Edrich of Haluken

Chapter Fourteen

As soon as a decent hour arrived, I went calling at the palace.

“I’m sorry but Valla doesn’t want to see you,” the maid told me. She handed me a note from Valla instead and stood by.

“I’m only joking, Minna will see you to the upstairs drawing room, Love Valla.”

I was glad that I didn’t have a strong reaction when the maid gave me her message.

Minna opened the door and Valla ran to me.

“You could break a boy’s heart with your jokes. You had me wondering what I’d done,” I scolded her cheerfully.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t consider how you might react, you wouldn’t throw yourself off the bridge if I meant it would you?” Valla asked.

“No, I would probably take myself off to the border and disfigure raiders until I had forgotten you,” I teased.

“You would start a war over me?” Valla gasped.

“Wars have been fought for less,” I told her.

“No! you wouldn’t do that, you respect the King and Father too much to drag the country into a war just because some girl refused you,” Valla grinned.

“I suppose not, but spare my heart from your girlish pranks. I can’t live without your love Valla.”

“Then why haven’t you kissed me?” Valla demanded.

“I thought you should be punished a bit for what you did,” I countered.

“Have I been punished enough?” Valla wheedled.


I stepped forward and kissed her in a manner that should have left no doubt in her mind as to the depth of my feelings for her.

“I’m sorry for toying with you, I’ll never do that again,” Valla whispered in my ear before returning my kiss.

We agreed to take a ride and she was granted permission. I went to the stables to saddle her a horse.

We found a quiet little glade and dismounted. We were stripped down within twenty minutes and I kissed and licked every inch of her perfect body. I tormented her little button and she rewarded me by crushing my head with her thighs. Her scent had changed since she had become a woman but it was alluring and I devoured it.

Valla claimed her turn and now it was I who writhed with lust  and ecstasy. If I hadn’t let off some of the pressure with Rilla she might have drowned.

Once we were relaxed we talked about ordinary things. I told her about what we saw in Haluken and what their prospects were. “By the time we move to the area, Haluken could be a city,” I told her.

“We also have to have a place in Oslo from what Papa says,” Valla replied.

“Yes, I will have duties with Parliament from time to time. It will have to be big enough to entertain guests and offer hospitality. And of course my secretary will need sleeping quarters.

“Secretary?” Valla asked.

“Yes, a man with the same unique skills as Emil. Since I am a Viscount I will be subject to assassination the same as your father and mine. I won’t risk leaving you widowed out of pride. In addition to Swedes, now I have certain Estonian faction after me for helping to thwart their attack. There will probably be others,” I explained.

“Yes Father mentioned that situation. You should know, I’m not completely defenseless. I can handle a rapier or sabre and Father has taught me both the bow and the pistol. I can shoot a crossbow also,” Valla said proudly.

“I’m very glad to hear that. Women and girls in the clans can handle a bow, knife or axe as needed. It makes less noise that way. I’ve learned the pistol too, but I prefer weapons that can be silent or nearly so,” I acknowledged.

“Thank you my love,” Valla smiled.

“What for?”

“For not saying that swords and axes were for men alone. That is the general attitude of town and city men,” Valla explained.

“Then they are fools, would they have their wives and children defenseless if brigands come calling? In my experience, women can handle much that is considered the men’s realm. But I can’t work on them at the moment, once I take control of Haluken valley I will make it clear that women are equal. I will do what is necessary for them to own land even if they are unmarried. And this notion of riding side saddle is preposterous. A runaway horse would easily shed a rider who was mounted in that manner,” I went on.

Valla grinned at me and I realized I was practically orating.

“I’m sorry, it’s just …those are things that have always bothered me. If I have daughters I would want them to have equal rights to men.”

“Did you find a place to build a home for us?” Valla asked.

“I found three sites that meet the requirements. Lief will survey them and write me a report. Then you and I will visit each one and decide. I wanted land with river access so that a wheel can drive our water system and perhaps a workshop. Water wheels can be used for many things,” I told her.

“You’ve already told me you want to use local materials except you said something about the roof.

“Yes, I was thinking sheet lead or copper. It would have to come up from Oslo but the road has been improved and the freight men can make it through more easily than ever. The copper will be more expensive but it will last longer and over time copper develops verdigris which is a lovely green oxidization of the metal. I think it will look nice against the stone and timber,” I explained.

“I can almost see it myself, do you think Father will let me go there with you?”

“If we invite your mother along to make suggestions, I think he would agree. He knows we’re in love and he told me he trusts me not to do anything that would disgrace you,” I told her.

“I think you’re right, we should clean up and eat our lunch, I still want you to put your kuck in my bottom, but not right now.

We had our lunch and enjoyed a leisurely ride back to the palace. I made sure to see Lady Iris before I left.

She informed me that Halkar wanted me to join him and Father in his chambers. Iris was as warm and welcoming as ever and we chatted a bit before I attended to the summons.

“I don’t think a medal is appropriate for me alone, everyone was fighting the attackers, I did nothing more than that. The men on horses routed them and chased them into range. The only men who weren’t actively trying to drive them off were the men surrounding the royal carriage. Instead, I would recommend a small medal for every man in the cortege,” I protested.

“So something on the order of a regimental campaign medal except it would be for Royal and Palace guard,” Halkar acknowledged.

“Yes My Lord, I don’t mean to down play the importance of defending the King, You and Father. But it is our job isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I will send a letter to the King and we’ll see what his thoughts are,”” Halkar agreed.

“Were there any new developments with the two surviving Estonians?,” I asked.

“Not a great deal. From the looks of things they aren’t well organized and their government thinned them out quite a bit. We will send them home and let their own government pass judgment on them,” Halkar informed me.

“I suppose I’m on their list now along with you and Father,” I sighed in resignation.

“No more so than any other guardsmen. But as always keep a close eye on your surroundings,” Halkar said.

“How did you locate Emil? I mean, what was the process for finding someone of his skill and mindset,” I asked.

“Observation mostly, Emil has worked in the palace for many years. He retired from the guard with a back injury. We gave him a position here checking out the background of palace staff, verifying letters of reference. Then I expanded his duties to check the dealings of court visitors and their servants.  He’s discovered more than one courtier with dubious connections either to foreign governments or illicit activities here at home. He was already skilled in combat tactics and knife work when he joined the guard. I suspect a roomful of men my size would have a tough time getting the best of him. He’s taught me a few useful things for close combat if needed,” Halkar expanded.

“I can see the need to determine just who is entering the palace and who works here. Perhaps there may be a need to examine the past of others but I don’t know where you would draw the line,” I replied.

“True, I don’t want a dark watch prying into everyone’s personal habits, just the ones that could be a problem for my family’s safety and mine,” Halkar observed. “And by extension yours.”

“Should I speak to Emil about finding someone of his talents?” I asked.

“I think that’s an excellent idea, better to get it from the source,” Hakar agreed.

“I shouldn’t need one until my sixteenth year, I’m afraid that I only know I was born in winter, near the beginning of the year. My birth wasn’t registered at the monastery or with the magistrate. Our midwife might know if she still lives. I will ask about her when I return to Haluken,” I resolved.

I had much to ponder on my ride home. School would begin in the next week and though we had several breaks during the school term only two were long enough to return to Haluken. There was a week and a half in Oktober that was meant as an autumn festival but you could spend it as you pleased. Father and I had already discussed returning then. After that winter would make travel unpleasant for weeks at a time.

The next was a full two weeks beginning at the end of March. I would discuss the details with Father and Lady Iris about visiting possible building sites. It would take years to build what I had envisioned. My nest egg had grown. My monies from the monastery business had been invested and I had the funds to build the finest home in all of Haluken valley.

I had a lot to discuss with Father and Mother.

Once school began and after our fame died down a bit and the others realized we weren’t any different than last term, things settled in.

Rilla began to get the handle on several languages. His French matched mine and his English surpassed mine. English has too many ways of saying the same thing to my view. I was still ahead of him in German. I thought I might want to try Finnish if the opportunity arose. Most of the Russians I would find myself speaking with, were fluent in French in any case.

Olaf was making strides in science and math. I helped him through exponents and it helped with his steam experiments. He had based his steam pump on a design by Archimedes. I contemplated where industry would be if Archimedes hadn’t treated steam as a lark for making interesting toys. Olaf was also studying water wheels and turbines. He believed there was a way to put a large metal pinwheel inside a pipe and have it drive machinery more efficiently. He had built a model out of brass and demonstrated it in class. It was the same idea as a windmill except with water. Later he had trouble scaling it up to useful size.

We all learned the geometry of gears and pulleys and I found several uses for them. I decided my first task was building a lumbermill near my home site. Wherever I put it, I felt a village would spring up around it. By then I had a very nicely done map including rivers and tributaries. The surveyor and cartologist had scoured hamlets and villages for information on areas that flooded and which streams went dry and when. That narrowed our home sites to two. I wanted a water source capable of driving a wheel.

When Oktober came Father and I, Rilla, Kiva and Olaf all rode to Haluken and surveyed my remaining choices. I formed a favorite although the other was just as buildable as the first. My choice was based on arable land nearby and water sources for the lumbermill.

The topography of both home sites was similar so one design would work for either site.

We rode into Haluken via the Halla road. The pavers were very even and I put it down to precision in construction.

Once we were checked in to the inn I went in search of some of the people I knew. I was looking for the midwife that had birthed me. She had passed on but Barcha had taken her place and kept all her books of live births. There I was, the last day of December almost thirteen winters past. The notes indicated I was an easy birth and very healthy and a bit more than eight lispund in weight.

The mine was in full swing and the smelter was almost complete almost a third of a league up the mountain. The road followed an old game trail and ore carts delivered their loads to a huge slide that placed the ore in piles for loading into buckets to feed the smelter. Plenty of coal had been stock piled and the crusher hammers were doing a good job on the raw ore. There was less rock being hauled up to the smelter. After a few days observation we began the ride home.

It was a quiet ride home, no trouble on the way and we found comfortable beds along the way, wherever we stopped. There were more hamlets springing up because there were more travelers taking the road to Haluken and Oslo.

Our first visit to the palace upon our return was interesting. Halkar had been asked by the king to correct some inequities in representation in the Regis parliament. Places like Svalbard were not represented at all and Oslo had too many representatives.

“I have been thinking about that problem on a smaller scale. Haluken is growing, there is a council forming but I want to assure that the clans and farm people have an equal voice. I am thinking to combine them at least numerically so that we can give them proportional representation with the town business owners. I mean, they aren’t without leverage. If the farmers are unhappy they could hold back crops and create a shortage. Bringing it from elsewhere would be expensive. Father and I will address their first meeting in spring. I hope that Valla can accompany us along with Lady Iris and see potential building sites. I have narrowed it down to two that are equally accessible,” I mentioned.

“So you think you need a chaperone?” Halkar smiled.

“I don’t, but Valla should have someone you can trust with her besides my father and I. I hope she can be allowed to go along,” I explained.

“I suppose it would be better for appearances and it’s not the first time the subject has come up. Her mother and I have discussed it and we both feel that a trip together would do you both good. I hope you’ll speak with them about it before you leave today.

I left Father and Halkar chatting and sought out my Valla.

I found her in her studio cleaning brushes. She wore a smock over a plain dress and still looked beautiful.

After kissing her hello and accepting her greeting, I asked if she could break away and come talk with her mother about a trip.

“Mother, do you have time to discuss something with Edrich and I?” Valla asked.

“Certainly my love, what did you want to discuss?” Lady Iris smiled.

I explained about the building sites and that the school holiday at the end of March would be the best time to let Valla see what was on offer. I explained about water power, arable land and all the details that would make a thriving community rise from a simple lumber mill.

“I suppose it would be appropriate for me or some other adult woman to accompany you. I trust you both but for the sake of appearance I should join you, and I would love to see where my daughter will be living. You know your father will insist on a contingent of guard to accompany us,” Iris smiled.

“Well I can’t change Papa, and it’s just him being careful. Edrich has been helping me to analyze situations and get at the meaning of behavior that I never understood before,” Valla explained.

“Well, that’s a good thing to learn. It can reduce the conflict in your life when you understand why people are doing what they do. And now I have a question for Edrich, is it true you don’t approve of women riding sidesaddle?”

“That’s true, without a leg on both sides of your mount you could be thrown easily. The notion that riding astride will ruin a girls chances of marriage is ludicrous. I have spoken to healers and physicians and they all agree that it’s unlikely to occur. Also, if a woman or girl has both feet trapped in the stirrups of a side saddle and falls she’ll be dragged along on the top of her head which could be fatal,” I explained.

“I suspect you’re right, how do rural women ride?”

“Same as a man, riding horses isn’t common in Haluken but riding donkeys is and without a saddle you need both legs to stay mounted. Riding horses is growing in popularity in rural lands. Farmers are doing better and that allows for animals to be used for transport only. Buying an extra saddle just for a woman to use is impractical to rural folk,” I explained.

“But mainly you’re saying it’s a safety issue?” Iris asked.

“Well yes, if a horse gets spooked it might bolt and run through hedges or close to trees. If that happens to a rider in a sidesaddle, she could be knocked off or worse dragged,” I confirmed.

“I will bring this up at the Lady’s Equestrian society meeting and I’ll bring the court physician with me,” Iris announced. “If the doctor supports your claims then I can convince the ladies to dispense with the practice. It’s terribly tiring and  uncomfortable.”

“Why don’t the two of you go have a walk in the greenery, unless you have pressing business elsewhere Sir Edrich,” Iris suggested.

I offered Valla my hand and we walked out together. It might be one of our last sunny days for the year, the weather often turned in mid Oktober.

But that day was quite nice and we strolled through orchards of fruit trees. The trunks had all been wrapped in sackcloth in preparation of cold fall weather. They were all going dormant and looked rather feeble without all their leaves. Near the edge of the orchard we sat on a large tree stump and kissed for a while.

“I was dreaming about our children last night Peng, have you ever thought of names for your sons and daughters?”

“Only one, if I have a son, I would like to honor a boy whose life was stolen from him, I’ve told you about Edgar before and part of me cannot let him go. I can’t really explain it. I didn’t know him long, but his memory lingers. He was such a kind thoughtful boy and in spite of what had been done to him at the monastery, he had only one wish. That wish was to reunite with his mother and get her away from the miller’s wife. So I would want to name a boy after him,” I sniffed.

“Oh Peng, you are so sweet, I think it’s a fine name. Edgar must have been a good soul for you to care about him so much,” Valla soothed.

“He was, if ever anyone was deserving of happiness it was Edgar. And there is a name we will never use for our children, Magda was the name of the woman that killed him and Father’s drunken cook. I still blanch when I hear the name spoken. She was very cruel to my brothers and she was a terrible cook. Other than that, no other names are unacceptable to me,” I assured her. “If we have a girl perhaps Evangeline might be a possibility. A first born daughter might be of help to you when we have more children,” I observed.

“If all our children are like you in temperament, it won’t matter, they’ll all be helpful and loving with their brothers and sisters,” Valla smiled.

Valla winced suddenly and hugged her stomach.

Are you ill?” I asked.

“No, it is just a cramp, it is my time again, I will need to go in soon and prepare for this. Could I have a taste of you before I do?” She asked.

“I can’t deny you that, isn’t there anything I can do to please you?” I asked.

“A mouthful of your tasty seed is all I need.”

We were in a secluded spot and all the orchard work had been done, I put my coat on the ground to keep her knees and dress clean and let her do what she wanted. I hadn’t had a release for several days and that was while I was sleeping.

Valla performed extremely well and my release was substantial. Quite a bit escaped and I used my hand kerchief to wipe the residue from her face. None reached her dress and she was neat and tidy as we walked back to the palace.

“I always feel guilty when you pleasure me without any reward,” I told her.

“There’s no reason to feel bad, my breasts are sore and my quim is so irritated right now it wouldn’t be pleasant for me. I love the taste and smell of you and I don’t keep a ledger of how many times I have pleased you. You always make me feel wonderful when we are together. You can have a try in a few days,” Valla smiled.

We made our way back to her studio and she showed me what she was working on. It was a painting of a large house on a promontory with a weir and a waterwheel nearby. It was her concept of the house design I had shown her.

“The architect told me it was a fine design but I would have to pitch the roof a bit more or the snow would cave it in. He also told me that some of it could be mitigated with a clever roof heating design that worked off the chimneys that would be sending out hot air anyway. He said there was a way to warm clean air with the chimney heat and then circulate it in the attic under the roof. He called it heat exchanging,” I told her. “I will still need to raise the roof line and make it steeper.”

I rolled out maps of the two building sites and gave her an idea of the terrain around each.

“To be honest Peng, I have no idea what I’m looking at. Which is closest to Haluken?” Valla admitted.

“Both sites are within a short riding distance to Haluken,” I explained. There will be a sawmill  nearby, but not so near we can hear it. I will equip it with the best saws that are available, even if I have to design part of the mechanism. Construction of the sawmill will begin in spring, Stonework on the house will begin at the same time. All the structural lumber will come from our mill. There are thousands of hectares of grey oak, there are other species for furniture and trim. All efforts will be focused on building our home,” I informed her.

“How long will it take to complete?” She asked.

I estimated pessimistically so I came up with two years. That allows for shortages of either material or labor. Once the shell of the house is built we’ll have to decide how it is finished. We will consult with the architect and the carpenters and make a plan for décor,” I told her.

Lady Iris searched us out and looked at Valla’s concept of our home.

“It’s basically what I sketched in a more refined form. There may be changes such as roof pitch and how the house is sited. I know it’s meant to be a grand home but I would like to keep it cozy and warm for Valla and our children,” I explained plainly.

“Children are a long way off, but planning a home that makes them comfortable and safe is a good idea. I suppose you already have a list of baby names?” Iris nudged.

“I could think of only two that I might like. Valla can give you her list later,” I smiled.

“I’ll be sure and discuss it with her,” Iris grinned at me.

“I must be going, I have work to do at home and in the workshop,” I told them.

I gave Valla a nice kiss and hugged Iris before I walked down the stairs.

I didn’t take a direct route home I stopped in to see Aksel and see how he was doing.

“Peng!, it’s nice to see you here. I haven’t seen much of you at school lately,” Aksel grinned.

We walked up to his rooms and talked for a while.

“I’ve been traveling with Father, we had business in Haluken. But now we’re home and ready to go back to work,” I told him. “How is your ankle, is there any lasting damage?”

“My ankle is excellent, it’s like I never got hurt. But I’ve learned to be a lot more careful when doing my stunts. I think your therapy helped quite a bit,” Aksel grinned.

“Oh? Which therapy?” I grinned back.

Aksel put his palm on my lap and squeezed my kuck. It was still plump from Valla and responded quickly.

“Can I return the favor?” Aksel inquired.

“I stood before him and he swallowed me. I moved my hips and was less reserved than I was with Valla. I don’t know why but I reached my orgasm quite soon and Aksel swallowed every drop.

I had him stand in front of me and just as I was about to suck him in there was a knock at his door.

“Mother want’s you in the parlor, Mrs. Vastan is here and want’s to ask you a favor,” Seiva announced in a snotty voice.

“Damn, I was looking forward to this. Maybe next time. I don’t know how long they’ll keep me down there,” Aksel lamented.


“Find me at school and we’ll meet up somewhere. Away from there. Your sister sounds like a harpy, is she really that bad?” I asked.

“All three of them are like that, since they’ve gotten their monthly visitor it’s been worse. They all seem to get it at the same time. I just lock my door or go elsewhere when that happens,” Aksel chuckled.

“I’ve been told that happens when women live under the same roof. I never knew if it was true though,” I told him.

We hugged and I walked down with him. He saw me out and I rode away.

I worked my way back towards the main boulevard and passed by the wainwright’s shop. His anchor chains were installed and there would be no further incidents from his shop.

I stopped for peppermints and licorice. I also bought lemon and ginger drops for Mother. Father didn’t care for sweets but he liked almonds so I bought some of those.

I nibbled licorice on my way back home and passed out the small bags to each brother. I handed the drops to Mother. She was still very active but also very heavy with child. I reminded myself that there were two boys in there and hoped they liked the drops.

At home I shared what Lady Iris had said about the trip and we discussed time frames.

“The only obstacle I see is if your brothers are late coming into the world. I won’t leave before they are safely here. I was thinking of someone to take my place, just in case your mother needs me here,” Father pondered.

Well Halkar has insisted on guardsmen to accompany us. Perhaps Jørgen will join us. Do you have him doing anything at that time?”

“He should be available about that time, and I will give it some thought and perhaps find another if he’s unable to go,” Father said.

“I think that would be best, you should remain here with Mother even if the babies are born in time. You need to hold them and let them know who you are. If we can get Jorgen or someone equally skilled, then there should be no reason for you to be separated from your new sons,” I pronounced.

“You’re still convinced it’s two boys?” Father asked.

“Yes, I trust the midwives and if they say it’s two boys, I believe them. There’s only four and a half months left before we see the proof,” I reminded him. “I felt them in there right away, the midwife only verified what I smelled and felt.”

“I think sometimes you’re sensitive to things that city people are not. I will trust your senses Peng,” Father smiled.