Elvina had lived with the lie for almost nine years. Everyone in her Saxon village believed the Viking, Tyr Staerk, had raped her in the byre. When Staerk’s own brother betrays him by handing him over to the Saxons, who immediately throw him into a deep, filthy pit, Elvina admits the truth in order to save his life. How quickly they fell in love, but she knew Staerk had to leave England and return to Denmark. Only then could he exact revenge by killing his brother.
His father wasn’t the only one bound for fresh shores. Staerk intended to return home to his village before nightfall, but Burr saw fit to thwart his plans and he carried it out with the aid of six other men loyal to him. They set upon Staerk, late that afternoon, delivering crushing blow after crushing blow that knocked the senses out of him, leaving him unconscious.
When the sun set, Staerk came to his senses only to find himself tied up on the deck of a longboat, bound for England. His protests fell on deaf ears, for it seemed Burr had already formulated a plan. Burr wanted him out of the way, and there was nothing Staerk could do to stop him. A few days later the boat moored in a small cove, a short walk from the Saxon village that his father had ordered him to return to. However, Burr and his Viking warriors did not loot the village or take slaves, as they had done years before. Instead, they presented Staerk to the Saxon woman who acted as head of the village whilst her son, the thegn, was away.
“We have brought you a gift, Saxon,” Burr declared to the woman.
Hands tied behind his back, Staerk glanced at the sour-faced woman, and the next instant Burr attempted to shove him towards her. However, being heavier, Staerk stood his ground. “Burr, you disgust me. You are a barbarian who shows no family loyalty.”
“You refused a dying man’s wishes. You are not family to me anymore,” Burr snarled, taking out his broadsword.
Staerk stared at the gleaming blade. “You would use that against me?”
“Aye, for I would see you suffer,” his brother barked.
Staerk attempted to dodge the blade, but suddenly the hands of Viking warriors clamped down upon him, holding his body still. “Brother, you would not stab me like…” Staerk hissed in pain, feeling the ferocious burn as Burr’s sword slid through his leather tunic and sliced deeply into the skin at his waist. As the warriors let him go, he dropped to his knees, cursing the damned brother who had deliberately taken his mail coat, with the clear intention of stabbing him.
“So, this is how you treat your own brother,” the woman declared.
“This is Staerk, son of Olaf Thurstan. You will know his name, I am sure,” Burr said.
“I am Aldora. Olaf Thurstan threatened to slit my husband’s throat many years ago.” She spat in Staerk’s face and kicked him in the chest. “All here know what this Viking did to Elvina!”
Staerk fell back, landing upon his bound hands which dug into his spine. His eyes remained on Burr who now smirked with obvious satisfaction.
“So, he is yours now. Doubtless you will kill him,” Burr declared.