The Love of a Viking
I’m a longtime history geek. I was homeschooled in high school and after my main work was finished I spent a lot of time reading classic novels like the unabridged Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Austen, and the works of Bronte sisters or researching and writing extra papers on historical figures and times; Queen Elizabeth I, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Sargon of Akkad (in tribute to The Scorpion King film), and the role of Viking women in Scandinavian society.
It’s safe to say I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up.
After a good fifteen year addiction to Michael Creighton’s book, The Eaters of the Dead, Delilah’s anthology gave me an excuse to write a Viking story based loosely on the lead warrior, Buliwyf, whose personal history is an elusive presence in the book and one I’ve always wanted to explore further.
So when I wrote “Poetry and Amber” I imagined the type of woman who someone like Buliwyf might have been intrigued by, someone with a quiet resilience, who needs his protection but would make her way in the world without it. I wanted a story about love at first sight, but also a pragmatic decision for both parties about why their relationship makes sense. While I’m sure love happened in the past, it feels more realistic to me to have characters have other reasons to decide to be together. The world was a much harsher place then, and relationships for love weren’t likely very common. But a couple coming together based on mutual admiration, lust, and need, then finding a shared passion for one another? That I can buy.
His gaze made me shiver. Want for him rose so swiftly, so unexpectedly, that my knees almost buckled. I didn’t like him, didn’t know him, but I wanted him. I wanted this warrior spread naked beneath me, to feel those hard muscles tense as he seized hold of me, to buck against me as I rode him by firelight.
Still staring at my throat, he pointed and said a word I did not know.
“Volva,” he said again. The word was guttural and harsh, unlike the language of the Celts and Picts. More like the low tongue spoken by the Saxons. In my opinion.
“Magic,” he said. “Do you have visions? Like ones on your back?”
He appeared to be quite drunk, wavering where he sat, his long blond hair spilling loose about his shoulders. The easy physicality of this man entranced me. I’d never been so drawn to a man at first sight, never wanted him so completely within such short time. He was a warrior embodied, a god of war made flesh.
A slave girl, a thrall, bent to refill his cup. She leaned a little too close , angling her body across his, touching him longer than she needed to. Just then, the other heir apparent made his move. The thrall exclaimed as she was shoved aside. His sword flashed.
Buliwyf moved faster. He was not, apparently, as drunk as he had appeared. He was on his feet, sword drawn, blocking that of his opponent. As I’d expected, Buliwyf fought well. He fought like a dream, like one born with his hand around a sword. I could not tell where the sword ended and the swordsman began.
As suddenly as the fight began, it stilled. For a moment, the combatants stared at each other. Buliwyf’s sword flashed, and the other man fell.
Then, and only then, after the heads fell and the meal was blessed by the shedding of blood, Buliwyf straightened, barely winded from slaying the other contender to the crown. His eyes locked with mine, and he raised two fingers, beckoning me to him.