Saturday, December 22, 2018

Duty Calls



Duty Calls

copyright 2017 Taedis

“That was my mother's sword,” Ressadriand looked down at the pitted piece of steel and hilt in her gauntleted hand. “Whoever heard of an acid breathing dragon anyway?”

At least it hadn't been too big, she thought. It barely came up to her chin on its tip toes. Couldn't have been more than six … seven hundred years old. Hardly an ancient Wyrm, but old enough to know better. Dragons didn't have the best record against knights in shining armor. Those numbers got exponentially worse when the knight was a giant.

But right not that shining armor was heavy and hot and that lake looked big enough for Ressadriand to get a good soak. Ressadriand tossed the useless sword aside and started the slow process of removing her heavy plate.

She was enjoying her bath when she caught a flash of movement out of the slim part of her eye. Something smaller than a dragon bobbled along the edge of the beach not quite breaking the surface of the tree line.


When she got a good look at it with the whole of her eye she recognized it as one of her gauntlets stumbling among the trees fingers pointed to the sky. It almost looked like it was waving to her.

“I don't remember you ever doing anything like that before,” she spotted tiny feet under the gauntlet's steel skirt. “What's gotten into you?”

The gauntlet froze where it was and tried to look as nonchalant as it could. Ressadriand didn't need to leave her bath to just reach over and pick it up, though she was careful to turn it over so its occupant wouldn't fall out on the long climb to her face.

Her first sight of him was the bottom of his bare feet. By the time he flipped himself around she'd managed to ditch the grin and look at him with a straight face.

“Giantess.”

“Human.” 

His tone was awestruck; hers bemused.

“Did you slay the dragon?”

“I drove him off. Don't worry, he won't bother your village again. At least not until he's picked up another size category.”

The giant knight poured the human into her hand and tossed the gauntlet across the forest to where the rest of her armor lay. The tiny man stood there on her palm, silent for an awkwardly long time.

“Was there anything else?” she asked.

“The village elders wanted me to let you know that the whole village is grateful for what you've done for us.”

“That's very polite of them.”

Verygrateful,” he made an expression to emphasize what he was saying.

“Your point?”

“Grateful, but poor.”

“You're dancing so close to the point you could shave with it.”

“Look, ma'am. We don't have any gold to give you. The only livestock we have is named Carla and her milk isn't so good. And I'm guessing her meats probably pretty gamey.”

“I'm a Knight of the Southern Order; preserving life is my reward.”

“I tried to tell the elders that, but they insisted that we had to get you something.”

“What?”

The human spread his arms wide open. It took Ressadriand a moment to realize what he meant.

“You can't be serious?” she said.

“I wish I weren't. The elders figured that since the dragon wanted a maiden that you'd like something similar. And since you're a giantess ...”

“Giant,” she interrupted. “I'm a giant who happens to be female. You wouldn't call your mother a 'humaness' would you?”

“Not to her face.”

“Good. Now get back to the incredibly objectionable thing you were telling me.”

“Seeing as you're a giant … lady the elders thought that maybe you'd like a human ...”

“Sacrifice?” she spat out the word, catching the little man in some of the wet crossfire.

“The term was bandied about. Too much.”

“Is that why you're wearing that white robe?”

“Muriel was going to wear it for the dragon,” he admitted. “Apparently, I'm her size.”

“I'm not a dragon. I have a civilized intelligence and a deep respect for all sentient life. I'm not eating you, crushing you, or roasting you over a fire. I don't do sacrifices.”

“You're preaching to the choir on that one, Ma'am,” he said. “The thing is the elders have a pretty broad definition of sacrifice.”

“Exactly how broad?”

“I think the exact quote went something like, 'Let the giantess have Kevin and do whatever she wants with him.' Some sort of giant/human don't ask, don't tell was heavily implied.”

“It sounds like your village got the short end of the elders stick.”

“That's not for me to say, but I did find their logic entirely penetrable.”

“Well you can just go back and tell them thanks, but no thanks.”

“About that.” 

“It was nice meeting you, Kevin. If your village is ever threatened again don't hesitate to call.” Ressadriand placed Kevin on the beach and leaned back into her bath.

“ … uh, giant.”

“My name is Ressadriand.” 

“The thing is, Ressadriand, I wasn't so much selected as sentenced.”

“You're a criminal?” This was just getting better and better.

“Technically, yes.”
“What did you do?”

“I tried to steal Carla.”

“That's a capital offense?”

“Carla's owner is an elder. And a dick.”

“So if I send you back …” Ressadriand drew her finger across her throat.

“Probably.”

Ressadriand cupped several dozen gallons of lake into her giant hands and splashed them over her face. She let the water cool away the worst edges of her anger at the situation she was in. She wasn't about to become an executioner for anybody, let alone a human settlement. And the thought of keeping Kevin as some sort of slave went against her oaths and the core beliefs that had led her to take those oaths in the first place. The water dripped from her face as she decided her and Kevin's future while Kevin nervously paced on the beach.

“I suppose I could use a new squire,” she finally said. “If you want the job. I'm not going to force you to take it.”

“I'll be the best. I promise.”

“Get down on your knees facing me,” she ordered.

He obeyed.

“Be it known on this day that I, Dame Ressadriand of the Southern Order, have accepted Kevin into my service as my squire. I pledge to him that I will protect and provide for him to the best of my power and ability so long as he in in my service.”

Ressadriand had directed that part to the sky. Kevin wasn't certain if that was for show or if the giant knight was making oaths to her goddess. Ressadriand turned her gaze downward to Kevin.

“Kevin, do you accept my authority over you?”

It took the human a couple beats for the question to penetrate. The intensity of the giant woman's stare distracted him from her words.

“…yes.”

“Do you bind yourself into my service, promising to obey my every wish and order?”

“Yes.”

“Are you any good at giving massages?”

“The best.”

“Then hop up here and start working on my neck, squire.”

“Yes, Ma'am.” 

Ressadriand picked her new squire up and settled him behind her head. Kevin threaded his legs through her necklace until his butt came to rest on the chain. His white sacrificial robes were just thick enough to keep the heavy chain from digging into his tender backside. Ressadriand lowered her hair back into its usual position. The tiny squire was plunged into darkness, but he didn't need to see to massage a neck as large as his knight's. Kevin hummed as he worked and Ressadriand found the sound pleasing.

“Take your time, Kevin. It's been a long day and I'm not getting out of this bath until I have prune hands.”

Ressadriand could barely feel Kevin's tiny hands knead her tight muscles, but after several minutes the cumulative effect was making her feel more relaxed than she had been in weeks. Maybe having a squire wasn't going to be the chore she expected it to be.

Kevin was still underneath Ressadriand's hair when the shadow passed overhead. 

“Kevin. Do you think you can wrap the chain you're resting on around your waist so you don't fall off if I suddenly move?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Do it.”

“Done,” Kevin said. He wound up twisting himself into the chain. 

“I need you to be brave, Kevin. The dragon's back. I just saw him fly by overhead. The next time he passes he's going to attack. I don't have time to get you any place safer than you are right now. I don't even have time to put my armor back on. My sword's been acided into uselessness. My dagger's too far away to help. I don't know if I can win, but I promise you the only way that dragon is going to get to you is through me and it's going to have to rip my heart out of my chest to do that. But I need to focus on the dragon so I need you to not freak out. Can you do that?”

“yes”

Ressadriand reached out of the lake with both hands and grabbed the two largest trees she could. She barely had to flex her forearms to uproot the giant oaks. They weren't her mother's sword, but at least she wasn't going into this unarmed.

The shadow of the dragon wheeled around again seeming to grow larger as it got closer. Ressadriand stood in the lake holding her makeshift clubs out ready to strike the incoming foe.

“Ensign Ng and Cruz to engineering.”

The alien voice began and ended with an electronic beep.

“Order received.” Ressadriand said. “Computer, end simulation.”

The dragon disappeared. The lake Ressadriand was standing up to her knees in disappeared. Everything vanished except for the two ensigns, but even they were changed. For one thing they were now both wearing black and yellow uniforms. Then there was the matter of scale.

Kevin stood almost as tall as the door leading out of the VR room; Ressadriand barely came up to his ankles.

“Just when it was getting good,” she said, looking at her now empty hands. “It'll be months before we can book this again.”

“I'm sure Counsellor Akopian can get us another booking,” he said. “How are you doing?”

“It felt so good being the big one. For the first time since the accident I didn't feel useless.”

“You're not.” Kevin knelt down and offered her a hand to step into.

“Face it. You drew the short straw in the wife lottery.” She walked onto his palm. “One to beam up.”

He smiled at her joke.

“I couldn't disagree with you more.” Kevin lifted her up level with his face. “Not many women would face down an acid breathing dragon for me. You are the best wife in the galaxy. As far as I'm concerned this ship is on a mission to prove that you're the best wife in ALL the galaxies.”

She leaned forward and gave him a kiss on his giant cheek.

“What was it like for you?” she asked needing to change the subject.

“I think it was good for me to experience things from your perspective. Sorta. Maybe next time we can run a program where everything is bigger than me. A little closer to what you go through every day.”

“Screw that, I got a dragon to slay.”

“It was a little weird feeling that …” he grasped for the right word.

“Helpless?” she offered.

“… protected. If you feel half as safe when I'm holding you then I'm doing something right.”

This time her kiss landed on his giant lips.

“Any day now, ensigns.” Lt. Dekker's sarcasm came through the comms.

Ressadriand let out a long sigh. “Duty calls.”

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