by Van © 2004
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actresses I would cast in a boxing kelly motion picture,
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through her gag, Kelly stared in wide-eyed amazement, and Debbie's
sisters laughed and guffawed. Her neck and wrists imprisoned in a
line in one of Dawn's "shrew's fiddle" type yokes, her mouth stuffed
one rag and cleave-gaged with another, Debbie's cheeks were
bright red, and her blue eyes miserable.
"Poor Baby-brat," Dawn cooed, then came forward and
untied her younger sister's gag. "Deb, meet Kelly Fey, the famous
author and our new neighbor. I believe you've used a few of her
books for coasters?"
Debbie spit out the rag stuffed in her mouth and tried to turn her
head, but this was prevented by Dawn's firm hand on the chain
attached to the fiddle. "Oh, just kill me!" the honey blonde
youngster muttered, blushing and averting her eyes.
Kelly smiled. Poor kid. Debbie's medieval serving
girl costume showcased her fair skin, white shoulders, smooth legs, and
bare feet. She was as beautiful and athletic as her
sisters, and absolutely radiated the charm and innocence
of youth. Kelly hardly knew the Behrs, of course, but the current
situation felt like sisterly hijinks with no real malice involved.
"Pleased to meet you, Debbie," Kelly said kindly, reaching out
and shaking the
prisoner's imprisoned right hand. "You've been wearing that thing
for eight hours?"
"Almost," Debbie answered, still blushing, but now smiling weakly.
"I line the wrist and neck holes of all my devices with a quarter inch
of high density foam," Dawn explained, "then seal the foam with latex
and paint and comb in color streaks to match the woodgrain. The
carving helps camouflage the seams."
"She does a good job," Debbie added. "Her fiddles and
yokes aren't as heavy as they look, and they don't chafe."
Kelly was pleased to see Debbie recovering from her embarrassment.
"Still... eight hours?"
"I didn't say it was fun," Debbie admitted. "Well, it is
fun. You know: Cowboys-and-Indians,
Cops-and-Robbers, Damsel-in-Distress... You know." The
was blushing again.
Kelly smiled. "Yeah, I know."
"I've got more examples of my 'RenFaire Accouterments' in the barn,"
Dawn said, and unclipped the chain linking Debbie's fiddle (and
therefore Debbie) to the wall. "I'll show you," she told Kelly,
then turned to her little sister. "C'mon, slovenly slop girl."
"I'm a tap wench!" Debbie objected as she stumbled after her sister.
"And don't rip your costume!" Dorey scolded, a smile belying her tone.
"It's got just the right combination of stains and
ground-in dirt and poorly repaired damage. I don't want to have
to break in a new one."
"Yes ma'am," Debbie muttered, stuck out her tongue, and sent a rude and
slobbery raspberry in her oldest sister's direction.
Dorey shook her head and walked away. "We need to order a brank
with a tongue stretcher from your smithy friend," she told
Dawn. "I'll be in the kitchen." She looked back over her
shoulder and smiled at Kelly. "Again, welcome!"
Kelly smiled back. "Thanks." By this time Dawn was leading
Debbie through the barn door. Kelly followed them inside—and for
the second time in less than five minutes—gasped!
Dallas was supposed to be looking for mushrooms.
That was her excuse to be wandering the forest with a basket,
rather than sweeping the floor of The Red-eyed Boar... again.
And then she saw Princess Kellan. This was her Big Chance!
Serving girl at a tavern was a step up from farm maid, especially
at the tavern of a kindly innkeeper with a kindly wife, neither of whom
brooked lewd behavior in their place, but what Dallas really wanted
serve in the castle! Fine clothes, compared to the coarse
blouse, bodice, and stained skirt she wore now; real shoes, instead of
dirty bare feet; and
a chance to... to... Who knows where it might lead?
She saw which way the Princess was going and surmised she was planning
a private picnic. Dallas captured a curl of her dark
blonde hair and curled it around a finger, deep in thought. Hmm...
follow slowly, let her enjoy her momentary escape from the
then innocently wander into the clearing, introduce m'self, and pour
She actually found some mushrooms: big, fat, brown ones, most with the
ever-so-slightly upturned edges on the caps that signaled full
maturity. So even if she didn't impress the Princess, at least The
sauces and pies would have a special savor
tonight. She picked the ripe and nearly ripe ones, leaving the
caps for another day (assuming no one else found them in the meanwhile,
Mushrooms carefully bundled in cloth and packed in the basket, Dallas'
thoughts returned to stalking her royal quarry. She eased down
the game trail at a slight crouch, and came to the edge of a
clearing—and Dallas' eyes popped wide in shock! She
nearly yelped in
terror, but managed to control herself. She eased to the ground
crept behind the bole of an ancient oak.
Princess Kellan had been in the clearing, as expected... but
what Dallas had not expected was to find the royal daughter
bound and gagged and the captive of a tall, blonde, mercenary lad!
There was a blue flash, so brief and faint Dallas thought she
might have imagined it. She eased her head around the tree and
gazed into the clearing, and the mercenary was lifting the helpless
Princess and placing her in a wooden trunk... a trunk that hadn't been
there before! Magik! Dallas eased back behind the
tree. What-to-do? What-to-do? Running away
was an option. Dallas gathered her skirts... and slowly settled
back to the ground. And who will save the Princess?
She wasn't crazy enough
to think that an unarmed serving girl could best a trained soldier,
even a tall boy of a trained soldier... but someone had to... someone
like her good customer Watch Captain Alroy. And if he could be
led to the kidnapper's fresh trail with a posse of gamekeepers and
elite men-at-arms... I'll wait and see in which direction he
takes her, then run back
to the castle, and—
There was another blue flash. Dallas peeked around the
tree... and her eyes popped wide again. Princess Kellan was gone!
And so was the trunk! And so was the mercenary! Only
an open knapsack and the Princess' cloak remained in the clearing.
heard a sound behind her back (Oh no!), turned—and found the
of a sword at her throat.
The mercenary was holding the sword's hilt, of course, and Dallas could
now see that the lad was in fact a sword maiden, a few summers
older than herself. "Well... what have we here?" the maiden
inquired, a coy smile on her beautiful (hard) face.
Dallas knew the question wasn't meant to be answered. She stared
up the glistening blade at her captor and tried to prepare herself for
"A spy, I think," the mercenary continued, her sword point rock steady.
"Hmm... a spy... or a pack pony? What's your name, wench?"
This question was meant to be answered. "Dallas,
"Dallas..." the sword maiden mused. "A fine name. Tell me,
Dallas... would you rather be Dallas-the-dead-spy... or
"I... I don't want to die," Dallas stammered.
Still smiling, the maiden nodded her head. "Pack pony it is,
then. Up you come, and put your pretty little hands on yon oak."
Dallas complied. "Good girl. Now, lean forward—feet
back—and legs spread... like a good serving girl." Taps from the
flat of the blade reinforced the mercenary's instructions. The
was sheathed and replaced with a long dagger, all in one fluid motion.
The dagger's point pricked Dallas' ribs as the mercenary used her
left hand to conduct a thorough, humiliating search for
contraband. There was no weapon to be found, but the pitifully
cache of coins that comprised Dallas' worldly fortune was discovered.
groat and handful of pennies, halfpennies, and
disappeared into the sword maiden's pouch. "Hands atop your
head," she ordered, and again, Dallas complied. The maiden leaned
close from behind, her lips close to her frightened captive's left ear,
her dagger close to the captive's white throat. "My name is
Duana," she whispered, "but you may call me Mistress. Understand?"
"Yes, Mistress," Dallas answered, shaking with fear.
"Do as you're told, and we'll soon be good friends," Duana
purred, and led her captive towards the clearing.
The barn was
filled with stocks and pillories of various designs. All were
solid and heavy, constructed of thick timber with hand-cut joinery and
substantial, hand-forged hinges and hasps. To Kelly's educated
eye they looked completely authentic. There was also a
of timber and rope netting, what might have been a Spanish rack, and
bulky objects under large white dust cloths.
"That one's for a RenFaire in Minnesota," Dawn said, pointing
at a set of double stocks with an attached bench, "and that pillory's
going to Colorado. Mid-summer's my busiest season for this stuff,
believe it or not."
"Midsummer?" Kelly mumbled.
"Halloween orders," Debbie explained.
"Oh," Kelley responded, running her hand over the top of the pillory.
It had two vertical posts and a pair of horizontal planks.
"See the padding Dawn was bragging about?" Debbie asked, pointing
awkwardly at the pillory with her yoked hands.
Kelly ran one hand around the neck opening. The latex covered
foam lining the inside was almost indistinguishable from the rough wood
of the pillory, even under close inspection.
"Open it," Dawn suggested.
Kelly lifted the top plank of the pillory. It was about
five feet in length, two inches thick, and eight inches wide. It
pivoted on the far side on a thick iron pin that pierced the plank and
upright. She gestured for Dawn to hold the top plank, then placed
her wrists in the small, semi-circular troughs in the lower plank, to
either side of the larger trough awaiting her neck. "Most men
fit in this thing," she noted, then shook her hair forward, leaned
from the waist, and eased her throat into the neck trough.
Dawn lowered the top plank. It scissored home and imprisoned
Kelly's wrists and neck, sliding solidly into the notch cut in the left
upright. "Been to many RenFaires?" Dawn inquired.
"A few." Kelly twisted her wrists and neck to test the pillory's
fit. "This isn't exactly tight, but I'm not going anywhere."
"No, you're not," Dawn observed with a grin, lowering the top plank's
wrought iron hasp over the padeye on the lower plank. It snapped
into place with an authoritative click. "Anyway... 'Fair Young
Maidens' buzz around my stocks and pillories like bees to honey, and
their male escorts are almost always content to just watch. I've
stopped making these things with unisex size openings, except for
special orders, of course."
The pillory forced Kelly to stand slumped forward, with a bend
in her spine. It wasn't painful, but she knew that
(hypothetically) it would be, increasingly so as minutes turned into
hours. If asked, Kelly would have been unable to explain exactly
why she had allowed herself to be captured in Dawn's pillory.
She trusted her new friend, but why allow herself to be made
helpless? "I... I've always wondered what these things were
like," Kelly said softly (although in truth, she hadn't).
"Well, now you know," Dawn laughed. "Here, I'll let you out."
"Wait!" Kelly blurted. "Uh... Debbie, you're almost done
setting your new fiddle wearing record, right?"
Staring at her favorite author, and now fellow captive, Debbie
nodded her head, as best the shrew's fiddle would allow. "Uh,
"You and I can talk until dinner's ready," Kelly suggested, then
shifted her attention to Dawn, as best the pillory would allow, "okay?"
Dawn smiled, leaned forward and arranged Kelly's hair so it draped to
one side, then clipped the chain on her sister's yoke to the padeye of
the pillory's hasp. "I have to set the table and open the wine
anyway." She turned and walked to the barn door. "Just
great," she muttered, loud enough to be heard, "another doting
spoil the Baby-brat." And then she was gone.
"This is great!" Debbie beamed, settling to the barn floor in front of
Kelly. "This is like Lady Rosalind and her lady-in-waiting Jayne
in The Ax of Orren—I love that book!—after Baron Torin
locked them in his dungeon—sort of—no chains or stone walls or
iron bars or rats—and before the part where Maid Rosheen contacts them
about the escape—but after the big gloating scene where the Baron
to wall up the entrance to their cell—and—"
Kelly smiled indulgently. Eventually Debbie would run out of
breath or ask a question, and then she would get to talk.
When they reached the clearing, Mistress Duana helped
Dallas don the knapsack. She kept the dagger in her right hand
and was careful not to give her new captive an opening to mount any
resistance. A long thin cord was then used to bind Dallas' wrists
together in front. Next, the center of a length of stout hemp was
hitched through her bound wrists, knotted around itself after a short
run, then the ends passed around the maid's slim waist and knotted
together at the small of her back, under the knapsack. The
arrangement left the prisoner with some degree of motion for her joined
hands, but she could neither reach the knot behind her back nor lift
her wrists far enough to attack the wrist bindings with her teeth.
Dallas' heart was hammering, but her initial terror was under control.
If her captor really meant to kill her, she'd already be dead.
Best to follow orders, try to discover what had happened to
Kellan, and wait for an opportunity.
Duana was rummaging in the knapsack. "Can you cook, Maid
Dallas?" she inquired.
"Of course, Mistress." Silly question.
Dallas heard a metallic rattling noise, something hard and cold
encircled her throat, a locking latch was secured, then a light chain
was tossed over her shoulder to dangle down her front. Dallas
sighed. It was hardly surprising that a sell sword had the
training and equipment
to control a prisoner.
"Just to be perfectly clear," Duana said, "burn my meals and you'll be
punished. Try to mark our trail or escape and you'll be punished.
Make a habit of it, and I'll hamstring you and leave you for the
ravens and foxes. Understand?"
"Yes, Mistr—rnfh!" A thick, knotted cloth was wedged
between Dallas' teeth and Duana was knotting it at the nape of her neck.
Duana secured the flap of the knapsack, then stepped to the front.
She stooped and retrieved the Princess' cloak, draped it over
her shoulders and secured the front clasp, then rakishly tossed the
fold back to free her sword. She then thrust the basket of
into Dallas' bound hands. "Don't drop these," she chided her
"I want them with my supper tonight. Away we go, dear
she announced, grabbed the end of the chain, and stepped off.
Dallas stumbled, then followed her captor from the clearing, down the
game trail, and away from all she had ever known.
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