The Cleansing [Comm]

The Cleansing

By Horatio Husky

Commissioned by AnnaNapps

Part 1

Gravestones like many lumpy, decaying teeth stuck out of the decrepit earth in front of the isolated church. The iron of the jagged fence that outlined the perimeter of the graveyard adjacent to the cobblestone religious monolith was in the early stages of rust and decay with many broken sections left behind by the hasty retreat of grave robbers.

The desolate environment appeared gloomy even on the brightest of days, which seemed to be the furthest reality possible from the dreary, foggy night that descended upon the creepy resting place of the dead and forgotten that evening.

A sliver of hope, clad in light mossy green, white, and with a splash of golden hued robes strode with divine purpose up the dilapidated path leading up to the graveyard. Clutched in her ratty paws, the iridescent cutlass of a glaive shimmered in what moonlight managed to creep through the cloudy sky. Her armor glistened similarly, made of polished beige obsidian from the rarest of volcanic ores and supported with rich leather and brass highlights.

The rat was covered in white fur, with splotches of brown and pink complimenting her thighs, the base of her tail, as well as the bottoms of her hair. A sage green cloak adorned her shoulders, small tassels made of enchanted golden silk decorated the bottom hem. A mask shaped like a butterfly obscured her face, allowing only for her light pink eyes to gaze through above her narrow, white furred muzzle. Grasped firmly in one of her pink paws, her glave’s bladed edge caught the moonlight cast down overhead.

~ ~ ~

A few hours earlier, she had softly entered the tavern of a nearby village. A few of its drunken occupants had given her a once over, but had wisely decided not to meddle with her. Despite appearing delicate, the young rat’s robes and intimidating weapon were enough to deter even the most daring village perverts from approaching her. She had approached the bar keep, asking only for fresh water and inquired whether there was any work to be done.

“ ‘Ere? In Roustneck? Bah, yer’ll have better luck finding your kind of work by looking at the bo’om of a barrel outside a butcher shop. Naw, you could ask the chieftain, but he’ll probably turn you’z away as well.”

The stout feline, a Pallas’s cat by the look of his stout, scruffy appearance, had been in the midst of cleaning a filthy beer glass with what appeared to be an even filthier rag. Annie had nodded safely, thanking the barkeep for his advice and departed shortly. Up the cobblestone path, she peered from building to building until at last she saw a slightly larger building with a sign with a large star carved into it above the front door.

She strode up to the front door, on which a brass door knocker hung in the shape of a wolf’s head holding a ring between its teeth. Raising her paw to use the knocker, she withdrew her paw quickly with a gasp when the metal wolf snarled at her, its eyes glowing red. In a gravelly voice, it intoned:

“State your business!”


She stated plainly, raising her chin up defiantly to meet the glowing eyes of the wolf. The wolf’s beady red eyes stared at her for a moment, then drifted to peer at the glaive she held in her right hand. It appeared to ponder it for a second, before responding in a low, but significantly less aggressive tone.

“You may enter.”

The door swung open as if of its own accord, and Annabelle stepped over the threshold. The room appeared relatively bare, save for a lit fireplace, two chairs facing a desk, and a larger chair with a gray furred occupant that reclined in a large, well-weathered arm chair.

Annie stopped in her tracks as she noticed something peculiar about the wolf, who stared at her with a baleful expression in his eyes. Clad in lean leather armor, with a narrow archer’s cap on his head, the wolf appeared to have a large, pink colored pacifier lodged firmly in the center of his muzzle.

“Bring the knocker inside!”

Annie looked behind her, hearing the muffled voice of the knocker that remained on the outside of the door. Glancing inquisitively back at the wolf, she opened the door once more and scrutinized the knocker. It’s red eyes looked expectantly at her, waiting. She jumped once more as it spoke suddenly, by some miracle it managed to keep its knocker lodged in its mouth even as it shouted.

“I’m hanging on a hook, just lift me off and bring me inside!”

It commanded sternly, glaring at her even as it snarled, baring its teeth. Half afraid that it might change its mind and snap at her fingers, Annie ginger grasped the knocker and lifted it up off of the door. Holding the surprisingly weighty knocker in her paw, she closed the door and turned around to face the pacified wolf once more. He motioned for her to sit down in one of the vacant chairs, his cheeks appearing to be adorned with a slight blush. Stepping forward, Annabelle complied with his request.

“I bet you’re wondering why it is that I must speak with you using my enchanted door knocker, isn’t that right?”

The knocker barked out at her in her paw, it’s red eyes appearing to have dimmed somewhat into a more relaxed, warm red glow. Annabelle nodded, wide-eyed looking from the knocker to the wolf and back to the knocker. The brass wolf sighed, sounding tired and forlorn as it recounted to her the explanation. Occasionally she glanced up at the gray wolf who, although perhaps unaware of this fact, was suckling gently on the pacifier inside of his muzzle. The knocker cleared its throat, which sounded like a bunch of rusty nails rattling around in a tin can at breakneck speed.

“My name is Raven, and I am the village chieftain. As you can see I have been cursed.”

The wolf waved a paw dramatically towards the gag in his mouth, his eyes half closed in an expression of apparent annoyance.

“Up on the hill, there is an abandoned chapel which used to be the site of the village cult. There, the ghost of a matriarch still haunts the moss covered pews and faded altar. Last month, I tried venturing up there during the full moon to banish the spirits and free our village from their incessant nightmares. I failed in my mission, and did not escape unscathed.”

The wolf’s chest rose and fell steadily, appearing distressed at the news he was expressing. He looked down at his desk thoughtfully for a moment, his paw playing idly with a feather quill. A moment later, he glanced up and continued.

“This knocker you hold was a gift from a passing warlock who I had saved from a pack of savage wolverines, hence why I am able to use it as my intermediate.”

The wolf leaned forward, placing his paws on his desk and staring intently at the rat. His eyes bore into her, searching her and looking over her form with a newfound interest. Annabelle was taken aback at this sudden scrutiny, but realized when it was not lust that filled the wolf’s eyes but desperation, that he was in fact assessing her.

“Free this village, banish the spirits, and I shall reward you handsomely.”

The knocker had grown warm in her palm now, having absorbed her body heat through the conversation or perhaps due to the fact that it had been talking for several minutes now. Silently, Annie nodded, standing up to her two foot paws and tightly gripping her glaive in her paws with a newfound resolution.

“Good. Follow the river towards the north and take the cobblestone path to the east of the bridge. Oh, and take this.”

The wolf reached his paw into his pants pocket, fumbling around for a moment before withdrawing a brass key attached to a frayed knot of rope.

“This will unlock the graveyard gate and keep you grounded. This key used to belong to the cult leader and she will sense its presence. Occasionally she likes to hide from those she might be wary of, the presence of the key will draw her out.”

Annie reached forward, graciously accepting the key and placing it inside the folds of her robes. The wolf stood up, Annie followed suit. Glancing down, he blushed slightly as he moved his jaw as if wanting to see something. He only managed to suckle on the pacifier loud enough for Annie to hear.

Nuk nuk nuk…

Annabelle could not help but smile at the grizzly wolf, the pacifier accenting his canine features and making him appear rather cute. She raised a paw to her mouth, stifling a giggle. The wolf’s blush appeared to deepen.

“Best of luck to you.”

The wolf had cleared his throat, flustered, and hastily strode over to hold the door open for the paladin. Rising to her feet, Annabelle silently exited the chieftain’s wooden home back into the crisp, night air.

Part 2

Annie silently slunk between the graves, her footpaws sinking into the soft, turned over dirt of a fresh grave. Gingerly, she stepped around it, not wanting to annoy any ghosts still new to the afterlife and seeking entertainment. She thought over her meeting with Raven, mulling over his advice.![|347x333]

She had been holding onto the key in her pocket with her free paw throughout the entire journey up to the abandoned chapel, the metal growing warm from the heat that radiating into the brass. Annabelle held it partially out of comfort, and partially to avoid the potential fumble she might have in her haste to bring it out. Knowing that the item carried the magical potential of both summoning and grounding the ghost she would have to deal with, she knew that as long as the item was in play the ghosts would come as close as she possibly could to solidifying in the mortal world.

Which was when Annabelle would strike.

She had enough information to understand which part of the ghost’s ethereal form she would have to strike at. The weakness of an apparition lay in what vices they carried with them during their time spent amongst the living. Those who spoke, lied, and tithed people over with their words must be struck at the head. Those who occupied their days wallowing in self pity and pleasures of the body had to be impaled through their abdomen, preferably as close to where their liver would be as possible.

The unholy priestess that had led the cult and so many to dedicate their lives to her had pulled the on the emotional of kings and peasants alike. She would have to be slashed through where her heat had used to beat.

The rat now stood outside of the chapel, her breath spiraling out of her nostrils as plumes of mist spinning in on itself and disappearing without a trace into the now much frostier air.

She could sense that this was no mere change in the weather. Annabelle was amongst the dead, in a place that got as close as any to the realm that comes after life. The paladin stood on the threshold where spirits did traverse the realms of both their own and those that still breathed the air of the sky and felt their pulse rise at the thought of the shadows they would become. Her grip firm on her glaive, she readied herself.

In the place where lights winked out of existence, she would cast out her holy glow.

Her body became ever so slightly luminescent, her holy aura shimmering and manifesting itself the glow crept into the outer rim of her irises. Her normally pleasant pink eyes became altered as they appeared to adopt a slight shimmer. Iridescent golden eyes gazed out from her mask, evident as the rising sun of the hallowed powers within. She leaned against the heavy oak door that stood between her in the interior of the chapel.

Stepping inside, she pushed it shut behind her and surveyed the rows of decayed pews facing what appeared to be a defaced granite statue. Headless and missing an arm, the effigy appeared to be holding a canine infant in its arms, held up to nurse at its breast. Clad in flowing robes, tail hidden underneath its long cloak, the lack of a head gave the impression of demonic intention. Whoever had defaced the statue must have had quite the bone to pick with whatever goddess it portrayed.

She had no time to waste. Annabelle raised her glaive upwards towards the sky. Through a hole in the roof, the moonlight shone through and caught the holy blade’s metallic glimmer and reflected outwards. Vectors of light streamed outwards and illuminated the ruins around her. She thrust her staff downwards, striking at the cobblestone floor with the hollow thump of wood striking stone.


From the point of impact, a wave of bright, shimmering air spread outwards in all directions. Up the walls it crept and onto the ceiling before disappearing through the many cracks in the wooden beams above.


She struck the stone again, repeating the cast spell as the wind began to howl its plaintive wail through the shattered remains of the stained glass windows lining the walls.


As if arising from the howling wind, the sound of moans began to emanate from below, as if deep within the recesses of the cold floor beneath the rat’s footpaws.


She struck for the fourth time, her gaze surveying the inside of the chapel, hoping to provoke whatever undead spirits who slept within it out into the open.


The moans had now turned into the sound of voices, murmuring and beginning to mumble resentfully at the source of the noise that disturbed their eternal slumber.


Annie could feel the temperature of the inside of the ruins continue to steadily decrease, her breaths now coming in large plumes, like transparent smoke elegantly spiraling out of her nose and mouth to slowly descend down onto the cobblestones as an icey layer of dust.


Relentlessly she pounded the butt of her staff, deliberately infuriating the dead spirits that haunted the premises to a challenge of domain.


A blood curdling scream rang out from the front of the chapel, causing Annabelle to want to drop her staff and cover up her ears from the intensity. Gritting her buck teeth, she stared on stubbornly towards the altar at the front of the chapel. A shimmer haze appeared to be surrounding the stature of the nursing patron. From the jutting stone where its neck used to be, a pair of cervid ears began to poke out.

Rising out of the stone much like a ghastly genie, the feminine form of an elk ghost emerged from the effigy. Garbed in the same flowing robes as the stature she came out of, Annabelle noted that her proportions appeared particularly plump. Wide hips, voluptuous breasts, and an arch to her neck which demonstrated that she held herself with great pride.

The steadily plummeting temperature rose a few centigrades, as the ghoulish din abated at the full appearance of the ghost. Annabelle held her breath, tightly gripping the key in her pocket as she pulled it out, and held it up until it caught the moonlight. She spoke, her eyes glowing with added intensity as she disturbed the frigid air with her voice.

“Apparition! I have come to sever your tie with the mortal realm! Do not resist, or I shall be inclined to end your ethereal days with the edge of my blade!”

The expression on the ghost’s face appeared neutral as she surveyed the paladin before her. She tilted her head to the side, her robes billowing around her as if in an invisible wind. She appeared to take a moment to consider the rat’s statement, raising a semi-transparent finger up to her lips in an expression of mock retrospection. Throwing back her head, her silvery white headfur adorning the top of her head mirroring the floating state of her robes.

You dare come into my domain claiming your righteous poppycock as if I should care what a tiny little infant like you has to say?

Continuing to laugh loudly, her myth echoing around the walls of the chapel causing an effect as if the laughter came from all sides around Annabelle. The lack of cohesive source of the sound unsettled the rat, as she stared back deviantly at the ghost. Not allowing the ghost to distract her, she assessed the situation with what expertise she could muster. The apparition did not appear to look very afraid of her, but she had been forced to reveal herself. The cleansing spell that Annabelle had repeatedly cast must have had some effect on her causing her to reveal herself. The elk’s eyes alighted on the brass object that Annie bravely clutched in her right paw.

The key? Raven tried that trick last as well!

The ghost moved her hooves to her sides, her palms open as her fingers bent themselves inward much like the claws of a particularly peeved mountain lion. Her hair, as if electrified by some invisible diode, stood on end and writhed behind her like so many thread-like snakes. From her throat, another barrage of screaming escaped her. The laughter shifted from unsettled to making Annabelle feel as if her blood had turned to lead.

Still, she did not lose her focus. The slight glow to her form appeared to pulsate as if it were connected to the beat of her own heart. Quickly returning the key back into her pocket, she grasped her glaive with both paws and pointed its shimmering edge towards the ghost.

Just in time as well, from the clawed fingers of the ghost shimmered and began to wiggle. Undulating as if filled with maggots desperate to emerge from the bloated carcass of a long-slain animal, Annabelle’s eyes widened as they appeared to fall off of her hand and drop down towards the ground. The rat could feel her heart gripped with horror, as the spectral carpals shifted and began to grow. From her fingers morphed several ghostly hands, each clutching a weapon one nastier than the other.

Knives, morning stars, flails, swords, clubs, iron knuckles, and even what appeared to be a floor board with a rusty nail sticking out of it shimmered in their diaphanous disposition. Annabelle knew that although they might appear as if they could pass through her without harm, the nature of such weapons held a far deadlier threat than a mere wound to the flesh.

The damage such weapons could deal would wound her spirit, if severe enough they would cripple her soul to the point of no return. She would turn into a ghost herself, permanently marred by the many stabbings and blunt trauma dealt by the ugly array of violent tools.

She readied herself, ready to fight.

All of a sudden, the hands dropped their weapons. Instead of clattering to the floor, they merely passed through the mossy cobblestones and disappeared without a sound. Annabelle frowned, straightening from her battle ready stance and tilting her head to the side with an inquisitive expression on her muzzle. She was unsure of what to say, she could still feel her heart in her chest pumping away as her blood pressure began to slowly abate.

Is this a trick?

She thought to herself, confused by the coy expression that had now become apparent on the ghost’s visage. One moment she was ready to attempt to kill her, and the next she had completely disarmed herself. Had Annabelle not been curious as to why the ghost was behaving so irrationally, she might have taken her chance there and then and attempted to slash at her unprotected chest.

The ghost spoke, her tone of voice now tinged with a hint of sadness as it no longer echoed loudly off of the walls.

Pitiful creature… You remind me so much of her…

Annabelle still did not know how to respond, still under the impression that the ghost was attempting to pull off some sort of sleight of hand, she faltered momentarily. The ghost continued to speak, the tinge of sadness now descending into a full lament.

They took her from me… Robbed me of my own child… The fates decided that her little body shouldn’t even learn how to wash her hands in the river… Or feel the grass tickle the bottoms of her feet… And you look so much like her…

Annabelle believed that she now better understood the meaning behind the small wolf pup nursing at the stone breast of the statue behind the ghost. The cult must have revolved around some sort of matriarchal deity, its leader manically obsessed with the idea of maternity and the sacrifices one must undertake as a mother.

That would explain the disappearance of children in the night at least… And the pacifier in Raven’s muzzle to be sure…

Still, the rat had expected a fight. She now stood awkwardly, unsure of whether she should continue to face her spectral foe head on or offer words of consolement. The decision was made for her, however, as without warning the hands rushed towards her, their palms open and grasping.

The paladin had let her guard down, several of the fingers alight on her arms and legs and wrapped themselves around her limbs. She cried out, whirling around as she swung the glaive around in an arc above her head and in a U-shape in front of her.

Two of the hands were struck, sliced cleanly into two bits and fading into the air as if they had never been there to begin with.

But there were many. The small army of hands descended upon her with a predator’s conviction. Grabbing her, holding her and pulling her in several directions they tugged at her clothes, pulled off her mask, and at last with a sinking feeling in her heart wrenched her glaive from her paws.

And all of a sudden, she was defenseless. Lifted up into the air, the hands carried her aloft suspended in the air. As if crowd surfing above so many invisible villagers, the hands floated her towards the elk until she hovered only a few feet in front of her. The ghost’s initial aggression appeared to have completely vanished, she now gazed down at the rat with a look of affection across her soft features.

Look at you, helpless as the day you were born. You’re far too young to be wearing clothes such as that, sweetheart. Let’s get you into something a little bit more appropriate, shall we?

Raising her two ghostly hooves, she clapped them together in quick succession. The ghost hands obeyed, and began to strip Annabelle of her clothes much to her apparent alarm.

“No! Get off me, how dare you! Oof!”

She was interrupted as her robes were pulling over her head, leaving her only clad in her armor and silken underpants. She blushed, the white fur of her face doing a poor job of concealing her embarrassment as she saw a single ghost hand approach perilously close to her underwear.


She squeaked, now beginning to panic in earnest as she felt the straps holding her armor in place behind her back loosen. With a clatter, the metal and obsidian fell to the floor as the hand in front of her crotch looped a finger underneath the waistband of her undies. The rat watched in dismay as he undies were teased off of her, leaving her fully naked and vulnerable in the frigid night air. She shivered, and would have rubbed her forearms had they not been held spread eagle to the side.

Shivering with an added intensity, Annabelle did her best to attempt to free herself from the hand’s grasp. She struggled, thrashing around and pulling against the surprisingly strong grip of the hands that held her captive.

No no no! This won’t do. We can’t have you falling out of the bassinet and hurting yourself! Beatrice, arise!

The whites of Annie’s golden eyes were very apparent, she glanced to her left where the ghost mother had motioned with her hoof. From between the cobblestones, the head of another ghost emerged. A pure white mouse, who did not appear too different from Annie herself save for the claw mark gashes that run across her abdomen, rose up from the ground, her nose pointed straight upwards.

She hovered for a second, a few inches above the ground, before settling down onto the floor and turning to gaze up at the ghost mother. Her eyes were a pure white, lacking any irises or coloration, although they appeared to be the most substantial part of spectral form.

Once once before do again, the help of your paws you must lend!

Pointing squarely at Annabelle, who now desperately wanted the attention to be directed anywhere other than at her, the ghostly mouse turned to fix her blank stare at the naked rat in front of her. Floating up once more, she twisted and twirled into the air. Arcing above Annie, she performed a singular forwards flip in mid air before plunging down to dive straight into the rat’s chest.

Annabelle gasped as she felt the ghost enter her body, the uncanny feeling of cold numbness that spread out from the center of the ghost’s entry point and throughout the rest of her body deeply unsettled her. The sensation spread until it reached the tips of her fingers and toes, settling over her like a thin layer of snow on a chilly winter’s morning. She could feel her nerves weakening, her mind becoming dull and uncertain as the ghost slowly took over her mortal form.

Annabelle let out a deep breath, feeling as if all of the air inside of her lungs was being ritualistically squeezed out by a python who knew no concept of mercy. She could feel her pulse at the ends of her arms, her delicate wrists feeling the viscera flowing through as the holy aura she had been channeling wrestled with the ghost. Sins of a life dedicated to a cult of unborn blood and sacrifice put up a bitter struggle against the purity that the rat venerated.

Her golden irises, a visible manifestation of the order she practiced within began to ebb, bleeding out towards the edges much as they had originally bled in. She could feel herself losing the struggle, the combination of the many ghostly hands draining the holy shield she was attempting to maintain and preventing her from being able to resist the possession with the full might of her power.

This… Can’t… I… won’t… It… Feels… So…


It was as if a piston had been switched on. The emotional turmoil that besieged

her mind vanished as quickly as the motherly ghost’s rage. She felt relieved, comfortable, even euphoric. Each of her limbs felt light and airy, weightless from the lack of any recollection of responsibility, duty, or desire. She let loose a giggle, the hands that had previously been holding her captive now relaxed, holding her aloft but allowing her left paw to wander up to the front of her muzzle.

Naked as the day she was born, the rat suckled on her thumb, gurgling softly as she looked up at the motherly ghost with round, pink irises. For a moment, her eyes fluttered and she opened her mouth slightly. As another shudder ran through her, she closed her eyes tightly and sneezed once, twice in quick succession. She blinked, appearing drowsy from the exposure to the elements.

Part 3

Oh this simply won’t do! You poor little thing, nothing to keep that little tushie of yours warm!

Reaching up, the elk snapped her fingers twice. From the cobblestone floor, a rectangle phased through the solid ground and rose up steadily higher, revealing itself to be a wooden changing table with a soft, leather surface. Shifting from the same ghostly hue as the mother ghost into solid oak wood, the ghost hands gently deposited the rat onto her back.

Opening her palm, the mother ghost effortlessly summoned another item out of thin air. Placed squarely on her opened hoof and several inches in thickness, a pastel pink diaper pattern with little skulls and gravestones shifted from insubstantial to material. With what appeared to be practiced ease, the motherly elk unfolded the diaper and began to fluff it out, kneading the material and ensuring that the absorbent material inside was properly aired out.

All the softer for your little hiney to sit on.

She commented in a singsong voice, appearing for all the world to see happy as can be to be diapering up the possessed rat in front of her. Annabelle gurgled once more, her left leg kicking softly to the side, her arms laid underneath her exposed breasts demonstrating not even the slightest shred of modesty. Flexing her left hoof, the ghost summoned a bottle of talcum powder and after she waited for it to materialize, uncapped it and sprinkled a generous amount onto the rat’s front. Gathering the rat’s ankles together, she grasped them in one hand and lifted them up using them as leverage to raise Annabelle’s bottom off of the changing table.

With the assistance of the ghost hands, the diaper was flattened and lovingly inserted underneath the rat’s bottom, which was gently lowered back down onto the soft interior of the diaper. Humming a soothing, yet slightly melancholy tune underneath her breath, the ghost mother brought the front of the diaper up and over Annie’s belly, gently tickling her with her fingers for a second. She watched as the rat giggled, a high-pitched, honest sound of child-like laughter escaping the grown paladin’s throat.

Smiling down at the ghost, her transparency appeared to solidify further as she continued to change the rat into her diaper. One tape after the other, she stretched the wings of the diaper over to the landing zone until the rat had been comfortably secured inside of her padding.

There we go, isn’t that better sweetie?

Her mind too far gone to be able to formulate a response, Annabelle lowered her chin and looked up at the elk with big eyes, her thumb finding her way back into her muzzle while she lay with her legs crooked above her.

The ghost watched the pacified rat for a moment, gazing down lovingly as she observed Annabelle’s attention shift from suckling on her fingers to appearing to discover her ability to wiggle her toes. Appearing quite engrossed by the activity, the maternal ghost had to suppress a giggle when the padded rat leaned forward and attempted to suckle on the tip of her foot, just out of reach.

“Silly thing, toes aren’t for eating!”

With a flex of her wrist and a small shimmer of sparkling light, a pacifier with a mint green guard that matched the rat’s previous garments appeared in her ethereal palm. Poking one of her fingers through it, she leaned forward and gently deposited the bulb inside of the rat’s open mouth. Materializing as soon as it came into contact with Annabelle’s tongue, the rat crossed her eyes slighted and looked down in surprise as the foreign object entered her muzzle.

Unsure what to do with it at first, she suckled a few times experimentally on it before she found that the sensation was much to her liking. A smile spreading across her muzzle, just barely visible behind the pacifier guard, the rat looked up with large eyes at the ghostly mother appearing to not have a care in the world.

Despite her apparent blissful state of mind, the rat shivered slightly. Her arms went up to her biceps and she brought her legs slightly closer together, the frigid night air tickling her exposed fur to the point of discomfort.

Mother ghost was on the case.

“Oh you poor little sunflower, let’s get you into something more comfortable.”

Conducting her magical summoning powers once more, the elk laid a hooven hand down on the surface of the changing table and slowly but methodically moved it down across its surface. From beneath her hoof, threads began to pull themselves together and spin themselves round and round one another until they formed a uniform, soft cloth. Downwards her hoof traveled, soft frills and a little bow at the center point of the collar of a legless nightie appeared next to the shivering Annabelle.

Pointing her index finger upwards towards the silver moon and twirling it around in a circle, the rat levitated upwards as the ghost elk used her free hooves to unbutton the back of the nightie behind the neck.

“This should keep you a little cozier, little one.”

She murmured, the soft tones in her voice lulling the rat into a comfortable sense of security as she was gently slid leg first into the nightie, her arms led through the short, puffed sleeves, and the buttons behind her neck once again down and securing her inside of the soft, infantile garment.

The elk levitated the rat down, placing her arms underneath the rat’s armpits as she held her up, becoming all the more material as Annabelle felt a surprisingly amount of warmth from the ghost mother’s hooves.

“Much better, just look at you! As adorable as the day you were born.”

Colors deepened, lines softened, and even the dank smell abated as the visage of the ghost was becoming more and more solid as she continued to dote over the rat. Annabelle giggled, the feeling of her legs contained inside of the legless night like a sleepsack causing her to feel a little silly as she kicked her legs, unable to slide them out of any pants legs as she imaged herself appearing as if she were stuffed inside of a burlap potato sack.

“And what a giggly little baby I have on my hooves! We should put you down to play if you have so much energy.”

As if on some invisible queue, the changing table on which Annabelle had been lovingly diapered dematerialized once more, becoming partially see through as its color faded, the ghostly furniture item descended down into the cobblestone floor the same way as it had appeared. Just as it disappeared, to the left of it another shape began to rise from the cold stone floor. More square in shape than the rectangular changing table, a playpen with soft, white meshing on all four of its sides began to rise up to its full height.

Annabelle, who had now been deposited onto the larger fur’s hip, was suckling contentedly on her pacifier as she clung to the elk. Her eyes wide with curiosity, she watched as the playpen emerged from the ground coming all the way up to the elk’s chest. A full five feet in height, even if the rat had been of her right mind she would have had a bit of difficulty scrambling out of the infantile pen.

Grasping her underneath the armpits once more, Annie was lifted up and deposited onto a soft, fleece blanket that covered the bottom of the pen. Scattered around the blanket were several, colorful toys of varying shapes and sizes. Stackable rings, wooden building blocks with thick, comic sans letters, large stuffed teddy bears, kittens, puppies, and mice, several baby bottles filled with bright, red liquid, and what appeared to be a life-sized teddy bear at the furthest corner caused Annabelle to gasp in excitement.

Even as she was lowered down softly, she was already reaching out with her arms and making grabby paws at a small, gray furred puppy plushie with a deer marking on his nose. As she was set down, she forgot about the fact that she no longer had access to her legs. Sliding against the soft material inside of the nightie, she promptly fell over onto her face letting out a gasp of surprise.


As the elk stifled a giggle behind her hoof, Annabelle remained undeterred as she reached for a plastic ring of several large, blue beads connected to one another. Letting the pacifier drop down from her muzzle onto the blanket, she placed the ring into her mouth buck teeth flashing and began to softly gnaw on the teething ring. Holding it in both of her pink paws, she appeared entirely focused on the task at hand, her previous thoughts and worries now the furthest thing from her mind while attending to her oral fixation.

“Come now dearie, let’s get something into your tummy first before we play. Can’t have you without anything to soak those poofy diapers with now!”

One of the bottles containing the softly glowing, bright red liquid levitated up into the air. Guiding the large cylindrical object with the gentle motions of her hands, Annabelle’s gaze shifted from the ring in front of her to the tantalizing nipple of the bottle in front of her.

The rat’s mouth watered, her clouded mind thought of the pleasant sensation of tart, sweet liquid dancing across her tongue and filling her tummy caused her to drop the ring she had been gnawing and reach up for the bottle. It moved just out of her grasp, evading her sluggish grab at it before dancing between her paws and inserting itself inside of her muzzle.

“Mmm… Grsh… Gurgle…

The taste of elderberry mixed with cranberry and a hint of strawberry danced across her tongue in an almost electrifying sensation of flavor. Her head leaned back against the soft mesh of the playpen, her paws falling limply down into her lap as she obediently nursed from the bottle. Gurgling softly as she took breaths between gulps, the level of liquid inside of the bottle slowly descended as the elk watched her subject eagerly nurse the sweet, succulent liquid.

“There we go, right into your little tum. This should help smooth out your system and make it easier for you to go!”

Too entranced by the sensation of the delectable juice, Annabelle did not fully comprehend the elk’s soft musings as she was too entranced by the bottle before her. Her cognitive abilities feeling almost at max at maintaining her focus on the oral stimulation, she dutifully swallowed gulp after gulp of the nectar until she had almost finished the bottle when the second one was already making its way through the air towards her.

Her tummy already felt full, warm, and slightly bloated from the first container. A thin line of drool mixed with juice dribbled down the corner of her muzzle. She sniffed, swallowing the last mouth full of juice just as the empty bottle’s nipple was removed from her lips. The second was crammed in unceremoniously, she let out a cry of protest but was unable to move away from it as the liquid began to flow once more.

“Mmmpf… Mmm… Mmmm!”

As a sense of panic took over her dulled senses, Annie raised her paws up to attempt to forcibly remove the bottle from her muzzle.

“Ah ah ah! Little ones need their nourishment.”

Wiggling her fingers on her left hoof, two ghost hands emerged from her index and middle finger and floated down towards the rat. Grasping her wrists in their palms, the ghostly appendages pinned her balled up fists against the mesh of the pen while the bottle was tilted upwards.

She drank. Mouthful after mouthful she swallowed even after she felt like her tummy was ready to burst. Annabelle glanced down, noting that her middle now protruded more noticeably than it had before.

At last, the last bottle was finished. As the nipple was removed from her mouth she gasped for air, moaning as she breathed heavily and sliding down to her right down the mesh lining until she lay on her back.

“Good girl!”

The elk praised, floating the empty bottles up from the soft blanket and whisking them away into the ether. Leaning forward, she rested her arms on top of the play pen and rested her chin against her left forearm, lovingly surveying her charge as she caught her breath.

“Oh, you precious thing. Why don’t you rest for an hour and take a little nap, hmm? Mommy can play with you after you have a little rest.”

Annabelle’s eyelids were beginning to feel heavy even as the ghost spoke. Whether it was from the magical drink or the powers of suggestion that the ghost possessed, she did not know. Perhaps it was the ghost that inhabited her, wrapping its ghostly tendrils around her heart, keeping her will to fight sedated and her attitude agreeable and passive.

She yawned, her front incisors protruding from her mouth as she did so. The arms that had been pinned stretched upwards as her legs followed suit, causing the nightie to become taut from the movement as the heavy sensation of sleep washed over her. Annie’s eyes fluttered, the last thing she was able to focus on was the friendly visage of the gray puppy she had grasped for earlier. Its button eyes stared flatly back at her, as she closed her own for a brief respite.

Part 4

Waking up while a ghost has taken possession of your ability to move and think clearly comes as a strange sensation. Annie opened her eyes, which remained out of focus for a few seconds as she slowly came to her senses. Even as she slowly came to, a singular thought bubbled up to the surface of her mind as she returned to a conscious state. She flexed her right wrist, which felt stiff from having been laid on for the duration of her nap.

I can… I can move!

She felt her heart starting to beat in her chest, control and sentience slowly coming back to her as she felt her holy aura spluttering to come back to a stable state of flux.

But now the ghost of the mouse had woken up, Annie gasped as she felt her breath catch in her throat. An internal struggle commenced, the spirit inside of her wrestling for control of her mind and body once again having let its grasp slacken during the conjoined sleeping session. Annie struggled, part of her mind trying to understand why she appeared to be wearing an infant’s nightie as the other desperately clung to the parts of her mind that she had so briefly managed to wrestle back under her control.

It was a losing battle, she had had only a few seconds of freedom during which she had mostly tried to recover from the lethargy of sleep. She could feel herself slipping down under again, feelings of frustration and desperation as she could feel her own spirit retreat back into the silent, observing depths of her unconscious. Within a few seconds, her conscious mind held no recollection of the will to fight or of having struggled at all.

Instead, her attention now became directed at the growing sensation of urgency and pressure growing in her lower abdomen. The pacified rat’s bottom lip quivered, as she let out a whine of desperation as the full impact of her need to vacate her bladder registered in her dulled mind. Without even thinking, she allowed herself to let go and openly flood the front of her diaper.

A soft hissing noise came muffled from inside of the nightie, she could feel the absorbent insides of the padding thirstily soak up her accident as she emptied herself into her padded front. Reflexively, she let out a sigh of relief as she felt the pressure abating, a pleasant warmth spreading throughout the front of her diaper and creeping up the back as well as she emptied herself.

The two bottles she had consumed an hour or so previously had made their way through her, hydrating her to the point of excess as her body happily did away with the water and electrolytes it did not have the space for. The stream of pee slowly abated as she approached the end of her wet accident, her breath coming out in plumes of transparent clouds in the crisp air of the chapel. Shifting around, she felt the snuggly fitted diaper moving against her as its soggy contents settled down into the absorbent material within.

It felt pleasant, the warmth radiating back into her fur and instilling a sense of coziness and safety as she rolled over onto her belly, wiggling forward as she tried her best to crawl towards the pile of stuffed animals in the corner.


Babbling nonsensically, she began to sing a little tune to herself as she reached for the husky stuffie she had been eyeing before and clumsily dragged it over to herself by one of its stuffed legs. Wrapping arms around the plushie, she nuzzled the bottom of her left cheek against the soft, fur on top of the stuffie’s head. The movement had caused a shift inside of her, and yet another pressure began to build even lower in her abdomen.

She groaned, no thoughts or inkling available in her stupefied mind she answered the call of nature as soon as it voiced its request. She grunted, her cheeks reddening slightly with the exerted effort as she felt the pressure build up to a point of climax before releasing. Combined with a mixture of grunts and soft, slightly pained whimpers she felt the mess slide out of her bottom aided by the electrolyte rich bottles she had consumed earlier.

Unbeknownst to the incapacitated paladin, they had been spiked with a laxative solution to ensure that she would make proper use of her newly adorned wardrobe within due time. As the moon continued its path through the sky, marking the second early morning hour, Annabelle helplessly pushed the mushy accident into the seat of her ballooning diapers. Her seat sagged, the weight of the warm mess adding itself to the soggy interior and causing the tapes that snuggly affixed the diaper to her waist to become strained and creased.

In a state of blissful euphoria, Annabelle’s relaxed sphincter took its time slowly yet methodically allowing her bowels to void into her waiting diapers. Her eyes half closed in an expression of unrestrained ecstasy, the rat’s mind interpreted no other sensation than one of sweet, sweet felicity as she unreservedly relieved herself into the diaper the mother elk had so lovingly placed her in.

She was doubled over now, unashamedly packing her pampers as she held onto the husky plushie for support. Annie felt the accident spreading out against her from how snuggly the diaper hugged her waist, spreading itself through the confines of her padding and providing the sensation of now being in desperate need of a change. She bit her bottom lip with her buck teeth, and with a final grunt of effort she expelled the last of the contents of her bowels.


Having become exhausted from the effort, she lay down flat on her tummy and cuddled the plushie for a few minutes as she took some time to gather herself. She lay awash in dulled, flaccid feelings of pleasure and helplessness. Her mind so empty of the normally well-structured concerns, plans, and strategies she entertained as a noble and just paladin and now occupied only with how smushy it felt to be wearing a properly dirtied diaper. She muttered unintelligible babble into the husky plushie’s ear, its head flopping forward as if in a singular, jutting nod of affirmation to the nonsense that spewed from her slackened lips.

Having recovered somewhat from her pushing, she rolled over onto her back and sat up to better hold up the stuffie she cradled in her arms. As she did so, she felt the previously well contained accident spread itself further throughout the nooks and crannies of her padding as she sat directly on top of it, feeling for all the world blissfully unaware of the need to prevent herself from becoming any more dirtier than she already was.

Above her, behind the towering rails of the playpen, the ghost of the mother elk materialized once more in the same position she had been previously as she admired her charge from above. Leaning against the top rails, her eyes were half closed in a gaze of unadulterated affection as she beheld the happily playing rat before her. Annabelle paid her no mind, more occupied with the soft sensation of fur on her paw pads from the plushie than with the apparition observing her.

The mother ghost’s noise twitched, her visage no longer transparent as she became almost fully materialized at this stage. Her eyes furrowed slightly, the close-lipped smile not leaving her face as an expression of mock incredulousness spread across her muzzle.

“Sweetie pie, did we make an oopsie while we napped?”

The question came out with a warm coo, notes of tenderness and softness decorating the words of the elk and seeping into the rat’s large ears with the soft caress of honey dripping down from its wooden ladle. Her mindset too deep in her fabricated infantile fantasy, she merely looked up with large, misunderstanding eyes when the ghost spoke. Inside of her nightie, she kicked her legs excitedly in response to the attention that the ghost was paying her, enjoying the sensation of the friendly visage of the elk appearing to be beholding her with genuine love and affection in her eyes.

Annabelle opened her mouth to babble once more, spewing out a stream of nonsensical syllables that communicated only a sense of excitement and eagerness, ending on a note of defiance that caused the elk to chuckle softly.

“Dyah bwuh bwsshhh… Dyah bwuh! Grsssh nuh! Nuh nyuh!”

Annabelle punctuated the final word with another kick of her legs, a muffled sound of flatulence escaping her rear end as she readjusted her posture. The chuckle now turned into a full blown giggle, as the elk raised a hoof to her muzzle to stifle her mirth.

“You are silly! Look at you, you’re just a little baby girl! Just a little kitten! Now where would you be if you didn’t have Mommy coming around to check that cushy diaper of yours, hmm?”

The elk reached down, her arms extending towards her and appeared momentarily much longer in their reach than they should have been. Grasping the rat underneath her armpits, she gently lifted her up off of her messy bottom and up into the air. Annabelle let out a small coo of surprise, which turned into one of joy as she extended her arms outward as she flew through the air. One arm around her middle, the elk deposited the rat on her hip facing away from her. Pulling down the zipper on the pack of the night, she shifted the rat around until Annabelle was softly clinging to her shoulder.

Reaching down the back of the nightie, Annabelle let out a small chirp of surprise as she felt the back of her well-used padding being examined by the mother ghost’s hoof. Pressing her lips into the top of the rat’s head, she gently kissed the rat and murmured softly underneath her breath to reassure her as she continued to examine the state of the rat’s padding.

“Mhmm… Oh goodness, you really did a number on this one, darling. We better change you before your little tushie starts getting a rash!”

Giggling at the dramatic fluctuation in the ghost’s tone, Annabelle snuck her paw back into her muzzle and occupied herself with gently chewing on her fingers for comfort as the elk worked at slipping her out of the nightie. As it dropped to the ground, disappearing a moment layer into a thin layer of mist as if it had never existed before, the dilapidated state of her diaper was revealed to the open air. Darker in color, significantly so towards the seat of her padding, the elk laid a hoof on the front of the rat’s diaper and squeezed gently.

“Oh yeah, that’s one soggy little holy crusader we’ve got going on here.”

With a wave of her hoof, the changing table she had summoned earlier rose silently from the cobblestones once more. Laying the softly cooing right back down upon its surface, she ran the strap over the front of her chest and placed a possessive hoof on the front of her swollen padding as she occupied herself with looking for a design of fresh diaper from the options on the shelves within the table. As she idly perused, the sound of choking came from the rat as she lay supine on the table.

She coughed a few times, groaning before she started to wretch in earnest as if something had become caught in her throat. Alarmed, the elk glanced up and watched as the rat’s mouth opened and expanded to allow the semi-transparent visage of the mouse ghost’s head to peek out. Pushing its way out as if in a reverse birthing of a most unholy nature, the tip of the mouse’s head wormed its way out of the rat’s mouth until it protruded by the neck out of the rat’s open muzzle.

Having partially exorcized itself from the rat’s body, Annabelle felt some semblance of control return to her mind as she came back to realize what was happening to her. Her eyes bulged, but she was unable to move her body otherwise as the ghost of the mouse still held on tightly to the control she exuded over her state of being.

“Beatrice, what is the meaning of this?”

The mouse stared vacantly at the ghost mother, empty eyes that appeared to convey a meaning that only the elk seemed to understand. She nodded slowly, her expression shifting from her initial state of confusion to one of solemn understanding as she lowered her gaze downwards. She nodded once, to which the mouse ghost responded by sliding further out of the rat’s mouth. Annabelle let out a howl of pain, a sensation as if of ice forming within her very bones and then thawing once more almost sent her into a state of shock. She writhed on the changing table, slowly regaining control of her limbs and gasping for air even as the mouse extracted its ethereal form from her.

The elk mother watched, a serene expression of peace on her face as the final phase of her solidification came to completion.

“Hush, little one.”

She gently stroked the rat’s cheek, which did little to calm the sense of urgency the rat felt in getting the situation under control and into a more defensible position than laid out flat against her adversary. She took brief note of the sensation of dampness around her midsection, the impact of the now sodden state of her pants adding further to her state of alarm as she tried to move herself away from the elk.

“Thank you, little paladin. You have done me a most gracious service.”

Annabelle jerked her shoulder forward, flinging her limp left arm onto the strap that held her down as she flexed her fingers weakly. Still not fully able to control her body, the tail end of the mouse finally exited her mouth as she spat and let out a disgusted groan as the vestiges of ghostly possession left her feeling hollow and violated. Part of her mind seethed, despising the feeling of helplessness while the other was held in stunned captivation at the mother ghost’s apparent gratitude given freely to her.

Panting, momentarily stunned by the ghost’s lack of aggression or any inclination to stop her struggles, Annabelle wrenched off the strap across her chest and panted, catching her breath as she lay momentarily still in a state of utter confusion and disbelief. Her eyes widened, as she watched the ghost’s face begin to slacken and become slowly covered with wrinkles. Annabelle watched in abject horror as the ghost, now living flesh and blood, appeared to shed her youthful appearance as she appeared more like a doting grandmother than a lady of a motherly age.

As she continued to age, her stature becoming stooped and her eyes grew adorned with smile wrinkles, she turned her gaze up to the moon that hung overhead. The silver light streaming through the cracks in the ceiling caught her gaze, and Annabelle felt something inside of her stir as she saw a single tear glistening in the elk’s left eye. Annie watched as the fur of the elk started to shift from its comforting brown to an ashy gray. Her mouth open, she watched as the elk disintegrated into a fine dust that was quickly whisked away by a gust of wind.

Crying out, she reached forward as if to catch the remains of the ghost even as she dissipated into nothingness. Her robe lay on the ground where she stood, the only remnant of her ever having possessed the crumbling walls of the ancient chapel. As Annabelle’s fingers just barely grazed against a clump of ash that blew past her, she felt the support of the changing table underneath her vanish suddenly. Suspended momentarily in open air, she glanced down and just barely managed to catch herself on all fours as she landed on the cold, cobblestone floor.

She looked around, alone for the first time since she had entered into the religious ruins. She stood up, covering her arms as she stood wearing nothing except the still soiled padding around her midsection.

Annabelle felt shaken, unsure still of what she had just witnessed and still scrambling to fill in the void of memories she had of what had happened in the past hour. She looked down at the discarded robes of the ghost, her own nowhere to be seen. Her glaive lay where it had fallen near the entrance, the only part of her equipment that had not seemingly vanished along with the rest of the oversized nursery furniture.

Shakily, she kneeled down and gathered up the ghost mother’s robes in her arms. Something clanged as it fell to the ground, and Annie leaned forward to look over the gathered robes in her arms. On the ground before her, appeared the key that she had taken as a summoning relic for the ghost. Except now, it appeared to no longer be made of brass, but shimmered an iridescent gold. Fascinating, she leaned forward, her padded seat bulging outwards dramatically as she did so, and picked up the object.

It felt warm in her paws, as if it possessed some inner source of warmth. As it touched her skin, the frost that had been nipping at the end of her tail and ears abated. She felt herself becoming filled with warmth as if she had just dipped into a hot spring. A breath escaped her, turning into a sigh as she felt the stresses and adrenaline she had been battling with that entire evening trickle out of her.

It took her a moment to realize that the anxiety was not the only thing trickling out of her, as she felt something warm and wet strike the top of her footpaw. Glancing down in alarm, she realized that she had also freely let go of her bladder once more without realizing it. Pushing her thighs together, she managed to stop the flow as she stepped carefully over the small puddle that had been gathering between her legs.

Mission accomplished… I guess…

Despite the fact that the back of her mind entertained a sense of dissatisfaction at not understanding exactly how she had managed to dispel the ghost, or even whether it was even her doing at all, she had completed her mission and survived intact. Wrapping the garments snuggly around her and still holding tightly onto the golden key, she hobbled over to the front of the chapel and bent down to pick up her glaive. Using the weapon as a walking stick, she eased her way out of the heavy, wooden doors and set about down the path leading out of the graveyard, waddling slightly as she did so.

Part 5

By the time Annabelle had made it back to the village, the sun had poked its head over the horizon and illuminated the beginning of a resplendently gorgeous day. The paladin let go of the key when she felt the temperature rising, relieved to find that the day appeared to not be as frigid as the night had been. Sliding the golden item into a pocket inside of the robes, she had been surprised to find that a small crowd of furs had gathered at the entrance to the village and appeared to be waiting for her expectantly.

“Thar she is! Tha’s the one at the pub last night! Brave on she is! Look a’ ‘er there ain’t even a scratch on ‘er!”

The barkeep’s voice boomed over the excited babble of the crowd of villagers, appearing to be a motley gathering of farmers, weavers, leatherworkers, a blacksmith, the barkeep, and at the very front the chieftain himself. A proud grin was splayed across his broad muzzle, his teeth flashing as he barked out a boisterous laugh and gestured with a boisterous vigor in his arms at the approaching rat.

“A hero in our hour of need! Well done, great paladin! My tongue is free to waggle about once more without the need of crutch or gesture. My gratitude for your bravery is eternal.”

Reaching for a large coin sack on his belt, he untied it and hefted its weighty contents onto one of his paws, moving it up and down to demonstrate its notable weight as he waggled his bushy eyebrows at the approaching rat.

“And a sizable reward awaits you to boot! Free drinks at the tavern tonight for you await as well if you fancy stayin’ awhile! Rodrick ‘ere promised to open up the older barrels in your honor!”

“One of the older barrels, to be precise! But yes, please come, drink, and be merry with us!”

The pallas’ cat gave the chieftain a fish eye at his last comment, but his expression shifted back to one of jubilant glee as he waved at the rat to come over and join them.

Having been still relatively shaken from her experience, the rat had failed to address the now dramatically drooping diaper around her waist which lay well hidden underneath the mother ghost’s robes. Unsure of what to do, she wavered hesitantly before stepping forward the last few strides left between her and the chieftain. Reaching forward, she let go of the robes she clutched around her as she reached forward to graciously accept the proffered bags of golden coin.

Like the curtains of a stage, her robes parted themselves in the front to reveal for all to see the now pungent undergarment that still adorned her waist. Her escaped pee gathering at the very bottom of the diaper, the rhythmic falling of droplets punctuated the silence as she slowly leaked onto the stone road beneath her. Having planned on sneaking into the tavern’s inn to properly take care of herself then, or perhaps snuck out with a bucket of water into a vacant barn, she had failed to incorporate the possibility of not being able to get some privacy before she faced the villagers.

Now, as she held the cloth bag of coins in her left paw, clutching at the glaive in the air, she stood frozen in a state of mortification as a silence fell over the gathered crowd. For a moment they stared at each other, the village at first unsure of what to make of the paladin’s choice of under armor. The chieftain stood frozen as well, his mouth agape in a half formed word as his hand still remained open after having let go of the coin sack.

Keenly aware of the burning sensation of her face, which she presumed now appeared as a visible blush, deftly deposited the sack of coins into the same pocket alongside the key and spoke without looking up to meet their gaze. To her chagrin, she was not able to keep the stutter out of her voice as she inquired with as much dignity as she could muster.

“Th-thank you, chieftain… Now… Now could one of you please direct me to the nearest source of r-running water…? I must… Cleanse myself of the sweat of battle… Please…”

She added the last word lamely, as she looked up with what she hoped did not appear too much like the desperate hope that she felt bubbling up inside of her. A bemused expression came across the wolf’s muzzle as he recovered from surprise. His composure momentarily dropping, he recovered quickly as he turned around with a serious expression on his muzzle and glared pointedly at the few furs that appeared to be snickering openly amongst themselves.

“Set the cauldron fire! Fetch the lye soap! We’ve a rat to clean!”

Glaring at a pair of farm boys, the two weasels bumped into each other with their haste to obey their chieftain’s commands. As the crowd dispersed, the occasional giggle shared amongst the groups of furs as they departed for their morning duties, only the barkeep and the chieftain remained along with Annabelle.

The barkeep was taking full liberty of his sense of humor, silently spasming as his chest convulsed by his barely contained laughter. Wiping a tear from his eye, he nudged an elbow into the side of the chieftain who appeared as unamused as Annabelle did.

“Wha’ ‘appened? Needed to take precaution in case yer pissed yerself? Har! Har! Har!”

Rolling his eyes, the chieftain took advantage of the feline’s short stature and promptly cuffed him over the head causing an abrupt end to the cat’s amusement.

“ ‘Ey! Watchit yer fleabag I’m not one of yer groveling lackeys!”

“Then stop behaving like one, you bumbling oaf!”

Turning, he offered Annabelle an apologetic glance. Having been cursed by the mother ghost himself, the wolf felt some understanding towards the rat’s predicament. Annabelle, who had not noticed the wolf’s openly empathetic face, stood up as straight as she possibly could as she stared pointedly ahead.

An awkward silence passed between the three of them, before Annie’s head snapped abruptly to face the pallas’ cat and, with one swift motion, she lobbed one of the gold coins from her purse towards him. He caught it, looking down at it with wide, uncomprehending eyes.

“Wha’s this all abo-”

“Your strongest mead. Two flagons. Out here. Now.”

Annabelle’s voice was tight, not the usual silky, soft tone she used often to the effect of lulling the spirits she hunted into an easy, malleable state of mind. Her nostrils flared, eyes growing wide with cold fury as her face appeared to dare the barkeep to challenge her further. He did, but not without hesitation in his voice, his tone lowered to one of incredulous placation.

“This ‘rly in tha day? The rooster’s still picking sand out of ‘is eyes!”

“Two flagons. Posthaste.”

Exchanging a wide-eyed glance with the chieftain, who only nodded slightly in indication that he should obey the paladin’s wishes, the cat turned around and lumbered off in the direction of his tavern.

The wolf turned to Annie, who was continuing to stand as straight as she possibly could and pointedly refusing to make eye contact with him. After a moment of hesitation, the wolf ventured out a question tentatively.

“So… Did the ghost… Uhm…”

Having somewhat recovered from the public humiliation, the rat turned her head sideways at him and gave him a withering look. Sarcasm dripping from her voice, she gave a response as if she were attempting to explain the obvious to an ignoramus.

“Yes, chieftain. Yes, she did.”

Deciding that she had become tired of standing out in the open, Annabelle set off after the barkeep. She could wash later, she decided. What she really needed now was the stiffest drink this village located in the mud had to possibly offer.

The End.