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I visited Ireland in 2012 and loved the many centuries of history you could see evident in the structures and ruins all over the island. The Vikings found their way to this island and staked a claim for a time, interbred with the inhabitants and became an integral part of the culture. Here’s an excerpt from my story in the Conquests anthology. I had fun writing Konrad and Brigid. I hope you like their battle for supremacy.
Enslaved by Elle James
After years of battle in his homeland of Norway under the leadership of his older brother Ivarr, Konrad had crossed the seas to fight the Danes. He’d come to this island to stake a claim for land and a home of his own. He was ready to settle, take a wife, and raise children and cattle. Konrad heard Ireland was a paradise of green pastures and strong women, both key ingredients to his plan.
Thus, he had sailed his last journey from Dublin around the isle and let the wind carry him here to the west coast of this lush green land he’d come to love. After a fierce battle led by a paltry lot of old men and boys barely off their mothers’ apron strings, Konrad had won. But he wondered that others hadn’t claimed this glorious place, haunted soil or not.
Ahead, two women carrying bundles hurried toward a cottage. One was a winsome beauty with light red hair cascading down her back in long luscious waves. The other was tall and raven-haired, her tresses curling in glorious abandon. The latter’s hips swayed beneath the dress broader than the redhead’s, and with a determination found more often in the men he led in battle.
She handed her burden to the woman standing at the door of the cottage and spoke to her in hushed, urgent tones. The red-haired woman stood by meekly, waiting for the taller one to finish.
Thorsten leaned close to Konrad. “She is a beauty.”
“Indeed she is,” he said, his gaze never leaving the taller woman.
The raven-haired lovely gave her last command and motioned for the redhead to follow her to the next cottage where she again took charge, handed off the goods the redhead carried, and gave her orders. When she was done, she worked her way from building to building, checking with the inhabitants.
“From what I’ve learned, the dark-haired woman is the leader of this clan,” Thorsten said. “She is the daughter of the previous clan leader. The red-haired beauty is her younger sister.”
Konrad had been too busy tending to the wounded and giving his dead a proper send off to Valhalla to learn more about the social structure of the people he’d conquered.
“The old men we captured warned of her iron hand and stubborn streak,” Thorsten murmured. “I suggest you establish your claim immediately, and either send her away or make her your slave.”
Konrad frowned. “I wish this to be my home. These people will be my people. They need to learn to trust that I will defend them against future attack and provide for their well-being. I don’t want them to see themselves as slaves.”
“The villagers seem to hold the raven-haired one in high regard. To win them over, you must first win her over or cull her from the herd.” Thorsten nodded toward the redhead. “Another suggestion would be to take her sister to wife to secure her fealty.”
The raven-haired woman emerged from a home and cast a glance around the village as if to assess the damage. Throughout her visits, she’d avoided looking his direction. At last, she wiped her hands on her apron and glanced his way, her chin tilting high, her blue gaze direct and defiant.
Konrad’s groin tightened, his manhood rising to the woman’s unspoken challenge.
Thorsten chuckled beside him. “I see you will have trouble with that one. Perhaps if you use her as an example and publicly whip her, she will fall in line.”
“A whip would not cow the woman or bend her to my will. What she needs is a firm hand and a reason to accept me.”
“Aye, a proper beating is what she’ll get. She is strong and young enough she will make a fine slave once you break her will.”
Konrad growled a warning. He had no desire to break the woman. Like fine horseflesh, she should be gentled and led to believe she would be better off with him as her rider. He squared his shoulders much like he would walking into battle and marched toward the women.
Viking Short Stories
Edited by Delilah Devlin
ASGEIRR AND THE TREE OF LIFE
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR SKJALDMAER
THE VIKING’S PRIZE
THERE FOR THE TAKING
THE OAK AND THE ALE
Teresa Noelle Roberts
THE NEEDLE AND THE STRAP
Available July 14th