A Matter of Small Consequence

“You’re making quite the mess.”

Saida paused mid-step, looking around for the speaker. The voice had the timbre and pitch of a littleunsurprising, given that the Rha was the only giantess in sight.

On a balcony to her left, about six stories up: a stag, leaning on the railing and looking up at her. He’d be well over six feet high by local standards, even discounting the antlers. Handsome by local standards, too: slim waist and broad shoulders, casual but fashionable in tan chinos and untucked short sleeve shirt. She’d gotten used to the occasional bold onlooker when she took walks through cities, but all but the most daring remained furtiveand decidedly less confrontational with a feline woman who, to them, stood over eighty feet high.

“A mess?” She lowered her sandaled paw down to the street and looked behind her. As usual, pedestrians had filed out into the street starting a block back to gawk at her, but no one had been flattened under her step. She rarely did that on accident, and despite morbid jokes to the contrary, she wasn’t so big compared to littles that she could do that without noticing. “I don’t see any damage I’ve done.”

“I’m sure you don’t.” He gestured languidly. “But the streets are empty of traffic. Not just the one you’re strolling down, but all the cross streets. You have no idea what happens in your wake, do you, Saida? The traffic jams, the repairs on damaged utility lines or old streets and sidewalks, even theft when store owners get distracted by the sight of shapely forty-foot-high legs strolling past. Not that they aren’t distracting, along with all the rest of you. Strawberry blonde curls, emerald eyes, magnificent curves. You’re quite the stunning nightmare.”

Her tail lashed unbidden in irritation, smashing into the building across the street and brushing across its front. “You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”

She wondered if he’d dare, but he didn’t seem the least fazed. “Kenley.”

“It sounds like you’re stalking me, Kenley. Why? To catalog all my sins?” Her scowl exposed her fangs slightly.

The stag grinned easily, maddeningly unbothered by teeth the size of his forearm. “In my own fashion. Your sins, if you’d like to call them that, are ones of omission.” He swept his arm to indicate the road behind her again. “Your mere passing has a high cost, and it’s one you never have to think about. No will ever hand you a massive repair bill.”

She followed his gesture again. That wasn’t a smoke plume back there, was it? If it was, she didn’t think it was her doing. Fires started without giants all the time.

He continued. “And grieving families surely aren’t going to confront you about someone who wasn’t fast enough not to end up under a carelessly placed sandal. Or a deliberately placed one.” He wasn’t smiling anymore. “And don’t tell me people my size haven’t become cat food. Barely snacks.”

“Mostly just the ones I’ve met who can come back from it.”

“Ah, yes. There are a few in this land.” He looked thoughtful. “Yet I’d imagine even under those circumstances, being swallowed whole and digested alive isunpleasant. And I did catch that ‘mostly.’”

Saida clenched a fist, leaning over. “I make exceptions for littles who insist on being profoundly annoying.”

He didn’t look frightened. If anything, his expression shifted to something that would frighten her if she were on his scale. “Even most of the ‘nice’ giants make exceptions, don’t they.” His tone made it a statement rather than a question.

She drew back, nonplussed. “Look, I’ve never claimed to be nice, but I’m hardly a monster. If I was such a murderous force there’d be people coming after me with heavy weaponry. I’m not invincible.”

“Invincible? Oh, no.” He thrust his hands in his pockets. “You’re certainly not.”

Saida had had quite enough. She reached down toward him, tail lashing. “Look, you little

Everything became a vertiginous blur, her stomach lurching queasily. As she lost her balance, falling to her knees, only the deer’s voice remained constant, now louder yet impossible to locate. “Oh, I was so hoping you’d do that.”

What in the hell did he just do? She steadied herself on all fours, trying not to throw up. Goddess, that’d be a nightmare for the littles to clean up. Who knows what damage she’d just done by fallingnot as if anyone had ever dared to present her with a bill, but crashing into buildings was so…graceless. She didn’t feel any rubble under her hands and knees, though. Good. She shook her head woozily, trying to clear her vision, and staggered to her feet.

Wait. Where was she? Did he just teleport her to her home country? She stood on a wide sidewalk, running along a low wall a few inches taller than she was. Or a few feet, if she was still in little territory. A wide black, rocky field stretched off from the sidewalk’s edge. Tar? She squinted, running a hand through her hair. Another sidewalk and low wall stood on the other side, although she could make out a long opening. A cave? No, too regular. She frowned, feeling the fur on the back of her neck prickle. The buildings across the field weren’t right. It all looked likelike

Something rumbled in the distance, the ground vibrating, and all at once it became a roar, an earthquake, a vast something hurtling toward her along the field at an impossible speed. She screamed, pressing herself against the wall, shielding her face from the hurricane blast of wind, then peeked through her fingers at the rapidly receding

Go on, say it to yourself.

rapidly receding car.

No, this can’t be right. You’re a giantess. You’re not huddled against a curb taller than you are, like you were a little who’d somehow ended up in Rha territory.

She swallowed hard, forcing herself to look across the fieldacross the streetand then up, up, up at the building she’d been reaching toward. The deer’s balcony had been chest high to her. Sixty feet up, but now it looked closer to a thousand.

Another car roared past, and again she failed to bite back a scream. A plastic bottle big enough for her to crawl inside blew by in its wake. She had to get out of the street. Taking a deep breath, Saida scrambled up the curb to the sidewalk.

The landscape changed here, both familiar and terrifyingly alien. The cracks in the sidewalk between the stones were large enough to force wide steps over them. A nearby trash can looked like a towering ruin, drab green paint flaked with rust and stained black with foul-smelling leaks. Freshly mowed grass along the sidewalk’s edge, yards away, stood nearly hip high to her. And Goddess, she could hear something moving in the grass! She had to be five or six inches high, at least, so hopefully too tough for most insects. But if she met a snake she was done for. Or a bird of prey. She looked up at the sky, over at the closest towering tree, and felt her ears fold back into her hair.

Okay, she could…she could what? Get the attention of a pedestrian? She saw some off in the distance, but would that be a good idea? She knew how most Rha thought of Liliren, the mouse creatures the size that she appeared to be now: more than animals but less than people. A Liliren running around squeaking frantically for help would more likely than not simply be ignored. And while a kind Rha might crouch down and listen, a cruel one might bewell. Like her sociopathic cousin, even if Arilin was supposedly all better now.

But not like her, damn it all. Yes, she’d be one of the ones who just stepped around a screaming Liliren, but since she started traveling in little-populated areas like this she’d become kinder. She had! She swallowed, banishing thoughts of times she’d been less kind. Come on, when you’re over eighty feet high who could blame you for having some fun with your power? Of course, who’d dare to blame someone they were nose-to-ankle with?

And where the hell was the stag? Why wasn’t he out enjoying his horrible handiwork, trying to catch her himself now? Had he just left her to fend on her own?

A loud bark snapped her to attention. One of the pedestrians had gotten closer, now withinno, not a hundred yards; twenty or twenty-five feet. A mouse, irony of ironies, who looked about her age. Handsome but distracted, talking on the phone in one hand, not watching his step. Even more perilously, not watching the four-legged, non-anthro husky walking beside him. The dog barked again, eyes locked onto the tiny Rha, and leapt forward, barely restrained by the leash. Oh, Goddess, it was enormous.

“Stop it, Midnight,” the mouse commanded, eyes barely flicking ahead. “It’s just a rat.”

What? No! “I’m not a rat!” she yelled, waving both hands frantically over her head. But he was back to his phone conversation. She was only talking to the husky, who growled, straining against his leash. The mouse walked on at a pace she might have found brisk even were they the same size. Now it was frighteningly fast. If she moved, she’d have no chance of getting the giant’s attention, but if she didn’t move

She sprinted for the trashcan. That would take her closer to that terrifying dog, for just a moment, but she needed cover fast and wasn’t about to risk the grass.

The husky growled in excitement, lunging hard enough to pull his owner a step toward her. Forepaws wider than her torso slammed down to either side. She tumbled and scrambled for shelter, feeling the husky’s warm breath right on her back, hearing teeth snap just overhead. As the dog barked deafeningly, she made it under the metal “roof” of the waste bin, whirling around in a crouch.

She found herself staring right into the husky’s open mouth, at the stalagmite lower teeth, the huge tongue leading to the black cavern of its throat. Run run run run run. But she couldn’t move, terror locking her muscles in place even as the tongue swept out toward her, against her front

All her nerves lit up, and she let out a low, trembling moan.

“Midnight, leave it alone!” the owner’s voice thundered from on high. The dog abruptly jerked backward, and Saida fell to her knees, dripping with saliva and trying to catch her breath, staring up at the glistening teeth, fighting an insane urge to leap toward them. She barely registered the dog’s disappointed whine as its master dragged it away.

What in the fucking hell. She hadn’t stopped being terrified, but the moment that hot, wet tongue touched her she’d feltdear Goddess, she’d felt like one of the littles she and her cousin had joked about, the ones who must secretly (or even not-so-secretly) want to be eaten or stepped on, the ones so clearly turned on by their potential predators you wondered how many psychology masters’ theses could be wrung from them. Dammit, she wasn’t like that! She’d wondered about swapping sizes with giants, yes, all right, but she’d never once fantasized aboutaboutabout that.

She got to her feet and forced the thoughts away. No. She was losing her mind, and she couldn’t afford to do that. She’d never get out of this if she didn’t keep it together.

More pedestrians passed by, but she didn’t have the nerve to step out. Not yet. She looked down the sidewalk in both directions, then across the street.

Kenley stood there now, arms folded loosely, looking in her direction but not at her. He’d lost track of her, hadn’t he? He’d used some kind of crazy magic on her, waited until she’d had enough time to get completely panicked, then only now deigned to come out to see if she’d died. She shouldshe shouldno. What she should do was get his attention and ask what she needed to do to be changed back. And to figure out how to convince him that she wouldn’t thank him by immediately stomping him to deerskin.

She moved to the edge of the curb, facing across the street, and took a deep breath. Then she yelled at the top of her far too tiny lungs. “Hey!” She waved both arms over her head. “Hey!”

The stag didn’t snap his attention to her as much as let it drift back her way. Then he smiled. It wasn’t a nice smile.

“Change me back!” she yelled.

He uncrossed his arms and put a hand to his ear.

Oh, for She glanced down the sidewalk nervously, seeing if she’d attracted any attention, then flinched as an SUV roared past. As the road grew quieter again, she tried to raise her voice another decibel or two. “Please! I’m sorry!” She didn’t know what she was sorry for, but never mind. “Please change me back!”

He pointed at his ear and shook his head, then cupped his hands to his muzzle. “I can’t hear you,” he called. “You’ll have to come over here.”

What? Was he serious? “I can’t!” she screamed, gesturing wildly at the road, then with both hands at an approaching truck.

After the truck went by, the stag simply smiled again and motioned her toward him. Then he folded his arms and looked expectant.

Oh, you damn smug fucking…but she didn’t have much choice in the matter, did she? Ears flat against her head, she climbed off the curb onto the street again. When I do stomp him to deerskin, I’ve got to make sure the antlers aren’t facing up.

The street looked well over a football field wide, and it had no median. But it had room for curb parking on the deer’s side, and no one had taken advantage of it nearby. She should be able to make it two-thirds of the way across the road, past the traffic lanes, in…what, ten or eleven seconds?

She looked back and forth. No vehicles coming. A car on her right, the far side of the road, but it looked pretty far away. Another deep breathandgo!

The surface wasn’t as easy to run on as she’d thought. It might be smooth by asphalt standards, but to an under six-inch-high Rha the surface was rough, uneven. Bottle caps pressed into the roadway by the weight of passing cars looked like dented manhole covers, nauseating reminders of what would happen if she were hit. No, don’t focus on that, focus on the far curb. It’s getting closer. Closer

A noise from the right snapped her attention back to the car. It had been pretty far away, but it wasn’t anymore. Goddess, didn’t the driver see there wasthere wassome little thing in the road? Run fasterno, you won’tbackoh

Saida threw herself flat to the ground as the car screamed by overhead, wheels to either side of her. After it passed by she remained perfectly still, her held breath replaced by a heaving gasp. Pushing herself back to her feet, she scurried the rest of the way to the opposite curb, close to where the damned stag was.

As she pulled herself up to the sidewalk, she sucked in her breath. She stood just inches from Kenley’s closest hoof. Abstractly, she knew his foot would be bigger than her whole body, but each of the two hoofed toes looked bigger, too. From this vantage point the hooves were oddly more attractive than she’d ever considered them in the past, more elegant. Also, more terrifying.

She swallowed. Looking like she was in control of the situation was right out, but she could at least look like she was in control of herself, couldn’t she? She straightened up to her full (ha!) height and took a step back, away from the curb.

He took a casual step forward with his other foot, swinging it overhead just high enough that she could see the underside of those hoofed toes. Despite her intent to look up at his face, she found herself tracking the movement, her ears involuntarily folding back in her hair as it settled to her other side. He’d framed her between the hoofs; she’d have to step back again to see anything of him but his legs.

“Barely,” he said.

“What?” She tilted her head up. All right, she’d have to step back to see anything of him but his legs and crotch.

“Whether I’d feel it if I stepped on you.” He kept his voice casual, not threatening. No, not just casual, distinctly amused. “I see the question in your tiny eyes. The answer is yes. But barely.”

She took several careful steps back, head still tilted up, still staring at his

“Ah, I see a different question now, Saida.” He grinned, leaning over to put his hands on his knees, and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Bigger than your whole little body.”

Heat rose in her ears. “Please just change me back. I’m sorry.”

Kenley moved into a crouch. His antlers looked enormous, a bone jungle gym. “For what?”

“I…” He hadn’t directly accused her of anything, other than being a giantess. “For being careless sometimes. For being mean sometimes. I don’t know! I didn’t know you were a magician!”

“So what you mean is you’re sorry for making the wrong person angry.”

“Just tell me what you want.” She didn’t even try to keep the desperation out of her voice.

He laughed, and reached a hand down for her. “Now what were you planning to do to me if you’d grabbed me off my balcony?”

Saida took a step back, ears flat, then another.

He paused his hand. “Now, now. If you successfully got away from me, thenwhat? How long do you think you’ll last? You were nearly eaten by someone’s pet dog a few minutes ago.”

Her eyes widened. ’You saw that?" she spluttered. “Why, you

His fingers closed around her, the hoof-capped fingers hard as battering rams. “You what?” He kept his eyes on her as he slowly stood up.

She squirmed in his grip. “Are you trying to get me killed?”

“You’re doing a fine job of that on your own, little cat.” He started walking back into his apartment building, holding her as casually as if she were a soda can. “It looked like it was all you could do to restrain yourself from climbing into that husky’s mouth.” He stepped into an elevator and mashed a button. “Why, it looked almost…sexual.” He studied her with a knowing grin.

She clenched her fists. “What…did you…”

“I rewrote the rules.” The elevator doors opened again, and he stepped out.

“What does that mean?”

Opening a door, he took her into an apartment. She twisted around in his grip, trying to study it, but didn’t get a good look until he sat down on a couch, setting her down on the end table. Spare but tasteful, expensive but not ostentatious, all pleasantly neutral colors but for vivid pieces of abstract art on the wall.

“I’m not a magician. At least, that’s not what I call it.” He rested his hands in his lap, looking down at her. “You can think of it as bending the framework of the universe into new, more interesting shapes. That sounds woefully pretentious, I know, but I’m afraid I don’t have any more apt way of putting it.”

“So you’re saying you justrewrote reality to make me doll-sized?”

“To make you as small to me as I was to you, yes.” He grinned, leaning forward. “And go on, tell me what my other change was.”

She swallowed. “I don’t…it’s like…” She closed her eyes, grimacing. “It’s saliva, isn’t it? You made it so spit turns me on.”

He clapped his hands in delight. “Good girl.”

She stared up. “Why?”

“It adds to the turn of the table.” He spread his hands. “From giant to little. From being turned on by eating someone to being turned on by…”

“That’s disgusting!”

“I prefer ironic.” He leaned back into the sofa cushions, and started to undo his belt.

“What…” She trailed off, staring. His belt loop was just below her eye level.

“Oh, do relax. I’m simply going to command you to strip, and, well, as small as you are, you are quite attractive.”

“I’m not going to take off my clothes for you!”

Kenley tilted his head. “Of course you are.” His tone didn’t have a hint of threat to it; it was as if her nudity before him was as eventual as the weather.

Saida remained still, other than her lashing tail. Giving in that easily was an anathema, but she’d been the giant in similar situations, and the number of times the little didn’t ultimately do what she wanted was, as far as she recalled, zero. Granted, she was a better at the catching flies with honey game than Kenley seemed to be, and

Abruptly his hand curled behind her and he leaned over the table, huge nose pressed to her face. As she started to splutter, his jaws parted, and the thick tongue dragged slowly up her front with enough force to lift her off the table.

As he spoke, she could barely make out his murmur over her own gasping. “Think about what that will be like after you take off your clothes.” He straightened up. “Strip. Now.”

Saida closed her eyes, tail lashing faster, more forcefully. She didn’t want to want this as much as she did. Eventually the giant always wins, though, doesn’t he? So it might as well be sooner rather than later.

As soon as her denim shorts joined her T-shirt, the hand cupped behind her again. This time he moved casually, deliberately, and the tongue slid from her legs all the way up to her face, curling just enough to show off its flexibility, molding just enough to feel like it might pull off the panties and bra she’d left on. The difference in the fire running through her now compared to what she felt with the dog, or just with Kenley’s past lick, was the difference between a match and a blowtorch.

“That was a delicious moan,” he whispered, lips right by her face.

Moan? Had she moaned? Goddess. “I…”

“Everything about you is delicious. I’m glad you weren’t wasted outside.”

Her ears folded back into her hair. She didn’t like those implications at all. “Uh, now, wait

She felt his fingers close around her left leg and lift up. She tipped forward, missing smacking her face into the end table only because of the speed she rose at. The room whirled by in a kaleidoscope, a blur of furniture and paintings and huge stag, the motion ending with her dangling upside down near those antlers.

Kenley tilted his head back, looking up at her. “Come now, Saida. Between you and me, I hope that when I eventually depart this mortal coil, I do it in as spectacular a fashion as sliding down a throat as pretty as yours. You might be a little too arrogant and a little too callous, but I think you deserve the same quality of fate, don’t you?”

“No!” She started twisting around, flailing, but he held her leg perfectly immobile between those hoof-capped fingers. She might as well have been trapped in cement. “You can’t!”

He smiled, voice remaining maddeningly gentle, almost affectionate. “I can. I am.” He began to lower his fingers. “And there’s nothing you can do about it, little one.” His jaws parted widely, and warm, sweetly vegetal breath blew over her like a foreboding wind.

She’d never looked into a deer’s mouth, not closely. Despite being blunt, the teeth didn’t look much less frightening from this vantage point as she imagined wolf teeth would. And did his cheeks have spines on the inside? She could see down his throat. She started to scream

Kenley’s tongue thrust out, sliding against her front and curling lithely between her legs to wrap around her free leg. Her scream merged into a squeaky moan.

He let go with his fingers, pulling his tongueand his Rhadown between his lips. They closed behind her, sealing her in the heat and the dark and the damp. He began to suck on her as if she were a piece of warm, wriggling candy.

Face against his tongue, she twisted around and tried to take in enough breath to scream, to beg, but found herself choking on the sticky saliva. She could taste it, a faint earthiness. No, body, don’t react like this, you can’t react like this. But it could, and it was, and there was nothing she could do about that, either.

His head slowly tilted back, but she couldn’t tell what angle she was atthe tongue forced her bodily against his cheek, pushing her chest past those fearful teeth and making her curl up awkwardly. While the Rha made a big mouthful, her whole body was still smaller than that dreadful, wonderful tongue. The “spines” against the cheek lining weren’t sharp, but they sank into her fur, almost clutching at her to hold her in place while the tongue continued its assault. She pushed with all her strength against it, strength that would have brought down buildings this morning but did less than nothing now.

No, it did one thing: it kept her from pulling the tongue against her, from clenching her legs around it. If she stayed scared and angry, maybe she wouldn’t give him what he wanted. Maybe he’d get bored. Maybe he’d let her go. But her fur was soaked with saliva now, hair matted against her face; her bra had become unhooked in his toying with her, and her nipples had become achingly hard. If she gave into the temptation to rip it off, if she ripped off her panties, if she just gave him what he was going to take anyway

Then he swallowed. The force yanked her wetly from the cheek, tumbling forward. A flood of saliva rushed over and under and past her, sliding her helplessly head-first toward that throat. The swallow finished with her face over the back of his tongue, pressed against the throat’s flesh as it closed just before it took her. Her bra had been lost, now in the stag’s stomach waiting for its owner to join it. Her scream went unheard in the pleased mmmmm noise he made, vibrating her whole body.

As she scrabbled for purchase to pull herself backward, that maddening tongue started undulating beneath her, lifting, squeezing her against the stag’s ridged palate.

Working up more saliva.

She couldn’t stop herself. Each press of the tongue made her shiver and buck, made her spread her legs fractionally to invite it. Oh, she felt the flesh slide against her, slide her against it, tauntingly increase its tempofelt and heard the increasingly lewd noises the stag was making, felt his breathing get faster. Goddess, was he getting off? The bastard

The curled tongue tip shoved hard against her sex, force enough to push her head further into his throat. Her eyes widened in the darkness and she let out a strangled scream, willing herself desperately not to push back against it, not to meet the pulsing of the tongue with backward thrusts of her own, not to give him the satisfaction of climaxing for him while he ate her, notnotohh!not

She spasmed, hard, and kept spasming as the tongue kept thrusting, kept spasming as he tilted his head back so far she could tell she was upside down. Kept spasming as the next hard swallow pulled her down into his throat up to her hips.

Saida tried to scream once more, but couldn’t. This wasn’twasn’t like she’d pictured it for her prey. The muscles around her weren’t merely snug, they were crushingly tight, too strong for her to even draw breath against. The fire in her loins burned no less brightly than a moment ago, but the adrenaline surge she felt now stemmed from pure fear.

Kenley’s groan shook her body, and he swallowed again.

The pressure of his throat increased rather than lessened, and Saida couldn’t move a single muscle as peristalsis slid her down to the waiting stomach. Waves of pain shot through her as she was pushed through the esophageal sphincter and landed in a heap amidst thick choppy muck. The air smelled wrong, poisonous; she felt lightheaded. She tried to push herself up into a sitting position in the heat and the absolute darkness, but her abused body barely responded. Even so, nothing remained still: the walls flexed, churning the muck over her, her with the muck. She was part of the muck. She was cud.

Cud. This wasn’t digestive fluid, not yet. He could still bring her up, couldn’t he? Deer could do that, couldn’t they?

“I’m sorry!” she screamed hoarsely. “Please! I’ll do anything!”

The screaming hurt, too, and she couldn’t work up full volume. But would that even matter? She couldn’t remember ever hearing someone speak inside her, only scream. Her only answer from Kenley was the ominous gurgle of actual digestion a stomach chamber or two behind her, and the distant, thunderous beat of the giant’s heart.

She summed all her remaining strength to slide herself up a wall and beat on it, once. And again. Maybe she could be an unpleasant meal. A third time

The stomach chamber contracted, sending her and the rest of the muck through another sphincter, slamming her into a honeycombed wall of flesh. The thin, sour air stung in here; so did the sludge already waiting in this chamber. She hadn’t gone up, she’d gone deeper.

And that, she was pretty sure, was that.

She’d always pictured a stomach as a chamber of flesh with a pool of liquid that foodor hapless littlessplashed around in. But it wasn’t that cartoonish. This stuff was everywhere, dripping from above, soaking into her fur from the sides, making her constantly wipe her face. It wasn’t dissolving her but it felt disquietingly tingly. And it was so, so very hot here.

Saida didn’t remember when she passed out, but unimaginable pain snapped her back to wakefulness in the stomach’s final chamber. It was less a pool than a churning cauldron of thick molasses-like chyme, sticky and burning and inescapable, full of soft pieces of increasingly digested food tumbling against her. Pieces of increasingly digested food just like her.

She screamed and kept screaming as she drowned, as she liquefied, as she sat bolt upright in dazzling light

Taking a gasping, heaving breath, it took her a moment to realize she was sucking in cool, clean air, and the light was that of the sun. It had just been a nightmare. A disquietingly coherent, painfully vivid nightmare. But this wasn’t her bed. Was this grass? Was she in a park?

“Welcome back.”

Oh, Goddess. Her ears folded down into her hair. As her eyes adjusted to the light and the world began to come into focus, she stared up at Kenley. At least he was no longer a giant to herwait, he was on her scale! Were they both small? Both giant?

He crouched by her. They were both giant, she decided; he looked closer to a full hundred feet high.

“It appears you’re one of the ones who comes back from being digested alive yourself, Saida.” He lowered his voice to an amused conspiratorial whisper. “At least, you are now.”

She stared up. “What…what did you do?”

“I changed the rules so you didn’t end your life in my stomach. Say thank you.”

Saida swallowed. “Th-thank you.”

“Good girl. But say ‘sir’ next time.” Kenley grinned. “And I’m leaving you with that gift. Of course, once it gets out that you’ll return from being eaten or stepped on or whatever creative things other giants and strange little superbeings might do to you, it might be more of a curse. We’ll see.”

“You can just…snap your fingers and do that.”

He laughed. “For all you know I have the power to eat this whole planet like an apple, then snap my fingers and bring it all back with no one in the world the wiser.” He leaned down and whispered into her ear. “For all you know, I already have.”

She flinched back. “Why are you doing this to me?”

He touched a finger to her nose. “Because frankly, my dear, this crazy world is full of beings with too much power and too little self-control, and it needs someone to act as a countervailing force.”

“I’m still a giantess.” She swallowed again, tail lashing, unable to keep from snapping back at him. “It’s not as if people are going to go around shoving me down their throats just because it suits your whim. Sir.”

“If it suits my whim, they’ll do exactly that. But we both know you’ll run into people who find the notion of eating a giantess intriguing, and have the ability to follow through.” Kenley shrugged. “And if there aren’t enough people like that, maybe I’ll make some.”

She winced.

“Just two more things, Saida.” He touched her shoulder. “This won’t be a permanent change. Some trip down someone’s throator perhaps under someone’s paw or hoofwill be your last. So don’t become complacent. Make your best effort to stay out of…trouble.” He grinned. “If I were you, I’d be especially nervous about animals you think of as prey. I do love irony.”

Her tail lashed faster. “And the second?”

“As you said, you’re a giantess, and that gives you an advantage in not being prey. So the second thing is that I want to remind you this change is permanent.” He leaned down again and licked her cheek, slowly and wetly.

A shiver coursed through her body, concentrating itself between her legs. A soft moan started, and she clapped her hand over her mouth.

Kenley laughed, standing back up.

Jumping to her feet, Saida clenched her fists. “How can you be so hypocritical? You’ve done this to me just because I sometimes take advantage of being a giantess, but no one asked you to be a ‘countervailing force.’ You just think your power gives you the right to do anything with anyone!”

The stag’s smile disappeared, and his casual tone became flat and hard-edged. “Run along now. Little. Cat.” He lifted a hoof, then stomped it back down, grinding it on the grass.

She trembled, then spun around and ran.

February 2016