In Ashcroft sisters’ room, Amanda Blayke has finally gotten Willow into the bath. She was more intoxicated than Amanda first thought. Willow has made several advances toward her and at times fought with her like an overzealous child. Amanda has grown accustomed to Willow’s drunken behavior. She knows how to react whenever Willow returns from her assignments with Ecks in an inebriated state. She just does what Beatrice told her to do. Don’t fight her, she said. The last thing you want is to upset her when she’s like this. Just remain calm and she will do the same. From that bit of advice, Amanda has learned to cope with Willow’s fondness for good ale.
She lays out the sisters’ night wear neatly on the large bed in the center of the room. Though they are no longer young, Beatrice and Willow still share a bed. Opposite on the wall from the window to the right side of the bed sat two bureaus. They are beautifully styled with aquamarine accents, emerald knobs on the drawers with a large vanity mirror trimmed with the same aquamarine accents in the center. The only difference is that the one on the right had matching jewelry box, a music box and two brushes sat in the top. The other is nearly bare save for a single brush. The bureau on the right is Willow’s. She spent a lot of time in her mirror making sure she was at her best. The shelves of her bureau are lined with perfumes. Beatrice, however, isn’t into beautifying herself as much as her sister. She, too, has various perfumes and she grooms herself to make herself look presentable in her role as High Captain. However, she spends far less time ogling over herself in the mirror than her sister.
Amanda takes a hand full of towels out of the linen closet and walks through the nearby doorway that led to the washroom. She can hear the laughter of her mistresses at play in the bath. She lays towels on the bench and begins to undress. As per Miss Willow’s request, she is to join them in the bath or spend the day cleaning the stables without the aid of a shovel or barrel. She can endure Willow a bit longer until she sobers up. She removes her hair from the pigtail style she favored and let her locks flop to her waist. With a shake of her head to loosen her hair more, Amanda enters the bathing area.
Beatrice and Willow are in the large bath set in the marble floor. Showers lined one side of the room and sinks lined the other side. There are no windows to ensure privacy. The Ashcroft sisters splash around playfully in the bath. Willow attempts to tickle her sister. Grinning, she lunges forward. Beatrice giggles as she plants a hand on her younger sibling’s forehead and shoves it under water. A couple moments later, she lets Willow up. Willow breathes deep, grins and goes after her big sister again. Amanda laughs to herself. It is a welcome sight to see her mistresses acting normally. No armor. No assignments. No need for proper etiquette. They’re just two sisters enjoying their time together. Amanda laughs again, a little louder this time, as Beatrice and Willow splash each other. They stop for a moment and turn to her.
“Well Amanda, glad you could make it,” Beatrice says, displaying half-hearted authority.
“Hi, Mandy,” Willow excitedly says waving her arm.
“Lady Beatrice,” she says bowing her head slightly. Amanda asks Willow, “How are you feeling, Miss Willow?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” Willow answers cheerily, waving a hand dismissively. “You coming in or what?”
“Of course,” Amanda smiles. It looks like Lady Beatrice relieved Miss Willow’s intoxication. Perhaps she won’t be as grabby this time. Beatrice has always used bathing as a way to sober her sister up after she returns from her missions when Ecks lets her drink too much ale. The play she has with Willow not only gives them sisterly quality time but it also serves as a way of getting Willow to burn up the ale in her system. To Amanda’s relief, it has worked again.
Amanda lowers herself into the bath. The water is slightly chilly. Goose bumps prickle up her legs. She sits fully on the bottom and relaxes. Her moment is instantly ruined when Willow grabs her bust.
“They’re bigger than they look,” Willow says grinning from ear to ear as she gently squeezed Amanda’s bosom.
For a moment, Amanda thought that Willow was still intoxicated until she realized that this is how Willow is normally. “I’m glad to see you are feeling better Miss Willow,” she says smiling. If Willow had still been intoxicated, she would have squeezed her bosom harder. Amanda prefers this Willow over the drunken one even if she is just as grabby.
Willow takes her hands from Amanda’s bust, places them behind her head and flashes a sheepish grin. “Yeah, I guess I had one too many,” she said. “Ecks said not to have too many but this ale was apple spice and it tasted so good with the Danishes.”
Amanda laughs and says, “Well, I should’ve known. You’re the only person I know who drinks ale with pastries.”
“And if she keeps up that habit she’ll be an ogre’s trophy wife,” Beatrice added, knowing the ogre’s passion for corpulent women.
“Betty!” Willow whined. Then she shoots back, “Well if I’m an ogre’s wife then you’re an imp’s mistress.” She quickly remembered the imp’s desire for women who are well-endowed.
Amanda laughed along. She liked it when the three of them had this kind of time to be regular women. It got tiring at times to keep up pretenses. But that is her duty—and Beatrice and Willow as well; mostly Beatrice anyway. However, when it came to these moments, she could be herself.
“If that’s the case, then we’ll be a perfect harem,” Amanda laughs. It is a couple moments before she realizes that she is the only one laughing. Her laughter stifles as she looks back and forth between Beatrice and Willow. They are not laughing; rather they stare at her awkwardly. In an instant, Amanda felt as if she had offended her mistresses. Her face becomes red with embarrassment. Immediately the questions ran through her mind. What did I do to offend Lady Beatrice and Miss Willow? What did I say? I shouldn’t have spoken out of context, she thought worriedly. She lowers her head in shame. However, no reprimand came as she waited for it. Amanda lifts her head, bewildered, at the sound of her mistresses’ outburst of laughter. She blinks in confusion. “What?” she says. “You’re not upset?”
“That was too easy,” Willow said laughing.
“You’re right, Amanda,” Beatrice chuckles. “We would be an imp’s harem.”
“Yeah, especially Betty since hers are as big as dragonfruit,” giggled Willow.
Beatrice joins her sister’s humor. Of the three of them, she has the largest bust. She then looks over at Amanda who is still befuddled. “It’s alright Amanda; you didn’t do anything wrong,” she assured her subordinate.
“But the way you and Miss Willow looked at me,” Amanda finally says before being waved quiet by Beatrice.
“You didn’t offend us. There’s nothing wrong with speaking freely with your superior while relaxing.” Beatrice quiets her laughter, casts a warm smile and continues, “When we have these moments, it is okay to let your guard down and take it easy once in a while. You don’t have to always be so proper around me; you can be yourself during downtime.”
Amanda thought about what her superior had just said. Ever since she has been taken on by High Captain Beatrice as her subordinate, she has always treated her and Miss Willow with diligence and respect even when they had moments where they could indulge themselves in feminine activities. Beatrice has been trying to get Amanda to drop her restraints and open up a bit. So far there has been some progress yet Amanda still holds has reservations when it comes to being around Beatrice and Willow on a non-professional level. Amanda wants to be able to act more freely around her mistresses during these intimate moments. But her respect for them is high. Then again, perhaps not sharing in an intimate moment with them is a sign of disrespect. She considers this for a moment. If Lady Beatrice—a High Captain of the Knights of Arcana—can take a moment for herself, why shouldn’t she. She makes a decision. “You’re right, Milady,” smiles Amanda.
“Good.” Beatrice leans back against the side of the bath and makes herself comfortable. “First thing, let’s drop the formalities. While we’re in here, you can address me in a common manner. Alright?”
“Yes, Milad—” Amanda catches herself, nearly forgetting what Beatrice has said. She looks at the statuesque female knight. Her face is warm and calm, free of the stark glare and stern façade Amanda is used to seeing. She clears her throat softly and says, with slight hesitation, “Okay, Beatrice.” Amanda laughs lightly, feeling a little sheepish. It was the first time she has ever addressed Beatrice informally. To say her name felt alien to her yet at the same time, it felt right.
Beatrice laughs at Amanda’s awkwardness. “See, that wasn’t so hard,” she says. “Now try just leaning back and relaxing. Pretend you’re in a comfy chair.” She lowers herself in the water until her full bust is hidden beneath the surface. Amanda followed suit. “Close your eyes and breathe lightly,” Beatrice instructed. Amanda closes her eyes. Beatrice opens one eye to see that Amanda has both her eyes closed. She looks past her at Willow who is out of the bath and is slowly making her way back holding a small bucket. Beatrice laughs silently.
Willow had gotten out of the bath while her sister talked with Amanda. She knew Mandy would be focused on Beatrice too much to notice her missing. Once Mandy was hooked on Beatrice’s words, Willow made her stealthy exit, found a small bucket, filled it with stark cold water and now she is standing over Mandy with it over her head. She tries to stifle the rising laughter building in her. She looks down at Mandy resting so peacefully. But she is too focused on her prank to admire the girl’s effort to take it easy.
Beatrice peeks at Willow again. She sees that her sister is ready to lose it at any moment. She stifles her laugh easier than her sister. She gives Willow a knowing glance, telling her to wait. Then she checks on how well Amanda is doing with her rest. “Amanda?”
Amanda breathes lightly and says, with a relaxed tone, “Yeah, Beatrice.” Her mistress’ name flowed over her lips a lot easier this time.
Beatrice smiles at this. She almost doesn’t want to ruin Amanda’s first chance at really letting herself go. “How are you doing, sweetie?” she asks. When she doesn’t get an immediate response, Beatrice peeks over at Amanda who is practically asleep. She looks so calm and peaceful which is a contrast to her usual franticness of pleasing her and Willow. It is shame to ruin such a moment, she thought. Almost. Beatrice turns her eye to Willow who is red-faced from holding in her laughter. She decides to end her sister’s torment and begin Amanda’s. On her signal, Willow flips the bucket upside down.
The cold water shocks Amanda’s system. She shoots up, gasping deeply to keep from screaming. The water in the bath was lukewarm with a slight chill. But the water that froze her felt as if it came from the Myscillia Mountains in the Northern Region. Amanda wraps her arms around herself taking short, quick breaths until the shock passes. Suddenly, she hears Willow burst out with laughter with Beatrice following not far behind. “Miss Willow!” she said as she spun around toward her. For a moment she had thought about paying Willow back but she was afraid of upsetting Beatrice. Then she remembered what Beatrice said. A plan forms in her mind.
“That was great!” Willow says laughing loudly. She and Beatrice share their humor for a moment or two before they begin to hear whimpering. They quiet down enough to listen clearer and completely go silent when they realize that the whimpering was coming from Amanda. They thought she might have been playing a joke until she began to cry harder. Regret soon began to set in.
“I keep forgetting how sensitive she is,” Beatrice said.
“Maybe we went too far,” Willow added. She leans down at the edge of the bath and tries to comfort Amanda. “Mandy, I’m sorry. I was just having fun and I didn’t mean to—” Before she could finish, Willow is wrapped up tight in Amanda’s arms and yanked into the bath. Because she had been out of the water for a bit, it felt colder than when she first got in. Willow pops up gasping for air. Amanda comes up next to her grinning widely.
Amanda looks toward Beatrice. “How was that Milady?” she says joyously.
“Excellent job,” Beatrice laughed. Earlier, she and Amanda hatched a plan to prank Willow since Willow is the one who always plays jokes on them especially when she is drunk. Also it was long overdue for some payback for all times Willow has groped them both after having too much ale. It was intended to get Willow sober and get Amanda to finally let herself go. With Beatrice’s careful planning and Amanda’s impressive acting, the prank went off without a hitch. However, they were not finished with Willow yet.
“Beatrice, with your permission?” Amanda asks.
“Go ahead! Have at her,” Beatrice says, still racked with laughter.
Amanda looks at Willow with a mischievous sneer. Now that she has finally learned to be herself around her mistresses, she is ready to show Willow what she is really like. “Oh, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” she says. “I’ll have you know Miss Willow, I grew up with four brothers and they’re really good teachers.” She waits for a moment to let Willow absorb her words. Then she lunges for her.
Willow cries out in laughter and for her sister who watches from the sidelines as Amanda splashes her relentlessly.
Down the hall in his room, Ecks is lying in his bed listening to the commotion coming from the Ashcroft sisters’ room. He exasperates a sigh and says to no one, “Do they have to be so loud?”
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