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View Full Version : The Book of Four Veils - F/F, quite long, fantasy.



Inticklergator
05-15-2015, 10:46 PM
Hello everyone. I know a few people really liked my old stody, Sabotage on the Gargalesis (http://www.ticklingforum.com/showthread.php?255674-Sabotage-on-the-Gargalesis-(F-F-speculative-fiction)&highlight=sabotage+gargalesis), and I also know I said I'd deliver more... by new year 2015!

So, to those who liked the old story, apologies for the delay. It's not that it took a long time to write but that I was going back and forth in my head over whether I wanted to see if mtjpub would want it. As you can see, I decided I'd rather just contribute to the community.

This is not set in the same universe as Gargalesis. Hope this does not dissapoint. My next story really will be relatively soon, and I thought I'd ask what you want to see:

1. Another story in the gargalesis setting
2. Another story in the book of four veils setting
3. Something completely different.

The library had been hard to find, not least because she had not known she was looking for it. All her life, as long as she could remember, she had known in her deepest being that there was more in the world than the world itself. She did not know exactly what, and did not claim to, but she was sure that there was a hidden, metaphysical reality, and that it was this towards which all religions, mystical traditions and occult practices pointed.

Not that Jessica was credulous – far from it. Every paranormal claim she had ever encountered, she had examined with all of her formidable critical faculties. Time and again she had tracked down some rumoured miracle, some fabled guru, some ghostly apparition, only to find that the miracles were all fakes, the gurus were all charlatans and the ghosts were all misunderstood natural phenomena. Not once had seen anything that she considered genuine. Not once, and yet she believed. She could not do otherwise.

No one knew exactly how old the library was. The local people said that their grandparents had told them that it had stood in their own grandparents time, and that no one had known where it came from then, either. It was of no recognisable architectural style. It had four towers and crenelated walls, but looked more palatial than martial. The material it was made of looked like yellow sandstone, but it never eroded.

As far as anyone knew, it had been used as a library for just as long as it had stood.

The only entrance was a plain wooden door in an arch-shaped alcove. No one answered when Jessica knocked, so she pushed. It swung open easily.

It took her eyes a few seconds to adjust. The building was lit by torches with long, iron handles, placed four to each pillar on the compass points. What the hell, thought Jessica aren’t they worried about fire? But she noticed that the furniture and shelves were all carved from the same stone as the outside of the building.

The whole place felt eerie – only the librarians looked normal. There were five that she could see, wearing plain suits and attending to all the everyday tasks of a library. One sitting at the counter by a computer, the first truly modern thing she had seen in the building. Another wheeling a stainless steel trolley loaded with books, periodically stopping to put one on the shelves.

She took a closer look at the librarian behind the desk. Pretty enough but not unusual. Piercing green eyes and dark blond hair. She couldn’t trace what it was about the face that gave away the fact that she wasn’t quite European. Common enough, in that part of the world.

They paid her no attention whatsoever.

If there was anything to the rumours she had heard, what she was looking for would be in the occult section. Enquiring of the librarian, she was answered by a curtly pointed finger.

The way led her by the literature section, which she glanced at as she walked past. Not a bad selection – Hemingway, Austen, Melville. Her eyes lighted on James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a book which had long stood on her hypothetical to-read list. If only she had the time! Ah well, the metaphysical secrets of existence aren’t going to uncover themselves.

She picked it up and opened to a page chosen at random.

Last and crowning torture of all the tortures of that awful place is the eternity of hell. Eternity! O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And remember, it is an eternity of pain. Even though the pains of hell were not so terrible as they are, yet they would become infinite, as they are destined to last for ever. But while they are everlasting they are at the same time, as you know, intolerably intense, unbearably extensive. To bear even the sting of an insect for all eternity would be a dreadful torment. What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell for ever? For ever! For all eternity! Not for a year or for an age but for ever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away, and if the bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would scarcely have begun.

She snapped the book shut with a shudder. Horrible stuff! Who would want to read something like that? She put it back on the shelf, did her best to put the passage out of her mind and continued on her way.

Most sections of the library were indicated by modern, plastic signs with neatly printed lettering. The occult section alone was announced by a slab of smooth, varnished wood, the word OCCULT apparently hand carved with primitive, angular strokes. The slabe hund from iron chains and stirred very slightly as if in a breeze, though there was none.

Nice marketing gimmick, thought Jessica. She was too experienced to be dissapointed, and there was still fun to be had investigating a well-crafted hoax.

Apart from the sign, the occult section looked no different to every other. She started into it.

Looking left and right, the first books she saw dissapointing – neopagan nonsense, superstitious claptrap about improving your love life or your career by tieing gnots in handkerchiefs.

Next came far more edifying books, though not what she was looking for – scholarly works on the occult by serious, skeptical authors. She noticed Colin Wilson’s The Occult, a thick, painstakingly researched tome she had great respect for.

Next came grimoires and manuscripts, of ancient provenance – the Malleus Maleficarum, the Khmer Book of the Dead, the Lesser Key of Solomon, the Seven Secret Scrolls. All interesting, all valuable collectors items if original. She had read them all, and none possessed any genuine power – at most, they contained useful but obscure hints at the hidden reality she pursued.

This far away from the main area of the library, the atmosphere started to grow gloomy. For the first time, she saw books she did not recognize. She picked up a slim paperback with a totally blank cover and flicked through it. Every page was also blank, but she noticed from the little glimpses she got that whatever pages she was not actually looking at showed a script she had never seen before, and that vanished when she tried to see at it directly.

Very interesting, but not outside the realm of possibility. Human skill and the human mind working together can create powerful illusions.

She noticed a dark, shiny volume like a photo album. When she picked it up she nearly dropped it, as it was much heavier than she expected. She hefted it to look at the cover and found that the book was made of what felt like obsidian but, though very dark, was far more reflective than it ought to be. She could see herself in it, very clearly. Her long, blond hair was thick and straight, like a luxurious frame around her healthy, golden but red-cheeked farm girl’s face. Impressive craftsmanship, but not beyond the reach of human craftsmanship. Even the enhanced reflectivity could be explained – a good cloth and a lot of patience.

She pressed on, further from the nearest torch, further from the light.

Some of the books around her now were too tattered to be read, others glowed with an eerie green light. Nothing that could not be explained by human ingenuity or natural phenomena.

She noticed that the darkness ahead seemed to lead to a sudden, blank stop. Her pace quickened, and so did her heart – was she finally going to find something genuine, find what she had sought all these years?

The corridor formed by the stone shelves came to a dead end. The shelves wrapped around the corners to meet each other, and there in the very center of the middle shelf was one book, alone and laying on its cover.

Jessica breathed deeply, and walked to end.

The moment her hand touched the book she recoiled. Such a weird texture! It felt like nothing she was aware of books being made from, and yet familiar. She tentatively touched it again, running the tip of her forefinger over the cover. She recoiled again as she heard, as if conveyed by echo over a great distance, the sound of a woman laughing. Laughing, but not with joy. There was something familiar about that voice too. More disconcertingly, she had also felt the book shudder. Or had she imagined it?

She let her fingertip lay on it without moving. No laughter, no movement. Yes, she must have imagined it. It still felt strange though.

Hesitating, she put her whole hand on the book. Though there was no response, she suddenly realized why it felt familiar – it felt like skin. She had seen and held books bound with skin before, but that was not why she recognized it – it felt like not dead skin, but living.

Intrigued, she picked up the book in both hands and examined the cover closely. Yes, exactly like living skin. When she peered very carefully she could even make out blood vessels and the tiny hairs that conserve body heat. And yet there was something else…

The skin, or apparent skin, was the same shade as hers, originally light but tanned somewhat by long hours trekking outside. The smooth texture too… She realized with a shiver that the reason it felt familiar was that it was her own skin. No sooner had that sunk in than she recognized the laugh as also her own.

A shiver, but a happy one. Fear, tempered by effervescent joy that perhaps after all her searching she had found what she knew existed – the truly unfathomable.

Even so, she forced herself to be skeptical, refused to believe in the extraordinary without extraordinary evidence. What was more likely – that the laws of the universe had been suspended to slake her curiosity, or that someone had heard of her quest, covertly gathered information about her and then manufactured this thing, perhaps also planting the rumours that had led her here.

If so, she would happily salute a job well done, and she would be flattered at the lengths that had been gone to.

She turned the book in her hands. It must have been laying on its face, because when she flipped it over she was what must be the front cover. Most of it was taken up a dark blue glyph like a tattoo. It showed a spiral, with a huge quantity of lines branching out at every point along the line. She thought maybe it was a palm or some other branch, but the lines were too thin to be leaves. A fern then? But the smaller lines did not branch. She could think of no better interpretation than a feather, but what would that signify? Another problem with the hypothesis was that the spiral and the lines radiating from it became smaller and finer as it approached the center. In the very middle the lines were too small to be individually made out. But feathers were not like that, they stayed mostly the same thickness til a very rapid taper at the end. It might be explained as a spiral that curved not only in but also down, as in a spiral staircase, and that it was depicted as seen from above. But this was mere conjecture.

The title read – The Book of Four Veils. No author, no publisher, no other information.

Jessica traced the course of the possible-feather with her fingertip, but stopped when she felt the book shake and heard that same sad, far-off laughter.

She started again. This time when the book shuddered and she heard the far laughter, she did not stop but followed the spiral. As her finger circled slowly in towards the center, the shaking of the book grew more violent, til it was hard for her other hand to grip it. At the same time, the laughter grew louder and more sorrowful, sometimes stuttering as if the laugher – who laughed with her own voice – were trying and failing to speak.

She knew that she was going to open the book. After coming so far, after waiting so long, after finding something this strange, how could she not. Nonetheless, she made herself go through the motions of thinking carefully. If this was a hoax, the book might be booby trapped. But if the hoaxer had any sinister intent, they could have already attacked her here with impunity. There was no way out of the dead end, after all. If it were real though, what might happen if she opened the book? Being made of her living skin and laughing with her voice suggested danger to her – but what? The fact that the skin was living, she guessed, suggested she would not die, at least. As for the laughter, laughter is better than a shriek, sad or not. If the book was a hoax, perhaps she was in for a dose of laughing gas. If real, some occult equivalent. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but she could handle it.

Jessica opened the book.

The pages inside were merely paper, yellowed but mundane. The top half of the first page was filled by a woodcut illustration, the lower half by writing that appeared, judging by the layout, to be verse, but in a script she had never seen before. It looked a little like Cambodian and a little like Hebrew, but not much so, and had more right angles and sharp corners than either.

The woodcut showed a nude woman bound to a Saint Andrew’s Cross, secured at wrists and ankles by chains. Two other nude figures were at her sides, female but of too bizarre appearance to be human – wide, leering mouths, big eyes, limbs too long for their bodies. One was extending her tongue, which was freakishly long.

The bound woman’s face was contorted in what was obviously suffering, but did not look like pain. She even seemed to be smiling. Curious. The two inhuman females – devils she thought – were touching her, and were presumably responsible for whatever made her suffer so, but how they were doing it she could not make out. They were not holding any implement. They appeared to be merely touching her with their fingers. The one with the long tongue was licking the side of the victim of the victims.

They touch her, she laughs but also suffers. So… tickling?

An odd idea, but a reassuring one. If the only potential danger was of being tickled, she had little to fear.

She turned the page.

The next two pages were identical in layout, but different in content. One woodcut showed a woman gripping onto a long rail above what looked like a forest of giant feathers. Two long, thin appendages – tentacles? – were reaching in from outside the frame and yes, definitely tickling her. The other showed a woman hanging upside down, arms flailing wildly as a female demon tickle her feet.

Now that she looked, the women appeared to be identical. Let me guess, me? This was getting creepy. It’d probably be creepier if it turned to be fake than real.

The text on each page was different, though none was any more comprehensible to her than another.

She flipped slowly through the book, one leaf at a time. Each page had that same pattern – woodcut of woman being tickled, indecipherable poem. That the woman in the pictures was her was confirmed when she found a woodcut showing only the laughing, desperate face in close up. Every feature was right, even the freckle on the side of her nose.

She shivered. Jessica regarded tickle torture as an oxymoron, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be tickled – she was horribly ticklish, so ticklish that an unexpected touch could send her leaping into the air, so ticklish that sometimes when she was brushing her long hair a strand of it would brush against her side and make her giggle. Anyway, this was creepy.

Page after page of her own tickle torture, one per page – until she reached the center of the book. Strangely, she noticed first that the binding was made of what looked like the hair from feathers twined tightly together, only afterwards noticing that these pages contained no pictures, but only words.

She still had no idea how to read the script, but even as she thought as much her mouth started to read it without her mind’s permission.

Yilthoom gargalaha kosgill thnaum

What? She had no idea why she was saying it, and hadn’t meant to. She reasoned that it must be her subconscious playing tricks on her.

Gargalahahaha kosgill, thaum belissa carpe

She scolded herself and shut her lips tight.

Belissa carpe meum gargania, gargala fex meum

To her horror, she realized she had lost control of her own mouth, that the words were emerging from her vocal chords and were shaped by her tongue and lips despite her will, that she was powerless even to attempt resistance.

Was this some poison that took control of her nervous system? Was she hallucinating under the influence of some surreptitiously administered drug? Had she been hypnotized?

No. None of these were true, and she knew it. As the unknown words rushed out of her in an unstoppable flood, her proud skepticism fled. She had truly found what she had sought all these years. Or rather, it had found her and now held her immobile in its grip, and all she could do was hope for mercy.

She dropped the book as the words stopped abruptly, but barely had time to gasp before an equally abrupt answer came – her ears rang with thick, metallic clanging and she saw, several feet in front of her, two trapdoors fling open, each roughly a foot square. Before she realized what was happening two shining black manacles at the end of steel chains flew from the doors and fastened themselves round her ankles like huge-jawed fish chomping down on some helpless prey.

She felt the same thing happen to her wrists, and turned to look behind her – sure enough there were two more holes in the floor with two more chains emerging from them.

With a strangely musical grinding noise that seemed to originate from miles below, the chains at her arms started to tighten. Slowly, they pulled her wrists down until they were stretched out behind her at forty five degrees to her body. The manacles did not hurt in the slightest, but the tug of whatever motor wound the chains was irresistible. Inexorably, Jessica was dragged downwards until, giving up any attempt to stay upright, she adopted the only natural posture left to her – on her knees. She knew it was no use to struggle.

The chains did not acknowledge her acquiescence, but kept pulling. First they pulled her arms out to the side and then, when they were stretched as tight as could be, the chains at her ankles began to wind in as well. There was no reason to risk hurting herself in a fight she couldn’t win, so she carefully moved her legs to let them pull her feet slowly towards the trapdoors. All four chains pulled at once, and by the time they stopped Jessica was spreadeagle, flat on the floor and unable to move so much as an inch.

The library was darker than ever. She could hear nothing from outside the shelves, and she guessed that whatever it was she had stumbled on, the whole library was a part of it. The shelf dead in front of her, where she had found The Book of Five Veils, was especially dark – in fact now that she looked the whole center of it was filled with an archway of pure, yet coruscating, blackness.

The figure who emerged from the doorway was unlike anyone Jessica had ever seen. She emerged leg first – and she most definitely was a she. She was tall, though not too tall for a human. Her skin seemed at once to have the beautiful softness of a woman in perfect health and cold shine of gold. She was the most shapely woman Jessica had ever seen, and two narrow strips of black cloth she wore made her look more naked than she would have looked had she really been naked. Her wild, yet perfectly straight hair seemed to be every colour at once and fell around her shoulders like a waterfall. Her lips were contemptuous, yet contented, and her smile gave two impressions – that she was very pleased to see Jessica, and that for Jessica this boded no good whatsoever. Most arresting at all were the eyes – swirling vortexes like nightmare hurricanes with no discernible pupils. Looking into those eyes made Jessica want to grovel.

“Jessica. At last.”

In spite of herself, Jessica found the courage to speak.

“Who are you?”

“You will learn to call Us Your Majesty, Jessica. But that will come later. We are the Queen of Tickle Hell.”

Jessica’s heart thumped inside her head. The tickle part wasn’t that frightening, but the hell part was. She forced her growing panic to subside and focused.

“So what happens now?”

“The same thing that happens to all those who read from The Book of Five Veils. You will face a test, which none have ever passed, and when you fail you will return with Us to be a plaything in Our Queendom Below, for ever and ever, for all eternity with neither rest nor mercy in tickle hell.”

This did not help Jessica’s panic. She became aware that she was close to hyperventilating, and forced herself to breath deeply through her nose.

“What test?”

Suddenly, an hourglass half as tall as the Queen appeared next to the dark gate. The frame was light wood and the sad was deep red.

“These are the rules of The Book of Four Veils, which bind us both. This, the Hourglass of the Infernal Gate, takes exactly six hundred and sixty six minutes to run out. From the drop of the first grain of sand We shall tickle torture you without mercy. Endure until the final grain has fallen and you shall be free – surrender by addressing Us as Your Majesty and you belong to Tickle Hell, forever.”

Okay. Jessica felt relieved. This was going to be grueling. A great test of endurance – terrible even. But not true torture – merely tickling. Anyway, the worse it was the surer she would become that she wouldn’t call the entity Your Majesty – if she would soon feel terrible, how much worse would she feel suffering the same way for all eternity. She would have to be out of her mind to even consider surrender.

Eleven hours and six minutes, and she was the most ticklish person she knew. Still, she knew she would endure.

“I’m ready.”

“We’ll see.”

The Queen snapped her fingers and, in the same moment as the sand in hourglass began to flow, Jessica was naked. The generous curves of her body, which had been held in place by her clothes, wobbled as they fell under the resurgent supremacy of gravitation.

Taking her time, letting Jessica see her own infinitely greater confidence, the Queen of Hell sauntered over to Jessica and, with feline ease, planted a knee on either side of her stomach. Jessica raised her head just a little, wanting to look away from the Queen’s eyes but unable too. She felt her bottom lip tremble, just a little.

The Queen laughed and raised one finger of one hand. She wiggled and flexed the finger in the air and began, ever so slowly, to move it down, and down, and down. Now Jessica’s whole body trembled, and not just a little.

Down and slowly down, waving like a frond of coral as it moved so, so slowly towards Jessica’s rib. At least she’s taking her time was what Jessica told herself – the truth was that waiting for it was almost as bad as she imagined the tickling itself would be. She gritted her teeth, ready to fight with all her will not to laugh, not to encourage this beautiful demon. Closer and closer. The tip of the Queen’s finger so nearly touched her the skin between her lowest two ribs that she felt the pressure of displaced air, and her whole body jolted as it sometimes does in the first stage of sleep. Gritted teeth or not, a sound escaped Jessica’s mouth. She told herself it was not a whimper.

“HEEEEEEE!”

Her mind befuddled by the sensation, Jessica did not immediately realize the sound was her own, her own screech forced through a mouth she had screwed up as tight as possible.

This was horrible. She felt as though her whole body were that one spot and that one spot were whole body, she wanted to jump out of her skin and it felt as though her skin was trying to make her.

The Queen lifted her finger and Jessica gasped in relief.

“Only tickling, only tickling! Not really torture!” Too late, she realized she had spoken aloud.

“Such is the first veil – The Veil of Denial. The veil will fall when you accept the truth of your suffering.”

Jessica felt her face warm, flush with fear.

“No. I already accept it, I know I don’t like it, so there’s nothing to accept. Nothing to deny.”

In answer the Queen put her waving finger back on Jessica’s body and moved it, so so slowly, one by one over the ribs from top to bottom.

“HEEEEEEEE!”

It was all Jessica could do to hold her teeth together. Her lips were parted and downturned – she knew her mouth must be a crescent grimace as ridiculous as it was grotesque. She did not care. If the tickling of one spot with one finger had felt as if that spot were whole body, a tickle that moved felt as if her body were multiplied, and all the ticklishness of all those bodies poured into her alone, for her alone to suffer. For the first time, Jessica tugged hard on the chains. She might as well not have, for all they moved.

There was no sudden reprieve this time – when the Queen’s finger reached the top of Jessica’s ribs she stood it at right angles to Jessica’s skin. Where she had used a waving motion, now she let the simple contact of fingertip on flesh do all the work. That work was simple, and had an easily discernible endpoint the terror of which really was worse than the tickling. What started as a circle around her breast proved to be a spiral into her breast, towards her nipple. The Queen took her time. Jessica knew the Queen wanted to let her feel what was coming. Her mouth still locked, by ferocious effort of will, in its stubborn grimace, Jessica flung her face up, arching her neck to look the way she had came and now wished she had never came, as if by refusing to see what the Queen of Tickle Hell was about to do to her she could undo the torment’s power.

She could not, and she knew it.

In and in, closer and closer. The Queen’s nails were deepest azure, hard but not sharp. The circles traced by that torturing finger drew tighter and tighter, like an inescapable trap around Jessica’s sensitive nipple, a trap that entraps the more, the more its victim struggles. Tighter and tighter. When that circle finally reach the very edge of her nipple, The Queen’s finger let its spiral become an orbit – circle after circle, the slightest millimeter of fingernail encroaching on Jessica’s aereola as the finger traced its outline, as Jessica panted through a closed mouth. Circle after circle, and Jessica already felt that hard, merciless edge on her nipple, felt in her imagination long before the Queen finally, finally ended the game. By the time she did so, Jessica had convinced herself that the real tickle would come as a relief – it did not, and Jessica shrieked before she knew her mouth was open.

“NOOOOOO!”

“And this you call no torture, Jessica, even as you scream.”

“It isn’t! It isn’t! It isn’t!” She kept her eyes as far as possible from her tormentor as she shook her head frantically back and forth, as much to emphasise her words as to escape torment. Both were in vain.

“Then shall We continue?”

Some core of rationality remained in Jessica, and she decided, faster than she had ever calculated before, that however bad this was, the Queen was using only one finger, therefore this was nowhere near as bad as it might later become, therefore she ought to prolong this attack as much as possible.”

“Yes! Yes! Keep doing it!”

The Queen of Tickle Hell laughed, a deep and hollow sound like the mirth of a ravenous cavern.

“You think to trick Us, to forestall the suffering to come. We shall punish you for your presumption in the worst way imaginable – We shall give you what you have asked for, that you may know the futility of resistance.”

Gentle flicks, hard circles and figures of eight and spirals. All with one finger, and all while Jessica screamed.

“NOOOOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! NOT THERE! NOT THERE!”

“As you wish.” The Queen’s finger leapt to the shallow depression just to the side of the breast and just below the underarm. It agitated in circles so tiny they were almost dots.

This was the worst yet. Jessica’s nervous system exploded with ticklish agony as she screamed and laughed and laughed and screamed. The nipple tickling had been unbearable, but if she had the voice to do so she would have begged her tormenter to tickle her nipple for an hour rather than this spot for a minute.

A minute was all she got, and an hour was what it felt like. When the tickling suddenly stopped the terrible ticklish feeling faded only slowly from her body, so that she laughed half a minute while the Queen only watched her, sinister smile spreading across her face.

Jessica looked into the Queen’s swirling, inscrutable eyes.

“Now tell Us the truth, Jessica – is this torture?”

Jessica could no longer lie, even to herself. Her lips barely parted as whispered.

“Yes. It’s torture. This is torture.”

Again the Queen’s deep, ancient laughter.

“The first veil has fallen. Tell Us of your suffering, Jessica.”

“It’s… it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s totally unbearable.”

Jessica had to admit it, but that didn’t mean she was happy about doing so. She began to feel irritation at herself and loathing for her tormenter.

“Tell Us more, Jessica. Tell Us how much you would give to be spared, what you would do for respite.”

This was too much.

“No.”

“No?”

“No. And by the way, fuck you.”

The words were not empty – Jessica was feeling real hatred well up within her, and her nostrils flared in disgust for the abomination she was prostrate before. True, she was being tortured – but she could and would endure.

She didn’t know what response she was expecting, but it wasn’t the one she got. The Queen laughed her deep laugh, with more delight than ever before.

“The Veil of Wrath. Now We shall teach you some manners, Jessica. And We shall enjoy it very, very much.”

The Queen of Hell held up both hands in the posture of a prowling feline and flexed every finger at once. Jessica’s eyes were transfixed on those fingers – she knew all too well what only one had done to her. The Queen lowered her hands in a slow arc towards Jessica’s underarms – how she loved these games! – flexing her fingers all the while, slowly at first but faster and faster as they approached closer and closer.

Watching them move towards her, Jessica was filled with fury and terror. Fury at how terrified she was, and terror at the tickle torture to come.

“Fuck you. Don’t you fucking dare! No!”

As the hands moved closer to her body they seemed, from Jessica’s perspective, to grow further apart.

“I will kill you for this, you bitch. I will come back here with every relic known to man and a priest of every religion and sect and exorcise you.”

The Queens hands were so close now that she couldn’t see both of them at once. She tried not to but couldn’t help herself twisting her neck frantically this way and that, trying to watch both at once. The nearer the hands to her bare, vulnerable underarms, the faster the fingers flexed and faster Jessica’s head moved, the wider her eyes, the greater her hatred of her torturer for making her behave this way and the greater her anger at herself, for behaving this way. Too soon and too slowly, both hands were so close to her underarms that she couldn’t see either, no matter how much she twisted and turned. She began to pant, and the few seconds before the torture began were like a small eternity unto themselves.

When the tickling began Jessica totally lost control of her body. She thrashed around and from side to side, she pulled on the chains with all her might, she exerted all her power, all her fury – if only she could pull her elbows down to defend herself, if only she could move them even an inch. But it availed her nothing, and while her body writhed her voice screamed.

“HAHAHAHA NOHOHOHOHOHOOOO! FUUUHAHAHAHA HAHAHUHAHAHHUCK YOOOOOHOOOHOOOHOHO HAHAHAHA! YOUHOOHOO BIIIIHEEHEEHEEHITCH! AAAAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“Yes, Jessica. Suffer. Suffer in impotent rage.”

Suffer she did. More fingers didn’t just multiply the ticklish agony – they factored it. A hundred times what she had felt before – her underarms were a raging prairie fire and her whole awareness was contained within them. The rest of her body might as well not exist, might as well be one enormous underarm. She wanted to run, to flee, to disappear from existence if necessary, and all that was left of her mind was a tiny kernel in a wildly thrashing body that knew only that it suffered and that it raged.

With no warning whatsoever, the Queen moved to her ribs.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOHOHOHOOOO! GEHEHEHEHET OOHOHOHOHOFF!”

Jessica wasn’t sure if this were more or less torturous than being tickled on her underarms. She had no cognition to spare for such analysis. They were certainly different – on her arms the sensation – after that of being tickled of course – was one of utter vulnerability, as if she were a flat, featureless plain containing neither obstacle nor trap nor defenders to deter a would-be invader, but every inch of which could be made to laugh, to squirm and to suffer. The sensation of rib tickling was – after that of being tickled of course – one of panic, as if something terrible was about to happen, but that the terrible event kept receding, was always one second in the future without ever losing urgency – because despite the nameless terror’s continual retreat, it was always true that it would occur one second later.

“NOHOHOHO! IHIHIHI KIHEHEHEHHEEEEEL YOUHOOHOO!”

“Your wrath waxes with your torment, Jessica. We drink it happily, every last drop. The rage you feel now is nothing to what you would feel, if only you could look into your future and see how pathetic, how wretched you will soon become. How you will beg and plead and whimper.”

“FUHAHAHAHAHUCK YOUHOOHOOHOOHOOOOOO!”

“You will soon beg for something very similar, Jessica.”

Again without warning, the Queen of Tickle Hell changed her method of attack. In a smooth motion like a trapdoor spider pouncing on a helpless grasshopper, she placed her thumbs and forefingers on Jessica’s nipples and the other three fingers of each hand in the hollows near her victim’s breasts.

If either nipple or either hollow were being tickled, it would have felt as though a big red button labeled ALARM, at the seat of her consciousness and the root all her instincts, were being pressed over and over again, but in place of a sirens deafening wail and the violent flash of bright red warning lights would be a sensation purely tactile – that of tickling.

This was all four, all at once, and she felt all the fear of one confined in some facility destroying itself around her but unable to escape, all the blind panic of one facing a doom as certain as it was incomprehensible.

All she could think was –ESCAPE ESCAPE ESCAPE. There was no escape. She hurled her body around as if it were a puppet she had become inexplicably enraged at, arching her back as if she were trying to use her spine to catapult herself to freedom, wrenching with all limbs at once against the immovable power of her chains, straining her neck and shoulders up as she tried with every fibre of every muscle to at least sit up. None of this had any effect, except that her tormenter’s hands temporarily rose with her writhing body.

Suddenly, Jessica was not angry. The tickling was too much for her to do anything but suffer it and wish that she were not.

“PLEEEEHEEEHEEEEEESE! PLEEEEHEEEEHEEEESE! PLEEEHEEHEEHEEHEESE STOOOHOHOHOHOHOP!”

The Queen of Tickle Hell stopped tickling.

“The Veil of Wrath has fallen. Half your defenses gone, Jessica – and how much time has elapsed? Observe the glass.”

The Queen gestured towards the glass, her fingers languid and decadent. Jessica’s gaze followed them as if connected by intangible strings. The sand in the bottom of the hourglass was a tiny fraction of total – five per cent at most. Jessica felt the cold touch of a feeling new to her. So bravely had she lived her life that it took her some moments to identify the feeling – it was despair.

She fought this new sensation even as the Queen reinforced it.

“Do you know how much time has elapsed, Jessica? Twenty minutes, no more.”

Could this be true? Jessica shivered. It had felt like at least an hour. Even had it been an hour, ten more would remain. She wasn’t sure she could stand ten more minutes.

“In eternity this glass might turn a thousand times a thousand times, and it will be as if not one grain of sand has fallen, Jessica. In your hubris, you thought yourself strong. We shall teach you the infinite depths of your weakness, and then you shall relearn the lesson over and over again, each clearer and more detailed than the last, through every moment of an infinite existence.”

The Queen stood. Jessica’s mind raced. She tried not to dwell on the Queen’s words but rather to focus on what she could do to win this contest. She still had her mind, and she believed that by applying it she could yet triumph.

What could she offer? She doubted there was any way to bribe herself out of the situation entirely, but she might be able to bargain for time. She thought of something, but rejected it – she was strictly a men-only woman, and the prospect made her feel queasy.

The Queen was squatting at her feet when she thought of it.

“Don’t you want to know how I found the book?”

“The Veil of Bargaining. We have watched you your whole life, Jessica. We know every detail of every second of your quest. It was We who guided you here. There is nothing you can tell Us that We do not already know.”

The Queen raised a finger and made sure Jessica was watching before she began to undulate it, just as she had before.

“No, stop, look, you don’t need to do this again.”

“We need nothing, Jessica.”

“What do you want? Isn’t there anything you want?”

“Only your suffering.”

This time it was Jessica’s foot that the Queen’s finger inched towards. The Queen’s maddening eyes gazed deep into Jessica’s soul as it approached. They seemed to say I see you, all of you, I know how bad this will be for you in every detail.

Closer and closer. Too soon and too slowly, the finger moved out of Jessica’s view behind her foot. Those few seconds that felt like minutes between being able to see and being forced to feel were a terror of anticipation. The shackles left her enough movement to wiggle her foot, and she did so in flutter like the wings of a hunted butterfly, but it did not help her see. The tickle when it came proceeded in a line down her sole, from just under the middle toe all the way down to the beginning of the heel.

“NOOOOHOHOOOO PLEEEEHEEEHEESE DOHOHOHOHON’T!”

It was like dancing against her will, like being simultaneously blasted off tied to the body of a rocket ship and immovably tethered to the ground. It felt like get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off repeated a thousand times a second.

The Queen repeated the movement, but in reverse.

“NOHOHOHOHOOOOO HAHAHA HEEHEEHAHAHAHA!”

After a pause in which Jessica strived but failed to look at the tormenting finger, though she knew seeing it would help her not at all, The Queen began to tickle her in the same way, up then down then up then down then up then down, but without pause.

“AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA! EEHEEHEEHEEEEE! NOOOHOOOHOOO! WHAAHAAHAAAT DOOHOOHOO YOUUU WAAHAHAHAHANT?”

Jessica wiggle her foot as much as she could. In truth, she wiggled her body as much as she could. She knew it was useless, but the sensation of pure, screaming panic that began in her foot took over her whole nervous system and compelled her to move. The wriggling of her foot only increased the area of her sole over which the tip of the Queen’s finger trailed, a touch as light as a feather and, for that very reason, heavier on her mind than a neutron star. Her wriggling made the tickling worse, yet she could not stop herself.

“AHEEHEEHEEHAHA!”

The stroke of the Queen’s finger was as regular as a metronome, and the tickling sensation, already unbearable, was greatly exacerbated by the constant beat, for it lent the sense of inevitability, and of ceaselessness.

“PLEEEEEEEHEEHEHEEEESE NOHOOHOOO MOHOHOHOOOORE!”

After a minute that felt like ten, there was no more. This was no respite though – the Queen placed her hard, yet dull fingernail carefully in the crook where Jessica’s little toe joined her foot, and flexed.

If the sole had been agony, there was no word for this. All Jessica’s plans, whether to negotiate or to just plain beg, were driven from her mind. For the next minute she had no words – only tortured laughter.

When the minute was up language came flooding back into her mind and out of her mouth as if somewhere within her a dam had broken, unleashing a deluge she could direct but not halt.

“Please not there, oh please not the toes, please tickle me somewhere else, please not the toes, please, I’ll do anything, please not there any more, I can’t take it, please don’t tickle my toes again.”

The Queen of Tickle Hell smiled.

“Anything, Jessica? Then address Us by Our proper title, and come with me to a place where you shall be tickled forever, however and wherever your torturers please, and you shall have no respite.”

Jessica said and did nothing.

“Well then Jessica. That was one toe – you have yet nine more.”

“Please don’t please don’t please don’t plEEEHEEEHEEEAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

There followed nine minutes in which the only sound Jessica made was screamed laughter and the only thing she was conscious of was suffering. When it ended Jessica knew, as clearly as if it were printed on the ceiling, that if she felt like that for long enough she would sooner or later do the Queen’s bidding, and be doomed. Not by choice, but simply that the suffering she would undergo would so confuse her that the words ‘Your Majesty’ would slip out among the flotsam and jetsam of abject babbling. Her only weapon, her only shield was her rational mind, and it was breaking under the strain of perceiving sensations too ticklish to compute.

It was obvious that her pride had no place here.

“You like girls, right? You must like girls, I can tell. You like girls, so let me give you head. I can do it so well, I swear, I promise. Let me give you head, don’t even untie me just let me give you head for a break and don’t tickle me while I do it I’ll do it so well you’ll feel so good I swear.”

“We do feel good, Jessica. Our pleasure is the laughter and the begging and the tears of a ticklish victim, Our climax the ever growing despair in their eyes as they laugh and weep throughout Our domain.”

The Queen ever so gently traced her finger down the top of Jessica’s foot and up her leg, which provoked fits of giggles. As the finger moved up and up towards Jessica’s knees she mumbled incoherently of how much better she would be and how skilled her tongue was. When it reached the top of her shin she bit her lip, realizing with a start that the Queen had told her that she would say exactly this. What else might her torturer be right about? She dreaded to find out.

Without warning, the Queen attacked Jessica’s knee with her entire hand. Jessica squealed and writhed, trying and failing to bend her knees. On any other day, this would have been sheer torture. Compared to her ribs, her underarms, her nipples, her soles and compared above all to her toes the hollows by her breasts, this was a break.

Unfortunately, the Queen soon realized this, and continued the teasing advance of her solitary finger up Jessica’s thigh.

The giggling that followed was like that provoked by the tickling of her lower leg, but more intense, more explosive. The higher the finger, the more violent the giggles.

When the finger was almost, but not quite, at the join between thigh and torso, the Queen let it linger there, flexing and teasing. She brought down her other finger to do the same on the opposite thigh.

“HEEHEEHEEHEEHEE!”

It did not feel as bad as other spots, not in itself. What did feel bad was the vague foreboding – the Queen was grinning lavishly, as if she had a plan, as if she knew something which Jessica did not know.

Like closing pincers, she brought her thumbs down to touch the lower thigh. At the same time, she let her middle fingers join the index and, rather than the teasing undulation with which she had tickle tortured Jessica’s thighs up to now, she hardened them into hooks. Then, with each set of thumb and fingers holding the taught tendons of Jessica’s thighs between them, she squeezed.

This was a violation of her senses such as Jessica had never experienced. It felt as though the ticklish agony were coming from inside her thighs. It was a ticklishness that reached beyond skin and nerves into muscle and done. It was as though her own body were attacking her – indeed, the Queen had changed Jessica’s body from a friend to an enemy, had induced an instinct that had protected untold millions of Jessica’s ancestors from crawling things in the dark into a liability, a traitor – in short, a torment.

“OH GOOOHOHOHOHOOOD NOOHOOHOOOO HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!”

Jessica would have gladly submitted, if doing so would have ended such torture. The only thing that stopped her was the knowledge that submission was guaranteed to make her situation worse, not better.

While her voice screamed and laughed and begged and her mind panicked and suffered and longed for mercy, Jessica’s body thrummed and jerked with futile spasms as she tried to bring her legs together. The effort made her muscles stand out, which both pushed the receptor cells of her nervous system closer to the surface and allowed the Queen’s digits to dig deeper, all of which made the tickling even worse – but she could no more refrain from doing it than she could refrain from laughing or from hating what she was going through.

The torture of her thighs by her thighs was excruciating, and felt excruciatingly long, but when it ended the bottom of the hourglass looked scarcely fuller than last time she had looked.

“I can bring you others.”

She didn’t know where the idea had come from, and it made her burn with shame. No amount of shame would stop her trying anything that might save herself.

“Please. If you let me go I’ll lead other people to your book. Let me go and you’ll get five back, or ten, however many you want, just please please please let me go and I’ll bring you anyone you want.”

She meant it.

“Anyone We want? We want you, Jessica. This is your destiny.”

“Please have mercy. I’ll be your servant in this world if you have mercy. I’ll be your slave and your agent if you let me go.”

“We have no mercy to give you, Jessica, and the only service We want from you is already Ours to take. You shall learn that it is not for you to negotiate with Us – We shall show you the kind of bargain the Queen of Tickle Hell offers her slave.”

The Queen roamed over Jessica’s body, making her victim yelp with split-second tickle attacks as she spoke, to emphasize her words.

“We shall tickle your underarms, or We shall tickle your toes, and you shall choose which.”

“Stalling for time, but also voicing a real suspicion, Jessica said “I think you’ll tickle whichever I don’t say.”

“We have no need to deceive you, Jessica. You are in Our power. If you fail to choose, We shall tickle your thighs.”

Jessica’s whole body shuddered violently. Of the three, getting her thighs tickled was by far the worst option, not that the other two weren’t terrible. The satisfaction of defying the Queen would be meager compensation for the tickle torture she would undergo.

Between her underarms and her toes, it was easy to choose. That didn’t make the words any easier to say. Jessica mumbled intelligibly as she tried to get them out.

“Speak clearly, Jessica, or you fail to choose.”

“Tickle my underarms.”

“Your acquiescence pleases Us, Jessica, but that is no way to address Royalty. If you truly prefer Us to tickle your underarms, you must beg for the privilege.”

“What?”

“Insolence and foolishness? Very well.”

Without another word, the Queen gave her all ten fingers on all ten toes.

“PLEEEHEEHEEEHEHHEEEEESE! AHAHAHAHAHAAAA! AHAHAHA! PLEEHEEHEEESE NOHOHOT MY TOEHOHOES! PLEEHEESE NOHOHO!”

Jessica knew what the Queen wanted to hear.

“PLEEHEEHEEESE TIHIHIHIHICKLE MY UNDERARMS!”

“Too late, Jessica.”

“PLEEEEEEESE TICKLE MY UNDERARMS! I’LL DOOHOOHOO ANYTHING!”

She really would have. But the Queen never took her up on her offer, and for the next twenty minutes Jessica jerked and screamed and begged her torturer, not for mercy, but merely for a somewhat less bad torture. Several minutes in, Jessica met her second enemy. Her first enemy was simply the torturous tickling, the second was exhaustion. All her bucking and writhing and pulling and tugging had not moved her chains a millimeter, but they had worn her body down to the nub. Strangely, she was not dehydrated, though she knew she should have bee. But she no longer had the energy to try to escape, or to move at all, and if she were not being tickled she would have lain totally immobile. However, she was being tickled, which meant the torment of being at the same moment unable to move and forced to move. The greater her fatigue the worse it was to have to move, the worse it was to have to move the more she hated to be tickled, the more she hated to be tickled the more ticklish she became, the more ticklish she became the more she writhed and squirmed, and the more she writhed and squirmed the greater her fatigue.

Twenty minutes later, Jessica collapsed into a panting wreck.

“Will you now choose wisely, Jessica, or shall We do that again?”

“Please tickle my underarms.” Jessica could have counted the number of things she wanted to happen less on the fingers of one hand – but one of those things was the only alternative. “Please tickle my underarms, I beg you. I beg you to tickle my underarms, please please please tickle my underarms. Please, I’ll be so grateful if you tickle my underarms.” There would be time to hate herself for saying it later – she hoped.

The Queen fulfilled her request and, while Jessica bucked and jived and laughed and shrieked and suffered, she knew that it was not quite as bad it could be. So when the Queen finally stopped and said “Now thank Us for Our surpassing generosity” Jessica didn’t even think of hesitating.

“Thank you. Thank you so much for tickling my underarms.”

An intuition told her that adding the reason – ‘instead of my toes’ – would be a bad idea. Of course, this left her the plain meaning of the words she had spoken – the abject spectacle of the tortured thanking the torturer for being the torturer.

“Good. Now, I shall introduce you to some of the many further refinements of tickle torture which await you in Our realm below.”

The Queen snapped her fingers, and suddenly was holding a vial of murky, blue glass.

In a movement both delicate and frivolous, as if she were sipping champagne at some high society frolic, the Queen poured a thin stream of clear, slightly viscous liquid into the space between Jessica’s breasts.

The stuff was cold, but not very cold, and clammy, but not very clammy. Jessica guessed it was some kind of oil, but what the purpose of pouring it on her might be she could not guess.

The Queen rested the vial against a bookshelf and, in a manner the very eroticism of which was designed to disturb and confuse her victim, massaged the oil into Jessica’s breasts, kneading and squeezing and ever so gently pulling. Though Jessica was repulsed by the idea of another woman as a sexual object, she felt her body responding to the attention. She could resist the feeling better than she could tickling – but even so, only so much. She hated it, but it was a lot better than tickling.

No sooner had she thought it than hard nails were on her nipples, nails that tickled so much that she wished they were sharp so that she could feel pain instead of this unbearable tickling. The oil had not exactly made her nipple more ticklish – it had made tickling more ticklish. It was as if the tickling fingers never quite made contact with her, were always some infinitesimal distance from her skin and never actually touched it. How this could make the tickling feel worse was a mystery Jessica had no attention left to dwell on.

“EEEHEEHEEHEEHAHAHAHA!”

Beneath those torturing, inescapable fingers Jessica’s torso wriggled and writhed, trying to turn to the side, trying to sink into the floor, trying anything that might let her retreat a fraction of a millimeter and win a fraction of a second’s rest. She would have nothing of the kind – all her struggling produced little more effect than to make her breasts wobble from side to side, and the Queen’s hands followed them so easily that Jessica’s nipples had no escape, not even for a nanosecond. Worse, to the movement of finger against nipple was now added the movement of nipple against finger so that the tickling was yet more torturous. As the tickling became yet more torturous, Jessica’s body writhed more. As she writhed more, her breasts moved more. As her breasts moved more, the tickling on her nipples was more unbearable.

When the Queen finished with her nipples, all Jessica had left by way of bargaining was begging – an offer of the emotion of gratitude in lieu of more tangible payment. She knew even as she started that the Queen of Tickle Hell had no more use for gratitude than she had for joy – Jessica’s joy that is – but she couldn’t stop herself. Under the unrelenting assault on her mind and senses, begging had become a kind of natural reflex, something she did after and before tickling in the same was as she laughed during.

“Please stop, please don’t tickle me any more, I can’t take it. It’s torture, I can’t stand it. Please let me go, please no more tickling, please please please please please don’t tickle me again.”

“You are learning, but your lesson is not finished. Thank Us for tickling you.”

“Thank you for tickling me. Thank you so much.”

“Tell Us you love to be tickle tortured.”

“I love to be tickle tortured.”

To all appearances, Jessica was broken. But the truth was, she was still attempting to bargain – to her mind, she was groveling as payment, not for any actuality, but for the possibility of release or at least rest. Her compliance, total though it was, was still an attempt to influence the Queen’s behavior.

“Now beg Us to defeat you. Beg Us to break you with tickle torture so utterly that you address Us by Our proper title. Beg Us to take you down to Tickle Hell, to be with Us forever.”

Even in her miserable state, Jessica blanched at this. She obeyed, but something in her resisted the words, as if uttering them would pronounce an irrevocable verdict.

“P… please defeat me. Please t… tickle torture me until I say what you want me to say. Please b… break me completely. Please d… destroy me with tickling. Please take me away to t… t… t… Tickle Hell, f… forever.”

By the time she stopped speaking, Jessica was starting to sniffle, her mouth to jerk downwards. She was on the edge of tears, and the knowledge that this was so pushed her yet closer to it.

“Good. Your creativity in self-abasement pleases Us, for We desire the tickle enslavement, not only of your body and spirit, but also of your mind. Accordingly, tell Us now how We shall break you. Tell us where We should tickle you, to render you utterly desolate.”

And with that, Jessica burst into tears – not merely crying, but bawling, salt water running over her face and mouth quavering as she looked into the pitiless eyes of her torturer. Sorrow distorted her voice into low quaver.

“No, please don’t make me. Please don’t make me say it. I don’t want to say it. Please don’t make me.”

“The Veil of Bargaining has fallen. There remains only The Veil of Woe. Here is the measure of your defeat, Jessica – I will not tickle you until you beg me to. I swear it. I will stand before you until the hourglass runs empty if you only refrain from obeying me. Now, Jessica, with full freedom and full knowledge that you will suffer greatly, tell me where I should tickle you.”

“Please please please don’t make me, don’t make me say it, I can’t stand to say it, please don’t make me, I beg you. I’m begging you for mercy. Please have mercy, please have mercy, please please please have mercy.”

“Say it.”

“Please don’t make me. Have mercy, I’m begging you.”

“Where shall I tickle you?”

“Please don’t.”

“Where?”

“Thighs.”

“True. Now beg Us to tickle them.”

“Please don’t make me say it.”

“Beg Us.”

“I can’t say it, please don’t make me.”

“Beg.”

“Please tickle my thighs.”

“Beg more. Beg harder. Beg Us to break your spirit, beg Us to torture you. Beg creatively.”

“Please don’t make me.”

“Obey Us.”

“Please tickle my thighs please torture me please break my spirit please make me scream and cry and beg for mercy please make me tell you how much I love it please make me beg please humble me please tickle me so I can’t stand it please tickle me more than I can bear please never stop tickling me please tickle torture me to insanity please tickle torture me forever please tickle torture my thighs”

The Queen did.

Jessica’s voice was a cacophony – screaming hysterical laughter, cries of terror, sobs of wrenching anguish and half-formed attempts to beg for mercy all competing for one throat. Even over such noise, she heard the Queen’s voice clearly.

“The Veil of Woe falls when you address Us as Your Majesty. Then you come with Us to Tickle Hell.”

The torture of Jessica’s thighs went on for a long, long time. It must have been at least an hour – or was it only five minutes. Jessica could no longer tell. Eventually the Queen tickled her in all her other spots as well, for how long she didn’t know. Though none were as torturous as her thighs, the slight relief this afforded her was undercut by the fact that it served to accentuate the severity of that supreme torture, and to remind her that sooner or later she would suffer it again.

When the ordeal ended, Jessica lay back and sobbed with all her being. About a quarter of the sand had fallen.

“You think the thighs are your greatest weakness. But We will show you that there is something worse.”

The Queen of Tickle Hell retrieved her vial of oil and poured its contents, one by exacting one, over Jessica’s toes. The fluid ran over and down and between them, then down Jessica’s soles, and the Queen poured so much that by the end she was holding the vial upside down and shaking out the last few drops. Jessica’s feet were soaked in the stuff, every square millimeter of skin moist and slippery.

“Observe now a tiny frippery of an example of Our true power.”

Before Jessica’s terrified eyes, the Queen’s fingernails lengthened into talon-like protuberances, each six inches long and the width of a knitting needle. She stared in horror, and the low light did not stop Jessica’s fear-dilated pupils from making out that they were covered in rows of tiny, hemispherical nubs. The Queen’s thumbnails grew instead into a squat branching structure, each with ten upturned limbs that ending in little balls. Watching it grow was like viewing in slow motion the life of some bizarre fungus, and the structure itself looked more flexible than a fingernail should be.

The Queen carefully placed one needle between each of Jessica’s toes, and just that was enough to set Jessica howling. When the mutated thumbnails contacted her soles that was worse, though they weren’t even moving yet.

Then they were. Slowly at first but gaining speed, the Queen threaded her needle-nails back and forth between Jessica’s wriggling, agonized toes as she scrubbed her victims soles with her brush-thumbs. For all that Jessica waved her feet, it only made the tickling worse. Trying to splice her toes apart made the bottom of the spaces between them more ticklish, but squeezing them together meant that more of her skin was being tickled. She tried to use her toes to grab the needles and hold them still, but slick with oil as her feet were, that was doomed to failure and felt worst of all.

Her laughter was barely recognizable as such. It was more like a fitful scream.

Jessica no longer questioned anything she saw, so she did not wonder if she had lost her mind when she saw, sprouting from the Queen’s shoulders, another pair of arms, then another, then another.

The first pair moved to her thighs, but did not touch them. The second moved to her still-oiled nipples, but did not touch them. The third moved to the hollows near her breasts, but did not touch them.

The Queen stopped moving the needles between her toes and looked at Jessica sardonically – the tickle torture was making her victim wiggle her feet back and forth so much as to tickle torture herself, rubbing her own sensitive flesh along the cruel nubs of the needles. Finally she removed them, but let her fingers hover over Jessica’s feet.

“Soon, very soon. You shall call Us Your Majesty.”

The Queen opened her mouth and a long, dry tongue snaked out. Longer and longer it grew, til it was longer than one of her arms. Point first, she moved it to Jessica’s underarm.

For several seconds, the Queen was as perfectly still as if time had been frozen, while Jessica wept and shuddered.

Then the final tickling began, and Jessica knew as soon it started that she was finished. She knew that saying the words she would say would only make the very thing that was forcing her to say them infinitely worse – but that knowledge was a product was a product of her reason, and she was simply in too much ticklish agony to see value in anything so abstract. It was terrible, the worst thing in the world – and when the tickling, which lasted for hours and hours and felt like centuries, stopped, she knew she was damning herself to an eternity of worse. Between rivers of tears which somehow never dried and through lips shuddering with suffering, she said the words that sealed her fate.

“Your Majesty… Your Majesty.”

Her monstrous new mistress grinned with demonic joy, and pointed at the hourglass. Just as Jessica’s gaze fell on it, the last grain of sand fell.

“You did well, Jessica. So well. Had you waited even a moment longer, you would have been free. Now you shall come with Us to Tickle Hell, where your torture will never end, and We will remind you of this moment and again and again and again.”

The chains released her and the Queen bound her at the wrists with a rope of black silk conjured from nowhere. She stood and, meek and unresisting, followed Her Majesty into the swirling void through which she had come, never to walk upon this Earth again.

Jessica had lived her whole life in pursuit of forbidden knowledge. She knew now, too late, why it was forbidden. Until that day, the notion of tickle torture would have struck her as absurd – now she knew better, and she would know it with every nerve of her ticklish body and every frantic thought of her tormented mind, for ever.

Who else would be lured to their doom by the mysterious siren of The Book of Four Veils? Would anyone ever meet its test and pass?

Jessica would never know. She would never again know anything but merciless tickle torture – tickle torture that was never to end but soon to begin.

To Be Continued…

player 0
05-16-2015, 09:58 AM
Such an amazing story, you'll forgive me if i say its very similar to Hellraiser which i've been reading lately.

Anyway i voted to continue following this stories path since i enjoy the tactile and interpersonal tickling in this than your other story.

DEV
05-16-2015, 05:59 PM
A very nice tale with some great interaction between victim and tormentor and a nice set up as well. Hard to say what to go for as your stories have all been great reads so far, although I'm curious to see where you can take this one from here, as well as what Tickle Hell's actually like. A great story all in all.