Janet (le Fey)
Sam has a new

There are fairies at the bottom of our
              astrophysics lab!


Chapter 16



It was a magnificent cavern.  Stalactites and stalagmites dripped from the ceiling and rose from the floor, with several merging to form elaborate columns.  Groups of giant (to a fairy) mineral crystals sprouted at various locations, some like glittering coral heads and some like bundles of clear spear points.  During the day, the polished mirrors and crystal prisms of cleverly engineered light-tunnels, bored by the Felger-trolls, brought shafts of sunlight into the space and cast kaleidoscopic rainbows across the walls and floor.  At night, the light came from cauldrons of fire, casting flickering shadows and causing the crystals to sparkle and glow.

In addition, sections of the floor had been cleared and smoothed to accommodate the heaps of cushions and low tables required for lounging, dining, and love-making.  All had unobstructed views of a central area that would serve both as a dance floor and a stage for entertainments (such as exhibitions of the Dark Pleasures).  Against one especially picturesque wall there was a raised area for the entertainment of Honored Guests (who might or might not be captives), and centered along its arc of comfortable cushions and low tables was a doubly raised dais.  On that dais was a chair, and before that chair stood a party of Darklings.

The First Darkling was completing her inspection of the cavern, resplendant in her black leather thigh-boots, breast and midriff-baring jacket, and silver collar.  She was flanked by two Darkling guards armed with black quarterstaffs, wearing black loincloths and bandeaus, and body-harnesses of black rope.  The fourth and final member of the group was the Darkling who had "volunteered" to oversee the crafting of the Hall of Darkness.  She was naked, and elaborate bonds of black rope pinned her arms to her torso and lashed her wrists behind her back, under her wings.  A rope leash was tied around her throat, and its far end was held by one of the guards.  The other guard had a black ball-gag tucked in her harness, ready to silence the captive if so ordered by the Dark Leader.

Her back to the wall and the others, the First Darkling took a final sweeping look at the vista of the main cavern, then turned.  "Adequate," she said, and the captive sighed in relief.  The First Darkling stepped closer to the chair, the first draft of the Dark Throne of the Queen.  It was entirely of blackened steel, polished to a mirror-bright, ebony finish.  "Chair" was, perhaps, a generous descriptor.  "Frame" or "armature" would have served equally well.  The gleaming, black construction had legs, arms, a back, and a headrest, positioned to support a hypothetical user in the traditional knees bent and back straight position, but "support" was also a poor choice of words.  The Throne's steel rods and bars served as attachment points, and little else.  Dozens of leather straps dangled on all sides, and it was they that would truly provide support.

"The back is split down the middle," the First Darkling noted, "as if to accommodate a pair of wings.  The Queen has no wings."

"That feature allows the Throne to be used to entertain other captives, my First," the captive overseer explained, "such as any Lightlings that might have strayed into our midst.  It also allowed us to test the placement of the straps, to determine which would require sliding attachment-points and which could be permanently afixed.  As such, it may be used to 'honor' any Daughter of the Machine, be they Lightling, Hailey, Keller, or Cadman."

"Or Darkling," the First Darkling added, then pointed to the floor of the dais.  "And the pits?"

"They are there, First-hatched," the overseer answered, and nodded to the back wall.  "The wheels are there, to open the stone covers."

The First nodded to the guard not holding the overseer's leash and she stepped to the wall.  "They are recessed into the floor, my First," she said, then knelt and began turning the first of three hand-sized, spoked wheels.

"The mechanism is aided by counterweights and operates quickly," the overseer explained.

Confirming her words, a stone slab slid back with an oily hiss, revealing a deep but narrow pit under the Throne's left foot.  Its width and breadth was barely adequate to accommodate a standing fairy.  The guard turned the second and third wheels, and two more slabs retracted, revealing pits under the Throne's seat and right leg.  The center pit was not quite as deep as the other two.

"There is ventilation, of course," the overseer said, "so the occupants can breathe when the covers are closed.  They may wait in readiness, unseen, to serve their Queen when required."

"It wouldn't do to load the pits and forget one had done so," the First purred.  "Imagine the smell after a few days."

The Darklings laughed.  This was Dark humor, of course, and not a serious comment.  The Law of the Machine of Life forbid the spilling of blood or the abuse-onto-death of any slave or prisoner.  Nearly as important, to do so would be a ridiculous waste of a perfectly good plaything.

The First made another gesture, and the guard closed all three slabs.  "I am pleased," the First Darkling announced, and the overseer sighed in relief, again.  "You shall be rewarded," the First continued, "by being Guest of Honor at the Dark Hall's first Great Feast."

"My First," the overseer sighed, and bowed.  "I shall order the trolls to begin preparations."

"That shall be done by another," the First responded, then focused on the guards.  "Place her on The Throne."

"What?" the overseer gasped in surprise.  "No!" she whined, but didn't struggle as the guards lifted and positioned her body, then began buckling the Throne's innumerable straps.  "You said you were pleased!"

The First Darkling's smile was truly evil.  "So I did," she confirmed, "and so I am.  Accept your reward with good grace.  If I had been dis-pleased, tonight you would have danced under the lash as an entertaining diversion, rather than grace our presence from The Queen's Throne."

The installation of the overseer continued, and soon the task was accomplished.  The pale, raven-haired fairy was held in the Throne's embrace.  Its black leather straps held her legs widely apart, pinned her arms to the armrests, and trapped her torso against the twin supports of the back.  The leather bands dimpled the flesh of her ankles, above and below her knees, her thighs, waist, above and below her pale breasts, her wrists, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, and throat.  A ring-gag held her mouth open, and finally, a narrow band crossed her forehead, further pinning her head against the headrest.  Most of her naked body simply floated in the air, supported only by the straps.  Her crotch was fully exposed, and all she could do was wiggle her toes, flutter her fingers, and roll her eyes—that, and flutter her wings.  Her wings were more-or-less (and somewhat ironically) completely free, not that they could do her any good, of course, bound as she was.  The semi-transparent, rainbow wings quivered behind the Throne, evidence of her terror (or arousal).

The First Darkling examined every detail of her Dark Sister's helplessness.  "Exquisite," she whispered under her breath, then reached out and gently caressed the captive's left breast.  "Eventually, we shall craft decorative elements to enhance the splendor of the Throne, but barring some spectacular future idea that begs for a redesign... this shall be its core.  And someday—"  She seized the overseer's nipple and gave it a firm, tight squeeze.  "The Queen herself shall be where you are now, her tan skin bulging between the straps, her desperate blue eyes begging for release, just as your violet eyes beg me now."  She released her hold and watched the blood return to the pale, pink nub.  She turned to a guard.  "A cloth," she ordered.

The guard handed the First Darkling a folded scarf of black silk.  All three, the guards and the captive overseer, watched as their senior Dark Sister unfolded the cloth and rubbed it against her fully exposed crotch.  Her eyes locked with the prisoner, she continued to use the soft silk to caress her labia with slow, deep, languid strokes.  Her pace quickened (as did the breathing of all present)—and finally—after perhaps two minutes of this wanton, erotic stimulation—the First Darkling whined through clenched teeth—and she came.

She continued stroking her pussy for a few more seconds, then held the cloth for all to see.  The rumpled wad shone with her musk.  "A further token of my approval," the First Darkling purred, and stuffed the cloth into the overseer's mouth, carefully tamping the black silk through the ring until the wide-eyed prisoner's cheeks bulged.  She used two fingers to hold the cloth in place, and nodded to one of the guards.

The guard stretched a leather muzzle across the overseer's lower face as the First Darkling removed her hand.  It cupped the captive's chin and covered her lower face from ear to pointed ear.  After its strap was buckled tight behind the headrest, the overseer's pink cheeks bulged above the muzzle's smooth, chamois-thin embrace.

"Exquisite," the First Darkling sighed, smiling at the weakly struggling prisoner.  She turned to the guards and her smile broadened.  "I know what will make our inaugural feast truly memorable.  Organize a large hunting party, with catch-poles and a plenitude of rope.  We shall find ourselves a Lightling or two, foraging in the forest, and 'invite' them to join us."

"As part of our celebration," one of the guards agreed.

"And as part of the entertainment," the other added.

"Exactly," the First Darkling purred, then turned and flew away.

The guards and the captive on the Throne watched their senior Dark Sister flutter through the shafts of rainbow light to the far side of the cavern, then disappear into one of the many tunnels of the vast labyrinth winding under the Dark Mountain.

"Perhaps we'll finally catch ourselves a Cadman," one of the guards remarked.  "They seem to never leave the Temple." 

"Except in large, well-armed squads, to patrol the Temple Forest," the other guard nodded.  "It would be nice to add a few Cadman's to the slave staff... to complete the collection."

"Variety is the spice of life," the other agreed.

The guards shrugged, hefted their quarterstaffs, and flew away, crossing the cavern and fluttering down a different tunnel than that taken by their senior Sister.

The captive overseer shivered in her incredible bonds as she watched them depart... then sighed through her gag.  The musk of the First Darkling teased her taste buds, and her pussy felt like it was flushed, swollen, and wet (which it was)... but she was hardly in a position to do anything about it.  She'd been made helpless, as helpless as the Queen, herself, would be, when she was captured and made their Dark Prize!  And then she'd been abandoned... and was alone.

It would be many hours until the sunlight faded, the cauldrons were lit, and her Sisters began to gather for the Feast.  Haileys, Kellers, and Felger-trolls would flutter, scurry, and shamble about the cavern, of course, making the required preparations; but she knew that none of the slaves would dare touch her... no matter how she begged with her eyes... or mewled and whined through her gag... or beckoned with her fluttering fingers.

Yes, it would be many hours.

There are fairies at the bottom of our astrophysics lab
Chapter 16

Sam and Janet had a sunrise debate on whether or not to try spearing some fish for breakfast.  The dragon could arrive at any time for the promised ride out of the canyon.  In any case, the issue became moot when Goldeneye swooped down out of the dawn sky and dropped a dead animal on the beach.

"Eat!" the dragon ordered, grabbed the Queen's Star from where it had been abandoned, leaning against the canyon wall near the cave, and flew up and out of the canyon.  "We leave at noon!" she growled as she vanished over the rim.

"Well, so much for an early start," Sam muttered, then turned to stare at the dragon's gift.  It looked like it might be another giant "rat", like the beast Goldeneye had messily consumed the day she'd brought her kidnap victims to the canyon; however, this specimen was quite a bit smaller.  To Sam and the fairies it was on the scale of a very large cat or an average-sized dog.  It had brown fur, an elongated snout with a mouthful of yellow, rodent teeth, and a long, pink, naked tail.  It was very dead, probably from a snapped neck, and was leaking dark blood into the water from its open mouth.  "Roasted rat for breakfast," Sam shuddered.  It wasn't clear if this was an objection or a suggestion.

"Roasted 'Mountain-Pig'," Janet corrected with a grin, and pointed to the knife on Sam's hip.  "You want me to do the honors?"

"No," Sam sighed.  "I'll do it."  She hefted the carcass onto her shoulder and started walking away from the cave.

"I'll build up the fire!" Janet called after her.

"And I'll watch!" Markie added.  The little blonde fey was seated on the flat rock, her ankles and wrists lashed together with cord and linked together with a couple of fairy-feet of slack.  She was naked, while Sam and Janet were clothed in silk loincloths.  The matching bandeaus, which had been used to bind and gag Markie during the night, had been rinsed in the lake and were drying on the rocks.

Janet turned to grin at her captive fellow fey.  "As punishment for general mischief," she teased, "I ought to untie you and make you do all the work."

"Well, I suppose you could," Markie responded, batting her eyes.  Her lips were curled in a saucy smirk.  "But then, I'd have to bind you in my place, wouldn't I?  Dragon's orders."

"Flirt," Janet accused, shaking her head.  She headed for the firewood stacked in the back of the cave.

There are fairies at the bottom of our astrophysics lab
Chapter 16

Breakfast turned into a leisurely brunch.  Sam skinned and dressed the "Mountain Pig", tossing the head, feet, hide and entrails as far into the lake as she could.  If they hadn't been about to leave the canyon, she wouldn't have wasted all that meat (brains, organs, tripe, etc.).  In any case, their options were severly limited with respect to the technology available for cooking such things.  She spitted the carcass, then washed the blood from her arms and hands, scrubbing her skin with wet sand.  With the spit over her right shoulder, she returned to camp.

Janet was sitting by the fire, smiling and watching her approach.

"What?" Sam demanded.

"I can't get enough of that whole jungle girl thing you've got goin' there," Janet answered.

"Stop," Sam chuckled.

"I'm serious," Janet continued.  "The loincloth, the knife dangling on your hip, fresh meat on a stick over your shoulder.  You rock, girl!"

"Stop!" Sam reiterated, still laughing.

"Tan skin, rippling muscles, perfect physique," Janet purred.  "A hint of a sunburn on your cheeks... or are you blushing?"

"The Queen is very beautiful," Markie agreed.

"A pity we're leaving," Janet purred.  "I could ask the dragon to bring us more Mountain Pigs.  We could scrape and dry the hides and make you an entire wardrobe of fur bikinis."

"This is your final warning," Sam chuckled.  "Keep it up and you'll get a serious spanking."

"Oh, me too!" Markie cried, giggling and squirming with enthusiasm.  Her smile faded.  "But not too hard, please.  Not Darkling hard."

Sam and Janet laughed as they positioned the carcass over the fire on the forked sticks Janet had driven into the sand on either side of the pit.

"Do we need all this?" Janet asked.  "It's going to take forever to roast the whole thing."

"We'll cut strips and roast them on skewers as we turn the spit," Sam said.  "They'll cook much faster, and whenever this is ready it'll be lunch and a snack for the dragon."

"Sounds good," Janet said, grinning at her "jungle girl" companion.

There are fairies at the bottom of our astrophysics lab
Chapter 16

True to her word, Goldeneye reappeared at noon.  She had been busy, in a way that revealed a surprising dexterity for her talon-tipped fingers.  Either that, of she had changed into Freya up in the forest.  In any case, using the Queen's star as a horizontal base, she had constructed an airy, flat-bottomed basket.  A cross-hatching of green, flexible poles had been woven through the arms of the Star to form the floor, and a stout pair of curved branches had been lashed as uprights to the hoop's outer rim, using green vines.  They met at the top and formed a convenient (for a dragon) handle.  The "basket" was easily large enough to hold Sam and the two fairies.  The dragon was also carrying several coiled fairy-meters of green vines that had been stripped of their leaves.

"Our carriage awaits," Janet said, quietly.

"Care for a bite of roasted, uh, whatever it is?" Sam asked, and pointed to what was left of the Mountain Pig.

"Thank you!" Goldeneye growled, deftly lifted the spit from the fire pit, and consumed it in a single bite, wood and all.  "Bind the fairies hand and foot with cord," she ordered.

"Why?" Sam demanded.

"I don't want you three shifting around and shaking the basket!" Goldeneye replied.

"It's okay," Janet said, retrieving their coils of cord.  She sat beside Markie and began binding her own ankles together.

"We don't mind at all," Markie giggled.  The little blonde seemed to have lost most of her fear of the dragon, but she was still a little nervous in the presence of the giant, reptilian beast.

"Don't mind?" Sam grinned.  "You'd pout if I you weren't gonna be tied up for the trip."  She knelt and bound Janet's wrists together.

Janet smiled as she watched Sam's strong, tan fingers cinch the cord and tie a square-knot.  "Captured by a jungle girl," she whispered.  "Woe is me!"

Sam blushed and Markie giggled.  Shaking her head, Sam stood and faced the looming dragon.  "What now?  Hey!"

Goldeneye had reached down and snatched Markie from the rock.

"Eeeeee!" the blonde fey screamed, as the dragon took a long coil of vine and began wrapping it around her naked body.

"What are you doing?" Sam demanded.

"Making her safe!" the dragon rumbled.

Markie was now wrapped in coils of green vine from head to toe.  The added bondage wasn't especially tight or well-tied, but, as she was already bound hand and foot with thin cord, she'd never be able to free herself.  Goldeneye placed her inside the basket, standing upright and slightly to the right of the basket floor's center.  She then used additional vines to lash her feet to the floor and to anchor her upper body between the two uprights.

"I guess I'm next," Janet noted, as Goldeneye's giant hand reached for her.

"You don't need to do this!" Sam shouted.  "It's unnecessary!"

Goldeneye ignored Sam's objections as she carefully wrapped Janet and installed her in the basket, lashing her to the floor and between the uprights a little more than two fairy-feet to the left of Markie.

Sam sighed as she retrieved the bandeaus that had, by this time, long since dried.  She tied one across her breasts, knotting it behind her back, then looped the second around her throat, like a scarf.  "Hey!  No!"

Goldeneye had grabbed her, as well, and was lashing her with vines from head to toe.

"Dammit!" Sam grumbled.  "This is ridiculous!"

"The Queen shall be made safe!" Goldeneye rumbled, as she lashed Sam between the two fairies, and then used her remaining and still very abundant supply of green vines to wrap all three "passengers" together, intertwining the green strands around and between their bodies and the two uprights.

"The Queen's safety is a concern for all," Janet chuckled.

"Yes, we all want you to be safe, my Queen," Markie agreed, nodding gravely.

Sam glowered at Janet's smiling face, then winced.  "Not so tight!" she complained.  The layers of vine were approaching the level of mummification, as if they were trapped, shoulder to shoulder, in the web of a green spider.

Without warning, Golden took hold of the top of the basket and lifted into the air.

"Weeeee!" Markie squealed.

Sam and Janet exchanged a smile and shook their heads.  Neither was inclined to scold the little blonde for enjoying their dragon-borne abduction/rescue.

"I think Markie and I are pretty much helpless," Janet whispered in Sam's ear, "but you should be able to wiggle free when we get where we're going."

"Probably," Sam agreed.

Markie lowered her head, took several strands of vine looped across her chest into her mouth, then squirmed upright.  "M'rrrfh!" she mewled, smiling at her companions above her self-inflicted and easily removed gag.

"She's hopeless," Sam sighed, shaking her head.

"Totally," Janet agreed, then leaned her head against Sam's shoulder.

"Hey," Sam said.

Janet lifted her head.  "What?"

Sam leaned close and planted a kiss on the brunette fairy's lips.  "The dragon would like me to announce that we have reached our cruising altitude.  Please feel free to move about the cabin, and thank you for flying Goldeneye Airlines."

Janet smiled and returned the kiss.  "My seat belt seems to be stuck," she said.

"Pity," Sam said back, and they kissed, again, and this time the kiss continued for some time.

Markie sighed and settled her head against Sam's other shoulder.

The tree tops were rolling away beneath them at a good clip.  Goldeneye was keeping low, gliding along just above the forest, and she wasn't flying nearly as fast as she had during the trip to the canyon.  The wind whistled through the uprights of the basket, fluttering its occupants' hair; but the sun was warm on their skin, where it wasn't wrapped in loops of vine.  Hypothermia would almost certainly not be a problem.

There are fairies at the bottom of our astrophysics lab
Chapter 16

The sun was low, nearing the peaks of the snow-capped mountains ringing the horizon.  The top of the stargate loomed in the distance, and to the right was the craggy form of the Dark Mountain.  To the left was the top of the dome of the Great Temple.  None of these landmarks were especially close. All were at least four of five fairy-miles away, just visible to the occupants of the basket across the tops of the trees.

Suddenly, Goldeneye hovered in place, craning her long neck and swinging her tail as a counterbalance as she scanned the area.  "This will do!" she thundered, and swooped towards an especially tall tree.  She leaned forward and thrust the basket between the branches, near the top, wedging it firmly in place between three large branches and near the main trunk.  Her gigantic head loomed close and she peered at the vine-wrapped human and fairies.  "Visit me now and then!" she growled.  "I won't eat you!"

And then, she was gone.

"Hey!" Sam yelled.  "Get back here and free us!"

The only answer was the dull thump, thump, thump of giant, increasingly distant wings.

Janet shrugged.  "Like I said—"

"I know, I know," Sam muttered, and began struggling against the vines.  None of the green tendrils were tight, but there were a lot of them and it was difficult to tell which would surrender to her efforts.  As soon as she gained slack in one, another would cinch tight and pin her arms even tighter.  It was maddeningly slow, but she began to make headway.

"I wish I could help," Janet sighed.

"Me too, my Queen," Markie added.

"Just keep still," Sam mumbled.

"Don't bite my head off," Janet huffed.  "It's not like I asked Anise to do this."

"Oh, here we go," Sam muttered under her breath.

"Please don't fight," Markie pleaded.

"We're not!" Sam and Janet snapped, in unison... then laughed.

"And don't tease me," Markie added, pouting in earnest.

Sam smiled and planted a kiss on Markie's lips.  "You love it when we tease you," she said, then went back to freeing herself.

Markie giggled and watched as her Queen finally wiggled an arm free.

Sam continued tugging on the vines, and when both arms were free, she drew the knife sheathed on her right hip and cut the remaining vines, one by one.  Next, she sliced the cord binding Markie's wrists, then did the same for Janet.  Both fairies tucked their legs and attacked the cords binding their ankles.

Suddenly, the basket shifted a few inches to one side.

"Whoa!" Sam gasped.  "We better be careful getting out of this thing," she cautioned, then reached through the uprights and grabbed a branch.  Janet did the same.  "Markie, you go first," Sam ordered.  Fly to a branch and wait for us."

"Yes, my Queen," Markie said, gravely.  She gingerly eased herself between the uprights, and fluttered away.

"Okay, you're next," Sam said to Janet.  "I'll climb down as low as I can get.  When I run out of branches, you and Markie can help me the rest of the way."

"Be careful!" Janet said, kissed Sam's lips, then carefully crawled to the edge, jumped off into the empty air, and flew away.

Suddenly alone in the green, gathering darkness, Sam eased herself from the platform and began her climb down, carefully picking her way from branch to branch.  "Janet?" she called, but didn't receive an answer.  "Markie?"  Still no answer.  Sam sighed and resumed her descent.  At one point she thought she heard the flutter of fairy wings and tried again.  "Janet?"

"I'm here, my Queen," Janet answered, from some distance away.

"Okay," Sam answered.  "Climbing."  She made her way down until she came to the last of the branchs within reach.  Below was clear trunk, all the way to the darkness of the forest floor.  She was stuck, without fairy help.  "This is as low as I can go," she announced.

The sound of fluttering wings rose in crescendo behind her back, and two pair of hands seized her arms, lifted her off the branch, and together they spiraled to the ground.

As Sam's feet touched the leaf litter, several blue-white lights suddenly flared.  "What the hell?" she muttered.  Her arms were still being held, and now the grips were tight.  She was in the middle of a group of eight or nine Darklings!  "Let me go!" she yelled, as she was forced to her knees.  "M'rrfh!"

A Darkling had stuffed a silk cloth in Sam's mouth and was tying a tight cleave-gag between her clenched teeth.


Rope was used to pin Sam's arms to her body with a shoulder yoking and breast framing harness, and then to bind her wrists behind her shoulder blades in a reverse prayer.  Her ankles were hobbled about a foot apart, and her loincloth, knife, bandeau, and scarf were stripped away.  She was then dragged to her feet and the nooses of two catch-poles tightened around her throat.  She twisted and fought, but it was useless.  Her bonds were inescapable and the poles held her in place.

More of the actinic lights flared, revealing Janet and Markie in identical restraints: black rope box-ties and hobbles, black silk gags, and two catch-poles around each throat.  A pair of Darklings controlled each captive, standing to either side and gripping the ends of the poles.  An additional dozen or more Darklings were present, smiling very self-satisfied smiles.  All were dressed in black silk or leather loincloths or kilts, bandeaus, and body harnesses of black rope.  Most had coiled cord and rope dangling from their harnesses or slung over their shoulders.

Another Darkling joined the group.  "I have found her," she announced.  "She comes!"

A Darkling with two quarterstaff-armed escorts fluttered from the darkness.  A silver collar was around her throat, leather thigh-boots clad her legs, and a short-waisted, breast-baring jacket covered her arms and shoulders.  Between the jacket's hem and the boot-tops, she was naked.  "You dare summon me?  All you've done is capture a single Lightling, a single Hailey, and..."  Her eyes popped wide and she gasped!  "The Queen!"  She stepped forward and cupped Sam's chin.  "The Queen," she whispered.

"M'rrf!" Sam growled and jerked her head to the side, then winced when the catch-pole nooses tightened.

"Gently, gently, my Sisters," the First Darkling cautioned Sam's handlers.  Her hands cupped Sam's breasts.  "The Queen returns.  What can it mean?"

"The Great Hunt is to resume?" one of the Darklings suggested.

The First Darkling shook her head.  "The Machine would have told me if such were the case.  There would have been a sign."  She shook her head, again.  "Yes, there would have been a sign."

"Then... what does it mean?" another asked.

"The dragon takes the Queen from us," the First Darkling mused aloud, "together with a single Hailey."  She glanced at Markie.  "Presumably, to act as her slave.  And now she returns, accompanied by a Lightling."  She released Sam's breasts, walked to Janet, and stared into her face.  "You thought to steal the Queen and bring her back to your trees, didn't you, my Light Sister?"

"Treachery!" a Darkling cried, and the others muttered in agreement.

"Cunning," the First Darkling purred.  "Treacherous cunning worthy of a Darkling."  She smiled as she gripped Janet's right nipple and gave it what had to be a painful twist.

Janet winced and her wings shivered.

Sam screamed through her gag and tried to lunge forward.  "Nrrrf!"  The catch-poles held her in place.

"And you weren't going to share, were you?" the First Darkling asked.  "You intended to keep the Queen sequestered in your pretty, silly tree-houses, as a toy of the Light."  She gave the nipple another twist.  "Well, guess what?  We don't intend to share, either."

The Darklings laughed and shook their staffs.  The shadows in the dark clearing danced.

"It will be a very long time before you see your trees again, Lightling," the First Darkling purred, as she released Janet's nipple.  "Bring her," she told the handlers.  "She shall know all the Dark Pleasures, over and over."  She gestured at Markie.  "And bring the Hailey, of course, but do not mix her with the other slaves.  Her devotion has earned her the privilege of remaining at the Queen's side."  She returned to face Sam.  "Oh!" she gasped, as if having an afterthought.  "And I suppose we might as well bring the Queen, as well."

The Darklings laughed and shook their staffs, again.

"Quickly and silently my Sisters," the First Darkling ordered, then made a grand gesture.  "To the Dark Mountain!"

The catch-pole nooses were removed from the prisoners' throats and the poles thrust under their bound arms and between their bound wrists and their backs, from either side.  The nooses were then looped over each captive's upper body and pulled tight.  The staff lights were extinguished, and then, with a Darkling gripping each catch-pole and a third gripping the captive's hobbled ankles, they lifted into the air.  First went a small squad, flying point.  Then, Sam and her handlers.  The Queen continued to struggle and mewl through her gag.  Next, it was Janet's turn.  The helpless brunette fairy seemed resigned to her fate.  And finally, a sobbing, weeping Markie and her handlers departed.  The rest of the Darklings flanked the procession, with the First Darkling and her guardian duo acting as rearguard.

Seconds passed and turned into a minute... then two.  Full night had come to the forest.  A glimmer of starlight penetrated the still canopy, but the only real light was the pale, ghostly bio-luminescence shining from clusters of fungi clinging to several of the trees.

Suddenly, a fairy crawled from a dense cluster of ferns and slowly, cautiously, stood upright.  She was a Lightling, dressed in a sage-green loincloth and bandeau.  A harness of brown rope hugged her body and secured a bundle of mushrooms and herbs to the small of her back.  A digging stick was holstered on her right hip, and a quarterstaff festooned with sage and brown ribbons was in her right hand.  She squinted into the darkness, in the direction the Darklings had taken their captives, her pointed ears alert for any sound.  She waited a few more seconds, just to be sure none of the Darklings had lingered, still on the hunt.

Finally, she lifted into the air and fluttered away, but not towards the Dark Mountain.

There are fairies at the bottom of our astrophysics lab
Chapter 16


Chapter 15

Chapter 17