Read The Extremely Epic Viking Tale of Yondersaay Online

Authors: Aoife Lennon-Ritchie

Tags: #Vikings, #fantasy, #Denmark, #siblings, #action-adventure, #holidays, #Christmas, #grandparents, #fairy tale, #winter

The Extremely Epic Viking Tale of Yondersaay (8 page)

BOOK: The Extremely Epic Viking Tale of Yondersaay
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“Meat is murder! You’re a
murderer
!” she shouted viciously at Granny as she stepped across the picket line. “You may as well have slit the cow’s throat yourself—” She paused, and her face cracked into a big grin. Her shoulders relaxed, and she became positively sweet. “Granny Miller! Is that you? I didn’t recognize you for a minute there! You’re looking fierce well. How are you? Lovely day, isn’t it?”

Granny squinted at the protester. “Little Alice Cogle! I don’t believe it. It must be years! Well, how are you? You know you haven’t changed a bit.”

Alice blushed and said that Granny Miller was very kind to say so. “I’m the best—doing very well.”

“And you’re doing this now, Alice,” Granny said as she looked around uncertainly at the posters and placards on the ground. “How are you finding it?”

“Well, the hours are good, you know, nine to five, which suits me down to the ground. And you? Are you back for the Christmas, is it?” Alice Cogle asked.

Dani and Ruairi wandered on up the street toward the bakery, which was just a few doors down from the butcher’s shop. They went quickly and didn’t even glance in the window of the new boutique in case Mum noticed it and decided she wanted to go in for a browse.

“Exactly right. I’m here with the family for the few days,” Granny was saying to Alice Cogle as Ruairi turned the handle on the bakery door. “I have to say it’s lovely to be home at this time of year.”

“Of course! It’s usually for the summer we have you,” Alice said.

“That’s right. And have you stopped doing part-time work for Eoin Lerwick at the greengrocer’s?” Granny asked.

Granny Miller and Alice Cogle’s muffled conversation carried into the bakery a few minutes later when the door opened for Mum, who had stopped to look in the window of the new boutique. “That’s odd!” Granny Miller said, as the door swung closed.

Ruairi barely heard it, because as soon as he set foot inside the door his attention was utterly, wholly, and absolutely taken over by the delicious tarts and cakes and buns in front of them. Both he and Dani were suddenly
starving
. The shop was three times the size it was the last time they were here on their summer holidays two and a half years earlier. There were café tables now and an espresso machine on one of the counters. Mum sat down and ordered a coffee, and two hot chocolates for Dani and Ruairi. She said they could have one thing each. Ruairi hadn’t the slightest idea how he would ever come to a decision.

 

 

 

 

You would never know by looking at him that Lewis MacAvinney wasn’t just the man who stood behind the counter at the bakery. He also had a medical degree and two PhDs: one in romantic literature, the other in astrophysics.

“It is my understanding,” Granny had once told Mum, “that when he goes to Germany, they have to call him Herr Doctor Doctor Doctor MacAvinney.”

“That could get exhausting after a while,” Mum had said.

“He’s rich too but still as sweet and kind now, as a multimillionaire Doctor Doctor Doctor, as he was when he was the best in his troop of Cub Scouts at helping old people cross the street,” Granny had explained.

“He would have gotten plenty of practice at that on Yondersaay. Everyone here is
ancient
,” Dani had muttered to Ruairi, who burst out laughing.

“Lewis holds patents for a hundred different inventions,” Granny went on “mostly in the astrophysics field. All the same, you can’t keep a Yondersaay boy away from home for long. You know, he’s constantly developing new and interesting cakes and breads for the shop. I’m not sure any of them have worked as planned so far, but I love it when he tries them out on me.

“Last I heard, he was working on a raspberry shortcake that sticks its tongue out at you; a coconut crumble that lifts itself up into the shape of a hula dancer, and sings, “Tallulah does the hula in Hawaii,” and crumbles into a pile on the plate. The Current Bun™ with its caffeine-free jolt of energy gives you a little electric shock – I recommend you avoid that one. My favourites are the French sticks that are rude to you, and the “wry” bread that makes droll witticisms about the state of the economy or the shape of your nose.”

Lewis came over to the Millers’ table with his notebook. “What can I get for you, Granny Miller?” Ruairi liked his voice, it was quiet and kind sounding, and Ruairi saw he made Granny instantly relaxed. Granny tumbled into a heap in a giant armchair and ordered a pot of tea and a raspberry shortcake. When Lewis handed the raspberry shortcake to Granny, he stood and watched it for a minute. It didn’t stick its tongue out at her. Lewis MacAvinney gave a little sigh, and made a note in his notebook.

Mum hadn’t ordered anything to eat, so Lewis brought her over a plate with samples of about ten different cakes.

“How come she gets all of that?” Ruairi asked, looking from his limp pain au chocolat to Mum’s massive plate of cakes and back at his pain au chocolat again.

Lewis gave Mum a big smile and said “Hi,” in a very shy way. Mum looked at him, and he blushed behind his little spectacles, turned away, and went back behind the counter.

Dani looked anxiously at her mother. Ruairi whispered to Mum, “You don’t think he’s nicer than Dad, do you, Mum?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Ruairi. Of course not. Besides, Lewis is demonstrating the Christmas spirit, nothing more.” Mum looked directly at both Dani and Ruairi as she spoke.

Dani shrugged and said, “If you say so,” and Mum went to the counter to put in her order for cake and plum pudding for Christmas day.

While she was gone, Dani and Ruairi stuffed as many of Mum’s cakes into their mouths as they could. Dani poked Ruairi under his arm just as he filled his mouth with a cream bun, which made him snigger and snort cream up his nose. Ruairi’s eyes shot open extrawide midsnigger. Dani followed his gaze out the front window. Standing there, in his hairnet and sausage-skin coat, chattering animatedly with two other men who were behind him in the shadows, jabbing his finger in Ruairi’s direction, was none other than the butcher, Hamish Sinclair.

Dudo Meets Jarl Olaf

 

 

Ruairi looked at the men and spun around to look behind him. There was no one else near him. “They’re looking at me! He’s pointing at me!” he whispered to Dani while he wiped cream off his face and shrank back into his armchair. “You said they couldn’t have seen us last night,” he said to Dani.

“Couldn’t have!” Dani said. “There must be a simple explanation. Oh no. Mum’s ready to go. Let’s try to stall her and stay here. Maybe they’ll go away and we can sneak out when they’re not looking.”

“What do you think they want?” Ruairi asked, his lower lip starting to tremble.

“I don’t know, Ruairi.”

“Maybe they’re not looking at me at all. Maybe they want a loaf of bread or something …”

“Maybe,” Dani said. Then, turning to Mum, she said, “We’re a bit pooped now, and it’s getting cold. And Granny’s all snug in her armchair. I think it would be a good idea to rest a bit before we do the rest of the shopping.”

“Not a bad idea, Dani. I’ll order us all some more coffees and hot chocolates,” Mum said. She glanced at her nearly empty plate. Dani and Ruairi avoided her eye. “And if Granny’s up to it, maybe she could tell us a bit more about King Dudo and the mystery woman and the buried treasure.”

“Only if you want to, Granny,” Dani said, trying not to appear eager.

“Yes, Granny, only if you’re not too tired,” Ruairi said, scraping his chair around in front of Granny so he could hear better and so he was out of view of the window at the front of the shop.

“It would be my pleasure,” Granny said, “but we will need more cakes too, Mum.”

“Sure thing, Granny,” Mum said, “but keep room for tea. I’m making smoked salmon pâté with crusty bread from here and smoked salmon from the smokehouse followed by a cassoulet of duck leg and—”

“Now. Where were we?” Granny said, cutting Mum off. “Ah, yes. King Dudo was propped up on the most luxurious and softest
downdles
he had ever had the good fortune to be propped up against.

“He had a nosy look at his surroundings. He was in a very nice dwelling place. It was smaller than he was used to, but then again, he was the King of the Danes—he was used to the very best of everything, downdles excepted.

“He felt there were people nearby. He heard muffled voices outside the room. ‘No, I will not!’ he thought he heard. And ‘FORGET IT!’”

“Dudo cleared his throat loudly so whoever was there would know that he was awake. The voices stopped, and several feet shuffled away. An elderly man popped his head around the entranceway.

“‘Ah,’ he said, ‘you have awoken. Welcome to my humble home. You are most welcome. I am Jarl Olaf Barelegs the Balding on Top. Welcome.’

“‘A jarl?’ King Dudo bowed to the elderly man. On his way back up from the bow, he noticed that the man was not wearing trousers or leg coverings of any kind. Instead, he wore a very short kilt. ‘I thank you for your warm welcome. You are lord of this country?’

“‘Indeed, I am lord of this place; however, you are not in any country. You have landed on the island of Yondersaay.’”

Dani and Ruairi beamed. “Yondersaay!” they said.

Granny looked at them over her glasses and continued. “King Dudo gasped, ‘Yondersaay!’

“Jarl Olaf Barelegs the Balding on Top nodded gravely. ‘Yes, King Dudo,’ for he knew that King Dudo was King Dudo.

“‘You know that I am King Dudo!’

“‘But of course, King Dudo. You have the bearing of a king, mighty and brave, and exceptionally clever. Plus, your name was stitched onto your underwear.’

“‘Ah,’ said King Dudo.

“‘You have breached the boundary of the enchanted island in the middle of the northern-most seas,’ the jarl continued. ‘You have arrived at a place you’ve most probably been told doesn’t exist. But exist it does and on it you are.’

“King Dudo was speechless. The one place he’d always dreamed of finding, and now, here he was.

“‘Rest, King Dudo. I will send my daughter to tend to you. She will find fresh clothes for you and will fetch you some mead and bread …’”

“The woman from the ice!” Ruairi said. “I bet his daughter is the woman who turned into the bear—no, wait; the bear who turned into the woman—on the ice, when King Dudo sang and cracked his head and fell in! I bet it’s her!”

“Ursula?” Granny said. “Well, let’s see. Jarl Olaf left the dwelling place, and King Dudo waited for the jarl’s daughter to arrive. He hoped against all hope that the woman he was waiting for was the woman who had appeared before him on the ice. He wished it in his heart and in his bones. He heard a rustling and looked to the entranceway.

“Before him stood the jarl’s daughter. She had pale skin and blue eyes. She was a true beauty. She smiled at him and walked toward him with his new set of clothes. There was grace and elegance in every movement. She came to him, put a hand on his shoulder and gently asked him what the matter was. ‘Are you ill, my liege? You look so desolate.’ She asked him this because King Dudo had a look of such sadness on his face. His whole body gave off an air of melancholy and disappointment.

“The beautiful girl smiling sweetly at him and tenderly touching his shoulder, was
not
the girl from the ice. ‘I am very well. Nothing is the matter,’ he said to her. He forced a smile and accepted the clothes.”

“It’s not her? Where is she?” Dani asked. “What happened to her?”

“Did she turn back into a bear again?” Ruairi asked.

“Maybe we never see her again,” Granny said.

“I think that’s improbable,” Dani said with finality.

“Oh, you do, do you? And why do you think that?”

“Because in stories people always end up with their Heart’s True Love. And they get married and live Happily Ever After.” Dani folded her arms.

“But this isn’t some
story
, Dani. This is real life. It wasn’t today or yesterday, but it did really happen. It’s a sad fact that in real life people don’t always end up with their Heart’s True Love. And in real life, sometimes—and I’m warning you now before we go any further—sometimes the baddy doesn’t get his comeuppance. And sometimes … sometimes the good person dies.”

BOOK: The Extremely Epic Viking Tale of Yondersaay
5.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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