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It wasn’t the gargantuan size of his chest that was the most intimidating, his imposing stature which stood two heads above my own, nor the writhing and coiling back that had to come in through the door sideways. Although these were certainly being used as a statement, they were after all why he had ‘really’ decided to come into the room bareback, despite “the heat” being used as an excuse. No, it was the fact the he had decided to enter alone and unarmed a room full of armed men ready to negotiate tribute, it was a way for him of saying ‘you are no threat to me and I know it.’

Although, for a lack of arms his own where quite impressive. Unflexed, as thick as my own neck and, despite this, every single muscle seemed defined and independent in the impressive interlocking mechanism of power that descended from his shoulders. Last I had seen him, he had been armoured and afar, where I had watched almost two dozen men fall under his feet. Now I was the one standing closest to him and I had just caught myself granting admiration to my enemy’s body. I closed my mouth and tried to look menacing.

Hrólfr was losing his patience “we just can’t pay you that amount,” stated His Majesty King Charles. At this the Viking slammed his fist into the wall with a force that made the room shake. We drew our weapons, but we took a while. A small, imperceptible while longer than usual. I side-eyed his majesty, half questioning, half begging. tuzla escort He returned a quick look in understanding.

-Please, we do not want more bloodshed than there has been for the last few days. We can certainly promise to pay you the amount you solicit, but just give us some time.

-And what assurances can I get that you’ll honour your word?- Or that’s how I interpreted his broken Frankish.

-Well…as a token of our good faith we can safely say that we will not interfere if you choose to go upstream and raid the lands to the south…

-I doubt you would interfere anyway.

-As well as an additional sum above that, totalling 700 lyres. Please. Let. Me. Finish.

The Dane seemed to calm down, his swelling muscles seeming to relax a bit. We sheathed our weapons.

-I would like a surety.

-Well certainly, but I’m not sure you will find…

-This one seems important to you- he said pointing his enormous hand at me -I will take him.

Both we and his majesty shared a concerned look.

-Sir Gozlin de Lorraine! Why on gods earth would you like to take him? I’m sure we can find a better option…

-I don’t trust you’ll pay if I take someone else here. Will return him to you when we meet for your payment, in the meantime he lives with me. Deal? We shall go and leave you in peace?

I was more a statement than a question. At the same time the sun göztepe escort passed directly behind Hrólfr’s vast back, blocking the sun from His Majesty’s sight. The king looked at me with sad guilty eyes, I gave in with a downhearted consensual look.

“Yes…certainly, we have a deal then?” His Majesty outstretched his hand, but Hrólfr just grabbed me by the neck with a force I had certainly not felt before in any man or animal. I panicked on the inside while at the same time I saw my countrymen visibly relax at the realisation that they wouldn’t have to fight the single unarmed Viking in the room. Half pushed half dragged I was led outside by that monster, two enormous pectorals, each the size of my head, bobbing as he led me to his ships. He seemed to explain the agreement to his men in his language, to which they cheered. These men were mostly fair-skinned and dark-haired. Although nowhere near as gigantic as my captor their burliness still made me feel rather small, thick corded ropes of muscle also covered the back of their arms as they helped load what they had looted. I could see quite a few veins straining through woollen shirts as they carried heavy objects. I caught some of their names in the flow of conversation: Harald, Áki, Yngvar among others, but I was unable to converse much with them yet. Only Hrólfr and Áki had any mastery whatsoever of Frankish. I had just a few hours until I said goodbye üsküdar escort to my land for who knew how many months. I stared longingly into the horizon, trying to take it all in. At which point I felt the immense force of my captor’s hands on my padded shoulders, where he spun me around and looked me in the eye. “Now let’s see what you are like,” he said and grabbing me by the collar lifted my helm to reveal my face. My fair hair fell to the sides as he did so. He seemed surprised, pleased even. “Pretty,” he muttered “I like it.”

What did he mean by that? Did he like to have pretty servants around to stare at? What kind of heathen freak was this!

He took my chin and turned my head, examining it critically from both sides, he then made me look into his stormy-green eyes, holding my helm on his right palm. “Just in case,” he stated matter-of-factly, still staring me down, the individual hairs on his beard visible on his chin “just know that I won’t tolerate a single attempt to escape, if you even try, you and your country…” at this his fingers squeezed my helm and a horrible screeching noise ensued as the metal was crumpled like paper under the power of his fist! I almost blacked out, stars appeared in my vision, but I managed to barely maintain my balance. The muscles on his forearm twisting and flexing, exerting pressures that I could only attempt to imagine. In the end, the piece of equipment had almost entirely disappeared inside his hand. He took mine and placed the hunk of warm steel in it. “That’s so you won’t forget,” he said, and went on to help with the organization of the cargo, leaving me shocked in place and staring blankly at the crushed piece of metal.

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