Author’s Note: This is my first attempt at a tickling story, so please don’t laugh too much. (No pun intended.) The story itself is dedicated to both Kyle Dragon and HowlnCmndo, both of whom have inspired me in both past and present.

 

Morden

 

 

THE JAIN SWIFTBLADE SAGA: Part One

 

 

Jain Swiftblade trotted through the open gates of Tylis on her trusty steed Vendanse and observed her surroundings before looking up at the battlements of Tylis castle, which stood forebodingly at the centre of the town. The young warrior vixen struck an imposing figure on her mount: strikingly beautiful, lean, athletic, and lightly clad in weathered brown leather. She bore all the hallmarks of the infamous Clan of S’Nom, which was famed for hiring out its warriors as mercenaries, and Jain was one such sword for hire.

As she rode through the main avenue of the town towards the castle, the myriad townspeople going about their work ceased their tasks to gaze at the alien mounted figure with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Jain ignored her watchers with characteristic disdain, looking only ahead at the steadily growing gatehouse of her destination.

The young Prince of Tylis had sent an emissary to S’Nom asking for their assistance in vanquishing a monster that was supposedly roaming the woods between the outlying villages of the kingdom. As the S’Nom’s finest warrior, Jain had been selected for the task, and she was eagerly anticipating the opportunity for yet another victory. The rewards which accompanied successful missions were also very appealing; her horse Vendanse had been part of her payment for killing the despotic Dread Knight of Cassano, and freeing the kingdom from the shackles of slavery. Truth be told, she loved the warrior lifestyle with a lustfully reckless abandon; and a mere ravening monster would no contest in securing another purse of gold.

 

Jain eventually arrived at the Gatehouse of Tylis castle, and after a stable groom had secured her mount, she was escorted to the throne room inside the central keep by no less than a dozen palace guards. Of course, if the assassination of the Tylian Royal Family were her mission, these pitiful escorts would have posed no threat. On a lighter note, at least the Prince had an appreciation of how dangerous a warrior vixen could be, and had shown some respect by taking the appropriate precautions.  However, as Jain approached the figure seated at the end of the grandiose chamber, she saw that the way he was looking at her portrayed an air of anything but respect. Like many of the Tylian nobility, Prince Cassius was a wolf, and along with his species had gained his position through generations of social dominance by strength of arms. The Prince himself couldn’t have been older than sixteen, and by the way he was lustfully ogling her, the young wolf was a resentable juxtaposition of masculine misogyny.

 

Prince Cassius slouched leisurely in his throne and grinned at Jain in what he clearly hoped was a dashing and alluring way before he spoke:

“You must be Jain Swiftblade of the S’Nom… I must say, your reputation and your beauty precedes you.” Cassius’ inane flattery was tediously predictable, and did nothing to ease Jain’s growing temper as the prince weighed her up like a slab of meat.

 

“Beauty alone cannot carry a sword, your highness”, she replied testily, “and the warrior vixens of the S’Nom are renowned for much more than mere fair looks.”

“Indeed” muttered Cassius as he continued to gaze at her. Jain’s temper flared.

Gods! Jain thought, Is this condescending brat employing me or my cleavage?

“With all due respect highness, I was hired to slay a monster, and I’d appreciate any intelligence you could give me as to the creature’s nature and whereabouts.” The wolf Prince snapped out of his demi-trance and for the first time in their conversation, looked Jain in the face.

“Now there’s a strange thing… I can tell you where the beast is, roughly, but as to its nature as I know as much as you. I’ve sent three of my finest Wolf Knights to slay it, and only one has returned, adamant that he had never found the monster. Shortly after his return, the Knight handed in his sword and armour, babbling something about knighthood being too dangerous. Even to this day his friends say that he refuses to talk about his experiences.” Jain raised an eyebrow.

“Strange indeed.” the vixen echoed. “Fear not, highness, I have never failed before, and this dread creature will soon bother you no more.” Cassius grinned at her once again.

“What makes you think a female will succeed where my finest Wolf Knights have failed?” Jain’s warrior temper reached boiling point, and she squeezed the hilt of her falchion, imagining it to be the insolent Prince’s neck.

“I assure you, highness, that I will vanquish this monster if I find it, that I am certain of,” she growled. Cassius arrogantly waved her away, the palace guards standing to attention in preparation to accompany Jain out of the chamber.

“Very well, I’ll await your return and have payment ready. Guards, escort escort her out.”

 

An hour later, and Jain Swiftblade was riding through the rolling Tylian countryside towards the eastern fringe Katara Forest, where the first and second Wolf Knights had supposedly disappeared. The hot-tempered young vixen was still fuming over her encounter with Prince Cassius, but business with business, and the sooner she was paid the better. Despite the fact that she had no idea of what this monster looked like, she was characteristically confident that it’d be no match for her warrior skill. Villagers in the area who had encountered the monster were apparently reluctant to speak of it, and one peasant girl she had spoken to personally in a settlement a mile back had acted strangely embarrassed when questioned. All she would say was that she’d caught a glimpse of it, and ran. What’s more the young girl had urged Jain not to seek the beast out, saying that she’d “regret it”. Jain snorted. She’d been a Warrior vixen since she was 17, and at 22 she had nothing to regret after despatching numerous foes whether for gold or reputation.

At last she reached the edge of Katara forest, and slowed Vendanse to a walk. It was already afternoon, and she didn’t savour the prospect of entering the forest any later and searching for her mysterious adversary come nightfall. With this in mind, Jain steeled herself to the task ahead, dismounted, tied Vendanse to a nearby tree, and entered the forest sword and shield in hand.

 

Katara forest itself wasn’t exactly the foreboding domain she expected for a feared monster that had apparently defeated two of the finest knights in Tylis, and had terrified several villagers into silence.

Having grown up with the S’Nom, Jain could appreciate the serene beauty that unspoilt nature had to offer, and had spent countless hours alone in such surroundings, often hiding from her hated brothers, especially Jax. She growled to herself, remembering how they’d treated her as a child, jealous, she told herself, because she was female, destined for a proud warrior life, while they were condemned to toil in the fields. The young vixen allowed herself a triumphant smile. She’d had the last laugh. Jain sent up a thankful prayer to Fortunata, the S’Nom warrior goddess, whose worship advocated female superiority and the sacred institution of matriarchy, which formed the basis of her clan. Her heart swelled with pride; surely nothing could stand before a warrior vixen of the S’Nom!

Jain continued to stalk deeper into the forest, the shafts of sunlight piercing the canopy creating an almost supernatural netherworld bathed in a perpetual green glow. Years of training meant she made practically no sound as she moved, which is why, after a while, she noticed that the buzzing of insects and the chirruping of birds which had greeted her at the tree line were conspicuously absent. The Vixen stopped, allowing her piercing blue eyes, to take in every detail of the forest around her, her ears straining for any unusual sound; but all she heard was her own, calm, controlled breathing. Something wasn’t right. She gripped her falchion tighter, and drew in her shield closer to her body. After a further moment’s pause, Jain continued onwards.

 

It was not long before Jain came across a clearing, with a stream running partially through it. Crouching low within a clutch of ferns at the clearing’s edge, she examined the clearing closely. Apart from the stream, and the green vines and undergrowth that lined the ground, the clearing was devoid of other features. Concluding that no threat was evident, Jain stood up, and slowly entered the clearing, a burgeoning thirst prompting her to make for the stream. She knelt down that the water’s edge, put down her weapons, cupped her hands, and began to drink the cool clear water.

 

She froze. A sound. Unmistakable.

 

In a flash the warrior vixen was on her feet, sword and shield gripped tightly, her honed muscles tensed and rippling. Jain scanned the clearing. Nothing. There it was again! Suddenly, a movement off to her right caught her eye; it was one of the Vines! She spun to face the long, green, snakelike form, which was slithering its way towards her. She stood, at the ready. Then, another sound. Behind her! Her ears swivelled around, and with a sinking, dread feeling, she realized it was another vine. What was worse the vines, which lined the clearing, were all around her. Surprise turned to desperation as her ears were assailed with the sounds of the snakelike vines slithering across the ground towards her. Jain turned and started to run towards the edge of the clearing, but was headed off, as two of the thick green vines reared up in front of her. She roared defiantly and with lightning speed slashed at the snakelike tendrils, but they moved impossibly fast, dodging the flashing blade of her falchion. The vines were rearing up all around her now, waving threateningly, moving and feigning at her sword thrusts and slashes: all the warrior Vixen could do was spin, block, slash and dodge. No matter how fast she moved and how agile she was, she couldn’t cut down any of the vines or stop them from inexorably closing in on her.

 

The attack when it came, happened in an instant, and there was nothing Jain could have done to stop it. The vines coiled rapidly around her ankles, wrists, and around her waist, pulling her limbs outwards, and lifting her into the air; all the warrior vixen could do was roar in defiance and struggle helplessly against her bonds. It was then she realized, that the vines were warm. These weren’t vines at all, they were tentacles! Jain’s stomach clenched in horror as she realized the terrible truth of what had occurred. The clearing was a trap, the vines were tentacles, she’d found the monster. Jain’s heart started to pound furiously in her breast as adrenalin coursed through her veins. For the first time in her young warrior life, she started to experience sheer, unadulterated, terror. 

 

Jain continued to struggle to no avail, still gripping desperately to her shield and falchion, both now completely useless. But still she clung on, hoping against hope that the monster, wherever it was, would loosen its grip, giving her the chance to use her weapons. Despite being suspended, spread-eagled in mid-air by the multitude of thick, green, snakelike limbs, Jain still could not locate her captor. The tendrils were all around her, below her, slithering out from, and coiling into the clearing’s edge. In her years as a vixen warrior she’d slain countless foes, and never once been defeated, the very notion had always been absurd to her. This made her situation all the more terrifying.

Jain was utterly helpless, and there was nothing she could do. All notions of honour and martial pride suddenly appeared a world away and complexly irrelevant. She didn’t want to die.

“Please”, Jain said softly, “don’t kill me.” As if in response, several tentacles reared up in front of her, and at last she had a good look at what she was up against. They swayed hypnotically in front of her, each one flattened and tapered into to an tip shaped like an arrowhead, leaf, or… A memory came flashing back. She was in the woods, running from her brothers. They caught her, pinned her down, pulled off her boots, then Jax pulled something from his pocket that made her blood run cold. Jain’s mind snapped back into reality and she watched as the tips of two of the unseen monster’s limbs move slowly and purposefully up towards her exposed, vulnerable armpits. Her head darted from side to side, watching the tentacle tips rise ever closer to her underarms.

“W-what are you doing?” she whimpered, her voiced edged with fear. Then, with the tendrils just inches from her flesh, she remembered exactly what they looked like. No!!! The tips of the tentacles looked horrifyingly like the feathers her brothers used to tickle her with as a child. At that moment, the tips made contact with her armpits.

 

The sensation caused the young vixen’s body to jolt involuntarily, and Jain let out a girlish yelp of surprise. Then, to her unfathomable horror, the feather-like tips of the beast’s tentacles began to slowly circle her armpits, round and around and around. A million thoughts rushed through Jain’s mind, and her senses begun to scream at her.

She clamped her jaw shut, closed her eyes, and tried to ignore what was happening to her bare, exposed underarms.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

Her lithe frame shuddered and convulsed, her muscles rippled and tensed. Jain tried desperately to control the effects the monster’s touch on her armpits was having, trying to will the sensations away. She gritted her teeth, and cold beads of sweat slowly began to form on her brow. 

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

She knew exactly what the monster was trying to do, but she didn’t want to accept it: it was too ridiculous, too absurd, and for her, too horrible to acknowledge. Yet she couldn’t resist any longer, and Jain finally accepted that the creature was doing something that had struck terror into her ever since she was a child. The monster was tickling her.

No! This can’t be happening! Please Gods, no! NOT THIS!!! Jain’s jaw quivered as the tendril-tips completed another torturous circuit of her underarms.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

Tears congealed at the corners of the vixen warrior’s eyes. It was unbearable. It was torture. It was her one weakness, the one thing that made her heart turn to ice every time she thought about it.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

It gave her nightmares. It was why she let no one touch her. It was the reason why she shuddered every single time she saw a feather. It didn’t matter that Jain was one of the finest vixen warriors to ever come from the S’Nom; behind the beauty, skill, intelligence, bitterness, and pathos, she was still the same unbearably ticklish little girl that she had always been.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

And right now, suspended in the air, ensnared in the multitude arms of an enemy she could not see, fight, or escape, her worst fears, her darkest nightmares, were becoming reality.

 

Jain had lost count of how many seconds she’d managed to hold out. Every synapse was firing at maximum, urging her to give in to the inevitable. Every stroke of the feather-like tips of the tentacles under her arms was driving her ever closer to the edge of madness. But she couldn’t laugh! She couldn’t! Doing so would admit to the monster that she was ticklish; maybe if she didn’t laugh it would give up and stop. But the monster didn’t give up. It did not stop.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle…

As if growing impatient with its prey, and unseen by Jain herself, the monster raised two more tentacles to the vixen’s vulnerable torso, the limbs swaying for a few seconds as if contemplating their target. They stopped, and lowered themselves so that their tips hovered a hair’s breadth away from Jain’s firm, flat, bare stomach. Then in one, smooth, co-ordinated movement, the tentacles dragged their tips up the full length of the young vixen’s vulnerable belly.

Tickle, Tickle, TICKLE

Jain’s eyes snapped open, her body convulsed, and her mental defences collapsed. Her mouth sprang open, and uncontrollable laugher burst out of it like shot from a cannon. She laughed harder than she’d ever laughed before, every stroke of the creature’s tentacle tips pushing her into hysteria.

“NO!!!” Jain screamed between desperate fits of laughter, “STOP!!! PLEASE, I CAN’T STAND IT!!! Still, the tips of the beast’s limbs continued to gently tickle her belly and armpits; the young vixen squirmed helplessly, her stomach muscles quivering under the remorseless stroke of the tentacles. The sheer intensity of the monster’s tickling was excruciating. Jain desperately shut her eyes and tried to will away the tormenting sensations dancing over her vulnerable flesh, but it was impossible. All she could do was scream with laughter, and struggle for air.

“PLEASE!!!” she shrieked, “LET ME GOHOHOHO!!! *Gasp* “PLEASE STOP TICKLING!!!”

 

However, the monster did not stop, it had only just started. Two more tentacles snaked along the ground and reared up next to Jain’s tormented midriff, one on either side of her. As with the two tendrils already tickling her belly, they lined themselves up, and in one perfectly timed movement, ran their pointed tips up the vixen warrior’s bare sides. Jain lost all remaining control, and screamed in horror.

“STA-HA-HA-HAP!!!” she cried, tears now trickling from the corners of her eyes and down her cheeks. “OH GODS, PLE-HEE-HEE-HEASE MAKE IT STA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!”

The tendrils at her armpits stopped their circular motion, only to start stroking up and down the full length of her underarms, teasing her partially exposed ribs. Those stroking her vulnerable sides and belly remorselessly continued their tickling, unrelentingly, indefatigably, without pity. No matter how much the young vixen laughed, screamed, and begged for mercy, the cruel beast would not stop tickling. Tears of laughter were now streaming freely from Jain’s eyes, and her tormented mind, assailed by the unbearable sensations, began to sink into ticklish oblivion.

“PLEASE!!! Jain wailed, “NO MORE!!! I CA-HA-HA-HA-HAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!” Two more tentacles raised themselves up from the ground in front of her, and to the vixen warrior’s horror, their feather-like tips began to stroke up and down her thighs. “NO-HO-HO-HO-HO!!!”  This was too much to bear. Between her uncontrollable fits of laughter, pleading, and desperate attempts to breathe, she tried to compose herself, and cried out in a voice filled with torment and despair. “PLE-HEE-HEE-HEASE!!! I BEG OF YOU!!!  STOP TORTURING ME-HEE-HEE!!!!” Jain was close to breaking point, her lungs ached, and her throat was dry from laughing so hard. She couldn’t endure anymore.

 

After what seemed like an eternity, the tickling stopped. Jain slowly opened her eyes, panting rapidly, taking in all the air she could, and looked down. The monster’s limbs had indeed stopped tickling her, but the vixen’s exposed flesh that had experienced their touch still tingled; her tortured nerve endings pushed to the limit of their endurance.  She still suspended in the air, ensnared by the monster, and with her mind free of the ravages of the creature’s tickling, Jain realized that she was incredibly thirsty. Her senses restored, she listened to the sound of the stream, and gazed longingly at its cool, fresh water.

“Please” she said, “I thirst… Please let me drink.” Inwardly Jain didn’t expert her malicious captor to grant her desperate wish. It had tickled her to the edge of sanity, teasing her, tormenting her, torturing her. And now, it would cruelly hang her within feet of quenching her thirst. Then, to her surprise, the limbs holding her gently lowered themselves and Jain with them. For the first time in what felt like hours, her feet felt the ground, and the tentacles loosened, allowing the young vixen to stagger to and collapse at the stream’s edge. Jain cupped her hands and drank quickly, gulping down mouthfuls of the cool, refreshing liquid, the sensation of the water running down her parched throat mercifully satisfying.

After she had drunk her fill, Jain, looked around fearfully at the clearing’s edge, behind which, somewhere, her tormentor lay. Then, something in the stream caught her eye, a glint of silver. Curiously, Jain reached down, and pulled out a steel gauntlet, half-submerged by the silt and pebbles at the stream’s bottom. Impulsively, she searched around in the nearby undergrowth, and to her horror, found a leg guard, a gorget, and two breastplates, all heavily rusted and caked in soil. The armour of the two missing Wolf Knights. The young warrior vixen tried to suppress a sob as she felt the tendrils coiled around her waist, wrists and ankles slowly tighten. No… Please gods, no…

 

In that instant; Jain Swiftblade realized her fate, the same fate shared by the armour’s previous occupants. As she was lifted once more into the air, she watched, mortified, as the beast’s tentacles rose up again to her prone body. She wanted to cry out, scream, anything, but the unfathomable horror of her situation allowed only a whimper. Like the unfortunate wolves before her, ensnared in the clutches of the monster, she couldn’t avoid the inevitable. The tentacle-tips started to stroke at her lithe, unbearably ticklish body once more. Jain Swiftblade was slowly, deliberately, being tickled to death.

 

As the hours passed, the sun began to sink in the sky, turning the heavens from yellow, to orange, then finally the pastel-shaded purple of dusk. It was really quite beautiful, but Jain Swiftblade had other things on her mind, such as the unrelenting tickle-torture she was receiving in the bonds of the monster she had set out to slay. Still, the tendril tips stroked and teased her exposed flesh, tickling her in alternating movements; criss-crossing, zig-zagging, spiraling, driving her to tormented fits of hysterical laughter. The young warrior vixen had lost track of all time, and only the slow cooling of the air she tried desperately to breathe told her that nightfall was fast approaching. Maybe the monster would stop soon. Surely it had to rest like every other creature? It was this forlorn hope that prevented poor Jain from going mad in the clutches of her merciless captor.

PlheheheHEHEHEHEHEASE!!! STOOOP!!!” she gasped. Jain had never before begged or pleaded the way she had whilst in the clutches of this “tickle-beast”, but innumerable cries for mercy had not stopped her torment. The monster, apparently, didn’t want to listen.

 

Then, after what seemed like forever, the beast’s tentacles stopped their movement, and slowly drew themselves away from Jain’s body. She slowly opened her tear-moistened eyes, and watched as they sunk to the ground, and lay there, lifeless. It was then, that she looked up at the sky and saw the first star of nighttime twinkle back at her. As if by divine intervention, the limbs that held Jain in the air, gently lowered her to the ground.

The monster laid her there on her side, relaxing its tendrils, but still keeping the grip on the vixen’s wrists, ankles and waist. Jain immediately huddled into a foetal position, clutching at her tingling midriff, praying that the torture was over. She was exhausted from laughing, her energy was spent, and all she wanted to do was sleep. A chill breeze blew over the young vixen’s body, causing her to shiver uncontrollably, her scant warrior apparel offering little protection from the elements and the bitter cold of night. To her private despair, she realized the tickling had been replaced by the prospect of freezing in the chill night air.

Suddenly, the tentacles began to move again. No… No more… Jain moaned within the confines of her mind. But the tendrils didn’t tickle her, they began to slowly, purposefully wrap around her; first her bare legs, then her rump, hips, and midriff… Anxiously, the young warrior drew her arms into her chest, holding her clenched fists up by her head where she might still be able to use them. The tentacles continued to coil around her, cocooning her. They were around her upper torso, now, covering her arms and chest. Jain started to panic, fearing that the beast was attempting to constrict her, but her breathing remained unhindered. Then the coiling stopped, leaving only her hands, neck and head exposed, the warm snakelike limbs hugging her body. Warm, she thought. They were warm…It struck Jain as completely absurd after the way the creature had treated her, but it was evidently trying her keep her warm, protected from the cold of night.

She began to relax, letting the warmth of the creature’s limbs penetrate her body. Then, more movement from the tentacles. Three rose up in front of her face, swaying slowly, gently, hypnotically. Jain tried to tear her gaze away, but she was captivated, watching their strange dance, floating in the air. The vixen warrior’s eyelids began to droop, and she realized how tired, how exhausted she was. Two more tentacles rose behind her, and gently started to stroke her ears, melting away any tension remaining in the young vixen’s muscles. Sleep. All she wanted to do was sleep. Jain tried to fight it, but the swaying tentacles, and the tendrils stroking her ears, beckoned her to give in. After a few seconds, she let her eyes close, but still the monster continued to caress her ears, lulling the vixen into a deep, impenetrable sleep. Memories came flooding back. She was a child again, home, in her bed, snuggled deep beneath her warm, woolen blanket. Careless, without worry, the perfect existence. Finally, on a subconscious whim, Jain Swiftblade put her thumb in her mouth, smiled, and began to purr.

 

From within its lair beyond the trees, the creature watched Jain sleep. It had never tickled a she-creature before, and had found the experience most enjoyable. What’s more, its new plaything’s lack of armour or indeed clothing for that matter, made the tickling much easier than usual. The beast of Katara Forest had long been the target of many a warrior’s quest, and its would-be slayers had always ended up the same way, the young vixen currently wrapped in its limbs being no different. It struck the monster as absurd that it should be the object of so much animosity; it had never really hurt anyone. Well, not always. After it punished the creatures it captured, the monster always let them go. Anyone foolish enough to return, or try and harm it after they recovered their weaponry, was shown no mercy. Two of the three wolves that had recent aspirations to end its life had been foolish, and it it’d had no choice but to tickle them until they expired. Anyway, it reasoned, it had a right to life as much as anyone. Who were they to decide its fate? Yes, it would let the she-creature sleep, but it would have its way with her again in the morning.   

 

Jain found her self being gently shaken awake, but she really didn’t want to be disturbed.

“No mother…” she murmured, “I don’t wanna learn sword-craft today…” After another more vigorous shake, she opened her eyes, and remembered where she was. A single, mocking tentacle waved itself in front of her face, as if to say “Good morning” in its own special way. Unaware as to why she was sucking her thumb, she took it out of her mouth with an embarrassed glance back at the lone tendril, and squirmed within her cocoon, testing its hold around her.

As if in response, the monster’s limbs unravelled, and the tendrils still wrapped around her ankles, wrists and waist yet again hoisted the young vixen’s body into the air, but this time, only a few feet off the ground. Jain wondered if her cruel captor had finally finished tormenting her. Then, ominously, the creature laid her on the ground in the middle of the clearing, lowering her arms, and restraining them behind her back. She couldn’t stand the thought of being tickled any more, hadn’t she been tormented enough? Jain was left alone in the clearing. She could neither see nor hear any movement from the mass of dormant tentacles around her. After a moment’s contemplation, the desperate young vixen decided to make the most of this apparent interlude.

“H-hello?” she called nervously, “Er, I-I’m sorry about the whole, um… I’ve learnt my lesson! I promise never to try and slay you again! I promise!” Jain looked around expectantly at the shadowy tree line, but no answer was forthcoming. Suddenly, her gaze was drawn to movement from the tendrils wrapped around her ankles: they were slowly, gradually pulling away from her feet, pulling her leather boots off with them.

 

Within seconds, the vixen warrior’s feet were bared, and her boots discarded nonchalantly to one side. With a numbing, gut-wrenching feeling, Jain knew exactly what the monster intended to do with her, as the beast’s snakelike limbs one more wrapped themselves around her ankles. She tried to struggle, but it was hopeless. All Jain could do was tentatively flex her soles, and wiggle her toes. Her worst fears were confirmed when two of the monster’s tentacles started to slither across the ground towards her, before raising their feather-like tips in front of the young warrior vixen’s bare, vulnerable feet.

“Please…” Jain sobbed, “P-Please, not that, anything but that… Not my feetAnything but my feet!” She struggled vainly against her bonds as the tendril tips started to come nearer, memories of long forgotten sensations slowly beginning to surface. Her brothers, the woods, her feet being bared, the gentle touch of feather-tips on her bare, tender soles.

“Please! I’m sorry!” Jain cried as the tentacles drew closer, “I don’t deserve this!!!” Then, it struck her. She did deserve it. What was she to expect? She had come into the forest, looking to slay this monster, end its life, for money. Now, it had captured her. She realized in a moment of existential horror, that the creature’s revenge, every single tickle, was well and truly justified. At that moment, the tentacle tips reached the naked, vulnerable, unbearably sensitive soles of her feet, and began tickling.

NO-HO-HO-HO-HO!!! PLEEEAASEE!!!  STHAHAHAHAP!!! NOT MY FEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEEEEET!!!”

As the tips of the creature’s tendrils gently stroked up and down her pink, tender soles, Jain Swiftblade was pushed once more to the onto the brink of insanity. The suffering she had endured before was nothing compared to this. Her feet had always been her weakness, and now, the helpless young vixen’s tormented mind was being wracked with sensations she hoped, prayed she’d never feel again. She screamed, wailed, and cried with tortured laughter, and begged for mercy between desperate attempts to breathe: but still, the tickling continued.

Pushing its captive further into ticklish hysteria, the monster started to alternate the movements of its tendrils, circling the balls of her feet, zigzagging down her arches, and running the tentacles-points across the tips of her wriggling toes. Jain at first to scrunch-up her soles, in the hope that the effect of the tickling would weaken, but the creature was already prepared for such a contingency. A clutch of tiny, root-like tendrils had sprung up to her feet in response, and had wrapped around her individual toe claws, before firmly pulling them back. As a result, the excruciatingly ticklish soles of the vixen warrior’s feet were pulled taut over her flesh. Nothing would stop the monster in exacting its punishment to the fullest.

 MAKE IT STA-HA-HA-HA-HAP!!! PLE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEASE!!! I’M SORREEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!”

Jain soon began to feel dizzy and light-headed. Tears were running freely from the corners of her tightly closed eyes. Her throat was sore, and her lungs felt like they would burst at any moment. Was this it? Was this how her life would end, tickled to death in the grip of a merciless, unknown enemy? The young vixen’s poor, tormented mind would have sunk into the abyss if not for a new sensation assailing her consciousness. The creature had started to stroke the feather-like tips of its tentacles right  underneath her toes. Jain Swiftblade roared with laughter.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!!” she screamed, “NOT THERE!!!”

Yet the tendrils continued their course, dragging their tips back and forth underneath Jain toes, stopping occasionally to slide their tapered, arrowhead tips between them.

The young warrior vixen prayed for death, for her unbearable torment to end, for Fortunata herself to take her to the afterlife, anything but this. But death did not come, there was only tickling: endless, merciless, tickling. All Jain Swiftblade, the proudest, most skilled warrior the S’Nom had offer, could do was laugh. 

 

The hours passed, and the tickling finally stopped. The monster’s limbs began to not only loosen their grip on Jain, but uncoiled completely from around her body, leaving nothing but a sobbing, quivering wreck on the ground. She immediately reached down and grasped her bare, tortured feet, massaging them, trying to rub away the lingering sensations that still danced over her soles. The vixen looked around, and saw that the tentacles which had carpeted the floor of the clearing were starting to snake away from her, towards the trees and the forest beyond. Within seconds, no other living thing stirred around her, she was alone once more.

Tentatively, Jain stood up, almost loosing her balance in the process. The tentacles were indeed gone. She looked around and located her sword and shield, dropped soon after the creature had started to tickle her armpits. The vixen warrior strode over, reached down, and grabbed her weapons, clutching them to her body. Nothing happened. Then it slowly begun to dawn on her. The monster had spared her. Jain couldn’t help but let out a giddy, almost hysterical laugh of triumph. Yet she was still within the monster’s domain, and she didn’t want to push her luck. The warrior vixen didn’t know whether the monster that had tormented her had feelings, but she thought she’d better say something to make sure.

“I-I just wanted to say I’m s-sorry… It was wrong of me to come here…” she called out to the forest, her voice quavering. “N-No hard feelings?”  No answer. “Okay, I’ll be going then, if you have n-no objection?” Nothing.

Jain walked, slowly, calmly to the tree line. Still nothing. She was past the edge of the clearing now… three feet, five feet, ten feet, then, she ran. Jain ran as fast as her legs could carry her, tree branches whipping at her face and body. Within minutes she burst out of the forest, and collapsed on the ground, panting desperately. The young vixen laid there, a wave of elation and relief sweeping over her body. Jain looked up at the sky, watching the clouds drift serenely by, and thanked Fortunata that she was still alive. Tears happiness began to well in her eyes, but she wiped them away immediately. Warriors didn’t cry.

After a few minutes, Jain stood up and began to walk, skirting the tree line, in search for her erstwhile mount, Vendanse; finally finding the horse where she’d left him. Vendanse turned his head as he heard her approach, whinnying affectionately. Jain responded by embracing her mount’s neck, if only to remind herself that she was free, and alive. She rubbed Vendanse' flank reassuringly, and in one practised movement, mounted the horse, reared him around, and rode off back to Tylis.

 

Prince Cassius stared at her incredulously.

“What do you mean you couldn’t find the monster??”

“It is just as I said, highness”, Jain replied evenly, “I travelled to Katara forest, and found nothing.”

The vixen warrior looked the young wolf prince straight in the eye as she spoke. She wasn’t about to divulge the details of her journey to the royal upstart, after all, she had her reputation to think of.

“I must say, mistress Swiftblade”, said Cassius, regaining his composure, “I’m most disappointed in you, I expected more of a warrior vixen of the S’Nom”, he smiled condescendingly. A plan began to form in Jain’s mind. She smiled sweetly.

“Again, apologize my prince. I failed in my task because of my own weaknesses, but I am sure that if your highness embarked yourself to slay the dread beast, you would be successful in your quest”, the young warrior vixen said in honeyed tones.

“That I am sure of”, he grinned. “ Yet I’m afraid as a result of your failure, I will be unable to pay you the reward offered.”

“It is of no consequence Prince Cassius, I have learnt from my experience, and in turn, wish you the very best on your mission…” Jain said, a malicious grin spreading over her face.

 

Sarah skipped happily through the forest, humming a tune to herself, and absent-mindedly plucking the petals from a flower she had just picked. Then, unusual sounds began to assail the young ferret’s ears. She walked tentatively towards the source of the noise, and soon entered a clearing. Sarah watched bemused as a contingent of armoured wolves ran past her, their yells palpably edged with fear. On entering the clearing, she heard laughter, and immediately saw the source; a young wolf clad in full plate armour, who appeared to be tangled within a bed of think, green vines. Just then the wolf looked up and saw her.

“Please! Little girl!” he gasped “HehehehehehHELP ME-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEE!!! Sarah looked at the wolf more closely, and noticed that the wolf’s feet were bare, and were being stroked by the tips of a pair of the vines, which seemed to be wrapping themselves around his body, as if they had a mind of their own. The young ferret grinned mischievously as realization dawned on her.

“You’re being tickled, aren’t you?”

“YES!!! Now ple-hee-hee-hee-HEASE get someone, ANYONE!!!”

“Sorry mister” Sarah said sweetly, “Mother said I have to be back before lunch, or else I don’t get any dessert. Bye bye!” With that, she skipped happily back into the forest.

“NOOOOOO!!!” Prince Cassius wailed, as the monster’s tentacle tips continued to stroke up and down the bare soles of his feet. More tendrils closed in around him, slipping inside his breastplate, undoing its clasps, baring his torso for what the tickle-beast saw, as just another lesson to be taught.

 

THE END