Posted by: sabrinageek on May 30, 2011
My name is Angharad. I have been known as Angharad Wyth, and now am known as Angharad of the Blackthorne Caravan. I am a witch. I was born to loving parents from the line of druids that lived and worshipped the old ways on our island. I was born off the Kingdom of Gwynedd, on the Island of Môn, on a small coastal village in the early 9th Century (834) – the Y Llu Du call it Bretland; I was marked early in life by red hair and favoring my left hand. I was always curious and loved to learn all that I could be taught. Mother’s father was one of the druids on the island, and he taught me as he had taught my mother. He and my mother taught me the ways of herbs, healing arts,the tuatha, music, and reading in Latin and Welsh. I was marked by a scar when during a teaching of the harp, a string snapped suddenly and cut a small gash in the back of my left hand, scarring me. This is how I earned the name Angharad Wyth, Angharad the left-handed and clumsy. Also, my father taught me the ways of steel and fishing, as he was a blacksmith and fisherman of the coast.
In the summer of my 18th year, Viking Raiders, the Y Lllu Du, landed on our shores and destroyed our small village. Our homes were destroyed, our possessions stolen for gain, and those that fought capture were killed brutally by these Black . Those that did not die or allowed themselves to be caught were taken as slaves. I was captured, and though I fought back, my youth and red hair were exotic enough that I was not killed. Many other women were captured by this black host that day. My father tried to fight back but was slaughtered, and my mother was killed when she fell by his side.
I was taken aboard their long ship as a thrall, a slave in their tongue, and we prepared for the journey North across the seas to their native country – along the way I was clothed in their manner of dress, as the weather and seas got rougher; the crew and the captain had their way with me as they did all the other female slaves they had captured from my village. I made the mistake of fighting back the first time one of them tried to take me sexually and only received a vicious beating for my troubles. My anger became a living thing in the pit of my stomach. I was able to gain some small respect and fear as they revered women practitioners of the art in their culture, and I was able to demonstrate my own abilities for them during our journey. I was able to use this to prevent any further violations, and I decided that no man would ever have me again. Eventually we arrived in the trading sea port of Birka, (Björkö) where we were to be sold to anyone with coin enough to buy us.
There, another captain, this time of a ship of Varangian Rus, took fancy to me and my reputation as a witch, (as well as my fiery spirit that could not be tamed, only subdued temporarily) and purchased me along with a few other girls to be his ship’s concubines, to cook for his crew, and to trade as they made their way along their trade routes to the foreign lands in the South. We sailed to Nyenschantz (St. Petersburg) at the head of the Neva River, and then began to sail inland towards the Volga river, these raiders treating us little better than the last, save what little respect I had, my slavery fueling the demon within me as I watched and waited for an opportunity for freedom, or barring that, revenge.
Eventually we made our way to the Volga river and sailed towards the Caspian Sea. We made port at the Southernmost coast of the Caspian beaches and set up camp. The Silk Road traders passed along the coast of the Caspian Sea on their way to Cairo and Constantinople and apparently we were a regular stop for them. The Silk Road traders would trade for slaves and other goods with their silks and spices, which the Varangians would then take back up the Volga.
Once camped on the beach of the Caspian, these black heathen captors placed us for sale as slaves; It had been seven summers since I was taken by those Norsemen from my home. At the auctions, I attracted the attention of a dark skinned woman who desired to start her own caravan of traders; she had just made her way from Cairo and was heading back towards the east along the silk road. I was made to display my skills as bard, my tales of the black heathens, my knowledge of latin, gaelic, and norse language for all to see, and apparently this woman decided I could be useful to them. When she looked at me though, I could feel other things in her gaze; she felt powerful, and things seemed to swirl behind her eyes. The bidding for me went on through midday, although the strange dark lady's quiet confidence never wavered. Eventually the bidding was over, and I was to go with her as part of her new caravan. She showed me wares of the other merchants and traders from foreign, exotic lands where rocks that sparkled in the sun and clothing in colors of the sky and of blood are common.
During that 25th summer, I told this woman of my history, my capture at the hands of the raiders on my home, my abilities as a healer and my burning hatred of the men who had caused me such pain that I never wanted to be with another man again; She seemed to understand my words, and my tale, as no one else had. We travelled East across deserts and mountains and became close during that time. I was able to use my talents as a healer along the journey, and even made coin through making herbal remedies and beaded jewelry, enough to buy my own freedom. Once we reached our destination in the East, I approached the leader of our Caravan to ask to buy my freedom. One night on a buying trip to trade spices for silks and gemstones for brass, after making camp, she pulled me into her tent and I asked to purchase my freedom. She seemed to know that this had been coming, and as I had been useful to her on the journey (in more ways than one), she instead gifted me my freedom from slavery. She also presented me with a choice. I would be free to remain with them as part of their caravan, adding my skills to their trade, teaching those as I travelled and speaking with those I could, or I could go my own way in the world. As I had spent so many summers of my life away from my home, I had no real idea of which direction my home lay, or if it even was my home anymore. I still desire to punish the wicked and the violent, especially men like those that violated me and my home, however, my past is almost beyond me now. I have changed from the young girl I was when the raiders first loaded me onto that ship, to now, when I have regained freedom and respect in a new land from people that are like me. Why should I throw that all away?