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The Cast


Lord Onyx - Age: 24 - Come early into his inheritance, the dark, devastatingly handsome and charming young mage lord of the manor has suffered in the past, but is reluctant to speak of it to any but his closest companions. The ancestral manor of the Onyx family is where we lay our scene.

Inspector - Age: 28 - Breathtakingly intelligent, this energetic and attractive man frequently works himself to the bone, much to the dismay of his loyal and diligent doctor friend. He feels that there's something mysterious about the deaths of the notorious Onyx family and has been given permission to wander the grounds and house at will so long as he leaves the master alone. He has taken an interest in the maid's mind, but has so far been frustrated with her inability to rise to his level.

Ashton - Age 19 - Personal valet to the lord, the lovely Ashton is calm, collected, quietly cheerful, and good at everything. He's always there to listen and help in any way that he can, and knows everything about the manor and its inhabitants. No one ever doubts his sincerity or his loyalty, and he's very good at keeping the family's secrets.

Gardner - Age 21 - Extremely tall and spindly with adorable boyish charm, Gardner is the groundskeeper. He's continually coming into the house with gifts for the maid and hanging about to talk with her, which she finds endearing, but both of them are too shy to consider something more... engrossing.

Sir Raoul - Age 23 - A young, rakish, hedge-knight with more passion for games and drink than attempting to gain his own land through service, and frequently hails the maid when she goes down to the village. He's coarser than the other men of her acquaintance, but with a sweet streak beneath it, and if he loves his drink a bit too much, it's no more than her master in a poor mood. He has made her laugh and tells her stories of the outside world she longs to see someday.

Tacy - Age 22 - The Mouse Maiden herself, Tacy is the maid and cook of the much reduced household, making herself available to everyone during the day, should they ever need her for anything, despite her shy nature. But Tacy has a terrible secret. Every night, upon the stroke of twelve, she becomes nothing more than a field mouse until dawn's light creeps into the house. And if she is found out, she will remain a mouse forever. The change can be triggered early, if someone refers to her using mouse-related words or phrases. So far, she has managed to stay safe. But for how much longer?


Scenes


"No, you stupid girl, that is precisely the wrong conclusion! You have the brains! Use them!” Tacy flinched back from the furious intensity of the Inspector’s glare, flushing with shame - and perhaps a hint of something extra - at the snapping heat in his eyes. As much as his sharp scorn cut at her, there was something about the stinging pain that was intriguing. Made her wonder if he bit at his lovers, too. His long, knife-thin finger pointed down at the cravat on the table, recalling her to the task at hand. “Look at it - actually look this time - and observe! Now! Tell me what you see.”

Tacy bit her lip in anxious thought, staring down at the drab bit of discolored cloth in consternation. She’d never seen it before and it didn’t belong here, that much was certain. But that wasn’t enough for him. The silence stretched. Tension crackled like static in the air. Somewhere back in the house, a bell rang, and she jumped.

“Oh! That’s the master calling… I must…” She edged backward toward the library stacks, dipping a nervous little curtsy, but the Inspector was not to be put off.

He stalked around the reading table, all angles and intent determination. “No. You must not. Let him get his own drink for once. What did you see?” She had been backing up before his advance and hit the bookshelf, speechless. He had never been this forceful before. He towered over her, almost growling, “Tell me.”

Her mouth had gone “It… It’s several years out of fashion, too small for my lord, and his friends, and it’s discolored… too old to be in modern taste, and that’s what the color is, not having been spilled on. The lace was not as high quality as to be expected in a noble gentleman’s cravat - probably a cousin or friend, rather than a member of the immediate family. No monograms on the collar band, but a paler spot where they might have been? Perhaps it was passed down? My lord’s friend, from a poorer family, came to visit three months back… He tends to wear second-hand things. Perhaps it might have been his?”

A thin, razor’s smile sharpened his lips and he leaned in, bracing his arms on the shelves to either side of her, penning her in. “You see? You can observe when you want to. Given the right…” His eyes raked over her, and she felt bare to him, blushing and finding her breath coming shorter. “...motivation. You won’t have me, will you. You know you’d enjoy it, but you still say no, in spite of the evidence.”

“Sir?” she whispered, scarcely able to breathe.

His voice was so low that it was almost a growl, and she fancied she could feel the vibration of it in her chest, stirring a heat low in her belly. “I’m better than any other you’ve ever had.”

“Better… better than what?”

He leaned in closer, putting his mouth just beside her ear, his body over hers all ivory and shadow and sharp lines. “Everything.

The word wrapped itself around her throat and ran down her spine, a shiver following after. She tried to catch her breath, bosom heaving, the idea of his hands on her both wonderful and terrible. She had seen the strength in those wiry fingers… if he wanted her bent over that table with her skirts hiked up while he bore down on her and rode her into the wood, he could have her there in a heartbeat. Her petals would be his to plunder at will, and she would have no recourse, for she would not resist. But she hesitated too long, and his next words sent ice plunging into her stomach to extinguish the desire that had been building.

“I'm going to make this very simple for you. ...Give me my due. ...Shall I destroy you, or will you give me what I want? You think your world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. I could tear this place apart with a few words, and you with it. Give yourself to me - body and mind - and I will save you from the wreckage of this wretched family.”

“P-please, Inspector… I…”

“Say it.”

“I--”

A hand descended firmly but politely on the inspector’s arm, pulling him back away from her. The dim light of the library suddenly seemed blindingly bright, and there, between him and her, stood Ashton, straight and tall, though of course not nearly as tall as the Inspector, smiling blandly into his bitter anger.

“I beg your pardon, Inspector, but your friend the Doctor sent a message that you are wanted down in the village. It seems that someone has died, and they wish you expertise on the matter. I daresay you know your way to the door by now, sir? Miss Tacy and I have a matter to discuss. If you’ll pardon us, sir.” And as easily as that, the valet had taken her by the elbow and steered her away from the icy pinnacle that was the Inspector and deeper into the house.

Ducking into a servant’s door halfway along the corridor, Ashton stopped, turning to her in the gloom and looking into her face with concern. “Are you alright, Miss Tacy?”

Her head had stopped whirling and she’d caught her breath on the way, but the memory of what had happened brought warmth to her cheeks and she dropped her eyes to the floor, nodding. “Yes, sir…”

He traced two fingers softly down her cheek, making her shiver, and lifted her chin so she had to look him in the face. Silently, he studied her, and once again it felt as if she had no clothes on, so closely did he look at her. He bent swiftly, and pressed a warm, gentle kiss to her lips, neither pressing for more, nor backing away too soon, but expressing his worry and a promise of further assistance in one motion.

Then he pulled away and gave her a slightly sad smile before releasing her and turning away up the hall. His voice came back to her over his shoulder as he lead her on. “The master was calling for you. It won’t do to keep him waiting much longer.”



-------




Lord Onyx, in his fits of melancholy, had taken to bringing the maid to his chambers and having her read to him while he drank, or paced, or brooded magnificently beside the tall windows. Today he was evidently feeling the chill, because the fire was crackling high in the fireplace and he had her sit on a hassock as they continued the story of Dorian Gray.

He lay still, today, on the rug, setting his head in her lap and letting her stroke his long, flowing, raven locks as she read of the growing cold arrogance in Dorian Gray’s heart and how it affected his actions and friendships. As Dorian enters the opium den to find a way to forget the things he’s done, the lord stirs with a dark huff of laughter.

“He’ll find no rest that way.” Disengaging himself from her hand, he sits up and transfixes her with a look. “You can’t erase them, or forget them, you know. You have to find good deeds to cover the bad. Pleasant experiences…”

The bitter sorrow in his face pierces her heart, as it always does, and she lowers the book, reaching out a hand to offer him the least bit of contact, as alone in his dark world as he is. He doesn’t seem to recognize it there for a moment, but then takes her hand, slipping forward slowly. She wants to heal the unspoken grief that lurks in those hypnotising eyes and hardly notices when he takes the book from her and lays it aside, delicately brushing back a stray lock of hair from her cheek and drawing closer still.

“My little Tacy… Always so eager to help me… Will you help me again?” he murmured, his fingers drawing down her throat from ear to collarbone and setting her trembling.

She couldn’t move, could scarcely breathe. He had always held her heart, though he didn’t seem to realize it. “Of course, milord…. Whatever you need…”

He was so close now. Their faces were practically touching. “Whatever I need…? Do you know what you’re offering, love? What if I should strike you?”

“That’s not your way,” she answered promptly, smiling softly. “Do with me as you will, milord, I would gladly give myself to you. Whatever you need.”

For a moment he was still, and she feared that she had said something wrong, but then he lunged forward and she met him eagerly, her lips opening under his as his hands ran down her sides and seized about her waist, pulling her into his lap. Fierce and desperate, his tongue plundered her soft mouth and she clung to his shirt while his hands roamed over her bodice. The laces loosened, and he shifted under her, twisting to press his hips up between her thighs. Hard and hot in his breeches, he ground up against her and she couldn’t help but gasp into the kiss.

A deep growling groan rose from his chest and he surged up, toppling them both over so that her back hit the plush carpet and she arched up to press her breast against him, hugging his hips with her thighs. They parted briefly as they situated themselves, breath loud and harsh in the quiet room, all the furniture bearing witness to the fulfillment of a thousand dreams where she woke with slick thighs and sticky fingers in the minutes before midnight.

She desperately tugged his shirt free, running eager hands beneath it and up, over his stomach and ribs as he swore softly and pushed at her skirts. Never before had petticoats seemed like such an inconvenience. She shivered and moaned as his hands ran up her bare calf and thigh, brushing over her sex through her underthings and sending a spike of bright pleasure to join the joyous pressure in her chest.

He pressed a searing kiss to her jaw, then worked his way down the long, pale column of her throat, nipping lightly at the skin and setting fireworks in her stomach. She bit at her lower lip, trying to contain the shaky moan that worked its way free as his hands tugged down her dress’ neckline to reveal the swell of her breasts to his hands and mouth. How long had she been yearning for him to do this? To cup and kneed her breasts, pinch and twist her nipples to make her arch and cry out while she tangled her fingers in his hair and urged him on. To feel his tongue and teeth play with those pink, pebbled buds and send sensation through her in electric jolts that threatened to undo her before he had even opened his trousers.

As if he could hear her thoughts, he suddenly drew back, despite her disappointed noise and motion to stop him, and fumbled with his breeches. In a moment it was done, and there, heavy and thick, a dark, rich color she could never have described, hung a magnificent specimen of manhood, twitching slightly and already dewed with that salty sweetness so sought by maidens everywhere.

Dropping down onto his hands, he braced himself over her, searching her face in a sudden moment of seriousness and calm. “You’re certain of this, love… I wouldn’t harm you for anything. You must be sure.”

Shaking her head, she reached up to stroke his face, loins aching and heart full as if to burst. “As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, my lord.”

His breath caught and he leaned down to bury his face in her neck, pressing the soft head of him past the slick veils of flesh that hid his goal. Again he hesitated, and she cupped the nape of his neck, whispering, “Please, my lord…”
With a groan that could have risen from the roots of the mountains, he tilted his hips and pierced her to the very center. Pain blossomed, bright and fleeting and she clutched at him a moment before relaxing, free to marvel at the beautiful feeling of being whole and complete with him buried so deeply within.

And then he began to move, and the world moved with him.
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