Jump to content
Sneeze Fetish Forum

Led By The Nose (F, 3.5/?, Updated 4/25/2018)


Recommended Posts

Looks like it's about that time again. This story actually rose from a very simple prompt, namely just "the character doing the sneezing has a septum ring," but writing something without a bizarre fantasy twist just wouldn't do. This ended up being pretty episodic, and to my surprise I think that actually helped me keep going with it. I have a couple more chapters after this already written with plans for at least one more, so I'm hoping I'll be able to continue this for a while. Famous last words, I suppose.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 1


Claire sneezed sharply as she stepped through the woods just outside of town. She hoped she wasn’t coming down with the rose fever again, but the lingering tickle in her nose made her worry. Perhaps this wasn’t the right decision after all. Claire took a moment to pause and catch her breath, and after thinking over her options once again, she came to the same conclusion as before. What other choice did she have?

Ever since she was a child, Claire had shown a surprising aptitude for magic. Once she discovered her talent, she dreamed of becoming a powerful sorceress. Fame and fortune never crossed the shy girl’s mind: Claire longed for the ability to help those in need. Her skills only increased as she grew older, and to her delight, she even received a scholarship to a prestigious magical university in the capital.

Unfortunately, even after graduating among the top five students of her class, Claire found herself with no new opportunities. Being the daughter of a peasant family, no magical institutions were interested in her. Her parents still welcomed her home with open arms, but Claire refused to believe that she had to give up on her dream. If the court mages wouldn’t accept her, perhaps someone else would.

A witch had dwelled somewhere in the forest near Claire’s hometown for as long as she could remember. One day, Claire decided to abandon her life as a scholarly farm girl and apprentice herself to the witch. That day had only been yesterday, but she had to start somewhere. For now, Claire’s biggest concern was that no one in town actually knew exactly where the witch lived. That, and whenever Claire caught the rose fever, being out in the woods always seemed to exacerbate it.

“Hihh… He’KSHhuu!

Sneezing again, Claire stumbled forward on the forest’s uneven ground. She came to a stop to regain her balance, and once she was steady, she rubbed her fingers in a circular motion under her tickly nostrils. The rubbing did little to help, and Claire soon felt another sneeze coming on. She frantically reached into her pockets, drew out a dirty, crumpled handkerchief, and clamped it over her freckled nose.


Claire doubled over with a big sneeze. Fortunately, the powerful sneeze seemed to have been enough to satisfy her rose fever, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, Claire’s handkerchief was now dirty, crumpled, and wet. She frowned, holding the damp cloth out at arm’s length, but eventually she closed her eyes and sighed in defeat. Fearing that she may still need it again, Claire had no choice but to wad up the handkerchief and stuff it back into her pocket.

The young woman rubbed under her nose again, but once she finished and looked up, she realized she may have finally found what she was looking for. Claire could just make out a small, stone house through the trees. It looked unassuming, but she knew better than to assume even a powerful witch would choose an extravagant dwelling. Quickening her pace, Claire couldn’t help but smile as she approached the structure. Once she arrived, Claire rubbed her nose, straightened out her shirt, and then eagerly knocked on the door.

“Hello?” she called out in a soft voice. Claire rocked back and forth on her feet as she waited. When no response came after a few seconds, she glanced from side to side and then knocked again.

“Hello?” Claire repeated, a bit louder this time. She still didn’t receive a verbal response, but after she drew her hand back from the door, it slowly creaked open. Perhaps this wasn’t the witch’s house after all, and it was simply abandoned. Rather than give in to dismay, however, Claire decided to at least have a look inside. Placing a hand on the old but surprisingly solid wood, she gently pushed the door until it was fully open.

The room just inside the door looked more like some kind of shop than a house. A wooden counter stood in the center of the floor, and a pair of small chairs were tucked into the corner on Claire’s right. The young woman slowly rubbed her nose as she cautiously stepped through the door, but even after calling out a third time, she still heard no response.

Once she was inside, Claire began to notice just how strange the small space was. The room was surprisingly clean for a building that had supposedly been abandoned, and it was sufficiently illuminated as well. There were no candles: instead, a few glowing spheres were positioned closer to the ceiling, bathing the room in a pleasant light. Claire couldn’t see any ropes, strings or anything else holding the globes in place, renewing her confidence that she had found the witch’s dwelling. Smiling to herself, she stepped farther inside.

Even stranger than the floating lights were a trio of doors, one on each side of the room excluding the entrance that Claire had just stepped through. The small stone structure didn’t appear to have space for anything else from the outside, but at least one of them had to be real, as it was cracked open ever so slightly. Claire found herself overwhelmed by curiosity, so much so that she forgot to announce herself again as she approached the door.

Based on the outside of the building, this door should have simply led outdoors again, but it clearly opened up into another room. Swallowing nervously, Claire pushed the door open and stepped through. The young woman’s jaw dropped as she gazed out over what appeared to be a storeroom, but it was much more than a simple herbalist’s pantry. The walls were lined with racks of spices, stones, and things Claire couldn’t even begin to describe. Below the shelves, two rows of tables ran the length of the room. A few held up exotic potted plants, and again Claire was completely at a loss as to what most of the other items were.

Letting out a soft giggle, Claire approached a large, colorful flower. As she admired it, she noticed a stream of glittering pollen rising from the blossom. Closing her eyes, Claire wafted some of the pollen toward her face and inhaled. A sweet scent caressed her nasal passages, causing her to giggle again. Claire gently rubbed her nostrils, and then she reached into one of her pockets and drew out a pair of reading glasses. After pushing her glasses up the freckled bridge of her nose, Claire knelt down and began to inspect the label at the bottom of the flower pot. Before she could take in a single word, however, her rose fever began to flare up once again.

Claire’s blue eyes fluttered behind the lenses of her glasses, and she gently waved a hand up and down in front of her face. Her teardrop-shaped nostrils widened considerably, prompting Claire to jam her fingers underneath them and push up firmly. Not wanting to sneeze on the flower, the young woman used up the last of her willpower to force herself to turn away.


Claire twisted herself to the left just before she sneezed. While the flower was safe, she felt something strange on her face just as she regained her senses. When Claire opened her eyes, she could see nothing but a pale green. The young woman gasped and tore off her glasses, and to her relief she discovered that she retained her eyesight. Instead, the lenses of her glasses were covered in a thin green film, and as she looked up, Claire’s eyes widened when she discovered the source.

A large pile of green powder sat on the table that had previously been to Claire’s left. In her haste to admire the captivating flower, she had overlooked it completely. Now it was apparent that she had released the force of her sneeze into the powder, sending a sizeable portion of it into the air. Claire blinked rapidly as she noticed a thin green haze wherever she looked, and then she began to feel a strange prickling sensation on her skin.

After haphazardly slipping her reading glasses back into her pocket, Claire brought her hands up to her face. She was sure she was covered in the powder, and it was likely the cause of the irritation on her skin, but before she could begin to wipe any of it away, she found herself frozen in place by another oncoming sneeze. The light prickling sensation intensified, quickly growing into an intense crackle. Claire didn’t just feel it on her face, but also on her chest through her shirt, and even worse, inside of her nose. Powerless to stop herself, Claire threw back her head with a shrill gasp, and then…


Claire unleashed a powerful sneeze directly into the pile of green powder, and the previously inert substance immediately burst. The resulting explosion hurled the young woman across the room, toward the door she had entered from. As she crashed to the floor, Claire was too disoriented to notice the sound of smashing and clattering as the contents of nearly every shelf in the storeroom crashed to the floor. She barely managed to open her eyes, and the last thing she saw before passing out was an imposing figure standing over her.


When Claire awoke, all she knew was that she felt sore all over. Then she realized she was laying in bed, but it wasn’t her bed. Her eyes shot open, but before she could sit up, Claire noticed something even stranger still. Her face felt different. Not drastically different, and she couldn’t quite put a finger on what had changed, but she knew something had changed. As Claire slowly pushed herself up, the quiet clinking of a chain sent a chill up her spine.

Opening her eyes, Claire saw what appeared to be an ordinary iron chain running over the edge of the bed, and one end of it was fastened to a loop on the wall. Carefully placing her hands on the chain, Claire followed it toward herself. There were no shackles on her arms or legs, and after following the trail of metal up her body, Claire’s eyes widened in horror.

A heavy iron ring hung from Claire’s septum, and as her fingers brushed against the underside of her nose, she knew it was connected to the same chain that was tethered to the wall. Claire knew not by what means, but she was a prisoner. Her breathing accelerated as her fingertips explored the ring that pierced her nose. Despite her terror, she at least wasn’t in any pain. The piercing wasn’t sore, and although their weight was substantial, the ring and chain weren’t quite heavy enough to hurt either. Closing her eyes, Claire hooked a finger through the ring and squeamishly pulled it away from her face. Her nostrils stretched away from her upper lip, but after a few seconds, she couldn’t bring herself to pull any harder.

“Stop that,” came an unfamiliar voice. Claire gasped, clumsily grabbing the chain that hung from her nose. Looking up, she saw another woman sitting in a wooden chair a few feet away from the bed. Claire didn’t recognize her, but black robes and a tall, pointy hat made her identity apparent. The witch folded her arms, crossed her legs, and leaned against the back of her chair.

“No matter what you do, it’s not coming out.”

Claire felt a lump in her throat. Struggling against the urge to give in and cry, she swallowed hard and let go of the chain.

“But… Why?” she pleaded, her voice weak and hoarse. The witch’s tranquil anger vanished, taking any pretense of sophistication with it. She flung herself forward in her chair, holding her hands out toward her captive.

“Why? Why? Did you forget!?” she spat, her voice cracking at several syllables. Claire blinked, finally getting a better look at the witch. She appeared to be in her mid forties, but her infuriated face made her look like an angry schoolgirl.

“No, I…”

Before Claire could explain herself, the witch gave her a light chop on the head with the side of her hand. She stood and waved a hand at the wall, and Claire watched in amazement as the end of the chain effortlessly removed itself from the loop and floated into the witch’s hand. Without a word, the witch turned and headed for the door. Claire sat motionless on the bed, only reacting when the chain ran out of slack and sharply tugged on her nose.

“Ah!” she cried, nearly falling off the side of the bed. The witch stopped, angrily stomped a foot, and then turned around. She scowled as she saw Claire tenderly holding her nose ring with her fingertips, and then she gave the chain a snap, yanking the young woman’s nose up and down.

“Would you just... Get up! Follow me!”

Feeling more timid than afraid, Claire followed the witch out of the bedroom, down a creaky staircase, and back into the storefront. She continued to gently hold her nose as she walked, relying on the intermittent tugs of the chain to know which way to go. When she finally came to a stop, Claire cautiously looked up at the witch.

“This is my storeroom,” said the witch, gesturing to the door behind her. “This is my storeroom after you happened to it.”

The witch snapped her fingers and the door swung open. Claire began to sweat nervously as she looked out over a wasteland of shattered glass, splintered wood, and piles of substances she couldn’t even begin to describe. She opened her mouth to protest, but her memories of what happened began to return. Claire simply blushed and stared down at the chain as it hung between her head and her feet.

“Sorry,” she whimpered, more concerned that she had destroyed her chances of becoming the witch’s apprentice and less that she was a prisoner. The witch gawked.

“Sorry? Sorry? Do you have any idea how expensive any of that stuff was, let alone all of it?”

Claire shook her head, causing the chain to swing back and forth. The witch slapped a palm to her forehead and slowly dragged it down over her face.

“Sheesh, would you stop looking so mopey all the time?” she demanded, giving Claire a start. The young woman stood up straight, forcing herself to look her captor in the eye. The witch pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed heavily.

“I’m not gonna kill you or torture you or turn you into a frog. But these are some pretty serious damages you’ve caused me. You don’t exactly look like you come from money, but even if you did, a lot of my materials can’t be bought with gold. Still, you have your arms and legs, so you’re going to work for me until you’ve paid off your debt.”

Claire’s face lit up. She took a step toward the witch, eagerly holding her fists in front of her chest.

“Really? You mean it?”

The witch stepped back, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

“What, exactly, did you come here for in the first place again?”

“I want to be your apprentice! I graduated from Silverleaf University and-”

The witch loudly blew a raspberry, interrupting Claire’s story. The young woman frowned at the disrespect for her alma mater, and before she could continue, she felt another sneeze coming on. She wasn’t sure what would happen with the chain hanging from her nose, but she already knew it was too late to stop. Claire held up a finger to warn the witch of what was coming, and then she doubled over with a sharp “Ktt’CHuu!”

Keeping her eyes gently closed, Claire reached a hand up to her nose. To her dismay, she discovered she couldn’t fit her fingers against her nostrils with her new nose ring. Claire dejectedly extended one finger, slipped it between the ring and her philtrum, and gently rubbed back and forth under her nose, causing the chain to jingle lightly. Before she could find any relief, the witch sharply pulled on the chain, yanking Claire’s head downward.


“So that’s what happened!” the witch exclaimed, pointing a finger at Claire. “You’re not just a clumpy, clumsy clod! You’re a sneezer!

The witch jabbed a finger into the freckled bridge of Claire’s nose, causing her to recoil. The young woman took an exasperated breath and gently massaged the sides of her nose with her fingertips.

“Um, doesn’t everybody sneeze?” asked Claire, sliding a finger across her nostrils once more.

“Not everyone blows their boogers right into my thunder dust!” the witch shrieked, her flailing arms causing the chain to pull Claire’s nose from side to side. Claire began to blush again, and she sheepishly pushed the tips of her index fingers together as she avoided eye contact with the witch.

“I-I can’t help it. I always catch the rose fever in the spring and fa- Ow!”

The witch chopped the side of her hand against Claire’s forehead, silencing her.

“Rose fever? Rose fever!? Hah, I should have known you went to Silverleaf!”

Grabbing the chain just below Claire’s nose, the witch forcefully yanked it left and right to shake her captive’s head.

“You don’t have bloody rose fever! There’s no such thing as ‘rose fever’! You have allergies! Good gracious, so-called institutions of higher learning still telling our youth about ‘rose fever’ like it’s the dark ages! Tell me, do the professors at Silverleaf still think the moon is made of cheese!?”

Claire simply sneezed in response.


“...Gesundheit. Depending on what you’re allergic to, I might have something for that.”


The witch walked behind the counter in the middle of the shop, but she suddenly threw her hands up and screamed.

“Agh! What am I doing!? You’re not my patient, you’re my servant! Get over here!”

Claire quickly jogged to the witch’s side before she could be pulled by the nose.

“Now, since you destroyed my storeroom, you… Er… What’s your name?”


“You, Claire, are going to work for me, Adeline Hallewell, until I consider your debt paid. And no, this isn’t just some trick to make you work for me forever. I’m a witch, not your evil stepmother. And you’re not my apprentice! So don’t even think about learning anything!”

Claire nodded emphatically. Once Adeline was satisfied, she began to grumble to herself as she stomped through the door behind the counter and back up the stairs. Once the witch was out of sight, Claire couldn’t help but smile, at least until the chain went taut and began to pull on her nose again.

“And stop smiling! If you have any fun, I’ll never forgive myself!”


That's all for now! I hope you all enjoyed, and I'll be back soon enough with the next chapter.

Link to comment

Yo can I rewrite this story with the SAME format and way, but with a few changes and the char names are diff?

Link to comment

Your characters are relatable and no matter what position the main or side characters find themselves in with this story, the way you write makes me understand the characters. Adeline the witch has a rough but cool attitude. The dialogue you gave her is enjoyable and Claire as the main character is really sweet! Not just her personality, but the way she explores and handles new situations is also sweet.

Thank you for taking the time to share what you wrote! I enjoyed this new story a lot! midterms and this past month in general were tough to get through. This story made me smile and I am glad I am able to read this story.

take your time with what you want to do in the future.

Link to comment

@starpollen @poiub @Breezyleebrat @Kittens&Roses I'm glad you're liking it so far! While the first chapter was still a lot of fun to write, I feel like the story comes into its own a lot more in this part. Hopefully you'll continue to enjoy it.

@bben9 If you want to write your own story based on the same concept, I don't think I'm really in a position to stop you. That said, if what you mean is literally just copying the same exact story and changing a handful of details, I'd rather you didn't.

@Snzlover I haven't done that just yet, but that idea has been on my mind for a while now. Maybe I'll come up with a good way to work it in in the future.

@mysterysneeze I think the characters are my favorite part of this too. The story's really only there to create a world for them to interact in, and I'm definitely most interested in putting the characters through their paces.

I figured I'd go ahead and post the next chapter a day early, assuming I was ever going by a weekly schedule in the first place. As I said above, I think the story really settles in a lot more in this chapter than the first. In hindsight I kind of wish I'd done the first chapter differently to make it more unique, but if nothing else I'm glad it was able to get me to where I'm at now. Without further ado, enjoy!


Chapter 2

Claire scrunched up her face and shivered as she awoke the next morning. The iron ring dangling from her nostrils seemed to have made her nose feel dreadfully cold during the night. Sniffling quietly, the young woman gently kneaded the sides of her nostrils with her fingertips and tried to roll over, but she merely succeeded in draping the cold, heavy chain across her face. The chain had enough slack for Claire to reach nearly anywhere in her bedroom, let alone any spot on the bed, but her awkward pose caused it to snag and tug sharply on her septum.

“Ah!” she gasped, quickly tossing back onto her other side. She was simply startled at first, but the shock to her nose quickly began to tickle far more than she expected it to. Claire curled up on the bed and tried to muffle her oncoming sneeze into her blankets, but she only managed to tangle herself up in the sheets.


As if on cue, a loud, forceful knock came at the door. Claire gave another start at the sound, but she was still too groggy to get up.

“Wakey, wakey, Sneezer!” the witch Adeline commanded, pounding on the bedroom door again. Claire moaned pitifully and tried to force herself to sit up, but she heard Adeline marching up to her before she could even open her eyes again.

“Oh, what is this?” grumbled the witch, staring down at her so-called servant. She placed her hands on her hips and tapped a foot as she watched Claire slowly push herself up on the bed. The captive woman sniffed harshly, and then she slid a finger in behind her nose ring to gently rub under her nostrils.

“You should have been up at least an hour ago, ready to serve me breakfast!” complained Adeline, pointing a finger at her captive. Claire sniffed again.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, sheepishly looking up at the witch. Claire quickly averted her gaze again, and then she sniffed once more while scrunching her large, soft nose to one side.

“And stop sniffling! It’s uncouth,” Adeline continued, wrinkling her own nose in disgust. Claire firmly rubbed a finger under her nostrils to stop herself from sniffing again, and then she managed a weak nod.

“Sorry,” she repeated, unable to make eye contact again. “I’m always a bit congested in the mornings. It’s the rose fever…”

The witch groaned audibly, prompting Claire to nervously look up at her. She remembered Adeline saying there was no such thing as the rose fever the day before, but she still didn’t fully understand what that meant. It certainly felt real to her.

Before Claire could utter another word, Adeline reached into her robes and drew out a plain handkerchief. She tossed it into her servant’s lap, ignoring Claire’s thanks as she picked it up. The witch had hoped that such charity would speed things along, but Claire continued to dawdle. First she placed the handkerchief over her nose, but she hesitated when she realized her nose ring and chain were preventing her from properly covering her nostrils. Then she tried holding the handkerchief between the ring and her upper lip, but this left the tips of her nostrils exposed.

A vein popped in Adeline’s forehead. Just as Claire was about to return the handkerchief to the first position again, the witch suddenly snapped her fingers and jabbed a finger at the silk square. Claire gasped as the handkerchief flew out of her hand and twirled one of its corners into a sharp point. Then, Adeline gestured to her captive and twisted her hand until her finger pointed upward.

At first Claire was entranced by the witch’s magic at work, but she could only gasp in terror as the handkerchief shoved itself into her left nostril. The young woman gave a tiny, split-second scream as the handkerchief rapidly whirled back and forth, cleaning up whatever had accumulated in her nostril overnight. It tickled horribly, and once her apprehension died down, she began to feel a sneeze coming on.


Before Claire could sneeze, the handkerchief departed from her left nostril, twisted another of its corners into a fresh point, and then invaded its victim’s other nostril. Claire yelped again, no more accustomed to the procedure than she had been a moment ago. The urge to sneeze had been startled out of her, but it quickly returned as the handkerchief withdrew from her nose again, landing back on her lap in a moist heap.


“Right,” said Adeline, ignoring Claire’s sneeze. “Get up, and change into something presentable.”

After taking a few seconds to tenderly rub under her nose, Claire stood up and began to slip out of her nightgown. Before she could make any progress, however, Adeline removed the chain from the loop on the bedroom wall and began to pull Claire out into the corridor. She yelped as the chain tugged on her nose, but when the witch didn’t stop, she knew she would have to follow. Still in her nightgown, Claire timidly followed Adeline down the hall, past the staircase that led down to the shop, and into a cozy dining room and kitchen.

Adeline stopped to present the room to her servant, but a light jingling sound caught Claire’s attention instead. She looked past the witch, trying to find the source of the sound, and her eyes went wide when she caught sight of a black cat standing on the dining table. The cat shook its head, causing the small sleighbell hung around its neck to jingle again.

“Aww, you have a kitty?” cooed Claire, holding her hands over her chest. Closing her eyes, Adeline gestured to the cat.

“This is Cho. She’s my dearest friend, and-”

“Hi, Cho!”

Claire skipped toward the table, holding her arms out toward the cat. Cho simply stared, but when Claire tried to pick her up, she quickly leapt off the table and scampered out the open door. Claire absentmindedly tried to follow, but her escapades were brought to a swift end when Adeline firmly snapped the chain back away from the doorway.

“Ah!” Claire yelped as the chain yanked on her nose ring, forcing her to turn her head. When she finally gathered herself and slunk back toward her captor, she discovered that the witch had fastened the other end of her chain to a new loop mounted next to the stove.

“Now, I would have liked to have eaten already, but I suppose it’s still your first day, and Silverleaf probably had you eating breakfast half an hour after turning in for the night. Just make me whatever you’d like to eat. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding what you need.”

Without another word, the witch calmly walked over to the dining table at sat down. Claire was tempted to ask for clarification, but she quickly realized that this could have been a test within and of itself. Turning away from Adeline, Claire grinned and approached the cupboards beside the stove. After nothing particularly special came to mind, she decided to make a farmer’s omelette, or at least as close to one as she could with whatever Adeline had available.

To her delight, Claire managed to find every ingredient she needed. There didn’t seem to be any particular rhyme or reason to the organization, but every time she opened a drawer or cupboard, she always found something useful. The stove lit itself when Claire set a pan on top of it, and a moment later she had already gathered eggs, butter, mushrooms and potatoes.

“Oh, I would also like some tea,” the witch interjected, breaking Claire’s train of thought. The omelette was already well underway, so she didn’t have much trouble retrieving a kettle and setting it on the stove beside the pan.

A few minutes later, Claire was finished. Feeling proud of herself, she strode over to the dining table with a plate in one hand and a saucer and teacup in the other. She set the meal down in front of Adeline and waited eagerly, knowing better than to ask for thanks or praise. The witch sipped her tea, and then she took a bite of the omelette. Claire swallowed nervously as Adeline seemingly gave no reaction at all.

“Pepper, please,” said Adeline, otherwise remaining motionless in her chair. Still nervous about what the witch thought of her cooking, Claire tried to stay calm as she grabbed the peppermill from the center of the table. She began to twist it over the omelette, hoping she wasn’t getting ahead of herself, and then she felt relieved when Adeline calmly asked her to stop. The witch returned to eating, and Claire put on a timid smile.


A soft breath escaped the captive woman’s lips. She wasn’t sure if it was the rose fever, trace amounts of pepper in the air, or some combination of both, but she felt a sharp tickle somewhere deep up her nostrils. Claire clumsily brushed a finger across the tip of her nose before managing to find her way back to the gap between the ring and her philtrum. She rubbed slowly but firmly back and forth under her nostrils, quickening her pace a moment later as the tickling continued to grow.

“Haah… Aaahh-!”

Noticing Claire’s predicament, Adeline set her knife and fork down on the table and wiped her mouth with her napkin. Then, without so much as a glance over her shoulder, she reached a hand toward Claire’s head, grabbed the chain just below her nose, and gave a sharp, downward tug. Claire yelped in surprise, but for better or worse, the urge to sneeze had been startled away. Unfortunately, most of the tickle still lingered in her nasal passages. Letting out a pitiful sigh, Claire wrinkled her freckly nose and placed her finger under her flaring nostrils.

Adeline’s ears twitched at the sound of Claire’s repeated sniffing, but she managed to ignore it until she finished her breakfast. The witch rose from her seat and stared blankly at her servant as she continued to sniff and rub her nose. Eventually, the disappointed tapping of Adeline’s foot caught Claire’s attention. She forced her eyes open and immediately began to blush when she saw her captor’s unimpressed expression.

“Sorry,” whispered Claire, sliding her finger across the underside of her nose once more. Adeline placed her hands on her hips and straightened her back.

“An acceptable meal. Though I told you to put on presentable clothing and to stop sniffling.”

Claire chose not to mention the fact that Adeline hadn’t given her more than a few seconds to change. Instead, she simply nodded and waited for her next instructions.

“Clean these dishes, then Cho will show you to the washroom. I’d like to take a bath.”

Before Claire could utter even an acknowledgement, the witch was already on her way out of the room. She disappeared through the door, leaving Claire to gasp excitedly as she looked around for Cho, but the cat was nowhere to be seen yet. Resigned to her duties, the young woman carried Adeline’s dishes and utensils to the sink and set about washing them.

Once she set the last piece on the drying rack, Claire heard a familiar jingling. Looking toward the door, she saw that Cho had somehow removed the chain from the ring on the wall, and she was now holding the end of it in her mouth. Claire’s face lit up.


Cho’s eyes bulged, and she quickly made her way out of the dining room. Claire quickened her pace to follow, but they arrived in the washroom before she could catch up to the cat. By the time the captive woman stepped through the door, Cho had somehow already fastened the end of the chain to another loop on the washroom wall. Her eyes darted back and forth between the approaching Claire and the open door. As the woman closed in, Cho hatched a plan to use Claire’s affection against her.

“Hi, Cho!” Claire squealed for what felt like the tenth time in the past hour. She knelt on her hands and knees in front of the cat, forgetting all about her next job. Cho bided her time, trying to keep up a neutral expression.

“Who’s a pretty kitty?” mumbled Claire, lowering her face toward Cho. The cat’s eyes narrowed irritably as the wide tip of Claire’s freckled nose nuzzled the top of her head, but she wouldn’t have to last much longer. Now that Claire was sufficiently distracted, Cho made her move. She sprang forward, sliding away under the captive woman’s head. At the same time, she lifted her tail and dragged it teasingly across the underside of Claire’s nose. Feeling the suction of the woman’s breath on her fur, Cho could only hope she’d left Claire’s nostrils with enough of a tickle to subdue her for a few more seconds.

“Aww, come baahh…”

Claire struggled to keep her eyes open, but the blossoming tickle in her nose wouldn’t be ignored. She slipped a finger under the dangling chain and rubbed back and forth under her nostrils, but that was far from enough to satisfy. Claire took a deep, shuddering breath, and then…


As she recovered from the sneeze, Claire scrunched up her face and sighed. Cho didn’t seem to like her very much. Then again, neither did Adeline. Frowning to herself, Claire decided that she would need to show more than just affection if she was to win over a new feline friend. Then, realizing how much time she’d already wasted, she began to fill the tub with hot water.

With no way to remove the chain from the wall, Claire had no choice but to wait in the washroom until someone came for her. She hoped it would be Cho, but she was relatively unsurprised when Adeline stepped into the room, wearing a white bathrobe but still topped with her pointy black hat. After closing the door behind herself, the witch finally removed her hat, revealing long, straight, crimson hair that almost seemed to glitter in the light. Claire found herself transfixed on Adeline’s beautiful hair as she gathered it up and wrapped it in a towel, and then she immediately hid her face when the witch let her bathrobe fall to the floor.

“A- Ade- A-are you sure you w-want to… Er… Undress in my presence?” stammered Claire, holding her hands over her eyes. Adeline paused at the edge of the tub.

“I don’t care,” she said matter-of-factly, staring impatiently down at her servant. The witch calmly slid into the tub, and a few seconds after her body was fully submerged, Claire finally saw fit to open her eyes.

For the first time, Claire saw a smile flash across Adeline’s face. The water must have been awfully relaxing. After acclimating to the temperature, the witch let out a quiet hum and gave Claire another order.

“Fetch my bath powder,” she said, her voice as firm and authoritative as ever. Still feeling rather flustered, Claire stood up without a word and walked to the cabinet beside the sink. Once she opened it, the first thing she saw was a dish containing a small pile of sky-blue powder. Claire wasn’t quite sure what it was, but nothing else seemed to fit the description of ‘bath powder.’

Adeline closed her eyes, listening for the sound of her servant’s footsteps. After Claire returned to the tub, the witch waited for her to pour the powder into the water. A few seconds passed in silence, and Adeline irritably opened one eye to see what was the matter. When she saw Claire kneeling over the edge of the tub she was tempted to reprimand her, but once she caught sight of her servant’s tortured expression, her eyes widened in fear.

“Claire, no!”


Claire sneezed directly into the pile of bath powder, spraying blue dust into the air. A thin cloud spread across half the washroom, and then the witch’s house was silent until Claire let out a single, pathetic cough. Adeline pinched the high bridge of her long, regal nose and sighed heavily. Opening her eyes again, she looked over at Claire to find her frozen stiff, her scrunched-up face caked in blue bath powder.


“Claire, if you say ‘rose fever,’ I’m gonna smack you.”


And that's chapter 2. I've started writing a bit of the fourth, but at the very least I already have the third chapter written as well. That'll give me a bit of a buffer, though it may take me a while to finish another one after that. We'll see what comes up.

Thanks for reading!

Link to comment

@M214186 Well, here you go! Hopefully you'll like this one too.

@poiub Thanks, I'm glad you like it! I've definitely thought about having Adeline sneeze, but I just haven't found the right moment yet. Hopefully something will come to me soon.

Time for chapter 3! This time we start to explore the magical world a bit more, so things are going to get a bit weirder. Still, I think this one's a lot of fun, and hopefully you'll agree.

Chapter 3

A week had passed since Claire entered into Adeline Hallewell’s service. Her duties had yet to extend beyond cooking and cleaning, but after taking a couple days to settle into the routine, Claire could barely contain her excitement. The witch still hadn’t taught her any magic, but Claire found herself able to observe some every now and then. Perhaps the most important thing she had learned so far was that even spending four years at Silverleaf University had barely scratched the surface of the magical world.


“Ah… Aahh… Kt’CHU!”


For example, if the rose fever didn’t really exist, why was she always struck with sneezing spells in the spring and fall? Exerting herself by following Adeline through the woods certainly wasn’t making her feel any better. Under normal circumstances, Claire would have more than enough stamina to keep up with the witch, but her repeated sneezing soon left her out of breath.


“I… Hihh… Hah’tSHU! Heh! Kt’CHSHH! I think… I need a minute,” panted Claire, holding up a hand. To her surprise, Adeline actually came to a stop. What didn’t surprise her was the manner in which her master crossed her arms and turned to face her with a disappointed frown.


“Th-thank you,” Claire continued, leaning against a large tree. Adeline began to tap her foot, but she said nothing.


“Can… Can I… Ht’CHHu! Can I ask you something?”


Adeline’s frown deepened, but she raised no complaint. Claire wrinkled her freckled nose, rubbed a finger under her flaring nostrils, and then she continued.


“If there’s no such thing as the rose fever, why do I s… Sn… Snee-! Ah-SHHHU! S-sneeze so much sometimes? I’m not always like this.”


“That’s hard to believe,” Adline grumbled, placing her hands on her hips. Claire simply blinked and cocked her head. The witch stared back, and a moment later she gave an incredulous groan. She let her forehead fall into the palm of her free hand, lightly shaking her head afterward.


“You really don’t know about allergies, do you?”


“I’m afraid I don’t.”


The witch sighed again, and then she lifted her head and pursed her lips.


“If your clumsy, simple mind wants to think of an allergy like an illness, so be it. But it’s not an illness like a cold or the plague. You don’t ‘catch’ an allergy and then recover from it. You always ‘have’ it-”


Claire cocked her head to the other side and interjected.


“Then, why don’t I sneeze so much in the winter, or the summer?”


Adeline held up a finger, simultaneously puckering her lips and widening her eyes.


“Let… Let me finish!” she commanded, her finger starting to shake. Claire shied away, and she rubbed her nose again once Adeline settled down. The witch cleared her throat, adjusted her hat, and continued.


“Being allergic to something doesn’t mean you’re ill. You’re clearly allergic to some kind of pollen, so in your case, your immune system believes pollen is dangerous, so whenever pollen enters your body, you react violently to remove it.”


Claire looked up at Adeline and pulled her lips tight, clearly making an effort to understand. The witch sighed yet again and placed her palm on her forehead. Then, to her surprise, Claire answered her own unspoken question.


“So, pollen enters my nose,” she thought out loud, gently pushing the wide tip of her nose up with her index finger. “My body reacts to it, and I… I… Ah-KSHU! Sneeze. And the reason I don’t get sneezing spells in the summer and winter is because the plants that produce the pollen I’m allergic to only bloom in the spring and fall!”


Adeline immediately turned around, beginning to tap her foot again. She jostled the chain held in her left hand, tugging on her captive’s nose ring to get her attention.


“Wonderful. Truly your time at Silverleaf has already paid for itself.”


“But,” Claire stammered, taking a step after Adeline to keep some slack in the chain. “Is there no cure? Will I always be allergic?”


The witch shrugged.


“Eh, probably.”


Claire swallowed hard, feeling her hair stand on end for a moment. Then, she put on a timid frown and sighed quietly. Adeline began to tap her foot more rapidly until she finally gave a firm stomp and turned back to Claire again.


“Sometimes allergies go away. Sometimes people develop new ones. I don’t know.”


Adeline folded her arms as Claire stared at her. The young woman was trying to process a whole world of new information, but even still, Adeline couldn’t stand how pitiful she looked. Extending her index finger, she poked the tip of Claire’s freckled nose.


“Look, being a witch doesn’t mean I know everything. It just means I know more than you.”


The witch slowly pushed the tip of Claire’s nose up with each word, and once she finished, she quickly spun away again. Letting out another sigh, Claire smiled at what she chose to interpret as her master trying to lift her spirits. Her assumptions were called into question when Adeline suddenly grabbed the chain just below her nose and began to drag her forward through the woods.


“Come! No more breaks! We’re nearly there.”


Claire scrunched up her face and emitted a soft whine as she stumbled after Adeline. Luckily the forest canopy gave way to a blinding light before she could fall, and once Claire’s vision cleared, she found herself walking down a busy street in the middle of a cozy town. It was like nothing she’d ever seen before. Irregular buildings reached into the sky, constructed from a mixture of wood, stone, and metals that the young woman didn’t recognize. Claire lowered her gaze as Adeline allowed some of the chain to slip through her fingers, and the pedestrians that surrounded them were just as varied as the buildings.


Before Claire had much more time to look around, Adeline came to a halt in front of a quaint shop. Judging by the sign hanging over the door, Claire concluded that it sold a variety of alchemical supplies. She smiled brightly, but her excitement was cut short when she noticed Adeline fastening her chain to a post by the shop’s front door.


“Can’t I come with you?” pleaded Claire, clasping her hands together in front of her chest. Adeline gave her an incredulous stare.


“Well, why not?” Claire pouted, placing her hands on her lips. The witch put on a smug smile, stepped behind a sandwich board set up next to the door, and gestured to it.


“Because,” Adeline began, “you are a clumsy sneezer. And as you can see, no sneezers allowed.”


Claire frowned at the witch, refusing to gratify her with a glance at the sign. Eventually her curiosity won out, and to her bewilderment, the sign clearly read “No: Ogres, Mounts, Inquisitors, Witch Hunters, or Sneezers.” Claire blinked and wrinkled her nose.


“Is ‘sneezer’ some kind of pejorative to you?” she gawked. The witch grinned and wagged a finger at her captive.


“Only sneezers ask that question.”


With that, Adeline disappeared into the shop, leaving Claire tied up outside like a horse. The young woman pouted intensely, but after a minute or so, her face began to tire and she gave up with a sigh. Closing her eyes, Claire reached a finger up under her nose ring and gently rubbed her nostrils. Once she finished, she decided to have another look around to take in the scenery.


Claire barely had time to turn her head before she noticed that Adeline had chained her up next to a donkey. She folded her arms in a pout again, but only a moment later she decided the animal was cute and she wanted to say hello. The donkey was relatively small, but it was clad in a saddle that was clearly not just for show. Claire didn’t have to wonder who would or even could ride it for long: the door of the shop Adeline had entered swung open, and a plump man less than half a meter tall stepped out. Without a word or even so much as a glance toward Claire, the man hopped onto the donkey’s back, adjusted his tiny pointed hat, and took off down the road.


“...Oh,” was all Claire could manage to say as she watched. A gust of wind blew down the street and sent some of Claire’s short brown hair flying in front of her eyes, but she was still transfixed. The world suddenly felt a whole lot bigger, and she a whole lot smaller.


Claire was so distracted that she failed to notice Adeline finally emerge from the shop until she was already being pulled down the street by her nose. The witch had a large canvas bag slung over one arm, clearly full of things she had just bought. Claire didn’t think to ask what she had found even as Adeline shoved the bag into her arms.


Before long they arrived at another building, and again Adeline set about fastening Claire’s chain to the fence outside. This time, the young woman gave no protest. Feeling somewhere between gloomy and existentially terrified, Claire quietly rubbed her nose and leaned against the fence as Adeline headed inside. The witch had never been particularly pleasant to her, but Claire couldn’t manage to figure her out. She felt as though Adeline was being especially rude today, but she’d also taken the time to explain allergies despite her insistence that Claire was not to learn anything.


“Ihh… Hih!”


Almost as soon as allergies crossed her mind, Claire began to feel a fresh tickle in her nose. She was surrounded by buildings on all sides and the forest was nowhere to be seen, but she wasn’t terribly surprised. What she now knew to be her allergies still had a tendency to act up even when she was at Silverleaf, in the heart of the capital city and away from any wooded areas. Claire slid her finger back and forth a few more times under her flaring, teardrop-shaped nostrils, and then she decided to simply let it out.




“Bless you, dear.”


Claire heard an unfamiliar voice from behind, giving her a start. She turned to find an old woman standing in the alleyway beside the building. The upper half of her face was hidden behind a mop of gray hair and she leaned against a rickety cane, giving her an especially decrepit appearance, but her smile and friendly tone seemed genuine.


“Oh, um, thank you,” said Claire, giving a timid smile as she rubbed under her nostrils. The strange old woman’s smile widened and she took a few steps closer.


“Ah, a witch’s servant, I see,” the woman observed, removing one hand from her cane to gesture to the chain hanging from Claire’s nose. Lightly touching the iron links with her fingertips, Claire gave a pensive sigh.


“Does this happen often?”


“It’s not exactly commonplace, but often enough, I suppose. You know, I can get you out of that chain if you’d like.”


Claire hesitated, taking a deep breath and staring off into the distance. After a moment of thought, she let out a slow sigh and shook her head, quietly jingling the chain.


“No thanks. This might look bad, but the witch treats me fairly. Or, usually, at least. In any case, I’m really hoping to become her apprentice. I wouldn’t want to just run away.”


The old woman nodded in understanding, and then she stepped closer still. Her voice wasn’t exactly pleasant, but all things considered, Claire still found it strangely comforting. Feeling a bit embarrassed, she smiled and averted her eyes as the woman reached a wrinkled hand toward her face.


“How did such a pretty thing like yourself get tangled up with a witch anyhow?” she asked, prompting Claire to giggle softly.


“Well,” said Claire, pausing to gently slide a finger across the underside of her nose, “I actually set out to find her so I could learn to be a witch myself. I’d been hearing stories about a witch that lived near my hometown for as long as I can remember. Then, I guess I stumbled into her house while she was busy, and I… Um… I might have accidentally ruined her storeroom.”


The old woman chuckled, caressing Claire’s cheek. For a moment Claire expected her to respond to her story in some manner, but instead the old woman changed the subject entirely.


“What a pretty face,” she cooed, reminding Claire of her grandmother. Running her thumb over Claire’s left eyebrow, she smiled again.


“Such beautiful eyes. And what a cute, plump little nose you have!”


Claire smiled awkwardly and began to blush as the woman ran a finger down the bridge of her freckly nose. She reflexively scrunched up her face as the woman’s finger reached the tip of her nose, prompting the elder of the pair to chuckle again.


“Ah, youth.”


The woman’s voice dropped into a lower register for half a word, immediately making Claire uncomfortable. Still not wanting to be rude, she tried to gently distance herself from the woman. Luckily the door behind her swung open only a moment later, and when Claire looked eagerly back at Adeline, the old woman immediately pieced the situation together.


“Hello! You there, witch!” she said, waving her cane in the air as she hobbled around Claire. “Your servant. I’d like to buy her.”


Claire’s blood ran cold. Her eyes locked to Adeline’s face, and after a moment she realized she’d been holding her breath. It was subtle, but she could have sworn she saw the witch’s lips curl in disgust.


“She’s not for sale,” came Adeline’s terse reply as she unfastened Claire’s chain from the fence. Claire’s heart was beating out of her chest, and she said not a word as Adeline began to lead her away. Then the old woman spoke up again.


“Oh, but everything is for sale! Name your price!”


“Nah,” Adeline grunted in reply. The old woman gave an irritable groan of her own.


“Then I shall duel you for her!”


Claire could only watch as the aggressor suddenly shot forward with surprising speed. She opened her mouth to try to warn Adeline, but before she could make a sound, the crone raised her cane and hit Adeline on the head.


The witch froze, her shoulders tensing. Claire couldn’t see her face, but she could tell Adeline was enraged. Even still, after simply clearing her throat and patting down the front of her robes, Adeline maintained her composure and continued on. The old woman didn’t seem to take the hint. She began to repeatedly tap Adeline’s head, eventually knocking her hat clean off. The witch slowly hunched over, and once the old woman’s strikes loosed her crimson hair from its updo, Adeline snapped.


“Stop. Stop. Stop it. Stop touching me!”


Adeline caught the old woman’s cane in one hand and ripped it away. Rather than hit back, Adeline took a deep breath to keep relatively calm, and then she hurled the cane back down the street. Hoping that the crone would finally give up and instead go to retrieve her cane, Adeline fixed her hair, picked up her hat, and continued on.


Suddenly the old woman grabbed Claire’s arm with both hands. Claire barely had time to scream before Adeline had spun on her heel and dropped her bags of groceries to the ground. In a single swift motion, she removed her robes and tossed them into Claire’s arms. Underneath she wore a white short-sleeve button-down shirt, a navy blue skirt, and a pair of long, black boots with thick heels. As always, the witch kept her hat.


“Ah, feeling brave now, are you?” taunted the old woman, raising her arms in a fighting stance. She began to slowly swirl her hands in the air, leaving Claire somewhere between terrified and confused. The crone’s gnarled teeth formed a tangled grin as Adeline eyed her impatiently. A flickering ball of orange light began to form between the old woman’s palms, prompting Adeline to pull her lips tight.


“How long have you spent clawing after your own youth? If even that managed to slip through your fingers, what could you possibly hope to do to me?”


Though the witch was outwardly calm, Claire found her low voice just as intimidating as the old woman. Before she could even take a step away from the conflict, the crone drew back her hands and prepared to strike.


“You should have sold her to me while you had the chance, missy! You picked the-”


The old woman was knocked flat on her back as Adeline unceremoniously punched her in the mouth. Claire gave a tiny yelp, surprised that the fight was over so quickly. Her face locked in a scowl, Adeline wordlessly held out an arm to take her robes back from her servant. Claire handed the garment over, and the moment she looked away from the old woman, she heard a distinct pop.


“You fool!” screeched the crone, starting to laugh maniacally. Claire couldn’t tell where she had gone or where her voice was coming from, as her body appeared to have vanished completely. Adeline simply lifted her head and looked around, obviously attempting to reacquire her opponent. Claire tried to find her as well, but she had no such luck. A tiny flea briefly landed on the tip of her nose, and once she shooed it away, she heard the old woman’s cackling again.


“Even if you could best me in a fight, you’ll never stop me now!”


The flea buzzed in front of Claire’s face again, and after she waved a hand at it, she felt something start to tickle its way up her left nostril. Wrinkling her freckled nose, Claire frowned and sniffed. Unfortunately, she only succeeded in drawing the offending tickle deeper into her nostril. The irritation worsened dramatically, and before Claire could formulate another thought, she sneezed.




The old woman’s laughter filled Claire’s head again, sending a chill up her spine. She turned her eyes to Adeline, hoping the witch would know what to do. Adeline was still scouring the area, but when Claire let out another “Ah-KSHHU!” she locked eyes with her servant. Claire began to tremble as decrepit laughter echoed in her mind, though she trusted Adeline enough not to panic as the witch stepped toward her. Adeline gently placed her fingertips on the bridge of Claire’s nose, and then she began to carefully slide them down toward the tip.


“And to think, you could have made a fine profit! Or, we could have even shared her! No matter now! You’re just a-”


Adeline suddenly squeezed Claire’s nose between her thumb and forefinger just above the nostrils. The old woman’s ranting immediately ceased, and the tickle was mostly gone from Claire’s nose as well. Just enough of the irritation remained to draw out one more sneeze, and as she reared up, she graciously accepted a handkerchief from Adeline.


“Ahh… Ha-Kt’CHU!”


Claire sneezed sharply into the handkerchief, and before she could even think of wiping her nose, Adeline swiftly snatched the silk square back from her. Sniffing harshly, Claire watched with tired eyes as the witch crumpled the handkerchief and held up her free hand beside it, fingers ready to snap. Claire’s narrow eyes slowly began to widen, and she let out a scream just as the handkerchief burst into flames.




Cool, it actually preserved the italics this time. The double spacing came out a bit weird, so hopefully it'll still be legible once I hit submit...


Anyway, that's all for chapter 3! Unfortunately it may take me a little while longer to finish chapter 4, but it is still in progress and I know what I want to do with it. I'm just not going to have a whole lot of free time in the next two weeks, so it might be a bit of a wait. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter!

Link to comment

What exactly was the old crone's plan when she went into Claire's nose? Was she trying to possess her or something? If so, then it seems that Claire's sensetive nose saved her.

Link to comment

The second chapter of your story has a cool perspective with how the reader understands Cho the cat. It was nice reading from the view of Cho, and cats really do act like that sometimes XD While your third chapter does a great job at world building, the second chapter was needed to get a better understanding of how Adeline acts around her own home. It shocked me that she was so casual about getting undressed in front of Claire but it was cute seeing Claire react like that. Also, Adeline having that long red hairstyle you described sounds amazing! 

Speaking of hairstyles, I'm happy you wrote about Claire's hairstyle in the third part. I can more clearly imagine her in my mind because of how you described her short hair.  This third chapter has a lot of detail on the area around the main characters. This chapter reminds me of when I first saw Spirited Away and how the world around the main characters grew larger as the movie went on. The new crone character was intimidating and a good antagonist. The way you wrote how Adeline dealt with her own temper as well as the threat that was against Claire was great to read! When Adeline gets serious, she gets down to business and isn't afraid to get her own hands involved instead of just relying on casting magic from a distance to keep herself out of danger. I like that about Adeline.

Basically, Adeline is a boss and I think she's awesome in this third chapter.

Claire herself is an endearing character that I like rooting for. Her attitude about the world around her and her attempts to try to understand something new that counters what she was perviously taught her entire life are both enjoyable parts of her personality. 

Something that surprised me about your third chapter was the antagonist herself. I wouldn't call her a villain, she just wanted something so badly she was willing to do anything to get it. She was creepy, intimidating, and although she isn't my favorite antagonist you wrote about in one of your stories, you did a great job with her progression of danger. 

Last, the sneezes and how you wrote about the solution at the end where Adeline's fingers gently moved along Claire's nose were great little details you wrote. I like how Claire's sneezes differ slightly but still have their own kind of sound. Sneezes themselves seem to be an issue for more than just Claire. If the store itself warns against 'sneezers' then other citizens have previously caused problems for the store. Maybe sneezing effects magic itself in this world...I'm not sure, but whatever the case, I thought it was interesting that sneezers were mentioned.

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

@starpollen @Kittens&Roses Thanks! I'm really glad you're enjoying it.

@SneezeloveronGirls You know, your typical attempt to steal a helpless maiden's youth. I suppose I could have made it clearer, but I also didn't want to just spell it out in obvious exposition.

@mysterysneeze I always love these in-depth comments like this. Thanks for following so closely! As for the whole "sneezer" thing, originally it was just Adeline being goofy, but as I went along I did actually come up with a bit of a backstory for it, if you can even call it that. I don't know if I'll ever get around to actually explaining it in the story, so basically in the magic community in this universe, a "sneezer" is just anyone who's kind of a dope. They don't necessarily have to sneeze a lot, but the term is derived from how novice witches have a tendency to sneeze when handling alchemical ingredients and such.

Anyway, this unfortunately isn't a proper update, but I felt like I owed people something. A bunch of real-world stuff has come up, nothing serious, but I'm also not sure if I'm going to have time to work on this for the foreseeable future. I did already have a good chunk of the next chapter written, though, so now I've decided to just put that out there for the time being. I was originally going to save it until I had time to finish it, but at this point I have no idea when that will be. I hope you enjoy what I have so far, and there may be a familiar face for people who have been reading my stories for a while...

Chapter 4

Another week came and went, but Claire still had yet to come to terms with how little she truly knew about the world. Adeline had taken her shopping a second time, and while nothing so traumatizing as her run-in with the old crone happened again, Claire was just too overwhelmed to take in her surroundings. She had grown more comfortable with the witch’s house, but she was hesitant to set foot outside of it. To make matters worse, keeping the windows and doors shut did little to dissuade the forest’s pollen.


“Hihh! Hi’KCHU! Hhhh-! Het’SHHHu! Aaah-!”


Claire’s third sneeze was robbed from her by a sudden tug on her nose ring. She no longer felt the urge to sneeze, but her eyes watered and her nostrils were full of pins and needles. Scrunching up her face, Claire sniffed harshly and gave a sharp whine.


“For goodness’s sake, you must stop sneezing!” demanded Adeline, letting go of Claire’s chain.


“But it tickles!” Claire complained, kneading the sides of her freckled nose with her fingertips. The witch glanced up at her servant for a moment, watching silently as Claire sniffled and spluttered. When the young woman began to scrub her index finger back and forth under her flaring nostrils, Adeline rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her book.


“So uncouth,” she mumbled to herself, turning a page. Claire tensed, suppressing the urge to stomp her feet.


“I can’t help it!” she whined, shaking her head. Claire sniffed hard and slowly dragged her finger across her nostrils. “It tickles so much… Allergies are dreadful!”


Adeline couldn’t help but let out a tiny snort of amusement. Starting to blush, Claire stared down at her master in a pout.


“You said you have allergy remedies, correct? Can’t you give me some?”


The witch gave a deep, almost lecherous “Ha!” She held up a hand beside her face, trying in vain to hide her smile from Claire.


“Give you some? Why in the world would I give you some? When you finish your service to me, I will gladly sell you some.”


Claire continued to blush in frustration as Adeline giggled to herself. Eventually the young woman folded her arms in a huff and made an attempt to stand up for herself.


“Don’t you ever sneeze?” she asked, immediately losing some of her confidence as she wondered if she’d overstepped her bounds. Adeline took a deep breath to calm her laughter before she stood and turned to face her servant. Claire’s blush deepened when she noticed the witch was still trying to keep herself from laughing, but Adeline managed a response all the same.


“Of course I sneeze! Even I need a good sneeze to clear my head every now and then,” the witch explained, holding her hands up theatrically. “The difference between us is that you are a sneezer!”


Claire’s blush began to fade as she narrowed her eyes and stared incredulously at the witch. Eventually she hung her head and exhaled heavily through her ticklish nostrils.


“I’m confused,” she confessed, letting her arms fall to her sides. Adeline gave one last chuckle, lightly grabbing the brim of her hat with one hand.


“Claire, the act of sneezing isn’t what makes you a sneezer.”


The young woman blinked. Then, she cocked her head to the side, and finally she wrinkled her nose and frowned.


“I don’t know what that means,” Claire stammered, shaking her head. Adeline smiled, placing her hands on her hips.


“That’s got to be the most intelligent thing you’ve said since I met you. Now, come. I have another job for you.”


Keeping a firm grip on the chain, Adeline led Claire out of the den and down the stairs to her shop. Claire began to feel nervous, assuming that they’d be going out again, but to her surprise, the witch fastened her chain to the back of the counter.


“I need to step away for a moment,” said Adeline, already heading for the door. “That means you’re going to run the shop for me today.”


“I am?” asked Claire, too bewildered to fully realize what was happening. The witch nodded, and without another word, she departed. Claire’s eyes widened as the door shut, and she suddenly dove around the counter and sprinted toward the entrance to the shop.


“Wait, come back!”


Claire flung the door open, but somehow Adeline was already gone. There wasn’t enough slack left in the chain for the young woman to look around outside, so she simply sighed heavily and returned to the counter. Letting her upper body fall onto the countertop, Claire groaned in defeat. She heard the quiet sound of a sleigh bell jingling behind her, but even that failed to lift her spirits.


“Ugh, hi, Cho,” moaned Claire, still laying on the counter. Adeline’s cat silently stepped past her and sat in the corner. When Claire finally straightened up, Cho appeared to already be asleep. Still, Claire didn’t feel she had any other options.


“Cho, you’re a smart kitty. Can you help me? I don’t know what to do.”


The cat lifted her head and locked eyes with Claire, making it abundantly clear that she had heard everything the young woman said. Then, Cho curled up again and laid her head on her tail. Claire scrunched up her face.


“Oh, why are you so mean to me? Both of y… Yihh… Hih’tSHHU!”


To Claire’s relief, hours passed without a single visitor. Cho continued to sleep silently in the corner, leaving the young woman to herself. Claire was still too anxious about a customer suddenly arriving to relax, leaving her to fidget, rub her nose, and occasionally sneeze as she waited.


Another hour passed, and for better or worse, something finally happened. A loud Zap! came from just outside the shop’s front door, startling a scream out of Claire. Even Cho seemed surprised. What followed was an undignified scream, a painful-sounding thud, and then a mixture of rustling and what seemed to be a scratchy voice grumbling to itself.


“Ragh! Go to Maigia, they said! It’ll be easy, they said! Gah! Confound this utter lack of-! Gyagh!”


Claire and Cho silently glanced at each other as whoever was outside continued to rant. Eventually the voice trailed off, and then…


“Haaghh… Ngahhh… HAAAA-CHHYEEAAOOW!”


The strained sound of what Claire could only assume was a sneeze made Claire raise an eyebrow. She looked over at Cho again, and the cat seemed to shrug at her before they both turned their gazes back to the door.


“Argh, blast it! This place gives me hay fever…”


The shop’s front door suddenly burst open, revealing a lanky and unkempt young woman. She was breathing heavily, clearly exhausted from whatever had just happened outside. Her clothes were completely foreign to Claire: her trousers were made from a rough blue material, and her shirt was nothing more than a shaped piece of purple cloth. On top of all that, she wore a thin white coat with countless pockets, and to complete the wild image, a variety of sticks and leaves protruded from her messy blonde hair.


“Are… Are you okay?” asked Claire, taking a step back as the strange woman marched into the shop.


“Where’s the witch? Who are you?” the woman demanded, planting her hands on the corners of the counter. She leaned toward Claire, only stopping once the tips of their noses pressed together.


“The, um…” Claire began, trying to distance herself. She glanced past the woman at Cho, who was more attentive than before but still keeping to her corner. Taking a deep breath, Claire managed to calm herself enough to speak clearly.


“The witch is away at the moment, but, um… I’d be happy to help you however I can.”


The strange woman finally leaned away, removing her hands from the counter to clasp them behind her back.


“Very well,” she said, her voice much calmer but no less raspy than before. “I require a blossomlace, two bundles of grimweave, and aggranel alosefinil.”


Claire blinked.


“I… Er…”


“I have it written down,” the woman added, putting a smile on Claire’s face. The acting shopkeeper fished her reading glasses out of her pocket and slipped them on as the bizarre customer drew a slip of paper from her jacket.


“Eghhh… Nyeghehh… HYAAA-CHHEEEAAAOW!”


Before the woman could hand her shopping list over to Claire, another sneeze forced its way out of her. She reflexively brought her paper up to her face and attempted to smother her sneeze. Then, leaving no room for uncertainty, she folded the paper over the base of her nose and blew forcefully into it. Claire cringed, clutching her hands over her chest.


“Here,” the woman continued after she finished, dropping the crumpled, moist paper into Claire’s nearest hand. Swallowing nervously, Claire shivered and twitched as she carefully uncrumpled the paper. Miraculously it was still legible, and she placed it on the countertop where she could read it without having to touch it.


Claire turned to the shelves behind her, one set on either side of the staircase that led up to the house. Everything appeared to be organized reasonably well, but she couldn’t find anything on the list. A quiet jingle caught her attention, and she looked over her shoulder to find Cho standing at the base of a different series of shelves. The cat stared up at Claire, and after a moment the young woman noticed that she appeared to be pointing at something with her tail. As she approached, Claire discovered a small box labelled “Blossomlace” a few shelves above where Cho was standing. Claire smiled down at the cat, but Cho simply closed her eyes and walked away.


With Cho’s continued help, Claire managed to find the other two items on the list. After placing all three in a small paper bag, she presented the bundle to her customer with a smile.


“Here you are!”


“Prodigious! How much?”


Claire’s eyes shot wide open, her smile still plastered across her uncertain face. Her mouth slowly began to drop open as her mind frantically searched for the right thing to say. Unable to stand the silence any longer, Cho decided to come to the rescue once again. She approached Claire and swatted the young woman’s bare ankle with her tail four times.


“Erm! Um… Four… Guilders?”


The customer shrugged.


“Very well.”


Claire began to calm down as the strange woman drew an equally strange wallet out of her coat. It was made of some unrecognizable white material, and it was monogrammed with a lone purple “M.” Claire wasn’t able to see inside, but the customer managed to reach in and pull out a stack of four gold coins without much effort. She dropped the money into Claire’s hands, picked up her paper bag from the counter, and then she began to step away.


“Thank you! Please come agai-”


Before Claire could finish, the woman reached her free hand into her coat and produced a bizarre device. It resembled a pistol carried by the constabulary in the capital city, but much smaller and made of another unknown white substance. Claire gasped, desperate to protest, but she couldn’t manage to eek out a single syllable before the customer pointed the device at the nearest wall and pulled the trigger. Another Zap! burst through the room, and a swirling purple vortex appeared on the wall. Without so much as a goodbye, the woman stepped into the maelstrom and disappeared without a trace.


Both Claire and Cho stared at the wall, eyes wide. Eventually they turned to look at each other for a third time, sharing in their confusion once again.


“What in the world-”


Claire began, but Cho simply turned and hopped up the stairs at the back of the room.


“Hey! Don’t just leave!”


Once again, Claire was alone.




And that's all I have for now. I really do hope I get a chance to come back to this in the future, but that'll have to tide you over until then. Thanks for reading!

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...