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It reads now like one of those rather silly stories that fall half-way between fantasy and science-fiction. You know the sort of thing I mean? They usually begin with something like; 'I was window shopping in some of those small streets and alleyways that seem to be lost in Soho when, suddenly, I found myself outside this dark musty-looking curio shop.'
As it happened, I wasn't in Soho; in truth I was some two hundred miles from London and neither was I window shopping. My intention had been to start out on a holiday with my long-standing one-time school friend, Sally. In fact, I did start from London, which is where I both live and work, and I was to pick up Sally from the main railway station in Leeds. Had all gone according to plan, we should have been occupying our as yet unseen holiday cottage in the Lake District that same night.
I was running on time and perhaps ten miles from Leeds station when my mobile rang; I reached for the speak button which was handy by the steering wheel and found myself talking to Sally. She wouldn't be able to make it; her Mother had been carted off to hospital and quite understandably, she couldn't depart on a two-week holiday until, at the very least, she had a report from the medics. So... Sally was some thirty miles north of Leeds, I was ten miles south of Leeds and we were destined not to meet that day.
"Carry on, Marie," she said. "We can keep in touch through our mobiles and hopefully I'll be able to join you in a few days."
There was some relief at least in being able to turn away from Leeds and I drove the next umpteen miles on autopilot while I turned over in my mind the possible re-arrangement of plans. When I finally pulled into a parking lot determined on finding a place to eat, I had no idea of my whereabouts. A pleasant enough meal in a pleasant enough place and with a pleasant enough bill to follow. Then, before going back to the car, I decided on a little walk and a brief exploration of this quaint little place.
Which brings this tale to the inevitable curio shop!
All that I sought was a brief period of relaxation when I opened the door to the clang of a mechanical bell.
It was exactly as the story-tellers demand it; darkish, mustyish, somewhat smellyish, decidedly overfull-ish. Nobody came in response to my bell and so I simply continued with a slow browse. It was the usual collection of brass - mostly rubbish, some bits of furniture - some of which might well have been genuine but their condition was such as not to appeal to me; a large collection of copperware - bed-warmers and kettles and the unbiquitous loads of glass items.
In the corner, at the end of the wall where I had started my inspection, I came across a wooden box. The box looked neither old nor new and it left me wondering whether it was an item for sale. Or perhaps it was the owner's box of cleaning materials - to judge by the place, such cleaning materials had been mislaid for seme time! Only one way to find out - I opened it.
It might have been as well had I not done so ... but I did.
The contents were most certainly curios but as to their origin or purpose - that was another matter. The first thing I lifted out appeared to be a small helmet; too small surely for most men but it could have been made for a woman. Or a child? Attached to it was what I thought to be a neck and shoulder guard made from very small-link chain mail. It was pretty heavy stuff and so not likely to be a child's toy.
"I see that has excited your interest too?" The voice came softly from behind me and I turned. "That makes two of us."
"What exactly is it?" I asked. "The size is a bit odd but it seems be meant for business."
"Yes," he said, "that's about as far as I've ever got with it. I've had several experts look at it and it appears to be of no value and little interest. They think it was probably made by an amateur for fun or something. Anybody's guess."
I was about to return the helmet to the box when I noticed that, still in there and obviously exposed when I lifted the helmet, was a small brass figurine. "Now this I like."
"Yes. I would agree with you... 'though what exactly it depicts is again a matter of choice?"
"They don't belong together, surely?"
"Well... they certainly came together but, apart from that... ? We haven't any real idea where the box came from anyways. A couple of years ago, we cleared a large house for an old lady's executors and organised a sale; we think it may have come with that lot and been overlooked but, to be absolutely honest about it... we haven't the slightest idea."
"What do you think he is? He seems to be working on something."
"Yes. Seems he might be wielding a hammer or the like. Not a blacksmith... they're usually shown lifting a mighty mallet like a fourteen-pound sledge. But he could be a metal worker ... say a gold or silver smith or perhaps even an armourer if... and I repeat if... he goes with the helmet and its chain mail."
"Umm. But he is really lovely. There's real action there. May I buy him?"
"Why not take the box? Three pounds would get him out of my way?"
"Why not? Come you home with me, my mighty smiter."
Because I did not have to meet Sally and was on my own, I tended to prevaricate somewhat with the result that it was getting late by the time I picked up the key and obtained the necessary directions. I finally arrived at the little cottage way after dark; indeed I was surprised at the easy way I found it in the dark. I moved in only the essentials and so the majority of my stuff would need to be unloaded the next morning. But when the box caught my eye, I decided to take my Armourer in for further inspection.
Unwinding with a pot of tea, I sat looking at him for some time and then I set him on the window sill while I casually turned my attention to the helmet.
It did seem to be more of a size for a woman - and hasn't there lately been talk of Roman female gladiators? Gladiatrix, I should say. I lifted the thing and speculatively held it over my head. I slowly lowered it and was surprised at the way my head seemed to glide into it. It was quite comfortable too; I had half expected it to be hard and unwelcoming. The chain-mail hood slipped down over my shoulders as though it had been made for me - definitely must have been intended for a woman. It dragged a bit across my shoulders whenever I turned my head which indicated perhaps that the original model had been somewhat more slightly built than myself?
Wearing it, and surrounded by the metallic snood, made me feel quite protected but whether I should have used the word 'snug' or 'smug', I couldn't decide. For no reason that I can recall, I didn't remove it but completed my going-to-bed chores with it still in place right up to the moment I actually got under the covers. Luckily I didn't receive any visitors because I might have opened the door forgetting my new millinery.
The long day with its long drive, coupled with my late night, conspired to make me sleep late the next morning. Well, it was Sunday and I had only myself to please. I was awoken by the insane warble of the mobile telephone; Sally rang to say the news was not good and she doubted she would be able to join me before Thursday at the earliest.
It was one of those fine mornings about which we always dream when contemplating a holiday and so I slipped on my dressing gown and went down for breakfast. A quick tour of the little garden was completed before I realised that I was not dressed for visitors - as though such were likely? - then I took a shower, dressed and sallied forth to explore the surrounding country.
I walked a lot further than I had intended and returned close to four o'clock with food and a pot of tea high on the list of priorities. A short time later, pleasantly pleased with myself, I dropped into the big chair and, leaning back, found myself under scrutiny by the Armourer. I reached for him and discovered that what the shopkeeper had said was true; there wasn't any kind of mark on him to show his provenance. He was undoubtedly the work of a highly skilled artist but that had to be his only claim to justifying the three pounds with which I had parted.
With him back on the window-sill, I developed a strange feeling that his curiousity about me was as keen as mine about him. I picked up the helmet again; was it possible the two were connected? What sort of tale could I weave about them? I donned the helmet again and was once more surprised at how well it seemed to suit me. It took me about twenty minutes to notice that the hood no longer dragged about my shoulders; I could turn my head from as far right as possible to far left and... it didn't drag.
I felt reasonably certain that it had done so the previous evening. On the other hand I had been tired after that drive, especially having to finish it on strange roads in the dark; it was possible that I'd had the edge of the hood caught up on something? I was not convinced but... facts are hard to deny. There wasn't anything on television that really interested me and so I went to bed.
Monday passed with much the same routine. I came down late to breakfast in just my nightie and then went out to count the blades of grass. The sun was beautifully warm and so, after a quick look around, I whipped off the night gown and wandered the garden in my birthday suit. It felt gorgeous but I was reminded that Sally was not here and so we had missed a wonderful opportunity for some outdoor nude bondage.
There was, of course, no lack of countryside to explore and again I came home hungry for a late dinner/lunch and then collapsed into the chair. There he was again, that Armourer, bent over his bench but looking at me in his enigmatic way. I had been thinking most of the day, on and off, about the strange fit of that helmet and its chain-mail hood. Could it really have changed? Instead of picking up the figurine, I retrieved the helmet and tried it on again.
It slipped over my head with the same ease as before and again the chain-mail hood slid down over my shoulders without snagging on anything. Was that perhaps because of its linked construction? That meant it was able to shape itself to whatever it may encounter? The realisation, when it came, stunned me into immobility. When at last I slowly put up a hand to my face, I made a mad scramble for the mirror.
It was true! The chain-mail now extended right across my face - like a veil - from just below my eyes and it fell to my armpits! Looking back on it now, I cannot understand why I failed to be frightened. I was staggered... yes. I was surprised ... and how!. Unbelieving... well, how would you feel?
I can only attribute the lack of fear to my love and knowledge of bondage; far from frightening me, to some extent, it excited me. The garment was not in any way confining but it did produce a wonderful feeling of being protected and safe.
I crossed the room and picked up the figurine. "If indeed you are ... correction, you were... an Armourer then this must be your work? Don't ask me how... or why... but, dammit, there's nobody around here for miles I wonder just what the hell you are preparing me for?"
Perhaps had he answered me that would have been frightening. Perplexed, I sat down again in the chair, tucked my legs up under me and fell to contemplating my little statuette. It's easy enough to understand what followed. I had spent two long days out in the open air, I had just eaten a substantial meal and I was warm and comfortable...
Therefore, I fell asleep then and there in the armchair, in my helmet and clutching my Armourer.
A couple of hours later, I stirred and slowly awoke; my legs were begging to be straightened. I put the figurine back on the sill and went into the kitchen to prepare a hot drink. There, while pouring water from the kettle into my mug of chocolate, I became aware of the latest change. The chain mail now fell to the top of my legs. I hadn't noticed it at once because it consisted only of a front and back panel... it was open at the sides and so did not immediately confine my arms. There was no longer room for doubt; this was not the work of any local human hand and I could only account for it by attributing some magical power to the figurine of the Armourer. The shopkeeper had said that the helmet and statuette had come into his possession together; had they travelled always together?
I was still not frightened, only curious. Why had he chosen this time to complete the job? What would the armour look like when finished? Why me? Surely there must have been other people associated with it? What had the old lady, the late owner, known about it?
All questions to which answers were lacking. I put him back on the window ledge and, taking the helmet with me, I put myself to bed.
That was the night of the first dream.
Of course, I didn't know at the time that it was to be the first of many; nor did I realise that many of the dreams would be repetitions and some would be serial dreams in which the action continued from session to session and night to night.
In that dream, I was walking captive through woodland.
My hands were bound behind me and the rope was taken around my waist. A short piece of rope was tied between my ankles as a hobble. Another rope, tied around my neck, was being used as a leash to drag me behind a thick-set man clad in upper-body armour and a helmet. He carried a shield and a whole arsenal of sword, knife, bow, axe and spear. Hung about his waist was a miscellaneous collection of familiar things that he had looted from our home. Somehow I knew that I was the only survivor of our small family and that I was part of his... loot.
As we moved on through the trees, I gradually became aware of birds singing and a slow increase in the light-level. I tugged mightily on the cords binding my wrists and they suddenly burst free. I looked fearfully toward the form of my captor who was now standing perfectly still...
Slowly, I realised that I was looking at the helmet, with its hanging garment of chain-mail, silhouetted against the window where I had hung it the previous night.
It was, after all, just a dream such as any might experience who indulge in bondage and kidnap fantasies? I thought of it no more as I went about my now daily routine of breakfast, naked walk in the garden, tramp (clothed!) the glorious country around the little cottage and finally return weary for the evening meal and rest.
But I found that my fascination with the Armourer and his garment was turning into obsession; I could not get my mind off the subject. Before I started on preparations for the meal, I went up to the bedroom to fetch it. As I lifted it down from the hook, the feel of the chain-mail against my hands gave me a new idea; I determined to strip first so that I could don it with the mail against my naked flesh. Thus came my next surprise.
As I went to draw it over my head, I found that the front and back panels were now joined. There was no sign of a seam of course; all he had to do was add a row of links. Now getting dressed was becoming a serious matter; I was obliged to hold it above my head, arms extended upward, and allow it to slide down my body while ensuring that my hands passed out through the arm holes.
It felt wonderful. It hugged my body like a well fitted ball-gown. That was the point when I realised that it had also become longer... the hem line was now about mid-calf! I admired myself in the mirror for some minutes; about all that was visible of me apart from my ankles and feet were my eyes. It looked as it felt... mysterious and exciting.
I turned the bedside lamp upward and shone the light directly on my face; I was hardly more recognisable because the light glinted off the shiny metal and masked the dim image that filtered out. I moved around inside my helmet - no, it was rapidly becoming a garment - and the sensations that were aroused can only be described as sensational.
I liked it... very much... and I simply went down to the kitchen to prepare the meal still wearing it. I wore it all the evening, apart from the time I was actually eating, and was sorely tempted to sleep in it but, apart from the absurdity of the thing as a nightgown, I doubted the comfort value as the night progressed. I stayed up very late and then had second thoughts about going to bed in the garment. In the end I decided that the Armourer seemed to do his work better when I was asleep and so it would be wise to keep out of his way.
I dreamed again that night and, indeed, it was from that time that I realised the dreams were becoming a part of my life. As with all dreams however, they came in disjointed and mixed-up segments. This time I was a slave-girl as indicated by the manacles I wore on my wrists; the connecting chain, some two feet in length, was not restrictive and I knew that its purpose was but to indicate my status. That they were made of gold protected me from all forms of molestation because they signified I belonged to one of royal blood.
In iron manacles, I had been put up for sale in the market but, at the last moment, I had been withdrawn, the iron cuffs struck-off and replaced by these. Then a cloth was thrown over my head and I had been carried off - to find myself in this place. When the cloth was lifted I found myself looking again at my original captor now once more standing motionless - in my own bedroom!
On Wednesday, the weather took a turn and I found a dreary overcast sky, wind, rain and a decided chill. Hence I aborted my morning frolic in the garden and postponed my countryside tramp and was pleased to do so... I now wanted to enjoy my chain-mail dress. Then the mobile rang. Sally had sadly to report that her Mother had died; after talking with her solicitor, she decided that she would have to visit relatives in Ireland and so she asked me to stay put - she would call on me on her way.
I lit a fire, stripped and prepared to revel. Yet again, the Armourer startled me. I wriggled into the chain tube and pushed my arms out of the side holes and then reached up to settle the helmet on my head. Only then did I realise that I couldn't see properly. The eye hole appeared to be covered! A quick visit to the mirror revealed that a small veil-like curtain now was affixed to the front edge of the helmet and it was this, hanging down over my eyes, which was obscuring my vision. Now this may be the very thing for protection in a fight but I considered that he had gone over the top for this day and age. But perhaps... he didn't realise that a remote spot in 20th-century Lake District was long after his day? In any event... Who would go into battle arrayed in a full length gown? Certainly more than a trifle odd? I lifted the veil and found that it could be pushed out of the way.
There had been some difficulty in reaching the mirror and the reason became clear when I looked down. The skirt had been lengthened again and now swept the floor; it was necessary to hold it up when I walked. Where on earth was he going? But it was very much a fun garment to wear and I remained in it all that day. During the late afternoon, I watched a film on television but it was so intriguing that it induced sleep !
I was awakened rather dramatically by a stupendous clap of thunder. The generator was still going and I had lights but the television screen was blank. That lightning stroke seemingly had knocked the transmitter off the air. Rain was drumming against the windows and wind was doing its best to remove any and every thing in its path.
I made for the kitchen with a hot drink in mind. Although I was holding up the skirt of the garment it was nevertheless tricky to walk and... yes... the Armourer had been busy again while I slept. Now that long skirt was tapered from my waist to the floor and would have assumed the properties of a hobble at my ankles had he not now engineered a slit up the back. Old square; didn't he know that slit skirts were always slashed at the side so as to show off those glorious legs? But it was unbelievable the effect it produced on my figure. He really ought to have gone into the fashion and corsetry business.
While leaning forward to make my drink, the veil fell and obscured my vision. When I went to lift it again, I discovered that it now reached well below my chin. Moreover, a small hole had appeared in the chain mail across my lower face which would allow me to eat and drink without disrobing. Hmm; thoughtful fellow this Armourer. But was he attempting to hide me from all eyes? Perhaps this garment was not made for me but for a member of the royal family to whom, as a slave, I had belonged in the dream? One whom nobody may look upon? Could it be that I was taken from the slave market to serve as a clothes mannequin?
I took my drink upstairs and lay for a long while listening to the elements having their turn to revel; perhaps there would be a return to sunshine tomorrow? Eventually I fell asleep and once more entered dreamland.
Next morning the wind had eased but now there was a thick swirling mist. Everything was ringing wet and it was hardly safe for a stranger to the area to go out walking - so I stayed home. When I examined the dress, I found yet more changes. It now boasted two long fairly wide sleeves. That meant wearing it, I would be just about one hundred per cent covered. Was this Armourer kinky or did he simply appreciate my kinky nature? A pity Sally was not here to share the experience with me... but perhaps later... ?
I did clever things with the fire before I stripped and performed my shimmy act to wriggle into the dress. Yes, indeed. The addition of the sleeves was very much an asset; it was becoming a really erotic piece of fetish wear. But, for the first time, he had committed a boo-boo; the sleeves were just a trifle too long and kept falling down over my hands. Like a medieval garment, the back of the sleeves were long and pointed and reached well below my finger tips. Now, with a fabric garment, you can just push the sleeves up above the elbow and they will stay there for long enough; I discovered that with chain-mail they cannot even be pushed up the arm! But, on his performance so far, I felt confident that this would be corrected by the next time I tried it on.
I sat by the fire after lunch; it was very cosy there in that little cottage. The wind had dropped to just sufficient strength to stir up the mist that blocked the view; the rain no longer lashed the windows and so it was all very peaceful. Full of food... I dozed off. The mobile chanted its vile call to wake me - Sally had a sailing booked for Monday afternoon and hoped to be with me Saturday evening.
It was as I put the 'phone back on the coffee table that I realised my left arm was trapped in something. There was a broken link of chain-mail caught in the end of my sleeve and hooked also into the skirt just below my waist. It was not difficult to un-thread it but, as I turned it over in my fingers, I could not escape the query as to where it had originated?
I wriggled out of the thing and began a painstaking search but I could not find any part of the dress where a link was missing or broken. Of course, an odd link could have... during one of his many sessions... ? But why had it not scratched me during one of my wriggle-in-and-out sessions? Then, as I remembered that he always seemed to work on it while I slept, the suspicion began to build that it was not an accident that had brought my left arm close to being trapped as I dozed.
I went to the kitchen and collected the ball of string from one of the drawers. I threaded a six-foot length through the edges of the skirt-slit like a shoe-lacing and then got back into it. I drew the ends of the string tight and, as I had begun to suspect, the slit closed up to pull the hem close about my ankles - I was hobbled. Then something else became obvious; I continued with the lacing along the hem-line and it became equally clear that the skirt had not been made too long at all. When I had finished the lacing and tied it off I found that the skirt was sealed under my feet; it had become a tapering closed bag from which there could be no escape were the string to be replaced by chain links.
Now I turned my attention back to the sleeves. Yes, they were too long for everyday use but, each one needed only a single link, such as the one I had discovered, to trap the arms. More links could be added at leisure but... one below each hand would do the trick short-period. The appalling truth now crashed around me...
But for Sally's timely call a few more minutes would have made me a helpless captive in my erotic dress. It would have become the formal-dress equivalent of a straight-jacket. A straight-dress?
I tore at the bow with which I had secured the string but, in my haste, I bungled the knot and made myself truly captive. In the baby position, I crawled to the kitchen for the sharp vegetable knife and slashed it all away.
Sitting there, stark naked in front of the fire, I spent a long time looking at the heap of metal on the carpet. It was a moment of truth. I had learned the difference between bondage games, when helplessness is welcomed in the care of a trusted friend, and enforced captivity which is imposed by stealth and without escape.
But the Armourer was not a real person? Surely? What could be the purpose of all this? I could not be held captive here in the rented cottage for more than another few days and, if abduction was his aim ... then just how... and to where? I began to feel that my panic session had been unnecessary; whatever the mystery of the Armourer he could not harm me any more than could any other ghost? That was comforting indeed but nevertheless I was reluctant... extremely reluctant... to don that garment again.
That night I slept fitfully and dreamed chaotically. I had become a model for the Armourer who was making a suit of protective body-armour for the royal daughter. I had been removed from the slave-market because I was perceived to be exactly the model required. He brought the suit each day, carried over his shoulder and, after the fitting, took it back to his workshop; while he was present I was forced to wear a veil but my manacles were removed... temporarily. This dream occurred over and over in various scenarios.
But more. I was noticing the manner in which he often treated me, looked at me, spoke to me. I was beginning to feel that he treated me as though I was his own slave. When he carried that all-enveloping suit over his shoulder would it be noticeable if I were inside it?
I slept very badly that night. Twice I awoke with an uneasy feeling. The second time was well after dawn. I lay there for a long while as I turned over in my mind the events of the last few days but... there seemed little possibility of making any sense of the whole thing. How could the dreams with their apparent flash-back sequences be related to the garment? But, equally, how to explain the growth of that garment from the simple helmet with the neck cover?
Eventually I opened my eyes to discover that fine weather had returned. I got out of bed, crossed to open the little window and stood there for some time enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the birds. Then, with breakfast and coffee top of my list, I turned back to pick up my dressing gown for the air was not as balmy as it had been before the storm.
One more shock; there on the bed beside where I had lain was the chain-mail gown... the straight-dress! There could not be any kind of doubt but that I had left it in a heap on the carpet in front of the fire; I had been left with absolutely no desire to ever put it on again and so why should I have brought it up to my bedroom?
If this Armourer could work on constructing the garment... then it was not all that preposterous to suppose that he could have moved it upstairs? But... had he been trying to trap me in it while I was asleep? Was he indeed intent on my kidnap? It may be preposterous but, if that had been his intention, then it was fortunate that I had sufferred a disturbed night. Ironically my fitful dreams were all his fault. Had he, I wondered, failed in a real life attempt and been executed? Was that why the garment had remained unfinished?
Then came a secondary thought: he didn't have to be a kidnapper? He could simply have been trying to rescue a lover from her slavery. Given that the guards were not too alert, that the girl was not too big and that she kept her nerve and remained absolutely still and relaxed then the all-covering chain-mail gown he had made for me might well have concealed an escapee?
But this gown undoubtedly would hold me prisoner! I gathered it up, carried it down out into the garden then went back to the living room for the statuette. Lifting the veil, I dropped the Armourer into the helmet and then, with a large stone, beat the helmet almost flat. Then I twisted the chainmail into a tight neck and tied it firmly around with the string, folded the dress back over the helmet and tied it again above the crown, folded it back and tied it again around the neck and repeated this until I ran out of chain-mail skirt. I regret to say that I then indulged in the cliche, "Get out of that, you bastard."
I was washing the dishes after breakfast when I heard a car draw up outside and, to my very great surprise, there was Sally. I rushed out to greet her but, in my relief and pleasure at her unexpected early arrival, I burst into tears. That and the bundle of chain mail on the path left me no alternative but to tell it all while she ate a hearty breakfast.
Sally cannot be blamed for her scepticism but she was sympathetic and tried her best to calm me. She offerred a solution; she would take the Armourer and his bundle with her and drop it overboard when the ferry was half-way across the Irish channel. I felt a wonderful sense of release as, later, I watched her drive away.
I had been home for some two weeks when the police arrived seeking any information I might have regarding her Irish business. They had traced her on to the ferry and off again; they had regained possession of her car - undamaged. But Sally had disappeared apparently into thin air... without trace.
How could I tell them about the Armourer?
I am certain that Sally's curiousity, coupled with her own interest and excitement in all matters concerning bondage, had caused her to keep the chain-mail bundle. Almost at once, I realised I had overlooked the horrifying fact that he was an armourer!
In other words... he was more than capable of reversing my damage to the helmet and so escaping. Had Sally tried on that gown and experienced the same pleasurable excitement as I had found? She lacked my experience during the build-up to the final scene and almost certainly would not have had a thunderstorm and a telephone call to awake her at crucial times of danger.
How the Armourer could have achieved his purpose and to where he may have taken her was - and still remains - beyond my comprehension and it is likely to remain so unless Sally re-appears. The Police would never have accepted my story and there is nothing at all that I can do to aid her. If he wishes any joy from his capture, then Sally will not spend the rest of her days in that chain-mail bag but... I greatly fear she is to spend the rest of her days where, most probably, she has no wish to be.