Monday, January 18, 2010

Some more Viking stuff - Teaser Tuesday

Today I passed 20k on the WIP. It's getting a little late, I'm getting tired and it's back to work tomorrow, so progress will slow. Life was rough back then so I'm finding it easy to torment my characters.

This is from early on in the story. Fin, the 'dane' Angharad found in the reeds, is recovering in her house. The man whose farmstead was allegedly raided by the Danes, is paying Angharad a visit. It seems a little long but there's a fair bit of dialogue.

Usual caveat - it's a first draft.


The hounds sprang to their feet in a sudden frenzy of barking. Athelwulf, tugging on the mouth of a grey pony, trotted into the yard. Angharad bit back a curse and set her spinning down. At the very least, tradition dictated that she had to offer hospitality.

“Good afternoon, Mistress.” He hauled the sweating pony to a halt and slid from the saddle. One of the house carls led the pony away. “I was just out for a ride and thought I’d stop by and see how you are.”

“I was enjoying the peace.” Angharad fought to keep the annoyance from her voice.

“I’m sorry to have disturbed it.”

Liar. “Would you care for something to drink?”

“Is there any of Hilde’s delicious beer?”

“Yes, she just opened a new barrel. Why don’t you sit here and enjoy the sunshine and I’ll fetch you some.” She nudged her way through the milling hounds before Althelwulf had a chance to say he’d rather sit in the hall.

When she returned, he was sitting on the bench, rubbing the ear of one of the hounds. He smiled when she handed him the beer. Reluctantly, she sat on the bench beside him, knowing that standing with her arms folded across her chest was not the most welcoming of attitudes. She hoped that Fin was still asleep.

“How are you, mistress?”

“I’m fine. I have a lot of spinning to do, it keeps me busy.”

“If you married me, I could think of many more pleasurable ways of keeping you busy.” His pale green gaze was avid.

Angharad smiled to hide her revulsion. “I am happy with my lot, sir.”

“You are very stubborn.” Athelwulf sipped his beer.

“I admit to being set in my ways. I’ve been a widow for three years now and I like my peace.” Angharad looked at his sweaty red face and the straggling yellowing mustache. She wanted to tell him that she would rather die by her own hand than marry him. The thought of his pudgy, damp hands on her skin made her want to scream.

“Then you are determined to remain unwed?”

“For the moment, yes.” It seemed prudent not to anger him by closing off all hope. As long as she kept him dangling he was less likely to cause trouble.

“I suppose I’ll have to be patient.” Athelwulf sighed into his beer.

Angharad sought another subject. “Have you recovered from the raid?”

He shrugged. “Yes. Luckily, they didn’t take anything. Hopefully, they won’t return.”

“I hope not.” She shuddered, wishing the raiders had been more successful.

“Given the thrashing I gave them, I doubt they’ll be back.”

Angharad looked down at her hands and was relieved when Hilde appeared in the doorway. “Mistress, can I have a moment please?”

“Certainly.” She scrambled to her feet. “Will you excuse me a moment?” The housekeeper’s anxious eyes made her uneasy.

“Of course. I’ll just sit here and enjoy this excellent beer.”

Angharad followed Hilde across the hall. “What is it?”

“Your guest, mistress. He’s woke in a right state. He’s heard Athelwulf’s voice and wants his sword.”

“Go and fetch Athelwulf some more beer. I’ll see to him.” She curled her hands into cramped knots and took a deep breath. The last thing she needed was a man insane with fever running amok in the hall.

When she entered her chamber, the Dane had struggled to his feet. He leaned against the wall, breathing quickly.

“What on earth are you doing?” Angharad hissed. “Are you mad?”

“He’s out there, isn’t he?”

She grabbed his arm and helped him back to bed. “Never you mind. I’ll not have any bloodshed in my house.”

“Where’s my sword?” He tried to sit up.

Angharad pushed him back down. “It’s broken.”

“Get me a sword.”

“Listen.” She sat on the bed and gripped his shoulders. “I will not get you a sword. You are in no fit state to kill anyone. Athelwulf may be old and fat but, at the moment, he’s stronger than you. He will kill you first and then he will kill me for harboring you. Is that what you want?”

His eyes were the deep, angry blue of a winter sea. He glared at her, all traces of fever gone.

Angharad glared back. “Answer me. Is that what you want?”

His chest rose and muscles twitched beneath her grip. “No,” he sighed. “How can you offer him hospitality?”

“I have no choice.” She withdrew her hands. “Can I trust you to stay here?”

He nodded.

“Good.” Angharad took a deep breath. “No, calm yourself. I’ll ask Hilde to fetch you something to eat, if you think you’re up to it.”

“Fine.” His eyes remained stormy.

Angharad swept from the room.


  1. I love this one, sigh..... Lol at rather die by her own hand than marry him--and you do a good job of making him sound blech. This doesn't read rough at all, btw!


  2. Oooh, "eyes were the deep, angry blue of a winter sea" - this creates a really vivid image and I loved the part about him waking up and wanting his sword. Pesky vikings with a temper - yay. And I second houndrat, more sexy Danes please :D

  3. loving this new book! your images are so beautifully drawn and, as always - your dialogue flows so well.

  4. Really loving this one so far! You have some great lines in it - His eyes were the deep, angry blue of a winter sea. Awesome!

  5. Oh, I cannot WAIT to read this. Lyrical and fascinating. The conflict you've set up here sounds like it's going to be a doozy. :)

  6. the eternal romantic in me wants the Dane and the Mistress to get together! LOL!

    LOVE this! Great lines, dialogue (which sounds very historically correct), and tension! Nothing beats the annoying wanna-be suitor!

  7. Lovely dialogue! It flows really well.

    As Dystophil can attest, I love description. I want more. You've probably described it all before this point, but a little about the emotional states of the characters, their body language, and you'd have it made.

    Great stuff! Though I'd check on the beer thing. I could be wrong, but I thought mead was the big thing way back when. >_>

  8. Thanks, everyone! I really wish this story wasn't demanding my constant attention when I have a pile of drafts to polish, revise, etc.
    Thanks for the suggestions, Jen. I'll work that in during the revisions.
    Beer and ale were both available and made in many households. They were 'everyday' type drinks. Angharad wasn't going to waste good mead on that slime ball! :D

  9. I love this, Fire. The dialogue is snappy and the historical detail is fascinating. Also I like the attitude Angharad is packing! I'm a huge fan of snarky, no-nonsense female protagonists. Great work. :)

  10. This is great, love the characterization you have set up here, good stuff! Keep it coming!

  11. Ha! The detail I most enjoyed was the straggly yellow mustache. Why is it dark whiskers can be so sexy, but make them straggly, and in particular yellow, and that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

    Nice job, Sue.