The rain poured down on a dreary new years eve. I was fresh out of college, I had a backpack on with a freshly made meal for two, a case of ‘MAD OGRE’ brew in my hand, and a movie in the other. I stomped up three flights of stairs and got to the top of the apartment. There were six apartments in this building, all connected by outdoor stairs with multiple other buildings surrounding it. Most apartments still had some of their Christmas decorations up, but this one that I was headed to most likely never even had them up in the first place. I grabbed the knocker and slammed it down four times, hoping the occupant would hear me. I heard her stomp to the door and open it slowly, “Anon?” She asked drowsily as she rubbed her eyes and looked down at me, “What are you doing here?” I gave her a look, “I texted you multiple times that I was gonna come over tonight, Zara. Have you just been dozing off on your couch?” Zara folded her arms. She was still in her work clothes. A skirt and a nice dress shirt with a tie. She had already taken her suit jacket off, at least, “I have not,” She calmly declared, “I merely like to spend time away from my phone as to not get addicted to it like so many in this age.” “Yeah, because that ancient flip phone totally has Facebook and Twitter on it,” I scoffed as I ducked under her arm and walked into her apartment. “Are you planning on spending New Year’s Eve here?” Zara asked slowly, completely unsure. I turned back to her and saw that the large tiger woman, who had an almost sheepish look on her face, had put her tiger print fur covered hands behind her back, “Yeah. My parents are out of town and everyone else is hanging out with their girlfriends,” I hesitated when I thought about admitting the next part, “And I don’t want you to spend the holidays alone.” She sighed and put her big tiger hand on my head, “I can not believe you are still this infatuated with me.” I shrugged, “It gets worse. I made some dinner,” I handed her a little plastic container with her crispy chicken sandwich in it and a few little containers with condiments in it including the spicy sriracha sauce I knew she liked. Zara sighed again, “Thank you, Anon. Make yourself at home. You are always welcomed here.” “Thanks, Zara,” I plopped down on the couch with her. The entire couch was warm so I knew I was right; she had been dozing off on it just before I got here as she laid across it. “How long has it been since we met now?” She asked as she prepared her sandwich. “Feeling nostalgic, are we?” I placed the bags of chips I had brought on the coffee table along with the beer. “I was feeling a little misty eyed after I received your gift, Anon,” The jinko admits as we settled into her couch in her little one bedroom apartment, “What grade were you in again? I was in seventh, correct?” “I might have been a kindergartener,” I admitted, “I loved tigers when I was tiny and then I met a real tiger lady and I thought she was SO cool,” We both laughed as we recalled the tiny town we both grew up in and the K through Twelve school we both attended, “Man I remember bawling my eyes out thinking I’d never see my best friend again after she graduated.” “You always were a strange one. When I cried as I accepted my four-point-oh diploma at my graduation, I was crying over how sad you were. You thought of me as your best friend when you were that young...” She chuckled again, “I considered you mine, honestly. I did not have many-- any friends. I still do not.” “Hey, stop being so hard on yourself. You’ve gotten nothing but straight A’s. I know you sacrificed your social life, but you helped me get as good of grades as I got with all that tutoring,” I put my hand on her shoulder and watched her take a big bite of her sandwich, “It’s not like I have many friends either,” I grunted as I cracked open a cold one and downed some of it. “The twenty three year old engineering graduate and the lonely thirty one year old office lady. The two of them spending the holidays together. What a story,” Zara awkwardly put her hand on my head again in her usual way of giving physical affection, “Thank you again for wanting to spend the holiday with me. Another thank you for the meal,” She grabbed my second beer out of my hand and opened it by jabbing her claw into the lid. I huffed and grabbed a second can for myself, “Yeah, of course. Gotta pay you back for that time you were the only person to come to my birthday party. Twice.” “I did do that, huh?” She leaned back on the couch and I did the same. “How’s work?” “Fine. Boring. A bit lonely.” “You keep saying you’re lonely,” I pointed out. “It is lonely at the top, Anon,” She explains before taking a quick chug. After putting it in my free hand to hold it for her, she grabbed her tie and loosened it before undoing a few buttons. I could see the very top of her cleavage and the faintest hint of her bra. I stared at her open palm as she asked for the drink back. Her hands were big, covered in tiger striped orange and cream fur, and ended in well manicured, sharp claws. The fur continued until mid way between her shoulder and elbow. Between her arms sat her bosom, the breasts there were shapely and big. Above that was her neck, covered in fluffy jinko fur and even further was her face; aged like fine wine, stoic, beautiful and wise, all these words I would describe her with, especially in the dim lighting of her home. Her hair was long, easily going down past her shoulders. Her locks were mostly dark brown with a black stripe in it. She also had big, round tiger ears atop her head in lieu of human ones on the sides. I reverently handed the beer back as her long tiger tail flicked from side to side. She folded one leg over the other, showing me her large, similarly colored tiger-like feet. She kicked off the heels she wore on the bottom of them and let out a relieved sigh. I had forgotten how pretty she was in our time apart, “What do you mean about being lonely at the top?” “Success breeds jealousy. I am at the top of my field, eying a big managerial position that I am a shoe-in for. None will get very close to me and I will not let them get close for fear of being backstabbed,” She calmly and sadly explained as she downed her drink then crushed the can and picked up another. Zara opened it the same way she had before and downed it, “I am just so angry at myself. I spent all that time that I should have used looking for a man on studying and taking tests,” The jinko woman growled as she quickly chugged her next can of beer. “No need to be so hard on yourself, Zara. You’re so successful! You’re the kind of girl everyone wishes they could be!” I assured her. Her stoic expression had gone to anger and now to depression, “You seem to be the only one that thinks so highly of me,” She downed her next can and went to pat me on the head but missed and wrapped her arm around my neck before leaning on me, “Anon. You are so nice to me,” Her chin pressed against the top of my head as she started to sniffle. I ran my hand up and down her back, “What are friends for, right?” The big tiger woman was silent other than the noise of her chuffing in my ear, a rare occurrence that I had only heard a few times. Still chuffing, she rose off me and downed another beer before going for another and the chips, “Hey, put on that new years thing, on the TV, okay?” Her speech was starting to slur, but I wasn’t about to say no when her big claws were this close to my organs. I turned on the TV for her, just putting on a random show as it was a little early for the new year’s celebration. Zara kept leaning on me, chuffing quietly in between eating her chips. There were very few beers left when midnight started to roll around. Zara had drunk most of them and she was still chuffing away, leaning on me as she slowly ate the second bag of chips. The tiger woman pulled her tie completely loose and tossed it aside with a chuckle, “There it goes!” She unbuttoned a few more spots on her shirt revealing more of her heavenly rack, “Good Maou, I HATE working!” She cried as she snuggled up against me, wrapping two arms around me. “Is it really that terrible?” I whimpered as her claws dug into me. She gripped my chin with her other hand and looked me in the eye with her own, golden yellow globes, “I am just so unhappy. It would stop being so horrible if I could come home to someone I love. Someone to support me, love me, help me unwind…” She shuddered as she let out a deep breath, “I just need someone, do you think so?” “Uh, maybe,” I just shrugged as we both turned to the TV. The ratatoskr on the screen looked excited as the big shiny ball started to drop, “I did not even realize it was this close to midnight,” The jinko would not let me go, “Do people do anything for new years? I usually sleep through it.” I nodded, “Some people kiss who they love, I guess. Like right when it rolls over to the new year.” “I see,” The jinko nodded and stared at the screen. “Five! Four!” The countdown went, “Three!” I felt Zara tense up, her breathing getting a little heavy, and making me smell the booze on her breath, “Two!” The jinko grabbed my face again, putting both her hands on the sides of my head, “One!” Without further hesitation, she pressed her lips to mine as the crowd cheered, their cries blaring through the TV. Zara stared at me, both of us in complete shock at what she had just done, “I-I am s-sorry,” She whimpered and backed away, “I-I-I have no idea what came over me.” Emboldened, I grabbed the remote and rewound it to the countdown, “Three! Two!” I leaned forward and gave the confused tiger a kiss on the lips, “One!” The light peck on the lips still managed to convey how her mouth tasted of liquor. I wrapped my arms around her when I pulled away and she wrapped hers around me, letting me lay on top of her as she laid out on the couch. Zara stroked my hair as she put my head on her bosom, “You really are a strange one, Anon. Do you really have feelings for me?” “I do. I have for so long but I’ve been so scared to say so for the longest time. I was always just some kid to you,” I explained, “A-at least that’s what I assumed.” The jinko kissed the top of my head, “You have always been my best friend and I have watched you grow into a wonderful young man. You have become the man I wish I had in my life but I always thought you had eyes for another.” “Who? Suzie? I’m not a fan of lizards, Zara. I’d much rather stroke your soft fur than her scratchy scales,” I laughed before being pulled into a tighter hug, “I’ve always thought you were so pretty. Since I was little I wanted to tell you that I would marry you when I got older.” “Do you want to?” She asked quietly while squeezing me. “Y-yeah. Of course I do. Do you want me still?” “Yes. I love you very much, Anon,” She purred, “How about I show you? Stand up.” I did as the gorgeous cat woman asked. She had her hands on my hips as her tail swung to and fro, “Z-Zara?” I was starting to feel a little nervous. “Ssh,” She purred, “A wife’s place is to serve her husband in any way and I know you could use some… ‘service,’” She grabbed my belt and swiftly undid the buckle. My pants were dropped next and my already hard member fell out onto her breasts, “Is this what you like?” She grabbed her large breasts and shook them teasingly for me, their soft skin lightly slapping the bottom of my manhood. I just nodded sheepishly, my penis throbbing at the thought of getting to see her heavenly body. With feline grace, she ran the tips of her fingers along my shaft. She chuffed as she watched me squirm and gasp at her simple touch. Zara stood up, towering above me as she reached down to grope my member further. With one hand, she undid the last buttons on her shirt, tossing it aside and revealing her full, toned form to me. She had a mildly defined set of abs and a big rack of heavenly breasts, “Go on. Touch. My body is here to serve you as yours is here to serve mine.” I couldn’t hold myself back, my hands ran up and down her chest, first feeling her toned stomach then moving my hands up gleefully to her breasts as she removed her skirt to show me her cute tiger print panties. She rubbed my head, stroking my hair as she chuffed and bit her bottom lip. Her tail flicked before she gripped my head again and forcibly kissed me. This time her tongue rolled out, licking at my lips, pleading to be let in. I could only oblige, opening up for her rough, but pleasantly slick muscle to enter my mouth and clumsily feel around. I reciprocated the best I could, still fondling her breasts as she stroked my head and back. She removed her black, lacey bra for me, her large breasts flopping out without anything to hold them back. I could only stare in awe, not noticing as the jinko grabbed the back of my neck and forced my head between them. Zara’s chuffing only got louder as I tried to push myself even deeper into her bosom with my mouth moving as if of its own accord as I kissed her between her cleavage. The jinko had to remove me, otherwise I would have stayed in there until suffocation, “You seem to be having fun,” She teased as she reached down and groped me teasingly. “All my teenage wet dreams are coming true,” I panted as I squeezed both breasts again. With a laugh, Zara picked me up and kissed me again as she hoisted me off the ground. I was quickly taken to the bedroom and dumped on the bed. I looked up, expecting her to climb atop me but I watched her lie right next to me, “Anon? Could you… make my dream come true as well?” “Anything for you.” “Then… take charge tonight, please,” She meekly pleaded as she rolled onto her back and pulled off her panties, showing off thick strands of her love juice that was stuck to them. I nodded, “I-I’ll try,” That was all I could stammer as I took my position between her powerful legs. I felt her legs brush up against my hips, making me shudder with anticipation. I took a deep breath and grabbed her hips, pulling her toward me, making her swoon instantly as her face turned tomato red, “Such a big, strong man!” She cried out, panting at my simple gesture. I swallowed and grabbed my member, lining myself up to pierce this black striped pussy’s pussy. With a little nudge from her foot, she pulled me in, giving me enough confidence to shove myself into her. She cried out as I took her virginity and she snatched mine. I started to thrust into her, pushing through the resistance and burying my member within the halls of her soft, wet insides. We both shuddered, the walls of her pussy convulsed, already pleading my cock to release. I started to thrust, slowly at first as I fell into my clumsy, passion filled rhythm. I penetrated her, putting my hips into it as the jinko clawed at her sheets and moaned. I pulled her toward me again, making her cry out with joy again as I pushed myself deeper into her. Her powerful legs wrapped around me, the fluffy fur on her legs and feet brushing against my skin and giving me goosebumps as I gripped her wide hips and continued thrusting my member. I fell into a steady pace, watching her shapely breasts bob up and down in rhythm with me as we both moaned and groaned together from the shared pleasure. Zara rose up, wrapping her arms and legs around me, “Anon,” She panted my name, “Hold nothing back. I want you more than anything,” The jinko held me tight as I grabbed her hips again and continued thrusting into her as vigorously as I could. She stroked my hair and held my face in her bosom again. My member thrust deeper and deeper with Zara moaning and roaring with every movement of my hips. Her claws raked across my back, “Ahn~ Anon!” She roared my name as all her muscles tensed up and pulled me close. The walls over her love tunnel convulsed on my shaft, bringing me to orgasm as I did my best to continue rocking my hips despite her vice grip. I came inside her, grunting as I pressed myself into her, feeling her hold me tight as my member spurted out its desperately desired baby batter. I rose out of Zara’s breasts, only to be assaulted by a few kisses as she tried to pull me even deeper into her. We orgasmed in unison, feeling it slowly fade together as well as we both made out, tongues twisting and writhing in one another’s mouths as we passionately explored each other’s body by inches, groping, stroking and squeezing each other. Zara pulled me onto the bed and yanked me under the covers where she pressed herself against me and chuffed as I patted her head and teasingly poked at her ears. She pushed me onto my back and lay her head on my chest after giving me a quick, loving kiss on the cheek, “You did wonderful, Anon. I have no doubts about your feelings for me.” “Of course. I love you very much, Zara. I’m just so happy you feel the same,” I yawned, finally feeling the stinging of the claw marks on my back. “Of course I do love you. I always have,” She kissed me again and settled in, “I finally feel stress free having you around.” “Really?” “Oh, yes. I am going to need many more of those loving, passionate dickings from you in the future,” She chuffed loudly before rubbing her cheeks against mine like a housecat. I suppressed a groan as I felt how weary my body was but I nodded, “Of course. Anything for my lovely wife.” “Good. Now rest, my sweet. I will require your body again soon!” She giggled before quickly tucking us both in. I had been enjoying my life as a househusband for a few months now. I struggled to remember how long it had been due to time not really mattering to me since I had no real schedule-- other than to deep clean the house every other week. I wore an apron as I worked at the stove, cooking up a wonderful meal for my wife who would be home soon. I thought I had more time, but I realized my time was up as the front door unlocked, “I am home, my darling husband!” Zara called as she dumped her workbag next to the front door and started to remove her jacket. “How was work?” I asked as I wiped off my hands on my apron. “It was good today. The lunch you made definitely helped!” She smiled before turning away from me and tried to stretch using the couch, “Hmm, my back needs to pop…” She glanced over her shoulder at me and smiled as she used her tail to lift up the skirt she wore, “Zara…” I started to get a stiffy as I saw her cute tiger stripe panties. “Hm? What is it?” She played coy before beckoning me closer, “Are you thinking of using your wife before dinner?” I sighed and started to strip down, “You’re the one who wants to use me.” “And? I do not hear you complaining about having loving, passionate intercourse with me~” I nodded and slapped her ass, making her moan before I started fucking her, “I love you,” I said as I inserted myself. “Ahn~ I love you too!” She cried as she leaned into me.
Another unfinished story. I think this turned into ‘Striped Samurai’ eventually. I’ve included both versions of it.
I lie in wait. Waiting for my prey to wander by. There was a bear in my woods, and I needed to get rid of it before it killed my elk. I had tracked it for a few days and I knew its routine. It should come by here at five before going back to its den. I didn’t dare wander into its home. I would take it down here, on fair ground. With a spear in my hand, I sat in the brush. My inner clock told me it was just before five. I listened to the chirping of birds and the babbling of the nearby stream. It would have been peaceful if I wasn’t on the hunt. I saw it in my peripheral vision. I didn’t move my head. The grizzly was about to strut through the clearing. I waited patiently. As soon as the grizzly had moved past me, I sprang my trap. I stood up and launched my spear. With a spray of blood and a single cry, the beast went down. I walked quietly toward the beast, the spear had severed its spine near the head, killing it near instantly. I sighed, disappointed. I hadn’t had a good fight in ages. I grabbed the beast and threw it over one shoulder. I started back towards my house, wiping the mud off my face. It was a half hour walk, but a 15 minute jog. I got to the edge of my yard in about 17 minutes, the bear weighed me down a bit. I was losing my touch. I stopped near the edge of the yard and dropped low. Movement on the deck. I set the bear carcass down gently and moved slowly across the grass. Only a fool would try to rob me here. As I neared the porch, I saw two forms. The first looked like a man, I didn’t recognize him. He was sitting at the table next to the second form. The second person was a woman, she had long pointy ears on the top of her head, pawed hands and feet, black fur on both. She had a uniform on, black and decorated with multiple accolades. I knew who this was. I got up and moved quickly onto the deck stomping over to her before I stood at attention, “Colonel,” I saluted her. The anubis chuckled a little bit, “Ex-First Lieutenant, Suzanne Thorne. You don’t need to salute me any more. Would you mind explaining why you’re naked and covered in mud?” I stood at ease, “Hunting, Ma’am. Bear trying to get at my elk.” I turned to the man who was sitting next to her, he was covering his red face with his hands, “You don’t remember what today is, do you?” The Colonel asked with a wry smile. “No ma’am. I don’t remember you saying that you were going to bring your husband here.” She chuckled again, “He’s not my husband. He’s going to be helping you here. Ross, say hello.” “H-hello,” He stammered peering between his fingers. He was young, which was fine. But he was small and flabby. “Him? I expected someone larger.” “Your personalities align. He is here to help you get over issues, not wrestle and fight. He needs your help just as much as you need his,” She clutched his shoulder and shook him a little, “You have almost two feet in height difference. Don’t. Break. Him.” I stifled a groan. I had forgotten about this conversation last time she was here. I lived out here to be alone and to keep myself from hurting anyone. I didn’t want to baby sit this kid, “As you command.” “Suzie. I’m not trying to punish you, you’re my best friend. I want to see you improve. I’ll call tomorrow. If it doesn’t work out I’ll come pick him up,” She gave me a smile as she put her hat back on, “Now put some clothes on! That’s an order!” I nodded, “You, inside,” I pointed at the boy and wandered inside. I had left my clothes right by the back door, “Wait here. I’m going to go shower.” I heard The Colonel talk quietly to the boy as I headed to my room. We went way back. I might not be in the military anymore but I still respect her rank and magical prowess. On the reverse side, she thinks of me as a close friend. I wasn’t too thrilled about this whole thing, but the group she was working with had done a lot to help monsters and humans alike with whatever psychological or physical problems they have. I couldn’t remember this guys story, but why would he need me, a war vet missing one eye? An old seven and a half foot tall jinko with a bad attitude. I opened one of my drawers and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. I stepped into the shower and took a drink. I came back to the main room to find that the Colonel had left. I was left with this kid now, “Now what?” I asked the air, hoping he might say something. He looked up from staring at the floor. He looked up at my face before looking away when we made eye contact, he looked back at his feet, “I dunno. I’m not sure what exactly I’m supposed to be doing. You wanna do something for dinner?” “I’ll get some instant noodles going. Want any liquor?” I walked into the kitchen and filled a pot with water. “I’ll have some water, if that’s fine,” He followed me and started poking around in drawers and the pantry, “Do... you only eat ramen and drink booze?” I looked at him, “Yeah. What of it, kid?” He recoiled, “J-just asking.” I almost felt bad, he actually seemed concerned for me. We were still strangers though, I was on guard. I put my hand out, “Suzanne Thorne. What was your name again?” “Its Ross,” He surprised me with a firm handshake and a look in the eyes. Seemed like a limp wristed alp from first impression, “Do you eat anything else?” He asked after we broke the handshake. “Jerky and- Shit I forgot about the bear,” I suddenly remembered, “Watch the noodles, I’ll be right back,” I started to stomp out to the backyard. “Do you want any help with that?” Ross called. “Pfft, doubt you could help,” I chuckled and stepped outside. I took a swig from my flask as I crossed the yard. The sun was setting soon, so the coyotes would be out soon. Good thing I remembered. I threw the carcass over my shoulder and brought it onto the deck. “Jesus christ, you can just throw that around like its nothing?” Ross poked his head outside. “Make yourself useful and grab that tarp,” I barked. He did as I asked and spread the tarp out over the wood. I expertly began skinning the bear. Ross gagged, “Don’t you vomit on this! Go back inside!” I shouted at him as he turned green. He nodded and dashed inside. I came back inside after an hour. The meat was on the drying rack and the skin was in the laundry room, ready to be washed by hand. Ross was sitting at the table, staring off into space, as if he didn’t even notice me walk into the room, “Kid,” I called. He snapped to attention, “Huh?” He rubbed his eyes. “What’s with you?” I growled as I dished up my cold noodles. He hesitated, “Nothing,” He stared at his half empty bowl of noodles. I sat across from him at the table, “Since you’re living in my house, you’re gonna live by my rules,” He nodded and poked at his food, “Stay out of my room, don’t break my shit, and if I make food, you eat all of it.” “Got it,” He mumbled. “Look at me when I speak to you, boy. And talk louder when you speak to me.” “Got it,” He said a little bit louder as he looked up at me. “Better,” I started eating. Noodles tasted better cold anyways. “Can I ask you something? Well, a few things,” I nodded and looked up at the kid, he was eating slowly, “Do I call you Lieutenant, Suzanne, or..?” “Suzanne or ma’am to you, boy. Lieutenant Thorne is fine too, just don’t go using that too much.” “Got it, uh, ma’am. So you were in the military? Before coming to this world?” “Don’t ask me about that stuff. I had a good hunt today and I don’t wanna kill this feeling,” I growled. “Sorry,” He looked back down at his food. “My turn for questions. Last name,” It wasn’t really a question. “Priest. No, I’m not one,” He looked up at me halfway through speaking, as if he just remembered my rule. “Age,” I finished the rest of my noodles. “22. May I know yours?” “Older than you. Probably too old you, kid,” I laughed and he gave me a small sly grin, “Occupation?” “Graphic designer. Doubt you care much about that, what about you?” He didn’t look like he wanted to finish his noodles so I reached across the table and grabbed the bowl, he gave me a thankful smile. “I get paid for my time in the service. I brew a little bit of my own ‘shine on the side for extra cash, but mostly to drink myself,” He was easy to talk to at least. I finished off his noodles, “Why are you here?” “I needed to get away from home,” He said darkly, “I don’t want to kill you mood, so I’ll leave it at that.” I nodded, “Fair enough. You’ll be sleeping in the spare bedroom. Don’t piss in the sheets.” “I’ll try not to,” His demeanor returned to somewhat cheerful, he gave me a small laugh as well, “I guess I should move into there and finish up a project,” He got up and moved over to the small cluster of boxes and bag, “Oh, one more question and I’m sorry if this is insensitive or something. How’d you lose your eye?” Wonder in his eyes. I sighed, “Assassin’s blade. I dodged it just in time to not get killed. Anything else?” “No. Thank you for humoring me,” He picked up his bag and a box. I stepped forward and picked up some of the boxes, “Over here, kid,” I showed him where the guest room was. Directly across from my room and without an attached bathroom, the guest room had a twin bed pushed up against the wall, a desk and a closet. The only other person who slept here before was the Colonel. I set the boxes down and walked out. He started slowly unpacking as I brought the rest of his crap in. Nothing too crazy, just clothes, a computer and a what seemed to be toys to me. He assured me they were collector's items. It cemented my thoughts of him just being a kid. “We should go out and get some food tomorrow. I’ll cook something for ya! For taking me in and all, its the least I can do,” He offered, eyes shining. “Fine. We’re splitting bills. And you’re paying for that internet, I don’t use that nerd crap,” I told him, downing more liquor. “Alright, well, I’ll talk to you in the morning,” He gave me a soft smile and went back to unpacking. I grunted something akin to ‘goodnight,’ and left the room. I couldn’t believe I was letting myself get attached to him already. His innocence and kindness made my heart warmer than liquor ever could. I hated it. I was marching through a forest. My team marched behind me; a minotaur, an oni a hellhound and an ogre. I knew what was coming. I wanted out. I couldn’t stop myself from moving, I tried to scream or beg my squad to stop marching and turn back before it was too late. There was a cry of pain behind me. I turned around to see the hellhound caught in a bear trap. “Suzanne!” I heard an unfamiliar voice call. I snapped out of the dream, I was standing up besides my bed. Ross was slumped against the wall in front of me. He was clutching the back of his head, “What the hell are you doing in here?” I growled. “You were thrashing around and shouting. Begging someone to stop. I just wanted to make sure you were alright,” The kid explained. “I’m fine. Go away.” “You threw me against the wall in your sleep!” He shouted, “Who does-” “I’m about to break you over my knee while awake. Leave me alone,” I interrupted him, seething. He got up and stormed out. I could see him muttering under his breath. He was lucky I couldn’t hear him. I sat back down on my sweat covered sheets and looked at where he had been sitting. There was a small hole in the wall where I had thrown him. A wave of guilt washed over me. This was the exact reason I was out here alone, to protect everyone from me. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Guilt washed over me. Ross and I sat across from each other at the table. Neither of us had slept much. Ross was poking at the potatoes and eggs that he had made for us, “I’m gonna eat those if you don’t.” “I’m working on it, ma’am. Are we still going shopping today?” Ross shoveled some potatoes into his mouth. He looked exhausted and I still felt sort of bad about hurting him. “We need more food. I’ll go myself,” I offered, yawning. “Alright. Want me to do any cleaning? Sheets? Clothes?” He asked. “Go for it. Don’t go digging around in my things,” I stole more of his eggs. “Or you’ll tear my heart out and eat it in front of me?” He gave me a sly smile. “Haven't done that to anyone... yet,” I gave him a murderous smile. He laughed nervously and shut himself with more potatoes, “I’m gonna go wash my hair and head out, write down anything specific you need,” He nodded and went back to eating. I got up and walked into his room. Flipping the light on, I saw him sitting on the bed hugging his legs, face pressed into his knees. He looked up, “Here to break me in half?” His words burned me like a fire. I sat on the side of the bed and stared at the floor, “I-I wanted to apologise. For hurting you. You got me at a really bad time.” He sighed and moved to the edge of the bed next to me, “I forgive you, Suzanne, but why were you screaming?” “Recurring nightmare of a mission that went bad,” I said darkly. The kid slowly put his hand on my shoulder, “I know how you feel.” I turned to him, ready to shout some profanities. There was a look in his eyes, I instantly knew he had seen some shit. He looked at me like the recruits after their first mission. I put my arm around his shoulders, “I guess that’s why we were paired up, huh?” “Seems like it,” The kid leaned against me and closed his eyes. “Don’t go falling asleep on me, kid,” I yawned. “If you need anything you know you can talk to me, right?” He smiled at me. “Anything?” I was still shaken from the nightmare and hurting him, “I could use a, uh, hug.” “That’s all?” He laughed and stood in front of me. “Laugh at me again and I’ll- aaaah,” I involuntarily exhaled a sigh of relief as I melted in his arms. He had wrapped his arms around my neck and squeezed pretty tightly. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had hugged someone. When he tried to let go of the hug and back away, without even thinking about it my arms shot out and pulled him back in. He started to laugh again so I shut him up by squeezing him, replacing his laughter with a cry of surprise, “I told you to stop that!” I finally let him get away from me, he sat back down, “Better?” I nodded and wiped my eyes, “Yeah. Thanks, kid- I mean, Ross.” “Anytime. Wait, are you crying?” He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me an incredulous look. I growled and tackled him to the ground, “TELL ANYONE AND I’LL KILL YOU!” I screamed. “Okay! Okay!” He cried as I held him down. I was straddling him and holding his hands over his head. He looked up into my eyes and smiled again. I got off of him and lie down next to him on the floor. I couldn’t help but laugh at us. Ross looked at me and laughed too.
“Oni, Bear, what’s your status?” “Explosives set. Ready to go.” “Good. Wolf?” “Cameras in the west wing are down. Patching the feed through to your devices.” “Owl?” “Sound suppression... good to go.” “Tiger, are you in position?” “Yes, captain,” I told him through the comm. I had climbed up a watch tower and taken out the only guard there. He lay on the floor in a pool of his own blood. I used the scope on my sniper to scout out targets. “Wolf, head to our position and have your equipment ready.” I woke up from the dream in a cold sweat. The amount of times I had relieved that nightmare in my sleep was taking a toll on me. I flipped the lamp on and sat at the edge of the bed. I looked behind me, I had clawed up the mattress again. Too bad they didn’t make that stuff out of kevlar. I got up to wash my face. I looked at my face. Scars littered my skin. A large scar over my left eye had blinded it. My white and black fur that covered my arms and legs was looking disheveled. My short black hair could do with a combing. I threw some water on my face and got back in bed. Not like it mattered if I looked good. I was in my late thirties. Too old to find someone.
[This wonderful cover art commission was done by my friend IfTheArtistConsents (Minds Newgrounds) Go check out his work if you haven’t already!]
As a quick heads up, the formatting in this story is a little weird because of some strange ideas I had for it. Hopefully its still easy to follow along with and enjoyable!
This story incorporates a lot of characters from my previous works. You get enough info on each of them from this to enjoy this story even if you aren’t familiar with the characters. If you’ve read my stuff or you just wanna read this, feel free to read on. If you feel like reading these characters’ backstories, the main ones to read are: Bridgett Means Fire, Little Dragon Girl, The Black Cat, and Striped Samurai. I hope you enjoy!
A red car coasted down a lonely road on a sunny Saturday morning. It was barely ten o’clock with scarcely a cloud in the sky as soft rock played through the car’s stereo. Sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car was a weresheep with cream colored wool and bright green eyes. Covering her motherly body was a deep purple knitted sweater and form fitting jeans. She turned to face her husband of four years, her waxxed horns glimmering in the sunlight, “Theodore, darling, are we really going to leave the kids with… Maxine?” She had an unsure frown spread across her lips. Theodore scoffed and glanced at her from behind his blacked out sunglasses, “Of course! We haven’t had time to ourselves since we met. This isn’t like when Mother babysat them all for a night. Kimiko is there! She’s the most responsible person we know!” “I liked it when grandma baby sat me!” Their daughter, Bridgett, a young dragon girl with green scales, blue eyes and black hair grinned. She was wearing a yellow dress. Gwen grimaced as she remembered how her adoptive mother had spoiled her children rotten. Bridgett had drank so much caffeine she couldn’t sleep all night and kept waking her parents up, “Well… right. But…” “You worry too much!” Theodore laughed, “Plus Maxine said she needed Bridgett’s help for a special project. Everyone on the Hamilton estate has their eyes on the witch. Nothing bad will happen.” “I’m still not sure.” The man sighed at his beautiful weresheep wife, “Come on, I got us a reservation at your favorite restaurant, two tickets to that new movie you wanted to see, and an afternoon to ourselves.” Gwen gave him a tiny smile, she really did want to do those things, but she was a little wary about leaving her children in her somewhat reckless friend’s care. With a glance behind her, she looked over her precious children. The dragon was nearly ten now and her twins were three. Like usual, Ross and Samantha were both asleep, “Alright, alright. But, Bridgett, if anything strange happens you find a phone and call us.” “Okay!” The dragon girl bounced excitedly in her seat. With how big she was now, she could easily be mistaken for a young teen. Theodore snickered quietly to himself as he refocused on the road, “I remember a few years ago when my little girl was terrified of Maxine.” “Maxine!” A voice cried. The cat witch groaned as she put her book down, “What is it, Svetlana?” Her green cat eyes blinked as she adjusted her short sable hair and long, black, billowing robes. The kikimora appeared in the doorway with her own child in her arms. A one year old kikimora with grey hair that matched her mother's, “I hope you have not forgotten about the playdate you scheduled for your children. They should be arriving any minute!” She scolded. “Of course I had not,” She scoffed, rising to her feet and putting her wide brimmed, conical hat atop her head, making sure her pointy cat ears stuck through their allotted holes, “My precious Sophia needs her time to bond with Ross at a young age. The two are destined for one another.” “You keep saying that…” Svetlana sighed, “What about Kimiko’s children or my daughter interacting with him?” “Nothing will come of that,” She assured her best friend with confidence. The two strut down the halls of her wing of the Hamilton manor. Her parents and sister had control of the rest of the abode, but a sizable chunk was under Maxine’s care along with her husband, Richard. Svetlana’s family along with Kimiko, Maxine’s body guard and trusted friend lived on the wealthy family’s property, “Besides, I have more important things to do while the children nap,” The witch had done little decorating in her area. There were a few paintings that her mother had put up for her, but other than that every room was form over function. A room for magical paraphernalia, a personal library, a personal room for her husband, a room for learning martial combat and a few rooms dedicated to her children. Maxine had two now, Sophia, the older at a little over three years and Marcille who was around seventeen months old, “Did you summon Kimiko like I instructed?” “Of course. Her and her litter of three are prepared for the play date. Why didn’t you offer to take Daisy or Ruth’s children too? You seem intent on giving your children ample play dates with others their age. Ruth had boys, in fact,” The kikimora points out. Maxine grimaced, “It is not that I do not like our friends’ offspring. My two, your one, Kimiko’s three and then Gwen’s three might as well be five with Bridgett involved. It is merely just a lot of children in one place for you and Kimiko to watch.” Svetlana sighed, “Yes. Right. You still have not explained what exactly it is you have planned for your favorite dragon.” “All in due time,” Maxine purred with a devilish smile, “It is nothing for you to worry your precious little head over." She rolled her eyes, “Good. Worrying was never my forte, afterall,” The kikimora shook her head, “Best left to people like you and Kimiko.” “Exactly. Where is she anyways? It is unlike her to be tardy,” Maxine frowned as she glanced out one of the front windows to make sure that her wool covered friend wasn’t there yet. “Probably at her little pond,” The kikimora gestured to a window up ahead, “She is so large, I assume you could see her from here.” “Ah, I think I do see her…” The witch muttered, squinting her eyes. The tall tiger woman sat at a small pond surrounded by a modestly sized zen garden. Kimiko was on a large rock with a trail of smaller stones leading to it as to not step in the carefully raked sand. The area was surrounded by a small wall to keep the breeze, children and animals from messing with the jinko’s carefully manicured bonsai trees. If that protection failed, the magical runes that surrounded the area would protect it. She breathed deliberately as she meditated to the sound of running water over smooth stones. She stirred and flicked her tail as she heard someone approaching, “Kimiko?” A man called out to her from behind the walls of her zen sanctuary. “Yes, dear husband?” She replied as she stood to her full seven feet tall stature. Her white kimono with a silvery, flowing floral pattern on it billowed slightly in the soft breeze before she tightened the sash around her waist. The man, Calvin, cleared his throat, “Theodore and Gwen should be arriving at any moment. I was asked to summon you,” His tone was formal before he grunted out the next thing he had to say, “And you left your sword lying around again and one of the kids got it. You know how I feel about that. They could really hurt themselves.” Kimiko sighed and rose to her feet, “Perhaps I needed to clear my mind more than I had initially thought,” She mused aloud. She put her usual eyepatch over her bad eye and stepped across the stones toward her husband on long, elegant strides. “I just want you to be more careful, Kimiko,” Calvin said, the annoyance in his tone had dissipated. She nodded, “I understand,” She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, “My mind has been clouded as of late. Maxine is up to something… wicked.” “She’s a witch. That’s what she does,” Calvin grunted as the two went back to their modest home to collect their children. He adjusted the katana on his hip before handing a katana in a golden decorated sheath to his wife. Kimiko nodded, taking the sword and agreeing with him, “She generally can be mischievous, although usually benevolent. A force of good. But this is something else.” “The road to evil is paved with good intentions and all that,” He opened the front door and held it open for his wife, “I’ll be around to make sure she doesn’t mess with any of the kids while you keep an eye on her.” “Good,” Kimiko smiled as she heard the sounds of numerous little feet running across the floor. Of the three, the two largest were Haruki and Mitsune. Both had cinnamon colored fur on their arms, legs, tail and cat ears with black colored stripes. They both ran into their mother’s arms while the smallest of the three, Aika, leapt into her father’s. The runt had white fur with black stripes, and along with her sisters, all three had orange eyes that matched their mother’s, “My precious children!” The elder jinko chuffed as she kissed both in her arms on the forehead as they both shrieked and giggled about all the play fighting they did, “Quiet down. You have friends arriving soon. Aika, are you sleeping again?” She giggled as she looked toward her husband where her white haired daughter was already napping, “Well, Calvin, bring her, would you?” “Yeah,” He grunted back as he adjusted the child in his grip. “Oh! I can see Kimiko!” Bridgett shouted excitedly and pointed as her father’s car approached the Hamilton manor. “She’s pretty hard to miss,” Theodore snickered as he spotted the tiger woman before she vanished behind the building, “Look, Maxine’s here to greet us,” He gestured to the front as he pulled his car around a small fountain that spewed water of ever changing colors. From blues and greens to hues of red and orange. The witch waved with her free hand, the other gripped her staff tightly, “Yoohoo! Greetings, friends!” Svetlana stood a little behind her and to the side. “Hello, Maxine and Svetlana!” Gwen called as she stepped from her vehicle, “You are looking a bit less ragged than usual. Did you dress up just for us?” She teased as she grabbed her still snoozing son from the backseat. “I have merely been saving my energy for the arrival of your little bundles of energy,” The witch shot back with a snicker, “Look at them. Just as wild as ever! Hello, Theodore. You look well.” “Thanks,” He had Samantha in one arm and Bridgett’s hand in the other, “Thanks for doing this, by the way.” “Of course. I have many others to rely on when I need a break, but you two deserve one as well.” Gwen sighed as she reluctantly handed Ross to the witch, “Just no funny business, please. We’ll come pick them up at ten.” “Funny business? Oh, Gwen! It wounds me that you would think I could harm such bundles of joy!” She chuckled. Kimiko appeared from the house, “Ah, Kimiko, wonderful timing,” She carefully gave the boy to the jinko. “Please keep a close eye on them,” Gwen muttered to Kimiko. “Aye. I will, Gwen,” She gave the sheep a little bow. Svetlana gladly carried Samantha who snored quietly, “She’s just so cute!” The kikimora giggled. “Come along, Bridgett. Your parents have a very relaxing day ahead of them,” The witch said as she waved her over. “Bye, dad! Bye, mom!” Bridgett waved to her parents as she stood by Maxine’s side. “Be good!” Gwen chuckled nervously as she anxiously got back into her husband’s car. She couldn’t take her eyes off of her precious children, she worried about them, she always did, but this was so intense a worry and her nerves so strongly rattle that she could hardly focus. The weresheep jumped as Theodore touched her arm, “Hey, you alright?” “Just worried about my babies…” “They’ll be fine, come on. We’ve got plans, remember? At least try to have a good day with me!” “Right…” Gwen sighed and leaned back in her seat as the car pulled away from the manor. “I was beginning to think she would never leave,” Kimiko murmured as she watched the car go. Maxine nodded and clenched her staff, “First thing is first, come along,” She gestured for the others to follow her. Bridgett giddily skipped down the elegant hallways as she followed the three adults, “Are the men keeping an eye on the children right now?” “Yes, Maxine,” Kimiko nodded, “Calvin has joined Richard in watching the children.” “My husband should be getting lunch prepared currently, I shall join him soon to help get everyones’ meal prepared by noon,” Svetlana declared with a smile. “What are we having?” Bridgett asked excitedly as she was led into a room full of toys for younger children. Blocks, cars, a few board games, dolls, and, of course, a large and overly expensive toy kitchen. The dragon’s brother and sister were sat down where they continued taking their nap. Maxine’s two children and Svetlana’s one sat with Richard as he read to them from a picture book. As usual, Kimiko’s two more rambunctious children were play-fighting with one another while their white haired sister demanded that their father play blocks with her. “Well, macaroni for you children, I believe. I believe you like yours with hot dogs in it, hm?” Svetlana mused. Bridgett’s eyes sparkled as she nodded in agreement. She knew that Svetlana made the best mac and cheese around and was very excited for lunch, “I shall return after I check up on my husband,” She gave a small curtsey to Maxine before leaving. “Everything seems to be in order here,” Maxine said to herself as she stepped in, picking up Ross and placing his still sleeping form next to her daughter, “Now then. Come along Bridgett, I have something special I require help with.” “Maxy,” Richard stood up and set the children around him aside, “Why do you need Bridgett for this?” “You need not worry as to why,” The witch brushed him off quickly and turned to leave. Kimiko blocked her escape, “Maxine. I am worried as well. I have been tasked with the young girl’s safe keeping. Explain what you have planned.” Maxine groaned, she didn’t have time for this. She simply snatched Bridgett’s hand and waved her staff above her head, easily teleporting herself and the young dragon to a room specifically made for magic. The young girl felt her head spin from the magic for a few moments as Maxine strutted to her work area and began preparing various magical ingredients. Prisoner fruit peels, a few jub jub feathers and a little purple bottle of what has been known in the mage community as ‘baphwater.’ Bridgett tilted her head as she picked up the discarded jar from a table behind Maxine, “Cheshies’ Bath Water? Do not drink?” She read aloud before staring wide eyed at the purple haired cat woman on the label. “Shoot, I forgot you could read proficiently,” Maxine muttered under her breath, “It's a magical reagent, Bridgett. Like mana salt or… dragon scales. Remember when I used some of your discarded scales?” “Yeah, you did that to protect Richard. But why do you BUY some cat lady’s bath water when you could just use your own? You’re a cat too and you’ve got magic! Is this Cheshie magic like you?” She pointed out, feeling rather smart. Maxine’s bright green cat eye twitched, “Puh-lease do not compare my most masterfully crafted magic to the wild, reckless abandon of a cheshire’s magic!” Her ears perked up as she heard footsteps approaching the door to her study. With the flick of her wrist the door was locked with a little click as the deadbolt rotated into place, “Now please sit on the couch while I prepare this magic spell,” The witch began to murmur her magic words as Bridgett plopped herself down on the couch to watch. The dragon watched with wide eyes as the competent magician threw a handful of mana infused salt into the stone bowl she was using. Her hand circled the top of the dish, slowly and magically mixing the ingredients together into a sort of paste. Maxine ignored the jiggling of the door handle as she continued her spell, although she did decide to forego a few words of safety just to speed up the process. “Maxine!” Kimiko called through the door, “I can hear you in there!” “Maxine? Should I let Kimiko in?” Bridgett asked. “No! No, I mean, she’ll spoil her surprise!” Maxine fibbed before going back to her spell. “Bridgett!? Unlock this door!” Kimiko hollered again. She knew better than to force the door open. “I, uh, can’t hear you!” Bridgett shouted back with a little giggle. The aetheric winds of Maxine’s magic made her clothes billow and her hair blow into her face. “Unbelievable,” The jinko growled to herself before reaching into her kimono and retrieving a simple set of lockpicks. As she quickly took hold of her emotions, she used a long and curved piece of metal to push up all the pins into place so she could rotate the lock with an angled piece of metal. She turned the handle and threw the door open. Maxine turned to her wide eyed, her form, as well as Bridgett’s were both illuminated by a large purple-red portal on the stone wall of the room, “Maxine!?” Kimiko growled as she stomped over to them. “Surprise!” Bridgett shouted. Maxine cleared her throat at the enraged jinko, “K-Kimiko, as your employer--” “I am enraged at you as your employee but more as an associate of Gwen and Theodore,” She scooped up the dragon and held her under her arm, “Looking to send this young girl through your damned portal to who knows where? You had better explain yourself. Now.” “Look, look,” Maxine glanced at the portal and then at Kimiko, “I need something that only Bridgett can get.” Kimiko’s scowl softened slightly, “Go on.” “It's in… Wonderland--” “Wonderland!? You refuse to go to that hellscape yourself! Why do you think you can just send this little dragon for you?” She hissed. Bridgett folded her arms and mimicked Kimiko’s cross look. “She is ten. At that age, she is immune to the madness of Wonderland. Its inhabitants will not bother her much, they will most likely even try to help her. I just need a few mushrooms that only grow there for something I’m making for Richard!” Maxine explained, “Bridgett can go in and find some nearby then come right back!” Kimiko set the dragon down, “What if she wanders off?” Maxine rolled her eyes, “Then we’ll use this,” She reached into the sleeve of her flowing robes and began to pull out a very long length of rope, “Secure one end around the child and another to something heavy.” “And you are quite sure this is safe?” “Of course! I have done much research on this, Kimiko,” Maxine assured her quickly, “Perfectly safe for her.” “Bridgett?” Kimiko looked down at the dragon, “Do you want to do this?” “Well…” Bridgett didn’t know anything about Wonderland. “I will give you whatever you wish, within reason,” Maxine offered quickly. Bridgett’s mind nearly burst at the possibilities of what she could ask the all powerful witch for, “Okay. I’ll do it,” She picked up the length of rope and held it up for Kimiko. The jinko nodded and tied it to her then the other end around her own waist. “Tug three times if you need help,” Kimiko nodded at her, “I will pull you back. Good luck.” “Alright,” Maxine used her magic to create an illusion of a golden colored mushroom, “This is what I need. I need a handful of small ones or just one big one. Can you do that?” “Yeah!” The dragon’s mind was still on the things she could wish for. She thought of her birth mother, but quickly pushed that from her mind. Maxine sure had a lot of money. Maybe she could buy Bridgett some food? She wondered if she should ask Gwen what she should ask for. The portal offered little resistance to Bridgett as she walked through it; the swirling purple and red vortex acted like a tunnel that she wandered down for an unknown length of time. When the portal spat her out with a loud FWOOMP! Bridgett found herself in a forest standing on a path that stretched out in two directions, north and south. Overhead, the purple and red canopy of the strange trees with dark brown bark offered some shade against the purple and orange twilight or dawn sky. Bushes of similarly colored foliage lined most of the path and dotted amongst them were smaller plants like orange weeds and a few mushrooms of various colors, “Gold mushrooms. Gold Mushrooms,” She reminded herself. This was going to be an easier job than pulling weeds with her dad! Bridgett scanned her gaze over numerous mushrooms. Each one that looked kind of golden was a lot more yellow upon closer examination. Besides, these were tiny, she needed something bigger and better to appease Maxine. As she searched, she heard a noise, like the bubbling of water on a hot stove. Curious, the young dragon pushed past the foliage and walked into the woods. There she spotted a massive mushroom, this one of a pink color. She frowned, knowing she had not yet found her prize. Sitting on top of the mushroom was a woman colored a light and pleasant shade of blue. The bubbling water came from some glass bottle with a tube that she would stick in her mouth and blow out an assortment of clouds of various shapes and an array of colors. Bridgett gathered all of her courage and approached, remembering everything about manners that her father and mother had taught her. Bridgett smelled something sickly sweet as she tiptoed closer and began to cough quietly as she accidentally breathed in some of the smoke from the woman’s bubbling tube. Upon closer inspection, the blue woman was actually some form of caterpillar girl like the green worm in her grade. She wore a blouse and a blue overcoat. Two figures sat at the base of the mushroom the worm lounged on, a man in green army fatigues and a snoozing pink colored harpy who was definitely not wearing enough clothes by Bridgett’s standards. The dragon girl wondered if she was impoverished and couldn’t afford clothes. She turned her attention back to the worm and cleared her throat, “E-excuse me?” She mumbled in the most polite tone she could muster. The worm put down her pipe and looked at the young girl that had so politely interrupted her, “Hm, a dragon?” She mused, “What can I do for you, dear?” She asked as she buttoned up her shirt to hide some of her cleavage. “I-I was wondering i-if you knew where I could find a gold mushroom. P-please. A big one! Like this big!” The dragon spread her arms out wide to emphasize the word big. “Hmm…” The wonderworm stroked her chin and idly took a puff of her pipe. “What about the duchess?” The man in green fatigues asked, “You’ve said that--” The worm shut up her husband by draping her long worm body off of the mushroom and covering up his face, “Yes. The duchess of the land,” The worm nodded, “She should have what you desire.” “How do I find this duch… duchess,” Bridgett didn’t like how this new word felt in her mouth. “It's simple. You walk down the path.” Bridgett nodded and turned to go, “Which way?” “Well, that way,” The wonder worm pointed in both directions by crossing her arms. “W-what?” The dragon tilted her head. “All roads here lead to the duchess's castle, well, except when they don’t! Just start walking and you will eventually find it.” “Thank you, uh, ma’am,” Bridgett forced a small and weak smile for the blue worm woman. “Hear my warning, child,” The wonder worm started to speak again, stopping Bridgett from leaving as she politely turned back to listen, “The road will be long and you will be tested by various Wonderland denizens. Keep your chin up through all of it and you will find your prize. Oh, and when you see the duchess, tell her that Pam says ‘hello’.” “Uh, okay,” Bridgett nodded, “Thanks, ma’am,” She smiled and left the clearing, easily making her way back to the path by following the length of rope tied around her waist. She stared at the portal for a few moments before picking a direction, the north, and wandering down it, skipping and humming as she went. All the trees looked the same to Bridgett. The path was some kind of compacted dirt that the claws on her feet easily dug into as she skipped. The canopy overhead had opened up and she could more easily see the sky. She loved the sunset but she wondered when night would come, or if it ever would. Or maybe it was morning? The dragon wondered. As she was lost in her thoughts, she nearly ran into a long bright yellow with black stripes... thing that blocked the path in front of her. Without another thought, she went to crawl under it to get past. “Hey!” A gruff voice shouted, making Bridgett jump back, “You can’t go UNDER the palisade!” Looking to her right, she noticed a bright yellow building which the palisade was attached to. “W-why not?” Bridgett asked, staring into the toll booth at the obfuscated individual inside. “Why!? Y-- Buh-- We--” The figure groaned before grabbing the window she hid behind, her large purple claws stretching the window larger so she could climb out as if the once wooden structure was now made of rubber, “Because them's the RULES!” The woman growled, standing to her full seven foot height. She put her claws on her hips, her purple scales and horns glimmering in the evening/morning light. Her torso was covered by a fancy, lilac, dress shirt with a black tie and a deep purple coat over it. Her legs down a little past the knees were covered in a black skirt and on her head sat a little bowler’s hat. She had a bright pink sash around her waist and over one shoulder that read ‘PORTAL MONITOR.’ Her tanned skin was blemishless, her messy magenta and plum hair was done up in a bun with her bangs covering most of her forehead and her glaring purple eyes were staring at Bridgett from behind a pair of glasses as she out stretched her small, leathery, purple wings. Bridgett recognized the woman’s species from a book she had gotten from Maxine about dragons last year; she knew this was a jabberwock, but the child was too nervous to bring it up, “C-can I go around it?” Bridgett timidly asked. “Wha-- No!” The large woman groaned, “You can’t go under or around!” “...Over it?” She gave Bridgett an exasperated look, “Look, kid--” The jabberwock paused for a second, “What’s your name kid? I gotta put that into my log book,” She explained as she pulled a cartoonishly large leather bound book from her back pocket. Even Bridgett was quick to notice that without ridiculously large cargo shorts, there was no way she could be carrying that book like that. The young dragon frowned, unable to see if she really WAS wearing cargo shorts underneath that frilly dress. The jabberwock cleared her throat, expecting an answer from the smaller, green dragon. She cleared her throat, “Uh, Bridgett. With two t’s. And no E at the end.” “That’s a cute name,” The jabberwock gave a little smile as she wrote it into her book with a pen. “Yeah, it means fire!” Bridgett blew fire out of her mouth, coughing as the smoke started to come up, “What’s yours?” She asked as she recovered, trying to be polite. “Mine?” She paused for a moment, “It's Susan.” “Susan, huh? Well, Susan, how do I get past this thing?” Susan put her book away, “If you wanna get past, the palisade has to be up. If you try to do anything else, I’ll stuff you in the prisoner fruit wiggler,” She gestured with a thumb to a big metal box at the back of her little toll booth. Bridgett shuddered with fear at the menacing metal box. She had no idea if she could fit in there, “I don’t wanna go in the wiggler,” She whined, doing her best to not cry in the presence of the intimidating metal box. The jabberwock felt a little bad about yelling at the little dragon girl, “Look, kid. Just stay on the path and you’ll be fine.” Bridgett wiped her face and nodded, “How do I get past by following the rules?” “Well, you--” The purple scaled wonderland dragon stopped, her face going completely blank as she looked at the palisade, “I-I don’t know… I-it didn’t open when I put your name in! I figured that would be the answer! I don’t know, Bridgett!” “You don’t!? Then why are you here!?” Bridgett demanded, her being the one shouting now. “Jabberwocks guard portals into Wonderland. But… No one ever makes it this far. Usually men wander into here and they get rap--” Susan turned to the young dragon and bit her tongue, “Get led on alternate paths by, uh, cheshires or captured by the trumpart, the Red Queen’s guard.” “But what about kids like me?” Bridgett asked as the jabberwock leaned on the palisade. “Well, due to a more recent decree, kids can do whatever they want, as long as they don’t get on the Red Queen’s nerves,” The big purple dragon leaned more heavily on the palisade. She examined her claws and glanced back and Bridgett, “You, uh, in school?” Bridgett nodded, unsure how to proceed on her quest, “That’s cool. Stay in school, alright? Don’t be like me,” She removed her hand from the palisade to throw both of her arms into the air, “I’m thirty two, husbandless, and I can hardly make rent!” She angrily slammed her hand back down on the yellow barrier, snapping it in two and sending the jabberwock to the dirt ground. “Look! The barrier’s gone! Thanks, lady!” Bridgett hurried past the jabberwock, skipping as she went. Susan sighed and propped her head up on her hand with a smile, “Good luck, kid.” Kimiko breathed deeply and gradually exhaled, pausing before she repeated the process. She sat on the floor with the other side of Bridgett’s rope tied around her waist. Her meditation kept her calm and occupied as she tried not to worry about the young dragon. Maxine sat on the couch, her face buried into a book as she tried to stay busy. Her tail flicked back and forth and her foot tapped with impatience as she waited for Bridgett’s return. She slammed the book shut as she finished it, “Where is she? She should have returned by now.” “Perhaps she is struggling to find what you wanted?” Kimiko offered as she tried to keep meditating. “Bridgett is smart. She should have finished by now…” Maxine’s worry was obvious. “Did you not say this would be perfectly safe? Why do you worry so?” Kimiko grunted, “I have made a mistake in trusting you.” “N-no you have not!” Maxine insisted, “Everything is fine! I am in control!” A knock on the door interrupted Kimiko before she could respond. The door opened and Svetlana poked her head in, “Hello~” She quickly glanced at her two friends then the portal, “Uh… Where is Bridgett?” “In the portal,” Maxine groaned, “What do you need, Svetlana?” The kikimora frowned but decided not to press it further. She collected herself, “Lunch is nearly prepared, can you… please recall Bridgett? Girls her age need to eat lunch every day.” “Yes, yes,” Maxine gestured at the jinko, “Bring her home, would you?” Kimiko nodded and stood, relief washing over her as she started to pull on the rope. She pulled and pulled, Bridgett only offered a tiny bit of resistance. It took a minute or two, but something was pulled through the portal with a FWUMP noise. All three women gasped as they gazed upon the mamano that had been yanked through the portal. A plump, pink harpy with no clothes on stood up and dusted herself off. She looked around the study at each of the women, “You’re not cute boys!” She whined. The rope was tied around her waist, “Cute boys are supposed to be ‘at the end of their rope!’ I can’t believe that--” With a snarl, Kimiko grabbed the jub jub. The jinko bared her fangs and claws at the pink harpy as she grabbed her neck, hardly keeping herself from choking her, “Where is she!?” She hissed. “Huh? Who?” The jub jub asked as she tilted her head. “Bridgett! The dragon!” “I don’t know anything about a dragon. But I know a jabberwock! She’s a nice lady!” Maxine scowled, “Hold her Kimiko,” The witch mumbled some magic words to herself and touched the still jabbering jub jub’s forehead. Green light came from Maxine’s eyes as she delved into the harpy’s memory. She only used the spell for a handful of moments before pulling away as if in pain, “Ah!” She shouted, grabbing her temples. “Maxine!?” Kimiko grabbed the jub jub and threw her back through the portal like a grocery store employee roughly handling a bag of potatoes, “Are you alright?” The jinko asked as she moved to attend to her ward. Svetlana quickly realised what was happening, “I’m getting Richard!” She ran off down the hall. “Svetlana!” Maxine cried as she slowly got over her acute Wonderland madness, “That rat!” “Sit and relax, Maxine,” Kimiko helped her onto the couch, “How can I find Bridgett?” “You will not be able to alone,” Maxine grunted, “And I dare not attempt to scry her through magic. The Red Queen would not be pleased with that. You and I will go in together and track her. She could not have gone far!” “I’m coming with you,” A man’s voice sent a shiver down Maxine’s spine. Her ears sadly flattened on the top of her head as she saw her husband giving her a cross look, “R-Richard…” “What happened?” He asked as he began to rifle through his bag. He nodded as he found his sword and pulled it from the bottomless bag. “I sent Bridgett into… Wonderland,” Maxine mewled, guilt ringing out in her voice, “I-it was supposed to be easy. A quick little trip. Children have diplomatic immunity there, so I thought she would be in and out. M-maybe a cheshire decided to lead her astray?” Richard nodded, the few tattoos of his that were visible under his polo glowed slightly with magical energies, “Richard, I can handle this. Trust me.” “I do trust you. Kimiko too. But I want to help. Those kids are driving me up the wall,” He admitted quietly, “Svetlana, give Calvin a hand, would you?” “Of course, sir,” The kikimora nodded and bowed before stepping down the hall. “Well?” The man looked expectantly at his wife. She nodded and finished preparing her things. Kimiko sighed, “I hope that girl is alright…” Bridgett very happily skipped down the path without a care in the world. The sky was still purple and orange, the trees were still weird and purple, but Bridgett didn’t really care. She had seen green, sometimes orange, trees her entire life and was glad to have a little change of scenery. As the dirt path underfoot turned to stone, she knew she must be going the right way. The young dragon quickly came to a stop as she looked down at the path. The path split into two identical looking, parallel paths. Without really looking around, she started skipping down the left path, not daring to leave the path even if the bright green grass was tempting her. She hummed to herself as she went. It was ‘Ventura Highway,’ one of the songs her father would play his guitar to. After a few minutes of traveling, Bridgett found herself at another fork. The second path had vanished and now she faced two parallel paths once more. She frowned, they looked suspiciously similar to the ones from before but this time she went right. She kept an eye on her surroundings this time. The forest had become more sparse, the grass of the forest and the vegetation was all more visible now as she saw that there were pairings of trees together with ample space between them before another pairing of trees would crop up. Pairs of mushrooms and bushes littered the sides of the paths. Bridgett frowned, unsure what to make of it, but soon enough she was back to staring down two identical paths. She stomped her foot and spewed smoke from her mouth in frustration. “My, my,” A giggling voice suddenly purred, “Doth the child finally give in to her anger?” It echoed and sounded like it was coming from all around her. “W-who's there?” Bridgett demanded, puffing out her chest to make herself look larger, fire building in her throat, ready to throw it at whoever was taunting her. “Stay thy flames, child,” The voice scolded, now sounding like it was right behind her. Bridgett turned with all the speed she could muster, terror making her blast the flames in her mouth toward the voice. All she hit was some shrubs to the side of the road, “Tsk, tsk. Thee would do well to listen to thy elders.” Bridgett turned again, not blasting fire this time. She was almost eye level with the woman that had been giggling at her. Bridgett was about five feet tall as was this woman. A cat girl with bright purple hair that messily fell on her shoulders stared at the dragon with grinning yellow eyes that matched her toothy grin. The cat girl wore dark purple slacks and a pink button up with a purple, heart covered tie. Like a lot of bestial monsters, her hands and feet were covered with fur, hers being violet with deep purple stripes along with a similarly colored tail that rose into the air behind her, “W-what do you want?” Bridgett asked meekly. “O, mine desires? None that thee would find comprehensible!” She laughed loudly, “Well, mine purpose is that of a wanderer. Wonderland changes its own shape quite often and mine task is to document.” “Okay…” Bridgett eyed her suspiciously, not trusting the strange aura that the woman exuded. “If thou cannot tell, thee hast been returned to thine starting point twice now. Can thou ascertain as to why?” Bridgett took a few minutes to think, she didn’t mind helping the strange purple cat lady, “Only one me and two paths?” “Almost!” The cat woman purred with delight, “Put thine eyes upon the scenery. What changes can thee ascertain?” “Two of everything?” “Precisely!” Her grin somehow widened further, “Thee hast a good head on thine shoulders, dragon! Now, we hast a new problem. I cannot pass alone and neither can thee.” “We have to go together?” Bridgett assumed. “Wonderfully deducted~!” The purple cat giggled, “Come, dear dragon. Our travel shall be short!” The woman looped her arm into Bridgett’s and pulled her along, taking the left path as she skipped along with Bridgett, “O! Look at the foliage! Does Wonderland not look beautiful this time of year?” “It is nice,” Bridgett murmured, her mind once again focused on her task. “Thy mind is sharp and focused. Good. Thee will need that to cross the rest of the land,” She let Bridgett go as the two paths split from one another, one to the left and one to the right, “Thy goal is to the left, Bridgett,” The woman explained as she skipped the gap between the paths and headed to the right. “H-how did you know!?” Brigdett asked. “As a cheshire, I am a guide, young dragon! It is mine job to know things!” She giggled like a lunatic as she disappeared, only her grin and yellow eyes staying behind for a few more moments before she ran off, laughing and giggling the whole way, “Good luck in the Familiar Forest, young Bridgett!” The far off, echoey voice called. Bridgett shuddered, but she trusted her guide. She had no reason not to, she decided as she began to take the left path and head deeper into the now much more dense woods, the rope still tied around her waist and dragging along the ground. FWOOMP! FWOOMP! FWOOMP! The three stepped into Wonderland, the portal closing behind them, “I shall reopen it when needed,” Maxine explained as she clutched her staff with a white knuckled grip, “We cannot allow the Wonderlanders to spill into our world.” “Aren’t there natural portals back and forth?” Richard wondered aloud with a shrug before he adjusted the sword on his hip. “Do not remind me,” Maxine hissed as she looked around. She squinted at the unnaturally colored foliage and shuddered. She imagined this was what hell was like, and the Wonderland denizens were the insane demons and devils which resided within. Her mind was still obfuscated from herself due to the pure, concentrated insanity she had seen when viewing the jub jub’s memories. She had caught a glimpse of Bridgett within the insane harpy’s mind so she believed they were at least on the right track. The path before them spread out to the left and right, the dirt ground in either direction looking exactly the same. Kimiko smelled the air but could smell little more than the sickly sweet scent of the strange haze around them. “Which way?” Richard asked, eager to get moving.
“South,” Maxine said.
“North,” The wondrous and most wise Maxine declared regally in a commanding tone.
Richard gave her a strange look, “How can you tell?”
Her wondrous and loving husband, Richard, nodded in agreement, knowing better than to argue against his most doting and caring wife. After all, a happy wife is a happy life! “As you say, Maxy!” He smiled a heartwarming smile that made Maxine’s heart pound just a little faster with happiness.
“Um,” Kimiko frowned. She sensed magic
most vile and wickedon Maxine. She swore that the witch was looking less black and more… purple, but it was only a tiny tinge of it. Richard put a hand over his mouth and rubbed his jaw. The memories in his head and what he had said didn’t seem to line up. His tongue felt strange as did his mind, “W-what? Did I say that?” He muttered to himself as a cold sweat formed across his body. A strange feeling had come to Maxine. A sort of… premonition. A view of the past, it seemed. A vision that consisted of words on a page that she knew to be true. One she did not call upon with her magic. It was an odd almost out of body experience unlike anything she had ever felt. To be honest, it was uncomfortable, but that was most likely just the remnants of the jub jub’s insanity in her mind, “Yes. North,” She restated with a modicum of confidence. “How do you know?” Kimiko asked with a frown and folded arms. “I-I saw it in a vision. The word ‘north.’” “That’s the best bet we have,” Richard sighed and shook his head as he shook the strange and almost sickening feeling from his mind, “Are you alright, Maxy?” “I am fine. Still reeling from attempting to view that damned pink demon’s mind,” She explained quickly before taking off in the direction she described. Kimiko and Richard followed without any protest, deciding that the witch’s magic and wisdom could be trusted. She was normally quite strange in both Kimiko and Richard’s eyes so her new weirdness was just a small quirk to them, “Strange,” Maxine muttered, “I see the sides of the path here are littered with the mushrooms I asked her to collect. Why did she wander?” “We’ll ask her when we find her,” Richard said, “I’m sure she had a good reason.” Kimiko eyed him then her employer as she kept walking down the path, hoping that nothing major would impede their progress. She slowed to a stop as the three rounded the bend and came across a building. A woman stood near the building, it was a toll booth with its palisade down and the purple colored woman was quickly identified, “Jabberwock,” Maxine whispered. “Should I be worried?” Kimiko asked with a hushed tone. Maxine shook her head, “They are merely gatekeepers. She is here because of my portal, but she should not be a problem. I will handle this. Ho! Gatekeeper!” Maxine called to the purple dragon. Susan finished duct taping her broken barrier back together just as another visitor arrived. Lo and behold, it wasn’t just one this time, but three. Two cats, non cheshires surprisingly, and a man. The smaller one clad in robes approached her, “Hello, travellers,” Susan replied as she grabbed her big book. She glanced at her now crooked, duct taped together palisade and frowned, hoping that it wouldn’t just break this time, “How can I help you?” Maxine opened her mouth to speak but Kimiko was faster, “Have you seen a dragon with green scales pass by here? About this tall?” The jinko asked as she put her hand at about five feet in height. “Who wants to know?” The jabberwock asked as she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Her temporary guardians. Please, we just want to know if she came this way,” Kimiko pleaded, “She’s a long way from home and must be terrified by now.” “Well, if you mean Bridgett, she seemed quite alright when she passed by,” Susan grumpily grumbled, her wings flapping slightly and her long tail flicking from side to side like an annoyed cat, “Quite happy even.” “Yes! We do mean her!” Maxine exclaimed, “May we pass your barrier, ma’am? We need to catch up to her and bring her home!” “Names?” The jabberwock asked as she opened up her large tome and readied her pen. “Maxine, Richard and Kimiko. Do you need last names?” “No, that will do,” Susan grunted as she finished putting their names in. “Can we pass now?” Richard inquired, getting a little antsy. The jabberwock took her time very neatly writing the date, the time and the threes’ names into her book. The date and time was pretty much random, Susan didn’t own a watch. Or a calendar. But she did own a colander for when she made macaroni and salads. She looked at them and then at the gate, “I don’t know how to open it.” “You’re the gatekeeper… and you don’t know how to open it?” The man gave her a skeptical look, “I’m just gonna go around it.” “I’ll throw you in the prisoner fruit wiggler if you do that,” Susan warned, “Stay on the path. Them’s the rules.” “Do NOT threaten my husband, you harlot!” Maxine hissed at her. “It was not a threat. It was a promise,” The jabberwock put her book away and folded her arms. Kimiko’s hand instinctively rested on the hilt of her sword, “How did Bridgett get past?” “Wouldn’t you like to know,” The territorial jabberwock was much too embarrassed to admit what had actually happened. She suddenly wished she was at home with her colander and making macaroni. Susan loved macaroni. “I do NOT have time for this,” Maxine declared before vaulting over the palisade. “HEY!” Susan shouted as she stopped thinking about macaroni and ran to the palisade, “Come back here!” “No!” Maxine stuck her tongue out at the jabberwock, “Richard! Kimiko! Come along!” Richard glanced at Susan. She looked like she was about to pop a blood vessel as she tried to figure out how to get past the palisade while not breaking the rules of the land, “Maxy, I don’t think you should have done that…” He warned quietly. “Oh, I pray you do not wish to scold me about rules like this plum colored dragon!” The witch groaned. Kimiko sighed, “You would be wise to listen to your better half.” Maxine rolled her eyes, “Fine. I can see that being lawful is more important to you than finding Bridgett. I will find some way to open this barrier for you.” “I don’t wanna be put in the fruit wiggler!” Richard protested, “Look at it!” He pointed to the imposing metal box in the little guard house. “Perhaps you should get past this barrier the same way Bridgett did?” Kimiko suggested to the flustered jabberwock, fully intending to follow her lead to get past it herself. She was unsure if she could take the jabberwock in a fight, but with Maxine’s help she might be able to, though she’d much rather avoid conflict if possible, “Surely she got past you by following the rules?” Susan grumbled and looked down, “Well, she did but I... uh, can’t. Well, I don't want to. I just gotta figure out how to get past this thing… in my own way.” Maxine felt the same feeling as when deciding which direction to go. A premonition in the back of her mind, along with a madness waiting in the wings to take hold of her psyche. In only a few moments, she decided to give in to it. She looked down at her robes and saw it turn a little more purple with strange designs starting to form. The latent insanity in a caster, especially a witch, was not wholly unfamiliar to her. But this… the insanity of Wonderland only compounded it. She tuned out her husband, body guard, and the jabberwock as she used her magic to bolster the strange premonitions she had been getting. A grin spread across her lips and a giggle emanated from her throat. She had gone totally mad. Butthere was power in this madness, a terrible and limitless power that she had yet to understand. She--
Maxine, as beautiful and regal as she was, did feel the need to lift a finger to aid these poor peasants before her. She struggled chose not to look into the words of the past like she had before. Instead, she chose to control the jabberwock with this new power. “Oh, gatekeeper,” Maxine called out, gloriously rolling her R’s as she spoke, “Perhaps you are able to just lift the palisade?”
“I doubt it,” Susan replied, “That’s not how these work.”
The dumb, smelly jabberwock, that the author had foolishly dubbed ‘Susan’ as he for some reason found giving Wonderlanders mundane names humorous, nodded at Maxine’s gorgeous form, “Duh, yeah, Maxine. I will use my big dumb dragon strength to lift the palisade. You sure are smart!”
Kimiko frowned and clutched her forehead, the sudden change of character from the jabberwock was jarring, to say the least. Something maddening was at work and all of her years of mental training were not enough to save her. But at least the jabberwock did manage to just lift the palisade without much difficulty, allowing her and Richard to pass through. Richard frowned, Maxine couldn’t roll her R’s like that. But, the path was clear so he and the jinko walked through. “Hey!” Susan realised as she snapped out of it. She took a few steps toward Maxine, ready to put her into the prisoner fruit wiggler and dish out her due punishment,
“For breaking the rules set by our duchess, I sentence you to five minutes in the wiggler!”
“Wow, Maxine!” The stupid jabberwock grinned ear to ear, “Thanks for helping me figure that out! I think I’ll take a nap now and cry myself to sleep about how alone I am!”
Jeez, that was a little harsh, Maxine.
It was your idea to write such an annoying character who dared to step into my path, Mr. Author!
It would be pretty boring if you were able to walk from point A to point B without so much as a challenge or interruption, Maxine. Think of the reader, and their enjoyment! How is someone supposed to get engaged if you’re just handed everything?
And? While I am honored someone would be so inclined to read about me, well, not really, they should be honored they have the privilege of reading about such a powerful and beautiful wizard! Putting obstructions into my path is quite rude of you.
I knew I should have made this a Bridgett only story… She would have been nice to me, at least.
Giving me these powers wasn’t your only mistake it seems!
ANYWAY! Where was I? Right. Susan slowly came to . She felt exhausted for some inexplicable reason and most definitely did not want to cry herself to sleep on account of being single. She looked around, still hellbent on putting that witch in the wiggler. Unfortunately the witch, the man and the jinko had all bolted off while the jabberwock was dazed. Susan clenched her fists and her teeth. She would catch that damn cat even if it was the last thing she ever did. She eyed the toll booth and climbed back in before grabbing the prisoner fruit wiggler. Bridgett stomped down the stone bricked path, swinging her arms as she went. The Familiar Forest was what that cat woman had told her this was, at least she thought that’s what she said. Bridgett frowned, it wasn’t like she didn’t like familiars, she just found their whole sabbath thing kind of weird. Bridgett wanted to grow up, being an adult sounded cool! She could drink wine like her parents and she’d go to work and have a cool job and maybe find a husband. Being a kid forever, or at least acting like one, would mean she couldn’t have any of those things. But some of those ninja sabbath that Kimiko and Calvin were friends with looked kinda old. Bridgett could never pronounce their leader’s name but she had wrinkles. Or at least Bridgett was sure she did. “Ohayō Gozaimasu, Bridgett-chan~!” A familiar voice greeted her accompanied by some cheery and quiet percussion. Bridgett was roused from her thoughts quickly. An old, lolibaba baphomet sat on a stump at the side of the path in a purple kimono with a sword on her hip. She had a xylophone on her lap and was gently tapping away at it. Although she looked strange, still Bridgett did recognize her as the leader of the ninja sabbath, “Nice to see you.” “Ah, yeah, nice to see you too,” Bridgett said as she looked her up and down. The grey haired baphomet’s horns looked strangely pink. “Headed to the duchess’s castle? Should be a fun time. Oh, could you--” The elder baphomet stopped as her xylophone started to ring, “Ah, I shouldn’t keep you here much longer. Move along now, young dragon,” She brought the xylophone to her ear, “Moshi moshi?” Bridgett moved on quickly as the older woman started to have a conversation with someone. That couldn’t have been the real person, could it? Maybe that had been the ‘familiar’ that the name of the forest referred to? But could they shapeshift? Bridgett didn’t know a whole lot about magic, but it seemed entirely possible, “What was it that Ruth likes to say? Dang magic isn’t worth the effort of learning or learning about?” Bridgett did her best imitation of the hellhound’s gruff tone. She flinched as she heard loud gears turning and the loud clanking of metal. Before her was a large metal set of stairs that led into the sky. One set rolled upwards, ready to carry whoever stepped onto it toward the canopy of the trees and the other cascaded downward at a slow and steady rate, “Oh! An es-cav-lator!” Bridgett declared with a smile, she could use this to go up like at the mall! But she had no idea where it would take her since she was in the woods. “Yo! Lil’ Bridg’!” A gruff voice shouted from behind her. Turning she saw a friendly face. A tall hellhound stomped over to her in large work boots, dark purple jeans, a black t-shirt, a bright purple safety vest with matching hard hat, along with a fully stocked tool belt, “Hey, hey! Good to see ya!” “Hi, Ruth!” Bridgett grinned at the hellhound. Ruth’s eyes burned a bright purple, which was definitely strange but so was this whole place, “What are you doing here?” “Oh, ya know. Operating the escavlator like usual. Here, I’ll ride it up with ya,” She grabbed a big metal crank from her belt and stuck it into the side of the ‘escavlator’ and cranked it, making it move at full speed before gesturing to the dragon to follow her. Both got on the stairs and started to ride them up. “What are you building?” “Ah, well, we’re building a natural reservitory for aviars,” The hellhound explained cheerfully. “Oh! A big bird filled house thing!” Bridgett repeated, “Aviars really need more homes. Once, I saw this huge werecat down the street catch like three harpies at once and rough them up!” “Yeah, I know who you’re talking about. Princess, I think. I’ve gotten into a friendly scrap or two with her,” Ruth chuckled as she leaned on the railing of the ‘escavlator.’ “So where are we going?” “Forward, lil’ Bridg.’ Always gotta be moving forward, ya know? Up and over the bad stuff.” “Bad stuff?” “Look, we wanna keep this story lighthearted, alright? We don’t need some emotional stuff in this story. Even if the story is named after you,” The hellhound grunted. The insane Wonderland meta magic went in one of Bridgett’s ears and right out the other one, “What?” She shook her head and decided to drop it, “Oh! Where’s Daisy? She’s always with you!” Ruth pointed to the down escalator. A familiar, well, somewhat familiar kobold wearing athletic wear jogged in place as she rode the ‘escavlator’ down. It was obviously Daisy, but the fur covering a lot of her body was a dark purple instead of a brown like usual. In her hand was a smaller xylophone which she held up to her ear and spoke into. She gave a small wave and kept riding it down, “See? There she is. Stop’s comin’ up,” Ruth warned. Looking around, Bridgett noticed they were suddenly underground in a brightly lit area with the ‘escavlator’ bringing them to the surface. Soon, Bridgett and Ruth were above ground and the dense ‘Familiar Forest’ left behind them. They stood on the very edge, “Thanks Ruth!” Bridgett gave the hellhound a big smile which disappeared as a thought crossed her mind, “Say, are you the… REAL Ruth?” The hellhound shrugged, the purple flames in her eyes burning brightly, “Who’s to say? Are you the REAL Bridgett? Maybe you’re just as mad as the duchess!” She giggled as she started to fade away, “Be careful, Bridgett! The duchess may not be what she seems!” “I will!” Bridgett waved, “Thanks, weird Ruth!” She watched as the entirety of the hellhound disappeared with her flames going last. “See ya around, Bridg!” Bridgett turned back, looking beyond the forest at the vast purple plains before her. Far off, obscuring the purplish orange sky was a large castle surrounded by a nice looking town and a few farms and orchards beyond it. The young dragon put her hands on her hips and nodded. That had to be the duchess’s castle. It had taken a lot longer than she had originally imagined, but she still had the rope around her waist so she had to still be doing fine. If Maxine wanted her to return, she would have pulled her back or come to collect her. She started skipping again as she headed down the stone path toward the town. Richard glanced at Maxine. She had turned a vivid purple at this point. Kimiko was looking… mostly normal but there was a crazed look in her eyes that he feared, the magical runes that dotted his covered skin must be protecting him, he figured. He had no idea how many he had or what exactly it was that they did due to Maxine crafting most of them in the dead of night without his knowledge. Even then she claimed to not really know what exactly they did, "So are we still going the right way?" He wondered aloud. Maxine nodded, still diligently trudging on as she wondered what these new powers meant for her, "The path has not split once. She is a good girl and I doubt she has left the path at all." Kimiko chortled to herself, "That may be the most sane statement you have made all day." "Sane? Me? I cannot say if I have ever been as sane as I am right now!" Maxine giggled, her green eyes glowing slightly at her bodyguard. "Surely you are making a jape," With a grimace, the jinko looked away from her employer. "I can wholeheartedly assure you that I am quite serious! In fact, I--" "Maxy, hush," Richard warned as he noticed the scenery changing around them. The path split into two identical paths with a thin line of grass between them. Every plant, stone, fruit and even blade of grass had a partner it sat close to, "Huh…" "Bridgett came this way," Kimiko declared as she pointed to a recently burnt bush, it was still smoking and smoldering due to the flames it had been bathed in, "Dragon fire obliterated this bush." "No sense in staying here then," Maxine decided as she picked the left path and started walking. Her husband and jinko servant both followed close. Kimiko wanted this nightmare to end. Maxine had been corrupted and she could feel herself careening toward the edge soon. The extensive training she had received back in Zipangu, in the old world, had not prepared her for this ordeal. Her only hope was that Maxine’s mad babbling would cease and Bridgett could be found before it was too late, “Is… That the same bush from before?” She gasped while looking around again. “It seems so,” With a nod, Maxine hastily examined the burnt bush, “Scorched by dragon fire, just like you said,” She also saw that before them the path split into two once more, “We have been sent back to the beginning, it seems.” The man groaned, “How do we get past?” Richard was already getting annoyed. “Should we take the right path?” Kimiko asked, eager to move on, “Perhaps going through twice will--” “No need. I shall look into the past and divine the path,” The witch declared as she grasped her staff, the crystal on the top turning pink as it started to glow. As terror overtook her, Kimiko put her hands over her ears to block out any of Maxine’s poisonous words. ‘Bridgett in Wonderland.’ Maxine read the story title to herself. The words came to mind and she quickly skimmed through. As she glanced through paragraph after paragraph, she found herself disapproving of how she was described. She considered going through and changing what the author had written to something
more to her tastes.
...To something much more eloquent and lovely for such an eloquent and lovely woman. She was a woman of culture, a paragon of what all monster girls or even all women in general should strive to be. But, she found the task of reworking numerous paragraphs of dialogue and description completely unworthy of her time as the reader had already gotten past it, her effort would be completely wasted. She had much better things to do with her time like correct and berate the Author she was dealing with. She wondered how she could get to him. It was impossible for her to pass into his world as for him, she was merely words on a page. Then a most wonderful idea came to her, she called out to the reader of this very story and asked them, very politely in a manner that they would be swooned just by her words and looks, that they may send him a ‘direct message’-- whatever that is-- to the author and tell him that--
Maxine’s monologue was cut short as a sudden burst of forbidden knowledge entered her thoughts. As she got past the disappointment of how she was written, she started to read the words on the metaphysical pages in her mind, “, hardly able to ignore the words that irked her so much. But she pressed on, reading word after word until she got to what she wanted. She began to read aloud to the others but mostly herself, “‘If thou cannot tell, thee hast been returned to thine starting point twice now. Can thou ascertain as to why?'” She read from around the midpoint of the story. Kimiko could hardly maintain her sanity as Maxine’s unholy magic was given life again. The words pierced her ears despite her hands blocking them. It was driven like daggers into her mind, each one bringing more pain and insanity as the witch mimicked both people in the dialogue to an unsettling degree. She continued reading from a few scraps of paper that had materialised in her hands, “Bridgett took a few minutes to think, she didn’t mind helping the strange purple cat lady, ‘Only one me and two paths?’ ‘Almost!’ The cat woman purred with delight, ‘Put thine eyes upon the scenery. What changes can thee ascertain?’ ‘Two of everything?’ ‘Precisely!’ Her grin blah blah blah they skipped merrily down one of the paths then took the left road at the fork.”
With her well manicured hands, Maxine flipped back to the beginning page and looked at the title again. ‘Bridgett in Wonderland.’ She scoffed at it and decided it needed to be changed. She couldn’t trust the author to pick a better title. She paused for a few moments, using her near limitless intellectual prowess, she chose a much better title. ‘Maxine’s Wondrous Adventure in a Most Peculiar Place.’ With a satisfied nod, and the flick of her wrist, the title of the story she was a part of changed. You may continue, I have improved your reader’s enjoyment of this story at least ten fold!
Yeah… Anyways. After she put the pages away in the depths of her cloak and looked at Kimiko who had curled up into a ball. Her once orange fur seemed like it was starting to turn purple starting with her hands and feet. Richard was reeling as well, his face was looking the most vile shade of green as the wards protecting him began to fail. With a sigh, she quickly chose between the two, “Richard, come on. We have a dragon to catch.” The man scowled at his wife, “And we’re just going to leave Kimiko here?” “We do not have a choice. Kimiko. I wish for you to remain here. We shall collect you on our return trip,” Maxine ordered. Kimiko, her body shuddering from chills, didn’t respond. Richard frowned, his face still mostly green, “Alright…” Using his enhanced strength, he moved the jinko to the side of the road, propping her up against a tree. He looked at Maxine who tapped her foot impatiently. He didn’t even feel like he recognized who she was anymore. This purple bastardization of his wife’s form was someone else entirely. He grit his teeth, right now finding Bridgett was his highest priority, he was worried about her. After that he’d need to figure out what to do with his wife, “I’ll come back for you, Kimiko. Just stay strong, alright?” He took off his jacket and put it over her shivering form, “Let’s go, Maxy.” Maxine felt strange as something was blocking her from using her new, strange magics. She pushed it from her mind and focused on the task at hand. She put her hand in his and pulled him down the left path, “Having fun?” She asked with a little smile. “I’m looking for my good friends’ daughter so they don’t get mad at my wife. So no. I’m not really having fun,” He admitted. He bit his tongue and stopped himself from commenting on how purple she was now. It was like Maxine had given in and completely become a cheshire cat where she was exemplifying all the worst traits of one. Maxine frowned, she wished her husband could be enjoying himself despite their task. But, she understood, or at least believed she did. Even she had to admit that some of her people skills had deteriorated somewhat. Before she knew it, the two had exited the area where they had to go with two people and were now headed into the dense Familiar Forest as they took the left path. Bridgett skipped merrily down the path. The sun or moon was out and the dawn or dusk sky was still the most beautiful shades of purple and orange. It was strange to the little dragon that it felt like time hadn't moved an inch since she had arrived. A pink colored stream ran parallel to the path with flowers of wildly different colors, sizes and shapes were planted along the sides of the path. There was a temptation to pick a few to take home to Gwen, but with all that talk of the rules, and especially the threat of being put in the prisoner fruit wiggler, she didn’t dare try. But she couldn’t stop herself from leaning down and smelling a particularly large and vibrant pink flower that stood tall above the others. It smelled strangely like the fruit snacks she would take to school in her lunches. “Hail, traveller,” A nearby voice called out to her. Due to being startled, as well as the pollen now clogging her nose, Bridgett sneezed violently, spraying flames on whoever it was that startled her. After one puff of flames, the young dragon stared at whoever it was that had snuck up on her. Large dark grey wings unfurled around two smaller forms as the wings turned to a lighter shade of grey. It was still close to asphalt in color but a lot less so. The large leathery wings folded behind the largest of the three creatures. The wings were like big arms with the leathery webbing attached and ended with large hands that only had three fingers plus a thumb. Each’s skin was a different shade of grey and each was of varying height. The tallest had long black hair that was pulled back into a simple ponytail and a single horn that was off center to the left. The medium sized one was a light almost marble like grey with silvery hair that fell onto her shoulders with two small, sharp horns. The smallest one had no wings but had large, curling horns and blonde hair with her muddy grey skin, “You scared the snot outta her!” The smallest scolded the tall one. Each girl wore matching armor with red hearts and diamonds painted onto the chest of each. They neglected to wear leg armor, instead opting for all black, shiny bike shorts. Not only because they were aerodynamic, but because all three thought they looked good in them. All of them gave toothy, apologetic smiles that showed off their wildly different fangs. Wings? Horns? Big sharp teeth? With wide eyes, the young dragon stared at the three. She was a little taller than the shortest one, but she couldn’t really tell what they were, “Dragons...?” Her hands covered her mouth after accidently saying that aloud. The middle one smirked, “Ah, not quite, young dragon.” The tallest piped up, “Perhaps an introduction is in order, dear sisters?” “Yes! I love this part!” The smallest one screeched. The three got in a line, the smallest right in front of Bridgett with the middle and tallest behind her in a single file row, smallest to largest. As if descending from the heavens; distorted, electric guitar filled butt rock began to play loudly. The smallest of the three struck a pose, both arms in the air like a ‘Y’ and standing on one leg, “I’m Gail!” The biggest put her arms straight up then bent her elbows at a 45 degree angle, making a sort of O as she showed off her muscles, “I am... Rachel!” The middle sized one stepped to the side and turned around, spreading her legs and leaning her torso down to see through her legs, “And I am the illustrious Caaaptaaain… Goyle!” All three shouted at once as the music crescendoed, “We are… the Goyle Force!” Bridgett clapped as pyrotechnics went off behind the three gargoyles. She didn’t really understand, but they were SO COOL, “Wow!” Bridgett finished clapping as the shredding guitar faded and the three Goyles stopped posing. “Make sense now?” Captain Goyle asked as all three stood in a row, hands on their hips, “We’re usually five strong, but we split up to search.” “Yeah, I think so!” Bridgett nodded. “Where are ya headed, little girl?” Rachel asked with a little frown. “I’m going to the duchess’s castle! I’m on a mission!” “So are we!” Captain Goyle exclaimed as she put her fist in her other hand. She did this with her wing hands as well, “Show her the picture, Gail.” She nodded and grabbed a wanted poster from her bag, “Have you seen this lady?” With the unfurling of the paper, Bridgett stared at it completely blank faced. It looked like Maxine but with purple hair and robes. She had a weird grin too, and Maxine was neither purple nor did she grin like that. The young dragon shook her head, “Nope!” Captain Goyle stomped her foot in defeat, “Drat. But the Goyle force will not be dissuaded!” They all quickly posed again, “We may have failed to locate all seven of the Jabberwock-Balls that we read about on CheshireChan, but we will not fail in our task of tracking down this rule breaking cheshire! But now we have a new task! Sisters! We will see this child safely to the duchess’s castle!” “Yes, Captain!” Gail and Rachel gave her a salute. “Really!? Thank you!” Bridgett grinned as the three sisters gestured for her to follow as they made a formation around her. “Of course! The duchess has been waiting for you, Bridgett!” The captain returned the smile as the four skipped down the path way together. Bridgett was excited now. She was to be a guest at the duchess’s castle! She hoped there would be food, maybe a buffet like in those movies! She was excited, this had already been a great adventure, but it was only getting better in her mind! Maxine and Richard stepped into the dense forest. Maxine had read more of the pages she had materialised and saw that this was called the Familiar Forest. She knew better than to expect familiars in the forest. If Bridgett’s trek through here was a good example, then this should be easy enough, all she had to do was NOT think about things she didn’t like, “Richard, dear,” Maxine turned to her husband. He glanced at her. He was still looking and feeling standoffish but Maxine was pretty much unable to pick up on that, “Please do not think of anyone foul. The last thing we need is for someone like… Oscar to show up and--” “M’lady Maxine!” A nasally voice shouted as a pudgy form ran toward the witch. It was Oscar. The bane of her existence. “RICHARD!” Maxine hissed as she stared daggers into her husband. “You mentioned foul people and he’s the first thing I thought of, sorry,” Her husband shrugged. Oscar stared right at Maxine, “Oh, m’lady Maxine! How I have yearned for your return! I had escaped from that maximum security prison just to see you again!” With a nervous shift, he continued, “A-as your humble suitor, I-I have but one r-request of you…” “Oh, Maou, give me strength,” The witch groaned. “I request that I be allowed to touch and perhaps even be blessed with the privilege to touch and maybe even kiss your wonderous feet.” Maxine was stunned, partially in disgust that this abomination of a man would dare speak to her like that, “WHY IS HE ASKING ABOUT MY FEET!?” She shouted to her husband who was unable to contain his laughter. “He looks like a foot guy! Just look at that awful mustache!” Richard wiped the tears of laughter out of his eyes, “Just be glad he isn’t asking to smell them.” “Oh, I would love that too!” Oscar announced loudly. Mortified, Maxine nearly fainted.
Fury formed in her mind and heart that was directed at her husband.
She did not blame her husband for this, no she once more blamed the author of this story for impeding her progress with such a wretched creature. She vowed to get back at him in some way. But for now, she had something else to deal with, “You know, dearest husband,” Maxine growled, “A lot of folks were quite disappointed that you did not slay Oscar at the end of the third act of ‘The Black Cat.’ You wanted to show you were better than him, but perhaps it would have been what he deserved after everything.”
Try as she might, Maxine found herself unable to control her husband’s actions or thoughts due to some of the protective runes that she herself had placed upon his body. It was strange that it had worked earlier but it was like the rules had changed or some of the runes had reactivated. But, lucky for her this author she had begun to hate so much had a bit of regret about that as well so he decided to play along.
A pain was felt in Richard’s chest, the spot where he had been stabbed all those years ago still burnt and in himself he too felt a little regret, “Yeah, maybe I should have,” He grunted to himself as he drew the same sword he had used to defeat Oscar all those years ago, “Not as good as the real thing, but I’ll still cut you down, foot lover!” “YOU!” Oscar shouted with an outstretched, accusatory, and pudgy finger, “I will not allow you to get in the way of my totally legit wedding this time! Have at you!” Oscar was as quick as he had been before but Richard had been training. The fat man’s rapier was easily knocked away before Richard went in for the kill. Due to it being little more than an illusion, his sword cut right through him, giving him little satisfaction as he faded away, “There. Can we move on now?” “Of course, my love. This way,” Maxine gestured to him before starting down the path again. Although he felt a little better now, Richard was still wary of what Maxine had become. He started to wonder what his wife’s mother would think of what she had become. As soon as the image of Lady Hamilton came to mind--
NO! NO, NO, NO! We are NOT bringing my mother into this! I will not suffer humiliation again at the hands of this forest!
Maxine’s mother gave her a cross look--
LALALA the reader can’t read what you’re writing if they are reading what I am writing! We are moving on! Maxine and Richard exited the forest after having a very uneventful walk. Both felt relief as they went from dense woods to the sprawling country side. Way off in the distance they spotted the duchess’s castle. The lovely and powerful witch known as Maxine nodded as she glanced at the surrounding farms and hamlet, “That is where Bridgett is,” She explained, “We must be moving, wonderful husband of mine.” END SCENE. MOVE ON.
Bitterness and resentment exuded from Susan’s heart. The witch had gotten away along with her two companions. She felt no anger towards the jinko or man, but that damned cat needed to go in the wiggler for a few minutes. Her claws stomped across the stone surface of the path until she came to a familiar sight, two parallel paths right next to one another. A groan escaped her mouth, she didn’t have that cheshire to help her this time, but she still needed to figure out a way past. “How did those three get through…?” The jabberwock asked herself quietly. “Maxine and her husband simply walked through,” A voice with an exotic accent grunted. The large jinko woman revealed herself from within a group of trees that were almost on the path, “I am stranded here, unfortunately. I tried both paths alone and got nowhere.” “Well, this path needs two people in a group to let them pass,” Susan explained as if Kimiko was just a baby in need of guidance, “Them’s the rules.” With a scowl, the jinko crossed her arms, “Yes, but why?” With a shake of her head, the jabberwock sighed, “That’s just how it is here. Now, if you don’t mind, I need a partner to help me get through this path.” Kimiko sighed back but nodded in agreement, “Aye. I need to catch up to Maxine. Shall we be off?” Susan gave her a little, almost delighted smile, “Yes. This way,” She started down the right path. “But Maxine and Richard went to the left…” “Are you CRAZY? Do you want to go through the Familiar Forest?” “Is it particularly dangerous?” Kimiko asked as she followed the well travelled jabberwock. “No. Not at all, really. It's all just illusions,” Susan explained. She finally gave the jinko a look. Her once orange and black striped fur was now looking purple. On her eyepatch was a bright yellow eye that kind of looked drawn on. The hair on her head retained its usual brown color. Susan had seen this once or twice, visitors going mad and turning into various wonderlanders, but the jinko seemed to be handling it well enough so she decided not to bring it up. Said jinko rubbed her chin with a big purple paw before staring down at it in disgust. She knew she was changing but through rigorous meditation she had managed to stave off most of the madness for now. Kimiko’s mind wandered back to the forest that the jabberwock was so distrustful of, “If it is harmless, why can we not go that way?” “It takes things, people mostly, from your memories and manifests them how you see them. If you see your husband, assuming you have one, as a big tough guy, even if he really isn’t one he’ll look like one,” Susan explained, slowly warming up to her new travel partner, “The problem is if it gets to one of your traumas.” Kimiko immediately prayed that Bridgett hadn’t seen her deceased mother. She couldn’t fathom what kind of magic related madness Maxine could have summoned for herself. What about Richard? He had been slain at the hands of Maxine’s suitor and brought back to life, would that manifest in horrid trauma? She shuddered, “I think I understand your point.” “Still wanna walk through it?” “N-no. Can we bypass it?” “Of course. There’s a second path that’ll lead us into town that doesn’t go through there. That’s how I got here even if that damned cheshire wanted to take the Familiar Forest path. I’m not about to endure that,” Susan scowled as she thought of that adventurous cheshire, “How do you know this Maxine woman?” “I was hired by her mother as a sort of bodyguard. I was hired on the spot after saving Lady Hamilton from an attempted assassination at a public event I had been hired to do security at. The attackers were human supremacists from some tiny far off country. I do not remember the exact reason why it happened but the ten of them were no match at all for me and my trusty sword,” Kimiko smiled as she reminisced, “Ah, my glory days. Now I’m a mother and well… It feels as if Maxine no longer sees me as a friend but as nothing more than a tool or common servant. She has always been selfish and eccentric, but I always thought of her as a person trying to be good.” “Sounds rough,” Susan gave a little apologetic smile. “It is not all bad. My days are quiet and I’ve had more chances to sneak off and check on my husband. He helps tend to the grounds and watches our precious children.” “That’s something, I guess,” The jabberwock frowned, her lust for a man of her own flared to an almost painful degree.” “I must say… I never caught your name,” Kimiko admitted. “Susan.” “Yes, Susan. You are much more… sane than I imagined the denizens of Wonderland to be,” Kimiko felt more at ease than she had in Maxine’s presence. Susan smirked, “You won’t get this from most, so don’t expect it.” “Are those the rules too?” Kimiko playfully jabbed. “Eh, well… maybe,” Susan shrugged sheepishly, “Hey, we’re out of the duo path bull crap. This way,” She started down the right with Kimiko taking a few moments to curiously stare into the Familiar Forest before hurrying to catch up with Susan. The Wonderland town was surprisingly normal to Bridgett. It was a little more like something out of one of her dad’s old fantasy books, movies, or games, but it was still relatively normal. A few wonderland denizens were out and about doing chores like sweeping, collecting water, and there was even a cheshire out helping a man install a satellite dish on her house. Bridgett assumed that was for a TV. Despite the houses looking like they’re from the middle ages, she saw a few modern amenities like light bulbs and telephones which contrasted the water wheels and an entire black smithing set up. She saw a very peculiar sight, a small, but very modern looking hospital just sitting in an otherwise ancient looking town, “Are the doctors in this town nice?” Bridgett asked, just trying to make conversation with the Goyle Force. Captain Goyle adjusted her armor, “Well…” “They’re nice, but for some reason the only Wonderland monsters that bother to get a doctorate are cheshires,” Gail explained with a grimace, “If you get a human male, it's fine but…” Rachell nodded and picked up the explanation, “I went in last week for a check up and the cheshire doctor came back with the results and she told me that I had ligma. Whatever the hell that is.” “I got deez,” Captain Goyle groaned. “Ma for me,” Gail sighed, “I think she brought up someone named Mike too.” “Those all sound kinda serious. How bad was it?” Bridgett wondered. The Captain looked the dragon up and down, “How old are you, Bridgett?” “I’m almost ten!” She cheerfully said, very excited for her age to be double digits. “You’re nine!?” Gail gasped. She was nearly shorter than Bridgett, “When did they start making kids so damn-- darn big!?” “She’s a dragon, Gail,” Rachell reminded her, “They get big like jabberwocks.” “But what’s ligma? And ma? Who is Mike?” Bridgett started to impatiently ask. “Ask your parents,” Captain Goyle ordered curtly. “But--” “Oh, look! We’re here!” Captain Goyle interrupted as the little group arrived at the gates of the duchess’s castle. Bridgett hadn’t even noticed that they had gotten onto a drawbridge. The Captain nodded to the two funny looking card ladies that flanked the large gate that led to the castle’s inner courtyard. The trumparts stepped aside as the gate raised up. The young dragon rushed ahead and she started to look around at the sprawling private garden. Past the lush plant life was the main castle, it was honestly quite small compared to the tall yellow colored stone walls that surrounded it. The main castle was yellow and had two large purple banners with wheels of yellow cheese on them. The plant life was somewhat normal, recognizable trees with large purple leaves. Bridgett got closer to examine them and saw the ‘fruit’ on them, “Cheese?” The young dragon gasped as she picked a whole cheese wheel out of a bush. “Aye, the duchess loves her cheese,” Captain Goyle smiles, “Don’t dawdle, Bridgett. She’s expecting you.” “Uh, right,” She put the small cheese wheel back the best she could before following the three gargoyles. She spotted her quarry soon after, a cluster of massive golden mushrooms sat together in a disused corner of the garden. She nearly ran over and grabbed one, but she was raised to ask permission before taking things, even if the person who had it didn’t seem to care about whatever it was she wanted. The four stepped through a set of massive oaken double doors and into a main hall. Even inside there was more imagery of cheese. Instead of busts of heads, portraits of important people and random other decorations, all of the sculptures were cheese shaped or paintings of cheese, “Which way was it?” Gail wondered aloud. Rachel bonked her on the head, “Would it kill you to put something other than 80’s TV reruns in that big dumb head of yours?” “Nope! I never will!” She poised to retaliate against the larger ‘goyle. “Can it, both of you,” The Captain ordered, “Over here,” She led the other three through another set of smaller oak doors on the far side of the foyer beneath a dual set of stairs that led to a second floor. The next room was a giant dining room with a long table. About 24 people could sit at it and at the far end was a small woman with two large round ears on the top of her head. She wore grey pajamas with yellow and red cheese wheels printed across the cloth. “Oh! A mouse!” Bridgett exclaimed as she gazed upon the empty, dark brown, and glossy table then back to the duchess. “Ho! Duchess!” Captain Goyle called with a raised hand in gesture, “We have brought the dragon you were expecting!” The duchess, who Bridgett saw was asleep, said nothing as she snored softly. The Goyle Force and the young dragon stood around waiting for something to happen. With a lot of drowsiness in her voice, the duchess mumbled something, “...cheese…” “So be it,” The captain nodded in agreement as Bridgett gave both a bewildered look, “It seems you are to be the guest of honor in the duchess’s feast today. You are lucky, I wish me and my Force could join you both but we have much to attend to. Jabberwock-balls and cheshires to catch. Good day.” “Bye...” Bridgett called before slowly taking a seat to the right of the duchess. Soon enough, trays stacked high with food were brought out by chefs and servants as other guests began to arrive. Posh looking Wonderland denizens sat around talking politics, banking, and golf with one another. The excited grin fell off Bridgett’s face and turned to a modestly happy smile as she realised she hated the conversations going on around her, “At least I have food. Should be better meat than that dad makes,” She joked to herself. She was sorely disappointed as each tray was revealed to be carrying nothing but cheese. Her stomach rumbled, she was hungry and fancy cheeses weren’t any good to her. Bridgett looked down at the rope tied around her waist and gave it a tug. She found there was no resistance. Hope drained from her soul as she pulled the entire length of rope to herself. She slouched in her seat and glanced at the duchess. The dormouse was still sleeping and every so often she would mumble something, “...four…” “I agree, lady duchess,” One party member nodded. It was a mad hatter, “I too yell that during golf.” “Such a silly thing,” The man next to her agreed. Bridgett had no idea how to leave politely or how to even make it home if she could get out. With a sigh, she grabbed some cheddar and had a few bites along with some ridiculously dry crackers. She wanted to go home. Maxine pulled Richard through the sprawling fields along the stone path. The yellow colored castle and village in the distance were getting closer and closer. The two walked side by side next to an orchard that produced fruits of various and wildly varying colors. Maxine examined their shiny surfaces but didn’t dare eat any of them. She knew better than to eat anything from this land without being offered it by a denizen, that was one of the rules, after all. She looked to her husband who quickly looked away with folded arms. Maxine had no idea what his issue was. Suddenly, two creatures descended from the sky, flying fast as they had found their quarry, the two beings kicked up dust and dirt as they crashed into the path, ready to apprehend the criminal they sought. “Witch! You are wanted by the duchess’s court! Do not resist, you are no match for the two strongest members of the Goyle Force!”
The two gargoyles looked around. The woman they thought they had spotted from the air was nowhere to be seen. Neither was the man that had been with her. The most beautiful and powerful witch in Wonderland: Maxine held one hand over her husband’s mouth to keep him quiet as her invisibility spell would end if either of them made a sound.
The two gargoyles, Justine (AKA: Juice) and Burmy scratched their heads, “I thought I saw them!” The taller of the two, Burmy cried. She was bigger but had only two little horns on the top of her head with short curly black hair and dark grey asphalt colored skin. The other gargoyle, Justine shook her head, “I knew I shouldn’t have let YOU use the scanner!” Justine growled angrily, her long white hair flowing down her back with three horns jutting from the crown of her head. Her skin was more of a reddish clay color, “Gimmie, that!” She snatched the small device from the taller one’s face and put it on her own. She used it to try and detect the
power levelmana of anyone around.
Unfortunately for the two members of the Dunce Force, the scanner was now out of batteries due to the larger and incompetent one leaving it on overnight and not plugging it in, “Dammit!” Justine spiked it into the ground out of anger, “I’m going to the Captain and I’m telling her how incompetent you are!”
“W-what!? You bitch! Not if I get there first! You forgot YOUR scanner at the Goyle Force base!” Burmy shouted back before taking off into the air. Justine went after her, determined to find the Captain first. The witch released her husband and stopped focusing on the invisibility spell. She stopped holding her breath and wiped her brow of sweat. Her husband stood up straight and folded his arms at her, “How the hell did you know those two were coming?” Richard demanded.
“I read ahead,” The wondrous Maxine replied as she showed her husband the papers titled, ‘Maxine’s Wondrous Adventure in a Most Peculiar Place,’ “I just saved our skin, my dear.”
Richard frowned, “I guess I should thank you. You know, it's kinda weird to see gargoyles here. They’re rare in the first place but to see two of em…”
“Well, due to this author’s head cannon, gargoyles are natural Wonderland denizens so I am sure we would see more if we were to look. I believe the author got it from another author he is friends with.”
“...What are you talking about? Author? Head Cannon? Maxine, this is real life, not a… a… a story written by some guy with too much free time!” Richard shouted, finally hitting his limit with her.
“But that is just it, it is! I have seen beyond the veil, into the magic that makes up the universe and I have seen this author!” Maxine reached into her robes and grabbed her phone, “Look! I even pulled up his website! You know, for someone calling themself ‘Medusa’ he sure seems to like gremlins a lot. I mean, look at these images on his site!”
Apprehensively, Richard took the phone from her and scrolled through the site on a page called ‘Art I’ve Commissioned’ a bit, “Well… There’s you, Gwen, Bridgett, and Ruth. Wow, he likes this gremlin a lot. Oh, Kimiko’s in here too,” He felt ill again. He looked at the purple witch in front of him.
“I’m not sure what this means for us, I’m still struggling to wrap my head around all of this. Is he real or are we real? Perhaps both? Here, we should go so I may return to my study. I need to focus on this!”
“And just leave those two here!?” Richard was shocked. Maxine opened her mouth to speak again, “I don’t even know who you are anymore! You never would have just left Kimiko behind if you were the REAL you! I look at you and I can’t even recognize you anymore! You’re not the woman I fell in love with anymore,” Maxine felt physical pain as her heart shattered into a billion pieces and her once loving husband pushed past her and started down the path again toward the castle, “I’m gonna find Bridgett myself and go get Kimiko. Do whatever you want.”
Maxine… now less wondrous and now more… depressed and aimless. She fell to her knees and dropped her precious staff and let the pages she clinged to be carried away by the wind. The insanity finally left her mind, all that remained of it was the purple in her hair and robes. What had happened to her? It only took a few moments before she finally realised it but did not want to admit it. Her flaws had become all she was. She knew what she wanted and was competent enough to get it, but the selfishness and self centeredness she had within her had become all that she was, like an all consuming fire she had let the good parts of herself die and let this maddened cheshire form take hold. She knew she could do better, her husband and friends knew she could do better and even the author and you, the reader, knew she could do better. What was she to do, she wondered… What am I to do, Mr. Author? Assuming you are still here and I did not run you off like I did my own husband.
Well, you need to give up these powers somehow. Extract them from your body and return to semi normalcy. And give me back my control over this story.
Normal… I understand. Wrenching this portion of me from myself will require vast amounts of mana. I will need my husband. But how can I expect him to aid me when I have been nothing but horrible towards those around me?
Just go apologize to him!
I know not if I have the strength to do so.
With a sigh, the Author took hold of the story. Maxine rose to her feet and grabbed her staff, disregarding the pages of the story she had been editing with green text and hurried to catch up to her husband, “Richard!” She shouted as she ran to catch him. “What is it?” He grumbled as he turned back to the witch. Neither said anything as she panted to catch her breath. Richard stared into her face and saw the fear and guilt in her eyes along the tears running down her face that she couldn’t hold back, “Maxy?” “Richard, I need you. I’m so sorry!” The witch wailed as she dropped her staff to the ground. The man sighed as the witch cried before him, her pride usually kept her from having emotional outbursts like this, especially in public. He gently hugged the witch and let her cry on his shoulder, “Maxy…” He stroked her now purple hair, slowly calming her down like usual, “What am I gonna do with you?” Maxine sniffled and wiped her eyes, “I do not expect you to forgive me, but I must ask for your aid.” “Go on.” “I must separate this madness from my mind, I cannot do it alone. I understand if you do not love THIS me, but I want to be the old me again, the version of me that is not… whatever I am now!” Richard frowned, “But what can we do? What do you need from me?” He picked up her staff and put it in her hands. “I-I need you to trust me,” The witch meekly asked, “A-and I need mana. Enough mana to cast something on the fly to remove this from me.” “Mana? Alright. I’ve done this one before. Where should--” Maxine grabbed his arm and yanked him off the path and into the dense orchard, “Remember the night of our wedding?” “Of course I remember our first time. But…” Maxine pulled Richard to her and kissed him on the lips, “I want to have a moment of passion just like that with you,” Maxine pressed herself against a tree in a secluded area and pulled up her robes to reveal her now purple heart print panties, “I am hot and eager for you, my dear,” She licked her lips at him. Richard kissed her back before grabbing her hips and hoisting her up and pinning her against the tree, the two of them rubbing their loins against one another, “Do you really feel like we were never passionate again? I know I’m really busy working for your mom, but…” The witch wrapped her legs around him and put one arm around his shoulders, the other hand gripping her staff, “Do not fret about it,” With the wave of her staff, her panties and her husband's underwear and pants were both teleported off of them, their privates rubbing up against one another, their bodies shuddering from the sudden sensation of pleasure. The two rubbed against one another, panting and gasping as their privates grinded against their spouse’s. The witch was already horny, her clean shaven pussy was already glistening with her love juices. Richard was quickly erect, even if he was upset with her he still found her to be a beautiful woman with a wonderful body. It was hard for him to stay mad when she was teasing him between her legs. He might have been disappointed in himself for giving in so easily if it didn't feel so good with foreplay alone. With another wave of Maxine’s staff, her husband’s member pierced her. She moaned loudly, “Ah, darling~!” She cried as she took her husband’s manhood. Richard grunted as he started to thrust, pushing deeper and deeper into his wife with each thrust. He took what frustration he had left towards her out between her legs as he slammed his hips against hers. As she took her husband’s dick to the hilt, Maxine cried out loudly in pleasure and her legs tightly wrapped around her husband’s waist. As a firm smack hit her rear, Maxine began to whimper as her husband’s thrusting got more vigorous and rough. The witch knew the time was nearing, mana was starting to fill her body. She needed to be ready to use the over flow of mana from her husband’s spirit energy. She started to concentrate and use her hands to cast but she lost it as her husband started to kiss her neck passionately, “R-Richaaaaard!” She cried out as she suddenly orgasmed, her body convulsing while she shouted loudly into her husband’s ear. Her hat fell off her head as her eyes rolled up, her concentration fully broken by her husband's ravaging of her body and mind. With a grin, Richard slowed down and gave her a chance to calm herself and regain her senses, “Good girl,” He cooed into her ear as he stroked her hair. Maxine started to cast again, “Cum in me, Richard. Give me your energy,” She panted and started to chant her magical words. Her husband gave her a nod and started to thrust again, his manhood continually going down to the hilt with loud, wet and lewd plapping noises echoing around the orchard. Pressure started to build in Richard’s loins, and though he wanted to continue he found himself wanting to fill his wife with his love more. He could feel the love juices from Maxine’s pussy start to run down his thighs, some of it even sprinkling his belly. Even with Maxine chanting her magical mumbo jumbo in his ear, he knew he couldn't hold on any longer, he was going to erupt soon. His penis throbbed as he orgasmed, cumming inside the witch and giving her the spirit energy and in turn the mana she desired. Maxine’s body rumbled as she used her magic; the spell drained her mana, spending it as soon as she got it as she began to remove the madness from her mind and spirit. As her husband continued cumming inside of her, the madness manifested as a sort of purple mist around them. With the last of her energy, the last of her husband’s baby batter, and the last of her madness leaving her body, something was--
I was formed.
Maxine and Richard collapsed to the ground, smiling at one another as they spent a few moments laying in their shared after sex warmth. The witch giggled, feeling quite warm and cozy as she gave a contented sigh, “Wonderful,” She mumbled to her husband before kissing him on the cheek. She glanced to the side to catch her breath only for a moment and her heart stopped. She saw the visage of a woman standing nearby, a woman with short, messy, purple hair and a devilish grin on her face, a purple tail flicking back and forth contemplation and amusement. A cheshire. A cheshire that was naked and had her face. Richard looked where she was looking with such a strange, almost fear filled look. He saw something, if only for a moment, but it was a figure that looked like Maxine. As soon as he had processed what was before him, the purple cheshire version of his wife vanished, “M-Maxy? W-what…?” “We shall not speak of it. The evils of this land are not to be trifled with. I am such a fool for causing all of this,” The witch groaned as she put her hat and panties back on. She looked down at her robes and saw that they were once again completely black, “How do I look?” “Like yourself,” Richard smiled before lifting up her hat to kiss her on the forehead, “I’m glad to have you back,” He suddenly gave her a stern look, “But after everything you put me, Bridgett, and Kimiko through, you’re in so much trouble when we get home.” The witch sighed, “I accept that. I will take my punishment in stride,” She used the last of her mana to clean up both herself and her husband with the wave of her staff. She took him by the hand again and led him back to the path, “We need to find Bridgett and I have a feeling she’s over at the castle. We just need to sneak over, and--” She had only taken a few steps back onto the path before she was cut off and the ground shook violently, “Aw, shoot,” Richard scowled at the five gargoyles that had landed in front of them. They all made poses that Maxine considered foolish, even by Wonderland’s standards, as butt rock screeched out from the heavens. “Rachel!” “Burmy!” “Justine!” “Gail!” “Captaaaaain… Goyle!” The light of the world went out black as pitch, like someone had flipped the switch of Wonderland’s sun off. All five shouted in unison, “We are, the Goyle Force!” Pyrotechnics went off behind them, lighting them up with colored smoke behind their poses, afterwhich light returned to the world. “Do something,” Richard begged Maxine in a hushed voice. She shook her head, “Whatever was that purple cat, she took what little mana I had left.” “You! Witch!” Captain Goyle pointed dramatically at Maxine, “By the decree of the royal duchess, you are under arrest!” “Yeah!” “Yeah, rulebreaker!” “Come quietly or be destroyed!” Maxine put her hands up, “Fine. She lives in that castle right?” “Of course!” “Bridgett might be there,” Richard said quietly to himself while putting his hands up, “We’ll go quietly, Goyle Force. Just don’t hurt my wife, please.” “Wise choice. Come on.” The Goyle Force formed around the two captives and started to skip down the path. Maxine and Richard gave them confused looks, “You have to skip!” Captain Goyle ordered, “It's faster!” “That’s the rules!” “Ugh, fine. I will skip if I HAVE to!” The witch hissed, starting to skip along with the five gargoyles. Richard followed suit. He couldn't really sense a difference in speed, but the castle did seem to get a lot closer. Soon, the group of seven was skipping through the town and then up to the castle. Once more, the trumparts opened up the gate and let the Goyle Force in. Maxine took a quick glance around the garden, her mana was slowly regenerating and she needed to figure out an escape route. She wasn’t sure if she’d have enough to make a portal home, she would probably have to get mana from her husband again for that. The only exit seemed to be the gate they came in. Her husband was a good swordsman, but there was no way he could fight all five of the ‘Dunce Force.’ Next they were brought into the main castle and into the large, grand dining room. “Wow, she REALLY likes cheese, huh?” Richard snarked as they’re brought before the sleeping duchess. “Oh! Hi, Maxine! Hi, Richard!” Bridgett called from where she sat, relieved to finally see a way home, “You met the Goyle Force too!? They’re SO COOL!” “Bridgett is acquaintances with the two rule breakers?” Captain Goyle frowned, “Duchess, what should we do with the two rule breakers?” The dormouse snoozed still, “Mph… guillotine…” “Guillotine? Off with their heads? As you wish, duchess. The red queen would be proud. And what of Bridgett?” “...cheese… guillotine…” “As you wish. She will be put to the cheese themed guillotine.” “What!? Do children not have protection anymore in this mad land!?” Maxine shouted as two of the goyles grabbed her. Two more grabbed Richard while the Captain grabbed Bridgett’s shoulder. She looked pale and scared, but Captain Goyle could only give her an apologetic smile. “We… have to do as the duchess commands,” The Captain Mumbled to the witch, “Bring them to the courtyard.” Kimiko and Susan stepped into the town surrounding the duchess’s castle, “Now what?” Kimiko asked as she looked around at all the Wonderland denizens. Her hair had turned purple finally. She struggled to keep herself somewhat sane, though even with her extensive training her mind was no match for the maddening powers of Wonderland. The town was abuzz with excitement as if there was something in the air or an event to look forward to. “Find the witch, right?” Susan grunted as she too looked around town, “Maybe the duchess would know where they are.” “Where would we find her?” Susan gave her an annoyed look before pointing at the yellow colored castle walls, “There, maybe?” “Ah. Right. Can we just waltz in, or…?” “Probably not. We’ll have to figure something out.” “Can you not just fly over the walls?” Kimiko asked, knowing that her traveling companion was a jabberwock. “Do you see these wings? They’re… too small to let me fly,” With a sigh, she fluttered them for a short time. Kimiko frowned, “I am sorry. I assumed there was some rule that allowed you to fly even with such small wings.” “Yeah, well, there isn’t,” Susan hissed. Kimiko was unphased, “Maybe someone around here has seen any of those three. Over here,” She wandered over to the general store. “Susan. Look,” Kimiko wandered over to a telephone pole and tore off a flyer. Three familiar faces stared at Kimiko drawing in some kind of marker or crayon. Maxine, Richard, and even Bridgett were all set to be executed by guillotine, “Oh no.” Susan huffed, “What? I am amazed that the duchess was so quick to--” She gasped as she saw Bridgett was on the chopping block too, “She can’t do that! Children have immunity! Now even the duchess is a-a-a RULE BREAKER!” “Well, she is. We need to get into the duchess’s castle and put a stop to this. I will scale the walls if I need to. I need to save the three of them.” “I thought you hated Maxine now?” Susan asked as she tried to stall Kimiko a bit. Kimiko turned with a furious expression on her face. She gripped the sides of her head, her claws digging into her skin slightly, “Even if I am angry at her, she is my ward. It is my task to protect her and Richard. Bridgett does not deserve this. It matters not how I feel about Maxine right now,” She lurched forward, grabbing Susan’s neck and shoulder, “Now tell me how to get into that castle before I lose my temper and crush your windpipe!” “Okay, okay! I-I… look, there's a secret entrance that I know about. But to get to it… we have to stray from the path,” Susan quickly explained. It was obvious to her how much stronger the jinko was and with her body being the way that it was now with the madness there was no telling what she would do. Kimiko lost it. The madness took hold, “Why does this land have such arbitrary rules that restrict passage to such simple paths? Why must it be so difficult to traverse this area and I assume even harder to live here? I cannot even fathom the daily struggles of just living in this purple tinted hellscape!” Susan stopped, “W-well--” “You cannot stray from the path momentarily to stop a LITTLE GIRL from getting decapitated!?” She shouted in the jabberwock’s face. “B-but if we break the rules, we’ll get necked too! I can’t live in Wonderland if I’m a rule breaker!” Kimiko tore off Susan’s ‘Portal Monitor’ sash and tossed it aside, “Then you are coming to my world when we are done! Take me to that secret entrance. NOW.” Susan blinked. She ran through the idea of going to the ‘real’ world through her head.
She didn’t like that idea. She was much more comfortable in Wonderland and she knew her role as a portal guardian and--
Susan loved the idea. She would have much better chances finding a man once she was in the other world. No cheshires, trumparts, jub jubs or any other crazy girls would destroy her chances at a husband and happiness.
“Alright. I’ll do it. The voice in my head says this is a good idea,” The jabberwock was slowly released, “Come on, slow poke!” She started skipping down the path. Kimiko, not knowing what else to do, started skipping as well. Gwen and Theodore rode in the man’s red car back to the Hamilton manor. The two were a little sad that their wonderful day together was over, but Gwen was relieved to see her children again, “I hope the kids behaved,” She mused aloud. Theodore nodded and turned down the radio, “I’m sure they did. Aren’t you more worried that Maxine didn’t behave?” “Do not remind me, darling,” The weresheep sighed, “I just hope everything went smoothly.” “I’m sure everything was fine. Bridgett will tell you how much fun she had and Maxine will say the toddlers slept nearly the whole day!” He laughed, “Don’t look so glum,” The car pulled up to the front of the manor and he shut the car off, “Look, the manor hasn’t burnt down or anything! Everything is fine.” “Alright, I suppose you are correct,” The weresheep let out a long sigh as she finally felt a little relaxed. She got out of the car and took her husband’s hand as the two stepped up to the regal doors. Richard used the big knocker and waited. Eventually, they could hear footsteps clacking across the stone floors of the foyer. The door was opened and the two were looking at Svetlana, “Ah! Good to see you both!” The kikimora curtseyed to the two. Gwen could immediately tell that her maid uniform was a lot more ragged than she ever let it get, “Please, come right in!” “Thank you,” Gwen gave a little smile, “How are the children? I hope they were not any trouble for you!” “Oh, heavens no! Little angels, your two. Kimiko’s triplets gave me a hard time, but Ross and Samantha were great.” “What about Bridgett?” Theodore asked. Svetlana went pale, “W-well… admittedly, I did not manage her much today. Maxine, Kimiko and even Richard went on an… errand and Bridgett went with,” Her heart pounded and she was nearly about to break down from the stress, “A-all the kids were put down to sleep about an hour ago. H-hopefully they return soon!” “Well, we are a little early. We can wait for a little bit,” They were led to the room where all the children slept in sleeping bags or on air mattresses. Calvin slept in the corner in a rocking chair, completely exhausted from managing all the kids. “Of course. Let us go to the study, shall I prepare some tea for you both?” Svetlana asked, quickly taking them away from the children’s room. Maxine, Richard, and Bridgett all stood in the middle of the duchess’s garden on a raised platform. A crowd had formed, eager to watch the macabre show. The dutchess, still asleep, sat on a sort of throne with a good view of the guillotine that was painted to resemble cheese. A sharp, steel blade hung from the top of the guillotine showing the three that these people meant business. Next to the execution device was a muscular man in all black with a hood concealing his face and an axe in his hands. A few trumparts surrounded the platform to make sure no one would try to be a hero. “What do we do?” Richard asked quietly. All three had their hands bound behind their backs and a trumpart nearby held Richard’s sword and Maxine’s staff and hat. The witch’s ears were drooping sadly, “I-I do not know,” She did have a wand hidden in her robes, but she couldn’t cast with her hands bound like this, “I am so sorry, both of you. This is all my fault.” “I just… I can’t believe this is it,” Richard mumbled as they listened to some kind of bishop say their last rites, “Bridgett?” The dragon said nothing. Something was building in her. As the bishop finished their little sermon, the executioner walked over to grab one of the three, “I’ll go first,” The young dragon said bravely as if another voice entirely had said it. The executioner nodded and took her by the shoulder. Her head was put through the bottom of the guillotine and the emotions that she had been holding back finally started to burst. The executioner grabbed the handle and pulled. In that instant, Bridgett let out a loud roar and started to transform. The scales across her body hardened, shattering the steel blade of the guillotine on impact. She grew in size, more than quintupling her mass as she turned into her bestial form which easily shattered the execution device. Her claws, wings, body and tail all grew to a tremendous and powerful size. The crowd screamed in terror as the large dragon roared again, rearing back and billowing flames into the air with a mighty roar that shook the earth. The executioner brought up his axe to attack the dragon from behind but was cut down by Kimiko’s lightning fast swordplay. “Kimiko!” Maxine shouted happily, quite relieved to see her bodyguard was doing well despite the fact that she too had turned into a cheshire. Silently, the jinko cut the two of them free, “Kimiko, I am so sorry for all of this. I put all of you through all of this and--” “We can talk about forgiveness later,” She grunted as she slashed through a trumpart with her demon silver blade. Richard slammed himself into the trumpart holding their belongings, snatching up his sword and his wife’s things which he quickly tossed to her. The Goyle Force jumped in front of the dragon and assumed their poses, “Halt!” Captain Goyle shouted, “Due to the duchess’s fourth decree, no little girl may grow to massive size! You have broken the rules and--” Bridgett backhanded all five of them in a single swipe, sending them flying through the gates of the castle. All of them hardened their skin in response, which may have saved their skins, but it turned them into man-sized bullets, easily blowing the gate down like five cannon blasts. She huffed to herself before her eyes fixated on the golden mushrooms. The rank and file citizens all ran from the castle grounds as did the trumparts who all failed to pierce the thick scales of Bridgett’s hide as she completely ignored them. Kimiko and Richard fought off the rest of the trumparts together until all of them were downed with the demon silver weapons, “Duchess!” A voice boomed at the sleeping dormouse. Susan stomped over to the royal duchess, the jabberwock towering over her drowsy form, “By the power given to me by the Red Queen, and due to your breaking of one of the Queen’s most precious rules, as judge, jury and executioner I sentence you to 30 minutes in the prisoner fruit wiggler without parole!” She lifted up her skirt, revealing her cargo shorts and pulled the massive metal box from one of the big pockets and set it up in a few moments. The box began to vibrate loudly, sending fear into Maxine, Richard, Kimiko and Bridgett. The jabberwock grabbed the dormouse and stuffed her into the box. The duchess still slept, snoring loudly as she was put into the prisoner fruit wiggler to atone for her crimes. Susan dusted her hands off and nodded, “That’s that.” “Can we go home now?” Bridgett asked, one of her big claws was full of the large mushrooms, “I’m hungry.” “I need more mana,” Maxine frowned. The five of them were the only people left in the castle it seemed, “Perhaps Richard and I must--”
“No need,” A voice giggled as a form materialized next to the witch. First the large grin, then the eyes and finally the rest of the monster. She looked exactly like the just as gorgeous Maxine but there was a wild look in her green eyes. Her hair was lilac and messy, herher witch’s hat a shade of deep purple. Her robes were like a dark wine color coated with each suit of cards from vibrant violets to muted mauve clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades.
“Maxine?” Richard gasped as he stared at the spitting image of his wife. Kimiko brandished her sword, “What foul trickery is this?”
The purple witch giggled, “No need to be so feisty, Kimiko. Let me aid you,” Kimiko couldn’t respond before the purple cat teleported to her and jabbed a finger into the jinko’s stomach. All of the madness and craziness drained from Kimiko’s body, letting her grunt out a relieved sigh as the voices finally stopped. The wondrously plum colored witch took all Wonderland energy that had built up in the samurai and used it to tear open a large purple portal, “Run along now.”
“I do not understand how you were formed, but thank you,” Maxine gave a small smile to… herself. Bridgett, still in dragon form, along with Richard, Kimiko and Susan all stepped through the portal with loud FWOOMP noises, “Who… are you?”
The purple witch poked her counterpart’s chest, imbuing her with a little Wonderland magic for the road, “Hm… I believe Cheshine will work for now.”
“Not too creative on the author’s part, but it will do for now,” Maxine said, realising her maddening Wonderland powers were back, albeit in a limited capacity.
“He never was one for names, hm?” Cheshine stared at Maxine for a few moments, “Perhaps we will see one another again? I will be a bit busy as I take the role of duchess of this land seeing as the last one broke the rules, but swing by any time.”
“I will. How do you know you will be duchess?”
“Other than the Red Queen, not many Wonderlanders have magic beyond innate abilities. Witchcraft plus Wonderland madness as you saw is… well… tremendously powerful. Put what little you have to good use,” Cheshine explained, “I will use mine to reign in the people here. And to change this horrible decor!”
“Ah, I see. Well, so long for now, Cheshine.”
“So long, Maxine,” The witch watched as the other witch stepped into the portal, closing it behind her.
The manor rumbled as there were five loud FWOOMP noises. Books shook and the fine drinking ware rattled and splashed out some of their contents. Svetlana, Gwen and Theodore all jumped up and hurried toward the noise. The three burst out of the back door toward Kimiko and Svetlana’s homes. Illuminated by the moonlight and rising to their feet amongst the well manicured garden. Bridgett’s dragon form was obvious right away along with Maxine, Richard, Kimiko and a purple dragon woman that Gwen didn’t recognize, “Look, Maxine!” Bridgett shouted in a booming voice that set off a few car alarms, “I got the mushrooms you wanted! A whole bunch of em!” She dropped some golden mushrooms that glimmered in the moonlight. “Yes, yes, thank you, Bridgett. Now please turn back into a little girl before your parents come home so Gwen doesn’t gore me with her horns!” Maxine pleaded. “I… Hi, mom!” Bridgett waved as her powerful dragon eyes spotted her mother. Gwen stomped up to Maxine whose ears sheepishly flattened on her head, “Maxine. What is going on? Why is my daughter in her dragon form and-- who is this?” She pointed to the jabberwock. “Why the hell are the bushes green?” Susan asked, “What an ugly color.” “That’s… Kimiko, why did she come with us?” Maxine in turn asked the bodyguard. “Because she broke the rules to help me save you,” Kimiko grunted, “Susan here was of great help to me in helping save your daughter and our… FRIEND,” Maxine received a cross look. Gwen stared in horror, “What!? What happened?” “I had such a fun time!” Brdigett giddly said with a big grin on her face, “Maxine asked me to get some golden mushrooms so I went to Wonderland! I went on a really fun adventure and I was only scared at the end where the mean duchess wanted to chop our heads off with a… guilla-- geeoo--” “Guillotine,” Kimiko corrected. “That! I met nice people and was at a feast and I saw Ruth and Daisy and they were kinda funny lookin’! Can Maxine watch me more often, mom? Please!?” Bridgett begged, bringing her large dragon head down to her mother’s eye level, “I wanna go on more adventures!” Gwen pinched the bridge of her nose before patting her daughter’s nose, “Maxine.” The witch started to talk quickly, “Gwen, I can assure you that she was never in any danger. She just happened to wander off and her being put on the chopping block was entirely my fault. I am so sorry all of this happened. I am so sorry to all of you, everything that went wrong was my fault. I was just afraid of going to Wonderland and Bridgett was immune to the insanity and I just figured everything would go to plan like it usually does for me. I--” “Maxine. I have never seen Bridgett so excited and happy like this. I have to thank you for that,” Gwen admitted, “But sending her to Wonderland unsupervised!? How can you be so short sighted!?” “In her defense,” Susan piped up, “Children have a sort of diplomatic immunity due to a decree from the Red Queen. She was completely safe until the duchess decided to break the rules.” “Exactly! I did my research and planned and…” Maxine sighed, “I am in the wrong. I am sorry. I will not try to excuse myself further. Richard, I am ready to accept my punishment.” “Right,” Richard sighed at her, “Hand over your staff.” “W-what? I-- Yes. Alright,” The witch gave it to her husband hesitantly. “And your wand,” He ordered. Without a word she gave that to him as well, “You’re out of magic for two weeks. Kimiko deserves a break so you’ll be doing whatever she and Svetlana need.” The jinko’s shoulders slouched, “A vacation at Maxine’s expense sounds wonderful.” “...I will do as I am told,” Maxine meekly replied, her pride taking a massive hit as her husband took her witch’s hat as well. “Good,” Richard gave her messy hair a few pats, “Gwen, on behalf of my wife, I’m also really sorry this happened. I should have been more wary.” “I am glad she is receiving a punishment beyond a simple slap on the wrist,” The weresheep glanced at Bridgett who had finally turned back into a little dragon girl. She yawned from her exhaustion of playing all day, “I am also quite happy that my daughter is so elated… perhaps I should let Maxine watch her more often. They are both children after all,” She chuckled, “Come on, Bridgett, time for bed.” “Watch my children tonight, Maxine,” Kimiko ordered, “I wish for an evening alone with my man,” She licked her lips and stomped into the manor, looking for her husband. Maxine stared at the ground and sighed. Richard patted her shoulder, “I’m proud of you,” He admitted, “Owning up to your mistakes is quite a big step for you.” She looked at him with tears in her eyes, “Y-yeah,” She wiped her eyes, “I am just glad that everyone does not hate me. At least it seems that way.” “Yup. How about you go talk to Svetlana? I’m sure she needs help with the children.” “Right. Now what to do with you?” She turned to Susan who simply stood there, staring at the plants. “We need someone to watch the gate house, right? We know she can do that!” Richard laughed. “As long as you tell me how to open the gate I can do that!” Susan clenched her fist and gave them a smile. “I’ll get her set up in the guest room. See you when you’re done with your chores, Maxy!” Richard gave his wife a wave as he left with the jabberwock in tow, “Don’t look so down. You’re gonna look adorable in a maid’s uniform, Maxy!” “Yeah, yeah,” The witch sighed and folded her arms before slowly making her way to the manor toward her best friend, Svetlana, who was more than eager to give her the orders for once.
The beautiful and powerful Duchess Cheshine put the book down. She had a little smile on her face but there was one issue with the story, ‘Maxine’s Wondrous Adventure in a Most Peculiar Place’ was such a horrible name! Could you, dear reader, imagine trying to sell someone on a story with that title? Absolutely dreadful! Cheshine wondered for a short time as to what to change the title to. Although the author had originally planned for this to be a Bridgett centered story, it had sort of spiraled out of control due to Maxine and admittedly my own interference. Eventually she settled on a name: ‘The Witch’s Guide to Wonderland.’ She nodded and scrubbed out the green text that was Maxine’s title and wrote the new one in bold pink letters. Now satisfied, she returned the book to the shelf of her study. “I hope you enjoyed yourself, dear reader. I know I did. Now, you may be asking, ‘Oh, Cheshine! How gorgeous and powerful you are! Will I ever see you again?’ Perhaps not in person, but perhaps through this thin wall of our realities. Perhaps not, I am a very busy woman. But, until then, so long.”
Commission for Zarama. Thanks again!
I stared out the window of my tiny home. The sun was high in the sky, the gentle breeze was blowing, and the sound of birdsong filled the air. I turned away from it, I knew I had a few things I needed to do, simple chores and such. My mind was clouded by my rampant negative thoughts, self conscious doubt and anxiety plagued me as I thought of my friends who had all moved on with their lives while I was still stuck here, alone and stagnant. I needed to clear my mind, I decided on a whim. A walk usually helped me, so that’s what I decided to do. I left my home and stomped down the path to the river where I quickly found my route for my little half hour jaunt; I would follow a river and walk through the trees as my mind wandered. Most of my friends had gotten married at this point but I was still looking. I couldn’t settle down with just any woman, she had to be the one for me. The same thoughts came to my mind that did nearly every time I thought of girls. Sure there were a few skinny human women in my town and a handful of fat ones. But none of them were to my standards. I wanted a big girl, a tall one, not a wide one. One of an impressive stature and even more impressive muscles. Powerful and strong, more than enough to overpower me. Call me what you want, I don’t really care what people think of my tastes. I nearly salivated as I thought about it. The only problem was that the only human women who were to that criteria were order knights, and they usually only married within their little group of fanatics. Those women wanted equally strong men, which was only natural, but that of course meant human women could never give me what I wanted as I was not to their standards and I would probably have to turn to monster girls. I could only wonder if people would be disappointed in me for choosing this path, but did it really matter to me? If it got me what I wanted? Hell no, it didn’t matter. I snapped out of my daydreaming and back to reality, looking around for my familiar surroundings. I must have gotten distracted, I had ended up wandering much further than I had intended. I sighed and went down to the shore of the river like I usually did when walking back. Not having been this far up river, I looked around. It was mostly the same as the rest of the river, a somewhat deep and slow current that was pretty good for catching crawfish and salmon in. Not very good for drinking; although the water was clear, too many people used it for cleaning. I would stick to well water. I continued along the riverbank, every so often I would pick up a stone and toss it, trying to skip it down river. I spotted an area I had not seen before. The river pooled in this area. The bank I was on stayed parallel with the rest of the river but the opposite side bulged out into a small sort of lake. I was ready to walk past, but as if illuminated by sun rays, I spotted a woman. The most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. I scurried into some nearby bushes, desiring more than anything to watch her. She stood in the pool of water, it hardly came up to her thighs. The muscles across her body rippled with power as she moved with little grace. Ran a bar of soap along her muscles, illuminating them with a reflective sheen, while obscuring other parts with the cleansing suds. Her firm looking buttox was towards me and I could see a tail whipping side to side as she silently cleaned herself. If the tail had not tipped me off to her monstrous nature, her large claws and fluffy cat ears would have. The fur across her body was a cream color with dark brown tiger stripes marking her furred limbs. The skin on her gorgeous muscles was a dark tanned color and glistened in the sunlight, freshly cleaned for the day. I shuffled, adjusting my position as I stared at the beastly woman. The soft noise of my approach made her turn around, scanning the riverside for where the noise came from. Her cat ears twitched and her tail flicked back and forth as she looked for any threats. I caught a glimpse of her face. It was absolutely gorgeous, a beautiful face with strong, stunning features. Her hair was a dark auburn, her piercing eyes were a bright yellow and her mouth was full of sharp looking, but clean, white teeth. She frowned and went back to bathing herself, ignoring the noise I had made. I breathed a sigh of relief. A sudden noise startled me. A raccoon running out of a bush nearly made me yelp, but I managed to contain myself. I watched as the ring-tailed creature skittered away from me, just as startled as I was. I went back to staring at the beautiful, muscled woman. She was gone. I frowned. I had missed my chance to speak to her, “I’d better get going,” I murmured to myself as I was reminded that I had work I needed to get done before sundown. “Get going to where?” A husky voice asked from beside me. I slowly looked towards where the voice had come from. The tall, beautiful, muscled woman was standing right next to me. She looked down at me with a somewhat bemused expression on her face, “Why are you hiding in that bush? Did that raccoon scare you?” She let out a strange laugh, like a ‘hu hu hu’ as she giggled at my stammering and stuttering. “N-no, I was… I was just on my way home!” I explained quickly as I pointed down the river. “Home? You live down river? I have never seen you there,” She smirked. She chuckled again as she looked me up and down. The way she spoke, that husky voice… and the way she stared… my brain told me to run. But with all of my blood rushing away from my brain to my slowly stiffening member, my brain functions started to deteriorate and my fight or flight started to wane. I just stared at the monster girl, taking in the wondrous sight of her shapely breasts and hard abs, “That isn’t fear on your face…” She mused as a curious expression showed on her face, “You are not afraid of me?” “Afraid? No, of course not!” I chuckled nervously, hardly able to make eye contact with her as she leaned towards me and smelled the air. “Hmph,” She huffed, “Your body language is strange. What is it you are feeling, then?” “Promise you won’t beat me up if I say something dumb?” I chuckled nervously. She folded her arms, “I suppose.” “It’s… well… a-arousal,” I said sheepishly. I found myself unable to refuse her. She leered at me, “Arousal? For me?” I nodded slowly in response. I got a single, strong exhale of air from her nose as she scoffed, “You are pulling my leg. Perhaps I should beat you for joking about such things, especially to an older woman!” She glared at me now. “Oh, no, no, no,” I nervously backed away as she stepped towards me, her powerful claws balled into fists, “I mean it! I find you quite fetching a-and beautiful!” Despite what she had said, she looked quite young. Probably because of that latent demon mana or whatever it is. She stared into my face, mostly taken aback by my declaration, “What could you possibly find beautiful? I lack in your species’ feminine qualities. What beauty is there in me?” She made a sad expression that I could not bear to see. “Even if you can’t see it, I can!” “Now you are just making fun of me!” She hastily decided as she cracked her knuckles, “Unless you can prove it, I’m beating the shit outta you,” She growled. “I-- Well…” I sharply drew in my breath and steeled myself for whatever would follow as I undid my belt buckle, letting my pants fall around my ankles. My stiff member was completely obvious in just my underwear. I was fully prepared for a beating but how else could I prove I was telling the truth? The monster woman folded her arms and attempted to maintain her composure. Her face blushed red as she stared at my stretched undergarments, “So that is what that smell was,” She nodded, “What is your name?” “Anon,” I put my pants back on. “Kirana. You shall be a suitable mate.” “Really!?” I coughed and tried to compose myself, I had to play it cool, I thought,“Alright. I agree.” “Good. Because I would have taken you even if you had said no,” The jinko smirked and grabbed me, hoisting me over her shoulder before stomping to the other side of the river and grabbing her things. I didn’t fight as she carried me through the woods, letting out a soft ‘hu hu hu,’ as she giggled to herself. I had a big grin on my face. I was more than overjoyed, elated even. My dreams were coming true. From the discomfort I felt from her shoulder against my ribcage, I already knew this wasn’t a dream. Kirana was a little rough as she unceremoniously dumped me onto her little sleeping arrangement. A strangely comfortable pile of furs, blankets and pillows. She threw some logs into the fireplace and got a small, warm fire going, “I suppose it is quite fortunate that I decided to bathe today,” She chuckled, “But you must prove yourself to me before I truly make you my mate.” “Anything!” I panted, eager to prove my worth as her lover. She pulled me to my knees. Her large, powerful and clawed hand ran through my hair a few times before the hand moved to the nape of my neck. In a swift motion that hardly strained her, my face was pulled against her rock hard abs, “You find my body arousing? Show me.” I nodded. I started to slowly kiss her abs and muscles. They were softer than they appeared, the muscles tightening with each kiss of my lips or twitching when my tongue grazed them gentle.. I shuddered with excitement, her body was warm and her hand on my head was surprisingly gentle as she let me explore her strong stomach and legs. Feeling her abs as I ran my hands over them was amazing as they tightened and hardened in response to my teasing, They were a testament to her strength. Her legs were like the tough trunks of a tree when she flexed them. I imagined her easily breaking boards or even logs over her knee as a show of strength. Just imagining her acting so strong and powerful around me aroused me further. Her body smelled of lavender like the soap she used and my mind went numb again as my penis got excited, stealing all the blood from my thinking muscle. My lips parted and my tongue rolled out of my mouth. Kirana shuddered as my warm, flexible muscle traveled over the small part of her body that she kept my face at, “E-enough,” She commanded in her husky voice, “You have shown me how you feel,” She nodded, “There is one more trial you must face.” “Alright,” I nodded, panting as I tried to catch my breath and wipe my face. The monstrous woman shoved me onto my back, nearly knocking the wind out of me. Before I could try to move, she was on me. Her mouth pressed to mine, testing and tasting my lips before she went in for the kill. My curious hands ran across the muscles of her arms and upper body with a strange, excited reverence that she seemed to enjoy just as much as I did. Her lips parted and her large, strong tongue came out. It wiggled its way into my mouth where it easily shoved my tongue around as she made out with me. The rough sandpaper feeling of it only enhanced the experience. She pulled away when she decided she had had enough, letting a heated sigh escape her lips, “Good. You have passed this first ordeal. Now--” She swiftly ran a claw across my body. My clothes came off of me like a shell that was torn open. Her actions had drawn a little blood on my chest and she quickly lapped up the few droplets before licking her lips, “You taste divine, Anon,” She told me with her usual ‘hu hu hu’ chuckle. I didn’t respond, I was too entranced by her body. Her hand roughly grasped my member. I was already completely stiff for her as she stroked me. She smirked and eyed me up and down, not caring if I was ready or not. She lined me up before lowering her body onto mine. There was a gasp that escaped her lips right as the head of my member entered her. A devious smile spread across her lips. She said nothing as her yellow eyes took the sight of me in. She forced herself further down my shaft, making both of our back’s arch from the intense feeling of pleasure. I panted and moaned as she shoved herself down to the hilt and stayed there, rocking her hips back and forth. I could feel the full weight of her powerful body pressing down on me, holding me down. My fingers traced her muscular stomach, still enamored with her body. She grabbed my wrists and held them above my head, grinning at me the whole time. Soon after, lifted up her hips before bringing them back down, slamming herself against me as she felt every little inch of my shaft inside herself. She gasped and shuddered before the smile came back to her face. She quickly found her rhythm, the slow, almost lurching movements of her body as she pleasured herself with my willing body. I writhed and moaned as her hips slammed against mine. The pleasure numbed all senses of pain I could feel as my mind went blank, only focusing on Kirana’s gorgeous face, her divine muscles and the way she was fucking me. I started to moan loudly and slightly struggle against her grip, “Struggle, Anon,” She panted, sweat from the exertion and heat softly dripped down her forehead. I nodded, eager to please her, “G-get off of me,” I weakly said as I tried to wiggle out from under her. “Oh, I will do no such thing~” She chuckled in my ear before kissing my neck lovingly, contrasting the powerful and aggressive movements of her hips as she repeatedly slammed herself against me, “I can feel you throbbing. You yearn for release, yes?” She was right, my member was twitching and my body was shuddering as I tried to hold myself back. The feeling in my bruised loins was a little too much to bear at this point, “Keep holding it.” I nodded. Kirana picked up the pace even more, throwing my hands back as she braced herself against me. She hunched over me as her claws dug into pelts on either side of my head, supporting her body with her mighty arms. I kept my hands above my head, not able to move and not wanting to displease her. She was like a wild animal, a hunter ravaging its catch as it feasted upon the pleasures of its flesh. I was a more than willing participant, much more willing than most prey would be. The monstrous woman let out a roar as the thrashing of her hips turned violent, “Now! Do it!” She commanded through gritted teeth. Like a dam breaking, the pressure in my loins was freed. I cried out as the cum violently splurted out, shooting deep into her womb. The monstrous tiger woman grabbed my hands, her fluffy fingers interlocking with mine as she squeezed with enough force to nearly shatter them as she yelled in pleasure. The walls of her pussy quivered and convulsed as it tried to coax as much cum from my cock as it could. It felt like our orgasms lasted an eternity as we both joyously cried out in pleasure. Eventually, my cock was exhausted and my balls were emptied. Kirana stared down at me, a little smirk on her face as she blew air between her clenched teeth. “D-did I pass?” I wheezed as I went limp. My body was hot and sweaty as I lay in the aftersex warmth. “I would say you passed with flying colors, my sweet,” The tiger woman was just as sweaty. The way the dancing flames accentuated her curves and muscles was magnificent. I wanted more than anything to touch them again. Without a word, my hand was touching her, running my fingers up and down them. “Hu hu hu,” She chuckled before finally releasing me and getting off. Her pussy leaked with my cum. She absentmindedly scooped what she could to keep it inside and grunted in satisfaction as she began to stretch, “You seem to enjoy my body like a zealot in worship. You almost make me think my muscles are a fetish for you,” She lay down next to me, pulling me against her, “I think I like that,” She smirked as she settled on to the makeshift bed. “Almost?” I echoed, nearly feeling offended, “I must not have shown you how much I like them, because they most definitely are! They’re really sexy!” The woman laughed, “I like your vigor on the topic, despite our rigorous session. You shall be a fine mate.” “So, uh,” I stammered, hard again as my face was pressed against her collar bone. I could feel the muscles of her arms squeezing around my nape as the surprisingly soft fur of her forearms brushed over my cheeks, “So does that make you my wife?” “Hm?” Her legs crossed over mine, completely immobilising me before one of her hands began to caress my head and nape, “I suppose those are the words your people use for it. Husband and wife, yes. Is that what you desire for me to say, husband?” She chuckled in my ear as a shiver ran down my spine, “Rest, dear husband. Your body will need the strength for tomorrow’s lovemaking session,” She chuckled again before resting her chin on my scalp. I wiggled to get my arms free and wrapped them around her neck. I nuzzled against her body and let sleep take me rather quickly. Everything happened so quickly after that point. Kirana made an Anon shaped imprint on the bed nearly every morning and night for a week. After that we moved back to the village I was living in. Most people there already knew her from when she traded in skins and animal meats for things she needed so they were fine with her staying. She even asked my parents for my hand in marriage as she believed that was a human custom. With a bit of coercing, they agreed to give me up. The wedding was short and small. As she had already claimed me, she found it unnecessary but my parents insisted. The sheepish expression she had on when her lovely muscles were concealed by a gorgeous white wedding dress was something I knew I’d never forget. It was almost as sexy as her naked. It had been around a month now, but I still day dreamed about convincing her to put it back on. “Anon?” Kirana said my name quietly. “Hm?” I shook myself and stared at her. She was wearing a form fitting shirt and pants that both accentuated her curves and muscles. She brushed her long hair out of her face and chuckled, “Are you thinking deeply again? My husband does enjoy spacing out, doesn’t he?” I nodded, “I was just thinking about you. It feels like just yesterday we met on that river bank, does it not?” She frowned and shook her head, “It has been nearly a month, my husband.” I sighed and shrugged, “Always so literal,” I set a tip for the meal on the table and stood up, “Ready to go?” “Are we going home? Or did you have more of this date planned for us? Hu hu hu,” She chuckled, forcefully taking my hand and pulling me out of the somewhat fancy restaurant. I was yanked down an alleyway, the same way we had come from, “I feel quite exhausted from today’s festivities.” “You and me both,” I wiggled out of her grasp to stop and tie my laces. Kirana grabbed me, lifted me up and pushed me against the wall with a smug look on her face, “Hey! Cut that out!” I protested. “Make me,” She teased before licking my cheek. “Come on! Get off!” I groaned again, only making her push me into the wall a little harder. “Unhand him, vile beast!” A voice at the end of the alley cried. Kirana dropped me and turned, “I will not allow another monster to rape an innocent man!” It was a woman clad in armor. An order knight. She looked strong but not nearly as strong as Kirana. I felt my member stiffening as my monstrous jinko wife approached the knight. “A-actually, we’re already married. We’ll be going now,” I tried to diffuse the situation. “No. We will not,” Kirana folded her arms, “I will not allow one of these pretenders to come between my night with my man and me. Defend yourself, woman,” She hissed as she dropped low into her fighting stance. The knight’s muscles rippled as she got into a stance with her sword. Steel weapons and armor against the jinko’s natural claws. The knight struck first, stabbing at my wife. I didn’t fear for her life with good reason. She easily sidestepped the stab and brought her hand down on the knight’s shoulder, making her cry in pain as her armor caved in from such a heavy blow. She went for a small slash that made contact with the jinko’s clothes, cutting them and spilling some of her blood. She yelped in pain, “My husband bought me this shirt!” She snarled before raking her claws across the knight’s plate armor. The powerful tiger claws rended the metal armor, tearing it apart. The two continued trading blows, my wife getting a few more cuts on her body and arms while tearing at the knight’s armor. Soon, all of her armor had fallen away and she was left naked with cuts and bruises across her muscular body. Kirana dodged another desperate slash and delivered a punishing strike to her victim’s stomach. The knight dropped her sword and fell to her knees, “M-mercy, pl-please,” She could hardly wheeze out as she clutched her wounds. “Hmph. You will live,” The jinko kicked the knight onto her back. She writhed in pain at her cuts and bruises, “Only because I know your order will hunt me down if I do more than beat you. Leave the order and do something better with your life,” Kirana chuckled and grabbed her opponent's sword and its sheath as well as the money from her wallet, “Trophy. A gift for my husband. As well as a way to repay me for the clothes you have RUINED,” She decided, “Anon, you-- Why are you aroused?” “Huh?” I shuddered as her mouth started to curl into a frown, “I don’t know. I think you look hot like that,” I tried to recover. “You lie to me?” She gasped, “Come, we are going home,” She growled, picking me up over her shoulder like she usually did when she wanted to display her strength. “It seems I have not conditioned you well enough,” Kirana growled, “After all I have done for you, you dare LOOK at another woman like that?” “I-I’m sorry, I-I was entranced by the way the two of you traded blows!” I desperately tried to explain to her. She grabbed my face with a powerful grip, “Liar,” She slapped me with her words and then her hand, “You have disrespected me. Your own wife!” She knocked the wind out of me with a somewhat forceful punch to my stomach. She followed it up with a leg sweep while still being careful enough to make me land on the sparring mat, but it still hurt somewhat, “I know humans are much less faithful than monster girls,” She picked me up and tossed me again. I grunted in pain as I looked up at her. She squatted down next to me, “I will not have my husband, my mate be promiscuous. It seems I must tighten your leash. I must remind you of what you fell in love with,” She grabbed me again and made me stand up. She gestured for me to start. I nodded and came at her, wrapping my arms around her as I grabbed at her. She forced her arms between mine and forced them apart before grabbing me again and performing a somewhat gentle throw, “I do not enjoy punishing you, but if you rile me up like this you must be ready to face the consequences,” She forcefully brought my face to hers where she forced her tongue into my mouth. I was accustomed to the sandpaper like roughness. She pulled away, leaving a trail of saliva between our mouths. She stepped away from me and got into a low stance. I did the same, ready to spar with her. She came at me, easily grabbing me and deflecting my blows. I could only struggle against her grip. She tossed me around a bit, roughing me up playfully as she chuckled, “Seems like you’re in a better mood,” I chuckled nervously as she got on top of me. She giggled back in her low voice before laying on top of me, “I cannot stay mad at you for long, Anon. But, I am still a little frustrated. It is time,” She grabbed me again, performing an expert judo throw and tossing me onto the bed, “My muscles are quite sore from protecting you and require… Extra attention tonight,” She stripped off her torn clothes and tossed them aside. She had splotches of dry blood across her body, “Wipe me clean before our lovemaking session, husband.” I nodded, hurrying to the bathroom and getting a damp, warm cloth. She sat on her knees and stared at me as I ran the cloth over her body slowly with a loving reverence, “I’m sorry. I hate upsetting you,” I told her quietly. “Then how come you get into trouble so often?” She chuckled before grabbing my crotch, “You will get your punishment,” I nodded but writhed as my member stiffened. She let go and I returned to my task, cleaning her body slowly and carefully. I ran my hands over her surprisingly soft abs, making sure to get every little bit of dried blood off of her body. She used two fingers to grab my cheeks and pull me in for another mouth invading kiss. She flexed her arms, knowing that I liked it, before gesturing to them. A silent reminder to wash and kiss them. I washed the kissed the flexing, powerful arm muscles before I tossed the rag aside and sat next to her. Her arm wrapped around my shoulders, “Anything else you wish to say before bed, husband of mine?” “Uh. I love you,” I smiled. “And I love you,” She grabbed me and flipped me onto the bed. She climbed on me as I tried to remove my clothes so she wouldn’t slice them up again. I got my pants off before she straddled me. My underwear came off quickly. I could feel her hot pussy against my throbbing cock, “Today was wonderful. Other than our little spat, I had a good time.” “Yeah, I did too,” I smirked, “That dinner was really good.” “Yes it was. Oh, I could do with another serving of that roast!” She chuckled as she rubbed her pussy up and down my shaft absentmindedly, “But, I suppose it is time for my main course,” She licked her lips and slipped the head of my cock into her. I shuddered as she took every inch of my member like she usually did. She shuddered before shifting to get comfortable. She grabbed my face and forced me to keep eye contact and she slowly rode me, “Comfortable, are we?” I nodded before a gasp escaped my lips. She was teasing me. She would slam herself down on me but rise up slowly. We both panted and moaned as she used my member to please herself. After a good handful of pumps she let out a roar and abandoned all grace in her fucking. The intercourse turned somewhat violent as she began to bring herself crashing down upon my hips. I cried out, half in pain and half in pleasure as she continued to have her way with me. I looked into her eyes and saw the same expression she gave that roast she devoured at dinner. I was her meal and she was through with toying with me. I put my hands on her hips as I attempted to stabilize myself. It didn’t do much as she continued to thrash me. Her claws moved to the sides of my head as she got her body over me. She was going in for the kill. The pressure was building in my loins as it was with hers, I could tell from the way she shuddered and huffed as she neared her climax. I was hardly able to hold my own back. Eventually her arms wrapped around me and her body quivered and her pussy shook giving me my que. I let loose, shooting my cum into her womb again. The spurts kept coming and coming as her pussy continued to milk me, making sure I was filling her to the brim. She collapsed on me and wrapped her arms around me, “Good,” She whispered in my ear, praising me quietly. “Yeah I love you too,” I chuckled as she pulled me into a firm and loving hug. “Sleep now. More ‘punishment’ tomorrow,” She laughed to herself as she snuggled me to sleep. “Wonderful,” I let the exhaustion take me as I lay in our after sex heat.
While not completely required, I do recommend reading the following stories before this one for a bit of context on some events mentioned.
Bridgett Means Fire and Little Dragon Girl
The Black Cat
The Striped Samurai
Man’s Best Friend + Kobold’s Best Friend
My Friend From Hell
I hope you enjoy, and Merry Christmas or whatever it is you celebrate!]
Ruth set down her beer as she stood and peered out the window into the blackness of the night. Her softly flaming and flickering red eyes with black sclera reflected back at her. The lights around the Hamilton manor reflected the small layer of snow that was falling around the grounds. “Ruth!” Daisy, the small kobold called before joining her at the tall floor to ceiling window, “Is something wrong?” The kobold ran her fingers through her long light brown hair that matched the short fur on her arms and legs. Her bright blue eyes blinked at the hellhound, “Or are you just staring out at the snow?” She adjusted the bright red collar around her neck, a thick hoodie that belongs to her husband Jackson hung loose on her torso and some loose sweat pants that might have been his at one time hardly stayed up around her waist despite it being folded over twice. “Never seen the snow before,” Ruth grunted with bewilderment. The hellhound was recently married and had become the sixth member of their little club that got together quite often. Usually the girls would drink and chat while their husbands played their pen and paper games together, but with about half of the group being pregnant, only one or two could drink. Ruth shook her dark leather jacket and ran her claws through her black onyx or brimstone hair. Her torn and hole covered dark jeans hardly contained the thick fur on her legs and revealed some of her ashen colored skin, “I grew up somewhere pretty tropical.” “You will get used to it,” Kimiko grunted from her seat. The massive jinko samurai assured the hellhound, “I do not believe the winters will be as harsh here as they were back home, thankfully,” Kimiko spoke with a heavy Zipangese accent and wore her usual kimono that matched it. She adjusted the eyepatch on her face with a hand covered in thick, black striped orange and white fur. Her other other hand held a glass of sake near her two katanas. Anyone could easily guess she carried a short tanto or two beneath the clothes. She worked as Maxine Hamilton’s body guard, the second daughter of a wealthy business woman. “We did not have electric heaters back home!” Gwen, the fluffy weresheep laughed. Her thick wool was a nice cream color and she wore a thick purple knitted sweater. Her daughter, Bridgett, a large green scaled dragon girl of about eight years of age, slept with her head on the weresheep’s lap. Gwen gently ran her fingers through the little girl’s black hair, “Last year was quite cozy, but I am glad we have been gifted with snow this year. Its your first Christmas with Gabe isn’t it, Ruth?” The hellhound nodded and picked up her drink again before settling in on one of the luxurious couches scattered about the lounge room, “Yeah. I’m pretty worried about what to get him, too.” “Do not worry too much about it,” Maxine, the black haired cat witch smiled from where she sat, “But I do understand fretting over your husband. My first Christmas with mine last year was quite stressful. All the money in the world couldn’t buy my hubby the perfect Christmas gift,” The young witch sighed as she carefully adjusted herself. Her pregnant belly made it a little hard for her to sit comfortably. She wore a loose fitting witch’s robe of a dark black color with a matching wide brimmed conical hat that folded over a little at the top. Her bright emerald colored eyes smiled at the hellhound. “With your fortune, I am sure you could purchase whatever you wanted for him,” The kikimora, Svetlana, said to her best friend, ribbing her playfully. While she usually wore a black and white traditional maid’s uniform, the now eight months pregnant, feathery brown haired kikimora wore loose exercise clothes and a thick coat. “Svetlana’s right!” Daisy laughed, sitting down carefully herself, also pregnant, “I’m hoping I give birth before Christmas. A little gift for both of us,” Svetlana nodded in agreement, but she knew she was still a month or two away from her first childbirth. “I hope so too,” Kimiko grinned, “My triplets are going to need playmates more durable than Maxine’s first born and Gwen’s little sheep.” “Just keep them off of her little Ross,” Maxine frowned, “My precious Sophia already has her eyes on him! She can sense the magical abilities he will have in the future.” “Whatever you say, Maxine,” Gwen shook her head. She never really understood what the cat was on about when she said that. She had been saying that since the two infants first interacted. “Heh, maybe I’ll have kids soon,” Ruth grinned, it was mostly wishful thinking on her part. Mamano already had a lower fertility rate, but girls like hellhounds, manticores and other more powerful and aggressive girls have even lower pregnancy rates. She had been trying for months now, “Even if they’re younger, I’m sure they’ll keep up.” “Have three boys, would you? It would make it easier on both of us,” The jinko grinned, “Or at least one for them to fight over.” “I hope I have a strong baby,” Svetlana smiled sweetly as she rubbed her swollen belly, “Maybe they’ll be tall like my husband too,” She checked her phone, hoping her husband was done with his game. Gwen and Ruth checked their phones as well. Gwen wanted to get her daughter home. She was sure the babysitter they had hired to watch the twins was eager to get home as well. Ruth was worried near constantly about her husband, Gabe was a timid and nervous creature that she doted on constantly. He got along with the other girl’s husbands, or at least he said he did. Both girls frowned when they saw no texts from their respective husbands, “They’re running late,” Ruth growled quietly. “Indeed they are,” Maxine sighed, “Christmas night is in a few days. Do you think the Claus family will be bringing you anything wonderful this year?” “This again?” Gwen sighed, “Maxine, you’re in your twenties, you should not be talking about such fairy tales!” Maxine was taken aback, “I can assure you that their magic is very much real! I can feel it in the air this year! I felt it last year too! I received a gift from Santa last year!” “It was your husband, he merely wrote Santa on the tag,” Gwen hissed back, not wanting to put up with her friend’s nonsense. Her daughter stirred, pulling the old wool lined jacket around her. It had two large holes on the back that were torn to allow wings to poke through. It belonged to an older dragon at one time. “B-but--” “Will you two stop fighting!?” Daisy barked, “Who cares if Santa is real or not!? Gwen, would you tell HER that Santa isn’t real and kill the magic?” She pointed an accusatory finger at the peacefully sleeping dragon. “Of course not!” Gwen clutched her daughter’s head protectively. “Santa’s real to whoever believes in it. Just because Christmas is dead to you, doesn’t mean it has to be for lil’ Bridg’ or the cat,” The assertive kobold folded her arms, pouting, “O-or me...” Even if Gwen felt a little hurt by Daisy’s words, she knew she was right. But on the other hand, the weresheep mused about being surrounded by children. Magic may be real, but tall tales still existed, “Kimiko, Ruth, Svetlana? Do you two have anything to say on this matter?” The jinko shrugged then used her claws to scratch her scarred face, “My homeland has different myths but none that deliver gifts on a specific night. This ‘Santa’ myth might be one of my favorites this land has to offer. An excuse to be charitable and kind as the ground cools and snow covers the land. And the whole nice and naughty lists will be terrific incentives to keep my children in line.” “Its wonderful for the children. I remember a certain childlike wonder I had when I first learned of Santa,” Svetlana grinned as she recalled it. Ruth snickered, “I think a certain lamb might be on the naughty list.” Gwen snapped, “I am not--!” She stopped herself, “Very funny Ruth,” She checked her phone as it buzzed. Theodore was finally out of his little game with his friends, “Looks like the boys are finally done,” She struggled to lift her large daughter to go find her husband. “Allow me,” Kimiko grunted, picking the dragon off of her lap. Bridgett nestled into her fluffy paws, still asleep, “Allow me to carry her to your car.” “Thank you, Kimiko,” Gwen sighed as she stood up, leading the jinko to find her husband. “D-do you really believe Santa is real?” Daisy asked the witch quietly, praying that Gwen wouldn’t hear. “I know it!” Maxine snaped, “I will prove it to Gwen too!” “Of course you will, Maxine,” Svetlana laughed. Maxine pouted at her. “Yeah, and make sure she’s not on the naughty list,” Ruth giggled as she finished her drink, “C’mon, Daisy. I need a hug from my man.” Daisy nodded and carefully got up to follow the hellhound, her baby gently kicking her stomach. Maxine and Svetlana followed them, ready to see them out. Gwen had already collected Theodore and was on her way out the front door after the two of them had said their goodbyes, “Were we still planning on that white elephant gift exchange?” She inquired. “Two gifts, twenty dollar limit?” Theodore asked as he took Bridgett from Kimiko, “I’ll bring two things for Bridgett so she can play along.” “That sounds wonderful,” Maxine smiled, “You two have a wonderful night.” “Hey--” Gabe was cut short as Ruth wrapped her arms under his and picked him up in a big hug. Daisy started to gently berate her husband for taking so long, “Honey, put me down,” Gabe laughed nervously. “Night, all!” Svetlana called as she and her husband, Corey both slipped away to their abode behind the Hamilton manor. Kimiko was itching to do the same thing, “Maxine?” She grunted quietly at her employer, waiting to be dismissed. “Hm? Oh, yes, of course. Calvin, please make sure my employee gets enough sleep,” She joked to the man with a little smile. He nodded, adjusting his own katana on his hip, “You got it, boss. Kimiko, let’s grab the kids and head to bed,” He seemed just as exhausted as her. “Agreed,” She grunted as she led her husband by the hand to the nursery where her children slept. “Night!” Daisy called as she took Jackson by the hand and started to pull him outside to their car. Jackson quickly thanked Richard for hosting again, “C’mon Ruth! Gabe!” The kobold called to their carpool buddies. “Yeah, yeah,” Ruth sighed as she wrapped her arm around her husband’s shoulders, “Maxine... Uh, good luck with proving Santa’s real.” “What?” Gabe asked but was pulled away before he got an answer from either of them. “What was she on about?” Richard asked as he did some stretches. Maxine shook her head, “No need to worry about it, my dear. Let us be off to bed. I am quite exhausted from the day’s festivities.” “Theodore,” Gwen put her hands on her husband’s shoulders from behind the couch. He straightened up as her hands firmly rubbed his sore muscles, “I am going to take Bridgett to the park before all this snow freezes over.” He nodded, “You got it, dear. Are the babies napping?” Gwen shook her head, “Should be soon, at least,” She handed him the baby monitor, “Be back in a few hours, darling,” She kissed him on the cheek before picking up her warm coat. Bridgett was already ready to go. She wore a wool lined hoodie and shorts. Her natural fiery magic would keep her warm enough. The weresheep took her daughter’s hand and led her down the sidewalk of their little quiet neighborhood. The streets had been plowed and the snow had been shoved aside. The air was too cold for it to melt any time soon, apparently. At least the news had said so. Bridgett picked up a mass of snow in her claws and spewed fire into it, “Look, mom!” She cried as the melting snow slipped between her fingers. “Very nice dear. Just don’t burn down any other children’s snowmen, okay?” Gwen smiled, happy that her daughter would be able to enjoy the snow for once. It was a few days since Gwen had last seen Maxine, Ruth and the others. While she enjoyed her friends’ company, she was still a little peeved over the whole Santa conversation. She tried her best to push it from her mind, not wanting to be upset with her friends over something she considered so childish and silly. The Santa mythos was something for children, she told herself, just like Kimiko said. An old world myth that some magical mamano now clung to for some reason. The few casters that Gwen had known all her life stoody by the strangest ideas! Soon, the two arrived at the park. There were a few other children playing in the field of four inch deep snow, building igloos and snowmen. Gwen made herself comfortable on a bench that some other park goer had dried off before she had arrived. Using the tablet that her husband had given her for her birthday, she began reading a book that had piqued her interests lately. An old science fiction book about a sand planet, giant worms and something called Spice. Although her friends liked to tease her over it, she fully accepted that she was sort of a nerd just like her husband. Ruth held Gabe in her arms as they rested in their little home. He nestled against her warm fur as she breathed hot air onto his neck, “More coco?” He asked quietly as he reached for his own glass of the hot chocolate beverage. She shook her head and squeezed him tight, her head landing on his shoulder as she grumbled to herself, “Wh-what’s gotten into you?” “I’m stressed out,” Ruth suppressed a low growl as she smelled the anxiety of her husband, “Hey, don’t worry about me. I just want this to be your best Christmas yet.” He sighed, “I’ve got you. That’s all I need.” Ruth dropped her arms off of him, “But I want to do more for you.” Gabe carefully slid off of her lap. Gently, he ran his finger tips under her chin, one of her favorite spots to be scratched. A small smile spread across her lips slowly and her ears flattened against her head. She leaned gently and reflexively into his hand, trying to get more chin scratches, “If you want to get me something, I won’t stop you. But I can’t think of anything else I want or need.” “I want it to be a good gift,” She grumbled quietly. Her husband’s hands moved to the top of her head, scratching her behind the ears now. Her fluffy ears twitched and wiggled as her little smile turned into a happy grin. She grabbed his shoulders and forced him onto his back, his head resting on the couch’s leather armrest. He always smelled a little nervous when she manhandled him, but he did his best not to show it. She gripped his head in her large paw hands and forced him to stare her in the eyes, increasing his anxiety a little bit, “I want this to be as special as I can make it. We have the tree, gifts under the tree, decorations on the tree... I feel the need to do more.” “D-do--” He stammered, shut up as Ruth lowered herself onto him, covering him in her body heat, “Do whatever you think would make this special,” He smiled, running his fingers through her hair. Ruth didn’t respond, instead she lay still, absorbed by her thoughts as she pondered what to do. Gwen glanced up from her reading as she heard Bridgett start to argue with someone. Three older kids, all hardly taller than her, told her something that seemed to upset her. The little dragon girl slumped over and with her head hanging, walked to her mother, abandoning her impressive snowman, “Bridgett? What is the matter?” Gwen asked as Bridgett sat next to her on the bench. “Christmas is cancelled,” The dragon grumbled with a sad look on her face. “What happened?” “I’m cancelling Christmas, mom,” She pouted, “No more Christmas.” “Bridgett!” Gwen grabbed her daughter’s shoulder and put her tablet away, “What is it?” “Santas not real. What's the point of it all if Santa isn’t real?” Bridgett demanded angrily, spewing smoke out of her mouth as she usually did when upset. “Bridgett...” Gwen sighed, “Come on. Let’s go home. I think your father is making your favorite for lunch,” She tried to entice the dragon. Still pouting and with her arms folded, Bridgett nodded and offered her claw to her mother, letting her lead her home. Daisy opened her door as the rapping came, “Merry Christmas!” She cheerfully called as she threw the door open. Her large hellhound friend stood in her doorway, “Ruth! Come in! Come in!” Daisy gestured for her to enter, “Jackson’s not home. Went grocery shopping solo. Lemme uh--” Her heart skipped a beat as she saw all the Fuckman comics she had left out. She quickly snatched them up and tried to hide them. Ruth picked up one that she had dropped, “Oh man, issue seven of Fuckman Versus the Loli Menace!” She thumbed through the pages, “Oh, this one’s good. I only read it online. You’ve got quite the collection.” Daisy calmed down slightly as Ruth calmly looked through the raunchy comics, “Heh... Yeah... Jackson thinks they’re funny. But, I uh...” “Y’know they say these are based on true stories?” The hellhound changed the topic. “Of course I do! The in-universe joke is that whoever is making the masks is using these comic book sales to fund their operations against evil!” Ruth emitted a howling laughter, “Oh, god. Don’t tell me you believe in that stuff!” “We’ve BOTH been involved in a shadowy organisation! Our husbands too, to varying degrees!” Daisy snapped, “There’s weird shit in this world!” Ruth giggled some more and shook her head at the snappy kobold, “I know there is. But... Its a little much for me to believe.” “Whatever you say,” She quickly put her comic books away and turned back to her friend, “What’s up? Lookin’ to go on a walk together?” “I need help,” Ruth quickly admitted, “Its about Gabe.” Daisy turned pale, “What is it? What happened? Sit, sit!” She demanded as she plopped down on the couch. The hellhound did the same, “Nothing’s wrong,” She quickly stated as she smelled the kobold’s fear, “I want to do everything in my power to make this Christmas great, but I have no idea what to do.” “Well...” Daisy trailed off, “Um...” “He’s so sweet, I just want to smother him with love and affection.” “Then do that!” “I do that EVERY day! I want to do it every day! But I want-- Need to go above and beyond for this!” Daisy sighed, “How about we go down town? We can window shop I guess. He likes games, right? We can find him some games or something.” “Maybe...” Ruth scratched her chin. “Material goods are how I show my man I love him!” “I thought the blowjobs were,” Ruth grinned as she hurried to the door before Daisy could start to bark at her. “Did something happen?” Theodore asked, setting his things aside as a pouting Bridgett and concerned Gwen stomped inside. “W-well...” Gwen trailed off, unsure how to explain it to her husband as she stripped her down jacket from her body, “Bridgett?” The little dragon stood in the entryway, snow gently falling off her horns and jacket as she stared at the floor with her sad expression. Theodore knelt down in front of her, leaving the babies in their little bouncy seats. He helped his daughter remove her jacket by unzipping it for her, “Princess?” He quietly said her nickname, trying to get her to at least look at him. “You lied,” She growled sadly. “Huh? A-about what?” “Santa! He’s not real! You’ve lied to me all my life!” She sobbed, tears welling in her eyes. She quickly tore off her coat and ran upstairs, slamming the door to her room. Wordlessly, Theodore picked up the coat and took it to the entryway closet, “T-Theodore,” Gwen stammered. She knew that look on her husband’s face all too well. When he had those visions of Emily, when their daughter ran away, when the nightmares wracked him. Gwen gently placed her hands on his shoulders, “I’m right here for you,” She pressed her head against his back, forehead to his neck, before wrapping her arms around him firmly. “Gwen,” He sighed. “Hm?” “She doesn’t hate me, r-right?” “Of course not. She’s a child! She’s overreacting, is all. It-Its a--” She stopped herself from saying ‘phase.’ She knew what happened last time, “Give her some time to cool off. I will talk to her first.” “Thanks. I-I’m gonna go sit down. I think Richard should be calling soon about our dumb game. Foods in the kitchen whenever you wanna eat,” He turned and hugged his wife before moving to the couch, drinking a cold beverage as calmly as he could. With a sigh, Gwen sat with him to keep him company, the only sound in the room was the sound of the twins bouncing in their little rockers. Theodore used Gwen’s shoulder as a pillow, letting her run her hands through his dark hair. “Yo! Theodore!” Richard hollered into his phone as he folded one leg over the other, opening one of the large tomes containing the rules to their pen and paper game. He wasn’t sure what old world game to really compare it to. Dungeons and Dragons wasn’t very close, but it did use a full set of polyhedral dice like good old ‘Dund’ did. It was the most popular pen and paper right now since there were rules to play as nearly any race of mamano. Though only one of the five players, Richard being the Game Master, was playing as a mamano, it was still a good system. Gabe was playing as a hellhound that was definitely derivative of his wife. Maxine sat next to her husband as she idly prepared spells within her tome. “Hey,” Theodore grunted into his phone. Maxine’s ears perked up as she heard his sad tone through her husband’s phone. “Have you been reading through your options? I’ve only talked to Gabe so far and it sounds like he’s picked up some fire based spell casting. Are you still considering more points in lock picking?” “Maybe...” He sighed quietly, completely distracted. “Well--” Maxine hissed in a whisper, “Ask him if he’s okay!” Richard blinked, “Huh? Uh, alright. You doing alright, man?” “Eh,” He mumbled into the phone, “Bridgett’s upset at me. Some older kids at the park told her that Santa isn’t real. She’s mad I’ve been ‘lying’ to her all this time,” Theodore explained quietly. He glanced up from the RPG book at Bridgett who sat in the living room near her sibling’s playpen, playing with little cars, running them into blocks. She had been sulking since she had returned from the park, not even speaking at the table, “She wants us to take the tree and all the decorations down, acting like there's no point to any of it.” “But Santa IS real!” Maxine cried in frustration, “I’ll bet Gwen had something to do with this.” “Gwen wouldn’t do that,” Richard calmly explained to his wife. “She wouldn’t,” Theodore agreed, “I just don’t know what to do.” Maxine leapt up from the couch, new determination flowing through her, “Where are you going?” Richard asked as she started to dash from the room. “I have to prepare for something!” “Prepare...?” Richard was left to wonder what she meant, but he didn’t dare stop her. Not even the magical ink in his skin would give him the power to do that. Ruth huffed, “Nothing good,” She picked up another game and put it back down, “I have no idea what he likes either,” She growled at herself. She was in a small game store with Daisy trailing her as she wandered the shelves. Every nerd in the store hid from the hellhound, terrified for their pelvises. Ruth ignored them, too focused on the task at hand. “Just pick out a good looking one or three,” Daisy sighed, exhausted already. She rubbed her swollen belly through her thick jacket. “But what if he doesn’t like it!? Or he already has it!?” She snapped at her friend. Daisy bared her sharp teeth in frustration, “Then he can return it! Exchange it! Who gives a single shit!” She barked. Ruth was unphased, “I give one! You think I WANT to make him do that!?” Daisy glared at the hellhound, “I’m going home. I didn’t come here to be yelled at by you.” “Daisy,” Ruth sighed, dropping everything she was carrying on a shelf and following her best friend outside, “Daisy!” She called, grabbing the stomping kobold’s shoulder. Daisy swung around. She had tears in her eyes, a few gliding down her red rosy cheeks, “I want this to be a good Christmas too! But everyone is fighting and no one’s in the spirit! I want a happy holiday!” She started to cry in the middle of the dimly lit sidewalk. The two of them had been out almost all day. Ruth frowned and wrapped her arms around the kobold, “I’m sorry. I haven’t been a very good friend today. I keep snapping at you. I’m just so... Damn stressed.” Daisy hugged her back, “I know you are. Come on. We should go home. You’ve got a few more days till Christmas anyways.” “At least I got some other shopping done,” Ruth figured with a long, defeated sigh. “Get anything good for lil’ Bridge!?” Daisy excitedly asked, quite proud of the gift she had gotten for her. “Eh, just one of those foam dart guns,” Ruth shrugged, “It’s what she told me she wants.” “She told me she wanted Legos!” Daisy laughed, finally in a good mood, “How about we get Gabe and bring him to my place? I’ll make you both a nice pre Christmas dinner! I made rolls just yesterday!” “I’d like that,” Ruth smiled, glad that she had moved into the same neighborhood as her friend a few months back. “I pray you are not serious,” Kimiko growled at Maxine, “You really plan on showing our friends that Santa is real?” “I am very much serious and I do,” The witch replied, lounging in the barber seat as the green scaled lamia, Morrigan, carefully cut her hair with a pair of scissors, “Bridgett, Gwen, Daisy, Svetlana, Ruth... You. All of you need more Christmas joy in your lives.” “I am exhibiting enough Christmas joy,” Kimiko grunted. “You are not even wearing a Christmas sweater!” Morrigan laughed. She wore a thick ‘ugly’ sweater underneath her apron. “My kimono is festive enough,” It was red and white imprinted with a floral pattern and held together with a bright green sash, “Do I need to find a sword with a red blade and green hilt as well?” “Why are you so resistant to this?” Maxine asked with a sigh. “The cunt probably thinks she’s on the goddamn naughty list!” A small voice cried. A small fairy with orange hair and a green and red striped dress flew into view. “Fíon!” Morrigan smiled, “I didn’t hear you come in. Please, make yourself comfortable. I should be done soon.” “It is not that, you foul-mouthed fairy,” Kimiko calmly explained. “Then what is it, bitch? Hm? I fucking love Christmas!” Fíon twirled in the air, leaving a trail of sparkling Christmas colored fairy dust behind her, “This shit is the best! Except the fact that the cold can freeze my wings.” Kimiko groaned, wanting to just ignore the fairy, “Kimiko?” Maxine asked as her hair cut was finished, Morrigan had shortened it up so it was ready once more for her trademark short and messy appearance. For now it was at least somewhat styled. “Yes, ma’am,” The jinko responded, standing up straight as Morrigan vacuumed all the loose hair from the witch’s clothes. For once, she was in a loose shirt and jeans that she easily filled out. She gave the samurai an expectant look, “You wish to know? Hm?” Kimiko uttered quietly, “I will tell you in private,” She gave both Fíon and Morrigan shifty looks. “Bah humbug!” Fíon mocked her in her best Scrooge voice making both Morrigan and Maxine giggle. Kimiko said nothing, easily maintaining her composure. “Ah, Morrigan, before I forget,” Maxine reached into her pockets and produced a small wrapped package that was much too large to have been actually in her tiny pockets. She quickly handed it to the snake woman. “Oh, Maxine,” She graciously took it, “You didn’t have to!” “None of that!” Maxine laughed, “Just doing my part to spread a bit of cheer. Fíon, before you complain, this is for you,” She grabbed something else within her magical deep pockets. A nice bottle of bourbon sealed with red wax. The bottle was much larger than the fairy. Fíon snatched it up quickly, “Oh! You shouldn’t have!” The fairy laughed, “Well, I shouldn’t say that. Because you absolutely fucking should have! Consider me officially infected with the Christmas cheer!” “Good! Both of you have a wonderful day and a merry Christmas,” Maxine bowed slightly in a polite way before grabbing her thick coat and walking out of the little barber shop and into the snowy streets. Kimiko was right behind her, tugging her somewhat loose kimono around herself. Through years of diligent training, her body was immune to all but the most extreme conditions. She grabbed the door to the horse drawn carriage that would ferry them back to her estate and pulled it open for the witch, “Thank you, Kimiko.” “Of course, ma’am,” Kimiko grunted as she climbed in after her. The carriage driver cracked the whip, signaling the horses to start moving. Kimiko was forced to hunch over due to her size, resting her arms on her knees as she sat across from her employer. “So?” Maxine pressed gently, trying to get an answer out of Kimiko. Her curiosity was killing her. Kimiko sighed, “I do not believe in Santa, Maxine. While I do enjoy the mythos like I said a few days ago, I do not and cannot believe that he is real.” “Why not!?” Maxine demanded, broken hearted to hear another of her friends was a Santa denier. She grumbled, “Last year I received nothing from Jolly Saint Nick. No coal even.” “No...” Maxine slouched in her seat as she stared into her friend’s sad face, “H-he has to be. I got something from him and I know it wasn’t given to me by my husband. He brought my husband something too.” “Maxine,” Kimiko sighed, “I do not know what to tell you.” “I just have to prove it to you too!” Maxine decided, “I need to make some calls. I need materials and gear.” “Good luck with your mission, ma’am,” Kimiko sank in her seat, unsure if she was really feeling the holiday spirit any more. “Good luck?” Maxine scoffed before beginning to cackle, “Why, you’re coming with me, of course!” Kimiko looked at her employer. Knowing she didn’t have a choice, she merely nodded. Ruth jogged down the street. Hundreds of thoughts in her head were drowned out by the music being blasted into her ears. All of her worries and fears were starting to get overwhelming. Daisy was no help. To make it worse, she was starting to feel sick and was putting on a bit of weight. It must have been all the stress. These morning jogs were hopefully going to keep that away. She stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the walk signal. Cars and carriages slowly coasted through the lights. Keeping her momentum, Ruth did some stretches, bringing one of her ankles up to her butt behind her and holding it there. Her athletic pants clung to her legs as did her track jacket to her torso. The cold snow didn’t bother her much, even if she was almost barefoot. She only wore thin sandals just to keep her feet clean. As her legs stopped moving, her brain started thinking. No matter what she started thinking about, it always turned back to her husband. Usually, she worried about Gabe, and she still did, but on top of that she was also worried about Christmas. To make matters worse, she only had three days to pick something out. She had already gotten him numerous things that he had deliberately told her that he wanted, but she still felt a profound need to do more. Something unexpected. Everything else was something he asked for. A very pleasant surprise! That's what she wanted to do! Ruth was so entrapped in thought that she didn’t notice that the signal to walk had changed. She still needed guidance, she decided silently, maybe someone wiser than Daisy could help me? The oldest of the friend group. She had to have some kind of guidance. Gwen sat up straight as a loud knock came from the door, “Bridgett, would you get that, dear?” Bridgett solemnly nodded before quietly stepping towards the door. Gwen was trying to enjoy her time off of work, but with her husband and her daughter both in horrible moods, Christmas cheer was hard to come by. Bridgett was still mad and didn’t want anything to do with Christmas now. Theodore was almost non responsive now, merely nodding and shaking his head when questioned. “Hey kiddo,” Gwen heard as the door opened, “Gwen around?” The husky voice asked. “Mom’s in the living room...” Bridgett grumbled before walking away from the front door. “Uh... Alright.” “I am in here, Ruth!” Gwen called from the couch she sat on. Ruth carefully stepped into the room, slipping off her sandals in the entryway, “What brings you here, Ruth? Is everything alright?” “Oh... Just on a jog, ya’ know? Thought I’d swing by and see the kids,” She knelt down by the twin’s playpen and where Bridgett was playing with cars and blocks. She stared at the babies and they stared back with big goofy smiles on their faces as they chewed on their toys. She was filled with an intense desire to have her own children, just like every time she interacted with her friends’ children. Ruth turned to Bridgett to try and cheer her up a little bit by playing blocks with her, “Which car’s your favorite?” The hellhound asked. “Uhm...” She perked up a little bit. She picked up a red truck with a few scratches in the paint, “This one goes fast. Dad says its because its really heavy. It used to be his.” “That’s really cool! How about this one?” Ruth picked up a new looking, sleek black car and dragged it across the floor. Bridgett gave her a look like she was an idiot, “Its not fast. Its no good.” “O-oh.” Gwen stifled her laughter, “You cannot have come here just to play with Bridgett, Ruth. What is it you and Daisy call her? Lil’ Bridg’?” The dragon girl started to angrily spew smoke from her mouth at the mention of her lovingly given nickname. “W-what?” Ruth tried to shrug it off, “Only Daisy calls her that! Where’s the man of the house, Ted?” “Theodore is getting some work done, he has been a bit behind recently. Are you trying to change topics on me?” Gwen asked slowly, “Ruth, what is wrong?” “W-well...” Ruth trailed off, “I guess I need a little help. Its about Gabe.” “Oh dear,” The weresheep frowned, “Come sit with me. Bridgett, be a dear and get her some water, please.” “Okay,” Bridgett was quick to move to the kitchen to find a cup. “She’s so big,” Ruth mumbled, “She’s gonna get bigger than me!” She chuckled. “Bigger than you?” Gwen pondered for a moment, “I do not know. You are quite large for a hellhound already, but--” She turned to the hellhound, a half glare staining her face, “Ruth. Tell me what is wrong.” “Well...” “Out with it.” “Okay, okay!” She looked down at her hands, “I-I’m stressing out over what I should do for my husband for Christmas. Daisy’s been teaching me some good recipes for the day of, I’ve gotten him a bunch of stuff from his list, but I just want to do something extra!” “Ruth, I think you are overthinking this.” “He means the world to me, Gwen!” She snapped. She saw the hurt in the weresheep’s eyes, “I’m sorry. I’ve been having these mood swings, I-I-I’m so stressed, a-and I haven’t been sleeping well, and I feel sick all the time...” “Ruth, its okay,” Gwen put a hand on her shoulder gently. “I just want to make him happy,” Ruth held back her tears as all of her stress and anxiety came to a head. She wanted to cry, vomit and scream all at the same time. Gwen wanted to offer her physical comfort, but wasn’t sure if she should pet her ears or what. Instead, she gripped the hellhound’s shoulder tightly, “I know why you are stressed. I had similar issues when I first married Theodore. But I know both of you, Gabe loves you. Whatever you get him will make him happy, I am sure of it.” “B-but what if I mess it up?” “Give him lots of hugs and kisses,” Bridgett chimed in, “Mom and dad do that a lot and it makes them happy,” Ruth took the water from her and sipped on it slowly, “You can call it Christmas kisses and--” Bridgett’s jolly mood instantly died at the mention of the holiday. Ruth’s need to protect started to overwhelm her own worries, “What’s got ya down, kid?” “Christmas is cancelled,” Bridgett put simply before storming away to her room. “Poor girl,” Ruth frowned, “Christmas seems to be dead for everyone but Maxine.” “Even she seems worn down by the rest of us,” Gwen grumbled, “I just wanted a happy holiday for my family and friends. I feel as though I’ve caused this. I’ve ruined the holidays for everyone.” “Its just a bad year for all of us. Those revolts in other parts of the world... War is looming--” “No! There will be no utterances of such things!” Gwen demanded, “I am terrified my little girl is going to be caught up in it.” “Hey,” Ruth put a hand on her friend’s shoulder, “Trust in the Maou’s strength. That’s the most you and I can do. I should get going. I’ve been enough of a downer on you for one day.” “You put a smile on my daughter’s face. I had not seen that for some time, Ruth. Thank you for that. Get home safe, would you?” Gwen asked as she saw the hellhound out. “Of course I will. No one would dare tangle with a hellhound, ya know?” Ruth chuckled. Daisy panted, struggling as she tried to cook. She felt heavy. Her stomach was quite large and she felt like she could burst any day now. She wiped her flour covered hands off on the shirt she wore. Although it belonged to her husband, it was a bit fitting on her now thanks to her now shapely body and swollen stomach. She grunted, almost in pain as she tried to mix the dough by hand. She would have been sweating if she could, but dog girls like her and Ruth lacked that ability. Luckily panting usually got the job done. As of now, her body was so taxed that she always felt hot. Only the cold of the winter air could help her at this time. She put the mixer down, “Jackson!” She called her husband as she plopped down into a chair, “Jackson!” She hollered again. Jackson left his tools out as he dashed from his reloading table. He slammed the door as he exited the garage and ran into the kitchen, “What!?” He knelt down next to where she sat, one hand going to her belly and the other to the top of her head, scratching her behind the ears in an effort to calm her down. “I love you,” Daisy smiled weakly. Jackson sighed, his wildly beating heart slowly calming down, “I love you too, Daisy,” He smiled as he scratched her under the chin, “I’ll finish the bread. You need to rest.” “N-no... I--” “If not for your sake, then the baby’s.” “For the baby’s sake?” Daisy laughed, “I...” She grunted as she felt a powerful kick, “O-okay... I’ll take a break. But I want you to take a break when you’re done.” “I will, dear. I’ll finish up that order for .45 tomorrow,” Jackson picked her up in a bridal carry and took her to the couch as her tail wagged and she stared at him lovingly. He slowly bundled her in a thick blanket and put the TV remote in her hand, “Rest. Please,” He begged. “Think I’ll give birth soon?” “You’re so excited for that, huh?” Jackson chuckled as he returned to the kitchen. He couldn't let Daisy know his worry and stress over it, “I’m sure you will. You’ve been pregnant for a while now,” He mused as he stripped himself of his dirty apron and gloves. He cleaned himself and got to work on the dough. “My little Christmas baby... I think its gonna be a boy, my stomach is so big.” “What are you planning for him? Think he’ll take up the sword like Kimiko’s children? A spellbook like Maxine’s?” “Maybe he can have what you might consider a normal life?” “An office job?” Jackson spat, “No son of mine is going to waste away in a nine to five like that. I’ve worked too hard for him to have to do that. He’ll work at the range or pick up a trade. I’ve been meaning to get into gunsmithing. Maybe he could take it up after me.” Daisy frowned, “I just want him to be safe.” “You’re afraid of him ending up like Calvin. A man trapped between two lives. Grueling office work and the blade.” “O-or Gabe. I love that man, he’s so kind, but he wastes away doing almost nothing all day.” “Daisy. He has numerous hobbies. He’s not doing nothing all day.” Daisy grumbled and settled into the couch, “Ruth coddles him too much.” “And I coddle YOU too much!” Jackson teased as he put the dough in the fridge to rise. Daisy turned on the TV to drown out his teasing. “A pinch of this,” Maxine murmured to herself as she toiled over a pestle and mortar. Her crystal ball shimmered nearby, idly showing her visions of those she usually spied-- checked in on. Ruth jogging, Gwen in a bad mood, Daisy lounging with her husband. Maxine paid it no mind as she focused on her spells. She needed a way to the North Pole. A helicopter or plane wouldn’t do, but she was struggling for once. She hadn’t struggled like this since she first devised the spell that would transport her from her homeworld to this one, “A little bit of that,” She whispered as she poured a handful of mana infused salts into the stone bowl. Svetlana stood near the wall of the basement, watching her friend work as she prepared to help any way she could. She silently refilled the witch’s cup of tea so that she could wet her hoarse throat. The large basement that Maxine stewed and toiled in once served as her bedroom, but was now only her personal workspace and library full of books in script that few could read and fewer could write. The windows were all closed and the curtains were pulled. The only light cast upon the room was from the magical candle sticks that blazed colors of green and red. Kimiko sat on the floor, legs crossed as she took the time offered to her to meditate. Her sword lay on her lap, not in its sheath, as she ran through mental exercises. She found herself wondering again if she had the strength and diligence to keep up with Maxine’s antics. As both Maxine’s mother and the demon known ‘Mother’ that had mothered Gwen had decided, Kimiko was the best fit for the job of watching over Maxine. Her diligent training all of her life allowed her to push most of her personal needs away and all of her wants. Her focus was on those around her that needed her aid. She had given Calvin her aid first and now she was tasked with guarding the witch, not to mention her own children. She smirked, remembering that she had to trick Calvin into becoming hers. “Ah!” Maxine yelped as the potent ingredients exploded. Svetlana and Kimiko both leapt to her side, “Maxine!?” Svetlana shouted loudly as worry coursed through her heart. Maxine merely laughed it off as she wiped her soot covered face with her scarred hand, “Oh, what a rush!” She cried as she cackled again. Svetlana sighed and used a damp cloth to wipe the soot from her friend’s face while Kimiko brushed the soot from the witch’s robes, “It is quite strange. I have not had such trouble with a spell for a long time,” Maxine mused aloud as the two women cleaned her. She pulled away from them before either finished dusting her off. Streaks of soot still lined her face as she began to write with her own script in a leather bound book, “It is as if the north is shrouded in a veil. My powerful scrys cannot pierce the snowy blizzards. Even my master and hers would struggle to view it.” “What does that mean?” Svetlana timidly asked, “Can you pierce it as you once pierced through worlds?” “Mayhaps. I only have a few days until Christmas, afterall.” “We have little time, Maxine,” Kimiko grunted, “What can I do to help?” “I have few favors left to my name. But I suppose I must call most of them in. There are terrible magics afoot, my friends.” “Evil? Or terribly strong?” Kimiko pondered aloud. “Both. Something like this, a coven of baphomets and witches may be involved.” “Then you are in luck. I am trained against all things evil and the ability to ward it off,” Kimiko rubbed her chin, “Perhaps I have some friends that could aid us. Or my husband’s friends, more precisely.” “Rest a bit, please, Maxine. I’ve seen you push yourself too hard too many times,” Svetlana pleaded with her friend. Maxine scoffed, “Fine. I will rest. Tomorrow morning I will call upon whomever I can to aid me.” “We also have that white elephant exchange tomorrow,” The kikimora reminded her. “Everyone is so down. I wonder if we should postpone,” Kimiko proposed, “Wait until we all feel the spirit.” Maxine rubbed her chin, “Can’t delay ‘till Christmas eve. Most of us are seeing family that day. I think we’re going to be skipping it, girls.” “I’m sure mom will understand,” Svetlana shrugged. “Oh, thank the Maou. This is the first time I have been happy to be caught up in your schemes!” Kimiko laughed. “No love for Calvin’s parents?” “Of course I love them. But they can be a little long winded. It will save me the headache.” “Both of you, our preparations should be complete in two days. Be ready for transport then,” Maxine ordered, dismissing both with a handwave. “Hopefully we can make it home in time for Christmas morning,” Svetlana murmured to herself as she stepped from the room. “Are you sure it is wise to bring her?” Kimiko asked quietly. “Of course!” Maxine nodded, “What dangers will there be in Santa’s workshop?” “Fair enough. Good night, ma’am.” Ruth lay in bed, wrapped in blankets, “Sick on Christmas Eve,” She whimpered, feeling bad for herself. Gabe had demanded she rest this morning due to her nausea. At least Maxine, Svetlana and Kimiko had needed to reschedule, so she didn’t feel bad about having to cancel on the white elephant exchange. Gabe returned to the bedroom, a disposable mask over his face at the hellhound’s request, “Here’s your soup,” He smiled as he put the bed tray on her hips, “Some crackers too.” “I don’t want to make a mess in bed,” She whined in response as she picked up one of the Saltines. “I-I can wash the sheets. Just eat, please.” Ruth started to grumble again but quickly began to eat the food that had been prepared for her, “I’m sorry,” The hellhound whimpered quietly, “This has to all be really disappointing for you. Our first Christmas together and I’m sick.” Gabe smiled, “I’m not mad, Ruth. A-As long as you don’t die, I’m sure we’ll still have a good time.” Ruth could smell the anxiety on her husband. He was good at not showing his emotions on his face, but he could not completely hide how he felt from the hellhound. She could only guess what had him so worried. Her sickness, perhaps? Maybe he was just as worried about Christmas day as she was. He stood at the bedside prepared to aid Ruth however he could. She downed the broth after eating all of the noodles, “Thanks,” She grumbled quietly, passing the dishes back to her husband. He dutifully took them and left the room, quickly headed to the kitchen. Ruth sat up, pulling the once loose sweats she wore up on her hips. She felt like she was getting wider as the sweats were getting tighter. She wondered if she was getting fat, “Tell me the truth, am I getting fat?” She asked Gabe as soon as he returned. “I know your boobs have gotten a lot bigger. A-and those hips... I-I mean...” He stammered as the anxiety emanated from his body, “Those are child birthing hips, Ruth.” Ruth started to glare, “So I am fat!?” She shouted as her mood shifted violently. “No! That's not what I’m saying!” He tried to plead with her. Ruth felt a surge of emotions, guilt for snapping at the man that loves her the most, great sadness that she would get angry with him over this, and a mountain of anger towards herself for never finding a gift for her husband. Ruth suddenly had a massive surge of energy and a flash heat, “I-I-I need to run. I need to go outside. I-I’m suffocating in here. I’ll be back,” She stammered as she frantically got out of bed. “Ruth!” Gabe jumped in front of the doorway, blocking her, “What’s going on? Have I done something wrong!? Just tell me, please!” He begged with tears in his eyes. Ruth put her arms under his and picked him up in a big firm hug. She turned, removing him from the doorway and gently putting him down, “I-I just need a bit to myself,” Gabe was silent, his worry taking hold and keeping him from speaking his mind. He walked with her to the front door, staring at his feet the whole time. After putting her sandals on, Ruth gently grabbed her husband’s chin and planted a kiss on his forehead, “Don’t worry so much, please,” Ruth whispered before stepping out the door. “It is done!” Maxine shouted as she brought the stone bowl to her nose. She took a whiff of the foul mixture and scrunched up her face. “Maxine!” Svetlana cried as the witch shook herself. She merely cackled in response, “Be more careful!” “Bah!” “Svetlana is right, ma’am,” Kimiko scolded, “Should you spill the mixture, we shall not make it in time.” “This mixture has been too costly to make. I would not spill it!” Maxine moved the components to two containers made of vellum from a calf. She had two uses of it, enough to send them to the north pole and return them home. Its creation had been the joint effort of many. Kimiko had proposed the usage of a certain magical plant from Zipangu which helped crack through a layer of the protection that the aid of her sabbath friends had not been able to. Maxine’s master had given her some potent herbs for the mixture as had her own master. A few other helpful witches and wizards gave what little guidance and aid they could to the young cat witch, “Come along,” She ordered as they made for the garden. The samurai and the maid both followed. Kimiko wore her usual winter garb, merely a thick kimono with her swords at the ready. This one was green with white trim and a white sash around her waist. “Kimiko, here!” Svetlana giddily and without warning wrapped a thick red scarf around the jinko’s neck, “You look so festive in those colors!” The kikimora wore a thick coat with an ugly christmas sweater with a depicting cartoon Santa over it. Her pants were thick too, forcing her to waddle as she moved about. The maid had a massive smile on her face as she followed Maxine outside. She felt only excitement as she walked into the garden. Maxine ran her hands over her black robes. It was enchanted with a light heating spell which went well with her warm sweater that she wore under them, “What do you both expect when we get there?” She excitedly asked as she stepped through her mother’s well kept garden. There was no snow in the garden as it was protected by Maxine’s magic. A place where flowers, strawberries, pumpkins and various other plants grew year round, unaffected by the cold or winds that would kill most plants this time of year. “The cold,” Kimiko put bluntly. “Festive lights! Oh! I hope we see the Aurora Borealis!” Svetlana chirped excitedly. “Maxine!” A man cried as he came running out of the house. “Richard...” Maxine trailed off as she faced her husband, “Do not try to stop me! My mind is already made up.” “No, I’m not trying to stop you,” He grunted, “Just... Stay safe. Okay? We don’t know what's really up there.” “Trust in my blade, Young Lord Hamilton,” Kimiko bowed, “I shall keep the Young Lady safe.” “I pray for your sake that you plan on protecting Svetlana as well. Corey will have your head if she gets hurt,” Richard grunted. “I trust in her blade!” The maid pouted, “We will be fine, Richard!” “I hope you’re right. Its not like Santa would attack you,” He rubbed his forehead, “Alright, alright,” He gripped Maxine’s shoulders and gently kissed her forehead, “Good luck, Maxy.” “Thank you, my dear. Let you be at ease until my return,” Maxine grinned at him and caressed his cheek, “Our return, I mean.” “I’ll rest and try to keep myself busy. I’ll go help Corey and his mother-in-law prepare for tomorrow’s feast,” Richard slowly left, leaving the three girls to their magic. “Maxine, now is the time,” Kimiko warned, “We do not have the time to delay much longer.” Maxine nodded and moved to the stone tiled pavilion where she usually teleported from. The magical runes encircling the area glowed gently at their master’s approach. Their power served to bolster Maxine’s teleportation magic and act as a place to more easily teleport to. Maxine placed one bag of components within a large stone bowl atop a small ornate pillar, “Are you both prepared?” Svetlana nodded excitedly and Kimiko nodded with a bit of nervousness in her heart. Maxine tapped her staff on the ground, igniting the aether crystal on the top. She touched the magic crystal to the magical ingredients and began to utter the magic words. Her clothes and that of her allies billowed in the wind as the aetheric winds of magic began to blow. Gwen sat alone on the couch. The only joy in the house seemed to be from the two little babbling babies. Despite the red, green and silver decorations and numerous lights, she felt very little cheer for the holidays. Theodore silently tapped away on his tablet, even if it was Christmas eve he kept doing his work silently. Gwen was just glad he was finally speaking to her. Bridgett wouldn’t speak to either of them, still mad about ‘being lied to’ about Santa. Both Gwen and Theodore had tried to explain to her that the Santa myth was just supposed to be something fun but she refused to listen to either of them. All three snapped to attention as the doorbell rang, “Bridgett? Would you please?” The little dragon nodded solemnly, paused her game and trudged to the front door. As she opened it, she heard a startling cry, “Merry Christmas!” A group shouted as the door opened. Gwen leapt up and hurried to the door. Bridgett growled before she could get there, “Christmas is cancelled!” She shouted and tried to slam the door. The weresheep grabbed it, “Bridgett! I have told you many times how rude it is to slam the door on someone,” Bridgett stormed off, stomping on the hardwood floors and spewing a trail of smoke from her mouth, “I am so sorry,” Gwen sighed as she looked out the door. She was amazed to see eight people on her doorstep and that she recognized most of them. Her hairdresser, Morrigan, a lamia that also cut Maxine and Daisy’s hair and her husband. The loud and foulmouthed fairy, Fíon who worked for Gwen as well as the fairy’s husband. A harpy named Eve that was friends with Daisy. Eve’s husband was desperately trying to keep her from crying. Two others stood with them, a gargoyle and a medusa with green scales. Each person was bundled up, double so for the two snake ladies, and each person held sheet music in their hands. “I don’t want Christmas-Holiday to be cancelled!” Eve sobbed loudly. One of her wings was in a sling like it usually was. She hadn’t broken her wing in a long time, but felt a need to wear it to keep herself from flying. “Christmas isn’t cancelled!” Her husband insisted. “Eve, Bridgett is just in a bad mood,” Gwen explained as Theodore slowly walked to her side, “She’s not in the spirit this year. Christmas is not cancelled. It never will be.” “Oh!” Eve instantly calmed down and wiped her face on her husband’s coat, “Christmas-Holiday is back on!” “Sheesh,” Fíon grunted quietly, “I thought Kimiko was a damn grouch, but...” “Poor thing,” Morrigan sighed sadly, “I hope you two are doing well at least.” Theodore shrugged, “The only joy in this house is my two babies. Its been kinda rough. I don’t think I know you two,” He glanced at the medusa and gargoyle. Fíon cleared her throat, “This bitch is Cleo,” She pointed at the sad looking medusa, “and that bitch is Tera,” She gestured to the gargoyle, “Some of mine and Morrigan’s drinking buddies.” “Fíon talks a lot about ya, Gwen,” Tera grinned then both she and Cleo started to snicker knowingly. The fairy’s cheeks turned red with embarrassment. “I am glad to see that someone is still out trying to give out Christmas cheer this year,” Gwen sighed sadly, “Hopefully you are having luck.” Cleo nodded, her snakes coiling tight to her head underneath the wool beanie she wore, “Its been a lot of fun! Not meeting any boys like Fíon said we would, but no one has slammed the door on us! ...Except for your daughter.” “Sorry about that,” Theodore smiled weakly. “Can we do the... uh... Singing-caroling now?” Eve asked excitedly. “Yes, please,” Gwen smiled, “We need a bit of cheer today.” Kimiko’s hand tightly gripped the hilt of her sword as the air was forcefully torn from her lungs by the teleportation process. She always hated teleporting, but she was somewhat used to the stretching and squashing that was involved in the process. She shuddered as the cold bit her skin. She was expecting a blizzard like Maxine had kept viewing through her scrying, but thankfully, the air was calm, “Grr,” The samurai grunted as she steeled her nerves and pushed the cold from her mind. “Look!” Maxine shouted, “Is that...” She peered through the dark of night, “A warehouse?” “That doesn’t look very Christmas-y,” Svetlana complained, “What is that?” Kimiko identified it with a glance, “An airfield. With numerous hangers. Big trucks seem to be moving something to them. Perhaps there are planes in there? Maybe they are transporting something from these warehouses. Maxine, please do not tell me you have teleported us into a secret government base.” “No, no, no, that cannot be!” Maxine stomped her foot in the deep snow, “This has to be it! Come on! I am NOT leaving until we find Santa!” Svetlana quickly started to waddle after Maxine as she stormed towards the warehouse. Kimiko’s eyes and senses were peeled, scanning the area for any signs of danger. She was not too concerned for Maxine’s safety. There had been a few times where kidnappers had attempted to abscond with Maxine, and the witch would easily defend herself with her spells and tricks. She was only a little slowed down by her pregnancy. She was worried about the maid, at least. Although she was not a high value person, Svetlana would need protecting, especially because of her swollen belly “Hmph,” The samurai grunted as she stopped to shake off her wooden sandals during each of her long strides. The three girls stomped to one of the doors. The kikimora tried it, “Locked!” She whined, “I want out of this cold!” “Step aside,” Maxine uttered some magic words and touched the door, “Try now.” Svetlana pulled it open, “Yes!” She tripped as she tried to step onto the concrete floor and out of the snow. She managed to catch herself, but struggled to rise thanks to her swollen belly. Kimiko looked around once more. She spotted a spot or two that seemed like someone had been standing in for some time. She stepped inside after Maxine and picked the maid up off the floor, “I do not like this, Maxine,” She warned quietly. “You are being too worrisome!” Maxine looked around the dim warehouse, “Wooooooow!” She looked at the mountains of colorfully wrapped presents. There was an uncountable number of them. Maxine dashed over to a pile and looked at some of the name tags, “These HAVE to be the gifts Santa will deliver all over the world tonight!” “No way!” Svetlana ran to join her, “Where’s mine!? I want to shake it! I have to know!” “Svetlana! Don’t!” Maxine’s warning came too late. The kikimora grabbed a random box. A few presents from the top of the pile rolled down. She tried to put it back, which only made it worse. The pile rumbled as colorful boxes slowly tumbled down towards the two girls. Kimiko grabbed the back of their clothes and pulled them away from the impending avalanche of presents. The witch pulled the brim of her hat over her eyes, unable to watch as the gifts tumbled down in a loud crash. Kimiko sighed, “Be more careful! What if someone had heard that!” Svetlana sniffled, “I’m sorry!” She sobbed as she fell to her knees. “There!” A voice growled from the other side of the warehouse. Numerous people ran down a path between the piles of gifts. “Intruders!” They formed a half circle quickly, trapping Maxine, Svetlana and Kimiko between them and the wall. A larger girl with a flaming lizard tail stood at the center of the half circle, “Surrender yourselves peacefully,” She ordered with a growl as she drew her long sword. Kimiko glanced back at Maxine. The witch helped her friend up and gave a stern look to the samurai. She simply nodded, giving her the order. With a sigh, the jinko drew her katana and pointed it at the salamander, “I can assure you,” She resheathed her sword and took a low stance, gripping the hilt of her sword as her tail flicked from side to side, “We will not go peacefully.” Jackson set a big plate on the coffee table in front of Daisy. She grunted and whined as she frantically went for the cut up apples, cheese, peanut butter and crackers that her husband had laid out on the table for her. Jackson merely watched as his wife devoured the food that she had desperately craved. Cheese and peanut butter on top of a salty cracker with a bitter slice of apple following behind it. She groaned as she chewed, “So good!” She shouted before downing some grape juice. “P-please don’t choke,” Jackson stammered at her, “I’m too scared to perform the heimlich maneuver on you. What if I hurt the baby?” Daisy ignored him, “Rub my belly,” She growled, “Now!” Jackson quickly sat next to her, rubbing her stomach with one hand as she lay back, content and with a full belly. Her tail wagged as she leaned on her husband, “You’re so sweet, rubbing my tummy on command,” She grinned, “I love my husband~” “He loves you back,” Jackson sighed, “We should get you to bed. You can watch TV there.” “I don’t wannaaaaaaa!” Daisy whined as she rolled away from him. “Daisy, come on. Stop being a baby.” “But what about my baby? I have to eat more peanut butter for him!” “Okay,” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “But afterwards, a warm bath and a nice warm bed. Then, we can open presents together tomorrow,” He gently pet Daisy’s head, “And we’ll see your parents tomorrow, right?” “Jackson...” Daisy was panting, “S-somethings wrong...” “Huh?” He glanced down at her sweats. They were soaked, “Oh, shit! Did your water break!?” He tried and failed to stay calm, “How do you feel!?” “Uuuugh,” Daisy groaned as she grabbed her stomach, “It hurts... T-the contractions...” “I’m taking you to the doctor,” Jackson decided as he ran his hand over her head, “You’ll be alright, Daisy,” She cried out in pain as she felt more contractions. Without another word, Jackson picked her up in his arms and carefully dashed to the car. He loaded her in the front seat and buckled her in before jumping into the driver seat and pulling out of the garage, “Just hold it in, Daisy. I’ll hurry.” “Call Ruth! My best friend has to knowwwww!” Daisy demanded before crying out in pain again at the contractions, “Call mom too! Call my sisters! Oh, fuck, just call EVERYONE!” Jackson nodded and sped down the street, “You’ll be okay sweetie, just stay calm,” He was just as scared as she was. He was at least thankful that not many people were out at this time. He glanced at her, “J-just hold it?” He pleaded, looking back to the road just in time to swerve as a slow carriage inching out into the road, “Son of a bitch!” He sneered, holding himself back from honking at the careless driver. “Jaaaaacksoooon!” Daisy cried while grabbing at his arm. He idly gave her his hand as he ran a yellow light, seconds before it turned red, “Oh, Jackson,” She gripped his hand. He wheezed as she nearly crushed his bones. He grit his teeth and endured the pain for her. She cried out again, “I can feel the baby! He wants out!” “Hang on!” Jackson grunted as he hardly slowed down at a stop sign, “Fucking bikers in the road!” He growled, half because his wife was breaking his hand and half out of frustration as he swerved around two lovers on a tandem bicycle. Daisy started to laugh, “You’re really funny when you’re mad!” “There! The hospital!” He shouted as he ran a red. Within moments, he sloppily pulled into a parking space and hopped out. He pushed the pain in his own hand out of his mind and grabbed Daisy before running inside. She cried out again as the contractions made her body shudder once more. Kimiko sneered as she deflected two blows, one from each of her assailants. Lizard women, minotaurs, amazonians and men lay at the jinko’s feet, “Is that the best you can do?” She cracked a small, cocky smile as she sheathed her sword and stepped away. The two guards, a man and a lizard woman, glanced at one another and charged at once, both shouting a war cry as they prepared to cut into the samurai’s flesh. Kimiko dropped low and swung her sword wide as the two got close. Kimiko’s superior Zipangese steel folded hundreds of times sliced through the guards’ light leather armor and warm coats. They dropped their weapons and fell to the floor. The people on the ground groaned at their demon silver cuts as their energy flowed from their bodies. Men and mamano of various species. All garbed in red and green armor and coats, “Is this really the best the north has to offer?” “I will make you choke on those words,” The salamander hissed as she stepped forward, sword in hand. It wasn’t about defending the workshop anymore. This was for honor. The salamander started taking slow, careful steps forwards. “Oh? You wish to fall with your comrades?” Kimiko chuckled, “Very well. I will grant you your wish. You shall join them shortly,” She dropped low and prepared herself for another fight. She saw the rage in the salamander’s eyes. She had the captain exactly where she wanted her, she seemed like the type to get sloppy when aggravated and she was already quite furious. “I’ll take your other eye,” She hissed through grit teeth. “I will take the flame from your tail. Maybe your tail as well. Perhaps it will taste good cooked?” “Oh oh ho... I am going to kick your ass, mother fucker!” The salamander snarled. She instantly stopped and put her clawed hand over her mouth, “Oh no,” She dropped her sword with a metallic clang. Kimiko stepped away, completely confused by this new tactic. Maxine felt the ground shake as a door was slammed open on the other side of the warehouse. Svetlana yelped and cowered as she heard two pairs of cloven hooves on the hard floor, “Noel!” A voice boomed. “Y-yes my lady?” The salamander dropped to one knee facing towards the woman who was approaching. Maxine stepped in front of Svetlana, prepared to protect her. Kimiko stood in front of both of them, ready to defend them with her blade, “I have told you many times, Noel,” The voice scolded, “No swearing in the buildings,” She told the salamander with a deeply disappointed tone. “Y-yes ma’am. I-I was set off by these... Intruders,” The salamander slowly stood up and gestured at the three girls. Maxine peered into the darkness and stared at the four legged woman. She was definitely some kind of centaur, a white horn, it seemed. She had long white hair on her head and a tiny pair of glasses resting on her nose. Her thick coat was red and lined with white cotton. She pushed the glasses up to her eyes, “Hm? Oh! Visitors!” “V-visitors? Ma’am these three--” “Noel,” The whitehorn smiled sweetly, “These three are not here to destroy Christmas. Collect your guard and I will handle this,” Grumbling, Noel quickly gathered her slowly awakening team before all of them left the warehouse, “Oh, what a mess,” The white horn sighed as she gazed upon the scattered presents. “I-I’m so sorry, ma’am,” Svetlana stepped forwards and bowed her head, “I-It was an accident,” She sniffled quietly, trying to get a hold of her emotions. “Oh, do not look so sad, Svetlana. Here,” The white horn produced a wand. She uttered some magical words in her own tongue that sounded a little bit like a Christmas carol. The spilt gifts were swept up on the aetheric winds and placed precariously back into their piles. “That magic,” Maxine whispered in awe, “Wait. How did you know my friend’s name?” “I know your name as well Maxine, and yours, Kimiko. I also know all three of you are on the nice list this year,” The woman chuckled, “This way please. Let us get out of this drafty warehouse. I am sure you travelled here for a reason.” “Excuse me,” Maxine stopped her as she turned to lead them somewhere else, “Just who are you, ma’am?” “Oh, how rude of me,” She smiled warmly, “You may call me Missus Claus.” Ruth sat alone in a dark park. The snow fell gently around her as she stared into her hands. She watched the snowflakes gently fall into her hands with almost no flames in her eyes. The snowflakes melted and the water soaked into her fur. She leaned back on the bench and glanced around. It was the usual park that she took walks to with her husband. But now she felt cold and lonely. She wanted the warmth and happiness that the season usually brought her, even back in the old world, the winter months were full of the warmth of family. Now she had pushed her only closeby family away. She had been at a horrible low in her life when all of her sisters had moved away, but she now felt like this was the lowest she had been in her entire life. Feeling ill and sad. She felt as if she had nothing now. Nothing but her own misery. She couldn’t go home yet. She still had yet to find a gift for her husband. She scooped up a snowball and angrily threw it at a tree, shattering the loose clump of snow with a less than satisfying, wet noise. An unintelligible cry of frustration and anger bellowed from the bottom of the hellhound’s lungs. She kicked at a snow structure that had been left behind by whoever had been at the park when the sun was out. Her foot easily obliterated the cluster of small snowmen. She howled again before running at a larger snowman and drop kicking it with blind fury. Ruth lay on her back, staring up at the dark sky as bits of snow began to cover her face. She felt tears fill her eyes and then spill over the sides of her head, running down her temples. She took handfuls of the cold powder and tossed them aside as her anger dissipated. It made way for deep sadness and guilt. With another cry, one without anger but full of grief. She had only wanted to do one thing this winter, and that was make her husband happy with a nice surprise. She curled into a ball as she told herself she had failed to do even that. She hugged her legs to her chest as she continued to cry in the cold snow. She desperately needed a sign, something to tell her what to do. She wished her mother were alive, even if she was hard on Ruth and her sisters, she always knew what to do. She started to calm down slowly. Whimpering and mewling as she lay in the snow. She grabbed her phone where it lay in her pocket. She wanted to speak to someone. She needed to, but who else was there? She quickly considered and discarded Maxine. While she was a witch, and Ruth respected her, she was much too brash to be of much help. She really only had one last option left. “So... You’re married to the big guy?” Svetlana asked as she picked up the cup that Missus Claus had filled for her with warm tea. “Yes I am,” The white horn nodded, “I am quite sorry that you will be unable to see the man this visit. He is quite busy. Christmas eve, afterall,” Maxine merely stared at her in awe, basking in her magical Christmas joy filled aura. She found it quite infectious. “I still find this hard to believe,” Kimiko grunted, “How does one man manage to bring presents to everyone on this earth? It does not seem logistically feasible.” Missus Claus chuckled, “Oh, my dear. It is more than one man’s burden to deliver the gifts. Numerous people ride along in magical carriages, pulled by equally magical beasts. My husband is one of those riders as well as the boss around here.” “And what of the Santas that we spy in the malls?” Svetlana inquired excitedly. “More servants of my husband. And before you ask, no we do not make all of the gifts here. We do outsource a lot of gifts, especially electronics and magical things. We work closely with a sabbath or three and a few gremlin and gargoyle groups. Maxine leaned forward, “How did Santa come to exist? All records before mamano kind came to this new world point to the fact that he was little more than a myth!” “Well,” Missus Claus giggled, “He was. I was!” She broke out into a laugh as Maxine gave her a wonder filled grin, “The combined beliefs of those of earth made him and I real. Once infected with mamano mana, I turned into this. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.” “Will we ever see a Claus junior!?” Svetlana asked excitedly. “Well... I am sure you know their names. You know Dasher, and Prancer. And Comet and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you know my youngest daughter, Rudolph?” “Yes! Of course!” Maxine laughed, “My husband loves that movie!” “I-I hope Rudolph didn’t get bullied like she did in the movie,” Svetlana frowned. Missus Claus laughed, “Of course not! Even if she is the youngest--” Everyone jumped as a phone’s ringtone began to play loudly. Kimiko’s hands dashed to her little pouch under her kimono. She pulled out the phone, amazed that she got reception out here, “Ruth?” She tilted her head to the side, “Kimiko speaking,” She said as she answered. Ruth answered weakly and sadly, “H-hey, Kimiko... You busy?” “My friend, you have been crying,” She easily picked up from the tone of her friend’s voice, “What is the matter?” “Put her on speaker, if you would, my dear,” Missus Claus requested quietly. Kimiko nodded and did as told. It took her a few moments to figure it out. “Oh... Ya’ know,” Ruth sniffled, still trying to sound tough, “Laying in the snow. Crying my eyes out,” She chuckled, “Kimi, I don’t know what I’m doing,” She grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it aside. “You are still hung up on what to give him?” Maxine asked. “Maxine? Svetlana around too?” Ruth sounded a little disappointed. “Missus Claus too!” Svetlana excitedly announced. “Uh...” “You fear your husband’s wrath, my dear?” Missus Claus mused. Ruth sat up, feeling at ease as she heard the sound of wisdom she had not heard in years, “Who...?” “Your friend just introduced us, did she not, my dear?” Missus Claus chuckled again, “Do you believe there is really an ounce of rage within Gabe’s heart?” “N-no... I just... I just want to make him happy. I can’t get this wrong. I can’t.” “If you’re out crying in the snow, you might have already messed it up,” Maxine grunted. Svetlana, Kimiko and Missus Claus all glared at her. Maxine merely shrugged sheepishly. Missus Claus sighed, “Ruth, dear, if you want a perfect gift for him. Give him something that only you can. Something from within you. I am sure the hint you need will come soon.” “Well... Within me?” Ruth swallowed nervously, “Alright. Thanks, uh, Missus Claus.” “Of course, dear. Please write next year, we do love receiving letters.” Ruth stood still as she listened to the tone of her cellphone. Kimiko and friends had hung up. She glanced down at her phone again. A bunch of missed texts from Daisy and a few from Gabe. Gabe’s message was simple, ‘Please come home soon.’ Daisy was screaming in her texts about going into labor. Ruth pushed a few buttons and soon her phone rang, calling Daisy, “Ruth! Ruth!” Daisy cried as she picked up almost immediately. She cried out in pain as a contraction wracked her, “Its happening! My baby is coming!” “I-I’m happy for you, Daisy,” Ruth smiled as she stood, shaking the snow off of herself. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you! Where have you been!?” Daisy stifled a pained shout. Ruth started to trudge out of the snowy field, “Been... Soul searching? Crying... but I talked to Missus Claus. That was kinda cool.” “What!?” “D-don’t worry about it. She told me to give Gabe something from inside me.” “That sounds kinda weird,” Daisy laughed, “Any idea what she meant?” “I--” Ruth froze as she slowly figured this was the clue she needed, “When you got pregnant, like at the beginning of it, how did you feel?” “Oh, super nauseous. Mood swings. Just totally awful. I was really happy--” She grunted loudly. Ruth could hear Jackson grunt in pain as well as if Daisy was gripping his hand incredibly tightly, “But then I was really damn happy!” “Thanks, Daisy,” Ruth grunted and hung up the phone. She headed to the one place that would be open this late. There was something she needed to get her hands on. “If I may ask,” Missus Claus gave the three girls a confused look, “What brings you to this domain? You must have been quite determined to come here. It is not easy to get to the North Pole. I know you have magic, Maxine, but how did you manage it?” Maxine huffed haughtily and smugly, “You used sabbath coven magic to conceal yourselves. While it is powerful, most sabbath covens only have one trick up their sleeves when it comes to this sort of magic. Although it wasn’t the first trick we assumed it was, it was the second. Do not worry, no one else should know my technique. All that other sabbath knows is that we were trying to get past an anti scry and teleport zone,” She quickly explained, still purring in satisfaction. “Hmm... I see,” Missus Claus huffed, “Perhaps I need to upgrade the security.” “Well, I am available for consultations. I...” Maxine pat her cloak searching for something, “Here it is!” She revealed a black card with golden text and offered it to the white horn. She gladly took the card, “As for why we are here. I am afraid I bring grave tidings,” Kimiko rolled her eyes at how melodramatic Maxine was acting, “It is about my close friends. I fear the Christmas spirit has left each of them. Especially Gwen, Theodore and Bridgett. You already heard on the phone that Ruth and Gabe could use some as well. I came here so that I may take some joy back for them and to prove to Kimiko that you and your husband exist. I also wanted to check if Gwen was on the naughty list.” “A noble cause,” Missus Claus nodded gravely, “It is nearly time for us to fly and bring presents to the world,” She stood and walked to the window of the little cabin, “You will be happy to know that Gwen is not on the list,” Maxine and Svetlana sighed with relief, “As for your friends. Perhaps we can save Christmas for all of them. But... Kimiko, why did you not believe?” “To tell you the truth, ma’am,” Kimiko sighed, “I received nothing from Santa last year.” Missus Claus chuckled as she grabbed a thicker coat, “Perhaps if you allowed yourself to want anything, we could have brought you something.” “What do you mean?” “How are we supposed to bring you a gift when your heart wants for nothing? Nothing but the safety for others that you so easily provide!” She laughed, “Kimiko, tell me before we leave, what is it you desire? Something for yourself.” “I... Want...” Kimiko echoed quietly and without any ounce of confidence, realising she was facing her toughest challenge yet: putting herself first for once, “A...” “I never expected Kimiko to find anything difficult,” Maxine smirked. “Hush!” Svetlana hissed at her. Kimiko wracked her mind, trying to come up with something as the other three sat patiently. She couldn’t recall anything that she herself needed. Maybe a better version of something she already had would suffice? That throw blanket, she pondered silently, “A-a new blanket. A soft and warm one,” She went one step further, indulging herself in a feeling she had never really had before, “A-and a pillow. One large and firm.” “A wonderful and practical choice,” Missus Claus chuckled, “Come now, ladies. We have a sleigh to prepare.” She led the three outside into the cold snow along a paved path from the cabin down to the runways. Maxine glanced around as mamano of various races along with a few men loaded large burlap bags into red sleighs. Each was pulled by a reindeer or a white horn, though Maxine did spy one pulled by a massive centaur. Each sleigh was manned by a man or woman in festive garb. None paid too much mind to them as they walked to a far hanger, a few took off headed south to various towns and cities around the world. “Amazing,” Svetlana mumbled in awe as she watched the operation seamlessly go off. “Isn’t it?” Missus Claus chuckled, “I am quite proud of them. Here we are,” She grabbed the red doors of a wooden shed and threw them open to reveal a sleek red sleigh, “This is the one my husband used to use. Although I usually do not fly, I will make a special exception this year. Kimiko, if you would bring the sleigh out,” Kimiko grunted and easily moved it out into the snow. An elven woman hurried over with a somewhat smaller burlap sack and loaded it into the back of the sleigh, “Well, girls,” The white horn smiled, “I suppose you had better hop in, hm?” “Oh my god,” Maxine mumbled as she ran a hand along the frame of the sleigh, “T-this is practically a magical artifact... A Christmas artifact!” “Maxine! Come on!” Svetlana called from the front row. Kimiko sat in the back with the bag of gifts. Maxine scrambled to climb in and had to be helped by Kimiko. She easily grabbed the back of the witch’s cloak and lifted her in. “There's our cue,” Missus Claus mused quietly as a goblin down the runway waved her into the runway with her light sticks, “Hang on, girls!” She cried as she started down the runway. Her brisk trot turned into a jog, then into a sprint before the sleigh left the ground with the white horn easily pulling it along. Soon, the girls were lifted above the clouds. Svetlana reached out to the pillowy and fluffy looking things, expecting a handful of something akin to cotton candy, instead, she only got wet. She frowned with disappointment. “Odd,” Maxine grumbled, “I do not recognize the magic I am picking up. No navigation system on this either.” “It runs on pure Christmas spirit! One of the most potent magics of all!” Missus Claus laughed, “Do you really think I need a navigation system? I have been doing this for ages!” “Where are we headed first?” Svetlana asked excitedly. “To spread a little Christmas joy, then get you all home.” Gwen’s eyes flew open. She could hear noises downstairs. Mumbles and heavy footsteps. Someone had to be in the house! What a perfect way to end this awful holiday season, Gwen told herself, “Theodore,” She shook her husband awake, “I think someone is in the house!” The man looked at his wife and blinked softly, “You’re just hearing things. If there is someone, its probably Maxine looking for eggs again.” “Darling, please. I am scared.” “Fine. I’ll go look,” He rolled out of bed, grabbed a shirt he had discarded the night before then grabbed one of the battle axes he kept on the wall. Usually it was just decorative, but the battle axes were sharpened and ready for use at a moment’s notice. He grunted at his wife’s fear filled face then started to stomp down the stairs. Strange, he thought he had turned off all the lights when he turned in for the night. He definitely heard the voices now, “You dummy!” One cried softly, “It is a bottomless bag! Just think of what you want to pull out of it!” “Y-you do it! I cannot figure it out!” “Here, dear, allow me,” A kind old voice chuckled. Theodore stepped from where he was hiding as he sensed no danger, “Uh,” Was all he could utter as he looked at the four girls standing in his living room standing around his brightly lit Christmas tree. Maxine and Svetlana watched the old white horn carefully as she expertly produced wrapped gifts from a burlap bag. “Merry Christmas, Theodore,” Kimiko grunted as she quickly spotted him, “Nice axe.” “Theodore!” Maxine whispered urgently, “Quickly, collect Gwen and Bridgett! We do not have much time!” “Uhm,” Theodore glanced at the kind looking whitehorn and nodded, “Alright. Hold on,” He stomped back up the stairs and into his room where he set the axe down, “Go downstairs,” He grunted at her, “I gotta grab Bridgett,” Gwen didn’t argue, instead she hurried down the stairs, curious as to what was going on. Gwen gasped as she gazed upon her three friends and the white horn, “Maxine? What is going on?” “Merry Christmas, my friend!” Maxine cackled somewhat quietly, “We have come bearing Christmas joy! We all know that you need it.” “W-who...?” She trailed off looking at the white horn. “Why, Missus Claus of course!” Svetlana grinned, “We went to the North Pole! We did not get to see Santa, unfortunately, but he must be quite busy tonight.” “Gwen, hm?” Missus Claus mused, “I believe I have something for you in here...” She dug through the sack and produced a red and green wrapped gift, “Here you go, my dear.” “Th-thank you,” Gwen stammered as she felt the heft of the gift. “Wooooow...” Bridgett was astonished by what she saw, “A-are you...?” She asked the white horn. “Yes, my dear, Missus Claus. You have been quite good this year, have you not, Bridgett?” The white horn asked. Bridgett nodded, still in awe, “Here, I brought this for you, and take your father’s as well,” Bridgett looked at her gift greedily, “In the morning, dear.” The dragon nodded and put both under the tree then stomped over to her father, “I’m sorry, dad,” She whimpered as she hugged his legs, “You didn’t lie to me.” “Of course I didn’t,” He grunted as he dropped to his knees to hug his daughter tight, “Why would I lie to you?” Bridgett started to cry as she felt horribly guilty. Gwen got on her knees as well and hugged the two of them, “No crying, honey. Everything is fine,” She cooed, “That goes for you as well,” She smiled at her husband. He had tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, “To bed, both of you,” She ordered. She finally felt some warmth and happiness for the holidays. Theodore nodded and lifted the little dragon girl with a grunt, carrying her to bed. “We must be off. We have a few more long stops to make,” Missus Claus smiled before taking a few bites of the cookies that had been left out for her, “Please, have a wonderful Christmas day, Gwen. Oh, and do not pack the stockings so tightly next year. I can hardly put any candy in them like this!” She stepped through the red and green portal that was placed by the fireplace, followed by Svetlana and Kimiko. Gwen grabbed Maxine’s hand before she could walk through, “Thank you, Maxine,” Gwen was holding back tears of joy, “You’ve saved Christmas for my family,” She squeezed the witch around the neck in a tight hug. “Heh,” Maxine smiled, “What are friends for if not for proving the existence of mythical beings to their friends to make their daughter happy?” Gwen laughed and let her go, “Again thank you, and merry Christmas, Maxine.” “Same to you, friend. I will speak to you soon,” Maxine turned and walked into the portal. Ruth quietly unlocked the front door of her home and stepped inside. She glanced at the sad looking, glowing tree and few wrapped presents underneath it. She sighed as she spotted her husband curled up on the couch, thankfully he was asleep. Ruth picked up one of the cookies that she and Gabe had put out earlier and bit into it. She wondered if that was a bad idea because Santa might actually come to her home. She shrugged and hurried to the bathroom, wanting to check something before waking her husband. Ruth held the plastic device to her face in the dim light. Her heart pounded as she saw the results. She sighed, unsure whether to be happy or afraid. She cleaned herself off before making her way to the couch and gently picking up her husband and dumping him on her lap, “Ruth?” He whimpered. “Sssh,” She whispered, “Why are you sleeping out here?” “I was waiting for you to come home,” He snuggled against her, “Where did you go? What did I do?” “You didn’t do anything,” Ruth assured him quietly, “I-I’m sorry. It was me.” “What’s wrong?” “Well... Its Christmas now, isn’t it? Merry... Christmas, Gabe. Sorry I didn’t wrap it,” Ruth carefully put a little plastic device in his hand. “Ruth... You’re pregnant?” He asked as he examined the pregnancy test. Ruth nodded, her eyes blurring as tears of joy filled her eyes and her husband’s, “I-I-I’m really scared, Gabe. W-what if I’m not a good mom?” “You’ll do great!” Gabe grinned as he wrapped his arms around her neck, “We both will, won’t we?” The two hugged, giggling at one another as they pressed their lips together. Ruth put Gabe on his back as she moved her lips to his neck. The fire in her eyes came back as she licked her lips. She grabbed his shirt and prepared to rip it off of him. “Should we come back later?” Ruth jumped up as Svetlana chuckled at her. Maxine and Kimiko were there too and the jinko’s face was as red as a tomato. They had all just walked out of a red and green portal that had just appeared by the fireplace. “H-how--” Ruth growled, “I should--” She stopped as another woman joined them, “Ah! Ruth and Gabe. I think I have something for both of you in here.” “Missus Claus,” Maxine explained gesturing to the white horn. “Uh huh,” Ruth folded her arms and glanced at all four of them, a little upset that they were interrupting her time with her man. Missus Claus pulled two gifts from her bag and put both under the tree for them, “I can see you two have some plans for the night,” She giggled, “Come, ladies, we must be off.” “Merry Christmas!” Svetlana cried before dashing back through the portal. “Yeah, yeah. Merry Christmas,” Ruth grunted as she watched Missus Claus grab a cookie and go through the portal followed by Maxine and Kimiko, “Ugh. C’mon, bed time,” She picked up her husband in a bridal carry and took him to bed, her tail wagging the entire time. “It seems like this is where we part ways,” Maxine bowed to Missus Claus. All four stood around Maxine's family's Christmas tree. Kimiko held the gifts for her family and Svetlana did the same for hers. “Aye. It is,” The white horn nodded, “I have a few more stops to make tonight. I pray you all will have a good remainder of the evening and a merry Christmas.” “Same to you, Missus Claus. Thank you for everything,” Maxine bowed again slightly, “Perhaps I will see you again next year?” “We will see. Merry Christmas, Maxine, Svetlana and Kimiko. And to all a good night.” “Hmph. I wonder if you are going to prove the existence of the Easter Bunny come April,” Kimiko chuckled. She frowned when she got knowing looks from both Maxine and Missus Claus, “Well. I am off to bed. Good night all.” Maxine waited for Missus Claus to leave before walking her two friends out, “What a wonderful night,” Svetlana sighed dreamily. “Aye. Just wish we could have seen Daisy,” Kimiko frowned, “Though Missus Claus did say they were receiving a wondrous gift.” “A baby!” Svetlana excitedly finished Kimiko’s thought. “We will see her tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll have her baby with her too,” Maxine declared, “You two should head to bed. Good night. Speak to you in the morning.” “Night!” Svetlana called as Kimiko silently did the same with a polite nod. Maxine was left alone, a smile on her face. She took a brief moment on the way to her own bedroom to check on her little girl. Sophia was sound asleep, thankfully. Maxine leaned down, kissed her forehead and pet her locks of white hair, a little regretful that she was not there to tuck her in that night. She left the room as silently as she came and returned to her bedroom. She froze as she saw the bedside lamp on and her husband still awake, “Why are you not asleep?” She asked quietly as she began removing her winter clothing. “I was putting up the stockings and stuff. Where were you?” Richard asked as he put his book down. Maxine huffed smugly, “The North Pole. Missus Claus gave me a ride home. We made some stops at our friend’s houses to drop off some Christmas joy!” Richard stared at her, disbelief obvious on his face, “Did you, like, get a picture or anything?” “N-no...” Maxine frowned as she climbed into bed with her husband. She ran her hand over his chest, the magical tattoos on his chest around the scar he got from a sword glowed slightly at Maxine’s touch, “Ask Kimiko, Svetlana, Ruth, Gabe, Gwen, Theodore or Bridgett when you see them!” He looked skeptical again but just nodded his head, “Fine. I’ll ask,” He said a bit sarcastically, “Get in bed and let's get some sleep, okay? Your mom is gonna want us to take a lot of photos tomorrow.” Maxine started to pout but got into the soft fluffy bed, facing away from her husband. He wrapped his arms around her hips and pulled her into him. He gently kissed one of her ears, making her blush, “Merry Christmas, darling.” “Merry Christmas.” “Your turn, Ruth,” Daisy informed the hellhound. All of them sat in Maxine’s lounge. The sky was dim, a feast had been had, and personal gifts had been exchanged. Each couple tried to give every other couple a gift no matter how small. Now, everyone was taking part in a white elephant exchange. Gabe was a little disappointed no one had put any funny gag gifts in. Everything was useful like tools, knives, liquor, blankets and food. Ruth peeked one eye open as she continued snuggling up against her husband. She still felt the love and joy from learning she was pregnant and hadn’t let him go since, “Bridgett,” She mumbled, “Grab that small one for me,” Ruth ordered. She had brought it, but she wanted the gift card it contained to her favorite barbeque place. “Okay!” The dragon girl leapt up and scurried over to the pile of white elephant gifts. “Honey,” Gabe mumbled, “Why not steal the jerky? You love that stuff,” He gestured over to Gwen, “I’m not even sure she eats meat,” Ruth didn’t respond. She merely kissed him on the cheek and took the present as Bridgett offered it to her. Gabe sighed, “I-I’m sure she’ll trade you for it, Gwen.” “I would appreciate that,” She chuckled, “Maxine, how was your Christmas morning? You have been quite quiet.” Maxine looked up from the children she was watching. She desperately wanted Ross and her Sophia to make some kind of connection early on in life, “Oh... It was fine.” Richard could hardly stifle his chuckling, “Maxine. Tell her.” She glared at her husband but ultimately gave in, “Fine. I got coal from Santa. APPARENTLY organizing a team to go to the North Pole and slipping into their warehouses and factories is naughty list worthy,” She hissed, “Despite the fact that I saved Christmas for all of my friends!” “I kinda wish I got to go with,” Jackson smirked, “Sounds like you guys had fun,” He was icing his hand. It was still bruised from when Daisy was in labor. Svetlana turned to Kimiko, “Did you get what you asked for?” She nodded, “A nice blanket and a new pillow.” “That blanket is really nice. She won’t share it,” Calvin grunted, “I want one of those.” “Maxine?” Gwen frowned as she looked at the present that she had given to Ross. It was a picture of Ross and Sophia sitting together on a blanket in a picturesque field, “I... Don’t remember being there when this picture was taken.” “Oh,” Maxine forced herself to not sweat, “We got a picture like that taken, remember? I merely had that background, what do you call it? Shopped? I had it shopped in, the background I mean,” She lied. She couldn’t let her friend know she kidnapped her son for a photoshoot. “I suppose that makes sense,” Gwen nodded. “What are we going to do next year for Christmas?” Daisy asked, “I think this has been a wonderful Christmas overall!” “I want next Christmas to go exactly the same!” Bridgett declared. Gwen, Theodore, Ruth, Gabe, Jackson and Kimiko’s heart rates all spiked at the thought of another year like this, “No,” Ruth grit her teeth. “But you can have the Christmas baby next year!” Bridgett whined, spewing smoke from her mouth. Ruth was weak to Bridgett’s puppy dog, pleading eyes, “W-we will see,” She smiled weakly as her small amounts of flames in her eyes turned into smoke. “I had fun this year!” Svetlana smiled, “But I do understand that it was quite stressful for most of you. I got to go to the North Pole!” “I need to go!” Bridgett shouted, “I really want to go!” “You better take her with you next time, hon,” Corey told the kikimora, “And take pictures.” “Please do not take my daughter to the Arctic,” Gwen pleaded with Maxine. “I am already on the naughty list, Gwen,” The witch grinned, “But, as you have asked, I will not. Also, Missus Claus might come to me as the North Pole’s magical defence consultant. If she does, I will take Bridgett with me if I ever have to make a trip there.” “Mom!? Please!?” Bridgett begged. Gwen looked to Theodore who nodded, “Fine. You may go. But only under those circumstances. I do not want my daughter crying if she happens to receive coal because of your antics.” Bridgett ran over to Maxine and started rapid-firing questions about the North Pole. The witch could hardly keep up. Kimiko gave an amused smile as she helped her babies sit up. Calvin helped her get a photo of each of them. Daisy handed her baby to Jackson as she stole the jerky from Gwen. The weresheep sighed with relief and then stole an electric blanket from Svetlana, locking it in. The kikimora glared at her and went for another gift. Ruth set down her soda as she stood and peered out the window into the blackness of the night. Her softly flaming and flickering red eyes with black sclera reflected back at her. The lights around the Hamilton manor reflected the small layer of snow that was falling around the grounds, “Ruth!” Daisy called before joining her at the tall floor to ceiling window, “Is something wrong?” She blinked at the Hellhound, “Or are you just staring out at the snow again?” The hellhound shook her head, “No. Honestly, I’m just thinking about what a wonderful Christmas this has been,” She smiled at her friend, “I love my friends.” She smiled back, “We love you too. But uh, I don’t think you’re going to love all of us anymore. I think Kimiko stole that gift card from you.” “WHAT!?” Ruth shouted, “Gabe! Help me steal it back!” She cried in desperation, the cold winter night filled with the laughter of her friends.
I came home from work to my condo. It had been another exhausting day of avoiding the advances of my new coworkers. It had been about two months since monster girls had flooded into this world. I shifted my messenger bag on shoulder as I rode the elevator to the third floor. My neighbor and his new satyr wife were chatting quietly as they rode to the fifth floor. I walked down the hallway to my room slowly. As I was putting my key into my lock, with my hand on the handle. The handle gave, my door was unlocked. I groaned ay myself, if any of my things were gone, because of my negligence, I was going to be unreasonably upset, “Such a stupid mistake,” I told myself as I entered my apartment, “How could I--” My self loathing stopped as I looked around. There was a woman sitting on her knees in the middle of my main room staring at the door--at me. The first thing I noticed was her monsterous features, paw-like hands and feet with tiger patterned fur going up most of her arms and legs. Her tail flicked from side to side behind her. I stared at her one visible eye in fear, a single orange colored cat eye stared at me. Her other eye, the left, was hidden underneath her an eyepatch. Her muscular body was covered by a well fitting kimono of a black and red color scheme. Her light brown hair with a dark brown highlight was pulled up in a bun. Her large, clawed hand rested on the hilt of a sword, a katana, at her waist. She removed her hand from her sword and stood before me. She stared at me with the same, blank and intense look, “Master Anon, welcome home,” She bowed in greeting. She was obviously not a native english speaker unlike most of the other monster girls I had spoken to. I kept staring at her, unsure of what was happening, “I was unable to learn how to operate your stovetop in time and was unable to cook you a fresh dinner,” She slowly got back on her knees and groveled in front of me, face placed near my feet, “I beg for your forgiveness.” I stood dumbfounded in front of her as she stared at the floor, “I-I-I... Sorry, who are you?” “Did you not receive my letter?” She was still in the same position. I knew I had probably tossed it, “It must have been lost in the mail.” The woman stood up before me and looked down into my eyes with the same blank expression. She stood at over seven feet, over a foot taller than me. Her look caused me to sweat, “You are a horrible liar, master.” I groaned “Okay, okay, I think I got the letter but I couldn’t read it. Whatever it had been written in was not english. You got me, lady.” “You could not read it?” She asked, only slightly angered, “I will need to have VERY harsh words with a tanuki when I return home,” She gripped the hilt of her sword. “Uh, okay. By the way, you never told me your name.” “How rude of me. My name is Kimiko Tora. May I also tell you why I am here?” “Yes please,” I fell onto the couch, ready to hear whatever crap she was about to peddle me. “May I take your bag and coat, Master?” “Sure,” I handed them over. She hung my coat in the closet and hung my bag on the back of a chair. She returned to a kneeling position on my floor across from me, “In my homeland, we commune with spirits often. Recently, my clan heard of a man needing protection. That man was you, Anon. A horrible darkness is coming over you soon. A fighter of good and justice was required to protect you. The spirits chose me to serve as your protector. I had that letter sent at set about learning english. Soon enough, I was on a boat from Japan to America to find you.” I looked at her, “Uh spirits? Like ghosts? They sent you to find ME?” I asked in disbelief. “Yes. That is what I said, is it not?” I grunted, “Yeah, yeah you did. I just didn’t want to believe you.” She looked confused, “I am afraid I do not understand, Master.” I sighed and growled out, “Forget it,” I pondered for a few moments, trying to figure out what to do. “You seem very upset, Master. May I draw you a bath or prepare some tea?” She spoke slowly with an apologetic tone and a worried look on her face. I got a feeling that she genuinely did care about me despite just meeting. I still was intimidated by her usual fierce glare and the face that she looked like she could bench three or four of me. But, damn, was she cute, even with all her scars and the eyepatch. The kimono she wore was black with red lotuses on it and the sheath of her sword was black with some gold flourishes. I thought for a few more moments, trying to convince myself to keep her around. I shrugged, deciding I might as well. Its not like she was my wife or anything, “Some tea would be lovely, thank you.” “As you wish, Master.” Having such a huge, pretty woman refer to me as master was a pretty huge ego boost. I took the small break I had to check emails on my phone. Within ten minutes, I had a delicate cup full of a sweet smelling tea placed in front of me, “What kind is this?” I asked as I picked it up. “A relaxing herb from my homeland, Zipangu. There are various ways to gain its benefits but this is the most common,” She explained as she sat on her knees next to the coffee table with her own cup of tea. I took a sip, it was incredibly sweet tasting, probably a little too sweet, “Thank you.” “Of course. Let me know if you require anything at all, I am trained in various housewife skills as well as having extensive training as a samurai.” “Housewife and samurai, huh? Interesting.” “It is tradition within my clan, when a samurai is sent to protect a man they learn how to take care of the household as to ‘earn our keep,’ as they say.” “So your, uh, clan does this often?” “Yes, it is our longest tradition to send our samurai over the world to protect others,” She reached into her kimono and produced a small ornate tube. She popped it open and pulled out a piece of parchment, “If you would sign this. I must send it back to my clan.” I took it from her, it was written in an unknown set of runes, probably whatever language the Zipangu people wrote in, “What is it?” “It is merely a document saying that I am here and you are willing to accept my services,” I saw my name was already on the document, the only thing in english. I shrugged, “Alright,” Without a thought, I signed it. She quickly took the document from me, “Thank you very much, Master,” She rolled it back up and put it in the tube. I watched her painstakingly light a candle and melt some of the wax onto the tube and press a stamp on it before placing it back into her outfit, “May I prepare you some dinner?” “Oh, no its fine. I don’t really eat dinner.” She looked at me, shocked, “Master, you can not fight on an empty stomach. I implore you to let me cook for you.” I looked at her, intense look replaced with some concern, “Fine. You need me to teach you how to use the stove, right?” The night was winding down. The large dinner I had of meat and rice was making me sleepy. Kimiko was diligent the entire time, never taking a moment to rest except to eat. She stood by my side while I flipped through some channels on TV. I paused on a monster-based sitcom just in time to hear a cheshire make a bad joke. I groaned and kept channel surfing, “Master, is something wrong?” Kimiko asked me, enamored with the screen. “Nah, just nothing good on TV. Might head to bed soon,” I turned to the news just to see the weather. “Am I to be relieved of my duties then?” “Yeah. Oh, I should show you to the spare bedroom.” “Excuse me?” She looked confused. “I have an extra bedroom that I hardly use. You can live in there for now rather than just leaving your belongings shoved under my couches,” I reached down and pulled a small sword out from under the couch. “Thank you very much for your kindness, Master,” She stood before me and bowed. “What is with you calling me ‘Master’ anyways?” I asked as I shut off the TV and helped Kimiko collect her things. “I am merely letting you know, despite my skills and size, I submit to you as master of this household. I am here to serve and protect you, Master Anon,” She gave me a tiny polite smile, the first time she had shown any emotion on her face that wasn’t mostly an intense stare. I couldn’t help but smile back, “This will be your room,” I opened the first door down the hallway, “I used to have a roommate. Most of this is his old stuff,” I gestured at the desk, nightstand, lap and dresser, “The bed is new though, never slept in.” As she stared at the room, an unsure look in her eye, I pulled the comforter out of the closet, “I-I am unsure if I can accept this room.” “Oh?” I folded me arms after I flopped the comforter onto the bed. “I am used to sleeping on a mat on the floor in a room with others in my clan. I do not believe this luxury should be spent on me,” She shifted nervously, “I would hate to impose like this.” “Take the room, dammit,” I grabbed her things and threw them on the bed, “Go ahead and get settled in. I’m in the next room down the hall. Let me know if you need anything.” “Good night, Master,” She bowed as I left the room. “Night.” I was awoken by a light shaking, soft palms gripping my arms. I grumbled, “What?” “Master,” I had forgotten about Kimiko, “I have prepared you a bath.” “Ugh, alright. Why did you feel the need to wake me up?” “It is five minutes before your alarm. Is this not more pleasant?” I got up and stretched, “Yeah, I guess it does beat that shrill beeping.” “Wonderful. Please go and take your bath, Master,” I got a good look at Kimiko, she was wearing only cloth wrappings on her chest and groin area, “I would come in with you and assist you, but your bath seems much too small.” “I can clean myself, Kimiko.” “As you wish.” She bowed again as I left for the bath. IT was steaming hot. Kimiko was right, the bath was pretty small. It was a shower and bath combo, so it was to be expected. I quickly got myself washed up, preferring a shower but I didn’t want the water that was already here to go to waste. I got out, got dressed and headed out to grab some quick breakfast. Kimiko was already out in the main room, dressed and with a sword at her hip, “What, no breakfast?” I asked jokingly. “I apologize. I only had the ingredients to create that dinner last night. I need to learn what foods you enjoy and how to prepare them,” “Well, breakfast is usually just toast. Maybe some juice.” As I got to preparing said breakfast, she watched intently as I took out some slices of bread and stuck them in the toaster as I continued getting ready. She watched the toaster intently. I heard the familiar sound of my toaster dinging and Kimiko yelping in surprise. I chuckled as I glanced over to see her standing with her sword drawn at the toaster, “Master!” She called, slowly sheathing her katana, “The toast is finished!” “Thank you. Want butter on yours?” “That will be fine, thank you.” Kimiko and I walked down the sidewalk towards my office building. Any time a monster that was not accompanied by a man got too close to me, Kimiko would let out a low growl, causing them to back off. I shook my head, “You sure are protective.” “That is my job, master, to protect you,” She humorlessly informed me. I rolled my eyes, “Right. Can I ask you to not do that?” “Mater, we cannot tell who is an agent of darkness and who is not. It is much safer to push everyone away from you for now,” She growled at a kikimora that politely said good morning to me. She quickly walked past us. “I doubt the walking feather duster is an agent of darkness.” “She could be a seductress for a greater evil.” “Seduce me with cleaning?” “You never know, Master,” She glanced at me, “You could have a thing for maids.” “Well, I don’t. So calm down,” I changed subjects, “Do you have anything to do while I’m at work?” “Of course. I am going to do some shopping and see about having your bathroom renovated.” “Why do you need to get my bathroom renovated?” “I require a larger bath. The current one is too small for me. I will cover all costs, of course. I do not wish to put a strain on your coin purse.” It was tiny. There was probably enough room to fit in something a little bit bigger, “We can talk about that later. That’s my office,” I told her as I pointed to a building, “I’ll see you at home tonight.” “I will collect you here after work, Master. I cannot have someone abscond with you on your walk home.” “Ugh, fine. See you at five.” Work was passing uneventfully, I continued work on a database project for the government along with a few coworkers. All this talk of darkness and evil beings had started to put me on edge, “Anon,” My boss, a succubus, startled me when she called my name from behind. “W-what is it, chief?” I asked spinning around. “Have you begun preparing for the stakeholder meeting?” “Yeah, I’ll be showing the GUI I made that allows for easy data input and reading,” I pointed at the screen. I had no idea if any of that went over my boss’s head, she claimed to have learned a lot about information systems from reading numerous textbooks. She smiled, “Excellent! Should--” She stopped, leaning in and tasting the air around me, “Finally found yourself a wife, Anon?” “Excuse me!?” I recoiled in shock. “I can smell her on you. A woman from Zipangu, even! Ah, that brings back memories of a wonderful vacation. What’s she like?” My boss leaned on the cubicle wall as she eagerly awaited my answer. “Look,” I sighed, “She’s not my wife.” “Ah, I see. Just dating right now, very cute.” “No, no. She broke into my house last night claiming that I need protection. She came all the way from Japan so I felt bad about kicking her out and couldn’t bring myself to do it.” “How romantic!” She squealed, “When will you two be getting married?” I held my face in my hands, “I don’t know... We just met!” “You have to get betrothed now while the passion is still fiery, Anon.” “I don’t know if I have feelings for her yet, boss.” She finally changed her tune, “I understand. Believe it or not I was a mid twenty year old once, unsure about everything. You’re still young, take your time.” She left, leaving me alone with my work once more. I rubbed my temples, asking myself how I really felt about Kimiko before pushing the thoughts of her out of my mind. I had other, more important things to work on, I convinced myself. “How was work today, Master?” Kimiko asked as we returned to my condo. She took my coat and bag from me. “Fine. Apparently my boss can smell you on me,” I told her as I stretched, wincing as my back ached. “Was that an issue?” She glanced at me, “Fold your arms.” “Huh? Okay,” I did as she instructed. She moved behind me and wrapped her arms around me like a tight, good feeling hug. She mumbled something and lifted me up, popping my back. I let out a relieved sigh as she set me back down, “Thanks,” I mumbled as she gripped my shoulders, massaging them gently. “Are you standing at work at all?” “No, I’m just slouching at my computer mainly.” “You need to stand more, you are going to have health problems in the future,” She instructed, leaning down and speaking quietly into my ear. “Okay, I’ll try. What were we talking about?” “Your boss smelled my mana on you. Here, lie on the floor.” I again did what she told me, “Yeah, she was asking me about you and assumed we were married. How did you know that my back was bothering me like this?” “I can read body language quite easily,” Kimiko hesitated, “If I may ask, what did you tell her?” She put her hands on my back. “I told her that--” I let out a moan as she firmly pushed down on my spine. She started moving me onto my side and realigning my spine. I let her manhandle me as I groaned in relief. She picked me up off the ground and sat me on the couch. I was panting, but my back felt better than it ever had. “Sake?” She gave me a small smile. I nodded, still out of breath, “What did you tell her?” “I-I said that--” I stopped myself, “I just explained how we met.” “Understandable. I suppose we did meet in a strange way,” I couldn’t read how she felt, disappointed maybe. She gave me a small glass of alcohol and quickly downed one herself. “Yeah... Did you find what you were looking for around town?” I changed subjects. “Yes, I did. I got a quote for the bath,” She handed me a paper. The quote was for a decently sized bathhouse style bath. Big enough for ‘two to sit in intimately,’ but not much larger than that. The price was more than reasonable, “and found the shops I was looking for,” She held up the bottle of sake. “Nice,” I drank some of it, “Do you really want to go through with this bath thing? I can pay half of it if you want.” “No need,” She told me firmly, “All I need is a go ahead from you.” I sighed, “Go ahead.” “Thank you, Master. Shall I begin preparing a meal?” “Nah, I’ll get something going. You’ve done a lot for me, and I should be doing something other than sitting on my fat ass.” “As you wish,” She apprehensively agreed. I got to making spaghetti with a side salad. Kimiko was eager to keep me company while I cooked, at least. “So, what’s your story, Kimiko?” I asked over hot plates of spaghetti. “What do you mean?” She asked as she inquisitively poked at her food. “Like, why did you choose this lifestyle? What are all the scars from?” “I was born into my clan. The middle child of a litter of three, born to a human and a jinko samurai.” “Is that what you are? A jinko?” “Yes. Most of my scars are pretty unremarkable. Merely fights with assassins wielding iron blades,” She seemed completely disinterested. “As opposed to...?” I trailed off, expecting an answer. “Demon silver. Iron draws blood and leaves wounds. Demon silver draws energy from its victim.” “Ah, I see. I’m assuming you carry demon silver weapons then?” I asked between bites. “You would be correct. I do own an iron katana, but I have very little reason to use it.” “Got it, thanks for answering my questions,” I gave her a smile before focusing on my dinner. I poured some dressing on my salad. Kimiko, who was watching me intently, copied me. “Will you answer my questions?” She asked me. “Of course.” “How have you managed to avoid a wife thus far?” “Isolation, bitterness, self loathing. Those are just off the top of my head,” I told her with a chuckle, “I swore off dating ages ago. Its not worth it to me.” “Did something happen?” I heard genuine concern in her voice. “Just some crappy girls in the past. Got my heart broke one too many times and it turned me into a shitty person.” “Do you really believe that? That you are a bad person?” “If you weren’t here for duty, I’m sure you would have left by now,” I downed another glass of sake and frowned, “Just like the others.” “You have been nothing but kind to me, Anon. I appreciate that very much.” “Hmph, I just feel bad that you’re stuck with me.” She crossed her arms, “I believe you are fooling yourself, Master. You only claim to be those things to push others away out of fear of being hurt again. Perhaps you just need someone to love you and tell you how wonderful you are,” She gave me a small smile, “Anon, I--” I glared at her cutting her off, “I’m going to bed. Good night.” “I-- Good night, Master,” I watched her shuffle nervously as I dumped my plate in the sink. I went to my room, changed, and hopped into bed with a scowl on my face. I rolled onto my face, feeling a little bad about snapping at her like that. On the other hand, I didn’t need her acting like my therapist when she doesn’t know me. I woke up at two in the morning, needing to piss. I groaned as I got out of bed. I slowly opened my door and wandered across the hall. I flipped the bathroom light on and trudged inside. As I was about to pull my pants down, I heard a noise towards the bath. I jumped, Kimiko was lounging in the bath, drinking straight out of the sake bottle, “Anon,” She looked at me, a sad frown on her face, “Why are you not asleep?” She wasn’t wearing her eye patch, I saw her blind eye was a cloudy gray. “I-I just need to pee,” I couldn’t peel my eyes from her shapely breasts. “Do not let me stop you,” She took another swig from the bottle. “Just don’t look, please,” I quickly peed and got to washing my hands, “I’m sorry for snapping at you like that.” “I spoke out of turn and upset you. I should be apologizing to you,” She slowly climbed out of the bath, presenting her entire nude form to me. I couldn’t look away from her. Her large breasts bounced slightly as she stepped towards me, her muscular form highlighted by the water on her body reflecting the light. She got on her knees before me and bowed her head, “Please forgive me, Master.” I shifted, trying to hide my erection, “I forgive you, Kimiko,” She looked up at me and gave me a knowing smirk before standing before me, “Now, I’m sorry for snapping at you like I did.” “I expect you to grovel, Anon.” I nodded and got on my knees, bowing my head, “I apologize for lashing out at you, Kimiko.” “I forgive you. Now stand. A master should not be kneeling before his servant,” She helped me up, a sly smile on her face. “Yeah, yeah. I never was huge on formalities anyways. I’m going back to bed, I guess.” I turned to leave, stopped by Kimiko grabbing my shoulders, “Sleep well, Master,” She leaned in close to me, hesitated then released me into the hallway. I turned around and smiled at her. Maybe I didn’t want to be isolated anymore. I went to bed with a small smile on my face.
I sat at my desk and typed on my keyboard slowly. I was incredibly distracted. The eight hour grind was killing me. I couldn’t get Kimiko off of my mind. I found myself worrying about her, ‘I should have given her some money for lunch or invited her to come have lunch with me today,’ I thought to myself. On top of my regret, most every monster girl in the office was pestering me trying to figure out who the lady who they could slightly smell on me was. Thankfully, most left me alone when I said I didn’t want to talk about it yet, it was just a friendship right now. Most would chuckle and walk away when I said that. Other than that I would get a shrug and they would return to asking me about work stuff. I got out of work a few minutes early and rushed out of the building to our designated meeting place. It was a Friday and I was eager to get home. I frowned when I saw that Kimiko wasn’t there yet. I sat down on a nearby bench and pulled out my phone, entertaining myself with crappy phone games. “Ayy, you,” An angry female voice called out to me, I looked up to find myself surrounded by three hellhounds, and a kobold behind me, “Look at you dressin' like that. You must be lookin’ to get raped, huh?” The leader stepped towards me with a hungry grin on her face. “N-no, I uh, have a girlfriend,” I tried to stand up, but the kobold behind me was surprisingly strong. “I don’t see anyone ‘round here sisters. Sure he ain’t lyin’ to us?” Another growled, unamused by my lie. “Maybe we should teach ‘im a lesson?” The last chuckled. “I-I dunno, sisters,” The kobold mumbled, “I-I think I smell--” “Master,” I breathed a sigh of relief as Kimiko stomped up to the group, her wooden sandals loudly clacking on the concrete, “Are these... vermin bothering you?” She glared at the monsters surrounding me. The kobold backed off instantly. The leader growled, “Hey, back off bitch, we found him firs--” I watched as the hellhound was cut down the instant she tried to shove Kimiko. She fell to the ground with a pained groan. I looked back up to see her standing in a defensive stance, sword at the ready. “What the fuck did you--” The second hellhound took one step towards Kimiko and was taken down. “Oh, fuck this! I’m not fighting a goddamn ninja!” The last hellhound ran off. Kimiko sheathed her blade. I stared at the hellhounds on the ground, I was completely sure they were dead, “Relax,” Kimiko ordered as she reached into her kimono and pulled out a long Japanese style pipe, “They live. Demon silver blade,” She used the flames burning on one of the hellhound’s eyes to light the pipe before bringing to her lips and taking a long draw from it. The burning smell was sickeningly sweet. She blew a smoke ring above her head before turning her attention to the cowering kobold that the hound had left behind, “And now, what to do with you?” “I-I’m sorry! It won’t happen again!” The kobold cried, falling to her knees and protecting her head with her arms. “Just leave her alone,” I stood up and stepped over the groaning hellhounds, “Let's go home.” “She has lain her hands on my master. This requires action,” She drew her sword with one hand. I watched as she slashed the air right in front of the kobold and sheathed her sword in one fluid motion, “The sin has been cut from your body. You may go home guilt free.” “Th-thank you,” The kobold picked herself off the ground and ran off, tail between her legs. “I didn’t expect you to have the capacity for mercy,” I joked as I breathed a sigh of relief. “You have much to learn, Anon. It was not mercy. She was truthful in her apology, so I forgave her. It is the honorable thing to do,” She took another draw from the pipe, “Let us go home, hm?” She blew smoke over her shoulder before beginning to walk off. I blinked at the hellhounds on the ground. They began to stir, groaning quietly. I hurried up to walk side by side with Kimiko, “Thank you for showing up when you did.” “I am sorry I did not show up sooner,” She looked disappointed as she snuffed her pipe and put it away, “Those hounds nearly had their way with you.” “Don’t beat yourself up over it. Let's just get home and get some rest.” “Hmph, yes, I could do with a bath.” “You had one last night! You’re gonna drive my water bill way up!” “Perhaps we shall bathe together to save on water? The new bath is ready,” She informed me. “In one day? How many people were working on it?” “Just five oni that love their job. Do you still desire to pick up snack food for this weekend?” She paused as we passed a convenience store. “Oh, right I did. Do you want anything?” I asked as I stepped into the store, Kimiko close behind. “No thank you, Master,” She warily eyed every other person in the store. I quickly grabbed some Pringles. I eyed the candy section, I knew I shouldn’t, but I really wanted to. I got some candy as well. I brought them to the counter, paid and headed out of the store. I was stopped by a group of three lolis. A baphomet, werecat and witch, “Hey, mister? Would you buy a box of cookies to help fund our group?” They had the discontinued girl scout lemon cookies. I NEEDED those, “Yes, give me--” “Master,” Kimiko interrupted me in a hushed whisper, “Do not buy the cookies. These small tempresses are trying to pull you to the darkness.” “Uh, I can’t. Sorry,” I told the girls. “Okay! Thank you anyway!” They continued down the street. “How could you tell?” I asked my protective samurai as we continued walking. She glanced over her shoulder, “Sabbath coven. Not to be trusted or messed with. Stay away from them,” There was an almost terrifying intensity in her voice. “Okay, I’ll stay away from little demon girls, got it,” I gave her a small smile. “I just want you to stay safe, Master,” She gave me a concerned glance before we walking into my building. “I know you do, thanks for keeping me safe,” I chuckled as we boarded the elevator. A lone sphinx made the mistake of getting on with us, Kimiko stood deliberately between us, snarling at the sphinx if she even breathed in my direction. As soon as I got into my condo, Kimiko took my bag and coat and put them away before I slouched onto the couch, “Shall I prepare a bath for us?” She asked as she brought me a small glass of sake. “No, its a little early for that. I would rather bathe before bed,” I replied, desperately praying she couldn't figure out why I was really saying no. “As you wish. How about cooking for you?” “Sure, I’ll let you do that at least.” “Excellent. I shall begin cooking within the hour. How is your back?” “Just grillin’ me with questions, huh?” I let out a small laugh, “My back is fine, thank you. Still feels good from the work you did on it last night.” “Wonderful. It is my duty to plan my days around yours, that is why I ask,” She sat on the floor on her knees near me, I could have sworn she was looking at me longingly, “Do you have weekend plans?” “Not really. Might try to play some games though. Maybe see if I can get in contact with some friends. What are you gonna do this weekend?” “I believe I should give you some sword training. If something happens to me, you need to be able to protect yourself. Come,” She ordered as she stood and headed to her room. ‘I thought I was the master,’ I wondered to myself as I stood and followed her. By the time I got there she had already set various blades on her bed, “That’s a lot of swords. What are they, exactly?” “Four katanas, a nodachi, a few tantos, a multitude of throwing weapons,” She pointed at the blades as She proudly presented them, “and two bokkens,” She held up the two wooden swords and handed one to me, “I am very glad that I thought to bring them so I am not teaching you with sharpened blades.” I swung the sword at the air like I had seen her do, “What's so hard about swinging a big metal stick?” I foolishly asked. It was a teasing comment, just trying to get a reaction out of her. She glared at me as if I had just spit on the grave of a million of her ancestors, “Swing at me, Anon,” She held the wooden sword at her side as if it was sheathed, “If it so easy you will connect, right?” “Uh, can I choose not to?” “Swing. At. Me,” She demanded once more. I sighed, this wouldn’t end well. I held my sword in a similar fashion to what she had earlier, before swinging it like a baseball bat. Kimiko easily brought her sword up to block it with one hand, a look of surprise flashed across her face. She blinked, the anger returned. In one swift motion, she knocked me to the floor by pushing against my chest, climbed on top of me, and pinned me by putting the flat of the wooden blade against my neck and holding it there with both hands. Her look softened as I struggled underneath her, “I didn’t expect you to to put that much force behind it. I must say, I am a little impressed,” I had no response, she was pushing down slightly on my windpipe making me struggle a little to breath, “Beg me to forgive you, Anon,” She growled, pushing the wooden sword against me further, rage in her one good eye. “Kimiko! Stop!” Was all I could utter in a pained cry. Instantly, she pulled the sword back, still stradling me. I turned and coughed hard, “M-M-Master, I--” Tears formed in her eye. I started laughing, confusing and interrupting her, “Calm down, I’m tougher than I look. Get off me, would you?” “Of course,” She climbed off of me and stood up. She reached down to help me up but I pushed her hands away, electing to sit on my knees. I bowed my head to her, ready to grovel, “Stop, Master,” Kimiko demanded before I could speak, “I do not deserve your kindness and an apology after how I acted.” I looked up at her, guilt wracking ever part of her, “I set you off. Don’t feel too bad about it,” I gave her a smile. “I went into a battle rage. On my own master. I am supposed to be a master of self control, only losing myself when necessary. To think I would lose myself at a time like this when you are only acting like a fool. The only thing I deserve right now is death,” She reached down and pulled me to my feet before falling to her knees, placing her face at my feet, “Master, I beg for your forgiveness. I know I do not deserve it, and that I have brought great shame to myself, but I beg you for this one kindness so that my guilt may be relieved somewhat,” She quickly reached for her bed, I was afraid she was going to grab her iron blade and do herself in right here, but the katana she grabbed she held up for me to take, “I present you this, a treasured blade from my family, as an offering to you, my Master.” I took the sword from her, checking the blade. The slightly pink blade shined brightly in the light. The hilt and sheath were both inlaid with gold designs on top of a white fabric. It felt old and heavy in my hands. I turned my attention back down to Kimiko, “I forgive you. Are you sure you want me to have this sword? Its like an ancient artifact.” “That is exactly what it is. It is yours now,” She replied as she stood before me. She bowed to me, “Thank you for your kindness once again,” She pulled out her pipe again and lit it with a match. She inhaled deeply from it, letting the smoke sit in her lungs. “You deserve it no matter what you think. What is that you’re smoking?” I opened a window so she could blow the smoke out it. Thankfully, she got the message, “It is the same sweet herb that you drank in the tea I gave you. This is but another way to partake of its effects,” She exhaled a large amount of smoke out the window, “This, sake and a bath are what I need tonight. I would wish you to partake of my relaxation ritual with me as well.” “Sure, if it makes you feel like there is no bad blood between us.” “Thank you. I will begin dinner now. Go ahead and relax, Master.” I sat at the table across from Kimiko, her eyes were glued to the food she had made us. She hadn’t spoken to me since we sat down. She picked at her rice with her chopsticks, barely eating, “Kimiko, what's wrong?” She continued looking down, “I have been thinking. What if I am the darkness in your life? What if I am just here to hurt you?” “You make one mistake and now you think you’re some kind of evil,” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit, “You’ve been nothing but a blessing to have around. Making sure I stay healthy, safe and well-fed is more than any other woman has done for me. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.” She slowly looked up at me, her sad frown slowly turning into a wide, happy smile. She coughed and brought back her usual intense look, “I appreciate your kind words. Allow me to finish my food and I will prepare the bath.” I stood outside of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my waist, “Master, the water is hot and ready for you,” Kimiko called from inside the room. I was incredibly nervous, “Promise you won’t do anything weird!” “I promise to be as non-lewd as being nude together allows,” She cracked the door open letting steam exit the room. She grabbed my arm and brought me inside. She was already naked, smoking her pipe slowly. A full bottle of sake and two glasses were set on the edge of the large tiled bath, along with a few other smaller bottles. She turned and climbed into the bath, sitting on the built-in bench, “Come, sit,” I nodded and got into the bath with her, being forced to sit in her lap. She handed me a glass of sake, “Would you like to try my pipe?” “No thank you,” I was leaning forwards, elbows on my thighs, a glass of sake in one hand. I closed my eyes and let the heat of the water soothe me along with the sweet smell of whatever Kimiko was smoking. She pressed her hand against my back, causing me to jump. She chuckled, “It is only soap, Master. Or is it me that scares you? Relax and let me take care of you.” I nodded, letting her run her hands over me. When she was done with my back, she rinsed me off before wrapping her arms around me and pulling me against her. She started lathering my chest, “I’m not a baby, I can wash myself, Kimiko.” “I am aware of that. I merely wish to make your life easier, Master. Allow me to rinse you off,” My head was placed right between her large breasts. I sat nervously as she slowly and carefully got the soap off my chest, “In my culture willingness to show yourself nude to another is the ultimate sign of trust, showing you have nothing to hide and no need for weapons. I trust you like this. Do you trust me?” “I have no reason not to trust you, Kimiko,” I shifted into a comfortable position, “If you wanted to do something bad to me you have had ample opportunities.” “You do not know what hearing you say that means to me. Would you be willing to wash my back, Master?” I smiled, “Of course.” She stood before me, back to me, smoking slowly on her pipe. I stood and started lathering soap on her. Her back was covered in scars. One stood out to me, one that went from her left shoulder down to her waist. I absentmindedly traced it with my finger, causing her to shiver, “Master,” She begged, “Please do not tickle me.” “Or what?” I teased, finger poking at her back. “I-- I will do nothing to stop you, do as you please,” She looked down, defeated. “I won’t tickle you, let me rinse you off.” She sat back down, forcing me into her lap again. There was enough room for the two of us to sit on the bench, I had no idea why she insisted on this, “Thank you,” She wrapped me in her arms again, letting out an elated sigh. “Is your clan usually this cuddly and intimate with their masters?” I joked as I took another drink of sake. “I--I--” She pulled her arms off of me and folded them, “I apologize, I forgot my place,” She snuffed her pipe and climbed out of the bath, “Please enjoy the rest of your bath, Master,” The absolutely joyless tone she used made my heart ache. I didn’t even have time to tell her to stay, she was out the door so quickly with only a towel wrapped around her. I drank the rest of my sake in an uncomfortable silence before pouring another glass. The once comfortable and hot bath now felt empty and lukewarm. I got angry at myself for upsetting her and drained the water. I sat on the edge of the bath wrapped in a towel, ‘What am I doing?’ I asked myself silently. I sat in the empty bathroom alone, I didn’t have an answer to my question. I left the bathroom to find Kimiko standing in the hall dressed in what looked like a gi. She nodded at me with a blank stare, “Get some sleep, okay?” I pleaded. “I will, Master. Good night,” She was completely neutral in tone. “Good night,” I put my hand on her shoulder. A small comforting smile on my face. Her intense gaze softened slightly. My hand moved closer to her neck and I pressed my forehead into her shoulder I let out a long sigh, unsure of what I wanted to say to her, unsure of how to tell her how I felt. “Master,” She whispered, grabbing my shoulders and pulling me away from her, “Maintain your composure in front of your servant. Rest. You have a relaxing weekend ahead of you,” She gave me a small smile. I nodded and walked slowly to my room, looking at her over my shoulder. Saturday was going slowly, I was playing Soul Calibur Two while Kimiko stood nearby, scanning the room every few moments. It was after dinner and she had maybe said 15 words to me all day. I felt no joy in the room as I played through the story mode. Eventually, I tossed the controller down in frustration, “Is something wrong, Master? I was sure you had him this time,” Kimiko commented. “Ah, nah, that guy is some B S,” I was mostly frustrated with myself. Thankfully, she didn’t pick up on it, or chose not to, “I think I’m gonna go out tonight.” “Where are we going, Master?” She asked. “I was thinking of going alone, maybe with some friends,” I told her gently. She looked taken aback, “Master. I must implore you not to go alone.” I rolled my eyes, “Why? What is the problem?” “Because another monster--” “Could force herself on me, I know.” “Am I upsetting you, Master?” I clenched my fists, “I can’t do this anymore, Kimiko. I don’t want to be your master any more. I want to be something different.” “I see. You wish to be rid of me.” “No!” I shouted, “I want to be able to spend time with you and just hang out or something. I don’t want you to feel like we can’t talk and be... friends or something... more. Like dating, ya’know?” I sat silently, waiting for Kimiko to say something to me. I stood and looked at her standing behind me. Her face was flushed and she was breathing heavily while gripping her sword tightly. She stared at me, her one good eye’s pupil was heart shaped, “Master... It is a full moon tonight... I... I... Must control myself,” She closed her eyes and attempted to regulate her breathing, “I must. Be. Strong.” I pondered for a few moments, trying to remember what that meant. It hit me like a boulder, the full moon brought about lust in a monster and raised their aggression, “Aw, shit,” I stepped away from her nervous as to what she would do. Her eye shot open, “Where are you going, Master?” She growled. She stepped towards me, shaking the room as she stomped. Her sword was halfway out of its sheath. Fear shot through me, “N-nowhere. Just the bathroom! I need to piss!” I took a few careful steps away. “Are you... LYING to me!?” She demanded, glaring. I took a few steps back, still moving towards the bathroom. She took another step towards me. As soon as she made a fast movement, drawing her sword. I dashed into the bathroom and locked the door. She tried the handle. I heard nothing for a few moments. I sighed in relief. What a fool I was. The door flew open as Kimiko shoulder checked it. The door fell off its hinges, slamming on the ground. I stifled a scream as she slowly turned her head towards me, “Aaaaaanoooonn...” She stepped towards me. I stepped away, very little space between me and the bathtub. Another step towards me, sword drawn, “Why do you run away from me? I thought you wanted to be... something MORE.” “I-I-I--Ah!” I let out a surprised noise as I slipped in a little puddle on the tiled floor as I stepped back. The back of my head slammed into the edge of the bathtub, “Fuck!” I shouted in pain, grabbing my head. Kimiko gasped and rushed towards me. In one motion she swooped me up in her arms and dashed into my room. My clothes were removed in a few moments before I was set gently on my bed. I watched her take off her kimono, revealing the cloth wrappings around her woman parts. She climbed into bed with me, clutching me tightly with her arms, pulling my head near her neck as she gently pet me. Her legs wrapped around mine, immobilizing me, “Master... Nothing can hurt you now... I am so sorry,” She sobbed quietly. I let her cry it out as she continued to grip me tightly. “Kimiko,” I spoke quietly in a soothing voice. I reached a hand up and caressed her face, “I’m okay, don’t cry.” I was pulled up to face level with her, “You... You are not upset with me?” “I could never be mad at you for long,” I laughed despite the pain. She blinked, the heart pupil returning, “Master... You are MINE tonight,” She held me still as she rubbed her face against mine as she made a deep rumbling noise in her throat with a happy and content smile on her face. Chuffing, I later learned what it was called. I shifted, trying to get a little more comfortable. Claws dug into me as she growled. “Okay, okay, I’ll lie still,” I pet her as she went back to rubbing up against me. “Master, you smell wonderful,” It was almost a moan as she pressed her face against my chest. “Is it the fear or the blood?” She chuckled, “All of you. I want ALL of you right now.” I thought she was going to ravage me, but all she did was continue clinging to me and making noises. She breathed heavily on my neck, mumbling in her native tongue. I reached up and scratched her behind the ear. She made a few more happy noises before starting to snore loudly. We both fell asleep, hugging each other. I woke up with Kimiko still wrapped around me. She was awake, softly chuffing as she rubbed her cheeks against my chest. I pat her head, “How are you feeling?” I ran my fingers through her hair. It was down right now and fell around her shoulders. “I am well. Very well, thank you. How are you, Master?” She asked without letting me go. “I thought I said I don’t want to be your master anymore.” “May I speak to you from the heart?” “Permission granted,” I slapped myself for still playing along as her master. “I enjoy serving you. Keeping you safe and healthy is what makes me happy. Making you happy makes me happy. Please do not make me give this up, I still have a job to do protecting you.” I sighed, “Alright. I’m still your master. When this darkness thing ends, maybe we can start dating.” “Of course, Master. Do you wish for me to begin breakfast?” “Nah, keep resting with me.” She smiled at me, “As you wish.”
I woke up to Kimiko nuzzling against my face, that same deep chuffing that I hear every morning was music to my ears, “Master. It is time to wake up,” She whispered into my ear. I opened my eyes and smiled at her, “Good morning,” I whispered as I sat up and stretched. She stood next to my bed wearing a black kimono with pink flowers on the right side. I sat up, “Are we gonna try to get back into the sword training soon?” I eyed the antique sword that I had hanging above the TV in my room. “Perhaps sometime soon. I am still afraid of hurting you again.” “Oh? You’re afraid of something? I thought you were a fearless samurai,” I chuckled as I changed into my work slacks and polo. She ran her knuckles down my spine, making me jump, “More fearless than you, Master. I will get your breakfast going.” I followed her out quickly, sitting at the table, “I’m a bit nervous today.” “You will do wonderfully, Master. You will... ‘Kill it,’ at your meeting today,” She gave me a small chuckle at her own joke. I shook my head, “If you taught me some fighting, maybe I could actually kill it today,” I retorted with another joke. “Master, my fighting style is only to be used in defence of myself or my master. If I taught it to you, I would expect you to abide by the same code.” “Of course.” The toaster dinged, sending the toast a bit into the air. With lightning reflexes, Kimiko drew her sword, spun around to face the toaster, and sliced all four pieces in half. The pieces fell around the toaster as she abashedly sheathed her sword, “I forgot about the ding.” I laughed as she picked up the pieces and got to lightly buttering them, “I wish I could do things like that,” I mused as I was handed a plate of toast. “Perhaps one day. First I have to get you to hold a sword right, then to swing, stab, block, parry and dodge correctly,” She poured me a glass of orange juice and sat across from me at the table, “Reflex training will come naturally, Master.” “What comes after all of that?” “Well, if you are serious about what you said last weekend, Master. Perhaps we... Start our own clan? That is, if you know what I mean,” She had a sly smile on her face as she winked at me. I wiped some sweat from my brow, “Uh, ha ha, yeah I know what you mean,” I started sweating more when she licked her lips. “Master, we should get going. You will be late for work.” “Shit, you’re right,” I quickly adjusted my pants to hide the fact that I was currently full mast before Kimiko helped me put my jacket on and handed me my bag. We took the elevator down and walked out into the cold of the morning air. I shivered as a breeze nipped at my skin, “You may wear my kimono over your coat if you are cold,” My servant offered. “And make you walk around in your wrappings? Hell no, I can live.” “Such a kind man, always thinking of others,” She chuckled. “Do you get into any combat when I’m not around?” “Sadly, no. There is not much use for my kind any more,” She looked down, “Should I just give up the blade? Perhaps take up another hobby?” “Even if you put the sword down, do you think you can put your fierce and protective spirit? Can you stop fighting for the rest of your life?” She thought for a few moments, “I believe I could, I am skilled and well versed in self control,” She told me proudly. “What if I set you off? I seem to be the one thing-- other than the toaster, that can get through that iron will of yours.” She grumbled, “I do not fear the toaster. I am just aware that electronics will rise up one day and I am prepared to fight them in your name.” I laughed at her excuse, “Anything you say. Well,” I sighed, knowing I would have to spend another work day without her presence. I just smiled at her, knowing I’d get to see her again in nine hours. “I will see you after work, Master,” She awkwardly wrapped her arms around me. A tight hug. I hugged her back before heading into my office. I took a deep breath before walking into the meeting room. I was the last one in, as always. I had to put a few finishing touches on the application I was showing. I sat at a meeting table with my boss, a gremlin a group of stakeholders and customers. The gremlin stuck her tongue out at me as I prepared my laptop. She was the leader of another team and believed we were in some sort of competition with one another even though our projects worked hand in hand. My boss gave the usual long winded beginning of meeting speech about how we’re all giving it our all and we will get these projects done. She turned the table over to the gremlin. She had no presentation, as always. She brought out a tome, some kind of spell book augmented with tablets and other mechanical features it didn’t need, “We’re getting it done. Got this here to cast a big spell and get the data we want.” “Does it work?” One of the stakeholders asked, a weresheep and higher up in the state government asked. This project was supposed to be for this city, but the state government wanted it now. I still hardly understood how any of this was supposed to be useful. “Well, Gwen,” The gremlin seethed at her, “No. It blows up. But thats because my boss and HR want to put more humans and girls who have no clue about magi-tech on my team!” “O-ok,” The weresheep just wanted to get away from this shouting gremlin now. I wanted to as well, “Anon, could you begin now?” “Of course,” I plugged my laptop in and turned to one of the wall mounted screens. My GUI I had developed came into view, “Here’s the interface we just finished. It connects with our server which will hold the special information and the city’s already existing server that has information like where they live.” “Is it ready for a demo, Anon?” My succubus boss asked. “Yeah. Here, I’ll put my name in here and hit search. As you can see, my address is here, height, hair color, marital status--” I froze. My marital status read ‘married.’ I clicked it and was forwarded to another page. Kimiko Tora. I shook my head, I was still in a meeting after all, “As you can see, it takes you to... my wife’s page when I click on the marital status. There’s a bunch of other stuff here, but we’d be here all day if I went through everything. If you’re interested in a complete and in-depth list email me and I’ll have a list sent to you.” I sat back in my chair, a 1000 yard stare on my face. My boss gave a closing speech, answered a few questions for the stakeholders before the meeting broke. Questions like ‘who has access to this information currently?’ The answer was me and my boss. I tuned out most of the conversation as state representatives gave us some new requirements if they were going to use the product. As soon as everyone else my boss turned to me, excitement on her face, “You got married!?” She squealed. “I’m not married,” I shook my head in disbelief, “She tricked me. Kimiko tricked me.” My boss put a hand on my shoulder, “Are you alright, Anon?” “I’ll be fine. I just... need a few moments.” “You can take the rest of the day off if you want to, Anon,” She picked up her things and headed towards the door. “There’s only an hour left, boss,” I slowly packed up my things and headed back to my team, all eager to ask me how the presentation went. All I said was ‘good’ and sat at my desk. I opened up the GUI on my desktop and looked at myself again. Again, the marital status read married and led me to Kimiko’s page. I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how this had happened. I printed a copy of the page, still unsure if I wanted to call Kimiko out on this. I slowly left work a little late, mind still reeling at what had developed today. I spotted Kimiko who was confidently striding towards me, her tail swishing back and forth behind her, “How was work, Master?” She gave me a small smile as she stood before me. “It was fine,” It wasn’t really a lie, the meeting went well besides that one hang up. “Is something wrong?” I should have known that she would sense something. “Oh, just got a nasty surprise during the meeting. Some new requirements for my project if we want to get a much larger user on board.” “Ah,” She didn’t understand, “Shall we be headed home? I have a new recipe I wish to try making for you. I pray it will cheer you up a bit and give you the vigor required for another day of work tomorrow.” “I hope so,” I was quiet for most of the walk home, suffocated by my own thoughts and fears. I only spoke when Kimiko asked me a question or made an observation. I got home, Kimiko took my coat and bag and I sat down on the couch staring at the floor, “Master,” She got on her knees directly in front of me, “What is wrong? I am very much missing your usual chipper attitude,” She put her hands on my knees, and looked at me pleadingly. “Just... We can talk later. I need to think about some things.” She looked at me intensely for a few moments before breaking out into a small smile. She reached up and caressed my face with her surprisingly soft hands, “Take your time, Master. You can speak to me about everything. I will listen to anything you have to say.” I nodded and gave her a weak smile, “Thank you.” “I shall prepare dinner now. How do you like your hamburgers cooked?” “Uh, medium well is fine.” “Where is the deep fryer? I have had some potatoes soaking in water since lunch.” “You’re suddenly interested in American food, huh? My small deep fryer is in the bottom of the pantry and needs some oil.” “Thank you, Master. Hopefully dinner should be ready in an hour.” I stared out the window at the dark streets, the food had just finished. It was about seven thirty, “Dinner is ready!” Kimiko called as she set the table. I had been stewing, growing angry as I waited for the food. The anger stemmed from me trying to figure out how this supposed marriage had come about. Was Kimiko just using me to get out of Japan? Did she really love me? Had she been telling me the truth? I felt nothing but agony as I thought about it. I had just confessed some feelings for her the other day and now I felt nothing mattered, like I was hurt again by another woman. I sat in my usual spot across from Kimiko as she placed a plate in front of me. She looked at me expectantly, wanting me to take a bite of the burger and fries. I did, “How is it?” She demanded. “Very good, thank you,” I replied, trying the crispy hand cut fries, they were also good. “Wonderful!” She happily went back to eating her burger with two patties on it. I was frustrated with her fake happiness. I ate slowly, planning my next few moves. I just wanted to get out and be by myself for a while. When I finished eating, I looked up at Kimiko who had finished eating a while ago and was giving me a small smile, “I need to go out for a while,” I told her. “It is dark, I shall accompany you, Master.” “Kimiko. I found out something at work. Something about you,” I showed her the papers I had printed. After a few seconds of reading, the confusion on her face turned to fear as the color drained from her face. “Master, I can--” “Kimiko,” I interrupted her, “I need some time alone. I just can’t trust you right now,” As I started to put my coat on, I thought I heard Kimiko start to cry. I left with nothing but the clothes on my back and a key to my condo in my pocket. I stared up at the sky as I sat on a bench in an almost completely disused park. The moon gave me some vision despite being mostly concealed by clouds. I was curious what kind of excuse Kimiko would have for me when I went home. I doubted she would be gone when I returned. I wondered if I would have to call the police to remove her from my home. Get the police to remove what had been the only source of happiness and warmth in my life in a long while. I sighed as I placed my head in my hands, making an anguished noise. I heard a noise, someone approaching me. Multiple people. I looked up. A small group of lolis had approached me. “Hi, mister,” It was the same ones that asked me to buy a box of cookies, “Are you alright?” The leader, a baphomet, asked me. A werecat sat on the bench with me and the third and fourth members, a kunoichi and an inari stayed with their little wagon of cookies and a second, larger wagon with nothing but a blanket in it. I shrugged, “I just feel betrayed and sad now.” “I’m sorry to hear that, onii-chan,” I was confused why she suddenly started calling me that, “Want a box of cookies?” “I don’t have any cash, sorry.” “On us! Take it! We don’t like seeing onii-chans sad.” They offered me a box of those lemon cookies, the ones that the girl scouts stopped making years ago, “Sure, what the hell,” I opened the box and ate a few cookies. I sighed happily, I loved these cookies. “How is it?” “Good! I haven't--” I felt woozy. All four of the lolis gave me menacing grins as whatever they had put in the cookies took affect. My heart raced, I tried to stand and run, but I could not will my body to move, “You should sit, onii-chan. You might get hurt when you collapse,” She cackled as my vision blurred. I went limp, still partially conscious. I was on the verge of blacking out, “Load him in the cart! We need to get him to the hideout before anyone sees us.” “Alright, boss!” The other three saluted the baphomet before picking me up and putting me in the cart, draping a blanket over me. I blacked out as the cart started being wheeled away. I woke up, tied up with quite a bit of rope. I heard a crank being pulled as I started being dragged up towards the ceiling. I was hanging from the ceiling, wrapped in ropes. A bright light was shined in my face as the baphomet from earlier stepped towards me. My head was at the same height as hers, “How are you feeling onii-chan?” She pushed me with a grin on her face, causing me to swing. “Put me down, I’m gonna vomit,” I pleaded, my stomach churning. “Put him down!” The baphomet called into the darkness. I was slowly lowered onto the floor, “Better?” “Yeah, thanks,” I sighed, trying to remember what was happening. Everything came to my mind all at once, “What do you want from me?” “You’re working on a program for your government, right?” “Uh, yeah?” A laptop was brought out of the darkness by the werecat, my work laptop. “We want into your system.” “Why? Its not even done!” “Who told you that? That lying gremlin?” They brought out the magi-tech tome that would supposedly explode. She opened it and uttered some magic words causing the tome to light up and drew in arcane energy around it. Words began to fill its pages and attached USB memory. All data like preferences in women “You mean you’ve got that part working and just need my end to complete this project? Then what?” “Then we find perfect onii-chans for all of us!” The overhead lights turned on and I saw I was in a warehouse with a few crates off to the sides against the walls. There were roughly 12 lolis, all either on some children’s play equipment or messing with stockpiles of weapons. All of them were cosplaying as ninjas. A closer look showed me that all of their weapons were toys. “And if I refuse?” “Hmph. Then we will edit your entry in your precious database and make you legally married to me! My own onii-chan!” She cackled, “That way, I may use the laws of this land to get what I want from you!” “Look, even if I wanted to help you, I can’t. I need my phone so I can connect to the server.” “Call his phone! I know onii-chans always have their phones!” Another loli shouted. One of them pulled out a phone and called it. It rang, I of course didn’t have it on me. To my surprise, someone picked it up, “This is Master Anon’s phone. He is not here right now, can I take a message?” It was Kimiko. This phone mader her sound much more higher pitched. “Listen here, servant. If you don’t bring your master’s phone to us, I’ll rape him and make him my husband!” The baphomet cackled again. Kimiko was silent for a time, “Where are you? I’ll bring it. Anything for him.” “The old canning warehouse down by the docks. Come alone. If you call the cops we’ll make sure you regret it.” “Of course. I’ll be there soon.” My heart started to race. That calm tone Kimiko had put me in a panic. I looked at the baphomet, “You need to let me go.” “Let you go!?” She laughed. The rest of the loli ninjas laughed as well, “Why would we ever do that? You know what? Just for such a dumb demand, open up the database. I want to make some edits to his page.” “Change his name to Anon Doodoohead!” One called. “Oh! I like that!” The baphomet was handed my laptop and she started reading the page, “Married?” She looked up at me, “I don’t smell anything on you.” “We... had a fight and that's why I was alone,” I explained, “She’s gonna come here and--” An explosion rocked the warehouse, when the smoke cleared, a warehouse door had been blown up. When the smoke cleared, a lone woman stood amongst the rubble. Despite the tiger mask she wore, I knew it was kimiko. She was wielding at least five swords covering her body. She slowly scanned the room before drawing a katana I hadn’t seen before. The blade was black and had no shine. She ran a hand over the blade and runes lit up with a purple glow, “Spell breaker!” One of the shinobi called. “We are the shinobi sabbath!” The baphomet drew two plastic knives, “We won’t back down from a fight!” She confidently told her group. They all leapt into action, forming a small tactical formation in front of Kimiko. Kimiko wielded the sword with one hand, resting it on her shoulder. Her other hand was near the opening of her kimono. I feared for the sabbath more than I did Kimiko; inverse ninja theory and all that. The baphomet foolishly cast a spell at Kimiko who cut the bolt of energy in half in an instant. A smoke grenade was thrown into the group, shrouding them all in fog. I was a little disappointed by the fact I couldn’t watch the carnage. When the smoke cleared, Kimiko stood victorious, few cuts on her body. She breathed heavily underneath her mask. I was surprised that she hadn’t cut down any of them, merely disarmed them. She sheathed the black blade and drew her usual demon silver katana. “Stand your ground, sisters!” The baphomet attempted to reinvigorate her comrades. It didn’t work, they scattered most hiding behind crates, larger toys and anything else they could find. Kimiko took one step towards the unarmed baphomet, who instantly fled as well. I could hear some of the lolis cry as my protector continued to stomp into the warehouse, “Kimiko!” I called out to her, struggling against my binds. She looked at me then back to the sabbath. She slowly moved towards me and cut me loose. I hopped up and her a hug, surprising her, “Let’s go home.” “Master,” She growled, “I cannot forgive these vermin.” “Kimiko, I’m fine! I don’t care about them! Let’s just go, please,” I pleaded. She sighed and shook her head, removing the mask, “Only someone kind as you could forgive your own kidnappers,” She chuckled, “Hear this, shinobi sabbath!” She shouted, “If I EVER see any of you again or you threaten my master, I will ruin your group, salt your fields and make sure the rest of your lives are hell! And make sure you never find yourself an onii-chan!” The sabbath whimpered at her threats, “Do I make myself clear?” The lolis gave a fearful, “Yes,” as they came back into the open. “Good. Come, Master, I must see you home.” We walked quietly, rain falling around us. We took a shortcut through the park where Kimiko stopped me, “Master,” She knelt before me, “I have wronged you.” “Kimiko--” I started. “Do not try to forgive me. I tricked you for your signature so I could claim you as my husband as a way to protect you.” “So they could not put in fake paperwork to claim me as a husband as get what they want from me, backed by the law,” I guessed. “Yes. It was merely another way of protecting you. It is also how my parents were married, her protecting him. I had always thought it to be very romantic. I am sure you wish to be rid of me now. Here,” She handed me a katana. I unsheathed it, the soft light of the moon glinted off of the iron blade, “Kill me, Master Anon. For my terrible sins against you. I just ask that you make it quick,” She hung her head, exposing the back of her neck to me. I brought the sword up above my head. With as much grace as I could muster, I swung the sword at Kimiko. She blinked and looked up at me, confusion on her face, “I have cut the sin from your body,” I explained, “You can come home guilt free. Now get up, you’ll ruin that kimono,” I sheathed the sword and offered it back to her. “How!?” She angrily shouted at me as she stood up, “How can you so easily forgive me after I continually do wrong!?” “Because I love you. I want to be your husband. I was just surprised really, I don’t know how I could have doubted your true feelings for me. I guess I just wanted to propose to you in an old fashioned way.” Her anger turned to shock as she stared at me. Even through the rain, I could see her tears, “Let's go home, Master,” She wiped her face with the sleeve of her clothes, “I-I-I love you too,” She told me very quietly. We got home, both drenched with rain. Kimiko hadn’t spoken since the park. I grabbed the sake out of the fridge and poured us both a glass, “Thanks for saving me, by the way,” I dumped my work laptop and the magi-tech tome on my couch, “Looks like you vanquished the darkness, Kimiko.” She slowly looked at me, “And you forgave them,” She chuckled, “Master, I do not think I can continue acting like this.” “What do you mean?” “This facade I have worn. I wish to open up to you more,” She took off her clothes and brought them to the laundry. I looked at her, laughing a bit, “Of course! We’re married, right? Just be yourself with me.” She walked up to me, a smile on her face, “I am going to bed, Master. You should soon as well,” She gave me a hug, took her glass of sake and drank it quickly. I watched her walk into my room, looking back at me with a smirk. I downed my sake and took a deep breath. I walked into my room, the lights were off, “Please don’t jump out and grab me,” I groaned, reaching for a lamp. The lamp softly illuminated the room. Kimiko was sitting on the edge of my bed, naked, legs spread invitingly, “Clothes off,” I nodded, stripping down, “Do you wish to take lead, Master?” She reached her arms out, desiring to hold me close. “I guess so. I’ve never done this before,” My heart raced as I walked into her embrace, she was already dripping wet and I was full mast. “Neither have I, love.” She draped her arms over my shoulders, quickly pulling me into a deep kiss. I wrapped my arms around her waist, sticking my member inside of her. I slowly thrusted, easing us both into it. She moaned loudly into my mouth. She pulled her mouth away from mine, panting, a trail of saliva between us. She panted harder as I began to thrust into her. She nearly crushed my windpipe as she clung to me, her claws gently raking across my back. I picked up the pace of my thrusting causing her to moan loudly again, almost a howl this time. Sweat dripped down our bodies while we clung desperately to each other, unwilling to let the other go as pleasure caused us both to shiver and moan, “I-I’m gonna--” I panted, a little disappointed I didn’t last longer. “Giveittome,” She almost crazily demanded, “Don’tyoudarepulloutofme. IwantitsobadAnon,” She cried as she began to violently orgasm. Her muscular body clung to me, her legs wrapping around me, pulling me deeper into her as I came. It felt like she was squeezing every drop as we both orgasmed. When we were done, I slumped over, my head resting on her shoulder, “I love you, Anon,” She whispered into my ear between pants for more air. She brought a hand up and pet my head gently. “I love you too,” I groaned, my body hurting from her nearly crushing me. “I cannot wait to have a wonderful litter of children with you~” She sang as she pulled me onto the bed, spooning me. We were lying together, sweat dripping down our hot bodies. I attempted to roll over and give her a hug, “Let me hold you, Anon,” She tightened her grip on me, chuffing lightly. I nodded as she licked the back of my neck, her rough tongue felt wonderful on my skin. She started kissing my neck and scalp as I started to lazily drift off to sleep, “Sleep well, Anon.” I woke up late. Kimiko hadn’t woken me up for work. The clock read 8:46. I tried to get up and get ready but large, powerful claws pulled me back up against my wife. A claw lazily traced my jugular as she mumbled in her native language, still asleep. I managed to grab my phone. I had a few texts from people at work asking me where I was, ‘Is everything okay?’ A panicked text from my boss read, ‘Anon, where are you?’ I called her, just wanting to let her know that I’m fine. She picked up instantly, “Anon!? Are you alive?” “Yeah, yeah,” I replied with a yawn, “I don’t think the wife is letting me come in today. She’s currently got claws on my throat. Just put me down for a sick day, okay?” She was quiet, “I understand, Anon. I remember when I used to do that. Those claws sound pretty kinky~” She teased. “Boss, please don’t--” A large hand took the phone from me, “Who is this?” Kimiko protectively growled. She listened to my boss ramble for a minute, “Drinks? I would like that. A double date sounds wonderful, yes.” I took the phone back, “Hey, if anyone is looking for the gremlin team tome, I have it. Some people stole it but I got it back. Also, my work laptop is here. If you--” Kimiko nabbed the phone once more, “I am going to ravage Anon. Goodbye,” She hung up the phone, turning to me with hunger in her eyes. She got on top of me, running her hands over my chest, “I need more of your seed, Anon. I must be sure we have the strongest children.” “Okay,” I whimpered, getting hard as she gripped my shaft, licking her lips as she stared into my eyes. “Do not fear, Anon. I will not hurt you. Much.” I was out, late at night. A cloak draped over my body, katana at my hip. I approached the warehouse, the one I had been kidnapped in. I approached the entrance, pushing the door open without a second thought. I observed the sabbath cult sitting around, bored. Their attention turned to me as I walked into the room, hood concealing my face. They quickly surrounded me, weapons drawn, “Who are you? How did you know we were here?” The baphomet demanded. I took off the hood, a smile on my face, “Hello again.” They all gasped, backing away from me, “Y-you! Wh-where is your protector?” Weapons were thrown on the ground as I turned to look at all of them. “At home. I have something for you. Call me soft, or an idiot, but I kind of sympathized with your cause for abducting me,” I reached into the sleeve of my cloak and pulled out a scroll tube, “Information from our finished product. Roughly thirty potential onii-chans for you to look into.” The baphomet slowly took it from me, opening it up and observing the papers, “Why?” “Like I said. I sympathised with you. Just looking for love and all of that. Made me realize I had that love in my life already.” The baphomet gave me a huge smile, tears in her eyes, “Thank you!” I got hugs from most of them, “You’re our honorary onii-chan. Come back anytime you want to play.” I chuckled, “Maybe sometime,” I left, waving at them. I pushed the door open and left, “That was very kind of you,” A voice made me jump. Kimiko walked out of the shadows. “Honey, you should be in bed!” I walked over to her, putting my hand on her pregnant belly. “I could not leave you to walk around in the dark alone.” I shook my head, “Fine, honey. Let’s go home,” I took her hand and walked home, smiling at each other.