Few now live who remember these tales, so pen must be set to page…
Late in the Christian Year of 1221 late winter lay upon the Jarldom of Freyrland that was situated in the midst of the Great Ocean Sea, roughly halfway between Antilia far to the south and Westgarde far to the north. Freyrland was not a single island, but a group of many islands large and small, that oriented from northeast to southwest, lay in the form of a giant fish hook. Lush green islands covered in a kind of cedar peculiar to them and with an abundance of harbors, Freyrland had been settled more than a hundred years before by Westgarder Norse traders as a perfect halfway stop in their rich trade with the island nation of Antilia.
By the year 1221, as Christians measure such things, Freyrland had grown into a rich and powerful jarldom upon the wealth of that trade. The town of Freyrgard had grown to a vital port of several thousand people, that built from native cedar and protected by ramparts of earth and wood, was situated on a great natural harbor about where the main island of the archipelago began to form the islands’ fish hook. However, the bustling main town was not from where Freyrland was ruled, for the seat of the Jarl of Freyrland was a fortified palace situated atop the highest hill on the main island perhaps a league to the northeast of Freyrgard.
Built from native cedar in the three sided, open rectangular style of Antilia, the palace of Jarl Eldric Eight Fingers was both massive and luxurious. Surrounded by gardens and wooden ramparts atop an earthen berm, the palace itself was an open and airy building, roofed with cedar shingles and designed for opulence and comfort. So it had been a most comfortable place to spend the mildly cool Freyrland winter of that year while awaiting the coming of spring and the Christian Year 1222 for Carine Ariansdaughter.
The Princess of the Triple Realm had wintered in Freyrland at the jarl’s palace awaiting the coming of spring, because that was as far north as her fleet and army had been able to sail after the hurricane season and before the Great Ocean Sea became too dangerous to cross in winter. Her army and fleet had been given to her by various allies she had made over the last couple of years to help her father, King Canute V of the Triple Realm, fight his war against the crusaders of the Roman Church. Yet so far the alliance the princess had forged with her diplomatic skills and considerable feminine charms had only campaigned in Antilia and upon neighboring islands thousands of miles from England, Denmark and Norway and the Triple Realm’s continental possessions in Europe.
That fact weighed heavily upon the half-Otherfolk girl of some eighteen years, despite the fact one of those campaigns had done much to aid her father’s cause. So as the golden haired goddess of a girl stood upon the rose covered, wooden balustraded balcony of her quarters at the jarl’s palace staring to the northwest down the hill at where the jarl’s private harbor and the village that served it sat upon a narrow channel between the open sea and a sound the main island surrounded, her lovely, dark lash framed green eyes were troubled. Tall as a man at only two inches below six feet, the princess’ whose mane of wavy golden hair tumbled to her round young buttocks was beautiful beyond words, with a face to haunt men’s dreams and a youthfully slender, yet shapely body that was all long slender legs, slender shapely hips and tiny waist and just barely full firm breasts.
Cari had spent most of the last two years under the tropical sun of the Sea of Antilia region and even after the comparatively cool winter of Freyrland, her silken skin was still golden brown rather than its natural pale hue. Her sunbrowned skin and slender shapely body were shown off to great effect by the backless and sleeveless gown of gossamer blue silk that the princess wore held up by a golden clasp at the back of her slim neck. Aside from that gown, through which her breasts’ pink tips and her smooth shaven sex were visible, Cari wore only a woven gold belt around her waist and a woven gold choker about her neck.
That choker hid the enchanted silver slave collar that had been locked around the princess’ neck by the sorceress, Mengia of the Misted Isle, who had captured Cari more than two years before. Her slavery at the hands of the Sorceress of the Misted Isle had been toward the beginning of Carine Ariansdaughter’s journey to find allies for her father, but after her rescue by Gadifriald Lokkasson and the wizard Fymbulthuler, that journey had stretched on. In distances she had once been unable to imagine, she had traveled to lands wondrous and exotic and had adventures amazing and terrifying. Over the intervening two plus years, Cari had grown from a haughty barely grown girl into a young woman who could command armies with her iron will, the very winds with her magic and conquer men with her wiles.
Smiling a secret little smile to herself, the half-Otherfolk Princess of the Triple Realm had the wry thought that probably more men had conquered her than she had conquered. As she gazed down from her balcony of the palace of one of the men she had conquered and been conquered by, Cari’s eyes fell upon a gift to her from the Jarl of Freyrland. Little Mare’s Steed was a three-masted vessel that was the largest great knorr ever built that had been built next to the jarl’s private harbor it now floated in as a gift to the princess.
"Little mare" was the pet name Eldric Eight Fingers had given Cari after he had ravished the girl into being his mistress upon her first visit to Freyrland and he had named the vessel he had given her, using that pet name. Little Mare’s Steed was a fine ship that was the bastard child of a cog and a knorr, with a high aftcastle from which she would be steered and defended. Longer and taller and broader than any great knorr before her, the ship that had been built of Freyrland cedar would carry the princess and her immediate entourage in great comfort upon the long voyage to the Triple Realm when soon she, her fleet and army departed Freyrland’s shores.
“Before the next year is out, I will at last bring my army to your aid, father,” the Princess of the Triple Realm whispered in her regal young voice to the far away King of the Triple Realm.
Letters from Canute V had informed Cari that her father’s war with the Roman Church and the realms and rulers arrayed in the crusade against the Triple Realm went badly. The Pope of Rome sought to return by force the Northern Church that had broken with the Roman Church more than a century before to his holy see. As the center and defender of the Northern Church the might, both magical and of arms, of the Roman Church, combined with that of her allies, had been unleashed upon the Triple Realm and that might was proving too much for even the greatest power in Europe and the North Sea. Last she knew, most of the Triple Realm’s continental possessions south of Denmark had been lost and England’s southern shores and ports were harried by Norman raiding fleets.
The situation for her father across the seas was dire and the way things were going Cari might not have an inheritance by the time she returned to her homeland. Carine Ariansdaughter was the only daughter of Canute V, King of the Triple Realm and the sorceress Arian, who was a member of one of the various fae breeds known collectively as the Otherfolk and was heir to the united thrones of England, Denmark and Norway. That meant as well as her loyalty to her father, the princess had a personal stake in seeing the Triple Realm saved from Roman Church crusaders and could not and would not settle down in safety in Westgarde or Freyrland or Antilia.
No, the daughter of the King of the Triple Realm would return to aid her father with the allied fleet and army she had forged. Warriors from Stoneshoreland, Freyrland, Antilia and Jamaka and more were camped around Freyrland waiting to board the ships that would carry them across the sea to war upon the Roman Church and its allies. Which around five thousand warriors and over a hundred great knorrs waited to sail with the princess and her closest allies, friends and lovers who commanded the allied army and fleet.
Cari also meant to use Antilian and Freyrland gold to gather more soldiers and ships as she sailed to her father’s aid. So by the time that she reached the Triple Realm, the Princess of the Triple Realm would have a powerful force that could tip the balance of the war in her father’s favor. However, her fleet with her army aboard had yet to sail and so Carine Ariansdaughter had to wait for that sailing and hope she arrived before Canute V’s cause was a lost one.
“Do you like the ship I had built for you, little mare?” a gruff voice filled with adoring affection asked as a hand missing its two middle fingers caressed down Cari’s bare back.
Shivering from that caress, the princess smiled over one slim shoulder at the Jarl of Freyrland and replied, “It is a magnificent vessel, my lord Jarl and I hope to sail aboard her soon.”
Eldric Eight Fingers was a tall and big man, who stood two or so inches taller than Cari. Thick of body and limb, he was iron gray of hair and beard, but his gray blue eyes had not dulled with age and despite his more than sixty years, the jarl was more vigorous than most men a third his age. He was a warrior and leader of great skill and renown, who had become Jarl of Freyrland during the Pirate Wars by his own hand and who had allied with the princess to campaign against Roman Church crusaders in Antilia and beyond.
Eldric was also a handsome and virile man who had conquered Cari into being his mistress for a time as well as his ally and he wanted to marry her. The jarl, who cut a handsome figure in his blue silk tunic and gray cotton trousers, was in love with the princess, yet she did not love him and had no intention of being one of his wives, for her heart belonged to Gadifriald Lokkasson. Cari had once willingly played the role of Eldric’s mistress, however, she had ended that arrangement yet allowed the jarl to pay court to her and pursue her because she needed his warriors and ships and gold.
“Winter comes to an end, little mare and soon we shall sail for Westgarde and then on to the Triple Realm,” Eldric assured her with his two fingered and one thumbed hand, that gave him the moniker of "Eight Fingers", dancing upon her spine in ways that made her belly quiver.
“I hope that soon will come soon enough for us to sail in time to aid my father’s cause before that cause is lost!” Cari breathed fiercely even while she shivered more from the jarl’s touch.
Eldric grunted and shrugged his big shoulders before he said, “I think that with the sheer size of the Triple Realm, your father’s armies can hold out long enough for our fleet and army to come to his aid.”
“By Odin’s eye, I do hope that you are right, my lord Jarl,” the golden haired girl said as she turned her gaze back to the harbor with its village and sandy beach below the palace.
“Why do you insist upon addressing me so formally, little mare?” the jarl wanted to know while his fingers trailed down to the top of the crease of her buttocks, which were bared by the plunging back of her gown.
It was the princess’ turn to shrug even while she shuddered, as she replied, “I call my father sire and even often refer to Gadi as my lord, for it was how I was raised to address fellow royals and nobles, my lord.”
The Jarl of Freyrland chuckled in reply to that and fondled her bottom boldly as Cari herself smiled, not from his attentions but from who she did spy upon the deck of Little Mare’s Steed in the harbor. Her sharp Otherfolk-blood eyes could pick out Gadifriald Lokkasson standing upon the aftcastle of the vessel as she rested at anchor and the sight of her lover and secret master even so far away, brought a smile to her lips and a flutter to her heart. The towering and raven haired hero who had saved her more times than she could count and won her young heart, was the one man that Carine Ariansdaughter loved and the fact that Gadi was personally seeing to the provisioning of the ship that would carry them across the seas warmed her heart he owned.
“I wish that you would smile for me like you do for my nephew!” Eldric growled after Cari had gazed upon her love warmly for a long moment.
“I do not love you and I do love your nephew,” the girl pointed out haughtily and with her chin lifted, turned eyes gone cool upon the jarl, before she added, “You do not own my heart, my lord and I no longer allow you to possess my body either.”
Eldric’s eyes narrowed and glowed with jealousy, desire and possessive rage. “I have possessed your body more than once when you did not allow it, little mare!” he told her with both his hands encircling her waist to turn the princess toward him.
“And you are lucky I did not lay black spells upon you for doing so!” Cari snapped as her wild Otherfolk nature had her both hating and fondly remembering how the man had once enslaved her wanton body with his forceful taking.
“You need me too much to curse me, my little Otherfolk witch!” the jarl sneered. “You need my gold and my ships and warriors, girl!” he declared as his hands tightened on her gold belted waist.
“And you need me even more than I need your gold and ships and warriors,” the Princess of the Triple Realm said with a wicked little smile upon her lips.
“Curse you for being right!” snarled Eldric as he drew the half-Otherfolk temptress to him roughly. “And curse me for wanting you more than life itself!” the Jarl growled before he kissed her even more roughly.
Cari laughed a most wicked laugh of pure feminine delight at her power over the mighty Jarl of Freyrland as she wrapped her slender arms around his thick neck and kissed him back with devilishly grinning lips. With her ethereal beauty and enchanting Otherfolk nature, the girl could wrap nearly any man around her little finger and had learned to use that as a weapon against the male sex. It was a weapon that at times did turn back upon her, yet it allowed her to enslave men to her will and that sunny but relatively cool late winter day in Freyrland, she did her best to enslave Eldric.
The deliciously on fire princess met the jarl’s tongue with her own in an erotic duel while with her arms tight around his neck, she rubbed her scantily clad form against his big body tantalizingly. Her mother’s Otherfolk blood gave Cari a wild carnal nature that was easily stirred and difficult to extinguish and feeling that Otherfolk fire in her blood, the girl devoured Eldric’s mouth as he devoured hers till her sex and body were liquid with that fire. Which that fire burned even hotter when the ardent jarl’s hands slid up her bare back to undo the clasp of her wispy gown.
“I’m going to make you mine once again, little mare!” Eldric parted their lips to promise, as he parted their bodies enough so his strong hands could follow her gown as it slid down her trembling body till her golden belt halted its fall.
“I will never be yours again, my lord,” Cari breathed against the man's lips that she brushed with her own provocatively.
Curling his hands around her heaving breasts, the jarl brushed her swollen nipples with his thumbs as he asked, “Is that a challenge?”
“A promise!” the princess declared while she shuddered and burned from his touch.
“And I promise that I will make you mine again, girl!” Eldric growled with his fingers closing cruelly, yet deliciously upon the tips of her breasts.
Cari inhaled sharply as that sent more dark and wild Otherfolk fire through her. “I think I would enjoy you trying to keep that promise just this once, my lord Jarl,” she said with a smoldering challenge in her eyes that met his burning gaze.
Eldric laughed an angry, amused and aroused laugh and kissed her savagely as his hands mauled her breasts exquisitely. “I shall enjoy keeping that promise,” he said when her lips were bruised and her head was light.
Then the Jarl of Freyrland went about stripping the burning girl of her woven gold belt so that her gown fluttered down about her ankles, before he swept the flushed and thundering hearted princess up in his powerful arms and carried her inside to her bedchamber and awaiting bed. That bed was a big four posted affair with a feather mattress and silken sheets that sat in the center of the airy and opulently furnished chamber where the jarl had taken her before.