A prince trades freedom for the life of a giantess' pet to avoid an arranged marriage.
|Tor worked her horse in the round pen. The big black stallion had come a long way since her brothers had thrown her onto his back and let him go. He still had his quirks, like being prone to biting and kicking, but that was the downsides of having a stud. And she wasn't about to alter that. He had a good body, big chest and would make great foals. He would never make a racing horse, the kind her brothers liked to breed. No, he would do one better for this rugged life they lived. He would throw foals with a head for cattle. She saw the way he watched the steers and had even set him loose in a pen with them at one time. It was amazing that a half-wild stud who had never seen a cow could work a herd so well. He stayed with any steer he was put on and didn't let up until he was signaled.
She brought the stud in and held out her hand. A delighted smile stretched across her face when he eagerly pressed muzzle into her palm. "Good boy," she gushed. "Look at you, all nice and mild-mannered now." She yanked her hand away when his lipping became too rough and involved teeth. "Well, mostly. We're gonna show those stupid boys up. We're gonna ride back in to camp with you all gleamed and groomed and me sitting high and pretty on your back." She sighed and rested her head on his forehead. "I need to go get the princeling. He should be ready to ride now. And you are definitely ready to be ridden."
She straightened and fondly scratched his forelock. "Tomorrow we'll go get the princeling." She led him from the pen and turned him into a small paddock. As far as he had come, he was still in a pain in the ass to catch in a large field. So she left him in the paddock or a stall when she had plans for a quick-start in the morning. With Idiot fed and watered, she headed back into town. Farris was a small town, just big enough to have a supply store, a livery and an inn. Tor had been making use of all three during her stay. She had sent a letter to Settlement so Mick would know where she was if he got there before she left this town.
No word had come. That irritated her. With the herds, it was probably a three-week trip to Settlement from where they had been camped. Without, it would only take a week of fast riding. To the town she had left her princeling in, it was perhaps a day of an easy ride. She didn't know where her brothers were. She didn't know where her herd was. She missed her bed, her bathing tub, and all her spices for cooking. The meals that the inn served weren't terrible, but she could do a far sight better with the right spices.
On her way through town, she stopped off at the supply store. There, she purchased some heavier clothes for the coming winter. As well as some good feed for Idiot. It would last her until the next stop she made. She knew of a few towns along the way before she reached settlement. She purchased a good, strong braided rope. There was the possibility of catching strays, horses and cattle, along the way. Both of those would go a long way for her. She wanted to get Idiot shod, but when the blacksmith had tried to fit him for a shoe, the damn horse had pulled his leg from the man and kicked him in the butt. Tor's laughing didn't help. She had warned the blacksmith about Idiot's tendencies to kick, but he had blown her off as a "woman talking." Afterwards, he had refused to try again.
Idiot had run the range for several years unshod before she caught him. A few more weeks wouldn't hurt. She walked into the supply store again, checking every inch of the store to see if there was anything she liked or needed. A new display caught her eye. One for humans. There was a bedroll, a pack and a coat for winter. Interesting. The princeling would probably like those. She pursed her lips in thought. But he doesn't need them since he'll stay with me all the time. She turned to leave, having decided not to buy anything for her human pet. A small part of her paused her steps and made her think twice over her decision.
The next morning, she tacked up her stud and pulled herself into the saddle. "Alright, let's go get the princeling." She turned him out of the town and gigged his sides lightly. He responded eagerly and broke into a lope. She slowed him down a little later, around noon, before stopping for lunch. She ground tied him as she refreshed herself in the stream. When she led him in, laughter escaped when he decided to splash and play instead of drink. After a couple minutes of playtime, he finally settled down and drank his fill of water. She swung back into the saddle and headed out once more. It was well into the night when the little town came into sight. Tor was determined to get her human back. When he had screamed at the top of his lungs, calling her name as they rebroke and set his legs, she was ready to tear the building down and take him to another doctor. It took every ounce of self-control she had to not do just that. Especially when the doctor came out and had the nerve to scold her for letting him break his legs and not attending to his injuries when she first realized he had been hurt.
Instead of crushing the foolish human into a pulp, she turned and left. She would give the stupid doctor time to heal her princeling. If he couldn't heal him, then the old codger would be a sacrifice to her stomach. She rode into town and stopped just outside the doctor's office. She wasn't surprised when he came out and glared up at her. The lantern he held provided just enough light for her to see him by. She held Idiot on a tight rein, making him fidget and prance in place, as she spoke.
"Where is my princeling? Did you fix him?" Her voice was as flat as her gaze.
"It took a lot of effort, but he's physically healed. I just took his casts off this morning. You still need to be gentle with him. He can't handle long rides just yet." Tor snorted and Idiot pawed at the ground in frustration as the reins were gathered even tighter. The doctor glowered. "But you abandoning him here for over a month has weakened his mind. He thought you had dumped him in a strange town with a head wound and two broken legs. You ought to be ashamed of doing that to the boy!"
Tor's glower matched the doctor's. "I don't need your lecture on morals of the mind. I had my own business to take care of. I tasked you with fixing him. All I care is that he can ride with me." She leaned forward as Idiot reared, screamed and came back down with an earth-shaking landing. The doctor stumbled and fell. His assistant rushed out and helped him up. "Bring me my princeling," Tor commanded.
"Tor, you should not be so rude to the good doctor. I am right here." Eric stepped into the glow cast by the old lantern. He was walking with a cane, but he no longer had to use the crutches and his legs were not weighted down by casts. He looked up to her as Idiot calmed and finally stood still. "I thought you had abandoned me."
"I don't abandon my responsibilities," she snapped. "I left you to be healed. Not to reside here permanently." Her violet eyes, warmed by the little bit of light that reached them, sized up the human. "Are you ready, Princeling?"
Eric blinked. "Now? Tor, it's nearly midnight. You cannot see far enough to ride safely, even with the moon and stars."
She rolled her eyes. "I am here to take you, whether you are ready or not. If you have anything you want in there, get it now. I'll put it with the rest of your things."
The young man turned to the doctor and assistant. "Thank you," he said as he shook their hands. "You have been most kind and your town very welcoming. Now I must take my leave." He walked slowly back inside and gathered his few belongings. He double checked that he had his medicine and packed everything in the small, old duffel he had been given. He slung it over his shoulder and hobbled back outside. Tor had swung down from Idiot and was crouched in the street.
The doctor and his assistant were missing. Tor was playing with something in her mouth. Eric watched in shock as she tilted her head back and two little bulges slid down her throat. He shuddered involuntarily. They had been kind to him. She had swallowed them, eaten them, sentenced them to death by way of her stomach, simply for talking back to her. Another shudder ran through his body when her cold, violet eyes landed on him.
"Ready?" At his reluctant nod, she scooped him into her hand and pulled herself back into the saddle. With the reins gathered in her free hand, she turned Idiot out of the little town. She kept Eric cradled to her chest as the massive horse carried them across the land. He said nothing and neither did she.
Chapter 1: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2108755-A-Charmed-Life-Chapter-1
Chapter 2: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2108759-A-Charmed-Life-Chapter-2
Chapter 3: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2108766-A-Charmed-Life-Chapter-3
Chapter 4: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2108768-A-Charmed-Life-Ch-4
Chapter 5: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2108769-A-Charmed-Life-Chapter-5
Chapter 7: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2117396-A-Charmed-Life-Ch-7