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The Secrets of Shackleton Grange
  • Author - Steve Spandex  
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  • Site Rank - 193 of 2658
  • Unique Views - 49338
  • Story Codes - F-f, non-consensual, bondage, kidnapping
  • Post Date - 8/21/2016
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Author's Note: Deep in the heart of rural Suffolk sits a secluded mansion house; the subject of numerous rumours and tales of strange goings-on.

Into this environment, three women are drawn. They have never met, but their paths are destined to converge, and their lives become inextricably entangled with...The Secrets of Shackleton Grange....

Chapter 1 - Cathy The Cat Burglar

Cathy scaled the perimeter wall and momentarily sat atop the high brick structure. Her eyes swiftly scanned the landscape in front of her; no trace of guard dogs roaming the overgrown lawns, no sign of security personnel or movement sensitive lighting. In fact, aside from the wall and the securely locked wrought iron gates, there was very little sign of there being any preventative measures having been put in place to deter trespassers from getting into the grounds. Her gaze drifted further afield, towards the mansion house about one hundred yards in front of her. The rambling old building, with its Tudor architecture, had seen better days, but was still quite impressive, even when viewed in twilight. How many rooms were there? There must be at least a hundred, Cathy guessed, taking into account the towers that rose at each corner above the main body of the building. Although not visible from this angle, Cathy knew - having cased the joint carefully over the past few weeks - that the house was actually built in the shape of a U, with the two arms, or wings, creating a vast courtyard at the rear. Adjacent to this, a number of outhouses, including a stable block, had been added at a later date. Set in more than a hundred acres of mainly wooded countryside, deep in the heart of rural Suffolk and more than a mile from the nearest village, Shackleton Grange retained an air of mystery about it. At one time the rural retreat of an aristocrat or lord of the realm, the present owners kept themselves to themselves and were rarely seen, even by the local populace. In fact, no one really seemed to know who lived here. But whoever they were, they must be extremely rich, Cathy reasoned, to be able to have bought, and then maintain, such a vast estate. And it was this wealth that had acted as an incentive for her coming here tonight.

The tree lined driveway up to the house could be seen away to Cathy's left, which gave way to a circular gravel-covered forecourt just in front of the main entrance, with a long disused fountain as its centrepiece, plus several ancient statues seemingly standing on sentry duty before the heavy wooden doorway. In the moonlight, these appeared grotesque and ghostlike. The only lights in the building emanated from two ground floor windows on the far left hand side of the house. All other windows, both at this level and on the three storeys above, were merely black rectangles against a slightly lighter background of stone.

For some reason Cathy shivered. It wasn't as if the night was cold; in fact the air still retained much of the sun's heat from what had been a pleasant late spring day. So why the involuntary shudder? It couldn't be that she was nervous about breaking into country houses under the cover of darkness. After all, she'd done it often enough. Shrugging off this strange, fleeting sensation, Cathy returned her attention to the task in hand; namely to get into the building, acquire whatever valuables she could lay her hands on, then take her leave before anyone realised that she had ever been on the premises.

Dropping the eight feet or so to the ground, Cathy rolled over and quickly sprung to her feet. She looked left and right, but detected no movement in the bushes and shrubs other than that caused by the slight breeze. Ahead of her was a wide, unbroken vista of long grass, which she would have to negotiate to reach her goal. With no cover to shield her from the view of anyone who happened to look out of one of the numerous windows directly in front of her, Cathy knew that this part of her plan was the most dangerous. Swiftly, the lithe twenty four year old sprinted across the uneven terrain, until she was once more sheltered from the moon's illumination in the shadows of the walls that towered above her.

As always on her missions to relieve the rich of their wealth, Cathy was attired in her best cat burglar outfit. This consisted of a snugly fitting black spandex cat-suit, footed and gloved, which formed a skin-tight covering from her neck downwards. A hood of the same hue and material completely covered her head, except for the small apertures cut out for her eyes, nostrils and mouth. Around her waist, Cathy wore a stout leather belt, into which she could lodge her torch and some of the smaller of her house-breaking tools. Also of leather were the flat soled, knee length boots that she wore. The only other accessory to this all black ensemble was the rucksack she carried, which not only held the tools of her trade, but also served as a convenient carrier for the jewellery, silverware, cash and various other items of value which she habitually acquired on such ventures.

For several seconds, Cathy remained motionless in the lee of the wall; staring upwards and watching for any lights or movement in the windows above. The fact that all was still, drew her to the conclusion that she had not been spotted thus far in her journey. Taking the small torch from her belt, she shone this up at the darkened panes above her, until she thought she spied a gap between glass and frame in the corner of one first-storey window; a mere sliver which suggested that this particular casement hadn't been closed properly. Without hesitation, she began to look for a way to scale the walls up to this potential point of entry. It didn't take long to locate what she sought; a stout drainage pipe that disappeared into the darkness above her only a few feet to the right of her intended goal. Giving the ancient structure a thorough examination, to ensure that it was sturdy enough to take her weight, Cathy began to climb with the agility of the creature that gave its name to her profession - the cat. The clinging nature of her garments was of vital importance in this respect, as any clothing that could snag and tear in a situation like this would have been both a hindrance and a danger.

Within seconds, Cathy had reached the level of the first floor, and had begun inching her way horizontally across the face of the wall; dicing with death as she attempted to find foot and handholds in the crumbling brickwork. After a minute or two of intense concentration, however, she reached the window that she'd singled out as being her best chance to effect an entrance. And to her great satisfaction, she discovered that she'd been correct in her prognosis; the window had been left slightly ajar, and could easily be opened without the need to defer to her vast array of blades and picks that she normally needed to gain access.

Being of great vintage, the hinges on the window squeaked loudly as Cathy slowly pulled it open. For a second or two, she held her breath, listening intently in case this disturbance of the clear night air had alerted someone to her presence on this precarious ledge. No sound reached her spandex covered ears, however; either from within the building, or from the hushed gardens below.

Now that she was so close to the window, Cathy deduced that the opening was actually not quite as large as she'd initially assumed when viewed from below. However, being slim and flexible, she began by inserting her arms into the slender gap, before pulling herself upwards and wriggling her way through the tight aperture with a minimum of fuss.

Once inside, Cathy shone the thin beam of the torch around what was clearly a bedroom. The fact that a half unpacked suitcase lay open on the floor, with clothes and various other items strewn haphazardly around, led her to the conclusion that this was probably a guest room. Of the visitor, however, there was no sign. Cathy quickly checked the wardrobe, the chest of drawers and the bedside cabinet. All were empty. Following a quick rummage through the contents of the suitcase, and finding nothing of any real value, she decided that she was wasting her time in this room, and that richer pickings were surely to be had elsewhere in the house.

The door creaked alarmingly as Cathy cautiously opened it far enough to stick her head out and make a quick reconnaissance of the corridor that led off in both directions as far as the eye could see into the murky unlit gloom. Still no sound of human presence reached her ears, which was always a good sign. So which way now, left or right? For no particular reason, Cathy chose left.

Cautiously trying the handle of the first door she encountered on her right, Cathy discovered this room to be locked. So was the second door along, as well as the one directly opposite on the other side of the passage. She was just considering whether she had perhaps made the wrong decision in coming in this direction, when a very faint disturbance of the otherwise deathly still surroundings reached her ears. Cathy froze and listened. For several seconds there was only silence, and she was beginning to think that she had been hearing things. But suddenly there it was again; a low 'mmph' noise which suggested that someone was straining in frustration in their endeavour to achieve some task that was beyond their capabilities. Several more seconds elapsed, before the performance was replicated, only this time it sounded more like a long drawn out groan, as if someone was in pain or distress. And it was this latest outburst which allowed Cathy to pinpoint the source of the sound as coming from the next room along on the right from where she stood.

Cathy had several dos and don'ts which she always abided by when she was on a job, and one of them was not to get too curious about, or involved in, matters that didn't concern her. However, this strange noise had her intrigued. Placing her ear close to the door, she waited for the sound to be repeated. She didn't have long to wait, as the low wailing seemed to come now at regular intervals. Cathy reached for the handle, then baulked at the idea of trying to enter. Whoever or whatever was responsible for the commotion within, it was none of her business. But on the other hand, what if someone was in trouble - ill or injured perhaps - and really did need help? Cathy pushed down on the handle, finding this door to be unopenable, just like all the others. However, the illuminating finger of light from her torch caught a glint of something metallic just below her fingers, and she realised immediately that there was a key in the lock.

Another stifled groan, this one louder than those that had preceded it, reverberated around the otherwise still corridor, just as Cathy turned the key and - with some trepidation - slowly pushed the door open. She found the interior shrouded in a cloak of darkness. Quickly scanning the torch beam around the walls, Cathy discovered that this room, like the one through which she'd entered the house, was also furnished as a bedroom; the total lack of light being a consequence of the blackout curtains that had been drawn shut across the window. She quickly deduced, however, that there was no one visible in the room. So where did the sounds originate from exactly?

The next outburst left Cathy in no doubt as to its source; a stout oak- panelled wardrobe that stood against the wall on the left hand side of the room. Swinging the torch beam in this direction, Cathy began to approach.

"Hello? Is anyone there?"

For a brief moment, her whispered words seemed to bring the whimpering sound to an abrupt halt. But then it started up again, this time with more gusto, and coincided with the sound of dull thuds, as if someone was kicking against the wood of the wardrobe door in an effort to get out. Once again, Cathy hesitated. What on earth had she stumbled upon here? Should she investigate, to find out exactly what was going on? Or should she -as her gut instinct was telling her - leave now; get out of the building before she became embroiled in something that she hadn't bargained for? But what if whoever was in that wardrobe really was in mortal danger? Although she was a burglar, who made her living from stealing other peoples' possessions, deep down Cathy considered herself a decent human being, who would do anything to come to the aid of someone in need of assistance.

The light from the torch revealed a small key sticking out from the wardrobe door, which Cathy gingerly turned, not daring to contemplate what she might find. It seemed almost mandatory that every hinge on every door in this ancient house creaked on being opened, and this one proved to be no exception. The upper part of the enclosed space, where clothes would normally be hung, was devoid of garments, but immediately Cathy's attention was drawn to the floor area. And there, tightly packed into the confined space at her feet, sat a young woman who squinted into the unfamiliar brightness of the torch beam. Open mouthed, Cathy surveyed the scene before her. The woman, probably around her own age, was clearly bound tightly with numerous lengths of rope. Dressed in what looked like a skin-tight latex cat-suit, her ankles, knees and thighs all had coils of stringently tied cords wrapped and cinched around them. Her body was also encircled in a strict latticework of brutally secured ropes that dug deeply into her outfit and served to highlight her breasts. Only the uppermost parts of her arms were visible, but it was apparent, from the manner in which her shoulders were pulled backwards with the rest of her arms shielded from view behind her back, that her wrists must also have succumbed to some form of restraint. The lower half of her face was smothered in broad strips of grey duct tape, which seemed to have been wound around her head several times. And it was obvious, from the startled sounds that now emanated from behind this layer of sealant, that her mouth must also be packed with some form of gagging material. Having accustomed herself to the piercing glare of the light, the woman gazed upwards at her discoverer, wide eyed and with a look of bewilderment on her face; which, at the time, Cathy assumed to be a response to the spandex covering of her own facial features.

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Cathy's mind was reeling. Who was this girl? Why was she being kept like this? Were the people responsible for her kidnapping still around? All three questions were soon to be answered.

"Well well, what have we here?"

The sound of the woman's voice corresponded with the overhead light suddenly illuminating the room. Cathy spun around to see a red leather cat-suited figure standing in the doorway; legs apart, arms akimbo. Behind her, in the still dimly lit corridor, other shadowy figures could be seen loitering. The woman - probably in her early thirties, tall and slim, with long brunette hair - moved two further steps into the room. She stared at Cathy for a second or two, before turning to address her cohorts, who had by now filed in behind her.

"It looks like we have an intruder on the premise girls. Isn't that fortuitous?"

Cathy could now see that there were three other woman behind the speaker, all of whom were dressed from neck to toe in skin-tight outfits fashioned from latex. Each of the three wore a snugly fitting leather hood over her head, with an opening at the top through which a plume of hair cascaded. There was also an opening for each eye, plus a breathing aperture at the nostrils. No outlet was evident in the region of the mouth, however. High heeled, knee-length leather boots adorned their feet and legs.

One of the trio wore a jet black outfit that had been polished to a shine and adhered to every curve of her figure. A mane of red hair gushed forth from the top of her hood. The next was attired in a metallic silver cat-suit, equally tight fitting; her raven-black hair in stark contrast to her costume. The third, whose blonde locks spilt from her hood and tumbled half way down her back, wore a second skin of shocking pink that shimmered in the light every time she moved.

The first woman - obviously the leader of the pack - slowly made her way forwards, and Cathy noticed a slight smile on her face. It was not a smile that radiated any great warmth, however, but seemed to be the cunning or devious expression of someone who had just unexpectedly happened upon a situation that could now be used to her advantage.

"So, not only do you break into my house, but then you start to interfere with my other guests? That calls for some form of punishment, don't you think girls?"

To Cathy's amazement, muffled mumbling sounds issued forth from behind the leather hoods, and it was suddenly obvious that the three assistants had stuffing packed into their mouths to inhibit coherent speech. Although none of them were bound in any way, Cathy noticed a small padlock in the neck region of each of the hoods, and realised that taking the hoods off was not an option open to these three females at present. The noises they did make, however, seemed to answer their leader's question in the affirmative.

"What about you, Chantelle? Do you think that your would-be rescuer here should be subject to disciplinary measures of some description?"

Chantelle - the woman in the wardrobe - nodded, although Cathy wasn't sure that this was because she really meant it, or whether she thought this was the answer that was expected of her, and the one that would cause her the least grief.

"So, I think we're all agreed then."

The woman turned to her companions.

"You know what to do girls. Go get her!"

Cathy, who had been rooted to the spot since her discovery here, was suddenly spurred into action by the sight of the three hooded women - all taller than herself - coming towards her. With her passage to the door blocked, she darted towards the only other possible exit. Unfortunately, she was dismayed to find that her intended escape via the window was not feasible, as the tearing back of the curtains revealed an impassable barrier of sturdy steel bars between herself and the glass panes. From behind her, she heard the group's leader laugh harshly.

"It's no good, you can't get out of here. If you want my advice, the best thing you can do is give up and accept your fate."

The three women were upon her now, one grabbing her by the shoulders, another grasping her around the waist, whilst the third went for her legs. Despite her failure to comply with the woman's recommendation - her desperate attempts to kick out and fend off her three assailants, plus her unheeded demand to 'get your hands off me!', having no effect whatsoever - within no more than ten seconds she found herself being wrestled to the floor and the belt around her waist being unbuckled and discarded.

Due to the frantic nature of her bid to stay out of the clutches of these women, it wasn't until Cathy had been well and truly overpowered and was lying prostrate on the floor, with two of the women holding her there, that it became apparent exactly what was in store for her now. She had noticed when they'd first entered the room, that the one of the women - the redhead whose super-tight shiny black outfit glistened in the light - carried a garment of some description in her hands, but at the time its precise size and purpose had seemed of little importance. Now however, from her prone position, she watched as this garment was unfurled to its full extent. It was, she could tell, made of soft black leather and had long sleeves. But what alerted her to the true nature of this item of clothing, were the straps and buckles that hung loosely from the area of the sleeves where the wrist openings should have been. And there were several more straps too, attached to various other strategic areas of the garment. Cathy had seen pictures of similar apparel before and was in no doubt now what this contraption was: a straitjacket. And it was clear that she was to be the intended model for this piece of kit in the near future.

Cathy's struggles ratcheted up a notch at the sight of this article of restraint. But the women had her exactly where they wanted her, and a quick, painful yank of her arm high up behind her back, left no doubt that resistance was futile. As the woman holding the jacket came towards her, the other two manoeuvred her into a position from which they could easily force her unwilling arms into the waiting cul-de-sacs of black leather. As they went about their task, the leader began once more to speak.

"Where are my manners? I really should have introduced myself. My name is Dolores Devlin, and I am the owner of this establishment. From now on you will address me as Mistress Dolores, or just Mistress. I expect you're wondering what's going on here; why my servants here are dressed the way they are; why they're wearing those hoods etc. Well let me explain..."

She paced across the room, never taking her eyes off the still wriggling Cathy, whose arms had now been successfully inserted into the sleeves. Whilst two of the women each held onto a now encased wrist, the other pulled the main body of the straitjacket around Cathy's torso and began securing the straps at her back.

"...Shackleton Grange is home to the 'Bound And Totally Helpless' society, or BATH for short. It's an organisation that I started about six years ago and is for the benefit of women who love either being tied up, or tying up others. I hold regular events here throughout the year, and you - my dear little thief - just happened to break into my home on the day that we're commencing one of our residential 'Bondage Convention' weekends."

Cathy winced as the straps were pulled extra tightly and buckled to prevent the removal of the restrictive leather sheath from which she could no longer extricate herself. There were at least four straps at her back, from her neck down to her waist, and each had been pulled so tightly that she had no chance of breaking free. But the silent women hadn't yet finished with her. Cathy squealed as another strap, attached to the hem at the back of the jacket, was fed between her legs, pulled up as high as it would go into her crotch, then secured to its corresponding buckle on her lower abdomen. All the while, this Dolores character kept up her monologue.

"Fortunately for us - and unfortunately for you - we came in at just the right time and caught you in the act."

Her pacing of the room had brought her over to the wardrobe, where the helplessly bound Chantelle still sat, watching the unfolding drama in wide eyed wonderment.

"You see, Chantelle here has been a naughty girl. She said she wanted to get an early night and didn't feel like joining in with the festivities that are currently taking place downstairs. So I thought to myself 'if Chantelle wants an early night, then let's make sure it's one she won't forget in a hurry'. And that's the reason she's here; to teach her that non-participation is not an option when you come to Shackleton Grange. We were just about to change her into the straitjacket for the night, but now that we've found another purpose for it, I guess she'll have to make do with the handcuffs and ropes she's already enjoying."

Without warning, Dolores slammed the wardrobe door shut and swiftly turned the key in the lock. A surprised and stifled whimper could briefly be heard coming from the now sealed cupboard, before Chantelle - presumably realising that any form of dissent was futile - lapsed into resigned silence.

But Cathy had enough problems of her own to keep her occupied right now, without concerning herself with the welfare of others. Forcefully, the two women holding on to the sleeves of the straitjacket pulled Cathy's arms across her chest, threading her hands through a short looping strap attached to the front of the constraining outfit just below her breasts. Once both arms had been inserted through the snugly fitting gap, the helpless burglar-turned- captive found her arms being pulled tightly around to her back, where she could feel the straps being secured as tautly as her captors could get them. Cathy shrieked and tried everything within her now limited powers to free herself, but her ability to move her arms had been severely curtailed, and the fact that three pairs of hands still held her down meant that she was rooted to this particular spot on the floor.

Having locked the wardrobe, Dolores now gave her full attention to her latest prisoner. Kneeling down beside the still wriggling figure, she placed her hand on Cathy's left thigh and began stroking the tight spandex.

"I see that your attire is well suited to the sort of weekend we have planned here. Some of the girls downstairs actually favour spandex cat-suits over latex, leather or PVC, so you won't look at all out of place, especially now that you're all trussed up in that jacket. The hood looks good too, but it will have to go I'm afraid, as I'm intrigued to find out what you look like under that disguise."

At this prompt, one of Dolores' assistants began to pull the spandex covering from Cathy's hood. Despite Cathy's verbal protests, within seconds the clinging material had been removed, allowing her long flowing black hair to cascade in a tangled mass around her shoulders.

"Ah, you are a pretty little thing, aren't you? I'm sure that you'll be a most welcome addition to our little gathering."

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Dolores took her hand away from Cathy's leg and leaned forward. She reached out and gently grasped Cathy's chin.

"What's your name honey?

As someone who was habitually on the wrong side of the law, Cathy was used to giving false names. But the fact that she found herself in a situation that she had no control over was making her extremely nervous, and this manifested itself in a moment of hesitation, before she unconvincingly blurted out "Jane".

Anger flashed in Dolores' dark eyes, and it was evident straightaway that this answer hadn't been believed. Cathy suddenly found the grip on her chin tighten and sharp fingernails dig deeply into her flesh, as simultaneously one of the other women grabbed her hair and pulled violently.

"Jane? Don't give me any bullshit girl. Now tell me your real name, or I'll have no other option than to use force to the get the truth out of you."

"Cathy....my names Cathy."

The tremor in her voice must have convinced her tormentor-in- chief that she was now telling the truth, as the hand loosened its grip on her jaw, which was also a signal for her hair to be released.

"Well Cathy, nice to make your acquaintance. Now that you're here, we're going to have a lot of fun together. But first, I'll take you downstairs to meet the rest of the girls. I'm sure they'll be delighted to know that we have a new playmate joining us for the weekend."

At the realisation that she wasn't going to be released any time soon, Cathy pulled on her restraints, in a desperate attempt to somehow free herself from the tight confines of the straitjacket.

"Let me go at once! You can't just keep me here! This is kidnapping!"

A slight smile played at the corner of Dolores' lips.

"Kidnapping? Yes, you're right. But remember, we didn't invite you here. You came of your own accord. And on top of that, you broke the law by entering my property without permission. So I don't think you can really complain too much. You're guilty of breaking and entering, while I'm guilty of kidnapping. I think that makes us equal, don't you?"

The three other women were helping the severely handicapped burglar to her feet now, and Cathy's fear as to exactly what they were going to do to her could be contained no longer.


Her shrieks for assistance were both loud and piercing, but didn't seem to bother Dolores in any way.

"Scream all you like darling, no one can hear you....at least no one that's willing or able to come to your rescue. You know that we're out in the wilds here, and that there's very little chance of anyone else being in the vicinity."

She smiled her devious smile once again at the straitjacketed and spandex clad figure writhing and twisting in the grasp of the three hooded servants.

"But even so, all that caterwauling and howling is going to get on my nerves if it's allowed to continue."

She turned to her assistants.

"I think you know what's required here, don't you girls?"

It seemed that the triumvirate were indeed precisely attuned to their leader's thoughts, as without further ado a ball-gag was produced, which was swiftly and unceremoniously thrust into Cathy's mouth; one woman pinching her nose, another holding her head steady, whilst the third inserted the large rubber ball into the cavity behind her teeth. Within seconds, the strap had been secured at the rear of her head. Cathy continued to scream, but now her calls for someone to come to her aid were incomprehensible, with the volume level severely impaired.

"That's much better. Now let's go, we've left our other guests unattended for far too long already."

With Dolores leading the way, Cathy found herself being pushed and womanhandled out of the room and into the dimly lit passageway. After fifty yards or so, the party reached a spiral staircase that led to a well lit lobby below; the main entrance to the house, Cathy deduced. As she was being jostled and persuaded to descend, Cathy looked up at the paintings hanging from the walls above. Unlike most stately homes that she'd ever been in, these weren't the usual ancient, weathered portraits of former owners of the house, captured sitting staunchly upright in period clothing. Instead these works of art were of a far more recent vintage, and depicted women in almost every conceivable bondage position imaginable. The majority were clad in skin-tight rubber or leather, and most wore gags, blindfolds or hoods to accompany their strict ropes, chains or other restraints. All those whose facial features could be seen, seemed to have smiles on their faces, as if they were enjoying their enforced captivity. As they neared the foot of the stairs, Dolores turned and noticed Cathy staring upwards at the unusual canvases.

"A few of my satisfied customers" was her only remark.

As the convoy took a turn to the right, Cathy found herself being bundled down another long corridor. As they traversed this winding route, the sound of people talking - far off at first, but then gradually increasing in volume - reached her ears. The voices all seemed to be female, and were interspersed with laughter and the occasional shriek. These didn't appear to be screams of fear or distress, however, but seemed more like squeals of delight or excitement. Intermingled with the talk and the playful yelps, there was another sound that seemed to drone and murmur in the background. But it wasn't until the party reached an open doorway, and Cathy was able to view the assembled company for the first time, that she realised that this low hum and wordless mumble was due to the fact that, of all the women present - of which there must have been between twenty and thirty - at least fifty percent were gagged in some way or other, and that it was their utterances that were responsible for this muffled undertone.

The women - most of whom looked to be in their twenties or early thirties - seemed to be in pairs, with one member of each couplet being ensnared in some form of strict, seemingly inescapable bondage. Hog-ties, frog-ties, ball-ties, chair-ties and strappados were all in evidence, with rope, handcuffs, straps and tape in great abundance. One woman had even been mummified, wrapped from head to toe in grey duct tape, whilst at least two others had their arms encased in leather bondage sleeves that had been laced up behind them so strictly that their elbows almost touched. Without exception, all the women present - whether rigged or rigger - wore skin-tight outfits of latex, spandex, leather or PVC, just as Dolores had already hinted.

As the five woman procession entered the room - originally a ballroom by the looks of it - the hubbub gradually decreased as the women desisted from their tasks and gave their attention to the newcomers.

"Ladies, we have an unexpected visitor who's agreed to join our little gathering for the weekend. Her name is Cathy, and tomorrow she'll be participating in our planned activities. I'm sure you'll all want to make her feel most welcome here."

Cathy took advantage of her moment in the spotlight to try to make her true feelings about being held captive known, reasoning that at least one of the assembled females must - she hoped - have some element of decency in her, and be willing to stand up and voice her objections to keeping unwilling participants imprisoned here. But unfortunately, she was out of luck on this score. Either they didn't care about such things, or - more likely - they assumed that she was a willing contributor to their strange little games, and that her struggles were all just an act.

"Anyway, ladies, back to work now. Make sure that all your knots are secure, and you haven't given your sub any 'wiggle room'. And don't forget the old adage: 'If it's not tight, it's not right'."

Turning back towards the door, she added,

"We're going to put Cathy to bed for the night now, but we'll be back in a few minutes time, when I'll be inspecting your handiwork."

And with this, Cathy found herself being bundled out of the room and encouraged to walk down yet another dark corridor. After a few minutes, Dolores, who was once more leading the way, stopped by a heavy wooden door. Pulling the ancient, creaking structure open, Cathy gazed in horror at the narrow staircase that disappeared downwards into the blackness before her. She quickly realised that, as she'd entered the building by a first floor window, and had since already descended one flight of stairs, that whatever lay at the bottom of these stone steps must be below ground level; a cellar or - the word made her shudder with fright - a dungeon.

Digging her heels in as best she could, Cathy fought for all she was worth in her endeavour to stop herself being taken into this subterranean chamber. But of course, her parlous state ensured that she had no chance of success, and within seconds she found herself being marched brusquely down into the bowels of the earth.

The dim and totally inadequate overhead lights being switched on revealed a labyrinth of tunnels comparable with the maze of corridors above ground. Wooden doors, with small barred windows situated at eye level, could be seen on both sides of the dim passage as it disappeared into the gloom ahead. Their journey along this dank, dark corridor was short, however, as Dolores stopped by, then began to unlock, the first door they came to on the left. It took two of Dolores' underlings to slowly pull the stubbornly resistant ancient slab of oak open, leaving just one woman standing guard over their captive for a brief spell. With this task finally completed, the Mistress beckoned for Cathy to enter the unlit interior.

It was at this precise moment, that for a second or two, the hands of the woman standing behind her eased their grip on Cathy's shoulders, and she suddenly realised that, for the first time since they'd left the bedroom, that nobody was holding her. Whether this was simply a lapse in concentration on the part of her guard, or a deliberate ploy to see what action her captive might attempt, was not known. But the thought of being cooped up in this underground jail was just too terrifying to contemplate, and Cathy knew that she had to make use of what was probably the last opportunity she would be given to escape before being locked in this tiny room. Although the odds were stacked against her, with her arms of little use, Cathy suddenly bolted in the direction of the stairs. She only managed three yards or so, however, before a pair of hands grabbed her around the waist, followed by two more that grasped her shoulders and feet, before transporting her still writhing form back to where Dolores stood, impassively watching.

"Did you really think you could escape from me, Cathy? If you did, you're a bigger fool than I thought you were. How were you going to get up those steps, out of the house, through the grounds and climb over the gate with your arms trapped in that straitjacket? You weren't really thinking clearly, were you? Well, disobedience like that has to be punished."

She addressed her assistants once again.

"Tie her legs, and make sure that she can't get them loose."

From seemingly out of nowhere, each woman produced a length of rope. Within seconds, Cathy found herself being eased down onto the dirty stone floor and relieved of her boots, after which, the women began in unison to bind her legs tightly together; at her ankles and both just above and just below her knees. The tight cords bit into her flesh through the spandex, and caused Cathy to wince audibly as each bond was cinched and knotted.

"There, that should stop you moving around."

The women dragged Cathy into the tight confines of the prison cell.

"Thanks girls, you can go back upstairs and entertain our other guests now. I'll finish off down here."

And with that, the three nameless latex-clad females began their journey back up to ground level, leaving Dolores and her trembling bound detainee alone. Once the clatter of high heels had faded to nothing, the Mistress once more turned her attention to Cathy.

"Well, this has been a night I won't forget in a hurry. And I'm absolutely certain that you won't either. Just to let you know, the cellar is basically soundproof; however much you shout and scream, there's no way you'll ever be heard...That's not to say that I have any intention of removing that gag, of course. That stays in place... just for humiliation purposes."

Dolores knelt down beside the powerless woman at her feet, and Cathy noticed for the first time that she had something in her hands.

"I thought that hood you were wearing earlier suited you, so I've got a replacement here that you can have. Not quite the same as yours though, as this one...well, you'll soon see how this one differs."

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As she spoke these words, Dolores brought the black object towards her captive's face. Cathy shook her head and begged for leniency, but her pleas were ignored, and within seconds the tightly fitting item of headwear had been pulled down over the top of her head and across her face. It was obvious from the smell, that this hood, unlike her own, was manufactured from soft leather, And it also quickly became apparent that there were no holes cut out for either mouth or eyes in this latest addition to her bondage attire. Mercifully, there were two small holes situated in the vicinity of the nose area, and she was relieved to find that Dolores paid particular attention to aligning these with her nostrils. With the all-encompassing, sensory-depriving cover pulled down as far as her neck, she felt two hands smoothing the fabric down, before the whole thing tightened around her skull. Her squeal of protest was ignored, however, and soon she felt the area around her throat became taut, as the Mistress buckled and secured the whole contraption in place. Satisfied that her victim couldn't remove her new headgear, Dolores patted Cathy on the head.

"There, isn't that a nicer, more comfortable hood than the one you came here in?"

Her rhetorical question was met with a long, drawn out moan of despair from within the now immovable leather casing.

"Right, it's time I got back to my guests. We'll decide your fate in the morning."

The slamming of the cell door, the turning of the key in the lock, and the slowly waning click of high heels on echoing stone, signalled to Cathy that she was now alone. Any hopes that she might have entertained of being able to squeeze and wriggle her way out of the straitjacket, however, - now that she wasn't under constant scrutiny - were quashed in an instant. The buckles at her back had all been fastened as tightly as the fabric would allow, and the leather hugged and compressed her entire body from hips to neck. The collar of the jacket was tight to her flesh and stymied her efforts to manoeuvre her shoulders into a position from which she could slip them free. The strap across her chest prevented the movement of her arms away from her body, and therefore thwarted her efforts to extricate her arms from the enclosed sleeves, no matter how much she squirmed and stretched. The crotch strap hindered her desperate struggles to pull the whole constricting monstrosity upwards over her head. And just to add insult to injury, Cathy's valiant attempts at releasing her legs fared no better, as the ropes dug in and refused to relinquish their stranglehold.

Cathy shrieked as loudly as she could in frustration and despair. How was she ever going to get out of this mess? They couldn't keep her here forever, could they? Both questions were unanswerable, although Cathy hoped and prayed that the answer to the latter was in the negative.

But if this Mistress Dolores woman did decided not to release her, then who was going to come looking for her? Who knew where she had been intending to go tonight? And who would ever think of searching for her here? These three questions all had the same simple answer: Nobody.

Despite a desperate urge to find a way out or make contact with the outside world, there was nothing for it but to lie there on the cold stone floor and wait for her fate to be decided for her.

Chapter 2 -Kangaroo Court (added: 2016/09/12)

To say that Cathy's mind was in a state of turbulence would have been an understatement. With her future a complete unknown, the stricken woman spent a sleepless night on the hard, uncomfortable floor of her cell, with little to take her mind off the grave situation she found herself in.

In all her years of breaking and entering, she had had a few close shaves. Once or twice, the owner of the property that she had been targeting had almost caught her in the act. Once she had even been chased by an irate, shotgun wielding elderly gentleman, whose valuables she had just managed to liberate. But each time, her feline like agility and speed had been sufficient to get her out of a fix. Even when, on two occasions, the police had arrived whilst she was still at the 'scene of the crime', she'd still managed to slip away and avoid capture. This time, however, there was no getting away. Although she knew that being arrested would probably result in her being given a custodial sentence - especially if the numerous other offences she'd committed could be linked to her and taken into consideration - she began to wonder whether this might actually be a more preferable outcome than the one looming large before her now.

Cathy's extended stay in solitary confinement dragged on and on, until it seemed to her that it must be well into Saturday morning by now. She was just beginning to think that maybe she'd been forgotten about, when the sound of approaching heels reached her leather encased ears.

The key turning in the lock and the jarring sound of the reluctantly opening door were followed by the sensation of several pairs of hands working to free the ropes on her legs, after which she found herself being hoisted up into a standing position. But if Cathy thought these actions were the precursor to the removal of either the hood or the straitjacket, she was to be bitterly disappointed. In fact, her bonds were about to increase again. For a second or two, a clinking sound that could only be made by links of a metal chain brushing against each other reached her ears, before she felt something being attached to the collar region of her hood. Suddenly, without warning, her neck was yanked violently, and she had no alternative but to move forward. After having spent so long tightly bound, her legs had developed the intense tingling sensation of pins and needles, which only seemed to intensify as the circulation began to return. And this lack of feeling in her limbs was the catalyst that caused her to stumble and almost fall, as she was urged impatiently to keep up with the brisk pace set by her unseen captors.

The journey along the subterranean passage was made in silence, and soon the escorts and their prisoner were climbing the steep stone steps back up to ground level. The fact that no one had spoken to her, led Cathy to the assumption that Dolores was not amongst the party that had come to retrieve her from her place of incarceration, and this was soon confirmed when a clamour of voices became apparent from somewhere ahead of them, one of which she recognised as her host. A moment or two later, their progress came to a brief halt and the sound of an opening door coincided with the volume levels suddenly rising. But then, as she was encouraged to march forwards again, these voices abruptly ceased; indicating to Cathy that it was probably her entrance that had instigated this sudden lull in proceedings. Although she was blind, Cathy sensed that there were a lot of people present now, and that all had their eyes fixed firmly upon her.

After a few seconds, this uneasy silence was broken, as Dolores' voice boomed out, addressing her congregation.

"Right ladies, this court is now in session. Those of you able to sit, please do so."

As these words echoed around the room, Cathy felt the pressure around her temples begin to ease and the strap around her neck loosen, before the soft leather began to ride up over her face. As her eyesight returned, she squinted into the unfamiliar glare of the light, desperately trying to take in her surroundings, but finding herself temporarily blinded after so long in pitch blackness. When her vision finally returned to some semblance of normality, she was able to ascertain that she was in an oak-panelled room with a high ceiling, from which hung two large crystal chandeliers. Directly in front of her, sitting behind an old, ornately carved oak table, was Dolores. Her attire was similar in cut and design to that worn the previous evening, only now the cat-suit was black and had been polished to such an extent that it glistened in the bright morning light that streamed in through the windows directly behind her. Immediately to Cathy's left and right, two of the women who had fetched her from her night-time quarters stood in close attendance, and when Cathy half turned - to see if there was any avenue of escape open to her - she encountered the third woman directly at her back. Just as on her previous meeting with them, their heads were immersed in the same restrictive hoods.

None of this really surprised Cathy too much, but what drew her attention now was the scene on the left hand side of the room. For here was assembled a group of women, all bound in different ways that made use of a huge variety of techniques and materials. In fact, as Cathy looked up and down the line of trussed up females, she realised that none bar the pair at the far end of the line seemed to be bound in the same manner. Some were sitting on upright chairs - indeed some were actually bound to these stout items of furniture. Others were lying prone on the floor due to the nature of their bonds. Another of the helpless young females was forced to stand; her arms having been bound behind her back, then suspended in the air by means of a taut rope attached to the ceiling. With her arms stretched to their limits and her high-heeled boots barely able to touch the floor, she had no option but to remain bent forwards at all times.

A quick calculation told Cathy that there were twelve bound and helpless women in this line-up. All were gagged in some way, with many having their eyesight inhibited either by hood or blindfold. Those whose eyes were still in working order seemed to gaze around the room in wide eyed impotence.

Directly behind each of these unfortunate enslaved creatures, stood a second woman. This group, however, were unbound, although many still wore hoods or masks that hid their faces, save for the eyes, nose and mouth. These women, Cathy quickly deduced, were the ones responsible for the unenviable condition of the bound group. Some carried whips or riding crops in their hands, whilst others had handcuffs or ball-gags hanging from the leather belts that seemed obligatory alongside the skin-tight cat-suit that each wore. All twelve of this group glared menacingly at Cathy, who shivered uncontrollably as a direct consequence of their cold, steely scrutiny.

After a minute or so of silence, Dolores stood up and turned to address the assembled company.

"Ladies of the jury, we are here today to try the defendant standing before you, who goes by the name of Cathy."

She paced around to the front of the table and began slowly walking along the line of women, and it was clear straightaway that it was the bound section of her audience that her words were being directed towards.

"The case is a simple one, and should take only a few seconds of contemplation before each of you comes to a correct and just verdict."

She reached the end of the line, turned around and stared directly at Cathy, who up to now had been listening in stunned silence.

"The charge is this. That on the night of Friday 20th May 2016, at around the hour of ten in the evening, the aforementioned Cathy did unlawfully enter the premises of Shackleton Grange, with the intention to obtain and remove items of value from the said property."

She turned once more to the 'twelve good women and true' and paced back down the line once more, her high heels echoing on the polished wooden flooring.

"Now ladies of the jury, the question that you are being asked to adjudicate on is this: Is the defendant who stands before you now, guilty or not guilty of this crime? Bear in mind when you make your decision however, that the accused was caught red-handed in one of the bedrooms of this house, having entered through an unsecured first floor window. Also please take into account that she had upon her person at this time, a rucksack containing the items that you are about to be shown."

She beckoned towards one of the women at Cathy's side, who duly retrieved the rucksack and handed it to Dolores. Opening the zipper, the Mistress - who seemed to have assumed the role of both prosecutor and judge - tipped the contents out onto the floor. Cathy watched with rising dismay as her hacksaw blades, screwdrivers, pliers, wire-cutters, penknives and other building-entering paraphernalia noisily spread themselves out in front of the jury. When the ringing echo from this commotion died away, Dolores continued.

"So ladies, the evidence before you is plain to see. Now I shall ask you each in turn to give your verdict. Is Cathy guilty of breaking into this house illegally? I realise that you're all - how shall I put it? - slightly impaired in your capacity to articulate your thoughts at the moment. But a simple yes or no, or even just a nod or shake of the head, will suffice."

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She turned to the girl on the far left hand side of the line.

"You can start us off Megan. Is she guilty?"

Megan, who had been lashed securely to her chair with numerous plastic cable-ties, and whose mouth and lower head were plastered in a sea of grey duct tape, made a muffled, inconclusive sound from behind her gag. The fact that she simultaneously nodded her head vigorously, however, left no one in any doubt that this was a vote in favour of Cathy's guilt.

As she watched in horror at the evolving situation in front of her, Cathy began to move uneasily from foot to foot, as if getting ready to flee as soon as the opportunity presented itself. The three guards, however, obviously sensed her plans and moved in closer. The helpless woman felt a hand being placed on either shoulder, and another pressed into her back between her shoulder blades, leaving her in no doubt that she wouldn't get very far at all if she contemplated making a dash for freedom. Dolores, however, was oblivious to this activity.

"Good, that's one guilty vote. Now we'll move onto...well, whoever this is behind that hood. What's your verdict Number Two?"

The unidentifiable 'Number Two', whose head was encased in an all-covering, sight restricting black latex hood, lay prone on the floor. Her whole body was enclosed in a tightly fitting black darlex sleep-sack, with several strictly secured leather straps placed strategically along the length of her body, from ankle to chest. At first, she didn't respond; seemingly unaware that it was she that Dolores was addressing her question towards. A slight nudge in the back from the boot of her latex clad rigger, however, spurred her into action. The voice that emanated from behind the hood was muffled and faint, but there could be no doubt as to the two syllable word she uttered: "Guilty".

Dolores turned briefly to face Cathy and flashed her that cold smile.

"That's two votes against you already Cathy. Not looking good, is it?"

Cathy's emotions now got the better of her. Not only was her trepidation in regard to their intentions - once they'd all passed their verdicts - causing her to tremble violently, but coupled with this was a rising sense of anger at the injustice of this 'kangaroo court'. The women of the jury were all bound and helpless, and were hardly going to go against the verdict that Mistress Dolores sought. The consequences of doing so - of going against what was expected of them - had probably already been spelt out before her arrival in the makeshift courtroom. So this whole trial was obviously just for show; a complete travesty of justice, in fact.

Screaming into her gag, Cathy tried to enlighten the court as to her objections to the proceedings, the main thrust of which boiled down to her opinion that a trial like this was weighted against her - as well as being illegal - and that they had no right to hold her here against her will. And - much as she hated the thought of being arrested - if they thought she'd broken the law, then why didn't they simply hand her over to the police and let them handle the matter?

These were the basic themes that she tried to get across to this all female gathering, although she doubted whether much of her diatribe had actually been understood. But whether through incomprehension or indifference, her outburst went unheeded. Instead, Dolores sauntered slowly over to where she stood. As she approached, Cathy's desire for flight increased to a point where it was almost uncontrollable. But being hemmed in on three sides by the vigilant attendants, she knew that an escape attempt was doomed to failure. Leaning in close to Cathy's fear-etched face, the Mistress whispered menacingly.

"If you continue to interrupt these proceedings with your groundless objections, then I will have no alternative but to hold you in contempt of court, have you removed from the room, and continue to try you in absentia. And believe me, that will make things even worse for you than they already are. Do I make myself clear?"

As she uttered these words, the woman at her back tugged sharply on her hair, whilst the two on either side gripped her shoulders painfully. Cathy shuddered, but managed to control the rising urge to scream.

"Good, now perhaps we can continue."

Strolling back to the centre of the room, Dolores turned her attention to the third woman in the line.

"Alison, please now give your verdict: guilty or not guilty?"

Like all of the women here, Alison was dressed in a figure-hugging outfit. Like her neighbour, she too lay on the floor, although the nature of her bondage was quite different. With wrists and ankles bound with ropes, she had then been subjected to a severe hog-tie, with her hands almost touching her feet and her elbows bound in close proximity to one another. Any urge she might have had to tamper with the knots that kept her in such a hideous looking posture, had been negated by the application of layers of grey duct tape around her hands, thus removing the use of her fingers. From her position face down on the floor, the woman lifted her head and simply pronounced the word "guilty" through the cleave gag that had been inserted between her teeth.

And so it went on. The chair-tied, tights-encased blonde with the inflatable gag; the handcuffed and blindfolded brunette; the strappado - bound woman with the leather hood; the ball-bound girl curled up on the floor with her head touching her knees and her feet in close proximity to her rear; the leather single-sleeved female with the muzzle gag and posture collar; the taped and completely mummified young lady; the chained and chair-tied creature with her head swathed in multi-layered cling-film. All gave their verdicts, and all were of one mind: Guilty as charged.

With ten votes cast, and with the overall verdict in no doubt, Dolores turned to the final two women in the line. In her severely distressed and agitated state, Cathy had until now not noticed the similarity between the last two members of the jury. But now, as Dolores began addressing them collectively rather than individually, she noticed that they were actually identical twins. Not only that, but both wore exactly the same attire; black spandex cat-suits almost indistinguishable from her own.

"And finally we come to our two newcomers, Jasmine and Jade. I do hope you're enjoying your first visit to Shackleton Grange. Firstly Jasmine, how do you find the defendant, guilty or not guilty?"

As well as the similarity of her looks and clothing, Jasmine was also bound in similar fashion to her sister; each having been lashed to the chair with copious amounts of rope. Their hands remained invisible behind their backs, but as each shifted in their seat, the soft clink of metal gave away the fact that they both wore handcuffs. Both had circuit after clinging circuit of duct tape wound unmercilessly around the lower part of their faces and heads, and when they spoke, it was evident that this unbroken grey mass was a deterrent to the removal of some kind of gagging material that filled their mouths. Notwithstanding the muffling effect that this engendered, the answers given by both were unequivocal. Not unexpectedly, they were in complete accord with their fellow jurors.

With a smug smile on her face, as if she had known all along that the outcome was a foregone conclusion, Dolores turned and walked to her seat behind the oak table. Sitting down, she gazed for several seconds at Cathy, as if contemplating the most appropriate action to take, before delivering her summing up speech.

"Well now Cathy, as you've heard, the verdict is unanimous. You have been found, by a jury of your peers, to be guilty of the charge for which you were being tried; namely that you entered this house unlawfully with the intention of stealing from me and my guests. It therefore now befalls me to pass sentence on you."

She paused, as much for dramatic effect it seemed, as anything else.

"Cathy, offences of this sort are viewed in this courtroom as being of a most severe nature, and are punishable by a penalty to match the gravity of the crime. I therefore sentence you to a custodial sentence of not less than three months."

Cathy wailed into her gag and tried to break free from the clutches of the three women who held her in check, but to no avail. Dolores ignored this latest outburst and continued.

"During this period of incarceration, you will be held in restraint at all times, twenty four hours a day. There is no provision for parole, nor any possibility of time off for good behaviour. However, any attempt to escape, or in any way disobey orders or try to hinder the application of any of the various forms of bondage that you are going to be subjected to, will be viewed in a very dim light, and further time will be added to your sentence accordingly."

She addressed the three guards.

"Take her away girls. You know what to do."

Cathy found herself being turned around to face the door that led out of the room to...where? Back to the cellar, perhaps? The thought of being once more entombed in some dingy underground cell, or left hooded and sightless in some sort of solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, sent Cathy into hysterics. Digging her heels in, she resisted all attempts to drag and haul her out of the room, whilst simultaneously straining to break free from the tightly restrictive straitjacket. The room they were in at the moment was light and airy, and despite the fact that not one of the women present had been even remotely sympathetic to her plight, the notion of being in some well lit room with other human beings around, seemed to be infinitely preferable to spending the next three months in some lonely inescapable dungeon. Unfortunately, her circumstances were such that there was no way in the world that her quest to stay put could succeed, and within seconds she was being hauled bodily towards the exit.

From somewhere behind her, Dolores' voice sounded once again.

"Oh dear Cathy, you didn't listen to a word I said, did you? So just to make sure you understand the terms and conditions under which you're being held, I'll spell things out for you again. Any disobedience or attempts to escape are subject to additional time being added to your stay here. And this pathetic show of insolence has just put an extra week onto your sentence. So that's three months and one week that you'll now be spending here as my guest. Now perhaps you'll see the error of your ways and realise that compliance with the rules and regulations is in your best interests."

Contrary to what Cathy was expecting, the trio of hooded women hustled and cajoled their unwilling captive, not in the direction of the underground cells, but instead dragged and harried her towards the grand staircase that she'd seen last night. Their journey upwards didn't stop at the first floor, however, as Cathy found herself being coaxed up a further, less ornate stairway that took them upwards another two floors. After traipsing along another long and poorly illuminated passageway, the procession finally halted outside one of the numerous identical closed doors. One of Cathy's guards - the fountain of red hair that sprayed from the apex of her hood contrasting starkly with her shiny black all-covering attire - produced a bunch of keys, searched for a few seconds for the one she needed, then inserted this into the lock.

The opening of the door revealed a small, windowless box room swathed in darkness. And the flicking of the switch to turn on the unshaded light bulb, made the view within no less enticing. The room - no more than twelve feet square - was devoid of furniture or adornment of any kind, save for what appeared to be a sheet of black rubber stretched across a sturdy metal frame -approximately seven feet long by five wide - attached to which was what looked like a small vacuum cleaner. Bundling their hesitant detainee into the room, everything suddenly went black for Cathy, as without warning the now familiar leather hood was swiftly pulled down over her head, causing a scream of shock and dismay to force its way past the ball-gag that had by now filled her oral cavity for more than twelve hours. With the leather tightened to form a second skin across her face, Cathy felt the strap around her throat pull taut, before a faint clicking sound that she couldn't immediately identify reached her now encased ears. The hood, she was soon to discover, was only to be a temporary measure, however, and the reason for its utilisation was soon to become apparent.

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As if to offset the application of this one item of restraint, to her great surprise, the fearful and trembling young prisoner suddenly felt the straps of the straitjacket begin to loosen, and within seconds she was able to uncross her arms and wriggle out of the loop that had held them across her chest all night. The strap that had been digging deeply into her crotch also slackened, as did the buckles on her back, and within no more than a minute, the leather jacket was being pulled away from her body and her arms extricated from the sleeves. Automatically, Cathy's hands reached up to her neck, in an effort to remove the vision depriving cover from her head. Her fingers, though, instantly encountered the small padlock that had been applied to prohibit the removal of the hood. Seconds later, the ability to remove the headgear became irrelevant, however, as she found her arms being grabbed and twisted behind her back.

The application of the cord around her wrists was both swift and effective, and left her in no doubt that getting her hands free from the painfully tight rope was not a feasible option. Her heart pounding with trepidation, Cathy felt more ropes being added around her ankles and knees. But then, to her surprise, she heard a clicking sound, as the padlock at her throat was released, and moments later, the soft but clinging leather casing loosened and she found the hood lifting up over her mouth, nose and eyes, before being completely removed. She had been in the hood for no more than a few minutes, and it was clear now that this had only been applied to keep her out of mischief whilst the straightjacket was being exchanged for the more conventional rope bondage.

Cathy shook her head, as her hair fell across her face. Without the use of her hands she found it difficult to remove the tangled strands from her eyes, but one of the women obliged by pulling the unkempt mane back and tying it into a ponytail. As this was being seen to, the sound of approaching heels in the corridor outside pre-empted the appearance of Dolores in the open doorway.

"Ah, I see my girls have nearly finished getting you ready for bed. I know how hard that cellar floor must have been for you last night, and I'm guessing that you probably didn't get a wink of sleep, what with the excitement of yesterday evening still so vivid in your memory. So now I'm going to give you the chance to relax for a few hours."

As she was speaking, one of the other women - the one in the bright pink figure-hugging latex cat-suit and matching hood - was releasing the zipper at one end of the expanse of stretched latex, and Cathy realised for the first time that there was another sheet beneath the uppermost layer. Or in other words, this contrivance took the form of a sheath or envelope. And it was obvious at once exactly what it was that these women intended to enclose within this restrictive sachet.

As her feet were eased between the clinging layers of rubber, Cathy once more begged and pleaded for this whole nightmare to be brought to an end. Through her gag, she heard herself whimpering about how she didn't mind in the slightest whether Dolores called the police and had her charged with breaking and entering, burglary or whatever other crime she might have been guilty of. But this appeal for clemency merely caused Dolores to laugh harshly. And even her servants, whose mouths were gagged and clearly unable to register joy, mirth, or even a smile, betrayed, by the glint in their eyes, that they too found this an amusing concept.

"What, call the cops and tell them that we caught you breaking in last night, but somehow forgot to inform them until now, after more than twelve hours have elapsed? I don't think so, do you Cathy? No, it's far too late for that now. And besides, who needs the law of the land to intervene, when the 'Grand Court of Shackleton Grange' has already tried you and passed sentence?"

By now, the three attendants had forced Cathy's unwilling body into the figure hugging sheath. As her head was being immersed under the upper sheet, she made one final effort to halt the process of complete encasement, but found that, with three pairs of hands holding her down, she was powerless to derail them in their endeavours. Ensuring that she was positioned correctly, one of the women placed the latex cover over Cathy's face and swiftly aligned two previously unnoticed short rubber tubes, which protruded from the otherwise unbroken shiny black sheeting, over her nose. Cathy now heard the opening being zipped shut above her, sealing her inside, whilst simultaneously the two tubes were pushed vigorously into her nostrils. Dolores' voice, now slightly muffled, once more filled the air.

"Make sure those tubes are sealed around the edges girls. We wouldn't want any air getting in would we? That would spoil the whole effect."

No sooner had the Mistress of the House finished speaking, than a roaring sound filled the space around Cathy's bound and helpless frame, and she felt the latex around her body and legs begin to constrict. It didn't take her long to work out that the air was now being sucked out from between the rubber folds in which she lay. Second after second, the sensation of the rubber that enveloped her shrinking and tightening, corresponded with her attempts to struggle becoming less and less effective, until she felt as if she was being crushed alive. Finally the drone of the suction pump ceased. Tentatively, Cathy tried to move her legs, but found that even shifting a fraction of an inch in any direction was now almost impossible. Nor did her attempts to roll her body over to either the left or the right fare any better. The latex that now adhered like a second skin to her face, contracted around her jaw and made the ball-gag behind her teeth even more uncomfortable than it had been previously. With all but the slightest of motions being curtailed, Cathy felt as if she had become immersed in a sea of treacle or a pot of glue, or maybe a giant spider's web. It was akin, she thought grimly, to being in a state of suspended animation.

"Okay girls, let's make sure she's nice and snug in there."

Suddenly, Cathy felt several pairs of hands gliding over her face, her breasts, her lower abdomen and her legs. Each of the hands seemed to be smoothing down the now drum-like latex package; stroking and fondling with gentle motions, as they sought to locate any air pockets left within the hermetically sealed enclosure.

Or was there actually another agenda?

For as the fingers made their way ever so placidly over her body, Cathy suddenly realised that a strange sensation was coming over her. She squealed and moaned, but these were not cries born of pain or suffering, but had their genesis in the utter surprise that hit her, as these calm, caressing hands triggered what could only be described as the first stirrings of sexual arousal; causing her to sense a warm wet patch begin to manifest on the tight spandex of her crotch area. Cathy's mind was in a state of turmoil, and her senses even more so. What the hell was happening here? Were they doing this deliberately to tease and tantalise her? Or was it merely a by-product of their desire to ensure that every last bubble of air was smoothed out? This question would have to remain unanswered for the time being, however, as this momentary trip into a parallel universe of pleasure proved to be short-lived.

"That's enough for now girls. We wouldn't want her to get too excited by all this attention we've been lavishing on her, would we?"

The hands were suddenly removed from her body.

"Hmm, not bad, but I think there's still a bit too much air in there. Let's make things a bit tighter for her, shall we girls?"

Seconds later, the whirring of the suction device once again reverberated through the stretch fabric that surrounded her. Almost at once, Cathy felt the already ultra-tight rubber contract still further, and her state of immobility reached a point where she felt as if her very bones would be crushed if this went on much longer. Mercifully, however, this second stint of air removal lasted only ten seconds or so and abruptly came to a halt with the cessation of the machine's droning noise. In the ensuing silence, Cathy found that her exploratory attempts to move any part of her anatomy, by even the most miniscule fraction of an inch, now met with complete failure. Fortunately, the tubes running from her nose allowed her to take air into her lungs, although the flipside of this was that the very effort of breathing caused pain in her chest, such was the compacted nature of her newly acquired bondage. The pressure on her face too, was almost unbearable, with no way to release the tension on her eye lids, nose, mouth, temples and cheeks.

"Right Cathy, try to get some sleep now. This afternoon we've got an equestrian event planned, which I'm sure you'll enjoy taking part in. As a matter of fact, I think you'll probably be the star attraction."

And with this, Cathy heard a shuffling of heels, as the four women exited the room. The inevitable closing and locking of the door quickly followed.

Now left to her own devices, Cathy struggled forlornly for a minute or two, but with no great expectation of success. Her whole being felt crushed within the air-tight packaging, and any attempted movement seemed to compound the ultra-stringent nature of her incarceration. Reluctantly, she gave up; the events of the morning still spinning wildly in her head. They couldn't really keep her here all that time, could they? But deep down, something told her that the threat to keep her trussed up here for - what would it be? - fourteen weeks or so, was deadly serious. How many days did that add up to? Fourteen times seven - she did a quick mental calculation - equated to ninety eight days and nights. And the worst thing about it was that she'd been here less than twenty four hours so far... and that had been far too long for her liking! Multiplying this one hundredfold was something that she didn't even want to contemplate.

And it might not even end there, she realised gloomily. The enthusiastic way in which Dolores had added an extra week to her sentence suggested that, unless she behaved like the complete model prisoner, then further days or weeks would be added at every opportunity. And the recognition of this possibility caused the vacuum packed female to wish she'd never even heard of Shackleton Grange, let alone decided to rob the place.

But self-pity was never going to be the answer. Trying to put the serious nature of her plight to the back of her mind, Cathy gave herself a stern talking to. She had to remain positive, she tried to convince herself. Okay, so they were going to keep her tied up for the majority of the time, but there had to be times - she hoped - when she was let out of her secure bonds for a while, even if only for a few seconds. And it would be at times like this that she would have to be alert, assess the situation in an instant, and take whatever opportunity to escape presented itself. These moments would come she managed to convince herself. After all, they'd already moved her once from the cellar to this upstairs room, and it seemed she was going to be moved again this afternoon.

And this train of thought brought her around to pondering on the cryptic remark Dolores had left her with this morning. What exactly did she mean by an 'equestrian event'? Surely they weren't going to expect her to ride a horse whilst tied up, were they? In the course of doing her homework on the best way of breaking into the house over the past few weeks, Cathy had noticed the stable block, although never had there been any sign of horses. So the nature of this event would have to remain a mystery just for now. All would no doubt be revealed this afternoon, although Cathy couldn't stifle a shiver of apprehension at the unknown nature of exactly what might be in store for her.

Chapter 3 - Horse Play (added: 2016/10/20)

After what seemed like several hours, during which Cathy had no option but to remain in immovable stasis, the sound of several sets of feet approaching slowly but surely built in volume, until they sounded as if they were just outside the door. The turning of the key in the lock, then the creaking of the ancient wood, was swiftly followed by the unmistakable tones of Dolores' voice permeating through the layers of latex.

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"Hello Cathy. Hope you got some sleep and are feeling nice and refreshed for the challenge this afternoon. You look so contented and relaxed in there, that it seems a shame to disturb you. However, I promised you a day at the races, and I wouldn't want to disappoint you by excluding you from the proceedings."

As she spoke, a pair of hands moved slowly across her breasts.

"You really are tightly encased in there still, aren't you sweetie? It looks like this bed really is airtight."

She addressed the other women.

"Feel how firm this latex has stayed girls. You wouldn't get anything as tight and unforgiving as this with any other form of bondage."

Almost immediately, three more pairs of hands began exploring the contours of Cathy's latex enveloped body and limbs; massaging and kneading her flesh softly and tenderly.

Cathy was in a dilemma now. Part of her wanted to shy away from the intrusive fingers that seemed to be crawling like insects all over her. But on the other hand, the strange and not unpleasant sensations that she'd experienced the last time the hands had wended their way across her helpless form, made her curious as to the nature of this phenomenon, and keen to explore further. But the extreme compression of her hermetically sealed capsule meant that she could hardly move a muscle of course; either to repel or embrace this latest contact. And as before, Dolores called a halt to proceedings almost as soon as they'd begun.

"Okay girls, let's get her out of the bed and ready for the main event of the weekend, which I know she's looking forward to almost as much as we are."

As if turned off by a switch, the hands ceased their rhythmic stroking. A few more seconds elapsed, before the rasping sound of the sealed zipper, just above her head, coincided with a sudden inrush of air, as the clinging latex sheets suddenly released their vice-like grip on every part of her body instantaneously. The unexpected nature of this semi-release, made Cathy gasp. Then, once the realisation that she was now able to wriggle and squirm with relative ease hit her, she began to fight against the still stringent ropes that had been redundant during her time in vacuum packed limbo, but now reminded her that her limbs were bound, and that she was still a long way short of her longed for freedom.

But these embryonic struggles were quickly stifled at birth, as Dolores' three servants, colleagues or slaves - Cathy hadn't yet worked out exactly what their status was, or indeed whether their presence here was voluntary or enforced - pulled the breathing tubes out from her nostrils, removed the now limp latex sheet from her head and began extracting her from the sheath.

As soon as she had been pulled from the unorthodox bedding, however, she was immediately set upon by the silent trio, and she found her already securely tied arms being inserted into another form of restraint; this latest affront to her liberty taking the form of a black leather single sleeve arm-binder, which was duly laced tightly so that her elbows almost touched, before being strapped around her shoulders to eradicate any chance of it slipping off. As this was taking place, Dolores simply stood back against the wall, never once taking her eyes off the proceedings. Only once the sleeve had been applied and its effectiveness checked, did she speak again.

"So Cathy, I hope you're feeling energetic, because there's quite a bit of physical exertion involved for you in this afternoon's activity. But first I suppose we should let you have a refreshment break. After all, we must keep you fit and healthy for the challenges ahead."

As if on cue, Cathy felt the buckle at the back of her neck loosen, and seconds later the ball that had been constantly embedded in her mouth since last night was being coaxed from behind her teeth. Cathy took several deep breaths and gingerly worked her stiff and extremely tender jaw muscles up and down. She was relieved to be liberated from the agony that this speech inhibitor inflicted, but was certain that this was only a temporary reprieve. However, her attempt to speak - in an effort to once again plead for her freedom - met with dismal failure, as her voice came out merely as a hoarse whisper. Until now, she hadn't realised just how parched her throat had become. Mercifully, this particular anguish was soon to be remedied, as a bottle of mineral water was held to her lips, and she was allowed the luxury of drinking the cool, refreshing liquid at her own pace.

Having quenched her raging thirst, Cathy found a bowl of some indeterminate mashed up foodstuff being brought into close proximity to her mouth, before a spoonful of the unappetising concoction was offered to her lips. Cathy baulked at the idea of allowing even a morsel of this foul smelling delicacy to enter her mouth, but this resistance was immediately noticed and commented upon.

"Cathy, my dear, your refusal to eat when food is offered is most definitely not in your best interests. If you shun the cuisine presented to you now, then I'll have to assume that you won't be interested in any further refreshment for the next few days. And going on hunger strike will result in a lot of unnecessary suffering being inflicted on you. So eat up, there's a good girl."

With great reluctance, Cathy opened her mouth a mere fraction of an inch and allowed the woman holding the spoon to shovel some of the food in. It tasted like cold salty porridge and almost immediately she felt her stomach turn. Somehow or other, she forced herself to swallow the disgusting fare.

"There, isn't that good? Much better for you than all that junk food that people eat nowadays. I'll keep you on basic rations for a day or two, just to show my displeasure at you breaking into my home. But then, if you're very good and don't cause me any problems, maybe we'll see about getting you something a bit more palatable to eat. "

A second spoonful was tendered, and Cathy tried not to think about the vile flavour as she attempted to get through this hideous ordeal as quickly as she possibly could. Thankfully, after four mouthfuls, Dolores put a halt to the proceedings; seemingly now bored with watching Cathy's pitiful efforts to get the almost inedible meal down her throat.

"That will do for now. We wouldn't want you to get indigestion, seeing as how you're going to be doing quite a bit of running around in a short while, would we?"

Cathy, who felt as if she was going to be sick any moment now, tried to take her mind off the rising nausea by concentrating on exactly what Dolores and her team had planned for her now. It obviously involved exercise, although the equine theme still didn't make any sense to her. That is, until she looked down at the floor. For there, in a pile by the door, her eyes came to rest on an array of items that instantly enlightened her as to her captors' intentions.

The horse tack - the leather and metal all polished to a shine - was instantly identifiable to Cathy, as she'd taken riding lessons as a child. But it was obvious straightaway, as the women began to get the bridle, harness and various other accessories ready for use, that these were not designed to fit the body of a real horse or pony, but had been crafted for a human being; or more precisely, the female form.

"Right girls, let's get our little friend here tacked up and ready for action."

Immediately, the three faithful assistants jumped at their Mistress's beck and call. Whilst two of the hooded beauties held her still, the third placed the bridle around Cathy's head.

"No, please, I can't take any more of this!!"

Her pitiful plea, accompanied by vigorous shaking of her head in an effort to evade this latest restraint, did her no good. The strong leather straps - both vertical and horizontal - were eased around Cathy's head from top to bottom and from back to front. But what caused her the most distress was the attached metal bit, which was forced as far back into her mouth as it would go. With this in place, all the leather straps were pulled so tightly that Cathy felt that her whole head was being compressed. Her cheeks, her temples, the bridge of her nose and her jaw all fell victim to the extreme pressure that the securing of this tortuous headstall created, with the final strap being tightly fastened around her throat. And with her jaw now firmly shut, the removal of the bit became impossible and she found that she had no alternative than to bite down on the unforgiving metal bar. There were reins attached to this implement of cranial torture also, but although these hung loosely at her breasts for the time being, Cathy knew instinctively that at some point a use would be found for them that she would no doubt find distasteful.

The young woman's metamorphosis into a pony-girl, however, didn't end with this headwear. For no sooner had the bridle been tested to ensure it wouldn't slip or come loose, than the next piece of leather apparatus was being readied for her. This consisted of a harness, which fitted securely around her upper torso and shoulders, criss-crossed her breasts, and was then made fast around her waist. Metal rings of varying sizes hung from the straps at strategic locations; in readiness, Cathy solemnly guessed, for other attachments or bindings. Another strap, hanging from the front of the now secured leather ligature, quickly found its way between her legs and was pulled so tightly that Cathy involuntarily squealed at the sudden upward pressure into her crotch. Once her riggers had satisfied themselves that this had been stretched to its limits, it was securely buckled to the straps at her back.

With the leather latticework now woven around her, Dolores' minions set to work on attiring their captive's feet. But rather than the boots Cathy had arrived here in, a different pair were now set before her. Like those she favoured when she was on a house breaking assignment, these were of black leather and reached up to just below the knee. Unlike her own, however, the replacements had high heels; so high, in fact, that Cathy was sure that she would never be able to walk in them. But her opinions were of little interest to the Mistress and her three loyal attendants, and despite her attempted words of protest, she soon found her spandex clad legs being shod in the unfamiliar footwear. Not only were the heels of a height that she'd never encountered before, the boots also seemed to be one size too small; pinching her toes and compressing her feet painfully when she put her weight down on them. Just to add insult to injury, a set of legs-cuffs was produced; two sturdy bracelets with a connecting chain of about ten inches or so. And these were duly placed around her now booted ankles.

All this time, Dolores had been quietly watching the unfolding transformation; a smile of satisfaction etched smugly on her face. Now that the work was complete, however, she broke her silence.

"Well Cathy, my fine young filly, I'm guessing that you're now beginning to get the picture as to what's on the cards for you today. It will be interesting to see whether you turn out to be a thoroughbred or a carthorse, although with your sleek physique and slender legs, I'm guessing you'll probably prove to be the former. Those boots may take a little while to get accustomed to, but I'm sure you'll soon get the hang of them. I do hope so anyway, as if you fall, you could easily injure yourself... I'm sure that won't happen though."

She looked Cathy up and down for a brief period, before walking slowly around her captive. Idly, she grabbed Cathy's ponytail and examined it for a few seconds.

"Hmm, not bad, but I think another couple of accessories would be in order."

Cathy had no idea what this meant, but Dolores' henchwomen clearly comprehended exactly what their leader was alluding to, as almost at once one of them passed her two plumes of long black hair. Fixing one to the strap that ran across the top of her skull, so that the artificial tresses cascaded down the back of her head, she then quickly set to work fixing the second to the strapping at the small of her back.

"There, that looks better. Whoever heard of a horse without a tail and a mane?"

Now satisfied that her prisoner's appearance was acceptably horse-like, Dolores turned towards the door.

"Come on girls. Let's lead our budding 'Red Rum' to the parade ring. I'm sure she's dying to meet her fellow competitors."

One of the underlings grabbed the reins and, without warning, Cathy found herself being coerced into action. Momentarily forgetting that the ankle chain would severely restrict the length of stride she was now capable of, she immediately faltered and almost fell before she'd even taken two steps. With her arms encased in the bondage-sleeve, she had no way of stopping her descent, and felt certain that she was about to crash headlong to the floor. But thankfully, one of the women seemed alert to the possibility of this type of accident, and averted the crisis by grabbing Cathy's tumbling torso before she hit the ground. Being pulled back onto her feet without ceremony, the helpless prisoner found the reins once more being jerked forwards, and she had no option but to move in that direction, albeit with shorter, more carefully considered steps on this occasion.

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Along endless corridors and down precariously steep stairways, the harnessed and hobbled young female was led, until finally, the procession reached a door that led outside. This wasn't the grand entrance lobby at the front of the house, however, but a small back door that took them into the courtyard at the rear of the mansion; enclosed on three sides by the 'U' design formed by the wings of the building. The afternoon was bright and sunny, with a slight breeze rustling the young leaves on the trees which all but surrounded Shackleton Grange. Birds sang and bees buzzed in the warm air, but the ambience of a pleasant spring afternoon was lost on Cathy, as the party made their way towards the stable block, situated one hundred yards or so away from the main house.

At first, the paved nature of the courtyard made the going relatively easy, even though the extremely high heels and the ankle-cuffs made the journey something of a nightmare for Cathy, as every step had to be consciously thought about and executed with precision if she wanted to avoid stumbling again. As they approached the outbuildings, however, the smooth nature of the terrain gave way to an uneven tract of gravel, which made the task of staying upright even more hazardous. Luckily, her guards seemed aware of her limitations, and allowed her the time she needed to negotiate the difficult ground at her own pace, and kept in close attendance to ensure that she stayed upright.

As they neared the main entrance to the stables, the sound of activity and female voices grew louder, and it was no surprise to Cathy that, as they entered, the other women from this morning's courtroom fiasco came into view. What did shock Cathy, though, was the nature of the goings-on that greeted her. The building consisted of several partitioned stalls on either side, and in each booth there stood one of the submissive women that had passed judgement on her. They were all still dressed in their tightly fitting cat-suits, with their feet now ensconced in high heeled leather boots. All were still bound to an inescapable degree, but unlike the last time she'd encountered them, when the method of bondage had differed between one captive and the next, now the style and quality of the restraints were of a more uniform nature. In fact, as she was led past each stall in turn, it occurred to Cathy that they were all rigged in exactly the same manner; with arm-binder, bridle and harness, their ankles in leg irons and with a bit for a gag. In other words, they were all rigged up in identical bondage to herself. Dolores must have noticed Cathy's wide-eyed disbelief at the scene before her.

"What were you expecting to find here exactly? Shergar?"

As well as the harnessed and bridled beauties, another woman was also present in each stall; clearly the personal stable girl responsible for the welfare of her own pony. And it was impossible to miss the fact that each of these females carried a riding crop in her hand.

Clapping her hands with an air of authority, Dolores sought to silence the general buzz of activity.

"Okay ladies, if everyone's ready we'll get the meeting started. You'll notice that Cathy has now joined us, and I'm sure that we'll all have a lot of fun at this afternoon's session. It's time to take the hobble off your mare's legs and lead her out into the parade ring."

The stable girls began to remove the shackles from the legs of their charges, and one by one they filed out of the relatively dark recesses of the building into the daylight. Cathy watched, as the tight spandex, PVC, leather or latex suits glistened and shimmered as the sunlight caught each in turn. But her attention was quickly averted, as one of Dolores' personal servants released her own ankle bracelets, whilst a second gave a quick tug on the reins to let her know that she needed to follow the procession back out into the open air. Dolores had already made her way outside, and was again giving out instructions.

"Okay, just walk your pony around the courtyard in a clockwise direction for now. Make sure she keeps her head up and doesn't drag her feet."

Bringing up the rear of this strange caravan, Cathy found that two of the women now backed off, leaving her in the sole charge of the redhead in the skin-tight, highly polished, black latex cat-suit. Ensuring that she walked at the same pace as her keeper, Cathy soon found that the pull on the reins remained at a bearable level, and she was beginning to think that this was an easy enough activity, when all of a sudden, after they'd completed their second circuit of the courtyard, Dolores gave her next command.

"Right ladies, get your pony to increase her gait to a trot now. Use your crops if necessary."

Without warning, Cathy felt a sharp stinging pane searing through her left thigh. She squealed, but for several seconds failed to up her pace to the required speed. Another, even louder thwacking sound coincided with yet more pain coursing through her leg, and she realised that the other ponies had all now made significant ground on her. Despite the burning agony of the crop's lashes, Cathy began to up the tempo to a jog, with her handler keeping pace beside her. Even so, the woman decided that another dose of the leather whip was in order; this time slightly higher, across her buttocks. Cathy yelped again and inadvertently changed course slightly. And this involuntary deviation from the stipulated path was the only incentive needed for a fourth blow being administered. Cathy found herself biting hard on the bit, in an effort to take her mind away from the torture that this series of whacks to her legs and posterior had inflicted. If her outfit had been of leather or rubber, she thought despondently, maybe the pain might not have been quite so intense. The relatively light-weight spandex, however, had been of little protection in this respect.

From across the paddock, Dolores' voice boomed.

"Come on Cathy, you're lagging behind. You know what happens to naughty young fillies that can't stand the pace, don't you?"

She waited a second or two, before answering her own question.

"They get locked up in the stables overnight without food or water."

Cathy felt the tears flowing down her cheeks as she tried to make up the ground to the group of other women in front of her. Just as she thought that she'd achieved this goal, however, Dolores decided that it was again time for a change of tactics.

"Right, that's good girls. Now let's up the tempo again. Let's see how good your pony is at a canter."

Immediately, the line of pony-girls in front of her increased the rapidity of their stride, until they were all almost running, with their stable girls jogging alongside. Once again Cathy, who was feeling weak through lack of food and exhausted from having had no sleep last night, found herself being left behind. The inevitable slap of leather on spandex followed almost instantly. From somewhere inside her, she managed to summon up the reserves of energy needed to put on a spurt, which thankfully ensured that no further encouragement of this kind was forthcoming.

After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality only probably amounted to another two minutes or so, Dolores called the circling convoy of horses and their trainers to a halt.

"Right ladies, that's enough for now. Let your pony rest for a few minutes. I must say that the standard overall was extremely high. The only exception being that old nag at the back. Looks like we'll have to give you some extra training to get you into shape, doesn't it Cathy?"

At the cessation of the enforced parade, Cathy, along with all the other ponies, found herself being led back into the stables where, once inside her own stall, she was left momentarily unattended. Feeling dizzy and nauseous, she dropped to her knees. Breathing hard, her heart beating rapidly and with the tears still streaming down her face, she found her focus blurring, and it was all she could do to stop herself collapsing onto the mat of straw bedding that littered the floor. Although she knew that it was futile, she found herself trying to slip her arms out of the bondage sleeve that held them in such close proximity to each other. As she did so, however, she sensed someone kneel down beside her. Even before she turned her head, the voice that whispered in her ear was instantly recognisable as that of Dolores.

"Not trying to break free are you? Do you really want me to have to discipline you in front of all the other ponies? Now be a good girl and behave yourself...or else!"

Cathy shuddered at the softly spoken yet chillingly unambiguous warning. Then, with slightly less malice, Dolores gave her one final piece of advice, before standing up and walking back out into the sunlight.

"If I were you, I'd use the next few minutes wisely, to get your breath back and conserve your energies for the next event."

For a minute or two, Cathy kept her head down and tried to compose herself. What else could they possibly have in store for her? When would this whole nightmare come to an end? But her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone approaching. Looking up, she noticed Dolores' silver-suited henchwoman standing over her. But what really caught her eye was the pair of boots that she was carrying, which looked vaguely familiar to her, although it took a second or two longer for the truth to register. Yes, these were indeed her own boots!

Lifting Cathy back to her feet, the woman grabbed the reins and looped these around a sturdy railing, so that her neck was tethered only inches away from the wooden pole. Cathy suddenly felt a hand grab her left leg and pull her foot up behind her, and seconds later the undersized boot began to slowly slide down her calf. The tight fit made this a laborious process, but after much pulling and wrenching, the stubborn boot finally released its grip and hit the floor with a dull thud. With her right foot soon succumbing to the same process, for a brief period Cathy stood with nothing but the moulded feet of her spandex cat-suit between her and the carpet of straw. But within a matter of seconds, each leg in turn was once more forcibly bent backwards, as she experienced the sensation of her own boots gliding over her foot and up her shin. After the pain of the alien, cramped foot apparel, the familiarity of her own boots comforted not only her aching toes and arches, but also served to calm her mind to a certain degree, as the threat of falling and injuring herself - during whatever task she was about to be set - now receded somewhat. And it was soon apparent that this was Dolores' reason for the change of foot attire also.

The reins being released from their mooring post, Cathy found herself once more being led from her stall. At the main stable door, Dolores stood watching as her team of pony-girls made their way back into the open air. She caught Cathy's eye.

"You didn't really think that we were going to make you race in those heels, did you? No, they were just for the dressage event. If we'd let you all go cavorting around like that on the uneven terrain of the racecourse, we'd have lots of ponies with broken ankles by the time we'd finished."

Cathy looked at the other girls as they were marshalled by their handlers out into the warm afternoon sun. She noticed that they too had relinquished their high heels, and were now also shod in sensible footwear.

For a minute of two, the harnessed and bridled beauties, with their artificial manes and tails dancing in the soft breeze, were left milling around in a small group by the stable door, under the watchful eyes of Dolores and two of her helpers, whilst the other stable girls momentarily disappeared. Cathy's gaze strayed from the group, however, desperately hoping for a sign that some member of the general public - anyone from the outside world, in fact - was within range to observe what was happening and would choose to investigate. But the house was surrounded by trees and high walls, with no view possible from the road outside. She looked into the clear blue ether, hoping that a helicopter or light aircraft might just happen to be flying at low altitude over Shackleton Grange, and that the pilot might take note of the strange events taking place below and become suspicious. But the sky was devoid of Saturday afternoon aviators and their flying machines, and as had been the case since yesterday evening, luck seemed to have deserted her when it came to potential saviours appearing on the scene.

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Her wistful thoughts of rescue were brought to an abrupt halt by a sound of what at first she thought was that of several bicycles being wheeled in her direction. Turning around, Cathy saw that each of the stable girls was pulling a strange two wheeled contraption in the direction of the cluster of pony-girls, the likes of which she had never encountered before. The wheels, about two feet in diameter, were set parallel to each other about four feet apart and connected by a raised metal axle, on which was positioned a small seat. Two shafts, approximately six feet in length, protruded forward at right angles from either side of the axle. As she watched, each of the ponies submissively allowed their equerry to secure these shafts to the waist area of the harness that they wore.

Seeing Cathy's bewilderment, Dolores was quick to explain the nature of these strange modes of transport.

"These are harness racing carts, sometimes known as a 'sulky'. They're designed for racing real horses, but I find that human ponies are much more fun."

As always, Dolores' faithful entourage were on hand to begin the process of hitching Cathy's bound and helpless frame to one of the lightweight carts. Threading the shafts through two of the stout metal rings that until now had hung redundantly from the waist area of Cathy's harness, these were soon fixed in place, before being tested to ensure that the coupling would remain steadfastly secure. The short reins that hung from her bridle were also unfastened and removed, only to be replaced by similar but longer leashes.

"Okay, let's see you walk a few paces."

To discourage hesitancy, one of the woman stepped menacingly towards Cathy, riding crop in hand. Tentatively putting one foot in front of the other, she was surprised how easy it was to pull the lightweight sulky along behind her. After covering no more than ten yards, however, one of the women grabbed Cathy's reins and led her back to her starting point. By now Dolores had sauntered off down the line of harnessed ponies, inspecting each as she went. Watching this, Cathy could see that none of the other bound females seemed in the least bit distressed or unhappy about the ordeal in which they were taking part. In fact, as she watched the stable girls attending to their trussed and tethered fillies, she could tell that they all seemed to be enjoying the attention that they were receiving. But of course, unlike herself, these women were here of their own volition, and would be going home after the weekend - indeed, they had come here knowing that they were going to be treated in this way. For Cathy, the knowledge that, for the foreseeable future, she had nothing more than day after day of unknown states of bondage, imprisonment and probably torture to look forward to, made the proceedings a lot less desirable.

Dolores had now reached the end of the line of bridled and bound beauties, and turned to address her captive audience.

"Right ladies, I know that you're all chomping at the bit - if you'll pardon the pun - to be off and running. As those of you have been here before will know, the circuit you'll be taking is around half a mile in length and goes though the wooded area, fords the stream, circles the house and arrives back here at the start. As the track isn't wide enough for overtaking, the race will be run as a time-trial. The pony with the fastest time will enjoy an evening of bondage pampering, with silk scarves and all kinds of toys and devices aimed at stimulating both mind and body. The nag who comes in with the slowest time, however, will be subject to..."

She paused for a second and stared directly at Cathy,

"...well, let's just say, this unfortunate mare will be unlikely to see the light of day for the rest of the weekend."

Cathy shuddered inwardly as she contemplated the punishment for not completing the trial in reasonable time, and from somewhere she summoned the will and determination to make certain that she wasn't the one that would be facing these unspecified, yet clearly unenviable, consequences.

"Okay then, time for the jockeys to take their positions."

At this command, Cathy suddenly felt the cart behind her dip downwards, and within seconds she could feel the increased weight that she would be expected to pull. Turning her head and looking over her right shoulder, she saw, now seated in the sulky's saddle, Dolores' silver suited, black haired lackey. She was only given a couple of seconds to gaze upon her driver, however, before an abrupt tug on the reins coincided with a sharp pain being inflicted on the left side of her mouth, as the metal bit jarred against her teeth and lips, forcing her to turn and face forwards once more.

"Right then, who wants to go first?...Cathy, how about showing the rest of the girls just how fast you can gallop?"

It was clear from Dolores' tone, that this was an order not an option, and a second or two later, the snap of a cracking whip corresponded with a jab of excruciating pain burning Cathy's already sore behind. With a stifled yelp of anguish, she lurched forward, only to find that, from a standing start, obtaining enough momentum to propel both trotting cart and driver was an extremely strenuous process. Another crack of the whip, however, was all the incentive she needed to summon up the necessary reserves of energy to ensure that the sulky began picking up speed.

With Dolores' right-hand-woman navigating by the application of quick jolts on the reins, Cathy found herself being steered down a well worn dirt track towards a thickly wooded area, around one hundred yards away from their starting position.

Upon reaching the tree-line, the contrast between the bright sunshine and the relatively shadowy cover of the spinney was instantaneous, and it took Cathy's eyes several seconds to become accustomed to the relative darkness of the sylvan environment. The track on which they travelled, up to this point relatively smooth and even, now became far less so, with tree roots and pot-holes of varying sizes making the journey much more of an obstacle course than before. Dappled sunlight penetrated through the new spring leaves and splashed an ever changing mosaic of colour onto the rides and glades through which they passed. Soft rustling sounds on the forest floor betrayed the presence of small woodland mammals; their afternoon foraging expeditions disrupted by the encroaching vehicle. And the startled chirruping calls of songbirds warned others of their kind to beware the unwelcome intruders into this, until recently, peaceful haven.

After another hundred yards or so, Cathy began to falter. Her energies fading fast from the effort of drawing the cart and its passenger ever onwards, coupled with the fear of falling on the treacherous terrain, caused her to decrease her gait from a canter to a trot, then to a fast walk. Her jockey, however, had other ideas, and with merciless use of the whip drove the reluctant pony-girl ever onwards. As they reached a clearing and the track bent away to the left, Cathy caught a glimpse, through the dense trees, of the perimeter wall; that same obstacle which she had scaled less than twenty four hours ago in order to access the premises. The realisation dawned on her that just over that wall, only yards away from where she now worked in agony to entertain the bunch of sadists who had enslaved her, people totally oblivious to her plight could be going about their daily lives; people who would, if she could get some message out to them, come to her rescue and end this whole terrible ordeal. But she knew that screaming for help would do her no good, as undoubtedly the whip would almost immediately bite hard into the already tender soft tissue of her thighs and buttocks. But of more interest to her now - and more promising as a way out of this prison camp - was the sight of a small ivy-haloed archway, hewn out of the stone wall and filled by a heavy wooden gate.

The area leading to this potential gateway to freedom seemed overgrown, which suggested to Cathy that it had been unused for many years. She'd actually come across this entrance/exit from the other side when she'd been on one of her scouting missions, and had found it locked and immovable. But that was from the outside. What if it could be opened from within? She only glimpsed it through the dense trees for a brief moment, but knew that somehow or other she had to reach this potential way out. She briefly entertained the idea of deliberately overturning the sulky and then trying to make a bolt for freedom. But the chances of her being able to tip the buggy and its occupant over in her bound state seemed virtually impossible. And the fact that, even if she could muster the strength to flip the cart over, she would still be harnessed to the shafts and unable to release herself, meant that the dream died before it had fully formed in her head. She did, however, vow to herself that she would make a beeline for this point of exit if she was given even half a chance.

The crack of leather on spandex snapped her prematurely out of escape planning mode and made her once more focus all her efforts on getting to the finish of this increasingly exhausting jaunt. As they reached a clearing, Cathy noticed that they were heading directly towards a stream. There seemed to be no bridge across this slow-running brook, nor further tracks branching off the one they were travelling. So what was to happen now? Cathy was assuming that she would be receiving an instruction to stop through means of a swift tug on the reins, but this was not forthcoming. Instead, a further lash across her tender derrière encouraged her to increase her pace.

Not daring to stop, lest such action incurred further punishment, and conscious that she had to make good time if she wasn't to finish last in the trial, Cathy sped down the slight decline to the water's edge at the nearest thing to a gallop that she could muster. Luckily the stream was only about six inches deep, but the resistance of the water slowed the cart down considerably upon entry. Fortunately, the momentum built up on descent of the bank, coupled with the narrowness of the meandering watercourse at this point, ensured that they made the far side without getting stuck midstream.

From there, the route took them up a slight incline, which Cathy, now fatigued beyond measure, found the most harrowing part of the whole race. Luckily, once the brow of the hill was reached, the going became relatively easier once more, and within seconds they had left the woods and were once more trotting out into the late afternoon sunshine. The rest of the journey, circumnavigating the main house, proved incident free, notwithstanding the fact that by the time they reached the other runners and riders at the finishing line, Cathy was on the point of collapse.

"Hmm, seven minutes, thirteen seconds. Not bad for a beginner. Maybe you were a racehorse in a former incarnation."

This was Dolores' only remark, as Cathy, still bound to the cart's shafts, dropped to her knees. On the cusp of unconsciousness, she heard Dolores' voice - seemingly distorted and far away - giving orders for the next contestants to take their places on the starting line. As her vision became ever more blurred, she felt her head slump towards the ground in what seemed like slow motion. Then there was only blackness.

Chapter 4 - The Crypt (added: 2016/11/19)

When she came to, Cathy found herself lying in the recovery position on the grass. For a second or two she forgot where she was and tried to sit up. But immediately she discovered that her arms were still encased in the unforgiving leather sleeve, although, on the plus side, she was no longer lashed to the trotting cart, and the bit had been loosened to allow it to slip from her mouth. The harness was still fastened tightly around her torso however, and the bridle straps continued to bite deeply into her face and neck. As the comprehension of where she was finally returned and her eyes were once more able to focus, she realised that there was a general hubbub of noise somewhere away to her right. Turning her head, she noticed most of the stable girls, plus Dolores and her three right- hand- women, all milling around a trotting cart that seemed to have overturned at a distance of around fifty yards from where she lay. It was obvious straightaway that one of the participants in the time trial had crashed, spilling her rider in the process. This was evidenced by the fact that the main group were now clustered around one of the woman, who was gingerly getting to her feet; her hair dishevelled and her skin-tight suit covered in dust and dirt. The ponies, all still harnessed to their carts, stood around gazing on helplessly.

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With some difficulty, due to both her bondage and her recent collapse, Cathy managed to get to her feet. She took a quick glance around. None of the other women seemed to be showing any interest in her; their attention focused instead on the accident and their fallen colleague. Although still groggy, Cathy knew that she might never get a better opportunity to make her escape. As stealthily as she could, she made a beeline for the wooded area, around one hundred yards away in the opposite direction from the crash site. As she ran, she half expected to hear a shout as the alarm was raised. But this failed to materialise. As she reached the trees, she momentarily paused and turned to look back in the direction that she had just come, hoping against hope that she wasn't going to be greeted with the sight of Dolores and her cohorts charging in hot pursuit towards their escaped convict. But for once luck was on her side, as all eyes seemed to still be focused on the victim of the carting accident.

But how long would she have before someone noticed that she had fled the scene? Probably not more than a minute or two at most. There was, she realised, no time to lose. Quickly darting into the cover of the trees, she set her course in the direction that she was sure she'd earlier glimpsed the door in the wall, which would - hopefully - lead her back into the outside world.

With her arms of no use to her, common sense told Cathy that her best chance of avoiding a potentially nasty fall would be to take the well used and comparatively level race track. But instead she left the path behind her and headed off into the undergrowth; figuring that should her disappearance be spotted sooner, rather than later, then at least she would be able to find refuge amongst the sea of ferns and tall grass that grew in tangled abundance amidst the closely packed trees.

If running in the open had been a trial, then it was nothing when compared to the going now that she was off the beaten track. Ploughing her way through the dense vegetation made a great deal of noise, as twigs snapped, leaves rustled and fallen branches and other forest floor detritus crunched underfoot. So far, however, she had been given no indication that a search party had been assembled to hunt her down. The sun's rays only rarely penetrated this deeply through the canopy above, and it was within this world of semi-darkness that Cathy blundered in her quest to locate that ancient doorway. Where was it? She stopped for a few seconds, both to get her bearings and to catch her breath. In the dim light, at first all she could make out through the gloom were trees and dense foliage in every direction. But then, she glimpsed something away to her left that looked too uniform in design to be of natural origin. She took a few steps forwards and realised at once that she was heading in the right direction. For there, only yards away, was the regular rectangular pattern of brickwork that she knew at once to be Shackleton Grange's boundary wall.

Knowing that there could be unsuspecting members of the public only a short distance away, Cathy's instincts told her that she should cry out for someone to come to her assistance. But she managed to control the urge to yell at the top of her voice at this time; figuring that this would be just as likely to attract the attention of Dolores and her team, as it was to summon these imaginary rescuers who quite possibly didn't even exist, given the fact that the house was out in the middle of nowhere. And of course, scaling the wall was out of the question given her bondage. No, the only thing to do was stick to her original plan until she came across the ancient, neglected door.

Figuring that the exit must be away to her right, she began treading cautiously through the foliage beneath the towering ancient wall. And within no more than two minutes, she spied what she was looking for: the gateway to her freedom. Or so she hoped.

As Cathy stood before the thick slab of weather-beaten wood, the first faint sound of a human voice reached her. Unfortunately, this came not from the other side of the wall, but from behind her, in the direction from which she knew her pursuers would descend upon her. There was no time to lose; she simply had to get that door open any way she could. On the right hand side of the gate, at a height of about three and a half feet from the ground, Cathy spied a handle and thumb actuated lever, in the style commonly known as a Suffolk Latch. On the left of the door, she noted with joy, the lack of visible hinges, which suggested that the door swung outwards, rather than inwards; a blessing, considering that pushing was much easier than pulling given the current state of her arms. Turning her back on the door, Cathy tried to operate this rusted fixture the only way she could, by pushing down on the lever with her mitten-enclosed hands. It took several seconds of fumbling, but once she was sure that this aim had been achieved, she leant back and pushed her weight against the wood, hoping and praying that the door would swing open.

No such luck. She pushed again as hard as she could, desperately anticipating the moment when the heavy wooden obstruction would give way and allow her to make her escape. This wished for scenario failed to materialise, however. With tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes, Cathy turned and gazed at the door. Why wouldn't it open? The mystery was soon solved. For right at the top, only an inch or so below the doorway's stone lintel, she encountered the reason for the door's refusal to budge. Rusted and probably not released from its staple for many a year, she spied a bolt that kept trespassers from using this as a gateway onto the mansion's grounds...and now acted to ensure that this despairing captive wasn't going to use it as a means of leaving either. If her hands had been free, Cathy could simply have reached up and - providing the whole thing hadn't rusted up and become unmovable - made her getaway. But whether this bar to her progress still functioned as it should was a moot point right now. With her arms held in check behind her back, and her fingers encased in a mitten of tightly secured leather, there was no way she could reach up and test the efficiency of this hindrance to her freedom.

The voices were getting louder now, with Dolores barking out orders to all and sundry. Not all her words could be made out clearly, but one phrase that Cathy caught with crystal clarity made her shudder with renewed fear.

"That girl is in so much trouble when I get hold of her. I'll chain her up and throw away the key."

In her terror, Cathy smashed her foot as hard as she could several times into the stubbornly shut barrier in front of her. It wasn't that she had any realistic hope of the gate suddenly miraculously giving way, but the notion of once more being caught and bound up for evermore in some dark and dingy hellhole was just too much to bear. Her kicks had very little effect, other than to make the door rattle and squeak on its hinges. But one unwelcome consequence that did stem directly from this dull but reasonably loud thudding of boot on timber, was that it alerted the hunting party to the precise whereabouts of their quarry.

"So, my little runaway, thought you could outsmart me did you?"

The voice that Cathy had dreaded hearing sent waves of panic rushing to every extremity of her body. She turned around and saw Dolores standing twenty yards from the gate; legs apart, arms akimbo, as was her wont. She was frowning and her hair was tousled and unkempt - a consequence of making her way through the dense undergrowth. Standing just behind her, on either side, Cathy could see her three ever-present dogsbodies, plus several of the stable girls. All stared menacingly at their cornered prey.

Cathy sunk to her knees and sobbed, as the realisation hit home that her bid for freedom had failed. Through her tears, she began begging pitifully for mercy.

"Please! You've had your fun with me. If you let me go now I swear I won't tell anyone! Please, I'm begging you. LET ME GO!"

The hint of a smile forced its way into Dolores' features, as she made her way forwards; motioning with her hands for her colleagues to keep their distance just for now. Approaching to within two feet of her cowering captive, she knelt down and looked her directly in the eyes. Forcing the bit back into Cathy's mouth, she secured the strap tightly, tutting disappointedly as she did so.

"Cathy, Cathy, Cathy. Did you really think that I'd be so stupid as to leave an escape route open so that you could just leave without saying goodbye? You really have underestimated me haven't you? Well now you're going to have to pay the price for all this inconvenience you've put me and my guests through."

Then adding as an afterthought,

"Oh and by the way, the two girls involved in the little accident you witnessed? Both pony and jockey are fine; a bit shaken up but no lasting damage...But thanks for asking."

Standing up, she grabbed Cathy by the shoulders and pulled the still quivering female to her feet; her thoughts returning to the matter in hand.

"So, firstly, I'm going to have to increase your sentence. Let me see now, how much longer do you think this little misdemeanour is worth?"

She paused and pretended to weigh matters up for a few seconds, but it was obvious that this was just for show, and that her mind was already made up on this issue.

"Let's say an extra month, shall we? That makes four months and one week by my reckoning."

For a second or two, Dolores averted her eyes from Cathy and rallied her troops.

"Okay ladies, let's make sure Cathy is all snugly locked up for the night, shall we?"

As the women advanced, she turned back to the softly weeping Cathy.

"I know just the place to keep naughty girls like you all safe and secure for twenty four hours or so. Don't worry though, you won't be alone."

Being frogmarched by Dolores' three ever faithful servants, whilst surrounded and closely monitored by the other women, Cathy found herself being taken deeper into the underbrush, until she had completely lost her bearings. Suddenly, through the maze of moss covered old growth timber and dense, tangled briars and brambles that grasped and tugged at her legs and occasionally stabbed through the spandex of her skin-tight outfit, Cathy caught a glimpse of a lichen encrusted granite and marble edifice that rose from the forest floor to a height of more than ten feet. Architecturally elegant, this domed structure was clearly of great age. And it was obvious, from the way the woodland flora had encroached and embraced the lower reaches of the solemn grey masonry, that it was several years since anyone had been out here. Cathy's panic rose to a state bordering on hysteria, as she was forcibly led around the periphery of this strange building. But to her surprise she found that there was no door or other point of entry visible in the tightly packed stonework. But why, if this wasn't to be her place of confinement, had she been brought here? And if she was to be entombed here, how was she to be interred? The answer to these questions was not long in coming.

As Dolores began to address her whimpering convict once again, Cathy watched in wide-eyed dismay as the three slaves located a large steel ring that was set in one of the blocks of stone, and slowly, with great effort and much straining of muscles, began to slide the solid slab out from its resting place.

"This mausoleum was established by the original owners of Shackleton Grange about five hundred years ago. For generations, it was the burial place of the lords and ladies of the manor, right up until the middle of the nineteenth century."

The huge square of stone had now been removed, to reveal a black chasm that lead into the heart of this long forgotten crypt.

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"So, as I said, you won't be alone in there. Rumour has it that some of the - what shall we call them? - 'residents' of the tomb were murdered, or maybe committed suicide, and that their spirits aren't at peace. Some say they've heard strange noises coming from within, or seen lights floating through the trees in this vicinity. Personally, I don't believe in ghosts, and I'm sure you don't either, do you Cathy? Either way, you can let me know tomorrow whether you have anybody from the netherworld come and visit you during the night."

As several of the women forced her into a sitting position on the stone step that formed the base of the monument, Cathy screamed as loudly as she could, and once again tried to convince Dolores that she didn't have to incarcerate her in this archaic tomb. She would, she promised, be good from now on and not attempt to escape again. It did her no good, of course. But it did highlight to Dolores and her crew the fact that the bit was very inefficient as a muffler of sound. Measures to rectify this situation were soon put into place, however.

Without being summoned to do so, one of the women stepped forward and, before Cathy knew what was happening, loosened the bridle momentarily and yanked the bit from between her teeth. In its place, a cavity filling piece of rolled up cloth was unceremoniously inserted; after which, the bridle was once again strapped tightly around her jaw to ensure the makeshift gag remained in-situ. Whilst this was going on, several other women busied themselves by removing the boots from Cathy's legs and strictly binding lengths of white rope at strategic intervals from ankles to thighs. Half-heartedly, Cathy wriggled and squirmed as her state of captivity once more worsened to a point where she could no longer stand, let alone contemplate running away. As the binding process drew to a close, Cathy glanced up at Dolores, who had taken a step or two back to watch as her subjects finished their rigging duties. Although tears blurred her vision, she was sure that she could discern a smile of satisfaction on the face of her principal tormentor.

"Okay girls, that should hold her. I know it's only mid afternoon, but I think it's time to put Cathy to rest for the night."

On this command, several pairs of hands lifted Cathy up bodily and began to insert her into the space left open by the displaced block of stone. As she was pushed head first into the narrow tunnel, Cathy made one final plea to be spared this latest in a long line of nightmarish ordeals. But to no avail. As her head made its way deeper into the echoing dark interior of the mausoleum, the tight passageway suddenly broadened out into a high ceilinged chamber. And as she was forced further into the bowels of this stone sepulchre, so the light from outside dimmed, until all that was left was a shaft of dusky luminance from the opening through which she'd just entered. As Cathy gazed around in terror at her new surroundings, she noticed, on either side of her, several crumbling stone sarcophagi, clearly the final resting places of the long dead lords and ladies of the manor. This view of tonight's accommodation, however, was short-lived, as the grating sound of the stone being manoeuvred back into its original position reached her ears, and the shadowy grey gloom promptly gave way to an unbroken vista of pitch blackness. It matched Cathy's mood to a tee.

"Right ladies, let's get back to our ponies, shall we? Let's hope they haven't all decided to run off as well."

Dolores' words - faintly heard, as if spoken from afar - were the last sounds Cathy heard before silence descended within her confining chamber of stone. The urge to scream was overwhelming, but what good would it do her? Breathing deeply, to try to rein in a state of hysteria that was threatening to explode at any moment, Cathy tried to think rationally about her situation. As far as she could recall, the block of stone had simply been eased out to create the opening in the thick wall of the crypt. So if it could be pulled from the outside, then surely she should be able to push with her feet and remove it just as easily.

It was a logical theory. But of course the reality of the situation wasn't that simple. For a start, now that she was in complete darkness, locating the exact spot where she'd made her entrance wouldn't be an easy task. Secondly, it had taken three women to pull the stone out, and presumably as many to reinsert it into the gap. So could she reasonably expect to achieve this feat on her own? And, of course, the women who removed, then reinserted the stone hadn't been bound hand and foot. Tentatively pushing at the wall with her spandex covered feet in the general area that she was sure the exit had to be situated, brought no cause for optimism that the cold block of stone was about to slide away any time soon.

Every hour that she spent in the sealed mausoleum of stone seemed to pass like a day to the helplessly bound and interred young cat burglar. With the bridle still strapped securely around her head, the harness likewise around her torso, her arms trammelled by the inescapable bondage sleeve, and her legs tethered with strict ropes, Cathy's movements were limited to merely altering the position she was lying in every so often to make herself as comfortable as possible; not an easy task when the floor on which she languished was rock hard.

Very little sound penetrated through the walls of her tomb - no bird song or rustling of leaves, and most definitely no sound of human voices or activity. And if very little sound could penetrate the thick walls, then it seemed a logical conclusion that outgoing noise would be equally obliterated. The inside of the tomb was also deathly quiet; a condition which Cathy was more than happy with, seeing as how only rats and other small rodents - or possibly troubled spirits of the dead - were likely to be sharing her accommodation that night. The blackness of the void into which her eyes stared was absolute and offered no chink of light, either physical or metaphorical, as to how, if Dolores didn't return, she would ever get out of here alive. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be a problem with the supply of air reaching her, although the source of this life sustaining oxygen was a mystery to her.

Over and over again, Cathy replayed in her head the circumstances that had brought her to this sorry state of affairs. Her entry into the house, her capture, the straitjacket, the courtroom farce, the vacuum bed, the transformation into a human horse, the traumatic time-trial, and her so-close-but-yet-so-far escape bid; all were replayed and analysed by her troubled mind time and time again. But one question dominated her thought processes throughout: how was she going to get out of this mess?

Unfortunately, no answer was forthcoming.

After what seemed like several days, Cathy's ears pricked up at the first sound of any relevance since this enforced period of confinement had begun. Initially, after so long without aural stimulation, she wondered whether her senses were playing tricks on her. But then, the unmistakable grinding of stone again stone told her that, at last, the heavy obstruction blocking the exit was being slowly pulled back.

A shaft of very dim light suddenly sprang into being, which coincided with a blast of cooler air hitting her. Through the twilight, she watched as a pair of female hands reached into the opening, followed a second or two later by the head and shoulders of a woman she recognised as the blonde member of Dolores' permanent ladies-in-waiting, still attired in her bright pink second skin, as she had been yesterday. The hood still covered her head, save for the area around her eyes and nose. Naturally, she made no effort to speak, but merely grabbed Cathy by her still bound ankles and began hauling her out of the stone chamber.

After a few seconds of being dragged inelegantly through the short tunnel, Cathy emerged feet first into the outside world. Immediately she noticed, from the fact that the woods were in twilight, that it was now late evening. As she'd been incarcerated in full daylight on the afternoon of the previous day, it became apparent that her time in solitary confinement had been much more than twenty four hours, and probably more like thirty. As she looked around, she observed three shadowy figures step forward from the gloom and join their pink-clad colleague, who was by now standing directly over Cathy's prostrate form; the tightly fitting leather boots only inches from her face, as if making sure that any attempt at escape was instantly foiled.

One of the figures who stepped forward was clothed in closely fitting red leather, and even before Cathy had time to look up at her face, she knew that this was Dolores.

"Nice to see you again Cathy. I hope the ghosts and ghouls didn't frighten you too much. Now perhaps you can see what happens to unruly girls who try to escape my clutches. I do hope that your time locked away in there has made you realise that being compliant and accepting your sentence with good grace will make life a lot less disagreeable for you than if you disobey the terms and conditions under which you're being held."

She motioned to her troops.

"Get her back to the house girls. I think she's suffered enough out here for the time being."

Cathy was expecting her legs to be untied, but instead two of the hooded women picked her up and carried her; one grabbing her feet, the other her shoulders. Soon they had cleared the trees and were traipsing across the deserted courtyard towards the house, the windows of which were all in darkness, bar one or two at ground level. As they marched along, Dolores explained the absence of the other guests.

"My clients have all gone home now Cathy - we even let Chantelle out of the wardrobe eventually. That's not an option for you though. They all had a great time either tying or being tied up. And now they're back out in real world, with their jobs to go to tomorrow and all the trials and tribulations that are a part of modern life. But they all said how invigorating their stay here had been, and most, if not all of them, will be back for more. That's what happens when you get seriously embroiled in bondage - you find you really can't live without it. You'll be thinking along those lines too soon enough, I'm sure."

Cathy made a strange moaning sound through her gag, which was supposed to communicate something to the effect that she was certain she would never actually enjoy being bound and gagged. But what faint whimpering sound did manage to trouble the still night air was unintelligible, even to her.

"Oh, and by the way, if you're harbouring expectations of any of the ladies you encountered over the weekend raising the alarm regarding your continued imprisonment here, then I'm afraid you're going to be extremely disappointed. They went away thinking that everything they saw - your entrance on Friday evening, the trial, the races, your escape bid - were all staged for their benefit. As far as they're concerned, it was just role play and you were enjoying your bondage just as much as they were."

By now the travelling party had reached the house and were entering through a small side door. Once inside, Dolores commanded her minions to convey their human cargo upstairs.

"Take her to the guest bathroom on the second floor, will you? Then you can call it a night. You've all done a really good job this weekend, so, as a reward, you can take the rest of the evening off."

The three women showed no emotion, as obediently they began the task of transporting Cathy up a narrow staircase. The corridors were ill-lit and the floorboards squeaked and groaned as the convoy made their upward journey. Finally reaching their destination, one member of the mute triad unlocked one of the myriad of nondescript doors. As soon as the ancient wooden structure had swung open, her colleagues carried Cathy inside, before leaving their helpless captive standing precariously upright on the highly polished, tile covered floor. This room was better illuminated than the corridor outside, and as Cathy's bound feet fought desperately to retain her balance, she noticed a shower cubicle in one corner, with a toilet and wash basin also in evidence. Her time teetering on the brink of an injurious plunge to the floor, however, lasted only a few seconds, as one of the women steadied her by grasping her shoulders, whilst another began undoing the straps on the bridle that had held her jaw in such tight constriction for well over a day. The gagging material was also jettisoned at this juncture, and was allowed to fall to the floor in a crumpled, saliva-saturated ball.

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This remission from the bondage headwear was short-lived, however, for as soon as the pressure on her face eased with the loosening straps, the familiar leather hood that she'd worn the previous night was brought into play again, and within seconds Cathy's blindness returned. With the facial covering in place, the click of the padlock at her neck informed her that the hood was no longer removable without access to the key.

Cathy viewed the application of this sensory depriving cover with mixed feelings. For hadn't they briefly sheathed her head in this same hood during the interim period when they'd removed the straitjacket, prior to vacuum packing her? If the locking of the hood around her face could be seen as a precursor to the removal of her bonds, then removal of the arm-binder and leg ropes should shortly follow, which would be a great relief to her stiff and aching limbs. On the other side of the coin, of course, was the knowledge that this respite for her fatigued arms and legs would be only fleeting, as other methods of bondage - as yet unknown - would undoubtedly follow within no more than a few minutes.

And this ultimately proved to be exactly the case, although there were other surprises in store for Cathy before her bonds were renewed. Firstly, the rope bondage that had held her legs in such close proximity to each other was removed, followed by the unbuckling and stripping away of the tight harness that had bitten deeply into the spandex covered flesh of her body with such painful stringency for so long. A moment or two later, she experienced the sensation of the straps that held the arm-binder in place loosening, before the lacing was slowly unpicked, allowing her elbows more freedom than they'd been accustomed to for many a long hour. The long redundant rope around her wrists was also unknotted and removed.

Her release from bondage, even though she realised that she was no closer to real freedom, was a liberating experience, and one that she'd been anticipating since the hood had been sealed around her head. But what happened next caught her totally unawares and caused her to scream in shock and surprise. For her next sensory experience - no more than a second or two after the last of her bonds had been detached - was the awareness of a pair of hands grasping the stretch material of her cat-suit at the shoulders and immediately beginning to ease the tightly fitting material down over her breasts; disrobing her hands and arms in the process . As she made every effort to halt the woman in her endeavours to undress her - and indeed tried to reverse the process - she found two more sets of hands grab and hold her arms firmly in vice like grips, as the smooth, close fitting fabric slithered slowly past her hips and over her thighs. Within seconds they were pulling the soft material over her ankles, and Cathy's feet now came into direct contact with the cold tiles.

Since her capture, the one crumb of comfort that had been left to the otherwise unfortunate thief, was that she had been allowed to remain in her skin-tight layer of clothing. During that first night of uncertainty in the straitjacket, and once more during her bleak experience of the crypt, the caress of the spandex against her skin had been a familiar and reassuring presence in an otherwise tense and desperately lonely time. Now, however, with her clothing removed, her nudity brought with it the feeling of increased vulnerability and insecurity. For a few seconds, there was only silence in the room, and Cathy envisioned the trio of subservient woman standing by and watching her. Covering her breasts with her left arm, and placing her right hand over her sex, she waited in trembling uncertainty as to what was about to occur next.

As if on cue, the sound of a pair of high heels traversing the corridor grew louder for several seconds, before the creaking of a door told Cathy that someone else had entered the room. And it was no surprise when the newcomer turned out to be Dolores.

"Hmm, very nice. Very nice indeed."

The heels clicked on the tiled floor as she came across to where Cathy stood in trembling silence. From very close to her leather-clad head, she heard Dolores say in a hushed voice.

"Now Cathy, I know that you and I got off on the wrong foot, what with you breaking into my house, then trying to escape. But now I think it's time to call a truce, don't you?

She waited a few seconds, as if expecting some response, but when none was forthcoming, she continued.

"So what I propose now is to show you what life here can be like if you play by the rules. You may even find that I'm actually quite a nice person when you get to know me."

Cathy heard her pace across the room.

"So what I've got planned for this evening is to let you have a nice hot shower, then get you fed and watered, before we sit down in front of the fire and have a nice long chat. How does that sound to you?"

The question was obviously a rhetorical one, as she waited no time for an answer before addressing her slaves once more.

"Right girls, just help me get her in the shower and you can call it a day."

Cathy felt three pairs of hands usher her towards the shower cubicle. Once inside, the sound of the door sliding shut reached her ears. Outside, Dolores was in the process of dismissing her troops.

"You've all worked really hard this weekend - especially as we had this unexpected problem to deal with. I've got a special surprise treat for you, so go back to your quarters and I'll be along in a few minutes."

The sound of the three women's heels filing out of the room was followed by their gradually fading footfalls echoing down the long, empty corridor. Dolores waited until the sound had died away, before turning once more to her naked captive. She pulled back the shower screen again, and forced a large bar of soap into Cathy's hand, before once more shutting the door. Almost instantly, a torrent of lukewarm water cascaded down upon the unsuspecting inmate. It was the surprise as much as anything else that made her squeal, although the coldness of the water was also a major shock, and she felt goose-bumps break out all over her body; the chill making her nipples instantly stand erect. Mercifully, within a few seconds, the water had heated up to a more agreeable temperature and she began to find the constant stream refreshing and invigorating. She only wished that the hood would be removed, not only so that she could see, but so that she could allow this surge of revitalising liquid to wash through her hair.

"Don't just stand there. You've got soap and water, so make good use of them."

Self-consciously, Cathy began to do as she was told. Although Dolores remained silent for several minutes, Cathy got the feeling that she was being watched at all times. The floor was becoming slippery from the constantly splattering water intermixing with soap lather, and in her blindness Cathy found herself leaning against one wall of the cubicle, to make sure she didn't lose her footing. Having soaped herself all over from the neck down, she stood beneath the warm spray to rinse herself off. As quickly as it had begun, however, the deluge suddenly ceased, followed a second or two later by the door once again opening. Dolores took the now depleted soap from Cathy's hand.

"Turn around."

Cathy must have hesitated, because the command was repeated, with a hint of menace this time. Doing as she was told, Cathy found her wrists being grabbed and roughly pulled behind her back.

"What are you going to do?"

Her query was muffled by the hood and ignored, although in reality it didn't need a reply, as Cathy knew only too well what was about to befall her. She wasn't one hundred percent certain at the time exactly what it was that Dolores used to bind her wrists, but it didn't feel like rope. It seemed to have the texture of a very thin strip of leather, which tightened to the point where it bit deeply into her flesh to the extent that she gasped involuntarily with anguish. With the knot secured, she immediately tried to pull her hands free, but found them securely trapped. Being naked and soaking wet, with her nipples still standing to attention, Cathy felt her level of vulnerability rise to a new level. What did Dolores have planned for her now? A hundred possibilities ran through her head at that moment, none of them particularly pleasant. But what actually transpired, turned out to be none of these feared options. Instead, to Cathy's surprise, she felt first the straps, then the lacing on the hood slacken, and within seconds the wet leather was being pulled away from her head. Cathy's eyes immediately fell upon the form of her tormentor, standing in the small cubicle only a few inches away in her second skin of bright red leather. Automatically, Cathy tried to back away, but the cramped conditions meant that she almost instantly felt the wall at her back. Dolores smiled, and for the first time this facial expression seemed to radiate a certain degree of warmth, as opposed to the sly, devious smirks that had been her forte up until now.

"Why are you shying away from me Cathy? I'm only trying to help you get cleaned up."

Cathy noticed that Dolores had removed the detachable shower head from its wall bracket and now held it in her right hand. In her left was a bottle of shampoo. Briefly, she turned the water on and aimed it at Cathy's straggly, rat-tailed locks, until they were soaked through. Then she applied shampoo to the tangled mass and began massaging it into her scalp. Stunned by this sudden show of gentleness and compassion, Cathy remained motionless; wondering all the time whether this was a genuine act of altruism, or merely the prelude to some form of punishment or torture. Thankfully, it turned out to be the former. Dolores replaced the shower head in its bracket.

"Okay, I'm just going to get some fresh towels. Be a good girl and get all the shampoo out of your hair while I'm gone."

Stepping out of the cubicle, she shut the screen door, before turning the water on once more, and it occurred to Cathy at this point that the controls were outside the cubicle; an unusual set up, it seemed. But then it dawned on her that this was intentional, and that this shower room had in the past probably played host to operations similar to the one now taking place. Or put another way, it was utilised for the washing of guests in various states of bondage, who were unable to turn the water on and off for themselves.

Through the steam and the splattered Perspex screen, Cathy watched as Dolores exited the room, closing the bathroom door with the mandatory creaking of the hinges.

For a minute or two, Cathy allowed the torrent to flow through her now revitalised hair; feeling the warm torrent douse her troubled head with its soothing rain. Soon, she knew, Dolores would be returning. But then what? Despite two days of captivity, plus the knowledge that being caught trying to escape would bring further woes to bear on her, Cathy's spirit still desperately craved freedom. And she knew that, if this weekend was anything to go by, the chances of making a getaway would be few and far between. So any opportunity, however unlikely it might be to succeed, had to be seized and acted upon. It was obvious that she was to be bound for 99.9% of the time, and that for the other 0.1%, her head would undoubtedly be encased in the hood and locked at the neck. So being alone, with only her hands bound behind her back, was too good a chance to pass up. Moreover, now that she knew that the other guests had vacated the premises, surely, with only Dolores and her three subservient wenches still around, she would have a far better chance of sneaking out undetected.

But of course, the obstacles to be overcome were still frighteningly daunting. Not only did she have to get out of the shower cubicle and then the bathroom with her hands bound behind her. But she had to navigate her way through the maze of corridors, find a door leading outside that wasn't locked and bolted, then negotiate the grounds and somehow breach the high perimeter walls or security gate. And all whilst completely naked! But these concerns, whilst in the back of her mind, were of secondary concern to Cathy at the moment. Take one step at a time, she told herself. If things go wrong and you get caught, then so be it. But if she didn't at least try to escape when the moment presented itself, she knew she would regret it.

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Turning around, Cathy reached out with her tightly bound hands and grabbed the handle of the shower door. Her first two or three attempts to force it open ended in failure, but finally she managed to drag the sliding screen back just far enough to squeeze out of the tiny cubicle. The sudden chill, after the warm comfort of the shower, was a shock to the system, and this, coupled with the cold tiles beneath her feet, caused a shiver to race up her spine as she cautiously made her way across the room. The door that led into the corridor beyond was also shut, but Cathy immediately set to work trying to open this next obstacle. With wet hands, grasping the door knob proved tricky, and once again it took her several attempts to manoeuvre herself into a position where she could successfully get the stiff handle to budge. Her desperately clawing fingers finally triumphed, however, and she began the strenuous task of pulling the solid oak panel towards her. As always, the movement of this ancient wooden obstruction sent out its rasping alarm signal, as it reluctantly shifted the required distance to allow Cathy to slither through the gap. Feeling elated that she had overcome these first hurdles, Cathy blundered out into the dimly lit corridor; ready to take on whoever or whatever stood in her path to freedom.

Chapter 5 - Conflicting Emotions (added: 2016/12/18)

"Just where do you think you're going young lady?"

Less than two yards away, leaning against the wall, stood Dolores. Cathy froze. In her single-minded quest to exit the bathroom, she had failed to look further ahead for any potential hazards that might be blocking her route. Dolores sighed, disappointedly.

"You really do like making life difficult for yourself, don't you Cathy? I deliberately left you here all alone to see if you'd try something stupid, or whether you'd finally learnt that disobedience will always get you into trouble. I was hoping it was the latter, but I now see that my trust in you is misplaced. Looks like you need another lesson in discipline."

Cathy stood in frozen fear in the dimly illuminated corridor, water dripping from her hair and body onto the floor with soft plopping sounds that seemed to echo eerily during the momentary silence that followed Dolores' threat. Before she could even think of turning and fleeing down the corridor in the other direction, Dolores had lunged towards her and grasped her by the shoulder; her long talon-like nails biting deeply into her captive's tender flesh.

"Let's get you back into the shower, shall we? I don't think you've quite rinsed all the soap off yet."

Roughly hustling and pushing her reluctant house guest back into the bathroom, Cathy soon found herself back within the confining walls of the shower booth. Too scared to even contemplate trying to resist, she could only watch in wide eyed horror as Dolores picked up the leather hood and, with an expertise that spoke of years of practice, swiftly pulled this over her prisoner's head and strapped it in place. The now familiar rasp of the sliding door told Cathy that she was once again encapsulated in the confined space. And almost immediately, a rushing sound informed her that, within a split second, she would once more be getting a soaking. This time, however, instead of the warm stream she'd so recently enjoyed, the jet of water that bounced off her shoulders then quickly drenched the rest of her body and legs, was freezing cold. Cathy shrieked with surprise as the icy cascade flowed relentlessly down upon her. Instinctively, she moved to one side, in an effort to avoid the worst of the frigid torrent that had numbed her entire being within seconds of its commencement. But every way she turned - no matter how close to the walls of this confining compartment she tried to huddle - there was no escape from the constant freezing downpour. Above the whooshing sound of the perpetually gushing inundation, Dolores' words could just be made out.

"There you go Cathy. That usually has the desired effect of cooling down hot-headed young things that think they can outsmart me. I'm just going to leave you there for a few minutes while I sort out the special treat that I've got planned for my three slaves. Don't go away, I won't be too long."

And with that, the bathroom door could be heard shutting, and Cathy knew that she was once more alone.

Trying to force her way out of the increasingly arctic-like shower stall was, now that she could no longer see, a non starter. Crouching down on the floor and curling herself up into as small a ball as she could, Cathy shivered in one corner of the small space in which she was trapped; trying to ensure that her leather covered head took the brunt of the liquid onslaught that seemed, if anything, to be getting colder by the second. For what seemed like half an hour, but was probably in reality only around half that time, Cathy endured this nightmarish outpouring from the nozzle situated only a few inches above her head, yet entirely beyond her reach.

Just as the notion that she could die of hypothermia had begun to set in, Cathy heard the door to the bathroom creak open. To her great relief, seconds later the raging cascade of frostbite-inducing water slowly eased in intensity and finally ceased altogether. Although the screen door was now sliding noisily back, Cathy remained huddled in the corner, shaking violently in her sub-zero hell.

"So my little jailbird, I hope that this experience has taught you a valuable lesson. If you ever again get some insane notion in your head about trying to leave, just remember this little episode and realise that next time the punishment will be a hundred times worse."

Cathy felt Dolores' hand touch her shoulder. She was expecting to be roughly forced to her feet, but strangely this harsh treatment failed to materialise. Instead she found herself being eased gently into a standing position and, to her great delight, she felt her wrist bond loosen and fall away, before a warm towel was wrapped around her shoulders. Automatically, Cathy began massaging her sore wrists with fingers that felt like blocks of ice.

"Now dry yourself off darling and we'll get you all warmed up again. Then we'll get you something to eat."

The harshness in Dolores' voice had now dissipated, to be replaced with an almost friendly tone. But this only made Cathy wary of her motives. Despite the hood that covered her captive's features, however, Dolores must have sensed this unease and began to explain her reasoning for this abrupt change of policy.

"Don't worry Cathy, I've decided that you've been punished enough for your misdemeanours. For the rest of the evening I'm going to give you a lesson in how pleasant your time here could be, if only you'd come to terms with your sentence and start acting like a model prisoner."

Having rubbed herself down with the wonderfully soft and comforting towel, Cathy at last managed to get some warmth back into her body and limbs; her fingers and toes tingling as the feeling began to return to her extremities once more. Although still confined in a world of blackness, she sensed Dolores' presence only a few feet away, and therefore endeavoured to keep as much of her anatomy covered at all times. So she was delighted when, having dried herself off from neck to toes, Dolores handed her a familiar textured garment and encouraged her to get dressed.

"It's not actually your own cat-suit, as I've taken that away to be washed. But this one should fit you just as well. I thought that, as you arrived here in spandex, you'd probably like something similar to put on now."

Cathy felt her way around the new one-piece costume, until she could make out which appendages were the arms and which the legs. She discovered at an early stage that, unlike her own outfit, this borrowed garment lacked built in feet and gloves; the material merely ending in cuffs at the wrist and stirrups at the ankle. But the fact that she could once more cover her nakedness was a source of great relief, and the reassuring sensation of the soft fabric gliding effortlessly up her legs with a barely audible swishing sound, seemed to engender a soothing calmness in her.Getting into figure hugging outfits such as this was second nature to Cathy, and even without her sight, she quickly coaxed the almost fluid material over her legs and torso up to her throat. This particular cat-suit, it seemed, was slightly smaller than her own and clung even more tightly to her curves than the one she'd arrived in forty eight hours or so ago. Once she'd smoothed out any wrinkles in the fabric - of which there were very few - she stood waiting, awkwardly and self-consciously, to see what the Mistress had planned for her next. The answer was not long in coming.

"Turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Cathy knew by now that there was no point disobeying this order, and that hesitation was not in her best interests. So reluctantly she complied. Within no more than ten seconds, she experienced the sensation of cold metal bracelets encircling both wrists, and it didn't take a genius to fathom out that these rings of steel were conjoined, so that she was once more in a state of inescapable bondage. The one good thing about this, of course, was that the sight restricting hood could now be relinquished, as almost at once she felt the leather riding up over her face. As the water-heavy headwear cleared the top of her head, her lank, wet hair fell in matted strands around her face, obscuring her vision momentarily. Dolores was quickly on hand to sweep these away from her eyes, however. She was smiling.

"Come on Cathy, let's go downstairs and find you something to eat. You must be starving."

Along endless musty corridors and passageways with their cobweb filled nooks and crannies, past countless anonymous doorways and down gloomy spiral staircases, Dolores led her submissive convict; the collar and chain that she'd attached to Cathy's neck just prior to exiting the bathroom ensuring that she didn't stray far from their intended course.

Once at ground level, Dolores led the way into a room that Cathy had never seen before, which turned out to be a parlour, complete with log fire burning fiercely in the hearth. Beckoning her internee to sit in a solid upright chair a few feet away from the crackling flames, Dolores began to secure her less than enthusiastic guest with lengths of soft white rope. Her ankles and knees were the first parts of her anatomy to succumb to the restrictive bindings, but once her lower limbs had been dealt with, Cathy found herself being lashed rigorously to the stout wooden piece of furniture from shoulders to thighs. With the binding process complete, Dolores' attention was briefly distracted, as she added another log to the fire, and Cathy took this fleeting opportunity to test these latest ligatures and knots. But she found that even the slightest movement was enough to make the chair creak. Without averting her sight from the now rampant blaze, Dolores scolded her for this act of defiance.

"I hope you're not trying to break free Cathy, because that would be seen as gross misconduct. This is your final warning. Now stay perfectly still or your sentence will be increased again."

Realising the hopelessness of her situation, Cathy desisted. But if she thought that this latest act of insubordination might bring about a change for the worse in the way she was to be treated, she was to be pleasantly surprised.

"Now Cathy, what can I get you to eat?"

Dolores walked across to the far side of the room and Cathy noticed for the first time a long table that still had the remains of a lavish spread of food laid out on silver platters.

"This is what's left of the 'farewell buffet' I gave my weekend guests before they departed homewards. There's still plenty left as you can see. So what would you like? We have smoked salmon sandwiches, caviar, pâté de foie gras, several different quiches and a wide variety of cheeses and cold meats. Then for dessert you can choose from lemon cheesecake, chocolate mousse or profiteroles. And how about a glass of champagne to wash it all down?"

She looked back across the room at Cathy; the flickering flames from the fire causing strange shapes and shadows to dance around the walls and across the high ceiling, giving Dolores' features an almost fluid and ghostly quality in the dancing amber light.

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"So what's it to be Cathy? A little bit of everything, perhaps?"

Without waiting for an answer, Dolores picked a few items from the various salvers, and returned with the plate of epicurean delights to where the now motionless Cathy sat.

In truth, the food was passed its 'best before' date, having been left in the warm room for several hours. But Cathy didn't mind too much, seeing as how, apart from the disgusting porridge she'd been force fed yesterday, she hadn't eaten in over two days. The champagne, too, was flat, warm and passed its prime. But for a parched throat such as Cathy's, it was akin to a soothing balm of nectar. As Dolores patiently handfed her captive - not rushing her, or attempting to make her eat anything she didn't like the look of - she expanded on her earlier explanation of the workings of her strange organisation known as BATH.

"Well Cathy, my Bondage Convention weekend was a great success... especially as we found a new plaything to keep us entertained, i.e. you! We hold these celebrations of all things bondage once a month and you just happened to chance upon us at the right time... although I guess that you don't see it quite that way at the moment. Don't worry though, you'll eventually come around to my way of thinking."

She drained the last of the champagne from the bottle equally into two flutes, downed hers in one, then held the second glass to Cathy's lips.

"Of course, the weekend conventions are not the only events that the Bound And Totally Helpless society organise. There are bondage evening classes three times a week; beginners on Mondays, intermediate on Wednesdays and advanced on Thursdays. When you become more acclimatised to life here, you can be one of the 'guinea pigs' for my students to try their skills on if you like."

It was obvious that the "if you like" part of this statement was not actually open to debate.

"And then there are the bondage parties - or 'BATH Nights' as we call them - held every Saturday night on weeks when there's no convention running. Lots of drink, food and dancing.... and strict bondage of course. And I'd like to invite you along as my partner to the next one, this coming Saturday. I know that's still six days away, but it's something for you to look forward to! After all, you're going to have plenty of time on your hands to reflect on the error of your ways and ponder over your future during the next few months, and a lot of it is going to be spent on your own in and in darkness. At least having the occasional light at the end of the tunnel should help keep your spirits up."

Once Cathy had indicated that she had partaken sufficiently of the food on offer, Dolores wasted no time in ensuring that any future conversation would be a one way affair. Pushing what looked like a rolled up pair of tights into her mouth, she then preceded to seal this in place with numerous circuits of duct tape around her victim's lower face and head.

For the next couple of hours, Cathy was subjected to a virtually continuous monologue; her own contributions being limited to a mere nod or shake of the head, or the occasional non-committal shrug of the shoulders, when prompted to respond. It was clear that Dolores liked the sound of her own voice, and having a captive audience was something that she relished.

Over the course of this lengthy address, Cathy learnt everything about Dolores; from her early attraction to bondage ("I was tying my friends up from the age of four, when I discovered an alternative use for a skipping rope."), to her acquisition of Shackleton Grange ("I inherited this place from my great uncle Cornelius. It's funny, but I never actually met the eccentric old fool. It seems that he didn't get on with the rest of the family, so decided to donate the whole estate to me, just to spite them."). And all the time, Cathy sat there in silence, her mind preoccupied with one question and one question only:

Will I ever get out of this place?

After what seemed like an eternity, with the fire now reduced to smouldering grey embers, Dolores yawned and stretched in the armchair that she'd been ensconced in since she had started relating her life story. Somewhere in another room, a clock struck the hour, informing Cathy that it was now midnight.

"I think that's enough reminiscing for one night, don't you? It's been nice talking to you Cathy. We must do this again some time."

Dolores rose and strutted towards the chair-trussed female.

"But now, it's about time to take you to your sleeping quarters and make sure you're all snug and cosy for the night. We'll continue our conversation tomorrow."

Over the next minute or two, Dolores worked at unknotting, then relieving Cathy of her rope bondage. The handcuffs and gag remained in place, however, as did the collar and chain, which the Mistress now used to lead Cathy out of the warm parlour and into the much cooler labyrinth of dark corridors. After negotiating the flight of stairs in silence, it was only once they'd reached the landing that Dolores spoke again.

"Just before I show you to your accommodation, I'm going to have a quick look in on my three employees, just to make sure they're not getting up to any mischief. It won't take a minute."

With Cathy in tow, Dolores veered off into a side passage, and soon stopped by the first door she came to. Unlocking and opening this, she stood aside to allow Cathy to peer in. Although the room was in darkness, the light from the corridor gave enough illumination for the handcuffed woman to see that the interior was unfurnished. In fact, there seemed to be nothing at all in this humid, windowless space.

Or was there?

What it was exactly that caused Cathy's eyes to strain into the deepest, darkest corner of the room, she wasn't certain; a slight movement perhaps? or maybe a muffled, barely audible sound of some description? Whatever it was, her attention became fixed upon an irregular shape that seemed to be floating above the floor and, as her eyes became more accustomed to the lighting conditions, she noticed it sway slightly from left to right, then back again. Suddenly, Dolores switched on the overhead light, and it became clear that this wasn't one object, but three. Cathy gasped into her gag. For there, hanging from the ceiling, were Dolores' assistants. Each had been ensconced in what seemed like a tightly fitting sheath of black spandex, around which straps had been tightly secured and buckled at strategic points. And it was evident, from the plumes of black, blonde and red hair that hung loosely from the bottom of each of these packages and swept across the dusty floor, that they had been hung upside down by their feet. Closer inspection revealed that this state of suspension had been achieved by securing a chain around the ankle area of each closely fitting body-bag, which had then been attached to metal rings embedded in the ceiling. Such was the closeness with which the upended trio had been left dangling, that even the slightest movement that any one of them made, resulted in all three involuntarily swinging and gyrating in the same direction. A few seconds scrutiny also informed Cathy that all three still wore hoods. But these were not the leather helmets that they had habitually sported since Cathy's arrival here, as the ones that now covered their heads exhibited no sign of having an aperture through which the wearer could view her surroundings; the only opening visible being the gap between the laces through which the long flowing tresses hung. These hoods were, Cathy realised, similar, if not identical, to the one that she herself had been forced to wear at various times since her capture. And one thing that was blatantly obvious, as Cathy watched them bounce gently off one another, was that there was no way that the trussed up threesome could get themselves out of this predicament without assistance. And that assistance could only be provided by Dolores.

"Ah good, I see they're all enjoying their night off. We'll leave them to it, shall we Cathy?"

Cathy took one last look at the three women - huddled together like bats in a roost - as she was ushered out of the room.

"Now that's what I call a suspended sentence."

Dolores smiled at her own attempt at humour, as she slammed the door shut and once more turned the key in the lock.

The journey to the room that Dolores had allocated Cathy for the coming night, took only a matter of seconds. Unlocking the door and shepherding her handcuffed detainee inside, Cathy found herself pleasantly surprised. For instead of the Spartan dungeon conditions that she had been anticipating, the room turned out to be of almost hotel standard in its decor and furnishings. The centrepiece was a king sized bed, complete with wrought iron head and foot railings. Cathy found herself being lead by the neck to the side of this lavish structure and coaxed to sit down on the edge. The bedding was plush and soft, and Cathy was sure that if she were to lie down on the luxurious mattress and rest her head on the equally inviting pillows, that she would be asleep within seconds. Dolores had a few more adjustments and surprises for her guest before this would be allowed to occur, however.

Lifting her convict's feet up onto the bed, Dolores opened a drawer in the bedside table and produced what Cathy at first thought to be another pair of handcuffs. But it soon turned out that these weren't intended for her wrists, but were actually shackles designed to hobble the wearer's legs. The metal cut deeply into Cathy's spandex cat-suit, as Dolores dexterously placed one cuff around each ankle; the accompanying quick-fire sound of the ratchets clicking into position, plus the short length of the connecting chain, leaving her in no doubt that she would now only be able to walk by taking tiny steps.

But even this was never going to be an option, of course. Taking hold of her victim's legs, the Mistress quickly pulled her feet to within an inch or two of the foot of the bed. Retrieving a short length of chain from the stock of such items that must have been stored by the bed for just such an occasion, she wound this around the connecting links of the ankle cuffs and padlocked both ends to the ornately crafted iron railings; leaving Cathy now tethered to this immovable piece of furniture. But still the shackling process had not been completed to Dolores' high standards. Grabbing the chain that attached to the collar around her victim's neck, Cathy found herself being gently pushed down into the bedclothes, so that she was now lying flat out on her back, with her arms embedded in the deep, plush hollow of the mattress. All of a sudden, Cathy felt the choker around her neck pull tight, as her whole body was wrenched back towards the top of the bed. Before she knew what was happening, Dolores had wrapped the end of the chain around the metal struts of the head board and secured this with another padlock. Cathy tried to sit up, but found that this was no longer possible, and that she would now have to remain in this prone, stretched out position, without even enough leeway to allow her to bend her knees. She looked up mournfully at Dolores, her eyes conveying the question that her mouth was incapable of asking: namely why are you continuing to treat me with such insensitivity and cruelty? But the enquiry was to remain unanswered, and within seconds Cathy could only watch and scream with dismay, as even this form to visual communication was lost to her.

The placement of the claustrophobic hood around her head was completed with the same ruthless enthusiasm that Dolores seemed to exhibit habitually, and Cathy gazed into the black leather void as the lacing was secured at the back of her head and the straps buckled across her face. In frustration and despair, she wriggled and writhed to show her displeasure at this return to a world of sensory deprived immobility; supplementing her struggles with half-hearted and severely muffled protests.

"I don't know why you're making all this fuss Cathy. After all, I've given you a nice soft bed to luxuriate on tonight. There's no pleasing some people, is there?"

Cathy felt one side of the bed dip, as Dolores presumably sat down beside her.

"As I said earlier, you may not be enjoying your bondage at the moment, but you will eventually, I can promise you that."

Cathy shook her head and tried to assure Dolores that this was never going to happen. And it seemed that the message got through. Dolores sighed.

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"No? Well maybe this will convince you that being all tied up and helpless can be a whole lot of fun."

As Dolores uttered these words, Cathy felt one hand gently skim over her breasts, while the other plunged deeply between her legs and began stroking rhythmically.

Cathy's initial scream sprang from a sense of complete helplessness and impotence. But as the gently moving hands slowly worked their way over her immobilised form, the realisation hit her that, far from in any way being an undesirable experience, she was actually beginning to enjoy - or even become aroused by - this soothing, rubbing motion. She remembered the strange incident of the other day in the vac bed, when the hint of sexual arousal had begun to course through her ... and it seemed to be happening again right now. But whereas on that previous occasion the hands had merely teased and tantalized her, on this occasion Dolores continued to stroke and caress, fondle and massage in all the right places until, within seconds, Cathy's shrieks of dismay had given way to soft moans of pleasure. This was so weird...yet so very wonderful too! How could a situation as bleak and horrific as the one she found herself in, suddenly become so desirable? Cathy tried to stem this surge of sexual excitement that was progressively becoming more acute, but found herself powerless to hold back the tidal wave that threatened to engulf her. Within no more than a couple of minutes she had reached her climax, her whole body straining against the unyielding chains that held her down. Then, with her energies spent, she relaxed and groaned contentedly into her gag, her body sinking deeply into the plush bedding.

Dolores' hands continued to trace the contours of her body for a few more minutes, until she was sure that Cathy was as relaxed as she could possibly be under the circumstances.

"Get some sleep now my angel and I'll see you in the morning."

Cathy barely heard the door closing or the key turning in the lock, her mind reeling with the joy of sexual fulfilment that had come upon her so unexpectedly.

And within minutes she had fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep.

Chapter 6 - Bethany the Novice (added: 2016/12/18)

Bethany leant back in her seat and gazed out at the rolling Suffolk countrywide. The gently undulating fields, the farmhouses, the picturesque villages with their 'Suffolk Pink' cottages, and the occasional windmill, all flashed by in the late afternoon sunshine. But despite the views on offer, the pleasant scenery failed to make much impression on the twenty two year old, as her distracted mind wandered elsewhere.

Having taken the mainline train from London Liverpool Street up to Ipswich, Bethany had then boarded a branch line train that had transported her deep into the timeless realm of rural East Anglia. In search of....what exactly? Herself? Her deepest desires perhaps? Although she'd set out on this quest full of enthusiasm and with a clear goal in sight, now that her date with destiny was getting ever closer, her mind was in turmoil, with doubts creeping in as to whether she could actually go through with this venture.

The train slowed and came to a juddering halt beside a tiny platform. The sign showed that they had reached Tuddenham St Peter, a small village of around three hundred souls, according to the internet research that Bethany had undertaken prior to embarking on her trip. This was the end of the line as far as she was concerned. Her final destination was, she knew, situated around a mile or so outside of this quaint backwater settlement, but her online enquiries had also ascertained that there was no bus service between the station and her journey's end, and with no taxi rank in evidence, she resigned herself to the fact that she would have to walk the rest of the way.

But which road did she need to take? She cursed herself for having failed to take note of the precise directions required to reach her targeted terminus, as she'd assumed that it would be signposted. But upon leaving the deserted platform, with its tiny waiting room equally devoid of humanity, she found no clues as to which direction she needed to take in order to reach her destination: Shackleton Grange.

A car engine briefly broke the peaceful silence of the warm day, which led Bethany to the conclusion that the village centre might not be too far away in the direction of this tranquillity disturbing commotion. Walking down the short lane with its one storey 'picture postcard' thatched cottages on either side, she soon found herself in what must pass for the main or high street, although the almost deserted thoroughfare was hardly a hive of bustling activity. To her left, she could see an expanse of grass with weathered wooden benches and the occasional litter bin, suggesting that this was the Village Green. A sign atop a tall wooden post, pronounced the name of the village in paint-peeling letters beneath an ancient coat of arms. The road out of the village meandered away towards a panorama of open fields and dense woodlands that showed no further signs of habitation in this direction. So Bethany turned to the right, where the street curved in a slight arc, straddled on both sides by small wooden-beamed buildings with their upstairs leaded windows encroaching in overhanging incongruity towards the narrow road. Aside from an elderly woman sweeping her front step, there was no sign that this was anything but a ghost town. But on the other side of the road, at a distance of no more than fifty yards, Bethany spied a sign announcing that the adjacent building housed the village general store and post office.

A bell jangled noisily as Bethany opened the door to the shop, with its narrow aisles of over-stacked shelves containing everything for the village dweller. At the rear of the shop, behind a counter, stood an elderly woman busily counting coins that she'd extracted from an ancient looking cash register. She looked up as the slim blonde woman approached, her mouth smiling but her eyes betraying the fact that strangers were treated with suspicion in this part of the world. By way of greeting, she offered a terse

"Good afternoon. How can I help you?"

"Oh hello, I'm after some directions. Could you tell me how I get to Shackleton Grange please?"

At the mention of the only mansion house in the parish, the woman's mouth became tense and the smile faded away, as her mistrust of outsiders seemed to harden. Through thick glasses, her pale, watery eyes looked Bethany up and down, with the unasked question "What business would you have in a place like that?" etched on her face. For a second or two, she gazed over her visitor's shoulder, as if deciding whether to dignify the request with an answer or not. But then, slowly, she began to impart her evident knowledge of the district.

"Shackleton Grange you say? Well now, you'll need to turn right when you leave the shop, then right again at the church. You then follow the road for about half a mile until you reach a crossroads. Turn left and keep going. After another half a mile or so, you'll come to a wooded area enclosed behind a high wall, one side of which runs parallel with the road. Follow that and you'll reach the main entrance to Shackleton Grange. You can't miss it."

An uneasy silence ensued for a few seconds, during which the woman seemingly opened her mouth to speak again on two separate occasions, then decided that she'd said enough already. As Bethany thanked her for her time and turned to leave the shop, however, the woman once again found her voice. This time her tone was less harsh.

"Be careful my dear. Rumour has it that there are strange goings-on out there. If I were you I'd steer well clear of that place altogether."

The words sent a shiver down Bethany's spine, but she resisted the urge to turn and again make visual contact with the speaker. The bell once more broke the uneasy silence as she exited the stuffy confines of the store and emerged back into the sunlight.

Bethany encountered no one as she made her way out of the village, before passing the ancient church with its dirt encrusted stained glass windows, its overgrown churchyard, gnarled yew trees and crumbling tombstones. By now, the sun had dipped behind a bank of cloud that seemed to be approaching from the west, and the breeze, which had seemed warm and pleasant just minutes before, now took on a chill as its intensity increased with the impending rainstorm. The footpath soon petered out, and Bethany upped her pace as she walked along the bank that divided the tarmac from a shallow drainage ditch, which in turn gave way to open fields; some planted with swaying crops, others from which wary sheep looked up from their grazing to stare at the passing city girl. Approaching the crossroads, Bethany tried to remember the old woman's directions. Had she said to go left or right at the junction? She needn't have worried, however, as a four-way signpost, faded and leaning slightly to one side, pointed one rusted metal finger to the left; the faded letters which spelt out the words 'Shackleton Grange' only just visible through accumulated decades of grime.

Bethany took the indicated single track side road. On the horizon now she could see a thickly wooded area beyond the fields, and as she got closer, she noticed the high wall which obscured the view of all but the tops of the trees. Reaching the juncture where one length of wall ran parallel to the road, whilst the other veered at right angles across a trackless overgrown field, she realised that this red brick structure rose way above her head, probably to a height of around eight feet, and that it was therefore impossible to view the lay of the land beyond. A faded wooden sign affixed to the ancient brickwork read 'Private Property. Keep Out'. For some reason, the impression of a prison's perimeter wall crossed her mind; a restricted area that no one could break into... and, more significantly, from which anyone trapped within could not escape.

As the stiffening breeze rose to a cacophony in the increasingly agitated upper branches of the trees, Bethany shuddered as this unwanted intrusive thought entered her head. She was here of her own freewill, she reminded herself, and could leave at any time she wanted. So why was the thought of entering these secluded grounds threatening to overwhelm her with the urge to flee? She glanced back in the direction she'd just come. She was a mile or so from the village, and the prospects of rain grew stronger by the minute. If she turned back now, she would be soaked to the skin by the time she reached shelter. Dismissing her fears, Bethany hurried along the ever narrowing road beside the shielding wall, and within no more than two or three minutes she spied a break in the brickwork, through which the landscape within could be viewed. The imposing double gates that blocked this gap in the otherwise monotonous boundary wall, were ornate and ancient looking; boasting an intricate latticework of vertical and diagonal metal struts that curved into a flamboyant crescent at the summit. On each side of the gate, a coat of arms had been incorporated into the overall design of the railings, whilst at the top, in elaborate lettering, the name 'Shackleton Grange' arched across from pillar to pillar.

Tentatively - as if she was almost expecting to receive an electric shock when she touched them - Bethany tried to enter by pushing at the solid wrought iron structure. Although there was no visible padlock or chain in evidence, the cold metal refused to budge. On closer inspection, however, she noticed a small silver-coloured metal box, only a few inches square, set at a height of five feet from the ground and attached to one of the solid stone posts to which the gates were hinged. This small panel, unlike the archaic wall and gates, was of a more recent vintage and looked to have been kept polished and clean. There was a small grille in the centre of the shiny metal plate, with a pushbutton beneath. The words 'Please Press for Assistance' were inscribed alongside.

With her hand visibly shaking, Bethany gently pushed the button. For a second or two there was only silence, and she was just pondering whether to try again, when a crackling sound - similar to the burst of static issued by a radio in a thunderstorm - suddenly emanated from the grille, followed by a woman's voice.

"Hello, how can I help you?"

Bethany jumped with a start as the metallic sounding voice shattered the peace of the country lane, and for several seconds she hesitated, not knowing exactly what to say...or indeed if she should say anything at all. The voice, slightly impatient this time, broke the silence again.

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"Hello? Who's there? Please state your business."

Finally finding her voice, Bethany bent in close to the grille and self-consciously began to stammer,

"Oh, hello... my name's Bethany, and I'm... here for the..."

Although she knew that there was nobody around, she quickly glanced up and down the empty lane, before lowering her voice to little more than a whisper and, with her face feeling hot and flushed, in embarrassed tones uttered the words

"...Bondage for Beginners class."

Ever since she could remember, Bethany had always harboured an interest in being tied up. What it was exactly that made the thought of having her arms and legs restrained to the point where escape became impossible, she had no idea. But it was an undeniable fact that the very idea of being bound and kept that way had become the Holy Grail for the shy young woman. The trouble was, she had yet to find anyone on her wavelength to complement her vision and share this lifestyle. Being a bit of an introvert, expressing her desires to another soul had proved a hurdle that she had failed to overcome. So her secret had remained hidden...up until now.

From her teens up until the present day, Bethany's only experience of being bound and gagged had been during solo ventures in the privacy of her bedroom - originally in the family home, but now that she had flown the nest, in the sanctuary of her own flat. And the more she experimented with this unorthodox sideline, the more she knew that this was a hobby that she really, desperately wanted to pursue to its ultimate limits.

Since gaining her independence, Bethany had begun accumulating a wide variety of bondage equipment that she used on herself at every opportunity. Ropes, handcuffs, chains, tape, gags of varying descriptions and efficiencies, blindfolds, hoods; all had been purchased and experimented with at various times. And as time went by, her experiments in binding herself almost to the point of no return had turned her fantasies into an addictive obsession.

The problem was, though, that it simply wasn't enough. As her knowledge of what could and couldn't be achieved on her own grew, so did her frustration with the limitations of this kind of solitary pastime. What she needed now was to find like-minded people to help her live out her dreams to the full. The snag was that she had no idea of how to find people whose fascination with the subject gelled with her own. After all, it wasn't the easiest of subjects to broach, was it, even with close friends? Much less so with strangers.

For a year or two now, this dilemma had been a recurring theme to which there seemed no satisfactory solution. She'd taken out subscriptions with various fetish magazines, some of which had 'contacts' sections in them. The big stumbling block, however, was how could she be sure which of these anonymous suitors were genuine? Who could she trust? Much as she would have loved to take the plunge, Bethany's naturally shy, reticent manner had always made her baulk at the thought of actually trying to make a connection with any of these potential soul-mates, however tempting their pitch might seem. There were some weirdoes out there, she knew that, so how could she know whether she was getting into something that she might later regret? Or maybe not be able to get out of again? The prospect of being kidnapped, sold into slavery - or even worse - was a constant fear that prevented her from realising her cherished ambitions. And as time passed, her frustration grew and grew. Would she ever be able to get beyond this impasse? She was beginning to think that her bondage dreams would forever remain unfulfilled.

Until, one day, less than a week ago, she'd come across an intriguing advertisement in one of the magazines. Unlike the sleazy personal ads that made up the bulk of this section, this one leapt out of the page at her.

"Are you female and looking for a new bondage experience?

Want to learn new techniques and positions?

Then why not try the Bound And Totally Helpless (BATH) society?

Situated in Suffolk (the world's bondage capital) BATH. runs weekly courses in bondage for both the Sub and the Dom.

Whatever your level of experience, whether novice or long-standing bondage devotee, BATH. is the place for you. Come along to Shackleton Grange where you'll learn new skills, make new friends and discover the wonders of all things bondage."

There was an email address and a phone number below for the potential applicant to get in touch, in order to acquire more information, such as times of courses, costs etc.

What it was exactly about this particular notice that stood out from all the others, Bethany wasn't sure. Maybe it was the stylish, professional way in which it was presented. Or perhaps it had something to do with the photo image of the handcuffed, bound and gagged young blonde woman used as the ad's header. Bethany could definitely relate to that, and found herself fantasising that this was her. But whatever the reason, she found herself spellbound and instantly hooked, and she vowed there and then that she would most definitely have to check this out.

The mistake she made was to put off contacting the organisation until the following day, as by then the doubts had started to creep in. Was she doing the right thing? Would she be out of place amongst these people? Was it all a rip off? Suffolk was quite a way to travel, after all. What if it was a trap? What if they tied her up and then wouldn't let her go? Funnily enough, this latter misgiving turned out to be the one that actually swayed her to ring the number; as it dawned on her that - subconsciously at any rate- she was actually quite aroused by the notion of being kidnapped and held in tight restraints.

And so, taking a deep breath, and with hands all atremble, she had dialled the number; figuring that phoning was a better way to keep her identity secret should she have a change of heart. After all, the only thing she would need to do, - if she didn't like the sound of the person on the other end of the line - would be to put down the phone; whereas responding electronically would give away her email address, which could elicit a stream of unwanted correspondence.

The phone was answered after three or four rings, although to Bethany the time between pressing the final digit and the sound of a female voice answering, seemed like an eternity.

"Hello, Shackleton Grange."

Although she had rehearsed exactly what she planned to say, for some reason this prepared speech seemed to go out of the window as soon as it was her turn to talk, and for a second or two, she found herself tongue tied. The voice on the other end of the line sounded again.

"Hello, you've reached Shackleton Grange, how can I help you?"

"Oh, hello, my name's er...Bethany and er... I was wondering...I mean I'd like to...well what I'm trying to say is..."

Realising that she was talking incoherent gibberish, she took another deep breath and cleared her throat.

"...I'd like to book a place in one of your classes please."

The words came out in a rush, as if getting rid of them from her mouth removed some unpleasant taste that they'd been harbouring. The woman, however, seemed to understand.

"You sound very apprehensive, my dear...which is quite understandable. A lot of people have a problem with talking openly about their desires and secret passions. My name's Dolores and I run the classes personally, and I can assure you that there's nothing to worry about. If you decide to join one of our groups, you'll find that you're amongst friends. Now which programme would you like to book on? I'm guessing we're talking about the beginners' course, are we?"

Bethany indicated that this was indeed the case.

"Good. Beginners' class is held each Monday from seven o'clock. Now, what's your preferred role?"

Bethany wasn't sure she understood what she was being asked.

"I'm sorry?"

"What are you? Sub, Dom or Switch?"

Although Bethany was only really interested in being tied up herself, and despite still being slightly jumpy about this whole business, she had her wits sufficiently about her to reply that she was a Switch. This wasn't strictly true, of course, but she figured that for self-bondage purposes, the knowledge of how to tie would be a bonus.

"Okay Bethany, let me look in the diary and see when we next have a vacancy...ah, yes, you're in luck. We've had a cancellation for next week if that's not too soon?"

Despite the short notice, Bethany felt a tingling sensation surge through her, and she realised that she was shaking somewhat. And not in a bad way either. Just the thought of meeting like-minded individuals and - more importantly - getting tied up by them, was causing her to become seriously aroused. As if in a dream, she heard herself say that she would be there this coming Monday.

"That's excellent news. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Now, is there anything else you'd like to know?"

Bethany had a thousand and one questions spinning around in her head at this point, but managed to restrict herself to practical matters for the time being. Such as where, exactly, was Shackleton Grange? How much did the classes cost? Was she expected to pay now, or when she arrived? And, most importantly, how did she get there?

This Dolores woman answered all her questions and seemed to know the times of the trains off by heart. She was just saying how much she was looking forward to welcoming the new recruit into the fold on Monday, when Bethany suddenly had a thought. How was she supposed to get home again? After all, Dolores had informed her that the class didn't finish until ten o'clock.

"Oh, and one last thing, are there any B&Bs in the village that I could stay at? I think I'll be too late to catch the last train."

"Oh, don't worry about that Bethany, we have plenty of rooms here. You can stay the night and then get the train back in the morning."

The remotely operated gates slowly juddered and clanked open, as the voice over the intercom - which Bethany recognised as that of the woman on the phone the other day - bade her come in and make her way up to the mansion's main entrance. Once inside, Bethany gazed into the distance along a rutted and pot-holed avenue, flanked on both sides by tall, overhanging deciduous trees which gave the view ahead a tunnel-like appearance. And at the far end of this foliage enclosed channel, a large manor house could just be seen, its towers and turrets giving the impression of a medieval fortress or castle.

Bethany had gone no more than ten yards along this driveway, when a deep, resonating clanging sound from behind her, signalled that the gates had shut once more. An irrational fear that she was now trapped briefly gripped her and caused her heart to skip a beat. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed the last shaft of sunlight - before its source was eaten by the encroaching storm clouds - momentarily catch the metal of the now closed and -presumably - secured gates. With the disappearance of this last ray of friendly light, so too all hope of being allowed to leave of her own accord seemed to flee into the gathering gloom. Bethany shuddered, but continued onwards towards her destination. She was being foolish and irrational, she told herself; nothing untoward was going to happen to her here. And besides, the prize of being initiated into the world of strict bondage was too tempting an incentive to allow such unfounded nonsense to divert her from her intended goal.

As the first low rumble of thunder sounded in the distance, Bethany emerged from the cover of the trees onto a circular forecourt. Here, the until now rough driveway surface gave way to a smoother gravel finish, and forked away both left and right in semi-circular arcs that met again at the front door of the great house, which looked forbidding and desolate in the ever deepening twilight brought about by the imminent deluge. The centrepiece of the courtyard was a long disused fountain, its dried and cracked base soon to once again be filled by the inevitable cascade from the skies. For no particular reason, Bethany took the left hand path towards the marble pillared entrance now looming in front of her. Several stone statues, lichen encrusted and smoothed by centuries of wind and rain, stood in silent sentinel beside the path.

As Bethany hurried on her way, anxious to beat the coming downpour, she at first failed to take much notice of these antiquated sculptures. But as she passed the third in the line, something swaying in the breeze close to the statue's outstretched hand, made her stop and take a closer look. The figure was that of a woman in a long flowing dress, her facial features long worn to nothing. But what had caught Bethany's attention was the accessory that had been added to her arm. For there - one bracelet attached to the wrist whilst the other cavorted and clinked softly in the breeze - hung a pair of handcuffs; evidently, as the rust on them made clear, placed there some time ago. This sudden revelation caused Bethany to stop and pay closer attention to the other stone effigies, situated at regular intervals around the fountain. Until now, it hadn't occurred to her that all were modelled on the female form. But it was clear that each had been adorned with at least one restraint or bond. One had what looked like a scarf adorning the lower part of her face, where the mouth would have been if erosion hadn't taken its toll. This same figure, like her near neighbour, also had one hand outstretched, but unlike the handcuffs which her sculpted sister wore, this one's wrist had been encircled with a short length of rope, the frayed ends of which now danced in the ever worsening weather. Another statue also had a scarf wrapped around her head, but this had been placed higher than her gagged sister-in-stone, and acted as a blindfold. Whilst a fourth figure - the one nearest to the entrance of the house - had what looked like a leather bondage hood - eyeless and with a rusted zip for a mouth - strapped around her head.

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Far from freaking Bethany out, however, the sight of these strangely adorned figures made her pulse hasten. Surely this proved that the people who ran this BATH organisation had a sense of humour. And this realisation helped to ease her fears as she approached the door.

The first large drops of rain splattered with some force on the grey gravel driveway, as Bethany ran the last few yards of her journey, until she reached the cover of the entrance porch. Pulling on the sturdy old braided cord that hung beside the door produced a ringing of bells; seemingly far off in the interior of the house and barely audible over the noise of the raindrops and the low thud of the thunder.

After what must have been half a minute, and just as Bethany was beginning to contemplate ringing again, the heavy wooden door slowly began to swing open to reveal a large, high ceilinged entrance hall with a spiral staircase visible in the background. But the building's interior was not what caught Bethany's attention and made her gasp. For there, standing in the now open doorway, stood a woman in a metallic silver skin-tight cat-suit. High heeled, knee-length leather boots adorned her legs, but it was the head and face area that caused this involuntary yet audible intake of breath, as, from the neck upwards, the only features visible on this tall, slim female, were a pair of dark brown eyes that peered through two tiny slits on a tightly fitting hood of polished leather, identical in colour to the rest of her attire. A mane of jet black hair issued from an aperture at the apex of her head. The figure offered no spoken words of welcome, (indeed, with her mouth covered was this even possible?) but instead took one step to her left and gestured with her hand for Bethany to enter. Once she'd stepped over the threshold and taken two further steps into the cavernous hallway, the door slowly closed and slammed behind her.

In the awkward silence that followed, Bethany turned to the woman.

"Hi...my names Bethany...I'm here for tonight's class."

The woman's eyes showed no sign of emotion as she simply took one step backwards, placed her hands behind her back and stood motionless by the door, as if having done her duty. Bethany was at a loss as to what her next move should be, although she was conscious that her gaze had remained almost constantly fixed on this woman in the figure hugging outfit since she'd first laid eyes on her. She imagined herself being attired in such a costume, and for some reason this notion caused a warm feeling to course through her.

"Welcome to Shackleton Grange."

The voice that echoed around the spacious foyer came from behind and above Bethany's position. Swiftly executing a one hundred and eighty degree turn, the new recruit swung around to face the source of this unexpected greeting.

"Hello. You must be Bethany."

The woman, whose voice Bethany immediately recognised as belonging to the woman on the phone and the intercom, slowly made her way down the ornate staircase, the clicking of her heels on the polished marble gradually getting louder as she approached. Reaching the bottom step, she sauntered over to where the awestruck new arrival stood. She was dressed from head to toe in figure hugging black leather, with a broad leather belt encircling her waist and boots polished so thoroughly that they reflected back the image of their surroundings. Unlike the woman who had let her in, this woman wore no hood, which allowed her long brown wavy hair to flow around her shoulders.

"I'm Mistress Dolores. Welcome to my home. So glad you could make it. I hope you had a pleasant journey."

She glanced at a grandfather clock that stood against the wall, ticking softly in the background.

"You've a bit early, my dear. None of the other pupils will arrive for an hour or so yet. But that means there's plenty of time for me to show you to your room, and for you to get settled in."

Dolores smiled pleasantly which, Bethany guessed, was supposed to put her at ease. But there was something about the woman's demeanour that made her blood run cold. What it was exactly, she wasn't certain. But any misgivings were soon dismissed when she brought to mind exactly why she'd come here today.

Dolores turned and walked back towards the stairs, with her visitor following closely behind. Bethany's jaw dropped as she gawped in awe at the artwork adorning the walls, of female slaves in every imaginable state of inescapable bondage. Some were watercolours, whilst others seemed to be oil paintings. All had been mounted in ornate, gold painted wooden frames. The thought of modelling for one of these pictures held a strange fascination for her, and she marvelled at the way these seemingly content women must have remained for considerable lengths of time in one position, to allow the artist to capture them in all their bound up glory.

As they ascended, the Mistress turned every few steps, as if checking on the progress of her guest. She obviously associated Bethany's silence with a sense of trepidation.

"You seem a bit nervous, my dear. Well you needn't be. You'll soon make friends with the other girls in the class."

Bethany admitted that she was rather apprehensive about coming here today.

"In fact, I didn't even tell anyone that I was coming here, just in case they tried to persuade me not to."

As soon as this sentence had passed her lips, she knew that she'd made a potentially dangerous error. So now she'd given away the fact that nobody knew where she was. What if something happened to her now? As before, she tried to take her mind off such unwanted thoughts by concentrating on what she hoped would be a night to remember for all the right reasons.

They had reached the landing by now, and Dolores began leading the way along a dimly lit passageway. After a few seconds of silence, she spoke once more.

"Have you brought your own outfit to change into for this evening?"

Bethany wasn't entirely sure that she understood the question. But, from her hesitation in answering, Dolores must have sensed this, and almost immediately explained.

"You'll need a form-fitting outfit of some description for the class."

As Bethany meekly confessed that she hadn't realised that she needed any specific garb, Dolores came to a halt by one of the many closed doors that featured at regular intervals along the corridor. She gestured towards Bethany's clothes.

"Those won't do at all. They're much too baggy and cumbersome. The standard requirements in my classes are clothes without folds and creases. Skin-tight garments are the dress code here."

She opened the door to the room and led the way inside.

"Not to worry if you haven't brought anything suitable. I'll send one of my servants along with something you can wear."

She turned her attention to the room in which they now stood.

"Well, this will be your room for the night. I hope you find it comfortable. I'll have some tea sent up if you like."

Bethany indicated that tea would indeed be very welcome, at which point Dolores turned and walked towards the door.

"Right, make your way downstairs once you've changed and had your tea. Class starts in an hour's time."

And with that she was gone.

The room that Bethany had been allocated was most definitely of a higher standard than anything she could have expected in a guest house. The bed was soft and comfortable, with the decor tasteful and the facilities all to a high standard. There was an en-suite bathroom with pristine fixtures and fittings too. The only things that perturbed Bethany were the bars on the window, which once again brought to mind the notion of a jail. As she gazed out across the overgrown lawn, now being pummelled by sheeting rain, with the occasional streak of lightning and clap of thunder thrown in for good measure, there came a loud knock on the bedroom door, which temporarily distracted her from her reverie.

When Bethany pulled open the creaking timber, she encountered two women standing side by side in front of her; one of whom was the servant in the silver cat-suit who had greeted her - if silence can be classed as a greeting - at the front door. Her companion was similarly attired in snug latex, except that her outfit was in black, and the plume of hair that sprouted from her hood identified her as a redhead. Without waiting to be invited in, the masked and mute duo advanced into the room. The redhead carried a silver tray, on which there sat a teapot, cup and saucer, milk jug and sugar bowl, all of bone china. This she set down on the small coffee table in the centre of the room, whilst her colleague handed something to Bethany that she at first didn't recognise. Swiftly and without fuss, their tasks completed, the pair exited the room and once again shut the door.

Bethany inspected the strange garment in her hands. Having been a fitness and keep-fit enthusiast for a number of years, she soon sussed out, from the feel of the smooth, soft, stretch material, that this item of clothing was manufactured from spandex. Holding the garment up revealed sleeves and legs, from which she immediately drew the the conclusion that this was an all-covering cat-suit.

Bethany poured herself a cup of steaming tea from the pot and began her undressing routine by kicking off her shoes, before taking off her jeans and blouse. Was she supposed to keep her bra and panties on? She knew that the clinging nature of spandex would clearly highlight any garments she wore beneath, so decided that she would probably be better off without them. After all, the three women she'd encountered so far had all worn extremely tight costumes, and none had revealed any visible signs of underwear. So her decision was quickly made: naked apart from the borrowed cat-suit.

The soft swish of the wonderfully pliant material being eased up her legs and torso caused a strange thrill to briefly envelope Bethany's entire being. This was weird, and something that she'd never experienced before. But once she'd squeezed herself into the clinging outfit - pulled the sleeves down to her wrists and the collar up to her neck, then smoothed out the few remaining wrinkles - she began to experiment by exercising her limbs, and she understood immediately the reason for this strange feeling. The fact that with every movement, no matter how small or insignificant, the velvety material caressed and brushed her skin in a tight but gentle embrace, made her realise that the wearing of clinging clothing was a form of bondage in its own right. Now, she thought with a shiver of anticipation, all she needed was to be tied with ropes, for the jigsaw of delight to be complete.

After drinking her tea, Bethany strutted around the room, deliberately shimmying and sashaying, to enhance the feel-good factor that this newly acquired fascination with spandex induced. Admiring herself in the mirror that adorned the length of the wardrobe door, she placed her hands behind her back and imagined that she was already bound, and this action ratcheted up the sense of anticipation that she was already experiencing a further notch or two. All her earlier doubts and fears now seemed to melt away and dissolve to nothing, and she found herself feeling thankful for the day that she'd happened to chance upon BATH; an organisation which would, she was now sure, help give her the courage and confidence to nurture her bondage dreams and allow her to connect with her innermost desires.

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When her watch told her that it was five to seven, Bethany slipped her shoes on and exited the bedroom. There was no one else to be seen or heard as she made her way down the eerily silent corridor, until she arrived at the top of the great stairway. Now, as she stood for a few seconds, nervously yet excitedly contemplating the next few hours, she heard voices coming from the floor below, and guessed that her future classmates had by now turned up.

Making her way downstairs, Bethany could see, away to her left, a set of double doors standing open, beyond which there seemed to be a large, oak-panelled room. And it was from this direction that the sounds of female chatter seemed to emanate.

Taking a deep breath, Bethany made her way to the entrance. For a second or two she stopped just shy of the threshold. Her heart was beating fast and her hands were shaking. "So this is it" she told herself, "the moment I've been waiting for all my life."

Chapter 7 - An Evening of Discovery (added: 2017/01/29)

As Bethany entered the room, the soft hubbub of conversation died down, and all heads turned in the direction of the newcomer. She paused and stood nervously looking around at the assembled women; numbering twelve, if the calculation gleaned from her swift glance around the room was accurate. All wore tightly fitting cat-suits of various materials, which showed off their long legs and shapely figures perfectly. Eight of the women sat in two rows of chairs that had been laid out theatre-style in a semi circle. They sat giggling nervously and whispering to each other behind their hands, and shifted somewhat apprehensively in their seats. These, Bethany guessed, were her classmates. The two mute and hooded servants that Bethany had already encountered, stood to one side, as if waiting for orders. And they had been joined by a third, similarly dressed female, whose outfit, in contrast to the neutral tones of the other two, was a bright vivid pink. The final figure, who had been standing with her back to the door upon Bethany's entrance, was Dolores. Sensing the new arrival's presence, she turned and beckoned her to come forward.

"Ah Bethany, come in and join the others."

She turned to her other pupils.

"Girls, this is Bethany. Like many of you, she's new to this sort of thing and a bit nervous, so I hope you'll all make her feel welcome."

She waited for Bethany to sit down at the only chair in the semi-circle still unoccupied, next to a red-headed young woman in a leather outfit that was stretched so tightly about her, that it looked as if the seams would burst at any second. The woman smiled pleasantly at her new neighbour, then averted her gaze back towards their teacher as the lesson began.

"Right, now that we're all here, let me first of all welcome you to the Bondage for Beginners class. For those of you who haven't attended sessions here before, which is the majority of you, the aim is to teach you the basics of tying, and to give you a feel of what it's like to be tied. For the one or two of you who are repeat visitors, this will act as a refresher course."

Without being summonsed, the three hooded women moved forward and took their places in front of three sturdy upright chairs that had been set out before the audience.

"Firstly, I'm going to show you a few simple but effective methods of tying your intended target's wrists behind her back. Then I'll let you all have a go at tying each other."

The three women submissively sat down and placed their hands around the backs of the chairs.

For the next hour or so, Dolores demonstrated on her three -seemingly willing - employees, various methods designed to tie someone up so that they were incapable of escape. Each of the trio had their wrists bound in different ways, which Dolores explained the intricacies of as she went along. On occasion, she would go back and reiterate a point if one or other of the eagerly watching classmates asked a question or sought clarification of a particular hitch or binding. Once the models' arms had been accounted for, the binding action shifted to the rest of their anatomies, as their legs and bodies were strictly and securely rendered helpless. And whilst their freedom slowly but surely diminished, the triad sat impassively, as the ropes were coiled, tightened, cinched and knotted to ensure that they and their chair would remain inseparable partners for the foreseeable future.

And all this time, Bethany watched with a wealth of thoughts and conflicting emotions playing games with her mind and body. On the one hand, she was keen to learn as much as she could; to take everything in, so that she could use some of these techniques and ideas in her next self-bondage session. But on the other hand, she was getting impatient. Watching other people get tied up was all well and good from a learning perspective, but the reason she'd made a commitment to come here today was in order that she could be the one that succumbed to the tight and unforgiving ropes.

Finally, with her three assistants bound up tightly, Dolores decided that the time had come to allow her acolytes to get 'hands on'.

"Okay ladies, time to put the techniques I've just shown you into practice. So I'd like you to get into groups of two - one Sub and one Dom in each pair, if possible. There are plenty of ropes in the boxes situated at the side of the room."

She pointed to her left, where five large storage containers sat on an oak table, next to several unused upright chairs.

"Each pair should take one of those boxes and find themselves a secluded corner of the room. Concentrate on getting your Sub's wrists bound first, then you can go on to tying their legs and binding them to one of those chairs."

Bethany turned to her fellow classmates, but it became obvious straightaway that they had already paired up and made their decisions as to who was tying whom prior to her arrival. And with an odd number of candidates, it didn't take a genius to work out that someone was going to end up without a partner. Dolores had already realised that this problem was going to raise its head, however, and was quickly on hand to offer her services.

"It looks like you're 'Bethany-no-mates' doesn't it? Not to worry, as you're a Sub, you'll have the pleasure of being tied up by me this evening."

As if in a dream, Bethany stood up and followed Dolores to the table. By this point, the other girls had scattered to the four corners of the room, leaving one box and one chair unallocated. Grabbing the latter and turning it around so that she was standing behind the solid wooden item of furniture, Dolores motioned for her pupil to sit down. Doing as she was told, Bethany gazed at the other girls, as they began to bind their partner's arms in one or other of the methods that they'd just been shown. And it was at this point that she realised that she was visibly shaking. She was given only a few seconds to observe the activities of the others, however, before she felt the sensation of a hand grab each of her wrists and gently but firmly pull her arms behind her back. The feel of the rope being looped around her wrists was almost instantaneous, as was the tightening of this first circuit of what was soon to become a securely wrapped and cinched bond, which was tied off somewhere at the back of her wrists. Within thirty seconds, Bethany's hands were, she knew instinctively, inescapably bound.

"There you go. That's not too tight, is it?"

Bethany executed a quick twist of her wrists, and found the rope tight, but not uncomfortably so. As she tried to pull one wrist away from the other, the fact that this was impossible sent a thrill surging through her entire being, and she realised that this was one of the greatest moments of her life... so far. For the first time ever she was bound to the point of no escape, in a situation where she was completely at the mercy of someone else to set her free...or not, as the case may be!

"How does that feel?"

Bethany wanted to blurt out that it was wonderful, fantastic, brilliant, marvellous and a hundred more superlatives besides. But instead she found herself feeling embarrassed at her own enthusiasm, and merely looked away from Dolores - not daring to make eye contact, lest she blushed - and quietly answered,

"It's fine."

Even as she spoke, however, Dolores was already delving into the box of bonds.

"Good, now let's take care of the rest of you, shall we?"

For the next few minutes, Bethany watched in awe as Dolores bound her ankles, her knees and her thighs, before using more rope than was strictly necessary in lashing her to the chair, from shoulder to foot. Being the expert, she accomplished her bondage masterpiece far quicker than the less experienced girls in the room, and now safe in the knowledge that Bethany was going nowhere, went off to check on the progress of the others.

"I'm going to leave you here for just a little while darling. I know you like being tied up, so make the most of your time now. I'm sure you'll find my bondage modus operandi to your liking."

To say that Bethany was happy with her situation was an understatement.

The fact that she could now explore her newly found captivity without being constantly under scrutiny was an utter joy to her. Wriggling and fidgeting within the strict confines of her unbreakable ligatures, was making Bethany feel hot; not just temperature-wise, but also sexually. So much so that when, after maybe fifteen minutes, Dolores once more turned her attention to her, the fact that she began immediately releasing the knots and uncoiling the cords that had become such welcome additions to her attire, was at first a cause of some dismay. She needn't have worried too much, however, as this release process was merely an interim measure, before the binding process began again.

"Okay girls, let your Sub out of her bonds for a few minutes. Those of you who want to switch roles, please do so now. Then change partners and try one of the other techniques I showed you earlier. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it."

As the riggers began to liberate their prisoners, Dolores turned once more to Bethany.

"I remember you said on the phone that you were a Switch, but the vibe I'm picking up from you is that that isn't strictly true. Am I correct?"

Bethany rubbed her wrists and blushed, as she admitted that this was indeed the case. Dolores smiled.

"I thought so. Don't worry though, I'm sure one of the other ladies would be willing to try out her skills on you now."

She called across the room to a tall, latex- clad brunette who had just finished untying her partner.

"Jessica, would you mind swapping with me and helping Bethany satiate her rampant desire for being trussed up?"

Jessica sashayed across the room, her outfit creating a swishing sound as her legs brushed against each other, and her bright red glistening lips breaking into a smile as she approached.

"Of course Mistress, I'd be delighted to be of assistance."

For the next hour and a half, Bethany experienced the sheer joy of being tied repeatedly, as several of the Doms in the class took it in turns to outdo each other in their unofficial battle to show Mistress Dolores that they were her star pupil tonight. And to Bethany's delight, the more practice they got, the better - i.e. tighter - each subsequent tie became.

So it was with some regret, that at around ten o'clock she heard Dolores call a halt to proceedings.

"Okay ladies, I'm afraid that's all we've got time for today. If you'd like to untie your victim now and put all the ropes back in the boxes, we'll call it a night."

As the session wound down, each of the bound beauties was released from her restraints, including the reluctant Bethany. As this was going on, Dolores was releasing her three servants - who had been left tied for the past three hours without ever uttering a word or showing any sign of discontent with the way they were being treated. Once they were free, Dolores gave some whispered order that Bethany failed to catch, and all three quickly left the room. They weren't gone long, however.

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"Just before you go girls, I expect you're wondering about the ultimate goal of these lessons. In other words, if this is just a beginners' class, then what do you learn about on the more advanced courses? Well just to whet your appetite, here's a taster of the sort of thing you'll either be achieving or enduring if you work your way through the whole curriculum."

As Dolores' final words echoed around the high ceiling, the three servant girls reappeared, collectively carrying a sturdy wooden trunk that, by the way they strained and staggered under its weight, seemed to be heavy. Placing this in the centre of the floor, Dolores handed the red-headed, black cat-suited member of the trio a set of keys. Needing no further instruction, the obedient woman began unlocking the four padlocks that held this ancient sea-chest shut. Once all four had been removed, the other two assistants stepped forward and pulled back the lid.

Intrigued by what might be revealed, tonight's pupils collectively moved closer, and Bethany was no exception. As the top of the container slid upwards, and the light from the chandelier above illuminated the cramped space within, a collective gasp of astonishment rippled around the room. For there, languishing face down, her legs forced upwards and her arms pulled up behind her back, was a woman who had so far not taken any part in the evening's proceedings. Immediately obvious was the fact that this young female had been encumbered with chains, duct tape and what looked like a thousand feet of rope. Bethany had seen pictures of women in hog-ties in magazines, but she had never before seen anyone so completely and utterly contorted into such a strict, rigorously unforgiving elbow bound creation as this. With her feet and hands touching, her fingers wrapped up securely in grey tape, her shoulders forced back due to the severity of the elbow tie, and the chains that held her whole body rigidly in check, this, Bethany thought, must be the ultimate in ruthless enslavement. And she found herself feeling envious, and wishing that she was the girl in the trunk.

However, this female, didn't seem to share her enthusiasm. Craning her neck around to look up from her prone position at the faces peering down with curiosity at her, she let out a stifled moan through a thick layer of grey tape that encircled her head from just below her nose down to her neck. Blinking in the light, after the blackness of the chest, her eyes pleaded for help from the bewildered and speechless group that now gazed in upon her. After several seconds, she began to struggle, augmenting this with a series of grunts and groans that seemed to be imploring the watchers to help her out of this predicament. As her struggles became almost violent in their intensity, and her muffled calls took an increasingly urgent tone, the women gathered around the trunk began to shift uneasily, and murmured voices of concern could faintly be heard from the group. Dolores, however, was already anticipating this reaction.

"Don't be alarmed girls. Cathy here loves being tied and gagged for hours on end. In fact, she can't get enough of it. This 'damsel-in-distress' act that she's putting on now is all for show. She says that it enhances her pleasure by playing the helpless heroine. The more she struggles, the more she gets out of it... so she tells me."

She addressed her assistants.

"Okay, that's enough for now. Wouldn't want Cathy getting too excited with all this attention we're showing her, would we?"

She bent down and spoke to the woman in the trunk.

"Goodnight Cathy. Sleep well and I'll see you in the morning."

The lid slammed shut over the hog-tied female, and immediately the trusted trio set to work resealing the locks, picking up their cargo and carrying it back out of the room. Even so, as they made their exit, thudding sounds emanated from within the box, accompanied by muffled calls for help. Dolores glanced around at her class, smiled and rolled her eyes.

"That's Cathy for you. She just loves an audience to play to."

With the ending of the lesson, the group of novices began to disperse. Whilst some left almost immediately, some stayed and chatted for a while; laughing and giggling and discussing the things they'd learnt during this evening's class. Most seemed to leave still attired in their cat-suits, whilst a few went off to change back into their 'everyday' wear before departing. After a few minutes, when the sound of tyres crunching over the gravel in the driveway had faded to nothing, Bethany found herself all alone in the great hall, still mesmerised and slightly shell-shocked by the whole event. Dolores, who had left the room briefly to see her clients to their cars, now returned.

"So Bethany, how did you enjoy your first visit to Shackleton Grange? I do hope that you found the lesson tonight of interest to you."

Bethany wanted desperately to request that Dolores bind her up again and keep her that way all night, but she was too shy to ask. Instead she meekly confirmed that she had indeed had a great time.

"Good. Well I hope you find the accommodation to your liking. I'll get one of my servants to rustle up some breakfast for you before you leave in the morning."

And with this offer, Dolores began turning the chandelier lights off in the oak-panelled room, as if hastening her one remaining pupil out. As Bethany exited into the grand foyer and made her way towards the stairs, she noticed the wooden box in which the bound woman was presumably still encased, lying on the floor to one side. The servant in the pink cat-suit stood over the now silent trunk, as if guarding it. She glared at Bethany as she noticed the latter looking in her direction. Bethany shivered, but bid the figure a "goodnight" as she passed. As expected, this parting expression of farewell was neither acknowledged nor returned.

Bethany floated on air up the spiralling marble staircase, her mind reliving the wonderful sensations of how it felt to be bound up so tightly that she simply couldn't get free, even if she'd wanted to. In fact, the journey back to her room became a blur in her memory, with her head focused on much more important matters. She must, she thought to herself, remember to book for the next lesson before she left for home in the morning. So preoccupied was she with the memory of the events of the past few hours, that it wasn't until she was back in the bedroom that she realised that she'd climbed those stairs and walked the long corridor in bare feet; apart from the stirrup straps beneath her instep. She recalled now that Dolores had removed her shoes just prior to binding her ankles, and from that moment onwards, the whereabouts of her footwear had been of little importance to her. For a few seconds, Bethany contemplated whether to leave the missing shoes where they were until morning. But instead she decided to venture back downstairs to look for them now. Subconsciously at any rate, retrieving her shoes was not the only reason for wanting to leave the bedroom at this late hour, as Bethany was intrigued to explore this vast and seemingly almost deserted mansion, and the hunt for the shoes gave her an excuse for this jaunt. If she happened to stray into uncharted territory and was challenged as to her purpose in being there, she could always claim that she had gone looking for the missing footwear, but had become disorientated in the labyrinth of passages and stairways.

The floorboards seemed to creak louder, the harder she tried to tiptoe stealthily along the corridor back towards the main staircase. Aside from the grumbling timbers, however, the house seemed to be in silence, and Bethany began to wonder whether Dolores and her cronies had already retired for the night. But as she approached the grandiose stairway, she saw that lights still shone from the entrance hall below, and voices could be made out. Or, more correctly, Dolores' voice could be heard, and from her tone she was clearly not happy with something. But as well as Dolores' harsh words, another, seemingly subservient voice responded to the Mistress's outburst, and it was clear to any bondage enthusiast that this second person was speaking through some form of gag. Was it one of her three servants that Dolores was berating? Bethany knew that, whatever was going on, it was none of her business, but she found herself unable to resist the urge to begin gingerly making her way down the stairs, in order to obtain a better vantage point. Taking three or four silent steps downwards, the curving nature of the stairs gave an excellent view of the brightly lit hallway. There, standing in a line to one side, their legs slightly apart and their hands placed behind their backs, stood the three servants in their skin-tight apparel. Dolores stood a few feet away with her back towards Bethany, and it was clear that her verbal tirade was still in full flow. But it wasn't the motionless trio that were the brunt of this tidal wave of anger, but someone else, identity as yet unknown due to the fact that they were blocked from view by Dolores' leather clad form. The latter's outburst continued apace.

"...more than three days you've been here now...three days!...and still you haven't learnt a thing, have you? You still think that you can disobey my orders without being punished."

She paused for a moment, during which a muffled moan of despair filled the cavernous hallway.

"I told you that if you behaved well tonight and acted as if you were quite content in your bondage, then I'd think about reducing your sentence by a day or two. But what do you go and do instead? You struggle and scream and try to find someone who'll believe that you're not here of your own volition; someone who'll help you escape. Well bad luck, because I've got news for you Missy. Nobody believed you. Everyone things it was just an act! If you're expecting the police to arrive at any moment now, you can forget it."

Dolores' anger was getting more intense by the second, and she was virtually screaming at her unseen victim by this stage, who in turn whimpered and groaned pitifully. After taking a deep breath, however, Dolores seemed to calm down somewhat, and when she resumed, her voice had a more considered tone to it.

"So let's see then, shall we? How much do I add to your sentence for this latest in a long line of misdemeanours?"

She paused again, waiting for her words to the cowering creature still hidden from Bethany's line of vision to sink in.

"As the addition of a day or two doesn't seem to work as a deterrent, it looks like I'm going to have to stop going easy on you from now on. For tonight's outburst, let's say an extra four weeks shall we? Maybe that will put a stop to any future rebellious instincts you might be harbouring."

Then she added, seemingly with great relish.

"Actually, I've lost track of the length of your sentence, seeing as how I have to add to it nearly every five minutes. Let's just call it a nice round six months, shall we? From now on any disobedient behaviour, no matter how trivial, gets an extra month added. Is that okay with you?"

The long drawn out howl that filled the cavernous hallway in response to this, suggested that the recipient of this harsh ruling was most certainly not agreeable to the terms being offered to her. This was ignored by Dolores, however.

"At the rate you're going darling, you'll be an old woman by the time you leave here."

Dolores laughed unsympathetically at this forecast, before turning towards her henchwomen.

"Take her down to the cellar and make sure she's as uncomfortable as possible."

The three women stepped forward as one and hauled the figure to her feet. Bethany gasped inwardly as her eyes fell upon the woman she'd earlier seen strictly bound in the trunk. Although no longer hog-tied, it was obvious that she was still as inescapably bound as before; her arms pulled so far behind her back that her shoulders almost looked as if they were about to dislocate from their sockets. Her face was still swathed in circuit after circuit of clinging duct tape, and her body was bound in a lattice of ropes that dug deeply into the black spandex of her outfit. Her long black hair, previously tied in a ponytail, now hung loose and unkempt around her shoulders. Her legs were now shorn of the tight ropes that had adorned them when Bethany had last viewed her, but in their place, a set of ankle cuffs had been fitted; the connecting chain being of no more than three or four inches in length. This latter circumstance meant that her stride, as she was forcibly marched across the floor, was of an unnaturally short span, and that she was having difficulty keeping up with the pace expected by her escorts, who guided her towards a corridor that led off to the right.

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Bethany sat motionless as she watched the procession cross the floor; frightened to move unless she inadvertently attracted the attention of one of Dolores' retinue. After a few seconds, however, they had steered their prisoner into the passageway and disappeared from sight. As silently as she could, Bethany crept up the stairs again and made her way back to her room. She half expected to hear Dolores bounding up the stairs behind her, and turned several times to check that she wasn't being followed. But on each occasion, the passageway behind her was empty.

Reaching the sanctuary of her allotted room, Bethany quickly locked the door. In a daze, she sat on the bed, not knowing what to make of the scene she'd just witnessed. Okay, she had taken Dolores at her word earlier, when she'd informed the class that this woman - what was her name now? Cathy wasn't it? - was a willing actress in this demonstration of just how tight and inescapable bondage could be. But why continue the charade now, when there was no audience? Surely, the scene she'd just unwittingly been a spectator to was no game playing. And if this was true, then the events she'd just observed must be for real. Or put another way, Dolores really did keep people incarcerated against their will. And the gist of the overheard monologue suggested that these periods of captivity went on for months on end!!

So what was she to do about it? Retrieving her mobile phone from her bag, Bethany vowed to call the police straightaway and inform them of what she'd just seen. But then she hesitated. What if she'd got it wrong? Maybe this woman really did like to live the lifestyle of the helpless kidnap victim 24/7. And if that was the case, then calling the police could have far-reaching repercussions that would be detrimental to all concerned. For a start, it would mean that her first lesson here would also be her last, as she was sure Dolores wouldn't take too kindly to having to explain the strange goings-on here to the cops, and she would find herself expelled. No, she had to be more certain that something of an illegal nature was going on here before she blew the whistle.

But how was she to go about obtaining incontrovertible evidence of wrong-doing? She could hardly come out and ask Dolores directly, could she? And the three servants would hardly be of much help, seeing as how they seemed to be eternally mute. No, there was only one thing for it. She would have to find the poor helpless creature herself, and hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

This, of course, was easier said than done. For a start, she didn't know where the woman was being held. And even if she found out, the chances were that she was locked in some dark prison cell to which there would be no easy access. And what if she was caught in the act? What exactly would Dolores and her accomplices do to her? Would she also find herself held captive and kept here indefinitely? Although she lived and breathed tight bondage every second of the day, the prospect of being kept that way for months, or possibly years, was just a step too far...even for her.

However, after much self-deliberation, she realised that there was no other alternative. She would, she resolved, have to seek out this captive female and find out exactly what was going on here. Looking at the screen of her mobile, she noticed that she was getting no signal here anyway. And this was the deciding factor that persuaded her to turn off the phone and place it back in her bag.

Bethany paced the floor of her room and gazed out through the bars that criss-crossed the window. The grounds were now in total darkness, and the only source of faint illumination, on this cloudy, starless night, originated from a few house lights in the village a mile or so away, viewed over the high perimeter wall of Shackleton Grange. Still in her borrowed costume, she sat down on the bed once again. Although it was getting late, she doubted whether, even if she were to lie down on the soft bed, she would be able to sleep, as her mind was working overtime trying to take in all that had happened to her in the past few hours. Her watch showed that it was just gone eleven o'clock. She was eager to set out on her mission now, but reined herself in with the knowledge that Dolores and her cohorts could still be around at the moment. She would need to wait an hour or two, she decided, in the hope that everyone else in the house would be asleep by then.

Bethany spent most of her self imposed waiting period pacing the floor of the bedroom. She already knew in which direction the captive woman had been taken, but where she now resided was impossible to guess at. Nor did she have any real plan as to what to do when - or if - she happened to find her. Maybe she wouldn't be able to locate her at all. Or perhaps she'd find a door from behind which muffled screams emanated, yet be unable to break in and discover exactly what was going on. These considerations, and many more besides, played on her mind as she waited impatiently until she thought the time was right.

At just gone one o'clock, Bethany slowly opened the door to her room. She had been itching to get this whole thing over and done with for what seemed like ages now, and she could wait no longer. The corridor outside her room was in complete darkness, but luckily Bethany always carried a small torch in her handbag, and this would now prove invaluable in her quest to locate the missing woman.

It is a strange phenomenon, but sounds at night always seem much louder than those made during daylight hours. And this journey proved no exception to the rule. Added to this was the fact that, as Bethany so desperately desired her passage through the house to be as silent as was humanly possible, the exact opposite transpired - at least to her mind - and every movement reverberated around the ancient timbers and plaster that much louder than it would have done under less stressful circumstances. The constant creak of ancient floorboards, plus a myriad of other noises that old houses seem to emit for no apparent reason, accompanied her careful, flash-lit journey along the corridor, until she reached the top of the stairs. At this point, Bethany was pleased to note that, unlike her previous abandoned excursion to reclaim her shoes, the vast space below was in complete darkness. Tiptoeing cautiously down, she made a beeline for the entrance to the passageway through which Dolores' servants had last been seen coaxing their prisoner. The floor of the corridor in which she now found herself consisted of bare flagstones, with plain grey walls rising on either side and disappearing into the pitch blackness ahead of her, which the torch's feeble beam did very little to alleviate. For the first fifty yards or so of her tentative journey, Bethany encountered no break in the monotony of the walls, floor, and what seemed to be an increasingly low ceiling. But then, to her left, she suddenly spied a solid wooden door. She hesitated. Should she carry on along the passageway, or see what secrets lurked behind the door? For some reason, the thought of going ever further into the black tunnel didn't hold much appeal, and she found herself, with very little anticipation of success, grasping the door handle and pulling it towards her. Miraculously, it began to open.

If Bethany had been loath to continue down the seemingly endless passageway, then the sight that greeted her on shining the torch into the now gaping doorway, was even less appetising. From where she stood on the threshold, a narrow spiral staircase fell steeply away into a black chasm before her; disappearing, it seemed, into the bowels of the earth. But what swayed her into venturing down this worn and treacherous stairwell, was a very faint sound, only just on the edge of her hearing. It could have been the wind murmuring through some unknown crevice in the building's ancient structure somewhere. Maybe it was the sound of a mouse squeaking and scurrying in the black depths below. Or it could have been simply her imagination. But no, there it was again, and it sounded like none of these things. In fact, what it most closely resembled was the sound of someone crying mournfully into an extremely efficient gag; someone whose mouth was packed with fabric that couldn't be removed without assistance.

Taking a deep breath, her heart pounding loudly in her chest, Bethany proceeded downwards with extreme caution. The torch beam highlighted damp, mildew-patched walls and a low cambered ceiling with water dripping intermittently onto the crumbling stone steps on which she trod. The feel of the cold, wet stone chilled her bare feet, and she wished now that she'd gone in search of her shoes prior to undertaking this trek into the netherworld hidden beneath Shackleton Grange.

But there was no going back now. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Bethany nervously shone the ever dimming beam out in front of her. All but the first few yards remained in impenetrable gloom, but she could make out that she was now in another passageway, with wooden doors on either side. So from where exactly had those strange muffled sounds emanated? For around thirty seconds or so, Bethany stood and listened for any clue as to the whereabouts of the originator of those pitiful cries. But there was only silence. Thinking she had made a mistake in coming this way, she was about to retreat up to ground level once more, when she heard it. Barely audible, yet distinct enough to be able to make out that this was the sound of a female in need of help. Yet still she was unable to pinpoint the direction from which the low sound emanated.

"Hello, is anyone there? Where are you?"

Terrified of being heard by any of the other residents of the house, Bethany kept her voice as low as possible, although her whispered enquiries still echoed eerily around the stone-clad underground chamber. And seconds later, she realised that her words had reached their intended recipient, as a slightly stifled, single, drawn out note of despair rang out around the subterranean cavern. And it was coming from one of the rooms away to Bethany's right. Hurrying across to the door from behind which the outburst arose, Bethany could see now that the wooden obstruction had a small barred window - no more than four inches square - at around eye level. Shining her torch into the interior brought no enlightenment as to the source of the noises, as by now the batteries were fading fast. There was, Bethany therefore decided, no time to lose. She had to get the women out of here...and quickly. But how was she to enter a room that was surely locked? A quick tug on the handle proved that she had been correct in this assumption, but as her hand fumbled in the darkness, something cold and metallic just below, brushed the underside of her wrist. Shining the now severely diminished beam in the direction of this protruding object, Bethany's vision fell on a rusted key poking from the lock. Clearly Dolores or her partners-in-crime hadn't seen the need to remove it, as they'd had no reason to think that anyone else would be snooping around in the cellar at the dead of night.

Bethany found that she could turn the key only with great difficulty, as if the room was reluctant to give up its secret hidden within. Nor was opening the heavy door an easy task, and it took the slim young woman both hands and all her strength to drag it inch by inch, until a gap big enough for her to slip through had been gained. The first sweep of the faltering beam of light around the small windowless chamber revealed very little, and Bethany's initial conclusion was that she had been mistaken, and that the room was empty. But as the dim light circled around the grim stone walls, she glimpsed something in one corner that made her go back and concentrate the beam on this particular nook of the room. And then she saw something that at first she assumed was a large inanimate ball of indeterminate origin and substance. But then she saw it move! Only very slightly - almost imperceptibly, in fact - but still enough to convince her that this was not some trick of the light or optical illusion brought about by her extreme nervousness. And the noise that accompanied this movement - a deep, low groan of anguish - told her that this was not some inert item, but in fact a living creature. Closer inspection soon revealed that the figure was human, and of the female persuasion. Was this Cathy?

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The reason that there was still some doubt in Bethany's mind as to the identity of the curled up woman before her, was that she was completely hidden from view, save for a fountain of black hair that sprayed out from the top of this human sphere. Most of the rest of her was enveloped within a cocoon of unbroken duct tape, which had been applied whilst her feet had been bent under her to meet her buttocks, and her head brought down to within a fraction of an inch of her knees. Now wrapped and trapped in this foetal posture, only her head had escaped the tightly circling tape, and this was encased in what appeared to be a black leather hood with no eye or mouth apertures.

Bethany knelt down besides the softly moaning woman and placed the waning torch on the floor so that it illuminated her strange discovery. Clearly the woman knew that someone was in the room, although she probably thought that one of her captors had returned to inflict more suffering on her - if that were even possible. Bethany therefore tried to assure her that she was here to help not harm.

"It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you."

A quick scan of the hood showed Bethany that it was of the type that laced up at the back. Gently, so as not to alarm the wearer, she began to loosen the restrictive headwear. It took only a minute or two before there was enough slack in the soft leather for her to pull the hood up and away, to reveal the fear filled eyes of Cathy, the woman she had briefly encountered earlier that evening. Below her nose, however, her face was swathed in grey tape identical to that which kept her limbs and body confined to a tight ball. Bethany wasted no time in starting to unpeel the multilayered facial wrap. It took several minutes, as the tape was of good quality and excellent in its adhesive attributes, but at last the final, skin-bonded layer was reached; the removal of which seemed to cause - based on her grimaced expression - much agony, notwithstanding the fact that Bethany used as little force as possible. With the tape gone, Bethany pulled a soggy ball of material - rolled up tights by the feel of them - from the woman's mouth. Cathy gasped and took in several deep breaths, before looking up at her potential saviour and blurting out her tale of woe in a quick-fire stream of semi-coherence; as if she needed to get her side of events out as soon as possible, before anyone could gag her again.

"Please, you've got to help me get away from here... Dolores is threatening to keep me here for months, and keeps on adding extra time on...I'll never get out of here unless you help me... she keeps me tied up all the time...for hours on end...I know she's told you I'm here willingly, but that's a lie...you've got to believe me...I can't take much more of this...I've been kept prisoner here for over three days now..."

Bethany tried to calm the clearly distressed woman down.

"Okay, I believe you. I'm not sure how I'll get you out of the house, but we'll find a way. Firstly though, I'm going to get you out of all that tape. My names Bethany by the way and..."

It was at this point that Bethany noticed that Cathy's gaze had strayed to look over her shoulder, in the direction of the open door to the cell. She watched as the bound woman's eyes widened with fear. At the precise second that she turned to see what had caught Cathy's attention, there was a clicking sound and the darkness exploded into light. Momentarily blinded, Bethany shielded her eyes from the light bulb's glare. But the initial realisation of exactly who it was that had entered the room, wasn't attained through visual recognition, but was instead aurally received.

"So, I let you stay the night in my house and this is how you repay me, is it?"

Both the voice, and the silhouette now framed in the doorway, belonged undeniably to Dolores.

Chapter 8 - A Shared Experience (added: 2017/03/02)

Dolores took two steps forward, her shadow looming large over the two figures hunched in the dark corner of the room; one entirely cocooned in duct tape, the other swathed only in fear. She bent over and grabbed the spandex neck of Bethany's cat-suit, forcing her to stand up to her full height. From a distance of no more than six inches, she glared at her house guest, fury flashing in her dark eyes, although when she spoke, her words were those of someone calmly in control of the situation.

"So, you thought you'd have a sneaky look around when you assumed we'd all be asleep did you? Well unfortunately for you, I always leave one of my team on guard as a sort of night watchwoman when I have visitors in the house, and she alerted me to your nocturnal wanderings."

She sighed and let go of Bethany's collar. Bending down, she picked up the soggy tights ball and offered it up to the lips of the cowering, helpless Cathy.

"Sorry you were disturbed darling. I'll have the nasty lady removed and punished for interfering with your bondage. Now open wide..."

Although not wanting to leave the bound and helpless Cathy alone in the clutches of this evil woman, Bethany seized the opportunity given her by Dolores' preoccupation with the replacing of her captive's gag. Darting towards the open door, she envisaged dashing back up the stairs and putting as much distance between herself and Dolores as she could. She didn't get far however. In fact, she didn't even make it out of the tiny cell in which she'd made her discovery. Blocking the exit was a solid wall of latex, which Bethany, in her unthinking hurry to leave, crashed blindly into. The female figures, three in number, immediately grabbed various parts of Bethany's anatomy and within no more than two seconds had her lying face down on the floor; her hands wrenched high up behind her back to stop her arms flailing wildly around, her feet held together to dissuade her from kicking out at her assailants. From her prone position, she turned her gaze upwards, to where Dolores was administering replacement tape around Cathy's head, before placing the hood back and lacing it ultra-tightly, to avoid slippage. After satisfying herself that Cathy was now back to her former state of sensory deprivation, Dolores turned her full attention to Bethany.

"So, what are we going to do with you Bethany? It's become apparent that I can't trust you..."

Bethany tried with all her strength to wrestle herself free from the women who held her in check, but the odds of three against one were just too great for her to ever have even the remotest hope of success. If Dolores noticed this struggle for freedom, however, she paid it no heed.

"...and it seems to me that you've seen too much for me to just let you go."

She came across to where Bethany lay and knelt down beside her head.

"So it's fortunate that you enjoy being tied up so much, as I'm going to have to give you an extended course involving my full repertoire of binding techniques and procedures...You will let me know which you like best, won't you?"

She smiled, but there was no humour evident in the snarl of sparkling white teeth that flashed across Bethany's line of vision. She stood up again, and her next utterance was directed at her three faithful ladies-in-waiting.

"I think you know what's required here girls. I believe it's time this 'beginner' stepped up a grade or two."

She paused momentarily, thinking.

"In fact, I'm sure that she's ready to experience the full array of treatments offered at Shackleton Grange. And as she seemed to be so intrigued by Cathy's method of bondage, then maybe she'd like to join her. So let's show her what real bondage feels like, shall we?"

No sooner had the final word passed Dolores' lips, than the process of relieving Bethany of her right to freedom of movement began in earnest. The three women had all clearly come prepared for this eventuality, for as soon as they were given the go-ahead, they began wrapping their latest victim's limbs in the tight ropes each carried tucked into the broad leather belts which they habitually wore around their waists. Lying squashed on the floor, Bethany's powers of resistance were extremely limited, and she was no match for the superior numbers and strength of her opponents. With her wrists bound tighter than they had ever been before, and her elbows trussed together so that they almost touched, Bethany fought to wriggle free from the ever increasing and brutally unyielding cords that were reducing her mobility by the second.

Her arms, of course, were not the only area of her body to receive the cruelly applied ropes. Whilst her elbows were being dealt with, she also felt something tighten drastically around her ankles, and within seconds the hands of her captors were no longer needed to hold her lower legs together. And as soon as the ability to use her feet to thwart this unforgiving onslaught had been completed, the next rope took its place just below her knees to further add to her woes, followed by another just above the joint, then a fourth high up on her thighs.

Even after her limbs had been secured from thigh to ankle, the three women kept up their relentless work schedule, by quickly thrusting a large wad of material into Bethany's mouth. This was swiftly sealed in place, so that her lower face was soon an unbroken barrier of grey duct tape identical to Cathy's. It was at the commencement of the next procedure that it dawned on Bethany that the objective here seemed to be to create a mirror image of her ball-tied fellow prisoner, as she found her head being forced down to her knees and her feet being drawn up behind her. Even as the tape was being readied for application, however, Dolores suddenly had a brainwave.

"No, wait a minute girls, I've got a better idea. Cut Cathy out of the tape will you? I think I know a way to teach both of them a valuable lesson."

The three pairs of hands that had been preparing to tape Bethany up into a tight ball, suddenly released their grip and allowed her the freedom - if you could call it that - to wriggle around on the stone floor. It did her no good of course, as she soon discovered that no amount of struggling and writhing would ever be sufficient to get her useless limbs free from their bonds. Dolores watched this display of defiance for a few seconds, a slight smirk of amusement etched on her face, then gave her full attention to the rapidly emerging figure of Cathy - like a butterfly from its chrysalis - as the tape was cut away to allow her relief from the tightly huddled pose she had been forced to endure. It soon became obvious to Bethany, however, that the tape was merely the outer layer of Cathy's restraints, and that beneath this her limbs were encumbered by rope bondage similar in nature to that which she herself had recently been burdened with. But why were they letting her go?

Dolores glanced back at Bethany, and noticed her new detainee watching the unfolding scene with a look of confusion etched on her face.

"I expect you're wondering what I've got planned for you, aren't you? Well it's quite simple really. You've obviously realised that I wasn't exactly telling the truth when I said Cathy was here of her own volition. In fact, I can reveal now that this was a downright lie. You see Cathy decided, last Friday evening, to break into my home with the intention of stealing from me. Luckily we caught her in the act. As it happened, there was a weekend 'Bondage Convention' going on at the time, and it was democratically decided by all in attendance that Cathy should remain a prisoner here for a while as a punishment for her crimes. After all, if we'd called the police, they'd have just given her a slap on the wrist and let her go - free to rob innocent, law-abiding people like you and me again, as and when she pleased. If you ask me, my method of retribution is a far more effective way to discourage reoffending.

Cathy tried to remonstrate with her captor-in-chief at this point, but her muffled retort was unintelligible. Dolores waited for the stymied objection to run its course, before picking up where she'd left off.

"So what I thought we'd do, now that my quota of prisoners has suddenly doubled, is to use you to help Cathy come to terms with her period of incarceration. You see, Cathy has been here all weekend, and despite my threats and continual increasing of her sentence, she still doesn't seem to be calming down and adapting to a life of unremitting bondage. If anything, she's getting more rebellious by the day."

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As Dolores spoke, the tape shell that had once obscured Cathy's entire body and limbs from view was finally relinquished in its entirety, leaving her simply rope-bound, and with the hood still firmly secured around her head. As Bethany had done only minutes earlier, she squirmed around on the floor in helpless frustration for a minute or more, then seemed to recognise the futility of such exploits and lapsed into inactivity; her breasts heaving as she caught her breath through the tiny slits in her leather mask, after her strenuous but ultimately unsuccessful escapological workout.

"Now being a bondage lover Bethany, you'll be familiar with how good it feels to be bound up all tight and secure for long periods of time. But despite my best efforts, Cathy still hasn't succumbed to the joys of this form of recreation just yet. She seems to be in complete denial about something that you and I know to be a matter of fact."

She addressed Cathy now, whilst prodding her prone form in the thigh with the toe of her leather boot.

"Being awkward, stubborn and pigheaded, aren't you darling? Well I've got a treat for you tonight."

She turned back to Bethany.

"So what I'm proposing to do is have the pair of you tied up together, so that you can help educate Cathy in the finer points of bondage appreciation. I'll add a few strategically placed ropes to help get you both in the mood, then leave you to your shared experience until morning. Hopefully, by then Cathy will be more compliant."

Dolores walked the few steps across to where Bethany lay, knelt down beside her, and whispered so softly that neither Cathy, nor the three servants - now standing to one side awaiting further orders - could hear her.

"Of course Bethany, if you fail in your allotted task and she's still defiant tomorrow, then I'll have no alternative than to punish you as well."

The three women hauled both Cathy and Bethany into the centre of the room and placed them on their knees, face to face, only a foot or two away from each other. Bethany watched with ever growing concern as an extra rope was produced and the mid-point quickly found. This doubled cord was then placed around Cathy's waist, looped through the bight and pulled extremely tightly to cut into the spandex of her outfit. The ends were then threaded between her legs from front to back and yanked with some force upwards into her crotch, producing an involuntary squeal in the process. Winding this latest rope around the one which bound her wrists, then looping it back through the circuit around her waist, the rope made its return journey back between her thighs and was once more pulled as taut as it would go. Finally, the ends were tied off to the rope on her stomach, well out of the reach of her outstretched fingers.

And then it was Bethany's turn to suffer a similar fate. The rope bit deeply into her, causing a strangled gasp to issue from behind her gag; a sound brought on more by surprise than pain. However, this rope wasn't immediately knotted off, but instead she found herself being inched ever closer to her co-captive, until their bodies were now touching, torso to torso.

Suddenly, Bethany felt the loose end of the rope being jerked forwards, and within seconds her abdomen and that of her bound partner were brought into extremely close proximity, before her crotch rope was intertwined with Cathy's and dexterously tied off to the cord around her own waist; the silver suited servant who performed this task having to work in the almost nonexistent gap between the two now conjoined women's bodies. Once this work was complete, Bethany tried to move, but found that to do so only caused the rope to dig deeper into her pussy. And what was more, every slight move made by her now inseparable partner-in-bondage, brought about a see-sawing chafing motion which caused a warm damp patch to slowly seep into the spandex of her cat-suit. And she was sure that these same sensations must also be reciprocal.

"Right girls, let's make sure these two are nice and cosy, shall we?"

The two inch wide grey duct tape seemed to be in endless supply, as Dolores' three subordinates commenced a process designed to mummify both Bethany and Cathy in one hermetically sealed tunnel of strongly bonding adhesive wrappings. Once their fate was sealed, the unbroken expanse of tape covered every square inch of their spandex clad forms from neck to toe, with only their two heads sticking out, face to face, at one end. Bethany gazed at the feature hugging black hood that Cathy wore; so close to her face that she could smell the leather and feel Cathy's exhaled breath - which came in short, frightened bursts - on the upper part of her face. Cathy let out a low moan, but this was severely muffled by her gag, and came out as a wordless cry of despair. Although Cathy was unable to see, Bethany deduced that she must be aware of what had just happened and who it was that she was now inseparably tethered to and encased with.

And it was no more than a few seconds later that Bethany received further insight into the black world that Cathy was being forced to inhabit, as a similar, if not identical hood was placed over the top of her own head and pulled across her protesting face. The smell of leather was much stronger now, and the blackness all encompassing, as Dolores' lackeys aligned their latest captive's nostrils with the two tiny slits, then began to tighten the hood to the point where Bethany felt that her whole face and head were being crushed. Now it was her turn to show dissent at the treatment she was receiving, although her words, like Cathy's before her, were lost in the ball of material that filled her mouth. As if from far away, she heard Dolores' voice, barely audible through a padded area of foam built into the hood in the region that covered her ears. The Mistress' words weren't aimed at either of her two prisoners, however, but were instead directed at her troops.

"Right girls, now perhaps we can get a bit of uninterrupted sleep for a few hours. Let's leave them to it, shall we? Then tomorrow I'll decide exactly what's to become of them."

The faint sound of high heeled boots departing the scene reached Bethany's ears, and moments later the door to the cell slammed shut and a key turned in the lock.

Bethany wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. As her mind tried to compute all the data that it had accumulated over the past few minutes, the dividing line between the real world and a fantasy parallel universe blurred until she no longer had any real conception of what was going on here.

Part of her brain kept telling her that this was, as Dolores had originally informed her class tonight, all part of a staged drama that Cathy was merely an actress in, and in which she herself had now suddenly found a starring role. If this was the case, and everything that had happened since she'd discovered Cathy in her prison cell was part of some kinky pantomime, then she could lay back and enjoy herself; safe in the knowledge that, when the final act drew to a conclusion and the curtain came down, both she and Cathy would be released. In other words, the whole set-up was just a bit of fun between a bunch of bondage loving women. After all, surely this was what the BATH society was all about wasn't it? If so, then she was more than happy to be a part of this weird drama into which she had so conveniently stumbled.

But what if this wasn't the case? The nagging suspicion persisted that this was all too real, and that both she and Cathy were now being held as prisoners in this isolated house, without a hope in hell of breaking free or raising the alarm. After all, how would Dolores know for certain that her house guest would be curious enough to sneak out in the dead of night to seek out the woman she'd earlier seen in the trunk, if this was all being staged for her benefit? The more she thought about this, the less sense it made, and the more likely it appeared that she had walked into something that she was now powerless to get herself out of again. Cathy had certainly seemed terrified enough, once she'd been allowed to speak. And if she had been speaking the truth - which Dolores seemed to have confirmed - then that made Dolores a kidnapper, who would presumably take whatever steps necessary, no matter how drastic, to keep her activities a secret from the outside world.

But how could she know for sure exactly what was fact, and what was fiction? Bethany desperately craved some answers from her cocooned partner in this whole weird scenario, but her gag precluded her asking the questions in any intelligible format, and in turn Cathy's filled mouth and tape sealed lips would be an insurmountable barrier to understanding any given responses.

So what was she to do? For the sake of her own sanity, she decided that she must hold onto the belief that this was all a game, and that tomorrow would find her walking free from Shackleton Grange, with or without Cathy. And to this end, she decided that she would try to enjoy her time here, under the assumption that this was the whole point of the exercise. She knew from the very first moment that their crotch ropes had been interwoven, that the slightest movement caused these rough cords to rub into her genital area. And she had also deduced that any regular or rhythmic motion soon caused the first stirrings of sexual arousal in her. And the fact that Cathy was still seemingly intent on struggling for all she was worth - whether in play or not - meant that these feelings were building in intensity by the second. So, why not join the party and have a bit of fun while the feeling persisted?

Thrusting her pelvis in time with Cathy's frantic jerking abdomen soon caused a bolt of energy to rip through her and she moaned as long and loud as her gag would allow, as the sensation of the taut rope rubbed almost violently into her tender flesh. With both women now rocking and lurching in harmony, Bethany took only a minute or two to reach the most mind-blowingly wondrous climax that she had ever achieved in her life. And it seemed now that Cathy was feeling the vibe of the moment just as intensely as herself, and wasn't far behind in her countdown to ecstasy. For a short while after both girls had reached fulfilment, the pressing of abdomen on gently undulating abdomen continued, as if neither wanted to be the one to bring this joyous experiment to an end. But with her energies now spent, Bethany found her momentum gradually declining, until she relaxed completely and let her body go limp; content now to simply bask in the afterglow of this improvised yet strangely coordinated act of sexual gratification. Lying side by side with her now motionless companion, she reassured herself with the thought that, if this wasn't all just a game, then surely Cathy wouldn't have attained those same heights of pleasure as she had. And with that comforting conclusion in mind, Bethany felt her eyelids becoming heavy, and within minutes she had fallen into a deep, contented sleep.

Chapter 9 - Ice and Fire (added: 2017/03/28)

For Cathy, the last twenty four hours or so had been a rollercoaster ride that had risen skywards and plunged the absolute depths between both ends of the emotional spectrum.

Having found a strange yet satisfying sexual fulfilment through Dolores' efforts on Sunday night, she'd slept well for the first time since her capture, and had woken only when a sound from close at hand disturbed her slumbers. The memory of that brief but enlightening encounter was still fresh in her memory, as was Dolores' assertion that Cathy would - given a few days - begin to enjoy her time spent in inescapable bondage. But was that true? Could she really learn to love the sensation of not being able to move of her own volition? Whilst the experience of last night did indeed shine brightly in her memory, it was no more than a solitary lighthouse beacon on an otherwise unlit stretch of desolate rocky shoreline.

The noise that woke her was muffled by the hood that seemed to constrict tightly around her head, but there was no mistaking that it was of human origin. Someone was moving around the bed and, although no one spoke, Cathy instinctively received the impression that there was more than one person present. And so it proved when, moments later, the pressure around her face began to ease, as the straps of the hood were unbuckled and the lacing slackened to the point where the stifling leather contrivance could be pulled up over her chin, her nose, her eyes, before finally coming away from her head; her sweat-soaked hair flopping lifelessly onto the soft bedding.

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Cathy's blurred vision could at first make out very little detail of the moving shapes in front of her, although she observed three indistinct blobs moving around the bed, one black, one whitish-silver, with the other - in contrast to these neutral tones - a vivid pink. As her eyes gradually adjusted to the bright morning light, the fuzzy shapes gradually sharpened into the outlines of Dolores' three faithful, yet almost zombie-like servants. All were gazing down at her through the small eye-holes in their closely fitting hoods. Even with most of their features obliterated, Cathy knew that their countenance was not of a friendly nature. As she watched, the silver-suited female leant forward - her latex covered breasts nearly touching Cathy's nose - and released the padlock that had secured her neck chain to the headboard all night. And this was followed seconds later by the unlocking of the chain at the other end of the bed.

Now simply hand and ankle cuffed, Cathy bent her knees and tried to roll over onto her side, after so long stretched out in the same position. Her three jailers had other ideas, however, and swiftly pulled her into a sitting position and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Deftly, one of the trio knelt down and released the shackles from her ankles. Then the tape, which had formed a seemingly permanent bond to her cheeks, chin and lips, began to be unravelled, layer after layer, until the final, excruciatingly painful circuit was stripped unceremoniously from her tender flesh. The now familiar tang of the tights, which had been stuffed into her mouth since yesterday, lessened slightly as they were prised from behind her teeth. Gingerly, Cathy worked her jaw up and down a few times, finding the pain that this action produced gradually subsiding as her facial muscles relaxed somewhat.

She gazed around at the three faces that stared back at her. None showed even the merest hint of compassion, nor seemed to comprehend the grief she was being forced to endure. Their current undertaking was, Cathy realised, simply a job that they had been tasked with, and she was the raw material with which they had to work; as if they had been given a target to produce a certain end-product -i.e. a bound and gagged female - and the hopes and fears, wishes and anxieties of the unwilling subject of their labours could be dismissed as irrelevant, just so long as the project reached satisfactory completion.

However, there was one positive point to be taken at this time, and this was that Dolores was nowhere to be seen. Was she lurking close at hand, waiting for Cathy to make a mistake so that she could be punished once more? She had no evidence that this was the case. So maybe the Mistress of the House had entrusted full responsibility to the faithful threesome. Although in no way daring to anticipate any positive response, Cathy decided that now was the right time to try to appeal to their better natures. After all, how many opportunities would there be where she found herself ungagged and with Dolores out of earshot?

"Look girls, this has gone too far. Okay, I know I shouldn't have broken in, but can't you see that keeping me tied up day-in, day-out just isn't on? It's cruel and inhumane, and it's going to get you all into a lot of trouble, surely you must realise that. How would you feel in my position?"

But any faint glimmer of hope she may have entertained, that this plea would prick her guards' consciences and encourage them to help her escape, was soon dashed. In fact, she realised with hindsight, that this impromptu speech may have had a detrimental effect in relation to the way she was soon to be treated.

Showing no inclination to communicate verbally through the tight leather that covered their mouths, the three automatons pulled Cathy roughly to her feet and she felt the chain around her neck being jerked hard, to inform her that she was to follow wherever they led.

And where they led was down the main stairway - with its portraits of happily bound women gazing down, as if mocking her - into a vast kitchen area that she hadn't been in before. There she was forcibly obliged to sit on an upright chair at an old rustic kitchen table. Draping Cathy's arms over the back of this chair, the three worked as one to ensure their guest remained stationary. It can't have taken more than a minute or so, but by the end of this short period of time, Cathy had been bound tightly and efficiently to the sturdy item of furniture from ankles to chest. This state of inertia, however, lasted only a few minutes, while Cathy was given water to quench her thirst, then buttered bread - slightly stale tasting - for breakfast.

With the refreshments over, fearing that she was about to be gagged once again, Cathy made another emotional plea to the silent trio, in the hope that her persistence might eventually strike a chord.

"Come on girls, I know you're as much prisoners here as I am. Why don't you let me out of this and we'll all escape together. I'm sure you must know of some way out."

If her last appeal had been ignored, however, this one seemed to enrage the group, and Cathy soon found her circumstances deteriorating rapidly. Firstly, her mouth was once more filled; although this time, instead of the stuffing and tape, she found herself encumbered with a large rubber ball with attached straps, which were quickly secured at the rear of her head so that spitting the oral obstruction out was now impossible. But this was just a preliminary act preceding the main event, and within seconds Cathy was given some insight as to how her day was about to unfold. And it wasn't exactly how she would have chosen to spend her time.

Releasing their prey from the chair, although leaving her ankles and knees tightly bound and her hands still cuffed, Cathy found herself being held in an upright stance by the pink suited woman, whilst the other two, slowly and meticulously, began wrapping her in layer after layer of transparent cling-film. Starting at the ankles and working their way upwards, the silver clad female created circuit after circuit of tightly stretched wrap around Cathy's already bound limbs, whilst the woman in the shiny black outfit followed up by smoothing the whole thing down to make sure it remained wrinkle free and tight as a drum. After what must have been four or five orbits of her lower legs, the wrapping process moved steadily upwards, until it crossed her thighs, her lower abdomen and her waist. Naturally, when they reached the level where her hands hung in their shackles behind her, these too were incorporated into the slowly forming parcel, so that her arms remained bonded to her back with no provision for movement away from her body or from side to side. Soon the fragile yet severely movement limiting casing reached her neck, at which point the course of the wrapping process altered, so that the last few circuits were wound diagonally across her breasts down to the waist, then up her back and over her shoulder, only for the whole process to be repeated over and over again in criss-cross fashion around her body. Once satisfied that she was immersed in an unbreakable cocoon several layers deep, her three assailants stood back - leaving her teetering precariously on her toes for several seconds - to admire their handiwork.

But if Cathy thought that the worst was now over, she was in for a nasty shock. For now they were upon her again, manoeuvring her across the kitchen floor, slowly but insistently easing her in the direction of what looked like a white metal container around six feet in length, three feet in width and around the same in depth. In her confusion, Cathy failed to correctly identify this object until the lid was pull opened to reveal an empty space within. But what caused her to scream like she'd never screamed before, was the sight of thick ice encrusted on all four walls of the interior. What she'd at first thought of as merely a secure storage box of some description, now turned out to be a chest freezer. From the wafts of dry ice that escaped into the significantly warmer atmosphere as the lid was lifted, it was clear that this was plugged in and in good working order. And it was also obvious that this was to be her next - possibly even final - destination.

All Cathy's howls of anguish and appeals for leniency went unheeded. Nor did her physical attempts to avoid being laid inside this frost-filled coffin, amount to anything other than token gestures of defiance. Tipping her up and placing the terrified woman horizontally into the narrow gap, she could do nothing but gaze with wide, horror-filled eyes at the three heartless bitches who stood over her. But this view lasted merely a second or two, as without warning the lid suddenly crashed down; plunging the interior into darkness. Above her lengthy wail of despair, she vaguely heard a clicking sound, which suggested some form of locking mechanism had been activated. And this assumption was backed up by the fact that, as she thrust her mummified legs upwards and began frantically kicking at the roof of her tomb, it failed to yield even a fraction of an inch.

Within seconds of her incarceration, Cathy began shivering violently. And it wasn't just the below freezing temperature in the cabinet that caused this involuntary shuddering, but also the knowledge that - should she be left here for any significant amount of time - she would soon be dead. Was the freezer airtight? In some ways that might have been a blessing, as she figured that suffocation might well be a quicker way to go than slow death through hypothermia. Even so, her instinct for survival was strong, and she realised that she had to keep moving, in order to stave off the biting cold that threatened to freeze her blood. Pounding on the sides of the sealed container, Cathy tried to keep her body and brain from succumbing to the Arctic-like conditions, until she finally had to give up through exhaustion. Just as she felt that all hope of ever getting out of this alive had passed, however, a clicking sound resonated through her frigid tomb and suddenly light streamed in from above. Seconds later, she found herself being lifted upwards, as the same three figures that had laid her to rest, now resurrected her from what had appeared to be an early, icy grave.

With the three women holding her upright, Cathy was 'hopped' across the kitchen floor and down a short stretch of corridor into the parlour that she and Dolores had used the previous evening for their little chat. The tightly wrapped cling-film around Cathy's body crackled as the particles of ice that had formed within began to melt. How long had she been in the freezer? It seemed like an eternity, although in reality had probably been no more than ten minutes.

The room was in virtual darkness, the heavy curtains still drawn across to obscure the daylight. But there was one source of illumination, however; a raging orange glow from the open hearth. The fire had been recently lit, with logs piled high and crackling loudly as the flames lapped hungrily around them. As Cathy was being led to within a few feet of the blaze, she noticed that the room had been rearranged slightly since the previous evening. In place of the chairs where she and Dolores had sat facing each other across a low coffee table, on the rug in front of the fire there was now a low wooden bench, seven or eight feet in length, but only a foot or so wide, standing on sturdy legs about two feet from the ground. And it was towards this narrow item of furniture that Cathy now found herself being guided.

Being forced to lay face down on the bench, Cathy heard a soft rattling sound issuing from the other side of the room. She turned her head just in time to see the silver cat-suited member of the triumvirate walking back towards her with several lengths of chain in her hands. As the realisation of what was about to occur suddenly hit her, Cathy tried to stand, but only ended up rolling over onto her side and tumbling the short distance onto the fireside rug. She immediately felt two pairs of hands roughly pick her up and place her back in her former position, and within seconds, the first chain had wended its way around her waist and was being passed under the bench and bought back around to its starting position. Twice more this encircling procedure ensued, before the whole thing was pulled as tight as the unyielding links would allow. The sound of a padlock clicking shut soon put paid to any thoughts of leaving the thick wooden plank that she was forced to stare directly at. Three further metal fetters soon followed; the first around her shoulders, another on her thighs, with the third being positioned at her ankles. The chains bit cruelly into the cling-film packaging, as Cathy attempted to wriggle and squirm out of her newly acquired shackles. But the constricting wrap and the unforgiving metal coils meant that she was there to stay. And worse was to follow only seconds later.

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Cathy craned her head upwards as a flash of pink latex appeared before her, and a split second later both ends of the bench could be felt being lifted into the air. The transportation process lasted no more than a second or two, however, as the sturdy wooden pew was placed only a few feet from its starting position. Even without turning her head to gaze at the nearby fireplace, Cathy could tell from the sudden increase in heat that she was now within inches of the deep orange flames and crackling logs which spat hostile sparks upwards and outwards at alarmingly regular intervals. With the same callous disregard for her welfare as they'd shown in the kitchen, the heartless women now took their leave; Cathy turning her head and watching as three skin-tight latex derrières disappeared from the room.

Whilst it was a relief to no longer be shivering with cold, the sudden intensity of the heating up process was an equal, if not worse source of anguish. The links of the chains, being good thermal conductors, heated up to scorching levels within a minute, whilst the tightly constricting cling-film trapped the heat and caused the temperature within to rise to an unbearable intensity in next to no time. Cathy squealed and squirmed in her helplessness, but failed to propel the solid wooden bench away from the source of her discomfort. She felt her face reddening, and the sweat inside her cocoon begin to build. Would this heating process make the cling-film loosen? It didn't seem to have that effect, as her body and limbs remained tightly compacted in the uncompromising casing.

Just as she was beginning to think that she was going to overheat and spontaneously combust, however, the return of the three servants signalled a further change in circumstance for the now extremely hot and bothered captive. Moving her a few feet away from the direct influence of the conflagration, Cathy noticed that all three wore gloves to handle the untouchably hot chains and padlocks as they went about parting her from the now very warm bench. Cathy's emotions at this point were a mixture of relief and fear; relief to be out of the intense heat, but fear of what was in store for her next. And the answer to this question was soon forthcoming: more of the same.

Hauling her back to the kitchen, Cathy noticed the open chest freezer looming large in front of her. She screamed and begged to not once more be subjected to the sub-zero conditions that she'd so recently had to endure. But her protests fell - as she knew they would - on deaf ears. And seconds later the familiar frost coated walls were staring her in the face...followed by a blackness akin to an Antarctic winter's night.

The extreme change of temperature, from overbearing heat to biting cold, was a shock to the system that caused Cathy to once again try everything in her powers to get out of the icebox. But she knew that her tormentors would return only when they were good and ready, not at her beck and call. The only comfort she could draw from the situation was that - hopefully - this stint in the freezing hellhole would, like her previous experience, only last a few minutes.

And so it proved. But of course there was to be no respite in her see-sawing session of extreme torture. Upon release from the freezer, she was immediately manoeuvred back into the parlour and chained in close proximity to the fire once again; more logs having been thrown onto the blaze in the interim period.

And so it went on; ten minutes or so of intense heat, followed by a further ten of extreme cold. Cathy lost count of the number of times she was forced to hop on her bound feet from kitchen to parlour and back again; each time her pleas for a cessation of this barbaric treatment becoming more animated, and on each occasion being ignored. When was this nightmare going to end? She even found herself hoping and praying that Dolores would turn up to put a stop to the devious antics of her servants, who seemed to be completely out of control. And after what seemed like several hours, her prayers were finally answered.

Dolores strutted into the kitchen just as Cathy was being readied for another stint in the freezer cabinet. She wore a long black leather coat that reached to her knees over her usual leather cat-suit. In her hands were a set of car keys.

"Well, well, well. I go out shopping for a couple of hours and all hell breaks loose."

Cathy whimpered into her gag, hoping that the three women were about to be given a severe telling-off for their treatment of her. But when she looked at Dolores, she observed that her host was smiling.

"That's enough for now girls. I'll take care of Cathy for a while."

Without hesitation, the cat-suited trio exited the room, leaving Cathy sitting precariously on the edge of the freezer chest. Behind her, drafts of cold air wafted up onto her back, soothing the scorching heat that had recently built up inside the transparent wrappings, yet also threatening a return to the icy interior at any moment.

Dolores walked across the room and gazed out of the kitchen window for a few seconds. Finally, still facing into the sun, she broke her silence.

"So Cathy, what did you do to warrant the 'ice and fire' treatment from my staff? You must have really angered them somehow. My guess is that you asked them to help you escape from here. That usually gets them in a rage. Is that what happened?"

She turned and glared long and hard at Cathy, who shifted nervously on the cusp of the icebox.

"Well girl, I asked you a question? Did you or did you not ask for their help in getting away from here?"

Cathy realised that to lie would do her no good, and that Dolores really already knew the answer anyway. Meekly she nodded and allowed a hushed "aha" to force its way past her gag.

Dolores strolled slowly back across the tiled floor to where her prisoner sat. She sighed in exasperation.

"Well at least you're being honest darling. But I'm afraid that you're going to suffer double punishment for your troubles."

The Mistress pulled Cathy up onto her feet. Even so, Dolores was still several inches taller than her opponent, and looked down her nose at her.

"You see, not only have my girls done exactly the right thing in torturing you for this ridiculous talk of escape, but now I'm going to have to give you yet another lesson in obedience."

She turned her head and shouted towards the door that led into the passageway beyond.

"Girls, come and make sure that Cathy has an afternoon she won't forget in a hurry. I suggest that maybe she'd like to luxuriate in a strict hog-tie for a few hours."

Immediately, the faithful three reappeared in the entrance; as if they'd been hovering just outside all the time, knowing that they would soon be called into action once more. Cathy began to weep at the realisation that her endless nightmare was set to continue. But as she was being led away, Dolores called after her.

"Don't worry Cathy, I've got a special cameo role for you to play at my 'Bondage for Beginners' class tonight. That should give you something to look forward to."

Cathy found herself in a room she hadn't been in before. In fact, you could hardly call it a room at all, more a windowless storage cupboard. But it was big enough to take a large wooden trunk that stood with its lid gaping open in the centre of the otherwise empty space, as if awaiting her arrival. But although Cathy knew that her ultimate destiny was to be placed inside this strongly built chest, her guards had a few modifying touches to add to her bondage prior to entombment.

Firstly, the cling-film that still held her in such constricting circumstances - despite the extremes of temperature to which it had been exposed - was now clearly shown to be superfluous to requirements, and was quickly and efficiently cut away by the silver-clad female. The scissors she used for this operation were long and razor sharp by the looks of them, and Cathy winced as they crossed her breasts, sheared rapidly over her abdomen, and made their rapier-like incision down the front of her legs. With the transparent casing now gone, the relatively cool air of the storeroom washed over Cathy's spandex-clad form, and she realised now just how hot and sweaty the fire had made her; the tightly fitting garment adhering to her skin even more than usual with its damp, sticky embrace. But she was given very little time to ponder the state of her clothing, as almost immediately the handcuffs were replaced by coils of tightly wound rope that bit deeply into her flesh and made her pine for the relative comfort of the steel bracelets. Her focus of attention was soon distracted from her wrist bonds, however, as the reluctant captive was womanhandled to the floor and the binding process continued apace.

Being compelled to lie on her stomach, Cathy soon found her feet being forced up behind her until they touched her bound and useless hands. The next thing she knew, more rope was being coiled around the cinch in her ankle bond, then connected to the cord that bit into her wrists. For a second or two the uncaring pairs of hands released their grip on her at this point, but any hope she may have entertained that her bonds could in some way be relinquished, were soon shown to be mere wishful thinking, as Cathy now found her wrists and ankles conjoined by their shared fetter. Bond followed bond in quick succession now, as her elbows and now arched torso were subjected to a vast array of different tying styles and techniques, involving more rope, chains with padlocks and duct tape; the latter seemingly an especially favoured medium of the three tireless riggers, with the final flourish being a thick cocooning layer around her hands and fingers. With their victim now well and truly subdued, a change of gag was called for; the drool soaked ball being replaced by the now familiar stuff gag and encircling tape. Right on cue, as the enthusiastic threesome came to the end of the immobilising process, Dolores appeared in the doorway.

"My, you do look good all wrapped up in those bonds Cathy. How does it feel to be the guinea pig for my girls'experiments? You have to admit, they're pretty good at their job."

'Good' was not exactly the first word that sprang into Cathy's mind when she contemplated the situation she found herself in right now. With her limbs trapped in the most unnatural of poses, and her whole body restrained with a severity she'd never before encountered, she rocked from side to side on the floor, in an effort to find a more comfortable position. But alas, this was an unattainable goal, as she was incapable of building up enough momentum in her rolling motion to tip herself over. Dolores merely laughed at these pitiful attempts at repositioning.

"You know something Cathy? Trying to move around out here is way too dangerous for me to allow you to continue. After all, I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself before tonight's little event. So I think, for your own safety, it's time we consigned you to a more secure and safe location."

Without any further instruction being given, the silent sidekicks grabbed Cathy by the legs, shoulders and arms, and in no more than three seconds had lifted her up and placed her face down inside the musty smelling trunk.

"Okay Cathy, you're brief stint in the spotlight is scheduled for around ten o'clock tonight. That gives you nine hours or so to rest and ready yourself for your big moment. I'd try to relax if I were you, as those bonds look so tight, that too much movement will cause a lot of friction and a great deal of distress if you're not careful."

She was about to turn and leave, when something else seemed to suddenly occur to her.

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"Oh and by the way Cathy, I shall expect absolute obedience when your time comes this evening. And if you're really good and don't act up, I may even consider reducing your sentence by a day or two. So, none of those struggling and screaming shenanigans that you're so prone to, is that clear?"

The question was obviously rhetorical, as she didn't wait for a response, but simply added,

"Don't worry, there are a couple of tiny air holes drilled into the side of the trunk, so you shouldn't suffocate. So until tonight Cathy, I'll bid you farewell."

Without warning, the lid of the trunk slammed down above her head. The sound of rattling chains was followed by several padlocks clicking shut, informing the now darkness-enveloped Cathy that this was to be her resting place for the foreseeable future.

To say that the next few hours were agony for Cathy, would be one of the greatest understatements of all time - both from a physical and psychological standpoint. Wedged in the severely restrictive box, unable to move from side to side, she resigned herself to yet another lengthy stretch in solitary confinement. Struggling only exacerbated the situation, so from an early stage Cathy made a conscious effort not to move. No sound entered her cramped prison, and the atmosphere inside soon became stuffy and humid, never letting the still sweat-saturated cat-suit dry out. The only good point was that the temperature was now constant and not prone to the severe fluctuations of earlier. But there was no way she could sleep in these conditions, and although she wore no hood or blindfold, she received very few visual stimuli to steer her mind away from her predicament. She tried to think about her life outside, and what she would do when she did - eventually - get out of here. But the strict bondage was a constant reminder that her chances of interacting with the world beyond the high boundary walls of Shackleton Grange were slim, to say the least, and she found the thoughts of home and the memories of happier times too upsetting to bear.

So what else was there to occupy her mind through the long, slow hours? Well there was that strange experience of last night, when all of a sudden being tied up hadn't seemed quite such a bad thing after all. Okay, Cathy had heard of bondage being used for sexual gratification before, but she'd never paid it much heed, as it was simply something that had never held any appeal for her. But perhaps Dolores was right. Maybe she would find herself enjoying the experience of being tied up after a few more days. If she behaved herself, then perhaps last night's little performance would be repeated. Maybe she would...

Cathy shook herself out of this foolish reverie and chastised herself for entertaining such an obscene notion. How could she even begin to think such a thing? She was being kept here against her will, and nothing, not even the most intense orgasm in the world, would ever stop her from seeking release from her imprisonment at the earliest opportunity. Stay alert and bide your time, she told herself for what seemed like the thousandth time. The chance to escape would arise, and when it did she would be ready...at least that was the theory.

Finally, with her whole body aching profusely from the severe hog-tie, and her limbs stretched almost beyond the point of endurance, Cathy heard a door open somewhere close at hand. She was expecting - and indeed hoping - that the lid of her makeshift coffin was about to be unlocked at this point, but instead she felt the trunk rock slightly, before the sensation of being lifted into the air caused her to let out a stifled gasp of surprise. Seconds later, the constant jolting and jiggling from side to side informed her that she was on the move, but where was she being taken? Surely this must have something to do with the cryptic remark Dolores had made about a role in her bondage class tonight, but what this meant exactly, Cathy had been given no clue.

All of a sudden, the heavy crate slanted downwards at an angle at the front, and its helpless human cargo found herself being flung in that direction, so that her head met the wooden wall of her tomb. But this descent of the stairs, although bumpy, lasted only a few seconds, before level ground was once more attained, and the journey itself soon came to an abrupt halt, with the trunk coming to rest on the floor with a loud thump which reverberated around Cathy's mobile detention centre. Dolores' voice could now be heard, and she seemed to be addressing her audience with an air of authority. Although her words were blocked out somewhat by the sound of the locks just above Cathy's head rattling, she was sure she heard Dolores waxing lyrical over the joys of ultra-tight bondage. And as if to prove her point - in an almost 'here's one I prepared earlier' moment - the lid above Cathy's head creaked open and light poured into the confined space.

Cathy awkwardly turned her face up towards the source of the illumination. Once her eyes adjusted to the brilliance, her focus sharpened to reveal a number of women peering down at her, as if she were an exhibit in a museum...or maybe at a freak show. There was a collective intake of breath as they set eyes upon her, and the gasps and startled 'ooohs' of surprise suggested they had no idea what they were about to behold. Unlike the women that she'd met at the Bondage Convention weekend, these females seemed to be, on average, younger and more innocent looking; as if they were less accustomed to the ethos and culture of Shackleton Grange. But this was a good sign, as far as Cathy was concerned, as surely at least one of these women must see that she was in extreme discomfort and take pity on her. Groaning and struggling for all she was worth, Cathy tried to win the sympathy of the gathered women, who, when she looked more closely, all seemed to be wearing figure-hugging attire. But if she thought that her attempt to convey the message that she wasn't exactly here of her own free will would meet with success, then she was to be bitterly disappointed, as Dolores began her prepared spiel, intended to give the impression that this was all just a game. Cathy shrieked as loudly as she could, but her gagged outcry was no match for the calm and confident manner in which Dolores reassured the assembled group that nothing untoward was going on.

And seconds later, even her ability to appeal with her terror-filled eyes was removed, as the lid once again slammed into place. Just prior to the light being extinguished, however, she caught the eye of a blonde girl, who looked on open mouthed at the unfolding scene before her. Cathy made one final attempt at soliciting help from the stunned woman, and she hoped that her sad, fearful expression and deliberately pitiful cries might strike a chord in a woman who looked to be around her own age.

Whether her efforts had worked or had all been in vain, Cathy had no way of knowing at that moment. What she did know, however, was that there was no mass protest by the assemblage, which suggested that the majority of them, at least, had been taken in by Dolores' deception.

Cathy found her confining casket being once more lifted and moved. This time, however, the journey was of only a few yards, and she soon found herself once more stationary. The voices of the women she'd just been introduced to could still be heard from not far away, and it was clear, as the high heels gradually began to pass by close at hand, accompanied by parting "goodnight" shouts, that the majority of the group were leaving. After maybe fifteen minutes of this, however, the general tumult died down, and the house seemed to return to its usual state of quietude. So had she been successful in her endeavours to enlist help? As the minutes passed and no sound of police sirens reached her ears, her hopes faded. And within a few minutes, Cathy also had the rekindled wrath of Dolores to deal with.

As the lid of the chest once more opened, Cathy stared up at her three now familiar adversaries, who wasted no time in hauling her out of the box and releasing her from the worst of the hog-tie's tape, chains and cords, whilst leaving wrists still bound and gag untouched. But the discarded ropes were not redundant for long, for as soon as the knots had loosened enough to allow her jailers to slip the bonds from her legs, they immediately found new employment in fashioning a rope harness around the arms and torso of their misery-racked victim. The relinquishing of the leg ropes was no sign of reprieve for her lower limbs either, as swiftly a pair of metal ankle cuffs were fitted, the connecting chain of which gave her very little room for manoeuvre. As was usually the case in such situations, Dolores seemed to sense the precise moment that her minions would finish their allotted tasks, and reappeared in the hallway. She was not pleased.

The tirade of insults and threats that followed were delivered with such venom and anger that Cathy was left in no doubt that she was about to be subjected to yet another night of severe torment. She found herself cowering, as the Mistress ranted on for several minutes, until the level of verbal maltreatment became such that Cathy's mind seemed to shut out the constant stream of abuse; a sort of subconscious defence mechanism against the violent outpourings of her seriously enraged captor. Once Dolores had finally calmed down, Cathy found herself being led away to the cellars, where she was subjected to the ultimate in ball-tie mummification, which ensured that every inch of her being was sealed beneath multiple layers of duct tape. Every inch, that is, except for her head, which instead succumbed to claustrophobic encasement in a black leather hood which, when laced up tightly, hugged the contours of the wearer's face. With no slit for either eyes or mouth, and with padding in the vicinity of her ears, Cathy's descent into further sensorily deprived hell was once more complete, and would undoubtedly remain so well into tomorrow. Or so she had assumed.

The unexpected visitation during the night had come as a complete shock to Cathy, although the fact that someone had actually taken heed of her earlier plea for assistance was the first bit of good fortune to come her way since her incarceration had begun. (How long had it been now, three days or four? Being kept in darkness for all but the most fleeting of periods, made gauging the passage of time a somewhat inaccurate science).

But the fact that this other woman - who had introduced herself as Bethany - had been caught in the act of releasing her, and was also now in Dolores' clutches, meant that the ray of hope that briefly flared when her would-be liberator had removed her hood and gag, had once again been extinguished. And now here the two of them were, taped together from neck to toe, with intertwining crotch ropes that caused friction every time either one of them moved.

Perhaps this Bethany character was a plant, to see how she reacted and to report back to Dolores on any further escape attempts she might be contemplating. And this notion became stronger as, in response to her own squirming attempts to free herself, Bethany had started to rhythmically jerk herself off, suggesting that she was enjoying this whole episode. But, after only a minute or two, it occurred to Cathy that the expertly placed crotch rope was rubbing frantically into her with every move that her counterpart made, and that she too was becoming weirdly excited by their strange wriggling duet. So much so, that within seconds of Bethany reaching the pinnacle of sexual ecstasy, Cathy also found herself delighting in one of the most wonderful orgasms she'd ever experienced.

So who was Bethany? Fellow prisoner or infiltrator brought in to spy on her activities? There was no possibility of answers being found whilst the two of them were mummified and bound, gagged and hooded to the degree in which they found themselves at the moment. Tomorrow all would be revealed, Cathy surmised, as she heard the soft rhythmic breathing of her closely strapped partner, informing her that Bethany was now asleep. And despite the fact that she was lying on her side, unable to move, on a cold stone floor in a basement cell, Cathy too soon drifted away into the realms of Morpheus.

Chapter 10 - The Hunt (added: 2017/04/15)

Bethany's return to consciousness coincided with a ripping sound that seemed to have its origins very close at hand. Opening her eyes seemed to make no difference to the overall blackness that pervaded her vision and, not yet fully awake, forgetting the circumstances under which she'd fallen asleep, she panicked momentarily before the memory of where she was suddenly kicked in. The warm body of Cathy pressed hard against her torso, abdomen and legs, and any small movement that she inadvertently made, told her that the stringent crotch rope was still in situ and, judging by the ever so slight but also very real first awakenings of arousal that this engendered, ready to work its magic once more.

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But this spell was quickly broken by the recommencement of the tearing sound, which Bethany now recognised as that of the tape cocoon, which had kept the bound pair in such an intimate embrace for the duration of their rest period, being ripped asunder. And soon, the results of this removal of the tape - which seemed to only reluctantly relinquish its grip on their spandex-clad bodies - became evident, as a current of cooler air began to circulate around Bethany's body, corresponding with a slackening of the tight caress that held the imprisoned duo in check.

A muffled sound from her co-captive informed Bethany that she was also awake, and with this discarding of their shared sheath came a bolt of lightning that started between Bethany's legs and spread rapidly through her being, as Cathy tried and failed to pull free of her remaining bonds. This strange but enjoyable sensation lasted no more than one jerk of their intertwined crotch ropes, however, as almost as soon as the tape had been removed, Bethany felt the pleasure-inducing rope loosen dramatically; leaving her frustrated at this sudden end to what she was hoping would be another mind-blowing orgasm.

With the crotch ropes removed and the two prisoners no longer in any way conjoined, Bethany rolled onto her back and tested her remaining rope bondage. There was still no leeway in the coils around her wrists, which had kept tight and secure for the duration of the night, and her legs, likewise, failed to make any headway when she tentatively pulled at the ligatures that held them in check. For a few seconds she was left to stretch out on the floor, experimenting with this newly acquired semi-freedom. But then, a pair of hands grabbed her shoulders and held her still, whilst another's fingers began to unpluck the lacing on the claustrophobic hood. Bethany's journey from pitch blackness to bright light was instantaneous and blinding, although once her vision had adjusted to the new conditions, the dim, unshaded light bulb that hung from the cell roof proved not to be particularly bright in its illuminating qualities, and looking around she found the corners of the room in a state of semi-twilight. As Bethany watched, Cathy's hood was also being unlaced and slipped from her head; her lank hair suddenly cascading out in chaotic tangles around her shoulders.

Bethany scrutinised her fellow captive's face, hoping to make her mind up, once and for all, whether Cathy was a player in some kinky game, or really being held here against her will. And, unless she was an extremely convincing actress, the latter now seemed to be the far likelier truth of the matter. For Bethany could now witness at close quarters the fear and despair etched in the red rimmed, dark brown eyes that were smeared and circled with the tear stains. She could decipher no element of hope in those deep pools of loneliness, but instead encountered an air of resignation as to her fate, brought about by days on end of interminable captivity. And if her analysis of the situation was correct, then it now seemed that this was a fate which she would also be forced to share.

For Cathy, things weren't quite so clear; the jury still being out on whether Bethany was working for Dolores as a sort of spy, or if she too was now in the same boat as herself. The fact that she seemed to enjoy their shared and enforced escapade during the night suggested that Bethany was in the employ of Dolores. But, there again, hadn't she also found herself revelling in the wave of good vibes that had coursed between the two of them? So logically, if Cathy could use this as a kind of safety valve and escape into a land of sexual fantasy for a while in order to in some way alleviate the horrors of an uncertain future, then surely Bethany might have had the same idea. Would she get the chance to talk to Bethany today? Or would they be kept gagged whilst in each other's presence? Maybe they would even be separated and never see each other again. This thought made Cathy shiver slightly, as she realised that having another girl in the same situation as herself had been a great comfort to her - not that she would wish this nightmare on anyone else - and the notion of once more being bound and shut up on her own didn't bear thinking about. For not only was there a degree of reassurance in her plight being shared with another, but she also figured that two minds were better than one when it came to finding a way out of this whole mess. But to plot their campaign, they needed to be able to communicate, and mouths filled with tights or other bundles of cavity filling material, which were then held in place with circuit after circuit of duct tape, made formulating any strategy or making decisive plans as difficult as if the other communicant happened to be speaking a foreign language. Perhaps - she hardly dared to allow the thought access to her brain - there might come a time when Dolores' servants got careless and left the pair of them both ungagged and unguarded at the same time. Then the time for plotting their escape could really begin to take shape.

But that time was clearly not going to be now. Having hauled their captives to their feet, the black suited figure grabbed Bethany's upper left arm and began to guide her towards the door in short hopping motions. But if Cathy initially thought that she and Bethany were to be bidding each other farewell, it soon became apparent that she too was going on this same journey as her bound companion. With the pink latex-clad woman at her elbow, she found herself being bounced on her still stringently bound feet out of the room and into the dimly lit main area of the cellar. With the silver cat-suited figure leading the way and opening doors as she went, the tied twosome found themselves ascending, in awkward leaps, the steep stairs back up to ground level.

The sunlight that streamed through the windows of Shackleton Grange made Cathy hungry for a taste of the outside world, and only served to intensify her desire for freedom. But with Dolores' mute but ever attentive employees watching over her like hawks, plus the fact that she was still bound hand and foot, ensured that these thoughts remained nothing but pipe dreams. Across the entrance hall the duo were shepherded, each jumping in time with the demands of her guard, and each gasping hard into their gags, in an effort to catch their breath due to the strenuous effort involved. Their travels lasted only a few minutes, however, and terminated in the kitchen. Cathy eyed the chest freezer warily as they were ushered into the room, but she took some comfort from the fact that the lid was sealed shut, and that she and Bethany were being directed towards the table and not this torture chamber, which still had her shivering with the memory of her incarceration in its icy interior.

Being placed on solid wooden upright chairs directly opposite each other at the kitchen table, the three servants soon immobilised the pair by binding them with strict efficiency to these sedentary mooring posts, before stripping the tape from their mouths and pulling out their gags. Any thoughts of communicating with each other that either of the two prisoners might have considered, however, were nipped in the bud, as the second that Bethany opened her mouth to utter her first unhindered syllable, a hand was placed to her lips, and the scowl on the silver-suited figure's face informed her that talking was frowned upon...and probably subject to punishment of some description.

Breakfast of bread and water was swiftly served to the two inmates with almost military precision, with the pre-prepared victuals being offered up to the lips of the captives and more or less forced between their teeth. The water was a blessing after so long without liquid refreshment, and soothed Cathy's parched throat. The bread, although not particularly appetising, would at least help to keep her energy levels up, which she knew would be vital should an escape opportunity present itself.

Just as the force-feeding process was coming to its conclusion, the sound of high heels - faint at first, but getting ever closer - reached Cathy's ears. It didn't take a genius to work out that the staccato tapping was produced by Dolores' footwear, and this was confirmed seconds later as she appeared in the open doorway; dressed in figure-hugging black leather that highlighted her hour-glass figure and long slender legs.

"Good morning ladies. I trust you enjoyed each other's company last night. Makes a welcome change from solitary confinement, don't you agree Cathy?"

Cathy knew better than to rise to the bait by now, and merely nodded. Bethany, however, was more vocal.

"Look Mistress, I'm not sure exactly what's going on here, but my train leaves at ten o'clock, and if I miss that there's a two hour wait before the next one. So, much as I enjoyed last night, I need to be on my way shortly. Could you get your girls to untie me now please?"

Dolores walked slowly towards the table and sighed deeply.

"Oh dear Bethany, you really haven't grasped the reality of what's going on here, have you? You see, Cathy here really is my prisoner, and she's going nowhere for several months. And now, as your curiosity got the better of you last night, you've become embroiled in this whole affair too."

She knelt down beside the chair on which Bethany was bound and looked her in the eye.

"Which means, my darling, that you know far too much for me to just let you go. So, to sum the situation up, you're going to have to stay here for the same length of time as Cathy."

She patted Bethany gently on the cheek, then stood up to her full height again and paced across the room.

"In fact, I'm going to place you under exactly the same rules and conditions as Cathy."

Bethany tugged as hard as she could at the ropes that lashed her to the chair, but found instantly that there was no way that she could ever hope to break free. Although she could see no reason to disbelieve Dolores now, her mind still couldn't quite take in the fact that this was all for real.

"Come on! This joke's gone on too long and it's not funny anymore. I demand that you release me immediately!"

From the other side of the table, Cathy listened to the ongoing and increasingly heated exchange with growing dismay. Not only did her one chance of getting a message to the outside world seem to have slipped away, but it appeared that Bethany hadn't yet worked out the solution to the simple equation, namely that dissent equals punishment. She desperately wanted to warn her new acquaintance that she was getting ever deeper into something that it would be impossible to get out of. But she knew that getting involved would be to her detriment, so reluctantly decided to keep silent. Dolores, although her voice remained calm, was clearly getting annoyed by Bethany's insolence.

"So, you come into my house as a guest, poke your nose into affairs that don't concern you, and then start making demands of me. Well that is a clear breach of the terms of your sentence and as such is punishable howsoever I see fit. As I said a moment ago, your sentence is running concurrently with Cathy's, so you were already looking at a six month stretch, at the very least. And this outburst has just added another month to not only your sentence, but Cathy's as well."

Cathy looked at the forlorn Bethany, and saw her bottom lip begin to tremble and tears well up in her eyes, as the gravity of the situation began to hit home. But if she was hoping that her fellow prisoner had learnt her lesson from her previous outburst, she was to be disappointed.

"Let me go at once! You can't keep me tied up here for months on end! There are people who know that I'm here and will come looking for me if I don't return home. Then you'll be in so much trouble. You'll never get away with this you bitch!"

Bethany seemed to be building up a head of steam, but her stream of invective was soon curtailed by the insertion of a pair of rolled up tights, which were thrust into her still protesting mouth by the pink cat-suited figure, followed moments later by the addition of several orbits of duct tape around her face and lower head. Even so, for a full two minutes or more after the tape had been pressed down onto her flesh, her tirade continued unabated, until the need to take air in through her nostrils, plus the futility of the situation, quelled the now severely stymied demands and name-calling. Dolores stood quietly to one side as this outpouring of abuse ran its course, before delivering her response.

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"Well firstly Bethany my dear, this talk of the cavalry coming to your aid seems to contradict what you told me yesterday when you first arrived, namely that you were too embarrassed to tell anyone where you were going. And secondly, insults and uncomplimentary comments like those are another contravention of the rules, and have added yet another month to your time here. That makes eight months by my reckoning. It looks like the pair of you will be spending next Christmas here! Won't that be fun?"

Dolores came over to Bethany and cupped her tape covered chin in her hand. She gazed into her captive's fear-filled eyes for a few seconds, before releasing her grip and walking back across the room to gaze out of the window into the bright spring sunshine. Then she turned back towards the table and her two seated house guests.

"And speaking of fun, we had a little game lined up for Cathy this morning, which is designed to give her some exercise and a bit of fresh air after being cooped up indoors all day yesterday. However, now you've decided to join us too Bethany, we'd love to invite you to participate as well. After all, we wouldn't want you to feel left out, would we?"

Her next remark was addressed to her three trusted servants.

"Okay girls, you know what's required. Let's get Cathy and Bethany ready for 'The Hunt'."

'The Hunt'? What did that mean?

Cathy pondered this question as she was gagged in identical fashion to Bethany. Then both she and her comrade-in-bondage were released from the ropes that held them to the chairs. A change of wrist and leg fetters was also required, it seemed, as the ropes that had held their limbs in check were swiftly and efficiently swapped for handcuffs and ankle shackles of shining steel, which snapped shut around the narrowest part of their limbs prior to the removal of the cords, thus giving neither captive the incentive to attempt what would have anyway been a foolhardy and ultimately futile escape bid.

Being pulled to her feet, Cathy found the ankle fetters less restrictive than the tight ropes had been; the chain connecting the manacles measuring around twelve inches in length, which would allow her to walk, but with caution in case she tried to take too big a stride. The handcuffs, by contrast, allowed no such leeway, and seemed to be of the kind where the bracelets were attached by a rigid bar rather than the short chain which she was by now more accustomed to. And the final flourish was the addition of headwear. Although of the same shiny black leather, these were not the sensory depriving hoods that the pair had worn for the duration of the night, however, but cranial coverings which not only boasted openings for the nostrils, but also had peepholes through which the wearer would be able to view her surroundings, and thus potentially be aware in advance of any horrors that were about to befall her. Essentially these were very similar to the hoods the three servants wore, with their hair sprouting in ponytails from the tops of their heads. Once pulled down to the neck, the collar strap was fastened with a small padlock to ensure it remained in place.

Finally, two pairs of flat shoes were produced.

"Here you are Bethany, I think you mislaid these after the class last night. Well never let it be said that I steal someone else's property."

Dolores passed the shoes to her silver attired slave, who dutifully slipped Bethany's feet into the flat-soled footwear.

"And Cathy, just so that you don't feel left out, here are a pair of similar shoes for you. After all, I couldn't let you run around outside with only a thin layer of spandex to protect those soft, tender feet of yours, could I?"

The pink suited figure took the borrowed footwear from Dolores' outstretched hand and began to insert Cathy's feet. Immediately, Cathy knew that these well used shoes were one size too big for her, and that they would slip off if she was forced to walk for any distance in them. Dolores seemed to realise this too.

"Sorry they're not exactly the right size, but they were the nearest we had. They used to belong to Electra here" - she motioned towards the woman who was at that moment involved in the shoeing process - "but since she's come to live here, she wears boots all the time, so has no need for these old things."

Electra? It was the first time that any of the three automatons had been humanised with the use of her name, and Cathy stored this information away, thinking that it might come in handy at a later date. For even though her attempts at building bridges with the trio had resulted in much grief being heaped upon her yesterday, she still clung to the notion that these three potentially held the key to getting out of this place.

But that would have to wait for now, as Dolores was once more asserting her authority.

"Right ladies, let's get outside shall we? It's such a lovely day out there, it would be such a shame to waste it stuck here indoors."

Dolores led the way, followed by Bethany and her accompanying guard, then Cathy, similarly under constant scrutiny. The black-clad female brought up the rear. Out of the kitchen into the U shaped courtyard the strange procession made its way. As Dolores had said, it was indeed a gloriously warm spring day, but Cathy had no thought of the wonders of the season. Her entire concentration was set on finding some opportunity to escape. The memory of the last time she'd tried such a daring stunt -at the 'Equestrian Event' just three days ago - was still vivid in her mind, and she vowed to herself that if the opportunity should arise, this time she wouldn't get caught; although how exactly this daring feat was to be accomplished she had no idea at present.

But as she was pondering on this dilemma and the nature of what was to come, she caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head towards the wall of the building from which this visual distraction seemed to emanate, her hopes of salvation suddenly rose and she began vocalising as loudly as she could in the direction of a figure walking towards their cortege.

It couldn't be, could it?

But sure enough, there, walking across the flagstones was a uniformed woman police officer. And she had a dog with her; a German shepherd that was snarling loudly with teeth bared, whilst straining hard on its leash. Surely Dolores and her retinue would flee now, knowing that the game was up. But, to Cathy's surprise and dismay, Dolores merely smiled and shouted a friendly greeting to the newcomer.

And it was only then that Cathy realised that first impressions can be deceptive, and that she should have paid more attention to the figure, who was by this time within a few yards of the now stationary group of six. Cathy's mind, it seemed, had grasped hold of the first image it had encountered - the police uniform - then allowed her mind the freedom to conjure up details that she so desperately needed to be genuine, in order to believe that help was at hand.

Stark reality, however, was a rather different matter. Okay, so the woman standing only a few feet away from her was dressed in police uniform...well sort of. But how many real WPCs strutted around in knee length boots of shiny leather with six inch heels? Which police force was it that allowed their female officers to wear tight black skirts that barely covered their butts, with sheer, shiny black tights showing off their shapely legs? Which constabulary would condone the wearing of tight fitting, almost see-through blouses with the buttons undone nearly to the waist, in the process revealing a great deal of cleavage? And what about her hair, which cascaded wildly in long blonde waves around her shoulders? Surely any real policewoman would be required to wear this tied back or in a bun. Okay, so there was a badge on her breast pocket and a police cap on her head, plus a night stick and a pair of handcuffs hanging from her broad leather belt to add to the authenticity of her outfit. But that was about all she had in common with the good old British bobby-on-the-beat. In fact, as Cathy scrutinised her outfit more closely, she realised that even the badge and headgear were more in line with the American cop attire that she'd seen on television, rather than British police standards.

Cathy's hopes, which had risen sky high only seconds earlier, now plummeted to new depths, as she comprehended that, far from signalling her liberation, this pseudo-cop was all part of the plans that Dolores had hatched for Bethany and herself. And the sharp fangs of the ferocious mutt that this fake WPC was barely managing to keep under control, told her that whatever was in the pipeline for her now, it didn't seem very likely that it was going to be something that she would look back on later with a great deal of fondness.

Dolores exchanged a few words with the bogus cop, which Cathy failed to catch due to the constant barking of the vicious dog. After no more than thirty seconds or so, however, Dolores turned back to the stalled convoy behind her and addressed her prisoners.

"Cathy. Bethany. I'd like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine who goes by the name of WPC Penelope Peril. And this..."

She beckoned towards the snarling, baying canine,

"...is Fang. And he hasn't been fed yet this morning, so he's a bit grumpy, as you can probably tell."

She looked from Cathy to Bethany, then back again, before breaking into a smile as she noticed their fear-filled eyes and trembling frames.

"Initially we were just going to give Cathy a run out in the sunshine with Fang this morning, but your unexpected presence, Bethany, has made things a little bit more interesting. You see, what we're going to do is give the pair of you exactly what you want: your freedom."

She paused for a second or two, to let his seemingly compassionate gesture sink in, before delivering her bombshell.

"In fact, we'll give you a head start of five minutes before we let Fang off the leash."

Bethany gasped in horror and looked across at Cathy with wide, horror-filled eyes, as if she was seeking some sort of solace that she'd misheard Dolores' last utterance. The look on Cathy's face, however, gave her no cause for optimism that this was the case.

"So, what we're planning to do is play a game called 'Fugitives from Justice'. The pretext is that you two are convicts who have somehow escaped from a high security prison, and are now on the run. We, the forces of Law and Order, will be hot on your trail in order to return you to your cells and ensure that the ordinary men, women and children of Suffolk can sleep safely in their beds, knowing that two hardened criminals have been taken off the streets."

Dolores smiled that evil smile of hers, as she warmed to the little drama that she was describing.

"Now here are a few pieces of advice for you both. Firstly, my servants will be monitoring the approaches to the main gate of the house, to ensure that you can't escape or draw attention to yourselves there. Secondly, I'd split up if I were you, as Fang here can only chase one of you at a time. And lastly, there are a few booby traps laid out for you in the woods. Stumble into one of those and the game is over. If either one of you manages to remain undetected for more than fifteen minutes - which is unlikely - then you'll win the right to a night of luxury bondage pampering. If we catch you within that time, however, then you'll be sent back to solitary confinement for the rest of the day. Is everything clear to you both?"

Without waiting for any kind of response, she turned to her underlings.

"Okay girls, let them loose."

'Loose' was not really an apt word to describe the condition of the two reluctant players in this terrifying game, as neither Bethany nor Cathy was relieved of her manacles. Instead their handlers simply released the grip that they had maintained on their prisoners' shoulders during the course of Dolores' oration. For a second or two, both appeared rooted to the spot, unsure of whether or not to flee, and if so to where. Dolores, however, seemed keen for them to make tracks.

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"Come on ladies, get into the spirit of the game. This is going to be both beneficial and fun. Beneficial insofar as it'll be a great workout for you both, as your opportunities for exercise will be few and far between from now on. And fun...well I'm certainly going to enjoy watching you trying to evade Fang's desire for blood."

Dolores' harsh laughter - which Cathy likened to that of some evil witch - momentarily rent the air, before she became serious again.

"Well don't just stand there like fools. The clock's ticking. Only four and a half minutes now before we'll be on your trail."

Cathy and Bethany looked for a split second at each other, before beginning their awkward flight. But where were they heading? The front of the house would be out of bounds, if Dolores was to be believed, so where else could they go? Instinctively Cathy headed for the section of the wooded area that she'd become familiar with the other day. She had no great plans once she reached the tree line, but knew that at least she would be out of sight once she entered the dense thicket. And it seemed, from the footfalls and sound of laboured breathing directly behind her, that Bethany had decided to follow her lead.

The chains that conjoined the shackles around their ankles were of a length that made running difficult but not impossible. The initial problem for both women was getting accustomed to just how long a stride the perpetually jangling links would allow. Trying to move too fast would result in a heavy fall, and with no hands to cushion your descent, landing flat on your face was always a danger. Too short a step, however, would mean that the distance put between prey and pursuers in the time allowed would be restricted. Added to this, the fact that the shoes that Cathy was forced to wear kept slipping off her heels, made the journey to the sanctuary of the copse a haltingly frustrating process. But once there, decisions had to be made. And the first thing to do was to make Bethany realise that splitting up was the best policy, as at the moment she seemed to be tagging along in Cathy's slipstream. Making herself understood through a cloth gag, layers of tape and a leather mask was a trial, but augmenting her vocal instructions by eye gestures and thrusting out her handcuffed arms from behind her and pointing in the direction that she thought Bethany should take, seemed to get the message across. Cathy waited for maybe five seconds as she watched her fellow prisoner move off down a well-trodden track, then headed in the opposite direction. She was, she realised, going in entirely the opposite direction to that taken the other day. What lay down this route she wasn't certain, but within seconds she had located the stream that she'd encountered during her pony-girl phase, and instantly hit on an idea. From somewhere in the back of her mind, she dredged up the knowledge that dogs couldn't follow a scent over water. Whether this was true or not, she wasn't entirely certain, but it was worth a try.

Wading into the knee deep current, Cathy pushed her way downstream for around fifty yards, then clambered with great difficulty up a muddy bank on the far side of this babbling watercourse. Here the ground sloped downwards into a slight hollow, where the trees were sparser than in the surrounding wildwood. If she could make it across this natural indentation and up to the ridge on the far side, where the trees grew once more in tightly compacted abundance, then she might be able to out-fox the baying hound, which could still be heard in the distance. As she moved down the gently descending hill, she realised that the area was marshy and slippery under foot. And it seemed the closer she came to the lowest point of this natural bowl, that the mud was getting deeper, until with each step she was sinking up to her ankle in slimy ooze. Maybe coming this way wasn't such a good idea after all.

But it was too late to turn back now; she'd made her decision and she had to stick with it. She took another step forward and she gasped, as the ill-fitting shoe on her left foot slid off and disappeared into the mire. Without her hands to retrieve it, Cathy knew that trying to dig it out with her toes would be too time consuming, so she left it where it lay. And two or three steps later, the right shoe did a similar vanishing act. Cathy now had no choice but to continue shoeless. Was it her imagination, or were the dog's yelps and howls getting closer? She shuddered with fear at what this evil looking beast would do to her if it got its teeth into her flesh - covered only in a thin layer of spandex - and this gave her the impetus required to up her pace to the maximum that the chain would allow. She was approaching the lowest point in the landscape now, and consoled herself that, as she began to ascend again, the ground would become drier and the going easier.

The events that transpired in the next second or two, occurred so fast that it left Cathy powerless to counteract her descent into a situation which - despite her need for silence and stealth - found her squealing with fright into her gag. Extracting each shackled foot from the two or three inch depression that each step created had been bad enough. But suddenly finding that her leading foot had encountered a patch of even more unsound terrain, in which her leg now sunk in as far as the knee, made Cathy struggle violently to pull it out again. Unfortunately, with her ankles chained together, the quickness of this sudden movement caused her to stumble forward, and within no more than a second her other foot, too, had plunged deeply into the bog. But what was worse, was the fact that attempting to lift either foot out now failed to produce the desired outcome. In fact, each upward straining motion only seemed it produce a sucking sound from within the bowels of the earth, which corresponded with a slight but perceptible further downward slippage into the quagmire.

Panic stricken, Cathy looked around her. If her hands had been free, she could probably have reached out and grabbed the branches of one of the stunted trees that seemed to cluster around this low-lying swampland. But with this luxury denied her, there was nothing to grasp hold of in order to lever herself out of the unstable ground, and she found herself lunging blindly forward in an effort to reach terra firma. But this was to prove her downfall...quite literally. For instead of hauling herself out of the volatile sodden loam which soaked through the tight spandex of her garment in an instant, she found her body tumbling forwards, and before she could even think of taking action to steady herself, she had fallen face down into the morass. Getting herself upright again was an arduous process, but from somewhere Cathy found the strength to lift her torso from the sludge and straighten up to her full height. But this minor triumph was soon forgotten as she gazed down and noticed that her knees had disappeared from sight, and that the clinging mud was now half way up her thighs. Trying to extricate her legs was no longer an option, as she found the action of lifting one foot high enough to take a further step beyond her means. And from the squelching sounds that every movement seemed to produce, it was clear that the sinking process was an ongoing one.

Dilemma piled upon ever worsening dilemma. Should she struggle in an attempt to get out of the bog? Or remain motionless, in the hope that she would stop sinking? Should she call for help, knowing that a vicious dog and several equally ferocious women would be the only ones to hear her cries? What would happen to her if she continued to sink? Would Dolores even bother rescuing her, or simply leave her to her fate? Despite the fact that the quagmire was pulling her further down with every attempt she made, Cathy found herself still desperately trying to raise her now almost invisible legs. An involuntary wail of anguish found release from behind her wall of gags, as the knowledge that she was still being sucked under at an alarming rate of knots registered in her brain. Within seconds she was submerged to her hips, and knew that soon her manacled arms would also succumb to the inevitable and become trapped in the unforgiving sludge. And once that happened, she realised, the chances of pulling herself out would recede to nil. She gazed down at her ever sinking self, trying to remain calm and still, yet unable to stop herself fighting every time she felt herself slip further into the immobilising mire. She was submerged to waist level now, and keeping her hands clear of the thick slime that seemed to close in and constrict all around her was becoming ever more difficult. Pushing on the surface with her fingers had no effect in her efforts to arrest her rapid decline, and seconds later she looked down in horror as she felt the watery morass seep through her tight spandex outfit just beneath her breasts. If someone didn't come along soon, she was doomed. As the cold unforgiving mud begun to play around her nipples, she screamed as loudly as she could into the wilderness. But a decrease in the volume of the dog's bark in recent minutes, seemed to suggest that her pursuers had gone after Bethany, not her.

Cathy watched in impotence as the hungry bog reached her armpits. She gazed outwards at the surrounding terrain, but all she could see was a sea of stinking mud stretched out at chin level before her, with the stunted shrubs and other marsh-loving species of flora at the horizons of her vision. What were the alternatives on offer to her now? To drown in this secluded swamp, with her body never to be recovered? Or to be mauled and severely injured - if not killed - by some out-of-control ravenous hellhound? And even if she survived either or both of these scenarios, what did she have to look forward to, except a life of captivity and 24/7 bondage?

But even taking into account her bleak future at Shackleton Grange, Cathy's will to survive was still strong. However much suffering Dolores put her through, it had to be better than passing away in some not-so-shallow muddy grave. And besides, she had vowed to herself that she would escape Dolores' clutches and once again join the rest of humanity in the outside world. And that thought spurred her on to her next bout of vocal action.

Cathy howled as loudly as her layered gags would allow, and seconds after her desperate outburst, the snarling sounds of the hound seemed to get that little bit closer. Was there still time for her to be discovered and hauled out of this slurry? Or would the hunting party simply turn up to find a swirling mass of churning, bubbling mud in the place where she had recently fought so valiantly for life? It was a race against the clock, with time most definitely running out for Cathy.

Chapter 11 - Strung Up, Bogged Down and Hung Out to Dry (added: 2017/04/25)

Bethany reluctantly hobbled away from Cathy as swiftly as her leg-irons would allow, taking the narrow but well defined pathway deeper into the woods. Still shell-shocked from the events of the past twelve hours or so, and with the recent revelation that she was now being held against her will at Shackleton Grange only just beginning to sink in, she had been loath to leave her only ally, but knew that it made sense for them to split up and go their separate ways.

Birdsong filled the mid-morning air, with butterflies and bees in abundance in the sunlit glades, and squirrels and other small woodland mammals scurrying around this undisturbed wildlife haven. But Bethany took little notice of the sights and sounds of nature taking place around her. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her breath came in short, exhausted bursts. And after the way she'd been bound all night, the muscles in her legs were painful and stiff from lack of activity. Yet she willed herself to push these physical woes to the back of her mind. All she could do was try to concentrate on finding a place to hide, where the baying hound couldn't get its fearsome teeth into her. Climbing a tree was obviously out of the question in her fettered condition. The thick undergrowth might be an option, she pondered, although if she could immerse herself in foliage of this kind, with her arms shackled at her back and therefore of little use to her, then she was sure that any canine predator would be more than capable of following.

It can't have been much more than a minute or so after she and Cathy had parted, that Bethany slowed down and came to a halt where two tracks merged. Breathing heavily due to the exertion from her enforced flight, and trembling from the fear that tightened its grip in her stomach and seemed to grow steadily until it all but overwhelmed her, she tried to calm herself by taking in lungfuls of pristine country air through the tiny nose slits in her tightly fitting hood. Which way now? She gazed around, but each direction looked the same, with dense trees and thick underbrush every way she turned. And then she saw it.

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At a distance of around fifty feet from where she stood, in a clearing not far off the winding trail that led away to her right, she spotted what she hoped would be a haven from the teeth and claws of the bloodthirsty beast that she was certain would soon be bearing down upon her. The tree stump appeared ancient and decayed, with moss covering the peeling dead bark and ferns growing in abundance all around. But, if her view from this distance was accurate, it looked to be hollow, around three feet in diameter, and rose probably about five feet from the forest floor. On these dimensions alone, this would have been no use to Bethany as a sanctuary, as the possibility of climbing onto or into this arboreal remnant would have been beyond her means given her state of bondage. But from the angle from which she was approaching, she could clearly see that part of the side of this rotting tree had a giant vertical rent in one side - probably caused by a lightning strike many years ago - which would mean that stepping into the empty interior shouldn't be too much of a trial, even taking into account her manacled wrists and shackled legs.

The path to this possible port of refuge was uneven and covered in leave litter and other forest floor detritus. There were also tree roots sticking out of the ground, which would make traversing this natural avenue a hazardous affair, as one trip could have seen her crashing to the ground or twisting an ankle...or maybe worse. But the sun shone brightly through the still unfurling spring leaves, dappling the ground and ensuring that the way ahead was relatively well lit, and therefore ensuring that any obstacle or hindrance could be easily identified. Or so Bethany assumed as she took her first steps towards her intended hideaway.

She hadn't taken into account any deliberately hidden obstructions that might have been positioned in her path, however.

Bethany had traversed around three quarters of the distance to her intended goal, when suddenly her whole world was turned upside down...quite literally. One second she was walking along the track, with twigs and leaves crunching loudly underfoot as she went, the next she felt something constrict painfully around her left ankle. But before she could look down to see exactly what it was that had caused this sudden discomfort, Bethany felt her foot slipping from under her, and her leg shooting skywards at lightning speed, which resulted in her falling over backwards. The upward trajectory of her leg continued as she tipped over, however, which meant that instead of landing on her back, her whole body was propelled upwards so swiftly, that she was instantly clear of the ground; her feet high overhead, with her whole being rotating and swinging wildly in the breeze.

Bethany gazed helplessly at an upside down world in which the ground seemed to be spinning below her. This sudden 180 degree change in her alignment to the planet, plus the inability of her eyes to focus on one fixed spot as her body oscillated uncontrollably, made her dizzy and nauseous. It took her a few minutes to realise that she had activated some sort of snare - obviously one of the booby traps that Dolores had mentioned - which must have been spring-loaded, so that once stepped in, it propelled its helpless victim's leg upwards to leave her dangling from a tree branch several feet above the ground. As the gyrating motion gradually decreased and the blurred panorama began to sharpen, Bethany gazed down to find that her face was probably around six or seven feet above the carpet of leaves below. The pain in her left ankle, where the wire cut deeply into her flesh through the less than adequately protective spandex, was excruciating. But any twisting and tugging manoeuvres that she attempted in order to slip her foot free, only seemed to make the noose tighten still further. Her other foot, chained to its counterpart but relatively free, flailed helplessly outwards, as if trying to find a foothold or grasp some solid object, such as a branch or tree trunk, in order to in some way begin the process of escaping from this upturned world in which she found herself. This action, of course, proved futile and only resulted in the swinging motion becoming more exaggerated. Bethany let a low, despairing moan slip from behind her layered gag, despite the fact that the only likely respondents to this pitiful cry would be Dolores, her servants or the pseudo-policewoman.

How long Bethany remained suspended there it was difficult to guess at. It seemed to her like several hours, as her foot became numb and her head began to throb. In reality, it was probably no more than a few minutes, however, before the sound of snarling and panting grew louder, and seconds later the free roaming Fang was directly beneath her, growling and jumping as high into the air as he could to get at his prize. Luckily, Bethany found that she was strung up high enough above ground level to ensure that she was out of reach of those razor sharp teeth... but only just! Each leap that the apparently bloodthirsty creature made towards her had Bethany flinching and deliberately pulling her head up as high as she could to avoid contact. Even so, with every close encounter with the brute's jaws, she could feel its stale, rancid breath against the few parts of her face not encased behind the leather hood, and view the interior of its salivating mouth. How long would it be before this hound of hell got lucky and actually managed to get a hold of her freely hanging ponytail? Or worse, tear through her headwear and rip into the flesh of her face?

Suddenly, from not far away, a shrill whistling sound pierced the glade, and all of a sudden the growling and gnashing of teeth came to an abrupt halt.

"Come here Fang, there's a good boy."

Bethany watched from her upended position as Fang scampered off, tail wagging, towards the source of this command. Straining her head around, she saw the form of WPC Penelope sashay along the path into the clearing. Slowly she approached the still swinging female, before making a complete circuit of her helpless prey.

"Well, well, looks like Dolores' little trap worked a treat, doesn't it? So which one are you then? Cathy or Bethany?"

Bethany attempted to give her name through the efficient multi-layered gags she wore, although whether the blonde woman now standing almost directly beneath her comprehended this stifled single word answer or not wasn't clear. Penelope looked at her watch.

"Seven and a half minutes, give or take a few seconds. That's how long it took for us to find you. Not bad I suppose, but not good enough to win a prize I'm afraid. I'm sure Dolores has got some nice devious punishment in mind for failing your task."

Again she walked around the dangling, spandex clad figure, a slight smile on her face. Bethany gazed a few feet away, to where Fang now sat on the pathway, tongue hanging out of one side of his mouth, his eyes still set on the suspended female above him. He seemed like a coiled spring, ready to pounce should his mistress give the command. From her belt, Penelope pulled a small two-way radio and began speaking.

"Dolores? I've found one of your prisoners. I caught her hanging around - quite literally - about a hundred yards from the south perimeter wall. Have you come across the other one yet?"

A voice sounded through a wall of static - indistinct, but unmistakably belonging to Dolores - answering this enquiry in the negative.

"Okay, I'll set Fang to work again. It shouldn't take us too long to track her down, now that we've got one in the bag."

She leant down and grabbed Fang's collar, then began to drag the agitated animal away down the path. Bethany groaned in pain as she watched the departing pair. Just as they were about to disappear from sight into the dense trees, however, Penelope turned and called back to the suspended damsel-in-distress.

"Don't worry, we'll be back for you just as soon as we've rounded up your little partner-in-crime."

Then almost as an afterthought, she shouted back over her shoulder.

"If I were you I'd keep as still as you can. That branch that you're suspended from looks a bit unsafe to me. Wouldn't want you to come crashing back down to earth now, would we? Falling onto your head from that height would be rather nasty I should imagine."

What with all that had been going on over the past few minutes, Bethany hadn't taken the time to consider the strength of the tree limb onto which the trap had been set. But these parting words caused her to focus her mind on this potentially dangerous set of circumstances. And yes, Penelope was right, the branch on which she swung did indeed seem perilously unstable, and creaked ominously if she moved. Straining her neck upwards, the ensnared female watched as the fragile timber bent and swayed with every minor motion that she made. Casting her eyes down again, the distance to the ground seemed daunting, and she knew that without the use of her hands to break her fall, she was in great danger of severe head or neck injury should the wood decide to give way. How long would it be before she was cut down from this suspended hell? Although wishing no ill on Cathy, she found herself hoping that Dolores and her entourage would recapture her soon, so that her own nightmare could be brought to a safe conclusion. Until then, all she could do was remain as still as possible and pray that the branch was stronger than it looked or sounded.

Cathy's hopes declined in sync with the rate that she found herself descending into her soft, muddy grave. The greyish brown ooze was nearly to her shoulders now, and total immersion seemed imminent within no more than a minute or two. Lifting her chin clear of the encroaching mire, she flung her head back and wailed one long, sorrowful howl of despair into the ether.

And this elongated single note seemed to have the desired effect, for within seconds she heard a rustling in the leaf litter from somewhere close at hand behind her. Finding it impossible to turn and view whoever it was that was approaching, her first clue as to the identity of the new arrival was the now familiar voice that she had come to dread. Yet right at that moment, Dolores' dulcet tones were the most welcome sound in the world.

"Well Cathy, looks like you've got yourself into a bit of a sticky situation here. You should really watch where you're going, you know. How did you manage to sink so deeply in such a short space of time?"

Dolores crouched down on her haunches on the firm ground, no more than five feet or so from where Cathy's head protruded from the less stable terrain. Even as the Mistress spoke, Cathy felt herself slip a further fraction of an inch into the quaking landscape, and ignored the question, instead pleading for her life to be spared.

"What, and get my nice clean cat-suit and boots all muddy? No darling, this is as near as I'm going to be getting."

Cathy wailed again. Surely Dolores wasn't going to just let her submerge completely, was she? Luckily, it soon became apparent that Dolores was merely teasing her.

"After all, why get your hands dirty when you employ servants to do all the hard work for you?"

She turned her head around in the direction from which she'd just arrived, and called out in a loud voice.

"Girls, I've found our little playmate. Get over here as quick as you can, will you? She's in a bit of a predicament at the moment and needs your urgent assistance."

The slimy fingers of the bog had gripped the base of Cathy's leather encased neck by this time, and she prayed that Dolores' aides weren't too far away. The next twenty seconds or so were the longest of her young life, as she waited in desperation for the sound of footsteps traipsing through the dense undergrowth. But by the end of that unnaturally slowed down time-span, a silver latexed female had appeared from one direction, followed by a similarly clothed skin-tight vision in pink from another.

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"You'd better get to work girls. Otherwise Cathy won't be around to sample the rest of the delights I have planned for her over the coming months."

Whether they'd had to rescue someone from a similar plight in the past or not, Cathy didn't know. But it was obvious straight away that this pair knew exactly what was required of them. Cathy gazed up at the figures above her, as the silver suited woman pulled out a length of rope that had been tucked into her leather belt. Swiftly tying this around her waist, she handed the ends to her equally silent colleague, before beginning to wade into the thick morass that immediately began to suck her down into its depths. By the time she had pushed her way to within a few inches of Cathy, she too was up to her thighs in the ever hungry quag, with the rope lifeline behind her now being kept taut by her associate. Cathy could do nothing but watch in relief as her rescuer's hands came to within inches of her face, before being plunged deeply into the thick, congealing bog. For a moment or two nothing happened. But then, Cathy suddenly felt fingers being forcefully inserted into her armpits, and seconds later, both she and her rescuer were being hauled back towards the bank. It took several minutes, but little by little Cathy felt her body and legs beginning to rise from the reluctantly yielding thick earthen soup that had so recently been ready to swallow her whole. By this time, the third of Dolores' servants had appeared on the scene, and she too helped her pink clad co-worker haul the mud-encrusted pair back onto terra firma. As this had been going on, Dolores had merely retreated a yard or two from the swamp's edge and was watching with detached interest - as if viewing a film or television drama. Only once Cathy had been laid on her back on the uneven but firm woodland floor, did she once again speak.

"Well Cathy, trying to out-fox us by hiding yourself underground, eh? I have to say that I admire your ingenuity. But unfortunately, we still hunted you down within the requisite fifteen minutes, so I'm afraid you don't win today's star prize. Close, but no cigar, as they say."

Lying safely stretched out on the reassuringly solid ground, Cathy tried to calm her shredded nerves. That had been too close for comfort. But if she thought that the day's ordeal was now in the past, she was to soon change her opinion. As Dolores was speaking, a rasping, panting sound reached Cathy's ears, and seconds later she shivered with fear as she watched the slobbering form of the German shepherd appear in the clearing, straining hard on its leash and being held in check - just about - by WPC Penelope Peril.

Dolores smiled at her friend. "What took you so long?" was her only comment.

Cathy's period of recuperation after her near death experience lasted only the length of time it took Penelope to explain the situation with regard to Bethany. Cathy listened with mounting dismay as she realised that her fellow captive had been no more successful than she in finding a way out of the secure enclosure that constituted the grounds of Shackleton Grange.

"Well, I suppose we'd better cut her down before all the blood drains into her head. Then we'll get the pair of them back to the house and let Fang get to know them a little better, shall we?"

Cathy found herself pulled to her feet, and within seconds a dog leash - similar to that worn by Fang - had been fixed to the collar of her hood, and she found herself being forcibly led by the black suited figure as part of a single file convoy which the fake WPC and her canine accomplice were leading away from the marshy hollow. Second in line was the pink-clad woman, followed by Cathy and her guard. As they began their slow march, Cathy glanced back over her shoulder, to see the female in the now severely soiled silver cat-suit directly behind her. Bringing up the rear - so that she could keep an eye on proceedings, and specifically her prisoner - was Dolores. This procession through the woods was made in silence; with even Fang having calmed down by this time, although he constantly glanced backwards and seemed to eye Cathy up as if waiting for his opportunity to strike.

After no more than three minutes of being dragged along through the dense spinney, Cathy heard a faint noise that came from the direction in which they were heading. At first she thought that she was hearing the wind rustling in the treetops, or maybe the call of some species of bird with which she was unfamiliar. As they approached the source, however, it became obvious that this was the sound of someone in anguish, whose cries were being stifled by some form of speech inhibitor. It couldn't be anyone but Bethany.

As they entered a clearing, Cathy caught her first glimpse of her co-captive, hanging motionlessly from a tree branch that seemed to be bent to its limits and looked to be on the verge of snapping. Bethany's calls, once she saw the rescue party approaching, softened somewhat, and she now took to pleading for her ordeal to be brought to a conclusion before the timber gave way and sent her crashing to the ground.

"Okay girls, I think she's suffered enough up there. Better let her down now."

As always, Dolores' commands were met with complete obedience by her three unquestioning members of staff, and Cathy found herself wondering exactly what kept them so docile and submissive. She had been a captive here for several days, but it occurred to her now - as Bethany was released from her upside down world - that this was the first time she had been able to watch from a neutral standpoint, as in the past, the actions of the three had always been directed at, and to the detriment of, herself. Now, as she observed them working on a third party, she pondered the question: What was in it for them? After all, they seemed to have no will of their own, but seemed to exist merely to serve Dolores' whims and make sure that her word was law. The Mistress must have some hold over them, she surmised, and she vowed to herself there and then, that she would do whatever she could to find out what made them so subservient. For if she could somehow break the grip that Dolores seemed to have over these almost robot-like females, she was sure that the Mistress' ability to wield her powerful hold over all she surveyed would be severely weakened, if not completely destroyed.

But her plans for this fact finding mission would have to be put on the backburner for the time being, as her thoughts were diverted towards the hapless Bethany, as she was slowly lowered to the ground and the deeply embedded snare removed from her leg; the indentation in the spandex - and therefore her flesh - still visible long after the wire had been loosened.

Although she looked exhausted from her frightful experience, Bethany was given no opportunity to rest. For no sooner had she been deposited on the ground, than she was being forced back to her feet and a chain identical to Cathy's was being fixed to her neck. Now with her two prisoners back under control, Dolores addressed the severely traumatised young women.

"Well ladies, wasn't that fun? I hope you enjoyed your workout in the sunshine just as much as we all enjoyed hunting you down. Unfortunately neither of you managed to reach the fifteen minute mark, so it's back to a regime of strict unremitting bondage for both of you. Next time you'll need to be more cunning if you want to win the luxury prize. Now let's get you back to the house."

Once more the cavalcade moved off, with Bethany and her guard falling into the line just behind Cathy. Within a few minutes the procession had cleared the trees and was now making its way back towards the house, which loomed ominously in front of Cathy and caused her to shiver at the thought of once more being locked away from the outside world. By now they had neared the door from which they had previously exited, but there was to be another twist to what had already been an eventful morning. Stopping just short of the entrance, Dolores once more broke the silence that had hung over this strange parade for the duration of their homeward hike.

"Now Cathy my dear, if you think you're coming back inside the house in that state, I'm afraid you're very much mistaken."

Cathy looked down at her spandex outfit, covered from neck to toe in thick mud, which was beginning to dry and harden in the warmth from the sun.

"The last thing I need is that stinking crap all over the carpets and furniture. We'll need to get you washed down before you can be allowed back in, I'm afraid."

Cathy found herself being led away to one corner of the yard. As they neared the imposing wall, she heard Dolores' voice from behind her, this time aimed at her three faithful attendants.

"And while we're at it, you might as well wash Bethany down as well. It'll save time if we do the two of them together."

Cathy glanced behind her, to see that Bethany was also being led by her handler in the same direction as herself.

It was at this point that Cathy noticed for the first time a stand-pipe tap extending from the paved courtyard, just a few feet away from the wall of the house. Attached to this was a length of hose, laid out on the ground and ready for use. She knew instantly what was about to befall her and baulked at the thought of being drenched in a torrent of cold water. She tried to dig her heels in and halt her forward progress, but a sharp tug on her leash propelled her ever closer to the wall, and when she looked around, she could see that WPC Penelope, along with the now agitated Fang, had positioned themselves in such a way as to corral both Bethany and herself into the tight angle where one wing of the house met another. And seconds later, a further deterrent to fleeing the scene of her imminent icy shower was put into place, as she found her neck chain being threaded through a stout metal ring that protruded from the brickwork, which was then secured with a padlock. Bethany, too, was being subjected to a similar tethering process only a few feet away, and within seconds their guards had withdrawn and left them standing helplessly awaiting their fate like sitting ducks.

The force of the water, as the black cat-suited figure turned on the hose and aimed it in Cathy's direction, caused her to step backwards, as a reflex action intended to get her out of the firing line. Being so close to the wall, however, there was nowhere to go, and within seconds she found herself soaked from head to toe in the freezing tidal wave that pounded against her. Immediately, Cathy's spandex cat-suit was drenched, and she shivered violently as the fierce, unrelenting flow chilled her to the bone. Moving in closer, Dolores' servant concentrated the powerful jet of water on Cathy's head and neck, before working her way downwards, ensuring that all the mud and slime from her recent encounter with the bog was thoroughly washed away.

After what must have been fully five minutes of this water torture, Dolores decided that Cathy was now sufficiently cleansed, and much to her relief, the inundation ceased. The sound of the water gushing from the hosepipe failed to die down, however, and seconds later she heard a scream of anguish and could only watch as the course of the deluge was diverted towards Bethany, only a few feet away from where she stood, frozen and bedraggled. Bethany was more fortunate than herself, however, as not having been immersed in the mud, she was much easier to rinse off, and her shower lasted only a minute or so, before the surge of water decreased to a trickle and finally stopped.

With the risk of getting splashed having now receded, Dolores stepped forwards and inspected her two waterlogged captives, to ensure that they were now thoroughly clean and therefore fit to cross the threshold back into Shackleton Grange. But it appeared that there was now another stumbling block, and that their admission back into the mansion would be somewhat delayed.

"Well ladies, you seem to be devoid of mud and all the other nasty substances you picked up in the woods today, but I still can't allow you back in the house just yet. You see all this excess water..."

She pointed to the ground at Cathy's feet, where large streams continued to trickle endlessly onto the already saturated gravel.

"...will just drip off you onto the carpets and make quite a mess. I'd hate to think that my servants would have to spend all day mopping up after you."

She walked the short distance from Cathy to Bethany, looking into their eyes as she approached within inches of each of their shivering forms. From the slight smile that never seemed to leave her face, it was clear that she was enjoying the torment she was putting them through.

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"So what I've decided to do, as it's such a glorious day, is allow you to stay out here and sunbathe until such time as you've dried off a bit. That'll be nice for you, won't it?"

She turned to where her faithful dogsbodies stood off to one side.

"I believe you know what to do girls."

As one, the trio moved forward and released the chains from the moorings on the wall. Seconds later, Cathy felt a sharp jerk in the region of her neck, and she was forcibly marched back towards the open ground at the rear of the house. As they departed the scene - Bethany being dragged along a few yards behind Cathy - Dolores could be heard conversing with Penelope, while Fang barked wildly once more.

"Come on Penny, let's go into the parlour and have a little aperitif before lunch. Then I can tell you all about the events of the past few days..."

The drenched spandex cat-suit felt heavy, clinging and extremely uncomfortable as Cathy was forcibly guided across the courtyard and along the wall of one wing of the house, which towered overhead and cast its shadow upon them. Taking a left turn at the end of the house, Cathy and Bethany found themselves back in bright sunlight and on a broad stretch of grass that ultimately led towards the front of the house. This wasn't their destination, however, as before them Cathy could see a stout wooden post, sticking vertically from the lawn and rising to probably around ten feet in height. At the apex of this pole was fixed a crossbar, also of wood, that made the structure into a 'T' shape. Hanging from the extremities of each horizontal arm was a length of rope, which made Cathy think of a gallows. And this thought caused her to baulk at being led closer to this grim edifice. She was given no chose in the matter, however, as her wrists remained shackled helplessly at her back, and her abilities to run away were stymied by chains at both her ankles and her neck. Bethany, it seemed, also sensed the dread that this hideous structure exuded, as the screams that squeezed from behind her multi-layered gag spoke of a mortal fear of what was about to ensue. As it turned out, however, they needn't have panicked over the fear of being strung up...at least not by their necks.

Having reached the timber scaffold, Dolores' three obedient subjects quickly set to work releasing the leg irons that both Cathy and Bethany had been shackled with all morning. With her ankle bracelets removed, Cathy was manoeuvred to a spot directly beneath one arm of the gibbet, whilst Bethany was relocated to the other. As if taking part in a synchronised performance, each prisoner's personal guard forced her unwilling charge into a sitting position on the grass, before grabbing her ankles and swiftly binding them together with rope. With this task soon accomplished, and safe in the knowledge that their detainees couldn't run away, the process of hanging the two frightened females up by their feet began, starting with Bethany. Cathy could only watch in powerless horror as her fellow internee had her bound ankles secured to the rope that hung down from directly above her. Then the winching process began, slowly and deliberately, until Bethany was almost upended with only her shoulders and head still in contact with ground. And soon even the luxury of this contact with terra firma was denied to her, as the hoisting action continued until she was swinging about three feet above the lush grass. Securing the rope firmly to the post, Bethany was left hanging once more, whilst the enthusiastic trio set about showing Cathy what it was like to view the world from a completely different perspective.

With her head soon swaying back and forth in the breeze, Cathy squealed as the pink- suited woman took hold of her hips and forcefully spun her around, leaving her to rotate out of control. And from the squeal that issued from the general direction in which Bethany was positioned, she deduced that a similar course of action had been instigated for her bondage buddy.

As the momentum of the gyration gradually diminished, Cathy watched her three tormentors turn away from the scene of their latest crime and walk away towards the house, until, within seconds, they had disappeared from sight. Cathy looked across at Bethany, who was also trying to stem her own revolving motion, and guessed that this was all that they had to look forward to for probably the next few hours. There was to be one further brief episode of human contact prior to their complete abandonment, however.

Only a minute or so after the latex-clad trio had retired, from somewhere close at hand, the sound of a window creaking open reached the two inverted captives' ears, and both twisted their bodies around to face the source of this disturbance. Standing at the now open downstairs casement, the head and upper part of Dolores' body could be seen, and she was calling out to her human laundry.

"Well ladies, my guess would be that it will take around four to five hours for you to dry off completely - assuming it doesn't rain, of course. Make the most of your stint in the sunshine, because all good things have to come to an end, and unfortunately it will then be back inside for another session of solitary confinement. So have fun while it lasts!"

The window slammed shut again, and the figure of the sadistic Mistress receded into the dark interior of the room.

Bethany had presumed that the nightmare of hanging upside down had come to a close with the release of the snare around her ankle. So to find herself once more dangling precariously with her feet way above her head was not something that she was particularly delighted about. There were two small blessings this time around, of course, namely that her leg wasn't trapped in the circulation-impeding wire, and that the limb from which she now found herself suspended was far sturdier than that unstable tree branch in the woods. But apart from these minor elements of good fortune, the prospect of being abandoned here for hours on end held little appeal.

The drying process proved to be a long, drawn out affair, with the spandex seemingly retaining the moisture that had permeated it far longer than Bethany would have hoped. At first, the breeze which seemed to have picked up in strength as the morning wore on, chilled her to the bone, and the dampness seemed to grip her entire being and refuse to release its icy talons. As time wore on, however, and the heat from the midday sun became stronger, she began to warm up to a more comfortable temperature. The spandex, too, seemed to dry at a quicker pace as the sun reached its zenith, and as the material lost its damp feel, it also seemed to shrink around her body and limbs, making what was a already a body hugging outfit into an even more constrictive second skin.

Bethany looked across at Cathy, who had been hanging in a state of immobility for the past hour or two now. As their eyes met, Bethany made a half-hearted attempt at releasing her wrists from the rigid handcuffs, as if to encourage Cathy to do likewise; just in case, by some miraculous occurrence, their manacles had somehow unlocked themselves. But all she heard was a soft squeaking sound coming from her unforgiving bracelets, which set her wondering about the effect the water would have on the release mechanism. Would the locks have rusted up by the time Dolores decided that a change in their method of bondage was called for? Her logical mind doubted that the process of corrosion would be that swift, but with all the other trials and tribulations that had befallen her since last night, she found that a pessimistic state of mind now had her in its grasp.

After what must have been more than five hours of swinging gently and helplessly in the breeze, with the afternoon sun now slowly descending over the woods, finally the two now reasonably dry damsels heard a noise from the direction of the building. It was the first sign of human presence since Dolores' shouted message from the window, and Cathy had been wondering whether they had simply been forgotten about. The image of Dolores strolling nonchalantly across the courtyard, accompanied by her fake policewoman friend and the snarling Fang, was observed from her now familiar upended stance, and as the two women approached she could hear that they were laughing and joking together. As the evil pair drew nearer, Penelope held back whilst Dolores approached to within inches of the spot where Cathy was suspended.

Placing her hands on her captive's calves, the Mistress ran her hands up her prisoner's legs, gently caressing her thighs, her abdomen, and finally her breasts before retracing this route in the opposite direction. Cathy shivered at first and tried to shy away from this unwanted attention. But slowly, as the fingers eased gently across the now moisture-free spandex, she began to find the sensation of human contact, after so long in a state of solitary limbo, a real comfort. And as Dolores' touch continued to stroke sensuously, she found the first spark of sexual arousal ignite in her loins, and seconds later she groaned into her layered gag as Dolores' hand inched between her legs and began rhythmically gliding back and forth. It took less than a minute for her orgasm to explode in her, and she found herself bucking and writhing in order to extract the maximum pleasure from this unexpected experience. Part of her rational brain cursed herself for allowing such a thing to happen whilst she was being otherwise so poorly treated. But her basic carnal instincts overrode her more logical self and allowed her to simply enjoy the moment. Soon however, with her work done, Dolores' teasing fingers ceased fondling the now severely hot and bothered young captive.

"Hmm, the washing seems just about dry I think, although there seems to be a moist patch forming between your legs darling. I wonder how that happened."

She winked and smiled at Cathy, then began sauntering over to Bethany; her long hair shining in the afternoon sun and blowing freely in the breeze as she made the short journey to the other strung up female. Cathy watched as her fellow captive was treated to a similar fingertip inspection of her tightly cat-suited body. And it wasn't long before it became obvious, from the moans that filtered through her gags, that Bethany, too, was undergoing very similar sensory delights to those that Cathy had just had the pleasure of experiencing.

Although having just stimulated sexual ecstasy in both her unwilling house guests, Dolores showed very little sign of emotion, and as soon as Bethany had reached her climax, she immediately turned to more practical matters. Having satisfied herself that the pair had dried off sufficiently, she began to release Bethany from her suspension. This took no more than a few seconds, before the still handcuffed and foot-bound captive found herself winched gently to the ground and momentarily left lying in a heap on the turf. And soon Cathy found herself enduring a similar fate, as she too was lowered unceremoniously down to land on her back. With both now safely earthbound, Dolores backed away to where Penelope had remained standing for the past few minutes, still trying to keep her canine companion under control.

"Well girls, I hope you've enjoyed your session out in the open today. Now it's almost time for your readmission to the house. But before we do that, there's someone here who's been straining at the leash since this morning to say hello to you."

She turned to the blonde woman in the police uniform.

"Time to let Fang get a bit better acquainted with Cathy and Bethany, don't you think Penny?"

Struck dumb with fear, Cathy could only watch as the bogus cop smiled and unhooked the leash from Fang's collar.

"Go on Fang. Kill!"

The dog needed no second invitation, and charged headlong towards the manacled pair. From her position only a few feet away, Cathy heard Bethany shriek with fright as the now unrestrained animal raced the few yards to where the two helplessly bound women squirmed in fright.

With their limbs fettered and useless to them, there seemed no way now that they could avoid being savagely mauled by a creature whose bloodthirsty fangs and sharp claws drew nearer by the second.

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Chapter 12 - The Training Room (added: 2017/05/20)

Cathy shut her eyes, curled up into as tight a ball as she could manage, took one last deep breath and prepared herself for the searing pain which she knew couldn't be more than a microsecond or two away. And sure enough, she felt something strike her left arm and resigned herself to the fact that the spandex cat-suit, which offered next to no protection, was about to be ripped into by either Fang's dagger-like teeth or his equally effective claws. She could hear and smell the dog's breath only inches from her head. But something didn't seem quite right here.

For instead of the growling, snarling cacophony that the fiendish beast had been making every time she'd had the misfortune to get within a few yards of him, there now came a whining, almost pathetic sound only an inch or two from her face, and no more than a second or so later, she felt something touch the hood in the vicinity of her forehead. But to her surprise, instead of the razor sharp teeth incising deeply into her skull, she experienced the sensation of something slithering over the drum-tight leather. The sensation on her sleeve also seemed to be of something gently nudging her.

Tentatively, Cathy opened her eyes and raised her head just enough to take in the view directly in front of her. To her amazement, in place of the anticipated bared teeth and raised hackles, she came face to face with a creature barely recognisable in temperament from the vicious beast of earlier. In place of the malicious hellhound that she'd encountered before, there now stood a tail wagging, affectionate family pet that thrust its snout as close as possible to her face and sniffed the leather head covering, before once again giving her cheek a lick with his saliva-lashed tongue. The pressure on her arm was now seen to be Fang's softly placed paw, as if in greeting, or maybe as an invitation to play. Cathy stared in relief and disbelief at the change that had come over the animal, as, having inspected this strangely motionless plaything, he began to lose interest and turned his attention to the other similar looking object only a few feet away.

Fang's tail smacked her left arm as he passed by, and seconds later Cathy watched as the now shining example of mans' best friend gave Bethany the same slobbering welcome as he had just meted out to her. But why the sudden change from seemingly crazed predator to playful pup?

"It seems that Fang has taken quite a shine to you both. It's a good job that his bark is worse than his bite!"

Unnoticed by Cathy, Dolores had sauntered over to within a foot or so of where she sat. Towering over her prisoners, she gazed down and smiled smugly.

"You see, Penny has taught Fang to react to various command words, and "kill" is just one of them. The trouble is, he's not that good with understanding the English language. To him, "kill" is a trigger word that he associates with being friendly and playful. As soon as anyone utters it, he becomes a happy, docile doggy who's willing to let you tickle his tummy. At the moment, he's probably wondering why you're not getting up and running around with him, making a fuss of him and throwing sticks for him to retrieve. Because he's been let off the leash, he can't understand why you haven't been too. Of course, unfortunately for him - and for you - that's not going to happen I'm afraid."

Fang had now stopped licking Bethany's face and was standing a few feet away, looking back at the two shackled maidens, as if imploring them to come and have some fun frolicking about on the lawn.

Dolores bent down and commenced untying Cathy's ankles. Taking hold of the chain that still hung from her collar, to ensure she didn't attempt to run away, she then moved across to where Bethany sat and proceeded to release her legs also. With both her captives now capable of standing, she pulled them to their feet.

Fang had by now become bored of waiting for his would-be playmates to get up and follow him, and had stalked off to sniff around the hedges and flower beds. However, a whistle and call from Penelope soon had him rushing back to his mistress, where the leash was once more secured to his collar.

"Well, I'll be off now Dolores. Thanks very much for lunch. It was great to see you again, and such a delight chasing your latest recruits through the woods. I haven't had such fun since the time that you were putting Electra, Sapphire and Crystal through their initial training routine. I'm sure Fang had a wonderful time too."

As if to add his confirmation of this, Fang barked and wagged his tail vigorously. As the woman in the police outfit sauntered away towards the front of the house, Dolores called after her.

"Bye Penny. We should do this sort of thing more often."

Electra, Sapphire and Crystal?

Cathy had already heard Dolores refer to her pink-suited minion as Electra, so it didn't take a great leap of logic to deduce that Sapphire and Crystal must be the names of her other two zombie-like slaves. But what had Penelope meant about their 'initial training routine'? Had they at one time been put through something similar to the events of today? Had they, in fact, been kidnapped by Dolores at some time in the past and held against their wills, until such time as they had been conditioned to accept their lot and willingly remain here to wait on Dolores hand and foot? And if this was indeed how their presence here could be explained, how had this indoctrination been achieved?

As she and Bethany were dragged by their leashes back into the dark passageways of Shackleton Grange, Cathy pondered upon these questions, but could come up with no definitive answers. And another conundrum that suddenly occurred to her now, as she and Bethany were led up the main flight of stairs to the first floor, was where, exactly, were those three subservient women right now? As Dolores had earlier asked rhetorically, why get your hands dirty when you have servants to do the menial tasks for you? Yet now, as they traipsed down yet another featureless, ill-lit corridor, it seemed that Dolores was - temporarily at least - on her own in handling her two less than satisfied house guests.

After a few minutes, Dolores and her two manacled prisoners arrived at their destination; another nondescript door with no hint of what could be lying in wait on the other side.

Having unlocked the door, Dolores yanked the chains hard to encourage Bethany and Cathy to follow her into the room beyond. Initially in complete darkness, the dim light from the corridor revealed that there was a window away to the left, although this was obscured by drawn blackout curtains. The switching on of the light, however, revealed a room devoid of furnishings save for two upright, high-backed chairs. Over the backs of both, Cathy could see that black leather items of clothing had been neatly laid out. And from the straps that hung from strategic points on these garments, she instantly recognised them as straitjackets similar to the one she'd been forced into wearing on her first night of captivity; only a few days in the past, yet now seeming like a lifetime ago.

"It must become quite tiresome, having your wrists bound or handcuffed behind your back the whole time. So, as a sort of reward for being such good sports in our games today, I've decided that you need a little variety in your bondage. These straitjackets, as I'm sure Cathy will attest, are basically snug and comfortable, yet inescapable."

As she spoke, Dolores pushed Cathy into one corner of the room, before setting to work releasing Bethany from her current manacled state and rigging her out in the restrictive apparel. Of course, as always, Dolores made certain that her captive had no means of escape during the tricky interim period where she would be free of her bonds for a short while, by removing her leather hood prior to unlocking the cuffs and replacing it with the more sensory depriving one without eye slits. For a brief moment during the change of headgear, Bethany's long blonde hair cascaded down - like a dammed stream that had suddenly burst its banks - before Dolores neatly pulled the straggled mass back into a ponytail and applied the replacement hood. Cathy watched from only feet away as Bethany's face momentarily appeared; the grey duct tape still firmly pressed to the pale skin of her cheeks and mouth despite the rigours of the day's events. Locking this all-covering sight inhibitor in place at the neck with a small but sturdy padlock, Dolores could then begin to release the shackles from the wrists of the now eyeless female, safe in the knowledge that the hood couldn't be removed by force alone.

Cathy shifted uneasily from foot to foot as she watched the slow process of her fellow inmate being suited up in the black leather contraption and the straps wrapped brutally tightly around her. As this was taking place, Dolores began to explain the reasons for having put her two kidnap victims through this morning's harrowing chase through the woods.

"I expect you're wondering exactly why we inflicted that ordeal on you today, aren't you? After all, if I really had simply wanted to give you some fresh air and exercise, then I could have just had you walked around the quadrant a couple of times."

She looked at Cathy, that devilish smile engraved on her face.

"Well the answer, my dears, is a simple one ...Boredom."

She buckled the crotch strap on Bethany's straitjacket with such cruel force that the hooded woman squealed into her gags.

"You see, Tuesdays are always a bit of a slow day really, as there's no bondage class tonight, and my staff are all involved in their 'Weekly Training and Reprogramming Session' all afternoon and evening. So what's a girl to do, but amuse herself any way she can? And that's why I called my old friend Penelope over; so that we could watch you panic in the face of your perceived death at the hands of her wonderful pet pooch."

Bethany's jacket was now strapped and buckled to Dolores' satisfaction it appeared, and she eased the once again helpless woman down onto one of the chairs, before removing the claustrophobic headwear.

"So 'The Hunt' as we call it, was purely and simply a way for me to pass the time of day. Wasn't it kind of me to include you in my leisure plans?"

She laughed coldly, whilst pulling the now loosened hood from Bethany's head; allowing her hair to once more fall about her shoulders. Moving close to her victim's still blinking eyes, Dolores' smirk metamorphosized slowly into a broad yet humourless smile.

"Sadistic bitch, aren't I"

Although both captives had been thinking along similar lines, neither gave any indication that they were in agreement with Dolores' self analysis, for fear of retribution.

Such was Dolores' expertise with all things rope related, that tying Bethany's legs together at the knees and ankles was something she could have done with her eyes closed, and the process took no more than a minute to complete. With Bethany no longer in a position to flee the scene, the Mistress turned her attention to her second prisoner.

All the while that Dolores had been modifying Bethany's restraints, Cathy had kept one eye on the door that led back into the corridor. For some reason, Dolores hadn't closed this after they'd entered the room. This seemed totally out of character for the usually security minded Mistress, and Cathy found herself wondering if this had been done to try to entice her to make an escape bid that was almost certain to fail - in order to hand out further punishment - or whether this really was a lapse in concentration. But knowing that any attempt to reach this exit was doomed to end in failure, Cathy had resisted the urge to try to slip away without her tormentor-in-chief noticing.

Having gone through the process of having the sight restricting leather hood pulled over her head and securely locked, her arms had been released from their shackles for only a few seconds, during which time Cathy rubbed her tender wrists and winced at the pain that even this gentle action produced. Almost immediately, however, she found her arms being inserted into the sleeves of the straitjacket, and seconds later her fingers encountered cul-de-sacs of soft yet unyielding leather. For a minute or more, her arms were allowed to hang freely at her sides, as she felt the straps being tightened to their ultimate limits and the buckles being secured in at least four different locations along the length of her spine. Then her arms were forcibly threaded through the unbreakable strap situated on the jacket's front, before being pulled with force across her chest. Immediately the straps that hung from the fingertip end of the sleeves were pulled mercilessly tightly behind her, and buckled in place, ensuring that her arms remained immobilised until further notice. The strap at her neck almost choked her as Dolores forced it that extra fraction of an inch to cut into her throat. Then the crotch strap was pulled harshly through her legs from back to front and reunited with its counterpart on her stomach. Double checking that all the straps were as constrictive as possible - and further tightening any that weren't up to standard - Dolores was finally satisfied that her second convict was now in no position to disrobe herself from her new outfit, however much she contorted her arms and body. Thus reassured, Dolores unlocked the padlock at Cathy's neck and eased the hood upwards until it cleared the top of her head.

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The return of Cathy's vision showed her that Bethany still sat motionlessly on the chair by the window. Motionless, that is, apart from her eyes, which were wide and expressive, as if eager to convey a message to her cellmate. And that message, as Bethany's eyes beckoned towards the door, then back to Cathy, seemed to suggest that she was of the opinion that Cathy should be thinking of making her move in the direction of the exit. But how could this be achieved with Dolores lavishing her full attention on her at that moment? And in a minute or two it would be impossible, as Cathy found herself being manoeuvred towards the second chair, where Dolores was soon going to bind her legs with the two lengths of rope she carried in her right hand. Suddenly, however, the meaning of Bethany's furtive gestures became clear to her.

As Cathy was being urged to take her place in the unoccupied chair, she noticed Bethany's bound body lunge forward and land with a heavy thud on the uncarpeted floorboards. Dolores, who had her back to the plummeting woman at that moment, turned with a start and released her grip on Cathy's shoulder. In a split second, Cathy figured out that this fall from the chair was no accident. Nor was it a sign that Bethany had fainted or in any way been suddenly taken ill. This was, in fact, what her fellow detainee had been alluding to with her eye contact. It was a diversion tactic to allow Cathy to make her escape. But how far would she get in her restrained state? Not far seemed to be the obvious answer, and for a millisecond Cathy got cold feet and thought better of making a move. But then the adrenalin kicked in and she remembered that she'd vowed to herself that she had to take whatever opportunity she could to extricate herself from this ongoing nightmare, whenever it presented itself.

And that time had just arrived. With Dolores now preoccupied with her fallen prisoner, Cathy lifted herself from the chair as stealthily as she could and tiptoed gingerly towards the door, only five feet or so away. She should have known by now, however, that no piece of timber within the ancient structure of Shackleton Grange could have any pressure applied to it without some form of squeak, creak or other telltale sound emanating from it, and the first board that she put her weight down on was no exception to this rule. Immediately, Dolores turned from her crouched position over the prone and seemingly unconscious figure on the floor. However, as she stood in preparation to halt Cathy's escape bid, Bethany sprung into action. Swinging her bound legs upwards at the precise moment that Dolores was halfway to her feet, her aim was perfect, and her soles slammed like a battering ram with as much force as she could muster into her opponent's abdomen.

With a low groan of pain, Dolores fell forward, doubled up in agony and seemingly winded. Cathy glanced quickly at the fallen Mistress, then darted for the door, a muffled note of encouragement from Bethany's gagged mouth ringing in her ears as she started down the permanently twilit corridor in the direction from which they'd approached only minutes earlier.

Halting momentarily by the stairwell, Cathy stole a peek over her shoulder, dreading the sight of Dolores bearing down on her only yards away. But the corridor was empty. Bethany must have done more to temporarily incapacitate Dolores than she'd at first realised.

Taking the marble stairs one at a time, Cathy descended as swiftly as she dared; her anxiety to get as far away from Dolores as possible offset by her inability to grasp the handrail. At her side, the portraits of the women in their varying states of bondage seemed to glare at her disapprovingly, as if not comprehending her need to get out of a situation which they found so intriguing and delightful.

Reaching the bottom without incident, Cathy stopped for a few seconds, unsure of which direction to take. Should she aim for the front door, only a few yards away? She soon discarded this option, as she was certain that it would be impossible to open in her straitjacketed state. Maybe she should look for another less obvious exit? Or perhaps - the idea suddenly came to her - she could find a telephone and somehow manage to dial 999. But where was the nearest phone located in this house? In all her time being dragged from room to room, she couldn't ever remember seeing any evidence of such a thing anywhere.

A sudden noise from overhead diverted her attention away from such matters and made her concentrate all her efforts for the time being into avoiding recapture. The sound was of heavy running footsteps, and they appeared to be getting louder. And then she heard the voice, and a chill ran up her spine. Undeniably that of Dolores, the tone was one of extreme anger and the words were shrieked at high volume - whether due to rage or pain, she couldn't tell - and obviously intended for her benefit.


Blindly, Cathy began running along a corridor that took her past numerous closed doors; pulling and tugging on her trapped arms as she went, in the hope that she might somehow have developed Houdini-like powers all of a sudden. Success on this front eluded her, however.

Luckily, the three servants seemed to have vanished. What was it Dolores had said? Something about them being on a 'Weekly Training and Reprogramming Session', whatever that might be. And quite frankly, Cathy didn't care what it was, provided that it meant there were three less people around to stifle her bid for freedom. But what was she to do now? Regardless of the fact that Dolores seemed to be her only adversary at the moment, this would count for nothing if she failed to either get out of the house or found some way to contact the outside world. For now, she decided that making sure Dolores didn't catch her would have to be her primary goal. What happened after that, she would have to simply play by ear.

After a few yards, Cathy spied what she was looking for. Unlike the other wooden doors in this seemingly endless passageway, one a few yards along on the left seemed to have been left ajar, and through the narrow opening, Cathy could make out some sort of subdued flickering light emanating from within. The exact nature of this random wavering illumination - one moment bright, the next dull, and forever changing in contrast and hue - was a mystery to her at that moment. But her need to find a hiding place and therefore buy more time to figure out a plan of campaign, meant that she was drawn towards this strange glow like a moth to a flame.

The aperture between door and frame turned out to be only three inches or so wide, once Cathy reached it. However, inserting her foot into the gap allowed her to slowly push on the wooden panel, until it had opened sufficiently to allow her to squeeze through. Once inside, Cathy's first priority was to reduce this opening back to the state she'd found it. This of course caused the obligatory creaking sound, which made Cathy freeze in fear and listen for the sound of approaching footsteps. Tentatively, she peeped out of the slim gap, dreading the sound of approaching heels. But after a few seconds, when silence still prevailed in the corridor, she breathed a sigh of relief into her gag. For the time being, she seemed to have thrown Dolores off the trail.

But where was she exactly? As she surveyed the scene in the passageway outside, the room's light source still seemed to be flickering behind her, and now a very faint, almost inaudible murmuring sound reached Cathy's ears, as if in aural accompaniment to the visual display. It sounded as if someone was whispering from far away, in indistinct and therefore indecipherably low tones.

Turning to face the room's interior, Cathy encountered a strange twilight world. With no windows in evidence, and no central overhead source of light to alleviate the gloom, it became obvious now that the irregularly flashing lights that had first drawn her here were actually given off by three large television screens, set in a line along one wall of the otherwise darkened chamber. In front of these, and partially blocking them, Cathy could see three high-backed metal chairs that stood facing the screens at a distance of approximately ten feet. To one side of the room was a table - the only other item of furniture visible - and on this could be seen several bottles of what looked like pills or medication. The faint noise was still in evidence, and this babbling, unintelligible sound appeared to have its genesis in the general direction of the three chairs.

From her position, Cathy could only view the rear of these, and the poor lighting conditions, coupled with the high backs, precluded her from telling whether these seats were occupied, although from the fact that the televisions were active, she figured that they most probably were. Hesitantly, she moved forwards.

As she approached, the moving pictures on the screens came into view, and the images portrayed stopped Cathy in her tracks, although from her time here she should perhaps have had some inkling of what was being aired. For there, on the large HD monitors, with the same silent scenario being re-enacted on all three screens, was the image of a woman who had been bound so tightly and securely that escape was obviously never within her powers. This unidentified woman - gagged, hooded and wearing skin-tight shiny clothing of some description - appeared to be struggling and writhing against the bonds that refused to release their grasp on her limbs and body.All this thrashing and bucking around, however, was not, on closer inspection, meant to evoke a desperate fight for freedom. On the contrary, when viewed for only a few seconds, it was obvious that the star of this show was in actual fact completely at ease with the state she found herself in. In fact, as Cathy gazed at the images before her, it became clear that she was enjoying herself, and what had first appeared to be a battle to break free, was actually a performance designed to enhance the pleasure she could generate from the tight crotch rope, which her struggling movements were intended to heighten.

Momentarily transfixed by the moving images before her, Cathy watched as the woman appeared to writhe in ecstasy as she masturbated for the camera, finally relaxing and allowing her body to go limp on the bed on which this whole scenario was being played out; luxuriating in the memory of her recent exertions. Suddenly the scene changed, and another woman appeared on screen, hogtied and squirming around on the floor of what appeared to be a cellar or basement room. With her long brown hair braided into a pigtail, then tied and knotted to the cord at her ankles, she too was struggling against the stringent cords that bit deeply into her flesh and held her severely bowed body in a posture which allowed no respite from the tension of the bindings that pulled her head backwards, with her hands and feet forced to remain in close proximity to each other. As with her predecessor, however, she also gave the impression that everything was rosy in her world, and her sparkling eyes suggested that she too would soon be enjoying a wonderfully intense orgasm.

Although both horrified and intrigued by this compelling performance, after a minute or two Cathy managed to avert her eyes from the screens and shake herself free from the state of shock that had fleetingly threatened to overwhelm her. She must keep her focus, she sternly lectured herself, and not get distracted by the images that relentlessly attempted to entrap her in their web. Tentatively, Cathy stepped towards the nearest of the chairs, in order to confirm exactly who it was that this display of bondage propaganda was being aimed at.

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Three chairs, three servants; it didn't take a mathematical genius to work out exactly who the likely residents of these seats might be. Even so, as she peered around the back of the chair, Cathy gasped, as her eyes fell on the motionless figure of Dolores' silver-suited slave.

The woman was sitting upright on the metal seat, her arms on the rests that jutted out in front of her on either side, her calves tight against the front legs of the chair. In the dim light, it took Cathy a second or two to work out that this unnaturally formal posture was not one that the woman would necessarily have chosen to relax in, but was instead of an enforced nature due to the bonds that held her in place. With wide leather straps secured and buckled tightly around her ankles and the lower reaches of the chair's legs, Cathy could now see that this item of furniture was in fact riveted to the floor and therefore immovable from the spot. Just below her knees, similar straps had also been applied, to further ensure that her legs and those of the chair would remain inseparable. More strapping had also been fixed around her thighs, welding them to the seat, whilst others wound their way around her waist, just below and just above her breasts, and across her shoulders, to guarantee that her torso and the back of the chair stayed conjoined as one entity. And as would be expected, this unfortunate female's upper limbs hadn't escaped the attention of the ever thorough Dolores, as they also exhibited the results of the strapping process, with leather ligatures stringently fastened around her arms in several places. Her head and neck, too, had succumbed to the immobilising procedure, with a collar around her neck tethering her to the chair's back, whilst a strap around her hooded forehead also connected her skull to the metal structure; the purpose of which seemed to be to prohibit movement of the head to either left or right. From a point on either side of her head, stiff flaps of leather two or three inches square, protruded from this strap, acting as sight excluding appendages or blinkers. In other words, she had no way of averting her gaze from directly in front of her, where the screen in her line of vision continued to broadcast its message of bondage induced bliss. Over the spot where her ears were hidden by the leather hood, what looked like ear protectors - as worn by workmen on building sites - had been fitted; presumably to keep the woman in a world of silence.

All this would have made Cathy's jaw drop, if her gag didn't preclude such a thing. But what really shocked her was the glazed look in the eyes that peered out from the familiar facial covering of this poor creature. For instead of alert, intelligent visual organs, Cathy could see that this woman's were dull, glazed over and heavily lidded, as if on the verge of sleep...or maybe drugged! In fact, the woman seemed to have no perception of the figure now watching her from only a couple of feet away. If her hands had been available to her, Cathy would have shaken the woman, to try to bring her out of the trance that she seemed to be experiencing. But with her arms held in a secure wrap around her body, all she could do was nudge the chair arm, in the hope that this would break the spell. This failed to elicit even a blink of the eyes from the catatonic female, however, who continued to gaze ahead at the still struggling bound beauty on the plasma screen.

Having failed to get any sort of response from the silver-suited member of Dolores' team, Cathy looked down the line of identical chairs, and as expected, she saw that these were occupied by the other two servants who had been vital in the Mistress' plans to keep her in such misery for the past few days; the black-clad redhead furthest away from where she stood, the blonde in the pink outfit in between her two colleagues. All had been lashed to their respective seats in similar fashion, and all seemed oblivious to Cathy's presence in the room. Each was glued to the flashing images on the screen directly in front of her.

Cathy found her mind working overtime trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. She quickly deduced that this was all some kind of brainwashing exercise, and for the first time she began to understand why this triumvirate were always so submissive and subservient. A quick glance at the bottles of pills on the side table convinced her that they had been drugged prior to being strapped to the chairs, as it presumably made the indoctrination process far easier if their minds were numbed by chemical substances. Now Dolores' talk of a 'Weekly Training and Reprogramming Session' all began to fit into place; they obviously needed this 'top up' course to keep them from reverting to their former, free-willed, selves.

But that still left the strange murmuring noises. Cathy had spent the last few minutes so engrossed in the visual aspects of her discovery, that this droning hum had temporarily been relegated to the periphery of her thoughts. But it was still there, constantly burbling away in the background. And now that she focussed her attention once more on this odd disturbance of the otherwise silent room, she realised that it emanated from somewhere close to the head of the nearest of the trio of almost comatose females. Then it suddenly hit her. What she'd thought were ear protectors to block sound, were in fact headphones which were transmitting messages into the hapless women's brains to complement the video experience.

Cathy would have loved to have been able to rip these listening devices off the silver-suited figure's head and find out exactly what was being transmitted into her dulled and therefore gullible brain, but the straitjacket made this unfeasible. All she could do was place her ear as close to the woman's head as possible, in order to try to make sense of the whispered monologue.

It took a few seconds for her hearing to adjust to the low volume of the burbling sound that seeped from the tightly fitting padded headphones, but once she had become attuned to the soft tones, she could clearly make out the unmistakable voice of Dolores conveying her manipulative communiqué to the zombie-like slave girls. Much of the actual wordage was too indistinct to make out, but every so often, a word or phrase would register loud and clear. "The restraint of prisoners must be maintained at all times" was one of the longer sentences that she deciphered. "Bondage is a natural state of being" was another. "Eternal bondage", "Bondage is good for you", "Ropes must always be tight and secure", "The Mistress must be obeyed at all times"; these were some of the random passages that Cathy began to grasp as she became familiar with the low volume subliminal address. And after a few minutes, she heard a repeat of one of the earlier soundbites, which inferred that the message was on a loop; playing the same thing over and over again in repetitive monotony, in order to drill Dolores' ideology into the deep subconscious minds of her programmed attendants.

It was becoming obvious to Cathy that the only way to reverse this mind control regime that Dolores was reigning over, was to in some way bring the helplessly befuddled trio out of their stupors and bring them back to the reality of the situation; namely that what Dolores was doing was manipulative and evil, and needed to be brought to an end. But without her hands to release the three strapped and enslaved females, she had no way of attaining this goal. Nor did she have the means to relieve them of the headphones in the hope that this would break the spell, as her best efforts to lean over and knock the ear pieces away from the woman's face with her shoulder proved impossible; the headset seemingly immovably strapped to her head. Would she have any better luck with the other two servants?

Cathy passed in front of the silver-suited figure and made her way over towards the woman in pink, who appeared to have no more comprehension of the world around her than her colleague. As she did so, however, she glanced at the spellbound female she had just left, and noticed that, as she crossed in front of the screen, the momentary obscuring of the visual stimuli caused the woman's eyes to frown fleetingly, as if she wasn't quite sure why her viewing pleasure had been interrupted. So that must be the key to bringing them out of their dreamlike states. Cut off the visual source and you could, maybe, at least hinder the intake of this hateful propaganda for a time. Cathy decided to experiment with this train of thought. Standing directly in the line of sight between the silver clad woman and her monitor, Cathy waited to see if she noticed a change in the demeanour of the drugged and stupefied captive.

For a second or two, nothing much happened. But then, she noticed the fingers on each of the woman's hands - until now held lifelessly limp - began to twitch and stretch. And this corresponded with a movement of the hooded figures eyes; no longer fixed straight ahead, but now gazing around, her pupils flicking from side to side and up and down, as if trying to work out where she was and how she got here. Still groggy, she began to flex her muscles, but of course found herself hopelessly restrained by the brutally efficient strapping. So it was working! Cathy knew that after months - or possibly years - of weekly sessions like this, she was hardly going to turn this woman against her boss in such a short space of time. But if she could maybe plant the seed of revolution in this clearly confused and unwilling conscript, then at least that would be a starting point. And why attempt to turn just one of these slaves against their Mistress, when all three could maybe be persuaded to mutiny en masse?

With her ambitions growing by the second, and her mind working so fast that she was getting ahead of herself with this grand scheme of how to topple Mistress Dolores' evil empire, Cathy failed to recognise the signs - from the slow creak of a door close at hand - that there was now a fifth person in the room. Her first inkling that this was the case, therefore, was when Dolores' angry tones cut through the dull monotonous drone of her own voice through the headphones.

"Just what do you think you're doing in here?”

Chapter 13 - And so to Sleep (added: 2017/06/17)

Cathy looked across to the doorway and her heart sank. Time seemed to freeze. If fear had been a marketable commodity, she could have made a fortune in the interminable seconds that followed.

For blocking the only exit was the last person in the world that Cathy would have been hoping to see at that moment. Dolores was standing in a slightly more stooped posture than her usual upright stance, and her left hand was held against her stomach. As she moved further into the room, Cathy noticed her wince with pain, and realised that this had to be a consequence of Bethany's delaying tactics. Her hair, previously immaculately styled, was now tangled and dishevelled, and her face was red; although whether the latter was due to rage or pain it was hard to gauge. Probably a mixture of both, Cathy decided.

However, despite her anger/anguish, when she again broke the silence, Dolores' words were considered and calm, and spoke of a confidence that, even though she had momentarily been outsmarted, she was still in control of the situation and could bide her time before unleashing her wrath in as sadistic a manner as she saw fit. In other words, her plans for what she could - and would - do to punish her two errant prisoners were only just being formulated, and she knew that she could maximise the fear factor and build up the tension until she had decided exactly how they were to suffer for their crimes. Despite the obvious pain, she managed that mirthless smile which Cathy had come to detest.

"So Cathy, I can't quite work out whether you and that other creature planned this little stunt in advance, or whether it was a spur of the moment, opportunist bid to escape. Full marks for effort, I'll concede that much to you."

She walked around the chair on which her silver-suited slave sat in oblivious bondage, her boot heels echoing on the hard floor. A quick glance at the drugged female showed that her eyes had once again glazed over, and her focus had returned to the struggling images on the screen and the subliminal messages saturating her currently dysfunctional brain, rather than the drama about to take place in real life only inches away from her.

"Either way, the pair of you will be paying a high price for your sins, as I'm sure you've already gathered."

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Cathy found herself backing away from the advancing Mistress, until she had reversed into a corner, with nowhere else to go. Dolores came to within a foot or so of her cowering captive and stopped.

"But first I think we'll have to increase your sentence substantially. What do you think Cathy? Physical assault must be worth at least another year on your stay here, wouldn't you agree?"

Cathy trembled as Dolores leant in close to her face to deliver this message, and she found herself shaking her head and trying to tell the looming presence before her that it wasn't her that had delivered the blow that was clearly still causing such discomfort. And despite the muffling qualities that her gag engendered, Dolores seemed to catch the drift of her attempt at shifting the blame.

"Oh, I realise that it wasn't you who actually kicked me darling, but you could have stayed and shown a bit more concern. After all, I'm the one who controls and regulates every aspect of your existence at the moment, so I would have thought that the very least you could do was display a bit of respect and sympathy. Running away like that was rude and discourteous, I feel. And then, to add insult to injury, you invade the Training Room and try to interfere with my girls' weekly programming update. Now that definitely is way out of order."

The flickering screens cast a strange, ever shifting shadow across Dolores' face as she spoke, making her skin appear grey and ghost-like. This was offset, however, by her bright red lipstick and dark luminous eyes, which reflected and sparkled in the constantly changing illumination. She turned briefly and looked back at her three strapped and motionless servants.

"As I'm sure you've sussed out by now, Crystal, Sapphire and Electra aren't exactly here of their own freewill. But over the course of time, they've learnt to accept that the life they now lead at Shackleton Grange is their true destiny, which can't be altered. So long as they get their weekly reminder of how wonderful bondage is - both from a giving and receiving perspective - none of them would ever dream of trying to leave or disobey me."

She pointed to the silver clothed figure, whose attention was directed solely at the screen in front of her, on which a female covered from head to toe in latex was doing battle against handcuffs, chains and leather straps that held her in a tight ball-tie.

"As a matter of fact, Sapphire here has been with me for almost four years now...and loves every minute of it."

Dolores reached out with her right arm, her left still pressed against the place where Bethany's well placed kick had done its damage. She grabbed Cathy's leather sheathed elbow and began to pull her away from the wall.

"Anyway, I haven't got all day to stand here explaining things that you weren't supposed to have stumbled on in the first place. In fact, I've probably told you too much already."

It was at this point, from somewhere deep within her, that Cathy found the strength and courage to fight back against whatever Dolores' devious mind had planned for her. She knew that the Mistress wasn't at her best at present, as was attested to by the constant wincing every time she moved her body. She also knew, from the view she had of the room in which they now stood, that Dolores' entire workforce were incapacitated and unable to come to their commander's aid at the moment. As Dolores had her cornered and trapped in the straitjacket, Cathy guessed that her captor would be expecting complete compliance from her right now, and realised that she might never again have that element of surprise on her side.

As Dolores forcibly yanked on the leather sleeve, Cathy took a leaf out of Bethany's book, and in an instant had raised her right leg as high as she could and smashed a karate style kick into the same area of Dolores' anatomy as her fellow prisoner had done only a few minutes ago. Despite never having had any formal martial arts training, Cathy's aim was true, and she watched in a state of disbelief as Dolores once more crumpled to the floor; a howl of distress and shock filling the air for the second or two that it seemed to take as the Mistress staggered briefly then slumped to the floor.

As Dolores collapsed in front of her, Cathy sprung forward and hurdled over the now crumpled woman whose frame blocked her passage to the exit. Her leap over the still groaning Mistress was accomplished with adrenalin fuelled vigour that she summoned from deep within her, and she landed on her shoeless feet without incident. The door beckoned invitingly only a few feet away, and her mind was already anticipating what she would do once she had made the corridor beyond. Should she try to shut the door after her, in order to hinder Dolores when she finally recovered sufficiently to follow? Or simply flee as fast as was humanly possible? This decision, however, soon became academic.

Cathy landed with her left foot, before thrusting her right out to take the next step towards her intended goal. So far so good, but it was the next movement of her left leg that proved to be her undoing. For although temporarily incapable of standing due to the kick to her lower torso, Dolores was still alert to Cathy's plan to make for the only way out. Reaching out her hand, she grabbed Cathy's left ankle just as it pushed off from the floor. Cathy felt the pressure around the narrowest part of her leg just as she achieved the necessary leverage to propel herself forward, and knew instantly that it was Dolores' long nailed fingers that had once more entrapped her. However, having already left the ground, albeit only by a fraction of an inch, she found herself unable to steady herself in mid-air, and immediately felt her body tumbling headlong towards the ground. Under normal circumstances, she would have simply thrown her hands out to cushion her fall. But with the tight leather sleeves of the restraining bondage jacket keeping her arms tight to her body, she had no way to prevent herself from plummeting uncontrollably towards the concrete floor.

Time seemed to slow to the point where it almost stopped, with Cathy watching impotently as the ground appeared to rise up to meet her. The instinctive reaction of trying to prevent injury still took its course, but the straps that held her arms close to her chest refused to allow her this luxury, and she strained in vain at the uncompromising leather, as she sought to stretch out her encumbered hands to cover her face. As this slow motion event was evolving, the attempted raising of her constricted limbs jerked the straitjacket upwards as far as the securing straps would allow, which resulted in the broad band of leather between her legs being thrust suddenly up into her crotch. Even as she plunged earthwards, and although her brain was already trying to come to terms with imminent pain, the sensation of this particular restraint being pulled deeply into her, acted as a reminder of how strategically placed bonds in this area of her anatomy could cause such a feelgood factor, even under stressful circumstances such as those currently imposed upon her.

But that was almost the last thing she remembered, prior to her head coming into high velocity contact with the floor. A split second prior to this, however, her left shoulder clipped the small table that held the bottles of pills and sedatives. As a searing pain shot through her forehead, she heard the sound of glass shattering and tablets bouncing and scattering across the floor all around her. From somewhere close at hand, what sounded like a disembodied, muffled shriek reached her ears, although she knew that in reality this strange noise had emanated from her own gagged mouth.

Then vision, sound and pain all faded into a blissful nothingness.

Bethany had known as soon as she had committed her crime that she was in for a torrid time of things in the near future. She just had to hope that Cathy had managed to achieve what seemed like an almost impossible task and either escaped or successfully raised the alarm as to their shared plight. She felt a sense of elation at the way she'd helped Cathy evade Dolores, but apprehension as to how she would pay for this altruistic act.

This period of triumph and trepidation lasted for what seemed like minutes, but was in reality no more than thirty seconds, whilst Dolores sat doubled up on the floor only a yard or two away from her own prostrate form. Her faced was screwed up with pain, and Bethany took a strange delight from the notion that finally Dolores was the one on the receiving end, and that she had been the one able to inflict this retribution.

Dolores slowly and gingerly pulled herself to her feet, grimacing and holding her stomach as she did so. Picking up a reel of duct tape from the array of bondage equipment that seemed to be readily available in almost every room of the mansion house, she quickly tore off a length of around six inches, using her teeth to make the necessary incision through the tough material. Bending down, her facial features once again betraying the fact that any movement of her torso was causing her a fair amount of grief, she unceremoniously slapped the strip of adhesive over her captive's eyes and began smoothing it down with her fingers. Caught unawares by this, Bethany didn't have a chance to close her eyes, and shrieked in surprise as her vision was blocked out. Through the dark barrier, she could feel Dolores' hands pressing the makeshift blindfold down onto her forehead, the bridge of her nose and onto her eyelids. Once the pressure of this smoothing action had subsided, and Bethany attempted to close her eyes, she found this impossible, as the tacky inner surface of the tape had welded to her skin, and she realised that she would have no option but to remain wide-eyed but paradoxically sightlessly until someone came along and peeled the strongly bonding fabric away from her flesh.

"I'll deal with you later."

This was Dolores' only comment - spat out in fury - as she left the room; slamming the door behind her as she went, and leaving Bethany to ponder and brood on what form of torture she would face later on.

Having never worn a straitjacket before in her life - although she had always entertained a yearning to do so, at least until her captivity at Shackleton Grange had begun - Bethany's expectations of being able to twist and wriggle out of the tightly strapped and buckled restraining outfit were soon shown to be unrealistic. The tightly restricting collar prevented her contorting her shoulders into a position from which they could be slipped free, and the strap across her chest ensured that lifting her arms away from her body was never on the cards. And the strap between her legs thwarted her attempts to force the whole jacket to ride up so that it could be discarded over the top of her head. And it wasn't just the leather contrivance lashed around her torso that frustrated her attempts at fleeing the scene of her crime. With the ropes at her ankles and knees refusing to budge, no matter how much she pulled and strained to part her legs, plus the loss of her vision behind the efficient and immovable sight excluder, Bethany knew that she had not a chance in hell of escaping. Even in her blindness, she had a fairly good idea in which direction the exit lay, but how would she reach the handle, open the door, then make her way along the corridor and find a viable escape route without her sight? Her one hope was that Cathy would evade Dolores long enough to find a way out and alert someone in the world beyond to the fact that Shackleton Grange was being used as a detention centre for a pair of unwillingly held young females.

After hearing Dolores shriek her threatening message to the fleeing Cathy from the corridor, and listening as the staccato clicks of the Mistress' boot heels gradually faded away, silence finally descended over the ancient house. For several minutes Bethany battled on valiantly against the sleeves, straps and buckles that enshrouded her within their leather folds. But to no avail. Finally, exhausted from her endeavours, she reluctantly gave up and listened; waiting in her helplessness as the stark emptiness of the house seemed to close in and clamp its musty embrace upon her, causing a mood of deep despondency to set in.

The creak of a floorboard, the drip of water, - presumably from the gutter beyond the blacked out window - the distant haunting cry of a seagull; these were just some of the occasional sounds that reached Bethany's keenly alert ears and broke the otherwise still and sullen atmosphere for a brief second or two. At one point, a jet plane could be heard many thousands of feet overhead; proof, if she needed it, that everyday life was still going on without her. Had Cathy been successful in her bid for freedom? As the minutes turned to hours and no sirens or sounds of doors being smashed down by invading police officers - real ones this time! -were forthcoming, Bethany's hopes began to fade. How long would it take to reach the village once Cathy had somehow escaped from the grounds? The walk had been about a mile, and if Cathy had been running for her life, then it surely wouldn't take too long. After all, a straitjacketed, spandex clad young lady with grey tape obscuring her lower face would surely be fairly conspicuous, and anyone encountering such a person would surely be willing to offer their help, wouldn't they? So the fact that no one had yet arrived to liberate her, suggested that Cathy must have failed. Or did it?

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Maybe, Cathy was still in hiding somewhere in the building, biding her time until she worked out the best way to make her exit. Although as the minutes slowly turned to hours, Bethany knew deep down that this was a long shot. It was, however, all she had to keep her from slipping further into a downward spiral of depression, and she therefore clung on to this last slender hope like a drowning woman grasping at the flimsiest of straws.

The long seconds turned to everlasting minutes, which in turn multiplied into interminable hours. Or at least it seemed that way. But finally, the familiar yet dreaded sound of Dolores' booted feet striding purposefully along the passageway gradually became louder, before coming to a halt directly outside the room in which Bethany languished. A second later, the sound of the door opening was accompanied by a waft of cool air seeping through the spandex of Bethany's bodysuit. For a few seconds there was silence, before the clicking of the high heels made a leisurely circuit of the bound woman's prone form; as if Dolores was checking that her captive hadn't moved or managed to release any of her restraints in the time that had elapsed since her departure. Only after what seemed an eternity did the Mistress finally break her silence, and Bethany's heart sank as it became obvious that Cathy had failed in her mission to transmit her Mayday message to the wider world.

"Well now Bethany, I hope you've thought long and hard about the way you treated me earlier today, and that you're full of contrition for having lashed out as you did. That kick was really painful, you know? You obviously don't know your own strength darling."

The sound of the pacing heels was very close now, as Dolores made several more circumnavigations of her fear-filled victim.

"So what sort of punishment do you suppose that you're deserving of now? What penalty fits the crime do you think?"

Bethany tried to respond that she was indeed extremely sorry for kicking Dolores, and that she felt being kept bound and gagged 24/7 was probably punishment enough. But of course the wad in her mouth and the tape that held it firmly in place meant that her answer came out as an unintelligible series of grunts and mumbles. She would also have liked to argue that it was, in actual fact, Dolores who should be apologising to her for holding her here against her wishes, but decided that now was not the time to get into a disagreement with someone who was both clearly angry with her, and held all the aces when it came to negotiation. But of course, Dolores' questions had really been of a rhetorical nature, and she was never going to listen to Bethany's point of view anyway.

"As you've probably guessed, Cathy's foolish stunt was never going to succeed. Yet for some reason, she too seemed to think that physical violence was the way to achieve her aim of escaping from here, and she kicked out at me, just like you did. So now you're both guilty of assault. She's taking a little nap just now, and won't be waking up for a few hours yet. So now seems a good time to sort out exactly how I'm going to deal with my pair of unruly convicts."

As the final word left Dolores' mouth, Bethany suddenly - without warning -had the tape ripped swiftly and harshly from her eyes, which caused a searing, burning sensation on the raw flesh of her tender eyelids. When her eyesight adjusted to the brighter conditions, she saw the initially blurred figure before her sharpen into the smug face of Dolores, now changed from her usual leather outfit into an equally figure hugging latex cat-suit that had been polished to perfection. However, it wasn't the near mirror quality of her jailer's clothing that caught her attention, but the glass of water that she held in her right hand. By her side, Bethany also noticed a black bag of the kind normally carried by doctors. It appeared that Dolores was waiting for Bethany's sight to return to normality before continuing with her projected course of action, for as soon as it was obvious that her captive was capable of comprehending her surroundings, she dipped her hand into the open bag and brought forth a small packet, in size no more than two inches square. As Bethany looked on, Dolores ripped the top from the tiny white envelope and tipped the contents into the clear liquid. And those contents were soon seen to be a white powder which fizzed slightly as it entered the water, and bubbled up even more when, having emptied the entire potion, the Mistress took a teaspoon and began to stir. Seconds later, the initially cloudy substance dissolved, leaving the water seemingly back in its pristine state of translucency.

Dolores placed the glass on the floor a few inches away from Bethany's head, not taking her eyes off her prisoner's frightened face for a second. Taking a pair of surgical scissors from the bag, she held the closed overlapping blades on Bethany's left cheek, just above the duct tape gag, with the tips pushing gently into her flesh. Instinctively, Bethany tried to back away from the cold metal, but Dolores placed her other hand behind the recoiling girl's head and held it steady.

"Moving around is probably not in your best interests at the moment. One small slip of my fingers and you could lose an eye, my dear. The sensible thing to do would be to hold still for a second and hope that my hands are steady."

Without warning, Dolores' finger nail prised a tiny opening between tape and skin on Bethany's cheek, before she dexterously poked one of the blades into the created aperture. Bethany closed her eyes and prepared for the pain that she assumed was going to erupt as the flesh of her face was slashed into. She underestimated Dolores' expertise in this matter, however, as the Mistress skilfully eased the cutting edge downwards, and within no more than a second had sheared through the multi-layered tape. Extracting the shears, she grabbed one end of the now severed tape and ripped it violently away from Bethany's mouth. The operation didn't end there however, as the unravelling process continued around the back of her head and didn't halt until the tape had been removed in its entirety.

This whole tape removal procedure couldn't have taken more than three or four seconds, but those seconds were excruciatingly painful ones for Bethany, as her skin seemed to have become so attached to the strongly bonding material, that the two parted company only with great reluctance. It felt as if at least one layer of skin must have been culled from her face, such was the stinging rawness that caused her to shriek in agony. Nor did the rear of her head get off lightly, as the hair on the nape of her neck was torn harshly from her skin as the tape was wrenched away. Dolores appeared not to comprehend the suffering she was causing, or more likely, she didn't care, for as soon as the tape had been detached from flesh and tresses, it was unceremoniously discarded on the floor. Glancing across at the now abandoned facial mask, Bethany could see several clumps of her long blonde locks still glued to the obsolete crumbled mass.

With the sealant removed from her face, Bethany's first reaction was to attempt to propel the soggy mass of material from her mouth. But this haste was frowned upon by Dolores, who soon rebuked her for this perceived insolence. Leaning forward, so that her face was only inches from Bethany's, she bared her brilliant white teeth and snarled.

"Listen you little bitch, the gag comes out when I say so, not before, is that understood?"

Bethany reluctantly nodded. It was obvious that she was in big trouble here anyway, so annoying her tormentor still further was not something to be encouraged.

Even so, after only a few seconds, Dolores' tone mellowed, and she completed the job that Bethany had begun, by easing the bundled up tights from her mouth and throwing these aside. Picking up the already prepared potion, she held the glass to Bethany's lips.

Despite numerous warnings that Dolores was not to be disobeyed or angered in any way - and most definitely not at this precise moment - Bethany baulked at the notion of drinking this unknown concoction. What foul ingredients might there be mixed up in that now dissolved powder? Was she about to be poisoned? Or simply drugged and put to sleep? And if the latter, then for what purpose? Dolores was hardly likely to be giving her something to aid a lengthy, relaxing sleep, was she? Whatever toxins the mixture contained, it soon became apparent that, one way or another, Dolores was going to make certain that they would soon be in her bloodstream.

"You know something Bethany? We can either do this the easy way or the hard way. I decided on this method because I thought that it would be easier for both of us than messing around with syringes and needles. But if you choose not to take this by mouth, you leave me with no option than to give you the same medicine intravenously. Do you really want me to have to give you this as a shot in the butt? Especially as I'm still a bit shaky from those kicks that you and your cohort gave me earlier. Wouldn't want my hand to slip and end up injecting into an artery or something, would we?"

Bethany felt her eyes welling up with tears, as she realised that she was left with very little choice in the matter. So when Dolores moved the glass towards her lips for a second time, she leant forward, closed her eyes and took a sip of the liquid.

The water had a bitter taste to it that made her scowl and cough as it slid down her unenthusiastic throat. Dolores kept the glass pressed to Bethany's lips however, gradually tilting it back until she was sure that the contents had all been swallowed. She smiled at her still shell-shocked captive as she put the glass down and once more picked up the ball of tights.

"I know you're not going to be in a position to vocalise for several hours now, and that these are a bit unnecessary at the moment, but I think you look much better when you're gagged, so they're going back in anyway."

She brought the scrunched up ball to within an inch of Bethany's mouth, but then stopped, as if waiting to see if she would encounter any form of resistance. When none was offered, she casually pushed the still damp mass into her mouth.

"Now, doesn't that feel better?"

It was as this sarcastic question was being put to her, that Bethany noticed the first signs that something strange was happening. Dolores' words started to sound muffled, as if being broadcast from far away, with the volume and pitch seeming to vary from second to second; one instant a whisper, the next a cacophonous roar. In tandem with this aural malfunction, she sensed her eyelids beginning to experience an unnatural heaviness and her sight becoming progressively blurred and unfocussed. A light headedness came suddenly upon her and the need to sleep took on an urgency that she tried to fight for a few seconds. But she soon discovered that resistance to this urge towards unconsciousness was too great a force to do battle against. The wrapping of fresh duct tape around her lower face was almost lost on the now severely sleepy young woman, and the last thing she remembered, before everything went black, was that sneering grin, floating in front of her now extremely confused vision, whilst the opening and closing mouth transmitted a message informing her of how, upon awakening, she and Cathy would once more be reunited.

Cathy's passage from dreamless slumber to waking consciousness was a slow, disorientated process. She tried to open her eyes, but a deep, impenetrable darkness prevailed. Her head was pounding and throbbing, and the epicentre of the pain seemed to be just above her right eye. Cathy groaned, but the noise that issued forth from her mouth was but a fraction of the volume she would have expected, and the fact that there was something wedged into her mouth quickly became apparent. As her senses emerged from hibernation, she began to recall where she was and what had occurred earlier, and the memory of her tumble brought a sharpening of the senses and with it a sudden urge to explore her immediate surroundings.

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Re-evaluation of her circumstances soon revealed that she was unable to move. No surprise there, of course. No longer, however, were her arms tightly lashed across her body in the restrictive straitjacket. Nor did her legs seem to have been bound together at the ankles and knees, as she would have expected. Instead, all four limbs seemed to be extended outwards away from her body in diagonally opposing directions, with the tendons and muscles in her arms and legs being stretched to the limits of their endurance. She seemed to be in an upright position, with her back pressed against something solid and immovable, although her feet didn't appear to be touching the ground; as if she was somehow suspended in mid air. Trying to move her hands revealed the sensation of straps at her wrists, and exercising her elbows also confirmed that there were other restraining ligatures of some description at various points along each arm. Her legs, too, refused to budge from their allotted positions, and any attempted movement made it apparent that her lower limbs had also been lashed down from thighs to ankles to whatever it was that she was leaning against. And the bindings weren't confined just to her limbs, either. Striving to push her torso away from the obstruction at her back, revealed that strapping had also been administered just below and just above her breasts, as well as around her waist. The smell of leather pervaded her nostrils, informing her that the tightly fitting hood which covered her entire head down as far as the neck, was probably one that she was already familiar with, and more than likely had a padlock fastened at the collar to discourage its removal; not that she was in any position to execute such a manoeuvre at present. Cathy also noted that although she was still experiencing the not unpleasant sensation of smooth, soft spandex caressing her skin, the material felt fresh and new, and she realised that during her period of blissful oblivion, she must have been undressed and re-attired in a clean cat-suit.

But what was it exactly that she had been fettered in spread-eagle style to? She tried to flex her fingers, in order to try to deduce by touch, the nature of the surface to which she was secured. And despite the fact that she found her fingers had been hampered by the application of some sort of tightly fitting leather mittens, she discovered that when she accidently knocked her knuckles against this immovable object, the dull sound of solid timber reached her ears through the padding of her hood.

Cathy stretched with all her might for several seconds, straining at the multiple straps that held her in check. But she received no glimmer of hope that this latest state of bondage was any more likely to grant her the opportunity to break free than anything she'd been put in up to now. Allowing her muscles to go limp, she sighed despondently. It seemed that Dolores' planning in this matter was as thorough and escape proof as ever, and that all she could do was wait for the Mistress or one of her brainwashed minions to show up. How long had she been out cold for? It was impossible to tell for certain, but her guess was that it had been several hours at the very least...maybe even all night. And she speculated that she might well have to wait another similarly lengthy time-span before discovering exactly where she was and what was to become of her.

And in this regard, Cathy was in a dilemma as to which option was preferable; long term solitude or a swift return of human interaction? Part of her was desperate for the sound of human presence, or any kind of indication that she hadn't been abandoned forever in some soundproof tomb. But on the other hand, she knew that when Dolores and her henchwomen did return, that whatever they had in store for her was unlikely to be to anything of a pleasant nature as far as she was concerned. And this thought of being disciplined for trying to run away brought her around to the question of what had happened to Bethany. Was she, too, being tortured or humiliated for her part in their little off-the-cuff escapade? The answer to this question was soon to be revealed.

The first sound that Cathy had heard since awakening - other than her own breathing and self-pitying whimpers - was that of high heels clacking noisily down some distant, echoing corridor. After a minute or two, however, she detected that this monotonous disturbance of the otherwise still air was getting closer. Suddenly, a door close at hand somewhere away to her right creaked open, and with it came an increase in the clarity of the sound. This could only be Dolores; a prognosis that was shown to be correct seconds later, as the skin-clinging leather hood was loosened and removed from her head.

Staring straight ahead, Cathy's initially blurred vision detected specks of orange luminance flickering all around her, in what seemed to be an otherwise darkened space. As her eyes adjusted to the conditions, however, she could see that these pin-points of light emanated from what seemed to be hundreds of candles which had been placed in fixtures that jutted at irregular intervals from the stone walls. Above her, where the dim flames' dancing glow could scarcely penetrate, was a high ceiling, barely visible in the gloom. Cathy immediately surmised that she was in an underground chamber, although this must be a different part of Shackleton Grange's cellar complex from that in which she'd previously been incarcerated. Directly in front of her, in the centre of this cavernous chamber, she could view a short section of ancient looking stone wall, which rose approximately three feet from the ground. Each end of this low wall appeared to curve away, and it took Cathy a few seconds to work out that this was actually a circular parapet surrounding a well. From directly above - presumably hanging from some unseen fitting in the ceiling - a leather harness attached to a length of thick rope swung ominously over the abyss. And it was this contraption that Dolores was currently working on, adjusting the many straps and buckles that hung lifelessly in the still, damp atmosphere of this subterranean vault. In readiness for...what exactly?

At that precise moment, Dolores looked across at Cathy, and must have noticed her uncomprehending yet fear-filled expression.

"Ah Cathy, glad you're back in the land of the living again. I bet you've got a bit of a headache after that crack on the skull though, haven't you? Well I've got just the thing to help take your mind off trivial considerations like that."

She finished adjusting the harness and sauntered back over to her immobilised detainee. Placing her hand under the wooden structure on which her prisoner was bound, there was a dull thud and immediately what had been a stable, immovable object began to sway slightly - as if a brake had been released - so that Cathy's whole body began to slowly cartwheel around to the left, whilst her feet started to move upwards and to the right.

Cathy gazed along the length of her outstretched arm, to try to determine exactly what was happening, and immediately realised that the wooden apparatus to which she had been bound was actually a large wheel - her limbs and torso being strapped to the many sturdy spokes that radiated from the hub outwards to the rim - which Dolores could tilt and spin at will. And seconds later, the option to do just that was taken up, and the circling motion sped up dramatically, as Dolores gave a quick push with her hand on the edge of the ancient wooden structure. Immediately, the squeaking and groaning sound of some ancient mechanism reluctantly stirring into action reached Cathy's ears, and she began to spin at an ever increasing speed, as Dolores increased the momentum on this giant circular disc. Floor and ceiling swapped poles on more than one occasion, as Cathy found herself being spun end over end for what seemed like minutes, but was probably in fact no more than thirty seconds or so. Just as her eyesight began to blur and a nauseous feeling threatened to overcome her, however, Dolores applied the brake and the spinning stopped with an abrupt jolt. Before Cathy's head had stopped spinning and she'd had a chance to gather her thoughts, Dolores' voice was once again echoing around the stone chamber.

"As you've probably gathered, we're in the lowest part of the cellar here. And this..."

She turned her head and gestured towards the well.

"...used to be Shackleton Grange's only source of fresh water in days gone by."

She gave another little spin on the wheel, and Cathy found her entire being in motion once more, with her head slowly making its way closer to the ground, until she was upside down with her feet now high above her in the twelve o'clock position. She gazed upwards at Dolores, her tormentor's face a picture of gloating satisfaction at the seeds of mayhem that she was planting in her victim's mind.

"And as I'm sure you've sussed out, the wheel that you're currently attached to was used to lower and raise the water."

Another slight spin of the wheel brought Cathy's head back to its original upright position, again to the accompaniment of the same straining sound of wooden cogs grinding against each other. Once the movement had ceased, Dolores gesticulated in the direction of the well, as if to emphasise her latest utterance. Glancing over, Cathy gasped into her gag as she noticed that the harness had disappeared beyond the low parapet, and all that was visible from her position was the limply hanging rope vanishing into the dark chasm beneath. And it didn't take a genius to work out that this was all a consequence of the turning of the wheel.

Dolores moved towards the low wall and gazed downwards.

"Of course, we don't use the well to draw water on a daily basis any longer, but as you've just seen, the mechanism is still in good working order. The drop isn't very deep - about twenty feet or so to the water level - but the sides are steep and smooth, and anyone falling in would have great difficulty getting out again..."

As if to stress this, she tossed a small pebble over the edge and waited until it hit the surface with an almost inaudible splash. She looked back at Cathy, the corners of her mouth creasing upwards into a cruel smile.

"...especially if they were all tied up and helpless at the time."

Cathy felt a chill rush through her as Dolores' veiled threat sunk in, but almost immediately her attention was drawn away from this sinister turn of events, as another commotion reached her ears from the direction of the door to this underground chamber. Part of this disturbance was easily recognisable as the now familiar sound of high heels on stone flooring, but as well as this, there came a metallic rattling sound that almost drowned out the click-clack of approaching feet. She didn't have long to wait before discovering the source of this discordant clamour, however.

With the opening of the door, Cathy watched in terrified wonder as the pink latex-suited figure - earlier identified as Electra - came into view. A second or two later, her black-clad colleague - who, by process of elimination, had to be Crystal - also appeared. This much Cathy had expected. But what caught her attention and made her shiver with horror, was the strange mode of transport that these two silent women were between them navigating into the centre of the cellar, which was now clearly seen to be the source of the rattling sound; a metal trolley on casters, around six feet in length, of the type used in hospitals to transport patients from ward to operating theatre. But what took her breath away was the shape of a human body lying motionlessly on this wheeled table, covered entirely with a grey blanket.

Was this Bethany? What had Dolores done to her? Was she even alive anymore? As the trolley came to a halt, a low moaning sound seemed to issue from under the blanket, which at least told Cathy that her fellow captive hadn't met some gory end. But there was still no movement from the lifeless form - not even a flinch or twitch that Cathy would have expected from someone trussed and tethered to the mobile bed. So what exactly had Dolores done to Bethany? Seconds later, the black suited figure whipped the blanket away to reveal what lay beneath.

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After all these days of constant bondage and captivity, Cathy had thought that nothing could surprise her anymore. But as her fellow prisoner's prone form came into view, Cathy's horrified eyes simply couldn't believe what they were witnessing...

Chapter 14 - The Wheel and the Well (added: 2017/07/08)

Bethany's journey out of enforced sedation was a harrowing process. Initially resting in a dreamless, artificially induced state of deep sleep, her anaesthetised brain gradually entered a period where vivid images flashed across her mind's eye. And the scenes that passed before her during this REM phase of her slumbers, forced her to relive a semi-factual account of the incidents that had befallen her since arriving at Shackleton Grange- with a few weird variations and impossible episodes thrown in for good measure.

At the beginning, these dreams were pleasant enough, with Bethany willingly giving herself over to the other women at the bondage class, and allowing herself to be used as a guinea pig for their tying whims and experiments. But as the dream sequence progressed, the trance like images began to take on a more sinister tone, with the sneering, witch-like face of Mistress Dolores - her teeth elongated into sharp fangs and her eyes glowing blood-red in the twilight world to which this whole scenario now seemed to have relocated - looming large over the now helpless dreamer, who, try as she might, couldn't escape her considerable array of bonds and restraints.

Suddenly the scenery changed, and she was running fast through dark, spooky woodlands, with barking, snarling dogs seeming to circle her - unseen yet close at hand - and tree branches reaching out to grab her and hinder her bid to get away. As quickly as it had begun, the scene shifted again, and the sensation of suddenly being hung upside down by her feet took over. And from this upturned vantage point, the ghoulish figure of Dolores in her leather skin-tight outfit seemed to dance around her, a glass of bubbling, fizzing liquid in one hand - which she was enticing Bethany to drink - whilst in the other she carried a hypodermic syringe with a similarly volatile substance hissing and spluttering within.

Bethany opened her eyes with a start; breathing heavily, heart pounding. Darkness alone met her gaze, but after her recent spate of hallucinations, she took comfort from this featureless black vista. The nightmares had seemed all too authentic whilst they'd lasted, but now, as little by little she returned to a state of everyday consciousness and her senses once more began to separate reality from illusion, she recalled that her circumstances in the real world were just as horrific and unbelievable as those encountered in her artificially induced comatose slumbers ... if not more so.

As her head cleared further, the world around her began to impinge upon her still semi-confused brain. Where was she? What had happened after she'd slipped into the twilight realms of drug stimulated oblivion? She tried to move from the horizontally laid out position she found herself in, but this proved impossible, and her first reaction was that she was still restrained in the straitjacket.

But further investigation of her apparently static condition told her that this was not the case. For one thing, her arms were no longer pulled tightly across her chest. So maybe the jacket had been removed whilst she'd been dead to the world. Perhaps her state of immobility now was caused by the application of ropes and handcuffs, to which she had become accustomed in recent times. But, upon closer scrutiny, even this supposition didn't seem to fit with the facts of her present condition. For now she discovered that her hands weren't pressed together, wrist to wrist behind her back, as she would have expected, but were simply resting at her sides, pressing against her body, with her fingers touching her upper thighs. There was no pressure evident in the wrist area, which suggested that they had no cords or other restrictions encircling them.

So why couldn't she move her arms away from her body? Clearly there must be something wrapped around her, preventing movement of this nature. Had she been mummified in duct tape or cling-film, or maybe bandages? This seemed a possibility, and to test this hypothesis, Bethany attempted to sit up and review her situation with regard to what was, and what wasn't, achievable . But even this task proved beyond her. Had she been strapped down after having been enveloped in this as yet unknown medium? She attempted to roll over onto her side to see if this type of motion was feasible, but still no joy. She seemed to have been totally immobilised, from head to toe, as even her neck, face and head bore the sensation of being tightly enclosed in whatever form of constricting material that had been used to keep her in check.

So if rope, tape, chain and polythene wrap couldn't account for her inability to move a muscle, then in what manner, exactly, had she been incapacitated?

The texture of spandex against her skin still seemed to be in evidence, but over this, the sensation of a weightier layer of some description appeared to have been added. And as she tried to move various parts of her anatomy, it became apparent that this cover-all substance amounted to a rigid casing that allowed her virtually zero movement in any direction. She could just about wiggle her toes, although even they were denied the full range of normal movement, and came up against a solid wall of some sort as she flexed them to their limits. Her fingers were encountering even less freedom than her toes, and despite her best efforts, Bethany failed to ease her stretching digits away from her thighs by even a fraction of an inch. And this state of inertia wasn't confined merely to her extremities, but also appeared to apply to every muscle in her limbs and body. What had happened to her? Was she paralysed? Bethany took comfort from the fact that she still had feeling throughout her body, so this diagnosis could be discounted. But what else could account for her inability to move? Had she been immersed in a vat of quick drying cement, or some similar substance?

If so, then mercifully her eyes had been spared this otherwise all covering process, as the pressure on the rest of her face seemed to ease slightly in a small, roughly circular region around each socket. And her mouth also seemed to have been left uncovered, as the realisation suddenly hit her that, for the first time in days, she wasn't forced to breathe through her nose, and that her airways felt free from obstruction of any kind.

Suddenly, the click of a switch broke the silence, which corresponded with the darkness exploding into dazzling light. For up to a minute, Bethany squinted into the unexpected brilliance, unable to turn her gaze away from the source, which appeared to come from directly above where she lay, and from a distance of only a few feet. As her vision gradually acclimatised to the brightness, she realised that there were two figures standing over her, whose shapes gradually sharpened into those of Dolores and her silver-suited sidekick. The former was speaking now, although her voice had a dull, faraway quality to it, as if there was some muffling barrier between the speaker's mouth and the ears of the listener.

"Ah Bethany, so nice of you to join us back in the real world. I do hope that your period of rest wasn't disturbed too much by bad dreams. I'm told that those sedatives can bring about some quite unsavoury hallucinations in certain people... especially those in a nervous state of mind."

Bethany tried to ask what had happened to her, and although no longer encumbered by the pair of rolled up tights, there seemed to be something wedged between her teeth that prevented her from closing her jaw. Consequently her words came out strangely stifled.

"I'm sorry darling, I really can't understand a word you're saying. I know that tube in your mouth will take a bit of getting used to, but it's the only way we can feed you whilst you're all plastered up like that. And believe me, you will be staying in that cast for a long, long time to come!"

Plastered? ...Cast? All of a sudden it became obvious to Bethany that she had been swathed from head to foot in a surgical-style plaster wrap, which had then hardened around her to prevent movement of any sort.

"Sorry I had to drug you, but it was the only way that I could keep you stationary whilst Sapphire here demonstrated her expertise in administering the bandages and plaster of Paris. She's had a great deal of experience in medical training, you see. As a matter of fact, she was thinking of becoming a doctor until I took her under my wing and she came around to the realisation that her true vocation lay in a life of bondage."

She tapped firmly on the solid surface of the cast in the region of Bethany's midriff, which elicited a dull thudding sound from the hardened plaster that held Bethany in such immovable straits.

" It's been more than twelve hours now, so the cast should have set to a reasonable degree, although it will be a day or two before it completely dries out. As I'm sure you've become aware though, it's already impossible to break out of, so you may as well conserve your energy."

This remark, of course, had the opposite effect on the encased young woman, who had until now been numbed into inactivity by the breaking news that Dolores was imparting. Pushing with all her might, Bethany fought to fracture the tightly wrapped insulation that surrounded all but the bare minimum of her face. Maybe, if the cast had not quite set, she could still find a way to crack open the thick coating that she'd been enshrouded in whilst she slept. But this proved a futile gesture, and simply made Dolores laugh loudly, as she watched her helpless victim fail to make any headway in her bid to find release.

"It's no good Bethany. You're trapped and you'll remain that way until I decide otherwise. But first, how about we all go and see how Cathy's getting on? After all, you conspired against me yesterday, so it's only fair that your punishments should take the form of some sort of shared experience. I'm sure you'll be pleased to see her again, won't you?"

She turned to her servant.

"Great job you've done here Sapphire. Now go and find Electra and Crystal and get them to transport this helpless creature down to see her partner-in-crime."

Turning back to Bethany, Dolores placed her hand over the tube that protruded from her petrified captive's mouth and leant in close to her face, grinning malevolently.

"Stuffy in here, isn't it. Makes you appreciate fresh air all the more."

It only took a second or two before Bethany found that she was having difficulty breathing, and desperately tried to move her head, but without the slightest success. For what must have been twenty seconds, she fought with mounting desperation to take air into her lungs, as Dolores continued to block the only supply available to her.

"Just a little reminder - if you didn't already know it - that I can make life very unpleasant for you whenever I feel like it Bethany. And after that nasty kick you gave me today, I might just take up that option. So you'd better hope that I remain in a good mood... or you could be in for a rather torrid time."

Bethany found her throat tightening as the lack of oxygen began to make her dizzy. However, just as she thought that she was about to pass out, never again to wake, Dolores removed her hand, allowing her to gulp in mouthfuls of beautiful cool air once more. With just a hint of an amused smile playing at the corners of her lips, Dolores turned and walked away to Bethany's left, and within seconds she had disappeared from her captive's restricted line of vision. The dull, echoing sound of her voice, however, still found its way through the layered plaster around Bethany's head.

"I'm off to see whether your fellow convict has woken yet. The girls will get you all ready for transportation to the cellar, and bring you down to join us in a few minutes."

Bethany stared directly into the spotlight that shone down into her face. For several minutes she was left alone, with Dolores' departure to check on Cathy, and the servant girl apparently rounding up her two colleagues. Exactly what form of retribution had the Mistress got planned for them? A million and one possible futures flashed through her mind, none of which offered any hope of salvation from this nightmare in which she was inescapably embroiled. The inflexible cast proved firm and unyielding to her ever more frantic attempts to in some way break free, and she knew it was only a matter of time before she would be subjected to further misery and despair.

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When the trio finally returned, they wasted no time in lifting the stiffened form of Bethany off the bench on which she had been resting, and placing her on some other surface which gave out a metallic ringing sound as her solid cast came into contact with it. As soon as she was positioned to their satisfaction, the helpless woman could only watch as broad leather straps were placed across her chest, waist, thighs and calves, then wrapped around both her inert form and the metallic surface beneath her, before being pulled tight and secured. From her horizontal position, and being unable to turn her head, Bethany's visual range was severely restricted, so it wasn't until the last moment that she saw the blanket being unfurled and spread over her entire helpless form. And a split second later everything went black.

Suddenly, without warning, the sensation of motion came upon her, and the rattling of metal casters across the floor brought home the realisation that this was a trolley that she had been strapped to. For several minutes her journey continued; mainly at speed, but occasionally slowing down to change direction as the tight passageways of Shackleton Grange were negotiated. Sometimes the ground beneath the rattling wheels was smooth, and at others the ride proved more bumpy and jarring. More than once, the trolley came to a brief halt, at which point a heavy door would be heard to creak open, before the journey recommenced. Towards the end of this enforced trip, the leading end of the trolley seemed to slant downwards and the sense of speed heightened, at which point Bethany deduced that the ground beneath her must be sloping downwards. And all the while, the monotonous rattle and drone of the wheels accompanied this terrifying flight into the unknown.

Finally, after the threshold of one last door had been successfully navigated, the stretcher on wheels came to a halt. From close at hand, the voice of Dolores could be heard, although it was evident to Bethany straight away that this one way conversation was not being directed towards her. She tried to work out the meaning of what she was hearing, but the sound dampening properties of her sealed plaster helmet, coupled with the fact that she'd joined the party midway through this monologue, ensured that the precise context remained a mystery to her at that time. She did however pick up on certain words and phrases from this otherwise incomprehensible oration; something about a well and the turning of a wheel. But how this was to affect her, at that moment she could only speculate.

Without warning, there was a swishing sound, as the blanket was pulled away from Bethany's plaster cladding, which coincided with the return of her vision. Blinking, she gazed upwards into a strange flickering candlelit world. Surprisingly, there was no one within her line of sight, but although she was incapable of moving her head to take in her surroundings, she could make out shadowy figures dancing across the dimly lit ceiling high above her; elongated and ghostlike in appearance, yet clearly the distorted reflections of several female figures close at hand. For several seconds all was silent, but then one of the dusky silhouettes took a step closer, and in an instant the face of Dolores entered Bethany's limited visual range.

"Ah Bethany, glad you could join us. I was just explaining to Cathy how your lives are going to be interlinked for the next few hours."

She turned away for a second or two to address her helpers.

"Can you tilt the trolley up a bit girls? It will make it much easier for Bethany to fully grasp what's in store for her if she can see what we have planned."

One of the servants - from her position Bethany couldn't tell which - leant down beside her, and seconds later, accompanied by a soft whirring sound, the horizontal surface on which she lay began to tip forwards, with her head rising and her feet descending towards the ground. Being strapped to this solid mobile table meant that she couldn't topple forwards, however, and when she stopped moving, she found herself in an almost vertical position. Dolores stood before her, legs apart, arms akimbo, her lithe latex-attired figure reflecting back the light from the hundreds of tiny orange wavering flames that surrounded her on all sides.

But what caught Bethany's attention was not the image of the Mistress in all her skin-tight finery, but the scene beyond. For there, in semi-twilight yet clearly visible, was the form of Cathy, spread-eagled and pinned to a gigantic and ancient looking timber wheel that stood only feet away from an equally archaic low wall, which guarded the entrance to a gaping hole in the floor. Above Cathy's place of anchorage, a rope could be seen rising upwards into the gloom, stretching a few feet across the smoke blackened roof of the stone chamber, and then once more descending directly into the chasm partially hidden by the stone parapet. Behind the wheel, just visible in the darkness, Bethany glimpsed several interlinking wooden cogs; ancient and spider-webbed, yet clearly still in working order.

Cathy's wide eyes flashed with fear in the shimmering light as they made contact with Bethany's, and it seemed obvious to the latter that her fellow prisoner already had some inkling of what was about to become of them. And within seconds, the sapling thoughts that had begun to take shape in Bethany's mind were confirmed by Dolores.

"As I was just explaining to Cathy, this well was used by previous owners to draw their daily water for the entire house. It's redundant in that respect these days, but I still use it occasionally when I have to teach naughty girls like you a lesson."

She strolled slowly around the well, never taking her eyes off Bethany's hermetically sealed form.

"Okay girls, time to get Bethany all strapped up and ready for the fun to commence."

Her circumnavigation complete, she sauntered slowly over to her plaster encased captive.

"Although I imagine that 'fun' is probably not a word you'll be using to describe the adventure you're about to embark on."

As she was speaking, Dolores' servants commenced loosening the heavy straps that held Bethany upright. With these removed, whilst holding on to her torso so that she didn't topple forward, they began to inch her slowly towards the abyss. By now, the third member of the unholy trinity had made her entrance, but instead of helping her colleagues move their cargo into position, she disappeared behind the wheel on which Cathy was bound and began making some unseen adjustment to the primitive yet still functioning mechanism. A second or two later, the sound of creaking timbers filled the air, and Bethany noticed Cathy's body begin to unhurriedly rotate in an anti-clockwise direction. This movement continued until one full revolution had been accomplished, before, with a sharp thud, the wheel came to a juddering halt.

So fearfully intrigued had Bethany been with this spin of Cathy's circular mooring station, that she failed to notice that this 360 degree cycle had resulted in the rope being hoisted upwards to a height sufficient enough to allow its attachment to become visible above the low ramparts. Not a bucket for drawing water, as might have been expected, but instead her eyes fell upon a melee of leather straps that draped downwards and swung loosely from side to side in the still air of the underground chamber. The ends of many of these straps ended in a stout metal buckle, whilst those not thus endowed could be seen to possess a row of puncture marks at regular intervals along their length.

At once, Bethany recognised that this contraption was a harness, and it was fairly obvious that it was she who would soon be the one unfortunate enough to suffer within the confines of this strictly lashed device. Although her logical self told her that she was stuck fast within the stiffened sheath, the part of her brain concerned with ensuring self preservation told her that she had to fight to avoid the hideous fate that she was about to be subjected to. All she was capable of, however, was a thwarted rocking motion which would, if left unsupported, have seen her tumble like a skittle to the floor. Whether this would have in any way loosened the cast which kept her in such inflexible rigidity or not was a moot point, of course, as her two attendants grasped her shoulders and prevented this hypothetical downward trajectory, and within seconds they had successfully positioned her directly in front of the low wall, which had been designed to act as a deterrent to anyone accidentally tumbling headlong down the well shaft. But of course, this was precisely what Dolores did now have in mind for the ill-fated Bethany.

Carefully manoeuvring their plaster package onto the floor, the harness was swung down in Bethany's direction, and all three servants began to encircle her within the unforgiving straps. Trying to put a halt to this ever worsening situation was, as Bethany had already fathomed out, a futile activity. As the straps were wrapped tightly around her shoulders and brought down diagonally across her breasts, Bethany protested the only way she could - verbally. But with the tube in her mouth, the noise she made, whilst reasonably loud, was also unrecognisable as coherent speech, and was ignored by the three diligently working women, who seemed never to tire of the chance to show their expertise with all things bondage related. Soon, therefore, Bethany's sealed and static body was encumbered with tightly buckled leather belts from the waist upwards...

...Or maybe that should be the waist downwards. For no sooner had the last buckle been fastened into position, than Bethany found herself being lifted up bodily and brought to within inches of the low wall. Suddenly, without warning, she found her head plummeting forwards, and the dark vertical shaft of the well seemed to swiftly rise up to meet her. Before she really knew what had happened, and even as the scream of terror-filled surprise was still echoing around the subterranean chamber, Bethany's world turned on its head, and for the third time in twenty four hours she found herself hanging upside down. Trying to gaze downwards was difficult with the stiff cast embracing her neck, and the fact that she was swinging from side to side didn't help in her efforts to focus on the area directly beneath her. But far below, at the end of the otherwise black tunnel that walled her in on all sides, a faint rippling effect could just be made out, reflecting back the extremely dim light of the myriad candles on the slow moving waters.

Casting her eyes upwards as best she could, Bethany could now see that her waist was roughly in line with the lip of the parapet. Above this, silhouetted against the wall of guttering candles, the outlines of Dolores and her three helpers ringed the narrow entrance to the vertical shaft over which their prisoner now perilously hung. A low sorrowful groan of dismay forced its way out of the tube protruding from the helpless female's mouth, as she realised that her tenure here was unlikely to be of brief duration.

"A word of advice Bethany, keep as still as you can. Any movement will cause the rope to gradually unwind and plunge you deeper into the well. As you can see, it's not that far to the waterline, so I suggest you try to stay as motionless as you possibly can."

As if to demonstrate the volatile nature of her situation, Dolores leant forward and jiggled the rope slightly. This caused only a minor tremor, but immediately Bethany felt herself descend an inch or two into the claustrophobic tunnel.

"Of course, my dear Bethany, keeping yourself as still as a statue is only going to be one aspect of the problem that you're facing. As you've probably worked out, Cathy's every movement is also inextricably linked to your fate. As the wheel turns, so the rope unwinds. And as the rope unwinds, so you sink further and further down until you're submerged in the freezing cold water. So you'd better hope and pray that Cathy is really good at keeping as still as possible for very long periods of time."

As she spoke these words, Dolores turned from the well and walked away in the direction of the giant wheel, now out of Bethany's line of sight. Her voice, however, still reverberated around the stone cavern.

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"So what do you think Cathy? Will you be able to stay completely motionless for hours on end? Or will you unwittingly send your plastered and paralysed friend here to a watery grave?"

Cathy had watched with a sickening feeling of dread cramping her stomach muscles, as the rigidly sealed form of Bethany was strapped securely into the harness and tipped head first into the waiting void. And the fact that Dolores had made it clear that it was she who would be largely responsible for Bethany's downward disappearance into the bowels of the earth, did nothing to alleviate the horror that was welling up inside her and threatening to tip her over the edge into a fit of hysteria. But she knew now - if she hadn't already guessed as much - that any movement she made, however seemingly insignificant, would contribute to her fellow captive's descent into hell. So, finding an inner strength she had previously not known she possessed, Cathy managed to stem the tide of panic and resist the urge to struggle to break free from her bonds.

And now Dolores was strolling back towards her, a smile of satisfaction on her face, as if putting young women into potentially life threatening situations was something she did every day and derived immense pleasure from. Her questions were, of course, rhetorical, and Cathy's only response was a whimper of despair that barely made it through the stuffing in her mouth and the tape that sealed her lips.

Bending down behind the wheel again, Dolores made some unseen amendment to the workings of the water drawing mechanism, which was accompanied by a sharp jolt of the ancient timber disk, before she reappeared in front of her stretched and strapped prisoner.

"Right Cathy, that little adjustment ensures that the wheel will only turn in one direction. So any thoughts you might have been harbouring of counteracting Bethany's downward trajectory can be forgotten about. The only way is down from now on."

As if to demonstrate, Dolores grabbed the rim of the wheel and tried to spin it in an anti-clockwise direction. The wheel beneath her emitted a straining, creaking noise for a second, but refused to budge back in the direction that it was being urged. Dolores leant in close to Cathy's face and smiled smugly.

"But even so Cathy, I'm sure that you're thinking that this is going to be easy, aren't you? Just sit tight, don't move and Bethany will be safe, right?"

She sighed dismissively.

"If only things were that simple darling. You see, over the course of the next few hours, my girls have a few surprises up their sleeves which will test your powers of self control to the limits. And believe me, they can be very persuasive when they want to be. Shall we give you a demonstration now?"

Without waiting for a response of any kind, Dolores turned to her gang of three.

"Okay ladies, let's see how ticklish Cathy is."

As one, the latex-attired females stepped towards Cathy. Each seemed to know exactly what was expected of them, and each appeared to have already decided which portion of Cathy's defenceless anatomy they were going to target. So whilst the black-clad figure began to tickle her feet, the silver-suited female went for her armpits, and the pink-sheathed woman began her assault in the vicinity of Cathy's vulnerable midriff.

If Cathy had any doubts about her susceptibility to being tormented in this manner, they were soon dispelled in no uncertain terms. Trying to control her movements as six hands weaved their despicable mayhem over her completely helpless form proved an impossibility, as her body bucked and squirmed in an ultimately vain attempt to alleviate the provocative sensation of the prodding, probing, ever creeping fingers, which caused such unwanted convulsions to surge through her. But even as the irritating feeling overwhelmed her and the spasms caused her to take ever more forceful yet entirely involuntary evasive action, Cathy realised that the wheel to which she was bound had begun to move - slowly but surely - in a clockwise direction. Every so often, one of the latex clad figures intent on stirring her up into a frenzy would make eye contact, but Cathy could detect no emotion or feeling in the depths of those impenetrably unseeing pools. To them, it seemed, this was just a job to be done, and her welfare - or that of poor Bethany as she gradually sunk towards a watery end - didn't impinge on their consciences one iota.

But in a strange kind of way, Cathy took heart from their unflinching devotion to the task in hand. For if they could divorce themselves from reality, then maybe, Cathy resolved, she could to. Thinking fast, she reasoned that the key to mastering the situation was down to mind over matter. Trying with all her might to ignore the infuriating, goose-pump initiating activities going on around her, Cathy closed her eyes and tried to still her mind with thoughts of tranquillity and serenity. To a certain extent, this had the desired effect, as the worst of the shuddering seizures that had racked her whole being gradually subsided.

And then - as abruptly as it had started - the taunting fingers ceased their maddening quest. For a second or two, Cathy's whole body remained tense, until she was certain that the torment was over and that this was not simply a momentary lull in proceedings. Finally, when it became apparent that hostilities had indeed ceased, she opened her eyes. What she found was that she was more or less horizontal, with her head in the nine o'clock position; the wheel having made around three quarters of a circuit during this short but tortuous bout of tickling.

Cathy's breath came in short bursts, as her mind and body slowly recovered from the havoc that had overtaken her for this brief period - which had lasted probably no more than a minute or two. For another minute at least, she failed to take note of the situation in front of her; simply being thankful that the torment of her spandex covered body and feet had come to a conclusion. So it wasn't until Dolores once more began to speak, that she focused on the consequences of her inability to endure this ordeal without moving. Gazing past the figure of the Mistress, Cathy's eyes fixed upon the low parapet. But where only moments before Bethany's legs and lower abdomen had been visible, now only her feet and ankles could be viewed.

"You see what happens when you start fidgeting and trying to move Cathy. I hope that this has made you think twice about trying to escape from those straps."

Dolores stood directly in front of Cathy and took hold of the wheel's rim. With a quick push, she brought Cathy back up into her original, upright position, and when Cathy once more glanced at the well, Bethany had entirely disappeared; only the taut, slightly swaying rope betraying the fact that there was anything - or anyone - attached to it.

"Now I'm sure you won't have too much trouble staying still if you're left alone here - even if it is for several hours at a time - given the dire consequences if you don't."

Dolores was right in front of Cathy's face now, and the devious smirk told the wheel-bound captive that there was a 'but' coming. And of course she was correct.

"But of course, that would be far too easy for you, wouldn't it? After all, this whole exercise is supposed to be teaching you a lesson. As I've already informed you, my servants will be coming back to visit you every three hours or so, in order to make life - how shall I put it? - a bit more interesting for you. After all, we wouldn't want you to get bored, would we?"

The Mistress stepped away at this moment and began to make for the door.

"What form these monotony-breaking interludes take will all be revealed in good time. Until then, goodbye Cathy. By the time I've finished with the pair of you, you'll have seen the error of your ways and realise that there is really only one way to survive here... and that's to accept your sentences with good grace and not upset me in any way. "

As she reached the door, she turned in the direction of the well and called out.

"Goodbye Bethany, I hope for your sake that rotten old piece of rope doesn't break, and that Cathy's self control is good."

And with this message still ringing around the high stone ceiling, she disappeared through the door, her three obedient skivvies following directly behind her.

Chapter 15 - A Plethora of Tortures (added: 2017/08/04)

The almost inaudible flutter of what seemed like a thousand candle flames; the soft plopping sound as a drop of molten wax fell to the stone floor; the gentle straining sound of the rope as it chaffed against the pulley, high above on the ceiling; the creak of the timber cogs, behind her back and out of sight. All these sounds paled into insignificance when compared to the thump, thump, thump of Cathy's heart, and the irregular sound of her breath as she fought to keep her terrified mind and body under some sort of self control. Although remaining motionless wasn't a problem for her in the short term, how would she fare after many hours of this stretched out immobility? What if she fell asleep and inadvertently stirred during her slumbers? Would this be enough to submerge Bethany in the deadly waters of the well?

All was quiet from the other side of the low stone rampart that hid the plaster covered form of her co-captive from her gaze. Was she alright, or had the shock of the perilous situation in which she found herself taken its toll and rendered her unconscious...or worse?

Cathy's attempted communication with her equally helpless comrade came out as a thin, raspy whine that spoke of a throat that had been starved of lubrication for many an hour now. It was, however, enough to elicit a response of sorts from her cocooned colleague, although the low groan that emanated from below ground level and reverberated around the subterranean grotto had a melancholy tone that sent a shiver through Cathy's entire being.

This slight shudder, lasting no more than a second or two, would, under ordinary circumstances, have seemed of no consequence. But even as this quivering sensation surged through her, Cathy felt the wheel at her back shift a fraction of an inch to the left. And a split second later, the winch - high above and virtually invisible in the gloom - gave a strange whining sound that suggested that it too had moved, as the rope passed over it.

This short burst of almost imperceptible activity may have only propelled Bethany an infinitesimally minuscule distance further down into the well shaft, but it brought home to Cathy exactly how volatile this whole setup was, and how fragile Bethany's hold on life had become. All those fractions of inches would, over the course of several hours - or even days! - accumulate until finally she was plunged head first into the stagnant pool. So movement of any sort had to be kept to a minimum, for there was no way of knowing exactly how long this marathon torture session would last, nor what fiendish intentions Dolores and her machine-like minions had in mind for her when they returned.

As it happened, the return of the mute trio occurred far sooner than Cathy was anticipating. This could have been because time had flown far quicker than Cathy had gauged. Or alternately, their arrival back on the scene was perhaps down to an eagerness to continue their quest to make the lives of both Bethany and herself as intolerable as possible. Given that time usually flies when you're having fun, but drags under more stressful circumstances, the latter seemed a far likelier explanation. Whatever the reason, Cathy's thoughts were soon sidetracked away from such abstract considerations, and instead her focus shifted onto far weightier matters; namely the nature of the events that these devious females had in store for her next.

Although there was no sign of Dolores, it seemed that the evil threesome had no need of guidance in their allotted tasks. The black suited figure - named Crystal, if Cathy's memory served her correctly - was first to feature prominently in Cathy's line of vision, as she began unbuckling the heavy straps that held her upper body in position on the wheel. Firstly the tight lashing just above her breasts was removed, followed by its counterpart just below. The belt around her waist, however, was left in situ.

Whilst this had been going on, the other two had not been standing idly by, and now that Crystal had completed her assignment - at least for the time being - Cathy's attention was redirected towards their labours.

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Just above the wheel, hanging from the ceiling, Cathy had earlier noticed a length of rusted chain which at the time had seemed to serve no particular purpose. The main piece of chain ended in a stout metal ring, dangling from which were four shorter lengths, each of which ended in a hook. What with everything else that had been going on, she'd paid scant attention to this ancient relic until now. But as one of the women began to pull this downwards, a heavy clunking sound of metal links grating against some unseen hauling device high above vibrated around the room, as the chain slowly lowered to within a few inches of the helplessly spread-eagled captive's chest.

Cathy could only watch with a mixture of fascination and horror, as Crystal stepped forwards again. In her hand she held a wire grille, in size about twelve inches square. Holding this out horizontally, her cohorts quickly attached one of the chains to each corner, creating a platform only inches above Cathy's quivering form. At first this swung from side to side, but after a second or two, Crystal grabbed hold of the makeshift shelf to steady it. Whilst this was happening Cathy glanced away to her left, where Sapphire and Electra were removing candles from their holders on the wall. Now, with one in each hand, they slowly came back towards Cathy, taking care not to allow the flame to become extinguished as they moved, and attempting to ensure that they didn't leave a trail of dripping wax in their path. It took Cathy a few seconds to fathom out their intentions, but with Crystal holding the grille, the other women placed the flickering lights onto the metal criss-cross wires.

Suddenly, without warning, Sapphire reached up to Cathy's throat. The whooshing sound of a zip briefly reached her ears, and in an instant the helpless woman felt the spandex being stripped away from shoulder to waist. It hadn't occurred to her until now that the cat-suit she'd been clothed in while asleep was, unlike the ones she'd previously worn, of front opening design. But now, with the zip pulled down to her navel, cooler air wafted over her and she realised that her breasts were exposed to the elements. And they were directly underneath the burning candles, whose tiny flames burnt brightly into her retinas, mocking her with their cheerful fluttering dances.

As the reality of what she was facing became suddenly apparent, Cathy's body and limbs stiffened in fright; desperate of avoid shifting her position for Bethany's sake, yet fearful of the imminent dripping of molten wax onto her soft, pale flesh. It took maybe thirty seconds for the first drop to ooze through the grille and splatter down onto the areola of her right breast with a soft plopping sound. Immediately, Cathy felt a searing pain as the liquid wax burned into her skin. She squealed in anguish, and without thinking tried to twist her vulnerable body from out of the firing line; causing the wheel to vibrate and move a fraction of an inch to her left. Two more drips from different candles, followed in quick succession; one splashing into her cleavage, the other hitting the bulls-eye of her left nipple. She shrieked in agony at the intensity of heat from the fiery missiles, that were beginning to bombard her at frequent intervals from above.

And worse was to follow, as the three women grabbed more candles from the periphery of the room and placed them onto the rack, until there were twelve wax excreting torches emitting their streams of liquefied venom in her direction. Wide-eyed, Cathy could only watch as riverlets of seeping hot gel made their way slowly down the side of each candle, before dropping their load in slow motion onto her trembling skin.

Cathy screamed and begged for mercy, but as she'd come to expect, with their work now complete, the threesome made for the door, not once looking back in the direction of the bare-breasted, wheel-tied damsel-in-distress.

Once alone, Cathy's immediate reaction to the predicament she found herself in was to attempt to blow the candles out. But with her mouth sealed with tape, the only breeze she was capable of whipping up were the weak exhalations that emanated from her nostrils, and although she could make the flames shimmy and gutter slightly, these feeble outpourings of air were never going to be sufficient for her purpose.

As the candles burnt, so the flood of dripping wax increased, until it seemed that every other second another dribble of fluid torture would slap onto her waiting breasts, until her areolas, nipples and the smooth tender skin all around felt as if it must by now be covered in slowly congealing and hardening wax. Every time, however, the droplets seemed to seek out a spot of as yet unprotected, virgin skin on which to wreak their mayhem. Every so often, a short hiatus would ensue, during which the constant globules of terror would momentarily cease their assault. And each time this happened, Cathy wishfully prayed that the candles were burning themselves out, and that the nightmare was about to end. But on each occasion, the deluge of wax would come back with a vengeance, and it would take all her willpower to stop herself squirming in her strapped and trapped helplessness. How long would the candles last? To her dismay, all were still at least three inches in height, and each flame glowed in rude health before her eyes; like mini volcanoes spewing magma down their slopes and onto the surrounding hills and valleys of her flesh.

After what seemed like a geological epoch, but was in fact probably no more than two or three hours, the sound of footsteps heralded the return of the three servant girls, and this time they had been joined by their leader. Dolores strutted around the helpless figure strapped to the wheel, watching as a steady dripping stream of wax coated Cathy's skin. Finally, she stopped circling her prey and walked nonchalantly over to the well. Peering down, she finally spoke.

"Hmm, not bad Cathy. Bethany's head is still quite some distance from the waterline. I'm impressed with your self control under severe provocation."

She nodded to her waiting crew.

"Okay girls, that's enough of the wax torture. It seems that Cathy's become too accustomed to having her tits splattered with molten wax. I think it's time we gave her something else to think about."

Immediately, Dolores stepped forward and, in one breath, blew out all the candles on the now severely encrusted grille. For several seconds, plumes of smoke wafted around the vicinity of Cathy's head; getting into her nose and almost making her choke. As the fug cleared, Sapphire and Crystal moved closer and began unhooking the tray from the chains that held it in the horizontal plane. As they lifted it away, one end tilted slightly, sending a waterfall of semi-liquid gloop to rain down on Cathy's already caked left breast. Despite the protective layer, some of the hot fluid managed to seek out areas of her skin not yet immune to the tortuous flow. Cathy squealed and bucked violently at this unexpected reprise of a situation she thought had come to an end, and as she did so, she felt the wheel slowly shift another couple of inches. Dolores, watching from only a few feet away, smiled.

"Careful now Cathy, we wouldn't want to undo all the good work you've done, would we?"

With the grille now deposited on the floor out of harm's way, Cathy breathed a huge sigh of relief. Yet still her heart pounded loudly in her chest. So that part of her ordeal was over, but what other nightmares did Dolores have planned? The answer was soon forthcoming.

The Mistress once more approached and surveyed the mayhem of what had once been Cathy's lilywhite, unblemished flesh.

"So Cathy, I'm guessing that those candles burning in such close proximity to your body will have made you a bit hot and bothered. Well I think I have the perfect remedy for that."

Cathy's eyes had been focused on the figure standing directly over her, so she was unaware of exactly what the other three women were up to. So the sudden placing of a large transparent polythene bag containing what seemed like a hundred or more ice cubes onto her still tender breasts, caused her to writhe uncontrollably for several seconds. But two of Dolores' minions were holding her shoulders down by this point, to ensure her movements were kept to a minimum. This action wasn't a preventative measure to stop the wheel turning, nor an altruistic gesture to save the helpless Bethany from further descent, however, but was instead an attempt to make their colleague's job of zipping the cat-suit back up to Cathy's neck an easier task. With this completed in less than two seconds, the two leather straps that had held her torso tight against the wooden anchorage prior to the candle torture, were quickly wrapped around her and tightened to their ultimate limits. With one just above and one just below her breasts, Cathy now found the ice packed solidly beneath the tight spandex, with no leeway for it to slip either up in the direction of her throat or down towards her stomach.

The chill factor around Cathy's already traumatised breasts was almost unbearable, and she felt goose-bumps rise and swell throughout the affected area, whilst her nipples hardened and stood erect within the Arctic-like pack-ice. Her yearning for the chance to take whatever action necessary in order to alleviate her suffering was overwhelming. But this would have meant that squirming and struggling were the order of the day, and that, she was only too aware, didn't augur at all well for her less fortunate fellow captive. Did she want Bethany's death on her conscience for the rest of her life, simply because she couldn't endure a little pain and discomfort? With a Herculean effort, she managed to contain her anguish and remain motionless.

"There you are Cathy. That should cool you down after all that nasty hot wax. By my estimates, the ice in that bag will probably take two hours or so to melt in its entirety. So until then, we'll bid you farewell."

Dolores clicked her fingers, and her ever obedient servant girls instantly sauntered towards the door, their latex second-skins reflecting back the light of the candles around the walls. Soon, with Dolores following behind, their sleek forms had disappeared through the cellar door, which slammed shut with a sound so thunderous that it would almost certainly have been audible throughout the house, if there had been anyone else around to hear it.

After a few minutes, Cathy found that her whole upper torso area had become almost numb with cold. This in turn caused her entire body to begin shivering uncontrollably. For no other reason than sheer frustration, she found herself shouting for help through her gag, and within seconds this outburst was taken up by Bethany, whose own mournful wails echoed from somewhere below floor level. Cathy took comfort from the fact that her one and only ally was still alive.

For what seemed like forever, Cathy suffered the latest episode in her ongoing torture saga without moving. Her head, she now found, was roughly in the two o'clock position, having shifted slightly downwards after her involuntary fit of squirming as the ice first made its presence felt. Gradually, she felt the ice cubes begin to shift within her spandex sheath and realised that, at last, they were beginning to melt; although as Dolores had hinted, it was going to be a long process before the temperature reached a level that could be thought of as pleasant. Not only that, but it was becoming apparent that the bag in which the cubes had been packed was riddled with tiny holes, and soon, what started as a trickle of melting ice, turned into a sluggish river. Soon, Cathy felt the until now dry area of her skin-tight covering, both above and below the strapping around her chest, becoming damp, and this rapidly spread down past her waist until it reached her crotch. But although still retaining its icy qualities, Cathy knew that the worst was over - for this particular trial at least - and a sense of triumph briefly came over her. The fact that she hadn't panicked and sent Bethany ever nearer to a horrific death, fortified her spirits. For if she could overcome both the wax and the ice tortures, she told herself, then she could get through whatever else Dolores decided to throw at her.

But, as it was about to become apparent, her next ordeal turned out to be not of Dolores' making, but stemmed instead from the antics of some of the other residents of Shackleton Grange's vast underground cellar complex.

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Cathy's body heat and the stuffy underground atmosphere conspired to finally melt the majority of the ice cubes that had covered her upper torso, until only residual pockets of slush remained between her breasts and in her armpits. As the worst of the chill began to ease, she closed her eyes and relaxed, hoping to get some respite for her stretched muscles during this period of calm that would surely, sooner or later, erupt into another storm.

After a few minutes of light meditation, however, Cathy found the peace of the dungeon disturbed by a faint scratching sound. For a minute or two she tried to block this nuisance noise out, but it soon became evident that the sound was growing, if not in decibels, then at least in the frequency of its occurrence. Cathy opened her eyes, but could see no cause for this strange scraping, and for a while she failed to comprehend the nature of the disturbance. But then, from the corner of her eye, she glimpsed something small darting at great speed across the floor, and this momentary sighting corresponded with an increase of the sound. Then the true nature of the noise hit her, and she found every tendon and sinew in her body tighten, and a stifled scream of fear escape from her stuffed and taped mouth.

The sound was that of a rat's scurrying feet. Or more correctly, rats plural, as she suddenly found the sound of tiny claws scuttling across ancient flagstones reaching her in stereo, from both in front and behind her. Of all the ordeals and trials that she'd been subjected to these past few days, and all the hypothetical torments and tortures that could conceivably be thrust upon her in future, the thought of large rodents scampering all around was probably her greatest phobia. Wide-eyed, she scanned the floor area within her range of vision, in an effort to locate the exact whereabouts of her foe. And in the flickering candlelight, she caught sight of the distorted shadow of what looked like a giant of the species cast onto the wall directly in front of her. Without conscious thought, Cathy pulled violently at her bonds, desperate to get as far away from her worst nightmare. And things were about to get even worse for the terror struck young woman.

The sensation of something jumping onto, then crawling cautiously up her left leg, had Cathy writhing in horror. For a few brief seconds, all concerns for the fate of Bethany were jettisoned as she simultaneously fought to rid herself of the creature, whilst apprehensively gazing down her body to where the scratching feet were slowly making their way over the tight spandex of her attire. Then she saw it, as its head appeared over the mound of her breasts. For a moment or two Cathy's convulsions ceased, as, paralysed with dread, she watched the inquisitive rodent sit up on its hind legs and sniff the air. Then, having deduced that this strange padded shape offered no threat of any kind, it slipped down onto all fours and took two tentative steps forward, its beady little eyes now only a few inches from Cathy's face. Again it stopped, and began cleaning its long whiskers with its front paws, keeping watch on its petrified human host as it did so.

Cathy was in a dilemma. Her initial terrified struggles had already caused the wheel to turn another 90 degrees or more, so that she was almost upside down. Yet she knew that the thought of this devil creature having unrestricted access to her entire tethered form would send her into a state of uncontrollable panic, which in turn would have dire repercussions for her helpless companion. Trying to stay calm, she hoped and prayed that the greyish- brown monster would get bored soon and look elsewhere for its next meal.

But, typical of her luck at present, the opposite actually occurred, and suddenly her troubles doubled, as a second rat springing onto the wheel close to her right arm crossed her line of vision, and within a second this creature had climbed up onto her ribcage and joined its mate close to her breasts.

It was more than Cathy could take. Heaving with all her might, she desperately shook whatever parts of her anatomy were capable of moving, in a frantic effort to rid herself of her two mangy visitors. And her efforts seemed to have the desired effect, for as she arched her back and puffed her chest out as far as the straps would allow, as one, the rodent duo jumped ship and fled into the dark shadows from whence they had come. Cathy's relief at becoming a vermin free zone, however, had come at a price. For this act of rodent removal had been accomplished with a force that had triggered a reaction in the volatile wheel, and set it spinning at a speed not encountered before. As she found herself once more careering around into an upright position, Cathy desperately tried to halt the process by attempting to push herself back in the opposite direction. But this only seemed to make the spinning worse. From the well, a low moan of despair could be heard, which suggested that Bethany was in fear for her life if this went on much longer. There seemed only one way to stop the momentum, and that was to do nothing.

For a few long seconds, the cogs turned noisily, and the wheel continued to rotate. But slowly, the momentum decreased until finally, with a slight jolt, Cathy came to a halt. For several seconds more, she held her breath, fearful that to in- or exhale would cause a resurgence of movement. There was silence from the well now, and Cathy made a sound into her gag that she hoped Bethany would interpret as an enquiry as to her wellbeing. For what seemed an eternity, she heard no response, save for the sound of the blood pounding hard in her head. Had her rampant murophobia been the catalyst for Bethany's demise? Then, just as she was beginning to think the worst, a whimpered groan reached her ears, informing her that Bethany was still in the land of the living. But for how long? Would another episode similar to the debacle with the rats be the final straw? Even as these thoughts buzzed around in Cathy's troubled mind, another sound filled her ears; a sound that she had become familiar with over the preceding days, instantly recognisable as high-heeled boots on uncarpeted floor.

The reappearance of Dolores and her henchwomen was a mixed blessing as far as Cathy was concerned. On the one hand, she was sure that they wouldn't actually let Bethany drown. That would be far too quick and easy for the sadistic tastes of the Mistress, who obviously revelled in long term torture; both psychological and physical. But on the other side of the coin, the fact that more of this callous treatment was almost certainly about to be inflicted, had her cowering with dread.

Entering the cellar with her three-woman entourage following closely behind, Dolores initially ignored the wheel-bound female, and instead made a bee-line for the well. Shining a torch down into the depths, she smiled to herself. Only then did she turn and acknowledge Cathy's continued presence in the room.

"Well Cathy, I see you must have been fidgeting a bit since my last visit, judging by your friend's descent to within a few feet of the waterline."

She strolled up to where Cathy stood in her strapped helplessness, stretched out her right hand and gently placed it under her prisoner's chin. Making eye contact, her red lips parted to reveal her pristine white teeth. Her smile bore no sense of warmth, however.

"Still, I suppose given the trials you've been subjected to - the tickling, the candles and the ice - I have to say that you've done remarkably well to keep her head above water."

She released her grip on Cathy's tape swathed face and took two steps backwards.

"Don't look so worried Cathy. I've just got one last test for you before we're done here. If you can keep from squirming about too much during this final ordeal, then both you and Bethany will be taken back upstairs."

She turned to the three waiting women, who stood in line behind her, hands behind their backs, legs slightly apart.

"Okay girls, I'm sure you know what's required here."

The trio needed no further encouragement from their leader as they stepped towards their victim, who cringed as they came and stood beside her. She noticed that Sapphire carried what looked like a silk scarf, but other than this they appeared to be empty handed. Were they going to tickle her again? Even as this question was forming in her mind, she watched as the scarf was brought up to her face, and seconds later everything went black. She felt the hands wind the blindfold around her head and pull it tight, before knotting it above her eyes. Once this task was complete, Dolores' voice once again echoed around the stone chamber, only now it seemed that she had retreated still further.

"I'll leave you in the capable hands of my girls, Cathy. I know that this is the part that they enjoy most, so please forgive them if they get a bit carried away. I'll be back in a few minutes to see how you're getting on."

Cathy braced herself for the pain that she expected to course through her body at any second. But nothing of the sort transpired. Instead, silence reigned for several seconds, before the sound of several pairs of feet shuffling close at hand reached her straining ears.

Then suddenly, without warning, two sets of hands were laid on her spandex bodysuit in the vicinity of her severely traumatised breasts, and began stroking this area of her tender flesh gently and seductively. A second or two more elapsed, before a third pair of hands joined in, only these provocatively probing fingers commenced their work in the vicinity of her upper thighs, and slowly made their way upwards into her crotch. Cathy gasped, more in surprise than anything else; still waiting for the moment when pleasure suddenly turned to pain. But this also failed to materialise. Instead the fingers placidly went about their business of tenderly massaging her tired, aching body.

And as the hands continued to weave their magic, so her body began to respond. Cathy felt goose-pumps form on the tender, wax and water ravaged skin of her breasts. In an instant, her nipples hardened and stood to attention, and against her better judgement, she found herself arching her back upwards as high as her restraining straps would allow, in order to better experience the full force of this soothingly enticing 'torture'. And lower down, as the fingers in her crotch began to explore ever deeper inside her, she felt a warm, wet patch start to form on the tight spandex, and she found her pelvis automatically begin to thrust in harmony with the rhythmic tempo of the probing hand. Soon, despite the knowledge that Bethany's life could be at risk unless she stemmed her carnal instincts, Cathy found the stimulation of so many hands working her up into a frenzy too great a delight to sacrifice, and as one of the most intense orgasms of her life ripped through her, she had no option than to let her whole body writhe and contort in ecstasy.

As she reached this extraordinary pinnacle of sexual ecstasy, Cathy's senses all seemed to heighten and clarify to an extent she'd never experienced before. Okay, so her sight was obscured by the scarf, but notwithstanding this, bolts of lightning flashed across her inner eyes and exploded with such intensity into a highly defined spectrum of radiant brilliance that, had this display been viewed normally, she would have been forced to close her eyes or look away. Her hearing, too, went into overdrive, with the faint swishing of her spandex attired body vying with the sound of her grateful purring moans of contentment and the pounding of her wildly beating heart; all of which became abnormally amplified. And the touch of the lightly caressing fingers gliding effortlessly across her body, the rub of smooth, soft spandex against her skin, and the sensation of being tightly restrained, all became enhanced to a degree that she would have previously thought impossible. Her sense of smell also seemed keener than normal, as the musty odour of the room mingled with wax and smoke from the candles to create a heady aroma that made her feel giddy. Even the cloth gag that had been a permanent feature in her oral cavity for more hours than she cared to remember, now seemed to become imbued with a richer, deeper zest to its otherwise bland taste at the point when she reached her wonderful climax.

With her energies all spent, Cathy sighed deeply into her gag and relaxed her whole body. For several seconds the fingers continued to trace the outlines of her now satiated being, before finally being removed. It took several minutes for Cathy to come down from the lofty peaks that her reeling mind had recently scaled, but as her focus began to return to more mundane matters, she realised that she was now upside down, with her feet high in the air above her. And this insight caused her to shiver inwardly, as the image of Bethany immersed in an inescapable lake of cold, dark water flashed across her mind's eye, and she realised with horror that her quest to maximise the pleasure of her arousal may have coincided with her fellow prisoner's last minutes of life. She groaned once more into the gag, but now her recent cries of joy were replaced with howls of regret and dismay. The irony of the situation was that, whilst she'd endured pain and hardship with remarkable stoicism, at the final hurdle, when pleasure, not torture had been on the agenda, she'd succumbed to her own cravings for sexual gratification at the expense of her only friend in this whole sorry affair.

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Suddenly, Cathy felt the blindfold loosen and fall away from her eyes, and the vision of Dolores' latex cat-suited legs and shiny leather boots met her gaze.

"Well Cathy, I hope that this final 'torture' session hasn't proved too costly for your little comrade-in-bondage. I think we may have found your real weakness at last."

From her upside down position, Cathy watched Dolores walk slowly over to the well, aim the torch beam down the shaft and gaze into its murky depths. For several seconds she remained silent, adjusting the beam's trajectory to take in every available angle. Finally she turned the torch off and looked over towards where Cathy waited anxiously.

"So how do you think you've done Cathy? Has Bethany survived despite your inability to control your deepest desires?"

Taking hold of the rope that disappeared into the abyss, she swung it from side to side for a second or two. From somewhere below, a dull thud reached Cathy's ears, followed by a low sound that made Cathy breathe a huge sigh of relief. For although being faint to the point of almost inaudible, there was no doubt in her mind that this was some form of vocalisation, and proved that her actions hadn't led to a fatality after all.

For half a minute or so, Dolores stared into the well, mesmerised, it seemed, by the sight below. Then she beckoned to her slaves, who immediately knew what was required of them. Crystal disappeared briefly out of Cathy's line of sight behind the wheel to make some adjustment to the workings of the mechanism. Upon her reappearance, both she and Sapphire began to rotate the wheel, only now - Cathy was overjoyed to find - they were propelling this back in an anti-clockwise direction; which must, Cathy hopefully assumed, be a sign that they were extricating Bethany from her subterranean hell.

And so it proved, as after only a minute or two, Bethany's encased feet appeared above the low wall, followed by her stiff, plaster-coated body and head. Dolores calmly watched the unfolding re-emergence of her captive from the well's edge, whilst Electra stood by, on hand to haul Bethany in once her head was high enough to swing over onto the floor. As she was laid to rest on the ground, Bethany's eyes met Cathy's, and it was clear that both women were experiencing similar emotions: relief at the knowledge that this particular ordeal had now run its course, yet apprehensive as to what was to follow.

Bethany's day had started off badly...and from thereon it had all been downhill - quite literally! Once suspended over the well shaft, she had been incapable of any meaningful action, as events above her spiralled out of her - and Cathy's - control. Long periods of virtual silence had transpired throughout the day, when the only sounds had been the creak of the rope as it strained to keep her suspended above the swirling black waters below. These periods of tedium and terror were, however, subject to interludes of activity, when the sounds of footsteps above would soon give way to stifled howls and screams from Cathy, as she was subjected to unknown and unthinkable tortures. During these periods, Bethany would suddenly feel her lifeline jolt and the sensation of moving in a downward direction would have her gasping with despair. Sometimes, a series of jerking motions would follow in quick succession, at the cessation of which she would discover that the pool of water below now appeared larger, as she inched nearer to its uninviting surface. And it was at times like this that Cathy would be heard shrieking in response to whatever particular torment was being meted out to her at that moment.

But then, after what had seemed like days, just prior to a spell when Bethany would once more experience that dreaded sinking feeling, a different sound had penetrated the depths of the well. For on this occasion, instead of the usual cries of terror, the gasps and moans took on a more consensual tone, and she realised that, whatever it was that Dolores and her team were doing to Cathy, it was most definitely not the usual inflicting of pain that had been the norm up until now. In fact, if she didn't know better, Bethany could have sworn that the noises emanating from her fellow torture victim were of a type normally associated with sexual arousal.

For several minutes the rope continued to inch Bethany nearer and nearer to the water. Mercifully, these short, sharp jolts eventually ceased, although when Bethany opened her eyes and dared once more look downwards, the sight of the water no more than six inches from her head made her wonder if the end for her really was at hand.

Dolores could be heard talking now - an occurrence that had taken place at irregular intervals throughout this whole ordeal - and a second or two later a beam of light flashed briefly around the lichen covered brickwork that surrounded her. Almost immediately, the rope that held her swung violently to one side, smashing her well insulated body against the wall with some force, which prompted an unplanned whine of misery to rise from within her and find release through her breathing tube.

For a few seconds she swung from side to side, eyes closed and waiting for the moment when she was plunged into the forbidding darkness below. And sure enough, the sensation of movement did once more come over her. Bracing herself, she waited for the liquid to begin lapping around her head. But something was different this time.

It took Bethany maybe ten seconds to realise that, although she was in motion, it was in an upward direction. She opened her eyes and sighed with relief as the circle of water gradually receded. The sound of wooden cogs grinding against each other filled the air now, and became louder and louder as her ascent continued. Soon the rim of the parapet came into her line of vision, and within seconds her face was passing within inches of Dolores', as the Mistress looked on in amusement whilst one of her dogsbodies toiled to hoist the plaster cast and its inmate high enough into the candlelit cellar, so that she could retrieve her swinging form and lay her on the stone floor.

"So ladies, I hope that you've both learnt a very valuable lesson here today."

As she spoke Dolores began to pace the room, as was her wont.

"Never again will you use physical violence on either me or any member of my team. Is that clear?"

She walked across to Cathy. When no response was forthcoming, she approached to within an inch of the still wheel-bound woman, and repeated her question in a voice filled with much malice.

"I asked if that was clear?"

Sheepishly, Cathy nodded. Seemingly pacified by this show of compliance, Dolores turned and sauntered across to Bethany's prone form.

"What about you Bethany? Have you got the message loud and clear too?"

A sound that may or may not have been in the affirmative issued from the tube that protruded from the otherwise almost completely plaster encrusted head region of the hardened white shell. Whatever the interpretation, Dolores seemed satisfied with the response.

"Anyway ladies, I've been doing some thinking while you've been sampling the delights of the cellar, and I've come to a decision."

She paced to a point midway between her two prisoners and looked briefly at each in turn.

"As you both seem to have trouble obeying orders, I've decided that it's almost time to commence your retraining programmes. So next week we'll begin the process of transforming you into a pair of model, obedient slave girls..."

She motioned towards Sapphire, Crystal and Electra, who stood passively in the shadows to one side, hands clasped behind their backs.

"...just like my three servants here."

Chapter 16 - Saskia the Amateur Sleuth (added: 2017/09/08)

Saskia checked the CCTV footage for what must have been the hundredth time. Although the image wasn't crystal clear, she was convinced that the female figure seen walking along the platform at Ipswich station and then getting onto the East Suffolk branch line train was the missing woman. She leaned back in her chair and gazed out of the window of her office. After this morning's rain, the late afternoon sunshine seemed to have brought the crowds out onto the streets of Ipswich, as directly below her window in Giles Circus, late shoppers mingled with people leaving off work for the day, with running and playing school children wending and weaving their way between the ever moving throng. Pigeons strutted and fluttered between peoples' feet, whilst herring gulls wheeled overhead and landed on window ledges and roofs, waiting hawk-eyed for any scraps of fast food dropped by the passing human melee. Although dulled by the double-glazing, a general hubbub of everyday life could still be heard above the office sounds created by her fellow workers. Saskia gazed upon this scene for a minute or two, before her eyes were drawn further afield, to where the sun's rays reflected back off the glass façade of the Willis Building. Pondering, she bit her lip.

It was now five days since the woman had gone missing, a twenty two year old from London by the name of Bethany Hammond; slim and pretty with long blonde hair, if the smiling photo that had graced the newspapers was anything to go by. Under normal circumstances, Saskia would have had no reason to think that the sought after girl had ventured outside the Metropolis; indeed the police had indicated that all their efforts were being focused within the M25 orbital motorway that ringed the capital. And it was probably for this reason, that details of her disappearance had been concentrated in London's regional newspapers, with scant coverage being given further afield.

So how had Saskia come across evidence to the contrary? Well, it had all been down to good fortune really. As a young investigative journalist who had only been employed by the Suffolk Standard for a period of just over six months, Saskia was always on the look-out for a story that she could break and make a name for herself with. And as luck would have it, this might just be her big chance. Fortuitously, Saskia had a friend who worked as a security guard at Ipswich Railway Station, and this friend had mentioned, in passing, that he'd seen someone matching the description of the missing woman the previous Monday, i.e. the day that she had last been seen. Initially sceptical, Saskia had no real conviction that this really was the person whose whereabouts had become a potential unsolved crime, but, being not only a journalist but also a would-be amateur detective, she had badgered her friend to allow her to go through the rail company's footage on the security cameras at the time in question.

At first, her friend had resisted this request, claiming that the recordings in question were private property, and that he could lose his job if he was discovered handing them over to the press. But Saskia was nothing if not persistent, and gradually wore him down with promises that she would be discreet and get the recordings back as soon as she could. What she didn't mention, however, was that she would be making copies of the footage for her own use.

And now, with the originals safely returned to their owners, Saskia could scrutinise the images at her leisure. Her friend had indicated that his sighting had taken place at around four o'clock, give or take an hour of so on either side, so it wasn't too great a task to fast forward the captured images on the disc until anyone remotely matching the description caught her eye. And after only three or four misidentifications, Saskia suddenly hit the jackpot...or at least that was how it appeared to her. Okay, so the subject was in the distance and quite indistinct, but she appeared to be around the right age, height and build...and she had long blonde hair. Excitedly putting two and two together, Saskia decided that this just had to be the woman that all the fuss was about.

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Her boss, however, was less impressed with her discovery. There were thousands of women who looked similar to the missing female, he'd informed her. And anyway, there was no evidence that the subject of the investigation had any reason to come to Suffolk on the fateful day that she'd disappeared. Forget this wild speculation, he'd told her, and stick to the story you've been assigned to work on; something about a man poisoning his neighbour's cat after he'd discovered that said neighbour had been having an affair with his wife....Or was it the other way around? Maybe it was the wife who'd been poisoned after being found in bed with the neighbour's cat! Whichever it was, Saskia found focusing her attention on mundane matters such as this impossible.

So what else was there to go on? Nothing much really. The East Suffolk line ran through the countryside of England's easternmost county in a serpentine manner, passing through and stopping at numerous halts and small stations, until it reached its terminus at Lowestoft. Very few, if any, of these stop-off points would be covered by CCTV cameras, and even if they were, obtaining the footage would be impossible for a junior member of the press.

Maybe she should tell the police about her find and let them take matters from there. Although this seemed a logical move, Saskia baulked at the idea. If she could somehow find a clue as to where this woman had vanished to and break this story to the nation, then she would get all the kudos, the praise, the acclaim, which would help make a name for herself as an investigative journalist and go a long way to propelling her career to a higher level. So why tell the police, who barely tolerated the presence of the press at the best of times and would give her no credit even if the information she provided cracked the case? No, she would do the detective work all by herself, then bask in the glory should her investigations bear fruit.

But where should she start? Well, there had been one other incident in a village through which the railway line meandered on its way northwards, that, although seemingly unconnected, had got her thinking. Two miles or so from the village of Tuddenham St Peter, almost a week ago now, the burnt out shell of a car had been discovered on a lonely single-track road. Okay, so the culprits had turned out to be teenage joy-riders, who had crashed into a ditch before deciding to torch the vehicle. They'd been apprehended quickly enough and admitted their crimes, but something about the whole incident didn't seem quite right. They were insistent that they'd come across the seemingly abandoned car on the other side of the village, only a couple of miles from where there journey had come to grief. But where was the owner of the vehicle?

The car had belonged to a known female burglar named Catherine Jackson - usually known as Cathy - who the police had found trouble in tracing since the incident; although being a known criminal, they'd taken the view that she'd gone to ground somewhere and would turn up eventually. And so the incident, whilst making a couple of column inches in the Standard, had soon been all but forgotten about.

By everybody except Saskia, that is.

Looking out of her office window, the twenty one year old did a quick recap of what she had to go on. A woman's car gets stolen and torched, but the whereabouts of the owner can't be ascertained. A few days later, another woman disappears off the face of the earth, and the last - possible - sighting shows her getting onto a train that will pass within a mile or so of where the first woman's car is found.

Two women, two disappearances. Coincidence? Maybe. But Saskia's imagination had been stirred now, and she needed to know whether the two incidents could be in any way connected.

A shaft of sunlight striking the Willis Building's glass panels suddenly blinded Saskia... at least physically. But at that precise moment, the fearless reporter suddenly came up with a plan. She would try to retrace the train journey that the missing Bethany had taken, in an attempt to find a common denominator that would link her to the other missing female. Whether that linking factor would turn out to be a place, an object, a person, or something else altogether, Saskia had no clue at present. In fact, she had no real idea of what she was actually searching for. But she wasn't going to let a minor detail like that stop her from at least giving it her best shot. Tomorrow - Saturday - was her day off, so she would have plenty of time to try her hand at being an amateur sleuth. If she came up with nothing, then nobody ever needed to know. What had she got to lose?

Three o'clock in the afternoon of a warm, late spring day saw Saskia standing on Platform One at Ipswich Station, waiting for the two carriage train to arrive which would ferry her into the heart of rural Suffolk. Her map showed that the line ran north out of Ipswich, with the first stop being at the small village of Easterfield, followed a few miles further on by the equally tiny settlement of Oakbocking.From there, the next stop along the picturesque route would be Tuddenham St Peter. Saskia decided that, as the burnt out car had been found close to the latter village, she should concentrate her initial efforts in this vicinity. If nothing came of her time there, then she would continue in a northerly direction on the next available train, although at that moment she really had no definite plan as to what she would do should she draw a blank at her first port of call.

The housing estates and industrial areas of Ipswich soon gave way to open fields and hedgerows, scattered farmhouses and cottages, copses and meandering streams, all lit by bright spring sunshine pouring down from a cloudless blue sky. Many of her fellow passengers that day seemed to be enjoying the scenic Suffolk panorama, but Saskia failed to appreciate the beauty of the countryside as if flew past, instead being immersed in finalising her projected course of action once she reached her destination.

The journey from Ipswich to Tuddenham St Peter took no more than twenty minutes, and before she knew it, Saskia was standing on the small platform watching the train disappear into the distance. None of her fellow passengers had disembarked at this station, nor was there evidence of anyone else in the vicinity once she'd alighted. Once the noise of the engine had faded, she found herself alone, with only birdsong and the buzzing of the occasional bee to disturb the warm air.

Saskia's plan was to stop anyone she encountered on the street and show them the newspaper picture of Bethany, in the hope that one or other of them would remember seeing her. Unfortunately, although it was a glorious Saturday afternoon, the village was still far from a hive of activity, with no more than a handful of people to be seen. First approaching an elderly man walking his dog, the photograph only elicited a blank look and a shake of the head. A similar reaction was forthcoming from the young woman with a small child in tow, walking down the main thoroughfare. Saskia gazed up and down the street. Aside from a group of boys kicking a football about on the village green, the settlement seemed to be deserted.

Suddenly, the jangling of a bell sounded from close at hand, as the door of a shop opened and a man hurried off down the street in the opposite direction. Momentarily, Saskia considered chasing after the fleeing man and waving the picture in front of him, but such was the speed of his departure that she decided against such action. Instead, she gazed at the door through which he'd just exited. The sign above the shop told the world that this establishment was 'Tuddenham St Peter General Store and Post Office'. Saskia peered in through the window. The dimly lit interior seemed devoid of any other customers, although at the far end of the shop, an elderly woman could be seen behind the counter.

The bell sounded again to announce the entrance of the Suffolk Standard's junior reporter. Walking towards the counter, Saskia was struck by the difference in both lighting and temperature from the environment she'd just left. Whereas it was a gloriously warm, bright spring day outside, in here, the atmosphere was cool and musty, with illumination barely adequate for potential shoppers to see the goods they were being enticed to purchase. Shelves shacked precariously with every product imaginable formed extremely narrow aisles through which customers were expected to navigate. As the slim brunette approached the counter, the woman - who had been restocking the shelves behind her with various household name brands of spirits and liqueurs - turned and looked directly at her next potential customer.

"Good afternoon. How can I help you?"

Her greeting seemed slightly less than friendly, as if the sight of a stranger in her shop was not what she either expected or desired on a Saturday afternoon. She squinted through thick spectacles at the press pass that Saskia flashed across her line of vision.

"Hi, my name's Saskia Lynton from the Suffolk Standard. I'm investigating the disappearance of a young woman who I believe may have visited this village in the last week. Would you mind having a look at this photograph to see if you recognise her?"

The woman, who must have been at least seventy if she was a day, looked suspiciously up at Saskia for a few seconds, then turned her attention to the picture that was being brandished before her. She bent forward, looked at the image through her glasses, squinted, then lowered her head so that she could look over the top of the horn-rimmed frames and squinted again. Taking into account the low lighting and the fact that this woman was clearly partially blind, Saskia was about to withdraw the photo, thank the woman for her time and take her leave. So the woman's sudden response took her aback momentarily.

"Yes, she was in the shop a few days ago."

Although shocked at this revelation - and still unsure of this woman's observational skills - Saskia found herself asking, in a tone that could only be described as tinged with incredulity,

"Are you sure about that?

The woman looked at the picture again for a second or two, then back at the young woman standing before her.

"Yes, I remember her well, as we don't get too many strangers coming in here."

Now excited that she might have made a breakthrough in the case so quickly, Saskia probed for further information.

"Can you be more precise as to when she was in here?"

The woman closed her eyes, raised a bony, arthritic hand and stroked her chin, as if deep in contemplation. For what must have been fifteen seconds she stood unmoving, deep in thought. Saskia, impatient for the details she sought, shifted from foot to foot as the woman continued to trawl her memory. Just when Saskia was beginning to think that she'd fallen asleep, the silence was broken.


Once again, Saskia found herself questioning this one word exclamation.

"Are you certain?"

The woman - whose eyes were now wide open and staring directly into hers - was clearly not pleased with the manner of this interrogation. She gave the young journalist a withering look.

"My dear, I may be old, but I'm not senile. It was definitely Monday. Now unless there's anything else, I have work to be getting on with."

The woman turned back towards her bottle arranging, and Saskia realised she'd been too aggressive in her questioning, and that if she wanted continued cooperation, then she needed to be slightly less ruthless and a bit more diplomatic.

"Look I'm sorry if I offended you, but this is important. This woman has gone missing and could be in grave danger. If there's anything else you can tell me, then I'd be really grateful."

The woman slowly turned back to face the eager reporter; now keen, it seemed, to show that her powers of recollection were still as sharp as ever.

"It was late afternoon when she came in. I know that because it was just after old Mr Johnson had been in for his tobacco. She was asking for directions."

Saskia waited a few seconds for the woman to elaborate, but it appeared this was as much knowledge as she was prepared to divulge without further prompting. But if that was what was required, Saskia was only too keen to play along.

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"So where was it she wanted directions to?"

The woman sniffed and for a second or two her eyes darted around, as if wary of eavesdroppers. The shop, however, was otherwise empty. But when she spoke again, her words were no more than a whisper.

"Shackleton Grange, my dear. Have you ever heard of it?"

In truth, although the name was familiar to her, Saskia knew very little about the place. But she didn't want to convey her ignorance to this old woman.

"Did she give any clues as to why she might be going there?"

The woman sighed and looked wearily at her inquisitor.

"She didn't say. And as it was none of my business, I didn't ask."

She bit her lip, as if debating with herself as to whether she should share the next nugget of information or not. Finally, she seemed to conclude that, as there was no one else around, she may as well elaborate.

"I did give her some advice though. The same piece of advice I give anyone who asks, and the piece that I'll give to you now. And that is to steer well clear of that place. It was alright in days gone by when the old squire was alive, but since that woman inherited the estate - what's her name now? Dolores Devlin or something like that - there are rumours galore about all kinds of weird things going on behind those walls. Wild parties would be my guess... probably drugs and fornication and who knows what else. You see some of the people that the place attracts occasionally - women mainly - zooming through the village in their flash cars on their way out there, especially at weekends."

She paused for breath, as if all this talking was taking a lot out of her.

"As a matter of fact, there was a car came speeding down the street in the direction of the Grange only a few minutes before you turned up. Probably some orgy going on there tonight I wouldn't be surprised to learn. The only good thing about those people is that they keep themselves to themselves."

The word 'tonight' caused a shiver to run up Saskia's spine. She had been listening patiently to the woman's ramblings, and she was still brimming with questions that she wanted answers to, but the fact that there might be some event going on there within the next few hours suddenly changed all that. All of a sudden she was keen to get out to Shackleton Grange and find out as much as she could about these strange events that were allegedly taking place there. And if one of the missing women had been asking for directions, then it was possible that she was still there now... or at the very least, there might be some evidence that she had been there only very recently. Looking at her watch, she feigned an urgent need to be on her way.

"Look, I really must be off now, as I have to meet someone. Thanks for all your help."

She started towards the door, then realised that she had no idea how to get to her destination. She turned back towards the counter, where the old woman was still motionlessly watching her visitor's every move.

"Oh, just out of interest, how would I get to Shackleton Grange?"

The woman began to inform the impatient reporter of the route she would - theoretically - need to take; all spoken in a weary manner that suggested she was fed up with directing people to what she perceived as a house of ill repute.

Saskia's head was spinning as she exited the dark interior of the shop and returned back into the bright sunshine. So she was onto something! The CCTV footage did indeed show that Bethany had travelled to Suffolk on the day that she'd seemingly evaporated into thin air. Not only that, but Saskia even had a destination to which the AWOL woman had been heading: Shackleton Grange. From the depths of her memory, she somehow managed to dredge up a few scraps of long buried information that she'd once been told about the place. It was, if her recollection wasn't faulty, more or less a stately home. But whereas a lot of Britain's ancient mansions opened their doors to the public, at least occasionally, Shackleton Grange, as far as she knew, had never done so; successive owners instead preferring a reclusive, or even secretive existence, thus cultivating an air of mystery and rumour. Intuitively Saskia knew she was on the right trail, and she couldn't let this rest until she had some answers. And there was no time like the present, especially if the shopkeeper had been correct and there was something strange going on there this evening.

For a brief moment, she contemplated ringing her editor and telling him what she'd learnt and where she was. But she quickly rejected this course of action. After all, she wasn't supposed to be working on this case, and she knew only too well that he'd tell her to leave well alone. Then he'd replace her with another, more experienced reporter, and she'd be sidelined and get no credit whatsoever for breaking the story.

No, the only way was to go it alone, then bask in all the glory once she had concrete proof of foul play.

Walking the lanes of rural Suffolk on such a glorious spring day made it difficult to contemplate the nature of Saskia's mission. After all, the missing woman - or women - might have met with grizzly ends for all she knew. But this morbid feeling of something bad having occurred just wasn't in keeping with the warm sunshine and the scenic rolling landscape; with fields of grazing sheep or gently swaying crops intersected by hedgerows and the occasional ancient gnarled tree. In the distance, either nestling in secluded vales or standing proudly on the skyline, several ancient church spires could be seen, highlighting the location of the many small villages and hamlets dotted around the area. The roads down which Saskia trod were devoid of human presence, save for a tractor which could be observed in a far off field; the drone of the engine audible in the tranquillity that was otherwise broken only by the songs of the birds and the humming of insects.

The pleasant mood altered somewhat when Saskia eventually reached the high stone wall that she guessed had to be the perimeter of the Shackleton Grange estate. The realisation that the whole mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the missing women might be only a short distance away behind this impenetrable barrier, caused Saskia's trepidation levels to rise as she confronted this ancient boundary, and the fact that the walls cast their shadow onto the roadway on which she was travelling, meant that her journey was now being undertaken in a far darker, cooler environment than she had been enjoying only minutes before. Even the songbirds seemed to have ceased their accompanying chorus momentarily; their joyous trilling replaced instead by the harsh cawing from a nearby rookery.

After following the wall for what seemed like an eternity, Saskia finally came to the main entrance of the property. Through the ancient, wrought iron gates, she gazed down an avenue of trees to where the turrets and towers of the mansion house could be seen basking in the sunshine. This was clearly where she needed to be if she was to have any chance whatsoever of solving this mystery, but how was she to get in? Pushing on the gates brought no joy, as the railings stood their ground and refused to budge even an inch. Saskia was just pondering her next move when a faint droning noise reached her ears. It was clear almost immediately that this sound was steadily increasing in volume, and within seconds it had become identifiable as the sound of a car engine. Saskia stepped back into the road and noticed, above the hedgerows away to her right, a vehicle hurtling at what appeared to be too fast a speed for this type of narrow, winding lane. It was obvious that within a few seconds the car would negotiate the next bend and would then be heading directly towards her. Should she let herself be seen, or keep a low profile? As the driver of the car could - indeed probably did, given the out-of-the-way location - have some connection with Shackleton Grange, Saskia thought it best to conceal her presence for now. After all, she really didn't want to be spied snooping around before she'd had a chance to at least get onto the property. Quickly glancing behind her, she spied a small copse on the other side of the road. Three quick steps and she had cleared the tarmac and concealed herself behind the nearest tree, which luckily had a broad enough trunk to hide her slender young frame.

After no more than three or four seconds, there was a screech of brakes, as the car came to a halt directly in front of the gateway. Saskia peeked out, hardly daring to look lest she revealed her presence to the driver. What she witnessed was a flashy green sports car with the engine still idling. As she watched, however, the door opened and a woman stepped out. Tall and slim, with long flowing blonde hair, the woman slowly made her way over to a small intercom panel in one of the gate's supporting pillars. But what caught Saskia's attention and made her gasp, was the woman's attire. For these were no ordinary clothes as worn by the locals of rural Suffolk. The woman - probably in her late twenties or early thirties - was rigged out in the most tightly fitting one piece clinging garment imaginable. From her neck down to the ankle boots that adorned her feet, this female had poured herself into what looked like a latex outfit that not only highlighted her immaculate figure, but had also been polished to perfection, so that, when caught by the sunlight, it sent out a reflected flash so dazzling that for a microsecond Saskia was blinded. Upon reaching the pillar, the woman pushed a button on the panel, which caused a faint buzzing sound to fill the air. Seconds later, a voice could be heard emanating from the grille, although from her hiding place several feet away, Saskia couldn't make out what was said. The reply from the tall blonde, however, reached her with crystal clarity.

"Oh hi Dolores, it's Amber here. I'm here for tonight's party."

A short burst of the same incomprehensible metallic voice filled the air once more, followed by a clanking sound as the gates began to automatically open. Immediately the woman trotted back to her car, closed the door, revved the engine, and as a cloud of dust and gravel rose into the air, accelerated through the still moving gates.

For a few seconds, Saskia remained in her hiding place, watching and listening as the car shot off down the avenue of trees and the roar of the motor died away. Gradually, the dust settled and she found herself staring at the open driveway. It took a few seconds more for her to realise that the gates had only just reached their widest limits, and were now - extremely slowly - beginning to revert to their former, closed state. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Leaping across the road in two bounds, Saskia reached the gates whilst there was still ample room for her to squeeze her lithe form through the ever narrowing gap. For a moment she simply stood motionless in the driveway, almost unable to believe that she was now within the grounds of the mysterious mansion. A sudden crash of metal on metal made her jump and brought her out of her trance. The gates had now shut behind her, and if her experience of trying to open them from the outside was anything to go by, then she was now trapped within the walled enclosure that was Shackleton Grange.

So what should she do now? Approach the house and search for whatever clues she could find pertaining to the missing women seemed to be the obvious answer, although for some reason she hesitated. What if she was being watched? Were there cameras recording her every move? Movement sensitive monitors perhaps? Or maybe even just plain old fashioned security guards patrolling the grounds? For these reasons, Saskia spurned the well worn track that led directly towards the foreboding manor house up ahead, and instead kept just within the tree-line that ran parallel to the unmade road. Darting from the cover of one tree to the next, she soon came to the spot where woodland gave way to more regimented landscape, although the once grand gardens now appeared to have a neglected, return-to-the-wild look about them, as if nobody bothered attending to the formerly well manicured lawns or lovingly kept flowerbeds on a regular basis.

Saskia was just debating with herself on her next course of action, when the unmistakeable sound of the gates opening once more, was followed by the appearance of another car speeding up the driveway towards the house. From behind the biggest tree in the vicinity, she watched as the car circled the disused fountain that stood directly in front of the house and came to a sharp halt. Within seconds, three young females spilled out onto the forecourt, their good humoured chattering and giggling echoing around the stonework of the ancient building. All three were dressed in figure hugging outfits similar to that worn by the previous arrival. The three quickly retrieved their suitcases from the boot of the car, before hurrying up the steps to the main entrance. As they did so, the driver - also seen to be a woman, with long, flowing black hair - drove off around the side of the house and within seconds had disappeared from sight.

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Saskia bit her lip. There were obviously a lot of people in the house, with more turning up all the time. Should she abandon her mission now, or risk being spotted and confronted as a trespasser? In some ways, the fact that there were a lot of visitors today could be seen as a good thing, as it meant that one more stranger might not be noticed amongst the throng. But was her outfit too conspicuous? All the females she'd encountered so far seemed to be wearing second skins of latex or spandex, or some such substance. Saskia glanced down her body towards her feet. As she thought of herself as being on duty - although officially she wasn't - she had dressed as professionally as she did on normal work days. She was therefore attired in a silk blouse, short skirt and smart jacket, with her legs sheathed in sheer black tights. On her feet she wore flat soled shoes; not her favoured form of footwear, but a concession to comfort over style, as she'd reasoned that heels might be a hindrance should she need to walk any great distance.

This outfit, therefore, didn't appear to conform to the dress-code at Shackleton Grange, and she would, it was fairly obvious, stick out like a sore thumb if she was seen. But what else could she do? The gates were locked and she would probably have difficulty getting away, so she reasoned that the only logical course of action was to carry on with her investigation. If she got caught, then she would have to think up a story to explain her presence here, although what this work of fiction might entail she hadn't yet decided. Perhaps she could make out that she was lost? But this probably didn't really ring true, as the place was surrounded by high walls. She was here for the party? But surely that could be checked and found to be a lie. Maybe her best bet would be to tell the truth - or at least a concocted tale containing elements of the truth - namely that she was a journalist following a lead on a story.

But deliberating on what she would do if she was apprehended was getting her nowhere. Casting aside all thoughts surrounding the pros and cons of what to do if caught, Saskia decided that action was the only way forward. There seemed to be a lull in activity at present, with nobody visible and no telltale car engines to warn of impending arrivals. Briskly and self-consciously, Saskia hurried across the courtyard towards the house; continually glancing up at the many windows before her to check if anyone had clocked her approach. Reaching the wall, she stopped and looked from side to side. At this point she realised that she was breathing faster than normal, and she detected a slight tremor in her hand. So now where did she go? There was no point in simply trying to gain access via the main door, so her only alternative was to have a snoop around to see if she could get some sort of clue as to exactly what was going on here. How this was going to lead to her solving the mystery of the missing women, she had no idea, but the fact that something was taking place today, as witnessed by the young ladies turning up in their unusual outfits, had her intrigued. If nothing else, she could always write an article on the odd nature of the parties that took place in the heart of the sleepy Suffolk countryside.

A sudden burst of female voices away to her left made Saskia momentarily freeze. Although the source of the sound remained beyond her sight, Saskia knew that at any moment she could be spotted. Suddenly galvanised into action, she sprinted away from the sound, towards the corner of the building away to her right. She covered the distance in only a few seconds and concealed herself from view. Now shaded from the sun by the imposing wall that rose above her, Saskia kept moving; determined to find some way into the building if at all possible. Glancing in each ground floor window as she passed, the first two rooms she encountered were devoid of human activity, whilst the third was obscured by heavy, drawn curtains. It was when she reached the fourth window along, that her curiosity was piqued by the scene being played out within.

The window was high enough above the ground for Saskia, at five feet four inches tall, to just about peer in if she stood on tiptoes. This particular window was standing slightly ajar, and the murmur of female voices within told her that the room was occupied. Putting her face to the glass, it took a few seconds for Saskia's vision to adjust to the relatively dark interior, but when her focus sharpened to the conditions, she gasped in amazement. The three women that she'd seen so recently get out of the car were present, as were two or three others that she'd not encountered before. All bar one of them were standing around the final member of the group, who was seen to be lying on the floor. Well, not exactly lying perhaps...more forcibly compelled to remain where she was by the application of what looked like a thousand feet of tightly bound ropes. With her wrists tied together behind her back and her elbows pulled as close to each other as they would go, the woman had then had her legs bent up behind her and more ropes added to keep her feet and hands restrained in close proximity to each other. What was this type of torture known as? From somewhere Saskia dredged up the word 'hog-tie' from the depths of her memory. But if this posture looked both inescapable and painful, what shocked the watching Saskia more than anything, was the fact that the victim was laughing and joking with the other women in the room, who were clearly responsible for her unenviable state. In fact, as their voices reached the trespasser's ears, she realised that the bound woman was berating her colleagues for not having gagged her. This oversight was quickly remedied, however, as one of the cat-suited females bent down beside her willing victim and stuffed some sort of rolled up material into the willingly opened mouth. Another woman now joined her cohort in the kneeling position and began winding several circuits of heavy duty tape around the helpless woman's face. With this task completed, the two stood up again and joined the rest of the audience in watching as the bound girl now began struggling and wrestling with her bonds. This caused much amusement amongst the assembled group, not least from the restrained woman herself, who giggled into her gag as she rolled around the floor in her helplessness.

Saskia stood open mouthed watching the unfolding scene. Why would anyone want to submit to such stringent torment? So mesmerised had she become by the strange drama taking place only the thickness of a pane of glass away from her, that she failed to detect the approach of four other females until they were almost upon her.

"Just what do you think you're doing here?"

Saskia jumped at the sound of a voice directly behind her, and turned in an instant to find a tall woman with long wavy hair of a similar colour to her own standing only feet away. She was wearing a bright red skin-tight latex cat-suit with a broad leather belt around her slim waist. On her feet she wore knee length leather boots with ultra high heels. Behind her, Saskia could see that her inquisitor was accompanied by three other women, dressed in similar attire to their colleague save for the fact that their outfits were of different colours; one in black, one pink and the third in silver. Also in contrast to the leader of the group, was the fact that these clearly subservient beings wore contour hugging hoods over their heads in the same hue as their outfits. These obscured all facial features save for the eyes and nostrils, with the only clue to their hair colour being deduced from the plume that sprouted from the backs of their heads in ponytail form. But Saskia's inspection of these unusually dressed women was soon interrupted by the voice of the leader of this patrol.

"I asked you what you were doing here. This is private property and you're trespassing. Now state your business or be on your way."

With fumbling fingers, Saskia retrieved her press badge from the pocket of her jacket and waved it under the nose of the woman who was standing no more than two feet away, towering menacingly over her. Her attempted explanation for her presence was both garbled and rambling. It was also a mixture of truth and fiction, as she tried to articulate the reasons for turning up here uninvited.

"My name's Saskia Lynton and I'm a reporter for the Suffolk Standard. I'm investigating the disappearance of a woman...well two women actually...and I've been reliably informed... well someone in the village told me...that one of them might have been on her way here when she disappeared...and I noticed lots of people turning up here today..and there was talk of strange activities - wild parties in fact - taking place here...and the gates were open... so I came in to see what was going on...I'm sorry, I didn't know that this was private property...I'll leave straight away... if you'll just open the gates for me...I'll..."

Saskia stopped in mid flow, as she saw that the woman, whose face had been stern and angry up until now, was smiling at her.

"Well you've got the bit about the party right, as we're having what we call our BATH night, this evening. As for missing women, however, I don't know who your informant might be, but they're way off the mark with that one. What do you think we do here, kidnap young damsels and hold them against their will?"

It was a rhetorical question, and Saskia was given no opportunity to respond anyway, as the woman continued without a pause.

"But if you don't believe me, I can show you around and let you see that I've got nothing to hide. As you've obviously already gathered from what you've just witnessed, our main focus here is on bondage in all its wonderful forms and varieties. But none of the girls attending today is being held against their will, I can assure you of that. Everyone is here because they either like tying or being tied."

Suddenly, an idea seemed to come to her.

"I'll tell you what, come inside and have some tea, and I'll give you an interview on what the BATH society and philosophy is all about. There's a lot of misinformation and bullshit spread by ignorant people about our work here - and bondage in general - so maybe you could print a more favourable piece in your paper and let the world know that we're quite a harmless lot really."

Saskia had no idea what BATH stood for, and was in completely uncharted territory when it came to the 'art' - if that was what it could be classified as - of tying someone up. But maybe being granted an interview would be an enlightening experience, and a tour of the house could perhaps either dispel or confirm any suspicions that she had about the missing women having ever been here.

Without further prompting, the woman moved off towards a side door situated a few yards from where they had been standing. For a millisecond, Saskia baulked at the idea of leaving the relative safety of the brightly lit outdoors and venturing inside the dark confines of the house. After all, two women had disappeared without trace in the vicinity recently. Was she about to become the third? She quickly banished such thoughts from her mind, however. She was a reporter, she told herself, and getting the biggest stories was always going to be fraught with elements of danger. So, with curiosity taking precedence over caution, she found herself obediently following the retreating latex-clad figure. As they neared the entrance, she glanced back to find that one of the hooded girls had fallen in behind her, whilst the other two were flanking her on either side, as if ensuring that she didn't stray from the route chosen for her. Saskia's mind was a whirl of conflicting thoughts and emotions now, as the woman led her into a house which - she still had her suspicions - could be harbouring at least one, if not two vanished women. What questions should she ask? Should she start by asking about the so called parties that were thrown here, then gradually build up to the allegation that something underhand, not to mention illegal, might be going on? But it seemed her questions would have to wait, as the woman remained silent and aloof while she led the way further into the maze of dimly lit corridors.

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Saskia found herself being ushered into a high ceilinged parlour, where the embers of a fire still burnt in the hearth, despite the warmth of the day. Beckoning her guest to sit in one of two armchairs arranged on either side of the fireplace, the woman gave orders for her troops to organise tea for herself and her visitor. The three women hurried away without a word - if indeed they were capable of speech with their mouths masked by the hoods that all but covered their heads. Once ensconced in the chair opposite her unexpected caller, the woman began by introducing herself.

"My name is Dolores by the way, or Mistress Dolores as I'm more formally known. I do hope that you're open minded and prepared to report what I'm about to tell you accurately and without bias. So many people just don't understand bondage, and as with many things in life, what they don't understand, they ridicule, shun and demonise in their ignorance."

Saskia had been sitting in silence up to now, but this wasn't for lack of something to say. In fact, a million and one questions sprung to mind. And she was conscious that, as a journalist, she needed to be probing Dolores' every utterance.

"So how many people are there in your circle of bondage friends and acquaintances?"

She realised the question was rather lame, but this was the first thing that came into her head.

"You'd be surprised, my dear. My regular list of clients to our classes, parties and conventions, runs to several hundred. People come from all over Britain, and even from continental Europe, just to sample the lifestyle we lead. And further afield, I correspond and keep in touch with people all over the world; America, Asia, Africa, Australia...even Antarctica."

Saskia was stunned by the final location.

"Antarctica? Surely no one lives there, do they?"

"Oh yes, there are lots of bondage aficionados on my contacts list from out there..."

Dolores gazed at the dying embers in the grate for a second or two and furrowed her brow, as if bemused by some unfathomable conundrum, before continuing.

"...Mind you, they do all seem to be ninety six years old."

The conversation was temporarily brought to a halt by the reappearance of one of the servant girls - the one in the shiny black second skin - carrying a tray laden with teapot, cups and saucers. She automatically placed this on a sideboard at the far end of the room from where Saskia and her interviewee sat.

"Would you pour for us please Crystal?"

Dolores turned back to Saskia.

"How do you take your tea? Milk and sugar?"

Declining the sugar, Saskia watched as the obedient employee poured the steaming liquid into two cups, then sauntered across and placed them on the low table in front of the fire. Having done her duty, she immediately left the room, closing the door behind her.

"Now where were we? Oh yes, I was just about to tell you about the nature of the organisation I run here. It's called 'Bound and Totally Helpless' or BATH for short."

Dolores took a sip of her tea and leant back in her chair.

"Do drink your tea while it's hot, won't you? I always feel that there's nothing worse than a cold cup of tea."

Saskia lifted her cup and took a gulp of tea. She hadn't realised how thirsty she was until the first mouthful of the warm liquid hit her throat. Swiftly, she took a second swig. Looking over, she noticed Dolores watching her, a slight smile etched on her face. It would be a minute of two more before she realised that this was actually an evil smirk that sent out the message 'You've just fallen right into my little trap'.

Dolores resumed talking about the activities that took place at Shackleton Grange, but within a few seconds, Saskia found her concentration slipping, and the words that spilled from her host's mouth began to seem nonsensical and garbled. With ever increasing difficulty, she tried to keep focused on what Dolores was saying, but as the seconds dragged by, the meaning of the words became ever more incomprehensible to her. Not only that, but her vision was becoming blurred, and the image of the woman sitting opposite her began to appear hazy and the room started to spin. Through the mist that seemed to have descended all around her, she saw the figure in the bright red outfit suddenly stand and move towards her. From somewhere close at hand, a seemingly disembodied voice slurred the words,

"What's happening to me?"

It took her several seconds to realise that it was actually her own voice that had raised this query, but by then she was already slumping forwards in her seat, with the Persian rug that lay in front of the fire suddenly looming large before her. She expected to hit the floor with a thump, but no such collision transpired. Or if it did, Saskia was no longer aware of its occurrence...or of anything else for that matter.

Chapter 17 - The Party (added: 2017/10/15)

A short series of slaps to the face was the catalyst that brought Saskia back into consciousness. These blows weren't particularly hard, but they had the desired effect of forcing her to open her eyes and stare groggily at the person responsible for this assault upon her cheeks. As her eyes regained their focus, they made contact with those of another female only a few inches in front of her. These eyes, however, were about the only feature visible in a face otherwise covered from neck to crown of the head in a vivid pink hood which appeared almost glued to the contours of the wearer's face. Saskia also received the impression that she was staring upwards at this woman, as if she were laid out on the floor, or maybe a bed. Behind the masked woman, another woman could be viewed, standing only feet away and looking down on the scene before her. She was wearing a bright red cat-suit that was moulded to every curve of her body, and the sight of this vision in crimson brought back to Saskia where she was and what she was doing here, although the exact circumstances of how she'd fallen asleep were a bit hazy.

"Well, Saskia, it looks like we used exactly the right dose of that drug in your tea for our purposes; just enough to knock you out while we got you all kitted out, but not too much so that you'd miss the party. I know you'll feel a little disorientated for a few minutes, but that will soon pass."

Saskia tried to sit up, but for some reason her arms didn't seem to want to follow the instructions sent by her brain. She deduced very quickly, however, that she was no longer in the clothes that she'd been wearing when she arrived at Shackleton Grange. In their place, she seemed to be wearing a figure embracing garment of some description that compressed and constricted her body and limbs, from her ankles up to her neck and down to her wrists. Craning her neck upwards from her horizontal position, and looking down her body, she noticed the outfit was in black, and it quickly became apparent that she had been poured into a latex cat-suit; probably similar to that worn by everyone else she'd so far encountered in this strange house.

But it wasn't the clothing that she'd been dressed up in whilst she slept that really concerned her now, but the accessories that went with it. For it now became clear that the reason for her arms refusing to function, was that they were pulled tightly behind her back and had then been ensconced in what felt like a single narrow tube of soft yet durable leather, which made it impossible to separate one limb from the other. Even her hands and fingers seemed to have been encased within this debilitating mitten, and at regular intervals up her arms she could feel pressure points, where some agent had been applied to keep them pinned together. Saskia pulled and strained as hard as she could, but quickly realised that she was trapped, and that the tightness that she felt around her wrists, elbows and upper arms was caused by straps used to ensure she couldn't slip her hands free. And if this wasn't bad enough, more straps - or what amounted to a body harness, in fact - had been placed around her torso, in order to lash her arms tightly against her back. And just to add insult to injury, it seemed, from the pressure being exerted around her ankles, knees and thighs, that her legs had fared no better than her upper regions when it came to the restraining process.

Twisting and turning in her new found helplessness proved an utterly futile pursuit, and quickly informed her that release was not within her grasp. By now, the pink suited figure had backed away and left the room, leaving only Dolores standing directly in front of Saskia's prone form; legs apart and hands on hips, a mocking smile etched on her face. Saskia gazed up at her tormentor with wide, disbelieving eyes.

"What have you done to me? Where are my clothes? Let me out of this!"

Dolores sighed and knelt down beside her.

"Well my little amateur detective, it's like this. You seemed so keen to discover what goes on at Shackleton Grange, that I thought I'd make this a night you won't forget in a hurry. You see, there's a world of difference between spectating and actually taking part. You might get some idea of what we do and why we do it if you simply stand on the sidelines and watch others enjoying themselves, but that's only really informative on an academic level. To get a real insight into bondage - to experience it physically, mentally and emotionally, or perhaps, if you're lucky, spiritually even - you need to get hands-on and live the lifestyle for a while. So I've decided to let you sample the delights for yourself. Hence the outfit and the rather fetching restraints my servants have put you in. You're very honoured you know. Not many people outside my circle of friends and customers get to witness what you'll get a chance to experience firsthand tonight."

Saskia simply couldn't believe what she was hearing. But as Dolores stood up and walked towards the door, she began bucking and struggling for all she was worth. Okay, so she'd been intrigued to a certain degree as to what all this bondage malarkey was about, but never for a moment had she actually entertained the notion of taking part in any of these perverted activities...especially not from a position of vulnerability where things were completely beyond her control, as they now seemed to be.

As Dolores reached the exit, she turned and, seeing Saskia's frenzied endeavours, smiled once again.

"I can assure you that all that struggling will come to nothing, and simply tire you out. Just relax and let yourself be engulfed by the sheer enjoyment of your captivity. You never know, you might even grow to like it. I do hope so, as I'm expecting a good write up in your paper. Unfortunately, you won't be in a position to take down any notes this evening. But I'm sure the night's events will remain vivid in your memory for many years to come."

She turned to leave.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and greet my other guests. My girls will finish getting you ready and bring you along to join the party in a short while. I'll see you later."

With the Mistress now departed, Saskia was left to her own devices for a few moments, prior to the three servant girls that she'd encountered earlier filing back into the room. During this brief period of solitude, she was able to more closely scrutinise the nature of her attire and the efficiency of the bondage that she'd been subjected to. She now realised that she was lying on soft bedding, with her arms sunk deeply into the pliable mattress beneath her. The rest of the room was sparsely furnished, with only a chair and small bedside table in evidence. Away to her left, heavy curtains had been drawn across the only window, shutting out any natural light; the only illumination being provided by an overhead, unshaded light bulb of low wattage.

Saskia sat up as best she could; not easy with her arms pinioned to her back and the surface on which she lay being so supple and yielding. When she did manage to position herself so that she could gaze down towards her feet, she was greeted by the sight of a shiny black one piece outfit which clung faithfully to the outline of her body and legs. Gazing at her toes, she noticed that these too were enclosed in the same tightly clinging fabric, informing her that the cat-suit was footed.

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Over this second skin, however, a network of stringently secured straps encircled and zigzagged their way across her breasts and stomach, culminating in a strategically placed strip of leather that disappeared between her legs and dug deeply into her crotch whenever she made even the slightest movement. Further down, her lower limbs had also fallen foul of this devious plot to ensure she didn't try to leave, as she counted no less than five severely taut straps ringing her legs from the tops of her thighs, down to her ankles.

Still somewhat groggy from her drug-induced slumbers, Saskia struggled to clear her mind and make sense of this whole situation. It just had to be a joke, right? This Dolores woman had caught her sneaking around her property, had heard her tale of missing women, and had decided to have a joke at her expense. In a few minutes she would walk back through that door, untie her and they'd all have a good laugh at how they'd duped the reporter into thinking that something sinister was taking place here. Or at worst, she would indeed be wheeled out at this party and made fun of by those present, then released once the festivities came to a close.

But what if this wasn't the case? What if she had been right all along and there really was some truth to the kidnapping theory? She was investigating the disappearance of two women, but had she just inadvertently become statistic number three? The realisation that this could be a possibility caused Saskia to redouble her efforts to free herself from the severely restrictive straps and bondage mitten that held her in check. But as she should already have known, this was never going to meet with any success, and after only a few seconds she resigned herself to the fact that her only way out of this mess was with outside assistance.

So if escape was impossible, then her best bet, she figured, was to try to talk her way out. In other words, negotiate her release. Ideally, it would have been best to reason with Dolores. But as she was no longer around to seek an audience with, her subordinates would have to suffice instead. As if on cue, the three strolled back into the room just as this plan was forming in her head. The snag was that, with the latex masks covering their mouths, they were probably incapable of conversing in the normal manner. But even so, when Saskia began to recite her hastily prepared speech aimed at obtaining an early end to her captivity, they seemed oblivious, or maybe simply unmoved, by her heartfelt plea for leniency. But worse than this, the fact that she could speak and they couldn't seemed to offend them, and the actions that followed put paid to any future opportunity Saskia might have had of using reason to extricate herself from a situation that was getting more worrying by the second.

At first, Saskia had no conception of what the soft rubber ball was for. Even as one of the mute attendants held this up to within inches of her face, the fact that she was still concentrating all her efforts on convincing the trio to undo the straps and free her arms, consequently meant that she failed to recognise exactly where this spongy sphere was destined to end up. So it wasn't until the ball actually touched her lips and was thrust into her still speaking mouth, that the penny dropped, and she realised that their mission was to silence her. Once aware of their goal, Saskia resisted as best she could, by clamping her mouth shut and shaking her head from side to side, in an effort to dissuade them from completing their task. But three against one was never good odds, especially when the one was bound and unable to move freely, and within seconds her jaw had been forced open, the tightly squeezed ball rammed into the cavity behind her teeth and her mouth forcibly held shut. With the orb now re-expanded to fill the available space and her tongue pinned to the floor of her mouth, any thoughts of meaningful communication were immediately nullified.

Even so, the women were nothing if not thorough, and whilst two of them held her head still, the third began placing something over her face. The smell of rubber filled Saskia's nostrils, and everything went dark. Briefly, she assumed that she was being suffocated and panic set in. But after no more than a second or two, her vision returned, as did the ability to breathe through her nostrils. Initially the area around her mouth also seemed to remain free from the taut material that compressed hard against her facial muscles. But this potential outlet, through which she still had hopes of ridding herself of the foul tasting rubber ball, was soon closed off by the drawing of a zip fastener from left to right across her lower face, thus sealing her lips. With her hair being pulled backwards, the claustrophobic head covering was stretched to its limits around her head, and seconds later the sensation of fingers tightening the laces at the back of her skull coincided with the pressure around her temples, cheeks and jaw becoming ever more acute. Saskia screamed for all she was worth, but the ball, plus the layer of latex stretched across her mouth, ensured that the sound which filtered through registered at only a fraction of the decibel level she'd intended. Nor were her words, as she demanded to be released at once, recognisable as any kind of coherent speech.

Saskia's situation seemed to be getting worse by the minute, and the application of the gag made the hope that this was all just part of a game recede rapidly from her mind. However, for a few seconds now, the actions of the three servant girls gave her some cause for optimism that her ordeal was indeed about to end, although ultimately this was to prove a false dawn.

Pulling the helplessly bound and frightened young journalist up into a sitting position and swinging her trussed legs over the side of the bed, Saskia was overjoyed to watch as the three worked in unison to release the painfully tight strapping that kept her limbs welded together from thigh to ankle. But unfortunately, this brief ray of light in an otherwise extremely bleak state of affairs, was soon shown to be only a brief respite. For the removal of her leg restraints proved to be merely a temporary measure; a necessity whilst this unholy trinity continued their preparations for getting their charge all dolled up and ready for her entrance to the party.

The knee length leather boots into which her feet were now being crammed, fitted even more snugly once they had been securely laced up from calf to ankle. But what blew Saskia's mind about this alien footwear, was the height of the heels. At around seven or eight inches long, she had never encountered anything so hideously daunting in all her life, and she was certain straight away that walking in these potentially dangerous monstrosities was going to be a nightmare. And so it proved once her three attendants had pulled her to her feet, although the addition of metal cuffs that locked firmly around her ankles and were connected to one another by a stout chain of no more than six inches in length, didn't exactly help matters in this regard. With her feet almost at right angles to the floor, Saskia teetered and wobbled precariously on these thin stiletto blades, although she took some comfort from the fact that she had three ladies-in-waiting to ensure she didn't take a nasty tumble. One of the trio was now busy fixing the final addition to her already myriad array of bonds; a leather collar that buckled tightly around her neck, to which was attached a metal chain leash around two feet long. Once this had been fitted, a sharp tug in the region of her throat informed Saskia that she was now being required to move.

Taking tiny steps, not only due to the hobbling effect of the short chain which prohibited a longer stride, but also for fear of twisting an ankle or falling flat on her face, Saskia found herself being led out of the small bedroom and into a narrow, gloomy corridor. From somewhere in the distance, she could now vaguely hear the persistent throb and thump of bass and drums penetrating the walls and floors of this ancient mansion. And as they walked on at a snail's pace, the music gradually increased in volume, until the entire building seemed to shake and vibrate to the rhythm. The trek that Saskia was now being forced to undertake was not, in truth, a particularly long one, and under normal conditions would probably have been completed in no more than a minute or two. But in her restrained and unsteady state, it seemed to take forever. With her three guards now showing no signs of offering support should she stumble, Saskia's every step had to be taken with great care and attention. The constant pull on her neck as she was encouraged to keep moving, plus the perilous heels that threatened to give way at any second, meant that she was forced to walk with an unnatural forward stoop for the duration of the journey.

After what seemed like an eternity, the corridor gave way into a marble floored foyer, from which many doors led off on all sides. All were shut save for one, and it was from this direction that the now very loud music emanated. Through the open double doorway, Saskia could see lights flashing in time to the beat. And at the entrance to this vast ballroom stood Dolores, welcoming her guests as they made their way inside. Having just exchanged pleasantries with two women in black spandex outfits, one of whom had her wrists handcuffed behind her back whilst her colleague carried a leather whip, Dolores excused herself and sauntered over to where Saskia still swayed uneasily on her unfamiliar matchstick thin heels. Over the throbbing rhythm, the hostess offered her greetings.

"Ah Saskia, glad you could join us. I must say you do look delightful all suited and booted up like that. I hope that arm-binder is to your liking. Much more comfortable to spend the evening in than rope or handcuffs, wouldn't you agree?"

She stretched out her hand and ran it slowly across Saskia's latex covered breasts, causing a shiver to course up the latter's spine, but a short laugh to spring from the throat of the former.

"Well, do go inside and enjoy yourself. There are plenty of girls here just dying to meet you. Nearly everyone's dressed up in similar fashion to yourself tonight, and at least fifty percent of them are in some kind of restraint, so you shouldn't feel too out of place."

Dolores stood aside and motioned for Saskia to proceed through the doorway, beyond which could be seen a multitude of women in skin-tight costumes and tight bondage. As Saskia was urged forward by her handlers, Dolores delivered one final cryptic remark.

"Oh, I almost forgot. As our guest of honour tonight, I've got a little surprise for you later on."

Entering the closely packed melee, Saskia looked around in wide eyed astonishment at the assembled crowd. There must have been somewhere in the region of two hundred people packed into the room; all females by the looks of it. Strobe lights flashed out across the gathered throng and a disco glitter-ball overhead sent out fractured shafts of coloured light in every conceivable direction; immersing the mass of bodies in a strange kaleidoscope of ever changing tinted patterns. Along one wall, on white clothed tables, a lavish buffet had been laid out, whilst on the opposite side of the room, a bar had been set up, serving alcoholic beverages to the guests.

But as Dolores had already hinted, many of the assembled multitude were incapable of taking in liquid refreshment, as gags of every possible description were in evidence in half of these women's mouths, and many wore hoods that masked their lower faces or strapping that held their jaws shut. But even if their mouths had been capable of imbibing the free flowing drinks, they would have found holding a glass to their lips impossible, as every one of the silenced women also bore the results of stringent, secure and inescapable bonds that held their arms in check; in most cases behind their backs, except for the few wearing straitjackets - either canvas or leather - whose arms were held across their chests.

But for each of these tied, manacled, trussed and shackled women, there seemed to be a companion who remained unfettered, and who offered her full attention to her bound partner. Many of these couples were dancing to the endless sounds blasting from giant speakers at the far end of the room; the dominant member of the duo ensuring that her companion stayed upright. Others stood around at the periphery of the room, mingling and conversing with other couples. There seemed to be a great deal of hands-on action in evidence, with many of the submissive partners having their bodies stroked, caressed and fondled, or in some cases teased and tormented or even tortured, by those whose hands were free to do such things. And when she gazed around the room, Saskia could see that, far from shying away from these advances, the submissive member of each team appeared to be visibly enjoying the attention she was receiving, or in many cases actively encouraging it. Not only that, but the relationships seemed somewhat fluid, with many of the unbound women willingly allowing others to touch and tantalise their partner. In fact, after a few minutes, Saskia realised that partner swapping was occurring on a regular basis, with only very few of those present remaining with the person with whom they'd initially entered the room.

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Still under guard from Dolores's silver suited helper, Saskia stood on the sidelines watching the unfamiliar antics going on around her for several minutes, as the music pounded and the ever moving horde bobbed and weaved around the room in a perpetually moving random procession of frisky females. It seemed to the watching reporter to be a free-for-all, where anything goes. The one common denominator, aside from the fact that all present were female, was the dress code, which appeared to be figure hugging, contour clinging second skins of latex, spandex, PVC or leather. And the claustrophobic nature of the closely packed partygoers, meant that these swarming skin-tight bodies were becoming ever more sweat soaked in the increasing heat given off by so many excited, writhing young women.

"So Saskia, how are you enjoying the party so far?"

In her bewilderment at the strange events taking place only feet away, together with the throb of the music, Saskia hadn't been conscious of Dolores' approach. Now, however, her shouted words were just audible over the endless pulsating beat.

"You seem a little overawed by the nature of what you're witnessing at the moment, but don't worry, you'll soon get used to the way things happen at my parties. As you can see though, everybody's enjoying themselves...and the evening's only really just begun. You'll see in a few hours time that this is nothing compared to the mayhem once the drink and adrenalin really get flowing."

Momentarily, Dolores turned to hail one of her passing guests, who was leading another bound, gagged and blindfolded female by a chain attached to her neck. Having briefly exchanged pleasantries with the pair, she turned back to Saskia.

"Anyway, I think it's about time I introduced you to all my friends. After all, if you're going to be writing a favourable article about us, I want everyone to know who you are, so they can better interact with you. So I've arranged a special place for you to observe the proceedings from this evening, where you'll be able to see everything that's going on, and all the ladies here will be able to strut their stuff in front of you. Think of it as a bit like having the best seat at Wembley or the Royal Albert Hall."

Dolores took Saskia by the arm and began leading her across the crowded room. As they manoeuvred between the ever moving throng towards the far end of the ballroom, Saskia noticed for the first time, three cages suspended above the dancing and socialising masses. It soon became obvious that two of these metal barred constructions - which were tubular in shape and measured around six feet in height, with a horizontal diameter of approximately four feet - were each occupied by a cat-suited and bound woman. The third, however - the central one - remained empty. Hanging from the ceiling at approximately five feet above floor level, it was clear that the females who had been ensconced inside these metal prisons were there for the duration of the night, for the purpose of being ogled at, like caged animals in a zoo. One of the women was lying prone on the floor of her cage, unable to stand due to the severe hog-tie that she'd been bound in. Dressed in what looked like a shiny spandex one-piece outfit, her head was more or less invisible beneath a tightly fitting leather hood, although she had been allowed the luxury of watching the proceedings taking place below her through a single slit in the otherwise all-covering headwear that exposed her nose and eyes. The second female was similarly attired, but had been bound upright to a metal pole within her incarceration chamber, so that she was forced to remain in a rigidly vertical stance, gazing out over the festivities taking place only a yard or two away.

Three cages, one unoccupied. It didn't take Saskia long to suss out who the third of these elevated coops was intended for. As they drew nearer, she watched as the empty pen was lowered by means of a chain and pulley. A signal from Dolores in the direction of the female DJ bought the music to an abrupt halt, just as the cage reached the floor. At that point, a single spotlight fell upon the Mistress and all heads turned in her direction as she began addressing the gathered hordes.

"Welcome, ladies, to the latest BATH night party. I hope you're all getting in the mood for some serious bondage adventures. As always, feel free - if that's the right word - to experiment and hone your bondage techniques on whoever you want. And remember, 'if it isn't tight, it isn't right' "

An appreciative murmur rippled around the congregation at this point, during which Dolores paused until the hubbub died down.

"But tonight ladies, we are honoured to have a very special guest with us."

She took Saskia by the shoulder and urged her into the spotlight.

"This is Saskia, a journalist for some local newspaper or other."

Once again, a low rumble of voices could be heard from all around the room, only this time the sound was of a more disgruntled - or maybe even hostile - nature. Dolores, however, attempted to pacify the gathering.

"I know that we in the bondage community always get bad press, but Saskia here assures me that she's going to write a well balanced piece on our activities. And you never know, she might even end up as a convert to the cause. So I want you to make her feel welcome and show her just how much fun parties at Shackleton Grange can be."

As she was speaking, a noise from behind made Saskia turn her head. What she saw was the black suited member of Dolores' staff removing the padlock from a small door in the empty cage and pulling it wide open.

"Anyway ladies, I'm sure you're fed up with hearing me talk. SO LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!!"

A cheer rose all around as the music once more began to pound and echo around the cavernous room in which the bondage loving females were assembled. At this moment Saskia felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see the woman who had opened the cage door urging her in the direction of the metal pen. For a second or two, she resisted; self conscious about being put on show, and increasingly worried about the manner in which events were unfolding. Just how long was she going to have to stay trussed up and locked in this steel prison? And when the party was over, what would become of her then? Would she simply be released and told to go away and write her article? Or was there something else of a more sinister nature in the offing? Her momentary show of defiance, however, was soon nipped in the bud by the arrival on the scene of the other two servant girls, who promptly shoved her towards the entrance to the barred enclosure.

The door to the cage was small - less than three feet high - and therefore Saskia had to stoop to gain entry. This was achieved with encouragement from her three minders, who, although not inflicting pain on their guest, made it clear by their actions that refusal to take heed of their prompting would not be tolerated. No sooner had the heel of Saskia's trailing boot crossed the threshold of this oversized birdcage, than the sound of the door slamming shut was followed by the click of the securing padlock. Immediately, the threesome backed away, and seconds later Saskia experienced the sensation of the cage rising slowly into the air. Looking out, she gazed at the merrymakers below, some of whom were watching her ascent with amusement etched on their faces, as if they sensed her discomfort and embarrassment. Or maybe they knew something she didn't.

As her mobile place of confinement rose higher, Saskia's attention was drawn in the direction of the cage away to her left, only three or four feet away. As her line of vision and that of her hog-tied neighbour briefly synchronised, Saskia gazed into the eyes of the hooded girl. Unlike the other girls here, she seemed restless and uneasy in her bonds, and her eyes gave away the fact that she was not entirely delighted with the situation she found herself in.

Then, in a flash, recognition registered in Saskia's mind, although for several seconds she couldn't quite place where she'd seen this woman before. Then it hit her. Suddenly, the picture from the newspaper of the missing Londoner, Bethany, appeared vividly in her mind's eye. For a few seconds she didn't believe the evidence of her own eyes, but as her cage came to a grinding halt, she gazed down at the prone woman in the next cage, who was staring back at her, as if beseeching her for help. Now Saskia was certain. Although she could only see the area around this severely bound girl's eyes, and despite the fact that in the photo she had been smiling, whereas now she appeared anything but happy, Saskia knew that she'd solved the mystery regarding what had become of the vanished woman. And by deduction, if this was Bethany, then the chances were that the occupant of the other cage was Cathy, whose burnt out car had been found not far from here.

But, of course, this discovery was not something that Saskia could feel triumphant about at present. For if these two women were being held here against their will, it seemed likely that Dolores had just completed her hat-trick by securing a third unwilling captive. This thought caused Saskia to struggle against her bonds for half a minute or more, but the futility of this energy sapping exercise soon became clear, and she noticed below her that many of the gathered females were now watching her performance with great delight. Did all the attendees of tonight's bash know that Dolores kidnapped and kept certain women here under duress? Or were most of them oblivious to this fact, assuming that any show of defiance or cry for assistance was merely role play? Saskia suspected the latter. Despondently, she bent her knees, sank to the floor of her cage and gazed out at the revelry taking place all around her.

As the night progressed and the alcohol flowed, so the antics of the party-goers grew ever more outrageous, with more and more rope finding its way around those already bound, and even some of the free, supposedly dominant women discovering themselves bound and handcuffed after a while. Some couples switched roles midway through the evening, and partner swapping continued on a regular basis. After several hours, Saskia lost count of the number of women she saw being brought to orgasm by the means of crotch ropes and groping hands; many writhing on the ground in their enforced ecstasy. And all the while, the constant rhythm pounded and the bars of the cages vibrated in time to the heavy beat.

For much of the time, Saskia found herself ignored; the frolicking females having more pressing matters on their minds. At times though, a group of women would surround the cage and a hand would sneak its way through the bars, to briefly prod or stroke the tight latex cat-suited figure within. This unwanted attention had Saskia attempting to shrink away into a corner, although being circular, the cage offered no real hiding place from the prying fingers.

Once or twice, a curious reveller would approach and pull on the tightly secured strapping that held Saskia in check. "Ooh, it really is ultra-tight" she heard one girl comment to her companion during a brief lull in the music, after she'd given the straps around Saskia's lashed torso a thorough examination. Both giggled drunkenly as they wended their way back through the ever more riotously alcohol-fuelled rabble that filled the dance floor.

But it wasn't just those free to hold a glass that were getting drunk tonight, for every so often, Saskia would observe one of the bound females have her gag removed for a brief period, in order that alcoholic beverage of one description or another could be poured into her willing mouth. At one stage, a bottle of champagne was opened only a few feet from her suspended prison; the cork rocketing in her direction at lightning speed. Luckily, this projectile hit the bar of her cage and ricocheted back into the crowd, but this was followed by a stream of fizzing liquid that hit her face and upper body like a tsunami. Saskia was temporarily blinded by this unexpected shower, but after much blinking and eye rolling, she was able to focus on a wall of faces laughing and giggling at her discomfort.

But this wasn't the only drink that was to come her way that night. As the party began to wind down in what must have been the early hours of Sunday morning, and the crowd in the auditorium slowly started to thin, Saskia suddenly felt the cage in which she'd sat helplessly all evening begin to descend. Once landed, the pink-suited servant girl appeared, heading directly towards Saskia's place of captivity. In her hand she carried a bottle. Saskia watched as the woman took a small key and unlocked the padlock to her enclosure, before opening the door and stepping into the barred confines. Kneeling down, the girl showed no emotion in her eyes as she pulled back the zip from across Saskia's mouth, then grabbed the small portion of the gagging ball that was visible between her teeth and deftly began the extraction process. Saskia gasped as the rubber obstruction finally cleared her lips. Exercising her aching jaw momentarily, she was about to start begging for- or perhaps demanding - release from her fetters, when she noticed her latex clad attendant unscrew the top from the bottle. This close up view showed that the liquid within was a clear yellowy-brown colour, and she instantly recognised the label as one of the better known brands of Scotch whisky sold in supermarkets. She guessed straightaway what was to come, but her verbal protest lasted less than a second, as the bottle was placed close to her lips and tipped up to encourage the spirit to stream into her mouth. Saskia detested whisky at the best of times, so having it forced down her throat was never going to be an experience to relish. Unfortunately for her however, her personal attendant seemed to know exactly how to ensure that she took in the flowing liquid, by holding the bottle in one hand and her victim's nose with the other. Saskia began to thrash wildly as the burning liquid hit her throat and caused her to choke. But with her limbs out of commission, she was powerless to stop the gushing river of 40% proof alcohol making its way into her system. Her drinks provider seemed to know precisely how to maximise the intake of the intoxicating liquor, by pausing the stream every few seconds in order for Saskia to catch her breath, before resuming the task of getting her prey as drunk as possible in a short space of time.

Mercifully, after what seemed like ages, but was probably no more than a minute, Dolores' servant seemed satisfied that Saskia had partaken of a sufficient quantity for inebriation purposes. As the top was put back on the bottle and the latter placed to one side on the floor of the cage, Saskia could see, although her vision was already becoming blurry, that what had been a full bottle a short time ago, was now more than half empty. As her vision began to swim and the room appeared to revolve, Saskia could only look on as the soft ball with its now familiar tang was stuffed unceremoniously back into her mouth. Quickly, the rasping sound of the zip told her that her mouth was once again sealed.

Bleary eyed and feeling nauseous, Saskia watched in complete impotence as the woman backed out of the cage and relocked it. The room was spinning at breakneck speed now, making the already moving light reflected off the rotating disco ball mutate into surreal shapes that seemed to solidify then evaporate before her now heavily lidded eyes. People were still moving around the dance floor, and shouts and screams of joy still cut through the monotonous beat that seemed to have gone on forever. Saskia tried her best to focus on these activities, determined as she was to remain conscious. But the copious intake of alcohol had taken its toll, and gradually her eyes began to close and the sounds around her distorted and finally faded away to nothing.

When Saskia regained consciousness, all was quiet. Sunshine poured in through the tall windows of the ballroom, which suggested that it was now mid morning, if not later. Forgetting where she was, she tried to stand, but found herself still encumbered by the single sleeve and the severe straps that had been her constant companions for more than twelve hours now. As she tried to alter her position, the cage began to rock, a consequence of her metal prison cell having been once again hoisted up to swing freely five feet or more in the air. Looking down to either side, she noticed the other two cages resting on the wooden floor. Both had their doors open, with their former occupants nowhere to be seen. In fact, as Saskia's still sore eyes surveyed the rest of the room, she realised that she was completely alone in the vast hall, the double doors of which were shut.

Saskia's head pounded and thumped with the after effects of the whisky. With her mouth and throat feeling parched and dry she was desperate to rehydrate herself, but knew that this wasn't an option unless she could summon assistance. Tentatively she tried to vocalise her discontent at the fact that she was still bound and gagged, but the pathetic croak that filtered through the ball and the thick covering of latex that sealed her mouth, would hardly have been heard ten feet away, let alone through the walls of the room in which she had been abandoned.

So what was going to happen now? Part of her wanted to believe that Dolores would be as good as her word and allow her to leave, in order to write up her thoughts and feelings on last night's astonishing orgy of bondage. But deep down she knew that this was unlikely to happen. Especially as she now had evidence that Bethany, the missing woman from London, was being held captive here, and that Dolores' denial that she kidnapped and held young women against their will was nothing but a lie.

So how was she to extricate herself from this unenviable predicament? With escape out of the question, it seemed her only real chance lay in being rescued. But by whom, exactly? She'd told no-one she was coming here, which at the time had seemed a good idea, as everyone would, no doubt, have tried to dissuade her from undertaking what they would consider a foolish - not to mention dangerous - mission. Now, however, the fact that nobody knew where she'd gone was seen to be a grave error of judgement on her part. How long would it be before she was reported missing? Probably at least not until tomorrow morning, and even then, the fact that she hadn't turned up at the office would be unlikely to cause alarm bells to ring straight away, as she had been known to work from home on occasion. And even when her disappearance did finally register - with her boss, her work colleagues, her friends or relatives - they would have no reason to immediately think she'd been kidnapped, and even less idea of where she was being held. The bleak nature of her plight suddenly hit home with a vengeance, and she found herself writhing around her compact prison, desperately trying to achieve a freedom which she knew was beyond her means. Augmenting her fruitless struggles with muted attention seeking squeals, Saskia worked herself up into a frenzy, even though her splitting head and aching limbs cried out for rest and silence to aid her recovery.

But then she heard a sound, faint at first, but gradually increasing in volume until she could recognise the slow, methodical rhythm of high heels walking across uncarpeted flooring. All of a sudden, this clicking sound ceased and the doors were flung open. The dreaded figure of Dolores stood in the now open doorway, dressed in a tightly moulded black leather cat-suit with matching belt and knee length boots.

"Well well, if it isn't our intrepid reporter-cum-detective. So glad you could hang around to enjoy my little get-together last night. Sorry about the enforced binge drinking session, but I needed to make certain you didn't cause too much commotion whilst my guests slept. They've all gone home now, most of them a bit the worse for wear, but all saying how much they enjoyed the evening. I do hope that you enjoyed yourself too, and found the whole experience enlightening."

Slowly, she walked towards the caged female, the sharp pulse of her heels echoing around the high ceiling.

"But of course the big question is..."

She reached the cage and gave it a gentle shove, so that it began to swing from side to side.

"...what are we going to do with you now?"

Chapter 18 - A Clearer View of Things (added: 2017/11/11)

When Cathy again saw daylight after the conclusion of the ordeal she and Bethany had shared in the cellar, it was obviously late afternoon. Although the passing of the hours and days was not easy to gauge in her almost continuous state of sensory deprived imprisonment, a quick calculation told her that she had been held here for five days and five nights by this time, which meant that it must be Wednesday. So if Dolores' assertion that this effort to brainwash both herself and her fellow captive was to commence next week, there were still at least four days in the interim period to be negotiated and survived prior to this form of mental indoctrination being forced upon them. What was going to happen in the meantime? None of the probable scenarios bore too much thinking about.

It had taken the three mute and subservient minions only seconds to release Cathy from the strapping that had held her immobile against the wheel for all those countless hours, and once this task was complete, she had been left standing unhindered by bond or discouraging hand for several minutes, during which time she was allowed to exercise her cramped and sore muscles and get the blood flowing once more after so long in stretched out restraint. The possibility that she might try to escape, however, had of course already been thought of, with steps taken to ensure that this was never an option; the tight leather hood that lacked visual outlets having been placed around her head and locked at the neck prior to release from her straps.

After this brief respite, however, no mercy was shown in the rebinding process, as Cathy found her arms pulled with not inconsiderable force behind her back by one of Dolores' workforce, before the now familiar feel of cold steel against her wrists informed her that she was once again in the grip of solid, unbreakable handcuffs. Only after a collar had been placed around her neck and securely buckled, did Cathy experience the sensation of the claustrophobic headwear loosening and being pulled away from her head. With her hair tangled and matted, and no hands to sweep it out of the way, it took a few seconds for her to clear the lank tresses from her eyes. When she did, however, the first thing that caught her eye was Bethany - or more precisely, the all-covering cast in which Bethany remained encased - being loaded onto the same trolley on which she had been brought to the cellar all those hours ago. As at the time of her entrance, several straps were being used to ensure she didn't fall from the mobile bed during transit, before the blanket that had been used to obscure her during her arrival, was again utilised to cover her up just prior to departure. No sooner had this been completed, than two of the servants began manoeuvring the metal gurney towards the door which opened onto the gently sloping floor leading upwards into the main body of the mansion house.

Cathy was expecting at this point for the chain at her neck to become taut, as she was coaxed to follow the departing, rattling trolley. This didn't materialise for several minutes, however, by which time the sound made by Bethany's mode of transport had faded to nothing. Dolores had said nothing during this period, seemingly content to bide her time until the rumble of wheels over stone finally ceased. Only once she was sure that Bethany was well out of the way, did she beckon to her one remaining servant - the black cat-suited Crystal - to take hold of the leash and begin the process of leading her handcuffed prisoner out of the subterranean dungeon.

Although unencumbered by ankle cuffs or any other form of leg restraints, Cathy found the going difficult due to the stiffness in her legs, coupled with the weakness that had turned her knees to jelly due to the severe trauma brought about by her recent series of tortures. Cathy's enforced trek didn't stop at ground level, however, as once the main entrance hall had been reached, she found herself being persuaded to climb the main, ornate spiral staircase. The journey thus far had been made in silence. Only once the marble summit had been attained did Dolores - who was leading the way, with Cathy and her handler following in her wake - begin to elaborate on her plans for the next few days.

"I'm not going to make the mistake of parading either you or Bethany in front of my Bondage Class audience, either today or tomorrow, especially after what happened on the last occasion. As I mentioned, your training will start in earnest on Monday morning, so until then I'm going to allow you the best possible preparation for the experience ahead."

She stopped by a wooden door that looked virtually identical to all the others that they had passed by in their travels. After searching for a specific key from the bunch on her belt, she pushed hard on this centuries old obstruction, although the force she had to use suggested that the wood had warped, which seemed to indicate that this room wasn't used on a regular basis.

"So what I propose is for you to spend the next few days resting, relaxing, meditating and getting mentally prepared for the life you'll be leading once the training gets under way."

With the door finally open, she stood aside to allow Crystal to lead the reluctant guest into her new accommodation.

"I know you'll be resistant to the changes to your lifestyle at first, but you'll soon become acclimatised to the new regime that I have planned for you, especially with a little help from the technology and - what shall I call them? - chemical substances, which will aid you in your transformation."

The room's interior was cloaked in darkness, with the only light being provided by the open door.

"So like I said, ponder deeply on your circumstances, realise that there really are no other alternatives open to you, and I'm sure by the time Monday comes you'll have found an inner calm and be fortified for the challenges ahead."

As Dolores was speaking, Cathy found herself being urged to sit on the uncarpeted floorboards. At once she found the ever willing slave girl wrapping rope tightly around her ankles, before cinching and securing the bond. Dolores was still in full flow, her enthusiasm for her subject obvious.

"Of course, as you won't be able to see, hear, move or speak, there's very little you'll be able to do except use the time available to come to terms with everything that's happened to you , and philosophise on what you are about to become. I'm sure that peace of mind is just around the corner."

With Cathy's ankles taken care of, the binding routine moved up her legs to her knees, which swiftly received similar treatment to that employed on her lower legs.

"In the old days, monks and religious hermits used to wall themselves up in windowless cells no large than this room, in order to meditate. With no outside influences to distract them, and nothing else to do but think, they would - if they were lucky - obtain religious enlightenment."

The bond just below her knees now cut deeply into the drum-tight spandex, as her rigger repeated the process just above the joint.

"Now I'm not suggesting that you'll find God, or suddenly become enlightened as to the workings of the universe or the meaning of life, or anything of that nature. But the same principle applies. I'm sure that, on a different level, something of the sort will occur, and you'll come to see that a life of bondage and servitude is actually the most amazing thing that can happen to a girl like you. Just open your mind and feel it, live it, breathe it, embrace it. That's really all that's required."

Crystal had finished tying Cathy's legs and was rolling the stunned and fear-ridden woman over onto her stomach, pulling her bound ankles up behind her, and commencing the process of placing her into a strict hog-tie. The rope that connected Cathy's handcuffed wrists to her ankles was short and caused her body to arch backwards to its limits. But she was given little time to dwell on the discomfort caused by this addition to her woes, as more rope steadily found its way around her legs, arms and body, until any meaningful movement was curtailed, and she found herself left to writhe in her helplessness on the uneven, dirt-strewn floor. The final piece of rope to be applied was woven into the latticework of other cords on her abdomen, before being threaded through her legs, wound around the steel manacles at her wrists, then doubled back through the slim gap between her thighs and knotted off at her waist.

"If you ever start to have doubts about what I've just told you, then I'm sure that a few quick jerks on this rope will soon make you realise that I'm right, and that bondage can be a great deal of fun if you allow it to be."

As if to demonstrate, Dolores moved forwards and stood over Cathy's inert form. Grabbing the rope, she gave a short, sharp pull on it, so that it dug deeply into her captive's crotch. Cathy gasped through her gag as the coarse fibres bit deeply into her through the thin spandex of her cat-suit. Memories of the times that she'd been brought to orgasm in the past flashed through her mind, and for a split second she considered that - just maybe - Dolores might be right. As quickly as it had begun, however, the Mistress released her grip on the pleasure-inducing cord and she felt the pressure between her legs slacken somewhat.

"I'm not going to get you all hot and bothered right now Cathy. I'll leave you to decide when and how often you want to bring this little joy bringing mechanism into play. I'm sure you'll put it to good use over the coming hours. But before you do that, there are one or two more little adjustments we need to make to your bondage, to ensure you don't get distracted by outside sights and sounds."

As she spoke, Crystal bent down beside Cathy's head and gently swept the tangled hair away from the left side of her face. Suddenly, the hearing in her left ear became severely muffled, as something pliable yet solid was pushed into her aural cavity. Dolores was speaking again, but now the volume of her speech was much fainter, and reached Cathy through her right ear only.

"That wax will harden over time and create an efficient barrier to incoming sound. I'm sure you'll find..."

The rest of Dolores' utterance was dulled to the point of almost non-existence, as her servant packed a similar sound inhibiting piece of solidifying gel into her right ear. Cathy could still make out some barely audible disturbances vibrating on her eardrums, but the sound was so dim that it seemed to be merely a faraway whisper that could hardly be recognised as speech at all.

In dismay, Cathy craned her neck upwards to look at Dolores, as a pathetic whimpering sound managed to force its way through the cloth and tape gag that had been permanent features in and around her mouth now for more hours than she cared to remember. But the immaculately polished boots of her tormentor, as they strutted in high-heeled authority across the floor, were the last things she was to witness for a long time, as her black-suited rigger swiftly and dexterously placed a leather hood over Cathy's head, pulled the laces tight so that it moulded to the contours of her skull, and secured the neck area with a small padlock. Needless to say, this was one of the more sensory restrictive hoods, with no facility for either eyes or mouth; the only outlets being two tiny slits at the nostrils.

An extremely weak thudding noise briefly impinged on Cathy's now all but obscured hearing, followed by what she deduced was the distant echo of a key turning in the lock. From that moment on, her world was one of complete darkness and silence.

For a few minutes Cathy half-heartedly struggled against the strict ropes that made movement of any description both painful and nigh on impossible. The location of the knot that secured her wrist manacles to her ankles was, she was soon to discover, a complete mystery, as her stretching fingers found no evidence of its whereabouts within their limited range of influence. And it soon transpired that none of the many other knots, hitches or cinches were about to yield to her strenuous efforts to in some way alleviate the extreme constraint in which her bonds conspired to hold her.

Was Dolores right? Could she really be brought around to truly believe that being bound and gagged for the rest of her life was something that she could tolerate, or even learn to love? Part of her found the whole concept offensive and vile. But even as she tried to dismiss the hideous notion that her destiny was to remain bound for all eternity, an inadvertent tug on the rope that ran with such taut proficiency between her thighs, told her that there might just be something in what Dolores was trying to tell her after all.

Bethany's wheeled ascent from the dungeon was followed by an interlude of probably half an hour or more, during which time the blanket remained draped over her hardened cast, with no interaction from the servants after the trolley had come to a halt. Simply happy to have survived the near death experience in the well, Bethany found the silence and solitude restful after so long in mental turmoil, and her eyelids gradually became heavier and heavier, until finally they closed.

Suddenly, however, there was a soft swishing sound close to her face, and the area around her eyes experienced a cooler waft of air as the blanket was pulled away. Now wide awake again, her gaze met that of Dolores', who was standing close at hand to her left, smiling.

"Well Bethany, it's been quite an eventful day for you, hasn't it? And to think that, if you hadn't kicked out at me and tried to help your little friend escape, then all of that unpleasantness could have been avoided."

The Mistress walked slowly towards Bethany's feet, then strolled casually around until she was on her captive's right hand side.

"Still, I suppose that it's understandable in a way, seeing as how I'd informed you that I was going to keep the pair of you tied up for months on end."

She sighed deeply and sauntered around Bethany's head, until she was back at her original starting point.

"But that's all irrelevant now. My plan was always to have some fun with you for a few days - such as the little escapade in the woods with Penny and Fang - before embarking on the long process of moulding you into clones of my three wonderfully submissive slave girls."

She paused for a moment, and rapped softly with her knuckles on the plaster cast, in the vicinity of Bethany's left breast.

"I've just made sure that Cathy is all safe and sound for the time being, but with you already enjoying such restrictive circumstances, there's really not much else for me to do here."

At the realisation that she wasn't about to be released from the cast, Bethany groaned loudly and tried to plead for compassion to be shown. It should have been obvious to her by now, however, that words like compassion, sympathy and leniency were absent from Dolores' vocabulary.

Over the next few minutes, the Mistress strutted continually around Bethany's prone form, whilst expounding a very similar message to that given to Cathy only minutes before; namely that her two prisoners were going to be given ample time to recuperate from their recent ordeal, by being kept in solitary confinement for the next couple of days, with only the occasional break for food, drink and a change of clothing.

"Maybe, if you're a good girl and don't whine and whinge too much, I might just have you cut out of all that horrible plaster in the morning. I can't promise anything though, as I'm a terrible one for changing my mind on things like that."

As she spoke these words, Bethany's eyes caught sight of a spool of duct tape in the Mistress' hand, which must have been lying on the side of the trolley. Finding the stuck down end and picking at it with her nail, Dolores quickly pulled away a length of around eight or nine inches, tore this off with her teeth, then leant forward and, without warning, slapped the wide grey strip down over Bethany's eyes.

"Goodnight Bethany. As I know you're into being tied up, I'm sure that this whole process will be a lot easier for you than it is for Cathy. I hope you enjoy your quality bondage time."

Dolores proved to be as good as her word, which resulted in the next sixty hours or so, for both Bethany and Cathy, being spent in almost entirely sensory deprived isolation. Thursday morning finally saw Bethany being cut out of her hardened shell; the process being an extremely nerve-wracking venture, as the sharp metal blades that sliced through the stubborn plaster came, on more than one occasion, within a fraction of an inch of piercing the spandex cat-suit worn beneath, and with it her tender flesh.

Thereafter, every twelve hours or so - although it's very difficult to gauge the precise timescale of things when you're being kept in darkness - each of the kidnapped young woman would have their bonds removed, then find themselves hurriedly disrobed, washed, fed and watered, before the binding process would once more commence, only in a different mode to the unfortunate woman's previous session; "Just to keep things interesting for you", as Dolores would explain to her securely bound detainees.

As was always the case where Dolores was concerned, the claustrophobic hoods were never removed whilst the wearer's hands were free. It seemed too, that Dolores had learnt from her previous experience of dealing with her unhappy guests; never allowing Cathy and Bethany in the same location at the same time, and ensuring that at least two of her servants were in attendance during these brief but welcome intervals in what was becoming a marathon ordeal for both prisoners.

Ball-ties, hog-ties and frog-ties; encasement in spandex sleep-sacks and vacuum beds; locked in tiny cupboards and coffin like boxes; ropes, straps, chains, tape, handcuffs and single-sleeve mittens; all these and more were employed to encumber and entrap the two women, whose battle-weary resistance was beginning to fail them, and whose grip on the passing of time and memory of the outside world were beginning to seem like alien concepts.

For Bethany, the past few days had left her with an emotional dilemma. No, of course she didn't want to spend month after month - possibly years - as a prisoner in this dark and dingy medieval fortress. And the tortures she'd been put through, both physical and mental, made her desire to be away from this place forever an almost constant theme in her troubled mind. Almost constant? Well there was one small nagging thought that cropped up every so often that would - briefly but powerfully - weaken her conviction. For Bethany could never quite dispel from her mind the reason that she'd come here in the first place; which was, of course, the deeply rooted longing to be tied up as tightly as was humanly possible and kept that way.

Although her time in the well had been life threatening and therefore extremely terrifying, as soon as the threat of drowning had been removed, and she was no longer in mortal danger, the notion of being held in tight restraints began to exhibit some kind of appeal once more. And once she'd been cut out of the plaster sheath that had made even struggling impossible, and was again bound in the more conventional handcuffs, ropes and tape, the ability to wriggle and writhe in her bonds began, on the odd occasion, to weave its magic spell on her. When this feeling came over her, she found the desire for freedom suddenly diminish, and the more she tried to fight her bonds, the greater this sensation became, until it almost overwhelmed her in its intensity. At times like this, she caught a glimpse of what life in terminal bondage would be like - and it wasn't as horrendous a concept as she would have at first thought. At such times the lure of the world outside would lose its appeal, and the idea that she would ever walk free again became anathema to her.

It proved, however, impossible to sustain this mood, and once her struggling stint had run its course, she found herself once more trying to hatch a plan that would get both herself and Cathy out of this hellish nightmare that they had become embroiled in.

"So Bethany and Cathy, you've been such good girls over the past few days, it seems that at last you've learnt your lesson. I hardly heard a peep from either of you, and my servants report that you've been no trouble at all during your feeding sessions and toilet breaks. Now if only you'd have been as obedient as that from the start, then we wouldn't have got off on the wrong foot, and all that disagreeable business in the cellar the other day could have been avoided. I've also been informed that damp batches have been noticed in a certain area of the cat-suits you've been wearing, which seems to suggest that you've been amusing - or maybe that should be abusing - yourselves during the long hours of solitude. This augurs well for the future, as you've obviously discovered that the application of a well placed rope can be a mind blowing experience."

It was the first time that Bethany and Cathy had been allowed any contact with each other since their departure from the cellar on Wednesday evening. Having been kept in solitary isolation with only minimal interference from Dolores or her helpers, both girls had lost all track of time, although the sun that shone with what seemed unnatural brilliance through the parlour window, informed them that it was now morning, and Dolores was soon to update them on what day of the week it was.

"Tonight I have a little get together planned with a crowd of my friends, which - as you've proved model prisoners - I'm going let you participate in...well, sort of."

Dolores prowled the room as she spoke, making eye contact with each member of her captive audience in turn and pausing for dramatic effect every few seconds.

"I think I probably told you, that on certain Saturdays I hold what are called 'BATH nights', which are basically an excuse for a good old-fashioned party, with lots of food and drink, plenty of music and dancing...oh, and with a great deal of bondage thrown in, of course."

After their latest session of bondage had come to a close - Cathy having spent the night in a tightly strapped latex sheath, whilst Bethany had been frog-tied - both inmates had assumed that their day would follow the now familiar routine of enforced shower, change of clothes, a morsel to eat and a couple of mouthfuls of water, before it was back into the routine of strict, sightless bondage once again. The only uncertainty seemed to be what form exactly their latest restraints would take.

However on this occasion, once Cathy had been dressed in a freshly laundered black spandex cat-suit, and had her hands manacled behind her back, she found that, instead of being left for the next twelve hours or so in solitary confinement, the wax plugs had been forcibly - and quite painfully - removed from her ears, allowing her to hear clearly once more for the first time in days. A collar had been fixed around her neck, and she found herself being led by the attached chain out of her night-time place of captivity and pulled onwards down a long dark corridor. Nothing too unusual in that of course, as she'd found herself moved from one tiny prison cell to another on more than one occasion over the past few days. But something was different this time. Now, instead of traipsing down one endless dimly lit passageway after another, she found that she was being moved towards a more brightly lit area of the house, which ultimately led to the main spiral staircase, and then onwards down into the main foyer area of the mansion with its unshaded windows that allowed the sunshine to pour in and sting her darkness-accustomed eyes.

Being led into the parlour by her handler - on this occasion the silver-suited Sapphire - Cathy was overjoyed to see Bethany sitting bound to an upright chair by the gently smouldering fire. Not only was she relieved to see that her fellow abductee had now been shorn of her plaster prison, but she was also delighted to see a friendly face, notwithstanding the fact that Bethany's visage was semi-obscured - as was her own - by the obligatory grey duct tape which prevented verbal communication.

And soon the gags that each of the long-term captives wore were not the only similarity in their bondage, for the instant that they entered the room, Sapphire, with Cathy in tow, made a beeline towards a second wooden chair that stood unoccupied on the other side of the hearth. Within no more than a minute or two, Cathy found her legs bound not only to each other, but also to the sturdy item of furniture that she had been forcibly encouraged to sit on. It was only then, with both captives under strict and unbreakable restraint, that Dolores saw fit to grace the room with her undoubtedly authoritative presence.

After delivering her pre-prepared address, Dolores turned to her servants.

"Okay ladies, I think as our two guests have been so delightfully well-behaved over the past few days, that we can dispense with all that solitary nastiness just for one day. I think a few hours in the sunshine will refortify their spirits and get them in the party mood, don't you?"

As was customary, the trio of women made no attempt to answer their leader's enquiry, either by word or gesture, but merely stood by waiting for further instruction.

"Take them up to the roof for a few hours. That will give them some insight into the wonderful countryside that we're surrounded by here."

She turned to where Bethany sat.

"I'm sure, as a Londoner, you'll not be too familiar with the local scenery Bethany. This will give you the opportunity to see what a beautiful county Suffolk is...."

And then she added, almost as an afterthought,

"...and how lucky you are that you're now going to be living here long term."

Without further delay, the servants moved forwards and began releasing the bonds that held both Cathy and Bethany to their mooring points. With Sapphire once more grabbing the leash that hung from her neck, Cathy soon found herself being hustled out of the room. A quick glance over her shoulder reassured her that Bethany and her minder, Electra, were not far behind. Once more they climbed the circular marble stairs, before continuing upwards until the third floor of the house was reached, which Cathy had always assumed was the highest level of this ancient structure. However, at this point two unexpected things happened. Firstly, as they reached the top of the stairs and Sapphire steered her away to the right, it became apparent that she and Bethany were once again to be parted, as another backward glance was enough to inform her that her fellow captive was being led in the opposite direction. Cathy was given little time to ponder on the implications of this, however, as after only a few more seconds, she found that the passageway ahead terminated in a dead end. There was, however, a wooden door directly in front of them, looking even more ancient and unused than the myriad of other doors in this multi-roomed labyrinthine house. A large, rust-covered padlock held this door shut, but this was quickly unlocked by Sapphire, who then, with some difficulty, pulled the reluctant panel open. The way ahead was shrouded in darkness, but Cathy could just make out another tightly spiralling staircase rising into the gloom. Unlike the one that formed the centrepiece of the grand entrance hall of Shackleton Grange, however, these steps appeared seldom trodden nowadays, although they were clearly of great antiquity, as could be gathered by the fact that they had been worn smooth by countless feet ascending and descending over the course of the centuries.

A sharp tug on her neck was enough to make Cathy place her foot on the precarious step that veered away sharply to the right. The darkness gradually increased as the duo made their way up the unlit stairwell, but after around ten steps, they encountered yet another door that stood in the way of their upward progress. Like the last, this too was held fast with bolt and padlock, and as on the previous occasion, it was evident that Sapphire was well prepared to overcome this obstacle, as even in the inadequate light she swiftly located the required key from her bunch and inserted it in the lock.

The opening of this latest obstruction immediately brought dazzling sunlight streaming into the tiny cramped spiral passageway. Unprepared for this sudden surge of brilliance, Cathy squinted upwards. The shock of this unexpected change in lighting conditions also made her inadvertently flinch, and she almost lost her footing on the narrow time-worn steps. A quick jerking sensation in the region of her neck, however, let her know that descent, whether accidental or pre-planned, was not an option.

Being led up the last few steps into the outside world, after so long indoors, was a great feeling, and the fresh spring air, taken in big doses through her nostrils, did indeed make her feel better than she had in days. Looking around, the woods and grounds of Shackleton Grange seemed a pleasant enough scene. But what sent a chill surging up Cathy's spine was the sight of the boundary walls, which rose uninterrupted in every direction to completely surround the property, forming an impenetrable barrier between herself and the free world beyond, and letting her know - if she needed reminding - that this was a prison camp, not an idyllic rural retreat that she had willingly agreed to spend the weekend at. But where was this vantage point that she had been brought to?

Inspecting her surroundings a bit closer to home, Cathy now found that the stone floored platform on which she now stood was circular in shape, with a diameter of no more than ten feet. Around the edge, a low parapet, maybe two feet in height, guarded the visitor to this, one of the highest points of the mansion, against plunging to their death in the courtyard below, should they lose their footing on the crumbling masonry. But this was never going to be an issue for Cathy, as she wasn't going to be allowed anywhere near the precipice. For, in the centre of this crow's nest style viewing point, a tall flagpole - devoid of fluttering standard - rose from the flagstones, and it was towards this wooden post that Cathy was now being manoeuvred.

Being placed with her back to this sturdy column that must have measured around twelve feet in height, Cathy found the chain at her neck being wound around this mooring point and fastened with a padlock. Only once her anchorage had been thus secured, was the left bracelet of the handcuffs at her back briefly unlocked. But this momentary release from her manacles was extremely short in duration, and within seconds her arms had been twisted around the post and relocked, so that she had no way of moving away from the pole, with its once pristine white paint now peeling and mildew encrusted.

But of course, simply being handcuffed and chained to the pole was far too simple a method for the denizens of such a bondage loving establishment as Shackleton Grange to tolerate. To rectify this situation, Sapphire began binding Cathy's spandex sheathed legs and body to the rigid pillar with the usual ruthless efficiency with which all of Dolores' minions seemed to be blessed. The upshot of all this activity was that, within no more than five minutes, Cathy found herself bound from ankles to shoulders, so that shifting her position more than a fraction of an inch in any direction was now beyond her means. With her work here complete, the slim, raven-haired slave girl walked towards the door that led down into the house, never once looking back at the results of her endeavours. Within seconds she was gone; the thud of the closing door, the slamming of the bolt and the reapplication of the padlock letting the inflexibly bound woman know that she was destined to remain here for the foreseeable future.

All was quiet over the rooftops of Shackleton Grange, save for the sounds of nature and a light breeze that whistled around the crumbling turrets and towers of this strangest of stately homes. Looking away to her left, Cathy could view another, equally isolated turret at the far corner of the building. From this stone sentinel, a second flagpole pointed skywards, to which, Cathy noticed, another female figure had been tethered in similar, if not identical fashion to herself; the blonde hair that caught the breeze identifying this as Bethany. Although too far away to make out the features on her face, Cathy was sure that Bethany was gazing back in her direction. And she was sure that her fellow prisoner was asking the same question that she was asking herself; namely, how do we attract attention to our plight and bring this whole sorry saga to a close?

For what must have been several hours, Bethany gazed hopefully over the panorama set out before her. Beyond the perimeter wall, the rolling green fields, distant farmhouses and church spires seemed devoid of human activity. Once in a while, the sound of a car engine would disturb the rural tranquillity of a lazy Saturday morning, although vehicles using this stretch of single track road were few and far between. As the sun passed its zenith, however, the flow of traffic did begin to increase, and it soon became clear that the cars which were now traversing this underused byway had one common destination, and that was Shackleton Grange. From her vantage point, Bethany watched as a vehicle would stop for up to half a minute by the main gates, which would then clank noisily as they slowly opened, before the car - on almost every occasion a flashy, expensive make and model- began making its way up the driveway. As it reached the disused fountain, however, it would disappear beyond the parapet that obscured her view of the approaches to the main entrance of the house.

However, aural stimuli still travelled upwards to her lofty eyrie after visual contact was lost, and the sounds she heard confirmed what Dolores had told her earlier regarding the arrival of the partygoers, as the good humoured chatter of female voices followed the sound of tyres coming to a halt on gravel, engines dying and the opening of car doors.

As the afternoon wore on, the arrival of more cars carrying eager bondage enthusiasts became commonplace, so much so that Bethany began to take little notice of the constantly opening gates - just visible beyond the avenue of trees - and the commotion as the guests reached their destination and entered the house. However, after the arrival of a green sports car, something caught Bethany's eye that made her heart race with anticipation.

What it was exactly that first drew her attention to the figure in the grounds, Bethany wasn't sure. But there was definitely something odd about the way this person was reacting. Definitely female, the figure didn't simply walk along the driveway towards the house, as any legitimate visitor would have been expected to, but instead darted furtively from tree to tree, as if wary of being spotted. If there was any doubt on Bethany's mind that this woman was not supposed to be here, it was confirmed as the gates reopened to admit yet another carload of guests. As the vehicle rattled its way along the pot-holed driveway, the woman darted behind a tree and pressed her body as close to the trunk as she could get, only tentatively peeping out from her hiding place several seconds after the car had passed by.

So what was this trespasser doing here? Bethany hardly dared to entertain the notion that finally rescue was at hand. Could it be that somehow this woman had discovered the sinister nature of what was going on, and that she was here on a mission to rescue the two women being held against their wills? For a minute or two, Bethany's hopes soared. But then the reality of the situation kicked in. Why, if she had any inkling that women were being kidnapped and held in perpetual bondage, had she come here alone? Surely it made more sense to call the police and let them deal with the matter. As she watched the woman break cover and stroll briskly across the courtyard, Bethany's heart sank again. She had no idea why this female was acting so strangely, but that was how things would have to remain for the time being. As she neared the house, the woman disappeared, as did any grounds for optimism Bethany may have entertained that help had finally arrived.

As the sun gradually began to dip towards the horizon, and the shadows cast by the flagpoles and their female attachments started to lengthen, footsteps at last sounded on the narrow twisting steps that led to the isolated watchtowers. With Sapphire's reappearance, Cathy found herself slowly and methodically being released from the stringent ropes that had held her in check for what must have been six hours or more. As she glanced across the moss covered rooftop, she noticed that Bethany too was also being released from her fetters by the pink-suited Electra. It was almost as if the two slave girls had synchronised their timing and actions, so that each would complete their tasks in the same order and finish at exactly the same second.

With her rope bonds now discarded, Sapphire expertly released Cathy's hands from behind the post, before quickly reinserting her wrist into the so recently relinquished bracelet, so that she was no longer pole bound. The time between the bracelet falling away from her arm and the ratchets once more clicking shut to encompass her wrist again, could have been no more than three seconds. With her neck chain unlocked, Cathy was finally cast adrift from her moorings, allowing her silver latex-clad attendant to guide her towards the entrance back into the house. The tight whorl of the stairwell, coupled with the narrow and dilapidated state of the stone steps, made descent a trial, as without the use of her hands, Cathy feared slipping and falling at any moment. The bottom of this treacherous staircase was reached without incident however. Being led by the neck along the dark corridor, Cathy soon spied a similar pairing approaching from the opposite direction, as Bethany and her minder reached the next downward stairwell at exactly the same moment as their counterparts. The journey down the floors proved uneventful; Cathy and her minder heading the procession, with Bethany and her attendant just behind. As they neared the top of the ornate stairs that led down to the ground floor, a clamour of female voices rose in volume, and soon the makers of this noise came into view, milling around in the grand entrance hall.

Their walk across the marble floor towards a set of double doors raised hardly an eyebrow, as the excited and ever increasing throng were clearly used to seeing bound women being led by the neck on such occasions as this. Indeed, many of the assembled crowd were in some form of restraint or other themselves. The four woman caravan didn't stop to mingle with the guests, however, and instead, once their destination was reached, Sapphire pulled one half of the double doors open and led Cathy over the threshold. Bethany, too, was urged to enter, and with both unwilling guests inside, the door was quickly closed behind them. After the general hubbub of the foyer, the ballroom was calm and peaceful, with only one other person in evidence. And that person was Dolores.

Cathy and Bethany gazed around the spacious room in awe. On one side, a well stocked bar had been set up, with optics displaying every spirit and liqueur imaginable, and fridges containing bottled beer, ciders and mixers also in evidence. Along the wall on the opposite side of the room, several long, white clothed tables had been laid out, on which sat cutlery, crockery and napkins; evidently the setting for a lavish buffet. At the far end of the room, turntables and a multitude of lights and speakers had been rigged up. But what caught the eye of the shackled and gagged damsels ,was the sight of two metal cages that sat in the middle of the dance floor, attached to which were strong chains leading upwards to pulleys located just below the high ceiling. Dolores was standing by these steel barred containers, as if waiting for her captives to arrive. With encouragement from Sapphire and Electra, the captive duo were marched forwards to within only a few feet of the cages.

"Well ladies, I hope you appreciated the sunshine and fresh air. I must say you've both got a bit of colour back in your cheeks, so I hope you're feeling revitalised and in the party spirit. Unfortunately, as you're my long term prisoners, I can't allow you to fraternise openly with the other guests tonight. But I can promise you that you'll be one of the major attractions this evening. You're both bright girls, so I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that you'll each be spending the evening in one of these contraptions. But now I've got a decision to make."

She turned and gestured towards one of the cages.

"As you can see, this cage is furnished with a vertical metal pole, whilst the other..."

She pointed to the second mobile cell, located twenty feet or so from the first.

"...is devoid of any such feature."

She turned back to face her two captives.

"So my dilemma is this: which of you should be bound to the immovable post, and which of you should be hog-tied in the other cage. Do either of you have any preference?"

Bethany and Cathy glanced at each other, but when neither volunteered any response, Dolores continued.

"So, as neither of you seem capable of choosing, I guess that the fairest way to decide would be to toss a coin."

The Mistress held out her hand to reveal a shiny silver coin; a sure sign that she had already made up her mind that this was her chosen selection method. This was no ordinary Royal Mint issue currency, however. Instead the 'head' side featured the image of a woman from the neck upwards, with a large ball-gag protruding from her stuffed mouth, and attached straps that wended their way around to the back of her head. A blindfold covered her eyes. On the reverse or 'tail' side, the engraving was that of a 'pony girl' in a bondage mitten, harness and bridle, complete with long flowing tail and mane attachments. For several seconds Dolores allowed each of the two bound women to study this strange disc. It was clear that it was something she was immensely proud of.

"I had a small number of these coins struck to mark the fifth anniversary of the formation of the BATH society. I have a few left, if either of you would like one as a souvenir. They're obviously not legal tender...not that either of you will be in a position to spend money from now on, anyway."

Balancing the coin on the nail of her thumb, she prepared to send it aloft.

"Okay, Cathy, you call it. If you're correct, you get the pole, if not the hog-tie. Heads or tails?"

Cathy made a noise through her gag that was meant to convey the message to Dolores that she wanted no part of this game.

"I'll take that as 'heads' then, shall I?"

She spun the coin high into the air and allowed it to land with a sharp clinking sound on the wooden flooring. Bending down, she picked the coin up.

"Heads it is. That means you're going to be pole bound for the duration of the party. Bethany, I'm afraid you're going to have to spend several hours in a strict hog-tie."

Without a second's hesitation, Sapphire and Electra moved forward and forcibly ensconced their designated prisoner in their own private steel barred pen. Soon Cathy found herself bound as she had been for most of the day; upright against the four inch diameter metal post that had been welded into both the floor and ceiling of her tiny stockade. Once the ropes had been secured, a leather hood was placed over her head which covered her lower face, although mercifully left a gap for her eyes and nose, so that at least she wasn't going to be left in darkness for once. Looking across at Bethany, she noticed her fellow captive had been laid face down on the metal floor of her cage and was now being placed into the most restrictive hog-tie imaginable. She too had been hooded in identical fashion.

With the binding complete, the two silent riggers stepped out of the cages and sealed the barred doors with padlocks. Seconds later, the clanking of metal on metal coincided with the sensation of motion, as Cathy felt her coop begin to rise skywards. Within thirty seconds, the cage was suspended at a height of around five feet from the ground, at which point the grinding sound ceased, as did the ascent. Looking the few feet across to the other cage, it was apparent to Cathy that Bethany's enclosure had elevated in unison with her own, and now swung gently from side to side at the same level from the floor.

Dolores sidled in between the cages and gave each a shake in turn. A slight rattling sound filled the air, accompanied by a greater rocking motion than had been the case a moment earlier. The Mistress looked at her watch.

"So girls, I'm afraid that it will be a few hours before this place really livens up. But at least in the meantime you'll have a chance to relax and get into the party mood."

She was just about to speak again, when the until now absent servant, Crystal, burst into the room in her black skin-tight outfit. Her eyes were wide, and it was clear that something was going on which required Dolores' immediate attention. With her hand, she beckoned to Dolores to follow her with some urgency, while a faint noise issued from her mouth, although the masking latex of her hood made her utterance incomprehensible... or at least it seemed that way to Cathy.

"What's that Crystal? There's a prowler in the grounds you say? Well we'd better go and greet our unexpected visitor then, hadn't we?"

She turned to the other two members of her team, who since operating the mechanisms that elevated the cages to their lofty positions, had been standing to one side in anticipation of their next assignment.

"Come on girls, let's see who this might be that's decided to make it their business to snoop around. With a bit of luck, we may have another guest joining us tonight. I'm sure Cathy and Bethany will be thrilled to have somebody else to keep them company."

Chapter 19 - The Padded Cell (added: 2017/12/03)

There is a quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein (although there is some dispute over its provenance), which states that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If this is true, then Cathy would most definitely have been certified by now, as she had by this time spent a week in extreme bondage, and had continually fought her restraints without success, yet still persevered with her attempts to free herself from what she must have by now known were inescapable circumstances. (The irony of this is, of course, that had she been pronounced insane, then the chances are that she would have ended up in a straitjacket and a padded cell, which would bring her full circle back to a situation not unlike that which had caused her to be diagnosed as mentally unstable in the first place).

The location for this latest bout of ill-advised struggling and writhing on this Sunday morning, was deep underground in the cellars of Shackleton Grange, in a tiny cell no more than ten feet square. Having spent the evening and first few hours of Sunday bound to a steel post, locked in a cage in midair, and forced to watch as a crowd of women acted out their dominant and submissive bondage fantasies before her eyes, whilst lights flashed constantly and the pounding music throbbed incessantly until she felt almost hypnotised by the beat, Cathy now almost relished the peace and calm of her subterranean bedroom. Not only had the perpetual cacophony given her a headache, but the fact that she was now in solitary confinement meant that she could instigate her plan of escape unobserved, however futile the end result.

Bethany had been led down into the bowels of the earth too, although her exact whereabouts at present were unknown. The reason for their incarceration so far from the bona fide guests was, Cathy assumed, so that there could be no interaction between genuine captives and those who had come simply to act out that role. Being deep underground meant that any sound made by Bethany or herself would never disturb the slumber of the drunken revellers, who anyway were already under the impression that both she and her fellow long-term inmate were, like themselves, here of their own accord.

Cathy wrenched at the steel handcuffs that were by now familiar yet still undesirable accessories around her wrists. The ropes that bound her legs together in several places also refused to give in to their wearer's physical requests to release her. Lying as she was, hog-tied on the cold stone floor of her cell, Cathy groaned in frustration at her lack of progress in gaining release, although the sound which permeated the dank air of her tomb was little more than a murmur, due to the rolled up tights stuffed into her mouth, the tape which held this makeshift ball in place, and the tight leather hood which now covered her entire head save for her nostrils; the previous hood with the opening for her eyes having been exchanged for this more restrictive and humiliating design once her night time place of accommodation had been reached.

Cathy finally gave up her struggles, at least for the time being. All that tugging and straining was energy sapping in the extreme, especially as she had been living on minimal rations for the past few days. Not only that, but being forced to inhale and exhale exclusively through her nose ensured that this uneven contest with her bonds made her breathless very quickly, and she needed a rest to refill her lungs fairly regularly.

But as well as this constant battle for a freedom that was fast becoming a distant memory, Cathy's thoughts were also troubled by the appearance of yet another captive girl in their midst.

After the Mistress had been summonsed away by her mute servant the previous afternoon, Cathy and Bethany had been left abandoned, bound and helpless, in their still swinging cages of steel. A general murmur of voices constantly assaulted their ears from beyond the ballroom walls, however, with most of the sounds being of an excited, joyous nature, as more and more of tonight's invited partygoers arrived.

It must have been an hour or so after their last encounter with any of Dolores' staff, that the double doors finally opened to reveal the three wenches in all their latex-clad finery. Two of them were carrying a metal contraption with them, whilst the third closed the doors again after her two colleagues and their load had crossed the threshold. And it was obvious straightaway that this metal barred cylinder, which the two minders struggled under the weight of, was in fact a third cage, identical to the one already occupied by Bethany, but lacking the rigid post that featured in Cathy's. From a side room, a tall stepladder was swiftly produced and placed midway between the two already suspended cages, and Cathy watched in stunned silence as the pink suited Electra bounded up the aluminium rungs with a length of chain in her hands, placed this around a hitherto unused pulley fitted in the ceiling, and let the end hang down towards the dance floor. This was immediately grasped by the jet black attired figure of Crystal, who quickly and expertly attached this loose end to a ring on the top of the newly arrived cage, which had been laid to rest on its side for the time being. All this action had taken no more than a couple of minutes, and within seconds of being given the thumbs up that the cage was securely attached, Sapphire pulled on the other end of the chain and began raising this third, vacant incarceration pen to a height similar to those already occupied.

Saskia was the name that Dolores had given for this newly arrived and clearly unwillingly bound victim female, as she introduced her to the exuberant throng that had, by nightfall, packed the ballroom. Cathy had watched in dismay as the poor women was ushered, on heels that threatened to give way beneath her at any second, into the empty cage between herself and Bethany. In the tightest black latex cat-suit imaginable, the latest victim of Dolores' zero tolerance policy to intruders had been fitted with a tightly strapped single-sleeve mitten of black leather, with straps wound around her to keep her in inescapably strict restraint. Her ankles had been shackled with steel cuffs that further curtailed her leg movements. A hood of the same fabric as her outfit clung to every curve of her face and head, with only her eyes and nostrils showing through tiny apertures in the otherwise all-covering shiny mask. From the top of her head, a tangle of brown hair sprouted from the only other opening in the headwear. No sooner had she been ensconced within her own private container, than the door was secured with a padlock and the whole contraption hoisted back up to join her equally helpless sisters-in-bondage.

It was obvious straight away to Cathy that this woman, like Bethany and herself, had now also attained the unenviable status of long term detainee.

As she stood there on that Sunday morning, pondering the events of the last two or three days, Bethany couldn't help think that Dolores had made a big mistake. For two and a half days, she and Cathy had been kept in isolation, with visual and aural stimuli kept to an absolute minimum, and with human contact only taking place out of necessity. But if Dolores' vision of this type of mental torture was to break the will of her prisoners and transform them into subservient zombies, as she'd hinted, then she'd made a grave error of judgement on Saturday, and undone all her 'good' work up until that point. For during those long hours of solitude, Bethany had indeed begun to feel that she was losing the will to fight back, and the fact that the rope which had been positioned strategically between her legs was the only outlet for her frustrations, had begun to bring her around to the Mistress' way of thinking - much as she hated to admit it. So why, on Saturday morning, had Dolores allowed her two convicts the privilege of being given time out in the open, to take in the spring air and catch the warmth of the sun? Clearly she had used this as a reward for being model prisoners, to show that good behaviour could reap rewards. But, as far as Bethany was concerned, this had backfired on Dolores, as the sight of the world beyond Shackleton Grange's walled-in enclosure had only made her realise what she was missing, and had rekindled her flagging desire to be reacquainted with the rest of humanity. Their presence at the party was designed, she guessed, to show how much fun bondage could be, and indeed most of those in attendance would have agreed wholeheartedly with this opinion. But for Bethany, there was a big distinction between role playing and reality. Acting out your bondage fantasies for a set period of time- be it for a few minutes, an hour, or even a day or two - was fine, providing all parties were consenting participants. Indeed, Bethany would have been one of the first to throw herself headlong into the bondage melee if she'd had the reassurance that it was all just a game and that she would, eventually, be set free. But the reality of her situation - and that of Cathy also - was that there was no end in sight to their ordeal; no light at the end of a very bleak tunnel that stretched away into the indefinite future. All she had to look forward to, in the coming days, weeks, months, and possibly even years, was a life of slavery and servitude, where any misdemeanour, however trivial or insignificant it might seem, was punishable by ever stricter bondage, torture and interminable torment.

Bethany tried to stand up straight in her small, windowless cell, but found herself thwarted by the ropes that held her in such unforgiving restraint. Having been released from her cage and brought down to the cellar at the same time as Cathy, the two had soon been separated, with each being led away towards their allotted dungeons for the day. Once inside the tiny cubicle that was to be her home for the next twelve hours or more, Bethany's world was soon plunged into complete darkness, as the hood she was wearing was relinquished and quickly replaced by another that lacked eyeholes. With this claustrophobic but by now familiar head covering tightened around her cranium to a point where the pressure became almost intolerable, Bethany found her legs being bound together at the ankles, knees and thighs. No sooner had the final knot been pulled tight, than her hands were released from the handcuffs that she'd worn all day, to be immediately replaced by a soft leather sheath into which both arms were inserted up to the shoulder, before being securely strapped to prevent her wriggling out again. With no outlet for her hands, her fingers were now useless to her, should she have felt the urge to attempt to undo the leather belts that squeezed her arms together so that her elbows almost touched. But worse was to follow.

Just prior to being denied her sight, Bethany had caught a glimpse of the sleeve into which her limbs were to be incarcerated. And at the cul-de-sac end where her fingers would soon reside, she noticed that a strong steel ring had been stitched into the design of the leather gauntlet. And it seemed that this was now being utilised, as her arms were suddenly and without warning pulled up as high as they would go behind her back; so high, in fact, that this action forced her to bend forward at the waist to avoid her shoulders being wrenched from their sockets. Although unable to see what was going on, Bethany guessed that a rope had been threaded through the ring, and this cord was now being in some way attached to the stone ceiling above her head. So high were her arms being pulled up behind her, that a squeal conveying fright and pain in equal measure fought its way through her gagged mouth, although the decibel level remained below that required to attract attention to her plight from anyone more than a few yards away. As her hands were stretched ever higher, so her head was forced forwards, until it was almost on the same horizontal plane as her waist, whilst her relationship with the floor was becoming ever more precarious, until her only contact with terra-firma was maintained by the tips of her toes. Mercifully, at this point the upward trajectory of her now severely traumatised arms came to a halt, although the fact that the rope remained taut denied her the luxury of lowering her hands back down to a more comfortable level. Now stuck in the position that she recognised as being called a strappado, Bethany was left to suffer alone; her rigger - on this occasion the silver-suited Sapphire - having exited the room and locked the door, before the diminishing sound of high heels on stone steps left Bethany in no doubt that she had been abandoned.

Left teetering on her bound feet, Bethany knew that for the next few hours she had to remain as still as possible to avoid unnecessary suffering. Shifting her position to the left or right, even by a fraction of an inch, would, she soon found out the hard way, trigger a searing pain in her shoulders. It was clear that Sapphire had worked out the precise limits of Bethany's endurance of this torture, and bound her just short of this threshold, in order to instigate major discomfort, but without causing any long term damage to her muscles and joints - providing she stayed rooted to the precise spot on which she'd been left.

So what could she do to alleviate the trauma of the long hours ahead? Without even the comfort of a rope running tightly and tantalisingly between her legs on this occasion, Bethany's only hope was mind over matter. In other words, she had to find things to divert her thoughts away from the dire position she found herself in. Having contemplated the error that Dolores had made concerning the events of the previous day, Bethany's thoughts turned to the unexpected arrival of a new prisoner in their midst, namely Saskia.

Even taking into account the fact that she'd only viewed the trespasser in the grounds from her lofty turret, and notwithstanding the fact that, when the newcomer had been paraded before the masses at the party, her head had been mostly hidden beneath a latex hood, Bethany was still certain that the two were one and the same. And what was more, the sudden look of recognition that this latest addition to the roster of captives had suddenly shown, as their cages had come into close proximity, suggested that this state of recognition was mutual, and that could only mean one thing, namely that Bethany's disappearance had been reported and broadcast in the media. And this circumstance caused a wave of optimism to surge through the severely bound woman, although how she'd been traced to rural Suffolk remained a mystery. Any time now, she tried to convince herself, the cavalry would arrive and rescue them all from this house of horrors. Surely Saskia wouldn't have come here alone, without informing anyone else of her mission, would she?

In stark contrast to the drudgery of another marathon session in sightless, soundless bondage which both Bethany and Cathy were enduring, Saskia's Sunday was certainly anything but dull, although the events scheduled for her were not necessarily those that she would have chosen to participate in.

Dolores' rhetorical question as to what was to become of the trembling caged and bound reporter, was accompanied by the click of her fingers. The signal wasn't particularly loud, but the response was almost immediate, and took the form of the three female figures in their figure-hugging latex outfits appearing through the open doorway. Each seemed to know exactly what was expected of them, without the need for further instruction. Whilst the one dressed all in black lowered the cage slowly to the floor, the silver and pink attired maidens edged closer to the place where the metal enclosure was coming to rest. With the thud of metal on wooden dance floor, the silver suited figure - whose garment glistened in the light of the sun that streamed in through the windows -quickly unlocked and opened the door of the pen, before her pink attired colleague squeezed inside and dragged Saskia to her feet.

The short chain that connected her ankles proved to be a major hindrance in getting Saskia to step out of the cage but, still teetering on the monstrous heels that made walking an unenviable chore, she finally emerged from her place of incarceration. Holding her sheathed and strapped arms out to one side, in a gesture designed as a plea for her release, cut no ice with Dolores or her faithful sidekicks however, and within seconds the chain that still hung from the collar around her neck was seized and she found herself being led towards the door.

"My girls will get you washed and provide you with a different outfit. Then we'll have a nice little chat about your future."

The mention of her future, and the unspoken yet clear implication that she would have no say in her own destiny, was the catalyst that tipped Saskia over the edge. Thrusting her arms outwards as far as the strapping around her body would allow, she stubbornly tried to dig her heels in and refused to move forwards. Unfortunately, the precarious nature of her footwear resulted in her beginning to topple over backwards, and the only thing that stopped her landing in an undignified heap on the floor was that fact that the pink costumed servant caught her before she fell. Dolores sighed loudly and sauntered over to where Saskia was being steadied on her high heels once more.

"Do you really think that being obstinate and uncooperative is in your best interests, Saskia? I'm disappointed. I credited you with a bit more intelligence than that."

She put her face close to the latex of Saskia's hood and whispered menacingly through gritted teeth.

"Now be a good girl and do as you're told, or else life could become a lot less tolerable than it is at present. Do I make myself clear?"

Saskia felt the tears welling up in the corners of her eyes, and a soft whimper inadvertently seeped from behind her layered gag. These telltale signs of unhappiness were lost on the Mistress, however, and when no answer was forthcoming, the question was repeated, this time with added menace in her tone.

"I said, do I make myself clear?"

Trembling with fear, Saskia meekly nodded. This brought a mirthless smile to Dolores' face.

"Good, I'm glad we understand each other."

She turned to the waiting servants.

"Okay girls, take her away. I'm sure you'll get no more trouble from our prisoner. But if you do, you have my permission to take whatever steps you feel are necessary to punish her misdemeanours. "

Saskia found herself being whisked away as fast as the chain connecting her ankles would allow. Up the grand central staircase, with its portraits of happily bound and gagged young women gazing down upon her, then along a bleak grey corridor with its rows of identical closed doors. What lurked behind these solid wooden barriers? Saskia didn't really want to find out, but it soon became apparent that one particular room had been singled out as her next port of call. As the door was unlocked by the mute pink-suited member of Dolores' team, the fear of what might be concealed beyond overwhelmed Saskia, and she found herself - despite the threat of retribution if she stepped out of line - refusing to budge as her minders tried to coerce her into entering the dark interior. And the more the three servants tried to persuade her to cross the threshold, the more mule-like her resistance became. You might think that three unbound women versus one in tight restraints would be a completely one sided contest, but from somewhere Saskia found a strength that she didn't know she possessed, and for half a minute or so managed to stay the right side of the door as far as she was concerned; kicking out at her tormentors and doing everything within her power to stop them achieving their goal.

She hadn't banked on them having a secret weapon up their sleeves however, or more accurately, in the small metal case that the black-suited figure carried with her. Obviously getting a little annoyed with their captive's unruly antics, Saskia squealed into her sponge gag as she watched the case being opened to reveal a syringe and hypodermic needle within. The sight of this caused her to fight even harder against the trio of zombie-like females, but her strength was by now waning. As two grabbed her by the shoulders and held her as still as they could, the third withdrew the surgical apparatus out of its box, before quickly and expertly bringing it up to Saskia's shoulder. One of the women had grasped the latex of her hood by this time, and had pulled the clinging membrane up an inch or so to expose the skin on the right side of Saskia's neck. And it was into this now vulnerable area of her bare flesh that the needle struck. Within a second, a sharp pain seared through her neck, and almost immediately she found herself becoming light headed.

Saskia still tried to keep up her resistance, but as the seconds past she found her efforts becoming ever more feeble, and soon the trio had her laid on the floor and were lifting her bodily into the dark interior of the room. Still trying to kick out at her guards, Saskia felt all her energies slowly being sapped, and her limbs developed a weird, slow-motion numbness that gave her the impression that she was attempting to move through a barrel of treacle. At the same time, her head began to spin, so that the walls of the room into which she was being carried became a fuzzy blur. But within a few more seconds, even this visual stimulus was lost, as her eyelids became heavier and heavier, until finally the effort of keeping them open proved too great a feat to accomplish. The last thing she remembered, before unconsciousness took the reins, was the sensation of being laid to rest on the hard wooden floorboards.

What happened while she was out of it, Saskia could only guess at. But as she began to come round, the reverse process of her fall into a dead-to-the-world stupor took place, and she gradually felt her initially fuzzy senses sharpening, in tandem with the restoration of the strength and coordination to her muscles and joints. And this return to the land of the living revealed several changes in her circumstances.

For a start, she was no longer hooded, although there still seemed to be something inside her mouth. But the texture and taste of this insert didn't seem the same as before, and it took her a minute or two to realise that the sponge ball had now been removed, to be replaced by something that felt more like a piece of cloth or rag; or more specifically, as she tried to spit the offending item out, a piece of rough towelling fabric. But ridding her taste buds of this unpleasantly scented speech inhibitor was never an option, as there was something tightly wrapped around her face and lower head, which seemed to be adhering determinedly to her flesh, and wouldn't relinquish its grip no matter how much she tried to exercise her jaw or puff out her cheeks.

But the changes to her facial adornments were only part of the transformation that she'd undergone whilst in the grip of the powerful anaesthetic that had so debilitated her. For as she tried to sit up from her prone position on the floor, it became apparent that her arms were no longer sheathed in the bondage sleeve that had been her party outfit, and that the straps which had encompassed her all night had also been removed. But this wasn't to say that she was in any way better off from a freedom standpoint.

Saskia gazed at the canvas sacking that she seemed to have been bedecked in during her unexpected journey to the land of blissful oblivion. Her arms, she discovered as she tried to use them to sit upright, were each pulled tightly across her chest, with her hands on the opposite sides of her body. Like the rest of her upper body, they had been sheathed in thick, cream-coloured sleeves. And two things were immediately evident; firstly that these sleeves were cul-de-sacs from which her hands didn't emerge; and secondly that they obviously had some kind of straps attached to the extremities, which had been fastened at her back, so that it was impossible to uncross her arms. Another strap - this one visible to her - had been sewn into the front of the garment and formed a loop, through which her arms had been threaded, so that any urge she may have had to move her arms up, down or away from her body was never going to be in any way successful. The collar area of this garment fitted tightly around her neck, making an attempt to wriggle her shoulders free through this potential outlet a non-starter. And to compound matters still further, a tautly pulled, extremely intrusive strap had been passed through her legs from back to front, with the securing buckle visible on her abdomen, which meant that lifting the whole constraining garment up over her head was out of the question.

Below this effectively restraining outfit, and contrasting starkly with it in colour, Saskia noticed that her legs were now ensconced in silky black tights that shimmered in the light every time she moved. And on top of the hosiery, her feet and lower legs had been shod in calf length suede boots which, although boasting high heels, were nothing compared to the outrageous seven or eight inch spikes she'd been forced to endure earlier. But even allowing for the more modest heels, Saskia was instantly aware that she would have great difficulty in walking at present, as her legs had been welded together with excruciatingly tight black leather straps in four places, with the lowest being at her ankles and the highest around the tops of her thighs.

One other adjustment to her appearance had also taken place during her enforced slumbers. Although she couldn't see exactly what had been done, it was obvious that her hair had in some way been bunched up and positioned on the top of her head, as her locks no longer flowed around her shoulders.

Having assessed her new method of bondage, her attire and her hairstyle as best she could, Saskia's attention turned to the location in which she now found herself. Not the small room to which she was being taken when she last had any memory of events, but instead she found herself in the familiar surroundings of Dolores' parlour, where she'd been served tea just prior to being hoodwinked into captivity the day before. She was sitting on the floor close to the hearth, where a log fire burned, despite the warmth of the day. But apart from the occasional crackle of a log as the heat split it asunder, or the slow, regular tick of a grandfather clock, all was silent. Saskia was just considering what the best method of locomotion would be in order to leave the room, when the door suddenly burst open and in walked Dolores. Closing the door behind her once more, she sashayed slowly over to where her prisoner languished.

"Well Saskia, how do you like your new look? I must say it rather suits you."

She paused momentarily to observe the latest addition to her collection of captives, before strolling over to the window and gazing out.

"I hear you gave my servants a hard time upstairs a bit earlier. I told you that disobedience wouldn't be tolerated, but some people just don't heed good advice when it's offered, do they?"

She turned and looked at the wide-eyed Saskia lounging in front of the fire, then flicked her hand out, dismissively.

"But that's all irrelevant now. What matters is that you get it into your head that you're my prisoner and that you're here to stay."

A short burst of muffled sound seeped through Saskia's gag as the Mistress' words hit home, and she wriggled uneasily in her bonds for several seconds. Dolores ignored this and looked back out of the window, addressing her captive with her back turned.

"So you're a journalist who fancies herself as a bit of a detective as well, eh? Not very good at it though, are you? More Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes if you ask me."

She turned around and smiled.

"I would have thought that the first rule, when you're snooping around somewhere that you're not supposed to be, would be to ensure that you're not caught in the act. Getting yourself into the situation you now find yourself in was careless in the extreme, I feel."

At this point, Saskia decided that enough was enough, and that she had to do something about the deepening crisis which she appeared to have become bogged down in. But her screams of "let me go!" and suchlike, were stifled at birth by the efficiency of the cloth in her mouth, and her physical endeavours also proved to be a miserable failure, as she wrenched and battled to find a way out of the tightly fitting straitjacket. All this activity simply made Dolores laugh.

"Do you really think that I'd just leave you here in something you had even the remotest chance of getting out of? Really Saskia, after the scenes you witnessed last night, you must realise that bondage is second nature to everyone at Shackleton Grange, and that every possible avenue of escape is appraised and shut down before it even arises. You might as well stop all this wriggling and wiggling nonsense and just learn to accept the inevitable."

Dolores waited a few seconds more before continuing, as Saskia's forlorn attempt at escape petered out with a barely audible whimper."

"So Saskia, I'm sure you're asking the question, what becomes of you now? Well the answer is very simple."

The Mistress paced slowly across the room, then back again.

"You'll join my ever growing list of guests, who, for one reason or another, have been forbidden to leave Shackleton Grange. I'm sure you recognised your two caged colleagues last night as the missing women that you were so keen on ascertaining the whereabouts of. And I'm also sure you've worked out that, as they're here to stay, I couldn't possibly allow you to leave and raise the alarm."

As this information sunk in, Saskia found herself trying to stand up, in a desperate bid to get out of this house by any means possible. But alas, even getting to her feet soon proved to be beyond her means, and her efforts to lift herself only resulted in her falling backwards and ending up sprawled inelegantly on the rug. Dolores walked over and stood over her prone form. Lifting her boot up, she placed it on Saskia's shoulder, in order to deter any repeat performance.

"So today Saskia, I've decided that we're going to have a little bit of fun. Cathy and Bethany have been tucked away safely for the day, and my servants have their chores to do clearing up after last night's little shindig, so that just leaves me and you to entertain ourselves."

The Mistress removed her foot away from her cowering captive and walked across the room.

"Firstly, I thought it would be nice to listen to a bit of music."

She opened the door of what looked like an antique sideboard which stood along one wall of the room. This revealed a large collection of LPs stacked inside. Kneeling down, she scanned the spines for the record she wanted.

"That disco music is all well and good for a party, but personally I prefer a bit of rock...ah, here we are!"

She pulled a sleeve out from the vertically positioned row of records. Standing back up, she brought her vinyl choice over to the fireside. Smiling broadly, she held out the cover for Saskia to study.

"Does this remind you of anyone you know?"

If Saskia's mouth hadn't been filled with cloth and taped shut, she would have gasped audibly. For there, staring back at her, was a woman dressed in similar fashion to herself. Ok, so the woman on the cover wasn't gagged. Nor were her legs strapped together. But the canvas straitjacket, the black tights and the calf length boots all mirrored her own attire. The woman was staring out at her, open-mouthed, with a look of shock written on her face. Sitting on the floor of what appeared to be a padded cell, her tousled hair stood up on top of her head and had then been fashioned to stick out horizontally to the right from the viewer's perspective. In the top left hand corner, the name of the artist was given as 'Pat Benatar', whilst the top right gave the name of the album: 'Get Nervous'.

Dolores slipped the black vinyl disc from its cover and inner sleeve, then walked over to where a stereo system sat on a small, intricately carved oak table. She put the record on and within seconds the music blasted out into the room from speakers set high up on the walls; Ms Benatar singing something about 'running with the shadows of the night'. Turning the volume down slightly, Dolores walked back to where Saskia lay and stood the now empty cover against the leg of a chair, only inches from Saskia's prone position.

"You see Saskia, this is one of my favourite albums, not only for the music, but also the photo on the front. I've often thought I'd like to recreate this image that Pat portrays so wonderfully, but until now I've never really found anyone suited to the part...until yesterday. As soon as I saw you, I knew that you were the ideal candidate to help with this little project."

She paced the room as she spoke.

"Unfortunately, I always felt that whoever did the rigging for the photo shoot didn't go quite far enough. As you can see, her legs have been left untied and she isn't gagged, and I always wondered what the finished job would look like. Well at last I know!"

From behind a chair, Dolores pulled out an ornately framed mirror, around three feet square. She set this up side by side with the LP cover, placed strategically so that Saskia could view her own image alongside that of the straitjacketed and anxious looking singer, (whose disembodied voice was by now informing the room that she was 'looking for a stranger').

Saskia couldn't quite believe the similarity in look between herself and the famous American rock chick. Her hair, she now discovered, had been styled in almost identical fashion to her famous double, with blue eye shadow having been applied to perfectly mimic the singer's upper face. Had her lips been painted bright red like the woman's on the album cover? There was no way of knowing, as Saskia's mouth was concealed behind a wall of grey tape. Another difference, as Dolores had already mentioned, was in the strictness of the bondage, with Saskia coming off far worse in this respect. For whereas Pat had been allowed the luxury of sitting with her legs crossed, Saskia's were strapped inescapably tightly to each other. The straitjacket she had been placed in was also worn far more securely than that of her counterpart, with the singer's restraining attire being far looser around the neck area, and the slackness of the sleeves suggesting that the rock star had far more chance of getting out of her restraints unaided than did Saskia.

Mesmerised by the two images before her, Saskia was brought back to reality by a flash of light accompanied by a soft whirring sound. Looking up, she saw Dolores checking the image she'd just captured on her digital camera.

"Very nice. I'll get this framed and add it to my gallery. I might even have to send Ms Benatar a copy, to show her where she went wrong."

Slowly, Dolores sauntered across to an armchair and sat down. For several minutes she sat and watched her helpless captive, as one song ended and the singer begun telling the world how 'anxiety's got me on the run'. Finally the Mistress sighed and broke her silence.

"Anyway Saskia, as a journalist I would imagine you're dying to ask lots of questions about what's been going on here this past week, and exactly what I'm planning for your future now that you're inextricably linked with recent events here at Shackleton Grange. Well, your two little friends have been entertaining me with their antics for the past few days, but now the fun has to come to an end. Now that they're settled in, I'm starting them on a strict training regime that will, in a few weeks' time, see them transformed into obedient slaves with no will of their own, just like Electra, Sapphire and Crystal, who you've already had the pleasure of interacting with."

She stood up and threw another log onto the smouldering embers.

"It's amazing what can be done with sensory deprivation, drugs and mind numbing repetition, you know."

With the fire now burning brightly once more, she came over and sat on the mat next to her straitjacketed detainee; the tight leather of her cat-suit creaking slightly as she bent her knees to lounge on the rug.

"Of course, I had thought that while this training was going on, I'd be left with no one to play with. But then you turned up. Eventually, you'll be taking the same route into servitude as Cathy and Bethany..."

She placed her hand on Saskia's right thigh and began gently stroking.

"...but for now, you'll be their replacement in my never ending search for fun and entertainment."

Saskia flinched at the intimate contact, and tried to shift an inch or two further away from this woman who was clearly deranged. Dolores' stroking suddenly stopped however, to be replaced by a firm grip on her captive's tights-covered flesh. Her next utterance was one word long and her tone left Saskia in no doubt that it was a command not a request.


Saskia must have hesitated a fraction of a second too long, as almost immediately she found Dolores' other hand gripping her chin painfully.

"I said struggle!"

With tears welling up in her eyes, Saskia began wriggling half heartedly, fearing that this was some sort of trick that would ultimately result in punishment of some description being meted out. It soon became apparent, however, that Dolores simply loved seeing her victim attempt - and ultimately fail - to get free.

"Struggle girl, as if your life depended on it. If you don't, I'll be forced to give you something to really squirm about. And you won't find that particularly pleasant, I can assure you."

Dolores got up off the carpet and stood over her terrified guest, as the latter did her best to fulfil the Mistress' wishes by bucking and straining against the straps that held her arms in such a strict embrace around her torso.

Dolores slowly went back to the armchair, her eyes never leaving Saskia's thrusting and twisting body, and with a smug smile ever-present on her lips.

For at least five minutes, Dolores simply watched on in silence, as Saskia toiled away at trying to attain a freedom that was both beyond her means, and would never have been tolerated anyway should she, by some miracle, have succeeded. By this point, the exertion needed to keep up this level of activity, the thickness of the canvas garment, plus the blazing fire, all conspired to ensure that Saskia was sweating profusely. Mercifully, at this point, Dolores seemed to get bored of this method of 'entertainment' and called a halt.

"You seem to be getting a little bit hot under the collar there, Saskia. I guess the excitement is getting to you. It's time, I think, to put you in a more suitable environment; somewhere where you can struggle and writhe to your heart's content without fear of injuring yourself..."

She rose from her chair, the soft squeak of leather mingling with the incessant crackling from the fireplace. She picked up the LP cover and held it close to Saskia's face.

"...A bit like the cell that Pat is luxuriating in on the cover."

Saskia gazed at the plain but clearly padded nature of the walls that formed the backdrop behind the straitjacketed female; just like those rooms in psychiatric hospitals into which patients were placed when having a psychotic or violent episode, in order to prevent them from hurting themselves. But surely there was no such facility at Shackleton Grange, was there?

As one song finished, and a new one started - Pat singing something about having 'a burning desire to be the victim' - the Mistress walked over to the left hand side of the fire and pulled twice on a braided cord that hung from the ceiling, which until now had remained unnoticed by Saskia. Almost immediately, somewhere in the depths of the old house, a bell could be heard softly ringing. Despite the size and complexity of the rambling old building, with its maze of corridors and tunnels, it didn't take more than ten seconds or so for Dolores' three slave girls to respond to their Mistress' call. The first to arrive was the black latex suited figure, followed only moments later by her two cohorts. Dolores waited until all three were standing in line before her; legs slightly apart, hands held behind their backs, with no emotion registering in their eyes.

"Girls, I want you to make our journalist friend here as comfortable as possible. She's a bit frisky at the moment, so make sure she doesn't cause any damage...either to herself or anyone else."

As the telltale clicking sound of the stylus lifting from the plastic signalled that the first side of the record had run its course, Dolores held up the empty album sleeve to her silent audience, so they could see exactly what she had in mind. Having given her instruction, she turned back to Saskia.

"I'm going to leave you for a few hours to have fun in my special playroom for over-excitable girls. There are CCTV cameras in the room, so that I can monitor your activities at all times. I expect to see lots of struggling and squirming about. If not, I'll be forced to take measures that will really give you cause to thrash about. Do I make myself understood?"

Saskia's only response was a pathetic whimper into her gag, as the trio of compliant wenches hoisted their prisoner to her feet. Once upright, the silver-suited figure grabbed her shoulders and began forcing her to hop towards the doorway. Knowing that resistance was futile, Saskia reluctantly allowed herself to be guided out of the room and through the foyer towards the staircase. Jumping up each step with her legs strapped firmly together proved a lengthy, not to mention energy sapping experience, but once the top was reached, the going got slightly easier and she found herself being navigated towards a specific door that lay at the end of one of the many long, dark corridors that seemed to permeate the whole structure of this eerily quiet mansion house.

The opening of the door revealed exactly what Saskia had been dreading. For the interior of this room was indeed fitted out almost exactly like the padded cell that graced the LP cover. Being urged to enter, Saskia was forcibly pushed to the ground directly beneath an extremely bright neon strip light fixed to the ceiling in the centre of the room. Her meeting with the ground, however, was not a painful one, as the soft foam padding that covered the floor as well as the walls, made her almost bounce as she hit it. From her prone position, Saskia rolled over to face her three guards, but all she saw was their pert behinds in their tight latex suits, as they headed out of the room and quickly closed the door. The sound of a key turning in a lock soon followed.

Saskia looked around her new incarceration chamber. The floor, all four walls, and even the ceiling high above her had been covered in the same plush padding, with only the buttons that held the lagging in place standing out against the otherwise featureless background, and thus giving the whole scene a cushion-like effect. Even the space where the door had closed was now unidentifiable from the surrounding walls. Apart from the bright light overhead, however, there were two other features that broke the otherwise monotonous outlook. In two diagonally opposite corners of the room, fixed to the walls only an inch or two from the ceiling, were the two CCTV cameras that Dolores had spoken of, each of which were aimed down towards the centre of the room. And just to the side of one of these two intrusive spy monitors, a small speaker had been fitted.

For a few minutes, Saskia lay motionless on the floor, her head still pounding from the effects of either last night's alcohol, the drugs pumped into her, or maybe the stress that this whole ordeal was creating. Or, most likely, a combination of all three elements. She had forgotten all about her instruction to struggle for all she was worth, but soon received a reminder, as the speaker suddenly crackled onto life and Dolores' disembodied voice boomed around the small cell. She sounded calm, but there was a definite element of menace in her well chosen words.

"If you recall Saskia, I asked you to do everything within your powers to get out of the straitjacket that my three girls so lovingly dressed you up in. So far, you've just sat there without moving. As I said, I want you to entertain me. You see, when I get bored, I get very angry, and when I get angry, I'm the meanest, nastiest, most sadistic bitch in the world. So unless you want me to stir things up and make life a little bit unpleasant for you, I suggest you start doing as you're told. Now you've got thirty seconds to get my attention with your Houdini act, or I'll send my girls in with some itching powder to put down your tights."

The speaker went dead, although a sense of being watched immediately overcame Saskia. And this feeling of being in the spotlight was quickly enhanced, as a soft whirring sound accompanied the movement of the cameras on their brackets, letting her know that there was no hiding place, and that Dolores had every corner of the room covered. A shiver ran down her spine as she realised that, given what had already happened to her in less than twenty four hours, the chances were that Dolores was deadly serious in her threat to inflict some form of torture, should her demands not be satisfied.

Trembling with dread, and knowing that it was all in vain, as her efforts would all come to nothing, Saskia began her mock battle to free herself. For what seemed like hours, she rolled and writhed, wrestled and fought against the unforgiving straps and buckles that held her fast. Finally, on the point of exhaustion, having warped and contorted her body and limbs into every possible position imaginable, she gave up. Breathing heavily through her nose had taken its toll and sapped her energy to the point where she was past caring. If Dolores decided to punish her for inaction, then so be it. For what could be worse than the sense of fatigue and utter futility which now washed over her? She expected to receive an angry warning through the intercom, or even a visit from the three latex-clad lackeys to carry out whatever despicable retribution Dolores had in mind, but for some reason nothing of the sort materialised. It suddenly struck her that the cameras were no longer sweeping the room, and she deduced that Dolores had probably given up on her vigil, and that she was no longer under observation. And so, now fatigued beyond measure, and with her head feeling like it had been split open, Saskia gladly succumbed once more to a deep, dreamless sleep.

Chapter 20 (added: 2018/01/26)

Monday morning saw Cathy visiting the room with the three TV screens and high backed metal chairs for the second time. In contrast to her first, accidental, foray into this windowless chamber, however, the room was now bathed in bright light, with the three seats unoccupied - their attached straps hanging loosely from the rigid arms, legs and backs - and the screens merely lifeless grey rectangles against the backdrop of the featureless walls. The headphones lay discarded on the chairs; silent... at least for the time being.

Having spent the past twenty four hours in solitary, sensory deprived isolation, with only one short break for food, water and a change of bondage position - on this occasion her hog-tied status being relinquished for a slightly less harrowing period handcuffed and bound inside a darlex sleep-sack, which was then secured with multiple straps along the length of her body - Cathy welcomed and dreaded in equal measure, the intervention of the latex attired figure who came to release her that morning.

The removal of the stifling hood that had been an ever-present hindrance to both sight and sound ever since her incarceration in the dungeon, revealed that her carer/guard on this occasion was the pink-suited Electra, whose long blonde hair spouted from the pinnacle of her hood, and cascaded in wild abandon down to her shoulders.

Being pulled out of the tightly fitting sheath, which had clung to every inch of her being for the past twelve hours or so, took several minutes, as the compressing fabric seemed reluctant to relax the grip it had established on its prey. Soon, however, Cathy's spandex cat-suited body and limbs emerged from the too-small packaging that had acted as a heat trap, resulting in her becoming extremely hot and uncomfortable.

Still handcuffed, but with her legs freed from their rope restraints, Cathy was led, by the collar and chain that had been attached around her neck, from her subterranean cell up to a first floor bathroom, where she was again briefly hooded before being allowed the luxury of taking a shower and being given a fresh spandex cat-suit to wear. Then, with her hands bound behind her back once more - this time with soft but unyielding rope - she found herself being led down to the kitchen, where breakfast was served; two slices of buttered bread and a glass of orange juice hardly constituting a great culinary experience, but at that point, after so long deprived of either liquid or solid sustenance, Cathy was grateful for whatever crumbs or dregs were offered to her. Having partaken of this meagre fare, a hard rubber ball was stuffed unceremoniously into her mouth, and the attached straps pulled tightly around her head and fastened, thus ensuring that spitting the jawing-achingly large obstruction out again was never on the cards.

It was only a short journey from the relatively reassuring domestic scene of the manor house kitchen, to the alien environment of that bleak and informal training room that she had stumbled upon a few days ago. Having entered the room, Cathy was prompted to stand in one corner, before the collar and chain that Electra had used to lead her charge to this location was removed. With her tasks now completed, the pink suited figure moved away and stood, sentry like, by the open doorway; continually watching Cathy like a hawk, in case her prisoner should feel the urge to make an ill-advised dash for the exit.

A minute or so elapsed, with Electra staring menacingly at Cathy, before a commotion in the corridor outside preceded the arrival of Bethany, led by the silver suited Sapphire. Manoeuvring her captive into the opposite corner to that occupied by her fellow detainee, it was clear to Cathy straightaway that Bethany was bound and gagged in similar fashion to herself. In an action replay of Cathy's arrival minutes earlier, Bethany's collar was now removed, before Sapphire backed off to stand next to her silent colleague at the door.

The two prisoners gazed wide-eyed at each other across the floor. Communication was possible only with eyes, but it was obvious to Cathy that Bethany was glad to see her fellow captive, although there was a great deal of apprehension evident regarding the ordeal they were about to be put through. Cathy shared her partner-in-bondage's concerns one hundred percent, but had no answers to the unspoken yet clearly asked question "how are we going to stop this process?" Their subliminal conversation, however, was soon interrupted by the arrival of a third pair of females in the room. Dolores led the way, closely followed by her third slave girl, Crystal, who shut the door behind them and stood in line next to her mute cohorts. Pacing the room, Dolores, first approached Cathy. Checking her prisoner's bonds and gag, she nodded her approval with a smirk of satisfaction etched on her face, then strolled at a leisurely gait over to where Bethany stood and repeated her inspection. Only once she had returned to a position midway between her two captives did she finally break her silence.

"Well ladies, I hope you're all relaxed and ready for Phase One in the process of transforming you into subservient slave girls with no minds of your own. As you'll have no doubt worked out, I've changed my mind about keeping you here for a set period of time, as I lost count days ago how long your sentences were supposed to last, seeing as how your antics kept ensuring that I had to increase the punishment every five minutes. So instead I've decided to use you as part of a business transaction. As I told you the other day, your destiny is to become compliant, submissive serving wenches like my three faithful girls here."

Dolores turned briefly and gestured towards the three unmoving figures by the door, whose gaze never wavered, and who showed no recognition that their Mistress was in any way eluding to them.

"What I didn't tell you is that, once I've moulded you into this state of mental submission, I'm going to be selling you on to people with similar interests to my own."

Bethany squealed at this latest revelation and, in her agitation, took a few steps towards the door. Now, however, Sapphire snapped instantly out of her state of torpor, and was quick to quell any brewing dissent by laying a firm hand on the would-be escapee's shoulder. Dolores waited until she was sure that this uprising had been nipped in the bud, then looked across at Cathy, as if trying to gauge whether her other prisoner was likely to follow suit in becoming rebellious. When Cathy showed no signs of doing so - due more to a deep fear of reprisals rather than any acceptance of her revealed fate - the Mistress continued.

"You see, there's a vast network of masters and mistresses all over the world who will pay a good price for girls like yourselves, who've stupidly got themselves captured and simply can't be allowed back into society for one reason or another. There's a huge market for women like you in the Far East, as well as Russia, the US and South America. Even here in Europe, there's a thriving industry in young women who've 'disappeared' from the outside world, and now spend their days in slavery and their nights in oh-so-tight bondage. At a guess, I would say there must be a thousand or more like you in England alone."

Dolores paused for a few seconds, letting this information sink in.

"Anyway, I'm sure you're both fed up with listening to me, and are champing at the bit to get started with your training regime. Firstly, we need to get you seated and comfortable. Then we'll give you a little something to get you all nice and relaxed, before leaving you to watch a few videos which I'm sure you'll find both enlightening and enjoyable."

She turned to her three waiting latex-suited servants.

"Okay girls, let's get my guests ready for their first session. I think we better deal with Bethany first, seeing as how she's the one getting a bit fidgety."

As one, Dolores' three employees moved towards the now cowering figure in the skin-tight spandex cat-suit, who automatically took two steps backwards. She would have taken more, had the corner of the room not penned her in and left her trapped. Sapphire was the first to grab the whimpering captive's left shoulder and pull her back into the centre of the room, before leading her towards the closest of the three chairs.

Sitting their wriggling prisoner down, Sapphire quickly unbound her wrists. But if Bethany had any thoughts of trying to escape in the seconds which followed, these were immediately quashed, as Crystal and Electra stepped forward and forced her limbs down to lie flat on the chair's metal armrests; holding them firmly in place whilst Sapphire applied and secured the broad leather straps in the area of her wrists and just below her elbows. Her upper arms fared no better either, with these being secured to the back of the chair just above the elbow and beneath her armpits. With all restraints buckled and tested for efficiency, the three tireless females moved on to their captive's lower limbs, once again using the attached strips of shiny black leather to firmly fix her legs to those of the chair at the ankles and knees. Further straps soon followed across her thighs and lower abdomen, designed to ensure that she and the chair's seat would remain as one inseparable item for the foreseeable future. And Bethany's woes didn't end there, as the belts that had moments before hung limply from the chair's high back, were wound tightly around her waist, chest and shoulders, to make certain that she would remain rigidly attached to this stout and immovable item of furniture. With her body and limbs now in the grip of these inescapable fetters, a collar was secured around her neck, which was also attached to the back of the chair, so that she was unable to move her head more than an inch or two in any direction. Cathy watched as the three latex-skinned handmaidens backed away from their newly created work of art, and she saw the look of dismay on Bethany's face, as she tried and failed to move from her latest mooring post. But Cathy was given little time to wonder about the stringency of her fellow captive's state, for she soon found herself experiencing firsthand the exact same procedure that Bethany had just undergone.

Having been unceremoniously forced onto the hard metal seat, Cathy's hands found release from their rope bonds, but within seconds discovered themselves tightly strapped to the horizontal arms of the chair. Each strap bit deeply into the stretch fabric of her shiny, clinging garment, and the pressure on her muscles increased substantially until the unforgiving leather could tighten no further; the sealing of the buckles confirming the strict hold that each bond now had over her. And then her legs were treated in a similarly stringent manner, ensuring that any movement of her limbs was now impossible. Now powerless to resist, Cathy's state worsened by the second, as more strapping found its way around her body, from shoulder to thighs; each leather ligature being found to be as restrictive and unforgiving as the last. Finally, with her neck collared and tethered, the heartless trio stepped away, leaving her to test her newly acquired accessories.

Stretching her fingers, Cathy tried to reach backwards and grasp the leather strap that constricted painfully around her right wrist. But the severe nature of the binding meant that, although only a tantalising fraction of an inch from successfully touching it with her outstretched nail, the bond remained frustratingly elusive. The straps across her chest, she soon discovered, had also been secured with such force, that the very act of taking air into her lungs was now a painful process, as the strict leather belts bit deeply into her ribs.

But she was given very little time to dwell on niceties such as breathing, for Dolores was again addressing her two now immobilised victims. Although Cathy had been preoccupied with her increasingly dire predicament whilst the strapping procedure had been in full swing, the Mistress had clearly not been standing idly by as her minions toiled. For Cathy noticed that she now held two small plastic cups in her hands, and within these see-through vessels a bright green potion could be seen gently swirling from side to side.

"Right now ladies, I hope that you're sitting comfortably. Before I turn the screens on and leave you to enjoy the movie that we have planned for you today, I thought you might like to partake of a little liquid refreshment."

She beckoned to her patiently waiting servants.

"Okay girls, you can take their gags out now."

The eager to please trio wasted no time in obeying their Mistress' latest command, as Sapphire and Crystal stepped forward and unbuckled the straps on Bethany's and Cathy's ball-gags respectively, while Electra took one of the cups from Dolores and stood waiting beside her boss until the rubber impediments had been removed from the two seated females. As Cathy exercised her aching jaw, she watched Dolores walk in Bethany's direction, whilst the pink suit loomed ever larger in her direction. As the small disposable cup made its way to within an inch of her lips, Dolores delivered a warning, should either of her captives decide that they weren't thirsty.

"As I'm sure you're aware, one way or another, this liquid is going to be swallowed by both of you. Now we can either do this the easy way, like good little girls, or, if you resist, we can do it the hard way. But before you make up your minds on which course you'd like to take, let me remind you that the hard way will undoubtedly involve someone getting hurt... and I can guarantee that it won't be me or my servants that are yelling out in anguish as this medicine slips slowly but surely down your throats."

A squeal of distress issued forth from Bethany's mouth at this point, and she flinched somewhat as the potion was proffered to her. But although trembling and tearful, her quivering mouth reluctantly opened as the cup was tilted and the contents began to flow. Cathy, too, felt the flimsy vessel touch her lower lip, at which point a vile scent assaulted her nostrils. But although the thought of imbibing this strange brew held no appeal whatsoever, she knew that resistance was futile, and closed her eyes as the cold, thick fluid began to roll over her tongue. This macabre cocktail, it soon turned out, had a strange, sickly sweet flavour to it, and left a burning aftertaste which lingered for several minutes on the palate. By the time this had dissipated somewhat, however, it was replaced by the more familiar, although equally undesirable tang of stale hosiery, as a pair of rolled up tights were bundled into her mouth, and the instantly recognizable rasping sound of tape being ripped away from a spool preceded the sealing of her lips. But being gagged once more soon proved to be the least of her worries.

By the time that both she and Bethany had been silenced again, Cathy noticed a weird sensation begin to course through her. Starting in the region of her abdomen, this odd, unnerving feeling gradually spread in every direction throughout her being, until it reached the extremities of her fingers and toes. It began as a tingling, numbing sensation, which soon turned into a frightening paralysis that seemed to lay waste to her muscles and joints, as all movement became at first difficult, then almost impossible. And this state of powerlessness rapidly spread to her head, and the numbness that had afflicted the rest of her body gradually seemed to dull her mind and made her feel light headed. Her eyes and ears, however, seemed immune to this undesirable and otherwise all encompassing sense of debilitation.

As this worrying loss of bodily control steadily strengthened its grip, Cathy felt something being wrapped tightly around her temples, and although her thought processes were becoming hazy, the realisation hit her that her skull was being strapped to the back of the chair, so that she couldn't turn to left or right, or - probably of more importance given her deteriorating mental state - allow her head to fall forwards. And attached to this latest strap, there appeared to be some sort of leather flaps that protruded outwards on either side of her face, which acted like a horse's blinkers and resulted in her field of vision being limited to a small sector of the room directly in front of her. Through the fog in her brain, Cathy heard Dolores speaking once more, this time the voice came from behind and in the direction of the only exit from the room.

"Right ladies, I'll leave you in peace now. Enjoy the entertainment."

The final words of this parting speech were, however, muffled to the point of incoherence, as the headphones, which she had witnessed the three slaves wearing the other day, were placed over her ears.

Cathy tried to view her fellow captive's plight, in order to gauge whether Bethany was undergoing the same breakdown of her faculties as she was experiencing herself, but the combination of the drugs, the excruciatingly tight leather band across her forehead, and the tunnel vision inducing blinkers, made this unviable. And a second or two after the headphones had been applied, the visibility in the room deteriorated dramatically, as the turning off of the overhead light plunged everything into darkness, and made seeing anything at all unfeasible. This state of gazing into a dense ocean of blackness, however, lasted only thirty seconds or so, before the screen in front of Cathy - the only one of the three now within her line of sight - flickered and blinked into life. For a few seconds there was nothing visible but a sea of static, but then the image of a woman suddenly sprang into being. Dressed in a skin-tight latex cat-suit and high heeled leather boots, all in black, and with long wavy brunette hair cascading around her shoulders, the pale skin of her face was offset by bright ruby red lips and dark eye make-up. In her befuddled state, it took Cathy a second or two to recognise that this was indeed their captor, Dolores, on the screen. But if she needed confirmation of this fact, suddenly, through the headphones, the unmistakeable voice of the Mistress crackled into life, and Cathy watched spellbound as the lips of the woman on the screen moved in time to the words being broadcast into her ears.

For several minutes, Dolores spoke clearly and precisely to her audience, informing them of what they were about to witness - namely bondage, bondage and more bondage - and offering assurances that the viewer would, by the end of the course, be excited by the prospect of being trussed up for the rest of her life. Having advised those watching to sit back, relax and enjoy the show, her grinning image faded slowly from the screen, to be replaced by that of a woman unknown to Cathy, who was dressed in figure hugging spandex and had been bound with vicious severity into a strict ball-tie, from which it was clear immediately that there was no way of escape. Far from being in any way distressed or upset by her circumstances, however, the female's writhing and struggling seemed to owe more to a desire to enhance her enjoyment of the situation, rather than from any wish to free herself; a rope that ran in taut fashion between her legs being worked rhythmically and frantically until, after two or three minutes, she threw back her head and moaned with pleasure through the wadding in her mouth. Once she had relaxed and was lying motionlessly on the floor, the sequence ended, only to be replaced by that of another unknown female in a different although equally stringent state of bondage. And soon, she too had worked herself up into a state of ecstasy; on this occasion through the help of a second, unbound female, who stroked and caressed her arching and reeling body, until the desired effect had been achieved. And although Dolores was no longer visible on the giant plasma screen on which these vignettes of bondage heaven were being played out, her voice still reverberated in Cathy's ears, as messages aimed at brainwashing her into believing how great a life of eternal bondage could be, were continually assaulting her drugged and disorientated brain. With monotonous regularity, the sequence of whispered sound-bites infiltrated the listener's subconscious, before the looped recording started once more at the beginning; so that - after three or four repeat performances - Cathy knew exactly what was coming next and could, if she'd been capable of speech, have recited the softly spoken messages in unison with Dolores.

But trying to block this indoctrinating voice from her mind, or close her eyes to the hypnotic images that danced before her, seemed impossible in the chemically induced stupor that made all rational decision making unsustainable. Despite the logical part of her brain - the small fraction of it that was still capable of functioning normally - telling her to find something - anything - that would distract her from this insane notion about bondage equating with normality, Cathy found herself unable to detach her senses from the aural and visual stimuli that seemed to permeate every corner of her psyche. In fact, as the minutes rolled on, and more women appeared on screen, wriggling and writhing until they achieved the bondage equivalent of nirvana, she realised that resistance to the constant sensory bombardment was beyond her, and reluctantly allowed her bemused and befuddled mind to simply assimilate the information on offer, like a sponge absorbs water.

Unlike Cathy, Bethany had never entered the training room before today, and was therefore both awestruck and terrified by the sights that greeted her. The high backed metal chairs with their bases riveted to the floor; the myriad straps that hung lifelessly yet menacingly from every conceivable strut, joint and angle of these immovable items of furniture; the giant screens that took up most of one wall; all conspired to make Bethany shiver in dismay at the scene before her. But what really freaked her out was the small table in one corner of the room, upon which stood a plethora of small bottles and vials containing a stunning array of different pills and liquid concoctions. The sight of this collection of medicines conjured up images of a laboratory, and the realisation that she was probably going to be the guinea pig in a scientific experiment of some description, caused an icy shiver to rip through her entire being.

Once seated, strapped and subdued, Bethany found herself with little choice but to drink the horrid mixture that was offered up to her lips. Soon the effects of this potion began to weave their wicked spell on her senses, and she found herself slipping into a mental void from which there was no return. Notwithstanding this sense of helplessness, and although her limbs felt as if they were now made of lead, Bethany attempted to fight the oncoming mesmeric state by gripping the arms of the chair and commanding every muscle, tendon and sinew in her slim frame to obey the order from her brain to remain alert and under control. But the drugs proved far too powerful an adversary, and as the application of the headphones and blinkers focused her concentration down a straight and narrow pathway, she found herself giving in to a power far beyond that of her own will.

As the bound women on the screen began to cavort in their restraints, however, Bethany soon felt her revulsion fade somewhat, and found herself becoming more and more excited by the moving images, and the hopes and wishes they stirred. For hadn't she come to this place in the first instance to experience something just like the emotions being evoked before her very eyes at this moment? She tried to wipe these thoughts from her mind, as the grim news that Dolores had imparted only minutes earlier should have been sufficient to keep her occupied with the unpleasant nature of her threatened future, and therefore alleviate any frivolous thoughts and desires she might entertain of being kept bound and gagged for the sheer joy of it. But she simply couldn't help herself. Although a lifetime spent as a slave with no will of her own was anathema to her in the extreme, the delight that she'd always experienced whilst watching bondage videos in the privacy of her own home, and the need to become that struggling, squirming female in the tight and totally inescapable shackles and fetters, was overwhelming and outweighed all other considerations. In a way, this was probably some kind of subconscious safety valve, allowing her to escape momentarily into a fantasy world where bondage was a thing of great beauty - to be desired, nurtured and cherished - and so block out the contemplation of any nasty or evil scenarios that might be looming large on the horizon, and thus threatening to send her into a downward spiral of misery and despair.

But at that moment, Bethany had neither the motive nor the will to scrutinise the whys and wherefores of her mental processes and how her mind might be coping with the evolving situation, but instead threw herself headlong into the blissful state that watching a performance such as the one being broadcast for her now never failed to elicit. Although in a state of near paralysis due to the powerful relaxant, from somewhere Bethany found the energy needed to thrust her pelvis forward in time with the female on the screen, as the latter reached her climax. Unfortunately for her, the lack of a crotch rope on this occasion meant that she remained frustrated in her bold attempt to emulate the screen actress as she writhed in ecstasy. This, however, failed to discourage Bethany from her intended although seemingly unobtainable goal, and as one televisual sequence faded out and another began, she found herself trying even harder than before to get herself off, until she was groaning so loudly into her gag and shaking the metal chair with such force, that she was sure that Cathy, - unsighted yet only a few feet away - must have been able to hear her, even with the headphones and the subliminal messages to quell incoming sound.

Dolores' library of bondage films must have been of an extensive nature. That was the only thing Cathy could deduce, as episode followed relentless episode in the seemingly never ending line of videos that were, for both herself and Bethany, compulsive viewing. Just when she thought that every conceivable position and method of bondage had been shown to her today, the next sequence would surprise and shock her with new twists and turns that she had never even contemplated. Some of the locations for the short dramas that flashed before her fascinated yet fearful eyes, Cathy could recognise from her time here as being filmed in various parts of the mansion - Dolores' idea of 'home movies'. Others, however, seemed to have been shot elsewhere - locations unknown - and suggested that the Mistress was a collector as well as a producer of this type of kinky porn. How long would she and Bethany be forced to endure this specially laid on show? And how long would it be before the drugs wore off and she could regain command of her senses? This state of not being in control of her own body and mind didn't seem to be diminishing, even after what must have been several hours.

But was Dolores' master-plan working? Was the fact that she had been forced to watch pictures of women helplessly squirming in every imaginable method of shackled imprisonment making her any more willing to remain in similarly inescapable circumstances for eternity? She didn't think so, although she had to admit, as time wore on, that she did find the antics of the fettered beauties on the screen fascinating. But that was probably due to the fact that there was nothing else to take her mind off the steady stream of images that she was powerless to disregard. And the voices in her head - so soothing and persuasive - kept up their droning monotony, until they became mere background noise...at least on the conscious level. How it was affecting her on a deeper plane, she had no idea. But the thing that worried Cathy, even through the chemically induced fog that clouded her thought processes, was what the result would be over the course of days, weeks or even months, if she was forced to suffer this kind of sensory assault on a regular basis? After all, it seemed to have had the desired effect on Dolores' three servants, so why would it not work on Bethany and herself? And more importantly, how could she prepare and defend herself against becoming a submissive, brain-dead zombie just like them?

Whether it was because her powers of reason weren't working at optimum levels at present, or because there really was no way to halt this horrific process that she and Bethany found themselves sliding headlong into, these questions failed to reveal credible answers that Cathy was in any way comfortable with.

Chapter 21 - Saskia's Unexpected Discovery (added: 2018/02/28)

With great difficulty, Saskia propelled herself, caterpillar fashion, across the floor of her padded prison. Reaching a corner of the room, she rolled over awkwardly and pulled herself up into a sitting position, with the soft, yielding wall at her back. The effort needed to achieve this posture had made her breathless, and the rag filling her mouth, plus the tape that held it in place, made taking in air a task that could only be accomplished through her nostrils.

Saskia had no way of gauging the passing of time, although her levels of exhaustion after the ordeals she'd been put through in the past two days, suggested to her that she had spent a great many hours in slumber. With her head no longer pounding from the hangover, she certainly felt somewhat better now that she'd got some rest...at least physically. Mentally and emotionally, however, her state of turmoil was an ongoing one, as the knowledge that she was still a prisoner of Dolores and her tribe of acquiescent servants, was a major stumbling block to a peaceful state of mind. And this status as a helpless captive was hammered home to her on a regular basis, by the restraints that still prevented her from moving freely; the creak of the canvas straitjacket every time she tried to raised her arms, or the soft swish of her tights as one strapped leg rubbed against the other, being the only sounds that accompanied her laboured breathing.

But what of the future? How long was it going to be before someone remembered she was here? In some ways, she was desperate for the door to open, in order to quell the fear that she had simply been abandoned here for evermore. But in others, the thought of what might be in store for her once this period of solitary confinement did finally come to a conclusion, made her dread the sound of the key turning in the lock and the door creaking open. For some reason, the need to draw attention to herself suddenly became a priority, although she had no reason to think that anyone would hear her. But scream into her gag she did, as loud and long as her capabilities allowed. The cushioned walls of her cell, however, seemed to absorb and deaden the sound, even within the confines of her incarceration chamber, and she doubted that her pitiful wail of distress would register with anyone who happened to be standing more than a few feet away outside.

But in this respect she seemed to have been mistaken. Or maybe her stifled attempt at making her presence known had been picked up by someone monitoring on the spy cameras that she'd assumed had been switched off many hours ago. Or perhaps the whole thing was just coincidence. There was simply no way of knowing. What she did discover, however, was that within a minute of her plaintive, mournful cry having seeped rather pathetically through the wadding in her mouth, the fact that there was someone in the vicinity was signalled by the door being pushed open, to allow Dolores and her three ever attentive members of staff to enter.

"Good Morning Saskia. I trust you slept well."

The leader of the pack stood, hands on hips, gazing down at her victim, a look of satisfaction inscribed on her face.

"As you're a bright girl, I assume that you realised fairly quickly that I wasn't going to sit and watch you struggling all night, and therefore managed to get a bit of shut-eye. The floor of this room is quite comfortable for sleeping on, don't you think?"

Without waiting for an appraisal from her motionless guest concerning the standard of the bedding conditions, Dolores continued.

"But enough of this small-talk. I thought you might like to know that your two little friends, who you were so keen to ascertain the whereabouts of the other day, have now embarked on what is going to be a life changing shift in status with regard to their membership of the human race. They're now safely ensconced in my training room, having just started the first lesson on their path to becoming compliant, bondage loving slaves, who will obey their master or mistress' commands with unthinking loyalty. Why am I telling you this? Because eventually, my dear, you'll be treading the same route as them into bondage oblivion."

Dolores smiled devilishly at her seated captive, whose only response was a faint whimper into her gag as she gazed up at this clearly insane woman, who seemed to relish imparting news of this sort. As Saskia watched, the Mistress began to prowl the padded floor.

"But for now my dear, you'll be my new plaything, to keep me amused and stop me getting bored. This afternoon I have a few little games planned which I'm sure you'll find - what shall we say? - fascinating. But this morning, my girls are simply going to get you out of 'Pat Benatar' mode, help you freshen up and get you a nice new outfit to wear. Then they'll give you a demonstration of their binding and gagging skills. After all, as you're going to be spending so much time here, I'm sure that you'll be keen to experience as many of their techniques as you can, as soon as possible. Then once you're all snug and helpless, I'll let you luxuriate in your bonds for a few hours, so you can get a feel for how your life is going to be from now on. Considerate, aren't I?"

The question hung in the air, unanswered, for several seconds. But if Dolores was expecting a reply of some description - however muffled and incomprehensible that response might be - she didn't show it; merely walking towards the door and calling back to her three servants.

"Okay, girls, I'll leave it up to you how you tie her for the rest of the morning, but be sure to make it interesting for her. Once you've finished, I'll be along to inspect your work, so I'm expecting you to make a really good job of it."

As soon as Dolores' tight leather suit had disappeared into the corridor, the eager threesome wasted no time in carrying out their Mistress' orders. Removing the leather straps that had kept her legs in close proximity to each other since yesterday, they dragged their still straitjacketed prisoner to her feet. Shakily, on legs that had hardly been used for the best part of two days, Saskia was forced to traipse down a long corridor, then mount two flights of stairs, before being led into a small room that turned out to contain a shower, toilet and wash basin. With an eyeless leather hood pulled down over her head and padlocked at the neck, she now found the straps of the canvas outfit loosen, and within seconds she was able to uncross and stretch her severely stiff and aching arms. Another few seconds past, as the strap that ran between her legs eased and fell away, before a similar process took place at her back. Suddenly, her arms were being pulled forwards, and she found the restrictive garment slipping off her. Now only wearing the boots and pair of black tights, and therefore naked from the waist upwards, self-consciously Saskia quickly covered her breasts with her arms. Although she couldn't see at present, she sensed the three latex-attired lackeys staring at her. And this sense of vulnerability was soon to become more acute, as her feet were lifted in turn and the boots swiftly removed, before she felt a set of hands grab the waistband of her only remaining garment, and the soft silky hose began to slide gracefully over her abdomen and down her thighs.

But if this sense of exposure made Saskia uncomfortable in the extreme, her unease proved to be short lived, for as soon the mesh of the tights had cleared her feet, she found herself being forced to step from the carpeted floor onto a cold, ridged surface that she took to be the interior of the shower cubicle. A bar of soap was thrust into her hand at this point, before the sound of the Perspex door closing was quickly followed be a torrent of water hitting her. Cold at first, the downpour soon warmed up to a pleasant enough temperature, and Saskia quickly soaped herself down; finding the cascading flow both refreshing and comforting, despite the thought at the back of her mind that she was still being watched from the other side of the see-through screen. After what must have been three or four minutes, during which Saskia had ample time to lather up and rinse down again, the surge of water suddenly diminished and stopped, and the sound of the door being pulled back was followed by a pair of hands grabbing her left arm and removing her from the partitioned shower unit back into the main body of the room. For a second or two she was left to stand in her dripping nudity, before a large, soft towel was thrust into her hands. Wrapping this makeshift shroud around her body, Saskia began to rub herself down; grateful that this modesty saving sheet shielded her from the trio, whose silence whilst she dried herself seemed both unnerving and slightly sinister. She had just finished wiping the last residual drops of water from her legs, however, when the towel was suddenly grabbed without warning and taken away. But before she had time to even contemplate the ramifications of another bout of nakedness, fabric of a very different feel and texture was being offered to her. Grasping this, Saskia's fingers explored the soft, stretchy material for a few seconds, before the realisation hit her that this was an item of clothing that she had been handed, and that she was being expected to put this newly acquired garment on.

In her blindness, it took Saskia a minute or more to work out what form this unorthodox article of clothing took, but once she had sussed out that it included both arms and legs in its design, it didn't take too great a leap of logic to realise that this was a spandex cat-suit, similar to the ones that she'd witnessed Cathy and Bethany wearing on the night of the party. Eager to get the one-piece, figure hugging number on, in order to cover her now goose-bumped flesh, Saskia worked as quickly as she could to pull the gently yielding mesh fabric over her feet, up her legs and body, before slipping her arms into the sleeves. The suit was ultra-tight and clung to every square inch of her still slightly damp skin, but after a minute or two of effort she found herself enrobed in the hugging material. At this point, one of her guards stepped up close behind her, and without warning drew the zipper at the back up from her waist to her neck, so that she was now covered from ankle to throat. For a second or two, she panicked, as three sets of hands briefly stroked her limbs and body. It soon became obvious, however, that this was merely to iron out any kinks and wrinkles in the garment.

This smoothing of her body-suit proved to be a gentle process, but the next action taken by the unseen trio was of a more forceful nature, as Saskia suddenly felt her arms being firmly grasped and her hands wrenched vigorously and pulled together behind her back. Immediately, she felt something being wrapped around her wrists and drawn tight, so that they could no longer be parted. The rope dug deeply into her, even through the protective layer of spandex over which this bond was being applied. As the merciless cord was wound several times around her lower arms, with each pass making the whole thing tighter and more secure, instinctively Saskia found herself stretching the muscles in her wrists to their limits, and trying to leave as much of a gap between her hands as she could. The premise she was working on was that, once left to her own devices, if she relaxed and let her arms go limp, she might - hopefully - have created enough leeway to allow her to slip her hands free. Whether this was a viable plan or not, she had no idea at the time, and as the bond neared completion with the securing of a knot somewhere that her stretching fingers couldn't reach, she began to experience grave doubts as to her abilities to pull off this daring escape bid, due to the firm and relentless grip the cord now had on her.

But these thoughts of somehow releasing herself from her bonds would have to wait until she was alone, with time on her hands to experiment with her theory. For now, although eager to put her hypothesis to the test, she managed to curb her enthusiasm and stem the urge to begin tugging at the rope, so that her guards wouldn't become suspicious of her motives. With her hands tied, she felt the padlock that held the hood in place being removed, followed seconds later by the leather sliding up over her face. With the return of her sight, Saskia found herself being led out of the bathroom and along the bleak, dimly lit corridor. After only a few yards, however, their destination was reached, as one of the latex-clad figures pushed open a creaking door, through which the bound and gagged captive was ushered.

Saskia gazed into a room devoid of furniture save for a solid wooden upright chair placed in the centre of the room, directly beneath a single unshaded lightbulb that hung from the ceiling. But although this was the only source of light in the modest sized cell at present, Saskia noticed a set of long black curtains that hung down to the floor on the wall directly opposite the entrance, and assumed that there must be a window - or in her thinking, another way out of the room - concealed behind these thick, ancient looking drapes.

There would be no way of investigating whether this was the case or not for the time being however, or - even if her assumption proved correct - whether this was a possible point of escape from the house. The nearest she was allowed to the tantalisingly obscuring curtains at this point in time proved to be the chair, onto which she now found herself being required to park herself. And as soon as she was seated, the triumvirate began the process of ensuring that this was exactly where she stayed, by the application of a seemingly never ending supply of soft white ropes, which the black-suited figure had brought along with her in a large holdall bag. Firstly her legs found themselves being wrapped tightly together in several places, the lowest being her ankles, with the uppermost wound tightly around her thighs; each bond being cinched and knotted with ruthless efficiency. Then the operation to unite her body with the heavy item of furniture began in earnest, as she watched in helpless dismay whilst the trio worked away at securing her from the shoulders downwards onto the sturdy wooden structure. Her feet, she was soon to discover, were destined to be pulled backwards to the limits of their endurance up underneath the chair's seat, before being attached with callous disregard for her comfort, and secured in such a way so as to prohibit her lowering them back to the ground.

Only once they'd decided that Saskia's slender frame and that of the chair had now become an inseparable item, did the cruel endeavours of the single-minded slave-girls come to a halt. Although satisfied that their now immobilised captive was going nowhere, Saskia still found herself under constant scrutiny, as they stood by the exit, never taking their eyes off her. But what were they waiting for? As if in answer to Saskia's unspoken question, after no more than a minute or two, the sound of high heels reached her ears; at first faraway and faint, then gradually building in volume as the wearer approached. Within seconds, Dolores was standing in the open doorway, a bottle of mineral water in her hand.

"Well now Saskia, are you impressed with my girls' binding techniques? What do you think, on a scale of one to ten?"

She walked twice around the motionless chair-bound female, looking at, but not touching, the ropes that now held Saskia in such restraining circumstances.

"That all looks extremely impressive. I'd have to give that at least a nine."

She retraced her steps back to where her loyal subjects stood.

"Well done girls, I'll take things from here. If you could just finish getting the Grand Hall ready for Bondage Class tonight, then report to the main cellar, where I've got a special treat laid on for you. I'll be along in half an hour or so."

Without blinking, the three filed out of the room; the silver-suited figure leading the way, followed by her pink and black attired colleagues. Once their footsteps had faded, Dolores turned her attention to the only other female left in the room. She held up the bottle.

"My girls may have done an excellent job of tying you up Saskia, but I bet they've forgotten to offer you any refreshments. That's a bit remiss of them, and something that I'll have to punish them for later. But now..."

She moved forward and began picking at the tape on Saskia's face.

"...I'm sure you must be getting a bit parched, after all this time without a drink."

Having located the stuck down end, Dolores began peeling the strongly adhering strips away as quickly as she could, with scant regard for the flesh on her prisoner's face. The force used caused Saskia to squeal in anguish, as it felt as if her skin was coming away along with the reluctantly yielding tape. With this sealant finally removed, Saskia's whole face felt raw and burning, but she was given little time to dwell on this unpleasant sensation, as immediately, the stuffing in her mouth was wrenched out from behind her teeth; almost pulling several incisors out with it. Gasping in agony, Saskia was given no time to protest at this brutal treatment, nor even take in more than a swift gulp of air into her lungs, before the water bottle was thrust at her face and upturned, so that the contents emptied into her unprepared mouth. This enforced refreshment break proved to be a mixed blessing as, coughing and spluttering, Saskia fought to take in some of the cool, reviving liquid without choking. But as suddenly as it had started, the flow of water ceased again, and she was just given enough time to swallow and clear her throat, before a ball of rolled up material - a pair of old tights on this occasion, rather than the towelling relinquished only minutes ago - was inserted into her oral cavity. Fresh tape immediately followed, being positioned over the still smarting areas of skin which its forerunner had so recently been violently ripped from.

"There, I'm sure that feels a lot better now that you've been able to lubricate your throat. And having a nice new gag will make thing seem a little more pleasant too, I would imagine."

Dolores walked around the chair to stand behind her strictly bound captive, and Saskia caught a glimpse of what looked like a silk scarf in her hand as she did so. But if she was in any way uncertain of exactly what purposed this latest accessory might serve, she was soon to be enlightened, as the soft material was pressed firmly across her eyes, and everything went black. And the blindfold quickly tightened around her head, as Dolores secured a knot to ensure that this latest sensory depriving bond was beyond removal.

"Okay Saskia, I think that should hold you for a little while. As I said earlier, this afternoon I've got some activities lined up for you to participate in, which will involve fresh air and a good deal of physical exercise. So if I were you, I'd use the next few hours wisely, by relaxing and getting some rest. Once I've sorted out the special treat for my servants, I'll be taking some quality time to chill out as well. But don't worry, I'll be very close at hand if you need anything."

Although unable to see the speaker, Saskia was certain that Dolores would have had that evil grin on her face as she spoke. But the echo of these words was soon eclipsed by the sound of the door slamming shut and a key turning in the lock; informing her that she was both alone and trapped within this small, makeshift prison cell.

Far from being in any way phased by the solitude which now engulfed her, however, Saskia had been looking forward with anticipation to the moment that she was no longer in the company of either Dolores or any member of her faithful staff. For she had got it into her head that she was going to escape from her bonds now, however daunting that task might at first appear. Saskia was certain that expanding the muscles in her wrists as they'd been tied, had in some way made her arms slightly bigger and bulkier than they would have otherwise been, and that this state of affairs would, once she relaxed - as Dolores had advised her to do - give some scope for working her hands free. Her initial explorations of the rope, however, didn't seem to confirm her optimism on this front, as after allowing her arms to go as limp as possible, she could find very little leeway in the tightly bound cords, and her attempts at yanking and tugging one hand away from the other went unrewarded. But Saskia was nothing if not stubborn, and with the stakes so high, she knew that she had to persevere. For surely even strong rope had to have its breaking - or at least weakening - point...didn't it?

For what must have been at least an hour, or maybe a bit longer, the answer to this question seemed to be in the negative, as try as she might, all Saskia's wrenching and wriggling come to nothing. But just as she was about to concede defeat, without warning the rope around her left wrist suddenly loosened. It wasn't as if the whole bond suddenly gave way and allowed her hands to part, or anything like that, but this ever so slight slackening of the until now obstinate binding gave Saskia fresh heart, and she upped her struggles to a degree where she was groaning with pain and grunting with the effort of concentration into her gag, as she desperately fought to widen the gap in the still tight ligature.

Then, all of a sudden, the sounds of frustration turned into a muffled yelp of triumph, as in an instant her left wrist began to slide up through the breach created by her persistence, and seconds later she was removing the vestiges of the bond from her hands and rubbing her sore wrists to get the circulation going again. Dolores and her henchwomen had, she realised with great delight, made a grave error of judgement - their first in her time here - by not binding her elbows together, or attaching her wrists to the back of the chair, or using some stronger medium such as handcuffs to keep her in check. Had they simply become sloppy? Or underestimated her capabilities and her will to be free? Whatever the reason, Saskia was simply grateful for her big break.

Once her fingers had recovered some feeling in them, Saskia wasted no time in ripping the blindfold from around her head. Then it was a question of removing the clinging tape from her face. There was a dilemma here however, because she had to weigh up the pros and cons of urgency versus damage and pain limitation; urgency insofar as she knew that she wouldn't have forever in which to release her other bonds, and that Dolores might return at any moment before she was in a position to make her getaway; and damage limitation in regard to the severe torment that stripping the tape away from her already tender skin at high speed would engender.

A sudden, dull sound from somewhere outside the room, soon made Saskia's mind up for her. The noise may have been nothing more than a floorboard or door jamb expanding or contracting, or water settling in one of Shackleton Grange's ancient pipes, but it was enough to convince Saskia that speed was more important than comfort. Grimacing as the tape came away from her face, she quickly removed the saliva sodden tights from her mouth and began the task of untying the multitude of other ropes that still held her in their unforgiving grasp.

Saskia's knowledge of being tied up, prior to her capture two days ago, had been limited to what she'd observed in films and television dramas. Inevitably, in these fictional scenes, the bound person, once discovered, is usually shown as being released from their bonds within a second or two of their liberator laying a finger on the ropes, as if knots and hitches simply slipped away at the merest of touches. And the same principle always seemed to apply if the victim managed to get free without assistance.

As Saskia was soon to discover, however, reality was somewhat different. For a start, locating the knots on some of the stringently tied bonds proved a trial in itself, as a number of them - such as the rope used to anchor her shoulders to the chair - had been secured at her back. Then there was the problem of unpicking the knots, which had been pulled so tightly to prevent slippage, that unravelling them proved a time consuming process, and saw Saskia break many a nail in the process. Another problem presented itself once the ropes around her torso had finally fallen to the floor, as it then became apparent that releasing her ankles from the underside of the seat involved unnatural contortion of her body, and her fingers stretching to their limits in order to reach the elusive knots. Notwithstanding these trials and tribulations, after what seemed like hours, but was probably in reality no more than twenty minutes, Saskia at last found herself able to stand up and relax the tension in her cramped and painful leg muscles without hindrance. She'd done it; she had got herself free from what she - and indeed Dolores and her helpers - had assumed was an inescapable predicament.

But had she? Although now free from her fetters, there was still the problem of getting out of the room, then finding a way to exit the house and then the grounds, and all without getting recaptured. And the first of these tests, namely getting past the door to the room in which she'd been incarcerated, at first appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle. Rattling the door handle - as gently as she could to avoid being heard - proved what she already feared; that it was locked, and that the old but steadfast panel was unlikely to yield to the amount of pressure she was capable of generating, even if she was to take a run up and slam her shoulder into it.

So was there another way of exiting the room? The only possible alternative seemed to be obscured from her view behind those heavy curtains. Drawing back the dusty, seldom used drapes, however, at first gave her very little cause for optimism that her quest to be away from this house once and for all was in any way closer to becoming a reality. Okay, so the letting in of the bright sunlight revealed a set of French doors, which led out onto a stone balcony. But the fact that the glass panels were locked, with no key protruding from the designated hole, at first made this seem as troublesome a barrier to her freedom as the more conventional exit had been.

But such was Saskia's determination to succeed in her bid to break out, that she did exactly that. Realising that this door was not of recent vintage, and was of a far less robust construction than the door that barred her from exiting the way she'd come in, Saskia began searching for a weak point, and soon noticed that the central part of the wooden frame, where the two halves joined, had warped slightly with age, and that a sliver of daylight could be seen in the ensuing gap. Fear that the panes might shatter and cut her, or that the sound of splintering glass might attract unwanted attention to her antics, meant that Saskia pushed only tentatively at first on the central stile. But as this didn't yield the hoped for results, she began to shove a bit harder, and after a minute or more, her patience paid off, as the wood splintered and the two halves of the door suddenly flew open.

The sun on her face and the warm breeze in her hair had the effect of causing Saskia to pause in her quest for freedom momentarily, as she stepped onto the balcony and closed her eyes; taking in the sounds and smells of the great outdoors, which she'd wondered if she would ever experience again. Upon opening her eyes and looking over the parapet, however, she realised that she was still far from home and dry in her mission to put as much distance as possible between Dolores and herself. For it was only now, as she recalled the number of flights of stairs that she'd had to climb in order to reach her lofty place of confinement, that the fact that this was the third floor of the building suddenly hit her. The sheer drop to the courtyard, far below, made any thoughts of jumping unfeasible, unless she was prepared to risk life threatening injuries in the process - which she wasn't. What about climbing down? Looking around at the walls, Saskia could spy a few ancient and fractured drainage pipes running vertically from the gutters down to the ground below, but none that could be relied on not to break, and more importantly, none that were reachable from her vantage point. And the walls, though uneven in places, showed no signs of hand and foot holds that could be used to safely make her descent without the use of crampons and ropes. For although she did have some of the latter at her disposal, the length of these precluded any bid at abseiling down that she may have briefly entertained.

So that left only one alternative. To her left, on the same level as the balcony from which she now surveyed the scene before her, and at a distance of around four feet from the low stone wall that surrounded her particular eyrie, another, almost identical structure protruded from the ancient stonework of Shackleton Grange. And this balcony was reached, from the inside, by an identical window to that which she had just broken through; the difference being that this one was already standing slightly ajar, as if someone had opened it to air the room. Was this room occupied? Would she be able to make her escape if she managed to enter through those enticingly open French doors, or would this room also prove to be locked from the outside? Although there were a vast number of unknowable factors that could, potentially, prove stumbling blocks to her plans, Saskia had no real alternative but to take her chances. Climbing up onto the crumbling stone rampart, and taking care not to look down, lest the drop caused a bout of vertigo to overcome her, Saskia braced herself and jumped. Although the leap was of a distance that, had the drop been of only a few feet, she wouldn't have given a second thought to, the elevation made Saskia close her eyes as she thrust herself forwards, and for what seemed an eternity she felt like she was in mid air, and that she must have misjudged her distances and now be careering back towards earth. It was an illusion, of course, brought on by her fear of heights, and the reality of the situation was that, a split second after takeoff, she landed on the opposite side of the gaping chasm and promptly stumbled down onto the floor of the balcony. For a few seconds, she stood regaining her composure, still not daring to gaze over the edge, in case the knowledge of what she'd just achieved triggered a delayed reaction and caused her dizziness to return.

Having recovered her poise, Saskia turned her attention to the room into which she was about to make her entrance. Opening the doors wider, so that she could poke her head inside and check that the coast was clear, she encountered a set of blackout curtains, similar to those in the room she'd just exited, but cleaner and newer looking. With caution, she pushed these aside and entered. The room was not only in darkness, but silence also reigned, suggesting that she was alone. To find her way to the door, however, she needed more light, and the quickest way to achieve this state was to pull back the curtains a few inches. This Saskia did, before turning towards the door. The room, it appeared, was a large and spacious bedroom, and a well furnished one at that, with wardrobes, dressing tables, and various other items of expensive antique furniture dotted around the plush carpeted floor. Pride of place was taken by an enormous four poster bed.

Saskia was more interested in leaving this room as quickly as possible, than she was in inspecting the furnishings or the paintings that hung on the walls. She had taken no more than two steps in the direction of the exit, however, when she was stopped in her tracks by the sight laid out before her on the bed...

...and her jaw dropped in astonishment!

Chapter 22 - Dolores' Little Secret (added: 2018/04/19)

Dolores entered her spacious boudoir and closed the door behind her. To ensure that she received no uninvited visitors for the next hour or two, she secured it with the small key that protruded from the lock, before testing the handle to ensure that it was no longer capable of being opened. Not that this was a particular concern to her, as neither her three servants, nor the equal number of reluctant house guests that currently resided here, should have had any way of making it to the entrance of her own private apartment.

But Dolores wanted to make certain. After all, what she was about to do was a secret known only to herself. Not even her three trusted ladies-in-waiting had any inkling of what she got up to every now and then in the privacy of her own quarters, and she was keen to ensure that it stayed that way.

Dolores walked across to the large French windows that offered a sweeping vista of the grounds of her mansion, and beyond this, the rolling countryside of east Suffolk in all its hazy mid-morning splendour. It was a beautiful late spring day, and the room felt stuffy and unaired, so to alleviate this Dolores turned the key in the lock and pushed one half of the window open a few inches. Turning away, however, she was careful to ensure that she pulled the heavy curtains across to shut out the light, as creating an atmospheric environment was an essential part of the routine that she was about to embark on.

Dolores smiled to herself as she turned on the bedside lamp. The thought of Cathy and Bethany languishing in their tight bonds in the Training Room, whilst they were fed a constant stream of bondage videos and subliminal messages designed to infiltrate their brains and make them understand how wonderful their lives could be if they just stopped resisting and accepted their fate, sent a shiver of pleasure tingling up her spine. And even better than that was the realisation that she had another, equally tied and trapped young female prisoner in her clutches, who would be providing her with much needed entertainment during the course of the coming week. In fact, this latest arrival was currently ensconced only a few feet away in the next room. And the knowledge that Saskia was only the thickness of a wall from her made the thrill of this morning's quest even greater, as the thought that her captive was so near, yet completely oblivious to her antics, sent goose-pumps of delight surging throughout her body. For wasn't part of the thrill the knowledge that others were in the immediate vicinity, yet unaware of the strange goings-on so close at hand?

But it wasn't only her house guests that were currently in a state of helplessness. Her servants, too, had succumbed to their Mistress' sadistic streak today, as Dolores had decided that, just to be on the safe side, she would make certain that they too were unable to pry into the strange scenario which their boss was about to become embroiled in. To this end, she'd devised a new and, to her, ingenious method of ensuring that they remained where she'd left them, with no chance of escaping and ruining her plans.

So, of the seven women currently resident at Shackleton Grange, six of them were currently in tight, inescapable bondage; gagged, shackled and without hope of release until Dolores made the decision to show them some mercy.And soon, six would become seven.

Sauntering across the room, Dolores approached one of the room's three vast wardrobes. Opening the door, she gazed in to the depths of the dark space. The other two wardrobes held the clothes worn when she needed to show her respectable 'lady of the manor' face to the world; outfits that she dressed up in when leaving the grounds to venture out in public. But this particular closet - the largest of the three - was where she kept her everyday wear; the clothes that she habitually poured herself into when she was at home; indeed, the clothes she wore through choice and was most comfortable in. Peering in at the rows of neatly regimented garments, her eyes fell upon the stunning array of cat-suits that she always favoured. Some of leather, others manufactured from latex, PVC or spandex, the majority in black, although with the occasional brightly coloured number thrown in for good measure. Dolores ran her hand slowly over the contrasting fabrics and sighed, blissfully. The mere feel of the material on the tips of her fingers sent shockwaves of delight through her, as the memories of how magnificent each constricting garment felt when she wore it welled up in her mind. For a minute or more she stroked any individual item that took her fancy, remembering specific incidents or special times she'd had whilst this particular cat-suit had been clinging to every curve of her body.

But after a few moments of recalled bliss, Dolores shook herself out of this reverie. Time was passing, and the longer she dithered here, the less quality time she would have to pursue her intended course of action this morning. Settling on a black latex number that glistened, as if wet, in the glow of the bedside light, she pulled this from the line of loosely hanging fetish-wear and took it over to the four poster bed. Sitting down on the counterpane, Dolores swiftly pulled the high heeled leather boots from her feet, then began disrobing from the leather one-piece outfit that she'd put on earlier this morning. The removal of this tightly fitting suit was not a quick process, as the tight, clinging hide only reluctantly glided in a downward direction over her body and legs, until finally it lay in a heap on the carpet. Picking this up and throwing it over the back of a nearby chair, the now naked woman walked across the room and pulled open a drawer in her dressing table. This revealed an untidy stash of more pairs of tights than could be easily counted; like the cat-suits, nearly all in black, with just the occasional coloured or patterned pair visible. Picking out a plain, 40 denier pair from amidst the chaos, Dolores closed the drawer again and headed back to the bed. Pulling the tights on was the easy bit, and within seconds the waistband snapped against the skin of her abdomen as her fingers released their grasp on the mesh. Getting the rubber cat-suit on proved a slightly more lengthy task, however, as inching the too small article of clothing up her legs and thighs, then over her hips, whilst ensuring that any wrinkles were ironed out as she went along, proved a strenuous activity that lasted several minutes. But it was worth it as far as Dolores was concerned, and when finished, and she could study herself in the full length mirror on the wardrobe door, she felt a shudder of indescribable happiness shoot through her, as the image it revealed showed off her shapely figure and long slim legs to maximum effect.

But getting dressed was only a preliminary exercise. For Dolores the fun was only now about to start. Kneeling down and reaching into the bottom right hand corner of the wardrobe, Dolores pulled out an old suitcase. Battered, scratched and almost bursting at the seams, this ancient luggage transporter had seen better days, and seemed to be on the verge of completely falling to pieces. But it wasn't the container itself but the contents that were of interest to Dolores now, as she hurriedly placed it on the bed and clicked the two catches back, before pulling the lid upwards. The opening revealed a vast array of what could be considered the tools of the trade for the bondage obsessed Mistress, namely ropes, gags, handcuffs, hoods and straps; all neatly lined up and arranged ready for use at a moment's notice. Dolores was used to dealing with such items on a regular basis, but notwithstanding the everyday nature of the bonds and fetters laid out before her, a sense of awe overcame her as she gazed upon her secret stash of equipment, and she felt her heart pounding hard in her chest with the excitement of it all. For these ropes were not intended for the limbs of her three captives, nor even her ever submissive servant girls. No, these ropes and other bonds were special, and had been kept apart from all the other bondage paraphernalia that was stored in almost every other room of the house. And the reason for this secrecy? Because these particular ligatures were reserved for the personal use of Dolores, and Dolores alone.

Not only did nobody else have any inkling that this cache of bonds and shackles existed, but not another soul knew of Dolores' little secret, namely that, when time allowed - which was all too infrequently as far as she was concerned - she loved to tie herself up.

From an early age, Dolores had always thought of herself as the dominant partner in her bondage relationships. And this was reflected in her current position as Mistress of the BATH society and absolute ruler of Shackleton Grange. She loved tying the women who came to her classes, parties and weekend events, and she loved to watch her guests tie and be tied. Never once had she put herself forward to play the submissive role during any of these activities, because to do so would be to show weakness, and she could never allow herself to be thought of as weak or not in control. And ninety nine percent of the time she was fine with this arrangement, as her sadistic side shone through, and she revelled in the fact that she had total power over her victims, be they guests, her three obligingly docile servants, or anyone who happened to get caught snooping around on her property, or poking their nose into affairs that didn't concern them. The latter class of bondage fodder were, of course, now in abundance, and Dolores smiled to herself as she thought of the complete control she had over her three helpless and quite frankly terrified victims. It served them right for trespassing.

But how did it feel to be tied up? What exactly did the women who succumbed to the strict states of imprisonment that she so gleefully saddled them with, experience as they tried to escape? What were their emotions as they either revelled in their helplessness, or desperately tried to get away? How did the inability to move feel? What was it like to have tight ropes, chains or other fetters digging deeply into your flesh and refusing to yield? For years, Dolores had asked herself these questions, but her dominant nature had always precluded answers being found.

But then one day, a few years back now, Dolores' inquisitive nature got the better of her. Bored of simply asking herself the same questions over and over again, she resolved to find out what the fuss was all about. After all, there were many women out there who seemed quite happy to submit to her binding skills, some of whom came back again and again to repeat the experience, so she figured that there must be something in this that fascinated them. But how was she to obtain this knowledge? Not wanting to be seen to give in and become the property of some other dominant female, there appeared to be only one other alternative open to her: self bondage.

So Dolores had begun to dabble in tying herself up; first just with ropes, then progressing to chains, gags, hoods and handcuffs. And the more she experimented - although she hated to admit it, even to herself - the more she grew to like the sensation that being trapped and unable to move freely brought into play. She still saw herself as predominantly one who liked to take command, rather than lose control and surrender to another's will, and she would never, ever - she made a solemn promise to herself - allow her fascination with the other side of things be known to another living soul. But the fact remained that, every now and then, Dolores felt a strong and irresistible urge to tie herself up in situations that bordered on, but never totally crossed the line of, inescapability.

And today just happened to be one of those days. Having ensured that all other residents of the house were wrapped and trapped, tied and denied, Dolores retired to her private apartment to indulge herself in strict bondage for a few hours. There had to be an element or two of danger in the scenario she planned to entrap herself in, as this kept the pulse racing and the adrenalin flowing due to the unanswerable question, namely: Will I be able to get out of this or not? To date, the answer had always been yes, notwithstanding the fact that there had been a few close calls where she'd nearly crossed the boundary of no return. But that was all part of the fun. Although what she'd do if she really did find herself in a situation that she couldn't break free from, she had no idea. But concerns such as these were heavily outweighed by her eagerness to mimic the severe states of bondage that she normally reserved for others.

Setting out several coiled up lengths of rope in a neat row on the bed, Dolores did a quick estimate of how many she would be requiring to complete the network of bonds that she was intent on hampering her limbs and body with today. A ball-gag, a leather eye-binder and a set of shining steel handcuffs also found themselves being laid out for use, before the case and the remainder of its contents were hurriedly removed and laid on the floor. Everything was nearly ready for the Mistress to transform herself into the very opposite of the image that she normally portrayed to the world. But first there were just a couple of preliminaries that needed to be taken care of before the first rope was tied. Taking a piece of string from her bedside table, Dolores pulled the key from its resting place in the lock of one of the steel bracelets and threaded the slim but strong thread through the bow and knotted it so that it couldn't slip off. Standing on the yielding mattress, she now reached up and looped the string over the vertical wooden rail that ran the full length of the bed and linked the posts at head and footboard to each other at a height of seven feet or so. Tying the ends together, she let the string and its captive key dangle down towards the bed. Stepping down, she assessed the distance between bedding and key as being around four feet. That would mean, once her bondage was complete, she would have no way of reaching this vital component in her bid for freedom without somehow cutting the string. To this end, she placed a pair of surgical scissors on her bedside table. These she would be able to reach, but not without some difficulty.

Now satisfied that everything was in order, Dolores sat with her feet up on the counterpane, took the first piece of her soft white rope and unfurled it. Finding the mid-point, she doubled the cord then placed her ankles as close to each other as she could. Winding the twin strands once around the thinnest section of her legs, she threaded the ends through the bight and created reverse tension, before pulling back in the opposite direction until the rope dug into the latex outfit to a degree where she knew that she wouldn't be able to wriggle her feet out again. Wrapping the remaining length several more time around her ankles, Dolores deftly cinched and knotted the ends, so that there was no chance of the latter working itself free, however violent her struggles.

Taking another rope, she repeated this same procedure to the letter, only this time at a point just below her bent knees. A third bond soon joined its matching counterparts just above the joint, whilst a fourth wended its way around her thighs. For a minute or so, Dolores pulled and strained, trying to discover if her legs could be parted in any way. The answer to this question was a resounding 'no', and with a smile of satisfaction, the semi-bound woman moved on to the rest of her anatomy.

Using the same doubling technique as those used on her legs, Dolores wound the next length of rope around her waist and, once reverse tension had been attained, pulled the rope down through her legs and brought the ends up behind her back, before blindly looping these over the extremely tight makeshift belt and reversing the journey back to its starting point close to her navel. Securing the knot that fastened this bond in place involved the section of cord between her thighs being wrenched upwards as high as it would go, and this action brought an unsolicited purring noise from the Mistress' mouth, as she felt both latex and ligature dig deeply into the most tender and sensitive sector of her anatomy. But she wasn't ready yet to unleash the full, awe-inspiring force that the flexing of this, the answer to all her fantasies and desires, could ignite. For she was as yet still able to speak, see and - more importantly - move her arms.

With trembling fingers, Dolores quickly but diligently created a latticework of ropes around her shoulders and upper torso, pulling each as tight as she could, so that they cut into the latex below and above her breasts. These criss-crossing threads had no real restraining powers as such, but served to highlight these, her most attractive features...in her opinion. And of course, with particular strands strategically placed across her nipples, the friction created would simply add to and enhance the pleasure being generated further down. Dolores shuddered in excitement at the thought of what was soon to come. Almost ready now; just a couple more accessories needed to maximise the ecstasy which would be hers for the taking in a few minutes time.

Next came her noise restrictor; a large but soft rubber ball that fitted snugly into the cavity behind her teeth, as if it had been made to measure, with the two attached straps being pulled around to the back of her neck and buckled so that they would neither slip nor allow the ball to be spat out. Two inches higher, a leather sleep-mask, placed in such a position as to block out all light and tied tightly to avoid it riding up, found its way around her head.

And now it was time for the pièce de résistance; the final part of the jigsaw that would find her - to all intents and purposes - in the same boat as her servants and prisoners...at least theoretically. Feeling around on the bed, Dolores' fingers soon encountered the now keyless handcuffs. Inserting her left wrist into one of the manacles, Dolores sighed with satisfaction as she pushed the arm down to meet with its counterpart. A staccato sound briefly filled the otherwise silent room, which coincided with the cold metal contracting onto her flesh until it encircled her arm to the point where slipping her hand out again became unfeasible. Now it was time for the interesting part.

Laying herself face down on the bed, Dolores bent her legs up behind her as far as she was able. Reaching behind her back until her hands and feet were in close proximity to each other, she passed the unused bracelet over her ankle bond, before grabbing it with her other hand. With all four limbs now stretched to their limits, Dolores fumbled around for several seconds, her free hand grasping the still vacant bracelet, as if jealous of its partner and eager to feel that same sense of restriction. With one hand out of action, getting the second into position, then completing the circle, was quite a tricky operation. But after a few seconds, the connection was made and a repeat of the clicking sound of only a minute or so ago once more rent the still air.

Now strictly hog-tied, Dolores tried to pull her hands apart, but found - as she had expected, and indeed hoped - that this simple task was beyond her. And this caused a muffled murmur of elation to seep through the ball in her mouth. She briefly considered the option of continuing along these lines, and working herself up to fever pitch with her struggles, but decided to postpone this pleasurable activity for a while. Although keen to experience the tumultuous seismic shock that this form of exercise always aroused in her, she knew there was no great rush, and that she could relax and simply enjoy her helpless state for the time being; leaving the physical exertions until later, when her passions would overtake her and she would attempt to scale the highest heights of blissful rapture.

For now though, Dolores allowed her limbs and body to sink into the luxurious padding beneath her. Her mind, however, remained active, and the contemplation of her situation, with a few of her wildest fantasies thrown in for good measure, served to keep her on a mental high more extraordinary than anything obtainable through the use of drugs. The knowledge that her hands were trapped behind her back, that she was incapable of sitting up, and could only roll over onto her side with great difficulty, caused a lightning bolt of glee to instantly rip through her. And the fact that the key - the only way out of this whole predicament - couldn't be reached in her present state, and that she would have to cut her ankle bond before she had even the remotest chance of getting into a position where she was capable of stretching high enough to grasp and release it, only made the feeling of helplessness a hundred times more acute. Of course, cutting the cord was only feasible if she had something sharp to sever it with. And the only thing available that could be utilised for this purpose was the pair of scissor on the bedside table; so close and yet - in her present condition - so far away. But manoeuvring herself into a position close to where the scissors lay was only part of the problem. The fact that the blindfold had left her in a world of darkness, meant that locating first the table, then the blades, was never going to be an easy quest. She knew roughly in which direction the table lay, but what if she misjudged her awkward, squirming journey and fell off the side of the plush bed and onto the hard floor below? Or even if she did manage to get into a position where her outstretched fingers were positioned correctly to allow her to reach over and grasp the scissors, what were the chances that, in her clumsiness, she might knock them onto the floor, where she would never be capable of retrieving them? The fact that she was gagged made calling for assistance out of the question, but this was of little relevance anyway, when she considered that everyone else in the house was tied up as tight, if not tighter, than herself, which meant that no one would be coming to her aid.

But far from in any way worrying or frightening Dolores, these potential pitfalls produced quite the opposite effect. In fact, the uncertainty of whether she would or wouldn't be able to fashion an escape from this conundrum of her own making, only served to make her feel vibrant and alive. For wouldn't bondage be a bit dull without that constant nagging fear being present in the back of her mind? Surely she wasn't the only one who enjoyed brinkwomanship of this nature?

The contemplation of her own plight eventually brought her thought processes back to the six other women who were currently languishing in similar straits to her own. How were their minds reacting to the predicaments they found themselves in right now? Okay three of them were programmed to endure such extended periods of bondage, and were therefore not really able to experience the same levels of emotion that she and her other guests were going through. And two more of them had just begun their journeys down this long path into slavery, and were currently under the influence of some quite powerful drugs designed to render them mentally pliable and easily manipulated. But that left Saskia, the journalist and would-be detective, who was sitting bound to a chair, unsure of exactly what her fate would be - even in the short term - as Dolores had deliberately been cryptic in revealing her plans for this afternoon. What was going through her mind just now? Panic? Fear? Desperation? Whatever her emotional state, Dolores was certain that Saskia would be doing everything within her powers to get loose from her bonds at that precise moment. And this thought caused another ripple of excitement to infiltrate every extremity of her body, and she found herself envying her latest captive, even to the extent that she wanted to become Saskia at that moment, just to find out what was going on in her brain. And what better way to do this than to struggle as if her life depended on it?

For several minutes, Dolores did a good impression of someone desperately trying to free herself from a perilous situation. But it was all simply an act, of course, as the thought of getting out of her bonds so soon after trussing herself up was the furthest thing from her mind at that precise moment. As the minutes wore on, so the intensity of her ritualistic struggles increased. And these were soon being accompanied by long, drawn out moans and groans, which issued without conscious bidding from behind the stuffing in her mouth. Working herself up into a frenzy, her movements took on a more regular, rhythmic tempo, as her breasts pushed downwards onto the bedding and caused the rope that ran across her nipples to rub against the latex of her suit, which in turn chaffed against her delicate flesh. Up until now, she'd held her hands in tight fists, such were her concentration levels. But now, as the urge to up the ante still further overcame her, she stretched out the fingers on her right hand and grasped the rope that ran down her butt crack and through her legs with such taut precision. Tugging on this meticulously tightened cord in time with the cadence of her upper body, the combination of these actions finally saw her arching her back, throwing back her head and letting forth a cry of utter delight into the empty bedroom, as a patch of the latex between her legs suddenly became warm and damp. Her climax was a thing of such beauty that for a few minutes Dolores continued to pull vigorously with all the energy left in her body, in an effort to prolong the great vibes that seemed to have invaded her entire being. Eventually, however, tired and exhausted, she was forced to concede that the moment had past and that she needed to relax, in order to bask in the afterglow of her wondrous experience. She could, she consoled herself, put on a repeat performance in half an hour or so, once she'd recharged her batteries and recovered the strength necessary to again make the mattress springs squeak, the bed frame creak and the whole room - so it seemed - to quiver and vibrate.

Having sunk her head as deep as she could into the pillow, Dolores lay still, breathing heavily; shattered but content. She had no intention of sleeping at this point, as she wanted to keep the memory of what had just occurred fresh in her mind, so that she could prolong the moment indefinitely. However, this strenuous, energy sapping performance had taken more out of her than she realised, and soon she found her eyelids becoming heavier and heavier. For several minutes she tried to fight the fatigue; both physically, by reconvening her struggles; and mentally by attempting to concentrate on her current situation and that of her housemates. But these attempts to do battle against the inevitable forces of slumber lasted no more than a few seconds at a time, and on each occasion she found herself reverting back to her former state of inertia and drowsiness. How long it actually took her to lose consciousness, she wasn't sure. But after what can only have been a few minutes, Dolores knew no more, and although her body and limbs remained bound and handcuffed, her mind could fly free, to dream of a world where bondage was both the norm and compulsory.

If Dolores had very little idea how long it took her to fall asleep, then the time that she spent in the land of nod was just as unknowable. But what was immediately clear to her - once she recalled where she was and why she couldn't see, speak or move - was that she'd woken with a start. What could have caused this sudden leap from the world of fantasy back to reality? For some reason, the notion came upon her that a noise of some description had brought about this unwelcome interruption of her nap, although what could have caused this was a mystery. Maybe it was the curtains fluttering in the breeze, or the cooing of one of the many doves or pigeons that seemed to find the balcony outside her window an agreeable place to perch. But for some reason, Dolores got the impression that it was something other than these mundane sounds that had awakened her. And, although she had no grounds for this notion, the thought entered her head that something was not quite as it should have been in her private sanctuary. In fact, as she lay still, listening intently, the impression that she wasn't alone, and that someone was watching her from close quarters, grew more powerful as the seconds ticked by. But that was absurd. No one could possibly be in the room with her now...could they?

Even so, this feeling of unease continued to gain momentum, until she found herself turning her head to one side and letting a muffled "who's there?" issue from behind her gag. For a second or two there was only silence, and she was just on the point of sighing with relief and castigating herself for being so stupid, when a noise - to her right and very close at hand - made her ears prick up and a shiver rush down her spine. Unlike those spasms of earlier, however, these involuntary tremors owed nothing to pleasure, but instead stemmed from a rampant fear that suddenly took hold of her. She was just about to attempt to roll over to face the direction from which this sound had emanated, however, when the bedding close to her suddenly dipped down, and a second later the blindfold was being ripped away from her head with some force.

It took a second or two for her eyes to adjust to the comparative brightness of the bedroom after the blackness she had become accustomed to, but when she did, the sight that greeted her caused her to blink in disbelief, and a spontaneous squeak of surprise to spring forth from her lips. This just couldn't be happening. Surely she must still be dreaming...although the fact that everything else about the situation appeared so lifelike, informed her that this was most definitely not an illusion or hallucination.

For there, leaning over her, only a few inches from her face, was Saskia. In one hand she held a pair of scissors, whilst in the other a small key, to which was attached a loosely hanging piece of string maybe five or six inches in length, could be seen. On her face, Dolores detected a gloating smile of satisfaction.

"Well now Dolores. It looks like there's been a shift in the balance of power, doesn't it?"

Although she knew they were otherwise detained at that moment, Dolores found herself screaming for her three latex-clad servants to come to her aid. Her hope was that, with her assailant oblivious to her underlings' current state of incapacity, she might take fright and flee; fearing suddenly being outnumbered three to one. But if Saskia did have any such reservations, then she kept them well hidden. In fact, as Dolores gazed up from her prone position, it occurred to her that Saskia was quite enjoying this sudden discovery of supremacy that she had over the Mistress.

"You know something Dolores? I don't think anybody's going to be able to hear you. I already checked the door and I know it's locked from the inside, which leads me to believe that you didn't want anyone to know about your sad little solitary game. So nobody's going to suddenly come rushing to your rescue."

At this, Dolores pulled hard and long on the handcuffs and lunged upwards as she tried in vain to free herself from bonds that she herself had pronounced unbreakable not that long ago. Saskia laughed.

"Do you really think you're going to get out of that without the key?"

Dolores could have decided at this point to plead for mercy, in an attempt to appeal to Saskia's better nature. But being so used to getting her own way without the need to ask, she chose a different course of action. But far from having Saskia cowering with fear and meekly complying with her demands that she be set free immediately or face the dire consequences, Dolores' outburst simply antagonised her adversary, who appeared to be enjoying this whole debacle more and more as the minutes went by.

"I'm sorry Dolores, but I can't really understand what you're saying. Is this what you're after?"

Playfully, Saskia sat down on the edge of the bed and dangled the key from its severed length of string, only an inch or so from her enemy's eyes. She seemed to interpret Dolores' lunge towards this as a 'yes'.

"Okay, if you want it, come and get it."

Slowly, Saskia rose from the bed and sauntered nonchalantly across the room, maintaining eye contact as she went and still swinging the key provocatively where Dolores could see it. Reaching up, she placed it on top of one of the wardrobes.

"There you go. If you can reach it, you can have it. Otherwise it looks like you might be here to stay for a while, doesn't it?"

She was just about to return back towards her now violently struggling former captor, when she realised that the wardrobe door was slightly ajar. What it was that caught her attention exactly, she wasn't sure; maybe it was the shine of the well polished leather or latex, or the shimmer of spandex as the light from the window seeped through the tiny gap. Whatever the case, Saskia seemed compelled to open the door a bit wider. But it wasn't the regimented line of cat-suits that held her attention for more than a few seconds, nor the equally well maintained line of high heeled boots that stood on the floor beneath. For as soon as the closet's limited interior was revealed to her, Saskia knew that this space could be put to better use.

Quickly emptying every item of footwear out onto the carpet, Saskia peered into the semi darkened cavern, as if trying to gauge whether the space provided by this clearout was fit for the purpose she had in mind. Seemingly satisfied that it was, she walked slowly back to where Dolores still flung herself around in helpless desperation. For the first time, what could only be interpreted as a whimpered appeal for leniency issued from her, up until now, demanding mouth. But Saskia was single-minded in her aim and paid this no attention. Leaning down, she rummaged briefly in Dolores' suitcase, before finding what she was looking for.

Dolores screamed with despair as she saw her leather, eyeless and mouthless hood being straightened out and made ready for use. She'd worn this on several of her self-bondage missions, and knew it to be a tight fit around her skull when fully laced up. She also recalled that it resulted in an experience in total sensory deprivation, what with the padding around the area of the ears and the lack of apertures, save for those at the nostrils. Her protests went unheeded, however, as Saskia skilfully pulled the leather down over the shaking head of the remonstrating woman, as if she'd had years of practice and was an expert in such matters. With the hood in place, Dolores suddenly felt a tightness around her jaw, her cheeks, her temples and the bridge of her nose, as she envisioned Saskia wrenching the laces taut and securing them. But her continued objections to this latest affront to her authority proved futile, as the extra layer across her mouth enhanced the gag, and meant that her verbal complaints became ever more incomprehensible.

But worse was to follow for the dominatrix-turned-submissive, for seconds later, she felt her arms being grabbed and her elbows forced together, before the latter were treated to a lasso of rope which constricted painfully and was soon cinched and knotted to ensure that there was no way it would come loose, no matter how hard she twisted and turned in her fury.

"So Dolores, how does it feel now that the tables have turned? Not quite so self-assured now, are you?"

Dolores let out a wail, both of discontent and fury. But it cut no ice with Saskia, who was clearly relishing the power she now wielded, and was intent on teaching her erstwhile captor a lesson she wouldn't forget - or indeed get out of - in a hurry.

Dolores felt Saskia's hands grasp her upper arms and drag her slowly across the bedding. Once the edge was reached, however, she suddenly felt her head tip forwards, and for a split second she experienced a dizzying sensation as she plunged downwards. The descent to the floor was only a couple of feet however, and her rendezvous with the carpet was softened by the fact that Saskia still held her at the shoulders. Now she found herself once more being dragged in her hog-tied helplessness across the plush rug that spanned the area between bed and wardrobe. The ropes around her breasts rubbed against her nipples as they had when she'd been getting herself off earlier, only now, the uncertainty of her future made this a painful rather than a pleasurable process. The journey, of course, was of short duration, and Dolores had already guessed her destination and the fate that the now zealous Saskia had in store for her.

Lifting the screaming bundle that was Dolores into the sturdy wooden cupboard proved a difficult operation for Saskia, as her opponent put up a fierce show of resistance and tried everything within her severely restricted powers to hinder her impending entombment. But Saskia now had the bit between her teeth, and wasn't going to be stopped by the fact that her captive was bucking and writhing in her agitation and rage. Curses promising revenge also proved no deterrent, and after a few seconds, Saskia had her prisoner where she wanted her. The door slamming shut soon informed Dolores that she was now incarcerated within the confines of her own antique furniture. Almost imperceptibly, due to the wailing and banging that emanated from the now severely chastened Mistress, a key turned in the lock.

For a minute or two, Dolores kept up her passionate fight against what she perceived as her false imprisonment. But at last, with her energy levels depleted, she was forced to take a breather. And it seemed that Saskia had been awaiting this lull in proceedings, before announcing her departure.

"Right Dolores, I'm off to find out what you've done with Cathy and Bethany. But don't worry, we'll be back later, when a decision will be made about what we're going to do with you. Until then, I hope you now begin to appreciate what it feels like to be tied up without hope of escape or rescue...I do so hope that you're enjoying the whole experience!"

Chapter 23 - Saskia's Plans Take Shape (added: 2018/05/27)

Saskia walked out into the hallway directly outside Dolores' apartments, her mind reeling from the discovery she'd just made and - more importantly - what she'd just done. For several seconds, as she made her way towards the nearest staircase, the sound of muffled screams and stifled banging assaulted her ears. But as she put more distance between herself and the hellish rumpus that the Mistress of Shackleton Grange was stirring up, the less pronounced the sound became, until, once on the landing of the next floor down, it faded away, to leave the old house in a state of ghostly silence.

So where were the three servants? Would she suddenly find herself surrounded and overpowered? Saskia took some comfort from the fact that Dolores had mentioned rendezvousing with them in the cellar. So hopefully that was where they still remained. Treading carefully would most definitely be the order of the day, however, just in case they weren't preoccupied in the bottommost area of this rambling old house, which gave her the creeps as she made her way through the maze of tight passages and dimly lit walkways. But these thoughts of being apprehended by the gang of three had to be weighed against her mission now; namely to find and release Cathy and Bethany, if she possibly could. But then what?

Saskia's tentative plans, prior to discovering the Mistress in all her bondage finery, had been to get away from the house as quickly as possible, either with or without her two fellow abductees in tow. If she failed to find them, then she could always raise the alarm once clear of this evil place, by calling the police from a payphone in the village; the whereabouts of her own mobile phone, as well as all the other contents of her bag, being a mystery to her since being drugged and captured on that first afternoon.

But that was before making the earth shattering and extremely fortuitous discovery that Dolores, too, liked to be tied up. And, more importantly, the Mistress had actually saved Saskia a great deal of trouble, by neatly packaging herself up in the room into which she had just happened to stumble.

Saskia had never been interested in bondage before coming here, and would have described herself as a caring person; sensitive to the needs of others, and one who wouldn't have wished ill on anyone. Her discovery of the handcuffed and hog-tied Dolores languishing on her own bed, with the escape mechanism dangling only inches from her gagged and blindfolded head, had, however, brought out a side in her that she had never realised existed. The sight of her tormentor in a state which could easily be made inescapable by one simple action, had awoken a personality trait in Saskia that must have lain dormant for the whole of her young life... until now!

For now Saskia knew that she wanted to make Dolores suffer as much as possible for the anguish, discomfort and fear that she'd put, not only herself, but at least two other women through in the past few days. And what better way to do that than give the evil bitch a taste of her own medicine? As Saskia traversed the long, ill lit corridors of Shackleton Grange, the hatred that she'd initially felt for Dolores, far from decreasing as time wore on, actually seemed to be growing ever stronger, and she vowed there and then that it would be several hours at least before she even contemplated revisiting her now severely restrained former captor. And as she reached the main staircase and began the journey down to the grand entrance hall below, the thought came to her that maybe she - and perhaps Cathy and Bethany when she found them - could use this whole turn of events to their advantage. She hadn't yet worked out the fine details of her masterplan, but she had decided that handing Dolores over to the police to be dealt with by the British justice system was just too lenient a punishment for this despicable creature. Probably the worst she'd get was a couple of years in prison, or maybe less than that. If she got herself a good lawyer she could probably argue that the business setup she had here was all geared up for her target market, and that the women who turned up at Shackleton Grange knew what they were getting into and willingly accepted their fates. Saskia didn't know exactly how her two fellow detainees had come to languish here, but she had discovered that Cathy had form as a burglar, whose modus operandi was to break into large country mansions and take whatever valuables she could carry. So the chances were that she'd been apprehended illegally entering the building, and would almost certainly be reluctant to stand up in court and explain how she came to be here. Or even if she could be persuaded to take the stand, any solicitor worth their salt would assassinate her character in a few minutes and discredit her evidence; making her out as an unreliable witness, whose testimony no jury in the land would believe.

And besides, Saskia herself knew that she could easily be accused of being on the premises without due cause when she was apprehended too, albeit that she would claim she was on the track of suspicious goings-on at the time. Bethany's story of how she came to be here was less clear.

So the more she thought about it, the less certain it seemed that Dolores would get her just desserts for her vile actions. More than likely, she'd just get a slap on the wrist and be told not to be a bad girl in future; at worst, probably a suspended sentence. And a scenario of this kind made Saskia angry, as this simply wasn't good enough. She decided, there and then, that it would be her mission to ensure that Dolores truly suffered for the pain and mental torture that she had been meting out to Cathy, Bethany, herself...and who knows how many others in the past? And if that meant handing out her own form of justice, then so be it.

What Saskia was actually suppressing, although she wouldn't actually admit it even to herself until much later, was that the thought of forcing Dolores to experience an extended period of time in bondage, without hope of release, was something that she was most definitely getting excited about. In fact, the more she contemplated this course of action, the greater the thrill became, as she found herself dreaming up ever more stringent and strict tie-ups and incarceration techniques for a woman who - Saskia had convinced herself - deserved everything that was coming to her.

But she was getting ahead of herself, and she knew it. Shaking herself out of this totally out-of-character frame of mind, Saskia tried to focus on the task in hand; namely to find and liberate her two fellow sufferers. But where to start looking in a house of this magnitude and rambling nature? The cellars, she figured, seemed as good a place as any. For not only had the three servants been asked to meet their leader down there, but the equating of cellars with secure underground places, which in turn became associated in her mind with dungeons, made this a logical place to begin her quest.

Fortuitously, locating the door down to this netherworld proved not to be as difficult as Saskia had suspected, as it stood slightly ajar. No light shone up from the narrow stairwell that disappeared into a sheet of blackness after only a few steps, but even so, Saskia knew that she needed to be on her guard now, lest the servants suddenly materialised before her. The first few steps were easy enough, as the light from the corridor she'd taken to get here gave ample illumination to check where she was placing her feet. After maybe ten steps, however, the passageway spiralled around to hide the doorway, and the way ahead became pitch black and impossible to negotiate. Retracing her steps to the top, Saskia noticed a light switch on the wall close to the door. She hesitated. Should she flick the switch and risk possibly alerting Dolores' feared threesome to her presence here? There was no way she could venture forth without some form of illumination, and she figured that if there was anyone down there, they too must be in total darkness. And what possible reason would they have for willingly waiting down there without being able to see? Logic dictated that, if the trio were somewhere below, then they were not there of their own free will, and therefore unlikely to be too much of a threat to her. A rationalist could probably have picked holes in this argument, but with the stakes so high, Saskia didn't have time to try to persuade herself that there could be a counter argument to her reasoning. As she flicked the switch, she found herself flinching and momentarily closing her eyes, as if the actual act of the light shattering the gloom might bring down untold misery upon her. When nothing untoward happened, however, her spirits rose sharply, and without further internal debate, she started her downward journey. The ancient crumbling stonework was precarious, to say the least, and the fact that condensation incessantly dripped from the ceiling of this little ventilated tomb, conspired to slow her progress down to a snail's pace. Finally, and to her great relief, level ground was once again reached, and Saskia gazed along a corridor with solid wooden doors on either side stretching away into the gloom. None of the doors gave any clue as to whether they had been recently opened, and no light shone from under any of the ancient wooden slabs, nor, when Saskia investigated each in turn, from the small barred window area that each seemed to possess at a height of approximately five feet from the floor.

There was a slight sound evident however, although this was so faint that it would have been easy to miss or ignore it. Which is exactly what Saskia did for several minutes, as she made her way along the line of doors; crossing from left to right then back again to peer into each tiny glass-free peephole for signs of life. But after a while, the noise seemed to get slightly louder and impinged on her consciousness to a degree that it could no longer be disregarded. This disturbance of the otherwise silent cellar took the form of a distinct but monotonous droning sound, which hinted that it had owed its origins to a mechanical or electrical device of some description. But where exactly did it emanate from? Saskia continued along the passageway until she was able to pinpoint its source with some precision. And once the correct doorway had been deduced, there could be no doubt as to it being the genesis of the dull yet incessant aural intrusion. The door, however, differed in one way from all the others she'd passed, insofar as it lacked the small viewpoint that the others all boasted. A key, however, protruded from the lock.

With no visual clues to aid her, Saskia briefly hesitated. Was she brave enough to enter this room, the contents and/or inhabitants of which were unknown and unknowable? Or should she leave well alone? Despite her reservations, Saskia found an inner courage that she hadn't previously realised she possessed, and her reporter's inquisitive nature found her turning the ancient rusted key. It took all her strength, but after a few seconds - during which she began to think it wasn't going to budge - she heard a slight clicking sound and the metal started to move. Once a turn of ninety degrees from its starting point had been attained, the stubborn key would turn no more, but a slight push on the aged wood brought about an inward swing of the obstructing panel, which was accompanied by a slow creaking noise that made Saskia momentarily pause and listen. The only other sound, however, was the persistent droning of the unidentified machinery, and after a few seconds, Saskia resumed her onward journey.

The room, once revealed, seemed to be at least three or four times the size of the other cell-like chambers that she'd peered into since her arrival on the below ground stratum of Shackleton Grange's many levels. Almost entirely in darkness, a set of small lights - of varying colours and brightness, some flashing, others static in their output - projected their pin pricks of illumination into the semi-gloom. The droning sound was now much louder, and was accompanied by what could only be described as the sound of bubbling liquid. Struggling to see what was responsible for the sights and sounds that now enticed her enquiring mind with their mystery, Saskia searched the section of wall closest to the entrance and soon encountered what she sought, namely the switch that turned on the overhead strip light.

The first impression that Saskia gained of this strange chamber, was of a laboratory or research facility, with machines of differing sizes and shapes carrying out their various, and as yet unidentified functions; the source of the light display she'd just witnessed. There were various other pieces of equipment strewn about the place, but the centrepiece of the display, and what immediately caught Saskia's eye, was what appeared to be a glass-sided water tank, which was connected to the flashing, humming machinery by a multitude of wires, cables and pipes which stretched across the floor. At around eight feet tall, each side of this vertically rectangular construction was around four feet in width, and it was clear immediately that this was the source of the simmering water that murmured away in the background. But what caused her mouth to drop and her mind to spin, were the contents of this strange watertight box. For there, clearly visible inside the gurgling maelstrom, could be made out the shapes of three human bodies. With some dread, Saskia edged towards this odd reservoir, fearing that she had come across a morbid scene of violent death. But no, didn't one of the figures just move? Or was it the constantly agitated water causing an optical illusion? Standing next to one side of the reinforced glass, Saskia could now get a good look at what was inside this translucent cistern, and she breathed a sigh that spoke of both relief and astonishment. For the people within this makeshift fish bowl were clearly all female, and wearing what looked like tight, figure hugging wetsuits...and they were alive!

Packed like sardines into the narrow space, Saskia could see the wrists of one of the victims of this bubbling reservoir, and it was evident that these were tied securely behind her back with gleaming white rope that contrasted starkly with her black underwater attire. Her legs too, seemed to have cords wound harshly around them in several places. Walking slowly around the cylinder, Saskia found that the other two women were identically bound, but what confused her was the fact that none of their feet made contact with the floor of their liquid filled prison, and that each seemed to be treading water in a perpetual bid to stay afloat. What was causing them to remain buoyant? Surely they couldn't simply keep their heads above water for hour after hour, however tightly packed in their place of confinement they might be. With their toes around three feet above the base of the tank, Saskia had to gaze upwards to view their heads, and although she could make out that each was wearing some kind of rubber hood, she could garner no clue as to how their nostrils and mouths remained above the surface. But conveniently, at one side of the tank stood a small, lightweight aluminium stepladder and, with curiosity and her fear for the women's safety running in tandem, Saskia had no hesitation in mounting the four steps so that her head was now above the lip of the leak-proof storage chest. The black, blonde and red ponytails that sprung from the crowns of each hood and swum lifelessly in the frothing swell, left her in no doubt that the submerged trio were one and the same with Dolores' three slave girls.

The walls of the tank felt slightly warm to the touch, as did the gently swirling liquid when Saskia dipped one hand in tentatively to test the temperature; the droning equipment's function as heating apparatus now becoming apparent. And the secret of the three engulfed women's survival was also about to be revealed, as it was clear that each of the bound water babies wore an inflated rubber float around her neck, which had been tethered to the container's rim with a short length of rope, ensuring that their heads remained afloat. But although only a few inches from where Saskia stood in shocked amazement, each of the three would-be mermaids seemed to be oblivious to her presence, as each gazed out through the tiny apertures in their otherwise facially obscuring hoods with glazed over, unseeing eyes; their faraway expressions telling of some sort of tranquilising drug having been administered.

Saskia watched the gently swaying mass of tightly bound submarine females for several minutes, her mind swirling and foaming as much, if not more than, the constantly fizzing water before her. If this was the 'special treat' that Dolores had promised her servants, then she hated to imagine what form a punishment might take!

But what was she to do? Should she try to liberate these clearly unhappy souls from the saturated and subdued hell that they'd been placed in? But if she did, would they, in their brainwashed, zombie-like state, turn on her and hand her back to their Mistress, as they were no doubt programmed to do?

After weighing up her options, Saskia decided that it was probably best to continue her search for Cathy and Bethany alone. After all, she now knew that the mind-numbed trio would be causing her no grief in their present state. They seemed to be remaining afloat without too much effort or discomfort, and the stable temperature of the water precluded the fear that they might die of hypothermia or exposure. And if she managed to ascertain the whereabouts of her two genuine fellow prisoners, the three of them could decide their best plan of action together; three heads being better than one when it came to decisions of this magnitude, she figured.

And so, Saskia turned her back on the three water-bound women and made her way back into the subterranean corridor, turning off the light and locking the door as she went, even though there was no real reason to think that these actions would in any way affect the captive trio's abilities to come after her.

The remainder of the cells in this underground network all seemed quiet and undisturbed, so Saskia reckoned that further investigation down here was futile, and that she needed to get back upstairs in order to resume her search. In truth, the dark, dank conditions in the cellar were depressing and not a little spooky, so it was with great relief that she emerged back to a level where windows let the bright sunshine pour onto the floors and walls of Shackleton Grange. Fleeing the cellar at speed, it wasn't until she reached the main entrance hall that she stopped to catch her breath and take stock of the situation. Trying to open the main, double doors that would have given her a panoramic view of the mansion's main driveway with its disused fountain and crumbling statues, proved unsuccessful, as it had been locked by unknown means; whether to keep people out or in was open to debate, although she suspected the latter.

So where should she recommence her search for the illusive duo? As she was on the ground floor, it seemed logical to begin at this level and work her way upwards. On either side of the foyer, long corridors snaked away into the distance from where she stood, appearing almost identical to each other. For no obvious reason, Saskia chose to take the one to her right. Her plan now was to try every door that she came to, in the hope that eventually she'd find the pair of presumably still bound women that she sought.

The quest didn't get off to a particularly auspicious beginning however, as each of the first dozen doors that she tried proved to be immovable. But the thirteenth just happened to be lucky on this occasion, for even before she had reached out to grab the handle, Saskia had spied the thin sliver of metal that stuck out from the keyhole, and immediately knew that she was onto something.

Cautiously, pushing only an inch at a time before stopping to peep through the gap, Saskia found herself with a sneak preview of a room in semi-darkness; the only light seemingly provided by two soundless television screens, which flashed and flickered from their positions along the wall directly in front of her. A third screen, on the right, remained grey and lifeless in contrast to its animated counterparts. What it was exactly that was being transmitted at the moment, Saskia couldn't clearly see from her position at the door, as three high-backed chairs partially obscured the screens and made the action fragmented, although from the little that was visible, she could see that it wasn't a programme that the BBC would broadcast before the 9 o'clock watershed...or indeed at any time. With some trepidation, she moved forward.

Saskia's primary motive had been to focus on whether Bethany and Cathy were the audience for these images that flared across the screens in silence. But by the time she'd almost reached the back of one of the chairs, and now had a much clearer view of the fare on offer, she momentarily forgot her mission, and instead stared open mouthed and paralysed by what she encountered. For there, simultaneously being transmitted on both screens, was a film that concentrated on two young women whose hands were bound high above their heads; so high, in fact, that their rope-bound feet were barely able to touch the floor, and they were forced to remain on tiptoes the whole time, with their arm muscles stretched to the limits of their endurance. Wearing shiny black latex leggings from the waist downwards, which hugged every curve of their hips and long, slim legs, they were topless from the waist up to the neck, where polished rubber once more took over in the form of tightly fitting hoods that clung to the contours of their faces. The only outlets visible in the otherwise all-covering headwear were two tiny slits for the eyes, plus a couple of even smaller apertures in the region of the nostrils.

As Saskia watched incredulously, the duo wriggled around, attempting to pull their hands free. But it was all to no avail, as a close up shot of one of the girl's wrists revealed that the binding was ultra-tight, with the knot placed strategically where her fingers couldn't reach. For thirty seconds or more, the camera concentrated on the escape antics of the bound duo, but soon it became clear that there was a third player in this game, and that this person was also female and dressed in black latex. But whereas the pair were clearly not in control of their own destiny, this third female most definitely was, and it was obvious that she had every intention of asserting her authority over her co-stars. Although she was also wearing a facial mask to conceal her features, it was clear straightaway to Saskia that this third member of the cast was none other than Dolores, with her distinctive long wavy hair flowing down onto the one piece cat-suit that she habitually seemed to favour. Circling her prey twice, the camera briefly zoomed in on the long black appliance in her hand, which was soon shown to be a leather whip of the cat o' nine tails variety.

But for the time being, this was going to be used to tease not torture, as the Mistress went up to each of her captives in turn and gently ran the soft thongs across their naked breasts. It was clear from the way each threw her head back that, far from shying away from this interaction, both embraced its caress on their tender lilywhite skin. If the video had been accompanied by sound, Saskia would have expected to hear sighs of pleasure - albeit muffled ones - emanating from beneath those tight hoods, but the movie continued to play in silence for a minute or two more, as each woman wiggled and squirmed in ecstasy as the whip glided over their now erect nipples. When the camera briefly swung around to Dolores again, it was obvious that she was enjoying the performance almost as much as her two prisoners, as she stood there with that all too familiar smile of dominance playing on her lips; her tongue peeping out from her mouth and flicking upwards to gently lick her bright red lipstick.

For what seemed like minutes, Saskia stood mesmerised yet shocked by the drama being enacted out before her. And she could, if left undisturbed, have probably stood there, trancelike, for several more, if it hadn't been for something diverting her attention away from the action that so captivated and yet disturbed her. But suddenly, however, the mood of the televised proceedings changed dramatically. As Saskia watched in morbid fascination, the whip, used so lovingly only a second or two ago, now took on a very different character, as it slashed with lightning speed across the breasts of one of the tied females, causing her to writhe in anguish and leaving dark red welts clearly visible on her delicate skin. Even though there was no sound accompaniment to this shock transformation in the plot, Saskia found herself flinching. And she was not the only one moved by this unexpected change in the drama, for at this precise second, she sensed movement out of the corner of her eye.

Whether this was the hand flexing on the armrest, or the slight stretching of a foot as it sought a more comfortable position against the leg of the chair, Saskia wasn't certain. But on closer inspection, once her attention had been redirected away from the fictional sequence and back to the reality at hand, she quickly realised that there was - as she'd originally guessed before being sidetracked - someone else viewing the spectacle on screen, and that it was for this person that the televisual delights were actually intended.

Sitting placidly on her upright throne, her head blinkered and strapped to the back of the seat to prohibit her from averting her gaze from the giant screen directly before her, and with a set of headphones bridging the top of her skull, sat Cathy. With her eyes somewhat glazed over, it appeared that she had been drugged, although the movement of her hands and the slight frown that furrowed her brow suggested that maybe the sedative was beginning to wear off. Looking across to the next seat, she noticed Bethany, similarly strapped. The action on screen still had both women enthralled, and Saskia knew instantly that the way to put a stop to this brainwashing operation was to remove the stimuli. Turning around, she looked for some indication of how she could turn the televisions off, but no means of so doing were immediately evident, and she assumed that this function could only be achieved remotely, or from a control panel elsewhere in the house. So if the screens couldn't be switched off, then the only way to end this attempt at mind control was to get Bethany and Cathy away from the source of the problem.

Stepping forward, Saskia stood directly in front of Cathy, blocking her view of the broadcast that she'd been unblinkingly watching for... how long? Briefly, a look of incomprehension came over Cathy's face, as she failed to grasp the cause of this interruption to her line of vision. Moving quickly now, Saskia first pulled away and discarded the headphones that covered Cathy's ears, then began unbuckling the strap that held her head in check. As she did so, she watched Cathy's eyes, at first still set straight ahead, suddenly turn upwards to gaze at the woman in front of her. A look that said 'who are you and what are you doing to me' briefly crossed her face, before a realisation of semi-recognition broke through - as if she was trying to recall where she'd seen Saskia before. For her part, Saskia began talking softly to the still fettered woman, reassuring her that everything would be alright and that she'd have her free in just a minute.

"Don't worry, you're safe now... I'll have you out of this in no time... Everything's going to be alright...Nobody's going to hurt you."

Undoing the straps that held Cathy in such unforgiving restraint proved a longer process than Saskia had at first imagined, due to the severe stringency of the leather fetters, which made the fastened buckles tricky to unleash. This was exacerbated by a degree of clumsiness on Saskia's part, as in her eagerness she tried to work as swiftly as possible - too quickly, in fact - and ended up butter-fingered and ineffectual. Finally, however, Cathy's body and limbs found themselves released from their bonds, although in her still semi-dazed state, even once free she made no attempt to rise, but simply flopped lifelessly back onto the chair. Saskia was keen to begin Bethany's release programme now, but it was clear that, if left in this position, Cathy would still be in full view of the ongoing transmissions directly ahead of her. To alleviate her continued indoctrination, therefore, Saskia pulled Cathy upright and dragged her limply drooping body around to the back of the chair and gently deposited her on the floor. Satisfied that the televised offering was now beyond her range of vision, she moved towards the second seat, where the equally stupefied Bethany still sat in ignorance of what had just taken place only a few feet from her.

How many hours Cathy had been forced to sit watching and listening to this bondage propaganda, she had no idea; all conception of the passing of time having been distorted by the potion that had caused her thinking processes to malfunction on a major level. There had been, in the past few minutes, a slight feeling that the powerful drugs were beginning to lose their potency, however, as a certain amount of feeling returned to her extremities, and the ability to control the movement of her fingers became apparent. She was still far from compos mentis, but the subtle physical change had also brought about a shift in her mental functioning, and other thoughts had begun to creep into her mind alongside the interminably subliminal messages and images that had been her only point of reference for what seemed like an eternity. The sudden dark shape that obscured the screen she'd been watching, soon turned out to be the form of a woman, and although slightly familiar, Cathy struggled for several minutes to recall where she'd seen that face before. Was she part of Dolores' team? She didn't think so. It was only once the headphones had been stripped from her head, and her bonds were slowly but surely releasing their vice-like grip on her, that she began to understand that these moments of freedom were not merely some fleeting interim step between one bondage situation and the next, but in fact a liberation that could be - she hardly dared to dream - something of a more permanent arrangement.

And then it suddenly hit her where she'd seen this woman before. In the cage at the party! A fellow prisoner who, it now appeared, had done something that neither she nor Bethany had managed in over a week, namely escape from her bonds! As her still weakened body was lifted and removed from the stream of constant kinky video footage that she'd been subjected to, a kind of joy swept through her, as the end of her ordeal - until now no more than a pipe dream - suddenly took on a more solid reality. Was she really about to rejoin the rest of the human race in the outside world? Or was this a false dawn; an evil trick being played on her by Dolores, who would at any moment appear, to banish her all too short-lived delight and plunge her back into the world of never ending bondage? Too weak to even contemplate seeking answers to these questions on her own, Cathy simply slumped against the rear legs of the immovable chair and waited for her physical strength and mental capabilities to return to something approaching normality.

Meanwhile, Saskia had been working at releasing Bethany from - what she assumed must be - her own private hell. After all, being forced to sit in such tightly inescapable restraints for hour after hour, with nothing to take your mind off the depraved images that you were being force-fed, was not something that any sane woman would willingly submit to, right?

Bethany's befuddled brain registered a hint of annoyance, as the scene she'd been engrossed in suddenly, without warning, disappeared from in front of her. The footage she'd been watching had struck a chord in her from the beginning, and each vignette that flashed across the screen had made her hungry for more. There was something at the back of her mind still warning her that she shouldn't allow herself to become too absorbed in the dramas being enacted before her, and that her real-life situation was dire and not to be trivialised or ignored. But she simply couldn't seem to help herself. There was something just so gorgeously attractive to watching bound women getting off any way they could, and she desired, more than anything else in the world right now, to be allowed to try out each and every position that her dulled senses encountered.

But for some reason her viewing pleasure was now being rudely disturbed. Flexing her eyes to left and right, all she could see were equally dark areas that were the result of the tunnel vision inducing blinkers on either side of her head. But that didn't account for the loss of her forward vision. Even in her drugged up state, Bethany knew that something or someone must be blocking the screen now, and within seconds it became a question of who, rather than what, as a pair of hands ripped away the headphones, and with it their soothing, seductive messages that had kept her spellbound. Seconds later, the pressure around her head lessened to a significant degree, allowing her view of the room to broaden, as the strap with its vision restricting flaps of leather fell away.

Expecting to see Dolores or one of her mute handmaidens standing before her, Bethany gasped audibly through her gag as the face of the woman before her sharpened. Although only beginning to come out of her trancelike state, Bethany quickly recognised her would-be saviour as the journalist who Dolores had mockingly introduced to the assembled multitude at the party...what was her name now? She couldn't remember, and at that moment she didn't really care; her number one priority being to get back to the spectacle being broadcast for her eyes only on the wall ahead of her. And as the woman worked away at unbuckling the straps that held her fast, she found herself glancing over the woman's shoulder whenever the situation allowed, to keep abreast of what was happening on the giant screen.

Bethany put up a modicum of resistance as Saskia finally freed her from the chair and attempted to lead her away from the enticing images that continued to play on the monitor. Unfortunately for her, but luckily for Saskia, Bethany's thoughts were sluggish at present and her actions seemed to require levels of energy not available to her for the time being, and in no more than a few seconds she found herself being escorted through the door and into the corridor beyond, where she was allowed to slump to the floor with the wall at her back. For a few seconds she found herself alone, as the woman disappeared back the way they had just come. But after this brief period of solitude, her still bamboozled brain took in the image of Cathy also being helped through the doorway, before she too was allowed to flop like a rag doll to the floor. As Bethany looked on, the woman who had released them closed the door to the room, cutting out the last vestiges of the flickering lights that had, only minutes ago, so engrossed and enthralled her.

And now the woman was talking, addressing both members of her lifeless audience.

What were the three of them to do now? Saskia had been asking herself this question ever since leaving Dolores tied up in the wardrobe. Okay, a lot had happened to distract her in the meantime, but the question had always been at the back of her mind. And the discovery of the three servants in the cellar, followed by her breakthrough in locating the whereabouts of her two fellow captives, had allowed Saskia time enough to formulate a plan of campaign in her mind. And it wasn't necessarily the course of action that most people would have taken in her position. But the more she thought it through, the more the idea that she'd come up with appealed to her.

The only problem now was selling this radical solution to her two hoped-for conspirators.

Chapter 24 - A Shift in the Balance of Power (added: 2018/06/13)

What do you think would happen if, after having been kept tied up by their host for days on end, humiliated and scared out of their wits, three spandex-clad young ladies suddenly found that they had the run of the rambling old house in which they'd been imprisoned, with all the dungeons and other places of incarceration now available to them, and with copious amounts of bondage equipment such as ropes and shackles just sitting there waiting to be experimented with?

After the ordeal and trauma each had suffered, most victims of the atrocities that they'd been put through would harbour a burning desire to leave this house with its horrific memories, never again to return to the scene of their worst nightmares. After which, the logical action to take would be to alert the authorities to what had occurred, and have the perpetrator arrested, with the hope that she would be jailed for the foreseeable future for kidnapping, false imprisonment and torture.

So the fact that the now freed threesome didn't take this course of action might elicit the raising of an eyebrow with many people. Why, they would ask, did this disparate trio not simply let the police and courts deal with the matter? Well, to answer this question, you'll need to get into the minds of all three young women, whose world's had been turned upside down, and whose lives would never be the same again.

The catalyst for the drastic course that the three were about to embark on was, without doubt, the most recent arrival in the house; the journalist and amateur detective Saskia. Although without the consent and willingness of the other two to play along, none of her plans could ever have come to fruition.

The human mind is a very curious thing. It can be very susceptible to suggestion and the influence that others can bring to bear on it, especially when in a fragile condition or tense situation, such as a crisis or extreme state of emotional shock. And that was the state of play with the mental processes of both Cathy and Bethany as they sat in the corridor just outside the Training Room that Monday afternoon. Added to this delicate state of affairs was the fact that they were only just beginning the recovery process from some powerfully debilitating narcotic substances, which had temporarily left them with their psychological guards down and their capacity for rational thought severely depleted. So the message being delivered by this woman who stood over them - their saviour - was always going to hold sway over other, more logical considerations at that precise moment.

Too lethargic still for physical exertion of any description, the recently released duo sat slumped on the carpeted floor, looking up with bemused eyes at the woman who had removed the tight leather straps from their wrists, ankles and all points in between, before leading them away from the constant stream of bondage propaganda that had been infiltrating their malfunctioning brains for the past few hours. Both still remained gagged; pairs of rolled up tights filling their mouths, which were then held in place by several circuits of grey duct tape that had bonded like glue to their skin. These were the last remnants of their bonds, and Saskia had deliberately left them vocally impaired for the time being; her reasoning being that, as what she had to say was - she considered - quite important, she didn't want to be interrupted whilst delivering her projected plans for what she had in mind for Dolores. Not that either of the pair possessed the mental capabilities to hold a sensible conversation at present.

Saskia began by explaining how she'd escaped from her bonds, before making her daring leap from one balcony to the next. Being accustomed to writing expressive prose, transferring this skill to the spoken word caused her little problem, and she was quickly into her stride; with the journalist in her soon making its presence felt in her long-winded, don't-use-one-word-when-ten- would-be-more-illustrative style. And then she dropped her bombshell, as she explained how she'd found Dolores all tied up by her own hand, lying on the four-poster bed. As she gave her account of what had transpired, Saskia watched the two members of her audience, trying to ascertain exactly how much of this they were taking in. Both seemed to be aware that Saskia was addressing them, as their eyes remained fixed on the speaker as she paced up and down in front of them. When she reached the part where she informed them of Dolores' current incapacitated state, Saskia noticed Cathy's eyebrows rise a fraction of an inch; a sign, she guessed, that the gist of her story was getting through. Bethany, too, showed that her brain had in some way grasped the relevance of what this could mean for all of them, as her eyes - until now heavily lidded and drowsy - suddenly widened. In fine detail, Saskia continued with her tale, explaining how she'd bundled the helpless and now completely harmless Mistress into her own wardrobe, before securing it.

But if the still partially disorientated and confused women thought that the story Saskia had been weaving was by now reaching its conclusion, they were soon to discover otherwise. For as soon as she'd finished her discourse on locking Dolores up, Saskia's monologue segued seamlessly into a graphic description of the next phase of her quest, which involved her excursion into the cellar, where she'd had her encounter with the three bound servants in all their tank-encased aquatic glory.

Under ordinary circumstances, the thread that Saskia was spinning would have been a lot to take in all at once. So imagine what it must have been like for two girls coming around after what could only be described as a trip to oblivion and back. And although Saskia had some inkling that she might be going too fast for her audience, she decided to carry on regardless; figuring that, if the bondage videos and affiliated aural messages had sunk in during their time in mental limbo, then surely her own outpourings could also subconsciously take hold. And anyway, surely getting their minds off the subject matter of the videos and onto something else - albeit still bondage related - as soon as possible must have a good chance of diluting some of the visual and aural poison that had been pumped into their befuddled brains.

Having described her discovery of the fate of Dolores' three servants, Saskia took a long, deep breath, as she prepared to drop her bombshell as to how she aimed to deal with Dolores and punish her for her sins. She'd been monitoring the response levels of her audience of two for the duration of her speech so far, and had noticed a few telltale signs that both were showing symptoms of emerging from their chemically induced stupors. With some trepidation she launched into the next phase of her narrative.

Saskia's plans for how the situation that she had inherited could be used to her own advantage, had been running through her mind ever since she'd found Dolores in all her self-bound splendour. The notion of going to the police with her allegations of inhuman practices taking place in this ancient stately home, in order to have her arrested, were quickly jettisoned from her thinking. The reasoning that she used to build up a solid case for discarding this more obvious solution to the problem, was that any punishment that the courts handed out, even if they were ruthless with their sentencing, simply wouldn't be severe enough for what Dolores had put herself and the two other captive females through. What Dolores deserved instead, she decided in her self-appointed role as both judge and jury, was a taste of her own medicine. And the way this evil bitch would truly be made to suffer for her crimes, was if Saskia, hopefully aided and abetted by Cathy and Bethany if she could convince them to play along, took the law into their own hands. So as it had become apparent that Dolores' plans had been to keep her three detainees incarcerated indefinitely, then the only way forward was to reciprocate by holding their former captor for a similarly indeterminate period of time. Saskia found it easy to convince herself that this was the course to follow, although in reality, deep down, she must have known that this wasn't the only reason - or even the primary one - for her verdict.

No, what Saskia was becoming aware of, yet still trying to suppress in a clear case of self-denial, was that the thought of keeping someone else bound, gagged, chained and helplessly trapped was a big turn on for her. She had never had thoughts like this before in her life, and the concept would probably have been abhorrent to her only a day or two ago. So why the change in her worldview all of a sudden? Okay, so she hated Dolores with a passion for what she had been put through since Saturday, but that didn't really explain her determination to shackle, fetter and tether Dolores 24/7 for...how long exactly? Several weeks at least, if not months...or maybe even years if the urge was still strong. The real reason behind her diabolical decision to incarcerate and humiliate her former tormentor, was that the mere thought of this level of torture sent an extremely pleasant tingling sensation up her spine. It was all too thrilling for words!

So how was this ambitious custodial project going to be brought to fruition? There was only one way as far as Saskia was concerned, and that was to take over the running of Shackleton Grange, the BATH society, and all the activities that went with it, such as the bondage classes, parties and any other perverse events that Dolores may have in the pipeline. But to do this she would need accomplices, and who better than the two girls that, more than anyone else, should be champing at the bit for revenge, and want to see Dolores dealt with harshly for the way they'd been treated?

There were, of course, a million logical objections as to why the scheme that Saskia was hatching would never work...at least not in the long term. But for the time being, Saskia cast aside these annoying doubts, which occasionally seeped into her thinking, as undesirable intrusions and irrelevances. The only thing on her mind at present was revenge, and she was determined to obtain it at all costs. All she had to do, when moments of doubt crept into her thinking and threatened to rock the boat, was to visualise the way she was going to tie Dolores up ultra-tightly so that she couldn't move a muscle. And with images such as these in her mind's eye, the uncertainty would melt away, and her resolve would strengthen still further, until her zeal for what she was by now determined to undertake verged on the fanatical.

Cathy's brain had taken in the gist of the day's events as described to her...at least to a certain extent. She was aware that Dolores was no longer a threat to any of them, and that the servants too were out of action just at the moment. But the latter part of this woman's rant seemed to make very little sense, and she began to wonder if she'd heard correctly, or whether maybe she was lapsing back into her former dreamlike state once more. For surely the things she was asking herself and Bethany to be a part of were both impractical and irrational. If she'd understood correctly, Saskia - she now recalled that this was the name Dolores had introduced her as - had no plans to alert the police to what had transpired in the last ten days or so, in order to have her arrested and charged with abduction, false imprisonment and who knows what else, but instead proposed that the three of them - Saskia, Bethany and herself - should mete out their own form of justice, by keeping Dolores tied and helpless and therefore give her a taste of what they'd all gone through. And to make sure that the former Mistress of Shackleton Grange suffered in the most humiliating way possible, Saskia also suggested that they should take over the BATH Society bondage classes, and parade Dolores before the unsuspecting pupils like an exhibit in a museum. How weird was that?

But then again, the more she thought about it, maybe Saskia had a point. Not only did Dolores deserve everything that was coming to her, but there was also the possibility that, with the Mistress indisposed, Cathy might get the chance to do what she'd originally come here for, namely to get her hands on some of the valuables and collectables that a place like this invariably has lying around. She'd seen cabinets full of silverware, antique vases and ornaments, and a lot of other stuff that would probably fetch a good price. And it wasn't as if she'd been in every room, or been allowed free run of the house, so she reasoned that this was just the tip of the iceberg, and that a lot more treasures must still be hidden away. The place was, she guessed, an absolute goldmine of riches, just waiting to be spirited away and converted into cash on the black-market. Going along with Saskia's plan, therefore, would kill two birds with one stone; punish Dolores for keeping her tied up for over a week, as well as being financially very lucrative.

And besides all this, hadn't she, on several occasions - such as when she'd been vacuum packed, or when she and Bethany had enjoyed conjoined crotch ropes - caught a glimpse of what fun bondage could be? Maybe it was worth hanging around for a while to explore this strange phenomenon in a bit more detail. Even though she was still feeling the after-effects of the drugs, she found herself coming to the conclusion that, all things considered, this was indeed a good, or perhaps brilliant idea, and one that she was willing to become whole-heartedly immersed in.

But the finer details of this scheme would have to wait for now. After having been overwhelmed with images of bondage for several hours, accompanied by the repeated messages that had wound themselves around her brain, only to then be bombarded with this strange yet oddly enticing proposition as to how the situation should be resolved, all Cathy wanted to do right now was rest.

Bethany, too, was struggling to comprehend the monologue that had reached her ears. What was that about keeping Dolores tied up to teach her a lesson? Surely she had misheard, or more likely given her state of mind at the moment, misunderstood. She had to admit though, that there seemed a sort of logic to what Saskia was intending, and the bondage lover in her was intrigued at the idea of getting involved in the whole process of running bondage classes and events. If that was really what Saskia was insinuating, then she would have to give it some serious thought. With Dolores out of the way, bondage suddenly took on a brighter glow again, and despite the fact that she'd just spent days on end in bound limbo with her future uncertain, the submissive flame in her still burnt strongly, and the thought that maybe she could even put herself forward as a guinea pig for the attendees of the bondage classes and other events to experiment on, sent a shudder of delight coursing through her.

But thought wasn't something that came easily to her at the moment, and she found her mind drifting in and out of focus as the data she was being fed increased to a point where she was on the verge of information overload. Her limbs still failed to respond to the commands from her brain, and her mouth felt as if it was packed with something that she couldn't easily remove. Her bleary eyes followed the image of the speaker as she paced before her, but she knew that at any moment her heavy lids would succumb to the overwhelming desire to close. And so they did.

Saskia finished outlining her ideas to her two less than animated listeners, then looked at each in turn.

"So what do you think, then?"

If she was expecting an answer of any description to this question, she was to be disappointed, although in reality she must have known that neither woman was in any way capable of agreeing or arguing at that moment. For not only were they only just beginning to emerge from mental hibernation, but on top of this neither Cathy nor Bethany had taken any steps to remove the gags they both wore; either due to the effort needed to raise their hands to their faces, or maybe because their brains hadn't computed the fact that the tights and tape were still in place. Bethany now appeared to be asleep, while Cathy simply stared at Saskia as if she were mad. Had the message got through? She had no way of knowing, and she guessed that perhaps she'd foisted too much detail on the stunned twosome for comprehension to sink in. Perhaps it would be better to let them recuperate for an hour or two, before trying again.

As this thought was taking shape, Saskia suddenly noticed Cathy begin to move her limbs. Slowly, she tried to stand, using both the wall at her back and Saskia's proffered arm as props. Cathy's legs felt like jelly, and the effort of moving at all seemed to suck what little energy she had from her. But with Saskia's assistance, she steadied herself.

"Come on, let's find somewhere more comfortable for you to lie down for a while."

Saskia's knowledge of the layout of Shackleton Grange was sketchy, to say the least, but Cathy seemed to know where she was heading, and made a beeline for the parlour, where she knew there were armchairs into which she could sink whilst she regained her mental and physical faculties.

Unlike on previous visits to this high-ceilinged room, there was no log fire log blazing in the hearth on this occasion, although the charred remains of a recent conflagration were still evident. Helping Cathy onto the soft, plush furniture, it suddenly occurred to Saskia that maybe some sort of liquid refreshment might boost the revival process.

"Stay here and relax while I get you some water. Oh, and by the way, you might want to start unpeeling that tape from your face, if you think you're up to it."

Saskia walked away and exited the room, leaving Cathy alone with her thoughts for a few minutes. She hadn't even realised that she was still gagged until now; probably because it had become an habitual state of affairs for more than a week now, and she'd grown accustomed to the sensation of cloth filling her mouth and tape bonding securely to her flesh. Tentatively, her arms still feeling like they were weighted with lead, she began to pick at the tape across her mouth. Locating the stuck down end proved problematic at first, but once her nails had succeeded in releasing enough of the grey adhesive strip for her to grasp between thumb and forefinger, the actual operation of detaching tape from face became a little easier. That was, until she came to the lowest, skin-bonded layer, at which point the process transmuted into a more painful, and therefore slower, undertaking, as stray strands of hair were yanked violently, and the tender flesh of her cheeks felt as if it too was being stripped away. Finally, however, the tape surrendered its last, desperate grip on her lips. Cathy's skin felt raw and tender in the area now revealed to the world for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, and she gingerly rubbed her fingers across her mouth and cheeks. It was only then that her still confused brain took on board the fact that there was something still stuffed inside her mouth; something which, although it seemed a familiar, almost customary impediment, was alien and foul tasting, and needed to be discarded with as much haste as she could muster. The removal of the cavity filling rolled up hosiery proved a great relief, although its extraction highlighted another area of anguish, insofar as it emphasized the stiffness in her jaw, which took several minutes and much gentle manoeuvring of the muscles to alleviate.

By the time the stinging had dulled and she could once again open and shut her mouth without a flash of excruciating pain slashing through the sides of her face, Saskia had returned with two glasses of water in her hands. Holding one out to Cathy, she left the second on the coffee table in front of the fireplace, explaining as she did so that this was for Bethany, who she was just about to fetch.

Once more, Saskia left the recovering Cathy to her own devices for a few minutes. The cool, refreshing water hitting her parched throat was an absolute godsend, and the glass was drained in seconds, leaving her craving more. But getting up and acquiring the second glass was still beyond her fragile means, and besides, she knew Bethany would be in need of this more than she was. Slumping back into the cushions, Cathy shut her eyes and tried hard to focus on Saskia's recently outlined plan of campaign. But the effort of weighing up the pros and cons of the strategy proved too much for her at that precise moment, and within seconds she had drifted away into a deep, dreamless sleep.

When Cathy woke, the late afternoon sun was dipping towards the dense woodland that made up a substantial part of Shackleton Grange's acres of rolling grounds. There was a slight chill in the air now, and Cathy shivered as her eyes adjusted to the lengthening shadows of the sun dappled room. A few feet away, lying asleep in a chair, was the limp form of Bethany, also now unhampered by a gag of any description. Slowly, as if not trusting her legs to support her weight, Cathy stood up and walked across to the window. There was a still, tranquil feel to the old house now; one which she hadn't encountered before. In some respects eager to be away from this mansion that had been her place of captivity for well over a week, another part of her was intrigued to discover exactly how Saskia planned to bring her seemingly harebrained scheme to fruition. Was she really intent on keeping Dolores tied up for a long period of time - days or perhaps even weeks - as she'd intimated earlier? Despite her will to be gone from this place with its distressing memories, Cathy vowed to herself that she would wait until she'd had a chance to question Saskia in a bit more detail about this proposal, before making her mind up one way or the other. After all, what had she got to lose? She was a burglar, so she could hardly go to the police and have Dolores arrested for kidnapping her, when she should never have actually been here in the first instance. Maybe, she thought deviously, there really would be some fun to be had from tormenting and torturing the sadistic witch that had kept her in such tight restraints for all those fear-filled days and long, anguish-packed nights. And, of course, the lure of Dolores' material possessions was also a major incentive to hang around for a while.

But all of a sudden, the peace of the Suffolk afternoon was broken by the sound of the parlour door opening. Still jumpy from recent events, Cathy spun around quickly to face whoever was entering the room; ready to fight or flee at a seconds notice should she find that Dolores or one of her mute attendants had somehow escaped and was on her trail. Seeing that the newcomer was Saskia, however, Cathy relaxed.

"Feeling any better now?"

Cathy admitted that she was much refreshed and revitalised after her sleep.

"Good, because I'm going to need your help. In about three hours time the pupils for Dolores' Bondage for Beginners class are due to start arriving, and there's a lot to do if we're to pull this off."

Cathy had a hundred questions whirling around in her head, but Saskia was in her element at the moment, and getting a word in edgeways was going to be difficult. Saskia informed her newly acquired confidante that she'd managed to locate a bunch of keys which she was convinced was Dolores' master set ("I found these lying on the kitchen table" she'd announced triumphantly, holding up and jangling the enormous bunch for Cathy to see), and had gained access to a small office which not only contained paperwork that included a list of this evening's attendees, but was also the room in which the intercom system that connected to the front gates was located.

As Saskia finished detailing these discoveries, however, a murmuring sound from the chair distracted the pair, as both she and Cathy realised that Bethany was on the verge of waking. Rubbing her eyes, the third member of the newly formed alliance looked down at her spandex clad body, as if trying to figure out where she was and why she was so attired. Then, as her memory cleared, she turned her attention to the two identically clothed women standing by the window.

"How long have I been asleep? What time is it?"

As if to answer the second question, the clock on the mantelpiece obligingly struck the hour just as the words had finished exiting her mouth, informing the trio that it was four o'clock. Saskia filled in the missing information.

"You've been out for about three hours or so. I was just telling Cathy about how we need to get to work if we're to put my plan into operation."

The mention of Saskia's plan brought what she'd been told earlier flooding back to Bethany. But still she wasn't exactly sure she understood.

"So what is it you're proposing to do?"

Saskia briefly went over her plan once more, making it clear however, that time was of the essence.

"We'll work out the long term strategy later. What matters now is getting ready for this class tonight and making sure that Dolores is well and truly humiliated. But first there's a little experiment that we need to conduct down in the cellar."

Both Bethany and Cathy had more questions than their brains could easily formulate swarming around in their still confused heads, but the one they both blurted out almost in unison, was what, exactly, did Saskia mean by her last cryptic remark? All she would answer, however, was that she had a hunch that the servants could be a useful asset to them. And as she was already halfway towards the door, the confused duo felt compelled to follow their self-appointed leader, albeit at a slower pace due to their still less than steady legs.

Once they had traversed the ground floor passageways of Shackleton Grange, then ventured forth into the twilight world that lurked beneath, Saskia made a beeline for the section of the cellar in which she'd made her discovery earlier that day. Unlocking the door, she ushered her now exhausted and flagging companions inside. The room was still exactly as it had been the last time Saskia had been here, with the droning of the machinery and the soft bubbling of the water a constant soundtrack. Although she'd been forewarned to the condition of the three servants, Cathy stepped towards the tank with some trepidation, as if not quite convinced that they couldn't suddenly jump out and attack her. The ropes that bound their limbs, which were evident through the constantly churning water, put her mind at rest. So it came as a great shock when Saskia, having given her colleagues a minute or two to take in the scene, suddenly announced her next intended action.

"Right girls, help me get one of these mermaids out of the tank will you? I want to find out how they react."

React? The mention of the mute triad that had been part of the reason for their lives being made such a misery all week, caused both Cathy and Bethany to baulk at the idea of letting any one of them out of their predicament, even if they were still bound. But Saskia was already ascending the stepladder, releasing the tether that kept the sunken sirens afloat, and pulling one of the three - the one with the blonde hair that Cathy knew of as Electra - from her watery tomb. With the woman's upper body now above the waterline, Saskia looked around for the help she was hoping would have been willingly forthcoming. Her gaze fell upon two spandex-clad females frozen to the spot with fear.

"Come on. Grab hold as I pass her down to you. She's bound up tightly, so she can't do you any harm."

Reluctantly, Cathy found herself stepping forward and reaching out as Saskia lowered her load - head first - towards her still unconvinced cohort. A shower of tepid liquid cascaded down onto Cathy at this point, as the residual water from the recently emerged woman flooded from her wetsuit and long, straggly hair. But within seconds Cathy was joined by Bethany, who helped her safely transport the woman downwards, until she was lying on the cellar's stone floor. Saskia descended from her lofty perch.

"Right, now let's find out if my theory is correct."

Without warning, she pulled Electra up into a sitting position and began to release the ropes around her legs.

"What are you doing?"

The voice was that of a shocked and slightly fearful Bethany, which echoed Cathy's mood entirely. The latter added,

"You can't seriously be thinking of letting her loose! She'll have Dolores released and us all tied up again in no time!"

It was clear, however, that Saskia had given this some serious thought.

"Don't worry, it's still three against one, even if we find that she is loyal to her Mistress...or former Mistress as we should now call her. But I don't think she'll try anything. In fact, I have a feeling she'll be like putty in our hands once she's free."

Saskia had released the still motionless woman's legs by this time, and was kneeling behind her, in the process of untying her hands. Electra showed no emotion in her dull eyes as she slowly regained her freedom, and simply gazed outwards, unblinking, as if unsure of exactly where she was or what was happening to her. With the rope removed from her wrists, for several seconds the freed slave remained with her hands behind her back, as if unsure of what to do with her newly acquired liberty. Then slowly, her eyes still glazed and unresponsive, she began to pick herself up off the floor. As she did so, both Bethany and Cathy automatically backed away a couple of yards, but they needn't have worried. For once she'd regained her feet, Electra simply stood, legs slightly apart, and once more place her hands behind her back. There she stood, motionless, as if waiting for orders. Saskia smiled across at her two slightly concerned colleagues.

"You see, perfectly harmless. She's been programmed to take orders, but now that Dolores isn't around she doesn't know what to do. Let's try something else, shall we?"

Wherever you happened to be in Shackleton Grange, it seemed, you were never more than ten feet or so from some stash of ligatures and shackles just waiting to be utilised, and this area of the cellar was no exception. On the bench, beside the still softly humming machinery, Saskia had spied several lengths of rope, together with three pairs of handcuffs. Grabbing these, she threw them onto the floor in front of the zombie-like Electra, whose wet-suit still dripped large tears of water onto the flagstones; the plinking, splattering noise from which competed with the room's other monotonous rumbling and gurgling sounds.

"Here, tie yourself up again. And be sure to make it tight and inescapable."

For a split second, the woman seemed to hesitate, as if uncertain of whether to obey this command from a stranger. But then, the automatic process that she was encoded to carry out seemed to kick in, and she bent down and picked up one of the lengths of rope. Without even looking, she began unfurling it, put the ends together and found the midpoint. Sitting back down on the now damp floor, she commenced winding the doubled cord around her legs, before cinching and securing the whole thing in place. The entire process, from retrieving the rope to completion of the strict knot, took no more than thirty seconds, such was her skill and expertise in such matters. Without further encouragement, she wound two more ropes in similar fashion around her calves and knees, so that, once secured, her legs were back in an almost identical situation to that which she'd been accustomed to only moments before.

"Now handcuff yourself."

Saskia's authoritative voice broke what had become a stunned silence, and echoed around the subterranean chamber for several seconds. Meekly, Electra obeyed the order given to her, by placing her left hand in one of the bracelets, closing it around her wrist, then dexterously reaching behind her back to complete the manacling process.

With a look of triumph etched on her smiling face, Saskia turned back to her two awestruck acquaintances.

"You see, she's been so brainwashed and dehumanised that she simply takes commands from whoever gives them. She's trained to tie people up, including herself, and she does it automatically."

The smile suddenly disappeared from her face and she looked at Bethany and Cathy sternly.

"And that..."

She beckoned towards the unresponsive Electra,

"...is the state that you would have ended up in if Dolores had had her way. Luckily, your training regime had only just commenced, so there's no real damage done. For these three, however, I fear it's too late. Their whole lives have been taken over by mind numbing indoctrination and brain addling drugs, and they're probably stuck like this for life."

Saskia walked back over to the tank and began once again ascending the steps.

"Just to show you that this was no fluke, we'll give it another go."

She reached the top and plunged her arms into the gently bubbling liquid. Within seconds she'd cast adrift and was lifting the second servant out - on this occasion, the raven haired Sapphire - leaving only Crystal to languish in her liquid prison cell. Soon, this second emancipated woman had also been deposited on the floor and released from her bonds. And as with her fellow wet-suited comrade, she showed no signs of violence or resistance, as she too simply waited patiently for whatever was asked of her. And what was asked of her was a repeat performance of that so recently acted out by Electra. As Sapphire began to obey, with no hint that she was in any way phased by this course of action, Saskia turned to Cathy and Bethany.

"So, do you have any idea what sort of format these bondage classes take? Did either of you get roped in - if you'll pardon the pun - to taking part by any chance?"

Blushing profusely, Bethany looked away to ensure she made no eye contact with the questioner, as she had to admit that her presence here in the first place had all been down to her penchant for tight bondage. Saskia was pleased by this response, however.

"That's great. So perhaps you could give us some insight into what happens. After all, if we're going to run the class properly, we'd better give the punters what they pay for."

Bethany gave a brief overview of what had taken place one week ago, when she had innocently turned up at Shackleton Grange in her quest for bondage fulfilment. She spoke nervously and self-consciously at first, but as she got into her stride, some of the initial excitement of that first evening was rekindled in her, and she found herself relishing this retelling of the events that had taken place. When she came to the end of the story, she mentioned the arrival of the bound and clearly unhappy Cathy in the wooden trunk. She was about to go on to describe what had happened later that night, when Saskia stopped her in mid flow. The pretext for this interruption was that Sapphire's self-bondage exploits had reached their conclusion, although, from the obvious glint in her eye, it was clear that some sort of revelation had suddenly hit Saskia, although for the moment she was intent on keeping her cards close to her chest. Sapphire, however, now sat unmoving beside her equally helpless but no more animated companion.

"Right, two down, one to go. I'll get this last one out of the tank. But this time, I think we'll vary the routine a little bit."

Removing the one remaining slave from her damp place of internment took no more than a few seconds, and as before, Saskia set about releasing the ropes that had held this similarly docile girl's wrists and legs in check for the duration of her submerged sentence. With these discarded, Bethany had been expecting Crystal to receive a repeat of the instruction issued to her two saturated companions to now ring out around the hollow underground space. But in fact this call to self-bondage failed to materialise. It wasn't that Saskia didn't bark out a command, however. It was just that the essence of the message which echoed around the stone-clad chamber was not exactly what Bethany had anticipated. Handing several pieces of rope and the last unused set of handcuffs to the recently released red-head, Saskia's directive sent a shiver running down Bethany's spine.

"Tie Bethany up...and make sure that she can't escape!"

Chapter 25 - Dolores Alone (added: 2018/07/29)

Shackleton Grange basked in the shimmering heat of a languid spring afternoon; those ancient towers and spires standing proud against the gently rolling Suffolk landscape, as they had for centuries. And yet, today something was different.

In the woods, a parliament of rooks held their daily conclave; their cawing that little bit more frenzied than normal, as they discussed the news filtering from the crumbling brickwork that a monarch had been dethroned, and debated the uncertainty of the interregnum.

In the bushes and shrubs, songbirds trumpeted their take on the latest events, their melodies filled with reports of a seismic shift in the balance of power.

High in the lush canopy, squirrels flicked their tails in agitation and uncertainty, as word of the day's momentous occurrences reached their precarious lookouts. Whilst in the undergrowth, small scurrying mammals spread the rumours that trickled forth from within the ancient manor house, of how things would never be quite the same again.

The vixen in her daytime den, woke and sniffed the humid air, sensing the subtle shift in the grand scheme of things; an empress put to the sword and the rise of a new order.

And even the spiders within the crumbling eaves and fissures of the mansion itself, whose taut threads of silk acted as receptors to every subtle vibration, every nuance, of events that transpired within their dark, adopted home, perceived the amendments to the constitution which had, at a stroke, deposed the old regime and heralded the birth of a strange new democracy.

But had anything really changed?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Trapped: The word loomed large in the mind of the shackled, hog-tied and entombed owner of the ancient fortress that had been a prison for countless women in the past, and which now seemingly had snared the biggest prize of all, the mighty black widow spider herself, caught in a self-spun web from which it was impossible to extricate herself.

And to think that, only an hour or two ago, everything in her world was rosy, with her three prisoners in severe (or so she had imagined) states of bondage; her servants taking part in an experiment devised to not only keep them out of her hair, but also pave the way to future fun and games she had planned for captives and guests; and she herself in the throes of ecstatic self-inflicted bondage from which she could escape, but only with some difficulty.

But now, roles had been most definitely reversed, and she was the one experiencing the churning fear of uncertainty that she'd foisted on more prisoners - both willing and otherwise - than she cared to remember.

Dolores pulled on the handcuffs that dug deeply into her flesh, and which, having been wrapped around the rope that bound her ankles, left her bent into a strict hog-tie from which there was no relief, due to both the tightness of her bonds and the severely confined space in the bottom of the wardrobe. Lying on her stomach, with her legs pulled up almost to her shoulder blades, Dolores found kicking out at the walls of her secure wooden tomb a strength sapping and almost impossible task, and she soon had to give up, as the volume of oxygen needed to sustain this level of energy was outweighed by the intake allowable into her lungs through the tiny nostril slits in her all-covering hood.

The ropes that held her at the elbows and various points along her legs seemed to tighten still further with every move she made, and the tight webbing of the self-inflicted harness chafed against the latex that clung to every inch of her incapacitated frame and her delicate, milk-white skin beneath. And the confined space in which she languished, coupled with the skin-tight nature of her attire and her frantic efforts to secure her freedom, all ensured that the build-up of heat within this sturdy ancient piece of furniture caused her to sweat profusely.

Her bellowed demands to be let out, heavily negated by the ball-gag packed tightly into her oral cavity and the sealing layer of unbroken leather that smothered her lower face, would, if there had been anyone within earshot, have sounded incomprehensible and muffled to the point of inaudibility. But she knew there was no one out there... or at least nobody with any desire to help her out of this mess.

Why, oh why had she left her three servants so hopelessly tied and immersed in that new tank she'd acquired only a few days ago? Although this question flashed through her mind several times every second, she already knew the answer only too well. Because, put simply, she enjoyed treating people in that manner. That was what slaves, minions, submissives, or whatever you wanted to call them, were for. It was how she maintained her authority; not only in the eyes of those she claimed dominion over, but also - more importantly - her own. It was a way of making her feel special; to be able to say to herself, "Look at the power I wield, the absolute dictatorial rule I have in this house".

There was another reason too, why she had put Crystal, Sapphire and Electra through this watery ordeal today, and that was to test out her new plaything. She hadn't actually bought it with her servants in mind though, as she knew that, given their level of brainwashed obedience, they would simply take whatever kind of torture they were forced to endure, without showing, or indeed feeling, any emotion at all; no fear, no anger, no sadness...nothing. No, the placing of her three trusted assistants in the watertight container was merely a test, a chance to try out a new and exciting method of imprisonment, in order to gauge what physical effects this form of water torture had on her three guinea pigs. Once she'd observed these results, her next victim, she'd already decided, was to be that snooping journalist Saskia, who deserved all that was coming to her as far as Dolores was concerned.

So the irony of what had since transpired, with the tables turned and Dolores herself now in dire straits from which no way out had yet presented itself, was not lost on the now fallen monarch of Shackleton Grange. Never having been in a situation of this severity before, Dolores at last gained some insight into the mindset of those she had been so eager and willing to condemn to such brutal helplessness. But far from making her repent the error of her ways, or in any way sympathise with those she had wronged, Dolores found her thirst for revenge growing by the second, and her mind began working overtime thinking up ways to bind and punish Saskia when she eventually got out of here. It was difficult to see how this liberation was to come about, given the circumstances surrounding her incarceration, but as one who was used to everything going to plan, Dolores was able to convince herself - well, sort of - that eventually she would escape or be released, and at that time order would be restored and she would once more be free to wreak her wrath on all those who had caused her offence or discomfort. And that primarily meant Saskia, and by association, Cathy and Bethany, who would undoubtedly end up colluding with their new ringleader against their former captor. She'd soon show them who was boss once she got over this - temporary - setback.

But how was this happy ending going to be brought to fruition? With all the wishful thinking in the world, Dolores simply couldn't quite conjure up in her mind a realistic scenario that might herald her return to the pinnacle of the pecking order in her home. So what, exactly, was to become of her?

Dolores tried to suppress from her thinking the worst case scenario, namely that Saskia would release Bethany and Cathy before all three fled the house, leaving her (and her servants) in their inescapable states of bondage, and with no intention of coming back, or of alerting anyone to the situation as it stood. If this was indeed the case, how long would it be before anyone realised that she was missing and raised the alarm? There was a bondage class scheduled for tonight, which briefly raised her spirits. But who amongst the newcomers and novices would know that anything was amiss if they arrived and found the gates locked and the intercom silent? Or what if Saskia and her conspirators managed to locate the intercom controls and informed the arrivals that the class had been cancelled? Dolores' horror-filled mind summoned forth a whole host of scenarios, and a million and one variations on each of these themes, that could - just possibly - be brought to life by the trio of wronged, revenge seeking females who were currently free to roam her house unhindered. None of these possible futures offered even a crumb of comfort to the once all-powerful but now severely subdued head of the household.

So, if she really had been abandoned here, who else would there be to help? And more importantly, would these unknown rescuers, when they finally turned up, be too late to save her from dying of dehydration? Every few minutes, whenever this unwanted thought reared its ugly head with no answer forthcoming, Dolores' struggles acquired that little bit of extra urgency, her stifled cries became more shrill and her banging feet that little bit more desperate.

But, on reflection, this seemed an unlikely finale to this whole nightmarish episode. At least that was the theory Dolores employed to console herself, and thus dampen some of the terror that threatened to boil over at any moment. For hadn't Saskia, in her parting speech, mentioned something about returning later? What form this revisit would take, she had no idea. Would it be with the police in tow? In the intervals of calm, when fatigue and exhaustion conspired to briefly halt her frenzied escapological exploits and attention seeking endeavours, Dolores listened carefully, almost expecting to hear the wailing of police sirens at any moment, and the screech of tyres on the loose gravel driveway, as several squad cars arrived to take her away for questioning into some of the BATH society's less than legal activities. Although the padding in the hood that she wore dampened sound, as did the wooden walls of her tightly packed holding pen, she was sure that something of this nature would filter through to her ears if the forces of law and order had been summoned. But the silence remained deafening.

So if it wasn't the police that were to decide her fate, then it must be her house guests who were about to take the law into their own hands. And in some ways this - the mere thought made her shudder - was even more frightening than the prospects of spending the next few years detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. What could Saskia and her new found friends do to her? Or perhaps the question should be what couldn't they do to her, such were their range of options. Could they possibly turn from being meek and mild young things into devious, vengeful oppressors whose sole motive was to keep her tied up for months, mirroring perfectly the arrangements she'd made for them? Surely she was the only one sadistic enough to put into practice something of that nature? Dolores now regretted ever handing out sentencing that lasted for months and months, as she realised that she might be about to reap what she had sown, and could now be in for a very long spell of her own in solitary confinement.

Dolores thrust her bound and useless body in every conceivable direction, in the hope that a miracle might be granted to her now, which would see her bonds in some way melt away, the walls of her place of concealment somehow dissolve, and that would once more grant her the freedom to restore order in this private empire of hers that, until today, she had ruled as supreme dictator. She cursed the wooden cabinet in which she languished, realising as she did so that the antique nature of her place of confinement was probably the worst location that she could have been interred in. Nowadays, wardrobes came in flat-packs and were flimsy constructions by comparison, and Dolores meditated forlornly on the fact that, had she been locked in one of these twenty first century closets, then she would have probably been able to break the whole structure apart in a few minutes, even taking into account the severity of her bonds. In the days when this particular wardrobe had been manufactured, however, craftsmen took pride in their work, and things were built to last for years, or even centuries. The chances of some bound and blindfolded female simply kicking her way out of such a structure would have been laughed at by the makers of this meticulously and lovingly constructed example of skilled workmanship.

Dolores contorted her bound and increasingly aching frame every way she could, in an effort to force her way out of a situation that she had never dreamed could possibly happen to her. Lifting her body upwards as high as her bonds allowed, she tried to raise herself onto her knees, to see if this new approach would in any way alleviate the pain in her stretched and painful limbs. This position changing tactic failed dismally, but as she stretched her neck upwards, the row of cat-suits hanging above her could be felt brushing against the top of her leather encased head. As it became apparent that this latest attempt to liberate herself had been unsuccessful, Dolores' body hit the floor of her makeshift sarcophagus with a loud, despairing thump. But it wasn't only her tight latex wrapped torso that came crashing back to earth. As Dolores settled back into her by now all too familiar prone position, she suddenly twigged that there was something light and delicate covering her shackled hands, which, when she grasped at it with her fingers, she recognised instantly as the soft spandex fabric of one of her skin-tight suits, now fallen from its hanger and lying draped across her arms and back. This caused her no extra grief, as she could easily toss the limp garment to one side and renew her struggles against the handcuffs and ropes. But slowly it hit her that there was another, more worrying problem afoot.

With the leather hood fastened securely all around her skull, Dolores hadn't noticed, as she collapsed back onto the wardrobe's timber base, that something else was now draped over her head. The first hint that anything was amiss came with the notion that the atmosphere within her sealed tomb - already humid and stuffy - was getting hotter as the seconds ticked by. But what suddenly panicked the once mighty ruler of Shackleton Grange, was the knowledge that it was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. And this realisation coincided with a stifling smell pervading Dolores' nostrils; one which she knew only too well. It was an odour that already permeated the atmosphere in this sealed chamber, and one that mingled with the scent of leather and PVC to give the interior a unique fragrance. But now, this one element within the compound bouquet came to the fore and overpowered all other competing aromas in the vicinity; the unmistakeable smell of freshly polished rubber. It was clear that one of her latex cat-suits had come loose from its appointed spot on the rail high above, and had fallen in such a way as to blanket, not only her head, but her shoulders and upper torso as well. Dolores tried to flick her head to one side then the other, but neither of these movements had any effect in removing the smothering fabric from her face. Shaking her head more violently also failed to bring about the desired outcome of clearing this obstruction to her airways. She cursed her continuing bad luck, as the fear in her throat rose to almost hysterical levels. If the garment that had enveloped her head had been one of the many spandex outfits, this would have allowed her to take in air through the dense but breathable knit of the fabric. Latex, on the other hand, being non-porous, allowed no such luxury, and the thought that suffocation could become a real possibility only caused her levels of dread to rise still further, and her fight to surface from beneath the stubbornly unmoving article of her own clothing took on an even greater urgency.

How long she battled against this smothering, asphyxiating purveyor of death, Dolores couldn't be sure, although it seemed that the seconds were dragging on into minutes, and the minutes to hours. But finally, after what seemed like an age, but was in reality probably no more than a minute of two, she triumphed in extricating her face from under the obstinately clinging item of apparel that still lay tangled across the back of her neck. Taking long, deep breaths into her lungs, Dolores savoured what seemed at that moment like cool, clear mountain air after her near death experience, although the reality was that the atmosphere within her timber sided prison cell was becoming ever more recycled and unhealthy as time passed.

But however unnerving this experience may have been, Dolores also made a strange, and not unpleasant discovery during her skirmish with the item of clothing that seemed determined to torment her. Her struggles had, inadvertently, led her to pull on the tight crotch rope which she herself had strategically placed this morning, and which she had forgotten about since her captivity had become more of a permanent arrangement. And it was this sharp, forceful movement, coupled with her desperate battle to inhale enough air to stay conscious, which had caused what she could only describe as the early stages of a sensational sexual explosion, that was as wonderful as it was unexpected, to begin coursing through her like a bolt of summer lightning. It was probably, she guessed, the real fear that she was going to die that had caused this safety valve to open and allow her, so she'd thought at the time, one last taste of ecstasy before she passed into oblivion.

But of course, she'd survived. And with the crisis now over, she realised that this little taster, which had lasted only a few seconds, wasn't enough, and she needed to keep the momentum going and try to recreate those feelings of only a few moments ago. Having recovered her composure somewhat, and with her breathing now back into a steady rhythm, Dolores once more grabbed the rope that ran with such taut precision between her legs, and began pulling the coarse cord with as much masochistic zeal as she could muster. It didn't take long for the genesis of the tingling sensation to once more take birth in her loins, and for the feeling to spread like wild-fire through her abdomen and up her spine, to burst open in a starburst flash of colours in her mind's eye. Soon, her entire being, right to the tips of her fingers and toes, seemed to be pulsing to the cadence of her jerking, writhing body, as the most immaculate orgasm that she had ever experienced in her entire life left her groaning and purring into the gagging material in and across her mouth. Time stood still as she found herself smashing into the walls of the confining wardrobe; not this time in anger or rage, but simply as a side effect of the joyous phenomenon that overpowered her and, temporarily at least, helped her to forget the real life situation which she was being forced to endure. As she reached her climax, the realisation struck her that this brief glimpse of paradise had been so much more intense than her efforts earlier today, which paled in comparison to this, the most satisfying experience imaginable.

But all good things have to come to an end, and Dolores' earth-shattering encounter was no exception. As she relaxed onto the hard floor of her escape-proof wooden coop, her thoughts turned to Cathy and Bethany, her prisoners - or, more likely now, her ex-prisoners - who had both, she knew for certain, experienced sexual enlightenment of some description during their time here. And if this latest episode had taught her anything, it was that escape-proof bondage administered by a third party was capable of awakening far greater arousal than anything attained through self-bondage or fantasy stimulated means. Surely, rather than hate their captor and wish ill on her, Cathy and Bethany should now show gratitude for allowing her to enlighten them to the delectable joys of bondage enhanced sexual activity? For how could any woman, in a situation like this, not class this sort of earth-shattering event as one of the greatest highlights of her life?

As if on cue, the thought of Bethany and Cathy seemed to coalesce with the sound of female voices breaking the silence that had descended on Shackleton Grange for the past few hours. Faintly at first, then gradually getting closer, Dolores knew instinctively that the reason for these voices growing in volume could only mean one thing; that they were on their way back to deal with their captor-turned-captive. Although unable to catch the gist of the conversation - the padding around her ears and the thick wooden walls of the wardrobe ensuring that incoming sound remained muffled and incomprehensible - it was obvious that there were at least three women present. And it didn't take a genius to work out the identity of this trio. As the sound of the key turning in the bedroom door reached her ears, however, the voices ceased, and for several seconds the only sound was that of footsteps slowly padding across the carpeted floor. Suddenly, another key operating a locking mechanism broke the silence, this one much closer at hand than the first, and a creak of ancient hinges coincided with a blast of slightly cooler air assaulting Dolores' nostrils. Then the voice of her nemesis, Saskia, reverberated around the now unsealed wooden chamber.

"So Dolores, glad you could stick around. I'm sure you'll be delighted to know that your fate has been decided."

Chapter 26 - A Taste of Her Own Medicine (added: 2018/08/11)

It had taken Bethany a few seconds to cotton on to what Saskia had in mind. The latter's instruction to the zombie-like servant to tie Bethany up again had been acted upon immediately, and with such ruthless efficiency, that she'd had no chance to even think about taking evasive action. In dumbfounded paralysis, Bethany had watched as the still dripping wet-suit that fit snugly around Crystal's slim figure moved towards her. With her head enclosed in a rubber hood, from which only her eyes and nostrils were visible, the recently released woman was in Bethany's face within no more than a second or two of Saskia's surprise edict, her long red hair sprouting in a rat-tailed plume from somewhere at the top of her head. Her eyes remained fixed on her projected target, and showed no emotion of any kind as she grasped Bethany by the shoulder, turned her swiftly around, and pulled both arms together behind her back.

Too shocked and surprised to even contemplate resistance, Bethany felt the familiar curved steel bracelets close around her wrists to a point where they pressed snugly into her flesh. The swift, staccato click of the ratchets provided aural confirmation of the fact that she was now once again a captive. As Crystal bent down in order to apply the first of the ropes around her ankles, Bethany at last found her voice.

"What are you doing? Why are you tying me up again?"

Although Bethany's words were meant to convey indignation and shock at this latest turn of events, they carried very little conviction because, quite frankly, her protest was half-hearted and merely a token gesture. Okay, so for a few seconds a sense of dread had overcome her, and the thought entered her head that she'd been duped and that something bad was about to befall her once more. But by the time that the metal shackles had been secured, the first stirrings of arousal had made their presence felt, and she realised that to resist or try to hinder the binding process would be against her nature.

She looked across at Saskia, who simply stood viewing the unfolding drama with a look of interested satisfaction on her face. To her left stood Cathy, open-mouthed and in as much of a state of astonishment as herself...in fact probably even more so. For it was she who next came to Bethany's defence.

"What the hell are you playing at Saskia?... I thought you were on our side. You're actually working for Dolores aren't you?... She's not really tied up is she?... This is all just one of her devious deceptions, to give us false hope then suddenly have our optimism dashed again."

Cathy's words came out in a breathless stream, and she moved several paces backwards, her eyes flicking back and forth around the less than well lit room, expecting that she too was about to succumb to another bout of bondage, and searching for the best escape route as this perceived act of treachery sunk in.

Saskia laughed. Not the harsh, evil laughter that Cathy would have expected of one who had just conned two desperate young women into thinking they were on their way to freedom, when in actual fact the opposite was the case. No, her mirth, although slightly mocking, had no malicious edge to it, and when Cathy looked across at Bethany - who was still having her legs bound by the single-minded Crystal - she noticed that she too had by now figured out Saskia's purpose, and was at ease with the evolving situation.

Cathy glanced from one smiling female to the other, as if uncertain of whether she was the brunt of the joke, or perhaps that she'd missed the point of what was going on here? It was Bethany who chose to enlighten her.

"Don't you see Cathy? This is all part of the test, to make sure these poor lost souls do exactly as commanded. We know they'll tie themselves up to order, but Saskia is just checking that they'll obey when she tells them to tie someone else up... And from what I can deduce already, she's doing a good job of making sure I can't escape."

In case Cathy wasn't totally convinced by this explanation, or she thought that maybe Bethany had been hoodwinked, Saskia backed up the now well and truly bound female's story.

"Bethany's got it spot on. I thought we'd better check that the servants understand all the commands we'll be giving them."

She looked across at Bethany and grinned.

"...And besides, I was getting bored with simply watching these emotionless women binding themselves up. And as Bethany admitted she originally came here voluntarily, I thought she might appreciate being a guinea pig for this little experiment."

Crystal, having completed her allotted tasks, had now seemingly gone into 'energy saver' mode, and had backed away a few feet, statuesque and motionless with her legs slightly apart and her hands behind her back. Her dull eyes showed no emotion as she stood awaiting further orders .

Bethany tested the efficiency of her bonds by trying to part her legs. Teetering on her bound feet, she nearly lost her balance in the process, and almost fell to the floor; managing to steady herself and restore her equilibrium at the last moment. The cuffs, she already knew, were escape proof. But now what? As if in answer to this unspoken question, Saskia once more seized the initiative.

"Okay, let's all relocate upstairs and have a quick run through of how we're going to handle tonight's event."

She looked across at the blankly staring Crystal, who had remained unmoving for a minute or more by now, and would no doubt have stayed that way indefinitely, had no further instruction been forthcoming.

"Okay, you'd better untie Bethany now."

Without hesitation, Crystal responded by crouching down and, with an expertise honed through years of practice, soon had Bethany's legs released from their fetters. When she came to the handcuffs, however, she paused, as if not certain of what to do; and for the first time a look of uncertainty entered those otherwise dead eyes. It took Saskia only a second or two to correctly identify the cause of her consternation.

"Ah... I see we may have a slight problem here."

Bethany looked across at the speaker.

"What sort of problem?"

Saskia smiled nervously.

"Well I seem to have overlooked a vital ingredient when I was cooking this plan up."

Bethany still didn't seem to have caught on to what the delay in releasing her could be, so it was down to Cathy, who had twigged straight away, to inform her long time cellmate of the bad news.

"It appears that Saskia didn't bother to check on the whereabouts of the keys to the cuffs before embarking on this venture. So it looks like you may be stuck like that for a while, until we can work out where Dolores hides such things."

Saskia decided to put a positive slant on what she saw as no more than a minor inconvenience.

"Unfortunately, the keys on the bunch I found earlier all seem to be for doors, with nothing resembling the small keys that fit handcuffs or padlocks. Don't worry too much though Bethany, I'm sure we'll come across the right one at some point. There must be hundreds of pairs of handcuffs in this house, so we're sure to come across the keys to this particular set... eventually"

In truth, Bethany wasn't in the least bit fazed by this turn of events. In fact, deep down she was quite glad that the key to her shackles wasn't readily available. That meant she could spend a bit of quality time in the cuffs without fear of being released before she was ready. And the fact that she couldn't use her hands augured well for the bondage class, as the only thing she'd be of use for in this state was as a model to be experimented on by the pupils. This, of course, was exactly how she would have wanted it, and was actually the reason she'd been drawn to Shackleton Grange in the first place. But the thought of how she would be spending the evening had to be pushed from her mind for now. Saskia was once again taking the lead and requesting - or was it ordering? - the rest of this strange assembly to heed her instructions.

"Okay, I think we should leave these two here for now,..."

She pointed at the two shackled and bound wet-suited figures sitting on the floor, around whom small puddles of water had become visible on the ancient flagstones.

"... get everything sorted for the class, then pay Dolores a little visit..."

She flashed a devilish grin at both Cathy and Bethany.

"...I'm sure she'll be pleased to see you both again!"

Commanding the ever obedient Crystal to lead the way, Saskia, followed by Cathy and the manacled Bethany, left the dark environs of the cellar and returned to the slightly more inviting above ground world of Shackleton Grange's baffling array of rooms and passageways.

Setting the chairs and other equipment out for the impending class took Crystal only a few minutes, after being ordered by Saskia to do so. When asked to get the ropes and other bondage paraphernalia ready for the arrival of the seven scheduled pupils (according to the paperwork that Saskia had chanced upon), Crystal briefly left the room, but quickly returned carrying boxes which, when inspected by Cathy and Saskia, were found to contain enough ropes, shackles and gagging material to truss up an entire army of willing female acolytes, or so it seemed. Without being instructed, Crystal automatically began placing these bonds on the tables situated around the room, making sure that each set included a pair of handcuffs, six or seven lengths of rope, a reel of grey duct tape, and a pair of already rolled up tights to be used as makeshift gags. When questioned about the whereabouts of the keys to the cuffs, Crystal without hesitation handed these over to Saskia. There must have been twenty different keys on this newly acquired bunch, each of which were small and clearly belonged to padlocks, shackles or other metal bondage equipment. Beckoning for Bethany to turn around, Saskia was about to attempt to deduce which one would open the manacles that still adorned her wrists. Bethany, however, had other ideas.

"You know what Saskia? There's really no rush to let me out of the cuffs. I'm quite happy to stay chained up for the duration of the class if you want me to. You can use me as a demonstration model if you like, and get the girls to practice their new found skills on me."

Saskia marvelled at how quickly Bethany had seemingly recovered from her recent horrific experience and was ready - keen even - to spend long periods once more in hopeless captivity. Once a submissive, always a submissive, she thought to herself. If Bethany wanted to stay tied up, then who was she to argue or intervene?

But if Bethany was of the submissive persuasion, then Saskia was, she was beginning to realise, the complete opposite. And to think that it wasn't until today that she had ever had even the slightest inkling that she had any latent dominant tendencies in her. But now, she found herself getting really excited, not only about the forthcoming opportunity to humiliate and dominate Dolores, but also with the thought of helping the girls that would soon be turning up here to live out their own tie-up fantasies. In fact, it was a real turn on. If these women wanted to be tied up as tightly as possible, then she would be only too pleased to help out.

"Is that okay with you?"

This question from Bethany rudely awakened Saskia from the daydream-like state that she seemed to have momentarily lapsed into.


Her one word reply came as if from a distance, and her glazed over eyes betrayed the fact that she had briefly been transported from reality into her own little fantasy world. As if to remind her of the gist of their conversation, Bethany swung her handcuffed wrists around to her left, so that the connecting chain clinked softly, and her state of bondage could be clearly viewed.

"Oh yes, of course. That's fine. As far as I'm concerned you can keep the cuffs on all night."

Saskia shook herself mentally, in order to refocus her mind on the task in hand. She looked around the room for a few seconds. Crystal had by now apportioned the bonds out equally amongst the tables that stood at intervals around the walls of the oak panelled room, and was now standing to one side, her brain seemingly having returned to neutral mode once her allotted tasks had been accomplished. Bethany stood in the corner, gently manoeuvring her hands back and forth, as if the very process of trying and failing to get free was causing her the utmost pleasure. Cathy loitered on one side of the room, eyeing up the contents of an elaborately carved, glass fronted cabinet, in which a large amount of exquisitely polished silver goblets, plates and various other objects sat on show.

"Okay girls, we just need to quickly run through the plans for this evening."

Cathy reluctantly tore herself away from the silverware display, which she clearly had designs on as items of contraband. Beckoning her two associates to sit, Saskia began to explain how she envisaged tonight's session panning out. Her vision was to start the evening in the same manner that the beginners' class last week, as detailed by Bethany earlier, had been conducted. Only after the attendees had been given some instruction in bondage and been allowed to put their newly acquired skills into practice, would the evening take a slightly different course with the entrance of Dolores. From then on, Saskia planned to ensure that the former ruler of the BATH society really paid for her past misdemeanours.

As Saskia finished outlining her agenda for the coming event, the grandfather clock in the entrance hall struck six times. Getting up from her seat, the self-appointed leader of the newly formed alliance took her cue from this proclamation of the hour.

"Right girls, not long now until our guests arrive. I think it's time to get Dolores ready for her debut as a submissive."

She called across to the still-as-a-statue servant, asking her to lead the way in accompanying them to the mansion's master bedroom. As Crystal headed for the door, Saskia whispered to her co-conspirators.

"This will be the big test, as it'll show us how the servants are going to react when they're in Dolores' presence. Let's see if they continue to take orders from us, or if their loyalties revert back to their ex-leader."

Picking up two pairs of handcuffs from the nearest stash, she handed one set to Cathy.

"If she turns against us, we'll need to work as a team, grab her, get her on the floor and handcuff her as quickly as possible. Do you think you can manage that?"

Not totally convincingly, Cathy nodded. Saskia didn't seem to notice this show of trepidation however, as she was already halfway to the door, following the already departed Crystal.

After a short detour back to the training room to pick up a necessary component in the forthcoming preparations, the strange procession made its way upwards to the chamber of the recently deposed ruler of Shackleton Grange. With Crystal leading the way through the confusingly identical corridors, they soon found themselves marching in single file along the very landing that led to the place of Dolores' incarceration. At first, Saskia and her two cohorts had become engrossed in discussing and ironing out any outstanding details as to how the night's events were to unfold. But as they reached the door behind which Dolores lay, the conversation gradually petered out and an almost reverential hush descended on the unlikely caravan of women.

The unlocking and opening of the heavy door allowed the visiting party to gaze into a room in semi-darkness due to the drawn curtains. Switching on the overhead light, however, revealed Dolores' plush apartment to Cathy and Bethany for the first time. Unlike much of the other sleeping accommodation to which they'd been subjected, this room was both large and lavishly furnished, with deep-pile carpets, luxurious bedding and extravagantly tasteful fixtures and fittings. But although Cathy was eager to check out some of the more expensive looking items that appeared to be in such abundance, Saskia immediately ushered her two colleagues towards one of the ornately carved wardrobes. Turning the key in the lock, she slowly - tentatively even - opened the door and peered into the interior.

Even with the light on in the room, the bottom section of the revealed space, with its row of cat-suits hanging directly above, was shrouded in darkness. As both Cathy and Bethany moved in for a closer look, however, a slight movement, accompanied by what could only be described as the most pathetic of whimpers, told the now fascinated onlookers that a living being of some description did indeed languish in the cramped space close to their feet, as Saskia had foretold.

Saskia's opening remark - part sarcasm, part communiqué - caused a longer, more sustained burst of sound to emanate from the tightly packed confines of the wardrobe. But it wasn't until she bent down and dragged the wriggling mass out onto the carpet, that the full extent of Dolores' woes were revealed. Dressed from head to toe in black, with a leather hood obscuring all features bar her nostrils, she cut a pitiful figure compared to the last time either Cathy or Bethany had set eyes on her. Hogtied with handcuffs, elbow tied and sightless, her attempts at speech left the captivated audience in no doubt that a gag of great efficiency lay beneath the stretched layer of hide that covered her mouth.

For several minutes, none of the assembled onlookers spoke; each content, it seemed, to bask in the knowledge that their former tormentor was no longer capable of inflicting any further suffering on them, and indeed that the boot was now most definitely on the other foot. Finally, however, remembering that time was short, and that they'd come here for a purpose other than to gloat, Saskia broke the spell. Slowly, she began to loosen the lacing that kept the hood welded to the contours of Dolores' face; so much so that her eye sockets, her nose, and the ball that kept her lips permanently apart, all stood out in stark relief against the terrain of her leather-clad face.

The removal of the hood took a minute or more, but finally Dolores' tangled, sweat-soaked tresses were revealed. Blinking profusely in the alien light, her red-rimmed eyes eventually focused to gaze up at a ring of faces staring down at her. A long, drawn out whine of displeasure slipped easily around the edges of the rubber ball that filled her mouth. But if this dismal attempt at communication was intended to stir compassion in the gathered horde, it failed miserably. As the faces sharpened into those of Saskia, Cathy and Bethany - the latter seemingly standing awkwardly with her hands held - tied? - behind her back - Dolores knew immediately that any pleas for mercy were doomed to pass unheeded. Struggling ferociously in her bonds also failed to elicit a positive response as far the cuffed woman was concerned. As she writhed in her impotence, she caught a glimpse of a fourth figure standing behind the trio who had come to revel in her misfortune. And the sight of her servant, watching with detached disinterest, suddenly awoke fresh hope in the demoralised detainee. For here, surely, was an ally who would help her out of this bleak situation that she found herself in.

Pronouncing her words as best she could, Dolores' mandate, although muffled, was clearly conceived as a direct order to Crystal; the gist of which was to overpower the three women who had had the audacity to tie her up and keep her prisoner in her own home, then release her from her own bonds. But if she had been expecting blind obedience from her usually compliant attendant, she was once again to be left feeling let down. For although a brief flash of uncertainty seemed to furrow the brow of the silent subordinate, a few words from Saskia soon seemed to resolve any indecision that might have momentarily crossed her stultified mind.

"Stay where you are Crystal. Under no circumstances are you to release or in any way tamper with Dolores' bonds unless I tell you to."

Dolores tried again, with even more gusto than before, and her screeching, beseeching voice, rising to a shrill crescendo, caused the windows to rattle and the bottles of perfume and lotions on the dressing table to vibrate. But it seemed that her calls for assistance had been overridden by the more coherent, authoritative directive from Saskia, and she watched despondently as Crystal's eyes returned to their original, apathetic state.

Saskia turned to her two colleagues, a note of smug triumph evident in her voice.

"You see girls? Crystal has no particular allegiance to Dolores, or anyone else for that matter. She simply takes orders from whoever appears to be in control... and that's us now!"

Although this revelation may have been reassuring to both Cathy and Bethany, Dolores was not finished yet, and it was immediately obvious that she took issue with this point of view and was determined to disprove it and regain the authority which she saw as rightfully hers. Once again, her appeal-cum-demand for Crystal to come to her aid rang out around the ancient beams and masonry of Shackleton Grange. But as before, her endeavours failed to bring about a satisfactory resolution to this personal crisis that she was stuck in.

And that crisis was about to get even worse.

As her melancholy chorus finally ran its course, Dolores could only watch with alarm as Saskia turned again to the emotionless servant and dismissed her from the room; telling her to go back to the main hall and wait there for further instruction. With her only possible sympathiser now removed from the equation, Dolores' panic rose to new heights, as the three remaining woman in their identical spandex outfits all moved in closer to where she lay.

But what was this? All of a sudden, renewed hope surged through the formerly all-powerful despot, as Saskia bent in close and began to release the buckle on the strapping that held the gag in place. But if she thought that the removal of this vocal inhibiting ball was in any way indicative of a general thaw in the harsh, icy climate that hung over proceedings, and that perhaps a more lenient era had suddenly dawned, she was soon to be dissuaded of this notion.

With the ball removed, Dolores screamed loudly into the ether, hoping that her once faithful servant might still be in the vicinity, and that her now clear commands would stir recognition in her former compliant employee that she was the true ruler of this house, and that her orders - and hers alone - were the ones which must be obeyed.

But whether Crystal was still within earshot, or whether she simply no longer recognised Dolores as the authority she had once been, was a moot point, as this hoped for aid failed to materialise. And soon Dolores found herself with a far more sinister development to contemplate. As the dethroned tyrant watched with fear-etched eyes, Saskia produced a small phial of liquid that she'd retrieved from the training room, and which she'd kept hidden from the bound Mistress up until this point.

"So Dolores, soon it'll be payback time. In less than an hour your paying customers will be turning up to learn how to tie and be tied. We wouldn't want to let them down now, would we?"

Dolores squirmed in her bonds as this rhetorical question was put to her, and began a lengthy rant concerning the morality of interfering in her business dealings, before informing the trio of the consequences they faced when she was eventually restored to her rightful place as head of the household. But if these threats were aimed at intimidating the triumvirate, then she had made a grave error of judgement. Because far from having Saskia, Cathy and Bethany quaking in their skin-tight spandex, this tirade was perceived to be exactly what it really was; all bluster and hot air delivered from a position of utter powerlessness. And it was Saskia, obviously the spokeswoman for the group, who put Dolores in her place.

"Threaten all you like Dolores, you can't do a thing to hurt us anymore."

As she made this pronouncement, she broke the seal on the phial.

"Now, as you seem to like trying to control people with mind-numbing drugs, it's time for you to - quite literally - be given a taste of your own medicine."

She turned to Cathy.

"Hold her head still while I administer this potion, will you?"

Hesitantly, as if still not completely convinced that Dolores wasn't suddenly going to burst free from her shackles and overpower them all, Cathy leant forward and grabbed Dolores by the jaw. Pulling her head upwards, so that her neck was stretched to its limits, Cathy fought to keep the enraged woman's head stationary, not to mention stop her fingers being bitten, as Dolores used the only weapons available to her to hinder the process of rendering her unconscious. The grabbing of her nose by Saskia, however, soon put paid to the still wriggling woman's attempts to sink her incisors into her subjugators' flesh, and in one quick movement the phial had been tipped to such an angle that the thick, syrupy liquid spilled slowly into Dolores' unwillingly waiting throat. With the tiny vessel empty, Cathy and Saskia worked as a team to hold their adversaries head back, so that the vile concoction couldn't be spat out again. Once certain that the medication had been ingested, they finally released their vice-like grip on her face.

For a minute or two, Dolores fumed and seethed, her invective consisting of threats pertaining to the action she would take in order to avenge what she saw as the unprovoked and completely undeserved treatment that she was undergoing. Slowly but surely, however, her speech began to falter and slur, with the coherence of her diatribe gradually turning from well enunciated insults and clear yet less than credible threats, to complete gibberish. And it was this, the proof that the drugs were taking effect, which Saskia used as the signal to reapply the ball-gag to Dolores' mouth.

Even so, despite the gag and her failing faculties, for a while Dolores continued with both her efforts to vocalise her displeasure at the treatment being meted out to her, and her attempts to achieve what would have been a miraculous, Houdini- style escape act. As the minutes wore on, however, her bucking and contorting exploits, which had been a constant since being disinterred from the wardrobe, gradually subsided, until at last she lapsed into a state of motionless tranquillity.

Whilst the drugs had been taking effect, Saskia, Cathy and Bethany had held their vigil in silence, watching and waiting for the inevitable to overtake their former persecutor. With her limbs and body now limp and lifeless, and with her mouth now mercifully silent, however, the next phase of the mission could be set in motion. As always, Saskia took the lead.

"Right girls, that should have knocked the evil bitch out for the next two or three hours. Now we need to find some way of transporting her downstairs ready for tonight's little show."

At precisely this moment, both Bethany and Cathy seemed to have exactly the same idea. But it was Cathy, with an evil grin lighting up her face, who was first to offer Saskia the solution.

"I think I know the perfect way to make certain that her entrance tonight will be memorable for all those present...especially Dolores."

Chapter 27 - The Dawning of a New Era (added: 2018/09/01)

Saskia watched as the car advanced slowly up the driveway; the sound of gravel crackling beneath tyres disturbing the stillness of the evening. The outlook from the small office window gave an excellent view of the approach to Shackleton Grange's main entrance, and she was able to observe the dark green Toyota coming to a halt beside the derelict fountain, before the doors on both sides opened simultaneously and the pair of occupants emerged into the failing light. A minute or so ago, the buzz of the intercom had been followed by a disembodied female voice informing her that Megan and Alison had arrived for tonight's class, and now Saskia was able to put faces to the names, as the duo slammed the car doors shut and began to walk slowly towards the house. Both had long flowing hair - one blonde, the other brunette - and both looked to be in their mid twenties. But it was their choice of clothing that stood out and would, if any member of the public had been on hand to view this strange spectacle, have betrayed the fact that these two females weren't simply out for a drink at the local pub. For they were both wearing one-piece leather outfits that fit snugly to every inch of their figures, and left very little to the imagination. Climbing the three steps that led up to the porch, Saskia now lost sight of the two arrivals, although the clacking of high-heeled boots on ancient stone seemed to echo around the old building and remain in the air for several seconds after their disappearance from view.

From somewhere within the house a bell sounded, and Saskia watched through the open office door as Sapphire - now, along with Electra, released from her subterranean prison and acting on the orders she'd been given - marched purposefully in her freshly acquired silver latex cat-suit towards the ringing sound. A second or two later, the telltale creaking of the heavy door signalled the entrance of the first of tonight's pupils into the house. Saskia was on the point of leaving her control room to welcome the arrivals to the BATH Society's first event under its new management regime, but before she had taken more than two steps towards the door, the intercom buzzer once more erupted into life. Torn between greeting her guests and answering the two-way communication device, Saskia chose the latter, satisfied that Sapphire had understood her earlier instruction to convey tonight's novices into the hall where the class was to take place, and certain that Cathy was on hand to do the 'seating and greeting' in her absence.

Returning to the desk, Saskia pressed a button on the machine and spoke into the microphone. After the opening pleasantries, Saskia received the information that the person now waiting at the gates was named Olivia, and that she too was here for the same purpose as the recently arrived duo. Operating the mechanism that opened the gates, tonight's host directed the newcomer to make her way up to the house.

Unlike the first arrivals, it transpired that Olivia had made her way to Shackleton Grange on foot. Or maybe she'd been dropped off by someone at the gates. Whatever the case, it took a couple of minutes for the latest recruit to appear in Saskia's line of vision, as she took the left hand spiralling path around the fountain, with its bondage-inspired statues welcoming her in stony silence. Despite the warmth of a spring evening, Olivia wore a black leather overcoat which covered her from neck to knees, but her lower legs were clearly attired in skin-tight latex, and Saskia guessed that the coat was there to hide - from prying eyes and passers-by as she made her way here through the villages and country lanes - the fact that the rest of her slim frame was also thus attired.

Saskia marvelled at the realisation that all these women were turning up here willingly, either wanting to tie or be tied. And to think that until very recently she had no idea that such practices even existed, at least not on an organised level such as the set-up that Dolores had here. But what was arousing her more than anything, was the thought of watching these women tie and gag each other up tightly, and - even more exciting - actually taking an active part in the binding process herself.

The intercom buzzer once more interrupted her daydream. Glancing at the clock on the office wall, Saskia noticed that it was now nearly ten to seven. With paying customers turning up with increasingly regularity, everybody would soon be accounted for and the class could then get underway. As she leant forward to press the button that would allow her to speak to this latest arrival, Saskia noticed that her hand was trembling; not from fear, as had so often been the case since her arrival at Shackleton Grange, but with anticipation.

Bethany had been sitting in quiet contemplation for the past half hour or so. Her position by the window of the room in which the class was to be held gave her a magnificent view of the grounds of the manor house, with the wooded area beyond. A murmuration of starlings briefly filled the gradually darkening sky with their synchronised acrobatic display, and from somewhere in the spinney, a nightingale began its crepuscular serenade. Aside from this avian activity, and the gentle ticking of the clock, the house seemed at peace.

The opening of the door to the room shattered this sense of serenity, however, and Bethany turned around awkwardly in her seat towards the source of this commotion. The scene she witnessed consisted of a group of four women, two of whom were familiar. Cathy led the way, dressed, as always, in her black spandex cat-suit, followed by two women who were unknown to her. Bringing up the rear, as if guarding against any escape plans that the strangers might be contemplating, was the hooded and subservient Sapphire. Ushering the newly arrived pair over to the window, Cathy made the introductions.

"Bethany, I'd like you to meet the first of our guests tonight, Alison and Megan."

She turned to the duo of identically dressed, leather suited females.

"This is Bethany, who will be helping out with some of the practical demonstrations we have planned for this evening."

With difficulty, Bethany rose from her chair, as the blonde member of the pair - whether this was Megan or Alison wasn't entirely clear - stretched out her leather gloved hand. Bethany found herself hit by a wave of emotion that encompassed both embarrassment and pleasure, as she twisted her torso to one side in order to show the visitor the reason she was unable to shake hands at that particular moment. The sight of the handcuffs served to fascinate the two women, and acted as an ice-breaker, as both moved forward to question her on this state of obviously willing captivity, and it occurred to Bethany that they - as she herself had been only a week ago - were new to this kind of event, and were greatly pleased to meet others who shared their obsession with all things bondage. So mesmerised were they with their discovery of a fellow bondage aficionado, that neither seemed to hear Cathy's parting words as she and Sapphire headed back towards the door.

"Right, I'll leave you in Bethany's capable hands for a few minutes until the other students arrive."

Before too long the full complement of seven novices had found their way through Shackleton Grange's electronically controlled gates, and had been ushered into the designated room in which the action was to take place tonight. After the assemblage had been allowed to mingle and get acquainted for a few minutes, Saskia and Cathy made their entrance. Behind them, the three servants followed, dressed in their colour coded latex cat-suits which hugged their lithe figures. Adorning their heads were the customary hoods, which blocked out their features save for the nostrils, eyes and the fountain of hair that sprouted from the top. Cathy and Saskia, by contrast, wore no facial or head coverings, and their cat-suits were of black, shimmering spandex which also highlighted every curve of their slim frames. Taking a deep breath, and trying to hide her nervousness - or was it enthusiasm? - Saskia addressed the now hushed congregation.

"Good evening ladies, my name's Saskia and I'd like to welcome you all to Bondage Class. I don't know how many of you have been here before, but if you have I'm sure you'll be wondering where your usual hostess, Mistress Dolores, is tonight. Well unfortunately the Mistress is indisposed just at this moment, so tonight's session will be led by me and my two colleagues Bethany..."

She gestured with her hand towards the manacled woman, in identical garb to her two fellow hosts, who now sat in the midst of her new found admirers.

...and Cathy. Don't worry though, Dolores will be putting in an appearance later, I can assure you of that."

With more than a little trepidation, in case the standard of instruction should prove to be unsatisfactory to the clearly bondage-hungry group of women who had paid good money to come here today, Saskia opened proceedings by demonstrating a few simple tying techniques on the three compliant and docile servants, who simply sat and allowed her to apply ropes to their wrists and legs without hindrance. As she got into her stride, however, a fervent passion for the task in hand began to kick in, and after a few minutes she suddenly realised that her audience were watching intently, taking in everything she showed them and hanging on her every word. And with this revelation, Saskia's confidence received a massive boost, and she found herself playing the role of Bondage Mistress as if she'd been doing it for years. Soon, once Crystal, Sapphire and Electra were well and truly incapacitated, the seven apprentices were given the opportunity to practice what they'd just learnt. With the willingly volunteering Bethany making up the numbers, the girls split into pairs and began exploring their bondage desires to the full.

The next hour and a half seemed to fly by, with everyone present getting more and more engrossed in their labour-of-love, until finally all the submissive halves of the pairings seemed to have had their appetite for being inescapably bound well and truly sated, with the dominants attaining equally satisfactory fulfilment from their chosen role in the process.

Saskia, who had been watching from the sidelines with an ever increasing sense of pride, turned to Cathy.

"I think it's about time for the night's main event. Help me untie the servants and we'll get Dolores ready for her unveiling. I'm sure, given the attentiveness and enthusiasm that the girls are exhibiting, that they'll really enjoy seeing a demonstration of just how restrictive multi-layered, totally immobilising bondage can be."

A broad smile illuminated Saskia's face, and she realised that she was becoming extremely excited at the thought of the upcoming presentation.

With the three mute and obedient servants released from their bindings, Saskia dispatched them to go to the storeroom and pick up what she cryptically referred to as "tonight's star exhibit". Without hesitation or show of emotion, the trio hurried in single file towards the door. They were gone no more than a minute, however, during which time a general murmuring of anticipation gradually set in amongst the waiting group, whose curiosity had been whetted by Saskia's remarks. When the black, silver and pink suited figures returned, they were struggling under the weight of a large wooden trunk, with strapping buckled securely across the top to prevent the lid from opening. Two large padlocks had also been fitted for the same purpose. Setting their load down in the centre of the room, the three bearers stepped back and stood against the wall, gazing vacantly into space with the hands behind their backs, leaving the stage clear for Saskia to once more take control.

"So ladies, as I mentioned earlier Dolores wasn't in a position to take charge of the class tonight, but she was still keen to make some kind of contribution to the proceedings. What you're about to witness is a display of how several layers of expertly applied bondage can be far more effective, not to mention more aesthetically pleasing, than one. And for this demonstration, Dolores has generously agreed to act as the guinea pig, to allow you to not only witness the procedure of putting someone into a completely escape-proof cocoon using a variety of different materials and bondage equipment, but also to show how comfortable and relaxing this state of total incapacitation can be."

As she spoke, Cathy had been unlocking the padlocks and was beginning to remove the stout straps that sealed the sturdy container. With these obstructions discarded, Saskia moved to one end of the box, whilst Cathy positioned herself at the other. With a sense of the dramatic, Saskia built up the suspense with a slow countdown.

"Ready Cathy? Three...two...one...OPEN!"

Pulling back the lid in tandem, the pair wasted no time in swiftly tipping the now open trunk forwards. As they did so, a strange sight was presented to the group, as the contents of the box flopped limply onto the floor. A loud gasp of surprise seemed to well up in unison from all the unsuspecting females, as they laid eyes on the Mistress of Shackleton Grange for the first time. But if they'd formed any mental image in their heads of what a dominatrix was supposed to look like, the vision that greeted them now was unlikely to have been the one they had in mind. For there, lying immobile on the carpet, was a semi-naked woman who seemed to be either asleep or unconscious; the only sign that she was actually alive being a slight grunt of anguish as she initially hit the floor.

Closer inspection revealed that the woman's only item of clothing consisted of a pair of black tights that adorned her long, slim legs. From the waist up, her milk-white skin was open to the elements. Her long wavy hair hung in a tangled mass across her face, but even through this unkempt mess, it was clear that her mouth and cheeks were hidden from view behind a wall of grey adhesive tape that had been wound around the lower part of her head several times. And this wasn't the only part of her anatomy that had been subjected to the application of this strongly bonding medium, for along the length of her black-clad legs, at four strategic points between ankles and thighs, bands of the battleship grey binding agent had been stringently wrapped to ensure her lower limbs remained bonded together side by side. And the hoops of tightly wound restraints hadn't been confined only to her solitary item of clothing , for around her waist, as well as both just below and just above her breasts, more encircling strips of the unbreakable tape had been applied directly onto her skin and pressed down to ensure that removal by the wearer was not an option.

At first, Dolores lay on her back with arms hidden beneath her, showing no inclination to move, as if in some kind of trance. But as the transfixed spectators - some of them still in varying states of bondage - stood up and moved in to get a better view, Saskia stepped forwards and rolled the demonstration model over onto her stomach, to reveal that, not only did the tape around her upper torso incorporate her arms within its confines, but that her hands were held closely together, palm to palm, due to the fact that her wrists had also succumbed to the grey encircling tape that held her in check. For what must have been at least two minutes, none of the astonished throng spoke, clearly awe-struck by what they were witnessing. So it was left to Saskia to break the spell.

"Now you're probably thinking, ladies, that Dolores is already bound to such a degree that she could never escape, and you're probably right. But why take that risk? Why not make doubly, triply, or quadruply sure that she's securely and inescapably trapped by adding a few further ligatures and fetters, just to be on the safe side? And that's exactly what we're going to do now."

Manoeuvring their model back to her original position, Cathy knelt down and swept Dolores' dishevelled locks away from her face. A slight moan, only audible to anyone in the immediate vicinity, found its way passed the layer of gagging tape, and if the onlookers had been attentive, they would probably have noticed the fact that the star exhibit's eyes were glazed over and heavily lidded, as if under the influence of some drug or other mentally debilitating substance. But none of those present seemed too concerned with examining those dull, unresponsive eyes right now; more interested, it appeared, in the bonds that she wore on her limbs and body, and waiting with bated breath for more to be added. And, of course, Saskia and Cathy were only too happy to oblige.

From the bottom of the trunk, Saskia produced several pairs of tights; all of forty denier weave and flesh coloured. A look of bemusement came over many of the watchers at this point, the unasked question being why, when the model's legs were already hosiery clad, were these additional pairs necessary? It was Bethany who now took up the commentary and enlightened the group, while her two cohorts got on with the task of making their victim as secure as possible. Still handcuffed, and now with the added burden of roped and secured legs, she sat amongst the rest of the audience and explained how Dolores was going to be encased in a second skin of fine silky mesh from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. As her aural clarification of events echoed around the high ceilinged room, the visual experience on offer showed Cathy lifting Dolores' legs away from the floor, whilst Saskia slipped her already taped feet into one leg of the tights. Once this initial insertion had been achieved, Cathy hoisted the less than fully compos mentis woman to her feet, so that Saskia could work the sleek nylon hose up her legs, over her thighs and hips, to finally finish at her waist. For now, the second leg of this pair of tights simply hung loosely down the back of Dolores' now encased legs. But if any of the watching crowd were perplexed as to why it should be left dangling in this manner, Bethany was quick to inform her listeners that this was not an oversight, and that the loose end would be tied up neatly in the near future.

The next stage in the performance followed a similar formula, only this time one leg of the next pair of tights was slipped over Dolores' hands before being pulled up her arms and the waistband stretched over her shoulders. That was the easy part. The next phase of the operation involved stretching the mesh of the second leg to its limits and pulling the thin fabric over Dolores' head. It was touch and go whether there was enough elasticity in the pliable fabric to achieve this aim, but with much straining and cajoling by Saskia, the former Mistress' hair and facial features finally slid beneath the breathable covering, obscuring the once clearly visible details behind a slightly fuzzy, blurred screen, whilst flattening down her nose and eyelids. Pulling the leg down further, so that the now grotesque looking woman's head slid ever deeper towards the toe end of the tights, both Saskia and Cathy worked as one to stretch the fabric down over her shoulders, then onwards past her breasts, until the mesh was at the limits of its endurance around her midriff.

With this second pair of tights now in position, the bemused and befuddled Dolores was forced - with Cathy holding her at the shoulder to avoid a nasty fall - to complete a 360 degree twirl around on her bound feet, so that the audience could take in the now encased woman from every angle. But if anyone thought that this was the final act involving the use of hosiery as bondage material, they were soon proved wrong, even though a gap of only a few inches of exposed flesh now existed between her breasts and waist.

The third and final pair of tights were much easier to encase Dolores in than the previous two had been, because one leg of this pair was simply pulled down over her already smothered head, then dragged down her body to meet the first pair at the waist. With this latest affront to her liberty also encompassing her already sheathed arms, of course, this meant that they were now doubly trapped, with the second layer lashing them to her back from shoulders to hands. And just to compound her misfortunes, the spare 'tails' from the first and third pairs of tights were now put to good use, as these were wound around the hapless woman's body as tightly as they would stretch, before being tied off around her already cocooned wrists. As Dolores was once more encouraged to hop around in a circle for the viewers' pleasure, a ripple of applause from the admiring women broke out spontaneously. But if they were under the impression that the completion of the tights encasement signalled an end to the bondage process as a whole, they were way off the mark with this assumption. In fact, this was only the beginning.

Picking up a reel of duct tape each, Saskia and Cathy began to add a second layer of the industrial strength adhesive to the now slightly obscured figure that stood in statuesque silence, mentally unaware of exactly what was going on around her, and powerless to have done anything about her worsening situation anyway. With Saskia starting at her feet, and Cathy at the neck, the duo worked quickly and efficiently to wrap the strongly bonding sealant over the exact same parts of their prey's anatomy as those original strips just visible beneath the tights. Once finished, the subject of their handiwork gave the appearance of a flesh coloured sausage, with bands of grey at regular intervals all down her body from shoulders to ankles. It was clear that nobody, least of all one whose brain was still numb from her enforced intake of sedatives, could escape from this level of bondage.

But even so, Cathy and Saskia had no intention of letting Dolores off that lightly. And so, as their attentive audience looked on, they once more got to work, as the next chapter in what was turning into an epic bondage extravaganza began to unfold.

With Cathy standing by, should Dolores wobble on her closely bound feet and start to fall, Saskia crossed to a small table that stood close to the door, on which a suitcase, hitherto unnoticed or at least uncommented upon by the assembled guests, was situated. Pulling the lid upwards, all eyes were fixed upon her as she withdrew what looked like a large, catering-sized reel of strong, transparent cling-film. Bringing this back to the stage where tonight's strange drama was being enacted, without delay she began to wind this tightly around Dolores' already tights encased and doubly taped legs. The purpose of her actions needed no explanation from any of the three conspirators, as the thin, clinging, see-through plastic film was wrapped three or four times around the helpless woman's calves, before the encircling process gradually worked its way upwards over her knees, around her thigh, and ever onwards over her buttocks, pelvis, midriff and breasts, before finally reaching her shoulders. Up to now, the wrapping had been on the horizontal plane, but once the neck area was reached, it took on a diagonal slant; crossing from the deposed Mistress' left shoulder down to her right hip, then around her back to once more rise up over her breasts to her right shoulder. Several times this pattern continued, until the film was all used up, at which point Dolores had been immersed under several layers of this insulating wrap from ankles to throat.

And it was at this juncture also, just as Saskia was discarding the inner cardboard tube around which the film had been packed, that Dolores let out a strange mumbling sound; a mixture of surprise, fear and incomprehension all mingling together in a short burst of incoherence, that signalled to Saskia, Cathy and Bethany that their captive was starting to come out of her unnatural slumber, but which, to the rest of those present, simply suggested play-acting on the part of a willing participant. Which was precisely what they had been led to believe she was. Cathy and Saskia exchanged glances, both realising that soon Dolores would be coming round, and that they needed to get the process that they'd started complete before anyone suspected the true reality of the situation.

Once more delving into the suitcase, which had been pre-packed with much of the equipment that they were going to need tonight, Cathy withdrew the next item that Dolores would soon be modelling. Not only was the black spandex sheath both durable and pliable, but it fit Dolores' mummified form like a tightly constricting glove, which clung to every inch of her now totally encased form. With two layers of tights already covering her head, the former tyrant's sight had already been blurred by the mesh, but now, as Saskia and Cathy eased the latest casing up to her face, everything must have suddenly gone dark for the confused recipient of this latest layer of bondage, as the spandex glided smoothly over her cranium to entirely obscure her from the many watching eyes. Another low groan, this one slightly louder and more prolonged, issued from the head end of this black, human-shaped package, which now lay prone on the floor of the classroom.

But even though there was no chance whatsoever of the enveloped woman in her wrapped up seclusion breaking free, still the act of making certain that Dolores remained as secure as possible continued unabated. The next fetters to be utilised were five broad leather belts, which Saskia had discovered earlier in Dolores' wardrobe. With the first being wound twice around the Mistress' spandex-sheathed ankles, before being buckled tightly and securely, the others soon followed in similar fashion; strategically arranged around her knees, thighs, waist and chest with strict attention to tautness, so that no slack remained and the chances of even minor slippage were zero.

A slight movement - whether voluntary or otherwise couldn't easily be established - rippled along the length of the until now motionless figure enwrapped in her own private world of bondage. Cathy looked across at Saskia nervously; the effects of the drugs were definitely beginning to wear off, and she feared that in a short while Dolores would have enough of her wits about her to start creating a major disturbance that it would be impossible to pass off as role-play to the innocently watching classmates. Saskia seemed to sense this too, but the desire to complete what they'd started still burnt brightly in her. They'd have to work fast though. Tipping the remaining contents of the suitcase onto the floor, the onlookers witnessed a long, narrow canvas sack, together with a plethora of ropes and chains, cascade onto the carpet. Quickly stretching the sack out to its full length, Cathy and Saskia placed Dolores' feet into this second sheath and hurriedly worked it up to her neck. Unlike the spandex sleep-sack already employed, this newly acquired addition to Dolores' misery wasn't long enough to reach beyond her throat. But what it did possess was a draw-string around the open end, which when pulled would tighten, to avoid the contents - whatever they might be - from spilling out. And if this worked to keep inanimate objects within its interior, then it also proved effective on a human consignment, as once the strings had been pulled and tied - close to Dolores' spandex-covered windpipe, but not so tightly that strangulation could occur - it was clear that no amount of wriggling of the captive's shoulders would ever result in a successful exit.

Saskia looked up at the enthralled faces all around her.

"We're almost done here, but it would be a shame if these last few bonds weren't put to good use. So what I'd like you all to do, or at least those of you who still have the use of your hands, is to put into practice the skills you've been taught tonight, and help me and Cathy finish the job off."

It seemed that the four members of the group who weren't themselves tied needed no further encouragement, as they swiftly stood up and grabbed the available ligatures. Saskia stepped back now, watching with satisfaction as the women encircled their test subject in ropes and chains, securing the former with unyielding knots and the latter with padlocks. They giggled and laughed as they worked, clearly relishing the task in hand, and unaware that the woman who languished somewhere beneath their handiwork was not there of her own freewill.

For someone who had never tied anyone up before, in fact had never even considered doing such a thing until today, Saskia felt proud of the finished work of art that lay at her feet. But what were they to do now? A slight bucking, thrusting movement indicated that the cocooned woman had lifted her hips clear of the ground and was exploring her newly acquired environment, or more specifically, how to get out of it. Thinking on her feet, Saskia had a brainwave. Bending down to the prone figure, she spoke loudly to the head end of the human parcel.

"Okay Dolores, we've finished now. How do you fancy showing your audience just how inescapably trapped you are. And while you're at it, you might as well give them some indication of how effective that gag is. Go on, give it your best shot."

She placed her hand on Dolores' shoulder and shook her gently, as if to encourage the mayhem that she knew would soon ensue. Then another idea suddenly hit her.

"Or would you prefer that we put you back in the trunk and left you to your own devices?"

Fortuitously, as these words were uttered, a strange sound issued from the general vicinity of Dolores' mouth. Whether this was a response to Saskia's question, a general objection to the treatment she was being forced to endure, a plea for leniency, or simply a random sound from a woman slowly emerging from a drug-induced stupor, was unknowable. But this mattered not one iota to Saskia, who used the ambiguity of the noise to her own ends. She looked up at the closely scrutinising faces that surrounded her.

"That's Dolores' signal that she wants to be left alone now. As far as she's concerned the shows over, and all she wants is to be allowed to enjoy her bondage in peace. We'll just put her back in the box and I'll get the servants to take her back to her room, so that she can luxuriate to her heart's content in her helplessness. She'll be quite happy to remain like that all night now. So say goodnight to her, and we'll have her carted off to her own private heaven."

Another wave of spontaneous applause rung around the room, as the company bade Dolores farewell, with the odd complement thrown in as to how much they had enjoyed the display, and how much they admired her ability and willingness to endure such heavy and unbreakable bondage. Saskia smiled to herself. If only they knew the truth!

All the while that the wrapping and entrapping of their former boss had been going on, the three silent servants had waited without moving a muscle, seeming not to take any interest in the bizarre proceedings that were taking place no more than a few feet away from where they stood. No sooner had they been addressed by Saskia, however, and asked to reinter their ex-leader, than they were on the case in a second, each seeming to know what was required of them without getting in the others' way. With Electra holding the lid of the trunk up, Sapphire grabbed the feet end of the package whilst Crystal took hold of the shoulders. Within seconds, the slightly wriggling form had been deposited back into her travelling accommodation and the lid slammed down with a bang. The straps and padlocks followed in quick succession, so that in less than a minute Dolores was ready for transportation out of the limelight.

Saskia checked the clock on the mantelpiece. It was five to nine. How time flies when you're having fun, she thought to herself. But now it was time to wrap up proceedings and send the clearly satisfied customers on their way. As the three mute attendants dutifully picked up the trunk and proceeded to make their way out of the room with their human cargo, Saskia began her closing speech.

"Well ladies, I do hope you've enjoyed tonight's class, and hopefully we'll see some, if not all of you back here again in a week's time for the next instalment in your training. Thanks for coming and goodnight."

As the excited throng made their way out of the room and prepared to vacate the premises, Saskia caught Cathy's eye, and saw that she too seemed happy - and indeed relieved - with the way things had gone. And as for Bethany, it was crystal clear from the grin she'd worn on her face all night, that she'd enjoyed the whole experience of being tied up in the company of like-minded souls. It all seemed to augur well for the future.

The start of Dolores' evening remained a little hazy in her memory, to say the very least. Her slumbers had been deep and dreamless ever since that disgusting liquid had been forced down her throat by those three bitches, and only now, after an indeterminate amount of time, did she finally begin to surface from this undesirable state of inertia.

Her first sensory experience, as she rose from the deep subconscious level to which she'd been banished, was of movement, as if she was being transported in some box or container. Her eyes were open, but all she encountered was a void of utter blackness. Then the feeling of motion stopped, and from somewhere, seemingly at a distance, voices could faintly be heard, although her brain was in no state to compute what was being said at that moment. All of a sudden, the darkness gave way to a blurred hazy light, and almost immediately the sensation of falling forward overcame her for a few seconds, before she once again came to rest.

She tried to move, but found her entire being weighted down by a heaviness that she'd never encountered before, and the commands from her still befuddled brain failed to elicit a response from her limbs, which anyway seemed welded together at certain points along their length. Gazing into the space before her, her blurred, dysfunctional vision encountered a sea of blobs that could possibly have been faces, but weren't really distinct enough for her to be sure with any degree of certainty. And this visual fuzziness was soon to worsen, as some form of covering was now being slipped over her head, and the sharpness and brightness of her outlook dimmed somewhat, as her whole body felt as if it was being slipped into some form of light, material casing. Still not certain of exactly what was happening to her, the voices continued at irregular intervals, whilst her torso was continually being lifted and manoeuvred into various positions against her will, and every few seconds, whatever was gripping her arms or legs would contract still further.

Then, without warning, all went dark again, as some kind of fabric compressed against her face, followed seconds later by more constriction around her legs and torso. By now, Dolores' wits had focused sufficiently to realise that she was bound, and that her situation was getting more severe by the minute. Still unable to summon the strength to struggle, the best she could manage were feeble attempts to lift her body upwards a fraction of an inch, or stretch her arms or legs out to tentatively test the limits of her capabilities. For the first time, she attempted to communicate to whoever was putting her through this ordeal, but two things were immediately obvious. Firstly, her mind was still not functioning at a level whereby words could be formed into coherent sentences. But secondly, and far more worryingly, was the fact that her mouth was filled to bursting point with some sort of cloth or fabric, and that all the effort she put in to eject this with her tongue and teeth came to nothing.

As Dolores' brain slowly but surely regained some sort of hold on logic, and the feeling in her muscles and joints gradually returned, so it seemed that some outside agency was determined to ensure that she was incapable of putting these re-emerging skills into practice. As the minutes passed, more and more layers seemed to make their way around her prone form, and it became apparent to her reawakening sense of reason that her efforts to counteract these ever more debilitating restrictions were doomed to failure.

Now, a multitude of hands seemed to be lashing even more tight bonds around her already cocooned and entombed being, and the soft clink of chains reached her ears. Trying desperately to show her displeasure at this unwanted attention, Dolores' attempts at speech still wouldn't form into words, and the soft groaning sound that did make its way through the tightly packed gag must have been ambiguous at best. Whatever the case, no assistance was forthcoming. Or at least none that she would have considered useful in her battle to regain her freedom.

But something was definitely happening out there. A voice, closer now than before , sounded through the layers that covered her ears, and although her brain still couldn't interpret the words that were being uttered, she received the impression that it was she that was being directly addressed, and that the gist of the sentence took the form of a question. And as if to back this assumption up, someone seemed to be shaking her by the shoulder, as if trying to get her attention. In an attempt to set up some kind of interaction with whoever was out there, Dolores tried to voice her unhappiness at her deteriorating circumstances, but all she could manage was an incomprehensibly muffled growl.

And it wasn't long before any thought of building up a meaningful rapport with her tormentor and maybe negotiating her release, were nipped in the bud, as suddenly, Dolores felt her completely encumbered frame rising upwards, as two pairs of hands lifted her from the floor on which she'd lain for several minutes now, and for a second or two it felt as if she was floating weightlessly in the air. But this brief sojourn into space was extremely short-lived, as almost immediately she found herself being roughly deposited onto another hard surface, although the sound that her limp form made as the two collided, suggested that she was now resting on something wooden.

But this wasn't the only noise to reach her, for a split second later, another slamming sound, this time of wood on wood, sounded from just above her head and reverberated in her ears. At the same time, the voices that her senses were just beginning to unscramble into meaningful statements, suddenly became muffled and faraway. Even with her brain still functioning well below normal capacity, it was obvious to Dolores that she had been shut inside a wooden receptacle of some description, and within seconds it was clear, from the jerking, jogging movement that bounced her helplessly from one side of her cramped prison to the other, that this container was being moved. But to where?

After no more than ten seconds, the voices that had been her only link to the outside world faded into nothingness, and the remainder of the journey was undertaken in silence, save for the frantic calls for assistance from the now awakened inmate. But whoever it was that was carrying her, they made no attempt to communicate, and after three or four minutes, her makeshift coffin - for that is what it was beginning to seem like to the stricken woman - came to rest with a loud, shuddering bump.

And then there was only silence.

Dolores used up every weapon in her limited arsenal to find some sort of release from the severe status that she had been left to deal with. But it was no use, and she realised this in a matter of only a few seconds. Hardly able to stretch her limbs, arch her back or flex a muscle, Dolores knew that she was entirely at the mercy of those who had conspired to envelope her in this unbreakable shell. All those layers, plus the stuffiness of the container's airless interior, were conspiring to make her uncomfortably hot. And even worse, there didn't appear to be any crotch rope available this time to help her forget her woes, even for a short period of time.

How long would they leave her here? If her captors were teaching her a lesson - which undoubtedly was their goal - then they would presumably take their cue from the length of time that she would have incarcerated them. Which meant that she was in for a very long wait; probably twelve hours or more, even at a conservative guess.

That is, if they ever bothered to come back at all!

Chapter 28 - Tying up a Few Loose Ends(added: 2018/09/29)

A surreal atmosphere hung over the ancient mansion house that Tuesday morning. As the rising sun did its best to burn off the early morning mist which lifted in slowly swirling wisps from Shackleton Grange's dew-laden lawns, Cathy and Saskia sat watching from their seats in the vast bay window. Both had eaten a good breakfast, prepared by the three docile and accommodating servants, and now sat back sipping lapsang souchong from Dolores' best china, as what appeared to be the genesis of a fine Suffolk spring day unfurled before their eyes.

In all honesty, neither had managed to sleep much last night. But unlike the past few days, when what little slumber they'd managed to grab had been fitful and fear-ridden, last night's disturbed shut-eye could be put down to reasons of an entirely different nature. In fact, just before dawn, Cathy had come downstairs from the bedroom she'd commandeered as her own, only to find Saskia sitting alone with her thoughts in the parlour, watching as darkness gave way to daylight. The two had then talked for what seemed like hours, fine-tuning the way that they envisioned the BATH society being governed from now on. Remarkably, given their different backgrounds and lines of business, their ideas dovetailed extremely well.

After a while they'd been joined by Bethany, who had also been having difficulty sleeping, what with the events of the past twenty four hours or so still buzzing around in her head. After the class last night, she'd reluctantly allowed Cathy and Saskia to untie her bonds. Not that she hadn't tried to persuade the duo that she would be fine left all trussed up throughout the hours of darkness though. In fact, she'd done everything within her powers to stop the release programme from taking place; using reason to put her case for being left as she was, and when that failed, trying to evade her would-be liberators by hopping on her bound feet around the room to avoid the inevitable. But in the end, once caught, she had to concede that Saskia was correct in her assertion that she'd had enough excitement for one day, and that she would be able to rest and recuperate better if she wasn't fettered and incapable of movement. She had, as it was explained to her, been bound almost continually for a week, and having a period of time when her limbs weren't lashed securely together would be good for her circulation, as well as her general wellbeing. So she'd finally given in, but only after receiving assurances from her new friends that they would once again bind and render her helpless first thing in the morning. And now she was going to make sure that they kept this part of the deal.

Prior to coming downstairs to the parlour, Bethany had been on the hunt to find the best bonds available for her forthcoming readmission into the world of secure helplessness. She hadn't needed to look far, of course, as almost everywhere you looked in Shackleton Grange, ropes, handcuffs, sheaths and a huge variety of other materials for this very purpose were to be encountered. Picking out an enticing, escape-proof single-sleeve bondage mitten with lacing and straps attached, together with a multitude of ropes and other items chosen for their restraining qualities, she'd laid these down on the coffee table at which Saskia and Cathy sat, and requested - no, demanded in fact - that her arms be encased in this slim cul-de-sac of soft, pliable leather without delay.

Saskia and Cathy had been deep in conversation when Bethany first presented herself, and they had been loath to break the thread of their discussions simply to indulge the merinthophilic tendencies of the third member of their group. After all, their main purpose was to keep Dolores, not a member of their own little clique, in detention. But a deal was a deal. And besides, as Saskia got to work, she realised, as well as being good practice for her emerging skills, that with every tug she made on the laces as they tightened to their limits, she was getting more and more zealous in her efforts. Tying Bethany's legs in four places along their length, from thighs to ankles, Saskia sat the now helpless yet happy woman down on the carpet by the window. Although she'd asked - indeed pleaded - for a gag to complete her ensemble, Saskia had decided that, for the time being at any rate, Bethany would be disappointed in this respect. Her reasoning being that the three of them, not just herself and Cathy, needed to thrash out their plan of campaign this morning, and for this she needed more than simply muffled grunts and the nodding or shaking of a head, to ensure that they were all in complete agreement with regard to how their pact was going to pan out.

Saskia was finding her new role as head of the household both daunting and exciting. She had been wrestling with the dilemma of how to juggle her occupation in the outside world alongside this new found 'hobby' without the one impinging on the other, and had finally come up with a plan which she was satisfied with in regard to how this double-life could be conducted. It would require the cooperation of her two fellow business partners, however.

What she proposed, as they sat around the low table that sunny morning, was that they would basically leave the day to day running of the mansion up to the three servants, and return to their lives in the outside world. Twice a day, however, one or other of the trio would return to Shackleton Grange, check up on Dolores, feed her, see to her needs and replenish her bonds, before leaving her in a different, despicable, and most definitely inescapable state of captivity once again. Both Bethany and Cathy had voiced initial reservations about this scheme, feeling that, left to their own devices, it would only be a matter to time before the brainwashed minions would fall under their former Mistress' spell once more. If or when that happened, it was pointed out to Saskia, then it would only be a matter of time before they found themselves ambushed and back in captivity, especially as the scheme she was espousing involved only one of the team turning up at the house at any given time, except when there was a class or bondage party in the offing. Saskia, however, seemed unfazed by these concerns and tried to calm her cohorts' fears with regard to the servants' loyalties.

"You've seen how they react. They're total zombies and too far gone to truly understand the nature of what's going on here. Provided that we ensure Dolores remains gagged and locked in a secure location when we're not here, they'll have no reason to go anywhere near her. We alone will have access to Dolores, and they can deal with the housework and day to day menial tasks of keeping the place in order. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about."

Although not entirely convinced, both Cathy and Bethany, against their better judgement, decided to give their self-appointed leader the benefit of the doubt - Saskia could be very persuasive when she wanted to be. And this show of compliance from her supposedly equal partners, only served to heighten Saskia's sense of being the commander-in-chief of this strange alliance; which all served to bolster her ego, and give her a sense of power that she'd never known before. It was a feeling, however, that she was extremely comfortable with, and the thoughts of how she was going to be the one calling all the shots when it came to running the BATH society was exciting her to the point of arousal. Already, her mind was full of a multitude of ideas pertaining to different methods of bondage and torture that they could subject Dolores too. And it wasn't just their former captor that Saskia was looking forward to tormenting. For last night's class, along with the bondage party that she'd attended, had given her some insight into the number of women who came here simply because they enjoyed being tied up to the tightest possible degree. And this newly discovered dominant nature - so long dormant yet now beginning to blossom - was causing strange yet wonderful sensations to surge through her. So much so, that in her mind she envisioned a day when she would be in a position similar to that recently vacated by Dolores.

As a journalist, the urge to break this blockbuster story regarding the clandestine activities that had been going on at Shackleton Grange was strong. But she found the desire to make a name for herself in the newspaper world being overridden by an even greater yearning. Put bluntly, Saskia was keen to enhance her budding sadistic tendencies at all costs. Maybe eventually, when she'd established her own reputation on the fetish scene, she could consider giving up her day job and becoming a fulltime Bondage Mistress. That was the dream, although she couldn't admit this at the moment....not even to herself.

The road ahead, of course, would be paved with many uncertainties, with a host of pitfalls visible on the horizon, and even more difficult questions that she was unwilling to even contemplate, due to the impossibility of satisfactory answers being forthcoming. The most pressing of these questions, of course, was how long could they maintain this state of affairs? How long would it be before Dolores' disappearance caused someone to start enquiring into her whereabouts? Wh