"Is the food to your liking, Hector?" Prince Tristan asked me, with a genuinely concerned expression on his face.
"As always, your Highness," I replied with a smile, before adding, "You spoil me, my liege."
Tristan sat back in his elegant dining chair, which in turn caused his intricate golden armor to gleam in the candlelight of the hall.
"You know you needn't call me by such formal titles, old friend," Tristan sighed, closing his eyes and relaxing a bit. It was a luxury he was rarely able to afford, but as it was just the two of us, he likely saw no harm in it. He trusted me, and I him. Of course, there were guards outside the entrance, but that was always a given when in the presence of royalty.
"My apologies, sir," I replied, along with an awkward laugh. I missed the days when we played together as younger boys, but inevitably, the royal call of duty made Tristan fairly scarce when it came to interacting with a commoner like myself. This banquet he had the castle chef prepare for us was indeed a real treat, but I was afraid that once it ended, I would likely not get a chance to see him for another half-year at best.
"So, how have you enjoyed your gift, Hector? Once I had heard you had taken up such a noble profession, I couldn't help myself, I admit," Tristan gestured, pointing at the robes he had sent me, that I was now wearing.
I glanced down at my outfit. I still couldn't believe I was wearing such fine attire. Tristan had his finest tailors and enchanters come together to craft my robes and clothing. The dark, obsidian colored basilisk leather vest (and matching boots) was light and abnormally durable, while still being pleasant to the eye. My pants were a fine white cotton, though rather plain looking. Of course, all of this besides my boots were hidden underneath Tristan's greatest gift of all-- my robe. It was extraordinarily complex in design, with golden chains and assorted jewels all over, purely for cosmetic detail. The fabric was colored a pure white, with deep green embroidery all over. The same colors of Tristan's kingdom flag. Putting the appearance aside, the main crux of the garment was its enchantment, which allowed me to cast my spells more easily without feeling drained so much.
I placed my fork down on my plate, and waited for Tristan to look me in the eyes.
"My friend... I feel completely unworthy of this magnificent gift you've outfitted me with. I will definitely treasure it for all of my days, and possibly pass it on to my legacy or apprentice, if I should take one. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and... well, I've really missed spending time with you," I said. Perhaps it was a bit dramatic, but I really wanted to let him know. Tristan was good as gold, and I was now proud to finally serve as his court healer after having trained for a year.
Tristan smiled at my words, and I could tell he really enjoyed hearing just how much I appreciated the things he did for me. Sometimes, I found myself wondering what it would have been like if we were both merely commoners, instead. What would our lives have been like? Would we have taken up normal jobs, and swoon the ladies at the tavern every night?
But, I suppose that will forever remain a dream to me. For, unbeknownst to me at the time, tonight was the night my prince was to be assassinated.
It all happened so... so quickly. A woman, completely clothed in jet black attire merely... rose from behind Tristan's chair, as if she had materialized there from thin air. She was holding a bronze dagger, and her motives were abundantly clear to me.
I almost froze, but I was able to shout to Tristan. Not that it did any good.
"Assassin!" I yelled, and pointed behind him. It was the quickest and most concise thing I could think to say, to try and get his attention to react in time. His eyes immediately opened, his brain likely tripping every alarm it had, to inject him with the adrenaline needed to protect himself. Tristan attempted to leap out of his seat, only to find that he was restrained at the waist. The assassin had quietly tied a rope around him while we were relaxed and talking earlier.
"Guards!--" Tristan screamed in panic, before the assassin placed her hand on his forehead, and quickly jerked him backwards, causing his skull to slam into the back of his chair. By this point, I had already stood up and began to run over to her, as well as the shuffle of guards pouring inside from outside the dining hall door.
But, we were all too slow. With an incredible amount of finesse and speed, the woman plunged her dagger into the throat of my friend, and fled.
Upon seeing this, half of the guards ran after her, while the other half retreated to the ground floor to cover the area outside. The woman did a front-flip out of the third story window, and vanished in a cloud of black smoke.
"Healer! DO SOMETHING!" Legate Kernus barked at me after having entered the hall, wildly gesturing to Tristan.
I was almost in a daze from it all, but snapped out of it and ran to my prince, my hand already alight with the warm glow of healing magic.
But I was no fool. I could tell he was already dead. Whether she had plunged her dagger far enough back to snap his spinal cord as well was a mystery to me, but I had practiced healing magic long enough to realize that it would be a hopeless cause to even try to heal the dead. Of course, that didn't stop me. I placed one hand on his throat to feel for a heartbeat, while my other was positioned near his neck, attempting to mend it with a divine blessing.
Neither hand produced any results.
After about half a minute, Legate Kernus barked at me again.
"Cleric! Why isn't it working!?" he yelled angrily.
"... Sir, he's..." I began, before getting kicked in the side at the ribs.
"Useless mage! Someone, get a doctor up here!" the Legate barked, before turning back to me, "You will stand trial for your failure here, mark my words!"
That was the night I lost my best friend... and my right to live in the kingdom. Magic cannot save someone from the dead. Necromancers can reanimate a corpse, and even bind their soul back to them, of course. But they would be tainted by dark magic, and in turn they would be a former shell of themselves, not to mention being purely evil in nature as well.
The trial was a joke. I'm not going to go into detail, but I didn't stand a chance, as all of my testimonies fell on uncaring ears. If this were any other kingdom, I might've been executed for treason by inaction. But we operated differently than that. No one was executed unless they were a murderer or an enemy from another kingdom. All non-combatants would be exiled to the Great Forest, which was practically a death sentence in-of itself.
The Great Forest was assumed to be three or four hundred miles of uncharted territory, rife with many strange and exotic creatures, as well as being home to bandits and other hazards. There were even tales of enormous human women referred to as giantesses, and reports made it back that they didn't take kindly to humans in their territory. They would crush us, capture us, or sometimes swallow us alive just to prove a point of their superiority. I'd always found it strange, because they were alleged to be sentient just like we are, even speaking the common tongue, too. If I ran into one, I was probably done for.
~ ~ ~
We traveled for nearly two hours by carriage the next morning. My hands were tied up, and the small troupe of soldiers I was being guarded by wouldn't speak to me. The only things I had on me was the clothing I wore, the ones Tristan had given to me. I had nothing to defend myself with, not even a knife.
"Halt," one of the nameless rank and file soldiers commanded the rest of the troops.
I felt the carriage slow to a crawl, and my door opened. I had been traveling in near-darkness, so I wasn't able to memorize the way back home.
Home... I never even got to tell my family the truth, or even a goodbye for that matter. I'm sure by now they would be misinformed, but hopefully they wouldn't resent me about whatever they were told. I may never see them again, and that was a scary thought.
Suddenly, the carriage door swung open, assailing my eyes with a bright, offensive light.
"This is your stop, healer," the young soldier explained, with a lack of emotion.
He hopped inside and unbound me. I rubbed my sore wrists as I was escorted outside.
The location was about what you would expect. Beautiful scenery, trees, and the like. Except the fact that this was to be my grave.
Without a word, the soldiers quickly tossed down a bag of food at my feet, and headed off at a speed I likely couldn't match on foot.
"So, this is it, then," I quietly whisper to myself as I pick up my supplies. It was strange, I wasn't even mad about all of this. I was, however, quite upset with the death of my friend. So if I had a reason to cry, it wasn't for my unjustified exile, but to mourn the death of my friend.
And so, I did just that. I knelt on my knees, and wept. If I was to survive, I needed to let my emotions reign free for a second so I could focus a little better in the upcoming months. It was nearly twenty minutes or so before I heard any kind of nearby noise.
A loud thud, louder than a tree falling. I'm not sure what it could've been, but I elected to investigate the source of the sound.
"What could that have been," I mused to myself as I cautiously made my way through the dense trees.
As luck would have it, it wasn't too far away. I had identified the source of the crash, and my eyes almost couldn't believe what they were seeing. Perhaps the tales had been true after all.
For there, in front of me, was an enormous suit of silver armor. It would have been quite useful if it were more my size, but instead it appeared to span the length of many buildings, instead. This was to be my first discovery in the strange forest, I imagined. Except, something about the armor seemed off.
Blood was seeping into the ground near its chest area.
No way... Could this have been a giantess? And a knight, no less?
She didn't stir, she just lied there, on her back. Of course, I could have ran. Could have. But my instincts kicked in. I was not one to let someone die, even if they weren't a human. I might regret it, but I decided to check out what ailed her, to see if I could help. My time as a healer made me this way.
And so, I spent quite a bit of time attempting to climb her body. At first, I had no idea on how to proceed, until I reached her hand. I pulled myself on top of it, and made my way up her armored arm. I stole a glance at her face, but it was obscured by a full plate silver helmet. And so, I continued back towards her stomach area. The chest plate was moderately shaped to provide room for her no-doubt gargantuan breasts, but I was quite sure she wouldn't mind if I walked over them to reach her wound. I doubt she could even feel me at all, seeing as she was decked out in full plate.
I wasn't a lecher. I could've spent my time ogling her body, or what little of it I could actually see at that point, but I had a mission.
Eventually, I finally located the source of the wound. It was a stab wound in her lower gut area, one of the few places in her armor that was only protected by intricate chainmail. All in all, it was a grievous wound, and she had likely collapsed from blood loss. I turned back to face her once more, but she had not stirred. Her quiet breathing was audible and not unstable.
Going against my survival instincts, I decided to cure her. If I were lucky, she would grant me with a painless death, if giantesses were as evil as I'd heard.
I ran my hand along her gash, as it slowly reformed itself. Blood born of magic materialized from thin air, and rushed inside of her to help resuscitate her. But, seeing as this was a wound which was larger than any human I'd ever healed, it would take some time. Thankfully, Tristan's coat was instrumental in giving me the power to accomplish this task, where otherwise it would've taken me several days. And so, in a matter of minutes, my task was complete. I was so absorbed in my work, that when I finally turned around, I had not noticed my client had already propped herself on her elbows, and was staring straight at me through her helmet's visor.
My blood turned to ice. What was I doing? Giantesses hated humans! Would she be thankful? Or turn me into some roadside meal? I guess I was about to find out, since her hand was already making its way towards me. I just stared at it in awe, it was quite strange to see something so big move so fast. Much to my surprise, when she picked me up, it did not hurt. Her hand was covered in a leather glove, sure, but she could have easily crushed me if she had felt the desire to do so.
The giantess then sat upright, obviously not in pain anymore. She held me out in front of her, with her two hands held together, palms upright, to make a platform for me to stand on. I didn't know what to do, because at this point, I was sure my life was forfeit. So, much to my shame, I began to cower a bit as she lifted me near her helmet.
"...Please, spare me," I quietly began to mutter as I trembled before her. I couldn't help it. I was scared. Terrified. Even more than when I watched Tristan die, almost.
This obviously shocked her, since she reeled her head back upon hearing my words. She moved me to one hand, and used her other to undo her helmet, causing it to fall on the ground behind her and make a loud crash.
By this point, I beheld a beauty unlike which I had ever seen. Her wavy, long hair was a deep, vibrant purple, and her eyes were a shimmering amethyst color. The rest of her face was almost perfectly beautiful, although she fell more into the range of cute rather than gorgeous. She appeared to be near my age, possibly a few years younger. Maybe twenty-one, if I had to guess.
And then, she finally spoke to me. Her voice was trembling just like mine was.
"S-s-spare you? I-I... I owe you my life! Please, sir, don't be afraid of me," the nameless giantess stammered, begging me.
I was speechless. Perhaps my worries were for naught. I had healed her, and she was obviously grateful. But... what was to happen next?
She obviously sensed my trepidation, so she continued to talk to me.
"I... I watched you heal me. I never thought a human would dare to get close to a person of my size by their own accord. You really are something special, you know?" she said.
I still couldn't believe my luck.
"Thank... you," I breathed, as I fell backwards on her palm. Shamefully, I must have passed out. The last thing I saw was a look of concern wash over her face as I fell.
~ ~ ~
When I awoke, I was lying on the grass. I shot up, only to see that the giantess was in front of me, kneeling on one knee, her helmet by her side. When she noticed my awareness, she spoke first.
"Tell me, what is your name, my savior?" she asked, rather seriously. Of course, her newfound courage did not last long, as her face instantly blushed, "... Erm, sorry, my name is Juta. My apologies, that was rude of me to ask your name before giving my own."
I couldn't believe it... was she actually starting to sweat? Was she that nervous around me?
"I'm... I'm Hector Rosemont, your grace," I said, with a small bow. I don't know why, but her ornate armor looked like she was quite wealthy. Possibly a princess? Who knew. I just wanted to be on the safe side. But the shock on her face told me otherwise, that I was wrong.
"No-no-no-no-no! Please, don't call me that!" Juta replied with much embarrassment present in her voice. "I... I am unworthy of such a title, Lord Hector."
"Umm," I began, confused. She awkwardly resumed bowing her head to me in reverence again, with her hand on an enormous saber which pierced the Earth below her.
"I... I wish to serve you!" Juta nervously spoke again. "I... wish to be your knight."
Here I was, not even a day in the Great Forest, and I already had a giantess professing her undying loyalty to me. I quickly thought it over. She was cute, she seemed genuinely grateful to me, and all in all, I needed some help. I would have been defenseless out here on my own. Healers were never trained in the ways of combat. I would be as able-bodied as a farm boy against a bear.
"... O-kay," I replied, as her face instantly shot up, beaming at me with an adorable smile, "but on one condition."
Her smile slightly faded, but wasn't entirely gone.
"Yes, my Lord?" Juta replied. I wasn't used to being called a lord. That honor was something I reserved in my mind for great men like Tristan.
"You can serve me however you like, but I'd feel better if you called me by my first name. Where I'm from, I was a commoner. If you'll treat me like a friend rather than a lord, I would feel more comfortable... Juta," I explained, hoping she wouldn't take offense.
She hadn't stopped blushing, but her smile returned in full force. She was obviously fine with my proposal.
"Okay, Hector," Juta replied with a bit more femininity present in her voice again, as well as a wink at me. Guess we both got what we wanted. I may never be allowed home again, but I'm not sure how I'd explain to anyone why I had a giantess following me around like a servant.
"And she's actually quite pretty, to boot," I said aloud, accidentally broadcasting my thoughts. Ah, hell! I sheepishly met Juta's gaze, and she looked extremely flustered.
"D-do you really mean that, Hector?" she replied, incredulously. Guess the cat's out of the bag, now. If I'm really going to have this giantess serve me for the rest of my years, maybe it's better to get these little... introductions out of the way.
So, against my normal calm demeanor, I decided to own what I'd said.
"I do. You have no idea how lucky I feel to have someone like you by my side," I said. Honestly, it was a bit strange how quickly I was accepting this woman's aid into my life. But nearly an hour ago, I felt like I was an outcast who would die the unheroic death of being mauled by wolves in the forest. If this girl really wanted to serve me, I wanted her to feel good about doing it. Plus, if I'm being honest, I really did find her to be quite the comely lass. Maybe... maybe someday she might...
I paused, my mind filling with lewd thoughts of exploring her body. It had been awhile since I'd let myself go like that. During my training, we were molded to not be so swayed by the opposite sex, since it would help during their healing sessions just in case we were presented with a naked, injured female. Keeping our minds off of our natural sexual urges was tough, but it helped make the job easier when we didn't drool into an open wound.
Giantesses must have not had the same reservations of modesty that humans did, because as soon as Juta realized I fancied her appearance, she began to remove her armor.
"Whoa, whoa whoa!" I exclaimed as I saw Juta's breasts flop out. They were medium sized, for someone of her stature. Very nicely shaped. But I didn't want to travel around with a naked giantess everywhere... Did I? Call me lame, but I thought the armor was cool.
"What's wrong, Hector? I thought you would like this," Juta explained as she literally flashed me. "There's no need to be embarrassed. We're alone out here... I think."
She didn't stop until she was completely uncovered. Her lightly tanned body was fit, though she wasn't a walking muscle. It was the perfect blend of female and fitness.
"Well, yes, there's that. But, it doesn't feel right. I feel like I'm not supposed to be seeing what I'm seeing right now," I admitted, blushing a bit. I had courted women before, but none had gone so far as this.
Juta grinned. Somehow, I feel like she knew my thoughts on the matter.
"You're still a virgin, aren't you?" Juta blurted out, although she didn't look embarrassed about it. I think I was beginning to miss it when she was being cute and flustered earlier. Before I could respond, she added, "I am, too. Don't feel ashamed. You can choose to look at me, or not. I won't judge. But, I would prefer to relax for a bit. Have you ever worn armor for an extended period of time? It starts to hurt a bit."
"V-very well, then," I replied, choosing to avert my gaze.
Wrong move. I could tell my knight had good intentions, but the second I turned my head she swiped me up with her hand. It was rather gentle, but also disorienting, to say the least. Still, I didn't lose my cool over it. After all, I was thankful she didn't kill me earlier.
And so, I found myself face-to-breasts with her chest, though that was only because she was just choosing to hold me near them. She didn't bring them any closer.
"Sorry, I hope that didn't startle you," Juta apologized.
It did, but I didn't want her to worry.
"No, no, it's all good. Perhaps we can chat better this way," I said, doing my best to keep eye contact with her face. Even then, that was hard, too. I had a weakness for pretty girls, and eye contact felt like rude staring to me.
"My thoughts exactly," Juta responded, "Let's get to know each other!"
She was rather energetic for a knight. Back in the castle, the knights were always so stern and stoic. Needless to say, I was unsure if sharing a funny joke with one would've landed me in a jail cell for some reason.
"Sure. You first, have any questions for me?" I asked.
"Hmm... why were you out here? I don't see far too many humans in this forest," Juta asked.
"I was exiled from my kingdom, unjustly. My friend was the prince, and he was killed by an assassin in front of me. For being unable to heal a dead man, I was escorted out here and left to die," I explained. I left a lot out, but that was the gist of it.
"I'm... sorry, Hector," she replied, obviously beating herself up for bringing up such a tender subject. Make no mistake, the prince's death burdened my heart greatly, but I considered myself to be strong enough to not let it interfere with my survival.
"No worries, Juta. It was a harmless question. So, might I ask the same one of you? What brings you here?" I asked.
"Hmm... something similar, I suppose. I lost a duel in front of my queen, and was sent to wander out here until I met my demise. Our kingdom had a friendly competition with another giantess kingdom, and I was one of the knights chosen to represent my queen. The enemy ganged up on me, for as I was fighting my opponent, her ally rushed over and impaled me in the stomach. I didn't die immediately, but I'd been walking for a short while until I collapsed here, where you found me," Juta answered. Again, it seems she shortened her story for my sake, like I did for her.
"So we're both outcasts, I suppose," I noted. Juta merely nodded as a reply. We were both alone. In a sense, I was now her king, and she my knight. This forest would be my kingdom.
"What made you decide to heal me, Hector? Humans... well..." Juta asked, and averted her eyes. I knew what she was getting at. Humans were usually prey. The stories must have had some semblance of truth to them.
"Why didn't I run? I don't know. I guess I was curious. I didn't have a plan, I just saw someone in dire need of help. I... I feel lucky you didn't, um..." I began, but stopped as I realized she was starting to form tears in her eyes.
"You're very brave, Hector. If it were any other giantess, or if I were at full strength... I may not have ever gotten to experience your kindness," she trailed off, sounding rather depressed.
"Forgive me, but is it true? The stories of giantesses and humans?" I dared ask. I didn't fear her, but I did fear offending her somehow. Luckily, she was an open book.
"Sadly, they're true. Giantesses don't hate humans, but we're rather territorial. I'll even admit, I've even had my fill of you guys, too-- but don't worry, I think they were mainly bandits or something," Juta tried to defend herself.
I was... well, I can't say I was surprised to learn she'd eaten people before. But it was kind of intimidating, to say the least. And here I was, helpless in her palm, and it made me uncomfortable to know that if she ever desired to, she could swallow me as well without much of a fight. And that's not to say much about the other ways she could end me, either. I felt a shiver dash up my spine, and it must have showed. Juta immediately tried to comfort me.
"D-don't think about that, Hector! I'm here to serve you, not eat you. Rest assured, no matter what threats present themselves to us, whether they be human, animal, or giantess, I will happily keep you safe... I swear," Juta announced, and she seemed severely honest about it. It was... comforting, to know I had her to look out for me now.
"Thank you, Juta," I replied, which in turn brought a smile to her lips. It was a simple enough statement to get my feelings across.
I didn't have any more questions, for the moment. Getting the image of being swallowed alive out of my head would prove to be a difficult task.
We sat in silence for about a minute.
"There is one more thing I want your opinion on," Juta asked out of the blue.
"Yes ma'am?" I replied with a bit of a startle.
"If we do run into any other humans..." she began to ask nervously, afraid to finish her question.
"Only if they're hostile," I answered. I knew traveling with a giantess would have its quirks. But I wasn't here to force her to change herself. If she wanted to eat humans, I wouldn't object unless they were non-combatants. I was glad to have a companion, but I didn't want to travel with a murderer. Even if a fight with human bandits was one-sided when they were against Juta, my conscience would stay clear if I told myself it was self defense when she would inevitably devour them.
"Yes, sir!" Juta announced, looking a bit relieved that she didn't need to hide her human cannibalism from me. I tried to imagine myself in her shoes, but couldn't. How can they eat people? People who speak, and have feelings? I guess I'd have just as easy a time asking a murderer why he slaughters other humans.
Juta carefully placed me back on the ground near her feet, and rose to her full height. I would have shielded my eyes from the sun, but she did a good enough job for me.
"So, where shall we head off to?" Juta asked me, as she finally began to re-armor herself. "We can't just set up camp here forever. I mean, unless that's what you desire, my lord Hector."
"Ha. I didn't peg you as the sarcastic type, Captain-of-the-Knights Juta," I japed back with a grin.
I waited for her to re-equip herself, though she elected to leave her helmet behind for some reason.
"That helmet was my badge of office to my queen. Leaving it behind is my way of saying I've found a new leader," Juta cheerfully explained to me. It was kind of charming to feel so... admired.
"Ahh..." I muttered with a newfound understanding, and looked back up to her. She still looked like a capable warrior with her ornate armor and saber at her side. Little did I know in that moment, that I was about to watch her in action.
I heard a squeal from behind me, somewhere a short distance away. We turned our attention towards the source of the noise, only to notice a wild boar was charging at us... or rather, me.
I was afraid, of course. Perhaps the boar saw Juta's metal boots and mistook them for inanimate buildings? It mattered not. Whether it knew Juta was my ally or not, it was very clearly charging at me. I hid behind Juta's boot, but I suppose that was an unnecessary course of action. Within a second, Juta had already drawn her weapon, and was in the process of swinging it down to the boar.
I watched it all happen, my mind was racing and it seemed like slow motion to me. Her blade swung in a downwards arc with immense force, swooshing the air around it. It landed directly on the boar's neck, no doubt a small target for her, and completely severed it, sending the head flying through her boots and past my head at 'break neck' speed. Dirt, blood, and a mangled boar body soared upwards, before falling down a few moments later as a macabre rain.
I shuddered. She did that on purpose. She could have just as easily stepped on the animal, or picked me up to bring me to safety. But instead, she used the opportunity to show me her keen swordsmanship. The battle was over in an instant, and it really drove the point home to me just how much more deadly she was than I ever would be, or any other human who ever lived or would live, for that matter.
As the dirt fell, the boar's body still had yet to fall, for it flew up much higher than the rest of the debris. With another clean and well-aimed swipe, she smacked it with the flat edge of her sabre, and sent it crashing into a huge tree trunk off to the side. She then sheathed her weapon, and looked down at me, her face engraved with the cruel grin of one who enjoys killing.
I... may have misjudged her. I still had no doubt in my mind that she desired to protect me, but her personality was entirely wild. One minute, she would be sweet, the next, sarcastic and bubbly, and now she was being a sadist.
"Threat eliminated, master Hector," Juta sang.
I was afraid of her again. I hoped to never face her wrath. I knew I'd be safe as long as she idolized me, so I prepared to suck-up to her rather than express my concerns about her violent tendencies.
"You're... pretty accurate with that sword, Juta," I praised her.
Juta's face lit up with glee. I guess she really did hinge upon my every word.
"It's crazy just knowing how you could have handled that boar even without a weapon, whereas I'd have been mauled even if I did have one, myself. Juta, you're an amazing ally and I'm glad to know I'll be traveling with such a powerful friend by my side!" I praised her some more.
Aaaaand here comes her hand. Whoops. Too much praise, I guess. I was then lifted up, straight to her face.
"Oh, Hector! You do me too much honor," Juta gushed, before grasping my tiny arm between two fingers and kissing my hand.
For a moment, my hand disappeared between her plush lips. It was an oddly satisfying experience. Perhaps one day I'd ask for a full-body experienc-- wait. What am I even saying? That I want to be lolled around in her mouth like a piece of candy to this titanic woman? Perhaps... that is a thought for another time. I didn't know I had such dark, submissive fantasies within me. Though I have no doubt she would oblige were I to ask it of her. I gazed into her purple eyes, which in turn beheld me with wonder. It was obvious that she was becoming enamored with me. Psychotic or no, she was still quite a beautiful maiden.
Once again, she tenderly sat me back on the ground when she was through with my hand. Perhaps I would nickname her 'Elevator' in my mind.
"Lead the way, sir," Juta encouraged me.
I turned around and scanned my surroundings. I had nowhere to go home to, and neither did she. I was in the midst of an enormous forest, which had been uncharted by man. A strange sense of wanderlust filled my heart at that moment. I would spend my nights mourning my past, and my days would be naught but exploration. And, if I ever desired a woman's touch, I was quite sure Juta would be more than willing to provide whatever I fancied. In a moment, I had turned from court healer to adventurer.
I wanted a bit of a heads up on where to head towards.
"Juta, can you do me a favor?" I asked.
"Absolutely!" Juta replied, overjoyed that I wasn't afraid of her after her vulgar display of power against the boar.
"I want you to hold me in the air as high as you can reach, so that I might better see the lay of the land," I explained, "just please don't let me fall."
"At once, my liege," Juta replied in a mock soldier tone.
Once again, I found myself being picked back up off the ground and held high aloft in the air. I guess life really does have its ups and downs. But this was at my own request, so I guess I had no room to complain. In the distance, I was able to make out three distinct clearings. One appeared to be a waterfall, one appeared to be a mass cemetery of some sort, and the last appeared to be an abandoned fort.
In my mind, the goal was clear. That fort would be my new castle. Childish as it seemed, who would tell me no? I no longer had a job, and my only remaining mission from my kingdom was to die. I'd run my idea past Juta and see what she thought about it.
"Okay Juta, I think I know where I'd like to head off towards, now," I yelled down like the spotter atop a pirate ship's mast.
Juta swiftly brought me down to her face, giving me a slight vertigo, but I knew she didn't mean anything by it.
"So?" she asked, expectantly. Perhaps she was eager for travel just like I was.
"I think I saw an old human castle," I explained and pointed, "perhaps we should check it out and make it our own?"
Juta seemed to agree, but got hung up on a small word I hadn't thought of.
"... Our's?" She asked me, incredulously.
"Yes, yes. Our's. We're a team, Juta. I want you to feel like you own what I own, much like I own your sword arm. We're outcasts to our former peers, so this way, we can be a little less lonely if we see ourselves as a separate entity. We'll name it Castle Jutor, a combination of our names. Catchy, huh?" I asked.
Juta's soft side showed itself, as she began to get emotional. I didn't realize just how starved for acceptance she was.
"...T-thank you, Hector," Juta breathed to me, before planting another kiss on me, except this time it encompassed my entire face and head. It was divine, in all honesty.
She then wordlessly sat me down, facing the correct direction. Probably a good thing, too, sense I had the beginnings of springing an erection from her kiss. Funny how that didn't happen earlier when she was completely nude.
~ ~ ~
We had traveled for awhile, not running into much of interest. Finally, Juta broke the silence.
"Hector? I need to, um... go relieve myself," she admitted with a touch of an embarrassed look on her face.
Funny. Where was this modesty earlier when she literally stripped in front of my eyes for nearly no reason?
"Very well," I conceded, "Where shall I take cover in the meantime until your return?"
Juta looked around, and eventually her eyes landed on a tree branch a slight bit above her head. I grew slightly sick at my stomach. I didn't much care for heights, but I only tolerated it because I knew Juta would keep me secure.
"How about here?" she pointed to the branch. Damn.
"... Alright, I suppose. But, please hurry, as I am scared of heights if you're not the one supporting me," I admitted as she lifted me up. I had to admit though, I would likely be safe up here from any predators on the ground.
Juta giggled upon hearing that.
"Aw, humans are so cute when they're afraid of heights," she casually deadpanned. Part of me wondered if she'd ever needed to use that phrase before.
"I'll be back in a little bit, please sit still," Juta replied before scurrying off into the dense woods all of a sudden.
I looked down to what appeared to be an ninety-foot drop, give or take. There was no way in Hell I would move from this spot.
Of course, I did have to pee, but there was another reason I wanted to leave Hector behind for a second. I noticed a lost human female a few minutes earlier, and I think I've finally found her.
I crept up to the human woman as best as I could, though it's hard to sneak in armor, as well as staying quiet when you're so damned huge in comparison to her.
She turned around to me, startled, and her horse reared itself, making her fall off. It attempted to dash off, but I swiftly kicked it to the side, causing the girl to scream in horror. I don't believe the horse died from the impact, but it may have a limp after this. Oh, how I've missed toying with humans. Hector meant a lot to me, but this woman should have known it would be suicide to travel in this forest alone.
"Nooo! Chestnut!" the girl sobbed before me and ran to her panicking horse's side.
"What is your business out here?" I demanded, as if I owned the place. I also didn't want any other women on my turf who might try to seduce my lord.
"I-I.. I... I'm looking for my brother, Hector! Our kingdom exiled him unjustly, but I know him better, so I thought maybe I could find him and take him hom--" the girl began to ramble, but I'd heard enough.
If what she was saying was true, and she'd come out here to search for her brother in hopes she could reclaim him, I wasn't about to have it. I knew he wouldn't abandon me, but bringing me back home with him would've caused too much trouble for us. Suddenly, a thought crossed my mind. What Hector didn't know wouldn't hurt him. As far as he knew, he would never see his family again. And he didn't know that this frail little thing ahead of me had even made it out this far. I wanted him all to myself, and so, I deemed this... girl to be troublesome.
"Go home," I said, "this is your only warning."
"B... but," the girl began to whimper before me, and stood her ground for a few moments longer. Perhaps it was due to the horse I'd incapacitated, but I didn't care. She could either leave it or wait for it to recuperate.
I began to walk away, hoping she would heed my advice. But, she insisted on pushing my buttons.
"But, h-have you seen my brother, though?" Hector's nameless sibling asked of me.
I spun on my heel and marched over, straight towards her. It must have been quite the intimidating sight, for she immediately cowered in fear. I then swept her up with my hand, because I needed to get the point across. She needed to give up.
"Hector is my prisoner now, but if you're so keen on joining him, I can escort you right to him," I threatened. I dangled the teen over my mouth, which I opened as wide as I could manage. I lowered her in without waiting for her reply, to which I received a lot of struggling and screaming.
"No, wait!--" she begged, before being silenced as I shut my jaws closed, trapping her inside.
I savored her flavor for a moment. Humans were always fun to torture. Her life was figuratively in my hands now, and whether she survived or not was entirely my call. I had half a mind to swallow her then and there, but Hector's one-condition popped back up in my mind.
I cannot eat non-combatants. Plus, she was related to him, too. I'm not sure which argument won me over in the end, but I decided to release her after taking my piss upon her horse. Something she would have to smell as she rode back home.
She quickly got the Hell out of here after my little charade. Now that she was sure Hector was digesting in my gut, his folks would write him off as deceased and give up the search. Hopefully.
Juta was sure taking her sweet time. But, I was effectively barred from wandering about on my own. I scooted my way over towards the tree's trunk to give myself something to lean on, and hold onto for safety.
I really, really, really felt uncomfortable up here. But as I was to soon find out, that would be the least of my troubles.
"Hector..." a muted, haunting voice called to me from down below.
I couldn't help myself. I looked down. You would think I'd be focused on the forest floor far below me, but nope. Something else met my eyes-- something had returned my gaze. Fortunately, I knew what it was from my arcane studies.
It was a specter. They were complicated beings to look at, since they appeared to move in time like a centipede, leaving a short trail of itself as it floated upwards to me. It was a glowing green apparition, mostly humanoid in appearance, save for having no legs or arms. I'd personally say the creepiest thing about it was that it had no natural eyes or mouth, instead in their place were black voids as dark in color like the night sky. Following protocol, I did not answer the demon. I valued not being possessed today and falling off a tree, thank you very much.
"Hector...?" the thing repeated itself, sounding unsure if it even had the correct name. Again, I gave it no reply. In an effort to spare myself the torment, I decided to shut my eyes and clutch the tree tightly for support. I knew it was powerless to interact with me unless I answered it, but... Damn, I was spooked.
Time passed. Maybe two minutes, tops. I didn't know if I was in the clear yet, but I braced myself.
I heard breathing in my ear. And soon after that...
"HECTOR!" the thing screamed at me. I almost lost my balance and fell to my death. Jesus Christ.
"Hey, Hector! Are you alright?" I heard Juta call from not too long of a distance away, although it didn't take her long to reach me.
I opened my eyes. I was alone, again. It was safe to speak, as this particular spirit was documented to be incapable of mimicry.
"Yes, ma'am, I'm okay. Had a bit of a run-in with a ghost before you got back," I explained.
"Really? I've never met one, myself. I'm sorry I left you here," Juta apologized, and lowered her head. She seemed quite stressed over it.
"It's... um, it's okay," I soothed her, "I, uh... dealt with it."
Juta looked back up to me and smiled again.
"Ready to come down, then?" she asked, already lifting her hand preemptively.
"... Please, if you would," I replied, trying to put on a brave front. Next time I'd rather she bring me along with her, even if I have to turn the other way.
~ ~ ~
We were nearing our destination now, after what felt like half an hour to me. Juta and I hid behind the tallest tree we could locate on the outskirts of the fortress.
It looked grander than I originally thought, though the ancient thing had seen some wear and tear. Much to my dismay, there were telltale signs of habitation about.
"Looks like it's occupied," I examined, sharing my worries with Juta, "Humans. Maybe bandits, or nomads."
She wasn't in the least bit concerned.
"... So what?" she replied, "Unless they've got two or three giantesses on their side, which I really doubt, I say we wouldn't have much trouble taking the place over. Actually, I hope they put up a bit of a tussle. I'm hungry."
I forgot about that. Her... bloodlust. But was I really fine, just walking up in there and claiming myself king? Did I have the right? Though, somehow, I doubt they had the right to claim that place, either. They likely weren't even the ones that built it.
After staking out for a few more moments, we spotted the first inhabitant. Everything about him screamed that he was an outlaw. I guess it was too much to hope for to see civilized folks way out here away from society.
"Should we go together? Or do you want to head in alone and let them think they've got the upper-hand, so I can swoop in and rough them up?" Juta proposed to me.
What kind of question was that, anyways? I wanted to avoid bloodshed, I was a gosh-darn Healer, after all!
"Um... let's just go in, together. If they resist, do what you see fit to get them to obey. If they all resist, well... Just don't confuse me with one of them, please," I whispered, half shocked at my own words, myself. I sounded like an evil mastermind, but out here, there were no laws anymore. I just wanted a place to sleep. Perhaps none of these strategies would even be needed, and they were just a bunch of farmers with plenty of food to spare.
"Let's go," Juta encouraged me.
She didn't have me in her hand during our approach, as she felt like it would subtract from my role as a leader. Instead, she looked like an enormous bodyguard, which, she technically was.
When the bandit lookout got sight of us, he pointed at Juta. Was it in fear? Perhaps we would escape this without a fight, I silently prayed to myself.
Then, they poured out. All two of them. Two.
They both looked pretty fearsome, though, at the end of the day, they were just humans. They could probably screw me up to the Moon and back, but Juta would be an impossible enemy to deal with.
"What's the meaning of this!?" the bulkier man demanded in what sounded like a pirate captain's tone. He looked unafraid of both me and Juta. Come to think of it, neither of them did.
I decided to just tell them my plans. It wasn't like there was anything they could do about it, anyways.
"I'm the King of the Forest, and this is my queen," I gestured to Juta who immediately blushed and looked away, "and we've come to claim this castle as our own. Please vacate your belongings, as we don't want any trouble."
It was a bit dramatic, but I didn't feel like beating around the bush.
The two men glanced at each other, and busted out laughing.
"You and what army?" the slimmer looking one demanded.
Juta merely cleared her throat, and stared them down.
"A giantess? Is that all? Do you know how many of them I've killed in my time, boy?" the bigger one spoke up, before walking over to a boulder several times his height.
He yelled rather loudly, and punched it with his bare fist. It split in half. I have to say, it scared me shitless.
"Now... how about you two--" the began to taunt us, before getting crushed into the Earth with a swift strike of Juta's boot. I saw him raise his hands in defense before it happened, but her foot didn't stop, not even for a split second. Unless he was made of diamond, I really doubted he would have survived that.
And, to confirm my suspicions, his partner looked mortified.
"K... Kethro!" he screamed to the heavens, agonized over his partner's instantaneous defeat.
The remaining man reached down, and unbound what appeared to be leg weights on his ankles. Once they hit the ground, they made a small dent. How heavy were they, anyways? And is this the level of physical strength that it took to survive out here?
The man readied his fists, and took a crouching stance.
"You'll... you'll pay for that! I'm going to bash your face in!" the nameless warrior declared, before leaping off the ground with amazing speed, like a flea.
I'm going to break her nose, and pummel her before she can recover! The Flea thought to himself, midflight.
The moment before he was about to make contact with Juta's face, she merely opened her mouth rather casually. He yelled briefly, and flew right inside. I watched my ally in fascination. Within a matter of seconds, she had secured his arms between her lips, and pressed on them, snapping the bones. I couldn't hear the man scream since his head and the rest of his body was still in her mouth, but almost immediately after breaking his arms, she wasted no time, and proceeded to swallow him alive.
I've got to admit, I cringed a bit at my knight's prowess when she made eye contact with me. She gave me a knowing-smirk.
"It almost makes me wonder how they ever managed to kill any other giantesses, actually. Maybe they were like, assassins or something? Relying on stealth?" Juta joked.
I was a bit intimidated by her at that point, so I just laughed it off with her. If men like that had no chance against Juta... then... well, let's just say I was glad she liked me so much.
We then both turned to face our prize-- Fort Jutor. It would take a little bit of cleaning up, but I was ready to embrace my new life out here in the forest.