After much waiting and rechecking of arrangements, the grooms men were assembled. Bolly was the ringbearer and would march in with the bridal party. We four boys stood behind Karl and Rudolph. Karl it seems was a cousin to the King and therefore related to the regent as well. In any case he was held in high regard throughout the regent’s court.
The string ensemble struck up the music and all the guests stood and the groomsmen all turned to the main doors of the grand hall.
Ingrid wore a fairly simple dress with a tiara and veil. Flowers were woven into her carefully braided hair and she looked like a Viking princess from a painting. There were ladies I didn’t know walking with Ingrid carrying her train, Valla and Bolly brought up the rear as flower girl and ring bearer. Valla melted my heart with her beauty. Her dress echoed Ingrids, though her tiara was of flowers and not silver and jewels.
“The regent signaled for everyone to be seated and began the ceremony. There was a long preamble and then the vows. It was a long build up to exchanging the rings, and Bolly did his part as instructed. He held up the cushion to the maiden of honor who took the grooms ring. He then offered Rudolph the bride’s ring. At the regent’s instruction the rings were exchanged. Karl placed the bride’s ring on Ingrid’s ring finger and Ingrid did the same with the groom’s ring. Then it was time for the lifting of the veil, and the formal kiss that signified the joining and consummation of the married couple.
That was the signal for the ensemble to begin playing, while the wedding party strode sedately out of the grand hall. Karl and Ingrid disappeared, as Rudolph chatted with the bride’s retinue. Valla grabbed my arm and insisted that I escort her to the reception hall which was the grand ballroom. We would all be seated at the main table with the Regent and Lady Iris. She was originally from England, and had to work very hard to learn the Danish language. Almost everybody at court spoke some English and quite a bit of French.
Valla insisted that I sit next to her and my brothers elbowed me and giggled.
When I excused myself to pee Rilla and Bolly came with me and Rilla asked if mine was the next wedding on the menu.
“Do you really think the regent who is the nephew of King Christian, would allow his daughter to marry a simple clan boy. I enjoy her company but you and I both know that can never be,” I admonished him. I gave him a hug to show I wasn’t angry and then had my piss.
“Valla really likes you Peng, she looks at you all the time. I could see her looking at you during the ceremony,” Bolly told me.
I kissed his cheek and waited for Rilla to finish.
As we walked back Karl motioned me to join him.
“It appears you have made a conquest, Valla is completely enamored of you. You may have met your own bride,” He grinned.
“I know the regent would never allow her to marry a boy from the clans. What could I offer her but work and more work?” I asked. I was on the edge of tears.
“Peng, you are no mere clan boy. You are a member of an elite household and before you say anything more there is a surprise coming for all of you. I urge you not to take any rash decisions,” Karl said to me. Then he hugged my shoulders, and told me to pay attention during the grooms speech.
“I will be speaking after Rudolph tries to embarrass me as much as possible. Don’t be angry with him, it is all done in jest and fun,” he warned.
We took our seats and continued chatting, until Ingrid came over and kissed each of us boys and Valla for doing such a wonderful job.
“I look forward to living in a houseful of boys,” Ingrid grinned.
“Is this your first wedding?” Valla asked me.
“No, but it’s the first of this type. In our clan the man and woman stand before the head man and his wife, he gives them a speech about being partners not master and slave. They must work together to increase their lot, and bear as many children Yggdrasil sends. Then the couple drinks beer from the same bowl, and the head man’s wife binds their hands together with birch bark, sings for a blessing from the forest and it is done. Then everyone dances, sings, drinks and has a good time. I was pleased to hear the…um, your father mentioned god only in passing. I know he’s a Christian but some of them are very wordy,” I explained.
“That sounds nice, there’s plenty of time for the priests later,” Valla giggled.
At that time things were changing, the old mixture of pagan practice coupled with Christian rites was falling away and religion was becoming more rigidly defined. Divisions were forming between old Christians and new Christians. It really depended on the synod, as to how strict the teachings became.
Finally everyone was seated and the speeches began. The regent was quite brief, he spoke of how happy he was that two such wonderful people had allowed him to seal their union.
Rudolph stood and told slightly risqué stories about he and Karl’s cavalry days. One was about the lengths Karl would go through to avoid the camp followers. Another was about Karl nearly being captured by enemy scouts, but he turned the tables on them with a clever horse and took them captive instead. The men must have been fools because they carried a map with them to find their way back to their headquarters. As a result Karl’s cavalry troop captured a dozen high ranking officers, including a field marshal.
Then it was Karl’s turn, he spoke of his days away from home, and all the people he had met whose lives were better now for the king’s and the regent’s edicts. Rural people would no longer be abused by monks from a foreign church. Then he spoke of his fine assistants, all but one of which agreed to accept his patronage and apprentice to him. He bade us rise and identified us each in turn. I looked around and Valla was glowing at me.
“The regent has issued a decree by his right and conferred upon Ingrid and I the parentship of all these boys. They will be given our family name, and raised as our sons from this day forth. They will no longer call me master but Father instead. I am glad to welcome them as my sons, and Ingrid has told me she feels the same. Please join me in raising your glasses to my five sons who are more precious to me than any golden trinket,” Karl requested. The hall erupted in cheers and toasts of Salut and Skoal.
I was in tears, we all were. Bolly alternated between holding onto me and Olaf. We hugged and wept together. It was a gift we could never hope for. Now all we had to do, was live up to it and deserve it.
And that’s what I told Karl, “I will work very hard to deserve this gift. Thank you seems like hollow words in the face of such a kind act,” I lost the ability to speak and just hugged my new father. The others joined me and Ingrid joined us as well. No one else intruded and Valla watched with flowing eyes. Now I knew what Karl had been talking about. He had granted me and my brothers a higher station at the regent’s command.
“What is our family name then Father?” Bolly asked.
“You are all members of the Christiensen family now. The worries that you had earlier, do they still haunt you?”
“No Father,” I managed to squeak out.
Eventually we were all calmed down and dry eyed and it was time for music and dancing.
My mother had taught me to waltz, and a few other simple steps, so that when Valla drug me out on the floor I was able to keep up. I even danced with Ingrid for a short while and then Olaf, Rilla and Kiva cut in. They couldn’t dance, but they avoided stepping on Ingrid’s feet and that counts I suppose.
After the reception was done the five of us, Kristen and Edvard rode the coach back to the house for the arrival of the newlyweds.
A contingent of horse cavalry joined us and the men took positions in front of the door.
When the bride and groom arrived they raised their swords in a crossed fashion and Karl and Ingrid walked under them, as the shower of petals began. It worked perfectly and they didn’t just fall in one large clump but trickled out like snowflakes.
Our new mother and father went inside, and we served wine to the cavalry men, then they mounted their horses and went back to their post.
We boys went up and changed quickly to working clothes, and went out to help Edvard with whatever was needed. When we were done we were careful not to bring the stables in with us and entered through the kitchen and were greeted by delicious aromas. First was the pork roast that simmered in the oven and next were fresh ginger snaps and several other good and tasty things that simmered away on the stove top.
“Oh my, what a herd of boys we have here,” A woman’s voice called out.
“I am Samilla and I am the new cook here. You are the boys that live here, yes?”
“Yes ma’am we are. We are all apprentices to our um …father.” Rilla offered.
Well you should probably get cleaned up and see to any duties you have need of completing. I’ve been going through a lot of firewood today perhaps you could fill the woodbox?”
I sent Kiva and Olaf upstairs with Bolly to start washing, while Rilla and I went out and brought in a good supply of wood.
“We usually do that every morning but today was a bit different,” Rilla offered.
“Yes, I suppose it was, it was quite a wedding wasn’t it?” Samilla asked.
“Yes it was, I didn’t see you at the reception did you leave after the ceremony?” I asked.
“Yes, Helga could only watch things for a short while. I’m glad the regent was not long winded like some of the pastors can be,” She giggled girlishly.
I liked her immediately and Rilla was, to use a newly learned word ‘Smitten’. He missed the question Samilla was asking.
“This Magda person, I was told she was quite slovenly when it came to keeping the kitchen clean. But the stove was quite useable as it stood,”
“Oh, that’s because Peng cleaned it thoroughly before he would cook on it. His mother taught him how to do it,” Rilla explained.
“I see, well thank you Peng for all your hard work, you saved me a lot of toil,” Samilla gave us a broad smile.
“Everyone helped, and then we all helped Kristen clean the rest of the kitchen so it wouldn’t smell so bad. It took a lot of cleaning but it’s pleasant to be here now,” I told her.
“Well, take some of these ginger snaps up to the other boys, I needed to bake something to get a sense for the oven.” She handed us a cloth bag with the fresh cookies inside, and we went up to wash and change clothes.
Once we were cleaned up and dressed in everyday clothing, we went down and thanked Samilla for the gingersnaps and introduced Kiva, Bolly and Olaf to her.
“What handsome boys, I’m so glad to be here. In the palace I was just an assistant to the head cook,though I was able to learn some of the local dishes. I think I can improve on some of them,” Samilla grinned. She was a young woman and quite pretty. The guardsmen had paid her considerable attention during our arrival.
I stretched out on my bed and gazed at the ceiling just to get my thoughts together. What had led me here, was there something special about me that warranted this good fortune? I thought back to my first meeting with Karl, and the impulse to run as far as I could. But once I had spoken to him, I realized he was a good man and meant me no harm. It became easy to accede to his requests and suggestions. Now it all seemed so far away. Physically it was far away, we had ridden for days to return to Halla. The city was so different than anything I had ever seen. Paved streets, stone houses and brick houses with slate rooves. Even the bridge we passed over was stone. I had never thought that what I had done at the monastery was all that important. It was just the right thing to do and I was proud of helping the novices escape their bonds. I wasn’t proud at having a hand in the death of those evil men, but I accepted it as the way things were done. Those men could never harm anyone ever again. I napped a short while only to find Bolly cuddled up to me. Rilla and Kiva sat at the table playing cards and Olaf was napping after trying to read a book. None of us had managed much sleep the night before.
With the huge lunch from the reception there was not much need for dinner. Samilla would use the opportunity to brine the pork roast and season it like they do in Copenhagen. It was a two day process. Most of the rest of the wonderful smells we had encountered, were sauces to be stored for future use.
Just to be safe, Samilla made a tray of sliced ham and cheeses, and laid out fresh bread for anyone who needed to eat something. Most of us nibbled a bit, but we were mostly full from the reception.
Karl and Ingrid called us to the music room, where Ingrid played the harpsichord and Karl joined her with a lute. They had obviously played together before. Bolly slumped between Kiva and I and we let him lay across our laps.
“Once things have settled down a bit, I will teach you boys to sing a few songs and you can join us,”
“Okay boys, come kiss us good night and take your little brother up to bed. We’ll forgo baths tonight, you might drown,” our father chuckled.
We all hugged and kissed our new mother and father. It was nice to have a mother again, but I thought of my own mother and wanted to cry. Was I being disloyal to her?”
I stripped Bolly and had him pee, then I plopped him in my bed since he would probably end up there or one of the others before morning.
The four of us talked about our new situation.
“It’s a wonderful thing, but I also feel guilty about it. I still love my parents even though they are in the next life,” Kiva uttered.
“I feel the same way, my mother was so kind and loving. It seems wrong to replace her but she is in the next life with father while I am here. Do you think we should talk to Father about this?” I asked.
Olaf couldn’t speak, his eyes ran with tears and I pulled him into me and held him.
“My parents weren’t very kind, they fought a lot and we did most of the work. Bolly tried but he wasn’t much help. We were hungry much of the time. I always made sure he ate first. We went foraging during the day when we could get away and found eggs and berries and other things that didn’t need cooking. I learned to snare, catching birds and hares so the hunger stopped but it was still troublesome in our little hut.” Olaf shared. “I’ve never told anyone this so please don’t tell others.”
“No one else needs to know,” I declared. “We are brothers, we are here to share our joy and our pain. My mother was my whole world, when she died the world grew darker. I slowly began to enjoy things again, and the herding kept me away from my father. He began drinking too much of his own liquor as things got worse at our farm. The last season he was alive, hardly anything grew in the fields. Only barley and I ended up harvesting that myself. Winnowing grain by yourself is pretty difficult, but I found a way. I sank two poles in the ground and tied the sheet to them, then worked the grain that way. The barley and what meat I could dry took me through my first winter in the hut. I feared the monks, so I gutted the house of anything useful. They did come, and I hope they were angry that there was nothing there to steal,” I chuckled.
“I think we should tell Mother and Father about our feelings, they may have some words that will help us reconcile what we feel,” I suggested.
My brothers agreed and we went to bed now that we felt able to sleep.
I dreamt of my mother, she urged me to embrace my new family and love my new parents. She promised that she would always be in my heart. I woke sobbing and just let it out. I hugged Bolly to me like some sort of doll and wept. He slept like the dead and never stirred.
The next day we sat down with Father and Mother and explained about how we were feeling.
Father embraced us all and told us, “We don’t want you to stop loving your parents that have passed, we only offer love and support now that you are here. We offer you a home and kindness. You boys have each earned happiness. You are each of you, wonderful young men. I notice the things you do that are not your responsibility. The things you do are for the good of this family and I want that to continue. We will help you become fine men and the only thing that has changed is your birthright. Your futures are whatever you can make of them. I plan to help you be successful in whatever field you endeavor,” Father told us.
“And it is my hope that you will be good examples to your younger brothers and sisters as they come along. We plan on a house full of children, and you may help wherever you choose,” Ingrid said sweetly.
There wasn’t much to say, we hugged our new parents and tried to stop crying and eventually we succeeded.
“Now then, You all return to school tomorrow. Peng, I will go with you and enroll you. They will test what you already know, and find the places where you need to catch up. I hope the multiplication drills we’ve been doing are bearing fruit. I’m sure you will be a fine student. I suspect your language skills will impress them. You write and speak well and probably better than some of your peers. Some of the boys will be friendly, some will be obnoxious. It’s the nature of boys. If you must fight anyone, do it away from the school. None of you are hot heads and I doubt you’ll have much trouble with the other boys. But there are always one or two that like to be tough. I suspect you will be a surprise to them Peng,” Father told me. “There are only three months of school left this year. But that doesn’t mean you will stop learning over the summer. There will be time to play and time to learn.”
Once your schooling commences Mother and I will leave on our honeymoon. We’ll be gone two weeks and then we will begin again in the workshop.
With that we sat down to our first breakfast from Samilla. There was porridge of course but also kippers, fruit and fresh bread.
“Ah, these are Kipfili rolls, I remember these from my visit to Poland. They smell wonderful don’t they?” Father said with boyish inflection.
After breakfast we did whatever chores needed doing and had the rest of the day to ourselves. So much had happened in two weeks I could scarcely believe it. But we overcame that and went in search of fun.
We struggled up a fairly steep hill and found an amazing sight at the top of it. Several older girls danced naked in the sun. Their breasts jiggled, as well as their bottoms while they frolicked and rolled in the soft grass. They were very pink and quite lovely and I felt my kuck straining in my trousers.
“We should go, this isn’t right,” Bolly declared in a whisper.
“He’s right, we wouldn’t like it if they spied on us at the river,” Rilla pointed out.
I agreed and we edged back from the brow of the hill and picked our way down.
“Those girls made my twig get hard,” Bolly exclaimed.
We stopped for a pee and that helped a little, but when Bolly went to sleep we would seek more permanent relief.
We completed our roaming and ate our lunch along the way. It was just bread, ham and cheese with a few pears but it was wonderful. We met a nut vendor on the way home and bought hot salted nuts. I was surprised how cheap they were. But salt was regulated now and the price was low. The gouging the monastery was doing was enough to have them all banished. Everyone must have salt, it is a necessary element of life and without it, people die. In the forest clan the salters followed grazing herds for the location of natural salt deposits. They were careful not to take it all, they harvested as much as was needed in a season and no more.
That evening we put Bolly to bed and then enjoyed ourselves with the images of those naked girls dancing through our minds.
We were all awake early and dressed in our designated school clothes. Your clothing needed to be light enough to bear wearing a black robe and a strange looking hat. It looked like an inverted bowl with flaps that covered your neck. Everyone wore the same thing during classes. I would spend my day with various teachers testing my knowledge of their field. It turned out my math skills were not as lacking as I thought. One teacher asked me to divide a number and I didn’t understand so he explained it to me in simple terms. It was basically multiplication in reverse and I did well except where borrowing was needed.
My penmanship was judged quite good, as well as my ability to read. I had been taking advantage of the library at home with Father’s permission and read several books. Even a copy of Homer’s Odyssey in Dansk was no particular challenge. Dansk and Norsk were virtually indistinguishable. At the end of my testing, I was led around to meet my new teachers. They were the only teachers I’d ever met, since all I knew was learned from my mother and father on the farm, and then what I’d learned while in Karls company. When all was said and done, I was ahead in literature and only slightly behind in math. If I applied myself I would catch up to my age group quickly. They placed me in a regular class instead of with younger students. I had studied Karls globe and his atlas, I had a good grasp of geography but I had catching up to do in sciences. Although I did know how to retrieve nitrates from dung and urine. We used them to make firelighters, which we bartered for other useful things. With flint and steel you could turn damp twigs into a cooking fire in short order. You only needed to wait for the fire to return to its normal color before cooking on it. The nitrates made the food taste odd. Overall I was quite pleased, I had expected it to be a much more grueling ordeal, but I had learned more than I thought. I also knew things that they didn’t teach in school. Even a private school like this one didn’t tell you when the deer were in estrus, or when the hares would be dividing into new warrens and clans. Knowing when the does were in estrus could save you getting gored by a buck in rut. In rut a stag would take on a bear. Few bears would challenge them. I learned the difference between skunk and wolverine musk. Wolverines let out musk when they were agitated leading to the myth that they stank all the time. They went unseen and unsmelt most of the time. But my knowledge of woodcraft wouldn’t earn me a good mark in maths or science. My ability to write about it would help me in literature. The only class I ended up sitting with younger boys was English. It was almost incomprehensible to me until I started recognized certain words. I guessed that they came from our language and others. There were even Sama words in English. Roebuck and Hynd being two.
It only took two days for me to encounter a bully, we agreed to meet away from school and several boys including my brothers came to cheer me on. It was a short fight. I walked away with blood on my shirt, but it wasn’t mine. Brundt wanted to humiliate me before we fought, so he said rude things about my mother all the time holding his fists up like he would punch me any moment. So I swung with my left and hit him in the jaw, my right fist connected with his nose and flattened it. It began to gush blood and Brundt ran away with his handkerchief to his face.
The others were silent for a few moments then cheered and rushed to pat my back and shake my hand.
“No one has ever done that to Brundt, usually he insults people punches them once or twice and loses interest. You really showed him. I bet he’ll be bruised tomorrow and he’ll have two black eyes,” some of the boys speculated. I walked home with my new math book and my brothers worrying what Father would say.
“Hmmm, better go see Kristen about that blood, she might be able to get it out before it sets in to the cloth,” Father told me.
I rushed off to find Kristen, and explained what happened. She pulled out a bottle from a cupboard, then daubed a bit of the contents on the blood drops. They began to dissolve instantly when she ran cold cistern water over them and they disappeared.
“Aaah, vinegar, witch-hazel and herbs, and it does so many things,” Kristen giggled.
In the morning we bade Mother and Father a good journey, while watching their carriage getting smaller as the driver guided it northward.
After dinner Father had pulled me aside and told me that I was right to do what I did. Brundt would think twice before he picked on another boy. He was over a year older than me and much bigger.
I found Brundt in the cloakroom alone and told him we could be enemies or he could stop being a bully. Either was fine with me, but if he ever challenged me to a fight again, he’d get more than a couple of taps.
He agreed to stop being such a fool, and offered his hand. I shook with him and we went on about our day.
I never had any more trouble with Brundt and his two black eyes and purple jaw were warning enough to the lesser bullies. There were still fights but it was over a disagreement and not undeserved torment. The afternoon fights often amounted to nothing more than clearing the air. Only the serious insults led to actual fighting. Those that did actually fight, often boxed like hares and little harm was done.
I rose quickly in maths as I gained more understanding, with the help of my brothers. In turn I helped them with penmanship and reading. We studied the geography lessons together. We all benefitted from the group approach. We were all stymied by English, but slowly we got the hang of some of it. Though without true English speakers to converse with, it was difficult to get a grip on. So many words meant the same thing, while some other words could mean many other things. Bolly was really benefitting from group study. His math teacher would put him ahead in the next term, because numbers lay down like maidens in a field for him. Bolly still talked about the girls we saw dancing and rubbed himself as he did. Perhaps he was ready to join us in our evening rituals.
Olaf wasn’t sure but he decided that it should be up to Bolly. So one evening after he mentioned the girls again we asked him if he wanted one of us to rub it for him.
“Really, will you do the other things too?” Bolly asked.
“You know about that?” Rilla asked.
“I’m not always as sleepy as you think I am,” he grinned mischievously.
“Who do you want to rub it for you?” Kiva asked.
“Peng, would you do it for me?”
“Of course Bolly, I would be honored. I pulled him to me, with his back against my chest and grasped his twig. It had turned into a genuine kuck, though small it felt rigid and meaty in my hand. I stroked him as I would myself, he giggled and squirmed for a few minutes, then his whole body went stiff as he felt the first of many wonderful feelings.
“There is something that feels even better than that, would you like me to try it on you?” I whispered in his ear.
He nodded and I picked him up and put him on the nearest bed, placing my mouth over his still rigid kuck. It didn’t take long for the second explosion to happen, he trembled at the sensation.
“That was so good, did any of my seed come out?” Bolly asked.
“No you’re too young for that yet but you can get the feeling so you can play with us if you want,” I explained.
“Can I taste you?”
“Only if you taste all your brothers. It’s part of the initiation and then we will give you our seed on your face,” I told him.
The four of us stood together and starting with Olaf. Bolly swallowed as much of his kuck as he could manage, getting a good taste. Next was Kiva, then Rilla and finally me. His hot little mouth felt tight around the head of my kuck, and he used his tongue to touch as much as he could.
“Did you like that?” Olaf asked.
“Yes, and you all taste and feel a little different. Can I see the seed now?” Bolly asked impatiently.
We gathered close to Bolly with our kucks only inches from his face. We stroked ourselves in the usual manner and all shot at nearly the same time. Bolly’s face was covered from his nose to his chin.
He began to stick his tongue out and lick up what he could reach. I licked a big dollop off his cheek, offered it to him and he took it and sucked my tongue. He wanted more so after his face was clean he sucked Olaf, and Olaf sucked him. He got the full benefit of Olaf’s seed, then did the same with Kiva and Rilla. Then it was my turn and I gave him my best suck. The others agreed I was really good at it. I licked his little bag of stones and twirled my tongue around his kuck until he squealed as his feeling hit. He was a little weak after that but not for long. He wanted a turn with my kuck and a taste of my seed. After watching him suck the other three, I was quite ready to explode and Bolly didn’t disappoint. He tried very hard to get more than half of my kuck in his mouth. His efforts had the desired effect and I fed him well. As I went soft he let go and smacked his lips like he’d just had dessert. I sat on my bed and held him as he started to get sleepy.
“Can we do this again?” Bolly asked.
“Yes brother, we will do this again,” I said.
Bolly yawned and yielded to the arms of sleep. I pulled him into my bed, while the others dimmed the lamps and went to bed too. But first they came to my bed to exchange kisses.