What a nice place!

by Van © 2016

Chapter 2

Dramatis Personæ


THE SINCLAIR-HARPER Expedition into the untamed wilds of the Isle of Caer proceeded apace.  Habitat-wise, the Isle was a mosaic of brackish wetlands, slightly more elevated grasslands, and deciduous forest, with the trees sheltered between a pair of parallel, rocky ridges and sloping hills.  At first flush, the trees, grasses, and sedges seemed to be the same found on the nearby English mainland, but Cat wouldn't be too surprised to find that a formal ecological survey would contain fewer species.  The principles of island biogeography suggested as much.  The smaller and farther away an island was from the nearest large landmass, the fewer the number of species.  For that reason, the Isle of Man lacked many of the plants and animal species found on Britain and Ireland.  The Isle of Caer might be closer to Britain, relatively, but it was also much smaller.
Robin redbreast
As for birds, the usual avian suspects were seen flitting about—godwits, curlews, and a few dunlins near the water, and goldfinches, robins, and a flash of yellow that might have been a greenfinch as they trekked towards the forest.  They didn't do any serious birding.  Sorting out the various species could wait until they'd found a campsite.  That said, Cat and Cecelia did pause to watch any foraging robins they encountered.  Cecelia characterized them as "serious cuties," and they both agreed that their fascination for the little gray and orange-breasted Old World flycatchers was probably because they were so different from the larger, red and black thrushes they were used to calling robins back in the states.

"When Brits and other Europeans visit North America," Cat suggested at one point, "they probably stare at our 'robins' in wonder."

Cecelia was skeptical.  "Umm... not so sure, but I get your point.  It's a sad thing to get jaded."

Cat smiled.  "Let's agree to pay special attention to our robins when we get home," she suggested.

"Deal," Cecelia agreed.  "And the same goes for the local starlings."

Cat rolled her eyes.  "Let's not get carried away."

Squirrel!In terms of mammals, the only species they encountered immediately was a red squirrel.  Apparently, the invasive gray squirrel some idiot had transplanted to Britain from New England hadn't yet made the crossing to the Isle of Caer.  There had to be other mammals on the island—mice, voles, shrews, foxes, stoats, weasels, etc., maybe even red deer—but only a vociferous and clearly quite perturbed squirrel revealed itself, and this happened just as they found the perfect campsite.

"Poor guy," Cat chuckled as they heaved off their packs.  The squirrel continued chattering from a distant tree.  "There goes the neighborhood."

"Hey, it's not like we're a pair of foxes, or something!" Cecelia shouted in the squirrel's direction.

"Speak for yourself," Cat chuckled.

The squirrel chattered and flicked its bushy tail for a few more seconds, then decided to find a less human-contaminated part of the forest.

They'd found a mixed glade of oak, holly, and maple trees with a small stream nearby.  On examination they realized the site had been used before.  There was a modest shrub and sapling-free clearing perfect for pitching a tent, as well as a small stone fire-pit.  It was little more than a ring of stones, and the ashes in the center were very old, well on their way to weathering into charcoal-laced soil.  Once they cleared away the fallen leaves the pit would be perfect for their cooking needs.

"I'll gather firewood and fill the water jug," Cecelia volunteered.

Cat nodded.  "I'll pitch the tent."

Soon, their REI Half-Dome 2 tent (in Applemint) was pitched, sleeping bags and pads spread, tablets were dissolving and treating the water now filling their collapsible plastic jug, and Cat was preparing to kindle a small fire.  Meanwhile, Cecelia had gathered their freeze-dried food into a nylon stuff-bag, tossed a coil of paracord over a convenient oak branch several yards from the campsite, and was hoisting the cache into the air.  This was a precaution against rummaging bears routinely followed by North American backpackers.  Of course, the entire UK wildlife conservation and zoological communities would be flabbergasted and gobsmacked by a report of a brown bear visiting Cat and Cecelia's campsite, but the tactic was equally effective against mice, voles, and even squirrels, if the bag was properly positioned.

Squirrel complaints aside, the Expedition was off to a smashing start (as the local humans would say).
 Chapter 2
That evening the campers enjoyed a dinner of re-hydrated beef stew and "bug juice" (strawberry-pomegranate flavored drink), then sat around their small fire and enjoyed the gathering dark.

"This forest is amazing," Cecelia sighed at one point.  "It must have been what Britain and Ireland were like before the first humans arrived."

Cat disagreed.  "Not really.  This valley isn't big enough for succession to a true climax forest.  Add to that the regular storms blowing in off the Irish Sea and taking down the occasional tree and—"

"Yes, yes, Miss Biology Major," Cecelia chuckled.  "Also, it's too far south for conifer forests or... taiga?"

"If you're referring to the Scottish Highlands," Cat responded, "yes, taiga."

"Anyway," Cecelia continued, "I'm talking about transitional deciduous forest before the first humans."

"With a prehuman stone fire-pit," Cat noted.

Cecelia's response was cogent and succinct.  "Shut up."  She knew Cat was teasing, of course.  Silence stretched for several seconds.  "Well..." Cecelia said, finally, "I guess I'll turn in.  Uh..."  She batted her eyes at her godmother.

"Let me guess," Cay purred.  "You want to play."

Cecelia nodded.  "Uh, yeah."  They were referring to their mutual competition to see who was the best escape artist.

"Even though you played last night... and the night before last."

"The night before last doesn't count," Cecelia countered primly.  "Mrs. Ingleby barged in while you were down the hall in the bathroom and ruined the game."

Cat was shocked.  "Say what?"

"Don't have kittens... Cat," Cecelia giggled.  "Mrs. Ingleby came in with fresh towels and found me tied up on the bed."

This did nothing to help Cat relax.  "Did she, uh, freak out?"

"No," Cecelia answered.  "I was embarrassed, of course, but she acted like it was no big thing.  Even checked your work."

"My work?"

"Your knots," Cecelia clarified.  "Anyway, she ruined my concentration and thereby my escape, so the night before last doesn't count."

"Well," Cat huffed, "that's logical.  Okay, you can play."

"I don't want to be selfish," Cecelia said with a coy smile.  "If you want, I'll do you tonight, and you can do me tomorrow night."

"I think not," Cat intoned.  "Get ready for bed."  On occasion, Cat had been known to play the role of damsel, but usually it was Cecelia.

In short order, Cecelia had made a trip to the woods to relieve herself, brushed her teeth, and was inside the tent, reclined full length on her sleeping bag.  She'd reduced her costume to bra and panties, her usual backpacking pajamas.

Cat crawled inside the cramped tent, knelt at Cecelia's side, and pulled two three-foot lengths of paracord from a cargo shorts pocket.

"That's all?" Cecelia asked with a petulant pout.

"Take it or leave it," Cat chuckled.

"I guess I'll take it," Cecelia sighed.

A wry smile curling her lips, Cat set to work.  Soon, Cecelia's ankles were tied together with the lashings cinched and carefully knotted, twice.  The little blonde's wrists were next.  Cat tied them behind her back with her hands palm-to-palm.  They usually reserved hands-in-front bondage for situations in which Cecelia's hands and feet could be tied to something, thus keeping the key knots safely beyond the range of her lips and teeth.  Cat tied the final knots on the side away from Cecelia's fingers and thumbs, then sat back on her heels.  "Finished."

"Not very tight," Cecelia huffed.

"Tight enough," Cat chuckled, then kissed Cecelia's lips, helped her squirm into her sleeping bag, then pulled up the zipper.  "The next time a strange woman finds you tied up on your bed," she admonished her ex-ward, "tell me."

Cecelia giggled, then struck a coy smile.  "When you came back from the bathroom I was pretending to be gagged," she explained, "so I couldn't tell you.  Anyway, where did you think the fresh towels came from?"

Cat favored the tied up youngster with another wry smile.  "We're lucky she didn't call the police."

"Oh posh!" Cecelia giggled, then grew more serious.  "She was very nice.  I like Mrs. Ingleby."

"I do too," Cat agreed.  "Anyway... I'm gonna stroll down to the grasslands and see if the stars are out."

Cecelia batted her eyes, again.  "You're abandoning me?"

"I'm abandoning you," Cat confirmed.  The grasslands began less than a hundred yards from the campsite and Cat didn't intend to stargaze for very long.  "If the fairies come and try to spirit you away, just scream.  Maybe I'll hear."

Cecelia affected her best pout.  "Tomorrow, when it's your turn, I'm tying you to a tree, all night."

"Good luck with that," Cat chuckled.  She had no intention of standing passively with her back against a tree and letting Cecelia lash her in place.

Cat turned off the tiny lantern dangling from the peak of the tent, made her exit, zipped up the mosquito net, and left the campsite.  The fire had gone to coals and it was dark under the forest canopy, but Cat knew that once her eyes were fully dark-adapted she'd have no difficulty negotiating her way among the trees and finding her way back to camp.  She had a small flashlight in one of her pockets in case the clouds closed in and the darkness became total.

Back in the tent, Cecelia tested her bonds and squirmed in her bag.  They'd started playing the "Damsel Game" when Cecelia was thirteen, about a year after she became Cat's ward.  It began when a female guest star on a TV cop drama was bound and gagged by kidnappers.  Cecelia stated that she could easily escape if Cat tied her up like the onscreen victim.  Cat not only accepted the challenge, but proposed a round robin tournament.  So far, after hundreds of iterations, it was unclear who was winning the bet, although they both knew it was probably Cat.  They'd each escaped from the other's ropes on only five separate occasions, each, but at her own insistence Cecelia was the designated damsel much more often than Cat, so Cat's escape average was markedly higher.

Were Cecelia's bonds inescapable?  Probably not, but they were good enough.  She wasn't sure why, but the little blonde got a charge out of being helpless... in a safe and secure environment, of course.
 Chapter 2
In terms of construction, Lytham-on-Ribble's only hotel—"The Blood Rose & Trumpet" (Mrs. Eunice Ingleby, proprietor)—was typical of the village.  A mix of timber, plaster, and red brick, some parts of the structure dated back to before the Civil War (meaning Roundheads vs. Cavaliers, not Blue vs. Gray).  It had been expanded and renovated many times, and it would take extensive research by an architectural historian to ferret out the details, including the taking of core samples from the accessible timbers to establish their dendrochronology.  The slate roof was in good repair and the window casings foam-sealed and weather tight.  Even when a winter storm blew in off the Irish Sea, the guest rooms were neither drafty nor chilly.  Quaint, charming, and dated?  Of course, but that was just what the tourists wanted.

The hotel's cellar was also typical: dark, rough hewed vertical timber support columns and overhead beams, brick foundation walls, stone flags underfoot, a clutter of discarded furniture, timber shelves crammed with cardboard boxes of seasonal decorations and cartons of dishes and glasses to replace breakage in the Public Room upstairs, and a modest accumulation of dust and cobwebs.  However, the cellar had one feature that was rather atypical.  Opposite the wooden stairs to the ground floor and way in the back was a very solidly built timber door reinforced with iron straps and set in a hefty timber frame.  It had heavy iron hinges, a large iron bolt and hasp, and was secured by a modern high-security padlock.  Mrs. Ingleby jokingly referred to it as her "Treasure Vault," the place where she kept her most precious and valuable objects safe and secure.

On the far side of the door was a small room, roughly twenty feet on a side.  At some point in the recent past, meaning within the last hundred years, someone had run electrical power through the wall and a single dimly glowing fixture dangled from the rafters, providing the only light.  As for heat, a small electric heater was nestled in one corner, its grid-protected coils giving off an orange glow.  The room was dark (spooky dark, actually), but toasty warm.

There was also a wooden chair of quite solid construction in the center, directly under the light and facing the door, and it was bolted to the floor.  Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure the chair remained exactly where it had been placed, and the same went for the chair's occupant.

The occupant in question was Kadence Harrington.

Kadence was naked and tied to the chair by neat, tight, well-cinched coils of soft, white, braided cotton rope.  Her wrists were bound behind her back and the chair's back, her elbows lashed a couple of inches apart, her thighs together, just above the knees, and her ankles together with her bare feet resting on the floor.  In addition, horizontal and lateral bands of the same white rope lashed her to the chair from ankles to shoulders, passing across her shoulders, around her torso and arms, above and below her naked breasts, her waist, and her thighs and the chair's seat.  Finally, her bound ankles were held in place by taut ropes passing between the front chair legs. 

Kadence's long, straight, ginger hair was loose about her shoulders.  A white cloth was stuffed in her mouth and a long, narrow, bandage-like white cloth had been wrapped around and around her head and under her hair, multiple times, acting as a cleave-gag and keeping the stuffing in place.

The prisoner-of-the-chair gave every indication of being resigned to her fate.  The tight, flesh-dimpling ropes lashing her in place, she sat in the chair without moving, other than the rise and fall of her rope-framed breasts as she breathed.  Kadence glowed.  That is, a patina of sweat glistened on her smooth, peach-pink skin in the dim light.  The Treasure Vault was, indeed toasty warm, bordering on too hot, in the opinion of the naked, bound, and gagged treasure in the chair; however, she supposed, that was better than catching a chill.

Just then, Kadence detected the sound of the padlock being unlocked, followed by the hasp being released and the bolt drawn.  This was followed by the squeal of oil-hungry hinges as the heavy, solid door opened.  Framed in silhouette against the dim but relatively brighter lights of the basement proper was the author of Kadence's predicament: Mrs. Eunice Ingleby.

Mrs. Ingleby smiled the warm, friendly smile so familiar to all the residents of Lytham-on-Ribble, the same smile with which she greeted her hotel guests.

Kadence lifted her head and shook the hair from her gagged face.  A few wispy strands remained behind, captured by the sweat glistening on her smooth, fair skin.

Mrs. Ingleby stepped forward and used her fingers to gently comb the trapped hair to either side and tuck them behind the captive's ears.  "Closing time is still an hour away," Eunice explained, "but I wanted to make sure you hadn't escaped."

Kadence rolled her brown eyes and heaved a gagged sigh.  She had two reasons.  (1) Not even a rat could escape from the Treasure Vault.  Not even a mouse.  Not even a pygmy mouse.  The door was not only massive but tight in its frame.  Granted, there was a tiny opening in the wall for purposes of ventilation, but even it was protected by iron bars and a heavy wire mesh grid.  (2) Mrs. Eunice Ingleby had been practicing her rope skills since she was a girl.  It had started when she was a junior maid at Caerwyn Castle (at a time when Lady Jocelyn Caerwyn was the Honorable Jocelyn Caerwyn and even younger than the new maid).  Eunice had received an apprenticeship in the art of binding nubile young ladies (and being bound by nubile young ladies) and had perfected her skills over a lifetime of practice.

Eunice used her right hand to cup Kadence's left breast, then gave it a gentle squeeze.  Kadence shivered in her bonds in response.

"Her Ladyship tells me she has managed to catch a glimpse of the young Americans as they were gazing at the shorebirds on the eastern marshes... without being seen, herself, of course,"  She squeezed Kadence's breast, again, then began toying with her nipple.

Kadence shivered, again.

"She agrees that the pair are very pleasing to the eyes," Eunice continued.  "I have every confidence she'll also find them to be quite charming... once they formally meet."

Kadence locked eyes with her captor and mentor.  Eunice Ingleby was also her employer, as she owned both the
Blood Rose & Trumpet and Titania's Wardrobe, the shop where Kadence had sold the Americans in question their fey hats.  But all that meant was that Kadence had every reason to believe the Wicked Witch of Lytham-on-Ribble (meaning the Good Witch of Lytham-on-Ribble) wouldn't leave her tied to the chair for more than a few minutes after closing time.  Kadence had to be sufficiently rested to provide customer service to shoppers for Fairy clothing and accessories and to be ready to work tomorrow's late shift in the Public Room upstairs.

"Well," Eunice purred, still smiling her dimpled smile.  "I just wanted to reassure myself that my bedwarmer was ready.  The next few days should be... interesting."  She leaned close and planted a kiss on Kandence's glistening forehead, then left the vault, closing and locking the door behind her.

Kadence gazed at the back of the closed door, then closed her eyes, settling in to wait for Mistress Ingleby's return.  Tonight would be far from the first time she'd be sharing Edith's bed; however, it would be the first time in more than a week.  She suspected her "captor" was in a randy mood.  Edith usually was when something "interesting" was happening on the Isle of Caer, like one of the prospective maids she'd handpicked from the area maidens was undergoing a "job interview," or a pair of American tourists with a discovered proclivity for rope games were wandering the island.

The only thing to do is try and take another nap, Kadence decided.  Edith will be considerate, knowing I need my sleep, but it would be rude not to deliver at least one crashing orgasm before we both drift off to sleep.
 Chapter 2
Dawn of what was planned to be Cat and Cecelia's final full day on the Isle of Caer dawned clear and bright.

"We've been lucky with the weather," Cat said as the campers cleaned up after breakfast.

"I suppose," Cecelia agreed.

Thus far there had been only one brief interval of rain when a squall blew in off the Irish Sea, but it was over quickly and had left behind a very pretty rainbow.  At the time they'd happened to be at the edge of the forest and the start of a stretch of bleak moor, with Castle Caer in the distance.  The semi-authorized tourists remained among the trees, of course, so as not to be seen from the windows and ramparts of the ancient fortress, but they certainly enjoyed the view.  To be ecologically correct, the couple of hundred yards of treeless land separating the island's central woodlands from the Castle's rocky peninsula was temperate grassland, but Cecelia insisted that "bleak moor" was a much more romantic description.

Both birders had added several new avian species to their "Life Lists," the rosters of bird sightings maintained by all serious amateur ornithologists.  Cat and Cecelia were bona-fide birders, but neither was obsessive about their lists.  Some birders could be obnoxiously competitive, but Cat and Cecelia were in it for the birds, not bragging rights.roe deer

They'd confirmed that the island did have a deer population, first by their tracks, and then by the actual sighting of a small herd browsing in the eastern grasslands.  They identified them as roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), rather than the larger red deer (Cervus elaphus).

As for other mammals, all they encountered were more red squirrels—most of which, like the first squirrel they'd encountered, were vociferous to the point of hysteria when they noticed the human intruders—but no other mammalian species.  This wasn't surprising.  Theirs had been a short visit and they knew they would have had to be lucky, indeed, to encounter foxes, weasels, or other predators without themselves being seen first.  It was a given that the local mammals knew they were on the island, and while they were watching the birds, beady little eyes were almost certainly watching them; but other than the chattering squirrels and grazing deer, none of the furry locals showed themselves.

A little before noon they returned to camp to prepare lunch—and found a surprise waiting for them.

Someone, obviously a person, had visited the campsite and left something behind.  Propped up on the edge of the largest stone of the fire pit was an envelope in a clear, plastic, zip-lock bag.

Cat and Cecelia looked around, nervously, but their tents and gear were undisturbed, as best they could tell, and no one else was present in the clearing or lurking in the trees.

Cat picked up the envelope and removed it from its protective bag.  "Expensive paper," she noted.

"Yeah," Cecelia agreed.Tea at the Castle!

Cat opened the envelope, pulled out and unfolded an enclosed note, and held it so they both could read the elegant calligraphy of its contents.

"Well," Cat said, "it looks like we're busted."

"Very formally and politely busted," Cecelia agreed with a giggling smile.  It was clear she was as much nervous as amused.

"Afternoon tea at the castle," Cat sighed.  "I knew I should have packed my formal garden party dress and matching silly, absurd hat."

"I've got mine," Cecelia giggled, "but it would be improper for one of us to be properly attired and the other dressed like a hobo."

"A smelly, dirty hobo," Cat sighed.  They were both wearing the only change of clothes they'd packed for the trip.  Their original shorts, shirts, and undies had been laundered (meaning rinsed in the stream with a tiny dab of environmentally friendly, phosphate-free soap) and were drying on a paracord clothesline rigged between two trees on the edge of camp.  Their current shorts and shirts were decidedly rumpled and slightly sweaty.

"Well..." Cat sighed as she refolded the invitation and returned it to its envelope, "I guess we'll have to make do."

"At least we got the silly hats," Cecelia giggled, doffing her fairy cap.

"There is that," Cat said evenly.  "Let's fix lunch, then you can go first."

"Huh?" Cecelia responded (profoundly).

"Bathing in the stream," Cat clarified.  The stream in question was little more than a tiny brook, so bathing would take the form of a sponge bath.

"That's gonna be cold," Cecelia noted, shivering in delicate anticipation.

"Oh, buck up," Cat teased, "ya big baby."

"Don't be mean," Cecelia giggled, then stuck out her tongue.

Cat chuckled, rolled her eyes, and went to retrieve their food bag.

"At least tea at the castle will mean something other than freeze-dried food," Cecelia noted as she began building a fire.

"One can only hope," Cat agreed.
 Chapter 2
Castle Carewyn's library was extensive.  Not as vast as the largely unread collections of some of the Great Houses, but it did contain more than a thousand volumes.  Almost all were bound in leather, some were quite old, and a few were very rare and would fetch hefty prices if they ever came to auction, but such an eventuality was astronomically unlikely.  The castle's tomes had the added virtue of all having been read at least once by a member of the Caerwyn family (and their staffs) over the generations, usually more than once.

Her Ladyship, dressed in her usual sandals, jeans, and comfortable blouse, was seated in one of the comfortable wing chairs in the reading alcove attached to the library proper.  Its windows admitted abundant light, especially when all three layers of the progressively more opaque curtains and drapes were pulled open and tied back, as they were now.  This allowed both easy reading of the book open in Jocelyn's lap and illuminated the fair, peachy-pink skin of Elise-the-maid as she went about the task of dusting the shelves of the main library, removing the tomes one-by-one and wiping them down with a tack cloth.

Elyse's ginger hair was coiled in a tight bun with a lacy white maid's cap pinned atop her head, and she was "wearing" a variant of the castle's summer uniform for junior staff.  To wit, Elyse was naked, except for the set of "slave-chains" locked around her wrists, ankles, and neck.  A series of connecting chains linked the cuffs and collar, and as an added refinement, a steel chastity belt was locked around the naked maid's tiny waist and through her crotch.

Why?  Tradition.  Elyse had done nothing wrong and was not being punished; however, at Castle Caerwyn no excuse was required to lock the maid in chains.  The Caerwyn clan had been connoisseurs of restrained feminine pulchritude for time out of mind.

Elyse did not whistle while she worked.  In fact, hovering above the petite ginger was a veritable cloud of Tragic Sorrow precipitating a light shower of Pathetic Ennui.  The assigned task was being accomplished in a workmanlike fashion, of course.  Otherwise, Elyse might earn herself a true punishment.  But clearly, Elyse wasn't happy.

Chains aside... why?  Again, tradition.

It was the maid's job to "suffer" in courageous, stoic silence, just as it was Her Ladyship's job to carefully ignore the kinky and undeniably erotic spectacle that was Elyse-in-chains.


Just then, Nora entered the library.  She was dressed in a highly unusual manner for a Staff Mistress: hiking boots, pants, blouse and a floppy hat in woodland camouflage.  It was the old "disruptive" pattern used by the British Army until their recent adoption of "multi-cam," but was obviously a quite effective means of blending into the natural world, especially the island's central forest.

"Our heroic commando returns," Jocelyn chuckled.

Elyse carefully hid a giggling fit behind a delicate cough, not wanting to invite the wrath of the Staff Mistress.

"Invitation delivered," Nora reported, tossing Her Ladyship a snappy salute.  She turned to Elyse.  "You, snap to it and finish your dusting.  We need to get you out of your playthings and into a uniform fit for receiving visitors, then prepare the parlor for Afternoon Tea."

"Yes, Drill Sergeant," Elyse answered.  Respectful subservience aside, some degree of snappy banter was expected.  It was a careful balancing act.

Her Ladyship smiled and returned her gaze to her book.  "Carry on, Drill Sergeant," she purred.

Nora snapped another salute.  "Sir!"  She did an about face, as best she could, then did a quick-step march from the library, arms swinging.  "One, two, one, two, one, two..."  Her voice faded into the distance.

Lady Jocelyn and her maid exchanged a smile, then Her Ladyship returned to her reading and Elyse to her dusting, albeit at an accelerated pace.  Her chains swayed and rattled as she worked.

Jocelyn knew she would also have to change before greeting her American guests, but she had plenty of time to finish the current chapter... and to watch Elyse with periodic, carefully timed, surreptitious glances.
 Chapter 2
The End

Chapter 1
Chapter 3