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Greetings to all of you. Some of you may remember me from a decadeís time ago on the Mystaran Mailing List. Iím Jacob Skytte, and I have no doubt that some of the old timers are still about, and might even know who I am. For whatever reasons, I was prompted to look at the Vaults of Pandius and came about some of my earlier scribbles, particularly the quaint The War-Journal of Bue Geirsteinson. As I read through it again, I must admit to seeing many shortcomings, but I donít know well enough to let sleeping dragons lie. Thus, I was inspired to do a little hobby writing, based on one of the, shall we say, peripheral characters of that story.

Since this is something done just for my own pleasure, and not for publication, I thought that I might as well share the story with the people who might actually have read the original one all that time ago. Now, I have to warn you that this is quite different from the heroic fantasy of the War Journal. Itís a much more mature, darker story with overarching themes of violence, sexuality and domination. Nothing that I would label too explicit, but not exactly beating around the bush either. My not too explicit might be your too explicit of course. So, if that kind of thing is not your cup of tea, well, by Odinís eye, donít read it! If the level of content should go against forum regulations, just let me know.

Being an all time fan of cliffhangers, I will release the story chapter by chapter, on a weekly basis or so. Itís planned for around 20 chapters, and about halfway done at this time. I will post it here, since this seems a fairly active place, and Iím not going back into the MML.

Girls Donít Fight

by Jacob Skytte

Prologue

The first time my father hit me, I believe I was five years old. My brothers, older than me by some years, were playing a war game, and what could be more natural for me than to participate? It was fun, wielding a stick as a mock sword, fighting my laughing brothers. I felt like, for once, I belonged. When my father came upon us, he thought otherwise.

My father was a big man. No, not just big, huge is the word. To me, he was like a mountain, firm and harsh. When he spoke, it was a rumble, like an avalanche. His hands, large and calloused, could blot out my entire vision. Seeing me there, holding up my frail stick against my brothers, his countenance darkened, and I was thrust into fear. Rightfully so, as when the stick dropped from my trembling hands, his titanic palm came down, struck me square on the side of my face. It was just a slap, but to me it was the entire world coming down on me.

At first, the shock of it blotted out any pain I felt. It made me gasp, realizing that I had gone to my knees with the unexpected force of it. I looked up at him, that unmoving giant, face contorted into something ugly, and the tears started welling in my eyes. By the time I felt the flare of pain, I was already bawling my eyes out. My brothers had moved back, uncomfortable. I was all alone in the center of the room, the father who was the wall between myself and the world, shielding me from everything, taking up my entire line of sight.

As I sobbed and wailed, his hand came back down to his side, and he bent forward slightly. I cringed, the wailing turning pathetically frightened, but he didnít raise his hand again. What he said filled my mind, that unstoppable avalanche coming down the mountain, sweeping away everything in its path. ďGirls donít fight.Ē

Chapter 1

Lessons were the essence of my childhood. From the day that my father had first struck me, my time was filled with them. As if that slap had been a signal of some kind, my days were no longer filled with carefree games and gentle sunshine. Instead, I was sent from one person to another, those who would teach me how to behave. Some looked at my burning cheek with pity, others chose not to see it. A few, such as my father, looked long at it and something undefinable, terribly frightening passed over their faces. All I could do was hang my head in shame, whoever faced me.

From where I was sitting, crosslegged at the feet of a clan matron, I could see the courtyard through the open door. Inside I was in oppressive shadow, while outside, in the sun, my brothers had their days of fun, fighting and playing their games of war. Both were old enough that they practiced with actual weapons, but even when they did not, such as right now, they still had their practice weapons to play with. Oh, how I envied them their freedom and sunshine.

ďOda, you have to pay attention.Ē At the sound of my name, I turned to the old matron. This was to be my fate then. Sewing, cooking, bearing children and teaching them the same. I couldnít do it. There had to be more than this in store for me. I was meant for greater things than this. Remembering the stick in my hands, how it had felt to wield that improvised weapon in mock combat with my brothers, I knew. Knew that the blood of my ancestors, warriors of old, would not be so simply denied. I sighed. Dreams were all well and good, but my father had made it quite clear what would happen if I werenít the perfect daughter. His mark on my cheek was very clear indication of that.

So passed my months of tutelage, taught to be a little princess, proficient with nothing more menacing than a needle or a kitchen knife. All the while I dreamed of other things and took every chance I got to watch my brothers training with their weapons. I found myself memorizing their movements, emulating them in secret with whatever tool I could get my hands on. True, I wasnít much of a warrior, but I felt like one when I swung a broom fiercely, in the manner I had seen my brothers perform.

Every now and then my father would check on my progress, and if he even suspected that I was less than enthusiastic about my studies, the hand would be there, large and looming. Though it never fell, I always cringed, brought to tears. How I hated myself for that weakness. After all, it was only the memory of one surprising slap that made me cower and whimper so. Yes, it had come from where I had least expected it, the firm bedrock of my life, and obviously that betrayal hurt more than the slap ever had, but really. What would my ancestors think of a little, frightened girl like that? How could I ever face them, when one man alone could reduce me to a trembling wreck?

Chapter 2

You might ask, where was my mother in all this? Ironically, mother had once been a thrifty and athletic woman, known far and wide as the swiftest swimmer on the island. They dubbed her Ďthe Sealí for her grace in water, a name that she proudly wore. By the time I was seven, she had born five children and was about as graceful as a beached whale. Still, the nickname stuck, and my father, Geirstein, did not take kindly to anybody questioning it, or how she obtained it.

I was the middle child, born third. My older brothers, Lot and Bue, were the pride of the family. Neither my mother nor my father ever let that be forgotten. Elsa, as was my motherís true name, could spend hours sitting by a window, watching my brothers practicing their fighting. Of course, I did the same, but for completely different reasons. My younger sister, Lis, was also a darling of sorts, doted on by all. Unlike me, she was all sweet and complacent, never a bad thought in her head. Over and over, I was told to be more like her, more girlish, sweeter, quieter. It was no great secret that my mother felt exasperated with me, and didnít care to watch over me herself.

For myself, I couldnít care less. Mother was a living example of what awaited me. All I had to do was look at her sagging breasts, her wide hips and worn face, to see myself in that exact same situation. A breeding sow for a warrior husband, confined to home and hearth forever, the highlight of my days, watching my sons grow into the men that I would never be. Perhaps I did not think it in those exact terms, but that was the gist of what I felt when I looked at her.

After my youngest brother Hjort was born, at least she was spared any further children. He was a late comer, and the midwife made it quite clear that he would be the last. As such he was even more precious to the both of my parents than any who had come before him. Seeing him in his beautifully crafted cradle, swathed in lovely quilting and tiny weapon replicas hanging by threads over his head, I hated him immensely. Why was I the only one who didnít belong? Never had I seen my father raise a threatening hand to my brothers, or my younger sister. Not so with me.

Had father hit mother when they were younger? Knowing what I did of her younger self, I thought perhaps so, until she settled down with him. From the tales that I had heard, she had been taught in weaponcraft by her father, but I had never seen her wield so much as a knife. Nobody could change so completely, give up the martial arts without some provocation. Pregnancy might have done it, but even so, she would not give everything up like that. No, I became more and more certain that father had forced her to give up arms, like he was clearly forcing me, making me into the same as my mother.

Chapter 3

My body started changing when I was twelve years old. Of course it did, it happens to every girl, but nevertheless, when I first discovered my budding breasts, the increased girth of my hips, I fell into a near panic. This was it then. My body would betray me, just as my father had, heavyhanded and inevitable. Where my brothers had developed fiercely powerful chests, I would be laden down with mounds of useless flesh. They would remain slim, only muscles defining their thighs, while my rear would turn round, my legs fill out, my hips flare with the curse of being born a woman. Every day I could feel it, inch by creeping inch. No matter if I tried to starve myself or intensify my secret training, there was no escaping my slowly blossoming womanhood.

Both of my brothers were stepping into adulthood, their training much stricter now, no longer games of war, but actual conflict. Lot, being the eldest, had already participated in my fatherís raids. Being jarl of the clan, father was a leader of men, the one calling the shots in our small community. Three, maybe four times a year, he would call the men to their longboats and set out to quell our ancestral thirst for blood and glory. Oh, how I felt it, the call of faraway places, faceless opponents, plunder. Alas, I would never be invited to one of the raids, always would I remain behind, watching, cursing my fate. My place was with the women and children, the old and infirm.

At least, when father was away on a raid, I could slack on my duties. Of course, I couldnít avoid them completely, but I didnít have to constantly be on guard for him to seek me out and make sure that I was doing my best. Bue was still at home, and I convinced him, sometimes, to show me his weapons training. If I didnít envy him so much, I might have liked him, for truth be told, he was always nice to me, and never told me to mind my own business, or attend to my obligations.

One summer day, when father had been away for two weeks, with Lot and every other able bodied man in the village, I pestered Bue long enough that he allowed me to swing his warhammer. As my fingers closed around the shaft, and my brother let go of it, I gasped. So heavy! Compared to the replacements I had found for weapons, this was so much more powerful, so deadly. As I raised the weapon, slowly, I felt my heart flutter in my chest, the weight of my ancestors straightening my back, feet planting themselves firmly on the ground. Swinging the weapon, I nearly lost my balance, but recaptured it, gasping. I felt something then, that I had never felt before. It was both a spiritual and a physical awakening of sorts.

Knowing that what I did was completely forbidden to me, both my spirit and my body reacted. For the first time in my life, those parts of me that I so loathed gave me a hint of pleasure. Not that I had any idea what was going on with my body, I just felt myself more completely than ever before. When Bue took the warhammer from me, my cheeks were hot and flushed, I felt my nipples almost painfully erect, and a tugging in regions lower than that. He was rightfully concerned, but I managed to stutter something about the exertion of swinging the hammer, and excused myself. Not knowing what was happening, I hid in shame, until the strange stirrings in my body subsided.

Chapter 4

That very same night, I had my first period. I had been told, of course, but had never realized what it meant. With the memory of my bodyís new yearnings in mind, I was appalled, thinking it some sort of punishment. I understood blood flowing. It happened when you cut yourself, were wounded. Had I broken something inside me? Rationally, I knew that I had not, that this was the next step in my becoming the woman I so did not want to become, but rationality fled at the thoughts of what had happened earlier that day. My fatherís vengeance had reached me, even from the many miles separating us.

That was almost the end of my misadventures. Convinced that breaking my fatherís will would mean that I would bleed out, I became morose and resigned to my fate. Each new day brought the same terrible routine. Even my fatherís return could not stir me from just going through the motions of existence. Not that he stayed long, or even cared. Something had happened on the raid, heíd found something or other that took all of his attention. Soon after, he was off again, looking for who knew what. I didnít care, I was as good as dead.

Of course, the very next month, I had another period. Ashamed and alarmed, I broke down in tears. Now I would be punished for not giving it my best as well. Father had truly won. It was in this state of despair that the old midwife came upon me, saw what was happening. As I said, this had been explained to me before, but I had not understood. With the midwife consoling me, explaining again what it meant, that I was truly a woman, that this was my body telling me that now I could have children of my own, I gradually let the knowledge sink into me.

In a way, this was even worse. Again my body had betrayed me, confounded me with its damned femininity. On top of everything else, now I would have to bear the shame of bleeding out every so often, hidden, weak and filled with self loathing. There just was no end to the humiliations of being born into the wrong body.

Some good came of the whole affair, at least. I knew that I was not receiving punishment for having handled a weapon. As such, I didnít hesitate, but found a way to obtain a weapon for myself. While the warriors were away on their raid, I stole into the house of arms, and found myself a sword of a decent build and weight. No more days of practicing with brooms or wooden spoons, now that I had held a weapon, anything less would not be good enough. With the sword came a much greater need for secrecy. None could know of my teaching myself swordsplay, or the consequences would be much worse than the slap that had brought me low to begin with.

Chapter 5

Careful to avoid detection, I gradually got used to the weight and feel of the sword. I never had as extreme a reaction as I had the time I had wielded Bueís warhammer, but there was no mistaking that holding the sword ignited physical sensations in places that had nothing to do with fighting. There was no place for these feelings, they were just another entrapment of my damned womanís body, so I ignored them, focusing on controlling the weapon.

Over the months, I found myself hindered in many unexpected ways. Growing up, all I had ever worn were dresses, which was all fine and dandy, but no good in a fight. One cannot perform proper footwork in skirts. Standing still and swinging a sword was not any way to fight, mobility was essential. At first, I stripped, but fighting in a loose shift was not an improvement. There was nothing to it, I had to appropriate a pair of pants.

Waiting until another clan raid, now both of my older brothers were attending, I saw my chance to steal into their room, burgling their closets for anything that I could use. Sure, I couldnít fit their current clothes, but they both had to have older pairs. One did not throw away anything that might be put to use later on. Finding what I needed in the back of Bueís closet, I stole away to my secret hideout, my hidden training grounds.

Well aware of the very forbidden aspect of wearing menís pants, I stripped and slowly wiggled into the laid off clothes. Over the past months I had filled out more than I cared for, and it was harder than I would have thought to put on the hose. Sighing, thinking that Bue never had had to bother with the curves that I could no longer hide, I fought my way into getting dressed. The pants were tight, very tight, but I managed. As I got hold of the sword, I found that really, they were too tight. Not that they were in any danger of bursting, but I had never in my life worn something that pushed into my crotch like this. Unbidden, perverse feelings of pleasure rose in me, and they wouldnít be denied.

I discovered, there on the floor of my hideout, that my cursed womanís body had more traps in store for me. Worse, I succumbed to this one, even though it was nowhere near as inevitable as the others. All I needed do was squirm, and the warm feeling would spread throughout me, the tightness against my crotch creating waves of pleasure. When my hand went there, of its own accord, it took but moments for me to initiate myself into this new world. Gasping, I waited for my head to clear, crying for shame, but at the same time, elated. Of course it wasnít merely the physical sensation that had caused me to give in, I see that much now. It was just as much the feelings of empowerment that wearing menís clothing created.

Shouldnít I feel pleasure at doing what I did? Shouldnít I reward myself for my progress, for everything I had accomplished so far, against the wishes of my father? Sure, the pants were tight and caused new, disturbing sensations, but just like the sword, they were forbidden, part of the world that I wanted to enter. They would stay, and I just had to learn to control myself. Sometimes I wouldnít have to, but could take the rewards my body insisted upon. That much I realized, now that I had crossed that threshold.

Chapter 6

I feel into a rhythm of secret training and occasional forbidden pleasure. My whole world existed only in that hideout, everything else was secondary. Now I see that I became careless, drunk on my accomplishments so far. No longer did I wait for my father to go on raids, but sometimes stole away to my training grounds even when he was just gone for short periods of time. Not that I knew why, it suited me fine, but he was often away on short trips, for whatever reason.

With my body truly beginning to fill out, I had to appropriate another pair of pants, which went seamlessly. I was turning fifteen years of age, and while I never became truly comfortable with the changes, I knew my body intimately by now. Further, I knew that men were beginning to see me as more than a girl, had in fact done so for some time. To his credit, my father had not married me away, or even brought up the subject at this time, though he certainly could have. I was living in a state of limbo, caught between girl and woman, maiden and warrior. This time could not stretch forever, change was looming on the horizon, I knew it, and trained with greater and greater intensity, my silent fight against my coming fate.

It was during one of my raging fights against inevitability that it finally happened. My father had returned early from wherever he went, and had gone looking for me. I had not been as inconspicuous as I had thought, and somebody did know the whereabouts of my hideout, though not what went on there, of course. He came upon me practicing shifting between stances, clad in the tight pants and a loose blouse, sword obviously in hand. I think both of us paled considerably.

ďWhat is this?Ē he hissed, and all at once I was thrust back to the little girl I had been when that huge hand had come down on me. I trembled all over, the sword almost dropping from my numb hands. When he took heavy steps towards me, I didnít know whether to flee, raise my sword or throw myself at his feet. With a contemptuous swipe of his hand, he disarmed me in a single blow, and I squealed when the sword clattered to the ground. Defiance rose in me, and with it, anger. I donít know what I screamed at him, but when he came at me, I struck him, a useless gesture. Soon, he had a hold of me, and I struggled vainly, punching and kicking. With but a shove, he threw me to the ground, came down after me, intent on his punishment.

I blocked his strike at my face, which further infuriated him, and he forced me down, pinning my hands to the floor. I tried to scream, but the sound was half strangled. Trying to kick him, squirming and tossing about, I did what I could to free myself. Finally, I caught sight of his face looming above me, and I had a sudden moment of clarity, a flash of insight. Underneath him, I went limp, and he came down hard on me, his body pinning me down. A sudden calm overcame me, the knowledge of what was in his mind. Seeing the confusion on his face, I smiled at him, the nastiest, most hateful smile I could conjure. Underneath him, I spread my legs, feeling his body sink between my thighs. When he stared hard at me, I opened my mouth, venomous words thrust at him.

ďThis is what you really want, isnít it?Ē From the expression on his face, I knew that I had been completely right. He might not have realized it himself, but when I spat those words at him, he saw and understood. Almost hysterically, I started laughing. It was so bizarre, yet so obvious. He wanted to possess me in every other way, so why not this? My laughter did something to him. When he let go of me, I was still laughing when he brought down his balled fist to crash into my face, not a slap such as when I had been young, but a heavy punch. I saw stars, tasted blood, then it all faded into nothing.

Chapter 7

When I came to, the first thing I did was check that he had not molested me. I was positive the thought had been in his mind, but whatever the cause, he had not gone through with it. After reaffirming myself, I gingerly touched the side of my face. It was swollen and cracked, and I bit down on my lip, hissing with the sting of it. I would be wearing a black eye of epic proportions for the coming weeks. Still, hurt as I was, the pain was just pain, I didnít feel the immense oppression I had the first time heíd hit me. Now, I found myself wondering how that could ever have felt so bad.

Leaving the hideout, I deflected the questions about my black eye, cleaned the wound and wondered at what was now to come. Something had definitely changed between my father and I, things would not return to the days of lessons and secret training. For a few days, we avoided each other, or at least he avoided me. At some point I simply went and picked up my sword and hard won pants and started practicing my swordplay in the open. He never came for me. I still wore dresses, but every day before practice, I would change into my pants, and in spite of many disapproving looks, I would wield my sword in mock battle.

I believe that my father had come to some sort of silent agreement with me. As long as I didnít tell anyone of what had almost happened, he would let me do as I pleased. For my part, I had absolutely no intention of ever divulging the details of the near rape. I would just as soon give up my new found freedom as I would let anyone know that my own father had almost made a woman out of me. The thought alone was shameful enough, just as much for me as it was for him.

Eventually, an older warrior who had little to lose had had quite enough of watching me try to emulate swordplay. Each day he would sit around, nothing else to do than watch the goings on. Finally, he told me I was doing it all wrong. At first I misunderstood, thinking it a critique of my being a woman, but as he started with the pointers and suggestions, I soon found that he simply couldnít stand watching me sully a sword this way. I was never too openly grateful to him, but nonetheless I thanked him over and over in my mind as I started understanding what I was doing wrong.

In time, he picked up his own sword and let me practice against a real opponent. Oh, how my heart soared! I could feel my ancestors watching me, could hear their cries of valour sing in my ears. It was truly happening! I was overcoming my birth defect, turning into that which I truly wanted. I could still become a warrior woman, if not a true man. Somebody was teaching me, and when the time came, I could make my own way as... These last remnants of childish fantasies of course were poised to fall and shatter, as my fatherís true plans for me would come to fruition. Nothing as base as what had almost happened between us, no something far worse and far more final.

Chapter 8

My father, the jarl, had called a meeting of the whole family. All of us were there, my three brothers, my younger sister, my old mother. She seemed faded to me, one foot already in the grave. No more children, no more worth. What was she good for now? Had she pursued a martial career, she could have been magnificent, would not have been this shadow of a person. This, I must never allow to happen to me.

When father started explaining, I gradually started paying more attention to his words than to my loathsome mother. What he was talking about was rebellion. To the south of our lands lay the home of the King, Hord Dark-Eye. Father was one of his most trusted jarls, yet not content with having any man above him, he wished to take the place of the King. This was an impossible feat, except he had an advantage. His many trips away from home had been to create a workshop for a certain dwarf that he had enslaved on a raid. Father had put the dwarf to work smithing weapons, weapons of such quality, he claimed, that we should have the advantage in any fight.

For some reason, I thought that he would accept me then. That I would be given one of these weapons and aid him in obtaining this position. Of course I should have known better. Father did realize that one clan alone could not hope to overthrow the King. We needed allies. What better way to cement an alliance than the age old practice of marrying your daughters into your alliesí families? He already had the husband for me: Jarl Ragnar Solmundson, neighbouring lord of the mountains.

My reaction was much as you might imagine. Seething, raging, refusing to go along with his plans. For a moment I contemplated... but no, none would ever know what had almost come to pass between us. Father must have known by now that I wouldnít tell, and even if I did, it would be his word against mine, and in light of my reaction to this, I would look no more than a hysterical girl. Though I did not accept my fate, I could do little right now but wait. Perhaps I could have run, but I was a girl of sixteen and even with my new courage, going alone into the world was not an option. Besides, my ancestors would not approve of my running away. No, I had to find another way to get out of this trap.

Wasting no time, my father had invited Ragnar to our household for the midsummer feast. Try as I might, I would not be able to avoid him. I contemplated putting on menís clothes, shocking the wool out of Ragnar. Little chance that he would want to marry a scandalous girl like that. But I just couldnít do it. Maybe I was afraid of the punishment, there were still things my father could do to me, including actual imprisonment, which would put a definite end to my training. So it was that the first time I met the Old Goat, I was dressed in my finest, most feminine clothes. Hating the way my far too shapely body was shown off, I was nonetheless obliged to dress up for the enjoyment of this hated man.