Blood and Boned: Chapter 6- Craft Beer

    You make your way steadily through the halls in your freshly repaired uniform. You couldn’t even see the stitch marks, though this was probably because the entire thing was a deep black to begin with. There was no accounting for the taste of Mistress Carmen, though she seemed to play perfectly in line with the expectations of her vampiric heritage. All of the uniforms were black, with the males having standard white trim and the females having red. Your footfalls were muffled by the blood red carpet that ran the walkways, but left the grey stone floor visible at the edges. You come to one of the staircases leading into the basement, and head down.

    Your vision soon grows accustomed to the dimmer light underneath the mansion. On the upper levels, there was at least the odd window to the outside to let in some daytime sun. Not many, of course, as vampires really don’t hold well with the daylight, but there were some. Most of the indoor lighting was provided by candles and torches, magically bewitched to cast neither heat nor smoke. The only normal fires in the mansion were in the fireplaces, although they were fueled by enchanted logs that did not ash, or burn out. This of course, was not strictly necessary, and only served to illustrate to guests that Mistress Delacroix possessed more money that one person reasonably should.

    Vampires, almost as a rule, were immensely wealthy. Sure, the Tanuki were often heralded as the masters of coin and business, but they were often considered “new money.” Sure, there were some Tanuki families that held vast fortunes that were nothing to scoff at, but the Tanuki way of living was fast and hard. They bought, sold, and generally played an endless roulette of high and low risk gambles that sometimes meant their coffers grew low if they were too careless.

Monsters like the Mistress, however, trafficked in old money, which was often considered to be the best money. House Delacroix had been wealthy long before the current Demon Lord came to power, and as such held a great deal of influence. Perhaps it was the nature of the undead to play the long game, or merely that the Delacroix family had been lucky to see their fortunes grow with each generation. Even in the demon realm, large amounts of money have a tendency to beget yet more money.

Of course, currency had become less and less of a priority over the years, as the nature of monsters tended more toward acquiring a husband rather than personal wealth or status. Maybe it was the vampiric vice of pride, that they clung to their ancient positions of power and influence, even when it meant the newer generations of monsters would look down at them for it. Sure, the Delacroix name carried weight, but it was not unheard of for the younger monsters to look upon your Mistress as some kind of spinster, wondering when she would finally find the right man and settle down. Indeed, even in some of the higher courts of the Demonic Realms, Carmen Delacroix was considered “uptight” at best, and “in terminal need of a right good fuck” at worst.

You tried to keep your opinion to yourself, however. You wouldn’t have it said that you had ever spoken anything remotely ill of your Mistress. She rescued you from the slavers she bought you from, and that was enough. Regardless of how contrarian she chose to pass her unlife, you would be there by her side. Sometimes you weren’t sure if it was blind loyalty or just some inner need to repay your debt, but you had promised yourself that you would remain by her side for whatever she needed. It was always in your mind that without her, you would still be naked and in chains. She saved your life, and now you would repay her at full value.

You shake your head and venture deeper into the mansion. You stop two floors beneath the ground level, below the storage cellars but above what would properly be called the dungeons. It was a common opinion that any Noble monster worth her salt would have a room dedicated to a certain kind of play time. Mistress Carmen, was worth a salt mine. You had never known her to actually use the dungeon herself, but she sometimes held thematic parties down in it, in which over enthusiastic guests would sometimes sneak off to use the facilities. Less conservative monsters wouldn’t even sneak off.

You approach a large door, almost twice your height. The door seems as if it would have been far too heavy for you to open on your own, if not for the fact that the hinges were so well oiled that it took only a modest effort for it to swing open. You step into the room, and your eyes start to water from the sudden assault on your senses. A smell of herbs, grains, and alcohol hits you square in the face. The scent was so overpowering it seemed as if the very essence of beer reached out to sucker punch you in the nose as a form of greeting. You shake your head, blinking away the welling tears as you adjust to the olfactory intensity of the room.

Of course, the room was so large that the word “room” fit it much like spandex fits an elephant. As for its contents, you couldn’t see much aside from the sea of browns. The first half of the room was wooden barrels stacked in such a haphazard pile that if one were to slip, it would cause an avalanche. You could never quite understand the second half of the room, which is lucky because this room was not a stop on any tour you had given. If you were ever pressed to hazard a description, however, it would be hard to avoid the phrase, “copper tubing nightmare.” The piping ran along the walls, over piles of barrels, through walkways, and wound about the room in a general manner to induce a headache to anyone who tried to follow one from start to finish.

You venture into the mess of barrels and pipelines like a ranger plunging into treacherous rainforest, which was not too far off the metaphor because you would not be surprised to find a secret tribe of natives living amongst the network of metal and wood. The room made noises, though hopefully none you would hear in the heart of the jungle. The pipelines gurgled and clunked with the changes in pressure, sometimes hissing and creaking ominously for no apparent reason. You do your best to ignore this fact as you make your way to the center of the room.

You know that you’ve gotten close to your destination as soon as two voices become clear over the din of the pipes.

“You told me crack the barrel. So I cracked the barrel.” came a voice, light but deep. It spoke slowly, but deliberately. It radiated power, and something akin to grace. It was not grace in the manner that would put one in mind of little dancers, or ladies who spent their youth walking with books on their head. No, this voice put one in mind of a panther, muscles tense as it stalked its prey. This voice prowled.

“I told you to crack the top open, you big green idiot! I had to skim off the ice so it doesn’t get watered down! But now the side is cracked and it’s leaking everywhere! I’ll be lucky if I get any product out of the dregs at all!” This voice was octaves higher, words firing fast and hard like a hail of arrows. If the previous voice was a panther on the hunt, this voice was a rabid wolverine with a megaphone.

You break into a clearing within the pipeline forest to find several interesting looking machines, bearing levers and knobs. It looks like this was the central hub for all of the pipes, as many of them seemed to terminate or originate in large copper vats. There were still more barrels, but that was pretty much expected, though some of the ones in the clearing actually seemed empty. In the very center were large work tables and even some shelving in the distance.

On opposite ends of the tables stood the bearers of the voices, currently glaring daggers at each other. “Dwarf beer all dregs anyway.” the ogre on the right said coolly while throwing ingredients into a barrel by the handful.

“Fuck you!” screamed the dwarf on the left, who stood on top of a chair, presumably to see over the various glass measuring beakers and tubes so that she may properly insult the ogre. “As if ogre brewing was that hard!” she shouted, before picking up two beakers of what seemed like grains. She slung them around in a mock fashion, effecting a slow, challenged voice. “Oh look, me throw shit in barrel and drink what come out bottom!” Grains flew everywhere like some sort of confetti before the dwarf slung the beaker at the ogre across the table. The ogre caught it, and put it down without looking. “No need to fix that what already works.” She said absentmindedly, which only seemed to further infuriate the dwarf.

“Ahem.” You clear your throat loudly, making your presence known. “Everything all right here?” You notice that both girls immediately tense up as if they had been shocked. The dwarf scrambles forward while the ogre approaches. The ogre’s longer legs allow her to quickly overtake the dwarf, both girls coming to a stop in front of you at the same time. “Sir!” they said in unison. “Hops. Barley. You two alright?” you ask, nodding to each of them in turn.

“Of course!” said the dwarf immediately.

“Never better.” Answered the ogre at the same time.

You shake your head. This kind of thing was all too common dealing with Hops and Barley. Urest “Uri” Barley was the dwarf. She came up to your waist, though was perhaps a few inches taller in appearance thanks to the thick goggles that sat upon her head. Her long red hair was tied into twin braided ponytails with long leather strips. She wore a boiled leather apron over more sensible white linens. She didn’t seem to be wearing any shoes, which was common monster practice.  She looked up at you with bright green eyes and a smile that was entirely too wide. It was a smile that said, ‘Of course everything is alright, how could you even ask if it wasn’t?’

To your right, stood Lana Hops, though perhaps loomed would be a more appropriate word. She stood over a head taller than you, and at this distance you only needed to look in her general direction to commit sexual harassment. She wore about as much leather as Barley, but less overall clothing. She wore a stylized leather bustier and a sort of leather miniskirt over a leather thong. This always seemed uncomfortable to you, wearing leather down to your underwear. You’d asked Hops about it once, and she had said linens felt too soft and tore too easily. You just chalked it up to cultural differences.  Hops’ hair was a sort of light blue to contrast her pale green skin.  What she lacked in clothing, she seemed to make up for in tattoos. Tribal patterns wound around her arms down to her hands, and snaked up her ankles to disappear under her miniskirt. Like Barley, Hops also decided to forego shoes. She looked down at you with amber eyes, her expression sort of dull and dispassionate.

You had once worried that Hops might have been unhappy, but she had assured you that it was needless concern. She told you that it was just how she looked, and thanked you for your thoughts. Her smile had been so earnest looking that you didn’t press further. So, either she was telling the truth, or she was a very good liar, and ogres were not exactly known for their subtle thinking.               

You heave a sigh, shaking your head. There was no use in trying to get them to admit their bickering, as both of them apparently possessed extraordinary powers of denial. Of course, you knew that their combative tendency was just the nature of a friendship sprinkled with bitter professional rivalry. They were both well versed in their craft, and though they approached it from opposite sides, each was convinced that their own methods were better.

Hops kept the traditional ogre practices of brewing beer, while Barley was versed in the Dwarven methods. This duality was one of the pair’s key selling points, and almost the entire reason for their very lucrative tenure. Together, they ensured that the Mansion could provide a palatable drink for any taste. Ogre ale was brewed one way, the same way it had been for thousands of years. Ingredients go into a wooden barrel, and left for a while before you tap the keg and enjoy the drink. Ogres were not very innovative in their process, wondering why anyone would bother trying to make things harder than they had to be. Ogre ale was perfect for those kinds of thinkers that prefer the old and time-tested.

For the more modern thinkers, Dwarves were quite the opposite. Given to experimentation and trying to seek out new and exciting ways of doing things, Barley kept the tradition of Dwarven curiosity alive. Sure, she would provide a classic Dwarven brew every now and then, but the kinds of people who order “regular” ale from a Dwarven brewery were the same kinds of people who go to an ice cream shop and order a single vanilla scoop. In a cup.

“Oh, very well.” You say in the face of their impassive gazes. “I came down here to tell you something. There’s going to be a party.” Hops does not react to this news, but Barley’s eyes immediately light up. “I have just the thing!” she bounces up and down excitedly in front of you. “Oh, really?” you ask, turning to face her fully. “Mmhmm!” she nods so frantically you fear her head might snap clean off from the momentum. She grabs your hand in blatant disregard for normal Manor etiquette, and drags you over to one of the vats. “I’ve been working on a new dark chocolate cherry stout that I’m almost positive the Mistress and her guests are going to love!”

Barley grabs an empty glass beaker and puts it under a faucet connected to the vat in front of you. She twists one of the knobs and fills the beaker with a dark black liquid that foams pink froth at the top. She places the beaker forcefully into your hands and beams up at you. “Try it, it’s delicious!” You look over at Hops. The ogre looks back at you impassively, “No chocolate in mine. Ogres don’t puts that kind of stuff in beer.” You blink a few times. To your knowledge, ogres didn’t put any kind of stuff in beer. “What kinds of stuff do they put in, then?” you ask curiously.

“Beer.” Hops said flatly.

You give a small chuckle, and raise your glass toward Barley, who looked like she was about to either achieve liftoff or catch fire from air friction. She had apparently decided to bounce faster the more impatient she got. “Go on then, one big gulp!” she said, a pleading look in her eye. You nod, and tip the glass back to your lips.

You wake up on the floor some time later, your sense of time sending error messages to a brain in the middle of a reboot. You don’t remember how you got on the floor, but as far as you could tell, you seem to remember someone hitting you in the head with a bat made of heavy chocolate wrapped in cherry flavored barbed wire. A cheery face appears above you. “Good, isn’t it?” Barley said expectantly.

“Little strong.” You croak out as you start to get to your feet. Dwarves were one of the races most resistant to any kind of poison you could name. Sure, some monsters were immune to poisons, but this mostly applied to ookumadae, girtablilu, and certain kinds of llamias. Monsters had immunity to poisons of their own kind, but Dwarves had some sort of resilience to most poisons regardless of where they came from. You didn’t know much about biology, but you did know that alcohol was technically a poison, which meant that Dwarves were resistant to it.

When all of this information was added up, it revealed the reasoning behind the fact that Barley did not produce anything that didn’t double as a general anesthetic in the right dose. Wartime medics often told grisly stories of what was affectionately called “Dwarf Surgery” or “Three-Shot Surgery.” This was a practice where two shots of dwarf ale was administered to the patient, and one to the surgeon.

Hops had walked over and helped you to your feet, which didn’t seem to want to do what you told them to. “Strong?” asked Barley curiously as she eyed what little stout had managed to remain in the glass after you collapsed. “Ah, well.” She said, more to herself than either of you. “I suppose I could leave the last few ice cycles. Wouldn’t want to make it too strong, now.” At her words, you remember horror stories of what Barley considers to be “too strong” for a drink.

Rumors told of a party long ago, where an Oni guard had once remarked that beer could never be as strong as sake. Barley had apparently gone into a strange mood, and after three days locked inside of the brewery, had emerged with a beaker of something she handled only with her goggles down, a set of tongs, and a thick pair of leather gloves. The stories went on to say she went to give it to the Oni, who took it, laughing in Barley’s face saying that no beer would ever get the best of her. The tales always ended the same way: that the oni guard is still in her bed, sleeping it off. Romantic retellings had started to add that she can only be awoken by true love’s kiss.

“Here. Drink this.” Said Hops, presenting a mug in front of you. There was ice in the top, and you never knew them to water down their brews with ice. You take it, nodding “Thanks, hops. I needed some water.” You take a deep swig of it in attempt to wash the taste of bitter memory from your tongue, and immediately start coughing and sputtering. “What is this!?” you say, looking into the icy mug.

“Chilled wort.” Hops says flatly.

“That’s not water!” you say in between coughs.

“Got water in it.” She replies. “Good for getting rid of nasty dwarf taste.”

“Nasty dwarf taste!?” shouted Barley, “Why you big stupid green skinned l-”    

The bickering of the ogre and dwarf blurred into the background as your vision swam and your stomach churned. The wort had tasted like icy molasses, and the two liquids had seen fit to call your stomach the arena for a gladiatorial fight to the death. It was only the first round, but both participants had already been disqualified for dirty fighting. You managed to stumble over to an empty barrel and gave a great heave as your stomach expelled both contestants. Your senses came back gradually.

“Look at what you did, you green oaf! You made him sick!” came Barley’s voice.

“Wasn’t the wort. Probably was nasty dwarf chocolate fruit thing,” answered Hops.

“There was absolutely nothing wrong with that brew!” yelled Barley.

You groan, bent over the barrel, and slide backward, ending up on the floor again. Despite their back and forth, they both come over and manage to help you to a chair by the table. “Sorry, sir,” said Barley, sheepishly. “I didn’t know it was that strong.”

“Sorry, too.” Said Hops. “Wort good for getting taste out, not so good for bad stomach.”

You wave your hand dismissively, “It’s fine. Can I just get some water?” you ask, feeling a headache coming on. The nausea was gone from your stomach, but it seemed to have moved up between your ears, where it set upon your temples with a mallet. Barley returned to your side with a beaker full of clear liquid you prayed was water. Mercifully, it was. You drink the water down, and rub your temples with your fingers.

“Headache?” asked Barley’s voice from around your crotch area. You stop rubbing your temples and look down, finding that the dwarf had knelt in front of your chair, and was now looking up at you with her soulful green eyes. You sense something looming behind you before you feel a pair of hands run over your scalp and pick back up the rubbing of your temples. “We help that.” Said Hops.

“Girls, I’m really busy. I’ll just get some medicine from-” you say in protest, but are cut off.

“Nonsense!” said Barley cheerfully, “It’ll take longer for you to get some medicine, when orgasms are much more reliable for headaches!” You weren’t exactly sure if this was true, but as soon as you tried to leave, you felt a strong, hand-shaped pressure in your shoulders press you back into the chair. Exerting your muscles only caused whatever it was in your head to pounding your temples even harder. Thankfully, this pain was eased by the gentle rubbing of Hop’s fingers. While you were distracted in the pleasant sensation, Barley took the opportunity to unbutton your pants.

You feel the dwarf’s nimble little fingers slip through your boxers and dig around the silk to expose your length. “Ahh, found it~” she cooed up at you as your brain regained a sense for its surroundings. Hops had moved her hands down from your temples and rubbed your shoulders as you feel a pair of soft, dwarven lips kiss the head of your semi-hard cock as Barley showed your length some affection. It twitched. “Ladies, I really must-”

“You must relax and let us help you.” Barley insists before further speech is stifled by the slow dragging of her tongue up your length.

    Your protest catches in your throat, ambushed and beaten into submission by the dual assault of pleasure from the ogre and the dwarf. “We made you sick. We make you better.” said Hops into your ear. “Just relax.” You couldn’t argue with that logic, at least. Demonic energy was good for curing most ailments, it was one of the perks of getting intimate with them. As your length slips into the small mouth of the dwarf, you feel the light scrape of teeth over your head, causing you to wince a little.

“You bit him,” said Hops, “Dwarf mouth not good for anything but talking stupid.”

    Barley growled up at the ogre, her mouth full of your cock. It was a rather muffled sound, since most of her mouth was occupied. Her glare was none diminished, however, as she stared fire up at the ogre over your shoulder. “I’ iff ‘ot!” came Barley’s muffled indignance. To her credit, once you were past the teeth, the inside of Barley’s mouth was quite pleasant. Her tongue roamed the underside of your length before curling back to massage the frenulum underneath your head. The big green eyes of Barley looked up at you salaciously. A moan escaped your lips before the hands on your shoulders removed themselves. Hops moved over in front of you and crossed her arms indignantly.

 

    “Stupid bitey dwarf mouth.” she said in a huff, “Show you how do it ogre way.” Hops raised a foot, and placed it on the back of Barley’s head. You saw the dwarf’s eyes go wide with surprise before Hops leaned forward, placing her weight on her outstretched foot, and subsequently, Barley’s head. You felt the dwarf’s head press down onto your cock, and you felt your length slip into an even warmer depth of slick embrace that could only be Barley’s throat.

    Hops grinned deviously as Barley attempted to push back, using your thighs as leverage. Hops reached forward and grabbed Barley’s arms, keeping her foot pressing on the back of the dwarf’s head. She seemed to ease her weight up, allowing Barley to come up a little off of your cock, but then immediately pressed down again. Barley’s lips inadvertently kissed your base, her frantic thrashing only serving to send pleasurable little undulations of her throat rippling over your cock.

    Hops grinned evilly at you, before grabbing your hand and placing it at Barley’s distended throat. “That ogre way.” she said, running your hand along the dwarf’s neck. You felt your own cock moving through the dwarf’s airway, and her eyes rolled into the back of her head as your precum steadily leaked down her throat. Barley was a monsterized dwarf, and as such, was pretty much unable to be seriously hurt by sexual activity. Indeed, you weren’t sure she even needed air, since she stopped struggling to get off of your cock and just went limp. Not unconscious, her eyes misted over in a haze as she continued to swallow every bit of precum you trickled into the depths of her throat.

    The ogre continued to force the dwarf to deep throat you, until you feel your orgasm well up and your entire body tenses. Hops acts fast, pulling the dwarf back by the hair. Your length slips free, and the ambient air chases your orgasm back from the precipice. “Stupid dwarf don’t deserve that.”

    Barley barely gives any indication that she is aware of her surroundings, licking her lips from her prone position on the ground, mumbling and groaning in pleasure. Spirit energy had high concentrations in precum, and Barley’s short stature meant she had gotten a relative mouthful. Hops kneels between your legs, her evil grin contorting into a soft smile. “You can finish now.” she says, before brushing her hair behind her shoulders, and lowering her head.

    You feel her tongue wander the coldest parts of your length, breathing life back into your erection. Soon, she slips her lips over it, and sinks down. You disappear into Hops’ throat, but she does not give any indication that it bothers her. Her throat is not as tight as Barley’s was, but Hops proves that she had the better control as you start to feel a rhythmic contraction roll over your cock. You see the muscles in her neck tense and relax as a milking sensation washed over your aching length. Hops does not look up at you, seeming to concentrate on the task at hand. It does not take long for your orgasm to approach even faster than it had before.

    Your length starts to twitch as you reach the edge again, pouring a bit of precum down the ogre’s throat as well, only this time, Hops grabs your hips and pulls you forward. You feel an intense pressure as your length is driven as deep into the ogre’s throat as it will go, and you unload an edged orgasm into her. Hops does not move, keeping your length inside of her as she swallows after every twitch of your cock, drinking down every drop you have to offer.

    The moment lasts for a minute before Hops eases her grip and slowly starts to come off of you. She still does not look up, and instead uses her tongue to clean all traces of your orgasm from your cock. She works diligently, even going so far as to take a rag off of the table and wipe the vestiges of dwarf and ogre spit from your softening length. Once she seems satisfied with a job well done, she nods, and stands up.

    Hops pats your head before giving you a small kiss on the forehead. “Feel better now?” she asks. You nod, completely at a loss for words.

“That was an awesome drink…” says Barley from her position on the floor. “I needed that.” You look over at Hops, and see something akin to a smile cross her usual stoic face. “Ogre way always best way.” she said.

    You make your way back up the stairs to the ground floor. The night was getting late, but you had managed to get a lot done. The food staff were under way, preparing menus. The brewers were bringing out their best stuff. All you had to do was ensure the maids set out the fresh linens and fine china, and the rest of the preparations would handle themselves. Wait, no. You would have to see about the entertainment. Oh well, that didn’t seem like such a chore. Monstergirl entertainment usually consisted half-dressed men dancing or doing some kind of performance art. That was easy enough, to be sure. Plenty of entertainment troupes in the Demon Capital. You doubted there was any way THAT could turn into some sort of sexual favor, though you never knew in the demon realm. You certainly hoped not. At least the maids weren’t ones to just rape you.

Well, unless you happened to run into Cassandra again. You certainly hoped not. You stifle a yawn as you enter the landing to the ground floor, closing the door to the dungeons behind you. You’d go check on the maids, then see to the entertainment if there was still time. It had been a tiring day, and you were certainly looking forward to the first light of day that heralded your bedtime. You kept the vampire’s schedule, ensuring you rose and slept at the same times as your mistress. You only hoped that when you finally got to bed, there wasn’t going to be someone there waiting for you.

Not bloody likely, you thought.

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