A tower as a protagonist?
By Sarah Dahl
This new Tale of Freya, “Tower”, is the one I spent most time and rewrites on. It started out as a straightforward erotica piece, then I decided it needs more grit and adventure … and I got lost, ending up with a half-baked novella. I reworked it several times, let it rest for long stretches, and eventually knew how to rewrite it so it would fit in my collection of sensual Tales. I kept the main characters, a young Viking called Myskia who sets out on a revenge mission to rescue the women abducted by their arch-enemey, the notoriously brutal Raven. He has to duel the enemy and then enters a strange building – one he has never seen before and which houses several surprises for our fearless warrior …
For a long time I didn’t really know where exactly my story was set and what the source of my character’s feud was. But with the reworking for the collection Tales of Freya, “Tower” needed a clearer setting, characters and plot. During all rewrites, the story always evolved around its unique and unusual setting: a round tower like those I encountered in Ireland. So the main protagonist is maybe not our young, passionate Viking, but this imposing stone structure that challenges Myskia. The history of these kind of round towers in Ireland is unclear. Their exact age is unknown as is their purpose. They could have been bell towers, they could have held crops or valuables. Who exactly built them, when, and why – it’s not proven, and therefore intriguing as a setting. Also, this unclear history gives me creative writing freedom!
I can make the building what I want it to be for my story. And in this story, after a fierce and brutal duel, I wanted Myskia to end up in a very confined space. Here he should meet his lover again, Adisa, taken from him by the enemy as a slave. How will this first encounter be, after months of their different nightmares? I wanted to oppose them like in an intimate chamber play. Give them time to digest that they are suddenly back together – and that they aren’t the same people as before. Slavery changed Adisa, in several ways. So Myskia, who came to snatch her back and run, has to find that all is not that easy. He has to use all his skills to break down the walls of our tower, and then those that have grown between him and his beloved woman.
I started out with these Irish round towers because they fascine me just as much as they are an exotic pull for Myskia – and a great setting for what evolves once he gets face to face with Adisa. I made the interior as confined, narrow and intimidating as I needed it to be. The real towers are too old and crumbling to tell what would still be authentic, and so I let my imagination run wild. In this intimate setting and with the traumatic experiences of especially Adisa, her encounter with Myskia would be explosive. In many ways.
There is sensuality, yes, but only after they go through a whole array of emotions at their sudden meeting, in a setting they’re unable to flee from: shock, realisation, denial, rage, and accusations. The tower witnesses and contains it all, with just the two of them working through it. But there is also this deep-rooted bond they still share, and if Myskia is gentle with her, me might just be given enough time to break through their mental walls and get to what is at the core of their love: trust, connection, infinite attraction, and the courage to be vulnerable. Naked in minds and bodies, no matter how battered and bruised our protagonists are after all these months of separation. This bond our couple share is much stronger than they thought. They can find back to what they once had – in a different, deeper way – but first, they have to get out of the tower alive.
Tower – Unchained by Love
(The sixth Tale of Freya)
By Sarah Dahl
From her collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking Age.
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives -- all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives.
Young Viking Myskia lands on Irish shores to rescue his lover Adisa from the clutches of his family's enemy Raven. After a fierce duel, Myskia finds himself in the confined walls of a strange tower, facing Adisa. Their reunion turns out to be very different than what he imagined. Can the passion they once shared break down the walls that have grown between them after months of slavery? Or has she changed in ways he’s unprepared for?
Set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.
Adisa’s fingertips touched Myskia’s tunic, hesitant. Trembling hands slowly pushed up the blood-soaked fabric. Her cheeks coloured more with every inch of skin she revealed.
He whispered, "It's just me, Adisa. You've done this before."
The shirt slid to the floor. She stood still. Her gaze wandered over the mud, grease, and blood on his forearms and neck. "I've never seen you like this. You look," her finger shyly traced his shoulder, "so strong when you're this dirty." Her laugh sounded incredulous.
He didn't laugh. "But you were the strong one."
Eyes closed, she ran a finger down the bulge of his biceps. A slow smile spread on her face which was now heated from something other than rage.
His heartbeat sped up. "Don't push it, Adisa …. You wouldn't want them to find us," he looked straight at her, "making love?"
Her eyes flew open, and the blush deepened. "You!" She thumped a fist against his chest. "But yes. When we're home I want you to erase him from my mind, Myskia. Replace his cruel hands with yours."
"That should be easy." He slid his finger up her scarred arms and under the fabric of her sleeves, caressing her tormented skin. Goosebumps erupted under his touch. It felt amazing. He reached out to caress her cheek. "I'll make you forget."
Their lips met, and careful, tender, sparks prickled from his mouth to his neck, lighting a fire that set his entire skin alight. He saw: The fire in her eyes had not died. The realisation made his heart jump with joy. Moulding her against him, he tipped back the hood. His finger traced the line of her neck, felt soft hair rise at his touch. "We might not get out with our lives."
A shiver ran through her. "If we don't make it back, if they catch us —"
His hands ran down her arms, grabbed her hands. "Then we'll at least have celebrated our reunion."
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts.