Two years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Norway. At one of the museums outside of Oslo on an island called Bygdøy, three Viking longboats sat mostly preserved, excavated from burial mounds nearly a hundred years ago. This fired my imagination, envisioning muscle-bound, blond or red-haired warriors marauding their way across the lands of Scotland and the islands of the North Sea. Ten men rowing across the swells of the open ocean, braving harsh weather to conquer, and finding themselves scaling cliffs of a foreign shore. The story of Harald Sigurdsen and Eivind Halvorsen was born.
As we continued our vacation and exploration of Norway, we drove along the rugged coastline of the east and south of the country. Rounding the southern tip, the rugged cliffs and long fjords became flatter and more fertile with farms as far as the eye could see. After the warriors conquered, settlers arrived from Norway and integrated with the locals, setting up commerce and trade between the new colonies and the Viking homeland.
The Orkney Landing incorporates both the warriors and the eventual settlements of the Vikings on the Ornkey Islands. Halvor and Eivind, along with their raiding party, pillage their way across the islands, taking no prisoners until they find a Pict servant cowering behind a tapestry. Halvor makes Talorc his slave, and allows him to live and serve. Talorc is a willing and enthusiastic servant, coming to Halvor’s aid in the midst of battle. Things heat up between the two warriors and their slave as the Vikings continue their conquest of the Orkney Islands.
You can pre-order Harald, Eivind, and Talorc’s story The Orkney Landing here, part of the Warlords and Warriors anthology.
In the morning, after a breakfast of rations, Harald directed Talorc in the efficient packing of the tent and its contents as Eivind looked on.
“Be quick. It’s time to move forward.” Harald stepped from the tent into the crisp morning air.
Talorc finished the packing and carried a large bag of supplies as the other Vikings disassembled the camp. “Ready, Lord Viking.”
Two of the closest warriors glanced at Talorc, and then to Harald with a smirk.
“You men have something to say?”
Both of their faces reddened. “No, Harald. We’re only admiring your new slave.”
Harald bristled for a moment, and Eivind placed a hand on his shoulder. He relaxed and grinned. “He’s a quick learner.” He watched Talorc lift the bag of supplies, his slender muscles straining. Why did that bother me? He’s a slave. A willing slave, but a slave nonetheless.
Shaking off his confusion, he focused on the march at hand. The raiding party covered several leagues over the hilly countryside, burning farmhouses as they went. At each dwelling, Harald paused to look inside.
After they plundered their fourteenth farm, he shook his head as he lit a torch. Each house deserted. This doesn’t bode well for the stealth of our assault.
Before he could light the thatched roof, a cheer arose from a far off hill. He dropped the torch and turned to his company. The men crowded behind him, facing the oncoming attack.
Grey clouds descended as Harald counted the naked Pict men painted blue, yielding swords and clubs and surging across the moor. Twenty seven. These look more like warriors. The farm woman or the children survived and sounded the alarm. He turned to his men. “Torvald, Andreas, and Halvor, take the savages on the right. Erik, Tallak and Sigurd, take the left. The rest of you with me and Eivind down the center.”
Turning, he brought his attention to Talorc. “Hide amongst the supplies. If the battle goes ill, run. If you’re needed, you will hear two blasts of my horn.”
“Yes, my lord.” Talorc scurried to the pile of wood for the tents and ducked out of sight.
Harald raised his sword as the rain fell and a peel of thunder rolled over the moor. “Forward, and take no prisoners!”
He roared as they ran toward the approaching savages. Excitement surged through his veins, and he slashed his sword at the lead Pict, slicing the life from him. Another swung a club at him, but he missed. He dispatched the fiery-haired man with a single stroke.
Harald looked on with satisfaction as more of the Picts fell to the Vikings’ swords. He stabbed another man in the shoulder, and the savage fell. Turning toward another, he thrust the blade through the attacker.
“Harald, look out!”
Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins. His first story sold, and he was hooked! The second story in his Golden Scepter Series, Pennington’s Conquest, will release in the Summer of 2016 with MuseItHOT Publishing. Stay tuned!
Visit his website to keep up on upcoming releases, and follow him on Twitter: @brentarcherwrit.