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A Charmed Life
Coal White

Tor sighed as she adjusted her injured leg for the umpteenth time. She was seated in front of the low fire she had made to take the bite out of the evening air. The human that had become her pet was sitting next to her, finishing off a bit of the trail mix crumbs she had given him. At first he had refused and started to argue, claiming he was above eating crumbs and all but demanding some of her jerky. One dark look, though, quickly shut him up. Now, he was mulishly chewing on the crumbs that were no longer identifiable to the giantess.

Her violet eyes darted to the mustang that was still tied to the tree. Her lips pursed in thought. The stallion had regained his energy and was fighting the lead that was securely tied to a strong limb. She wouldn't say there was no way for him to get free, but it was highly unlikely. For now, she would leave him alone. She wouldn't feed him tonight, either. He was too worked up to appreciate anything at this point, anyway. Perhaps it was a little cruel to not give him anything, but it would certainly make him easier to work in the morning. She groaned at the thought of riding out the morning buck session that was sure to come. Her legs were already chafed. After tomorrow, they would be worse. When she got back home, she was going to rip her brothers a new one then take a long, hot bath.

“Hey, Tor!  Yoo-hoo, Tooor!” Blessed silence reigned. “Tor!” And then it was broken.

With a growl, she turned to look down at the tiny human that was tapping her bandaged. “What?!” she snapped. "Can't you see it's bandaged? That means it was injured and you shouldn't touch it!" Was he really this stupid? Maybe she should have just left him to the other humans.

Eric cowed at the tongue lashing. He remained silent for a minute. "My apologies. I was just trying to get your attention."

Tor snorted. "Whatever. What did you want?"

"I was just wondering, where do giants originally come from?" he asked. "There is the well-known creation story for humans. But I have never heard one about giants."

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? 'Where do giants come from?' Where do humans come from? And the correct term for my race is Elders. If you call one of us a giant, you’re practically begging to be crushed."

Eric's brows met in the middle as he thought. “What do you mean where do humans come from? The Creator made them. That should be obvious.”

Her lips twitched in annoyance. She was having inklings of regret for taking on this particular human. “Yes, and the Creator made Elders before he made humans. Humans are just a miniature copy of us.” She stopped talking, thinking that particular conversation at an end. Her mind once more drifted to just how on Earth she was going to get back on Idiot. Maybe the old rock in the ear? 

Eric frowned as she once more slipped into thought. Yanking on the hem of her shorts, studiously avoiding her injury, he called up to her. “Where did you get your information from? Giants are just lumbering copies of humans. Not the other way around.” He yelped and stumbled away from her hand until his back hit the side of her knee. He couldn't take his eyes from the fingers that were ready to flick the living daylights out of him. The foolish boy gulped as her finger hovered right in front of his face. His green eyes darted up to her cold violet ones. I am about to die, he thought.

“You had better learn to hold your tongue when in the presence of those who could kill you in less than a heartbeat,” she hissed through clenched teeth. “Don’t you ever, ever call my people ‘lumbering.’ We are older than your race, though probably not by much. We have kept records of our lives, and yours, from almost day one. And let me tell you something, human, your people didn’t even think of creating civilizations, governments or any inventions until my people either showed you or you found out our secrets.” She was pleased with the absolute fear she could see in his eyes. Still, it wasn’t enough for him to be scared. She was, after all, being nice about the slur he had used. Her brothers would have killed him before he could open his mouth to apologize.

“You, you little snot, don’t know jack squat. Your history is so messed up due to the immense pride your race has, you don’t know fact from fiction. So, let me tell you so you can be one of the educated few among the human race. Elders created fire. One sweet Elder girl found a half-frozen human male and brought him to the cave where she was staying. Leila, her name was, put him by her fire and warmed him up, saving his life. When he was coherent and better, he stuck around until he learned to create fire. Then, he took it back to his little camp and showed his family and friends and who knows what. They took the story and said he stole the ember from an Elder’s fire and brought it back. That is how you were taught humans created fire, wasn’t it?”  

The young man nodded slowly, afraid any sudden movements would goad her into flicking, and therefor killing, him.  “So,” he said quietly, “my whole history is a lie?”  

Tor's hand retreated as she relaxed her fingers.  “No,” she said after a moment, "not entirely. The underlying message—that your life was based upon that of the Elders’—is true. You young ones,” Eric scowled at the depreciating nickname given to his race by the Elders, “are so… so… boastful, so prideful, that everything has to be done your way or it’s wrong. Even the history of our peoples! You humans came first. You are the originals, not the copies. At least, that’s what you want everyone to believe.”

Eric paused for a minute before speaking. “That gian—err.. Elder—didn’t attack our camps, did it?”

Tor’s face grew thunderous. “No. My great-grandfather did not attack your camps. You humans stormed our lands and he was chosen to go as an envoy of peace. He was wearing white and carrying the flag of truce. You little pipsqueaks outnumbered us because you didn’t care how many brats you made or how damaged your lands were becoming. You just wanted bigger of everything because we were bigger. So, you took your massive armies, tied his legs together, toppled him and slew him before a single Elder could reach for their lance.  My family still grieves. My grandmother never knew her father and my great-uncle never had a real male role model to look up to. To his dying day, he was filled with bitterness over his father’s death. He was the one who taught my father, who taught his sons, to hate humans.”

“The one Elder’s anger roused an entire community to fight?” whispered the pale looking boy. “Your people…they marched to our armies and … all but decimated us. Of those who weren’t killed straight away, worse fates were in store for them. Eating them alive, chewing, boiling, baking them alive. Gnawing off joint by joint, toe by toe, finger by finger, then crushing their windpipe just enough to where they suffocated in the sheer terror of your stomachs. Using the men as means of sexual relief. The five who escaped where the damndest, luckiest of them all.”

“My people are peaceful. But our anger is fierce when roused.” The young woman’s searing gaze bored into the tiny human by her leg.

Silence pervaded the camp for the rest of that evening. When Tor stretched out on the rain slicker she had pulled from her saddle bags, Eric curled up in the joint of her knee. As the night wore on, he was constantly awakened by the hoots of an owl, the scurrying of the mice and the general night noises that seemed so much larger and more threatening then when he was safely behind his father's walls.

Doubt and regret invaded his mind. What had he done? Why had he subjected himself to a life of servitude just to avoid a punishment? Perhaps he was a coward. If so, he was not fit to one day rule or lead. No one needed a coward for a prince, let alone a lord. Then it was just as well that those options were closed to him now. He was a pet. No longer a free man. Eric could only hope he would be a cherished pet, not a neglected one.

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