HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
by Van ©2012

Chapter 11



The Lowly Clerks—or Innocent Maidens Captured By Slavers, as they were already beginning to think of themselves—were awakened by the opening of the Dungeon Door.  And yes, they had managed to get some sleep.  The gentle, blue-green glow of the nightlight had been replaced by the yellow-white glare of the overhead fixture's main bulb and they blinked in the bright light.

Cassie entered the dungeon, dressed in jeans, sandals, and a blue linen blouse.  Her hair was plaited in an elegant French braid and secured with a blue ribbon.  She was tall and strong and smiling and beautiful.  She was Cassie.

"Good morning," the girls mumbled, more or less in unison.  They were still coming awake.

"Good morning," Cassie replied.  She squatted, balancing on her sandal-clad feet so as not to soil her jeans on the dusty floor, and began untying Ashley's ankles.  "Well, have you girls reached a decision?"

Tiffany was watching Cassie untie the knot securing her BFF's ankle ropes, trying to follow the actions of her deft fingers but having limited success.  "Uh, we can come back if we don't like it, right?"

"She already said we could," Ashley muttered.  Her ankles were free and Cassie was untying her knees.

"Yes, you may," Cassie reassured Tiffany.  She'd finished untying Ashley's knees and Tiffany helpfully extended her legs, placing her bound ankles within easy reach.  "Thank you," Cassie said, and began untying the redhead's ankle bonds.  "You'll always be welcome at Sarand-ip."  She shifted her smile to Ashley.  "Both of you."

Ashley smiled back as she planted her bare feet and awkwardly managed to stand.  "Thanks."

"I would like you to promise me that you'll give Foxwood at least a month before deciding to call it quits," Cassie said.

By this time Tiffany was also on her feet—her decidedly grubby, dirty feet.  "A whole month?"

Cassie nodded.  "Please?  Cricket needs her vacation."

"Being your Lowly Clerk is Cricket's idea of a vacation?" Ashley chuckled.

Cassie laughed.  "It's also her chance to attend my master class," she explained.

Tiffany frowned.  "Master class?"

Cassie grinned.  "Advanced Shibari.  Also, what I call Expert Damsel Management Techniques."

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged a questioning look.  "It's probably best not to ask," Ashley said.

"Probably," Tiffany agreed, stifling a yawn.  "Not before breakfast, anyway."

"So," Cassie continued, "your answer is?"

"Yes," the girls said in unison.

"Excellent," Cassie beamed.  "This will make Jillian very happy and I'm sure you'll both make excellent Foxwood Maidens."  She gestured towards the open door and the girls preceded her into the main basement.

Cricket and Hannah were waiting with a pair of old towels.

"They're all yours, ladies," Cassie said, then headed up the stairs.

"You take the redhead," Hannah said to Cricket, then began untying Ashley's remaining bonds, the box-tie rope pinning her folded arms behind her back, her upper arms to her sides, and yoking her shoulders.

"Okay," Cricket answered, and began doing the same for Tiffany.  "I'll pretend she's Alice."

"Don't you dare," Hannah huffed.  "There's no time for pointless boinking.  Jillian and I need to hit the road."

"Boinking is never pointless," Cricket purred.  "Boinking is its own reward."

"I won't dignify that with a smack-down," Hannah countered.

Ashley and Tiffany stretched and moaned with pleasure as they were untied.  They were both in good shape and Cassie's Yoga classes had helped, but it was not fun sleeping on a hard dungeon floor while bound hand and foot.

"So," Tiffany said to Cricket as the last of her ropes melted away, "what happens next?"

It was Hannah who answered.  "What happens next is you keep quiet and do as you're told.  Captured damsels should be seen and not heard."

"Seen and handled," Cricket added.

Hannah ignored the smiling pixie.  "If you don't keep quiet, you'll be gagged.  Understand?"

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged another glance, then nodded.  By this time their ropes had been removed, neatly and expertly coiled, and tossed to the floor next to the stairs.  The girls' fingers and hands were still encased in tight mitts of butternut leather and their wrists locked in steel fetters, but they were otherwise free, naked and very dirty from their tousled hair to their grubby toes, but free.

Next, Hannah and Cricket used their towels to "clean" their respective charges.  The result of the brisk rubdowns was equal parts removal and redistribution of the dust that had adhered to their sweating bodies as they'd rolled on the floor of Cassie's dungeon during the night.  In short, they were both still dirty.

Costumes were next.  Hannah unzipped a duffel and began dressing Ashley.  Cricket reached into the same duffel and did the same for Tiffany.

First came sandals of a simple, timeless design that tied on their feet by means of leather thongs.  Next came loincloths of what the girls were afraid would be rough and scratchy burlap, but turned out to be surprisingly soft and comfortable rough-spun linen that only looked like burlap.  After that came simple, sleeveless sack dresses of the same material.  The ragged lower hems were decidedly short, the generous, décolletage slits in front closed by means of crisscrossed linen cords, and similar cords tied with bows acted as spaghetti straps.  Finally, lengths of hemp rope served as belts, encircling the girls' waists and pulling in the otherwise rather shapeless dresses.

"Jillian is gonna eat 'em up," Cricket sighed as she pulled Tiffany's hair back in a simple ponytail, secured it with several tight turns of a leather thong, and tied a quick knot.

"Ya think?" Hannah responded, perfectly deadpan.  She had already used another thong to give Ashley a similar ponytail.

The Lowly Clerks were a pathetic but decidedly sexy sight, showing a lot of thigh as well as significant cleavage.  In addition, their rope belts had been hitched though the steel rings of their cuffs before being tied in front with simple square knots, effectively binding their leather-encased hands to the smalls of their backs.

"Up to the kitchen," Hannah ordered, and the parade of Captured Damsels and Slave Handlers climbed the stairs.

Cassie and Jillian were waiting.  Lady Foxwood was sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and the Wicked Witch of Sarand-ip was cooking breakfast.

"Oh, they're adorable," Jillian gushed, rising from her chair, rushing forward, and giving each of her new employees a quick hug and a kiss on the lips.

"Told ya," Cricket said to Hannah.

"Take them to visit the Little Damsel's Room," Jillian ordered, and the Handlers led the Captives from the kitchen.  With the help of said Handlers the girls relieved themselves and were soon back, slightly embarrassed by the intimacy of the event but impressed by the efficiency and hygiene with which Hannah and Cricket helped them accomplish the task.  Bound as they were, they certainly couldn't have done it on their own.

"One last element of your costumes and we can eat," Jillian announced, then pulled an object from an open duffel on the kitchen counter.  The duffel may have been the one from the basement, and the object...

"Oh, wow," Tiffany gasped.  Ashley simply stared.

The object was unmistakeably a steel collar.  It had the same hand forged appearance as the cuffs on the girls' wrists, and like the cuffs it had steel rings, one in front and a second built into the collar's hinge and locking mechanism in the back.  Jillian closed the collar around Tiffany's neck, turned and removed a key.  Click-snick.  She then reached back into the duffel.

Tiffany watched as her BFF was fitted with a second collar.  Click-snick.  "It's kinda heavy," Tiffany said.  It was also a tight fit, but nothing like too tight.

"What did I tell you?" Hannah warned.

"Oh, stifle," Cricket chuckled.  "You can be Grumpy Slave Handler Bitch once you guys are on the road.  She smiled at Tiffany.  "You'll get used to it.  Drudge thralls have to be collared.  It's traditional."

"Drudge thralls?" Ashley asked.

"Upstairs maid, downstairs maid, dungeon maid, laundry maid, scullery lackey, cook's helper, serving wench..."  Cricket shrugged.  "It's all the same.  Drudge thrall."

"Let's eat," Cassie said, and the group sat down to bacon, eggs, and toast.  The helpless Drudge Thralls were fed by their Handlers.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 11

The departure occurred shortly after breakfast.

Cassie cried and Tiffany cried.  Ashley's eyes were noticeably damp, but Cassie's Tomboy did not cry.  Cassie promised that if the Lowly Clerks—strike that—the Drudge Thralls decided to stay at Foxwood, their belongings would be packed and loaded into Ashley's Honda Civic and Cricket would drive it there when it was time for her to return.  Cricket registered a pro forma complaint at being burdened with such an "onerous task," but everyone knew she was kidding.  Cricket was always kidding.

All too soon, Hannah was behind the wheel of Jillian's hybrid SUV and Jillian was in the back, sandwiched between her new employees.

Cassie and Cricket stood on the porch and waved as the SUV pulled onto the highway and drove away.

"I'm going to miss them," Cassie sighed, wiping her eyes with a lace-trimmed handkerchief.

"Oh, boo-hoo," Cricket teased.  "It's not like you'll never see them again.  Queen Xenobia has an open invitation to visit Lady Foxwood."

"I know," Cassie answered, "but I miss all my girls, and Trickster and Tomboy are practically novices, and they're the first of my girls I've sent to Foxwood."  She smiled at Cricket.  "Not counting, you, Jester."

"Yeah," Cricket muttered, "two thirds of the staff at Silverberry Manor may be Sarand-ip referrals, but Foxwood Keep has always been understaffed."

Cassie smiled.  "Understaffed?"

"I'm the one that spends every fourth month as the only drudge thrall at the Keep," Cricket huffed.

"Poor thing," Cassie chuckled.  "And the Maidens who aren't on drudge duty never pitch in and help, do they?"

Cricket shrugged.  Just then, the panel truck from Archer Metals pulled into the parking lot.

Cassie wiped her eyes one last time, then pocketed the hankie.  "I'm not expecting anything from Cody," she stated.

"No, but Jillian is," Cricket giggled.  "She knew you'd be down in the dumps after she dragged away your girls, so she made a few arrangements to cheer you up."

Cassie watched as the driver began offloading cardboard boxes.  None of them were particularly large, but some appeared to be heavy.  She turned to Cricket.  "A shame I don't have a clerk to help with deliveries," she said with a smile.

Cricket heaved a decidedly theatrical sigh.  "Okay, okay," she muttered, bounced down the porch steps, and headed for the truck.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 11

Sarand-ip was rapidly diminishing in the SUV's rear view mirror.

Ashley and Tiffany were still getting used to the weight of the steel collars around their throats.  They were also getting used to the idea of not being with Cassie 24/7.  Their leather-encased and steel cuffed hands were still bound behind their backs and in addition (as required by law) they were restrained by the SUV's combination lap and shoulder belts.

The side windows of the SUV's back seat were tinted and silvered.  In addition, there were shades that could be rolled down for additional privacy.  At the moment, however, they were rolled up.

"Please pull over up ahead," Jillian said to Hannah.

Hannah nodded without looking back, then turned off the highway and onto a scenic lookout.  It provided a vista of a particularly picturesque stretch of coastline.  There were three picnic tables with bench seating and the parking area could accommodate something like a dozen vehicles, but this early in the morning the SUV and its occupants were alone.

"Okay, ladies," Jillian said, addressing her new employees, "your roles in this scenario are both the same, that of captured damsels being taken to Foxwood to begin lives of servitude.  It's only logical that your captors would keep you restrained and under their complete control, and while they might use intimidation to coerce your cooperation, they won't actually do anything that might damage the merchandise.  Your characters would be feeling fear, even terror, but by this time you will have reached some form of acceptance of your fates, if only to escape punishment.  This is your first scenario, so I'm going to do my very best to keep the acting challenges at the trivial level.  Any questions?"

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged a glance, then shook their heads.

"Oh, wait," Tiffany said.  "Why are we so dirty?"

Ashley rolled her eyes.  "Well, geek, the floor of Cassie's dungeon was covered in dust, and—"

"No," Tiffany interrupted, glaring at her fellow prisoner.  "Is it part of our costumes?"

"Very perceptive," Jillian chuckled, then gestured to Hannah.

Hannah had been watching her employer in the rear view mirror.  She reached to the passenger seat, picked up a pair of cloth bags, and tossed them to Jillian.  They were the same loosely woven faux-burlap as the girls' dresses and closed with linen cord drawstrings.

Ashley watched as Jillian released Tiffany's lap and shoulder belt and pulled her head and shoulders down onto her lap.  She then opened one of the bags and pulled out a rumpled cloth, more of the faux-burlap.

Tiffany's green eyes popped wide as Jillian thrust the cloth into the little redhead's unresisting mouth.  "Mrrfh!"  The protest had probably been a startled reaction rather than actual rebellion, but whatever Tiffany's motivation, it was moot.

Jillian tamped the cloth with her fingers until Tiffany's mouth was filled to capacity.  Then, one hand over her captive's mouth to hold the cloth within, Jillian reached back into the bag and produced a bit-gag.  The bit section was a flexible, six-inch long and one-inch wide band of butternut leather rolled over a narrow brown leather strap and stitched with a narrow leather thong.  The strap closed on a crude (meaning believably medieval) steel buckle.  Jillian replaced her hand with the gag's bit, then buckled the strap at the nape of Tiffany's neck, under her tousled ponytail.

"That's an effective gag," Ashley noted.

Her head still on on Jillian's lap, Tiffany favored her BFF with a gagged stare that all but shouted "No, ya think?"

Jillian smiled, then pulled the bag over Tiffany's head, loosely tightened the drawstring, and tied a bow.  "And Cassie taught you never to use an effective gag on an unsupervised damsel."

"Yeah," Ashley responded, "but, uh, you're right here, so...  Never mind.  I didn't think it through."

"You're understandably preoccupied," Jillian chuckled, then eased Tiffany back into the sitting position and secured her lap and shoulder belt.  She reached across the bound, gagged, and hooded captive, pulled down the window shade, then turned and smiled at Ashley.

Ashley sighed.  Jillian's next order of business was obvious.  There was still a cloth bag on the seat between them, and soon its contents would be gagging Ashley's mouth and the bag itself would be over her head.

Jillian released Ashley's lap and shoulder belt, then lowered her head and shoulders onto her lap.

Ashley gazed up at Jillian as she opened the bag, then nodded at Tiffany.  "Don't hurt her, okay?" she whispered.

Jillian's smile broadened.  "Oh, you adorable little sweetheart," Jillian whispered back, then leaned close and kissed her lips.  "I promise.  I promise not to harm either of you, not ever."  She stuffed the cloth in Ashley's mouth, then buckled the bit-gag and bagged the "adorable little sweetheart's" head.  She then lifted her off her lap, buckled her lap/shoulder belt, and pulled down the remaining window shade.

Ashley felt the SUV's engine purr to life, then they pulled back onto the highway.  She settled in to await their arrival at Foxwood— "M'mmpfh!" —then yelped through her gag.  An arm was over her shoulder and a hand was releasing the bow securing her décolletage.  The same hand then slid under her dress, cupped her right breast, and began teasing her right nipple.  The owner of the gentle, controlling arm and playful, groping hand could only be Lady Foxwood.

Hooded, gagged, and helpless, Tiffany heard Ashley's yelp and knew something was happening on the other side of the back seat.  She felt movement and Ashley continued making soft, gagged moans; but as to what was actually going on...  Oh!  The truth dawned.  Jillian and her BFF were making out—in a decidedly one-sided fashion.  I wonder if I'm next? she thought.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 11

The shipment from Archer Metals turned out to be add-on components for the Throne of Excelsior, the "therapeutic spa chair" in the Houdini Room.  Cricket confessed that Cody Archer had E-mailed Jillian a PDF of the Throne's revised operating manual and Her Ladyship had tasked her with studying the new material and conducting an operational test after she settled in at Sarand-ip.  Jillian was considering having Cody craft a Medieval or Renaissance version of the Throne.

"And I suppose you think there's no time like the present," Cassie chuckled.

"Of course," Cricket shrugged, then struck a thoughtful pose.  "The problem is, how can I conduct a test without a test subject?"  She stroked her chin and gazed at the empty Throne.  "Hmm..."

Cassie smiled and shook her head as she turned and headed for the main shop.  "Finish fiddling with that thing while I mind the store.  Give a shout when you're ready and I'll help you with your test subject problem."

"Now why didn't I think of that?" Cricket asked as Cassie departed the Houdini Room.

Ninety minutes later, Cassie was seated on the Throne.  She was naked, of course, and Cricket was buckling the last of the plethora of leather straps binding her to the Throne's immovable framework and minimal but surprisingly comfortable pads.  In addition to the cuffs and straps Tiffany had used to restrain Ashley, Cricket had encased Cassie's fingers and hands in tight bondage mitts before securing the wrist cuffs.  A collar restrained Cassie's throat and the forehead strap was in place, but she wasn't gagged... not yet.

"Comfortable?" Cricket inquired.

"Reasonably," Cassie answered.  She heard Cricket turn a dial and throw a switch on the control panel behind the headrest.  Click-click-click-click.  Thunk.  "Hey!" she complained.  A motor had hummed to life and the entire Throne had canted back, lowering Cassie's head and upper body and raising her legs and feet.  She found herself in the pose of an astronaut about to blast off into space—or a woman about to undergo a gynecological exam.

While disrobing, folding her clothes, and climbing onto the Throne, Cassie had noted changes to the device, some subtle and some overt.  Additional motors, modules of unknown function, and steel brackets had been bolted to the frame.  All the cardboard boxes from Archer Metals were open and most were obviously empty, but some still held contents.  None of the new parts already installed appeared to be slipshod add-ons.  The Throne had been an elegant (if demented) example of engineering before and it remained so.  Cassie made a mental note to "persuade" Cody to divulge her full plans for the Throne of Excelsior the next time she was over for tea—no matter how much of her collections of bondage equipment and erotic toys were required.

Cricket reached into one of the boxes, lifted something heavy— "Ooof!"  —turned, and carried another brass and steel module to the Throne.  She lowered flanges in its base into brackets on the right side of the Throne, even with Cassie's right upper arm, and it locked in place with an authoritative click.  She then swiveled a portion of the module towards Cassie and an assembly of rods, gears, and narrow, hoop-like steel bands snapped into place over the captive's right breast.  The bands formed something of a hemispherical cage.  Cricket made more adjustments using a small socket wrench and with each flurry of the tool—  Ratchet-ratchet-ratchet-ratchet...  —a band tightened, first around the base of Cassie's breast, then at three progressively higher positions on the breast.  In each case the band was tightened just tight enough to compress Cassie's flesh, ever so slightly, then Cricket pocketed the wrench and threw a switch on the side of the module.  Gears whirred, snapped in place, and a vibration shook the metal bands.

Cassie considered inquiring as to the full purpose of the module, but realized saying anything would be unworthy of a Brave Damsel.  Also, any remarks might cause Cricket to begin her Big Gloating Scene before she was actually ready.  There was nothing worse than premature gloating.  Cassie eyed the steel bands clutching her breast.  Well, she thought, maybe not nothing.  Regardless, she decided silent observation was her best course.

Cricket returned to the boxes and produced a radial cluster of... articulated metal claws?

Silence be damned!  "What the hell is that thing," Cassie gasped.  The claw assembly was ominous.

"Evil, isn't it?" Cricket said with a grin.  "And can you see how if Cody does make a Foxwood version of the Throne she could make this in the form of a giant spider?  It could easily be made to look Drowish."

"It looks like an overly complicated lifting claw," Cassie noted, "but I get your point.  The Dark Elves do love their spiders."

Cricket clicked the device into a socket atop the new module, threw another switch, and the metal claws closed on Cassie's steel-banded breast.  The many claws were of various lengths and their blunt points dimpled the tan, bulging flesh in a regular pattern evenly distributed between the bands.  In addition, a much smaller ring of steel talons pinched her nipple.

Cassie winced when the claws tightened.  She wasn't in pain, but the combined mechanical embrace of the bands and the claw-tips certainly had her attention.

Cricket made two more trips to the boxes and mirror copies of the module, boob-cage, and claw-cluster were deployed.  Now, Cassie's left breast and nipple had received similar treatment to her right.  "Now for the first test," Cricket grinned, then picked up an iPad and touched the screen.

Cassie's eyes popped wide.  "Ahhh!"  The bands and claws had all tightened and mild electric shocks had coursed through her breasts and nipples!  It was over in only a couple of seconds, and while it was decidedly unpleasant, Cassie had to admit the combined effect hadn't been that bad.

"That was everything triggered at once," Cricket explained, "but each band can contract independently, and the claws operate in pairs to deliver shocks across a range of intensities.  Mix it all together and things should get really complicated and... interesting."

Cassie couldn't think of an appropriate comment.

"Anyway," Cricket continued, tapping the screen again, "there's another major upgrade that needs testing."

The gears and motors in the base of the Throne sprang to life.  "Oh!" Cassie gasped and her eyes popped wide, again.  As expected, the vibrators had risen into place and were nudging her labia.  "Ahh!"  But now, something wet, cool, and blunt was sliding into her vagina!  "Cricket!"

"That's right," Cricket giggled.  "Cody added a reciprocating penetrator for a little in-out action, but don't worry."  She set down the iPad.  "It's self-lubricating and there's a drip pan.  I suggested adding an electrified, vibrating butt-plug and she's taken it under advisement for the next upgrade"  She picked up what was unmistakably a gag.  It had an alarmingly large and somewhat phallic mouth plug, a wide, padded mouth-panel, and three buckling straps.  "Any famous last words?" she inquired with a dimpled smile.

Cassie smiled back.  "Aside from 'what goes around comes around?'  Only this.  Thank you for distracting me from the loss of Ashley and Tiffany."

"Oh, you're welcome, Witchie-poo," Cricket giggled, "and as for things coming around... I'm counting on it."  She slid the gag's plug into Cassie's unresisting mouth, settled the panel over her somewhat stretched mouth, and began buckling the straps through steel staples in the back of the Throne's headrest.  She secured the last buckle and took a step back.

Cassie's chin was cupped by the tight panel and her cheeks bulged above the smooth, black leather.  "Now," Cricket said, reaching out and resting her hand on Cassie's smooth, tan, flat tummy, "I've already set the controls on random intensity, random timing, and random sequencing.  That's with respect to the boob squeezing and zapping, crotch diddling, foot tickling functions, and the witch-humping dildo, of course.  Also, ever the thoughtful torturer, I've set a one hour delay so the suspense can build and build and build."  She pointed to the top of a cabinet.  "And look."

The cabinet was within Cassie's rather limited visual range.  Otherwise, Cricket wouldn't have pointed, of course.  Anyway, Cassie beheld what she recognized as a webcam, and the lens was focused on the Throne and its occupant, the Wicked Witch of Sarand-ip.

"That's one of three cameras," Cricket explained, holding up the iPad.  "This way I can monitor your suffering, uh, I mean your enjoyment while I mind the store.  I'll blank the screen if we have any customers, of course, but it's all streaming to the server and I'll burn a DVD later.  Cody will want a copy."  She stepped behind the Throne's headrest, threw a switch—Click—then closed and locked the control panel's cover.  Snap.  Click.


Cassie heaved a sigh through her gag.  The quiet noise was the Throne's timer, of course.

"I'll check on you now and then," Cricket promised.  "I haven't yet decided whether to release you at close of business, sundown, or sunrise tomorrow.  Ciao!"

Cassie heard the door close and its lock turn, and then... silence.


Correction, Cassie thought, near silence.  She settled in to wait, knowing she was in for a wild ride.  The only question was how the Captive of the Throne of Excelsior would retaliate.  She tested her bonds with all her strength, with predictable and extremely limited results.  I'm afraid Cricket's DVD will be a little boring, she thought, or at the very least monotonous.  She should have left me more wiggle room.


Cassie continued planning her revenge.  Okay, Cricket knows about my Basement Dungeon, but not the tiny, sound-proofed, secret cubbyhole in the back of the walk-in closet in my bedroom.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 11

Neither Ashley nor Tiffany could be sure how long they'd been sharing the backseat of the SUV with Jillian.  It had been hours, but they didn't know how many.  It's difficult to judge the passage of time when you're bound and gagged with a hood over your head, especially if you're occasionally and repeatedly distracted by someone (Jillian) taking advantage of the situation by squeezing your breasts and stroking your thighs.  Granted, Jillian wasn't spending the entire trip groping them, not even close, but it was clear Her Ladyship was very happy with her new "acquisitions."

In any case, they'd been rolling along on paved highway for most of the trip, but the last hour had been over a somewhat bumpy dirt and gravel road.  Finally, the SUV stopped, the doors opened, the girls' lap/shoulder belts were unbuckled, and they were helped out of the vehicle and to their sandal-clad feet.

Despite the hoods the captives could tell they were in a forest.  The scent of living conifers penetrated the loosely woven cloth, as did the whispering sigh of the wind in tree branches and—  "Chickadee-dee-dee."  —the occasional bird call.  Grass, dirt, and pebbles were underfoot, and in the case of the grass, brushing their feet and legs.  They were being led somewhere over the rough ground, but their handlers didn't let them fall.

At one point they could hear running water, the gurgle and splash of clean, earth-bound rain caressing rounded, mossy rocks as it raced to the sea.  The girls were lifted off their feet and, like abducted brides, carried across the water.  Then, they were returned to their feet.  The journey continued for only a few more seconds, then the drawstrings were untied and their hoods pulled from their heads.

The girls blinked in the sudden sunlight, and found that they were, indeed, in a forest, and a redwood forest at that.  More precisely, they were in a modest clearing of grass and woodland shrubs surrounded by redwood forest.  Nearby was a clump of tall rhododendrons, and some of the leaves and branches were shaking, as if someone had just stepped through the screen of glossy green leaves.  They turned and beheld Jillian, smiling and uncoiling a short length of hemp rope.  Neither Hannah nor the SUV were in sight.

A hiking trail crossed the clearing and disappeared into the redwoods in either direction.  Opposite the girls and the rhododendrons was a five-foot post bearing a wooden placard and a painted aluminum sign bearing what they now recognized as the Foxwood logo and the words "PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING."

          Trespassing!"Hannah has gone to change," Jillian explained.  "She'll return shortly."
Ashley watched as Jillian tied one end of the approximately four-foot rope to the ring on the front of Tiffany's collar with an elegant knot.  Ashley herself was then spun around and she felt Jillian tying the other end of the rope to the back ring of her collar.  The BFFs were now bound, gagged, and joined collar-to-collar.  In a word, they were inseparable, physically as well as emotionally.

Jillian picked up a second, much longer coil of rope, released it, and tied one end to Ashley's front collar.  "This is called a coffle," she lectured, "in case you're unfamiliar with the handling of livestock... or slaves."  She took a step back and smiled.  "Adorable," she sighed, then hitched the far end of the rope to the signpost.

The girls exchanged an amused if somewhat exasperated look.  Filthy from head to toe, their hands encased in leather, their wrists locked in steel and tied to the smalls of their backs, clad in skimpy burlap dresses that at the moment were gaping in the front, thanks to their loose décolletage laces—"adorable" wasn't the adjective either of them would have chosen.

Ashley had to admit her BFF looked kinda hot... in a pathetic, grubby sort of way.  The redhead's left shoulder strap had come untied and she was presenting significant left boob, including most of her left nipple.  Ashley realized her strap was threatening to slide off her right shoulder, which might very well lead to a "nip-slip" of her own, but there was nothing she could do about it.  And Jillian certainly wasn't going to do anything about it, not if it made them look "adorable."

          Sword-Maiden Hannah!Just then, the rhododendrons rustled and Hannah stepped into the clearing.  As Jillian had said, she'd changed... into a Medieval Fantasy Female Warrior!

Hannah's calves and feet were clad in knee-boots of brown leather.  They were appropriately heavy-duty and worn and closed my means of leather thongs and top buckles.  She was also wearing a short (miniskirt short), reddish-brown suede kilt and a leather, bra-like top in dark brown.  The kilt had a wide belt with a brass buckle in the shape of the head of a fox, and riding her left hip was a sword, and it was clear the sword was not a toy.  The girls could tell that even with the blade still in its sheath.  Finally, a sheathed dagger was strapped to her left thigh.

The Captured Damsels may have been kinda hot, in a sad, disheveled sort of way—but Hannah was HOT!

The tall, tan, beautiful blonde simply radiated athletic grace and strength.  It required no imagination whatsoever to imagine her doing a simultaneous cross-draw of the sword with her right hand, a straight draw of the dagger with her left, and dropping into a fighting stance, ready to make mincemeat of Lady Foxwood's enemies with total competence.

"You didn't braid your hair," Jillian sighed, then smiled at the girls.  "Hannah usually wears Saxon braids when in costume," she explained, "parted down the middle and plaited into progressively tighter braids, sort of like French braids that turn into pigtails."

Ashley and Tiffany nodded their gagged heads in comprehension (and awe).

"I'll let Sydney do it after we get to the Keep," Hannah purred, then nodded at the afternoon sky.  "We better hit the trail."

Jillian nodded.  "And I better hit the road."  She kissed Ashley's cheek, above her gag, then did the same for Tiffany.  "I'll be driving the SUV around to the Outer Mews.  That's what we call our garage.  Meanwhile, Hannah Blood-Axe, my faithful Saxon retainer, will be driving you to the Keep by way of our forest trails.  Be good girls and do as you're told and she won't have to use her whip."

Hannah smiled, did a half-turn, and indicated the coiled whip tied by a thong to her belt, over her right hip.

The girls exchanged another glance, then realized Jillian was leaving.  The smiling redhead stepped through the rhododendrons and was gone.

"See you soon!" Jillian's voice called from beyond the rustling green leaves.

The girls turned back to Hannah.  She was smiling with her arms crossed under her leather-clad breasts.  Seconds passed... and turned into a minute.  Then, they heard the engine of the SUV purr to life, gravel crunching under its tires, and the sound fading into the distance.  Soon all was quiet—  "Chickadee-dee-dee."  —not counting the songbirds.

"All right then," Hannah said.  "I wanted to be sure Her Ladyship was truly gone before telling you this."  She stepped between the captives and rested her arms on their shoulders.  "You seem like you've got it together, but I'm gonna break character and tell you what's gonna happen, just in case."  She nodded towards one end of the trail.  "It's a little more than three miles to the Keep in that direction, and we'll easily make it there before sundown if we don't dawdle.  I know you're hungry and filthy and tired of being tied up, but once we get to Foxwood Keep, Princess Alice, Scholar Constance, Sydney, my sometimes thrall-sometimes Baroness, and Her Ladyship will be very happy to clean you up in our Roman Bath.  Also, Kayley, our cook, is preparing a welcoming feast.  The others are all most anxious to meet you and welcome you to Lady Foxwood's service."

Hannah kissed the tousled tops of the prisoners' heads, then stepped to the sign and unhitched the coffle rope.

"By the way," Hannah continued.  "Play your cards right and you'll share a bed with one or more of your new friends.  That way we can really welcome you.  Otherwise, sleeping on straw naked and chained to a dungeon wall isn't that bad.  I know."

The girls exchanged yet another glance.  They'd have to play things by ear, of course, but a bath followed by a feast sounded very good.  As for the rest... Wow!

"Remember," Hannah said, "all you have to do is pretend you're helplessly bound and gagged prisoners being dragged along a forest trail.  Piece of cake.  No acting required."

"No, ya think?" the girls would have responded, if they weren't gagged, that is.  Hannah stepped off, the coffle rope began to lose slack, and the Captured Damsels quickly followed.

Ashley and Tiffany's new lives as Foxwood Damsels were about to begun.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 11


Chapter 10