Boxing Kelly
by Van © 2004

Chapter 1

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Princess Kellan strolled silently through the forest.  She was more than two miles from her father's castle and without chaperone or guard; but the land was at peace and not a soul was about in this part of the woods.  Besides, if she had to endure one more lecture on proper conduct from her mother or that flock of clucking hens she called her court... she'd scream!  Not allowed to do anything meaningful (other than embroidery), not allowed to venture forth without a train of brutish (albeit devoted) guards, not allowed to even wander the town and chat with her father's people... there had been no alternative.  Kellan had filched a modest lunch of bread, cheese, cold meat, and wine from the kitchens.  She placed her new book (a small tome of Frankish poetry) and pilfered repast in a rough leather satchel, donned a dun-colored cloak, tucked her copper-red hair under its generous hood, and escaped via the "secret" postern on the northern side of the keep.  She walked slowly and carefully, keeping her face away from the ramparts and the men-at-arms who may or may not be looking her way... and was soon in the shelter of the woods.

Kellan laughed, threw back her hood, then tossed the folds of the cloak off her shoulders.  Her bliaut gown was stretch velvet in a deep forest green over a chemise of ivory linen.  The margins of the gown's square-cut décolletage and the hems of its long, drooping over-sleeves were richly embroidered, as was the long belt buckled loosely around her narrow waist with its tongue trailing nearly to the ground in front.  Her boots and gloves were a rough, rust-brown leather.

The winter had been cold and wet and the spring (thus far) pleasantly warm, promising a good harvest if summer proved equally kind.  The first of the understory wildflowers were peeking through the leaf litter.  Kellan strolled through the forest along one of the lesser game trails, thoroughly enjoying the solitude and near silence.  At one point she thought she heard a twig crack in the distance... but a careful survey of her surroundings revealed nothing more sinister than a few songbirds flitting through the branches overhead.

She came to a small glade... and sighed.  Perfect!  She spread her cloak on the new grass, lay her satchel to the side, and settled gracefully to the soft ground.  She opened the flap of the satchel, took out the Frankish tome, and began idly turning the parchment leaves.  The decoration was simple but elegant, the hand of the copier neat, clear, and easily read.  She turned back to the first page, and—She was not alone!

Kellan turned—and found a figure standing at the edge of the clearing, leaning against the trunk of a giant oak.  It was a tall boy.  He was clad in knee boots and pants of dark brown leather with a matching, tight-laced jerkin over a coarse, short sleeved tunic of hunter green linen, and— no—it was a woman!  Her features were high-cheeked and fair, her hair a dark Saxon blonde, pulled back in a tight ponytail. She had a bastard sword in a tooled sheath on a broad, loose belt dangling from her left hip.  The hilt of a fighting dagger protruded from each boot top.  Two smaller daggers were sheathed in leather bracers laced tightly around her wrists and forearms.  A leather rucksack and rolled blanket were slung on her back.  She carried herself with the confident ease of one of her father's veterans.  Her costume and kit were rough, but well cared for and functional.  She was no outlaw; more a soldier on campaign.

"It's not polite to stare," the stranger observed.  Her thin lips were smiling, but her icy blue eyes were cold and calculating.

Kellan's cheeks colored.  Her natural inclination was to assert her rank and demand to know this sword maiden's business; but she realized that under the circumstances discretion might serve her better.  "It's not polite to sneak about in the forest like a wolfshead, either," she responded.  Kellan slid her hand back towards her satchel.  She had a small blade bundled with her lunch.   Would it were tucked under my sleeve, she wished.

The stranger shrugged out of her rucksack and let it drop to the ground.  "My name is Duana," she announced, "retriever of lost items and sword for hire.  And you would be...?"

"A maid-of-the-court enjoying her privacy," Kellan answered.  "Now, if you'd be so kind as to—"

"Perhaps you can help me with my current quest," Duana interrupted.  She opened a side pocket on her rucksack and pulled out a neatly coiled hank of thin, braided cord.  "My employer would like to invite one Princess Kellan, daughter of King Brom, to be her guest.  Perhaps you know the young lady?  Red hair?  Fair of face?  Freckles in summer and rosy cheeks in winter?  Eyes the color of the deep ocean?  Clever with words, but not so bright that one might not find her wandering the woods, alone, unarmed, and unguarded?"

Kellan eased one gloved hand even closer to the satchel, then lunged for where she hoped the knife would be found.  Instantly the sell sword was on her, pinning her to the ground and wrenching her hands behind her back.  "Ow!" Kellan complained as cord tightened around her gloved wrists.  "Get off me!"  The cord was cinched and knotted, then her thumbs were looped and added to her bondage.  "I said get off—nrmpfh!"

Duana had her right hand over Kellan's mouth.  "Quiet, Princess," she whispered in Kellan's ear.  "It's very impolite to shout during an abduction.  It forces one's abductor to... take measures."

A wadded cloth was stuffed in Kellan's mouth; a very large wadded cloth.  Next, a knot tied in the center of a long bandage was centered between her teeth and over the wad, and was cinched at the nape of her neck.  Her abductor used the ends of the bandage to make several more passes around her head and over her mouth and lips, cinching each band and carefully lifting Kellan's hair as required.  The final layers were done with the bandage unfolded, so Kellan's lower face was completely covered, from her bulging cheeks to under her chin.  Her face burning with outrage, Kellan pulled on her bound wrists and forced a well-muffled complaint past her gag.  Her captor had returned to her knapsack and was pulling coils of hemp rope from deep, narrow side pockets.  Kellan scrambled to her feet and bolted for the forest.

She didn't get far.  Duana was on her instantly.  "Now Princess," the sword maiden scolded, "best not test my patience or good nature, all right?"  The fugitive was plunked back down on her spread cloak and a loop of hemp dropped over her head and settled around her arms and above her heaving breasts.  This was followed by several more, as well as loops below her breasts, harnessing her shoulders, and pinning her elbows back.  Next, rope was pulled around Kellan's waist and forearms, then cinched between body and arms at the small of her back.  Duana took her time, carefully interlacing, frapping, and cinching her quarry's bonds as she worked.  She made sure the hemp would be tight and inescapable.  Finally, Kellan's booted ankles were crossed and bound, her legs wrapped and swaddled with the folds of her gown's skirt, then coils of the same long rope hitched and tied around her legs at her calves, above and below her knees, around her thighs, through her wrist bonds, then tied off between her elbows.  "There," Duana said, rolling Kellan onto her back and reclining to share the cloak with her captive.  "And now we can enjoy each other's company like civilized people."

Kellan twisted and squirmed in her bonds, glaring at her captor with eyes of blue fire, and forcing well-muffled and very unladylike remarks through the rude cloth stuffing her mouth and bandaging her lips.

"She said you were a feisty one," Duana remarked, opening Kellan's satchel, "not quick to anger, but willful and spoiled."  With a gloating smile Duana used her fingers to comb Kellan's fiery curls away from her glaring face.  "I've been skulking around your father's castle for days," she said, "waiting for you to show yourself.  I was half afraid I'd have to scale the walls and take you from your bed... but here you are."  Kellan squirmed and continued glaring at her captor.  Duana laughed, pulled Kellan's lunch from her satchel, and untied the bundle.  "How very kind," she said.  "It's a veritable feast you've brought me, and I am so very tired of jerky, tack, and beans."  She munched a slice of cheese, reached back in the satchel, and pulled out the wineskin.  "Wonderful... but you wouldn't have a firkin of ale in there, would you?"

Kellan glared and continued her futile struggles, watching her captor consume cheese, cold ham, new bread, and wine.  She'd daydreamed about abduction, of course.  What girl of noble birth hadn't?  Such traditional trothplighting was increasingly rare... but a girl could dream, couldn't she?  Kellan pulled on her wrist bonds and groped with her fingers, all for naught.  The reality of abduction was quite different from the fantasy.  The ropes were tight and increasingly uncomfortable.  Her gag was cloying and her jaw growing sore.  Worst of all, her abductor was a mercenary sword maiden, not a rich, kind, handsome prince with a charming accent and a castle of his own (badly in need of redecorating).

Duana finished the last of the food, but had imbibed only a little of the potent wine.  She examined Kellan's eating knife with a critical eye, then tucked it in her belt.  "Well, I suppose I owe you an explanation," she sighed, covering a belch with her left hand.  "Tell me, Princess; have you ever heard of The Sorceress of the Rose Tower?"

Kellan ceased struggling, and her eyes popped wide with fear.
boxing kelly
Chapter 1
Kelly Fey pulled her Forester off US-26 and onto State Road 53, then onto a side road that led towards the bluffs above Cannon Beach.  This was her third trip to her new home.  The first had been in the company of her realtor, the second to drop off a rental truck load of boxes and furniture, and now... she was coming to stay!

Sunglasses protecting her blue eyes from the summer sun, a scarf enforced ponytail preventing the open window from blowing her red hair into her face, Kelly negotiated a series of twists and turns and was finally on the dead-end road that terminated in her very own two acres.  A mile in she passed the workshops, barn, and rustic house of her nearest neighbors.  All the buildings were stained dark brown and had elaborately carved trim painted in various subdued colors.  An elegant, carved wooden sign near the mailbox read "Behr Workshops."  Kelly smiled.   The Three Behrs.  They were blonde sisters who ran a successful business handcrafting custom furniture, restoring antiques, and making replica costumes.  Her realtor had said they were very nice people, and Kelly hoped it was true.  She was moving waaaay out here in the Oregon coastal rainforest for the privacy she
knew would help her writing, but she was hardly a hermit.   In any case, she reasoned, better good neighbors than otherwise.

And then she was home.  Kelly let the Forester coast to a halt and smiled.  900 square feet of Prairie-style cottage surrounded by pines, rhododendrons, and ferns... and it's all mine (...not counting the mortgage, of course).  The exterior was green-on-green, two shades of moss with a hint of olive.  The interior was plaster and richly stained and polished wood: hardwood floors, exquisite wainscoting, and exposed beams.

Kelly moved the boxes from the Forester to the house, then set up her coffee maker.  She'd brought very little of her old furniture with her.  It was all inexpensive (meaning cheap) and not suitable for her new digs.  The house had several built-in bookcases, two window seats, and a breakfast nook.  There was also a desk built against a window wall with a stunning view of a wooded hillside, the perfect place for Kelly to set up her laptop and start work on her next series of novels.   All I need is a comfortable work chair, she mused, waiting for the coffee to brew; ...that and a real bed.   She'd be sleeping on a mattress on the floor until she could find a frame and headboard she liked.

Just then there was a knock at the door.  Kelly answered and found a smiling woman waiting.  She had honey blonde hair, pale skin, ice-blue eyes... and was... beautiful.  Kelly herself was no slouch.  Her red hair, peaches-and-cream complexion, and even, high-cheeked features had been called beautiful on more than one occasion... but the stranger was stunning; lithe and athletic... stunning!

"Hi, I'm Dawn Behr," the stranger said with a friendly smile.

"My new neighbor!" Kelly responded, grinning and shaking Dawn's hand.

"The very same."  Dawn released Kelly's hand and pulled a bottle of wine from behind her back.  A red satin ribbon was tied around its neck in a festive bow.  "Unless you have other plans," the grinning blonde announced, "I'm shanghaiing you for dinner at our place.  You like pot roast?"
boxing kelly
Chapter 1
Duana smiled at her staring captive.  "I see you have heard of my employer," the sword maiden muttered, then began rummaging in her knapsack.

Princess Kellan recovered from her initial shock and resumed struggling against her bonds.  The Sorceress of the Rose Tower was infamous, the subject of many stories designed to scare the fool out of children (and instruct them in proper moral behavior).  She was supposed to be very beautiful, despite being hundreds of years old.  Some said she was Morgan le Fay in disguise.  Others that she was Morgan's hand maiden, now a powerful magician in her own right.  She lived in the western mountains, in the tall keep of a ruined castle, surrounded by a foul marsh and protected by a hedge of rose bushes.  Some said the roses were so old they were as tall as trees, their branches as thick as a strong man's arm, hard as iron, and with countless thorns as long and sharp as lance points.  The Sorceress sat in her tower plotting evil schemes, conjuring magic, and sending her demon servants to perform villainous errands.  

Kellan paused in her struggles to regard her captor.   She doesn't look like a demon, the prisoner decided, but she could be in sorcerous disguise, I suppose.

Duana produced a small package, roughly a span by a palm by a palm.  It was bundled in a scarf of deep red Cathay silk.  She untied the knots and folded the scarf back, and Kellan beheld a small wooden casket, the kind used to contain valuables: gold, silver, jewels, spices, etc. ...only there was something strange about this casket.  Such things were usually elaborately carved, with ornate smith work at the hinges and clasp.  The casket in Duana's hand was like a tiny replica of a simple storage trunk, with banding and joinery appropriate for a much larger receptacle.  As such, it was exquisite, but who would bother to make such a thing?

The mercenary set the box on the forest floor, pulled an iron key on a long, thin, silver chain from under her tunic, then leaned down and tapped the key on the top of the box three times.  There was a blue flash... and the box began to grow, and grow, and grow!  In a dozen rapid heartbeats it had become full size, a common trunk large enough to contain a dozen or more folded garments.  Duana inserted the key in the trunk's elaborately tooled and very solid iron lock, gave it a turn, and opened the trunk's slightly domed lid.  She then turned and smiled at Kellan.  "Don't worry, Princess.  It's well padded inside, and the Sorceress tells me time stands still once the shrinking magic is keyed."

Kellan blinked.  Inside?  Shrinking magic?  She wouldn't!  Apparently, she would; and she did!  Duana lifted her mewing and squirming captive, placed her bound, booted feet inside the trunk, then forced Kellan to kneel and roll onto her side.  It was a close fit, but Kellan found she had some wiggle room.  As promised, the interior was well padded with red velvet, and it smelled of roses.

Diana leaned into the trunk and checked the knots of Kellan's bonds.  "I thank you for the gift of your cloak.  Our journey will be a long one and its added warmth will be welcome at night."  

Her captor's smug smile was the last thing Kellan saw as the lid closed.  She forced a piteous plea past her gag, but was ignored.  She was in total darkness!  The air was close and sweet, the scent of roses now cloying, to the point that Kellan's head began to swim.  She heard the key turn in the lock, and at the same time a series of solid clicks, as if several bolts were engaging around the interior of the lid.  Something (the key?) tapped the lid once... twice... thrice.... then there was a blue flash, and—
boxing kelly
Chapter 1
Kelly and Dawn chatted for about an hour, drinking coffee while Kelly unpacked boxes.

Kelly learned that Dorey Behr, Dawn's older sister, produced fine costumes for Renaissance Fairs, SCA events, and fancy dress balls.  Her designs were historically accurate in appearance, but incorporated modern materials and techniques.  Dawn had explained that Elizabethan courtiers were actually sewn into their gowns for special occasions.  Kelly agreed it was better to incorporate cleverly hidden zippers and clasps than to be that historically correct.  Anyway, Dorey made complete costumes, costume pieces, and accessories; custom order and by standard size.

Dawn herself was a carpenter.  All the Behr sisters were carpenters, actually, but Dawn designed and made furniture full time.  She also made what she cryptically referred to as "period pieces" and "special accessories" to complement Dorey's RenFaire designs.  Kelly's curiosity was sated by the promise of a tour and demonstration once they got to the Behr Workshops.

The youngest Behr, and, according to Dawn, the spoiled baby of the family, was named Debbie.  She was a recent college graduate, and was currently serving as Dorey's model and Dawn's apprentice.  Dawn also revealed that Debbie was an avid reader, especially of Fantasy and High Adventure, and Kelly was her favorite author.

Blushing furiously, Kelly found and opened a box bearing her publisher's logo, reached inside, and pulled out an advance copy of her next novel.  It was the final book in her Caverns of Careen trilogy, due in bookstores in a little less than two months.  "I'll sign this for her," she mumbled.

"She'll be thrilled!  That's very nice," Dawn said, smiling warmly.  "Like I said... spoiled."  

Kelly really liked Dawn.  She was smart and had a sense of humor.  One shared pot of coffee and Kelly knew she had a new friend.  And then it was time to depart for dinner.
boxing kelly
Chapter 1
The stroll to the Behr compound was quite pleasant.  The shadows were getting long and the sunlight had a yellow cast, and it was pleasantly cool in the shade of the tall conifers surrounding the road on all sides.  Both were dressed in jeans, light blouses, and sneakers, and Kelly was carrying a sweater for the walk home.

"There's a trail on the downslope side that's actually a little shorter than the road," Dawn announced.  "We'll take flashlights and I'll be your guide back when you want to leave."

Kelly nodded.  They were coming to the Behr compound.  The lines of the buildings were graceful and pleasing.  Seen up close the myriad of painted carvings were ornate, artistic, and detailed.  Most were of Celtic or Medieval design, and varied from elaborate knot patterns to naturalistic swirls and curves to stylized plants and animals.  "Wow, this is really cool!  It must have taken hundreds of hours to carve all this.  It's all beautiful!"

Dawn smiled.  "Thanks.  I did a lot of this testing new router jigs," she explained.  "I figured I might as well do it on something that would last rather than useless scrap."  They entered the kitchen... and both inhaled deeply.  Beef was simmering in a slow cooker, and it smelled delicious.  "Just wait 'til you taste Dorey's pot roast," Dawn purred.  "She uses a dash of cognac, and it's so soft the meat just flakes apart."  Dawn picked up a note and read it, then smiled.  "Dorey and Deb are out behind the barn finishing a photo shoot," she explained.  "We're updating our online catalog, and Dorey's still playing with her new digital camera.  I'll show you."

They left the kitchen and returned to the central compound.  "That's my main wood shop," Dawn said, indicating one of the buildings, "that's the finishing shed..."  They strolled towards what was obviously a barn.  Its foundation and lower walls were mortared rubble stone, to a height of about nine feet.  The rest was dark-stained wood.  A woman with dark blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes came around the corner of the barn.  She was dressed in jeans, sandals, and a tank top, and had a digital camera in her hands.  "...and this is Dorey," Dawn added.

Dorey Behr was as beautiful as her younger sister, but different.  Both had high-cheeked, even features, and lithe, athletic physiques; but Dawn's beauty was somewhat exotic, while Dorey's was "classic."  Nonetheless, the family resemblance was unmistakable.

"Welcome to the neighborhood," Dorey said, shaking hands.

"Thank you," Kelly responded.

"Where's the brat?" Dawn asked.

Dorey nodded back the way she'd come.  "I'm done playing with the camera, but she wants to go for a time record, so she can write a testimonial for your new fiddle design."

"Time record?" Dawn mumbled.

"She's less than half an hour from eight hours," Dorey explained.

Kelly was confused.  "Fiddle?"

"This is too cool!" Dawn told her sister.  "Brat gets to meet her literary idol, only under... unexpected conditions."

"Yeah," Dorey agreed.  "I don't think she thought you'd bring her favorite author home quite this early."

Kelly was still confused.  "If Debbie's busy...  That's her name, right?"

Dawn and Dorey nodded, mischievous smiles on their faces.  "No, oh no," Dorey said.  "She's not busy."

"No, not at all," Dawn added quickly, indicating Kelly should step around the corner.  "She's right here."

Kelly rounded the barn—and her jaw dropped in shock.

A few yards away was a young woman in the costume of a medieval or Renaissance serving girl: off the shoulder white blouse (with no bra), tightly laced bodice, ragged skirt, and dirty bare feet.  Her long, honey blonde hair was a tousled mass.  Her neck and wrists were locked in a wooden yoke, wrists in front.  A 'shrew's fiddle'! Kelly realized, recognizing the yoke as the humiliating form of public punishment reserved for "difficult" women.  It was made of oak, was carved with a simple vine and leaf motif, and looked heavy.  It closed by a spring leaf hinge and antique padlock, and was attached by a long, hand-forged chain to a ring set in the barn's stone wall.  A coarse woven cloth was stuffed in the "serving girl's" mouth and another held it there, folded and tied between her teeth as a tight cleave-gag.  The captive stared at Kelly, her blue eyes wide above the dusting of freckles on her cheeks and nose.  She took a deep, bosom-heaving breath, and screamed into her gag.
boxing kelly
 Chapter 1

Chapter 2