It had been funny. That’s what bothered Reynardine most about having been locked in Annie’s small coffer once again for something he didn’t realize was an infraction to her morals. The joke had been so good it had made Ysengrin laugh back when the fox and the humourless wolf still kept their mutual disdain amicably hostile. But this was further proof that sometime in the last two decades of human civilization the better half of the jokes he knew had become unrepeatable for modern sensibilities.
Reynardine learnt this particular joke was one of those he could never use again when, following a compliment Annie had made on Kat’s recent haircut, he had repeated a funny and insightful comment about gypsies and hygiene he had heard from a French barber almost a century ago. It didn’t take as much wit to realize he had overstepped an invisible boundary when he saw the brunette’s jaw drop and his red headed mistress had looked at him like she wanted to strangle him.
The fox would have preferred an immediate violent reaction from Antinomy to being sent into the box before he could protest or pretend to be sorry. He would never allow himself to confess it, but the dark isolation was too reminiscent of the hangar where he had been locked in for years. Without, and this was important for him the prisoner, the presence of the bindings that had pierced and crippled him.
It had been some time since he had done anything that earned him a stay in the box, but he rarely knew or could tell for how long the girl’s idea of a time out would last. Still, he was sure not even a day could have passed before the lid finally raised and he was confronted with the not too happy looking but nevertheless beautiful sight of Antimony Carver.
“You can come out now.”
Shifting from the shape of the doll Surma had made into his more impish body had become easy for Reynardine, but he still did a show of cracking his metal bones in place to fake a physical discomfort he really hadn’t felt. He couldn’t allow the girl to think it was time to get imaginative with her punishments. At least, he corrected himself, not in this sense.
“Be quiet, Reynardine.”
And just like that Reynardine had to shut his mouth again. A single word said before being ordered silent was a new record, and one that made the demon suspect he either was in more trouble than he believed or that he was not the single grievance for the red headed girl that day. It was unusual for her to be still wearing her gym clothes, but he noticed no real reason for concern when Annie proceeded to ignore him and began to pace in her small room.
Reynardine, deciding he very well couldn’t find out what was bothering her with the gag order in place, did what was natural and ignored her back. He marched to her bookbag and kicked it open before rummaging on the look for something to read. Other than the court’s textbooks there was a single hardcover book with two miscolored humans standing around in a cave. The title of book, Vilderbogg Cave, did little to gain his interest but still he was about to take it when the girl decided to speak again with a topic that guaranteed his attention.
“Does everyone see nothing but my mother when they look at me?”
A personal topic he would willingly talk about and a loaded question, Reynardine braced himself for what could be a very entertaining discussion once he got rid of the girl’s last orders. Leaving her bag and its contents alone he turned to face her and just looked at her with a non-existent raised eyebrow. Annie, in no hurry, sat down on her bed, kicked off her shoes, and crossed both of her arms before speaking.
“You may talk now, but don’t abuse it. You should thank and apologize to Kat the next time you see her. You are out early only because she insisted. After a while she had convinced herself that your comment had been funny.”
That earned a smile from Rey that fitted his impish shape. “That just goes to show you that your friend has a better sense of humor than you.”
When no come back was given the fox decided to jump right back to what had really gotten his attention. “What did you say about your mother, girl? Give me some context to that stupid idea, or I’ll just say what I think of that right now and then you will order me back into the box.”
Annie reached back and undid the pony tail she wore when practicing sports. With her head leaning forward her hair turned into a courtain that shielded her face from view, hiding whatever expression she had from Reynardine.
“Today during physical education class I overheard…”
“You spied, child. I have known you long enough to know your ways.”
“Fine. I heard Mister Eglamore and Miss Jones comparing me to my mother.”
Reynardine had to bite his felt tongue. As unusually bright as the girl sometimes was, the fox reminded himself, she was sstill prone to being bothered by the most insignificant things like the female she was. It was mystifying for the old trickster that she could be bothered with that comparison when she still insisted in smearing her face with paint in exactly the same way her mother had done. However, and this gave him some respite from criticizing Annie in a way that would have earned him more time in lock up, he was left with a much better target for his gratuitous criticism.
“Of course Eglamore would be dumb enough to think your mother and you to be alike. The oaf has trained to compensate a slow brain with quick sword reflexes.”
That caused an accusatory blue eye to peek from the mass of red hair. “You did the same the first time we met. And so did Coyote when he visited The Court.”
Something about his small size in this form made Reynardine prone to dramatics, so he raised his arms in outrage and marched towards the girl until he was standing right at the edge of the bed, nearly touching Antimony’s toes. “Coyote couldn’t care less about distinguishing between two of his fleas as long as both insects were giving him their full attention! And you can not blame me for a moment of confusion when you were the size of my thumb and I was using the useless senses of that big beast!”
The girl’s foot raised and the demon was shut not by an order, but by the Annie sticking her toes into his mouth to shut him up. “That beast had a name and friends, Reynardine. And are you telling me you don’t compare me with my mother just like Mister Eglamore does?”
The demon stepped back and spat imaginary saliva before looking at Annie with the most thoughtful look he could muster with his impish face. “Forced as I am to be honest to you, if you want me to answer that question you will have to promise that, no matter my answer, I won’t be punished.”
“No. You seek carte blanche to say something reprehensible. What can’t you say now that you could say without fear of just recrimination?”
Reynardine pointed a fingerless arm towards Antimony and bared his diminutive fangs. “Truth has a cost, girl! If you want me to talk freely, you must promise me true freedom to respond to your question. You are too old to be so sensitive to harsh words and I cannot tell you but the truth. Now promise me liberty to give my response or let me go find something more to do than stand here and hear you complain!”
The small demon held his pose, waiting for the girl to give him an answer and not just stare at him apathetically. The more time passed the more he worried that she would think about his words and her reply too well when he wanted an impulsive yes to be given. An inability to sweat when nervous joined his lack of lungs as one of the advantages he had found for possessing an object rather than a living being.
“Alright, you are free to answer just for this occasion, but after you are done you will be held accountable for anything else you say. Don’t make me regret giving you this opportunity.”
Rather than leap in joy like he wanted Reynardine hurried to change into his more canine shape. Soon, rather than have to look up to her, he was on eye level with the sitting girl.
“Well, then, to what I have to say. Eglamore and Jones are a couple of self-serving morons.”
There Annie’s eyebrows lowered and her voice turned sour. “Gratuitous insults will make me regret agreeing to your conditions, Renard.”
The wolf’s head turned slightly, an old reflex from his original body that manifested whenever a smartass response was ready. “I have no intention of making you regret letting go of my leash, but I stand by my words when I say those two see what they want to see. They don’t remember Surma well if they are still comparing you two.”
“And you don’t? Even I can remind myself of her when I look at myself on a mirror.”
“And that’s fair, but being reminded of her doesn’t make you her duplicate. There are natural similarities and unnatural ones, like the colours you put on your face. As much as I dislike the source, I can see the influence of your father’s blood in the shape of your face.”
Here Annie’s hand moved to slide her palm from her cheek, down her jawbone, to her chin. The red head was attempting to feel her father’s features on her face. “So your memory of her is better than theirs?”
“I remember all the girls long after everyone else has forgotten them.”
Annie’s face looked dumbfounded for a moment, and Reynardine shifted his weight from paw to paw as he realized that, with his excitement, he ha spoken more than he had intended.
“What does that…”
“Nothing of consequence to what we are discussing, ignore it. But yes, I remember Surma well enough to no longer mistake her for you like others do. And of course the differences don’t stop just at what I can see.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“Quiet, girl. For once I can speak my mind, so don’t put your words in my mouth. As I was saying, there is more to set you apart from your mother. Even they should be able to tell your voice is all your own and I hear a mix of many accents in your speech, not your mother’s Yorkshire mangling of English.”
“Very funny, Reynardine. I’ll have you know that my mother rarely spoke anything but the most perfect English when she raised me.”
“Yes, I’m sure she tried. And it would be petty of me to hold the influence of a bad accent against your mother. Now, may I continue?”
“You have more to say?”
“Of course I do. Because I have abilities neither Eglamore nor Jones possesses, I can be much more aware of how different you two are.”
“Like the psychic sight?”
“That sight is of less use than what you can see with your eyes. No, Antimony, I mean abilities born from birthright and not practice. I can tell, even with this artifical vessel,” the wolf’s head leaned forward so unexpectedly that Annie was about to fall back on the bed when their noses almost touched. “that this scent is uniquely yours.”
Annie slapped his snout away and Rey, expecting such reaction, rolled with the strike and proceeded to stand up and roam the room at leisure. The creature lazily stretched his legs while the girl’s eyes followed him with an accusatory glare.
“I don’t take kindly to invasions of my personal space, Reynardine. Don’t do that without my permission. You may want to consider that your answer is worth less than you imagine.”
Reynardine did a full turn around the room, stopping only for a moment in front of the mirror to look at himself, before returning to sit down just where he had been before. “Yes, of course, only with your permission. But demonstrate your curiosity, girl. Ask a good hound what your scent says of you.”
Annie doubted herself for a moment, she scooted back as imperceptibly as she could to put some more distance between the two of them. Finally, demonstrating her curiosity weighted more than her caution, she relented. “What is it?”
“Your scent is tainted by artificiality. Plainly said, you smell like human concoctions.”
The red head did not attempt to hide her confusion. “Your nose is not as good as you think it is. I rarely use perfumes.”
“Some abilities are never lost. I don’t speak of perfumes, those your mother did use. Your mother unwittingly carried with her the fragrances of the forest, the human cities she had lived in and this place. A good nose like mine can tell me that you have barely spent time anywhere like the forest. It reveals your lack of true wandering. You have taken in the artificial smells of The Court and combined them with what you had already brought with you, the telltale chemical smells of a surgeon’s bag. But of course there’s more.”
The canine closed his eyes then. Lacking the natural movement of living lungs he looked like a statue, but the way his nose was raised made Annie suspect he was somehow sniffing the air without breathing. When the girl had enough to time process what he had said she pocked his shoulder blade with her toe. “Go on, just a moment ago you couldn’t stop talking.”
Languidly, so slowly that Annie didn’t react to push him away, Rey’s head lowered and the bottom of his jaw came to rest on Annie’s exposed knee. There he spoke without having to move his mouth or bothering to open his eyes. “Underneath what you have taken it from your surroundings there is your unimitable and personal scent. Hard to hide when you have been as active as today in your silly gym games.”
A half smile appeared on the red head’s face, and before the thought was complete her right hand had already moved and was beginning to gently scratch behind one of the animal’s ears. “You mean I stink. I wasn’t in mood to stay around for the shower and came here directly. Didn’t you tell me once that a little dirt never hurt anyone?”
Lustrous black eyes half opened, someone managing to look more relaxed and satisfied than the girl had ever seen. “That I did, I’m glad you were listening for there is nothing of what I sense that would I call repulsive. Nobody else on this side of the bridge may be able to notice this, but I can tell you that in this case my faithful nose can find no resemblance between mother and daughter. Think no less of me for saying that for this I am grateful.”
Neurons misfired in Antimony’s mind, she was listening so intently that the contradiction of Reynardine’s last words to what she knew made her breathing stop momentarily. She wondered if the demon within the toy had regained the ability to lie. “Wha-what? But don’t you miss her?”
A miniscule shift in his eye lids turned Rey’s pupil-less eyes from content to sorrowful, and he leaned his head against the hand that had stopped scratching him. “Time goes by, and we should not hold on too tightly to what has already been lost. Your mother is gone, of this I’m… sorry. What Eglamore may not want to see, for his own peace of mind, is that in front of me right now isn’t Surma. Here is Antimony Carver, her daughter. She lives in you, but not trough you. Too much sets you apart.”
If the gleam in the corner of Annie’s eye was a tear, she didn’t let it drop. Rather she smiled and closed her eyes, leaning down to rest her cheek agains the top of Reynardine’s head. “Like what?”
“You are more forgiving than she was when we parted ways. She smiled often and to anyone, but you stand reserved and make your own smiles something to be worked for. Your actions are those of a free spirit. Surma never allowed her reactions to go uncontrolled. Even when she was most joyful she never truly let go of herself, lest she did something a medium should not do. You react with passion. You lose control and that fits your ways, Antimony Carver.”
“So you like that I sometimes screw up and say more than… Heheh” The girl’s soft laughter was an impulsive reaction, but expression was soon panicked when she realized that what had made her giggle had been a tickling sensation. A tickle caused by Reynardine’s soft felt tongue licking her inner thigh, right where her gym shorts ended.
As soon as this registered in her mind she kicked the wolf away and scooted frantically back on the bed, moving away from the creature she had been embracing just a moment ago. The shout that followed was equal parts angry and flustered. “Reynardine! To your box, now!”
Annie’s heart began to beat faster when Reynardine just sat back on the spot where he had been before she kicked him, not moving an inch closer towards the box he had been commanded to go to. As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened the white wolf just looked impassively at her with a tilted head. “Was a promise not given that I would have freedom to respond the question you made? Set free of punishment and recrimination for the duration of my response? You agreed to these terms and I am not done yet saying or doing what I see fit to answer your query. A promise was made. Promises, Antimony Carver, are important for anyone in a situation like ours.”
Anyone else would have been overtaken by terror and followed their first survival instincts. This strange girl quickly collected herself, displaying the cold focus that had dominated her actions when she had been dragged into Zimmy’s nightmare world, and crouched down on her bed. Preparing to take flight or fight when the need was urgent. “So, I suppose that this occasion of losing control will cost me my life.”
The creature was in no hurry and slowly straightened his head before replying. “Had you taken my submission for granted for so long that a little challenge makes you so nervous? I have no intention to harm you at this time, girl. I do apologize for that momentary lapse in judgement.”
The girl didn’t relax a muscle. Her legs were tense in readiness for sudden movement. “You. Licked. Me.”
“Which you assume is supposed to be bad. A hug can be comforting for humans, but those of us born on four legs have our own ways. Your mother quickly understood this without need for explanations.”
The girl’s crouch faltered, a leg relaxed and soon she was half kneeling on her bed. “You licked my mother?” Bewilderment widened her eyes.
“Just as accidentally as what I just did. Too much time in that forest had made my good manners around humans rusty with lack of use. The consummate negotiator that she was, she saw it for the friendly action it is supposed to represent.” Reynardine turned his head to look off to the side, towards a wall. His voice turning displeased. “An action she tried as a greeting with the others as well by licking their cheeks. Deaf to my protests Coyote responded by laughing and slobbering all over her face. And Ysengrin…”
Her second knee dropped, and now Antimony was fully kneeling on the bed. “Did he attack her?”
The edges of Reynardine’s lips rose, grinning in a way that exposed his dangerously sharp molars. “When your mother surprised him by licking both his cheeks he didn’t move for three whole minutes, not even when Coyote called out his name. Then he just bolted off further into the forest. Three days later a fairy came to us to complain. Ysengrin had jumped into a lake, had then ran out without bothering to dry his fur, and gone to the fairies looking as haggard as a beggar to demand they give him as much liquor as they could make. In three days he had drank a year’s supply of their drinks and then passed out right there in front of their improvised brewery.”
A snort was the first thing to escape the girl’s tightly pressed lips, but as Renard’s story progressed she quickly went from giggling to uncontrollable laughter. She lost balance and fell back on her bed, looking up with her head laid down on her pillow as she clutched her stomach while tears of joy rolled down her cheeks. “That idiot has always been a retard when dealing with human women. One of his dumber ideas for catching a girl’s eye had him dress up as an old lady, but all that got him was a belly full of rocks and a day on the bottom of a river. Ysen was gone for a week on that occasion. I enjoyed seven days without his grumbling and unending praise for Coyote, but Surma found no humour in the situation. She was too worried about a diplomatic faux pas and no amount of laughter from me or my cousin gave her some mirth.”
Annie, who was laughing so hard her breathing was also interrupted by hiccups, didn’t notice or didn’t care when her bed shifted with somebody else’s weight as Reynardine climbed on it and laid down right next to the girl. His head taking one side of her pillow, with his nose a hair’s breadth away from her ear. “That is one of the things I like about you, daughter of Carver. You are free to enjoy the world with less care and worry. You may yet not learn to hate me.”
Neither of them spoke for a while. Reynardine lay there, enjoying the rumbling the girl’s laughter caused on the bed, while Annie struggled for a while to restrain herself. Once her giggling was more manageable, and the pleasant burn of her lungs had softened, Annie wrapped one arm around the wolf’s neck and began to stroke his mane. “My mother was very forgiving, sometimes excessively. The day comes when you won’t be able to keep silent about what occurred after Coyote gave you part of his power, but I am sure that whatever you did was forgiven by her time ago.”
The girl’s fingers felt that the artificial muscles on his neck tensed for a moment, but they soon relaxed when she kept caressing Rey’s fur. “Perhaps she did, and maybe so will you.” Annie was going to voice a question about the canine’s words, but she was distracted when she felt his tongue once again. She didn’t react as like she had done before to the soft felt tongue, but had the girl experienced a more normal upbringing she may have understood the meaning of having her earlobe licked by the beast.
As she was, she just allowed Reynardine to continue while she stroked the fluff around his neck. “For someone that wanted to abandon the forest to be among humans, you still seem very attached to your natural customs.” For a moment Annie could have sworn that the wolf had softly bitten her ear, but it was so quick that she was left with an unsure impression and a growing tingle that spread from her ear to the base of her skull. Soon his tongue was not limited just to her ear, but was traveling very slowly from there to her neckline and back again, leaving a confusing but nevertheless enjoyable feeling for the girl as it caressed her skin.
Had it been less entrancing she may have consciously realized what was going on, but her only respite from the novel feelings were the moments when Reynardine stopped to whisper something throatily that she only half heard. “Some expressions are universal.” The tongue flicked lazily against her earlobe. “But I have always seen myself as more than a forest creature.” Here the tongue drew a spiral down cheek, licking the trail her tears of laughter had left. “For example in this situation we are in. I am not your pet.” For a moment the red head forgot how inhale when sharp teeth grazed against her neck. “I am but your slave, my mistress.”
If Annie had wanted to protest that comment, she simply could not. Her mind was lost with the new and strange feelings. Her eyes were unfocused and her limbs had fallen limp on the bed sides. She wasn’t concerned, but glad, when the tongue began to move following the underside of her jaw from one side of her face to the other. Not thinking that this meant the demon had moved and was now hovering above her, barely setting down part of his weight on top of her.
Where Antimony’s conscious mind failed, a more primitive response was given when her legs bent and her hips moved to grind the inside of her thighs against the warm body on top of her. A body that was warm only for the fact that inside it, like a furnace, a primeval spirit exerted power to animate it. In Antimony’s body a different kind of heat was growing. A heat that did not lessen even when the girl started to pant, letting a trickle of saliva slide down from the corner of her mouth before the creature licked it.
The taste of the girl’s fair skin was strong with the old sweat of her gym activities and the renewed wetness caused by her excitement. For Reynardine it was nectar. Irregardless of the wits that had given him this opportunity, he started to lose himself when the girl rubbed her short pants against his stomach. The girl’s scent combined with something familiar and provocative, and his mind was almost completely lost.
His shape shifting was influenced no more by thought but by desire, which meant that something hard and much warmer than Rey’s body was now rubbing against the girl’s thigh, poking the sleeve of her shorts every time she moved against him. Pressure was building up in both. For Annie it was leading to a peak of pleasure, but for Reynardine it was leading to a breaking point of his self control.
He knew his limits, and it was only because he was hungry for more than what he could take that night that he stopped. The tip of his snout lingered on Annie’s parted lips for a moment and his tongue ventured to touch hers before suddenly he leapt off the girl and the bed. Leaving the red headed young woman alone and unfulfilled.
A sense of sudden loss was immediate for Annie, but still it took her some time to regain enough composure to half-raise her head to look for the missing demon. She found him transformed back into his impish form and sitting on the bottom half of the box she used to lock him up. She was yet incapable of speaking, and his back was turned to her, so she didn’t know how he was capable of knowing she was looking at him when the diminished demon spoke.
“In your time here you have met people who never knew your mother, made new friendships all on your own. There will always be self-liars who are too blind to see Antimony Carver. But I have had the precious opportunities to have met your mother and of being near you, so I know you to be completely different women. For a time I hated that fact, but not anymore. The past hurts. These days, because of you, don’t.”
Then the imp’s head turned and a calm face was twisted by a wide animal grin, “Finally, to end answering your question, I have but to say that you taste much better than your mother!” and he slammed the lid of the box on himself. Abandoning an aroused and confused Annie that was breathing rapidly and gazing at the closed box from which a muffled laugh could be heard.
Reynardine, forced back into the shape of an immobile doll for the sake of lessening the constriction of the small box, focused all his attention on the small window to the outside world that the lock provided and on the sounds that came muted through the wood. From that angle he could see only a bare wall that Annie had never bothered decorating like any other teenage girl would have. He didn’t know how much time passed, perhaps an hour, but eventually he heard Annie rise from her bed and move towards the box.
He could only see the lower half of her face, lips pressed into a straight line and smudged lipstick, so he had very little to ascertain the girl’s mood. He may have imagined nervous hesitation in the way one of her hands touched the lid of the box and caressed the worn wood, but he did not dare think that she would choose that moment to open the box and invite him out.
His pessimism was justified when her other hand, this one moving with obvious confidence, slid the key into the lock and secured the box. This, and the long wait that would follow afterwards, were things he expected. He had played a big wager with his actions, and he was aware of the possibility that it could land him back into Eglamore’s jail. Like it had been from the moment Annie refused to hand him over to the Donlans, his future was in her hands.
Annie left and returned quickly after taking a shower, but the light in the room never went off that night. Rey could only tell a new morning had come when he saw Annie walk by dressed in her uniform like any other school morning. She left and came back at the end of the day, alone, but when she returned she didn’t even glance at the box. The fox could tell when a woman was attempting to ignore him.
By watching her routine through the lock Reynardine was able to tell three days passed without novelty, Annie kept avoiding looking at the box, but in the fourth he noticed her contemplate the box in passing. The morning of the fifth day she threw a sweater over the box, either because she suspected he was able to look out or because she did not want to look at it, and he lost all sight of the outside world.
He slept, profoundly and experiencing both dreams and nightmares of possible outcomes. The possessed doll was finally aawakened rudely by his small cage being lifted and shaken. The first scenario he imagined was that he was in Eglamore’s hands and being taken somewhere he would never see the stars, but a friendly voice dispelled that worry.
“Reynardine? Yoo-hoo, Reynardine!”
The friend. Kat’s voice was muffled but recognizable. Her eye trying to use the lock to spy the box’s contents was excessive confirmation. The creature was relieved but his voice was merely annoyed when he shouted out loud. “Have you ever seen that girl put anything in this box but me when something I do bothers her?! If the box is locked it means I’m in it, you lummox! Put it down!”
The brunette heard him, but she quickly turned the box until down became up for its occupant. “Yeah, when you do something that bothers her. So, what did you do this time? This time you really screwed it up.” She sounded worried, but the fact that she appeared to be ignorant of his actions was promising. Once again he could exploit the open opportunity of how his owner was the only one the demon could not lie to.
“You are not making any sense. Tell me why you think I… screwed… it up.”
Again Kat’s eye blocked his view of the outside world. “Annie’s been acting strange all week. More quiet than usual, and that’s saying something. She has been looking off into space like she is thinking really hard. Sometimes she looks angry for no reason.” The box was given a hard punch by the worried friend. “I know you must be involved because she wanted my help to look in the library for anything about you. When we found nothing she asked me to show her how to do online searches and then to leave her alone with the computer for a moment, but when I came back she had shut down the computer and was all green looking on the face.”
Reynardine’s mind was racing with possible interpretations for these actions, but he didn’t miss a beat to respond to Kat, lest she continue puzzling things together correctly. “So she is being a typical moody woman who chooses to employ her time looking into the past of remarkable individuals like myself, I don’t see why you have to come here and treat me like the rattle your parents took from you to keep you from beating your own skull open with it”
“Nuh-uh. Something big is going on. Otherwise she wouldn’t have skipped class to go talk with Miss Jones.”
“What?!” Kat’s eye was nearly poked out by the lock picking tools that suddenly stabbed the lock. She dropped the box, but the lock clicked open before it reached the ground. When she looked down Rey was already out and had shifted into his impish body. The demon was holding his head with both stubby arms and walking on a circle around her, glaring down at the ground with bared teeth.
“Dude, what? You can’t leave the box!”
Caring very little about the girl’s presence now, Rey gave her a dismissive wave. “I placed myself inside on my own volition, not following an order, I can very well let myself out, du… dudess… dudette… Whatever it is that’s supposed to mean!”
Kat crouched down to look at his strange behaviour, more curious about his abrupt change of mood than worried about what could be interpreted as an escape. “Man, you got to let me know what is going on here, now you are both acting odd and…” The girl suddenly went quiet. Her nose wrinkled as she started up to sniff the air around the walking demon. “What is that smell? Did you eat something or what? You smell delicious.”
Whatever trance Reynardine was working himself into was derailed when he realized what the girl had said and the traces of what she smelt. He halted and his face turned towards her with a half smile and a raised eyebrow. “You know, I always had my suspicions about you.”
A careless mad laugh accompanied Reynardine’s transformation into a wolf. “Ha! Nothing of importance until Anja asks for grandchildren! Haha! With Miss Jones involved I may as well have thrown the dice for what all my wants are worth now. Bah! If this is how I’m going to meet Jack Ketch I may as well give myself my last rites!”
When the large animal moved and bit the doorknob to open the door Kat rushed to seize his tail, “Wait, stop! You can’t leave like that on your own!”, but the soft fur slid out of her grip when he moved forward.
If Reynardine heard her over the sound of his own joyless laughter, he did not acknowledge it. Instead, as soon as his body had crossed the door frame, he started to race down the hall. When Kat got up and hurried to look outside he was nowhere to be seen. The beast had fled.
The day of his escape the wolf enjoyed freedom in a way he had not known since his coat had been red. Reynardine expected a lethal ambush around every corner and a dozen huntsmen just behind him, so he ran in the careless way only the damned know. He crossed every corner laughing and flicked his tail to taunt any follower. Witless and in despair, his only remaining ambition was to enjoy a flight he believed futile.
To the few students he crossed on his stray wandering the creature looked a white blur, easily explained as one of the many robots performing one of their diverse menial tasks. It was not as simple to explain why some of the older girls felt this robot brush against their legs as it passed.
It wasn’t until the light of dawn stung his eyes that he stopped and found himself alone and safe in one of Gunnerkrigg’s solitary streets. The only traps and pursuers set out to get him had been in his mind. He didn’t know where he was, but with no muscles to ache or need for rest he was able to quickly turn around and retrace his steps back to known territory, this time more careful of who he might find.
Caution dictated that leaving Gunnerkrigg was the safest choice if Miss Jones decided to deal with what had occurred between the demon and Antimony. He had risked what the girl had given him since her unwilling rescue because his desires pushed him to try and have more.
The fox had never been cautious and he could not bring himself to regret trying to obtain something he still wanted. Should his attempts condemn him then he only regretted not having been bolder.
However, he was troubled. In spite of believing himself twice betrayed, once by himself and once by the girl, he wanted to go back. With no orders chaining him he could try and reach the open world, but he would not. He would face the danger of going back for more reasons than he could blame on the enslavement curse. He had to know for sure that everything had been lost for naught.
But not yet, for he had not lied when he said that he would be getting his last rites, on his own terms. He knew what he needed, and if the universe hadn’t completely changed since Surma’s times, he also knew where to get it.
Once he was stepping on streets he recognized he proceeded with stealth. Jumping from shadow to shadow only after all his heightened senses told him nobody would see him. Expecting the students and staff to be busy with the morning classes he dared to go into one of the dormitories housing the older boys. Once inside he followed his nose to one of the inconspicuous heating vents in a hallway. In there, hidden out of sight but obvious to a hound, was a small distillery made with stolen lab equipment. Black lifeless eyes watched the beak of the assembly slowly feed drops of a colorless liquid into a plastic bottle and the fox was reminded why many times in his past he had praised human resourcefulness to accomplish the forbidden.
The rummaging beast found many similar moonshine operations hidden all over the dormitories. Young men and women with access to Gunnekrigg’s resources had learned to overcome the limitations of the court’s approved nourishments. It was cruel, but necessary as he saw it, for Reynardine to take all the fruit from their efforts. He was preparing a final meal.
It was not the first time he ever had to prepare such thing, so it was with practiced ease with which he raided the court’s kitchens. Finally, gathering a loot of drink and food large enough to make a feast. One he sat down to enjoy in one of the many unused rooms of the court.
And it was then that his self illusion came apart. Before him was enough food to feed a pack of wolves, but the fake wolf he was felt no appetite. And of what good would it be to have so much to drink if all it would do was wet some cotton? He could shape shift his artificial body well beyond the shape of a wolf the doll had originally represented, but no change of shape could affect what his body was made of. All this he knew, but he was stubborn.
He drank. The alcohol’s bitter taste promised to make him forget his worries, but he didn’t feel the slightest buzz when his mouth absorbed it like a sponge. The taste and smell of the food was incredible in comparison to what Eglamore had fed him as a prisoner, but after chewing it in a dry mouth for a few moments he had to spit it out.
It was an idiot’s idea to continue with this, but he wanted a delay. So he chewed and drank without fulfillment. Going on long after he had come to grow bored of all the flavours and smells, until all he had to show for all his thievery was a mess on the floor and on his body.
It suited him just fine, for the next of his final rites was a cleansing to look as presentable as he could before he marched to face whatever fate his red headed mistress had sorted for him. And there was but one way to bathe this body that he knew of.
Finding the laundry room had been harder than recruiting the help of one of the few students that had been washing their clothes at that time. The target of his lies came to him. With the survival instincts of a dodo one of the girls had ran to pet the wolf that entered the room while the others wisely put one of the machines between themselves and the beast. The biggest fool in the room had come to him.
The current was too strong, it was dragging his body against the bottom and sides of the watercourse and his feeble hands could find no grip. His movements were sluggish and weak with all the water his body of cotton and metal had absorbed. The darkness, the roaring noise and the chemicals in the water disoriented him and made him plead silently for respite from this storm.
And it came when darkness was overcome by a light that came directly from above him. The current lost all strength at once and it was soon calm enough for him to right himself. He spat out part of the water in his head and looked up at concerned eyes surrounded by two brown bangs of hair that may as well have been parted angel wings for all the peace and quiet their sudden appearance had brought.
“Are you alright, perrito?”
Peace and quiet Reynardine knew from experience had come too soon, again, and an excessive concern he was getting fed up with. For the sake of keeping the girl’s cooperation he gave Paz the friendliest smile he could fake without showing his sharp teeth and hid his diminishing patience from his voice. “Stop interrupting the machine or we will be here all night. Deacuerdo, querida Paz? I have no flesh or bones to harm in this contraption so let its torture continue.”
“Deacuerdo, perrito! But please call me if you need help, I don’t want you to hurt yourself!”
The top of the machine was closed and Reynardine was once again dragged by the spinning waters. Continuing a self-imposed martyrdom the demon had to do after binge drinking and eating had left his body stained and reeking of cheap alcohol.
It took several wash cycles, one slow drier cycle and some time with the Hispanic girl’s comb before the creature was satisfied with his appearance and smell. Dusk had come by the time he exhausted all reasons to postpone what was next.
He bid farewell to Paz and genuinely thanked her for her aid before leaving the laundry at a much slower pace than he had come in with. Rather than run as a wolf he walked short steps in his impish shape, marching steadily but slowly towards Annie’s room.
The demon excused dragging his feet as a precaution, for it gave him ample time to check for any signs of an awaiting executioner. Much searching revealed some old traces of the teaching staff, even Eglamore, on the hallways, but nothing that justified not going forward.
Approaching midnight he finally reached Antimony’s door, and found himself of two minds about what to do next. If there was a trap waiting for him it did not matter if he knocked on the door or just marched right in, but if there wasn’t there would still be the problem of dealing with Annie. He was in trouble, either just with his owner or with the deathly staff of the Court.
And, like the fox had done whenever he was in trouble and without a plan, he decided to be rude. His dexterous fingerless hands tried the door and found it unlocked, a bad omen, but still he turned the door knob and pushed it open. Nothing reacted. The room was but a dark void in which he could see nothing beyond the rectangle of light that came from the open door. He ventured forward, trying to see or smell anything amiss. He did not.
He heard it. A screech like a cat’s meowing started when he had reached the middle of the room, just beyond the light from the doorway. The door was slammed behind him and the room was illuminated by floodlights that had been affixed to the walls in his absence. He wasn’t surprised about what he heard next: A young woman’s voice speaking much more calm than what fitted the situation. “Stop.”
What he wasn’t surprised to find either, but would rather not have discovered, was the sudden presence of something sharp pressed against his shoulder blades and a gun’s barrel right in front of his eyes.
Nature had given Reynardine longevity and nurture had given the quick wits to make it endure; despite an affinity towards humanity that had often put him at serious risk. The fox had known an ambush was likely; nevertheless his return lacked the intention of surrendering to the Court to be executed or imprisoned.
The imp surprised the gunner by ducking and pushing the weapon upwards, causing its trigger to be pulled. Reynardine did not stop to consider why the sound that followed was a prolonged hiss rather than the racket of gunpowder, his focus had now shifted to the ambusher behind him.
He quickly summoned metal from his palm to form a jagged spike. Now armed, he turned to deflect the blade he had felt at his back. However, when he realized what was behind him, he had to stop on his own volition. There had no blade pressed against his back, merely a well-kept fingernail of the girl poking him. Had he not realized this mistake on time he would have pierced Annie’s arm with the spike.
Girl and creature were now facing each other. Reynardine stared at her with open mouthed incredulity, finally realizing that his ambushers were his mistress and her friend. Annie awarded his recognition with a raised eyebrow and two blue irises admiring his weapon with detached curiosity. Both moved their mouths to speak at the same time, but neither got to make a sound before they were distracted by a shabby net, the projectile that had ricocheted off the ceiling, falling softly over Annie.
An understanding of how harmless the brunette’s gun was came quickly to the demon and he looked over his shoulder at Kat, who was too busy reloading her net launcher to notice where her first shot had landed or what the other two had been doing, but Annie wasted no time in issuing new orders. She was authoritative and quick, for she was in a hurry to hide how close Reynardine had come to hurting her.
“Transform into the original doll’s shape and remain that way, now! Do not move. Do not speak. Do not make a noise!”
Hearing Annie’s voice made Kat snap her attention back to the other occupants of the room, but by the time she did all that was to be seen was a harmless wolf toy on the floor and Annie standing with the net draped over her head. So she did what was natural with the situation now that it was under control: She laughed.
She dropped her gun and tried to help her friend with the net, but her guffaws shook her hands and her fingers tangled with the net, making the task more difficult than it had to be. On her part Annie was half busy dealing with the net and half busy trying to keep her camisole from hitching up as the net was pulled.
“Haha! These things just don’t work as well as in comic books. Hahah! Who knew the, Hehehe, midget could move so fast! Ha!”
Finally the red head was freed and Kat calmed down to only an occasional snort. Her joy had been contagious and Annie gave her friend a small smile. “I suspect he was quite motivated by”, and the smile disappeared as quickly as it had formed when Annie looked down at the doll still lying at the girls’ feet, “cowardice.”
“Ha! So we scared him? Good that’s what he gets for scaring me with his escape from the box. Are you sure that was just a fluke? He disobeyed your order to stop just now!”
“No, he did not.”
It was Kat’s turn to be confused, and her forehead scrunched up to show it. “What?”
“What he told you during his escape has made me reconsider how much leeway Renard can find in a vague command. How much he has been playing along. Just now all he had to do was stop what he had been doing when the order was given, coming into the room, but he was free to attempt a second escape.
“So you mean you will have to be more specific with what you tell him to do? Damn, and you already kept a pretty short leash on him, now you will…”
Kat tried to pick up the toy, but Annie grabbed her shoulder to keep her from touching it and took the toy herself, holding it at her side out of reach for her friend. “I will have to reconsider the way I have been dealing with him, Kat. Perhaps it is time for Reynardine to go elsewhere.”
“What? You are giving him back to my parents?!”
“Maybe,” Annie’s face did not change, but she suddenly squeezed the doll in a white knuckled grip, “that could be an option if I can deal for his incarceration to be…”
“No!” Kat’s hand snapped forward in an attempt to grab the toy, but Annie’s reaction was immediate and she hid the toy behind her back. This made the brunette stomp her foot and point an accusatory finger just under Annie’s chin. “I don’t know why you are so angry with Reynardine, but I’m not letting you send a friend to jail without giving me a good reason. Understood?”
Her friend’s sudden insistence had made Annie tilt backwards. “I just accepted it is a viable option.
“No,” The girl backed off, but crossed her arms and kept a frown of disapproval, “it isn’t.”
“Kat, one of the reasons I haven’t decided yet is because I need to speak with Reynardine about it. He has a right to explain himself.”
“So, let him talk.”
“I’m sorry, but I need to speak with him alone. I’ll wait until morning to…”
“Oh, no. No, no, no. You are not letting this wait any longer. I understand why you didn’t want us to draw attention to his escape by looking for him ourselves or asking for help, but don’t think that I haven’t noticed how little you have slept since you asked me to stay during the nights to wait for him.” Kat hurried to pack some of her belongings in a duffel bag and moved with loud stomps towards the door as she spoke, not bothering to change into something more sensible than just her pyjamas. “I’ll just get Horsebot to give me a ride. You two will talk right now and fix things. Tomorrow back I’m coming back and checking in on you two, and I want to see at least one smile from either one of you.” The brunette stood on the reopened doorway, menacingly pointing the unloaded net launcher at Annie and Rey. “Be friends or I’m turning this into a glue gun and using it on you two.
“And I’ll use industrial grade glue!” With that, the door was slammed shut; leaving the red head alone with the object of her current predicament in her hand.
One hundred thirty seven blinks.
Kat’s departure had been swift and impulsive, but the reaction from Annie could not have been more collected. She placed the doll on the middle of her desk, facing the room, before moving on to organizing the room. Rolling the sleeping bag that had been placed next to the door, switching from the floodlights to the room’s normal lights, picking up junk food wrappings from what Kat had insisted was the proper stake-out food, and arranging all the gizmos Kat left behind in a neat pile next to Reynardine. Once the room was in order she slid out her chair and sat in front of the desk; her palms resting on her lap and her face as calm as ever.
She did not speak at first; just stared down at the lifeless eyes of her toy. Reynardine, immobilized and silenced, could do nothing but focus all his attention on the girl. He found that her friend had been right, the dark circles around her eyes proved she had not been sleeping well; now his fate depended on whether that had been caused by worry or fear.
The demon could read nothing of the girl’s mood from her appearance alone. No sweat, no accelerated blinking, no uneven breathing, no diverting eyes, and no nervous twitches. He was left with nothing to do but to stare at her eyes; counting her blinks as a way to measure the passing of time.
He counted one hundred and thirty seven blinks before he heard the girl’s voice; serene and pleasant to hear under any other circumstances. “You must believe me to be stupid, Rynadine.” That name. She had never used that name; he had no idea that she knew it. The creature’s shock manifested as a small bolt of electricity dancing over the back of the doll for a second. This did not go unnoticed by the girl. “Do you know me so little as to doubt I can keep a secret when I believe it to be wise, or did you think I would condemn you without talking with you first? You are free to talk, Rynadine.”
Still locked in the doll shape, his response had to be given as a disembodied whisper from within the toy. “Where did you hear that name?”
“Is that really what you care about at this moment?” At long last there was a change on the red head’s face: Lowered eyelids and a stern tension on the muscles of her cheeks. “Very well. Long ago, from an acquaintance named Sullivan. He heard I kept a monster called Reynardine as a pet, so he decided to tell me about some of the very curious songs he knew. For him it was just an amusing concidence.”
“And by mentioning it I’m led to believe you don’t think that was the case.”
“In some cases I don’t see much of a connection, but the song that talks about Rynadine had some,” A humourless half smile, “peculiarities that do remind me of you.”
“I have lost count of how many different songs have mentioned me, but I believe I know of which you speak. Did it mention a place called Pimroy?”
“I have never been there.” There was amusement now in the fox’s voice. “Never trust a bard to remember anything. They forget truth quite easily and then believe themselves to be artistic when they lie.”
“And how much of the rest of the song is the truth?”
“Not even I know that. I have lived well and long, who knows what story the song writer may have heard to make that song?”
“Nevermind that.” Annie’s hand finally moved, waving a dismissial in front of her face. “I should have expected as much from your answers. And it is uncessesary, I know how much of that song is true.” The same now pointed at the door. “You ran away, Reynardine. One mention of Miss Jones and you revealed yourself to be a coward.”
The toy emitted a low rumble and shook faintly. “A coward? You left me locked in that coffin for days, avoiding me like a bad memory; then I hear you have gone to get Miss Jones involved. Jones is more perceptive than a hell hound and just as forgiving when her priorities fit it. A sane man would have fled in that situation; it was my madness that drove me back!”
“Mental instability.” Annie leaned forward, looking down at the toy with a disdainful frown. “What a fitting defence. Yes, I went to see Miss Jones. I went to her and asked her about Ysengrin.”
“Ysengrin?” The phantom voice now sounded cross. “What the hell would you want to know about Ysengrin?”
Annie straightened her posture again. “I told you I could keep a secret when I want to. I asked Miss Jones about Ysengrin as a way to find out more about you. I suspected your history was related to his, so it was a way to indirectly learn more about you. Did you think I would go crying to Miss Jones after the big bad wolf humped my leg? I needed to know more, Reynardine; that is all. The school library has nothing of value about creatures like you, and the internet,” Annie’s lips pursed in disgust for a moment before she continued “I don’t like what the people of the internet had to say about fox spirits”
“Ha! You could have asked me whatever you wanted, I was right here!”
“Would you have answered my questions?”
“I am almost certain I would have not, but I would have told you that the questions were irrelevant! For what is there to say but that I didn’t hump your leg, girl? I believe it was the other way around.”
“You think mocking what happened is amusing?”
“I think that what happened was many different things, including amusing. You know about the song, you have known me for quite some time, and you know what your reaction was. What more do you need?”
“So, that is it then. Am I supposed to be the girl in the tale that faints and let’s you have your way with me?”
“Yes.” A sad smile suddenly appeared on the red head’s expression. Without diverting her gaze from Reynardine’s eyes she moved her hands to the hem of her nightgown and pulled up, quickly wriggling out of it and throwing it to the ground. “Why not?”
The fox was struck speechless. Before him the girl now sat covered by naught but her plain white undergarments; she didn’t even use her hands to offer herself more cover. Smooth creamy skin on elegant curves, pale but for faint blush that spread from her shoulders to her bosom. Her bra stretched taught over perky breasts not completely developed yet.
The beauty of the sight gave the demon maddening thoughts. He wanted to laugh and take what was offered, but he was stopped by more than just physical rezsttraints. This young woman was no experienced seductress; why would she give him such temptation after having demonstrated so much anger? He could not succumb to the sexual impulses crowding his mind; he had ignore what he was seeing so that he could think clearly for something was terribly wrong.
“What game are inviting me to play, girl?”
Annie shrugged, letting one of her bra’s straps slide off her shoulder. “A game of choice, Reynardine. If what you want from me is to be one more nameless conquest for your legend then I would rather have it happen now. I’ll give you what you want and then help you find a way out of the Court, I’ll set you free; that much I promise. That way you will spare me from the company of a silver-tongued trickster that desires nothing more than a wet hole to satisfy his empty existence.”
The most primitive parts of the fox’s spirit screamed for him to accept it. To have the momentary pleasures of the girl and the more lasting pleasure of true freedom. Even with this internal tumult, his voice remained level as he responded. “You said this was a game of choice. What are my alternatives?”
“You can’t have me. And you remain here to face the punishment you deserve. You go on being my slave, as you called yourself, but I’ll grant you an opportunity.”
“You don’t love me, do you?”
There was no pause for his answer. “No.”
“I had wanted to hear as much. Then why come back?”
“Because I wanted to.”
“That is no answer, Reynardine. Why did you come back?”
Again the doll sparked; small thunderbolts singed the surface of the desk before calm was restored. Annie hadn’t reacted, and the creature went on to answer her. “I have lived long enough to not confuse love with other maladies of the heart. You have me mesmerized, woman. How could I resist coming back for someone so confsusing and exciting? I believed you could have had Eglamore and Jones here ready to ambush me and kill me once and for all, but still I risked coming back with the stupid hope that you had not. I have feelings for you, but no love; not yet. Now tell me what opportunity you would give me.”
“What else but to prove you are not the rake the song speaks of? I can no longer pretend to ignore your intentions, Renard; so I may as well see how well they endure testing.”
Had it been able to, the possessed toy would have smiled most wickedly. The girl was suggesting something mad, the very idea unnatural and terrible; confirming his interests had fallen on the right kind of woman. “And what trial may that be?”
Annie’s face went blank again. She raised the fallen bra strap and looked down at her own lap, diverting her eyes in a sudden spell of self-consciousness. “Nobody has ever asked me on a date.”
“Courtship?” The creature laughed long and vigorously. “You would have avoided wasting so much breathe if you had given me that option from the very beginning, Antimony Carver! I have so many sights and delights to share with you, so many…”
“There is no turning back if you choose to pursue that path, Reynardine. Consider that you take this opportunity with my knowledge of your infamous reputation and starting with my resentment for your escape. Are you aware of what would have happened if the Donlans had heard about it? I wouldn’t have been able to keep them from imprisoning you in their own terms, and you would have forever shamed me as an incompetent.”
“For that you know I say the truth when I tell you I am sorry. Let me show you how sorry I am; let me take a more appropriate shape and I will.”
Blue eyes looked up and the girl shook her head. “Not yet. Do you take the opportunity I am offering you, Reynardine? Do you take the risk of angering me if I find out your intentions are to abuse the trust I would need to have in you?”
“And how could I not?”
“Answer the question.”
“I’ll take that opportunity, Annie. And if I make you regret it then I will face whatever punishment you impart, for I would deserve it.”
The girl nodded and got up. “Very well.” As if it was the most natural thing in the world the girl picked up her nightgown and put it back on in front of the doll. Once she had redressed she opened the lowest drawer in her desk and took out a book. It was worn and damaged, the brown covers may have been white once but the years had been unkind to it.
“What is that?”
Annie held the cover in front of the toy’s eyes; what Reynardine saw on the cover made him groan, which finally made the girl smile sincerely. “This is what Miss Jones gave me when I asked her about Ysengrin. Does it look familiar?”
The title was written in stylish and nearly unintelligible letters, but Reynardine knew very well what it said: Roman de Renart. And under the title was a drawing, darkened by age, of a fox costumed like a French musketeer, holding a banner with the name Renart while the other animals around him cheered. “I should have burnt all the printing presses in France when I first heard of that book. Don’t tell me you have read it.”
The girl left the book in front of the doll. “I could not, I know too little of Frnech to understand more than a few lines at random.” Then the girl pulled out a notebook and pen from the same drawer. “But you do, don’t you?”
The fox could tell what was coming. “Girl, there is nothing in that book I could not tell you myself if you give me enough time.”
“That may be true, but you are still to be punished for your escape. You can transform again.” Without waiting for the girl to change her mind the demon shifted from a doll to his more impish shape; as soon as he was standing the girl pushed the pen and notebook into his arms. “You will take that book and write an English translation for me in this note book. You will do this to the best of your ability; omitting nothing. You are not to leave this desk or speak until you have finished. Is that understood?”
Already under the control of the command, the creature grumbled and nodded. Frowning non-existent eyebrows as he sat down on the desk to begin his task. Once he was settled Annie patted his head and moved towards her bed, leaving the lights on. She got under the covers and was about to cover her head when a small paper airplane landed on her chest. She turned to look at Reynardine, the only person that could have thrown it, but he wasn’t looking at her; he was diligently moving back and forth between the open book and the notebook as he got on writing the translation.
She examined the airplane and found a small note inscribed on the wings. She rolled her eyes at its childishness and covered her head with the covers, but her honest smile did not disappear. “Good night to you too, Reynardine.”
If either Antimony or Reynardine wondered what other changes to their lives would be revealed at the break of the day, they quickly forgot about that possibility.
Annie awoke to find evidence of one of Reynardine’s temper trantrums; her desk was in disarray. All her stationary had been pulled out of her drawers and was strewn around the culprit, who was sitting on the middle of the desk, still busily writing on the notebook she had given him.
The girl displayed no surprise or anger as she approached the demon’s workplace, ordering him to clean up could wait until he was done with his current punishment; her approach was met with a grumble and with the notebook being shut quickly before she could see what progress had been done. Unfazed, the girl went on to prepare for school as usual.
What was usual, much to Reynardine’s disappointment, included ordering him to turn around before she changed clothes. The shameless of the girl last night was now overruled by her normal sense of what is proper, which left him to have to steal glances off the reflection on the desk clock’s glass like in most usual mornings.
Annie dressed and prepared quickly. She had taken notice of Kat’s announcement that she was going too come by to check on her and Reynardine; it was entirely possible that visit would come before school hours, just so the girls could walk together to their first class.
So when Annie was ready she sat down and waited; blatantly staring at a demon that chose to pretend obliviousness and keep on working, for early morning pantomime did not fit into the machinations he had prepared since last night. This did prevent him from straitening his posture and faking a thoughtful face, if only to satisfy his ego.
The red head delayed her departure to the point when even if she left now for her first class, she would be marked as a late attendee. This she could not solely blame on her patience, she knew it was also possible that Kat had meant an afternoon visit; the other reason for this delay was the object of her attention. He had come back, they had come to an agreement of sorts; nevertheless, a nagging worry persisted whenever she considered leaving him in her room as she had always done.
Unwittingly Kat gave Annie an excuse for something reckless; to do something she knew she shouldn’t: Take him with her to class. She was aware that it was asking for trouble, simply irresponsible; even at his best behaviour Reynardine would be a constant mental distraction from her morning lab class about carbon nanotube ceramics.
That single idea derailed the girl’s train of thought: A distraction from carbon nanotube ceramics. Wasting no more time she grabbed her book bag and held it open against the edge of her desk. “Get in.”
Drawn and quartered. All his lands covered in salt, his wells poisoned and his herds fed to feral beasts. To buy all his debts so as to have him thrown to the streets.
William Winsbury deserved to be taught a lesson; that was a popular opinion among many of his classmates, but it was a rare for the girl that loved him. How this could be accomplished wasn’t yet decided by this girl; the ideas she had come up with were as unpractical as they were medieval.
Janet’s need to enact what she considered just correction of her boyfriend’s behaviour laid with the inconveniences of their relationship. The volatile young woman enjoyed the act of uncongenial banter that they played; the dramatics of the subterfuge added spice to every secret encounter.
What his secret girlfriend had never agreed to, and this she would be sure was thoroughly clarified to him, was for him to engage in flirting with other girls to maintain their cover. It had started innocently enough: One of the other girls in their class staring wistfully at him while he feigned apathy; but it had escalated quickly when Matt had opened his mouth to comment on how Winsbury’s lack of interest spoke about his sexuality.
The insecure fool had since then started returning the girl’s brainless smile during classes, and no amount of sorry looks he inconspicuously sent his long time real girlfriend would grant him automatic forgiveness.
Not only was such insecurity unattractive to the headstrong Janet; it was also in her opinion a completely outdated fear. Homosexuality was not uncommon among Court students, and nobody was ostracized because of it.
A perfect example of this was the girl that was asking permission to the teacher to come in after having arrived late to class. Nobody ostracized that red head because of her sexuality; people just avoided her because of her creepy lack of personality. And lo and behold, the girl gets to come in but stops when she notices her girlfriend isn’t in class yet.
Carver inspected the room with her lifeless blank stare and then turned, probably thinking about leaving to find out where Donlan is; only to see the missing brunette has just arrived behind her, looking dishevelled and panting as if she had dressed hastily and ran all the way here.
The first girl’s request to enter the classroom had been polite and short; the second girl immediately launched into a rant desperately explaining to the professor why she had been late. What little could be understood of her plea involved having fallen asleep on Horsebot’s carriage and saying that she would be willing to be marked as absent as long as she was allowed to participate in the ‘lab fun’.
She kept interrupting the teacher and the timid man would not make her shut up. Finally, as if there was any doubt that the Donlans’ precious child would be barred from entering a class, the desperate man just waved her in.
Both girls smiled at each other then and walked together to their usual lab station. However, Carter raised a hand to keep her partner from taking her seat; then she bent down to open the counter under the lab table to slide her bag in the space underneath, leaving it open before she sat down and invited the other girl to do the same.
Janet did not need much guesswork to deduce that the red head was smuggling something. And by the reaction of the other girl after they had a short conversation in hushed tones, it was easy to tell it was something important.
Now Janet HAD to find out what it was.
“What are boys made of?” Kat Donovan began to singsong when she looked into the lab station cabinet and saw the creature crawling backwards out of Antimony’s bag, wriggling his white butt as he tried to free his head.
“They are made of frogs and snails-“ Her hand reached forward.“-and puppy dog tails!” And she pinched Reynardine’s short stubby tail, starling him so much he tried to stand up in the small space. His head, still inside the book bag, struck the underside of the lab table with so much force that the equipment on top rattled.
Few of the students nearby cared enough about the noise to notice Kat biting her knuckles to keep from laughing and Annie smiling guiltily; none of them could see the demon in the cabinet, with his head now freed, attempting to make as many rude signs as he could without the use of fingers.
The teacher, attempting to earn his title, cleared his throat loudly to get the attention of everyone present; the amused girls responded by facing the blackboard, but they started a conversation in hushed voices.
“Wasn’t ‘no Reynardines in the classroom’ one of your rules, Annie? On account of him being-” Kat avoided a kick to the shins from the demon by moving her legs away from the front of the cabinet at the last moment. “-a grouch when bored; and generally a sourpuss most of the time.”
Annie pushed the creature away from her friend with the side of her shoe. “I made sure to bring along something to keep him busy. You were concerned yerstady so, when you didn’t visit this morning, I decided to bring him here to show you we had reached a com-“ She paused and looked down at the possessed doll when she felt it leaning casually against her knee; his expression looking towards Kat may have been cheeky, but as close as she was it was impossible for Annie to miss the wrinkles of tension on the corner of his eyes. When the red head looked up she had decided to measure her words, for now. “-an agreement.”
Kat, accepting Rey’s smile as sincere and reading nothing into the familiarity with which he leaned against her friend’s legs, beamed with joy. “I knew you would. It was nothing you couldn’t resolve talking.” The brunette, intent on teasing the demon some more, tilted her head and looked down with a mocking half-grin. “Well, talking and maybe a few spankies. Isn’t that right, Reynardine? Did somebody get a tender ass for his disobedience?”
Blue eyes went wide even as their owner managed to keep a congenial smile but the odd expression went unnoticed; Kat was too busy doing a double take when she saw that, rather than turning into an annoyed frown like she had expected, Reynardine’s smile grew to cover one full quarter of his head with an unnaturally big and predatory grin, displaying more and longer teeth than should have been possible for a head so small.
Only Annie knew that she was Kat’s lab partner by a very superficial definition. For science Kat was brilliant, skillful and enthusiastic; taking over their lab projects completely unconsciously. This relegated Annie to the role of assistant, providing help when instructed to or when what to do was evident for her; she was perfectly content with this.
Today’s experiment was no different. As soon as the teacher was done with his explanations and instructions, which Annie wasn’t sure her friend had even required, Kat had sprung into action. Annie did the best she could do keep up, propping up the lab glassware and plugging electric hot plates when their need was obvious, but this was by all means Kat’s experiment.
One by one all the equipment in the cabinets and drawers was taken out to be assembled into a rickety experimental rig that grew larger than any of their classmates’. When consulted by Kat about something relating to their work the red haired girl just nodded, more confident in her friend’s logic than on her own interpretation. When everything was set up she sat back with notebook in hand and allowed Kat to fiddle with the gear on her own.
Now came the boring wait the red head knew very well, when she passed from assistant to mere observer. She was obligated to look busy, but there was little she could do with her time except improve her class notes and write down whatever Kat’s observations were. Worst yet, her friend’s full attention during these projects became completely focused on the experiment, meaning she would be deaf to any attempts to carry out a conversation.
The boring routine was so typical that it was easy to forget what, or rather who, wasn’t supposed to be in this classroom. Annie regularly looked into the cabinets, now empty except for him and her bag, to check on his behavior; but he gave her no troubles. When the girls had begun with the lab work Reynardine had just sat down and continued working on the translation just like he had done on Annie’s desk.
Sometimes Annie had caught him pausing to stare at her, but whenever she noticed he nonchalantly returned to work. He was behaving impressively well, he was behaving unexpectedly well, he was behaving boringly well.
The girl hadn’t wanted a disaster, but she would have been grateful for some kind of distraction. What kind of distraction she wasn’t sure, for simply talking with him would have been impossible without alerting others to his presence. Still, as time crawled by, she decided to attempt something Kat had already done to him that day: provoke a reaction.
Annie moved her chair closer to the open cabinet, so close that her feet could easily go into the cabinet, where they would be hard to move them without bumping into him, which was her intention. She crossed her legs, putting the tip of her shoe at just the right height to bump against his forehead whenever she moved her ankle.
The first time the girl tapped Reynardine’s head he disregarded the distraction. The second time this happened he grumbled and moved an inch to the side, still being too engrossed on what he was doing with the translation. The third he knew was intentional and looked up to see if it was the girl’s rude way to call for his attention, but Annie was looking straight ahead at the blackboard. The fourth tap came while he was still looking up; it was enough to make him close the notebook and set it aside; the ‘Great Reynardine’ was weighing the possibility she was testing him against the fact that she was touching him with her dirty shoe. With the fifth tap he noticed the piece gum stuck to her sole and his short endurance for annoyances was exhausted.
The red head’s act of attentive student perusing the blackboard was useless when Reynardine suddenly grabbed her foot and pulled her leg, causing her chair to screech against the floor as it was moved forcibly closer to the cabinet. When the demon let go the girl noticed that the teacher had been alerted by the noise. The man gave her a momentary disapproving frown, but even when his eyes moved elsewhere Annie noticed that he kept her within his eyesight.
More worrying than the teacher’s notice was that Reynardine had done more than just pull her, the imp had taken her shoe, leaving her only with her stocking. With the teacher’s eyes on her Annie kept on going over the diagrams and formulas on the blackboard as if nothing was out of the ordinary while, out of his sight, she used her foot to try and find her missing shoe in the cabinet.
Reynardine’s grudge was short lived. At first he moved around to avoid being touched by the foot’s blind rummaging, but seeing the slender feminine leg move about quickly gave the demon other ideas. He sat down once again and waited for the foot to come by; when it did, he held it in place by grabbing the girl’s ankle. The girl braced against being dragged a second time and prepared to risk garnering more of the teacher’s attention by whispering a command to the hidden creature.
Instead, the demon did something that made it very difficult to keep a straight face regardless of the teacher’s suspicions: Reynardine bit her big toe. Anyone else would have followed the reflex to move away from danger; Annie suppressed that reflex and staid calm, not attempting to free her foot from his jaws just yet. The bite was soft, barely more than pinpricks as the sharp teeth pressed against her skin with just enough force to make their presence known without piercing skin.
Seized and under the teacher’s surveillance as she was, Antimony couldn’t prevent the creature from caressing her calf with both of his fingerless hands. His movements were slow and firm, the pads of his hands molded well to her leg as he stroked her muscles. These padded hands, unique in their odd shape and structure, easily molded to fit around the curves of slim leg. Even knowing well that he had her toe between teeth that could take it in a second, then red haired girl found his attentions to be very soothing.
She wasn’t as pleased when she felt his claws come out and rake her leg. Like with her toe the pressure of the edges against her leg wasn’t enough to pierce or scratch her skin; however, her stocking wasn’t treated as well. The blades did a quick work of shredding her stocking silently. She felt the slips of torn fabric slide off until her leg was exposed from calf to toe.
The destruction made the girl angry so, when his teeth let go of her toe in order to let the last bit of fabric fall off, Antimony swiped her feet and tried to land a sideways kick to Reynardine’s head. He stopped her foot once again with more strength and solidity than should have been granted to his impish form.
Potential witnesses or not, anger was making the girl think about an immediate punishment for her personal demon. Her mood only simmered down when Reynardine did something that confused her. He pressed his too-thin lips, puckered, against her sole; right on the arch of her foot. As bizarre as the experience was, she could guess what the gesture was: A kiss. This fueled her curiosity and kept her from breaking loose when his grip relaxed as his hands slid up to gently squeezed near the tip of her foot.
The demon began to rub from the base of the toes to her heel and back, unhurriedly moving up and down as he sporadically planted his inhuman kisses on her skin. Contrary to what the redhead had expected the pivoting motions and the way his padded palms kneaded her skin did feel ticklish, but calm and relaxing. She couldn’t keep the corners of her mouth from rising for a smile of satisfaction.
Her toes scrunched and straightened languidly, grasping nothing but air as she allowed herself to give in into the relaxing ripples that traveled up her leg. This bred a carelessness that almost allowed her to gasp when she felt her big toe go into Reynardine’s warm mouth.
This time the creature kept his teeth in check and limited to carefully rubbing her toe between his lips. What logic he used to decide when to move to the next toe, she did not know, but one by one each of her digits received the same ministrations. The bliss radiated from his movements was intoxicating.
She was a falling asleep. Antimony gained sudden awareness that her eyelids had closed and she didn’t know when. Alarmed, she pulled her legs out the cabinet and looked about; half-expecting that either the teacher or her friend may have noticed her mistake or what the demon had been doing. Nobody had.
Relieved, the girl looked down at her own legs. She confirmed with her eyes what she had felt; the mischievous imp had completely destroyed one of her stockings. All that was left was the fabric of the stocking’s sleeve, still wrapped high around her leg. Even if she got her shoe back now it would be hard to explain why she was wearing a single stocking, she would have to deal with the remaining one. Doing that in the classroom would be no easy task.
The red head looked around once again to check if anybody was watching her. Satisfied with the lack of attention, and adding one more unnecessary risk to that day, she surreptitiously took off her second shoe and used her toes to slowly pull off her reaming stocking. Doing this without being noticed was risky, slow and complicated; but when she was done both of her legs were equally exposed.
It was during this strange exercise of toe dexterity that Antimony became aware of the difference she felt between her right foot and left foot, the relaxation and lack of tension in one and not the other gave her a physical feeling of asymmetry. The one the demon had paid attention to felt lighter and more flexible, besides the obvious lack of shoe. It was a great sensation on its own; however, not feeling the same on both feet made her feel disagreeably unbalanced.
This disparity and a sense of entitlement for her destroyed property kept the girl from putting her shoe back on. Instead, without a second thought, she thrust both of her naked feet back into the dark space of the cabinet, wanting the creature inside to give her other foot the same treatment. That was not to be.
Her feet did not meet the empty space or the small body she had expected, almost immediately her toes came in contact with something much larger and covered in long fur. Reynardine had transformed in the constricted space; now the full cabinet was occupied by a large wolf resting on its chest.
Undiscouraged, the girl tried to regain his attention by insistently thrusting her feet against him. Her only accomplishment was to make the beast roll to its side with an inaudible groan she felt as a vibration on his skin.
What would have bothered the creature in his impish form couldn’t disturb him now. No matter how forcefully the girl stepped on his side, the creature would not stir any more. Eventually, as she learnt on her own how frustrating it was to try to get a point across without being able to speak, her movements gradually diminished in speed and intensity, continuing only because the movement was better than sitting static waiting for the class to end.
It was then, when her bare feet sluggishly rubbed against the beast’s coat, that she got a reaction. Reynardine arched back, shifting his position to take advantage of what had become an unintentional caress by leaning into her touch.
Antimony did not stop when she realized what the demon was doing. Although the opportunity for a second massage seemed lost, she now had the chance to study and familiarize herself more with the body of creature she had come to an odd agreement with. She concentrated on this task with a focus and interest that rivaled Kat’s for the experiment she was still doing.
She soon found that whatever trick granted Reynardine a fake wolf body was imperfect. Shape and function were well imitated, but a childhood spent in a hospital had provided Antimony with knowledge that revealed many inconsistencies, limits to what the demon’s willpower could do. The sensation of his long fur passing between the girl’s toes was gratifying, but the strands of hair were too dry, rough and malleable to be natural.
As she followed the contours of his rib cage she found that the bones had been miscopied. Curvature was simulated by a vast number of metal pieces meeting end-to-end on multiple angles, with grooves and flat surfaces where there should be none. His flesh, cotton packed tight and stretched taut underneath his skin to look and feel like living tissue, was too even; she could find no veins or individual muscles. However, what entertained Antimony most was the total lack of life signs. The hum of power that she had half-noticed the other night was almost nonexistent now, and this piqued her curiosity.
The contact Reynardine interpreted as affective was the same the girl was using to examine him by palpating him with her feet. She combed the coat of his neck looking for any indication of a pulse or breathing; the creature reveled in the feeling of her toes stroking his mane. She searched his armpit for body heat; he delighted in having her well-trimmed nails scratch an imaginary itch.
The demon had become so pampered that he was unprepared for when Annie’s feet suddenly glided from his chest hair to his stomach and lower body. Reynardine trembled once and immediately went still again, now quite alert about where the girl’s touch had gone.
Not a single twitch in Annie’s façade appeared to demonstrate the slightest surprise. Her feet stopped when the creature moved only because she physically perceived a change underneath the skin of the beast: The temperature of his body had suddenly spiked and his chest had risen as if he had reflexively inhaled.
With this pause Reynardine developed disappointment; he quickly convinced himself that her less decent touch had been accidental. His eyes went wide and his spirit became rapturous when she proved him wrong by hesitantly touching his testicles with her big toe.
Antimony Carver Stibnite harbored no illusions about the cold medical facts behind ‘the birds and the bees’ myth, a childhood surrounded by medical text books had made this inevitable. She knew very well where and what she was touching, even if it did not match what she had learnt about anatomical theory.
A lack of protest or opposition from the demon was what the girl needed to lose her hesitation. With both feet on the task, and more curiosity than patience, she used her digits to learn the shape and feel of what she considered as mere glands, tracing unpredictable patterns around their surface. Sometimes drawing circles around their base, other times spiraling over the round and velvety surface to the middle before drawing a straight line on the skin between them.
Soon she came to know just what movements made the temperature of the creature increase. Finding out where and how much strength should be applied to control this reaction was nearly a game; a game that by chance she discovered that she enjoyed playing in a way she hadn’t experienced before. Completely absent mindedly she started to rub her notebook against her chest, slowly scrubbing the fabric over her nipples with the spiral that bound her class notes together.
In the cabinet Reynardine was silently cursing and blessing all 1327 deities he had known or ever heard about. At first Antimony’s touch had been at times too rough to be completely pleasant; however, with acuity and enthusiasm she was quickly teaching herself to do something that he knew from personal experience that other young women could never become adept at.
Regardless of her developing skill, eventually the beast was not satisfied just by what the red haired girl was going. She had but awoken his ever-starving lust. A lust that made him use his legs to push the girl’s feet away from his testicles and to where his male member had manifested.
Continuing now would be madness. A madness Annie’s own mind had become too clouded to take notice of, so her feet willingly touched the novelty she was presented with. She took in stride the differences between what she knew in theory and what she discovered with her sense of touch. She was more excited by the way Reynardine trembled repeatedly as she ran her feet along its length. She soon accepted that touching his throbbing penis was not as interesting as the response she got from the demon. The need to control that formed in her mind was as persistent and evident as to be indubitable.
The annoyance of being unable to grasp his girth with her toes was forgotten when she tried to do this on the head of his penis and she fixated on the thrill of making him twist in place just by pinching this part of his body. Much to Reynardine’s benefit this sadistic streak was short lived and quickly vanished as the young woman’s touch turned gentler as she explored his phallus.
Finally, when Antimony had used her time to commit to her memory the shape of his member, the girl did what the beast had truly been impatient for. She used both of her feet, one slid under his member and the other placed on the other side, to take hold of his member. Once the girl was sure it wouldn’t escape her grasp she gave his penis an experimental jerk, gliding its surface between her feet and savoring the way the now unmistakable beat of power made it throb against her skin. Annie was-
“Carver, stop slouching.”
Terrified the girl withdrew her legs from the cabinet, straightened on her seat, and looked about; she fully dreaded the possibility of having been observed by somebody. She quickly observed that the only persons looking at her were the teacher and Kat, and neither of their expression showed that they had any idea of what improper act she had committed. She was about to take a private sigh of relief and apologize to the teacher when a thunderous angry voice rose over all the noise in the lab room, immediately making everyone in the room turn their faces in her direction.
“OH YOU CANKEROUS MEDDLING RO-!“
...So you're just re-posting Mighty Buush's stuff from another board?
At least give credit where credit is due.
>implying i'm stealing credit
This is about Beas formspring, so whatchutalkingboutwillis.
did buush die