Penelope had been working at the local grocers for the last few months. She was nineteen, fairly pretty, with brunette hair that went to her shoulders and had a short fringe that stopped before her blue eyes. The store didn’t require any uniforms, so she was free to wear her assortment of simple, but lovely clothes. Most of the time she wore silk frocks with skirts that were of equally light colours. On hotter days such as this she opted for thin white dresses. These were often accompanied by black stockings with cute designs patterned across them, her kitty leggings being her favourite set.
Her young age meant she was prone to some pretty bad decisions. These were usually spurred on by her friend, Tabitha. Her taller, more voluptuous friend was blonde with a subtle tan, easily being the one that caught the eyes of the men they met. This made relationships more difficult for Penelope, and she couldn’t remember a boyfriend she’d been steady with for more than a week before her partner wound up in Tabitha’s bed.
She tried not to hold this against her glamorous friend, it seemed only natural. Regardless, it was extremely disheartening. As a result, she’d done her best to keep her current idol of affection under wraps. Tabitha thankfully was not her co-worker, so until recently she’d been able to keep the eye-candy to herself; even if she was too shy to act on anything.
At least once a week, towards closing time, a handsome man would come by her workplace. The first appearance of him had her smitten. Sharp features, piercing hazel eyes that complimented his wild raven coloured hair. Even with him dressed casually, she could see how muscled and toned he was beneath the fabric. Not too jacked up, but framed oh-so-nicely.
Without him even uttering a word outside of the common customer ‘thank you’, she had fallen head over heels for him. The last few times, she’d even managed to clock off early from her shift to follow him for some ways, trying to work up the courage to strike up a conversation. The distance would grow further each time, Penelope managing to lose track of herself after following the man half way through a forest. She turned back each time without him noticing.
It had been thanks to Tabitha that she had actually learned his name. As she was showing her pictures that she’d sneakily taken with her phone, Tabitha decided to jump right into the hot spot and quiz him as he browsed the store. Penelope’s own stomach had churned as this occurred, as she had the faint idea that Tabitha enjoyed stealing the men Penelope showed even a hint of interest in. It had been like that since late high school, but she hoped it was all her imagination.
With Penelope surveying from a distance, Tabitha made her flirtation fairly obvious. Her weight shifted to one foot, arm crossed beneath her large bust, brushing her bang behind her ear… Penelope simply swallowed and felt her stomach continue to churn. To her surprise, the meeting lasted mere moments. The man himself seemed to only acknowledge her friend out of obligation before walking away, Tabitha clearly miffed with the treatment.
She was huffing when she returned. “He’s hot, yeah, but damn he’s cold as hell. I don’t think he’d be good for you, sweetie. Besides what is he, like, five years older than you? I dunno.”
Penelope blinked, confused. “He always seemed polite to me.” Her brow furrowed in mild worry. “Did he at least give you his name?”
“Yeah, it was some weirdo name. Honestly if he won’t give me a time of day I don’t think I give a shit if I’m getting his dumb name wrong, sounds made-up. Raoul, no… Ra, Ri, something. Said Rua was fine. Parents must have hated him.” With a roll of her eyes, Tabitha sighed. “Well, whatever. If you wanna go find him later, I’ll come with you. It ain’t like I have any plans I can’t cancel.”
It was decided then that the two girls would use the path Penelope remembered to find out where exactly the man went each week. She rationalized he used the forest as a shortcut to the next town over. Given that the path was always dense, she wondered how it was any easier than just getting a taxi.
For the most part, the trip was uneventful. Tabitha complained about her phone not getting any reception, while Penelope seemed content enough to admire some of the native fauna. However, the further they went, the more things became somewhat strange. Soon there were an abundance of Faerie-Rings, oddly shaped trees, appearing and disappearing orbs of light in the distance... Things began looking as if they were the same route.
Then they discovered the holes.
Tabitha had screeched loudly as she fell, scraping her palms as she caught herself on the ground. “What, the actual fuck?!”
Penelope ran to attend to her friend, and both girls looked on in awe and disgust. The pothole the blonde had stepped in was full of dark, thick sludge. As she pulled her foot free, the goo clung to her leg and skinny jeans.
“Is it oil? Tar?” Penelope was puzzled as Tabitha began swearing, trying to kick the substance from her pants leg.
“It’s fucking disgusting is what it is! Why the hell is that even there?! If it’s oil those tycoons better dig that shit up, that’s so gross I wanna vom. Christ, what’re you getting me into?”
Penelope gave an apologetic smile before ushering her friend forward again. They’d come this far, and she didn’t want to admit that for all intents and purposes, she would consider them lost.
The discovery of new tar holes went on for what felt like hours. Finally, falling into yet another crevice of sludge in the ground Tabitha had had enough. She threw her arms up as high as her voice. “That’s it! I’m done! I don’t care how hot that guy is, there’s no way I’m dealing with more of this shit! I swear to god, if this garbage doesn’t wash out you owe me a whole new fucking wardrobe!”
She’d stormed off the way they came before Penelope could react. She stood a moment, silent and shocked. Her expression soon dropped as her friend disappeared into the brush of the forest. “But this was your idea…”
In a few minutes, the bitterness set in. Not only had her friend walked off on her, she’d essentially confirmed her plans to steal yet another possible partner away from Penelope. It stung, deeply, and surged the girl forward. Fine, fuck her, she could go home and cry like a bitch and probably stab her in the back some more. She’d be just fine on her own, there had to be an end to the forest.
She wandered, aimlessly, for some time as that bitterness dissipated. Regret was beginning to form for not following her friend. Although Tabitha may still very well have been lost, at least the two could have been lost together. The more she walked, the more disorientated she became. The trees began to grow large at the tops, limbs spread far and well grown with leaves, enveloping most of the forest interior in a cool shade. There was visibility, albeit it being exceptionally dimmed. The glowing spheres in the distance became more and more unsettling.
As she carried on, Penelope’s difficulty avoiding the holes of sludge only increased. Her shoes were dyed a deep black entirely, her knee-high stockings tainted a darkened hue just below her knees. The hem of her dress wasn’t faring too well, either.
She was ready to collapse to the ground and cry, having remembered that her phone was useless in this place. Through the forming tears, she noticed a light red glow in the distance. Larger than the small orbs, she found mild hope. The low light was tame… Was it someone’s bonfire?
Vigor renewed, Penelope began moving forward. Past the trees and brush, she slowed down to keep herself quiet. Swallowing the knot in her throat, she stood close to the trunk of the tree for support.
Oh yes, she knew that hair; the rough clothes. She could almost melt as she was finally able to hear more than just a few small words from him, even if they were not directed at her.
‘Ruairidh’ was his actual name. It was an old Gaelic name that admittedly confused people who weren’t accustomed to it. He wasn’t particularly social, so the frustrations from it were few. Those that he cared about knew it, and that number could be counted on one hand. For now, he sat comfortably on the lush grass of the forest, in front of the low burning fire. There appeared to be some sort of large, steel bowl that looked cumbersomely large seated above the flames, light trails of steam floating from it every few moments.
Sitting, occupied, he held something in his arms that he spoke to. Although he spoke loudly with authority, Rua’s tone made it clear he was becoming tired, “Please stop fussing; this is the best I could get for you.” He shifted slightly, juggling whatever he held from one arm to the other. “I can tell you’re hungry, stop being so picky. If you don’t eat you’re only going to feel worse!”
With both hands, he held it above his head and pouted at the creature that squealed and wiggled in defiance.
Penelope froze, taken aback. With the flickering of the light, it was hard to see, but the small creature appeared very similar to a little piglet. Yet… The small quadruped was entirely black, and it seemed to be dripping from its pelt. With squinted eyes, Penelope could be sure that the substance itself was in fact the pelt, if not the body. Whatever dripped away replenished itself, while the ooze drizzled onto Rua’s pants before disappearing into itself. Its squeals would have matched that of a baby boar, although several octaves lower. Something about its pitch she’d describe as simply not right.
Another difference was the piglet seemed to have small little tusks already present, although they shone and reflected the small streams of sunlight that broke through the tree canopy. Although Penelope wasn’t well versed in hogs, she was positive that those shouldn’t be there at that age.
With a sigh of exhaustion, Rua hugged the piglet to his shoulder like a parent would a small babe. Its little front legs rested over his shoulder as it continued grunting and snorting at the air. “I swear Banhb, you’re worse than those human children.”
The small creature whined as if insulted, before halting its complaints suddenly. Its snout twitched, sniffing the air ahead of it aggressively. The darkness on its face parted slightly, pinpricks of light shining from its head as if eyes. Its small, dainty maw parted both down – and sideways – like an origami fortune-teller as a high-pitched chirp began exiting its throat in rapid succession. A larger amount of dark slime dripped from its trembling lips, the beast’s sights set on Penelope.
The bizarre animal and its behaviors froze the young girl on the spot. For Rua, on the other hand, it only seemed to pique his interest. With the sound continuing to echo, he turned to look over his free shoulder. If she hadn’t already been frozen, the gaze of those hazel eyes would have pinned Penelope without a doubt.
“Well isn’t that fine luck? Mortals are still useful after all.”
For that first time, she saw him smile. Even with the corner of his lips turned up to smirk, it still made her heart race. Crushes, puppy crushes or otherwise, seemed to enjoy screwing with one's brain and survival instincts.
Ruairidh raised his hand, clicking his fingers audibly. A fraction of a second passed before a shooting pain pierced through Penelope’s leg, the girl suddenly losing control of her body. Legs weak, the muscles unresponsive, the girl fell to ground with a heavy thump. She felt additional pain through her cheek from the collision, her body unable to defend against the impact with her arms failing to move.
The male placed the small swine down, who speedily ran over to the downed Penelope. Its vocals only raised in volume, like a demonic burglar alarm as it dashed around utterly overjoyed. Having risen from the ground, it took Rua mere moments to stride the short distance over to them.
He knelt down beside Penelope, brushing her fringe from her panicked eyes. His smile was gentlemanly, which served to only be somehow more unnerving. “Mm, I know you. I figured this would happen, given you wouldn’t stop tailing me.” Somehow, Penelope felt like he was lecturing her. If he knew she was following him, why hadn’t he said anything?
With a rough grasp, he held her by the collar of her dress. As Rua dragged her back to where he had been beside the fire, he took little concern about her clothing gathering dirt. Although he was gentle putting her down on her back, her heart only sped up in fear as he drew a concealed knife from his boot.
The shine of the blade matched that of the small boar’s tusks, although it had clearly been harvested from a much larger specimen; if one existed. The hilt and handle looked to be made out of some sort of onyx, carved with intricate patterns that rendered the knife quite beautiful.
The fire underneath the metal flared up as Rua threw more kindling into it, heat rising from the substance it contained. A waft of sweetness entered the air, reminiscent of mangoes. Even in her current situation, Penelope couldn’t help but marvel at the fragrance. Had this been under any other situation, it would have been heavenly for her sweet-tooth.
“I’d been planning to check the traps for prey, but you work much better. Now, this will just take a moment, dear.” With his smile still so endearing, he carefully slipped the edge of the blade under the low-neck collar of Penelope’s dress. Given her bout of paralysis, Penelope was entirely unable to move as he glided the edge down the fabric. With no resistance it cleanly cut the dress wide open, allowing Rua to pull the remnants off with ease.
Penelope's fear was equal to her embarrassment. Her breasts were small at a B-cup, letting her get away most days without a need for a bra. Although it wouldn’t have helped now, she still desperately wished she’d worn one, even just to save grace. It didn’t stop her cheeks from blushing.
Rua ran his fingertips across her breasts and down her abdomen to rest softly on her waist. He sighed wistfully, shaking his head. “If only Banbh weren’t hungry now.” His gaze bore into Penelope’s own, hints of both regret and frustration. “But that’s the sort of sacrifices we make, isn’t it?”
He curled his fingers around the hem of Penelope’s panties, pulling the elastic away from her delicate skin as he made another clean cut through the fabric. Before Penelope could even register her shock, he’d removed them as well as pulled off both her shoes and stockings without any trouble at all.
Those were the last articles of clothing, her last ounce of dignity in her mind. Her blush only intensified as she noticed him looking her up and down, inspecting her body.
Rua simply smiled. “Cute.”
With mixed emotions hitting Penelope, the small boar rammed its head against Rua’s shin. It gave a muffled squeal, fairly demanding, seeming to keep the man’s mind on track. Its small maw managed to hold a large jar of slightly transparent substance. Different colours danced against the glass as Rua took it from little Banbh.
He hummed, forlorn, as he opened the jar. The smell of it nearly overpowered the boiling mango infusion. Almost sickly sweet, it was a mixture of almond oil, sugar, and juice from complimenting fruits. Penelope momentarily found herself wondering how often someone would use something so sweet for anything.
“Now if you want to listen to me, I think you should relax and enjoy this part.” Had Penelope control of her neck, she would have nodded. The continued lack of control she had on her body was leading her to be resigned in her hopeless fate. If there were some enjoyment to be had out of the situation, she’d take it, confusing as the ordeal was. Truth be told, she didn’t exactly know where this was all going.
Rua took a handful of the jars content and got to work quickly. Beginning at Penelope’s shoulders, he began massaging the oil into the young woman’s skin. His nimble fingers pressed firmly against her, expertly working to relax her muscles. Down her arms, then back up to work over her chest, the oil mixture elicited a warm feeling from her as the sweetness worked its way into her pores. She desperately wanted to wiggle against her captives touch, but each command from her mind failed to move her limbs. She could only pout and whimper lightly, a mewling that Rua noticed.
The man chuckled lightly, spending additional time and care to grope her chest, working extra into the areas she seemed particularly sensitive. Contented enough with her expression, he removed one hand to grab the oil jar. Penelope’s body managed a shudder as a dense glob of the oil was poured onto her taut stomach. It seemed the paralyzing agent didn’t stop any natural responses from her body. The oil ran down her sides, only to be spread around her skin and rubbed in like the rest of her body.
Rua whistled lightly as he worked; a tune that Penelope couldn’t place. He seemed to take particular enjoyment running his hands over her soft thighs, giving a light squeeze of appreciation every so often when he felt like it. Penelope was fairly certain it was almost over, legs covered in the sweet coating. Her whole body stiffened as she felt the warm fingers and slick oil between her legs, breath catching in her throat.
Ruairidh laughed lightly, not overly surprised but certainly amused. His palm rested over her pussy, stroking only lightly as he remained amused by each jolt of her body. “I suppose it’s only fair.”
Penelope wanted to bite her bottom lip, but her body couldn’t even manage that tiny voluntary movement. One hand rested on her hip, as if to keep her in place, as she felt the fingers of his free hand rub firmly against her lower region. The oil coating his digits only served to add additional warmth and lubrication, both greatly appreciated by Penelope for the time. The prior stimulation of the caresses lent to the surging pleasure moving through her body.
Her legs were beginning to tremble, and with only a few more strokes against her clit the sensation won out. With a light whimper escaping her lips, she shuddered as her own essence spilled from her and a moment of ecstasy erupted through her being. Rua held pressure against her until the light quivers subsided.
With a soft hum, he raised his fingers to his mouth and licked the saturation from them. While he didn’t speak, he gave a satisfied smile of some odd approval. By now Penelope was too flustered to take note.
With the meal happy enough, Rua flipped the girl into her stomach. Ignoring the squeal of surprise, he began massaging her shoulder blades. Although it was fairly fast work compared to the front, he was mildly preoccupied working the oil into Penelope’s finely shaped ass. After all there are some things men can’t shake, even when cooking.
“Alright, that’s all sorted.”
Penelope’s glow hadn’t worn off as she was picked up, resting in Rua’s arms. Her body still limp, she felt an odd sense of security that she knew very well was misplaced. It might have been the almost disappointed sigh from the predator that messed with her assessments of the situation. With ease, he turned so the two were facing the large, well, pot.
For the first time Penelope was actually able to see the contents. The scent hinted that her guess had been mostly correct. The stew was primarily concocted from mangos, a deeper colour to the yellow and a hint of a less tropical smell led her to conclude it was mixed with plums. She mostly came to this deduction from Rua’s frequent purchases at the grocers. For the most part, she’d just assumed he was either a vegetarian or just really loved fruit. She was so wrong that she found it almost humorous.
She wasn’t given much time to dwell on this as she felt heat envelope her feet. As if oblivious to the heat coming from it, Rua had leaned over to place her into the concoction. Just able to catch his gaze, her eyes pleaded with him to reconsider.
“It’s okay, you’ll get used to it quickly.” His voice was surprisingly comforting. He lifted his arms from under Penelope, letting her sink into the stew. It was just half an inch short of covering her neck, allowing herself to avoid drowning.
He stroked her hair gently, giving her a reassuring smile. As the heat rose, she was beginning to feel the twitch of her muscles. Nothing powerful enough to rise to her legs, or even lash out. Just a little wiggle of her fingers, and the ability to lean against Rua’s hand.
“I’ll do what I can for you, so please don’t be upset darling.”
While she knew there was no significant meaning behind the pet name, it still soothed her frayed nerves. Somehow her concern seemed to dim, only really worried about the significant heat against her rear and legs. It was uncomfortable, painful, but somehow she trusted him enough that she would indeed grow used to it.
Penelope lost track of time. Her ears would occasionally pick up the hiss of extinguished fire or the sound of more wood hitting the remaining charcoal. Each event seemed to happen what she figured were ten minutes or so apart. She eventually stopped counting how often it occured.
Rua was taking painstaking efforts to ensure the temperature refrained from reaching too high and racking the girl with undue pain. Contrary to popular belief, to truly boil alive was an excruciatingly painful death. The slow, cautious stewing ensured that was as minimal as possible.
Banbh quickly grew impatient, running around in circles and throwing tantrums that went ignored by her guardian. The swine was rather upset that he wasn’t speeding up the process, her mind currently too young to register something like empathy for her live prey.
Slowly with time, care, and more kindling, Penelope felt her eyelids grow heavy. With the stews bubbles rolling over her body, the prickles of her pain were beginning to lessen and subside. Perhaps, yes, she was finally getting used to it and would be able to take maybe a little nap.
It was beyond her knowledge that the pain was leaving due to the damage her nerves were sustaining. In the back of her mind, she just began to imagine the warm sensation as the embrace of the cute guy she only saw once a week at work. This whole thing was just one, very odd dream.
Within fifteen minutes, Ruairidh extinguished the fire. It was obvious to him that the girl had slipped into the eternal rest of her final sleep. Yes, it was regretful even if it were his job. However, he did find comfort with her quiet passing. Some of the methods he and his charge used could be horrifically painful. It gave him some ease that she was able to be prepared with the least painful technique that sprung to mind, she had been quite a sweet lass.
With little concern for the heat, Rua dipped his arms into the stew and gently lifted the cooked body from the pot. The meat was infused with the smell and taste of the sauce, which in itself was a rare bit of cuisine.
He set it down, cautiously onto one of the denser patches of grass. No sooner had the plump skin touched the blades the swine set upon it, no real regard for what or who it had been before. It was one of the few things that after all this time still bothered Ruairidh. With a sigh, he sat beside the extinguished fire.
That was another day and another meal out of the way. With Banbh’s age her appetite would grow but her fussiness would lessen. The true omnivorous diet would show and he’d be able to coax her again onto more fruits and root vegetables. It was a tried and true cycle that he had grown accustomed to over the many, many years. It was probably the easiest part to get used to.
Ruairidh raised a brow as he heard another muffled squeal, glancing down to the goo covered piglet beside him. Banbh, apparently thankful enough, had brought over what she thought was a nice cut of dinner. With a smile, he took the arm from her mouth and gave her a rough pat on her little head. She ran back to her feast as Rua raised it to his lips.
His sharp teeth easily tore through the delicately cooked skin, meat beneath it falling away from the bone. It was a sweet, meaty flavour that somehow worked together against the odds. Both a rewarding and disheartening experience, even if one he had many times prior.
“It’s a shame the cute ones always taste so lovely. That hasn’t changed in the last four hundred years, it seems.” Tearing another mouthful from the limb, he resigned himself to quiet thought for the rest of the evening.