Chapter OneTHE OUTLAW GOAT
A sudden gust of wind whipped between the mountains,
lashed the water into waves, and caught Briana
O'Toole's reddish blonde hair. With one quick motion Bree
swept it out of her eyes and turned to face her new life.
Just then a swell of waves lifted the end of the Viking
ship as it rested on the shore. Moments before, this ship
that brought Bree from Ireland had sailed through a long,
narrow waterway to this settlement in the mountains. Now
sunlight shone on a waterfall spilling over a high rock wall.
Then the sun shone on the blonde hair of a tall woman
standing beside the water. Seeming to forget everything
else, Bree's enemy, Mikkel, leaned forward.
The moment the Viking ship touched shore, he
leaped over the side. By the time he touched the ground,
the tall woman stood before him.
Mikkel straightened to his full height and tipped his
head in respect. "Mamma" he said.
"Son," she answered. A tear slid down her cheek.
"You were gone so long; I was afraid."
"I know. But I am here." Relief filled Mikkel's voice.
"I am home."
A flash of envy, then anger, filled Bree's insides. Home!
she wanted to spit out. Mikkel is home, but I am not! On a
summer morning late in the tenth century, Mikkel had
planned the raid that brought Bree and others from
Ireland to the Aurland Fjord. Sometimes Bree wished
Mikkel could be a friend. Other times she felt angry
about everything he did.
As Viking sailors set down the ramp, Bree looked into
the crowd gathered to meet the ship. There she saw a girl
with sandy colored hair, brown eyes, and a dusting of
freckles across her nose.
Who is she? Bree wondered. Why do I think she's someone
The girl looked too thin, as if she had been sick. Yet
she had to be at least eleven, perhaps twelve. As people
streamed off the ship, Bree lost sight of her. Then far up
on shore, Bree saw her again.
A long single braid hung down on the girl's shoulder.
When she tossed it aside, her eyes lit with laughter. Bree
knew that motion, that look of poking fun at something
serious. Could it possibly be?
Across the distance their gaze met. The girl's mouth
formed a round O, a gasp of recognition. The surprise of
it shook Bree to the center of her being. It's my sister Keely!
One year younger than Bree, the two had been close
friends as well as sisters. Then six years ago Vikings raided
the monastery near their home in Ireland and stole Keely
away. In a similar way, a more recent raid had brought
Bree on a Viking longship to this fjord.
Filled with excitement, Bree pushed her way toward
the side of the ship. Maybe there's a reason I was captured by
Vikings. Maybe something good will come out of it.
In that instant of hope Bree could see herself bringing
Keely home to their family. She could imagine Daddy
and Mam and each of her brothers and sisters hugging
and kissing Keely. Tears would come to their eyes and
stream down their cheeks.
Keely! Yes, it has to be her!
But the girl turned away. A tall Viking stepped in
front of Bree, blocking her view. Filled with panic, Bree
tried to get around him. By the time she reached the side
of the ship, the girl was gone.
Bree felt sick with disappointment. It was Keely, she
thought. I know it was Keely! But if it was, why did she turn
away? Why did she act as if she doesn't know me?
I'll find her, Bree promised herself. And somehow we'll
In the next moment, Mikkel turned away from his
mother to face the Irish captives.
"Stop!" he called out. When two Irishmen pretended
they did not understand, Mikkel held up both hands.
Instantly other Viking sailors formed a line across the
shore. No Irish prisoner would pass through that line
until the men told that person where to go.
In despair Bree looked around. Here, where the ship
had landed, rock walls gave way to a valley. Green fields
lined the river flowing through that valley. Close to the
river was a line of houses. But nowhere could Bree see the
girl she believed to be Keely.
Now, like it or not, Bree needed to begin her new life.
But first she wanted to say good-bye to the Irish friends
she had made on board ship.
Standing to one side, Bree looked for them. When Lil
came near, Bree caught her new friend in a hug. "Courage
to win," Bree whispered.
As Lil's gaze met hers, Bree felt a shock of surprise.
Only two weeks before, this younger girl had been afraid
of her own shadow. Now Lil lifted her head and crossed
her arms on her chest in their secret sign. "Courage to
win, Bree," she said softly.
"Wherever you are, you will be all right," Bree
"I know." Lil's eyes shone. "And you also."
Bree swallowed hard. "Mikkel said I'll be his mother's
slave. I'll watch where you go. We'll find each other."
When they walked down the ramp, Lil was ahead of
Bree. Mikkel motioned Lil toward a sturdy woman with
kind blue eyes. Standing there, Bree watched to see what
happened with each of her special friends.
As a girl growing up in Ireland, she had always longed
to travel. Often she had climbed the mountain near her
home to gaze through the mists and wonder what lay
beyond the Irish Sea. Yet in the days since leaving Ireland,
Bree had begun dreaming about her new quest-being
home again with her family.
Again she thought of her sister Keely, of walking up
to their cottage, opening the door, and shouting, "Surprise!"
Again Bree let herself hope. If Dev comes, and Keely is
Ever since being captured-since watching Mikkel
release her fourteen-year-old brother, Devin, on a shore in
northern Ireland, Bree had clung to one hope. One year
older than Bree, Dev had always watched out for her. If
Dev could, he'd be here now, a bag of ransom money in
his hand. When Mikkel boasted about his father being
chieftain of the Aurland Fjord, Dev had learned how to
But now a tall slender girl headed toward Mikkel.
Like many of the people standing on shore, she was also
blonde, but her long thick hair fell down her back, nearly
reaching her waist.
As she swept forward like a queen before her subjects,
the girl's gaze went from one Irish person to the next, and
then stopped on Bree.
The girl turned toward Mikkel. "Who is this?" she
asked, her voice sharp.
"Well, Gee-nah," Mikkel drawled. "What a way to
welcome me home."
But the girl named Gna paid no attention. "Who is
she?" she asked again.
Mikkel looked uncomfortable but only said, "One of
Stepping forward, Gna reached out her hand and
tipped up Bree's chin with one finger. Bree backed away.
The girl followed, saying, "Look at me!"
Bree lifted her chin, but the girl's finger stayed
beneath it. Bree had all she could do to keep herself from
opening her mouth and snapping her teeth around the
finger. If she had her way, the girl would be hollering with
Instead, Bree opened her eyes wide. Without blinking,
she stared at the girl with her meanest look. The girl
Mikkel laughed. "You've met your match, Gna. You
can't beat her down."
"No?" Gna turned on him, and the coldness in her
eyes became a fire in her face. "You think I can't. I've
never known a person who hasn't learned to bow before
Bow? Bree asked herself, then realized she had spoken
Gna whirled on her. "So you know my language too.
You will do more than bow. You will grovel in the dust of
the earth before I am through with you. You will be my
Bree straightened, threw back her shoulders, and lifted
her head. With the same movement, she turned slightly
from looking at Gna to Mikkel. No words passed between
Bree and Mikkel, but in that moment Bree knew he
"No, she won't," Mikkel said.
Gna stared at him. Even Bree felt surprised at the
strength in his voice, but it was Gna who spoke. "You
A flush of embarrassment crept into Mikkel's neck,
then into his face. But when he met Gna's gaze, there was
no backing down. "She will not be your slave. She will be
my mother's slave."
Gna laughed. The hard, cold sound of it sent a
shiver down Bree's spine. Then to her surprise she forgot
everything else. The bleating of sheep and bawling of
cattle drowned out the voices of families on the beach.
As Bree swung around, she saw a wide, flat-bottomed
boat that looked like a raft. The minute it came to rest on
shore, the animals started over the low sides. A large billy
goat led the rest. The billy headed straight for Gna.
"Gna!" Mikkel called in warning.
Whirling around, the girl saw her danger. Fingers
spread wide, she held out her hands to stop him. His eyes
focused on her, the goat kept coming. When Gna sidestepped
to the right, he moved with her. When she leaped
to the left, he followed.
"Help!" Gna cried, but to Bree's surprise, Mikkel
stood as still as a rock.
Gna whirled on him. "Get that goat!" she commanded.
In the moment she turned her back, the billy lowered his
head and ran straight for Gna's behind. With one good
butt, he sent her sprawling.
Trying to swallow her laughter, Bree choked. Instead,
a giggle slipped out. Mikkel slapped his leg, echoing her
glee. When Gna looked their way, both of them grew
"Uh-oh," Mikkel said softly. "We've done it now."
"Is she the girl you're going to marry?" Bree whispered,
When Mikkel didn't answer, Bree hurried forward,
offering her hand to Gna. "Can I help you up?" she said,
her voice as sweet as honey in the comb.
But Gna shoved Bree's arm aside. Slowly, gracefully,
Gna rose from the shore, brushed off her skirt, and
whirled on Bree.
"I will never forget that!" Gna's eyes sparked her anger.
"You are my enemy from this day forward. You will be my
"Ah, Gna," Mikkel said. "Don't take yourself so
"Seriously? You aren't the one knocked to the ground
by this-this-" Gna had no words for him. "This outlaw
goat, that's what he is!"
As Gna stared after him, Bree's gaze followed hers. A
short distance away, the billy goat had stopped. Looking
at Gna, the goat seemed to roll his eyes. Then with all the
dignity he could bring to the occasion, he started munching
"Yes, he's an outlaw goat, all right," Mikkel answered
in his most solemn voice. "I can see how dangerous he is."
As the billy set off again, the other goats followed.
Zigzagging their way between the people on shore, they
hurried toward green pasture near the longhouse.
"Where did they come from?" Bree asked.
"The out-farm-the summer pasture." Mikkel pointed
across the fjord to where they had loaded the animals.
"They've had good green grass all summer, but at the end
of September we bring them down. If there was snow or
ice on the mountain, we wouldn't be able to get them
Mikkel pointed to the steep side of a mountain farther
along the fjord. "See that slanted line? There's a path
for the animals to go up. That's where they come down
when summer is over."
As Mikkel talked, sheep followed the goats. Then a
cow, swinging her head from side to side, followed the
sheep, still bawling her complaint. Bree looked after the
cow and the billy now far up in the pasture. Remembering
Gna, Bree giggled.
Gna whirled around. With one glimpse into her eyes,
Bree knew. No doubt about it. Gna was her enemy.
Bree gritted her teeth. All her life people had treated
her nicely. She didn't know how to handle someone like
Gna. But I'm going to learn. Somehow I'll get along with her.
Maybe we'll even become friends.
Then Bree remembered. Being a slave would no doubt
set her apart from Gna.
With his sea chest on his shoulder, Mikkel started up
the slope toward the longhouse and farm buildings.
When he turned to speak to Bree, she sensed the change
"Come," he said, his voice impatient now.
So, am I supposed to walk behind you? Bree almost flung
out the words. The idea made her angry. More than once
Mikkel had told her his father was the mighty chieftain
of the Aurland Fjord. More than once, Bree had wanted
to spit back, "And I am a chieftain's daughter!" So far she
had managed to hold her tongue.
Now she wondered about it. If her brother Devin
managed to raise ransom money, what would happen?
Bree's thoughts scurried on. If these terrible Vikings know
I'm a chieftain's daughter, will they raise the price of letting me
go? Will they demand so much that Dev can't pay what they ask?
Ahead of Bree, Mikkel suddenly stopped.
Chapter TwoMIKKEL'S SECRET
Mikkel swept his windblown blond hair out of his
blue eyes. Turning, he looked back to the waters of
the fjord. Strong and beautiful with sleek sides, his longship
rested on the shore. As always, Mikkel's heart leaped
with pride whenever he gazed upon his ship.
My Sea Bird. Always Mikkel had called it his. In his
thinking, at least, it belonged to him. The Viking ship
had served him well.
Tall for his age and with skin bronzed by the sun and
wind, Mikkel felt like what he was-the master of a ship
and leader of a crew of men. Soon after he turned fourteen,
his father had put him in charge of this merchant
ship that sailed from the Aurland Fjord to Ireland.
In Dublin, Mikkel had traded both skins and furs.
Then he raided the Irish countryside, stealing precious
gems and other treasures. Most valuable of all were the
silver coins Mikkel had managed to collect.
Collect? Well, that wasn't quite the word. It wasn't
what his father would call it, but for now Mikkel wouldn't
worry about that. He was home. Gone were the dangerous
moments on the open sea. Here he was, safe at last.
He had even brought home valuable Irish prisoners. Soon
he must face his father and some very big questions.
My Sea Bird? Deep inside where he didn't want to
look, Mikkel wondered about it. Since his raid on the
Irish monastery, he had asked himself what his father
would do when he found out.
Turning to Bree, Mikkel saw the troubled look in her
eyes. "Where do I go?" she asked.
"I'll show you." Along the shore were the other prisoners
who had become slaves during Mikkel's raid on the
monastery. No matter! he told himself. They're only Irish.
Plenty of other Vikings do what I did.
Mikkel let a warm feeling of satisfaction fill his
insides. This, the first voyage he led, had been successful
in every way. He was coming home with his sea chest
filled with treasure. Ignoring the shadow in Bree's eyes,
Mikkel grinned just thinking about it.
But Bree did not smile back.