The night passed in bouts of fitful rest separated by futile squirming, as I struggled to find a position that didn’t make something hurt more than it already did. Before she left me for the night, Aura tied my collar to a hitch by my leash, then bound my manacles and shackles together with short lengths of twine, leaving me trussed and exposed in front of her manor. After a heavy meal with more sweet than I was used to eating, my stomach shifted unpleasantly each time I moved. The grasses beneath me made me itch, and my shoulders were quickly remembering the ache of being bound. Compounding it all, Oshka had barely reached midsky by the time the longing between my legs began anew. Survival until dawn seemed impossible.
Some time after Koshki had set, the quivering in my stomach reached a new high. I groaned and rolled onto my side, ducking my head to try chew on the grasses as I had seen… other animals… do. They tasted mostly wet and bitter, but I chewed and forced myself to swallow. The lump of greenery sat heavily within, and as I rolled onto my side, the cramping spread to my guts. I tried to ignore the pain, but it continued to build. When the pain had drowned out even the mounting ache between my legs, I felt more than heard a rumble, and then my bowel gave way, fouling my fur and filling the air around me with a greasy stink, mostly covering the delicate aroma of hibiscus.
It was too much. Everything I had told myself of being just an animal, just someone’s housepet, all came back to me with horrifying memory. Even at my sickest as a kit, I hadn’t lost control of myself since I was out of swaddling. Now, I lay in my own filth, too tired and sore to even move away from the mess. I choked and shuddered, doing my best to pull my knees to my chest, to curl into a stinking ball and wish away any knowledge of the night. If I was to be treated like this, could she have not taken my mind as well as everything else? I bit my lip, fighting back the tears as my stomach continued to void itself.
The greatest indignity, though, the last humiliation, was that through it all, even as I lost control of myself, the aching need between my legs continued to grow. As I soiled myself like some common animal, my arousal refused to abate. If anything, it grew stronger even as I was repulsed by the smell, the thought of what was happening. My cheeks burned and my chest felt tight. I sobbed openly, tears soaking the fur of my cheeks as I curled into a tiny knot of shame and pain and arousal, wordlessly begging for morning to come.
By the time dawn did finally break, I had no tears left to shed, nor anything else left within me. The skies were grey, and a light rain had begun to fall, filling the wagon ruts and diluting the rest of the filth. I had become largely inured to the stench of the night before, and a stiff good breeze carried away most of the rest of the smell. I had even managed a few more snatches of sleep, despite more than one dream of sinking in a sea of mud. My shoulders and wrists ached, and my left arm had gone largely numb from lying on it, but in their own way, they were familiar complaints. The cramps had passed as well, though my arousal had continued to grow throughout the night. Even that, though, seemed manageable after the agony of the night before, a warm and eager tingle.
The front door opened, and Aura stepped out of her house, her bedrobe still loosely tied around her shoulders. She approached without saying a word, stretching her arms above her. I scowled as she neared, but she ignored my sour glare. She just stooped as she neared the hitch, untying the leash without looking at me directly. Her ears were flat against her head and her tail hung low behind her. “Around back with you,” she said once she was finished. “Kitchen door. You’re not getting into my carriage like that.” She then let go of the lead and ducked back inside, not giving me a second look as she closed the door behind her.
It had been a few weeks since I’d tried to walk with ankles and wrists tied like this, and I was used to more slack in both than she’d left me, but it still didn’t take me long to struggle to my hinds and make my way around the side of the manor. The sage stood on her back stoop as I approached, ignoring the rain, holding a mug of bitter-smelling tea. She motioned me to kneel, then traded her cup for an oversized towel. As I sank to my knees, she drew a bucket from the the barrel of rainwater by the door, then poured it over my head. The water was frigid, and I shivered as it soaked my fur through to the skin and washed away most of the muck.
It took two more rinses for her to be satisfied, and then the sage poured soap into the towel and started scrubbing my fur. Despite my lingering anger and sullenness, the scents of rose and lavender and the warmth of the wash was a balm on my mood. She was also quite thorough, leaving nothing untouched. Her paws lingered briefly between my legs, giving my cleft more a great deal more attention than necessary. Her touch was warm and I eagerly pressed back against her fingers, and soon she had me moaning and pushing back against her. It took very little for me to relieve myself with her help, and then she washed that, too, from my fur.
Her mood seemed to lift as she rinsed away the soap, and she was smiling by the time she had gotten a fresh towel and brought me into the kitchen to mop the water from my fur. “So, how was your night, then?” she asked with a grin. “Seems like something you ate didn’t agree with you.”
I closed my eyes and leaned into the vigorous rubdown. “The sauce, ma’am. On the fruit.”
Aura’s paws didn’t stop, but her tail did, and her expression went to careful neutrality. “What makes you say that?” The question was too casual, an echo of her talk of Melka a few nights ago.
I shrugged. “I could smell it in the leavings.” I sighed, not caring if she punished me for speaking out of turn. “You’ve every right to do as you wish with me, ma’am, as long as you don’t damage my owner’s property, but… why? What purpose did it serve?”
The raccoon rapped me sharply on the side of the head with her paw. “You watch your tongue; Dion didn’t say to take it, but he didn’t say to let you keep it, either.”
I ducked my head, wincing. “Yes, ma’am.” Anger flared, but it faded quickly. In its wake, I felt little more than weary disappointment.
Aura held still a moment, then turned away sharply. “Maybe one day, I’ll explain. For now, though, you’re clean, and we’ve a trip to the baron to make. It’s not a market day, but Iladin owes me a lunch and I’ve two of his texts to return. I’ve a few things to pack, so wait here while I fetch what I need, and then we’ll be on our way.”