CHAPTER NINE

Mother Goose

Old Mother Goose,

When she wanted to wander,

Would ride through the air

On a very fine gander.



“Keep it safe. And keep it warm.” Father Goose’s last cryptic instructions were tossed over his shoulder to Willie as they left their own estate through one of the small, secret passages throughout the house. Mother had never ventured into them, but Father knew their ways like the back of his hand, and it had afforded them a way in and out, in spite of the guard the King had set at their front gate.

“What is in that bag?” Mother insisted knowing, but he just shook his head, taking her hand and helping her up onto the horse. They would have to go the long way around so as not to alert the King too soon, but their masks and the leash Mother was being led on would give them some cover, even after they’d entered the hall. There were always costumes and masks worn by some at court, and theirs wouldn’t cause heads to turn.

“I hate collars,” she complained as he mounted the horse behind her, and she felt him chuckle as he took the reins.

“I think you’ve gotten too used to getting the upper hand,” he teased, kissing the top of her head as he led the horse around the back, toward the woods that bordered their property. It was dark, but the moon was bright enough to give them light to see by.

“I’m a very good mistress, I’ll have you know,” she insisted, stiffening against him. “I trained quite a few new charges while you were gone.”

“So I hear.” He laughed silently, as if she wouldn’t know. “And I also hear I need new drapes, a new bedpost, and of course, lots of new clothes for my wife…” She sighed. “Well, maybe the cats were a mistake. But I was lonely…” He kissed the top of her head, urging the horse faster. “And of course, now we have to go save two slaves from their fate because you have some notion in your head that they’re in love…”

She elbowed him in the ribs, making him growl with pain, much to her satisfaction. “They are. And they deserve to be happy.”

“As happy as we are?” Father rubbed the place she’d poked him. “Damn, woman, you’ve got good aim.”

“I know,” she said smugly.

“You’re incorrigible.” He tightened his hold on her, driving the horse forward, and they both caught a sense of urgency. Mother hoped the were in time. She couldn’t imagine the King truly harming his property, but with George whispering in his ear, she wasn’t so sure. And trying to imagine that the King himself had ordered Artan killed!

That thought, still, was hard to swallow.

“How are we going to get past?” Mother whispered as they approached the gates of the King’s estate.

Father’s arm squeezed her waist. “Leave that to me.”

“Pass?” The knight who stopped them barred the way with a sword rather than a staff-they were clearly on alert.

Father’s eyes glittered behind his white feathered mask, and he reached into his cloak to pull out the medallion. “I have something the King has been looking for.”

The man’s eyes widened and he lifted his staff, stepping aside. Artan guided the horse through the gate and dismounted, helping his wife down.

“What is that thing?” Mother asked again, and Artan shrugged.

“I told you,” he replied, taking her hand and leading her toward the hall. “A key to the portal.”

“But-” Mother’s protest stuck in her throat as they entered the room. Jill was chained up, completely nude, in the archway that Hump had occupied the other night.

She was alone, suspended forward by her chains, arms behind her, feet manacled close to the brick. It had to hurt and Mother moaned in sympathy.

Jack, however, had fared worse. He was suspended nude by chains above a chandelier, the candles all lit, glowing brightly. Six men held the ends of the chains, and as the King called out, “Lower!” the crowd cheered, “Lower! Lower!” and they nudged the youth down a notch, closer and closer to the flames. The worst was the cock ring, a thick band of leather wrapped around the base of the boy’s not inconsiderable member, forcing him to maintain his erection. It would reach the fire before any other part of him, she gauged.

“He doesn’t mean to let him-” Mother whispered, hearing yet another cry, this time from George, who sat at the right of the King, of “Lower!”

“I believe he does,” Father Goose replied, his mouth drawn into a thin line as he glanced up a their young charge. Jack was close enough that the front of him glowed red from the heat of the flames, and he arched away as far as he could in response, in spite of the strain it must have been on his muscles.

“Interlopers!” George’s shriek filled the hall, and Mother gasped, taking an instinctive step toward her husband. “He has the Keeper’s Jewel I warned you of! Look, around his neck!”

King Cole’s gaze found them as he stood, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that he’d seen the medallion. Artan had left it around his neck and exposed, the glittering black jewel in the center like the eye of a crow.

“They’re from the other side! They came through the portal with the medallion!” George insisted. “Men! Seize them!”

Artan stepped forward, pulling off his mask and bowing in King Cole’s direction.

“Your majesty, I am returned.” A gasp of recognition echoed through the hall. “Has it been so long, then, that Georgie Porgie now gives the orders here?” The King held up his hand to his men, his gaze moving to Mother, who pulled her own feathered white mask off to reveal her visage.

“I’ve come to claim what is rightfully mine.” Father Goose held the medallion high, turning toward the crowd so they could see as well.

“It doesn’t belong to him!” George’s shriek, the stamping of his foot, drew little attention.

“It belongs to me, and my line before me!” Artan turned back to King Cole. “It belongs to my wife, my family, and all my children who come after us.” The Queen of Hearts stood beside her husband, her hand at her throat, her face perplexed. “It is our freedom, to fly where we choose, in this world, or in others.”

“What is this jewel?” King Cole frowned. “Is it true, as George has said, that it opens the portal?”

Father Goose gave him a brief nod. “This, and all portals. We are the guardians of the gate. It has always been so with our kind, until it was stolen from us generations ago. We know not by whom.”

“No!” George, frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the King’s men, reached for a sword and wrestled one free. It was too heavy for the man, but he struggled forward with it, determined. “You do not deserve it! It’s mine! Give it to me!” His eyes moved toward Mother, who stood staring at her husband, as stunned by his revelations as the rest of them. “Give her to me!” Father Goose disarmed him with one swift twist of the man’s wrist, but his more impressive move, the one that made the crowd gasp in shock and awe, was the shrugging off of his cloak, and the impossible sprouting of two enormous white wings from his now-bare shoulder blades. No one had ever seen him in his real form before except Mother herself, and even she was taken over by the shock of it.

“Men!” King Cole seemed to come to life in that moment. “Seize him!’

“Finally!” George panted, trying to shake the giant bird-man’s hold on him, but was unable.

“Not that one!” The King shook his head as the knights moved toward Father Goose. “The other-the little fat treasonous liar who has been feeding me poison in my ear for months!”

“No!” George wailed as the King’s men grabbed onto him, but his struggles were no match. They hauled him quickly from the room, leaving a stunned silence that all of them felt quite deeply.

“I remember the stories.” King Cole stepped forward, his face reddened, his demeanor apologetic. “My grandmother’s grandmother told her, even wrote some of them down. Your kind was always welcome here.”

Father Goose inclined his head at the man. “Now we are to be hunted and killed and denied passage between worlds, then?”

“I apologize. I was misinformed.” The King flushed. “You are free.”

“Yes, we are.” Artan reached his hand back for his wife, and Mother went to him.

He glanced down, smiling at her, and whispered, “Reveal yourself.”

“No…” She shook her head, glancing around the room. To do so, here, in front of everyone? But his eyes commanded her, and she took a deep breath, throwing off her own cloak and slowly unveiling her own set of white wings to the gasping amazement of the rest of the hall.

“Father and Mother Goose, indeed.” The Queen of Hearts stepped forward, smiling. “Welcome home.”

“Now, I’d like you to release my charges.” Artan glanced up at the ceiling. “I would like to take them home, and then I will set them free.”

“Free?” The King raised his eyebrows, and Father Goose fixed him with a long, challenging stare. The rotund man cleared his throat and shrugged. “Well…of course.

You’re free to do what you wish with them.”

Artan’s huge wings flapped slowly, pushing him aloft, and he rose to the young woman still hanging off the precipice of the arch. Jill groaned when he snapped her chains-his strength was incredible in his current form-and collapsed into his arms.

Mother rose above the flames of the chandelier to unfasten Jack, careful with the leather strap around his cock as well, releasing the pressure gradually, making him groan with both pleasure and pain.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered as she floated them back down to the ground, and she smiled, kissing his cheek.

“Time to go home, little one,” she murmured, looking over at her husband. He nodded, folding his wings up tight as he carried the girl from the hall, out into the bright moonlight of the courtyard. His wife followed him, carrying her own charge, and then together, Mother and Father Goose spread their wings wide and flew toward home.

* * *

He had her suspended by the strong muscles of her wings, spread wide, white down splayed, her toes barely touching the floor. And he was torturing her. Slow, sweet, aching torture, the sort her body had remembered and longed for. Artan slipped the crop between her newly shaved pussy lips-she couldn’t believe how sensitive she was there now, the exposure making her feel swollen and ready all the time-his breath hot in her ear.

“Have you had enough, love?”

She gasped as the crop, the tip now wet, slapped the side of her hip, leaving an immediate red mark.

“Never.”

He chuckled, his gaze searching her face, flushed and hot, gauging her readiness.

“What if I told you I couldn’t stand another moment?” he asked, the crop following the curve of her waist upward, dipping under her breast, over her nipple, clamped and chained to its pair.

Mother smirked, her eyes bright. “I win.”

Father Goose gave a low growl, slipping an arm around her waist and kissing her hard, his tongue plunging deep, making her moan. His cock pressed her belly and she ground her hips forward, her pussy searching, but he moved back just enough to keep it out of her reach.

“Who wins?” he murmured, waving Molly back. The cat woman had lifted her head protectively at the sound of his growl, stalking forward to make sure her mistress wasn’t being harmed. Seeing their play, hearing Mother’s moan, Molly stretched, yawned, and curled back up in the chair.

“We do.” Mother gasped as he knelt before her, plunging his tongue between the soft, smooth lips of her pussy. She moaned, grabbing his hair-her hands were free, as she was restrained only by her wings-and pressing him against her mound. “Ohhh Artan…”

His tongue lashed at her clit, his fingers probing deeply into her wetness. She felt as if she’d waited forever for this, and his giving was the best gift. Her whole body trembled with her desire, her wings shaking and straining against her bonds as she spread herself wider for the soft press of his tongue.

“Who’s your master?” He stopped, shoving her hips back against the wall, making her gasp. “Tell me, Maren. Who do you belong to?”

“You,” she breathed, her fingers lost in his dark curls. “It was always you. It has ever been.”

His mouth fastened itself between her legs, sucking and licking with a fierce persistence that sent her flying-it was better than flying. When he tugged gently on the chain fastened between her nipples, pulling off first one clamp and then the next, she moaned and let him take her climax, grateful for her bonds as she bucked and shuddered, the hot, wet heat between her thighs pulsing against his tongue again and again.

She panted, gasping, unable to hold herself up, and he stood to support her, unlocking her manacles and letting her fall into his arms, folding her into the soft press of his wings. He took her that way, wrapped in a safe cocoon, to their bed, pulling her onto him and positioning her poised above the aching throb of his cock.

“Ahhhh Maren,” he groaned as she slid him inside of her, rocking on him, her hips moving back and forth, shifting his cock deep. She rode him that way, looking down at his wings spread, now, on the mattress, and he gripped her grinding hips as she balanced herself with her hands against his broad, strong chest. His eyes half closed in anticipation of his ultimate pleasure, letting her take him there, push him toward the edge with every shift of her body.

She’d waited so long, through hours of his sweet torture, that her body reached its peak again first, her wings spread wide as she came, her dark hair falling in contrasting midnight waves as her head went back, eyes closing. He grabbed her aching breasts, squeezing, tugging, thrusting himself up hard into her spasming wetness.

“Maren!” He called her name again as his orgasm overtook him, the heat of it filling her throbbing pussy. She moaned and collapsed against his chest, and he wrapped her up again in his arms, both sets of their wings spread wide, their tips touching as they kissed themselves back to earth.

Mother rolled off him finally, folding herself up beside him, and he tucked her head under his chin with a happy sigh, his eyes closing. “Nap time.”

“Molly seems to think so,” Mother replied with a laugh as the cat woman snuck up onto the bed and curled her soft self against Mother’s side. She was the only one they had kept. The other two had been too excitable when either of them had changed from human to bird form. Molly was the only one who, while interested in the transformation, didn’t act as if they were dinner. Old King Cole had been happy to add them to his cat folk collection, and Mother knew they were happy there, with much more room to roam.

“Jill will be over in less than an hour,” Mother smiled at her husband’s almost-snore as he woke himself up at her words. “They’re so happy down the hill, in that house that Jack built. I would expect we’ll have little redhaired babies running around some time next year.”

“Mmm,” Father agreed, not opening his eyes. “Less than an hour, huh?”

“You and Molly can take a catnap,” Mother said indulgently, rubbing her cheek against his bare chest. “I’ll entertain Jill.”

“Tempting.” He smiled, pulling her closer as she tried to move away. “But I prefer birds to cats.”

“Mother!” The sound of Willie’s voice startled them both and Mother sat up, glancing down to see the little man carrying the large nest they’d made for the precious thing Artan had brought home with him-the golden egg, she saw, was cracked along one side, an entirely new development.

“Is it time?” she gasped as Father sat up beside her.

“I’ve been sitting on it long enough,” Willie grumbled, watching at the egg shook and trembled. “Very undignified.”

“You’ve done a wonderful job, precious.” Mother smiled, kneeling down before the wooden, down-filled box, glancing up at her husband. “You know, if it was ever revealed that it’s the men of our species are the ones who lay the eggs…” Artan gave her a black look. “Do you think I’m so unsure of my masculine nature? Or shall I strap you to the wall again?”

Mother chuckled, running her hand over the fragile surface of the egg. “And all that time, I thought I just couldn’t get pregnant…”

“Mother! Look!” Willie was excited, in spite of his annoyance at being appointed temporary mother-hen, and even Molly peered over the side of the bed to watch the hatching. It was the tip of the wet wings, with their sharp, taloned edges, that were sharp enough to break through the surface, and they all watched, fascinated, as their offspring emerged.

“She’s beautiful,” Mother whispered, tears stinging her eyes as she lifted the naked, wet human baby, who didn’t cry but rather crowed in her mother’s arms. Father Goose looked proudly over his wife’s shoulder at the bundle of flesh and feathers cradled in her arms.

“Just like her mother,” Artan whispered, kissing Maren’s cheek. “Sweet little bird.”

“Now you really are a Mother… Goose.” Blue spoke from the doorway, leaning there with a huge grin spread across his face. He had brought Jill up behind him, and Jack had come too. They poked their heads past the big man to see.

“The baby’s here!” Jill squealed in delight.

Mother Goose kissed the drying forehead of her daughter, looking up at her husband through a prism of tears. “And you’re a father.”

“I’ve never been happier or prouder to be anything.” Artan unhooked the medallion from around his neck, dangling in front of his newborn daughter. The child’s hands waved, batting at it. “I suppose it will be a while before she can wear this.”

“A while, yes.” Mother smiled. “But she will fly free with us.”

“Yes.” Father nodded, kissing first his baby, and then his wife, echoing the sentiment as he put the medallion back on, glancing around at the smiling members of their make-shift family gathered around them. “Free. Wherever we decide to go.”

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