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The Four Past Lives of Sara Rubin

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She was born into this world on a warm summer's day in the early 8th century. Her mother, Ita, was a frail woman with straw blonde hair and a nervous smile. Her father, Conall, was a burly man who barely spoke to her, only to quit her crying and for keeping Ita awake into the early hours of the mornings. She was born as Ronnat, a strong name for how unnaturally resilient she was in her adolescence. It had been a miracle that Ita could even bear a child, Ronnat heard her father’s constant stories and remarks of how Ita must be a witch for how she survived such a feat.

Ronnat loved the sea where she was born in Dublin, she loved watching the tide come in and sweep over the rocks; pulling the loose pebbles and sand in with it’s strong grasp. Living so close to the dangerous shores proved to show how merciless the ocean could be and who’s souls it so unfortunately took. Ronnat’s close friend, Lassi, was pulled under as they had been digging for sea shells to bring to their mothers to make into necklaces. Ronnat’s screams for help were drowned out by the roar of the sea as Lassi was pulled out into the dark depths.

She grew up to be strong, Lassi’s death was a stark reminder of the horror she had to survive through. Her father was a constant reminder of the dangers life had to bring. He would come home covered in marks and cuts from hunts, sometimes bleeding all over her mother’s wooden table, telling Ronnat tales of boars and other beasts and how she could be killed with one final blow to the head.

“Don’t ye be tellin’ my daughter those tales, Conall!” Ita shrieked, her hands shaking as she tried to pour whiskey on a rag to dab at her husband’s bicep.

“Ye thick whore! She’s cursed with a fanny between the legs! Me own skills might just help keep her alive! She’s no scrawny, chicken whore like you,” he spat at her, making Ita shriek again, “so she could be a miracle child.”

Her father’s words were rough and sharp around the edges, but at the mere edge of six Ronnat knew how to decipher them and learn that she was to live a life of proving to her father, and any man that crossed her path, that she was made of more than just pretty curves and a waiting fanny for some prick to enter whenever he felt the need to release himself. She had seen how her father treated Ita and how he roughly tugged and pulled her hair and wrists, tugging her skirts up when they thought she was asleep and bending the frail woman over the weak table.

Ronnat knew she was made for more than just being a plaything or some necessity for a man to marry and bear him children. Maybe she should have been born with a prick, big and long enough to give a better chance at bearing children. Maybe she could make her father proud at how her body could bear muscles like his and go help defend the city against the threat of Vikings. Maybe she wouldn’t just be some dumb object for her father to sell off or worry over a Viking breaking into their hut to rape her and steal the little gold they had.

But she was born with a woman’s body, a wet clit between her legs, and beautiful curves that were easy to be grabbed by unwanted manly hands. So Ronnat did what she could with her given circumstances, she joined her father in his morning hunts. At first he shooed her away, but she didn’t leave, even when he slapped her across the face and yelled, spittle getting all over her chubby baby faced cheeks. She still scowled up at her father, a mere child at age nine, and stood her ground.

She showed herself in carrying his axes in her frail arms, not once complaining of the weight and how her back ached. Her father soon came to appreciate her help, even going so far as to admiring how she stayed quiet and took note of how he could approach game and slay the unknowing animals. She didn’t flinch at the sight of blood, she had seen one of the village ladies giving birth and had gotten over her disgust at bodily fluids and the gore of it early on.

Her father finally allowed her a knife, showing her how to wield it. She practiced on hunting squirrels and rabbits, creeping up on them and pouncing, cleanly slicing their throats before they could get a squeak out. To say that Conall was impressed was an understatement, even though he was angry with his daughters girlish holdbacks.

“Teach me to fight.” She blurted out at the dinner table one evening, her eyes burning from trying to divert her attention from her father’s abuse of her mother.

Conall laughed loudly, almost breaking his chair in the process, slamming his ale down on the wooden table with a loud smack, the bitter liquid sloshing over the sides and getting on Ronnat’s cooked rabbit, her first meal she had brought back home.

“You should be cooking with yer whore of a mum, pipsqueak.” He roared with laughter.

“I am not going to be her.” She snarled, angry that her father wasn’t taking her seriously.

Conall finally relented and stared at his daughter. He was slightly buzzed from his ale, but serious enough to actually think about the wonders of his firstborn.

“If I am going to teach ye anythin’,” he slurred, “ye need to grow some meat on those weak little bones of ye’s.”

She took a huge bite of her rabbit, staring her father dead in the eye as she did so, not even bothering about the juices covering her chin.

“Already on it.”

Everyone in Dublin knew that Conall was a respected man in the village by the sea. He was vicious and fierce, able to spear a boar in one steady blow. So it was an oddity for sure to see the man with his curly haired, brunette daughter in tow along many of his hunts. She had cut her hair to hang over her shoulders (she noted that her hair was getting more red and that disgusted her, because her mother had been a strawberry blonde)  and she tied it back with a burlap strap, never wearing skirts that would trip her up, but breeches made especially for her by the seamstress on orders of her father. The boys in the village learned to not tease and shout insults and slurs at her when she would spar with the bakers son, Segan. Segan was tall and burly, and by the time that Ronnat and him were twelve years young she could beat him easily with blunt spears.

The girls never talked to her, afraid that she was bewitched into becoming a boy and now had a prick hanging between her thighs, and the boys didn’t take her seriously. She didn’t belong anywhere, but that didn’t matter to Ronnat because she wasn’t going to be underestimated.

Her mother died that year trying to give birth to a son to appease her husbands wishes and insults. The baby boy died with her, and Conall firmly believed he was cursed in some sort. But he also believed he was blessed with a daughter who could beat any man she came across. She was a being of any other, and deep down in his knotted heart he admired her strength and vehemence to not be the weak bitch her mother was.

Ronnat wasn’t entirely fazed by her mother’s death, but she did mourn her brothers death. She had wanted to raise her brother to be strong like her and to show him that there were women out there that would not be some plaything for him. She wanted to teach him so much, to not fall for the frail and weak women who played along with the stupid mindgame of being the perfect housewife for him, but instead to find himself a strong girl who could beat him in a fight.

When Ronnat was fourteen, the Viking attacks were getting closer to their shores. Conall didn’t want to marry his daughter off, but he knew that the Vikings would come at any time.

“I am not marrying Fergus!” Ronnat screamed as she threw her axe at the practice dummy built in the family barn.

“You’ll give us gold, you damn girl! Don’t you see? The Vikings get closer, you should get off with this fancy boy and give us a life while we still have it!” Conall thundered.

Ronnat was forced into dresses, the rumors of a prick between her legs grew in various degree and a game ensued around the town to see which guy could lift her dresses to check and see. But the bets were put to a sudden stop when Ultan was decked in the face as he came from behind her. Her wedding to Fergus Walsh was set and in stone, even though by night Ronnat would practice swords play with her father in their barn, if in the case of a Viking attack.

But right on the eve of their wedding night of that year, 831, Vikings attacked the shores of Dublin. Conall was called out in the middle of the night to join the front forces, forcing Ronnat to stay behind and defend the house and their gold. She had screamed at him, but stayed despite her growing rage. She grasped her sword tightly, wincing every time she heard a woman’s screams, knowing they were either being bludgeoned to death or bent over any available surface and fucked relentlessly. The mere thought made her squirm and clench her thighs.

She finally heard the sounds of gruff voices approaching her hut and she stood up, sword in hand and ready to fight. The door was kicked open and a large man jumped inside. Ronnat screamed and plunged her sword into the man’s stomach. He yelled, guttural and choking, as his friends jumped to his aide. Two more men, one of them tall and broad chested, the other shorter and fatter but with enough meat on his bones to produce muscle, and a tall woman. The woman surprised Ronnat, all decked out in a fur cloak and trousers and boots, with a large axe in hand.

The shorter man had jumped forward and started swinging his axe at her, so she held her sword up in defence. She had practiced so many times with her father, at his large height, so she was ready and prepared for this shorter man. In no time at all, Ronnat had her feet moving in the way her father had taught her and she was no longer in the defence, clashing her sword heavily against the Viking. He let out a cry as her sword met his shoulder by impact and the woman stepped forward, pulling him away and stepping in between her sword and his axe.

“Enough, young lady.” She grunted.

“I’m no lady.” Ronnat said through gritted teeth.

The woman grinned, a frightening look by any other person, but to Ronnat it was somewhat welcoming.

“Good, we will spare you and you can join us.”

“You will allow me my life that easily? On what accounts?” Ronnat asked.

“You just beat one of our men in a duel. We never lose, lady.” The blonde man spoke from the back.

Ronnat’s attention was drawn to him and as their eyes met, something sparked with life in her chest. It was his eyes that drew her in, that made her heart grow twice in size and her skin spark. He had deep brown eyes, but they had a spark in them that had a sense of life in them, just like the grin growing on his bearded face. He was a dark blonde, his facial hair not as long and gangly as the other rumored vikings, but just as bushy as her own fathers.

“What of my father? He must be dead by now.” She spoke, her voice cracking just slightly, which caused her to flinch at her weakness.

“Mayhaps,” the woman grunted. “But if he is alive we shall spare him as long as he spares our men.”

Conall was alive, being held prisoner in the town front. He felt a rush of relief to see his daughter alive, but also a sense of admiration to see that her dignity seemed to be in tact and she wasn’t being escorted as a prisoner.

“This be your father, lady?” A gruff woman spoke as they approached.

Ronnat nodded her head, looking her father in the eye.

“You swore to not hurt him. Now let him go.” Ronnat ordered.

The blonde man nodded his head and waved his hand to one of the other vikings guarding the prisoners. They untied Conall and took his sword and any other weapon of use.

“What of my daughter you beasts?!” He cried as he watched them shove Ronnat towards the boats.

“She will become a fierce warrior,” the woman who spoke earlier said, nodding her head at him in respect. “You have trained her well. We will not harm her.”

And they kept their promise. The vikings proved to be a rough crowd, yelling, cursing, punching, and shouting all the time. But what Ronnat grew to know on the ship that was now her home, was that she was not seen as a plaything. At first, some of the men had stared at her, talked and guffawed in her presence, but the woman she had met, Brynhild, made an announcement.

“Since I am unmarried and without children, I am taking this young lady in as my child! She is no Thrall to be pushed and shoved aside! She will be treated as one of us!”

They took their boat back to to their homeland up north, where the mountains touched the horizon with their peaks and the land was fresh and green with life. Brynhild took her in, giving her proper clothes and a room for her own. She taught Ronnat the way that Vikings lived, how she could do as she pleased and own what land she inherited when Brynhild died, since she was now known as her daughter.

Ronnat grew to love the new life she was given. It was such a stark difference than what she had grown up with in Dublin. She had admired her father, never actually loving the harsh man, but she now lived in a place where she was actually respected by men like him. She wasn’t forced into a skirt for the fanny between her thighs, but was shown how to better wield an axe and how to put more muscle on her frail womanly body.

But what she grew to love was that she wasn’t forced to marry. She didn’t have a father to force her into an arranged marriage, so she didn’t have to face any sutors. And if she so desired to be with someone, she could have the option of leaving the marriage if she so liked. She could even have children with a man and not commit herself to him through marriage if she pleased. It was the life that had been destined for her, she was sure of it.

The blonde man had come along with them to their homeland, introducing himself as Rolf Hastain, a young man with a pretty wife. Her name was Hilge and she was wonderfully bright and witty, becoming a close friend of Ronnat despite her grievances of the woman. Rolf was a tall man, broad chested, but had the kindest smile she had laid her eyes on. It bewildered her that a burly man could have a smile that soft around the edges and a fond love for his horses and his baby girl at home.

It opened something inside of Ronnat’s chest that she had never known had been there; a deep longing and yearning for a man to be that kind and loving to her. She was jealous, yes, of the couple but she couldn’t be angry. She admired the way that Rolf kept his manhood, carried his axe around, and fought valiantly, yet he was gentle and soft with his wife and child and towards any other woman he came across.

Rolf wasn’t the only nice man amongst the vikings, no there were many young bachelors who treated Ronnat with respect on the practice fields and in passing of the village. As she grew older and the years passed, her young and girly body grew more into a woman’s. Her breasts grew in and filled, she grew hair down over her clit and under her pits, but her face lost the baby fat that made her innocent and young and sharpened her cheekbones and chin and defined her deep green eyes. Her hair even got a little more red in the roots like the irishman in her blood.

But as she grew into her womanhood, she found that none of the suitors around her just didn’t pull her in like Rolf had that very first day. It was a feeling that overwhelmed her chest and her brain, making her confused and irritated with herself. She couldn’t imagine herself being that soft and vulnerable like how Hilge and Rolf were with anyone else but Rolf himself. So by the time that Ronnat reached twenty, she told Brynhild that she didn’t want to marry anyone.

“And why, must I ask?” Brynhild asked as they sat around their fire, eating their dinner of scallops and boar meat.

“I can’t explain.” Ronnat said, scrunching her brow in anger at her mixed feelings stirring in her soul.

“Try, I will wait and listen to whatever troubles your soul.”

Ronnat smiled despite her inner battle, she admired that Brynhild was patient, unlike her old father and his sudden bursts of anger.

“I never experienced “love”,” she scoffed at the mere word, “I never saw it in my parent’s marriage and how my father bent my frail, weak mother over our kitchen table and demanded a son. I was mocked and teased for wearing trousers and bearing an axe as a girl by the boys, the girls used to tell tales that I had a prick under my skirts.”

She paused and played with the fabric of her trousers, abandoning her meal.

“But I have been treated with respect here. I heard tales of Vikings raping women and killing the innocent, but you have all accepted me, trained my hand with experience of an axe, and allowed me to be myself. I can’t help but love another who is already loved and married. I am ashamed of that, when these men have not raped and abused me, forced me into a skirt or into a marriage that I do not want. I want to accept their proposals as a sign of my gratitude, but I can’t ever love them like how I do for another.”

She hung her head, expecting her guardian to yell at her, kicking her out for shaming her name. But it never came, Brynhild just laughed and smiled at her.

“Rolf told me of his affections for you the minute he saw you. But he was already wedded to Hilga and couldn’t betray her like that.”

“You knew?!” Ronnat exclaimed.

“We all know, child! But soulmates will always find each other in another life.”

“What do you speak about?” Ronnat questioned, snorting as if it was a joke.

“There is legend and myth that when our bodies die, our souls stay on this earth to enter another body and start a new one. A woman in Constantinople once claimed that her dead son entered the body of another boy years later.” Brynhild told her in story like form.

“That is shit and you know it!” Ronnat accused.

“We know nothing of our lives, my child. We are here on this earth and we don’t know why. I have heard stories that love is what spurs the soul to stay, because in this life we don’t get to fully come into the love we have for our soulmates. So we are blessed with as many lives as we must take in order to fall in love and complete our life.”

Ronnat took Brynhild’s story as just that, a fantastic tale that inspired little children. But despite her insistence, she couldn’t help the spark of hope inside of her that so desperately wanted to believe in something for once. She could believe in her ability to swing an axe, Rolf and Hilge’s friendship towards her (despite her affections), and her home with Brynhild. But she wanted something with a spark, even though she couldn’t afford to believe it. She wanted a chance to, even if it did mean she was naive to the real and bitter world she lived in.

Her life of living in the north, away from the dramas of Europe and kings and petty wars, finally came to a halt when the Vikings boarded up on their boats again and planned for more pillages. She was at the age of twenty four now, unmarried, and strong with weaponry. She had grown up to become a more beefier woman, her shoulders broad and her arms muscled from working amongst the other men. Rolf had even shown her different routines, leading her through them and getting her help in chopping firewood and lugging it back the seven miles to the village.

She was enthusiastic to join along with the Vikings in their raids, willing to show and prove herself to them. They believed in her, so she wanted to show what she was worth. They sailed out, raiding a port town called Ribe. There was blood, fire, and screams, but Ronnat followed in Rolf’s heed and had his back as he had hers. 

“Why do we kill innocents?” She had asked Rolf before they had attacked Ribe.

“In our eyes,” he said calmly, polishing his axe blade, “they aren’t really innocent. They are forcing their religions on the people, baptising, blessing, and cursing others in the name of their god. They claim they want to bless this earth, but they are trying to force their name and brand on everyone.”

He winked, causing Ronnat to blush furiously and scowl, smiling a toothy smile as he looked up from his axe.

“They’re also weak, so focused on their own petty problems that they never see us comin’.”

Ronnat found that she could kill, but only when she had to defend herself. She didn’t purposely slaughter the women and children, only the men who came at her with their knives and cleavers. She just pictured that they were trying to come for her dignity, and it was easier to stab them through the chest.

After the attack on Ribe, they sailed along the coasts of Normandie and Frankreich, some of their ships going back to the homeland to drop off their slaves and the gold and jewels they had stolen. Ronnat and Rolf stayed with the ships staying on course, making their way towards Noirmoutier.

It was hard for Ronnat to queal the desires and thoughts in her head about Rolf. He was kind and defended her in the raids, he didn’t go home to his wife and child instead he stayed by her side and defend her pride and honor, and he slept beside her as to ensure that no one got any ideas and attacked her in the night. He didn’t talk much, but when he did he had very wise things to say and stories to tell that stirred her stomach and guts like a boiling pot of soup.

As they landed on the beaches of Noirmoutier, she couldn’t help the feeling that stuck in her gut, making her limbs feel like led and her head grew heavy. Something felt wrong and she couldn’t place her finger on it. It was irritating and distracting, almost costing her her life a few times if it hadn’t been for Rolf.

“What is the matter?” He asked her as they scurried behind a building for cover, their own men starting to light fire to several nearby huts.

“I am not sure, something feels wrong .” Ronnat mumbled. “I do not know what I am speaking of, let us get along.” She motioned for Rolf to lead the way.

“You are sure?” He asked, placing a hand on her bicep.

The touch alone ruined her, heat soaring through her veins and scouring her insides. She was being undone by a simple touch, and wasn’t that pathetic . She looked away from his hand and up into his eyes; those same brown eyes that had reached out to her in the hut she grew up oppressed in. The words came tumbling out of her mouth of her own accord before she could stop herself.

“I respect you, Rolf. Very much, you are a fearless man, a great man who has shown me the greatest kindness and friendship.”

His eyes softened and he smiled, despite the screams and horrors happening around them.

“I have wanted to say this for quite some time. But thank you for your belief in me and the respect you show me.” She muttered, her throat feeling like it was closing up despite herself.

“My dear Ronnat,” Rolf spoke in the softest tone, “you are most welcome. You deserve any man’s deepest respect, and I am deeply moved to be the only man to get that from you.”

It was the closest thing to a love confession Ronnat had ever heard and she wanted to kiss him so badly. She had never felt the urges of a woman before, always ignoring and pushing her sex to the back of her mind in an attempt to learn more about wielding weaponry, so she was surprised at the sudden passionate need in her chest and screaming in her head. But Hilge was her friend too, a lovely person who had shown her kindness, she couldn’t betray her like that.

They were pulled away from their confessions when the screams and shouts got closer to where they were hiding in the shadows, alerting them that they needed to be ready to attack and fight. Rolf started to step out, but suddenly Ronnat caught sight of something silver gleaming in the moonlight.

“Rolf!” She screamed as the gleam disappeared and a man stepped out of the shadows and lunged at Rolf, his sword slicing straight across Rolf’s neck.

Ronnat’s knees wobbled and she screamed as Rolf staggered backwards into her body, blood spilling down his neck and out of the corners of his mouth. She lunged and swung her sword at the man, catching him by surprise (his eyes had widened upon seeing her as a woman) and piercing her swords straight through his stomach. The fool hadn’t been wearing any armour, she thought bitterly even though Rolf was covered in armour across his entire torso. All besides his exposed neck.

“R-Rolf, p-please, n-n-no.” She stuttered, sobbing and tripping over her words as she cradled Rolf’s head in her lap.

He was choking and quickly dying, she realized. His eyes found hers, glistening with tears and words unspoken, before his choking stopped and his grip on her hand slackened. She let out a loud sob as his beautiful brown, sparkling eyes stopped glistening up at her and faded with the life that had once been inside of him. Pain ripped all throughout her chest and heart as she cried out to the sky.

They defeated Noirmoutier, but deep inside her chest she didn’t feel the victory her men felt. They had set up camp outside the city, celebrating and feasting, but Ronnat didn’t join the party. She immediately approached the leader and requested to take Rolf’s body back to his wife and child. The next morning she was sailing back to her home with Rolf’s body wrapped up in clean cloths. Vikings hardly had a death count on their side, but when they did it was a blow to the people.

But a few nights later, Ronnat experienced her first sea storm. The storm came in unnaturally fast, clouds spreading across the sky so fast and lightning lashing out of the sky and thunder clapping above their heads. The boat was tossed about violently, causing everyone on board to rush to its aide in getting the ship safely through the night. But the winds picked up and the waves crashed and pulled the ship around.

Ronnat was pulling ropes and trying to help the masts when a wave crashed and hit the bottom of the boat so hard that she was flung across the ship to the ledge. She grasped at the ropes and boards beneath her desperately, feeling the ocean spraying beneath her. Men screamed and yelled above her, trying to get to her and help her up over the ledge inside the boat.

But suddenly another wave hit and everything was in slow motion. Ronnat wasn’t sure if she herself let go or if she lost grip of the ship but she was suddenly falling into the ocean. Her back hit the water, her mind wandering back to when she was six and watched Lassie get pulled into it’s dark depths.

It was a little bit poetic, she thought as she sunk under the waves, that she was being dragged under the water when the beautiful, dark ocean had been her inspiration throughout her growing up life. She admired the beauty of the waves and ocean spray, the shells and pearls it brought up to the surface, but the danger that lurked in it’s darkness and the strength of it’s tides was what really inspired her.

She didn’t even scream or struggle against the darkness surrounding her as the moonlight above her snuffed out and her lungs ached and burned ferociously. She just simply closed her eyes and allowed the burn to spread.

The boat made it through the storm, giving Rolf’s body to his wife and child. But a story had been sparked of their brave Viking Warrior Princess, Ronnat Kelly-Turgot, and how she had avenged his death but was swallowed by the deep dark ocean. Brynhild Turgot was distraught over her adopted daughter’s death, but she swore to anyone that would listen that Ronnat’s soul still lived because she had so much more to accomplish in her life.