exposing her flesh. He gazed at her hungrily, a wicked grin splitting his face. Then his hands were on her arms, his filthy fingers digging into her skin as he shook her into submission. “Fail to obey me again and I’ll strip you.” He let go, shoving her backward.
She stumbled but didn’t fall. If he wanted her dead, she’d be dead. If he wanted to ravish her, she would have been flailing helplessly on the ground already with her skirt hiked over her waist. Hatred flowed as freely inside her as blood. But she didn’t know how to take his lack of violence.
He again pointed in the direction he wanted her to go. “Walk.”
Head held high, Silvia remembered the lessons her father had painstakingly taught her over the years. Hard lessons meant for people who lived in occupied lands. Her father had said subjugation doesn’t mean you must abandon pride. Christ instructed slaves to love their masters. She gritted her teeth. She’d never love a blasted Viking.
A crowd had gathered beyond the courtyard, Danes and Saxons surrounded dozens of men who were on their knees with their hands bound behind their backs. Silvia stopped short of the throng, embittered by what she knew was about to happen. Her captor gave her a little push.
“I’ll tell you when to stop,” he growled.
For a moment she feared she’d be forced to kneel, too. Her thoughts scattered the moment people parted and a man she well recognized, Ivarr the Boneless, son of the late king Ragnar Lothbrok, entered the circle leaning on a soldier. Battle worn and covered in dried blood, he resembled the depictions of malignant spirits in the books Silvia thumbed through in the scriptorium.
Then a sickening chant rose amongst the Vikings. “
Vi som er krigere av Odin og hans lov. Be om hjelp og har tro på ham. Med ham er vi seir.”
They dared summon Odin while standing on consecrated ground. She whispered the verse, committing it to memory so one day she could write it down. Another important skill her father had imparted—how to write in order to keep historic records. “We who are warriors of Odin and his law. Pray for help and have faith in him. With him we are victorious.”
Ivarr scanned the horde, his gaze stopping on Silvia. She shifted nervously, unable to take a full breath with his eyes on her.
“Konal,” the prince greeted.
Konal’s fingers snaked around her elbow. He pulled her along as he stepped forward. “Everything you asked has been done, milord.”
Ivarr smiled. “I never doubted you.” He regarded Silvia. “Is this what you claim as your reward?”
Silvia flinched when Konal squeezed her arse. God help her, this is what she feared most. The Viking intended to make her a
. Anger pulsed through her. She’d slit her wrists first. Or disembowel him while he slept and escape. She was freeborn, the daughter of a respected scholar, not a lowborn foreigner. She pressed her lips into a tight line in an attempt to hide her emotions.
“There’s enough padding to please me.”
Padding? She choked back a sour laugh. There was hardly enough loose skin on her arse to pinch herself with, much less to please a bloody barbarian in bed. Oh, she knew clearly what this was all about. Growing up in a monastery offered many benefits, but it also came with a heavy price: limitless knowledge. Silvia had access to manuscripts—not all of them religious in nature. What literature the church disapproved of and confiscated often ended up in the scriptorium for monks to review. And she’d taken advantage of it, sneaking forbidden texts home where she read every word.
The prince raised his eyebrows. “Then before these witnesses,” he started, “I give you … what is the
Konal poked her in the ribs. “Answer.”
Although she’d never stood amongst so many strangers before, Silvia abandoned her civility. The Saxons kneeling at Ivarr’s feet were going to be executed—they deserved to hear their kinswoman curse this murdering swine. “I pray your limbs wither, your manhood rots off, your daughters are sold into slavery, and your wife sleeps in another man’s bed…”
Before Silvia closed her mouth, Konal twisted her around. His steely eyes terrified her as he squeezed her cheeks so tight she resembled a fish. Now she’d surely follow her brethren into heaven.
“This girl has cursed my manhood and honor.” Ivarr broke the silence. His deep-bellied laughter inspired his men to react similarly.
She’d never meant to entertain, but to offend. To shame. The only one who appeared insulted was Konal.
“You’ve accepted a larger portion than you anticipated. Perhaps you want something softer to nibble on, Konal?” Ivarr’s green eyes danced.
“I’ll give her something to chew on,” Konal shot back. “Something to…”
Ivarr raised his hand. “Be at ease brother—she’s afraid. Let her stay and witness what happens to people who betray me. It will be punishment enough for her spiteful tongue.”
Konal nodded, then released her on a huff. The prince’s tranquil features darkened in seconds. The time for friendly banter was over and there was nothing she could do to save her kinsmen,
. The Danes were growing restless. She searched the crowd for anyone she knew. What a sad sight watching her people cower in silence. Tears stung her eyes.
God forgive her … Lord save these innocent men.
A loud murmur spread through the crowd as several soldiers repositioned the prisoners. The inevitable time had arrived. Silvia surged forward, hoping to reach them—to pray over them—to offer sympathy and praise for their bravery—something, anything. But Konal stopped her. His strong arm hooked her from behind, then yanked her against his inflexible body. He nuzzled her neck; his hot breath scorched her skin. She wanted to curl up and die.
“Your mind is no longer your own. You belong to me. Understand?” he hissed against her left ear. “Do not move unless I give you permission. Don’t think without my approval.”