Tickles of Olympus
The first three tenets of builders’ wisdom were simple—location, location, location. The same was true if you were building a town or a smithy. What about geographical features like mountains, rivers, woods? Would they prove a boon to your business or a hindrance? What other buildings were nearby? Would they compete with your patrons or were they more natural allies, for example a wine sink beside a glassblower’s, or a brothel by a port?
These were all pressing questions to ponder, and the goddesses of ancient Greece were ignorant of such facts. In the heat of a sultry, splendid summer, a sprawling new town was sprouting off the great Petrified forest of Lesbos, and due to its proximity to several main roads, it was sure to be a place of tremendous prosperity. The only question was, which goddess did the head builder choose to dedicate the town’s first temple to? As he slumbered in a featherbed, waiting for inspiration to reach him, the goddesses discussed, deliberated, and argued.
“What town would be safe without good fortune in the hunt?” Artemis, goddess of the wild, asked, leaning across a round stone table chiseled across the skies. “Packs of wild wolves roam these forests, so frankly, I don’t see how there is even any question that it is my blessings which are needed for this town to flourish.”
“it’s funny for you to speak of flourishing, when all you know is how to kill,” Demeter, goddess of agriculture, said from opposite the table. “Harvests matter more than wolf-pelts.”
“Wolves, deer, foxes, ducks, fowl… what healthy diet exists without meat? All that only comes with good fortune from the hunt.”
“And how many of those can you obtain before nature’s bread basket is empty? Harvests are sustainable, unlike hunting. When people hear of the bountiful trove of nature’s natural treasures, reaped by the fine farmers of this town, they will flock here, and only then will it grow in a sustainable manner.”
“And what will these farmers with their pitchforks do when raiders come? Every hunter with a bow can be soldier. Farmers are fodder for killers with fire and steel. And what wealthy town doesn’t attract her fair share of those?”
“My dear goddesses, you’ve been arguing over this for what feels like eons,” Aphrodite said. “Everyone in Mount Olympus had overheard your little squabble. Won’t you give it a rest, already?” She smiled across the table at the two scowling women. Her radiant smile and flowing red hair, combined with her lip-pink robes were like a bright crimson sun blazing across the sky. They looked at her and frowned in unison. Had they been in any mortal city, both Demeter or Artemis would have been striking figures, sure to turn the head of any in the room, but beside the goddess of eros, they looked plain.
Demeter’s robes were an ivy-green with ornate leaf scrollwork on the body and sleeves, with a sash of oaky-brown. Her honey-blonde hair fell across her tanned neck in lazy ringlets.
Artemis wore robes stitched together with bear skins that gave her a fierce, wild appearance, especially with the necklace of bear teeth around her neck. Her had black hair that had been cut off just before it reached her shoulders, and her eyes were a sharp, inquisitive green.
“She’s right, you know,” Athena, goddess of wisdom, said, appearing behind Aphrodite with her arms crossed. She wore robes of grey with a white sash, and her hair straight and silvery-blonde. “You two will argue till this town has fallen, risen, and fallen again, knowing how stubborn the two of you can be.”
“I’m only as stubborn as winter,” Demeter said with a wry smile.
“And I as stubborn as a starving predator,” Artemis said.
“Indeed,” Hestia, goddess of hearth and home said, clapping her hands as she strode in with an amiable smile. Her robes were plain and simple, and her mousy brown hair was slung back in a practical ponytail. “Perhaps I might offer a solution? Every day solutions are somewhat my specialty, you see.”
“Oh? And what might that be?” Demeter asked.
“A test of spirit, a battle of wills, if you were,” Hestia said, smiling broadly.
Artemis smirked. “Oh, the mighty huntress against this ploughwoman? It would be hardly a fair contest.”
“Have you tried working the soil for twelve hours in the scalding sun?” Demeter shot back.
“Have you tried hunting boar for days and days in the black forest?”
“They have a point, Hestia,” Athena said. “Any ordeal requiring physical stamina favors madam harvester, while any which favors strength, impulse, and instinct favors our dear hunter. Do you have a challenge that would be fair for both? One which would place them at an equal footing?”
“Footing,” Hestia repeated with a smile, “why yes, my dear, I do.” She cleared her throat. “When two sisters both want the last peach, how do they settle things?”
“They hit each other,” Artemis said.
“They negotiate,” Demeter said.
“One cheats,” Aphrodite put in.
Hestia giggled. “Perhaps. But I’ve seen such scenes in every hearth, and I’ve seen all of your suggestions have their turns. Sometimes it ends well, but most times it ends messily. My suggestion is this: tickling.”
Artemis and Demeter stared at each other with confusion painted across their features—quirked eyebrows, frowns, and rapid blinking. Then, they spluttered with laughter.
“We are not children!” Artemis said.
“Well, you’re acting a bit like one,” Athena said.
“You two will take turns being tickled by the other. It’s a form of torture, for lack of better term, which leaves no emotional scarring nor bad blood, at least in my experience. The one who lasts the longest gets the temple. That’s my suggestion. Take it or leave it.”
“Hmmm, it might not be the worst idea,” Demeter said as she stroked her chin. “It’ll be a solution, in any case.”
“Tickling doesn’t scare me at all,” Artemis scoffed. “I’ll crush you with ease.”
“Oh, well, you seem so certain, don’t you?” Aphrodite reached out a hand to poke the goddess of the hunt in the side. Artemis flexed away and dodged the finger with a sudden sharp intake of breath. Aphrodite giggled. “A curious reaction for one so unafraid. You know, I suddenly find myself wanting this temple too,” Aphrodite purred. “I shall join in this little contest.”
“Hey, that’s not fair!” Artemis exclaimed.
“Why ever not? I’ll agree to the terms and conditions, of course.” She licked her lips and wiggled her fingers. “Lost a bit a confidence, have you?”
“N-not at all!”
“Well, the more the merrier, I say,” Hestia said with a warm smile. “in fact, I think I’ll join as well. Tickling is all good fun, anyway. I have the feeling this will blossom into quite the amusing spectacle.”
“If you say so,” Athena said. “I think I’ll leave you ladies to it. I have things to do.”
“Mighty Athena can’t handle a bit of tickling, eh? Not surprised… all those days locked away in libraries must leave your feet as soft as silk. I bet you couldn’t even handle a feather running down them without going crazy.”
Athena glared at the goddess of love as all the others waited for a response. “I fear nothing,” she said.
“Then enter,” Hestia said. “I bet you haven’t been tickled in decades. It’ll be some new knowledge for you, no?”
Athena chewed on her lower lip.
“She doesn’t want to,” Artemis said. “After all, she knows she’s going to lose. Despite all her high and mighty talk, her body is weak.”
“I’ll make you regret those words,” Athena said in a quiet, steely voice. “I’m in. I could use another temple devoted to my keen mind. In fact, I’ve got an idea of how we can make this little competition more interesting…”
On the first night, the head builder of the temple dreamed of the temple being built in Aphrodite’s honour. It was strange, because he had never considered devoting this temple in her honour before, but the dream proved to be an exceptionally memorable one.
“So this is what the temple would look like if you were in charge,” Athena observed. “How garish.” Her face was tight, with an uneasy frown that made it look like she was trying a little too hard to not let her fear show.
Everywhere was an explosion of colour. From the soft rushes on the floor, to the vestments wore by the temple’s attendants, to the finely-woven tapestries hung from the walls of the temple, everything was bold shades of red, pink, or purple. The tapestries contained men and women of great beauty, some showed doves, sparrows, and swans in bold flight, and some scenes of passionate lovemaking. All were exquisitely made.
At the very centre of the temple where the main worship would take place, a certain goddess was about to receive the full attentions of the divine. Athena lay on a silky-soft bed that would have been fit for any queen, but she was in no state to enjoy it. Her limbs were spread like an eagle and bound by soft ropes of nylon were as strong as steel. A sundial was within her sight, so she could know how long she had persevered and endured the tickle torment which was to come. She remained clothed, though considering the lascivious nature of the goddess who had possessed this temple, it would be interesting to see for how long.
“Does the mind control the heart, or the heart the mind?” Aphrodite asked. She was at the foot of the bed, with a wicked grin on her face.
“The mind,” Athena said in a thin, strained voice. “Every day of the week.”
“Oh, but perhaps not today.” Aphrodite snapped her fingers and three attendants walked in. Two were men and one was a woman, but all had high cheekbones, tall, toned bodies, and fair hair. The two men went to her arms while Aphrodite and the woman went down to Athena’s feet. Athena was still clad in her loose grey robes, and she shivered slightly as the men rolled and tugged the sleeves of the robes back to reveal her arms up to the biceps. Aphrodite and the woman began to unbuckle her brown leather sandals.
“I’ll prove it to you,” Aphrodite said. ”I won’t be taking these off. You’ll be doing that yourself. You’ll twitch, you’ll flinch, you’ll wiggle, and you’ll only set yourself up for more. All because the body doesn’t always feel like listening to the mind.
Athena’s face was stone as the male attendants began planting kisses at her arms and elbows while their fingers slowly stroked towards her armpits. Yet this stone began to crack when Aphrodite and the female attendant began doing something similar to her feet. Due to Athena’s sandals still being on, there was much of her sole that was inaccessible and protected by the leather sole, but Aphrodite found a way around that. Due to the design of the gladiator sandals, the tops of the feet were an easy target for kisses and questing fingers, and the sides were as well.
“How you holding up?” Aphrodite asked in a sweet, cruel voice, the voice of a consummate tease.
“J-just fine,” Athena said despite her pained, pinched expression.
“Doesn’t look it,” Aphrodite said as she snuck a finger under the sole of the sandal so she could wiggle a long fingernail along Athena’s arch. And
Soon, the barrage of sexually-charged attacks had more and more effect on the normally stoic goddess. She was gurgling and huffing and giggling as lips and fingers continued to elicit reactions from her. And Aphrodite kept raising her game. The fingers began to tickle more insistently. Instead of slow, strokes that were designed to tantalise, firmer scratching took their place. Fingers scampered into the hollows of Athena’s armpits and stayed there. Down by her feet, Aphrodite used spidering motions as she slid her nails all over the tops and sides of the foot, with her attendant quickly following suit. Athena’s feet tried to fend off these marauding spiders who were skittering about with no regard for the sensitivity of her bare feet, but before long, both her sandals went flying.
“Uh-oh.” Aphrodite gave the goddess a wide grin. “Time for it to get even worse.”
With Athena’s small, white feet fully exposed, Aphrodite and her female attendant showed no mercy. They began to lick and nibble those tiny toes, while scribbling their fingers across her soft soles—an Athena who loved libraries and knowledge was one whose feet were sensitive from their lack of exertion. Even though Athena was also a goddess of war, it was the strategist side more than the spear and shield in hand side.
And none of that prepared her for this. Athena couldn’t say which was worse, especially the left foot, which was Aphrodite’s domain. Her tongue was hungry and nimble, yet so, so warm, and her nails were long and agile, moving with an easy grace and easier wickedness.
At her underarms, her armpits being kissed were also maddeningly distractive especially as the male attendants’ hands would not remain idle during this. They would reach down to graze a side, goose a rib, or poke her belly, which never failed to make Athena squeak in surprise.
“What’s wrong?” Aphrodite asked. “Is this already too much for you? All that knowledge isn’t proving very useful now, is it? But at least you now know how very ticklish you are.”
Of course, Athena wasn’t one to just sit and accept her suffering. No, she was too much of a pragmatist to make things even the slightest bit easier. As the mind-melting foot teasing continued, she would try to counter those diabolical fingers and those mischievous tongues by straining her legs and moving her feet in a rapid and unpredictable fashion. She also constantly scrunched and wiggled her toes. It worked, but only for a while.
Shortly afterwards, Aphrodite and the female attendant taking care of her feet simply used one hand held the foot steady to stop these feeble displays of resistance. Athena herself wasn’t convinced the trade-off was worthwhile—one hand was no longer being used to tickle, this was true, but they grabbed the foot by the toes and pulled it back, which also mean the soft, milky flesh of the foot was made taut and smoothed out, only exacerbating Athena’s ticklish distress.
Before long, Athena was fast approaching her limit. Her body had turned against her, forcing all this mirth and… other feelings which clouded her logical mind. Giggling and spluttering, her teary eyes noticed the candle had burned about halfway down its length, at the same time fingers were examining her toes with delicate strokes down their lengths.
“Enohohohough! I coneheeheede!”
The tickling stopped, and after a snap of Aphrodite’s slender fingers, the five goddesses were overlooking the unfinished temple. Athena coughed and gasped for breath. She reached down to rub her feet and tidy her hair.
“I lasted a long time,” she said with a fierce stare, as if daring anyone to say otherwise. “And I did find it educational after a fashion.” She took a deep breath. “Now, who’s next? I eagerly await to show you what I plan on doing with that temple…”
Alas, it was not yet Athena’s turn. The next to unleash her renovations on the temple was Demeter, goddess of the harvest. The most noticeable immediate change was the smell. The powerful scent of wildflowers and berries flowed through the airy temple, mixed with the savoury smells of garlic, onions, and leeks. The floor was packed earth and neatly stacked hoes and scythes leaned against walls. Clay vases of flowers were everywhere in attendance, in addition to bags of hanging spices and vegetables, so it almost resembled a storage shed as opposed to a place of reverence.
At the very centre of the temple, a great field of golden wheat sprouted from the ground, as high as the tallest man in Greece. At the top of the stalks sat Demeter, barefoot and in her green robes. The wheat was so densely grown that it could support her weight with ease. She reached down and patted the head of the goddess who was to be her guest tonight.
Artemis’s head stuck out from the front of the field, near where Demeter’s bare feet dangled. The thicket of wheat stalks within had snared her and contorted her body so her feet were popping out from the top of the field like large and ungainly flowers. Artemis growled and squirmed, but the stalks of wheat had her firmly bound, trussing and binding her up like a thousand threads.
“Individually, they are weak, but together, they are strong and can accomplish greatness,” Demeter said as she watched Artemis struggle. “An apt comparison to the humble farmer, no?”
“Same could be said of the pack,” Artemis replied, craning her neck up to glare.
Demeter giggled. “I suppose. But there’s no pack to save you right now.” With tanned fingers that had moss and dirt under the nails, she began tugging off Demeter’s fur boots. Inside, the high-arched feet were a soft crimson with pale arches.
A quick stroke down the sole and Artemis yelped, informed Demeter that they were surprisingly soft—likely from sweating inside her boots—and perhaps also surprisingly ticklish.
“Let’s see if the huntress has sensitive little paws, eh?” Demeter said with a smirk.
Artemis gnashed her teeth together and threw her head back as Demeter’s short fingernails began scribbling across her bare feet.
“Time to do some planting,” she said as the pink bare feet flexed and scrunched and wiggled. Her index finger was her plough and she carved it across Artemis’s feet. “I can’t miss any of these spots,” she said as she scratched her merry way from the heel, through the high hunter’s arch, to the long toes, tracing her way through every single wrinkle in the sole.
Artemis’s body was taut and muscular, but all her strength combined could not break the thousands of stalks binding her in place. Every time she snapped one, two more would grow in place, like the Hydra of legend. There was naught she could do but writhe then and burble with suppressed laughter as Demeter had her way with Artemis’s helpless feet.
“What’s wrong?” Demeter asked. “You’re smiling. Are you enjoying the services of my temple? Have you a change of heart? Decided that your smelly temple of pelts and rotting meat might not be a good idea after all?
Artemis quivered with anger, her face twisting in rage, but before she could say anything, she let loose a sudden shout of laughter as Demeter used all ten fingers to suddenly swipe up her soles, from heel to toes.
“You’ve got boyish laughter, Artemis,” Demeter observed. “Let’s see if we can make you do it again!”
Artemis grinded her teeth together and said nothing, but Demeter waved a hand and thin stalks of wheat began to trail towards the huntress’s toes. The thin snakelike plants snagged the toes, wrapped tightly around each of them, and then pulled them back till Artemis’s feet were taut and her arches were emphasized even more.
“Look at these ticklish little things,” Demeter said, her nails brushing each toe in turn to torment the pads with rapid strokes. “Caught with nowhere to run… nothing they can do but take it.”
Suddenly, Demeter let loose a ferocious barrage of tickling. Everywhere her fingers weren’t, stalks of wheat moved forward to dust and tease like little feathers. Before long, this tickling infestation had hit every spot on her soles. Demeter soon stopped her probing and left her nails scampering in Artemis’s high arches while the stalks of wheat ravaged across all over spots. The gaps between Artemis’s toes were especially hellish for the mighty huntress, as the wheat could easily weave along the webbing and the undersides and flitter about to set every new there afire.
Before long, sweat was dripping through Artemis ‘s short black hair, across her face, and down her chin to drip on the soil below. Her boyish cackles of laughter was constant—a heinous embarrassment for the fierce warrior. She shouted and squealed as her feet were ruthlessly under attack. More than once, her sharp green eyes glimpsed the candle burning away beside a vase of pink flowers, the candle that signified had long she had endured.
Then, she screamed as Demeter’s nails uncovered a hidden treasure buried away in the sole of her right foot. There was a tiny spot, scarcely the size of the smallest coin in the very centre of the arch that tickled so bad that Artemis was howling with laughter.
“Enohohohough! I yihihield!”
The temple disappeared in a windy haze and they were all overlooking the temple once more. “I... I endured longer than her,” Artemis said in a croaking voice. “I did.”
“You did,” Demeter said. She held up Artemis’s boots and grinned. “Shall I be keeping these, or are these, oh, how would you put it? Spoils of the hunt?”
Artemis hissed and lunged at her, but Demeter chuckled and tossed the fur boots back to their owner and darted behind Hestia.
“Well,” Hestia said. “That was certainly entertaining. Now, who is the lucky one to go next?”
Just from the smell, you knew Athena’s temple was very different from the one that had come before. Instead of the powerful, wild aroma of flowers, there was only the clean smell of fresh parchment. Stacks of rolled-up scrolls and leather-bound tomes were piled in shelves or on the floor. There were wooden desks everywhere, so the temple resembled a hall of education more than a place of worship. And at every desk was a sharp quill, a pot of ink, and an eager, inquisitive young man or woman.
All these desks were pointed towards a lecturer’s pedestal beside a thick stone slab. Athena stood there with her head held high and her hands clasped behind her back. Demeter, her green robes and tanned skin a splash of colour in this otherwise monochrome temple, had her wrists bound together and held above her head, while her legs were spread and her feet were bent back and tied to the slab. The slab was currently vertical, so all the students could see Demeter chewing on her lower lip and testing her binds.
“Thank you for coming,” Athena spoke in the clear, loud voice of the born public speaker. “Today, we have a special lesson in store. Namely, how to tickle torture even someone as uncouth as this one.”
“Uncouth!” Demeter repeated with a sullen glare at Athena.
“I mean no offence, but I look at facts.” With a snap of her fingers, the slab plummeted and Demeter yelped, so the bare soles of Demeter’s feet were now at chest-level. “Do you walk everywhere barefoot? It certainly looks like it.” Demeter’s feet were bronzed from the sun and lightly calloused around the balls of the feet. They were also grimy from dirt and dust.
“It feels good to be close to nature,” Demeter said in a voice thick with defiance. “Besides, I’d say considering how much you were laughing when those soft feet of yours were tickled, my habits have rather helped me.”
Athena wrinkled up her pretty nose. “Well, you might think your disgusting predilections have helped you, but we shall see.” She addressed the templegoers. “To use the delicate and precise fingers of a scribe on such a filthy surface would be a disserve. First, we clean and soften. You two, to me.” She pointed to a pair of temple attendants hovering nearby.
Demeter shivered as a pair of wet rags began to brush across her feet. Cold streams of water began to run down her feet and drip off them as she felt her feet being rubbed and fondled. Athena appeared by her head.
“It doesn’t tickle,” Demeter told her, which was almost entirely true. Those cold, sudsy cloths felt very strange on her feet, especially as the fingers beneath began sliding under the bare feet, but it didn’t truly tickle much—perhaps enough to make her smile every now and then, but she wouldn’t be laughing anytime soon, to Demeter’s relief.
“That’s fine,” Athena said. “Few wars are won in a single battle.” Demeter twitched as she felt the rough spun rag start to go between her toes. Athena was still standing very close, and she extended a hand. The goddess of the harvest flinched, only for Athena to brush a lock of hair away from Demeter’s brow.
“Let’s try here,” Athena said, and her fingers flew out like a swooping hawk to strike. Demeter defences were smashed through like an iron battle ram through plywood as Athena’s snuck five fingers into each armpit.
“Gahahaha!” Demeter wailed, wiggling like a worm as Athena’s small, nimble fingers wormed about beneath the sleeves of her green robes.
“Is it bad? You don’t want me to tickle here?” Athena’s fingers were spiders, wiggling and digging hard into her hollows as Demeter continually yanked her arms up and down to no avail. Athena gave a knowing smirk. “I shall oblige you this once.”
Demeter didn’t have time to get her bearings before the new attack came. Athena’s sharp nails crept down to her sides, and she dragged them up and down and all around her rib cage. “You have strong abdominal muscles,” Athena observed as she started squeezing along the belly, “I guess that’s one of the pros of tilling the land.” Athena punished those strong muscles with raking finger motions.
“I hope you’re paying attention to the importance of variety, students,” Athena said in the voice of the playful teacher. She kept one finger wiggling in Demeter’s belly button as she turned to look at them. “And it’s important to diversify one’s approaches. To invest everything in one place is dangerous.”
It took a moment for Demeter to realise what she meant. Her feet had been soaking in those wet rags this whole time. When Athena removed the cloth and gave an experimental scratch up the foot, Demeter found herself yelping. There was no mistaking it—her skin felt thinner, softer, and more sensitive.
“And now that we’ve warmed her up with the upper body, this should be most profitable,” Athena said with a smug smile. Demeter had no time to piece together those words before a scrub brush with hundreds of thick bristly teeth began biting into her sole. They must have been handled by Athena’s attendants, as Athena herself was still using one sharp fingernail to scratch up and down her helpless, immobile foot.
It was hard to say what was worse. Demeter’s right foot was being ruthlessly scrubbed by a pair of brushes working away in tandem. One brush was manoeuvring along the base of her wrinkly arch, near where it met the heel where there hadn’t even been than many calluses to begin with. The other brush was thoroughly cleaning the crevice beneath the toes where they meet the foot, just under the pads of Demeter’s tanned toes.
Athena had charge of Demeter’s left foot, and she was skillfully darting her fingers from spot to spot, as if she were mapping out every spot that made her squeal. Though Demeter had a feeling that her number of sweet spots were rising by the moment. She felt as if she were getting more and more ticklish with each moment. Athena was finding more and more of her spots, and those infernal brushes were rubbing away her calluses and softened the skin till it was as smooth and pliable as silk.
“Time for the other foot,” Athena said. And that was even worse for the goddess, because the brushes had made Demeter’s other foot even more receptive to Athena’s measured strikes.
By the time Athena stopped again to pontificate to her students, Demeter had a grin stretched firmly across her face. But not all of it was in ticklishness, however. She saw that the candle denoting the time endured was low. Athena’s habit of stopping to dictate her own victories was costing her. She was losing, and she probably didn’t even realise it.
“Now that the surface is clean enough, it is time we begin writing.” Athena pulled out a magnificent white quill as the attendants wiped Demeter’s brown feet dry. At the first sharp scratch of the quill on her taut, powerless feet, Demeter let loose an undignified high-pitched squeal. She could feel Athena taking her time with every flourish and loop of her elegant handwriting as she scrawled and scribbled along the canvas that was Demeter’s helpless soles.
Just a bit more, Demeter thought as Athena dictated her magnum opus to the students while inscribing it into Demeter’s soft feet. Just a bit more, and this temple was as good as hers…
The word that came to mind when you saw Hestia’s temple was homely. Temple now seemed too formal a term, due to all the cosy, local touches that had been added. There was a roaring fire in the hearth, hand drawn paintings on the walls that had the quaint quality of an amateur artist on the cusp of greatness, a table of fresh fruit, and jugs of ale, fine wine, and beer alongside ceramic cups. Yet the place could not be described as meticulously tidy—it had that sort of organised chaos that made anyone feel comfortable. There were some homes where the matriarch would spit fire if you sat down in the wrong chair or put your footwear in the wrong place, but this was not one of them.
The only thing that looked the least bit ominous was a reclining armchair, stuffed with feathers so it was soft and easy to fall asleep in. Of course, with the padded straps that went around wrists, waist, and ankles, Aphrodite was unlikely to be dozing off with what Hestia had in mind.
“Gosh, now isn’t this going to be such fun?” Hestia said to Aphrodite, who was looking bound and beautiful.
“Maybe,” Aphrodite said with a big smile on her face.
“Definitely.” Hestia wiggled her fingers in the air and began tracing random patterns as she edged her fingers closer and closer to Aphrodite’s bare underarms. Aphrodite bit her lower lip and started to giggle, well before the fingers even got close.
Hestia reached out with her hands in a squeezing motion, and Aphrodite squealed and squeaked—though the grab got nothing but air, as it had just been a feint. “See, this won’t be too bad,” Hestia said, bringing her nails down towards the stretched-out underarms again—the goddess of love’s robes extended barely mid-bicep, so they provided little protection. It became a little game to play, darting her fingers towards those smooth, flawless hollows and marveling at the way Aphrodite wiggled and laughed every time those nails came close.
This sport continued for several more moments, before Hestia cracked her knuckles and with a motherly smile on her face, said, “It’s cruel of me to keep you waiting, isn’t it?” Then, she lowered her nails and raked her nails slowly up and down the smooth white flesh of Aphrodite’s perfect armpits. Aphrodite’s high-pitched laughter was rich and melodious, and it burbled freely as Hestia began to trace all manner of patterns in the silky skin—lines, shapes, letters, and numbers, and all were effective in unleashing more giggly laughter.
And as admittedly comfortable as the chair was, Aphrodite couldn’t move aside from her head, fingers, and toes, and none of them were much use as Hestia continued to tease and play with her sensitive underarms. “I must say, these lovely armpits of yours are giving me some rather unmotherly thoughts,” Hestia said as Aphrodite arms shook and her ample bust heaved, “but I shall not be tempted. I find when the mind is distracted, it’s best to focus on something more abstract, like arithmetic. Let’s do some counting, shall we?”
And on that, Hestia began to thoroughly inspect each of Aphrodite’s rib through the thin red robe, gliding her fingers slowly as she dug into the soft, well-tended for skin. She would run her nails along the rim of the prominent rib cage in slow, deliberate caresses and really take her time exploring the shape of every rib before moving over to the next. She counted in a loud, playful voice, as if she were teaching the numbers to a child. Giggling to herself, Hestia would start at the top and squeeze and probe her way down, often losing count so she would have to start again. After about a dozen of these, she finally finished her counting and to celebrate spidered her fingers all over Aphrodite’s trim tummy.
“Oops, this isn’t a rib!” Hestia chuckled, her wiggling fingers moving all over the supple flesh. The belly was bad, but when Hestia’s fingers found their way to the sides where those sharp appendages met Aphrodite’s curving hips, the reaction was explosive, with Aphrodite spluttering with rich laughter and tossing her head back. Somehow, her hair remained flawless and looking as kempt as ever, though.
“As gorgeous as your belly is, I think I would be remiss in not paying your feet a visit, eh?” Hestia said.
“True enough,” Aphrodite said in a sultry purr. Her face was flushed and her long red hair was a little tousled, yet she still looked as radiant as ever. “Just don’t let yourself get carried away, hehe.”
“I’ll try,” Hestia said with a grin. “I like your shoes, though they aren’t the sort of thing I would wear.”
She undid Aphrodite’s ornate, jewelled wedged sandals. Aphrodite’s feet were pale and in perfect proportion to the rest of her body, with her bubble-like toes making a straight line from little to big, unlike some who had longer second toes. The soles had an enticing pinkish colour to them, and they were utterly without blemish. The eye was drawn to silver toe rings which were present on the second toe of each foot. When Hestia reached out to touch the feet, she learned that they were every bit as soft as they looked.
Sweet giggles streamed from Aphrodite’s round, red lips as Hestia played with her toes. “Gosh, you take good care of these pretty things!” Hestia said. “I have to admit, I’m a little jealous. You have to tell me all your secrets.”
“My secret is not to do too much walking or work,” Aphrodite said with a wide smile on her face.
“Ahh, not for me, then. My hands and feet are always moving.” She moved her hands to Aphrodite’s buttery soft soles to demonstrate. Placing her fingernails on those rosy soft heels, she slid them up and down, enjoying the way her hands brushed against the pliable soft flesh. Their surfaces were so soft it was almost like they were tickling her hands.
“How about we play this little piggy?” Hestia asked as Aphrodite had a ticklish grin stretched across her face from the tootsie torment.
“This happy little piggy went to the market...” Aphrodite tossed her head back as ten questing fingers focused on the big toes of both feet, stroking the pads, teasing the lengths, poking around the webbing in between, and scratching along the base.
“This sad little piggy stayed home...” Hestia was using her nails harder now to really dig in on that second toe, scritching around, under, and above those shimmering silver toe rings.
“This hungry little piggy had roast beef…” Aphrodite’s toes wiggled, spasmed, flexed, and curled, but there was no escaping Hestia’s fingers, which had the persistence of a determined housewife.
“And this poor little piggy here had none…” The little toes felt like a pair of ruthless spiders were scurrying all around them, tickling every edge of them at once.
“And this last little piggy went wee wee wee wee wee all the way home!” Hestia’s singing voice was light and beautiful, the voice of a loving mother crooning to her child, but her fingernails were fast and furious as they flew across Aphrodite’s soles so quick they were a blur.
Even as her feet were getting pinker and more ticklish by the moment, Aphrodite realized that she could have endured for another hour, another ten, even. The tickling was not bad. The bondage was nice, Hestia lacked the sadism that would have made it a truly titillating experience, one that Aphrodite and her paramours might partake. There was an innate difficulty in being tortured by something that appealed to one’s kinks, and Aphrodite had so many of them that nothing of this ilk would truly have been so unbearable for her. She glanced over at the candle burning away and saw she had endured long enough to be in no danger of being last and she was in fact close to being second. But what she wanted to see was how her fellow goddesses would handle the next rounds—now, that would be a sight worth seeing. And she didn’t care that much about any temple, anyway. True worshippers of hers did so in their bedchambers, not in such places.
It was time to let someone play.
Artemis’s temple resembled Demeter’s, but only perhaps if the garden had been allowed to grow unchecked for a few decades. A thick canopy of trees blocked out the sunlight, so it appeared dim and muted, more like moonlight. Bushes, brambles, and moss grew over the stone masonry, so it seemed more like a slice of the woods than a manmade temple. The temple was silent aside from the chirping of grasshoppers.
“I’m much more sporting than the others,” Artemis said to Hestia by a great tree that had grown around the main pillar of the temple. Her toned arms were crossed, and she had a bow slung across her shoulders. Hestia eyed it.
“You plan on shooting me with an arrow?” Hestia protested, eyeing the quiver of arrows. “That doesn’t quite seem right… it’s a bit inconsistent with what the rest of us have done with the temple.”
Artemis’s lip curled. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind. The candle will burn away, and I will try to catch you, hunt you down. The longer you remain hidden from me and my pack, the better your chances are of claiming this temple for yourself.”
“Are you sure you want to do it this way?” Hestia let loose a giggle. “Maybe I don’t mind you giving me a few laughs.”
Artemis shrugged. “It’s not the way I do things. Life is no fun without the chase.”
“Well, that’s your choice,” Hestia said with a tilt of her head. “I’d rather have smoked venison in my shed that go out stalking after deer.”
The huntress smiled. “You boring person. Now off you go.”
Hestia shrugged, with a playful smile on her face. “Well, if you want to play hide and seek so badly, I guess I’ll oblige you.” She skipped off into the forest, her sandaled feet clomping under grass and soil.
Although the temple had become overgrown with vegetation and foliage to the extent that much of the original masonry was not visible at first glance, Hestia found herself unsure of what approach she should take in this little game of theirs. One option was to run and try to evade her captor, but Hestia had never been the most vigorous, and Artemis was the pinnacle of reflex and fitness, so she was dubious of her odds if she chose to adopt that particular approach.
So perhaps finding a good hiding spot was a better option. She stared up at tall trees and remembered her fear of heights. She glanced at burrows under the ground and remembered her claustrophobia. She stared at a log that looked just long and narrow enough for her to squeeze into, though her ankles would be sticking out. It looked like the kind of thing that would be easy to get into, but not quite so easy to get out. She smiled. It was perfect.
Hestia eased herself in, crawling and edging herself forward till the rough touch of bark squeezed all around her. Her sandal-clad feet were still outside, for she could feel the cool forest breeze kissing them. She tried to suppress her giggles. Now, she would wait.
She did not need to wait long. Artemis’s footsteps were muted, almost silent, but with Hestia’s nerves all standing on attention and jumpy at every little sound, she heard the light footsteps trudging through leaves towards her.
Artemis chortled. “Well, you didn’t make this a very challenging hunt.”
“I had a good go at it,” Hestia said, her voice echoing from within the log.
“This actually wasn’t a bad spot to hide… if it weren’t for these things sticking out.” She gave the sole of Hestia’s sandal a little slap. “You couldn’t have squirmed your way in a bit deeper?”
“Perhaps I could have.” Hestia shrugged, though the gesture was lost in her wooden confines. “But then you might have taken too long to find me, and that wouldn’t have been any fun.”
“If you say so.” Artemis was plucking off the sandals that guarded Hestia’s pink bare feet. The footwear dropped to the ground like fallen animals. Hestia's wide, chunky feet had clean and neatly cut toenails with an abundance of wrinkles around her high arch. Hestia felt thin cords of rope go around her big toes to bind them together. Two more threads went around her pinkie toes, to stretch them in the opposite direction so her toes were forced to spread. Artemis was binding and ensnaring her feet for maximum exposure, like valuable prey captured and rendered helpless.
Something soft and scratchy began working at the vulnerability between her two smallest toes, and Hestia’s loud, raucous laughter bounced and echoed within the log that was her prison. It took several moments of mirth to realise that Artemis was using an arrow from her quiver—not the sharp end, but the fletching on the other end. The feathery fletching was intended to improve aim by aerodynamically stabilising one’s shot, but it proved equally effective in tickling feet, it seemed.
Because of the shaft the feathery end was attached to, it was difficult to use the way one would traditionally use a feather, but Artemis found alternate ways to make it work. She held the arrow like a dagger, with fletching pointed up, and slashed and scratched it up, down, and across the sole in quick, dexterous movements. Due to the way Hestia’s big toes were bound together, it was easy to hit both feet at the same time with precise strokes, making the goddesses of the hearth burble with boisterous laughter.
“Let’s try something a bit different,” Artemis said after a while, and Hestia felt the touch of fingers on her bare feet—well, they were more like talons or claws. Artemis had surprising long and sharp nails that she used to scythe up and down Hestia’s quivering sole. They would rake long, slow lines up the sole, then she would drag them down twice as quickly, each change of pace setting Hestia’s sole alit with burning sensations.
Those fingernails alone would have been intense enough, but Artemis had invited her pack to join in on the fun. Hestia had no eyes to see what kind of creatures had appeared at her soles, but she could certainly feel them—whiskers, paws, fur, and tongues brushed away at both feet with reckless abandon. It was a hurricane, a maelstrom of sensation, and Hestia lost count of how many of these strange beasts rampaged across her wrinkled feet. The toes remained Artemis’s private domain, however, and she alone teased those sensitive digits with her claws or with her arrow scraping away at the base of her toes.
Hestia’s feet kicked and wiggled as much as possible during all this—not because she was truly averse to the tickling or wanted it to end, per se, but she didn’t want to hurt Artemis’s feelings but putting up at least the facsimile of a struggle. Besides, due to the thin ropes around her toes and the tight fit of the log, she wasn’t going anywhere anyway. She did have the luxury of the wax candle burning away at the other end of the log, though, so she could see how much time she had.
She let herself be lost in the sensations overwhelming her soles and filling her with such bubbly laughter, though she kept one eye on the candle the entire time. She didn’t want to win, after all. That would have been sweet in its own way, but she had so much respect for the others and their earnest efforts. It wouldn’t be fair for her to win.
Of course, she didn’t want to lose, either. She didn’t want the others to deprived of that special experience…
“Congratulations, Demeter!” Hestia sound in a loud voice, with a benevolent grin on her face. She clapped with gusto, though this sentiment was not shared with the other goddesses, most of whom were a little crestfallen at losing the competition. But from the slight smiles on their faces, all of them had enjoyed both sides of the feather at least a little, during their experience.
The only goddess not smiling was Athena, though that was sure to be a temporary measure considering her current predicament. As the head builder slumbered, inspired to create a magnificent temple in Demeter’s name, he would find wisdom flowing through him, courtesy of Athena, though roaring laughter and rampant ticklishness would be flowing through her.
In a ritual sure to bore this temple great fortune, Athena was reduced to her silken smallclothes, gagged, and blindfolded. With her limbs spread out and vulnerable, she had to reap what she sowed.
My mind is calm, serene, tranquil, Athena thought as she heard the goddesses gather around her. But that inner peace would soon be shattered.
“Awww, she’s biting her lip, how cute.” It was cooing voice of Hestia by her right wrist. Athena shivered as feathers began tracing their way from the palm of her right hand, up her forearm, and along her tricep before sliding along the smooth hollows of her armpits. “See how she’s smiling? She likes the soft touch.” Hestia giggled as Athena tossed her head from side to side, wiggled and bounced on the stone slab at the centre of the temple.
“You sure about that?” said the coarse voice of Artemis by her ankles. Something scratchy and feathery made contact with the arch of Athena’s left foot to make her yelp—it must have been that accursed arrow. “Look how she’s grinning now? She likes this much more, surely.”
“No, no, no, she likes a more personal, intimate touch,” came the sultry, purring voice of Aphrodite from her midsection. I do not! Athena wanted to shout, but the gag swallowed her words. Her tongue pressed against the cloth in her mouth, but it could do nothing. Aphrodite’s tongue had no such restraint. It slid up and down Athena’s exposed, pale stomach. It felt slightly rough and warm to the touch, though the saliva felt cool on her skin. There were no ambivalent feelings when Aphrodite began blowing very ticklish raspberries or sticking her tongue in her navel, however.
“What about nails? I bet she’ll love mine.” Demeter’s nails probably had dirt beneath them, but that did not take away from their effectiveness on Athena’s right foot, as they raked and ploughed with the tireless precision of a devoted farmhand.
Everywhere tickled, everything tickled, and the goddesses were not content to stay in place. stomach, feet, armpits, thighs, everywhere got their fair share and then some. By the gods, is this ever going to end, Athena wondered as the cycle continued. And it would. Once the temple was finished…