In the Baroness Hart’s manor house, Pinewhispers, the lady’s youngest daughter Rebecca took Peep to her room upstairs. One of the household’s maids followed. As with the rest of the house, Rebecca’s room was comfortably appointed with good furniture and simple tapestries. The young woman eagerly ushered Peep in and opened a side door.
“This is my room, of course, Miss Otilla,” Rebecca said, looking quite flushed with excitement. “And this here shall be yours. Come!”
Through the door was another room almost identical to the last.
“This is actually my sister, Natalia’s room. But she was married to Baron Segret’s eldest last year, so it’s free for you! Now, I think you shall want to have a bath. And we need to find you something to wear. How exciting! Otilla of the Holy Flame staying here with me tonight! How blessed we are! Praise Altas!”
“Yeah. Praise Altas, alright. Uhhh… sorry. Bath? I washed up this morning, so I think I’m good.”
Rebecca swooped in to give Peep a sniff. “Did you bathe? Or did you simply rinse off a little in a horse trough somewhere? You want for a nice, proper bath, I think. Don’t worry, Sally and the girls shall bring up a tub and warm water. It shall be lovely for you. I promise!” Rebecca said, nodding emphatically as she gestured to the maid to get on with it.
“Now, about what to wear. I just knew those dresses that Father Percy chose for you were going to be a problem! So, what do you think?”
“About what? I don’t wanna wear a dress. I mean, what’re Bartholomew and the others gonna be wearing? Can’t I just come in my cloak and armor?”
“Please don’t be so silly, Otilla. They are soldiers. Coming to dinner in armor is perfectly natural for them. But, we really must do better for you. So, our house’s colors are green and black. And I think that coming into all this as a wilderness scout for bandits, those colors could not be better for you. Yes?”
“Wait. No. I told ye, I’m not gonna wear a dress. Sorry,” Peep said, just a little more forcefully.
“Well, fine, then,” Rebecca pouted. She glowered off into space for just a moment until a thought occurred to her and she cheered right up. “Well, if you prefer looking like a boy, then I suppose there’s no harm in that! I shall get you sorted. Some of my brother’s old clothes must be packed away around here somewhere. Enjoy your bath, and I shall take care of everything!”
Rebecca gave Peep a warm hug and went out the room’s main door. Left all alone, Peep stood with her mouth hanging open as she tripped balls. After some time (impossible for Peep to quantify), Sally and another young maid brought in a copper bathtub. They filled it up with hot water in multiple trips with steaming buckets. With this completed, they set out a copper scoop, a bar of soap, a soft-bristled scrub brush, and some washcloths on the edge of the tub. Finally, three towels and a plush dressing gown were laid out on the bed. Peep watched these proceedings, completely agog.
However, with the preparations done, the maids did not leave. Rather, they began advancing on Peep expectantly. She backed away from them until cornered against a wall. Peep raised her left hand between her and the lead maid, and dropped her right to the hilt of her shortsword.
“What the fuck, woman?” Peep asked, as the maids froze.
“Ma’am. Would you like our help disrobing and bathing?” the lead maid asked.
“Shall we help you disrobe and bathe, ma’am?” the maid asked again, with her fear now breaking through her composure.
“What does that mean? Ye wanna take a bath with me?” Peep asked.
“No ma’am. If you want, we can help you undress and bathe.”
Peep blinked at the woman for a good long while as her mushroom-addled brain wrestled with this information.
“So, what does that mean? Ye mean, like, touching on me? Washing me, like I’m some kinda fuckin baby, or something? No! Fuck off!”
Both maids immediately complied with Peep’s command and fled the chamber. Seeing that the door they closed behind them had a stout, iron bolt to lock it, Peep slid it home.
“What the fuuuuuuuuuuck,” Peep said.
Alone once more, Peep immediately forgot the incident and rediscovered the hot bath. She moved a chair next to the tub and unsheathed her shortsword, laying it on the seat within easy reach. Then she undressed and got in.
Peep’s first hot bath, enhanced as it was by her significant magic mushroom high, was a momentous and wonderful event for her. She had, of course, used soap and water on herself before, but this was the first time she could do so completely immersed in warm water. She was happily scrubbing at the calluses on her feet when someone tried to open the door.
Peep grabbed her shortsword off the chair next to her. As the door rattled again, she slid down into the tub, bringing the weapon in with her. She rolled onto a side so that she could peek over the lip of the tub at the horrible door across the room. It remained silent, but lurked with a menacing potential.
With all of her focus on the door, Peep was completely ambushed by Rebecca, who came in the still-open side door from her own room.
Peep thrashed about in the bathtub, slipping this way and that, trying to get a purchase in the soapy water to fight from. Rebecca failed to notice this as she swept past to unbolt the main door.
“Why did you lock the door, silly? We are quite secure here with only our own people. I found the perfect outfit for you!”
Rebecca turned back to Peep, who had settled down and was staring at her over the lip of the tub with wide eyes.
“Sally is airing it out quickly and will then press it. I shall wash your back for you now!”
“Huh? No. That’s okay. I got it,” Peep said quietly with as much menace as she could then muster.
“Oh come now! You dismissed the maids and then set a chair right next to the tub for me. I can take a hint!”
Rebecca came over to the tub and sat down. The water Peep was immersed in was milky with soap, so Rebecca could not see the shortsword she was holding.
“Skootch forward, Otilla, and I’ll give you a wash!”
Peep realized (perhaps incorrectly) that she had only two options: to stab Rebecca Hart, or let her wash her back. After a couple of seconds thought, she decided on the latter. Leaving the sword on the bottom of the tub next to her hip, Peep skootched forward and hugged her knees to her chest as Rebecca began washing her back with a cloth. This turned out to be quite a bit nicer than she had expected.
After some time, Rebecca started fiddling with Peep’s hair.
“You know, Otilla, if you insist upon looking like a boy, you shall need a haircut soon. Would you like one?”
“Would you like me to give you a haircut? I am quite good at boys’ hair. I cut my brother Robert’s all the time, before he went to fight the polytheists at the frontier, Altas protect him.”
“Wonderful! And, I am sorry if I am presumptuous, but may I call you Peep? I think it is just the most darling name, and it suits you so much more than Otilla. And I know you said that’s what your friends call you, and I know we are not yet that, but I feel the strongest connection to you. I’m sure you feel it, too! So, may I?”
“May I call you, Peep?”
“Oh. Okay. Sure.”
“Thank you! And you may call me, Becky!”
“Okay, then. Becky.”
“Wonderful, Peep!” Rebecca clapped her hands for joy. The she stood up and called through the open door to her room: “Lydia! To me!”
The maid that had threatened Peep with a washing came in through the side door. “Yes, miss?”
“Please bring me Robert’s razor and my combs and brushes. And make sure the razor is sharp. Then, you and Sally may clear the bath and bring a wash basin and some more hot water.”
With Lydia dispatched, Rebecca moved to the bed and picked up the biggest towel. She fluffed it up and turned back to Peep holding it open for her expectantly. Peep simply sat in the bath and stared back at her.
“Well?” Rebecca asked.
“Bath time is over, silly! Let’s dry you off and get you in a robe. Then, I shall give you a nice haircut.”
Realizing she again had only two options, Peep stood up and took the towel from Rebecca. She wrapped herself up in it and stepped out of the bathtub as Rebecca got a second towel from the bed. Rebecca fussed around Peep with her towel, drying off the spots she was missing.
As this was winding down, Peep realized she was in danger of losing her shortsword to the dreaded maids when they returned to take the bath away. There was no choice. Letting her towel drop from her body, she knelt and slid her hand back into the soapy bathwater to carefully feel around for the sword’s hilt. When she had it, she straightened up and began drying the weapon off with the towel.
Rebecca laughed. “What in Aern are you doing, Peep! You had your sword in the bath with you?”
“Yeah, well, I guess I… I dunno. It’s just, old habits die hard, I guess.”
“Silly goose,” Rebecca said gently. “I quite understand. But do know that I meant what I said. We are quite safe here at Pinewhispers. It is always lovely and safe and I want you to feel that way when you are with me.”
“Well, thanks, then,” Peep said, as she crouched to sheathe her blade. As she straightened up, she realized that she was standing nude in front of Rebecca.
After a moment, Rebecca turned back to the bed and got the dressing gown. She gestured for Peep to come away from the damp things around the bath, and wrapped her up in the gown when she did.
“There!” Rebecca said. “All clean and cozy! Come and sit here!”
Rebecca led Peep over to the room’s vanity, which sported a small mirror between its little shelves and compartments. In moving across the room, Peep dragged the dressing gown’s hem behind her like a train. Rebecca giggle at the sight.
“You look like a tiny little bride, Peep! Don’t worry, though; we’ll soon fix that with a good haircut!”
Rebecca sat Peep down in front of the vanity and took her time drying her hair with the third towel. She fussed with the hair as she did: flipping tufts of it this way and that as she scouted the best course for her coming assault.
Lydia the maid soon brought Rebecca’s implements, which were set out in front of Peep on the vanity. While Sally the maid worked emptying the bathtub one bucket at a time, Lydia hovered behind Rebecca as assistant, with a moist bath towel in hand.
Rebecca brushed and combed out Peep’s hair for a while before setting upon her with the straight razor. Holding both a tortoise-shell comb and the razor in her right hand, Rebecca would comb out a batch of hair to be gripped between the index and middle fingers of her left. Then she would deftly switch her right hand’s grip to the razor to cut through the hair. The trimmings were deposited into the towel that Lydia would open and close.
In no time at all, Peep was transformed into the very picture of an aristocratic lad. Leaving a longer mop of hair up top, Rebecca cut closer to the scalp as she moved down, until she was shaving the skin above Peep’s ears and down the nape of her neck. The scrape of the razor sent delicious, nervous shivers down Peep’s spine.
With the haircut done, Sally set a wash basin on the vanity. Rebecca gently pushed Peep’s face down into it. Sally poured warm water from a jug over the back of Peep’s head, and Rebecca washed her hair again with some lavender-scented soap. Rebecca’s fingernails gently massaging Peep’s scalp were yet another new, sensual sensation. When the soap was all rinsed out, Rebecca dried Peep’s hair one last time, combing it carefully into place as she did.
“There! That shall dry perfectly! I think I have outdone myself this time, wouldn’t you say, Lydia?”
“Indeed, Miss! A very fine job!”
“I do so miss giving Rob his haircuts. What a splendid chance this was today. So… what do you think, Peep?” Rebecca asked.
“Yeah. It’s, uhhh… great! Yeah, it’s great, Becky!” Peep said, giving Rebecca a big disingenuous grin and a thumbs up in the mirror.
Rebecca beamed back at Peep and hugged her tightly from behind. Then she instructed the maids to do the cleaning up and led Peep back into her own room. There, the first maid, Sally, was just finishing brushing down Peep’s outfit for the evening. It was a fine-woven, wool doublet with hose, and a cloak. Everything was black with forest green trim.
Rebecca sat down on her bed with Peep and waited for Sally to finish. When they were alone, Rebecca leaned into Peep with a mischievous glint in her eye:
“You are not drunk. That much is clear to me. What is it that you are on? Were you smoking weed before coming here? It seems heavier than that to me.”
“Yeah, it is. It’s mushrooms. A cretin in Callic gave me a wicked stash.”
“Mushrooms! Oh, I should have known. Yes, please!”
“I want some! We’ve still an hour before dinner, so that should be perfect!” Rebecca exclaimed.
“Ye wanna do shrooms an hour before we hafta go down and have supper with yar mother?”
“Whyever not? You are clearly as high as a hawk!”
“Yeah, but I can handle this shit,” Peep said.
“Peep. I do not know what you think you mean by that. If you mean that you are not upset by your condition, then I suppose you are correct. However, if you mean that you have managed to interact with anyone here without all of us knowing that you are frightfully high on something, then, I am happy to inform you that you are sorely mistaken. It has been very obvious, Peep.”
“Yeah, well, that’s okay.”
“I’m sure it is. For you. Your poor warriors might say differently. They are as jumpy as rabbits next to a kennel. Be that as it may, I most certainly can handle myself. One of the advantages of being a girl of my station is that we are only expected to sit quietly and function as an ornament. If we are clever, it helps to pretend to be engaged with whatever conversation is at hand. Once I figured out how to play the harp while high, there was no holding me back! Sadly, though, with Rob gone to the front, I have no one to get me shrooms anymore. So, if you please, I would like to get high as soon as possible.”
“Okay. But my shrooms are in my saddlebags. I’ll have to go get them.”
“No. You won’t,” Rebecca said. She left the room for a minute to have a maid send someone to fetch Peep’s saddlebags from the stables.
Peep moved to the window and watched the footman go to the stables where he waited for a stableboy to fetch the saddlebags. He brought these into the house, and shortly Sally brought them up to Rebecca.
“That’s quite the production,” Peep said. “Couldn’t the maid just go and get them? They had to involve everybody in a relay?”
“Silly goose! A lady’s maid has no business being anywhere near the stables. Quite improper! And a footman rooting around there is sure to upset the groom, who is responsible for every twig of hay. Now, Peep, get me high, please!”
Peep opened up her shrooms pouch and plucked a good dose for Rebecca. With her own high having already peaked, Peep decided to top herself off as well. They washed the foul-tasting fungi down with some more of the pleasing thistleberry wine.
Wanting to get Peep dressed before the mushrooms landed on her, Rebecca helped her into the outfit she had selected.
“It’s perfect!” Rebecca gushed, pulling the mirror out of her own vanity to show Peep. “I am sure you look even better in this than Rob did when he was twelve. I suppose he would have been twelve. If he were, I would have only been six, then. But I am sure he was always a small, willowy boy.”
“Gee, thanks, Becky,” Peep laughed.
Rebecca joined her in laughter. “Oh! I am sorry! I meant no offence, Peep. If it is any consolation, I do find your small stature just darling!”
“Yeah, don’t worry. I’m just fuckin with ye.”
“Oh, is that what we’re up to here?” Rebecca laughed as they sat back down on the bed.
With Peep properly dressed, she and Rebecca sat together and waited to be summoned to dinner.