Alda, the heroine of my first novel, The Cross and the Dragon, shares her thoughts with me on the eve of Francia’s invasion of Hispania in 778, even though we have a language barrier. I speak American English; Alda speaks Frankish and Roman.
Why do you prefer Hruodland to Ganelon?
Hruodland is a good husband. Not only is he fond of me; he respects me as well. He doesn’t deny me anything. He likes a woman who understands politics and the importance of good defenses. He was willing to protect me from Ganelon, even before it was his duty.
As for Ganelon, God blessed him with good looks but not a good brain, and his heart is as black and twisted as a spent log in the hearth. If we had wed, I would have been at Ganelon’s mercy, and he has no mercy. The marriage would have cost me my life or made me a murderer.
Are you still afraid of Ganelon?
When the king ruled that my betrothal to Hruodland was valid, Ganelon swore vengeance. My family thinks he has forgotten it. After all, he married another woman of noble blood. He was gracious to my kin at the spring assembly in Paderborn last year and did not give me even a hard look.
But I learned that his wife died. He said the Lord took her after she gave birth to a girl. Something in his manner tells me it’s not the complete truth.
What do you fear?
Losing Hruodland in Hispania. I keep thinking disaster will strike.
Why did King Charles decide to invade Hispania?
At the assembly in Paderborn, three emirs – Islamic noblemen – asked for my king’s aid to overthrow the ruler of Cordoba, even though he is a follower of Muhammad like them. They said he is seeking to expand his realm beyond the Pyrenees and said that his subjects would rather have a godly Christian king than someone from an ungodly and corrupt family. Winning this war would give us access to trade routes as well as more iron for our swords and armor. And we must consider that Church in Hispania is under Islamic rule.
My Uncle Leonhard argued that we shouldn’t get in a fight between Islamic factions. He might be right. I had a bad feeling when I heard them make their request, and I cannot shake it.
Why are you having a premonition?
It goes against all reason. God has granted our king victory against the Aquitainians, the Lombards, and the Saxons. So why would He not grant us victory this time? Hruodland thinks it’s my humors. But he is having nightmares, and I fear they might be an omen.
I gave him my amulet so that he would have the protection of the dragon’s blood in its stone, and I will pray for victory every day and give alms.
Where did the stone come from?
Drachenfels, the mountain where Siegfried slew the dragon. It is across the Rhine from my birthplace.
As he lay on his back in a trench, Siegfried knew he had but one chance to slay the beast. If his blow was not true, he would be sprayed with venom. He stabbed the monster in its underbelly as it passed over him and then bathed in its blood. The magic made him invulnerable. Almost. Except for where a leaf fell on his shoulder.
The mountain’s rocks hold the magic of the dragon’s blood, and I can feel it in my amulet.
Originally published June 1, 2013, on Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews.