FOXWOOD--Bed & Breakfast

_by Van © 2008

Chapter 8

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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
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It was an especially vivid dream, directly paralleling the scenario Constance had brainstormed for Hannah's character.

Hannah was a Saxon Princess, her father's favorite and beloved by all
—even the lazzi and slaves that shared the work of farming the fields and caring for the livestock.

She was captured on her way to visit an outlying farmstead, the home of an old widow and her young nephew.  There had been four of them, big, brutish oafs, none of whom she recognized.  They were dressed as huntsmen, but their weapons and boots were rather fine for mere foresters. She suspected they were housecarls from a neighboring kingdom.  In any case, Hannah was their prisoner.

Her gown was ripped from her body, leaving her in only her boots, stockings, and a now torn and soiled chemise.  Despite her enthusiastic struggles, she was bound and gagged. 
First off, they stuffed a rag in her mouth and tied it in place with a tight, mouth-cleaving bandage, then they tied her wrists together, in front.  She tried to kick, but to no avail.  They continued to bind her until she was criss-crossed with rope down the entire length of her body, from shoulders to ankles.  The tight, well-cinched bands pinned her arms to her sides, her legs together, and lashed her hands to her waist.

Hannah lay on her side in the dirt and watched one of her captors use the blade of his seax to make several sets of closely-spaced cuts in her gown.  He then opened a flagon and doused the claw-like tears with what was unmistakably blood, probably from a slaughtered pig or a dressed deer.  She forced a derisive snort through her gag.  They were trying to make it seem as if she'd been attacked by a wolf or bear—but not even the youngest of her father's foresters would be fooled by such an obvious ploy.  However, Hannah reflected, it might buy them some time, by misdirecting the initial search.

One of the brutes, probably the leader, lifted her onto his shoulder.  Struggling and mewling complaints through her gag, Hannah watched as his companions shuffled their feet and dragged brush over the clearing, to hide their own tracks and create the illusion of Hannah's struggle with some rampaging predator.  They carefully arranged her ripped and bloody gown in the dust, then grabbed ropes they had thrown across nearby overhead branches, lifted their feet, and swung into the forest.  One of them swung a rope back to the leader, and he swung to join his confederates, with Hannah still on his shoulder.  They retrieved and coiled their ropes, and they were off!

One kidnapper began laying a false trail to the north, dripping blood from the flagon as he went.  The remaining three took their captive and fled to the west.  They went carefully, making efforts to conceal their trail; then picked up speed at nightfall, abandoning stealth for speed.

They traveled through the night and into the next day, with Hannah periodically being passed from shoulder to shoulder.  The helpless captive's world faded into an endless, jostling, swaying, rope-bound nightmare of discomfort.

Suddenly, Hannah snapped awake and screamed through her gag.  She was falling—"Mmf!"—and then rolling on the ground.  She looked up—and her eyes popped wide.

The leader of her kidnappers was standing above her, in the middle of a clearing in the forest trail.  A puzzled expression was on his sunburned face, and his long, blond braids swayed and bobbed as he lowered his bearded chin and turned his head to stare at the pair of arrows protruding from his chest.  They were long, and fletched with gray goose feathers.  He did a slow half-turn and looked back over his shoulder, and protruding from his back Hannah could see the arrows' remaining lengths and their gory iron tips.

War arrows! Hannah realized.  Cymric!

Her captor's ax fell from his lifeless fingers... and he collapsed, nearly on top of her.  Hannah lifted her head and beheld her other captors, also slain by multiple arrows and already sprawled on the forest floor.

Almost immediately several male figures emerged from the trees.  Their long, coarse, woolen cloaks were woven in broad plaids, the yarns dyed a dozen forest hues, mainly shades of olive, leaf-green, gray, and rust-brown.  They carried Cymric longbows at the ready, with arrows nocked.  One of them eased his bow and returned the arrow to his quiver, threw back the hood of his cloak, lifted a horn to his lips, and blew, modulating the horn's eerily mournful call into a warbling series of notes.

The others eased their bows as well, then set about the bloody task of retrieving their arrows.  Hannah was ignored, leaving her free to examine her "rescuers" in detail.  All had brown or red hair, cropped finger-length short, in the Cymric style, and were beardless, but had long, drooping mustaches.  They wore soft boots and their lower legs were wrapped in coarse linen and bound with leather thongs.  Under their cloaks they wore rough-spun pants and tunics dyed in various forest colors.  In addition to their bows, all were armed with swords, maces, or short axes.  Alone among the group, the horn blower wore a tabbard of rust-brown linen emblazoned with a brown fox.

Hannah heard and felt the thunder of approaching hooves, and lifted her head to watch a party of Cymric horsemen approach.  In the lead was a red-haired woman wearing a plaid cloak over a green velvet gown.  She rode side-saddle (of course), and was obviously experienced on horseback.  Her followers were mail-coated, helmeted, and cloaked warriors, armed with spears.  A fox banner fluttered from the lance of the warrior immediately behind the Lady.

They entered the clearing and clattered to a halt.  The Lady gazed down at Hannah, a satisfied smile curling her pink lips.  Hannah lay in the dirt and glared up at the Cymric noblewoman.  The redhead was mature, at least two-score years, nearly the age of Hannah's mother, and her fair, freckled, high-cheeked features held an unsurpassed beauty.

"It would seem our information was correct," the Lady purred.  Her voice was pleasing, but carried the unmistakable tone of one accustomed to command.  She pointed to the corpses of Hannah's kidnappers.  "Leave them for the Sæsneg search party to find, with all their gear.  I want it clear who was the cause of this, both the kidnapping and the ambush."  She focused on the horn blower.  "How close?"

"Less than two hours, M'Lady," he answered.

The red-haired beauty nodded.  "If they try to follow across the border, stop them.  Prick them good, but I want a minimum of bloodshed.  Let's not have the situation turn into an unnecessary war."

"Yes, M'Lady."

The fiery-haired noblewoman gestured at Hannah, and the bowmen lifted her up and draped her across her lap, face down.  Hannah squirmed and complained, then froze when the Lady delivered a stinging slap to her linen-clad rump.

"Be still, flaxen-haired meinir," she ordered, and her warriors laughed.  With a tug on the reins she turned her mount and galloped back down the trail.  Her left hand clutched Hannah's rope bonds to keep her from falling.  Her escort turned and thundered in her wake, closing ranks.

Hannah looked back, and her last view of the clearing was of the bowmen arranging the bodies of her kidnappers in a pile in the middle of the clearing—and then the trail turned and all she saw was the blur of the passing forest.
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 8
The Brave Little Scholar’s
Stringent Stratagem
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"That's good," Constance said, "but authentic Cymric warriors would have worn red shirts.  Of course, in those days, 'red' meant a kind of faded brick color... unless you were a noble, and could afford the really expensive scarlet cloth from the continent."

Constance and Hannah were still in bed and lying on their backs, side by side, and sharing the little scholar's top sheet and blanket to protect their naked bodies from the pre-dawn chill.

"Any other details my subconscious failed to absorb from your lecture?" Hannah asked.

"There's some historical record of the Cymric running around in one shoe, supposedly so they could better scramble up and down hills and mountains," Constance answered, "but I'm not sure I believe it.  Sounds like English descriptions of the Welsh Bogyman, to me.  And the cloaks...  The only people in Early or Medieval Britain who really wore plaids as any sort of cultural uniform live in Mel Gibson's imagination."

"What?" Hannah demanded.  "No clan tartans?"

Constance snorted in derision.  "Tartans were an invention of Victorian wool merchants, to feed a Highland fashion craze.  Anyway, here at Foxwood we aren't fanatical about the accuracy of costumes.  Jillian allows a mix of fantasy and Hollywood, like at a Renaissance Fair.  'Cymric' male guests aren't required to have long mustaches and 'Saxons' or 'Vikings' can visit without mandatory full beards and long hair."

"Just horns on their helmets?" Hannah suggested.

"Please tell me you're teasing," Constance sighed.

"I'm teasing," Hannah chuckled.  "Speaking of which..."  She rolled on her side and lightly tickled her diminutive hostess' ribs.

"Stop it!" Constance giggled, trying to squirm away.

"Okay," Hannah agreed, then rolled over the little scholar's wiggling body and out from under the sheets.  She planted her feet, stood, and stretched.  "Eyah!  Anyway, I need to visit the Little Saxon Maiden's Room."  She padded into Constance's washroom, emptied her bladder, and pulled the chain to flush the "medieval" commode.  She then wet a washcloth in the tiny stone sink and patted her face.  Hmm... she pondered, gazing at her reflection in a small mirror, 'Saxon Braids' are practical.  Low maintenance.  Maybe I will keep them.

She returned to the main bedroom to find Constance lacing the front of her chemise.  The little brunette had already donned her glasses.

"Find Sydney's rope while I take my tinkle," Constance suggested, then padded past Hannah and into the washroom.

The neatly coiled rope in question was in plain sight, on the floor at the foot of the bed, and didn't need finding.  Hannah stood, hands on hips, and grinned in the direction of the bathroom.  "What, again?  Are you expecting me to just let you tie me up?"

Constance had finished relieving herself and was standing in the doorway, brushing her hair.   "Oh, no!" she said, seriously.  "The rope's for me.  You have to tie me up, or Lady Jillian will know I helped you escape."

"Okay," Hannah drawled, "but is there more to this little drama, or should I make the rest up as I go along."

Constance smiled.  "Just go to breakfast and explain the details of the character you've developed—"

"We've developed," Hannah corrected.

Constance curtsied in acknowledgment.  "We've developed, and see if Jillian buys it... but I know she will.  Tying me up is just icing on the cake, in case she's still in an 'Evil Lady Foxwood' mood.  I'd just as soon not spend the day being tortured as a traitor down in the dungeons, if it can be avoided."

"A wise course," Hannah chuckled, "but I think I'll take a side trip to the Bath and get dressed.  I'd just as soon have my bacon and eggs wearing something other than Saxon braids and an iron collar."

"And that glorious tan," Constance giggled.  "Don't forget that glorious tan."

"You little flirt!" Hannah laughed.  "Get over here."  She glanced towards the window.  It was still nearly an hour before full sunrise.  "I love this time of day, don't you?" she sighed.

"Oh wonderful," Constance sighed, "another early riser."

Hannah picked up the coils of rope as Constance returned her brush to the washroom and padded towards the bed.
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 8
Minutes later, Constance was once again reclined on the rumpled sheets of her bed.  Her wrists were crossed, roped together, and lashed to her waist.  Additional bands of rope criss-crossed her body from shoulders to ankles, rendering her helpless in much the same manner as Hannah remembered being bound by her dream-kidnappers.  The front lace of the scholar's chemise had come untied, and as Hannah had lashed her arms and torso, the white linen garment had gaped and slipped to the side, exposing her left shoulder and the upper half of her left breast (almost to the nipple).  The little brunette squirmed in her bonds, testing Hannah's handiwork.

"Not as pretty as Sydney's ropes," Hannah purred, "but it's the best I can do without more lessons."

"Not bad," Constance conceded, ceasing her struggles.  "And now for the gag."  She nodded towards the large, rumpled, cotton scarf still on her desk, the scarf she had deployed as a place mat for yesterday's lunch.  "May I suggest a nice cleave?"

"You may," Hannah chuckled, folded the scarf point-to-point, then rolled it into a thick bandage.  "Any last words?" she inquired.  "Perhaps detailed advice on how I should explain things to Her Ladyship?"

"I don't think you need any more advice," Constance answered, smiling up at the Escaping Thrall.

Hannah smiled back, then thrust the center of the rolled cloth between Constance's lips, pulled it around her head, from either side, and began tying a knot at the nape of her neck.

"Aye-ur!" Constance mumbled.

Hannah loosened the gag.  "Excuse me?"

"Tighter!" Constance repeated.  "Make my cheeks bulge."

"Okay," Hannah laughed, "you asked for it."  She tightened the gag with a fierce tug and completed a square knot, then took a step back and smiled down at her captive.  "There, now you look like a little chipmunk hoarding seeds."

Constance smiled up at her captor, twisting her bound wrists and ankles, fluttering her fingers and wrinkling her toes.

Hannah sat on the bed, leaned close, and gave her precious captive's nearly exposed left breast a gentle squeeze.  "Do you realize you haven't blushed one time, this morning?"

Constance continued wiggling in her bonds, and continued her gagged smile—but she didn't blush.

Hannah leaned even closer, continuing her gentle kneading of Constance's breast, kissed her forehead... and her gagged lips.  "Thank you, again, for rescuing me... and for a very enjoyable evening."  She stood, walked to the bedroom door, and gazed back at Constance's helpless form.  "I'll try and remember to tell the others that now you're the one that needs rescuing."   Then she sighed, shook her head, walked back to the bed, and kissed Constance again.  "Who am I kidding?  I suck at this 'Gloating Villainess' stuff.  Another thing I need lessons in.  I'll make sure you get rescued right away, and I'll try and see that Jillian doesn't assign the task to Alice."

Constance giggled through her gag as Hannah returned to the door—eased it open and cautiously peeked down the hall to make sure the way was clear—then stepped across the threshold.  The Saxon Beauty grinned and blew a kiss in Connie's direction, then eased the door closed, and was gone.

Constance stretched in her bonds and pointed her toes, a rapturous thrill coursing through her helpless body.

We have a Saxon Princess!  Hurray!
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 8
A Change of Costume
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Hannah made her way to the Roman Bath's cleaning alcove and gave her body a quick scrubbing with soap and sponge, being careful to keep her hair as dry as possible.  She then returned to the changing room and to the locker where she had left the kingfisher-blue, velvet gown she'd worn to the feast.  She opened the locker door... and blinked in surprise.

The gown, chemise, and slippers were gone, and in their place was another costume.  She double-checked to confirm that she had opened the correct locker—Yes, this is it—then began examining the garments within.  First was a pair of boots.  They were made of dark, rough suede, with the seams tightly stitched together using thin leather thongs.  The boot tops, which looked long enough to reach Hannah's knees, were folded down and laced a couple of inches down the back, so they'd follow the shape of her calves.  There was also a leather apron—no—it was a kilt.  Threaded through broad loops was a three-inch wide belt that buckled in the front by means of a simple iron buckle.  There was also what could only be described as a leather bra or sports-top.  It was brown suede, like the kilt, and its margins were ragged, as if it had been pieced together from scraps of hide.  It had inch-wide shoulder straps, and tied together in the front, by means of long, tongue-like flaps extending from the breast-cups.  A loincloth of coarse linen and a pair of calf-length wool stockings completed the outfit.

Well, Hannah decided, either someone has swapped out my gown for this... or I'll be stealing somebody else's clothing... but there's nobody else in the Bath.  In any case, I'm not going to breakfast in the nude.  She donned the costume, then made her way to the standing mirror beside the door back into the main Keep.

The boots, kilt, and top were all in her size, and together with her braids and collar, she had to admit she was a rather striking figure... in a working commoner, thrallish sort of way.  I doubt if this is anything like historically accurate, in any culture, but Connie did say Jillian indulges in a little fantasy.  She put her hands on her hips, did a half-turn to the left, and then to the right.  And I do look sexy... and there's nothing wrong with that.  I just hope Jillian has ordered me some trousers or leggings and maybe a nice, warm wool tunic or two.  Otherwise, I'll freeze when the weather turns.

Hannah made her way to the Common Room.  Jillian and Alice were already present.  Both were dressed in what Hannah had come to accept as "the usual" medieval gowns.  Jillian's was a very pretty shade of harvest-gold, with moss-green trim, and Alice's was a dusky rose.

"Oh, excellent!" Alice exclaimed.  "Turn around and give us a good look, thrall."

Hannah didn't even slow down.  "Bite me," she said, with a friendly smile, as she approached the table.

Alice giggled, then regained her composure.  "That was a Royal Command," she intoned.

"And how would Your Royal Highness like a Royal Beating?" Hannah responded (still smiling).

Alice giggled, again.  "You look really good like that, Hannah."

"Thanks," Hannah responded, "and good morning."  She smiled at Jillian, and dipped her head in a respectful (albeit minimal) bow as she took a seat.  "And good morning to you as well, Your Ladyship."

Jillian nodded in return.  "Good morrow, Master Artisan."  She poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Hannah.

"Shouldn't that be Mistress Artisan?" Alice inquired.

Jillian frowned.  "Hmm... That doesn't sound right.  I'll have to ask the scholar what she thinks."

"Ask me what?"

All heads turned to watch Constance enter the Common Room.  She was fully dressed in her usual costume of academic robe over a simple gown.

"Aren't you supposed to be bound and gagged and rolling around on your bed awaiting rescue?" Hannah inquired.

"I would be," Constance answered, "if you knew anything about the placement of key knots.  I'm afraid you need remedial rope lessons from Sydney."

"I decide who needs rope lessons!" another new voice announced.  Sydney was on Constance's heels.  The glowering redhead was dressed in a rust-brown gown with olive-green trim.  She paused, hands on hips, to glare at the assembly.  "Look... I'm sick of this pushing people together like you're playing with your damn dolls!"  She focused on Hannah.  "We'll start your weapons training this afternoon, an hour after lunch, behind the Stone Tower.  Got it?"

Hannah nodded.  "Yeah, uh—"

"And the rest of you," Sydney interrupted, glaring at the others (especially Jillian), "leave me alone!"  She spun on her heel, stomped back through the door, and was gone.

"Okay," Hannah said, after a few seconds of awkward silence.  "Enough pussyfooting around. What's her problem?"

"Messy break-up," Alice answered.  "She was going with this psycho-bitch named Margaret for like... years, and then the bimbo dumped her."

"Alice!" Constance hissed.  "Stifle!"

"What?" Alice demanded.  "We're all sick and tired of Syd moping around like a love-sick puppy, and Hannah's perfect for her."

"Alice," Jillian said, quietly, and all eyes turned to the Mistress of the Keep.  "Do us a favor and stifle, like Connie said."  She focused on Hannah.  "I apologize if things are getting a little too personal—"

Alice had been sipping her coffee, and barely avoided a serious spit-take.  "Oh please!" she chortled, wiping her dripping chin with a napkin.  "Hannah gets stripped, tied up, dragged through the dungeons, and—ow!"

Constance had kicked Alice in the shin, under the table, and was shaking an indignant finger in the little redhead's face.  "You just can't take a hint, can you?"

"I just think 'personal' was an ironic choice of words," Alice responded, rubbing her leg.  "Well, wasn't it?"

Hannah smiled.  Things were beginning to come into focus.  "What I think Her Ladyship was trying to address," she suggested, "was that indoctrination, role-playing, and boinking aside, there's no need to air Sydney's personal history in front of a stranger."  She smiled at Jillian.  "Am I correct?"

Jillian smiled, leaned close, and kissed Hannah's cheek.  "Stated with maturity and grace."  She kissed Hannah again.  "And full marks for unexpected use of the term 'boinking'."

"Thank you," Hannah responded with a grin.

"That was unexpected," Constance agreed.

"Very," Alice muttered, still rubbing her leg.

"What was unexpected?"  Kayley was entering from the kitchen, burdened by a large tray of covered dishes.  She was wearing her usual peasant costume

"Yeah, what did we miss?"  This was from Cricket, following in Kayley's wake with a second tray.  She was back in her thrall's faux-burlap tunic, and was still wearing her collar, of course.

"Boinking," Alice explained.  "Hannah used the term 'boinking'."

Kayley winked at Hannah.  "Nothing unusual about boinking around here," she purred, and everyone laughed.

Alice favored Cricket with a sad pout.  "Also, Connie kicked me in the shin for telling Hannah about Syd's break-up with the Maggie-bitch."

Cricket gasped.  "Which leg?" she demanded.

"The left," Alice whined, then managed a brave smile.  "You gonna kiss it and make it better?"

"No," Cricket answered, frowning at her lover, "I just wanted to know which leg I should kick, so you'll have a double limp."

"No more kicking," Jillian ordered, smiling at Cricket, then she glared at Alice, "and we should allow Hannah to settle in for a while without any more nonsense, agreed?"

Alice glared back.  "So now it's my fault you decided to play hook-up with your sister?"

"Peace!" Kayley chuckled, then removed the cover of a large dish to reveal a steaming scramble of eggs, diced sausage, purple onion, and grated cheese.  She leaned close and kissed Hannah's cheek.  "We all hope you come to love Sydney as much as the rest of us, Hannah, and we do want her back to her old self as soon as possible..."  She focused on Jillian with mild disapproval.  "And we all promise to let things take their natural course, without interference."

Hannah stared at her empty plate, suppressing a smile.  So, it was true.  Jillian was playing matchmaker.  I suppose I ought to be offended... but I'm not.  It's really kind of flattering.  She lifted her gaze to find the others looking at her with shy, anxious smiles.  "Well..." she said, quietly, "my brothers used to try and fix me up all the time, so you'd think I'd be better able to spot it by now."

Jillian blushed.  "I... I just wanted to make sure things got off on the right foot," she mumbled.

"Liar," Kayley laughed, leaned close and kissed Her Ladyship's lips, then spooned a large portion of the scramble onto her plate.  She filled Hannah's plate next.  "No harm, no foul?" she whispered.

Hannah nodded.  "So, what's on the agenda for today?  ...other than weapons practice with Sydney?"

"No need to rush things with the rest of your special indoctrination," Jillian said.  "How 'bout you move into your apartment, unpack, and start looking around on your own?"  She focused on Alice.  "And I'd like our Resident Engineer to participate in your building inspection, so she can explain what we've done to the various systems."

"Oh, goodie!" Cricket gushed.  "I'll help too!"

"You will not," Kayley said, shaking her head.  "You're waaay behind in the room cleaning and laundry, thrall."

Alice and Cricket appealed to the Mistress of the Keep.  "Jillian!" they whined, in unison.

"What?" Jillian demanded.  "Boinking all night—"  She smiled at Hannah.  "—to coin a phrase, isn't enough?"

"Too much is never enough," Constance said, quietly, a coy smile curling her lips as she sipped her coffee.

"Oh, you shut up, Four-eyes," Alice grumbled.

"She was nice enough to chain us side-by-side, when she came back," Cricket told Alice, smiling at Jillian, "so we did get to boink all night."

"Yeah," Alice huffed, "locked in an overheated dungeon and rolling around naked, in chains, on nothing but pokey straw."  She sighed and smiled at Hannah.  "I'll meet you at your place, after I change."

"Don't change a hair for me," Cricket sighed, leaning close and nuzzling Alice's neck, "not if you care for me."

"Clothes, Fiddle-legs," Alice clarified, stifling a giggle.  "I'm talking about clothes."

Hannah smiled and continued eating her breakfast.  This is a fun group, she thought.  Hmm... hooking up with Sydney...  The diminutive Weapons and Rope Mistress sure was a looker.  And gruff exterior aside, she seemed like a nice enough person...  And they all love her, so she can't be that bad...  but I'll have to get to know her better.

Constance cleared her throat, gave Hannah a significant look, and nodded towards Jillian.

Hannah frowned in puzzlement, then she remembered.  She leaned close and spoke to the Mistress of the Keep in a low voice.  "The scholar and I have been discussing my character, and we have some ideas."

"After breakfast," Jillian answered, then smiled at Constance.  "Both of you stay and we'll discuss it..."  She focused on Alice and Cricket, who had been following the exchange with wide, curious eyes.  "...alone!"

The "Bobbsey Twins" returned to consuming their breakfasts.

Hannah smiled and nodded.  "Yes, Your Ladyship."
--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 8
About two hours later, in the Outer Mews...

Emptying her dufflebag and single suitcase had taken no time at all, as had arranging her clothing in the apartment bedroom's closet and chest of drawers.  Her personal tools would remain in the locked, steel carrier in the back of her truck until she made a detailed survey of what was available in the workshop.  A quick glance had suggested that Foxwood's tool inventory was at least equal in quality to her own, and was probably superior.

Hannah heard someone knocking at the door of the outer apartment, the one at the top of the stairs from the main garage.  "Come in!" she shouted and walked into the lounge area.

It was Alice.  The little redhead had changed into what Hannah could only describe as a "Peter Pan meets Robin Hood" costume: brown suede slipper-boots with slightly pointed toes, forest-green tights, a linen shirt dyed a faded olive-green, and a sleeveless jerkin of brown suede.  Her red curls were in a loose French braid/ponytail that trailed down her back, and an appropriately saucy smile was on her pixie face.

There was one more important element to her new costume, or rather, an accessory.  An iron collar was locked around the perky little redhead's throat, her wrists were manacled behind her back, and a rigid iron bar connected the back of the collar and the cuffs.

"You like?" Alice asked, spinning in a graceful pirouette.

"No pointy green cap with a long feather?" Hannah asked with a grin.

"I've got several," Alice giggled, "but I can't keep a cap adjusted at the proper jaunty angle with my hands like this."

"And why are your hands like this?" Hannah inquired.

"Oh, this was Kay-bear's idea," Alice explained, "so there'd be no question who was in charge during our building inspection.  I put up a terrific fight, but Connie and the cook overpowered me."

Hannah was skeptical.  "Oh, I'm sure you were a regular wildcat.  Where's the key?"

Alice smiled and sauntered towards the grinning blonde, swinging her hips in an openly seductive manner.  "The key?  It's hidden somewhere on my person.  You'll just have to find it."  She batted her eyes, and licked her coral lips.  "And I can't do anything to stop you."  She went up on her toes and kissed Hannah's smiling lips.  "You can do anything you want... 'cause I'm helpless."

Hannah sighed and shook her head.  "Tell me, Princess Flirt," she demanded, "does any work ever get done around this place?"  She gently untied the lace closure of Alice's jerkin, then reached down the open front of her linen shirt.

Alice closed her eyes and shuddered in anticipation.

Hannah lifted a thin leather thong from around Alice's neck, and plucked the small iron key dangling at the end from between her breasts.

"Hey," Alice pouted.  "That would have been a lot more fun if you'd started at the bottom and worked your way up."

Still smiling down at her prisoner, Hannah dropped the thong over her own head, freed her braids, and tucked the key under the knotted closure of her leather brassiere.  "I see I already have access to the Foxwood intranet," she said, nodding towards the computer on a nearby desk.  Its monitor screen glowed a rusty orange, with a dozen or more icons scattered across its flat face.
Hannah walked over, moused to one of the icons, and opened the file.  A calendar appeared, and the blocks representing tomorrow and the next three days were colored olive green.  "Who are these people?" Hannah asked, pointing at the text in the blocks.

"Guests," Alice explained.  "Two nice old couples.  They've been here before."


Alice nodded.  "Thirty-something."  She grinned at Hannah.  "Old... like you.  Nothing 'special'," she continued, tugging on her inescapable bonds for emphasis.  "They like dressing up like Robin Hood's Merry Men and hiking the trails, sleeping in the 'Foxwood Inn' at night.  Sydney will be their guide, and continue their archery lessons."

Hannah nodded.  "I take it there will be no ropes or chains involved?"

"Hence the green color.  And nothing special is allowed for anyone else, either, 'til they're gone."  Alice sighed.  "Jillian doesn't even let us sneak down to the dungeons or play in our rooms at night."

"Poor baby," Hannah grinned, "forced to fondle The Cricket without tying her down?"

Just then, the door from the garage landing opened and The Cricket in question entered the lounge.  She was carrying a large stack of terrycloth towels, folded sheets, and a brown leather satchel.  She was still wearing her burlap tunic and collar; however, she had added a pair of sandals to her ensemble, with thongs that criss-crossed her shins and calves and tied below her knees.

"Speak of the devil..." Hannah chuckled, and smiled at her fellow thrall.

--- Tales of the Foxwood B&B: HHH Chapter 8
"A week's worth of towels and some fresh sheets," Cricket announced.  "You take the dirty things back to the Keep Laundry.  It's off the Kitchen, next to the Scullery.  You get clean stuff off the shelves."  She nodded down at the satchel.  "And this is from Jillian."

"Thank you," Hannah said, and took the satchel.

Cricket continued forward and disappeared into the bedroom.  "I'll put this stuff away for you!" her voice sounded back into the lounge.

"Thanks!"  Hannah opened the satchel and pulled out a thick bundle of folded papers.

"Copies of the plans," Alice explained.  "They're also in digital form on the intranet, but it's better to have full-sized copies for the inspection, right?"

"Right," Hannah agreed, and gave the satchel a shake.  Something rattled in the bottom.  She pulled out a ring of skeleton keys, and smiled at Alice.  "Do these open the dungeons and torture chambers, or just the non-special spaces?"

"Full access," Alice confirmed, then batted her eyes.  "You can drag me into one of the lower chambers and have your way with me."

"You just won't quit," Hannah laughed, "will you?"

"You have no idea," Cricket giggled, returning from the bedroom.  She went up on her toes and kissed Hannah, then kissed Alice.  "Well, gotta run," she sighed, and headed for the garage landing door.

"Wait!" Alice blurted.  "Aren't you going to... rescue me?  Or, maybe get captured yourself?  We could be forced to do all sorts of 'horrible' and depraved things by the Saxon Barbarian.  Just for a little while?"

"I've got a looong list of chores to accomplish, to prepare for tomorrow's guests," Cricket explained, then turned and lifted the bottom hem of her tunic.  "Or Kay-bear won't unlock this thing after supper."  Her loincloth had been replaced by a chastity belt of hammered steel!  She did a slow pirouette, so Hannah and Alice could appreciate the belt's tight fit and cunning design.  The belt's horizontal band dimpled the flesh of Cricket's tiny waist.  The vertical part cleaved her firm buttocks, and was interrupted only by a small ring nestled over her anus.  The remaining steel cupped her sex and was ventilated by a cage of interlaced bars.  It then continued up to the waist band and locked by means of a flush-mounted padlock.

Alice sighed.  "That's mean."

Hannah could see the twinkle in Alice's eyes, as well as the smile hiding behind her "sad" expression.  Also, Cricket gave every appearance of not being a particularly distressed damsel.  "Well, you better get busy," she advised the burlap-clad brunette, then turned to the red-haired captive.  "And you can help me take a look at these plans, before we head back to the Keep and start a room-by-room."

Cricket dropped the hem of her tunic, blew a kiss to Alice, then spun on her heel and headed out the door.  "Bye!" she called, and was gone.

"She'll work hard, all day," Alice said, under her breath.  "She'll be all sweaty and tired, tonight.  I'll tie her up and bathe her by hand, back in our room.  Then I'll probably just tie her to the bed... unless I feel creative."

"That assumes I let you out of all that iron, and don't tie you to my bed," Hannah said.

Alice turned and blinked in surprise.  "Really?" she whispered.

"Kidding," Hannah laughed, then kissed Alice's forehead.  "Now, let's look at these plans."

"Okay," Alice sighed.  "You're a big tease," she accused, with a wry smile; then pulled out a chair from the table with her right foot, and sat.

Tales of the Foxwood B&B:
Chapter 8

Chapter 7
Chapter 9