Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!
After hearing Clive and Cassandra mention the tiger beastkin lady that started Maribell and Snazzy on this wild goose chase, they realized that she likely knew a lot more than she let on.
Madame Jacoux had told her former companions about a Witch in the lands to the east, but she made no mention of it to Maribell. Furthermore, it seemed suspicious that were sent after the rumored White Witch, something that Clive and Cassandra had made up to begin with. With all the ears aiding in her information network, the pieces simply didn’t add up.
“Heck if I know, but you better be careful if she’s got something up her sleeve. She isn’t a well-known information dealer for nothing.” Clive commented.
He and Cassandra planned to head off somewhere and forget all about Adelton. They had no reason to be here anymore, and lingering around Maribell would just be awkward at this point.
“Why didn’t you turn Maribell in during this time?” Snazzy wondered aloud. After all, they probably would have cornered her faster if the entire kingdom knew her identity. Yet, they had kept it to themselves.
The two of them had stiff expressions on their faces.
“Honestly, we’d be in pretty deep shit if we did. And not only us, anyone that has an association with Maribell too. It doesn’t just stop with the Witch. The kingdom arrests family, friends, whoever could be involved. Hostages to lure her out. Since it’s well known that she was part of Trifecta, we’d be put under an inquisition. And then, they’d seek out the orphanage too.” Clive looked down at the ground, biting his thumb.
“We believed that the only way to keep everyone safe was to take you down. If your powers ran rampant and people figured out your connection to us, then we, too, would be on the run. That’s how far the kingdom goes to understand the nature of Witches. They’ll scour every connection to figure out if there’s some trend. Entire families have been slaughtered before from a mistaken thought that it passed through blood.” Cassandra scoffed at the extremes that would be employed to rid all traces of the Demon Lord.
Hearing their side of the story, Snazzy’s anger cool down from before. Situations were rarely clear cut. And he understood that people had their reasons for doing the things he felt was wrong. If he didn’t acknowledge that, he would be just as blind as his enemies.
“Alright, I forgive the two of you! Let’s shake hands and be on our merry way! I understand that you can’t have anything to do with us, so go protect what’s important to you!” Snazzy extended a wobbly tentacle to Clive and Cassandra, who looked at it strangely.
“You sure are a weird one. But maybe that’s for the best.” Clive was the first to grasp the tentacle and give it a shake. His hand twitched the whole time, likely in anticipation of another possible shock.
Afterward, Cassandra did the same. “You better protect her. We can’t be there for her, but a reincarnated blessed beast is different. And sorry, sorry for all the doubts and misunderstandings. I think we can move on knowing that Maribell is still herself.”
“Mhm! Leave it to the Amazing Snazzy-chan! I even received the seal of approval from the god that sent me here!” While that wasn’t exactly true, Kami-sama at least thought that he had the skills to help this world. That is something, right? Right?
Maribell lightly chuckled. “Such incredible self-confidence.”
“Ah, you read my thoughts again, didn’t you?” Snazzy sheepishly scratched his head.
The entire group awkwardly laughed at that, a happy end before they had to part. Maribell and Snazzy headed back toward Adelton, while the other two continued west, back toward their hometown. No one would bother to search for them in a remote area. They would let the name Trifecta and its members slowly disappear from people’s minds.
“Back again so soon?” Madame Jacoux said with a toothy grin. One look of her expression suggested that she had expected them all along.
Maribelle scrunched up her face as she could hear the musings of a ploy that were given to them on purpose. Madame Jacoux had known exactly what Clive and Cassandra was up to. She knew that they had pretended to be the imaginary White Witch. And somehow, she had even bypassed Maribell’s ability to read thoughts.
“What’s your game, Madame Jacoux?” Maribell said with a bit of venom.
“Just a little test. It’s hard to trust someone with such a mysterious background,” she replied, puffing casually on the pipe.
Especially a true Witch who is seeking out other Witches. That could lead to dire consequences, thought the tigress proprietor.
Maribell froze as those stray thoughts caught her attention. She readied her magic just in case, which Snazzy took notice of. But then, she relaxed as she felt resigned to her fate. The fact that they were still meeting with her meant that things weren’t so simple.
“You knew that I was a Witch?” she finally said with a sigh. What she got was only a hint of surprise before Madame Jacoux regained her composure.
“I wasn’t 100% sure, but I had my suspicions. Even if there is no evidence, rumors of you being accused of one didn’t escape my network of informants. Combining that with old friends of yours that came to me in search of a Witch with the same description, why, I didn’t want to take any chances.” Madame Jacoux drew a long inhale of her pipe, showing no sign of the normal fear that people had for a Witch.
“Eh? If you knew that much, you still let us meet with you?” Snazzy rubbed his head with a tentacle, trying to make sense of her boldness. From what Maribell said, he had expected a lot more opposition, not the cushy reception that they had received last time.
“I have my reasons, and a different perspective than these naïve humans in this kingdom.” Jacoux glanced over to Maribell. “Since you were so kind to reveal that you are a Witch, then I will tell you this for free. The beastkin territories up north also harbors one in secret.”
“Then, I should go there in search of her!” Maribell excitedly replied, finally getting a real bit of info. However, Madame Jacoux had to rain on her parade.
“Better abandon that thought. She’s a bit too important of a person to simply meet. A lowly proprietor such as I cannot even set foot in the same building as she, much less two random foreigners. That is for her own safety, as she is an example of a good-natured Witch that you humans don’t seem to believe in.”
“And you correctly inferred that I was also a good Witch?” Maribell pondered aloud, still a bit doubtful.
“Onee-san isn’t just a good Witch, she’s the best Witch!” Snazzy added with a big thumbs up.
“It’s easy to see why you would doubt, Maribell Schuzen, but I had my measures just in case. You are in la Maison du Jacoux after all.” Madame Jacoux rang a bell that was on her desk. The door instantly flew open, and the two pink-haired twin bunny girls that serviced Snazzy last time were right up against the two travelers before they could respond.
Maribell and Snazzy was met with the sharp points of knives in front of their faces. After a tense moment, they pulled their knives away and stepped back, bowing in apology.
“As you can see, Riona and Luna here are trained assassins. The lovely type that will kill you in your sleep. I had them play around with you two to judge what type of character you were. And I purposefully sent you to chase after the White Witch to see what you would do when facing your former companions once again. These two were watching the entire time.”
It had all been one big test of trust by Madame Jacoux. It was one thing to see a person’s personality through casual interaction in a staged environment. Snazzy and Maribell’s funny reactions to the beastkin service made them approachable.
But a person’s true self was only known when put under great duress. Facing against the once companions who now wanted Maribell dead was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the supposed good Witch that Snazzy made her out to be.
The rabbitkin twins parked themselves on tall trees and watched the whole exchange, hearing Snazzy’s unbridled passion and Maribell’s willingness to make peace. That had convinced Madame Jacoux that they were able to be trusted.
“That aside, is there no way we can meet with this other good Witch?” Maribell questioned again, not willing to let her hopes be dashed so quickly.
“It’s impossible. And before you have any ideas to charge north anyway, hear me out. Why don’t you look into the Witch in the Kingdom of Roswalia? Heard this one has built a whole community. At the very least, approaching her wouldn’t have you running past a whole city full of guards.” Madame Jacoux chuckled at the end, wondering if anyone would really be so foolhardy. But one never knew if such an idiot existed with a world so wide.
“That’s the place your two buds tried to go, wasn’t it?” Snazzy turned to Maribell.
“Yes, it’s quite far. Certainly, someplace that would take weeks to arrive. And not the best place to go to… For Witches…” Maribell fidgeted with her hands. Something about Roswalia seemed to unnerve her.
“That’s certainly the case. Roswalia hates Witches even more than this kingdom, but since you’re already one, there’s no extra danger to the risk you’re taking already.”
Snazzy tilted his body with blank stare of confusion at Madame Jacoux’s statement. “What do you mean by that?”
But the two women in the room just gave him looks that screamed, you’ll find out when you get there. Probably, it was something that they didn’t want to say to worry him.
Madame Jacoux whacked her pipe to empty it, breaking the awkward silence. “Nonetheless, going there is your best option. I’ll even give you a hand if you do me a favor. I wouldn’t mind granting you speedy passage with one of my caravans, under the condition that you help guard it. I have to take advantage of opportunities when I see them.” Madame Jacoux winked. “It’ll take you all the way to the border towns before Roswalia. After that, you’re on your own.”
That seemed like a good offer to Maribell. Walking on foot would take weeks. They could shave off quite a bit of time if they ran into generous travelers with wagons, but that was if they were lucky and willing to deal with them. Not to mention, some of those travelers could be bandits in disguise. There was always a risk, especially when it appeared like she was traveling alone, blessed beasts aside.
“Yes, if you could. That would aid us a lot.” Maribell stuck out her hand to seal the deal. Madame Jacoux rose from her seat behind the desk and gracefully walked over, robes swishing along the ground. With a smile, she grasped Maribell’s hand.
Maribell could sense no deception from her thoughts, but she found it strange that Madame Jacoux was able to hide so much from her. Regardless, Maribell was beginning to trust again, a little at a time.
“The caravan leaves the day after tomorrow. Be sure to come here by the crack of dawn.” Madame Jacoux told them, but then, she pulled Maribell forward to close the distance. With a whisper that only Maribell could hear, she teased her.
“That gives you plenty of time for some private fun with your little friend. He must be quite pleasurable for you to make such noises, at least according to my sources.”
Maribell’s face flushed bright red as she jerked away. “That is not what you think! We were not- I was not having-”
“Eh? You were not doing what? Tentacle snu-snu?” Snazzy grinned before continuing. “Onee-san just apparently likes her backrubs. That’s all. She’s quite loud when I squish her sore muscles with my feelers.” To add emphasis, Snazzy made the same motions in the air.
“Oh, is that all? How boring… or is it? A backrub that can feel that good, huh?” Suddenly, Madame Jacoux snapped her fingers. Immediately, the twins, Riona and Luna, each grabbed the still beet-red Maribell on opposite sides. Dragging her out of the room, the door slammed shut with a bang before a lock clicked in place.
Snazzy stared blankly the whole time that Maribell was ejected from their presence, feeling a sudden chill in the room. He slowly turned his head back toward Madame Jacoux, who gave him a toothy grin.
With one swift motion, Madame Jacoux turned around and parted with her silk robe, letting it fall from her shoulders and onto the ground. A bare back with only undergarments covering her rear end faced him. A spotted tail flicked playfully in the air.
While Madam Jacoux was already past her prime, her smooth skin and voluptuous body cut an alluring figure that could still entice a young male. Sauntering in front of the desk, she laid her front across the top of it and looked back.
“Show me what you’ve got, Tentacle Hands,” she purred as her tail flicked sexily at him to approach.
Snazzy gulped as his tentacles hovered forward, like her body pulled him with a magnetic force. How else was he supposed to respond to that?
Maribell was plopped onto the couch for guests, while Riona and Luna sat on either side of her. This time, she was being attended to while they waited for Snazzy to finish.
“Stop worrying about your pet and relax. Madam won’t hurt him.” Riona smiled, handing Maribell a lightly-spiked drink.
“Take advantage of our service on the house. That’s how it is when the Madam requests for something.” Luna added, bringing some fruit to the Witch’s lips.
Maribell timidly took a bite of the fruit before taking a sip of her drink. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder what was being done behind closed doors. But then, a loud cry erupted from the back room.
“Yes! Yes! Harder! Faster! Get that spot! Use some force Little One and mess me up! UwooohhHHH!!!”
Madame Jacoux’s cries turned to beastly roars that filtered through the shop, causing every worker to freeze in their steps. The bite of dessert that Riona tried to eat fell from her fork. The cherry that Luna pinched between her fingers slipped from her grip and fell to the ground before rolling away.
The loud cries of pleasure only served to make Maribell redder, invoking the memories from before. She wanted to slip out of the shop and run away.
But as she got up, a pair of hands seized her arms in a death grip. Riona and Luna stared at her with eyes brimming with expectation.
“Can we borrow him too?” they both asked at the same time.