FOXWOOD--Bed & Breakfast

_¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯by Van © 2008

Chapter 2

To see the actresses I would cast in HHH:THE MOTION PICTURE,

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The path beyond the inner gate began a gentle climb.  The mature forest loomed on all sides, but Hannah suspected the natural chaos was at least partially landscaped—near the trail, anyway.  They passed a large, impressive monolitha smooth, elongated boulder balanced on one end.  The size of a small car, it was covered with moss and lichen and looked like it had been standing its lonely vigil since before the surrounding forest giants were tiny sprouts.

"It's something like 600 yards to the main compound," Jillian told her.

"How big is Foxwood?" Hannah asked, gazing up at the canopies of the surrounding cedars.

Jillian smiled.  "This is one of the largest tracts of privately owned, old-growth forest in California.  My family has held it in trust for more than a century.  The topography makes exploiting the timber nearly impossible, and road access on all sides is blocked, so tree pirates have never been a problem."

"Tree pirates?"

"Private loggers who steal old-growth trees by ones and twos," Jillian explained.  "We have several miles of hiking paths, and some of them link up with Forest Service and Park Service trails; however, we camouflage the trail junctions.  From the public side they're nearly impossible to find, if you don't know they're there."

Hannah nodded.  "It wouldn't do for a group of lost backpackers to stumble onto something like—"

"—the Lady of Foxwood leading a newly-purchased Saxon thrall-maiden on a leash?" Jillian suggested, her coral lips curled in a teasing grin.

Hannah grinned back.  "Exactly."  The hike continued.  "600 yards, you say?"

"It's good for our guests to have a chance to decompress.  We're nearly there."

Sure enough, the forest ahead was opening up to become a flowering meadow.  The trail crossed the meadow, then continued to rise.  Over the crest of the hill, the top stories of a large, magnificent building came into view.  It had a central tower, rising three stories above the main roof.  The top was an open platform, shaded by a low-pitched roof that extended well beyond the platform's handrails on all sides.
          Foxwood "Special" BannerA large banner fluttered from a pole atop the tower.  Even at this distance, Hannah could clearly make out the vaguely Celtic design of a fox against a predominantly rust-orange background. 

There were at least two other, lower towers, and one was made almost entirely of stone.  There was also a windmill, but it was mounted atop what was better described as a spire than as a tower.  Its many triangular sails, stretched on thin spars, turned in the breeze blowing up from the valley, and were dyed in a variety of natural tones: brick red, cedar green, sunset orange, robin's egg blue, etc.

Most of the building was of timber frame construction, using whole, peeled logs; however, as they continued up the trail and the entire structure came into view, Hannah could see that the lower floor and several massive, buttress-like corner columns were entirely of mortared stone.  The complex, many-peaked, dormered roof was clad in the same red tiles that had been used on the Outer Mews, including the roofs of the towers.  The wooden sides of the upper stories were covered in a mix of horizontal clapboards and over-size shingles.  There were a multitude of windows, all glazed with antique glass in a diamond-pattern of divided lights.  A few were in large, curved bays, or arranged in series, as the window-walls of hanging balconies; but several of the windows set in the stonework sections were tall and narrow, and it was impossible to tell whether or not these deeply recessed  "archer slits" were glazed.

Overall, the proportions were very pleasing—and while the structure's layered architecture might have been the result of decades of renovation and expansion—every tower, buttress, balcony, dormer, and cantilevered wing complemented the whole.  It was one of the most beautiful buildings Hannah had ever seen.

"Wow!" Hannah gasped.

"Thank you," Jillian responded, and this time she blushed.  "A guest once described Foxwood Keep as the result of a mating between Cinderella's Castle and a Viking long-house."

Hannah laughed.  "Or if Edoras, Rivendell, and Gondor were caught in the act of having a threesome."

Jillian laughed, in return.  "You're a Tolkien fan?"

"Even before the Jackson films," Hannah confirmed.

"Excellent!" Jillian purred.

Near the crest of the hill, the flagstones transitioned to a series of widely separated stone steps.  As they ascended these steps, a woman came into view.  Her back was turned and her attention was elsewhere.  She was wearing a pendant-sleeved gown similar to Jillian's, but it was olive-green in color, with antique gold trim and decoration.  Her boots were a dark, saddle-brown, and her hair was long and copper-red, like Jillian's.  She was addressing an audience still beyond Hannah and Jillian's view.

Scarlett McAlister as Sydney Foxwood"I told everyone to give me their shopping lists yesterday!" she shouted.  "If you can't be bothered, you can wait 'til its your turn to go into town!"

"Sydney!" a distant, unseen voice complained.

The newcomer spun on her heel, started down the steps, and noticed Jillian and her "thrall" for the first time.  "The Cricket can be such a pain," she told Jillian—then she focused on Hannah, her eyes widened, and her mouth formed a mildly surprised "O".

Hannah stared back.  This second redhead was a younger version of Jillian.  She was about Hannah's age—and, if anything—she was even more beautiful than The Mistress of Foxwood.  Her eyes were an amazing shade of green—or maybe they were blue—it was difficult to be sure in the dazzle of full sunlight.  She shared Jillian's fair, freckled complexion, as well as her delicate bone structure; however, there was nothing delicate about her lithe, athletic figure.  She was shorter than Jillian, who was slightly shorter than Hannah, herself—but with Hannah standing in flat sandals and the newcomer in boots with riding heels, it was difficult to judge by how much.

Hannah realized she was mirroring the redhead's mildly astonished expression, and closed her mouth.

Jillian was clearly amused.  "Hannah Blair, allow me to introduce my little sister, Sydney."

Hannah formed what she very much hoped was not a goofy and/or sheepish smile.  "Hi."

Sydney also composed herself, but her features settled into a mild frown.  "The new thrall you mentioned," she said, addressing Jillian.  "She looks strong enough."  She critically examined Hannah's sandaled, burlap-clad, iron-collared form from her toes to the top of her blond head
.  Her eyes lingered on Hannah's tan, smooth, generous cleavage—then her gaze returned to her sister.  "I'll show her the ropes when I get back.  Bye."  She breezed past Jillian and Hannah and continued down the trail.

"Try to be back before sundown!" Jillian called after her sister.  "Kayley's putting together a welcoming feast for Hannah!"

Sydney waved, but didn't turn around.

"What did I do?" Hannah asked.

Jillian was still smiling.  "Do?"

"What did I do to piss her off?"

"She likes you, Hannah," Jillian laughed.

Hannah watched Sydney's now distant form disappear around the first bend in the Forest Path.  "She likes me?  How does she treat people she doesn't like?"

"She likes you," Jillian repeated.  "She's my sister.  I can tell.  C'mon."

Hannah's leash went taut, and their journey continued.

--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 2 ---
Foxwood Keep was situated in the saddle of a shallow pocket-valley tucked into the side of the hill.  One wing was at the very edge of a precipitous drop to the main valley below; and other parts of the building abutted the forest or were surrounded by swaths of meadow.  The hill continued to rise, but Hannah could tell they were near the summit.  "The view from that main tower must be something else," she said.

"It is," Jillian confirmed.  "All of our guest suites face the valley, and have balconies and large windows—with leaded, divided lights, of course."

"Of course," Hannah responded, "for historical accuracy."

There was a large greenhouse off to the side, separated from the Keep, and one end of the stone and glass structure supported a turning waterwheel.  An elevated aqueduct of wooden planks emerged from the trees and fed the wheel, and the wheel's spillway fed a large pond.  The pond, in turn, was drained by a narrow stream that snaked across the meadow and disappeared into the valley.  The flagstone path crossed the stream by way of an elevated footbridge.

"This is adapted from the classical Chinese 'rainbow bridge' design," Jillian explained as they approached the bridge.  It was an arched span of intricately interlaced logs covered by a roadbed of flat planks.  There were substantial stone footings on either bank.  "We could have gone with a flat span," Jillian said, "in fact, we had to widen this part of the stream, to make the proportions work... but I think it was worth the effort."

"It's beautiful," Hannah said.  "It's all beautiful."

Jillian smiled.  They started up the bridge, then paused, at the center of the span.  "We get solar power from the roof of the Outer Mews..." Jillian explained, then pointed at the windmill and waterwheel.  "... as well as wind and water power.  Most days, we sell electricity back to the grid.  When we finish swapping out all our incandescent bulbs for LED's and the next generation of storage batteries becomes available, that should change to all days.  A daunting capital investment, but our calculations prove we can do it."

"Impressive," Hannah murmured, but her eyes were on the pond.  A pair of naked women were swimming in the dark water—at least she thought they were naked.  The distance was still pretty great.  The women climbed out of the water and onto a low stone dock, and her impression was confirmed.  Both bathers were quite naked.

Heather Carolin as AliceOne was another redhead.  Her long, curly hair was darker than Jillian and Sydney's, but that was probably because it was wet.  She shared the Foxwood sisters' Celtic complexions, and their lithe, athletic builds.

Nora Zehetner as CricketThis third redhead's equally wet companion shared her height and physique; but she was a brunette, and her complexion was darker.  She had a healthy tan, with a Mediterranean, olive cast.  Her brown hair was cropped short in a pixie-cut, and she was wearing an iron collar, like Hannah's.

The naked pair shrieked and jumped back into the pond.  By the time the splash subsided and the water stopped churning, Hannah and Jillian had arrived at the dock.  The swimmers remained under the water for several more seconds, then their heads bobbed to the surface.

"Come on in!" the redhead shouted.

"And in other clichés," the brunette added, "the water's fine!"

The pair giggled and dog-paddled to the dock.

Jillian frowned at the redhead.  "What have I told you about sunburn," she scolded.

"I'm using sunscreen," the redhead defended herself.

"She is," the brunette confirmed.  "I rubbed it on.  I was very thorough."

The swimmers giggled, again.

Jillian shook her head and turned to Hannah.  "Hannah Blair, meet Alice Foxwood and Cricket Clarke.  Alice is my cousin, and Cricket is a permanent resident."

"Pleased," Alice said, smiling up at Hannah.

"Likewise," Cricket added.

Hannah nodded.  "Pleased to meet you, as well."  Both Alice and Cricket were young.  Hannah guessed they were in their early twenties, and now that she was close, Hannah could tell they were rather short.  Also, both were very cute.  In fact, Cricket Clarke was devilishly cute, with big brown eyes and a dimpled smile.  Sally Fields Syndrome, Hannah mused.  Poor kid.  People will be calling her 'cute' when she's an old lady.  Alice's even features were more in line with her red-haired relatives.

In a word

The swimmers continued to tread water.

"Hmm," Alice purred.  Her blue-green eyes were on Hannah.  "Saxon."

"Yeah," Cricket agreed, also gazing at Hannah.  "Dane... Viking... or a Hyborean Sword-maiden."

"Any kind of Sword-maiden," Alice added, "and she's perfect as a thrall."

"Yeah," Cricket agreed, again.  "I can't wait to see her all hot and sweaty and dirty."

Hannah smiled as the paddling pair shared yet another round of conspiratorial giggles.  It was impossible to be offended by these diminutive nymphs.

"Don't mind those two," Jillian said, addressing Hannah.  "They've been perfecting their 'cheeky monkey' act for years."  She addressed the "monkeys" in question.  "Isn't it about time for lunch?" she inquired.

A new voice responded, from the direction of the Keep.

"It is time for lunch!"
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 2 ---
A new pair of women were approaching the pond.  Both were in Medieval costume, both were brunettes, and they were sharing the burden of a large, and apparently rather heavy, wicker hamper.

Keegan Connor Tracy as ConnieThe woman grasping the hamper's right handle, with both hands, was in an open, faded black robe worn over a red bliaut gown.  Her friendly brown eyes gazed at Hannah through a pair of gold-framed "granny glasses".  Hannah decided she wasn't as oppressively cute as Cricket, but was only very cute.  She wore her tousled hair shoulder-length and parted down the middle.

Diane Farr as KayleyThe woman on the left, easily handling her half of the hamper with one hand, was in the costume of a prosperous peasant: a long skirt, a loose, low-cut blouse, a laced bodice, and a slightly-stained, white apron.  Her hair was long and straight, with feathered bangs.  Her eyes—Hannah had never seen such eyes!  They were an incredible, pale blue, almost gray, and they were gorgeous.  She was taller than her companion, and while she was no giantess, she was easily the tallest of the group. 

As the newcomers eased the hamper to the ground, the tall brunette spoke.  Hannah recognized the husky, alto voice that had just announced lunch.  "This would be Hannah!" she said, with a warm smile.

Jillian did the honors.  "Hannah, this is Kayley Barbano, our cook; and Constance Clarke, another resident."

Hannah smiled.  "Pleased to meet—you!"  Kayley had surged forward and closed her arms around Hannah in a fierce bear-hug, then kissed her cheek.  Her arms were strong, and her hair smelled of fresh herbs.  Hannah guessed that Kayley might be slightly more mature than herself, but not by much.

"Welcome," the cook gushed, and kissed Hannah, again.  She then released her hug and stepped back.

Constance Clarke's greeting was decidedly less ebullient.  "Uh, welcome," she said, with a shy smile.  She was older than Alice and Cricket, maybe in her mid twenties.  Hannah topped her by a few inches—in fact, Constance might be about the same height as the swimmers.

"Thanks," Hannah responded.  "Are you Cricket's sister?"

"Cousins," Constance explained.  "We're cousins."

Meanwhile, Kayley had stepped to the end of the dock.  Her hands were on her hips and she was glowering down at Alice and Cricket—especially Cricket.  "So, this is where you've been hiding," she accused.  "You knew I was planning a picnic by the pond for lunch, but—surprise, surprise—when the time comes to haul everything out to the willow, the kitchen thrall is nowhere to be found."

Alice and Cricket giggled, yet again.

"I kidnapped her," Alice explained, "so I could use her as bait for my swim."

"It's true," Cricket confirmed.  "She made me strip and jump in the water first, in case there were nixies or trolls waiting under the dock."

"Better they get a worthless thrall," Alice added, "than a beautiful, red-haired princess."

"That's logical," Constance snorted, rolling her eyes in disgust, "except we don't have a beautiful, red-haired princess."

Alice gasped in mock outrage, and directed a wet raspberry and an equally wet hand-splash in the direction of her detractor.  Unfortunately, her aim was off, and most of the water landed on Kayley's apron.

"Oops!" Alice gasped, in a tiny voice.  "Sorry."

Kayley pointed to the large willow shading the far bank.  "Haul your scrawny asses out of the water and lug this hamper into the shade," she ordered, "or I'll bake you both in a pie!"

Constance shuddered with delicate revulsion.  "But who'd want to eat that?"

Everyone laughed, including the swimmers, who did haul their "scrawny asses" from the water, and did grab the hamper's handles and begin to carry it away—but the dripping pair paused long enough to flick water on Constance and stick out their tongues.  Hannah's estimate of their heights was correct.  Alice, Cricket, and Constance were all in the neighborhood of five-two or five-three.

"Kitchen thrall duty is rotated on a regular schedule," Jillian explained to Hannah.  "That way there's always a thrall in the cast and no one gets stuck with it all the time."

"I generally don't need much help with the cooking," Kayley added, "except with holiday feasts."

"And then we all help," Constance added.  "Thrall duty is mostly cleaning and laundry."

Jillian gestured towards the willow, and the group followed the wet, naked "thrall" and "princess" around the pond.
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 2 ---
A large blanket was spread on the grass and the hamper was unpacked.  Lunch was several different kinds of finger sandwiches, all on fresh-baked bread; as well as stuffed olives, several varieties of cheese, fresh and grilled vegetables, and sliced fruit; all washed down with chilled bottles of white wine.  The messiest dish was Caprese salad—slices of soft Mozzarella interlaced with tomato slices and sprinkled with fresh basil, then drizzled with olive oil—but messiness wasn't Hannah's concern.  Her hands were still bound behind her back, and she was hand-fed by Alice and Cricket, comfortably seated between the naked pair as they funneled choice tidbits and cool sips of wine to her smiling mouth.

Somehow... it didn't seem at all strange.  Hannah was enjoying herself, immensely.  Her new co-workers—prospective co-workers—were a fun group.  She very much hoped the rest of the tour wouldn't hold any unpleasant surprises, and that she was making as good an impression on them as they were on her.  So far, she thought she was... with the possible exception of the absent Sydney Foxwood.  It was very pleasant under the shade of the willow—with the cool breeze rippling the sparkling pond—watching the dragonflies skim the water and rest on the cattails—and with a pair of giggling, naked nymphs waiting on her hand and foot.

In the course of conversation, Hannah learned that Alice and Cricket had been friends since college.  Alice had an engineering degree and was responsible, among other things, for the integration and upkeep of Foxwood's energy systems.  Cricket was an artist and photographer, and had handled the design and/or execution of Foxwood's more recent decorative art.  She also ran the B&B's website.  (It was also abundantly obvious that the perky, diminutive redhead and the equally perky and diminutive brunette were very much in love.)

Constance was a writer of fantasy novels.  She had published a handful of short stories and one novel, and more novels were on the way.  Jillian relied on her to help flesh-out the B&B's role-playing scenarios.  Her default role was resident Scholar, Scribe, and Sage-in-training, hence the dark robe.  Her shy manner fit the part, but Hannah suspected it was natural, and not part of her act.

Kayley Barbano was more than a cook, she was a Master Chef.  She was also a Master Herbalist and Master Gardener.  She could have run the kitchen of any five-star restaurant, but that would have consumed all of even Kayley's considerable energy.  Foxwood let her indulge all her interests.  Mistress of the Keep Kitchen was only one of her role-playing personas, but Hannah didn't learn more about her other identities.

The only thing Hannah learned about Sydney was that she was a talented musician.  CDs of her work were for sale on the Foxwood website, and they were also available to guests—but only at the conclusion of their role-playing visits.  A rack of jewel-cased, plastic-wrapped CDs in the common room would have been a little too anachronistic for the Foxwood B&B.

And Jillian Foxwood?  Her background and history remained largely unknown, and Hannah wasn't stupid enough to pump the others for information in the middle of what was, after all, an extended job interview—especially in Jillian's presence.  However, two things were quite obvious. First, Jillian was very much in charge, as she'd said.  The others treated her with respect and deference.  And second... Alice, Cricket, Constance, and Kayley loved Jillian very much.  The Foxwood family was a family, blood relationships not withstanding—and Hannah was beginning to hope it was a family she could join.

Finally, the meal was over.  "Ready to see more of the Keep?" Jillian asked Hannah.

"Yes," Hannah answered, and smiled at Kayley.  "Thank you for a delicious lunch."

Kayley beamed.  "Finally, someone who appreciates my efforts."

"We all love your food, Kay-bear," Alice responded, "but we hate running on the treadmill to work off the calories even more."

"It's true," Cricket agreed, patting her trim, flat tummy for emphasis.

Constance nodded.  "Last night... grilled pork loin with blackberry wine sauce?  Are you trying to make us all fat?"

Kayley batted her pale blue eyes.  "No one complained at the time."

Jillian smiled, shook her head, and climbed to her feet.  Alice and Cricket helped Hannah stand, and Cricket handed Jillian the end of her rope leash.

Suddenly, Jillian frowned at Cricket with a stony stare.  "I will not coddle a thrall that shirks her duties," she intoned.  "Princess Alice, punish this lazy slacker!"

Without another word, the Mistress of Foxwood spun on her heel and departed for the Keep, with her Saxon thrall-maiden in tow.

Hannah's leash went taut—and she had no choice but to follow.  She looked back, and was mildly surprised to find that neither Kayley, Constance, Alice, nor even Cricket seemed particularly upset by this unexpected turn of events.  She focused on Jillian.  "Uh, what
I mean how...?"

"How is Alice going to 'punish' Cricket?" Jillian suggested.  She looked back over her shoulder and smiled.  "That's their business, thrall-maiden," she purred.  "Just don't let me catch you goofing off on the job."  She winked, then faced front and the journey continued.

Hannah could tell that Jillian was teasing... probably.  She looked back at the pond, again.  Those left behind were packing up the picnic, and there was still no sign of distress.

It's gonna take some time to figure this place out, Hannah mused, but I still think I could like it here.
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 2 ---
The Beautiful Princess & the Lazy Thrall
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~{ & }~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kayley grabbed a handle of the hamper.  "I want her back in time to help with dinner," she warned Alice.

"Of course," Alice responded, smiling at Cricket.  "I promise."

"And I get to lug this thing back to the kitchen," Constance griped, hefting her half of the now largely empty hamper, "while the Bobbsey Twins get the afternoon off.  This is so unfair."

"Don't be a drama queen, Connie," Cricket laughed.  "Bye!"  She waved at the Cook and Scholar as they followed the Mistress and her new thrall towards the Keep.

Alice waited until Kayley and Constance were around the pond and out of earshot, then rounded on her companion.  "It is unfair, and you are a 'lazy slacker', as M'Lady said."  She grabbed the ring on the front of Cricket's collar and pulled her close.  "Hands on your head!" she ordered, a fierce (theatrical) scowl on her freckled, pixie face.

Cricket obeyed, but couldn't quite hide the smile curling her lips and dimpling her cheeks.  "I'm sorry, Princess Alice," she whispered.  "Please don't punish me."

"Oh, I'm going to punish you," Alice promised.  She pulled her charge even closer, until their breasts pressed together and their lips almost touched.  She put her left arm around Cricket's tiny waist, and used her right hand to grab a hand-full of Cricket's short, dark hair and capture the thumbs of her interlocked hands—and they kissed.

There was nothing casual about the kiss.  Their tongues rolled and their lips smacked, and the kiss went on and on.

Finally, the kiss ended.  Maintaining her grip on Cricket's thumbs and hair, Alice spun her around and marched her to the far side of the willow, away from the pond and screened from the Keep by dense cattails and a swath of flowering shrubs.

Their respective costumes were hanging from the willow's drooping branches.  Alice's linen chemise, stockings, and sage-green and lavender gown were to the left, and Cricket's coarse tunic and loincloth were to the right.  Alice's tan, suede boots were inverted and wedged among the branches, and Cricket's sandals dangled by their straps.  There was also a tan leather satchel, hanging by its shoulder-strap.

Alice flipped open the satchel's flap and extracted several neatly coiled hanks of hemp rope.  It wasn't actual hemp, but rather twisted microfiber dyed to resemble hemp.  It was soft as conditioned cotton clothesline, and held a knot just as well; but it was much kinder to the skin—if properly applied.

"Get on your knees," Alice ordered, and Cricket complied, her hands still atop her head.  "If you give me any trouble," the princess growled, "I'll summon the guard and have you put in irons."

"I'll be good," Cricket whined.  "Please don't hurt me."

"I make no promises," Alice muttered, uncoiled the first hank of rope, and set to work.
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 2 ---
Approximately One Hour Later
~~~~~~~~~~~~~{ & }~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alice and Cricket lay on their backs on the mossy ground and gazed up at the waving branches of the willow.  They could see the clear, blue, afternoon sky, filtered through the screen of long, pale-green leaves fluttering and twisting in the gentle breeze.  Both naked nymphs were glistening with sweat, and both had their arms raised and their hands cradling the back of their heads—but only one of them was maintaining this pose by choice.

Cricket's upper arms and wrists were bound together, with the flat, neatly cinched bands of rope passing behind her smiling head, and the wrist ropes anchored to the back of her collar.  Her ankles were lashed to their respective thighs, leaving her knees bent and the soles of her feet resting flat on the soft ground.

"That was incredible," Cricket whispered.

"Thank you," Alice answered, "but you're the one that invented that little tongue-twister thingie."

"And you're the one who's perfecting it," Cricket sighed, flexing her spine and stretching her upper body as far as her bonds would allow.

Alice rolled onto her side, propped herself up on one elbow and cradled her head in her hand.  "Ready to go again?" she inquired, smiling sweetly.

"Hell no!" Cricket snorted.  "Three times in a row is enough!"  She closed her eyes and opened her mouth in a huge, kittenish yawn.  "Let's take a nap."

"You are a lazy thrall," Alice chuckled.  "But you haven't done me yet, remember?"

Cricket batted her eyes.  "Done you?  I'm the one being 'punished'."

Still smiling, Alice climbed to her feet—reached for the sky in a full-length, back-arching, and spine-popping stretch—then pattered to their clothing.  She reached into a pocket on the side of the satchel and palmed an object, then snatched Cricket's loincloth from its perch and ambled back to Cricket's helpless form.  She straddled the bound brunette's narrow waist, then sank to her knees.  Whatever she had retrieved from the satchel was hidden behind her back.

Only a little of Alice's slight weight rested on Cricket's tummy and hips, but that didn't mean the captive couldn't complain.  "Ow!  Get off me, you horse!"

"Lazy and disrespectful," Alice purred, and tossed the crumpled loincloth beside Cricket's head.  Then, she leaned close and revealed what was hidden in her hand.

Cricket's big brown eyes popped wide.  Her captor was holding what they called a "tickle-wand".  It was a hardwood dowel, about four inches long and as thick as a pencil.  Fletched to one end was a modest bundle of short, stiff feathers, and bound in the other was a short, pointed sliver of polished horn.

"No!" Cricket whispered (but her eyes were twinkling).

"Silly thrall!" Alice whispered back.  "You thought 'punishment' meant the princess would tie you up and make you cum like a bunny all afternoon?  Oh, no!  I'm going to tickle your armpits..."  She brushed the pale, tender flesh in question with the feather end of the wand, eliciting a delicate shudder from her prisoner.  "...and your throat..."  She brushed the curve of Cricket's neck, under her chin.  Cricket bit her lower lip, and suppressed an anguished moan.  "...and these tiny little titties..."  She brushed Cricket's already erect, left nipple.  (
Cricket's breasts weren't really "tiny".  Neither nymph was what you could call "buxom", but Alice was the better-endowed of the two.)

"No!" Cricket whined.  Both lovers liked a little spice with their sugar, and Cricket knew her beloved Alice wouldn't really tickle-torture her... but she could tickle-tease her, unmercifully.  She'd done it enough times herself to the red-haired "princess", when it was Cricket's turn to be the one on top.

Alice's smile was deliciously evil.  "Oh, yes... and then I'm going to reverse position and sit on your pretty face, and you're going to make me cum while I tickle your honeypot."

Cricket's expression settled into a piteous pout.  "I like 'Beloved-of-the-People Princess' much better than 'Cruel-Wicked-Evil Princess'," she sighed.

"I think both roles are fun," Alice chuckled, then retrieved Cricket's loincloth, wadded it into a ball, and stuffed it in the "lazy thrall's" mouth.  "Hold that for me, so you can scream without disturbing the peace of the realm.  If you spit it out, I'll get my dirty stockings and really gag you."  She spun the wand in her fingers, leaned even closer, and slowly extended the tuft of feathers towards Cricket's smooth, exposed, left armpit.

Cricket whined through her voluntary gag and clenched her eyes tightly closed.

Tales of the Foxwood B&B:
Chapter 2

Chapter 1
Chapter 3