Howdy folks! My thanks to Annoxanti for her invitation to appear here as a colleague!
I go by a range of different fetish-community monikers... Littlebighead (LBH) at the TTC and Low Roads at the TMF. Plus, I sign all my artwork FSJIV, so take your pick. While I've never had any formal art training, my keen interest in comics creation has kept me active on the forums since I joined the TTC back in November of 2004, drawing on a passion for science fiction films (particularly from the '50s) and anythingprehistoric for inspiration. My primary contribution is the lengthy graphic novel, "Tales From the Low Roads", a phantasmagoric adventure storywhich, at this writing, has been running for ten years and is roughly two-thirds done. Recent technical setbacks have put a crimp in production,but I'm still fully committed to completing this project. Many happy years of labor await!
Mercy Mew, resident of Tabor County, wanders the Low Roads in search of illicit reading material (the Low Roads are Tabor's creek systems, turned into permanent arroyos by the demands of an efficient canal project and now inhabited by the lowest classes of society). She is waylaid by two ne'er-do-wells, who transport her into the clutches of the Spinster, a Low Roads bogey (monster) who plans to use her as an emissary. The Spinster tickles Mercy unmercifully to demonstrate the penalty for disobedience.
Chapter 2: "The Traveling Cabinet"
Mercy has returned to her home in the town of Fairview.
She receives the Spinster's directive: to visit the traveling Cabinet of Curiosities of Professor Feare and make contact with a shadowy personality called Little Big Head.
Confused, but fearful of reprisal, she goes to the tented museum, meeting with her longtime friend, Angela Allgoode (daughter of Fairview's mayor). Mercy makes her way to Little Big
Head (passing an involved fetish tableau on the way), who is revealed to be a pickled display in the freak tent. She follows her instructions, staring into the imp's eyes... and finds herself drawn into a hallucinogenic dreamworld, accompanied by the now-active Little Big Head. The diminutive monster licks at Mercy, reducing her with his appetite, until she's awakened by Angie. Mercy anxiously draws Angie away from the freak tent; the final panel shows Little Big Head's jar, now empty, its occupant escaped.
Chapter 3: "A Meal Fit For a Thing"
Mercy and Angie having explored Prof. Feare's museum fully, return to the display of fetish tickling. Angie is embarrassed; Mercy teases her friend with a bout of underarm tickling (unnoticed by them, the "wax" figures of the exhibit express a leering interest).
The girls return to their respective homes in Fairview. Mercy mulls over the day's events until she sees the shadowy form of Little Big Head at her window. She follows the nimble imp out into the night, chasing him through Fairview's streets. The hunt finally terminates at the mayor's mansion. Mercy, concerned for her friend, climbs to a second-floor window. Her fears are well founded: Little Big Head, along with the figures from the fetish display, have bound Angie to her bed and abuse her with extreme foot tickling. Mercy watches, frozen with fascination. She's eventually pulled from her perch by strands of animated ivy. Little Big Head joins her. He commiserates, promising an explanation if she'll accompany him to Lake Lamprey.
Chapter 4: "The Drowned Town"
Back at the Spinster's lair: Guggle and Snide (her two operatives) are questioned about Mercy's failed mission. The Spinster knows Little Big Head will move against her now and decides to recruit bogey allies. She sends Guggle, Snide and Mud Sally (her bogey personal companion) to Lake Lamprey for a conference with the powerful water bogey, Boss Guillman. Little Big Head and Mercy have already arrived: they spy on the proceedings while Little Big Head relates Guillman's history and hints at an intimate connection between Sally and himself. Sally makes her way to the underwater town of Unterburg and confronts Guillman, who punishes her trespassing with tickling tentacles before he discovers the Spinster's scroll of entreaty. Up above, Little Big Head stuns Mercy with news that he supped away her soul during their encounter in the freak tent... Mercy will now become a bogey herself.
Chapter 5: "Law-Biting Citizens"
Fairview residents gather at the town's general store to gossip about the disturbing resurgence of bogey activity. They bemoan their assumption that Sheriff Persephone Mew (Mercy's sister) hasn't done enough to counter the growing problem.
Sheriff Mew has, in fact, made her way to Swillwell (a makeshift Low Roads town) at the invitation of its founder, Friedrich von Smutt. Von Smutt and Persephone palaver: she explains the nature of bogeys (normal people who have bartered their souls for mortal pleasure and have subsequently altered into monsters); he shows her a powerful, radically new sort of bogey, secured in a pit. Intrigued, she descends to examine it, but only after the odd condition that she not exit the pit for three minutes. The initially inert bogey springs into a tickling assault. Persephone's promise to von Smutt has become a test of her honor and strength of purpose, one which she passes. Von Smutt hauls her from the pit and presents her with a captured bogey-collaborator who might provide useful information. The collaborator is revealed to be Mercy.
Chapter 6: "Locked, Stocked and Embarrassed"
Persephone is furious with Mercy for her supposed connivance with the enemy. She orders a humiliating public punishment: while Mercy is secured in stocks, Tabor citizens are invited to tickle her to distraction. The participants include: Sparrow Hall (a Fairview reporter, who tries to torture a news scoop from Mercy); Angie (actually there to grant her friend a breather by light tickling; but she also drops some ominous hints about a recent change in her own nature); and Barnaby Klack, a vengeful former schoolmate. Barnaby is thrown out of the proceedings and stalks away in a huff. Little Big Head watches surreptitiously from the rooftops, gleeful at Mercy's discomfort and the growing spirit of sadism in Tabor County.
Chapter 7: "Snooze Guard"
Humiliated Mercy has vowed to leave her community for good, tramping to the edge of the Gloominvald (the dense, labyrinthine forest which separates Tabor from the rest of the world). Though most residents stay away from the treacherous woodland, traveling traders and showmen regularly brave its paths. Mercy determines to follow the wagon tracks of the freshly departed Prof. Feare. She encounters Angie along the way, and after some wrangling the two friends decide to brave the Gloominvald together. But Angie and Mercy become hopelessly lost in the twisting forest paths.
They stop in a clearing to rest. Exhausted Angie falls fast asleep. Mercy doesn't believe herself capable of sleep anymore: bogeys can't enter the half-spirit world of Dreamtime, having lost any soul to guide them. It's a great surprise to her, then, when she lapses into the dreamworld. The haven of Dreamtime refreshes her damaged spirit... but almost immediately she is beset by the rampaging Little Big Head, manifested as a nightmare. Little Big Head, it seems, isn't wholly bogey: he's a spectraphage (spirit-eater), with just enough soul to enter Dreamtime but not enough for ultimate salvation. He tickle-tortures Mercy (who is blessed with a huge reservoir of spirit), attempting to turn her into a second spectraphage. His efforts are interrupted by a helmeted paladin figure who offers challenge. The two battle and Little Big Head is maimed. He departs Dreamtime in agony. The paladin is revealed to be the sleeping Persephone.
Mercy awakens, elated to know that her soul is intact. But her relief doesn't last long: during their slumber, the terrified Angie has been bound up by vines. From the branches, a diminutive forest sprite promises punishment for the girls' intrusion.
Chapter 7.5: "Fungi and Fun Gals"
This is a C_Tickler tribute which keys off Katie/Chewy's cameo appearance in Chapter 7 (it's otherwise unconnected to the Low Roads continuity). C_Tickler favorites Katie and Hayley have safaried to the Gloominvald forest in order to bag a prized botanical specimen, the Madcap Mushroom. They succeed in netting the wily, spry sprout, after which Hayley cruelly subjects it to an open flame, releasing potent hallucinogenic fumes which KO Katie. Hayley, likewise addled, discards the smarting 'shroom in order to take advantage of incapacitated Katie, stripping off her boots and vigorously tickling her feet. But the Madcap soon returns with a formidable enforcer… CT's towering, ravenous flytrap, Chewy. Together, the vengeful vegetables deliver giggly punishment… the chapter closes as the interlopers slide down Chewy's leafy gullet.
Chapter 8: "Spritely and Sluggish"
Back in Fairview, Persephone has been summoned by Mayor Allgoode. He's distressed, not simply by Angie's disappearance, but because his wife was a confirmed voluptuary, a pleasure-lover at prime risk for bogey-hood. He fears that Angie might tend the same way.
In the Gloominvald, a host of woodland sprites arrive to inflict an odd interrogation ritual: they tickle-torture Mercy, promising to switch their attentions to Angie only after Mercy begs them to. Mercy is strong-willed; though sorely tested, she refuses to inflict the hated torment on her friend. Angie pleads to share the burden; finally, she erupts into anger, calling Mercy selfish for hoarding all the pleasure. It seems that Mayor Allgoode was right: Angie is revealed to be a voluptuary.
Chapter 9: "The Four Corners Coven"
At dawn, the sprites release Mercy and Angie, who race blindly to exit the forest. They happen upon an abandoned grist mill, which they hope will afford them a chance for rest.
They locate a bedroom. Angie falls asleep at once. Mercy is now able to enter Dreamtime without the ritual of slumber. She arrives to find Angie cavorting in a playful voluptuary's fantasy of scanty clothing and teasing feathers. Suddenly, a bulbous nightmare-demon erupts to assault Angie with four tickling hands. Angie could escape simply by waking up, but her new voluptuary tendencies draw her to the carnal sensations in spite of the horror. She's released only after two roaming spirit guardians (neither of them Persephone) enter the scene and slash the demon into gory chunks.
Mercy herself departs Dreamtime, to find an agitated Angie back in the bedroom. It seems that Mercy had left the temporal world bodily as well as in spirit. Additionally, a crew of ominous devil worshippers, the Four Corners Coven, has entered the mill. The concealed girls watch fearfully as the coven summons up a chaotic demon horror to serve the disgruntled Barnaby Klack. The demon transforms Klack into a bogey and the coven departs, hinting at some awful thing concealed in the cellar. The girls, eager to quit this unwholesome setting, creep toward the exit. But Mercy's weight breaks one of the rotten floor-boards. As she struggles to free her trapped leg, something down below latches onto her ankle.
Chapter 10: "Orphans of the Firestorm"
The scene opens in the Tabor mining settlement of Blue Powder. Persephone frets over missing Mercy and the generally declining state of affairs. It's revealed that her cherished parents died when she was barely an adult, saddling her with her father's arduous responsibilities (he was the former sheriff) and the care of her baby sister, Mercy.
At the grist mill, the situation has gone from bad to worse: the thing clutching Mercy's leg has begun to stroke the sole of her foot. Angie ventures below to stop the torment, and confronts the perpetrator: a vile bogey named Sid, swollen up and deformed by some mysterious agency. The coven has trapped him in the cellar through rune magic. Sid bargains for Angie's aid, finally trying to scare her into compliance. This last tactic backfires: Angie drops her oil lantern, setting the cellar ablaze. The conflagration flummoxes Sid so much that he releases Mercy, and both girls flee for the woods. The fire burns away the rune markings; Sid bursts out of the blazing mill, pursuing the girls into the night. Mercy and Angie become separated; Mercy stumbles into a Low Roads chasm, followed closely by the plummeting Sid. She's pulled into hiding by Friedrich von Smutt. Up above, Angie bellows for Mercy. The hand of an unidentified individual clamps over her mouth.
Chapter 11: "Feare Factor"
The hand belongs to Fiona Feare, Prof. Feare's daughter. She guides Angie to the safety of her camp. Prof. Feare immediately organizes a rescue party for Mercy.
Down in the Low Roads, Sid has departed. Mercy is at loggerheads with von Smutt; she's frantic to find Angie, and smacks von Smutt unconscious with a rock. By the time he comes to, Mercy is long gone. He tracks her to a bandit camp, where she's bound to a tree and tickled for the thugs' amusement. Mercy contemptuously demeans their technique... after heavy-duty abuse by bogey experts, these amateurs completely fail to impress her. The enraged bandit chief threatens more intense torture and von Smutt is compelled to intervene. The timely arrival of von Smutt's compatriots prompt the baddies' exit.
The fleeing villains run smack into Sid, who grabs up several and tickles them severely. Prof. Feare has seen all this and sends warning to von Smutt. Mercy is still reluctant to leave Angie, so von Smutt extracts a promise of cooperation. It isn't until afterward that she remembers she might have escaped into Dreamtime.
Chapter 12: "High Road & Low Road"
Back in Fairview, reporter Sparrow Hall experiments with the town's growing taste for titillating sensation. Her experience leaves hungry for more. Mercy, meanwhile, arrives at Swillwell, ready to begin her life as a Low Roads resident. Von Smutt entrusts her to Jen, one of the locals. Jen shows Mercy to a bed, so that she can rest from the previous night's adventures. Mercy no longer needs sleep; she can refresh her spirit by directly visiting Dreamtime now. She lapses into the dream world, hinting at a special project she plans to set in motion.
In the Gloominvald, Professor Feare makes ready to proceed toward his destination, a remote location called Bliss Harbor. He's reluctant to leave Angie alone in the woods and insists that she accompany his troupe. Angie joins Fiona inside the carnival wagon; there, Fiona surprises her with the revelation that she too is a voluptuary. Fiona instigates a tickle fight, activity she refers to as "training". Angie doesn't understand the veiled words, but happily takes part. At the same time, Mercy's trip to Dreamtime turns ominous: the nightmare demon from Chapter 9, freshly reconstituted, emerges from a cloud to spy on her.
Chapter 13: "The Buddy System"
The demon confronts Mercy. She discovers that the fiend is actually rather mild mannered; instead of attacking her, he suggests a mutually beneficial truce. Mercy, confident that she can evade any Dreamtime trap, follows her new companion into the core of a cloud. There, she hand-makes armor from malleable quasi-matter (the stuff that shapes Dreamtime's landscape) in imitation of the outfits she saw the spirit guardians wear. Her first efforts don't work well; the demon, charged with testing them, pierces their defense with ease.
When Professor Feare's wagon enters the next clearing, Angie is stunned to find that the cabinet tents have proceeded them. Fiona is keen to begin Angie's training. She and the family dray-servant, Burbeard (a manequi, part-man/part-horse), tickle Angie severely. Fiona cautions Angie that she must resist all outward displays of merriment; she is charged to control her reactions, not simply enjoy the romp.
In Dreamtime, Mercy's blacksmith failures are proving a great frustration. The demon recommends a different approach; instead of fashioning the quasi-matter by hand, she might try manipulating it mentally, the way sleepers do. This inspiration leads to success. Mercy is ecstatic about the seamless armor she's created, but is clutched by a sudden foreboding: she's certain that her absence from Swillwell is about to be discovered. Lapsing back just in time, she's dismayed to find that she's still encased in the betraying Dreamtime mail.
Chapter 14: "Fantasy in B-Major"
Mercy, unwilling to acknowledge her affiliation with the Dreamtime demon, dives under the bed covers. Jen enters and chides her for laziness, but the ruse proves unnecessary when the quasi-matter armor melts away. Dreamtime substance, it seems, won't persist long in the outside world.
Dressed and breakfasted, Mercy starts off toward the farmlands, accompanied by Jen and several of her friends (Izzy and Gale, female companions, and Billy, her beau). On the way, they pass close to the concealed Sid. The gigantic, malformed bogey has made prisoners of the waylaid bandits (Chapter 11) and sends their chief, Klept, to recruit a raiding party, ostensibly to loot Swillwell for hidden plunder. He tears off his deformed, tentacled eye to implant beneath Klept's shirt as a control/spy devise; Klept soon learns that it can impart devastating tickling punishment if he disobeys.
Soon, Mercy and her new friends arrive at a ranch to begin field work. Mercy is a novice at any sort of profession; ill at ease, she listens as Jen, Izzy and Gale gossip, fantasizing the marauding Sid into the perfect lover. The actual Sid, meanwhile, has ventured to the brink of Swillwell, fuming to himself from his hiding place. His real motive for attack would seem to have little to do with monetary gain.
Chapter 15: "Ten Toe Concerto"
A week has passed. In Fairview, Sparrow Hall approaches her neighbors, who gush rhapsodic about the arrival of the glamorous troubadour, Moon Knight. Sparrow reveals tempting footwear (fishnet stockings and stiletto heels) which she hopes will lure a bogey out of hiding and into an interview. Outwardly, the tactic seems to have failed; unknown to her, blood-red eyes peer hungrily at her from a dark alley.
In the Low Roads, wandering Klept has arrived at the Dox House, a watering hole for itinerant malcontents. As he tries to interest patrons in Sid's plan, the brutal bar owner Dox begins to bully him. The spy devise affixed to Klept swells into bulging muscles; Klept is easily able to mop the floor with the much larger Dox. The ruffians are impressed; they follow Klept into the night, eager to join Sid's gang.
Back in Fairview, Sparrow has squandered the whole day in her fruitless quest to snag a bogey scoop. She reasons that the coziness of a closed-in room might provide better luck and retires to her apartment. The shadowy, red-eyed form does indeed clamber through her bedroom window; it strokes her stockinged feet, terrifying Sparrow and overwhelming her with pleasure. Down below, patrolling Officer Growler has heard the commotion and ventures upstairs to investigate. His lantern reveals the intruder to be no bogey at all, but the disguised, smitten Moon Knight.
It is now well after midnight; Mercy and Jen have braved a remote Low Roads trail to skinny-dip in a secret warm-water spring. As they luxuriate, Mercy muses about the heated waterfall and pool: prominent Tabor landmark Twin Sisters peak was once a volcano... perhaps elements of it are still active. Not far away, a lithe, shrouded figure surveys the sleeping Swillwell...