A small town is transported to an alien world
"Everything is prepared sire, and your presence is requested by King Thongar," Ragnar stated, bowing low to Monday.
"First off, don't call me sire and never bow to me," Monday replied, anger heavy in his voice, "second, what does King Thongar want?"
"He is waiting at your long house to officially transfer the property and title of Bjorn to you. The place has been cleaned in accordance with your wishes."
"Anything I need to know," Monday questioned Heinreich, "about their laws or taboos? I wouldn't want to screw everything up by saying or doing the wrong thing."
"Just follow my lead," Heinreich replied, "If I give you a signal, that means we need to talk."
"When we get there I want to talk with Thongar in private with you translating before we do or say anything else," Monday stated, looking at Heinreich with a grin on his face.
As they entered the long house it was obvious the place had undergone a major transformation. Gone was the awful smell, the chickens and pigs, and new sawdust had been sprinkled on the floor scented with pine and other unfamiliar but pleasant odors. The roughhewn tables had been cleaned and the benches draped with clean animal skins. Thongar sat in the center behind the long forty foot rough cut table, a hint of anger on his half-drunk face. There were approximately a hundred people in the long house, others trying to see in through the two doors spaced along its length.
Before he settled his party down at the table, Monday motioned to Heinreich and Thongar that he wished to talk in private and pointed to a corner of the house sectioned off from the rest and used for sleeping quarters. They spent at least half an hour in the back room then returned to the long table. Doctor Prestano and General Zanik threw him a quizzical look as he returned and sat on the right hand side of Thongar, Heinreich to his left. Monday motioned for his team to join him at the table.
"On with it!" yelled Thongar, pointing to a warrior who was acting as his adjutant.
The warrior walked to the center of the table near Thongar and unrolled an animal skin. He read from the skin for a long time, occasionally stopping to gauge the reaction of Thongar who looked at him with a bored and disinterested stare. Heinreich continually interpreted what the adjutant was reading. It was a full accounting of all recorded property of the late Bjorn, and a detailed listing of those warriors who had made alliances with Bjorn. Upon finishing the adjutant turned to Monday and asked him if he accepted the accounting. Based on Heinreich's nod he said yes. The adjutant then turned and asked if there were any challengers to the property or the title. There were none, whereas, he turned and bowed to Thongar.
"You are officially number two man now," Heinreich stated, "no warriors dared to challenge you for your title."
Thongar stood and yelled something to the crowd. Immediately, eleven people were ushered into the crowded room. There were three males; a young boy and two teenagers, and eight females; two young ones, one older one, and five in their late teens.
"The family of Bjorn," Heinreich whispered.
"What do I do with them?" Monday whispered back.
"You must accept them as your family or they will be sold into slavery."
"Hell," Monday spat back, "I don't need another family, I've already got a big enough one as it is."
"It's either that or to the slave collar for them," Heinreich replied, "no in between."
"What do I do if I accept them?"
"They're yours. Treat them as you would your own family."
Monday looked over at Dom with a "help me" look on his face. Dom simply shrugged and smiled back at him, eagerly scratching an uninvited pest on his chest.
He looked closely at the family again. The mother was probably in her mid-thirties, still very beautiful for a woman who had given birth to ten children. The boys were all good looking, the eldest throwing him a glare of defiance, and the girls were all blond hared, blue eyed, and beautiful, one slightly on the plump side. He knew he had no choice but to accept them. He didn't have the power yet to change the Viking's way of life and eliminate slavery completely. Besides, the youngest one who looked to be about seven years old was looking at him with the cutest smile he'd ever seen.
Thongar turned and addressed Monday.
"Do you accept this family as your family?" Heinreich translated for him. Monday replied that he did.
Thongar then stated that the law was binding and the gods were happy, at which the entire room let out a great cheer and heaping platters of food were brought in along with jug after jug of green ale.
Monday signaled for the wife of Bjorn, his new wife now, to join him at the table. She gave him a shocked look then glanced at Thongar who growled something to Monday.
"It is not customary for women to eat with the men," Heinreich stated, "They only have the right to serve the men, in more ways than one," he finished; sure that Monday had understood his meaning.
Monday motioned for her to come and set across from him and enjoy the meal. She hesitated at first, and then shyly took a seat that Dom had prepared for her between him and Dhar.
"We have our customs also," Monday replied, motioning that Heinreich should translate for Thongar. "One of those customs states a man and his wife will share their meal together with their family, any objections?"
Thongar simply grunted, laughed, belched, and then continued to eat with a smile on his face. He liked this bold but silly new warrior. The woman continued to look at him with a cautious appraising stare. She took small portions of the meat and cheese and chewed them slowly, acutely aware that she was also being observed.
"What's her name?" Monday asked Heinreich. "How do I address her?"
"Her name is Daria," Heinreich replied, "and she has no title other than the wife of Lord Monday."
"Where do the children eat their meals?"
"They eat as they get hungry, usually wherever they're at. If they're with a friend they eat there, if they're near a relative’s house, there, and so forth. Children never go hungry, someone always feeds them. The children of the slaves have it much worse though, they're lucky to get a meal once every other day."
"Seems kind of odd sitting around a bunch of rowdy Vikings and drinking green beer," Chief Kendricks stated, looking at Dhar who was fidgeting and constantly looking over his shoulder. "I think Dhar feels a bit out of place."
"I imagine you do too," Tom Thumb pointed out, "you're the only black guy in this entire neck of the woods."
"You got that right white man, when do we get out of here Top?"
"Heinreich and I made a deal with King Thongar," Monday said, "as soon as the time is ripe we'll announce it to everyone." He signaled to Dhar in quick sign language that he was excused to go and find the two Ionar scouts they'd dropped off along the river. Dhar looked at him with a sigh of relief and thanked him in sign language as he hurried from the room carrying a thin skin filled with meat for the scouts in his arms.
Ragnar approached and asked if he could sit in Dhar's empty place, next to Daria and Dom.
"I'm happy you joined us Ragnar," Monday said, "I want to ask your opinion of something and I want you to get the opinion of Daria here also."
"By all means sire...., Lord....., what do I call you by?" he stammered, at a loss.
"Just call me Monday, or if you prefer my friends call me Top."
"Yes Top, I am honored."
"Colonel Doenitz and I have talked Thongar into mounting an expedition to the east to locate the home of the enemies that have been kidnapping and killing the Vikings," Monday said. "We want it to be a small expedition, large enough to scout and take care of itself, but small enough to escape detection if necessary. Heinreich's Executive Officer will take his men back to my settlement to join us before we leave on this expedition. My question to you is this, what should I do with the possessions and family of Bjorn and how do I handle the men who have sworn oaths to Bjorn, now to me?"
Ragnar scratched his head, and then translated what Monday had said to Daria. They spoke back and forth for a long time before Ragnar finally turned back to Monday.
"Daria says it is impossible for her to stay here without you, therefore, she and her children will accompany you to your home. The slaves are yours to do with as you please. Remember though, if you free them and leave them here, they will be claimed by another warrior as soon as you leave. As for the warriors who have oaths to you, they must do as you say or challenge you in the circle and this I am sure none of them wish to do. The property you may sell, give away, or take with you as you please."
"Thank you Ragnar," Monday stated, smiling at the nervous man, "you've given me good counsel. This is what I want you to do," he continued, pointing out that Ragnar should translate for Daria. "If I and my party took the time to return to my settlement it would take more time than we can safely afford. It is urgent that we find the people who are enemies to the Vikings because I am certain as soon as they have discovered my people in our secluded little valley, they will attack us also. For that reason we will leave from here on our expedition to the east. Do you understand me so far?"
Ragnar shook his head and took time to translate for Daria.
"Heinreich's second in command, Major Dienst, will take his battalion, with the exception of a few select men, back to my settlement to join us. Heinreich will accompany me on the expedition. In view of this potential threat, Doctor Prestano will return with Major Dienst and explain the situation to our government, and fill them in on all the details concerning our encounter with your people, the Vikings. Now, this is the important task I entrust to you Ragnar,” Monday spoke slowly looking the man in the eyes. "As my number one man you will take the two children, Jimmy and Talia, my new family, and all the slaves I own, back with Major Dienst and Dom to our settlement. Once the slaves are there they are to be set free. Dom will handle it for you. I have no doubts they'll be adopted into the American families there. Tell Daria, and I mean no disrespect to her or to her children, that if she wishes to seek a companion of her choosing when she arrives at our settlement, I release her from the marriage bonds imposed by Viking law since they are not our laws."
As Ragnar translated the last bit to Daria, she looked at Monday with a hint of anger on her face and threw the meat she was eating down on the table then said a string of angry words to Ragnar in a bitter manner.
"She asks why she is not good enough for you." Ragnar translated, "she is a proud woman Top, and she expects you to fight for her honor to be your wife."
To his left Thongar laughed loudly and spilt beer down the crotch of his pants.
Monday looked at his team with a plea for help, but received nothing but humorous grins.
"You made your bed, now you've gotta sleep in it," General Zanik said, trying to keep a straight face. "Literally I might add."
"Tell her,” Monday said, realizing these people had a code of marriage far different than his own, "that it would be a great warrior indeed who could take her away from me. I only suggested that if she could find such a warrior, I would readily fight him for her honor."
After Ragnar had translated this last statement to Daria, she looked up and smiled a bright smile to Monday then resumed eating her meal.
Monday turned to Thongar who acted as if he had every intention of getting thoroughly drunk, and said in a low voice which would not carry far. "It's still early in the day, King Thongar, we must prepare our expedition," he finished, pointing at the other Viking warriors who were guzzling beer as fast as they could get it. "This is not the time to over indulge in spirits," he added.
Thongar growled then belched at him, giving him a look of someone who'd spoiled the party. He then climbed on top of the table and yelled for silence. He explained in detail the expedition plan that he and Monday and Heinreich had agreed upon. He would send ten warriors with the expedition under the command of Monday, preferably not from among those men who had oath debt to him. He explained that the Americans, as Monday called his people, invited the Vikings to join his people in an alliance against their common enemy. He also explained that any Northlanders who wished to change their way of living, to abide by American laws, were welcome to join the Americans in their settlement where they'd have much greater protection against their enemies, advising them the Germans had elected to settle with the Americans. These laws, he stated, would be explained to all near the battle circle by Ragnar if they were interested. He ended the speech by stating that he would not give up his way of life. He did not mention how he had been persuaded into this alliance.