Van © 2020
Two Years Later
Near Castle Gladburn, Cumbria, North West
This was Effie's first time
riding in the back of a Rolls Royce. She liked it.
She decided she could get used to it. It was also her
first time in the United Kingdom. She liked that
too. Driving on the left side of the road might take some
getting used to, but riding on the left side of the
road in a Gladburn Group limo was a snap. Krystal
Flambeau was comfortably lounging on Effie's right.
Effie and her boss had flown into Heathrow the day before, spent
the night at The Dorchester, and were now in the final stage of
the long drive from London to Gladburn Castle. The entire
trip was on Lady Jo's tab. Officially, the CEO of Flambeau
Investigations was consulting with the CEO of The Gladburn Group
and this was a business meeting, but unofficially, it was a
ponygirl reunion. Effie was really looking forward to
seeing Jo, Olivia, Jana, and Lolita again. During Kyler
Dragon's trial they'd all been witnesses, and thus had been
forbidden from socializing with each other. But now that
The Dragon Lady was a convicted felon they could finally get
The Rolls had left the final multi-lane "Motorway" sometime ago
and the last several miles had been over modern,
well-maintained, two-lane roads.
Finally, the road emerged from a grove of trees and Gladburn
Castle came into view, perched atop a rocky hill on the far side
of a picturesque lake.
"Wow!" Effie remarked, looking out the side window at the
medieval fortress with its double ring of curtain walls and
tall, central, windowed keep. "Impressive."
Krystal leaned close so she could follow Effie's gaze.
"Oh, I don't know. A couple of trebuchets and a little
Greek fire? Jo would surrender immediately."
Effie favored her boss with a skeptical smirk. "I know for
a fact that Gladburn Group has a lot more employees
than Flambeau Investigations. They'd sally forth and wipe
"Probably," Krystal agreed, then addressed their driver, a
handsome and very polite middle-aged employee of Lady Jo's
wearing a dark gray chauffeur's uniform and cap. "Does the
castle have a secret entrance, George?"
"Certainly, madam," George answered, never taking his eyes off
the road, "but I'm afraid it's a secret."
"Oh," Krystal sighed. "Never mind then. I guess
we'll have to build a giant wooden horse and hide inside."
"Either that or a giant wooden badger," Effie countered,
"Exactly," Krystal agreed.
The Rolls rolled through a formidable iron gate (which opened
automatically as they approached), down a tree-lined drive and
around the lake, climbed the hill, and found themselves in front
of what was obviously the castle's main entrance. A
separate garage or carriage house and a few other outbuildings
were off to one side.
As Effie and Krystal left the Rolls (before George could open
the door for either of them), Lady Jo, Olivia, Jana, and Lolita
emerged from the gatehouse or barbican or whatever the thing
with the drawbridge, massive wooden gates, and open portcullis
was properly called. Her Ladyship and three employees (who
weren't George) were dressed for business in high-heels, skirts,
jackets, and blouses, all obviously expensive, quite possibly
tailored, and in conservative colors complimentary to their
individual hair colors and complexions.
Krystal and her employee were similarly dressed,
although Effie's outfit was off-the-rack. On what Krystal
was paying her she could easily have afforded at least
one top-of-the-line designer ensemble, but went for
functionality and ease of replacement instead. Effie
Dennings was not a fashionista.
Jana and Lolita squealed with girlish glee and scampered
forward. Jana embraced Effie and gave her a resounding
smack on the lips while Lolita subjected Krystal to the same
embarrassing treatment. Effie managed not to blush
(almost) and smiled shyly, but there was nothing shy about
Krystal's smile as she laughed with delight. Jana and
Lolita swapped victims and the outrage was repeated.
By this time Lady Jo and Olivia had arrived. Their
greetings were less ebullient but equally heartfelt.
Pleasantries were exchanged.
"I trust you had a pleasant journey?" Lady Jo inquired.
"First class on British Airways?" Krystal grinned. "A
night at The Dorchester, followed by a trip in the back of a
Phantom? My only complaint is we couldn't get George to
join in the singalong."
George had been unloading Krystal and Effie's luggage from the
Roll's boot. He smiled (slightly).
"George, how could you?" Jo admonished (and smiled).
"My apologies, Your Ladyship," George answered. "None of
their repertoire was in my key."
"Oh," Jo chuckled. "In that case, you're forgiven."
George touched his cap and returned to sorting out the
luggage. Jo led her guests towards the gatehouse.
"We'll have tea in the East Drawing Room while the staff takes
your bags to your rooms and unpacks," Jo dictated as they
strolled across the drawbridge.
Effie frowned. "Unpacks?"
Krystal leaned close and whispered (loudly) in Effie's
ear. "Normal domestic service among the upper crust."
Jana and Lolita giggled. Olivia smiled.
"Extended even to visiting hoi polloi," Jo purred.
They passed under the portcullis and into the courtyard between
the outer and inner curtain walls. Effie noted a narrow
dirt track stretching in both directions and disappearing around
the curve in the space between the massive stone walls.
Centered in the track was pair of wheel-marks, about three feet
apart, and between the marks ran a set of... hoof prints?
They passed through the massive gate in the inner wall and began
climbing a daunting stone stairway that wound up to the keep.
"I like what you've done with the place," Krystal remarked, and
Jana and Lolita giggled.
"Thank you," Lady Jo chuckled. "The fifth Marquess
Fernwood more or less rebuilt the upper keep during the reign of
Mad King George. He decided to retain the medieval
ambiance, inside and out, but added the many 'modern'
windows. Thankfully, he also added running water, making
it much easier for the seventh Marquess to have modern
"Cool," Effie said quietly, and Jana and Lolita giggled, once
again. "I'm serious," Effie huffed. "Who wants to
mess around with chamber pots?"
"Who indeed," Lady Jo agreed, and the climb continued.
The tea was
delicious. Effie still considered herself a coffee person,
but she'd developed some level of tea appreciation in
the two years since her abduction and the commencement of her
Great Ponygirl Adventure. The cucumber sandwiches were also
delicious. Not very filling, but she suspected that
might be the point, that they were little more than palate
cleansers for the tea. Besides, the very idea of filling
up on cucumber sandwiches was... mildly unsettling.
The East Drawing Room was... Effie decided to stretch the word
once again and go with "nice." It wasn't all that big,
almost cozy, and had whitewashed stone walls (like all the spaces
they'd passed through since entering the keep, including what
was obviously at least two much larger drawing rooms and a
library). Its furnishings were comfortable, but
surprisingly, not medieval. Effie believed they
were... Regency period? Furniture style was something of a
gap in Effie's education, but so far she had found her ignorance
of the subject not to be much of a handicap.
Okay, the room was "nice," but included glass-front cases and
display stands that tilted the ambiance in a slightly kinky
direction. Among the items on display were:
(1) A hood/mask of black
leather molded in the shape of a horse's head, complete with
The horsie-hood appeared to be fully functional, and both
corsets were of the wasp-waist variety. That is, Effie was
quite positive a hypothetical wearer of either corset, even one
with a naturally slender waist, would find the nasty things to
be extremely tight and uncomfortable in the extreme!
(2) A shining steel corset!
(3) A black leather corset, with
leather thigh/between-the-legs straps and clips for
securing the tops of stockings!
Lady Jo noticed Effie's interest (and imperfectly masked
astonishment) and smiled. "My ancestors have been
collectors of, shall we say... curious objects for
many generations," she explained.
Effie nodded, then gulped the rest of her tea. "I see,"
Jana picked up the Queen Anne silver teapot and refilled Effie's
cup, then winked. "Wait 'til you see all the fun 'curious
objects' down in the dungeons."
Effie nearly did a spit-take, Krystal, Jana, Lolita, and
Olivia laughed, and Jo smiled (reservedly).
"I'll arrange a tour for later," Lady Jo purred, her eyes on
Jana. "I'm sure I can persuade a certain cheeky,
impertinent, ginger-haired monkey to assist with
practical demonstrations of the objects in question."
Jana blushed and gulped her tea.
Effie found her ginger friend's discomfiture to be...
(Sigh)... absolutely adorable. "Uh, that's okay,"
Effie mumbled. "I'm good."
Jana (still blushing) favored her Canadian pony-sister with a
Effie smiled back (and also blushed).
"And speaking of the dungeons..." Her Ladyship paused for
a sip of tea. She set down her cup and focused on
Krystal. "Has there been any progress locating Tasha
Nash?" Krystal opened her mouth to reply, but was
preempted by the elegant raising of Lady's Jo right palm.
"And before you start dissembling, I am well aware that
you allowed her to escape. It was a necessary
prerequisite for our timely rescue, as well as necessary for the
precipitous capture of Kyler Drāgon. We all concur with
Much nodding and tea sipping ensued.
"I'm referring to your continuing efforts to ferret out
Tasha's hiding place," Lady Jo continued, "despite your
Krystal shrugged. "Tasha managed to abscond with all of
her financial assets, which were substantial, thanks to Kyler's
generosity. Apparently, employees with the necessary
skills to train and manage a first rate ponygirl stable and with
the discretion to keep it all secret don't come cheap. In
addition, on her way out, Tasha managed to electronically loot
the ranch's household accounts. In total, it isn't enough
for her to buy her own tropical island, but it's more than
enough for her to cover her trail, bribe the local law
enforcement, and retire to a tropical island... if
that's what she did. Anyway, I'll keep trying. It
seems like the... prudent thing to do."
"I agree," Lady Jo purred as Jana refilled her teacup.
"And speaking of prudent," Krystal said evenly, "are you
absolutely positive the full details of your resolution
of the Eve Darlington problem is your best course of action?"
Lady Jo raised an eyebrow. "You know about the
details?" She then smiled, rolled her eyes, and sipped her
tea. "Of course you know about the details."
Effie favored her boss with an inquisitive stare.
Krystal shifted her dimpled smile to Effie, then sipped her
tea. "Need to know, my Padawan Learner, and you didn't
"Not good enough," Effie muttered, then turned to Jo.
"What's she talkin' about?"
Jana and Lolita exchanged a wink and giggled into their tea.
"What?" Effie demanded.
"You said, 'What's she talkin' a-boot,'" Lolita chortled.
Effie was not amused. "I'm Canadian. Deal with
it. Also... bite me."
All present laughed (except for Effie). They all knew that
was just Effie being Effie. The Canadian did smile,
course (just a little).
Lady Jo recovered quickly and once again set down her tea
cup. "I found Eve Darlington's betrayal to be especially
hurtful," she sighed. "I thought her to be my friend.
But when Drāgon offered her a chance to replace me as CEO of
Gladburn Group, she betrayed me, totally. She claims she
didn't know about Kyler's plans to enslave me..." She
nodded at Olivia. "To enslave us, and to use us to
satisfy her perverted fascination with 'ponies,' and actually, I
believe her. Otherwise, I would have let Scotland Yard
Effie frowned. "Wait. You're in contact with
Darlington? You know her whereabouts?"
Jo smiled. "I am and I do. You see, the Gladburn and
Darlington families have been friends and political allies and
have enjoyed lucrative financial ties for more than two
centuries. There are many Darlingtons I count
among by friends. I couldn't allow the inevitable scandal
that would follow Eve's arrest, prosecution, and conviction to
ruin the family's reputation. As soon as I was able, I
instructed certain loyal employees in my security department to,
shall we say, expedite Eve's escape and secretly spirit her away
to a safe hiding place."
Effie was still frowning. "You had her kidnapped," she
Jo shrugged. "I've also arranged that that portion of
Eve's salary she has always used to support her poorer relations
continues to flow, allowing certain Darlington elderly aunts and
cousins to enjoy the lifestyles to which they have become
accustomed. And all of my arrangements insure the
Darlingtons continue to receive invitations to Her
Majesty's garden parties, Eve being an exception, of
"That's all very nice," Effie growled, "but you can't just make
people disappear, even if they are dirty rotten
snakes. It causes all sorts of paperwork." Her eyes
widened. "Wait you didn't..."
Jo smiled and resumed sipping tea. "Eve Darlington is
perfectly healthy. In fact, she's in the best physical
health of her life."
"She gets regular exercise," Olivia added, sipping her
"She's here," Effie demanded, "isn't she."
"Very good, Effie," Jo chuckled. "And just to be
clear... technically, she's here voluntarily. She
and I negotiated a new contract. I agreed to keep her out
of prison in exchange for her agreeing to significant
changes in her salary, duties, and lifestyle. And once
the Limitation Act has expired for her non-criminal
offenses, I'll consider her contract fulfilled and she'll be
free to go, with a reasonable severance bonus and the
admonishment to never darken my doorway again."
"And Scotland Yard?" Effie demanded.
"I've arranged things so that Eve's role in our abductions has
been totally... obscured," Jo explained.
"That's it?" Effie huffed. "She betrays you,
Olivia gets to go along for the ride, then she tricks me into
waltzing into The Four Seasons and getting myself abducted
by The Dragon Lady? And now she does what? Lounge
around your castle and ride a stationary bike with a pretty view
of the lake if she feels like exercise?"
Olivia provided the answer. "No, actually. She languishes,
rather than lounges, and her accommodations are a guest
room in the Gladburn Castle dungeons, and as for
Lady Jo glanced at her watch. "How timely. I believe
we can settle the issue with a demonstration." She rose
from her chair and the others stood as well. "If you'll
all follow me..."
Her Ladyship led the way from the East Drawing Room.
They took a
different route through the keep from the one they'd used to get
to the East Drawing Room. It took them down a long hallway
lined with what Effie took to be portraits of Jo's illustrious
ancestors, all of whom were dressed in costumes appropriate for
the Tudor period and all the way up to the 20th century.
They also passed a Grand Hall with a plethora of swords, spears,
axes, war hammers, pole-arms, etc., etc. The medieval
cutlery was all arranged in racks or mounted on the stone walls.
Pride of place was taken by a shield emblazoned with what Effie
recognized as the Gladburn Coat of Arms: red above black with a
superimposed cross surrounded by four rearing horses. She
knew there had to be a much fancier version as well, but this
was the simple, functional version, for purposes of
identification on the battlefield, so friends and/or allies
wouldn't bash them on the head and their foes would know who was
killing them. Effie had no idea regarding the significance
of the elements of the design. Was it more than "we're
Christian and we like horses?" She knew that somewhere,
probably in London, there was a distinguished and probably
elderly gentleman paid to obsess about such things. She
believed he was called the "Royal Herald," or something like
that. Anyway, Effie was clueless. Effie made a
mental note to ask Jo about it later.
Next, they descended a long staircase with a total of four
landings... and eventually arrived at a heavy wooden door.
They passed through and Effie found herself in the open space
between the castle's inner and outer walls. That
explains the ridiculously long staircase, she noted.
We descended all the way down from the keep.
They were standing on a narrow balcony or stone deck set a few
feet above the grass, and there was a low stone balustrade
affording a more-or-less unobstructed view of about thirty yards
of the curved lawn and the dirt track that encircled the
castle. The track emerged from a tunnel with a rounded
arch on Effie's right... then disappeared between a pair of
stone retaining walls cut into the hill on her left. Stone
benches lined the balcony/deck, set back against the inner
wall. There was also a small cafe table and four chairs.
Jo indicated the benches and the table and chairs.
"Please, be seated," she offered. "We shouldn't have long
Wait for what? Effie wondered.
Jo, Krystal, and Effie settled into chairs around the table,
leaving the fourth chair (the chair facing away from the
balustrade) unoccupied. Jana, Lolita, and Olivia made do
with the benches, in that order, and with Olivia closest to Her
As if on cue, Effie heard a gradually increasing rattling noise
emanating from the right-hand tunnel. The rattle was
joined by the clump of footfalls and jingling bells... and
Effie sat upright and her eyes widened. "Wow!"
Rolling into view was a small cart. It
looked "Victorian" in style and was either a well-maintained
antique or an excellent reproduction.
The cart's driver was a very attractive, dark-skinned
woman wearing black riding-boots, black jodhpurs, and two
tank-tops, a black tank under a satiny, slightly skimpier, outer
charcoal-gray tank. A broad smile curled her lips as she
drew even with the balcony/deck and pulled back on the
reins. "Whoaaaa there, Evie," she ordered.
Pulling the cart was—and not to Effie's vast surprise—a
Her costume/restraints were similar to the tack Effie and her
herd-sisters had worn/endured back at Kyler Drāgon's Ranch, but
the style-details were more Victorian, like the cart.
Style aside, the restraint elements were the same, in that her
her arms were folded behind her back and encased in a leather
binder strapped to the back of her corset-harness. Her
breasts were bare.
There was also a bridle/head-harness with blinders, a rubber
bit-gag, and dangling reins; however, in addition, a cluster of
black and red ostrich plumes jutted proudly from the very top of
the bridle, forming a decorative crest. There was also a
leather collar, and the ponygirl's horseshoe-soled boots were
more or less Ranch standard. But instead of a leather
thong/crotch-harness, this particular ponygirl was wearing
(meaning locked into) an ornate steel chastity-belt!
The ponygirl's long, dark hair was plaited in a single braid
secured with a red ribbon and dangling behind her back.
Also, the back of the chastity belt sported a fake (Effie
assumed) ponytail that exactly matched the ponygirl's gleaming
Finally, dangling from the steel rings piercing the ponygirl's
nipples were a pair of tiny, ornate bells that took the form of
Victorian maidens in full skirts. Obviously, they were the
source of the tinkling music Effie had heard earlier.
Oh-by-the-way, despite the bit cleaving her mouth, Effie
immediately recognized the identity of the ponygirl in
question. She was Eve Darlington!
Eve was shining with sweat, panting through her bit, and her
breasts were heaving. It was enough to cause the bells to
bob, but not sound.
"Wow!" Effie reiterated.
Truth be told, like the arrival of the cart, Effie didn't find
this development to be all that unexpected. She
turned to Lady Jo. "So, Darlington's punishment for her
complicity in our abduction and ponygirl enslavement is...
abduction and ponygirl enslavement?"
"Very biblical," Krystal nodded with a mischievous,
dimpled smile. "Old Testament, of course."
This elicited a round of giggles from all present, except for
Effie and Eve-the-ponygirl.
"I asked my solicitors to estimate the length of the sentence
Ms. Darlington might reasonably expect to serve if she came to
trial for her crimes and was convicted on all counts," Jo
explained. "Eve will only be, shall we say, 'roleplaying'
as a pony for that period, dependent on good behavior, of
course. It's hardly enslavement. Slavery
was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833."
"What year was unlawful imprisonment abolished?" Effie demanded
with an even stare.
Another wave of giggles rippled through the balcony, with the
exception of Effie.
"Hold that thought," Her Ladyship replied with a dimpled smile,
then nodded to the cart's driver. "Thank you, Felina."
Still smiling, the driver (who apparently was named Felina)
touched her forehead with two fingers. "You're welcome,
M'Lady." She then clicked her tongue and gave the reins a
Eve-the-sweating-ponygirl stepped off, the cart rolled forward,
and continued rolling down the track. It disappeared from
sight between the curved retaining walls to Effie's left.
The sound of the jingling bells faded first, followed by the
clomping of Eve's boots, followed by the rattle of the
cart. Effie noted that Eve's braided mane and not-braided
ponytail had swayed in a provocative manner... not that she
found the sweaty, semi-naked spectacle of Eve-the-ponygirl to be
arousing or anything.
Effie turned back to Her Ladyship. "You were saying?"
"Remember, Eve has a signed contract that specifies her current
duties and accommodations," Lady Jo stated, "and her salary and
retirement plan continues. Also, she's graciously agreed
to donating the majority of her disposable income to support her
extended family, as well as select charities."
"How very generous of her," Effie huffed.
"She has a very nice room in the dungeons," Jana
volunteered. "It has a bed and everything, and only a few
"And she only has to pull Felina around the track for a few
hours three days a week," Lolita chimed in. "It's very
"Which is why you've talked Felina into letting you pull
the bloody thing at least once a week," Olivia purred.
"You should talk," Lolita retorted (and blushed), "you let Her
Ladyship harness you up for exercise at least twice a
Effie blinked in surprise. "Uh, with or without bells?"
she inquired quietly.
"Oh, without, of course," Jana answered. "The
bells are for Eve."
Effie nodded. Her nipple-rings were still intact,
discretely tucked under her bra (along with the nipples in
question). She assumed and/or strongly suspected the same
was true for all her herd-sisters. She'd made discrete
inquiries and learned that thanks to the high-strength steel
alloy used in the rings in question, in such close proximity to
the soft flesh of Effie's favorite nipples, their
removal would almost certainly be painful, messy, and probably
damaging. Surgery to remove the rings intact by
slicing through her nipples remained an option, but just living
with the damn things seemed easier (in Effie's opinion).
"So..." Effie frowned at her herd-sisters, one by one.
"You all let yourself be harnessed up so you can all
pull the cart?"
"Felina doesn't mind," Lolita answered. "And she doesn't
do all the driving. We take turns." Her smile
brightened. "Just wait 'til you hear her English
accent. "It's very sexy."
"It is," Jana nodded in agreement.
The two Brits rolled their eyes and Krystal chuckled
appreciatively. Effie found the two Americans' enthusiasm
to be mildly irritating (and adorable).
"Her Ladyship gets her exercise by other means," Olivia
"No doubt," Effie muttered, frowning at Lady Jo's dimpled smile.
"Just wait 'til you try it, Effie," Jana grinned.
"Not fucking likely," Effie growled.
"Think it through, Effie," Krystal grinned. "We're going
to be here for two weeks. You have to get your exercise
somehow. Aren't you curious?"
Effie favored her boss with an unamused stare. "Aren't you
"Not really," Krystal chuckled.
"You are decidedly petite," Lady Jo observed, giving
Krystal an appraising look. "My outfits would fit you perfectly."
"Quite tightly, actually," Olivia purred.
Jana and Lolita giggled.
"I'll certainly give it careful thought," Krystal
stated, but it was obvious she was in no way interested in
stripping naked, letting herself get strapped into full ponygirl
ensemble, then dragging a cart around the castle, not even once.
Just then... Eve, Felina, and the cart emerged from the tunnel,
completing yet another circuit of the castle. The group
watched attentively (and appreciatively) as Eve's exercise
continued. Jana and Lolita waved at Felina as she
approached, and Felina smiled and waved back... then the cart
disappeared between the retaining walls once again.
"Well," Lady Jo said, rising from her chair. "Who's
for more tea?"
Effie rose with the others. "I could use a stiff drink,"
"That can be arranged," Jo chuckled.
"Don't forget," Jana said, smiling at Effie. "We still owe
you a tour of the dungeons."
"Yeah," Lolita agreed.
"The dungeons..." Effie muttered. "Don't hold your
The herd-sisters and Krystal passed through the portal behind
them and started the long climb back up to the keep.
Effie pondered the offer to give being a Gladburn Ponygirl a
try, to take Lady Jo's antique one-pony cart for a few spins
around the castle. And it was a one-pony model,
unlike The Dragon Lady's two-pony model, so team training
wouldn't be a prerequisite. Stop it! she mentally
chided herself. That's nuts!
Then again, she'd been involuntarily kidnapped when she was
forced to be Kyler's pony, whereas being Lady Jo's pony
would be entirely voluntary... and she trusted her
herd-sisters... all of them.
Effie scowled. Stop it, stop it, stop it!
They reached the first landing, made a quarter turn, and started
up the second set of stairs.
Well, Effie mused, I have two weeks to think about
it, so... no rush. And I never did get to see
what it's like to pull a cart.
As they reached the second landing, Krystal turned and smiled
back at her employee. "A penny for your thoughts," she
"Shut up," Effie growled, and the upwards journey continued.
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