Being a man. Being a woman. A web serial

Chapter 7

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Romial waited outside the cot’s door in the darkness. It was already quite chilly with the beginning of winter and he was wearing a heavy wool coat. He had a bow near him, and a halberd leaning on the wall next to him. he didn’t go out without them anymore. It actually became harder to go alone to their meetings without raising suspicion with all the trouble around.

When Otmakla arrived he rose towards her and they hugged as they always did. This time she clung to him, not letting go.

‘He’s gone’ she said.

He just held her for a long while. Would he be like this if Romjigan died? Romjigan wasn’t someone you felt close to. He was a force of nature. A constant like the sun or winter. Probably not.

She suddenly moved her head from his shoulder and kissed him on the lips. It wasn’t a soft kiss – she pressed her closed lips strongly to his. He wanted this, but he wasn’t sure this was how he wanted it. They spoke about romance in their meetings from time to time, debating whether that was what they had. They also talked about physical contact. Some of the talk had been extremely intimate, like the time they discussed the way they masturbated. His face became hot just thinking of that. But it was all theoretical. The most they ever did was hug. She wasn’t sure she wanted more. He wasn’t sure this was the time to change things.
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Chapter 6

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Bujare sat by her husband’s bed. He was dying. He was dying for the last year and a half, but death seemed to be around the corner now. She didn’t want to leave his side.

She looked at Gjergj’s face. She remembered his bright young face when they first met. He had sharp and witty eyes and a smiling mouth under his thick mustachio. And those features stayed with him as he grew old. The wit and the generous spirit. Stayed, at least until their daughter Rozafati was murdered. He was already sick before that, but her death made many of his defenses crumble.

Now he lay, hardly breathing, looking like a child in the blankets – he shrunk so much from the sickness. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 5

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Romial stared at the strange people under him, trying to understand who they are.

They were eating apples from the orchards. The apples were unripe, but apparently these people were hungry enough to disregard that.

Perhaps they were bandits. Chirkid bandits made their way to the mountains from time to time to find refuge. But these men didn’t look Chirkid.

He pointed back the way he and Vasil came and they crawled in that direction silently, putting some distance between them and the strangers.

When he felt they went far enough to minimize the risk of being heard Romial whispered ‘we must warn my father. I don’t know what they’re doing here but even as weak as they look, with armor and swords they can cause serious trouble’. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 4

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There were twenty men in the hall that evening. Only a few of the family men were missing. Both her brothers were there, as was Taulant and his two sons, Mikal and Ilir. It was as good an opportunity as she’d get.

She knew that her cousins Fitore and Gazmend, who were her hunting buddies when she was a girl, will stand with her, and they were both here. She talked with both and they assured her they will give her their support. They weren’t as important as her brothers, but at least she won’t stand alone.

She stood at the entrance looking around, then, stepping slowly, she approached the table where her father’s brothers, Ditmer and Taulant sat with Mikal.

‘Mikal!’ she boomed, ‘how are you doing?’

He looked up at her, cautious.

‘Doing fine, Otmakil’, he said quietly.

‘The food is good? No knives in your broth? No Romjid running through your halls?’ Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 3

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Otmakla hurried along the corridors of her house, away from her father’s chambers. Their meeting was disturbing. She thought of the fake confidence with which she told Romial about her assured place at the head of her house and suppressed a bitter laugh. True, her father supported her, but to take hold of a family, of a house, you had to have all major forces of the house behind you. Her father was a major force now, but after his death only a thin thread of honor will hold the family loyal to his word. A thread that could be snapped if a suitable challenge arose. Her father suspected one such challenge was brewing, and he wasn’t even dead yet.

It would have helped had her brothers truly backed her claim. Her brothers, Tomsh and Preki, didn’t want the position, but their support of her was far from enthusiastic. They both respected her, they knew she was capable, but she suspected they weren’t sure she could get the house to unite behind her. So they bided their time, waiting to see how she handled the unification of the house.

It hurt her. These weren’t some of those jaded and ruthless men of other houses. Her brothers were tough, but they were also kind. She loved them, and thought they loved her too. She felt bitter for their lack of support. They were taking care of themselves, waiting to proclaim loyalty to whomever came out on top. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 2

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Almost a year had passed before Romial met Otmakil again. Although now there was no open feud between their houses, their houses weren’t allied either, and it was hard to believe that’ll change anytime soon after the way the last feud ended – though stranger things have happened. As it was, men of unallied houses had few reasons to meet other than commerce, and Romial had little to do with that.

A great wedding between Iordan, one of Romial’s cousins, and Nadiara, a girl of the Diarjid family, made the meeting possible, as the Stoyanjid were allied with the Diarjid.

Romial sighted Otmakil from afar early in what was going to be a very long day. Surprisingly, Otmakil looked very much like he did before being sworn. Of course, his hair was cut short and he wore a man’s vest, shirt and breeches, all ornamented in red and gold for the wedding, but he didn’t walk with the wide steps, the pulled back shoulders and the swagger of a man. It was common among new Akrusia to exaggerate those gestures for a while, until they found a balance that looked natural, but Otmakil seemed to do nothing more than the bare minimum – sitting with his knees parted, looking straight ahead at people without averting his eyes. Even those gestures seemed like things he may have done before being sworn. Furthermore, his clothing didn’t seem to hide the contours of his breasts as much as could be expected. Admittedly, Otmakil had more to hide than Romial. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 1

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She was frightened. Her father wanted her married and her options were very few. It was a grave matter of family honor – her family’s and the prospective bridegroom’s – whatever she decided.

And, as always, when honor was on the line, so was blood.

She looked out of the window, near her cot in the attic, at the green Herian valley under her family household. A beloved view. This view, at least out of this vantage point, will have to stay behind. Whatever comes to pass she will have to leave these known women quarters promptly.


There was going to be a raid tonight and Romial was excited and nervous. He was only out on one raid before and witnessed very little of the violence, let alone took part in it. That raid ended only with a beaten and humiliated opponent. This one was different. This was an act of war. A war Gjergj had already started with his actions and negligence, but nonetheless, the drawing of first blood still had significance. Read the rest of this entry »

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