Ok, first of all forgive me… I had hoped to write this earlier but I am afraid that I am not feeling so much like a hale and hearty Dane right now? I hate to admit of this, but I am feeling a bit under the weather and I fear this place has something to do with my current ailment. I have become so used to the generally crisp clean air of our Danemark that I had forgotten how truly horrendous and foul a place… and people can smell? Please forgive me if I sound off putting or rude to those of you who are Saxons by birth or ancestry, but this place smells awful! This village is over full of people and animals all crammed together in one small space. It reeks of midden piles too close to living quarters, of waste both animal and human, and I do not know of when it might have been since some of these people have bathed. What ever happened to the oft repeated phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness?” Apparently, that phrase has not been coined or made so popular yet. This is one great difference between our people and these Saxons. For the most part, we are a clean lot. Perhaps it is because we do not have such odd fear of water as these people seem to? We live near water- lakes and rivers cover our landscape… And, we make use of it. It is nothing uncommon for us to swim or to bathe in the rivers or lakes as often as need be. It astounds me that these people who also have access to lakes, to rivers, to the sea for some of them, would have such aversion to immersing themselves in it on some regular basis. I pray to the Gods that we finish our preparations here quickly and can leave the overwhelming stench of this village! On a personal thought, all I can think is no wonder disease and plague spread so quickly. I want to be away from all of these people and Gods knows what germs they may spread.
Our arrival has caused a whirlwind of gossip and curiosity from the people here as well as suspicions and resentments. Of course, the women here all profess to be in fear of us and our men, but I can see that they also eye our men with something other than fear. I have to say that our men have been behaving themselves well for the most part? They are too busy making preparations for the coming battle they fight for that witch, Princess Kwentirith… I do have my own personal suspicions of her and I am not alone in my feelings. I know that there is most likely much more going on here than we are being told of, something does not feel right about this entire situation and I hold her liable for what ever schemes are being plotted without our knowledge. That said and set aside, I will say that our warriors are feeling some excitement about the fight even if it is not really our fight to be part of? They have been cooped up for too long and any excuse for a fight is looked forward to by them right now! I do need to add too that besides the fighting, some of them do look for free and honest women to pass some time with… Most of the women who have made this journey are wives and family- not ones who are willing or interested in sharing their beds or bodies with all of the men! So, the men’s eyes do wander to these Saxon women who may be of easy virtue and who seem more than willing to share their bodies, whether they would admit it openly or not! There are always willing women where ever one travels to and our men generally are not in the habit or liking of the idea of forcing a woman. Yes, I know of what future rumors will say about our men forcing themselves on women but it is not true. There are always those kinds of men in any society who would take enjoyment from abusing women, so our men have been put in much bad light for the sake of making some other group look better when it is simply not the case! Our men are deeply offended by the thought that they would take such great pleasure or enjoyment from the abuse and rape of women. As I have said, for one thing- there are always women to be found anywhere you go, there is no pleasure or enjoyment to be found in forcing oneself on an unwilling person. No, that form of abuse has nothing to do with pleasure but all to do with power and control.
Our men are fine ones, respectful of women, courteous and usually well mannered in their interactions with women. They have no need to force themselves upon any woman, in fact they often have the problem of avoiding women who are too willing and too desired of wanting them! And, if we are to be honest, there are many women who would take advantage of their kind hearts… there are also women who would lie and deceive, women who would willingly enjoy favor with men and then if found out, would claim they were forced? We all know of such women.
Now, as to rumors and gossip surrounding us here… much of that gossip pertains to the one person who we would think should cause none? Our friend Athelstan the priest is at the center of this gossip. Athelstan is normally the least likely man that any of us would assume there should be interest or curiosity about! For some reason though, he has attracted much attention from various virtuous religious ones here. It all has to do with the fact that he is or was a Christian monk, one of God’s holiest of men, has turned against God and become Pagan, and yet carries a mark from God upon his hand. During his last visit here, he was tortured by these “Godly” men, crucified by those Priests, and now his hand bears a scar that does not heal. I have looked at his hand, and I am as mystified as anyone else? I am not one for such mystical and religious miracles. I have tried to put it down to some more basic scientific or medical reason for the wound not healing completely, but even I do wonder at it?
The most important thing you must remember about this time is that anything unexplainable is looked on with great fear and is directly attributed to God, or the Gods… for every culture tried to explain such things in the same ways. They were signs from the Gods, or from the one God. Sometimes it would be looked on favorably and considered a miracle or a gift, other times it would be looked at as a bad omen? It really depended on the person and the situation at the time? It also depended on anything that happened in relation to such occurrence? Say such sign preceded a traumatic event, then of course that sign was in retrospect, a bad omen. If the sign were related to a good event happening, then it was a miracle, a sign that God was pleased. I am much worried for Athelstan right now in that this sign on him could easily go either way? If good things happen to those believers around him, he will be put on a pedestal and worshiped. If bad things happen, then he will be a marked man doomed to be slain by those who believe that God has marked him in anger… either way, it will not go well for our Athelstan if this wound does not heal itself.
In this time of religious zeal, frenzy and ultimate devotion, Athelstan is the ultimate prize for those seeking a closer contact or ear to God. I do not think that he really has any idea yet how dangerous his situation could become. One of those devout and fevered Christians is none other than Aethelwulf’s wife, Judith. Aethelwulf is himself, a devoutly religious man who deems Athelstan as a traitor to their God. From the time of Athelstan’s arrival back here, the Lady Judith has been ever watching him and Aethelwulf is not happy about this.
For my own personal reasons, I feel need to make friends with Judith… I think she can be my best way of visiting the Wilton Abbey? I am quite sure she would know well of it and could help me in my quest to gain admittance or entry there. You see, it is such a small and private Abbey right now that one would need some connection or referral from a well placed Noble to visit or eventually seek sanctuary there if need be. I am sure that if I work this right, I can get her to take me there on the premise of making contribution to their good works. I must be careful though in my endeavor for I do plan to take advantage of her infatuation with Athelstan. I do not want to put him at more risk than necessary and hope this plan does not completely backfire on me or him! I must also be careful in my visit of the place… I do not want to remain there right now and they may be quite forceful in attempts to convert me to their ways and keep me there. A comment from Rollo recently reminds me to use caution and not remain there at this time. We were speaking of this upcoming battle and he in jest mentioned that he should not like to return and find that I had indeed run off to one of these places? He was jesting only in part, and grew more serious in his added reply that should I find myself hiding away in such a place, he would feel need to remove me from there, by what ever force necessary! I do fear that such an event be the start of an even greater battle, a religious war that is not a part of this history. I do not want that on my conscience! I worry too why Rollo would feel such need to “rescue” me? When I broached that subject, he simply said, “As you once told Siggy, that is not a place for you!” I left it at that as I did not want to go any deeper into such discussion with him. His reason was that he considered me a good friend and he would not see me shut myself away from the world in such a way. It had nothing to do with any kind of deeper relationship between us which we both know is not possible. I laughed it all off and reassured him that I would give him fair warning should I ever decide on this choice. I also had to make known the fact that I was well aware of his recent interests in all the fine women of Wessex and other places… He did look a bit sheepish at this and said that he must find ways to entertain himself and forget the heartaches. I understand this and do not hold any of it against him.
I said nothing then… I understood his bitterness and his anger at Siggy but I did know that he would not forget his feelings for her. So, as any good friend would do, I simply added her name to the list of women vying for his favors!
As the men busied themselves with their battle plans, I put my own plans into motion with much trepidation. This could all go so badly and I would forever feel guilt if I were the cause for anything happening to Athelstan. It was all quite easy and I placated myself, justified my actions in that the Lady Judith would have eventually made her move on Athelstan anyway even had I not intervened? All I really had to do was put myself near to her and casually strike up conversation about Athelstan with her. She could not resist the temptation to speak more with him. So, all I did was point her in his direction… and was rewarded with her undying gratitude!
Anything that would happen as a result of this meeting is upon them, not me!
I will admit that even I was a little surprised by her reaction… I thought she might pass out right there from her dazed frenzy of having touched and kissed the hand of one she felt was chosen by God!
She was so overtaken by the experience that I think she forgot everything else… including her husband, who was not happy, to say the very least!
I am so sorry Athelstan… I hope that at least you will find some joy in this situation before it all goes badly?
Now the other situation which is causing much rumour, I had nothing at all do with! I watched it unfold along with everyone else at that feast and was as surprised as anyone at this next infatuation? from the moment King Ecbert laid eyes upon Lagertha, he was as he admitted, completely infatuated with her. I do not necessarily trust him any more than I trust anyone else here and I have my worries as to where this will lead. I do think that Lagertha is a strong and capable woman though and would see through any games he might attempt to play? I would hope she will not be overly dazzled by his charm and will not fall for any trap him might try to ensnare her in. But, on the brighter side, Lagertha does deserve a bit of fun, some enjoyment of life’s pleasures and she should see the advantage of having this man on her side rather than against her or us…
We all made our way to the land which Ecbert had promised and it was a glorious sight!
As we came to our new home, I was excited like everyone else, but something deeply troubled me. This was rich farmland, that had once been occupied. There were farms and homes already here… where had those people gone? Had they been forced out of their homes, off from this wealth of land for us? If so, I could well understand the bitterness and hatred from some of those in the village! What had happened to the previous residents, what had Ecbert done to them in order to provide us with this bounty. There was an underlying fear in my heart now.
Ecbert made vows and promises of peace between us all but, could or would he keep that peace if all of those previous land holders were so intent on breaking it? How would we have felt… how did we feel when during that time in Kattegat when our lands, our homes were taken from us. Did we sit back and allow someone, such as Jarl Borg or King Horik to take our homes and our land from us. Is not this a similar situation for such people here who may have been displaced to give the lands to us?
While we journeyed to this new land and this trouble brewing, our men journeyed into their own trouble!
They headed into a battle for the strange princess Kwentirith… This woman was no shieldmaiden and was completely unprepared for the battle that would pit our men against her brother and her Uncle. She spent much of journey dancing and celebrating in her own bizarre fashion!
That is not to say the men did not enjoy the spectacle but, could any of them really take this woman seriously? One who was not amused by any of it was Aethelwulf, who voiced his disgust and his concerns to his personal Priest!
What they sailed into felt more like a battle set up to defeat them from all sides. They were unprepared to meet armies on both sides of the river, and were taken by surprise.
Our men felt as though they had sailed into a trap… one set by the scheming Princess Kwentirith. Ragnar was understandably furious with this turn of events and showed his growing mistrust of Kwentirith.
Having no choice now, the men determined their best odds and set about winning this uneven battle. Their anger and feelings of betrayal spurred them into fighting even harder to win!
Besides his anger at the general situation they were in, his distaste of Kwentirith and his extreme frustration, Ragnar was even less happy about some of his own warriors, namely his son Bjorn and Bjorn’s wife Porunn. It was rather obvious that he did not approve of Porunn’s being there in the first place and then when she placed herself in the middle of the battle and Bjorn became so distracted and felt need to keep her safe, well Ragnar’s disgust clearly showed on his face!
It was a fierce and bloody battle that took it’s toll and they barely managed to survive and win that day!
In the end, they were victorious… and Kwentirith’s uncle was taken down by an enraged Floki! They succeeded that day, but none trusted Kwentirith and no one knows yet what the consequences or the cost of this battle will be other than more battles for these Christians and death for our men.