With every step the tall grasses rustled, as if stirred by a gentle breeze. Two pairs of crimson eyes tracked their quarry, waiting for him to turn before they edged ever closer. Stooped low to the ground they stalked and prowled, ears and instincts at their sharpest.
Thus far he’d eluded them, dodged their attempts. This time would be different. Success would be certain – they could feel it.
Wordlessly the pair nodded to each other, splitting apart as to attack from two directions at once. Over several long minutes they got into position. He’d lingered far too long, let them get into an ideal position. Crouching down, they waited for that one fatal mistake. That’d be their impetus to strike.
They licked their lips with anticipation. For too long they’d been denied, but now – now they’d make amends for past failures.
He bent over, back facing them.
The huntresses exploded from their positions, launching themselves with all their might and speed.
He heard a faint shuffling from behind, turning around just in time to see the duo bearing down upon him. Instantly he dropped his trough and threw himself sideways. The first huntress overshot him, unable to stop or correct her head-long charge and rocketed past her mark. The other managed to stay on target and leapt.
Paws out and wings at full spread, she was sure she’d get him as he tried to recover from his sudden dodge.
But his arms caught her mid-air, stopping her pounce in its tracks. She struggled in his gasp, but there was no escape. In just a split-second the roles reversed and now she was the one who’d been caught. Her compatriot had just managed to come about, but it was too late. The opportunity for a clean strike had long ended.
“Almost got me that time.”
“Daaaaad!” The one in his hands complained, wiggling about before going limp.
“Not a bad plan,” he said, setting the ferocious huntress down as he sat up. “Eden comes from my right and Eve from my left.”
“We were sure we’d get you that time!” the one who’d overshot him said.
“Yeah! How’d you catch us?”
“Well, for starters it was pretty obvious you two would try something while I was working on the garden. And the only place really was from the field. So there’s that… Oh, and Eden made too much noise when she bolted from her hiding spot.”
“Don’t blame me! You were too slow!”
Eden’s tail bulb came up as if poised to strike and she spread her tiny wings. “It’s your fault! You were too fast!”
“No, it’s yours!” Eve responded in kind, lowering herself slightly and bringing up her paws.
“You always mess up!”
“No you do!”
The two stared each other down, holding perfectly still. Until Eden shifted. Eve sprang forward, tackling Eden to the ground with a fierce growl that came out more as a cute chirp. Rolling across the green grass in a ball of noise and paws and limbs sticking every which way, the two fought in the way only sisters can.
Dear old dad just sighed and put on his dad face. “Girls.”
That sole word was like an invisible hand, splitting the manticore siblings apart. They both got to their feet sheepishly, but not without a few glares between them.
“Sorry,” they said in unison, along with a few whispers and mutterings about how it was the others’ fault things didn’t go as planned.
“You’ll never get anywhere by trying to blame each other,” he said. Though he was glad to see them starting to work together, rather than launching their individual strikes. “Instead, look at what you could have done better.”
They both mumbled their sullen agreements.
Despite all the little talks and nuggets of fatherly wisdom, nothing was really sinking in – so far as he could tell. Perhaps it was just the nature of siblings to quarrel over everything and nothing. Also might have to do with the fact that they were still both so young. Ten-year-olds weren’t exactly known for their maturity.
“Maybe you’ll get me one day,” he said with a smirk, rising into a squatting position. “Really, you two just need to work on one thing…”
“What’s that?” Eve said.
“Yeah, what?” Eden said a moment later.
“Surprise!” He yelled, launching himself forward at the nearest of the twins – Eve.
In a flash she was snatched up into a bear hug and tackled to the ground.
“Defenseless!” Before the poor, tiny Manticore could react, he begin to tickle her with all the ferocity a father could muster.
“D-dad! S-s-s-stop!” Eve tried to yell in-between fits of and laughter, but it was for naught – she’d been rendered into little more than a fluffy ball of giggles with paws and wings and tail wiggling all over as she’d been possessed.
Eden gasped and leapt to her sister’s aid, roaring as fearsomely as she could manage. Landing on her father’s back, meowing all the while, she wrapped her paws around his neck and nibbled on his shoulder. “Let her go!”
“Oh, you want some too?!”
She’d managed to save her sister, in a way, by becoming the focus of the deadly assault. Quickly she regret her decision as she found herself on the receiving end of the merciless tickling. Of course, diverting his attention meant that Eve had a chance to recover and mount her own rescue operation. Leaping onto his back she tried the same tactics as Eden, and as one would expect, she met the same fate.
Youth was on their side, however, and soon they gained the upper end. Panting and exhausted after rolling around the lawn for what felt like hours, the giant had fallen.
“Yeah, get him! He’s down!” Eden shouted, pouncing in for the kill along with her sister.
“We got you dad!” Eve said, straddling his chest with her tail poised to strike. “Give up!”
“I give, I give!” He said, holding up his hands in defeat. “You two are too much for this old man.”
“We did it~” Eden said in a happy, sing-song tone, but suddenly paused to consider something. “Wait, does this mean we’re hunters now?”
“Maybe,” he said with a chuckle, “you’ll need to ask your mother if this counts.”
Eden squished her spineless tailbulb between her paws. “Aw, what does she know? I’ve never even see her try to hunt!”
“That’s because she doesn’t need to.”
“How come?” Eve asked, using her tail to score a sneak attack on her sister.
Instantly Eden let go of her tail and managed to grab hold of her sister’s, practically yanking her off dad’s chest. Like a chain reaction things escalated until, once again, they were little more than a mass of fluff and limbs rolling all over.
At least they gave him a breather. He wasn’t even that old and these two were managing to run him ragged. And no doubt the wife would be in the mood and want to blow off some stress from work when she got home. If only he’d known how tiresome Manticore cubs could be…
But, looking at the twins, he couldn’t help but smile. Tired as he may be, he wouldn’t trade them for anything. Even in cases like this, he sighed.
“Girls,” he said sternly.
There was no reaction.
“Do I have to call your mother?”
As if in still-frame, the duo came to a halt and stared at him. One had the other’s hair in her paws, the other had a tail in her grip. What had been clean clothes were caked in dirty and grass stains. What had once been weekly laundry had long become a daily chore…
They both shook their head. “N-no…”
“It’s look like I’ll have to if you two can’t behave,” he said, cocking an eyebrow.
Somehow Eden and Eve managed to untangle themselves and scamper to their feet like their tussle had never happened; almost like they were good little Manticores. “We’ll be good!” They both said, dusting off their clothes, for all the good it’d do.
“Well, I think I’m not going to get anymore gardening done today,” he said, getting to his feet. “I’m kinda hungry. You kids want lunch?”
Asking young Manticores if they wanted food was like asking a drowning man if he wanted air. He was pretty sure if he just left out slabs of meat they’d eat until they couldn’t walk – and keep eating.
Tails and wings on end, they both chirped “Yeah!”
“All right, let’s see what I feel like making…”
They bolted for the door, throwing it open and darting inside before he’d managed to take two steps. Of course, wound up as they were, they would most assuredly try to ‘help’ with lunch. And by lunch, that meant be underfoot and manage to make the most gigantic mess possible out of what should be trivial tasks. How Eden had managed to scatter half a bag of flour everywhere just to get a cup… And he couldn’t forget the time Eve tried to be slick and pick up the salt with her tail. Took a half hour of washing to get her to stop crying from the pain.
Lunch came and went much as he’d expected. What was supposed to be grilled ham and cheese – normally an easy ten minute lunch by normal standards – turned into an hour long affair. He was getting tired of eating their fur in everything they tried to make and using double the ingredients. Well, at least they were trying to be helpful instead of just being little brats like some kids he knew.
And, sure enough, Leona came home in a mood.
“Kids, can you go to your room and play for a bit? Mommy and Daddy need to… talk about something,” she said, all while draping her paws around his neck and flopping her tail up and down his leg.
Obviously, as young Manticores are wont to behave, they refused the order. At first. One look from Leona, the “Eye of Fear” as the cubs had come to call it, and they realized she meant business. Using their new-found abilities they flew up the stairs, rather than walk or run.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Eve asked, laid out on her bed on her stomach and kicking her legs idly in the air.
“I dunno, but I wish I knew,” Eden said in a huff, searching for the TV remote amongst her messy sheets and pillows. Peeking over the edge between her bed and the wall, she spotted it on the floor. Squirming herself down, she managed to just barely reach it. Only to come to a horrifying realization.
Eve watched curiously as most of her sister vanished from sight, leaving her butt and tail in the air. And then began to laugh as her sister’s legs began trying in some futile attempt to extract her top half.
“Ahh! I’m stuck!” Came a muffled voice. “Eve help me!”
Leaping from one bed to the next with the aid of her wings, Eve decided on the proper course of action to aid her sister. She pulled her shorts and underwear down around her knees. “Haha! Your big butt is showing!”
“Hey! I’m telling mom!” Eden protested, trying her best to escape – mostly through the tried-and-maybe-true effort of wiggling every part of her.
“How’re you gonna tell her if you’re stuck!” Eve chided, sticking her tongue out in triumph. In a display of childish innocence she reared back her paw to deliver a spank to her sister – a final show of her superiority that she was not the one who’d gotten herself stuck.
Delivering a sharp smack, she expected her sister to fly into an impotent rage.
The reality was Eden let out a cry all right, but it made both of them fall into an awkward silence. “W-what was that?” Eve asked, finding herself embarrassed for reasons she didn’t know.
“That hurt,” Eden said quietly, as if she were leaving certain details out. “C’mon, I don’t like being stuck like this…”
In a sudden display of sisterly compassion, Eve elected to aid, rather than hinder. For once. Unfortunatley she decided the best way to do this was to use her sister’s tail as a means of leverage.
A muffled screeched accompanied the extraction process, followed by Eden jumping onto her sister as soon as she popped free. “How do you like it when I pull your tail!”
And so things went, both of them very much firm believers in eye-for-an-eye. Along with some extra retribution thrown in for good measure. Until a sound brought both of them to a dead halt, tails held firmly in each other’s teeth.
Their pert, fluffy ears were at full attention, swinging to point at the special room they weren’t ever allowed in.
“What’s that? It sounds like daddy.”
“I think Mom is doing something to him again,” Eve said with a gulp.
“Sounds like it hurts,” Eden replied, her ears drooping. “Why would she do that?”
Eve thought for a moment. “It… sounds kind of like you did when I spanked your butt.”
Immediately Eden blushed and rubbed at her rear, the memory fresh in her mind. “W-what do you think they’re doing?”
“I dunno, but it sounds like it hurts. Sometimes Mommy makes those sounds, too…”
“You think they play like we do?”
“…Why don’t we find out?”
“But that door is always locked,” Eden said, tilting her head. “We’ve tried before, remember?”
Eve’s smirk got Eden’s tail twitching. “I found a key!”
Now Eden’s ears and eyes were pointing very intently at her sister, rather than the noises coming from several rooms away. “What, when?”
“The other day, I followed them after they left that room and watched Dad put a key somewhere in the table out in the hall.”
“What? But we already looked there…”
Eve’s smirk shot up on the mischevious scale, along with a few traces of smug. “I know,” she said, dropping her voice to a whisper for reasons only known to herself, “but I watched him. He did something… and later that night when everyone was asleep I snuck out…”
“I would’ve known if you snuck out,” Eden shot back. “Our door is all creaky.”
“You were at a friend’s house,” Eve said, but Eden still was suspicious of her claims. “So right, I messed around and found like, a secret place in the drawer with a key.”
Eden’s face began to light up with the idea of finally discovering what was in that room, but just as quickly that notion extinguished. “Won’t they be using it though?”
“There were two!”
“No way! Why would there be two keys!” Eden said, pushing against her sister’s shoulder.
To the young Manticores, the concept of having backups and spares was something of a mystery. Planning ahead was something adults did – they lived in the now, after all.
“I dunno! But there are…. So…” Eve began, her tail swishing back and forth to accompany her smirk. “Wanna find out?”
“Well,” Eden had some reservations about this whole plan. They’d been warned many times not to even think about what was in that room. Leona was sure to give them hell for even a peek. She’d probably be grounded, maybe even for a month! There was really no good reason to dare to do something they’d been warned about so much.
Giggling like a pair of cohorts in crime, they peeked out of their room. Their ears confirmed their parents voices coming from the room of secrets. Despite being in the clear, they crawled along the floor, bellies pressed to the carpet. Once they reached the table that contained the key to the forbidden knowledge they so craved, Eve made her move.
“See, watch,” she hissed out in a whisper. Sliding the top drawer open, she then reached underneath and fumbled around. “Where was it…”
A soft click followed by an “A-ha!”
A small compartment that was built into the drawer snapped open, revealing their coveted prize. Key in paw, the duo slunk down the stairs and to the door. Now the sounds were louder.
“They sure like hitting each other a lot,” Eden said, flattening her ears. “Why do they tell us not to do it so much?”
“Guess we’ll find out!” Eve said, unlocking the knob with a soft click.
Then, as carefully as they could manage, they opened the door just enough to peek inside, practically stacked atop each other.
Their eyes widened to the size of saucers and their breath caught in their throats.
“W-what are they doing?!”
“I-it looks like they’re…”
While their minds had difficulty coming to grips with the display before them, their budding instinct knew full-well. It was the first time either of them had witnessed such a thing, and they both found themselves speechless – amongst other feelings.
“I thought they were fighting,,,” Eve said in a whisper, followed by a gulp. Eden finished her thought. “…But it looks like they’re having a lot of fun. What’s that in her tail?”
They watched on as their mother had various objects stuffed in her tail, each one seemingly bringing forth sounds and expressions that the twins were quick to categorize. Not only her tail, but the place between her legs as well – when things, especially Daddy’s thing – slid inside, it seemed to make mommy very happy indeed.
For the first time, they began to drool from two places. Bewildered by the barrage of new emotions and feelings they’d not been aware of, the twins beat a hasty retreat to their room. There, sharing a bed, their minds labored to process what they’d just seen.
“…That looked really fun,” Eve said, staring at her tail then her sister’s. A steady stream of fluid trickled out, formed a damp spot on the sheets.
Eden, red as a beet, had also taken notice of the wetness in her panties and decided to investigate by dropping her shorts. A waft of smells and heat washed up, and she couldn’t resist touching where all the thick fluid seemed to be coming from. A tiny jolt electrified her when she touched there – a feeling she’d never had before, but then again, she’d never been like this before. She turned to eye her sister. “…Let’s try it…”