For the week it took to get the capital I had been trying to work out why the Empress wanted to see me. A summons from her out of the blue rarely boded well, but I couldn’t think of anything I had done to displease her recently. Taxes had been collected in full and sent on time, my subjects – and therefore hers – were happy, and I had even sent the men-at-arms when she asked last year. Then again she had a reputation for being capricious and a little cruel, and this might just be a reminder that she is the one in charge.
After climbing the last steps to the Empress’s antechamber I straightened my clothes and looked at the room, empty of people except for a single elf sitting behind a desk. “Can I help you?” the major domo asked with a musical voice. I held my summons forward so that the imperial seal was clearly visible, as intact as possible after I had broken it to read the message. She dropped the quill she had been writing with and walked around the desk to meet me.
The empress’s major domo was about half a head taller than me despite being an elf, with long, dirty blond hair tucked behind both of her sharply pointed ears. There was not even a crease on her pale, almost porcelain skin, and her wide, expressive green eyes studied me intently while she approached. The hot summer explained the short, loose red tunic she wore, and her brown leather boots clicked solidly on the flagstones.
Her delicate hand took the missive out of mine, and she briefly scanned it before pulling it to her chest. “Wait here while I inform the Empress of your arrival,” she said, then turned away. I was hoping I could discern something from her reaction, but alas she, like most of her kind, was a blank slate in social situations. I watched the door close behind her, hoping I could glean some sort of body language, but she had such excellent control of her body I was still in the dark when the double doors clicked shut.
Without any hints I looked to the room around me for what I could expect. The empty waiting room was hardly anything to go on: she might have cleared her schedule so that she could thoroughly reprimand me, or to give a large window for a social call. Besides, it was the summer, and most petitioners and lords had business back on their estates. I got no help from the major domo’s desk either. She kept it as neat and meticulously clean as herself, with only the Empress’s appointment book open and a few pieces of correspondence covered well. All the other ledgers were closed and slid into place on the shelf beside her.
The door opened again, giving me a start, and hard leather clicked down a series of flagstones. “Baron, the Empress will see you now,” the major domo said. Still nothing. She went back to her spot behind the desk while I ascended the few steps up to the throne room. I took a deep breath and opened the door, slid inside, and closed it behind me.
The Empress lazily lounged in the seat of her throne, her back rolling over one arm of the chair while her legs draped over the other. A pair of black leather heels swayed back and forth, heels bumping against the gilded frame of the throne when they came back, the garter of her silk hose plainly visible midway up her thighs due to her dark purple skirt falling in a puddle on the floor. A leather tunic, dyed dark purple as well, clung to her shapely form, hundreds of steel rivets making it into makeshift armor. Her long purple cape flowed onto her seat and then the floor, leaving her powerful arms bare. Auburn hair dangled halfway to the floor despite being secured by her platinum tiara, and her calculating blue eyes regarded me curiously while her pink lips smirked.
“Ah, the Baron of Arstium!” the Empress called out with her powerful voice. “How good of you to answer my summons so promptly! Please, come closer so that we can speak.” She was known as an established and talented commander, and had been leading armies in the field from the time she was sixteen until as recently as last year, and her strong voice was just another element of her commanding presence. Even were she not the Lady of my Realm by divine right I had little doubt I would follow her orders.
Her few summer attendants watched me carefully while I strode into the throne room, though I couldn’t fathom why they paid me such close attention: if I meant her any harm I would be subdued before any of them could get to me, snapped in half by the Empress herself. I tried not to let the silence get to me as I drew closer, her bemused expression weighing heavily on my psyche. Finally, when I was only a few paces from the throne, I bent over and knelt on the carpet. “Empress Fulda, it is my pleasure to serve and be in your presence,” I said, as was expected.
“Oh, get up!” she commanded, and I immediately complied. “We have a lot to discuss, and I don’t want to be bogged down by meaningless court procedure.” As a gesture to put us on equal footing she stood as well and looked over me to her attendants. “Leave us be!” she demanded, clapping her hands twice. When the echo subsided she continued, “I will let you know when you may re-enter.” The crowd by the door bowed and exited, leaving the two of us alone. The first solid good sign, I thought: if she invited me here to punish me, she would want an audience.
The final component of her commanding presence was Empress Fulda’s immense frame. Years of fighting her own battles had given her a warrior’s physique, and she had the good fortune of having a height to match. On even ground I had to crane my neck back significantly to look at her: she was more than head and shoulders taller than me. In truth I barely came up to her chest. She relished in it, though, and had a habit of using her nearly Amazonian stature to intimidate the other party in negotiations.
Having made her physical dominance clear, the Empress sat back on her throne, crossed one leg over the other, and gripped the arm rests. “So, Baron, how was your trip?” she asked. “I trust the Imperial rations we provided kept you well-fed throughout the journey?”
This little pleasantry threw me for a loop, usually she liked to get right to business. “Yes, Empress, they were exactly as I would expect from the crown.”
She smiled. “Good, we’re glad to hear it.” The Empress took a moment to shift in her seat, leaning heavily on one arm. “Let’s get to business, since we hardly have to tell you our time is valuable. Why do you think we summoned you here when, frankly, you would be better off at home supervising your laborers?”
Suddenly I found my mouth had gone dry, leaving me nothing to gulp no matter how hard I tried. “I haven’t the faintest idea of your motives, Empress,” I finally said. “I was hoping you could enlighten me.”
“We can help each other then,” she replied coyly. “We were hoping you could enlighten us to the sorry state of affairs in Arstium and explain why it has taken such a dramatic turn since you took over.” I must have looked puzzled, since she continued. “There are several items we’ve been meaning to discuss with you, such as the lightest tax carts by far in the entire empire, your poor excuse for troops that you send for levy, and the first bandit raid on an interior province in over two decades. We have dispatched several letters asking for explanations and only gotten excuses back, so we were hoping you would be disinclined to weasel through a face to face conversation.”
All of this was news to me. “Empress, I must say I was unaware of any of these problems, but please let me explain.”
“Adding idiocy to your incompetence hardly helps your case, Baron, but please continue.” She leaned forward a little more, adding some pressure. I began to sweat and suddenly became light-headed, delaying my response further. When the feeling finally passed everything in the room somehow seemed… bigger. “Well?” the Empress insisted. The feeling returned, but I resolved to fight through it. This meeting would go very poorly for me indeed if I kept getting sidetracked by some medical issue.
“Empress, the taxes have been light because…” This was a hell of a time to have a fog rolling through my brain. “Because taxable activity has been down. Compared to just five years ago we have been issuing just over half the amount of legal documents, registrations, travel permits. Furthermore…” This vertigo was going to be the death of me if I couldn’t get a single thought out. “Furthermore, after two bad summers commerce has been down, and… and we haven’t even been able to get a cut of those transactions.”
“Baron, are you quite all right?” The Empress asked, glaring down at me. I found this curious, since just a few minutes ago she hadn’t been taller than me while sitting. Now, though, she was nearly a head taller than me on her throne.
“I must confess, Empress, that I don’t feel well.”
“Good.” She gave a slight grin before continuing. “We also have a confession. The rations you have been eating for the past week were tainted, intentionally. In order to ensure your honesty and accountability, a royal wizard was instructed to geas you through them. Each time you make an excuse or we are displeased, you will shrink a little.”
I tugged at my collar, hoping it would alleviate my light-headedness despite what she just said. “How… how small am I going to get?” I asked.
She chuckled, and I felt my head get foggy again. “That depends entirely on you, doesn’t it?” the Empress leaned in closer, as though speaking conspiratorially. “If you’re honest and we like what you have to say you can walk out of here no smaller than you are now. It may shock my major domo to see you like that, but we don’t expect any other fallout. However, if you make a bunch of lame excuses and we don’t like it, you may end up lost in the carpet here. We imagine that would be quite a shock for her as well, don’t you?” The Empress leaned back on her throne to resume lounging. “Now, you were explaining how a drought we never heard of before is to blame for your poor taxes?”
“Yes, Empress.” I was too deep into this to change course now, despite the consequences. “We have had particularly dry summers for several years, but they were just recently bad enough to affect our yields. People have been hoarding their crops for their own use, and without trade there has been significantly less commerce to tax, in addition to a tremendous drop-off of permits for travel, booths, storage, and the like, which has taken another chunk out of your revenues.”
The Empress considered this while she grew in my view, scaling up until I was just level with her stomach. “If this were a real problem, Baron, we should have heard of it before now. Not only do we have a large amount of skilled wizards who can correct the weather, we have civil construction teams capable of building aqueducts that we would have been more than pleased to send your way before it got this bad. As for your peasants hording grain I shouldn’t have to tell you that’s what the garrison is for, but we’ll be getting to that presently. Why are your troops always the first to rout and last to mobilize?”
I could scarcely focus on the Empress in front of me, let alone form a coherent explanation, due to the prevalent fog in my brain. Several times I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs out, and took a deep breath to calm myself. “Today, while you’re young,” she demanded, only making the problem worse.
By the time I had something collected enough to say I was down to her knees. “Without revenues coming in, Empress, my forces have been in shambles.”
“Step forward,” the Empress commanded. “Your voice is getting small and difficult to hear.”
I complied, coming closer until I could nearly touch her knees. “Is this better, Empress?” I asked, looking up at her.
“Yes, for now. Please, continue. You were blaming taxes, and thereby the climate, for another one of your ills?”
With that her knees were above my head, but I had to continue. “Without anything to pay the soldiers it’s nearly impossible to get anyone to stay beyond their initial commitment, and we can afford only middling arms and armor at best. With no veterans to train them, even the longest-serving recruit is effectively green when called up. Not only are they ineffective in combat I fear they would get slaughtered if putting down a revolt, or worse join them.”
The Empress’s mirth had long since fled, her face locked in an iron scowl. “We would greatly appreciate if your excuses, ill-founded as they may be, did not also reveal your vast incompetence and unawareness of your situation. You act as though you are sovereign of a petty kingdom rather than a ruler in the greatest empire to ever grace this planet. If you are having difficulty getting quality weapons and armor the Imperial armory will provide, and we could easily find a legion rotating home to train with your men. All you have to do is send a message to me.”
“But Empress, I did, and-“
She unlocked her legs, letting the previously dangling one slam to the floor. The crash from her stomp cut me off and echoed throughout the throne room for several seconds. When the rattle finally subsided I looked up to see her peering over her knees at me, fury burning in her blue eyes. “We are not accustomed to being either contradicted or interrupted by someone of such miniscule importance as yourself.” Her voice was a loud rumble by this point, and my insides shook with each syllable she spoke. “If you had sent any such request I would have received it and you would be given some leniency.” She swung one leg back over the other, letting her foot dangle in the air. “Now, I suppose the raids can also be traced back to your poor weather?”
I had been having trouble concentrating before, and the impact from her foot had rattled me more. Trying to focus, I looked up and tried to find bearing in the Empress’s eyes. There was enough fury to latch onto, mentally I had trouble moving past the gentle curve of her calf in plain view. It was unlikely I was much taller than her ankle at this point, and the longer I delayed the smaller I would get. The only way out would be to tell her exactly what happened, no matter how distasteful it would be for me.
“As for the raids, Empress, I-“
“Baron, if you’re going to speak with such a small voice we will have to assume you are conspiring against us. Come closer.”
I stepped forward until I was about even with the tip of her shoe. “Is this better, Empress?”
The features of her face wiggled back and forth as if she was processing it. “A little, but not quite. Step forward a little more and you should be good.”
Nervously I inched forward until I was standing next to the ball of her foot, and I realized that the heels of her shoes were almost as tall as me. “How about now?”
“Yes, we can hear even your tiny voice that close. So please, tell us how the raids were anyone’s fault but yours.”
“I really hate to say it Empress, but-“ She unhooked her legs again, sending her dangling foot barreling toward me. I froze while it raced down, the smooth leather blocking out my view. Just before it crushed me, however, the Empress’s enormous foot diverted an inch to the left, slamming into the floor beside me. The crash left me dazed and my ears ringing, and its impact pulsed through the ground like an earthquake. While I stumbled on the shaking ground I fell onto the Empress’s shoe for support, the only steady structure within arm’s reach.
“Get. Off. Our. Shoe,” the Empress growled, her voice a menacing rumble on its own. Panicking I pushed off, sending myself stumbling back so as to not risk escalating the situation. Once I was clear her foot minutely wiggled back and forth while she slung her other leg over it. “Adjusting to get more comfortable does not give you the privilege of touching us, understand?” Her foot swung back and forth idly while she let the words sink in. “Now, I won’t ask again. The raids.”
Nothing in my head worked right. My ears were ringing loud enough that I could barely even hear her over it, spots were in my eyes, and I could barely even remember my own name, let alone anything about any raids. Rather than concocting any story, I figured I should be as honest as possible given the circumstances. “Empress, I… this is the first I’m hearing of them.”
Her muscles tensed, and I expected her to smash me at any moment. She looked past her knees down at me and I saw the rage smoldering in her clear blue eyes. “Do you mean to say that people have been attacking caravans and settlements in your territory and you have absolutely no knowledge of it?”
My mouth was dry and the only thing I could focus on was her rapidly growing. “Yes, Empress.”
“We’ve been getting these notices for months, Baron, and this is the absolute first you’re hearing about them?”
The Empress’s shoes alone towered over me, to say nothing of her. “Yes, Empress,” I repeated.
There was a flash of movement when her hand swept down, then darkness. I felt as though I was about to turn inside out from the force of being grabbed, then lifted so rapidly. When her hand stopped I felt my stomach rush up as though it were trying to escape my body, then everything settled to the throbbing headache and ringing ears as before.
Empress Fulda uncurled her fingers, and I could see again. The only thing I could see, however, was the Empress’s enormous face looming over me, her well-shaped aquiline nose itself twice my size. She was universally regarded as among the most beautiful women of the empire, and such proximity and size did little to dispel that notion. However, she had clearly taken a moment to calm herself, since behind her placid expression I could see her fuming.
“Baron of Arstium,” she began, her voice easily overpowering the latent ringing in my ears. Her voice had enough force to shake my bones and make my teeth chatter. “Over the course of this inquiry you have proven yourself incapable of ruling over your land. Frankly, we wouldn’t trust you to rule over our right shoe, since that has overwhelmed you multiple times in the past few minutes.”
I wanted to ask questions, but that would only make my situation somehow worse. Instead I let her continue with her monologue.
“The question becomes, then, what do we do with you? Admittedly it would be funny to send you on your way and watch you try to get Arstium back into order following this. The sight of an inch-tall Baron issuing orders about taxes and defense policy greatly amuses us, especially when some noblewoman gets annoyed and crushes you. But we can’t risk that. If by some miracle you didn’t get smashed and you did get things in order, we would have to compete with an inch-high tyrant nursing a grudge against us. Granted we would simply settle that with a trial by combat, but that would be such an inconvenience.”
The Empress’s other hand swooped in and roughly plucked me off her palm between her thumb and forefinger. “So we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve done perfectly and skip right to the trial by combat. You can use anything you have on you to defend yourself. My weapon of choice is my thighs.”
She began lowering me toward her waist while I struggled to get free of her vice-grip around me. “Empress, please!” I pleaded, unable to move a muscle. “Give me one more chance, send me back to Arstium and I’ll get things working again!” Her hand lowered me past the imperial insignia and showed no sign of stopping.
The Empress chuckled, more of a terrifying rumble to me as I descended along her chest. “Weren’t you paying attention?” she asked. “We’re assuming you’ve done that and come back for revenge.”
“I have no reason to get revenge on you though!” I protested. “I’ve never wavered in my fidelity to you or the empire, and would relish the opportunity to serve you further!”
“Admittedly there are other stations where you could still serve us,” the Empress answered, lifting the bottom of her tunic. “My major domo could use a toy to play with when it’s slow, and sometimes we could use a shoe attendant.” She worked a finger into her hose, lifting it to create an opening. “But there will be other lousy administrators in the future to fill those roles, and we doubt you’d even do a passable job at them.”
Her digits shifted to hold me more delicately, and with a firm press from her index finger she slid me into her hose. The Empress eased the opening shut, trapping me against her thigh. I struggled to get free while she ran her long fingers over me, pressing the silk flat against me. She pressed down, muffling my screams when her finger passed over my face, and when she was done I was up to my neck in her silk hose.
Nonchalantly the Empress replaced the skirt of her tunic, covering me with an enormous leather tarp. Struggling to get free had only further enmeshed me in her hose, and I found myself stuck in the shimmering garment against her thigh. I looked toward her knees at the small amount of light spilling into this tunnel, studying the curves of her cultivated quads. The strength from her time as a warrior was still apparent all over her body, and I would have been powerless to resist even at full size.
Down the length of her leg I saw one knee lift up and purposefully cross over the other. The Empress’s opposite thigh hovered over me briefly before it descended again while she hooked her legs together. Her powerful thigh set down atop me, smushing me between her legs.
Immediately the heat spiked, and I broke out into a sweat again. I struggled against it, but my arms were held firm by her silk hose. Even if they hadn’t been, her powerful thighs made it impossible for me to do any more than wiggle my fingers. Opening my mouth to scream was out of the question. So was breathing, for that matter: her thigh weighed so heavily on my chest my lungs couldn’t expand. Desperately I struggled for breath, only to get a mouth full of her flesh. Spots appeared on the edge of my vision, barely discernible in the pitch black between her thighs, and I felt faint. In a few more moments I would suffocate and be free.
Before that could happen, the Empress lifted her thigh off me and set it down with a dull thud on her throne. Involuntarily I gulped in air, even though it was like hot desert wind and tasted thoroughly of her flesh. I was still gasping when her knee raised and her thigh began to slide over again, and I took a deep breath just before impact.
It turned out not to help, since when the Empress’s massive thigh set down atop me all the air was forced out of my lungs. Reflexively I tried to suck in air again, only to find that again the only thing that went into my mouth was her ample skin. The temperature quickly rose, and between her body heat and the silk hose I was soon lying in a pool of my own sweat. It wasn’t enough to lubricate me to get free, however, since the crushing weight of her powerful thigh held me firmly in place.
I felt myself drifting off when a series of strong vibrations ran though the muscle around me. “You’re not the first administrator to fail us, and you won’t be the last,” the Empress said, her words mostly conveyed to me by the vibrations through her body. “The same goes for men we’ve shrunk like this. Most people don’t notice, but our throne room is lined with jars filled with petty tyrants and kings that we’ve subjugated. Magic sustains them as long as we live so that they can watch helplessly as we rule over their lands. It’s a fitting punishment, don’t you think?”
The Empress must have sensed I was on the verge of passing out, since once more she lifted her thigh from me and set it down with a crash. “Our lands our great, and there are over a dozen of them,” she continued while I rushed to get air back into my lungs. “Aside from them, we’ve lost count of the people we’ve shrunk. Sometimes we do release them back to their fiefdoms and wait for the inevitable message that they were crushed under some hapless woman’s shoe. Others we leave in the throne room or take to our bedchambers for a game later. Our major domo has gotten more than a few toys from me, but she usually breaks them in a week or two. Once we even invited a mayor for an audience and snacked on his whole village while he watched before we smashed him.”
I began to feel somewhat normal while she was talking, and my breathing almost returned to its steady pace. However, the vibrations from her voice had an unintended consequence: every couple of syllables my dick twitched a little. Somehow, the sheer power of the Empress’s voice was turning me on. Without anything to rub it I had no idea what to do with it, so all I could do was lie there helplessly while the Empress contributed to my erection.
Her knees shifted again, and the Empress’s titanic thigh loomed over me. She set it down roughly, dragging it along her leg and smushing me further into her skin. Immediately the heat shot up again, and I gritted my teeth through the rib-crushing pressure. “We did think about sending you back to Arstium with an imperial writ and seeing how long you made it before getting crushed, but with your record you just might survive long enough to make a real mess of it before we had to come and crush you ourselves.”
The temperature raised a few degrees, and the muscles above and below me tensed. “We were also very close to letting you become throne room vermin, but do you know why we decided against that?” Two of my ribs cracked, sending me into an agony I couldn’t even thrash against while trapped between the Empress’s mighty thighs. “Our major domo has a tendency of finding ‘bugs’ when she enters and stepping on them.” Her muscles flexed, and I grimaced as four more ribs snapped beneath the pressure.
“It turns out, we wanted the joy of crushing you ourselves.” With that her muscles surged, and I let out a muffled yelp as pain exploded throughout my body. It lasted no more than an instant before I expired though, crushed between the Empress’s thighs just before I asphyxiated.
The Empress unhooked her legs and lifted the skirt of her tunic to surmise the damage. To her delight there was nothing left of the Baron aside from his smashed, unrecognizable remains and a small red splotch on her otherwise perfect skin. Quickly she grabbed a handkerchief and cleaned up the tiny corpse between her legs and folded it, then walked to the door of the throne room. She cracked it enough to stick her head through and said, “Our business is finished, you may re-enter.” Then she held out the soiled handkerchief to her major domo. “Llelwyn, dispose of this, he left a disgusting mess behind when he left. Without hesitating she grabbed the cloth holding the Baron’s tiny corpse and whisked it away while the Empress walked back to resume lounging on her throne.