Before there was the novel, there were the stories...

by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Road to Paris Series: Erik's Fears Confirmed

The King called “Enter” at the sound of the tap on his door. Looking up he saw an even grimmer-faced Erik than he was used to seeing. “Bad news, I take it?” he asked his friend.

The big Dane, who was beginning to show his age in spite of his beneficial racial background, came in and shut the door firmly behind him. He came forward and slumped on a bench on a wall. “I am afraid so.”

Lawrence sighed. He put down the parchment he had been scanning and sat back in his Roman-style chair. “What have you learned about Falni and Sif’s pride? And does Shannon know yet?”

Erik shook his head. “I wanted to talk to you first.”

Lawrence called for a servant to bring ale for himself and his guest. “Is she dead then?”

Watching the servant who had come in for his master’s order shut the door again behind him the Dane replied, “Not for certain, but she may wish she was at this point.”

“What do you mean?” Lawrence sat forward, his bearded chin resting in one palm braced on the table before him.

His friend looked back at him. “It was those Frankish pirates I told you about. They stay away from my ships but love to take the smaller ones. One of my contacts in the less honorable shipping business told me their own ship, Raubvogel, was seen unloading booty, including slaves, at Honaflôd*, at the mouth of the Rodo**.” He did not need to translate the vessel’s name, as both he and the king spoke Germanic languages similar to Frankish, but the word meant “Bird of Prey”.

Lawrence stood and turned away from his friend to stare out a window aperture. “Slaves? Is there some reason to believe that Falni and Ranigg are among those slaves?” When Erik did not at first reply he turned and looked at him sharply. “What?”

Erik’s face twisted in sorrow. “Not Ranigg. He was killed when Sif’s Pride was attacked.”

Sitting suddenly, Lawrence moaned, “Dear God…” He continued more hopefully, “But what about the woman?”

“I am assuming that since we know Sif’s Pride was taken and Ranigg killed, that Falni must have been taken. But I do not know for certain she is among the women sold at Honaflôd.”

The King gazed at his long time friend. “How do you know... No, never mind. But you will tell me if there is a direct threat to Críslicland, will you not?” It was an uneasy understanding between the two. Lawrence knew if he pressed his friend, Erik would simply sail away and never come into port at lawrencium again. That would deprive his subjects with much cargo they profited by.

The Dane smiled. “You can count on that.” His voice was thin.

“What is the name of the leader of this band of Frankish pirates?”

“Clothar, I understand. And he is of some importance, or so I was told. He is kin to the King of the Franks, Karl***.”

Lawrence’s eyebrows elevated. “So?” he said with interest. “What do you advise we should do?”

Erik took the ale horn, which the servant, newly arrived, offered him. “Tell Shannon to start with.”

* Honaflôd1 - Later known as Honfleur. The region was to become “Normandy” after the arrival of Scandinavian raiders. In the 780s Saxon raiders occupied most of the coast and ports. Thus the Saxon name for the town on the estuary, basically “Hona’s River”.

** Rodo - The name for the River Seine in Early Medieval Normandy.

*** Karl - Better known to us as Charlemagne. That name is French, and the French language did not yet exist.

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .