Back in January my good friend and fellow writer Wyland scribed a little tale about his characters Prim and Tia ambushing my Evie and having a little fun/taking a few liberties with her in A Friendly Meeting Tale.
Evie, of course could not let that go unaddressed. She did decide to bide her time and dish out her ‘turnabout’ cold…(and not at all because I got busy and couldn’t finish the story in a timely manner).
BUT BE SURE TO READ WYLAND’S TALE HERE FIRST…not only is it important to have ‘PART 1‘ context first, but it’s a quick fun and sexy romp with (blatant teaser) Evie dressed up and treated like their girl-pony, “Honeydew Sparkles.”
Evie’s response includes more descriptions of the events of Part 1, then details Evie’s attempt at giving Prim and Tia their comeuppance. Of course no one can ever really ‘get ahead’ with Prim…
“You only brought one bag?” the soldier scoffed at his mate.
“Orders were to put them both in the same bag,” he said with a shrug.
“How are we supposed to fit them both in one?” the first asked. He looked over at their two companions, each gripping the arms of one of their captives.
“I dunno. They’re gnomes, can’t we just fold them or stack them or something?”
“Fold? Stack?” One of the gnomes blurted indignantly, wagging her bound hands at the man. “Just because you men are handicapped with excessive height and entirely-unnecessary strength does not mean it is acceptable to manifest your jealousy of gnomes by handling us disrespectfully.”
“Huh?” The target of her derision shrugged again, this time with a quizzical expression.
The soldier holding the flame-haired gnome chuckled. “Gnomes don’t like short jokes, mate.”
“I daresay not!” she exclaimed. “Commentary regarding physical attributes of others is the lowest form of humor. You do not hear me mocking your sloping foreheads and slack jaws.”
“Prim, maybe you should…” her green-haired warrior companion began.
“And furthermore, were you blessed with brains instead of brawn you could easily understand how to fit both of us in the bag together. You!” she called to one. “Lay the bag on the ground with the opening facing up.”
“Good!” the gnome exclaimed when the soldier complied. “One comforting constant is the ability for soldiers such as yourselves to follow orders.” She smiled patronizingly at them.
The four soldiers stared at her in amusement while her companion gritted her teeth and rubbed her temples, not an easy task with her wrists lashed together in front. “Prim, I don’t think…”
“Now then,” the garrulous gnome continued. “Place my delightful defender with the doubting demeanor seated cross-legged in the opening of the bag.”
“Hey!” Tia shouted as the soldier holding her lifted her in the air and placed her inside the mouth of the bag. “Prim! What are you doing?”
“Oh, relax, Hot-Tits. Clearly these soldiers are of the Rithian Knight variety, and tasked with summoning us to an audience with our golden-maned girl-pony, Honeydew Sparkles.”
“You think Evie is behind this?” Tia asked, studying the soldiers more deliberately.
“Oh, most assuredly,” Prim grinned. She diverted her attention to the soldier holding Tia for a moment. “You will want to bind her ankles together while she sits cross-legged, and might I also recommend attaching her wrists to them.”
“Prim! Shut up!” Tia cried, exasperated, as another soldier bent down to comply.
“Have faith, my dearest Hot-Tits,” Prim continued. “Our Honeydew has most certainly dispatched these leering louts, though I do not discern that any of them are fetching enough to be the handsome hunk named Will that our hussy Honeydew prattles on about.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to help them!” Tia snarled. “Don’t you think princess Honeydew has revenge on her mind?”
Prim wriggled her shoulders free of the grip of the soldier holding her and approached Tia. “Revenge is such an ugly word, suggesting mindless violence and general unpleasantness.” After straddling Tia she sat down on Tia’s crossed legs, facing her. Prim slipped her bound wrists over Tia’s head and behind her back, giving Tia a light squeeze.
“I should think that Honeydew would be feeling more gratitude than vengeance. After all, we did invite her to our ‘First Annual Ancient Gnomish Festival to Celebrate the Beauty of the Female Form’ and make her the veritable star attraction.”
“We?” Tia snorted. “YOU also had her bound naked on a pedestal and then handed out sketchbooks and charcoal so you could teach an impromptu ‘art class,’ as I recall.”
“Ah yes, many budding artists were inspired that day,” Prim smiled, a faraway look in her eyes.
“AND you had her shackled to an X-frame and announced that she was a ‘hands-on’ exhibit!”
“Well yes, of course…what part of ‘appreciation of the female form’ do you not understand?”
Tia sighed. “Let’s hope she has a very selective memory of the events of the grand finale.”
“Oh pish-posh, Hot-Tits. Revenge and punishment will not be what Honeydew has in mind. She, like I, believes that turnabout is fair play.” She winked at Tia. “And quite often, foreplay.”
Tia groaned. “That doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“Cheer up, Hot-Tits! Consider this another grand adventure and a tale to be told.”
Prim looked at the soldiers gathered around. “Now then, my delightfully compliant lackeys, if you will simply tie my ankles to my wrists, behind my partner’s back, I believe you shall find it easy enough to pull the bag right up over our heads.” She gave them a more genuine smile than before.
“Prim, you do realize that you’re sitting right on my hands…and that my wrist ropes are…”
“Oh, how unfortunate, Hot-Tits! Well, I will simply have to manage. feel free to struggle for release.”
“Hmmmph. And whose release are you referring to?” Tia muttered.
Prim gave her a peck on the cheek as the bag was drawn up over their heads. “You can be on top on the return trip.”
The bag containing the gnomes was loaded into the back of a wagon, and their journey to rendezvous with Evie had begun. The wagon bumped and jostled over so many ruts in the road that a suspicious person could wonder if the soldier at the reins was doing so on purpose.
With each lurch of the wagon, a grunting sound could be heard from inside the bag, followed immediately by a gasp and a soft feminine moan. During smoother passages in the road, other wriggling motions could be seen, causing ripples in the soft sides of the bag.
After a short while, small fingertips could be seen poking their way through the top of the bag, followed soon after by a shock of red hair and then one peeking eye.
The three soldiers in the back of the wagon leaned in closer, scowls on their faces. The peeking eye and flame of hair immediately disappeared and the fingertips pulled the bag closed.
“What? You can’t get out?” the mocking voice of the warrior gnome came from inside the bag.
The other, sing-song voice followed: “Oh I most certainly can, Hot-Tits; however, my situational awareness suggests that this may not be the most opportune time to effect an escape. Discretion and valor, and all that.”
“The soldiers are watching us, I take it.”
“Besides,” the higher-pitched voice continued undeterred. “Why ever would we want to escape when Honeydew obviously has something quite special planned for us?”
“So special we have to be kidnapped by soldiers and stuffed in a bag?” came the retort. “I’m afraid I don’t share your rosy outlook about our hostess’ plans for us.”
“Oh, Hot-Tits, I wish you could go through life with the same unbridled optimism as I do.”
“You mean blissful unawareness?”
The higher voice didn’t skip a beat. “And speaking of bridled, do you recall how sexy Honeydew Sparkles looked in that outfit? It is no wonder she asked if she could keep it the next morning. I wonder if Honeydew will be wearing it again today. Ooh…speaking of ‘will’…I wonder if she wore it for Will?”
There was a pause, then: “Oh, silly me,” she said. “I mean, I wonder how many times she has worn it for Will. So far.”
Another hour down the road, Evie surveyed the preparations she had made for the gnomes’ arrival. Everything seemed to be in place, all the necessary arrangements had been made, and all the invitees would soon be gathering.
She actually had Prim to thank for the idea. Evie had been worried about how to make good on her promise to help the people of this village to do some fundraising. They had recently suffered an unfortunate disaster and were trying to rebuild.
While this wasn’t a full-fledged festival Evie had organized, she was hoping to give the fundraising event a festive happy atmosphere.
The gnomes’ role would be to put the ‘fun’ in ‘crowdfunding.’
She smiled as she did a mental run-down of her plans. While her plans for the most part followed along with Prim’s optimistic outlook of good-spirited ‘turnabout,’ she also desired some measure of payback and comeuppance…just as Tia suspected.
After all, Prim had taken certain liberties with her. ‘Both of them had,’ she corrected herself.
Tia wasn’t exactly innocent. She might not have planned the event, but she sure had thrown herself into it. Tia hadn’t ‘spared the rod’ using the crop on Evie’s flanks, and she could still remember the mischievous grin on the gnome’s face.
It was Prim, however, who was the instigator. Prim who had made her dress in that skimpy revealing outfit and put the bit gag and harness on her. Who ‘rode’ her to the festival.
It was Prim who had Evie placed in a corral and made her give ‘Honeydew Sparkles’ rides. Prim who signed her up for the ‘rope a ranger rodeo’ and escape challenge. Prim who put her on display and invited the crowd to get ‘handsy.’ Prim who made the challenge (and placed wagers) that Evie could out-wrestle any male gnomes in the mud pits—even in pairs.
Then again, it was also Prim who made sure that when ‘Honeydew Sparkles’ was done giving rides, that she was bathed, rubbed down, and had her mane brushed out. It was Prim who ensured Evie was posed in a flattering display for the ‘art class.’ And Prim who made sure that the male gnomes didn’t try anything that Evie didn’t eventually consent to.
And, it was Prim who had meticulously designed the corset, gloves, boots, and harnesses that Evie wore as ‘Honeydew Sparkles.’ It truly was a sexy and alluring outfit. And Prim had graciously allowed her to keep it.
She felt a flush remembering. She was going to have to get the outfit out for Will again. Soon.
Evie had to admit: if Prim’s festival had been created to outdo a goblin festival, then her gnomish festival had been a wild success. Not only in terms of variety of activities, but it accomplished its goal to ‘Celebrate the Beauty of the Female Form.’ Evie had certainly felt celebrated!
Evie had never experienced the touch of a male gnome before. Now she wondered why she had waited so long. Whereas the goblins were all about their own satisfaction (and production quotas), the male gnomes focused almost exclusively upon the women’s pleasure.
Evie had to admire that in a male, no matter their form.
In fact, she thought to herself, the next time her friends wanted a girls’ weekend, she should inquire with Prim about booking something in the gnomish lands. Waiting for the ‘Second Annual’ festival would take too long. Unless she could convince Prim to make it ‘semi-annual’…
Eventually the wagon lurched to a halt and the soldiers opened the top of the bag. If they were surprised to see the gnomes emerge completely unbound, they didn’t show it. Nor did they seem surprised to see their clothing in disarray and blushes on both their faces.
The soldiers politely helped them down from the wagon but stayed close, telling them ‘wait here’ for ‘the boss.’ The driver headed into the nearest building to announce their arrival.
While waiting, they examined their surroundings. They were at the edge of the open center square of a modestly sized town, one that seemed to be bustling and full of life. In the open commons was a curtained stage surrounded by dozens of tables with chairs and place settings.
The town also seemed to be undergoing a renaissance of sorts, with new construction and a more modern style.
After a few moments, Tia nudged Prim. “Doesn’t this place look familiar somehow?”
“Somewhat, yes…” Prim replied. “Though it looks quite different than I remember. Some of the buildings are new, there used to be a large structure there, and there was little tavern next to it.”
“Hmmm.” Tia mused. “Why would Evie have us brought here?”
She didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Evie came out of the building with a broad smile on her face. She was wearing an elegant long sleeveless dress in her favorite rich blue color.
“Prim! Tia! So glad you made it!” she exclaimed as she walked over to them. “Thank you for accepting my invitation.” Evie gave them a little wink as she emphasized the last word.
“Honeydew!” Prim exclaimed, meeting her part way and giving her a warm embrace. “How could we refuse your invitation when you sent such handsome and charming escorts?”
“Not to mention the first-class luxury travel,” Tia muttered. “Hey, princess. Glad the temporary tattoos have faded away. Prim promised me they weren’t permanent, but I wasn’t sure.”
“Yep, finally all gone, Tia, not to worry. Besides, what girl wouldn’t want to spend a couple months with a tacky ‘gnomes rule’ tattoo on her arm? Or to have ‘Prim was here’…elsewhere.”
“Tacky?!?” Prim looked wounded. “I shall have you know, that lettering was in a most tasteful font, and…”
“Not the time, Prim,” Tia hissed.
“Anyway,” Evie hastily changed the subject. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I invited you to this village. The truth is, I need your help.”
“Anything for you, Honeydew!” Prim exclaimed, seeming extra pleased with her rhyming.
“Wonderful! I’m the hostess of this big fundraiser tonight. We’re raising money to rebuild their Center for the Performing Arts. You see, their old one burned down under mysterious circumstances….along with a good portion of that block over there…”
Prim looked as if she were studying the buildings in a new light. “How tragic and unfortunate.”
“Ohhhh.” Tia said in a low voice. “I thought this place looked familiar.”
“Yes, well,” Evie continued. “I know the performing arts are very dear to your heart, Prim, and so I just know you’ll be willing to help the cause.”
“Of course Honeydew! The arts must be supported. We are glad to help, in any way we can!”
Evie grinned. “I’m glad to hear you say in any way.”
“Uh, oh,” Tia muttered.
“I knew I could count on you, Prim, to empathize and be personally involved in their recovery.”
Prim maintained her irrepressible smile. “How could I not, Honeydew? It is so unfortunate when tragedy strikes and accidents happen, and through no fault of anyone anywhere…”
“Prim…she knows!” Tia hissed.
Prim brushed Tia off with a glance and shake of her head. “I am so honored that you would request my assistance! Certainly I can put on a performance to lift the spirits of these poor downtrodden souls, and bring some laughter and happiness to their lives.”
“Yes…” Evie responded with a smile. “Having you put on a performance is exactly what I had in mind. Nothing would make the crowd more enthusiastic about donating generously.”
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Tia grumbled.
“You need an infusion of optimism, my dear Hot-Tits. How am I to inspire and delight my audience with you grumping along by my side?”
“Prim, this is obviously some ruse by Evie!” Tia gestured animatedly “Who, need I remind you, is a Codex Cryptae agent skilled in manipulation and deceit–to get revenge for you making her your girl-pony. ‘Princess’ here is playing you!!”
“Now, Tia that’s just not fair.” Evie softened her eyes and looked back and forth between the two gnomes. “I can unequivocally say that Prim’s unique ability to inspire a crowd is precisely what my donors–and the citizens of this unfortunate village–need right now.”
Evie gestured toward the commons where people had begun to gather, chatting in groups and being served beverages. Most were dressed in fine evening wear. “They need you.”
Prim followed Evie’s gesture and looked at the crowd with dreamy eyes, already imagining them chanting her name and calling for an encore. She could not let down her adoring fans.
Tia’s glare at Evie mellowed, too. She saw Prim’s excitement and knew she would not be denied. ‘Well, I suppose we do owe them,’ she thought.
Evie didn’t need to wait for an answer. “Follow me this way, my friends, and I’ll show you where you can get some refreshments, get washed up, and dressed. I’ve picked out some very special outfits for you to wear tonight.”
After a light luncheon, Evie had to excuse herself to attend to last minute preparations. She took them to their private dressing room, where they enjoyed hot baths and enjoyed a brief time in a sauna before being treated to massages. Even Tia was enjoying the VIP treatment.
An hour later the two gnomes emerged from their dressing room. Both had been pleasantly surprised to find elegant cocktail-length dresses waiting in the dressing area. Tia had been convinced Evie would put them in something humiliating like bunny outfits.
Instead, the pretty dresses were perfectly fitted to them, As were the matching high heels. And the dresses were so snug and supporting, they barely noticed the absence of undergarments. Prim admired how Tia’s dress highlighted her upper body, while Tia caught herself noticing the exquisite rear of Prim’s dress. ‘Laressa Signature Collection,’ Prim read from the tags.
Prim noticed that all their bags and gear had been brought to their room from the wagon. Prim opened a compartment and sorted through a number of purses before selecting one that matched her dress surprisingly well. “How fortunate,” she said happily. ”One must accessorize well to perform well.” Tia sighed and grabbed Prim’s fiddle while Prim filled the purse.
Back outside, they were surprised to see Millie had joined Evie, wearing a glamorous long sleeveless gown much like Evie’s–but in a shade of plum with subtle lavender bands.
“Millie is here to help hostess the evening,” Evie explained. “Doesn’t she look delicious enough to just devour?” She gave a wink and grin that suggested she was ready for at least a nibble.
Millie blushed and clasped her hands in front of her. “You both look stunning, too. Those dresses are so elegant.”
“Thank you, Millistripes!” Prim exclaimed. “I see the audience is filling in. When does the evening’s program begin?”
“Your timing is impeccable as always, Prim,” Evie said. “Right this way…”
Darkness had begun to fall, and the center of the town was now brightly lit with dozens of torches, framing the stage and field of tables and chairs. Sounds of chatting and laughter rose above the clinking of cutlery on porcelain as the audience were finishing their catered meal.
The four took the stage and a hush fell over the crowd, followed by a smattering of applause. Evie walked to the podium with Millie by her side, while Prim and Tia hung slightly back.
Evie gave an animated speech on the tragedy that had befallen the town and an impassioned plea for support. “And to inspire you all to dig deep and donate generously, here are a pair that need no introduction to most of you,” she concluded, “my friends, I present to you Primpiphi Piltrum Stannumshard–but you can call her ‘Prim’–and her traveling companion Tia Wildleaf!”
A roar of applause grew as the two gnomes moved to the front center of the stage, looking out at the crowd. The loud applause was soon punctuated by gasps, followed by some patrons talking amongst themselves and trying to suppress bashful grins–while some appeared upset.
“I must say, this is not the usual reaction I provoke from a splendid crowd such as the one gathered here!” Prim said as she waved merrily.
“Our dresses!” Tia hissed. “They’re sheer…in the firelight they’re see-through!” She turned and glared at Evie, who simply smiled and winked.
Prim looked down at her exposed front. “That would explain it, then!” she laughed. “I’ve performed in much less than this before, Hot-Tits! And so have you, actually…” She blew a kiss to Tia and resumed waving to the crowd.
“Hello, my fans!” she cried out. The warm welcome had become decidedly chilly, though.
Evie spoke up to break the awkward pause. “Many of you will remember that it was Prim who happened to be performing here early that fateful night. So how very fitting it is that she is here at the beginning of the effort to rebuild the Center for the Performing Arts, am I right?”
There was a lukewarm smattering of applause from the crowd this time, and a few audible boos.
“And not only will Prim be performing for us tonight, forgoing her usual performance fees, but she has also pledged a generous personal donation!” The applause was louder now.
“I have?” Prim said quietly, surprised. She recovered quickly. “Yes! Of course I have!” She held her purse aloft. “All the gold in my purse, for the rebuilding!”
“Oh my goodness!” Millie squealed. “How wonderful!”
“Wait, what?” Tia exclaimed. “That’s MY purse! That’s OUR money!”
“Come now, Hot-Tits, no need to be stingy now!” Prim said, flashing her a winning smile.
Tia huffed and crossed her arms. “Fine, but you’ll be paying for it later.”
“I look forward to it!” Prim blew her a kiss.
Prim immediately turned back to the excited crowd. “Yes! Of course! All our gold! Because all of you lovely and beautiful fans will give and give until your donations match mine, will you not?”
“Well played, Prim,” Millie said with an admiring look as the crowd roared assent. “Nicely done.”
“Thank you, Millistripes, but I shall assure you this is far from my first experience soothing an angry crowd.”
“And unlikely to be the last,” Tia added with a scowl.
“Let’s not forget you still have a performance to give, Prim.” Evie reminded her.
“And let’s not forget we’re still surrounded by flaming torches,” Tia added.
Evie raised her arms to quiet the crowd. “Before you all are treated to Prim’s performance, we need to have our auction.” A quick round of applause rang out.
“Now, I’ve explained the auction rules earlier. Prim and Tia will pass out your auction paddles, while my lovely assistant Millie and I will collect your entry fees and confirm your paddle numbers. Should you be inspired by our performers to donate just a little bit more, Millie and I will gladly collect your…tips.”
Evie smiled sweetly at the approving crowd. “So fill your glasses, take your seats, the fun is about to begin!”
Evie gave Prim and Tia a little pep talk while Millie retrieved the baskets of auction paddles.
“Now Prim, Tia, this is the absolute most important part. We need you two to really work the crowd. Flirt, tease, cajole, taunt–whatever it takes to get them fired up for your performance, and gets them to donate more. Millie and I will follow you and collect. I even have a little prize for whichever of you generates more.”
“You know how to inspire, Honeydew! I daresay you can declare me the winner here and now.”
“Wait a minute.” Tia said defiantly. “You expect us to go out there in these see through dresses and ‘work the crowd?’ Flaunt my body for tips? You’re dreaming, princess.”
“Oh, come now Hot-Tits!” Prim grinned. “You have a delightful body, and you should flaunt it proudly. Besides, this is for charity…we have an obligation to bring joy to these fine citizens. Not to mention…” Prim shot a sideways glance at Evie. “I suspect a little humiliation plays into Honeydew Sparkles’ plan for some payback. We do owe her for that.”
“Why does she keep calling you that, Evie?” Millie asked quizzically.
“I’ll tell you later, sweetie,” Evie whispered with a wink.
“Ha!” Prim cried. “And after that, Millistripes, I shall tell you all the saucy details she is sure to leave out!”
“Not the time, Prim,” Tia hissed.
“AAAAnyway,” Evie cut it. “Tia, the important thing is to get the patrons to give you more donations than they give Prim. If you believe scowls and insults will get you the prize, be my guest. I’ll follow you, while Millie follows Prim. Are we ready?”
Prim, of course, was a natural: chatting animatedly, hopping in patrons’ laps, stroking chins and placing kisses on foreheads. When someone was a little stingy with tips, she didn’t hesitate to call them out with some good-natured ribbing. She even got flirty while handing out the paddles, occasionally giving herself a light tap on her exquisite backside with them.
Millie followed behind, wide-eyed and blushing at Prim’s exuberant display. She made notes on her clipboard as she collected money.
Tia began a little more subdued, of course: she quickly realized that snarling at anyone who stared at her translucent dress or shaking them down for more money wasn’t working, and she began to play the game a little better.
When she caught Evie grinning at her genuine attempts to flirt and sweet-talk, she gave a sheepish shrug. “What? I’ve been traveling with Prim for years. I learned a few things.”
When they had worked their way through the entire crowd and returned to the stage, Evie again called for the crowd’s attention.
“Now then, to begin the auction!” She called out. She nodded to Millie, who emerged from behind the curtain pushing a wooden pillory across the stage. This generated yet another round of cheers from the crowd as Millie positioned it sideways to the crowd.
“You’re auctioning off a pillory?” Tia laughed. “Kinky crowd.”
“You have no idea,” Evie grinned as she opened the clasp holding the top down. “But I’d appreciate it, Tia, if you’d show the crowd how this works.”
“By sticking you in it, princess? Of course!” Tia shot back.
“Not this time, Tia. At least I don’t have a crop in hand, do I?” She held the top open, waiting.
Tia grimaced, remembering all the swats she’d given Honeydew Sparkles. She sighed, and placed her neck and wrists into the pillory’s slots. She winced at the thud of the bar closing.
“Hey! What about me?” Prim demanded. It was hard to tell if she was joking.
“Coming!” Millie said, hurriedly pushing a second pillory into place. “Sorry, these are heavy!” She moved it to center stage and turned it so it was facing Tia.
Tia looked from Millie to Prim to Evie to the crowd, before realization struck. “Prim! Don’t!”
“Hush, now, Hot-Tits! I shall not stand idly by while you enjoy all the fun and attention.”
“NO!” Tia roared as the crossbar lowered into place over Prim’s neck and wrists. “I don’t think your performance is what you think it is!” She pushed up at her own crossbar, but Evie had already closed the hasp and secured it with the click of a padlock.
“Ohhh…” Prim said as she looked out at the audience. She saw the audience looking back up at her. Saw the grins on their faces. Saw the paddles each held in their hands. “Uh oh….”
She looked up at Evie smirking down at her. “Honeydew, are you telling me there is not really to be an auction? I am disappointed. I was hoping you would let me be the barker.”
“Oh there was an auction,” Evie replied. “Yesterday. The bidding was for who got to go first.”
Evie moved around behind her and slid the hem of Prim’s dress up to her waist. She took her time, letting her fingernails first trace over Prim’s backside, then letting her fingers wander a little more. She pointedly tapped at the same spot she’d found Prim’s name on her own flesh.
“They’re not exaggerating when they say your ass is exquisite,” Evie cooed. “I’m jealous.”
“So then what were you writing numbers on the paddles for, princess?” Tia asked. “And why were you collecting money?”
“Oh those. Those were the number of swats each was paying for. I must say, you two did a fantastic job stirring up the crowd. We collected twice as much as expected!”
Tia groaned. “Aw, damn…well at least I didn’t stick to scowls and threats.”
Prim remained undaunted. “Cheer up, Hot Tits! This will be just like a night with Ol’ Spanky!” She paused thoughtfully. “Though usually I’ve had more ale before it starts.”
“That’s why I’m here!” Millie chirped happily. “I get to be Nurse Millie tonight and make sure your bums don’t get too hurt.” She then frowned. “But Evie wouldn’t let me wear my nurse outfit. Said I might ruin the surprise.”
“You can wear it later tonight,” Evie reassured her with a wink, making Millie perk up again.
Evie turned back to the crowd…”Now then, who had #1?”
A portly man in a poorly made suit stood and strode to the stage, beaming proudly. He didn’t hesitate before choosing Prim’s side of the stage.
“Ah, yes! Mr. Swillcrafter! Welcome!” Evie said. She turned to Prim. “You recall Mr. Swillcrafter, don’t you? He was the one who booked your performance that night. He also was the owner of the tavern that burned down.”
Millie consulted her clipboard. “Mr. Swillcrafter has purchased twenty swats.” she announced.
“Don’t we get bit gags to bite down on, or at least a stick or something?” Tia complained.
“Ohh, sorry Tia,” Evie smiled, looking not a bit sorry at all. “The planning committee did consider a silent auction, but decided they wanted to hear from their guests of honor.”
Tia raged and fought and swore as the paddling went on into the night. Her ankles had to be restrained after she kicked a couple patrons. Eventually, though, she lapsed into a sullen silence broken only by the occasional grunt or curse.
Prim good-naturedly embraced the inevitable. The line on her side of the stage was at least twice as long as Tia’s. She chatted with the patrons as they approached, occasionally with some teasing banter. More than once she called out, “Come now, lad, is that all you can manage? Put your legs into your swing!”
Nurse Millie bounced back and forth between the two gnomes, checking carefully how their rears were holding up to the paddling. Occasionally she would halt the line and apply a special healing cream she had brought with her.
The cooling cream immediately removed the stinging and redness. “It’s one of my own recipes I learned,” Millie said proudly. “It will make sure you don’t bruise and you’ll be right as rain and…ready for more!” She giggled.
What the healing cream couldn’t remove, however, were the memories. The quiet anticipation, the swish of air, the smacking sound of wooden paddle striking exquisite flesh, the feeling of quickly spreading warmth–those were cumulative, no matter how much cream Millie applied.
What seemed like hours later, the lines were finally gone, and the happy crowd was singing, laughing, and finishing off all the barrels of wine and ale that Evie had put on her Cryptae expense account. To be accurate, they were finishing off the second wagonload she bought.
Prim and Tia had been released from their pillories and were no worse for wear. Not physically, anyway. Mentally, they might have been just a little exhausted. And more than a little miffed at Evie still.
Tia glowered at Evie and scowled at any patrons who tried to engage her or offer her drinks. She still grabbed the drinks, of course. But she didn’t smile or offer any thanks.
Prim, however, happily chatted with the crowd around her, occasionally turning and lifting her dress to show that indeed she did not have any lingering marks on her rear. She even pretended not to notice when the same boy asked her to show him for the third time.
It wasn’t until Prim began loudly telling all who would listen about the ‘Tale of Honeydew Sparkles’ that Evie cut in and announced it was time for the grand finale of the evening.
“Nooo!” The crowd around Prim cried. “We want to hear the Honeydew Sparkles tale!”
“Later, I promise,” Prim assured them.
Evie shushed them. “I did promise I would have a prize for the gnome who generated the most in donations tonight, and to no one’s surprise, Prim was the winner.”
The crowd cheered, and Prim curtsied and did a little pirouette. Tia gave a halfhearted cheer and stuck out her tongue.
“Millie, if you will please raise the curtain, let’s show Prim her prize.” Evie called out.
The curtain rose to reveal an artist’s conception of the replacement auditorium, museum and school to be built nearby. It was a grand structure, surely the largest and most impressive of its kind.
A banner at the top declared it to be the “Primpiphi Piltrum Stannumshard Center for the Performing Arts.”
For the first time in recent memory, Prim found herself speechless. Only for a moment, but still, it was noteworthy.
“For me? I am…so touched! So flattered! So…deserv…honored!” She beamed at the crowd, then turned back to the banner. “And what is that little building to the side?”
“Oh, that!” Millie exclaimed. “That is the Tia Wildleaf School of Combat and Bodyguard Training.” She grinned at Tia. “Every talented performer needs someone to watch her back.”
The crowd roared with applause again, and then began chanting, “Prim, Prim, Prim!”
Prim gave them a happy wave, and called out “Yes, yes, of course I will perform for you. I have one thing I must do first.”
She strode over to Evie and gave her a hug. “Was it your idea to name it after me?”
“Yes, I did. It was actually very easy to convince them.”
“Really?” Prim’s eyes lit up even more.
“Well yes. I told them putting your name on it is the surest form of fire protection there is.”
Prim laughed. “I refuse to be insulted by that. And besides,” she said as she skipped away. “I have an adoring crowd to entertain.”
The singing and dancing went on long into the night. Evie had to borrow some gold from her guard detail for a third wagon of ale, wine and spirits. She also told them to be on alert in case anyone got rowdy or caused trouble. “Besides Prim, I mean,” she added.
Prim played her fiddle and danced and leapt from tabletop to tabletop. Evie winced, but Prim gracefully avoided all the candles that illuminated the cheering patrons around each. The night had turned out to be a great success, raising much more than their goal.
And, as a bonus, Evie was happy to have gotten some measure of revenge on Prim and Tia. Looking at Prim’s joyful face, she was pretty sure she’d evened the score without going over the top.
Then she glanced over at Tia, who immediately scowled back. Then her features softened for a moment. “Nicely done,” she said, nodding toward where Prim was prancing and spinning. “You made her happy.”
“Thank you, Tia, that was nice of you to say.” Evie smiled and started toward her, arms extended for an embrace.
Tia held up her hand. “Don’t get mushy, princess. I swatted you precisely twelve times with that crop. Do you have any idea how many swats I got tonight?”
“Well, no…not precisely, but…”
“I do.” Tia scowled again, then turned back to watch Prim without another word.
Prim caught sight of Tia watching her, and waved her up on stage to join her. Tia shook her head, but that just made Prim wave more insistently.
“I don’t think she’s going to take no for an answer,” Millie told her.
Tia grudgingly got up and joined Prim at the center of the stage. Prim slid her left arm under Tia’s left and locked elbows, then began turning around her. Tia grinned and stepped along with her, their intertwined elbows spinning them in a tight circle. Faster and faster they spun, with Prim’s nimble toes skittering around while Tia shuffled as fast as she could.
“Ok, Hot-Tits, I’m going to spin you out,” Prim shouted above the cheers.
“No! I’m barely keeping up!”
“Are you ready? I’m going to spin you out!”
“I said no, Prim!”
“Ok, here goes!” the flame-haired gnome said, and let go of Tia’s arm.
“No!” Tia cried as she stumbled sideways, dizzy from the spinning. Her momentum carried to the back of the stage, and into the scaffolding holding the curtain.
The curtain wavered, then with a loud creak of straining wood, the scaffolding fell to one side. Right on top of one of the torches.
The curtain went up in flames with a mighty ‘whooof’ sound.
The torch fell over onto the one next to it. In slow motion, that torch fell into the next, which in turn fell onto a table, setting the tablecloths and drinks ablaze.
A man at the table panicked and grabbed the flaming tablecloth, tossing it behind him. Onto the third wagon of casks.
It’s said the resulting fireball could be seen in the next village. And that there are visible lines on the nearby ground in the shape of the trees that used to be there.
“Evie! What do we do?” Millie cried out.
Evie grabbed her hand. “We run, sweetie. Prim, Tia! Let’s go!”
The four of them bolted from the now-burning stage and headed toward the building with the dressing rooms. They passed soldiers running the other way.
“Hold off the crowd! I’ll get them to safety!” She called out. “Where are the horses?”
“The wagon is hitched and ready!” one called back.
“Alright, this way!” she called out to Prim and Tia and gave Millie’s hand a tug.
While Evie helped Mille into the back of the wagon, Millie giggled. “This is so exciting! I’ve never been a fugitive before!”
The others froze and stared at her.
“What? I don’t get out of Thorvald’s keep much.”
“Trust me, the novelty wears off quickly,” Tia grumbled as she hopped in the wagon’s bed.
Evie leapt into the drivers’ seat and cracked the reins.
As they rolled out of sight of the conflagration they’d left in their wake, Prim sighed wistfully. “Do you think they will still name it after me?”
“Not the time, Prim,” Tia hissed.