Colonel Nathaniel Fry was a fortunate soldier. He had survived a number of battles serving in the British military and returned as a hailed and charming hero. It was no wonder that the man drew so much attention from the fairer sex when he returned to his hometown. Ellen Price was an unwed noblewoman who had quickly taken a fancy to him upon his return. She was what they called old money. Her family had was prestigious and wealthy for countless generations (though in reality they would gladly count them out in detail for anyone who would listen). They weren’t especially powerful, but her status was enough to keep her family afloat and make her quite the prize. Her fair looks were one more piece to her alluring puzzle. Long blonde hair, pale skin, a full bosom and deep blue eyes gave her a classic sort of beauty that even the colonel couldn’t ignore.
The problem was that she was not alone in her attraction. Mary Welsch was no noble, but she had found her way into the upper class more recently. Her father was a merchant who had some incredible success with his work within the colonies, earning their status by wealth rather than birth. The brown-haired Mary had a more down to earth beauty, her skin a bit more tan than Ellen’s from time she spent working. She was slightly stockier than Ellen, but she certainly fit the bill for another upper crust beauty.
Despite their different backgrounds, the two women were actually good friends in the past. Their open relationship was in fact how they learned about the other woman’s intentions, which quickly turned things for the worse. “I was the one who saw him first!” Ellen insisted. “You thieving little witch!”
“You did no such thing! And if you did, that doesn’t make you the best woman for the good colonel,” Mary objected.
“And you’re saying that you are? Are you really telling me that you think you’d make a better wife for him than I would?”
“Well if we’re going to be raising children, he’ll be needing a woman who can actually feed his children. Do you mean to starve his babes out with those tits of yours?” Mary puffed up her more sizeable chest, flaunting it within her dress as they thrust out towards Ellen.
Ellen scowled and acted in kind, pushing her chest fearlessly into Mary’s until their proud chests mashed together. “I think you overestimate yourself. Mister Fry deserves a woman of true wealth and culture, not some upstart lower class who whored her way to the top.”
Mary fumed and barely kept herself from growling out her response. “Now who’s getting full of herself?” she snapped. “I simply will not stand by and have you get between me and the colonel.”
“Then you’re sure to fail at any such efforts to stop me,” Ellen said haughtily. “Now I’d ask you to leave my house before you waste my time any further!” Their sociable upbringing and old friendship was quickly cast aside as Mary left in a huff. Their pride and attraction towards the young officer quickly drove a wedge between them. They stopped seeing each other whenever possible, sharing sharp and catty glances when they passed each other by. It proved to be inevitable, since they were both doing their best to charm Fry for themselves.
Ellen and Mary ignored each other as much as they could, but soon that wasn’t enough. Mary refused to speak with her former friend, but she did write her a rather harshly worded letter. They were to remain civilized, after all.
“Dear Miss Price,
It has come to my attention that you are still in pursuit of our dear friend Nathan. I found it amusing at first but now you are simply making a fool of us all with your pathetic attempts to win his favor. Just the other day I found myself wondering if you were a flirting or simply bending over to present yourself like a mongrel in heat. Save yourself the embarrassment of rejection of being outdone by the better woman. Find yourself a lesser man and beg him to wed you instead.
With your best interest at heart,
Ellen blushed and seethed over the letter before quickly grabbing her own quill and starting to write a reply.
“Dear Miss Welsch,
I found your letter absolutely charming. I could hardly stop laughing at the idea that you would think yourself the better woman. I’m glad that you recognize Colonel Fry’s interest in me, as he always seems rather disinterested in your presence. I am always impressed by how often I see him yawning during your conversations while he seems to fascinated by the ones he carries on with me. He seems to stare at me in such a way that I would not be surprised if he asked for my hand during the next time we meet for tea. I would think you would have better odds of ensaring the good colonel if you joined the nearest brothel and hoped for him to enter one by mistake than to compete with me in such matters. I assure you that any embarrassment I may feel is over pity for your pathetic excuse for social grace.
Wishing you the second best,
Mary had much of a similar response. She started another heated letter right away, and the women were soon in a war by post. Before long, things had escalated until nearly all pretenses of civility were lost in Mary’s latest composition:
“To my harlot of a former friend,
I am glad to see that Colonel Fry is in good health because that mean you must not had given him any of your diseases. I assume you must have turned towards rutting with dogs to keep your lowbrow desires in check as no other man would have you. I would suggest you ask your father to buy you a husband and not to meet him until the wedding day, as he may flee the arrangement no matter what he was paid. I assume that a life in the military is all that keeps my future husband from retching at the sight of your face. Perhaps your corpse-like complexion and foul stench remind him of his days on the battlefield. Despite this, I must demand that you leave my beloved alone lest I be forced to take far more physical action to prevent such an embarrassment.
Signed, the soon to be Mrs. Fry.”
It escalated further still, letters firing back and forth until Ellen made her reply as an unmistakable formal challenge.
“My loathed Mary,
I have tolerated your meddling and harlotry long enough. You have offended my person and my sensibilities, and as such I demand satisfaction. I properly challenge you to a duel (as I should have rightfully done long ago) this coming Sunday. I shall be at the cherry tree of Lummers Park at 10AM sharp. As the challenged, you have the right to choose the weapon. Should you overcome your own cowardice and arrive on time, you’ll be expected to provide armaments for us both. If you do not wish to suffer any more pain and humiliation at my hand, you are certainly free to leave Mr. Fry and myself to our courting.
With sincere hatred,
Mary had matched Ellen’s hatred and she promptly accepted the duel. They would have their privacy, considering that everyone would be at church at the time of their meeting. The real trouble came from the weapons. Mary was a woman of class, but still a woman. She had no access to guns or sabers, being her first duel and having never taken an interest in such things. The idea of resorting to their fists felt barbaric enough, let alone using branches or clubs. She needed something simple, common and dangerous. She went to see her closest friend (since Ellen had clearly been taken off that list), and it was when they were discussing their plans for Sunday that she saw the answer. Sticking through a ball of yarn were a pair of knitting needles, which Alice had planned to use to make her young son a new blanket. They had pointed steel tips, and with a bit of sharpening, they could be positively deadly…
The morning mists had parted by the time the women arrived at their meeting place. Mary had Ellen just behind her, carrying the box containing their improvised weaponry. She had delivered a matching set to Melissa (Ellen’s acting second) and the two had spent the last evening sharpening them for the fateful day. Ellen and Mary were prompt to arrive on time wearing short, simple dresses to keep their legs free, and while they wore loose blouses, their seconds helped them to disrobe from the waist up as they stared each other down. It was common practice in the day; few duels were intentionally held to the death, even if it was a natural risk to the very idea. Duelists had long since learned that when dealing with punctures and gunshot wounds, and clothing was more likely to seep into the wound and cause an infection than provide any benefit to the fighter.
The rivals breathed deeply, their virgin breasts high and proud. The tense morning and the cool open air had their nipples hard like another set of miniature weapons aimed at their hated foe. The seconds opened their boxes with the sharpened knitting needles inside. Ellen plucked hers up with dainty fingers before clenching them in her feminine fists like daggers. “The duel will continue until one yields or is rendered dead,” Melissa declared. She and Alice swapped gravely concerned glances before stepping to the sidelines, politely waiting for their respective friends to proceed.
The grave tension was thick enough that Ellen and Mary took a moment before they were able to press through it. They stepped towards each other at a slow and steady pace, uncertain of how to approach but dedicated to doing so regardless. Uncertainty and conviction were in every step as they brought their makeshift weapons closer to their rival’s flesh. They lingered briefly just outside of striking distance, the weight of the moment holding them back once more. They were committed to destroying the other woman after the weeks of threats and insults, but putting their lives on the line was new to them both. As much as Mary wanted to get her former friend out of her life, she realized that neither of them had much skill with the sharp instruments (at least, not beyond their intended purpose). They wouldn’t be landing much for precise strikes, but one such blow could instantly end the duel and possibly their life.
Ellen was the first to strike, though it was clearly a testing blow. Mary hardly had to extend her wrist to deflect the swipe of her needle, the lightweight metal plinking against its double. Mary tried a downward swing to intercept Ellen’s arm as it intruded on her personal space, but she was quick to retract it. She was just as skittish about the duel, more interested in winning the match uninjured than winning it quickly.
The women traded a few more clumsy jabs and slashes, but they always fell short of connecting with any flesh. The weapons were sharp but largely impractical, and their lack of experience meant plenty of missed strikes and opportunities. It was all the women could to do keep their fists clenched around their weapons and jab at any opening they could find. They started with aiming for the face, only to find it too hard a target with their rival as jumpy as they were. Mary thought she had found an early trick by going for Ellen’s fingers, but she was quick enough to evade or block the blows so close to her weapon. It was only so many failed attempts before Mary recognized Ellen’s ideal targets; the pale and wobbling breasts just behind her needles that were held up in front of them like goal markers.
Mary finally mustered the courage to press on and thrust out deep with her first needle. Ellen gasped and twisted away from the strike, but she backpedaled clumsily in her evasive efforts. Mary lashed out with her other needle while Ellen was caught up on the first one, landing the first blow and drawing the first blood of the duel. Mary pulled back as soon as she felt resistance against her needle, content just to know that she had penetrated Ellen’s flesh whatsoever. Ellen recoiled and the wound remained visible on her breast. She couldn’t see the side of her bosom perfectly, but she could see the bead of crimson running down from the tender spot. The substance felt warm at first but rapidly cooled in the night air. It was little more than an oversized pinprick, but her eyes went wide all the same. Mary’s hand finally stopped shaking as she broke into a proud but nervous grin.
“You awful little witch,” said Ellen. She sounded equally surprised and angry rather than afraid. Mary had desperately hoped that the spoiled blonde would surrender at the sight of her own blood.
“And you are an awful fencer,” Mary said with a proud crow to her voice. “Care to step down and leave it at that?”
“Not until I’ve punctured those ugly balloons of yours in kind,” Ellen replied sternly. The blonde bolstered her grip on her sharp metal implements, looking for some payback for the first strike. She lashed out more aggressively, but Mary was still on her guard and expecting as much. She knew enough about Ellen from their longtime friendship and revent rivalry that she would want revenge and that she should keep away from her temperamental strikes.
She waited until Ellen started to slow her attack when she lunged again. Mary buried her needle another inch or so into Ellen’s breast, spilling even more blood with this deeper stab. Ellen gave a sharp gasp and recoiled before Mary could push it deeper still, but the damage had been done. Her fair skin looked even paler compared to the trickling blood going down the curve of her breast. Mary smirked at her second blow of the duel but she didn’t linger on it too long. Ellen was just as furious about it as the first and Mary narrowly avoided an incoming stab from her riled opponent.
Mary returned to playing defense, backpedaling to avoid more of Ellen’s counter attack. While she was certainly riled up by the fresh pain, the blonde wasn’t attacking wildly like she was the last time. She was starting to try to outmaneuver Mary, an approach that was met with varying success but it kept the brunette on her toes. When Mary moved to evade the knitting needle aimed at her side, she realized too late that Ellen had her other weapon coming in from the left. Mary jerked away from it but the offhand strike still connected. The long iron barb caught against Mary’s cheek and dragged a rough, inch-long line along her flesh.The blood splashed across her face and chest as Mary recoiled from the shocking pain.
“My face!” Mary gasped in absolute horror. “What have you done, you despicable whore!?”
“I’ve decided to start winning,” Ellen retorted. Mary scowled at her but stepped back as a hand went to her bloodied cheek. She couldn’t hold back much of the blood, but the pressure caused a short sting that seemed to dull the pain in her wound. The strike landed closer to her mouth than her eye or anything vital, but it was enough to scare her into retreating. Ellen watched with smug satisfaction at her response, but it wasn’t the proper surrender she had been hoping for with her lucky gash. Mary was jarred for a few moments before she raised her needles, making Ellen glad she hadn’t rushed in for a desperately hasty finish. With both women dripping blood over their weapons and skirts, they moved in for another cautious exchange.
The ladies remained just as careful about keeping their guard up, but they were growing more confident and skilled in their strikes. They sent out more testing blows that plinked off the other’s needles, crudely fencing with each other as they sought more of their rival’s blood. Mary overextended herself, using her full reach to lunge at Ellen and bury the very tip of her needle into the blonde’s stomach. The point vanished in and out of her quickly, something that brought Mary great satisfaction. It didn’t last as Ellen gave a reflexive twist, swatting the retreating needle away and ramming hers into Mary’s breast. She gasped as it pierced just an inch from the nipple, the cool metal a shocking thing to feel inside her chest. Ellen tried to press it deeper but Mary recoiled and let the blood run from her chest. The normally proper women were sweating and catching their breath, their knitting needles now tipped with red.
“You won’t scandalize Colonel Fry any longer,” Ellen growled as she stepped closer. Her earlier injuries were only just starting to slow their bleeding. The pain lingered as a distraction and as motivation to finish their fight while Mary was freshly wounded. As soon as she felt steady, Ellen rushed at Mary with a shout and a wild trashing of her needles. The wildly aggressive assault kept Mary backing away as she desperately parried any attacks that came too close for her liking.
Ellen’s clumsy strikes cost her as one of her needles buried itself into Mary, though not in the way she had hoped. The brunette had shifted suddenly and it left Ellen’s stray stab to pierce into her dress. Ellen’s eyes went wide as she realized her error Mary gave a triumphant grin.
“I’ve got you, you sow!” Mary declared as she went for her finishing blow. She thrust her spike for Ellen’s stomach to pierce her vitals but Ellen thought quickly in her panic. She released her stuck needle and caught Mary by the wrist, scratching along her arm rather than into her belly. She started to push Mary’s hand back but her other hand swept in from the side. Ellen gave a pained cry as the steel buried itself under her ribs, but she jabbed back with her own needle at the offending hand. It punched into the soft flesh by Mary’s thumb, making her scream and retract with the needle left buried inside her opponent. It quickly fell out on its own as Mary pressed her original attack, tackling Ellen and sending the two of them tumbling to the ground with one a needle left to each of them.
The duelists rolled over each other, traversing a short way through the grassy park before they came to a stop, Ellen bracing her knee against the ground to cut off their momentum. She thrust out with her needle like a dagger, but Mary was still moving from her roll. She leaned into it and let Ellen’s weapon pierce the ground as she jabbed back at her, quickly punching another hole in Ellen’s tit that dripped its blood onto her.
“It seems you’ve sprung a leak, you meddling whore,” Mary sneered, warping the gash in her cheek along with the rest of her face.
“As have you! Allow me to fill it with something!”
Ellen pulled her needle back out of the ground and gave a swift cut to one side, dragging the dirty needle’s barb across Mary’s tits. Mary gasped and arched beneath her as the hot and uneven stream of blood ran down the curved front of her tits. Mary grabbed at the long thin cut and the slowly spreading blood that came from the lengthy injury. The lower half of her tit was nearly covered in blood by now as she gripped her chest in one hand and thrust out her needle with the other. Another faint clink of metal parried hers away as the two bleeding ladies stood off once again.
“You have to make everything difficult,” Ellen huffed between her anger and her shortness of breath. “Just give up or die already!”
“I can outlast you,” Mary snarled just with just as much aggression and fatigue. “I’m better than you, you selfish cow!”
“Are you ready to prove that?” Ellen challenged, shifting her sweaty grip on her last remaining needle.
“With pleasure!” Mary growled, no matter how winded she was. She lunged at Ellen, slower and more listlessly than she would have liked. The bloodloss and dwindling adrenaline was getting to the women, so her needle still punched into one of Ellen’s plump tits. Blood spurt past it like a cheap cork leaking from a keg. The blonde wailed but jammed her needle into Mary’s side, burying it into any flesh and muscle that she could reach. Mary’s miserable cry rang out as her legs shook and crumbled beneath her. The fall pulled her off the knitting needle but she was left vulnerable as she fell to the ground. Ellen fumbled to resteady her grip and lunged it down for her eye. Between Ellen’s weary hand and Mary’s desperate recoiling from the blow, the woman’s weapon caught her forehead instead of her eye. It still scraped an ugly red trail along Mary’s forehead, the brunette falling backward and clutching her face with a horrified howl as the crimson started to pour past her eyes.
“I’ll do worse to you yet, you sow,” Ellen threatened, cradling her bleeding tits with one arm. Mary tried to crawl away the blonde climbed onto her back, jabbing her needle over and over into the soft flesh of Mary’s back like a human sewing machine. She screamed and kicked, finally bucking over hard enough to send Ellen falling to her side. Mary whirled and swiped with her needle clenched in her fist, nearly as surprised as Ellen when the spike punched right through Ellen’s nipple. The blonde’s horrified expression bolstered the wounded Mary’s courage as she pushed harder into her thrusting barb. It stretched and pulled at Ellen’s tit, pushing it into and then past her other as she wailed and swung her hand at Mary’s. She jabbed at her arm a few times but the puncture wounds were shallow stings and Mary was all but numb from fatigue and adrenaline. With one more enthusiastic pull, her steely needle proved more powerful than Ellen’s breast. The flesh peeled off like a postage stamp, taking Ellen’s nipple with it.
“AOOOGH! YOU BEAST! YOU FIENDISH BITCH!” Ellen screamed in maddening agony. She grabbed for the missing piece of flesh, but quickly failed and returned her hands to trying to tend to her gushing wound. The blood spilled hot and quick as her hands and body struggled to to contain her injury but Mary could see she had struck a devastating blow to her nemesis.
“You’re through, you arrogant witch!” Mary declared, tackling her bloodsoaked foe into the already red-stained grass. She was through with offering her mercy and changes to surrender. She was cut deep by Ellen’s words and weapons, and she would have no more of it. She raised her needle high and rammed it into Ellen’s chest right where she estimated her heart to be. The blonde’s labored scream went on as it pierced deep into her, but judging by the length of the needle it failed to go much deeper than her breast itself. Mary twisted and pushed harder, but Ellen’s flailing arms finally brought her spike up for Mary’s neck. It missed anything vital, but it still left a painful strike into her collarbone. Mary yelped but grabbed and threw the weapon away, disarming Ellen and glaring at her with a mad fury in her eyes.
Mary raised her fist and beat it down on top of the needle’s dull end. It rammed her weapon down like a stake as more blood spewed from Ellen’s chest, leaving the blonde staring aghast as blood sputtered from her lips. She stared at her former friend as she raised her fist again and gave another hammering blow to her weapon, burying it thoroughly into her heart and whatever else it may hit along the way. Ellen spasmed grotesquely as the penetrating blow finished her off, the last of the life and warmth leaving her face as she slumped into the grass. Mary stared down at her, her heavy breath pushing the thinning fog away from her face. She was too exhausted and wounded to know how long she was sitting there, bleeding on Ellen and occasionally slapped her blank-faced head.
“Miss Welsch.” Mary jerked to hear another voice besides her heavy breathing. She saw Alice standing nearby with the case for her needles, having picked up the other that had fallen into the grass. Melissa was standing behind her, Ellen’s second a bit rattled by the whole incident but overall holding herself together. “You are the winner,” Alice went on. “Congratulations.”
Mary nodded and tried to stand, just to falter and fall back to her knees. Alice promptly stepped in with her small kit of alcohol and gauze to do what she could. Melissa saw to Ellen, just to confirm that she was truly gone with the needle buried in her heart. She took out the last letter that the two women had sent verifying their duel, signing off on it in Ellen’s stead to deliver to the local constable before the mystery of the body in the park could get too far out of hand.
Mary’s need for such violence against her old friend was regrettable, but she couldn’t argue with the results. The one woman in her way was gone and word had gotten out about the reasons for their duel. Alice was a person of great interest among the locals while Mary secluded herself to her father’s house, resting and cleaning her many injuries from the fight. They were only just starting to close and heal when she had a visit from Colonel Fry himself.
“You must find me most unbecoming,” Mary confessed, setting down her book as she sat in bed. She still had a number of bandages on her face and chest.
“Not at all. I have seen far worse in the war,” Nathaniel assured her. “I have heard quite a lot about you this past week.”
“All of it awful, I’m sure,” Mary said, blushing as she averted her eyes from his.
“Not completely,” he replied delicately. “It was why I thought I would much rather hear it from you directly. I always was interested in women with a bit of passion to them.”
For the first time in a while, Mary gave a genuine smile. She retold her tale of the fateful day and all the events leading to it, and the fascinated colonel hung on her every word.