Being a man. Being a woman. A web serial


Hi incidental readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed the story thus far.

Sadly, as sometimes happens, Life came and made writing and updating weekly impossible (for little ol’ me at least).

Sorry for not updating earlier. I’ll try to return to the story as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Chapter 14

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‘You attacked my allies’ household, brought mercenaries with you to make sure you’d win, killed Romjigan, killed most of his men – for many of which I will demand compensation, as they were my relatives through marriage – took so much of their supplies that they’ll have trouble surviving the winter, and you have the nerve to come and ask me for men to help you control the mercenaries you used? The only reason I don’t take the blood price from your head here and now, Stoyanjid, is your farfetched claim that your attack was in self defense, a claim I’m entertaining only because you are my relative through your mother. Go away! Come summer we will discuss how you can repay us. I doubt you will have a household after you finish paying’.

Jetmir’s words echoed in her mind as she contemplated her next move. It was five weeks since the battle, three weeks since her visit to the Diarjid, where she failed miserably in recruiting their help. Winter had started in earnest – it had snowed more than once – and although the house was ready she was almost certain something was brewing among the mercenaries. There was nothing she could do other than try and set as many plans to counter whatever stupid move those hotheads would try. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 13

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Half a year ago

He wasn’t asked anything when he came to take Wahalan’s oaths. Arik’s greatest fear was that they’ll question him, or worse – ask questions about him – and find out that he’s a heretic and a deviant and he’d be in deep shit. He still presumed he could get out of it. An army marching with thousands of mercenaries who followed at least four different religions could hardly start burning heretics. Still, it made him uncomfortable.

But there were no questions. There were more than a hundred soldiers other than himself who came to take the oath after the battle, and the priests of Wahalan seemed well prepared for them. They raised a long and low tent and sat all of the oath takers, lined against the fabric of the tent and it was lit inside with a few torches, creating more shadows than light. The smell of incense was partly hiding the smell of unwashed men. Two small choirs of priests where chanting praises to Wahalan in low voices.  Yes, they knew all the tricks in the book. He wasn’t fooled, but it was effective nonetheless. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 12

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chapter 12 map

Half a year ago

The field around Arik was littered with corpses. He was filthy, caked in mud and blood and covered with so many mosquito bites he could hardly feel the newer ones that continued to be delivered. The heat and humidity of the Forduan swamps coupled with the stench of shit and blood from the dead made him gag when he took too deep a breath.

Nothing in his life had prepared him for this horror. He was no stranger to violence, both receiving and dealing it, but being a small-time sell-sword in northern Samka was quite different from this slaughterhouse.
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Chapter 11

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Romial was crying when Otmakla entered the room in a quick and economical motion. Great sobs could be heard from under the sheets. Otmakla approached and sat on the edge of the bed, her thigh touching Romial’s back. He was curled up on the bed, knees held by his arms to his chest.

When she touched him his voice choked, he coughed and another sob escaped him, replaced by whimpers, as he tried to stifle his crying.

‘You will have to come out of the room tomorrow’, she said.

She decided this would be the best course of action. He was cooped up in the tiny room she gave him for the last week, barely eating, barely answering questions. When he did speak he talked about not wanting to be seen, about being a traitor, about being disfigured. Read the rest of this entry »

The story continues…

Yeah, right. My second son was born and I said I’m going to take a break for a week, and it became more than four months… You know the story: new baby, new job etc. etc. yadayada. Anyway, I’m returning to schedule. A chapter every Saturday, whether you read it or not.

Apologies. No update

My life partner is giving birth. Wish us luck.

Hopefully I’ll be back on schedule next week.

Chapter 10

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Otmakla felt numb. She was wide awake, aggressive and quick-moving in the night scenery, but she felt detached. Her house was crumbling around her. Her family. It was of no consolation that so was the Romjid house. She couldn’t stop the thought that she’s destroying both her and Romial’s families in one stroke. It was too horrifying to contemplate deeply.

She went on. There was no plan, no way to guide her people or change their course after the ambush. She walked slowly towards the Romjid household. Around her people killed and died. A man came at her, moving in a defensive stance, holding a long knife. He looked inexperienced. She walked on, then suddenly rolled forward in angle, slightly distancing herself from the Romjid man, picking up a long fallen branch and hitting his hand in a smooth motion as she rose. He lost grip of his knife. She closed the distance, and he raised his hands to protect his chest and face. She stabbed him in the stomach and retreated quickly, continuing her walk as he fell to the ground crying. The stomach wound almost guaranteed a slow death. She preferred the neck, but couldn’t take the chance. He was crying like a young boy. He probably was her own age. Maybe Preki cried that way when the Romjid killed him. She wanted to cry herself, but felt so far from it all, in a numb shell. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 9

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It had just turned dark. Otmakla stood behind the ridge that overlooked the Romjid household. Her plan was quite simple – a few men will attack from below, from the Herian valley, shooting burning arrows soaked with oil at the roof. Hopefully a counter attack would be mounted against them. Hopefully something will actually catch fire. Hopefully Romjigan will look at an attack from the valley as a proof of their stupidity, and not as a trick.

She planed to attack with most of her force, 37 men, from the woods on the ridge above the household. It wasn’t a brilliant plan – attack as fast as you can, kill or maim as many men as possible. Loot depending on the situation. She knew the mercenaries will loot for sure. It was the greater compensation for them, besides being fed for a few weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 8

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It was three weeks since his last meeting with Otmakla. On their set meetings he couldn’t find a way to go alone to the cot. They had a mark that he would remove only if it was safe for them to meet. Now he just left it. He couldn’t go alone without being noticed.

THat afternoon Romjigan and Timotei gathered the men for a talk in the Romjid hall. Romial quickly understood he had to hide his emotion during it. Romjigan and Timotei were standing in the middle. Timotei worked up the crowd and Romjigan explained things carefully.

‘Soon enough life in the mountains will become impossible. We won’t have enough supplies to survive this winter, not while fending off all these refugees!’ Timotei howled. Read the rest of this entry »

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